Monday, November 26, 2007

Turkey, Pie, Espresso and Tea

....these are a few of my favorite things...

We had a very simple and completely relaxed Thanksgiving which made for one of the nicest Thanksgivings of all. It was just us, my parents, Andy, my aunt Donna, uncle Mark and cousin Caitlin which was perfect. Not too much... not too lame. I made two delicious pumpkin pies in successful (and even artistic) pie crusts! Woohoo! I also made a super yummy "Cinnamon, Cranberry and Almond tart" which was a huge hit for the Cranberry enthusiasts in the family. I think my cooking and baking skills have really refined themselves since I married Nick (my toughest critic) and I love cooking (and eating). My favorite response from Nick is, "you could serve that in a Cafe." That is the ultimate compliment. :)

Friday Nick took A. and I to Old Town Alexandria which "Black Friday" sales left somewhat empty. We toured the over-priced antique stores, a nifty toy shoppe, a artsy store with a table I want and our favorite, Coffee, Tea and Spice. Coffee, Tea and Spice is a little shop that has shelves overflowing with large glass jars brimming with loose teas and coffee beans. Other shelves house coffee and tea equipment. I was pleasantly surprised to find a fruity Christmas tea similar to one my friend sent me from Germany. This shop is definately a feast for the senses.

On a final note, Anastasia got her first bump yesterday. She slid on some papers and hit her head on a stump that sits in my parents living room. She screamed bloody murder and has a small line-like bump over her right eye brow. Poor kid. I feel so bad when things hurt her, because she is so used to a pain-free little life. I am sure this won't be the last of her bumps that come as we grow up... but it just serves as a little reminder of how the world changes as we grow older and become more independant. And perhaps as a reminder of how we are people who need a God who will never give us more than we can handle and who will see us through all the bumps in life.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Before I forget,

So every so often, I find a really amazing purchase at the goodwill store. Today it was the above pictured Moka espresso maker. I purchased this unique item for 12.50 (which seemed pricey for a thrift store) and it turned out to be a real gem. It was made in Italy by a company called Ancap (which specializes in porcelain products) and I was amazed to see that similar pots are hard to find in the U.S. and in Italy go for around 70 Euros (thats $103 USD!!!). There are some bizarre looking golden sparrows painted on the pot and the two matching espresso cups which I think are totally artsy and neat looking. Nick and I had been keeping our eyes out for a chic lever espresso machine such as this one by Gaggia:

But unfortunately these go for $450 or more. So I was totally thrilled about my new espresso maker and we enjoyed our first homemade lattes this evening (which is probably why I am posting at midnight right now).

I am also in love with some soap I bought at a craft show last week from YumYum Soaps. It is the honey peach, and after weeks of itching from some allergen in my parents house, this soap gave me some much needed relief. It also smells divinely. And it is American made. So if you, like me, have dry skin or just want some luxurious soap... check this out.

Adding to my previous list, Silly Putty and Slinkys are American made. Legos are being made in the Czech republic and Playmobil is made in Germany. One can never have "too many Legos."

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Baby Baluga in the Deep Blue Sea...

is Anastasia's favorite song now. We have a book from the library that goes along with everybody's favorite raffi song and A. LOVES it when we sing it to her. It is scary how cute she is (pictures of a cute 16 year old Anastasia give me nightmares! AH!)

So I have come up with some ingeninous inventions this week.

First of all I bought a binder and loaded it with page protecters and made it my cook book. It is the perfect solution to all my pages of recipes floating around from and . I am so pleased with my organized book and its wipe-a-bility (though I still need to get some dividers to organize it). So if you are like me and love finding great recipes online... you HAVE to do this.

Next I have decided to go by fabric paint and paint the bottom of Anastasia's socks and slippery shoes in order to make them skid-proof. I will let you know how this one works out.

I made pie crust dough in the food processor last night (which is supposedly the best way to do it) and being that I have never made a "successful" pie crust, I will let you know how it turns out... I am a little aprehensive being that I used Crisco instead of the recommended Lard (which I felt funny asking for at the grocery store, "Do you have any lard?" lol) so we shall see.

On a sad and happy note (it is really somewhat both) we might be moving to the Chicago region. My mom was in tears about it last night but my parents house is not a safe place for Anastasia any more and it is SO FRUSTRATING trying to ask for small favors to help the child-friendly factor. I feel somewhat bad as we will be leaving a very loving and involved family and the place I have almost always lived. But we need our own place and we need it ASAP and cheap.

So that is the news ladies and gents. We may be buying a little house out there this week. I am scared but know that God ultimately has a decision and goal in mind. He has been very good at closing doors lately. So we will see.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Latte Love

Yesterday I met with my good friend Sarah for coffee. There is the most amazing coffee house in downtown Fredericksburg called "Hyperion Espresso" that dominates all over the place (now who do I sound like? lol). They have a definite passion for a good cup of espresso. First of all, your latte looks like this:

Then it tastes like they imported the espresso straight from Heaven. I mean it is really, really good. Exquisite even. Their mochas blend chocolate and espresso almost divinely... as chocolate and coffee are meant to be... together. So make sure next time you are downtown, to check this place out. I know you are now thinking I am a total coffee freak, but if you think I am bad, look at what some latte artists (can you believe there are such things?) came up with:

For all you Miyazaki fans:

Do these people have a life or what? I love it!!!

For all you dog lovers:

I am not sure whether or not this would make me want to drink the latte or go adopt a puppy...

Nonetheless, I am a total coffee junkie. I am not ashamed to admit it. I worked in a coffeehouse for 5 years and maybe could pour a heart with my milk froth a couple times. I blame the machine I used. ;) It is seriously hard. So this post is to honor all the starving (and highly caffienated) latte artists out there... and the baristas who serve this sacred drink... and to all the addicts who appreciate a good cup of coffee.

PS-always tip a friendly barista.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Weather Madness

I can't believe it is warm again! I am usually a huge supporter of nice warm weather, this time around however, I am happy about the cooler weather due to my longing to wear my cozy new coat. I suppose I will have to wait. Nick assured me that my coat will get its fair wear when we head to the Chicago region for Christmas (which I am super excited about.) Two years ago we were there for Thanksgiving and attended this neat German-Christmas thing in Picasso Park (I think that is what it was called). So I really hope they have it again because they had so many neat wooden Christmas ornaments, cuckoo clocks, toys and other neat things. There is also a brewery in Munster called 3Floyds with super tasty brews (Pride & Joy is my recommendation.). And you can never go wrong with great Chicago Pizza. One bite and your cares are forgotten. So even though it will be my first Christmas away from my family (EVER), I am still excited. Plus, we are going to have two Christmases since my family wants to enjoy A.'s first Christmas they are just going to celebrate early. As my previous post indicated, I am very spoiled.
On another note Anastasia checked out a-ok for her 9-month Dr. appointment. At a whopping 17lb, 12 oz she is considerably small but I was assured that she is ultra healthy thanks to mama's milk. Perhaps no thanks to the pieces of dirt and dry dog food she has discovered (and thus had a need to taste) over the past week. I better go rescue her from a capless pen before she draws on everything or pokes out her eye.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

So Spoiled

I am fully aware of how spoiled I am, so hopefully that lessens my likelihood of being a brat. First of all, I went to see Nickel Creek last week as an early Christmas present AND I bought an expensive organic cotton t-shirt of theirs. So I figured my Christmas present time was over. Yesterday my wonderful husband told me he had something he was going to get me... and by the end of the night last night I had a violin!! I had asked for one, but didn't believe I would get one so I am STOKED! Now I just have to learn how to play it. Then I saw a coat at Old Navy that I really liked so my mom just bought it for me for Christmas! So there you have it! I am afraid I am completely spoiled. As if having my soul mate and best friend for a husband, and an adorable little side-kick for a baby wasn't enough.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Chef Clare

So I have been pretty ambitious in the kitchen lately. I have gotten several cook books from the library (even a doggie cook book) and have been trying heaps of new dishes. Tonight I am trying Anna's red pepper soup. Currently I am making the chicken stock which I have never done before and seeing as I don't have any celery, it may be chicken gone awry. Yesterday I tried making a minestroni soup with a home made vegetable stock and it turned out way too bean-y. Not really what I was expecting but it tasted good. I am definitely on a soup-kick.

I have been making things for Anastasia too and can get her to eat a healthy balanced lunch and that is all. She turns her nose up at breakfast and puckers her lips so nothing can get through. She loves avacados usually so I try and load her up with those and oatmeal at lunch and at dinner she won't eat anything unless it comes directly from my plate by means of my finger. So after cooking oatmeal, rice, pureeing all sorts of fruits and steaming veggies most of them end up in Leia's dish. And Anastasia gets Cheerios.

Speaking of Leia, she also gets a home-cooked meal. I have been making her stew with meat and lots of veggies to top her dog food and vitamins from the vet. They say dogs who eat people food live much longer (almost twice as long) as dogs on a store-bought diet. I do half and half now and with this cooler weather, Leia seems more vibrant than ever.

We didn't get the home we put an offer on this weekend, which is okay. With three competing offers I didn't think we had a chance and either way, it is the way it is meant to be. I look forward to our independence again though. Its pathetic when I get really excited about having my own shelf in the fridge and using my own plates and coffee mugs again. I guess this is my cross for now... and in the grand scheme of things my qualms are pretty small and insignificant. I constantly find myself needing grace and a spirit of gratefulness.

Saturday, November 3, 2007


So last night was the most amazing night I have had in a while. Nick and I went out together to the 9:30 Club in DC to hear one of my most favorite bands of all time, Nickel Creek. The concert was completely amazing and opened with Bruce Molsky who was a bit more traditional in his blue-grass style but none the less musically amazing. He played a song he wrote called "brothers and Sisters" or something like that... no words... just Bruce and a guitar which was one of the most pleasant things I have ever heard. All his songs were pretty great and he displayed beautiful mastery of the guitar, fiddle and banjo.

After Bruce played several songs, ending with "Cotton Eyed Joe", it was Nickel Creek's turn to dominate the arena... and they floored me. I knew they would be great, but they were truly exceptional. I felt as though I had somehow found a way to get into a room with three of the most musically talented individuals in the world. Their stage presence and chemistry awed me. Thats really all I can say. I was nearly in tears hearing songs that have become such a huge part of me... LIVE. Wow.

In case you missed the concert and won't have a chance to hear them as they are in the final stretch of their "Farewell for Now" tour, the Live concert was recorded by NPR and you can listen to it here. You will be glad you did. Oh, and listen for Nick and I screaming really loudly.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Trick or Treat

oooooh scary pumpkins.

The one on the right reads on the other side:

"This pumpkin is insured by glock."
Guess who carved that one?

The trick: Is it a baby dressed as a giraffe or a giraffe dressed as a baby?

The treat: whatever she is, she is the cutest and scored us a bucket full of candy! Hooray for chocolate! What a great holiday!

I have a terrible weakness for the Martha Stewart Magazine... I don't agree with her morals but I love her magazine. I get it from the library so I don't directly support her. This year's halloween issue was fantastic. There was an excellent section on pumpkin carving (inspiring my deranged cat pumpkin creation). I also made her most tasty gingerbread cookies and pumpkin ice cream (which turned out runny but devine). I also found a soup recipe in a book for pumkin-tomato bisque which was pretty good. So we had a Martha Stewart Halloween.

We also went with my aunt, cousin and her friends Trick-or-Treating. Anastasia and Leia both recieved many comments and enthusiasm. Most people were so tickled to see the baby that I didn't feel like a lame grown-up trying to get free candy... even though that is sort of the reality. Caitlin was a disco girl and I wore my Renaissance attire and Nick was Hagrid and Leia was a wolf. I forgot how much fun trick-or-treating is! Anastasia loved it! She had a ball playing with glow sticks and all the candy.

So that my friends was Halloween for the M Family.

P.S.--Silly Puddy, Slinky and Maglight flashlights are all also made in the U.S.A. (supposedly). Maglights are PROUDLY made in the USA and virtually indistructable. I have had my mini-maglight for over 5 years and it works great! So spend a little extra money and support kick-butt American flashlight makers.