Monday, August 31, 2009

Chocolate Chile Cake

I made this cake for Kristi's final day in the lab - we enjoyed it with mimosas to start off the day!

1 c. brewed espresso or coffee
1 c. packed dark brown sugar
3 cinnamon sticks
3 sticks unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
12 oz. semisweet chocolate
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
8 large eggs, beaten
Fresh berries, for serving

1) Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees. Line a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper. (Note: I just haphazardly wrapped the pan, but would suggest cutting a strip to wrap around the inside circle and another circle for the bottom of the pan in the future.) Wrap heavy-duty foil around the bottom and sides of the pan and press tightly to seal.

2) In a medium saucepan, combine the espresso, brown sugar, and cinnamon sticks and simmer over low heat until fragrant, about 20 minutes. Discard the cinnamon sticks. Add the butter and cayenne pepper and stir until butter is melted. Pour into a large bowl and set aside.

3) Coarsely chop the semisweet and unsweetened chocolate and whisk into the coffee mixture until melted; whisk in the eggs. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Place the pan inside a larger ovenproof pan and pour in enough water to reach halfway up the sides. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry, 50 minutes to 1 hr.

4) Carefully remove the pan from the water bath, set on a rack to cool slightly, then refrigerate for at least 8 hrs. Run a wet knife around the edge of the cake, then remove the foil and release the springform. Place a platter over the cake and invert. Remove the bottom of the pan and discard the parchment. Slice the cake and serve with the berries.

Extra rich and yummy!

From Everyday with Rachel Ray.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Nursery Progress Update #2

The hubby and I put the crib together yesterday, so I wanted to share some pictures of the nursery with a couple pieces of furniture in it. We still haven't hung anything on the walls or figured out what other furniture we may want in there, but things are starting to shape up.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Jonas's Farmland Adventure

I have to confess that I couldn't bear to post about this until the trauma of the event had slightly diminished. But as I sit on my couch, enjoying a cup of decaf coffee, and surfing the internet, and am rudely interrupted every 10-20 minutes by loud barking at the patio door, I think I'm feeling sufficiently recovered to write about our week with the dog.

A few weeks ago, the hubby and I had to make a fly-in trip home to see my grandpa, who is stuck in the hospital. Since it was just a quick trip, we thought about leaving the dog in the kennel and having someone stop by to feed him and let him out briefly, but decided that a trip to the farm to run off some energy may be worth the hassle of hauling him home. We dropped him off at the farm, headed to town to visit grandpa, then spent the night at the cabin with the rest of the family (we've done this countless time before - Jonas just hangs out with his doggie parents at the farm, presumably without causing too much trouble). The next morning, we were woken to a phone call from my mom, to tell us that Jonas was missing (the other dogs were around) and that we should come out to the farm to help call for him. Thus ensued a frantic morning of wandering around the farm and surrounding areas, calling for Jonas, talking to neighbors, and even walking one of the cornfields to see if we could find him. (Note: the farm was currently surrounded by corn that was 7 ft. high on all sides, so we figured he had chased something into the field and gotten lost - this has happened to other labs on the farm in the past and they manage to wander out a few days later) Unfortunately, there was no sight or sound of Jonas and we were forced to head back to the cities without him in order to go back to work the next morning.

For the following week, we put ads in the local newspapers, called ads into the local radio stations, and continually called the police dept and humane societies to see if anyone had seen him. My parents and the neighbors were diligently looking around the area. I started posting things on facebook in the hopes that someone from back home would relay the info to their family to keep their eyes open. This led to us hearing from some cousins that they had actually seen a large, dark colored lab with a collar near their farm, but when they went to catch him, he ran off down the road. Meanwhile, the days kept stretching on, I headed out to Boston for my vacation, and by Saturday night, it had been a full week since he'd disappeared. I think we were all fairly sure that he wasn't coming home.

But lo and behold, I wake up Sunday morning, get dressed, and take a bus into town with the girls to grab some breakfast, and on the way I get a text from Daniel saying "He's back! The bastard woke me up barking this morning, but Jonas is back!" After multiple texts between Daniel, my folks, David, and myself, we got things organized for David to drive home and pick him up later that day. Meanwhile, Daniel was given strict instructions to keep an eye on him, just in case he decided to wander off again.

All in all, the dog is home. He was probably 15-20 lbs. lighter (but has quickly put most of his weight back on), and overdue for his Lyme's vaccination by over a month (we got that taken care of right away!), and was cleaner than he'd been in months after I bribed Daniel to take him to the lake and bathe him before David came to pick him up (he hasn't gotten a bath in awhile...he's an outdoor dog!). It was only then that we found out that my parents had heard from a few other people of potential "Jonas sightings," including one west of Truman, one near Welcome, and one IN the town of Trimont (all three towns surrounding our farm, each of which is about 10 miles away from the farm itself). We have NO IDEA how he managed to find his way back to the farm - whether he was actually wandering around the county and just had enough dumb luck to make it back to an area that he recognized, or whether he was just plain dumb and was lost in one of the cornfields surrounding the farm for the entire week! Here's hoping he doesn't get any crazy ideas to wander off again!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

My trip to Martha's Vineyard

No, I was not there while the Obamas were vacationing there (thank god!). We did, however, notice lots of signs welcoming the first family and all sorts of Obama-related merchandise in the stores. It's been 5 years since I graduated from college with my two twin roomies, Katie and Jenny, so we decided it was time for an all-girls getaway! Since they're both in Boston (and Katie is about to move across the country to Seattle to start her post-doc) we decided that I should fly to Boston and then we could hit someplace on the coast to keep costs down. The girls picked Martha's Vineyard, and it was perfect! I flew into Boston on a Thursday morning, got picked up at the airport by the two girls, and then spent some time shopping and hanging out in Harvard Square with Jenny while Katie had to go into the lab for awhile. That night, we came back to Cambridge to hit a Mexican restaurant that I had been to the last time I was out in Boston (and was subsequently craving!). The next morning, we drove out to Woods Hole, grabbed a shuttle to the harbor, and boarded a LARGE ferry to take to the island.

We stayed in a small cottage in Vineyard Haven, which ended up being almost connected to the owners' house (but it worked out just fine since we weren't there all that much anyways!). We spent the next few days exploring the island - in Vineyard Haven we thoroughly explored the stores (I found a designer diaper bag on clearance for $30 since it had a broken zipper, but I've since gotten it fixed for $13, which still ended up costing almost half as much as the original price of the bag!), hit the Black Dog Tavern for coffee and sweets, and ate fresh lobster, clams, and mussels at the Net Result the first night we got in.

The next day we took a couple of buses across the island to the Aquinnah Clay Cliffs - hit the beach (it was too hot to stay out too long!), wandered across a nude part of the beach, and enjoyed some food for lunch in the shaded restaurant on top of the cliffs. That night we saw Julie & Julia (so good!) in a tiny theater in town (seriously, smaller than the Sherburn movie theater back home!).

On Sunday, we tried to hit the Art Cliff Diner for breakfast (after reading about it in the guide books), but it was too busy, so we took a bus over to Oak Bluffs and had a late breakfast/brunch at A Slice of Life, which was awesome! I had a bagel sandwich with gruyere, ham, sliced green apples, and red onions. Perfect for a hearty breakfast! Although, I did need to stop and grab a slice of pizza after shopping for a couple of hours! In Oak Bluffs, we also walked through the area of brightly colored gingerbread cottages that originally made up a large church camp area, and we saw the oldest operating carousel (the horses don't move up and down, but they do have real horse hair!). It was inside a non-air-conditioned building and swarming with parents trying to get pictures of their kids, so we didn't take time to ride it ourselves.

After heading back to Vineyard Haven, we stopped and got pedicures and were able to chat with some local ladies. Then it was off to Edgartown to hit a few (much more swanky) shops, check out the harbor, and eat a fantastic fancy dinner at Chesca's. Monday was spent traveling back to Boston, trying to avoid the heat, checking up on email (my internet went down on my blackberry - oh no!), getting huge ice cream cones at JP Licks, then heading to Beacon Hill to eat at Fig's, a Todd English restaurant (who is evidently some Food Network chef, but I don't know him!). For dessert, we went to the North End for cannolis, which I had been craving - but we hit Modern Pastry instead of Mike's so the cannoli I had wasn't quite as good (sorry Leif!), but the fruit tart was tasty! It's probably a good thing the cannoli didn't quite hit the spot, otherwise I would've had to try to find them in the cities (or learn how to make them myself - yikes!).

All in all, it was a GREAT trip! Can't wait to do it again in 5 years - Napa or NYC, here we come!!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The New Stadium!

Petra and I just got to view the inside of the new TCF Bank Stadium for the U's Staff Appreciation Day (although we were denied our free seat cushion since evidently our UCards don't register with their scanners...bah!). We got to walk out into the endzone and check out the Gopher locker room. The stadium is awesome - I can't wait to see the whole thing in 2.5 weeks!!

Baby blankets

Just realized that I should post the baby blankets that I made for Baby Uno - the nursery design is actually based on the colors found in this wonderful fabric I came across a couple of years ago (and promptly picked up and put away for future babies!). The bigger blanket is just tied with yarn and has a soft flannel backside and will be used to toss on the floor for play time.

The smaller blanket has a super soft yellow minky back, with ribbons for baby to play with, and a pacifier clip. This one is to take with us in the car, at the grocery store, etc.

I think they both turned out quite well! My mom is working on a quilt that incorporates this fabric, along with many other bright and coordinating fabrics, which will be used for the crib.

Monday, August 24, 2009

What in the world??

You just need to read this.

Nursery Progress

David single-handedly painted the entire nursery yellow while I was on vacation last weekend (more on that to come!). So this weekend, we spent a good chunk of our time painting the vertical stripes on one wall. Friday we taped everything off, then we proceeded to put on 3-4 coats of color on Saturday and Sunday. Syd was really helpful - we had to keep shooing him away from all of the wet paint! I was actually surprised that he didn't have a bright blue stripe down his belly or nose by the end of the weekend.

Here's the final product (prior to cleanup, which happens tonight). We also replaced the ceiling light, the light switch, and all four electrical outlets yesterday - so the room will be looking much better for Baby Uno!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Cast your votes!

Boy or girl? Vote to the left of this post - poll closes at 8:30 am tomorrow!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

20 weeks, 4 days

Over half way! Here's the newest belly picture - 5 months pregnant (on a 10 month scale, otherwise 4 months on a typical 9 month scale). I've included the picture from last month as a reference. There's quite a difference, but I didn't realize how much of one until I saw the new picture! We head to the doctor on Friday for the big ultrasound - and we'll be finding out whether it's a boy or a girl - so stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Grill gets married?!?

Just got this text from David while I'm at work: Grill got married. Then following multiple texts between David, myself, and Emily, we found out that she (or her parents) saw it in the local newspaper. What a way to find out about a friend tying the knot! Congrats Grill!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Our Plan for the Nursery

Well, we're over 19 weeks along and looking forward to our next big ultrasound, at 21 weeks on the 21st of August. We are planning on finding out the sex of the baby, at this point, so stay tuned! I take off for Boston and Martha's Vineyard this weekend to spend some much-needed girl time with my old college roomies, so David is planning on getting the majority of the painting done in the nursery while I'm gone. I've posted some OLD photos from the "orange room" to give you an idea of what we're planning.

The entire room will be painted a light yellow (walls, angles, and ceiling), which David is hoping to accomplish this weekend (after he primes over the very bright, very Home Depot-esque orange). When you walk into the room, the opposite wall has a double window; on that wall we are planning to do some "barcoding," meaning we're paining vertical stripes on the wall. I've posted the plan for the stripes below. Hopefully, if all goes well, David will have the yellow done when I get back next Tuesday, and we can let it dry hard before taping off and painting on the barcoding. We already have the crib and a changing table, but are not planning on assembling them until after the painting is finished (so that we can assemble at least the crib in the nursery and not have to transfer). We're excited to continue to decorate from there, but at least by the end of the month we should have a good start!

Also, we found the perfect print to start decorating the walls; it's a Story People print (out of Decorah, IA) and it says: "For a long time there were only your footprints & laughter in our dreams & even from such small things, we knew we could not wait to love you forever".

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Rummage Sales!

I have a slight addiction to rummage sales, which is especially bad now that I live in a city where the rummage sales start on Thursdays and go through Saturdays. Usually I can resist the temptation and get myself into work without stopping, but today I noticed one in our area when I was out walking the dog, so I decided to swing by on my way in. It was awesome. I found a barely (or never) used baby backpack carrier for $10 and a few children's board books for 25 cents a piece. Then, after my slight mania at my new finds, I slowly migrated into work along the back roads and hit a few more - I ended up with a stationary bouncer/activity station for $10, a sewing book for myself, and a child's life jacket for at my parents' cabin.

Last weekend, I dragged David out to a few rummage sales that I had looked up on Craigslist. Unfortunately, most of the Craigslist rummage sales usually end up being a bust, but we did find one good one where we ended up waiting for the garage doors to open (along with one other expecting couple and a new mom and her baby boy), then grabbing some 24 month fleece pjs that we'll put into storage and some good, cheap toys.

My good friend, and fellow mom, Sara, just informed me of her obsession with ebay and how she buys cheap clothes for her kid on there. I'm definitely going to have to check that out next!