Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Creating Things Day Sixteen - Baked Chicken And Mashed Potatoes

Pretty much, the only things I'm able to make here in St. Louis at the Bachelor Pad is food and drink.

Voices around the blogosphere are going "duh!", especially if you've read my last few posts.

But I learned that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, so I cook, ha ha.

Tonight, I'm making baked chicken and mashed potatoes for dinner.

Easy like potatoes a lot. Thank goodness we started dating after I was done with my no-carb phase.

I forgot to take pictures when I first started cooking, so I'll just have to type what I did.

I'm making breasts with the bone in. More flavor + cheaper price = no brainer.

I seasoned them with olive oil, cumin, salt, pepper, and thyme.

I sauteed the meaty side in a pan with a bit of butter and olive oil so it will be crispy even without skin.

Then I put the breasts in an aluminum foil lined glass pan with a bit of salted water and chicken broth in the bottom.

I covered the pan and stuck it in a 375 degree oven.

Here is the chicken in the oven. I pulled back the aluminum foil so you can see the tasty looking chicken with all the seasoning on it.

To make the potatoes, I just started by putting five potatoes in a pot full of water.

Here's a picture of the potatoes in the pot. Exciting, right?

I turned the chicken over after about 30 min on one side. Can't serve undercooked chicken.

I also took this opportunity to take the potatoes off the stove.

I peeled them and started smashing them.

No way I could mash them, no tools to do so in the Bachelor Pad.

I added butter, milk, and some Colby cheese. And of course, it tastes great.

It looks great too. Here's the picture.

The chicken was finished on the second side, then I turned it one more time.

I wanted to make sure it got finished.

But this time I removed the aluminum foil so that the chicken could brown a bit more.

I like that flavor you get from nice browned chicken.

Here is a picture of the chicken. There's only one breast left in the pan, I had already made our plates by the time I remembered to take the picture.

Here's my plate with the chicken at potatoes. Looks tasty, right?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Creating Things Day Fifteen - A Better Tasting Fuzzy Navel

Easy and I went out late Saturday night to this wonderful place in St. Louis called "lola.".

I really liked the atmosphere of this place and I would recommend it to anyone in St. Louis looking for a place to hang out where there is good music, good food, good service, and good company.

When we got there, there was a band playing live music and we watched them for a bit.

Then we went to get a drink from one of the bars.

I know they make strong ass drinks in St. Louis, so I ordered one of the weakest drinks I could think of, a fuzzy navel.

Peach Schnapps and orange juice, how could you make that too strong?

Plus, it was very late at night and I didn't want to be getting drunk at 1 in the morning.

But I was wrong, the bartender made it too strong. She filled the cup 3/4 of the way with Peach Schnapps and then filled it up with orange juice.

The bottom 1/3 of the cup was still completely clear because there was so little orange juice in the cup.

I didn't even bother tasting it, I immediately asked for another cup of orange juice with no ice and an empty cup.

When Easy and I found a seat near the live music, I began making my concoction.

First I poured all of the fuzzy navel into the empty cup, leaving only the ice in the cup. I tasted the drink and it waaaaay too strong.

It didn't even taste like a fuzzy navel. It just tasted like a shot of Peach Schnapps.

So I alternated pouring the pure orange juice and the fuzzy navel into the now empty cup with the ice until it was a proportion I much preferred to drink.

It tasted much better, and I ended up with the volume of two drinks instead of one.

I learned a while ago that they makes drinks super strong in St. Louis. That's great for getting your money's worth, but bad if you want to enjoy the taste as well as the effect of your drinks.

Creating Things Day Fourteen - A Savory Pasta Dish

This post was supposed to go up on Saturday, but like I said, I've been busy and am behind.

Easy had two gigs in one night and I didn't accompany him. Consequently, I was at his place by myself, and starving.

After surveying the Bachelor Pad, it was clear I didn't have too many options for feeding myself.

I saw a can of diced tomatoes, some frozen chicken tenders, the last of the wine we bought the other day, some linguine noodles from a previous time I made dinner here, and some chicken broth.

I decided to make myself a pasta dish. I forgot to take pictures though. Sorry.

I started out by sauteing the chicken in olive oil and butter. I seasoned it with black pepper, crushed red pepper, salt, and Italian seasoning.

Then I took the chicken out and made a sauce using the oil from cooking the chicken, the broth, the wine, and some butter.

Then I added the tomatoes and let the sauce reduce down. Then I dropped the pasta.

When the pasta was done, I drained it and added it and the chicken back to the sauce.

I finished it with a little lemon juice and sat down and enjoyed a really delicious dish.

Creating Things Day Thirteen - Putting Together A Bed, Part Two

I wrote this post days ago, but I've been so busy that I never got a chance to post it. I'm days behind in fact.

I've been making stuff, just not blogging about it. So here goes the post, written as I saved it as a draft. Days ago. Sorry.

I woke up this morning and called Value City.

There was no answer, which was surprise. I figured even if they weren't open at 8:30 am, an automated voice would tell me when they would open.

But no, The phone just rang and rang. So I called back at 9:30 and 10:30.

I finally got an answer at 10:30. I explained the situation to the woman on the phone.

Then I got to do the requisite waiting. On hold. For a long time.

They finally sorted it out on their end at the store and they want me to measure the height we need the middle slats to be that go from one side rail to the other.

There was just one problem with this: This stupid Bachelor Pad has no rulers! At least none that I saw.

Things aren't very well organized here, so I can't find anything easily. So I had to call Easy at work to ask for his help in acquiring a ruler.

Eventually we found out his roommate has a tape measure.

So we measured the bed and got the height we needed the center posts to be.

We took them back to the store so they could be fixed. They finally fixed it.

We came back to Easy's house and fixed the bed.

Here it is, all made up. Finally! It only took a few days to get it together.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Creating Things Day Twelve - Putting Together A Bed, Part One

I think I've referred to the unfortunate Bachelor Pad-ness of Easy's apartment in St. Louis.

Well, one important thing he was missing was a bed. I should say is a bed.

This is just a preliminary post. Putting the bed together will be a two part post.

Right when we got to St. Louis last night, Easy and I drove to Value City Furniture. We found a bed, like it, and he purchased it.

They weren't able to deliver the bed (plus delivery was $100) until next week, so I said screw that plan.

I suggested we get a U-Haul and just bring the bed to his place ourselves.

He seemed confused about whether or not I'd be able to help move a bed.

I informed him I'd moved my queen size bed several times, even a couple all by myself, and he need not worry.

So we got the U-Haul after he was done with work for the day. We picked up the bed and brought it here.

There were quite a number of pieces to this bed, as you can see in the picture.

We got everything upstairs and I started putting the pieces together.

I was glad the bed put together the exact same way mine did so it wouldn't take long to get it together.

I wasn't glad the Easy had absolutely no bed-putting-together skills. I guess it happens.

A man who spends that much time working on his music is bound to lack other skills besides cooking.

After we got the basics of the frame together, we had to screw in the wooden planks that would add support to the frame and make it sturdier.

This is where things went awry. The planks don't fit.

They are long enough, but they are too tall. You can't tell by the picture, but I could tell when I tried to screw them in place.

That wood is not supposed to  be bent. It would warp over time or maybe even break.

This could lead to instability of the bed and shorten the life of the bed.

Side note about the screws, actually screwdrivers.

For this to be a dude house, they have one screwdriver!!!

It's actually a screwdriver set. You know, the one screw-y piece that had little bits you can fit in and out depending on the size of whatever needs to be screwed?

I just don't understand that though. I'm quite the girly chick, but I have somewhere between 5 and 8 screwdrivers.

Maybe it comes from years of living alone and having to fix things myself, but damn, I expected better from a bachelor pad.

If you don't have essentials like butter and flour (yes, I'm referring to last night's cookies), you should at least have screwdrivers.

I bet living here is like a lesson in MacGuyver-style survival, lol.

Moving back to the bed.

Easy's roommate came to help. Nothing he did served as a source of help, but he was there, trying to help.

After the guys (neither of whom have ever put a bed like that together before) came to the conclusion I had already drawn, I agreed to their decision.

We took the bed down, and I'm going to call the store tomorrow to see about them fixing those planks.

My guess is that they gave us the wrong planks. They are just a very wrong height.

Hopefully that won't be a fight, but tomorrow will soon be here and then I'll know.

And so tonight, we will be sleeping on a mattress. The mattress in this picture.

It is a pretty comfortable mattress though. You can see it's a pillow-top, which is soooo much better than an air mattress, couch, or floor.

Creating Things Day Eleven - Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies

I didn't get a chance to sit down and write this post until after midnight, but this is what I made yesterday, Wednesday, January 12, 2011.

I made cookies. I had been wanting to make cookies for about a week now.

It would be a waste to make them at my parents' house. All that healthy eating is not a good environment for cookies.

But I knew that making them in St. Louis when I came to see Easy.

But of course, as always with him, the day was delayed. So I didn't even get started on the cookies until the night was almost done.

And to add to it, I forgot to take pictures until the dough was already made up.

Can I take a moment to say this is the most work I've ever put into making cookies?

This is a true bachelor pad out here in St. Louis.

They have hardly anything needs for basic baking.

The biggest thing missing was a mixer. I had to mix the cookies by hand. With a fork. That's right a dinner fork!

But I finally got the dough mixed and added in the chips. Doesn't it look delicious?

The recipe was the basic Pillsbury recipe, but I substituted some of the chocolate chips for Reese's Peanut Butter Chips.

I love Reese's cups, so I thought the switch would be tasty.

I got the first set of cookies onto the cookie sheet and into the oven.

I'm not used to baking in this oven so the first batch looked just okay. They smelled wonderful and tasted great though.

Each successive batches (the recipe made a lot of cookies) looked even better.

Easy and I had a great dessert of cookies and milk.

The addition of the peanut butter chips was great for me since I'm not a huge fan of chocolate chip cookies.

I would definitely recommend that Pillsbury recipe (just don't tell them I used Nestle Tollhouse semi-sweet chips, lol).

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

On My Way To The Airport

I was trying to oversleep today. I didn't want to be too anxious before I went to get Easy from the airport.

I've talked to him on the phone and he is in DC right now. He will definitely be on the flight to Chicago in about an hour.

I just hate sitting around doing nothing.

But of course, I took too much leisure time and now I'm behind schedule.

That does make one wonder why I bothered to be so leisurely. So I began wishing I somehow had more time.

I'm just thinking about the fact that I didn't have time to do my nails or pack for the trip to St. Louis.

We're not driving down until tomorrow, so the packing isn't so bad.

But unpainted winter toenails are a big no no.

But just my luck, Easy's flight is delayed. I'm watching the flight status online. It just switched from 10 minutes early to 50 minutes late.

I guess I'll go paint my nails now.

I just want to see him, but I guess I should be glad I have a bit more time.

I guess I gotta be careful what I wish for, lol.

Creating Things Day Ten - Belt Loops For A Uniform

I am an usher at my church. Google it if you don't know what that means.

We have to wear uniforms, hideous, hardly-ever-flattering uniforms.

I've already done some alterations.

I've shortened the length of the skirt, shortened the sleeves, and moved one of the buttons.

But I wanted to add belt loops because the belt won't always stay in place.

And the belt is crucial for holding the waist of the dress at my natural waist. Otherwise the dress pulls on my hips.

Here is the dress. It's really pretty awful, so I didn't take a full view shot.

I needed some fabric to make the belt loops.

I had a lot left over that I just happened to hold onto when I altered the dress before.

Once I cut it down to size, I headed to the ancient sewing machine to stitch up the fabric.

May I add in here that I was playing this whole thing by ear? I wasn't sure what to do, but I kept moving forward.

Once I had the fabric stitched, I cut off the excess. Next, I had to turn it inside out.

It was too tiny to use the skewer. Plus, I wasn't actually stringing anything.

So I grabbed a safety pin. I pinned one side and pushed it through to the other side.

Once it was turned right side out, I cut the fabric in half and voila, two belt loops.

Then I laid them against the belt to make sure they were the right size.

Luckily they were the right size since I hadn't been doing any measuring.

I pinned the belt loops to the area I wanted them in and tried to figure out exactly how I would stitch them down.

I got the first one stitched down. I did this by hand of course. I didn't want to fight with the sewing machine on such small stitches.

It looked okay, but it gave me a great idea for how I was going to do the other side.

I stitched the other side by tucking the ends under so it looked more like a real belt loop.

I much prefer the other side, but it looks pretty good all around.

I looped the belt through to make sure it was even and looked the way I wanted it to look.

I'm pretty pleased with the results. I took this last picture without the flash so you could actually see the belt loops.

You may notice they look a bit different from one side to the other. I may re-do the first side one of these days.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Easy Missing His Plane Is My Fault

That is, according to my mother, it's my fault.

I hesitated to tell her the story because she jumps to negative conclusions rather easily and I didn't want to give her any reason to think poorly of Easy.

It may seem extreme, but my mom holds on to her negative opinions harder than she holds onto her positive ones.

But I told her anyway. I had to.

When my parents got home from their Weight Watchers meeting, they were confused why I was at home.

So I explained what happened.

After saying that Easy reminds her of my father with the whole "lack of attention to detail" thing, she told me I could have fixed this.

She says I should have called Geneva, Switzerland to his hotel to check on his flight status.

The time he told me on the phone the last time we spoke was different from the time on the e-mail he forwarded me with his flight info.

My mom thinks I should have reached out to him to clear up the discrepancy.

I couldn't have just e-mailed him because this last hotel he was at didn't have wifi.

Considering the hundreds of dollars he paid to switch his flight to tomorrow morning, she thinks a $10 phone call would've have been better.

I was a bit flabbergasted that the conclusion she drew was that this was my fault. But I was also kind of tickled.

In my defense, Easy mixes stuff up a lot. He really doesn't pay attention to detail.

But I don't worry too much about the big stuff because it's not like he misses bill payments or work deadlines or family functions.

This was a lesson learned. Airplane flights, even ones that cross oceans, are not "big stuff".

So why was I tickled? Because she really likes Easy. Or at least she likes what she knows about him so far.

She was quick to blame me rather than him. It's not that I feel like she should have blamed him.

It's just that I thought she would, only to find that she blames me.

Lesson learned. Next time Easy has a trans-Atlantic flight, I will make a $10 phone call to be sure that the time he thinks his flight leaves is the actual time it leaves.

Weekly Goals Accomplished? Part Eight

There are fourteen goals in total This covers the week 1/2-1/8 (Sun-Sat).

Family Member Goal: I'm supposed to reach out to a family member I haven't talked to or spent time with in the last month.
Accomplished?: Yup. Nothing too huge, just saying a quick hello on the phone.

Career Goal: Fill out at least 50 job applications.
Accomplished?: Yes, I think I made this, although I didn't keep count. It's just the hours I spent online, it had to add up to at least 50.

Career Goal: Do research on grad schools, and on how to acquire a clinic/scholarship program/homeless shelter.
Accomplished?: I did some follow up on the clinic. By-passing the info about filing forms with the IRS etc. to start planning the logistics of the clinic is a huge step for me.

Career Goal: Have an updated resume by the 10th of this month.
Accomplished?: Yes, this got done, but it doesn't count for this week since I didn't finish it til after the 8th.

Hobbies (Piano Playing) Goal: Spend at least one hour practicing the piano and/or studying music theory.
Accomplished?: Nope. I haven't been anywhere near my keyboard this past week.

Hobbies (Reading) Goal: Read at least one book in the last week.
Accomplished?: Nope. Those Charles Dickens books are slow reading... And I spend a lot of time on my Kindle playing games. I blame my hairdresser for letting me know they have games on the Kindle.

Hobbies (Writing) Goal: Work on novel at least once in the last two weeks.
Accomplished?: Technically yes, since I did it the week before last.

Hobbies (Gardening) Goal: Work on indoor garden plan at least once in the last week.
Accomplished?: Nope, but I'm certainly feeling the urge to get to work on this goal. I would've loved to have some fresh herbs to put into the turkey burgers I made today.

Hobbies (Yoga) Goal: Go to three yoga classes.
Accomplished?: Nope. I really should do better; it's just so cold outside.

Hobbies (Cooking) Goal: Make one new and one old recipe.
Accomplished?: Yes, I accomplished this one.

Hobbies (Cooking) Goal: Write down the recipe for everything I've made in the last week.
Accomplished?: I haven't done this. But I will do it next week.

Hobbies (Travelling) Goal: Leave Chicago once a week, leave Illinois once a month, leave the Midwest once a season, and leave USA once a year.
Accomplished?: Bowling on Friday and shopping during the week got me out of Chicago. Hadn't left Illinois yet, but I will this week. I've got til March to get out of the Midwest, and I've got til October to get out of the country.

Hobbies (Bowling) Goal: Improve league bowling average and lower handicap.
Accomplished?: Well, my average went up to 100, but my handicap didn't lower. I'll take that as a goal accomplished because that extra pin of handicap was useful to help my team win all three games of league bowling on Friday.

Hobbies (New Things) Goal: Try something brand new.
Accomplished?: All those crafts I've been making are certainly brand new. I'm feeling quite creative this past week.

I got 9 of my goals completed this week. That is pretty good, more than half. Still a work in progress. If I ever get all fourteen, I may just have a small heart attack.

Creating Things Day Nine - Delicious Turkey Burgers

Today, I made a sandwich, just like I threatened to a couple of days ago.

I decided to make turkey burgers. Since my family has been eating healthier, I've found a way to actually like them.

I don't know that my preparation technique is all that healthy, but it certainly tastes good!

I started out with this ground turkey.

Then I put it into a bowl to add the spices.

What spices did I use? An awful lot of them. I had to do it to make the bland turkey taste good to me.

I added fresh ground sea salt, fresh ground black pepper, cayenne pepper, crushed red pepper, paprika, parsley flakes, Worcestershire sauce, light olive oil, garlic powder, onion powder, and a dash of hot sauce.

Then I prepared my pan. I added a couple tablespoons of butter, a couple tablespoons of light olive oil, and a couple tablespoons of pure canola oil.

I told you this wasn't necessarily healthy. Just healthier than fast food.

I made the patties while I waited for the oil to heat up.

I learned from Rachael Ray that a pound of meat should be quartered into four patties.

Why they never look that big in fast food restaurants? Don't even get me started.

Once the oil was ready to go, I put my patties in. All those different seasonings made the oil a funny color, but it smelled amazing.

I cooked the first side, then flipped the burgers.

How do I make sure my burgers are juicy and delicious? I cover the pan of course.

The burgers were soon cooked and looking fabulous.

I know, that's only three patties. They are for my family to eat. But I want one right now.

I added a slice of provolone cheese to the burger patty and turned off the heat. I covered it to let the cheese melt.

Then I toasted some bread and got lettuce and mustard. Doesn't it look tasty?

It was delicious! Spicy, juicy, and much healthier and bigger than what you would get in McDonald's.

Seriously, the time it would take me to drive to McDonald's and go through the drive through was the time it took me to prepare and cook my burger. Healthy is better.

I'm Not Going To The Airport Today

I've been talking a lot about my excitement for Easy to come home.

I was supposed to be heading to the airport in a few hours to pick him up from O'Hare International Airport.

But that's not happening now. Why isn't that happening?

Because Easy doesn't get here until tomorrow.

The group he was in Europe with said they could either get a 5 am ride to the airport or stay at the hotel and get a taxi when it was time for their flight.

Easy opted to do the latter.

He arrived at the airport at 11:30 am or so to check in for his 1 pm flight.

Once there, he discovered that his flight was actually at 11:50 am and he was too late to check in.

They gave him two options: upgrade to first class on a flight later that day or wait til tomorrow to fly.

It was basically a choice between hundreds of dollars for one option and a few less hundreds of dollars for the other option.

He picked option #2.

So he'll be here tomorrow around 6:30 pm.

His mom called me at 9 in the morning to let me know he wasn't going to be here today.

Then Easy called me about an hour ago to fill in the details.

It really sucks that this happened. I'm already missing him so much and now he's yet still another day away.

It's no problem though, I will just push all the plans back another day.

There aren't big fancy plans, just normal plans.

Easy and I both know that I am not the most agreeable person when hungry, sleepy, tired, in pain, or cold.

So I'm taking steps to make sure I am none of those things when I pick him up from the airport.

And now I guess I'll just relax for today and try and figure out what I'm going to make.

I've got my eye on the ground turkey in he refrigerator.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Creating Things Day Eight - The Perfect Wrapped Gift

People may wonder why I'm wrapping a gift well over two weeks after Christmas.

Well, it's because Easy and I aren't exchanging gifts until tomorrow.

He's been gone, but by this time tomorrow, I'll be on my way to the airport to pick him up.

And since we're exhanging gifts, I wanted his to be wrapped.

I wrap a mean Christmas gift. so I wanted something really nice to see.

He's been out of the country for the last five Christmases or so.

I imagine that doesn't lead to a lot of fancy wrapped presents.

So he will have one from me tomorrow.

And if we do end up exchanging gifts with his family, his people will see that I took extra measures to make his gift look awesome.

So here's the box I had to wrap.

Next, I had to pick out the perfect wrapping paper.

My family had a low-key Christmas this year, but we usually do it big, so down in the basement there were plenty of wrapping materials.

This is what I chose.

Once everything was picked out, I had to cut the paper down to size.

Then I wrapped the first part. This was tricky because the box is not uniform all around and the paper has stripes.

So I pulled out my trusty (now painty) lap table to have a hard surface to work on.

When striped paper is wapped perfectly, it just stands out as really nice, don't you think?

Then I wrapped the sides.

Then I added the bows and name tag. I could have left it like this, but I felt it needed just one more thing.

I'm not saying I'm destructive, but me and gifts don't transport well.

Seriously, unless that thing is going right under the nearest Christmas tree, something always goes wrong.

So I grabbed a bag to keep the gift safe and the bows un-smashed.

I think the colors and the wrapping just scream CHRISTMAS, which is essential for a late Christmas gift exchange. 

I think Easy will light up when he sees it. Everyone likes opening gifts.
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