Thursday, July 17, 2014

Oodles of Noodles

Before deciding to buy the  KitchenAid pasta attachment, I decided to try an inexpensive countertop pasta maker.  I've seen a kazillion Food Network shows where chefs and wannabes whip up a batch of pasta and make it look so simple.  Of course I had to give it a try.  Believe it or not, it is SO simple:  time consuming and messy, but very simple.  If you can play with Playdough, you can make pasta.

I've tried a few recipes including the basic one that came with the pasta maker and Mario Batali's recipe found here.  Whichever recipe you choose, here are a few of my tips:

  • All purpose flour will work, but semolina flour works best for Italian dishes.
  • DO NOT rush.  You must pass each piece of pasta through the pasta press multiple times.
  • If you don't have a pasta drying rack,  use a cookie sheet elevated on a stock pot.
  • Cook pasta in heavily salted, boiling water.  It will cook in 2-4 minutes.
  • Although the countertop version is another piece of equipment, it works very well.  

Friday, July 11, 2014

Crafting and Thrifting (Yes, Please!)

Well, I have been doing more than just cooking and eating.  Crafting is therapeutic for me, and I don't do it nearly enough!  I was happy to make this wreath for a dear friend recently.  Just going into Hobby Lobby for supplies has me itching to make another one for myself.  Sadly, the Hobby Lobby employees know me by name.  Even worse, when Baby Girl was an infant, I remember telling someone I was going to Hobby Lobby and hearing her let out a loud shriek as in, "NO!  NOT AGAIN!"  I'm sure it was just a weird reflex, but the idea of her protesting a craft run at 6 months, was  hilarious!!

Another favorite pasttime is thrifting.  I LOVE a bargain.  I've found everything from a silk necktie for a penny (it was priced incorrectly) to expensive formal gowns for $20.  I'm even known to repurpose someone's junk (right off the curb).  My hubby was out one night and rolled past these babies sitting on the curb: a FREE set of 8 iron barstools with two matching pool lounge chairs.  Well, we don't have a pool, but I couldn't get these loaded up into the back of my SUV fast enough.  Never mind the near rigor mortis that it caused in my arms.  With a few cans of Rustoleum and cushions from World Market, they were good as new.  All for my favorite price:  FREE!  I would totally decorate my entire house from consignment and thrift shops, if my hubby would go along.

Now, if only I could knock out a few scrapbook pages.  I'd be set!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Summer, Summer, Summertime!

Here we are smack dab in the middle of summer break, and I'm totally enjoying relaxing.  This is the first deliberately unscheduled summer in a VERY long time!  Our summers are typically filled with swim team commitments, day camps, a vacation (or two),  outings, and the list goes on.  In other words, early mornings, living in the car, fragmented schedules,  and Sonic.  As the kids get older and have more scheduled activities during the school year, the opportunity to "chillax" seems like a mirage.  This summer I just put my foot down.  It took the boys a minute to adjust.  At first, they were shocked that we weren't "doing anything all summer", but I had to correct them.  We'll be doing things, just not EVERYTHING.  I think they've finally come around.  Each morning, they hop in my bed and spend an hour or so reading, followed by chores and piano practice.  They have daily math and language workbook pages, and are allowed to watch t.v. after 3:00 AND all duties are complete.  They've complained their fair share, but it is what it is.  For breakfast, they fend for themselves.  Lunch is a quick fix, and I cook dinner as usual.  This was also a change, from past summers where I continued to cook 3 meals a day.  Luckily, kids are pretty resilient and smart. I think they can tell the difference in my stress level, so they're rolling with it.  

Now, I haven't completely gone off the grid.  I'm already planning our fall schedule and the logistics, including holiday menus and decorating.  I only have a few loose ends and I'll be set.  I'm just hoping I can get a better handle on things this year, because by the end of last year I felt like I was treading water.

Hubby is wrapping up a local project at work, and just in time he has landed a new gig that doesn't require him to travel.  That monkey on our backs has finally been lifted.  No matter how many in-town assignments he's been fortunate enough to work on, the nature of his work requires him to travel.  With this new company and position, comes a more regional structure (=no travel), a promotion and raise.  Bye bye monkey!

Here's what I've been up to since my last post.  I dare not ask myself whether I eat to live, or live to eat. Frankly, I'm ashamed of the answer!  

Side note:  When "Scandal Thursdays" return in the fall, we'll have to find another (healthier) treat to enjoy while watching Olivia Pope and the gang.  Weekly indulgences of creme brulee and molten lava cakes are just NOT a good idea!

Chocolate dipped shortbread cookies
Lobster macaroni and cheese
Molten lava cakes a la mode
Strawberry Cheesecake
Monster Sub Sandwich (poolside lunch)
Fresh Lemonade (school treat)
Iced Sugar Cookies (end of season football party)

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