Monday, August 25, 2008

A New Swap and Taking a Lunch Break

Stephanie at Dispensing Happiness has announced a new swap: Blogging by Mail: 10 Items or Less. Go check it out and sign up! This will be my first non-quilt swap and I'm so excited to be a part of it!

Earlier this month I was bemoaning my meager attempts at having meals for one. I received some good suggestions, but haven't tried them yet.

Anyway, I've started working from home about 7 - 8 hours a day, four days a week for my boss. The work is mostly creating database systems and then writing instruction memos for the systems.

I got tired of nibbling my way through the day and decided to start taking a "real" lunch break. Every day from noon to one I have my lunch. Last week I went into my china cabinet to get something and came across two Debbie Mumm plates I forgot I had. They are adorable plates and just the right size for a lunch portion.

I decided I'm going to start treating lunch as my special time. I'm going to use special plates and eat good food. I will not nibble my day away.
Here is today's lunch. I made a frittata on Saturday morning with ham, onions, peppers, cheddar cheese, mozzarella cheese and potatoes. I had two leftover slices and I had one for lunch today along with a dish of strawberry yogurt. It was yummy.
What have you done to be good to yourself at meal time? When was the last time you served your family dinner on the good china and it wasn't a holiday? Why not do it one night this week? Tell your family they are special enough to use the china any day of the week.

Share with me how you make every day meals special in your house.
Sweet P

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Wednesday Menu and a Favorite Fall Recipe

I do my grocery shopping on Wednesday which means my weekly menu runs Wednesday to Tuesday. I decided to start sharing our weekly menu as many bloggers do. I confess I'm not always a frugal shopper. DH and I enjoy eating and if we didn't eat at home, we'd be eating out more (and spending more) to satisfy our "foodie" selves.

I had to stop at Tuttles Red Barn on Saturday to buy the squash and apples for Stuffed Butternut Squash (recipe below). I noticed they had started picking their sweet corn. I decided I would buy some for dinner tonight. When I went there today to buy the corn they had their home grown tomatoes in the store. I decided to make Insalata Caprese to have with the sweet corn. I bought two tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and a red onion. At the grocery store I snipped some fresh basil for the salad. Don't these fresh ingredients look yummy?
They look even better made into the Insalata.
Here's the rest of this week's menu:
  • Wednesday: Grilled Sirloin, Insalata Caprese, Corn on the Cob
  • Thursday: Shepherd's Pie for me (DH has poker)
  • Friday: Ham Steak, Mac and Cheese, Cole Slaw
  • Saturday: Dinner in Boston (we are going to the Neil Diamond concert at Fenway Park)
  • Sunday: Pork Chops and Brown Rice, Romaine Salad
  • Monday: Spaghetti and Meatballs (I'm going to try Candace's recipe), garlic bread
  • Tuesday: Frozen meal for me (Tuesday's are guy's night and I'm home alone)
This is the view I have from my kitchen island to my new office area. Tonight I thought it would be perfect if I could get my baseball and football games on my computer. Then cooking and cleaning the kitchen would be even more fun than it is now. I suppose I could play DVDs if I wanted to do that. I'm starting to live more in my kitchen and office area and I think I like it.
Here is my favorite fall recipe: Stuffed Butternut Squash

Cut a butternut squash in half and clean out the seeds and pulp. Lightly oil a baking pan and the cut side of the squash. Place the squash in the pan, cut side up and cover with foil. Bake at 375 for 45 – 60 minutes or until squash is done. Remove squash from oven, but leave oven on.

While squash is cooling, brown 8 ounces of sausage in a medium skillet. (I usually mix half hot and half mild sausage) When sausage is lightly browned add one tart peeled and chopped apple to the sausage. (I usually use a Granny Smith apple). Cook 3 –4 minutes until apple is lightly browned and soft. Lightly scoop the squash out of the skin, leaving enough of the squash to keep the shell sturdy. Add the squash, 2 tablespoons butter, 1 tablespoon brown sugar and a dash or two of sage to the sausage and apples. Lightly mix the ingredients together without breaking up the squash.

Scoop the stuffing into the butternut squash shells. Top with a few small pats of butter and about 1 tablespoon of brown sugar. Put the squash back in the oven and bake for another 15-20 minutes until the butter is melted and the stuffing is golden brown.

Let cool a few minutes before serving.

If you make this recipe, I'd love to know how you like it.

Thanks for stopping by!
Sweet P

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

It's Tuesday Again

I can't believe I haven't posted here in a week! Not much has been going on at Coffee Time the past week. I was feeling under the weather last week and took some time to be alone to relax and regroup.

DH will be starting his fall conference travel next month. From September 9th through mid-November he will be traveling to Europe, Arizona, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and New York City. He will be home between trips, but for the most part I will be holding down the fort.

This is the first time he's done this much traveling and I haven't been working outside of the home. Life around here will surely be different. I may be able to skip some laundry days when there's only me around. I do have some events planned: a visit to see my parents in Minnesota, a couple of sewing days with friends and lots and lots of NFL football!

Are you a football fan? Who's your favorite and least favorite teams? My favorite teams are the New England Patriots and the Minnesota Vikings. My least favorite teams are the Dallas Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers (although I am a fan of Bret Favre).

Do you have a favorite fall or football recipe? If share it on your blog and let me know. I'll share my favorite recipes starting tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Answers to Questions

I've had a couple of questions to my posts and I thought I'd answer them here.

In June I posted about the Red Sox paint I bought. Hemarc asked what the colors are called because they didn't have them at the local Benjamin Moore dealer. The red is called Poppy, the green is balsam, the yellow is sunshine and the blue is symphony blue. I hope that answers your question and you are able to get the paint you need for your son's room.

Kitty asked me about our menu collection. Our collection is small at the moment but it will grow. DH and I are foodies. When we go on vacation we set two meal goals for ourselves:
  1. Never eat a chain restaurant (unless it's in the airport). We want to sample the local fare and will often ask the concierge or staff at the hotel where they eat. I often spend a few hours before the vacation doing Internet searches about the restaurants or Chowhound. Chowhound is a great site to get advice from locals about restaurants.
  2. We love Tasting Menus or Prix Fixe menus. That's where our collection comes in. We currently have three menus from Tasting Menus that we've enjoyed since we've been married. We always ask the chef if he will sign a menu for us. So far, we haven't been turned down.

Here's a photo of our collection. I need to get two of the menus framed so we can hang them.

The small menu in the middle is the first Chef's Tasting Menu meal we enjoyed. On our honeymoon in 2001 the concierge at the hotel recommended Canlis for dinner. What a fantastic restaurant. The view is outstanding, the food is incredible and the service was perfect. The tasting menu that night was:
  • Miniature Wasyugyn Beef Tartare Burger (think mini cheeseburger)
  • Mixed Green Salad with Bing Cherries, Carmelized Hazelnuts and Goat Cheese
  • Dungeness Crab & Wild Fennel Ravioli
  • Jellied Fresh Green Apple Juice
  • Grilled Petite New York Steak with Oregon Blue Cheese and Walla Walla Sweet Onion Rings
  • Napoleon of Summer Berries
The menu on the right is from The Blacksmith Restaurant in Bend, OR. What a fantastic restaurant. We were pleasantly surprised that they offer a Prix Fix meal and you can specify what you like and don't like. For me, that meant I could say bring on the steak and hold the seafood. We had six wonderful courses, each one better than the previous one. It took us two hours to enjoy dinner. Here's the menu:
  • First Course - Watermelon Salad - mixed greens topped with minted goat cheese, watermelon and basil pesto.
  • Second Course - I had steak adobo and DH had haddock and scallops in a Pinot Noir sauce
  • Third Course - A small pasta dish with house-cured salami, onions, fennel, roasted tomatoes and pasta. This course was very, very yummy.
  • Fourth Course - Pork tenderloin on white beans with grilled nectarines and prosciutto on grilled radicchio
  • Fifth Course - Sliced Top Sirloin with Fried Potatoes with a truffle oil reduction.
  • Sixth (and final) Course - an Almond Tulle Cookie Cup filled with fresh berries topped with a lemon sauce. Very light and refreshing.
Now this reads like a lot of food, but each plate was about a third of the size of a regular portion. That combined with the timing between each course you were able to enjoy each selection without feeling stuffed. I'd go back there in a minute.

The framed menu on the left is from our local favorite restaurant. When DH asks me where I want to go for dinner 9 times out of 10 the answer is The Chop Shop. I'm so happy we have a prime steak house in our town. We used to be able to walk to the restaurant, but now that we moved we have to drive 5 minutes. Chef Koz is a great cook and often has wine tasting dinners. The menu is from a Benziger "Reserve" wine dinner we enjoyed in October 2004. The menu that evening was:
  • Chardonney Poached Chayote Tart, Grilled Curried Chicken with Adobo Sauce, assorted cheese and oils
  • Roast Turbot (fish) with a Crab Duxelle (I did not eat this)
  • Fall Harvest Salad with Country French Pate de Campagne and Cream of Squash & Sorrelle Soup
  • Venison Sauerbraten, Marinated Bear's Head Mushrooms and Squash Gnocchi
  • Chocolate Cannoli filled with Bing Cherry Ricotta
The meal was a little too "out there" for me. But it was a wonderful evening and I even received a bottle of Benziger wine signed by one of the Benzigers. I much prefer Koz's Filet Mignon, buttermilk mashed potatoes and carrots in pecan butter.

Now I'm hungry! I need to start cooking dinner and I have chicken breasts waiting to cook. Somehow chicken doesn't sound as yummy as all the above menus do. Oh well, I guess it's almost time for DH to take me to the Chop Shop for dinner.

Oh . . . honey . . .
Sweet P

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The ABC's of Homemaking

Is it fall already? This singular red leaf greeted me yesterday morning outside my kitchen window. I love the color of leaves in the fall. I can't wait to see what the trees will look like in a few weeks.

My friend, Kay, posted this on her blog recently. Here are my ABC's of Homemaking.

prons--y/n If y, what does your fav. look like?
I have a small apron collection. My favorite one is made from coffee fabric. Perfect for Coffee Time at Home.

aking--Favorite thing to bake?
I don’t bake much. Our sweet tooth satisfier is ice cream.

lothes line?
No clothes line. We live in condo complex that does not allow clothes lines.

Donuts--Have you ever made them?
Never made donuts. See baking comment.

Everyday--One homemaking thing you do every day?
Clean the kitchen. I love a clean kitchen.

Freezer--Do you have a separate deep freeze?
A separate deep freezer is on my wish list. Either that or a refrigerator/freezer with a larger freezer than what we have now.

Garbage Disposer?
Yes and I love it.

Handbook--What is your favorite homemaking resource?
I don’t have a favorite homemaking resource. Although I enjoy browsing the internet for tips and tricks.

Ironing--Love it or Hate it? Or hate it but love the results?
The only ironing I do is for my quilting. DH has his dress shirts dry cleaned and pressed.

Junk Drawer--y/n? Where is it?
I don’t have a junk drawer. I have a junk basement still. We haven’t finished unpacking from moving in five months ago.

Kitchen--color and decorating scheme
We just painted our kitchen a light green. The decorating scheme is going to center around signed restaurant menus we collect when we travel.

Love--what is your favorite part of homemaking?
Cooking is definitely my favorite homemaking task.

I have wood floors. I use a microfiber cloth to clean them.

Nylons--wash by hand or in the washing machine?
Nylons, what are nylons? I haven’t worn them since I stopped working three months ago. Before that they went in the washing machine.

Oven--do you use the window or open the oven to check?
I use both depending on what I’m making.

Pizza--What do you put on yours?
We don’t eat pizza that often. But when we do I like Canadian bacon and pineapple.

Quiet--What do you during the day when you get a quiet moment?
Check my email or just sit and enjoy the quiet.

Recipe Card Box--y/n? What does it look like?
My MIL gave me a recipe card box a few years ago. It’s yellow with grapes and vines on it.

Style of house--What style is your house?
We live in a condo with two bedrooms, one and a half baths. It’s brand new so it’s contemporary.

Tablecloths or Placemats?
Neither one right now. For company we use table cloths. We always use cloth napkins though.

Under the kitchen sink--organized or toxic wasteland?
Organized, mainly cleaning supplies.

Vacuum--How many times per week?
Once a week on Mondays.

Wash--How many loads of laundry do you do per week?
I do about five loads a week. Towels and bedding on Mondays, clothes on Tuesdays.

X's--Do you keep a daily list of things to do that you cross off?
I am not a daily list keeper. I have a list of weekly tasks and that’s about it.

Yard--y/n? Who does what?
We don’t have to do any yard work. That’s why we bought a condo – the landscapers do the outside work.

ZZZ's--what is your last homemaking task for the day before going to bed?
Make the kitchen is clean and the coffee is set to brew coffee at 6:15 am.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Dinner For One

This is what I had for dinner the other night when I was home alone - peanut butter and jelly on whole wheat, cut diagonally, sour cream and onion potato chips and milk. This meal is a far cry from the dinners I usually make for DH and I.

I need some help coking for one! I'm tired of my usual fare: frozen meals. Tell me - how do you cook for one? Do you have a favorite cookbook? What's your secret? Please help me get out of the PB&J menu!

Sweet P

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Kitchen/Dining/Office Area is Done!

Thanks for all the compliments on the bathroom. We are very happy with the way it turned out.

Here are the photos of our kitchen/dining/office area that we painted over the weekend. I'm very happy with the color we chose. The first view is the sink and counter area you see when you walk into room. Yes, that is a teddy bear on the counter. He needs to go on top of the cupboard. I also made the Coffee Time mosaic back splash for our other apartment and still use it here.
For lack of a better phrase, I call this the appliance wall. It is to your left as you are looking at the sink. You can also see the kitchen island in the lower part of the photo. The island is where do all of my food prep.
This is our bistro height dinner table. We have six stools to go around it, but since there is only two of us most of the time we keep the other stools downstairs (which is the door on the right). There is a story behind this table. Six years ago we moved into a rental that had a large kitchen with the stove and fridge at one end and the sink and cupboards at the other end and a wide open space in the middle. I wanted a kitchen island for the space and went shopping for one. I went to Abode (see post below) when it was still Pier 1 and saw this table on display. It was marked down to $150 from $350. I couldn't figure out why. It was sturdy. The butterfly leaves worked (it expands to 54 inches by 54 inches). I asked the sales woman why it was marked down. She told me it came with the wrong sized legs. It is supposed to be a normal height dining room table. I said it was perfect for what I wanted and took it. It was, and is, one of my best shopping finds.
Fast forward to this past weekend. We needed a desk. Off we went shopping. We ended up at Abode. After walking around the store a few times, DH finally spied this desk. Guess what? It's from the same furniture line as our dining room table! Six years later and the company is still making the same furniture. It is a perfect match to the dining room table. We learned the manufacturer grows all their rubber trees on their own plantation in Thailand. We were being green with the dinner table and didn't even know it!
This is the chair we purchased. The chair was the most expensive item of the day. It is gorgeous and comfy and I love it. It's nice enough we can bring it into the living room to use as extra seating for company. I'm even thinking of buying one more.
Here's a close-up of the material. Kind of looks like alligator, but I doubt it's real.
We still need to think about the art work for the room. I'm thinking we should hang our Napa Valley framed map and the signed menus we've collected over the years. Once that is done we'll be moving on to the next room.

Are you still decluttering? I haven't done anything yet this week. But I have box of desk supplies and office items I need to clean out to see what can be used in the office area. Stay tuned!
Sweet P

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Bathroom Is Done!

Thanks for all the suggestions on our bathroom decorating. All the ideas were wonderful. I liked the idea of a knee wall or half wall, but there isn't even space to put on in. Yesterday we to Abode Home Furnishings. Think Pier 1, but much better. We went looking for a desk and chair for my office area. While we were there we found an espresso colored ladder shelf. This is one of the options we had been thinking about and when we saw one we knew it was what we needed for the bathroom.

Here is the shelf assembled and in it's new home in the bathroom. This week I'm going to Target to buy white fluffy towels to put on the bottom shelf. I'm also going to buy a plant or two to put on the shelves to add some green (read life) to the room.
Here is a close-up of the wall art we have for the bathroom. We bought these two prints six years ago for our old bathroom. They look great in the new bathroom, too. It's a little hard to tell in the photos, but the original art work was made with pieces of fabric. I'm assuming the fabric was fused to the background. The edges of the fabric pieces have been left raw. It's a technique that would be fun to try. This piece is hanging next to the counter top.
This piece is hanging over the shelf.
We have finished painting the kitchen/dining/office area. We did find a desk and chair at Abode and I will share photos of the new furniture and space tomorrow. We are still waiting for the paint to dry.

Tonight I can't wait to take a bubble bath in my completed bathroom!
Sweet P