Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Mid-Year Resolution

I’m terrible with New Year’s resolutions. I rarely make them, and when I do, they’re very vague. Like, “I will exercise more this year” or “I will eat fewer sweets.” I try not to set myself up for failure. But then, I think it’s so easy to fail when it’s January 1, and you’re trying to get in gear for a new year, trying to put away the decorations from Christmas, and worrying about all the money you just spent.

So, this year, I have decided I will make my resolutions on my birthday. And I’ve already begun my first resolution:

I will bake something every week.

When we moved into the new house, I was astounded by all the baking supplies I have, as I had to unpack them all to a spot in the kitchen where they are now prominently displayed. I have enough pie plates to bake 7 pies at once. I have round cake pans to make a layered cake. I have loaf pans for bread, casserole dishes, half-casseroles and two rolling pins (one of which was passed down from Greg’s mother – a family heirloom, with a beautiful note – which we got for our wedding).

For my first week, I made a pecan pie. The crust was not as flaky as I would have liked, but it turned out well, I think. Last week, I made these, which I saw on Rachel's blog, Heart of Light:

Mind you, I burnt one of the batches, and some of them fell apart because I couldn’t keep the dough cool enough while I rolled it out and cut the cookies, but the ones that turned out well tasted really good. The Mister wasn’t as fond of them as I was – they weren’t overly sweet, but then I like deserts that are light and fluffy.

This week, the goal is banana bread. I’ve got two very ripe bananas awaiting my deft skills (HA!). I’ve used the same banana bread recipe for years, but I think it’s time to branch out. I may even add some nuts to it this time.

So, for the next 52 weeks, I plan to make something each and every week. Something from scratch. Something tasty that my husband and I can snack on all week, or that I can take in to work to share. In the end, I hope that my baking skills improve and that I become more confident when I’m creating a crust or a bread or delicate cookies. I also hope to chronicle my successes (and failures) here. This week will begin the official start of the resolution. Wish me luck!

Birthday Wishes Part 3

Again, with the birthday list...

10. A dresser.

I’ve lived the last 8 years of my life without a dresser. I’ve made due with plastic bins on wheels from Wal-Mart, but I’m starting to feel like that solution is very college-student and not very grown-up-woman-with-a-husband-and-a-new house. So, here are a few dressers that would fit the bill. We need something compact, but that uses its space very efficiently, and something that the hubby and I can share with ease.

This one from ebay is awesome – I could just see a few baskets underneath, photos on top, and Greg and I could easily divvy up the drawers.

I love this style of furniture – although it’s much harder to share when there are an odd number of drawers. At least it would be low profile.

But something simple like this would be perfect.

I have to admit, I would love something like this, but it’s a bit too large for my current needs.
11. A kitchen cart.

As I mentioned before, our new kitchen is not storage-friendly. We need a kitchen cart to play a few roles – extra counter space (one with an extendable leaf would make this much easier), drawer space for excess everything, and perhaps some space underneath to store a few extra items of importance.

12. Tank tops.

I love wearing tank tops over the summer. I could live in them. I even wear them to work when I can get away with it (under a tasteful jacket or sweater, of course). The ones I have are mostly three or four years old now, and starting to show their age. I could do with a new collection so I could throw out some of the older, fading and holey pieces. And there’s nothing like Old Navy for tank tops. Cheap, colorful and fun.

13. An amazing dinner, made by my Mister.

Since I’m 26, this will be my final fantasy gift, and hopefully one that (ahem) isn’t so much of a fantasy. My husband is great at improvising. He’s even better when he finds a great recipe and improvises on top of it. This is how he ended up making Brie-Stuffed Rosemary Chicken. And yes, it’s every bit as good as it sounds. For my 26th birthday, I would love nothing more than for that man to make me something so good that I wish there were seconds and thirds and fourths. I want to sit in our new home and eat by candlelight, laughing about the first gift he ever got me (it was a blender, and I loved it despite how silly it is to get your girlfriend a blender while you’re at a summer camp with no kitchen, no electrical power, and no way to use it for another two months). I’d love to use our nice china and the toasting glasses from our wedding. I’d love to drink champagne (even the cheap stuff) and eat fresh summer strawberries for dessert. I’d love to go sit on the back porch while we digest and watch our puppy play in the yard, while we talk about the children we’ll have someday, while we enjoy an after-dinner cocktail or four. I’d love to forget about work, and school, and money, and have an evening for the two of us. Because in this world of economic crisis and growing tumult between every political and social group known to man, it’s nice to spend an evening with the man you love and be reminded why you married him. To celebrate the fact that we’re still newlyweds and we still have many years of bliss to come. I can think of no better birthday gift than an evening of doting on each other. That and not having to make dinner or do the dishes. THAT would be awesome.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Birthday Wishes... continued

Continuing the great Birthday Wish List of Doom...

4. A great chair.

Whether it ends up in a reading corner or sitting at
my cute little desk, I could do so much with a simple chair like this one.
Or maybe something a little more fabulous, that can sit in the corner and look awesome. Like
this one from ye olde barn.

5. A few new summer dresses.

Something breezy, comfortable, work and weekend-friendly would be nice. Like these from J Crew, Gap, Gap and Banana Republic, respectively.
6. A new pair of slippers.

My fantastic Steve Madden fuzzy slippers (bought circa 1999, if you really wanted to know) are wearing thin, and I think it might be time for a new pair.

Maybe some adorable penguins?

Or something to make me feel like a ballerina…
Or, perhaps something more sensible, and ultimately more durable?
7. A great little bistro table for our breakfast nook.

We have a perfect little nook for quiet breakfasts, overlooking our adorable back yard. It would be lovely to have a table that would fit the space, and we already have two bistro chairs with no home. A match made in heaven, no?

8. A ring to help me channel my inner Carrie Bradshaw.

I’ve been watching entirely too much Sex and the City, and Carrie always wears a single ring on her right hand. I love that ring, and I’ve been looking for my very own.
This one on the left might do quite nicely, but it’s a little pricey for a birthday gift.

9. Storage galore.

Our new house has few nooks for storage, so I need some help. Under bed storage, closet storage, easy hideaway solutions would help so much.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Birthday Wishes

My birthday is in less than a month – June 22. So begins the season of birthday wishlists.

This year, my birthday will be a little less hooplah than in years past. Greg and I both agreed that we were spending a lot of money on a house right now, including all the little extras we’re having to purchase in order to get our house into good organizational order. With all that money being spent, putting a lot of funds into birthday gifts seems extravagant. My big gift this year is a beautiful home and garden, and the fact that we don’t have to buy a new car right this second.

That said, a girl can still dream about all those things she’d love to have if money were no object, and the residual costs didn’t add up to hundreds of dollars in unnecessary spending. So, over the next couple of weeks, I’m going to be posting the Fantasy Wish List. And, if you just can’t stand to see me go without, I’ll be happy to send you my home address, so you can buy me whatever your heart desires and ship it to me free of charge. I just know you guys are generous like that.

With that, I begin.

1. This state necklace.

Via Design Crush

I was born and raised in Oklahoma, and over the last two years, I’ve fallen in deep love with Tulsa in particular. Especially now that we have our little cottage in the older part of the city, surrounded by interesting little shops, mom & pop eateries and a REAL grocery store. This little gem would be the perfect way to profess my love for the state which has raised me.

2. The iPhone.

I’m coming to accept the fact that I will never own one. The $30 a month for the data plan suddenly seems too much to bear, considering all theother goodies I want. But this Samsung has similar functions, including internet, for only $15 extra a month!

That’s music to my eyes. I might be willing to compromise my wants for this one….

3. A buffet or sideboard.

Our kitchen is small and our dining room lacks any kind of storage whatsoever. My pretty china needs a place to live, and I think this beauty from Anthropologie would be the perfect home.

I also kind of love a few of the items from Ikea, like this crazy yellow mofo.

And this sideboard, where my pretty china could see and be seen.

There will be more to come, I'm sure. Stay tuned for continued wishes!