Thursday, March 29, 2012

Penne with Andouille Sausage and Peppers

 I was thinking last night that it might be literally since January that I've made a full meal for other people. Between budget meetings, wine club, birthdays and my husband working nights, I've settled into a sad routine of frozen turkey burgers for one. I don't have an earth-shattering recipe to share today, but it's a meal-for-one that is a) easy and b) doesn't feel pathetically sad: penne pasta with andouille sausage and peppers.

I've taken to making double the serving of penne lately and saving half of it for later in the week, which makes this a quick and easy dish to whip together. I start by slicing up an andouille sausage (I bought mine at Trader Joe's) and frying the slices in olive oil. I put a little more than a tablespoon in there because the oil + meat juices is going to form the base of your sauce for the pasta.

 Trader Joe's sells awesome frozen fire-roasted peppers and onions, which have become a staple in my freezer. But tons of other brands sell comparable frozen peppers you could buy if you don't have a Trader's.

Once the sausage was cooked on both sides, I added frozen peppers and onions and sprinkled with salt and pepper.

 Then, I sprinkled this Cajun seasoning over the mixture and added a teensy bit more olive oil. As the frozen veggies thaw, they'll also add a little water to the mixture, so you really start to create a sauce.

Once the peppers and onions were cooked, I added the refrigerated penne and tossed until it was coated in the cajun-y olive oil mixture.

Et voila! It's easy, tasty, SPICY (andouille sausage is no joke) and for extra healthiness, I used the Barilla Plus pasta. We're not changing the world over here, but it is a recipe you can pull together out of ingredients that don't go bad within 5 days of purchase, and THAT'S worth a post alone.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Eating and Admiring in Onancock

 I know I already shared some pics from our Eastern Shore visit, but I had a few more I wanted to post, if you don't mind.

Sean and I went to eat at Mallards on the Wharf, which is a lovely little restaurant in the old Hopkins Bros. store building.

Sean stayed in his safe zone and got a burger, but I ordered a rockfish sandwich, with lemon horseradish mayo and kettle chips. It was good, especially on the toasted bun.

 The houses were so sweet and lovely...I couldn't decide which was my favorite: this blue one with an amazing porch...

 Or this handsome one with a picket fence and a backyard that backed up to an inlet.

I never stop loving industrial lighting!

Exploring the Eastern Shore

I woke up Saturday with an urge to go exploring and despite predictions of rain, Sean and I decided to cross that mammoth Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel and go to the Eastern Shore. I think a normal Eastern Shore tour is supposed to include kayaking and horses, but that'll just have to be another day. Here are some peeks at the day, care of my Android's faux instagram.
 This was waist-high in the historic Hopkins Brothers Store.
This is a shot from the inside of the beautiful Market Street Antiques, which had AMAZING prices on gorgeous wood dressers and bureaus.
 How gorgeous would these antique billiards balls be displayed in a man room somehow?
The back room is an incredible architectural salvage, full of gorgeous old doors, mantles, industrial lights and more. I told Sean when we buy a house, we're going out there with a truck.
 The coolest part of the day for  me, actually, was stopping at the gift shop/rest area on the Chesapeake Bridge after the second tunnel. That little hiccup is where one of the tunnels kind of blew my mind.
We walked down to the end of the pier and saw a tween girl start shrieking, "Shark! I caught a shark!" We all looked over the edge and WOW, she really did. It was probably a little short of 2 feet long (seriously) and though they tried valiantly to reel it in, it broke the line just shy of the edge of the dock. I wanted to take a picture but was too afraid I'd drop my phone! It was a crazy moment.

Afterward we stopped at Cheesecake Factory in Virginia Beach and folks, the portion sizes are insane. Sean said he ate more food than he has in his entire life. That place is crazytown, but is crazy delicious. It makes me guilty and proud to be American, as I told my Facebook.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sunday Best v.102

Mia Farrow with her mommy, Maureen O'Hara. Gorgeous girls, found here.
  • Katniss, Peeta and Gale's music video. (Still a Peeta girl, no matter what!)
  • A letter from a man that says women aren't crazy.
  • Very depressing, but amazing pictures of abandoned buildings in Detroit.
  • What takes down Batman? speed limits.
  • How did George Takei get so good at Facebook?
  • The best piece I read about the death of Trayvon Martin.
  • And, a heartbreakingly beautiful wedding.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Wino Wednesday: The Price is Right?

Ever perused the wine list at a restaurant and thought, "Ugh, I don't know where to begin?" You have two thoughts: I don't want to pay too much, but I don't want a crappy wine. You never want to spend too much for an overpriced wine, but surely a higher price means something, right?

NO. This was resoundingly proven at Wine Club last night at our first-ever "blind price test." We each pitched in $10 bucks and our fearless amateur sommelier Erica purchased six wines (three whites and three reds) ranging in price from $2.99 to $27.99. We tried each and wrote down what we thought the price might be. Let's just say we were in for some surprises...Melissa had the best score and she got two right. I missed ALL of them.

BUT before we got down to that business, we cuddled with Erica's new puppy, Gus or Bruce. Name TBA. We vote Gus, but we welcome your input in the comments.

So, here were the wines and their prices. I'll put what I THOUGHT their price was and maybe that will tell you something about how good they were.

This chardonnay got better and better with each sip, but for some reason, it struck me as a $6.99 wine. NOPE. $11.99 for Clos du Bois, and it was quite good.

 So the second wine was so watery and tasteless, we compared it to rubbing alcohol with a hint of white grape juice. I placed it in the $2.99 category. We were SHOCKED to find out it was Clos Saint Michel, a very specific varietal that isn't common, and costs $27.99. It was NOT GOOD.

Stone Cellars' Pinot Grigio had a floral scent and a pretty bouquet of flavors. Something about it felt rich to me, so I guessed it was the big ticket item. Nope! A very reasonable $7.

 Everyone loved this spicy cabernet sauvignon. I thought it might be the $11.99, but was an AWESOME $3.99.

I forgot to include a picture, but we also tried Yellow Tail's Shiraz and OMG I probably forgot to take a pic because it was so damn good. We all loved its smoothness  and it rings up to $3.99!

Finally, we had this tart Merlot, which I guessed was about $3.99, but it was actually $2.99. Not too shabby.

So, although this should have been clear to all, don't judge a wine by its price (although we all judge by labels!).

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Week in Popular Culture

Could any week be more exciting? Add wine club, plus my hopeful return to eating solids, and this will be the best week ever.

Which are you most excited about? I honestly can't pick, but I might lean toward Hunger Games. In the meantime, I'm rewatching season 4 of Mad Men like I'm cramming for a test...17 months is a loooong break from a TV show.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Sunday Best v.101

Photo by Sam Hood, from 1930s. Found here.

Forgive the radio silence and late Sunday Best...I was battling some pretty gnarly food poisoning and slept almost all of Sunday! Definitely on the mend today, although my whole body is sore.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Get Your Irish On!

As you prepare to down pints of Guiness and Smithwick's and shots of Bailey's for St. Pat's, feast your eyes on the gorgeous Irish countryside paintings of Rosemary Carr

Carr paints using a palette knife at her home studio in Connemara. Dream life, yes? I found her work through lovely Jane Flanagan's blog, Seen and Said

As for us, we're heading out to party in the streets of Norfolk tonight. It's funny to go do the super fake commercial Irish thing knowing that next month, we'll be doing it up authentic style. Do you have fun St. Pat's plans? May I recommend making Sean's Grandma's stew? It's delish.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Blurry Pictures of Nail Polish

...that I took while sitting at stoplights.

Top picture: Butter nail polish in Minger, finally the perfect pumpkin!

Bottom picture: Essie Smooth Sailing.

That is all. No other updates to report, except that I went to three budget meetings in two days. I also improvised dinner last night with leftover penne, andouille sausage and frozen fire-roasted peppers sauteed in olive oil, salt and pepper and Cajun seasoning. It was delish and totally thrown-together, which was exciting, but I took no pictures, so just trust me on this one.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Share Your Packing Tips!

 Photo of Anita Ekberg packing to come to America, LIFE Magazine 1951

I didn't intend on making this a travel-themed week, but you guys had a couple great packing tips to share after my Hunter Boots post yesterday and now I'm wondering what other packing secrets you're harboring.

I'm the kind of person who either packs perfectly or does a nightmarish job of it, usually depending on how much time I took to do it and how much I know about the trip. My mom, for as long as I've known her, has literally made a strict wardrobe guide for each day of a trip, which is fine but doesn't leave room for changing one's mind on a whim. 

Here are the only tips I have:
  • Pack a bag for laundry
  • Pack an extra tote or empty duffel for souvenirs, either to carry on the plane back or just to carry your stuff back to the car easier.
  • Don't stress too much about packing can almost always get what you need at your destination if necessary.
  • Try to pack basic colors, with colorful accents. Don't pack too many items that don't match anything else. (I'm still working on learning that lesson!)
  • Pack band-aids or a blister guard in your purse if you expect to do a lot of walking. I have spent SO many trips dipping in and out of Duane Reades and Rite-Aids to buy band-aids for my blisters.
  • If you can, wear flats in the airport. It makes security checks SO much easier.
My friend Sarah cleverly suggested packing items inside of my wellies if I put them in my suitcase...sounds like the perfect spot for tights, socks and — on the way home — laundry bags.

Now what tips do you guys have? I'm especially interested in lessons you learned when you traveled internationally for the first time!

Senior girl leaves Monticello College, June 1946. LIFE photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt

Monday, March 12, 2012

Hunter Boots

Photo by Emerson Made.

 In my excitement about going to Ireland, I've been thinking a lot about wardrobe and items that can do double-duty, thus saving some room in my luggage. The other day I asked Sean if it really does rain a lot and he confirms it can. With average highs in April of 57-60, I was thinking a pair of boots might be smart to pack.

Photo by Emerson Made 

I started thinking the classic Hunter Boots might be perfect (although a bit rigid in my suitcase). They're supposedly indestructible, super fitted tall rainboots that have the look of a normal boot but work hard for the money. They seem perfect for a week that could include walks on city sidewalks, country fields and rocky beaches.

 Hunter Boots have been around 1856, and the green ones were introduced in 1956. They've been worn by royalty, like Princess Diana, while tromping in the countryside.

They're definitely on the pricey side (I bought mine here), but I'm hoping this will be the last pair I buy (at least for a long time). My previous pair was from Nine West and started falling apart within a year or two of purchase. I'm not usually the splurgy type, but I'm pretty excited about these bad boys. For Ireland, I'm planning on packing these, my Sperrys and one pair of flats to get the job done.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sunday Best v.100

Loving everything about this girl's outfit, captured by the Sartorialist. The blazer, the scarf, the bag, the jeans, the moccasins...all great.

Forgive me for skipping Sunday Best last week when I was entertaining...a couple of these links are a little old, but still work a clickity click!

Also, funny story: I went to number this entry as 90 and when I looked at my Sunday Best tag, it showed 99 entries. So this is number 100, and apparently I don't pay attention when I'm numbering these things!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Life Lessons from You Tube

Don't let that biddy Adele cover your song, because she will have her way with it and make it her bitch.

*This post was brought to you by a glass of wine and meeting fatigue culminating in extreme YouTubing and weepy Adele sing-a-longs.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

That Rug Really Tied the Room Together

Nothing too exciting to report in these parts, but I do have the tiniest of tiny makeovers to show. I bought my braided kitchen rug in like, 2005 and it's safe to say I'm pretty over it. The threads were starting to unravel a bit too (it was from Target) and I was admiring the new Moroccan-inspired patterned rug in my friend Melissa's kitchen.

So I was excited to spot this el cheapo $14 faux suzani rug at World Market. It has the blue shade that reflects all my robin's egg blue accessories (like the KitchenAid mixer), and still has the red to go with all my red accessories.

It does, as the Dude in The Big Lebowski would say, tie the room together.

In other news, I picked the paintbrush up again, with so-so results. It'll take time to ease back into the habit, you know?

Monday, March 5, 2012

Weekend: Skirt Sewing and Mochi

This past weekend was another busy one of hosting an out-of-town friend, this time my high school pal/bridesmaid Sarah, who graciously came to teach me how to read a pattern!

I must be honest; I don't think this blog could possibly become a learn-to-sew blog because a) i have no idea what I'm doing and b) it's hard to remember to take pictures when you're learning to sew!

In lieu of great shots of our sewing adventures, here's some shots from the weekend:

On Friday, I read Dr. Seuss books to kindergartners...perfect excuse to wear my new red pants from Gap.

On Saturday, Sarah and I headed to Joann's to pick out some fabric to make a skirt, using a Simplicity pattern my mom gave me. We were really tempted to buy this ridiculous man candy fabric...

But ultimately went with a kelly green cotton. The skirt, unfortunately, is about an inch too small in the waist for me (motivation perhaps?), but we could get it to zip at least. Sarah also incredibly generously gifted me with Martha's Encyclopedia of Sewing...I'm so excited that I've actually added another skill (very, very rudimentary mind you) to my oeuvre!

I also introduced Sarah to mochi ice cream. Have you ever had mochi ice cream? It's ice cream wrapped in a chewy, puffy rice cake. It's so weird and yet so delicous and fun. I always buy it at Trader Joe's.

How was your weekend? I have an extremely busy week ahead, full of meetings and such, but I hope I'll have some time to breathe and hopefully update this here blog some more.