Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Dinner with Deb

Two lovely ladies joining me
for a meal! What could be better?
This baby is bringing out in me a desire for friends and home. . .and food! That's a lot of fun! We got to enjoy a weekday dinner with our wonderful friend, Deb. I don't know why, but having friends over for dinner on weeknights is such a fun thing - maybe because it feels a little naughty (friends on school nights was a big 'no-no' in my childhood home).

We had a really yummy, but super simple meal of pasta with chunky vegetable sauce, salad, and garlic bread, heavy on the garlic. I did make the salad dressing myself, but following the recipe made a very thick (thick like pudding) dressing that I really had to doctor up to make it applicable to a salad.

Michele made the salad - so good!
And, yes, those are more of our
volunteer tomatoes!
The pasta sauce was actually made in response to a comment Michele made when we had the Tomato Venus Soup I shared the recipe for last week: "Yum, this would be good over pasta!" At the time, I thought that although it was a kinda thick soup it was far too soupy for a pasta sauce, but the idea stuck with me. To make it more sauce-appropriate, I chunky-cut a bunch of veggies (carrots, zucchini, broccoli, green peppers, red onion, and pretty much anything else I had in the crisper) and sauteed them up, then I went pretty much along with the recipe for the soup - just didn't garnish it with butter or sour cream at the end. It turned out really good and was an excellent way to clean out those last bits of half-used veggies in the fridge!

I really love this chunky sauce! And it's really pretty, too!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Gifts from Heart and Hands

In addition to the wonderful gifts of time, labor, and friendship we are being showered with, we've been blessed with some other wonderful things, too.

I know I mentioned previously the wonderful pregnancy organizer from our friend Deb - it has SO come in handy - well, my mom, who also knows us well, recently sent us a package. One of the best parts was that it was addressed to M + M and Zordan (our baby's temporary name until we meet and find out if s/he's a she (Zoe) or a he (Jordan)).

And inside, was a reference guide to babies (in response to my frequent comment to my mom: I really hope there's a book on that!) and a Michael Jackson DVD, for Michele, MJ's biggest fan.

To join the Dr. Suess book the the lovely Bridget gifted us with early on, we now have a collection of Winnie the Pooh books from Sue. They are currently gracing the book case in the new living room - right next to where the awesome accent chair will be - the perfect spot for reading time!

And then there are the baby blankets! Our dear friend Sue collected many, many baby blankets when she was pregnant with her now four-year-old son, Max. And she's started us out right with the beginnings of a collection of our own. One very special one was hand-knit by Sue! I know it will be a favorite!

We just feel so blessed with all the love in all these gifts and know that little Zordan will feel blessed as well!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Operation: Making Room for Baby: Progress Report

Beautiful windows that
open and stay open
without the need
of props!
So wonderful!!
And much progress there is!! The transformation of our workout room/den into our baby's room has been really fun to watch. I'd like to say that I've been watching patiently, but it's been really hard for me since I haven't gotten to be involved in anything in that room up to this point, except a little pre-transition cleaning. But it's still all really exciting!!

Lovely windows
that tilt in for easy
cleaning! What a joy!

Today, Michele and her wonderful friend and coworker, Julio, installed beautiful new, energy-efficient windows. It was such a treat to come home to these gorgeous new, functional windows! Oh, so exciting!!

This week, Michele will be putting the final coats of paint on the room and the closet and then I get to get my hands in on it! I'll be laying the floor this weekend and installing shoe molding. And then I'll be hanging the window treatments and outfitting the closet with a closet organizational system, similar to what I installed throughout my studio. I imagine I'll finish the floor and molding this week and I'll start the closet system next week, but soon, very soon, the major work of our baby's room will be finished!! 
Our old, retired windows!
Thank you for your service!

AND we get our new living room furniture this week too!! It's a fun, fun week at the Wescott house!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Funky Fruit

I just picked this funky tomato. Pretty cool - almost too cool to eat (almost, but not quite!)
Conjoined Twin Tomatoes
And I have recently become addicted to lemon in my water. Not a slice or two, but half a lemon in my bottle. This morning, the sight of the bright yellow lemon in my lime green bottle with the sun shining through was too beautiful to pass up for a photo-op.
As pretty as it is tasty!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Tomatoes and Other Yummies: Recipes Galore

I have a few more recipes to share from my recent abundance of tomatoes. Actually we've only had a moderate number of tomatoes, but they've been SO good that I've been building meals around them and it seems for the last few weeks, every meal has been tomato-heavy. I hope you enjoy these yummies.

from Cooking Like a Goddess (my favorite cookbook):

Tomato Venus Soup - can be served warm or cold
1 Qt can of crushed tomatoes
3-4 large ripe tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup oil-packed sundried tomatoes, drained and chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion (I had used 1/2 a Vidalia onion in another recipe, so I substituted that for the red onion and it was DELICIOUS!!)
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil, or 1 tbsp dried
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
sea salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1-2 tbsp melted butter (optional and only if the soup will be served warm)
sour cream as topping (optional)
I also added a dash or two of cayenne (of course!)

In a bowl if serving chilled or in a saucepan if serving warm, combine all ingredients down through the black pepper. If you are serving warm, simmer for about 10 minutes, then, if desired (oh, you desire, it's so good!) add 1-2 tbsp of melted butter. Warm or cold, it's yummy to top each bowl with a dollop of sour cream and basil leaves.

Tomato Venus Soup
I paired this soup with the following salad:
from new vegetarian cuisine (another favorite cookbook):

Cherry Tomato Gazpacho Salad (using those lovely volunteer tomatoes from my garden!)
1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/2 cup peeled, seeded, and diced cucumbers
1/2 cup diced zucchini
1/2 cup diced sweet red peppers
1/4 cup chopped Vidalia onions
2 tbsp red wine vinegar (I used balsamic since I didn't have red wine vinegar)
2 tsp olive oil
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp minced shallots
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp finely minced jalapeno peppers
1/4 tsp Mrs. Dash
1 cup of garlic croutons

In a bowl, mix together everything from tomatoes down through onions. In a seperate small bowl, whisk together every else except the croutons. Pour sauce over salad and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Divvy up and top each serving with croutons. Yummy!!

Cherry Tomato Gazpacho Salad
Later in the week we enjoyed the following:
also from new vegetarian cuisine:

Mexican Stuffed Potatoes
1 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup drained canned Mexican-style corn
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (I left this out since Michele and I are not fans of cilantro)
1/4 cup chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp minced red onions (again, I still had some Vidalia left over, so I used that)
2 tbsp minced scallions
I also added diced zucchini since I had some and thought, "why not?!"
1/2 tsp ground cumin (I really hate cumin, so I left it out. Used my customary dash or two of cayenne instead.)
2 large baked potatoes, warmed (I used this technique to bake my potatoes)
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
sour cream (optional)

In a bowl, mix everything from the beans down through the cumin. Cover and refrigerate for at least one houe. Split the potatoes lengthwise and top with the salsa. Cover with cheddar cheese and pop in the microwave or oven to melt. Michele and I never pass up an excuse to have sour cream so we added a lovely dollop to the top of each. Also, I quadrupled the recipe to make enough for the week and baked 10 potatoes and just stored it all in the fridge. The longer the salsa mixture sits the more intense the flavors (i.e. the yummier it gets!!)
Mexican Stuffed Potatoes

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Transition from Parlor to Living Room: A Pictorial Review

As I think I mentioned before, part of our "make room for baby" plans involved creating a living room (a relaxed space to visit with friends, hang out as a family, watch Star Trek (and other things, I guess), read, and just veg. Since the baby's room is what was the workout room/den, we needed to get this room started so that we could get that room cleaned out. So, we began the transition from what we called our parlor (a place to sit and contemplate the cosmos with friends over copious amounts of tea) into a comfy, cozy, colorful living room. Here's how we're doing so far:
This is the room before. Yes, I forgot to take actual before pictures.
This is from Christmas, but ignore the pretty lady and take note of the
less than comfy yellow couch and ivory silk wallpaper.

Wallpaper gone!
Prepping and priming and priming and prepping!

And finally color! I've been waiting for the entire six years we've lived here
to have some color on these walls. Oh how I love this color.
Butterscotch - Low VOC Martha Stewart paints

And painting is complete! It's really hard to get accurate color
in these pictures, but Michele keeps saying "Oh, I want to eat
the walls. It looks just like butterscotch pudding!"

And a new rug! We love this rug so much - it coordinates SO
well with the colors of the room!

And the original sheers have been washed and returned to their place of glory.
I still need to make the accent drapery panels - it's on my incredibly long to-do list!

And then there was light! One lamp from the previous parlor and one claimed
from the dining room. The room is really coming together now!

And, of course, a room is never fully dressed without a cat!
Pollux had to be the first to check out the new room and new rug!
Now, we just patiently await the delivery of our comfy new couch and accent chair and ottoman. Just wait til you see what color those are! We put a big ole check mark beside "colorful" in the qualifications for our new living room!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Garden Volunteers

My friend, Anne, commented a few posts ago that I haven't mentioned my garden this season. She's very right and the reason is that I didn't put one in this year. I prepped my 4 square-foot boxes and had them ready and waiting and then six straight weeks of incredible morning sickness (lasting from the time I woke up til 4 pm, at least!) kept me from every planting anything. I was blessed by the garden fairy, however, with garden volunteers: tomato plants that just decided to plant and sow themselves from fruit that fell last year! We've had a wonderful crop of unexpected orange and red cherry tomatoes that we've enjoyed so much! I LOVE garden surprises like this!

A garden full of volunteer tomato plants! What could be better?!

Finding beautiful unexpected fruit is such a blessing!

Red and orange and simply delicious!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Exciting Changes

Everything is so exciting right now. So much is up in the air, or rather, so much is to come that right now could be an impatient time of waiting, waiting, waiting for me, but it's not. Our friend Sue was over for dinner last night and the three of us discussed how impatient I normally am and I was thinking about that this morning. I really am VERY impatient, but with this whole journey to our baby's arrival, I just feel super excited. I think it's because every day is full of something fun and new, some exciting change. And since I'm finally feeling most excellent, I get to enjoy them all.

Here are a few things I've enjoyed over the past few weeks:

Me - I'm really enjoying the changes with my body as our baby grows. I had a hard time with this in the beginning, I think because I was SO sick, but now, it's just thrilling to experience how my body is creating everything our little miracle needs.

16 Weeks - Heading off to my first
prenatal yoga class. Oh how I LOVE yoga!!
17 weeks wearing what has turned out to be my FAVORITE
pregnancy outfit to date!
Comfy, comfy, comfy, all my favorite colors, and a citrus-fruit
covered skirt! Who could ask for more!?
Our home - I've always been a collector of things, so I thought the drive the purge would really freak me out ("Oh no! Where is all my stuff!"), but it's been really great! I love seeing my house more organized and weeding out the un-needed that has just been taking up space. I also LOVE having a reason to re-paint or paint rooms! Decorating my home has always been one of my favorite things, so taking this perfect opportunity to redo a few rooms has been a joy!

Michele prepping and priming our new living room for paint.
She is helpfully assisted by the lovely BethAnn who does not
like her picture taken, but was a huge help in getting this room ready!

Friends - We've always been surrounded by loving people, but with the baby coming, love has just been overflowing! We're so grateful to all our wonderful friends for the calls, Facebook messages, visits, dinners, and especially for the painting and reorganizing assistance! It's really all been such a wonderful blessing!

The meal we're about to serve our dear friend Sue (who also hates her picture taken)
after she spent the morning putting the first coat of paint on our baby's room.
Mexican Stuffed Baked Potatoes (recipe in a post to follow)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Work, Work

This will be a busy week! We have a lovely friend coming over on Sunday to paint our baby's room. For some that may mean just cleaning out the room and prepping it for paint, but not for me. For me, that means, clearing out our current parlor and prepping it for paint, painting, and transitioning the items from the current workout room/den into the parlor, which is becoming a living room. And then prepping the former workout room for paint as it becomes the baby's room. And we're doing it all this week. We actually got a really great start last night: Michele and I transitioned the currrent parlor rug into the foyer and sorted all the parlor furniture into keep for living room, transition to another room, or sell at yard sale. Then our lovely friend, Beth Ann, came over and helped Michele remove all the wallpaper in the parlor - thankfully it was the original silk wallpaper, so it came down in wonderful big sheets. Michele's next step for that room is to sand and prime the walls so they are ready for painting on Saturday. My next step in that room is to decide on a paint color. For the six years we've lived here, that room has been a kinda formal tea parlor with off-white silk wallpaper, an antique gold brocade sofa and armchair, and fancy gold, scarlet, and seafoam brocade drapes. Now that it will be a living room, I want something fun and lively. And I'm finding it hard to decide. . .

We are well on our way to being ready for painting on Sunday and baby in a few months, which is VERY exciting! The only thing that Michele and I just realized last night is there is no longer anywhere to sit and relax in our house. The couch we picked out for the living room won't be delivered for about 3 weeks and we've disassembled the futon from the workout room/den to clear out that room. Well, there's always the sunporch and cool glasses of iced tea to celebrate an evening of hard work - or ice cream, like the yummy raspberry truffle the wonderful Bridget brought over to cap off our work day! Ahh, ice cream with friends after a hard day of work, what could be better?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Fun Food and Drink

Michele and I - okay, mostly me, but Michele's a great sport - have always had fun trying out new recipes. It's especially been fun trying out new things during this pregnancy. We're of course trying the eat really healthy - even healthier than normal! - but we have to be pretty creative because I get tired of things a lot quicker than usual. I thought I'd share a few of my favorite recipes so far.

Oh so yummy: Lemon Arugula Soup
I actually found this recipe in Whole Living magazine, but you can also find it on this blog. The blogger made some of the same adjustments that I did - substituting vegetable stock for the chicken stock. I also added some cayenne pepper - because I add cayenne to pretty much everything. The only further adjustment I'd make is to add the arugula to each bowl - that way if you don't eat it all in the first sitting, you can reheat the soup and then add arugula to that bowl too. I added the arugula to the pot as the recipe suggested and arugula in the leftover soup was pretty gross on reheating. The soup - after picking out the limp arugula - was super yummy, though!

My favorite Refried Bean Salad
Michele and I have loved this salad since we each first tasted it. It used to be served at a restaurant in Columbus and I think we went there and had this salad on one of our first dates. At the time we were really broke college students and together with drinks, the whole meal for both of us cost only $7 (for BOTH of us, not EACH, BOTH!!)! So we ate this salad A LOT!!

Here's how I make it now:
Refried beans: I use canned black beans - 2 cans. I heat a little olive oil in a pan and mash and fry one can, then add the other can - unmashed. I then add a couple tablespoons of sour cream, a dash of Mrs. Dash, some salt, and a liberal pinch or two of cayenne - of course. That's it for the cooking for this meal.
Lettuce: We used organic romaine and a spinach and mixed greens blend.
Cherry/grape tomatoes: garden fresh is best. Cut them into quarters.
Sliced red onions
Salsa, sour cream, and cheese on top.
Just about the best thing I've eaten, well since the last awesome thing I ate - I have really been enjoying eating lately!!

Pink Frosties
I found the recipe for these on the Ocean Spray website. I must give credit where credit is due, but also must admit that I didn't use Ocean Spray in my version (don't tell Ocean Spray!) Wegman's has a version of the sparkling juice that OS used in the recipe and since I have loads of that at home, I used that - the Pomegranate Cranberry sparkling juice. I paired that with Pomegranate Passion Fruit sorbet - also from Wegman's (hey, Michele works there, I've got to support them!). Oh, these drinks were amazing!! And SO easy and quick to make. Just the two ingredients, plus a straw, because that makes it fun!


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