Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Dining Room Wants...

Feeling really triumphant about the dining room.

It's currently the only room in the house that is done. Well, by 'done', I mean it is not marred by boxes, saddened by bare walls, or shamed by hideous 1970s vertical blinds. It is 'done' in the sense that we could have guests in this room without apologizing (e.g. "Sorry there's no nightstand here in the guest room...our TV is sitting on it right now in the den" or "Sorry there aren't pillows on the couch...we just can't seem to find any we like").

Nonetheless, that doesn't mean the dining room couldn't get *even better*.

Primarily, I've been coveting these last two things to really complete it:

And this wine rack (Crate&Barrel)

We'll see how long it takes to get these or some similar lovelies. I'm keeping my eye open for sales at West Elm / Crate&Barrel, plus watching Craigslist and Ebay. For now, the sideboard (and by 'sideboard,' I mean Ikea Expedit console table) is a fine bar top and my wine glasses will remain hidden in the kitchen cabinets...plus, I've already mentioned my plans for the really unfortunate light fixture...

Monday, June 28, 2010

Family Recipe - Chili

Having go-to meals that can come straight from ingredients in the freezer and/or pantry is a huge-time saver and a great way to avoid what-are-we-going-to-eat stress. This easy, throw-it-in-the-crock-pot-and-forget-about-it chili is that kind of meal for us. (also, today is apparently two-for-the-price-of-one hyphen day)


1 can black beans, drained
1 can pinto beans, drained
2 cans no-salt added diced tomatoes, drained
1 can no-salt added whole kernel corn, drained
1 can Hormel chili starter (we like the 'Texas' kind)
(optional: one cup brown rice)

  1. Open all cans and drain all except the chili starter
  2. Pour beans, corn, tomatoes, and chili starter into crock-pot. Mix.
  3. Cook (either at 'medium' for 5-8 hours or 'high' for 3-4 hours...bubbling is a good sign)
  4. Prepare brown rice (in rice-cooker or on stovetop) and mix into cooked chili if desired prior to serving
We top this chili (and, let's be serious, everything else we eat) with cheese. It is also delicious when accompanied by cornbread (at least, I imagine it would be...in what alternate universe are Matt & I prepared enough to have/make cornbread when we are making chili?)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Chandelier - Painting Project

The dining room is looking good, but we really need to do something about the old, country light-fixture in there.

Now, I'm going to be generous and say this fixture isn't terrible. It's a little spider-like, I think. In any case, it's not what we need. I'm thinking of spray painting it glossy black. Seems like that will coordinate nicely with our dining room palette of aqua, gray, white, and black. Plus, it should help tie in the black sofa (yeah, I don't love that guy, but it was free and sometimes free trumps stylish).

Friday, June 25, 2010

minor success in the dining room

Matt and I received two gorgeous contemporary 11x14 frames as wedding gifts.

Unfortunately, between our photographer, Photobucket, and the Target photo center, we are being foiled at every turn when we try to print oversize photos to fit these frames.

However, I had to beg Matt to hang them, because I the wall I'd planned to put them on was horribly lopsided in their absence.

They looked really silly displaying the store decal on the wall.

Then, in a moment of genius, I thought of a great temporizing measure...I downloaded a great free font (Traveling Typewriter) from DaFont, typed two quotes from our wedding programsaved them as a PDF, and went to the UPS store to have them printed on 11x17 paper (only 50-cents!).

They turned out pretty cool, I think.

Now, these aren't permanent...I'm still hopeful that we can find some gorgeous black&white photos to put in there. Plus, it kind of kills me that I couldn't print them in white text on a black background (it would look so much better with the white mat), but for 50-cents, it's a darn good temporary fix.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

What Does a Urologist Do?

As a recent medical school graduate, I will be starting my residency this July. Residency is the period of specialty training that follows medical school, during which new physicians are closely supervised while gradually developing the skills necessary for independent clinical practice.

I have chosen to specialize in Urology.

What does a Urologist do, anyway?

Urology is a surgical subspecialty that treats a variety of diseases affecting the urinary tract, pelvic floor, and reproductive system in men, women, and children. Commonly-seen conditions include genitourinary (GU) malignancies (kidney cancer, prostate cancer, bladder cancer, testicular cancer, etc), kidney stone disease, incontinence, and male infertility. Urologists also perform GU reconstruction following surgery or trauma and repair congenital GU anomalies.

Urology involves a blend of surgical and medical (i.e. non-surgical) disease management.

One side benefit of practicing Urology are the numerous opportunities for bathroom-humor when people ask "what kind of doctor are you?", and then invariably hear "I am a Neurologist," when you say "I am a Urologist." (humor that goes along the lines of "oh, a little farther South...but a lot of thinking goes on down there as well")

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Blue Dining Table...Done & Done

That blue table? Well, here it is:

Monday, June 21, 2010

Family Recipe - Aunt Veronica's Spinach & Tortellini Soup

Matt and I eat a lot of salads, but sometimes we run into trouble keeping enough fresh greens in the house...seems like we always buy too little and run out or too much and it goes bad. This soup is a good way to get the good stuff without relying on fresh greens.


1 10-oz package frozen spinach (thawed or frozen is okay)
1 package three-cheese tortellini
1 small onion
1 32-oz container vegetable broth
feta cheese to garnish

  1. Bring vegetable broth + 32oz water to rolling boil in large stock pot
  2. Dice onion and add to boiling broth
  3. Add spinach to broth/water (It is fine to add the spinach when it is still frozen...we usually do because who has the foresight to plan ahead and defrost?)
  4. Once spinach is unfrozen and water has returned to rolling boil, add tortellini and cook according to package instructions
  5. Once tortellini is cooked, remove stock pot from heat and add 5-10 ice cubes to stop further cooking (You don't want soggy tortellini)
  6. Season to your taste with salt, garlic, oregano, basil, etc...whatever you have on-hand is good!
Cool before serving. Garnish with feta cheese (don't have feta? try another hard cheese...just avoid anything too soft, because the hot soup will cause it to congeal into a gooey, sticky mess.)

PS. We have to credit our good friend, Veronica, with the origins of this delicious soup.

My Nemesis

Matt and I are fortunate to have a mulberry tree growing in our backyard...and by "fortunate," I mean I hate that tree. It is my nemesis.


1. something that a person cannot conquer, achieve, etc.
2. an opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome.

Having one's own fruit tree seems really cool and loving...a little bit of farm-fresh wholesomeness in the suburbs. WRONG. All this bastard does is drop sticky, gooey, smelly berries *all over* the driveway. They stain the concrete, they attract flies, and they look awful.

Bane of my existence.

Now, you might ask, 'well, JLlo, why don't you just pick the berries and eat them, before they fall on the driveway?' Yeah, that seems logical, until you realize that all the berries are in the tallest branches, way out of my reach, or even Matt's. I thought, maybe, that some local birds might eat them, but apparently nature is constantly foiling me, because the birds just look at the mulberries and laugh.

So, I end up sweeping all the berries off of the driveway...which is not without it's own insanities. Mostly, the grass that borders the concrete is so heavy with mulberries, that, if you just touch a single blade of grass with the broom, it somehow catapults like 30 mulberries from their grassy resting place back onto the driveway.

How much RoundUp does it take to put down a mulberry tree?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Family Recipe - Garbanzos with Spinach and Rice

Matt and I eat a lot of fresh baby spinach...and we love buying it the big, 2-lb plastic clamshell at Costco (so cheap!)...but, sometimes we run into trouble finishing it all before it spoils.

This easy recipe is a great one for using up that extra spinach (and you can buy the garbanzos at Costco too!).


1.5 c brown rice
6-oz fresh baby spinach
2 15-oz cans garbanzo beans, drained
1 medium onion
3 tbs olive oil
2 c water
  1. Cook rice according to package instructions
  2. Dice onion and saute in olive oil over medium heat in large saute pan
  3. Once onion is softened/translucent, add garbanzos to saute pan. Add water. Bring to boil, then cover and simmer for 30-35 minutes.
  4. When garbanzos are nearly done, add spinach to saute pan and recover. Steam spinach for ~5 mins.
  5. Remove garbanzos from heat and drain excess water.
  6. Add rice to garbanzos and spinach.
  7. Season with whatever you have on-hand: salt, pepper, basil, oregano, curry, paprika, etc.

*Note: this time we used kale rather than spinach...it doesn't look at pretty, but it's what we had in the fridge.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Family Recipe - Peanut Pasta with Broccoli and Tofu

You're probably noticing that the recipes I've posted are all meat-free. Indeed, I am an almost-vegetarian (I eat fish, but no meat or poultry). Though Matt enjoys all sorts of hoofed and feathered fare, he is a relatively willing participant in our vegetarian home cooking. Because Matt doesn't particularly love fish, and neither of us wants to take on the challenge of learning how to cook it properly, we eat nearly entirely veg at home.

Done right, vegetarian cooking is easy, nutritious, delicious...and, perhaps best of all, cheap.


1/2 lb whole-wheat rotini
2 heads broccoli, washed, trimmed, and stemmed (kale or green beans are other options here)
2 tbs sesame oil
1 block extra-firm tofu, drained and diced into 1/2" blocks
3 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp honey
1/4 c soy sauce (we use the reduced salt version)
1/4 c smooth peanut butter (we like Smuckers All-Natural)Cook pasta according to package directions in large pot of salted boiling water.
  1. Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water according to package directions
  2. Begin steam broccoli in vegetable steamer until tender
  3. Heat sesame oil in large saute pan on medium heat
  4. Saute tofu for ~8 mins, stirring occasionally. Be sure to flip the cubes so all sides are cooked. Turn heat to medium-low if tofu burns.
  5. Heat peanut butter in microwave until it is very soft
  6. In a large bowl, mix vinegar, peanut butter, honey, and soy sauce until smooth
  7. Add pasta, broccoli, and tofu; toss to combine
Serve immediately or refrigerate and serve chilled.

*You'll notice that I used green beans, not broccoli, in the pictured iteration...again -- just use what you have -- no need to make cooking more challenging than it already is!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Blue Cabinets

I've been really, really wanting to paint our kitchen cabinets a gorgeous robin's-eggy blue.

But, I'm feeling stifled by the reality of our not-so-chic yellow formica countertops and terracotta-esque floors. Add blue cabinets to that, and you get...a mess.

Perhaps I need to settle for a cool blue dining table instead.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Family Recipe - Coconut Rice

There is a lot of talk these days about knowing your 'love language'. Once you get past the cheesy name, this idea is powerful -- the idea that different people express love in different ways.

One way I've always expressed my love to Matt is by making sure that we have plenty of wholesome, nourishing food to eat. Serving nourishing food is a very concrete way for me to show Matt that I care about him. And, slowly, he's beginning to return the favor in kind.

Thus, it's very exciting for us to share some of our most well-worn recipes...recipes that you can make on a Sunday and box up for lunches for the rest of the week or can pull out of the pantry for an easy dinner.


1/2 can lite coconut milk
1 c brown rice
1 tbsp red curry paste
5 eggs
1 package frozen peas (frozen green beans work too)

1. Cook rice according to package directions
2. When rice is ~10 mins from completion, scramble eggs and set aside
3. Microwave frozen peas according to package instructions
4. Simmer coconut milk on low heat in large sauce pan. Mix curry paste into coconut milk.
5. Mix scrambled eggs, peas, rice, and coconut milk mixture in sauce pan on low heat
6. Salt to taste

Thursday, June 3, 2010

So boring

So, I'm a little saddened about the Gore marriage break-up. The story I've heard is that it's amicable, scandal-free, and the result of plain, old "irreconcilable differences".

When I told all of this to Matt, instead of sympathy, he offered this pithy bon mot: "How can two people so boring have so many differences?"