{Gone Pinning} Falling into fall

GonePinning

Fall is officially here — it seems like it hasn’t stopped raining since the actual official start of fall — and it gets me in the mood for some down-home, crock pot-style comfort food. And wine tasting. And a weekend day that consists of both, hopefully sometime in the near future.

Brussels sprout mac 'n cheese. Thanks for the pin recommendation, Liz!

Brussels sprout mac ‘n cheese. Thanks for the pin recommendation, Liz!

Lasagna!

Lasagna!

Risotto

Risotto

Butternut squash soup

Butternut squash soup

Adorable apple pies

Adorable apple pies

And fall isn't complete without CANDY CORN!

And fall isn’t complete without CANDY CORN!

Check out all of my fall-related pins on my “falling into fall” board. I hope you have a great weekend and I’d love to hear what seasonal deliciousness you’re pinning and enjoying!

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Wine Wednesday: Cork Art!

If you’re like me, you might have more than a few corks hanging around your house. I’ve always been good at hoarding, I mean saving, my corks, which has led to bags and bags of them over the years. Thanks to Pinterest, I found a good use for them: wine wreaths!

I started off with this tutorial from LollyChops and had incredible success. Do take note, though: use a straw wreath (rather than a styrofoam one), straw will get everywhere and you will burn yourself with the hot glue gun(also note that you’ll use A LOT of hot glue, be prepared!). I used a garbage bag as my place mat and have never been so pleased with my forethought. Straw wreaths = a huge mess.

Wine wreaths... the before

Wine wreaths… the before

I followed the LollyChops tutorial as written and ended up with this beauty. Voila! It’s on the front door now, welcoming guests into our home.

Voila! Beautiful wine art made by me!

Voila! Beautiful wine art made by me!

I’ve still got some corks leftover and I’m thinking these might be fun to make… However the timing listed in the tutorial is a bit daunting. I do have a history (successful but lengthy) with styrofoam ball art that I’ll share with you sometime soon. What do you think? Have I inspired you to make a wine wreath or cork ball?

Next cork art project?

Next cork art project?

Pizza! Pizza!

Yum...Pizza...

Yum…Pizza…

Brandon and I love pizza and we’ve decided to take the plunge and BUILD a wood-fire brick oven in the backyard. We had a slab poured in the official pizza oven location when the rest of the patio was and we’re just waiting for a free, non-rainy weekend.

While I wait for the weather and scheduling gods to align, I’ve scoured the internet for designs, how-to’s and other inspirations. (Did someone say gourmet pizza toppings!?)

There are a lot of more rustic round ovens, but we’ve decided to go the more traditional square route. We’re thinking something along the lines of this:

The ideal pizza oven. Can we do it? I hope so!!

The ideal pizza oven. Can we do it? I hope so!!

When we were in Texas last weekend, we saw this gem at Salt Lick Cellars. This is our dream — and it would take up a quarter of our backyard!

Pizza oven at Salt Lick Cellars in Driftwood, Texas

Pizza oven at Salt Lick Cellars in Driftwood, Texas

Now that we’ve figured out the general design, its time to a) find a masonry shop in the greater Seattle area, and b) determine if we want to free-hand design it or use a form kit. There are definitely pros and cons for both, and since we’re beginners, I think a form is in order.

DIY Pizza form. The instructions make it look pretty easy...

DIY Pizza form. The instructions make it look pretty easy…

The best instructions I’ve found are from BrickWood Ovens, and I think the Mattone Barile would be the perfect fit for the backyard. BrickWood Ovens has some great videos that show the building process to take less than 5 minutes. Unfortunately, they also have a how to/spec list that says it will take one person 28 hours to complete the whole project and the instructions list just 44 steps FOR THE BASE of the thing. Oh, and $970.

We have just a few projects left for the backyard and while I continue my pizza oven research project, I’m going to see about ordering the bistro lights to really make the backyard an outdoor living space. EEEEEEEEE! Were almost there! I’ll post photos of our ongoing project soon!

Grace and Gusto

This year I’ve been trying out new recipes, workouts and crafts that I’ve found on Pinterest. I’m calling it my 2013 Pinterest Lifestyle Challenge. Follow along on Pinterest.

April's workout: Grace & Gusto

April’s workout: Grace & Gusto

This month’s workout “Grace and Gusto” was discovered on Comcast’s OnDemand and so far, I totally love it. The tagline for the program is “Get beautifully toned and energized with this graceful fusion of Pilates and ballet basics.” You can read more about it on Amazon.

I’ve had my challenges with Comcast and their billing and internet departments, so this is not an endorsement for the company per se, but I really like their fitness channel on OnDemand. There are a ton of options — cardio, dance, yoga, walking, weight loss, intervals, you name it, it’s there. The programs usually run for six months and they’re a great trial run for the real DVD or just a nice way to mix up at-home workouts.

In January, I did a walking and weights program from Prevention magazine. Read about it here. I didn’t see the expected results, but it was a great workout for general fitness and exercise. I still enjoy the treadmill programs to switch things up.

In February, I tried “Fab Ab February.” I paired the ab and push up exercises with intervals on the treadmill. I definitely saw a positive change in my upper body and core strength, but I managed to mess up my apparently-weak wrists. My wrists are improving, but they’re not back to where they were in January yet. Maybe in May?

March was a little rough and I was supposed to do a “March Forward” type of program on the treadmill. I was really busy with work, prepping for interviews, switching jobs and enjoying spring break and I didn’t really get a chance to work out. Just another reason to give Grace and Gusto a real go!

Go forth with grace and gusto! (And check out Comcast’s OnDemand exercise programming…)

Moss milkshakes

Moss milkshakes

Moss milkshakes

Happy Easter! How do you celebrate?

We’re headed over to my parents’ house this afternoon to hang out with them and my Grandma. This morning we made a delightful breakfast and enjoyed it on the deck in the rare Seattle sun. (It’s been 60 degrees + since Thursday!)

Now that the backyard is squared away (for now), it’s time to make it look a bit more lived in… So, I turned to Pinterest to figure out how.

Turns out, a moss milkshake is in order.

Based on this Pin circulated the interwebs (left), I need to go harvest some moss, find water-retention gardening gel (Home Depot, maybe?) and buy some buttermilk.

That sounds easy enough, right? We’ll see!

I’m a little nervous that this will only work on hard, concrete surfaces (like walls or pots) and not soil, but my fingers are crossed that it will work.

I’ll make some milkshakes and report back soon.

Cheers!?

Top Chef: Seattle! (Spoiler: We were there!)

A few months ago, Top Chef was in Seattle, filming season 10. As luck would have it, I was invited to attend Restaurant Wars with a good friend and my husband. Hands down the best way to spend a Monday morning/afternoon ever.

It's us! On Bravo!

It’s us! On Bravo!

We showed up in our “upscale casual chic” attire (required dress code, we interpreted it as dark skinny jeans and flow-y shirts) and hung out in the backstage/holding tank area with everyone-who-is-anyone in Seattle’s culinary scene. Thankfully a friend of mine at the Convention & Visitors Bureau was there and pointed out all of the local celebrities. There were so many of them!

Close up!

Close up!

 

We waited about an hour and a half to be seated and we were in Kristen’s French restaurant: Atelier Kwan (menu photo below). We enjoyed six courses of food and they were pretty good. We also enjoyed wine with each of the courses. Like I said, the best way to spend a Monday morning/afternoon ever! While we were eating, Brooke came out to chat with us and she was really nice. She’s been our favorite ever since and now she’s in the final two!

Tomorrow is the season 10 finale, and in honor of that, our ‘Pinterest Challenge’ meals this week include our take on Brooke’s most delectable dishes! I made the first one last night, a weeknight version of Smoked Salmon, Forbidden Black Rice with English Pea and Parsnip Puree. I like to Instgram my meals (and my cats) and I tagged Brooke (@ChefBrookeW) in the following photo post and she LIKED it! EEEEEEEEEEE!

Voila!

Voila!

I doubt ours tasted like Brooke’s, but it turned out pretty well.

We’re putting our own spin on Brooke’s Grilled Hanger Steak with Smoked Onion Figs & Cauliflower Puree for the big final on Wednesday.

Happy TV watching and eating!

Top Chef Seattle menu

Top Chef Seattle menu

Cookie Monster!

It’s me again. Look at that: two posts in a row! I’m on a roll!

This post is about cookies. It’s fitting, since it’s the Girl Scout Cookie time of year.

Nom. Nom. Nom. Butter free too!

Nom. Nom. Nom. Butter free too!

I just pulled some delicious, delicious cookies out of the oven. And the best part about them: they’re “healthy.” (At least when it comes to cookies.) These cookies have oatmeal and don’t have butter! (They use canola oil instead of butter.)  Even more healthy? The batter is so oily and nasty that you don’t even want to touch it, let alone eat it.

I was skeptical at first, with the oily batter and all, but these cookies are FANTASTIC!! They’re crunchy, soft and not oily at all. I’d highly recommend making a batch for yourself!

Half Baked Hostess, I love you! These oatmeal chocolate chip cookies are now on our favorites list! Thank you!

I also discovered a recipe for homemade samoas. (Yes, please!) Find it for yourself on the Just a Taste blog. I’ll make them soon and report back.

Now, I’ll leave you with the real Sesame Street Cookie Monster in this “Call me maybe” spoof while I got scarf down a few more cookies.