Monday, August 30, 2010

Meal Plan Monday: 8/30

This week is chock full of chicken, thanks to a great deal at Fresh and Easy.

Monday: Stir Fry with chicken.

Tuesday: Entree salads with baked chicken and fresh veggies (we'll also use this all week for lunches)

Wednesday: Baked potato bar. Cheese, green onions, veggies, bacon, left-over chicken (I bought a lot, y'all), chili, etc. Whatever sounds good that day, we'll have.

Thursday: Cream of mushroom Crock-pot chicken. It's easy, Dan likes it, and by the time Thursday rolls around, I'm tired of cooking. Perfect.

Friday: Dos Gringos, as usual :)

Kadence Smaaaaash!

Yesterday, we celebrated our friends' daughter's 1st birthday. It's hard to believe it's been a whole year, and even harder to believe how much she's changed since she was just a newborn at our wedding. She's got the sunshiniest little personality, and she just adores Dan lately. She always reaches for him, and hes happy to oblige. I think she likes that he's big and feels comfy in his arms - like an oversized chair or something.

I spent all day Saturday working on her cakes. In true Brooke form, we had some cake breakage, resulting in another trip to the store for more supplies. But in the end, her cakes came out great, in my humble opinion. I was very proud of them. Here are some low-quality BlackBerry pics of Kadence's cakes... before and after the carnage. She did start out quite daintily - just sticking a finger or two in the frosting and licking it off. And then she caught on to the fact that we were all encouraging her to go all "Hulk Smash!" on her personal cake and went to town.

Spectator Cake

Smash Cake

Mmmmm, squishy fingers!

"I love cake!"

Strawberry cake facials are so glamorous

All done!

I was the only one brave enough to pull the sugary little mess out of her high chair and carry her to the bath, and for good reason. I had cake all over the front and back of my top, but it was well worth it. She was on a complete sugar high the rest of the afternoon, which was pretty amusing to watch. She definitely seems to like this whole birthday cake thing.

Happy Birthday, Kadence! Can't wait to see all the wonderful things you learn and do in the coming year.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


M-O-U-S-E!! Not long ago, we watched my coworker's puppy, Max, for about a week while they went on vacation in California. While at Disneyland, my coworker's adorable kids saw a Mickey Mouse cookie cutter and decided I just had to have it. Apparently, my coworker didn't bring it into me soon enough, because her daughter reminded her: "take Brooke her present so she can make us cookies!" So this past Sunday, I made these guys:

I was going to decorate them, but then I decided the kids might have more fun if I provided the frosting and let them do it themselves. So I gave the kids DIY Mickey Cookies with Frosting Cups. I did them for Max's owners, Mrs. ESPN's girls, and the daughter of another coworker, who calls me "The Cookie Lady." Mrs. ESPN's daughters sent me the cutest little thank you notes along with some artwork. I'm so glad they loved their cookies.

I've had a couple other cookie projects this week as well. I'm making the 1st birthday cake for our friends Scott and Melissa's daughter, Kadence. The day they asked me to make the cake, Kadence was wearing a super cute baby pink outfit with chocolate brown polka dots and embellished with baby pink, hot pink, and brown flowers. I decided it would be my inspiration for her cake. I plan to do a 2-tier baby pink cake with hot pink and brown dots and flower cookie pops coming out the top. Last night, I did the cookie pops, along with about 3 dozen extra flower cookies for the party. Love that hot pink!!

Lastly, a coworker emailed me yesterday and asked if I ship my cookies. When I told her I could and told her about pricing and all that, she told me she'd like a dozen cookies for her nieces delivered on Saturday... to Michigan. Which meant I had to do them last night and ship them this morning. If it hadn't been for the dogs needing to get done, I probably would have waited on Kadence's cookie pops, but I'm glad to have them out of the way. My coworker wanted dogs with collars matching her nieces' birthday party invitation - purple, hot pink (double duty!), and green. They're simple, but I think they came out pretty cute. I also had fun packaging them and personalizing them for each of her four nieces. I hope they have a very happy birthday!

Aside from the cake, that's it for major projects for at least a little while. I've been approached for a baby shower cake as well as bridal shower cookies that I'm really excited about. I'm hoping to launch my new cookie project blog here soon, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Meal Plan Monday: The One Where Dan Eats Shrimp

So, I'm a day late, again. But better late than never, right.

Monday: Cocount Shrimp with green beans and brown rice. Dan doesn't like shrimp, but he will sometimes eat coconut shrimp, as long as it's not chewy. I decided to give it a try, as I'm getting tired of chicken, beef and turkey. I found a no-fry recipe and it turned out pretty well. He ate like 10 of them!

Tuesday: Pot roast with potatoes

Wednesday: Taco salads with reworked/reseasoned pot roast left-overs

Thursday: Crock-pot Cream of Mushroom Chicken. Super easy, super delicious, and Dan complimented me last time on how the chicken was moist and tender. Win! We'll have this with broccoli and maybe rice or another veggie

Friday: Probably Dos Gringos. Of course.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The saga continues....

I'm a big freaked out. We have some mold in our apartment around the windows in both bedrooms. Dan mentioned it all casually last night in a conversation with my parents. Apparently, it's been there for a while, but he didn't say anything until last night. Google search "Black Mold" (proper noun, not just mold that is black) and you'll see it can cause fatigue, headaches, nausea, and vomiting - all things Dan has had over the last month. We're currently trying to figure out how we handle it - I'll be taking pictures when we get home today, and I'll call the complex. My fear is that if it tests positive for Black Mold, they could make us leave that very day, and depending on the levels in the air, they could tell us we can't take our stuff.

If anyone out there has suggestions, I'm more than open to hearing them.

Peanut Butter and Guava

Last week, a girl in another department approached me to make a birthday cake for one of their people, a girl who is actually a work buddy of mine. I was very excited to do it and started looking for recipes for the birthday girl's request: a peanut butter chocolate cake. I found a recipe for a chocolate cake with a peanut butter cream cheese frosting and a chocolate peanut butter ganache topping. I know, I said I wasn't ever doing ganache again after the wedding cake, but it just sounded way too good.

I opted for boxed cake, since I'm lazy like that and no one is picky anyway. I made the PB frosting and iced the cake Thursday night. For some reason (okay, it was because I fell asleep on the couch and ran out of time) I did the ganache Friday morning. Even though I know how to make ganache by boiling the cream and pouring it over the chocolate, stupid me decided to follow the recipe's instructions to melt the chocolate first and then add the cream. Of course, I burned the chocolate, and then of course, I had only bought one package so I had to rush to the store to get more. When will I learn to buy extra? In the end, the ganache came out great, the cake was delicious, and my coworker was very happy with her birthday treat. I don't have a picture here at work, but this is what the cake looked like on the recipe website. Mine was entirely covered in ganache because the cake crumbed into the PB cream cheese frosting. I'll post some of the actual cake when I get home later and final download the 200 pictures that have been sitting on my camera.

On Saturday, Dan had to work a job pretty much all day and I made myself a nice little to-do list that I got about 1/4 of the way through before I gave up and watched a Keeping Up With the Kardashians marathon. I did make cookies for our friend's daughter's 1st birthday cake next week. I know, that seems confusing, but I want to do a 2-tier cake with cookie pops coming out the top. I'm super excited about it and hope it turns out the way it looks in my head.

Yesterday, Dan and I took it easy were lazy until my parents and sister came up. Megan was flying out of Phoenix, so my parents came up early so we could spend time together. Megan wanted to go look at bridesmaids dresses so we met at David's Bridal. She's chosen a bright corally pink color called Guava. I'm so happy that I found my dress! I had seen it in the catalogue but we didn't find it in the store until after I'd tried on quite a few others and had gotten back into my own clothes. I absolutely loved it on - it's got a satin skirt and a pleated chiffon bodice with a flower detail. Unfortunately, I can't post a pic here, but here's a link to the dress. Super cute, right? The other bridesmaids will choose from other satin Guava gowns and we'll all look just fab.

How was your weekend?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Happy Birthday, Clover!

This is a day late, and I'm sorry, Clo. I got caught up with work yesterday and failed to post this. So here is Clover's 1st birthday post, 1 day late:

Today is a very special day. It’s the littlest Kingston’s first birthday! We decided we wanted another puppy around July of last year, but knew that the timing of the wedding would make getting a new puppy difficult (they have to be 4 months old and vaccinated with rabies to be boarded). We decided to wait to bring our new pup home after the wedding, but that didn’t stop the excitement from building. Dan chose the name Clover long before we ever met her. She would be our wedding gift to each other, and her name symbolized the luckiness we felt in marrying each other.

We went to see her for the first time on October 4th, 12 days before our wedding. She was one of two girls left in the litter, and we played with her and her sister. After her sister decided that laying on her back and kicking at leaves was far more interesting than we were, we had Clo all to ourselves. She played with Dan, using him as a jungle gym and giving him a lot of kisses. We fell in love with our little girl and couldn’t wait to bring her home two weeks later. It was very hard to leave her behind.

Two days after we were married, we brought her home. We brought Paisley to meet her new sister and we really weren’t surprised that Paisley wasn’t too impressed with such a shrimpy puppy. We put Clover’s brand new cupcake collar on her and took her to Dan’s parents’ house to meet her extended family. Everyone just loved our cuddly girl, and she had a blast running around and exploring. It was a very happy day for us.

Clover has been such a fun puppy to have around. Once just a speed bump for Paisley, they’re now the best of buddies. They play constantly and love on each other endlessly. She’s super smart – when we had Max staying with us, she figured out how to open the crate from the outside to free him on multiple occasions. When I order the girls to go to the big crate in the bed room at night, she tries to fool me and go to the little crate in the living room. She’ll sit very still inside it thinking I won’t notice she’s pulled one over on me. She’s not a cuddler like Paisley, unless of course she’s sleepy. Then she likes to curl up on the back of the couch and put her little head on my shoulder. She’s very good with her commands and leaves and drops objects when I tell her to. She loves to collect the biggest sticks and likes to hunt birds on our walks. She’ll get low to the ground like a little lion, flatten her ears and stalk them until she gets close enough (which is never actually close enough) to strike. She’s absolutely comical to watch about 95% of the time.

It’s been challenging at times since bringing her home, considering that our little smarty pants is still not house broken. But she is such a sweetie, and so stinking cute, that she’s forgiven and we love her so much. Our home just wouldn’t be the same without her. She’s our Clovie, our Bugga Boo, our little Birthday Girl.

Happy Birthday, Clover! We love you!
We celebrated last night with a pupcake for the girls, and after a day of playing at PetsMart, Clover crashed out on Dan's lap. Dan was rubbing her ears and talking to her and she literally nodded off sitting straight up with her little head in Dan's hands. She's such a sweetie :)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Hooky day

Psssst, I have a secret!! I'm playing hooky today! My sister is in town for the week and we're going shopping for her wedding dress today. I'm very excited. We were up for a couple hours last night looking at bridesmaid dress styles and fabrics. She has appointments at two stores, plus we're checking out a hotel for room blocks. Paisley and Clover are excited to spend the day with my parents' dog Emmy. All I hear is them zipping in and out the doggie door chasing each other.

Our weekend was great - we had so much fun. We went to Scott and Melissa's on Saturday and Dan got his new tattoo outlined. It's very cool, and unlike any of his other pieces. It's going to look awesome when it's done. I got to play with little Miss Kadence all afternoon. Her first birthday is on August 31st, and they've asked me to do her cakes, so I need to start dreaming up a design. I think I've got some good inspiration to start with, though.

On Sunday, we went to my high school friend's house for a "BBQ." I use the term loosely because I don't think anything actually touched the grill. It was more like boiled hot dogs and some veggie patties no one ever actually ate. It was nice to see old friends and meet their spouses, including my high school boyfriend and his wife. One friend brought her 1-year-old daughter who was just completely mesmerized by Dan. It was fun to watch him play with her and I think he got a little kick out of the fact that she cried when I tried to hold her.

Friday, August 13, 2010

It is fiiiiinally almost the weekend, and it could not be here soon enough. I've got two hours left at the office and I am itching for freedom! It's been a long week.
  • I went to boot camp Tuesday and Thursday. I missed Monday because...

  • The AC was out, yet again. They finally agreed to give us 4 days off our next rent payment. It's better than nothing. It's been alright since. I just feel like I'm waiting for it to go out again.

  • Last night we went out for dinner and then to our friend/tattoo artist's art show at a tattoo shop in downtown Glendale. She was a featured artist and was there selling originals and prints of some of her acrylic and oil on canvas art work. She really is an incredibly talented artist.

This weekend should be fun and just the right amount of busy. Our tattoo artist has a sketch that she did for a client that said client didn't like. But Melissa still wants to tattoo it for her portfolio, so Dan is donating his left calf to the cause. We'll be going to their house tomorrow so he can get worked on. And speaking of tattoos, I've got something new to show off. I used to have a small lady bug on my left shoulder, but it was really fading, and I wanted more of an art piece, so I covered it with this:

And no, that's not my bum. It's an extreme close up of my left shoulder and arm. The tattoo measures about 7" long and was completed in one 4.5 hour session two weeks ago. As you can see, Melissa revamped and added my ladybug back in on the petal of the upper lotus. My mom got a ladybug tattoo when she was young, and I got my original guy in the same spot to "match" it, so it was important to me that I have a ladybug there somewhere. And yes, I mean it when I say this is it for a long while.

On Sunday, a high school friend who recently moved to Phoenix is having a BBQ. It'll be interesting to see a few fellow Tucsonan-now-Phoenician friends from way back. Plus, I get to show off my sweet arm candy :)

What are you up to this weekend? Any fun plans?

Monday, August 9, 2010

I've got baking to do

So, funny story. Mrs. EPSN is my baking buddy, right? She completely bailed me out when I made that wedding cake last month. To thank her for opening her kitchen to me and helping me with my goopy ganache, I bought her a gift certificate to Bake It Pretty. If you haven't discovered this online baking supply store, prepare to fall in love. Anyway, within a day of me buying her a gift certificate, she also bought me one as a graduation gift. We thought it was pretty funny that we exchanged gift certificates and started shopping. Then, her former boss (because she works with me now, yay!) bought her another gift certificate for an appreciation/farewell present. So now between the two of us, we had a lot of gift certificates to Bake It Pretty. Well, today, our shipment arrived. Behold: enough cupcake liners for 600 cupcakes and more spinkles and sugar pearls than I know what to do with. And this is just my loot!!

Thanks again, Mrs. ESPN! I will definitely have fun with this.

I will fire bomb you, Apartment!

It's been a fun week since I last blogged. Seven weeks since the last AC incident in the apartment, we came home Thursday to warm air blowing through the vents. Again. So I sweated through getting ready on Friday morning. Again. I took the dogs to PetsMart for the day. Again. I called the complex office and complained. Again. And they "fixed it." Again. We came home on Friday to our 87 degree apartment, felt HOT air coming through the vents and packed up our stuff and the dogs' stuff and went to the in-laws' house. Again. We spent the weekend swimming, watching movies and hanging out. Again, but I don't mind that part.

When we arrived home last night, the air was nice and cool. But this morning? The air was starting to feel warm again, and the temperature was climbing. This is stressful. The girls are in their crate with a huge water bowl and two fans pointed at them, but I still worry. What if it keeps getting hotter? Dan is going to try to swing by if he has a job near home, but that's doubtful. I'm debating going home at lunch to check on the temperature and make a stop in at the office if necessary.

This whole thing is just exhausting - we're hot, uncomfortable, and feel like the apartment people are just putting a band-aid on what is obviously more than a simple cut. I hope I'm stressed over nothing today, and that if I go home, I'll find the dogs nice and comfy in our regular day-time 80 degree apartment. If it's any hotter than that, there will a very angry person in that complex office. That person will be me, if you didn't figure that part out. I definitely feel owed something for the inconvenience. At this point, I just want out of there. We'll go rent a house or something.

Anyone, advice? It's been suggested we call a new station. I don't know that I feel they're being awful landlords. It is summer in Phoenix, after all, and it is 110 degrees out. But this shouldn't be this difficult, right?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Still alive and also "what irks you?"

Yeah, so it's been a while. Sorry. It's been 7 days of cleaning, seeing my parents, packing ribbon cookies, boot camp, hanging out with friends, watching movies, etc. And brain farts. Can't forget those.

I was thinking the other day though about how we've been married for almost 10 months now and how it seems to have gone by so quickly. My husband rules, and we love being married. There are those little things, however, that no matter how much you love someone, drives you freaking batty. We all have them, whether they bothered us before marriage or crept up on us later. Even when our other half is perfect for us, there are little things that are less than perfect.

Exhibit A: Dan almost always leaves a can, bottle, cup, or something else on our breakfast bar rather than throwing it in the trashcan 10 feet away. I know I get lazy with throwing things away too, but it makes no sense to me that he's in the kitchen and leaves his trash on the counter. And then when I get huffy and throw it away, he'll say "I was just going to do that." Really? Usually there's a lap top in his lap or he's engrossed in some motocross of UFC fight or something when he says this, so it's doubtful to me that he was planning on getting up anytime soon just to throw away that pesky Gatorade bottle that had been there for 18 hours.

Exhibit B: A typical conversation in our home:

Me: What time will you be home so I can make dinner?
Dan: I have to drop off some CDs at Scott's work, get gas, and pick up stuff to clean your car.
Me: Oooookay, so what time is that?
Dan: A few hours, maybe 2 hours. I don't know.
Me: Ummmm....

I'm not an over-bearing wife. I'm not asking to know where he's going to be, who he's going to see, etc. I just want to know what time to put the chicken in the oven. I need a TIME, like hours and minutes. Even a guesstimate. But not an itinerary. The best part is that we've discussed this one before. He know what kind of answer I want, and still I get plans rather than a time. I'm sure he's probably just telling me all that he has to do so I have a sense of how much he's trying to get in and that there could be delays due to it all, but still.

Lastly, Exhibit C: The couple of weeks ago, I got up early with the pups and used the guest restroom - which is essentially Dan's bathroom - to avoid waking him up. I went to wash my hands and sprayed myself in the crotch with soap. Dan had "refilled" the hand soap by diluting it with water, rather than telling me we were out of soap or refilling it with the actual giant refill bottle under the kitchen sink. I get that he's just trying to remedy the no-soap situation, but soap doesn't disappear over night. Every week I ask if he has grocery requests or if we need anything at Target. He can remember that I said 4 days ago that I'm low on face wash, but didn't say anything about the soap for what I assume could be as long as two weeks while the soap level slowly crept south. And then I sprayed myself in the crotch. Ugh

Okay, there are my gripes. I have no doubt he has a few about me: I'm messy, avoid putting my clothes away at all costs, and always forget to keep the dogs out of the kitchen. I want things done now and done a certain way and I can be annoying about it. If he burps and doesn't say excuse me within 2.6 seconds, I remind him. I know I drive him nuts, too. I'm sure he could write you a very amusing post about all my little quirks. But it's my blog :)

What does your significant other do that drive you just a little bananas?