Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A few loose thoughts from today

  • My child will be 9 months old this week. Where exactly has time gone?? I swear pregnancy was longer than this has been...seriously..
  • My child is sporting 2 1/2 teeth with 3 more about to make their appearance. This particular bullet point is why I really can't wait till she's 3 sometimes.
  • I finally resurrected my iPod after not touching it for over a year and a half and spent over 2 hours trying to get it updated and attempting to get the Nike+ feature to work. I gave up halfway through and just did my run before coming back to it. Of course it worked the second I got off the treadmill.
  • Couch to 5k is boring. Bah. However, I'd like to avoid injury so onward I plod. Can't wait to do a race again.
  • My treadmill is also boring so Spring, you can feel free to show up and actually stay anytime. No, really. 
  • I need to do dishes. (I don't think any of you realize how big of an understatement this is...)
  • I need to finish folding laundry.
  • I need to pick up the baby toys that are all over the floor.
  • Playing with the baby is way more fun than any of the aforementioned three points.
  • Trying to decide when to book our hotel for R&R. I just know the minute I put a deposit on this resort, Jason's date will get changed. It's just how things work in the good ol' Army.
  • Can't WAIT for R&R: a week at the St. Regis in Park City Utah. Mountains, lakes, hikes, good restaurants, lounging by the pool with my favorite two people....yeah, it's going to be amazing. We need this.
  • Trying to decide if AAA or the military discount is going to save us more money....
  • Iraqi internet sucks, by the way
  • Keep thinking about this awful show I watched last night called Outrageous Kid Parties. The woman plunked down 32K for her 6 year old's birthday party. The only thing I've been able to think about all day is this: 32K could have helped one foreign orphan find their forever home and could have possibly helped two domestic orphans find theirs. I realize people are entitled to spend their money however they want, but my heart just broke knowing that money that could have literally saved a child's lifetime went to a spoiled brat who had no clue or appreciation for what was being spent on her. It's disgusting. 
  • I'll step down from that soapbox before I get even more angry..
  • Looking forward to a quiet evening sewing, chatting with my 9 month old (it can't be possible...), drinking some sort of hot beverage and contemplating how many more dishes I can fit in the sink...just kidding, I'm going to wash them now...maybe...

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Manly Art of...

So what do you do for the guy that has everything?

By the time Jason and I got married, he had firmly established himself in the ranks of bachelorhood and had amassed just about every gadget, electronic or otherwise, that existed (I'm fairly sure we own at least three X-boxes, correct me if I'm wrong Jason...). I knew I had to come up with something good for the first Christmas we were together so I pulled out my only big gun and did a painting of the Cadet Chapel at West Point which got me major points. It also left me kicking myself because I had no idea what I was going to do for the remaining 60+ years of birthdays and Christmases.

When it comes to gift giving, I hate just buying some random thing off the rack. I agonize over finding the perfect thing (or experience, as the case may be) and would rather find one small unique item than have 10 off the shelf things that he could walk into Best Buy and get himself.

Needless to say, it's always a pretty daunting task and I always try to be alert for clues he might give me for things he might enjoy (this is one of the many fun parts of marriage I think).

One of these mental notes was logged as we were trawling through some shops in the Ponte Di Rialto in Venice a couple of Christmases ago. I was testing out handcrafted perfumes bottled in stunning hand-blown Murano glass vessels when Jason noticed a display of shaving sets among the men's toiletries (I should note that I was the one who dragged him into the store in the first place...). There is something decidedly manly and old-school about a well crafted shaving set and the man-appeal is upped probably about 90% when a classic straight razor is involved. Men and dangerous objects. Sigh.

We left the Profumiere without buying one of the sets (I did score a bottle of that perfume but it met an untimely end in my bathroom just a few months later) but he brought them up occasionally in the months that followed. A couple of weeks ago, I was doing my daily (ok, several-times-daily) check of Etsy and discovered a complete gem of a shop called Orangefuzz: two artists making scrumptious health and beauty products. One of their featured items was a shaving kit complete with shaving soap, brush, aftershave and bar soap. As if it wasn't already cool enough, the shaving soap is made with beer (you can't smell it but apparently something in beer is good for the skin...and I mean, come on, how much manlier can you get than soap made from a good stout!) and it's all packaged in a vintage cigar box. WIN! Everything smells amazing and in the words of the Orangefuzz artists, "deliciously masculine".

The only thing missing was the razor. I knew I didn't want just any old razor so I started researching straight razors and happened upon a rather large and dedicated online community of classic shaving enthusiasts and historians. I had a specific razor in mind: a vintage US Army issued razor. As fortune would have it, my inquiry was met with several responses describing the history of such a find (the Army issue ones are apparently pretty rare and it's even more rare to find one in good enough shape to shave with or even get to shaving quality) and one collector had the one I was looking for: a J. R. Torrey blade in perfect condition that he was willing to sell for a decent price.

You're probably wondering why I'm posting all of this online if it's supposed to be a gift for Jason's birthday...

Unfortunately, it's impossible to keep secrets from him. I made the mistake of saying I had gotten him an awesome gift and after only describing it as "manly", he guessed on the first try. I can't keep a straight face...so he found out. So now he just needs to get himself home so I can give all this awesomeness to him and I suppose I'd better be armed with lots of bandaids and 911 on speed dial... ;)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sweet Valentine (with recipes!)

So what do a bunch of Army wives do on St. Valentine's day when their husbands are gone? Have a party!!
I have to say, I haven't had this much fun in a looong time. It took me a good hour to fall asleep because I was just so happy. I have met some amazing women here and am constantly impressed with how beautiful they are: physically, they're gorgeous, but more importantly, they have exquisite souls and spirits full of life and strength. I love being around them and I feel like I got to know them so much better Saturday night. Who knew all it would take was some chocolate and strawberry buttercream?

I suppose I kind of went overboard on the food, but planning really helped keep me sane during the last month of dreary cold winter and snowy days. I had hoped to have everything set up and perfect by the time the party started but the baby had other plans. In the end, it was more fun working with my friends to get it all set up than it would have been to be greeting everyone with a glass of wine in hand and my makeup perfect. Christa put together the mini-BLTs, Diane did my dishes, Wendy got the chocolate fountain going (that my wonderful neighbor let us borrow for the night). The spread was lovely and tasted just as good (even though I broke Ina Garten's cardinal rule of entertaining which is to never try out a new recipe on one's guests...several times..)

I promised to post the recipes so here they are:

Mini-BLTs with the most amazing sun-dried tomato mayo (a staple at Erin's parties and if you make them, you'll understand why)
Chicken meatballs served with Emeril's Roasted Red pepper sauce (found in the pasta sauce section of the grocery store). These were a new recipe and thankfully turned out amazing. I used bacon instead of Pancetta since it was cheaper...worked beautifully.
Vanilla cupcakes with fresh Strawberry Buttercream. The cupcakes are entirely gluten free and are from my favorite food blog, Tartelette. I could eat them unfrosted all day long...BUT...Erin's strawberry buttercream takes them to entirely new levels. I'm telling you, this frosting is out of this world. You'll eat it straight out of the bowl. 

Homemade vanilla bean marshmallows. So simple and so tasty. Light, fluffy speckled pillows of scrumptiousness. Love.

Chocolate dessert cups filled with chocolate raspberry mousse. I originally made a mousse from scratch but it failed horribly. I ended up using a boxed mix that tasted just as good and piped beautifully. No real recipes here, just sinful chocolaty goodness.
Chocolate truffles, courtesy of Pioneer Woman. I spiked mine with Cognac and dusted them in cocoa powder that I picked up in a lovely little shop in Paris.

So even though we all would definitely have been happier spending this past weekend with our dear husbands, this was just what we needed. Or at least, it was just what I needed :).

(And the delightful Lisa Marie took a fabulous shot of one of my crowns so I could give you a preview of my shop!)