September 26, 2012

the little room that could

we moved in to the house six months ago and i have just now finished unpacking and emptying this little bedroom.  yes, there's a bedroom in there somewhere.

it was used by the movers to dump everything in when i didn't know where something should go.  and it seems i didn't know where to put much of anything.  it was jammed to the rafters.  i continued to use it as a "dumping ground" through two other decorating projects and finally decided this is "the little room that could". 

it doesn't look like much now, but i hope to turn it into a charming little guest room with twin beds.  i picked up two vintage drexel twin beds with headboards, footboards, and rails on craig's list for $140 {for both!}  the room's just 10' x 12' with a good-sized closet with sliding doors.  it has a wonderful view of the backyard and pool.
it's a pale blue with this cute little vehicle border around the entire perimeter of the room. cute, yes, staying, no. it looked like a decal so i just grabbed an end from the inside of the closet where it started and gave it a yank.
yikes.  it's wallpaper.  ugh.  i started picking at it to try to start getting the backing off of the wall, but that wasn't working well. hmmm.
i googled "how to remove a wallpaper border" hoping the remedy wouldn't be vinegar, a self-contained fresh-air breathing apparatus, and a leaf-blower.  the answer was "steam it off", which was the easiest first step, and beginning with the easiest step first is critical to me.  the steps just got more complicated and involved farther down the list, so i hoped steam was going to be my answer.
i'm the kind of person that takes the path of least resistance, a path that won't involve me getting showered, dressed, made-up, and behind the wheel to go get anything to start a project that just popped into my head.  i envisioned having to drive all over town to find a professional wallpaper steamer thingy to steam this mess off the wall.  didn't wanna,  didn't hafta.  i grabbed my travel iron/steamer thingy, filled it up, and plugged it in.  while it was cooking away, i gathered the other tools:  something to scrape the paper off the wall.
the instructions called for a plastic scraper, which is preferred over metal as the metal can make scratch/gouge marks on the wall.  again with the whole "least resistance" thing, i found a plastic scraper on the end of a tube of drywall repair stuff.  i thought, "how perfect.  in case i put a ding in the wall, i'll already have the drywall repair stuff right in my hand!"  a least-resistant path is a path of multi-tasking preparation - in the event i didn't have/do what i was told to have/do, i'll have a way to fix/repair/hide what i had/done.  i threw a sponge in to my arsenal of wallpaper removing tools and was ready to go. 
i held the steamer thingy up to the lower edge of the border and watched with great anticipation as the steam started to melt the glue.  condensation started to gather under the paper and i used the plastic scraper to lift the paper.
it worked!  it really worked! while one hand was scraping, the other was holding the steamer thingy on the next spot to get a head start on melting the glue for the next scraping, and on and on.  i was a machine; steaming, scraping, peeling, steaming, scraping, peeling.  i was on fire.  i even started narrating my actions like i was giving a demonstration.  i can do this!  
it took about three hours to go around the whole room (ok, i had lunch and watched barefoot contessa).  there was a bit of a mess to clean up as i never seemed to get big patches peeled off, just little bits.
but that's ok.  that nasty job is done.  b-t-w, the steamer thingy is blissterin' ass hot, ouch.

September 19, 2012

pear apple crisp

this is comfort food at its finest.  it's warm, beautifully scented, and uses fruits associated with fall.  but i don't let that stop me from throwin' on some ice cream.  it's not overly complicated, just a little time consuming with the peeling and preparing of the fruit.  it takes about 15 minutes to prep once you gather all of the ingredients and another 50 minutes to bake, so i prep it before dinner then pop it in the oven to bake while we're eating.  it's supposed to serve eight, you just have to consider how you're going to serve it - one large casserole dish or separate ramekins.  i opt for the casserole style so i can scoop some out into large bowls that have room for the ice cream.  this recipe is from the barefoot contessa's "at home" cookbook.  the photo's from the web (not only can i not cook, i can't photograph either)

  • 2 pounds ripe bosc pears (4 pears)
  • 2 pounds firm Macoun apples (6 apples)
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 tsp grated orange zest
  • 1 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 2 tbls freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 tbls freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
for the topping
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
  • 1/2 lb (2 sticks) butter, diced
preheat the oven to 350 degrees

peel and core the pears and apples and cut them into large chunks.  place the fruit in a large bowl and toss with the cranberries, zests, juices, granulated sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  pour into a 9 x 12 x 2 inch baking dish.

for the topping, combine the flour, sugars, salt, oatmeal, and cold butter in the bowl of an electric mixed fitted with a paddle attachment.  mix on low speed for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the mixture is in large crumbles.  sprinkle evenly over the fruit, covering the fruit completely.

place the baking dish on a parchment-lined sheet pan and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until the top is brown and the fruit is bubbly.  serve warm.

okay.  i didn't do all of this.  first off, i used whatever apples and pears i had.  i don't know their names, it's just what i grabbed at the store.  i am just realizing as i'm writing this post that i didn't even see the sugar and flour that you're supposed to mix in with the fruit.  i didn't have cranberries so i used pomegranates.  i didn't have an orange.  i grabbed a lemon that was already cut open and just squeezed some into the bowl over the fruit.  and zesting?  forget about it.  i couldn't very well zest an orange i didn't have and i can't zest a lemon that's already been cut open.  i didn't have old-fashioned oats, just the 1-minute quick cooking kind.  it seems i left out more ingredients than i put in but this turned out great!  since there's just the two of us i cut the recipe in half.  i used a small 2 quart casserole dish and piled the fruit in thick and ended up using only half of the topping i made because there was a smaller surface area to cover.  the cooking temp and time of 50 minutes was perfect.  i only have a hand mixer but didn't want to use it as i didn't want to cream the topping mixture together.  i just used an old fashioned pastry cutter which gave great results.  p.s. on another episode of a different recipe ina says you can use the hand mixer with just one of the beaters.  genius.

overall, i found this recipe very delicious, albeit now completely unrecognizable.  it seems it's very forgiving.  imagine how good it would be if i had actually followed the recipe and included all of the ingredients!  it will make a great presentation for company.

here's the link to ina's video at  you'll notice she uses ramekins in the video.

September 7, 2012

casa de munchkin

our little bichon frise has ruled the roost ever since christmas '07 when he adopted us (actually, he rules just me and zoe... hubby swears the dog has no hold over him) .  he's always on the couch gettin' the lovin', usually on hubby's chest, upside down, getting his belly rubbed.  ya, no hold over you, hon.

he is such a character; loaded with personality and charm.   he makes himself clear when it's time to go outside.    he gives you the stare-down until you just can't take it anymore.  when you ask "do you want to go outside?" he starts barking and hopping.  he's so happy when he sees you first thing in the morning and when you get home from work and when you get home from the grocery store and when you come in from outside and when you come out of the bathroom.  he grabs a toy and tries to bark through a toy-stuffed mouth which usually just comes out more like a yodel.   he hops up on his back feet and waves his front legs at you and gives you the authentic "bichon wave".   that little dog gets so excited he just doesn't know what to do with himself.
he's never had a decent, breed-specific haircut since he's owned us and he usually just looks gross.   he usually gets a bath and haircut just before company arrives since they'll be obliged to make a spot on their laps for him.   he eats grass, lemons, dirt, tomatoes, candles, sharpies, carrots, and headphones.   he licks your toes, the carpeting, and Zoe's ears. 
he's been called "Q-tip" and "popcorn face", "little dickhead" and "shit lips".  we made the mistake of buying less than premium dog food, you know, something under $80 a bag, and it seems it made for some real tempting treats out in the yard, if you know what i mean. but he didn't stop at his own puppy nuggets.....noooo, he thought zoe's were pretty special too. picture if you will munchkin creeping up behind zoe while she's doing "her privacies".   watching with such great anticipation as the first warm little nugget hits the ground, then bobbing his head up and down as he watches each nugget's exit and landing.    as soon as zoe's moved on, he would just start "diggin' in".    it wasn't long before he stopped waiting for them to hit the ground and just perched under her with his mouth open, just waitin' for the goodness to start falling like manna from heaven. you know how someone looks when they toss a piece of popcorn way up in the air and catch it in their mouths? ya, that's what it looked like.  he's pretty much a shame to his breed. 
bichon's smile.  when they get excited they just pull back their lips.  their black lips and white teeth look like they have an oreo stuffed in their mouth.  munchkin is such a clown, and smart?  man is he smart.  he clearly understands words, even words not spoken directly to him.  when hubby says he's "going to bed", munch darts off to his own bed.  hands on the hips means it's time to go check the mail.  a couple of little tosses of your head and he'll talk to you.   he's so funny.  he takes a dump then runs like his tail's on fire.

when you pull the leash out of the closet?  holy mother of god!  you'd think the house was on fire.  he about turns himself inside out.  he wiggles so much with excitement it's hard to put the leash on him.  and is high-pitched excessive barking can make your ears bleed.  we usually just let him out the door without his leash on and it takes until the mailbox for him to stop jumping up and down and begging to have his leash put on.  that little dude is a charmer.  he'll bring a toy and drop it at your feet.  he'll wait an hour for you to throw it if he had to. 
if you've ever been owned by a bichon, you know what i mean.  if you've yet been lucky enough to live with one of these little beasts, you're missing out on affection, devotion, companionship, and a joi de vivre wrapped in fur.  all they ask is your lap and that you never, never, never stop petting them.
but these are not my dog.

this is my dog.  this is munchkin.