Do I have "sucker" written on my forehead? {Listography 2011}

A post from the other half...

First, let me introduce myself.  I am Ryan, the husband who reads many versions of every post, sometimes gives input, but never comments (I need to get better at that).  I am the one who watches Torrie fall asleep sitting upright on the couch with her laptop - in the middle of obsessing over spacing or the mysterious self-changing font. 

Some of you may be aware that it is my lovely wife's birthday tomorrow, so I thought I would start my gifting a couple hours early by giving her the gift of time, taking over one of her posts.  Granted, I am not as gifted a writer as she is but I will give it a go. 
Each Wednesday, Emily, @ Notorious MLE, Danielle, @ Elleinad Spir, and Torrie are working their way through the lists of Listography 2011.
 image via
I saw this week's topic, List all the scams you have encountered and thought, "This one is right up my alley."  It is as though I am a magnet for scams, as I have fallen for many things that were 'too good to be true.'

1.  Columbia House - 10 CDs for a penny.  This is the first one I can remember.  They made it extremely difficult to send back the Kenny G. CD I didn't order and near impossible to get out of the program.
2.  The 'Free' year subscription to a magazine.  I was just trying to make a purchase and be on my way, but the salesperson told me that as a loyal customer they were offering me a subscription to "Food & Wine."  Who knew they were linking the subscription to my check card for automatic renewals?  Three years later, I finally went through the complicated process for canceling the subscription.
3.  The '0% APR' credit card.  Didn't read the fine print on this one.  Apparently there was a line in microscopic legalese on page 76 that informed me that if I was 45 seconds late on a payment my rate would go up to 29.99%.

4.  "I have an exciting business proposition for you"  I don't know how many times an acquaintance wanted to set up a business meeting so they can tell me how I can quit my job, be my own boss, and enjoy 'financial freedom.'  Really???  How many suckers would I need to take advantage of to make this a reality?  Sure... sign me up, pal.

5. "Do you wanna buy some speakers?"  Seriously, I don't know why these guys come after me.  As I am walking to my car in the Target parking lot, a couple of guys pull up in a van telling me that they have overstock high-end speakers that they need to sell dirt-cheap for cash.  Where did they get these speakers?  Are they stolen?  Are they defective?  Why do they always approach me?  Do I look like a guy that needs new speakers?  Because of this I have learned not to make eye contact with anyone in a parking lot.
I am curious to see what you've fallen for.  Let us know with a comment or head over to Emily's and add a link to your post.

Now, I am off to get some rest for a big day (or week, if you ask Torrie) ahead of us.  I'm looking forward to it.  Happy birthday to my gorgeous, talented, adorable, sweet wife!!!

Our retro soirree.

Now that I've had a week to recover, I thought I'd share a few pictures from my grandma's 85th birthday celebration...

a party just isn't a party with out lottsa balloons.

85 years of life, love, family... celebration.
{inspired by}

{When I take 'em down, I'll scan & post a few!}

classy accessories.

a couple cocktails to start the night off right- fish house punch & 'kids' punch,
and the very best part of party planning... thrift store stalking.
{wooden dishes, bright bowls, a brand-spankin' new punch bowl!}

 another old-school cocktail- the "perfect" Manhattan, candy, "cigarettes," & plenty of good ole' conversation.
{inspired by Jody, here & here}
 my favorite men.
{pimento cheese spread, deviled eggs, green olives w/ pimentos, sausage balls, strawberries, shrimp skewers, & more candy... & cigarettes}
{meatloaf sliders, wild rice salad, hot tamale pie, Caesar salad, & old-fashioned soda}
 a toast to 85 years... & counting.
cake perfection. 

me & my grandma.
parting gifts... maple pecan whiskey cake (a modernized fruit-cake).
{they loved it! many compliments... do try.}

It was a blast {to the past}, & worth every second of effort.  Now that I have all these fancy-schmancy retro dishes, looks like I'll need to make this a recurring theme.

Ooh la la.

It's Friday, ladies & gentlemen.  5 more days until I'm officially in my "Mid Thirties."  I've always milked embraced my birthweekday... Maybe that'll change as the number gets higher, but for now - it's never too early to let the celebration begin.

Yesterday, my sister-in-law and I went to a French Macarons Workshop.  We loved it.  Prior to the class I hadn't tried baking these little luxuries myself, but I have heard horror stories... some from my SIL- who had tried.  Despite all of the "perfect macaron" pictures I've seen floating around food blogs, I knew I needed a little more skill under my belt before I joined this particular baking league.                                                                                                  

Mr. Lebovitz was absolutely right when he said, "Les Macarons are all about technique, rather than about just following a recipe... One extra fold, and it’s all over."  We learned the general technique- also the "nevers," the "shoulds" & "should-nots"... and 10 batches later, now armed to attempt on our own.  We're already planning which sugars to create (cardamom? lemon?), and of course which food color powders to toss into the mix.  A perfect Easter project.
In class, we made vanilla bean and pistachio macarons, with ganache, creme brulee, and griottine fillings.

And to top it off, we enjoyed lunch with Rebecca, from The Reluctant Floridian (fortunately- she's no longer living in Florida).  What a pleasure.  She was just as charming, witty, thoughtful, and sophisticated (in a cool, unpretentious way), as I thought she'd be... and she loves to talk coffee... and food.  Can't get much better than that.  She was the one who informed me about the class, but when she tried to sign up (the same day that I did!) it was already full.  So, I was happy that I still got to meet, and get to know her - offline.

{My 2nd blogger meet-up was a success! ... No creepy exchanges or horror stories.  Yet.  Not that I was worried.}

Ooh la la.  It's Friday.   - Or did I already mention that??

Field of dreams {Listography 2011}.

Each Wednesday, Emily, @ Notorious MLE, Danielle, @ Elleinad Spir, and myself are working our way through the lists of Listography 2011.

An immediate disclaimer.  

This list is a total cop-out.  I'm still battling with my laundry... Trying to gear myself up for crawling jumping back on the "Shred Mill" (with the help of a rockstar shred-it crew)... and ironically tossing both aside for a blood orange margarita (weeknight version) and a little mindless t.v.  

As much as I'd love to meander through Diagon Alley, bounce through the Hundred Acre Wood with Tigger, eat my way through Willy's Chocolate Factory, hide away in a heavenly Secret Garden, finally catch a glimpse of Charlie's face, shoot the breeze with Chaka... or Papa Smurf... or better yet- the coolest cat of all- the Fonz... This week's list of fictional places I really wish existed is proving to be quite short, at least for the present moment. 

1) Fantasy Island
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2) Love Boat
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[Can you tell I need a vacation?  Either that, or I simply watched a few too many 70's television re-runs- or both?]

Please one-up me here... I won't mind a bit.  Which fictional places do you wish to be a reality??   If you have a list of your own, head over to Danielle's and link up... or simply share with a comment =).   I'm looking forward to a few moments of necessary distraction.

*Next up... A reality that I wish were fictional.

Domestic zen.

Image via

As I type, I am literally sitting on huge piles of laundry, in need of folding - not to mention, ironing.  Every square inch of our house is covered in stuff... scraps of poster board, colored pencils, a new softball equipment, books, homework, paperwork, boxes of [retro] party dishes, martini glasses, punch bowls, 'vintage' candy, make-up, a husband working steadily at the desk (hence, me sitting on the laundry-covered couch)... and an ironing board.     

Our party was a success.  But, it will definitely take a few days to recover- especially when recovering includes a week's worth of laundry, school projects, softball games, and reorganizing our garage to make space for recently acquired thrift store "treasures."  Who knew shopping for retro-themed party supplies could be so incredibly invigorating?  ... A new addiction, for sure (Sorry Ryan).

I look forward to sharing party pics, and getting back into the groove of posting- and into the groove of Spring- once I dig myself out of the snowfall of clutter.   Doesn't she make it look so relaxing... appetizing, even??

 Maybe, I'll start with the ironing.

Pistachio pudding cake.

Last night, my mom hosted our monthly book club dinner.  It was no surprise that the entire evening gleamed with St. Patrick's Day spirit.  She served corned beef & cabbage - using Jessica's recipe (faaaaaaantastic) - with Rye, and an old favorite, Pistachio Pudding Cake.  I love that I have such a holiday lovin' mom (especially when it involves food =).

And, if that wasn't enough, she sent me home with the leftovers- which is being transformed into a corned beef spaghetti pie for dinner tonight (again, happily taking Jessica's lead).  She also stocked me up with all of the necessary ingredients to make my own pudding cake.  Just the thought of combining 7-up, pistachio pudding, and of course, green food coloring, into one recipe was incentive enough to come home (@ 11pm), start baking, and then- a 1/2 hr. later- drive to Walmart (only store open) after realizing that I didn't have any eggs.  In the end, the tiny amount of sleep was worth it.

Gotta love a holiday that encourages us to add carbonation to our food, sparkly green shadow to our eyes, and "Top o' the mornin'!" to our vocabulary.

If you're looking for a last minute treat for the evening (or any evening), here's my mom's recipe for this extremely simple dessert.  {I made mine into cupcakes... just for an excuse to use those green liners - and added a little green in the pistachio pudding party.}
Click to enlarge & print.
And just for fun...

sparkly green eyes

nothin' but green (& I mean nothin')
Clearly, my mom's spirit has not skipped any generations.
Hope your evening's filled with the luck of the Irish.

Don't worry, be happy {Listography 2011}.

Each Wednesday, Danielle, @ Elleinad Spir, Emily, @ Notorious MLE, and myself are working our way through the lists of Listography 2011.

Image  via 
What a masterpiece.  The title.  The setting.  The bartender.  And that tune!  Was this not one of the best films of all time, or what?? 
Well, it was to a 12 year old, anyways. 
In fact, it's high time I have a "Cocktail" movie night... especially now that I am of age to partake in cocktails

List #12.

List cocktails you've tried {a good start, but admittedly, I've got a long way to go here}.
Cranberry Orange Vodka     Mimosa Sunrise     Midori Sour    Mojitos     Mai Tai     Lemon Drop     Bloody Mary     Kir Royale     Cosmopolitan     Mint Julep     Martinis     Bellinis     Daiquiris     Margaritas     Piña Colada     Does Sangria count??

What about you?  Any favorites, that I must move to the top of the 'to-try' list?  If you have a list of your own, link up below!  If you don't have a post to link up, please spill [with a comment] anyways.  (I promise not to think you're a lush :)
And speaking of orders, head over to Jessica's March recipe challenge, to get a ton of recipe ideas (She had me at "homemade pretzel.")... perfect accompaniments to a refreshing cocktail.

A vintage spread.

Image scanned from Betty Crocker's Picture Cook Book.

Still planning the menu for our upcoming retro party.  

We've asked everyone to bring their favorite classic dish, with a modern twist... Tossing formality to the wind, and celebrating a simpler time - a time of Cadillacs & ranch houses, typewriters & record players, pin-ups & ponytails.

I'm getting a kick outta rummaging through this cook book, but keeping it simple is proving to be quite a challenge.  Really.  The ideas are just endless.  Pigs in blankets... Deviled eggs De luxe... Meat balls - Meat loaves - Meat pies... Casseroles... Cocktails... Canapés.  Clearly not a calorie/carb-counting generation.  Rather, a meat-lover's delight.

Another cook book- The Comfort Table, by Katie Lee, gave me some great ideas.  There's an entire "retro cocktail party menu" included- classic dishes with a modern twist... and right on point with Betty's original.  Just like most of her recipes, they're simple & no-fuss, with a tad of flair.

Image scanned from The Comfort Table cook book.

I did a little recipe testing last night... Meatloaf Sliders & Oven-Fried Chicken Satay.  And because I am counting carbs & calories, I appreciated her suggestions on slimming a couple of these menu items down.

Both were very tasty, but only the sliders will make their way onto the menu.  The chicken strips "satay" were simple (but a little time consuming, as each are coated with Dijon), crispy, and flavorful, but I'd like to go a little less on the modern, and more on the classic... Maybe another recipe in her menu- a more fattening option, of course- the Sausage Balls??  Looks like I have more "experimenting" to do.

If you'd like to do a little tasting yourself, here's the recipe for the sliders...

{This is the version in the cook book.  For the lightened up version- as well as the Oven-Fried Chicken Satay (titled "Faux-Fried Chicken" in this article), click the "suggestions" link above.}

Let's get it on.

We spent a great deal of our weekend preparing for my grandma's upcoming 85th birthday celebration.

85's a pretttttty big deal, and I thought it'd be fun to get a little creative.  So, we're havin' a retro party at our house this Saturday.  A fun and classy way to celebrate a classy lady.  Plus, an excuse to get those pearls on, chat it up with loved ones, sip an old-fashioned cocktail, and indulge in bacon-wrapped hors d’oeuvres and classic American cuisine.  Being the old school foodie that she is, this is right up Grandma's alley (& mine too).  

Here's a little peak into the party planning...

{The invitations (from Paper Source) set the tone for the color scheme... pink & green.}

 {a trip to the thrift store for dishes & attire for the boys... lots of party goods for only $26.00... love it}
 {the "dress rehearsal"}

 {Hailey & I simply shopped our closets (yes, that dress was in my closet... long story).}

And tomorrow, we'll talk food.  The menu's not set, so if you have any recommendations, let me know! 

Happy Monday... Hope it's a good one :).

To search or not to search {Listography 2011}.

Each Wednesday, Emily, @ Notorious MLE, Danielle, @ Elleinad Spir, and myself are working our way through the lists of Listography 2011.
Ahhh.  FINALLY.  An easy list.

And the day that I reveal my eBay ignorance to the world.

When it comes to technology & social media, in some aspects, I've been pretty savvy, if I do say so myself.  In other aspects - utterly incompetent.  And not necessarily in a feeble "I can't learn this" way, but rather an obstinate "I have no desire to add this into my already crazy life" way.  Twitter & Flickr fell under the former; MySpace & Facebook, the latter (I did finally join FB party).  Ebates, the former; eBay, the latter.

I try to stay open-minded about the flood of new-and-improved ways to shop, share, socialize... grabbing hold of the time-savers, and tossing the time-suckers, but discerning between the two, and then learning the ropes- and rules of etiquette- of each, can get a bit blurry and overwhelming.  This article, from Martha Beck did wonders to relieve the anxiety that had quickly set in about a year ago, when I discovered the land of blogs... and just how out of it I was, technologically speaking.  

She offers excellent advice on how to approach the "Information Superflood."
We're living through the most dramatic era of change in human history. A flood of new technologies and accompanying social transitions has altered everything. It's not just that we're on the receiving end of a torrent of messages, texts, and e-mails. The way we interact and build relationships has been turned upside down; whole careers and industries have been swept away. There's so much to do, to know, to learn, to master—and the floodwaters are rising.

By default, eBay sorta fell into the 'time-sucker' category... which makes this week's list very, very short.

List your favorite ebay searches.

Short answer- none.

Long answer...

Over Christmas, I was searching through the Barbie toy category on Amazon for Hailey, who had just recently become enamored with Barbie.  I wanted to grant her Barbie gift-wishes, but didn't really feel the need to stock her room with more naked dolls (because, somehow, they're always naked).  Then I remembered my cherished 1981 Flip and Fold Fashions.  Cherished, yet no memory of it's name, where it ended up, WHY I let it go! 

After much obsession and lots of clicking, I tracked down the name, and discovered that one was up for bid on eBay!  Hailey needed to experience the sheer joy of this toy.

I tracked the King of eBay down (my older brother) and asked him for much needed assistance.  He used his buyer expertise to stalk, outbid, & purchase my childhood treasure.

Maybe I need to dive into this internet yardsale after all.

Enlighten me.  What are your favorite e-Bay searches??  If you have a list of your own, head over to Emily's and link up... or simply share with a comment.   I'm looking forward to an excuse to do a little aimless window shopping. 

And next week... cocktails.  Shopping & booze.  Deep thoughts right here.

A little pep talk.

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On my way to Starbucks to kick-start my day... and a Monday penalty - a ridiculously long to-do list - for getting absolutely nothing but fun accomplished this weekend.

Time to load up on caffeine & get the crock pot in gear.  

On the upside, Monday's do offer potential.  Possibilities.  A fresh start and a new game plan.  

So, what'd ya say, Let's raise our mugs to a productive day! 




4 weeks of boot camp.

While today marks the end of 4:30am arises, being surrounded by middle-aged She-Ra's, & never-ending jump ropes (who knew that jumping is so damn HARD???  It wasn't when I was 7!), it is really just the beginning.  It was just the jump that I needed to get off of the couch and into shape.  Tomorrow, it's just Jillian & I.  Something tells me that crush is going to dissipate... real quick.  As long as those extra pounds dissipate right along with, then I'm just fine with that.

And, what are you up to this weekend??  Work, play, or a little of both??
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