January 13, 2009

Split Pea Salutation

Gee, have I mentioned that Garrett has been out of town for what feels like an ever-loving eternity quite some time?

Well, guess what? He's coming home tonight and that puts a big, fat smile on this face! He will be travelling pretty much all day today (3 hour drive to the airport, 5 hours on a plane with two stops--eek! that's a lot of take offs and landings!) So I thought it would be nice to welcome him home tonight with a big hearty bowl of split pea soup! And I love this recipe so much I thought I'd share.

You can find the original recipe instructions here and the only modification that I made was that I added some ham because I happened to have some left over. YUM! But it is also quite delicious without the ham, so feel free to omit!

So for starters, the first step in any good soup recipe in my opinion is as follows:

1. Grab Your Favorite Beverage

Mine happened to be a delicious bottle of Apricot Ale, and I'm telling you, it is Nectar of the Gods.

2. Start the Sizzlin'

Saute your onions and garlic with a little Olive Oil, Oregano, Salt and Pepper (the smell is super dreamy!) until the onions are translucent (about 10 mins).

3. Add the Goods

This includes your carrots, potatoes, 3/4 of the split peas you are using (reserving the other 1/4 for later) and of course your stock of choice. This is also where I added my ham.

4. Bring this baby to a boil!

Then go ahead an simmer, uncovered for about 40 minutes and make sure to skim off the "foam" that rises to the surface from the split peas cooking. After about 40 minutes add your remaining split peas. This will give the soup some texture and then of course simmer for another 40 minutes.

*As a total sidebar. Make sure to stir FREQUENTLY otherwise your solids can burn to the bottom of the pan, which makes for icky soup (trust me, I've done it). So just keep skimming and stirring and don't get too sucked in to that riveting episode of Law and Order because burnt soup is No Bueno!

5. Lastly, Enjoy!

And frankly, this is the easiest step. It is a wonderful treat on a cold, winter night and I can't wait to serve it to Garrett this evening after a long day of travel!

Hope you enjoy it as much as we will tonight!

January 11, 2009

The Little Studio: Bathroom + Kitchen Edition

So I realized that I had showed you the before pictures of my new little studio (emphasis on the little), but I hadn't yet posted any update pictures so I thought I'd show you what I did with the kitchen and bathroom.

(Bedroom/Office/Closet Pics to Come!)

So here is the Main Area where I spend a good portion of time. It houses the kitchen, the dining area, and off to the right you get a sneak peak of the bathroom.

The thing about a studio is that there is very little space. This challenge has probably been my favorite part of living here because often I have had to really streamline my material things and be creative about storage. Part of my solution has been to repurpose some items like this bar from Pottery Barn:

This actually functions as a home for my favorite cookbooks, but also instead of storing bottles in there it has become something of a dry goods pantry. And because the space is limited, I really have to be organized about the food I keep on hand, which I love. I took some great ideas from this website about what to keep on hand, and it has really made my pantry not only more organized but healthier! When you don't have much room for storage, I am more likely to store something that will make up part of a delicious, healthy meal rather than some impulse buy snack food purchase.

One of the other storage solutions I have found instrumental in this space is my Ikea Expedit Bookcase. I turned it on its side and, voila! Insta-storage!

With little cabinet space, I had to find a solution to the question of where to put a lot of my cookware. It also made me realize that the things I stored needed to function in multiple different ways. For example, the bottom right corner stores my All Clad Multi-cooker which is a multi-tasking lifesaver, as it only takes up as much room as a stock pot, but it also includes a strainer for cooking pasta and vegetable steamer basket. This guy may seem big, but in the long run saves me SO MUCH SPACE!

In the actual prep area you will see that the space is limited (are we seeing a pattern, yet?), but I actually found some creative solutions, again from Ikea that really helped me fit everything I needed in there without taking up all my counter space.

The first was maximizing my wallspace with the Grundtal line of rails, hooks, and holders. It really allowed me to keep the things I use all the time within arms reach but without having them take up valuable prep space.


I also used that same line of products on the other kitchen wall to maximize my knife and spice storage.

Since I cook A LOT, I still store some spices on the counter, but this obviously helped keep that to a minimum!

Lastly, in the kitchen, I made sure to keep all my accessories bright and cheerful to reflect the vibe of the house. How great is the acid green and light turquoise paint on the walls? I never would have chosen those colors myself, I'm just not talented like that, but I love, love, love them! It's helped inspire my choices of colorful cookwear -- I mean how could you have a plain white tea kettle with such fabulous paint on the walls?

And even though it can get a little cluttered, I love posting my favorite pictures on the refrigerator. It inspires my photography, and reminds me of how lucky I am to have such great friends and family in my life!

So that's the kitchen and dining area, onto the Loo!

The bathroom, like everything else, is small, but it's the perfect size for me and I have found some creative storage solutions to make sure I have all my favorite girly products available. Can't scrimp on those! The paint is a little more neutral, but the tile in here is the real showstopper! Full of greens, browns, and even some purples, it is definitely a great detail.

I absolute LOVE the pedestal sink! But that also came with it's own storage challenges. The previous tenant left the plastic drawers to left of the sink, and even though they are not the prettiest, they have been super useful. And the apothecary jars on top are from (where else?) Ikea and they allow me to keep my most used items at my fingertips at all times.

And last but not least I thought I'd give you a sneak peak of the Little Shower. Not because it is particularly fabulous or anything, but I thought you might want some photgraphic proof that I do actually use the products I recommend here!

So there you have it! That's my Little Studio -- well the kitchen and bathroom, at least. Next up I will give you a little tour of the other half of the house, so Stay Tuned!

The Time Of My Life?

Is this for real?

I'm so tempted. But I'm pretty sure it will be an 11 out of 10 on the Look-Like-An-Asshole-While-Doing Scale.

Although has that really ever prevented me from doing anything in the past?

January 08, 2009

I'm about to get a little whiny...you've been warned.

So Garrett has been out of town for 7 days now (BABY COME BACK!) Wow, I hope I just got that song in your head for the rest of the dayfrom those obnoxious Swiffer commercials where the old school brooms and mops beg to be "taken back" while a surly housewife rolls her eyes. Argh! I hate those ads. So, yeah, you're welcome.

Anyway, since he's been gone (oh god, now I'm hearing Kelly Clarkson -- Jesus, Calgon Take Me Away!) I have observed that my life really is pretty different when he is not around. It's not that I am lying around on the couch, eating bon bons, and pining for him -- but there is just a whole different vibe (especially on the weeknights) that I've been noticing during the last week So I have noticed the following:

1. I grocery shop A LOT less.
When you are are only cooking for one person, you do a lot less meal planning. My kitchen creativity has definitely suffered in his absence; however, my bank account has been singing HALLELUJAH! Also, I hate the grocery store between 5 and 6pm, which always seems to be when I go there during the week when I'm cooking for us both. This week, I have totally avoided that! Woo Hoo for stress relief! So I guess that's okay, but...

2. Apparently, I turn into a vegetarian!
Speaking of cooking, I have not cooked meat since he left! And this one was kind of a shock to me, because I like meat just fine. Actually, this isn't entirely accurate, seeing as the enormous batch of split pea soup that I made did have some left over ham in it, but in general my entrees have been meat free in the interim, and I also have been shopping around on the internet and bookmarking delicious looking vegetarian recipes. I think my inner vegetarian is trying to get out. Ack! What's happening to me?

3. I really commit to some AWFUL television.
It's not like I don't watch TV when Garrett is around, I certainly do. And he definitely watches his fair share of silly TV with me (Top Chef, CSI: Miami, etc). But in the last week or so I seriously have not missed an episode of Oprah, Rachael Ray, Real Housewives of Orange County, The City, The Bachelor (hello! the worst offender!) Gossip Girl...I mean I promise you I have left the house, but my DVR has been working overtime to record my girly guilty pleasures. And I have "made time" to watch them all...while filing my nails, to boot! And I know this sounds great, but seriously...

4. I laugh ALOT less.
And really, folks, this is the fact that I have tried to deny but it so much of the reason that my life is so differnet when he is gone! And I hate that. I like to laugh. God, do I sound like a bad internet dating ad? "Likes to laugh and likes long walks on the beach." Seriously though, Garrett is one of the funniest people that I know and he keeps me in stitches pretty much from the moment he wakes up (sometimes even when he is sleeping!) until we go to sleep at night. And even though I have a pretty good sense of humor and I definitely look for reasons to laugh throughout the day, there is such a shortage going on as of late, and that is a downer!

Which is why I'm so happy there are only 5 days to go! Because clearly, when Garrett is out of town I get over analytical and write posts that have absolutely no point except to say "Get back here, boyfriend! I need some snuggles!" But you know, the wordier version.


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