Monday, August 30, 2010

Sweet Treat!



I always get excited when I catch a cooking show while doing cardio at the gym. Of course, the cooking show inevitably makes me hungry, which makes me go home and eat which defeats the purpose of the cardio, but at least I leave with some new ideas for baking/cooking. Most recently I watched Giada at Home on the Food Network and saw her make Strawberry and Rosemary Scones. I had never attempted to make scones before, and the fact that she made them into cute little heart shapes made me want to give them a try (especially since they would look super cute sitting out for our anniversary weekend). I searched online and found the recipe here along with the video clip from Giada's show where she makes the scones. I love hearing her tips along the way - for example to use cold butter right from the refrigerator which makes the dough more fluffy. Although my scones didn't look exactly like Giada's (sigh) they were still quite tasty, and so much fun to make! The rosemary adds an interesting depth of flavor and Max and I both enjoyed munching on the sweet treat ; )




Directions

For the scones: Place an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper. Set aside.

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together the flour, sugar, baking powder, rosemary, salt, and butter until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl. Gradually stir in the cream until the mixture forms a dough. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough into a 1/2-inch thick, 10-inch circle. Using a 3-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut out heart-shaped pieces of dough and put on the prepared baking sheet. Gently knead together any leftover pieces of dough and roll out to 1/2-inch thick. Cut the dough into more heart shapes and add to the baking sheet. Using an index finger or a small, round measuring spoon, gently make an indentation in the center of each pastry heart. Spoon a heaped 1/2 teaspoon of jam into each indentation. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. Transfer the cooked scones onto a wire rack and cool for 30 minutes.

For the glaze: In a medium bowl, mix together the lemon juice and powdered sugar until smooth. Gradually add the water until the mixture is thin enough to spread. Using a spoon, drizzle the glaze over the scones. Let the glaze set for about 30 minutes. Serve or store in an airtight plastic container for 2 days.

Cook's Note: The dough can also be made by hand by stirring together the flour, sugar, baking powder, rosemary, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the butter. Using your fingertips or a pastry blender, work the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Gradually stir in the cream until the mixture forms a dough.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Our Very First Anniversary!!


I can't believe how fast the time has gone by! We'll be celebrating our one year anniversary this Sunday : ) And although the year before we got married was filled with big, life changing events (including moving to a different state), our first year of wedded bliss has been quite an eventful one, too! Max started traveling internationally for work and I couldn't be prouder of how well he's doing at his company. I can now add a new grade (kindergarten) and a new state (Arizona of course) to my resumé (not to mention my new three-year AZ teaching credential - yipee!). And quite possibly the biggest change is that we are now proud homeowners (and are addicted to HGTV, Home Depot and Lowes). It's been amazing starting this new life with the man I love and admire. I usually wake up and wonder how I got so lucky to have such a kind, caring and generous husband (who is still and who will always be the most intelligent person I know).

The only negative of the one year anniversary is that I think it means I can no longer say that we're "newlyweds" : ( Max insisted I was stretching the term by still using it but after being married for one year I might have to agree with him. So I'll just have to refer to us as "newlyweds" as much as possible for the next two days ; )

Sunday, August 22, 2010

I Dream of T.V.



More specifically, I've dreamt of a television mounted on the wall with no wires anywhere. Yes, just a floating T.V. : ) Max has become quite the wire runner (dropping wires through the walls from the attic for speakers, alarm systems, etc.) but our T.V. is located on the most difficult wall in the house: under a one story overhang : ( Imagine my surprise when Max said he could still do it! It involved lots of magic (or him dropping wire from the attic, through a second story wall, then under the second story floor) but by last week all the wires arrived to where they were needed! As the icing on the cake, Max installed two flush-mount speakers to provide optimal sound. Here are some photos from the journey...

This is where we started... in the words of my friend Miss Parks, "le sad":

We purchased our mount from monoprice.com for much cheaper than you might pay in a retail store (we definitely recommend the site if you're looking to do the same):

Then my talented hubby had to do some magic to get all of the cables to the mount. He started up here on the overhang:

I've learned that holes can be fixed, so this scene isn't quite as alarming to me as maybe it once would have been:

Of course, Max has all of his super-neat tools. Below is a borescope. I thought they only existed in movies. There's actually a scene in some spy-thriller type movie where the good guy uses one of these to look under a door in a hotel room where all the bad guys are playing poker. It's essentially a tiny camera attached with a wire. The good guy can see exactly where all of the bad guys are, and I won't say what happens next, but it's not pretty. Anyway, you can imagine my surprise when my husband showed up at home with one of these things! It's actually quite handy for looking inside walls (or floors in this case). What Max is showing here is the floor on the overhang, and if you look closely, you'll see copper tubing for water. It's a little known fact (unless you live in Scottsdale proper) that every building in the city, commercial and residential alike, must have sprinkler systems installed in case of fire. The tubing shown on the borescope screen is full of water and goes to all of the sprinklers on the first story ceiling. Definitely something we'd rather not break:

Once the wire was dropped (without damaging that copper tubing, whew!), we had to fish it out of the wall in exactly where the T.V. would be mounted (notice the holes for the speakers, waiting for their wire as well!):

And then Max made all the cables look all nice and neat:

Success:

And my T.V. dream is complete : )



Saturday, August 14, 2010

Crazy for Coconuts



Fresh young coconut is my favorite drink in the world : ) Up until now, I had to beg my husband to open them for me. This would involve Max bringing out a large knife or hatchet and whacking at the coconut violently (and me feeling guilty for asking him to do it and praying that he would still have all of his fingers at the end). I finally searched online for a how-to article and was promised an "easy way" to open a coconut - no brute strength required. Much to my surprise, the article had told the truth! I am now a coconut opening machine!! I thought I'd share the simple steps so the next time you're at the store and see fresh young coconut for sale you won't hesitate to buy one!

Step One: Cut off the top until you can see the darker shell

Step Two: Bang a knife in a circle along the top until the knife easily makes an indentation (use the blade side, closest to the handle)

Step Three: Pry the knife in the indent and a "door" will appear and lift up!



Step Four: Applaud and squeal at your accomplishment

And one more tip we learned from our favorite waiter at our Thai restaurant in California: when removing the flesh of the coconut, use the back of your spoon to pry it off. An instant snack! Yum!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Oh, Bother!

Max had previously warned me that houses are "money pits" but I thought this just referred to buying curtains and spending money on other cute decorative items for the home. Oh, how wrong could I be! Now I know he was talking about the not-so-fun and barely even bloggable home needs. First it was our sprinkler system, which decided to start spewing water like Old Faithful. We saved some money as my handy hubby dug up the valves and rebuilt them himself, but money did go into our imaginary pit.

Next it was the handles to turn on the showers. We had the opposite problem here as we just could not get our master shower handle to turn the water on (not without pulling with all of our might). My mom reported that the large guest bath shower was almost impossible to turn on. After opening all three shower areas we found that the cartridges behind the handles were completely worn (they were after all almost 20 years old). After a trip to Lowe's we brought back new cartridges and handles (I even installed one almost entirely by myself!) and ended up with showers that turn on easily. But alas we had dropped another $100+ into the money pit. And nothing cute to show, sigh.

This brings me to our latest home disaster: the bees! We had noticed about a month ago that a hive had spontaneously formed on an area of the eve of the house that has been repaired right before we moved in. Knowing that bees give us great gifts like pollination and honey, we were reluctant to do anything about them, especially since they kept to themselves way up high on the second story. Over the past weekend, however, Max found some bees that had made their way into the attic: not good. In addition, we had started reading about the damage that bees could do to structures, the fact that the hives could persist for years, and that they attack en masse when they perceive a threat (P.S. the majority of bees in Arizona are the Africanized). We thought that the best course of action (even though we hated it) would be to exterminate the hive. I caught Max searching for Bee Keeping Suits on EBay and worried for a minute but luckily he was talked out of a do-it-yourself job by a coworker who had gone that route and had said he wouldn't recommend it for himself ever again let alone anyone else. So instead, Max got the information for a trusty company who came out today to tackle this mess:




The exterminator who did the job said the hive had housed about 15,000 bees and that he had taken down 15-20 pounds of honeycomb. We don't have an after photo since the worker bees who were out working when the hive came down are now swarming around the area that used to be their home, primed for attack. Don't worry, we can go outside again in about a week. How much in the money pit this time, you ask? Two hundred dollars, and still nothing cute to show!

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