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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Kitschy Kool: Volume 3: Quiche

Yes, Quiche. lol. A little old-school, packed with calories and utterly delicious! My mother-in-law made us a bacon and egg quiche while we were home for Christmas and it rekindled my love for these savory pies/tarts.

I also follow a blog called Artsy-Foodie and today she posted a recipe for crustless quiche (that has to make it a little healthier, right?)...doesn't that sound and look divine? It sounds so simple, yet so scrumptious and perfect for a New Year's brunch.



Potato Spinach Crustless Quiche (serves 6-8)
1 1/2 cups sauteed chopped spinach
1 1/2 cups roasted potatoes, diced size
16 oz lowfat cottage cheese
1/2 cup egg whites
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup shredded cheese (mild cheddar or italian mix)
3 tablespoons GF breadcrumbs

Preheat oven 375F
Oil a ceramic lasagna dish

Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl. Transfer to the baking dish. Bake for 1 hour. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
I think I may try it this weekend!

And if you are looking to start off this New Year with a clean kitchen and prefer to eat out instead, one of my favorite places to order quiche in the Saint Louis area is at the The Blue Owl, in historic Kimswick, MO. This place may be more quaint than kitschy, with all the ladies serving you in big blue frilly aprons, but any way you slice it they have delicious quiche and pies. They always have a quiche (or 3) of the day and they are totally yummy.

Lastly, in effort to forcefully theme "Kitchy Kool" with "Quiche" for this posting, I googled "kitschy quiche" and wouldn't you know it, came up with a blog featuring a recipe for "kitsch quiche", lol. Sounds good, if you want to try it...mmmm Gruyere cheese.

So as we round out 2008, I hope to kick off my New Year with a quiche or two and maybe I have inspired you to do the same!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Little Stephie Homemaker

So Christmas has come and gone; in fact, it flew by so fast I did not even snap any photos (so unlike me!). But I did have fun wrapping, giving and receiving gifts. And the gifts that I got this year were extra heart-felt and fun for my new life as a wife. We had just gotten so many new things off of our wedding registry, that I didn't have anything I really NEEDED. But I have been really excited about learning to use all of my new kitchen gadgets, so most of my gifts I got seemed to revolve around that theme.


First of all, after reading Kristal's post about aprons, I was so excited to see an apron in the very same wonderful print in which I bought a Shabby Apple dress for our little niece this summer. 

When I saw it, I simply showed my husband the apron over my shoulder on the laptop and that was that. Actually he told me not to buy it because the price seemed high for an apron "Can't you find a cheaper one at Wal-Mart?", he said. So I was VERY surprised (and impressed) to see this under the tree on Christmas!:


Yes, ladies, he managed to not only create an Etsy account all on his own, but ALSO searched page after page until he found THE apron that I had pointed out. I know this may sound very stereotypical 50’s housewife to get this from my brand new hubby, but it is my fave gift!

Second, he also gave me a gift certificate for us to attend a class at The Chopping Block, a cooking school here in Chicago. I love getting gifts like these that we can enjoy together. This will make for a fun, yet useful date night for us. Check out the schedule of January classes and help me choose!

My mother-in-law also got me Martha Stewart's Cooking School Cookbook. I can't wait to break into this and learn all the basics! Like how to cut correctly with our new Wustof knives :-)

And lastly, there is still one related thing on my "wish-list"... good thing my birthday is in a few weeks (hint, hint, wink, wink). 

It's the newly released Iron Chef America Supreme Cuisine Wii game:


I love this show and I figure with this gift, I could practice "virtually" as well.


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Coincidence? I think not!

After being a called a "nag" for the first time in our 5 week marriage, and probably with good reason, I find it to be no coincidence, that this article just popped up on my iGoogle "How To" section a few moments ago: "5 Ways to Compromise with Your Spouse" .


As I browsed for last minute holiday gifts online, this lovely little article on wikiHow brought to my attention that the best gifts I can give my new hubby this holiday season are not the great French cuff shirts that are sitting in the Macy's bag in our bedroom waiting to be wrapped. Instead, I need to give the gift of being a more active listener. Primarily, the part about removing all other distractions.

At work, I have two flat screen computer monitors on my "desk" (a table) and am usually typing as I am also dialing and also speaking into the headset attached to my ear (no I am not a telemarketer, I'm a recruiter). I also sit in an "open" floor environment where I am within an arms reach of one other person, within whispering distance of at least four other people and just one loud laugh away from about 15 others. So needless to say, in order to be successful in my professional life, I need to be a strong multi-tasker and must be able to thrive amongst multiple distractions.

What I am beginning to realize though very early in my married life is that what works in the office does not necessarily work at home. I know that to be a better partner that I must set aside the laptop (yes, every once in a while), maybe even turn off the TV and LISTEN. Don't get me wrong, I know multitasking is a great skill set, but communication can also suffer while doing so. 

And I'm thinking after reading this article that all of those times he tells me that "he doesn't care", may be because he THINKS his opinions won't matter anyway. But by all means it does though or I would not ask. Maybe it's also because he knows of my nasty little addiction too, I always have to win; yet, in compromise there should not be a winner and a loser. Maybe just two losers...lol. And since I'm in a confessing mood, I also admit that I need to do more asking, instead of just telling.

So, here it goes...

Dear Dave:

I promise to be a better listener; thus, we'll better at compromising.

Enjoy your gift & Merry Christmas!

Steph :-)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Kitschy Kool: Volume 2: Nativity Sets

So I realized this week what our tree was missing, a Nativity Scene! I'm not really sure I want a traditional carved or ceramic one, so I went on the search for a kitschy-cool nativity set... what? Jesus, Mary & Joseph can be "kool" too :-)


So here are my finds so far:

I mean, what's not to love here! You all know my feelings on felt this season, so what a great addition:

Ok, maybe I just love toys, but isn't this cute...err, I mean kitschy kool:

Of course, last but not least, I could not leave out my favorite site Etsy ! And look what I found in their vintage listings, a 1950's cardboard nativity set:

Ok, so time to vote, which of these kitschy kool nativity sets belong under my tree?

Our New Bed: Delivery Saturday!!

While home in St. Louis the day after Thanksgiving, my mom and I went to Crate & Barrel for a few things. I showed her the bed that Dave and I were thinking of eventually getting with our 10% registry completion, and low & behold she pulls out a 15% off coupon...good on anything! So I called Dave and he said, "Go For It!" and I put in our order.


Today I got the call that our bed will be delivered first thing Saturday morning! Woo Hoo!

Check it out, it's their Archer bed! And I promise to post real pics after it's in our posession, but for now the stock photo will have to do:
I used to think leather was too "manly", but even my mom agreed it looked very nice, even better than the fabric version so I was sold.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

My Wedding Photos: Jon Koch's Blog

The time is finally here! Jon Koch posted a "sneak peak" of our wedding photos on his blog tonight, and I love them. He did such a great job. And if the 700+ photos to come are anything like these 30 photos I will be a very happy bride (can I call myself that anymore?).


I'll post a few below, but be sure to click on the link above to see all of them.


Hope you all like them!

Monday, December 8, 2008

One Month Anniversary & Fun Mail

Today is our one month wedding anniversary. I know, it's not THAT long and in some ways it seems like just yesterday and in other ways it feels like forever. But either way it feels great... I love you hubby!





To top it off both the bank AND the Social Security office decided to send us a gift today... my new debit cards and my new SS card with my new name! I was torn about this name change as I had mentioned before the wedding, but now that we are married I am actually really excited about changing it. It feels official now. At work I kept my name Stephanie Maiden Married so that I can slowly transition and my clients can get used to it, but at home I am now happy as a clam being Stephanie C instead of L.

Now I just need to battle the IL DMV before mid-January when my MO license expires, but this requires a written IL drivers test to transfer states AND names, so it will not be as fun :-(

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Recipe: Florentine-Stuffed Shells with Italian Sausage

As a new wife, I am trying something new. I never cooked much in the first year we lived together before we were married. I like to cook but we just never really did. Laziness, I guess!


Now that I have all my lovely new kitchenware from our wedding registry, I have decided to pick one new recipe a week out of one of our new cookbooks to prepare. Tonight I made use of our new enameled cast iron Mario Batali Lasagna-Roaster and prepared a recipe from a cookbook I received as a wedding shower gift: Meet Us in the Kitchen

The recipe was for Florentine-Stuffed Shells with Italian Sausage:

After gathering all of the ingredients, I realized I had bought everything EXCEPT for the cream of mushroom soup. So I substituted some Ragu Light Alfredo sauce I had in the cabinet and adjusted the amount of sour cream and mushrooms I put in, but it still came out SOO tasty.

Before:

After:

Next time I think I will use 3/4 of the amount of spinach and add 1/4lb more sausage. Oh, and I will either use spicy sausage or add some red pepper flakes for a little extra oomph!

But it was great!

Recipe:

Ingredients:
1 pound Italian Sausage
1 medium onion
1 garlic clove (I used two)
1 8 oz can of mushrooms stems & pieces, drained
1 teaspoon basil
salt & pepper to taste
2 10oz packages frozen spinach, cooked, drained
1 10oz can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup sour cream
10 2/3 oz large pasta shells, cooked
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup 40% cream

Brown the sausage in a large skillet (remove casing if you buy links), stirring until crumbly; drain. Stir in the onion, garlic, mushrooms and basil. Season with salt & pepper. Add the spinach and soup and mix well. Stir in sour cream.

Arrange the pasta shells in a single layer in a baking pan. Stuff the shells with the sausage mixture. Sprinkle with Parmesan and mozzarella cheese. Pour a thin layer of the cream over the top. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Serves 4 (or more!)

Enjoy!

Our Tree is Trimmed

We finally went out today and got our first real Christmas tree!! We have very tall ceilings (16 ft) but a very narrow space to put our tree, so we needed a tree that was tall enough, but not too wide in circumference. Growing up we used to go cut down a tree from a tree farm and we always had Scotch Pines. When we got older my parents bought a gorgeous & realistic looking artificial pine tree that they still use today. So I was always partial to pines, but the selection of pines at the lot we went to were very short and wide.


So after a few strolls up and down the aisle, we decided on an 8 foot Balsam Fir . It is just narrow enough, while still being full. Plus, it smells AMAZING so it put us right in the Christmas spirit.

Here it is before:


Then as I started to string the lights, Dave started making us some Apple Cider. Easy Recipe:
1 Qt Cider
3 tbsp Caramel apple mulling spice mix
1 cinnamon stick (more for looks than anything, lol)
Top with reddi whip
And enjoy!


Then, after a few sips we managed to finish the tree:


And here is our wedding cake topper that we found a dual purpose for:

And one of our "First Christmas" Ornaments, a wedding present from my aunt:


Next our tree star and my lovely tree skirt I got on clearance from Crate & Barrel outlet last year:


Which matched the stockings from Crate & Barrel as well. I also got the stocking hangers and Louie's (the dog's) stocking from Target this year:


And ta-da! We now have Christmas in our loft!


Saturday, December 6, 2008

Kitschy Kool: Volume 1: Mad Libs

I know my blog really has no clear focus, and I sort of like it that way. From my somewhat comical political run-ins to my favorite handmade finds, I really just like to chronicle my day-to-day (I know, sometimes week-to-week) events and thoughts. Plus, I have a journalism degree and USED to write for a living so I felt that if I didn't start writing again, at least casually, I'd lose it!


However, in an effort to have a bit of a theme to the randomness (I'm a conceptual person at heart) I am starting a regular blog entry which I will title "Kitschy Kool". In it, I will feature something, anything, that I choose to highlight as simply kitschy (which by the way doesn't have the most positive literal definition) yet Cool... but with a K because I like same letter alliteration ;-)

Today, for my first Kitschy Kool feature I would like to highlight Mad Libs! Who didn't love playing this retro, yet oh so cool -- and even somewhat educational -- game full of fill-in-the-blanks for your favorite parts of speech?? These were a slumber party favorite of mine:



My love for them was renewed when I found smaller, party favor versions at Target and added them to our Flower Girl & Ring bearer gifts at the rehearsal dinner. My little cousin couldn't stop playing them! And with so many varieties these days, they are still fun for young and old. 


I think I will purchase a few of these as stocking stuffer gifts this year, just for old times sake. 

So folks, I hope you enjoyed my first edition of Kitschy Kool featuring Mad Libs... From this self-proclaimed grammar & game geek to you!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

"Everyone needs beauty as well as bread." ~ John Muir

I just had a quick find over lunch that I just had to tell people about. If you are still in need of gifts for some gal pals in your life, you must check out nest !


Every purchase on this site helps women in developing nations, plus the clothing, art and accessories are very cute!

From the site: "Nest is a nonprofit organization dedicated to changing the lives of women in developing countries. The mission of Nest is to support women artists and artisans in the developing world by helping them create sustainable entrepreneurial businesses. To do this, Nest provides micro-credit loans to be used for the purchase of the supplies and materials necessary to begin and/or maintain art or craft-based businesses."

Check out this awesome framed art from a loan recipient in Turkey, only $26:


And these Cosmetic Cases from a loan recipient in Guatemala, $22:




Have fun shopping for a good cause!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Winter Finds (Plus, the Real vs Fake Debate)

In honor of the newly fallen snow on the ground, I thought I'd highlight some my favorite winter finds over the last week or so.


First of all, I did go on a hunt for felt Christmas decor at my parents house, as previously discussed, but I didn't come back with much. However, when I returned I did order an amazing needle felted ornament online to perfectly commemorate 2008! It's from Etsy seller feltcafe:



I'm in love and cannot wait to receive it... GObama!

Next I splurged on some duds to keep me warm in the windy city.  The first one being The North Face Metropolis Jacket I bought in brownie. A serious splurge, but I found a great 20% off coupon code and bought it off Moosejaw. I figure with a 4 block walk from the loft to the train and another 4 blocks from the train to work each morning & night, I think I deserve it! Today was my 2nd day wearing it to work and in my mind it already paid for itself as I battled the wintry mix this morning.


I love it because it's long enough to cover my legs and with boots will protect most of my pants from the black sludgy aftermath of the snow storm. Speaking of boots, I also purchase these The North Face Boots and am eagerly awaiting their arrival:




You know, it's funny the things you get excited about when you commute by public transit as opposed to via a heated car :-)

I also grabbed a couple cute sweaters to wear to work from Anthropologie and this is my fave, the Pick-And-Choose Cardigan in grey! (sorry I can't grab the image for the post!)

So, now I feel really selfish about all the things I purchased FOR ME when this is the season of giving. So I'll move to something a little more green... both responsibly and literally! 

I have been going back and forth in my head, and out loud with my new husband, about getting a Real Tree versus a Fake Tree this Christmas. And just as I was debating the look, the cost and the carbon footprint that both would leave, a great blog i follow posted this today. So decision is final, it's going to be real this year! Now I'm trying to convince Dave to drive out to a tree farm to cut down our own (I really, really want to do this!) or to just go pick one up at a tree lot.  To me, that loses a little of it's luster, but I'm not sure i'll win this battle considering all of the driving back and forth to STL that we have been doing lately, and will be doing thru December.

Oh well, Tree Lot or Tree Farm, I can't wait to wear my new outerwear & sweater out to grab a wonderful Christmas tree and to be able to decorate it with my awesome new ornament!

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About Me

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I'm a St. Louis native, but I have been living in Chicago since 2005 and am loving every windy minute of it. I enjoy cooking (more-so eating), home decorating and really anything creative. I'm a supporter of DIY & handmade goods, a fledgling foodie and a connoisseur of kitsch. I spend my days filling online shopping carts, emptying them and repeating the process all over again. Most of all I love spending time with my husband, Dave, our first child, Claire and my dog, Louie.

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