Saturday, December 5, 2009

Flat Stanley

Dan's sweet cousin Lauren sent us a flat Stanley to take around D.C. (If you haven't heard of flat Stanley the short explanation is that basically a student--typically kindergarten through 3rd grade--send a "flat Stanley" they have colored to visit you and you are supposed to send Stanley back and describe his adventures while he was visiting. It was started by a teacher in Canada who was trying to teach his kids about different areas--a fun pen pal type project).

Dan and I decided to take Stan to several iconic D.C. spots--we lost track of time and were not able to go to all the places we would have liked to have gone (we received Stanley the first week of November), but we were still able to hit the high notes. Last weekend was absolutely gorgeous here and so it worked out well.

We introduced Remi to Stan--he pretty much ignored him at first--looking at me like I was crazy for following him around with this piece of paper and the camera. Then he tried to play with Stanley....that didn't go so well.

Stanley lost a foot...and then somehow the half a limb that remained after the encounter was thrown away (cough cough Dan). However, our resident paper surgeon redeemed himself and was able to patch Stanley up quite nicely (see right leg on first picture).

Friday, November 27, 2009


I had every intention of documenting our lovely first Thanksgiving, but I got as far as the cranberry sauce and a few shots of stuffing and it ended there. Besides, who wants to see our feast anyhow....though it was rather tasty! The above cranberry sauce recipe is by far my favorite--it is tart, but sweet and very complex in its flavor profile. Pretty much, by the time we pulled everything out--we were ready to dig in and thus documentation went to the wayside. Dan did make a fabulous bird though.

We spent most of the day lounging around (which was quite nice considering the busy weeks we've had lately.) Remington isn't going to know what to do next week when we have to go back to work!

The lighting here is terrible, but Remi decided to climb up Dan and ended up laying on his back, as seen above. He stayed there for quite a bit (until Dan was tired of being a Schnauzer lounger).

My boys--attempting to take a nap. You can just see the "do you mind" in the look Remi is giving me.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pre-Thanksgiving Traditions

Dan and I are spending Thanksgiving at home this year--our first holiday as a couple that we've actually spent alone. Usually we will spend it with family in some fashion--either immediate or extended. Therefore, in order to make it feel like Thanksgiving we decided to combine our individual traditions in order to create an emulsification of both. One of my family traditions growing up was Chex mix...not the pre-made stuff out of the bag, but the real deal. We make ours either the weekend before Thanksgiving or a few days before in order to have something to munch on during the break.

We are very picky about our Chex; my sister likes a two to one rice and corn vs. wheat ratio...I like them all so if Kristen won't be partaking I keep the one to one. Second, stick pretzels are a must...tiny twists are NOT allowed. Third, must include a cup of Cheerios (I'm not sure where this started--I think it's because most everyone in our family like them and they are always in our house, so why not.) Lastly, we almost always increase the butter/seasoning mixture by at least 25%...that's just how we roll.

Chex mix is mostly lost on Dan; he likes it, but it's not a make or break for him like it is for my side of the family. I'm looking forward to watching the parade tomorrow morning, but I must say I already miss being around just doesn't feel like Thanksgiving yet.

Another quirk of mine is that when I make chex...I crave chocolate chip cookies. I blame my Grandma. When we visited my grandparents over holidays grandma would always have a huge tub of chex mix and then multiple tins of cookies. My favorites were her chocolate chip, sugar and lastly, ones she called "super cookies"...I'll have to blog about those later.

One thing I've learned as I have gotten older and started baking on my own is that grandma's secret recipes are from the backs of boxes and bags...nothing against the dough boy...I just always thought there was something super secret about them. Anyhow, I enjoy making cakes and muffins etc., but cookies just aren't my thing...yet. Thus the above recipe is from Ghirardelli(which is awesome by the should give it a whirl).

Remi and Lambie have become an item now. Before coming to bed he marches around the apartment searching for a good place to hide lambie for the evening. During my pre thanksgiving bonanza he decided that lambie made a pretty good pillow. Lambie is currently on the DL awaiting repair...he sprung a leak last night and I have yet to suture him up.

Like our beagle (Toby) growing up...Remi stretches out in what Dan calls the Remi Rug. His little paws are pretty darn cute.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Remi meet Ramp

Those who have been to our apartment will understand, we have a really tall bed--we're pretty tall ourselves so we didn't notice the height at first. That is until family/friends/general visitors, started to comment on our really tall get the point; our bed is exceptionally tall. It goes without saying that tall beds and small dogs don't necessarily mix well, but our furry friend has come accustomed to sleeping quite nicely at the foot despite the fear of a rather high vertical drop.

Therefore, we got him a ramp. I know I know...ridiculous, but after worrying about him launching himself off the bed and seeing this little guy attempt and fail to vault himself up the 4 feet and body slam into the side a few times...we took pity (OK, I took pity). I found this foam ramp and thought it might just be the perfect thing for our little guy. He was pretty confused by it at first...then he chewed on it...then he finally reached the top on his own (insert cowboy pose above).

Getting down required a little more work; his first attempt (above) was less than graceful; he hit the top part of the ramp and launched himself off the side. Apparently the rest of the ramp was not necessary.

Thus a little coaching from mom and dad was necessary...he was a little weary of going down the "right" way.

The only thing I can equate this to is a doggy "slip-n-slide"...head up, paws out front...belly down...stretched full out..
And he's off....

We need to work on the dismount--it's a little rough at this point (hence the well placed crash mat)....he seems to prefer a sideways roll once he reaches the bottom.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Granola Bars

Breakfast has always been my sister's favorite meal (well, besides dessert), but I have never been a big breakfast eater. Growing up I would have a bowl of Cheerios or some toast and that was about it. Granted, I loved when dad would make brunch on Sunday morning--what a treat--those ranged anywhere from pancakes, to french toast or home fries and dad's scrambled eggs (which always had cheese...yum). In college I developed a more refined palate and fell in love with a local diner. By senior year I had dropped my meal plan with the school and went to the cafe almost every morning to study and have my morning cup of joe. Now Dan and I don't have much time to have a sit down breakfast, but we still need a little something in the morning to keep us going through the day. We thought granola bars were a good answer, but after trying a dozen different ones--we were never really satisfied. Shoot, half of them are super sweet, loaded with calories and "stuff" you cannot pronounce. Thus, when I saw Ina Garten make these little beauties, I had to give them a whirl.

You can use a mixture of whatever dried fruit you want. I change it up each time depending on what I have in the pantry or what just sounds good to me at the time or what's in season. I typically will use a mixture of 3 or 4 of the following: apricots, dates, cranberries, dried cherries, golden raisins or zante currants.
Honey is a new minor culinary obsession for me. DC is a great place for culinary variety so I have been shopping honey so to speak. I like the darker "raw" honey for the most part--it just has a great depth of flavor, and since honey is the only real added sweetener you want something that has a little personality (in my opinion). I used a raspberry variety this last time from the Savannah Bee Company; they also make an Orange Blossom version that I think might lend itself well--I have a jar in my pantry standing by for next time!

Toasting the sliced almonds, coconut and oatmeal give the bars a little crunch and carmelize the flavors; as a bonus your house will smell yummy!

We have discovered that Remi must be smitten with us too (or he's just keeping tabs on us) because he's our little gray shadow--wherever we go--he goes. Here he is napping on the rug in the kitchen as I was making the granola bars.

I'm not sure how he found this position comfortable; it looks like he's posing for a muscle man competition or trying to do doggy yoga.
Granola Bars--via Ina Garten (with tweaks)
Makes 12-16 bars (depending on how small or large you choose to cut them)
2 cups old fashioned oatmeal
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup shredded coconut, loosely packed (I use sweetened just because it's typically easier to find)
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ (you can find this in the cereal aisle in a jar)
2/3 cup honey
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract (the bourbon variety is nice)
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp melted butter
1 1/2 cup chopped dried fruit

Preheat your oven to 350F. Butter a 9x13 baking pan and line with parchment paper.
Toss oatmeal, almonds and coconut together and spread out on a parchment lined jelly roll pan (I like the higher sides of the jelly roll for this, but it's up to you...I'm just accident prone so this minimized my clean up).

Bake for about 10 minutes until golden brown--stirring occasionally because the coconut will burn if you let it go--p.s. you will start to smell it as it browns.
Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the wheat germ. Reduce temp of the oven to 300F.

While the mixture is still warm, stir in your butter, honey, vanilla and salt until well combined--then dump in the dried fruit. Pour the mixture into your prepared baking dish and press REALLY hard until it seems as packed as possible (for me--wet hands work well for this--think rice crispy treat kind of sticky).

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until light golden brown (my oven is ghetto so it takes me about 40-45 minutes to get a good brown). Cool for 2 to 3 hours before cutting (you're going to need a good knife for this task!)

I like to put these guys in individual bags and keep them in the freezer (so that they don't go soft on us.) That way when Dan and I are trying to bolt out the door to get to work we can just grab one of these out of the freezer along with a mug of coffee and we're good to go. Enjoy!

Lambie Doodle

Remi was a bit depressed the first few days we had him; he was affectionate from day one...always wanting to be with Dan and I, but he didn't play or run around and explore like most puppies; he just slept for the most part. This lasted about a day...then he discovered the lambie doodle (the manufacturers name...not ours!)

He has since officially entered the chew stage; he's not bad by any means...just curious. He hasn't necessarily destroyed anything (with exception to our cousin Lauren's flat Stanley...the little paper doll is now missing a foot...I'll have to be crafty with it's replacement...and I may laminate him to avoid future encounters). I'll post about where we take Stanley later; we're thinking the usual DC hot spots will be in order.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Blog

Everyone has a blog--right? So, why not me! Well, for one, I don't really have anything of much relevance to say, and two, who wants to read my ramblings! However, after some coaxing from friends to post recipes and the procurement of a dashing little muse, I figured--why not--so, here goes nothing....wish me luck!!


My husband and I wanted to add a furry friend to our family and wanted a "neutral" breed. He grew up with a sheltie and I grew up with beagles...thus, we settled on something new to us both...a miniature schnauzer. They are small, well tempered, non shedding and they are just so darn cute.

After weeks of research we found a reputable breeder with available puppies. I didn't realize how much was involved in doing this kind of thing. As a kid we had a total of 3 beagles--one came from a breeder--however, I was in 3rd grade when we got him, so I don't really remember much about how we got got him, just that we got him. Dan's family procured their sheltie at a small, family owned pet store (which came from a breeder from North Dakota.) According to the AKC, reputable breeders are the best way to go if you want a pure bred--otherwise shelters are great. We are newly wed dog owners and sort of wanted to know what we were getting so we decided to call our local miniature schnauzer chapter to get more info.

We went up to Maryland to visit the kennel on a Monday afternoon and fell for a 5 month old little salt and pepper cutie. Some folks asked us why he was still available so old, but the breeder actually keeps her pups longer than most so that they are better socialized. In the beginning we thought we wanted a black and silver puppy puppy (which she had), but she had the little one out with Remi and we just loved Remi's personality. He isn't a show dog where as the little black and silver pup will be a beauty, but what Remi lacks in show quality he is abundant in affection and spunk.
We've had him for 5 days now and though it feels like we've just adopted a two year old...we're smitten!