Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

We had one of our most low key New Year's celebrations this year, maybe it's the pregnancy hormones, but maybe I just realized how super duper blessed we are.  Saturday I spent most of the day in the kitchen, cooking chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and sprinkles (YUM!) and the Barefoot Contessa's Greek Salad Recipe.  I added some lettuce to the salad, since D isn't fond of weird veggie only salads.  I also used some of the olive oil we brought back from Tuscany for the dressing.  I hate how Ina Garten is always saying "use 1/4 of a cup of good olive oil," implying that her viewers typically buy some sort of subpar ingredients on a regular basis but since you're making her recipe you should step it up a notch?  Maybe it's just me....

Anyways, I brought half the cupcakes over to a get together at D's brother and sister-in-law's house in the late afternoon.  We visited and had snacks and the boys grilled.  I mostly housed the chips and dips, using pregnancy as my excuse for my usual gluttony over anything dippable. 

After the sun set we headed home to change clothes, feed the pups, and then head to NYE bash number two (yes, we're very popular, kind of a big deal, I know) where I brought the rest of the cupcakes for dessert and the greek salad I'd prepared earlier.  We went over to Christine and Parker's for an AMAZING dinner complete with an impressive spread of hors derves, wines, egg nog, a delicious prime rib, yorkshire pudding, mashed potatoes, and kale au gratin.  Suddenly, I wished I'd made a more impressive dessert, maybe cupcakes are a bit low brow as a finale for a spread like that, maybe I'm a bit nutty because I'm preggo, but they were moist and totally hit the spot.  I ate two.

We headed home right after midnight, this preggo was A) exhausted and B) *TMI alert* rather gassy.  Like grab on to something wincing in pain with gas cramps gassy.  It was so bad that I had flashes of worry that I was in labor or something.  Then the reality set in that oh-my-god-labor-is-going-to-hurt-that-much-and-more-f*#$!  So we came home where I could take the appropriate medications and wait out the storm in the peace of my own bed.  Also, note, that this isn't  like me being all farty and gross, it was just pains, I would kill to "be all farty".  The baby seems to be jamming up all that business in my digestive tract so it's not getting out, thus the intense stabbing pains in my abdomen, causing me to excuse myself from social gatherings, lest people interpret my periodic gasps and winces of pain as I clutch the nearest pillow as actual labor.  I blame that damn greek salad and all the chopped up veggies.... 

New Year's Day we woke up, decidedly un-hungover, and spent the day doing chores around the house.  I picked out a paint color for the baby's room.  There were multiple trips to Lowes.  The paint department guy there officially knows me as the crazy pregnant lady who bought WAY too many sample jars of paint and made off with roughly half their paint chips.

Left to right:  Sliced Cucumber, Lilting Laughter, Yellow Bliss, Butter, and on the bottom, Vanilla Wafer
The Lilting Laughter came off very pink and while I loved the Sliced Cucumber, we realized our ENTIRE house is either green or grey and that it wouldn't kill us to use a different color in one effing room.  Vanilla Wafer is a bit too close too white, so it's in between Yellow Bliss and Butter.  Butter looks best in the daylight, Yellow Bliss, best by artificial light.  We're still trying to decide between the two, but I'm sure it'll look great whichever one we choose.  As you can see we have ridiculously dark blue walls in that room, so a good coat of primer will be required. 

While I was having my color summit in the nursery (attendees included two terriers and D), I also made a big pot of my Guinness Stew.  This is one recipe that I can genuinely claim I made up.  I researched some other versions online, but it was inspired by something D had skiing one time and came home and told me about.  I made some tweaks from the last time I made it.

-Brown the meat in half a stick of butter.  Toss the meat with 2 tablespoons of flour, salt and pepper, then throw it into the melted butter.  I used 2 lbs this time.
-slice up an onion, 4 cloves of garlic, two carrots, 8 oz of sliced mushrooms, and half a lb of new potatoes, sliced in half.
-throw it all in a pot, add a can of tomato paste (4 oz-ish?) pour in a can of Guinness, add a cup of water and one packet of onion soup mix (I made this in the past with 2 packets, but I'm trying to cool it on the sodium being preggo and all and it was perfect)
-throw in some herbs, thyme, a couple bay leaves, some dried parsley, basically anything that sounds good and isn't nailed down
-put a lid on it and slide it into a 350 degree oven for 2 hours (I took it out once to stir it half way through)
-D likes his sauces thick, so I thickened the sauce with a couple tablespoons of flour, but that's totally optional
-I served it with buttermilk biscuits, but if you kept the sauce thinner, some rice or egg noodles might be nice.

And there you have it, flying by the seat of my pants, making it up as I go and never the same way twice, but it always turns out damn tasty and D is a very happy man.    Which is good because he spent the whole day rekeying our locks, replacing door knobs, fixing our brand new fan (which was crappily made, engineer husband to the rescue!).  And that is the very unglamourous way we rang in the new year, but it made me realize how blessed we were to have so many good friends, plenty of food on the table, jobs that allow us to have such nice things, a beautiful home, a darling child on the way, and of course, two of the snuggliest and most entertaining pups on the planet.  Sometimes you have to stop and wonder what you did to deserve all this, you know?

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