Tuesday, February 23, 2010

10 Things Everyone Needs When They're Moving

So, here's a list of 10 things everybody needs when a move is imminent. These things could be given as a goodbye gift for the person moving. If you're the one moving, make your own moving kit.

1. A box cutter. You thought I was going to say tape, right? No. Having many, many box cutters (preferably one that can be attached to one's body) is absolutely necessary. Many times during this move, I packed boxes which then I had to open before they were actually transported to the new house. For example, I needed a lampshade the night before we moved because I absolutely could NOT stand the idea of reading my novel by the light of a naked bulb before I went to sleep. But I had no box cutter, so I was using kid scissors and a pen to try to get into a box. Not pretty.

2. Packing Tape. Don't get that wimpy yellow-y kind. Get the super thick durable kind. The scotch clear tape is about $2 at Walmart. That's the best.

3. Many writing utensils and notepads, preferably sticky notes (again, having these items on a key chain is a good idea, if possible).

4. A cell phone charger.

5. A flashlight and extra batteries. These are necessary in the old empty house and in the new empty house. There are no nightlights left.

6. Dare I say it? Instant coffee or tea bags and a tea kettle (preferably borrowed from the neighbor).

7. The dog's leash and kitty crates, along with dog food, cat food, kitty litter, and a litter box. Some sort of bowl is handy too. Oh, and tuna in case your cat decides to go under the foundation of the house and you're trying to lure her out.

8. Many cleaning supplies. These are again necessary in the old and new houses, so bring all types along. Throw in some tp and paper towel while you're at it.

9. Air mattresses (again, for old and new houses) on those weird nights when you're camping out indoors.

10. Beer, wine, or Xanax. No further explanation needed.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Palate Pleasers

I've had a new idea for my blog. Since moving here to Chicago, I have been slowly getting to know some of the people in our new congregation, Redeemer Lutheran Church.

In the spirit of a "getting to know you" project, I've decided to start with some cooking. I was given the newest church cookbook on the day of my husband's installation. It is called "Palate Pleasers." What better way to get to know some of the cooks in the congregation than by using their recipes?

So, I pulled the book out today, and decided I could try some recipes. This all may sound very "Julie and Julia"-like, and I guess I mean it to. I read the book, Julie and Julia by Julie Powell several years ago, and loved the concept. She decided to make all of Julia Child's recipes (in her Joy of Cooking book) over the course of a year and write about it on her blog.

However, my version will use the church cookbook for my inspiration. Tonight's recipe: Savory Beef Strudel.

Any time a main dish recipe has a dessert term in the name, it's going to be made in my kitchen. I have a terrible sweet tooth. I don't dive head-first into a bag of Doritos, but Oreos at 4 pm sound like a terrific addition to my diet. (Sad, I know.) One of my other favorite main dishes is the classic Bisquick recipe called cheeseburger pie. I mean, burgers, cheese, and pie--how can it get any better?

So tonight's recipe involves strudel. Interestingly, the word "strudel" comes from the German word for whirlpool, apparently because if you take a cross-section of a strudel you can see a sort of spiral shape. Apple strudel is the most common recipe consisting of layers of strudel dough and filling. The strudel dough is very labor-intensive to make, and my recipe, while it still took about 45 minutes to prepare, saved me the labor of making the dough. Instead, it called for phyllo dough (puff pastry dough).

The first time I used phyllo dough in a recipe, I thought the dough itself was the packaging. The sheets are so paper-like that I kept picking up layer after layer trying to get to the good stuff. Alas, the "good stuff" was what I was ripping through and tearing to shreds.

Tonight I knew better, remembering that foray into phyllo dough in my younger years. This recipe is sort of like lasagne. I made a meat mixture with ground beef, celery, onion, garlic, salt and pepper, and layered that between buttered layers of the phyllo. Over the top of the layers went a milk and egg mixture. The whole thing is now in the oven cooking.

Well, the timer's about to ding, so I'd better sign off. I'll let you know how the recipe turned out!

My flowers are in bloom

As promised, here are some photos! Everything is a work in progress, but I do feel like we're MAKING progress, so that is good. Here is a photo of our "icon wall"--the idea we got from Dr. D. Scaer. These are our hand-painted and favorite icons from various places: Ethiopia, Greece, and one commissioned by us by a Russian icon painter. That was pretty awesome (it's the one to the left of the cross of St. Nicholas).

This is my Jasmine plant that I bought at Trader Joes. It's now in bloom. Love it!

Here is a photo of our new living room furniture (which, of course, Lucy just HAD to sit on).

Next are some odd ceiling pictures, but let me explain. The first is our ceiling fan which we now have put up in the kitchen, in place of the green pool-table-esque light fixture.

The second photo shows a much more reasonable placement of our dining room fixture (and I haven't hit my head on it once since it is now over the center of the table).

Next, we have the non-racing stripes in the bottom of the bathtub. Again, this may seem an odd photo, but when we moved in there were these stick-on white non-skid stripes in a zig zag pattern. It took me some elbow grease, but I got rid of those, and now the coral bathroom looks a tad bit better. Also, our wonderful handymen installed a bath fan yesterday, so now it's much better.

This is a photo of our new carpet on the stairs. Love it! We're also getting runners for the upstairs hallway and the area in the living room from the front door to the kitchen.

We also had a really plush shag carpet put in the master bathroom. I could sleep on it: it's that soft and wonderful!

Next, is the new fabulous kitchen sink faucet. The older one was gold/brass and was leaking and not looking all that great. This is the new update! I'm going to switch all of the cabinet pulls to silver/chrome and see how that works.

This is the fabulous table/chairs I found on Craigslist.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Finally a few pictures

Admittedly, these are not the best photos, and I have many more to add, but they capture at least a couple of things.

1. The installation of the new dishwasher. Yay! This day we also had a garbage disposal put in. Much needed upgrades, and I am so thankful for them (those can be my Valentine's gift). :)

2. Below are some pictures of the recent snowstorm that hit Chicago. It pretty much snowed for 36 hours straight. We don't have it nearly as bad as farther east, but still, it is up to Lucy's belly. Also, I've added a photo of our sunroom (still very much in transition, as you can tell). The sun is streaming in the window, brightening up the room. It's not captured well on film, but it looks cheery this morning.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

The fun part of unpacking

One of the best (only?) things about unpacking is the decorating. We've gotten to the point where much of the house is unpacked. The bedrooms are finished, the linen closet is filled, the laundry room is organized, the kitchen is mostly done, and my work space is functional--oh, and the family room (maybe most important!) is comfy and cozy. Today I was working on the the living room. In every new space, the decor fits in a little differently. I'm trying to use what we have in a new way. Which candles fit where? Where should we hang the tulip picture? etc. It all takes time, but it's nice to see things coming together.

Monday, February 01, 2010

February already?

I can't believe how quickly the last few weeks have passed during our relocation process. Each day, each hour, something else gets unpacked and put away in our new house, so things are definitely settling down as the house gets in shape.

Scott's installation and dinner reception were last Sunday. It was a lovely service, and the dinner was magnificent. Wow--what an incredibly warm welcome! We are just so thrilled to be here. We know that moving is a roller coaster, and we'll have up and down days, but we've been so pleased and thankful for all of the warm and generous gifts the people of Redeemer have given us. Thank you!