Friday, March 30, 2012

Daily Pic | March Edition

Hey all... It's that time again! LAST WORK DAY OF THE MONTH!!! Seems like this month crawled by as much as it flew. But, March is a long one. That week of warmth was really the best thing ever. 
Before I post this months daily pix, thought I'd do something cheesy! Here are some things I <3 from this month: 

My new wind chime.  LOVE it. 
All the successful projects and purchases that helped the home look much better.
Rad time that will be had tomorrow night.
Concert that i caught streaming on youtube that i still can't stop thinking about.
Higher temps and more sun. Need i say more?!

And in case you missed last months explanation on The Daily Pic.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

A little artschmart Art

After looking through (and loving) the abundance of 'typographic affordable art' that's out right now, I had a brainstorm about making my own up.  

These pix have been all over blogland, pinterest and most of them originate from here. I love them, but a lot of them make me feel like a hack.  I love the look of the 'Not All Who Wander Are Lost' print, but it really doesn't fit me or my life.  What does?  Check out tonight's creation...

Low Res so's I wouldn't have to put a watermark over it, sahry!
I'm excited about this.  I was warning T that I was planning to stain some pine planks (for some diy shelves- stay tuned for that one) on the kitchen table.  Of course, right?  Where else would you stain planks of pine?!  This is totally the story of my life though.  My life long art projects have occurred in locations such as, but certainly not limited to: bed and living room floors, dorm room floors, various abandoned classrooms, brother/sister-in-law's basement, parent's back yard, unauthorized storage area in old apt complex (got in trouble for that one and almost got my paintings thrown away), library parking lots, etc.. the list goes on.  So yeah, I've never had my own back yard/garage or studio space [Ha!] to work in.  

So, rather than stain planks tonight I ended up in psp making that print. I thought about what kind of background image I wanted and felt that one worked well.  I've actually staged 'photo shoots' for my etsy paintings in alleys that looked JUST like that (sadly).  The grimier and more abandoned, the less chance of getting in trouble for working there!

T actually had the BEST idea EVER when we were joking around about having a Pimp My Ride-esque expandable art studio tent that would pop out of my trunk.  Like seriously- that would be the most awesome thing EVER.  Then I could do projects on my lunch hour too!

Anyway, planning to print this out this coming week and can't wait to display it on those shelves, once I actually get them stained and up on the wall. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Chopped: Part 2

Its been a couple weeks since we did Chopped At Home, Part 1.  And now: I'm BACK!
This time it was my turn to be the Chef.   Once my man got home with basket items in tow, it was ready, set, cook!  And what were they?  I'll tell you!  My basket contained: Fresh swiss chard [reaction: Ohkaaaay] , Dried porcini mushrooms [Oh boy!], Aloe Vera Drink [What the …?!], and Veggie Balls [Double, What Tha?!…]. **Post disclaimer: Be ready to read the word 'balls' a lot.
Tisket a tasket- Check out my Chopped basket
I think the first thoughts running through my mind were, 'You've gotta be kidding me, my mom has made swiss chard about one million times and I've watched and I HONESTLY am not sure how to cook this stuff'.  That and 'What on earth are these veggie balls and what the heck does ALOE VERA DRINK even taste like?!'  So like any good procrastinator, I quickly opened the mushrooms, and threw them into a sauce pan with some canned chicken stock from the pantry, a shake of italian seasoning and let those start to reconstitute.  They smelled interesting right away- kind of smoky and very… shroomy, if you will.  **Edited to add: WINE!  Why didn't I put wine in this mix?!

My initial idea was something like, 'I'll bring these mushrooms back to life and do sort of a brown sauce with them & the veggie balls, and do kind of a swedish meatball thing with some broad noodles.  ::Cue record scratch sound.::  T HATES egg noodles.  I mean haaates.  A completely unreasonable thing to hate?  YES.  Its a NOODLE!  Sooo, I back burner-ed that idea (so to speak) and pressed on. 

Since I really couldn’t think of how to approach the chard in the proper way, I did basically what you do with any veggie you don't know what to do with.  I chopped it up and threw it in a pan with olive oil, some of the stock, and a shallot.  And that’s about the last thing that I did with it.

Next step was, be a big girl, open the Aloe Vera drink and find out what on earth it tasted like.  I was expecting: Sour?  Bitter?  Medicinal?… I got… YUM, sweet and a hint of peach.  Ever so slightly effervescent and strangely viscous.  Really, there was no way I could think to incorporate this into the savory meal, so I totally ripped the idea off T and decided I'd make a cocktail with it.  Put a few tablespoons of it in a shaker with a lil Smirnoff and poured over ice with some gingerale and a cherry garnish.  Done.

Back to the stove: I threw the veggie balls down into the mushroom sauce, which had come together pretty well.  I knew I had to come up with the 3rd component of the meal and it was back to the pantry for some fakey-fake mashed taters.  Those took all of 2 minutes to come together (Geoffrey Zakarian and Alex Guarnaschelli would have a stroke on the spot if someone tried to use fake mashed potatoes on Chopped but sorry, I was working in a no-egg-noodle-zone and really needed something I knew would at least taste good for sure).

I think my biggest fail came in the plating stage.  I really wanted to plate impressively.  I thought my artsy side would take over but instead my practical side was like, 'If this sauce turns out to taste gross and its all over everything, then this whole meal will be a bust', so I took a more pragmatic approach to the plating and just put each thing down. 

All in all, the chard was okay, except the stems were underdone.  (Mom later informed me that she boils it first… Duhh).  The balls in shroom sauce were actually totally delish and you can bet that if I ever got them in the store I would NOT have thought of this way of preparing them.  The drink- now that was kinda odd.  It was weird to drink something with clear globbiness to it and also not knowing what any of the benefits are to Aloe.  Web search later revealed that its actually VERY good for lots of things: digestion, skin, immune health, etc.

I guess in real Chopped world, I'd get points for the shroom sauce but I think they'd be underwhelmed with my lack of 'transforming' the veggie balls.  Eh- I did okaaay with them.  Its HARD to transform ingredients.  They also have a huge advantage with their expansive pantry.  Anywho, it was really fun.  I felt challenged and we were satisfied.  T had seconds and cleared his plate twice.  Woo hoo!

Oh, and in lieu of $10,000 or brownies, I was taken to Target and this happened:

Monday, March 19, 2012


Well, my brother & sister-in-law getting sidewalk chalk was totally worth the wait.  Even if they did buy it for the kids...

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Red Dresses.

Almost every child goes through some kind of obsession. Princesses, cars, Elmo, purple... Mine, was red dresses.  I don't know when it started and I don't know WHY it started, but 5-6 year old Laura was red-dress obsessed. 

I wouldn't take a book out of the library unless it had a girl, (or creature) sporting a red dress.  Every single thing I drew got a red dress slapped on and looked something like this... 

Note: No arms.  Red dress. | Even animals wear red dresses.

I'm not even sure I owned one, but everything in my imagination got the red dress treatment.  Other colors just wouldn't cut it.  Yellow?  No thanks.  Pink?  Close, but no.  

If Olivia were around when I was little, you can bet she would have been my ALL TIME favorite character.  Anyway, I had to give THIS BLOG POST a shout today.  Turns out, adult Laura still has a soft spot for the red dress.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

If they make it....

Well, if by chance this years Bachelor and his sassy-pants fiancee actually make it, this is what I anticipate the future looking like for them...

Thursday, March 8, 2012

You... Have [not] been Chopped!

Hi!  So, as promised, here is Part 1 of 2 on the CaraGusa CHOPPED night.
Background: As avid Chopped watchers, we decided this could totally be adapted to a home-game version.  We'd flip a coin to see who would cook first versus shop first.  If you don't know the gist of Chopped, you can check it out here.

I'll still sum up in a sentence or two.  You get a basket of 4 challenging ingredients and you have to make a course of a meal with them, plus pre-stocked pantry items.  We decided to just stick to the entrĂ©e portion for the at home version. 

I went to the grocery store at lunch to get the ingredients.  I knew going in that I wanted jumbo shrimp and golden raisins.  Those two were easy.  I got the shrimp cleaned and deveined (because I'm not mean!) and the raisins were no sweat.  The hard part was produce.  I went in wanting parsnips or as a backup, white asparagus.  A&P had neither!  I saw this large green grapefruit looking thing (called a Pumello) and eventually decided that would totally work and also possessed the 'What the heck is that?!' factor that Chopped is known for.   Last item for the basket came from the junk food aisle: Pork rinds!! Something that neither of us had ever even tried before.
The Chef with his basket
So, after throwing a pan of brownies in the oven (in lieu of $10,000) and setting up the kitchen, T got to work.    He seemed surprised/delighted at the bizarre looking pumello and mind reader that he is, said he thought I'd get shrimp.   The pumello was the 1st thing to get inspected and he quicky made a marinade for the shrimp with it.  Pantry items like: frozen cauliflower, a shallot, a can of white beans  and a flour tortilla were utilized.  I was SURE he was going to crush the pork rinds down and bread the shrimp in them (a classic Chopped move) but no!  They got mixed with the beans and blended into a delicious hummus-like dip. 
Le Basket: Pumello, Pork rinds, 1/2 lb. Jumbo Shrimp & golden raisins

Chef T at work
The raisins got combined with the shallot and cauliflower, oiled and seasoned and thrown in the oven to roast.  Let me tell you- THIS WAS AWESOME. Try it.
By the way- he was cooking for like half an hour before oil came out.  I was sitting there wondering if he was ever going to use any oil! The shrimp got a quick sautee near the end. 

I think the best surprise came in the form of a cocktail!!!  Chef T actually had a Iron Chef worthy moment when he was slamming ice cubes in a ziplock bag with a hammer. (How did I miss that photo op?!)   :)  Anyway, The juice of 1/2 a Pumello + JD Honey Whiskey+ gingerale, shaken with ice.  So, so good.  I was so impressed he made a cocktail.

Pomello juice, Gingerale & JD Honey Whiskey

Probably should be mentioned that we decided to remove some of the pressure and didn’t time things.  It took about an hour all told.  Plating was quick and simple and it was time to eat.  Really, every single thing was delicious.   My beginner-chef fiancee REALLY did himself proud.  This was so much fun and we can't wait to do it again!

Before- and AFTER!

My pretties...

Saw these at Payless.

Stewing with this pic for a while.  Luckily they were like $8!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Daily Pic | Feb. Edition

One year ago, we had a St.Patti's day party @ work and I decided to mark the occasion by posing for apple's program Photo Booth with my margarita glass.  Now, you may be thinking two things.  Where is this going and what do margaritas have to do with St.Patti's?  I can't answer the 2nd part of that other than my company just loves booze.  The 1st part: Well, it became a fun thing and I decided to do it daily.  So, even though I've never shared one before, behold!  Feb.2012's daily pix.

While this seems like one of the more self-absorbed things a human can do, photo-diaries are actually pretty fun ;)

Oh and use this link to make the mosaic.  I make one at the end of each month.  You just have to sign up but the program is free.  Tedious, but free!

Friday, March 2, 2012

A Q & A

A total rip from this blog.

If not in NJ, I would live in....Portland ME, or somewhere out west. 

My dream holiday would be to...
Take a tour throughout all of California.  Top to bottom; coast to inland.  Redwood forests, vineyards, city, coastal cliffs, all of it; for as long as it takes to see it all.

My current obsessions are..
Food: Jelly Beans, Nature Valley Granola thins, Rice Dream.

Music: LCD Soundsystem, The Kills, Beach House, Chairlift, Fleet Foxes.

Fashion: Arrow patterns, blousy silk tops with skinny jeans, awesome cardigans, scrunch ballet flats, petite gold jewelry.

Retail Store(s): West Elm, Anthro, Urban, TJ Maxx.

I channel my childhood self when I...
See/Use sidewalk chalk, play dough, crayons, kitty kitchen food…

The fictional character I most relate to is....Daria Morgendorfer or Elaine Bennes. 

If I had to be outdoors all day I would.... Probably have 95% less stress, be 70% healthier and invest in clothing to best endure whatever the elements.

My favorite quality in a man is.... Three-way tie: Intelligence, thoughtfulness and humor.  

My favorite quality in a woman is.... Realism.

I'm terrified of... The open seas.

My dream car is a... Something really really fast.

My cocktail of choice is... [very] Dirty martini

My celebrity crush is.... Bill Murray

My beauty products of choice are.... Bobbi Brown 'Sepia' gel eyeliner, Maybeline dream bouncy blush in Hot Tamale, Great Last blackest black.

My friends and I like to...

If I could go back in time for one decade it would be.... The '50s.  My patriotic self would love it.

As a teenager I was totally into... Delia*s (this has not changed), The WB, Felicity, Art, Music, Key Club, and sporting thick bangs.

I tend to splurge on... Snacks, music and things for the home


I met my first soulmate in Aug of 2007.  It wasn’t until our first official date in July 2009 that I knew he was my soulmate though.  So, it took me 24 years to meet my soulmate.

I met my other soulmate on January 20, 2012.  Little did I know, that they had performed their last-ever show a year earlier and the stint of their whole career was only 10 years.  I had completely missed out on it, but nevertheless, LCD Soundsystem is truly my musical soulmate.  And it took me 27 years to find them.
Good things are so worth waiting for.

It would be so Nicholas Sparks-ish if I had met my man soulmate one year after his career-ended and all I could do was wonder what could have been if he just put a few more years in.  Sigh….
Well, I'm extremely grateful that I have the man soulmate for all time to come, and to LCD Soundsystem: Please reconsider not touring or making music anymore.  Please.