December 18, 2009

My First Yarn Wreath

We needed a wreath to put on the front door. After a bit of research, I was inspired to make a yarn wreath, complete with felt flowers. Step 1 was quite simple. I wrapped by straw wreath form in batting which I secured in place with quilting needles.


Step 2 was equally simple - though perhaps a test of my patience. I wrapped the batted wreath form in my "base color" yarn, tied a few knots and secured it in place with quilting needles. Step 3 was accessorizing. I added a set of brown stripes and a thick green one; then a bouquet of felt flowers. I was sure to make a complete mess of my work space.



After playing around with various ornaments and flower types, I ending up sticking with a pretty simple design.


The completed wreath looks pretty fab on the door- that fabulousness seems to not be photogenic. But alas, I like my wreath and have already come up with many reasons to make some more: Clemson football, baby showers, etc.


December 9, 2009

Betty Girl

RIP Betty Girl 2005-2009

Betty {aka. Betty Girl, Lil' Donner, Donnie} was put down today. Betty belonged to my mom and her fiancé. After a mysterious 2 month health struggle and multiple doctors visits, it was discovered that she had an inoperable brain tumor. The tumor compromised much of her health but none of her spirit. Her life was only a short four years but she was overjoyed to live them. Betty was a huge Boston terrier that thought of herself as a lapdog. She followed Toby {aka. Scratchy, Scratchers} around and lounged on the couch. She loved licking ice cream and oatmeal bowls. Before she passed, Betty made sure to leave a lasting impression on our hearts and the couch pillows, where she spent so much of her time.



December 6, 2009

13.1

Yesterday I ran a half marathon. St.Jude hosts a marathon weekend every December that includes a 5k, half, and full marathon. Having run a good number of 5k races I decided it was time to take on a bit more distance. I knew that in order to finish the race it would be in my best interest to train. So, I made a nice schedule that I {for a few days} was determined to follow. Unfortunately, at best my training was sub-par at worst it was nonexistent; however, I made it. I ran all 13.1 miles and finished with a time of 2:25:35 which isn't too shabby for being ill prepared. I kept reminding myself that Isaiah 40:30-31 says: Even youths shall faint and be weary,and young men shall fall exhausted;but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary;they shall walk and not faint. Those verses along with the thousands of people cheering along side the race course helped me push through without any significant injury or pain.

Speaking of the people cheering the runners on, I think it is very important to applaud their creativity. Many of the men and women along the sides were holding signs. Some of my favorites were:
  • Mile 3: If it were easy, I'd be doing it.
  • Mile 5: Blisters don't need chemo! {This was on the St.Jude campus}
  • Mile 10: Run like you are being chased.
  • Mile 12: Don't stop now...People are watching.
When we got in the car yesterday morning the thermostat read 29 F, that fell to 26 F by the time we reached downtown.

Did I mention this is a huge race? 15,500 people participated.

From about mile 7 on the only thing I wanted was a Starbucks mocha.Of course, a Starbucks mocha was not available right after the race so I settled for a Diet Coke and some chocolate milk.

My race bling.


November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving (A Quick Recap)

This year for Thanksgiving Peter and I committed to staying in Memphis; after years of traveling and battling holiday traffic, we wanted a break. In turn, we offered to host. Last Tuesday Peter's parents, his sister Lisa, and her pup Bailey joined us in Memphis for Thanksgiving.

Here are the highlights: Wednesday we did some prep work for the meal. Thursday morning we participated in the Turkey Trot and Turkey Leg Relay (during which we got to run/walk with an actual turkey leg that was handed off as the baton). Later in the day we hung out and finished preparations before a few more of our friends joined our group for dinner. {Black} Friday we were sure to run by a few stores before heading to the local movie theater. Saturday, after breakfast at Panera, the Slatons headed back to GA and Peter and I watched the Clemson vs. Carolina game. Below are a few pictures from the holiday.

Our guests eagerly awaiting dinner.
A delicious warm brie, spicy mango, and bacon appetizer.

Thrifty & Festive Tablescape #1

Thrifty & Festive Tablescape #2

One of the delicious homemade pies Lisa created.

Evidence of a great meal.

November 23, 2009

I Love Uniforms

I loved wearing a uniform during middle and upper school. Each morning I'd wake up and grab a white polo and green skirt and run out the door. I loved the mindlessness and ease of a uniform. While I was teaching at Southside, I opted to dress in a uniform as well. I bought 5 collared shirts embroidered with the school emblem and my name which I paired with chinos. This was not only a simple outfit but I didn't care if I got marker, pencil, pen, or chocolate milk on me. {One unfortunate morning last year a full carton of chocolate milk was "accidentally" thrown at me. Of course this was before I'd adopted a basic uniform and the milk got all over a lovely wool coat that I was wearing for the first time}.


A few weeks ago I began working for Mission Graduation within Streets Ministries. Let me first say I love my new job! It is fabulous in ways that I had a forgotten a job could be. My coworkers are great, the students are wonderful, and it is the perfect combination of Christ-centered, education-focused ministry. But, like so many jobs there is no uniform but rather, a dress code. The rules of the dress code are very simple: closed toed shoes and a collared shirt. In true Parker fashion, I have taken to the dress code by adopting a simple uniform: skinny pants, button down shirt, black or white tank, accessorized with a scarf, vest, belt, jewelry and/or purse.

November 22, 2009

Quinoa and Black Beans

After last Sunday's unfortunate food incident, I was hesitant to get back on schedule for Slow Cooker Sunday. Thus, in the form of a true pantry scavenger I opened the pantry doors this evening and thought, "What to make?" The pantry is currently packed full with items I've been stocking up for Thanksgiving and unfortunately nothing was really jumping out at me. When I spotted our 4 lb. bag of quinoa I could hear Minx whisper "Use it!"- she's been on a quinoa kick recently. I opted for a meatless main {from All Recipes} which I altered ever so slightly. Peter and I dressed up our dinner with sour cream, salsa, and cheese. Enjoy!

Ingredients

1 teaspoon vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
1 can vegetable broth
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2-3 shakes cayenne pepper
1-2 shakes Hot Shot
1-2 shakes Mixed-Up Salt
1 can sweet corn kernels
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

Directions

1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the onion and garlic, and saute until lightly browned.
2. Mix quinoa into the saucepan and cover with vegetable broth. Season with cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes. { While that is simmering, send your husband to the grocery store to pick up some shredded Cheddar cheese.}
3. Stir in corn and black beans and let it simmer for 5 minutes {or until your husband returns, which ever comes first}.

10 servings.

Home Tour: Matt & Erin


Our dear friends Matt and Erin were featured in today's Commercial Appeal in an article titled My New Home: House near Poplar, Highland is city-suburbia compromise for newlyweds. They bought a house in Highland earlier this year and have spent a good amount of time making it adorable without making any major cosmetic changes. We're frequently over at their house since we all cheer for Clemson, enjoy watching glee and love eating Erin's food {don't let the clean kitchen picture fool you, Erin is a whiz in the kitchen}. The pictures below are from the paper.

November 20, 2009

Gnocchi

Last night's dinner was extremely simple and even more flavorful. The sauce would make a wonderful topping on any pasta. With the temperature starting to drop, I've been in the mood for a hearty meal. Gnocchi is hearty enough to fill you up but not so heavy you feel stuffed. Peter had the leftovers for lunch and said they were great (and I'm pretty sure made a few of his coworkers jealous).

Ingredients

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 can (28 ounces) whole plum tomatoes with juice, crushed by hand
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) tomato sauce
2 sprigs basil
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
Gnocchi
Thinly shaved parmesan cheese, for serving

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add wine; cook until most liquid has evaporated. Add tomatoes and juice, tomato sauce, basil, and red pepper flakes. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer until slightly thick, about 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat; cover to keep warm.
  2. Bring a large pot water to a boil; add 1 tablespoon salt. Add half of the gnocchi; when they rise to the top (after about 2 minutes), continue to cook until tender, about 15 seconds more. Transfer gnocchi with a slotted spoon to pan with sauce. Repeat process with remaining gnocchi.
  3. Reheat gnocchi over low heat; gently toss. Serve with cheese shavings. (Serves 6)

November 13, 2009

Pantry Scavenger Or Not...

According to our meal schedule, I was supposed to make pizza last night. I have all the ingredients in the fridge but for some reason was not in the mood to make a pizza. Sometimes I just want take out. Every once in awhile I will get a taste for a specific meal from a specific restaurant. Last night, that meal was the California Pita and fries from Young Avenue Deli. Not only did I want the fries but I wanted them covered with with lots of apple cider vinegar and ketchup. I hope that you have tried this combo because it is fabulous. If you live in the Memphis area and have not been to Young Ave Deli you are certainly missing out.

November 10, 2009

Salvage Yard #2 (aka A Needle in a Haystack)

A few weeks ago, my car failed to start. After much discussion and investigation we realized the problem was the starter. We are very blessed to have not one, but two neighbors, that are very handy and generous with their time and skills. We went to AutoZone and bought a rebuilt starter for $125 which our neighbor installed free of charge. This saved us at least a few hundred dollars.

Of course, this is not where the story ends. A week later, as Peter was driving my car home- in the rain- the wipers stopped working. After a bit of investigation the problem was easily identified. The wiper arm linkage had snapped and unfortunately was beyond repair. Our local autoparts stores do not carry the item and the dealer will charge us $220 for the part alone. We turned to Ebay and found one for $50. But were still hoping to find a better deal. After a few phone calls we learned that the salvage yards only charge $6 for the part- if you can find one.

Peter ventured to one salvage yard alone but to no avail. On Saturday we headed to yard number two. Entering the premises we realized the admissions fee was $2 so we fumbled through our wallets to find $4. To our surprise, when we approached the ticket lady she informed that only Peter would be charged admission. I suppose my lack of tools and outfit let her know that I would not be salvaging any parts. I did help to identify Acura's and Honda's which I seem to have an eye for. Unfortunately, after tearing apart 6 cars we were still left searching for a matching part. We found wiper arm linkages that were too short, too long, and oddly shaped. We did not find what we were looking for. So, if you have a spare wiper arm linkage that you'd like to sell for a '99-'02 Acura TL we'll take it. But, since we're already $2 invested in this project, our best offer is $4.


Also, on an unrelated note: Last weekend we attended a party at the Molly Fontaine Lounge for a dear friend who was celebrating her birthday. Molly Fontaine's is probably the coolest place in Memphis- and they know it. But, who cares? If you haven't been you really should visit.

November 3, 2009

The Dogs

November 1st our dogs' celebrated their birthdays. Gunther turned two and Lily turned one. Isn't it fun they have the same birthday? As mentioned on Minx, the pups had their friend Gizmeaux over to celebrate. In honor of their birthday, here are some pictures.

Typical Gunther.

Typical Lily.

Favorite Positions on the Couch.


6:30am
(Peter took this picture while the dogs and I were sleeping. The light was off)

October 29, 2009

Festive Pumpkins

Sometimes I just don't feel like carving a pumpkin. I'd much rather play with spray paint and tape. Since my Punk-O-Rama entry is due on Saturday I figured I would get a jump start. After seeing a post on happy mundane, I decided to recreate the painted pumpkin and then play with some stickers for the larger pumpkin. Actually, in an effort to create a display that can last into the month of November, one side of the large pumpkin says "Trick or Treat" and the other "Give Thanks." I figure I can just rotate the pumpkin on Sunday.

October 27, 2009

Vistors!

"We LOVE Memphis" - Mom

It appears to me that there are two kinds of visitors: those with preconceived notions of Memphis and those without. I love the latter group. Peter and I have grown very fond of our current hometown and we like to share this affection with our visitors. Last weekend Mom and Rodney came to visit. The timing was great with River Arts Fest in South Main and beautiful weather. As expected, we did a bit of culinary exploring while they were in town as well as a bit of shopping.

First thing on Friday, we made sure to hit Central BBQ which is a must as far as Rodney is concerned. (Granted- Peter and I were not complaining as it is the best barbecue in town in our book). After lunch Peter and Rodney ventured to the Stax museum while Mom and I did a bit of shopping. Saturday we made our way down to the River Arts Fest then the Mississippi. On the recommendation of a dear friend we went to Petra for dinner on Saturday night. Simply put it was amazing. I cannot believe it has taken Peter and I three years to get to there. Beauty Shop for dessert was also pretty fab. I've got a couple of pictures below- not the best quality since I was toting our point-and-shoot rather then the decent camera.

Our vistors.

The Hakuna Matata fish at Flying Fish.

A very cool couple of doors I fully intend on revisiting with a nicer camera.

Bi Bim Bop at Petra. Yum.

Me at Beauty Shop- with a tan.

Creamed Chipped Beef

Since moving South, I have found there are only a few foods that I cannot buy regionally: UTZ chips, Rapa scrapple, Esskay products, Berger Cookies. It's when I get a craving for one of these foods that I start to wish I had a Giant I could run to. Instead, I head to the local grocers. Believe me when I say I am serious about my cravings. Without hesitation I will go from one grocery to the next. Last night, my search for Esskay Chipped Beef meant bouncing to four different stores. Ultimately, I ended up buying Amour Dried Beef.

The Dried Beef wound up being a suitable alternative. I sliced the beef, cooked it in some butter and Worcestershire then added a bit of pepper for flavor. While that was cooking, in a separate saucepan, I mixed 3 tablespoons of melted butter with 3 tablespoons of flour. I whisked the two creating a roux. I added a cup and a half of milk and continued whisking. Once that had thickened I added the beef and a bit more Worcestershire then I put some bread in the toaster.

All in all dinner was pretty great. All of the ingredients, save the dried beef, were in my pantry (or fridge) and fortunately the dried beef only cost $1.83. *For those of you wondering: Yes, it tastes much better than it looks!


October 26, 2009

Bedroom Blues

Blue and I have a long history together. In choosing a color scheme for our bedroom Peter and I opted for blues, grays, and orange. Seeing as how we are in the very early stages of our design process, Step 1 was to paint the walls. Peter is quite skilled with painting, and for that matter sanding, taping, and cutting in. So, one Saturday while I was babysitting Peter agreed to paint the room. Like I said, I was babysitting all day, when my blue-green deficient husband went to work painting our room. (Note: Blue-green deficient means Peter has a hard time distinguishing shades of blues and greens.) 10 hours later, when I got home from babysitting, the room was 3/4 painted and fully cut in. The work was impeccable. All the walls were flawless and smooth; unfortunately, the color was off. Peter mentioned that after painting two walls he thought the color may be wrong but figured he was just seeing it incorrectly. The room looked more like a nursery than a master.

The next day I headed to Lowe's to pick out a better shade of blue. My dear husband willingly repainted the room a lighter, hopefully more sophisticated, shade. The picture above shows the color our room used to be, the wrong blue, and in top left corner, the correct blue.

October 21, 2009

I'm Curious....

What time do you eat dinner?

Frequently, I find that Peter and I are eating dinner at 9:15, 9:45 and even after 10:00. It isn't intentional, we just don't let dinner get in the way of our other plans. When Peter gets home from work we treasure the precious daylight to walk the dogs or go for a run. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights we have standing plans that begin at 6:00 or 7:00 and don't end until after 8:00 or 9:00. The time required to make a healthy meal is often what sets us up for late night eating. Currently, I am waiting for our chicken to cook; our veggies are done, but the chicken needs another 15 minutes. Looks like we're headed for our third dinner this week after 10:00.

So again I ask, what time do you eat dinner? Feel free to post answers below.

September 23, 2009

Clemson Reunion

Last weekend, for the first time since my graduation, Peter and I went back to Clemson. For 22 hours. Why so short? Logistics and dogs. We started planning for a 2nd Girls Reunion back in June. The consensus was to meet up in Clemson for a football game and to let the guys come along. After comparing schedules the TCU game won out. I was psyched, especially since I had to miss out last year. It rained for the entire second half and beyond. But fear not, because, for the first time in years, Peter and I were prepared for the weather. The weekend was super quick but it was a blast. Next year, we fully intend on take Friday off.