Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Easy as Pie... Pumpkin Puree

With Thanksgiving just 2 days away, I started prepping for my Pumpkin Pie last night. I made ginger snap cookies to use for the crust and homemade pumpkin puree. I did a side-by-side comparison of canned organic pumpkin vs. homemade puree last year, and that was all it took to convince me to never use canned pumpkin again! After you see how easy it is to make, and how much better your pie turns out, I'm sure you'll also adopt this policy!

First, get a 4-6lb sugar-pie pumpkin, and wash the exterior.
Preheat your over to 400.

Cut the stem off your pumpkin, and then cut your pumpkin in 1/2, 
and scoop out the seeds/mush. 
Save the seeds to roast later for a delicious snack.

Next, sprinkle the pumpkin flesh with Kosher salt
 to draw out the excess water

Then, place them flesh side down on a parchment lined pan and roast at 400 for 30-45min 

They are done when you can easily pierce through the skin with a paring knife.
 Poke the pumpkin in multiple places to make sure it's done.

Place the pan on a cooling rack and cool pumpkin for 1 hour.

Next, peel the skin away from the flesh, and place the flesh into a food processor

Then Puree for 3-4 minutes until completely smooth.

Store your puree in the fridge for up to 1 week, 
or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

I will probably make this pie Wednesday evening, so I will post the complete how-to for this amazing pumpkin pie then.


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Follow-up: When Your Nice Things Get Ruined...

A few weeks ago, I posted this blog  about the problem with having nice things- they inevitably get ruined. Well, it happened... our puppy had an accident on our new couch, smack dab in the middle of the cushion. 

Unexpectedly, my husband did not freak like I thought he would, (YAY!) probably because Stewie, our Yorkie, can pretty much do no wrong. In Stewie's defense, he was recovering from a UTI (Urinary Tract Infection), and certainly did not mean to have an accident.

Ok, so your BRAND NEW couch has been soiled. What next? I decided to read the directions attached to the label under the cushion:

  • Even though these cushion covers have a zipper, they should never be removed for the purpose of washing.
  • When trying to clean a spill, blot, don't rub with water only.
Seriously? While my husband is banishing Stewie to his crate in the garage, I take in a deep breath and remove the cushion. It says not to wash it, but I have to do something! First, I do as they say and try blotting with a clean rag, wet with water. It's not working.... I decided that, at this point, it's already "ruined", so I might as well try some cleaner. First, I put a clean white towel into the cushion cover, so that my spray wouldn't bleed through to the good side. Then, I got out my trusty Spot Shot. I lightly sprayed the spot, and started "blotting", not rubbing with a ShamWOW . After a few minutes, it looked much better, just wet from the spray. I had some errands to do, so I left it to dry. A few hours later when I returned, it was dry and looked good-as-new again! Literally, you couldn't see anything wrong with it. I was AMAZED and so thankful!

I've been using these products religiously for all of my carpet stains for about the last 4 years, but I never expected them to work this well on my brand new upholstered couch. So, if you have a Pottery Barn, brushed canvas, upholstered couch, and it gets "ruined" don't freak out! Try SpotShot and a ShamWow. 

FYI, I was recently at my local PotteryBarn looking for some pillows to help my couch not blend in so much to our unpainted walls :) and the store associate in their design department told me that the upholstery material is the same as their slipcovers, which are machine washable. She said that she had washed her cushion covers, and they came out fine. However, she did suggest that you wash all of them, even if only one is ruined,  because they will fade slightly. I think I'll continue to stick to the method I described above, and only if that fails, try washing them.

Here are some pictures from our new living room. I still need to paint, or at least get some paintings hung on the wall, and find some lamps, but it's finally starting to feel like home! And, it's been a sanctuary for the few hours my husband gets to be there.

 I'll post more pictures as I continue to "finish" this room.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Filling up my LOVE tank!

Hello friends! It's good to be back! I took a break from blogging last month so that I could work on filling up my LOVE tank.

My husband was on an "easy" rotation, meaning, that for the most part he was working the same 9-5 workday as me. It was wonderful having so much free time together, and since we knew that the next 4 months were going to be very difficult, we made it a priority to put our relationship first. We had leisurely walks with our dog, lengthy conversations over mugs of hot tea, lazy days making homemade pasta, and we tried out a few French dishes from our new favorite Cooking Channel show, "French Food at Home".

Monday marked my husband's first day of his Neurosurgery rotation. He left our house at 4:30am and didn't get home till 10:30pm. He ate the vichyssoise and crostini that I had ready for him, went to bed, and did it all over again the next day. This will be our life 6 days a week for the next 4 months. Technically, this will be our life for the next 6.5 years, but intern year is always the worst. 

As we were preparing for this crazy schedule, I asked him if there was anything in particular I could do to make his life a little easier. He said that he'd love for me to get up with him at 4am and make his breakfast every morning. I believe I honestly laughed out loud, and gave him the "you're kidding right?" look. I don't really do mornings... If I wake up before 7, I'll typically feel nauseous and sluggish, regardless of what time I went to bed. However, I decided to pray about it, and when Monday rolled around, I got up with him, made his tea, and prepared his breakfast and lunch. After realizing that he would be working 17 hour days, I decided that if I can allow him to get an extra 15 minutes of sleep by helping him out in the morning, it was the least I could do. Today was the 3rd day in a row that I got up with him and I'm surprised at how easy it's been to adjust to this new schedule. I have to admit that I have been going right back to bed after he leaves, but I think that next week I will try to stay up and get my day started early. This morning he leaned over to kiss me and said, "You have no idea how much I appreciate this". That definitely made my sacrifice worth it! :)

I'm so thankful that my husband and I were able to spend so much time together filling up our love tank as we anticipated the difficult times ahead. It's always good to be on a "love high" when dealing with stress.  I suppose difficult times typically come out of nowhere and take us by surprise- In that case, we should be constantly working to fill our love tanks so that our relationships are strong enough to withstand anything that comes our way. Just like gas prices, the cost of filling up your love tank can be very high in today's non-stop lifestyle. 

So, find a spare moment and do something nice for your honey today:
  • leave a love note in their car or lunch
  • get up early and make them a special breakfast
  • make them their favorite dinner
  • take a "coffee break" together
  • go for a leisurely walk after dinner
  • give them a back rub as they fall asleep
  • say a prayer for them

How do you prepare for relationship-straining times? Is your LOVE tank full or empty? What can you do to keep it full?

Prayers for full LOVE tanks!