Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Big hair, big dreams

I've been on the hunt for a good dry shampoo for about a year now. I've tried a few different kinds, but none really met my exacting standards of perfect hair and total laziness. My sister has a nose for these types of things and has refused to leave the house without teasing her hair since she was about 15.

She directed me to Walgreens and said a seriously old-man looking product, Psst, would make my dry shampoo dreams come true.

I picked some up yesterday when I happened to be at Walgreens picking up a dozen Cadbury eggs and a pack of Sweet Tart gummy bunnies (another product stamped with the Alexson Seal of Approval) envelopes. When I first saw the packaging, I'll admit it - I was scared. Is the perfect hair product really lurking behind this 70s shaving cream exterior?

Turns out, yes. I sprayed my roots and brushed them out then waltzed into the kitchen to declare that I would never shower again (my chronic exaggerations are part of my charm - I showered this morning). It was that good.

Not only that, but when I woke up this morning, my Psst-ed hair was HUGE. It had fluffed overnight and not in that uglybedhead way. In a luxe, symmetrical way. I was sad to have to pull it into a ponytail for the gym. Heartbroken. I longed for the weekend when I could Psst at night and share my oversized, bubbly hair with the world.

Sheesh. An original recipe and beauty advice? Whose blog is this?

Monday, March 29, 2010


Ooo, girls (and dudes?).

Milestone day: first milkshake of the season!

It’s a ceremonial event in my world. Milkshakes were born to be enjoyed on breezy days with big sunglasses and thumping tunes.

Granted, I enjoyed my first milkshake of 2010 rushing back to work after lunch (but! with the windows down) and listening to classical music – after all, I’m a mature woman in her late twenties now. I did nail the big sunglasses, though, thanks to a small weekend indulgence at Old Navy.

In other news, make these. I whipped some up this weekend and hubs and I scarfed down half of the poor little crackers in 45 minutes.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Open for business

Happy Hour Homemakers is open for business!

Brittney and I have long talked about sharing our awesomeness with the world via Etsy and it's finally a reality. I'm the VP of Swizzles and Scarves while Brittney is our COA - Chief Officer of Aprons.

We're so excited to start our online shop and we've already got plans to add more products this summer. Check it out!

Friday, March 26, 2010


What does a highly weird, newly minted 27 year old do for her birthday weekend, you probably wonder. Allow me to shed some light:
  • She takes the Friday before the Sunday birfday off work. Naturally.
  • She spends that Friday throwing herself a solo party dubbed the Sip and Shine. Other party guests include a bottle of leftover wedding champagne, a carpet shampooer, a toothbrush, some dirty shower grout and obnoxious 90s music.
  • She eats a lot of cheese.
  • She watches Wet Hot American Summer.
  • She reminds everyone that in the Lou, the weather is almost always sunny and 70 with leaves on trees this time of year.
  • She goes out for brunch with her husband and sticks to the weekend diet of bubbly and cheese.
  • She opens presents!
  • She shares this birthday with two musically talented ladies:
  • That's Reba and Lady GaGa, duh.
  • She plans to gets a little rowdy at a Willie Nelson concert. However, these plans get thwarted.
  • She pouts for a few minutes.
  • She instead celebrates by shopping for fancy salts and having a beer in the afternoon.

See you all Monday!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

One Thing Thursdays: Gulf Shores, Alabama

My people are beach-vacationing people. The kind who rent condos and houses and fill them to the brim with floaties and family, friends and frosty beverages. The kind who build ramshackle beach camps with three gazebos, four umbrellas, a beat up boom box and an upside down styrofoam sailboat. The kind who can easily spend a full week not once getting up out of a beach chair, except to go out to dinner.

Gulf Shores is good for people like mine.

My one thing to do in Gulf Shores: Get crab claws at Sea n Suds.

Not from Sea n Suds, from another place. Sorry, I didn't have pictures!

Sea n Suds is exactly the restaurant you expect to find on a pier in southern Alabama (actually, it reminds me a lot of the Crab Shack on Tybee) - kind of junky in a purposeful way. But, you're not their for the predictable decor. No, friend, you are there for crab claws. I have no idea if they are fresh and I don't care, either (I think they are, though because they are market price). They. Are. Good. Battered and fried, these simple little crab claws even please people who don't like seafood.

If you have time for two things, rent a sailboat in the bay. Stop by the grocery store and get some fresh shrimp to snack on and cruise off into the sunset.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Signs I Might Be Crazy, Installment Four

Sometimes, my logic just isn’t logical. For example, this week, I’m restocking my contact supply. Therefore, spring is officially here.

My annual eye exams/contact replenishment is always in the spring, so I can’t help but tie these things together. Do you ever keep track of time by medical appointments? I’m at the dentist, so I need to buy little Billy’s birthday present? Flu shot time, so I should start thinking about the Thanksgiving menu? Annual lady exam means it’s time to buy sunscreen?



Monday, March 22, 2010

Tahini-less hummus

I’ve been making hummus for my brown bag lunches for about a year. Typically, this involved me cracking open a can of garbanzo beans and tossing that in the food processor with some olive oil, salt, pepper and siracha. While tasty, the result was a little dry. I stubbornly refused to buy tahini – the sesame seed paste that gives real hummus it’s velvety texture.


Um, tahini is $7 a jar and I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Some food is worth extra money – ground up sesame seeds are not.

So, I hid my sub-par (but tasty) hummus from the world and chowed down behind magazines and knitting at lunch. The shame was too much to bear.

So, when I got the hankering for hummus yesterday, I decided to try something new. We had just gone grocery shopping and scored a good deal on red peppers. Roasted red pepper hummus sounded perfect! I think the water from the pepper, combined with another new ingredient (lime juice) helped whip my hummus into shape. This batch was silky, smooth and spicy. Perfect for cheapskates like myself. Please take the fact that there is no photographical evidence of this hummus as proof that it is amazingly tasty. It doesn’t last long.


1 red pepper (or a half a jar of roasted red peppers)

1 can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

½ cup of olive oil (give or take)

¼ cup lime juice

1 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 tablespoon fresh ground pepper

1 teaspoon shallot salt (or garlic salt or celery salt – whatever)

Roast the red pepper in the oven at 375 for about a half hour. Peel the skin and de-seed.
Put all ingredients in the food processor and turn on high for 3-5 minutes.
Eat with chips. YUM.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Bumbling ball of summer-ready

In my mind, my birthday signals the real start of spring. I remember growing up, it seemed like my birthday was always sunny and 72 and involved lots of trees with full-blown leaves. With the happy occasion coming up in two weeks and nary a leaf nor a bud on any tree within 100 miles of DeMo, I’m a little disappointed. Last year, it had the audacity to snow on my big day. Unappreciated. It’s not looking quite that bad, we’ve hit 60 a few times and we even opened our windows Sunday to air the old homestead out.

But, I’m dreaming of more. For Mother Nature’s convenience, I have listed out my late spring/summertime demands:

  • An entire day spent in my redneck inflatable swimming pool with good mellow music, hubs and a smattering of cold beverages.
  • An after dinner bike ride to get ice cream at Snookie’s.
  • Morning runs.
  • Float trips with sunburns, snacks, pups and hippies.
  • Naps on my couch with the windows open.
  • Watching my now-seeds, plants-to-be Moonflowers open up at dusk.
  • Bonfires and tank tops at night.
  • Bocce tournaments.
  • Snacking on homegrown cherry tomatoes.
  • Fried zucchini.
  • Bunches of flowers from the Farmer’s Market.
  • Eating on patios, both mine and those of restaurants.
  • The smell of fresh cut grass.
  • Sweating outside of the gym.
  • Demo-ing the old deck with a ragtag group of friendly volunteers.
  • Barefootedness.
  • Movie night in the backyard.
  • Cats that look like this.

What are your seasonal demands?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

One Thing Thursdays: I-76 in Colorado

Last summer, hubs and I loaded up the car for an eleven hour drive to see one of my very favorite ladies get married on a mountain in Golden, Colorado.

It was hubs' and my first trip to the great state and my first road trip west of Omaha. As a newbie, I failed to realize how vast western Nebraska and eastern Colorado really are. Failed miserably. The exits are seriously 50 to 75 miles apart. How a gal is supposed to chug Diet Cokes to maintain proper alertness in these conditions is beyond me.

Anyway, if you ever find yourself speeding down I-76, desperately considering utilizing the privacy of some prairie grass instead of a powder room, exit at US-6 (exit 125) and head toward Sterling. Find the J & L Cafe and freshen up as needed. Then, plop down at the counter (next to a leathery old cowboy, if you can find one - shouldn't be too hard) and order a club sandwich. It's the best one you'll ever have and you really can't beat a small town diner complete with waitresses who call you Sugar and ancient cowboys with dirty fingernails.

Since we only made a pit stop in Sterling, I don't have a second thing for you to try there (I'm not even sure there is a second option unless you want to swing by a Sunday service). But, a good thing to do while driving on I-76 is to stock up on peach rings and orange slices at the nearest gas station and turn the radio up while you try to imagine what the heck it's like to live so far out in the middle of all these pastures.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Baker's woman

So, I rarely bake sweet things. There was a slightly traumatizing cookie exchange incident that ruined me for life. Someday, when my wounds have fully healed, I’ll share more about the gray cookies I made and actually presented to others.

It was awful, but I made my way back to the Kitchenaid and pulled myself up by my bootstraps in the name of beer-infused cupcakes.

First, I had to prepare my area:
Leftover wedding wine was a must.

As was this adorable ruffly apron Brittney made (the girl knows her way around a sewing machine!) for me. Rumor has it, these puppies are about to land in an Etsy store so that you may also look so ravishing whilst you bake. (The bunny slippers and sassypantsfashionface are my own contributions to this stunning look).

I used this recipe, but substituted Young’s Chocolate Stout for the Guinness. They were lovely. And they were devoured.

I also had this lovely floral arrangement, sitting prettily on the dining room table to greet guests.

But, it was promptly eaten by this cat, whom I was able to capture perfectly in this hideous photo.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

What has become of us?

Our Christmas lights are still up.
My mother accused me of slipping into dangerously redneck waters, even.
It's not all bad, though.
We unplugged them on January 1, the day I'd normally get out and de-holiday.
At first, we had the excuse of the extreme cold and the fact that our decorations were buried under 4 feet of snow.
Still, I convinced hubs to tromp out in the snow and at least remove the big wreath we had hanging on our front roof pitch. He's a trooper for that.
Then, the snow melted, but it was always raining.
I actually considered turning the lights on a few times to let the Jimmy John's delivery guy or party guests easily find us. I figured that as long as they were there, they might as well be useful.
Yesterday, March FIFTEENTH, I came home from work to find him taking lights off bushes and starting to take them off the roof.
We had borrowed our neighbors extra-tall ladder to put lights up on the higher points of the roof. Said neighbor was not currently home.
So, right now we've got a nest of Christmas lights knotted up in the corner of the lower part of the roof, connected to the hard-to-reach lights.
With more rain in the forecast, there is a serious possibility that I'll have Christmas decorations up on the first day of spring.

What's the longest you've gone?

Party pants

Our St. Pat’s party was a rousing success, measured by the following statistics:
Time for homebrew keg to be emptied by 20 enthusiastic individuals: Approximately 2.5 hours
Remaining potato skins: 0
New dart holes made in old drywall during late-night dart tournament: at least 20
Remaining mini-ruebens: 0
Number of times I broke into song: .5, a considerable drop from previous parties

Plus, we had these precious food labels, handmade with love by yours truly!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Knitting nemesis

As a new knitter, I get a little slaphappy when I wander down the yarn aisle at Michael's or Hobby Lobby. In my quest to knit myself a sweet lacy spring scarf, I strayed from my standby yarn - Lion Brand Wool Ease. It's getting warmer and I really don't need such hefty stuff. So, I went for something much thinner with some crazy flecks.
Oh, I loved it. It would look so perfect and fresh. But then, my yarn turned on me.

In a violent coup, the yarn began to knot and separate in all the wrong places. I wrestled with it, biting my tongue in frustration as I tried to knit two stitches together and kept breaking through the yarn. I even called in reinforcements in the form of Trip and hubs to take revenge on the offensive yarn and untangle it respectively.

I had bought two skeins, so I just gave up on the first. The yarn was overworked and covered in cat spit.

Enter skein two.

It's not a perfect ball of yarn, but it's much more well behaved than its comrade. A few splits and a few less-than-ladylike words later and I've got a half-finished, totally wonky and bizarre scarf. I will not stray from the good yarn again.

Disclaimer: I do not spend all waking hours warring against inanimate objects. Just a few. You do it, too, I bet.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Tight times, loose meat

I have never eaten a loose meat sandwich, but I have long had a bizarre fascination with them. You know, it's the same reason people buy Inquirers and lined up to see the Goat Lady at old-timey freak shows.

As far as I know, my first exposure to a loose meat sandwich, which best as I can tell is really just a dry sloppy joe, was via Roseanne and the Landford Lunchbox. Now, I loved Roseanne and Jackie, but even in my youth, I knew there was something wrong with serving broken hamburgers and expecting to turn a profit.

A few years after the Lunchbox shuttered its doors, my family drove through a small town. We were hungry. A restaurant appeared on the left. Krumbly Burger, the sign proclaimed. I'll never forget it. It had white, peeling paint and the sorry state of the building assured me the burgers were not the only things krumbling [sic] in there. My mind raced as my face squished into a look of abject horror. How could anyone face a mouth full of dry, crumbly beef AND a glaring spelling error? It was too much to bear.

Now, living in Iowa, loose meat sandwiches still lurk in the background of my life, disturbing me. Iowans love a local fast food chain that serves the "best" loose meat around. Or so I'm told. I refuse to go. Hubs, also not a native Iowan, likes to threaten me with dates to these unholy sanctums of crumbling meat. We are both adventurous eaters, but I have to draw a line here.

I'm sorry; I really needed to get this off my chest. Now, I can go on with my St. Pat's party prep a lighter and more carefree individual. Thanks.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

One Thing Thursdays: Pre-Paddy's Day Edition

Cork, Ireland

In honor of the impending barrage of Irishness that is St. Pat's next week, I figured I'd espouse the loveliness of Cork, a city I lived in for six months. In a lot of ways, it reminds me of Des Moines: it's a mid-sized city with a college or two and seriously loyal city evangelists.

Let's hop to it, shall we? My one thing to do in Cork: Take a long walk.

Cork is a really walkable city and you'll stumble across a lot of interesting places to duck into if it gets too windy. But the best place to find is the English Market. It's an indoor, year-round farmer(ish) market with loads of meats, cheeses, veggies and junk. Pick up a snack and keep walking. Walk past the Murphy's brewery and lovely little homes and churches and stop in to Lennox's for chips and garlic mayo. Wander around the University College campus. Buy some Cadbury eggs. Head to pubs and warm up with a pint.

OK, that was way more than one thing. Let's call it one thing with distractions.

If you have time for two things: Listen to people fighting. This does not sound fun, but it's just so awesome that their F-bombs have Es instead of Us and they say ye instead of you. Charming.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Happy First Skirt of the Spring Day!

At least, that is what we are celebrating at my house. And since I'm the lone lady of the place, I party alone on this one. Plus, I'm still rocking the tights; the world just isn't ready for the pallor of my legs quite yet.

No matter, I'm just glad the snow is melting!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tipping points

Des Moines isn't a huge city, but it's big enough to make its own fun. Once we hit this spring thaw, weekends are loaded with awesome events that you won't find in other cities. I'm talking about the Baconfests, the Prohibition Parties, the Beer & Bread events, the Oktoberfests, etc. These events are great and I'm so glad we have unique events to keep this city hopping.

But, I have a beef. You see, these events usually grow really fast. Case in point: Oktoberfest. The first few years, when it was at Hessen Haus, I loved it. It was a blast to wander around the street outside the German bar and listen to polka and see precious little old ladies in their polka finery. Within a few years, though, the event outgrew Hessen Haus, moved to the ball park and stopped the German music early in the night to switch to a cover band. Hrmph. Sucked all the Germanic fun outta the whole thing. There was quite a stink raised about the big changes.

I actually had a fleeting thought at Beer & Bread over the weekend, "This is so fun; ohmygosh, I hope it stays the same size next year. I don't want to fight strangers for olive bread samples." Am I alone in hating how quickly the quirky little events in Des Moines become crushing mobs? Or am I just too grumpy to see the fun?

Of course, I want these events to be successful; they make Des Moines a better place to live. I'm not sure what the solution is, but I think we just need even more awesomeness. Clearly, we're hungry for these types of events if we're willing to pack in like sardines. I'd love to see more more more odd (and affordable) parties and events that cater to all kinds of interests. The Des Moines Social Club is off to a great start!

What do you think, can intimate events keep their charm (and elbow room) as they grow?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Bunt in the oven

What gets your St. Pat's-lovin', beer-guzzlin' engine goin'? Is it knitted bunting flags? Well, great.
How convenient, that you, my esteemed reader have such a soft spot for knitted bunting flags as I. You see, I've spent the past few weeks lovingly knitting these little guys in anticipation of our annual St. Pat's pah-tay.
Because what says, "I want to honor my Irish ancestors" quite like knitted flags. For that matter, what else screams, "Tap that keg; kiss me I'm Irish; woooo hoo, got my party dress on!" quite like this little handicraft? Nothing I've ever seen, that's darn tootin'.

(Question: how many missin' Gs can I include in one post?)

I must confess, I did take a shortcut on this project. You see, I was supposed to do an applied icord to attach the individual flags together, but that's like, really hard. I tried a bazillion times and was getting quite cantankerous. So, I knit a super long icord and then stitched it to each flag. And you can't even tell the difference. That's my kind of shortcut - the invisible one.

For those of you who knit, any tips on doing an applied icord? Any videos that don't stink? (And because I hate to leave anyone out) For you non-knitters, how you livin'?

The pros of landline phones

Not really a post touting the benefits of a real, old-fashioned phone. But, it was handy one year ago today, when hubs proposed. Below, me on two phones telling my two sisters the good news. I'm such a modern gal!

Happy engageaversary, Mr. C! It's been one helluva year; we need naps.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Dichotmy of queso

I have made peace on my journey to understanding queso. About a week ago, I was triumphant in my quest to replicate the cheesymeltyawesomeness at home. A few lessons:

Pros of making queso at home:
1. This recipe makes it very simple. (Even better: ignore the cumin and toss in some smoked paprika!)
2. I look dang good stirring melted cheese.
3. Melted cheese looks dang good on its own.
4. Unlimited supply of customizable queso.

Cons of making queso at home:
1. Unlimited supply of customizable queso. Since discovering my latent queso-making talents, I have made it two more times and we have plans to make queso again next week.

Goodbye, good cholesterol.
Things are about to get out of control in our little cheese-stocked kitchen.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

One Thing Thursdays: Volume Three

Creve Couer, Missouri

It's hitting 40 all week and we are finally starting to emerge from underneath all this snow. I actually saw grass the other day. You don't realize how exciting that is until you've been buried under multiple feet of snow for four months. Anyway, the promise of spring has got me jonesing for some outdoor fun.

My one thing: Sailing on Creve Couer Lake

Growing up in the Lou, a little breeze and a free afternoon were all we needed to head over to Creve Couer Lake in Creve Couer, Missouri (a suburb of the glorious Lou). It's a small lake with a beach and boat ramp and just a few minutes from where I grew up.

Now, before this starts to sound too idyllic, take note: Creve Couer Lake is actually some kind of drainage pond. That means, if you reach your hand out of the boat to feel the speed of the water, you are NOT putting it back in the bag of chips. YUCK. Also, it means small, yappy dogs may get digestive issues if they drink the water. But, you know, you make do. And it's better than spending the afternoon at the mall.

A quick sail is hands-down the best way to cure what ails ya. After this crank-ass winter, I do believe we all need a cold beer and a nice wind.

If you have time for two things: Run through Lion's Choice for a roast beef sandwich and grab some extra sauce. It's a chain, but a local chain. And it's the best roast beef ever in the whole world.

P.S. Happy Grammar Day!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Food and pretties to-be

(Hey, I totally accidently published a draft version of this last night. Ignore me and my silly ways, please. This is the good stuff!)

Someone may have taken this whole “bigger, better, best” thing to heart when buying seeds this weekend. Last year, we had a small-ish garden, about 40 square feet. This year, we’re doubling that. Naturally.

It’s possible a woman at Menards (where seed packets were 40% off, so we cleaned up for about $11!) even called us mildly insane for considering buying two varieties of beets.

Here’s what we’re planting from seeds:
New Mexican Chilis
Summer Squash
Haricots Verts (green beans, y'all!)
Brandywine Tomatoes
Roma Tomatoes
Cherry Tomatoes

We’re also on the hunt for a rosemary bush.

Now, you may remember we also have big plans for the yard in terms of a new deck and paver patio. Well, we also got some seeds to pretty up those new spaces:
Morning Glories
Blue Fescue Grass
Cypress Vine

We’re going to get some tall grasses, a peony bush and some azaleas to round out the gardens.

We like starting with seeds because it’s so dang cheap and you really can’t beat the feeling of seeing your food all the way from seeds to deliciousness. Are you a seed-starter or do you buy plants?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Homebrew widow

While the title of this post might imply a general grumpiness with hub's homebrew hobby, make no mistake - a husband who homebrews (hombrews well at least) is an AWESOME husband. I mean, how else does a girl get her hands on lovingly crafted artisan beers made in her honor? She doesn't. And she might be sad. Still, I'm not to hip to the exacting science that is brewing beer. I'm not exactly known for precision, patience or the ability to adhere to directions in the kitchen.

Anywho, since I'm not a huge help in the brewing process (finished beer smells great, but brewing beer smells a tad funky for my tastes), I was thrilled to see this cool event at Living History Farms this Saturday.

For $25, we'll get samples of beer and yummy local breads and we'll learn a bit more about brewing. Good deal. I'm happy to get all boozily-educated about hubs' passion. After all, he's becoming a bit of a grammar curmudgeon, so I should return the favor, right?

Monday, March 1, 2010

Yarn love

I'm a huge fan of the Daily Danny blog. It's full of awesome ideas for upcycling and making something beautiful. A few weeks ago, he asked for some reader ideas for turning janky old Goodwill mugs into something worthy of admiration. I threw out my favorite craft-standby: wrap that thing in yarn! When in doubt, smothering any object in yarn will probably give you something that looks just homemade enough to be sweet while not being too Martha-esque.

Well, he liked that idea! He liked it the most! I was so flattered because people were giving really awesome ideas (chalkboard painted herb gardens, mosaics, wall art, organizers...really cool stuff). So, if you're stopping by by way of Danny's post: welcome!

I've spent the past few nights fighting with some St. Patrick's Day decorations, so I'm hoping I can crack that mess tonight and share a simple knitting project soon. At least I can feel like I have the backing of a professional if I cave and just wrap the whole project in layers of chunky wool.
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