Monthly Archives: December 2009

The quirkier side of New Year’s Resolutions

T-minus 12 hours until a new year and you can rest assured there are going to be some changes in Quirkyville.

I’m writing this as I pick crud out of my eye from sleeping in my contacts…a mistake I will not be making again, resolution or not. Ew.

So without further ado….

1. While I can’t give up popcorn (ever) I can downsize  to a small from a medium, even when sharing. It will hurt a little…when I smack the fiance’s hand for the last bite.

2. I will not let the laundry pile up to obscene levels. Also, must try to avoid turning whites pink. Fiance would probably appreciate it.

3. I will learn how to close cabinets when I’m working in the kitchen. At least half the time.

4. And I will learn to jiggle the handle on the toilet so it doesn’t run and run and run.

5. I will learn how to park straight.

6. I will try not to go to the grocery store every single stinking day.

7. Which means I will plan a little ahead when it comes to meals.

8. I will try not to stare at strangers so hard, a bad habit I have — I’m usually fixated on their cute shoes or handbag, but it comes off odd.

9. I will not push my wake-up time so that I’m not so rushed in the mornings.

10. I will give Gertie more belly rubs and tell the fiance how much I love him more. You can never enjoy life and your loved ones enough.

What are your resolutions?


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Dippy New Year’s Eve Party Ideas

Free product was taken and consumed to bring you this dippy posty.

Mmmm cream cheese. Dontcha just love it? The fiance even likes it on pizza, which is a little odd but good.

And after this weekend, Ms. Quirky will be abstaining from things that have the words cream and cheese in the same list. So, I better get my fill while I can.

In fact, I have pulled a whole new regime of recipes from Cooking Light to try in the New Year – both for Fire & Wine and regular meals. I’m actually really excited about these and trying to get the fiance as excited as I am about the next two months of really buckling down.

Last week the fiance’s family got together at our house for a game night. No game night would be complete without dippy foods. I decided to pull out the Four Cheese Baked Natural Cheese Crisps my friends at Pepperidge Farm sent me to try for a Fire & Wine night. I actually forgot to serve them at our Fire & Wine holiday meal (oopsie), so I thought a family game night would be the next best thing. I was salivating over the dip recipe Pepperidge Farm included with the crackers.


2 packages of chive & onion cream cheese

Juice from one lemon

1/4 cup of chipotle peppers in adobe sauce


Blend in food processor. Serve chilled with the Pepperidge Farm Baked Naturals Cheese Crisps and fresh veggies. Don’t eat it all in one sitting.

This dip was sooooo good.

I would even spread it on a bagel. Or lick it off my fingers.

The fiance said it was a little spicy and that might be my fault. I may have added a little more than 1/4 cup of the peppers. But I just love adobe sauce in stuff. And an adobe sauce & cream cheese marriage is one I can really get behind. I probably just got a little too excited.

This dip is so simple, but so good. I wanted to be sure to share it before New Year’s Eve, in case you were looking for ideas.

So, wanna know what I’m serving up tomorrow night?

We’re having a “We is po'” New Year’s Eve party. Which means everyone brings their own beverages, and we’ll provide snacks and a champagne toast. In keeping with the theme, I picked three appetizers that were all under $1 per serving.

Sausage Rolls

Cheese and Guinness Spread

Spicy Black Bean Hummus

I’m really excited about my menu. It’s just a few snacks, but dippy enough to keep me my guests happy. And, really, you just can’t go wrong with savory sausage rolls. I just hope there are some left for everyone else.

Happy New Year!


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Who wished for the white Christmas?

It’s broken.

Make it stop.

Snowing that is. It doesn’t snow like this here. It’s supposed to snow 2-3 inches, we freak out, cancel schools and get over it in a day after it turns 50 and melts into a slushy, salty mess.

But no. For the past week, it’s been like living in a snow globe here in Kansas City.

If not a snow globe, Minnesota.

Last night I got stuck going to the gym. Today, my car is reburied in the spot I spent an hour digging out Sunday night. (My puny girl arms are still sore!)

And our street? Forget about it. It’s a mess.

The only redeeming factor is I get to walk around with my jeans tucked into my polka-dot rain boots every day. I even wore them to a nice restaurant without anyone blinking an eye.

But that’s it. Other than that, I’m so over the snow.

Even though it’s kinda pretty and Gertie looks so cute with snow on her nose.


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A very Quirky Christmas

We shoveled ourselves out of the great Christmas Blizzard of ’09 and made it to TWO. Count them. TWO celebrations.

I was pretty proud of the Fiance for braving the snow.

After an hour of shoveling (in which he had to walk to a nearby Quick Trip to borrow a shovel because we didn’t have one) and then loading up the car, the fiance grabbed a very worried Gertie to put her in the car.

I was standing at the back door.

And all I heard was, “No Gertie! Not the casserole!!!”

Apparently Gertie jumped into the driver’s side seat where my breakfast potato casserole was sitting, instead of the backseat.

Oopsie. Just a little walk through. Over plastic wrap. Nothing that couldn’t be fluffed later….

Then we white knuckled it to Lenexa for our first celebration of the day.

Where there were dogs, dogs and more dogs.

(Three to be exact.)

But this sweetheart is Penny. She’s the fiance’s sister’s pug. And she was the star of the day…

She also had the most outfits of anyone.

Including her own Snuggie.

Be jealous.

I was.

And it wouldn’t  be Christmas at the Fiance’s family’s house without the family photo.

We took several takes, but I like this one because Gertie was a few seconds away from giving some Christmas love to the kitty cat. (She is not a huge fan of cats.)

Don’t you like my socks?

Also, note the fiance’s sister and her boyfriend (in the back) who had the most killer footie pajama’s on.

After this photo, the fiance took a nice nap on this very couch.

While his mom and I poured over his childhood pictures for a special wedding-related project.

Then we were off to round two.

More  white knuckle driving….but it was worth it because of this cute little guy.

And spaghetti.

But mostly him

And her.

(That’s my little sister, isn’t she cute? Also, if you have a teenager to buy for next year, apparently fuzzy socks are a big hit!)

One more.

I couldn’t resist.

Merry Christmas!


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F&W: Classic lasagna & classic us for a fine holiday celebration

The last Fire & Wine night of the year. And I wanted to make it special.

I thought about doing a ham or turkey breast, but to me, Christmas is Italian.

I grew up (and still do) eating spaghetti with my family on Christmas. This isn’t your ordinary spaghetti. This is cook-all-day slow-roasted-goodness spaghetti. My Italian grandfather passed the recipe down to my mother who will (I hope) eventually pass it onto me.

In the meantime, I decided to try my hand at lasagna. No, I had never made it before. Odd, I know.  I don’t like ground beef. But it dawned on me that I could substitute ground turkey for beef and then it dawned on me that I could add some Italian sausage to that.

So, I adapted this classic lasagna recipe from Southern Living by using 1/2 lb of ground turkey and 1/2 lb of sweet Italian sausage instead of the ground beef.

  • 2  medium onions, chopped
  • 2  tablespoons  olive oil, divided
  • 4  garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2  lb ground turkey
  • 1/2 lb  sweet Italian sausage removed from casing
  • 1  (14.5-oz.) can basil, garlic, and oregano diced tomatoes
  • 2  (6-oz.) cans tomato paste
  • 1  (8-oz.) can basil, garlic, and oregano tomato sauce
  • 1  bay leaf
  • 1  teaspoon  Italian seasoning
  • 1 1/4  teaspoons  salt, divided
  • 3/4  teaspoon  pepper, divided
  • 12  lasagna noodles, uncooked
  • 8  cups  boiling water
  • 1  (16-oz.) container ricotta cheese
  • 2  large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4  cup  grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2  (6-oz.) packages part-skim mozzarella cheese slices
  • Garnish: chopped fresh parsley

1. Sauté onion in 1 Tbsp. hot oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat 5 minutes or until tender. Add garlic, and sauté 1 minute. Add turkey and sausage, and cook, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes.  Stir in diced tomatoes, next 4 ingredients, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes. Remove and discard bay leaf; set meat sauce aside.

2. Place lasagna noodles in a 13- x- 9-inch pan. Carefully pour 8 cups boiling water and remaining 1 Tbsp. olive oil over noodles. Let stand 15 minutes.

3. Stir together ricotta cheese, eggs, Parmesan cheese, remaining 1/4 tsp. salt, and remaining 1/4 tsp. pepper until blended.

4. Spoon half of the meat sauce mixture in a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Shake excess water from noodles, and arrange 6 noodles over meat sauce; top with half of ricotta mixture and 1 package mozzarella cheese slices. Repeat layers once.

5. Bake, covered, at 350° for 55 minutes. Uncover and bake 10 to 15 more minutes or until bubbly. Let lasagna stand 10 minutes before serving. Garnish, if desired.

Perfection is what that is.

The sauce is fantastic. (I ended up adding about 2 tablespoons of sugar to it because I like my sauce a little sweeter)

We enjoyed our meal while we watched Oprah interview the President and First Lady in the White House.

I wondered aloud where you would have Fire & Wine night at the White House. Like how would you eat on stools and wipe your fingers with paper towels?

We decided that Fire & Wine night is one of life’s pleasures that President and Mrs. Obama do not get to experience.

And then we decided (accidentally on purpose, please may I have another glass?)  it was Wire & Fine night.

And that was the funniest thing anyone had ever said.

Meanwhile Gertie entertained by tossing her pheasant around the room.

And the Fiance was up in his man cave rolling around on the office chair and cheering loudly at a University of Kansas basketball game.

DD Girl and I didn’t have to work the next day so we may have continued the celebration out on the Plaza with more friends, and I may have had a little much fun….

But whatever it was, it was just fine with me. Merry Christmas!


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A very quirky holiday gift guide

Looking for that quirky last-minute gift? Take a few suggestions from the Queen of Quirky, and some of my favorite quirky retailers. This is pure play reporting, y’all. No freebies were taken or given to bring you this quirky list.

Pugalicious Necklace (black acrylic)

For the dog-obsessed, a Pugalicious Necklace in black acrylic from Etsy store Weasel Factory.

Just like the pug itself, it’s so ugly, it’s cute.

Snorting, butt-wagging dog sold separately.

 For the Star Wars fan in your life, (or if you would like to by my fiance something) the Tauntaun Sleeping Bag from our innovative geeky friends at Think Geek.

When I asked the fiance when on earth he would ever use this, he actually had a list of possibilities. Oh what fun it would be to wake up next to him in this on an air mattress at someone’s house?

For the to-be or already newlyweds in your life, how about an instruction manual from Quirk Books?

Rumor has it, it contains all sorts of valuable information for the newly married, including handy diagrams. And you know how much I value those.

Bar Tools & Accessories - Quirky Corks Wine Stopper For the wine lover who actually doesn’t finish the whole bottle at once?

I hear they exist.

Anyhow, these Quirky Corks Wine Stoppers from Wrapables are super cute and playful.

I’d get the “put a cork in it” one myself.

love bacon kitchen towel

 For (everyone non-vegan?)on your list, how about a love bacon kitchen towel  from Koli’s Etsy Shop? 

Don’t love bacon? There’s a pretty sweet “master baster” towel that might fit your fancy.

I’m just sayin’…

For the super hero chica, check out these Wonder Woman Havainas flip flops at 6 p.m.

I’d totally wear them in the dead of winter. With socks.

So there you have it, a few last-minute quirky items to help you wrap up this holiday shopping season.  What was your favorite quirky gift of all time?


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No honey. You can’t register for my butt.

He had a gun.

I had a check-list.

And it was smack dab in the middle of the holiday shopping frenzy.

What on earth were we thinking?

We weren’t even going to register. For the longest time we held firm that registering was just asking for gifts and that’s not what we are all about.

But then social conventions took their hold. We were told by multiple friends and family that we really ought to do this thing for people who will want guidance on their gift buying.

Despite our arguments that we don’t really expect gifts…which was quickly shot down by the argument that people will want to give gifts. End of story.

(To which I still say, I really don’t care if you give us a gift. Honestly. If you are invited to the wedding it’s because we want to celebrate with you.)

And because we procrastinated on the whole deal, we found ourselves at two large chain stores that sell home goods along with every other holiday shopper in Johnson County, KS Saturday afternoon.

It did not evoke any holiday spirit in me.

Or the wedding spirit for that matter.

As the fiance will attest to, I was really into it during the cooking section of store #1. Cooking is my thing. And I had a lot of fun playing  fantasy shopping spree with my kitchen in mind. Oh, the things I could fix…the fires I could catch…the wine we could drink.

But as we entered the bedding/linens area, my enthusiasm waned. I felt the pressure of having to make decisions about our home that could potentially stick with us forever.

Colors, fabrics and pillows. Oh my.

The fiance wasn’t helping.

Me: Oh, I really like this button detail on that pillow.

F: Wouldn’t that poke your head to lay on?

Me: You don’t lay on that pillow.

F: Huh?

Me: It’s a throw pillow. It goes on top of your sleeping pillows.

F: Huh?

Me: It’s for decoration.

F: So you put them on the floor?

Me: No. You put them up when you go to bed so the dog doesn’t lay on them.

F: How will I know what to do with them when you are out of town?

Me: sigh.

And it wasn’t just that. It was trying to pick towels that were both soft and fluffy and pretty.

And colors that didn’t make the fiance heave.

I began to feel like a home-design failure. I didn’t know which vases or picture frames or decor doo dads would look good together.

The fiance, who was even less into the home decor than I was, began to amuse himself by scanning my butt.

“Sensors say…seexxxy.”

He then took advantage of his new knowledge of throw pillows and scanned this hideous mauve feather-covered pillow.

It was very funny, I had to admit. But somehow, being in that store, surrounded by all those pretty things compelled me to tap my inner homemaker.

Only, when I tried to tap it, there wasn’t anything there.

Look what we are dealing with here:  we have two bar stools in our living room that we use to eat on when we sit at the couch. And speaking of couch. There is a hideous blanket hung up behind it to block the light and avoid a glare on the TV because picking out curtains makes me tremble.

By the time we entered the “artwork” portion of the store, I was done.

I could not make another decision, even if you told me that I could have all 12 pieces of the Calphalon cookware that had excited me two hours earlier.

It was time to turn the gun over to the nice sales staff and call it a day.

The fiance watched me literally walk out of the store.

Was it something he did/said?

No, I told him. I just couldn’t absorb any more color combinations, style decisions or Christmas crowd dodging. I was through.

But there was still an entire store to get through before we could call it a day. (We decided to register at two stores to give people more options and because one has better cookware than the other and one has electronics and the other doesn’t. Guess who goes with each store?)

Luckily at store #2 we actually had some items to purchase for ourselves. So we were able to distract ourselves me with shampoos and hand lotions.

Happy thoughts. Happy thoughts.

And then with the check-out line in view, I just sort of settled into it in the glossy-eyed way of someone heavily medicated. Sure. Scan that box of candy. It will be a good option for the budget- conscious.

Yeah, we really need that Playschool Fake Food set. It will come in handy when I don’t want to cook.

We were done. There were no more decisions to be made. The gun was returned and I could sit in the car for the 20 minute ride to the mall and rest my feet.

What? Did you say mall?!

Yup. Mall. To the jewelry store to purchase my pretty, sparkly wedding band.

That wasn’t such a bad thing.

And so, we are now registered. My band has been purchased. And the clock ticks on closer and closer each day to February 27.

I couldn’t be happier. Even in our un-fashionable house with our crappy cookware.


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F&W Night Shrimp Coconut Curry and Show & Tell

I loved show & tell as a child.

It was probably my favorite day of the week.

Any opportunity to have all eyes on me and my object, no matter how menial…

I’m an attention whore. What can I say?

Do you know that I still do show & tell? Usually when I have a new guest in my house. I just love pulling out an old photo album or object from my past to show my visitor. I know it’s a horribly annoying trait. I try to stop myself.

“Stephanie…do not go get that photo album. No one wants to see your pictures of Germany circa 1999.”

It never works. Because once I have just a little thought that I could run up and grab that item, it’s all over.

It’s a good thing my friends like me so much put up with me. I’m really quite the train wreck sometimes. Like, if I were in a reality television show, I’d be watching me and covering my eyes, saying “it’s embarrasing to watch her.”

Last night was particularly painful for my guests.

I have no idea how this came up, but I started talking about a play I was in during 9th grade. And then…

I ran up and grabbed the playbook (Yes, I still have it.) And proceeded to dramatically read some of the lines from it.

We were missing DD Girl, who had some holiday errands to run. So, it was Roomie and one of my co-workers who endured this performance.

Thank goodness the Coconut Curry from Jaden Hair’s new Steamy Kitchen cookbook was so delicious.

I just subbed shrimp for the chicken because I felt like shrimp and added some red peppers because I had them on hand.  I added the shrimp at the very end, instead of mid-way through the cooking process so that it wouldn’t over-cook.

You could really do so much with this dish and still have it taste yummy. For example, I couldn’t find Thai Kaffir Lime leaves, so I squeezed a tad bit of lime juice into the curry and added cilantro. That’s what I love about Jaden’s recipes – they are so flexible and easy.

I just really hope that the curry was the star performer last night and not me.

(I may or may not have dug up some pictures from the play and brought them to work to show my co-worker, as if she didn’t get enough of my antics last night…)

*Image courtesy of Book was a gift, courtesy of Jaden Hair, as a guest favor for the Blogher Food 09 after-party.

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Dutch Oven

Wedding planning is stressful.

It especially hurts the pocket book. (That’s North Carolinian for wallet. I like to throw out my old North Carolinian lingo sometimes. It makes me feel well-exposed to a variety of United States sub-cultures.)

You can actually hear the tension in the Quirky household as we are trying to figure out why exactly we didn’t elope to Vegas? Or maybe that was just Gertie farting. Whatever. It’s stressful.

But we know that in the end, celebrating our nuptials with our friends and family will ultimately be worth it to us. We are keeping it very tacky cheap. You can follow more about that on the Quirky Wedding blog.

Meanwhile, I’m trying to keep us healthy and satisfied in the food department without spending crazy amounts of money at the grocery store. I felt pretty good about the meals I planned this week. And then I kind of messed it up with a work function that went late on Tuesday, but my intentions were good…

Monday – Chicken Satay with brown rice and snow peas

Tuesday – I planned for Sauteed Tilapia with Lemon-Peppercorn Pan Sauce and a pea risotto.  I didn’t feel like cooking after that work function, so I made a frozen spinach, mushroom and chicken pizza.

Wednesday – We will have this on Friday or Saturday or sometime before the cauliflower turns into a science experiment in the fridge. Cauliflower & Chickpea Curry. No real recipe yet. Going to wing it based on several I have read. Served with brown rice.

After discussing this menu with the fiance the other night. I blurted out, “I really want a dutch oven.” I don’t know where exactly it came from. I have no business thinking of new things for myself at this time.

But, truth be told, I have this really awful cookware that would be really embarrassing should any foodie wander into my kitchen.

We were laying in bed and the fiance got a wicked look in his eyes.

Oh no. Not that* kind of Dutch oven.

* I apologize for stooping to potty humor today. I’m tired, busy and moderately stressed.


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Kicking thank you, but….

It’s tough to take a compliment sometimes.

Especially when you haven’t brushed your hair or your teeth and your mascara is smeared underneath your eyes.

The fiance has a way of dishing out loads of compliments when I look like this.

To him I’m beautiful, the prettiest woman in thew orld, super sexy…ok, I’ll stop before you vomit on your keyboard, but you get the drift.

He’ll stop and grab me around the waist or hug me and tell me these things and sometimes all I can think of is, “I have mega cheese breath from the clump of colby jack I just grabbed straight out of the bag in the fridge.” 

But for some reason he doesn’t care (or he has no sense of smell.)

Yesterday happened to be a “no bathe day” for me. I have those periodically. Mostly on Sundays following a big event the night before. It means I walk around all day in the clothes I slept in, I don’t shower and I’m lucky if I brush my teeth. In fact, I try to avoid  all mirrors on those days if possible.

And yesterday, the fiance continued to shower me with praise.

In my mind, I tried to kick the “what did he do wrong?” thoughts. I don’t want to be all “thank you, but you are wrong. I’m ugly.”

Because I know I’m not. Maybe I don’t feel my prettiest. But if he can find the beauty in my unkemptness, then I should let him.

So, I tried to let the compliments soak in (almost as if willing them would make them true).

As a result, I half-believed him by the end of the day.

And then I caught a glimpse in the mirror.

I’m just glad he see’s what he see’s when he looks at me. I’m glad he loves me and thinks I’m beautiful.

And for the sake of our relationship, I think I’ll try covering the mirrors for the next no bathe day so I can enjoy his flattery.

And maybe buy some mints.

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