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A Day In the Life

It was a typical day in Liz Carey’s life.

 She slept until 10. Watched an episode of Degrassi. Drove her Honda Civic  to her retail sales job at noon. Stopped by Target for a late lunch where she grabbed a Caesar salad, queso dip and chips and a hard boiled egg. (Look, we don’t judge these things in Quirkyville.)

Then, she wrapped her workday around 8 p.m. in time to zip down the Westport Flea Market to join her friends and family (lots of them) to watch her brother’s improv comedy troupe, the Stitchtactics perform a 10 p.m. show.

And when she was selected from the audience to have this entire day reenacted in front of the audience, she thought nothing of it.

She honked her little horn when the comedians got her day grossly wrong (No, she didn’t take a shower in bed. Just because she didn’t say the shower was in the bathroom means she literally showered in the bed.)

The team used wigs, props and live people to play innate objects (Liz’s brother, Joe played her Honda Civic.) And it was all very, very funny.

But we weren’t laughing at the skit, as much as we were laughing at what we knew.

Because despite the fact that Liz had been on the phone for the past day, texting and calling people to come see Joe’s show, that’s not why they were there.

They let her think that she invited them. We let her think that we all came to support Joe’s show.

Quite frankly, we were all a little stunned that she honestly believed her parents, her sibblings (both of the two not in the show), their spouses (one 8.5 months pregnant) , their neighborhood friends, her boyfriend’s parents, her boyfriend’s aunt, her best friend and her co-workers all came to show their support for her brother. (At the same time.)

But she did.

As the Day in the Life Skit wrapped up, Liz started to head off stage…

But Joe announced that there was more and he needed her to close her eyes so he could spin her around.

She has probably seen this act a handful of times and no one has ever gotten spun around at the end.

But she didn’t question that either.

Oh, that crazy Joe! He must be up to something new.

When she opened her eyes, she saw this…

And then she made this face (as she quickly slipped off a fashion ring she was wearing that night on that finger.)

She said, “yes!”

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F&W: Mediterranean Portabella Mushroom Pizzas and a Chunky Monkey ice cream run

It was a quiet Fire & Wine night this week. Mr. Quirky met the boys to hang out and do nerd things. And we had no special guests.

Just the three of us girls….

and the fun guys.

The Mediterranean portabella pizzas were the bomb diggity. Yes. Diggity.

I blatantly stole the concept from one of my favorite pizzas over at Kansas City Minksy’s Pizza. Their Mediterranean pizza sports lamb sausage, pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, spinach and a mix of feta and mozzarella cheeses.

Well Minsky’s, love you and all, but I’ll take your doughy crust and raise you portabella mushrooms as the vessel for delicious toppings.

My mushrooms were dressed up in their Sunday best: walnut pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, turkey Italian sausage and a mix of feta and mozzarella cheeses.

More please.

And as if these decadent pizzas weren’t enough for our spoiled little tummies, we decided to make an ice cream run to a local Quick Trip to pick up my favorite pint of Ben & Jerry’s.

But if you dare call me a chunky monkey…no recipes for you!

Thank you. You may now have your recipes:

Walnut Pesto

2 large bunches of basil, torn

1/2 cup walnuts

3 cloves of garlic

1/4 cup of olive oil (may need more or less depending on thickness desired)

Kosher salt to taste

Pulse basil leaves to chop. Then add walnuts and garlic. Pulse until ground. Pour in olive oil, pulsing to blend until desired texture has been reached. Salt to taste.

Greek Portabella Mushroom Pizzas

1/2 cup of dry white wine

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (dried, not in oil)

3 links Italian sausage (I used turkey)

6 large portabella mushrooms, stems and gills removed, washed

Olive oil for brushing

Walnut Pesto (see recipe)

3 cups fresh spinach

1/2 cup mozzarella cheese shreds

1/2 cup feta cheese

If your sun-dried tomatoes aren’t already chopped (I purchased mine that way), you’ll want to cut into strips. Heat wine in microwave for 30-45 seconds. Add the tomatoes to wine to rehydrate and allow 30 minutes to an hour for them to soak. Preheat oven to 350.

Remove sausage from casing and brown in a pan, crumbling. Once sausage is browned, set aside. (If you used traditional sausage, wipe pan of excess grease.)

Brush mushrooms with oil and bake for 10 minutes.

While mushrooms are cooking, pour tomatoes and wine into warm pan from sausage. Cook off most of the liquid and then add spinach and wilt.

Remove mushrooms from oven.  Top as follows: spoonful of pesto, spinach and tomatoes, sausage, sprinkle of mozzarella and finish with feta.

Place mushrooms into oven and turn on broil for 5-7 minutes.

Do your monkey mushroom happy dance!

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A bumpy wagon ride

In college I made a mental rule for myself – once I put a sports bra on, a workout or run must take place before I can remove the sports bra.

It’s worked pretty well for me, forcing me into workouts when unmotivated, or perhaps I would have otherwise “opted out.”

Tuesday, I found myself climbing back on the running wagon after recently falling off. (I fall off that doggone wagon so often, you’d think they’d put a recall out for it.) Apparently it had been so long since I’d even put on a sports bra that I had forgotten how to get into it.

I found myself flaying about my room like a drunk octopus, sticking my head into holes that didn’t fit it, trying to find my arms and in general very confused about where everything was going to fit once the arms/head were free. It turns out, it was on backwards.

FYI, the back side of the sports bra does not cover much.

Lest this blog turn into the bra blog, I digress on this matter. But not the run I was suiting up for.

I have another pre-running ritual.

Gertie, my running partner, must do ALL her business prior to departing.

Because nothing will ruin a run faster than having to carry with you a swinging  bag of your dog’s poo.

That’s what home is for.

But this day, I didn’t monitor her goings outside, so I found myself having one of those really awkward moments.

My dog was doing her #2 and I didn’t have a bag.

I HATE that.

Gertie, no! Fumble. Party Foul. Running Fail.

So we did the only thing I could do in that moment.

Ran away. Faster.

And now I have blogged about bras and dog poo today. Do not fear. This blog is not going to turn into Dooce. (I mean, the book deal and popularity would be nice, but it’s not really my shtick.)

What I really wanted to share was, I ran. Despite a few fumbles. No more excuses for not running. At least not this week…. I’m hanging onto that stupid wagon for dear life.

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A very quirky Independence Day

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F&W: Dine & Dash

One minute we were dining alfresco. The next, I was alone-o.

That’s what happens when your friends dine & dash on you on a Fire & Wine night.

(For those of you who are new, Fire & Wine is our weekly girls’ night cooking event wherein I try to create something new without burning down the kitchen. )

To be fair, everyone had a legitimate reason to cut out early this week.  And they told me in advance. 

What I loved about this week’s Fire & Wine creation is that the fire risk was very low. In fact, had I managed to start a kitchen fire on this dish, we would probably have to ban me from ever stepping a toe in any kitchen again.

And that would be a sad thing.

Kind of like when your friends leave you after dinner.

I kid. I kid.

Back to the meal. I decided to try my hand at Salade Niçoise. I love nicoise salad. I’m pretty sure I first tried it in Germany when my folks  lived there. It’s really much more than a salad. It’s quite the meal. And it’s nice and refreshing in the summer.

I served it family style, but you could plate it in individual portions.

I started looking in some of my cookbooks , but then I saw Elise at Simply Recipes had one. It was kind of over then, because if Elise has tried it, then it’s going to work and be delicious. It’s just that simple.

So I went with the Simply Recipes Nicoise Salad. And it was perfect. The only modification I made was a little extra Dijon in the dressing because I love Dijon. Also, do to a unfortunate incident, I only had five eggs.

But wait! You think I’m done yet?

In a unprecedented Fire & Wine occurence, I made dessert!

The perfect dessert for a summer meal. I’m pretty sure it will be a regular in future Quirky household meals.

Behold: raspberry sherbet.

 Sherbet is something I’d never considered making because I don’t have any of that high fangled ice cream machinery.

This is not a statement of complaint. I don’t have room for any more gadgets, gizmos or processors in my kitchen.

But when I was searching for a salad recipe, I found myself reading one of my first cookbooks. Remember Anne from the bra party? (Don’t forget- special custom bra offer for Queen of Quirky readers!) Years ago, her mom introduced my mom to this fantastic cookbook gem out of Kansas City.

Image courtesy of Amazon.com where you can still buy it used

It’s called Beyond Parsley and it was published in 1984 by the Junior League of Kansas City. I call it a cookbook gem because it is really rather remarkable – both in the recipes and the photography.

When I got married the first time, Anne’s mom gave me my own copy of the book. It’s moved all over the country with me, but rarely been used. I wasn’t much of a cook in my first marriage. (My ex-husband would snort if he read that. But seriously. He was a picky pants and cooking just wasn’t fun with him. Mr. Quirky loves to try my food — even foods he historically hasn’t liked. He encourages me all the time, even in my mistakes. He’s kind of Mr. Amazing Quirky.)

So the cookbook was really just waiting for me to find myself in the kitchen. I’m so glad I did.

I’m also glad I tried the raspberry sherbet recipe. I’m even more glad I doubled it. You are going to freak out when you see how easy it is.

Ingredients

1 10 oz bag frozen raspberries, thawed

1 scant cup sugar (I love saying “scant cup.” My recipes never sound so fancy.)

1 cup of sour cream (I used light)

1/2 tsp of vanilla

Directions

Mash berries (I used a potato masher.) Combine ingredients. Stir well. Freeze.

You should really make this for your Fourth of July gathering. But be sure to double it because this only serves four, and I don’t know what kind of portion size they were  thinking because my doubled recipe served five of us and there isn’t very much left.

Enjoy and keep it quirky this weekend!

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Funky little funghi quesadillas

The supporting star award at my Bras, Booze & Bites party goes to these guys.

Mini mushroom, cilantro & goat cheese quesadillas. So simple, so delicious and so adorable. I love anything “mini.” Mini to me says, “please, eat more of me because I’m small and I don’t count.” What’s not to love about that?

If you’d like to create  these bite-size treats for your next party, here’s what you’ll need:

1 10 count package of taco-sized tortillas

3 Tablespoons butter (divided)

2 cloves garlic minced

2 cartons of diced button mushrooms

1 cup of cilantro leaves

1 small log of goat cheese

2 cups of Monterrey jack

Salt & pepper to taste

To assemble them:

Preheat oven to 400.

Take a cup and press 2-3 circles into your tortillas. Then trace with a knife to cut out the mini tortillas. If you are clever, figure out what to do with the scraps of tortilla. I was thinking maybe a casserole  or something, but sadly, mine just went in the trash.

Chop the sliced mushrooms roughly. I used a chopper, but made sure I didn’t get the pieces too small. You want a bit of texture to the quesadillas.

Chop the cilantro leaves.

Heat 1  Tablespoon of butter in the pan and add the garlic. Heat until frangrant then add the mushroom bits and cilantro.

Cook until tender and just browned.

Salt and pepper to taste. Turn off heat.

Mix in the goat cheese until well combined and then transfer to a mixing bowl and combine with the jack cheese.

Melt the remaining butter (You probably won’t use it all. I didn’t.) Spray a large baking sheet with no-stick spray. Place a batch of the mini tortillas on the baking sheet (spaced out.)  Take a spoonfull (smallish) of the mushroom cheese mix and place in tortillas and fold over, pressing to secure. Be careful not to over-fill. Or they will ooze too much.

Brush the tops of them with butter.

Bake for 3-4 minutes, or until golden brown and then flip. You can brush the other side with butter too, but I was in a hurry and didn’t. Cook on other side for about 2-3 minutes, or until golden brown.

This made about 30 mini quesadillas.  I had to cook them in 3 batches.

You might want to have a fly swatter handy to slap your guests’ hands because they are going to start grabbing these fast once they taste them.

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Bras, Bites & Booze Party

Almost every girl has to wear one for the majority of her waking life.

But why is it so hard to get a bra that fits right, looks cute and feels great on?

My talented friend Anne Quade of Décolletage by Anne offered to share some of her wisdom about the perfect fit with my girlfriends. I can’t resist an excuse for a party. Especially a girly party with potential for alliteration in the name.

I’ve known Anne since the 2nd grade. In 5-7 grade we had the unfortunate pleasure of being the worst two ballerinas ever together. Despite our lack of natural talent, we gave it a good go for a few years of lessons.

And Anne will tell you that if you get a few drinks in me, I will bust out some old moves. But only if you are really lucky.

Luckily, Anne has found her true talent as a seamstress. She’s a bit of a Super Mom. She makes her own diapers, baby clothes, bras and clothing.

I’m still waiting to find my natural talent…uh…..is this thing on? Anybras…

Despite threats from our male friends to hide out in my bushes with cameras, the party was on!

And I was pretty excited when the first two party guests showed up – Marie (above) & Monique (left.)

These ladies were ready to party on down. And so were we.

Before we dug into the pressing matter at hand, we dug into some bites.

On the menu: mini mushroom, cilantro  & goat cheese quesadillas , little bites caprese salad, rosemary flatbread, carrot sticks,  roasted garlic humus and chips & salsa.

I also had red and white wine for the guests.

Anne opened the floor by asking the guests what they hate about wearing a bra.

It didn’t take long for my friends to open up:

– Straps falling down

– “Popping out” of the cup

– “Headlights”

– Underwire discomfort

-Fat rolls on your side from the bra pushing into you

Ladies, you get the drift. Bras kind of suck.

Lucky for us, Anne had solutions to all of our woes. In fact, she knew what we were going to say in advance and designed her bras to combat each and every complaint.

Isn’t she smart?

Then, she offered free fittings. And I mean real fittings. Not the generic quick (pink) tape measure fitting you get at Victoria’s Secret. There was some serious fittingage going on in my kitchen.

Anne had created a bra in every size known to man so that each girl could try on the proper fit. It was beyond impressive. The try-on bras were plain cotton, but see, once Anne gets a good fit, she creates a bra to a girl’s liking.

For the party, Anne offered a fantastic discount to anyone who wanted to order one.

Then we sat around and laughed about girly things while taking turns with the fittings.

DD Girl was more than happy to replace our weekly  Thursday evening Fire & Wine night with B, B & B.

I had to share with everyone that when I was little I thought boobs grew in like Barbie’s — stiff, connected, perky and perfect.

Stupid Barbie and her perfect little figure  for misguiding our body image expectations.

In fact, just for that, I made sure there were a few of her kind hanging around to hear what real women have to go through.

She didn’t seem too fazed.

Screw her.

Gertie gets it.

In fact, she couldn’t resist being one of the girls for the evening.

Even though the party guests have gone (to the best of my knowledge….although, that DD Girl is pretty sneaky. She might be hanging around…) and the booze & bites have long been put away, you can still bring the party home with you!

Anne has offered to extend her party discount of 20% off a custom bra to the readers of Queen of Quirky!

I feel so special.

So, to take advantage of this special offer (it expires July 31) simply enter the voucher QUEENOFQUIRKY.

I kind of feel bad because Anne is giving you this nice discount and  I personally have nothing to offer….

There’s always that ballet dance.

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Not the bee’s knees

I have a 100% legitimate excuse for not doing laundry in the past 24 hours…

My basement is infested with bees.

And not just happy little bumblebees.

Giant, swarming, we-want-to-eat-you-and-your-little-dog-too bees.

I kind of want to march downstairs and tell that Queen Bee, “Hey missy. Watch yourself. There is only one Queen in this quirky household.”

But then I would run screaming up the stairs, so I fear my threats would seem a little idle.

Instead I think I’ll go the route of, “Oh Mr. Landlord……”

It’s one of those moments where I think, wow. I’m glad I’ve been a slightly hot  mess for the past 10 years and I still rent.

 Photo courtesy of Kodo_85 via Photobucket

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Breaking news: A baby Stephanie!

Silly reader!

Not me, the other Stephanie.

The one in the middle.

Technically, the third Stephanie (on the other end) is also days away from having her first baby.

The Stephanie in blue is not.

Back to the middle Stephanie. And her beautiful baby.

I just had to share this because it’s really, really special to me for several reasons. It’s just what happens when your best friend has a baby…

First, I’ve known Stephanie since right when she started dating her now husband and new daddy, Chris.

They are about two of my favorite people ever.

Stephanie has proceeded down an aisle twice in her life for me.

That’s one more time than a good friend should have to do that, but she’s just that awesome.

She’s also been there for me in my roughest hour(s.)

Stephanie and her husband were in Vegas when Mr. Quirky and I got engaged.

They are fantastic people who deserve nothing but the best in life, including a beautiful daughter.

Their daughter weighed 7 pounds, 12 ounces. They named her Claire. And will probably call her Claire Bear frequently.

I think Claire is going to love her quirky pseudo aunt in Kansas City.

And when she gets older, I will tell her all the some of the wild  things her mama and I got to do together when we were name sharing, apartment sharing, fun-loving young women working at a newspaper in Rocky Mount, NC.

I will also advise her to love life like her mama, work hard and be responsible (most of the time)  like her mama, manage her finances like her mama, be a wonderful friend like her mama and pick a good man who can cook like her daddy.

With these two as parents, this kid has it made.

I’m loving little Claire already from afar.

Photo copyright 2010, Rob Ostermaier

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Pants in the pool, sunburn, and a stuffed but still i-phone-less Mr. Quirky

I have about four posts lined up to write this week, including  a follow-up post to this conversation with DD Girl. It’s kind of awesome.

But while you are waiting, I wanted to share a few highlights from the quirky weekend.

I really needed a weekend after the Vegas trip, a full week, including planning and hosting a party on Thursday night on top of a catch-up week at work.

Luckily it was Roomie’s birthday and celebrations were held at at our old (er, my old) pool Friday night.

There was grilling, drinking, swimming, cannon balling and pants in the pool.

That’s right. I said pants in the pool. You must say this to the tune of “Pants on the Ground.”  (Warning: excessive repeating of this at a pool party could result in severe agitation of fellow attendees.)

Anypants, Roomie’s boyfriend came to a pool party in 90 degree weather wearing pants. (He claims  they were appropriate because they were cool pants, but the grief must still be given.)  After dinner, a few beers and a mandatory 20 minute waiting period (safety first) we all got in the pool.

Ok, so we didn’t wait 20 minutes after we ate. Sorry moms. We still wear our seatbelts though.

But not Mr. Pants. He stood on the sidelines like it was the adult swim.

Finally, we egged him on to get in, pants and all. (Insisting that the pants stayed on.)

Then I entertained annoyed everyone with my “Pants in the Pool” rendition. It was maybe funny the first three times.

The next day, Roomie and I decided to spend more time at the pool still in proper swimming attire, of course. This time the sun was still shining, and per my usual, I was armed with my bag o’ sunscreen and floppy hat.

Now, I’m not sure how this happened, but I still managed to get some burnage. Mr. Quirky was very confused about this because I didn’t get even the tiniest burn in Vegas. And isn’t the sun more powerful the farther south you go?

I am chalking it up to the fact that I did not have a big fruity drink in hand to protect me from the evil sun.

Drinking+ bag o’ sunscreen= no sunburn. Not drinking + bag o’ sunscreen = sunburn. Like that math? (Warning: I did very poorly in math as a student, so I probably wouldn’t rely on this formula.)

While I was soaking up sun, Mr. Quirky was soaking up barbecue sauce.

He judged one of Kansas City’s big barbecue contests this weekend.

That meant he got to eat meat for about four hours.

When he got home, he said he had lots of  little piggy’s, chickens and moo cows in his belly. And his belly was done for.

So what did I do? I whisked him off to dinner with my family.

Because that’s what sensitive wives  do after their husbands have just spent the past afternoon stuffing their faces with lots o’ meat. “Let’s go to dinner, honey! ” (This is typically the kind of wife who who washes her husband’s  i-phone.)

And no, poor Mr. Quirky did not get his new i-phone yet. He is hoping they get more this week. And if they don’t, I may have to build one for him.

Luckily, he has a phone for work that can be used in an emergency.

And by emergency, I mean the cutest nephew in the world is on your lap.

After dinner, Mr. Quirky and I went to see Toy Story III. It was adorable.

And sentimental.

And it made me miss my childhood toys.

How could I ever have been so cruel as to grow too old to play with them?

Good thing I had Sunday to lie around doing nothing, so there was plenty of time to get over my toy abuse guilt.

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