Saturday, March 26, 2011

Ground Control to Major Tom

Well hello there.

I've been gone for awhile. (No kidding!)

There have been many factors to my complete lack of posting: laziness, writer's block, and my grandfather's passing. I mentioned here awhile ago that my grandfather was battling congestive heart failure. I'll never know whether I was being naive, or whether my grandfather really did decline in health at a much faster rate than we thought, but I do know we lost him before we were ready for it.

He lived a full 90 years. He accomplished so much in his life, he was loved by so many, and everyone has a story to tell about "Uncle Ed". His funeral and service were a complete inspiration to me. I really don't think they make 'em like they used too. I so, I do, and will, miss him terribly.

Yet surprisingly enough, it was not the loss of my grandfather that lead me to stop blogging. It was my own ego. I have another confession to make: I thought I was the next Pioneer Woman. I thought I would start up a blog, it would quickly catch on, I would gain a huge following due to my inspirational DIYs and home improvements, companies would pay to advertise on my site, and I would make a living off of it.

I know. Wake Up. Come back to your home planet, Quirky.

This vision came to a screeching halt when I realized Dave and I just do not have the money to remodel, let alone photograph it and offer step-by-steps. I also don't technically live with Dave yet. I've always struggled with how much money and time to put into decorating a house that isn't yet my home. I love it at Dave's, and I find myself spending more and more time there, and it will be my home someday soon. But it's not. Yet. And so with the exception of our bedroom there, I've majorly held off on any purchases for our someday home.

And I thought that made for a boring blog. Except, I think I was wrong.

I like to write. I occasionally have interesting things to write about. So what if they're not about what counter top we're choosing for our kitchen. And so what if it is? I don't know when I got tied down to a theme for my blog (although ultimately I would like to someday have some cohesion!), but it's not for me now.

And so I'll write. When I want. When I can. It may be about dresser hardware. It may be about my students. It may be about those 8 or so pounds I want to use. Or the bathing suit I want. Or planning a wedding (someday!). Or Georgie (why should she only get one post?)

And I hope you'll read. But I'll understand if you don't.

Thanks for listening,

A. Quirky

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Perfect Valentine's Day

I've always been a fan of Valentine's Day. Always. Even the first 25 valentine-less Valentine's Days of my life. Yes, that's right, Dave is my first and only official Valentine. I like it that way.

And I also liked my Valentine's Day 2011. I loved it, actually. And I know why. It's because we didn't stress. We didn't search out the perfect restaurant. We didn't try in vain to snag reservations. I wasn't running through the department store hunting down the perfect gift because we weren't exchanging gifts.

We originally planned on cooking dinner. Then I got stuck at work and Dave didn't feel well. So we decided to get carry-out from a local restaurant, Redstone. Here's what you need to know about Redstone if you don't know already. It's delicious. And it's on the pricey end. But hey, it was Valentine's Day and we were treating ourselves.

We decided we'd try and find a seat at the bar, have a glass of wine, and order a delicious something or other to-go. But lucky us, the bar was surprisingly dead (couples prefer tables on V-Day, I know) and so after drink number one we decided to stay and eat there.

We consumed Buffalo Shrimp, Some Other Kind of Shrimp, and an Ahi Tuna appetizer. Oh, and a few glasses of wine. And it was lovely. I'm so glad we didn't plan any of it. There's no way it could've been as nice.

And the gifts we weren't buying? We bought them. Those were pretty lovely too. A FryDaddy for Dave. (Guys love deep frying things. Correction, I love deep frying things). But Dave's gift to me trumps mine to him (as usual): Cooking classes in Philadelphia for the both of us.

I am in love :)

Happy Valentine's Day, Belated. I hope you enjoyed yours, single or taken.


A. Quirky

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Restaurant Review: Tortilla Press

**I'd like to apologize in advance for the complete lack of photos. I didn't plan ahead and take photos last night and Tortilla Press' website doesn't have a single picture of anything we ate. (And I figured it'd be lame to post photos of something I'm not going to talk about!) Then, I almost posted a picture of the chef/owner, because he seems like a nice guy, but then we're really going into irrelevant territory!
Have I ever mentioned how much I looooove food? That I love to eat? That my favorite outings with Dave involve a restaurant? That I only pay attention to my groupon email if it has a deal for food?

If I haven't, I don't know how that slipped until now. I am a "live to eat" person. You know, as opposed to an "eat to live" person. Eating to live? How depressing. While none of this boasts well for my waistline, it most certainly does for my tastebuds.

Now, I'm no foodie, but I do eat out. A lot. Like at least twice a week. So I do feel informed enough to be able to review the places I eat. And so, onward to my first restaurant review...

The Tortilla Press is located in downtown Collingswood, a cute and quirky little town in South Jersey. The Tortilla Press has a lot going for it. It's popular (I'd been many times before, and Dave has a few as well.) It's good for groups (we went with two other couples), it's Mexican fare, and it's BYOB. A BYOB where you bring tequila. My kind of place.

The Tortilla Press has won many local awards. Best Suburban BYOB? Check. Best Mexican Restaurant? Check, check, and check. It's even won awards for "green" dining, and Best Entree from the Peanut Advisory Board. Now, how many places can claim that award? I'm gonna with it being for their Chipotle Peanut Pork.

In the interest of saving us all some time, I'm gonna from paragraph to bullet form to highlight what I loved, liked, and loathed (not really) about Tortilla Press during my most recent visit:

-BYOB. Anytime a restaurant is a byob I get pretty excited. I get to drink, and spend less money? Score! But when I can bring my own tequila and order Tortilla Press' virgin Margarita Mix...that's love.

-Guacamole. I make a pretty damn delicious guacamole. And with only two ingredients. TP's is much more complex, but oh-so-fresh. I could taste the lemon juice you normally add to guac to keep it fresh looking, but it wasn't overwhelming. I definitely ate more of my fair share of it.

-Free Dips. What do I love more than delicious food? Free, delicious food. And you get that the minute you sit down at TP. Warm tortilla chips, plus two salsas, and a bean dip. The bean dip is awesome, but my fave was the mild salsa, which was actually more like a pico de gallo. Yum. Yum. Yum.


-Crab & Avocado Quesadilla. I ordered this for my entree. Confession: I pretty much always order this for my entree. There's 2 reasons for this. One, I reallllly like it. Two, I'm not huge on Mexican side dishes, so it's silly for me two pay $20.00 an entree when I'll really only eat the main dish. This time around my quesadilla was pretty good. The filling was delicious, definitely stuffed with the good stuff (crab meat, cheese, and avocado). A lot of times I feel like restaurants skimp on the more expensive ingredients, so to have the quesadilla as full as it was left me feel like I was getting a good deal for around 9 bucks. While the filling was pretty much perfection, my quesadilla fell short when it came to the tortilla. I like my quesadilla shells crunchy and golden brown. My tortilla last night looked that it was either microwaved, or sat on the flat top for much too short of a time. You can bet I'll give TP another chance to make it up to me though :)

-The Ambiance. Most BYOBs in general are tight little spaces. And I don't think there's a spacious restaurant in downtown Collingswood, but that's fine with me, that's why I like them so much. They're so not commercial. Where I feel like TP fell short last night was the lighting. It was too bright. I like a dim, romantic light. In a place so small, darker lighter affords you more privacy than bright light does. Other than that it's an adorable place. I especially love the artwork by local artists on display, and for sale.

-The "other" entrees. Obviously, I wasn't the only person eating last night. Dave got the Habenero Shrimp, and we both thought the shrimp were delicious. (Side note, I come from a family that always eats off of each other's plates. Especially my mom and I. Dave does not. He learned quickly that when he orders dinner, he is in a sense ordering for both of us). So anyways, I stole a shrimp, and it was pretty dang yummy. The perfect balance of sweet and spicy. Where his dish left something to be desired was the sides. The mashed potatoes were oddly sweet, and dry. And his vegetable medley was pretty much straight up carrots. Carrots at a Mexican place? Weird, right?

The big hit at the table was the fish tacos. Two of the six of us ordered them, and both of the guys really liked them. We also had a chicken burrito and chicken fajitas at our table. My friends didn't say too much about it (and I had no idea I'd be writing this post to ask them), so I figured they liked it well enough. Nothing special enough to talk about I guess.

The Price: I'd say TP is pretty fairly priced. After we split our bill down the middle, it came to $45.00 per couple, tip included. And considering more than half the table, including myself, have waited tables in the past, I'd say we're pretty generous tippers. The fact that I didn't get an entree lowered our price a little bit, but in my opinion Mexican platters, especially those involving seafood, priced at $15-20 makes TP's pricing seem very fair.

Loathed (Not Really):

I say "Not Really" because I didn't loathe anything about TP. Plus, loathe goes a lot better with Love and Like than Didn't Like does. There was one thing I wasn't a huge fan of though...

The Bathrooms. There are 2 bathrooms in TP. One per dining room/area. In the area we were seated in, our bathroom was right by the kitchen and server's station. It was a very high traffic area in general, and with a constant line for a unisex bathroom, it got even more crowded. While I didn't love it, I also feel like it's a little unfair to complain. Going in to such a tiny place, you have to expect the bathroom situation to be exactly as it was.

Overall, I love TP, and will definitely be back. In the summer. When it's warm. And I don't have to climb over a mountain of iced over snow to get into my car. Margaritas are so much more appropriate in 80 degree weather anyways.

I give Tortilla Press a solid QQQQ (4 Qs for Quirky) out of 5.

Definitely check it out. (Like you haven't already)

A. Quirky

Saturday, January 29, 2011

(Kind Of) Cohabiting

(Is it a bad omen that I found this picture on a divorce site? Oops.)

So, for the past week or so Dave and I have found ourselves cohabiting. It wasn't really planned, and we're not sharing the bills or anything like that. Yet. Here's how it happened...

My family is originally from Ohio, and my grandfather and aunt still live there. Recently, my grandpa (here on out known as Ed) has been having some health issues. Complications from Congestive Heart Failure. My mom, bearing the guilt that only the oldest child can bear (I know this, b/c I am the oldest as well obvs...), decided she needed to go out there to help take care of all the things having an elder parents entails. I am glad she did. It was touch and go there for awhile, and I was ready to drive out myself. Ed is such a big, strong man, that we don't see him going anywhere anytime soon, despite his 90 years of age.

While she stays there helping out my aunt, I have been left the house to care for. This is good for many reasons: I feel like an actual 27 y/o having my own place, I don't have to unload the dishwasher the minute I get home from work, and no one nags me to wipe out the sink after I brush my teeth. There is a whole bunch of awesomeness to this living alone situation, but there is one big problem: I hate being alone. At night, specifically. And so, I won't. Enter Dave :)

Dave and I are now splitting our time between my house and his. 3 days here. 4 days there. Or 2 days here and 4 days there and 1 day here. However it ends up. It's a pain in the ass, packing bags, and lugging groceries back and forth (yes, we do), and not to mention Georgie's stuff!

And I kind-of like it. Granted, there was a moment last night where we were ready to sleep in separate rooms, if not separate houses...but I'm thinking of it all as a preview for what's ahead. And overall, we make it work. With the stress of the back and forth. So cheers to that!

Talk to me in two weeks. I hope I'm as satisfied and positive about this whole situation as I am today. I have a sneaking suspicion I will be :)

A. Quirky

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Quirky. But Not in a Good Way.

Phew, it's been awhile since I wrote. Sorry about that. Uninteresting personal stuff.

While I was gone though, I got a make-under. Do you remember Jane Magazine? I looooved Jane Magazine. But I wasn't quirky enough for it when I read it. One of the editors hosted a party and served Pimm's Cups. I had to google what Pimm's Cups were. And I still don't know what they are. Anyhoo...they did make-unders for girls who wore too much red lipstick and liquid eyeliner. And girls who teased their hair about 12 inches too high. I loved that part of the magazine.

Well, I got a make-under of my very own recently. And it wasn't on purpose. And I hate it.

It started with my hair. The lovely lady that usually does my hair is actually a friend of mine. And she had a lovely baby. Well, a handsome, lovely, baby, and she couldn't do my hair. So, she suggested her friend at the salon do it in her absence. I actually somewhat knew said friend, and she is also a very lovely lady. And she did a nice job, except I couldn't help but hear the tiny voice in my head saying, "Your hair is tinted orange. Your hair is tinted orange." I ignored the voice. It's pretty much always there. I can't always listen to it, how else would I teach kids how to draw line segments and identify a right angle?

So, I drove home, still ignoring the voice (how else could I order my dinner from Chipotle?), and showed my Mom. I told my Mom my hair was orange. She said it was Strawberry Blonde. Well, that worked for me. I loved Strawberry Blondes! They were adorable, pretty, dainty, and quirky! Perfect! I would now be all of those things.

Except I wasn't. My hair actually got orange-err. Well more carmellyyy. Which I also thought sounded cool. But not dainty or quirky. Sexy. Trendy. Perfect. I'll take sexy and trendy. Except...carmel just isn't my color.

I decided I'd fix my problem by making an appointment with Lovely Hairdresser #1 (Friday, where are youuuuu?) Problem Solved. Right? Well, sorta.

In the midst of all the hair drama I popped in my favorite nail place to get my eyebrows waxed. It's cheap ($7), and they do a really nice job 8 out of 10 of the times. And even those other 2 are pretty okay. Well, let's say this last time wasn't really nice, or pretty okay, or even okay. My eyebrows are practically gone! I should've known when the tweezing portion (my least favorite part) was taking waaaaay too long. Or when she handed me the mirror for only half a second to look. Of course I said, "Very nice job. Thank you!" I always say very nice job!

So now I'm walking around with an awkward hair color, and even more awkward eyebrows. Dave still loves me. People still look me in the eye. And my students don't run away when I greet them in the morning.

And I probably seem so shallow for even writing this, but I don't care. I wanted to vent about taking a step backward in my quest to become cutely quirky.

Thanks for Listening,

Not So Quirky

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Trifecta: Cheese, Mustard, and Puff Pastry

Havarti Cheese & Mustard Stuffed Pastry
(Italics makes it look fancy)

When I was younger my parents were very close friends with 2 other couples. We got together frequently, and this was an appetizer that one of the couples made every time. Every.time. Because it's delicious, and now that I make it, I suspect they also made it because it is the easiest thing in the world to make. Easier than a cheese and cracker tray. I. Swear.

Here's the ingredient list:

-1 Puff Pastry Shell
-2 tbsp Dijon Mustard
-1 tsp minced garlic
-1 tsp fresh horseradish
-1 block havarti cheese
-1 egg

(pretend there's an egg in this picture)

Here goes deliciously easy perfection:

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees

2. Unwrap your room temperature pastry shell. (If it is frozen it will break when you're working with it)

3. Place it in a lightly greased baking dish (the cuter, the better)

4. Grab the havarti cheese. Yum.

5. Place it in the center of the pastry.

6. Now, mix your Dijon Mustard, horseradish, and minced garlic.

7. Once it's all mixed together use a spoon to spread it on all 6 sides of the havarti.

8. Now, wrap the puff pastry as if you were wrapping a present. You are, really.

9. This includes the part of the pastry without filling as well.

9. Now, take an egg white, and use a pastry brush to "glaze" the outside of the puff pastry. The egg white will help keep the seams together, as well as help achieve the golden-brown oven look :)

10. Now, bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. You'll know this deliciousness is done when it has a golden brown appearance. I also like to see some cheese oozing out of it. It's better that way. Trust me.

Tell me that doesn't look delicious.

For you savvy "Where's Waldo Experts", you'll notice that my completed Havarti Specialty is now sitting on top of a different stove. That's because I started it at my house, and took it to Girl's Night, where it was promptly devoured. That's another beautiful thing about this dish. It's very, very easy to make and take.

Now go make. And possibly take.

-A. Quirky

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

"I Have Another Confession to Make..."

Actually, this is my first ever blog confession. That's just a line from a Foo Fighter's song. I'm so happy I used it because now it's stuck in my head. Come to think of it, Foo Fighters are like, almost always, in my head. I think it's Radio 104.5's fault. They're always playing Foo Fighters. David Grohl either owns Radio 104.5, or has serious stock in the company. I'm gonna look into that. But none of this has anything to do with what I am writing about today. I know. It's a problem. Imagine actually talking to me in person. I know. It's a problem.

Here's my actual confession: I bought Wedding Stationary. This is a problem because I don't have a wedding date. Even more so, I'm not even engaged. I am however, one of those girls. I read wedding blogs. I scout locations. I find bridesmaid dresses I like, and wonder to myself if they'll flatter all the different body types of girls that will be in my wedding. The wedding that hasn't been planned yet. Because I'm not engaged yet. Oh boy.
This is the first time, though, that I've purchased something for said imaginary wedding. There I was, wandering down the aisles of HomeGoods (that's a whole other blog) and all of the sudden three little orange boxes came tumbling down into my cart! Okay, not really, but I did find them by chance in the mirror aisle (another "wedding planning, not-yet-engaged bride", having second thoughts perhaps?). They were white. They were simple. They were cute. And they were EYELET! I looooove eyelet! It's like one of my top 5 adjectives! And better yet, they were cheap! Also one of my top 5 adjectives (the good cheap, not the bad cheap, just for clarification). Five dollars for a box of 40. I scooped up 3. Sorry 121st person/couple/family on my imaginary wedding list, you're not invited anymore.

I justify this semi-creepy act in many ways. One, they were so cheap, that even if I change my mind, I didn't blow a ton of money. Two, I have champagne taste on a TwoBuckChuck budget. This means when I actually get married, I'll have to "settle" on certain items when I'm wedding planning. Invitations are definitely one of those items for me. And most importantly, Dave and I talk about getting married. Well I talk. He listens. But I know its in our (not toooooo far off) future, which makes it less of an impulse buy.

I love eyelet, but me being me, I'd have to alter them in some way or another when the time comes (see, I know I'm not engaged yet!). I actually found a few cute ideas when I was googling an image for this post.

(I cannot take a picture of the ones I own because they are hidden somewhere deep in my closet for no one to find. I'll pull them out when I am actually engaged and say, "Oh lookie what I stumbled upon in HomeGoodes today!")

Anyways, I really liked what Cece, at Dill Pickle Picnic, did with her set:

(Image via Check out all the awesome crafts ideas she has while you're there)

She rounded the edges, added a flower graphic on top, and used a cute font. Definitely something to keep in mind.

So that's my "dirty little secret...I hope that you can keep it..."

Damnit. Another song stuck in my head,

A. Quirky

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