Friday, October 30, 2015

Hometown Food Weekend

Being a transplant is an amazing life. You leave your hometown and you can go literally wherever life takes you.  There are things you miss though like family, friends, and favorite haunts.

What I also really miss from Springfield, MO is the food--the trashy, faux ethnic food that I grew up eating.  That's why I decided that one weekend in September, I would recreate my three most favorite dishes, the ones I miss the most, here in CA.

1.  The Mexican Villa Burrito Enchilada Style (including the complimentary MV chips and dip):

Mexican Villa is a Springfield chain, not authentic by any stretch of the imagination (which I completely came to terms with when I looked over the copy cat recipes I found online) but hearty and yummy all the same.

Now, the burrito enchilada style is a mammoth burrito stuffed with refried beans, seasoned ground beef, and cheese served drowning in MV signature enchilada sauce and topped with shredded iceberg lettuce, diced tomatoes, and (you guessed it) more cheese.  Here's the recipe I started from (though I never use low-fat cheese and I adjusted the seasoning until I felt I had it just right.)  Here's what we served on the first evening of SGF Food Weekend!



It's much more appealing than it might look in this picture, though the original would be served with approximately 8 zillion more cups of sauce.

For the chips, we used the sauces that you can buy online (eep!) and basically turned a blind eye to the alarming amounts of sugar and preservatives in them.


You basically create your own mix from Sweet, Mild, and Hot.  Sweet and Mild are both Sweet and even Eddy agrees that Hot is freaking hot.  Then insert chips.

2.  Springfield Style Cashew Chicken:

Night two was Springfield style cashew chicken, which was invented at Leong's Asian Diner, and which is beginning to have a national reputation (odd as that may seem.)  It's arguably the most Americanized Chinese food available and it's a total phenomenon.  This is the recipe we worked from, though there really isn't much variation among the recipes you can find online.  Eddy helped this time.


And here it is all plated up.


As you can see, one of the advantages of making your own cashew chicken at home is that you can have as many green onions and cashews as you please (we prefer LOTS!)

3.  Andy's Frozen Custard Pretzel Caramel Crunch:

We saved one of my favorites for the finale of our weekend of Springfield eats--the pretzel caramel crunch from Andy's Frozen Custard.

Now, I'm going to be real about frozen custard that is not from Andy's.  I've never found one that is quite as thick or flavorful.  Even though I will always have a soft spot for my beloved Ted Drewe's in St. Louis, there's just nothing like Andy's.

The pretzel caramel crunch is simple, but ingenious.  It's just vanilla custard, caramel, and pretzels.  That's it.  But it's salty and sweet and cold and crunchy and it's basically heaven.

The good news is that we do have a favorite custard place here in CA called Campbell's Creamery.  Now, of course they have caramel, but no custard joint I've ever experienced has pretzels, so we just brought our own.


Rumor has it that a just a couple of days after this photo was taken we returned to the scene of the crime to polish off the second half of the bag of pretzels we bought along with some more caramel and vanilla custard.  Allegedly.

Friday, October 23, 2015

The Love of A Family Makes a House a Home

Recently when my Uncle Wayne was having some health problems, I thought it would be nice to send him a quilt.  After much conspiring with my mom, I picked out a pattern I thought he would like and some fabrics I thought he might appreciate.


He's color blind, so I wanted to stick mostly to grays to force myself to really concentrate on contrast, texture, and pattern more than color. I thought I'd make some little houses.


Little rows of houses.


The piecing was pretty straight forward, but I wanted to do some really special quilting for this project.


I did some pretty basic stuff on the houses themselves.


But then I added a sunrise.


Then I used these sparkle stickers to trace a special message.


Then I used my very fancy free motion sewing machine foot for the very first time to quilt the letters into the border.



Here's the finished quilt!


The back:


And the front:


The love of a family makes a house a home!

Friday, October 16, 2015

The Mom Visit

Recently (well, okay, a long time ago because it took me forever to get around to blogging about this) my mom came to town for a visit.



We took a bunch of goofy pictures and giggled endlessly at them.

Mostly we spent loads of time playing with the dogs and hanging out in the pool, but we also ate at a couple of really neat restaurants. First of all, we ate at the Grand View which was perched atop a mountain and was reached via a nauseating mountain drive (I was the only one who got sick.) I do have to admit, though, that the view was worth it.



Also, the food was not too shabby.


We also tricked Roy's at Pebble Beach into celebrating my birthday (definitely not my birthday).


After a predictably delicious dinner, we enjoyed a little stroll along the beach.



Also, we saw LOTS of fuzzy bunnies. Go team!


We went out to Monterey and, of course, saw our friends.


Also, we visited our Voltar friend.


Also, Miss Kitty!


And many hats were tried on in stores.


So many hats.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Vintage Strawberry Shortcake

One day I found a vintage 1980s Strawberry Shortcake sheet at a thrift store for $2.  It screamed to me "QUILT BACKING!"  I therefore bought this pattern and pulled out my fabric stash.





Here they are all pieced together.


Pink border:


Flower border:


Here I am quilting it up. I mean here's Rupert. Helping. Or interfering. Or whatever.


I decided to bind it using the trimmings from the sheet.


Here it's time to baste.


And here's the quilt all finished.



My favorite part, though, is the back.


Can't say that about many quilts.

Friday, October 2, 2015

A Decade of Photo Shoots

Recently Eddy and I realized we've been together almost a decade (married 5 years.)  We figured that's sort of a big deal, so we have a lot of fun adventures planned over the next few months.

When we found out that our friends Emily and Neal were coming to San Francisco and that Emily was going to do some photo shoots while she was here, we thought it would be awesome to kick off our 10 year celebration with some fun pictures.  The last time Emily took our photos was for our elopement:

6.6.2010 035

There's Emily hard at work.


And there's Neal (he married us!).


And here we are aboard the Maid of the Mist on Niagara Falls tying the knot. (We totally did it before we found out about Pam and Jim, btw.)

Emily also photographed our family ring ceremony in St. Louis:


There's Neal doing that marrying us thing again (this time with bunny ears!)



It only seemed appropriate to do a photo session with Emily and Neal 10 years later. This time we picked a sunny spot in SF.

And we brought books.


And we brought quilts.




And we skipped about and generally behaved like dorks.



She even got some cute ones of us individually (which is harder to do than you might think.)



We even snuck a picture or two of Emily and Neal that day.



If you like the beautiful pictures Emily took, you should also check out the blog post she made about the photo shoot. It's awesome (and was posted in a much more timely manner than this one!)