Monday, December 26, 2011

Thanks for the Inspirado, Ana!

About a year and half ago, I stumbled upon Ana White’s website (via Facebook), and saw she had posted plans to a Play Kitchen for her daughter. I showed the LOML, and we were like “Awwwwwwww, I totally need to build that for Ru when she’s a little older” . . . fast forward to Fall 2k11, and it got real . . . It was time for me to build Ru a Play Kitchen for Christmas!

Here’s what my first (of many) trip to Lowe’s looked like. Ana’s plans are awesome because she gives you the exact cut list for each board. I won’t say these plans are exactly step by step (you have to infer a little bit), but her drawings are great, and I think most anyone could follow them.

I’m by no means a carpenter, but I was able to assemble the sink, stove, and fridge “boxes” in a few Sunday afternoons . . . November was kind of a blur, but eventually we got them primed, and then the LOML did most of the painting 2 weeks ago. My bro-in-law, Christian (who has also been featured on Ana’s blog here) cut the hole for the sink and showed me how to install the euro-style cabinet hardware. Honestly, I couldn’t be more pumped with how everything turned out:

And here’s the whole kitchen, set up before Christmas morning!!!

Ru has really been enjoying her kitchen so far (she loves making smoothies!!!). I can’t wait to watch her (and her sister!!!!) cook for many years to come!!

* Sorry for the iPhone picts

** Don't call this a comeback

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Busy Season 2k11 . . . j/k! lolz!

Alright. I’ve been meaning to give you readers some type of update or closure or something since I abruptly ceased blogging back in the fall . . . I guess the biggest update from the last few months is I got a new job (cue Hallelujah chorus!!!!). But seriously, public accounting was very good to me the last 5 years, and without it I wouldn’t be in the position I am today. But I am FREAKING PUMPED to be starting 2011 without the dread of another busy season. If I want to take a Friday off to head down to the Fantasy Baseball Draft early, I can. And if I want to take a week off for spring break, I can. And if I want to take a day off to celebrate my sweet baby girl’s birthday, I can (and planning on it!).

It was actually a pretty long process “changing careers” (or rather my career-path) and I feel like I learned a lot through all the networking, interviewing, researching etc. A big hat tip to sites like the HR Capitalist, and anyone else who gave me 15 minutes to pick their brain. Recruiting was always one of my favorite parts of public accounting, and I’d love to share my thoughts/experiences with anyone else who is looking to transition down the road, etc.

Speaking of interviews, here’s reason #381 why my wife is the coolest and I love her to pieces. Back in July, she was leaving to go out of town the day before I had a big interview (not with my current employer, but one I REALLY wanted to work for at the time), so she went to Icing on the Cookie and left me this note:

Isn’t she awesome?

Ok, so I promise not to drone on and on about my job change, but I do have one book recommendation for anyone interested. Check out Strengths Finder 2.0. Basically, the book talks about how we should be focusing on finding work that utilizes our “natural” talents/strengths (and we should be working to improve those strengths), rather than trying to improve upon our weaknesses. Makes sense, seeing you’re more likely to “enjoy” improving on something you’re already inclined/interested in rather than getting frustrated when you’re not “succeeding” at something you probably won’t be able to master in the first place.

The book (and on-line assessment) gives examples of what your strengths might look like in “real-world” situation and gives tips on finding work/careers that utilize those strengths. There are 34 different strengths/talents, and my five (everyone has 5) were Analytical, Input, Learner, Intellection, and Connectedness. I can DEFINITELY see how my current job is fostering the development of these 5 talents and I’m excited to see what the future holds! (not that public accounting wasn’t necessarily doing this, but I digress) . . .

Ok, so I was planning on turning this post into a big 4 month catch-up and maybe talk about my High School reunion or how we went to Disney World/Harry Potter or how I (re)signed up for Twitter, but it’s getting late, and Birmingham is in the middle of a BLIZZARD, so I should probably hit the hay . . . but oh yeah:

War Cam Eagle!

PS - I met Verne Lundquist over Thanksgiving!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Cookies ‘n Cardio

Just because I haven’t been posting, doesn’t mean we haven’t been cooking. It’s been a busy Summer (err, Fall??) and I want you to know, that I know, that you know it’s been a while.

But if you do need a TMF’H-related culinary fix, lemme suggest my lovely and talented sister, Laurie! (pictured circa 1987?)

She started a food and healthy-lifestyle blog, Cookies 'n Cardio, back in August, and I think you’ll really dig it!! She’s also big on tweeter-space, if that’s what you’re into.

BTW – the pizza recipe she posted today is really tasty. We had it when she came to visit the LOML and SBG back in August!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Do Fun Stuff

You already know I'm a big fan of Pacing the Panic Room. Well today Ryan Marshall has released Do Fun Stuff a "Kids Record For Parents" to support a really worthy cause:



100% of the proceeds from the sale of this album goes to a grant fund Ryan established with PRISMS. The money will be made available to grad students who wish to make SMS their field of choice, the benefit of this is more hard research being done, which leads to more case studies, which leads to more answers for parents and researchers.

The LOML and I picked it up on iTunes this weekend and you should definitely check it out!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Yo Quiero Taco Truck

Friday for lunch, I finally got around to trying West Valley’s infamous Taco Truck (check out AL Eats for their full review). I had one asada, chorizo and al pastor taco and they were all amazing! It was a pretty chill atmosphere (I was the only “gringo” there for the first 15 minutes), no tables, and you just set your drink on the side of the truck. I don’t know if I’d call this (area) “family friendly” (I think the LOML would definitely be scared), but if you and your bros are looking for a place for to get some authentic Mexican “street” tacos, you need to check it out (I bet it’s even better in the Fall, when it’s not 100 some odd degrees out). I didn’t want to kill the mood (and prove to the regulars that I was a newbie), so I didn’t take a picture til I was driving away (but I think this gives you a better idea).

This weekend, Jay and I also took a bro-mantic weekend to PCB, and the highlight (dining-wise*) was Friday night at J. Michael’s. Jay mentioned before that the “Ultimate” roast beef would put Parasol’s to shame . . . and he was right. This sandwich was the JAM!! I couldn’t really tell you that the beef itself was that tasty, but the pepper gravy and onions made the sandwich. (the Pepper (Cole) Slaw was also really good). Just thought you should know in case there were any roast beef bets that needed to be settled.

* Next time you see Jay, get him to tell you the Duncan Donuts Icing story.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Bella Famiglia

I’m not usually one to do (post) this, but I can’t help myself:

I have the most beautiful family in the whole world.

(I took this on Sunday and now have it set as the background on my computer desktop. Hope you enjoy the non-blacked out eyes)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Hi

(pleasantry, pleasantry, excuse for absence, promise to update more, etc.)

I’ve got to brag on the LOML for a minute. Yesterday afternoon, she said she had a special meal planned for dinner, and that it would be a surprise (don’t worry, it wasn’t baby carrots, baby shrimp and baby back ribs).

When I got home, the house smelled great and she had a giddy sense of accomplishment because she knew she just made something awesome . . . and she was right!!

My dear wife roasted a whole chicken with lemons and onion (a ‘la Barefoot in Paris) and served it with an arugula salad with homemade lemon vinaigrette!!!! (BTW, the salad had sungold cherry tomatoes (from Snow’s Bend) and they were the sweetest tomatoes I’ve ever tasted)

I’M SO PROUD OF HER!!!!

After dinner, we decided to try the new Yogurt Lab in Vestavia . . . Amazing!!!! As you may have noticed, there has been a recent surge (over-saturation??) of self-serve yogurt shops in Birmingham in the last year (Thanks for spotting an opportunity, Yogurt Mountain), but I think Yogurt Lab is leading the pack (I’ve only tried YM, TYS, and Tuttie Frutti (Auburn)). The space was huge and the (fresh) topping selections were better than what I’ve seen elsewhere. We are definitely going back this weekend.

PS – Sorry for the iPhone picts. I've left my DSLR @ the office this week while I’ve been taking company headshots for LinkedIn, promotional press, etc.

Monday, June 28, 2010

José, Can You See??

This weekend Charlie & Courtney invited us to tag along on the tail end of their 5 Year Anniversary ATL weekend . . . to the BRAVES GAME on Sunday!!! I think I’ve been to 2 or 3 Braves games (the last one about 6 years ago), but nothing like this. Our seats came with access to the 755 Delta Club where we ate lunch overlooking the Outfield (BTW, the “Knucksie” was the jam!!)

But nothing has ruined me for watching a baseball game like these seats!!! 4th row, behind home plate!!! These were seriously AWESOME!!

The Braves ended up losing, but we had a great time. And I felt like I was 8 years old. Charlie & Courtney, thank you for the best 5 Year Wedding anniversary present a boy could ask for!!!

In true narcissistic fashion, when we got home, I promptly checked the TV guide to see when the replay came on (luckily, the game was blacked out live).

We watched a little of it tonight after the Bachelorette (OMG!!!!), but got kinda bored after 10 minutes. You can only say “Hey, there we are!!!!” so many times.

Do you see me taking the picture that I posted above???

PS – Who knew there were so many Detroit Tigers fans in ATL??? I felt like it was split 70/30??

Monday, June 14, 2010

Shawty

This post goes out to a dear friend . . . my trusty old fratagonia* shorts!

Remember
last year, when I said I should come up with a book of items that “I can’t wear anymore”???

I bought these at Kinnucan’s (?) in early Summer 2003 (I’m pretty sure it was during summer term at AU). For shorts they were pretty expensive (I think they were in the $50 range), but I liked em, and looking back it’s been a pretty good investment. I bet I’ve worn these over 200 times (at least 5 times a month, 6 months out of the year, for the last 7 years), and I know you can’t tell, but they used to be dark olive green.

Over the years, they’ve started to fray and the last few months have seen some pretty bad rips/holes in the “knees” (yes, I know shorts are already cut-off at the knees, but work with me here). Well, last weekend, I decided to pull the plug and turned these into cut-offs. I can’t show you the after picture (this is a family blog) as they are even shorter, and the LOML has made it clear they should not be for public consumption. I still think I can mow the (back) yard in them, but we’ll see . . .

I love you Patagonia shorts. You’ll be missed.

* If I haven't already, remind me to tell you my "Beta" story the next time I see you. It's the LOML's favourite!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Blogger Street Café

When I was in high school, I worked (so did Harden!) at a bagel shop that made THE BEST chicken salad in Memphis. I don’t know if they were ever actually awarded that distinction, but it was a HUGE seller and seriously tasty*. Lucky for me (and you), I was able to get the recipe and it’s been a personal favorite ever since.

Since this is the first week of the LOML’s summer (permanent) vacation, we did a little meal planning on Sunday, and thought we’d whip up some of this tasty chicken salad to munch on all week.

TMF’H Chicken Salad (adapted from anonymous Bagel café)
4-5 lbs chicken breast
1 C sliced almonds
1 lb sliced (halved) grapes
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp garlic powder (we were out, so I used 1 tsp fresh chopped garlic)
2 tsp thyme
1 C (light) sour cream
2 C (light) mayo

So I used these five MONSTER chicken breasts (from a local meat distributor) that probably weighed about a pound each, and poached (or boiled, rather) them until they were cooked through. After letting them cool off a little bit, I chopped/shredded the chicken, and then let them cool some more.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “That is a **** ton of sour cream and mayo!!!!”

I know. It looks a little much. But here’s what I’d do. After the shredded/chopped chicken has completely cooled off, I’d mix in the sliced almonds and grapes and then combine all the other ingredients in a separate bowl. Then I’d fold in the mayo/sour cream mixture in small batches until you get the consistency you want. When you’re finished, throw it in the fridge and you’ve got chicken salad GOLD that should last you (at least!) a week.

In addition to having this for lunch most of this week, we had this for dinner with the LOML’s homemade pita chips and organic baby carrots (on sale @ Publix). The LOML can make some mean homemade pita chips.

* For comparisons sake, this is probably closest to Birmingham’s O’Carr’s chicken salad vs. a Zoe’s or some other sub-par version.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

If You Like Swiss Chard Frittatas and Getting Caught in the Rain

These 2 week breaks are becoming familiar, aren’t they?? Oh well, I’m back and I’ve got tasty produce to share:

Week 5’s CSA Bounty (picked up and photographed about 10 days ago)

'Panisse' Lettuce
Mixed Head Lettuce
Rainbow Chard
Strawberries
Snow Peas
Cilantro
Bok Choy
Baby White Turnips

Week 5’s selection was awesome! I think my favorite items were the snow peas, but my first experience with rainbow (Swiss) chard was pretty fulfilling, too. When I searched for a good rainbow chard recipe, frittatas seemed to be a common suggestion, so I thought “Hey Family, let’s get classy and make a Sausage, Mushroom, Feta and Rainbow Swiss Chard frittata for dinner!!”

After cooking some Italian sausage (about a pound) in our skillet (sadly, we didn’t have a cast iron skillet handy. . . R.I.P. Great Smokey Mtn skillet – thanks, Colton!), we set the meat aside and sautéed the chard stems and mushrooms in the sausage drippings (flavor!) with a little extra olive oil. So colorful, right??

After a few minutes, the LOML threw in the chard leaves and cooked those down (much like spinach, the leaves cook/shrink down pretty nicely). Here she is admiring our sweet baby girl (in her bouncy seat) while managing the skillet. 2 days as a S.A.H.M. and she’s already a pro at multi-tasking!!

After all the veggies were cooked, we added the sausage back to the pan, added some feta cheese (not much was in the fridge) and 6 beaten eggs. In my mind, I thought the 6 eggs would fill this pan up to the side, but as you can see, the pan looks pretty empty. Kinda pitiful looking, isn’t it?

Well 30 minutes in the oven at 375 though sure puffed everything up! I will say that since there wasn’t that much egg, 30 minutes was WAAAAAAAAAY more time than necessary and the egg formed more of a crispy (browned) crust. If I could do it over, I’d pick a smaller pan, double the eggs (or halve the filling) and then check it around 20 minutes.

Either way, for my first frittata, I thought dinner was a success. And we stayed classy . . . Where are my cuff links and boat shoes??

Friday, May 14, 2010

In the Summertime when the Weather is High . . .

Sooooooooooooooooooooo, I’m sure you’ve noticed I really haven’t felt too bloggy lately. Wish I had more pictures of what we’ve been up to the last month, but you’ll have to settle for this:

We dedicated our sweet baby girl to the Lord last Sunday (Happy Mother’s Day). She (the LOML and my daughter) is the best!!! And at her doctor’s check-up today, she’s in the 95% for weight (my daughter, not the LOML)!!

I bought my ticket this week to see the Pains of Being Pure at Heart and Surfer Blood @ the Bottletree next month!!! Now I just need to find my Smiths’ Singles cd to get pumped up. (HT: Will)



I just changed most of the privacy setting (and profile information) on Facebook (and I’ve really toyed with the idea of deleting my account . . . Oh No, He didn’t!! Oh Yes, He might??). Still haven’t seen the South Park episode about FB, but I’ve heard it’s pretty funny.

I just ordered a new shoot-through umbrella and bounce reflector!!! I have some shoots scheduled in the next few months (I also have bad G.A.S.)

I’m still trying to hit up Planet Fitness (more than once a week), but haven’t really dropped any lbs. Probably because I make stuff like this.

If you’re bored and looking for some new sites to add to your RSS feed, check out these out, I've happened upon in the last month or so:

Both Sides of the Table
Entrepreneur turned VC, Mark Suster’s thoughts on all things Start-Up, Technology, etc.

Going Concern
Accounting News & Gossip (I can’t think of a topic most of you would be less interested in)

Friday, May 7, 2010

Baah-zill

2 weeks huh??? Anyways, I’m back and wanted to share what we received from CSA week 3!!! (we’re splitting (alternating weeks) our share with good friends, Grantham & Liz)

Spring onions
Bok Choy (ironic?)
Spinach
Salad Mix
Strawberries

Also, call me crazy, but I’ve really wanted to try out a Basil smoothie. I got a few basil plants a couple weeks ago at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens plant sale, and they’ve come along nicely. Since I usually throw in a TON of baby spinach, and lately been adding avocado to my smoothies, I thought “What the heck?” Let’s go all-in crazy????

First, if you’re not adding baby spinach to your smoothies, you really are missing out. You don’t taste ANYTHING but you get all sorts of good vitamins, healthy stuff, etc. Also, avocado adds a whole new level of creaminess (sort of ice-creaminess), and again, you don’t taste any avocado flavor. Alright, here’s what my green Basil smoothie included

OJ
Vanilla yogurt (I froze some in the ice tray last week)
Spinach (a lot)
Sweet Basil (9 leaves - fresh)
½ Avocado (frozen)
1 Tbs (generous) Peanut butter
I also added some frozen honey dew and cantaloupe pieces after it had been blending.

Ok, full disclosure. This was just alright for me dawg. I got a faint basil flavor, but it didn’t really impress or wow me. Honestly, skip the basil, add a little more fruit, and enjoy. It was a fun green color though . . . (Sarah & Chad, you should make this for the kiddies!)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Eat Your Veggies!

Can you tell we’ve been watching Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution????

But seriously, if you haven’t been watching this show (SEASON FINALE TONIGHT), you need to visit ABC’s website and watch all (six) episodes for free (with limited commercial interruptions). Sure it’s got some Extreme Home Make Over, heart-string pulling moments, but the message is great and it’s done really well. And how can you not like anything done with a British (faux Cockney) accent???

If you have been watching, I’m sure you’ve noticed Jamie is a BIG FAN of (lovely) stir fries! Soooooo, a few nights ago, the LOML and I were inspired to do the same. This was my first time cooking with bok choy and I was impressed. I probably would have tossed out the greens, but a quick search on the handy iPhone revealed you can eat those too.

Nothing too precise here. Just bok choy, onion, green bell pepper and zucchini, with beef marinated it in a combination of Teriyaki sauce, Rice wine vinegar, Hoisin Sauce, Fish Sauce, Sesame Oil. Oh yeah, and we served this on a bed of cellophane noodles . . . Tasty.

Yesterday was also the first day of our CSA through SNOW’S BEND FARM!!!! Check out the first week’s bounty!!!

Mustard Greens
Salad Mix
Baby Turnips
Radishes
Arugula
Carrots

We’re such TREE HUGGERS!!!!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

We might be Vanilla

Happy April 15th, American Taxpayer . . .

Boom. Roasted.

Have fun at your Tea Parties!! Look out for Sarah Palin (‘s brother and father??)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Who is Sergey Chilikov??

A few years ago, I was really drinking the p4k kool-aid on this new band, Beruit. “They” were the brainchild of 19 year old Zach Condon, who recorded Gulag Orkestar in the bedroom of his parents' New Mexico house. How he recreated the sounds of 19th Century Eastern Europe on a MacBook, I’ll never know, but I was really digging it and streamed their MySpace tracks while prepping tax returns in the Spring of 2006. I ended up buying that first record, but when I played it for the LOML, she thought it was kinda scary and all the chantings/old-world music* reminded her of Muslim Jihadists (I’ll admit that not all of their songs are as cheery/pop-friendly as “Postcards from Italy”).

Well, this weekend, the LOML and I took our little one to the 12th Annual Lebanese Food & Cultural Festival at St. Elias Maronite Church! A friend of mine at work is a HUGE FAN and I was really bummed we missed it last year. My wife is such a good sport, that we didn’t make the same mistake twice.

I ordered the BEIRUT CLASSIC (Deluxe Baked Kibbee Plate) which included baked kibbee, grape leaves, spinach pie, rice, green beans (Ioobia), Lebanese Salad, and pita bread. The LOML had DJAJ MISHWI (Grilled Chicken Plate) which had half a grilled lemon chicken, rice, green beans (Ioobia), Lebanese Salad, and pita bread.

To me, there seems to be a lot of similarities between Greek and Lebanese food. I’ve ordered Kibbee (which kinda reminds me of Lebanese Meatloaf) at the Olive Branch in Cahaba Heights before, but I think my favorite dish was the green beans. They were in a tomato based sauce and had CINNAMON, which was kinda funky, but still tasty.

Apparently, there are a ton of Lebanese food fans in BHM, because St. Elias was packed. Even though the meals were a little pricey ($15 for the BEIRUT CLASSIC) I had enough leftovers for dinner last night. PLUS it’s all for a good cause. I’m glad to see so many folks supporting local events like this, and I really want to keep taking our sweet little baby to stuff like this as she gets older.

After lunch, we took a quick tour of their sanctuary which featured some impressive stained glass. You’ve probably driven past St. Elias hundreds of times and didn’t know it. It’s located right off I-65 in Southside and you can see the steeple from the interstate.

* BTW, I saw Hawk and a Hacksaw open for WILCO last spring. They were gimmicky/redundant. Not sure I’d go see Beruit play live . . .