Monday, October 31, 2011

Welcome to Monica & Chandler's!

We made it!  We're IN our new home!  Thanks to the world's greatest friends our new place is painted, every last thing we own has been schlepped, furniture's assembled and beds are made.  It's a pretty exciting time here at Hotdish Central.  Every day one of us turns to the other to say "can you believe we own a house?"  Our first mortgage payment isn't due for a whole month so we are love-love-loving home ownership!

Do you know what that means for you?  In addition to our here-and-there ramblings about cooking, crafting, choral music, and canines, we'll have all sorts of home improvement and DIY projects to trot across the blog.  For our debut project, I'm only showing you the front door.  =)  

If you run in our circle of friends, chances are good that you can quote episodes of Friends like it's your job. Seriously, if some struggling cable network ever works up a Friends Trivia Hour our people will be the champs!  Move over, Ken Jennings, we've got the game show domination thing in the bag.  We spent the last couple years bringing Jimbo up to speed by rewatching the entire series, so it was his proud graduation from the Friends Academy when he suggested we frame our peephole.

Genius!  Why didn't I think of that? For a quick second we googled "Monica's Door Frame" and found that you can buy replicas online for upwards of $30.  Are you kidding?  I can do better things with that $30!  Perfect opportunity to do it ourselves. 

Enter the cheapo frame from TJ Maxx:

This gold finish did NOTHING for me so I took a page from Mrs. Lovely's book and bought sent Jimbo to Home Depot for my first can of spraypaint.  Even better?  He also picked up this swell plastic trigger.  Now my spray-finger won't be sore or covered in paint!  

One coat of Rust-oleum Colonial Red, a little double-sided adhesive tape, and done!

Mmmmmm....shiny & red.  These are good things.  

Never one to be left out of the action (but easily bribed with a biscuit to do what I ask of her), Sugar volunteered to show you our entry.  I once heard  that your photos should always have someone in them...
 Welcome!  Can't wait to peer through that cute peephole at all our future visitors.  

PS - you can have your own swell rug (in a few other nice colors) from Costco =)

PPS - I'm hoping to provide better photos (not taken with my phone) soon.  It's a long story for another time, but my camera took a swim this summer and I just got a replacement.  So glad Santa came early so I can really document important things like spray paint triggers!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Height of Rudeness

I have been rude.  I'm mortified.  And here's why...

In the process of packing up our house this week, I stumbled across two envelopes that had fallen behind my desk.  They were thank you notes from our wedding.  The one that happened nearly a year and a half ago.

They are written, sealed, and stamped.

Just never mailed.

Hence my mortification.

Martha Stewart should have me flogged.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Quick & Easy Brown Rice

We eat a lot of rice and, about two years ago, we switched to brown rice to be a little healthier. The only problem is that cooking brown rice takes 2-3 times as long as cooking white rice.  Throwing a quick stir-fry together is nearly impossible when the rice requires an hour to cook!  For those nights when we'd really like a quick side of rice, and don't have an hour to let it cook, we started buying Trader Joe's Frozen Brown Rice.
The box holds three microwavable packets - each with about two servings of rice.  Perfect for the two of us! $3.50 a box, the price of convenience seems a little steep.  So, we came up with a great cost-saving DIY solution.  Want to hop on board the frugalista bandwagon to make your own?  Read on!

Here's what you need:

  1. Long grain brown rice (I purchase in bulk. Cheap, cheaper, cheapest!)
  2. Bouillon of your choosing (we like Knorr's chicken or vegetable)
  3. Quart-sized freezer bags.  Regular sandwich bags don't hold up as well for this process.
  4. Rice maker {or a saucepan to cook your rice on the stove.  Stove-top cooking instructions can be found at the end of the post}

For our small rice cooker, I use two cups brown rice and one bouillon cube.  Knorr's cubes are double-sized, intended to be used with two cups of liquid.  If you are using smaller traditional buoillon, you may want two cubes.  It's really a matter of taste - I like a little flavor, but don't want it to overwhelm the main dish.

Add four cups of water.  Brown rice requires more water than white...keep your water-to-rice ratio at 2:1.

Pop on the lid and let this handy-dandy appliance do it's job!  An hour later your rice will be ready.

Allow the rice to cool a bit so you don't burn yourself (or melt your freezer bag!)

Divide the rice into 3-4 servings, putting each serving into a freezer bag.

Flatten the rice a bit so it fills the whole bag with a fairly uniform thickness.  This will make it easier to stack your bags in the freezer and will allow the rice to defrost evenly.  

Place the bags in your freezer.  When you are ready to use them, open the zipper about 1 inch (to allow the steam to vent) or just puncture the bag with a fork.  Microwave on high for about 4 minutes, and enjoy!

{Stove-top instructions}  
1.  In a medium saucepan bring 2 cups rice, 4 cups water, and one bouillon cube to a boil.
2.  Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook 55 minutes.  
3.  Remove from heat and fluff with a fork.   

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

So Long, Pharmies!

In keeping with our commitment to making 2011 the Year of Nothing {HA!}, I made the decision to leave my position in the OSU College of Pharmacy in August.  I spent eight great years as the Academic Advisor for the Pre-Pharmacy students, and had an outstanding experience.  But then opportunity knocked, and I was offered a position in OSU's College of Engineering.  So I took the leap and left the comfy job where I totally knew what I was doing and dove headfirst into the world of Engineering as Assistant Director of Undergraduate Programs.  I think it's gonna be awesome, but I have NO idea what I've gotten myself into.  Hello, steep learning curve!

The hardest part of leaving Pharmacy was definitely saying goodbye to my students.  Because it takes 7-8 years of school to become a pharmacist I had been advising some of those students for a long time.  I raised a few of 'em from pups!  I was touched by the outpouring of kind notes from the Pharmies when my departure was announced, and had to break my "no crying at work" rule a few times.  Those stinkers.

Last week marked my first full month in Engineering, and I got a surprise visit from a Pharmie bringing me the most wonderful gift.  The students had collaborated to make me a beautiful hard-bound photo book.

About 40 students submitted photos and letters remembering our time together and describing the impact I'd had on them.  Well cue the waterworks because I was wrecked! Only a month into the new job and I'm already crying at work.  Those stinkers.

I have absolutely loved my career as an Academic Advisor, and this is why.  I have the privilege of being invited along on the college journey with some awesome people who are in the process of deciding who they are and where they belong in the world.  There's never a dull moment.  And most importantly, there are moments like this one where I can see that I've made a difference.

(source: Pinterest)