What’s a good Valentine’s Day movie to see?

Before Drew and I went out for dinner, we went out for brunch with Jillian and Steve and then caught this movie to finish up our double-date. Okay, it’s not a romantic, lovey-dovey movie, but it’s fun and exciting and predictable (but in a good way). It’s not as good as the first one, obviously (I think that one’s so good because he’s in such a limited space with only his wits and whatever resources [i.e., weapons and explosives] he can find), but it’s still good action movie fun. Bruce Willis remains likeable (despite being a Republican) and John McClane is cool as ever. This one sees him joining forces with his son and I’m hoping that the next one will be a daddy/daughter crime-fighting movie – that would be cool! There’s nothing too hard to think about here – it’s a Die Hard movie, you know what you’re going to get – but it’s a perfectly fun way to waste an afternoon.

Valentine’s Day (observed) nails!

Drew and I went out to Radio Maria for dinner last night and I used it as an excuse to get dressed up which, of course, included doing my nails! I decided to go with red nails with a glittery red stripe:

That’s Sally Hansen’s Honeymoon Red and Covent Garden Market by Nails, Inc. As soon as I was finished I realized my mistake – the opposite of a red nail with a glittery red stripe is a glittery red nail with a plain red stripe, not a red nail with a vertical glittery stripe. Silly me! Well, I’ll know for next time, at least.

I’ve been putting this off for a couple of reasons…

Love Is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield

Mostly, writing this review is making me feel like I’m a pretty bad person. The author’s love for his wife and his grief at her loss really comes through and I appreciated Sheffield being so open and honest in his writing. And, I’ll admit it, I cried pretty darn hard during the chapters dealing with his wife’s death and his grieving process, but mostly I just couldn’t identify with either Sheffield or Renee. It may be because they are infinitely cooler than I’ll ever be, at least when it comes to music and being on top of the Next Big Thing – or it may be because they’re just enough older than me that even though I recognize some (about half, I’d say) of the bands and songs Sheffield mentions, I wasn’t grown-up enough to have the same sorts of memories associated with them that they do. I’m not sure I’m being clear – basically, when Sheffield and Renee were busy being a broke newlywed couple drinking beer and listening to The Smiths or Nirvana, I was a junior high kid singing along to Mariah Carey.

If you’re 10 years older than I am or you have an older sibling who was 10 years older than I was, you’ll probably find yourself liking Sheffield and Renee a lot better than I did. No matter how old you are, though, it will make you think about the fragility of life and love and cry a bit about it.

My rating: B-

Yummy salmon and broken hearts…

My addiction, Buzzfeed, posted yet another fantastic list of one-pan dinners. The first of many that I decided to try was the Pan Roasted Salmon-and-Bread Salad and it was super tasty! And super easy and relatively quick. We used frozen salmon fillets that had their skin on, so Drew took one for the team and took the skin off and chopped the salmon up for me (I can eat fish and cook with it, but I can’t touch it – learned that the hard way!). Everything else came together in no time and by the time I was out of the shower, it was time to eat.

I have a sneaking suspicion that it won’t be as nice tomorrow as leftovers, but it was soooo good this evening!

In the spirit of all things Valentine’s Day, I wanted to try Smitten Kitchen’s White- and Dark-Hearted Brownies. The brownies and blondies turned out very well, but my little set of heart cookie cutters were every just so slightly the wrong size – the middle one was a smidge too big and the small one was so small that you couldn’t really tell it was a heart:

I only switched centers on those two that I took pictures of (I’d cut out the middle of all the brownies, but once I saw how they were going to turn out, I just gave up on the blondies and put the centers back in the brownies. As far as flavor goes, they’re both really good – I think I prefer the blondies (but that may be because I totally overdosed on chocolate at dinner on Saturday).

The last of the Valentine’s Day decorations (…probably)

There is still a mobile that I wanted to make with a combination of knitted hearts and sewn hearts, but it’s getting down to the wire and I’m not sure I’ll have time to finish them – something to look forward to next year! In the meantime, however, I’ve been plugging away on some other crafts that I’ve finished up and I’m quite proud of them. All of these crafts came from that same Buzzfeed post about DIY heart projects – I’ll have to see what they post as a round-up of spring/Easter crafts (although Drew already says that cotton ball bunnies stuck to construction paper aren’t allowed in the living room).

I made heart garlands to hang on my bookshelves:

Then I adapted this pixelated heart card

so that I could hang them on my wall next to the string art:

And finally, I made a heart pinata (I’m not going to use it as a pinata, of course). Mine is a bit smaller than the one the original poster made, but I like it!

Good times and new nails!

Last night, Drew and I drove to the next city over to go on a double date with some friends of ours, Rachel and her fiance, Scott. We went for a lovely dinner and then out for a drink afterwards. It was really fun to get to eat some good food (crab-stuffed shrimp FTW!) and have a good chat with good friends.

And because we were going out and dressing up a tiny bit, I had to paint my nails! I decided to use my reinforcement stickers and do a homemade French tip:

It’s so hard to get a photo that shows the polish colors accurately! In person, this is a little brighter red (it’s actually the same red that was on my pinky finger in this post) – it’s Urban Outfitters’ Blood for the base and OPI’s What’s a Tire Jack? for the black French tip.

The end of an era!

Thursday was a melancholy day. I got to hang out with Jillian, watch TV, and eat lots of yummy, yummy food. How could that be melancholy, you ask? The TV we were watching was the series finale of 30 Rock. It just won’t be Thursday without Liz and co.! But like I said, we consoled ourselves with as much food as possible. As usual, she made the savory (the wonderful, fabulous Cheesy Bread – no one makes it quite like Jillian does!) and I was in charge of the sweet (I made Homemade Funfetti Cupcakes).

I’m sad to see it go, but it’s always nice when series go out while they’re still good instead of just fading away. And unlike some shows I could mention *cough*BattlestarGalactica*cough*, I was happy with the final episode as a series wrap-up. I’ll miss you, Liz Lemon, but at least I still have Parks and Rec to keep me warm at night.

So I mentioned…

…that it was my dad’s birthday last week. We headed over to celebrate with my parents and grandparents on Friday and it was my job to make the cake. Surprise, surprise, right? I went with a Spiced Carrot Cake With Orange Cream Cheese Frosting. Holy cats, this is a good cake!

And I don’t even like carrot cake that much, but something about this recipe just kept calling my name until I finally caved and gave it a try. It did not disappoint – it’s moist, sweet (but not too sweet) and the orange frosting is the perfect complement (it has twice as much grated ginger as it does orange zest, but I could only taste the orange – my theory is that the ginger cuts the sweetness of the powdered sugar a bit). And it’s got carrots, so it’s good for you, right?! Alas, I’m still getting into the swing of blogging again and forgot to take a picture of the whole cake at the time, so I just have this sort of sad photo of the leftovers that Drew and I had this evening. Don’t let it put you off – this cake is super!

Claire, I made a risotto!

You’d be so proud of me! It was going to be a weird lobster pate risotto (Drew’s brother gave him a bunch of intriguing food products – the white grits was one of them – and another was a tin of lobster pate), but the pate was just a little too weird for both of us. Even the cats didn’t want it! So the risotto became a clearing-the-fridge risotto instead. I used this recipe as the base and then tossed in frozen peas and frozen corn at the end along with salt, pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, dried thyme, and parmesan cheese and then garnished with avocado and cilantro.

I’ve never been one to just throw stuff in a pan – I always follow a recipe – but this one seems to have turned out pretty darn well!

More Valentine’s Day stuff…what’s wrong with me?!

So my Valentine’s Day obsession continues! I’ve still got a couple more craft projects in the works, but I wanted to show off what I’ve finished so far. First up, a Celtic heart necklace!

I found the instructions for this (and the next project, too) on the same aforementioned Buzzfeed article. Drew and I were heading out to visit my parents and celebrate my dad’s birthday and just before we left, I sat down and pulled this together in only four tries. The original post uses old hoodie sweatshirt ties and that would probably have been an easier medium to work with than the pretty (but super slippery) cord I bought to use. The knot stays in place fine, but when I tie it around my neck, it just refuses to stay tied! My plan is to try to get it attached to an actual clasp – I’ll try to keep you posted!

Up next is string art! The wall behind my couch is quickly becoming my seasonal decoration corner and I used this post for my inspiration. It actually went pretty smoothly, I sat down with my computer, hammer and nails, and a few blocks of spare wood that my dad had prepped for me and mainlined series 3 of Downton Abbey while I worked.

I’m really pleased with how they turned out – Drew seems to like them too (he suggested they could be permanent decorations, but I think I’ll wait to see what Buzzfeed has in the DIY department for Easter or spring).