Friday Things

Friday! Stuff n’ things… or, ‘stuff ‘n at’ if you’re from Pittsburgh. This is where I share with you fun and random glimpses into all of the things I’ve been getting into while away from the kitchen.

Do you see that stormy, raucous sky up there? That was the sight out of my kitchen window yesterday afternoon. It was nearly pitch black by 4:00, which rendered it impossible to take any photos of the deliciousness that I had baked up yesterday. Oooh, do I have some chocolate for you! While you wait with baited breath, take a read through what else I’ve been up to… 1. I love storms… until I hate storms. I have always, always loved thunderstorms. The pounding rain, the crack of thunder, a dark bedroom being lit up by lightning. They’ve always fascinated and relaxed me. The summer after my senior year of high school I went to Cedar Point (as amusement park a few hours away in Ohio) and was nearly permanently scarred after seeing, with my own two eyes, a tornado about 200 yards away. While in the middle of an amusement park. You don’t realize until you see a tornado that amusement parks have very little in the way of shelter, interior rooms, basements, etc. And then you freak out.

I recovered from that, returned to loving storms, and then last summer was driving from Pittsburgh to DC to visit my Chief Culinary Consultant for the weekend when the tide turned. I went through a tunnel, came out on the other side, and saw a wall of black in the sky.  Out of nowhere the the sky opened and it started pouring, and then hailing. I was able to pull off of the turnpike under an overpass with a bunch of other cars to try to wait it out. It got worse, and worse. I checked the weather app on my phone only to see multiple tornado warnings. Warnings. As in, there is a tornado where you are right now, about to pick you up and toss you into a ditch. I was able to wait it out and get to DC safely, but not without my heart threatening to pound out of my chest and countless glances all around the sky for the rest of the drive. A year has passed and I am back to being able to appreciate a good thunderstorm… as long as I’m inside!

2. Movie you MUST go see: Ted

I was pretty much as skeptical as you can be about this movie… a grown man, living with his talking teddy bear? I was totally prepared to be completely underwhelmed, but after hearing so many good reviews, we decided to go and see it. Umm, funniest movie I have seen in a long, long time. I laughed hysterically throughout most of the movie. Two thumbs up! Go see it! (Disclaimer: It’s by no means a “clean” comedy, so be prepared for some raunchy humor.)

3. Summer TV drought has officially set in. All of a sudden, the DVR is bone dry. My Chief Culinary Consultant and I have pretty eclectic taste when it comes to what we watch. The Office and Parks and Recreation are our standbys during the regular TV season. We also love Curb Your Enthusiasm (when on Earth is that coming back?!), Whale Wars (season just ended) and Feherty (awesome interviews, even if you’re not into golf!). Hatfields & McCoys kept us entertained for awhile (how good was that?!), but now we’re left with daily ESPN shows and local Pittsburgh sports. What do you enjoy watching during the summer? Any good TV series that are worth starting from the beginning, a la Netflix?

4. I am the world’s worst snacker. It’s true. Many days I never eat a proper meal and take “grazing” to a whole new level. I routinely snack on dry cereal, graham crackers with peanut butter, pretzel sticks, saltines with peanut butter and jelly, etc. Basically, I eat like a 5-year-old. I’m attempting to be much better about my eating patterns by starting with a real breakfast and keeping some wholesome snacks around. Next on my list is to make myself sit down and eat a real lunch. If you have any healthy/quick lunch and snack ideas, lay ’em on me! I’m planning to make some homemade trail mix next week!

5. Speaking of homemade, I’m on the DIY train… First up, I’m tackling my inaugural batch of jam next week! I’ve bought all of my supplies, consulted my canning guru, who suggested starting with an easy jam, like blueberry. Since blueberries are in season, that sounds perfect! Fingers crossed! Next on my list is homemade mozzarella. I picked up the book Home Dairy after reading about it in the Wall Street Journal a couple of months ago, and am so excited to dig in! I had already planned to work on homemade mozzarella next week and consider it a sign from above that a bunch of blogging gals gathered to do that exact same thing last weekend! Perfect timing – the step-by-step photos will surely help me as I work through the book!

6. I’m in a Wii golf slump. It’s not pretty. I used to be quasi-good at the game; at least good enough to be competitive against my Chief Culinary Consultant. However, the last three times we’ve played have been downright embarrassing for me. I don’t know what’s happened, although it appears as though my short game has blown up and my putting has been atrocious. I blame the ganglion cyst that showed up on my right wrist a few weeks ago. It’s totally the reason. Also, don’t um, old people get things like that? It definitely sounds like an affliction for people older than me. Which makes me feel… old.

7. The Olympics! They start today! I just realized this could be a cure for #3. Are you a big Olympics watcher? Do you get into it? Have parties? I usually get much more amped up for the winter games, but I love watching the swimming and gymnastics during the summer. What’s your favorite sport to watch?

8. Shopping spreeeee! I bought a bunch of new fun stuff to play with in the kitchen this week, some of which are related to #5 (hello citric acid, liquid rennet, liquid pectin and canning jars!), and some that are, well, necessary when you bake a lot! After growing tired of buying 5-pound bags of flour at the store nearly every-other-week, I finally did the smart thing and ordered the 25-lb. bag along with the big flour bucket to hold it. I should have done this eons ago. While I was at it, I ordered a couple of medium flour buckets to store the sugars that I buy in bulk at Sam’s Club. I restocked my vanilla extract and bought a couple of super cute double-sided pie toppers. Ooh, I also finally bought these reusable produce bags from Flip n’ Tumble:

Very excited to start using them!

9. Goodies from Canada. My sister went to wine country up in Canada for a long weekend and brought home back some treats! Aww, what a nice sister! She brought my Chief Culinary Consultant and I this bottle of wine, which could not have possibly been more perfect:

Hat Trick! What awesome labeling, right? I foresee this being opened on the opening night of the hockey season (if we’re not at the game!).

That wasn’t all! She also brought us this (what looks to be amazing) jar of a merlot habanero jelly:

I think this would go perfect on top of a toasted bagel and cream cheese. I haven’t opened it yet, but can’t wait to dig in!

10. TGIF! Wooooo!


56 Responses to “Friday Things”

  1. Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes on July 27, 2012 at 1:10 am

    I love storms, too! It’s funny because I’m scared of so many things (irrational fears) but you won’t stop be from being outside or right next to a window to watch a good thunder/lightning show.

    p.s. I want those pie toppers! I added them to my Christmas list (yes, I already have one started) 🙂


    • Michelle on July 27th, 2012 at 8:56 am

      I usually already have one started by now too; I love the holidays!


  2. Lindsey on July 27, 2012 at 1:53 am

    Storms are the best! and I loved Niagra on the Lake when we went….would love to go back!!


    • Lindsey on July 27th, 2012 at 1:54 am

      Oh and Ted was funnier than I expected. Worth it in all respects!


  3. heidid26 on July 27, 2012 at 2:17 am

    Olympics – Cannot Wait!! We are going to a big screen showing and potluck at our church. My must see events – Gymnastics, diving, swimming and I also like watching the softball/baseball. Pole vaulting always amazes me.

    Other TV shows – USA has some good shows during the off season. We like Royal Pains, Suits, Leverage and White Collar.

    Eating Habits – I too am a grazer and Oh does it bother my husband. One good lunch eat that makes it feel like your grazing but it’s a little more nutritious: “Roll ups” – a piece of deli sliced turkey, chicken, ham or roast beef with a slice of cheese laid on top and “rolled up.” They actually serve these with veggie sticks and ranch at my son’s school. I’ve also been enjoying turning my leftovers into quesadillas. The other day it was Monterrey Jack cheese and leftover taco meat. YUM!

    Thank you again for how you inspire me!


    • Michelle on July 27th, 2012 at 8:57 am

      Thanks for the TV recs and for some food ideas! Love the quesadilla idea!


  4. Lucyinaz on July 27, 2012 at 2:24 am

    My husband came home from a business trip the other day and told me he watched 21 Jumpstreet (the movie) on his iPad during the flight. He said it was hilarious so I watched it before the rental period expired. I loved it!! Definetely not a movie I would’ve chosen but so happy that I watched it!
    Have you seen Episodes on Showtime? I started watching it this season and love it. Matt Le Blanc playing himself.


    • Michelle on July 27th, 2012 at 8:58 am

      My sister saw 21 Jumpstreet and said she really liked it. I was surprised when she said it was funny, since the show I remember from the 80’s was a dark drama. Maybe we’ll give that a go! Thanks!


  5. IdaBaker on July 27, 2012 at 5:24 am

    I’ll be interested to see what your impression of these produce bags is. I’ve thought about purchasing something like this before but wondered if the cost of the would actually be worth it. Produce doesn’t stay too long in my fridge, but every once in a while, I’d like to have a better bag.

    After living for 5 years in LA, I’m loving the thunderstorms we have down here in FL. LA almost never gets thunder or lightning, and I discovered I missed it. Sometimes here in FL, we get nightly storms, and I just like to sit on the sunroom and watch.

    Big Olympics fan here. During one of my daughter’s labors I watched the Olympics, which I already loved, but now, they have more significance and wonderful memories.


  6. Adria @ A Spoonful of Healthy on July 27, 2012 at 5:47 am

    Yay! For the Olympics! I love watching the opening and closing ceremonies. I do not watch the events regularly but will stay informed about how my country is doing. And wine country… If you ever have a chance to go yourself to Niagara-On-The-Lake, it is so charming! And there are some cute (and good) wineries to discover!


  7. Sue on July 27, 2012 at 6:59 am

    Summer TV: Royal Pains, Suits, White Collar (Matt Bomer is dreamy!). Bunheads is kind of fun–if you liked Gilmore Girls, you’ll probably like the dialog (both were created by Amy Sherman-Palladino). And, of course, looking forward to the Olympics.


    • Michelle on July 27th, 2012 at 8:59 am

      I loved Gilmore Girls, I’ll have to check out Bunheads!


      • Sue on July 27th, 2012 at 10:42 am

        I can’t say Bunheads is as good as Gilmore Girls (my all-time fav), but it provides some enterainment. The Lauren Graham look-alike (Sutton Foster) isn’t as good as Graham. Kelly Bishop plays a similar role, but not as powerful.


  8. Anna on July 27, 2012 at 7:03 am

    Nice post! I just saw Ted and I was surprised how much I enjoyed it. I guess you have a Thunder Buddy? I highly suggest you watch “How I Met Your Mother”, “Community” (Seasons 2-3 takes sitcoms into another level), “30 Rock”, “Cougar Town” and old episodes of “Scrubs” if you like “The Office”. For some eye candy, “Suits”. TGIF!!!


    • Michelle on July 27th, 2012 at 9:00 am

      Haha, Thunder Buddy! Best scene of the movie! (Yes, I do have one :)) Thanks for the TV show recs!


  9. Maria G on July 27, 2012 at 7:19 am

    Summer TV – I watch White Collar, Suits, Necessary Roughness, all on USA Network and Leverage which is on TNT. Also digging the new TNT show Perception on Monday nights.

    Either of the shows above are worth starting from the beginning on Netflix, and I’m gonna throw in as well “Supernatural,” which will be starting its 8th season this Fall. Three things, though: 1. Don’t let the title deceive you; it’s more than just supernatural events and monsters being caught. 2. If you do Netflix it, make sure to get the DVDs and not the streaming version, because the latter is missing the classic hard rock that’s an integral part of the show. 3. If you do decide to watch it, make sure you have the first DVD for Season 2 ready to go before you watch the last episode of Season 1. Trust me on this!

    Have a great weekend!


  10. Anderea on July 27, 2012 at 8:25 am

    Can’t wait to see your post on making mozzarella…I too just bought rennet and citric acid – now I just need a stainless steel pot and I’m in business!


  11. Sara on July 27, 2012 at 8:46 am

    I’m excited for the Olympics as well! We might do some Greek takeout – in honor of the original Olympians!

    A good Netflix pick is Modern Family – my bf and I really enjoyed it during the week right before bed. It makes you go to bed in a good mood! The cast is very funny! 🙂


    • Michelle on July 27th, 2012 at 9:01 am

      Ahh, Greek takeout is a perfect idea! I’ve heard great things about Modern Family, need to check it out!


  12. Ali @ Gimme Some Oven on July 27, 2012 at 8:46 am

    Ha! Ok, that elephant pic totally made me LOL. Totally excited to see TED!


  13. joan on July 27, 2012 at 8:57 am

    NY Med on ABC is excellent. (10 p.m. on Tuesdays).
    My favorite snack lately is Chobani (Blueberry’s my fave)


  14. Dee on July 27, 2012 at 9:00 am

    So jealous of the wine. If you are at the game, IF there is a game, there is talk of a lockout which really irritates me.


    • Michelle on July 27th, 2012 at 9:02 am

      I know, I’m keeping my fingers crossed and hoping there isn’t an impasse with CBA negotiations. I would be seriously bummed!


  15. Jessica on July 27, 2012 at 9:03 am

    As a meteorologist at the Weather channel, I of course love good thunderstorms!

    My current favorite healthy/fast lunch is a wrap with a wedge of laughing cow cheese spread onto it, deli turkey, cucumbers, and tomatoes if i have them. so good! my favorite quick snack throughout the days is plain fat free greek yogurt, honey, and PB2 (powdered peanut butter I order from amazon). Its like dessert its so good!


  16. Debra on July 27, 2012 at 9:25 am

    TV – I had goosebumps all day yesterday watching the soccer prelims – go USA girls!! I was born outside London, and my Mom’s family is British, so it will be especially exciting to see all of the great special interest stories about the homeland (Mary Carillo is so entertaining!).

    Netflix – Not sure if you watch Downton Abbey, but if not, RUN, don’t walk and try to catch them on Netflix. It is the BEST TV series I have watched in the past 10 years.

    Movies – If you can find it, go see BERNIE with Jack Black. He is brilliant, and the movie is so funny (and poignant).

    Happy Friday!


    • Michelle on July 28th, 2012 at 7:40 pm

      I’ve heard so much about Downton Abbey, I’ll have to check it out. That reminds me that Boardwalk Empire should be back soon, too!


  17. Jill on July 27, 2012 at 9:27 am

    Suits and Rookie Blue are two of my favorite summer shows. Also, highly highly recommend Damages. One of the best shows of all time!


  18. brandi on July 27, 2012 at 9:34 am

    if you’re NOT watching White Collar or Burn Notice (both on USA) catch up and start watching! They’re our 2 favorite shows, hands down.

    ps: do you know that an ad pops up on your blog as soon as you click into the box to leave a comment?


    • Michelle on July 28th, 2012 at 7:41 pm

      Brandi, I wasn’t aware, I will look into that, thank you for bringing it to my attention!


  19. Kate on July 27, 2012 at 9:51 am

    Love a good loud and crashing thunderstorm! Of course, I rarely experience them…it would make a difference in perspective!

    Bring on the Olympics! I can hardly wait until tonight.


  20. Erica W on July 27, 2012 at 10:26 am

    Love that jam! I’ve been eating it for years (I’m Canadian!) it’s also great with baked brie as an appetizer 🙂


    • Michelle on July 28th, 2012 at 7:42 pm

      Oooh I wouldn’t have thought of pairing it with baked brie, but that sounds fabulous! Thank you for the suggestion!


  21. Mary Kay on July 27, 2012 at 10:33 am

    Don’t know if you have read this about the Ted movie but ALS patients and their families are boycotting this movie. Read here:

    I agree it crosses the line. Mary


  22. Kerry on July 27, 2012 at 11:00 am

    I just finished watching Bones on netflix. Also Nikita is action packed. Strong female leads. Top Chef Masters just started for a little foodie fun.


  23. Kare @ Kitchen Treaty on July 27, 2012 at 11:08 am

    You’ll love canning! I have been canning for a few years (hot water bath) but took a class last weekend just to increase my confidence. It really helped to understand the hows (and most importantly the whys) of killing bacteria/keeping it at bay. I was always just a smidge worried I’d done something wrong and the food would have some hidden lurking deadly bacteria! 😉

    And not only is blueberry jam easy, it’s soooo good. I made a huge batch of blueberry lime jam last weekend and it’s hard to keep myself out of my stockpile.

    Enjoy and have a great weekend!


  24. Kare @ Kitchen Treaty on July 27, 2012 at 11:10 am

    Oh, and if you haven’t watched Breaking Bad, I highly recommend it. Seasons 1 – 4 are in Netflix.


  25. Ellie @ The Bitchin' Kitchin' on July 27, 2012 at 11:20 am

    I work in the Philly area but live in the NYC area and I raced home last night to make a few things and photograph them before the sun set. Alas, the thunderstorm pretty much ruined any chance I had at all to take photos. I ended up waking up early this morning to shoot pics!


  26. Jennifer on July 27, 2012 at 11:23 am

    I enjoyed your post and will definitely have to go see Ted! I’m jealous of your thunderstorm…down here in Fort Worth we haven’t had much rain to speak of this summer. Ugh! I’ll be in Orlando for vacation next week and hope to enjoy a thunderstorm or two while we are there.

    I have a couple of recommendations for TV shows:
    Suits (on USA) is great!
    Try Breaking Bad on Netflix…simply amazing
    Justified (episodes on Netflix)
    The Glee Project on Oxygen (Tuesday nights…pure fun and so much talent!)

    Happy viewing! ; )


  27. Laura Dembowski on July 27, 2012 at 11:50 am

    I’m almost embarrassed to admit this, but my DVR is busier than ever with summer TV. Suits and Royal Pains are so amazing on USA. Love Rookie Blue on ABC. And I have never missed an episode of Big Brother (please don’t judge me ;)). It is the best summer show. The Olympics are great to watch. I love them because they make me certain that if one works at something enough, dreams can come true. I eat reasonable breakfasts and dinners, but I can’t help with lunch, as that’s when I get in my daily dose of candy and dry cereal.


  28. Rebekah Smith on July 27, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    Top Chef Masters just started Wednesday and is one of my favorites.
    Hells Kitchen is half way over and Master Chef.
    BREAKING BAD IS THE BEST SHOW EVERRRRRRRRRRRR and is on AMC. Start from the beginning on Netflix.


  29. Rachel on July 27, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    I’m really glad you already watch Parks and Rec, cause that is always my first TV recommendation. Also check out 30 Rock and Arrested Development on Netflix if you haven’t seen them. I’m not sure if you have HBO, but Girls and Veep are so so good.

    As for the Olympics, I’m so excited to have something so exciting to watch for over two weeks! My brother and I have gotten in the habit of making food from the host country, so tonight we’re making toad in the hole and your cinnamon sugar scones (which I don’t think are really British but they’re scones so they totally count).


  30. Katie @ Blonde Ambition on July 27, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    Some shows my boyfriend and I watch together are: Mad Men, The Walking Dead (both on Netflix Instant View), Boardwalk Empire… they are all good to catch up on all at once because they’re rather slow moving when you watch live and have to wait every week for a new episode.

    I usually snack on fruits or nuts… and I also have found some pretty healthy tortilla chip brands that I don’t feel too guilty about snacking on once in a while!


  31. Amy on July 27, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    Oh my goodness! I had no idea that pie toppers even existed! Those are beautiful. I suppose I will have to add that to my long list of kitchen gadgets I “need”. : )


  32. Maria on July 27, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    I am a snacker too! Sometimes it’s hard to sit down to eat with a baby crawling all over the place! I try though! Here are a few ideas for you:

    Ok, I will stop! Email me if you need more ideas:) Wish we could have lunch together!

    Love this post! So fun! And I miss a good thunderstorm!


    • Michelle on July 28th, 2012 at 7:44 pm

      Thanks for the lunch ideas, Maria! I am definitely going to stock up on some ingredients so I can make them!


  33. Mia on July 27, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    Those pie toppers are adorable! I’d recommend some Netflix shows, but I watch the trashiest TV and I’m embarrassed to admit names 🙁

    As for lunches…I eat A LOT of salads (spinach, a pinch of cheese, whatever random beans I have around and/or random chicken parts that I can saute up). Also: fajitas (just saute some peppers and onions with chili powder and cumin), baked potatoes or baked sweet potatoes – which require fewer toppings than regular potatoes. You can do this!


  34. Michelle W on July 27, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    Saw PW’s post on mozzarella and can’t wait to try it. I’m curious about the produce bags. How do they work for weighing @ the store?
    Summer viewing includes Royal Pains & Covert Affairs. Can’t wait for US Women’s soccer!!


    • Michelle on July 28th, 2012 at 7:45 pm

      From what I’ve read the produce bags are very, very light and don’t really add all that much more than a regular plastic produce bag.


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  36. Martha in KS on July 27, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    My niece was trying to fly out of Harrisburg yesterday afternoon & they cancelled her flight because of the storm. Please send it to the midwest!


  37. Katy on July 27, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    I love a good thunderstorm… however, if it even kinda sorta looks like it might go tornado-ish, get me OUT!! I grew up in Indiana and have had my share of close calls, weather sirens, and school hallway huddles… I moved to Tennessee, not expecting to deal with it here, and wouldn’t you know – we were smack-dab in the middle of the tornado outbreak of April 2011!

    Anyway… we are totally watching the Olympics tonight, and I can’t WAIT to see the gymnastics (I’m a former gymnast, although not elite) and diving competitions!!


  38. Tracy on July 27, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    First of all, oh my goodness, the tornado warnings – I would have FLIPPED. OUT. I can feel my blood pressure going up just reading about your experiences!

    And second I’m honored to be your canning guru. 🙂 I can’t wait to see what you can up, I know it’s going to be great!


  39. Jennings on July 27, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    Hey – love your blog – great recipes! I gave you the “One Lovely Blog” award today. :o)


  40. Jaime on July 28, 2012 at 8:03 pm

    Here are some of our favorite shows, sorry if there are some repeats, I didnt read through all the comments:

    Wilfred on FX: summer season show absolutely hysterical!!
    Archer on FX
    The Walking Dead
    Modern Family
    East Bound and Down: on HBO, I think. The humor is definitely NOT clean and maybe a bit much for some, but the show is very funny. We don’t have any of the pay channels so we have to wait until the season is over and Netflix the DVD or watch it online somewhere.


    • Michelle on July 28th, 2012 at 11:07 pm

      Oh! I totally forgot to add that we watch East Bound and Down, too! HA! It is TOTALLY crazy, over the top, inappropriate to the Nth degree, but also downright hysterical. It’s our guilty pleasure, LOL!


  41. Manizor on July 31, 2012 at 9:09 am

    Friday Night Lights! You can watch the entire series on Netflix. It is SO good!! You might think it’s a football show, but it is so much more — all about the relationships. Very worth your tv watching time! We also love Parenthood too!


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