Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Xander's Room Redesign: Theme Revealed

I'm excited to reveal the theme of Xander's new room: Xander's Auto Garage. Today I received the first components of the redesign: vinyl, pre-pasted brick wallpaper. This wallpaper is just delicious. Because it's vinyl, it's thick and creamy to the touch. I love wallpaper and borders. My dad was the BEST at wallpapering and luckily, he and I completed a wallpaper and bordering project shortly before he passed away so I was able to pick up all his tools and tricks!

So what other components are going into Xander's Auto Garage....mmmmm I don't want to share yet, but it's pretty obvious the piece de resistance is going to be this bed....

Step2 Corvette Toddler to Twin Bed with Lights - Red - Step2  - Babies"R"Us

But I want to get the wallpaper, paint and chalkboard paint up first prior to purchasing the furniture and accessories......

It's time for Xander to get a new room, err, garage I should say. Since we didn't find out the sex while I was pregnant, I did his room in a neutral a Winnie the Pooh theme. I loved it, it worked for either sex and it also incorporated my dad's Winnie the Pooh collection he cultivated while my brothers and I were growing up. The Pooh Palace was awesome, but it's time his room becomes more of an expression of his persona - all things cars, trucks, dirt and grit.....thus Xander's Auto Garage is perfect!

What did his old room look like? Take a peek....

I still totally love his room. I just think it was adorable. My favorite pieces being the pooh plates on the walls and the mural. The mural was painted by a friend at the time and was copied from a card my dad had given me. But, that was then and this is now, and Xander's ready to move to the garage.

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Perfect Risotto...At Least According to Williams-Sonoma

Anyone else notice how I clearly have an obsession with ellipses? Hahaha! .... So anyway, Risotto. Sunday I took a class at my local Williams-Sonoma on Risotto. Risotto, up until this evening, was a dish that I only enjoyed at a restaurant. Tonight was the first time I'd ever made it. The creamy, decadent texture, in my mind, was always synonymous, with, well, cream. Au contraire. Apparently, a good Risotto NEVER uses cream. Who knew? The decadence comes from the amount of starch in the rice itself AND from using European Butter. European Butter, what's that right? Well, maybe you knew what it was, but I did not. European Butter, as I learned, has far less moisture than American butter and is good for giving things that creamy texture without using cream. Interesting. I was thinking that European Butter would also be really good in a macaroni and cheese. Doesn't that sound delish? Okay, so back to Risotto. Here were a few other tips Williams-Sonoma shared in our class' quest to make the perfect Risotto:

1. Start with the rice. It's all about the rice.
2. European Butter. It makes all the difference.
3. Room temperature all your ingredients as it helps the Risotto absorb all the flavors. Room temperature everything: butter, stock, wine, mushrooms, EVERYTHING.
4. When it comes to wine, a sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio is best, and most definitely don't cheap out on it. If you wouldn't drink it, don't cook with it.
5. W&S gave a few recommendations as it relates to oil, rice and cookware. With the 10 percent discount that was offered on anything demo'd I did purchase the following:

5. cont'd - I also purchased a wooden spoon utensil with a hole in it that is supposed to promote the creamy texture of the rice for $5. For the life of me I couldn't find it on the W&S website, though. I think it might be a new product.

So, how'd it all turnout? OMG. So good. It was delicious. I'm already thinking of a dinner party to host so I can make it again. It was so good. Did I say that already? And, the weather was rainy, about 80 degrees (which has been a total blessing from the 107 degrees we had on Friday), and I had just come home from a long run and got to work cooking and sipping a chilled glass of the sauvignon blanc I used. I followed all of the tips, and the recipe meticulously and it was just velvety goodness. I definitely agree with all of the above. I'm a details person so the details of the rice, leaving your ingredients out at room temperature, the European butter, the wine, the spoon, all of it contributed to a dinner seriously fit for the President of the US. I did deviate from the recipe when it came to the mushrooms, though. I did not use dry mushrooms. I used fresh. I used Oyster, Cremini, Shitake and King Oyster. The mushrooms cooked with the stock and the fresh thyme and Italian Parsley, oh, you guys, it was just tantalizing. I'm keeping some of the leftovers, but the rest I'm going to bring in to work tomorrow so my colleagues can experience this divinity and give me compliments. Just kidding.....Maybe not.