We start 'em young...

"Auntie Cassi" and "Uncle Gabey" had the pleasure of babysitting our good friends' 19 month old son, Ethan, last night, and oh! the fun we had.  I had been planning activities for days, some of which we didn't get around to playing, but that's okay.  I documented the activities we did partake in, and even flipping through them today tickles me.  He is a total love and so smart--and at such a fun age!

When the parents, T & M, dropped him off, he had just awoken from a long nap and was kinda out of it...too soon for games, so we started with some dinner: pizza.  Success?

The photos speaks for themselves.

Next, we moved to the floor for a project I was really excited about, because I read toddlers love these things: the Discovery Jar.  Sounds exciting, no?  Luckily, the kid was totally in to it, and we spent a good hour playing with all the fixin's.  We began with a tray of random household and crafts items I already had, and a canning jar, lid, and top.  I filled the jar halfway with brown rice, then encouraged Ethan to add whatever items he wanted to it.  As you can see from the photos, it started out as an organized task, but the real fun began when we let him take the reigns.   We won't talk about my outfit--they're my play clothes.

I read that toddlers are generally mesmerized by the Discovery Jar.  Below is the finished product--we put a lid on it once he seemed to be getting burnt out.  Now, if this isn't the face of a mesmerized kid, I don't know what is.

We also got some video footage of him dancing to David Bowie and the Labyrinth soundtrack--a must for the evening's playlist.  Next, since the weather was cooperating for the first time that day, we decided to grab the kid, the dogs, and the popcorn popper (Ethan's fav toy @ Auntie and Uncle's), and head out for a nice walk around the neighborhood.  You know, walk off the pizza, expel some energy, show off the cutest kid in the world to the community...

Ethan really enjoyed it, as did we all, and about halfway through (and a half-hour in) he became Mr. Chatty Chatterson.  No words, just sounds, but no less entertaining.  After returning to the house, about an hour later--no complaints here--I scratched the painting activity I had planned and we all decided to cozy up on the sofa for a viewing of an all-time classic: Disney's Alice in Wonderland--a movie he had never seen I later found out from M.  I didn't see him blink, and his jaw was dropped for most of the movie, so I can only assume that he LOVED it.

This photo was taken just after Uncle Gabey smiled and said, "easiest babysitting gig ever."

We're homebodies, the hubs and me, and our lives currently revolve around our two dogs and each other.  Entertaining a toddler, or rather, being entertained by a toddler, was the highlight of our week.  When T & M picked him up and took him home, we looked at one another and smiled, talked about how fun it was, and agreed we could stare at him for hours, mimicking all of his many facial expressions and engine-revving sound effects.   We had a blast, but I'm pretty sure Bowie is glad to be back at center-of-attention.


Made. Shared. Done. #1

That's the name of a folder I keep in my giant "Cassi's Inspiration" folder on my appendage: Free Agent Go.  Really, it goes where I go.  No exceptions.  And it's amazing that I haven't filled it yet!  Anyhow, I began keeping a folder of files representing projects I've completed, photos/articles I've shared with those intended to receive them, and products I've bought, just to keep track and stay organized, of course.  I plan on periodically sharing these files with you, and thought I'd start now.  I found this photo whilst blog-hopping in June '09 (note: before I began saving the source in the file name; I apologize) and recreated it in my home office not long after. Please, if this is your photo, let me know so I can credit you properly.
My office arrangement has changed upwards of 67 times since we bought the home in Feb '09, but here is the most recent look.
I've had an ever-growing collection of vintage, handmade, and new scarves since I was a kiddo, and I always felt sad about storing them in a drawer.  They're so beautiful!  And, they kept me from having to get custom roman shades for this window...score.  Most of these scarves were gifts, which I love to display not only for my pure enjoyment, but for the gift-givers to see when they visit.  And yes, that's an IKEA Expedit to the right, being used as a room divider, but that's another post.  By the way, these photos of my actual office are stored in a folder named "Home Is Where You Make It" -- for all you Joe Dirt fans.  Good night.


Check these out

I just picked these up at IKEA yesterday, on a shopping spree with MILly (Mother-In-Law nickname), and I'm still totally psyched about them!  The picture does not do them any justice, as with most pictures on the IKEA website, but in person they are vibrant and very MCM.  I dare say they are quite Mondrian-esque.  Bonus! The set of three was only $2.99.  I don't know exactly what to use them for, but I have a couple of ideas, which is also where you come in.  I thought of using one for loose leaf teas, another for gift wrapping, and no idea what else as of now... Got any suggestions for use?


Though craving pizza, I was stopped by my wallet. No delivery tonight.

Another rainy day, another forkful of pasta.  This time, not only am I fighting the wet weather blahs, I'm also fighting temptation.  Because I can't seem to get full no matter how much I eat the past couple of weeks, I confronted my gnawing hunger pains at about 9 pm tonight.  My first thought: pizza delivery.  Pizza is warm, filling, great eaten cold the next day, but quite pricey.  Only because the hubs has turned me into a pizza snob and we've gotten pretty used to paying $30+ for a large.  Ridiculous, I know.  Plus, he's at work and just went grocery shopping the other day, so while he might be excited to see a pizza box in the fridge when he gets home later, he will also ask why I didn't make something using the plethora of goods he just bought.  Starving, I decided to forgo the pizza meal. 

Not feeling creative in the slightest, I half-consciously began boiling water for linguine; grabbed some button mushrooms that were already open and stored at eye level in the fridge, sun-dried tomatoes, parsley, cream, butter, Parmesan, spinach, garlic, nutmeg, dried basil, ks&p... The majority of the ingredients happened to be on the same shelf, which was convenient for my auto-pilot mental state.  Now that I've eaten, I can share with you the 'recipe.' 

1. Cook linguine until al dente.  Meanwhile...
2. Heat some oil from the sun-dried tomato jar in a skillet.  When heated, add minced garlic, brown.
3. Add sliced mushrooms, careful not to crowd in the pan (thank you, Mrs. Child).
4. Once shrooms are cooked, add a few handfuls of fresh baby spinach and some sun-dried tomatoes.
5. After all ingredients are warmed, remove from skillet.  Scrape everything into your serving bowl and set aside.
6. Using the same skillet, melt a chunk of butter (+/- 2 T), then add 1/2 c of heavy cream.
7. Simmer about 5 mins, stirring frequently, then add chopped parsley, pinch of dried basil, pinch of nutmeg, some minced garlic, and a big handful of grated Parmesan.  Whisk vigorously for about a minute.
8. Put cooked pasta on top of the ingredients in your serving bowl, then top with cream sauce.
9. Season with ks&p, gorge immediately.
10. Blog.

I don't have any pictures, mainly because I didn't think the dish was that pretty, but man is it delicious, and finally filling.  Even better, I didn't have to wait 45 minutes or drain my wallet contents for a pizza to be delivered. 

I don't anticipate receiving any comments--this post was lame. What can I say, the hubs is at work, the dogs are sleeping, craigslist only has ugly furniture today, and I already cleaned my house...just fillin' time.  Good night.



My name is Cassi and I am an Etsyholic.

Virgos are givers, naturally, so I want to make sure and share with everyone the Internet's greatest gift: Etsy.  To many of you reading this, or perhaps all of you, Etsy is not a new thing.  It is my homepage, my #1 source of inspiration, and my go-to place for gift shopping.  My Etsy profile can vouch that I am an avid buyer, but I won't regurgitate all of my past purchases--just a couple.  In the past month, I bought two really awesome items, packed with personality, one for Mom for Mothers' Day, and one for the hubs.

The former is a very personal gift for my Mom;  she is from Kentucky and has very fond childhood memories of eating at Cracker Barrel.  I found it at Vintage Home Recycled's shop.  I stuffed it with these reusable produce bags for her gift, which I found thanks to Jen.  I was just over at her house for supper the other night and saw this jar filled with candy on the kitchen counter... just one of many ideal uses.

The latter was a little somethin' I picked up just for fun for the hubs, whose name is (spoiler alert!) Gabe.  It's a vintage ash tray--neither of us smokes--that reads: "GABES - THE STEAK HOUSE OF THE SOUTH - OWENSBORO, KENTUCKY - FAMOUS FOR FOOD SINCE '22."  I just love that last line because it's kind of odd.  I mean, usually restaurants claim to be famous for a specific type of food --burgers, shakes, tacos, biscuits--but Gabes is famous for "food."  I found it at eclecticamiami --such a fun shop!--whose owner requests and shares photos of the items in their new homes.  Great idea.
The first photo shows its current location, which could change instantaneously because I'm a habitual re-decorator.  Really, I get sick of things so easily, it's actually my reasoning for never getting a tattoo.

The hubs knows he's lucky because he's the one thing I've never gotten sick of.  :)

What gems have you purchased on Etsy?  Please. Do share.  And please, feel free to buy me anything from my Etsy profile Favorites page. *wink


A forkful of pasta helps combat rainy day blahs

It's icky weather here in the capital city today and I am to blame:  I washed my truck yesterday for the first time in like a year.  I spent three hours cleaning the inside and outside of my dog taxi, only to wake up to cloudy skies this morning.  Sorry, Sacramentans, it is all my fault.  Knock on wood, it has only barely sprinkled so far...

Luckily, I had some inspiration logged away in my short-term memory, thanks to Kristina, and whipped up a zesty, vibrant, and very satisfying dish for lunch on my [short] lunch break.  I don't have a name for it, as I am simply filing it under what I call "Pantry Pasta", which is ever-changing.  I also often make "Pantry Cous Cous" and "Pantry Quinoa."  As you have probably guessed, these dishes consist of whatever I have on hand and am craving.  "Cluelessness is the mother of invention" - Lorelai Gilmore. 

I was too hungry to list all the ingredients and preparations neatly, so as you can see in the photo, I messily jotted down what I threw in this batch, just in case I inhaled the whole thing before getting it down on paper. 
If anyone is interested in making this dish, here's how I did it this time.  Oh yeah, I apologize to the Virgos looking for exact measurements...I only measure when I'm baking, not cooking.

carrots (these carrot 'chips' were on sale the other day, bonus: no peeling or slicing)
fresh ginger root
olive oil
penne pasta
fresh Italian parsley
fresh cilantro
fresh squeezed lime juice
capers (no surprise there!)
toasted fennel seeds
sun-dried tomatoes, julienne (must get Cal Sun∙Dry, seriously. why? well, that's another post)
ks & p to taste (we always always always use kosher salt and fresh ground peppercorns)

1. Roast carrots in baking dish with thinly sliced shallots, diced peeled fresh ginger, olive oil, and ks & p, turning occasionally.  I adjusted the temp a few times, but kept in the range of 375°-425°
2. Boil water and cook pasta until al dente w/ a healthy sprinkle of ks
3. In a bowl, squeeze in lime juice then add all ingredients, except toasted fennel seeds.  Stir to combine.
4. When roasted veggies are brown and at desired consistency and color, remove from pan and dump in the bowl of premixed ingredients.
5. Using a slotted spoon, scoop a spoonful of pasta, drain, then add to bowl.  Repeat until all pasta is removed from pasta water.
6. Sprinkle desired amount of fennel seeds into pan used to roast veggies and return to oven to toast.  Meanwhile, mix everything in the bowl.  NOTE:  toasting only takes a quick minute or two, so don't forget about your seeds.
7. Top your dish with hot toasted fennel seeds and ENJOY.
Another NOTE: if the dish is a bit dry for your taste, just add some reserved pasta water and stir.

The hubs is at home today, so he had better not eat the rest that I left in the fridge.  I can't wait to eat the leftovers cold tomorrow, once they've sat in the fridge overnight...mmmm...


Every so often, it's fun to be impulsive and indulgent...

As Virgos, we live to plan, and many of us have difficulties being flexible to changes in plans or acting spontaneously.  Thankfully my [Leo] husband has taught me over the past ten years the joys of 'changing it up.'  For example, while he was getting ready to work the night shift at his job tonight, I had just finished watching the movie Julie & Julia (love!), and was majorly craving some food that I didn't have the energy nor the creativity to whip up, so I decided I would shower, get cute, and treat myself to a nice dinner downtown.  I told him I was craving French food (thanks, Julia, for all your talk on beurre blanc) and fish, and that I planned on going out to dinner.  He asked, "with whom?"  I said, "myself."  He thought it was a great idea! 

Since my Internet was unresponsive while I was getting ready, I looked up restaurants in an old Sacramento Magazine, which has reviews of all the local restaurants, and found a pathetically low number of French cuisine options.  Please, if any of you know of a decent French restaurant in Sac, do share.  I settled on Waterboy, which has been around for years and has consistently received good reviews.  I liked its central location and had walked/drove by it many times in the past, so I was intrigued;  plus, Sac mag classified the food as "Northern Italian/Southern French" fare.  I called to see if a reservation would be recommended, which for one diner, wasn't necessary.  A plus, I think.

I sat at a cute little table for two next to two businessmen, one local, one visiting from Indiana.  They were good company.  I brought a book I recently started, in case I had some 'down time' in between ordering, titled The Beautiful Fall: Lagerfeld, Saint Laurent, and Glorious Excess in 1970s Paris, by Alicia Drake, which I picked up for free when I worked at Borders Bookstore a few years ago on the promo shelf.  Not bad.  Not great either, so far.  I'll report back on that at a later date, if there's anything to report.  I always like to hear the restaurants' specials, especially if nothing on the menu immediately grabs me.  I chose the fish special, which, oh man!, was seared filet sturgeon with fregola, porcini mushrooms, lima beans, and sauteed spinach, topped with a buttery and mild chipotle sauce...and a glass of Barbera, nothing worth naming.  It arrived very quickly, and I de-vou-red it.  I felt like eating it all over again afterward--until I heard the dessert specials, then I shifted my focus to the house-made strawberry rhubarb pie with some kinda nut-crusted topping and vanilla ice cream that I would soon be enjoying with coffee.

If you plan on eating there, know that the menu is quite small, and the wine list is even smaller--and honestly, a bit lacking--but I think their food selection is satisfying, and judging from my experience with the special, you'll be very pleased with anything you order.  I'm thinking of going back for the bouillabaisse, although I have a huge bias, because my aunt Cheri makes a legendary bouillabaisse, so I don't know if it is worth the risk, or the $25 test.  I also plan on bringing my own bottle of wine and swallowing the corkage fee...Oh yeah, and next time I'll bring others along, now that I can give the place some personal credibility.  Not that I didn't enjoy dining solo, it just baffles people, especially when they see a wedding band on your finger, and I'd rather save the explanations...   I wish I had pictures to share, but I already felt like I looked to the servers like a food critic, so I refrained.  Bummer. 

When was the last time you did something indulgent? 

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