[And welcome to my little blog.]

I'm Amanda! So happy you are here. Grab a glass of wine, read along, and let's be friends.

Cooking with the iPad

Thursday, February 17, 2011
So I'm completely infatuated with the the iPad.  I downloaded a bunch of really cool apps today and I haven't even had time to play around with all of them yet, but I'm super excited.  One of the app's I used tonight was an app by allrecipes.com.  I've used allrecipes.com for years to find new recipes and I've always loved how you can see how the recipe has been reviewed by other cooks.  It's sort of like the amazon.com of cooking.  If you haven't checked out this website yet I'd highly recommend it.  If you upgrade to a pro account (I just did today) you can even create a customized menu and it will create an organized grocery list for you.     

In the past when I want to make something new I surfed around all recipes.com, checked to see if I had all the ingredients, jotted down the instructions on a piece of paper, brought the paper over to the kitchen, started making the food, and then when I couldn't read my handwriting or started to second-guess what I wrote down I'd go back to to the computer and look at recipe again.  Yes, I know... a lot of these problems could be averted if I wasn't too cheap to buy ink for our printer. 

Tonight I downloaded the allrecipe app for $2.99 (there is also a free version but you can't sync with your allrecipes account), so now all I have to do is open my recipe box, click on the recipe, and start cooking.  It even has a timer built into it.  Also if I'm not sure if I have all the ingredients for a recipe I can bring the iPad into the pantry with me.  How cool is that??  Plus the iPad case that Kevin bought makes a little stand.   

When i turned the iPad off I could see my reflection in it.  Like a huge dork I took my picture, and of course that's the exact minute Kevin came walking into the room.  Yes, he started making fun of me right away.  Notice anything different about my hair?  Bangs!!

Here's the link to the stuffed cabbage recipe that I made.  I found this recipe this summer when I was looking for a way to use the ground ham I bought at the farmers market.  Tonight I didn't use ground ham and it was still good, but not quite as flavorful - the ground ham really makes the recipe.  If you don't have any ground ham make sure you add some more spice... my personal favorite spice for something like this is Tony Chachere's Creole seasoning

Anybody else have any iPad must-have applications they'd recommend?

Our first Valentine's Day

Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Neither one of us made a really big deal about Valentine's Day this year, but it ended up being a great day, the second best Valentine's Day I've ever had.  My very favorite Valentine's Day was February 14, 2008.  Kevin and I had gone on our very first date a few days before, and I was trying to avoid that akward "we just went on our first date and now it's Valentine's day and we're not even officially dating" so I had already made plans to go to a Valentine's day techno dance party at Slowdown with a bunch of friends.  Well, I ended up having a terrible day at work, and the last thing I wanted to do was go to a dance party.  I called Kevin and told him I had changed my mind about Slowdown and he invited me to his house to hang out.  I met Kevin's roomates for the first time, and then since I was still in my work clothes he offered me some sweat pants and a tee shirt.  I changed into his comfy clothes and we had a glass of wine and talked and watched TV.  I remember feeling like we had been dating for years instead of like our second date.  As cheesy as I know it sounds it just felt right. 

So here we are three years later  :)

Instead of going out we decided we'd make dinner at home.  We made a wedge lettuce salad, 3 pounds of crab legs, pototoes, brussel sprouts, and uncorked one of the bottles of wine that we got last year in Italy on our honeymoon.  My parents use to do this a lot when we were little.  With four small kids sometimes a babysitter and fancy dinner wasn't in the budget so they'd put us to bed and have their own home date.

Kevin and I make dinner at home quite a bit, but normally we eat in about 15 minutes and then jump up right away to start doing dishes and getting on with our evening.  For this dinner we put on some music, lit a candle, and didn't leave the table until we had finished our bottle of wine.  It was so relaxing and the perfect way to celebrate Valentine's day.  Not to mention the whole dinner cost us under fifty bucks and the crab legs were absolutely amazing.  Who knew that crab legs were so easy?  All you have to do is boil them for 3 - 5 minutes, clarify some butter (here's how to do it), and grab a lemon wedge. 
Just for fun - here are some picture from the vineyard in Italy where we got this wine. 



If you're ever in Tuscany I'd recommend this vineyard.  The castle and vineyard date back to the 1400's and it was a really interesting tour with great wine.  The picture of the vineyard is from their website.  Check out all the info on the vineyard here.

After dinner we exchanged our gifts.  I got Kevin a shirt and watch from a new store that opened in Midtown called Republic of Couture (which by the way is a very cool store).  Then of course Kevin completely outdid my gift and gave me and iPad.  AHHHH!!!  An iPad!!!!  I could not stop hugging it and jumping up and down.  I've been using it constantly and let me tell you, it is freakin sweet.  I've wanted one for awhile and even blogged about it back in September, but couldn't justify such an expensive toy.  He completely surprised me with it.

All around a great first Valentine's day.

An unconventional pet.

Monday, February 14, 2011
So we've officially accomplished one of the 15 things on our pre-baby bucket list.  Number 14.  We've gotten a pet, but it isn't exactly the goldfish that we had originally planned on.  In fact it's sort of far from that.  Many of our other friends are either pregnant right now or are soon on their way (don't get me wrong - we think bringing a new life into the world is so cool and we're incredibly excited for them) however Kevin and I aren't quite in that phase of our lives yet, and we actually may have temporarily taken a sharp turn into the unconventional.  Not only are we not pregnant or planning on it anytime soon, but we've added a very different addition to our family.  Rats! 

Ok, we all know you're weird Amanda, but RATS?!  Really???

Well it all started off with me looking into what fish we should buy.  I researched diligently to try to find the coolest, lowest maintenance fish in the world.  But during my research I ran into a few snags.  No matter what fish you buy you can't get around the inevitable chore of cleaning out a fish tank, and something about that dirty fish tank smell has always bothered me.  Maybe it's the fish poop floating in water.  Anyhow, even if you manage to keep the tank pristine and beautifully clean, for all your efforts the fish doesn't really provide much in return.  From what I can tell fish don't learn their names, let alone do tricks.  And you can't pet them (unless your my Grandma Tiffin and have very interesting gold fish)

So before I learned about rats, I though that if you wanted a cute furry animal that could learn their name, and cared about you, you were limited to two choices.  Cat or Dog.  Kevin and I both love dogs, but we're realistic and know that a dog's would be much more demanding on our schedules than we're willing to sacrifice, and we would both feel terrible leaving a dog alone to spend all day in a kennel.  Cats can be cool, but I also hate the smell of cat litter, and unless you have an exceptionally cool cat, they mostly just want to be left alone to lay in the sun.  Not to mention that Kevin's allergic to cats. 

Well here's where the rats come in.  I called up Petsmart with very low expectations on receiving quality pet advice, but I was super lucky and got to chat with Jessie, the most passionate and knowledgeable person about animals that I've ever met.  After talking for about 30 minutes on the phone, I asked her what pet she'd personally recommend, and she said that the best pet she ever owned was a rat.  Here are some of the things you may find surprising about rats:

  • Rats are extremely smart.  They are about as super curious and as intelligent as dogs and some are much more intelligent.
  • They are extremely social and get to know their owners.
  • They learn their names.
  • They come when called.
  • They can do tricks.
  • They are very clean animals and clean themselves constantly just like cats.
  • They can eat any kind of food.
  • They cost less than ten dollars and live less about 3 years... not a huge commitment.
  • You can buy two rats so they have a buddy to hang out with and if you need to leave for the weekend, or heck, even the week, you can just leave them plenty of food and water and they'll be fine.
Um, talk about the perfect pet.  Other than those GROSS rat tails....

Before making too many judgements about how gross rat tails are, I'd recommend you actually see one.  I was weirded out by the idea at first too, but once you hold a rat and see their funny furry little faces, their tails don't seem that gross at all. 

So enough of the yapping and onto some pictures.  Here's Kevin showing his niece Presleigh our rat Mims.  Presleigh is a very girly little girl, so we didn't know what she'd think of the rats, but she loved them.  We were a little worried she may scwosh them out of excitement, but she did great.

I took a little video of our rats.  Given the negative connotation to the word "rat" we've actually taken to calling them our "friends" instead of rats.  Makes for some funny jokes.  Yeah.  We're weird.

The last part of the video is Mims doing her walking trick.  That little bugger is smart.  She learns tricks soooo fast.  Oh, and the plastic wall contraption is a rat playpen that we bought online called the Grrreat wall.  It's super easy to put up and they can't escape.  Yes, you really can buy anything online, including a rat playpen :)

So what do you guys think?  Common, they're kinda cute huh?

Meet the rats: Mims and Murphy from Amanda Kohler on Vimeo.


Friday, February 4, 2011
I haven't blogged in well over a month and it has only made me realize just how much I like blogging.  Time flies by and then all of a sudden it's 2011 and you're like, where did the last month go?  At least when I'm blogging I get a little time to stop and reflect and maybe even post a picture or two. 

Last night I started looking at some of the pictures and videos I've taken over this month and I started to write a catch up post and realized there was no way everything was going to make it into one post.  So I've given up and decided to give up and just post a few of the highlights. 


My best friend Emily is family and someone who is more of a sister to me than anyone else.  Next to her I have three best friends that I've had since we were all in junior high school and I'm have been very lucky to have them as friends ever since.

Here's Steph, Kait, Stacie and I on the night Jake proposed.

Here's Kait and her soon to be husband Jake.  I think the doorway really gives some perspective on how tall Jake really is and how small our friend Kait is. 

And just for fun, some a picture of Kait and I when we graduated from high school and the four of us girls as seniors in high school. 

Congrats Kait and Jake.  So excited for you two and can't wait to be a bridesmaid!
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