Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Westie in a Well

The fresh spring air has inspired me to tackle some of the nagging items on the to-do list. One of the many is to re-paint the mirror that we have hanging in our living room. I love the mirror, a pass-along from my mom, but it's too plain for the space where it hangs. It's hanging on a beige wall (the paint color is literally named "utterly beige". How depressing.), above a brown leather chair and between two brown & beige curtains. Did I tell you the Leimenstolls were the most boring couple on the planet? Potentially a true story based on my design decisions of late. We need a little drama. Pics of the final product will come soon, but the best part of the entire process was watching Frank "discover" himself in the mirror. I think at one point he thought a fellow Westie had fallen in a well and was signaling him for help. Frank has a lot of good qualities, but he's no Lassie.

Monday, March 21, 2011


So... lately, I've been on a sandwich kick for lunch. And for some reason, I'd rather eat a sandwich in front of the T.V. rather than at the table. Dinner is the complete opposite. Lately when I've been eating lunch on the couch, Frank will appear from out of nowhere and stalk my plate. Literally, he creeps up silently and parks himself at my feet. Sometimes he sends a quick bark/yelp, that translates to "yo ma, i think you forgot to make me one!" Sometimes he turns on his cat-dog moves, scales the back of the couch and attempts a sneak attack from above. Other times he just sits at my feet looking pitiful.  When it comes to the four-legged, the ONE thing that we have been strict about is"people food". Frank gets fed dog food once in the morning. He gets fed dog food once in the evening. 1/2 cup serving each. No wonder he only weighs 15 lbs. I could weigh 15 lbs. too if someone fed me every meal. Occasionally Frank lucks out in the kitchen when something falls off the counter, but for the most part, he's all dog food all the time. A.J. bought me a door mat for the garage that reads: "THE DOG, DAY 751: MY CAPTORS CONTINUE TO TORMENT ME WITH BIZARRE RUBBER SQUEAK TOYS. THEY EAT LAVISH MEALS IN MY PRESENCE WHILE I AM FORCED TO SUBSIST ON DRY CEREAL. THE ONLY THING THAT KEEPS ME GOING IS THE HOPE OF EVENTUAL ESCAPE...THAT, AND THE SATISFACTION I GET FROM OCCASIONALLY RUINING SOME PIECE OF FURNITURE. I FEAR I MAY BE GOING INSANE".

Sorry, tuna is just not photogenic.
Friday was Frank's lucky day. My phone rang in the kitchen, I absent-mindedly put my plate on the couch when I went for my phone. I came back to find half of this sandwich on my plate. The other half on the floor where Frank was doing quick work on devouring it. He's no dummy. Everyone deserves a break sometimes, especially on a Friday.

On the same topic - I thought I'd share the latest home project happening around these parts. When we were in San Fran last fall, it was our good fortune to be introduced to Gott's Roadside Tray Gourmet (www.gotts.com). It's burgers and fries, but so much more. There's one in the Embarcadero section of the city, but also one parked right in the heart of Napa. Just like Frank, Gott's is no dummy. People who have been stumbling around all day swishing and swirling wine can think of nothing better to eat than a hamburger and sweet potato fries. A life changer.

Food aside, Gott's interior styling is so great. It feels like a diner. But clean and modern too if that's possible. They have this enormous neon sign above the grill that says "EAT".  Yes, please. When we got home, I realized that we have this small piece of wall above our sink that was screaming for an "EAT" sign. And besides, if anyone were to ever get confused as to the purpose of the kitchen, all they need to do is look up. Unfortunately, the red head vetoed neon-stylings for our kitchen, so I modified the design a bit.

I bought the letters at JoAnn's for less than $3 a piece. I found this great wood-grain wrapping paper at Kate's Paperie in NYC (http://katespaperie.com/)  when we were visiting Emily. The paper design was VERY forgiving as I tried my best to cover each letter completely. A less-busy design would probably have shown the patchwork efforts of my decoupage.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Frank's Tough Life: Comfy Cozy Couch Cushions

There are two possible scenarios that we are faced with each night at dinner time. 

1) Frank barks at the wind and acts like a raving lunatic, physically removing himself from the floor with the intensity of his barks. It makes for a very enjoyable meal.

2) Frank curls up in our living room like the cutest puppy in the whole world.

The ratio of #1 to #2 is very unbalanced.

Tonight Frank chose Door #2 and I managed to snap a few pics.

We have two big brown couches that form an L in our living room. L for Leimenstoll. Frank can easily walk from one couch to the other, and he does so often. He also rocks his most cat-like moves and perches himself on top of every cushion available to him. He stays on one for about 10 mins. Then he moves onto the other. And then he'll switch couches. And perch. And so on and so on. You know how designers like the karate-chopped look of pillows? Well Frank could most definitely be a professional cushion-chopper. On the rare days that I clean the house, I literally pull the cushion down so it's horizontal, beat the living h*ll out of it with my fist to redistribute the filling, and then sit on it for good measure. A properly formed couch cushion lasts for about 5 minutes if Frank is sleepy.

I took these pictures within a 10 minute time span. You'll see that he rotates between the "Seal w/ Ears", "Plankton" and "One-eyed pirate" sleep moves very quickly.

Excuse the fuzzy pictures - I took these tonight 2 glass of wine deep and with little lighting.

You can't deny that he looks like a beached seal with ears.

Cushions have been officially chopped.

A.J. thinks he looks like a little bear. I think he looks like a sea plankton.

You should see the bed-head he has when he wakes up from this position.

Monday, March 14, 2011

NZ is more than just a pretty face. Pavlova instruction.

A.J. turned 30 on 3/10, and his birthday request was a home-cooked dinner at home. So sweet. A.J. didn't really have an opinion what we had for dinner, but he knew what he wanted for his birthday dessert...Pavlova.. 

When A.J. and I went to NZ in 2009, little did I know that we would be introduced to the dessert-of-all-desserts: PAVLOVA. (Can you hear the angels singing??) We spent Christmas with A.J.'s cousins Linda & Tim (and their amazing kids Maddie & Charlie). To spend Xmas with family on the other side of the world was pretty awesome. Tim's mom Robbie is apparently known for her mad, mad Pavlova skills. When I heard what she was serving for dessert I was nervous. Pavlova? It sounds like some kind of ambrosia, jello-mold grossness. And then I heard what makes Pavlova tick: a huge meringue, fresh whipped cream and delicious berries on top. I'm all in.

Start with the mega-meringue.... (see instructions @ the bottom)

Wash, cut, lightly sugar the fruit. (You can use any type of berry)

Spread whipped cream lightly on top of meringue. In this situation, more is definitely more.

Top with berries and DIG IN.

Pavlova Recipe: 


4 large (120 grams) egg whites
1 cup (200 grams) superfine (castor) sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch (corn flour)
1 cup (240 ml) heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 tablespoons (20 grams) granulated white sugar (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Fresh fruit - kiwi, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, passion fruit, peaches, pineapple, or other fruit of your choice

Pavlova: Preheat oven to 250 degrees F (130 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and draw a 7 inch (18 cm) circle on the paper. Turn the parchment paper over so the circle is on the reverse side.
In the bowl of your electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium speed until they hold soft peaks. Start adding the sugar, a tablespoon at a time, and continue to beat, on high speed, until the meringue holds very stiff and shiny peaks. (Test to see if the sugar is fully dissolved by rubbing a little of the meringue between your thumb and index finger. The meringue should feel smooth, not gritty. If it feels gritty the sugar has not fully dissolved so keep beating until it feels smooth between your fingers). Beat in the vanilla extract. Sprinkle the vinegar and cornstarch over the top of the meringue and, with a rubber spatula, gently fold in. Spread the meringue inside the circle drawn on the parchment paper, smoothing the edges, making sure the edges of the meringue are slightly higher than the center. (You want a slight well in the center of the meringue to place the whipped cream and fruit.)
Bake for 60 to 75 minutes or until the outside is dry and is a very pale cream color. Turn the oven off, leave the door slightly ajar, and let the meringue cool completely in the oven. (The outside of the meringue will feel firm to the touch, if gently pressed, but as it cools you will get a little cracking and you will see that the inside is soft and marshmallowy.) 
The cooled meringue can be made and stored in a cool dry place, in an airtight container, for a few days. 
Just before serving gently place the meringue onto a serving plate. Whip the cream in your electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, until soft peaks form. Sweeten with the sugar and vanilla and then mound the softly whipped cream into the center of the meringue. Arrange the fruit randomly, or in a decorative pattern, on top of the cream. Serve immediately as this dessert does not hold for more than a few hours.
Serves 6 to 8.

Frank's available for clean-up duty. Just send him a message on facebook.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Mr. Sunshine

One of my favorite features of our new(ish) home is the shifting sunspots we find throughout the day. We're on the end of a row, so we get the added benefit of a few extra windows. A major plus in my opinion. Now that the days are getting longer and warmer, the sun is sneaking in more and more. It makes all three Leimenstolls quite happy.
I brought the laundry upstairs and this is who I found guarding the third floor.

I managed to step over Frank, put the laundry in our bedroom, go down the hall, grab my camera, step back over Frank and snap this shot. He was so focused on his sunbathing that I could have tap-danced on his head. Tough, tough life.

Friday, March 11, 2011

A Very Big Life for a Very Small Dog

I asked the Facebook community: "If I started a blog, would you read it?"

  The unanimous answer was "YES* " 
* = Only if you're talking about Frank

I accepted the fact that a 15lb. dog that doesn't speak is more interesting than me, and started this blog today. I'll explain the name of the blog in another post, but I figured I should make it family-related in case we ever add numbers to our clan. (Don't get excited, I'm currently drinking a bottle of wine and a triple-venti Sbux espresso right now. NOT pregnant. I'm just a planner at heart) Also, so far I'm a sub-par blogger, so excuse the mish-mash of photos below. I'll get my act together at some point. Promise.

For those unfamiliar with the living legend that is Frank, here's his match.com bio:

Name: Francis Leimenstoll  
Born: 08/04/08 in outskirts of Charlotte
Purchased as a 3rd anniversary gift between A.J. & Megs. 
(You should see the 4th anniversary Frank portrait. Our love for him has made us stupid.)
Height: short (about 12 inches from the ground when standing)
Weight: 15lbs
- A very, very good barker. One of the best. (or the worst depending on who you ask. My father has not-so-fondly nicknamed him Bob Barker.)
-Break-dances when wet. 
Loves the car.  
Loves the park.
Loves to walk.  

Below are some pics from the past 2.5 years.

He joined the family at 6 weeks old - tipping the scales at 2.5 lbs.

Frank's best feature: the ultimate Grandpa eyebrows
Within one week of moving in with my parents in 2009, Frank scalped one of mom's dolls. I think he was sending a message.
I think he ate a pair of my shoes immediately after this Easter photoshoot. Payback's a b*tch.

Family shot w/ his cousin Boomer. Definitely Frank's awkward stage. One ear up, and some weird red-armpit problem.