Make homemade pasta √

For years my wonderful friend Emily and I have talked about getting together to learn how to make homemade pasta. You see, I had a dream, and she had a pasta roller. It was a match made in culinary heaven.

meEmily and her family moved away this month, 😦
but not before we had a chance to make our dream a reality. She and I and several of our girlfriends got together for a pasta-making party. Now, not one of us had ever made pasta from scratch. So imagine the scenario (and throw in a little wine for good measure) and you can see how some minor chaos took place that night.

The BEST thing we did was have one of the girls bring a pasta dough she’d already prepared. That gave us a great start on rolling and cutting pasta while we mixed up a second batch of dough. The WORST thing we did (ok, not quite the worst, but I’ll get to that), was make an attempt at putting together a semolina dough in the mixer. I still don’t know what we did wrong, but that dough was waaaaaay too dense to be kneaded by hand or even by the almighty KitchenAid!

Val takes a turn kneading the semolina dough

Val takes a turn kneading the silly semolina dough

Thankfully things took a turn for the better from there. We used a tomato basil dough to create filled pastas like ravioli and tortellini and shredded a plain dough into fettuccine. They both tasted amazing. The poor semolina dough was relegated to become gnocchi, which still didn’t turn out very well. Poor, unwanted semolina dough.


I had a great time making the pasta. The pasta roller/cutter attachment is pretty addicting. I could probably roll and cut pasta dough all day. It was very cathartic, ha ha.


And I LOVED working alongside my best friends, even those who just stood nearby, drinking wine and eating bruschetta and mocking our dough-making abilities. 😉

As it turns out, they should’ve been mocking my pasta cooking abilities. I mentioned there was a “worst thing” that happened on pasta night. While we were boiling the pasta, I made the mistake of grabbing a hot piece of metal and burning my hand pretty badly. That put a major damper on the evening for me—I did my eating with one hand on ice and left before anyone else. Waaah. 😦

Despite my little incident, I’d love to make homemade pasta on a more regular basis. So far the best deal I’ve seen on Craigslist for the KitchenAid set is $100. Yeah. So, if you or your grandma or your neighbor’s garage sale is looking to offload a pasta roller, let me know!



Mmm… molto bene.


Buttercream basics

cakeFor my birthday last month, my ever-supportive husband surprised me with registration and supplies for the Wilton Cake Decorating class at Michaels.

I’ve always been interested in the cake classes, but they’re fairly spendy, and you have to take class 1 before you can take the rest, so I’d wondered whether it would be worth the time and money to just get the basics. Lately, though, I’ve realized that I could benefit from a better foundation of knowledge about frosting and techniques.

So, during the month of June I’ll be learning “buttercream basics” alongside a handful of other sweet-tooths. (teeth?)  I’d invited a few friends to take the class with me, but no one else has taken the plunge, so the course will also give me a good opportunity to practice goal number 5—talking to strangers. 🙂

I’ll let you know how the class goes and whether it’s a good investment!

(By the way, if YOU want to take this class with me, let me know. The class is on sale for $20 and materials are like $30 so far.)


346 days until I turn 30


Photo: Michael Prudhomme at en.wikipedia [CC-BY-SA-3.0, GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC-BY-2.5], from Wikimedia Commons

A little Pinspiration

Are you on Pinterest? I am. All… the… time. Ok, not really, but I do check in a couple of times a day. It’s become a great place for me to store ideas and how-to’s to access later as well as a fun way to get inspired.

I’ve created a Thirty x 30 board where I’m keeping track of helpful info for achieving my goals. You can check it out below, and please send me any pins you think will help me in my quest.

{Click to view board}

Happy birthday to me!

Today is my 29th birthday, which marks the beginning of the end of my Thirty x 30 list. At this point I don’t have a lot of confidence that I’ll be completing it, but I do want to achieve as many goals and experiences as possible in this final year.

My plan at this point is to start what I’m calling a “goal snowball”—starting with the simplest, most readily achievable goals and using that momentum to work my way up from there. Here are the five I plan to tackle first. (Click on any one to read more about the motivation behind it.)bday

  1. #8  Learn to drive stick
  2. #9  Wear red lipstick
  3. #14  Cook Grandma’s chicken strata
  4. #20  Order wedding photos
  5. #22  Make homemade pasta, egg rolls and crepes

Let me know if you’re interested in getting in on helping with any of these or other goals on my list. I’ll likely be looking for a museum, cake class or study buddy soon!


365 days until I turn 30

#27 See a movie in 3D √

3d-glassesBefore I’d seen any movies in 3D, I was definitely wondering whether it was worth all the hype. The great thing is, I waited to see any real 3D movies until after most of the new-technology hype had died down. That space allowed for movie-makers to move from using 3D as a gimmick to using it in a way that actually made sense.

I saw my first real* 3D movie just a few months ago. My wonderful hubby surprised me with a date—our first real date since having a baby—and let me pick the movie. I chose Gravity, and since he’d heard that the only way to see that movie is in 3D, we sprang for the option (ka-ching, ka-ching) and spent the next hour and a half in space, fully immersed in the experience the on-screen characters were having.

If you plan to see this movie and didn’t see it in a theatre, you missed out. The ability to watch in 3D really takes the film and turns it into an experience. You feel like you’re floating in space right along with George and Sandra, and you really experience the intensity of the moments they’re in. I can’t really imagine seeing Gravity any other way.

Now, I highly doubt that all 3D movies use the technology in such a meaningful way, but I am now certainly open to the opportunity of seeing another one.

Just… not at prime time. (OMG, most expensive movie I’ve ever seen!)


373 days until I turn 30

Leave a comment: What’s the best movie you’ve seen in 3D?


*I keep referring to a “real” 3D movie because I was at one point intending to write about having seen 3D films at Walt Disney World, such as MuppetVision 3D. While those were super fun and did include 3D (or “4D”) technology, they weren’t what I’d originally had in mind when I set the goal. That said, I’m totally in ❤ with WDW, so here’s a photo of me getting ready to watch MuppetVision. So hot.


Never too old

A friend of mine posted this on her Facebook wall recently:
“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” -C.S. Lewis


And just in case C.S. Lewis isn’t really your guy, I offer you instead a pep talk from Kid President.

It doesn’t matter how old you are. Get on the path that leads to awesome.

#12 Go Rock Climbing or Rappelling √

Going rock climbing or rappelling has been a goal of mine for a long time. It was probably one of the first items to find it way onto my list, so it’s not surprising that it’s one of the first that I actually made happen.pinnacle

As I mentioned previously, Minnesota isn’t exactly a mountainous place, but one bluff makes its home right in the middle of the Twin Cities—the Pinnacle climbing wall at the R.E.I. store in Bloomington. True, it’s not a real rock face, but the wall at R.E.I. stands at 55 feet high and includes climbing paths in a variety of difficulty levels.

Last summer our church’s pastor taught a series titled “Accept the Challenge,” and as a staff we made a series of fun videos featuring ourselves accepting various physical challenges. Scaling the Pinnacle was one of the first ideas we came up with as a team, and it was one I made sure stayed on the list as other ideas came and went. Every time it was discussed, I made sure the rest of the team knew that that was MY challenge. A friend and fellow staff member joined me, as did my husband (behind the scenes), and the three of us set our sights on that 55-foot precipice.

climbingThe path we climbed was a 5.7, for any climbers out there who know what that means, and it was TOUGH. As my first real climb, it took me awhile to figure out the method and the strategy. I actually fell off after just a few steps and had to start over. There were multiple instances where I got stuck and needed some encouragement from my friends below to keep going. Eventually, though, I made it to the top—which just felt AWESOME! There’s something very gratifying about a tangible goal, where you can get to the end and say YES, I definitely did it.

As you might expect, once you get to the top of the wall, you have to rappel to get back down. So, I guess you could call this goal doubly met. The rappelling part would’ve been more fun had I not been totally exhausted from the climb. I think it would be fun to simply rappel sometime on a real rock face. All the view without all the work!

>> Check out the video of our climb on Facebook!

Aaron and I are actually members at R.E.I. now, which means we can go climbing there anytime we want, but we’ve only been one other time since I became pregnant pretty soon after that. Turns out it’s not really a great idea to climb when you’re pregnant, ha ha. I hope to find an opportunity to do it again soon, though. I wonder if they’ll let me climb with a baby strapped to my back…  Ha, I kid.


471 days until I turn 30