Know Any Good Cast Iron Jokes?

Most people know the basics of cooking. But did you know that in order to make a meal truly special, you must begin by arranging all of your ingredients in pretty bowls and placing them on and around the antique kitchen scale your husband balked at? It’s true. Do not skip this step. No substitutions.

Ingredients from Blue Apron for Chicken Bolognese & Rigatoni Pasta with Mascarpone Cheese & Summer Squash-Arugula Salad

Brandon was a little confused by the scale’s arrival, seeing as how we don’t have all that much counter space in our kitchen, but I showed him, didn’t I. Everyone appoints their kitchens according to an item’s photogenic qualities, yes? (It could have been much worse.)

And it’s cast iron, which goes nicely with our cast iron stove and my new cast iron braiser. I haven’t seen Inception, so I had to ask Brandon if it was an appropriate reference for making a joke here. All I know is it’s a dream about a dream inside a dream… swap out the “dream” with “cast iron” and there’s a joke in there somewhere. No? He said no. So I challenged him to come up with something better, which he could not, because it seems I had not stumbled upon the comedic goldmine I thought I had.


I do love that new braiser though. I’ve cooked with cast iron and baked with enameled cast iron before, but I would have normally used our big stainless steel sauté pan for a dish like this (chicken bolognese & rigatoni pasta with mascarpone cheese from our latest Blue Apron delivery). The braiser is about the same size, but it regulates the heat much better on our crazy stove and it was still easy to clean. Plus, it is a lovely shade of pink.

I did not have something suitably twee for making the summer squash-arugula salad, and so I had to settle for a perfectly useful but not terribly cute stainless steel mixing bowl. My assistant made up for it with added cuteness, which was welcome — though she did keep stealing slices of the squash.

Making Summer Squash Salad

Summer Squash Salad

Look, the scale is useful once again!

Dinner Scale

That pasta was tasty. I don’t think I had cooked with mascarpone before, and it added a nice creaminess. That’s part of why I like Blue Apron: there’s usually an interesting ingredient or twist on a classic dish that we wouldn’t have thought of. Having the meal planning done for us is awesome too, and everything ships for free. If you want to get an idea of what you get, you can browse their recipes. Don’t the Thai-spiced salmon and hoisin-glazed chicken thighs look good?

Chicken Bolognese & Rigatoni Pasta with Mascarpone Cheese & Summer Squash-Arugula Salad

The Family Plan with a delivery once a week works for us, but they also offer two shipments per week or a smaller 2-Person Plan, and you can skip or cancel any time. I’m always happy to share them on the blog, and Blue Apron is offering the first 100 readers that sign up here two free meals on their first Blue Apron order!

And I was close to something with the cast iron thing there, right?

Five Little Fluff Balls

I had been suspecting it for a couple of weeks now. A quick search confirmed that Speedy did indeed look like a pregnant guinea pig, but I couldn’t successfully tell if Gingerbread was male or female. Supposedly, we had two girls. Brandon thought that Speedy was just getting fat, and maybe she was getting more food because she was the dominant one.

They’re a family of five now. Just like us.


Guinea Pig Babies

Eleanor is SO excited. “They’re in love! They got married!” The babies have names already. Butterscotch (everyone’s favorite), Noisy (because it was making noise, obviously), and Cute-Cute (he/she is cute).

Speedy, Butterscotch, Cute-Cute, and Noisy

Their papa is in his own cage now. ↓

Gingerbread the Guinea Pig

I’ve heard stories about people bringing home an already-pregnant pet, but ours are definitely the proud parents. We’ve had them for longer than the gestation period. And here’s a fun fact that I did not know before: guinea pigs will mate and can conceive again immediately after birth! So we’ve got that going for us. We woke up to discover the babies, and I had Gingerbread in his own cage a couple of hours after that, but I hope I’m not too late. Giving birth is hard on their little bodies (look at how big the babies are compared to their mom), and back-to-back pregnancies don’t always end well.

Guinea Pig Mom and Babies

I’ll check and recheck and make my best call as to which ones are boys and which are girls, but I’m planning to take them to the vet for verification. I’m hoping that Speedy can live with her daughter(s) and Gingerbread can live with his son(s). Guinea pigs are social creatures and they’re much happier in pairs.

Guinea Pig Family


DIY Abstract Art Clock and Serving Tray

All reviews and opinions expressed in this post are unbiased and based on my personal view.

I was able to chat with David Bromstad recently about his limited-edition labels for Coffee-mate’s French Vanilla and Hazelnut bottles. There are four designs — two for each flavor — and they will only be available at Target. I loved his approach to the designs, and being known for his painting skills and use of color, I was inspired by David and “the art of a fresh start” to do a little painting of my own. I customized a tray, and wanted to take on another project too. I suggested a clock last week and you were into the idea, so I went for it!

The tray was cute, but you guys. The clock? LOVE IT. Eleanor has already laid claim on it, so it’s going to be moving to her room, and August wants one too (in red). Here it is paired up for now though with it the tray that preceded it. I even snipped a few flowers from the yard for the table, remembering David’s fondness for his mom’s garden.

An #InspiredStart with David Bromstad's Coffee-Mate Designs | Making it Lovely

David Bromstad's Designs for Coffee-Mate

Want to make a clock or tray (or both) of your own? Here’s what you’ll need:

DIY Abstract Art Clock & Tray| Coffee-Mate & Making it Lovely #InspiredStart

Painting a Serving Tray

I started by taping off the sides of the serving tray with painter’s tape so that they would stay white. I used small (4-6″) strips of tape because it’s easier to work with than long pieces, and I let them overlap a little each time for complete coverage.

Serving Tray and Craft Supplies

I was aiming for an abstract look, concentrating on fields and splashes of color. (Eh? Inspired by David. Get it?) Magic animated gif painting process time!

Abstract Painting | Making it Lovely

I peeled the tape off carefully and let the tray sit overnight to be sure that the paint was completely dry.

DIY Abstract Art Painted Tray | Making it Lovely

The paint peeking out from the bottom of the tray is such a happy detail! Little things like that are always a nice grace note in the morning.

An Abstract Painted Serving Tray, with David Bromstad's #InspiredStart Designs for Coffee-Mate | Making it Lovely

An Abstract Art Wall Clock

Painting the clock was similar, but with a few differences to note. I chose the paint the sides and the face, so there was no need to tape anything off. I also wanted to add a bit of gold this time. I had picked up a bottle of gold paint to use on the tray, but I changed my mind. The raised numbers on the clock presented themselves as the perfect spot for it!

Clock, Taken Apart

I unscrewed the clock and took everything apart so I could paint the face. I let the colors mix together more here than I did with the tray. I also used a round brush instead of a wide filbert, so that changed the look too.

Initial Layers of Pink and Red Paint

The first few layers don’t look terribly promising, but the magic comes as you keep going. I had a hard time deciding when to stop because I kept wanting to tweak it here and there, but I had to call it and walk away so I wouldn’t overwork it or muddy the colors.

Abstract Art Clock Painting in Progress

I let the paint dry completely before coming back to paint those numbers gold. The metallic paint was semi-translucent, and I think it took about five coats for it to turn opaque. The numbers catch the light in the best way though, so taking the time to apply layer after layer of gold was worth it!

Painting the Clock Numbers Gold

After the paint on the numbers dried, I reassembled the clock and hung it. Not a bad way to check the time, right? Eleanor’s a smart kid, stealing that clock for herself.

Adorable DIY Painted Clock | Making it Lovely

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