Sunday, May 20, 2012

how does your garden grow?

i am a little hesitant to continue blogging about my attempts at gardening since i will likely jinx myself.
i have not been known to have a green thumb... at all. 
but if this garden doesn't make it, it is not for my lack of effort!

this weekend i went to the downtown farmers market and bought a couple more plants for our little garden.
and i decided that it was getting a little crowded out there,

so i made some plant markers to help keep it organized.

i just painted some paint stirrers {free at home depot} with black paint {$0.83 at hobby lobby} and wrote on them with a white paint marker {which i already had}.
total project = $0.83 

it is so exciting to see things starting to grow! 
especially since i thought that this pepper plant had died last week.

the tomatillo plants are probably my favorite plants in our garden. 
they just kind of do their own thing and drape their vines in all different directions.

and their cute little tomatillo 'pods' remind me of lanterns or lampshades. so fun!

this is one of the new plants that i got this weekend. 
i haven't had much luck growing basil indoors, so hopefully i will be able to keep it alive outside.

and i was SO excited to find that our little eggs in our lantern hatched last weekend.

and all 4 of the babies are doing well.

and i was rather shocked with what i found when i was watering my hanging flower baskets on tuesday.
another nest with 4 eggs in it!!!
our porch is quite the happening place this month.

this makes 8 babies on our porch 

i was just glad that i saw it before i drown them.

this is a picture of the babies yesterday

and here they are this afternoon a little more alert...
and i must say, it's getting kinda nasty in there.

so this afternoon i decided that with our growing aviary on the front porch
that i should probably provide some food for those hungry mamas.
so i made this little bird feeder to get us through till i find one that i want to invest in.

i just poked a couple holes in a soda bottle
 {sparkling pink lemonade to be exact} 
and stuck some bamboo skewers through for perches.
i am looking forward to watching our new little babies grow up.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

my little addiction {shoes}

last night was i was shoe "shopping" online, which i guess is the 2012 version of 'window shopping'
my husband made me aware of a little obsession that i now admit to having...
i love camel wedges. 
i already have more than a handful of them 
and it was brought to my attention that every pair of shoes that i
were camel or light brown wedges...
which i convinced myself was ok, because they are very 'practical', 
but at the same time
do i really need to be so practical?
and how many camel wedges does one girl need?
and i am disappointed that i am so predictable?
guess my husband should have no trouble buying me gifts. ;)

and these have cork soles which is very different.
 most of mine have the 'grass'-like (jute or hemp) soles

i justified these in that they are actually more 'chestnut' than camel

and these are metallic rather than camel, so they're different, right?

and these are cheetah, and animal print is the new neutral
and i will admit, i LOVE jessica simpson shoes... 
although i don't care for her much as a person

these are neutral and camel, but different from all the shoes that i already have
and i really like them.

but this is the turquoise version of the same shoe...
and turquoise is my FaVoRiTe color,
and i actually LOVE these!

these are a completely different style from what i usually go for
and i would consider this more of a 'mushroom' color
but definitely neutral

but it does come in mustard!

 and i am loving these gray suede wedges!
but they come in this WAY more fun indigo color!
and these are definitely adorbs!

but this 'salmon' color makes them so much more fun!

did i mention that i am a sucker for jessica simpson shoes?
and these combine the neutral with a pop of color

like these
 & capturing the latest trend- 
in gray and yellow, which is also trending in both fashion and design

again with the gray and yellow
which i have been told are the new 'neutrals'... 
which makes me feel like again i am being 
but really, what's wrong with practical?!

i think the main problem is that i have a shoe addiction...

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

you just can't be too cheesy

i have to admit that dairy is probably my favorite food group.
 i honestly don't know if i could survive without cheese and ice cream. 
must be my french heritage coming out.

i will say that the 2 recipes that i am about to post are not recipes that we eat on an every-day basis, or even monthly,  although i wish that i could eat them more frequently without seeing their results. ;)

crazy good 
bacon mac n cheese
this mac n cheese recipe has evolved over the past couple years.
and i must say that we have definitely enjoyed the 'experimental' process that i have gone through to come up with the {likely not so} final product.

just looking at this picture makes me want some... it's SOOOO good!

1 1/2 cups skim milk
One 12 oz can evaporated skim milk (evaporated milk keeps the egg and milk from curdling)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted & cooled to room temp
3 large eggs
1 tsp salt
3 cups (12 oz) shredded cheese 
(I used 2 cups Italian blend and 1 cup cheddar)
1/2 pound macaroni [i prefer the corkscrew pasta], par cooked and drained 
(*cook the pasta for about five minutes until tender but not completely cooked)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. ground mustard
1 tsp. tabasco sauce or 1/4 t. cayenne pepper (optional)
6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
3 green onions, sliced thinly
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
{for slow cooker- i.e. crockpot}
1. Spray the inside of your slow-cooker with cooking spray or grease it with olive oil. Combine milk, evaporated milk, eggs, butter, and salt in slow-cooker and whisk until until smooth (or you can use an immersion blender to do the whisking for you).

2. Add the shredded cheeses (not the Parmesan) and pre-cooked pasta, sprinkle with black pepper, oregano, garlic powder, ground mustard, and tabasco or cayenne. stir well.

Add green onions and bacon . Stir gently with a spatula to coat evenly.

Sprinkle the parmesan cheese on top and a little paprika then cover and cook on HIGH for 30 minutes

After 30 minutes, reduce the temperature to LOW and cook for 2 hours, until custard is set in the center and the pasta is tender. The macaroni and cheese may sit in the cooker on the KEEP WARM setting for 30 minutes before serving.

it looks something like this.

in the slow cooker version, the edges browned a little more than my liking (although it did not burn).
so i decided to try it in the oven.
i baked it at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes. 
i made it in the dutch oven and in a glass 9" x 13" pan and both turned out beautifully! 

serve as a main dish or as a side at your next cookout.
my family told me that it goes great with barbeque sandwiches 
{unfortunately... i am a disgrace to my southern upbringing
and i do not like barbeque.
 but my mom made bbq and i made mac n cheese and everyone seemed happy} 


cheesy stuffed mushroom bread

i originally got this recipe from my aunt deb when i was in jr. high.
and with some minor changes, this is the most insane cheesy bread that you ever put in your mouth!

yes, it looks about as ridiculous as it actually is, but it is A-MA-ZING!!!!!

1 loaf italian bread
2 sticks margarine, melted
1/2 lb. baby swiss cheese {or cheese of your choice}, shredded
8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced and sauteed (or a small can of mushrooms)
1/4 c. c chopped onion (about 1/2 of a small onion)
2-3 T. chopped fresh chives
2 T. poppy seeds
1 T dijon mustard

1. place bread on sheet of foil on a cookie sheet. slice bread horizontally.

2. mix cheese, mushrooms, onions, chives, poppy seeds, and mustard.
then pour the melted margarine over the cheese mixture.

mix the buttery, cheesy mess gently 

stuff the bread with the cheesy mushroom mixture.
seal inside the foil and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
let cool for 10-15 minutes before slicing.
slice into 12-15 pieces.

beware of food coma!!! 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

no-grocery challenge

for whatever crazy reason
 last week when i 'desperately needed' to go to the grocery store, i decided that we are far too wasteful.
 i looked at what we had in the freezer and pantry and i told my husband that i wanted to try to make it 15 days without buying groceries.
i was actually surprised that he seemed okay with it.
so... several interesting, but surprisingly good dinners later, i thought that i would share one of the 'freezer leftover recipes' that i came up with. 
we may never have these leftovers in the freezer and pantry again, but i really loved this recipe and might make it again... with some minor adjustments.

peanutbutter pasta & potsticker meatballs

i do realize that this picture actually doesn't make it look appetizing, or even close to as delicious as it was
but it was rather incredible despite its randomness.

i was fortunate enough to have 1/2 a batch of pork wonton {potsticker} filling in the freezer 
[recipe below]
so, i just thawed it & rolled it into meatballs and browned them in a skillet with a little olive oil.

pretty sure that the meatballs were my husband's favorite part of this meal.

next i sauted in 1 T. olive oil:
3 cups chopped cabbage
1 medium onion, chopped
2 small carrots, julienned

cook the vegetables until softened then reduce heat to low.

while the veggies were cooking i started boiling my pasta [al dente]. 
my husband prefers any long, skinny pasta over the smaller shapes, but i only had about 1/2 serving of whole wheat linguini, so i used that and about 1/2 lb. of whole wheat rotini noodles.
i also added about 1 cup of frozen edamame beans to the pasta while it was cooking.

next make the sauce:
1/3 c. peanut butter 
(i used creamy, but crunchy would be good as well) 
2 t. lime juice
3 t. brown sugar
3 t. soy sauce
3 t. worchestershire sauce 
1/2 t. crushed red pepper
1 t. curry powder
1/4 t. ground cloves
3 cloves garlic, minced 

once above ingredients are heated through, gradually add 
1 1/2 c. half & half
*do not boil*

mix cooked pasta with sauce and veggies.
stir in 3 T. chopped cilantro.
hope you like it. :)

oh, and my husband's only complaint was one that i could have predicted, 
he didn't care for the rotini noodles. 

**potsticker filling {meatball recipe}**
1/2 c minced cabbage- pour boiling water over cabbage and let sit 1/2 hour
3/4 lb. ground pork
4 t. soy sauce
dash pepper
2 cloves minced garlic
1 1/2 t. minced ginger
2 egg whites
2 T. chopped green onion

mix above filling ingredients and chill 1/2 hour before using

Monday, May 7, 2012

the latest around our house

i realized a few weeks ago that it's been months since i posted pictures of our 'kids.'

can you tell amos has grown? :)

they have been LOVING the warmer weather and all of the extra outdoor time that they have been getting. 
and i will admit, i probably enjoy our walks as much as they do. 
paisley has adjusted very well to having a 'little' brother... and she also doesn't seem to have noticed that he is no longer little. 
it has been ridiculous watching amos grow. we often have to remind ourselves that he is still a puppy.

he is 7 months old and 100 lbs of sweetness. he is so incredibly affectionate. 
i never thought that he would be so BIG this soon, but he really has no idea that he is big. 

he still tries to sit on my lap 

and he doesn't seem to notice that he towers over his sister.

paisley is so sweet and patient though. she has actually become a little more snuggly, probably because she has competition for attention... and is rather jealous after being the only child.

she definitely fits the 'needy' characteristic of the weimeraner breed. 

but she is clearly happy to have a playmate.

i will admit, that i never imagined that SO much of my time would be consumed by dogs, especially after growing up without ever having a dog. 

i did manage to find a little time to do other things this month though.
about a month ago a did a little work on the front porch.

i will admit that i have never had good luck keeping plants alive. pets and children are so much easier... or maybe not.
but every year i do manage to keep my hanging plants alive. 

this year i planted them really early. i ususally just plant sweet potato vine (both purple and bright green), but since spring (high 80's and 90's) started in february this year, i couldn't find those yet. so, i planted 2 kinds of ivy and impatiens...
but i was REALLY excited to find ranunculus(es)!!!
{my VERY favorite flower}
they didn't last very long, but they made me smile every time that i saw them

aren't they so fun? they were in the middle of my hanging baskets, 
but didn't make it till i remembered to get pictures

i was also really excited to get our porch lanterns. 

we spend at least part of every summer evening out on the front porch, so it is so fun to have our 'nightlights'

we LOVE our little downtown porch

i think that new house numbers might be an upcoming project. ;)

this cute little guy showed up to watch over our garden

i have wanted a gnome for years and my husband got me this little guy on our anniversary trip. 
isn't he cute?

this weekend my parents and i went to the local farmers market to get some produce and some tomato plants. i was so appreciative to have my dad's gardening expertise.
i actually ended up getting 4 times as many plants as i had planned to get.
i planted a whole salsa garden-
4 kinds of tomatoes, 3 kinds of peppers, tomatillos
& cucumbers and okra
[both of which were starts from my dad]

don't you love the gaping hole in the masonry? 
the joys of old homes... and renting. (sigh)

and an exciting little happening on our front porch this week was the appearance of a nest in one of the hanging lanterns from our rehearsal dinner.

my mother-in-law got these lanterns to decorate the tables at the rehearsal dinner

and this weekend i noticed that there was a little nest inside one of them 

here is the mama bird sitting on her nest. :)
she is rather anxious when we bring the dogs out on the porch, but we are enjoying getting to watch the whole process.