Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Grandma's Vase

And Peonies.
This is the better picture of the peonies.
This is the better picture of the vase.

I happened upon a blog a few weeks ago where the guy writing it 
was going to take a year and write a story about a different
item in his apartment each day.
He lived in a New York City apartment and by all estimates
with the knowledge the rest of the world has about the 
size of New York apartments, one would assume he 
would run out of things fast.
Uh, no, he had a shot of the whole apartment, 
he's probably set for a couple of years.

The concept intrigued me because as most people who know
me will tell you, just about everything in my life
has a story. 
Mom and Big said that if someone asked Grandpa what time 
it was he would tell them how to build a clock. 
I am happy to know I come by this naturally. 
As in, not my fault.

But I digress, I have some fun stories that I am just sure
the world needs me to impart and objects that invoke those
memories and stories. 
Visuals if you will!
But how quickly would this project turn into,
Lookey, Lookey, what I've got?
Lookey, Lookey what I've got! 
Now come steal it?

So I will not be swiping that guy in New York's idea. 
This is, however, the long way of getting to that vase.
And the peonies.

The vase belonged to my grandmother and as I recall, 
she was big on putting lilacs in it. 
I had about 6 blooms on my lilac bushes this year.
Suppose I did something wrong in my pruning last year?
But my peonies are prolific!
Grandma and Big had massive peony bushes outside
their front door.
Peonies in that vase feel right.

Hmm, lead up to the story is bigger than the story.
There's a story there.....

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Challenge

Can I put together a Memorial Day buffet table
with only the items I have in my house?

The only items I purchased, aside from food-stuffs, were the
napkins and plastic cups.

How old do you suppose this is?
 Bad news is, if Mike ever entertained the thought that 
I would start throwing stuff out, he's toast.
This just proves how you never know 
when something might come in handy!
I honestly had flags and brand new blue bandanas.
You can't make this stuff up.

I did have to buy these:
The candy, not the plate, ribbon, little cups
or little flag stickers on the cups.

Yep, Hoarders, here I come!
Sorry Honey :o)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Low Sodium BBQ

Yes, it can be done!
Honey is having some blood pressure issues.
Since my heart lives in his heart, I am
very motivated to rectify the situation.
I can't remove the stress or change heredity but I can

Did you know salt is in like, EVERYTHING!?
The good news is, I use very few prepared foods.
Those seem to be the biggest offenders.
Bad news, 
so many of the condiments that make cooking so easy are 
chock full o'sodium. 
But, I WILL rise to the challenge!

Well, me, with the assist of the internet. 
I came across this site:
I used their "Barbecued Spareribs 2" recipe as a start and 
changed it up by immersing country ribs in 
the cooking liquid in a slow cooker. 
After 8 hours I took the meat out and shredded it and 
then reduced some of the sauce down and added the 
molasses, vinegar and mustard. 
It was delicious. 

And I've learned something new about myself, 
I'm actually pumped for this new challenge.
Heart disease wants to put the love of my life in it's cross hairs
and I won't have it!

Oh, and I found uncured hot dogs so all is not lost :o)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Number 200!!!!!

Wasn't even aware of it!
(200th post, that is)
In honor of which there will be a fantastic giveaway!
A giveaway of gargantuan proportions!
A giveaway to end all giveaways!!!!

Yeah, no, actually just a 
Whoot, Whoot.
Oh, and a new post :o)

About an Asian Sweet Potato Salad that I don't need to make again.
And now looking at it, I can't remember what intrigued me about it to begin with.
Well, except for that I have been interested in finding a 
potato salad that uses sweet potatoes as opposed to white potatoes.
It's from Tyler Florence and the one good take away
from the experience was his reiterating to be careful
not to over cook the potatoes.
"We are making potato salad, not mashed potatoes."
Good point.
I have been known to cook my potatoes to within an inch of their lives.
Thank you Tyler, I will take your advice. 
You, however, may keep your 
Asian Sweet Potato Salad with Cucumbers, Dates and Arugula.

Meantime, Honey and I are devising
 our own recipe for 
Grilled Sweet Potato Salad. 
It's better already, way shorter title.

Oh, and we found out we like arugula.
Once again, thank you Tyler. 

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Cake Balls and Oreo Balls

One I have down pat, the other, 
not so much.
It has been brought to my attention that I don't actually
have the instructions for the creation of Oreo Balls
officially posted on the blog, so as a public service
I will do so now. 
Along with the couple of tips I have discovered.

Pulverize a package of Oroes. 
Food processor, blender, baseball bat. 
Whatever works best for you.
Once you have a nice powder, transfer them to a mixing bowl and 
combine them with one 8 oz. package of cream cheese at room temp.
My first two tips:
1- Use the "block" style cheese, not the "spreadable."
2- Put the cream cheese in the mixer first and smash it around a bit. 
Once it's all nicely mushed together
(technical term)
use a 1 inch scoop to form your balls.
These puppies are pretty rich and I find that in this case, 
bigger isn't always better.
Next I chill them a bit in the fridge. 
Once nicely chilled and firm you send them for a dunk.
I have found it best to use either 
almond bark or candy melt discs.
Anything else just doesn't coat properly.
If you use the white you can add colored sugars and they
will show through. 
I did Mardi Gras ones with green, yellow and purple
sugars and they looked great.
Pop them back in the fridge and 
Oero Balls!

Now for what I don't have down....yet....
Cake Balls.

But that's all gonna change.....
Thanks Michael and Michelle.
...and Tiffany :o)

White Sangria

It would appear we drank about half of it before I thought to ask 
Lory to get a picture of it.
Makes sense.

I got clearance from the mother-to-be to serve an adult
drink option at her baby shower.
White Sangria seemed like the perfect choice for a mid-day 

A friend of mine sent me her recipe and as I sat to write 
this I thought to compare it to the recipe I already had.
Yep, EXACT same one!
So, it appears there is just one white sangria recipe out 
there and the good news is, that's all we need.
It's really good.

The first time I made it I realized that all the 
rum goes to live in the fruit. 
My mother-in-law ate the fruit with a slotted spoon.

So here's the recipe:
1 bottle white wine
1 can frozen lemonade concentrate
1/2 cup light rum
1/2 cup triple sec
1 15 oz can pineapple tidbits in juice
1 large apple, diced
2 cups chilled soda such as 7-up
(I used ginger ale because it's what I had)

Mix it all together but add the soda just before serving.

Lory said this might just be a margarita alternative. 
High praise indeed!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

ABS Tea Cakes

Apple, Brie, Salmon
that is.
I love these things!

They were the result of brainstorming with multiple friends.
I wanted to make tea sandwiches but didn't want to use the usual 
"white bread cut with a cookie cutter" vehicles.
This started with my thought to put something on a 
sweet bread, I was thinking zucchini bread.
Lynne suggested brie and smoked salmon.
Reminiscent of an appetizer of
a slice of apple with brie and salmon.
It seemed to me that you could change up the zucchini to apple
and come even closer to the original. 

I just took my standard zucchini bread recipe and swapped out 
grated apple, with the peel on that I squeezed most of the
moisture out of, for the zucchini and swapped
apple sauce for the oil.
It worked out great. 
Then I just sliced the bread and used
a round cutter about the same size as the 
Brie that you can get in a log!
Stack em up with a little salmon and a 
parsley leaf on top and

That sweet bread takes you by surprise but once you
get over the surprise the yum factor kicks in. 

PS, the "WALA"
is just to make Shanna twitch :o) 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Baby Shower Favors

And one of the best ideas I've ever had!
Nope, these weren't it. 
I'll get to those next.

My bright idea was to ask a few of Christine's friends
to host the party!
I got to do all the fun of decorating and cooking
and designing but once the door bell rang, 
I was done!

And I was! 
The girls (young women) did a great job.
I put them in charge of name tags, games and favors
and they came through with flying colors.
I sent them the clip art giraffe I had used on the invites and throughout
the decor, they put him on the name tags and the favors.

These favors were terrific!
They bought bulk animal crackers
 (to go with the animal theme)
bagged them up in cello bags and printed off these
adorable labels complete with bible verse!
Psalm 127:3
What a great idea.
 I love that they weren't some "thing" 
that people were going to have to figure out what to do with. 
Eat em!

So, there you go TWO great ideas, ONE blog post :o)
Time well spent.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Baby Shower Recap

I had fun.

This may take a couple of posts to cover.
I really like concentrating my theme decorations in one spot.
It makes a bigger impact.
Those balls are a decorating budget boon!
At less than two dollars a piece that's a lot of bang for your buck.
I also used animal print tissue paper on the table.
I picked up a couple of plastic zebra chargers
for just a couple of dollars each and then with
an assortment of animal print napkins 
fanned out along the table, 
It's a theme!
I also had small wooden bowls with peanuts in the shell
around the table and some more with chocolate
and ginger animal cookies around the house.

I had the zebra chairs.
Trust me.
...gotta know me...

I really had fun developing the food.
A couple of the items I made up and I'll get to those eventually,
but first I HAVE to talk about these cupcakes!
I stumbled upon the recipe on Epicurious.
They are banana cupcakes with peanut butter frosting.
The cake part is made with sour cream and they are so light.
Not at all like you think of banana bread.
The frosting is a slice of heaven.
It would be good on anything.
The only thing I changed up from the recipe was that
I used chopped honey roasted peanuts on top.
That extra little sweet just seemed right. 

It was funny because these were a last minute addition
and turned out to be one of my favorite things!

Oh, and back to decorating;
Lory has like 50 small white plates she picked up at
 Crate and Barrel
that we share for parties so no expense on paper plates 
(I get my color or pattern in on the napkins)
and no landfill impact. 
I have 24 footed iced tea glasses that work well
for just about any drink. I just keep them in the
box they came in and store them in the basement.
Another cost/landfill saving and 
real glasses and plates just elevate the whole thing.
Don't you think?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Smash Burger

Among other things.

I have determined that Mike is my 
Food Emissary.
It's an official title.
He travels a fair amount and he is in charge of eating 
all the food I will never get to.
In-N-Out Burger

Both fine California establishments.
I'm not a big Cali fan so chances are
 I won't be partaking of these myself.
His reviews: 
Pinks, fine but don't need to go there again.
In-N-Out, he's glad it's a chain, he can get another one
easily enough. Oh, and he likes that they are "neat", 
they come all wrapped up in a paper holder. 
Go figure, that would appeal to him :o)

We have been able to try 
Nathan's Hot Dogs, no big whoop, 
and Five Guys, big whoop!
I love that I am married to a guy who finds adventure in 
searching out and trying trendy foods.
Leave the paragliding and spelunking to others.
This is my kind of thrill!

So, our latest joint venture:
Smash Burger.
This is where it gets funny.
I had to pull images for In-N-Out and Smash Burgers from the internet
because Blogger won't upload the picture from Mike's 
phone, and we didn't think to bring the camera to
Smash Burger.

This is not at all what our Smash Burgers looked like.
Our burgers were truly "smashed."
As in flattened out and kind of griddle fried.
Think Steak and Shake.
Which definitely has it's place in burgerland, 
it's just not this one represented as a
Smash Burger. 

That being said, our review,
eh, wasn't a waste of time. 
The sides were great, onion haystack and 
sweet potato fries with olive oil and rosemary.
But the burgers were just OK.

Five Guys Burgers and Fries is opening
just blocks away from my home.
If you wait long enough the mountain will come to Mohammed.
Now I'll just wait for that mountain called

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

It's Dirk's Birthday

I'm glad he's my brother. 

I slept in a castle with him once.
I've driven through Paris with him once.
I watched him take off in a hot air balloon with our mother once.
I went to East Berlin with him once.
(back when there was an East Berlin)
I went to the San Diego Zoo with him once.
I went to the Grand Canyon with him once.
I danced to Whip It with him once.

Some of these things you only want to do with Dirk once.
Paris and dancing come right to mind.

But one thing there is no end to is;
I love Dirk.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


I love these babies and it occurs to me that the 
rest of the world needs to know about them.

You see, I'm a walker.
I walk a LOT.
We're talking 20 to 30 miles a week.
We very deliberately live "in town" so I can walk
to where I need to go.
Now, I do cut drivers some slack. I get it when they "almost" 
run me over in crosswalks. They really aren't looking 
for little old me, they are more on the look out for other cars.
I am fine being a defensive walker. 
But I do have a pet peeve.
And, you knew I would.

People who park across the sidewalk and by so doing, forcing me to 
walk in the mud around their driveway (cause you know,
it's always muddy there) or worse, force me to walk
in the street, into traffic, giving aforementioned cars
another opportunity to run me down. 
And worse yet, when I'm pushing a stroller!!!

Enter Pier One Imports and their
Parking Citations!
They have a line for parking on a sidewalk.
Occupying more than one space.
Blaring a useless car alarm.
There are 20 infractions to choose from. 

I'm not sure if tucking one of these under a wiper blade
would be considered passive aggressive but it 
sure does help take the edge off that impotent rage. 

I'll explain that phrase another time :o)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day

This one's for Mom and Big :o)

We don't traditionally do a big Mother's Day.
It's a "Cards and a Call" kind of day.

I had been planning on going to Mom and Big's church on Sunday
to be able to see Big Mary "accept" a baby on behalf of the church.
It's an honor to be asked to do that and the young mother
who asked Big to accept her baby had been partnered with 
Big during confirmation as prayer partners. 
Big prayed Marissa through confirmation classes. 
Sweet, huh?
I really thought they should have put the baby in the
little basket under the seat on the walker.
I was overruled but little Gunter did 
make use of the seat later.

He was the best baby! 
He's going to have some surgery to correct the plates in his skull.
Or something like that, but just send up prayers
for the little guy.

Shanna surprised me with a trip home so I decided to share 
the gift of Shanna and took her with me as a surprise
for Mom and Big. 

The spur of the moment times together are the best.
And "spur of the moment" is also the perfect excuse for 
experimenting with food on your loved ones.
Chili Bowl Burger Sliders
They scream Mother's Day.
Don't they?
Mom and Big love it when they get the chance
 to eat the food I write about.

Here's the low-down on the meat muffins.
They don't really hold their shape.
I really thought they would be mini "bowls" in which
to serve the chili but they turned out to be more like "platters."
Additionally, I didn't think on a bun was the best 
way to eat these, so I just served them as is with
cheese muffins on the side.

Yep, heart attack on a plate.
Nothing says, "I love you, Mom" like it.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Hamburger Cupcakes

Totally looks like a plate full of burgers, 
They are cupcakes!

I found these on Glorious Treats blog.
I had no reason to make these other than I just had to.
So I did.

I did stray from her instructions in that she called
for you to make chocolate cupcakes and cut them into thirds
for the "meat" part. I used a half sheet pan
and then used a circle cutter to cut the patties 
and then sliced those in half. 

It was really hard to get the red *red* enough but as I
suspected, it got a bit more intense as the frosting dried.

This is the site that I got the inspiration for the Black and Pink Party 
as well as the instructions for the water bottle labels.

Head over for some fun and check out 
the Hydrangea cupcakes.
I think those will be next :o)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Life Lesson Number 672

While loading vases with black beans may look cool. 
Leaving beans in said vases overnight is not cool. 
Remember this?
And how I said the vases looked great with the beans in them
but I was not quite sure what kind of mess 
they would be by the end of the evening?

Well, Lory read that blog.....
in the morning. 

So the next question is, 
can dry beans that are now
re-hydrated beans be extracted from narrow neck vases?
The answer is:
...given enough days and a cork screw.

...don't ask.....

But Lory still loves me :o)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

New Toy, Old Toy

Well, not exactly *toys*, but fun things!
One of the Blogs I follow, Reluctant Entertainer,
posed the question, 
what do you do to be green in your kitchen?
One of the responses was glass straws.
Have you ever heard of such a thing?
I had not, so a-googlin' I went.
Turns out they are made from the same kind of glass 
as Pyrex bowls and actually have health benefits.
They say the chemicals from the plastic straws 
can leach out into your drink. 
Whatever... maybe....seems excessive.
However, between my smoothies and margaritas, 
I do go through a few straws.
I just couldn't wrap my mind around glass straws.
But then I stumbled upon these:
And, honestly, I think the little brush for cleaning them sold me. 
And what better thing to pair them with but my aluminum glasses!

So there you have it!
My old with my new :o)

My little green thing, I don't put my produce in those
plastic bags at the grocery store.
I just let it all roll around in my cart. 
It makes me chuckle.