Thursday, October 29, 2009

Bad luck

Our computer crashed yesterday. I'm at my sister-in-law's doing research for a new one, but I'm going to be MIA for a little while.

Horrible timing, just as we start our Christmas shopping. Oh well. Such is life.

Have a great day (or week.. or 2 or 3)!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Recipes of the week

It was a big week last week. And for the first time ever, we had something that not one of us liked - at all.

I found Kiddie Carrot Soup in Parents magazine. I figured T wouldn't like it because he's not a fan of cooked carrots, but wanted to try it just the same. Any way to get extra veggies into Monkey is great in my book. We each took a bowl (Monkey, too). We each made a face at it. I dumped the entire pot down the drain.

I also made a Crispy Shrimp Dish I found in the October 2009 [page 154] issue of Ladies' Home Journal (I'm not finding it online). You marinade thawed jumbo shrimp in buttermilk, soy sauce and hot sauce. Then coat it in a mixture of crushed cornflakes, sesame seeds and orange zest and bake them until they're cooked through. There were no shrimp left, so you can guess how much it was enjoyed.

I paired it with Sweet and Spicy Barley from the same issue. It was ok, but we weren't crazy about it so I won't be saving this one.

Image from Everyday

A huge success was Chicken Salad Piccata, courtesy of Everyday. It was really easy and packed full of flavor. I did over cook my potatoes a hair, but losing track of time in the kitchen is easy to do if both kids aren't cooperating. There were no leftovers with this one and I foresee it becoming a regular in our house.

The last two we tried were from the most recent copy of Everyday so they aren't up on their website yet. I'll hold off on sharing until I can link them.

Enjoy your kitchens!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A beautiful day to play outside

It was a beautiful fall day outside today. We spent much of our day outdoors. I spent much of that time in just a t-shirt! I love days like this.

Monkey and I spent some time doing some winter preparations. I needed to trim down some perennials and dig up some bulbs. Then I decided to take a few pictures of our fall decorations. Most of these will transition into winter decorations very easily.

The front of the shed has an old busted out window hanging on it (there was glass when I first put it up but a wind storm had the window banging around a bit to much one day.). I finally added the wreath today. It makes it feel finished.

This old bike sits in my flower bed. It is the bike I learned how to ride on. It did have training wheels at one time but heavens knows what happened to them. The basket was an ugly yellow and green. I gave it a spray paint treatment and attached it to the bike to hold flowers. Now it holds apples and pears from our trees. And when the snow flies, I'll put pine cones in.

I also have an old chair in another flower bed. I'll change out the faux (I know!) leaves for some pine and evergreen branches once the snow flies. My father-in-law found the old rusty watering can in the woods on a walk one day and knew I'd love it. He was right.

This poor old rake got tied to a porch rail. T isn't allowed to use it anymore. I should have something on the milk can, but I don't have anything on hand that "goes."

I tried to save money this year by forgoing the mums. I'm hoping to try planting my own next year. We shall see. We also didn't get to go to the pumpkin patch. When T stopped in one evening to check the situation, he was told the picking wasn't very good. So we didn't feel too badly when the timing just didn't work out for us to go.

I've also added to my stairway. The baskets are all full of fruits and veggies. I still haven't found pretty and practical shoe storage, though. I really need to because I spend my days tripping on shoes when I'm going up and down the stairs (it wouldn't be a big deal if my washer and dryer weren't in the basement!).

I got my hanging mirror secured to the wall. I need some hooks but screws are doing the trick for now. I had this painting from my junking trip sitting in my room. I like the unfinished edge and the pop of color it adds. I haven't decided if I'll leave as is or if I'll put a wreath, as I was originally thinking.

I also played with the top of my dresser a little tonight. I got this adorable little thing on my junking trip with my mom back in May. T gave it a paint job for me (when he had me on his own version of modified bed rest) and we changed out the handles for some cute little glass knobs my mom gave me.

The painting was a junk store find. My dad built the frame for me (you're going to see more about this frame soon). I also got the candle holder and silver trays at the junk store. The glass goblets were also from my May junking trip. I don't have much jewelry and it just seemed perfect to store the little I do own on/in. I think it needs something still, but haven't decided what. I'm thinking I may put a glass plate under the candle set up. Yet another one of those things I haven't had the time to try. (Having 2 little ones is so much more work than I expected - but I do love every minute of it).

So there's a peek as to what I've been up to. I tend to get a lot done when I'm not getting much sleep and I've been suffering a bout of insomnia the past couple of weeks. I may have much more to show in the coming weeks. (Hopefully not. I'd rather sleep. haha).

I hope you've all had a wonderful and productive weekend.

PS - I'm linking up with Donna at Funky Junk Interiors for Saturday Nite Specials. Check it out!

Funky Junk's Saturday Nite Special

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Sweet Treats Saturday

We went picking apples a couple weeks ago. We went to Conant's in Etna. The picking was unbelievable! And we now have a lot of apples waiting to be used.

What do you do when you have a lot of apples and even more eggs? You bake! Or, rather, T gets tired of waiting for you to bake and does so himself...

Image from Straight from the Farm

He found this recipe in the newspaper that led me to the blog, Straight from the Farm. I haven't done much digging around yet, but what I have seen looks really yummy. The Old Fashioned Apple Dumplings looked easy to make from where I sat. They were mighty delicious, too!

He also made an Apple Bread. I'm not finding this one anywhere online (and I'm not sure where he got the recipe - it's a photocopy out of a cookbook but I have no idea which one), so I'm just going to share it.

Apple Bread
3 cups apples, cored, not peeled
3 cups flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups oil
4 eggs, slightly beaten
4 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. baking powder
2/3 cup raisins or chopped dates
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 325. Grease 2 loaf pans, bottom only.

Mix all ingredients in a very large bowl. Pour into prepared pans. Bake 60-70 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

I'll admit I warmed this stuff up and topped it with ice cream. It satisfied the sweet tooth greatly.

That's all I have for sweet stuff this week!

Enjoy your kitchens!

Recipe of the week

I tried something different last week. I cooked 100% with items I had on hand. I went to the grocery store once - to buy a gallon of milk and stock up on chicken breast at $0.99/lb. I was able to empty out my freezer a little and saved money while doing so.

I even managed to try a new recipe.

I've recently started receiving the magazine Bon Appetit. On the cover of the September issue was a chicken that made my mouth water. At first glance through the magazine, I thought it may be a little rich for my blood. Alas, I was mistaken. I've found some really tasty looking dishes.

I tried the Chicken al Mattone right away. It's the cover photo and looks like it would be a complicated dish, right? I was blown away by how easy it was to prepare. It received all raves. It's something I would definitely make for guests.
Enjoy your kitchens!
Image from Bon Appetit.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

It's called procrastination for a reason.

Ok, so it wasn't really that I procrastinated. I forgot to take into account I'd be in the office all day on the due date for our projects. Oops. Good thing we're not getting graded on this!

Click here you want to see the After pictures from the Procrastinator Party at The Inspired House.

Remember my great old mirror?

This $5 find has been taking up space in my basement for years. It's big, it's bulky, it was filthy and it needed paint. And T's been threatening to trash it.

A few coats of semi-gloss black and....


It's new home is on top of T's dresser. The candle holder was a $1 yard sale find last spring. It got a spray paint treatment. The handles on T's dresser were originally a brass/wood combination handle. I hated them. I don't love his dresser, but I can't paint it (I promised I wouldn't). The new handles were our compromise.

I think it still needs something. Our bedroom isn't very colorful. I'm trying to make it a calming space with calming colors - hence the off white walls. I'm thinking maybe a wreath hanging on the mirror. The mirror is currently laying on top of the dresser because I need T's help to semi-hang it. It just needs a little support because after a couple test bangs of dresser drawers, I found it wouldn't take much to have the whole thing come crashing down.

Another project finished. And another step closer to finishing up our bedroom.

Did you tackle an unfinished project?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Cold weather goals update:

It's been a few weeks, so I guess it's time to have an update!

My goals are listed here:

1) Personal

  • I'm down to 152 - 7 lbs to go!
  • I've taken pictures, updated profiles, dug out business cards. In another week or 2, I'll be listing my first item[s] on etsy!
  • I'm getting there on a schedule. It's going to take a few months to turn it into routine, though.
  • I've been posting much more here. Again, it's going to take a few months for it to turn into a routine.

2) Family

  • We've gone out for breakfast a couple of times in the past few weeks. And we've had a couple of trips to Treworgy Farms. We also participated in the Alzheimer's Memory walk together. Small activities, but we're doing them together as a family. That's all that matters.

  • Monkey and I have been crafting up a storm! Children's Creative Corner was born from our craft sessions. Are they perfect? Of course not. The point is to have fun with my 2 year old, not make my house beautiful. :-)

3) Kitchen

4) Projects

  • I've got one coat of paint on the hanging mirror. It's my Procrastinator's Project, so I'd better hurry up and finish. Our projects are "due" tomorrow! EEK!
  • I demolished a pair of pants T was throwing away so I could have the back pockets for Little Man's hanging quilt. I also made a couple of squares out of the leg portion of the jeans, but I don't know if I'll use them on his quilt or not

5) Turning house into home

  • Nothing to report on here. Yet. Give me time. I've got 2 kids to wrangle and 1 of them recently quit taking naps. I'll let you guess which one.

There you have it. I'm slowly working on things and checking items off my list. I'll get there. I refuse to leave an item unfinished this year!

Have a great day!

Friday, October 16, 2009

How's this for procrastination?

Melissa over at The Inspired Room is doing it again. She's hosting another Procrastinator's Party. You may remember last time I participated, I finished the top half of my basement stairway.

She started on October 5. Today is October 16 and I'm just taking my before picture and linking up. I've got 4 days. I can do it! I know I can! (I need to convince myself. haha).

One of my goals for this winter is to paint a couple of mirrors I've had hanging out in my basement for... well.... a few years.

This mirror in particular I found at an antiques store for $5. I couldn't pass it up. All it needs is a cleaning up and a quick paint job. So why is it still sitting in the basement?

I even have a home ready for it once it's complete.

Here's to hoping Monkey helps since she's no longer taking naps in the afternoon!

Children's Creative Corner

I wanted to add some spooky decorations to our Halloween collection. After some contemplation as to what kind of project to attack with a 2 year old, I decided against papier mache and opted for another dough project.

After a little searching, I found this site to make Salt Dough Ghosts.
We gathered our supplies.

And mixed it all together.

Monkey says "Don't taste the dough. Yuck!"

After a little effort, I found it impossible to get the ghosts to look like the ones included with the instructions. I ended up laying them flat on the plate for their time in the microwave.

Here they are in their new home. I made the candles last year - and the hands are from our glitter project last week.

The 2 "ghosts" on the right aren't very ghost-like. I'm going to pull out the acrylics and turn them into tomb stones on small grass knolls.

I can see us using this recipe for other projects in the future. Christmas tree ornaments are currently floating around in my brain. We can either color the dough with food coloring or paint it afterwards...

Also, I said I'd let you know when our play dough needed to be tossed. It's been 2 weeks. It is still wrapped in plastic wrap. And it is still soft and doughy, even with a lot of use.

Have fun!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Recipes of the week

Here we are.. yet another week of good food.

If you haven't noticed, I've been on a bit of a soup kick lately. I have another soup this week. Creamy Chicken-and-Rice Soup is from Everyday. It required minimal effort to make and was, once again, really good.

I was directed to this Macaroni and Cheese with Pancetta by a friend. I've mentioned before I'm not a huge fan of homemade mac & cheese. Well, my friends... that has changed. I really enjoyed this one. T did as well, though it was a little too spicy for Monkey. I will gladly tone down the spice next time I make it. Yes. There will be a next time.

This last recipe we got quite some time ago from Cooking Wild. I will tell you, I honestly don't remember if it's a magazine or a section of some hunting newspapers T gets in the mail and I can't find anything online. It was quick and easy to throw together, though needs to bake for 2 1/2 to 3 hours so plan ahead. We put it on egg noodles and there wasn't much leftover afterwards.

Beef and Mushroom Casserole

1 lb stew meat, chunked
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small can mushrooms (I sliced up some fresh)
1/4 cup flour
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 can of milk
salt and pepper to taste

Coat the chunks of meat in a mixture of flour, salt and pepper, then brown in small amount of oil. Turn off heat. Mix the onion, mushrooms and flour with the meat. Turn into casserole dish and mix the rest of the ingredients. Adjust the flour so it is not too soupy. Cover and bake @ 350 for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.

Serve over mashed potatoes, noodles or rice.

That's all I have for this week.

Enjoy your kitchens!

First image from Everyday.
Second image from BonApetit.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The power of the Internet

I've mentioned before that I belong to a message board. We're a group of women who met online (on The Knot, to be exact) while planning our weddings. We have since left and created our own board where we chat pretty much daily. Many of us have "known" each other for 5 years or more. Every now and again, someone travels and a get together is planned for the traveler and those living there, where we can meet face to face.

Recently, Jet Blue had an All You Can Jet promotional pass. One of the women, whom loves to travel, decided to take advantage and planned a 23 day trip zig-zagging across the United States.

You can read about all of her travels on her blog.

She ended her trip here in Maine. You can read about her visit here.

There are only 2 of us from Maine on the message board, and we happen to live within 30 minutes of each other (so we've met multiple times already). M's schedule is a little more flexible than mine (meaning, she's not towing around 2 young kids!), so she picked Feisty up at the airport and brought her around to see the sights. Unfortunately, weather on Wednesday was horrid. It rained all day, so they didn't get to see much. They did, however, come to dinner at my place.

It wasn't like meeting someone new - it was like welcoming an old friend into my home.

It's an amazing thing, this Internet. You can research topics, find new recipes, keep in touch with family.

You can even meet new friends... or old ones.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Children's Creative Corner

We've had more than one crafting session this week, all inspired by this Martha Stewart project.

First we needed to make some glitter. Every recipe I found online was pretty much the same.

You'll need:

Mix together 1/2 cup salt with food coloring to get the color of your choice.

Spread evenly on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes at 350 (yes, I need to clean my oven. It could be - has been - worse).

Store in an airtight container (I'm using small jelly jars).

We ran out of time that afternoon to do much else because we had company coming (I'll explain later with "The Power of the Internet").

The next day, we pulled our glitter and plastic skulls and bones out only to discover a lack of glue in our house. Somehow, I didn't think using my hot glue gun would be safe with a 2 year old. I'm sure Monkey's fingers thank me for that. Off to an Internet search and I came up with this website, with different homemade glues and pastes. I opted for the No-Cook Paste but made it a little too soupy.

The soupy paste worked well enough. I do need to touch up a few spots, but I need to let it dry completely first (and the homemade stuff takes longer to dry).

Being as impatient as I am, I had to put them on display immediately (it also helped keep it out of Monkey's reach until they're dry, though!). Notice the $3 cake platter from our yard sale fun last spring. It got a paint job and now works great for displays.

Have a great day. And most importantly - have fun!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Recipes of the week

I have quite a few new ones to share this week. It almost seems like I cook a lot, doesn't it?

Double Mushroom and Marsala Cream Fettuccine is one I wanted to share last week. It has finally made an appearance online at Everyday. It was a very easy meal to make and I had everything on hand already, so it gets bonus points even. I didn't use the dried mushrooms (I'm sure some of you may remember the $6 mushroom fiasco last spring with T? Yeah - I decided to not go there again.). I substituted with white mushrooms (along with the cremini it calls for). I also used penne pasta because I was out of fettuccine. It got very good reviews. I believe this will be a go to meal for when we're just getting home from a weekend out of town because it consists 100% of items I have on hand all the time!

This week we tried Jasmine Rice-Stuffed Pork Chops, also from Everyday. T and I liked it but Monkey wasn't a fan. It may be because she hasn't been loving pork chops lately, though. I know sometimes you hear "stuffed" and think "I'm not trying to make it. Stuffing is too much work." Don't let it even cross your mind here. They were really easy because you aren't making a pocket in the meat but actually cutting it open like a book.

We also tried Apple-Cider Glazed Baby Back Ribs, once again from Everyday. I used country style ribs because it's what I had in the freezer. It has potential, but it didn't floor me - which very well could have been because of the meat I used. I am going to try this again. Next time, I think I'll mix it all into the slower cooker instead so it can really get into the meat (I have a lot of country style ribs now that our pork has arrived!).

I paired the ribs with Barley-and-Kielbasa Pilaf (Everyday). It was very easy to make and it wasn't too bad in the taste department, but I won't be making it again. It gave T heartburn and he requested to not see it again. Since it didn't blow me away, I'm fine with making it disappear.

I made baked beans for the first time ever. I used Alton Brown's recipe for The Once and Future Beans (I have no clue what the name is all about). I have always been intimidated by beans. I've now found I've been intimidated for absolutely no reason. While beans are time consuming, they are not labor intensive. We enjoyed them and I can see myself making them again.

Last but not least is a Chicken Wild Rice Chowder. Unfortunately, I don't know where I got this recipe but it is so good, I'm sharing it here.

You'll need:
  • 2 cups sliced fresh carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 3 tbs AP flour
  • 2 cans chicken broth
  • 2 2/3 cups cubed cooked chicken
  • 1 8.8 oz package ready-to-serve long grain & wild rice
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • 1/8 tsp pepper

Saute carrots, onion and celery in butter until tender. Stir in flour until blended. Gradually add broth. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes, until thickened. Stir in chicken, rice, cream and pepper and heat through.

I used 2 4.5 oz packages of Carolina Long Grain & Wild Rice mix. This takes 25 minutes to cook, so I added it after the broth was boiling and let it do it's thing. I also ended up adding 4 cups of water (the rice needed the liquid to cook and there would have been no broth left). I added the chicken, cream and pepper with 5 minutes left to go on the rice. It got rave reviews.

That's it for this week.

Enjoy your kitchens!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Children's Creative Corner

I mentioned Monday I wanted to start having a weekly craft afternoon with Monkey (and Little Man when he's old enough, obviously!).

We started yesterday with an old recipe for play dough. I copied this from my mom's recipe box. She's had it since I was a kid, so I have no idea where it originated from.
I'd like to mention, I think she had more fun actually making it than playing with it afterwards.

You will need:
2 cups flour
1 cup salt
2 cups water
4 tsp cream of tarter
2 tbs oil
1 tbs alum

Mix together.

Stir until no lumps.

Cook 3 minutes (I had it on medium heat), always stirring.

Pour onto wax paper.

Monkey deleted the picture I had. I was certain I had messed it up because it was still pretty juicy. It ended up sitting for about 15 minutes because Little Man needed to eat.

I sprinkled a bit of flour on it before kneading and this is what I got.

Then I added food coloring. This is what happens when you aren't careful about mixing it in well and touching the coloring with your bare hands. Oops!

This is what we ended up with.

She enjoyed making blue pizza (even tossing the dough like me!). And loved the Mickey Mouse heads. I currently have another sitting on my kitchen table!

Wrap your dough tightly in plastic wrap and it will last a while (I'll try to remember to tell you how long when I'm forced to toss it. haha).

Most importantly - HAVE FUN!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Wine mishaps

We had a terrible wine tragedy in our house this weekend.

You see these 2 beauties?

This picture was taken last fall, when T first tried his hand at making wine. The air lock on the right met Monkey's hand and needed to be replaced after these batches were bottled. That's not too big a deal, right? It's small and easy to replace.

T has made and bottled 2 batches so far this summer (with hopes of at least 1 more before the snow flies and it's too cold in the basement for the set up).

This past weekend, he was going to transfer a new batch from the fermentation bucket into the empty carboy. So he started hauling his gear to the bathtub to clean and sanitize everything. Alas, the poor man lost his grip on his carboy and it met the cement floor at the bottom of the basement stairs.

At least it was empty. It was only slightly as tragic as the day his wine rack got wobbly and we lost 10 bottles to the cement last spring...

A somber service was held over a cardboard box to be delivered to the recycle center with the rest of our glass, newspaper and cardboard next week.

Now I'm searching online for a cheap carboy for the man, as well as the floor corker I was hoping to get him before he needs to bottle again.

I'm back to my online search, hoping to deliver Christmas early in the LTRLT household.
Related Posts with Thumbnails