Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Mother's day gift - Garden Signs

As you saw in my previous post, my Step Mom is an accomplished gardener.  Since she doesn't have a whole lot of other hobbies, it becomes an easy target for gift giving. This year I decided to make her some garden stakes featuring things I knew she was planting.  The demise of my Cricut made it a little harder to make, but fortunately I had some punch out letters I could use from before I got the Cricut.   Since I was making signs anyway, I decided to make some for myself as well.   The first set of pictures are from my Step Mom's garden.  The second set are from mine. 

Friday, July 22, 2011

Mutti's Garden

These are pictures from my step mom's garden.  I call her Mutti, which is German for Mom.  We aren't German, but it makes it easier to differentiate.  The top left picture is her main garden in their back yard.    The top right is her potatoes in a bag.  I'm rather jealous of those.  She didn't have a little critter eat her potatoes.  Middle left is one of her green bean plants.  She has it growing up a archway she has in the main part of the back yard.  I think its really cool because the flowers are purple.  My green bean's flowers are white.  The middle picture is of one of the tomato plants she has.  It's hard to tell from the picture, but they are about the size of a marble.  They're very sweet and juicy.  I'd like to grow some in my garden next year for Peanut and Munchkin.  The middle right is her eggplants.  The bottom left is their pond.  I love sitting out there, but it's been so hot and muggy even at night that its not comfortable to sit out there.  The bottom right picture is the winter squash.  It's so picturesque hanging over the fence like that.

That's all I've got for now!  Off to the beach we go!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Kinds of garlic

When I go to the store and buy a bulb of garlic, I don't really think about the fact that there are different kinds of garlic.  My step mom decided to grow a bunch of different kinds this year and is in the process of harvesting them all.  Then, she's going to try them all and see how they are different.  I think its really cool and I'm excited to find out what she learns.  In the mean time I thought her way of storing them is pretty cool and thought I'd share it with you.

Still no real crafting going on while I'm in PA, so you'll have to settle for posts about what I'm up to and my step mom's garden.  I get my green thumb from her, if even not genetically.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Mother's day gift - Dahlia flower

So, now that I'm in PA and have given them out I can share with you the mothers day gifts!  I know its really late, but I wanted to deliver them to the moms in person.  So, the first gift was the one I gave to my mother in law.  I procrastinated making it for a while because I was convinced that it couldn't possibly turn out as well as in the picture.  I found the tutorial for the mother's day corsage a while ago and have had it bookmarked.  The link for the tute is here: http://news.holidash.com//2010/04/23/mothers-day-corsage/#.

Here's a shot of the flower close up:

And here's the happy Mother in law!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


I got sick!  I'm on antibiotics and starting to feel better.  I even stopped in the middle of a post.  I'll finish it up and post it then.  Stay tuned for mother's day gift posts now that they've been given!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Dinner gone bad and Pests in the garden

So, today hasn't been the best of days.  I've got some family stuff going on and a new sick kid.  Peanut didn't eat any dinner and then returned the other food she ate earlier today.  She spent the rest of the evening in the love sac.  Dinner was pretty much a bust.  I thought it was decent, but Papa B didn't care for it at all.  I made Pan Fried Chicken with Fresh Tomato and Corn Salsa and Herbed Couscous.  The salsa is made of tomatoes, corn, onions and basil on top.  The chicken was dipped in flour, buttermilk, and then a mixture of bread crumbs and basil.  He didn't like the corn in the salsa and didn't like the couscous.  I guess the other 2 boxes of couscous I have will get donated.

After I got dinner cleaned up and the kids put to bed (for the first time of the evening but not the last) I went outside to harvest and investigate the pests.  My cabbage and broccoli (Papa B happily just pointed out that I called the dog "Sproccoli" as I was typing this and trying to yell at him) and have been getting eaten.  The most obvious culprit would be the cabbage looper, but I hadn't seen any little green caterpillars.  With my organic pest control spray in hand, I went out into the garden.  Upon further inspection of the underside of the leaves of broccoli, I found the little buggers I was looking for.  I am relieved to find definite proof of what is eating my plants.  I also found the fuzzy caterpillar that was in my carrots a couple of days ago.  He's now hanging out on my broccoli. 

After some intense google searching I found out he's a Salt Marsh caterpillar and is not friendly.  As you can see in my picture there's a hole in the leaf right where his head is, most likely as a result of his little caterpillar teeth.  I'm sad that he's no friend of mine.  The spray I got is supposed to take care of him.  That makes me both happy and sad.  I guess I'll go see what happened tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

When things don't go as planned

When you have a baby that looks like this, plans tend to fall through.  We were supposed to go to our weekly play date with friends, and just a few minutes before we were supposed to leave Munchkin got really fussy.  As you can see in the picture, she spent the rest of the day in my lap.  She did manage to nap twice in her crib, but other than that she was in my lap the whole time.  She has a 102 degree fever, which fortunately, does break temporarily with tylenol.

So, New Recipe Week is being pushed back a day.  The recipes will resume tomorrow.  We ended up having taco bell for dinner.  And since I'm sure you anxiously await pictures of my plate of food, here it is:

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Soy Scallion Steak & Fried Rice


Tonight I made soy scallion flank steak with pork fried rice.  The beans and broccoli were fresh from the garden!  Everything was really tasty.  The cayenne pepper gave the steak a little kick.  I had a couple mishaps during tonight's preparation, as usual.  I went outside to preheat the grill then came back in to work on the fried rice.  I went back out at the appropriate time (rarely does my timing schedule actually work) to find the grill cold.  Out of propane, again!  So, my quick thinking self *pats self on back* decided to broil the steak.  I turned the broiler on and ended up broiling it for about 6 minutes on each side.  It turned out a beautiful medium rare.  Even Peanut ate it!  Munchkin ate some of the plain pork and white rice before I mixed it all together in the wok.  

After dinner we went out to the gardens.  Papa B helped me put some trellises in for the cucumbers and Peanut picked a few ripe tomatoes.  She then promptly popped one in her mouth, eyes got wide, and she exclaimed "These are tasty!".  Things like that make my day. 

So tomorrow is chicken with couscous.  I'm excited, are you?!

1/3 cup soy sauce
3 cloves garlic, crushed with press
2 tbsp grated peeled fresh ginger
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp Asian sesame oil
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp ground red pepper (cayenne)
1 bunch green onions
2 1/2 pounds beef flank steak

In medium bowl, whisk soy sauce, garlic, ginger, vinegar, oil, sugar, and ground red pepper until sugar dissolves. Reserve 2 tablespoons marinade; cover and set aside. Transfer remaining marinade to large self-sealing plastic bag.
Thinly slice green onions; reserve 1/4 cup for garnish. Add steak and remaining green onions to bag, turning to coat. Seal bag, pressing out excess air. Place bag on plate and refrigerate 2 hours or overnight, turning over several times.
Prepare outdoor grill for covered direct grilling on medium. Remove steak from marinade, scraping off excess solids, and place on hot grill grate. Discard marinade in bag. Cover grill and cook steak 12 to 14 minutes for medium-rare or until desired doneness, turning over once. Let steak stand 10 minutes to set juices for easier slicing.
In small bowl, combine two tablespoons hot water with reserved marinade; drizzle over steak to serve and sprinkle with reserved green onion.

Fried Rice

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups white rice, cooked
2/3 cup slivered scallions
1 tbsp soy sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
1 lb pork loin, cooked and cut into fine strips (30 min @ 450)


In a large skillet or wok, heat oil.  Add rice, scallions, soy sauce, salt, and pepper.  Cook over low heat, stirring lightly, until rice becomes lightly colored.  Add pork or any combination of meat and vegetables.  Heat through and serve at once.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July!

Today is our Nation's Independence day.  It also kicks off NEW RECIPE WEEK!!  I talked about how I haven't done it in a while and so I decided its about time!  Since we spent today at a cookout I decided to try a new recipe on our friends. I made Chicken and Potato salad, a combination of chicken salad and potato salad. I saw it on Good Morning America a couple of years ago and have been wanting to make it since.  It most certainly wasn't the hit of the party, but it seemed liked overall.

I think next time I'll either put in less mustard or omit it all together.  Papa B really liked the "tang" the mustard gave it, but I'm not a big mustard fan and didn't like the taste as much.  Other than that I thought it was really good.  So, here's the recipe:

Potato and Chicken Salad
4 idaho potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 1/2 tbsp EVOO
Salt and pepper
1 boneless skinless chicken breast
3 sliced cooked bacon, crumbled
1/4 cup diced celery
1/4 cup diced onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tsp yellow mustard
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp chopped parsley leaves
2 sage leaves, chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Heat grill to a medium-high.

Place potatoes on a sheet tray, toss with oil, season with salt and pepper, and roast until golden and tender, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile,  brush the chicken breast with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Grill until grill marks are formed and cooked through.  Remove from the grill, let cool for a bit, and cut chicken into cubes.

In a large bowl, toss together potatoes, chicken and bacon with the celery, onions, and garlic.  Add the mayonnaise, mustard, paprika, herbs, salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.  Mix until well combined.

Yields 6-8 servings

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Strawberry Preserves

Tonight I made strawberry preserves for the first time.  It was surprisingly easy and quick.  The really nerve wracking part was the canning.  I still don't know if I did it right.  I have to wait to see if the jars are sealed in 24 hours.  Either way, the preserves are delicious!  I couldn't wait until tomorrow to try them out on an english muffin.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Craftaholics Anonymous Gift Exchange

Yesterday my gift for the handmade gift exchange was due.  I mailed it to a wonderful Mom in Idaho.  It was fun getting to make something for a stranger, though a little nerve wracking.  My challenge to myself was to not spend any money on this gift.  It isn't meant as a slight on Tami, but I think trying to work with what you have adds a new level of creativity.  You can't just get an idea in your head and go buy the supplies.  You have to figure out a way to use what you have on hand.

The flowers are a piece of gingham fabric I got at a second hand store.  The green, purple, and orange ribbons I had leftover from other projects.  The buttons came from my button collection and the flowered paper came from my scrapbooking stash.

I really hope Tami enjoys her gift and I'm super excited to get mine.  She already let me know she's running late with it, which is just fine by me.  I can't believe I got hers out on time.  I'll post pictures when I get it!