Monday, April 30, 2012

Weekend Update

Recipes made this weekend:

-  My Dad’s Spaghetti Sauce (I’m sure every Italian cooks thinks their sauce is the best,  but bias aside, this is the best sauce I’ve ever eaten. Hands down. Takes ample time to prepare, and cooks on the stovetop for 3 hours. Enough said)
-  My stepmom Pat’s Chicken Pasta salad (Simple as all get-out. White meat chicken, bow tie pasta, black olives, onions, celery, mixed with a mayo/sour cream/vinegar dressing. With a douse of salt and pepper. I make a huge batch and eat it every day for lunch for a week. I never tire of it.)
-  Nana’s Waldorf Salad (Apples, walnuts, and celery mixed with a mayo/sugar dressing, and wonderful memories of my Nana.)
-  Cheese-stuffed jumbo pasta-shells (A recipe I got from a dinner party when we lived in California  — ages ago — and I’m just now making it. Now I remember why I asked for the recipe.)

Kasey, Harleigh’s boyfriend, came into town Friday evening for a counselor job interview at Camp All-American where Harleigh will be a core-leader this year. He stayed with me that evening as the interview was early on Saturday morning and his family is a good 1 ½ hours away. We went out to dinner, and I told Harleigh that I now fully see why she’s crazy about him.  What a kind, funny and interesting person. On Saturday morning I baked some Whole Foods Black Forest bacon. OH-MY-GOSH is this stuff amazing. Baked on a cookie sheet @ 375 degrees, 10 minutes on each side. At $7.99 a pound, it was worth the price. So worth the price.  (The pieces we didn’t eat, I finely chopped and added to My Dad’s Spaghetti Sauce.)

Weekend project completed: recovering chair seats. I had taken the cushions off of these chair seats so that I could use some anthropologie chair pads I'd recently gotten as a gift. The raw wood was splintery and so I covered the seats in two pretty fabrics that complement the fabrics of the new cushions.

My clematis is going cu-razy climbing up the rainspout!

I went into Goodwill on Saturday. There you go, I came clean. I enjoyed looking at things that I knew, had I not been on hiatus from thrift buying, would have made it home with me. I came dangerously close to buying a wooden child’s refrigerator, sink and hutch. All three pieces for $14. I would have refinished them. The hutch would have made an adorable side table.  The bottom line — I need a child’s play kitchen like I need a hole in the head. Lesson learned: stay away from thrift stores until your sabbatical; the thrift-store-regret is enough to kill ya.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Joy of Cooking

The weekend past was, as most these days, filled with cooking and baking. I’ve really gotten into trying new recipes and, in turn, having a tasty selection of lunches and dinners for the week.

With Kasey and Harleigh at Chateau Gahan on Friday and Saturday (for Grayson’s one-year-old birthday), I had made my Nana’s sloppy joes which I served on fluffy sesame seed buns with a slice of provolone. I also had fresh salmon (which I’d baked in Publix’s ginger teriyaki finishing sauce), steamed broccoli and brown rice. Had a poppy seed cake front and center on the kitchen counter in a glass domed cake server. And what a joy it was to pull out my electric griddle on Saturday morning to make corned beef hash, scrambled eggs and bacon for two hungry college kids!

I was on Monday’s rotation for a meal for Molly and Jamie (new parents to Hammond), and made twice-baked organic sweet potatoes, broccoli slaw salad and tried a recipe I’ve been wanting to make for awhile . . . white chocoloate fruitcake fudge. It turned out more like nougat/divinity and boy is it sweet, but really good. Brought the leftover fudge to the office and got some rave reviews.

Pinterest recipes have been a constant source of inspiration, and a chicken ditty really caught my eye. After reading the 100-some comments — people either raved about it or didn’t care for it at all — I gave it a shot. I like it a lot, but I put way too much fresh rosemary on top; go for the fresh rosemary (it does add to the flavor), but keep it to a minimum. I used thighs, not breasts, because I love the moistness of dark meat, but I think the white breast meat might create a different flavor medley, one just as good!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

New Project and Su-weet Find

Found this small (14" x 14") ceramic garden stool at Goodwill and couldn't resist an elephant with an upturned trunk (see Rachel Ashwell's Shabby Chic Interiors, page 109, for my inspiration). A friend had given me a pint of gray paint, a tester for their living room and one they didn't settle upon. I took it, thinking it would sit in the garage gathering dust, but I've used it for so many things. And this elephant was begging for a rich, warm gray coat. You can't see the true gray here, but it's lovely. I plan on adding more colors and embellishments, but am taking my time to figure out exactly what I want to do with it, where I'd like to put it.

Bought these branch pencils at TJMaxx for $4.99. Love love love 'em. 
I suppose I'll have to sharpen them with a whittlin' knife.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A puppy in the office

The design firm where I work is in a converted train roundhouse. Exposed brick, cement floors, two-story ceilings, all very conducive to accommodating the four-legged friends. And while a handful of people bring their dogs to work, I, on the other hand, leave dear Gideon at home. When he was a puppy he started coming to the office, but his car sickness coupled with the hour drive to and the hour drive home made for an anxious arrangement. And so he stays home at Chateau Gahan, sleeping on the chintz sofa or napping in the sunny ken on my roomy green chair. Toby, a retired gent and dog-walker, comes every day for walk and play time. Then when I get home, there's snuggling and belly scratching, fetching and keeping me company in the garden. I miss him during the day, but then along came Murphy. He's the president's puppy, a Sheepadoodle (half Old English Sheepdog and half Standard Poodle). He reminds me so much of Giddy as a puppy that it warms my heart. This dog is too cute for words.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Tea Tins

My workplace seems to have become an office divided when it comes to tea vs. coffee. I happen to mostly pitch a tent in the coffee camp, but in the afternoon I've been known to put my hands around a mug of Earl Grey (always Earl Grey; just like my disdain for flavored creamers or coffees, I'm a purist when it comes to  tea). Having a group of tea connoisseurs amongst us sure works in my favor; being given the empty tea tins = a craft project extravaganza for little ol' me.

This tin just happens to be the exact height to fit Q-tips and so with a coat of aqua paint and a daisy topper, it made a cute addition to Harleigh's bathroom. The not-perfect spray paint job gives this a bit of a vintage feel.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Easter Weekend

My girlie came home for the holiday weekend. She and her boyfriend Kasey went to a wedding on Saturday. Then on Sunday, with my parents in Florida for a wedding, we spent what would have been an otherwise quiet Easter Sunday filled with family and friends, potluck food out of this world, an Easter egg hunt 500-plastic-filled-eggs strong, all thanks to an invitation from Kasey's family. Now I know why Harleigh so loves spending time there. It's Please Don't Eat the Daisies family shenanigans combined with Martha Stewart country doused with a generous dose of collectibles and household charm from The Farm Chicks. I didn't want to leave.

The Easter Bunny brought Harleigh this wraparound leather watch in her basket. That bunny gets it.

Monday, April 9, 2012

How to make a meal basket

With Molly and Jamie welcoming Hammond into the world, it gives us friends a chance to spoil the family with meals. You know, one of those necessities that seems tough to prepare what with diaper changes, feedings, fussy moments, endless time just staring at the little wonder, etc. etc. etc.

So Lindsay spearheaded the dinner assignments. And what a joy to prepare. I signed up for two dinners, spaced two weeks apart. And keep in mind, for those of us making dinners, our selfish motives might just involve being able to come to the house to spend time with mommy and baby.

My menu for this first dinner was Breakfast for Dinner.
 - Spinach, portabella mushroom, ham, onion and monterey jack quiche -
- Devon's "I've Died and Gone to Hevon" Shrimp and Grits -
- sliced tomatoes -
- poppy seed cake -
- OJ -

The quiche recipe is one from my sister that my mom made for a recent get-together and it's the bomb. My sister Beth says it's a Billy Ray Cyrus recipe, but I can't seem to find anything online connecting it to him. Perhaps, sissy, it was a dish from some other fave mulleted country crooner?

Devon served the shrimp and grits at an office event years ago, 
and to this day it is my hands-down most loved shrimp and grits recipe. 

I made sure to find really good tomatoes, not some mealy early-Spring excuses for tomatoes. 
These were superb with a lite dousing of salt and pepper.

And the poppy seed cake is a staple in most anything I bake for. It's one of those recipes I have that is handwritten from the gal who gave it to me, on a dog-eared recipe card. That, my friends, is a huge ingredient to what makes a recipe great . . . that it's lived on in its original state, spattered with water marks and folded one too many times, only to be used again with love.

I made the quiche in one of those oven-safe AND microwaveable containers. Easy for the mom to heat.
The grits I put into an aluminum loaf pan, not an option for microwaving, but with the loaf top, 
I was able to wrap the tomato slices and put them under the lid.

I included two plates, faux silverware, two pretty paper napkins 
and silk hydrangea in a ball jar (from Molly's baby shower dessert "scale"). 
I lined the basket (from Michaels) with a scrap of fabric.

You definitely want to label everything, especially if the couple decides to freeze 
or hold off on eating the meal for a few days. 
Because my items needed to be refrigerated and I was afraid of the containers sweating on the transport, I made labels using the inserts from ball jar lids. Cutting circles from scrapbook paper (with pinking shears), I then wrote the menu items on the paper and glued them to the lid inserts. 
Adhered them to the food items with heavy duty packing tape. 
By doing this I was assured that ink wouldn't run and paper wouldn't accordian with moisture.

There is something about presenting a meal with care and love that translates into 
caring about and loving the recipients.

Monday, April 2, 2012

One Little Egg

Last year I did Asian-inspired Easter eggs, the year before it was robin eggs
This past weekend I took a stab at some natural dyes and had pretty good luck. But one egg in particular came out surreal. Using a mix of beet juice and the juice from mashed blueberries, this egg came to be. By not being totally submerged in the dye and then toward the end of the bath being dunked for a bit, this circle appeared. Love how it's dark around the outer edge. 
It looks like a moon or a planet on a velvet teal night. 
I added a few dots of glue and adhered some glitter to look like stars. Too pretty to eat.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday is one of my favorite of all the church holy days. 
I find the whole week leading up to Easter to be very emotional and poignant. 

Today was beautiful here in Georgia. Warm and sunny. 
My front door got a springtime fix. 
The car got washed. 
And I finished Harleigh's Easter basket (lots of peeps, 
a white chocolate cross, dark chocolate mini eggs, 
nail polish and a leather wraparound watch she'd seen online and loved).

One of my favorite wall flower pockets (a gift from my sister).
And one of two Easter ceramics I found last year.
How cute is this little guy trying to climb out?

Giddy got his summer haircut yesterday.
The crucifix was passed on to me when my grandmother passed away. It was a wedding gift.

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