Sunday, February 28, 2010

This Week for Dinner

Roasted cabbage, more delicious than it seems

This Sunday evening we were invited to a friend's home for indoor swimming and homemade pizza-making. Very fun indeed, and it put me off the hook for dinner. Our roasted chicken (planned for tonight) has moved on over to this week, which consists of:

M: Spaghetti with meat sauce and garden salad
T: Roast chicken, crispy rosemary potatoes, roasted carrots
W: Pan-fried apple sausage, roasted cabbage, baked beans
Th: Leftover chicken, zucchini cakes, fresh salad
F: Beef tacos with avocado and southwest style corn
S: Apricot glazed pork chops, brown rice, broccoli and/or fruit salad
Su: Spinach lasagna with garlic toast

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Thursday, February 25, 2010


Our sixth wedding anniversary is coming up this weekend. The last few weeks have been very low-key and relaxed for us, and I think we're going to keep that up. It's been so nice to have nothing to do. No big plans, maybe just a lovely dinner, some wine, and a special dessert. I might make him his favorite, a coconut cream pie.

From the beginning of our marriage, my husband took his cue from the traditional gift guide (I love that he started a tradition for us). Have you seen one? I think part of what I love about it is that it has ties to the past, standing the test of time, as a marriage itself does.

The list gives you a kind of fieldguide, which can make things easier if you are short on ideas. It can be fun to come up with clever ways to express that year's theme, and it also starts a nice tradition for the celebration. This year I think I'm taking the easy route and going with candy instead of my other choice, iron.

Here are some other ideas for traditional anniversary gifts for him (years one through ten):

1st – A morning newspaper with breakfast in bed, a gift subscription to a hobby magazine, tickets to a play or concert, a favorite book (Paper)
2nd – Fresh white t-shirts in lovely wrapping, soft pajamas or comfy boxers (Cotton)
Image found via Wide Open Spaces

3rd - Monogrammed beer glasses with tooled leather drink coasters, a leather wallet (Leather)
4th – Chocolate covered strawberries with champagne, a flowering plant for the garden (Fruit or Flowers)

Hand tooled leather coaster via Snapping Dragon Leather Arts

5th - A beautiful wooden cheese board, cedar grilling planks for the BBQ, firewood for a fire-lit, romantic evening (Wood)
6th – Luxurious chocolates, golf clubs, wrought iron picture frame, individual steak thermometers and thick-cut steaks [which contain a lot of iron!] (Candy or Iron)
via Lauren's Cottage

Smith and Hawken individual steak thermometers

7th – A woolen blanket in a rich plaid accompanied by a picnic basket, a soft handknit scarf, decorative hammered copper bowl, or a copper fire pit for the patio (Wool or Copper)
thrifted Pendleton blanket

8th - Bronze coins from your marriage year laid in a dresser valet, bronze cufflinks or tie tacks, get a sentimental object preserved in bronze through a reputable company (Bronze)

9th – A hand thrown decorative bowl filled with a favorite treat, or a beer, coffee or soup mug with accompaniments (Pottery)

10th- Camping cookware, a gourmet tea/coffee tin, fresh baked cookies in a tin (Tin or aluminum)

via Ralph Nuara, handmade functional pottery
Have a great weekend!

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Monday, February 22, 2010

Seeing Blues and Browns

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Gardening Pretty

Did I mention I got all of my seed packets this past weekend? Oh, well I did. We ended up getting some from the nursery and some from the hardware store (where there was a sale). I really wanted to try many of the more exotic vegetables, but my husband convinced me to start mainly with the basics, and build from there. Still, I am pretty sure I went overboard. Now comes the planning and organizing. When things are organized and pretty, doesn't it make you want to jump in and start the task at hand, whatever that may be? I am slowly carving out a space for my gardening pots and tools in our garage. I wish I could only have one this lovely!

Scanned from one of my old Better Homes and Gardens, I cannot remember the issue

A little workbench would be perfect, with some drawers and baskets to hold tools and tidbits.

This is actually an indoor console table from Pottery Barn. But something similar could make a perfect little gardening workspace.

Vintage silverplate garden markers from Anvil Designs.

Simple glazed terra cotta garden markers from JustWork

Vintage galvanized watering can at Patina Posh

A most amazing home and garden store in Chicago, quite a visual treat

Garden tools caddy that folds up for storage and also can be worn as an apron (from ANhomemade Designs)

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Weekend in Review

Eating the last of the chocolate cake. (I opted for a bundt but wish I had made one of these). Homemade pizza with cheese stuffed crust

Letting the kids play with spray bottles of water to "clean" the house (they love this). Indoor water fight ensued.
Getting a better view of the swans that have taken up residence in our pond. So sweet.

Finding bits of sunshine

Homemade pretzels with parmesan and pepperoni

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Sunday, February 21, 2010

What's For Dinner?

Homemade macaroni and cheese is so worth the effort. Yum.

I only recently started creating a weekly meal plan. In the past, I would buy some staples for our household, and then make whatever struck my fancy. It helps that my husband and I have very open tastes and like variety. Our family has grown however, and each little member has become slightly more opinionated. It's no fun to cook dinner when only one of the four people you are cooking for will actually eat the food. In the past I could walk up to the store nearby and pick up a missing ingredient quite easily, but not so much anymore. It has really helped my budget and sanity to have our dinners slightly more organized. If I want to change things up it's fine, but at least I have a fall-back meal with ingredients on hand. It helps me to balance our family tastes to see it all on paper as well.
This week....
Monday: BBQ shredded pork sandwiches and cole slaw
Tuesday: Baked macaroni and cheese, side of steamed broccoli
Wednesday: Pork quesadillas (with leftovers) and garden salad
Thursday: Seasoned chicken breast with roasted cabbage and carrots.
Friday: Swedish meatballs, buttered noodles, peas
Saturday: Tilapia in white wine with capers, double-baked potatoes and sautéed spinach
Sunday: Roast chicken, crispy rosemary potatoes, fresh green beans

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Friday, February 19, 2010


Is there anything better than a long, leisurely breakfast to help you wake up? Well, maybe it's not everyone's cup of tea. I am an enthusiastic breakfast eater. I know there are some who are happy enough with simply a cup of coffee...but I can never understand it. In the morning I’m just plain starving! The many benefits of eating breakfast are just icing on the cake.
I can't believe I haven't tried steel cut oats yet, they're on my list. Do you think of oatmeal as delicious or boring? Try it with one of these toppings:

· Crystallized ginger and dried cranberries
· Maple syrup, brown sugar and walnuts
· Fresh fruit such as sliced banana, fresh raspberries, blueberries, strawberries (added at the end of cooking)
· Dried fruit such as figs, dates, raisins (added at the beginning)
· Honey with almonds and dried coconut
· Crushed gingersnaps & fresh peaches
· Peanut butter and banana
· Dried cranberries, orange zest and sliced almonds.
· Chopped apple (sauté in butter and brown sugar) with cinnamon and raisins
· Peaches or pears (fresh or canned) with powdered ginger
· Sprinkle with sunflower seeds, flaxseed meal, or a spoonful of wheat germ
· Pumpkin butter or pumpkin puree with cinnamon and nutmeg

It never occurred to me to add sauteed greens to the breakfast mix. A soft-cooked or scrambled egg with greens and hot sauce will be a nice addition to the repertoire.

Photos by Jennifer Causey of Simply Breakfast. Check it out for some lovely breakfast inspiration.
Waffles get high ratings in our house. My favorite basic waffle recipe is as follows:
2 cups flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 3/4 cups milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
Optional: Can add 1/2 tsp. vanilla and/or 1/2 tsp. lemon zest to blended mixture
Combine dry ingredients. Whisk milk, oil and eggs together. Gradually add wet mixture to the dry ingredients. Stir until just blended. (makes approx. 4 1/2 cups)

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

My First Vegetable Garden

I'm planning my trip to pick up seeds for my very first vegetable garden. I'm so excited by the possibilities...heirloom tomatoes, sweet beets, spring greens anyone? I'm headed to the nursery or over to Nelson's Herbs located nearby, they have a beautiful lavender garden and large greenhouse with many starter plants and herbs. The shop carries locally made soaps, honey, candles and artwork. They even offer herb classes throughout the wintertime.Nelson's Herbs on a rainy day

To plan I've been reading up a lot and am also utilizing a local college's website. Did you know that you can get specific information for your area conditions, tips, and even services like soil testing through some local county extension offices? Great resource. Better Homes and Gardens has some fantastic planning tools and advice as well.

My husband has built three 4x8 cedar raised beds. Does that sound ambitious to you? It may be so, especially for a beginner. This will definitely be an experiment. In my mind I see rows of ripe, red tomatoes, delicate lettuces, sweet peas and green beans.

Do you remember the tomato blight of last year? Oh blight, please don't return. I really have high hopes to enjoy months of beautiful vegetables and herbs.

Photos from Better Homes & Gardens

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