Monday, April 29, 2013

Spring Recipes

My food cravings generally coincide with the weather.  Is that weird?  When warm weather hits, I generally start craving dishes with lots of spring time veggies.  I've made several different recipes over the past several weeks and wanted to share some of my favorites.

The first is a recipe taken from a food blog I've been loving lately-- Eat, Live, Run.    It's Brussels Sprouts  with Bacon, Dried Cherries, and Israeli Couscous. (Recipe Here).

Ingredient list: minus the bacon

A quick note here on the recipe and my changes.  I have no idea what israeli couscous is, so I used pearled couscous instead.   A couple of the specialty grocery stores near me sell all kinds of couscous, but I didn't stop in to check.  So I was limited to the options at my local Kroger.  I ended up using only the couscous and threw out the seasoning packet.  Another note on the recipe, I may or may not have doubled the bacon grease.  In fact, I doubled the entire recipe--I was making this side for a large family gathering and it doubled very easily.  (So I guess that means I quadrupled the bacon grease....oh my).  Last note: the first time I made the recipe I hand chopped all the brussel sprouts.  Second time around, muscle memory taught me to use a food processor for shredding the brussel sprouts.  

Finished product!  This recipe is so delicious and is the perfect side dish for summer meals.  It's a little more work than your standard steamed veggies, but the effort is worth it for special events.

I also recently made a tried and true Ina Garten recipe, Chicken Parmesan with arugula salad.  This chicken recipe is awesome.  What is it about the Barefoot Contessa--the lady can do no wrong.  Recipe found here.   I make no changes to this recipe, but I do suggest taking the Contessa's recommendation of using a meat tenderizer--always trust the Contessa, always. Also, it may seem a little odd placing a cold arugula salad on top of the hot chicken, but again, just trust the Contessa--she never steers you wrong.  

I paired the Chicken Parmesan with a lemon orzo salad.   This salad is delish and keeps really well for lunches throughout the week.  
The lemon orzo salad calls for you to blanch the asparagus....but lezbihonest....

So instead, I buy the steamable bags of asparagus and call it a day.  
I'm sure the blanched asparagus adds a certain crisp and texture, but again,
I'll let Sweet Brown do the talking.

I recently started up work in my garden and can't wait to start using fresh, homegrown veggies all summer long.  

Monday, April 22, 2013

Good Moods All Around

Not sure if it's the weather or what....but life has been going well lately.  Here a a few of the things that have been making me smile.

Beauty Brands annual 7.98 hairspray sale----I may
or may not have bought 5 of these.

EXHIBIT B:  I was in my favorite gardening store last week and the helpful lady (who is my idol by the way...I imagine that I will be her in approximately 35 years--retired and working in a gardening center giving advice about houseplants).  I was mentioning to her that I was having some issues with my Button Fern and Pilea, and she reached into her back pocket and pulled out a Moisture Meter.  Saleswoman of the year, I tell ya, because I bought one on the spot and have not stopped using it since.

This little gadget has made all my houseplant dreams come true.  I live a sad life,
but don't judge.  It also came with a handy listing of all houseplants and their appropriate water levels according to the Moisture Meter---hello, life changed.

I pull into my driveway everyday and see this beautiful tree!



Tulips from the yard

Homegoods always delights----this fella was no exception

And last, but certainly not least....
My sister, Mackenzie, made this meme of our cute little nephew----
seriously made my day

Friday, April 19, 2013

Everything's Coming Up Roses

Cue the Hallelujah Chorus----Spring has sprung!!
I have always loved Spring--watching the forsythia, tulips, and magnolia trees all start to bloom-- love love love.  This Spring has been especially fun.  We moved into our new house in November, so while a lot of the landscaping still had its shape, all of the color and most leaves were gone, leaving me with quite the guessing game this Spring.

Dustin has pulled into the driveway on a number of occasions to find me hunched over tiny patches of green with a rather quizzical look on my face.  Luckily, I've been able to figure out most of the plants---the stella de oro, beacon silver lamium, hydrangeas, and even a peony (!!) bush (Side note:  I planted two peony bushes at our last house and after much debating and researching, I decided to leave them there--insert sad face--so coming across one at this new house was thrilling.  I'm not exaggerating, I was LITERALLY thrilled).

Even though I've been able to name most of my plants, there are a few that have left me stumped.  I have some guesses, but that's about it.
This large bush is in our back flowerbed.  When we moved in during the Fall, it still had some green leaves and petite white/feathery flowers left.  The stalks are hollow and emerge brand new from the ground each year (meaning I need to probably cut the rest of this back--I'd been waiting to decide what to do)
New growth-hollow stalks.  Even Google couldn't help me with this one---
I have zero guesses what this perennial is

Also in the back flowerbed....Tiger lilies?

My guess is hydrangea--although I have no idea what kind.  The only kind
I've ever grown bloom from old wood, so this new growth from the ground
is new, but the leaves and stems are familiar.

More Tiger Lilies?

I'm 99% positive this is a peony bush!  If anyone else has other ideas, don't tell me...
I'll just be disappointed  :)

I have these all over the flowerbeds in the front yard
and side flowerbeds.....Iris?

This ground cover is all over the front flowerbed, but I'm clueless.  It kind of looks like parsley--haha.

The chartreuse leaves are making me think Spirea?

Iris with variegated leaves?

No clue?

This is one I'm most excited about---it's growing really quickly, and I'm wondering 
if it'll get any higher, but so far, I'm loving it.

Some type of salvia?

Well there you have it.....everything appears to be coming up roses around here....or some other yet to be determined plants.  Can't wait to see all these bad boys grow!!  

Monday, April 8, 2013

A Very Grown-Up Weekend: IKEA and Yard Work

I'm not sure when it hits you that you are actually an adult.  At the ripe old age of 27, I've hit a few milestones---I've gotten married, graduated law school, started a career, and bought two homes--but nothing says "adult" like spending your weekend at IKEA and working in the yard.

Saturday, Dustin and I took a trip to IKEA for some Billy bookcases.  We have something like this mind, but first things first.

I wish this was our "after" photo, but no such luck.  But we did get the Billy bookcases!  So that's a start.

We went to the IKEA near Cincinnati, Ohio so we of course had to eat at the world famous Gold Star Chili.  Heaven on earth--one of my favorite foods in the world.  Seriously, I can't get enough of it and have been known to make ask friends to drive miles out of the way to stop by one.  
A beacon of light

Gift sent from heaven.  When I think of the individual ingredients of this meal (cheese, 
chili, and noodles) I'm a bit disgusted with myself....but then I eat it and that feeling
fades away.
We got home and started unloading.  Taking pictures for this blog
is really helping to get out of some heavy lifting  ;)

Empty corner that has looked like this since November--welcoming.

And now we're getting somewhere....

We still have lots of work to do on the shelves.  We are going to trim them out via the inspiration picture above.  The inspiration photo above also has four shelves, which I thought would be perfect for our space.  I even measured and used a calculator to be sure that four would fit.  You will note from the three that are fitting snuggly as is, as well as the unopened Billy bookcase at the bottom of the frame that I may have miscalculated--AKA, bought one extra Billy bookcase.  Oops. 

Sunday was equally productive.  Dustin and I had talked about a fire pit since we moved into this house, and on Sunday, Dustin delivered. 

We have big plans for that shed in the back---think shutters plus  flower box equalling 
the cutest shed on the planet
Dustin's fine  handy work- he's a stud

I also worked around the yard. We inherited some pretty awesome landscaping from the previous owners, so the work needed is mainly maintenance and some additional aesthetics.  I owe a whole post to landscaping/gardening plans, but the below photos will have to do for now.

We had two rather large yucca plants right off the deck.  I'm not a fan of the look of the plant, but even worse, the plants had grown into the nearby peach roses and were damaging some of the stems.  So they had to go.  (I will note here that I am not a fan for discarding hand me down/inherited plants.  Our first house had barely any landscaping, so whenever I did come across something from the previous owner I always tried to use it---move it, transplant it, prune it, etc.---but this yucca garbage had to go).  Well these plants were huge, and the roots were unbelievably tough, but with a little sweat, I finally dug 'em out.
   Poor plants don't know what's about to hit them

Bye Bye, Yucca plant

This guy was big and heavy, so Dustin carried him away for me.  This might
also be a good time to note that half our backyard is zoysia grass---I've heard people
rave about the stuff, but right now all I see is a wall of brown--We'll see if I fall in love

I don't have any inspiring after photos, of the yard work (or living room progress for that matter), but we'll get there slowly.  I guess at 27 I've learned that patience truly is a virtue.....oh and also that a weekend spent with your hubby at IKEA and in the yard isn't so bad.