Friday, December 30, 2011

New Year's Eve Preparations

We are not big into New Year's Eve-ery here at the Hollow.  Not that we don't celebrate... we just don't much like going out.  I don't think we are alone in this.  I have been spending some time on and off the last few days reading some of my favorite blogs and it looks like lots of folks like to spend their evening at home, with friends, making delicious food and enjoying delicious drinks.

We are having another couple over and I couldn't be happier.  I am making one of my favorite holiday dishes, Tenderloin Chaucer.  It starts with a two-inch think beef tenderloin medalion for each person.  Yum!  (If you have priced beef tenderloin lately you know why this is a special holiday treat only!)  I am preparing the tenderloin tonight, and then it sits in the fridge overnight until it is ready to bake tomorrow night.  This makes it a perfect dish for New Year's Eve, when you want to be drinking and reminiscing, not slaving in the kitchen.  I will take pics of the prep tonight and post the whole menu and recipes tomorrow.

In addition to our wine and champagne, I am looking for a fun New Year's Eve festive cocktail.  How does this one look?  I found it on one of my all time favorite blogs, Design Sponge, which has a regular feature called Behind the Bar

Here's the recipe:

Honey-Rum Fizz
Makes 2
  • ½ bunch mint leaves
  • ½ lime cut into wedges
  • 6 ounces gold rum
  • 3 ounces honey
  • 1 ½ limes zested and juiced
  • 2 egg whites, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups of tonic water

Divide and muddle mint leaves into each glass, with a lime wedge or two, and set aside. Place rum, honey, lime zest and juice into a shaker with ice and shake together. Add the egg whites and continue to shake until the mixture becomes frothy. Pour mixture into the prepared glasses. Add the tonic. Then top each glass off with any remaining froth and serve.

I'll keep you posted...

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Comin' Down

Our tree was really beautiful this year.  Perfect size, perfect shape.  The branches were really sturdy and did not droop with heavy ornaments. I admire the people who have coordinating ornaments on their trees; I, however, am not one of those people.  I have every ornament my kids have ever made (noodles and cheerios glued to cardboard cut out stars included), plus every ornament I have ever received as a gift.  It is a beautiful hodge podge of memories, and I love getting my ornaments out every year and taking that trip down memory lane.

Usually, I leave my tree up until New Year's Day.  This year, though, I think she is coming down early.  Like today.  My allergies can't take it.  My nose won't stop running, I have a persistent cough, and my eyes are terribly itchy.  Some of this is because it has been above freezing and I am allergic to all of the molds outside, but I have a feeling a big culprit is the lovely tree.

So goodbye tree...  how lovely are your branches.

Also coming down are the mantle decorations, as they are made of live boughs as well.  Good bye Christmas in the family room.  I will leave the rest of the house decorations up through New Year's.

I have been obsessed with mantle decorating lately.  I look and look for ideas and change my mind all of the time.  Here is my latest obsession...

This is the living room and mantle of one of my favorite bloggers, Nicole, from Me Oh My!  She is so creative and has an incredible sense of style, mixing graphic with traditional.  I think I am going to paint a large chevron striped painting for my mantle.  I am also looking for just the right antler accent.  Perhaps a couple of these from Ballard Designs...

Suzanne Kasler Atelier Antler

I am also obsessing about round mirrors like this one (also on Me Oh My! )...

Or this one from Ballard Designs...

Oversized Sunburst Mirror

The quickly approaching new year brings thoughts of new decorating!  

Thursday, December 22, 2011


This morning the Cute Puppy woke up at 6:00 am.  This is much better than the 3:15 am wakeup the other morning, and her usual 5:00ish on all of the other days of break.  She is used to waking up with me on work days between 5:15 and 5:30 am.  She can't help it.  She is growing so fast and is hungry all the time!  I took her outside to go potty, fed her breakfast, and then we went back upstairs.  She went right in her house and I got right back in bed and slept until 7:00.  Ahhh... much better. 

Since 7:00 am, I have been lost in blogland.  I decided to go through my list of "Creative" blogs, read them all, and decide if there were any to delete.  So far, I am about 2/3 of the way through, I have deleted one, and added two more.  I am also feeling extremely lame and not creative after checking in with some of my most inspiring, favorite creative blog ladies.  While I read, Cute Puppy played happily with her toys.  She makes up lots of games, her favorite being "I am going to hold a big toy in my mouth while I try to pick up my other toys but it's really hard and I can't do it so I try and try."  After about an hour of this game she got bored, so I helped her out.  I put two big dog biscuits inside her Puppy Kong, and for the last 20 minutes she has been trying to chew them out.  Here she is, happily working on her job.

I am currently working on a little knitting project for Christmas.  I can't show it to you yet because it is for someone who reads this blog.  I will take a couple of pictures of it in progress and finished, and share after Christmas. 

While I was happily browsing in blogland, I came across the most cutest little knitting project ever.  I am going to for sure knit a whole flock of these little guys to decorate my house and to give as gifts.  I have always had an obsession with tiny little creatures like this... fairies, elves, and gnomes.  (Remember the gnome craze of the late 70's/early 80's?  Yup, I had that book!)

I am a huge fan of painter, Rien Poortvliet, and I was obsessed over this book for years.  I wonder what happened to it?  Hopefully, it is still on the bookshelf at my mom and dad's house.  I am going there later today to drop off some gifts, so I will definitely have to check for it.
Here is my next craft.  I can't wait to get started!
You can find the free pattern here.  Hopefully, I will be able to show you a picture of my little elves soon!

Resolutions, Plans, and Schemes...

I have already started on my resolutions for 2012.  This happens to me when I have a bit of time off from work, when I spend more time in my house and realize all of the things I let go when I am so consumed with teaching.  I am going to keep it simple again for this year - better chance of success.  Last year my big resolution was to start this blog.  I did not set any posting expectations on the resolution, which took some of the pressure off.  I wish I had posted more, but looking back I think that I did okay.  I am motivated to continue, and so resolution #1 is to post more frequently on my blog.  I don't want to set any quotas (once a week, etc.), my only blog goal for 2012 will be to post more than I did in 2011.

I also had a resolution to read more books.  I love to read.  It is one of the reasons I became an English teacher.  The big irony is, high school English teachers are so busy reading (grading) student work that we have no time to read anything else.  I joined Shelfari two years ago, and I set my goal to read more books in 2011 than I did in 2010.  I think I have beaten my 2010 total by one or two books.  I am hoping to knock one or two more off before the New Year.  Resolution #2 is to again read more books in 2012 than I did in 2011.

A third resolution I had was to exercise more.  I am a generally fit person, blessed with good genes and a racing metabolism; however, I know that this won't last forever.  Also, I know that regular exercise is good for my heart and good for my stress level.  I started walking regularly last summer and listening to audiobooks while I walked.  I joined Audible, and have continued with the audiobooks.  I have listened to seven books on audiobook since last spring.  I have not walked as much now that school started (so sad!), but I am doing better over break.  Cute puppy is big enough now to go for longer walks and she loves my fast pace.  She prances along next to me like a show dog.  I have also continued to listed to audiobooks in the car on the way to work in the morning.  I also take two dance classes during the school year, a tap class and a ballet/jazz combo class (one week ballet, one week jazz).  I love my dance classes and they are good for excercise and for flexibility.  I am hoping to add another class to my weekly routine to up the exercise factor for 2012.  I am thinking yoga.

So, my resolutions for 2012 are:

#1 - Continue blogging - more posts in 2012 than in 2011

#2 - Continue reading - more books in 2012 than in 2011

#3 - Continue exercising - add one more class to my weekly routine and keep up the walks

I am also going to add one more resolution for 2012.  Tackle the paper piles.  Sigh.  This is definitely a HUGE weakness of mine.  I am a horizontal filer.  I set papers in piles EVERYWHERE and it drives me crazy.  There is an awesome article in the January issue of Better Homes and Gardens magazine that has inspired me.  I am going to set up a paper command center in my laundry room.  I have an awesome countertop in there that will be perfect for this.  You should see it right now.  I am trying to work up the nerve to actually take a picture of it in all of its glory (chaos) and confess openly to my problem.  Thinking about it...

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Christmas Shopping

gets me in trouble!  I love Christmas shopping from catalogs.  I am up before dawn with this terribly cute but terribly early-rising puppy, and the only thing to do is shop!  (Well, okay, I could be grading...)  I have been looking through catalogs and browsing online and I have found quite a few gift ideas for people on my list.  I have also found quite a few gift ideas for myself...

I am addicted to a new website/clothing line that I would like to share with you.  It's called Shabby Apple, and I learned about it on another blog I read called Sewing in No Man's Land.  I just ordered a skirt from the Tinsel Town collection and I hope it gets here before next Saturday because the Darling Husband and I have a Christmas party to go to.

A larger-than-life organza peony graces the hemline of the inky black matte satin of the 'Industry' skirt.  Top it with your favorite shell and blazer at the office, then pile on the rhinestones and bangles for a night on the town.

The site has mainly women's clothing and accessories.  It also has some kids and preteens stuff and some very, very cute maternity dresses that my friend Janelle would look adorable in!

Happy shopping!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


I admit it.  I shamelessly allowed Shutterfly to embed a link on my blog so that I would get $10.00 off my next order.  Now if you look at my blog you will get a sneak peek at our Christmas card, which kind of takes the fun out of it.  But, I don't have that many blog readers so not too many people will be affected.  Ha ha.  Anyway, I do LOVE Shutterfly, and I just yelled to the Darling Husband about how much I love ordering my Christmas cards from Shutterfly and what a wonderfully easy website it is to use and how I was so happy because they also sent me a $10.00 off coupon which I was able to use on my card order and how I just think that it is about the easiest part of Christmas, so I guess they deserved the plug.

If you want to order your cards from Shutterfly, let me know.  I have two more $10.00 off coupons that I can give to a friend.  First come, first served.  Let me know!

Photo Card

Merry Bright Greeting Holiday
Create custom new year's invitations at
View the entire collection of cards.

Saturday, November 19, 2011


I honestly was starting to think that I would never find the time to post again.  What happened?  Well, school started, for one.  I love being a teacher, but holy cow - it gets more challenging every year.  This year, all of my classes are FULL.  And when I say full, I mean 29, 30, and 31 kids per class.  I teach 11th and 12th grade English, including AP Literature and Compostition and a senior writing class called Advanced Expository Writing.  That means I pretty much spend every waking minute grading essays.  Plus, I have more students than I have ever had in my 10 years as a teacher.  150.  With that many kids per class, it takes a long time to grade essays.  It's a love/hate thing.  I get so sick of it, but I can't imagine not doing it.

Here's one thing I have taken pictures of since I last posted.  (Not much, I admit.) It's a deliciously awesome fall recipe I made a couple weeks ago.  It is getting hard for me to take pictures of my cooking because it gets dark so darn early now.  By the time I am cooking dinner on a weeknight it is dark out and the food pictures look depressing, not appetizing.  I can only get good pics  if I am cooking on Saturday or Sunday afternoon.  My life has been so busy, I haven't stopped cooking, but I have started forgetting to get out the camera! Argh.

Start with some russet potatoes.  (Don't you love this scale?  It belonged to my great aunt Florence (we called her Floozie, her nickname from WWII). 

You also need some onion, garlic, canned tomatoes, and tomato paste.  Notice how I am not using my homemade canned tomatoes?  Well, I just did.  Why did I buy tomatoes?  What was I thinking?  Obviously, I wasn't.  Which is the story of my life this fall.  Anyway...

Peel and slice the potatoes.  Not too thin, not too thick.  I just got this mandoline to make homemade potato chips.  I love it!  (I got it at Bed, Bath & Beyond.  It was not one of the expensive kinds, but it works just fine.) How did I live without it?

Slice up the onions.  (Notice the santoku knife I got last Christmas.  My favorite thing to slice with that knife is onions.  Weird.  Also wondering how I lived without that knife!)

Peel and chop a bunch of garlic.  So good.

Pour the tomatoes in a bowl with their juice and cut them into small pieces with a scissors.  (You can also do this while they are still in the can and then dump them into the bowl.) Then drain off the juice.

Mix together the potatoes, the onions, the garlic, and the tomatoes.

Whisk 1/2 cup olive oil with some tomato paste. (Notice my leopard nails?  Tiny Dancer painted those for me - freehand.   She is quite the artist!)

Add some oregano, water, salt, and pepper.  Pour the tomato and oil mixture over the potato mixture and mix well.

Place in a large casserole pan and bake.  It takes quite awhile to bake.  It will be too dark to take a picture of when it comes out of the oven because it is November now, after all.  Sigh.  Trust me - it is gorgeous and tastes delicious.  The onions are all carmelized and the tomato/potato mixture has a nice crust on top.  I made a pot roast in the crock pot to go with this.  I was an amazing meal.  Yum!

Here's the recipe:

6 medium (about 2 lbs.) potatoes, peeled, halved, and very thinly sliced
3 large onions, halved vertically and thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced (I think I used more garlic.)
1 (28 ounce) can plum tomatoes, chopped and drained
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup olive oil
3 Tbsp. water
2 tsp. dried oregano
salt to taste (a lot for my taste)
freshly ground black pepper to taste (ditto)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a large bowl, combine potatoes, onions, garlic, and tomatoes.  In a small bowl, whisk together tomato paste, olive oil, water, oregano, salt, and pepper.  Pour liquid over potato mixture and toss to coat well.  Spread this mixture in a large baking dish.  Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove foil and bake 45 - 60 minutes until potatoes are tender.  (I find that it takes closer to 60 minutes.)

Note: you can substitute Yukon Gold potatoes for russet potatoes.  This is very good as well.

Here is the other reason I have not posted in such a long time:

We got a puppy!  Her name is Maya, and she is a Samoyed.  This is me with Tiny Dancer, picking her up from the breeder's home in Traverse City on October 22.  She was 9 weeks old then.

She is super cute, amazingly affectionate, and we love her a ton.  But man, are puppies a TON of work.  I haven't slept more than 5 hours a night since we got her - and most nights those are not 5 hours in a row.  It is like having a newborn, but no maternity leave.

The Darling Husband has been an ultra good sport about this.  It was really Tiny Dancer and me who wanted the dog.  Youngest Boy is also pretty psyched, as you can see.  Darling Husband works out of a home office, so the majority of the potty training is falling on him.  She is doing pretty well, but we are not all the way trained yet.  Soon, I hope.  I also hope she starts sleeping through the night.  She does it every few nights.  She is only 13 weeks old.  A baby still, really.  She is so good, though.  She plays with her toys, gives lots of kisses, and loves to go for walks.  I have never seen a dog that likes people more than she does.

Right now she is sleeping next to the back door.  I think she likes the cool door - she is very furry and I am sure the house feels hot to a Siberean bred dog.  She also likes to sleep on the tile in front of the fireplace.

Could she be any cuter?  Seriously.

Saturday, September 10, 2011


Look at what I made with tomatoes and peppers from my own garden!

First you have to core, seed, and chop a ton of tomatoes.

Then you have to core, seed, and chop up a bunch of peppers.  I used Hungarian Yellow Peppers, Jalepeno Peppers, and some red and orange bell peppers.  Wear gloves if you are chopping hot peppers. And don't shove all the cores and seeds down the drain at the same time and then turn on the disposal because you will be overcome with hot pepper fumes and won't be able to stop coughing.  Oops!

Then chop up a bunch of onions. (I forgot to take a picture of this step, but you have seen it before so you can just imagine it.)

Throw it all in a big pot.

Throw in some chopped garlic and add some vinegar.  Then stir it up, bring to a boil, and simmer.

Doesn't that look so good?

Cook and stir until it is the desired consistency.  I also add some tomato paste into the mixture to make the salsa a little thicker and less drippy.

When it is ready, ladle into hot, sterilized jars.  Seal and process and put away until winter!

Here is the actual recipe.  It is a combination of a recipe from my Gram and my own concoction.  I call it:

Josie's Garden Salsa

8 cups cored, seeded, chopped tomatoes
2 - 3 cups cored, seeded, chopped hot peppers
2 - 3 cups cored, seeded, chopped sweet peppers
2 cups chopped onion
3 tsp salt
5 - 6 cloves chopped garlic
2 1/2 cups cider vinegar
2 - 6 ounce cans tomato paste

Combine all ingredients except tomato paste in a large stockpot.  Bring to a boil.  Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Puree with a hand blender if you desire a smoother consistency.  Add tomato paste and simmer until desired thickness.  Pack into hot, sterilized jars.  Seal and process in a hot water bath for 30 minutes.

If you have never canned before, make sure you consult a friend who has or go online for more specific directions.  It is not hard.  Have fun! :)

Monday, September 5, 2011

What Should I Read Next?

I just finished reading Barbara Kingsolver's amazing novel, The Poisonwood Bible.  It has been on my shelf to read for years, and I am so glad I finally read it!  Last year, several of my students read it as part of their Independent Reading projects for my AP Literature class and suggested that I add it to the choices for summer AP reading.  I took their advice (they are really smart kids, after all!) and then because I added it to the summer reading list, I needed to read it too.  The novel is the story of the Price family and their mission trip to the Congo in the 1960s.  Nathan Price is a Baptist minister on a mission to bring Christianity to the Congo.  He and his wife and four daughters move to Africa for a one year mission trip.  But, as Brother Fowles once said, "there are Christians, and there are Christians" (435).  The story is told in alternating chapters from the point of view of Orleanna Price (the mother) and the four Price daughters: Rachel, Leah, Adah, and Ruth May, and follows the family for more than thirty years.  The novel provides a poignant and intelligent look at the complicated effects of colonialism and imperial rule on modern day Africa.  Ironically, Rachel, the most shallow of the characters sums it up best when she says, "You can't just sashay into the jungle aiming to change it all over to the Christian style, without expecting the jungle to change you right back" (515).

This is only the second book I have read about Africa.  The other, Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe, is a book that I have taught for years to 10th and 11th grade students, and is one of my favorites.  Barbara Kingsolver said that she used Achebe's book as a source for writing The Poisonwood Bible.  I would like to read more books about Africa.  Any suggestions?

Now that I have finished a kind of "heavy" book, I need to jump back into my favorite genre: mystery!  I have three books sitting next to me, and I can't decide which one to start. 

The first choice is Faithful Place, by Tana French.  I posted about Tana French's first two books back in June.  I love her books!  The back cover of this one says it is her best book yet.  The teaser on the back of the book says: "Back in 1985, Frank Mackey was a nineteen-year-old kid with a dream of escaping his family's cramped flat on Faithful Place and running away to London with his girl, Rosie Daly.  But on the night they were supposed to leave, Rosie didn't show... Then, twenty-two years later, Rosie's suitcase shows up behind a fireplace in a derelict house on Faithful Place, and Frank, now a detective in the Dublin Undercover squad, is going home whether he likes it or not."
Faithful Place: A Novel

The second choice is a book called Still Life, by Louise Penny, and is the "First Chief Inspector Gamache Novel."  I LOVE series mysteries, so this one holds expectation and promise.  The description on the back of this book says: "Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his team of investigators are called to the scene of a suspicious death in a rural village south of Montreal and yet a world away.  Jane Neal, a local fixture in the tiny hamlet of Three Pines, has been found dead in the woods on Thanksgiving morning.  The locals are certain it's a tragic hunting accident and nothing more, but Gamache smells something foul this holiday season..."

Wow, I just went to Louise Penny's website to get a picture of the book (mine has a different cover, and I could not find a picture of it!) and man is she popular.  Her books all get amazing reviews.  There are six books in the Chief Inspector Gamache series.  The latest just came out in paperback, Bury Your Dead, and is getting rave reviews.  Very tempting!

The third book is another mystery called The September Society, by Charles Finch.  The Library Journal said: "Even the most astute reader will be guessing to the end.  Another triumph."  This book's description reads: "In the small hours of the morning one fall day in 1866, a frantic widow visits detective Charles Lenox.  Lady Annabelle's problem is simple: her beloved son, George, has vanished from his room at Oxford.  When Lenox visits his alma mater to investigate he discovers a series of bizarre clues, including a murdered cat and a card cryptically referring to "The September Society."  Then, just as Lenox realizes that the case may be deeper than it appears, a student dies, the victim of foul play..."
The September Society (Charles Lenox Mysteries)

Okay, I just may have eliminated The September Society, which is kind of too bad because I was leaning toward it as it is now September and so it sounded seasonal.  When I was looking for a picture of the cover, I realized that this is the second book in the Charles Lenox detective series.  The first is called A Beautiful Blue Death, and it was nominated for an Agatha Award.  For those of you who read detective mystery series, you know that you don't have to read them in order, but that the character development is better if you start at the beginning.  So, I will have to get a copy of A Beautiful Blue Death and start there.

After writing about all three, I have decided to read Faithful Place.  I think I will leave the Chief Inspector Gamache one for closer to Thanksgiving, since it takes place at that time, and I will hold off on the Charles Lenox one until I read the first in the series.

What books are you reading right now?  Anything good?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Update on The Garden

So, the garden is going great guns!  As you may recall, I overplanted the first 4 x 6 foot box the Darling Husband built for me.  So, he built me another. I am so lucky to have him!  Then he had underground sprinkling run out to it, so I wouldn't have to drag the hose out there anymore.  Seriously. How did I get so lucky to find him!?  The garden has grown and grown and now the tomatoes are comin' in like gangbusters.

Here is last weekend's harvest:

I have four different kinds of tomatoes in my garden: Better Boys, Early Girls, Sweet 100's, and grape tomatoes.  The Sweet 100's are my favorite.  They are the little round ones on the left and they are like eating CANDY!  Most of the time they don't make it into the house because I eat them while I am picking other things.  The grape tomatoes are really good too. 

We had one hilarous garden mishap as well.  When I went out to check the zucchini, there was one that was hiding underneath the huge zucchini plant leaves.  It got a little large.  Here is Tiny Dancer posing with Youngest Boy and her zucchini "baby."

I think that zucchini could be used to ward off intruders!  It is sooo heavy.  Instead, I am going to grate it and freeze it to use for zucchini bread in the winter.

I finally had enough tomatoes to make tomato sauce.  I used a recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, The Country Gourmet Cookbook, by Sherrill & Gil Roth.  I was worried that it might be out of print, but I checked and found it is still available.  Here it is on Amazon, both new and used and also in paperback.

This is their recipe for Tomato Sauce from Fresh Tomatoes:

6 pounds ripe tomatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced, fresh basil leaves

This is my version of the instructions:
Wash, core, and seed the tomatoes.  Cut into chunks.  Heat the olive oil in a heavy saucepan.  (I use the trusty Dutch Oven - man, do I love that thing!)  Saute onion and garlic until onion is soft and just turning golden.  Do not burn!  Put the onions, garlic, and some of the tomatoes into the bowl of a food processor and puree.  Return to pan on stove.  Puree the rest of the tomatoes and add to the pan.  Season with salt and pepper.  Stir and bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Simmer, uncovered, until sauce is think, about 1 to 1/12 hours.  Near the end add the minced, fresh basil.  I think I added more than 2 tablespoons 'cause I love basil.

I served the sauce over fresh spinach ravioli with grated parm and a green salad.  The Darling Husband and I were actually home ALONE for dinner. The food was delicious and the company was excellent. :)

Happy eating!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Finally an F.O.

For those of you who may not know, an F.O. is a Finished Object, and it is definitely a cause for a mini-celebration for someone like me who is not the most speedy knitter in the world.  You may recall I posted a 1/2 F.O. post back in January.  (Click here to see the post!)  Well, I finally finished the other half and the legwarmers for Tiny Dancer are complete!
She is wearing them right now at Nutcracker practice and they are very cute and very soft.  I got the pattern from one of my favorite blogs, The Purl Bee, and I ordered the yarn from them as well.  I loved the yarn - so nice to knit with - and would like to use it for another project.  The legwarmers were really easy to knit, just really looooong, so they did take a while. 

Now I am working on a baby sweater that my sister started.  My sister gave up knitting about 10 years ago, and she gave me all of her yarn, needles, and half-finished projects.  Slowly but surely I have either ripped out the half-done projects and reused the yarn or I have finished the projects.  I think is the last one of hers that I am going to finish.  It is a really cute color, but I am worried that the finished sweater is going to look a bit '80s... (cuz that's when she started it!) The baby she was knitting it for is now a grown-up with babies of her own! Hopefully I will find a retro baby who will love it. :)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Yummy, yummy, yummy

I found this recipe on a really cool website.  It is called They Draw & Cook, and it is as fun to look at as it is to cook from.  This recipe is called Chicken with 30 Cloves of Garlic.  It is made with chicken thighs and garlic, two of my personal faves, so I had to try it.  It was so easy, and so delicious!  We had kind of a cool, rainy weekend and so it seemed perfect. It smelled fabulous while it was cooking. 

Start by peeling 30 cloves of garlic.  Make sure your significant other also eats this dish, and you will have NO problems!

Scatter half of the garlic cloves in a 9 x 13 pan.  Then top with 8 - 10 skinless chicken thighs.  Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 3 tablespoons of white wine, some fresh chopped parsley, some dried basil and oregano, and the rest of the peeled garlic.

Then, cover tightly with foil and bake for three hours at 250 degrees.  DO NOT PEEK!  I promise it will be done.

We were so hungry when it came out of the oven, I forgot to take a picture of it.  The chicken is moist and delicious and then we spread the garlic cloves on crusty french bread.  OMG.  Yum!

I used the left over chicken to make Chicken a la King, which I poured over pastry shells.  I smashed up some of the garlic and added it to the sauce with the mushrooms and red peppers.  So good!  This chicken would also be perfect in a Chicken Potpie.  I will be cooking chicken thighs like this many times this winter and then shredding the leftover chicken to use in all of those yummy comforting chicken dishes we love in the cold weather months.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

It's a Jungle Out There

First of all, August is going WAY TOO FAST.  July kind of just rolled by, slowly, peacefully, joyfully, like a lazy river.  August is flying by, quickly, madly, anxiously, like a running rapids.  What the heck?  It has been a great summer.  It seems like ages ago that I drove out east with the Oldest Son in June, eons ago that the family all congregated on the beach for 4th of July weekend, light years ago that we all played on Burt Lake up north in the second week of July.  Now, time is moving at light speed.  It is already August 9 and I don't know what happened to 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, or 8.  I am freaking out!  Tomorrow, I have an all day meeting at school.  8:30 to 3:00.  Inside.  Under flourescent lights.  I don't think I am ready.  It is supposed to be an absolutely gorgeous day tomorrow (of course, it couldn't have rained like it did on Saturday and Sunday...).  I will probably have to run outside every hour just to stick my face in the sun so I don't get inside-poisoning! ha ha  Okay, so I am being a little dramatic, but I just don't feel like starting yet!

The weather has been super hot and muggy around here.  The plants on my deck have gone insane.  It looks like a jungle.

Obviously the pots with the sweet potato vines and petunias are annuals and will be done late fall, but the others are my houseplants that I moved outside for the summer.  They are loving this weather.  That fern in the second picture has tripled in size - it is man-eating!  I don't know where I will put them this winter, but I will find room.  They will remind me that summer will come again.

Friday, July 29, 2011

No time...

to do a proper post today.  I am up early, off to a doctor's appointment, then home to make some yummy pasta salad, then pack, then head out for one last travel weekend of the summer.  This is the last weekend of a busy but beautiful July filled with fun travel around our beautiful state.  August is going to be a lot of enjoying the lazy days of summer around home.  I love both!
I saw this online and I loved it so much I just had to post it.  Ta ta for today!  Be back soon with picks of my Can-O-Rama!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Prayers and Projects


It is hard to think about, but life can change in an instant.  I have been reminded of this in a big way through three different family tragedies.  These people all need our prayers.  Two are families in my church and one is someone who is close to my husband and his family.  Please pray for Steve DeYoung and his family.  Mary DeYoung, wife, mother, Hope College professor, and an all-around wonderful person died after a shocking diagnosis and brief battle with cancer.  Please pray for her family to find comfort in the face of this terrible loss.  Please pray for Chloe Holland-Anderson and her family.  Four-year old Chloe was recently diagnosed with cancer and is undergoing treatment at DeVos Children's Hospital.  Please pray for Chloe's recovery and for strength for her mom and dad and siblings, doctors, and nurses as they battle along with her.  Please pray for Dr. Coroneous and his wife.  Mrs. Coroneous recently suffered a fall which resulted in a severe neck-spine injury.  She is miraculously not permanently paralyzed (she was temporarily) and continues to recover at Mary Free Bed in Grand Rapids.  Please pray for her full recovery.

Life changes in an instant.  I pray that I can remember to live each day to its fullest, to be grateful for all that I have and enjoy in my life, and that God will continue to guide me to do what is right and good.


Projects are part of summer for me.  It is part of being a teacher.  Summer means time off, and time to get things done!  One of the projects that has been on my list for a few summers was to paint the downstairs half bathroom in our house.  The room had originally been painted a dark red color.  Not a bad color, but they chose a flat latex paint (why???) and so every water spot showed, and then when I tried to scrub the walls, they ended up streaky and chalky looking.  Sounds attractive, doesn't it?  I wanted to paint it a bold, dark color, but I couldn't decide.  Finally, a few weeks ago, I was reading a home decorating magazine and there was a section of paint palates that decorators were recommending.  I found my paint color: Old Navy, by Benjamin Moore.  I LOVE Benjamin Moore paints, and this color was perfect.  I raced to the paint store and started my project.



It is REALLY hard to take a picture of a room this small.  I don't know how they do it in magazines.  I guess that's why they are called "Professional Photographers."  A special thank you to the Darling Husband for taking down the mirror, towel bar, and toilet paper holder as well as taking the tank off the back of the toilet, and then for moving the mirror, installing a new light fixture (I couldn't get a picture of that, as I am not a "Professional Photographer" but trust me - the old one was hideous and the new one is quite cool.) and reinstalling the towel bar and toilet paper holder and for putting the toilet back together.  I couldn't have done it without him!  Looks pretty good, if I do say so myself.

Up next: CAN-O-RAMA
I am canning Holiday Cherries and Peach & Cilantro Salsa.  Both recipes come from this sweet new book I ordered.  I will let you know how things turn out...
Canning for a New Generation: Bold, Fresh Flavors for the Modern Pantry [Book]