Thursday, July 31, 2014

Canning Green Beans....with Flavor!

I was recently very fortunate to have run into a fellow gardener.  The gentleman, who instructed me to call him 'Coach', has been growing vegetables of all kinds nearby for several years now.  In a fortuitous meeting, he informed me that his wife just might hurt him if he brought home any more green beans, and to help myself to as many as I could pick.  

He's easily got four or five dozen plants.  So it's off to the drawing board.  The first thing I ever learned how to pressure can was green beans.  With canning salt.  And water.  Now don't get me wrong, they were as good as any canned green beans you get from the store, but really, how good is that?  

Monday, July 21, 2014

Winnie the Pooh Baby Shower Cake

I'm going to pretend like I haven't been m.i.a. for a few months.  Instead I'm just going to post some pictures of my first attempt at using fondant!  I was asked to make a Classic Winnie the Pooh cake for a baby shower.  Other than the general subject, I was given free reign.  This is a glimpse of what I came up with.

Piglet, Pooh, and some bumblebees too!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Tips for Beginners (Canning)

I had a friend pose the question recently if I had any tips for new canners.  Well I can certainly think of a few!  I'd love to hear more from any of you who have tried some home canning, from fellow beginners to pickled veterans.  In the meantime, here's a handful.
(These are mostly aimed at water bath canning, fyi)
  • Have a stack of hand towels or rags at the ready.  You'll need one damp one to wipe the rims, a dry one to hold the jars while doing so, and there's a great chance that you'll just need a few extra.  Trust me on this one, you don't want to be running in circles around the kitchen after you've just dropped a huge glob of jam on your big toe!
  • Never put your hot glass jars, empty or full, on a bare countertop, oven, or table.  That gives them a great opportunity to crack and ruin your project.  Or your will to can.
  • Take a medium sized baking sheet and line it with a hand towel.  Sit this next to your canner and use it as a jar-friendly counter space.  Not only will the towel keep the jars safe, but if a jar should crack, the contents will mostly be caught by the baking sheet.  One less headache.
Admittedly a little hard to see...but you get the gist.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Oven-dried Cherries

I give myself very good advice,
but I very seldom follow it.
                                                                                   -Alice in Wonderland

Alice and I have that in common.  Remember how I JUST SAID to get your cherries squared away within 24 hours of picking?  Well I didn't do that.  I picked all the stems off of a pretty sizable batch, washed them, and then got lazy and stuck them in the fridge over night.  The next morning they were all yuckish.
See how they've all started turning brown near where the stem was?

Monday, June 2, 2014

The Miracle of Fruit

Have you ever watched a piece of fruit develop from a flower?
Chances are, unless you have some sort of fruit tree or vine in your 
yard, you probably haven't been able to enjoy this phenomenon.  Let's have a quick look through pictures from my peach tree.  With the exception of the last picture, these were all taken on the same day, of flowers in different stages on the tree.

Maybe this sounds a bit science-class for you.
But I promise you, it's pretty cool.
(also, if you have young children of the question-asking age, it might end up being convenient)

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Prepping Cherries for Canning

What a weekend, and it's not even halfway over yet!  Whew.  I've been canning some cherries, helping a friend prep for her son's first birthday, sitting out entirely too late enjoying this weather with friends, and making sure my tiny child beast is thoroughly covered in dirt each day.

Sun-kissed and dog tired, loving every minute of it.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Elmo Cake!

Look what I can do!

Helpful tips to come after I recuperate from an all day birthday bonanza!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Time to get going! (Again...)

Today I got a wild hair and decided it was time to make with the canning.  So I asked Boo how he felt about going to the strawberry patch for some picking.

The answer is pretty self-evident.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Ducks, Week Deux

Has anyone ever told you how fast ducks grow?  Oh my gosh.  They're something that grows really fast. Bamboo?  Analogies are not quite my strong suit.  Anyway, ducks are visibly larger every morning when you go to check on them.  It is really something.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Rash Decision Making

Well well well, look what we did.

Here's hoping this wasn't a huge mistake!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


Today I made something crazy delicious.  As in, my diet is NOT thanking me right now.

I'm also experimenting with pin-worthy picture edits.  Eh, Rome wasn't built in a day and all that.

Saturday, April 5, 2014


It's the weekend!
(This is seriously what I woke up to this morning.)
And it's supposed to be perfection, so don't miss a minute of it!  See you on Monday :)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Seed Starters

This week has been gorgeous.  Positively what we needed!  Boo and I are sitting outside right now, in fact.  He's working on making some mud, while I'm trying to get some sun on my legs so that I don't blind anyone.  It's got to be close to 70 degrees.

Which means it's time to start on the garden!  Actually, if you were doing seeds inside, you could have started weeks ago.  I need to set some kind of alarm for next February to remind me to start the seeds early.  

Anyway, here's an easy (and relatively tidy) way to start some seeds on a sunny window sill in your house.  All you need are some cardboard egg cartons, seeds, tin foil, and either starter pods or some potting soil.  This is also a great way to preserve those sometimes pricey pods, as you'll be splitting them up.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Revamping & Retiling

Remember back when I first started?  I noted that the decision to rebuild our chimney and use the fireplace is what got us started... You know.  Doing all this.  Anyway, the fireplace kept our house pretty durn toasty last winter, but we still had to use the oil heater a few times.  This winter was a bear's ass, and our heater sweetly decided to go kaput on us.  After we had filled the tank up, of course.  

Hubs found a wood burning stove deeply discounted, and it was clearly meant to be.  The back room, for all intensive purposes, is our living room.  It's where Boo watches Blues Clues, where we play Xbox with friends, and where I further my growing addiction to Doctor Who.  But it is a very long, very skinny room, and up until recently it's ended up being mostly just a catch all for stuff and mess.  It was added on to the house in the '50s (used to have God awful orange and yellow shag carpet to prove it) and is not very well insulated.  So sticking the stove back there was a no brainer.  

Poose approves of the decision.  The burner room for the heater backs directly up to the wall the tv is mounted on.  Which means that there is also a chimney in said room.  So that just worked out perfectly.  Course, you can't put a wood burning stove in an alcove made of wood with a flatscreen roof.  That has bad juju written all over it.  

Thursday, March 27, 2014

'Healthy' is not a four letter word...

Swimsuit season is not only inevitable, it's up on us.  Time to think about eating some cardboard and suffering the days away.  Well unless...

Unless you make your granola at home.  I have to say, granola has never been something that makes my mouth water.  But in my search for healthy things to put on the table, I tried making some myself.  It's high in fiber and protein, but low in sugar and bad fats, none more so than when it's homemade.  No unappetizing preservatives, colorings, or chemicals. 

And if that's not enough, you can control all of the ingredients so that it tastes exactly to your liking.  Hate raisins?  Ditch 'em.  Prefer walnuts to pecans?  You should totes magotes swap them out.  Many many options and alternatives.  

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Freeze-n-bake Cookies

Hubs loves chocolate chip cookies more than anything.  Well besides, you know, his loving wife that makes them from scratch for him.  And his adorable son.  And Jumbo.  But that's it, he loves chocolate chip cookies more than anything other than us.  (Sorry Poose.)

Mmmm, minty...
I love cookies, but I do feel the need to change them up every once in a while.  The clearance rack at the grocery store had some mint and chocolate nibs for $0.84 a bag after Christmas, so I nabbed a crap ton of them.  And I thought they'd be good with chocolate cookies.  So we gave it a whirl.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Ermahgerd! Merzzahrerler!

Guys.  I made cheese.  I did.  
Hubs got me a cheese making kit for Christmas, and it took me three months to work up the nerve to try it out.  But the good news is it was incredibly easy.  The kit makes ricotta or mozzarella, but I did the mozz on my first go.

My supplies gathered.  Looks like I'm ready for some minor chemistry.  

Things you need and probably have:  measuring cups and spoons, a stockpot, a colander, 
ice, a candy thermometer, and a bowl or two.
Things you need and probably don't have:  rennet tabs, cheese salt, and citric acid.
(Which are all included in the kit, plus a thermometer)

The one thing is, you can't use store bought organic milk.  Most, if not all organic milk from the grocery store is ultra-pasteurized, and it just won't do for making cheese.  So you either need to buy normal milk (which is the route I went) or procure some fresh milk from a local farmer.  I'd like to do that sooner or later, just need to get a connect.

This is not so much a tutorial as it is a step-by-step look at what it takes to make cheese.  I was intimidated by the process before I did it, but I'd like to encourage anyone who's thinking of trying to go for it!  
It's really not hard.
That and I can't remember the precise temperatures and measurements.  The instructional booklet 
is in the other room, but today's my lazy day and Anthony Bourdain is on.  So no.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Nature Porn

Things are beginning to come alive in my backyard.  Although not in a creepy, zombie-like way.  Spring has sprung and things are blooming.  We're planting and planning and wishing and hoping.  So far we have a few things blossoming on their own.

It's cold today, although not unbearable, but after the bits and pieces of delectably warm weather we've had, I am not amused.  At least I have some flowers to look at to thaw out my soul.  

Mondays.  Ugh.

But here's some pretty flowers to brighten your day!

Our Belle of Georgia peach tree.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Reupholstering? Me???

When someone says "DIY" I die a little inside.  Combine my impatience for doing things the correct (and often lengthy) way with my illusions of grandeur, and then slap it across the face with the reality of what actually happens when I do try to Do It Myself, and you have a giant glue and spray paint covered mess.  

For one thing, I get so irritated with this huge wave of diy zeal that has come about thanks to the pinthing.  If you glue a bunch of plastic spoons together and spray paint them red, I have a real newsflash for you as to what you're going to end up with.  A bunch of spray painted plastic spoons.  And you'll never get me to believe, dream, see, or visualize otherwise.  (I am for real, this is a thing.)

That being said, some people can do the damned thing.  I salute you, master of the glue gun, puffy paint aficionado, and sharpie sherpa.  (Okay, so that last one didn't make sense.  But it just works too well.)  And if you can do it, you go on with your bad self.  I only hate you juuuuuuuust a little inside.

But I digress. Hubs brought home some chairs from a storage shed months ago, thinking we could use them on the porch for extra seating.  They have life, but not so much in the way of looks.  So I figured I'd go ahead and try my hand at fixing them up.

Straight out of your favorite Sunday school room.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Taste of Summer

This WEATHER.  Ugh.  I'm not usually one to spend the entire Winter wishing for Summer, but even I have reached my breaking point.  I'm craving balmy nights, friends on the front porch, fresh vegetables and meals made on the grill.  Obviously I have no pull in the weather department, but I can control what I eat.  So last Wednesday night we had a summer inspired meal.  Pineapple bourbon burgers on homemade bacon rolls, tangy spinach salad and potato wedges.  And for dessert?

Grilled pineapple skewers with brown sugar-rum sauce!

Step 1- stab with pokey things.

Friday, March 21, 2014


There's something about cleaning out the fridge that is really disheartening.  Disposing of all of that food that never got utilized makes me feel like I did something seriously wrong.  Sometimes I think maybe I should just go ahead and yank a 20 spot out of my pocket and toss it in the garbage instead.  But it happens.  You have a little bit of leftover this or that, three tortillas left from tacos the other night, maybe some chicken.  Two pieces of bacon.  Not enough of anything to really do much with.

Personally, this is when I find myself discovering new recipes.  Sometimes I change the world with said  discoveries.  Sometimes I burn my wallet in the front yard.  Try, try again, right?

As for the tupperware container of tuna casserole that got left in the back of the fridge and has turned into penicillin, I have no real solution for that.

However, recently I struck gold.  Not sure if I've mentioned that we are Mexican foodies, but there is a recurring supply of cilantro, tortillas, and avocados in our fridge.  One day I noticed that there was just a little bit of every thing, and I was just NOT going to the store.  So I decided to do an umpteen layer dip.  But healthier.  Kind of, anyway.

After we devoured half of it.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Easy Caramelized Onions

Caramelized onions are the best thing ever.  They're tasty, they're easy, they sound complex, and if made my way, they're really pretty good for you.  Also you can make a great big batch of them on a Sunday night and use them all week.  I toss mine in salads with gorgonzola, on top of chicken or steak, in scrambled eggs or omelets, even in baking or soups.

I may also occasionally fry up a skillet of them with some mushrooms and eat it as a meal.  Or I may not, who can say.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Minecraft Creeper Mini Cupcakes

I do enjoy a good video game, as does Hubs.  As of late we have been playing quite a bit of Minecraft.  So when I was trying to come up with an idea for his birthday cake, I thought why not just GO there?  Who cares if we're adults?  Parents even?  If I want to make my dear husband a video game themed birthday cake, you had better believe I will do so.

Because I'm mature like that.

Anyway, I thought I might go the route of mini cupcakes to simulate the pixelated style of the video game.  Plus mini cupcakes are divine.  I figured I could line them all up and ice them in the form of a Creeper.  

I guess this is kind of a fail post.  The concept worked out nicely, however there were a few technical issues.  The first thing was that I didn't put enough batter in each cupcake.  Being able to see the white liners makes the whole thing look a little disjointed.  

Then I made all of the different color icings and intended to put them in zipper bags, snip a corner, and pipe a standard swirl in order to make light work of the decorating.  Well that was all good, except I used my cheap bags in an effort to get rid of them and they split at the seems.  So I ended up icing each individual cupcake with a toothpick.

Overall, as a trial run, I'll take it.  Here's some pics after the jump.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Hide-Away Cat House

Today is Hubs' birthday!  Or at least it was when I started writing this post.  I thought in celebration I could show off a little bit of his handiwork!

As previously mentioned, we have two annoying, entitled, anthropomorphic precious kitties in our family.  Unfortunately we've always been stumped with where to place their litter box.  There is no scarcely used bathroom, closet, or unused mudroom.  Thus wherever our cats are doing their business, it's more than likely going to be out in the ongoings of our house.  We talked about making a hidden litter box for months, and one day we just made it happen.

(Byyyyy the way, anytime I say 'we' in this post, you can be pretty sure that I actually mean 'he'.  I'm more the point and suggest type.)

We got this beaut of a dresser from Craigslist for $15.  Solid wood, just time worn and slightly bedraggled.  Most of the work that was done on this bad boy was repairing and solidifying the existing dresser.  If you had a somewhat newer piece of furniture, you could make a version of this in no time.

Here's what it looked like to begin with.  Actually this is even after a little bit of tlc.  Not gonna lie, when Hubs brought this home, I originally had my doubts...

But behold, the finished product!  He stripped, finished, and varnished the dresser, got new pulls from the hardware store, and unintentionally made it match the panels in our back room to a T!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Secret Family Stuffing Recipe

Simple and delicious.  That is pretty much the only way to describe my Mother-in-law's famed stuffing recipe.  With only five ingredients (give or take), it has very basic flavors that meld perfectly into the epitome of holiday warmth and comfort.

Baaaaaaasically it is the best stuffing I've ever had.  (With the exception of my sister's mushroom walnut version, but they're on two different ends of the stuffing spectrum.)

And it's a rather simple recipe!  The only thing is that it isn't quite an exact science...  Eh, I'll show you.

Okay so you start out by chopping a head of celery and two large sweet onions.  Throw them in a skillet and add enough water to just cover them.  Simmer on medium low (covered).