Im a girl that loves a little crunch in my ice cream, but I don't like chocolate, which basically leaves me with butter pecan. So I was thrilled to see a new CRUNCH in the ice cream case. This stuff is amazing. It doesn't get soft like the ones with pieces of cone in it. Its the perfect blend of sweet, salty, nutty, crunchy! https://www.haagendazs.us/products/4059/ice-cream/toasted-sesame-brittle/
Goat/Feta Cheese (Holiday Market)
A mix of feta and goat cheese, it is creamy and salty and amazing. Im kind of obsessed with it. Its incredible on crackers with apricot jam. I tried it on a greek salad and it the flavor was overwhelmed by the strong dressings, but still tasty. It's best to keep it simple.
I don't know if Im alone, but I love fonts. I collect fonts like I collect shoes. There's no way I could EVER use all of the fonts I have. But at least they're free. Check out this website and drool! Especially the handwriting script collection http://www.dafont.com/theme.php?cat=603
Pop Daddy Popcorn
My new favorite popcorn, and it's local! They were sampling at my grocery store (Holiday Market), and I fell in love! It's super cheap at 2 large bags for $6, and its cooked in 100% olive oil. http://www.popdaddypopcorn.com
Bell's Two Hearted Ale
Strong and delicious. If bud light is your favorite, you probably won't like this. My Mom makes a face when she tries it. Not a secret that I love this beer, but just in case you didn't know! https://www.bellsbeer.com/brands/info/2
Valentine Vodka: White Blossom
Let's start with the vodka. Now, I'm not an aficionado, but their white blossom vodka is awesome. It holds up in a mixed drink, but its also really awesome with just some soda and lime. It's light, slightly sweet, fruity, floral. It reminds me of the flavor of a fresh lychee nut. If you've ever had one.
But onto their tasting room / bar. They have all of the drinks in a handy menu, a tasting sampler (very expensive), McClure's pickles (they have no food of their own), and many elixirs of their vodka, bourbon, and gin, in jars of infused spirits. Try the cucumber vodka in a bloody mary, or in the fall, you'll be lucky if you get a taste of their apple-cinnamon whiskey. Holy smokes. http://valentinedistilling.com
It's that time of year, when you will get a season of blogs just so I can show off my flowers. Recently a friend called my front garden "perfect" and a great balance of color. I almost fell over I was so happy! My garden is for me to enjoy, but I also love for my friends and neighbors to see these amazing little acts of nature too. I love graphic flowers. Big colors, sharp angles, and a lot of variety. Not enough people get to see my garden, which brings me to my next topic: I vow to invite people over WAY more often this summer. A combination of my favorite things: my garden, cooking, and entertaining!
Now onto the SPRING FLOWERS!
Starting with the first little CROCUS that popped up:
Next, onto my amazing little TULIPS, some of which came from Holland, HYACINTHS (I think that would be a good name for a little girl!), grape hyacinths, and DAFFODILS:
I got my raised HERB GARDEN in as soon as I could with our crazy Michigan weather! Its the greatest thing in the world to go outside and pull in fresh herbs any time I need it for a recipe!
And now onto my favorite: My IRIS PARADE! I planted several last fall, and all but 2 flowered. These are amazing!
Although we had a handful of sunny days in February and March, there was snow coming into April, and I thought spring would NEVER ARRIVE!
But alas! The sun is out, it should be in the 60s this week, and even warmer this weekend. I think it's time to clean the leaves out of the garden and get some fertilizer down!
Here are some of my little sprouts coming up! Do you see the tulip buds?
Now that the garden is waking up, this is the Jerry Baker fertilizer I will be applying to my garden and lawn this weekend:
SPRING Wake-up - Terrific Turf Builder Tonic
1 cup of baby shampoo
1 cup of ammonia
1 cup of regular cola (not diet)
4 tbsp. of instant tea
Combine all of these in a 20 gallon hose-end sprayer and apply to the point of run-off. This will help your lawn wake up and breathe, while giving it something to munch on until you start your regular feeding program.
Hey guys, its been a while since I've written a blog. It's winter, and I get crabby. But the weather has changed and so has my mood! Here are a few random things going on in my head and in my world:
Yep, it's time to start seeds for the garden. Technically, Im behind by a few weeks for the longest germinating little guys, but it is what it is. As I've said before, I can get most of what I need at the farmer's market and flowers stores. The plants are in better shape, and probably cheaper after factoring in electricity for the grow light. At $3 a pop, sometimes 4 for $10, that's the way to go. But every year I start the seeds anyway. I think after our long, cold, winters, I just need to GROW something! GROW FOREST GROW!!
Starting Whole 30 .... again
I've also decided I want to get rid of my winter body. So I've restarted my Whole 30 diet from a few years ago. The plan is actually set up to rid your body of common food allergens, and then add them back in one group at a time, in order to see which food types affect you. Since I've already don't that, and Im going it for weight loss reasons, I'm going to be a tiny bit more lenient. Im still going to follow the no grains, no wheat, no dairy, no sugar, no processed, no alcohol, no legumes, no peanuts (no fun). But I am still going to allow myself a little honey, since I think it is good for my body. I will not be making my own ketchup (sugar). Im not going to beat myself up for eating salad dressing from a restaurant that probably has sugar in it. I may have a small amount of corn in the form of corn tortillas for tacos, and that's about it.
The first few days have been the hardest as my body adjusts. I have been a little bit tired, with no carbs as an energy supply. I also have to remember to eat more. I know, weird, right? I have planned out my month of dinners so that I am never stuck without dinner. Basically lots of roasted and grilled meats and fish. I also have portioned out almond butter, and have apples and celery (as well as pistachios and cashews, on hand for snacks. I tried eating hard boiled eggs, but I just don't like them. So I'll still make them, but turn them into egg or potato salad for lunch. I also have premade smoothie bags full of frozen fruit and veggies in the freezer so I can grab and go with a protein, fiber, smoothie. Im not going to lie, this diet takes some weekly prep work.
I'll let you know how I do!
P.S. I am eating WAY more than I ate before to stay full before. My friend, and natural food guru, Katy, says it's because I don't have the grains bloating my belly and making me feel full.
Today's breakfast: 2 eggs scrambled with sweet potatoes, onions, carrots, garlic, basil, and turmeric. Fried white and sweet potatoes with natural ketchup. Fresh strawberries. Pretty damn good.
Random Tips & Tricks
Tip #1 - Have you ever thought "is this egg still good?"
Here's a great way to tell - take a medium sized bowl and fill it with water. Gently put the raw egg in the water. If it sinks, its fresh. If it stand on its end on the bottom, it's not super fresh but it's still good. If it floats to the top, its time to throw it away, or in your compost heap!
Tip #2 - Cutting an avocado for a sandwich or guacamole
Pretty easy actually. Cut it to the skin all the way around. Open. Whack the knife (sharp side, not tip) into the pit so it sticks, and twist. Bang it against the trash to release. Now with the avocado in your hand, use the knife to cut slices through the avocado down to the rind. The rind is thick, so if you do this gently, you won't cut through. If you want slices, use a spoon to scoop it out, and it is pre-sliced! If you want mashed, continue to cut in the opposite direction so you have cubes. Now use the back of your spoon to smoosh the cubes right in it's shell. Then scoop out your avocado mush! Voila!
Tip #3 - Love fresh minced garlic?
Take this tip that I got from Rachel Ray - use a small-hole grater! I now usually use a grater for this small task. Just remember to rotate the clove or you will get stuck with a few larger pieces. BONUS: When you are done grating, rinse the grater under water and then rub your garlicky fingers along the safe side. Under nails if necessary. It will get rid of the garlic smell on your skin.
Tip #4 - Non-watered down drink
If you have leftover coffee or white wine (I know, who would possibly have leftover wine?), pour the leftovers into an ice cube tray. They will be ready the next time you make iced coffee or need to cool down a glass of wine, and you won't be watering them down!
Ya ya, I know it's Thanksgiving this week. Sue me. Here's my Halloween blog:
You all know that Halloween is my favorite time of year! This year it was a little harder to get in to. Maybe it was because I was at a hockey tournament the last weekend of Sept, which is when I would normally start decorating. Or maybe its because of our ridiculously unseasonally hot weather. I didn't like it! Go away, 80's! I want the 60's!
I did a terrible job documenting projects this year, so I'll apologize now!
Once I got my decorations out, I got into it. Here are some of the things I worked on this year:
Witch's Only Dinner Party
I really wanted to make my dinner party special this year. I've always made the best food I could find, and decorated my house to the nines, but what could I do to go above and beyond? I could hire a psychic for the night. So that's what I did. I built her a gypsy tent and let her do her thing for my guests! While waiting, I bought a fire pit and hay bales for seating, right next to the dessert shed of doom! Who wants to be on the invite list next year?
My ghost costume
This costume has been in the works for a few years. Ever since I saw the Martha Stewart ghost, I really wanted to recreate it. But it didn't completely work out, which is why I tried it for a few years (unsuccessfully) before finally committing to make it work. So Martha's is basically one big hooded cape with several layers of tulle. My problem was that it wasn't opaque, which kind of ruined the illusion for me when you could see my t-shirt underneath, and it made me feel very "big" with a tent starting from my neck. Those two statements feel kind of contradictory, but just go with it.
So to solve these issues, I used the yards and yards of tulle, and ripped them up! I made a no-sew tulle skirt like this one, but longer, and for adults. I also used a satin ribbon instead of elastic. The elastic probably would have stayed up better. I didn't have this tutorial when I made it. The long skirt was actually tied around my chest like a long dress. This made a huge difference from starting the dress from the neck. With the extra material, I made a hood that I tucked into the dress, and a little shawl that tied at the back. This made me feel a little less lost in the costume.
But the final touch was the glow. I think ghosts glow! So now trying to figure out now to pull this off! I bought battery-operated blue LED lights (this was a dilemma for me - do ghosts glow blue or purple? I went with blue), and put it under my skirt. I saw little circles of blue. Dammit. Not the beautifully diluted glow of light that I expected. So I got some cotton material and made little tubes, and put the lights in there. Not completely what I wanted the finished product to be, but pretty close!
Then I pinned the feet of covered lights to my body - spiraled them up from my knee all the way up, and around, my torso. Then I pinned the 6, yes you hear me 6, packs of 3 batteries each. Its the price to pay for a great costume. Then I painted my face white and my eyes black, with my blue hair, and here is the final result!
I saw this great video of skeletons jumping out of doorways and climbing out of the ground, and I just had to have it! I wanted it on my front lawn, so I built a screen. Yes, I was shocked too. I bought 2x4s in lengths of 6 feet and screwed them together to make a frame. Then I painted the outside black (now I know the insides need to be black too because they are too visible when the video is on), and used a staple gun to attach a 6x6 square of tulle (leftovers!), which is essentially invisible in the dark. The tricky part was getting it to stand up. I used 1-foot planks on each side, but it still blew over in the wind since it's basically a giant sail. I'll work on it for next year. I didn't take pictures of the building, but someone (Melissa?) took pictures of the VERY COOL effect of the skeletons climbing out of my front lawn and scaring people! I'll have to work out the kinks for next year!
Halloween wouldn't be the same without the new tradition of going to Tilson Street in Romeo. It's a few blocks of Halloween awesomeness. Almost every house goes crazy with themes and decorations. Ok, so I had lots of photos last year, but the new dead hockey rink this year really got my attention! Here are some of the best shots of the night:
As tradition goes, I invited friends and family to join me for Halloween night. I love the energy in the air, and the trick or treaters that come to the door. Thanks for joining me, Bri, Sea, Katy, Jason, and Jen! I loved making lasagna, garlic bread, salad, drinks, and cupcakes! A few pics (Seabrook scared the kids):