Wednesday, September 30, 2009

All Talked Out

This evening I went out for coffee with the engaging Karley, over at Chic & Green. We talked for 3 hours straight which is par for the course for us & I enjoyed my seasonal favorite, Pumpkin Spice Latte. I also had coffee with Toni Lynn this morning (*note-I do not generally have 2 coffee dates in one day, I'm not THAT much of a stay at home do nothing....) and we breezed through our children's 2 1/2 hours of pre-school chatting all the while. I have literally talked for 5 1/2 hours today!!!! Not to mention the phone calls from Deanna & Jeannine. I talked to the speech therapist (clearly not for me), my husband & my daughter & LOTS of people at pre-school.

So, I sat down to write my blog post tonight and I've got nothing. Nada. Zero. I think I'm all talked out. All my ideas are gone , fueled by coffee and companionship. I'm completely empty of ideas, but full of friendship (& coffee)!

Catherine had the following on her facebook page-Hi Cath, you inspired me tonight!!!

It's all I've got.

Random Bits About Me
Where is your cell phone................
Your hair........................................blonde
Your father.....................................sleepy
Your favorite thing........................My dining room table & chairs. (note Catherine put Family but really, my actual favorite THING is in my dining room)
Your dream last night.........................High School!?!?! eek!
Your favorite drink.............................Coffee
Your goal........................................Happiness
The room you are in...........................Living
Your fear........................................Killers
Where do you want to be in 6 years.......Ruling the world
One of your wish list items..................Couch
Where you grew up...........................Rochester
The last thing you did........................Coffee with Karley
What are you wearing.......................Jeans & a Sweater
Your TV.........................................Old
Your pet.......................................Deceased
Your computer................................Laptop
Your life....................................I'm Just Getting Warmed Up
Your mood.....................................Contemplative
Missing someone..............................Yes
Your car........................................Old
Favorite store.................................Target
Your summer...................................Busy
Your favorite color.............................Blue
When is the last time you laughed..........Today
Last time you cried............................Today
Three people who email me..................Deanna, Deanna & Deanna
Three of my favorite foods...................good cheese, ice cream & lobster (with butter, I'm a dairy whore & thank god, NOT lactose intolerant)
Three places I would rather be right now......Out to dinner with Jen (seriously, anywhere with my Jen), Finland & Colonial Williamsburgh

Zucchini Dear John

Zucchini- I only grew 2 plants this summer and I've grown oh so tired of it by now. I've grilled it, sauteed it, made zucchini fritters and a large zucchini pancake. I usually make some kind of zucchini bread or muffins but just could not stomach it this year. I even have half of a neglected one hanging out in my refrigerator this very minute. Perhaps for dinner.... Then I will be free of them for another year. There is a tiny one out there right now struggling to make it to my dinner plate but it's cold here this week so I'm hopeful....

I didn't write this, I received it courtesy of my fellow gardener, Jeannine. If you've grown zucchini you can probably relate.

Dear Zucchini,

I’m sorry to have to do this to you in such a public manner, but you leave me no choice.

I have tried to let you down gently, but you just don’t seem to be getting the message. At first, I thought that if I just ignored you, you’d understand. But you didn’t.

I tried leaving you in the refrigerator, but you insisted. I withheld water, but you kept coming. I even left you for three whole weeks, without any contact, and still you were there.

I don’t know any other way to do this but to send you this letter in the hopes that you will finally hear what I’m saying:

It’s over.

Yes, it’s true, things were great in the beginning. You were so fresh and green, the only plant thriving in a garden of that had, up until that point, been bare.

You were sweet, Zucchini. You were. You were always waiting for me when I got home from work and on weekends, you filled me.

I don’t deny it.

But Zucchini, you’re too much. You don’t know when to stop. You put too much pressure on me. You, I could handle. But then your family started arriving, and your extended family, and your friends … what was I supposed to do with all of you?

Look, I thought that going to Italy for three weeks would be the answer. I thought that during that time, left alone to your own devices (and no water), you’d understand that you couldn’t crowd my space.

How was I supposed to know that it would rain for the entire summer? How was I supposed to know that while the rest of the garden slowly began its inevitable decline, you would still be inviting your zucchini relatives over? How was I supposed to know you’d live so long?

Please don’t take this the wrong way. I will always think you’re beautiful and there will always be a part of me that loves you.

But right now, it’s all about the tomatoes. They’re plump and juicy.

You’re not.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Homemade Granola

This morning I made Homemade Granola.

A favorite breakfast around here consists of whole milk plain yogurt, fruit of some kind and granola.

This is so easy to make. I won't post my recipe because I didn't use one. I Googled one when I started making my own and now just throw together what I have since I know the process.

Today's creation consists or Rolled Oats (of course), almonds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, sesame seeds, some cinnamon, a pinch of salt, honey & some butter. Baked in a 350 degree oven for about 20 min, with some stirring. I don't generally use dried fruit because it's not my favorite and I eat it with fresh fruit. I also tend to use a greater concentration of seeds/nuts to oats which makes it nicer than store bought granola.

This is so much cheaper to make from scratch than to buy. I buy all of the nuts/seeds in the bulk section at the grocery store and usually only get what I need for the recipe. I may try one with cocoa powder and coconut, trying to duplicate the Kashi, Cocoa Beach that I would spend $4.50 for 14 oz!

I love wire bale jars to store things in. I bought a bunch at an auction cheap and they make homemade goods look so cosy! They are also environmentally friendly!

The pumpkin is the very beginning of my fall decorating & the chestnut I picked up on my morning walk-It was so shiny and pretty!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I Love You iPod!

Seriously, why didn't anyone tell me about the iPod?

I'm usually late to the party when it comes to technology. I text like a 10 year old. Actually, more specifically, I don't text like a 10 year old!

I don't usually listen to music so up to this point, have had very little use for the iPod. Recently I got a used (3rd hand!) one and I'm hooked!

I never really considered how having music I "liked" at my fingertips would have a positive impact on me. I've listened to more music (on my own accord) in the past month as I have in probably the whole past year.

I've been walking/jogging and created my own play list (Who even knew this was possible!!!) Ok-Everyone right??

My current walking/running playlist

As Good As I Once Was-Toby Keith-This song just makes me chuckle and it's a good warm up tune.
Smooth-Santana Featuring Rob Thomas-Is anyone surprised by this? I could play this over & over. Inside I'm a Spanish Harlem Mona Lisa.
Big Time-Big & Rich-My simple guitar playing, singing vagabond self if I was actually any of those things & a man.
Disease-Matchbox 20-Tortured Rob Thomas
Save A Horse (Ride A Cowboy)- Big & Rich-What girl doesn't need a cowboy once in a while?
Lot of Leaving Left To Do-Dierks Bentley-See Cowboy example above.
Last Beautiful Girl-Matchbox 20
Rest Stop-Matchbox 20
Downfall-Matchbox 20-Rob Thomas wants me so bad it's practically painful
Real World-Matchbox 20- I see a pattern here
Since U Been Gone-Kelly Clarkson- Kelly Clarkson gets pissed 0ff right when I'm starting to get tired.
Lonley No More-Rob Thomas-I may need help!
The Game Of Love-Santana

So many of these have a heavy guitar sound which I completely blame on an old High School boyfriend. They do, however, serve me well for a good long walk!

The only problem I have been having with the ipod is my overwhelming urge to sing out loud when I'm walking and my newfound propensity to dance around the house when everyone else is in bed!

Where I Pick My Battles

Here is a picture of my daughter eating an Heirloom Tomato like an apple.

Note the crown she got the day before at "King Burger" with my mother. She won't take this crown off her head and puts it next to her bed at night while she sleeps like a real princess. She wore it into Wegmans yesterday and I could feel the eyes of all of the other moms peering into my cart to see what kind of junk food I let her have after obviously plying her with fast food before our trip to the store.

This may be worse than last year when she insisted on wearing a winter knit hat into the library in the middle of summer while wearing a dress. At least then I looked like a hippy mommy rather than a junk food mommy!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Fried Green Tomatoes

This is my Saturday morning garden harvest.

Saturday night I went to a Southern Themed Dinner Party and my course to bring was the appetizer. So I brought Fried Green Tomatoes with Cayenne Buttermilk Ranch Dressing from the Dinosaur BBQ Cookbook.

Small aside, this cookbook ROCKS! I can't tell you how dirty this book is from all of the things we've made from it. The worst (for you) of which would have to be the Shepard's Pie topped with MACARONI & CHEESE. Could you just die?!?!? I don't think I've made anything in this book that I don't love.

Anyway, the tomatoes. I had never had Fried Green Tomatoes before and most of the dinner guests had not either. They were FABULOUS! They didn't even taste like tomatoes. Kind of like fried tart vegetables... I can't think of any other way to describe them. The Panko crumbs gave them just the right crunch and the dressing was so good! Everyone liked them, even my non-tomato eating friend whom I made try them. At this time of year Green Tomatoes can be found in any home garden (and I've even seen them at the Farmers' Market). You should try these-they were super easy too!

I recently read an article about Fried Green Tomatoes and the author wondered why Fried Green Tomatoes are a southern invention, given that tomatoes grow quite well in the south. He imagined that the North, with it's shorter growing season would need to be the ones to figure out what to do with all their green produce before a frost.

My guess is that only a Southerner would try and fry a tomato.... This dinner party was a regular fry fest with my course, Fried chicken and FRIED PICKLES. (These were surprisingly yummy!)

And in true Frugalista Fashion, I stole magazines from the Hosts recycle bin on my way out.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Don't Try This At Home

In case you were wondering.

If a 41 lb child hangs from your new towel bar which is anchored into your new drywall in your new bathroom, the bar will be ripped out of the wall and everything will land on the floor.

And make sure you tell that 41 lb child not to hang on the bar EVERY DAY because if you don't, when you ask them why they hung on the bar after you told them not to, they will tell you,

" You didn't tell me not to hang on it TODAY."

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Sew Easy!

Check out the new valances that I made for my dining room!

While I would like to sew better, I have very rudimentary sewing skills.

Basically I can sew in a straight line.

I can follow a SIMPLE pattern-but find that most of them have a lot of sewing jargon that I just don't know. I really need to take a class but it's never at the top of my list (until I want to make something.)

These valances were pretty easy. I put the fabric on the floor folded in half so that the valance appears lined. I just used the valance from these curtains in my living room and placed it over the folded fabric and just cut around them. Then turned it inside out and sewed it up (Except for a small rod pocket at the top). Then I hot glued the fringe (I was too scared that I was going to ruin the whole thing if I tried sewing through 2 layers of curtains and the fringe.

I didn't need any long curtains because the dining room is in the back of the house and I like looking outside from that room. We back us to trees so at night there is no need for privacy.

These were really inexpensive to make-The fabric was only about $7 as it was in the clearance section at Jo-Ann's-The end of the bolt. The fringe was the most expensive part, coming it at $13. (using my %40 coupon!)

The rods I got on clearance at Target for $4 each.

That comes to $12 a window!

Holy Cow!!!

If I haven't mentioned it before, I LOVE Stonyfield Farms Yogurt!!!

I can't say enough about it. It's organic and the best tasting yogurt I've found. They are also really big on sustainable practices and they use only real "food" items. No High Fructose Corn Syrup or Artificial Sweeteners here folks!

My favorite is Cream Top Plain topped with fruit, oatmeal or granola and (local) honey. I also adore their Greek style yogurt.

Today, however, Stonyfield Farms achieved a new high on my list for coming out with PUMPKIN PIE SPICE Yogurt for it's seasonal flavor. I love pumpkin flavored things this time of year and this is something I've never seen before. It's one of their low-fat varieties and it tastes like dessert!

I bought 4!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

My Garden Update

This past spring I started a different blog to journal my garden this year. I was pretty unsuccessful at keeping it updated (The blog, not the garden!) and found I spent more time out there working in it or watering it or just enjoying my morning coffee in it, than I did writing about it.

Suffice to say, while the blog was unsuccessful, the garden had a great year! I'm just going to merge those few posts into this blog I think.

Most mornings I would go out with my bowl and come back with a harvest like this one. It's a good thing my girlie can eat these tomatoes almost as fast as I can pick them! They never last long. Sometimes she picks them right off the vine and eats them-I feel like a good momma then.

And yes, I do always pick into this wooden bowl. It makes me feel earthy.

Look at all that green! It's hard to tell what is what. That big tower in the middle is a bean tee pee and boy have we had beans. I planted lettuce at the base and we enjoyed a lot of salads in early summer. The green mass in the front right is 9 tomato plants. See the deer fence? Worked like a charm and it really isn't all that obtrusive.

Closer up-The enormous zucchini plant that sometimes hides baseball bat size zucchini if you aren't careful.

Heirloom tomatoes. Aren't they pretty? They turn the loveliest shade of pink which I will share with you another time. The name is Old German. Who knew Germans even had tomatoes? My mom's family is German and she doesn't make one single German recipe with tomatoes. Is it even warm enough in Germany in the summer to grown nice tomatoes???? I must Google this...

Peppers, eggplant, part of my pea trellis. I grew an Heirloom called British Wonder Peas. They were true to their name and produced until the 1st week in August.
Ah my pride and joy this year. I know it doesn't look like much! But what it is is a HUGE LEEK and Potato garden. I love love love leeks and I'm going to have them WELL into the winter. It's hard to see the potatoes. This is the first time I have grown potatoes and they were SUCH a gratifying plant to grow. They get big, fast, sprout very pretty flowers and it is SO SATISFYING to dig them up. I grew a French fingerling called La Ratte. These potatoes were the BEST POTATOES ever. So tasty. All I have ever done is roast them with Olive Oil and Salt and they are divine!! (Once I threw in a leek but it was unnecessary) I only ever dig what I need for the meal and feel like a real gourmet when I do. Next year I'm planting twice as many. If you are lucky I will invite you over to share some.

I'm also getting a bumper crop of herbs this year and have been making and freezing a lot of pesto. My turnips are popping out the ground and my horseradish is taller than my 4 year old. I'm growing nice celery which I fear will all be ready at the same time (and really, who needs 6 celery heads at once?)

There are only 4 butternut squash and we've had a nice steady crop of cucumbers, not enough to make pickles though.

On the down side my broccoli did not produce at all. I choose a variety called "Romanesco" which is an Italian strain. Not unlike the German tomato question above one should wonder (If you've ever grown broccoli) How on earth Italians grown Broccoli. Is it really cold enough?-Answer is NO-This broccoli (which is a normally a cool weather crop) needs sustained 80 degree and above temps. (I didn't know this at the time!) Since this was a pretty cool summer, it never happened. My radishes and spinach never really took off and my strawberries were all eaten by squirrels.

All in all though, this has been my most productive garden ever!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Roasted Tomatoes in Olive Oil

The past 2 weekends I have made 2 batches of these lovely tomatoes. I got the recipe from my friend Diana and I'm completely copying it here for your reading & cooking pleasure (with her permission of course!)

"I used '4th of July' tomatoes, but any small roma-type will do. ('Juliette' is also a good variety). I cut them in half, take out the seeds and place them on cookie sheets.

I put my gas oven on WARM, then crack the door. I leave them in overnight, and part of the next day, always keeping the oven low, but close the door if I'm up and about to speed things along, but checking them often. They're usually done in 24-30 hours or so.
You want them to be a little rubbery, not crisp!

Then, I put them in a jar with fresh rosemary snips (or you can use garlic or basil or hot peppers; whatever you like) and cover them all with olive oil. Make sure every tomato is COVERED to prevent any mold problems. Keep them in the fridge. The oil will harden, but 15 minutes on the counter when you want to use them brings it back to clear...
I snip them and use them in salads, on pizza, with pasta, in dips, etc. They last a good 6 months in the fridge, but they never last that long!"

I actually used an oven at 200 degrees and it took from morning until evening with me turning them ever so often. I also used my own homegrown garlic and basil in the olive oil. They are DIVINE. Last week I had Kristin over for lunch and made grilled cheese with mozzarella, my homemade pesto and these tomatoes. I used the oil from the jar on the outside of the bread. These sandwiches tasted like the best pannini you've ever had. We've also been eating them along with olives as a pre-dinner snack! I'm dying to put them in a really great pasta recipe. I may have to make even more of these soon! Two trays of tomatoes just fits in one small canning jar!

BPA Free Again

I've been a bad mommy this summer.

Sometime around the time of my husband's family reunion, my In-Laws gave my daughter some of those new small cute plastic water bottles (maybe 6 oz?) Anyway, she's been in LOVE with these bottles all summer and as a result has become a huge water drinker! Always a plus!!! I've even indulged her myself with a 12 pack at one point!

Anyway, one day I mentioned I needed to get her a reusable water bottle and she pointed out she HAD a reusable bottle. Of course, we've been filling up these over and over. Another big no-no..

I've been meaning to get her a Sigg bottle at Wegmans but each time I go I can hardly justify adding $16 to my grocery bill at that very moment....

I know all about BPA's in plastics and yet, conveniently ignored it. I know, I KNOW! When she was smaller she had the Thermos Foogo sippy cup which I loved and kept things cold for a long time. I think it only holds 4 oz though and my daughter is finally to that stage when some things start to seem "babyish" to her.

Today at Target I stumbled on the Thermos Funtainer with the Hello Kitty It was clearance priced at $7.98-Score! It's not too gimmicky looking and my daughter LOVED it when she got it! It's even currently up next to her bed in case she needs a drink in the middle of the night!

Oh and me, what am I drinking out of these days? Well I also really want a Sigg bottle but my cheap ass self won't buy myself one so I've been refilling a glass Honest Tea bottle for my BPA free drink!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

My house

Today we went to a neighbor's party and met a couple that lives on the next street over from us. In the course of conversation we realized that their first home after they got married was MY HOUSE I LIVED IN UNTIL I WAS 5!

We lived in the same house.

My house.....

It was funny because as I was talking to them I realized that they both actually thought I had lived in THEIR house and as they relayed stuff to me they seemed to think they were talking about THEIR house. They seemed kind of possessive of it....(this is my ironic self speaking.) I told them I had pictures of myself on the front steps. They told me about a mailbox they got in Lancaster. When they lived there they still had the fence my parents put up and my old swing set (that's how I know it was actually MY house) and knew my old neighbor.

My memories are so vivid of that space and my little girl self and how safe it all felt when it was my mommy, daddy, baby brother & me. It was always the 4 of us, don't get my wrong, I didn't suffer any great tragedy after 5. But up until school it was just our little family with very little intrusion from the outside world. Kind of like my own little family unit today. Something I now know as an adult is precious and fleeting. Something I am currently trying to hold on to-hard!

I don't live in the town I grew up in but I do live in the town I was born in. In fact, I can, and have, driven by that little white ranch a number of times in the time that I have lived here.

But today, it was special to speak with someone who shared that same place. See their little girl who shared MY little girl room and talk about my swing set.

At MY house....

How Time Flies!

My oh my it's September already.

I've been gone from the blog for the entire summer really and I'm sure I have scarcely a reader left-Come back you 10 readers I had before!!! I'm here!

At any rate, since my husband is back to school (he's a teacher) and my girl starts her pre-school class on Monday I'm getting back into a routine of sorts and hope to be posting regularly again!

We had the most wonderful summer. I don't think I've ever had so much fun. Even as a child with a long stretch of summer vacation in front of me, my parents never had me THIS busy doing stuff I liked!

In addition to the stuff posted in my prior post we also:

-Went to Niagara Falls and the Niagara Aquarium-Frankly being THAT close to the edge of the falls with my daughter made me a nervous wreck-And it's not like she's prone to jump off railings or anything like. It's just so OPEN. This got me curious and of course I had to google death at Niagara falls when I got home (BTW, between 20-25 people jump over the falls in a given year! Yikes!)
-Went to Springdale farms-a local farm/petting zoo run but people with developmental disabilities.
-Had a garage sale
-Had a bunch of campfires with Smores in our backyard
-Hosted dear friends at our home for a week (and ate with them at all of their favorite old hangouts here!)
-I went to my 20th High School Reunion
-Got a lovely Coach bag at a Garage Sale-This was a SERIOUS score!
-Saw Oceans Alive at the Planetarium
-Spent time splashing in our kiddie pool
-Visited more farmers's markets
-Attended Laura Ingall's Day at the Genesee Country Museum with other dear friends
-Harvested so many wonderful veggies from our garden
-Had many picnics all around town
-Went on a local home tour
-I caught up with a friend I had not seen in 18 years and spent a whole afternoon talking!
-Gave the welcome speech to my daughter's whole nursery school
-Visited many playgrounds and libraries!
-Ate in our Gazebo.

I'm not happy it's over but I do have stuff to do around here-Like laundry for starters!!

See you soon!