Monday, February 28, 2011

Meet Prairie

Tom and I took the plunge into puppy parenthood on Friday with Prairie the German Shorthaired Pointer. We found her online and got her from a rescue near Orlando. She is 10 months old, almost fully grown and super sweet.

She LOVES to retrieve the raquet ball and we hope to work on swimming soon. She is housebroken and crate trained but we are working on walking on a leash (very hard not to pull when your neighborhood is as overrun with squirrels as ours is!), sit and stay. She is pretty funny and will throw the ball for herself if you don't. She loves to run and this morning she went on a 45 minute run alongside my bike and did great!

She moves FAST - but here are a few pics.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Out in the garden

Now that we have a yard, I have been very excited to get some plants growing. There were great herbs and veggies at the farmers market - we got sage, cilantro, mint, parsley, dill, lemon basil and oregano (and thyme and  rosemary from Home Depot for good measure). Mom also brought me a giant aloe vera and airplane plant - its great to have some green growing things. Hopefully between the shade and the hordes of squirrels, I can keep them alive!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Devils Millhopper

Last Thursday Mom, my grandparents and I went to the Devils Millhopper - a large sinkhole hear here. It was beautiful - and great to enjoy the gorgeous weather.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Home organization!

My parents and grandparents visited this weekend and we got LOTS done around the house. We bought a ladder and I finally (finally!) cleaned the leaves off the roof (that needed to be cleaned since I first inspected the house in September!).

My Dad and I also were able to hang up these bikes. With four bikes, its good to get some of them off the ground.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Farmer's Market

On Saturday my parents, grandparents and I went to the Alachua County Farmers Market. I was so happy to get all these veggies for $8.

Baby broccoli, sweet potatoes, turnips with greens, and rutabagas (and a giant freebie white radish). I also got a dozen eggs - food for the week!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Roasted Chicken Dinner

Easy dinner that can be prepped the night before. It needs about 1.5 hours in the oven - but I got home at 5 the other day so it was perfect to pop this in for a 7:30 dinner. If you want a faster dinner, cut up your chicken (or buy pieces - they cook in 30-45 minutes).

Potatoes, carrots, onions washed and chopped (sweet potato and other root veggies are great too, as is delicata squash) The veggies have plenty of time to cook, so chop them in large pieces
Whole, peeled garlic cloves
Whole chicken, washed and patted dry

Drizzle Olive oil in a roasting pan, add chicken and veggies around it. Rub chicken breast with olive oil and season chicken and veggies with salt and pepper. Fresh rosemary, sage, parsley or thyme is great too - but I didn't have any.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes then lower temperature to 350 and bake until internal temperature of chicken is 160. I tossed in some broccoli for the final 20 minutes for a balanced one-dish meal.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Wedding photos

I finally got around to ordering prints of our wedding photos - I cut the almost 1000 pictures down to less than 450. Now TD and I just have to narrow down a bit further for an album...

Here are a few of my favorite photos from our awesome photographer, Stacey Simpson at Stacey.e.Photography.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Ebay Update

Well, my ebay selling was a hit - I sold $430 worth of stuff - and made almost $400 after Paypal and eBay fees. Wow! I am done selling stuff for a while, but I will certainly do this again.

A couple of things I learned:
You won't sell everything - I sold about 2/3 of my stuff. Some I relisted if there was interest - i.e. people had been watching items.

People are REALLY into brand names - if its not a name brand, its probably not going to sell. But if it is, there is a good chance that you will be able to sell it - even if it is several years old.

Printing and shipping labels is easy!! And you can schedule a pickup to your house. This is super easy and your regular mail carrier will pick them up from your front door - you don't even need to be at home.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Granola Bars

I have been happily eating oatmeal with fruit most mornings, but I normally am not hungry until a couple of hours after I wake up. So having something I can pack and eat at work is helpful for getting me into my office before lunchtime.

I decided to try these Oat bars from Gourmet with the following changes - 1 c pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and 1/2 c pecans, cinnamon instead of nutmeg, and 1/2 blueberries 1/2 cranberries. I cooked mine longer than the recipe indicated (about 35 minutes) until they were pretty dark - I think this helped them stick together. Next time I might try reducing the sugar to make them a bit healthier. These were easy and tasty and I would definitely make again - the texture is like a chewy granola bar - yum!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Go-to recipes - Carbonara!

I discovered this last year and it quickly became a stand by. It is quick, made from pantry (and freezer) staples, and includes bacon and cheese!

Pasta Carbonara
4 slices bacon, chopped
1 c grated Parmesan cheese
2 c frozen English peas
2 eggs beaten
1/2 pound pasta (I use whole wheat linguini)
Red pepper flakes to taste

Prepare pasta according to directions. Meanwhile saute bacon. Once  bacon begins to crisp add peas and heat through.

Gradually add 1/3 c pasta water to eggs to temper. Drain pasta and stir through eggs, peas, bacon and cheese. Add red pepper flakes to taste.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

$4 of happiness

Grocery store flowers - Not the most eco-friendly, but certainly frugal. My best bets are lilies, spray roses, alstromeria and spider mums like these.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Skirted nightstands

I stopped into Goodwill the other day after dropping off some donations and was very happy to find two particleboard round tables with glass tops. I had been wondering what to do for nightstands in our bedroom - not sure what would coordinate with the already eclectic mix of cherry sleigh bed and rustic pine dresser. Not sure how much TD will like these - but at $3 each, they are a great temporary solution (and can always be moved to the guest bedroom eventually).

I bought a pack of sheets to use for the skirt. Sheets are a great source of cheap fabric, come in cute patterns and are very wide, so you don't have to sew any seams. A full flat and fitted sheet will give you enough to cover 2 small tables. The hardest part was cutting a circle - I calculated the "radius" that I wanted - table height + 1/2 table width + seam allowance (sewing a curved hem is tricky, so I kept this to a bare minimum) - I then fodled my fabric into fourths and folded again so that I had just a little wedge to cut. I used my ruler as a protractor to mark a curved line with the correct radius and then cut it out. A quick hem to the edges, ironing out the wrinkles, and the skirts are ready to go! The master bedroom is now pretty much complete - except for closet doors of course.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Triple Pinch pleat curtains

Well, these were a big fail! They look fine for the purpose - but I would not go this route again. I am not sure if it was the pleating tape itself, or the fact I was using a polyester suiting fabric, but overall results were subpar.

Most of the rooms in our house already had traverse rods installed. These are the rods that have a cord that you pull to open and close the drapes. The drapes are generally attached with hooks.

I was trying to match these cream faux silk curtains - that belonged to my great grandmother (and namesake) - that we have in our bedroom. They have very nice triple pinch pleats, so that is what I was trying to match.

I found some tan polyester herringbone suiting material at Joann's in the clearance bin, which was the closest color texture match I found that didn't cost and arm and a leg. The fabric was 54 inches wide, more than enough for my purpose.  I also bought a couple yards of pleating tape. The idea behind pleating tape has a series of cords that you can pull to gather your material after you have sewed it onto your material.

I followed the excellent directions from this website, but when I pulled the cords I got a lot of bunching and general messiness. I straightened out the pleats as best I could, but still nothing to write home about. Next time I will try using 4 prong drapery hooks or sewing pleats by hand...

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Go-to recipes

My requirements for a standby recipe: can be prepared in advance, impressive presentation, can be altered with seasonal ingredients/what is on hand.

Panna cotta fits all of those requirements and so is one of my staple dessert recipes. Its an eggless custard - thickened with gelatine - and goes great with fresh fruit, compote or sauce.

The basic recipe is 3 c cream, 1/2 c sugar, and 1.5 t gelatine. I usually make mine with half and half instead of cream, and usually do 2 c of some sort of tangy milk product - yogurt, buttermilk, and goats milk are all good options. For a recent dinner party, I served buttermilk panna cotta with blueberry cabernet sauce. Delicious and so easy!

Buttermilk Panna Cotta
1.5 t gelatine
3 T water
1 c half and half
1/2 c sugar
1T vanilla
2 c buttermilk

Add water and gelatine to a small bowl. Let soften for at least 10 minutes. Gently heat half and half and sugar in a saucepan until sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and gelatine. Then stir in buttermilk. Pour into 6-8 prepared ramekins (I use handled soup bowls which work perfectly). Let chill in fridge for at least 4 hours before serving.

Blueberry Cabernet Sauce
In a saucepan bring 1 pint fresh blueberries and 1/2 cup cabernet sauvignon to a boil, stirring constantly. Let cool before serving.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

At my window...

The best thing about my office is the wall of windows that looks onto a small wooded area.

One of my colleagues got me this awesome window bird feeder and its so fun to watch all the birds come to eat! I have mostly house finches - but also commonly see Tufted titmouse, Chickadee, House Sparrow, and Morning Dove. Hopefully I can attract some fun migrants over the next few months.