Monday, May 30, 2011

Green Thumb - Take Two

Remember Buster? Well he's gone ... and he's been gone for awhile now. I think I killed him about the same time we got Rooney. I know, it sounds like I quit taking care of the plant as soon as we got a kitten, but I learned that basil plants aren't really meant to last long. They're meant to be used for a season, but that's about it. (At least, that's what I'm telling myself.)

Either way, losing Buster meant one more tick on the "Non-Green Thumb" side of my "Can I garden?" chart. I was about ready to hang up my metaphorical gardening hat, but this weekend turned into unexpected adventure in the planting department. Allow me to explain ...

Jesse and I walk around our neighborhood a few times a week, and always admire the beautiful landscaping in our neighbor's yards. Our yard, on the other hand, was a little shabby looking and not so beautiful. We had some overgrown bushes, dead shrubs and daffodils that had bloomed, died and wilted. We kept complaining about how bad it looked, but I don't think it dawned on us right away that we could change it. Duh!

Side note: I would show you a picture of what it looked like, but after spending the last 30 minutes digging through my photo archives, I can't find a single picture of the yard. I guess you'll just have to use your imagination for this one. Imagine a hot mess of dead bushes and wilted daffodils - that's my front yard!

Anyway, yesterday evening, after returning from an overnight trip in central PA, Jesse asked if I wanted to go to Home Depot and pick out some plants. My first thought was, "No, I'd rather not waste the money on something I'll probably kill." But I knew that we really needed to cleanup our front yard, so off we went on our little gardening adventure. We spent about $50 and came home with a shovel, a bag of mulch, a bag of soil, one Japanese Euonymus, three packs of white impatients and two pots of brightly colored Celosia.

Jesse dug out the old bushes when we got home last night and tried to clear out some of the leaves. Here is what it looked like before I got started this morning.

I spent about 3 hours today cleaning out the leaves, tying back daffodils, laying soil and planting.

Before tying back daffodils

After tying up the daffodils

All tied up

And this is what everything looked like after I planted the shrub (Japanese Euonymus) and the Celosia.

I still have to plant the impatients, but I ran out of soil (as you can see in the picture above), so they'll have to wait until Jesse gets back from work. Oh, the joys of having one car! :)

BUT since I can't do anymore work out in the garden, I'm off to enjoy the pool!

I'll post the true 'After' pictures once we buy more soil and lay out the mulch.

Happy Memorial Day!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Photo Friday

This past weekend we met our new nephew, Sunny. He was such a sweetheart!

Photo Credit: Neil Khettry

Photo Credit: Neil Khettry
He had a FULL head of dark, soft hair

 And here's a shot of Sunny making a very similar face to his favorite toy (Sophie the Giraffe) from his favorite Aunt and Uncle.

Shortly after returning from Pennsylvania, my sinus infection set in. I spent most of this week curled up on the couch, but had to go into the city for a work meeting on Wednesday. Even though I was feeling pretty awful, I took the opportunity to snap a few pictures of the District:

So other than laying on the couch and forcing myself to go to a meeting downtown this week, my only other accomplishment was sewing a purse. My sister gave me a pattern and fabric for Christmas, and I FINALLY finished it this week. I'm hoping to give you more details about the project next week, but here's sneak peek of how it turned out.

And while I've been sitting here in misery, Rooney has been entertaining me with his usual antics. We've had a fun week of playing fetch and taking late afternoon naps!

This weekend we're headed back up to Hershey, PA for Jesse's company gathering. We're also spending the night in York with a few friends. 
I'm hoping that I'll be well enough to enjoy all the festivities of the holiday weekend, and I hope that all of you get to enjoy a nice relaxing weekend, as well!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Comfort Food and Cabinet Organization

Sorry I've been MIA this week, but I've been miserable. I woke up Sunday morning (still in PA) and could tell that my allergies were a lot worse than usual. I spent the entire car ride back to DC sleeping and wondering why I felt so awful. As it turns out, I wasn't suffering from allergies. I have a sinus infection. Booooooo!

I spent Monday curled up on the couch in hopes that resting would solve my problems, but it didn't help. I had to go into the office on Tuesday, so I fought through it and left feeling worse. By yesterday, I broke down and went to the doctor. She put me on an antibiotic, but it hasn't kicked in yet. I'm back at home today, worse than I was yesterday.

The worst part of it all is that it's 90 degrees and sunny here. If I'm missing work, I want to be outside enjoying myself - not cooped up in my house feeling lousy. Woe is me.

Since I am stuck inside and feeling miserable (have I mentioned that I hate being sick?!), I made myself a little comfort food this morning. Whenever I was sick as a child, my mom would either make rice pudding or egg custard. So as an adult, I naturally want one of those two items when I'm sick. I called my mom this morning to whine catch up, and she immediately recommended the rice pudding. It takes about an hour to make, most of which is spent baking, and it's the perfect pick-me-up to soothe and comfort.

Baked Rice Pudding

Serves: 6
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hr. 10 min.

4 cups milk, divided into 2 cup portions
1/2 cup long grain rice
1/2 cup raisins
1 Tablespoon butter
3 beaten eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
ground nutmeg

In medium heavy saucepan bring 2 cups milk, uncooked rice and raisins to a boil; reduce heat to simmer. Cover and cook over low heat until rice is tender; about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter. 

Meanwhile, combine beaten eggs, 2 cups milk, sugar, vanilla and salt in a mixing bowl.

Gradually stir rice mixture into egg mixture (temper to avoid scrambling the raw eggs). Pour into 10x6x2 inch baking dish (or a dish of comparable size).

Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes. Stir well; sprinkle with nutmeg. Continue baking an additional 20 minutes, or until an inserted knife comes out clean. Serve warm or chilled.

Waiting for something to bake is the perfect amount of time to tackle a small kitchen challenge. So while the rice pudding was baking, I decided to clean out my spice cabinet and reorganize a little bit. 

While the pictures don't look all that impressive, I managed to get rid of six spice bottles and a few sample spice packets that I don't need. I also checked for expired bottles, so I have a small list of spices that I need to replace. Lastly, I better organized the baking side of my spice cabinet, so I'll be able to find everything I need when I'm baking. I think that this small re-org is really going to help as I transition into my summer recipes. 

Here is a breakdown of my process:

Step 1: Empty out the cabinet and clean the shelves.

Step 2: Sort by date and throw out any expired spices. Make a list of any that you want to replace.

Step 3: Sort miscellaneous items by category. I sorted by wet and dry ingredients because that's how I wanted them to go back into the cabinet.

Step 4: Put everything back in the cabinets by category.

And admire the spices one more time ... 

The back row are spices I rarely use (i.e. fennel and ground mustard), the middle row is for my go-to spices, and the bottom row is reserved for small bottles.

Once you relish in your hard work, sit back, relax and eat rice pudding ...

And then go take a nap! :)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Photo Friday/Saturday: Two Weeks Worth

I'm baaaaack! And can I tell you how much I missed my blog? I missed working on projects. I missed writing. And, I missed reading your comments.

As you might recall, the last two weeks were spent in Dallas (at a conference) and Kansas (visiting family). The conference went really well and I had a great time seeing my parents, sisters (and their husbands/boyfriends), nieces, nephews, and my BFF, Kelly. Of course, the time flew by way too fast and I already miss everyone! Bleh.

Oh and just my luck, not only did my camera battery die right after I got to KC, my phone ran out of memory, so I spent the weekend deleting pictures anytime I wanted to take one. 

Alright, the phone running out of memory wasn't bad luck, that was me not listening to my husband tell me that I store WAY too many pictures on my phone. If there was a tech-version of Hoarders, I would be on it. I hate deleting files/pictures/music because I've had too many bad experiences of permanently deleting items that I didn't mean to ... but I digress ... 

All of the battery/memory problems aside, I did manage to capture a few goodies from the trips ...

Clint Black performed at a private concert for a small group of our attendees. There were only about 100 people there, so it was really neat. And thanks to being on the planning side of the conference, I got an autographed cd for my dad!

(I took this picture without zoom)

After five days in Dallas, I was off to KC ....

This quote, which was originally in my grandma's kitchen, 
is now residing above my mom's kitchen sink.
{I want to DIY my own version of it for my kitchen}

Kelly and I did craft night, so I made her a mini-me named 5k-Kelly :)

Meanwhile, my mom was working on a real craft project that I can't wait to share with you, but it'll have to wait just a few more days.

I brought home saltwater taffy for the kids and it was a huge hit! 

(my battery died right after these pictures, so just imagine a bunch of little kids going crazy for taffy)

After nine days of traveling, this week has been less than productive. While I didn't manage to accomplish anything of sustenance, I did get a few good pictures for you :)

The Farmer's Market near my work started up again - woo hoo!

An unusually busy commute and broken escalators

we found this little guy on our walk last night

And here are a few pictures from our drive up to Philly this afternoon. 
We get to meet our new nephew, Sunny, tomorrow and I can't wait. 
{No worries, I charged the camera battery before we left} 

And of course, your Rooney moments of the week :)

he just discovered that he can lay in the sink :)

So. Tired. Must. Sleep.

two words: dare. devil. 

Have a good weekend! 
I'll be back next week with some real content!

p.s. I titled this post Photo Friday/Saturday because it started out as Photo Friday, but now it's 1:00 am and I just finished :)