Friday, August 28, 2009

Bountiful Baskets

Just a quick post today - I'm trying to get organized around my house (so far, My House is winning).

We placed our first order with
Bountiful Baskets last week - a local Food Co-Op. Look at all the fresh goodness that we picked up on Saturday. I've been busy baking and cooking all week using the wonderful seasonal ingredients.

This was the regular basket order (that's half fruit, and half veggies), Plus the Italian Pack and a Case of Cherries. Thanks Roma for cluing me in to this - took me awhile to get around to an order, but it won't be the last.

My hubby and Little K both have a Sweet Tooth (or 2), so I did some baking.

First there was a Peach Tart. This
recipe is from Paula Dean. I used Strawberry Jam for the glaze because it's what I had in the fridge. Other than that small change - I followed the recipe as is (I know, hard to believe - right!).

I also made a small Peach Custard with the extra ingredients that didn't fit into the tart pan. It's basically the Peach Tart without the crust. I'm not a big custard fan, and really didn't think I would like it without the yummy butter crust, but it was really good. Smooth and Silky.

Next came a Rustic Apple Pie.

It's made the same as a regular Apple Pie, just without the pie plate. I roll out the crust and place it on a baking sheet lined with
Silpat. Plop the apple mixture in the center of the crust and fold up the edges. I added a little crystallized sugar for sparkle and an egg wash for browning.

I make my pie crust in the food processor, so there is no floury mess all over the counter. I also pre-cook my apple slices (in this case, rough cut apple chunks). That way, the apples are assured to be soft and tender, the crust doesn't overbrown (waiting for the apples to cook), and I can keep the moisture under control - there is nothing worse than a watery Apple Pie. They are cooked in a saute pan with a little sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, butter and flour. Quantities of each depend on your taste, and how "wet" you apples are.

Finally - we made a batch of Ratatouille using the Eggplant and other vegetables. Little K wasn't to thrilled about this recipe as we had just rented the Movie Ratatouille, and she was convinced there was more than just veggies in it.

I used a combination of several recipes. I don't think the traditional version is supposed to have mushrooms, but I had them available, so I added them. One of the recipes I saw used capers, so I included those as well.

Lots of other good stuff has been cooked up this week using our Bountiful Basket Harvest, not to mention what we ate fresh (carrots, grapes, melon, strawberries, cherries). The bananas got over ripe before we finished them, so I think they are headed into some Banana Nut Bread. I also have a freezer full of pitted cherries with plans for a pie and maybe some jam.

But first - I have to get back to conquering my house and all its disorganized belongings.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Owl Bento Lunch

Today's Lunch for Little K turned out pretty cute so I thought I would share. I was inspired by all the Owls that have been in crafting and fashions for a while now.

This style of making pictures or scenes is called Oekaki Bento. There is also a very popular method of Charaben (Kyaraben) Bento, which is creating characters. Charaben usually depict a popular TV or Brand character (Power Rangers, Hello Kitty, Winnie the Pooh etc.). This post on
Bento Basics does a good job explaining the different forms.

The rice is colored blue with food coloring. I added a little plain white rice in the upper right corner to look like a cloud puff. Various lunch meats and cheese were used to make the Owl. The branch is Nori paper and the flowers are Strawberries with Pea Pod leaves. The little yellow chick in the corner holds soy sauce.

The lunch box is tiny - only 5" X 6". I usually pack snacks in it, but it was the perfect size for this woodland scene I had in mind.

There's not much variety in the Owl Scene, so I sent along some other fruits and veggies as well.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Organized for School

Last week was our first full week of school. Little K is involved in more activities than ever (during school and after), and while she is pretty responsible (if I do say so as her proud mother), it can be a lot for an 8 year old to keep track of.

I knew I needed to give her some tools to make organizing her days easier, when she accidentally went to school wearing Flip Flops. That's not such a big deal, because Flip Flops are actually allowed at her school. The problem was - is was a day that she had P.E. To make matters worse, she had picked out her outfits for the entire week (including sneakers for the P.E. days), she just got them mixed up and confused. OOPS.

Here is our solution.

We decorated Clothes Pins to coordinate with her room, and marked them with the Days of the Week.

We made another set of decorated pins with all her activities that require special clothing choices (Gymnastics, Dance, P.E. etc.)

The pins can be moved around as needed when her schedule changes.

The mesh hanging organizer is from IKEA. It's designed to hang over a closet pole, but we attached it to a hook in the ceiling (installed with a toggle bolt for security).

There are 6 cubbies in this organizer, perfect for each day of the week and one for the weekend.

The weather here is pretty predictable (hot and sunny), so it's not hard for us to make clothing choices for the entire week, although now that Little K is stepping up her fashion style, it sometimes takes us longer to agree on her choices, so we don't always get the entire week picked at once.

Then there are those days that I'm way behind on the laundry and there is nothing clean left. This system also helps me avoid scrambling through the dirty clothes hamper.

We started with regular wooden clothes pins (they can be found in the craft store, or in the home section of discount and grocery stores).

Then we painted them to match her room using basic acrylic paints.

This is her bedspread from Land of Nod. We chose Pale Pink, Lime Green, Aqua and Orange for the colors of the Clothes Pins. The Mesh Organizer is in a dark Fuchsia Pink. Her walls are painted Aqua.

I pulled out my scrabooking supplies to look for decorating inspiration. There are endless options on how you can jazz up your clothes pins, but for our project we stuck with Ribbons, Buttons and Flowers cut from craft felt.

Everything is simply hot glued to the clothes pin.

The Key Tags are from the Office Supply Store. The wire attachment was replaced with coordinating Embroidery Floss thread through the existing hole in the tags.

I created the days and events using one of my favorite Fonts (CK Darling) and printed them out on white card stock. A 1 inch circle punch is the perfect size to fit inside the metal tag ring. Punch out the days/events and glue them to the tags. Thread the floss through the spring of the clothes pin, tie a knot at the end and add a dab of glue to prevent it from being pulled out.

I'm hoping this week will go a bit more smooth, with no Wardrobe Malfunctions.

Now, if I can just figure out something to make with these adorable little clothes pins! I'm such a sucker for things in miniature.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Hair Jewlery

I can't take credit for this idea...that goes to my niece Jocelyn. We were shopping together at the Flea Market and Little K was admiring one of the tables that had all sorts of sparkly vintage jewelry. She found a pair of earrings that she really liked, but when she realized they were Clip earrings she was going to put them back. She just recently got her ears pierced, so wearing (and buying) pierced earrings is a big deal.

That's when Jocelyn suggested to Little K that she get them anyway, because she had an idea on another way she could use these bright beautiful gems that had caught her eye. I was curious to see just what she had in mind.

My niece has a very strong sense of personal style. She currently has the underside of her hair dyed bright red (at least she did when I saw her a few weeks ago), and wears a little diamond stud in the side of her nose. She's not afraid to have fun with fashion and can pull of a bold statement...but she is 22 years old! What may look cute on her, may not be so appropriate for an 8 year old...or her mother.

I should have known, Jocelyn wouldn't steer us wrong. I think this idea is great for any age (myself included).

These are just some of the vintage earrings we found at the Flea Market with Jocelyn. One pair I purchased years ago at an antique shop and wore to a Black Tie Dinner (as earrings). A few other pairs were recently purchased by Little K at a local Antique Mall.

Don't they look great just clipped into side swept bangs? I think the yellow one at the top looks like a fried egg. The blue one at the bottom looks great worn with dark denim. I haven't tried yet, but I also want to clip them onto a headband to wear.

They all have some version of the basic clip back. I didn't do anything other than clip them onto a bunch of hair. For Little K, who's hair is very soft and fine, I put a clear elastic band in first to create a bit more bulk for the clip to hold on to.

There are other types of clip backings, so be sure and check before you buy. Some have just a thin wire with a flat knob at the end. Those would work also (we have one pair), but I think I'll want to attach them to a regular alligator hair clip to make it easier.
I think those young girls may be rubbing off on me, because I think I smile just a bit more when I'm wearing some sparkle - and this is a fun way to do it. Thanks Joc.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

More Twirling Fun

This is another one of the sewing projects my Mom and I completed when we were in Pennsylvania. It's made with the Spiral Skirt Pattern from Country Babies Boutique which is similar to the Redondo Pattern, only the panels are slightly narrower.

I think I must have been in a bit of a drunken craze the day I bought all these fabrics (that tends to happen when I go into a quilt shop). There are 6 different fabric patterns, I used 2 panels of each for a total of 12 panels to fit Little K. The bottom edge is finished with black bias tape.

The fabrics are from all different designers. I found the black and white bird print first, which had just a hint of pink...and from there I just kept adding pinks, oranges, green and lots of black & white until I had a stack that looked good together.

I know the designers spend a lot of time coordinating their fabrics so you can buy them together all in one fell swoop...and I have been known to do just that of a collection that I love. But I also love the thrill of bringing a bunch of unrelated patterns together, that have been sitting on the shops shelves, completely segregated from each other, into a beautiful eclectic mix.

I think this one turned out pretty good, and I even have fabric left over, so you may see them re-appear in some other combinations, or at least in a Flower Hair Clip - my current crafty obsession, so stay tuned.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Gourmet Tuna Melt

I need to get to the market - we are badly in need of the basics, so I knew finding something for lunch could be a challenge. I'm not in the mood for soup, we've eaten grilled chicken the past few days, and I think I might even be out of Peanut Butter.

I quickly look in the pantry, and decide on Tuna Fish Sandwiches. I'm surprised by how many people don't like tuna fish - but I do, so that's the plan.

Head to the fridge - grab the Mayo (did you know that
Hellmann's Mayo is called Best Foods mayo on the West Coast? Same company, same product, same packaging, just different name). The jar is almost empty, but PHEW, there is just enough left.

Look for the relish - NONE - maybe a jar of pickles I can chop up - NOPE. I have jalapeno peppers....I DON"T THINK SO. Solution - I see a jar of Artichoke Spread - THAT WILL WORK. I also grab the capers, because I remember the above mentioned spread not having a lot of flavor (probably why there is still half a jar left). Is it weird that I always have capers in my fridge, but seldom have basic things like relish and ketchup?

Now over the the bread box - YES, I really do have a Bread Box - isn't it cute? OOPS - out of bread too...but I have English muffins...SCORE.

I mix up the drained Tuna, Mayo, Artichoke Spread, Capers add a little salt, pepper, dash of Lemon Juice and some Celery Salt and VOILA - it tastes good, really good. Glop it onto a toasted English muffin, add a slice of Muenster cheese and under the broiler it goes for just a minute until the cheese melts.

As I'm checking on them, the plain white Muenster cheese is looking a little boring, so I add a wedge of Cheddar Jack for some pretty yellow color (besides, I think a Tuna Melt is supposed to have Cheddar). By now, the Muenster has browned just a bit and looks more colorful, so I probably didn't need the Cheddar after all, but I like the contrast.

I had a few wedges of leftover watermelon (from a pool party earlier this week), so they went on the plate too, and here it is...Gourmet Tuna Melt Sandwiches.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

F-R-I-E-N-D-S Swap

I received a package while I was visiting my family in Pennsylvania. I was so sad I had to wait till I returned home to Arizona to open it, but look at all the goodies my F-R-I-E-N-D-S Swap Buddy Ngaire sent me from Austrailia.

The swap rules were to send something for each letter in the word FRIENDS. Ngaire did such a great job gathering all sorts of things that I love. Here is what was waiting for me:

Everything was wrapped with these Beautiful Monogram Letter Tags - just adorable.

F is for Five French Tags and other French Themed Embellishments

R is for Ribbons and Recipe book (plus an extra adorable cupcake soap)

I is for Invites and Ink

E is for Earrings...for me (pearls) AND Little K (doughnuts and cupcakes)

N is for Note Book and Napkin Rings

D is for Date Book and Decorations (Cupcake themed of course)

S is for Scrapbook Goodies (including an adorable chipboard Emu)

Thanks to Khris for hosting this great swap. It was fun to get to get to know a new Friend!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Pennsylvania Summer Visit

Both my husband's and my families live in Western Pennsylvania. It makes travel during the holidays great, they live only an hour from each other, so when we go "home" to visit family, we are able to see both sides. I can't imagine having to choose one over the other.

We just returned from our Summer trip to PA. I always say we are going to Pittsburgh, because it's the closest large city that people may recognize, but our families actually live about an hour north of Pittsburgh. Mine are in Butler, and my Husbands in New Castle. This year we not only spent time with our families, but we also spent a few days in Pittsburgh doing some of the Big City Tourist things with our daughter. I'll post more on that later.

While we were visiting my hubbys side of the family, we took a trip to
Pymatuning Spillway to feed the fish.

It's known as the place "where the ducks walk on the water". There are thousands of fish literally climbing on top of each other to get at the bread being thrown at them.

The fish are Carp, not the most attractive (in my opinion), but it's pretty cool to see. We try to throw the bread out past the fish to get to the ducks and geese...but not to worry, the birds wade to the edge right on top of the fish and get their share of bread as well. No one seems to go hungry.

Little K was watching all the action and I asked her to turn around so I could take a picture. The backdrop was beautiful. Cloudy Blue Sky - Bright Blue Water, Lush Green Trees (all things we don't have in Arizona).

I turned around to step back for a better vantage point for my photo...and I hear Little K say....."Mooooooooooom? Never a good thing for a mother to hear. As I turned back, this is what I saw!

One of her crocs was missing. Now, the fish are big...but not big enough to jump up and snatch a shoe from a little girls foot...wait - maybe one of the geese....or ducks?

Apparently the heel got caught on the edge of the railing as she was "posing" and it flipped off her foot and landed in the water.

I think this guy with the big lips tried to eat it (maybe he thought it was pink bread)? Luckily, after a few moments of being completely covered by gasping, sucking, nibbling carp...the little pink croc popped back up to the surface.

That's my husband fishing it out with a clever little hook on a long pole that the snack bar was quickly able to provide.

Think maybe this is not the first time something like this has happened?

I'm happy to report - we left Pymatuming with the same number of shoes that we came with, although one was noticeably cleaner than the other.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

A Treat from the Bakery

There is nothing better than yummy Sweet Pastries still warm from the Bakery on a Sunday Morning.

Drinking a cup of coffee, reading the Sunday paper, eating a sweet treat. It's a relaxing way to start the day.

Cherry Turnover for me, Bear Claw for Hubby, Sugar Twist for Little K and one extra just for good measure.