Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Best Buddies

Spring has sprung with the most beautiful weather here in NC.
I had hoped to be outside snapping springy pictures for the blog, but life had different plans.
A sick doggy was diagnosed with kidney failure along with several other problems.
I now understand the saying about dogs being like one of the children.
Four days in the emergency pet hospital with high hopes of improving those numbers enough to keep her well enough.
The numbers didn't change, yet the vet felt she could come home and be monitored until she tells us she is ready.
I'm not sure we will ever be ready:(.
Brett has become especially close to Peanut.
They are best buddies.
So, when he went from perfectly healthy to sick as a ... dog in a matter of hours I couldn't help but wonder about the way things happen.
The sick doggy is home from the hospital.
Brett is in the hospital awaiting surgery tomorrow.
I am, once again, reminded of how quickly things can change.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

A New Way to Get Your Greens

While we try to stay on top of healthy eating, it can be a challenge to keep up with the information coming at us from so many different sources.  On top of that the thinking changes often on exactly what is good and bad for us.
However, one thing that never seems to change is something our mothers have been telling us for years...
"Eat your vegetables."
Lucky for me I enjoy most vegetables.
Although, I must admit, kale was something I had never even tried until just a few years ago.
I've since made it into chips and salads.  Since I know it is supposed to be super good for us, I am working on cultivating a LOVE for it.  So far, I think my favorite way to eat it is torn into small pieces in a soup.  I think it's the texture that is taking some getting used to.
But, since it does well in my garden, I am continuing my search for ways to incorporate it into my diet.
Recently I came across this idea from P. Allen Smith and decided to give it a try. 

I am now finding it very easy to do something else our mom's were good at... sneaking vegetables in any way they could.
A sprinkling of kale super green powder in my smoothie doesn't alter the taste yet makes me feel super good about eating my greens.
If you are a fan of kale, what is your favorite way to prepare it?

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Springing Forward

Just when we were busy festooning the interior for Spring.
I opened my eyes this morning to the sight of tree tops covered in a glittery coating of white.  Tiny flakes swirled through the air as I nestled deeper into the covers trying to adjust to losing that one hour of sleep 😉
It may take an extra cup of coffee  and a few breaths of that cool morning air to get going today.
I think I'm up for the challenge.

Enjoy your Sunday.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Weekend Fun

Good Monday Morning to you.
How was your weekend?
Did you do anything fun/interesting?

We decided to tackle something on the "to do list".
For the past few years (okay, two to be exact), we've sat down together and made the list.
We did a pretty good job of tackling last year's list.
Although there was one thing that carried over to this year and that was finding a new pedestal sink and faucet for the powder room.

The current model has been serving us for the past 17 years.
Although most of those years I have found it to be on the skimpy side.
By that I mean it is a challenge to find a bottle of soap that will stay put while also leaving room to turn on the faucet.  Through the years the soap has fallen overboard on more than a few occasions.
The other issue with the current sink is that shiny brass faucet.
Not only is it out of fashion, but a closer look would show the odd shade of green it has turned over the years.   Along with the green "patina" the minerals in our water have been leaving an impossible to remove build-up on the brass.
No amount of scrubbing makes it look nice.
I think I've turned a blind eye to the whole thing.
Although when I stop and think that this is usually the only bathroom our guests see, I know it's time for an upgrade.

A weekend trip to a nearby bath/kitchen & lighting showroom was where we found ourselves on Saturday.
Last year we tried the local hardware type shops with no luck.
It was fun to see what the current trends are. 
Space limits us from having a sink with a cabinet below.
So, we looked around for one that would be slightly wider with a nice space for placing the soap bottle. 
This one seems to fit our requirements.
From there we checked out the faucets.
We knew that brushed nickel, oil rubbed bronze and chrome were out for us.  While there were a few shiny brass options, we wanted something different.  We're leaning toward a "champagne brass" finish.  Still brassy, but not bright and shiny.

The selection of light fixtures in this shop was amazing.
It's been a long time since I've shopped for any and they have changed a lot since then.
The chandelier above took my breath away.
I'm not sure I've ever seen one that I loved more.
I've always though a pretty chandelier over the bathtub would be delightful.
Just for the heck of it I checked out the price tag.
At nearly $2200 I'll content myself with a photo.

For now I'll just be happy to get that sink and faucet crossed off the list.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Backyard Visitors

Brett & I were sitting in the family room chatting before dinner yesterday when, out of the corner of my eye, I sensed something moving in the backyard. 

Turning to get a better view I was surprised to see two visitors.
Oh, dear deer!
It's not often that we've seen them this close to the house.
Naturally, I grabbed the camera and started snapping.
We thought they might take off if they saw us.
Ha, Ha!  Quite the opposite.  They seemed in no hurry to leave.
So, we just kept watching and snapping.

I started getting antsy when they sauntered over to the spring flowers.  I know they aren't interested in daffodils, but I wasn't sure about hyacinths.  All seemed to be going well until they started nibbling on the dogwood tree.  The dogwood tree that will soon be putting on it's beautiful show.
Time to make our presence known.
So, we did.
And off they went.

The End.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Late Winter Gardening

I'm not going to question the reasons for our unusually mild winter weather.  Instead, I'm enjoying the opportunity it has provided for earlier than normal spring gardening.

The daffodils have been blooming for a few weeks now with hyacinths following right behind. 
While down at their level this afternoon, I was rewarded with a whiff of their sweet scent.  Indoors it can be a bit heavy, but coupled with the fresh outdoor air, it was the smell of springtime.  In my book that is a most lovely smell.

At this time of year I like to see those little pops of color here and there.  Today I saw a pop through the brown, barren trees and went to explore.  The saucer magnolia tree that I bought several years ago as a tiny little plant is finally beginning to take off and has rewarded me with pretty pink blooms.  The leaves will follow much like the redbuds do.

Stepping away from the saucer magnolia I was careful not to trample the petite "Tete-a-Tete" daffodils growing below.  Their diminutive size makes them hard to notice from afar.

The next plan of action was to prune and fertilize the rose bushes.
While crawling on the ground looking for dead shoots to snip off, our lack of moisture became apparent in the dry, cracked soil surrounding them.   Along with our mild temperatures has come a lack of rain.  Although it has been cloudy all day, there's no rain in the forecast.
Oh how I wish that it would rain.  It would be just what's needed to get that fertilizer down into the root system.
On the positive side rain is a possibility for later in the week.
I'll be keeping my fingers crossed.

Removing the dead leaves from the pansy patch put the focus on the beautiful flowers and just generally freshened things up.

To keep them happy a little food was in order.
I love the Plant-tone fertilizer.
Easy to apply and organic.
My gardening cupboard currently houses Rose-tone, Plant-tone, Holly-tone and one other "tone" which I use on the veggies.  Maybe it's Veggie-tone.  Not sure and too comfy to get up and check.  But, you get the idea I'm sure.
A couple weeks ago I went around the yard sprinkling the Holly-tone around acid loving plants like my hydrangeas, hollies and blueberry bushes.

Since the pansy patch is near the hose I gave them a nice drink of water, then used that broom to tidy up the edge of the sidewalk.
One last thing before I call it a day ...

A little bouquet for the table and...

A big basket of kale.
Last fall's kale is still going strong.
Some for tonight's soup and the rest will be used for a new idea I saw on YouTube.  If it works out I'll let you know.

Off to tend that soup now.


Thursday, January 19, 2017

A Healthy Week in the Kitchen

Nibbling on all of those wonderful Christmas treats was fun while it lasted.
Clearly it was time to reign in the sugar consumption and get back on track with healthy eating habits.
So, I recently gathered all of the magazines that had been piling up around here and pulled out the ones focusing on healthy eating.  My personal favorite being Cooking Light.
I selected a collection of recipes that appealed to me and then spent the past week trying them out.
Something to satisfy my sweet tooth in a healthier way seemed a good place to start.
A "dessert with benefits" sounded like just the thing.

I've been seeing recipes similar to this for awhile and been curious to see if they really could satisfy my chocolate cravings.
They went together quickly.  Apparently hazelnuts are hard to come by in my area so I skipped them altogether and, instead, rolled them in chopped toasted pecans.  Pecans are everywhere here and I do love them.

I've got them stored in the refrigerator and pop one out when those chocolate cravings hit, often around 3:00 in the afternoon.

This whole grain quick bread caught my eye.
Could it really be possible to have a slice of bread like the one in the photo without any yeast or rising times involved?
My mouth was watering for toast in the morning, so I got busy on this one.

It also went together quickly.
Before going into the oven it was looking good all covered in pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds.  A little flaxseed too.

Nicely risen after baking.
We've been enjoying it all week for our morning toast and to accompany soups and salads for lunch and dinner.
Will definitely be making this one again.

In case you are interested, here's the recipe.

A lightened up version of the classic meatloaf dinner.
Comfort food in a healthier package.
The magazine recipe was for a whole grain meat loaf, but I used my long standing favorite turkey loaf recipe.  I did, however, make the Quick Creamy Potatoes and Roasted Brussel Sprouts to go with it.  Yum, Yum and Yum!!!
This meal was delicious.  Those potatoes with the cauliflower and garlic were so creamy and smooth.  In the past I have tried the "faux tatoes" made with just cauliflower mashed up to imitate mashed potatoes.  The texture just wasn't right and they tasted to me like what they were (mashed up cauliflower).  This recipe was that wonderful mashed potato consistency and that subtle hint of garlic made them so flavorful.
Brussel sprouts are something I've never really made much.
Growing up I remember them being boiled and mushy.  Yuck!
Roasting them with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper is like eating an entirely different vegetable and one that I will gladly eat over and over again.

For me the new year is like a clean slate.
A good time to re-up the efforts on the things that are important in one's life. 
So far I'm focusing on:
healthy eating
mindful exercise
more reading time
learning new things
trying more of the recipes I think someday I'll try.

Off to a good start so far.

How is your new year progressing?
Have you tried any new recipes or read any good books?