green bean salad

I am committed to the blog and specifically my lovely readers. You want proof?

This is my current view.

Our power is out due to a crazy storm yesterday afternoon. Just a couple weeks ago I had mentioned to someone that I had never seen hail. Well I have now and it was terrifying! Especially in a little car with 50 mph winds.

Anyways, one of the Vets at my work offered to lend me her generator so Al picked it up after work. I’m using it to just keep the fridge cold… and to blog. 🙂

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Today I have the final veggie side of our favorite Ellie Krieger trifecta (you can find the other two dishes here and here). This last one is a Green Bean Salad. It’s not any old salad though, it’s a tasty combination of crunch and tang.

I started off with yet another normally green but yellow veggie from the farmer’s market. These green beans might look like they had been sitting in my fridge for two months but they were fresh, I promise!

To speed up the already short cooking/prepping time, I steamed my green beans in the microwave. I put them in a bowl with a lid and a tablespoon of water, then microwaved them for 5 minutes. They always come out perfectly cooked – crispy not mushy.

After that, I had the dish done in a little over five minutes.

I prepped the onions and walnuts. The walnuts get toasted <- this is my favorite part. It really brings out the flavor of the nut. Then mixed up the mustard dressing which got poured over the beans, onions, and walnuts. Added a little parsley and I was done.

The side is meant to be cold, hence the word ‘salad’ in the title but we often eat it as soon as it’s complete so everything is still warm. We like it either way though!

This would make a great BBQ dish to bring to a summer party. But I’d suggest using green green beans to make the dish look a little more appetizing!

A super faster recipe with tons of flavor and crunch. What more could you want?! Mmm mmm good.

What dish to you like to take to parties?

sprucing up photography prints

When you’re a fine arts major, you accumulate a LOT of your own artwork.

Until I buy someone else’s awesome art (which I want to do), I have to decorate the house with my own.

It’s been a few years now since I graduated from undergrad so I’m getting tired of the looking at the same old stuff.

Enter: new prints from grad school, scrapbooking paper, and spray paint.

These cheap, black frames have held the same textured prints from a gallery exhibition during my junior year of college. Let’s think -> that was SIX years ago. Time for an update.

I wanted these frames to live above the couch in the den so I bought muted pink paper to tie in with the rug and brownish spray paint to connect with the dark wood furniture.

To paint the frames, all I did was wipe them down and then give them two quick coats. The change in the frame color is subtle but it’s now a dark shimmery brown instead of matte black. It’s easier to see in person!

After about an hour I brought them back inside to figure out my plan of attack.

I bought the paper to be used as new matting for the prints.

After playing around with a couple choices I realized that the pink didn’t work when bordering the photos because prints were too dark. I needed to keep some white in between the two for contrast.

As you can see in the photos above, the image pops a lot more when the white is bordering.

I wanted about an inch border of white around the photo so I measured out my pink paper to leave that amount.

You know that saying ‘measure twice, cut once’? Yeah, here’s proof that you’ve got to do that. I had so many lines going on that I had to add arrows to remind myself of which were the correct ones to cut!

The pink paper wasn’t big enough to just cut to size and cut a whole out so I opted to use four pieces for the matting. I knew I wouldn’t mind the edges showing because it’d just add more interest/texture to the piece which I love.

I eyeballed most of my lines when cutting but If you aren’t a scissor lover, I would suggest heading over to Kinkos where you can use their paper cutter. It’d be a breeze!

Those zigzag pieces are my spacers. Unlike regular matting which is quite thick, my paper is really thin so if I were to place the photo directly on top of it, the image would be smashed up against the glass. Adding in the handmade spacers doesn’t give as much breathing room as the store-bought kind but hey, it’s cheaper!

Everything is held in place using double-sided tape by the way.

See? Nice contrast. Dark (frame) – Medium (pink paper) – Light (white matting) – Dark (print).

All the frames are spaced 2 inches apart. And I read at a couple places that you’re supposed to hang stuff 8-12 inches from the top of the couch. I went with 10 inches.

Now after all is said and done, I’m thinking the super dark prints might be too harsh for this airy room but until I find something a little more ‘fun’, it works! I also might change out some of the pink matting for tan or something. My brain never stops with the ideas, sheesh.

Don’t get me wrong, at 40 cents a piece of paper and one can of spray paint, I love the results!

Adding art and other final touches to the room is really making it feel more finished. SO FUN.

What do you think? What quick updates have you done to your house?

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P.S. This post is super late today because this little lady doesn’t feel well at all. I’ve been at the vet a couple times to check up on her. Cross your fingers for her please!!

garden upgrade

It’s been about a month since my last garden update. I’m learning as I go so in the past month I’ve made some upgrades and conclusions about my two growing spaces. For any newbie gardeners out there, I thought you might enjoy some tips!

Vegetables like consistency in watering. They like the soil to stay moist all of the time.

The the first week or so that I planted my outdoor garden, I found it difficult to regulate how much water they needed and when. I had trouble with over watering in my greenhouse and was scared I’d hurt these new plants too.

As luck would have it, I ran into a display at Lowe’s for a drip system that looked perfect for my problem. It has a timer that I’ve set to 15 minutes in the morning and 15 at night. Lately during these super hot days, I’ve also turned it on at lunch time to combat the major wilting.

The good thing is that the little drippers are direct (as you can see in the photo above) so you know the plant is getting the water. This is unlike watering with a hose where the plant is getting some water but the weeds around it are also getting a ton! I had a LOT of weeds before I put the system in.

The next thing I realized that I needed were some tomato cages. The bamboo pools weren’t tall or strong enough to hold up my flourishing plants. A couple times I came home to a plant bent over a touching the ground. I was like an ER doctor in a life-threatening situation in the way that I moved to jury-rig a taller pole! I saved them both times, thank goodness.

After that, I got the cages and carefully inserted them into the ground. Once the tomatoes start growing I’ll be able to rest the limbs on the levels of the cage so we don’t have anymore close calls.

My biggest plant which happens to be one of the guys that fell over, needed some more stem support so I used twist ties to help it stand a little better. I’ll readjust the ties as the plant keeps growing.

Roary was being a good girl that day so she got to hang out with me outside the fenced-in backyard. This normally doesn’t happen because if a squirrel or a scent is near by she can’t help but bolt. She decided that it was way too hot to stay next to me so she found the only shaded spot and plopped down in the sea of ivy. She’s a prissy lady who doesn’t even like to put her bare bottom on tile floor (only carpet), so this was really funny to us. 🙂 So hardcore like her hound dog sister nowadays.

The last upgrade I did was cover the drip system and surrounding soil in mulch.

I’ve heard that this will help keep the moisture in as well stop the weeds from growing. I don’t know about that though, those weeks are ruthless!

Oh! You can see in the photo about how I rigged up the taller poles, ha.

This is a picture of one of the very, very tall tomato plants in the greenhouse. The LED light has helped their growth but I think it came along a little too late. Because they spent most of their growth searching for the sun, they’ve grown too tall and thin. They are flowering but even the biggest tomato cages are too short for them.

Recently, a landscaper confirmed that we have to take a couple dying trees down in our backyard so I might try again next year with the greenhouse or expand my outdoor garden. For now, I’m going to try my best to keep the greenhouse plants going and see what happens.

My conclusion is that the outdoors plants are doing much better! I was afraid that they wouldn’t get enough sun but obviously they’re doing better than the ones indoors.

Gardening is so fun!

How’s your garden growing? Do you have a link to any photos? I’d love to see!