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. 🙂

———-

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?

Advertisements

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?

———-

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!

zucchini parmesan crisps

We’ve got three favorite vegetable sides at this house. An Ellie Krieger trifecta, if you will. I already showed you the Cucumber Salad which is great but today I’ve got my most favorite veggie side EVER to show you. This was my go-to dish during Al’s deployment last year. I ate it once a week (or more) for six months and I’m not tired of it. I regularly get tired of food so the fact that I can still scarf it is amazing.

Okay, enough hype. The recipe is called Zucchini Parmesan Crisps and it’s another super simple yet delicious creation.

I started off with yellow zucchini which I didn’t know existed until we picked up our CSA box last week.

Every time I ate a piece I kept expecting it to taste like yellow squash because of the color! It’s so fun to be surprised by what we get each week.

The ‘breading’ is easy. Nowadays I just eyeball the measurements. I can’t remember how to cook any other recipes that I make except for this one. Must’ve been that frequency during the deployment.

You start with the bread crumbs. I used store-bought stuff this time but you can easily make your own. Whole wheat would be a good idea.

I use this shredded parmesan for the recipe but grating the cheese (like Ellie suggests) would be a lot better. The kind I use doesn’t stick to the zucchini as well but it’s still just as tasty!

Add the salt and pepper then stir.

Coat each an every inch of the olive oiled zucchini and then bake them for a while.

They come out crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside like a perfectly bake chocolate chip cookie… but totally not. 🙂

Do you see that crunchy bottom of the crisps on the spatula? That, my friend, is money. I’m getting hungry just looking at these pictures even though I’ve already eaten.

Please tell me you’ll make these soon! Your taste buds will thank me.

What’s your favorite vegetable side dish? Do you have an oldie but goodie?

P.S. Look out for our final favorite next week!

crisp, clean fireplace

Paint is the bomb. It has taken our den from night to day. It feels more inviting, cozy, and MUCH brighter.

Let’s go back to the beginning for a nice, dramatic before and after.

Here’s what the fireplace and den looked like before the sellers moved out and we moved in.

The first thing I did to update the space was spray paint the fireplace cover to get rid of the gold.

Then we painted the paneling a green which gave the room a big boost of light.

Our most recent step was to paint the massive brick wall.

We started off by vacuuming the brick to remove any dirt and dust. Then we primed it with two coats of Multi Purpose Latex Primer from Valspar. Followed by two coats of eggshell white latex paint. Al also used caulking to fill in the many gaps and holes between the brick, paneling, and trim.

Oh and after we realized the soot around the edge of the fireplace was bleeding through, we painted over those spots with some Valspar High Hiding Primer.

Then the fireplace was complete!

So pretty.

This final step took a while – three weeks. Mostly because after the first weekend I didn’t feel like painting anymore and moved on to other projects so Al finished it up for us me. So when I mention ‘we’ throughout this post I really mean just Al. 🙂

I have proof that I did other stuff though! You’ll see it all in the next week or so.

P.S. I know I have the same exact mirror on the other fireplace right now. I just love them! Last year I found the pair at Marshalls for $12 each then spray painted them yellow.

This little piggy bank is the cutest. The bright colors are awesome. I hope to bring some of them up onto the mantel to balance it out.

Now all we have to do in this room is paint the door (I’m thinking a fun color) AND put down bamboo flooring. <- only the biggest job we will attempt yet.

Sheesh. This reno stuff is tiring but now that we see some major progress we’re feeling the motivation. Al is super proud of his fancy white fireplace and I am too!

Did you enter the giveaway yet? You should!

SlimKicker & a giveaway

A while back I wrote about my bad habit of eating candy.  I said I would stop cold turkey.  A couple weeks later I talked about making healthy decisions and how I was going to give myself a little pat on the back for choosing the healthy route.

Well the healthy choices are going really well and so is my acknowledgement of them but the candy? I might need a little more help with that.

Someone out there in the universe knew this because I recently got an email from Sue over at SlimKicker!

SlimKicker is a calorie counter and game that helps motivate you to stay healthy. It turns your diet and fitness goals into a level-up game with points, rewards and challenges.  You level up by tracking healthy calories and exercises, and completing challenges such as quitting soda for a week.  They also have healthy recipe suggestions on their recipe section and on Pinterest.

I’m not one to count calories because it just didn’t work for me and I already track my marathon training but you know I LOVE a good game! I signed up with SlimKicker and started my own 7 day ‘No Eating Candy’ challenge. After the first week I hope to restart the challenge with two weeks, three weeks and then up to a month.  After over two months of challenges (added up) and daily check-ins to the app, I should have a new healthy habit on my hands and lots of points under my belt.

I just think this is such a great idea.  Everyone loves a good game and we all have little habits that we might want to improve!

Now you get to participate!

I’ve teamed up with SlimKicker to give you a change to win this snazzy Slow Cooker.  You could make so many healthy recipes in this baby!

To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment with a fun, creative fitness or diet challenge. One or two sentences is fine. SlimKicker will then pick their favorite and I’ll announce the winner in about a week!

Good luck and have a great weekend!

———-

Please note, this giveaway is limited to only readers in the USA.

shyness

No recipe today! If you were hoping for one, I apologize. I’ve got some random thoughts instead. I hope you don’t mind!

———-

I’ve read a couple times now on a blog that the writer thinks shyness is useless and ridiculous. This got me a little heated and made me think about my own situation.

I wrote a post about my personality type a while back. The first characteristic was ‘introvert’. I didn’t choose to be one but I actually like the way I am. Thank you very much!

That was the only rant, don’t worry.

Now I’m not a mute without friends or something but I do have trouble in social situations with new people, get sweaty palms like my Dad, and according to the Starbucks near our house, I (and my husband) speak too quietly because they almost always get our order wrong! I even speak up on purpose when we’re out because I know people will have trouble hearing me. Ha.

This past week a couple thoughts have been running through my mind on the subject. I can’t seem to get a cohesive post together but my fingers want to keep typing so here are my tidbits:

  • When I was younger, I had a much more difficult time with this stuff but nowadays I’m used to it. I know how I’ll react to any social situation. I attempt counteract my shyness and break out of my shell quicker. Living more in the present and being aware, I’d say.
  • During my main ‘growing up’ years I lived in Puerto Rico. When you greeted a friend or even met someone for the first time, you often air-kissed them on the cheek. I personally found that this helped break the ice -> ‘Well I’ve already kissed you on the cheek, let’s be best friends!’. It worked pretty well for me! I moved back to Florida three years later and someone attempted to shake my hand. What in the? No friendly kiss? I gave them a floppy, wimpy hand. I don’t even think I shook it! I was lost in my own country’s customs. After my technique was made fun of by some random lady, I finally got my act together and shook with confidence. My Puerto Rican brain still thinks shaking hands = awkward. This doesn’t help in social situations!
  • Blogging is awesome because I don’t have to be shy!! Well I was nervous about writing this post but what the hay. You’re still reading it so that’s good!
  • I’ve read somewhere that many writers are introverts. They often hate the book signings because they have to interact with people. Pretty interesting.
  • I’m part Norwegian, introversion is in my blood. ‘At first, you may think they are acting as if they have no more room for  for friendship, but once they feel comfortable with you (and often this happens quickly), you will get to know them better and strong ties of friendship will develop.’ (source) So pretty much, I may appear lifeless at first when someone meets me but that’s because I’m shy and not because I’m a cold, hard… well, ya know. 😉

Does anyone else out there have similar traits or even just thoughts on the subject? I don’t read about this issue online much so I thought it’d be interesting to see what comes of it.