Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Dish it out

Dishes to me are simply that. Dishes. Or so I thought, until I spotted this amazing dinner plate with handles at the Dollar store. I grabbed all of them, because at this point it wasn't about want or need it was about BARGAINS and bargains surpass all the rules in my book. 13 dinner plates have never been so admired by a person, and I lovingly divided them out. Six were given away for an event I was helping with and the other seven were for...Me! Of course I wanted one more to complete my table setting of eight, but four locations later I was walking out empty handed from each one. Sad but true, perhaps you can find them near you!

With one dollar plates I allowed myself to splurge. Just a week later, I bought these cake stands from Costco. It is my very first set and I am pretty excited to add them to my kitchen collection. Using them as a centerpiece was another way for me to display a tiny tea set and the 'Tea Forte' teas. Tea forte, is known for their pyramid shaped boxes and unique combination of flavors. Check them out http://www.teaforte.com/. I order my favorite loose leaf teas online but in the meantime keep my eyes open at discount places for 'out of season' flavors. I found a box of Pomegranate Blackberry iced tea at TJ Max for pennies. The best part is, that the boxes open from the bottom so as you use up the tea, you could also fill the boxes with dried lavender to keep on the table.

Brew up, hope.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Catch Up!

So it finally hit me. I was sick and I wasn't taking it well. First I took too many vitamins to boost the immune and then I walked around the house refusing to rest. I was in this groove of being frustrated and exhausted when I cut myself making a salad. As I sat in urgent care I realized how much it took for me to stop. A glued up finger and a bill in my hand I somehow reached my "aha!" moment.

I needed to stop and so I did, until today. Yay. I am back on my feet. I bought a couple new pillows (Liberty from Target is awesome!), caught up on a billion loads of laundry and started working on my new job of what I like to call "encouraging-my-husband". First day in, I worked on his business website, spent a little play time with the kids, cleaned the house and had enough time to throw together a chili.

I know it sounds like a bunch of stuff but I have been collecting energy for a week now, besides the best chili is the one our friends "The Roaches" make and I can't compete. With that said, "Bear Creek's" Darn-good chili works for me. I like to put my own veggies and meat in it with a can of diced tomatoes, its a hassle-free chili that is ready in half an hour.

The days are good again. Brighter even in a gloomy day like today.

Back on schedule, ladies. Hope, hope, hope, hope, hope :)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Pantry Procrastination

I have been putting my pantry off for a while but when I found these plastic lids to the cans that I already had it seemed like the perfect opportunity to finally do something about it.

The first thing I did was give all the items in my pantry a category.

- Baking, Except for flours which I store in a separate drawer for easy reach.
- Grains, I have about 15 different kinds that I use for cooking.
- Canned goods, and this includes every type.
- Snacks for kids
- Sweet Treats for the Adults
- Boxed things that don't fall into the previous categories.
- Packages that don't stand up need to be put in square baskets.

Next, I organized all the neat things like boxes and then the packaged things, which mostly contained snacks that had to be put in plastic baskets. I determined the best places for them and put them on shelves based on use. I did the canned things and bottled things. I had a lot, and the cans worked well in the pantry but things like spices, oils and vinegars did better in a cabinet. I also had a bunch of sweet, sugary stuff that did better in a basket and further away from the children.

Now comes the reason for this post, filling those jars. Before I could never remember what I had in comparison to what I didn't. Bags that were taped and placed on top of the other was not an organization method I could work with so this was an improvement and now I know why.
I had.....

- brown and red lentils
- white and brown rice
- white and red beans
- corn meal
- Bulgar wheat
- Corn meal, or polenta
- oats and cream of wheat
- whole wheat and white spaghetti
- linguine and other dry pastas
- Chow Mien noodles
- Pearl Barley

....in the grains and wheat section.

I had.....

- white, dark, milk and semi-sweet chocolate chips.
- Almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, peanuts and sunflower seeds
- raisins, cranberries and currants
- dark and light brown, white and powdered sugars
- cornstarch and baking powder
- cocoa powder
- unsweetened and sweetened coconut
- rapid and active yeast

....in the baking section.

Well that does it, and as I expand my methods in the kitchen I am sure my pantry will continue to grow. What I have found is that I am able to look inside and see what areas need to be filled when I prepare my grocery list for the week.

This was simply my side of my kitchen so thank you for letting me share. If this sounds like something you want to do in your pantry I bought the lids at Fred Meyers and they were under four dollars for a box of 8.

Organizing, hope.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Growing a Sewing Seed

I have been dreaming about a craft room for a few years now but only recently did I finally find a place for my sewing machine. It was interesting to find that walking by it several times a day, ideas would come. Everything seemed like it needed to be altered, adjusted and fixed. Recalling a fabric sample I purchased years ago, I couldn't help but play around with it.

Later, when I watched her twirl about I realized that I potentially planted my very own seed for sewing, just by making some room on a counter. This was also the very first "wearable" thing I have ever made and taking just an hour to make, I was excited to hopefully be able to add a whole new collection of these spring skirts to my little girl's closet.

Placed, hope.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Pome-quat Salmon Salad

About a month ago we went to "The Fish Grotto" in Portland for dinner. It was a restaurant that had a better impression in the inside then on the outside. It was very dark inside, with leather upholstery and rich finishes on the wood and I was skeptical at first. Darkness bothers me, to me it feels unsanitary in a hidden kind of way but looking around I noticed that even though the place was old it was very clean as well as updated. Using modern lighting they somehow managed to make the atmosphere seem light and easy. Looking at the menu it offered the usual classic dishes and I searched for something new. Its not always that I know exactly what I want, but this happened to be a day where I did. I wanted sweetness to be set apart with tartness, crisp to contrast against the smooth finish, and fruity to be savory.

This was not traditional by any means and I asked the waiter if they had any specials. As it turned out they did. With the restaurant being so old they kept the classic menu as well as hire on a chef that could create a "specials" menu every week using seasonal ingredients. I was thrilled to eat a salad that kept me interested enough to not only attempt to make at home but crave it again and again.

Here is my version, it doesn't do it justice but I still love it.

Kumquat and Pomegranate Salmon Salad

1/2 cup of Kumquats
1/2 cup of Pomegranate Seeds
(Trader Joes has Frozen ones)
1/2 cup green onion
1/2 Bunch Green leaf lettuce

Salmon, salted and fried.

Orange Muscat Champagne Vinaigrette

1/4 cup Muscot Orange Champane Vinegar
(Get it at Trader Joes)
1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Little bit of honey
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Make the salad by chopping the greens, halving the Kumquats and shredding the salmon. Add the pomegranate seeds and make the vinaigrette. Since it is a small batch I use a medium measuring cup and whisk. Add the honey, vinegar and a pinch of salt as well as pepper. Begin to whisk the ingredients as you add the oil in a steady stream until incorporated. Taste the flavor because I don't measure the amount of oil so you might need to adjust it a little to suit your preference.

Seasonal, Hope

Monday, March 1, 2010

Blue Jeans

Today I felt inspired by an old pair of jeans. Besides needing an alteration I used the bottom edge to create this adorable accessory for my "American Girl". Taking about 10 minutes out of my day we had enough time to go play at a park.

It can be used as a belt, head band or anything else you can tie it up to. I did find that the jean material is heavy so keep that in mind. All in all, I love the look and I am excited to hem up another pair of jeans, just to see what else it can do.

To create this, simply cut the bottom edge off the length of the pants. Cut on one of the seams to break open the circle and starting from one end roll it up. Use a glue gun to glue as you roll. Attach the flowers together and pick a ribbon, elastic or headband to attach them to. To finish, cut out some felt for the backing and attach.

The fun part is that the more distressed it is, the better. So find that old pair of jeans your daughter doesn't fit into any more and make them into something she can.

Blue Jean, hope.