Friday, May 4, 2018

Friday's Favs

Here is a quick rundown of some of my favorite things from this week,and one not so favorite.

    We finally have warm weather! My son Timmy planted a bunch of heirloom tomato seeds this winter and we were both excited to transfer them into our garden. Hopefully, Mother Nature will not send any more cold weather this way.
 
This girl is loving the warmer days, She is spending a lot of time playing outside. We love our sweet pup.
My daffodils are also making me smile this week. They won't last long, but are so pretty right now. I'm also loving the flowers on the new tropical hibiscus tree I received earlier in the week.

My son Mikey (who has autism and is non verbal) loves to walk around our local park. The park is quite beautiful ,particularly in the springtime. He tends to wind up near this tree often which is actually a very special tree,one which is dedicated to a family friend who passed far too soon. It's interesting how he makes his way over there and stops for a bit. My husband snapped this picture of him on their last walk. If you'd like to learn more about our journey with autism, visit my other blog www.hopeformyboy.com  Haven't written in a while, but have shared quite a bit on there and hope to get back to it soon.
   
As the summer approaches,I like to stock up on containers that I can cart to and from the beach,parties,etc. I love this set of 8 Lock and Lock storage containers. They come in a variety of colors, and they nest inside each other which makes storage a bit easier.I purchased mine from QVC.
 
Many people have asked about these jars in my kitchen. The are over sized Ball mason jars. I use them to store pasta and other pantry items. They sell them at Michael's, but I think they may be cheaper at Target. Naturally, you can find them on Amazon as well. During the summer, I like to keep  pantry items such as pasta,flour,sugar,rice,etc. in airtight containers,and these are large enough to store a couple of boxes of pasta and attractive as well. Win-win.
 
There is something this week that is not making me happy.On Easter Sunday, our longtime neighbor passed away. She was 91 and she had no relatives at all. As I watch her house being emptied in preparation for sale, I can't help but think how sad it is to see a person's entire life placed in a dumpster. She grew up in the same house, so really, it is two generations of things being tossed out. While I realize that they are only things, it still breaks my heart. I also am bothered by people who suddenly are interested in looking inside her home,wanting to find partners to invest with,etc, especially when these same folks had no interest in this person while she was alive. Perhaps if they had shown a bit of compassion or interest while she was alive,they would have had a chance to know the person and her story rather than scrambling to acquire her home after the fact. That said, I know hers was a life well lived,so I will continue to focus on that.
   
Be kind to your neighbors, try to help those who need it, and don't forget the elderly..more often than not they need some help but are too proud to ask. Pay attention and help where you can.

Have a nice weekend.

 

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

How to Grow Garlic

Growing garlic may seem a bit intimidating, but it really is a very easy process. I started growing my own a few years ago and now it is one of my favorites in the garden. It requires minimal effort,doesn't attract pests and tastes delicious. There are many varieties of garlic and two basic types, softneck and hardneck. The big difference being the appearance inside. Hardneck have a flowering stem that grows through the center of the bulb, this is the scape,which is another edible prize from the garden. Hardneck also does well in areas that have rough winters. Softneck bulbs are usually larger and produce more cloves. I don't really have  preference,so whichever you choose is completely up to you. Garlic is typically planted in late fall,early winter and can survive through the winter and be ready to harvest in early spring,however, I also plant in late winter,as soon as the ground thaws,so I can have bulbs by summer or early fall.. That said, overwintering the bulbs does give you larger,tastier garlic. Garlic can vary as far as when it is ready to be harvested, but typically it takes between 6-9 months.
 
I order my garlic from Burpee, but you can find it online from many different nurseries and seed purveyors.You can also buy garlic from a local farmer's market and use that to plant, but I don't suggest using what you buy at the supermarket. One never knows what it is treated with and that is always a concern for me.
   I always start off with organic soil. I have raised beds in my garden, but you can  grow garlic in pots or vegetable bags. Fill your container with the soil,then pull apart the head of garlic.
   Gently push each clove of garlic into the soil,pointed side up. This is the end that sprouts, and may already have some green peeking through when you receive it.
 
Once you have lined up the cloves, gently push them completely below the surface of the soil and cover with a little more soil. I usually space them about 6-8 inches apart. You really only need to allow for the size of a typical head of garlic.That is it! You can see the cloves right next to garlic I am already growing in the above picture.
    Once planted,the garlic really does not require too much care. Water and sunlight are the two important factors. Garlic also is a heavy feeder and likes fertilizer, but honestly, I don't always fertilize them. When I do, I use an organic vegetable fertilizer like Jobes in early spring,once the greens are sprouting and again in May, but not after that.After the bulbs in the ground start to get big, I lay off the fertilizer.I water once or twice a week,depending on local rainfall. Before you know it, the garlic looks like this...
   
If you plant the hard neck garlic, you get an added bonus...scapes!! These curly tops of the garlic can be cut off prior to harvesting the bulbs and used in recipes as you would use onion or garlic. A little goes a long way, but they add a delicious flavor to many dishes. You may see them at your local farmstands in spring and summer. Why buy them when you can grow them?
   
Once your garlic has grown quite tall and you notice the greens start to brown or wilt, it may be time for you to harvest. The beauty of growing garlic is that you can always use your finger to dig a little trench around the head in the ground to check its size. If you like what you see, then gently loosen the soil around the bulb and ease the garlic out of the ground.
 
Garlic needs to "cure" for about two to three weeks to make is shelf stable, so after I pull them up,I do not wipe off the dirt ,rather I give them a good shake and hang them in my garage. Once they have cured and the skin is paper like,I dust of any residual dirt ,trim the roots and bring them in to store and cook with. It never lasts long in our house because we use garlic all the time.
   This is a great little science project for you and your children. They delight in seeing their plants grow and eventually use them for meals. It teaches them patience,gardening skills, science skills, and to be self-sufficient.
Try planting some garlic this year..now is the time! Have fun and if you do plant,please share your pictures with me!

Friday, April 27, 2018

Friday's Favs


This week went by quickly and I am happy to report that we are finally getting some warmer weather! Forgive me if most of my favorite things this week have to do with flowers and gardening, but it has been a very long winter and the sight of anything green, or even dirt for that matter, makes me smile!

My son Timmy loves to help me in the garden . We planted 56 cloves of garlic a few weeks ago and they are growing like crazy. Naturally, this is a sign that spring is finally here. If all goes well, these will turn into 56 heads of garlic, which we will cure and store. I will update you as we grow.
 
 
I  received a new tropical hibiscus tree which is gorgeous! I will be purchasing a new planter for it and repotting it this weekend. We spend our summers down at the beach and  plan to keep this tree there. Look at the color of the flower! It doesn't even look real, but I assure you,it is. Simply beautiful.

 
Yesterday I took a quick trip to Target for a few things, and naturally came home with more than a few things! I found this tray in the dollar section for $5. It isn't as strong as galvanized trays,but it is pretty and
looks great with the gorgeous apricot daffodils from my garden.


I picked these tulips up at Trader Joe's this week and have to say they really were stunning. I buy flowers there from time to time, but these really stood out. They were wrapped in brown paper and a friend tells me that they are from Virginia. Hope that helps a bit if you are looking for some at your local store. There were 20 blooms in this bouquet.
 
Chocolate pudding pie is one of my favorites.  I posted a quick,easy recipe for this one a few days ago. Anything with chocolate makes me happy and I'd be lying if I said I didn't have a slice or two for breakfast this week. Bad, I know, but oh so good. This is a great recipe when you want something sweet without baking.
 
 
One of my favorite things about this week was making these adorable cat cookies for an  little girl's 5th birthday. Andrea from Momfessionals, threw a cat themed party for her daughter and when I tell you it was a party every little girl dreams about,I'm not kidding! I made these based on a pattern of gift wrap that she chose as the theme,and shipped them off in time for the celebration! They were so much fun to make and when I saw her daughter's reaction on her instastories,it made me smile. Special moments for sure. If you are a teacher, working mom, mom of little ones or just looking for daily inspiration, check our Andrea's blog. www.momfessionals.com .
   
    This was the gift wrap.

 
These are the cookies I created.

Well, that is all for now. I am off to make some sweets for the local softball team that is currently undefeated! Go girls!! Have a sweet weekend!


Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Gift Ideas for Mother's Day

Mother's Day is just around the corner so I thought I'd share some fun gift ideas. What better way to celebrate the special women in our lives than by supporting some incredible female entrepeneurs? Here is a list of wonderful gift ideas from some very creative ladies.
 
I think we all are familiar with Joanna Gaines. If your mom is a fan, her new cookbook would make a lovely gift. Add a little ribbon and a wooden kitchen utensil and you are all set! If mom is a big fan, a subscription to Magnolia magazine would be a nice gift idea as well.

   While we are talking cookbooks, this lovely lady from Arkansas not only opened her dream gift shop for the home, but also completed her first cookbook last year. Amy Hannon is a little dynamo,out promoting her book, hosting "Cook the Book" classes all while running her beautiful shop Eunamae's. Her book is filled with fun recipes and her message of love through food is inspiring! This book would make a great gift for any mom who loves to cook. If you happen to live near her shop,sign mom up for a class, or just stop in for a visit and pick something special from the wonderful array of housewares she offers. They will wrap it for you to give it that extra special touch! www.eunamaes.com
 
If your mother is like me and has a sweet tooth, then Iva Jean's delicious fudge might be the perfect gift. Her fudge comes in a wide variety of flavors and is a gift sure to please. A great company with a wonderful story. www.ivajeansfudge.com
 
Rosie O'Neill started Sugarfina, an elegant candy company with something for everyone. Choose from a small box of sweet treats to the more elaborate bento boxes or suitcases of goodies. I love their sea salt chocolate covered cashews and caramels, but there is a wide variety to choose from. The presentation is wonderful ,as are the treats inside. They even make rose' gummy roses for wine lovers. www.sugarfina.com
 

What is Mother's Day without flowers? Farmgirl Flowers is another great company with a female at the helm. Christina makes beautiful,unique floral arrangements. They are not only original, but they are wrapped in burlap which makes for a charming,rustic presentation. The prices aren't low, but if they are within your range, this makes a one of a kind gift for mom.

 
I'll be back with a few more gift ideas before the big day! Enjoy your day!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Chocolate Pudding Pie

 
If you know me or have followed my blog for a while, you know I am a person who bakes from scratch. That said, I realize that not everyone has the time or patience to do the same,and many readers have requested a few simpler recipes. I will try my best to throw in a few now and again.This is a quick one that tastes great,is easy to make and loved by everyone.Now that the weather is finally warming up, we are celebrating Communions and graduations, as well as having outdoor parties and BBQs. If you need to make a  dessert to bring along,or just to have at home for friends and family,this is a great choice. This pie is very basic, and the only "from scratch" part of the recipe is the whipped cream. I use a Kitchen Aid mixer,but you can whip the pudding and cream using whatever tools you have for this in your kitchen.

Ingredients:
1 package of Jello Fudge Pudding mix(3.4oz.)
1 Keebler Graham Cracker Crust
2 cups heavy cream
1-1/2 Tbsp. sugar
1-3/4 c. milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla
sprinkles or shaved chocolate for garnish

-In the bowl of your mixer, pour the 1-3/4 c. of milk and add the pudding mix. Whip until the pudding is thick.If you don't mix it well enough, it will not set up and will end up like soup.
-Pour the pudding mixture into the crust,then cover with plastic wrap. Push down lightly on the plastic to ensure that it covers all of the pudding. This will prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

-Place the 2 cups of heavy cream, sugar and 1 tsp. vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Whip until the cream is slightly thick and holds its shape. Do not overbeat or you will have butter!

-Spread a thin layer of the cream on top of the pudding.
-Using a pastry tip( I am using 6B made by Wilton) and a pastry bag(ziplocs work in a pinch), pipe the whipped cream onto the pie. I usually start along the outside and work my way in.
 These are called tipless pastry bags and can be found on Etsy. Very easy to use. They do not require using a tip at all(hence the name),however,in this instance,I am using a large tip to get the effect I want on the top of the pie. The WIlton tip can be found in craft stores or on Amazon.


-Garnish with sprinkles,chocolate chips, candy or anything else you like. Refrigerate for about 1 hour to set. Keep in mind,this is the way I chose to decorate it. You can decorate however you like,you can even stop after spreading some whipped cream on the top and just garnish it with your favorite topping.
Enjoy!!

Monday, January 29, 2018

Giveaway!

I received a lot of questions and positive feedback this weekend about the alphabet cookies I made for a 1st birthday party. I thought it would be fun to giveaway a set of the alphabet cookie cutters! They are from Sweet Sugarbelle and really are adorable.
 
To enter, head over to Instagram,like our page and leave a comment telling us what your favorite cookie is! It's that simple! Winner will be announced on Friday! Good luck!

I will be back later this week with some more fun things.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Friday's Favs


This year, I am going to add a few new post ideas to the blog. Each Friday I will give you a run down of a few of my favorite things that I am using,eating,making and doing. I am doing this simply to share some things I like with you and am not sponsored by any of the companies whose products I am sharing. I will try to include all the information I can so if it is something that appeals to you then you will be able to find it!

I've found that over the years,raising a family and taking care of a home tends to monopolize most of my time. Last year, I made it a point to take some time for just me and it has been great both physically and mentally. I don't own a scale, so I'm not in any kind of fitness frenzy,but rather I am enjoying feeling fit,healthy and occasionally,well rested. I have incorporated more exercise into my daily routine as well as healthier snacks. Five days a week,after the kids go off to school, I take a long walk with our dog Gigi. I then spend 30 minutes following a yoga program on tv,followed by working out for 10-15 minutes with weights. After, I like to make myself a protein shake. This is the one I am currently using and I love it. I add a little cocoa powder,a heaping spoonful of peanut butter,almond milk and some ice. Occasionally, I will throw in some flax seed as well.
 
I also found this at our local BJs and I love snacking on it. Nuts and chocolate,what's not to love?
It's been a bit rough walking lately because we have had a heck of a cold front, however, on the days when the cold air lets up,I love to get out and walk with my sidekick,Gigi. She is always up for an adventure! We saw this little woodpecker on our walk this morning..not a great shot,but it's there if you look carefully.



My hubby bought me a new pair of kicks for Christmas, and they are the perfect sneaker for exercising and walking. They are Nike Zooms. Technically,they are a running shoe, but I'm not a technical or running type of girl.Ha!
 

I've also found some great products this week. I picked up this  deodorant at Target. I'm always reading about how aluminum in deodorant is bad for you and this one is aluminum free. The smell is nice and more importantly,it works.

I've been in need of a new case for my makeup as well as some new makeup. I picked up this cute little case from PurseN. They are having a sale at the moment,and I think this case was under $20.
I have always been a fan of Clinique,and  love this lip gloss, It is from the Marimekko collection and this color is Bubbly Pop...sounds a bit teenage, but it is a very nice shade.
 



This time of year, I often find myself thinking of spring. With that in mind,I picked up these great produce bags from Crate & Barrel for my trips to the farmer's market. They come in a pack of 5,and are washable as well. Practical and environmentally friendly.Win-win! They were about $11/pack.
 



As many of you already know,I love my garden! Growing my own fruits and veggies is one of my favorite things ,and when I took a look at my lemon tree this week,I could not have been happier! A few tiny lemons that I hope make it to maturity. This particular plant has lemons with a pink flesh. Fingers crossed that they survive..lemon trees can lose a lot of these little lemons easily.
 

Though I was expecting this amaryllis to blossom around Christmas and it did not, I was pleasantly surprised this week. Gorgeous bloom that just makes me smile.

 I am always surprised by the talents of my boys. When my son came home this week with his artwork,I was impressed with his skills. He has created many beautiful works of art for us, and while this is based on Mario Bros., he still did a great job on it! Made me smile.

Well, those are some of my favorite items/things for this week. I hope you have a great weekend! Enjoy!