Thursday, July 26, 2012

There is nothing like a good soak...

This past winter the new bathroom in our addition was complete.  Even though this gorgegous soaking tub was ready to use it remained dry.  We would walk to our new bathroom and admire the open shower, the tub, the copper sink.  But the bathroom for the most part remained unused. 

For my part, I wanted to wait until we were actually moved into our new bedroom.  I was afraid that if I started using the ammenities we would never finish this project. At this begininng of last month we moved into the long awaited new bedroom.  It was an exhasuting, exciting time. But still we barely used the new bathroom, instead we kept using the old bath.  My excuse was that I had not yet moved my toiletries into the new bath and therefore it made sense to stick with the old bath.   My husband was the first brave one, he started taking showers in the open shower, the fact that we don't have blinds on the window did not bother him.  I admit I was a scaredy-cat, I was worried that after all this work and all this time I might not like our new bathroom.  It was easier to not use it and pretend everything would be wonderful.  

But one day I decided to take a bath, I started running water in the hour later my bath was ready.  I then realized a few things;
one - I was going to love this tub
two - if we had to pay for our water by the gallon I would only be able to use the tub once a year.  
three - if we are in a drought there probably will not be enough water in the well to fill the tub

Since that initial soak it has become a guilty pleasure of mine. And since it takes so much water and so long to fill up I figure it would be foolish to take a quick bath, instead, this tub merits a long, long soak. The kind of soak that requires a cup of coffee or tea, or a glass of wine and a good book to read. 

As I told my husband, "this tub eases the pain of the past three years!"

'til next time...

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Reading...Elswyth Thane...

Judging by my blog entries I haven't read a book since March of this year.


I consistently read a book a week so I think I forgot to mention a few.  I cannot tell you what I have read since March,  I could figure out some by looking at my bookshelves and library history but let me just back track to the past month or so.

I had an urge to reread for the umpteenth time the Williamsburg novels by Elswyth Thane.  I have been reading these books for so many years that I cannot tell you how many times I have read them.

There are seven books in the series,
  - Dawn's Early Light, set in the Revolutionary War era 1774-1781
  - Yankee Stranger, set in the Civil War era 1860-1865
  - Ever After, set in 1896-1899
  - The Light Heart, set in 1902-1917
  - Kissing Kin, set in 1917-1934
  - This Was Tomorrow, set in 1934-1938
  - Homing, set in 1938-1941

If you have never read this series it is well worth your time to track them down, the library used to have them, I do not know if they still carry the books.  I have started to collect a second set to pass down to one of my children.  I still hope and pray that they will have the same love for books, especially old books, that I have.

'til next time...

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Italian Rose bean

This year I am trying to grow a few different varieties of vegetables.  One of the beans I am growing is called Italian Rose. 

The Italian Rose bean is a bush bean that typically is a high yielding plant with red and tan colored pods.  This is a beautiful bean to grow, it looks pretty in the garden and on your plate.  

When I first started harvesting the bean I liked the color but wasn't as happy about the texture and taste.  Then I realized that you are really supposed to eat the beans and not the pods.  

This is just another example of why I cannot be called a gardener despite having many garden beds.  


Moving on....
After chewing my way through most of the Italian Rose pods I finally discovered the joy of the Italian Rose bean.....tasty!   I will definitely be planting these again next year.    

In case you are wondering, the pods really aren't bad either they just aren't very tender.  If you pick them early they are delicious eaten as a whole bean but the coloring isn't as pronounced. If you wait till the color is really pretty then that bean is tougher.  So, another gardening lesson learned.

'til next time...

Monday, July 23, 2012

Making basil pesto

Since my basil plants were on the verge of bolting I decided it was time to make basil pesto.   I had just pinned a recipe from Pinterest and was inspired to try it out.   The recipe I used was from the Heather Bullard website, click on the link to see her recipe.

I made the pesto according to her directions and it turned out great. I then made a couple other batches with a few changes as I was running out of ingredients. 

Here are a few of the changes I tried, successfully and non-successfully.

I substituted walnuts for pine nuts and even though it changes the flavor a bit the walnut pesto is still delicious.
I ran out of olive oil and tried substituting grapeseed oil. This definitely changed the taste of the pesto and left it a little bland. The olive oil does add flavor to the pesto.
I found it is important to use a real grated hard cheese, such as Parmesan. My last batch I was running out of "real" Parmesan and substituted a store brand "grated Parmesan" that is a softer cheese.  The texture of the pesto changed and got a little gooey.

'til next time...

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The correct way to wear sunglasses...

My daughter seems to believe that sunglasses are designed to be worn on the top of the head instead of covering the eyes.  
In vain I have tried to correct this misperception.  
Recently it was called to my attention that there may be a legitimate reason for her confusion.  
The following pictures of me were taken over the space of a weekend. 

Well, that explains that. 

'til next time...

Friday, July 20, 2012

Butterflies and zinnias...

This year we have had so many more butterflies around our house.  I'm not sure if it is because of the flowers that we have or the mild winter but whatever the reason we are enjoying them!   The butterflies are very fond of the zinnias, here are some of my favorite pictures. 

butterfly on zinnia

butterfly on giant yellow zinnia

butterfly on Queen Red Lime zinnia

butterfly on candy cane zinnia

butterfly on candy cane zinnia

'til next time...

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Father's Day Car Show - Warrenton, VA

Last month on Father's Day we went to the car show in downtown Warrenton.  The show had a couple hundred cars, the entire downtown area was lined with collector cars. 

My husband owned a car just like this one.  Well, it was just like this one before he totaled it.

I think this should be our next family vehicle...

My daughter picked out this car as her favorite and wanted her picture with it.  I think it would be perfect for those mother-daughter trips to the salon.

We have a matchbox car that looks remarkably like this car.

Despite the look on his face he did request his picture to be taken.

She found another "favorite"....she can't resist a purple car.

I was smitten with this would seem we will never be just a "two-car" family.

'til next time...

Friday, July 13, 2012

Meet our new additions...

No names yet, we are still considering giving them the names of their predecessors but that is yet undecided.  My vote is yes, I think we should call them Pancetta II and Prosciutto II, then all subsequent pigs could be the III, IV, etc.

This is what happens when you pick perfect names the first time.

'til next time...

Thursday, July 12, 2012

3-D TV

Apparently my kids think we have 3-D TV.

Which is odd considering that we have absolutely no television service.  

How many years do you think it will take them to figure this out?   

'til next time...

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Grilled Chicken with peach salsa

For Wythe's 4th birthday party I served grilled chicken with a peach salsa. This is a great dish for these hot summer days, very refreshing.  The chicken can be grilled ahead of time and served cold. In my previous post I included the recipe for coconut rice, the rice made a fantastic side dish to this chicken.

Grilled Chicken with peach salsa
6 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
1 TBSP grapeseed oil
2 TBSP lime juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Combine all ingredients and let marinate 30 minutes. 

Cook chicken on charcoal grill, set aside.

Peach salsa:
3 peaches, peeled and diced
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1/3 cup sweet pepper (red, orange or yellow), diced
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeds and ribs removed, minced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 TBSP fresh mint leaves, chopped (optional)
1 TBSP fresh lemon-lime basil leaves, chopped (optional)
1 TBSP fresh pineapple sage leaves, chopped (optional)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp brown sugar
1 TBSP lime juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Combine all ingredients, let sit at least 30 minutes. Can be made up to 1 day ahead of time and kept refrigerated. 
Spoon salsa over grilled chicken and serve. 
Serves 6. 

Coconut Rice Recipe

For Wythe's 4th birthday party one of the dishes I made was coconut rice.  It is amazingly easy to make and made a nice side dish to the chicken with peach salsa

Coconut Rice

14 ounce can coconut milk
1-1/2 cups water
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 cups jasmine rice
parsley, chopped

Combine coconut milk, water, sugar, salt and pepper in pan.
Add rice, bring to a boil. 
Simmer for about 15 minutes till liquid is mostly absorbed. Mixture should be very wet, almost soupy.  Rice can easily burn because of coconut milk, be careful to not overcook. 
Garnish rice with chopped parsley. Serve warm or room temperature. 
Serves 6-8

Note:  You can leave the sugar out of the recipe but I found that the coconut flavor was more pronounced adding the sugar. 

'til next time...

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Has it really been four years?

My son is four years old. 

For some reason this sounds so much older than three, it is getting dangerously close to kindergarten age!  Just the thought that he will be old enough for school next year is unbelievable. 

This year his birthday conveniently fell on a Saturday, yet another day over 100 with high humidity...what a summer.

Since it is blistering hot right now I opted for a beach-luau theme for his party. Dinner was grilled chicken strips with peach salsa, coconut rice, fresh fruit and salad. Wine, beer, juice and white wine sangria kept us hydrated.

The children kept cool in the pool...

The birthday cake was a sandcastle.

If it looks familiar it's because you saw this same cake two years ago.  I know, I's pretty lame to be duplicating cakes when the kids is only four years old.  Can I really not come up with more than three ideas for a birthday cake?  In fairness to me, he asked for a sandcastle cake _-after looking at pictures of his 2nd birthday- and most went with the theme of the party.

There are approximately 64,000 pictures to document Wythe's 1st birthday.  This is apparently the closest I got to taking a picture of my son with his cake.  This does not bode well for future birthdays. 
When asked what he wanted for his birthday Wythe would respond "lots of friends to come over, LOTS of presents, cake and decorations."

We were very grateful for the friends that braved the heat to help us celebrate.  And Wythe was grateful for presents.  One of his presents was a bike, I'm not sure who was more excited, Daddy or Wythe?

It was apparently exciting enough to get out of the pool to try it out.  That is saying something.

Later in the party a brief hurricane passed through.  There was extensive damage to the sandcastle cake.

The palm trees were also toppled.

There are not enough adjectives to describe the past four years of our life but we wouldn't trade it for the world!  We love you Wythe Carrington....happy birthday son!

'til next time...

Monday, July 2, 2012

The garden finally produces...

It was that moment when all your work seems to be worth it....the moment when you pick the first vegetables of the season from your garden. 
the first harvest of 2012

There is nothing better than fresh fruits and vegetables for dinner!  This meal included beans and one tomato from our garden, the rest of the food was from the farmers market. 
I love summer meals!
 I got a late start on planting this year because I decided to change the location of the the garden. Our property is mostly shaded, finding enough sunshine for the garden is difficult so we decided to move it closer to the house.  As this location is one of the few spots we actually have grass growing we were reluctant to plow up that lovely green stuff. My husband had the idea of digging up the sod and relocating it to the back yard.  It was a good idea and it was nice to have instant grass in the back yard but it was tedious work. My husband spent many, many hours of quality time with a shovel digging up three strips of grass for my new garden.  We are planning to dig up three more  sections but will probably wait till the weather cools down some. 

laying out new garden location
digging up the sod

deciding where to plant

Wythe helping to lay out the garden

planting seeds

I didn't get a single sour cherry off of our tree this year, the crows mobbed the tree before I could get to it.  Usually, they don't start messing with the cherries till they start to ripen and if I spray the cherries before they are red I can harvest most of them.  But this year, not a single one.  I knew I hated crows, and not only because they walk more than they fly. 

I did get to pick some bramble berries though.  The kids wanted to help but quickly discovered than picking berries isn't near as fun as it looks. After a couple times of becoming completely entangled in thorns they decided they had had enough. 
first picking of the wild berries this year

The garden has really taken off now.  Judging by the amount of beans I am getting I will need to start canning soon.

Fingers crossed for a good harvest this year!

boxwood basil
'til next time...