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harmony

I’ve wanted to put up a post about the wedding reception I did for Cody and Chanté over Mother’s Day weekend, but I don’t yet have the photos to do so.

So, while we wait for those, I have a sneak peek at a new business venture that my friend and colleague, Kim Howard, and I are looking into embarking on.

I put together this 3.5 x 1.5 foot Harmony Board for the reception. It consists of a cheese board, charcuterie board, crudités and fruit board.

We’ll call it Harmony Board 1.0.

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May 21, 2018   3 Comments

a month in the making

A month can seem like a long time or fly by in a minute. I’ve experienced both on my backyard remodel.

It took only one month for the wonderful people at Garden Plus Landscape & Pools to tear out my old backyard and install something beautiful and new.

And it’s taken an entire month for me to round-up and Photoshop all the photos so that I can finally get this post up. No time like the present, so let’s get on with it! These first four photos are the renderings that Garden’s Plus presented me with.

Lovely, aren’t they?

The rest will  be the before, the between (the progress) and the after photos.

As a refresher; in May 2017, I moved out of a 4,000 sq ft house that I’d lived in for 18 years, into a 2,000 sq ft rental that also served as my storage space. Then in November 2017, I moved into this 3,000 sq ft house. I adore this house and it felt like home immediately.

Well, except for all the excess stuff that was piled deep and high on the back patio and along the very narrow eve on the north side of the house.

Thankfully it doesn’t rain in AZ very often! If it did, there would have been much more of this situation.

It all felt so very claustrophobic, suffocating and downright awful.

To rid myself of that stuff and those less than warm and fuzzy new home feelings, I needed to pare it down and spread it out. The paring down came in the form of a garage sale on March 3rd and 4th.

And the beginning of being able to spread it out began at the same time, in the form of a new covered patio that would be nearly 3x the size of the original covered patio.

At the same time, the chipping plaster and cracking border tile of the original pool needed to come out and be replaced with new tile, coping and pebble finish. The old cement under the long but narrow covered patio, the faded cool-deck and a good part of grass area were to be replaced with travertine.

A built-in gas grill with dinning table was getting built, along with a beautiful accent wall/planter, which was inspired by a vintage French wall fountain I scooped up at Sweet Salvage several years ago.

Being installed in between the accent wall/planter and the pool, an eye-catching harlequin-pattern of travertine tile and faux grass. I’d love to take credit for that design element, but all credit goes to Adrian at Garden’s Plus. He spotted the French fountain among all the stuff piled on the patio and came up with the idea and design.

The first order of business for me was to get everything off the patio. I moved all the boxes into the garage and figured out what would be kept and what was to go in the sale. I moved all the outdoor furnishings onto an extra-large tarp in the grass on the far north side of the yard and then the guys covered it with more tarps to protect it from possible rain. It rained for two days before I was able to move stuff to the grass, but it hasn’t rained since … that was February 27th.

Note: As if to prove me a liar, it rained only hours after I pushed “schedule” on this post. Yes, it rained last night! Hallelujah! Praying it’s raining up north and helping put out or at least control the Tinder Fire.

Actually now that I look at the photos, I remember that the guys started putting up the masonry columns even before I moved my stuff off the patio. That seriously lit a fire under me and put the pressure on!

This was travertine delivery day. In a future post, I’ll share with you all the drama that occurred on granite delivery day. It was quite the thing.

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May 2, 2018   4 Comments

Trader Joe’s quick app

In the span of seven days, I had people, mostly family, over for appetizers or dinner on four separate occasions. If it’s not the same people each time, I tend to repeat at least one or two of the dishes, over and over.

This time around, one of the easy appetizers I put out was a mix of two of my favorite frozen items from Trader Joe’s.

I like TJ’s frozen Creamy Spinach & Artichoke Dip and I love their frozen Mexican-Style Roasted Corn with Cotija Cheese.

I thought that they would be great mixed together and served warm with chips. I was correct!

First cook the corn according to package directions. It has yummy frozen sauce chunks just as their risotto and some of their other frozen products do … yummy!

Next, microwave the spinach-artichoke dip according to package directions, then add as much corn as you would like. I added about 1 cup of the corn.

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April 25, 2018   No Comments

stupid funny

Do you want to hear a funny-stupid story?

Yes?  OK, here you go…

Last week I showed you the indoor daybed that I turned into an outdoor patio daybed. It has a twin mattress that I had ordered an outdoor cover for. (I’m going to be talking about two types of mattress covers here – the standard white cotton mattress covers we use for all beds and a special outdoor burlap mattress cover that basically encloses the mattress for outdoor use. Try to follow along and not get lost in all the “mattress cover talk.”)

While waiting for the outdoor cover to arrive, I went to Home Goods (LOVE HOME GOODS!) and purchased a thick and plush cotton mattress cover to make the bed extra soft and cozy.

I was so excited when the outdoor mattress cover arrived…

…until I noticed that the bulky, extra soft, thick and plush cotton mattress cover showed through and did not look good at all. In fact, it looked downright awful. Boo!!!

I knew what I needed to make it work. I needed fitted twin sheets to go between the two mattress covers. Problem is I had gotten rid of all unneeded sheet sets in the garage sale last month. Dang It!

A few days later, I was working on an outdoor closet that had stacks of boxes from when I moved in back in November. I cleared it out and put items in my car to take to Goodwill. On my way to drop those items off, I stopped at Costco. The entire time, cursing the fact that I’d need go into Goodwill to buy fitted twin sheets while, at the same time, donating more valuable items. All the while, I was mulling over an imaginary scenario in my head – how I would love to ask if they would be willing to give me a couple of fitted sheets for all these items I was donating. Knowing full well that the answer would be no and it was ticking me off! Absolutely Ridiculous, I know!

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April 24, 2018   4 Comments

daybed

Long before there was such a thing as Craigslist or Offer Up, I bought a cute little white iron daybed from a classified ad. It was used for guests and sleepovers. The bed sat up the in the playroom for many years. I disposed of the trundle-bed portion about 8 years ago.

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April 16, 2018   No Comments

pop pop popular salad

I have brought this salad as a pot-luck dish to many parties over the years and everyone always asks for the recipe. I brought it again last weekend and promised the recipe would be here this week. Promise kept!

I use already toasted and peeled hazelnuts from Trader Joe’s for this recipe.

If you have raw hazelnuts, go to this LINK to learn how to toast and skin them.

I almost never go to all that trouble anymore. Just another reason I am always so grateful for Trader Joe’s! I also used TJ’s quinoa, a mix of red and white.

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April 13, 2018   3 Comments

mini Le Creuset … and grits

This is the last of my Easter brunch recipes. The real reason I made these was so that I could use the adorable green mini Le Creuset Petite Cocotte (little Dutch ovens) that my kids gave me for Christmas several years ago. The green was the perfect pop of color for my Easter table.

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April 12, 2018   2 Comments

rhubarb season, not

Did you know that in the last week of March you can not find fresh rhubarb in any grocery store in the Valley of Sun?

Trust me, I tried. I went to Fry’s, Safeway, Sprouts and Whole Foods. I called Albertson’s, Bashas, A.J.’s and Natural Grocers. I’ve never even set foot inside a Natural Grocers, so I don’t have a clue as to what sort of inventory they have, but I was desperate!

Not a one of them had rhubarb. All the produce managers said they had tried to order it, but it wasn’t coming in. By the time I discovered this, I’d already bought the strawberries for this salad and I had my heart set on it. I love strawberry-rhubarb pie, so I was craving this salad for my Easter brunch.

Finally, I took a closer look at the recipe and saw that the rhubarb was cooked for a couple of minutes and then sat in the hot liquid. It seemed to me as if the frozen rhubarb would work just fine. And it did!

A bonus of this recipe is the cooking syrup from the rhubarb, you’ll have about 1 cup of it but you only use 2 tablespoons of it for the dressing. The rest of it you can save and use as a grapefruit-rhubarb simple syrup for cocktails. Mix it with vodka and soda for a refreshing drink. Oh, it is good!

Strawberry-Rhubarb Salad

  • 1 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 cups 1-inch diagonally sliced fresh rhubarb or a 12-ounce bag of cut frozen rhubarb
  • 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 20 ounces fresh strawberries, quartered lengthwise (about 3 cups)
  • 1/2 cup toasted silvered almonds
  • 1/4 cup small mint leaves
  • Mint sprigs, for garnish

In a medium saucepan, stir together the grapefruit juice and sugar over medium-high; bring to a boil, and cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves.

Add rhubarb to pan; cook 1 minute. Remove pan from heat. Cover and let stand until rhubarb is tender-crisp, about 15 minutes if fresh or 10 minutes if frozen.

Remove rhubarb with a slotted spoon, reserving rhubarb syrup.

In a large bowl, stir together the orange juice, lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons of the rhubarb syrup.(reserve the remaining syrup for another use.) [Read more →]


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April 11, 2018   No Comments

got to have bacon!

Even when the centerpiece of your Easter brunch is a spiral-cut ham – that does not mean you can’t throw in a little bacon too!

The original Southern Living recipe called for a cast-iron skillet. Since my cast-iron skillet was in a storage cupboard in the garage that was blocked by a bunch of boxes and folding chairs, I used a large heavy skillet instead.

I’ve mentioned this tip before, but it’s worth repeating. If you have a pot or pan that needs to go in the oven that does not have an oven-safe handle, or even if you’re not quite sure if it is oven-safe or not. You can still use that pan. Just double wrap the handle in heavy-duty foil (or wrap 4 times with standard foil) and just like magic, you have an oven-safe pan.

Hash Brown-Asparagus-Bacon Quiché

  • 6 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 8 ounces fresh asparagus, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 4 cups frozen shredded hash browns (about 12 ounces)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1 cup shredded Gruyère cheese (about 4 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions
  • Fresh minced chives, for garnish

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook bacon in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet or another oven-safe heavy skillet over medium until browned and almost crisp, but still tender, about 6 minutes. Transfer bacon to a plate lined with paper towels. Reserve drippings in skillet, and let cool slightly.

Add asparagus to skillet, and cook over medium-high, stirring often, until lightly browned and just beginning to soften, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer asparagus to a medium bowl.

Add hash browns, bacon, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper to hot drippings in skillet over medium-high; stir to combine.

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April 10, 2018   1 Comment

Easter brunch (or any brunch) cocktail

This was our Easter cocktail. For the non-drinkers, I made up a batch of the citrus mix, sans the brandy, and added flavored La Croix sparkling water instead of Prosecco.

The lemonade ice cubes make the drink so festive. Since I have this long ice-cube tray to work with, I served the cocktail in champagne glasses. If I was using a standard tray, I’d have used wine glasses instead.

Sparkling Citrus Brunch Cocktail

Ice Cubes

  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced
  • 1 lime, thinly sliced
  • 1 orange, thinly sliced
  • 1 to 2 cups prepared lemonade

Cocktail

  • 1 ½ cups fresh orange juice
  • 1 cup fresh Ruby Red grapefruit juice
  • 1 (750-milliliter) bottle Prosecco, chilled
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) brandy
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • Citrus slices for garnish

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April 9, 2018   2 Comments