Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Good Problem To Have

So after seeing Laura's fabulous flats of berries, I decided that I just had to get in on the raspberry action too! Mad Tom's raspberry season ends tomorrow so it was now or never. I told my dad that we needed to take a day-venture up to Vermont to pick a flat of berries. He rolled his eyes at me but agreed. So this morning instead of the usual weekday business, we hopped in the car and headed north.


This is the farm property! Stunning!! Just absolutely cute beyond words. Oh how I LOVE Vermont! I think I ate a box-worth of berries while picking. Oh they are just heavenly! I was so surprised at the flavor difference between the red and black raspberries. I think the black berries are sweeter but they really do taste completely different. It was so nice just standing in the warm (and muggy, but seeing as how I get eight months of cold I am refraining from complaining) sunshine picking the sweetest fruit known to man. I was in heaven!








This is their apple orchard. You can bet your bottom dollar I will be back in the fall to pick a bushel and a peck of apples and check out the candy-colored view!!




So after we filled a flat of combined red Nova and black (purplish) Royal raspberries, we decided we had to check out the blueberry farm just down the road. I mean, we were already there and everything. Oh this farm was just as cute as the first farm. And delicious!




We had to walk all the way to the back of the field to find the big, ripe berries. So there I went along, pushing my way through blueberry bushes all while sporting a Lilly shift (I had my dad take a pic for your blog Miss Janice but he didn't get close enough so you can't really see the shift- not worth sending.) to fill my bucket with berries. I decided it would be a perfect family outing activity with kids of all ages. If berries are still in season near you, grab the kids and make a morning of it!






You have to work for your berries and reach deep into the bushes sometimes. Singing for your supper makes you appreciate it that much more.




Berry picking and scenic views really work up an appetite! So we went to lunch in my favorite town ever, Manchester, VT of course! I had a fabulous curry chicken salad sandwich, called "Yellow Submarine," and diet coke and was smiling from ear to ear and I "quickly ran into" the Lilly store while dad waited in the car with the berries and AC. Actually I was only in there for 15 minutes or so. I tried on three things, only one of which fit my chest (which is typical of Lilly. I love LOVE it but damn they need to make dresses to fit girls who are larger than a C cup please!! Actually, that's an in-general sentiment towards every single company making clothes today. But such is a topic for another time I suppose.). But it was HOT in there and even in my pink and green mecca, I am a very temperamental shopper if I am not feeling just right. I'm like Goldilocks of shopping. If I'm hungry, forgetaboutit. Thirsty, well y'all know about my constant need for liquids. Hot, oh I can't even carry on a reasonable conversation. No decisions could be made in such sweltering heat today. It was crowded too. Apparently the economy was just fine in Vermont today. Everywhere we went was packed to the gills with tourists. But if you are less high-maintenance when shopping, all Summer '09 is 50% off and all Fall '09 is 20% off. The fall stuff is so cute! Anyway, I was a good girl and left empty handed. Probably for the best. I'm not in the mood to buy anything for fall right now. It is still summer for an entire month and I plan on relishing every steamy moment of it!


So on to my "problem" that I indicated in the post title. What the heck should I make with all of these berries? I don't have room to freeze many of them. Some, but not all. Or I could make some "stuff" and freeze some of that. But again, my freezer space is very limited at the moment. If I owned a second freezer I would have come home with three flats! So I am looking for recipes for blueberry-raspberry tarts. But what else? What do y'all love that uses blueberries and raspberries? Give me some fun ideas, please! Oh and while I enjoy making preserves, I will not be preserving any of these berries. Maybe if I had my own bushes and really needed to do something with them. But I honestly think that I can buy preserves that taste just as yummy at the farmer's market. And I don't really eat preserves/jams/jellies very often so its just not something I feel a need to make this week.


Oh, would you like to know what one pays for this many raspberries and blueberries at a u-pick place in Vermont? The flat of raspberries was $18. And nearly four pounds of blueberries was a whopping $7.50. Now of course I had to drive nearly 1.5 hours to get there but it was so worth it. They are tender and sweet and just divine! Today was just such a fabulous day with my daddy!! We totally lucked out weather-wise too! It was sunny and gorgeous all day until we were driving out of town when the skies opened up. Perfect timing!






But seriously, what should I bake/make/do with all of my berries, y'all?!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Double Time

Here's a little secret about me....I LOVE LOVE the giant cups for Target fountain drinks! Love them!! So much so that I wash and re-use them when running errands. I need access to liquids at all times. I am always always thirsty. (Thus I need to tinkle every 20 minutes, too!) They are giant and fit into any cup holder and I just love them. I know, how uncool. I should use one of those Nalgene bottles. Well I have some similar water bottles but I don't like them. You have to unscrew the top which I find very annoying and unsafe while driving. And there isn't a straw. I love a straw. So while I have several of the supposedly cool water bottles, I wash and re-use my six or so large Target cups that have been purchased on "quick trips for just one thing but somehow I left with an entire cart full" to Tar-jay. Sometimes I pilfer a few extra lids and straws because those just don't last that long. I know I should feel total shame, but the truth is that I just don't. I mean, it's all in the spirit of re-using something that still has use. And they are just the perfect giant size to fill up with water and add one of those little drink mix packet thingies and ice and run out the door.


So last week, I made yet another wonderful discovery about my beloved and cheap-o large plastic Tar-jay cups. My ice cream cozies fit them perfectly!! No more chilly hands. Oh and they keep the ice from melting too.





So not only do I gallivant about town with my constant companion of a red plastic cup but now it also sports a snazzy ice cream/newly discovered Target cup cozy. And I don't even feel any shame. Though I totally know I should!


Do y'all have any quirky habits like my red Target cup obsession?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Cobbler



Not shoes. Food. Because that's all I talk about lately! I make cobblers all the time. They are the easiest thing to make for a last minute neighborhood gathering. Just keep frozen fruit on hand and the rest is in your pantry for sure.


The other night I needed something to bring to another impromptu summer dinner party, so I used what I had on hand, 1 bag of frozen blackberries and 1 bag of frozen peaches. They are lovely together. Just dump the frozen fruit in a Pyrex dish and sprinkle with a little brown sugar (or white but I had the brown out already so that's what went in) and either cornstarch or flour as a thickener. Then in a separate bowl, mix a handful of oats, a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar and cold butter. The amounts depend on how much topping you are in the mood for. Just eyeball it. Cut in the cold butter with a fork and sprinkle on top of fruit. Bake in pre-heated oven at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes (depending on if you defrosted your fruit first and if you are using 1 bag vs 3 bags of fruit). Let cool a bit before digging in as to avoid boiling your tongue. I serve it plain because I don't personally enjoy the contrast of ice cream on top of anything other than a cone but I'm told it goes great with a scoop of vanilla. If that's your thing.

Friday, July 24, 2009

I Heart Tomatoes!



Doesn't this cut tomato sort of look like a sweetheart? Sort of, if you squint? I seriously have the most incredibly boring life. Look at my posts- they are about one of three things; cooking, sewing or gardening. And sometimes about volunteering with sorority or Junior League. That's just sad. I'd love to tell you that outside of what I report to Blogville, I live a raging life as a single girl in a city. But such is not the case. I really am just as dull as I sound in my day to day blog posts. I'm too old to live a hip life. Or honestly, I've just never really been very hip. I'm ready for a family life. You know, I'm just minus the family. Details!


On another note, I used to be able to upload photos to a post and move them around. Now I am forced to live with how they upload. And I work around this but find it annoying. Too restricting. Forces me to think about what I am going to write BEFORE I get my photos on the page. I miss the freedom, Blogger. What gives?!

Another Easy Dip

So I'm walking the pup last night and get a dinner invite at a neighbor's house. Fun but darn....what the heck am I going to bring?! I knew that by the time I finished our walk, I would only have about 30 minutes before walking back down for dinner. And I didn't need to bring something but I just feel nekkid if I go to a casual dinner party without some sort of contribution. Lucky for me, I keep cans in my pantry for just such a last minute need. I'd never made hummus before but I knew the basics and figured it would turn out decent enough to eat. Oh I was so right! If you've never made your own hummus, you need to give it a go. Other than the fact that a can of chick peas is about $0.89, the flavor is out of this world. So here's my non-recipe. Like just about everything in my life, I used what I found in my kitchen.


Make Your Own Hummus

In a blender or food processor, dump in 1 can of chick peas, 1 can of artichoke hearts (of course if you don't have these on hand feel free to omit), 1 teaspoon minced garlic (I had a jar in the door of the fridge), a few splashes of sesame oil, some EVOO and some water. Basically add liquid (I did half EVOO and half water to cut down on the fat. My over the top health conscious cousin uses fat free chicken broth. But I have to say there is a need for at least some EVOO for flavor value.) until there is enough for all the beans and artichoke hearts to blend into a semi-smooth dip. Don't like artichoke hearts? What about a jar of roasted red peppers instead? I have a jar of pickled asparagus that I am thinking might add a fun color and zing too! The possibilities are endless. And the flavor is fabulous! I know that regular hummus uses Tahiti but y'all should guess by now that my Price Chopper does not carry such fancy items. Sesame oil had to do in a pinch. I love the mild toasted flavor so much I think it's all I'll ever use. I keep pita bread on hand at all times so I just cut them up with kitchen scissors and pretended that I slaved away for hours as everyone complimented me.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

When Your Garden Gives You A Giant Squash....



...make zucchini bread!

I made this recipe (pilfered from allrecipes.com) yesterday and OMG is it ever tasty!! Remember I mentioned having a zillion frozen black bananas (For those who asked- yes you can freeze bananas. When they get what I call "over-ripe" or black/spotty, just pop them in the freezer. Use them later for breads or pancakes or smoothies or anything else really.) and the giant zucchini? Well I googled banana zucchini bread and this is what popped up. I doubled the recipe as I needed a few loaves as gifts and wanted to eat some and freeze some for later. I'm a "cook once, eat forever" kind of girl.


BANANA ZUCCHINI BREAD

Ingredients:

* 3 eggs
* 3/4 cup vegetable oil
* 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
* 1 cup white sugar
* 1 cup grated zucchini
* 2-3 bananas, mashed (I just squeeze the banana out instead of taking time to mash)
* 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
* 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
* 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 cup dried cranberries
* 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour two 8 x 4 inch bread loaf pans.

2. In a a large bowl, beat eggs until light and frothy. Add oil, brown sugar, white sugar, grated zucchini, bananas, and vanilla; blend together until well combined. Stir in the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix in the cranberries and nuts. Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared loaf pans.

3. Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Allow to cool in the loaf pans on a wire rack before removing and serving.


I doubled the recipe and was able to make four mini loaves and three regular size loaves. And so far the neighbor recipients have raved about their loaf prezzies!

Undies For Sadie?



Sometimes when I fill out stuff online to get a coupon or whatnot, I will use my pup Sadie Kate's name instead. To cut down on junk, etc. Well some coupon thingy must be selling names to other companies because my sweet girl got this in the mail the other day. A coupon for a free pair of Victoria's Secret panties! And while I like to talk to my dog and think that she is a furry human, she is technically, biologically, genetically ..... a dog. Guess which momma will be heading to the mall tomorrow evening? Hehehe! I don't even like VS, but free is free. So thanks Sadie!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

First I Grew It, Then I Ate It

The first taste of my very own home-grown green beans. Delish! I stand in the garden just eating them fresh off the vine most afternoons, actually. So sweet and tasty.




The giganto zucchini will turn into zucchini bread tomorrow. I didn't pick it in time and don't like to eat squash this large. And the "world's largest tomato" is just making me giddy! None of my others are even close to turning red yet so this baby is quite the symbol of hope at the moment.




Monday night's dinner was kabobs. Very simple, cooks quickly and makes a tummy smile. This photo is actually of the leftovers that I ate Tuesday for dinner. Just as yummy. I saw Sandra Lee make something similar recently. Of course I didn't write down her recipe- it wasn't that complicated. As usually I "winged" it. Alternated chicken (that I marinated in the leftover jarred marinate living in my refrigerator), canned pineapple, red pepper, zucchini and onion (that I nuked in the microwave for a few minutes first so that it required less cook time to get nice and sweet). Then I made a glaze/dipping sauce with the pineapple juice, a bit of vinegar, 2 tablespoons brown sugar and then some cornstarch to thicken. Use part as glaze and part as a dipping sauce. Mmmmm!




And while I am trying to watch my waistline, I wanted to make a little something for desert. I don't know why but I had a craving for homemade turnovers. Odd considering I've never actually made them. But in comes the beauty known as frozen puff pasty.

I have this habit of coming home from the grocery store with random items. A can here, a funny looking fruit there. So a while back I saw a can of strawberries. It just struck me as funny. I've never before seen canned strawberries. So of course I bought it. Thinking it would be tasty on cottage cheese or something. So instead of a topping, I emptied the entire can into a small pot. Added a touch of brown sugar (but just a touch as it was fairly sweet to start) and a few dashes of cloves. I have a love affair with nutmeg and cloves. Lots of my savory/meat dishes include a dash of nutmeg. I don't know why, I just love it. Sweet often gets a dash of cloves. But you could easily add cinnamon or ginger or nothing at all. I let it come to a boil. In a small dish I mixed together a few tablespoons of water and a giant tablespoon of cornstarch. Then added it to the strawberry mixture. Stir until it becomes both thick and the milky color disappears. Take it off the stove and let cool.

Let one sheet of puff pastry thaw in fridge or on counter (just be sure to cover in plastic wrap so it doesn't dry out). Once thawed, roll smooth on lightly floured surface. Cut into four equal-ish squares. With a pastry brush, moisten all four sides of each square with either water or egg wash. I find that turnovers rarely have more than a smidgen of filling- a pet peeve of mine. So I pretty much went over-board. And learned that while it was a great idea to divide the filling mixture four ways, it was a bit on this side of crazy. But tasty all the same. So fold in half and seal with a fork all along the two sides. Brush the tops with either water or egg wash and then sprinkle with white sugar. Bake in pre-heated oven at 400 until they look golden brown on top- maybe 20-25 mins. Let cool a bit before eating. Remember that the insides are going to be a bubbling 400 degrees!




They might not look like much, especially with the leaking filling situation. But I promise it is the tastiest desert ever. Your guests will be impressed, trust me!


Thanks, Y'all!

Update on the Spam Situation....

Thanks girls! I did try to do the manage bit at first but couldn't find this spam blog listed. It didn't occur to me initially to look at all four of this spammer's blog addresses. So for all the others still struggling to remove the car insurance thing, here's how to get it to *poof* go away....

- Dashboard
- Manage (under Blogs I Follow)
- then look for the following address http://ohijustloveit . blogspot . com
- then click Settings
- click "stop following"

And there you have it! I knew my blog pals would help me figure this out!!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Blog Question

Hey y'all- all of a sudden a blog that I am not following is showing up in my Dashboard. In the evenings I do my blog reading from my Blackberry. And this dumb blog posts every half hour so my entire Blackberry Dashboard is filled to the brim with this person's ramble on stuff I don't care a hoot about. But when I go to "manage" it still is not listed anywhere. I went to this blog and it doesn't even have a follower block thingy. It's totally spam. A blog spam about car insurance or something. I can't seem to figure out how to un-follow a blog that does not appear to be followed to begin with. Has anyone else had this happen to them and do you have advice on how to get rid of this spam bloggy person?!

Touring The Hudson

On Sunday I went on a boat cruise of the Hudson River with my father and his friends, who were kind enough to offer me an extra ticket. The event was actually a fundraiser for our county's historical society. And as usual when I do stuff with my dad and his friends, I was the youngest person by about 40 years on the boat. I had a ball though. It was nearly eight hours, about five hours more than I expected when I agreed to go. But it included a very yummy dinner and a fascinating and historical tour of the fabulous that is Upstate NY. It was the most perfect day, sunny and warm! A very rare find up here this summer. Most of those photos are just random shots that I took along the way. It was simply mesmerizing to hear all the rich history that has taken place in this river over the last 400 years. That's right friends, this is the quadricentennial of Henry Hudson's exploration up the Hudson River.










Some really beautiful homes along the river. This wasn't my favorite home by a long shot but I kept forgetting to stop and take photos until we had already passed.






The bridge in the forefront, the light blue bridge, is part of the Northway heading south (I believe). The steel bridge, rusty colored, is an old train bridge. A train passed abut five minutes after we went under both of them. They really did look pretty incredible side by side and over the river like that.






OK, so can anyone guess what this is? Anyone? It's an old ice house. People would harvest ice in the winter and store it in ice houses such as this one all year long for delivery down state to NYC, etc. Some of these ice houses had such incredibly insulation that the ice could be stored for years even!




So there you go, a little touch of history and scenery from Upstate NY. Or the "north pole" as I so frequently call it!

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Farm

I thought I'd update y'all on my summer garden....


Green onions. I've been using them and re-planting the roots all summer. Talk about bang for one's buck!




These are my sad sad excuses for pepper plants. I seriously have the worst luck with peppers. The last two years the damn squirrels ate them and would throw them at me. This year they are planted in the ground (instead of a pot as has been the case in the past) and they just seem so unhealthy. I've used organic Miracle Gro and still, nada. The empty plant had a baby yellow pepper (it was still green- that's how baby it was) but it died. They both had tons of blossoms a while back, each plant only had one pepper develop and now and I am down to one purple pepper out of two plants. Cross your fingers this last pepper actually gets large enough to eat. I'm not really counting on it though.




This is my "world's largest tomato" and it is finally turning red. The first of my tomatoes to turn red this year. Oh the excitement that is brewing in Casa de Crocodile!




My lettuce and carrots are growing like crazy. I've been eating salad greens for weeks. Though I have to say that if you are thinking of growing lettuce next year, be sure to also buy a salad spinner. I had to go to three big box stores to find one for less than $50 too. For what is essentially a big Tupperware thing from the 80's. Because you see when you grow lettuce in dirt, it comes inside dirty. So it requires washing and thus spinning. But so handy to have a salad just outside my door!




The largest of my green zebra tomatoes. They look pretty but gosh these are the slowest growing t'maters ever!




My green beans! They grow so fast!! I was surprised how fast they went from seed to mature plant.




See how pretty the beans are.




Two squash plants. They grew crazy fast too.




See all those zucchini....




And my yellow squash. Which I am sad to say don't taste that great. The outer skin, even on the baby squash, is soooo thick and fibrous. Disappointing!




But they look pretty on the plant. I suppose that counts for something, right?




So there you have it. The tour of the farm! I'm completely addicted to growing my own vegetables now. I so wish I had a greenhouse to use during the nine months of winter!!

And The Winner Is...

My apologies for not posting this yesterday. But I didn't get home from my boat cruise on the Hudson until nearly 11PM. And I was just too tired to do the whole pick and name and post the winner deal.

So this time I didn't take the time to write down names or use random number generator. Instead I asked my father during dinner to pick a number between 1 and 22. And Daddy-o picked you, Preppy Cricket!

Congratulations! Email me with your mailing address and the dress will be on its way to your happy home.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Anyone Want A Free Dress?

OK, so when I come up with new patterns, I like to do a test run. Usually with fabric that isn't necessarily my favorite. Just in case it turn out like crapola. This was my test run a while ago. And it turned out really cute. But it's not perfect. The bottom has issues - I can see them in the photo of the orange side clearly. But if you are not as OCD about things as I am, you might not really notice. There is also some sort of mark - pen maybe- on the orange side. So this would likely be an around the house dress. It should fit a 1T-2T, depending on how long your little girl likes to wear her dresses. I'm still figuring out kid sizing so the winner has to promise to tell me how it fits please!











And it can be yours. Please understand that I would never sell a dress that has "issues" like this one. I usually give my "seconds" away to friends. But I don't have any little girls in my life right now who wear this particular size. And I would hate to see it just sit here for me to eventually forget about. So if you would like it, please just leave a comment. If more than one person leaves a comment, I'll draw a winning name on Sunday afternoon.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Jon And His Girlfriend!




Can y'all believe this?! I mean, I am not a huge fan of the personalities of either Jon or Kate Gosselin, but I never believed that there was actual infidelity involved. Did y'all? If you have watched the specials and shows over the years, it is very evident that Jon's personality has changed quite a lot. He used to wear polo shirts or t-shirts with Christian slogans on them. Now he wears that trashy John Hardy crap and has the jerkiest personality. But I still just never believed that he would cheat on his family.


However there is just no bloody way he was not cheating. They only filed for divorce a few weeks ago. And the girl above is a family friend of Kate's!


Ew, Jon!! I hope you're not on the show again. You are slimy, slimy, slimy!! You owe Kate a big, fat apology!!

Two For The Price Of One Is Fun

These dresses were also part of a some custom order that went out the door recently. They are reversible- so two completely different patterns on each side. And tie at the shoulder with grosgrain ribbon. Really adorable and practical. Toss a t-shirt or turtleneck underneath and it's very seasonal.









And here's the second dress. I mean, they are not fancy by any means. But two layers of colorful cotton fabric with ribbon on top is still pretty fun. Both came with matching ruffle ribbon socks.









I made one as a test run before I decided I liked my pattern. It's not perfect and just might be a giveaway tomorrow. So come back if you are in need of a reversible "second" for a little girl in your life.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Whew, I've Been Busy!

I've been super busy the last week or so. Mostly working on some last minute custom orders. Thought I would show you a few of the goodies that made their way out my door this week....


Coasters. Nothing fancy but totally fun, nonetheless. The backs are all different so it should make it easy to find drinks down at the beach house.





Can you guess what this is? The only purpose of this picture is to remind myself of how I wrapped the item within. I think it looks fun, like bouquet.


"A" t-shirt for a little princess named Anabelle.


That's what was in the "bouquet" photo. A magic princess wand! To match her princess tutu of course!






And this is my new favorite thing I've ever made. A superhero cape! For super Max. Princess Anabelle's little brother of course.



I think I want one for myself. Just to wear around the house of course. I'm thinking that vacuuming would be a breeze in a pink and green Super Crocodile cape! It's easy for little Max to use too as it opens and closes with super soft Velcro.



Every superhero needs a shirt, right?




And do you see those two little things with stars? Um, superhero power wrist bands of course!





I'm hoping the sweet Auntie who ordered these goodies for her niece and nephew will send me a photo of the kids all dressed up! I'm pretty pleased with how everything turned out. I am loving the tri-colored tutu in light pink, bright pink and red. Fun, right?

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