Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Pet Peeve: Mustache Anything And Dress Up Photo Booths At Weddings


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I'm sorry but what is the fascination with mustaches?  They are all over blogs, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.  Everyone is bragging about how they are adding in dress up photo booths with mustaches at weddings and otherwise fancy events.

And y'all...I don't get it!

It's tacky.  It's dumb.  It's childish.  It's weird.  And it's not cute.

Is there some sort of hidden meaning that I've not been privy to?  Is there a story behind the trend?  Why is it the latest and greatest?  Why would anyone think it's cute or cool?

Picture it (channeling my best Sophia when saying that of course).  Your wedding.  You're dress is stunning...and it better be...you paid thousands of dollars for it.  Your hair is perfection...and it better be...you spent months obsessing.  Your venue is more than you imagined...and it better be....your wedding coordinator who charges an arm and a leg has had her team there for the last 48 hours straight.

And then you go and eff that up with a stupid mustache and purple feather boa photo.

For an 8th grade dance, OK, I could see this being fun.  For a wedding...oh hell to the no!  Tricks are for kids.  And mustaches....most men can't even pull them off so I don't at all understand that fascination.


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If you post wedding photos that include a tacky dress up photo booth, please know that in my head, I am questioning your sanity and taste level.

Don't muck up your perfect day with a dress up box.  What's wrong with looking beautiful all day?  When did that become so last year?

Just say no to dress up photo booths, my friends!  Just.  Say.  No.


Community Garden: Prepping The Soil Part 1


Friday afternoon was sunny and beautiful!  A bit chilly but in the sunshine it was delightful.  I convinced my Daddy to help me prep the soil in my community garden plot for an hour or so.  He's going to help me a bit more but we only had about an hour on Friday afternoon.  And honestly, that was plenty.  I am, uh, not exactly used to doing physical labor.  Ha.

The following three photos are the before shots.  When not a single thing had been done.  It's hard to tell the size of my plot and see where others begin right now in the photo.  But shortly that should be remedied 

My allotment is full of weeds and rocks.  Plus one leftover strawberry plant and one leftover either onion or garlic (time will tell...want to take a guess?) plant.  And then more weeds and rocks.  Bottom line, it's a hot mess.  It's also right next to the hose.  Which could be both a blessing and a curse.








And the two photos below are the after.  I know it's doesn't look like much but it wasn't exactly easy given the solid mass of weeds and rocks everywhere bonus.  Really all we did was dig up all the weeds and turn over the soil.  It's step #1.  Many steps to go before I can harvest (or even plant) anything.

This also should make it easier to see in the photo which spot is mine.  The small space that is now dirt vs green weeds.  The soil closer to the fence line is ALL rocks and old bricks from when a house once stood on this piece of land.  The great news is that the entire garden gets direct sun all day.  And even though my allotment isn't very large, it should be plenty big enough for my first foray into community gardening.  Or as I call it, farming.  There are several experienced gardeners in my garden and I hope they impart lots of insight and wisdom in me this summer.






I already know I need to quickly put up some sort of fencing along the side (above right) with the garden hose to prevent it from constantly ending up on my plants.  When I got there it was all over my plot.  Hmph!

Have any of y'all ever gardened in a community garden before?  Do you have any tips or tricks?


Monday, April 29, 2013

Yogurt Honey Mustard Salad Dressing


On Easter Sunday, I was assigned a big salad for our family meal.

Boring.

To say I was bummed at my drab and unfun contribution was an understatement.  But I made the best of it.  And even though I forgot a photo, it was a really delicious salad with spinach, artichoke hearts, dried blueberries, dried cherries, spiced walnuts and this yummy dressing.

This dressing is so simple to make, keeps a long time in the fridge, can be made fat free or low-fat, and is real crowd pleaser.




Yogurt Honey Mustard Salad Dressing

Ingredients:
* Yogurt (I used fat free vanilla but any plain or vanilla, regular or Greek, would work)
* Honey
* Dijon Mustard
* Balsamic Vinegar
* EVOO (optional)
* Kosher Salt
* Fresh Cracked Ground Pepper

Directions:
* I eye-ball this but in general you are going to want a good bit of yogurt, more if you skip the EVOO.  About an equal amount of balsamic and half that of mustard.  A small amount of honey- maybe 1/4 of the yogurt.  A pinch of salt and pepper.  All to taste.  Either whisk or blitz in the blender (my preference).
* This keeps in the refrigerator for as long as the yogurt will keep as that is your only perishable ingredient.  But in general I make it and use it during the following week.  





The Uncle Sam Project






It's been a while since I posted on here about my city.  Despite my constant insistence that I live in the North Pole, I do actually live in a pretty cool piece of American History.   My city has many claims to fame.  We are known as the Collar City because at one time, it was the center of a very specific textile production for the area.  Shirt collars.  Which at the time, were detachable.  We are also known for our stunning iron works.  And the largest Flag Day parade in America (of course it helps if you first realize Flag Day is an actual day).  As well as having the most L. C. Tiffany designs in the world.  And...we are known for being the home of Uncle Sam.

Welcome to Troy, NY.  Where everything is a claim to fame, all are debatable, and none really make us famous.  Oh...and of course...it's as cold as the stinkin' North Pole.




But this past Friday, my fair city stepped it up a notch by debuting The Uncle Sam Project!  Like the pandas in DC, pigs in Seattle, horses in Saratoga, and so on, we now are the proud owners (until Fall when they are auctioned off as the fundraiser) of 30 delightfully decorated Uncle Sams.




Above is a tribute to our beloved Tiffany claim to fame.  And below is the Uncle Sam in front of the Troy Music Hall.  I love his piano pants.






This Sam is nothing short of amazing.  Which is saying a lot because in general, I am not a big fan of birds.  But he is hand painted with the most beautiful detail of every local bird.  And his back (below), also includes Uncle Sam's grave marker.  That's the artist with the purple shirt and short hair.






This Sam was so cute in quilted material and jeans.






And now for my top two.  This was done by an Indian tribe and the detail was just stunning.  The face was painted to look like carved wood!  I missed what and why but they did some sort of Indian ceremony to or at or for this statue.






And my other top Sam was the money man.  Gold bars for a top hat, copper face, dollar bill jacket, silver vault pants, standing on a gold coin platform and by far my favorite detail was...






He was wearing penny loafers....WITH PENNIES!  I just died.  Such a cute touch!

The artist was incredibly nice.  All of them were.  Most were standing next to the statues during Troy Night Out to take photos and answer questions and tell you about their work.  It was just fabulous to see the community so engaged and excited by this project.




For local readers, I hope you will take time to walk through town to enjoy The Uncle Sam Project.  It's by far the coolest thing Troy has done since I've lived here.  It's a great way to see the city!




Sunday, April 28, 2013

I'm Finally A Dot Com!


Years ago when I was driving from DC to Upstate NY for Christmas, I needed to get a hand free ear piece for my phone to be able to chat during the long drive.  So on my lunch break, I popped into the cell phone store and asked to buy a new ear piece as the fur baby had chewed the old one.

I showed the salesman my phone and assumed this would be a 30 second transaction.

The salesman said, "Miss, we don't make that phone anymore."

Um...OK...well I just need the ear piece.

"I'm not sure you understand, Miss, we don't make that phone.  You need to upgrade."

Uh huh.  I just need the ear piece.  I also need to hurry up and get back to the office.

"No, Miss, we don't make ANY parts to that phone.  You HAVE to get a new phone."

Whaaat?! So you're telling me you don't make this phone anymore??  (No one ever accused me of being quick!)

After looking up my account..."Miss you qualified for a new phone, for free, like two years ago.  Why didn't you upgrade?

I don't like change.  It seems like a lot of effort.


So it should come as no surprise that I am one of the very last bloggers to convert from a .blogspot address to a full on .com address.  But the time came for me to just make the change.  And with the help of the absolute most amazing customer service representative ever ever ever at GoDaddy (I seriously cannot say enough about this guy...hands down the most helpful person I have EVER spoken to...I hope he gets a raise!), I am now all big and official (OK so I am neither big nor official at anything) with a grown up blog domain.  Go me!




After all was said and done, they gave me a discount code WOW79774 and it should give you 35% off a purchase through April 30th, and 20% after that.  Y'all know how much I pink puffy heart a discount!  More than that though, I really just wanted to say it was very easy (with the help of the awesome awesome customer service guy in Arizona when I couldn't figure something out and then he went above and beyond to help me with other things too) and I wish I had done it earlier.  So if you've been thinking about buying your domain, DO IT.  It's inexpensive (even less with the discount code above) and take just a few moments of your time.

And did I mention the great customer service?  It's just so rare that anyone every has a good experience with something like that so I have to brag!

Oh and from here on out...I am officially located at www.preppypinkcrocodile.com!  Hot diggity dog!


Lilly Love


Lilly Pulitzer has some great pieces this season.  The last few years have been hit or miss for me as far as overall collections.  And while I do still feel like the brand is too big for it's britches (I seriously can never forget the dreadful collaboration with LeSportSac.), I am in love with these two dresses.  Love love love!




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Friday, April 26, 2013

Strawberry Chipotle Jam


For the Food Swap last weekend, I made a batch of strawberry chipotle jam.  This was a first for me but it will not be the last time.  It's sooo good.  I might try using blueberries next time to change things up.  I love the sweet and spicy combo.

This is a great recipe for a first time canner.  Or someone experienced who just wants to try something new and different as far as flavors go.  It's easy peasy lemon squeezy!

I used Mavis's recipe but made a few small changes so here is what I did...


Strawberry Chipotle Jam

Ingredients:

* 4 cups whole strawberries (I used frozen)
* 2-3 chipotle peppers (to taste preference)
* 3 cups granulated sugar
* 1/4 cup lemon juice
* 1/2 tsp salt
* 2 tbls powder pectin (optional)

Directions:

* Place small dish in freezer to test jam later.

* If your berries are frozen, defrost them so that they aren't rock hard.  They can still be frozen but not thumpy berry ice cubes.

* Pour half the berries into the food processor.  Pulse until they are pretty well pureed.  Some chunks are fine though.

* Slice the other half of the berries in half (if par-frozen you can use kitchen scissors to make this quick and easy).

* Pour the processed berries plus the other half of the halved berries into a heavy bottom pot.  I prefer my cast iron pot.  It takes longer to heat up but it keeps a much more even heat than anything else and it's harder to (but can be done- ha) to burn things in there as a result.  Add sugar, salt and lemon juice.  Heat to a boil.

* In the still dirty food processor, add your chipotle peppers.  I added three.  Pulse until finely chopped.  You can do this by hand on a cutting board too but if your processor is already out and dirty, why make more work for yourself?

* Add your peppers to the pot.  I added about 2/3 (so 2 of the three peppers) to the pot first and let them incorporate.  I then tasted and made the decision to add a dash more (so in the end I likely added 2.3 peppers or just slightly more than two but definitely not three).  This will depend on your heat preference.  I like some heat but not crazy heat.  I also wanted this to be liked by many and not just the occasional few hot heads.  So you will just have to decided what you prefer.  I thought two was delightful.  But that's just me.

* Heat to a raging boil.  This means that when boiling, if you take the lid off or stir the pot or add something to the pot, it will not slow the boil.  It keeps boiling no matter what.

* Skim off foam as it forms.  I reserve this for the cook to enjoy.  It tastes great, just looks, well, foamy.

* Once in a raging boil, add pectin.  Boil one more minute.  (This is OPTIONAL.  There is enough pectin in the berries that they don't need it added.  However, this means you will need to boil it for 30-40 minutes to reach the point of it being a thick jam consistency.  I'm lazy and impatient.  So I added pectin.  But you can absolutely get away without adding the pectin and instead adding time and patience.  Up to you.)











* Test your jam by placing a bit on the dish in the freezer.  Let it set for a moment and run your finger through it.  If it looks like this, it's ready to go.  If not, let it boil for another minute.  If it still doesn't look like this, add 1 more tbls of pectin and boil, test, all over again.

* Funnel your jam into prepared, hot, sterilized jars.  Boil 10 mins (for me- right at sea level- adjust for your own sea level of course).  This means that you don't start timing it until the pot of water and newly filled jars actually comes to a hard boil.  Then wait 10 minutes (again...for me at sea level...you need to make sure you process according to your home's elevation level as higher elevations require additional minutes of processing to ensure safety) and carefully remove jars.  Set them on a towel to dry and cool down.  Don't touch them.  Wait for the POP!  Once cooled and popped...they are done!





* Freeze the extra chipotle peppers in a small container to use later.  I need to look up recipe ideas because I really love the smoky flavor but have never used them at home.  Well...until now.  If you have favorite chipotle ideas, please share!





* Add fabric and a ribbon to make it a fun gift.  Or just open and enjoy on a sandwich, quesadilla or grilled cheese, on pork or chicken, trade at a food swap, or on a block of cream cheese served with crackers.






This. Is. Powerful.





Thursday, April 25, 2013

Why I'm Pro Food Swap


Last Sunday I attended another food swap hosted by From Scratch Club.  I LOVE these swaps.  I know I saw it every month but it is just a ball to taste so many fun treats and meet new people and see new takes on old ideas.  They're awesome and really give you such a powerful sense of old fashioned community that is nearly lost in today's society.

I can't stress enough how much I love going.  I get comments every single time I post on them that folks don't think they have one in their area.

Um...so there's this fancy pants new thing called the internet.  Google or my personal favorite, Swagbucks, can help you solve that mystery.  I'm guessing though that you do have one in your area.  Because my area is the last to get everything.  We just got a Trader Joe's and it doesn't even sell wine.  Seriously.  Here's a short list of things that everyone else has that we don't (note that I know I am exaggerating....a little): Whole Foods (though it's coming!), Nordstrom (it will never come), Ikea (also never coming but I am OK with that), Publix (OK so not everyone has it but everyone who does knows it's by far the best grocery store ever and my Florida girl self misses it weekly), high end retail (so you can buy things like Tory Burch Revas at an actual story?  Up here you buy them online.  Stores sell Crocks and clogs and little else here in the North Pole.), and the list goes on.

But we have a food swap.  A few, actually!

So if we have them, chances are high that you probably do too.  You just need to look.  And you should.  Go without swapping just to see what it's all about one month.  Just for fun.

Here's why...




Above is what I brought to swap.

It included 30 vegetable/fruit plants and four jars of strawberry chipotle jam (recipe will be up tomorrow).  Included in my plants (all non GMO) were several varieties of heirloom tomatoes, purple tomatillos, pineapple tomatillos, several varieties of peppers, eggplant and ground cherries.  I had them organized into sets of three but in the end I just told people to pick any three they wanted.  I was so prepared that it became confusing for everyone else- ha.  It was fine.  The jam is awesome!!  It's sweet and spicy, but not too spicy.  Oooh doggy it's a winner.

Below you see that a few others were trading plants (I actually came home with both a plant and seeds).  But I think I was the only one trading three at one time.  Honestly I wasn't sure people would want them and I started waaaay too many and needed to ensure I didn't come home with all of them.  I am out of space!

Out of 30 plants, I came home with six.  Plus one that was new to me from the swap and a set of seeds.  But they don't count.  I also came home with one jar of jam.  I was offered a swap but it was my last jar and I really sort of just wanted it for myself.  And so it came home with me!




Above you see homemade grape soda, coconut chutney, scones, plants, jams and curry tofu.

So you know how you have to grow into some foods?  Well as a kid, I liked tofu.  I grew up with a lot of Asian influence and I thought soft tofu with honey was better than ice cream for several years.  Ate it all the time.  The older I get, the LESS I can stand it.  Regardless of texture and cooking method.  I think I used up my "I like tofu" years as a little kid.  Needless to say, I passed on attempting to swap for that particular trade.




Below is my haul.

Two kinds of kefir (apple cider- which is my fav and cherry), almond butter, spiced tonic (yum!), a Thai peanut sauce of deliciousness, fig nut bread, a horseradish pant, two packs of homemade salmon ravioli and heirloom Long Island Cheese Pumpkin seeds (I wanted to grow this variety but didn't buy the seeds.  It's a pale orange and big but flatter pumpkin that I think is stunning but also, I'm told, tastes wonderful.  I have like no space to grow this but I'll figure it out.)  Oh plus four large mason jars that were just given to me without a trade.

Only at a food swap are you able to leave with 30 extra plants that you can't bear to throw away because you worked so hard to care for them and come home with this variety of deliciousness!






Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Garden Party Essentials


So I was on Facebook and these popped up in my sidebar advertising from One Kings Lane.  I have been wanting to pick up a set for more than a year now.

So I cruised on over there and it took me forever to figure out where the darling mason jar glasses with tops and straw hole were hidden.  In the tea party section, FYI.  Aren't they adorable?!  Love!!


Mason Jar Glasses



Of course in my 15 min search for the mason jars above, I spotted a few other treats that made me think of spring and entertaining and warm weather (It was 71 here today!!  Can you hear the choirs of angels singing?!).  I assume One Kings Lane did that on purpose...making me see ALL of the pretty pretties before finding the one things I was originally looking for.  Way to play the game, One Kings Lane!


pretty straws


I just saw the cutest idea on Pinterest.  They tied a grosgrain ribbon around a pitcher and added a tag that said "thanks for pitching in."  Perfect thank you treat for a volunteer!

You can use pitchers for so many things!


I have loads of spa water recipes that would look stunning in this!  Can't you just picture the berries or citrus against the glass?  Beautiful for a party!

One day I will have an excuse to "need" one of these.


These are awesome if you plan to make your own extracts (vanilla, cinnamon, clove, rosemary and more!) or alcohols as gifts.  Sangria would look pretty in here too!  Great for food swaps.

Another must order for gift giving needs!




Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Read This: Living Childhood In Five Days


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This article is just incredibly.  It's very sad but also such a beautiful reminder to appreciate and actively live life, instead of spending your best days grieving!


Let Me Bullet Point It For You


* I ran into a door...or rather the side of a door...yesterday with my right arm.  And it feels like someone punched me.  Hard.  Who does stuff like this?  Me, it seems.  Ouch.  Watch out for doors...the bite!

* Everything is blooming.  I love it.  My allergies, however, are agreeing to disagree.  Achoo.

* As much as I am craving spring, and better yet, summer, for Sadie's sake I dread it.  She just doesn't move and feel well when its hot outside.


dog stroller


* But don't worry, I lost track of my pride a long time ago.  When it finally gets hot here, I promise to continue my town spectacle of using the dog stroller
.  The things we do for love!

* I need a haircut something fierce!  I let it get loooong because everyone was complimenting it.  And then I learned the joys of the pony tail.  But now it is age way inappropriate and looks tacky.  The compliments have ceased.  Chop, chop!




* Tomorrow night on Duck Dynasty we get to see Si in bathing suit.  The big question...will it and his Hawaiian shirt be camo?  The bigger question...is the network going to turn this show into Kate Plus Eight where they just travel and have very planned, campy, story-driven conversations?  Gosh I hope not.  Quack!




* I just booked a trip that is part business/part pleasure that thrills me to no end.  Though by business, I mean JL.  Is anyone else going to the National Conference next month?  I'd love to meet up if you are!  The highlight of the trip though will be seeing some of my best girlfriends, Little E and B (that stands for Bench).  And maybe a few more.  And their babies.  So so exciting!

* Sometimes I amaze myself with how many things I can pin when I am on hold.  Talk about a useless skill- ha!

* I can't wait for a show that just debuted to be cancelled because I am already sick of seeing the commercials.  What Would The Dumbest Gator Swimmer Do?  Who.  Cares.  I predict it's only a matter of days before he's also on "Celebrity" Rehab and dating Lindsay Lohan.


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* And finally...Reese Witherspoon was arrested!  No one saw that coming.  As much as I adore her, I am rather shocked that this wasn't a bigger news story.  Good girl gone wrong is at the very center of an American news story.  If it had been anyone else, they would be interviewing the second cousin twice removed of the arresting officer and Reese's 3rd grade classmate for a quote.  But instead, it got a quick blurb.  I mean, good for her I guess.  But it seems odd.  A friend wrote on Facebook "America's sweetheart or just plain ole American?"  I still love her and am not debating her sweetness or great style.  But I found it interesting that news media didn't jump all over this in a more dramatic, end of the world, tacky fashion.


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