Monday, April 29, 2013

Happy 7th Anniversary!

This year Brian and I celebrated our 7th anniversary! :) Lucky #7, right?

We spent the weekend watching some Hitchcock movies (Rear Window & Rope) and The Naked Gun while enjoying some buttery popcorn and fizzy drinks.


And we took an architectural cruise along the Chicago River! It’s something we’ve been wanting to do for a while and definitely the highlight of my weekend.  I brought along my boyfriend and got some fun pictures of the city. :)

The Sears (Willis) Tower from the Chicago River

Along the Chicago River

A view up from the Chicago River

Carbide and Carbon building from the Chicago River

I loved seeing the city from an angle that I’ve never seen before and I learned a lot more about various styles of architecture than I ever knew. I also learned a lot about my camera and lens: there’s just no experience like getting out and actually taking pictures.

Finally, we wrapped up the weekend by indulging in my favorite ranch dressing ever – from the Cheesecake Factory. :)


Happy 7th Anniversary :)

Happy 7th Anniversary :)


Bigger photos on Flickr.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

AeroGarden Update #3: Things are Movin’

I’m finally movin’ things around here in the AeroGardens!

My little petunia is doing so well, so I figured it’d be a good time to move it in with the big basil.

little petunia is doing well!

(There are tiny sprouts in the parsley and oregano, too!)

To aid the petunia’s growth in the old AeroGarden, I decided to prune the basil down a lot, so I could lower the light.  I forgot to take pictures before I began, but here it is halfway through:

basil being chopped down!

And after they were both pruned…they looked so sad. :)

basil heavily pruned. I hope they do ok!

I hope they continue to do okay! But I was able to lower the light and move the petunia in.

moved the petunia and lowered the light

Then I planted some cilantro seeds in the new garden.

cilantro planted; tiny sprouts of parsley and oregano

Now, here are the two AeroGardens side by side:

the 2 AeroGardens

Here’s hoping everything does well!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Happy Earth Day!

It’s a little gloomy here in Indiana on this Earth Day, so here are some more flower shots to cheer us up. :)

daffodils and grape hyacinth

tiny daffodils

Happy Earth Day! Here’s hoping the nicer parts of spring come to us soon. :)

Friday, April 19, 2013

Candle Warmer Sale, Scentsy, and Volcano

Whew, what a title. :)

I’m posting this because I just bought this candle warmer online at Colonial Candle. Today until April 23, use coupon code FRIENDS20 for 20% off + free shipping!

Green Lattice Wax Melter

Sounds like an paid advertisement but it’s not. :)  I’ve been eyeing this warmer for a while, signed up for Colonial Candle’s email list (to add to all that junk mail I already get), and waited for the sale that makes the junk mail worth it. :)  I’m so cheap sometimes.

Isn’t it pretty, though? (Prettier with 20% off and free shipping!) I got it because I’ve gotten into Scentsy lately.  I’ve got a friend who sells it, and I’ve been looking into a non-candle version of Anthropologie’s amazing Volcano scent.  Oh, Volcano, how I love you.

I know I’m just one among many who is  obsessed with Volcano, and a couple of amazing friends have given me the wonderful candles as gifts.  But sometimes, I don’t want to light it (dogs/knowing I’ll forget to blow it out); and I’m a nut and don’t want to put it on a warmer because I think it will “waste” it. :)


Capri Blue Volcano from Anthropologie

(I’ve been using this super cute bowl on one of those cheap candle warmers…but the bowl doesn’t quite fit…so I ordered the cute melter shown above!)

So far, I’ve been mixing 1 square each of Scenty’s Camu Camu, Kahiko Hula, and Lucky in Love to make my Volcano “equivalent.” The Scentsy smells are a little sweeter than the crisp, clean Volcano, but close enough to make me happy on days when I don’t want to light the candle.  Coming home to a wonderful-smelling house is so nice.  (If I come up with a different combination, I’ll be sure to let you know!)

UPDATE! :) I added a square of Sunkissed Citrus to my above mix and it smells AMAZING!  It adds that bit of crisp-ness I was hoping for…Yum :)


So that was a long post to say, “I found a sale! Here’s what I bought!” :) Are you doing any shopping this Friday night?

Basil Cilantro Pesto

cilantro basil pesto

I want to eat this every night.

The recipe is from my new Veganomicon cookbook! (I have to find out about posting recipes from books. Are you allowed to do that for real?)

In the cookbook, it’s served with spinach linguine, which I didn’t have. I didn’t even have linguine, so I used penne and cooked some spinach with the pasta.  They also call for artichokes, which I didn’t have on hand, but it was so amazing as is!

The pesto is made with basil, cilantro, and almonds in a food processor or blender. The pasta is sautéed with thinly sliced red onions and garlic.  I added the spinach, too, and you sauté it all with the pesto.  It was so so delicious!  (Of course, I made it un-vegan by added some parmesan cheese on top!)

Are you cooking anything good this weekend?

Sending out some more love for Boston

Just want to send out some more love and support for Boston.  For all the people who were affected in some way.  When we went to Boston last year, it was absolutely one of my favorite places to go, and I can't wait to go back. So I just want to send some love and hope for everyone there!

(And sending a some love and support for all the flood victims in Chicagoland!)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Grounder in the Springtime

It may be cold, nasty, and rainy out…but each day, bunnies are being born.  And Grounder thinks it’s his job to chase them.

He gets out, runs around the neighborhood, and comes home soaking wet and covered in mud.


I found him the other day inside our neighbor’s fence. When I called him, he wanted to come to me, but he couldn’t figure out how he had gotten in there, so he whined, sat, and waited for me to rescue him.  I went to their gate to bring him home, but as I was figuring out how to close the gate again, he ran off after another rabbit.  Oh, Grounder.  This is just one of the many reasons you are a pain!


It’s a good thing you are so good-looking.

Oh yes, we have an electric fence. And I love it. But it was somehow not working for a couple of days and Grounder took full advantage of it.  (We’ve since gotten it working again by the trusty unplugging-it-then-plugging-it-back-in method.  And I fully blame Grounder for its not working. I don’t know how he could have broken it, but I blame him anyway!)

When he comes home muddy and wet, I don’t even feel bad about giving him yet another bath! That’s what he gets for running off.

Oh, Grounder.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Look for the Helpers

After seeing the tragic images of the Boston Marathon Bombings, and after all the other tragic events we've seen in the news in the past year, I found this quote and image to be very reassuring and a good reminder of how the good people of the world can help us overcome many obstacles.

(Thanks Facebook and the Huffington Post, for that.)

Friday, April 12, 2013

On Blogging: Why Do I Write and Why Do You Read?


Dear Blog Readers, Blog Writers, and General Internet Users:

What are we doing here?  I’m really just curious.

Here’s my story: I started this blog because I want to share the DIY-type projects/crafts/sewing/cooking/etc that I do. I am a glutton for knowledge, and as much as I value it when I seek and find it, I thought I should share it as well.  I definitely want to keep doing that.

But if you have ever tried to blog, it’s a lot of work! I’ve really wanted to do this kind of blog (or some form of sharing) since at least 2005/2006, (my friends know I am always DIY-ing things), but taking the appropriate (blog-worthy) photos and writing/summing things up into reader-friendly posts takes more time than you’d think.  And of course, real life gets in the way. Now that I have job and a little time to write, I don’t have as much time to do the actual projects. When I was full-time renovating our house, it was hard to find time to write (or maybe I just didn’t make it a priority and that’s my problem!)  In any case, I don’t see my blog turning into Young House Love any time soon.

What kind of blog is this, anyway?

And therein lies my problem.  What should I do with my blog? I can keep up sporadic posts and keep them fully along the lines of my DIY/Young House Love-esque projects (PS I adore Young House Love and becoming them is my real dream) or I can turn my blog into something a little more personal, where I share some more thoughts and opinions that lie outside the realm of everyone-friendly content.

And here’s what I mean: two of my favorite blogs, Young House Love and Cup of Jo, are run as full time businesses.  So even though all their personality shines through, I feel like you can tell that they are keeping everything friendly for the masses.  Just like I don’t talk to clients at work like I talk to my friends during a night of drinking, I know they aren’t always sharing everything think and feel in terms of keeping it light and clean. (Again, I am not downing them for holding things back – they are both amazing blogs and their professionalism is why I keep reading them!)  Because they’re both run as full time blogs, I feel like they have more time and energy to devote to this. 

Then there are more personal blogs.  I have a lot of opinions, and even though I’m honestly a pretty cheery person who likes to keep peace and thinks the whole world should play ukuleles together and pet puppies, I do have opinions and will share them out loud when asked.  I think I’m a pretty fun person (heh heh) who’s a good time to be around, but I’m not sure how some of my personality will come across on the Internet. (Like when I have to tell you how much my dog, Grounder, makes me insane. How when he runs away, I always cross my fingers that he won’t come back.  What’ll happen is you’re gonna want to chide me, but you have to remember that this dog has lived with me, in doggie luxury, for 9 years!! and I do all sorts of things to accommodate him…so that saying funny things to complain about him is really just a part of  pet ownership for me: a privilege I think I deserve for putting up with him!  I think this doggie video sums up how I feel about Grounder.)  And while there are times I LOVE reading snarky blogs, or reading posts with that sarcastic and dry sense of humor, I also know there are some blogs whose content I like, but I quit reading because of the blogger’s personality.  (Is that something that all bloggers, all writers really, have to understand will happen? I also hate negative comments on any blog…do I just have to prepare myself for things like that no matter what? And do my best to ignore it?)

(And, actually, I guess Cup of Jo and Young House Love are both really personal blogs as well…are their personalities just that great? Maybe! Do I think mine is? I don’t know!)

I also know that in Web2.0 (is that a term people still use?), blogging (and the Internet in general) is a source of vast information, and I don’t want to go back to the days when people though blogging was just a form of whining on the internet.  Whatever I do, I want to keep my blog informative and, hopefully, funny.

So what do you think? Do you want to know how much of a book nerd I really am? (Will I pretend that my blog is a modern Walden?) Do you want to read what I really think about tackling DIY projects? How I really feel about Grounder and what I do for him? Will you share doggie horror stories in return? Or should I try to keep it straightforward and professional, attempting to appeal to the larger audience, with how-tos and actual after pictures?  And keep the whining to myself…  :)

PS – I plan on unashamedly passing this post around so I can get opinions. I know that blogging is supposed to be social, and even though I am not the most social person, on the Internet or otherwise, I have enjoyed the feedback I’ve gotten from blogging! So even though I don’t often want to push my stuff in front of others, I’m going no-holds-barred on this one!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Tiny AeroGarden Update

Just a little AeroGarden update.

I’ve got tiny petunia sprouts! They’re hard to see with the humidity in the dome, but they’re there. I’ll be able to take the dome off of them soon, and then when they get a little bigger, move them into the AeroGarden with the basil.


As you can see, I also replaced my empty pods with some seeds to get them started.  I planted Italian parsley and oregano, then I’ll add cilantro when I move the petunias.

I planted the oregano using a “grow anything kit(though when I got it, you could buy just the grow sponges in a “refill kit”, and re-use the baskets and domes that you already have) and some oregano seeds from Menards.

oregano seeds

My basil is doing phenomenally as well. The leaves are getting nice and big!

big ol' basil in the AeroGarden

These guys are due for a pruning, but I’m trying to hold out till I have time to cook. I’m hoping to make a basil-cilantro pesto from my new cookbook, Veganomicon. :)

It may be rainy and gloomy outdoors, but I love that I can still watch my little garden indoors!

How’s spring coming along for you?

Monday, April 8, 2013

First Flowers

Is it possible? Has spring really sprung?

Here are a few flowers in my yard today! I got these bulbs from American Meadows and planted them last fall.

Some little daffodils…


And some tiny crocuses…



If it’s at all nice where you live, I hope you get to go out and enjoy it!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Butternut Squash Bisque

Oh, no. More soup.

I know that’s what you’re thinking.

I’m thinking, what’s the difference between a regular old creamy soup and a bisque? I should Google that.

For now, here’s a picture of the butternut squash soup I just made, following this Martha Stewart recipe.

butternut squash bisque

I did about a half batch since my squash didn’t quite total 2lbs and it’s pretty delicious seasoned in the bowl with some salt and pepper.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to report on the dresser soon. Waiting for paint to dry is pretty boring.

I also realize that all my soup pictures look the same. I should really start watching/doing the camera classes I bought from Shoot Fly Shoot.

I’ll get on that.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Mushroom Zucchini Soup

It seems spring might actually be here finally, but the long winter kept me pretty excited about soup.  Well, I’m always excited about soup. :) So, here’s another recipe.

This soup is diary-free and pretty tasty.  I love my potato soup, and my roasted red pepper soup, but this one was good for a change. It’s pretty simple, and so nice and warm to eat. :)

mushroom zucchini soup

I tried making this recipe a while ago…and it turned out great, until I added the tablespoon of red pepper flakes.  Then it was just too hot for both Brian and me! So I tried it again, a little differently.

I got out mushrooms, onions, and zucchini.

yum! veggies for mushroom zucchini soup

Chopped them up and cooked them.

mushroom zucchini soup in progress

With a  LOT of minced garlic.

lotsa garlic

I added broth, let it simmer, then pureed the whole thing, to make a delicious soup.

mushroom zucchini soup, pureed

Here’s the recipe.

You need:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp butter (I was just being fun and using both. You could use one or the other)
  • 1 large onion (about 3” in diameter), chopped
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic (or in my case about 2 Tbsp of minced)
  • about 8oz (or more!) sliced mushrooms
  • 2 – 8” zucchinis, sliced
  • 1+ quarts of low sodium chicken stock (I did 1 qt. + 1 cup, because that’s what I had on hand!)
  • dash of seasoned salt (I use Lawry’s) and some salt
  • 2 Tbsp flour (mixed with hot water) to thicken, optional
  • dash of cayenne pepper
  • some fresh basil

mushrooms and zucchini

(Here’s the order I cooked it in, but you could do it differently. That’s what’s fun about soup! It’s hard to mess up…(unless you add too much hot pepper!))  :)

Heat the oil and butter over medium heat, then add the onions. Cook for about 5 minutes while you continue chopping. Add the garlic and mushrooms and cook for about 4 minutes while you keep chopping. Add the zucchini and cook for about 8 minutes. (Keep stirring!)

Add the chicken stock (you could use vegetable stock, too!), and add some seasoned salt and regular salt.  Bring to a boil (over higher heat) and then reduce to low heat (2 or 3 on my electric stove) and simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Once everything is soft, use an immersion blender to puree the whole soup.  To thicken it up a little bit, mix 2 Tbsp of flour into some hot water (so there are no lumps!), add to the soup, and let it simmer a little longer.  Add a dash of cayenne pepper for fun, and some chopped fresh basil for deliciousness!

mushroom zucchini soup

I love soup year-round, but in the winter it’s especially good! :)  Are you getting sick of soup or do you still love it like I do?

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