Bits and Pieces #7

1.  My husband is an enabler………he knows my weakness.  Hello my name is Theresa and I have a problem.  I love PEEPS!  My kids always received PEEPS from the Easter Bunny and they did not even like them very much.  Bad bunny!

Peeps

2.  Went shopping at Joanne’s last Sunday and picked up some material for a couple of new projects.  Here is a sneak peak.  Any ideas what I might be making?

fabric

3.  Everytime I go to Joanne’s I stop by to drool over watch the Husqvarna Viking Embroidery Machines do their magic.   I really, really, really want one of these.  This time I even picked up some brochures and brought them home.  Maybe if I lay them around the hubby will take notice and surprise me someday.  You think?

Viking-Husqvarna-Sewing-Emb

 

4.  Although I have had my spring chalkboard up for a LONG time, it seemed to take forever for spring to finally arrive.  Hopefully it is here to stay now.

Spring-2014

 

5.  In less than 24 hours I will be undergoing the last of my four joint surgeries!  I am very much ready to conclude this journey I started four years ago.  I have many plans and goals to pursue and I am READY to get started.  However, those first 3-4 weeks post surgery are excruciating for me.  Sure, there is pain and mild physically therapy torture but that does not hurt me as much as the dependency on others and inconvenience to my normal schedule and activities.  To say that I have a lack of patience is a little bit of an understatement, so if you hear a little (or a lot) of whining for the next month, please bear with me, I will get over it!  See you on the other side!

Never-said-it-would-be-easy

 

 

 

 

 

 

Small Gatherings|April|Brunch|Cinnamon Rolls

Last Sunday was stormy, cloudy and the perfect day to stay in and host a brunch for friends.  We started with a fun Bloody Mary Bar that included the usual vodka and Zing Zang.  For the adventuresome who preferred to build their own we added tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce and pepper.  Toppings included lemon and lime slices, celery sticks, green olives and jalepenos.  Yummy!

 

BM-Bar

Although this was not an Easter brunch per say, I could not resist adding some fun napkins folded in the shape of bunny ears.  There are many tutorials out there in blog land to show you how to fold these.  Here is a link to the one I used.

Bunny-ears

table-setting

When I host a brunch I frequently purchase a Honey Baked Ham because it is SOOOO easy and most everyone enjoys it.  The serving instructions suggest just bringing it to room temperature.  Could it be any easier?   Dave also likes it because we usually have enough leftovers for his lunch for an entire week.

 

Honeybaked-Ham

Our friends pitched in with a couple of savory egg casseroles, some muffins and amazing individual cherry cheesecakes.  I also used this occasion to make a batch of my mom’s cinnamon rolls.  When I was growing up, my mom made bread every Sunday and I never once saw her use a recipe.  I also do not recall ever seeing her measure ingredients.  My sister inherited this baking gene and she is always in charge of hot rolls on holidays.   A few years before my mom passed away I had her tell me her recipe and I wrote it down.  She said she was just guessing on the measurements.

Nena making cinnamon rolls

I have only tried making these a few times and they have turned out differently every time.  They tasted fine but they did not measure up to my mom’s or even my sister’s cinnamon rolls.  I will keep trying though!

Iced-Cin-Rolls

Here is the recipe if you would like to try also:

Nenas-Cinnamon-Rolls

For a printable version click Nena’s Cinnamon Rolls.

 

Goodbye to Eddie

A moment of silence please!  In a few days we will be saying good-bye to Eddie, a valued contributor to our family for over twelve years.

Eddie

When he first came into our life our daughters were only only 17, 14 and 10 years old.  Eddie accompanied us to many music lessons, dance class, swim meets, cheerleading practice, work and countless trips around town.  He taught two of the three girls to drive but they each felt he was a little too big and not really “cool” enough for their taste.  He did not take this rebuff personally though and continued to accompany us to work and even on vacations.  He moved all three girls into dorm rooms, and other dorm rooms, apartments and other apartments and back home again.  He has gently carried the wedding dresses of two of our daughters on their special days.    He even professed his love for our Kansas City Chiefs by prominently displaying their logo on his license plate for all the world to see.

As Eddie got older he spent more and more time resting in the garage and letting the younger whipper snapper take on the day to day operations.  He was only called on for those really hard days when his special skill was very much appreciated.

Explorer-snow

The day he met his maker was dark and stormy.  He was performing flawlessly as usual, keeping our youngest safe from violent winds and hail.  Boy was that hail nasty looking…..

Hail-storm

It was just too much for Eddie to bear.  They told us it was a total loss.  The cost of surgical repair far out- weighed the quality and value of remaining life.  It was best to let him go.  Farewell to our 2002 Eddie Bauer Ford Explorer.  You served us well!

And hello to you sweet young thing, you have any plans for the next ten years?

New ford edge

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company.

 

 

 

Countdown Redo

You would think I am ready to give birth with all the “nesting” that has been going on around here.   I am pretty sure it is related to the event that is going to happen in less than two weeks.  A couple of months ago I mentioned I was on a countdown for  knee-replacement surgery.  What I have not mentioned is that the weekend before my surgery I came down with an ugly virus.  It seems that dr’s do not like to cut you open when you are running a fever.  It was probably for the best since I was feeling pretty rotten, however, since my ortho doc is scheduled two months in advance, I had to wait eight weeks to get on his schedule again.  So now I am in countdown mode once again.

One thing I have been doing in preparation is “refreshing” my master bedroom.  Not really redecorating, just switching some things out and spring cleaning like crazy.  No drawer or closet is being spared!  Since I live in a two story house, those first few weeks after surgery I will be spending the majority of time in my bedroom so I do not have to climb my full flight of stairs too often.

stairsjpg

It is not such a hardship staying in my room with my favorite recliner, a 40″ HD TV, Netflix, my laptop, kindle, and a small refrigerator in my closet.  However,  it will not be a vacation by any stretch of the imagination.  I am already having nightmares about those dreaded white compression hose.

post-knee-surgery

The pain isn’t much fun either, hello happy pills!  I figured anything that can help brighten my mood during those first two weeks is a good thing, so I started by ordering a new duvet from pottery barn.

PB Essential Duvet Cover & Sham

I am typically someone who likes to decorate using lots of color.  However, for my bedroom I was thinking  about keeping it very neutral and calming.  The walls are painted my go-to color, Sherwin Williams Trusty Tan and the woodwork is painted white.  There is one slight problem with selecting this white duvet…..I have a black cat who thinks my bed is her bed.

Sleep-on-bed-2

I may regret this decision down the road but the good news is that this duvet can easily be thrown in the wash.  I will probably also keep my handy 3M lint roller in my nightstand drawer.  Oh the things we will do for the love of a family pet!

I also would like to get some new curtains, a couple of new lamps and a few new things for the walls.  Do you think I can get all this done in less than two weeks?

 

Tea Time

Our small town boasts one of Missouri’s top rated Tearooms as ranked by Teamap.com.  It is actually the only tearoom I have ever visited but based on my experiences here I would love to visit others.  It is located on the lower level of Henry’s Antiques and Collectibles, both of which are housed in a former historic church.

ChurchOn Saturday, I meet a group of friends for lunch, tea and great conversation.  As soon as we were shown to our table, we were provided with hot peach herbal tea and a shortbread cookie.

Tea

On this particular day, there were four entrees to choose from, each described in detail by our server.  All selections included rustic potato soup, a croissant and a salad with vinaigrette dressing.  A few in our party choose the Spinach and Bacon quiche.

Quiche

A few others choose the chicken salad.

chicken-salad

The portions were just perfect for lunch and everything tasted wonderful.  After the entrees were cleared, we were shown the dessert tray.

dessert-tray

I am pretty sure I gained five pounds just looking at this platter.  Since dessert is part of the price of lunch we felt obligated to indulge.  No one really had to twist our arms very hard.  Our choices included Missouri Mud cake, Carrot Cake, Bread Pudding, Ganache topped Chocolate Cake, Susie Q cake and Tea Cake.  A very difficult decision!

Besides being a very enjoyable way to spend a Saturday afternoon,  I was inspired to add a Tea Party to my ever expanding list of entertaining options for my Small Gatherings Project.  Tea anyone?

 

Road Trip to Houston: Levi, Ikea and Food Trucks

The hubby and I took off a couple of weeks ago and headed south to visit  our daughter, son-in-law and this precious baby.  (I am not at all biased!)

Levi-in-carseat

We had so much fun watching Levi crawl and pull up on anything he could find, including Percy his dog.  Speaking of Percy, she has found a new favorite place to hang out, right under Levi’s high chair….there is always something to snack on!

Percy-with-cracker

While in Houston I had the opportunity to visit IKEA, something I have wanted to do for a long time.

Ikea

What a fun place……walls of dishes, candles, frames and about anything else you can think of.

Dishes

I need to find a place for these baskets in my house, love them!!

baskets

I may have found a couple of items that I could not live without and therefore had to bring home with me!  So excited for the Kansas City store to open this fall.

Our trip included an evening of music under the stars while enjoying dinner from Houston’s multitude of  food trucks. Our fare included Lobster Mac and Cheese, Tofu Enchiladas, Catfish Bites and Fish Tacos. Yum!

food-truck

food-truck-1

A really fun part of our trip was joining Levi while he attended the first birthday party of one of his friends.  I was able to capture him in a RARE moment of stillness.  I think he was watching the birthday boy walk all over the place and dreaming of the day he could do that!  I can guarantee it will not be long.

rare-moment

We had a great trip and I can’t wait to go back!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March | Lunch for Friends

I have a group of former co-workers whom I have known for about twenty years.  Although we no longer work together, we often meet to catch up on family, friends and discuss the “good old days!”   These girls know me well and I just love getting together with them.  In keeping with my goal this year of entertaining once per month, I decided to invite them over for a Saturday lunch.

table1

I kept the menu simple because for me the best part of entertaining is about connecting and conversing.   Sure, I also enjoy planning and making the meal a little special but it is the relationship building that means more to me than the fussy details.  I have often heard there is a rule in entertaining that you should not serve a recipe that you have not made before.  Most of the time I break that rule.  I enjoy trying new recipes as much as I like cooking for others so it is natural for me to marry those two interest.  Sometimes it works out, other times it does not.  Fortunately those relationships I am building over the meal are usually strong enough to overcome any culinary fiascoes.

Our lunch started with store bought Black Olive Hummus and Pita Bread.  I have not tried making my own hummus yet but have thought about it.  I am a huge lover of hummus!

hummus

For the main entree, I chose Caramelized Onion Quiche and a side pasta salad since they would be easy to make ahead.  I thought the quiche sounded great since it was full of caramelized onions and Gruyere cheese, what not to love.  However, the dish ended up being a little greasy which I had never experienced before with other quiche I have made.  I assume it came from the oil used to caramelize the onions.  The taste was ok but paled in comparison to my quiche standard, which is my mom’s hash brown crust quiche.

quiche

The Caesar Pasta Salad was another new recipe that I found in Good Housekeeping magazine.  This one was a keeper. It was full of fresh veggies, basil and a vegetarian caesar dressing.  Of course I forgot to take a picture of mine, but it looked pretty similar to the Good Housekeeping picture below.

caesar-pasta-salad-recipe-good-housekeeping

The final new recipe I used was for Mini Key Lime Pies.  These were really good and I think the hubby would agree since I came in the kitchen and caught him scarfing a few of these down when the luncheon was over.  I would definitely recommend making these simple, easy tarts if you are a fan of Key Lime pie.

mini-key-lime

The food was good but the conversation was great.  One item that came up in conversation was a story about a little boy who believes he is a reincarnated WWII pilot.  Maybe you saw the story about this on ABC’s Primetime, if not, watch this uTube video, it is fascinating!  I cannot say I have ever been a believer in reincarnation, but how in the world would this 3 year old  little boy know these things???

Talk with you later friends…….

Everything in it’s Place

One thing I have always loved about my master bathroom, besides the fact that it is very spacious, is that I have my own space.  My own sink, my own cabinets and my own drawers.  I have never been one to share very well.

MasterBath

I remember thinking when we built this house seventeen years ago that I would never run out of space.  How naive I was, I have since come to understand this age-old law of organization:

Organizational-Law

That has certainly happened around here so I have decided to start a dejunking/spring cleaning party at this house.  The first stop is the drawers on my side of the master bathroom.  Several years ago the MR. installed these kitchen drawer dividers after seeing similar dividers that my sister had at her house.  I love them.

Drawer1

drawer2

drawer3

On multiple occasions I have mentioned to the hubby that these same dividers would be great in my bathroom drawer but he never took the hint. Last week when I read on Simply Organized about some DIY drawer dividers from the Container Store, I decided to take matters into my own hands and I ordered two sets.

Drawer-Dividers

They arrived just in time for me to take advantage of a snow day and be productive.  I emptied my bathroom drawer, installed some pretty new liner paper and laid out the items from the drawer in groupings that I thought would work.

Groupings

The installation for the dividers is pretty easy.  You measure the length of divider you need (less 1/4″ for the mounting brackets), score the plastic strip and snap it.  Then you slide the strip into the self-adhesive mounts into whatever configuration you want.

finished-drawer

It took me about an hour to complete this project and I am SOOOOO happy with it.  Every time I walk by that drawer I open it and gaze inside.  There is just something about these divided areas with like items having their own space that takes this structured person to her happy place!

It only took one package ($17.99) to complete this project which means I have one left to tackle another drawer in this house, be still my heart :).

Tempering Chocolate|Chocolate Cups

When I was planning the dessert for our Valentine dinner I wanted something very special.  I tried to think back on the most memorable desserts I have eaten in restaurants over the years and the one that immediately came to mind was McCormick & Schmick’s Chocolate Bag.  It is totally a decadent treat that MUST be ordered if you ever eat at this establishment.

chocolate-bag2

Source unknown

The creation starts with a molded chocolate container in the shape of a small lunch bag.  It is filled with a generous amount of white chocolate mousse covered with assorted berries.  Pure heaven!  I knew that this work of art was way beyond my chocolatier skills but that did not stop me from doing some research and trying my hand at some chocolate cups of my own.

I found several sources of information and tutorials about working with chocolate and several mentioned “tempering” the chocolate which was something I had never heard about but as I read more I totally understood what they were talking about.  Have you ever dipped strawberries in chocolate and when the chocolate dried it looked grey?  Tempering chocolate keeps the cocoa fat from rising to the surface and “blooming.”  Tempered chocolate is shiny, glossy and snaps when you break it, it is the secret to professionally made chocolate.

According to the multiple sources I checked, there are only three steps to tempering chocolate.  It was recommended that you start with at least a pound bar or chunk chocolate.  I used Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet Chocolate baking bars.

1.  After breaking the bars into smaller pieces,  I put 3/4 of the chocolate into a metal bowl over a pan of boiling water (if you have a real double-broiler that is perfect) and melt it to a temperature of 109-112 degrees. (115-118 degrees for dark chocolate).

Double-broiler

melting

melting-point

2.  When the temperature is achieved, remove the chocolate from the heat and stir in the remaining chocolate which will bring the temperature down.  Keep stirring until the temperature reaches  84 degrees or less.

Seed-chocolate

3.  Then move the chocolate back to the double broiler and let the temperature rise again to 86-88 degrees (89-90 degrees for dark chocolate).   Now your chocolate is tempered.

At this point you must move fairly quickly to work with your chocolate while it maintains the perfect temperature.  If it drops below the 86 degree mark you can move back to the double broiler to gently warm it back up, but do not let it get above 91 degrees or you will need to start the process all over again.

Before I started melting the chocolate I had laid out mini muffin cups in a small muffin tin.

prep-papers

When my chocolate was at the correct temperature I used a small paint brush and painted the chocolate up the sides of the muffin papers.  I was working very quickly and did not stop to take pictures of this step in the process.  By the time I was finishing these twelve small cups the chocolate was getting too thick to easily paint.  This is what they looked like when I was finished.  Not perfect by any means, but you get the idea.

cups

I threw the pan in the fridge to let the chocolate harden.  In the meantime, I had lots of chocolate leftover so I moved it back to the double broiler and begin pulling out all the fresh fruit I had in the house.  Then I started dipping…….

Dipped-fruit-1

My oh my, this part alone was worth all the effort.  After about an hour I pulled the cups out of the fridge and easily pulled the paper off the chocolate.  I stored them back in the fridge until the night of our Valentine’s dinner then I piled each of them with fresh raspberries.  They were the perfect treat to eat alongside the White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake.

Raspberries-in-Chocolate-Cu

I need much practice to get this process perfect but I can not wait to try this again.  Next time I am going to use full size muffin papers, then make some raspberry mousse to go inside.  Maybe eventually I will even try those chocolate bags.

Sharing at:

Simple and Sweet Fridays @ Rooted in Thyme

Showcase your talent Thursday @ What’s Cooking Love

Foodie Friday @ Rattlebridge Farm

Six Sisters Stuff

Basil Pesto and Parmesan Palmiers

At our Valentine’s dinner party last week we started our evening with these light puff pastry appetizers.  A palmier is a french pastry that is typically served as a sweet cookie but when I came across this savory version at Pie O My that included pesto and parmesan I knew I had to try it.  It worked perfectly for serving at the party since I was able to assemble it ahead then pop it in the oven right before the guest arrived.

Basil-Pesto-and-Parmesan-Pa

Overall they were fairly simple to make and only required three ingredients…..the results were SO good.  I will be making these over and over again in the future.

Basil Pesto and Parmesan Palmiers

1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, thawed

1/3 cup of basil pesto

½ cup grated parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2.  Roll out the puff pastry into a rectangle on a lightly floured board until about 1/8 inch thick.

rolled-pastry

3.  Spread the pesto over the pastry.

4.  Sprinkle the parmesan cheese over the entire rectangle.

pesto

5.  Roll up one of the long sides to the center of the rectangle.  Repeat on the other side.

rolled-palmiers

6.  Slice the roll into approximately 16 pieces, each about 1/3 inches wide.  Place on the baking sheet.

sliced-palmiers

7.  Bake for about 12-15 minutes until the palmiers start to brown.

These taste great either warm or at room temperature.  Bet you can’t eat just one!

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