I can't believe we are almost into June. I'm really happy to say that in spite of the fluctuations in temperatures and the amount of rain we've been having, I've been able to make progress in my yard and garden beds. My darn back has made it a little difficult and I'm sure I'm doing a lot of lifting and bending in the absolute most wrong way. Although I'm not looking forward to physical therapy, I think there's a lot to learn and I'm pretty grateful for that.
I did my 'not so fun' work first; Pulling weeds, reseeding, mulching and general clean up. I really wanted to put some of my fun decorative pieces out on the patio but I was potting there and it was a mess. Finally I moved everything out to the picnic table and spiffed up the deck and my baker's rack. The Husband and I bought this monster at Nordstrom's Rack about 15 years ago when we both worked in downtown Chicago. We threw caution to the wind and parked in the alley where we pushed and shoved and maneuvered it into the back of his Aviator. I never thought it would fit but he's an optimist. It used to be pale green but its seen better days. Someday I may paint it. Or not. I found the little cabinet next to it at a second hand shop years ago. My late sister, Leslie, helped me paint it. My first project like that. Anyway, I had fun playing. The only new thing I have on here is the little plant on the top shelf and the green pails on the second. I don't know what on earth I can do with those...any ideas? Or just leave things alone? ;-D
We have a 3 foot roof overhang in this corner where the patio is tucked into. Sometimes its a nemesis, especially around the corner where I have a long garden bed. It doesn't get the rain so I have to water it. But here, along the patio, my baker's rack stays dry.
I've been longing for lights along the house in this area and last year my SIL called me when Target had a clearance on the ones she has that I LOVE. I got 3 twenty inch strands for $7.98 each. Ladies, wait for those end of season sales! I'll try to get a good shot soon.
Little Layla loves exploring anything new, like the mulch. She also lounges in the sun in my herb garden, smashing my baby plants. Good old Milo loves a warm patch where I have newly planted grass seed. In this picture you can see the German Ivy which is pretty much a ground cover. I covered a lot with the mulch but it will snake its way back up.
When I was in Vancouver a few weeks back, I was really loving the salads that were not so average. I really adore my veggies but I'm always looking for ways to jazz them up and make them anything but boring. On the afternoon I ventured out alone to shop I had lunch in a restaurant called Cactus Cafe. I ordered a salad very much like this one and I wrote a list of the ingredients as I ate. I came home and naturally didn't get around to making it for awhile. Finally I did last week and followed up with another version a few days later.
The salad is surprisingly simple and the beauty is that you can switch out the protein (meat) or skip it all together. Veggies can be substituted depending on what you have on hand. The key is to have all of the ingredients at room temperature except for the dressing. Anything hot will wilt the lettuce and you will have a mish mash.
Chicken Quinoa & Veggie Salad
1) 2 c cooked and shredded chicken breast
2 cups of mixed lettuce or baby greens
2) 1 1/2 c cooked quinoa
1 t olive oil
1 t melted butter
3) 1 T olive oil
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 T capers
1/4 c almond slivers
1/4 c roughly chopped red pepper
1 c English cucumbers, sliced
1/2 c feta cheese
Place the vinaigrette in a large bowl and top with lettuce. Do not toss until ready to serve. In a small skillet, gently heat up the olive oil and add the garlic cloves, capers, almonds and peppers until barely softened. Remove from heat.
Toss salad and arrange 1/2 the lettuce mixture on a portion of a plate, then top with 1/2 of the chicken. Sprinkle almond topping over and garnish plate with cucumber and feta. Add a pinch of S & P.
Salad with Sirloin Slices, Rice Noodles and Fresh Veggies
This salad is much the same except I substituted beef strips which I cooked in vegetable oil over very high heat just to sear. After removing them from the pan I wiped it clean, added a tad of butter and added 2 medium carrots, chopped fine, 3 cloves of garlic, chopped fine and 1 small shallot, peeled and chopped roughly along with a scattering of slivered almonds. The salad was tossed with a store bought Poppy Seed dressing (I use Marie's). Thai rice noodles cook up quickly and after draining and cooling, I jazzed them up with a variety of spices and a splash of olive oil.
Dress your plate as in the recipe above. Arrange raw zucchini slices and roughly chopped red pepper all around. Sprinkle S & P over to taste.
Both of these salads serve 2.
I've only made it reading through the first chapter of this book, Cravings, which consisted of the most decadent breakfast recipes ever. The bad thing about being an avid cookbook reader is that you get veeeeeeery hungry. I'm wanting to make every recipe I see, from the Spicy Tomato Skillet Eggs with Prosciutto to the Dutch Baby Pancakes. Each recipe begins with a few comments and Chrissy Teigen is seriously down to earth, honest and funny. How she keeps her body looking so great when she cooks like this is a mystery to me but she is enthusiastic about full on flavor, and makes no apologies for the 'comfort food factor' in so many of her recipes. I also like that the dishes aren't really complicated nor do they have ingredients that you have to go to Dean & Deluca in NYC for. The pictures are simply gorgeous as well. As soon as I choose a few breakfast recipes and have the ingredients on hand, I'll share.
Emily watches Elsie on Thursdays and last week we got together and went to our favorite plant nursery. You have all 'been there' with me seasonally for my flowers, pumpkins and Christmas trees. We had a really great time. I could see Elsie's eyes taking in all the pretty colors and she loves to gaze into people's faces. She really makes everyone smile.
As we walked around I mentally put together my pots and selected plants. Emily seemed to be in a daze. That's not like her, she always has a plan. Always. I asked her what was wrong. "I'm overwhelmed, mom. I just can't think." I believe her. She's in over her head with work and then meeting clients in her free time. Trying to continue with the yard work and designing the baby's room. I told her to go get a cart of her own and I would take care of Elsie. We poked around inside and out of the shop and after about fifteen minutes I ran into Emily and her overflowing cart. It didn't take long for her to get her mojo back!
2 days ago Emily had another ultrasound and at sixteen weeks the doctor was pretty sure he could tell the sex of the baby. Emily and Mike wanted to have a gender reveal party but unlike Kevin and MC, where the results were called in to a bakery and the cake had a tinted filling (pink or blue), they opted instead for finding out the gender right then and there, having the party and surprising all of us, family and friends with a box filled with helium balloons (pink or blue). I believe that was the biggest run~on sentence in the history of run~on sentences. Sorry. I couldn't believe she was going to keep me in the dark as well. My daughter! The one I carried for 9 months, gave birth to without an epidural, who cried herself silly for 8 straight weeks until she figured out what her thumb was for. So I made these cupcakes for dessert. Grrrrr...talk about loyalty.
I was astounded when I saw the pink balloons fly out of the box and sail away into the evening. I really thought it was going to be a boy. I'm not sure why. I'm so, so grateful that this time has arrived for Emily and Mike and a grandson would be awesome. I have a special bond with my daughters and since Emily, my firstborn, told me she was pregnant it has taken me back time and time again to that magical moment when the doctor told me, "You're going to be a mother!" I remember everything after that moment vividly; a cool fall day, getting in my car and driving across the bridge to my hometown almost in a daze, straight to my own mother's house. A passing of the torch then and now.
One thing I do have to watch is how often and long winded I reminisce about those days. Giving advice and opinions. I had no one to help me physically but my mom and sisters were a phone call away. That was perfect. It can be so irritating to hear people talk about how things were back in ''their day'. I just don't want to be that person. If my kids need my help they can ask.
So these are very exciting days. And definitely filled to the brim. I have my little health issues but there is no room for slowing down. I try to schedule appointments and run errands in the afternoon so I can write and look at emails in the morning. When I really have time I have to unsubscribe to a few dozen of these websites. In the evening I try to work on visiting blogs.
We are hitting the home stretch at the lakehouse but I still couldn't venture to say when it will be finished. I get a very uneasy feeling when I think of that moving van coming back with all of our belongings. Will everything be in good shape? What should I keep or give away? How long will it take to unpack and rearrange? What will we have to replace? I was talking to my sister in law at Emily's party and she asked if we needed help. I wanted to cry. I simply haven't wanted to ask for help because people have so much going on in the summer as it is. I've often thought as well, don't ask family for help, they will say yes because they feel obligated. I don't want to do that to anyone.
Well, I have some flowers to plant in the front yard and it looks like it's going to rain so I'm heading out. Abby and her boyfriend Tom are going on a short vacation to San Diego tomorrow so she's coming here tonight and we are treating ourselves to a pedicure. Man, if you could see my heels!
Hope you're having a great week!!!