Hi everyone! Well, if these aren't the most glorious days. We've been hovering in the 60's with blue skies and very little rain. My tulips and daffodils are popping up like crazy. The dogs love when I head out with my camera to take pictures. I'm so looking forward to having an active summer with them here in the backyard and at the lake. Milo is really slowing down although he's physically doing super. He's a bit on the deaf side but I can identify. Sometimes he goes up and down the porch steps a little slowly so I think he really needs to strengthen up those hips and legs. As for me, oh yeah.
As I stroll around the Ponderosa, I see all of the projects and plantings I want to do this spring and summer, and of course, I see my problems. I have Creeping Charlie spreading near my shed. I researched it and all you can do is cut it out or make a small trench around it to keep it from getting out further. I have the usual bare spots to seed and a lot of mulch to add to beds. Strenuous work but the rewards all summer and fall are worth it. I can't wait to get my patio all fluffed, and then out there with some Sun Tea and a stack of books. Heaven.
One of my favorite houses in the neighborhood
We have some major work to be done on the front of the house. Our concrete porch, sidewalk and driveway need to be replaced. I have a mason coming tomorrow for a quote. I'm going to have new sod put down...I just can't seem to revive my lawn after almost losing it to grubs a few years ago. And I'm going to replace some shrubs and bushes. I'm pretty ambitious but I also have my work cut out for me at the lake.
I took Madelyn for a walk in her stroller last week and before I knew it we had been out and about for an hour and a half. So much to look at and drink in. She enjoyed the fresh air and I got some great ideas for the update on the house by looking close up at some of my favorites on the block and a few surrounding ones. The house above has always been a favorite; we have the same light brick and blue shutters although mine are a bit brighter. The landscaping here is much prettier when it's all in bloom and greened up. The stone edge around the garden bed is perfect and we have a huge amount of these stone pavers at the lake from previous projects.
While I'm giving you a little city tour you can see a bit more of why I love living here. Most of the homes in our area were built in the 1940's. If you go 10 blocks west you are going to see huge colonials built around the turn of the century. So many younger couples buy their first home in the neighborhood or area where they grew up. All of my kids did but for Abby, who is enjoying the upscale Northside life! Additions to homes to accommodate growing families and/or open up cramped spaces is pretty common. Curb appeal is very important here, it can make or break the sale of a home. I've always enjoyed doing yard work. Until my asthma became really bad and unpredictable, I always mowed the lawn myself and did all the trimming, edging, raking, etc. Now I have a service that does just the weekly mowing...I do the rest and it keeps the cost down.
While strolling with Miss Madelyn, I was also on a mission to look at the different sort of porches to choose from. I really like this one, the soft curve of the sides and the way each step rounds out over the next. I hope the estimate isn't crazy high.
This will probably be the last time we do a big update on this house. We've been here thirty-one years and at some point we have to see which of our three homes we want to settle down in. I love Asheville, but I could never see myself living in a condo full time. I simply love to be outdoors too much. The lakehouse makes me beyond happy. It can however, be a little too quiet during the week being secluded and away from the hustle and bustle of city life...that can get tiresome. Still, there is a lot to offer to full time residents; The Yacht Club, Gardening Club, The Kayak Ladies Group, and much more. Our town and the surrounding ones have a lot of shops, antique markets and restaurants. I definitely wouldn't become a hermit.
And finally this house here. It holds my heart. I brought my babies home from the hospital here. I've watched it change inside and out a thousand ways. I can make my way from one room to another without turning on a single light. So it finally comes down to what to hang on to. The Husband will probably retire in about two years. I'm proud that he had the foresight to make property investments, to me it was more of a 'good life' investment!
I've been playing with food a lot lately. As soon as I start getting serious about dropping weight, I begin with buying the healthiest, freshest food I can find and then inspire myself to cook by finding ideas for far from boring meals and snacks.
I fiddled with this quiche that you see above because I was just getting tired of my usual glorified baked omelet with cheese and broccoli. I wanted a good punch of flavor and vegetables that did more than add texture. The key was cooking up a few veggies for just a minute to let the natural flavors come out before adding to the egg mixture. Another overhaul was using small chunks of hard cheeses rather than the standard grated cheddar. What an incredible difference it made. You will like this for dinner with a salad and bread, and if you have leftovers, for breakfast.
Quiche with Roasted Red Peppers and Asparagus Tips
1 T butter
7 large eggs
3/4 c milk
1 c shopped shallots
1 c asparagus tips
3 green onions, chopped
1 c roasted red pepper (from the jar packed in olive oil)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 c of dry cheese such a Parmesan, Romano or pecorino, roughly chopped
A few pinches of dried seasonings such as thyme, tarragon or rosemary.
S&P to taste
Whisk together the eggs and milk. Set aside.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan and saute the veggies on low for about 2 minutes. Do not allow them to get limp. Whisk them into the egg mixture along with the cheeses. Stir in seasonings.
Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 and bake another 30-40 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Serves 4.
Emily is working from home since having Madelyn, and she is jumping on the planned meal bandwagon. She's a lot like me; I was never really big on cooking until I had a family. It evolved into a passion quickly as it opened up a creative side of myself that I didn't know existed. I hope she continues to explore her talents. She was raving recently about the way she had made Brussels sprouts the evening before for dinner. I had about a half pound so I got the instructions from her. They were outstanding. The Husband isn't too keen on these "little green balls", but we were fighting over the last one. Hope you try them!
Emily's Brussels Sprouts
1 lb. (more or less) Brussels sprouts, cleaned and bottoms trimmed off
2 T olive oil
1 c finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 t garlic powder
a pinch of red pepper flakes
Cut the Brussels sprouts in half lengthwise and place in a bowl or zip lock bag with the remaining ingredients. Mix (or shake) well. Spread evenly on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and sprinkle with the seasonings. Bake at 350 for about 1/2 hour, stirring once. Remove from oven when lightly browned and soft in the center.
I had to smile Saturday morning when I was catching up on reading blogs. My longtime friend, Lidy Baars from French Garden House posted about a lovely sandwich she made and enjoyed in her flower garden. The recipe followed and I sat up straight. I had made something similar the evening before on a whim.
I've been hearing so much about avocado toast, people swear by the healthiness of the avocado as a spread instead of butter or jam, all that protein and good fat I guess. I was intrigued but I wanted something more substantial. Out to the kitchen I went and this is what I came up with using what I had on hand. It was incredible. You can make your own version using what you have or like, and I think it's a perfect for a delicious summertime lunch outdoors, perhaps with some homemade sweet potato fries or baked carrot chips. Enjoy. And stop by Lidy's to see her version.
Jane's Toasted Avocado Sandwich
4 slices of good bread (whole wheat or thinly sliced French bread)
1 avocado, cut in half, peeled and pit removed
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Pinch of coarse sea salt
A few grinds of black pepper
1 plum tomato, thinly sliced
1/2 (more or less) English cucumber, thinly sliced
6 thin slices of mozzarella or Monterey Jack cheese
Mash up the avocado in a small bowl with the seasonings. Spread on two slices of the toast. Layer the tomato, cucumber and cheese and top with remaining slices of toast. Serves 2.
Daddy & Maddy: Warm weather grilling in the backyard
I hope you all have a wonderful week. Our weather looks great so far. Tomorrow I'm going to take Madelyn over to the university campus a few blocks away where everything is blooming and the duck are back at the pond. It's so beautiful there, I'll definitely get some more pics of 'my big little city'!
I also want to tell you that you can find me HERE on Instagram. I usually have a picture up every couple of days, I think you'll like it.