Friday, July 29, 2011

Summer Snacks I Love

Since I am spending the better part of my days at home, I'm finding a lot more time to cook and make delicious treats. Here are some favorites that I have discovered:

Yogurt Parfait
I have only eaten plain Greek yogurt (with a little honey, granola, pecans and craisins) for about a year now, and plain regular yogurt for about 2 years before that, so when the boy made this for brunch at his mom's a few months ago, I wasn't sure about it at first. I am now ENAMORED with it. So light and delicious and refreshing...perfect for a hot summer day!

1 large container of low-fat vanilla yogurt
1/8 - 1/4 cup lemon juice (to taste)
1/8 - 1/4 cup honey (to taste)

1/2 cup each of your choice berries (frozen or fresh), sliced bananas, mandarin orange pieces, really, any fruit you want, granola.

Thoroughly mix yogurt, lemon juice and honey. Add any fruit you like. I use raspberries, blackberries and mandarin oranges. Pop it in the freezer for a few minutes, then sprinkle a little granola over top. Pure. Heavenly. Bliss

Roasted Chicken on the Grill
It's much too hot to use the oven or really the stove, so I took a whole chicken, cut the backbone out (that was a whole experience in itself...weirded me out a whole lot because it kinda felt like I was holding a baby at first. I don't do well with raw chicken, but that can be a whole other post on its own) so I could flatten it on the grill. Make a baste of lemon juice, butter, salt, pepper and whatever herbs you like. Throw it on the grill, skin side down, let the skin crisp and then turn the heat down (or move to a cooler part of the grill) and let it cook through. Great that day, for sandwiches the next day, making chicken stock, all sorts of good things. Deeeeelish!

Stuffed Roasted Tomatoes
I LOVE summer tomatoes! Scoop the guts out, and chop them up. Add crumbled, cooked bacon, parmesan cheese, a little spinach, finely minced garlic and onion, bread crumbs, salt, pepper. Put the mixture back into the tomatoes, and bake them until the topping starts to crisp. So dang good! I think I may make those for dinner tonight...

Grilled Sweet Corn
Corn in husk. Grill. Peel it, add a touch of butter, salt and chili powder. Per. Fec. Tion.

Lemonbalm Berry Mint Tea

This my herb garden. The bushy plants in the bottom left are lemonbalm and chocolate mint. And they are getting way out of control. In an effort to use them up a little, I came up with this tea:

Gently grind about a cup of lemonbalm and mint (2:1 ratio) in a mortar and pestle. Add to 1 qt water, bring to a boil. Remove the leaves, let it cool and add honey to taste. Strain into a pitcher, add raspberries and blackberries (I had some left over from my yogurt parfait), mash the berries gently and add ice. Super refreshing, and it's such a pretty pink color!

Man, I'm getting hungry...

Thursday, July 28, 2011


Over the past couple of days, I've had to get out in the hot hot heat and weed my garden. Let me just tell you, this is a recipe for disaster: a couple days of rain + a couple weeks of sun - any sort of weeding = a damn jungle! I've kept it watered, but I get so anal about the tiny weeds that aren't doing anything. Because of that, I have just let the weeds grow, so that I would have something to actually pick. It's a very satisfying feeling, ripping up a handful of weeds and tossing them into the waste bucket. Not so much when you have a shoot the size of a tiny screw with one sad little leaf on it.

So I let them go...for about 3 weeks. To let them grow. Not to mention the fact that it's just been hot as hell, and I get eaten alive by mosquitoes the second I set foot in the backyard (P.S. Those OFF belt clip fan doo-hickies are a big, fat, non-mosquito-repelling lie!). A couple of days ago, I decided to suck it up and get out there. Well, was I in for a surprise! 5 hours (over the course of 2 days) and 15 buckets of weeds later, it's finally clear. Mostly. I've decided I'm not going to deal with the ones that aren't directly around my veggies. I will say this though. Conditions that are ripe for weeds to grow are also pretty dang good for the veggies to grow too! I have tomatoes, cucumbers and okra all putting out fruit! I can't even wait for the cucumbers...just the vines smell so delicious, like I need to make myself a cucumber martini, STAT!

Yummo for fresh produce :-D

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Hang It Up!

All righty. First attempt at being crafty was completed about a week ago. I still had several boxes/bags left to unpack (still not quite done yet, but that's neither here nor there!), and one of the bags was full of all my jewelry. I tend to go for long, chunky necklaces, funky bracelets and long I'm sure you can imagine the shitshow of tangled pretty things in that bag!


Well, the boy had an old shadowbox picture frame, and I have been checking out all sorts of crafty websites and I kept coming across picture frame jewelry holders. So, I figured, "This looks like a pretty easy project, good beginner level..." Yeah. If you kinda have some inkling of what you are doing. Which I didn't. But that was okay. I sanded it (with my new best tool friend, the orbital sander), spray painted it, put some hardware cloth in the door for my earrings, put some pretty cloth on the back and hung it up. It may or may not have taken me 5 days. Probably should have only taken 2, and that's just to let the paint dry. It took longer, I effed up the paint on the first attempt, I got a lot of help from the boy, and I cried a little bit (but that was only because I didn't get a job I really wanted and the jewelry holder wasn't working out how I wanted it to. It was just the straw that broke the Amber's back that day), but it's done, it turned out purdy and it's something that I made!

I did learn a few lessons though:

1) When the warning label on the hardware cloth (which isn't really cloth. It's galvanized wire, sort of like chicken wire) says to wear gloves, do it. That shit will scratch you up good if you're not careful.

2) If at any point you will be sanding and then painting something, use tack cloth to clear off the sawdust. And then make sure that you don't set the tacky spray painted items on the sawdust. Kinda defeats the purpose...

3) Cup hooks are a bitch to install, especially if you put them close together. An inch apart is a much smaller distance than you may think, when you have a lot of long, chunky necklaces.

The dreaded cup hooks...
4) Spray painting small areas with stencils is a terrible idea. I couldn't attach the stencils to the surfaces, so the paint ran all over the place. I ended up having to get a new background cloth (JoAnn Fabric cloth quarters were PERFECT for this use) and spray painting the sides blue and then creating texture with a sponge. I actually like the way it turned out better than the stencils.

It was nice to be able to hang it up in my bedroom and know that I can make things for myself that I like!

Aaaaand after...

Up next: 8 foot picture frame holder and building a deck on the house!!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Adventures in Domesticating

Okay, so here's a little about me...

My name's Amber and I am not really crafty or into DIY projects, I am 2 weeks into my funemployment (by choice, changing career fields. I'll probably get into that whole process later...), I love to eat and I'm not a huge animal lover. I recently moved in with the boy (my beau, Danny is a chef, but hates to cook at home), who wants to be the king of all things handy and our two sweet, but slightly crazy pups. He watches the DIY network for funsies (although I did get him started watching Pretty Little Liars this season. Score for me!), and most nights I will find him fiddling around in the basement with some wood and tools.

In my world, if something breaks, you call someone to fix it. You need new furniture? Go to the store and buy it. Or don't and go without. But those are really the only two options. In the boy's world, when I say, "Hey we need a laundry hamper with a lid because the dogs keep chewing up my undas at night" (Yup, that's what I call my unmentionables. Don't even worry about it), he says, "Oh, we can make that. I'll build the frame and you sew the liner." Even though he's NEVER done it before and I DON'T KNOW HOW TO SEW!!

So, given the fact that I've got a lot of time on my hands, I'm not trying to drop tons of money for new stuff, and because, at heart I really want to be cute and crafty and handywoman extraordinaire, I'm trying tons of new things. We built a fire pit in the back yard. I've started a garden for the first time. (Most of the veggies I started from seed have died, but hey, it's a learning experience and I will have an AMAZING garden next year :-D)

Two projects currently in the works: Shadowbox jewelry holder, and 8 foot picture frame. As I go, I'll share what I'm doing, what I've learned and try not to hurt myself too badly in the process!