backgrounds

Friday, May 28, 2010

Clean v. Green

Have you seen this commercial?

It kind of grossed me out.  Ew.  Then I remembered, I don't do this.  I change out our bathroom hand towel every 1-2 days and use it to wipe down the counter at that point to keep things shiny.

I am a huge fan of these for the kitchen!  I don't buy them at Crate and Barrel because I am too cheap.  I was given a set of 8 by a friend and loved them so, I went out and bought another pack of 8 at the Home Place.  I change out my dishtowels at least once every single day, sometimes twice!



These are highly absorbent and hardy.  They hold up and once in a while you can throw all 16 towels into the wash with a little bleach and they come out brand new.  I think they make the kitchen look more fresh than the towels I have bought over the years with colors or patters that eventually fade.


What do you think of the Kleenex disposable hand towel?  Are you a paper towel hog?  Should we be more concerned about green or clean?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Egg in a bowl

I overheard my husband telling his mother "this is the coolest thing my wife has taught me" while teaching her how to microwave an egg.  Seriously, I am not kidding, and yes, I was insulted.  6 years of marriage and this is the most he has learned from me???

None the less, I though something of this great importance should be shared with our fellow blog readers.

This is what I eat for breakfast nearly every morning unless I am gorging myself on zucchini bread to try and diminish my zucchini supplies.  It is easy, it is fast and it gives me protein to hold me to lunch.  Most importantly, it makes a lovely little sandwich.

Step 1: Spray a glass or ceramic microwave safe bowl with cooking spray.


Step 2: Crack egg into bowl and whisk with a fork.

Step 3: Microwave uncovered.  I warn you, there is a perfect amount of time your individual microwave will have that will not leave white runny middles and not cause it to explode.  These are the times for my microwave, test your own.
              Plain egg: 45 seconds
              Egg with cheese slice: 30 seconds with egg, add slice, 22 more seconds.


Step 4: Have a sandwich thin or english muffin toasting while egg cooks and voila!

Disclaimer: I did not invent the method.  I learned it from my parents who learned it somewhere else.  Now its going global ;)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Counting

This picture is awful, taken with my phone, so I apologize in advance.


Despite the low quality, I am excited about these numbers.  I drew them up for my 2 year old.  It is our first real experience in learning to count.  If you have a toddler you know- there is a very big difference between counting and understanding numbers mean something.

He has been asking me to see his grandmother and cousin, so I decided to use this to show him how days count down.  Each morning we pull one down and count how many days are left until we see our family members.

What have you been teaching your little ones?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Confessions of a New Gardner


I confess, I neglected my garden this weekend.  Watered it Friday, didn't see it again until Sunday after the kids went to bed.  The poor plants looked limp but then I lifted up the huge zucchini leaves and saw more than I knew what to do with.

We came out Monday morning with a basket to collect the harvest and this is what we had!


Five HUGE zucchini and one good sized cucumber.  And I picked another of each this morning!  So I have been searching high and low for zucchini recipes.

I have already made a few loaves of my favorite zucchini oat bread.  I split the flour 1/2 white to wheat and the sugar 1/2 sugar to Splenda.  I love it slightly warmed with a little butter.  It freezes wonderfully and makes a nice gift.

We have been eating zucchini sticks with red pepper hummus like its going out of style.  I didn't know zucchini was so tasty raw.

Last night I made these instead of french fries to go with our mojo chicken sandwiches and they were tasty.  The rosemary gave them just enough kick.

I plan to give a zucchini fritatta a try tomorrow as well as sausage stuffed zucchini boats and zucchini pancakes.   I am especially excited about this zucchini breadmaker recipe for a non-sweet loaf.

Ultimately I think I will need to start giving it away like hotcakes or I will likely tire of zucchini and never touch it again.  For now though, I am delighted.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Coffee Tables

I was browsing on Pottery Barn's website (amusingly enough under the "affordable" section which was not according to my definition of affordable,) but lovely things.

I really liked the variations they were presenting to the traditional coffee table.  I've always had my living room set up like this:

What do you think about two little tables instead?  I feel like it offers flexibility.  Not sure why I need flexibility, but I think I like it.


Here is the same table done each way:



Or my favorite, nesting benches!  I can see they'd be a little difficult to scoot around if you are a table scooter.  But having an extra table/footrest/seating that just slides out seems very practical.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Blame the Babies

If you have noticed, some of our blog contributors have been posting more or less, and if you are tired of hearing from me...well blame the babies ;)  KM is still learning the ropes of new mama-hood and Lindsey is starting a doula business.  Babies have caused some wonderful distractions for our bloggers.

This got me thinking how neat it is that we have 3 contributors on this blog with much in common, yet some very notable differences.  And these differences show up crystal clear in our approaches to birthing babies.

Lindsey has actually begun a business offering doula services and helping women learn how to focus and discover the resources women uniquely have to experience the birthing experience naturally.

KM wanting to give natural birth a serious try and took the 12 week Bradley birthing classes to make sure she was well prepared for the task.  She was also aware that if she eventually wanted an epidural, that would be fine too.

I (JoyfulImperfection) felt sure I could give birth naturally if I cared to, but didn't feel compelled to do so.  Once serious discomfort set in, I ordered an epidural.

So no matter where you fall in your approaches to babies or life, we hope you enjoy our blog.

And if you are interested in exploring the much more natural approach to labor and delivery, check out Lindsey's site: Mother Rising Doula Services.

Or if you just want to read about other women's birth experiences from across the spectrum, check this out.  One of my favorite bloggers featured birth stories and the like throughout her pregnancy.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Summer BBQ

Have you taken the time to read the June issue of Martha Stewart Living yet?  It is all about food, food, food!  My husband came to bed at midnight or so and I was sitting up in bed salivating over page after page.

Spending the large majority of my life in Florida, I am perplexed EVERY YEAR when I receive summer magazines that say it is time to start grilling.  In my mind, grilling is a Jan-April activity.  The idea of doing anything outdoors in 100 degree weather and 100% humidity sounds pretty miserable.  Then you add the task of standing over a fiery grill and face it, you are describing a scene from Dante's Inferno.

But with pictures like these, even I might brave the grill this summer...or at least ask my husband to do so!


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wednesday confessions and a heart attack

I know it's not Tuesday, but I just had to show you what came out of my garden and will be on my table for dinner.  Exciting isn't it?  Can't wait until there are fresh tomatoes to make a cucumber tomato salad.  For tonight I'll use the store bought variety.  The basil is for pesto to be served with sauteed mushrooms and cheese like quesadillas.  The zucchini for sauteed zucchini with onion.

While I was out there I saw this in my flower bed, nearly gave me a heart attack as I grabbed my two year old and threw him over my shoulder.
Then I realized it was just a skin.  We thought maybe this guy had vacated the property since we hadn't seen him this spring.  I don't mind him as a neighbor, he quickly scurries away when we open the door and he eats rodents (maybe he'll deal with our mole problem?)  But still, gives me a fright when I'm not looking for him.  This was after I pulled it out.

And a confession for good measure: I learned from Southern Living yesterday what it means for a plant to "bolt."  The nursery lady told me it was too late to plant lettuce or it would bolt.  I seriously just figured that meant the root system would pop out of the ground, bolting away from it.  Apparently not.  When a plant like lettuce or basil begins to flower, it is called bolting, and it means the leaves will toughen and not longer be good for eating.

Shower Floor Complete!

I have finished my shower floor, what do you think?

It almost looks brand new!  Very worth the effort.  This is not a difficult job, just tedious.  It requires you to plan to be out of your shower a week to do each stage correctly.

1- Acid wash floors (or use a grout de-hazer)
2- Remove caulk
3- Stain the grout.  I found with small tile it helped to use small, damp squares of an old tee-shirt to wipe the stain off the tile because anything bigger dragged spreading more stain or removed it from the grout.
4- Apply new caulk.  I bought this tool and it worked like a charm!
5- Seal grout as many times as necessary so I won't have to do this again any time soon!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Confessions of a New Gardner




This week in the garden was super rewarding, look at all the things that have begun producing fruit and blooms?

Cucumbers, these popped up all over the place in just a couple of days!

Zucchini - I actually cut this guy off and ate him with dinner.  Yummy.

I was beginning to think my zinnias would never flower, but here is a little bud.


Cherry tomatoes out the wazoo!  It seems these should be ready soon don't you think?

Lots of big fat tomatoes too.


This week's confession?  I have NO IDEA when to harvest these things.  Especially the cucumbers.  I bought little plants, don't even know what kind of cucumber they are.  They might be little 3 inch cukes, or 18 inch.  Guess I'll just pick them at some point and if it tastes terrible, let them keep going.

Either way, isn't this a rewarding endeavor?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Picture Perfect

I have more time on the weekends to "browse."  You know, sit in a comfy chair and miander down the metaphorical aisles of Flickr or Etsy or read a magazine cover to cover without feeling too guilty.

As I wandered I came across a very gifted photographer, you should check her out.  So far as I can tell, she is not selling her stuff.  I wish she would.  This was my favorite and I want it to hang on my wall with 3 others.  Not sure where I'd have it printed because I love the effect she has given it with rough edges and imperfections like a really old piece.

I also found this in the May issue of Southern Living.  These pictures are arranged as equal sized photo copies.  I love that some are perfectly cropped, some have white space and some (like the sailboat in the middle) are a single print split among multiple frames.

Friday, May 14, 2010

My first harvest

I made my first dish using something fresh from my garden and it was both exciting for the garden's sake and super delicious.  Kind of pretty too, don't  you think?

For the chicken:
One pound of boneless/skinless chicken breast, pounded and cut into strips
One egg and a splash of milk
1/2 to 1 cup of Italian seasoned bread crumbs
Olive oil

For the Sauce:
1/3 cup of fresh basil from your garden :)  chopped or gently ripped
1/2 cup of white wine (or you can use chicken broth)
1 cup of half and half (I will probably cut this with milk next time so it's not so rich)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp dry crushed red peppers
1 garlic clove minced
1/2 can diced tomatoes (preferably seasoned with basil and garlic - can't wait until I can do fresh tomatoes from my garden instead!)
Pepper to taste.

Pasta- I used whole wheat spaghetti

Bread your chicken, then pan fry it in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil until cooked through, set aside in warm oven.
Meanwhile begin boiling water for pasta.
In separate pan add one tbsp olive oil, saute tomatoes and garlic.
When chicken is finished, add wine and red pepper flakes to chicken pan scraping bottom of pan, bring to boil.  Add half and half, bring to boil stirring, turn down and add cheese and pepper.
Just before serving add basil and tomato mixture to sauce and serve next to or over chicken and pasta.

Just before serving

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Laundry Room

I have a super ugly...or at least boring...laundry room.  I have thought about painting it some really fun color.  I considered offsetting the cabinets with white paint and stenciling some cute saying on it.

But then I saw this adorable print and thought, what if I decoupaged something like this on each door?


Or another


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Spring Cleaning Revisited

I tackled a task today that should be on my annual spring cleaning list every single year, but I'm not making any promises.  If you have a tile shower with tile floor, you probably are in the same boat.  (Note, this isn't my shower, but it sure is pretty.)

As often as I clean and scrub, over time my grout has discolored as has the caulk.  The caulk is much more concerning as discoloration means mildew, mildew means moisture and moisture is the very thing the caulk is supposed to be sealing out.

So I got out my handy tool and removed the caulk, removed the shower curtain and bought a new one, and acid washed the floor.  If you've followed our blog, you know what is coming next.

I couldn't bring myself to show you a before picture (ew!) but afters will follow.

PS- Another confession, I have not yet tackled the other things on my spring cleaning list, have you?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Confessions of a New Gardner


Did you notice today's blog got a new subtitle?  Confessions of a new gardner, and here goes my first confession and I'm a little embarrassed.

You see, as people have come to my home, I have proudly included my garden as part of the tour.  I have pointed and named each group of plants.  I had a tour to give this weekend that was of particular pride and importance.

Each year my husband's grandfather sends me tomatoes from his super garden when my in-laws come down or brings them to the house when we go up because he knows how I love "real" tomatoes.  So I could not wait to show my garden to my father-in-law this weekend so he could go back and brag about my awesome tomato plants.

As I am pointing out each thing, he reaches down and pulls up one of my precious pepper plants right from the roots!  I was a little stunned, and politely replied that this was a pepper plant.  He gingerly pressed it back into the soil and apologized.  Then, gently told me, "That isn't a pepper plant, it is crab grass."  I explained they came up just where I had planted seeds and he graciously suggested we take the one he already killed and bring it to the nursery so they could determine, and if it's not a pepper plant we could buy some.

So...we came in and I took out my seed packet and looked carefully at the plant picture which looked absolutely nothing like the crab grass growing in my garden.  The crab grass I had carefully thinned, watered and fertilized.  Not to mention weeded around (I'm thinking the 'weeds' I pulled might have been the pepper plants.)  Yep.

So- no worries, I pulled them up and that night my husband and F-I-L bought me a red, green and yellow pepper plant.

Any faux-pas in your new garden?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Etsy

So I guess I'm a loser.  I didn't know about etsy until like yesterday.  You probably have, but just in case, think of ebay or amazon for home-made, unique, artsy coolness.

Here is my pick for today.  Love this.  Want it.  Wish I took the picture.

Tallahassee Parade of Homes

I feel a little like I have failed you Tallahassee readers.  This past weekend was the Tallahassee Builders Association Parade of Homes and I did not mention.  Do not fear, you have one more weekend to get your fill!

Unfortunately, the current state of the building market has made it tough for builders to risk building half million dollar houses with no buyer, so the pickings are certainly slimmer.  (And my two favorite builders aren't participating,) but there are still houses to see.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Master retreat, out of doors

We stayed in a condo recently that were placed in a circle back to back.  You would be looking into your neighbor's back yard if it weren't for a very well planned courtyard.  It was such a lovely little retreat.



Just a small simple place, but private and sweet.  I sat out there listening to music and reading and was able to totally escape.  

If I built a dream house, I'd want a private porch or courtyard off of the master bedroom.  Isn't this one lovely too?


Friday, May 7, 2010

Lighting

I recently tackled this pile of magazines.  Shame on me, 4+ months of magazines had collected and it was time to let them go, so I sat down one night and cut out pictures I loved, recipes I want to try and trashed the rest.

As I shared earlier, I really think light fixtures can make a room.  I imagine when you are building its an easy area to skimp when there are so many costs, but the statement is rivaled by little else.

Check these out from Alice Lane Home Collection.




Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Celebrating a special date

When my husband and I were given a yard plaque by my father-in-law when we got married that had our name and wedding date.  It was a very thoughtful gift, not to mention good insurance.  He told my husband, "If you ever pull in the drive and that date is today, put the car in reverse and go get her something nice."

Here is a really cool spin on the same idea.
These come from www.framethedate.com  and have clever variations for other events.  Check out these sweet baby birthdays.


I keep debating between ordering one for an upcoming wedding or driving around town like a crazy person looking for cool number signs to photograph.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tuesday Tending - Week 5


Lately my favorite part of working in my garden has been the smell on my hands afterward.  Did you know tomatoes have a very particular scent on their leaves?  It's lovely, and it doesn't wash off easily so it's a good thing I like it!

The biggest negative is I have fire ants.  Oh how I loathe fire ants.  I suppose I have chosen to live in the wrong part of the country for such loathing.  Now I need a non-toxic way to kill them.  Spilling poison pellets into my veggies seems like a bad idea.

Now for pictures:

See the little green plant in my logo above?  That was my first little zucchini plant.  Now look at them!  My garden bed is looking like a zucchini patch.  Believe it or not the bed is 4' x 8'.  Serious zucchini!

When I bought my little bitty tomato plants I asked the lady at the nursery what size cages I should buy.  She suggested medium and my husband insisted I think positive and buy the largest they had.  Good thing.

And even more rewarding is all 6 tomato plants have fruit growing on them!  Little cherry tomatoes first, then the 2 larger varieties.



How is your garden growing?  I'd love pictures, put a link to your blog in the comments please...