Saturday, April 30, 2011
So I decided to take a little break from working on the flower bed on the south part of the yard to try to get the roses cut back before they really start growing. I thought it would take me a half of an hour to cut all the stems back and I'd be done with it. Little did I know....
I had to "dig" to find the ground and the base of the bushes so I knew how short to cut them!
Not only were the rose bushes ridiculously overgrown, but the with the 7+ years of dead leaves piled on top of the ground in those beds the ground cover had started to overgrow the base of the rose bushes just so that they could get light and air too. It's a much bigger mess than I imagined.
It took me an hour to clear out this area that's about 3-4 feet wide and about 5 feet to the wall. When I saw how much farther than down the wall this expanse of rose purgatory went I decided what I aught to do is try to do a little on each side of the yard, every time I was out working. WOW, talk about underestimating a job. Though I'm learning quickly this is what I should be expecting with this yard.
I also decided to clear out the branches my father-in-law cut down and cut back the other bush, since that seems relatively straight forward.
Slowly but surely this yard is coming together.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Don't you love how the staple for regular left overs is usually to make something like meatloaf or casserole? But what do you do when your leftovers are fruit? I've never heard of a "casserole" for fruit. True, you could make Kitchen Sink cake or muffins (basically a yogurt cake with your fruit cut up and mixed in), but with delicately flavored things like peaches, the flavor kinda gets lost in the baking process.
I happened to have some canned mandarin oranges and pineapple and some coconut milk left over from making a chicken curry dish, and some plums my husband bought to put in his lunches but the end decided not to eat since they "taste funny." So I decided to try making a tropical plum pie. It turned out pretty well, though the "tropical" kinda didn't come through as strongly as I hoped. I think I would definitely serve it with vanilla or coconut ice cream next time, though. ☺
So without further ado, the pie that my husband has decided to name "Plumble Pie"......
This pie takes a few days to make but any one whose made pie crust before knows that you have to leave it in the freezer over night, right? Also, be forewarned there are two kinds of coconut milk, light and whole, just like regular milk. It is important to make sure you get at least one can that has separated and is heavier on one end. Please don't shake this one!
Pâte Brisée Crust:
2 cups of flour
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 whole egg
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2-3 tablespoons very cold water
6 medium sized plums cubed
1/2 cup cubed canned pineapple drained & cut into slices
1/3 can of mandarin oranges drained & halved
2 cans whole coconut milk
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
pinch of salt
3-4 tablespoons crème fraîche
1/4 cup powdered or confectioners sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1/4 cup fridge cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1. Take your can of coconut milk that's more heavy on one side and cut your pour holes into the top and pour out the water. Since this part is also flavored you may choose to do something else with it. Then using a can opener cut the top open so that it can bend back. You should have a coconut goo left in the bottom of the can. Go ahead and push the top of the can back down most of the way and set aside for a day or two so that it can dry out a little. You need it it be more like the consistency of sour cream so that it is spreadable. (If you live in a warmer climate I would try it in the fridge, but the drying process takes longer).
2. Make the crust: a pile in a mixing bowl of the flour, salt and sugar. (You can sift them together, I would if I had a big enough sieve, that's my next kitchen purchase, I think). Make a well in the top of the mountain and add your egg there. Add the butter, cut into pieces (or you can break it apart with a fork in the bowl as you work the dough), and work the mixture until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the water and blend quickly using your hands. Work to firm dough in bowl until a smooth dough has been achieved. (you may also choose to turn it out onto a floured work surface once initial kneading is done if you are not comfortable working in the bowl). Work into a round shape then wrap completely in cellophane and place in fridge over night.
3. Preheat oven to 400˚. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to about 1/8" thick. Fit to a 9 - 10 inch pie dish (about 1 1/2" deep). Trim or fold over edge and crimp as desired. Pierce bottom several times with a fork. Cover edges in tin foil. Line crust with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or if you, like I, don't have them just use dried beans. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove weights and paper, then bake for an additional 5 - 8 minutes, until it starts to turn golden brown. Remove from oven and place on rack or trivet to cool. Remove foil and set aside, and reduce oven temperature to 375˚.
4. Make filling: Combine cut up fruit in a mixing bowl and add 2-3 tablespoons of coconut milk, salt and sugar. Toss these together then let sit for 15 minutes.
5. Make Streussle: Sift or mix together sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Using a fork cut the butter into the mixture until it resembles bread crumbs. Set aside.
6. Make spread: In a bowl combine your slightly dried coconut goo and your crème fraîche.
7. Coat the bottom of your pie crust with your coconut spread. Then sprinkle about 1/3 of your streussle on top of that. Next stir your filling one more time to make sure your parts are evenly mixed and place your filling next into the crust. Spoon dollops of your remaining spread onto your filling, then coat with remaining streussle.
8. Recover your edges with the foil. Bake pie until crème fraîche is bubling and streussle is golden brown, about 50 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a rack or tivet before serving.
9. Drizzle with coconut milk or serve with coconut ice cream.
*This pie is messy like a cobbler and does not hold it's shape on the plate very well, unless it has just come out of the fridge.
Anyway, hope this little endeavor inspires you to come up with your own solution to fruity leftovers. *^^*
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
So, I know it seems like I dropped off the face of the planet for a week and a half, but the blood donation I gave ended up as anemia. I bore you with the details of the ordeal, just know that I slept a lot and didn't really feel like doing much, because I was so dizzy most of the time. I will say that after while I got a real longing to go out and work in my garden. Last Saturday I went outside and happen to see this:
My father-in-law, decided to help me out by cutting the rest of the large branches of the bush I was working on., This makes, in part, my job a little easier. However I will still have to clean up the rose bushes and hopefully will be able to pull out the branches that are folding down the top of the wooden fence. ☺
I was able to go out on Friday and do a little bit of weeding. I was able to get rid of the horrible crop of grass that was taking over my little square-foot garden boxes. In the process I made several interesting discoveries.
That some of my lettuce greens that had survived the winter were actually other plants like a broccoli, and that two of my radishes had also survived the winter, although they were very woody at the bottom, and kinda dry so we decided it best not to try to eat them. How funny.
I also in my daily little walks outside, to get some air, I realized that in looking at the beds that those bushes were in I had caught the vision of what I would like to do with them. This got me really excited. I started imagining, wattle towers with trails of morning glory and clematis.
|Wattle Tower by DAVID CAVAGNARO|
I could see where some ground covers needed to be placed and how I wanted to shape and define the path. I was so excited. So I decided that I needed to map out and and sketch my ideas.
I know that this sketch doesn't really do justice to the plan I have in my head (besides not scanning very well). But you get the general idea. The archway would have a wisteria vine growing on it and I would be adding rose bushes, as well as the ground cover and some wild flowers too.
Well, I'll keep dreaming away until the rain lets up here. Happy Tuesday.
Monday, April 25, 2011
Happy Easter everyone! Hope that you were all overstuffed with chocolate bunnies and jelly beans. We went to my folks home and I couldn't help thinking about the vitality and growth of the season.
My mom's yard had tulips, daffodils, violets, forsythia and more. It helped me to think about the real reason so many celebrate this special holiday.
It helped me appreciate the special message and gift humanity was given, and helped me to appreciate my own testimony of the Savior.
Friday, April 15, 2011
So yesterday I went to my church's blood drive to donate blood, and as a result was sentenced to bed pretty much for the rest of the evening. I don't usually have quite as severe tiredness afterward as I did last night, but because my hemoglobin count was 16.5 and I weighed enough, I was asked to donate what they call "double reds."
(WARNING: If you, like my husband, feel light headed or blackout at the mention of blood, blood donation, or any discussion of the process there of; have a fabulous day, I'll see you tomorrow. If not, you have my permission to proceed....)
I any case, it was quite the experience. They actually draw blood from your body into a centrifuge machine, that spins your blood and takes out what it needs then re-injects the remaining liquid plus a saline solution back into your body through the same tube. I hadn't done it before and so I asked tons of questions as they were doing it, like: what does it feel like when it comes back; does it hurt more, does it incapacitate you more, etc. It was actually really weird feeling the fluid go back into my arm, because it was at that point the same temperature as the room, and it was cold! The tech said that the body runs hotter than room temperature so that the liquid returning "feels" cold when in reality it wasn't. (Although he told me that they do keep the room temperature lower than normal too, in order to prevent people from passing out). I ended up having to ask for a blanket, something I have never done in all the times I've donated blood. I proved once again that I babble when I'm nervous, or to cope with odd situations. The tech and I chatted about traveling, what he wanted to eventually do, his skydiving adventure this summer, places we would like to visit and the "horrors" of international travel with small children. (At this point one of his fellow techs had come over to process the double blood of the guy that had been on the other side of the machine from me, and she had more internationally, than he had).
I felt bad for the tech because for some reason with me he couldn't get the bevel that they use to position the needle "just so" to withdraw and re-inject the blood was vibrating while it was "sucking" out my blood. It was like a straw that had too much air and it was going almost with a pulse. He tried everything, and ended up having to hold the tube when it would go through a withdrawing cycle to help it vibrate less. I joked that it felt like my arm was an engine that was revving...but (an my husband would be proud) it really felt more like a sports car with racing cams at idle.
Overall, even though it was kinda weird, I would do it again if they asked. The tech told me that the minimum weight requirement though is 175 lbs. in women. So, if all goes well, and I reach my goal of 135 lbs, by the end of the year, I probably won't be asked to again no matter how high my hemoglobin are.
I'm glad that nature permits me to be able to donate blood and that I am able to help other people.
PS: I'm was at 182 lbs the last time I checked on Tuesday! 7 lbs lost since January.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Ever realize how fun and funny making sugar cookies with a 3 year old can be? I never did either until yesterday, when Mirna helped me make the sugar cookies dough left over from her birthday party on Friday.
We had fun picking out the cutters she wanted to use and she even designated who was to eat what shape from the first batch out of the oven.
Here she decided to try and roll the dough out herself. She was a lot more forceful and abusive with the dough than I thought she would be.
I taught her to keep her hand flat when I handed her the cookies to put on the cookie sheet. Sh had started out pinching them between her fingers and they would fall apart halfway to the sheet.
I also had to show her how to press hard enough that it would cut the dough and not just leave an impression.
She even picked up some smaller pieces that had not stuck to the main ball and tried to press and shape them together like I was doing in prep to roll it out again.
Oh, they're done!
PS. We got our first order on the etsy store after posting the new stuff! Yay!
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Previously I hinted that I would be showing you something to do with an Ikea Billy bookcase. I'm afraid to disappoint you if you thought I was going to "re-vamp" one with paint or something but I think you will be pleased with me all the same.
It has been said that "Cleanliness is next to godliness." This I am inclined to agree with, as it seems a house of order and cleanliness is also a house of peace and tranquility. Besides it's so much more inviting right? Here is my case in point:
Enter my livingroom, since we've moved back to my father-in-law's basement apartment, it has managed to look and function more like a storage unit than a functioning reception and lounge area. We have slowly sorted and thrown out a good deal of things, and continue to go through the stuff we still have boxed. However I decided that I needed to have a livingroom. Especially since we had guests coming this last Saturday and well there just wasn't enough room to sit four comfortably in that room. So on with my quest.
I purchased a Billy bookshelf from Ikea that matched the one we already had, but at half of the width so as to fit between my husband's sub woofer in the corner and the window on the other side.
Now those of you that know me, also know that I collect books and love to read. So In addition to the small library shown originally on the bookshelves, I also had several boxes of books on the floor. Needless to say I felt they deserved a home too.
|(sorry for the bad lighting and blurriness)|
Here is what we have after sorting and arranging the books alphabetically by author, yes, by author. (I feel it relevant because I have several books by the same author and it would be silly to organize them by title if I know that they were all written by the same person...simple logic, but I digress.....yes I know I am a bit OCD when it comes to my books). It is also important to note that my library is always in a state of flux, we still have one box to sort through and I have about four stacks of books 1.5' high next to my night stand. Books that I wasn't sure whether to keep or donate, so I will read them to help me decide.
Here is the teak bookcase that you saw in the original photos, all cleaned, sorted and redressed, in a much more pleasing manner. I also reorganized, our photo albums, magazines and family history research, so that it is most easily grabbed when we want it. I am especially proud of the second shelf of the book case, which I discovered was a bit too short to accommodate most books, so I spray painted some baskets I had, that were just collecting dust, and turned them into easily accessible bins for my Etsy store stuff. Over all it just feels nicer, and I find it more pleasant to sew in there now.
I hope that your week is proving to be as unusually productive as mine has been. ☺
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
For those of you that watched the LDS General Conference this last weekend, you will undoubtedly know what quote was my favorite!
"I was living up in Canada. I had purchased a farm. It was run-down. I went out one morning and saw a currant bush. It had grown up over six feet high. It was going all to wood. There were no blossoms and no currants. I was raised on a fruit farm in Salt Lake before we went to Canada, and I knew what ought to happen to that currant bush. So I got some pruning shears and went after it, and I cut it down, and pruned it, and clipped it back until there was nothing left but a little clump of stumps. It was just coming daylight, and I thought I saw on top of each of these little stumps what appeared to be a tear, and I thought the currant bush was crying. I was kind of simpleminded (and I haven’t entirely gotten over it), and I looked at it, and smiled, and said, “What are you crying about?” You know, I thought I heard that currant bush talk. And I thought I heard it say this: “How could you do this to me? I was making such wonderful growth. I was almost as big as the shade tree and the fruit tree that are inside the fence, and now you have cut me down. Every plant in the garden will look down on me, because I didn’t make what I should have made. How could you do this to me? I thought you were the gardener here.” That’s what I thought I heard the currant bush say, and I thought it so much that I answered. I said, “Look, little currant bush, I am the gardener here, and I know what I want you to be. I didn’t intend you to be a fruit tree or a shade tree. I want you to be a currant bush, and some day, little currant bush, when you are laden with fruit, you are going to say, ‘Thank you, Mr. Gardener, for loving me enough to cut me down, for caring enough about me to hurt me. Thank you, Mr. Gardener.’”
--Hugh B. Brown (January 1973 New Era)
Sorry, I actually looked for the condensed conference quote, but have yet to see the transcripts of this weekend to posted on lds.org. I loved that quote not only because it was the precursor on an amazing object lesson on accepting that God has a greater plan for you than you do yourself, and that sometimes not getting exactly what you want and when you want is a blessing in disguise. It really was one of my favorite talks, I think because it might be one of the things that I most needed to hear. Just maybe.
The other reason I loved it, was because it was a perfect way to allay my husband's fears about my recent back yard venture. Look at the photos and see what I mean.
I know that I haven't finished, yet. However, I'm finding at this point it's a matter of figuring out, rather like undoing a knot, which branches to cut and pull out first in order to easily pull out the others after it. Unfortunately, the climbing rosebush on the other side of the fence and the branches on the back half of the bush are so intertwined, that I have to piece out the branches, one by one, and brace myself pulling with all my might sometimes just to pull it out from between everything. Thankfully with each one the mass thins. ☺ It's a happy thing.
Anyway I can't wait until I can get this bush done because I would like to still be able to tackle the other bush nearby, the rose bushes on the other side of the yard and some of the black berries before the growing season gets into full swing. (not to mention the cleaning, weeding, and transplanting I'm going to have to do, too). Now worries. At least every little bit of progress I make helps me out for the next season.
Anyway, wish me luck!
PS: I've lost 7 pounds since my yearly in January! Slowly but surely!! Here is a teaser for the project I'm working on inside the house.