Wednesday, June 1, 2011

It's a Jungle Over Here!

Yesterday morning I was in the kitchen when I heard Bella run face first into the screen at the sliding glass doors. I laughed and went to check out what would make her forget the door wasn't open and there sat a baby bird, just staring her down!
It taunted her long enough for me to snap a few pictures, seemingly unaware that with a flick of my wrist, I could have unleashed the beast on her (or him).
We've noticed this year that the birds seem to be less afraid of us. A couple of weeks ago we saw a bird in the bushes by the front door that just watched us come home one evening, undisturbed by the people walking mere feet from it. I actually thought it was hurt till I noticed later it had flown away.
I guess there's a momma bird somewhere near our yard who has yet to tell her kids not to speak to strangers.
Then, this morning, as Chris goes to leave for work, he finds a groundhog hanging out on the front porch in front of the door! He lumbered down the steps and around the garage upon hearing our voices, but have you ever heard of such a thing?!
Something must be in the water here in Swedesboro.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Flowers Make Everything Prettier

I have an announcement to make.... (drumroll please)


This is what the house looked like on moving day:

And with the exception of the pesky hostas that sprouted everywhere the following spring it has remained largely unchanged.

As much as I love designing anything having to do with the inside of the house, I am left utterly clueless when it comes to landscape design. The best strategy I've got is "flowers are pretty", but with all the hostas, there was no where to put them. We have also neglected mulch for the last three years (yes three!) since you couldn't even seen the flowerbeds through the folliage.

Finally, after putting my back into digging up the majority of the most bothersome hostas this spring, when the ground was still soft with rain and before they got extra leafy, I have real flower beds again. Check them out.

On a $100 budget I bought 8 bags of much needed mulch, 2 plastic planters, a flat full of light and dark pink inpatients, and one coleus and mini petunia for each pot. Plus a couple of tomato plants since I can't seem to get through a growing season without hoping that this year, they'll be successful. I even ended up with $20 left over!

What a difference. It makes me so happy I look out the window randomly at my pretty pink flowers. This summer, I love my yard!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Welcome Spring... I Think

I love warm weather, so any excuse to shed winter coats and multiple layers definitely makes me smile and I'm so happy to smell spring in the air. One of the unfortunate downfalls of spring, however, is making me realize something I've pushed out of my head for three whole months; how awful my yard looks! I know I've complained about hostas before, and really, I'm giving them a bad rap, because they're not all that horrible. I'm just up to my ears in them since the last people to own my house seemed to think they were the be-all end-all of landscaping and put them everywhere. Last year I dug out 8 enormous ones that were smothering my AC unit. The first year we moved in I took out 5 or so that were planted around a dead tree. Now, over three years since moving in, I'm at it once again, hoping that I've started early enough to deal with the rest of them.
There were 18 of them randomly planted along my neighbors fence, and they had been placed so close to it that they were now growing under and around the fence. Even with the softened ground from all the rain we've had, they did not go quietly. One was so stubborn, it chose to die a horrific death; leaves and dirt strewn about like feathers surrounding a guilty looking feline. Yesterday I was a shovel welding superhero ridding the yard of evil, one hosta at a time.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Very Cool Commercials

It's almost that time of year, the time of year when millions of people settle in to watch the biggest commercial viewing event of the year... the super bowl. Now I'm sure Sherwin Williams doesn't have the budget or the proper demographic to justify a super bowl commercial, but as I was dwelling on the only reason I'll be tuning in to the game this Sunday I remembered my most recent favorite 30 seconds of tv interruptus. Take a look.

When so many of the commercials I see make me cringe, roll my eyes, or even verbally abuse my tv, it's refreshing to be awed by one. I love the concept, the colors, the progression of the animation and am even grateful that there's not a single line of dialog. I want to know every paint color on every swatch and find myself trying to read them as they go by. Crazy, I know, but I can't help myself, I'm a nerd for paint colors!

There's this one too, which I like almost as much as the bee.

Monday, January 3, 2011

A Grown-Up Dollhouse

Being more of a tomboy as a kid, I was much more intersted in climbing trees then playing with dolls, but how cool is this??

A real architecturally designed dollhouse that swings open, has tiny modern furniture available to furnish them with, and there's even these creepy dolls to live in the houses.
I get that they're supposed to be like the wooden drawing figures, but why the googlie eyes? They also supposedly have muscles that flex like real biscep and calf muscles. I guess so the doll man can invite the doll lady to the gun show?

Check out the whole inventory at Brinca Dada's website. It doesn't take much to make me happy. I don't actually want one; I built enough scale models when I was in school to not need to pay for another one to sit in storage. But I still think it's pretty nifty.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Wish Me Luck!

I know I've mentioned before how much I love Bakerella's blog because you've seen my attempts at her adorable cake pops. Well, not that long ago I saw her post about a cupcake contest hosted by Scharffen Berger chocolates where they give you a list of adventure ingredients to choose from and you must create your own recipe. Since I enjoy baking so much I figured 'why not?' and proceeded to do a trial and error experiment to see if I could come up with something worthy to submit.
The list of adventure ingredients are stout beer, ricotta, buttermilk, coconut butter milk or cream, saffron, molasses, adzuki bean, fresh beet, sweetened condensed milk, fresh or dried chili pepper, bee pollen, meyer lemon, almond flour, and sumatra coffee bean. I choose to use ricotta cheese and coconut cream in my recipe and I think it could actually be a contender, but even if it's not, I had fun playing in the kitchen.
The end result, and they were just as good as they look! If I do say so myself. So wish me luck, the prizes are pretty sweet!
Here's the recipe if anyone is interested in trying them out. And the site for the contest in case you're interested in doing some baking yourself.

Chocolate Ricotta Cupcakes with Coconut Ganache

3oz. Scharffen Berger 62% dark chocolate, chopped
1 cup unbleached flour
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
½ cup butter room temp.
1 ¼ cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ cup ricotta cheese
1/3 cup milk

½ cup coconut cream
3oz. Scharffen Berger 62% dark chocolate, chopped
toasted coconut

Preheat oven to 350.

Put chocolate in heatproof bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Stir till the chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove from water and set aside to cool slightly.

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside

Beat the butter and sugar in an electric mixer on medium speed until smoothly blended and creamy. Scrape sides of the bowl during mixing as needed.

On low speed add the melted chocolate till just blended.

On medium speed add the eggs one at a time, mixing till each is blended into the batter.

Add vanilla and beat until the mixture looks creamy and the color has lightened slightly.

Mix in the ricotta cheese until there is no white remaining.

On low speed add half the four mixture until it’s just incorporated. Mix in the milk. Add the remaining flour and mix until the batter looks smooth.

Let the batter rest on the counter for 10 minutes, then spoon into paper liners in a cupcake pan and bake for 20 minutes.

Once the cupcakes have cooled, put the remaining chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set aside. In a saucepan, simmer cream of coconut until it lightens in color and bubbles in the center of the pan. Pour over chocolate and whisk together until the chocolate has melted and is smooth. Spoon over cupcakes a few at a time and sprinkle with toasted coconut before ganache hardens.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Learning Something New

As many of you know, Mom and I recently undertook an experiment in re-upholstery. She had two wingback chairs, I had two more, so we decided we had nothing to lose in taking them apart and trying to put them back together again, only prettier. I think both sets of chairs were very successful, take a look at the process.

There you have it! Hopefully it's inspired you to some creative thinking of your own!