Thursday, May 29, 2014

Top o' the muffin to ya...

Caroline commented on my Greek Tortellini Salad post recently that she had bookmarked it to try.  That gave me a giggle, as at that very moment I had a printed copy of her Banana Date Muffins recipe sitting out on my counter, waiting for me to have time to get them made.  I love that about blogging...'meeting' people you would never otherwise run across, and sharing ideas, experiences, and, yes, recipes.  

I adjusted the recipe to substitute for my lack of brown sugar and self rising flour.  My adjustments are in parentheses.

Mix together wet ingredients:
·        2 bananas...overripe is best
·        1/2 cup vegetable oil
·        2 eggs
·        1 tsp vanilla extract

Stir together dry ingredients:
·        3/4 cup soft brown sugar (I used white sugar plus 2 Tbsp molasses)
·        1/2 tsp cinnamon
·        1 1/2 cups self-rising flour (I used all purpose flour plus 2 tsp baking powder)
·        ½ tsp salt
·        1 tsp baking soda
·        4 oz chopped dates

Mix wet and dry ingredients just till combined.  Fill muffin tin and bake.  

(I had five smallish bananas to use up, so I doubled the recipe.)

The first batch I baked at 300° F, which is the conversion I figured for the Celsius temp listed in Caroline's recipe.  I'm not sure if my conversion was wrong or if my oven thermostat is off.  They spread out a lot and fell.  But they tasted really good...maybe a little too sweet...I may have measured inaccurately as I was doubling the recipe. 
These look like cookies on a cookie sheet, huh?  Nope those are my muffins.

I turned the oven up to 350° F and tried again.  The second batch turned out much better looking.  I will definitely be making them again.

And now, in honor of Caroline's fun 'beauty empties' posts, I present... empties.  I used up the last of each of these items making these muffins.  Will I buy them again?  Why, yes.  Yes, I will.  :)

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Today I...

...emptied the dishwasher
...cleaned out the refrigerator
...worked on decluttering my closet
...assembled a big box of clothing to donate
...cleaned the toilet
...washed towels
...took a test
...lost my temper with customer service on phone a purchase to be returned 
...loaded the car with donations to drop off, box to mail, library books to return, and sewing machine
...drove to the city
...took sewing machine to repair shop
...mailed return item and a bill at the main post office
...dropped off donations at Goodwill
...took two Advil
...drove back
...returned library books
...changed the bed
...washed linens
...folded towels
...swept the sidewalk
...stashed some empty boxes in the garage
...texted cartoon to former boss
...looked up a youtube video on how to put quilt in frame (it's been a LONG time)
...and welcomed home hubby...yes...I only work this hard right before he is due home.  :)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Salad days are here again...

I do believe that Carey is enjoying my unemployment.  It means I have more time and energy and desire to cook at home.  He usually does the clean up after dinner (though I clean as I go, so there isn't a terrible mess left as a rule).  Every night this week, as he was cleaning up, he happily announced that he had another meal packed to take to work.  They have a cook at work, but he prefers to take leftovers from home.  That makes me smile.  :)

A couple of days ago, I found a recipe for Greek Tortellini Salad at Two Peas and Their Pod that looked so good.  I had most everything, but I picked up some tortellini and olives while I was out yesterday.  
Don't these gorgeous vegetables make your mouth water?  Yummmmm.


Ingredients for Salad:
1 (20 ounce) package refrigerated cheese tortellini
1 1/2 cups grape tomatoes, cut in half
1 large cucumber, chopped
1 cup kalamata olives, pit removed and chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

Ingredients for the Dressing:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the tortellini according to the package directions. Drain the tortellini and rinse with cold water.

2. Place the tortellini in a large bowl. Add the tomatoes, cucumber, olives, red onion, and feta cheese.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper. Pour the dressing over the salad and stir until salad is well coated. Serve immediately or place in the refrigerator.

Note-this salad will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.

This recipe is directly from Two Peas and Their Pod.  I deviated from the original recipe just a tiny bit.  I doubled the recipe, because I wanted leftovers for home and for Carey to take to work.  I added cooked chicken breast, because I had some ready in the fridge and because the guys like some meat in their pasta salads.  I also increased the minced garlic in the dressing...I was out of extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar, so I had to use light olive oil and apple cider vinegar, so I thought the extra garlic might up the flavor a little.
Oh my!  It is ready and in the fridge waiting for tonight's supper.  I can't wait!

What I'm reading Wednesday...

The Catcher In The Rye by J. D. Salinger

I figured it was time I get back to reading some from my 2014 reading list.  I'm about halfway done.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Relocated and re-appreciated...

This is my laundry room.  I love the size.  I love that it has a sink.  And that's about all.  

What aggravates me is that this is the first impression everyone has of my house, because no one EVER uses the front door.  When anyone comes in, on the left they walk first past the water heater (not in photo)...then the water softener (also not in photo)...then the small chest freezer...not to mention the washer and dryer on the right.  It's an appliance alley.

I also have an antique hall tree parked in here, because there isn't really an appropriate spot for it elsewhere in the house, and my husband thinks he should actually get to use it...imagine!  I think it was my gift to him on our tenth anniversary.  It looks completely out of place in here, and so that aggravates me too.

The laundry room looks a little better than usual  tonight though.  Why?  Because this morning there were shelves there that made it look even messier.  They were there when we moved in, and they were nice and sturdy, but...

This is where the shelves were this morning when, on my way out the door as I left for work, I mentioned in passing to my husband that I would really like him to move them to the guest room closet sometime.  No hurry. 

I wonder if I was out of the driveway before he had the tools out?  Sometime I really need to do a blog post about the theory that opposites attract, because that man is a do-it-now dude, and I am a procrastinating Pearl.

When I got home tonight, I walked right through the laundry room without even missing them.  He had to tell me that they were already installed in the closet...see?  Awesome, huh?

I am tickled pink to have a space that is less public to use for organized storage.  The closet already had the tall built-in shelves in the center and up high on each side.

And it still has plenty of room to hang out-of-season or guests' clothing.

So one last look at the laundry room:
I'm thinking it needs a makeover in the near future.  Maybe I should mention THAT to my husband.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

What I'm reading Wednesday...

two by Sandra Dallas - Alice's Tulips and True Sisters

I just turned the last page on Alice's Tulips by Sandra Dallas (started it last night at bedtime).  It was much like a previous of hers that I read and loved which told its story through diary entries, whereas this one told its story through letters.  Set during the American Civil War, a great deal of the story was based on quilting which I really enjoyed.

True Sisters (same author) I read just a few days ago.  It really was very interesting, but I didn't enjoy it as much.  It was about Mormon emigrant pioneers...the number of characters was hard to keep track of, and a great deal of them were dead by the end of the book.

Also recently finished:
The Neighbor - by Lisa Gardner

The Neighbor by Lisa Gardner ...really enjoyed this one.  It was little along the lines of Gone Girl


Ellie Pride by Annie Groves

I didn't find Ellie Pride by Annie Groves the least bit compelling...a mere okay distraction.


Monday, May 12, 2014

Rainy days and Mondays...

This is a bit of experimentation.  We had a thunderstorm tonight, so I recorded awhile on my phone and played with PhotoShop a bit...not too much mind you, it's excuse the grainy images.  Following is one bolt of lightening in freeze frame sequence.  I wish I had recorded the crack of thunder that just made me jump!

A good ole Spring thunderstorm in Texas:


Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day...

Thought I'd put in a favorite photo of my mother today.  She was a newlywed...newly relocated to an exciting city...starting a career she probably dreamed about...and out on the town sightseeing with another young couple (as inferred from other photos in the group).

If things had stayed on track as she had planned, I would not be here today.  So thanks, Mom, for putting others first...for making do...for adjusting goals...for working harder than anyone else I've ever known.  Loads of love and appreciation to you today and always.

And Happy Mother's Day to all mothers everywhere.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Saturday snail mail...

It wasn't a stellar week for me artistically.  I wasn't absolutely thrilled with any of the final card products, but they did get letters in the mail.

The first one is a bit of day-glo zentangle.  The handwork was way fun, but the finished card came out somewhat like a Rowan and Martin flashback.  It was inspired by a card found here.

The candles were for Sister #1's birthday.  

And this one was a Mothers' Day card for the mom-in-law.  Really not happy with the finished product, but it was this or none as I was out of time for mailing.  Embarrassed to even link to the beautiful inspiration card.

Also got Mothers' Day cards  made with the little girls last weekend for their mama and great-grandmother.  So though it wasn't my best week, it was a pretty productive one postal-ly speaking.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Friday five...

I am getting ready to participate in a garage sale...not this weekend, but the next one...with Kasey and another neighbor.  I'm finding many multiples of things to get rid of, so I figured my Friday Five would be groupings again this week.

1.  One filthy chair and ottoman.  The chair back has a HUGE cut.  I bought it that was way cheap on Craigslist.  I think I've had it for at least five years, and its back has always been to the wall or been covered with a quilt.  I think the time has come for it to go.

2. Two free-standing toilet paper holders.  The last house we lived in did not have built-in tp holders, so we used these.  We now have built-ins.  Why do I still have these? 

3.  About three dozen thick fluffy wash cloths.  These are extremely good quality.  But after buying a ton of them, I found I really hate the thickness of them.  When my fingernails get wet, they become really weak, and the weight of these cloths when they are wet are enough to tear/break my nails so these just sit in the linen closet taking up space.

4.  About four boxes of rubber stamps.  Pictured below is just one of the boxes.  They have already been through a previous garage sale, and got taken back in the house when they didn't go to other homes with their buddies.  They gotta go.

5.  Five drapery panels never been out of their packages.

And that is just a start.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Friday five...

Four out of five ain't bad.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Virgin chalkboard...

Aaaah...  A whole week home alone with nothing scheduled.  Nice.

I've been completely enjoying being a recluse, and doing a few (very few) chores around the house.  

Last night as I was heading to bed about midnight, I passed this blank wall and could stand it no longer.  I brought out the step ladder and chalk.  Yep...midnight.

I read somewhere that you need to 'prime' a new chalkboard by chalking over the whole thing, wipe it off with a damp cloth, and let it dry completely.  That is supposed to keep the initial art from being 'burned' onto the surface.  I kind of like the chalkboard-y nature of the result, but if I want it back to a nice crisp black, I'll wipe it down with a water/vinegar mixture.

The 'art' I put up is pretty rough...the result of going in without a real leveling...just a wish.

I woke up this morning and was happy to see the chalk art done.  My wish did not come true, but I guess I'll have to put some backbone and elbow grease into that wish.  

And I'm still working on a plan that will camouflage that sore thumb of a thermostat.
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