Friday, August 29, 2008

And the Winner is......

Comment # 69

Camille English said...

We want to win!

August 27, 2008 11:43 AM

Congratulations Camille!! Thanks to everyone who entered! I'll be popping by your blogs in the next few days.

Happy to be at Home Posts

Today is my final day guest posting at

Here's the links to all the posts, because I know you can't get enough of me!

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5
Day 6

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


I about crapped myself in horror when this picture popped up on a website! What the frick is up with that eyeliner? Did Pam go broke and have to fire her stylist and/or makeup person? I don't know what the deal is, but all I have to say is WOH and incredulously, I now might be hotter than this Baywatch Bimbo...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I'm Going to Make Meeeelions of Dollars on This!!

I have just come up with the most fabulous way to lose weight! I am thinking of rigging up a human-size hamster wheel to be my computer's energy source. That way, if I want to blog, I have to get my fat a** on the treadmill and run for it to turn on.

I will have to remove both the sofa and loveseat from my living room, but who cares about fashion and functionality?

I AM A GENIUS!! Now to find a wealthy benefactor...

Blueberry Sour Cream Cake

Have you entered the GIVEAWAY yet?

Go see my guest posts at

Blueberry Sour Cream Cake
recipe courtesy of DeGrandchamp Farms

1 c brown sugar
1 c chopped walnuts
1 t cinnamon
1 stick butter
1 c sugar
3 eggs
1 c sour cream
2 c flour
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 t vanilla
2 c blueberries

Combine and set aside brown sugar, walnuts, and cinnamon. In large bowl, beat margarine and sugar with mixer until fluffy. Add eggs, sour cream, flour, baking soda, salt, and vanilla. Mix well. Fold in blueberries with a spoon (I used a spatula because the batter was THICK--glad I have a KitchenAid mixer).

Spread 1/2 of the batter in a greased and floured 9/13 pan (I used Baker's Joy--grease and flour all in one spray). Sprinkle 1/2 of the brown sugar mixture on top. Spread the remaining batter on top and sprinkle remaining brown sugar mixture.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 40-45 minutes.

Asian Sauteed Kale

Asian Sauteed Kale

1 T olive oil
1/2 large onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 bunches Kale, stems removed and washed thoroughly, about six cups
1/2 inch section fresh ginger with some flesh exposed
2 T soy sauce
1 c chicken stock
toasted sesame oil, optional

In a large pan with high sides, heat oil over medium-high heat. Sautee the onions until they begin to brown lightly and add garlic. Stir in the kale and fry for 3-5 minutes, stirring constantly, until the Kale begins to wilt. Cover for 2-3 minutes. Uncover and dump in soy sauce, stock, and ginger piece. Cover and continue to cook for 10-15 minutes or until Kale is tender and dark green. Remove from heat, remove ginger piece and drizzle with optional toasted sesame oil.

Basic Crepes

This recipe was printed in Jeff Smith's "The Frugal Gourmet" cookbook. I've made many of the items in this cookbook multiple times in the ten years (at least) I've had it. If you run across it at a thrift store or garage sale, I highly suggest you pick it up!

For this recipe, I used an 8 inch hard anodized saute pan and non-stick cooking spray instead of the peanut oil and it worked marvelously!! Had non-stick spray been invented yet back in 1984? If it had been, I'm pretty sure TFG would have used it!

Basic Crepes

2 eggs at room temperature
3/4 c milk
2/3 c beer
1 cup flour
1/4 t salt
2 T peanut oil

Place the eggs, milk, and beer in a blender, and then the flour and salt. Blend for 30 seconds, and then scrape down the sides of the blender. Blend for 1 minute. Cover, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Fry the crepes in a saute pan oiled lightly with the peanut oil over medium heat. Pour in 1/4 cup portions. Tip and turn the pan until the batter covers the bottom. Cook until the top appears dry and the bottom has just begun to brown. Turn (or if you're brave, flip sans utensil) the crepe with a rubber spatula and brown the other side very briefly. It should have only little specks of brown. Stack with a piece of wax paper or parchment between each. Makes approx 12.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

If I Weren't...

-madly in love with my husband
-mother to the midget

I would marry Joe.

Chilled Beet Soup

Want to win something great? Enter the GIVEAWAY!

Chilled Beet Soup

2 bunches beets, cooked, peeled, and diced
1 cucumber, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 green onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups chicken stock
16 oz sour cream, plus more for serving
1 t dried dill weed, or 1 T chopped fresh dill
squeeze of lemon
1 T red wine vinegar
1 T salt
pepper to taste

In your serving bowl, mix the beets, cucumber, celery, onions, and garlic. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, wisk the sour cream into the chicken stock until thoroughly mixed. Add in the remainder of ingredients and wisk until combined.

Pour the wet mixture over the vegetables and stir until it turns pink and ingredients are mixed. If your ingredients were not chilled previously, place in the refrigerator until chilled, approximately 2 hours.

Blueberry Jam

Have you entered the GIVEAWAY yet?

This was so much easier than I thought it would be! I do have the few necessities from a previous canning experience. I used my canner, jar lifter, and wide-mouth funnel. I use metal tongs to remove the lids and bands and not one of those fancy magnetic lid lifters. The tongs work perfectly. Be sure to get your water up to a simmering boil and boil your jars, lids, and bands for ten minutes previous to starting the jam. Start the jam immediately after pulling your jars, lids, and bands out of the canner. Your jars will stay hot long enough to fill.

Blueberry Jam
modified from Ball Pectin recipe insert

4 cups mashed blueberries (approx 6-7 cups whole)
1 box Ball Fruit Pectin
2 cups white sugar
2 cups Granulated Splenda or Sucralose generic
1/2 t butter (if necessary to reduce foaming)

Place whole berries in food processor and process on low until berries begin to mash. Measure out the sugar and Splenda and set them close to the stove.

Measure out the 4 cups of mashed blueberries into a pan with high sides to avoid splatter. Turn the heat on high and add the pectin in slowly, stirring continuously.

When mixture has reached a full boil that can not be stirred down, dump in your sugar mixture and stir until sugar is dissolved. Bring mixture to a full boil. You may add in the butter if your fruit foams. Boil the mixture hard for one full minute, then remove from heat.

Pour the hot jam into hot sterilized jars. Seal with lids and bands (do not over-tighten your bands) and process (be sure the water in your canner covers the tops of your jars by at least an inch) for ten minutes. Remove from water and let sit undisturbed for 24 hours. If any of your jars haven't sealed (just poke the top and if it makes a noise, it hasn't sealed properly), refrigerate and use within three weeks.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Stupid Piggy Lucy Wiener

Have you entered the GIVEAWAY???

Those of you who follow me on Twitter saw an interesting tweet yesterday about my Lucy Wiener.

Here's the scoop for the rest of you. At lunch yesterday, I gave the midget the drummie part of a chicken wing to chew on. She thoroughly enjoyed waving the wing around and even ate a few bites off of it, then continued flailing her arms about. She did one particularly graceful move, which reminded me of the ribbon dancers in the rythmic gymnastics portion of the olympics, and the chicken wing went flying across the kitchen and hit the floor.

Before I could even get the word "NOOOO" past the little chucky in the back of my throat, Stupid Piggy Lucy Wiener had bolted across the room and gotten to the chicken wing. I'm pretty sure I heard a sonic boom as she surpassed the speed of sound...

I jumped up and ran over toward her. She ran under the kitchen table and when I bent down to grab her, she GULPED. There was no chicken bone. The little oinker swallowed it whole!!

Against the hubby's wishes, I called the vet. I wanted to make sure it was okay to make her throw up. We are well versed in doggy-barf-induction, as Stupid Scaredy Henry Wiener once swallowed some Advil that hubby accidentally left out. That one cost us about $200 because we weren't sure exactly when and how much he had swallowed, so we had all the kidney function tests done.

The vet agreed we should make her throw up. She said it was much better to make her throw it up now than to wait to see if it did damage to her intestines. So Lucky Lucy got two tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide dumped down her throat.

After fifteen minutes, she still hadn't tossed her cookies, so she got four tablespoons more. After about five minutes, she puked up a GIANT pile of foam, but no bone. Then she puked up the bone.

Stupid Wiener...

Greek Style Stuffed Peppers & Minted Cucumber Salad

Don't forget to enter the GIVEAWAY!!

Here are my HappyToBe@Home Day 1 dinner recipes. They will be posting about my kitchen beginning on Sunday. Be sure to catch me there!

Once a month, I buy 7-10 pounds of ground beef and brown it with onions, salt, pepper, and garlic. Then I freeze in 1 lb. portions. That is what I used for this recipe. I got my inspiration for the peppers from here and here. For the cucumbers, I took inspiration from basic tzatsiki sauce.

Greek-Style Stuffed Peppers

2 large Bell Peppers, halved, seeded, and membranes removed
1 lb lean ground beef, browned (or 1 1/2 lb raw ground beef)
1/4 c bulghur wheat, pre-soaked in 1/2 c boiling water for 1 hour
10 oz frozen chopped spinach thawed and water squeezed out
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 T fresh mint, chopped (or 1/2 t dried)
1 t dried oregano (or 2 T fresh)
1/4 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1 pint stewed tomatoes (or one 15 oz can)
crumbled feta cheese, to taste

Arrange peppers, cut side up, in a microwave AND oven-safe dish (I used pyrex).

Mix the ground beef, wheat, spinach, onion, egg, and spices in a separate bowl (you do not need to brown the ground beef if you are using raw, you will just increase your cooking time slightly).

Pile the stuffing inside the peppers (it's okay if some falls out), top with some canned tomato chunks and pour juice from tomatoes around the peppers. The juice will help cook the peppers. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high for 8-10 minutes for pre-cooked beef or 10-12 minutes for raw beef.

Remove plastic wrap carefully (watch for steam) and crumble feta on top of peppers. Place under broiler until feta browns slightly.

Minted Cucumber Salad

3 cucumbers, peeled and sliced into half moons
1 T salt
2 scallions, minced finely
2 T white wine vinegar
2 T olive oil
1 c plain yogurt, greek-style is the best!
1/2 t ground cumin
1/4 t turmeric
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 t black pepper

Place sliced cucumbers into a dish and cover with cold water and salt. Stir and let soak while preparing the yogurt sauce.

In your serving bowl, combine the remainder of ingredients.

Drain cucumbers thoroughly and do NOT rinse. Add to yogurt sauce and toss gently.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Did You See Me Here??

First, don't forget to enter the GIVEAWAY!!

Did you see my introduction at Starting on Sunday, I'll be guest-posting about the food I serve in my kitchen. Funny enough, the readers will get a glimpse into one of the busiest weeks of the year in my kitchen. Why, you ask? The hubby came home a few nights ago with a bushel of corn, ten pounds of blueberries, and three GIGANTIC pumpkins. So, in addition to my regular cooking, there will be lots of canning, freezing, jam making and other ridiculously Martha Stewart-ish things going on!

If you came over to my blog from Happytobe@home, a great big welcome to you! I blog about a lot more than food, so be prepared to read lots of blah-bitty-blah-blah!

Thursday, August 21, 2008


I had planned to have this up earlier, but my kid is so stinking cute, I had to whip out the camera to capture this...

Now that you are sufficiently midget-fixed, here is what I'm giving away!!

Nearly $150 in clipped and organized coupons, including an accordian-fold organizer, and a $5.00 Target Gift Card!!!

The Target Gift Card can be used on any item at Target (though I'm not sure about tobacco or alcohol--I don't buy booze at Target and I don't smoke) and has NO expiration date or fees!!

All coupons have expiration dates of 9/15 or later and these are not just junk coupons folks! Many are exclusive coupons not found in newspaper inserts. I'm willing to bet even non-coupon-ers will be able to find at least $15 worth of stuff they buy on a regular basis! The handy-dandy accordian fold organizer is great for beginning or occasional(lazy) coupon-ers like myself!

Here are some more details on the coupons:

--10 Baby coupons worth over $15, including a $5 off $25 at Toys R Us
--13 Pet coupons worth over $15, including a free cat treats coupon (no purchase necessary)
--34 Grocery coupons worth over $25, including a B1G1 free Special K product
--14 Miscellaneous coupons worth over $15, including a free Airwick warmer with purchase of fragrance
--16 Cleaning coupons worth over $15, including a $5 off Scrubbing Bubbles Shower Cleaner Starter Kit
--33 Health coupons worth over $40, including a $4 off Zyrtec coupon
--15 Beauty coupons worth over $15, including several $2 off coupons

To enter, simply leave a comment by 11:59 p.m. on 8/28 (one entry per person)! will choose a winner on 8/29!! Want to increase your chances?? Simply link to this giveaway on your blog and enter a second comment telling me you linked!!

I sure hope you'll leave me lots of comment crack because the wieners aren't talking to me anymore. They're mad I'm giving away all of the awesome doggie treat coupons...

The Wieners

Here's a little eye candy for y'all.

The one on the left is Henry, a beagle/dachshund mix. Full name--Henry Hanky Panky Snoopy Poopy Wiener. He doesn't have a mean bone in his body and is scared of everything. I tried to put out one of those bubbler water dishes, the ones that look like miniature human water coolers, so I wouldn't have to refill their dish everyday. But I ended up putting the regular dish back out because he nearly dehydrated himself because of his fear of the bubbles!

Lucy is the miniature dachshund on the right. Full name--Lucinda Stinker Doodle Noodle Wiener. She is nearly as hard-headed as I am and is a complete PIG!! Yesterday, I made sausage for breakfast. I didn't remember putting it away, but I couldn't find it. Lucy, whose legs are literally four inches long, had jumped up on the table and had snarfed down the rest of the sausage.

Ahh, I love my dysfunctional dogs...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I'm Tweeting!!

It's all Conservative Belle's fault. And Deanna's too...

Now you can take a peek inside my head! Just click "follow me on twitter" to the right, and you can be bored with my life too! har har

Do you tweet? Let me know by leaving me a comment and I'll start following you too!

This may be bad. I hardly got any cleaning done before...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

My First Bloggy Giveaway!

To increase my stash of "teachers," I am doing my very first bloggy giveaway! Stay tuned for details on Thursday morning!

My Tomato Plant

Okay, so remember when I said I had a black thumb and couldn't grow anything to save my life?

I think God has a funny sense of humor and this is why: I did not buy nor propagate this tomato plant. It appeared outside of my house and at first I thought it was a weed, but being the lazy bum I am, I did not pull it. After a while, I started thinking it looked like a tomato plant. When it bloomed, my conjecture was confirmed.

It is growing out in our Dog Run (a.k.a. the place where the wieners do their "business." Still wondering where I'm going with this?? We occasionally feed our dogs human food, including tomatoes, therefore, this is a "poopy" tomato plant. hahaha I think God just wanted to prove me wrong on the whole "I can't grow anything" thing! Either that or he wanted to say, "But the wieners can..."

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Godmama Chris's Pirate Baby Shower Cake & Quilt

I've been a bit behind on posting and commenting this week and here's why (don't even ask what my house looks like because it is baaaaad).

The midget's Godmama Chris is having a baby boy and decided to decorate his nursery in a pirate theme. Holy crow, this is one FLIPPIN' cute nursery!!

I designed the cake around her nursery colors and theme. The cake is a half-sheet with a molded cake placed on top (Wilton Pirate Pan). The ship is sitting on a corrugated cake board, cut to shape, and supported with dowels. The sand is crushed graham crackers and the treasure chest is molded chocolate. I dug a small hole to bury the treasure chest into the cake. Don't look too closely at the cake because it is a little rough in spots, but overall, I'm pretty happy with how it turned out!

The quilt turned out much better than my previous venture into quilting! I only made one little boo-boo on this one, so that's a big yeeeeee-haaaaaw!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I've Been Tagged--Six Random Things About Me

One of my favorite homeschooling frugal mamas, Sonshine, tagged me to write six random things about myself. Here goes!

1. I grew up in the capital "city" of Helena, Montana. No, I didn't ride a horse to school. I'm allergic, so I usually just hitched a ride with these guys.

2. My Dad was a mortician, so therefore, I grew up in a Funeral Home--just like in the movie "My Girl." And yes, there were dead bodies in my house. No, they didn't scare me--they were dead, which usually means they don't do anything except lay there, being dead.

3. I met my husband on the radio. I was a college student and my friend called the radio station to win a pizza. She was chatting with him when I walked in the room, pissed off at my roommate and she handed me the phone. Here's how the conversation went:
Me: "Who's this?" said with disdain.
Him: "John."
Me: "John who?" laced heavily with sarcasm.
Him: "John Leatherwood."
Me: "Sooo, do you like leather on your wooder? Nice name buddy." handing phone back to friend

He knew what he was getting himself into, and I always remind him of that when he complains about my bitchiness! p.s. I am not Carrie Leatherwood, thankfully--it was his radio name.

4. When we bought our first new car in 2001, I was choosing between a VW Beetle and a Chevy Malibu. I decided to choose the practical Malibu over the fun VW Beetle because I thought it would be easier if we had kids to have a four-door vehicle. Fast-forward to January of 2007--I total out my Malibu and still childless, decide what the hey--I'll finally get the VW Beetle I've dreamt of since I was a teenager! One week later, while my hubby was picking up the beetle in Connecticut, I found out I was pregnant. Now I have to actually sit down in the back seat to get my midget out of her car seat, then hold on to her and maneuver my fat a** out of the car. BUT I still love my Silver Bug!!

5. Let me clear my throat for this one. Ahem. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE BLUEBERRIES!! Ah, now to come down off the mountaintop. Seriously--I love them so much. I have to watch myself or I could eat a whole 5 lb. box in one sitting. I like them in just about everything--cakes, cookies, yogurt, pies--whatever! I like anything flavored blueberry--candy, sodas, and my favorite--iced coffee. I eat so many of them, I will probably turn into a blueberry someday! I've already got the shape goin' on and I'm sure the color will come soon! hah I have passed this love on to the midget and let me tell you how much fun it is changing her cloth diapers after I've given her a few too many--uber grossness!!

6. My favorite movie of all time is, well, there's actually two. Pee-Wee's Big Adventure and Beetlejuice. I really don't have an explanation for this. They are just funny and dark and silly, I guess. It's a little embarassing, especially when most people have good ones like Gone With the Wind or Wuthering Heights. C'mon, my two favorites are every bit as good as these two! Sheeeese!

Now to tag my six peeps!

1. Onawa from Baby Magic

2. Godmama Chris, because she's on bedrest and I know she's got nothing better to do! I kid, I kid!

3. Deanna from Deanna's Corner and Deanna's Corner Cooking

4. Dr. Wifey

5. Heather from Nobody But Yourself (I still think you're great even if you are a democrat haha)

6. Last, but not least Conservative Belle, who always gets me laughing with her stories about her cubicle neighbors!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

"Escaped 'Giant Poo' Causes Chaos"

This is totally serious folks. It is at times like this that I am proud to be an American...

A giant inflatable dog turd by American artist Paul McCarthy blew away from an exhibition in the garden of a Swiss museum, bringing down a power line and breaking a greenhouse window before it landed again, the museum said Monday.

The art work, titled "Complex S(expletive..)", is the size of a house. The wind carried it 200 metres (yards) from the Paul Klee Centre in Berne before it fell back to Earth in the grounds of a children's home, said museum director Juri Steiner.

The inflatable turd broke the window at the children's home when it blew away on the night of July 31, Steiner said. The art work has a safety system which normally makes it deflate when there is a storm, but this did not work when it blew away.

Steiner said McCarthy had not yet been contacted and the museum was not sure if the piece would be put back on display.

Who pays to see this crap--literally?? I can direct you to many displays of poop for free. Those poor kids--that museum ought to pay for a few years of therapy for each of them!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Naughty Midget

The midget is not allowed in the puppy's "houses," but that doesn't always deter her. I went to put the dogs out on the deck and this is what I cam back to (I was gone less than 30 seconds).
I had to pull her out because she was wedged inside, trying to turn around. I grabbed one of her legs, then had to manuever the other one out. I pulled her out up to her shoulders, but they got stuck on the door. So I had to push one shoulder down and pull her arm out, then the other shoulder. She complained loudly as I drug her out, so maybe Little Miss Naughty learned something. I doubt it...

Saturday, August 9, 2008

My First Handmade Quilt

Well, it isn't a total domestic humiliation, but as quilters would say--it has LOTS of character (flaws)!! I found this adorable kit at JoAnn's Fabrics and had to buy it!

The materials are so cute--white cotton flannel printed with rubber duckies and bubbles, orange raised dot plush, cotton orange gingham, yellow swirled cotton flannel, blue cotton ripples, and my favorite, the sky blue satin dots! The satin and the plush were the hardest to work with. Both moved every time I tried to cut it and I had to zig-zag the satin edges so it wouldn't run. It isn't true quilting because there is no cotton batting inside, but I figured that would be okay since I'm just beginning.

So you quilters out there--here's my burning question for you and the thing I struggled with the most: I had a very hard time making sure my fabric was squared, especially on the bigger pieces. I have a cutting mat and a clear acrylic ruler, but I found it very difficult to actually make sure the fabric was squared on all sides! Almighty quilters--please help me!!

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Thursday, August 7, 2008

Lucky Me!!

You know those people who always win things?? Well, I am not one of them. My Dad won every raffle he ever entered, hit the jackpot numerous times at casinos, and was lucky enough to win the best prize of all--ME! haha

BUT my luck may have changed! I was chosen to host a Fisher-Price Playdate Party!! I will receive four large toys from FP that are mine to keep! They aren't even available in stores yet! You can see them here. They also send ten smaller FP toys for me to give my guests! All I have to do is take pictures and review their products! The only expense I'll have is for providing snacks & bevvies--not bad for at least $300 worth of toys!

I wish I could invite y'all, but my house isn't big enough for the entire blogosphere!

How did I get so lucky?? I got an email from Fisher-Price that took me to to apply to host a party. My application was chosen and I was one of the first 1000 moms across the U.S. to get my invites online! House Party does sell your information, so that's a bit of a turnoff, but I don't answer my home phone (skype) for unknown numbers and I don't have an issue with getting more mail. In my opinion, that's the only turnoff about House Party. Feel free to visit them to see upcoming Houseparty events. Maybe your luck will change too!!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Chair Wall

We are always in need of extra seating when we have company, but I got tired of running down into the basement to get extra chairs. We found these fold up chairs at IKEA for $14.99 each! What a bargain! The chairs don't exactly match our oak cabinets, but they looked alright. Maybe someday I'll stain them brown-black, but for now, they're just fine.

Hubby took pine, cut it to the right length, routed the edges, and stained them to match our cabinets. He mounted the hooks, which we purchased at IKEA also, to the boards and then screwed the boards into the wall using drywall anchors where he didn't hit studs.

The entire chair wall project cost under $80, including chairs!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Fixing an Ooops Paint Job

We have a print by Wassily Kandinsky that has been the inspiration for the colors we've painted our rooms on the ground floor. We have a green kitchen, a purple living room, and someday, we'll have a yellow music room (we've had the paint for this room for over a year, but moving the piano was not an option while I was pregnant and it's been pushed aside since the midget was born). When it comes time to sell our house, we'll be doing a LOT of painting!!

I'm not sure why we are drawn to this painting so deeply. Being a Concrete Random, perhaps it is the complete mess of very particular objects.

We've been meaning to paint the hallway that leads from our garage to the kitchen for a long time. We've lived in our house for over a year and there are lots of rooms that are still builder white. We use this entrance to our house the most, so it was dirty, scraped up, and UGLY! I knew I wanted to paint it orange-red (let's just say I'm not a very neutral person in ANY way), so we went off to the hardware store with the color in mind. We found what we thought was the perfect color, we bought it, and came home. I knew the moment hubby started painting the walls that the color was wrong, wrong, WRONG! It looked like circus tent orange!! Hubby thought it was fine--he'd apply a second coat and it would dry darker. But I knew it wasn't going to change that dramatically, even with another coat.

Once it dried, the hubbster asked if we could keep the hallway "Tony Stewart orange." By the way, do any of your husbands torture you with Nascar ALL weekend long? Seriously, it's basically a soap opera for men and all that noise gives me a headache!

I remembered seeing shows where glazes were applied to paint to tone down colors and started doing some research. I didn't want to have to re-tape the entire hall, so I decided to sponge on the glaze. While researching how to sponge, Lowe's website came up during my search and I found the perfect product! Lowe's Valspar Signature Collection Translucent Color Glaze required no mixing and would give me up to 45 minutes to work with it!

When I went to Lowe's, they had a nice section for faux finishes and had great brochures for "how-to" (I found their great brochure online here after I finished the project, but thought I'd share it with you because it has the best directions for using their product) and all the necessary tools were in one place! I did find it hard to choose the glaze because they didn't have any samples or examples of what the glaze would look like. I had brought along the paint chip of our color and what would have been quite helpful is tinted plastic to place over the top of the paint chip. But the two glazes I was choosing between happened to have their little tops popped (guess I wasn't the only one who had trouble figuring out what the glaze would look like), so I took my finger and dabbed each of the glazes on to the paint chip and let them dry for a while.

I bought the Burnt Sienna glaze, a sea sponge, two small disposable trays, latex disposable gloves, and four practice boards for $35. Granted I spent more than it would have cost for another gallon of paint, but I will have all the supplies I'll need for many more sponging projects.

I started the sponging right after I laid the midget down for her morning nap and was finished by the time she woke up (ninety minutes). I only had to do minimal taping on the places that were tight and used a trim shield for the rest. The glaze was easy to use and a snap to clean off when I made a mistake. I used a magic eraser to get a few splotches off the ceiling's flat white paint, but the glaze came off of the high-gloss trim with just a wet cloth.

Here's the color before and after. Pretty dramatic, eh?

Friday, August 1, 2008

Fresh Basil Pesto

I am a horrible gardener. In fact, I always say that I have a black thumb instead of a green one because I kill everything I've ever tried to grow!! But I really like to cook with fresh herbs and vegetables, so in the past, I've spent a lot of money on produce and the herbs in the little plastic boxes.

This year, we joined a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) to help keep our produce costs down. You pay a set fee up front and for twenty weeks you get a box of in-season vegetables fresh off the farm! It's been fun trying to figure out what to do with the vegetables we get each week. Some I've had to look up, for example, garlic scapes--never heard of them before? Don't feel bad, most people haven't. It's like getting a little surprise each week! In most cases, it's too late this season to sign up for one in your area, but you can look for one to contact next year at

Our boxes the last three weeks have included beautiful fresh basil, which is one of my favorite herbs!! My absolute favorite way to enjoy basil is in basil pesto! It is a great way to preserve the freshness of the herb. I love to give it as a gift and it looks great in an itty bitty baby food jar. If you'd like to get fancy, you can make labels on your computer to put on the jars, but I usually just take a black sharpie and write in nice handwriting on the jar.

I'm not a big fan of pasta, but I will make an exception and eat fresh pesto on whole wheat spaghetti as a side dish. Here's some ideas for how to use pesto other than on pasta: serve it on Chicken with a slice of tomato and a disc of fresh mozzarella, bake it and shazam you've got Caprese Chicken, try adding it to mashed potatoes instead of butter, spread it on toasted bread instead of garlic butter, spread it on an unbaked pizza crust and top with grilled chicken and shredded mozzarella, or mix it with softened cream cheese to serve on crackers.

It's so easy to make if you have the ingredients and just LOOK at that beautiful bright green color!

Here's my recipe (by the way, do you think Cook's Illustrated or Cook's Country has ever published a pesto recipe--if so, I'd better be careful because my recipe is very basic and they might come after me like they did Melissa from Alosha's Kitchen).

Fresh Basil Pesto

3 cloves of fresh garlic
1/4 c pine nuts, toasted
2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/2 c shredded parmesan
1/2 to 3/4 c olive oil

Peel the garlic and place in your food processor. Add the pine nuts and parmesan and pulse in food processor until all ingredients are coarsely ground. Add in the basil and turn on the processor. While processor is running, drizzle in the olive oil until the mixture looks spreadable. When you pack the pesto into jars or other containers, be sure to cover the top with olive oil to avoid darkening from oxygenation.