Sunday, February 26, 2012

Since I Had Some Free Time...

Before the frenzy of cake-plate making begins, I thought I'd try my hand at this project. I saw it on you-know-where, and thought it would add a pop of color to my kitchen sink area, while adding a functional, yet decorative, piece. (sounds pretty fancy, huh?!)

This is the original:

Cute, right?

So I hit the SPCA Thrift store (which is honestly over-priced), and purchased a vase and a small glass plate for $2. (Ok, those items weren't over-priced, but most of the stuff is) Add some primer + spray paint all-in-one, a little epoxy....

And there you have it! A...stand! For beside the sink!

Here's the finished product (taken in the evening of course, which I always seem to do. And pretend I have the countertop & backsplash from the original picture) Forget about the paint & epoxy being $15.62. Oh, and the cute Ralph Lauren soap pump from Marshall's that was $9.99. (And PLEASE forget that drip of something on the backsplash. Eeewww!) Now, for a mere $27.61, I have a fabulous DIY dish soap stand! No worries, I'm got a lot of plans for that epoxy & ivy green paint!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Change in Plans...

This was one crazy week, starting with a Mardi Gras pot luck at work on Tuesday. A few of us decided to bring in a Nawlins-themed dish to share, and hoooooo!!!, did we have us some good food! (said in my best Swamp People impression, which by the way is my favorite show! Love me some Troy!) The spicy delicacies included: muffalettas, fried gator (REALLY! it was delish), jambalaya, chicken gumbo, spicy sausage & black beans, shrimp creole, shrimp cornbread, rice (lots of it!), yam biscuits & King Cake. Whew, grab the Pepto!

In case you didn't know, a King Cake has a little plastic baby hidden in it; the person who finds it in their piece is "King of the Mardi Gras", and has to either: buy next year's cake or host the party. Everyone skirted around the baby somehow, so we set Laura up to get it. We told her she should be king, because the day before was her birthday; she doesn't know she's buying next year's cake yet! ; ) This one was from Publix, filled with strawberry & cheese! 

Every time I look at this picture, I literally laugh out loud. Debbie looks like the Birdwoman of Alcatraz, and I look...ridiculous. What did I expect for masks from the Dollar Tree? They look just fine as a wall decoration, but we look ridic.
These were Deb's muffaletta sandwiches, with that fabulous olive salad we made the night before. Recipe to follow! Later that night we said goodbye to our friends the DeWitzs as they readied themselves to head back to the frigid north, and the rest of the week was supposed to go like this: Wednesday: work, while Jack and the boys load up to leave the next morning for Daytona for four days (Yippee!). Then to the store to pick up some groceries for the folks. Thursday I'll work till 5, have a quiet evening, work Friday till 4, and head to Tampa for a girls' weekend with Linds & Alyssa. Yay!

Uh oh. Al's appendix had other plans! Wednesday evening actually sent Jack grocery shopping for Mom & Dad, and Al and I to the clinic at Royal Oak, then on to the ER! He's one smart cookie and knew something just wasn't right. He really wasn't following the textbook symptoms, and the ER peeps were even surprised when his CT showed that he had an acute appendicitis. HAH! My boy knows what up! He gave his insurance a workout! But sadly, no Daytona 500 for him : (

Meanwhile, after hanging out to make sure Al's surgery went well, Jack & Jackson prepared for their weekend without Carl Edwards #1 fan. The scaffolding on the truck is the platform for them to see the races all weekend from the infield. They set chairs and a tv (don't forget the coolers) up there, and root for their drivers; two Edwards, and one Kenseth fan! As Al recuperates, Mom waits on him, does chores, watches a little tv, "pins", facebooks, shops, cooks and crafts. Hey! This is shapin' up to be a great weekend! (sorry Al)

Ok, this is the olive salad. I made another batch this morning, just It. Is. Fabulous. Literally every ingredient goes in the food processor (except the oil & vinegar), "pulse" to desired consistency, and voilá! THE best olive salad to eat on crackers or bread, or put on a sandwich or salad. Heaven!

Lunch = fresh green salad, feta cheese, and peppered chicken breast topped with olive salad as the dressing. *sigh*

Olive Salad
1 7 oz jar Kalamata olives
1 6-8 oz jar Spanish Queen olives
1/2 7 oz jar roasted red pepper
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 cup carrot shreds or coins
1/2 cup flat leaf Italian parsley
 1/2 tsp black pepper
few dashes of Tabasco
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp Italian herbs

Chop all in processor. Whish together 1/2 cup olive oil & 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, add to olive mixture. You can eat it right away, but it's better if it melds for a few hours. Put it on or in anything!
Recipe is adapted from a few different ones, but mainly Martha Stewart's (sans anchovies) She calls for 1/4 cup fresh oregano & 1 tbls fresh thyme, but I forgot to pick them up. Honestly, dried herbs worked just fine!

So, that was my exciting few days! Alex and I have had a nice couple of days hangin' out watching movies and catching up on recorded tv. Oh yeah, and he's recuperating! ; ) I'll head to Tampa next weekend, and next year's Daytona scaffolding will display a framed photo of Al's appendectomy (from me) along with an autographed koozie from Carl (compliments of an infield neighbor).
Best laid plans, right?!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Happy Mardi Gras, Y'all!

One of my first posts in 2011 was on Fat Tuesday. A whole year has passed, and so much has happened in that (roughly) 365 days! Last year, Mardi Gras was in March; this year we begin Lent in February. Last year, I wrote about doughnuts; this year's post is a throwback to my trip to the Big Easy in '08, with some of my fave pics from the trip, followed by tonight's recipes for tomorrow's Mardi Gras potluck at work.

This is one of my all-time favorite pictures! We were just cruisin' down a side street in the French Quarter when I snapped it.

Hungry beignet-seekers, stacked like cord-wood at Cafe Du Monde. There's not much on the menu; just beignets, chicory coffee and milk! There literally was powdered suger EVERYWHERE!

Me, eating beignets! They really are worth the trip to Cafe! There was a live band playing in the street while we ate! ♥ Check out the haircolor!

At the French Market with my favoritest girls in the whole world!

Brian was our tour guide, and he didn't want us to miss St. Louis Cemetery #1, on the outskirts of the French Quarter. Wow! I'd never seen a cemetery like this! Marie's mousoleum was like no other....

The tomb attracts visitors who draw three "x"s on its side, in the hopes that Laveau's spirit will grant them a wish. Ummm...eeeekkk!

Isn't this crazy?! The tombs were untouched during Katrina. I always pictured cemeteries to have grass...but what do I know?!

These lovely ladies were the reason we were there! GO LADY FLAMES!

Yara & I enjoying fun and frivolity in the Big Easy! (while we watched the girls play ball!) OK, on to present day...

Tonight, Debbie and I made olive tapenade (for the muffalettas) for tomorrow's festivities! It. Was. Fabulous!

This amazing dish is Crawfish Cornbread (thanks to Gayle B. from last year's Mardi Gras shindig; although I skipped the crawfish at $14/lb & used Jack's fresh shrimp!) going into the oven...

The finished product! Mmmmmm ♥ It's loaded with peppers, onion, jalapenos, shrimp & cheese! *sigh* I'm a happy girl now!

Happy Fat Tuesday! Let the fasting begin! ; )

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Our ND Visitors (a/k/a "The Cold North Meets the Balmy South")

How 'bout these colors?! (If you read my blog in email, you won't notice the difference, but I changed all the background colors to green, purple and gold!) It's almost Mardi Gras, which had me digging out New Orleans pics from 2008. At that time, Lindsay played off-season volleyball for Ignite, a travel team out of Merritt Island. Moms & daughters took a trip to New Orleans that spring for some kinda playoffs at Tulane University; what an exciting trip! I'll blog about that on Tuesday!
In the meantime, Jack's besties (now they're mine, too!) from ND are here visiting this week (their first time in FL!), and we've had such a great time! We've: been to dinner with them & Fr. Tony at a nifty place called "Doubles" in Indian Harbor Beach, enjoyed dinner theatre at Holy Name of Jesus (which was honestly fabulous & Tony worthy!), and had them for dinner here in T'ville at our humble abode. Since they were gracious enough to try freshly-caught steamed shrimp (from Jack & Al's last weekend's excursion), we took them to the T'ville pier to watch shrimpers in action!

The pier was full of folks vying for some Indian River delicacies. My little camera doesn't take good night shots, so these were captured on the phone. Look at all those poles!

The girls! Me, Michaela, Kim & Deb. It was chilly, even for these cold-country folks! (coolish-damp is more like it)

The boys. Justin, Alex, Ty & Jack. Jack & Ty introduce themselves  to other people as brothers : ) They really are two peas in a pod! (& Justin is a younger version of Alex, which I found to be pretty cool!)

The master shrimper sharing his knowledge...

Wait! Ty's gettin' the hang of it too! We'll have them moved here & shrimping in no time!

What a great weekend again...blessed with friends who are just like family ♥ Next up: a visit to ND! (in the summer! ; ) 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Dolces, Darlings & Dogs

I'd really been looking forward to this weekend, and it didn't disappoint! It brought fun with my girls, fun with friends, and fun with my family. Actually, my girls and my friends are just like family, and I even got to pick them! ; )

Friday was a Dolce Valentine's get together. Great gals, fabulous food, and a new cocktail! Seriously, this is what we ate: antipasto platter, meatballs, rolls, sausage balls, dark chocolate fondue (with a dash of wine!) & fruit, cheeses and crackers, hot jalapeño popper dip, red velvet cake, mini spinach bites, cucumber feta salad, and candies. Ridiculous, right? Guess how much was left?! What can I say, we love to eat!

Pinterest obsession for this shin-dig? "Birthday Martinis", which kinda turned into "Valentine Bliss"! I started making individual ones, but later switched to making pitchers full! Just kiddin', but they were quite addicting: vanilla vodka, asti champagne and cranberry juice. Add some sprinkles and a cherry, and violá! Instant hit! Us Dolce Girls know how to party!

Saturday's fun took us to St. Augustine to celebrate Reesey Piecey's birthday with Baker/Grover families and friends. Meg should be on Cake Wars; this cake was not only amazing to look at at, it was phenomenal to eat! Multi-layered chocolate cake with peanut butter icing (duh) and chunks of peanut butter cups. ♥ I think it's safe to say she leans a tad toward all things peanut buttery. Sooo nice to spend the afternoon with all those wonderful folks!

After we got home, Al & I picked up Bear to spend the night with us, since Jax was out of town. I roll my eyes (alot!) whenever I see those bumper stickers or plaques that say "Ask me about my granddog", but now....Ok, I'm still gonna do it, but I have a better appreciation for them now : ) I love our house being dog-free (ask Todd & Tina and Debbie; they have our last two dogs), but Bear was happy and full of energy and made us laugh. No worries, no more dogs here (I had to mop a wet kitchen from him dumping his water, and sweep up all the sticks and socks he destroyed), but we'll be glad to let Bear use the backyard to run for a couple hours. 

We're ending the weekend with champagne & leftover fondue since Jack calls bingo on Valentine's evening. His gift this year? A blood pressure monitor! What better way to say "I ♥ you!" ; ) Happy Sweetheart's Day to you!

Monday, February 6, 2012

What a Pinteresting Weekend! (I know, I know...)

Again...I love crafts. I love food. I love home decorating ideas. So I planned a "pinning" weekend to do a little of each of those things...what fun! In between, Jack and I fiberglassed the cracks in the camper top, which really needed done. (is there really a better way to spend your anniversary?! I think not) Actually, he did all the work; I cut pieces to fit the cracks, held stuff, helped mix the epoxy and resin (which gets really HOT, by the way), changed rubber gloves alot and cheered Jack on. (I didn't find the fiberglassing project on Pinterest, but I probably could have) But check out the real pins below!

Crafts & Home Decor: I coerced Debbie into giving me her garage sale find from last week (we traded some stuff). None of the stuff in our house is white, so....

Now it's black! It was copper to begin with (which I found under the white), so I guess someone who didn't have anything copper-colored in their house decided to paint it white. People are big on spray painting home decorations, me included.

Cooking: Saturday night's dinner pin = Tomato and Mozzarella Pasta Al Forno. I'm not generally of big fan of penne, shells or rigatoni (weird), so I thought this would just be so-so. Wrong! It was delish!

Sunday morning's pin was heart-shaped cinnamon rolls, since Linds was home close to Valentine's day. No one who pinned this said that you have to cut each "roll" into a long snake-shape before forming it into a heart, but I figured it out. (guess it's not really rocket science...)

Awwww! They taste so much better when they're heart shaped! ; )

Sunday afternoon's pin: Super Bowl food. Hot taco dip! Cheese, meat, cheese, mayo, cheese, salsa, cheese, sour cream, and cheese. Made bubbly. ♥ Sounds kinda bad for you, but wait!

Here's the healthy part. Tomatoes, olives, lettuce, cilantro & avocado, which all scream "heart healthy" and definitely override the mayo (with olive oil!) & sour cream & cheese (all low fat versions, I promise!). Mmmmm! Even Jack loved this dip. I'm so proud of him for expanding his horizons : ) (Plus, I'm taking the time to cook "real" food...sorry for all the years of hamburger helper, kids!)

Only 702 projects to go!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Who Needs Takeout?!

Yummo! The following recipe is's healthy version of PF Chang's lettuce wrap, along with my slight modifications. I've made a few versions of this, as it's one of my favorite dishes at Chang's, but this one was by far the best. It got a huge thumbs up from Jack & Alex! I made it Friday evening for dinner, and Linds asked me to save some for her since she was coming home the next day; she loved it, too! Did I mention that this is fantastic?!

  • 1/2 cup cooked brown rice
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1/2 pound 93%-lean ground turkey
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 large red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1 8-ounce can chopped water chestnuts
  • 2 tablespoons prepared hoisin sauce
  • Dash of low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs, such as cilantro, basil, mint and/or chives
  • 1 carrot, shredded 
  • 1 head Boston lettuce, leaves washed & separated
  • 1 tsp five-spice powder (I didn't have any, so I used 2 tsp fried rice spice, which was perfect)
    Heat sesame  oil in a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Add turkey, garlic and ginger; cook, crumbling with a wooden spoon, until the turkey starts to cook through. Then add red pepper, water chestnuts & carrot (I put these 3 things in the food processor on pulse until they were coarsely chopped) and cook on low for an additional 2-3 minutes. Add hoisin, soy sauce, herbs & rice, and warm (add a splash of chicken or vegetable broth if needed to moisten). Serve in prepared lettuce cups.
    Enjoy~ (if you like spicy, red pepper flakes would be a fabulous addition)
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