Archive for June, 2009

Bountiful Hydrangea

June 29, 2009

The rain has been plentiful and this means good things in Maryland. The drought has been lifted, the lettuce is plentiful, and the hydrangeas have EXPLODED…I mean….EXPLODED! Hydrangeas surround my home both inside and out and I couldn’t be happier.

8 days

June 25, 2009

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For the next 8 days I will be completely UNPLUGGED. It is one of our favorite vacations…I’ll tell you more about it when we return. Here is the best part…Mama will not have a cell phone, a television, a computer, or a phone….YIPEEEEE!!!!! ADIOS…see you in eight days.

P.S. Tee Too (Tasha) and Magpie are in excellent hands….

Tracy Porter Shopping Experience

June 24, 2009

Originally posted in February however, Tracy Porter is offering an AMAZING sale (an extra 40% of her clearance items) through June 28 so I wanted to RE-SHARE!

Once in a blue moon I am blown away by something EXTRAORDINARY and today was one of those days. Last week I ordered a TREASURE TROVE of goodies from the Tracy Porter Website. This was not my first order through this company (last summer I ordered their bedding), but it was my first order after becoming more involved with her community.

Many “blog comments” on her blog have mentioned the delicious packaging and rave about the goods they have received. I was so excited last week when she held a “LOVE” sale for Valentine’s weekend offering very generous sale prices. I jumped in right away knowing this was my chance to purchase some of my very own TRACY PORTER creations.

Well let me tell you, just opening the box was worth the money I spent. Let me take you through the journey of COLOR, DETAILS, and EXTRAORDINARY THOUGHT behind the packaging alone!
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Have you ever experienced something as beautiful coming out of a cardboard box? I dare say NO, not possible. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND the Tracy Porter Shopping Experience. It is not just about the packaging or the goods you purchase (I must say they are extraordinary though) but about the story she shares during the process. Every item for sale has an accompanying video so the customer can really SEE what the product looks like. Tracy also blogs daily during the week where she and her crew share tips on Design, Gardening, Cooking, and Lifestyle. You feel like you are supporting a friend by purchasing! Any company who takes the time to BUILD RELATIONSHIPS with their customer by ENHANCING THEIR EVERYDAY LIVES with BEAUTY, INSPIRATION, AND THOUGHT paired with AMAZING and UNIQUE products, deserves KUDDOS!

Visit her exquisite and charming website Tracyporter.com to get a taste!

Summer Salad Meal

June 24, 2009

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Thanks to all of the rain and the cooler than normal temperatures, our lettuce garden has exploded. SECRETLY, I have always wanted to be a SALAD CHEF and having an abundance of lettuce on the farm gives me the opportunity to CREATE, TEST, TASTE, AND SHARE my SALAD RECIPES with anyone who will try them. I love putting together salad ingredients that incorporate both carbs and protein. One of my tricks for this salad technique is to incorporate small roasted potatoes…they are WONDERFUL in green salads and replace the need for bread or pasta in a meal.

Here is one of my favorites:

Summer Salad Meal

Baby new potatoes (red)
Zucchini
Grilled Chicken Breast (cooked fresh)
Feta Cheese
Lettuce Mixture ( Cleaned and cut into bite sized pieces) Your choosing, I love red leaf, and bibb lettuce mixed)

Preheat Oven to 400 degrees
1. Boil potatoes until just fork tender, cool, cut into halves or quarters.
2. Cut zucchini into quarter sized pieces and then cut each piece in half.
3. Toss potatoes and zucchini in a couple of teaspoons of olive oil, sprinkle with a little sea salt and oregano. Cook vegetables in 400 degree oven until the outside of the potatoes look a little crispy (10-15 minutes). Remove from oven, let cool for 15 minutes.
5. Grill Chicken Breast (marinate for at least an hour in an italian dressing before grilling).

Assemble the salad in a large shallow bowl. Toss lettuce, chicken, potatoes, zucchini, feta cheese, and a few tablespoons of vinagarette….

Basic Vinagarette

(I love this recipe…so easy….nice flavor..seasoned rice vinegar has a little sugar which sweetens it up a bit).

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 TBS Seasons Rice Vinegar
Salt/Pepper
1 tsp Dijon Mustard (this keeps the vinaigrette emulsified)
1 Shallot or a couple teaspoons of chopped vidalia onion

Blend, taste, adjust taste as needed…Keep for a week in the refrigerator.

Antique Shopping Finds

June 23, 2009

$5 Dollars or less…

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Simple Weekday Dinner Party

June 18, 2009

Hosting small impromptu dinner parties in the middle of the week is one of my favorite hobbies. I love catching up with friends as much as I enjoy the process of putting something together. We are as busy as most, so in order to pull it off, I follow a few tips to keep my dinners SIMPLE and SPECIAL.

The SIMPLE PART:

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1) Think of your dinner party as “a couple extras” coming for a meal. If you keep weekday dinner parties small by inviting one couple or one family at a time, it is much easier to “throw” something together. I like to choose one meal a week on my menu plan and add a little extra (or double) the ingredients on my weekly grocery list. Ultimately, this saves time and money and makes the whole idea of impromtu weekday entertaining…not so “big”. If you end up NOT entertaining, use the extra food for left-over lunches or a second meal.

2) Keep the main meal to three simple dishes that take under and hour to prepare. I usually stick with a formula for weekday entertaining…a protein, a carb, a green and a store-bought desert. Last night, I served, Drunken Chicken, Warm Orzo Salad, and a Green Salad (from the garden). Try to have 90% of the meal EN ROUTE by the time your guests arrive. When my guests arrived last night, chicken was in the oven, salad was made, cookies were plated…that gave me the time to “be with my friends” instead of “in the kitchen”.

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3) For a quick table setting, keep an “off-the-shelf” table setting ready to go. My stocked option is all things “white and clear”. Clean white napkins, white candles, white plates, glass votives, and a few white accented items. I change the look of my table by switching out flowers and table cloths. White looks GREAT with almost EVERYTHING! I have purchased a lot of my “white collection” from stores like Home Goods or Tuesday Morning for next to nothing.

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4) Buy store bought desserts (Trader Joes offers the most AMAZING deserts) or ask your guests to bring one (I don’t enjoy baking so this is a quick way for me to save time). Last night I baked snicker doodles (frozen dough) and served them with fresh fruit salad (brought by friends)…EASY PEASY. This is the perfect item to ask a guest to bring because STORE bought options are so good.

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THE SPECIAL PART:

5) If you have time, try to make each place setting special by giving “their” place a name with a little gift. My children LOVE to make place cards so I keep plain white cards (I buy them by the box at Michaels) and cut them down to little squares. Yesterday I asked the girls to make flowers on each card. I gift my guests with SIMPLE, INEXPENSIVE or FREE…sprigs of oregano from the garden, small chocolates, a votive candle tied with ribbon..these are all easy items to keep “on hand” and surely will make your guest smile.

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6) Last but not least…stay in the moment during dinner. Weekday meals tend to last a shorter amount of time than a weekend event, so enjoy every moment. LAUGH, SHARE STORIES, TALK POLITICS, BOOKS, DREAMS…this is what makes time with friends so special.

One rule I follow ALWAYS…NEVER do dishes when friends or family are in the house for a small weekday dinner party…You might miss the best part of the night…BEING WITH FRIENDS.

Also, don’t forget…it is “A Beautiful Life” Friday over at The Inspired Room . It is a great weekend treat!

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