Thursday, February 25, 2010

Just a little bit of green . . .

Like most of you, I am really looking for little signs that spring is on it's way.  I have seen a couple of tiny signs, one being the goldfinches at my feeders beginning to change from their olive drab coats of winter and showing signs of their bright yellow underneath.  The birds also seem to be singing a lot more these days, and I'm hoping that is another sign that spring isn't far away

The plants in the bottles you see below are Cuban oregano that I have kept over the winter in my kitchen/breakfast room window.

They are beyond ready to be potted, so I guess I'll be dragging out some of my pots soon and giving them some soil to grow in; I am sure they would appreciate it.  I do not cook with Cuban oregano, although I am sure you can.  Instead, I love it in pots with flowers such as impatiens and other annuals.  It grows extremely easily and the colors of the foliage range from green to white to a pinkish color.  It also smells wonderful!

And on Monday I took three pots I got at Dollar Tree (3 for $1) and a few packets of herb seeds and started them for summer.

They are (l to r) chives, Italian parsley and sweet basil.  The basil is even showing signs of sprouting.  Within a few weeks I will be able to snip off bits to add to my cooking, and after the danger of frost has passed, I will divide them up and plant them in my yard.  Yum, I can't wait for fresh basil, fresh mozzarella and sliced home grown tomatoes with a touch of salt, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and a tiny drizzle of balsamic vinegar.  Oh, be still my beating heart and watering taste buds!!!

And speaking of fresh produce, have any of you tried the 'green' bags for storing produce?  Well, I put it off as long as I could, and to be honest I just couldn't see paying $10 for a box of green plastic bags.  But this Brawny brand can be found at Dollar General for considerably less than the other name brand, and you get 18 one gallon  size zippered bags.  I don't remember how much, but I'm thinking less than $8 for a box.  And believe me, they are well worth that price.  I think I am in love!!!

The head of iceberg lettuce in the bag above has been in that same bag for at least three weeks, and it is just as fresh and crisp as the day I brought it home.  It will be cut tonight for a salad for me and tacos for hubby for our dinner.

Above is part of a head of cauliflower, and it's been in there for a week, and is doing just fine!  I'm thinking some cream of cauliflower soup is on my menu one day soon!  And I don't have a recipe to share; it's just one of those things I throw together and it always comes out great.  I will say that chicken broth, a bit of onion, garlic, and heavy cream are the other main ingredients.

Here you can see carrots and a cucumber.  And yes, we eat a LOT of carrots!  They are one of our favorite veggies, and are so versatile!  The bag on the right side are full sized carrots, and I need to put a paper towel in there to absorb some of the moisture.  Other than that, these babies will keep for at least a month.  They won't last that long, but they will keep that long or longer.  The left hand bag holds 3 one pound bags of 'baby' carrots.  Kroger had them on sale this week, so I just emptied all 3 bags into one of the green bags.  I find these don't keep as long as regular carrots, but the bag helps prolong their life.  The cucumber is one of the 'English' or hot house cukes, and I had to cut it in half to get it to fit in the bag.  It will keep at least twice as long in the bag as it would just wrapped in plastic in the crisper.

That up above is a red bell pepper that has been in there about three weeks, cut for at least two of those weeks, and it is still just crisp as can be!  I'm saving that for my Pioneer Woman pizza!  And speaking of pizza, I have found that tomatoes do really well in the bags, too.  I had a few of the 'on the vine' tomatoes in a bag, just sitting on the counter, and they kept for about 2 weeks, which is pretty remarkable.  Right now I have about 2/3 of a pound of grape tomatoes in the original box, and 3 more of the 'on the vine' tomatoes, and they will keep there for a while.

So, I guess what I am saying with all of this is that, although I wasn't too sure that a plastic bag could prolong the life of my produce, I was mistaken!  A green plastic bag CAN and does prolong the life of my produce.  Here is what the box says about how they work:
  • Produce protector bags remove ethylene gas to prolong the life and freshness of the produce.  Most fruit and vegetables release ethylene gas after harvest, exposure to the gas accelerates aging in fruits and vegetables.
  • Unlike ordinary plastic bags, produce protector bags "breathe" so that damaging gases produced by the fresh produce are removed.
  • Produce protctor bags minimize moisture formation and inhibit bacteria growth.
  • Maintains fruit and vegetables at their best.

And I have found the bags last a good long while, too!  I have been washing the emptied bags, sticking them over something to dry, and re-using them to good eftect.  I am sure they will eventually wear out, and you'd better bet I will be hunting up another box or two.  So, what products are you sold on these days???  Blessings folks, Becky

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Aimee's Gift

A couple of weeks ago one of my blog friends, Aimee of 'The Daily Apron' had a great Valentines Day giveaway, and I was the lucky winner!  So, I've been patiently waiting for my package to arrive; don't you just love it when you know something is coming, but you don't know just when!  Anyway, earlier today when I went to look out my front door at the sunshine that is trying to peek out from behind the clouds, I happened to look down and there was a box sitting in front of the door.  For me????  Here's what I found!

A box decorated all over with pretty pink and red hearts and other valentines type stickers.  Very sweet!  So, I took it inside and opened it.

And here's what was inside . . .

A pack of valentines stickers - a little something extra Aimee said, and . . .

a bag of heart shaped ring pops, a box of Trader Joe's baking ccoa, two boxes of Trader Joe's instant pudding - one chocolate and one vanilla, and . . .

a box of Daisy Go Round Girl Scout cookies (hmmm, chocolate pudding, a couple of cookies, some cool whip - can you say dessert!).  There was also . . .

a cotton candy flavored lip smacker and a bunch of valentines static cling window decorations.  Here's a look at 'almost' everything . . .

She even used some very pretty valentines ribbon and gold foil hearts that will most definitely make it into my cardmaking stash!   And yes, I am holding out on you! There was also this . . .

The most precious apron - hand made by Aimee - in pinks and chocolates, with the most precious gathered pocket and a heart shaped button!  It is gorgeous, and it's very well made, and if you know me at all, you know I collect aprons, so now this one will be a very special addition to my collection!

Aimee, for a good while now you have encouraged me with your sweet comments on my blog, and you have no idea how much it means to me!  Now I have a 'piece' of you and your huge heart here to remind me of my sweet blogging friend across on the other side of the country.  You are a blessing, thank you from the bottom of my heart!  Becky

Saturday, February 20, 2010

And it's all your fault!!!

It has been a gorgeous day here in north Georgia! After weeks of below normal temps and above normal frozen precipitation, having a bright, sunshiney day with temps in the upper 50's and lower 60's was heaven!

So, this afternoon hubby and I decided to go have Mexican for dinner. And I have to admit, since moving out here in the 'boonies' about 6 1/2 years ago, the main disappointment we have had is the sad lack of really good Mexican food. There are places, but none of them as good as our old favorite, El Torero! So, since it was so pretty, we decided to drive the 30 or so miles to the nearest location of El Torero for dinner. Now the food hadn't changed a bit, it was as delicious as ever; the prices, however, had changed - for the worse! About 1/3 more than we used to pay just a few years ago. But it was still worth it to have some really, really good Mexican food.

Anyway, after we left the restaurant I happened to look toward the other end of the shopping center and see a sign I had never seen before. I immediately went to bouncing up and down and made hubby kind of nervous. Wanna know what it was???

It . . .

was . . .
a Trader Joes!!!
Now, before I started blogging, I had never heard of Trader Joe's! And to be honest, I just assumed there were none in our area, but apparently I was wrong, and there are about 1/2 dozen Atlanta area locations.
Well, of course we had to go in and check it out. we grabbed one of their dinky little red buggies (our first indication it wasn't our normal supermarket) and made our way inside.

It was nice! A little 'disorderly', but that could have been because it was 6:30 pm on a Saturday night and full of people!  There is a huge emphasis on natural and organic products - no surprise there, and there was quite a variety of things from which to choose.  So, hubby and I made our way down one aisle and up another, picking up a few things to bring home with us.  What did we get?  Well, here goes!

There was this . . .

Doesn't it look scrumptious?  Trust me, it smells even better!  I've already decided I'll have some toasted with butter and orange marmalade for breakfast tomorrow!  And it was $1.99 - not bad for a loaf of bread as large as this one is!

And this, because we needed OJ.  It had nothing to do with the fact it was Trader Joe's, I promise!  We drink a lot of OJ in this house, and this will hold us over until I can go do the 'big' shopping early next week.
These were called 'cocktail' grapefruits, and that intrigued hubby, so we got one for each of us.  We like grapefruit, and they are good for you, so there!
And there was this!  I needed a big bottle of EVOO - I use a fair amount of it, and this was a good price, so I got it.  The grape tomatoes and fresh mozzarella are for THIS which I intend to make one day next week, with alterations.  Instead of eggplant I think I may use zucchini, onions and red peppers, all roasted a bit first.  Sounds delicious!  Hubby wants ham, so maybe his half will have ham and mine won't.  I'm not really a 'ham on my pizza' kind of gal!
Now, don't go all goofy on me here, but there was also this . . .
It's a pretty brown paper bag with a wine bottle on the front.
And a real bottle of wine inside!  Now, we aren't wine 'gourmands' at ALL!  We like what we like and that's what we get.  And to be honest, we may drink wine 6-8 times a year, so it's obviously not big on our list of things to 'study'.  But this bottle looked interesting and was a decent price, so we got it.  It is now sitting in our fridge chillin' until we decide it's time to try it out.  And it's not just 'a' wine, it's . . .
 . . . a sparklng wine, so how bad can it be - really?
Overall I loved Trader Joe's, but it's just too far away from our home to visit on a regular basis, and to be honest I prefered our Harry's/Whole Food by a mile. (Originally 'Harry's Farmers Market' eventually bought out by Whole Foods)  But it was fun, and I just LOVE the 99 cent tote bag that we bought to bring our purchase home in - I'll be using that for 'other' things, I am sure!
So, do you have a Trader Joes?  And what is your #1 favorite product from there???  Tell us, please!  Becky

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

An Exciting Morning!!!

Hi Folks!  I just had to share something with you over here today!  You all know I love making cards, right?  Well, today I had some wonderful news!  One of my cards was chosen for this week's inspiration card for Paper Crafts magazine's Moxie Fab World 'Tuesday Trigger'!!!  And I know that many of you read sweet Kim's blog Dear Daisy Cottage, and my inspiration came from a pic on her blog!!!  You can read all about it HERE on my cardmaking blog or at the Moxe Fab blog via the link above!

The Inspiration Lampshade

My Card

This has seriously made me one very, very happy girl!  Have a blessed day!  Becky

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Snowy South

So, let me say first that I 'KNOW' this isn't a lot of snow to some of you, especially my friend Jane who has been snowed in for weeks now in her mountain house in NC.  (Hey Mountain Woman!)  But . . . here in Georgia we don't get one this pretty very often, so when we do, I try to enjoy all the beauty!

The snow started about 1:15 - 1:30 yesterday (Friday) and snowed for about 8-9 hours straight.  We ended up with 3 1/2 - 4" and it's one of the prettiest snows I can remember.   It's light and fluffy and just gorgeous.  Enjoy the slide show.

Last night traffic in Atlanta was just gridlocked!  The roads were slushy and freezing fast.  I'm so glad hubby doesn't:  1) work in Atlanta, and 2) have to take any interstates to get home!  As it was, it took him about 1/3 more time than usual to get home.

Temps got down into the mid 20's last night, so anything that was on the roads froze solid.  The state had DOT workers out all night trying to keep the roads salted and graveled, but it was just too much.  Today all the roads in the area are just solid ice!  They are telling everyone to just stay HOME!  Hubby had planned on going to work today but that was a no go.  I had planned on attending my first ever meeting of the local Farmgirls chapter, but that is a no go as well.  Guess we won't be going out for Japanese for Valentines tonight, either!  Maybe we can do that next week.

This is our third 'decent' snow this season, and usually we are lucky if we get one!  And now they are saying Monday we may have another one!  Don't you just love El Nino!!!

So, since weare literally snowed in, I'm gonna be playing with paper today.  What are you doing??? Becky

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Celebrity Sightings

First, let me qualify this by saying, I am NOT a celebrity person, I mean, I am not one of those people who screams at the thought of Brad Pitt,  envious of Julia Roberts, or in general a follower of celebrities.  They are people like you and me, they just have jobs that put them out there in the public eye.  But I have had a few brushes with celebrities that I'll never forget!

In July, 1985 hubby and I were on our honeymoon in Las Vegas, staying at the old Hacienda hotel and casino.  By the way, we watched them implode that hotel years later on New Years Eve, live on TV!  Anyway, we were playing a few slot machines and I was around the corner from hubby.  He came over to me, crooked his finger in a 'come over here' manner, and when I walked over to where he was, there stood Redd Foxx - Fred Sanford himself!  Playing the slot machine just a couple down from hubby. 

Now, I didn't speak to him, but hubby did - he asked hubby if anyone was using that slot machine and hubby said no!  We knew he was headlining a show in the Hacienda's main stage, so I guess he was in a break between shows or something.  Anyway, the main thing I remember about him was that I couldn't imagine anyone looking less like Fred Sanford than he did!  He looked great, dressed in slacks, a cream blazer that looked like cashmere, and a cute beret atop his head.  A nice memory - one of many - from our honeymoon.

For thirty years I worked for Southern Bell/ BellSouth in the Atlanta area.  If you lived in a BellSouth area in the late 80's to early 90's you will remember Dixie Carter as the voice of the BellSouth Yellow Pages.  I worked in the Yellow Pages, and when they announced that she would be doing our commercials, the company threw a big party at our office, out in the parking lot and we were all invited! 

Dixie was very gracious and sweet, posed for pictures with all of us and just in short made it a special day.  Somewhere in this house I have a picture of me, Dixie and a couple of my friends.  Another brush with celebrity, and another great memory.

In 1993 I went on a trip to New York City with a friend of mine and about 40 or so of her fellow ladies club members.  The trip up there and back on the bus was so much fun!  We saw Cats on broadway, walked about 50+ blocks on 5th Avenue from Bloomingdales to Macy's at Herald Square, visited the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, hired a limo and rode around the Twin Towers and saw the damage from the first time they were attacked, just a few weeks before our trip. 

Oh, and we also went to a taping of the 'old' Geraldo Rivera show.  You know, the one that was more along the line of Montel or Oprah?  The show they were taping that day was really stupid, but it did have it's moments, one of which was that I made it on TV!  I asked a question of one of his guests, and it made it onto TV!  But the most memorable 'moment' was that I got to give Geraldo a gift!  We  had just recently found out that the Olympics were coming to Atlanta in 1996, so I carried him a tee shirt with the Atlanta Olympics logo on it and was able to give it to him and receive a hug in return.  He was very nice, chatted with us a few minutes and thanked us for the goodies we took to him.  One of many memories from that trip.                                  

But by far my favorite brush with a celebrity took place in the Houston airport!  We were taking my nephew on a trip to Colorado and had a stop-over in Houston.  We found seats near our gate, left hubby there to watch our stuff, and went to look at the shops in the concourse.  As we walked toward the shop my nephew wanted to see, I saw what I thought was a familiar face, but I wasn't sure.  I put my nephew in the shop, said stay right there, and walked down a ways. 

When I heard his voice, I knew it was Frank Bielec!  Do you remember him?  He was one of the decorators on Trading Spaces, and I just loved him, and his style!  So, I went to meet him, introduced myself, we chatted for a sec and went our separate ways.  I went to get my nephew and we went to our seats, and guess who was sitting right there next to hubby!  Yep, it was Frank.  I walked right past hubby who was barely containing himself - he really wanted to tell me Frank was there, but he didn't know we'd already met!  He still tells me I really stole his thunder that day!

I sat down next to Frank and we spent the next 45 minutes or so talking like we had known each other forever!  And hubby and nephew literally had to pull me out of that seat and down the aisle to get on the plane that was already almost full!  As soon as I got on the plane I called my best friend and told her who I had just met!  It was such a special moment for me!  And best of all, Frank Bielec in person was just like he was on the show, warm and genuine and funny.  And encouraging!  He told me the only thing that was keeping me from becoming the 'artist' in me was ME and the words I Can't!  Man, it still makes me happy just thinking of that day, and how exciting it was.  By far, my favorite celebrity 'sighting'.

So, tell me!  Who have you met, who do you know, or even this, who would you LOVE to meet? 

Friday, February 5, 2010

A New Friend Of The Feathered Kind!

I have a new visitor to my back deck/bird feeding station.  He/she isn't eating from the feeders, either safflower or suet, but is eating off the table or floor where I put seed for the ground feeders.  I've named him/her Spot because of the pretty spots all over it's chest.  Hubby and I first noticed Spot this past Sunday when we were sitting at the computer looking for somewhere to spend our spring vacation. (Grayton Beach St. Park, FL - fyi!)   I had never seen this bird out there before, and couldn't figure out what 'it' was.  Finally, a couple of days later I found Spot in my book.

Pic courtesy All About Birds

He's a wood thrush.  Smaller and with a shorter tail than it's cousin the brown thrush (our GA bird, btw), and usually not found in this part of the world until mid to late March!  His primary diet is insects and fruit - not seeds.  He hops around my deck all the time, and appears hungry.  The only seed I have right now is safflower and thistle, and there aren't many insects around right now.  So I cut an apple in half, then cut 1/2 in thirds and put the pieces on the deck.  He never once looked at them, but the squirrels apparently LOVE apples - who knew!

Pic courtesy Nature Sound

But he eats a few of the safflower seeds, and is an almost constant visitor to the deck.  He sits on the rails, looking out toward the woods out back.  He has a beautiful song, which I hear from time to time, but he just seems lonely.

Pic courtesy Wikipedia

So, what is he doing here a full 6 weeks before he is due, and why is he alone?  I wish I could ask him (or her) and find out where he's been this winter, if he has been in the area and just found my deck by accident, or if he just decided to head back to GA on his own.  Or did he lose his mate last summer and couldn't bear leaving the area alone.  Inquiring minds want to know, you know! 

Have a great weekend friends!  Becky

Monday, February 1, 2010

Small Changes

The other day I was wandering around the house, trying to make a few 'seasonal' changes in decor, and wanted to do something with a hint of Valentines sweetness in my huge cloche on the dining room table.

I wandered and looked and eventually grabbed a favorite teacup and saucer. It's American Beauty by Royal Albert, and it's gorgeous! I bought it at an antique store in a small town on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, and just love it. Honestly I would love to have a set!

Anyway, the teacup needed something, and out of the blue I thought of moss! I ran outside, up against one of the oak trees, and dug up a few small pieces of moss, filled the teacup almost full with potting soil and put the moss on top. I watered it, pressed it down pretty firmly, and covered it with the cloche.

The cloche still needed something, so I grabbed some of my pink scrunched seam binding and laced it through 3 old rusty skeleton keys, and tied it around the knob on top. I think it's precious!

So, tell me, how do YOU change up your decor in small, free ways??? Come on, tell us!!!