Friday, August 28, 2015

Food on Friday

Moving our daughter up to school last Thursday, followed by a difficult Friday, put me so off my posting.  So you'll get two posts about Pinterest recipes this week.  If you're looking to get a little "me time" into your weekend, there's snacks and quick meals to feed your family, so at least they won't come bugging you.  Well, they'll still bug you, but it won't be food.

I was testing these Chocolate Chip Pecan Granola Bars.  I'm looking for a good bar, that is chewy, but holds together well.  If it's good, I can customize what goes into them.  These were pretty good.  They did need to cool completely before cutting.  They had a soft, chewy texture.  I worried about a honey taste, but they were just lightly sweet - no overpowering honey flavor.  I think they'd ship well to someone in college, too.

We had peaches galore.  36 pounds of the lovely golden globes.  We hoark them down until we can't eat another one and then I can or freeze them.  So, in our gorging mode, I used them in this Perfect Peach Dumplings dessert.  It's been forever since I've had a dumpling, I forgot the soft texture.  They were good.  Next time I'd slice the peaches a little thicker and reduce the liquid just a bit so more of the tops were flaky.  Served them topped with fresh whipped cream.

There are people in my house who need to get off of fake sugar drinks; they think straight water is boring.  There seems to be a thought that it's not sugar, but I know enough that fake isn't any better (perhaps even worse) than over-consumption of the real stuff.  So I'm looking for easy to make alternatives to rid a pantry full of, basically, crap. Copycat Olive Garden Peach Tea appeared on my radar because I had peaches on the brain.  I must preface this with, I'm not a tea drinker.  It always smells so much better, to me, than it tastes.  I opted for Green Tea, which is usually a little stronger than Red varieties, so it wasn't as peachy as I'd have preferred.  I will probably keep the simple peach syrup recipe and add it to seltzer water or ginger beer, and I will try it with a red tea, maybe even a brewed and chilled peach tea.  I will not give up.

I made these Teriyaki Meatball Bowls for In-Law dinner.  I upped the ingredients by half, instead of a double, but I should have gone double.  The other mistake I made was the meatballs cooked too long, so they were a bit on the dry side, though the flavor was good.  I'll watch the cook time next time, or I'll use a mix instead of just ground pork.  The glaze however, was amazing.  I may also add some sweet peppers and broccoli florets just to get some more nutrition in them.

It's still a little warm for oven-cooked, sauced up recipes, but theses Chicken Enchiladas with Green Chili Sour Cream Sauce just sounded good.  And they were.  I appreciated the sauce wasn't made with canned cream-of-something soup, so it was nice and creamy without being overly heavy.  I added the seasoning from this Taco recipe to rotisserie chicken, but unseasoned rotisserie chicken would totally work, too.

Quesadillas recipes are really more reminders of combinations to fold inside than actual recipes.  Pizza Quesadillas are easy and fast and not a new idea for me - we've had them before.  But this blogger's "recipe" caught my eye because she said to fry the pepperoni first and that was a genious idea.  Crispy, bacon-like taste with gooey cheese.  It's now a permanent mental note for after-school snacks and lunches, or as a side to tomato soup for dinner.

We hosted a "Wish her luck" party, the day before Girlie took off for college.  Because it was in the middle of the week and school was in session for almost everyone, I opted to serve dessert.  These Orange Creamsicle Cookies were one of the choices.  I'm a creamsicle fan, old school, the current versions don't hold up to childhood memories, but these cookies took me back.

Have I said we have peaches?  The gathering also featured use of those peaches in this South Carolina Cobbler.  It was easy.  It was good.  I could have probably cooked it just a bit longer, as the center of the top wasn't quite as done as it might have been.  Served with homemade vanilla ice cream and there's wasn't a crumb left.

I made Slow Cooker Shredded Beef Tacos for an In-Law dinner.  I've mentioned before I'm not good with cuts of beef, all the names they go by in different regions and what I could substitute if I can't find a called for cut, but luckily the butcher was out when I was looking for the roast called for. She recommended a standard chuck pot roast, so that's what I went with and it came out delicious!  I finished it with chopped cilantro and served it with soft corn tortillas, but flour and even crispy taco shells would work.  It would be a good recipe to double and freeze half to keep on hand for quick dinners.  It would also be great on nachos.

I made Chocolate Chip Lava Cookies to go with the tacos and the left over ice cream from the gathering, topped with this Fudge Sauce.  They were good, really good.  Next time I'll bake them a little less time - maybe just a bit under cooked because they were a little crunchy, and therefore difficult to eat with a fork.  I'll also put more melted chocolate in the middle; I tend to be conservative with fillings the first time through.

We had eaten more peaches in a week than we do all year.  We were full.  We were done.  I still had a good 18 pounds of peaches to deal with and they were over-rippening fast.  I opted to slice, skin-on, and freeze some (I simply tossed the sliced peaches in a Fruit Fresh solution listed on the back label.  Layered them in single layers on a parchment covered cookie sheets and stuck them in the freezer, until frozen.  I had three sheet pans full.  I put all the individually frozen slices and into a large zip freezer bag to dole out over the winter.), and then halved/thick-sliced and canned the remaining.  I used the raw pack method in the post because the peaches were already getting over-soft, and I thought the hot pack might make them more so.  I also needed an additional half-recipe of the light syrup to finish up.  I ended up with five quarts.

We have no plans for the weekend.  I understand it will be hot.  Girlie is not coming down this weekend, she will be home the next two weekends, though.  We'll see what becomes of an un-scheduled couple of days.

Happy Friday,

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Throw Back Thursday

Life has been pretty crazy for my family with the beginning of a new school year and whatnot.  The crop I went to when I completed this page, along with three others, seems forever ago.  I need to get out.

I dug back to the Fall of 2012 to get this kit out, which I'm pretty sure was a Smaller kit, I'm thinking October or November.  The photos are from 2007, of my now High School Freshman son.  All of the kids had this same Thanksgiving program when they were in first grade.  The only differences were who had a speaking part, whether they were Pilgrims or Indians and what their costumes looked like.  With the kids attending the same school for K through 8, I have quite a few of these shared experiences that I could create pages for, or a mini album.  I'll have to get right on that.

Anyway, while I shot a lot of photos, they were pretty similar, so it's a matter of pairing out duplicates and bad lighting.  For this page I was left with four photos.  I know some people can stretch four photos into two pages, but I'm not that person.  I opted to go one-page.  I crop photos down and then push them around until I got a layout I like, and sometimes I trim a little more.  That's what I did here - the crop and shove method, which I'm sure will catch on soon.

I had to make a conscience decision to include more patterned paper and to layer.  Given that this was a smaller kit, I used a fair amount of paper (some were trial cuts that didn't work. ) For me, I probably have enough to create a card or two. I didn't use a single embellishment, though I tried, so I'll keep the pack with the remaining papers to use with cards, and if not then I'll sort them into my stash.

Seeing this layout makes me think I need to drag my still-packed-from-my-last-trip totes and just sit down and create one page.  Just one page.

Happy Thursday,

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

We Are

We are trying to get over a serious case of writer's block.  I think it's just coming down after all the pre-school prep and shopping.  My brain just couldn't handle one more thing, the least of which was composing thoughts and getting them down.

The Girlie in ensconced up at school.  Her room is was all set up and ready for hitting the books, or as an escape (she recuperates by finding solitude, just like her mom.)  It's weird and pretty quiet without her at home.  Though I have to say, with four kids, taking any one of them out of the mix for any amount of time and the noise level decreases exponentially.  I also have to say, I'm not missing the messes she leaves behind - shake maker and ingredients on the counters after her workouts, hair bands and clips on the floor (I've stepped on or sucked up more of these than Legos!), the kids' bathroom is clean (even though it's just the boys in there now), her room gives me peace whenever I see it because it's C.L.E.A.N. and laundry took me a day and a half without having to do her clothes.  

The high school boys are settling into, and even enjoying, some of their classes.  The second grader only started on Monday, but seems to be enjoying school; he was certainly excited enough about its impending start.

And life begins to settle into a new normal.

  • Week in the Life - Prepping desserts for a gathering of family.  
  • Week in the Life - If I'm in the kitchen, someone else usually cooks at his kitchen along side me.  Today he is offering, during the gathering later, "Get your free smoothie.  It has peas and bananas, all my sauces.  Stand open from 7:00 to 8:00"  I'm not sure "chef" is going to be his calling.
  • Week in the Life - Sometimes it's your own family that makes leaving easier.
  • Week in the Life - I couldn't stand to call it a "Good-Bye Party" so it was a "Wish Her Good Luck" party.  If we offer food, they will come.
  • Week in the Life - Here we are and here it begins.
  • Week in the Life - I posted on Instagram, "It took nine months to prepare for her arrival, and 18 years to let her go."
  • Week in the Life - Girlie, her room and her BFF.  For me, it was easier to say good-bye after checking out her building, her room, seeing the campus (at least what I could see of it from her room) and seeing all the things open for her to participate in.
  • Week in the Life - Good-byes were hard and tear-filled.
  • Week in the Life - She sent us what her finishing touches added to her room.  It's so her.
  • Week in the Life - We had an exciting morning - reverse 911 and this notice on my phone.  The bears were a mile from our neighborhood.  There have been half a dozen sightings in the suburban neighborhoods this year.  I guess pickings are bad in the foothills.
  • Week in the Life - Asleep.  Finger on the screen.
  • Week in the Life - Putting up the remainder of this year's peaches.  No jam.  But I did freeze slices (individually) so we'll see how those work.
  • Week in the Life - Class of 2019.  She told us she's the one in green.  Too bad she blinked.
  • Week in the Life - Clothes shopping with boys is such a different animal.
  • We are a Junior!  How?
  • We are so excited to start second grade.  Came downstairs, practically flying and singing how it was the first day.
  • We are almost used to the chaos of the first day; it's been 13 years so far.
  • We are ever so grateful to the chef who first whipped up hot cream, butter and chocolate to create this luscious concoction.
  • We are colored happy.
Happy Wednesday,

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Color Theory - Part 3 - Let's Play With Color

Last post we learned about the six basic color schemes that you’ll typically find noted on a color wheel:  Monochromatic, Analogous, Complimentary, Split Complimentary, Triadic and Tetradic (See the first post in the series HERE.)  We also talked about proportioning your color choices to enhance, not overwhelm, your layouts – Quart, Pint, and Ounce.  Today we’ll look at how to use the colors and how your choices affect your photos.

Want to see how color plays on color? How the color of your background can affect your photos and the other colors you choose. Look at these:

Play with the colors from your kits in combination with your photos.  Slide cardstock and/or patterned paper under photos to see how the various colors affect the pictures.  Do the colors enhance the photos?  Do the patterns detract from the photos?  Try selecting colors from your photos that aren’t directly related to what the subject is wearing.  Look for other colors in your photos you could use to lead your eye to the subject in the photo.  Depending on the feeling you’re attempting to achieve with your layout, your color choices can, and will, vary.  Let’s take a look at actual photos against, several different cardstock choices:

  • A Pink-on-Pink.  The matching color choice blurs the edges of the photo, pulling the color of the inner tube out, so all youre left with is the little mermaid as your focal point.
  • B Considered a neutral, black as a background color choice adds an immediate intensity and pushes the subject off the page and directly into your line of vision.
  • C White, also a neutral, as a background is softer than black, while still retaining all the brightness of the colors in the photo.  White gives a rest place for your eyes, away from some of the intensity of the colors.
  • D Green, pinks Complimentary Color, while high in contrast, doesnt compete with the photo.  Instead it helps to draw your eye to the subject, the little girl (my, now 13 year old niece), and creates a lot of energy and vibrancy.
  • E Blue, drawing off the color of the water, pulls your eye to the center of the photo, but keeps with the energy of the photo.
  • F Purple, one of pinks two Split Complementary colors, adds the energy, but reduces some of the intensity of the colors.
  • G Orange, one of the colors in pinks Triadic Color Scheme, actually softens the highly vibrant colors of the photo, while maintaining the feeling of summer.
As you look at the different color choices above, be aware of how your eyes feel as you look at them.  Is it easier to look at certain combinations?  Do you feel your eye pulled to different areas of the photo based on the different color combinations?  While none of the choices above are “bad” or “incorrect” (they are based on color scheme rules previously discussed) they will produce different feelings and different advantages over others.  It all depends on what you want from the layout and where you want the focus to be.

Still a little apprehensive?  That’s fine.  Start small by using a neutral background and then add to your pages with colorful accents following one of the color schemes in combination with the proportion method.   If you typically are drawn to lower contrast schemes, push yourself to go for high contrast once in a while, and visa-versa.  Play with neutral backgrounds and put your color schemes to work using your embellishments.   With a little experimentation, picking colors will be second nature and you’ll find you enjoy all the different aspects of what each color and its combinations will create on your layouts.

See – color is a GOOD thing!

Happy Thursday,

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

We Are

We are officially less than 24 hours away from escorting our oldest to college.  I've verified loans and disbursements, have her dorm address, her books are ordered and her belongings seem to be packed and waiting to be loaded.  I.  Am. Not. Ready.  I don't think I ever could be.

It's interesting, or maybe fortuitous, that Week In the Life falls this week, it's definitely a week worth documenting.  I've captured a few things, and forgotten a couple; like taking a picture of my older son on his first day as a Junior - duh.  I've never been good at capturing evening stuff either, something I'd like to try to remedy this week.  We'll see.

  • We are awaiting the opening acts for the Dierks Bentley concert at Fiddler's (my girlie is on the left)
  • We are rocking this summer concert, the last of the season
  • We are anxiously waiting for this homemade marshmallow sauce to be cool enough to taste
  • We are getting our 2015 supply of peaches from the Lafayette Peach Festival.  Let the frantic eating commence
  • We are officially kicking off Week in the Life 2015 with these three hooligans and their new beginnings
  • Week in the Life - first day of High School for this one, which also means I have one less drive this school year; he's hitching with his older brother.
  • Week in the Life - menu planning with the help of Pinterest
  • Week in the Life - he's still got one more week until he goes back to school, and is not shy about reminding his older siblings about his extra week of freedom
  • Week in the Life - testing out a new granola bar recipe
  • Week in the Life - he's up at the crack of dawn to help me pack his older brothers' lunches
  • Week in the Life - With eight years between him and his next sibling, he's always been sort of an only child in a large family.  With his sister's departure, the countdown to him being the only child at home is looming on the horizon; four years and counting.
  • Week in the Life - a Fall preview with temps in the 70's, rain and breezes tinged with crispiness.
Happy Wednesday,