Friday, December 24, 2010

Holiday Goodies.

When the holidays come around every year I get really excited for many reason. One of those reasons is that I get to make lots of goodies to share with my friends and family.  

I usually dedicate at least one day to baking every holiday season and this year was no different.  Last Sunday I made some of my chocolate chip banana muffins, a spiced nut mix and molasses popcorn balls!

The Spiced Nuts 
(I used almonds, pecans and walnuts.)

In addition to what I made on Sunday, I spent quite a bit of time on Tuesday in the kitchen.  I made...

Fudge - with and without walnuts 
(but I forgot to take a picture...)

Persimmon Cookies

Spitz Cookie Press Cookies

Wreaths and Flowers!

Peppermint Snowball Cookie

Snickerdoodle Cookies

And OF COURSE chocolate chip cookies!

The goodies all boxed up.

After everything was set and cooled, I made goodies plates to take to neighbors, bring to friends and share with family.

This is just one of the many finished goodie plates.

Christmas Time is HERE!

Christmas really snuck up on me this year, so it's a good thing that I started decorating the day after Thanksgiving.  I did most of the decorating that first weekend, but added other little touches throughout the month of December.

To me - Christmas isn't the same without having Christmas lights, so of course I have those!

Lights around the front door.

Lights on the balcony railing.

Lights around the bathroom ceiling.

And lights around the dining room/kitchen ceiling.
Also pictured are two of the amazing snowflakes 
that a great friend helped me make!

Oh - and you can't forget the Christmas tree.  

Mine is fake - because it's easier.  As much as I love real trees, they're pretty messy.  I had one last year and my cats knocked it completely over.  This year I decided to get the real pine smell from a tiny miniature tree and a wreath hung on the front door.

And the decorations don't end there.  In addition to lights in many places, I have little touches of Christmas scattered about!

The wooden wreath on the Den door.

The Welcome Sign outside the front door.

Pine Cone Stocking Hangers.
Yes - I know, there aren't any stockings hung yet, but there will be some! :)

Bell Ornaments hung from the hallway ceiling.
(Note: the picture doesn't do justice to what it really looks like!)

And last but not least ... a Santa hat added to a wooden monkey to make him festive for the holidays!
I also kept one hanging bat up from Halloween and added a hat to him too, 
but for some reason I didn't photograph that. 

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas - or whatever holidays you celebrate this time of year!  

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Fall Garden: 15 Weeks

No real update this week due to the fact that it's been raining nonstop since Thursday and is forecast to continue until Wednesday.  

Look for a new post after Christmas! 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Happy (Belated) Hanukkah with a Latke Competition!

I've been going to the same Hanukkah party for quite a few years and last year they implemented a new traditions - a latke making competition! 

Being the cook that I am, I decided I was going to give it a whirl. I'd never made them before, but I didn't think it would be too hard.  With the help of a great friend, we whipped up a batch and they were amazing. The best I'd ever tasted, but I may have been partial because I'd made them... :)

We ended up winning!  It was great and even better because I was the only non-Jewish person to win.

Knowing there was a competition again this year, we knew we had to step it up from last year.  We decided on...

Jalapeno latkes!

Were they a hit?

Yes! Yes, they were!

Were they winners?


The rules were different this year! Last year there was only one winner and it was yours truly.  This year though, they awarded Best Tasting, Best Looking AND Better Luck Next Time!

So did I win again?!?!?!?

I didn't win for Best Tasting! :(


I did win for Best Looking! 

(Disclaimer: I was too busy making about 50 latkes that 
I didn't take many pictures and this is the best I got 
which isn't a great representation of the win!)

Woo Hoo!  Two Time winner!!!  It was great to win last year, but even better to keep up the winning tradition for a second year in a row.

To be honest though, I couldn't have done it without the help of Josh and a few extra special taste testers.

Hanukkah may be over now, but I may still make more latkes before the end of the year... YUM!

Fall Garden: 14 Weeks

Yes, I know I missed Week 13 for my garden, but I had a crazy busy weekend and never got a free moment to photograph or write about my crops.  Don't worry too much though because not a lot changed - I was too busy to change anything! :)

This week a lot changed though!

There is no longer a tomato plant due to a wind storm causing a disaster on my balcony. The wind knocked my huge storage unit over and in the process took out what was left of the tomato plant.  RIP Tomato Plant.

I also harvested the rest of the scallions to use while cooking this afternoon.  I will be planting them again that's for sure!

Before Cleaning

And After!

And lastly, I pruned the mint back quite a bit. It was looking kind of dull and decided to cut it back just a bit.

All the other herbs are still kickin' and my rosemary is going crazy. I need to use that soon I guess.

Upright Rosemary


Flat Leaf Parsley



The spinach is still doing well, but I'm waiting until it gets more full to harvest again.

The carrots are doing great - tiny bits are starting to pop up from the soil! And the beets are thriving. The beet greens are going crazy so I hope that means good things for the actual beets.



The Jalapeno plant is still going strong. It's one of the first plants from the garden I planted over Memorial Day.  There are still little tiny peppers attempting to grow!

Last but not least, the snap peas.  I've eaten all the peas that were on the plant, but while taking photos today I noticed a new blossom and a couple new teeeeeeeny tiny peas!

Invitations, Housewives and Dinner

One of my best friends is getting married in January.  We're going to Jamaica for a destination wedding - I'm SO excited! :)

Anyway, a few weeks ago said friend came over so I could help her stuff the invitations. We made an afternoon/evening out of it though by adding dinner and some crappy girl TV! It was a perfect way to spend a Saturday.

While stuffing the invitations, Baked Ziti (with Fall Shaped pasta instead of actual Ziti) and garlic bread were in the oven, and the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills were playing one episode after the next.  We got the invites done in no time and had more time to chat and just relax.

The Fall Shaped Pasta

The Garlic Bread

The finished meal! 

The Yellow Pot

Over the past few months, many things have lived and grown in the yellow pot.  I purchased this pot at a local craft store and it was quite cheap so that makes it even better. 

Here's a look at what I've grown in the yellow pot so far!

First it was the mint...

Then it was the garlic...

Followed by spinach...

And currently the chives!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Fall Garden - 12 Weeks

There have been quite a few things happen to my garden this week and I can't wait to tell you about it all! 

I think it's only logical to start with the news about the tomato plant since technically that was the first plant in my food producing garden. 

It started out so small and grew to be...gigantic! I got fruit from it - lots of fruit from it - from June until October. There were still a few tomatoes on it last week, but they weren't good quality so they went to the birds.  

Now what's the news about this plant you wonder?

Well - it was finally time to chop it down - almost completely! I will try to keep it alive over winter and into next Spring to see if it will blossom again. If it does, that would be awesome, if not, then I really haven't lost that much. 

Here's what it looks like after going to town with the pruners.

The next exciting news this week has to do with the Strawberry plant.  Strawberry plant? Yes, I know - you haven't heard about it in ages, but that's because I thought it was history. HA! Little did I know that it was growing like crazy and STILL producing fruit.  I looked in and to my shock saw some smaller berries that weren't ripe and one nice bright red one!

 The thriving plant it came from. 

And finally, it is time for the third and final news of the week.  I kept this for last because sadly I don't have any photographs of it. It's still exciting though so that's why it's getting a mention.  On Saturday - I harvested my scallions for the first time.  I've had them for awhile, but it was just now time to pull the biggest of the bunch.  I ended up pulling four out of the soil, but had already taken pictures for the blog by the time of the harvest. 

The other plants are still doing great too, but haven't changed enough to warrant being included in the exciting new category. :) 

The carrot greens are getting so big and so are a few of the beet greens.  I can't wait to see what happens with both of them in the future.  


I love having spinach growing on my balcony. It's so easy to come out, cut off a bunch and use it right then and there. I've done it multiple times and the little plants keep on growin'! 

The snap peas are still growing strong, but I haven't seen any new flowers recently. I'll keep you updated  I promise! 

And the herbs are still doing quite well. The Flat Leaf Parsley and Thyme are kind of small at the moment, but that's because I used a lot of them cooking recently. I have faith they'll be back soon!

Flat Leaf Parsley



Upright Rosemary



Last but NOT least, the Jalapeno Plant.  I can't believe there are still peppers growing on that sucker. There are five big ones that will be ready to pick soon and a few other small ones. It's almost December too. WOW! That's all I can say.