Monday, January 31, 2011

Happy Birthday To...

ME! :)

Yes, I did just wish myself a happy birthday and I'll probably do it again next year! 

My birthday celebration began a few days early and will continue for a few days after. I love that my birthday is actually celebrated for more like a week - at least!

The celebrating started on Friday afternoon when my amazing friend, Ron met me at work and we went to Hole In The Wall Burger Joint. We both had the turkey burger on the pretzel bun. Yes, you heard me correct - PRETZEL bun. YUM!!!

I continued the celebration on Saturday night by getting together with a few of my closest friends. We met at my apartment for a little pre-dinner fun then made our way to The Melting Pot for some birthday fondue!

Fondue à la France

Spinach Artichoke Cheese Fondue

Our Server

Mmmmm cheese!

Oil and two batters to bread the meat in

After dinner we came back to my place for some homemade ice cream I'd made earlier in the day. I know - fondue AND ice cream, what am I thinking? I'm thinking it's my birthday and I want to so I will! :)

I made Strawberry and Mint Chocolate Chip. Both were delicious and I could eat them every day.

On Sunday, the celebration continued with the amazing gift of a Dwarf Key Lime Tree and an awesome Cedar Planter for it. I loveeeee it and couldn't be happier!

There are already little buds on the tree and I can't wait to see the growth.

And today.  Today, I'm going to work. I've taken my birthday off in years past, but this year I didn't. It's not really a big year and I've already had so much fun.

Tonight I plan on getting something yummy for dinner and enjoying a nice relaxing night sitting on the couch watching something recorded on the DVR.

OH! I cannot forget.


You are an amazing sister-in-law and friend. Thank you so much for EVERYTHING. I love you and miss you!!!

Becky is getting a homemade card, but I can't post it yet - I'll update when I know she's seen the card in person before online. :)

And one last thing...

Not only am I super excited because today is my birthday, but I'm very pleased to let everyone know that this post, yes the one you're reading RIGHT now, is the 100th post for my blog!

100 post! Yes! Here's to the next 100.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

What's Going On With The Garden???

I'll finally admit it. I haven't wanted to, but it's true so I might as well. 

My Fall Garden isn't nearly as cool or plentiful as my First one last Sprint was. With that said, I can't wait to plant my Spring Garden THIS year! :)

Even though my Fall Garden isn't doing amazing, the few things I have left are doing quite well.

My pride and joy at the moment though are my Paper Whites! I know they aren't edible, but gardening isn't ONLY edible plants. I like the little mix I have of edible and non edible.

Back to the Paper Whites!

On Saturday, I noticed that the bulbs I'd planted with care had not only sprouted, but were now blooming! I had one full flower and many other buds. I'm so happy and excited to share. I can't wait to keep you updated with the blooming progress now.

The herbs are still doing quite well. The Flat Leaf Parsley and the Upright Rosemary are STILL alive from last Spring. Both have been used an uncountable amount of times, but keep coming back and are heartier than ever.

The thyme is doing well and seems to have new sprouts coming up from the soil.  

And the mint.  Well - part of it, a main chunk of it in fact, was turning brown and not looking so healthy. I decided it was time for some mint pruning and that's what I did!

The spinach is almost all gone. Three of the four plants I had left were dead or near dead on Saturday so it was time for them to go. 

The one and only spinach plant left!

I haven't really had tons of success with the beets and carrots, but they look pretty!

And lastly, what my cats enjoy the most - their cat grass!

Nom nom nom!

Monday, January 24, 2011

My Apologies and The Paperwhite Progress

I know, I know - I haven't posted in forever! 

I'm really sorry that I've neglected my blog recently...but I've had good reason. Really, I have!

Life has been pretty hectic lately and on top of that, I was out of the country for a bit for one of my best friend's weddings. See, that's at least ONE good reason. :) I promise I'll be posting more about the wedding soon!

Now that I've taken care of my lack of blogging apologies, on to the Paperwhites Progress!

I planted my Paperwhites the first of the year and have been watching their progress since then.  It was so exciting when the first little sprout popped up from the soil, but even more exciting when ALL the bulbs sprouted!

After a little more than three weeks of growth, I am quite pleased with their progress so far and can't wait for them to start blooming. I'll just have to be patient, which really isn't one of my strong suits so we'll see how that goes.


The only time I've attempted to grow bulbs before, was with the help of my 11th grade Plant Biology teacher. We grew tulips then and they were quite a success, so I'm hoping I can soon say the same for my Paperwhites!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Ooey Gooey Popcorn Balls

I made some fresh popped popcorn on New Years Eve, but I made entirely too much. I couldn’t just throw it away, so I covered it and went to bed without knowing what I’d do with it.

The next morning - after staying in bed extra late because it was New Years Day and I could, so I did - I  decided the leftover popcorn would make tasty popcorn balls!

I’d made popcorn balls a few times and was never really impressed. I tried a molasses recipe and while it was good, it was VERY molassesassy. My goal this time was to make popcorn balls like the ones I remember from when I was a kid.

After searching Google for a bit I came across a recipe that seemed like it would bring me back to my childhood.

I looked in my pantry and it turned out I had everything I needed, so I went to town making the balls. Popcorn balls that is! :) 

The mixture was gooey. Ooey gooey like I remembered.

I dove in and nearly burned my hands because I wanted to form the balls before the mixture was cool enough.

And I cheated. I tried the yummy sweet concoction before forming all the balls. Cheating was worth it thought because man, oh man they were taaaaasty!

I will be making them again, but that doesn’t mean I’m done experimenting with different types of popcorn balls.

Fall Garden - Week Who Knows!?!?!

It was quite crisp yesterday, but I decided my balcony was in serious need of sweeping and tidying up. While I was out there, I figured it was the perfect time to transplant my mini Christmas tree into a bigger, more permanent planter.  I also transplanted another plant I have. It’s quite odd looking and I have NO idea what it is, but I like it!

After the cleaning it was photo time!

The jalapeno are still there and it’s JANUARY! I am so amazed.. Not too much new growth, but there are still two peppers growing! I trimmed back the plant quite a bit to try to get all the plant’s energy and nutrients to go to the lil suckers. :)

And the snap peas are doing quite well too. Granted, they were planted much later, but I’m still amazed when I see new shoots, new blooms and tiny new pea pods!

Ming likes them too!
He kept trying to eat them and I had to keep shooing him away.

The carrots are doing well. Very green and I a few have tiny bits popping up from the soil. I’ve learned from my past “mistakes” though and I’m going to let them sit tight for a bit so they get longer!

I was worried about the beets. So, I trimmed them back – cut the big leafy greens off last week and am now on the look out for new growth. I can’t wait until I start to see the little suckers pop on up from under the soil!

The spinach is still growing well. I thought they were a bit crowded so I transplanted one a few inches to the South and there is now a more even amount of space between each plant.

And finally – the herbs. Not much has changed with them, but here they are! :)

Flat Leaf Parsley



Upright Rosemary


Oh yes…I almost forgot, and I cannot forget!

The Paper White Bulb progress must not be forgotten!

It has only been a week – and I am happy to report that there are multiple little shoots coming out of the soil now.

I can’t wait for even more progress though!!!

Adventures In Homemade Ice Cream

I received an awesome ice cream maker from an amazing aunt and uncle this Christmas. Thanks Kelly and Tom! As soon as I saw my new kitchen appliance, I was very interested and couldn’t wait to get home to try it out.

A few days after getting home from Arizona I decided it was time to give homemade ice cream a try and made a list of all the things I’d need to make two different types: Simple Chocolate and Fresh Strawberry.

Sounds simple right? Well not completely because I had to go to three different grocery stores to find those darn strawberries! I know, I know, I could have used frozen but then it wouldn’t have been Fresh Strawberry ice cream! ANNNND it was Simple CHOCOLATE, not Simple Fresh Strawberry! 

I mixed up the ingredients for both types and let them sit in the fridge over night. While mixing the chocolate, I decided it needed something more, so I added mini marshmallow. YUM!

Chocolate Marshmallow Mixture

Fresh Strawberry Mixture

The next afternoon, I pulled the ice cream maker out of the box, the mixture out of the fridge and the frozen tubs out of the freezer.

It was now ICE CREAM TIME!!!

Chocolate came first and was quite rich when it was done churning. Rich but airy.

Right after adding the mixture...

Halfway through the churning...

And it's done! :)

Next was the strawberry, which was also airy and simply amazing.

It's still exciting pouring the second mixture in...

And watching it get thicker...

And pulling out the finished product was MORE thrilling than the chocolate one!

I put both the chocolate and strawberry into the freezer for a few hours and was quite glad I did. In the end, it was the same texture and consistency I was used to, but the taste was just SO much better than anything I’ve ever purchase at the store.

Before chilling out in the freezer for a few more hours!

I made these flavors a few weeks ago and made two new batches this weekend. There aren't any photos of those yet, but I did a repeat of the Chocolate Marshmallow and tried Mint Chocolate Chip for the first time! Both are mighty tasty!

I don't think I will be buying store bought ice cream for awhile!