Monday, June 30, 2014

Cucumber Salad over Lemon Pepper Chicken

There's an Indian restaurant in town who has a House Salad that is SO GOOD.  I've always referred to it as "Cucumber Salad" but it also has corn and green bell peppers tossed in a thin ranch dressing.

I made a variation of that last night at dinner at Mom's house to go with the Lemon Pepper Chicken she made. It was DELICIOUS.  We didn't have a bell pepper on hand, but we had a can of Medium Rotel.  It added a little extra kick to the otherwise cool salad.

You can eat this as a side, or pour it over chicken like we did!

2 medium cucumbers, diced
1 can yellow corn, drained, with 1/3 cup drained water set aside
1 can Rotel, drained (or diced tomatoes for a milder taste)
1/3 cup ranch dressing

Toss the cucumbers, yellow corn, and Rotel in a large bowl.  In a smaller bowl, whisk together the ranch dressing and drained water from the can of corn.  Pour over the diced veggies and toss.

That's IT! So simple, and SO tasty! :) Enjoy!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

52 Card Pick Me Up!

Each Saturday morning at our workout class at church. I try to write an exercise plan that is adaptable for various levels as fitness, and that is fun. This week's was one of my favorites! I picked four exercises (specifically, one primarily cardio-focused, one upper body, one lower body, and one whole body) and assigned each one to a suit in the deck of cards. We set the timer for 30 minutes, but finished the deck in 28 1/2 minutes! :) In the end, we did at least 91 jumping jacks, 91 burpees, 91 push-ups, and 91 flutter kicks! (I don't remember which two cards we had to repeat due to drawing the joker card). 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Honeysuckle Jelly & Soothing Throat Syrup






It's summer y'all...
Time for another batch of Honeysuckle Jelly!

You know the tiny drop of liquid goodness (ok, nectar…but it's delicious) that you get from one honeysuckle blossom?  Multiply that by a spoonful, and that's what it's like to have honeysuckle jelly on toast. mmmmm….. :)

I first made this Honeysuckle Jelly a few years ago when the house we moved into had honeysuckle all along the wood line in the back yard.  It started because we were looking for a Honeysuckle Ice Cream recipe (still haven't made that).…it's become a family favorite.

When we moved into the house we're in now, I was incredibly excited because there were two bushes in the back yard with honeysuckle vines in addition to two more sections in the back of the yard with honeysuckle.  I made a batch and gave jars to family members, then waited for the next year to come around to make more.  Big mistake….apparently, honeysuckle (and pecans?) show up every other year….and all of our honeysuckle are on the same rotation it seems.  This year I've learned from my mistake and am not letting this year's "harvest" go to waste! :)

I'm about to make another batch in the next day or I thought I'd post the recipe I found and am using for future reference.

I use this recipe at New Life On A Homestead, but I double everything so that I can use a full pack of liquid pectin in each batch.  I get 7 half pints of jelly each time (not filled completely to the rim)…and they go fast! :D

I also like to make cute labels for my jars. :)  I just cut a circle of scrapbook paper,
wrote the name and date on there, and put the lid back on the jar.

Oh yes, and I reuse clean jars….like those miniature baby food jars. :D

I always have extra honeysuckle water/infusion/tea/wonderful-smelling-liquid-from-steeping.  I keep this in my fridge in a jar and add it to hot tea as a sweetener (mmmmmm…..) and I make a batch of honeysuckle syrup for my sister.  At the beginning of every summer, she gets a scratchy throat from the excessive amount of pollen we have around our houses.  She swears by this syrup to help soothe her throat.  The first time I made her a batch, she drank it like water haha! (Not recommended because then it will be all gone too fast!)

Honeysuckle Soothing Throat Syrup

1 cup Honeysuckle infusion
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon honey (preferably local honey, if available)
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Heat the honeysuckle infusion and water on medium heat, so that it's somewhere between simmering and boiling.  Add the honey and lemon juice and stir until the honey is well combined with the infusion.  Let cool and pour into a bottle to keep in the refrigerator.  Drink about 2 tablespoons (warm or cold, but warm is more soothing) or add to hot tea and enjoy!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Happy First Birthday! (blue + green)

The first birthday party went great!  The weather was perfect for an outdoor party. :)
I'm glad, because I really didn't want to have to redirect everyone to the church that's a walk through a big yard…in the rain!

For the cake, I had intended on making a candy shell for the bottom half of the cake.  At the last minute, I decided to make the bottom half a huge rice krispie treat! :) (Thanks Sarah for the help with that!)  I did stick with the original plan to ice the cake with blue and green rosettes.

I decorated a tshirt using leftover fabric from his crib skirt, and my mom made some shorts to match!

We hung pennant flags from azalea bushes in the front yard and around his high chair (Thanks to Julia and Sarah for helping with that)  and hung green and blue gallons from the Magnolia tree and on the mailbox (Thanks Rachel for taking care of all the balloon inflating!!)  For seating, we set out camping chairs (and our Eagle's Nest Swing), and for entertainment we brought out some of Cole's favorite toys as well as an assortment of volleyballs, footballs, and bouncy balls (all were quite popular!)

For snacks, we decided to go with some of Cole's favorite snacks (Nilla wafers, teddy grahams, green apples, oatmeal cookies, cheese-its, Goldfish, and cupcakes of course) and had sweet tea, water, coffee, and blue gatorade for everyone to drink.

When he was born, I didn't buy a traditional baby book (I knew I'd never remember to fill in all of the blanks!), so I bought a journal to match his nursery instead.  When people came to the baby showers, they signed in there or wrote notes to Cole.  After the showers, I recorded all of the gifts in the journal.  I took the journal with me to the hospital and tried to remember to get visitors to sign in there. (I made sure to get our nurse that took care of us post-delivery to sign it…we loved her and she loved Cole!)  Since his birth, I've added his growth information (Our doctor gives us slips of paper at each visit with his measurements at each visit) and wrote notes to him along the way talking about how he's growing up.  I bet you see where I'm going with this….
I brought the journal back out for this party.  I didn't print invitations (All word of mouth and Facebook haha!), but I did print one on photo paper to put in the journal and had everyone sign in when they stopped by. :)

Overall, we had a blast, and I'm pretty sure our Cole man did too! :)

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Planning a One Year Birthday Party

In less than one month, we'll be having a 1st Birthday at our house (weird).

I've been asked since before he was born what the theme of the party will be…when my sister had her 1st Birthday, I don't remember us having a theme…but that was the days before Pinterest. ;)

I've thought of several themes….from Lego Fireman to Sesame Street to SuperWhy (my kid loves the music in the show and will stop what he's doing to listen and dance to every time they start singing!).  BUT I decided I wanted to carry over the theme from his baby shower and baby tea…both matched his blue and green nursery with a tree on the wall.

We have a gorgeous Magnolia tree in our front yard, so we've decided to set up most of the party in the shade of that tree.  Planning for a party at your house right at Spring Cleaning time is apparently a great way to motivate you to clean out your entire house and yard….just so you know….(if you stop by my house right now, don't judge!)

One of my cousins had an oversized cupcake for her little girl's first birthday, and I loved the idea (especially since I already have the pan for that! ;)).  I remembered last time I made a cake in that pan, that icing the bottom half of the cupcake was the hardest part…but I found a great tutorial for how to make a candy "cupcake liner" for the big cupcake!  Also, I love the rosette look on top of the cupcake…and I might do some sort of variating shades of blue and green like here.

Granted, whatever he wears when he digs into a cake is going to get messy…but a shirt like this from Lil Threadz Clothing would be adorable before he's covered in cake and icing!!

Sadly, I haven't changed the garden flag in my front yard (today maybe?)….my cute spring flag is packed in the closet, and our flag currently says something about fall being in the air….oops.  Maybe I'll make something like one of these flags at Modern Rustic Girl for the party.

While shopping at Hobby Lobby one day, I came across some great cupcake liners for dirt cheap.  They have the number 1 on them, and are surrounded in blue, green, and red polka dots! I'll make cupcakes and display them similarly to how these folks did at this blue and green party.

I put pennant flags on his invitation, and I'm thinking of hanging some in front of the house somewhere (like these at Vintage Green Limited)…and maybe hanging some around the cupcakes (like these at Hartranftdesign)…we'll see what happens! I'll post some pictures after the party!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Time for Changes!

I started this blog a few months after Adam and I got engaged.  At the time, I didn't know if this blog would become a journal for just me and my family to read, a place to show what I was working on for my wedding (I wound up creating a separate place for that here), or a place for recording married life.  Considering all of that, I appropriately named it after us… not overly creative, no, but it left wiggle room for whatever would come of this blog!

A lot has changed since 2008 - we got married, lived on campus, lived off campus, I started new jobs, we got two pets, we moved, we both started new jobs, had a baby, he started a new job, and now I'm going to be a stay at home mom to a one year old at the end of this month!

I think it's safe to say that it's time for a blog name change!  We're more than just A and W now…so, I guess I'll be brainstorming that…any suggestions?

In the meantime, we're planning his first birthday party! Soon, I'll post some of the pictures that I've used for inspiration.  It's going to be blue and green (to match his nursery) and we're going to snack on cupcakes and…I haven't decided what else!

Until then…here's a sneak peek at his invitation that I designed!  I've been making a few invitations/announcements lately for family and friends, and I'll be adding them to my etsy shop soon!

etsy - wendyamarie

Friday, January 24, 2014

Stuffed Bell Pepper Stew

Stuffed bell peppers are delicious. Honestly, I always buy bell peppers with the intention of stuffing them.....but they're a bit more work than I'm willing to put into dinner on a weekday, so they wind up getting used in some other dish.

Well, that happened again! This actually started out as "What's-in-the-fridge-that-needs-cooked-and-would-taste-good-in-a-stew?" Stew. After I started throwing things into my dutch oven, Adam came into the kitchen and asked me what I was making. I spouted off some combination of words that resembled: "Jambalaya rice stew with green bell peppers and corn" .... He looked at me and said, "Well it smells good...smells like stuffed bell peppers....looks like stuffed bell peppers!"

Stuffed Bell Pepper Stew was born.

Obviously, you can adjust the ingredients to match what you like in your bell peppers, but here's what was in my stew tonight!

1 (or 1.5) lb ground beef
1 box Jambalaya rice mix (mine is from Aldi, see picture below)
2.5 cups water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1.5 cups frozen corn (could substitute 1 can of corn)
1 can diced tomatoes
2 green bell peppers, diced
3 stalks of celery, diced
1 additional cup water
1 cup chicken broth (I dissolved a bouillon cube to make mine).
Shredded cheese

Cook the ground beef in a large saucepan, drain and set aside. Combine 2 1/2 cups of water and 2 tablespoons of veggie oil to a boil. Add rice, Jabalaya mix seasoning, and cooked meat. Return to a boil. Reduce heat, add other ingredients, cover and stir periodically until rice is tender (about 25 minutes).

Serve in a bowl and cover it in shredded cheese.....yummmmmm. :)

This is the jambalaya rice mix I all of the ingredients here (except the frozen was leftover in my freezer from pre-Aldi-near-my-house days), it is from favorite grocery store!