Friday, March 30, 2012

The Baby's Room

I've noticed that a lot of people have cute little names for their unborn babies, I haven't found a name that seems right so I just call it "the baby". I have started working on decorating the baby's room and wanted to show you all what I have going on so far. We are converting the room that used to be my studio in to a room for the baby and moving my studio stuff in to the guest bedroom. The studio room seems like the perfect place to use as a nursery for several reasons. First of all the wall color is already bright, cheerful and unisex which is exactly what we wanted in that space. Anytime I don't have to repaint a room it makes me pretty happy and I really like the yellow/orange color for a baby's room and a kid's room so it should grow well with the little one. The other reason for choosing this room is that it is almost exactly opposite from the master bedroom so it will be easy to hear the baby when it cries and easy to stumble in there in the night to feed them. Lastly we wanted to keep the guest bedroom intact because there may be lots of people coming to visit after the baby comes and we will need a place for them to sleep.

As far as colors go I am not in to super pink or blue nurseries or themes that are overtly related to one gender or another. I had originally planned to do a book/reading theme in the nursery but then I realized how bad I am at sticking to a theme and that I really am just not a theme person anyway so that went out the window. In all of my decorating I tend to be pretty eclectic and just pick out whatever I like withen a certain style so that's what I went with.  I have been doing a bit of etsy shopping for decore and we already have a beautiful crib curtesy of my parents who wanted to give us our baby present early. Here are some photos of what I have so far.

View of crib, mobile, rug and wall art

This is the rocker my mom used when I was a baby, she kindly recovered it for me and my dad refinished the wood.

our lovely crib! 
Fox and bear pillows I ordered from Bird Mafia 

Cute curtains I got at Ikea

A print from Sandra Dieckerman Illustration

A print from Parada Creations

A print from 1Canoe2

All three prints together,
I still have a lot of work to do in here (there are no pictures of the other side of the room because it is full of junk!) but it's coming along. I just have to try and not buy everything right away, hold me back! Lol :-)

Grapefruit-marinated London Broil with Citrus-Avocado Salad

Now that I am in my second trimester I am getting away from my starch cravings and finally feeling like I want to eat some semi healthy food again. The one thing I want to eat all the now is fruit, particularly citrus. I really can't get enough of the stuff. I made this delicious London Broil recipe the other night and it was so pretty and tasty I wanted to show it off. I have always been a big fan sweet/salty combinations and  meat dishes that have fruit in them are among my favorites. I got the recipe from the Tasty Trials website and it is from an article on having a citrus themed dinner party, yum! Right now I am not up to throwing a dinner party but it does sound like a fun idea, maybe I'll wait until I can drink again so that I can enjoy the cocktail and then try this out on some friends. Here is a picture of the completed dish.

I have tried cooking London Broil before but always found it kind of tough. I was amazed at how the citrus marinade made the meat extremely tender and the citrus avocado salad was just the right combo of sweet, fresh and creamy. For the complete recipe click here.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Garden Updates

It's been a bit since first posted about my new garden and so much has happened already! I'm amazed at how excited I'm getting about it, it's so fun to check on it every day and see how it's grown. My first big garden news is that I now have a second raised bed, a smaller triangular one to help accomodate all of my gardening ambitions.

Here you can see the second raised bed along with all of the sprouts starting to come up in the first.
My radish sprouts have been going crazy and I'm hoping i will end up with lots and lots of delicious radishes to eat. The carrots and cucumbers I planted have also begun to sprout and are looking good but are much smaller than the radishes right now. In addition to my plants that i've grown from seed I also bought a few more mature plants the other day. In the second raised bed you can see some brandywine tomatos and cayenne pepper plants growing.

Here is a better picture of all my radish sprouts, I've been working on thinning them to give them more room so they look a little different now. 

Brandywine tomatoes and cayenne peppers, looking forward to these!
I have also ordered some seeds from and awesome seed company I found on etsy called Heirlooms R US Seeds. These seeds include thai basil, golden pear tomatos, leeks, pickling cucumbers, golden bell peppers, jalapenos and cilantro. I've been starting most of these inside and so far the ones that have sprouted are the tomatoes and thai basil.  I started the leeks and cucumbers outside and the cucumbers are doing great so far. If everything that I've planted lives and does well I don't know where I will put them all but I'm counting on a few of them dying off. It's exciting to watch them all grow and change each day. Hopefully all this rain will make them really take off!

Tropical Tapas Feast

We made the most delicious (if not the most healthy) meal the other night and I just had to share. I had picked up some polenta the other day with the intent of making baked polenta fries and everything else just fell in to place after that. I got the idea for baked polenta fries from a really great blog called A Cozy Kitchen but I was too lazy to make my own polenta so I just bought the pre-made stuff and cut it in to frie sized sections. Then all you have to do is bake them at 450 for about 20 minutes and they are perfectly crispy and delicious! I misted mine with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt before baking and they were perfection.

Crispy baked polenta fries

Anyway, shrimp was on sale at Publix this week and I thought, perfect! Coconut shrimp would be great with baked polenta fries! To make my coconut shrimp I just used a mixture of about half and half panko bread crumbs and shredded coconut for the breading. I wanted to fry them in coconut oil but we didn't have enough so we ended up using peanut oil and they were still pretty darn tasty. We dipped the shrimp in a beaten egg, dredged in the breadcrumb mixture and fried in oil until the shrimp was bright pink and the breading was golden brown, mmm soo good!

Coconut fried shrimp
To top off our trio of appetizers we made some tostones, or fried green plantains. These are one of our favorite appetizers and so easy to make it's ridiculous. All we did was slice the plantains thin and fry until golden brown (we also used peanut oil for this). These are best served with some kind of dipping sauce but I'll get to that in a second.

Lastly we needed something to dip all this deliciousness in some we whipped up some Sriracha lime mayonaise. For this we used 3 tablespoons of mayonaise, 2 tablespoons of Sriracha, juice of one lime and a healthy scoop of garlic chili sauce for extra heat. Just stir all these things together and you've got yourself a fantastic sauce.

Sriracha lime mayo
All in all it was great hit, Eric enjoyed his meal with a beer and I have a feeling that would be wonderful (I miss beer). Regardless of the beverage though the whole meal made me feel like I was on vacation. I wouldn't eat that much fried food every day but it sure was nice for a special treat!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Kitchen Cabinets=Finished!

You may may remember that I started painting our kitchen cabinets back in January as part of our kitchen remodel. Well shortly after I started this project I found out I was pregnant and decided that working with oil based paints wasn't the healthiest choice for me and the baby. The result was that I had crazy looking half painted cabinets and it was kind of driving me nuts. Well lucky for me I have awesome parents who volunteered to come finish painting my cabinets for me, yay! They painted the cabinets yesterday and today we put them all back together again. I think they look amazing, it's like I got all new cabinets! Here are some pictures :-)

Cabinet doors being painted on the deck

In progress, we will be ripping out all of the upper cabinets eventually so we didn't bother painting them.


Another angle, some day we will get a black dishwasher

Sorry for the blurry picture, you can get an idea of what the new hardware looks like.
Thanks for the help Mom and Dad! It feels great to make some progress on the kitchen!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Garden For Me!

I swear I don't even recognize myself. My whole life I have had pretty much zero interest in gardening, especially in growing my own fruits and veggies. My interest in plants kind of gradually snuck up on me, starting when I was in grad school when I began to acquire a few house plants. Well, since getting married and buying a house my gardening interest has exploded and I am super excited about my new raised bed garden that Eric built for me! I had limited success growing some veggies and herbs in containers on my back deck last year, probably because they didn't get enough sun. This year Eric helped me build a 4 foot by 6 foot raised bed in the front yard. I'm hop[ing everything will get plenty of sun there although we'll have to see how it goes once all out tress leaf out. I have big plans to plant all kinds of things in this garden but I am trying to keep it to things that I know are easy to grow like peppers and carrots. So far I moved my mint and rosemary from their pots on the back deck to the new front garden (this should give them lots of room to grow) and planted some radish seeds. Here are some pics of the new garden, I'm pretty stoked about it :-)

Garden in progress
Finished garden!
Mint freshly transplanted to the new garden. It's just starting to come back from the winter. 

Rosemary transplanted to the garden, hope it will grow bigger now that it has some space!

And last but not least, a new blueberry bush that my mom picked up for me at the half off sale Pikes had yesterday. This won't be going in my new garden but we will be planting it out front somewhere
close up of blueberries, so cute!


Oh goodness, such beautiful weather we are having today! I was inspired by the Springy weather to get outside and work in the yard this morning. I finally broke down and bought a leaf blower which I was totally opposed to until I moved in to this house and realized the MASSIVE amounts of leaves we had to deal with. Today I broke out the new leaf blower and actually uncovered a lot of little sproutlings that are coming up for Spring, so exciting! I am usually more of a Fall/Winter person but I have to admit that I am pretty excited about Spring this year. Here are some pictures of the Spring time happenings around the yard.

Little hosta starting to sprout, and a random mushroom

More hostas sprouting


Our vinca is starting to bloom and put out new leaves like crazy 

Autumn sedum coming back with a vengance

Daffodils in full bloom, they make me so happy :-) 


More azaleas

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Tortilla and Chorizo Soup

Now that my morning sickness is starting to fade I find myself more interested in eating my customary spicy foods again. I made this amazing dish last week and actually had the time and energy to photograph the whole process so I thought I would share. The recipe is from the Better Homes and Gardens Mexican cooking magazine. Eric picked me up a copy for Christmas but this was the first recipe I have tried from it, so far I give it an A+!


4 roma tomatoes, halved
1/2 of a white onion, cut in to chunks
2 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1/2 cup peanut oil
4 oz Mexican chorizo, casings removed
6 cups chicken broth
3 sprigs epazote (I subbed cilantro for this because I didn't know where to find it)
Salt to taste
2 fresh poblano peppers
6 6 inch corn tortillas cut in to strips
1 avocado, peeled, seeded and cubed
1/2 cup queso fresco, crumbled
Extra cilantro to garnish
Lime wedges to garnish

The first step is to roast your tomatoes, onions and garlic in a pan at 425 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes

Onions, tomato and garlic
After these are done roasting, removed the skins of the garlic and transfer the tomatos, garlic and onion to a bowl and blend with an emersion blender until smooth (or use a regular blender).

after roasting, transfered to a bowl

onion, garlic and tomato blended smooth. 
Next brown your chorizo in a large sauce pan or dutch oven in 1/4 cup on peanut oil. Drain any excess grease when this is done.
Fresh local pork chorizo, I love buying meat that comes wrapped in brown paper :-) Here the casings are still on, make sure you remove them for this recipe
Browning chorizo in peanut oil
Add the tomato puree to the saucepan and cook for about 5 minutes, next add chicken broth, epazote (cilantro) sprigs and salt. cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, then reduce heat to keep broth warm while you finish up the other steps.

simmering broth with chorizo and cilantro
Meanwhile, heat the other 1/4 cup of peanut oil in a medium skillet and prepare a plate with paper towels on it to drain peppers after frying. Stem and seed the poblano peppers and cut in to half inch pieces. Fry the pepper pieces until tender in very hot oil and drain on paper towel lined plate, add the peppers to the soup mixture. Next fry the tortilla strips in batches in the chile infused peanut oil and drain on another plate lined with paper towels.

frying tortilla strips
Remove the cilantro sprigs from the soup and discard. Ladle soup in to individual bowls and top with tortilla strips, extra cilantro, crumbled queso fresco, avocado chunks and lime wedge.

Eat immediately, enjoy!

finished soup!
It's no secret that I am a lover of any Mexican food and this was no exception, I could seriously eat this every day and I could taste the difference from making my own tomato puree instead of using canned. This does take a little longer than my typical go to meal though so I wouldn't necessarily recommend it for a week night. When you have the time you should try it though, it's delicious and well worth the effort.