Thursday, June 21, 2012

More Pregnancy Cravings

My latest pregnancy craving is for full fat dairy. Lately I can't get enough yogurt, ice cream and cheese, and no skim milk or light ice cream for me, no sir! It's got to be the good, creamy, fatty stuff. Luckily, people tell me that full fat dairy is good for the baby's brain development so I am running with it :-)

Today I got the chance to try a recipe for pimento cheese that I have been wanting to try for a while. I am all about good, home made pimento cheese. It's especially good on a sandwich with bacon, yum! I have been feeling particularly creative and culinary this week so I had made some home made mayo (which is amazing by the way) earlier this week and was able to use that in the recipe.

Homemade mayo
Here is the recipe I used for the mayo from Drizzle and Dip. I had to make a few changes to this as my first batch was a huge flop. first of all I used cider vinegar since I didn't have any red wine vinegar, also cider vinegar is my absolute fav! The first batch I made was going great, it looked perfect after I added the first cup of oil, however as soon as I added the second cup of oil the texture turned all gross and liquidy. For my second batch I only used one cup of oil and it turned out perfect.

Pimento cheese! Sorry I don't have it in a pretty dish, it's just in my tupperware.
For the pimento cheese I used this recipe from Tide and Thyme but of course I had to spice it up a bit by adding a diced cayenne pepper from my garden. I never would have thought to use Greek yogurt in my pimento cheese but I must say I really liked this version. I found it equally delicious on crackers or on a sandwich. I'm also thinking it would be the perfect dip for celery, I'll have to try that. 

There's no telling where or how my cravings will strike next. This baby wants what she wants when she wants it and I'm enjoying the excuse to eat whatever I feel like. I had an incredibly strong craving for pizza the other night right before bed and even though he offered I was nice and didn't make Eric go get me some :-)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Silk Screening

I was in a particularly artsy mood when I woke up this morning and was feeling inspired so I pulled out my silk screening supplies and looked around for something to play with. I had some plain white burp clothes and bips leftover from my baby shower and one white onsie so I decided these would be a great canvas to do something with. Silk screening is really easy and fun, I got in to it about two years ago but I just haven't had much creative energy lately so I haven't played with it in a while. Here are some step my step instructions with pictures in case you are interested in picking it up :-)

Willow is helping :-)
Above you'll see all my supplies laid out on the kitchen table. If you want to silk screen you'll need a screen, silk screening ink, a squeegee, some scrap cardboard and paper, a stencil of some kind and something to silk screen on of course!

 Here is one of the bibs I'm going to silk screen, putting in on some cardboard will protect the table.

 Here I have layered the stencil and the screen on top of the bib, it's important not to move anything once it's all lined up the way you want it.

 I use a palate knife to spread a little ink on top of the screen. I have a bunch of colors but I couldn't find most of them because my art supplies are in disarray,  they are all in the process of being moved out of the baby's room and in to the guest bedroom where I'm setting up my new studio space. I ended up using a shimmery black color because that seemed best suited to my design out of the colors I had.

 Spread the ink with the squeegee applying a fair amount of pressure. You want to spread the ink back in forth in multiple directions, pay careful attention to smaller areas on your stencil, you need to really work the ink down in those areas. I think it's helpful to practice on some scrap paper a few times if you're new to this. You also need a little more ink for a thicker fabric like the terry cloth bib I'm using here.

 Tadaa! The bib with the little logo I designed for Echo.

 Sometimes if I don't get a great result with my silk screen (here I didn't use quite enough ink) I will go back and touch up areas with a paintbrush using the same ink I printed with.

 Here are some of the designs I printed today. The Echo logo was the only new stencil I used, all the rest were things I had printed with in the past. The great thing about screen printing, or any kind of printmaking really, is that you can make multiple copies of the same design. I like being able to reuse my stencils again and again.
When you are all done makle sure to was your supplies really well, you can easily ruin your screen if you don't clean it thoroughly. I let my silkscreened items dry overnight and the set the ink with an iron. After that you should be able to wash them in the washing machine with no problems :-)

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Joanna's Bridal Shower

I haven't ever had the opportunity to be in a wedding before so when Joanna (one of my besties) asked me to be in her wedding this Fall I was thrilled! Of course things were complicated shortly thereafter by my getting pregnant (and due right around her wedding date). Nevertheless I am happy to have the opportunity to be there for a good friend and while I still plan to be in the wedding (assuming I'm not actually in labor that day) I wanted to do something special for Joanna just in case it doesn't work out. As one of the only local bridesmaids I offered to host the shower at my house. This is a relatively new thing for me, I have helped throw a lingerie shower/bachelorette party for an out of town friend before but hosting it at your own house is a little different. Hosting a shower is lot more pressure than having a regular party for some reason, you want it to be just perfect! I enlisted the help of the only other local bridesmaid and we decided to throw Joanna a kitchen themed shower since she is such a foodie. All in all I think it was a big hit! It was fun getting everyone together and I love that our house is such an easy place to entertain in. Congratulations Joanna, can't wait for your big day in September!

Decorations made from photos I've taken of Adam and Joanna and crepe paper

Gorgeous flowers from the Marietta farmers market

The spread of food

Handmade favors, honey butter glazed popcorn

Pretty presents and paper lanterns made by Sarah, the other in town bridesmaid

People starting to arrive

The fabulous veil and hat made from the ribbons off of the presents.

Group shot!

Westley stole a cupcake after everyone left.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Garden in June

I haven't had a ton of time for my garden this month, poor garden :-( I'm just trying to hope for the best and not stress myself out over it. The good news is that we have had lots and lots of rain so watering it hasn't been much of an issue. The cucumbers have continued to produce astonishingly well and the brandywine tomatos are coming along nicely too.  I gave up on the carrots ever doing much and just went ahead and pulled them and we had nice roasted baby carrots with dinner one night. A lot of the other things I grew from seed are still growing really slowly, I'm wondering if they need more fertilization or something. This year they might just have to fend for themselves I'm afraid. Here are some updated pictures of the garden shot with my lovely macro lens.

Red bell pepper, getting bigger and turning a teeny bit red.

Thai basil

Cucumbers still going strong

The Cayenne peppers are finally turning red. They are so pretty and oh so hot!

Brandywine tomatos, I have quite a few of these that will be ready sometime over the summer.

Infused water that I made with my home grown mint and cucumbers. The only thing I didn't grow was the lemons :-)

Just for fun here is an artistic shot of my hibiscus which has been blooming nicely

And here's a super cool spider that I found in our yard. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Best Cucumber Salad

Yep, it's another cucumber post. I'm sorry, I promise this will come to an end soon. I just have a surplus of cucumbers in the garden and have to find creative uses for them so that is where all my energy is going lately. I have tried a lot of cucumber salads but this has been my favorite by far! So yummy and exotic tasting!

I adapted it from this recipe from 101 cookbooks, the main differences being that I added grilled chicken to make it more of a dinner salad and I used lime juice instead of lemon which I feel gives it a more Asian flavor. I also upped the spices quite a bit because I like it spicy :-) Here is my version of the recipe.

1 grilled chicken breast, chopped
2 mediums cucumbers, partially peeled and chopped
1/3 cup shredded coconut, toasted
1/2 cup peanuts toasted
1 cayenne pepper, diced
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 handful cilantro, chopped

Combine the first 5 ingredients in a salad bowl. Whisk together the lime juice and sugar and mix with salad ingredients. Heat sunflower oil in a skillet and toast mustard and coriander seeds until fragrant. Let cool and combine with salad ingredients. Mix in cilantro just before serving. Enjoy!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Refrigerator Pickles

Just wanted to give everyone an update on how these pickles turned out. Oh my gosh they are to die for!

mmm.. pickles

chilling in the fridge, half eaten already
I'm not even that huge of a pickle person but I loved the flavor and spiciness of these. Next time I might cut back on the amount of peppers just a little. The longer they sit the spicier they get and they are pretty darn hot at this point but oh so delicious. I will definitely be making these again!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Photo Service

As a photographer, I can't tell you how important pictures are to me. I wanted to take a minute to talk about the photo service I use for my prints and online photo storage. I started looking for a way to store my photos online a few years ago when I took a break from facebook for a few months. I wanted a way to still be able to share pictures with friends even when I wasn't using facebook so I researched a few different options. I looked in to picasa, shutterfly and kodak gallery but ultimately ended up going with shutterfly. At the time when I was looking at all this, picasa had limits on how much you could upload and didn't have an easy way to order prints. Kodak gallery requires that you buy a certain amount of merchandise from them each year or they delete your pictures (yikes!). I ended up going with shutterfly for several reasons.

1. they have unlimited online storage and they never delete your pictures. This means they are a great way to back up your photos.

2. They have a photo sharing site template that you can use to easily share pictures. It's not the most professional looking but it's good enough for sharing with friends and family, others can also order prints from your share site so that's a nice feature as well.

3. Ordering prints and photo books is easy, if not exactly cheap. I'll be honest that ordering prints and photo gifts from shutterfly can get pretty pricey. But the quality has always been good and they actually have really good promotions if you are a member. You just have to wait until you get emailed a coupon for 40% or for free prints or cards. They actually have some very good deals if you are patient enough to wait for them.

Here are some examples of products I've gotten from shutterfly.

Photo books from our wedding and honeymoon.

These provide templates but are easy to customize with different layouts and backgrounds. 

For the honeymoon book I used a travel theme for the backgrounds. 

I recently took advantage of a promotion where I got 101 free prints! I was in heaven! I bought this photo collage frame at Kohls (I used my Kohls cash and got it for $6!) to display some of my new prints.  
I also use shutterfly to print my Christmas cards with my own custom designs and I have been very happy with them! The only downside is that they print their logo on everything but it doesn't bother me too much for personal things. In case you're interested here is a link to my share site through thema s well

Does anyone else have an online photo service they love? I am always open to new suggestions but shutterfly has been my favorite so far :-)