Saturday, June 21, 2014

Fairy Garden

I turned an ugly, broken bird bath (that has been sitting in our yard since we moved here) into a Fairy Garden. 

I literally spent $0.  

Yup.  I couldn't believe it either. 

Sorry birds, no room for baths...only extreme cuteness. 

I gathered pine cones, scraped moss off the retaining wall in our yard, and literally used tiny items from our garden and home to create this. 

The door is a rock, painted red (leftover from another project), and an old button.  I also threw in a couple painted eggs (leftover from Easter a few years ago) because...why not?

And let's be honest...this thing will probably not last long with this little guy in charge of the landscaping, but it was so fun and easy to create. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Creative Gift Wrap Idea

I’m a terrible gift-giver. If I can manage to remember to buy a gift, I’ll inevitably forget to give it.  And gift wrap? Forget it.  Bag, tissue paper, and probably not coordinating. 

That’s all I can manage some days.

But once in awhile the stars align and I come up with something worth documenting.  And so I thought I’d share it with you.  Because it takes only a few minutes more than stuffing an item in a bag and it’s ridiculously rewarding.

A dear friend celebrated a birthday recently.   We were both intrigued with the a new book called “S” by JJ Abrams and Doug Dorst.  So I immediately purchased a copy (okay two copies…one for me…one for the birthday girl). 

The book is a work of art.  Truly.  

Here’s a quick explanation of the book: 

And a work of art deserves more than a bag and tissue paper. 

                                    Steps to a beautifully wrapped gift
  • Butcher paper measured to fit gift (I did a test run with scrap paper)
  • Your favorite poem (I chose Billy Collins’ poem “Today”)
  • Use a Sharpie to write out your poem (cursive gets you bonus points
  • Tie up present with butchers twine or choice of string or ribbon.
  • I printed a smaller version of the poem on the gift tag since I knew she would rip the wrapping paper. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Bacon Deviled Eggs

Deviled eggs have been banned in our house for at least a year now.  

My husband grew up eating deviled eggs.  I did not.  In fact, I think the first time I actually ate a deviled egg was on my first visit to his grandparent's house.  Oma knows how to make fantastic deviled eggs...and shed does not use a recipe (of course). 

Last year, we had a large gathering at our house and Josh volunteered to make deviled eggs.  How hard could they be, right?

After we both tasted and mixed, tasted and mixed, somehow we accidentally ended up with a soupy, salty mess nestled in a bowl of egg-white sadness.  This happened again a month later and I swore them off forever. 

Enter bacon.  And suddenly my tune changed. 

A beautiful post from the Eat Fat Lose Fat Blog inspired me to do my own take on this recipe and I'd like to share it with you. 


7 Eggs (boiled)

2-3 Tablespoons Mayo (we make our own)
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
1 tsp White Vinegar
2 Tablespoons bacon fat
7 pieces bacon (chopped)
Green onion (half bunch) - half chopped finely, the other half chopped for garnish, see note*
Pinch of Smoked Paprika, plus more for garnish
Sel Gris for garnish

1. Combine egg yolk, mayonnaise, mustard, half of the chopped bacon, paprika, half the green onion and bacon fat and stir it into a smooth mixture.  

2. Pipe into egg whites, garnish. 

That's it.   But here's the deal...the difference between okay deviled eggs and really special deviled eggs are just a few extra steps.   

The simplest of foods are elevated through attention to detail. 

The Devil is in the Details. 

See what I did there?  You're welcome. 

Always boil an odd number of eggs because inevitably you always end up with a raggedy egg white you can't serve.  

Making your own mayonnaise ensures a flavorful base for your recipe.  I'll blog about a no-fail method soon.  In the meantime, use whatever you've got, no judgement here. 

Salt the egg whites lightly with sel gris or any other fancy salt you like.  Small step, big difference in flavor. 

Experiment with garnishes.* 

Try cutting your green onion on a bias.

And suddenly, the common green onion has a entirely new look. 

Happy "Deviling."  

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Bon Voyage Party

Note to readers: This post was written months ago...but I am just now posting it. Loved the menu and pictures, and I thought they were worth sharing...even late. 

A few nights ago we had a going away party for our friends who are moving to Vermont.

I know I’m supposed to be happy for them…because they truly do have amazing opportunities waiting for them there, but frankly, it sucks to see them go. 

So I really wanted to send them off with a really great dinner party. 

Originally, I had dreams of creating a fantastic 1920’s party inspired by the movie “Midnight in Paris” since we all rather liked that film…and the more I learned about the Jazz Age, the more I loved it.

But life got in the way so I settled for a nice “Midnight in Paris” inspired bistro style dinner. 

Le Menu

Chicken in puff pastry

Petits Pois à La Française

Honey Roasted Carrots

Lemon Pudding Cake

I challenged myself to decorate the table using only items I had in or around my house.

I pulled out some old plates and linens I had been saving “for a rainy day.” And, yes I realize that’s a silly saying for someone who lives in Oregon. 

The napkins are two-sided so I used the flowery side under the plates to give the table some pattern and color.  I used the stripe side for the official napkin setting…the stripes seem like something you might see in a bistro.

Instead of going to the store to buy wild looking flowers for this casual French table, I decided to pick some from my yard and an empty lot in my neighborhood.  

Let’s be honest, wildflowers are just weeds.  

Really pretty weeds.  

So I got rid of some weeds and created a nice centerpiece. 

When I think of bistro settings, for some reason I think of wine bottles with candles.  I’ve been to several bistros and cannot recall seeing such a thing, and so it’s probably just an American invention, but it looks pretty nonetheless.


Being resourceful sometimes requires that you do a little cleaning to find items you can actually use.  I was rewarded for my cleaning efforts when I found this little present:

So I purchased the soundtrack for “Midnight in Paris” to use for the party!
Bon Voyage and Bon Chance my friends.  I hear Vermont is nice this time of year...

Monday, November 5, 2012

My, How I've Missed You!

After a short summer break, I have returned to the blog!

And my, how I've missed you all.

If you know me, I mean really know me, then you know about my weird obsession with BBC's Doctor Who.  Time travel, british accents, bow ties: all things worth getting excited about. 

Hold on to your bow ties, we're about to do a little time travel as I catch you up on what happened this summer in pictures and 200 words or less.  

Henry's Baptism.  I spent the better part of June getting ready for this.  My mom visited, my in-laws visited, my Aunt and Uncle and their family from Georgia arrived and all of our local friends stopped by for the ceremony and/or reception.

It was Caa-raay-zy. And Fun.

My mom and I made about one thousand egg rolls. 


We travelled from Oregon to Pennsylvania to celebrate a few very special occasions: Josh's grandparents celebrated their 60th (WOW!) Wedding Anniversary, Josh's Mom celebrated a birthday and Josh's sister had a baby shower.  It was a busy week full of some wonderful reunions and first time introductions to Henry.


We celebrated Oktoberfest right this year and headed to the little American-German town of Mt. Angel.  Henry wore fantastic lederhosen. 


Halloween and all things Fall happening this month.  Henry was the cutest astronaut ever.

And we're all caught up to now (November 2012).

I made some really fun projects over the summer and will share them in more detail in the coming weeks. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Cornbread Casserole

Recently, I challenged myself to use what I had in my pantry/freezer/kitchen first before taking the easy way out and just heading to the store to get what I needed for dinner.

It certainly took time and brain power and creativity to make this happen but it was worth every bit of effort not to have to go to the store more than once in a two week period. 

It was freeing.

I wanted to share a recipe I don’t think I ever would have tried or even thought of if I had not taken on this challenge.

When Henry was born, our friends were kind enough to bring a few meals. Things were kind of hazy in that sleep deprived time so I don’t remember how exactly it came to pass that I had lovely little cornbread muffins in my freezer but there they were. 

I had some taco night leftover “fixin’s” and thought it would be perfect to create a Cornbread Casserole.

Technically, this is more of a savory cornbread pudding because it’s using already made leftover cornbread.

How To:

Cut Cornbread into one inch cubes

 Brown Sausage

Saute Red Bell Peppers and Onions

Throw into a casserole dish with egg, milk and cheese. Bake for 30 minutes or so.

Serve with sour cream, salsa, a small salad and tortilla chips. 

** I didn't have chips in my pantry at the time but I had quite a few boxes of taco shells with one or two leftover shells in them.  I toasted them in the oven and they were perfect to use with this recipe! **

 Cornbread Casserole

12 small cornbread muffins cut into 1 inch pieces
1 pound chorizo (or other breakfast sausage)
1 onion
1 red bell pepper
3-4 cloves garlic
1 egg
2 Cups Milk
1 Cup Cheddar Cheese, shredded

1. Preheat oven to 350

2. Brown Sausage, set aside.

3. In the same pan that you used for sausage, sauté onions, peppers and garlic.

4. Toss together in a casserole dish with beaten egg, milk and cheese. 

5. Cover and bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown and puffy. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Cheater Cheater

I do a lot of things these days that surprise me.  And it's all stuff I would have never done before I had Henry.

For example, the words, "Yay diapers!" actually came out of my mouth a few months ago when we received an unexpected gift of 200 diapers from my Aunt.  

And I take every shortcut I can in the kitchen now (gasp!).  

Cans, boxes of "food," frozen's all great in my book.  Gone are the days of carefully crafting the perfect little sauce to put on the plate...well, at least for now.  And that's okay.  I'm learning to embrace it. 

The other day, we had a typical random grey day here in Portland and all I wanted was Ph.  I had just about everything I needed to make it... except for the time. 

But my Ph cravings don't usually take "no" for answer.  So I came up with a quick, cheater version.

Any self-respecting Vietnamese person would not call this Ph.  It's soup that's just pretending to be Ph because REAL Ph takes hours of simmering to be just right.  So, in order not to be disowned by my mother, I will call it something else.

Faux Ph.....hmm.  Phaux? 

I'm afraid incorrectly pronouncing that may get you trouble.

So I'll just call it "Ph".  Just make sure you do air quotes with your fingers when you say it, okay?


2 Cups Chicken Broth
1 Tablespoon chicken bouillon
1/2 teaspoon Chinese 5 Spice Powder
1 teaspoon Nuoc Mam (Fish Sauce) (add more to taste if not salty enough)
Already cooked noodles (you can use whatever you have in the pantry...spaghetti, egg noodles, lo mein type noodles or traditional Ph Noodles) 

Garnishes (optional)
A few slices Ginger 

Bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes (or less if you just can't stand to wait).  Throw in your garnishes. 

Use up what you have in your fridge for garnishes.  Leftover chicken, meatballs, red peppers are all great.  Also, if you have a little bit of hoisin sauce sitting in your fridge, throw in a small spoonful (this is what I usually add to my Pho).