Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Painted Acorns

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A cold front has blown across Utah, which stirs the desire for a hot cup of mulled cider and some autumn crafting. After several years in our house with Fall acorns pelting down like incoming asteroids, I decided to get proactive and harvest the acorns for some inside crafts. 

An hour with the ladder and I had a bowl full of acorns. In order to kill any critters, I first filled the bowl with some cold water and sloshed them around to knock off any dirt and small spiders. Then I dried them off as best I could, you could also let them air dry for an hour or so, but I'm impatient. I preheated the oven to 175F and cooked them for a couple of hours stirring occasionally to kill any critters inside. 

At this point, there pretty much wasn't a single acorn cap attached, so I used some wood glue and glued their caps back on. Next time I think I would use a hot glue gun, but I am prone to burning myself with those, so I was exercising caution in favor of uninjured finger tips. 

After the caps dried, there were a number of acorns that had holes in them from insects boring in, so I decided it would be much prettier and craftier to paint them. I did some Pinterest searching for options on how to paint them and there doesn't seem to be a hard or fast rule. Some prefer craft paints and others advocate nail polish. I personally love the gloss of nail polish and being a bit of a nail polish addict I have tons of colors, many of which also coordinate with the main decorating colors of our house, so I opted for nail polish. 

The truth of it is, painting acorns is fiddly and time consuming. You can only paint on side at a time and most nail polishes (especially the light colored ones) require multiple coats per side. Basically it took me days to get it done, but I love the result. 

I also like that there are only a few painted so they pop like jewels against the brown of the unpainted acorns. 



What do you think? Is it worth it? 


Thursday, September 21, 2017

A Bee Friendly Garden

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I don't know about you, but for me the somnolent hum of bees, the beautiful drift of butterflies, and race car swift hummingbirds visiting my garden completes the summer. Bee populations are in decline and under threat. It's a stressful time to be a bee. And we should all be concerned about this, because bees pollinate a good portion of our fruit and vegetable crops. I wanted to be a bee friend and plant bee friendly plants in the gardenbut our backyard is heavily shaded, which is a blessing and a curse, because the flower bearing plants bees and butterflies love tend to not do well in heavy shade.

Ever since we bought our house I've hated the bush-tree things in our front yard (I have no idea what they are, if you know, please share!). We've planted some insect friendly plants along the way - butterfly bush, salvia, lavender, but the majority of the garden real estate was taken by the ugly bush trees.


Before picture featuring ugly bush/trees.

So, last Friday I was standing on the sidewalk staring at the house.

"It always makes me nervous when you start looking at the house like that," Mr. Awesome said when he saw me.

"I was just thinking about how ugly those bushes are."

"Well, if you hate them, we should take them out."

Mr. Awesome is the best.

So, what do you do when you have a bathroom renovation project to finish? Start a new project, of course!

For a change, everything went according to plan and between the chainsaw and winch, those ugly tree bushes were out in an hour. Next to go were the rose bushes, which were supposed to be red, but turned out to be magenta. Plus, the bees aren't really a fan. I gifted them to a friend in exchange for her russian sage.

A trip to the garden center and now our front garden is filled with Mexican sage, Russian sage, Bee Balm, Day Lilies, and Penstemon to go with the Butterfly Bush, Lavender, and Salvia. A hummingbird came to drink from the Mexican sage as we stood at the garden center, how could we not buy that?

I am thrilled with the result and hope it will fill these fast fading summer days with some insect beauty to go with the pretty new flowers.

After - much improved! I look forward to seeing how
the plants fill in next year.

What do you think? Would you plant a bee friendly garden?

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Cheesy Green Chile Bacon Cornbread Recipe

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This weekend we're heading out on an off-road camping adventure with our Off-Road Club. The group is putting together a big barbeque with everyone bringing a dish. We were asked to bring a side, which immediately made me start thinking of the logistics of keeping a side dish tasty, appetizing, and safe to eat at the appropriate temperature be that hot or cold. And then I thought of the perfect thing - something that doesn't need to be kept hot or cold! No, I'm not talking about chips with fake cheese dip - I'm talking Cheesy Green Chile Bacon Cornbread. Delicious and good at room temperature. And who can say no to bacon... or cheese... or green chile, for that matter? 


Green Chile Bacon Cheddar Corn Bread recipe. Delicious, cheesiness with a bit of kick from www.alovedlivedlife.com


Ingredients: 

Serves a crowd, so halve the recipe if you're not feeding numerous hungry Jeepers
2 c. cornmeal
1 1/2 c. flour
4 T. sugar
3 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
2 eggs, beaten
2 1/2 c. buttermilk
Bacon grease from cooking bacon
1 block of cheddar, grated (8 oz)
5 fresh Hatch green chiles, roasted, skinned, seeded and chopped or 2 4 oz cans of green chiles, chopped 
6 slices of bacon, cooked (fat reserved) and crumbled (but not too fine)

Directions:

  1. Grease a 10 x 15" pan
  2. Preheat oven to 425F
  3. Mix together dry ingredients (cornmeal through salt)
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, buttermilk, and bacon fat (make sure the bacon fat isn't so hot it cooks the egg when you pour it in)
  5. Add wet to dry, mix until there aren't large lumps. 
  6. Add in bacon and green chiles, mix in
  7. Pour into prepared dish
  8. Sprinkle cheese over the top
  9. Cook until tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes




Friday, September 8, 2017

Bathroom Renovation Part 1,000,000

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A while back all we could talk about was our bathroom renovation and then...nothing. What's going on? 

Well, let me tell you. Very little. 

We've pretty much decided that the bathroom has a soul and it is pure evil. Re-tiling the bathroom turned out to be a huge undertaking that involved racing to the tile store for another box of tile and one night that went on until 3 AM, but once we were past that part we thought we were home free. That turned out not to be the case at all. 

The bathroom has fought us each step of the way. For example: 

  • It turns out the vanity is slightly smaller (like 1/2 inch in all directions - shorter, shallower, narrower) than the previous vanity, so we didn't prep and paint the walls far enough. Back to patching and painting. 
  • Because the vanity is slightly smaller, the light fixture wasn't centered over the vanity. 
  • And the baseboard was too short. 
  • And though we bought a Moen faucet of the same type that we already had for the tub/shower combo, things have changed and what was there wasn't quite right, so we had to figure out how to make it work and our perfectly centered faucet hole in the tile, ended up being too low. 
  • This faucet perfectly covered the hole,
    until it had to screw onto the copper pipe.
  • And suddenly there are scratches on the top of the vanity. How did that even happen? 

Scratch number one
Not one, but two scratches. How? Why? 
Each thing we fix ends up creating more things that need fixing. Add in a trip to China and we have zero motivation to work on the evil bathroom of evilness. So, we hope the bathroom will be done someday, but we're not sure what day that will be. 

Once this project is done and the travail fades from our minds like the pain of passing a kidney stone, I am sure we will love it. But for now, this bathroom is teaching us about finding the humor in the not so pretty parts of your loved, lived life. 

Do you have any home improvement horror stories? We would love to hear them! 

Also, if you have any suggestions on how to remove scratches from a stone counter top, we would love those too. 

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

When Foodies Go Backpacking

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We love to be outdoors. Camping. Hiking. Off-roading. We also love good food and cooking. Our camping meals have included Hawaiian garlic shrimp, green chile stew, and snow crab legs. But that was all pull up to the campsite car camping.

This past weekend we were going backpacking. Which means we would need to carry everything that we need for the weekend. On the face of this, I was excited. But then I started to think about meals. Sure for many a protein bar may be an adequate meal, but that would be perdition for me.

I turned to my first resource, Mr. Awesome who has done multi-day backpacking trips leading troops of boy scouts and has a culinary degree. 

Mrs. Awesome: "What did you eat for lunches?"
Mr. Awesome: "Easy cheese and crackers or maybe vienna sausages."

I shuddered in silence beside him. It was time to go through all my Backpacker Magazines and create a menu. 

Mrs. Awesome:
"Chorizo mac and cheese!" 
"Granola stuffed pears!"
"We need full fat powdered milk for coffee."

Mr. Awesome: "This is going to be nothing like the backpacking trips of my youth."

So, here you have it. This is what it looks like when foodies go backpacking for two nights. 


Yes, those are flasks hiding in there.

Dinner we picked up on the way to the trail head. We got underway much later than originally anticipated. 

Day 1:

Mix up the granola with some cinnamon and pecans before you go. I added some dabs of butter in the zip lock bag. I didn't bother with sugar as granola and fruit are sweet enough for me. Around five to seven minutes over some coals and they were a delicious way to start the day. I used nonstick aluminum foil and didn't need to spray it with cooking spray as suggested in the recipe.  www.alovedlivedlife.com

Lunch: Lemon pepper tuna on crackers


I didn't get a good picture of the chorizo in this mix, but it was there. The taste of this was amazing. I changed the spice mixture suggested and went with garlic, paprika, pepper, salt, and ancho chile. I'd eat this at home. Clean up is a bit of work. As the recipe suggests, using full fat Nido dehydrated milk makes a big difference. 

Day 2:
Breakfast: Oatmeal with granola 

Lunch: Dehydrated meal (see, I did choose one thing that was easy)

Add in some snacks and some marshmallows and I will say it was all delicious. I would do it again. 

Monday, September 4, 2017

Blushing Sangria

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Summer is the perfect time for sangria and it's fun to get creative with you flavor combinations. Blushing Sangria is one of our favorites, made with a rosé wine.  


Blushing Sangria recipe - perfect for summer!


Ingredients

One bottle of rosé wine
1/4 c. vanilla vodka
1/4 c. triple sec or other orange flavored liqueur 
One apple cored and chopped
Five cherries cored and cut in half
One can of San Pellegrino Sparkling Blood Orange Juice (add this right before serving for a refreshing effervescence)


Directions 

1. Combine first five ingredients and place in the refrigerator for a couple of hours or overnight. 
2. Add San Pellegrino right before serving. 
3. Garnish with fruit and serve over ice (or not, if you're a purist) on your next sunny afternoon relaxing and enjoying your Loved, Lived Life.