Friday, April 29, 2011

Food for thought: Falafel love

Sometimes all you need are a few pictures to get the job done. So, I present some falafel love:

And this final product: a gorgeous sandwich and some fried zucchini:

The falafel recipe came from here and the zucchini recipe is a family tradition from my mom.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A trip to a magical land

Remember when I said I'd talk about the most magical place on earth? Well today I'm making good on my promise to take you there, in a matter of speaking.
First, the day's most exciting discovery:
 Candytufts! And lots of them. They were literally everywhere. I bought 6 of 'em just to make sure I'd have enough.

 Then there were these neat bags that you could plant things in but they hung on a wall or off a fence. The next evolution in vertical gardening?

 And rhubarb, glorious rhubarb. If it weren't for Miyagi and the chance he might accidentally eat the poisonous leaves, I might have bought a few pots.

 So pretty! And ready to give their life to make a strawberry pie better, I'd wager.

The place is huge, by the way. There is an outdoor nursery and two greenhouses, along with a gift section, cafe and sweet shop. I could lose myself for hours in the main greenhouse.

Among the ornamental plants:

Or delicious veggies and herbs:

 They even had bowls of lettuce:

 And some extremely beautiful dahlias:

This final feature is something shock and amaze. It's called "Magic Carpet Thyme":
The carpet part is due to its ability to grow quickly and spread out, to "carpet" the area you plant it in. The "magic" part, it turns out, is due to something even better. When I took a whiff to see how close to thyme it smelled like, it turns out it didn't smell like thyme at all. In fact, it smelled exactly like Fruit Loops. I'm not even joking. I circled back to snort some more right before we left and they still (amazingly) smelled exactly like one of my favorite childhood cereals. When I figure our where I might actually be able to plant these, I'm going back and I buying a bunch so I can make some area smell delicious!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Friday Finds: Geek to the core

Last week's discovery of the R2D2 mug got me thinking about how best to incorporate my love of all things Geek into my decor. A quick Etsy search turned up plenty of choices.

I don't have kids, but if I did, you can be sure this would be in their room:

This would be fitting addition to any (wo)man cave:

I love the graphic nature of this one. It's pretty much on my must-have list now:
 Retro Scandinavian style Star Wars printhandz

There's something gorgeously geeky about these simple blueprints for the Millennium Falcon. Want!

And because I love typography and The Lord of the Rings, I can't help but think this is pretty awesome:

And finally, I love the moody quality and the reference that only fans would get:

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Around the house: I have a functional dining room!

Remember this?

And this?

A few weeks ago I managed to clear all the junk out of the room and off the dining room table:

But the massive cleaning left a fairly blank wall here:

My plan was to get a cube organizer and get more storage with something that could anchor the room without taking up too much space. Last weekend, that's just what we did. And then I filled the cubbies in a hurry cause our landlord was coming by with our new lease(!) and I wanted it to look like we hadn't just thrown it up cause he was coming (we sort of did). And here's the result:

Now I just have to hang the prints I framed:

Total cost to me: $35. The cube organizer was on sale for $35 at Target, the frames (available right now in a 4-pack for $15 at Bed, Bath and Beyond) I purchased with a gift card and the prints are from a calendar I got for Christmas a couple years ago. Booyah!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Plant identification success

It's a candytuft! Yay!
Let me back up.
When we moved into the house, it came with some lovely bushes in the front plot, including three holly bushes, a dying azalea (I'm currently attempting to bring him back) and a few other types I can't immediately identify. There was also two crawling plants that were green and fairly pretty, despite it being winter. But it wasn't until spring that we learned that the gorgeous little guys sprout pretty white flowers. Like this:

The problem is that they were planted on only one side of the house, so the house just looks lopsided, especially with them in full bloom.
That's me in the reflection and to the right of the front stoop you can see our sad azalea. I hoping it will bounce back after a few doses of azalea food, purchased at the most magical place on earth, otherwise known as Anderson's Showplace, a gardening store in Newport News that I promise to talk about soon.

So I posted this photo on Facebook in the hopes that someone would be able to identify it.

Turns out one of my friends from Algeria that I met during a summer cultural exchange immediately knew and messaged me the name. So now all I have to do is get some candytufts to plant on the other side and my home will look less lopsided and more lived in. Now if only I can get the dying azalea to play along too!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Around the house: Outside looking in

It's time I finally shared what our house looks like. It's a great little house from the 60s and I am so grateful we were able to rent it when we did. Really, I just love it.

The roof is actually dark gray, but it was so bright out last week it looks white. Odd. Also, the "chimney top" above the front door is completely fake. There is not a chimney in our house.

 Forgive the bad quality stitch job.

You can see the bushes along the back that used to be 6 feet tall before our landlord got at 'em. Chopping them down did give us a great view of our backyard neighbor's garden, of which I am eternally jealous.
The garage and actually the mud room were new additions from the 80s. Back then the whole house was covered in ugly slate blue wood siding. They put the garage in in brick, bricked the front and then put new white vinyl siding on the back.
Back of the house 

The garage door is not motorized. It weighs a ton, so we only used it to move in.
View of the front from the side of the house.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Friday Finds: Fun mugs

This week I hope to offer some options for getting your caffeine fix - or decaf, if that's your style.

One day I hope to enjoy some delicious french press in my own reading nook, where I will use this photo to decorate:

Morning Coffee - Seattle's Pike Place Market, Big Bean Photos

And this:

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Wedding Photo Wednesday: My girls (and guys)

If it wasn't for these ladies, I would not have had such a great time at my wedding:

And lest I forget the gentlemen who often make my life awesome, here they are:

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Homemade Hamburger Buns

Here's the thing. I love grocery shopping. Which is quite a contradiction considering how much I dislike shopping in general. But grocery stores? Yes, please. My problem is that there is so much I want to buy. It's just bad. So when I'm missing one last component to make a meal (in this case, buns for the hamburgers I decided to grill tonight), I try every solution except go to the store. Why? Because I'd go for a pack of buns and leave with $100 in my cart. Not a good move on my part.
So as I was considering abandoning the burger idea (it'd be the first of many burgers of the season, I hope), I realized I could just make those buns. After all, I had every ingredient, including one last packet of yeast that I had been saving for who knows what. And I have a bread machine which, sadly, doesn't get as much use as it should.
After a quick Google search, I discovered an easy recipe with a really high rating on and that was it. I would be making my first hamburger buns.

Honey Wheat Hamburger Buns
Adapted from recipe
  • 1 1/4 cups milk, slightly warmed
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup honey (or white sugar)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour (If you don't want whole wheat, just go with 3 3/4 cups APF)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  1. Put all ingredients in your breadmaker according to your machine's directions. 
  2. When the maker is done, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. 
  3. Cut the dough in half and roll out each half to 1-inch thick rounds. Cut out rounds with cutters and place on an oiled pan. Cover and let rise for another 30 minutes.
  4. Brush melted butter on top and bake in a 350-degree oven for 10 minutes. Flip over and bake on the other side for 5 minutes. (I used a baking stone which cooks more evenly and slightly slower. Adjust your baking time down to compensate for the speed at which pans can burn bread).
  5. Cut in half, brush oil on the insides and grill next to your burgers.

These would also make great dinner rolls if you roll out dough in balls. Bake for sightly more time to compensate for thicker dough. I made plain old beef burgers, seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic and cumin. We also sauteed onions and mushrooms on the grill.

For a side, I roasted yellow potatoes and asparagus tossed with olive oil, garlic, Parmesan cheese and oregano.