Monday, September 10, 2012

Ideas for My Kitchen

My kitchen has been a work in progress ever since I married 7 years ago. Granted the actual kitchen has also changed twice since then but the decor ideal that I hold has remained the same. I simply have yet to reach that ideal. Slowly over time I've collected bits and pieces and my dream is that by the time I move into an actual house that I will be able to make it all come together. In the meantime however, I see no reason to wait to try to make my current kitchen as ideal as possible. Even though I know we won't be here forever.

Anyway, I found this video today on HGTV and I want to remember the ideas, I just couldn't get it to pin on pinterest so I'm going to post it here first so I can hopefully pin it from my blog.

Okay, so that embedding code didn't work for whatever reason. Here's a link instead. I like the idea of using a temporary idea like contact paper. I wouldn't go for a stainless steele look, but I'm wondering if I'll ever be able to find some in a fun graphic or even photo real print so I could pull off something like this.

Yes, I want my kitchen to be fruit themed. I am a bit particular about the actual style however. I'm not into the whole wine label/vintage look. I want it to be more graphic, bright and stylized. Which is why I came up with my Sassy Kitchen designs. Anyway, I'm not sure I'll ever be able to find a contact paper with a design that fits my taste, but I'm going to put this here just to help me remember the idea.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

What I Ate: 09-04-12

Pear Pudding

We have been abundantly blessed with lots of fruits and veggies from friends and family lately. Especially pears. I simply adore pears! Lucky for me, my mother-in-law isn't a huge fan, but her mother-in-law who happens to live next door, has a pear tree so the two huge buckets of pears that ended up in my in-law's garage ultimately ended up in my tummy, for the most part. :}

Of the last installment that we acquired from them, a few of them were really, really ripe, so I knew I'd need to use these ones immediately rather then eat them at my leisure, so I started searching around on Pinterest on Tuesday for a nice, doable pear recipe.
My first thought was pear butter, but in the end, I didn't really have everything I needed for that so I kept looking and managed to find this simple Pear Pudding recipe on  They didn't have a picture so after pinning the recipe I determined that if it turned out at all that I would post a picture here to add to my pin.
First time I ever made a recipe that called for a water bath. Oo la la! Fancy!
I changed the recipe a tad by substituting the sugar for raw honey. Also,1 teaspoon of cinnamon seemed like a lot. I wanted it to taste more like pear than cinnamon so I only added a dash or two. I also didn't have a lemon, but I did have a fresh lime so I substituted lime zest for lemon. I did use organic butter on the pan, though mine was salted instead of unsalted. I honestly never buy unsalted, and I've never had a problem with stuff turning out too salty. The last change I made was that I didn't have any breadcrumbs (sounded kinda gross to me anyway) so I crushed up the last of the health food store graham crackers that I'd purchased for our camping trip last weekend (for healthy-ish s'mores.)
 Anyway, it seems like it turned out okay. It never really set up to be very thick. Perhaps I should have baked it longer than recommended. It was quite golden around the edges though. It would have been nice if the recipe had mentioned whether or not I should test it with a knife or something. It said 'serve cool or chilled' so I chilled it for almost an hour thinking maybe that would help it thicken. Of course, the whole reason it was still a bit runny could have been due to the fact that I used honey instead of sugar. 
At any rate. It was deee-licious!

Sweet and kinda rich but sort of light at the same time. The taste was just so perfectly balanced, it's hard to describe. I loved the pear flavor and I do not regret cutting back on the cinnamon at all. Not that I have anything against cinnamon, and maybe if I do this again I'll try the full amount, but I just wasn't in the mood for a cinnamon dessert. I wanted a fresher, fruitier flavored dessert. And that's exactly what I got. Yay!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

What I Ate: Today (09-03-12)

I made it! (with 25 minutes to spare!)
Today I made one of my very favorite snacks. Strawberry Cream Cheese Toast. So yummy! Plus, potentially pretty healthful. Wish I had organic berries. Still, it's almost like having strawberry cheesecake for a snack, except without all the sugar.
This one is pretty self explanatory, but I'll break it down just the same. Organic nine grain bread, a generous blanket of full fat cream cheese. Tiled with fresh strawberry slices. Drizzled with raw honey and sprinkled with cinnamon. (Optionally. I don't always do the cinnamon.) Speaking of cinnamon I discovered that if you get that lovely brown powder on your upper lip it might make you do a double take when you pass your reflection. I thought I had a femmestache!!! That info might be useful for Halloween though. Think Indiana Jones' rugged five o'clock shadow. Paint free! (and you'd smell nice too. :}) 

Julie Surprise: Cornbread Scones or Scorns. :}

Man, I've noticed all these recipes lately are leading me to talk a lot about my Mom. I guess that's not too surprising when one considers that she's the one who taught me how to cook.
Ant any rate, this recipe is another variation on one of hers.

Scotch Scones (A.k.a Scotch Pancakes, Drop Scones) were another treat at our house when I was growing up. Much like a biscuit, but cooked on a griddle. We usually put raisins in ours which make them seem a bit more like a pancake, though not quite.

We would eat them with butter and jam as a side to any meal. Sometimes we'd toast them for breakfast the next morning, (if there were any left).

I've been trying to use up the last of my less healthful foods (those I didn't just toss outright) and have had some cornmeal in my cupboard for a long time. I've continuously told myself I ought to make some cornbread, but then I always recall that I have no flour. Cornbread would be pretty dense without it. In fact, I used to make it with baking mix because a sweet Southern Lady told me that was the secret behind perfect cornbread consistency. As true as that may be, I'm not planning to eat baking mix anymore if I can help it.

Anyway, it suddenly occurred to me the other day (August 30) that maybe I could make scotch scones with cornmeal and then it would be like a sped-up version corn bread baked in individual servings . These normally call for flour as well but I decided it would be worth the experiment.

Here is my Mom's Recipe:

Scotch Scones:
2 1/2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons soda
2 eggs beaten
1 cup butter (or Yogurt or Sourcream)
5 Tablespoons melted butter
1 cup raisins.

Mix dry ingredients together, the add all the liquids and beat until smooth. Add raisins is desired and mix. Drop tablespoonfuls onto hot griddle or electric frying pan. Cook five minutes and turn and cook until golden brown. (If you put the lid on the electric frying pan during cooking it goes a bit faster.)

Here's my variation

Julie Surprise Scorns (Corn + Scones = Scorns :} )
2 1/2 cups corn meal
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 Tablespoon raw honey (at least. Add more if you like it sweeter)
2 Organic eggs beaten
1 cup prepared oatmeal*
5 Tablespoons melted organic butter
Some organic rice milk (too help with the dryness)

*I figured it might help hold things together as was sort of creamy like yogurt. If I'd had any greek yogurt on hand I would have used that though.

That last ingredient I added later and didn't measure. I just added splashes of it here and there until the batter was the consistency I wanted. The thinner it is the further it will go and the nicer the scone will look. Though thinner scone are hard to slice in half if you want to put butter and jam inside.

They turned out okay and my girls loved them. I thought they were a bit gritty. I guess that's why cornbread normally cooks for an hour is to allow the corn meal to soften. I also thought it could have been sweeter. I tend to like my cornbread on the sweet side. Scones aren't very sweet though, so I guess I should have guessed.
My instructions are as follows. This is not how I did it. This is how I will do it next time I make these.

Combine cornmeal and oatmeal in a microwave safe bowl. Add enough water to cover the meal with about an inch. Cook for 2-3 minutes on high in microwave. (or until thick and creamy) Let cool while you beat the eggs and melt the butter. (You'll want both the cooked meal (mush) and melted butter to cool enough that they will not start cooking your eggs when you add them in.)
Use the melted butter to coat your measuring spoon for the honey so it can slide out easily into the eggs. Blend honey and eggs then add butter and mush. Add the salt and raisins if desired. Consider consistency and add rice milk to adjust if too thick or dry.
Cook on a hot griddle for 3-5 minutes on each side. (Placing finished scorns into a bowl or basket lined and covered with a cloth napkin to keep them warm while you cook.

Enjoy as you would other cornbread.
I love mine with butter and either raw honey or organic molasses.

Julie Surprise: Nostalgic Snacktime

Even as a young kid I used to like experimenting with food. I remember a day when I asked my Mom to make me a peanut butter cheese and lettuce sandwich. She thought it was strange but she made it just the same. Surprisingly tasty that one. Now that I think about it, I think it must have been inspired by this book. A definite childhood favorite of mine.

Another favorite sandwich of mine was peanut butter banana, and after a time I invented the variation of peanut butter raisin. I think by the time I had come up with this I was in my tweens and making my own lunch. Ants on a log were another regular treat. So, it was only a matter of time before I came to this little beauty.
It's basically ants on a log but with a banana instead. I used to call it a banana sausage when I was young because I would eat it like a sausage with a knife and fork. Now that I'm older I'm thinking that name has to go. Looking at that first image there, the only thing that comes to mind is Monkey's Smile. Ha, ha.
My girls love posing while they eat. :}

The Question of Tomato Sprouts

So I've had tomato seeds sprout inside the tomato three times now. The first time it happened was a few years ago and I freaked out and threw it away. In the past year or so, however, I've become rather interested in sprouts and wanted to try sprouting my own seeds to increase nutritional value.
So, when another tomato sprouted again recently, I decided to be brave and try eating it. The rest of the tomato seemed perfectly normal and it tasted wonderful. I added it to the sandwich in this other post.

It happened a third time on the 8th of August and I used part of it in a guacamole recipe and the rest I made into an open-face sandwich.
Organic Multigrain bread, fresh guacamole, tomato, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mmmm . . .

Still, I kept meaning to do a little research on this phenomenon and never got around to it till today (09-03-12). There are a lot of different opinions. Some people say they would never eat a tomato like this. Others say they have and do and that they are just fine and even tasty. Some people are worried this is a sign of genetic modification, others disagree and think it's a result of being kept cool for long periods in order to enable shipping longer distances. I really don't know what the real cause is.
I must confess, I rather wish I could be sure they are safe to eat. If it does turn out to be a result of GM, I will be rather disappointed.
I had learned years ago that tomatoes should not be stored in the fridge because it ruins their flavor. Apparently Italians never chill theirs but always keep them at room temperature. I figured Italians ought to know so I haven't refrigerated mine for years. 
When this kept happening I just figured that it got warm enough as they sat in the fruit bowl on my counter that the little seeds woke up. 
Hopefully someday I can shed some light on this little mystery.

Update: 07-11-15

We recently bought some tomatoes from Costco. They are non-gmo certified Houweling's Locally grown kind and nearly all of them ended up with sprouts inside, Today I have two left and I can see that they have little bumps forming on the skin where the sprouts are trying to break through.

This brought the question back to my mind again, about whether or not it is a sign of Genetic Modification, so I looked the brand up online to be sure they really are non-gmo. 

Then I did a little more research and found this article.  Which claims the phenomenon to be normal. Although I found another one that said eating tomato sprouts can cause gastric upset. I guess because tomatoes belong to the nightshade family their sprouts are a bit iffy? Anyway, My main thought now is . . . 'I wish I had somewhere to plant all these sprouts. Wouldn't that be awesome?'

What She Ate: 08-07-12

The other night Jake was gone. Kate had crashed and was not likely to wake up again before morning. That left Lily and I to have dinner by ourselves. Of course, in such situations I tend not to feel very motivated to do anything very involved for dinner when the hubs is not going to be there. Lily however really begged me to make her a "Julie Surprise" instead of just a pbj or what-not. So I told her she had to stay in the other room while I concocted something. I made her a personal pizza, using the carb free recipe I found a while ago. (Carbs are not so much the issue with me, just a P.s. I am avoiding non-organic wheat products more and more because of GMO issues. Anyways, this is a ton faster than traditional pizza dough.)

As I was making it, Lily kept popping into the kitchen trying to catch a glimpse of what I was doing, but I wouldn't give her any hints since it was supposed to be a surprise. Since I wouldn't satisfy her curiosity she began using her imagination and trying to "suppose" what surprise I must be making for her. She started to talk about if I could make her food that looked like a unicorn. I was like, "Umm, that would be kinda hard. Plus, I've already starting something else so sorry, you'll get what you get." Yet, she kept talking about the unicorn idea. (She's a little obsessed lately) so finally as I adding toppings I decided to try making a unicorn for her out of carrots with some broccoli foliage. Usually if I put carrots on pizza I slice them super thin with a peeler, but I figured it wouldn't matter if they were thicker this time. She was so excited when she saw her personal unicorn pizza. She ate every bite of that nine inch pie, all but the last one which she generously bestowed upon me so that I could taste how it had turned out.
Pretty good.

What I Ate: 06-04-12

A sandwich worthy of Dagwood Bumstead. Okay, maybe not. At least, looking at his sandwich, I think he would disagree with me. Even so, I have to say, this sandwich was deeeeelectable!
Even without any meat. :}
Inventory (from top to bottom):
Slice nine-grain organic bread.
Mayonnaise (cringe*)
Sea Salt/Fresh ground Pepper
Slice sprouted tomato
3 slices avocado
Leaf lettuce
Slice fresh onion (if only it had been a red one!)
3 slices avocado
Sea Salt/Fresh ground Pepper
Slice sprouted tomato
Slice nine-grain organic bread

*Okay I confess, we still have this in the house, I swear once it's gone I'll not buy it again! I'm planning to make mayo homemade forever afterward.

Stir Fry (Cleaned up a bit)

Stir Fry has been a staple recipe pretty much since I first got married. Especially after I discovered the huge bag of Asian mix frozen veggies available at Costco.
Back then I used to purchase Lighthouse brand Asian dressings or marinades and use those as my main sauce to cook the meat in and then throw in the veggies right at the end. I even purchased Panda Express brand orange chicken sauce from Costco a couple of times, until I knew better.

Stir fry became even more frequent for us after Jake's little brother gave us one of the three rice cookers he got for his wedding. It was pretty awesome.

Sadly, it has since broken though, and I'm really missing it. Still these have continued to evolve at our house when it comes to food and what we eat and even stir fry has seen some changes.

First of all, I decided to try Quinoa at the start of this year and that has fast replaced rice in our diet. Not that rice is terrible, it just has so little nutritional value as compared to quinoa which is actually not a grain at all, since it's not a member of the grass family. The part we eat is the seed which has been found to be a complete protein. The hardest part is rinsing it because the seeds are so tiny they tend to fall through my mesh colander. I've tried a few different things but the best I can do so far is to fill a jar with the quinoa, cover with water and then pour off as much water from the top as I can without losing too much quinoa, then fill again and repeat till the bubbles are much reduced. Still, it's worth it.

(Update 2/21/13 I have since purchases a little coffee filter basket. It holds exactly the amount I need to rinse, even if I double it from half a cup to a full cup. It's been a huge time saver so now quinoa is probably the fastest meal I make.)

I don't even feel like I need to add meat any more because the quinoa is already full of protein. Though I still will add meat occasionally. Usually wild caught salmon, and rarely chicken or beef. But those two are very rarely eaten in our home now. I have not yet found a good source for the safer grass-fed versions of these meats. P.s. quinoa is really tasty.

Eeeenyways . . . . So that has changed. I no longer use a pre-made sauce for my stir fry but usually just throw things together that I have that seem like they would work for that type of Asian style flavor. Soy sauce is a no-brainer and luckily fermented soy such as soy sauce is actually the only safe way to eat soy. Any other soy is toxic. That's one thing I've learned in the past four months or so that has changed my thinking yet again in regards to what I will buy/eat. It's sad how many things contain processed soy. I mean, seriously. Especially sad considering how many "health" foods contain nasty processed soy that will mess up your hormones (it contains estrogen imitators) giving you all kinds of problems. Even edamame (which is not a raw food, FYI) is not safe to eat a lot of.

But I digress. I've had a lot of fun making stir fry since my diet has changed to more raw/organic/whole foods. It might not be quite as quick as my old way of making stirfry, but it doesn't usually take too much longer. I still use the frozen veggies but I usually use less and add a few fresh things, whatever I have on hand. Carrots, onions, broccoli, zucchini, cabbage and fresh pineapple is always a treat. I'd like to get some sesame seeds sometime and try adding roasted sesame since it is to die for!

As for the sauce, I use soy sauce and water, as well as simple seasonings like ginger, garlic, fresh ground black pepper and sea salt. (or curry if I feel like going in an Indian direction). I also like to add a little honey or maple syrup sometimes to off-set the saltiness of the soy sauce. I tend to also use peanut butter or tahini if I want a thicker sauce. Organic juice can be good. Adding a can of pineapple chunks, or even just the juice adds a more teriyaki feel. Greek yogurt, butter or coconut oil can also be used. If you have any fun Asian seasonings you use, I would love to hear about them!

What I Ate: 2-17-12

I call this one Paradise Salad.
It's kind of hard to see what all is in there, but it had romaine lettuce, red cabbage, fresh pineapple, yellow bell pepper, diced mangoes, and shredded cheddar. Then it was topped with an Asian style dressing and shredded coconut. Mmmmm . . . 

What I Ate: 05-12-12

I had some leftover homemade gingerbread on this particular morning and decided to have the final piece for breakfast. Since I was all out of lemon sauce I decided to try it warmed with organic butter melted on top and drizzled with real maple syrup. Plus we had fresh blackberries so I added those too.
It was a lovely, and heavenly tasty breakfast.

(My darling Mumsy was good enough to make this gingerbread with honey instead of sugar and fresh ground wheat flour rather than white. My mom rocks!)

What I Ate: 05-10-12

My Mother had a recipe called Impossible Pie that we kids just adored when we were younger. Though now the ingredients I prefer have changed, it's one of those deliciously customize-able recipes that can really turn into anything you want.  Like an omelette you can flavor your pie however you chose. It's called impossible pie because it doesn't require you to make a crust. Otherwise, it's basically a quiche.

The night before this, on the 9th I had a lot of ingredients that needed to be used so I ended up making four of these pies in two flavors. One of them is more of an Italian theme in which I threw in the last bit of some pasta sauce and some broccoli and mozzarella with some parmesan sprinkled on top.
The other two pies were green bean and mushroom flavor with some mozzarella in there as well I believe.

Sorry I don't have exact recipes. It's been a while. Basically you put all the ingredients you want into the pan and then pour an egg mixture over it and then put it in the oven for about 30 minutes at 400 degrees or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean.

In my Mom's recipe the egg mixture (per 9"pan) is:
* 2 cups milk
* 2 Eggs
* 1/2 baking mix.

I don't buy cows milk anymore so I usually substitute organic rice milk which works just as well in any recipe I've tried.

I think I did use some baking mix in these, though I don't intend to buy more now that it's used up. It was one of those. "Let's just use it up so we aren't being wasteful" moments.

Since then I've found this carb free pizza recipe that turns out somewhat similar in consistency, so I'm pretty sure you could just skip the baking mix if you want it gluten free and use cream cheese instead.

What I ate: 05-06-12

My mother has been buying these cocoa coated almonds at Sams Club and they are really addictive. On this particular day I was wondering if I could make my own so I coated a bunch of almonds with cocoa and put them in the oven to roast.

I didn't add any sweetener and so they really tasted nothing like the store bought ones though. Of course then I looked it up online and found that lots of people have tried making their own version of these and pretty much everyone uses a sweetener of some kind. I was trying to be brave and healthy and go without it, but it just wasn't very easy to eat them that way so after roasting them I caved a coated them lightly with maple syrup. This made them better, but extremely messy. Yet another "Julie Surprise" where I'm the only one who seems willing to eat it. :P

Here's a recipe I found later on pinterest that I should have used. Maybe I'll try again sometime.
The only real difference here (besides the order of ingredients) is that her recipe includes flour. I'm guessing this is to tone down the bitterness of the cocoa so it's not so strong. I wonder if I could find a good flour alternative that doesn't cost much. Hmmm . . .

What I Ate: 05-05-12

Sadly I have nothing amazing to show for cinco de mayo this past Spring, in fact I probably forgot about it since my daughter's birthday is the day before.
As such I had made my funny little five year old a special (and as healthy as possible) birthday cake for her fifth year celebration. I used a recipe called Hummingbird cake I found on Pinterest, which I decorated with dried pineapple flowers and edible pansies (and a plastic Tinkerbell of course.) I'll try to post some pictures up here soon so I can link to it.
Anyway, in the recipe online the blogger wrote about how the frosting turned out sparse so of course I doubled the recipe and the result was that I had about a cup of frosting leftover even after generously frosting the cake. So the next day I was looking at that extra frosting, trying to decide how best to use it and I recalled a blog I had read not to long before that in which an adorable expectant mother was always craving apple slices dipped in cream cheese frosting. I had apples on hand so I figured I might as well try it. 
It was pretty good, though my frosting was a little thick to make dipping very possible. I still think that caramel or peanut butter are a bit better. Of course the girl from the blog might have been using store bought frosting which would have tasted differently and was probably much softer. 
(No I did not eat all of that frosting in one day, or with apples--though I think I tried it one more time--it lasted weeks and I had to find other creative uses for it.)

I think I should note, when I made the hummingbird cake it was really good, but I had (or chose, in some cases) to make some substitutions. For example, I replaced the sugar with raw honey instead. I didn't have any pecans (sadly) so I put flake coconut in the frosting and I substituted part of the flour for oatmeal instead. My father-in-law who makes amazing cakes said he really liked the oatmeal in it, although he didn't know what it was at first. 

What I Ate: 04-03-12

On the morning of April 3, 2012, my girls were asking for eggs and toast for breakfast. We only had about two eggs left and so I wasn't sure how far that would go between the two of them. (let along their mom) Somehow in talking with them though, it occurred to me that I could make french toast and that would make the eggs go further. To my surprise my almost 5 year old asked, "What's french toast?" I was like, "Really? has it really been that long that you don't remember it?"  So I figured it was high time I made some again.
When I was a kid my mom always let us put powdered sugar on our french toast even in addition to the sugary jam or syrup. I have powdered sugar (possibly from my grocery shower seven years ago? o.O) but since we've been trying to cut out processed foods I hadn't touched it in forever. That particular morning though, I was feeling a bit nostalgic and decided to let the girls try some along with their organic butter and real maple syrup. Just for the experience. (I know, it seems a little backwards to give a child organic breakfast with powdered sugar on top.)
After two happily sugared up children left the table to go play, it was Mommy's turn for breakfast. We had one remaining slice of organic nine grain bread and barely enough egg mixture to just coat it, but I made it anyway and when it came to topping it I almost caved into the nostalgia of powdered sugar, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it, so I gritted my teeth and stowed it back in the pantry during which process my eyes fell on the container of pure cocoa powder and I had a little eureka.

Oh, my goodness! I was soooo goood!  After I took these pics and started cutting into my french toast the cocoa began to blend with the maple syrup and basically turned to chocolate syrup. Yet, not at all resembling the nasty plastic-squeeze bottle junk you can buy in the store. It was rich a sweet but wholesome tasting too. I'm so glad I discovered this trick!
I have since experimented with making chocolate syrup using those two ingredients and it works really well, only you have to expect it to be a bit thinner than the store bought version because when I used enough cocoa to make it thick it was a bit too strong, even for someone like me who loves really dark chocolate.

What I Ate: 03-23-12

Today I'm going to be playing "Catch Up" and try to whittle down the list of all the things I've taken photos of in the past while (*Cough-six months-cough*) that I intended to post but never did.
Most of these things are food photos that I took when I was particularly excited about a new recipe or snack that I'd concocted.
On (an online wishlist/shopping community) many of the members will write a "What I Wore" post on their blogazine so that they can share of some their creative outfits or newly purchased attire. I've decided will all the back-dated photos of food I have, that it would make sense to do that same thing only with what I ate instead. So I'm starting with the oldest one's first and will work my way forward to today. (We'll see if it still is today by the time I get to it. :}  )

This first one is simple enough . . .

I don't buy chips much anymore, (mainly because of the whole GMO thing) but someone gave me some of these blue corn chips after a party and I knew my hubby would be happy to have some again for a change, so I took them home.
I figured that for me a least, any excuse to make homemade guacamole was a good excuse..

When I make guacamole I usually don't follow a recipe anymore, I just puree the avocado in my little hand blender along with some fresh minced garlic, a tomato and some lime (or lemon) juice and salt. I just sort of eyeball it.
I'll add other things too, if I feel like it or have them on hand. In fact, last December when I went to Arizona to spend Christmas with my sister she and I concocted our own guacamole/hummus. It was really good and that was the first time I discovered what tahini is. (in case you don't know it's toasted sesame seed paste) So after that I went out and purchased some organic tahini from the health food section of Smith's Marketplace and started making my own hummus at home a lot too. In fact, six months later, I am completely out of tahini and will need to go purchase some more soon because I love me my hummus.

For those who are wondering, I usually buy all my beans dry now and soak/cook them up in the crock using this method I found on pinterest a few months ago. Then I freeze them in jars like this until I need some beans and then I'll just stick a jar or two in the fridge the night before.  I feel a lot better not buying the canned beans since almost everything canned has (toxic) soy in it now.

Anyway, so I've made hummus with garbanzo beans a lot but the last time I made hummus I actually tried using zucchini like this recipe I found on pinterest here. It was really good and I didn't even notice a difference in flavor. I think the only downfall is that with bean hummus I know I'm getting some protein, but not so much with that zucchini kind. Still, if you can't eat beans (or gluten) the zucchini kind is a great alternative.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Flowers for James & Sarah's Butterfly Wedding - Part II

This is the second part of my post about my sister-in-law, Sarah's wedding. If for some insane reason you want to read about how my involvement in all of this took place, see the first part here. 
Okay, so here are some photo details of the wedding I helped plan.  

I suppose I'd better start with the flowers as that was my main part in helping with this wedding. 

The boutonnieres were the first items I created for the wedding. The groom's being very first and then the best man's and so on. It is a little crushed in this photo so I'm not sure how easy it is to see but the groom's had two little butterflies on it. A yellow and a blue one.

After I made the above boutonnieres I made these ones for the fathers.

Both the bride and groom come from large families so we couldn't include everyone in the wedding party and rent all the many brothers a tux, so instead we made these simple boutonnieres for all the brothers and brothers-in-law to show that they were someone special in relation to the event without them needing to match their clothes or stand in a line.

After tons of research on Pinterest and elsewhere online I actually decided to come with my own way of doing the wrist corsages for the bridesmaids. I was inspired by this tutorial that used a ribbon as opposed to elastic. I liked that idea. Yet after a few tests I decided this exact method would need to be tweaked. As much as I loved the idea of just using ribbon I knew that for what I was doing that I needed some sort of a base. This tutorial  by Debbie Saenz of A Creative Life got me thinking about things because she buys a store bought wristlet just for the use of it's base, while replacing the elastic part with a beaded bracelet. I didn't want to have to spend the money on a whole wristlet and only half of it, and I also recalled that sometimes those bases can feel uncomfortable right against the skin so I came to the idea that a large button sewn to a ribbon would work perfectly. This would mean that only the ribbon would be against the skin but the button still provided something solid that I could build the flowers up onto.
After the buttons were on I covered them with a circle of silk leaves using hot glue and then added the sheer bow to that. From there I added the main flowers and then worked in the smaller details (faux berries, leaf sprig, and feathers). Everything was arranged and decided on before I did any gluing. (Sorry, I took this picture before I had added the butterflies.)

Here are the finished corsages on the Bridesmaids.

The following are the sister (or sister-in-law) corsages.

The following are the Mother corsages.

This is one of the grandma corsages that I made. I'd made three but only one of the grandma's was able to attend the wedding.

This is the tossing bouquet.
The photos really don't do it justice.

And here is the Bridal Bouquet.
I tried to capture all angles of it. I wish the photos really showed off the glimmer of the butterflies and the depth of texture and color I tired to achieve. My husband did a bridal video that shows it off a lot better so I've put it here for your perusal.

Okay so on to the wedding decor!

At the entrance to the yard my Mother-in-Law had told me that she wanted to have some sort of welcome sign. Just before saying so she had told me about all the chimes she had purchased for putting around the yard so when she said mentioned the welcome sign it occurred to me that the sole set of chimes I own (which she actually gave me when her son and I were newlyweds) not only had a welcome sign but also had butterflies which was the weddings theme so I was very happy to have something to offer that would fit all of our needs so well. 
On the big day, we saw a lot of real butterflies in addition to the feather one's we were using in the wedding decor. One swallowtail in particular passed through the yard quite frequently. I believe it must have been a male since he seemed to be patrolling his territory. I managed to get a rather blurry photo of him, but at least I managed to capture the little wedding-crasher on camera for memory's sake. :}

The mimosa tree was in full bloom for the wedding. It was perfect timing since it was in bloom but had not yet started dropping old browned blossom yet. It looked and smelled lovely as it shaded the wedding line and the guests seated on the patio furniture.
Here are some of the prettiest wind chimes that were purchased for the wedding.

The folliwng idea was inspired by Pinterest.  It was windy that day though, so the wreath wouldn't stay on the tree. After one attempt it was put back into the house, but I wasn't about to give up on an idea that the Bride had particularly requested. I had been there when my Mother-in-Law and the Bride found the wreath at Michaels on sale and we were all super excited about how well it would work for our banner wreath. I had added the butterflies and burned myself while I hot glued the banner on so after all that effort I definitely was not going to just give up on the idea due to a little extra breeze. I improvised by hanging the wreath on an extra hooked garden stake that I put at the base of the tree. This held on to the wreath just enough that the wind couldn't blow it down.
I was pleased that I was able to make it work, and lots of people said it looked really nice.

As I mentioned in my Part I post, my Mother-in-Law and I had been having tons of fun coming up with items to decorate the yard with for the reception and even though Sarah had specified that she just wanted butterflies and not have that theme combined with birds and birdcages as was suggested, we simply couldn't resist using a few anyway.  I had actually purchased the blue one for myself to use in decorating my bedroom about a month before my sister in law became engaged. I'd wanted to offer it before but when she said she thought we should just stick with the butterfly theme I thought it wouldn't work after all. Then just a few weeks shy of the big day while I was at my In-Law's working on the flowers, my Mother-in-Law came back from Michaels with these two little yellow birdcages. I thought they were so adorable and so I offered to bring my blue one to complete the grouping anyway. 

These are not the prettiest examples but we put all the extra butterflies that were leftover from the flower arrangments and corsages to decorate the yard. 
Pretty much every fence, bush and tree had at least one butterfly poised upon it. I think it was fun for the kids to walk around the yard looking for them.

My Sister-in-Law Ruth was in charge of all the centerpieces but as it was a lot of work and she was 8-9 months pregnant I helped her out a bit and of course added a butterfly or two to each of them after they were done. I pretty much was the butterfly lady. If anything had a butterfly on it, I was behind it.
I also helped plan a game for one of the bridal showers and while I was out looking for some little prizes for that at TJ Maxx I found these lovely candle holders that had butterflies and dragonflies printed on them. They were on sale and I loved them so much that I bought them for myself to use in my own room later with the justification that they would be perfect for placing on the tables for the wedding. :}

After the main table centerpieces were finished, Ruth asked me if I could make the three large one's for the buffet tables. This is what I came up with.

This is the cake topper. Ruth made it. I simply provided the butterflies. 
I didn't manage to get a picture of the cake in it's entirety. But my brother-in-law Aaron did so this next photo is credited to him.

And here's a nice photo collage by the Groom's Sister-in-Law, Selva, who made the cake. Check out her FB page, Jungle Cakes so see more of her work.

I also forgot to get a photo of the signing table so here's Aaron's photo of that.
The book boxes on the table are another of my room's decor that I loaned to the wedding decor. My mother-in-law bought the matching chest for collecting all the gift cards and notes from guests who didn't have larger gifts.

Here's a table we had off to the side that shows another of the centerpieces, and another of the butterfly candles as well as a lovely box that had no purpose in the end but my Mother-in-Law simply couldn't resist buying it. Actually in the end we put all the butterflies from around the yard in it.
This is the forget-me-not necklace that all the server girls got to wear.

Some of the butterflies I purchased online had a rather deceptive photo and so when I got them the colors were completely different than what I thought they were. So I hand painted these butterflies to match the wedding colors and they ended up being used on the little tulle fencing that we set up around the edge of the swimming pool.
I had a lot of fun painting them.

Just to be different (or just nerdy) I came up with this sign for directing guests to the restroom. Yes, that is a male and female of the Blue Morpho species of butterfly. 
I also painted a wooden plaque that had butterflies and read "powder room" and gave it as a shower gift to the bride. We were supposed to hang it on the restroom door but I think she forgot and brought it to her apartment because I never saw it again after giving it to her. It's a bit of a pity because I forgot to get a picture of it before I gave it away.
The idea of the petals on the steps came from Pinterest.

Here's a little glimpse of the buffet and the dining area.
I think the blue and yellow table coverings turned out lovely. (That's my baby in the yellow dress. :})

And last but not least. . .
My mother in law borrowed the butterfly and the fairy statue and purchased the book one. They were perfect for the wedding especially because the bride is a fantasy author and loves to read.

So there you have it!