Saturday, June 30, 2012

A walk with Scout

Scout and I walked up to Shroeter Park yesterday after dinner...
 Just a few blocks away.  Chasing the sunset...
This park, smack dab in the middle of suburbia, is like a desert garden out in the country.  
It has some amazing patches of Agave and Prickly Pear.
It's easy to forget you are only a few blocks from home.  
There are mulched trails throughout the park.
A heart shaped cactus - sweet!
I wore comfy clothes and tennies and came home covered in burrs, sweating half to death.  This park is surrounded by a granite gravel track that I used to walk regularly.  I should probably start that up again...maybe just not at day's end - yuck.
 But we were just here to see nature, and the setting sun gave us such nice light to photograph.
 Curved wall around a playscape near where we take family photos - such a beautiful place.
A path in and around patches of mesquite and cacti.  The sounds of cicadas was deafening!
 Dried blooms on some unknown-to-me weed.  Beautiful even when dried out.
 Some of these trees have to be generations old, when this area was farmland.
 Hurry!  We're almost out of light!
Until tomorrow...

Friday, June 29, 2012

Curtains off the list!

I originally started this project in March...
It took me three months of procrastination and quite a few hours sewing and they aren't even real curtains.  Hubby noticed them right away when back from camping and said he liked them!
It's not as though they are a huge statement in this room, but they add a little something to those plain blinds, no?  I like that they are pretty neutral.  I love color and pattern, but it didn't seem right for curtains in this room.
The ottoman, yes.
I chose a natural color cotton fabric.  Lighter than the drop cloths I've people people use for curtains lately, and I could buy as much as I needed with my 50% off fabric coupon at Joann. I think I spent all of $17 on the fabric.
I added some sage green burlap from my stash to the bottoms of the curtains.  It helped add length and a little color.  While I was at it I made "tie backs" by folding and stitching a length of burlap.  Here's a close up:
You have to get really close to see the stitching.  
A zig zag works best when sewing burlap, I think.
Remember the "curtain rods" themselves?  Drapery hooks.  I found some plastic coiled tubing in hubby's toolbox that I used to bridge the gap for the curtain casing.
It worked great!
The drapery hooks worked out nicely for those tiny spaces at the outer edges of the windows.  It's hard to get good lighting in here to show the whole thing!
All in all, I am pleased with it, but just as pleased to have it done, finally.  Now to add a room size rug to this room and figure out what to do about that coffee table.  
Progress is slow...


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Crockpot carmelized onions

I got this idea from my mother, who regularly makes these onions in her crockpot, then enjoys them on cold sandwiches or with her dinner.  She likes to use whole onions.  I decided to slice this batch to make them easier to serve.  Here's what I used:
Start with about 3 pounds of sweet onions.  These are from Central Market and are called Texas Sweet, very similar to Vidalias.
I put about 1 1/2 sticks of unsalted  butter in the bottom of my big crock pot and set the temp to low while I sliced up the onions.  I had to work fast - those onions were powerful!  I always end up looking like something out of a horror flick with red eyes and tears streaming down my cheeks.
This time I sprinkled about a tablespoon of brown sugar over them, but you could skip this step.  Especially if you are using a variety of sweet onion.  I covered them, and off the boys and I went to do errands and pool all day.  These spent about 9 1/2 hours on low.
Halfway through the cooking time I gave them a stir.  The onion aroma filled the kitchen and people came running to see what was for dinner...sorry, no onions tonight  Before bedtime they had turned a nice light caramel color and I ladled them into jars to cool and store in the fridge.
When you slice them its hard to tell this is a jar of onion.  But it will make the most amazing thing to add to a burger, cold from the fridge.  It makes a great leftover roast sammie, is good in an omelette or quesadilla, and a spoonful of it stirred into beans is great! The cooking time is an estimate - If you want them darker, cook them a little longer; lighter, cook them less.  Eyeball them for color and texture and when they look like what you intend to use them for, stop cooking.  You can't really go wrong if you're an onion lover.  Try 'em and tell me what you think!

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Monday, June 25, 2012

Mealplan Monday #14 with boys return from camp

For some reason, we don't seem to be able to make a dent in the freezer stockpile.  Maybe because the boys were any case, we still have plenty of food in there, and that ought to make the shopping trip easy this week, too!
Rustown Art

Monday - Cheese quesadillas, guacamole, pico, black beans
Tuesday - Salmon/chicken (freezer leftovers), mac and cheese, carrots
Wednesday - Brinner: Eggs, monkey biscuits, home fries
Thursday - Pulled pork sammies (freezer item), Queso blanco dip and Fritos
Friday - Freezer leftover Tuscan Chicken, green beans, garlic toast
Saturday - Dad grills
Sunday - Freezer leftover Chicken Rice casserole, salad
The boys are back from camping and today we get a mountain of clothes cleaned and put away...but for now, sleeping in is the first item on their agenda...

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Iced coffee base

When I was a girl, I remember my mother drinking iced coffee in the afternoons.  Mostly on the weekends.  She would make a mason jar of iced coffee before heading off to do errands, and if I was with her, of course I did the same.   She used the leftover coffee from breakfast and added evaporated milk. I was a coffee lover, too, developing a taste for it that has stayed with me.
I usually add creamer to mine now, since that's how I drink my hot coffee, too.  I learned recently that you can cold brew coffee much like you make iced tea.  I purchased some ground espresso beans  and added about 1/3 pound of it to 2 quarts cold water.  Stirred it a bit to get all the grounds water-logged, then covered with plastic wrap and set in the window sill for most of a day.
It smelled pretty good, even for cold, un-brewed coffee.  I stirred it a few times to make the grounds sink.
 I let it sit all day, then strained it through cheesecloth and stored it in a glass container in the fridge.
The concentrated coffee makes a pretty decent glass of iced coffee with some Caramel Macchiato creamer. And provided the fuel for some serious sewing...
It's like having Starbucks in my kitchen!

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Friday, June 22, 2012

Window seat pillows

Some of my projects this week were mundane.  But even if they aren't thrilling to read about, they needed to get done, nevertheless.  One was a pad for my fat kitty to lay on.  Normally she lays where ever she wants.  But she loves windows, so I figure I would make her a cozy place to watch squirrels and birds.
 I started with a torn up old towel and a soft fleece remnant
 marked down to $2.25 at Joann's.
I folded the towel to the size of a pad I wanted to make, 
marked the boundaries for my enclosure method, stitched it,  
turned it inside out, then slipped the towel in.  
 This will be handy when I want to wash it someday.
 She found it right away and staked her claim.
 "Oh! Almost forgot about FOOD".
 "Can I eat now? What?  I just ate 5 minutes ago?  Fine.  
I will just take a nap."
I also re-purposed a couple of very old cushions that used to live on the couch.  The floral one is covered in outdoor fabric - perfect for a sunny window seat.  If my silly cat didn't love getting into plants, I would have an herb garden here.  Oh, well...
 I think she likes her new cozy spot.

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