Tuesday, August 26, 2014

playing blog catch up

I've been stupid busy prepping my class for the new school year (which began this week)! So here is a smidge of a recap to remind me that I indeed did something more than nothing...Mister and I celebrated twelve years of knowing each other with the traditional rootbeer float.
 I tried to spend my mornings eating breakfast in the garden (pollen be damned). There is a lot growing and now we have tiny pumpkins, sugar pumpkins, and butternut squash. I am soooo looking forward to Fall!
 This is what the pink room still looks like. Each container is for a picture book or theme for my classroom. Inside you will find felt board stuff or fine motor bits. I still have about a dozen boxes to go through. Can you guess how I will be spending my holiday weekend?
The classroom has undergone a major overhaul. I think I spent well over 40 hours just in the room, cleaning, organizing and moving things around. Add all the time spent by my co-teacher and parents who helped out and many many hours went into making it grand. I now have a nifty collection of baskets and wood bowls to hold my collections of random bits like rocks and decorative balls.
The organization of our paint shelf at school has me stupid happy. The way we have it all set up now everything has a place. If only I can harness this for the pink room. Someday....right?
The first day of school came and went and I am over the moon with my collection of kiddos. This group is going to keep me on my toes...I can tell. Happy August, it's almost over and I still have to take a picture of the bed. I've been too lazy to make it pretty. All the colors and linens are in place, I'm just too pooped to photograph it. This weekend I will, I promise! I already know what the September bed is going to look like....mostly.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

using pinterest as a cookbook

I really do love the usefulness of pinterest, that is if you actually USE it. I use it in many different ways from inspiration boards, diy ideas, blog promotion, classroom tools, and as a cookbook. Two weeks ago I powered through and did some honest to goodness meal planning. I hit up my pinterest board and searched for summery recipes, sorting until I found a handful that looked good, seemed easy, and shared similar ingredients.
I made a menu then circled same ingredients. I checked our pantry and fridge to see what we had on hand and went back to switch things around so that we were using what we had. I made two grocery lists, one for the farmer's market and one for the grocery store. I felt super productive. I love it when that happens. I also made a tart from the mama a-go-go's peaches (it is a happy tree).
I sent the mister to the farmers market as I had training at school to attend. The next day I hit up multiple grocery stores and picked up both the items on my list and the items the mister was not able to get at the farmers market. I brought everything home, did some chopping, made an awesome spinach and strawberry salad (w store bought strawberry poppyseed dressing) and served it up with a grocery cooked rotisserie bird and fresh baked crusty bread. We actually eat this salad a lot. It is super tasty. I use white onion or red onion, whichever I have at home. I also put the berries and the onion in this gadget and twist away. Speeds up the prep time, I love it!
The day after that I utilized half of the remaining chicken to make schwarma inspired sandwiches. I could not find lavash bread (made me miss L.A.) so made do with subpar pita (also made me miss L.A.), mixed greens, fresh tomatoes, red onion,  lemon cukes from the garden, hummus and tahini. It was really good! No photos folks. Mister gives me flack for being techy/trendylike and taking food photos so not every dish was documented. We served up the sandwiches with fresh fruit. They were super tasty.
Day three used up the remaining chicken inspired by this recipe. I mixed bbq sauce into the chicken and grilled up some sandwiches using the mixture, cheddar, and red onions. We had salad on the side using cukes and cuke blossoms from the garden.
After that, the order of what I made gets a bit hazy but we enjoyed a Greek inspired orzo salad that was best at room temperature. The recipe for the dressing was tasty but I think I need to double it up next time. The orzo salad served as the meal itself and we had leftovers for lunch and one other dinner.
I then made a white bean salad from dried beans that I had popped into the crockpot to cook over night. They got overcooked and while super tasty were also super mushy so the photos may look weird but it was really good! The white bean salad was served up with the meatballs from this recipe (which includes the white bean salad). Loved these! I never really make meatballs because it seems like too much work but when you thnk about how you can freeze them and reheat them so easily it is super worth it. Actually went really fast and these were really, really, good!  The second night we enjoyed the meatballs with the orzo salad and used the white bean salad as a lunch entree.
Next up was this salad. Oh my word! This one is so so good I ended up making it twice! I did not use romaine but used mixed greens and switched out the peppers (I'm allergic) for tomatoes, did not use jicama (mister is not a fan), and added avocado. It was the main meal. This one is a bit labor intense what with al lthe chop, chop, chopping. Keep the dressing in a jar and it keeps nicely i nthe fridge for two to three days. Also, don't go heavy on the dressing. I forgot I had already dressed my plate so I dressed it again and while I do not generally add a lot of dressing to my salads this was far too much and made it difficult to finish. When you make the tortilla strips, use a thin
We rounded out the week with this salad and it was really good even though I was worried about the mango and avocado in it. We added chicken to it the second time we ate it.The other half of the cabbage turned into slaw (I make a mean slaw) that we served up with ready made pulled pork for sandwiches. A quick, easy, tasty, dinner protocol from Ms. Za. We enjoyed ours with super not good for you curly fries courtesy of the freezer department. I get all anxious when I resort to premade meals not because I feel like I am failing my family but ore so for all sorts of environmental/moral reasons. Eeps.
So, there ya go,  more than a week's worth of easy meals to feed 2-4 people at a time. Possibly less, we tend to eat super small portions but you know your family best. I will be making all of these again...oh...one of the recipes called for sumac, I cannot remember which one, perhaps the white bean salad. Either way I did not feel I needed to go purchase a new spice that I could possibly be allergic to so I skipped it and it was fine...whatever it was. I need to plan another week now as we are being lazy and eating eggs for dinner but I am so so so lacking in inspiration at the moment. Enjoy!

Monday, August 11, 2014

we took a walk

 not a long walk mind you, but a nice walk. the kind of walk that makes you feel like you could wander for a long while.
i haven't been walking lately. my allergies have taken over and i have fearfully allowed them to rule. i'm not sure how to fix this but i keep trying different strategies. keep to ocean walks, less pollen around except for that enormous eucalyptus grove or those gorgeous pines (both contain something that force my body into attack mode).
keep to short even walks so that my allergy heavy body which has grown heavier this year can walk without making me feel like a miserable failure in the physical department.
drinking hot water or green tea or nettle tea to flush out those histamines, taking benadryl before a walk...all sorts of things. the problem is i never know which is working or not working due to all those other factors that creep in. was this walk better because of the tea or because the only trees around us were oak and i'm good with oak. was this walk bad because of the wind or because i wasn't hydrated enough? i never know how a walk will affect me until the next day when i cannot wake up easily or where i am overwhelmed by wheeziness or my throat begins to hurt or the crushing fatigue that knocks me over into napville before i can splash cold water on my face.
it's all very very frustrating made more so buy people close to me who just. do. not. get. it. healthy folks who can breathe unimpeded. who can walk without a care so that their legs are strong and the minds uncluttered. super frustrating. sigh.
so i went on a walk and i did everything beforehand and it seems to have worked. i'm not wheezy today. i'm not falling over tired. my brain is only slightly cluttered but i blame that on all the work i have to do. i'm thinking it was pretty good and maybe next week i will try this walk again. rather than beat myself up about it all i need to be kind and take what i can get. a couple of miles on flat ground isn't the worst i could do, right?
until then, i will hide from the pollen outside (it gets gusty in this town) and i will pedal away on the machine in the corner and drink more nettle tea than i know what to do with. mostly though, i will keep my fingers crossed and be kind to myself as i plan for future walks in this pretty pretty place.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

summer means homemade {buttermilk} ice cream

Mister is a big fan of ice cream. Buttermilk ice cream is his favorite. Me? I would rather have a bowl of sugary cereal. I found this hand crank ice cream maker at Goodwill for $5. We were still in the second tiny casa and I loved the idea of being able to make our own ice cream so I scooped it up. It makes a little more than a quart and takes about 15 minutes of crank time to thicken up your ice cream base before you pop it in the freezer.
I do not have a specific recipe for ya, when it comes to homemade ice cream in the a-go-go house we stick to the simple churned method instead of cooking up a custard base. For a tangy buttermilk ice cream, add juice from a couple of lemons and keep your buttermilk to cream or half n half ratio more on the buttermilk side. Think 3/4 of a quart of buttermilk to 1/4 heavy cream. Add sugar to taste and pop it into your maker.
Sometimes I will add crushed blackberries from the garden but this year the berries are too good to last longer than a few minutes after picking. So good! Mmmm...ice cream!