September 29, 2014

September Morning

There is something elegant and wistful out here on my raggedy little mini farmstead.  I can't resist the morning ... donning rain boots and pj's with my tag-a-long friends, aka Daisy & Biscuit, we set out for a morning of musings in the dew and sunlight.

September 10, 2014

The $50 Puppy

This summer we added a new member to our family.   Introducing Daisy.
She's a Lab Coonhound mutt.  I'm not sure what has happened to me because I was dead set against getting a puppy.  On a warm summer day, as I was perusing the social media sale sites, I came across a listing on Facebook for $50 puppies...two of which were yellow!
YAY! WHAT? I don't need a dog! I totally don't need a puppy! So, how do I deal with this? I wasn't even in town at the time.
Well, of course I did what any good mom that doesn't need a puppy would do...
I sent the link to my 'weak for puppies' daughter! Yeah...I did that.
Shame on me, BAD MOM!!! But this takes all the guess work out of knowing what to do.  You leave it to that one child who has never winced at a decision. Okay... maybe over clothing. But when this girl decides something, there's no fence sitting, no wavering. Nope...she's in the car, with a plan, and don't get in her way.
So, on this day, she was at work when my link was texted to her. And before her keys were in the ignition at the end of her shift, her server earnings were earmarked for 'The $50 Puppy'. She grabbed her big brother and off they went.  And what's her dad going to say when our sweet daughter comes home with a puppy? Tell her 'No'? Of course not! 
Welcome Home Daisy!

Here we are, a month later, everyone has left for college but the 7th grader and guess who's left with Daisy Dog? And her antics, her messes, and her sneaky trips to my closet for shoes! Yep! It's me!!
Wow! What a life change. I. AM. IN. LOVE!
I am now guilty of being a Puppy Post-er on every form of social media I can find. I'm so sorry Facebook friends and Instagram followers. Not really. 
This little pup has become my newest obsession, hobby, and love.
I'm not sure if it's her wrinkly face with silly expressions or the way she just stares up at me waiting for me to look into her little doe eyes and embrace her, but whatever it is, I'm just smitten.
I could spend (waste) my entire day using every means possible to impart to any willing victim the sheer joy and entertainment this small creature brings to me.
She has some flaws (accidents).  My 12 year old chastised her stating 'you need to be trained!' after discovering a boo boo in the laundry room. 
I say, 'Need I remind you that it takes 2-3 years before tiny humans show any sign of potty training? She's 10 weeks old and whines when she has to go, so let's not throw rocks from our glass house.'
He laughs, thinking how funny and true that really is.  As humans, we are so impatient.  This little puppy already sits, lies down, and lets us know when she has to go.  If we ignore her communication we pay the price.
We already have an older lab mix, Sasha, and she is not real keen on the newby.  
There has been a serious increase in the barking in my house.  And as Daisy grows, she is even more vocal about how dang mad she is that this old dog won't get up and wrestle with her.
We were just sure that Daisy would learn great manners and good dog protocol from the older and wiser Sasha, but Sasha just can't be bothered.  She'd rather just saunter out of the room and take a nap. Daisy won't go away without a fight. She follows Sasha all over the yard and house, nips at her tail, tries to engage her in a good game of tug-a-war but so far, no dice. I'm not convinced just yet though.  I've caught Sasha when she thinks I'm not looking...tail wagging, making eye contact...she's warming up to the little scamp.
Is this puppy a response to my almost empty nest? the mom of 5, why stop the madness? 
Crazy Life = Mental Acuity - Right? I'm going with it.

Stay tuned for the follow up story about a little spotted pup that found a home!

Meet Daisy! Enjoy!

September 8, 2014

Mac-a-Hohns...? Yes, Please!

This weekend I told my self I was going to make macarons.
Not coconut macaroons....Delicate, adorable, and perfect French Mac-a-hohns....just say it...with a little throaty gargly sound on the 'hohns'.
I had the house to myself, well me and the d.o.g.'s.
And what did I do with my aspiration...I squandered it.  I played with the pups, took some walks, spent some time doing nothing, watched a movie, did some daydreaming...
But I needed to meet this goal.  So, despite the fact that the kiddo would be returning Sunday evening, I wasn't detoured and got my act together finally and put it all together around 8pm.
Hey... at least it happened.
Anyway, I found several recipes and videos online and finally came to the conclusion that Martha usually doesn't mess around with 'just okay' and I used her recipe for simple macarons.
I'm pretty impressed with myself that I had some success with my first go around.  I was a little disappointed with the raspberry but I attribute the failure to the addition of raspberry extract and coloring which changed the consistency of the meringue. Adding extracts intensifies the flavor, making the color come to life. It takes a lot to pack flavor into a two bite cookie.
I created my own flavor using Pumpkin Pie Spice in the meringue and the buttercream. I like it a lot!
I'm not a sweets fan so I think I need to run around town and drop them off to some unsuspecting folks and get some feedback...
I think that any experienced cook can make these.  Today I'm going to give it another go. Here's the flavors I'm making ... vanilla bean, pistachio, mocha, and blueberry.
I wonder who will be my target for the pastry bombing today?
Comment on my Facebook Page if you would like a macaron!  (But you have to pronounce it correctly when I get there) And no's free, sweet, and I'm just learning! XO♥

But Mom, we want macarons too???!!!

August 31, 2014

Bad Day? Shake It Off!

I ran across this new Taylor Swift video this morning on my Facebook news feed and frankly, after the day I had Friday, I'm going with it.

Are you having a bad day? Bad month? Bad everything? Just Shake It Off!

You're Welcome.

August 29, 2014

Summer Time Comfort Food

It's been one of those days...
So, after a rough day, what do I do? I resort to what I know

It seems there is something that always calls me back to the warmth and comfort of my humble kitchen.
Today, before I set out, I had gone to my garden to pick these beautiful tomatoes.
I have four varieties - Early Girl, Beefsteak, Cherokee Purple and Sweet Red Cherry.
The cherry tomatoes have done really well, but the others have been slow to ripen, split on the tops and produced less fruit than usual.  But nonetheless, I just cut away the bad and use what I can.  They're still just as delicious as ever.
For me, on a bad day, this simple recipe I created is the ultimate comfort food.  It can be made any time of year but summer time is best when fresh homegrown tomatoes, garlic and herbs are in season and readily available. This is my Summer Angel Hair Pasta with Roasted Garlic and Heirloom Tomatoes.

The yummy smell of roasting garlic and basil wafts through the entire house, bringing the kids around asking...'did you make pasta?' My kids actually request this dish a lot.  They just refer to it as Angel Hair. I love making it. There are some recipes that have a therapeutic effect while in the making.  This favorite recipe is effortless, healthy, and the aroma permeates my entire home.  Once everything is cooked, I usually steal a clove or two of garlic that has softened in the oven and has soaked up the olive oil and spread it on a piece of sliced baguette. The other joy of making this dish comes from the gift of my garden.  Walking out my back door to pick the ripe tomatoes and snipping off some fresh basil and oregano makes my heart swell with gratitude.
So, for a day that started off not so great...I'll say it turned out just fine.
I served up some love with a side of grateful and I'm back on my way.

Want the recipe? Visit my Recipes Page!

August 13, 2014

Be Brazen

"Stop talking about everyone else's version of you and 
just start talking about you...
What do YOU want?"

a gift from a stranger & a friend

August 10, 2014

The Yellow Table Recipes and Good Friends

I started following The Yellow Table after hearing about it from my friend, Megan Hartford, a local photographer and blogger. The Yellow Table is written by Anna Watson Carl and has captured the hearts of many all over! Anna invites us into her small New York City apartment for dinner parties with her friends around The Yellow Table. Each time I visit her blog, I instantly feel taken away and inspired to write, cook, and share the experience of good food with friends and family. Anna recently began a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to self publish her first cookbook.  You can read about her journey here. The cookbook did get fully funded which brings me to some terrific news!!! Anna asked several cooks to test recipes for the upcoming book and I'm happy to say I am one of them! YAY!!

I was given two complete menus, a summer menu and a winter menu.  It was a challenge to complete with a busy schedule getting kids ready for school and college and a weekend out of town, but I did it!
After reading over the recipes, I decided I wanted to find as many local ingredients as possible.
Naturally, my first stop was our local Farmers Market.  I picked up some beautiful grape tomatoes from
A & H Farms, heirloom Purple Cherokee Tomatoes from Derek Haug, and lucky for me, I found kale, garlic, and cherry tomatoes from Weiche Farms.  The most difficult to find was skirt steak. Finally, I found it from a local rancher - (even better) -The Picolet Family's farm, Oatie Beef. Some of the produce was donated to me for this project! Thank you Andrea and Derek!

SHOPPING SUCCESS!!! I put together my list and it was go time!

I prepared the Summer Menu first and invited some good friends over to share it with us.  The evening was perfect for a dinner outside.  The weather in Kansas can be miserable in July but this year it has been unusually cool and rather beautiful.
Outdoor patio lights across our deck made it especially inviting on a summer evening. We all enjoyed the delicious food with some wine and good conversation.
Thank you Sean and Eileen for spending the evening with us!

Just two short days later, I prepared the Winter Menu and invited my wonderful and lovely writer friend, Allie, to partake in our next food adventure.  She is a trooper!  She was called to duty when it became clear extra hands were needed to get the timing just right! Bacon and chocolate were involved!
The weather had returned to typical, muggy, and lots of biting creatures hanging around so we moved inside to the big table. Allie arrived bearing gifts...a bottle of some very (insert sarcasm) expensive red wine that we drank down like Kool-Aid as we enjoyed our desserts.

It was a wonderful and challenging experience.  As a cook, I have a difficult time following recipes.  It was important to follow procedure and take notes, no straying off the path for this girl.  The recipes took me on a new journey discovering some flavors I had never tried, but I was open to try some new things...Detox Kale Salad? Yep! And sooo good!!
Sharing these meals with friends was by far the highlight.  Cooking for and with friends is really a gift to my soul.  My recommendation...don't let too much time pass between meals with friends! Gathering around a table sharing food and conversation is never a bad idea and should happen often.
My door is open...invite yourself in!


July 1, 2014

Just some stuff....

I haven't posted in a while but I've been having some fun learning photography.
I even won a contest this past February! My winning photo will be used as the photo on the Kaw Valley Bank Calendar for all of 2015!
Here's a little sampling of my venture into photography! (No judging, I'm just getting started )
Here's the winning photo....

                                                                                                                                                              And the rest of these are just some of my 'photo ramblings'