Saturday, December 20, 2014

A Cozy Night In

This time of year always seems so busy, so last evening my husband and I were thankful for a cozy night in. This coming week will be filled with Christmas festivities, and it was nice to have a quiet, relaxing evening. We had been given a fresh pineapple, and I had some bananas on hand - so I thought I would whip up a little snack for our evening. I melted some milk chocolate with a little bit of oil, cut up our fruit, and we enjoyed some yummy fondue while watching Jack Frost. Perfect night in!

By the way, I'm loving this little clay dish I recently purchased at TJ Maxx. It was perfect for the fondue. I was able to use it on the stove top to melt the chocolate, and it made a very cute dipping dish!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Homemade Gift

Last weekend I went to a Christmas party, and we were told to bring a handmade gift for an exchange. I had seen on Pinterest the idea to add hardware to a crate to dress it up a little. I asked my wonderful husband to make me a crate and to then attach these handles. I'm thankful he's so talented, and I was very happy with how it turned out! I filled it with a tartan scarf, and some homemade goodies (including one of our loofah scrubbers!) I've requested that he make me yet another crate (for myself). I think it would look lovely with some fresh greens and berries arranged inside of it - rustic Christmas!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Loofah Sponges

 In the Spring, I had read in a gardening magazine about home grown loofahs, and I was amazed as I had never realized a loofah was actually a plant. Of course, with this new realization, we had to give it a try! 

We had one loofah plant that did really well, and produced several of the squash. Unfortunately, we planted it a little late, and the typical process to harvest our loofahs could not be followed. It did not mature enough by the time cold weather started creeping in, so it could not dry on the vine. I picked the loofahs in the beginning of November, and expected them to just rot. I still thought I'd try and salvage them, as I had been so excited about having these.
 I first cut off the ends of the loofah squash, and then peeled the green skin off. I  filled the sink with hot and soapy water, and worked on getting the seeds and other "gunky" matter out. Once the loofahs were clean, I placed them on a dish towel to dry for several days. I am so excited that they actually turned out perfect! My husband added some handles to them, and they are going to make some great Christmas gifts this year! Pair them with some homemade soap, or a body scrub. We plan to grow a lot more next year!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Quick and Easy Italian Herb Bread

It's been a little while since I've had the chance to sit down and write a blog entry. Things have been busy around here, and the time just seems to slip away! Today I'm writing about a delicious herb bread I recently started making. One evening, I was making a Tuscan bean soup, and I was craving some bread to go with it. I wanted something quick and easy that would be ready in time to serve with our soup. I decided to just try and whip something up, hoping it would turn out okay. Thankfully, it did, and I've made it several times since!

This is a simple recipe, that really only takes about 45 minutes to put together. How's that for some quick homemade bread!?

I started by using about 2 to 2 1/2 cups of flour in a bowl. I added a packet of yeast, about 2 TBPS of olive oil, 1 tsp of salt, and 1 TBSP of sugar. I slowly added warm water (it was probably about 1 cup) and mixed it with my hands until it turned into a consistency that was not sticky , and easy to work with (add in more flour or water as needed). I then kneaded it for about 10 minutes.  Next I rolled it into a long loaf on a baking sheet, brushed olive oil over the top, and heavily sprinkled garlic powder, dried basil, and dried oregano over the top. I turned the oven onto warm, and let the bread rise in the oven for about 15 minutes. Then I turned the oven to 400 degrees and baked it for about 15 more minutes.

 It tasted wonderful, and went great with the soup. It is a little dense, but I prefer it this way for this particular kind of bread. If you want it lighter, the longer you let it rise, the less dense it will be. With this recipe, you can also mix the herbs into the dough, and maybe even some Italian cheeses for some extra flavor. Be creative with it!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Herringbone Throw

While I don't so much like cold weather, I do love that autumn brings a bit of coziness into my home. Who doesn't love snuggling up with a blanket on a crisp fall evening? I have somewhat of an obsession with throws - especially those in neutral colors. I also happen to adore all things herringbone. I came across a herringbone throw on a site called Linen and Boxwoods (side note: when I first heard the name of the shop, I knew I would be in love with all of their products.) Anyway! I saw this throw and wanted it badly, but the price (+ shipping costs) was more than I wanted to pay. I seem to run into this problem a lot! When this happens, I often go to to see if I can find a similar item for a lot less. pulled through for me - not only did they have a similar one, they had the EXACT same one available (Herringbone Throw). I chose the gray color because it went best with our living room colors, but I'm still lusting a little after the camel color. It arrived several days ago, and I'm so happy with it. It's beautiful and cozy. Great gift idea too!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Olive Topiary Tree

I'm pretty excited about this little gem I found! I recently saw, in a Ballard Designs catalog, an olive topiary. I loved it, but I just have a slight issue purchasing fake plants. I'd much rather have the live plant in my home. I think it adds character, and there is a sense of satisfaction in keeping it alive and looking nice. I was browsing etsy, and found an awesome little etsy shop that had an olive tree topiary for sale! (TuscanyTopiary)

It was fairly cheap - $30 plus shipping, and it is absolutely perfect. The terracotta pot it arrived in gives it such a Mediterranean feel. If you have a green thumb, and love topiaries, I highly recommend this little shop.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Simple Fruit Smoothie

It seems like recently at our house we have been eating large meals and lots of tasty sweets. With the start of fall it is easy to go to warm, hearty, comfort foods. During this season, we often neglect our fruits as they're no longer fresh and at our fingertips. There are some days when I think back to my day, and I'm disgusted at the few servings of fruits and veggies I've incorporated into my meals. On days like these, I usually opt for a simple fruit smoothie for dinner in place of an actual meal. It is so easy to make, very flavorful, and has plenty of fruit. 

It really is so simple. You just blend together a banana, a container of yogurt, and frozen fruit (as much or as little as you would like!) I also add water little by little as I blend it to make it a bit thinner consistency. Absolutely delicous and refreshing alternative after filling the body with such heavy foods!