Saturday, August 31, 2013

A few Summer Garden Recipes

As promised earlier this week, here are the recipes of the dishes from our garden.  Very simple and easy.  None of them are overpowering and the taste of the veggies are the stars of the dish.  Enjoy!
 Cucumber Tomato Salad 


  •  2 cucumbers peeled and thinly sliced.
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes halved.
  • 1/2 onion thinly sliced. 
  • 1 tablespoon red whine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large serving bowl, toss together the cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, onion, parsley, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper, to taste. Let the salad stand for a minimum of 10 minutes before serving.

Garden Green Beans & Bacon



  • 1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons of Panko Breading


  1. Set a steamer basket insert into a large saucepan and fill with water to a level just below the steamer. Bring to a boil. Add green beans, and steam to your desired degree of tenderness, or about 5 minutes.
  2. Once the beans have cooked, transfer them to a serving bowl. Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, white wine vinegar, Panko Breading and Parmesan cheese. Let stand for 10 minutes. 
Marinated Cucumber Salad


  • 1 large cucumber
  • 1/2 c vinegar
  • 2 T of sugar (or sweetener)
  • 1 onion
  • 1/2 c water
  • 1/4 t salt
  • Dash of pepper


Slice thinly the cucumber. Thin slice onion and separate rings. Combine ingredients and pour over cucumber and onions. Marinate in refrigerator for 1 hour or overnight.  

Our favorite snack this summer has been Tomato and Mozzarella.  Here are a couple of versions of the same recipe basically.

Tomato and Mozzarella
(a.k.a Caprese)


  • Fresh Tomato
  • Fresh Mozzarella
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Cup of Balsamic Vinegar


  1.  Add the Balsamic Vinegar to a sauce pan and reduce over medium heat. You will need to keep your eye on this and stir often.  It should reduce within 10 minutes but you do need to keep your eye on it or it can burn.  Your reduction should be thick.
  2. While the Balsamic Vinegar is be reduced and in the beginning stages, wash tomato, then core and slice.  I try to slice my tomatoes as thick as the mozzarella.
  3. Cut your fresh mozzarella.  *Note: for convenience, I buy the tube kind which is pre-sliced.  It makes it faster for our evening snack time also less work. 
  4. Once reduction is done allow it to cool some.  It will thicken while it is cooling. 
  5.  As the reduction is cooling layer your tomato and mozzarella cheese.  
  6. Drizzle the olive oil over the layers.
  7. Next drizzle your reduction.
*Note:  You can add fresh basil to the top of each mozzarella cheese.  I found I did not care of it and my darling husband was okay without it.  You can also make up the reduction in advance and larger quantity and refrigerate.   

Cherry Tomatoes and Mozzarella
(a.k.a Caprese) 
Recipe is the same as above, only using cherry tomatoes.  Do not slice the cherry tomato, you will make cuts nearly slicing allowing you to tuck the fresh mozzarella cheese into the slice you created in your cherry tomato.  Again, you could add some fresh basil as well in between the slices as well.  Once your cherry tomato has been stuffed and is beautifully fanned, place on your plate and drizzle the extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar reduction. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Local Flavor Swap Show and Tell

Chaotic Goddess Swaps hosted The Local Flavor Swap and I was paired with Lisa from   Carefree Jewelry by Lisa

I just do not know where to start!  All of my gifts were great and very personal.

Sorry, Lisa my light in the kitchen was horrible and did not do the earrings justice.
Lisa has an Etsy shop where she creates jewelry. She gave me earrings she made.  I LOVE THEM!  They are cooper and turquoise. The color of the copper and turquoise, the shape of the copper reminds me of Arizona.

Oh this gift is very neat!  We all know how I love to garden, well she gave me seeds from her own garden!  3 packets of cacti seeds she collected and dried.   The Saguaro and Ocotillo com from her yard/neighborhood. The Organ Pipe came from a desert area south of Tuscon.  She gave me instructions on how to start them.  I think I can start them. She wished me good luck after they outgrow the cup. Ha! I love it.  Well Lisa, they will then go to pots.  I do not think they will survive Iowa Winter outdoors and I want to keep these babies as long as I can, so they will be transplanted indoors then.   I am really excited about this gift.
Isn't it beautiful. 
The Desert Flower Note Cards...  The photos are taken and signed by a local artist.  How cool is that?! Oh, and here is another great thing about these cards, all proceeds from the of the sale will go to Foothill Animal Rescue, her local dog and cat shelter.  Absolutely makes my heart happy!

Juniper Spruce Herbal Bath and the Queens Honey Soap-  She told me you can find a lot of Juniper and Spruce in the Northern parts of Arizona around Prescott and Flagstaff.  She mentioned how they have a lot of bees.  Bees are good for pollinating but then I read her next part, they have to be careful because they have Africanized strain.  *eeck face*  We do have a lot of bees in our yard from the gardens but I am grateful so far none are Africanized strain.  Not yet!
I love this!
She gave me this beautiful Yellow Flower Soap Dish.   She found it at one of her favorite antique stops.  I love the painting!  I love it.
This is going to work with me.  
She gave me a Ceramic Whitewash Cross.  I loved it but when I read what she wrote I laughed so hard.  See before I post about what she wrote, one of the gifts I wanted to give her was a T-Shirt with a special saying on it, something that represents Iowa.  When I could not find it, I wanted to go to a ceramic shop and paint a mug for her with the saying "Hey is this Heaven?  No it's Iowa!" My husband told me that is so cliche' and thought it was a bad idea.  As I read my note and share my gifts with him I had this huge smirk on my face with a sassy tone and head cocked... here is what I read to him...
"Ceramic Whitewash Cross-Family line from the movie, Field of Dreams:  Hey, Is this heaven? " then she provided the link  -no...God is everywhere."

He just laughed and said, maybe it is not too cliche' then.  Oh, and Lisa The Field of Dreams is still located in Dyersville, Iowa.  My nephew even played a baseball tournament on the ball field.  How cool is that?  Unfortunately I never saw him play. Some day though I am going to go and take pictures of the famous ball field in the middle of a corn field.
Oh how I love hummingbirds!
Last and oh how I love it a special hand made card.  It even came with a note card about the legend of hummingbirds.  Yes, I love hummingbirds.  It will go on a little easel in my Curio Cabinet.

Lisa I love the flavors of Arizona.  I think I am one lucky Iowan.  Thanks so much and Thank you Angie and Beth for hosting a wonderful swap theme.

Hop on over to reveal by click the icon at the beginning of this post and see what the other bloggers received from Local Flavors.  I love this one...Just L O V E it!


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Happy List

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It is time for our HAPPY LIST party hosted by Ricki Jill over at ART @ HOME.  Go on over and check out all the happiness.

Here is my HAPPY List this week:

Oh where to start?

I am super excited about my Local Flavor Swap box.  My partner Lisa and I are going to sink up and post the same time tomorrow morning.  I cannot wait to share what I received.  I cannot wait to see how she felt about it.  I do know she was HAPPY about one of the things I sent.

I am SUPER DUPER HAPPY about my next thing on the list.  You all know (or maybe you do not because I have not posted about weight loss the past two weeks) how I have lost 38 pounds.  You all know (maybe you do not because you are fairly new reader/follower) that I have bad knees.  Now a few may know my husband I used to take ballroom dancing lessons but we had to give it up because my knees. Well my knees are always going to be a problem until I get both of my knees replaced BUT with 38 pounds gone, I actually have days in a row sometimes week without pain (minus stairs, stairs kill me going down.)  Well!  *squealing with delight*  September 11 my husband and I will start ballroom dance lessons again with the local community college. This makes me SUPER DUPER HAPPY!  Great fun! Great way to spend quality time!  Great way to work out and exercise!  Foxtrot, Slow Ballad, Ballroom, Smooth Swing, Rumba, Four Count Night Club Basic, and Four Count Swing.  Then January 20 we will start the next set: Waltz, Cha-Cah, Mambo, Salsa, Four Count Latin, and Four count freestyle. Finally the last one will be March 27 final set: Polka, Tango, and Fast Viennese Waltz.  All of these we knew at one time except the Fast Viennese Waltz.  It has been so many years we are going to start from the beginning again.  Seriously I AM SUPER DUPER HAPPY!!!!

I am also HAPPY the school district are dismissing school two hours early yesterday, today, tomorrow. I also foresee Friday and possibly Tuesday too. Why? Well it is FREAKING HOT here!  Seriously hot, dangerous hot.  We had floods in spring and then like nothing, drought once again in Iowa.  Hitting the agriculture hard as well as now students.  Our schools are not air conditioned and when the temperatures are hovering 100 degree and heat index hovering 115-120 degrees I cannot see how students or teacher can sit in a room and learn/teach, thus I am HAPPY the school district is thinking in their best interest.  They cannot cancel school or it will add on towards the end of the year.

Guess what we did on Saturday!  (This is going to be silly follow up from the my paragraph above) Canning!  We canned 15 pints of salsa this weekend.  Our first for the season.  I took September 11 off so we can do some major canning.  HAPPY!  It probably will be the last of our canning because although we have a lot of tomatoes, not nearly as much as we should have since the too wet spring and drought summer assisted with diseased plants yielding less tomatoes.

Speaking of our garden, the veggies are coming and here are some dishes I made the past few nights!  It always makes me HAPPY to make part or all of our meal coming from our garden.

Recipes will be posted later.

We had Taj for a few hours on Sunday.  Taj makes me HAPPY!  I made special pancakes for him. I did this for the boys too when they were little.  After I completed the special pancake for him, I picked him up so he can see it.  He had a huge smile on his face and he said... "Mickey Mouse Pancake!"  After I put him down he ran to Papa and told Papa about his pancake Nana cooked for him.  Unfortunately I did not get a picture of the pancake, Papa cut it up for him while I was working on breakfast.  However, here is a picture of him during breakfast.
He loves cars, choo choo trains, and planes,just like the boys did.  I have cookie cutters of cars, train, and planes for the boys.  We baked cookies that morning.  He loved it.  I loved it.

This kid makes me so HAPPY!

What do you have to be HAPPY about this week?


Monday, August 26, 2013

Life Can Be Unfair At Times

Let's face it.  That statement we all have been guilty of saying at least once in our lives, "Life can be unfair at times" or "That's not fair."   Well truth be told, that's right, life just isn't fair at all!  You have to make count for what you do have.  If you get everything you want, you may not truly recognize what the true value of good times are.  You would not appreciate it, just take it for granted.  I have blue moments, these blue moments are not pitty Jolene moments, they are when I have things coming at me left and right and I just cannot fix everything.  I know, I know we cannot fix everything but my type of personality is I do not want to see people I love or the human race to suffer.  I am a fixer, take care of people personality.  I have had pitty moments.  I am not going to lie, however those moments do not exist since Miranda was born.
This picture is a couple of years old.  Miranda is the youngest
Miranda is a definition of how life can be unfair at times.  She was born early and we all knew there was going to be a high chance of something wrong with her due to the fact my sister's pregnancy.  She had single artery umbilical chord (SAU) most babies do not make it if they do they have a very high chance of birth defects.  Miranda's first surgery was at the age of nine months.  She had several by the age of two when they finally diagnosed her, spina bifada, seizures, and cerebral palsy.  None are the typical symptoms, thus why it took so long.  She has had so many different genetic testing but nothing comes back as a perfect match.  Now they think she may have Mitochondrial Disease but cannot test her because the insurance company will not pay for the $14,000 test.  Yes, I did not add too many zeros, you read that correctly.  Miranda will be five in November.  My sister knows someone who had a child with this disease and if treated before the age five, she may be able to live to her twenties.  The treatment is basically a regimen of vitamins. What is Mitochondrial Disease?

It present in every cell of the body except red blood cells. Mitochondria are responsible for creating more than 90% of the energy needed by the body to sustain life and support growth. When they fail, less and less energy is generated within the cell. Cell injury and even cell death follow. If this process is repeated throughout the body, whole systems begin to fail, and the life of the person in whom this is happening is severely compromised. The disease primarily affects children, but adult onset is becoming more and more common.

Diseases of the mitochondria appear to cause the most damage to cells of the brain, heart, liver, skeletal muscles, kidney and the endocrine and respiratory systems.

Depending on which cells are affected, symptoms may include loss of motor control, muscle weakness and pain, gastro-intestinal disorders and swallowing difficulties, poor growth, cardiac disease, liver disease, diabetes, respiratory complications, seizures, visual/hearing problems, lactic acidosis, developmental delays and susceptibility to infection.

Everything in bold, she has wrong with her. Her little heart beats way too fast as well sometimes but they have never diagnosed her with cardiac disease.  She cannot eat as you and I.  She receives her nutrition from a G-Tube. Miranda's latest obstacle is pancreatitis.  She has been hospitalized now for close to two weeks.  A few days in the hospital Miranda's doctors decided to start treating her as if she has Mitochondrial Disease without being tested.  I think they feel this is the best treatment for her. They have taken her off one of her seizure medicines because it can lead to pancreatitis as a side effect.  My sister has been told adults who have pancreatitis can be in the hospital anywhere from two days to two months and are in a lot of pain.  Miranda only whimpers.
Photo: Sis Kaylee trying to get Miranda better!
Photo: Getting some love so she can get better!!!! They love her so much!!!! 

Now this is truly unfair.  When my children whine to me it is not fair, I look at them and think seriously?  No, this is an inconvenience for you, unfair no.  Now, I am not saying we do not have unfair moments and some days may blend into a bad week, but Miranda for me keeps things in perspective.  She is my father's inspiration not to complain about his cancer.  Miranda may have a tough life but she is blessed with a very caring mother.  My sister is so dedicated to all of her girls and does what ever is needed for Miranda.  Miranda is blessed with two caring sisters.  They adore her.  Miranda is blessed with a grandmother who will assist my sister and watch Miranda whenever is needed and a grandfather who adores her too.  Miranda is blessed with aunts and cousins who care for her as well.  She is very lucky in the area of being loved.  My sister will not give up when doctors are frustrated and want to give up.

Miranda is my inspiration.  She is the definition of "Life Can Be Unfair At Times" but she is also inspiration of not giving up fighting through the tough times.  She does not give up.  She keeps amazing doctors by doing things they did not expect from her.  She pulled herself up to stand around Easter.  She sat up before the age of two and they did not expect that.  The therapist was hoping and it was her goal.  I hope I did not offend any of my readers or followers, that is not my purpose.  My purpose is to inspire you not to give up, pick yourself up and keep on fighting when times are tough because, life can be unfair at times.


Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sunday's Song

I have always had a wide range of style in music I love.  The Cars was nearly the beginning of "New Wave" genre.  I loved them from the start and love so many of their songs.  It was so hard to pick just one of their songs to post.  This is not my favorite, I do not have one because they have so many good songs. I chose this one because the video is so 80's.  Enjoy!


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Happy List

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It is time for our HAPPY LIST party hosted by Ricki Jill over at ART @ HOME.  Go on over and check out all the happiness.

Here is my HAPPY List this week:

1.  I am HAPPY tomorrow school starts for the boys. It will get them out of their bedrooms and out from playing video games or on the computer.  I think summer is wasted when that is all you however, I am not looking forward to battling these two to finish their homework and turn assignments in not to fail.  I do not know what it is with these two it has been a battle once they began junior high.  The first two I never had to battle.
2.  I am HAPPY with the past two Friday nights.  During the summer we try to go downtown and walk around on Friday nights.  There is a pedestrian mall (ped mall) where a live band will play music on Friday nights during the summer.  We will walk several blocks and sit on the benches in the ped mall for a little while to listen to the music and people watch. We love to watch people.  I love to walk around and see the architect of the buildings.
3.  Speaking of architect of buildings, here are a few shots I took on Saturday.  We took a road trip to a little town about 20 miles away for me to take pictures.
Yes, just for pictures.  I am so HAPPY I have such a wonderful husband who enjoyed the time just as much as I did.
4.  On Sunday the boys were actually with their father.  He took them to Adventureland, his company provides the tickets and one meal ticket every summer.  Adventureland is an amusement park here in Iowa, not huge but it is enjoyable.  I am HAPPY my children had time with their father.  They see him maybe three times a year and he lives less than two hours away.  {not so happy- he had the audacity to ask the youngest if he wants to live with him.  Seriously?  You rarely see the kid and NO WAY, NO HOW, MR. FOUNDED CHILD ABUSER of our oldest son!!  I was surprised my youngest was even considering it and asked if he was old enough to make that choice.}
5. On Sunday while the boys were away, Todd an I took another little adventure to the Amana Colonies.  I posted about the Amana Colonies a few years ago when we went the first time.  You can read about it here.  We went into a few different shops this time.  Getting away sometimes makes me HAPPY.  We picked up some fudge for the boys there.  I would love to have this in a rock garden in our backyard.
 They all three at different times thanked me and gave me a kiss for it.  THIS MADE ME SUPER HAPPY!!!  I rarely get a kiss from Ethan anymore.    I also saw these yard ornaments made from silverware.  I thought they were so cute!  I think the birds are my favorite, next would be the butterflies, then the flowers.
6.  I am HAPPY my vacation series is done!  If you want to read them, here are the links:

Vacation 2013~Day One/Mt Rushmore
Vacation 2013~Day One/Crazy Horse
Vacation 2013~Day Two/The Drive to Cody, Wyoming
Vacation 2013~Day Three/The Drive To/And Yellowstone National Park
Vacation 2013~Day Three/Yellowstone National Park Old Faithful
Vacation 2013~Day Three/Grand Canyon of Yellowstone Park/ Back to Cody
Vacation 2013~Day Four/Cody, Wyoming
Vacation 2013~Day Five/The Drive to Custer, South Dakota
Vacation 2013~Day Five/Big Horn National Park
Vacation 2013~Day Six/Our Last Day Of Vacation

7.Also, these two pictures make me very HAPPY from vacation.  I love these two, the landscape.  I am thinking about getting these two made into canvas prints.
What are you happy about this week?


Monday, August 19, 2013

Monday Moan

It has been awhile since I have had a Monday Moan.  I really try not too but I am very disturbed, therefore today I will Mooooaaaan.

Moooooaaann for wild fires.  I am very very disturbed about the wild fires in Yellowstone National Park right now.  Over 4000 acres have been burning with their largest fire.  They have four other smaller fires all started by lightning.  The large one is nearly a mile away from the grand loop, which is what we drove while we were on vacation.

This makes me so upset, seriously!!!  My pictures below, they are from the wild fire in 1988.

It takes that long for the Ecosystem to regenerate.  This is destruction which is nearly 25 years ago.  It is also disturbing this area I think is one of the two areas where the bison are concentrated for mating season.  MOOOOOAAAANN for all the destruction.

Well, that is my main Moan today, I will give a little grumble how unfair my boys (younger three) show their father more respect (someone who does not deserve it) more than they do me (someone who is actual a parent), sometimes it just gets too intense and it is hard to take the good road when this happens, thus I am grumbling about it here not to explode with it to them.

I look forward to tomorrow when I get to post my HAPPY LIST since I took the time to moan and grumble today.


He Loves Me