Spring is in the air!


Hi Y’all!  I just wanted to post a picture of the spring flower arrangement I made.  I bought the pussy willow from Whole Foods a while ago for about $5.99 and let it dry out.  If you keep it in water it will root and plant it from there.  I recently bought the  tulips from Trader Joe’s for about $4.99 – I love buying Trader Joe’s flowers, they’re so cheap!

 

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Basically  I just put the pussy willow branches in a big old vintage mason jar we found when cleaning out my grandmother’s house.  I was a little worried the tulips would be too small for the jar, but the pussy willow limbs create a structure to keep the tulips from falling down too far in the water.  I just kind of put the tulips in there – in whatever position I thought looked good.  I like to go for a natural-looking feel.  And there you have it – a dramatic Spring arrangement for a little over $10.  It took me less than 10 minutes to create!

 

And a brief update on my mason jar herb garden…

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My cilantro is doing very well as seen in the picture above… the thyme and basil not so much.  I think I overwatered it which is what I always do wrong!! I should know better.  Oh well, no one is perfect.  Matt and I are going to Ireland next week, so I think I will use the seeds I saved to start over when we get back.  Have a great Tuesday!!

 

 

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Running for Boston


Well today I was going to write about how well my arugula is growing, but it just doesn’t feel right with the events at the Boston Marathon on Monday.  Instead, I thought I’d take the time to reflect on what happened and why it hits so close to home for Ryanne and I.

What does running have to do with a blog such as ours that posts about family recipes, sewing projects, and gardening?  Well running for Ryanne and I has become somewhat of a family tradition passed down by our dad.  I wouldn’t really say we have a long line of running enthusiasts in our family, but I’d like to think my dad has started something special… no not a recipe for banana bread, but a love for setting goals and working hard to exceed them, having a healthy lifestyle, and having determination to train for hours upon hours for a race.  As he said during our last race, he hopes Ryanne and I continue to keep up the family tradition of running after he can’t run anymore. I think I replied with “Well maybe if I keep running until I’m 80 I can qualify for Boston because the qualifying time will be easier.”

I was so excited when my dad qualified to run in the Boston Marathon after running his first marathon – I had to make the trip up to Boston to watch him.  I knew he was excited too, talking about the infamous landmarks along those 26.2 miles such as the Newton Hills and the Wellsley girls that he had read about in the book 26 Miles to Boston.  My dad put in countless hours training and had the most amazing training ethic I’d ever seen.  I think my mom was starting to believe she was a “runner’s widow” because my dad was always out running.

When it came time for heading up to Boston, I wasn’t really sure what to expect.  I knew the Boston Marathon was the Superbowl of Marathons, but had no idea the type of electricity and sense of pride it brought to the area.  That weekend my husband Matt and I spent time with his father’s side of the family and stayed with his grandmother at her bed and breakfast on Walden Pond.  We’ve always loved going up to Boston to visit, so it was nice to show my parents around as well.

On the day of the race my mom, Matt, and I were so excited and couldn’t wait to get a spot along the race route.  It was set to be the hottest Boston Marathon ever.  My dad kept texting us and updating us from where all of the runners gathered at the start in Hopkinton.  While we were all excited for that day, we also had heavy hearts as it was the 5th anniversary of the Virginia Tech massacre, which occured at our alma mater.  My dad wore a shirt to let everyone know he wasn’t just running for himself, but for the 32 people who died.

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Once we got to the race route, about at mile 7, it was so hot I couldn’t imagine running in that heat.  But quickly those thoughts faded as we watched the elite runners go by, runners who were blind, runners who were wearing prosthetics, Team Hoyt, and active duty service members who were hiking the route with their rucksack in memory of fallen soldiers.  The streets were jam-packed with thousands of people for as far as the eye could see.  We watched and waited eagerly to see my dad – I had never been to a race like this before in my life!  I remember cheering and clapping furiously because of the energy of others at the race.  Finally we saw my dad and took the picture below.  I truly believe his smile conveys that running Boston is one of the crowning moments of his life.

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So as I share this experience it’s so hard to believe that something so inhumane and tragic could occur at one of the most positive, energetic, and emotional sporting events in the world.  Lots of runners being interviewed have shared that they feel like it was a personal threat to them, even if they weren’t there.  I feel very much the same way, especially as my dad would have finished up around the time that the bombs went off if he had run it this year.  While the media continues to show the explosions near the finish line, there is one picture I have to keep replaying in my head to remind myself that the world is not a bad place.  This picture is of a runner who had cramped up about 3/4 of a mile from the finish line, right where we were standing.  He could barely walk and had collapsed to his knees.  Seeing this, two other runners ran back and lifted him up carrying him the rest of the way to the finish line.  I will never forget that selfless act of kindness, it truly reminds me that not all in the world is evil. So this week as I go on my runs through Raleigh, I think of and pray for the runners, their families, spectators, Bostonians and know that good will prevail.

Ginnie’s Pound Cake


I’ve had a couple days off from work and it has been absolutely WONDERFUL being able to get some things done around the house.  I was hoping to get some herbs planted but boy has it been hot!  It has been in the 90’s here the past two days!  I may save the gardening for another weekend when it is a little bit cooler.

Instead of gardening I attempted to make one of my absolute favorite cakes.  Ginnie’s Pound Cake.  Ginnie was our great-grandmother on my mother’s side.  She lived in a small town in southern Virginia.  She would often re-pay people who did odd jobs for her in food because her baking was THAT good.  My mom and aunt Susan have made it a couple times.  While it was good, it just wasn’t the same as when Ginnie would make it growing up.  But as they say…practice makes perfect.  So hopefully one day I will be able to perfect her recipe!

What you’ll need for Ginnie’s Pound Cake:

1 cup Butter (2 sticks)

1/2 c Crisco (enough to grease your pan, or use a nonstick baking spray)

3 cups sugar

6 eggs

2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 cup cake flour (measure after sifting)

1 tsp baking powder

1 cup milk

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp lemon extract

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The first thing you want to do is measure out your “wet” and “dry” ingredients.  Measure out 1 cup of milk.  Place in bowl.  Add 1 tsp of vanilla and lemon extract to milk and mix well.  Set this mixture aside.  Next you want to sift 2 cups of all purpose flour.  Re-measure after sifting (you will find you have some left over) and place in another bowl.  Do the same thing with 1 cup of cake flour.  Add 1 tsp of baking powder to flour mixture.  Set this aside.

Now begin mixing your butter until it is smooth.  It is important to make sure your butter is a room temperature so it will cream better.  Slowly add the sugar 1 cup at a time.  Make sure the previous cup is mixed well before adding the next cup.

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Once your mixture is creamed well with no lumps you want to add the 6 eggs.  Add only 1 egg at a time, making sure the egg is thoroughly mixed before adding the next egg.

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Now gradually add your flour and milk mixture.  You want to alternate adding each.  Begin AND end with the flour mixture.  Once you’ve added the flour and milk mixtures you should end up with a nice and creamy batter.

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Pour your batter into your greased tube pan.

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Bake for 1 hour on 350 degrees. DO NOT open the oven during the hour of baking.

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I think Ginnie would be proud of my first attempt at her pound cake.  LJ and I had some at breakfast this morning with a cup of coffee.  It was delicious!  Don’t worry…..I’m going to the gym later 😉

Have a great weekend everyone!

Warmer Weather Means Cookouts with Friends


Good Morning Everyone!

I hope you are having a lovely Sunday morning.  It has been gorgeous here this weekend with the weather finally reaching the 60’s and hopefully 70’s today!  LJ and my weekend has been packed with cookouts and friends.  Yesterday we went to a housewarming cookout at our old neighbor’s house in Leesburg, Va.  Their new home is absolutely gorgeous!

Of course I couldn’t show up to the cookout empty handed, so I started digging through my recipe box and decided on hash brown casserole.  This is a popular side dish that can be found at all family gatherings usually made by our aunt Susan.  She definitely makes it the best!

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What you’ll need:

1 pkt Hash browns (from the frozen section, I think mine was 2 pounds?)

1 pint sour cream (or plain nonfat greek yogurt if you want to cut some calories–taste just as good!)

1 cup cheddar cheese

salt and pepper to taste

1 medium onion diced

1 can cream of celery soup

1/2 cup butter

1 cup corn flakes (I think I ended up adding a tad more.  You just need enough to cover the casserole)

Print Recipe

First preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Dice the onion and place in a large bowl.  Add all other ingredients except the cornflakes and butter.

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This is why you need a LARGE bowl.  It’s a lot of stuff to mix together.  Mix until the hash browns are coated evenly.

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Transfer the mixture to a greased Pyrex glass dish.  Place in the oven and bake for 40 minutes.

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Just before the 40 minutes are up, melt your butter and mix it with the corn flakes.  Remove the casserole from the oven and spread corn flake mixture on top.  Bake for another 20 minutes.

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Remove from the oven and let it cool before serving.  It was definitely a huge hit at the cookout!  We are off to our second cook out of the weekend. What fun things to do you have going on this weekend??

Mindie, Ryanne, and Nicole

Mindy, Ryanne, and Nicole

Garden in a Jar


Hi y’all!  I hope everyone had a great Easter weekend and had time to make our Homemade Peanut Butter Egg and Deviled Egg recipes.  We would love to hear any feedback if you did and don’t forget to follow our blog!  Matt and I had a pretty relaxed Easter – just went to church, had some Mimosas, played with Airlie dog, and did some more planning for our upcoming trip to Ireland in May!  We don’t dress up often so we figured we’d take a picture:

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One thing I’ve been wanting to do is to start a herb garden.  Usually I buy herb plants from the NC Farmer’s Market here in Raleigh, but this year I thought I’d try to grow my own from the start… we’ll see how it goes!  Hopefully the three generations of green-thumbers in our family can send their powers my way.  Matt and I took a little trip to a local Garden Supply store in Raleigh called Logan’s Trading Company.  We love going there and perusing the aisles of cool plants, envisioning what our yard is going to look like once we finally find the perfect home to buy (that’s been an adventure in itself!).  They had avocado trees, fig trees, and pomegranate trees… I totally intend on buying one of each once we have a yard of our own!

Before we got started with the herb garden Matt re-potted some of our houseplants.  The one you see below is a Madagascar Palm – it’s very hard to kill because it requires very little water.  Beware of the sharp thorns! Basically to re-pot it, Matt just removed it from the old pot, broke up the root ball a bit, then used fresh sandy soil and put it in the new pot.  We also got worm castings and sprinkled them on top as a natural fertilizer (I’ll talk about that later!).

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Now on to the mason jar herb garden…

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I used 3 mason jars that I already had.

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I bought 3 packets of seeds.  I LOVE fresh cilantro in salsa (need a great salsa recipe?).  I also love to top pasta dishes with thyme and goat cheese, and finally fresh basil makes me happy and is easy to grow.  Pick whatever herbs you think you’ll use the most!

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Since we didn’t drill holes in the bottom of the jars for drainage, I put wine corks in one (about 1/3 from the bottom of the jar) and river rocks in the other two jars.  This will create a place for water to go so the soil doesn’t get too wet and rot the roots.

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Then I filled the rest of the jar with soil, up to just about 1″ from the top of the rim. See how the rocks/ corks allow room for air in the bottom?

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After reading the seed packets for directions, they said to plant the seeds 1/2″ below the soil.  I just sprinkled about 1/2 of the seeds on top of the soil.  I figured some of the seeds wouldn’t actually sprout and I wanted to improve my chances of growing some herbs, which is why I sprinkled more than I technically should have.  I’m storing the rest of the seeds in case these don’t grow well!

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Then I covered the seeds with a thin layer of soil and then some worm castings to help them grow! We bought a bag of worm castings from Logan’s for about $20.  It’s a great organic fertilizer to use.  Hopefully later this Spring I’ll make some time to start my own little vermiculture setup (a.k.a. worm farming).  Sound gross?? Yes!  But my friend has a little set up and it’s not that bad.  I’d rather do that than continue to pay $20 for a bag of the worm castings!

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Finally, I simply wrote the name on the mason jar lid and put it under the jar to make sure I don’t get my little herb plants mixed up.

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My herbs require full sun and it just so happens that mason jars fit perfectly in a window sill.  I’ll keep y’all updated to see how my herbs are growing… they should take 10-15 days to sprout, so check back in!  Matt and I also planted some arugula in outdoor planters.  Check back for that post soon as well.  If you need other mason jar ideas, they’re great for drinkin’ beer.  Airlie agrees too!

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