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Archive for May, 2012

The other day I had the opportunity to go to a local garden that is a joint project with a restaurant chef and a winery. There were all sorts of wonderful things growing in the garden but the thing that most caught my attention was the way they had marked the rows and plants.

Wine bottles.

They recycled empty wine bottles as garden markers by writing on the sides with permanent ink (wine pens) and turning the bottles neck down into the garden rows.

So much for my dorky little seed packets tacked to a flimsy wooden stake.

These bottles are cool, guaranteed not to blow away in the wind or disintegrate from too much exposure to the sprinkler.

I’m so glad people much more clever than me come up with great ideas like this.

 

And let people like me steal their ideas!

She Who Needs to Get a Garden Planted

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Happy Memorial Day Weekend everyone!

If you, like many others around the country, are planning a barbecue this weekend, here are some barbecue tips that might come in handy!

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Here are some tips for Summer Essentials to make your warm weather gatherings simple and easy!

She Who Needs to Plan a Party

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Saturday, Captain Cavedweller and I did something I promised I’d never do again – held a yard sale.

I hate them. Loathe them. Have nightmares about them.

But due to the backyard project that I’ll blog about soon, we had to tear down one of our storage sheds and we have 18 years of useless treasures that needed to be sorted through and disposed of.

A yard sale seemed like the best way to make a dent in all that…. stuff disappearing.

So while CC made breakfast and then lunch, I sat outside and waited for shoppers, read a book, got really sunburned and reminded myself to never again hold another yard sale.

We live out in the country. We don’t get a  lot of drive-by traffic. And for whatever reason, I could not convince CC to go stand down at the corner of the highway and hold a big sign advertising our sale. What’s up with that, anyway.

So while I sat pouting and burning my fair skin to a crisp, CC pointed out a lovely butterfly who seemed to be quite taken with our blooming pinks. I ran in the house and grabbed my camera, attempting for about twenty minutes to get a shot of it not moving.

Finally, it held mostly still.

I can relate to that butterfly. Sometimes I flit around, don’t want bothered, just want to do my thing.

But I’m really glad it settled down long enough to snap a quick photo!

She Who Needs To Just Relax

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Here we are heading into the Memorial Day weekend. How did that happen? Wasn’t it just Easter?

For those of you planning a barbecue or party this weekend, here are my top ten condiment rules.

If you are looking for other picnic, barbecue and summer party or entertaining tips, download a free copy of my Savvy Summer Entertaining guide.

You’ll find a bunch of fun ideas, useful tips and recipes!

Whatever you decide to do this weekend, be safe and have fun!

She Who Needs to Plan a Barbecue

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I love shortbread. I love caramel. I’m even learning to appreciated salt on my caramel. So why not combine the three?

This is a quick and simple recipe that will earn you many rave reviews!

Ingredients for Shortbread. Cream butter and eggs, stir in flour and vanilla.

Press dough into an 8×8 baking pan and bake until set.

Ingredients for caramel filling. Mix in a heavy saucepan and follow directions below because I realized after I started making this that my sweetened condenses milk expired a year ago and being the paranoid-freakazoid I am, I just couldn’t make myself use it even though it looked fine. In a panic, I used caramel sauce from a jar, which I would not recommend if you want these to look pretty.

Chill the bars until caramel is set then sprinkle with sea salt. You can also drizzle with chocolate if you desire (which I always do).

Salted Caramel Shortbread Bars

For the Shortbread

1 cup flour

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 stick of butter

1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream together sugar and butter. Stir in flour and vanilla. Press into a greased (spray with Pam) 8×8 baking pan. Bake until shortbread is set but not brown (about 10-13 minutes). Remove from oven and let cool slightly before pouring on caramel layer.

For the caramel layer

1  sticks  butter, cut into pieces

1/2 cup sugar

2 tbsp. light corn syrup

1 (14 oz.) cans sweetened condensed milk

To make the caramel layer, combine the butter, sugar, corn syrup and condensed milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter is melted.  Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, stirring constantly.  Continue simmering and stirring until the mixture turns an amber color and thickens slightly.  Pour the mixture over the shortbread layer, smooth the top, and allow to cool completely and set.  Make sure you use a heavy-duty saucepan or you’ll have burnt bits in your caramel.

When cool (I stuck mine in the fridge to hurry things along) sprinkle with sea salt. Cut into squares and enjoy!

She Who Needs to Stock up on Sweetened Condensed Milk

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There is a room in our house that is undeniably Captain Cavedweller’s domain.

The room has been referred to more than once than CC’s man cave.

It has a definitely outdoorsy- guy feel to it. The only thing that could make it more hunter-esque would be the addition of something dead mounted on the wall, but a girlie-girl has to draw the line somewhere.

I don’t spend a lot of time in this room for many reasons. One of them is that I have not been fond of the furniture in it for quite some time. A sagging couch and a glider rocker that is about as comfortable as sitting on a crate strapped to a skateboard are my two seating options since CC maintains control of the big overstuffed recliner.

A few weeks ago he noticed one of the local furniture stores was going out of business and asked if I’d like to stop by on our way home from work and look for a new chair for me for his room. I was pretty excited at the idea of having something comfy to sit on.

We stopped and approximately 37 seconds after we entered the store, CC noticed the gleam in my eye and knew he had made a mistake. A huge mistake.

When we left an hour later, we were the proud owners of not one but two new chairs along with a new couch and a new chair for my living room.

It was while we were driving home, talking about picking up the furniture two days later that I suddenly realized the man cave, done in predominant shades of navy blue, was really going to look awful with the new fawn colored pieces we just purchased.

Not one to let that slow me down, by the time we arrived home ten minutes later, I had decided to paint the room, put up new blinds and curtains and immediately began barking out orders and making strategic plans.

The next morning found me bright and early at the paint counter grabbing a handful of paint swatches, trying to match them to the one throw pillow I wanted to keep in the room.

After work, I ran back to the store, selected the paint, filled my cart with new curtains and blinds for the windows and headed for home.

I should have taken a photo before he moved out all the furniture, but you can get an idea of the before color scheme and look from this:

No comment on the dirty carpet, either.

This is the pillow I was trying to match colors to. And yes, I did in fact forget, until this very moment that I needed a photo of it, so thank you Cabela’s for having it on your website.

Here are the colors I selected – the green is Olive Burst and the tan is Hot Cafe Au Lait which, in my head, was close enough to hot chocolate to make it sound like a great color. Thanks to Heather at work for helping me narrow down my 42 selections to these two.

I choose to paint the wall near the bank of windows the dark green with the light tan on the other three walls. It was a good choice since the green wall is what everyone sees when they walk into the room. The tan blinds are up and a big change from the dark blue.

And here is the finished man cave – with the ultra-comfy new furniture that I absolutely love.

It may be a good long while before CC lets me near another furniture store, especially one going out of business with great clearance prices.

She Who Likes the Man Cave

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