January 27, 2011

a call for help

I'm working on a photography information page for ye olde blog.

I haven't made much progress.

So far, I've penned a lengthy disclaimer telling you in great detail why you are probably going to want to go elsewhere to get your photography related information.

However, there's a slight chance that a good photography information page should do a little more than simply discredit the person who's writing the page in the first place.

But, it appears I'm a bit stuck.

That's where you come in.

If, by chance, you happen to have a photography related question that you would like me to answer, please ask away in the comments.

I'll do my best to share what I've learned along the way.

And when I don't know the answer, I'll simply make one up.

Thanks for helping a sister out!

January 26, 2011

lentil soup

Let me start by saying, I should not like this recipe.

It has lentils and generally speaking, I am not a lentil person.

It has sausage, and I believe I've mentioned several times before that sausage makes me nervous.

Aesthetically speaking, this is not a particularly pretty soup. It's gray. I've tried to disguise that fact with a chiffonade of spinach and some finely grated parmesan cheese, but the bottom line is gray is not a happy food color. Gray food tends to bring back bad memories of your junior high cafeteria.

All that to say, against all odds, I love, love, love this soup. It's in my top three favorite soups of all time, and that's saying something.

Lentil Soup

1 pound bulk Italian sausage
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced carrot
1/4 cup diced celery
1 1/2 cups lentils, rinsed
4 cups chicken stock
1 Tbsp dijon mustard
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp salt - or less, depending on the saltiness of your chicken stock
1 cup cream
1 cup finely sliced spinach
grated parmesan cheese

In a large stockpot, brown and drain sausage and set aside. In the same pan, saute carrot, onion and celery in butter and olive oil till they start to soften. Add lentils and chicken stock. Simmer on low for about 30 minutes, until lentils and vegetables are tender. I usually add about a cup of water at this point as a lot of the liquid has been absorbed or evaporated. Add mustard, vinegar (both are vital to this recipe) and salt. Stir in cream and heat through.

Garnish with spinach and parmesan cheese, and you've got yourself a perfect meal for a cold winter's night.

Ina's Parmesan Crackers are the perfect accompaniment to this soup.

My sister is my Parmesan Cracker supplier, sending me a box every Christmas, so I've never actually made these myself. Sister adds an additional two tablespoons of butter to the recipe, as the dough tends to be pretty dry. She also highly recommends baking them on a Silpat so they don't stick to the baking pan. Oh, and she cuts the pepper back to 1/4 teaspoon.

They are a savory slice of shortbread heaven.

Make some today!

But only if you want to.

I don't want to be bossy.

January 24, 2011

a little of this, a little of that

Remember when I told you I was participating in a 52 week photo challenge?

I think I lied.

It would seem that I am a bad challenge participant. Very bad.

I am also very bad at balancing my checkbook, but that's a post for another day.

I am, however, a very good flower buyer. I'm pretty sure these gorgeous ranuculus will back me up on that. Please join me in pretending that this week's photography theme is pretty pink flowers.

While we're on the subject of my bad self, last week I came to the undeniable conclusion that I have officially been living in the country for too long.

On Friday, I spent a day in the city. Part of that day took me downtown.

You know. Downtown.

Where the one-way streets are.

We don't have one-way streets in the country. We have one lane streets, but not one way streets.

Apparently there's a distinct difference.

Or so I've been told.

While I was downtown, there also may or may not have been an incident involving the opening of a car door at the precise moment that a bicyclist just happened to be speeding by my newly (and expertly, if I say so myself) parallel parked car.

You might be tempted to think that particular scenario would be a bad thing, but apparently it wasn't that big of a deal because he just kept waving at me as he was riding away. Although in hindsight, I suppose he could have been doing something besides waving. It was kind of hard to tell though, because he was wearing mittens. And then there's the fact that he was also yelling something that I couldn't understand. Or maybe I simply chose not to understand.

Hmmm. I'm probably going to have to rethink the whole waving thing. And quite possibly the whole driving downtown thing.

Dear Bike Cyclist,
I'm sorry.
Country drivers are not used to having to check for bikes before they open their doors.
There are no bike lanes in the country.
I promise that I have learned my bike awareness lesson.

Did I mention that he was wearing mittens?

That pretty much sums up the exciting events of the last week, unless you want to talk about the fact that my hubby and I are currently in the middle of knock down, drag out ping pong tournament. Until my recent slump, we've been pretty evenly matched.

Yes. I said ping pong. Meadowbrook Farm is a happening place, people.

Have a wonderful Monday!

January 13, 2011

three guesses

I have news.

Big news.

Good news.

Actually, it's about the best possible news, and I'm going to let you guess what it is.

(It won't be hard, I promise.)

Here's a hint....

(photo by Suzi Q via Style Me Pretty)

Another hint....

And, one more....if you need it.

(All gorgeous inspiration boards from Magnolia Rouge)

Now, pop over here, and the story will be complete.

But hurry back, because my friends....we need to talk.

It's true. There's a wedding on the horizon.

My first born is going to be my first married!

Can I get a squeal of delight from my invisible friends?

My boy has found his girl.

She's perfect for him.

She's perfect for our family.

I can't imagine anything more fulfilling as a mom. To watch my son get ready to start his very own family with the girl of his dreams....what could possibly be better.

But wait! There's more.

The wedding is going to take place this summer, right here at the farm. A small family wedding by the pond.

(Feel free to squeal once again.)

I absolutely can't wait to see what they come up with for their special day. I can't wait to do my part to make their dream wedding become a reality. I'm ready to be their worker bee.

One thing I know for sure...the Bride has fabulous taste. I've seen The Dress and it's gorgeous. We've chatted about colors and flowers, cakes and decorations. This girl knows what she likes and it's going to be beautiful.

Oh, and all these dreamy photos? They are just the things that caught my eye whilst perusing a few of the many gorgeous wedding blogs out there. Wedding trends have certainly changed since I got married many, many years ago, and all for the better as far as I'm concerned.

My friend Jen brought this next group of photos to my attention a long time ago. My reaction when I saw them? I told her I was headed to the courthouse to divorce my husband just so we could get married again.

(Photos from the Style Me Pretty blog.)

But, the things that catch my eye? They're not important.

This day is theirs.

And boy, is it going to be fun!

January 10, 2011

around the house

As a way to keep my photo mojo going this winter, I'm playing along with MCP Action's Project 52. It's a low pressure, join in when you can, photography challenge. My favorite kind! Last year, I used my blog and a self-imposed Photo Friday commitment to keep me clicking through the winter and it really worked. This year, I'll let the project tell me what my subject is. I think it will be fun to have someone else set the guidelines this time around...less thinking for my pea brain!

This week's subject is "Around the House". So, that's just what I did....took a little tour around and shot what caught my eye.

If you're wanting to improve your photography skills, I highly recommend this project or something similar to keep you motivated. Practice really is the key to taking better pictures.

This last week also found me repainting my front room yet again. For those of you keeping track, this makes paint job number four. I really think I've got it this time.

In fact, I'm sure of it.

I think.

I have big plans for this room. These photos give you a little sneak peak of what's in store, and I can't wait to show you when it's all done.

Our front room has no tv, so I grabbed my laptop and my Gilmore Girls dvd collection and the time flew. Painting is much more fun if Lorelai, Rory and Kirk are keeping you company.

Especially Kirk.

This next photo is to motivate me to finally get a camera and photography faq page added to my blog. It's one of my goals for early 2011.

And here, the last stop on the around the house tour, we have a card sent to me by my bff. It sits on top of a cupboard in our family room.

I love this card. It makes me laugh. I put it away when my nice little old lady friends come to visit me because they truly wouldn't get it, and for the sake of maintaining a potty mouth free blog, I did a little photoshop magic on the donkey word, but this card cracks. me. up.

It further cracks me up because my bff, the card sender, is a pastor's wife.

I think we should pray for her.

Have a great Monday!

January 5, 2011

chicken noodle soup

Sometimes when I post, my pictures are my subject.

Sometimes, my pictures have absolutely nothing to do with what I'm writing about.

One way or another though, I always have pictures.

But not today. I've been waiting all week for some awesome pictures to drop into my lap, but so far, it's a no go.

It's that time of year. The time of year when I struggle to find subjects. Struggle to find inspiration.

It's all good though. I'm up for the challenge. I'm just going to have to step out of my usual box and put a new spin on the way I look at things.

Stay tuned for that.

In the meantime, today is as good a day as any to share this soup recipe.

While this is actually one of my very, very favorite soup recipes ever, I should probably offer a word of warning for those of you who are morally opposed to Velveeta. Velveeta is scary. I know. But for today, we're going to embrace the Velveeta and pretend it's really not plastic's first cousin. Or plastic's half brother. Or full brother for that matter.

I won't go so far as to say that I'm a Velveeta lover, but I am also not a food snob. Far from it. In fact, it really rubbed me the wrong way when Martha trash talked Cool Whip on her show, and I think it's safe to assume that Cool Whip and Velveeta probably have a chemical composition or two in common.

But everyone knows chemicals are the cornerstone of healthy living, so it's all good.

For those of you who decide to soldier on with this recipe, the pay off will be a pot of hearty, satisfying and delicious soup that takes next to no time to make.

Ready? Let's go.

Chicken Noodle Soup

3/4 cup chopped onion, saute till tender in...
2 T butter
6 cups chicken broth or stock
2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
16 oz frozen mixed vegetables - I use the mix with peas, carrots, green beans, corn and lima beans.
8 oz frozen broccoli - half of the 1 pound bag...sorry to state the obvious
8 oz dry egg noodles - ditto
2 cups milk
1 lb Velveeta, cut into chunks

Add all but the last three ingredients to a large pot. Once the soup reaches a simmer, add the noodles. Cook for five minutes, then add the milk and the pasteurized processed cheese product. Stir till the cheese is melted and you've got dinner! Easy.

So, let's hear it. Are you a Velveeta lover or a Velveeta hater. Or do you, like me, just see Velveeta as a necessary evil. It's time to come clean.