Monday, June 28, 2010

Out of the Box!

Family History.
That's the title I gave to my soap box. What started as this:


Became this:


When my sister and i cleaned out the garage at my parent's house, we ran across a box of family photos. Inside was this photo of my grandparent's wedding day. And so it began.....
I covered the box in two layers of tissue paper to add a little more texture. Then I wrapped the entire thing in a very thin, old pillow case with the perfect amount of staining and discoloration. A little tea stained trim, some paper flowers and two small brass rings completed the top of the box.


I stamped the front and back in a floral pattern in gold ink.


A small mother of pearl button forms the closure.


I backed the top cover with heavy paper to support the wedding photo and created a pocket with a stamped tag. Trimmed out with lace and more mother of pearl buttons, it's the perfect spot to place a little tag with the names of the bride and groom and the date of their marriage.



15 September, 1928.


On the opposite side, a "Family" page begins a little accordion-folded book that chronicles bits of my grandparent's lives.


From babies to adults.....


to the arrival of three sons...


My dad, Donald, is on the left. My Uncle Dick is on the right and my Uncle Harry in the middle.


A lifetime folded out...


and tidily kept in a safe place.
I love this little book in a soap box. I keep it on a small table in my living room and find myself opening it often. Every time I do, memories fill my mind and my heart of people that I love.



Thank you, Lisa, for challenging my creativity. It's been a bit lax lately and this was just the boost it needed!

If you click on Lisa's name above, you will see her beautiful bee-inspired soap box and find the links of other's who have participated in this challenge. There are some amazing out-of-the-box creations to be found!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

One More Day! One More Day!

 That's all there is until the Tarnished and Tattered "Outside the Box!" soap box challenge projects are unveiled!



Here's a little sneaky-peeky at mine. Come back tomorrow to see the what I did to transform a humble soap box into something really cool. Well, I think it is, anyway.:)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Had Enough Recipes?

Last night was our Recipe Swap group meeting. Only four of us were able to come, but that did not stop us from having good conversation, lots of laughs and, of course, eating some really good food!
The theme this month was Summer Salads. We had everything from rice and pea salad with ham and Swiss cheese, pasta salad with olives and peppers dressed in Italian dressing, broccoli salad with crunchy bacon, cheese and tomatoes and I made my favorite recipe- Italian Sausage Pasta Salad. Mmmm, mmmm. It's a James Beard recipe from an old cookbook I found a long time ago. I love James Beard because he created this combination of ingredients that makes my mouth very happy.
When I'm in a hurry, I am a messy cook. If I have the time, I will clean as I go. I usually don't have time. Yesterday morning found me up at at'em early making this salad as I had to work. It was a mad rush and the result was, well, this:


Carnage.

But what happened afterwards was beautiful and delicious:



I could eat this for every single meal and not get tired of it. Ever. It is good once it is chilled and even better the next day. But, enough of that, I bet you want the recipe. And you shall have it! Be prepared for pasta salad heaven.

James Beard's (Fabulous) Italian Sausage Pasta Salad

6 Italian sausage links, mild or hot
1/2 pound rotini pasta
2 green peppers, cut into thinly sliced strips
1/2 large red onion, thinly sliced
2 cups canned kidney beans, drained and rinsed
3 hard-boiled eggs, quartered (optional)
3 T chopped Italian parsley (I've never put this in.)

2/3 cup olive oil
3 T red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of oregano ( fresh is lovely in this)
And, you can see in the photo, I added a few quartered small tomatoes from my garden. They don't hurt, not one bit.

Prick skins of sausages and place in a skillet and cover with water. Bring to a boil. reduce heat and poach for about a minute. Remove from water (drain pan) and slice sausages into 1/2 inch segments. Put back into drained skillet and fry until browned through.
Cook and drain pasta.
Combine sausage, pasta, onions, peppers, kidney beans (and egg and parsley if using) into a bowl.
Mix together olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper and oregano in a bowl and whisk together until combined and pour over salad. Toss together well and place in refrigerator for at least three hours. More is better.

That's it! It will be love at first bite. Trust me.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Zucchini-oh!

My friend, Joyce, gave me two huge zucchinis from her garden. By huge I mean they looked like baseball bats. She gave them to me with the caveat that they should not be eaten like the tasty squash they are but, instead, needed to be made into zucchini bread. I obeyed.




I am not such a fan of zucchini bread. The few times I've tasted it, it's been rather blah tasting. I searched  Cooks.com and found a recipe I thought might work. It looked easy enough- flour, eggs, oil, sugar and, of course, zucchini.
Since I am trying to get us to eat healthier here in the Smith house, I made some substitutions and additions. It was delicious!! Moist and dense with a perfect crumb. I made two loaves and twenty-four muffins. Oh. My. Goodness. I sent some up the hill to my parent's house. Dad ate two and Mom ate one, which was a miracle because she hasn't been eating much of anything lately. But that's another story.
If you'd like to make some delicious zucchini bread, here's the recipe. You can use the things you have in your pantry instead of the subs that I made. It will be just as tasty.

Zucchini Bread- makes 2 loaves
You can double it and make an additional 24 yummy muffins
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

3 eggs
2 cups organic sugar (sub for regular sugar)
3/4 cup organic canola oil (sub for 1 cup vegetable oil)
3 tsp. vanilla
3 1/4 cups spelt flour (sub for all-purpose flour)
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 T ground flax seed (my addition)
1 T chia seed soaked in 1/4 cup water (my addition)
2 cups zucchini, peeled and grated

In a large bowl, mix together eggs and sugar. Add oil and vanilla. Mix together dry ingredients in a separate bowl and add in small amounts to wet ingredients, being sure to incorporate them well. Add flax and chia seeds long with any leftover water. Add grated zucchini and mix together well.

Grease (or spray with baking spray) 2 large loaf pans and divide the batter into each. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour ( muffins- 20 minutes) or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool for ten minutes on a rack before removing from the loaf pans. Finish cooling, slice, spread with butter and enjoy!

This is definitely worth growing some bat-sized zucchini!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Sew Stinkin' Cute!

There is nothing sweeter than tiny things. I love them to bits. Even better than tiny things on their own is an assemblage of tiny things that create a very small quilting/sewing room!
My friend, Cilla, gathered all sorts of teeny-tiny wonderfulness to make this for my birthday present:


Seriously, how cute is this? I can't thank her enough!


It is full of everything that can be found in my dream sewing room- from the baskets and patterns, a spinning wheel to the inspiration board....


a vintage sewing machine just like my great-grandmother's and a sweet stash...


tiny thread and tape measures...



to cute-as-a-button wallpaper, it all combines together to make one very  perfect gift.
I have to go play now.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Where?

There's something I've noticed around my garden this year and it is a bit disturbing- the distinct lack of bees.



Usually my butterfly bush is full of bees and butterflies at this time of year. So much so, that I have to duck and dodge them or risk being stung. But not this year. It makes me sad.
It also makes me want to get a hive or two and place them in the corner of our back yard. Without bees, how will my garden grow?
Now, to convince the hubs. :)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Measuring Up.

Thank you for the birthday wishes. It was a lovely day.

One of the best parts of a birthday is to receive unexpected gifts. Really, there wasn't anything I could think of for my family to get me this year. Dang. But, they obviously did not need my help!
This is what Mr. Smith chose for my gift (with the help of Darling Daughter):


Measuring bowls from Anthropologie! Seriously? Yes!


How cute are they with their pouty spouts and cheerful colors?


I'm not sure I'll ever use them to measure anything. But, then again, maybe I will.
Speaking of Darling Daughter, Ainslie bought me the wreath that I have been coveting from Target.


It looks perfect in my living room.
The colors are spot on and it adds just the perfect touch over the little dresser.


I could look at this forever. And now I can because it's mine!
My friend, Julie, gave me something I never thought could be given- time.



It is a fifteen minute hour glass. It came with a little card instructing me to tip it over any time I need a break from whatever it is I'm doing and take 15 minutes just for me. So far, I've used it twice- once to read my scriptures and once to organize my bedside table. It is simple and beautiful and oh-so-appreciated.
Thank you, for making yesterday a very happy birthday.
I am so spoiled. :)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

On My Soapbox.

Nothing political or earth-shattering here! It's just that I'm finally pulling together the elements to put in my soapbox for the Tarnished and Tattered challenge.



The box is going to be covered in...well, you'll have to wait and see. The photo is of my grandparent's wedding. The paper flowers and shimmering rhinestones are a must. I do have an idea for the opening and I think it's going to be very cool. Now that I have the idea and the stuff, I should be able to get this together by next week.
Geesh, it's taken me long enough!

Oh, I almost forgot to put in a shameless plug for myself- it's my birthday today and I am off to work. I can't think of a better way to spend the day than to create displays at the quilt shop. It sure beats doing laundry, mopping floors and cleaning the bathrooms. ;)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Love This Monday.

It was a long, hot weekend here in Georgia and, as you know, my sister and I spent it in my parent's garage. That we accomplished as much as we did is a miracle, considering what we were up against. In other words- Dad. Dad who never wants to get rid of anything. Dad who has some very strange attachments to some very strange stuff. Dad who finally gave up and joined in on the fun of having a yard sale. Dad who thanked us when he saw how clean and tidy the garage is now. You're welcome, Dad.
One of the things my sister and I did for ourselves was to eat something healthy for breakfast every day. I made yogurt in my crock pot, bought some beautiful strawberries and blueberries at the farmer's market and made us smoothies for breakfast. Yum. I added a tablespoon of ground flax seed and a couple of teaspoons of these to the mix-


What are they? They're chia seeds! You know, those tiny things you soak in water and smear on a terra cotta pig or clown head. Those chia seeds. I get them at the farmer's market and they are pretty neat little things. Turns out that they are  nutritional powerhouses! Added to our smoothies, we stayed full for a very long time.


I add them to all sorts of foods. They have no flavor but they do add a little crunch, like poppy seeds. The muffins we bought at the farmer's market were delicious. Very dense and moist with a really nice flavor. I am going to try and replicate them.
All in all, chia seeds are pretty versatile and love-worthy. You just have to get used to them swelling up and getting caught between your teeth.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Sooooo,

We've cleaned out 1/3 of our parent's garage and now there is so much stuff that no longer has a home we are having a yard sale today and tomorrow.
When it's done, the garage will be beautiful. Well, 1/3 of it anyway. lol

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Embrace Life.

A friend of mine shared this with me this morning and now I am sharing it with you. :)



I hope you all have a beautiful day. My sister is here and we are going to dig into Mom and Dad's garage and start cleaning. If you don't hear from me in two days, call 911. You have no idea what's in that garage! lol

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Mr. Wiggles and the Terrible Day.

As I glanced out my dining room window this morning, I caught a flash of yellow out of the corner of my eye. The roses I planted for the wedding have blossomed and they are beautiful. Especially when intertwined with the pale blue hydrangea that grows next to them. Ah, sigh. But wait! Something is amiss!


My rose bush has been invaded by an unwelcome guest. Mr. Wiggles, I am sorry. You are just not welcomed here in my garden.


Mostly because you insist upon chomping on my roses! That my other rose bush has been systematically debudded by you and your evil minions, well, I'm afraid there is only one way to deal with the likes of you...


Let me introduce you to Hazel. Bwahahahahaha!


She certainly thought you were a tasty morsel.

Friday, June 4, 2010

A Little Fun.

Cathy over at Tadpoles and Teacups posted this youtube of a song by Fun on her blog last week and I was immediately smitten with this song. The lyrics are sweet, the music is lovely and, well, it's just a very nice way to spend a few minutes of your day.
Have a little listen. I hope you agree.



Thursday, June 3, 2010

I've Got Mail.

Do you love getting mail? I do! There's nothing better than going to the post box and finding something addressed to you! This is what came for me today-



A South Beach Diet S'Mores fiber bar and a sample of clinical strength Secret deodorant. Looking at them now it doesn't really rate a thrilling mail day but, I'll take what I can get.
There are a few blogs that I visit every day to see what is being offered over the World Wide Web. Did you know you can get samples from WalMart, Costco and Target? Neither did I. There is a whole world of freebeis, and coupons, out there waiting for you to get them.
In the past I have received L'Oreal body wash, a coupon for a trial size Bare Minerals makeup from Sephora (sweet!), a coupon for a free bottle of Excedrin, one for Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, a Lacoste perfume sample, Dove deodorant, Dove body wash, Aveda products, pretzel M&Ms, Kashi bars and more.
I eat all the food items because, well, frankly they're there and need to be eaten. The samples of deodorants, etc. go into my 72-hour kits waiting to be pressed into duty at a moments notice, if necessary.
I'm going to share the links for my favorite sites, because I like you. And, I want you to be able to open your post box and find something in there just for you that does not include a statement and a return envelope.
Now, go get some free stuff!

Sweet Pennies from Heaven

Frugal Girls

Coupon Geek

The Thrifty Mama

Save at Home Mommy

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A Simple Box of Soap

So, I've signed on to participate in the Tarnished and Tattered Outside the Box Art Challenge. I'm really excited about this one as you don't have to mail anything! You just take a photo and post it. Sweet.
The box in question is one that holds a lovely bar of soap from One Bath and Body. I got mine yesterday at Target. I looked for the Pure and Natural soap but did not find it there.


As you can see, I chose the olive oil bar. Delicious! Not for eating, for smelling only! But I didn't really buy it for the soap though. I bought it for the box! Really and truly. That it smells so heavenly and lathers up like a dream is a total bonus.



And even better? Underneath the bar of soap is a little coupn for a free lip balm. Yes, free! Which is good because this soap is a bit pricey. A free lip balm makes it much more tolerable.



"Now,", she says, finger tapping lightly at her chin, "what am I going to do with this?"



I really have no idea.