Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Quinoa Salad

My new favorite meal is Quinoa Salad with Shrimp. I was inspired by a picture I saw on Pinterest of a superfood salad. I had everything on hand yesterday and finally got around to making it. I LOVE IT!
 Quinoa salad Quinoa salad

Here is what I did. Cook one cup of Quinoa til tender. Drain and rinse a can of black beans and a can of corn. I added half of these to the cooked Quinoa and froze the rest for future use. I sauteed some shrimp in olive oil with salt and cumin. My dressing was made up on the spot and is yummy but I think I might tweak it a bit. I did one part lime juice to three parts extra virgin olive oil. I added salt, cumin and some chopped cilantro and shallot. I added chopped avocado and green onions to my salad and want to add cherry tomatoes next time too. I stored the salad sans dressing so that it would last longer.

Super healthy and yummy, you can't beat that!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Back to reality

I think I gained a few pounds on my week off. That was not in the plan, but between eating our way through Austin and Carrot Cake for Hope's birthday it happened. I felt supremely lazy sitting on my couch watching the US gymnastics team last night. I kept making myself jump up during commercials to solder or sew a seam. I don't think I accomplished as much as I had hoped this past week, but I did do a lot. I'm not ready to go back to work.

Thankful that I froze those 5 lbs of Parker County Peaches! They are just as sweet and tender frozen as they were fresh.  Yum!
 Frozen Parker county peaches

The colors in the backyard are hot just like the weather.
I don't know what variety of Zinnia this is, but it's the only one that has thrived for me this summer.  They are about 10-12 inches tall with tiny blooms.  I like anything miniature so I think these are really sweet.
Backyard garden Backyard garden Backyard garden Backyard garden Backyard garden Backyard garden

I'm liking the color scheme that I'm using on my patio chairs. Backyard garden

 Meow
 Backyard garden

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Serious Girls

Mom sent me these pictures after reading my post about not having pictures with me in them.
She said:
My two favorite serious girls.

Austin roadtrip

 Gagee, Aya and Karlie on the glass bottom boat at Aquerena Springs. Austin roadtrip

We are in the middle of prepping for my mother in law's birthday party. The cake is baked and crumb coated and just waiting to be decorated. I made two salsas, my creamy green and habanero. I'm letting Hope make her salsa since it comes out a bit different when I make her version.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Summer Vacation

With my entire family now in the Austin area, our summer vacation was bound to take us there. Sure, a part of me wished that Frank and I could go somewhere more exotic, just the two of us. It has been so long since we took a "real" vacation. And, well, it can be hard to wrangle six adults and get everyone on the same schedule. Despite all that we had a blast and I wouldn't have changed it for the world. As usual, Karlie was the center of all or our attentions, and as always she kept us all entertained.

Karlie agreed that my Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies were delicious. In her words they were, "Goody Goody".
 Austin roadtrip

Saturday evening we took Karlie down to the Congress Street bridge to see the bats at sunset. We parked on South Congress and walked around for a bit. Austin roadtrip Austin roadtrip

On Sunday we all headed down to San Marcos and swam on the river, right on the Texas State campus. It is such an awesome place to swim. We were so busy Sunday that I didn't even take any pictures. I also noticed that there are no pictures of me, or of Frank and I together.

Karlie and Gagee 
Austin roadtrip

On Monday we took Karlie to Aquerena Springs, which is where the San Marcos River bubbles out of the ground. When I was a kid it was an amusement park. I remember the glass bottom boats, mermaids swimming underwater and Ralph the swimming pig. These days it is owned and run by Texas State. The tour on the glass bottom boat was equally fun for the kids and adults. It is such a beautiful place!
 Austin roadtrip

Monday night was back to Austin, Pizza at Home Slice and Big Top Candy Shop on South Congress. Austin roadtrip Austin roadtrip

Tuesday morning Frank and I went off on our own and explored. We checked out Boite, a Cargo container turned coffee spot for breakfast. They had the most delicious croissants. Austin roadtrip

I drug Frank into Stitch Lab, since I had no money to spend on fabric I knew it wouldn't take long. I have heard about that place for several years and finally got to check it out. They did have some beautiful linen fabric in several colors that I would have loved to own. Austin roadtrip

 Oh wait, I did take a picture of myself because I love my new orange knit and lace thrifted top. Austin roadtrip

Back home now, I have been obsessively sewing and am almost finished with a new Self Drafted Knit Dress with Draped Pockets. I could not be more happy with the outcome! We are preparing for Frank's mom's sixtieth birthday party on Saturday and I have a carrot cake to bake. Karlie's birthday is less than a month away and I have some sewing plans for her, but for now I am taking the rest of my vacation to sew for myself.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Best Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever!

Cookie update, they are now baked and one has been taste tested. They are so freaking good! Make them as soon as possible, you won't regret it. Frank says they taste like "mall cookies, but better". They are really good. The fact that they are choc full of chocolate helps, I'm sure. For a not too huge batch of cookies, this recipe calls for one and a quarter pound of chocolate chips. I only had about one pound on hand. I used bittersweet chips along with a quarter pound of chocolate chunks that I bought at work and roughly chopped. I also added some chopped pecans.
Late night cookie baking
Make these cookies! Seriously yum!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Late night baking

I forced myself to do some late night cookie making tonight because my brother asked for cookies. One reason that I love to bake is that it makes other people happy, so when someone close to me asks for something homemade I can't say no. I tried this recipe  found via pinterest, for the first time. Supposedly the NY Times said it was the best chocolate chip cookie recipe ever. I added pecans. I was pleased when I saw the note to refrigerate overnight because I felt like being done and just relaxing. I'll let you know how they turn out.
 Late night cookie making

And just because it makes me smile. Roberta loves Strawberries, and Bananas and Watermelon. Do you know a cat that likes fruit? We had one growing up that loved Cantaloupe and it always made me laugh.
 Roberta likes strawberries

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Swimsuit Sewing

I have become obsessed with the idea of sewing my own swimsuit.
I created an inspiration board.
I think I can pull off the inspiration suit with Kwik Sew 3695.  The pattern is a halter style, and I think I could alter it to have a mock wrap look with a ruffle.
Dixie Diy is hosting a swimsuit sew along right now. It got me inspired, but I won't be going along with their timeline. I do have a bit of a stay-cation coming up and may tackle this project then. I'm nervous but excited about the idea.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Lazy Day

It has been a busy week. I started training in a new position at work, which is exciting and exhausting. It's hot and I was tired yesterday on my day off. I just couldn't get going. I felt like lazing about like Lucy and Roberta do all day every day. I kept telling myself that sometimes we just need a day of rest, but I still felt guilty. Lazy Lucy chillin'

I did finally get out of the house last night to run a couple of errands. I did some sewing, a little cleaning and not much else.

The desert willow tree is in full bloom in the front yard and that always makes me smile.
 Summer in the back yard

I have lots to share with you, but so little time lately. We have been cooking some delicious stuff, like Vietnamese Vermicelli with Pork, a best yet version of Creamy Green Salsa, and impromptu things like Sweet Potato Hash and Mexican Chicken Salad that turned out so yummy. There has also been some soda making, with strawberry syrup, lemonade concentrate and mint simply syrup being made. I've finished some sewing and need to take pictures. Hopefully I'll be back next week with more. For now, please excuse my lazy bones!

 Have a great weekend. xoxo Ashley

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Dear Summer,

Oh Summer, you are a new friend who I'm just warming up to. No matter that you have made an appearance each of my thirty six years, I'm hard to get to know. You warm up to me every year, but it has taken me all this time to start to enjoy your company. I'm sure as a child I didn't mind your heat, there was a pool or a sprinkler to run through. If only I lived closer to a swimming hole these days, I would call you my best friend. In the mean time I will hang out with you and do my best to live in the moment, enjoying the fruits of our labor.

I have no more illusions of doing "work" in the garden, now it is just maintaining and keeping things alive with water, love and a little bit of organic fertilizer.

Basil
 Summer in the back yard

Habaneros for salsa and maybe a Spicy Grapefruit Margarita? Summer in the back yard

 Flame acanthus for the butterflies, hummingbirds and my enjoyment. Summer in the back yard

Mint for my tea, Vietnamese food and maybe a Mojito?
 Summer in the back yard

Bees to pollinate
 Summer in the back yard

 Zinnia Volunteers
 Summer in the back yard

 I think this one is a cross of a green and pink. I need to save the seeds. Summer in the back yard

And Zinnia seedlings thriving!
 Summer in the back yard

To help us enjoy summer even more I need to order Popsicle molds, and a new blender part so that we can enjoy some cold drinks. I'm off today with a long to do list, including figuring out what to do with those peaches. I hope you had a nice holiday and that the rest of your week goes by quickly. 

Happy Summer!
Ashley

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Reasons I'm Loving Summer

Mint in my iced tea, grown in my own back yard. Why oh why did it take me eleven years to plant mint here? It reminds me of my Pawpaw, who always had a patch of mint growing and always put it in his tea.
 Mint in my tea

Parker County peaches, ripe, sweet, grown just down the road, and I bought five pounds. I must act fast and be decisive in deciding what to do with them before they go bad. These are the most delicious peaches I have ever had. Seriously!
 Parker county peaches

 Zinnias from the garden. There aren't too many this year, just the volunteers. I planted seeds late, and the ones seedlings that have survived are still small. I need to remember to reseed in late Summer so I will have more in the Fall.
 Zinnias

 I hope you are finding reasons to enjoy this season. I also hope you enjoy your holiday tomorrow, and be safe.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Self Drafted Knit Maxi Skirt

I still don't like taking pictures of myself, but Frank and took some good ones for me last night.
I squeezed this knit maxi skirt out of one yard of polka dot Cotton Jersey knit from Girl Charlee. I bought a yard of the fabric, not knowing what it would be suitable for.  It is listed as light to medium weight, but was heavy enough for a skirt.

Self drafted knit maxi skirt

I used a knit skirt that I had as the template. I had to make the fold over waistband shorter than on the original, but it works. I cut two pieces for the waistband, 16" x 10", seamed them at the sides, then folded over. I'm just now realizing that I cut the waistband along the length of the fabric, rather than across, not sure if that is the way it is supposed to be done, as knit stretches more across, but it worked for me and allowed me to get this skirt out of one yard.  With a yard and a half I could get a more full skirt and a wider waistband.  I cut a front and back skirt piece, 16" at the top, tapering out to about 25".  I left the bottom unhemmed, and let it roll.

Frank caught me mid sentence here, trying to show you the waistband.
Self drafted knit maxi skirt

 Don't I just need an iced tea or a cocktail here to complete the Summer look? Self drafted knit maxi skirt

Speaking of Summer, despite the heat I do feel like I have been living in the season and embracing Summer more than usual.  I have especially been enjoying summer produce from work, Peaches, Watermelon, Mangoes, Cantaloupe, Tomatoes, Squash, etc.  I'm trying to eat more fruit and veggies and keep our meals easy and light.  I don't know what else is different this year, but I just feel like I'm enjoying Summer more than usual.  Fall and Spring are usually my jam.

I hope you are enjoying your Summer too!
xoxo
Ashley