Friday, April 27, 2012

Hello! My Name Is... Herb

DIY Faux-Chalkboard Plant Markers
The great thing about chalkboards is that you can wipe them clean and start over whenever you want… I love that. I have two chalkboards in my kitchen that I use all the time. The one my Hubby and I made when we moved in here is one of my very favorite things. Both boards sport to-do lists, groceries needed, etc. on any given day of the year. Super handy.

Here today, gone before you know it
Needless to say, I love the look of chalkboard-craftiness as much as the next person, but practicality prevents me from using it for labeling my mason jars or identifying my herbs in the garden or any other alternative use where it's particular type of temporality (temporariness?) is not really a benefit. In other words, anywhere the writing is likely to get smudged off prematurely.

I need some cilantro... stat!
However, spring has finally sprung and I need to know my cilantro from my parsley at a glance (and Hubs needs to know too, as I often find myself in the middle of cooking and need him to snip some herbs for me). Mind you, we normally can tell the difference between our plants, but we've added a lot of new herbs this year… and well... plant markers are cute. There. I've said it.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Herb-y Eggs with Easy Freezer Hash Browns

Herb-y Eggs & Easy Freezer Hash Browns
I am not a morning person. I get up early, but let's just say I'm not exactly chipper and cheerful about it. Not right away anyhow. A little time, a little quiet, and a little caffeine... ease into it, you know? So I really don't want to have to think too much about cooking breakfast every morning.

But....... I also want a good breakfast. Steel-cut oats, granola, egg quesadillas, muffinssmoothies, banana bread, pancakes, scones, yogurt with fruit... I even like breakfast for dinner (I could go on and on). Are you getting the idea that I like breakfast? A lot? And I love hash browns too, but with all the shredding and squeezing, they're too much effort for a regular weekday breakfast. Until now.

Thanks to this method that a friend clued me into, we've been having truck-stop-worthy hash browns whenever we want. They go straight from freezer to frying pan. No fuss, no muss, and no early morning exertion... practically no brain function necessary at all!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Gee, Your Hair Smells Lavender-ific

Lavender Curl Refreshing Spray
Anyone who has known me for any length of time, knows that I have a love/hate thing going on with my curly head of hair. It's true. Sometimes the pendulum swings slowly and sometimes I'll flip from love to hate overnight. Most of the time though, I'm wallowing in an all-out "I-hate-my-hair" pit of despair. Naturally curly hair can do that to a person.

Over the years I'd try almost anything if it promised better hair. It's been my constant quest. My grail. My impossible dream. I've permed it, straightened it, and otherwise tortured it. I've even chopped it all off in frustration. Just about any product that was marketed "for curly hair", I'd buy. Nothing worked.

A few months ago I bought Curly Girl: The Handbook.* It has changed everything. Above and beyond all the stories, the method, the tips and tricks... the big message was this: You are not alone... and it's never too late to learn how to take care of your curls. Bam.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Penny For Your Thoughts… A Dollar For Your Age

My Mom started a birthday tradition in our family of giving us kids a dollar for every year we were old. Six years old… six dollars. Seventeen years old… 17 bucks. Thirty-Nine years old… 39 smackers. It wasn't our main gift, more of a token really than anything. We always had a bit of a laugh over it, but it's one of those sweet little things that we always look forward to and remember fondly.  

Another year, another dollar
Nowadays it comes in the form of a check, but when we were younger, Mom would get creative and do things like use all quarters and tape them together into a long garland. Fun stuff like that. If Mom had known about "money-gami" or "dollar-gami" (origami with dollar bills), she would have totally gotten into it. I have recently mastered the "Shirt & Tie" fold which is on the um... simpler end of the difficulty range. In other words, it's completely do-able.

If it doesn't fit, they can always ex-change it
So next time you forget to buy a gift for someone, or can't figure out what to get them and think that giving money is the best idea (it could happen)… do something creative with it like fold it into a shirt, or a ring, a butterfly… or even a viking helmet. It gives a whole new meaning to the term "folding money"!
  • I found the easy to follow "Shirt & Tie" instructions here.
  • There are even more amazing dollar folding ideas here.
Notes: If you have the time, ironing your bills (no steam!) before folding helps to crisp them up and the finished product will look that much better. A bone-folder is great for getting sharp folds, but the side of a pen or butter-knife will work also.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Five Out Of Five Soda Bread

Rosemary and Browned Butter Soda Bread
I have to say right here, right now, that I've never personally made a soda bread that I liked. Never. Maybe I just like stuff that I don't have to make myself? That's a distinct possibility. After all, I like the soda bread that friends and family have made. But when I make it myself, it just doesn't happen for me. Ever.

Until now. This soda bread I like... in fact, this soda bread I love. I've only made it three times, but the recipe makes two loaves and we gave one away, so we've eaten five loaves of it (so far). Five out of five. We've had it by itself as a snack, alongside bowls of soup, and with mugs of strong black tea for breakfast (my favorite). I very nearly ate an entire loaf myself. It's that good.

The combination of flavors in this quick bread blur the line between savory and sweet… the caramel-y rich browned butter, sweet/hot freshly ground black pepper, piney/herbal fresh rosemary, a little saltiness from the baking soda, and some earthy sweetness from the honey... I'm making myself hungry.