Friday, April 30, 2010

Meatless Fridays

Want to get your kiddos to eat more veggies? Then try this week's meatless meal! Vegetables are mixed in with a lovely tomato sauce and poured over hot pasta. If your kids can sense a vegetable a mile away like my John Paul then simply puree the sauce in the food processor before serving!
This week's Meatless Friday meal is:

Crockpot Spaghetti

1 package spaghetti sauce mix
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 cup water
4 zucchini
1 small eggplant
1 small green pepper, cut into 1" cubes
3 med. tomatoes, cut into small wedges
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 lb. uncooked spaghetti
1/4 lb. mozzarella or Parmesan cheese, grated

In crockpot, mix dry spaghetti sauce mix with tomato sauce and water. Cut zucchini into 1/2-inch crosswise slices. Peel eggplant; slice thinly, then cut each slice into quarters. Add zucchini, eggplant, green pepper, tomatoes and salt to spaghetti sauce. Cover and cook on LOW for 4-6 hours or until vegetables are tender.

In meantime, cook spaghetti according to pkg. directions; drain well. When ready to serve, top each serving of spaghetti with vegetable sauce mixture. Sprinkle with cheese. Makes 6 servings.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I love my country neighbors!

My sweet neighbor down the road, Mrs. C., gifted me with these beautiful Ball canning jars!
Can't wait to fill them with pickles, jams, and sauces from the garden!
What a treasure!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Estate sale finds

This weekend I noticed an estate sale ad in the paper and since I was already up early, I decided grab a coffee and go browse. I found a few lovely treasures to add to our home, like this pretty hand painted fruit bowl:

I think it will look awesome filled with lemons and oranges from the garden! I also found an "old fashioned" popcorn popper and two heavy glass measuring cups.

I had to grab this stack of vintage pink towels! They'll look great transformed into handmade bath rugs and dish mats.

A pretty good score in my book,
and for less than 12 bucks
(coffee not included!)

Monday, April 26, 2010

San Jacinto Day

Saturday we went to the San Jacinto Day Festival. It was a festival commemorating the anniversary of the Battle of San Jacinto which won independence for Texas from Mexico. The weather was gorgeous and the reenactment was really good and pretty realistic! John and Dan hated the loud cannon booms!
After the festival we went over to the Battleship Texas grounds for a picnic before making the long trek back home. We were exhausted and sunburned by the days end...but very proud to be Texans!

Our day at Lake Texana

Last week we spent a late afternoon and evening at nearby Lake Texana. It's a little gem that we recently discovered that's about 45 minutes away from us. They have beautiful campgrounds, a day area, fishing, kayaking, and hiking through miles of trails. The wildlife is stunning! Lots of birds, deer, rabbits, squirrels, and oh yeah, alligators!
We went on a hike through the dense trails and the boys identified tracks left by deer and wild boar. We were too late to rent kayaks for the day, but we did manage to grill up some dinner and spent some time taking in the beautiful scenery.
It was a really nice day!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Meatless Fridays

This week's meal is true comfort food!
Serve it with your favorite pasta sauce or simply with garlic butter. This week's Meatless Friday meal is:


6 russet potatoes
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pinch salt

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drop in potatoes and cook until fork tender but still firm, about 15 minutes (Do NOT over cook your potatoes! If you over cook them they will absorb more flour, sink to the bottom of the pot, and be tasteless!). Drain, cool slightly, and peel. Season with salt, then mash potatoes with fork, masher, or in ricer. Place in large bowl, and stir in egg and olive oil. Knead in enough flour to make a soft dough. On a floured surface, roll dough into a long rope. Cut the rope into 1/2-inch pieces. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Drop in gnocchi, and cook until they float to the top, about 3 to 5 minutes. Serve with your favorite pasta sauce.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A different kind of garden

It's no secret that I love my vegetable garden, but flower gardening is a whole different world to me. If it weren't for the dummy proof Knock Out Roses that are scattered throughout the yards then I wouldn't have ANY flowers at all!
Well, I've decided to change all of that!
A very wise woman (who I've never met in real life but would hug her to death if I ever did!) suggested that I plant a tree to help me memorialize our most recent loss. I don't have space for any more trees, but I did have a little plot of tilled flower bed that was looking pretty shabby. I though that I might make a memorial garden for all our lost babies...

It's still a work in progress, but it is started and real and I love it.
Working on this little garden has been a labor of love. I can't wait to fill it with all sorts of beautiful flowering plants. In days to come, we will be working on memorial stones like the one below. The children made this one when we suffered our first loss, baby Michael:

I also went out and bought four rose bushes for our four babies in Heaven. Not Knock Out Roses, but REAL roses! I bought the most fragrant varieties I could find and I'm going to work very hard to keep them alive and growing. I figured out the whole vegetable growing thing on my own, now there is no reason I can't flower garden, too!

Maybe for Mother's Day Doug will buy me some pretty pavers to line the garden border (hint, hint!) this girl doesn't need jewelry....and the only flowers I want are ones I can put in the ground!
Thank you dearest Marti for the inspiration to do this. Something like this honestly never crossed my mind and I'm not sure it would have without your loving suggestion. Every time I'm in this garden I'll think of you and be assured of an Ave for your intentions. Thank you for thinking of me and my babies...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Our garden ~ week 1

Well I FINALLY got the garden put in and we are on week one of growth. All the seeds germinated and the seedlings tolerated transplanting, we are off to a pretty good start!
Here's my little Meyer lemon tree with lots of baby lemons growing. The blooms on this tree smell incredible, you can smell it all over the backyard!

Here's a big pic of the garden. Everything is sprouted and growing great! Barring any blustery winds, heavy rain storms, or very late season freeze they should do well. Doug made me three garden boxes for kitchen herbs, cantaloupe, and watermelons. I think they look very pretty with the garden!
Here's a pic of my kitchen herb garden, I absolutely LOVE it! Growing here are dill, sage, lemon thyme, basil, parsely, bee balm and lemon balm (for my very own homemade teas!), and cilantro.
In a few weeks we'll be harvesting lots of beautiful, organic vegetables. Hundreds of dollars worth of produce from less than $15 dollars worth of seeds!
Plus saving me lots of $$$ in therapy bills, too, if truth be told! LOL!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Living the Liturgical Year

Happy Birthday Holy Father!

April 16th Pope Benedict celebrated his 83rd birthday. We also celebrated his birthday (albeit a little late) this weekend with the children.

I made a batch of cake balls with these cute Papal toppers

We read about the institution of the Papacy and then prayed a rosary for the Holy Father's intentions.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Meatless Fridays

I saw this recipe on Food Network and will have to try it! It is Ina Garten's roasted shrimp and orzo. It can be made in about 15 minutes, but let it sit for about an hour for all these lovely flavors to marry. It would go great with a hot loaf of artisan bread!

Roasted Shrimp and Orzo
courtesy of Food Network


* Kosher salt
* Good olive oil
* 3/4 pound orzo pasta (rice-shaped pasta)
* 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (3 lemons)
* Freshly ground black pepper
* 2 pounds (16 to 18 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined
* 1 cup minced scallions, white and green parts
* 1 cup chopped fresh dill
* 1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
* 1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and medium-diced
* 1/2 cup small-diced red onion
* 3/4 pound good feta cheese, large diced


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Fill a large pot with water, add 1 tablespoon of salt and a splash of oil, and bring the water to a boil. Add the orzo and simmer for 9 to 11 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it's cooked al dente. Drain and pour into a large bowl. Whisk together the lemon juice, 1/2 cup olive oil, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Pour over the hot pasta and stir well.

Meanwhile, place the shrimp on a sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to combine and spread out in a single layer. Roast for 5 to 6 minutes, until the shrimp are cooked through. Don't overcook!

Add the shrimp to the orzo and then add the scallions, dill, parsley, cucumber, onion, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Toss well. Add the feta and stir carefully. Set aside at room temperature for 1 hour to allow the flavors to blend, or refrigerate overnight. If refrigerated, taste again for seasonings and bring back to room temperature before serving.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

What 16 cubic yards look like...

Ok, maybe not so much what 16 cubic yards looks like ~
maybe more like what my crazy kids look like climbing on 16 cubic yards!