Friday, July 23, 2010


While I love to look at photography to be inspired, this is the first time I've linked to any artists.  Hmmm... maybe I'll start...
Anyway, Nick Brandt's work is stunning, just indescribably emotional and moving.

Seriously, go look, I'm speechless.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Writer's Block Again...

I've been picking at a couple of blog posts for the last several days and I just can't put together a cohesive post.  So here's a random list:

- I joined the gym again.  I've just been so tired lately, it's kind of the last thing I want to do, but I think that there's a good chance that it will make me feel better and give me some more energy.  Hopefully, it will lead to more motivation as well.
-I always forget how much I actually like running.  About a half hour after I finish running, I'm wanting to go again.
-I'm still trying to figure out what to do about selling my photos.  If Etsy is my best bet, or if I should set up an separate website like Mpix that will print and ship the pictures directly.
-Gil the cat is growing really fast.  She has probably doubled in size in the last 2 and a half weeks.  And she's mildly psychotic, I keep threatening to sell her to the circus if she doesn't stop being so crazy!  Any time I'm on the computer, reading, knitting, she has to "help".  Usually by jumping on the buttons or biting my needles or chewing on the end of the book.  That's when she's not biting me! 
-I know I've mentioned our next trip in passing, but we're heading to Roatan, Honduras, for the big 3-0 birthday in September!  I'm really excited to spend my birthday on the beach!  We'll be doing lots of diving, taking pictures, and relaxing.  We're staying at Anthony's Key Resort, and have some friends and family going, so it should be a really good time!

Nothing too exciting, but I'm trying to keep up on 2 or 3 posts a week!  Just gotta shake this writer's block!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

This is the Zucchini Bread recipe that Jeff started asking for as soon as I told him I was planting zucchini this year!   After my giant zucchini (pic below) was shredded, along with a couple other smaller ones, I now have enough to make 14 loaves of it!

Chocolate Zucchini Bread
3 eggs
1 cup oil
2 cups sugar
2 cups grated zucchini
1 Tbsp. vanilla
3 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cloves
3 Tbsp. cocoa powder
1/2 cup nuts (optional) (I never use them)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour 2 large (4 x 9) loaf pans.  Beat eggs, oil and sugar together.  Add zucchini and vanilla.  In separate bowl mix flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, spices and cocoa powder.  Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, mix only until combined.  Add chocolate chips and nuts (if using).  Bake for one hour.

That's it!  It's easy and so good.  It has the spices of standard zucchini bread, with the little bit of cocoa powder and the chocolate chips, but not too chocolaty.  I understand that you can freeze the bread, but it goes pretty fast in my house, and the second loaf never makes it to the freezer.

Sorry, no pictures of the bread, but check out the size of this zucchini! (sorry for the blurriness)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Garden Post

We've been so fortunate again this year with our garden.  I admit that I don't have much to do with its success.  I have very little technical knowledge when it comes to gardening, yet we still manage to get a surplus of produce and enjoy ourselves.  The only real work we put into it is using the compost I build up over the year, pulling weeds (not often enough!) and harvesting.
This year, we expanded our garden by doubling its size and adding zucchini and cucumber to the mix.  We also have green beans, onions, red bell peppers, jalapenos, cherry tomatoes and Early Girl tomatoes, and sugar snap peas.  Earlier, we had leaf lettuce, spinach and broccoli, but that's passed now. 

Here is one of our first big harvests from July 5th:
We've since pulled off dozens of cherry tomatoes, a couple of regular sized tomatoes, another couple handfuls of green beans, several jalapenos, a few onions and a zucchini that probably weighs 5-6 pounds!
I've got another batch of Chocolate Zucchini Bread in the oven now, and several batches of shredded zucchini in the freezer with more still coming.  Green beans are our favorites and we've eaten a few and I've frozen four bags, moving right along with my 30 Before 30 #6!
We both just really enjoy digging in the garden, and getting to eat the stuff that comes out of it makes it even more worthwhile.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

My Sloppy Joe Recipe

Wow, let another couple of days get by since my last post!  Whoops!  In my defense, had a couple health issues going on.  Here's a quick recipe to keep the blog moving, should be back either later today or tomorrow.

A couple of years ago, I came across a great Sloppy Joe recipe, way better than that canned stuff!  Since then, I've tweaked it a bit, added a couple things, and made it spicier.  Let me know if you try it!

1 lb. ground beef or 1.25 lb ground turkey (I usually use turkey)
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 red or green pepper, diced
1 (or 2!) jalapeno, diced fine
2 cloves garlic
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
1 cup water
1 1/2 tbsp. chili powder
1 tbsp. cumin
1 tsp. paprika (I love the smoked spanish type)
1 tsp. dried oregano
A few shakes of your favorite hot sauce
3 tbsp. brown sugar
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tbsp. white vinegar

Brown meat in large skillet, drain fat off if using beef.  Add onion, pepper and jalapeno.  Cook until onion and peppers are slightly softened, about 5 minutes.  Add tomato paste and water, stir and cook until paste is completely dissolved.  (Quick tip: if you don't have tomato paste, a 14 oz. can of tomato sauce and 1/2 cup water is a good substitute, you just have to cook it down for a little longer) 
Add spices and rest of ingredients, let cook down till nice and saucy, 10-15 minutes.  Serve on buns with either shredded cheddar cheese or good old fashioned Kraft American cheese slices!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Requisite Update On My 30 By 30 List

Basically, not much to update:

1. Get my Mandarin fish tattoo - no progress, think I found a good place, but still need to schedule and scrounge up the money, it'll probably get pushed till after my birthday trip.*

2. Sew myself a wearable skirt - have the fabric, have the book, haven't touched the sewing machine...

3. Sell at least 1 of my photographs - working on a plan for an Etsy shop.

4. Paint again (canvas, not walls) - nope, nada

5. Embroider a pillowcase - have some of the materials...

6. Preserve vegetables that I’ve grown in my garden - ooh, worked on this last night!  Froze 4 bags of green beans from the garden.  I have plans to shred some zucchini to freeze and to cook down some of the zillion cherry tomatoes to freeze as well

7. Go to a stitch and bitch or knitting group - not yet

8. Volunteer - have some websites to look at, I would like to do something with animals if possible

9. Run a 5K - this is going to probably be taken off the list.  I just haven't been running.  Running outside makes my legs hurt, and I don't have room in my house for a treadmill or want to spend the money for a gym membership.  Maybe for the 40th birthday...

10. Read at least 5 books on my bookshelves (preferably that I haven’t read before) - I'm still plugging away at 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea on my Kindle. I want to get that done before I start something else, but it is SLOW going!

11. Invest some money for retirement (auto 401K with work does not count)

12. Yarn Diet-knit down my stash - I'm actually doing really well on this one!  I haven't bought any yarn, and I've been finishing projects!  I also want to make a few dishcloths to get rid of some of that cotton yarn that's just sitting there.

13. Bake and frost a layer cake from scratch - done!

14. Sell or give away 50 things that I currently own - 34 down, 16 to go

15. Paint the hutch in the dining room - this I've been planning to do for years, but now I'm wondering if I want to even keep it.  It's soooo big for our tiny little house, but we need the storage...

*Have I mentioned my birthday trip

Anyway, not too exciting, but I'm going to crack down on it, I'm down to less than 3 months!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Rustic Tomato Sauce with Zucchini and Sausage

I made this recipe a couple of weeks ago when I had a few fingerling zucchini to get rid of and wanted some spicy pasta.

Rustic Tomato Sauce with Zucchini and Sausage
1 lb. bulk sausage (I use spicy)
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 small or 1 large clove of garlic, pressed or minced
1 medium or 2 small zucchini, 1/2 inch dice
14 oz. can crushed tomatoes
28 oz. can whole tomatoes with juice
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tbsp. sugar (to counteract some of the acidic, canned-tomato flavor)
10-12 leaves fresh basil chopped or 1 tbsp dried
1 lb. pasta of your choice cooked according to box directions

Brown sausage, drain off fat and set aside.

In large skillet, heat oil on medium.  Add onion, garlic and zucchini.  Cook until onion is translucent and zucchini starts to soften, about 5 minutes. Add both cans of tomatoes, sugar, oregano and basil (if using dried, if using fresh, wait till the end).

Start pasta water. 

While waiting for water to boil and pasta to cook, bring sauce up to a simmer.  As the sauce cooks, break up the whole tomatoes with your spoon.  This keeps larger chunks of tomatoes and gives it a more chunky, rustic consistency.  If you have more time, you can add the sausage and let the sauce simmer on the stove for an hour or so to let all the flavors meld together.  If not, you can just throw in the sausage and fresh basil and serve as soon as your pasta is finished!

Serve with lots of grated parmesan cheese (fresh if you have it!) and a green salad.  Easy, delicious and filling!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Baby of the Family

As I mentioned yesterday, we have a new furry family member!  Internet, meet Gilboa (otherwise known as Gil):
 She is a teeny, tiny, 10 week old kitten that according to the vet, only weighs 1 pound, 5 ounces.  She is a sweet and wild little snuggle-bunny, and we just love her to death.  She's easy to lose though!  When she is running around the house, if you take your eyes off of her for a minute she's gone!  She likes to hide under the recliner, behind the tv, in the coat closet, and apparently, in the broiler.  That's where we found her last night.  She was going into the space between the refrigerator and stove, and since we have the cheapest stove you can buy, the broiler has some open space in the back.  So, we opened the broiler drawer to find her hanging out there!  Needless to say, the space is now blocked off.

You may be wondering where the name Gilboa came from; we snagged her from Gilboa Quarry, a place where we dive fairly frequently, including this past weekend (which is a story in itself, I'll tell that soon).  The owner, Mike, always has cats running around there and she was this tiny little thing that was always nearby and wanting attention.  And we had been talking about getting a kitten on and off lately, so, she came home with us!  Plus the name kinda suits her personality! 

Murphy wants desperately to be friends with her, but Gil isn't quite sure yet.  Gil is interested in Murphy, but still a little afraid of her. Who could blame her?  Murphy is almost 75 times her size!  I predict that they will be best buds within the next week or so.  I'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Coming Soon To This Space:

Blogging.  Actual blogging!  I mean it this time!  I have so much to write about!  Recipes, a new furry family member, some diving, some knitting, some pictures and an upcoming trip.  I promise, July will have some posts.  See you tomorrow!