Wednesday, May 26, 2010

66

Today my dad turned

We celebrated at P.F. Chang's for dinner (his complimentary birthday dessert was The Great Wall of Chocolate) and watched the American Idol finale at our place. He enjoyed hearing all the old bands that played tonight. He LOVES music and I first learned to appreciate music from my dad. We grew up listening to all kinds of music and anyone that has ever sat around the table with us knows dinnertime is not complete without the right tunes playing in the background. I've even been told he would put me on his shoulder and dance me to sleep when I was a baby.

Happy Birthday, Dad!
I hope you had a beautiful day.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

5 Somethings Tuesday

I've been hearing a lot lately about diets - I guess it's that time of the year. The end of spring seems to get everyone thinking about the beginning of summer and shedding those bad eating habits. Sometimes diets are necessary to jump start weight loss which then encourages a more healthy lifestyle. But we all know diets cannot last forever. I like to learn about eating healthy in simple, realistic ways that can be incorporated into my everyday life. Because what I eat the majority of the time is what affects me the most.

1. Something I've been intentionally trying for awhile = less meat, more fruits and vegetables. In Stormie Omartian's Greater Health God's Way, she recommends eating no more than 2 servings of meat (chicken or beef) a week and at least 3 servings of fish. I really had to retrain the way I think on this one. The American way seems to eat meat at every meal! It sounds perfectly normal to have a turkey sandwich for lunch and grilled chicken for dinner, right? Well, add it up and that is 14 servings of meat a week! I still eat way more than 2 servings a week but have slowly incorporated vegetarian meals into my diet. Meat is known to be hard on the digestive system and is higher in saturated fat. Eating too many servings of meat leaves me with a "heavy" feeling and I have noticed by leaving it off the menu I feel "lighter" and not stuffed after meals. The main reason we eat meat is for protein but there are so many other sources of protein available. For lunch I'll choose PB&J instead of turkey all the time or a vegetable salad with almonds or walnuts. (Although jelly is not extremely healthy, I'm giving myself some leeway because I'm working toward my more important goal of less meat.) For dinner I often eat an apple with almond butter and raisins, a plate of veggies or on occasion a baked potato. I do eat a snack a couple of hours after dinner which is fine- two small meals are better than one large one.

2. Something I have to constantly remind myself = drink pure water. Water doesn't count when it's in tea, juice or soda. A couple of years ago I stopped drinking orange juice for breakfast and now I only drink water in the mornings. I really just got tired of the o.j. but I also had to evaluate why was I drinking it every morning? Just because that's what your supposed to drink with breakfast? Now I don't care for juice at all in the morning. I'm used to drinking only water and it's a good start to my day with at least one glass or two of water in my system.

3. Something I just heard = don't steam vegetables, blanch them. A chef from Whole Foods explained that when you steam broccoli most of the nutrients end up in the bottom of the pan. That's why the water is green when you pour it out. Blanching vegetables maintains the vibrance of the vegetables and keeps the nutrients intact. If you have ever wondered why vegetables look brighter and more colorful when your dining out, it's because restaurants blanch instead of steam.

4. Something I want to try = kale. I've looked at nutrition charts that rank green leafy vegetables and kale is always at the top. I've never made this super food before but would like to learn a few good recipes. The same chef from Whole Foods said it's their #1 seller right now in the produce section. They can't keep it on the shelves. He gave some statistic and I can't remember the term he used, but it was something to this effect: if you rank food based on it's nutritional value, chicken would get a 50 and kale would be close to 1,000.

5. Something I have a new outlook on = less sugar is more. No matter how threatening the sayings get about sugar, I'm not sure I could ever do away with it completely. I mean if "white poison" doesn't scare me off, what will? I do need to change the way I look at it though. Instead of a daily treat, I'm starting to think of dessert as more appropriate on a weekly basis. If I'm going out on the weekend with the girls for dessert, I will pass on a cookie during the week. Tomorrow is my dad's birthday and next Monday is Memorial Day which means a dessert is in my near future. If I stop to look at the calendar, there's usually a holiday, birthday or at least one event around the corner. We have a large family, so it feels like we are always celebrating someone's big day. It doesn't mean I eat dessert EVERY time it's offered though. For me, eating less sugar is all about self-control and mental discipline. It gets a little easier when I cut back, because the more sugar I eat the more I crave. But most of the time when I pass on dessert it's because I've had a conversation with myself and the voice of reason has just said, "That's a 'NO' ".

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Bees and Butterflies

Last month when my sister was in town, she informed me on the honey bee shortage predicted for this year. Apparently the honey bees have been vanishing from the U.S. for a couple of decades. This year's harsh winter contributed to the growing problem. Other suspected factors include loss of habitat, viruses and pesticides, and genetically modified crops. I have read several articles on these disappearing bees and the phenomenon has been referred to as the colony collapse disorder since 2006. (As if we didn't have enough disorders, now the bees have their own.) Not only are bees responsible for pollinating flowers but vegetables, fruits and nuts.

This spring we had some landscaping work done in our backyard and it was brought to our attention that we had a large blueberry bush in our garden. I had no idea that a blueberry begins as a white flower with pale pink edges and that every flower must be pollinated by a bee in order to become a fruit. Ever since our fascinating discovery, I've been keeping my eye on that blueberry bush as it slowly progresses.

Bees are the main source of pollination for most plants, but their fluttering friends are known to help out as well. On top of my concern for the bees, Bryant brings to my attention that there will also be a shortage of Monarch butterflies this year. The flooding and devastating mudslides that took place in Mexico this past winter destroyed the butterflies' habitats. Scientists are asking people across the country to plant milkweed to help recreate the habitat that has been lost. I have only seen 1 Monarch so far this spring.

So you can imagine my reaction when I ran across this garden sign at The Fresh Market. I just had to have it.

We put it right in front of the blueberry bush and by the looks of things, it appears the worker bees have made their way to us after all.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Two Favorites: Mom and Brunch

For Mother's Day I thought it would be nice to have my mom over for brunch after church instead of taking her out to eat. My dining room is by no means finished - pictures still need to be hung and fabric picked out for curtains. That will actually be my next project on the house. Nevertheless, I decided to go ahead with my plans for brunch. This is only my second house, but I have learned if you wait for your home to be "finished", you'll never be a hostess.

I had a fun time picking out the decor for the table. I was inspired by this centerpiece I saw at Country Living.

Isn't it lovely? It makes me smile. What a great idea to paint it pink in honor of Mom. I found this vintage birdcage at Sheffield Antiques Mall and thought it looked lovely as is. After I brought it home, I found a permanent place for it in my den so I won't have to wait for the next brunch to enjoy it.

I figured a brunch for Mom was the perfect time to pull out my fine china and white linens. To make her feel special I put a peony by her place setting. Bryant and I just discovered 3 peony bushes in our backyard! I was so glad one of the blooms held out until Mother's Day.

Amanda and I decided on the brunch menu. This plate from Southern Living was a wedding present and always makes for a good conversation piece.

Bryant prepared the chicken and sausage - he's such a good cook! He also made the tastiest and cutest little brunch potatoes ever! I told him I wanted roasted potatoes similar to homestyle fries you see at most breakfast places but didn't want to serve ketchup with them (remember those white linens). Amanda made the bacon-and-egg casserole and fruit punch. The light pink colored punch went well with our theme.

I envisioned the chicken biscuits assembled so here is another image to give you the complete picture.

Nothing goes better with biscuits than jam. Wanting to keep the look of the table clean, I grouped the jams together on this square white plate from Williams Sonoma. I'll be able to use this simple accent plate for parties to come.

For dessert I wanted something light and fruity and the Meyer Lemon Squares were just right. And Mom LOVES lemon.

I thought the table turned out very sweet.

But as pretty as the teacups, ribbon and roses were, nothing at the table was as lovely as Mom.

Happy Mother's Day! We love you!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Class of 2010

My college days seem like ages ago. Well, I guess they almost are seeing that I graduated 9 years ago. My dad asked me if walking around the MC campus last weekend brought back lots of memories. Not the hundreds of individual memories you think of when you start reminiscing about college life but more of a warm familiarity that I had lived there for 4 full years. Four years of walking down the same streets to get to class, the dorm and the chapel where I spent most of time as a Christian Studies and Philosophy major. I loved all my C.S. professors that I studied under; I can remember sitting in their classrooms like it was yesterday.

I am so happy that Bryant's sister was able to attend a Christian university and experience life at MC. I can tell she had a blast just by looking at her face when she talks about it. The weather was perfect on Saturday for the graduation and we were able to take some family pictures in the quad after the ceremony.

For lunch, we went to an adorable restaurant in Jackson called Mint. The food was wonderful and very unique. I had sweet tea brined chicken on a belgian waffle! For dessert, I made Rebekah some graduation cupcakes. I found these fondant graduation cap cupcake toppers at Etsy. Blue and gold happens to be MC's colors.

And since I had to transport these cupcakes all the way to Jackson, I bought this cupcake carrier to prevent any sliding around in the car. It holds 24 cupcakes perfectly in place. Very impressive!

I think the graduate enjoyed her day. Happy Graduation, Beka! We are so proud of you.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Three for Tuesday

So much to blog about, so little time. A wedding, a graduation, and a Mother's Day brunch. Blog posts coming soon.



Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Meyer Lemon and Brown Sugar Shortbread

For over a month I've been staring at the picture of luscious Meyer lemons on the cover of Mississippi Magazine. My sister-in-law, Rebekah, is interning at the magazine and thanks to her we now have a 5-year subscription. I have been meaning to try one of the delicious-looking recipes offered inside especially since this type of lemon is not in season much longer. The article said the Meyer lemon season runs from November to May.

Last Friday afternoon I finally got around to making the shortbread I kept flipping to every time I picked up the magazine. It was simple to make and turned out really well. So well that I took several pieces over to our neighbors that we had yet to meet! We ended up staying over at their house for almost 2 hours and come to find out we both had been waiting for the "right" time to stop by and make the introductions.

Meyer Lemon and Brown Sugar Shortbread
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon Meyer lemon juice

Zest of one Meyer lemon

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 9-inch round cake pan and set aside. Beat butter, brown sugar, vanilla, Meyer lemon juice, and zest together until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add flour in 4 batches, combining well after each addition. (You can do this with your hands, as dough is stiff). Scrape dough into prepared pan and pat into an even layer. Prick surface with tines of a fork. Since shortbread becomes solid when it cools, score top of dough into wedges before baking so it will be easy to break into serving pieces. Bake shortbread in upper third of oven for 30 minutes, or until top is puffy and lightly browned.
Yield: 8 (generous) wedges


The picture showed it served with blueberries and whip cream. I put a few raspberries on the plate to make it look pretty, but ended up adding a lot more! They were the perfect compliment.


 

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