A total eclipse of the sun.

Talk about something you don’t see everyday, well every 20 some years or so, a total solar eclipse.  Although at 97% we weren’t in the path of totality we definitely had the opportunity to enjoy a spectacular site.   Here are a few photos form that day and if you are interested when the next total american eclipse is due check out this neat graphic.

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Top left, terrible photo through the glasses
Top right, getting accidentally photo bombed by mom – I call it angry thumbs up.
Bottom, the marina and that ‘log’ is an alligator

 

I tried better than take out and here is what happened….

I love some me some take out, but I thought there was no way I could make something better than the real thing.  I was wrong this sheet pan chicken fried rice from Creme de la Crumb was awesome, so awesome in fact I forgot to take a picture.  (okay confession I took one photo of it going into the oven but it’s blurry)   It even heated up well in the microwave.

Where I deviated
– I went the cheat route with the 2 cup heat in the bag Jasmine rice
– I used fresh shredded carrots (mixed with frozen thawed peas) because that is what I had left over from a project (see fireworks photo)
– I used about 2.5 Tablespoons of the oil

Next time
– I will stick with the microwave rice, and whatever veggies I have on hand
– I’ll reduce the oil a little more
– add bite size pineapple pieces when the rice and veggies are added

Low Budget Find, enamel cast iron skillet

I’m always on the look out for more bang for my buck, who isn’t.  My current obsession is this cast iron skillet from the Target Threshold line.  Yes I know I could probably get a bigger one for the same price but I love the crisp white enamel, it’s easy to clean and won’t scratch my stove, and at 10″ is the perfect size for the two of us.  I’ve done steaks,  stuffed mushrooms,  cheat chicken Parmesan and a myriad of other dishes that have gone from stove top to oven.   What is your current low budget obsession?

Gishwhes 2017

Well, it has been nearly a week since we finished our ‘hunt’ for 2017.  So you might have taken a look at the title and wondered what is Gishwhes , or might know all to well and feel that little twitch only brought on by sleep deprivation and hot glue fumes.  Either way welcome.

So the Greatest International Scavnger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen, or GISHWHES is a charity driven scavenger hunt that will have participants saying some of the strangest things.
“Hey can you take a picture of yourself doing yoga with a random animal, but not a goat that’s been done”
Yep actually said that to my friends sister, never got a response either but I also didn’t get any visits from men in white coats, so win?  Anyway –
It was a great personal experience to be part of my team Gishy Rascals! Hunt week bonus; not only was there lots of personal excitement we saved acres of rain forest, changed lives and just had a great time worldwide.  I would say sign me up for next year but, sadly this was the last year.  So here are a few of my pictures from my first and last Gish.

Being goofy for our group collage.

Fireworks made out of veggies and spaghetti, yea it took forever to glue individual pieces of spaghetti onto my cityscape.

Bringing class to the old west with a tea and saucer holster.  

I have yet to cut into the Marx Mellon. 

Planting a tree in my neighbors yard.  

Want to see other teams submissions, may be event the chance to see a school bus get shredded?  Check the Gishwhes  page!

Best Summer ‘Tater Salad

It’s the south , it’s hot, lets eat shrimp and drink beer.  Just this past weekend we went to a shrimp boil and I was asked to bring potato salad.   Usually my go to tater salad is this tex mex wonder land of  bacon, black beans, cilantro and spicy mayo – lots of mayo.  As delightful as it sounds, and believe me it is awesome, the mayo isn’t very hot day friendly so I set out to find something more suitable.

In one of her first cookbooks Ina Garten penned a recipe for her French Potato Salad.  With a vinegar and oil dressing it’s intended to be served warm or at room temperature, making it perfect for a warm summer cookout. The hint if white wine infused into the potatoes makes it a tad sophisticated feeling, and the generous amount of fresh herbs says it’s all about summer.  Cheers to my new favorite summer side.

Lucky for me in blog land it’s on the Food Network site, Find it here along with a video!

If you are ever in Pittsburgh….

It’s that time on my blog again where I get all gushy mushy about visiting the Phipps.  The current installation titled Super Natural is by artist Jason Gamrath. It consists of huge glass and metal orchids, pitcher plants and venus fly traps intermingled through the greenhouse rooms for a  brilliant display of color and texture.  Disclaimer – lots of photos ahead.

The breathtaking instillation wasted no time getting starting with these 12 foot sculptures.

Flanked by potted white orchids this piece truly was super natural in the main greenhouse.

Giant pitcher plants line the greenhouse leading to the orchid room.

In addition to the feature exhibit the Phipps itself looked spectacular, the ever changing scene lends this feeling of experiencing it for the first time every time.
They even cultivate all their own orchids, cherry picking the very best for the orchid room.

I loved the delicate details on this one.

Pitcher plants tucked in the ferns.  It’s always a toss up when I ask myself which room is my favorite; orchid or fern.   One is bustling with color, the other like some lush oasis.

The butterfly room was all a flutter none of them sitting still for a photo. Yes cheesy, I know – but at least I’m owning it.

My favorite of all the giant orchid sculptures was this orange one nestled in the corner of the butterfly room.  Like a little, or great big, surprise when I walked around the corner.  I hope they get to keep it!

More orchids that speak to the name of the exhibit – Super Natural.

I wish I had a better picture of this one where the deep purple and white flecks were noticeable.

Giant waterlily. Interesting – One of the first exhibits in this very greenhouse, dating back to 1895, featured giant amazonian lily pads.  There is even a picture of a girl in Victorian dress standing on one!

About ten years ago there was another glass sculpture instillation by artist Chihuly, the Phipps managed to acquire some of the pieces.  One of my favorites – the “swirly purples”, as I like to call them, are tucked into a defunct old fountain in the fruit and spice room.

The Dessert Gold Star hangs just inside the entrance to the dessert room.     I always wonder how they clean it, I mean seriously.

 If ever you are in Pittsburgh go visit the Phipps.  As you can see the well maintained Victorian greenhouse and grounds are nothing short of amazing.

Want to learn more about the fascinating history behind this Victorian greenhouse? Even see the picture of the girl standing on the lily pad.   Check here.

Even better, want to take a virtual tour?  Check this page out!

Let me know what you think, I would love to hear if any of you have visited the Phipps yourself!

Jeep Invasion!

When I say Butler is a small town in western PA, I do mean a small town.   One main drag, a couple of stop lights and small mostly family owned businesses dot the downtown.  Just a mile outside of this metropolis it’s a landscape of farmland and old homesteads.

Butler holds one great secret – it’s the birthplace of the Jeep.   Every June all the little Jeeps come to pay their respects at the Bantam Jeep festival.  There is a multitude of activities for Jeep owners to participate in to flex their Jeep muscles.  I had the opportunity to attend the Jeep Invasion, and it really is like an invasion this small town; absolutely astonishing how many of one badge can find their way together.  We all know I’m a ford truck girl, but yea – this was cool.

Jeeps lining Main Street and still pouring in.
This is what i think of when I think Jeep.
Still pouring in.
Even the side streets were being used this year.

What’s Cooking?

There is more to a delightful cookbook than recipes.   It should be enjoyable to read, inspire new things and always feel like positive results are obtainable.  My favorites incorporate family stories, history of the recipes, and just read like a good book.  So here are a few that I will pick up and read over and over.

 

Jerusalem a Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Same Tamimi

Jerusalem a Cookbook
by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

Why I like it- the history lesson that went with it, the explanation of how the flavors became so diverse horseradish and beet relish and traditions behind foods like falafel.

Favorite Recipe – Spiced Chickpeas and Fresh Vegetable salad

 

 

 

Barefoot Contessa Family Style by Ina Garten

Barefoot Contessa Family Style
by Ina Garten

Why I like it-  Any of her cookbooks make me feel fancy, like every meal is a little dinner party, even if it is just for two.   Also, I have yet to fouled up when following her instructions and tips.

Favorite Recipe – Hands down her Chicken Parmesan, it can be found in her Family Style Cookbook and pretty much all over the internet.

 

Extra Virgin by Gabriele Corcos and Debbie Debi Mazar

Extra Virgin
by Gabriele Corcos and Debbie Debi Mazar

Why I like it – Much like the show, the cookbook has his family history and their relationship interwoven through every recipe.  The recipes are simple and reliable with out sacrificing flavor.

Favorite Recipe – Red Sauce

 

 

Around my French Table by Dorie Greenspan

Around my French Table
by Dorie Greenspan

Why I like it – I honestly couldn’t put it down.  It’s enormous and filled with stories, history and recipes.  The recipes are everything from rustic potato gratin to elegant honey spiced madeleines, all while maintaining the story.

Favorite Recipe – okay so this is more like one I want to try that I just haven’t gotten to recipe, Salted Butter Break-ups!

 

Thug Kitchen by Thug Kitchen

Thug Kitchen
by Thug Kitchen

Why I like it – It’s new healthy ways to use things I already love, which is inspiring.   Truth be told, I was half way through it before I realized it was vegan.   Be warned not a cookbook for family time, they cuss profusely,  but another truth be told – it cracks me up!

Favorite Recipe – Basic Maple Granola

More Orchids

It’s that time of year where I put pictures of my orchids on my blog for no reason other than I’m proud of myself.

Boaty McBoat Project

Husband: I want a boat!
Me: Take a class make sure you like it.
Husband: Okay…….. (two moths later) I love sailing, I want a sailboat!
Me: *sigh* okay
Husband: this one is in our budget
Me: ugh
Husband: All it needs is paint
Me: okay
Husband: (7 months later and a lot more than just paint) tada
Me:  SMILE