Orchids, Bonsai and Tacos

Plants, plants, and food. Yep sounds like the perfect date, which is exactly what it was. So the last Friday I was in Pennsylvania dad and I decided we needed to do something touristy. We already knew we were meeting friends ‘in the city’ for dinner so the Phipps Conservatory seemed like the right idea. Thus – into Pittsburgh we went.

Built in 1983 the Phipps is constantly in the state of evolution and – quite literally – growth. Showing off the glass they installed last summer, that gorgeous Victorian greenhouse was just shimmering. “Look me, I’m so pretty.” The main room, receiving the most restoration, had a delightful crisp proud feel about it.

In the middle of the Pittsburgh winter is the annual Phipps orchid and bonsai show. There were orchids everywhere, beautifully arranged in towering planters, delightful hanging arrangements, and tucked into the crooks of trees – truly everywhere. Even the Orchid Room seemed brighter than usual, if that’s possible.

Then, in a room all to themselves, were the bonsai – each perched on their own pedestals demonstrating just how special and cultivated they were. I learned something interesting about the bonsai on display; during the warmer months there is a bonsai garden outside, however these trees were not part of that collection. In fact, the only time they were on display was for this specific show. They spend the rest of their time squirreled away in the greenhouse, getting fussed on by the in house horticulturists.

From there we headed over to Union Grill to meet friends, enjoy some local brews and have the biggest fish taco I’ve ever eaten. It was just this mammoth piece of fish, on a flour tortilla, with this overflow of taco goodness; corn salsa, cheese, spicy something and this citrus cilantro creme sauce that just put it over the top. I’m not a food photo person so you will just have to trust me, and full disclosure I ate all of it.

So with an overly stuffed belly I was all – hey friends we are going back to the Phipps to walk(waddle) around during the special after dark hours, wanna come with? I was thrilled they said yes.

On we all went to waddle through the exhibits, spending time enthralled with the giant train set. That’s when my friend Chelsea, with what I can only explain as the exuberance of a child, proclaimed herself queen of the diorama.

So that about sums up our day in the city. Plants, plants, tacos, royalty and more plants. Till next time!

Snowflakes, Waterfalls and a Fritatta

Snowflakes, waterfalls and a fritatta; That pretty much sums up this past week visiting with my dad in Pennsylvania.
It has snowed and snowed and snowed, I didn’t think it was gonna stop. The sun was bright and beautiful Tuesday and that was about it. It’s pretty to look at but I will be happy to hop off that plane in NC, take in the ocean breeze and not see another flake! Sorry western PA peeps.

In between snow showers we went for an icy slip and slide hike at McConnells Mill State Park. The Mill is on the Slippery Rock Creek, the park boasts miles of hiking trails with views of the creek, the old mill and covered bridges. We actually saw kayakers making their was through the, I can only assume, frigid rapids. According the parks and rec site, the rapids are class II but can be up to IV depending on the water level, icy cold washing machine – no thanks, y’all have fun with that. Noticeable along the trail were old millstones, visible (kinda dead middle in the photo) was the hole in the center the stone and grooves where the grain was ground.

We also stopped long enough to take photos at scenic overlooks and my favorite spot on the trail, Kildoo falls. So many icicles.

Then came the eggy cheesy goodness of a frittata, traditionally a Spanish dish it’s like a crustless quiche. I filled mine with caramelized onions, roasted red peppers, ham and finished it off with sharp cheddar cheese. Warm, fluffy and just delightful when served with a fresh green salad.

So that’s it, slight divergence from my typical five things Friday posts but still in keeping with the idea that there are always little things that make my week. I hope your week was filled with family, fond memories and food. Cheers.

Five Things Friday

Five little things that made my week (late edition).

  1. We spent the day visiting with my Aunt and Uncle! She had me at beer, cheesecake, and petting the dogs.
  2. The snow stopped. That’s about all I can say regarding the weather this week in western PA.
  3. They did the thing, they are getting married! For now they shall be knows as they, until they are ready to tell the rest!
  4. My husband sent me flowers while I am out of town. So lovely, especially with the ugly crummy weather up here.
  5. I made delicious chicken noodle soup. Just simple and savory chicken soup, no fussy prep and completely satisfying.

Five things Friday

Technically these were all last week but I didn’t have internet on Friday, also some aren’t so little. Five big things that made my week?

1. I flew from NC to PA; two flights and the seat next to me were empty. Although it’s nice to have a some conversation to make the time pass, it was equally nice to be left with my thoughts. What wasn’t nice – the fog, this was about 60 seconds before we landed.


2. We had a great time celebrating Gram’s 92nd birthday. Like I said, these aren’t all little things – 92 years! She has the stories to go with it too!


3. Snow – I got to see snow. Down south we get at least one annual nasty ice storm and perhaps a light dusting, but not pretty on the trees snow. Glad I don’t have to drive in it.

4. New career developments that I’m intentionally being vague about, but they have an office dog. Whhhhaaaaaa?

5. Spending time with my Dad, I’m enjoying my visit and his company.

Five things Friday

Five little things that made my week.

1. Date night -trowing sharp things and drinking beer. Yes we drank beer at the same time we threw axes, yes we had to sign a waiver, yes I was terrible and yes I had a great time.

2. A not so little thing; I launched my printable Etsy shop. Anyone that has followed my blog knows sewing was a huge passion and what I featured in my Etsy shop for many years. So what prompted this very different side hustle? Sewing for other people just isn’t as much fun as, well sewing for fun. So I decided on something a little more passive. To learn more about the launch click here.

3. My mom started a job on Thursday. I’m beyond thrilled for her and this new chapter. She is nervous, excited and taking the challenge head on. Way to go mom!

4. This time next week I’ll be visiting family in PA. It’s my grandmothers 92 birthday Feb 7th. I don’t think this needs much more of a joyful explanation than that.

5. Anyone that has lost a pup knows how much that absence puts an ache in your heart. Anyone with a pup knows how full your heart can be from tail wags, nose kisses, dirty car windows, poop laden yards and the occasional ninja tongue up the nose maneuver. My friend is again adding that to her life, times two. She is getting an instant pack/herd/collection this weekend by adding two new pups for a total of three little floofs. Yippie Floofs!

Side Hustle

Launched my new Etsy shop – keep reading to find out what the heck I was thinking or just click here to see what the fuss is about.

Anyone that knows me or has spent a hot min on my blog can tell you I love to sew. The joy of picking through the fabric stash with all that potential, the gentle hum of the machine, the occasional well placed curse word. Spend time reading my sewing tutorials and you will no doubt find a rabbit trail to my Etsy shop. My shop featured reusable paper towels, cocktail napkins and washable kitchen sponges. After about two years I reluctantly came to the conclusion – sewing for others and trying to maintain an inventory sucked the fun out of my hobby. I was bummed but still decided closing up and pursuing something else was in order. I kept my shop, but it sat empty for about a year.

Fast forward a bit, I changed the shop name to match my blog, cause you know type A over here likes the matchy matchy. I tried really hard to convince myself that something belonged in the inventory. However, there was this constant nagging issue with me – a very inconsistent schedule made anything that required consistent attention a terrible side hustle. In walked the digital solution, quite literally. I’m not a photoshop ‘make me look skinny and like that dog isn’t peeing on the bushes’ genius, but I had been making printables for a few years. Little expansion that that idea and poof – Etsy shop launch. So if you made it this far ( spoiler alert) favorite the shop and get a coupon. Keep checking back for updates.

polka dot to do list, instant download
Vacation planning bundle, instant download.
Anchors away, instant download.

I must use my powers for good!

I love Mondays and always have. They are just marvelous, it’s like a fresh start with the week ahead, renewed aspirations and fancy schmancy thoughts. Friday is nice and all but lately the “air” feels stale by then; contaminated by plans gone askew, missed deadlines and run away budgets (boo). Monday is always a chance for a newfangled week.

With this new week comes responsibility – I must use my powers for good and not evil. The Task Master and The Stress Monkey; two of my strongest most prevalent personality traits. Monday is the day I get to exploit both of these “powers” with the hopes of a thoroughly satisfying and productive week. I try to harness the energy and enthusiasm of the task master and the endless imagination of the stress monkey.

If I let the task master take the lead, I’ll work myself into the ground and although having accomplished much, I’m exhausted come Friday. Instead I try to use this trait to be mindful of the mission, always keeping the large goal and the nitty gritty in appropriate focus creating balance. This gives me the ability to (hopefully) devise a smart plan, ripe with clear and simple goals.

The stress monkey – oh that biddy and her run away imagination will take me down so many rabbit trails, I will sacrifice any sense of normalcy. Translation: I drive myself and my husband crazy. Of all my “powers” this is probably the hardest to harness, it’s so easy to get on that stress train and ride it clear to the next station. Instead I try to reign in the stowaway and use the resourcefulness to come up with clever solutions allowing for flexibility.  

I don’t always get it right, sometimes I do use my powers for evil.  The task master won’t step back from the list long enough to make prudent and wise decisions for triage, or the stress monkey freaks out and starts flinging poo wrecking the place.  Not every week is without it’s fires, see listed of “boo hiss” happenings, but keeping my powers in perspective helps.

Now here is a picture of my truck freshly washed.

Five Things Friday

Five little things that made my week.
1. I laughed, a lot. Television shows, celebrity interviews, memes, friends, husband, dogs, my clumsy self, with, at…I didn’t discriminate. I was out of control.
2. Went to the NC Museum of Art with my husband to see the O’Keeffe exhibit The Beyond. Delightful doesn’t even begin to describe it.
3. Had breakfast at my favorite little place, The Famous Toastery. I walk in, sit in my spot, and coffee magically appears, who doesn’t love that.
4. My sister in law headed home on Tuesday. Even thought I was bummed to see her head home I reflected back on an enjoyable time with family.
5. Found a pair of boots for my up and coming trip to PA. This made my week because they are warm, cute and they were $30.

Mediterranean Orzo Salad

A few nights ago we had company and I was looking for an easy dinner. We started with hummus, moved to grilled chicken and orzo salad. Finished it up with homemade baklava. I made everything ahead of time, except the chicken which I tossed on the grill when we were ready to settle down and eat. Being able to visit with company instead of buzzing around the kitchen was wonderful.

Since the menu included apps and a desert I decided having a side that doubles as the veggie and the starch was in order. Which brings us to the orzo salad.

There is nothing in this recipe that can’t be eyeballed, you really don’t have to measure anything, honest. Start by cooking the orzo al dente, it’s going to keep cooking a little and if it’s over cooked it won’t soak up all the flavors. While it’s still warm dress it with lemon juice, lemon zest and olive oil. Set this aside to meld the flavors and let it cool a little.

The next part is terribly hard (sarcasm) cut up all the veggies and herbs. Slice the grape tomatoes length wise. Chop the spinach but don’t go all wild with the knife, bruise it and wreck it, in fact if you have the patience; chiffonade. Do the same to the basil, bruised basil is ugly. Thinly slice the onion, green and white parts. Chop the dill, I had fresh the first time I made this but dry is perfectly fine.


Once the pasta has cooled slightly mix all of the veggies, herbs and feta cheese with the orzo. If you make it the day of it’s perfectly fine to let it sit on the counter until it’s time to eat. The salad does taste better if it’s allowed to rest overnight in the fridge, allowing the flavors to mush together, and then come to room temperature to serve. This can be made two days ahead of time – however, wait until serving to add the basil, otherwise it will brown in the fridge.

Spectacular served with grilled chicken or fish. Enjoy!

Print Recipe
Mediterranean Orzo Salad
Lemony, herby and pretty.
Prep Time 20 min
Servings
4 servings
Prep Time 20 min
Servings
4 servings
Instructions
  1. Cook the orzo al dente, it should yield about four cups
  2. While the orzo is still warm add the lemon juice, zest and olive oil. Stir to combine. Let the orzo sit aside and soak up all the flavors.
  3. Slice the maters length wise, chop the spinach (but try not to brutalize it), chiffonade the basil, finely chop the dill and slice the onion (white part too).
  4. Gently mix the orzo, veggies, herbs and feta together. Season to taste
Recipe Notes

Let the salad sit overnight in the fridge.  Since it's best served at room temperature or with a slight chill plan ahead; pull it out a few hours before it's time to serve.  

Five Things Friday

Five little things that made my week

1. Being recognized and a valuable team member at work. Who doesn’t get the warm fuzzies from that.
2. I cooked; a lot! I made stir fry, baked chicken, ahhhhmazing roasted taters and a Tuscan pasta chicken casserole bake something.
3. My sister in law came to visit. She is the she to my nanigans, so you know we are having fun.
4. Booked tickets to go to PA for my Gram’s 92 Birthday!! I don’t think I have to explain why that is exciting.
5. The weather, although cold now was gorgeous and in the 70s at the beginning of the week. Sunny, warm and clear.