Saturday, June 30, 2012

Gift wrap organizer

This makes me smile :) No, not the carpet, the gift wrap organizer!! The carpet, we grin and bear it!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Organization, retail therapy and other things that make me happy :D

I love organization. Not necessarily the process of doing it, but that amazing, accomplished feeling when I'm done, knowing that you could ask me where to find anything and I could easily and effortlessly find it. So needless to say, I LOVE the Container Store. It takes SO much restraint not to spend all the money in the world in that store, it just seems like there are SO many things I could organize and SO many things I need to buy in order to start :P Well, yesterday felt like day 15 of this week, which has been slowly plodding by, and when I got off work a little earlier than usual, I thought some retail therapy might help. So I stopped by Cost Plus World Market and bought some lovely paper lanterns for our balcony (which is sloooooooooooowly coming together, but I am already enjoyed in it's unfinished state). As a bonus, they were on sale!
Birds of Paradise Battery-Operated Lanterns, Pack of 4 | World Market

Then, much to my delight, I made my inaugural visit to the new Container Store that just opened this month, less than 10 minutes from my house. Sigh. True happiness. And in my quest for organization, I purchased a gift wrap organizer. I put everything in it when I got home, and sighed with pure happiness and contentment! I will have to post a pic of it later, since the one I bought isn't on their website, but I went to bed a very happy girl, knowing my gift wrap, gift bags, tissue paper and ribbons finally had a compact, convenient place to call home. Retail therapy works! :)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Why is it that whenever summer arrives, my motivation levels dip dangerously low? I don't want to clean, I don't want to get out of bed, I don't want to cook, I don't want to do laundry, I don't want to ANYTHING! I'd blame the heat (which can be draining), but so far we've had some lovely, sunny but mild days. Maybe it's leaving for work, seeing all the kids out of school and riding their bikes through the streets. Maybe it's a side effect of having been sick last week and still trying to recover? Whatever the reason, I need to find my motivation ~ energy! Either that, or I'm going to have to start drinking coffee again. A LOT of it!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Weekend houseguests and banana bread

You know those kinds of recipes that you can totally bake on autopilot? Aunt Holly's Banana Bread recipe is one of those for me. So easy, delicious, and yummy! With houseguests in town for the weekend and a few bananas that were kind of past the stage of overripe, we spent a relaxing day on Saturday hanging out with friends and inhaling the delicious, heavenly sent of this tasty treat baking. I may or may not have (ok I did) added an extra egg by mistake, due to my preoccupation with chatting with our guests, and it STILL worked out perfectly! So rather than throwing away those way (waaaaaaaaaaay) too ripe bananas, take 5 minutes to make a batch of this. Perfect for sharing with houseguests, or keeping it all to yourself :)

Aunt Holly's Banana Bread

Aunt Holly's Banana Bread From Epicurious

3 medium-sized bananas, overly ripe
¼ cup of butter, melted
1 ½ cup of all-purpose flour
1 cup of white sugar (I always use a little less and find it plenty sweet enough, even without choc chips)
1 large egg, beaten
1 tsp. of baking soda
¼ tsp. of salt
Optional additions: chocolate chips (milk, dark, even white chocolate is divine), walnuts, or shredded coconut

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 9 inch loaf pan with parchment paper, leaving about 2 inches hanging off the sides.
2. In a large bowl, mash bananas. Add all the ingredients but the additions. Mix well (until all the flour is gone).
3. Stir in the additions, until just combined. Pour into loaf pan and even out the top with a spatula.
4. Bake in oven for 50-60 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. If top of bread begins to brown but the inside isn't done yet, tent the top with foil and continue baking.
5. When ready, allow to cool in pan for 30 minutes. Lift out with parchment paper, continue cooling until banana bread is firm to cut into (about 20 minutes).


Saturday, June 16, 2012

Our tour de Tucson

Sometimes when you live in a place, you never fully appreciate the wonderful things that make it so unique. Other times, the fact that the high temperatures soar over 90 degrees for five or six months of the year far outweighs any other factor :) Whatever the case, now that we live in Southern California, our little trips to Arizona fill our hearts with a little nostalgia, and love for the town we both used to live in. This past week, we had the opportunity to see the city and some of it's main attractions through the eyes of first-timers who were visiting with us. Here are some of the things we saw and places we went - you should ABSOLUTELY put a few of these on your list if you'll be visiting Tucson anytime soon :)

The moment our tires roll into town, Eegees is on the top of our to-do list. Only found in Tucson (and according the their website, also Casa Grande now!), this locally beloved chain of sandwich shops is more famous for their delicious frozen shaved ice fruit drinks (known as an Eegee), and their ranch fries. 

'A' Mountain

A great look-out for a view of the entire city!

Guero Canelo
A true American dream success story! What began in 1993 as a little Sonoran hot dog stand on the southside of Tucson is now a chain of hot dog stands and restaurants. Their tacos and tortas are delicious, their soda comes in glass bottles, and their hot dogs are the best I've ever had. And yes, I have tried an LA danger dog. :)

 San Javier Mission
The mission is part of Tucson's fascinating history and makes for an interesting visit, although it was ridiculously hot on the day we stopped by. If you're lucky, you can even try fry bread made by local vendors!

 Home of the yummiest breakfast burritos, tasty tacos, and 24 hour late night greasy Mexican food!

Just wandering around next to our rental car. Also coyotes and javelina if you're lucky!

There are other great places to visit, like El Charro Cafe, the Desert Museum, Seven Falls (a great hike but NOT in the summer), the University of Arizona campus and Beyond Bread (best sandwiches anywhere ever!!)... But between catching up with family and friends and visiting a few of our favorite places, the week flew by! It's always a little sad to leave, but with high temperatures set to hit 110 next week, that kind of gave us a little motivation for the drive home! :)

Monday, June 11, 2012


Well, I've been busy getting ready for a week in AZ, and one of my concerns was that the two juicy orangish tomatoes growing on my patio would ripen while I was away. Thankfully, the timing was right and they were ready to pick before I left, so I HAD to make this delicious tomato tart. YUM! The recipe is included below, although it's so easy, it's not really a recipe.
This picture doesn't really do it justice, and is upside down because I am frustrated with my technology today and no matter how hard I tried to flip the pic, I couldn't succeed... But you get the idea ;P

Mustard (coarse grain)
Parmesan cheese (shaved or grated)
Tomatoes (preferably juicy and delicious :P)
Puff pastry
Salt and pepper

Heat oven to 400. Thaw the puff pastry on the counter for 10 minutes, or in the fridge for several hours. Cut to the size you plan to use. Line baking tray with parchment paper (I am lazy and hate scrubbing trays, so I always do this :P). Spread a layer of mustard over the puff pastry, almost all the way to the edges. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the mustard. Thinly slice the tomatoes, and arrange on the crust. Add a little sea salt, and pepper to take, then sprinkle with a little more Parmesan. Bake until the crust is done - about 15 minutes.

Fresh basil would probably be delicious, but I didn't have any and this was still a very tasty pre-airport treat!! :)

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Sonos ~ the sweeeeeeeet sound of success!!

Now I'm not techno-genius, but I'm pretty proficient with setting up computers and wireless technology. We have wireless internet and a wireless printer hooked up at our house, and I have been wanting to set up some kind of wireless, Airplay music system for a while now. After a lot of research, I have come to the conclusion that the ideal system just doesn't exist yet, and that every wireless music system has some limitations, since this is a relatively new concept, so we took a little leap and bought an iHome iW2 about two weeks ago. I tried for hours to set this thing up and make it work, called tech support and had them walk me through the set up (which was pointless, as they just told me over and over 'No, the light should be green, not red and flashing' and I just replied 'I KNOW what it should be, but it's NOT'!!!), and finally gave up. I figured anything so difficult to set up would probably also be difficult to use. So I returned it and purchased the necessary components to set up the Sonos system in my house. Only to discover I needed a newer operating system on my computer in order to use the Sonos controller. Sooooo I ordered the system upgrade, backed up my files (in case the computer crashed during the upgrade), installed the upgrade (without incident - phew!), and set up Sonos. Which was a BREEZE - honestly, a child could do it. Well maybe not a child, but an adult capable of reading and following simple directions. It works like a dream, sounds so crisp and makes me feel clever since I was able to handle set up without calling in the geek squad. Seems easy to add other components too, so we'll have to figure out what else we need for the rest of the house! But for now, my little Sonos system doesn't just play music to my ears... It sounds like the sweet, sweet sound of SUCCESS!!!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Ladybug migration

After a really busy weekend, I puttered around my little garden this morning and noticed that there seems to have been a bit of a migration. The ladybugs are either VERY good at hiding, or they've left the building. Alas. I guess I'd better start researching other organic methods for getting rid of garden pests!! Because I want some TOMATOES and those little aphids aren't stealing them all!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Breakfast from my garden!

I am a realist, and I know that it's unlikely that I'll ever eat a meal that comes entirely from my little garden. But I LOVE the idea of incorporating some things I've grown myself into my meals and this is why I battle the aphids :) Maybe it's because I am the daughter of hippies, or perhaps because my grandfather is a farmer... At any rate, it made me very happy to add strawberries from my little rooftop garden to my delicious fruit salad I had for breakfast! Yum! :)