Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Cupcake Apron

Here are a few pictures of Elizabeth to help move your Wednesday along!

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Elizabeth, Alex & Zach playing before bedtime. They all had a blast playing and swimming together! Lucky me, they all had pretty smiles for this quick picture!

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Elizabeth loves wearing her cupcake apron from Aunt Kate! We haven’t done much actual cooking in it though…it’s still so nice and clean!

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Ah, yes…if only “playing” house and ironing were as much fun as she makes it look! We can’t do our housework without our apron on! I’m not sure what she’s doing with the comb on the blanket, I think it was just nearby at her vanity.

It hasn’t rained here now for 2 days, woo hoo! Maybe things will dry up a bit so we can mow our jungle! Hope y’all have a great rest of the week!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Spanish Rice

Spanish rice is one of my go-to side dishes when we’re having Mexican food. The stuff in the pouch is great for when you don’t have a lot of time to prepare a meal, but when I do have time (and especially when I’ve done my menu plan!) this is the Spanish rice I turn to. Lots of great flavor and plenty of leftovers!


You’ll need: white rice, canola oil (veg will do, too), yellow onion, bell pepper, garlic, tomato puree, salt, chicken broth, frozen peas.

Oil & Rice

Add the oil to a large skillet. I use my 12” skillet for a whole batch. Turn the heat to medium high and then add the rice. Stir to coat all of the rice in the oil.

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Sauté the rice until it turns a golden brown color. This will take 10-15 minutes.

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Keep sautéing until the rice is nice and brown. I went the entire 15 minutes. Stir frequently! In the last 5 minutes, I stir constantly. Just keep the rice moving some so it doesn’t burn the grains on the bottom.

Adding Onion & Bell Pepper

Chop the onion and bell pepper into large 1” pieces. Add them to the rice and sauté for another 5-10 minutes until  the vegetables are nice and tender.

Adding Ingredients

Add the minced garlic and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Then add the salt, chicken broth and tomato puree.


Stir until combined and bring to a boil.


Boil, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.


After 2 minutes, put the lid on and turn the heat down to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes.


After 20 minutes, turn off the heat, add the frozen peas, stir them in and put the lid on for an additional 5 minutes.


After 5 minutes, remove the lid, give the rice another quick stir and serve!




Serve next to your favorite Mexican dish…we were having tacos that night. This rice would be really good if you were making “Freebirds” Burritos, too! Hmm…now I have a craving!

Oh, well! Here’s the full recipe!

Spanish Rice

  • 2 cups long grain white rice
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped into 1” pieces
  • 1 bell pepper, any color, chopped into 1” pieces
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (or 3 heaping teaspoons of garlic powder")
  • 3/4 cup tomato puree
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 3/4 cups chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup frozen peas

Add the oil to a 12” skillet and put the heat on medium high. Add the rice and sauté until golden brown, between 10-15 minutes. Add the onion and bell pepper and continue sautéing for another 5-10 minutes, until the vegetables are soft.

Add the minced garlic and sauté for 2-3 more minutes. Add the tomato puree, chicken broth, and salt, turn the heat up and bring to a full boil, stirring constantly. Continue to boil for 2 minutes, still stirring!

Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, turn off the heat, add the frozen peas, stir them into the rice, cover again for an additional 5 minutes.

After 5 minutes, give the rice another quick stir and serve!

*This recipe makes a ton of rice! I usually cut the recipe in half when I’m making it for us. Seriously, this recipe makes about 9 cups of “finished” rice!


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Elizabeth Fix

We have been very busy. I realize I say that a lot. But we have! Just this afternoon, we got back home from working in The Valley. Elizabeth has become quite the traveler! Not always a happy one…but I guess that’s why Aunt Kate let her have her portable DVD player.

Here are a few pictures of Elizabeth “working” at our Chinese Tallow site.


See the dirt face? She’s hard at work!


Elizabeth next to the trees. They’re huge!


Checking things out.


Climbing up…


Really, Momma? So many pictures??


She’s got her arms up in the air saying, “Big Girl!”


I keep my baseball cap on my chair at the dining table and Elizabeth likes to put it on…


…and take it off!








This went on for quite a while while I snapped pictures. She was just having a good time giggling!


Just thought y’all could use some pictures to get your Elizabeth Fix!

Have a great week!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Yard Work

We have just finished up redoing all of the flower beds around the house. It took us awhile, but it was all so worth the time!

I have a hard time remembering what our house actually looked like when we first bought it because things are so different now. We have spent many hours taking out bushes, trees, rocks (yes rocks…all kinds…small boulders, gravel, lava rocks…all partially hidden by layers of dirt, grass, plants, etc.), and so many concrete border pieces as seen around the bushes in the picture below. We’ve also sprigged grass where it needed it, hauled in countless loads of soil and compost, and installed new edging.

And then there are the plants. We went back and forth many times over what should, would, and could be planted in these beds around the house. We built up a small nursery of plants and watched for plant sales. We did our homework and sketched our design.

Although flower beds are never really “finished”, we have completed the first hurdle: getting the beds installed and planted.

We are so happy with the result!


This photo was taken before the house was “ours”.


This is after we did some major trimming last fall/winter. We had already removed some of the shrubs and had planted some things into one of the flower beds. We’ve even changed up what is in that bed since this photo was taken.


This photo starts the “after” shots! I know it doesn’t look like much now, but that’s because all of the plants are small and haven’t reached full size.


Purple fountain grass, Lantana, and Dianthus are what’s in this bed. The Lantana will grow much larger next year and we won’t have to plant as many annuals.


Purple fountain grass, Plumbago, Hibiscus President & Sunny Wind, Wandering Jew, Society Garlic, a few Dianthus transplants from the other flower bed, and Split-Leaf Philodendrons.


I know it looks a little sparse now, but the plants will grow to fill the space and I will probably not plant any annuals in this bed next year.



The side flower bed has Pink and Blue Hydrangeas and Variegated Flax (moved from the first front flower bed). We’re still on the lookout for the perfect plant to go in the space between the windows and have a few ideas.



This hibiscus ‘Sunny Wind’ was planted in the bed a couple of weeks after we finished the flower bed. We had been watching for a yellow hibiscus with a red throat and I finally found one at HEB. It is really the perfect compliment to the reds, blues, and purples that are in that bed.


Since it has gotten established, it has been a constant bloomer! The flowers are 4-6” and are just gorgeous. We’ve been getting one flower a day from this beauty for the last week!



I had to throw in a picture of the red hibiscus ‘President’. The blooms are a little smaller than the yellow, but we’ve also been getting constant blooms off of these two plants.

I am constantly amazed how much enjoyment we get out of the hard work we have been doing to revamp this old tired place. Seeing the results of another project finished makes me want to jump right into another one!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

This week has gotten off to a rainy start! The rain will keep us down in cooler temperatures for a couple of days and I’ve been craving some cooler-weather meals. Bring on the chili!

Here’s what’s on our menu this week:

  • Stir-fry; Rice
  • Chili (from the Pioneer Woman’s Cookbook)
  • Pizza
  • Roasted Chicken; Broccoli; Brown rice
  • Rib-eye steaks; Green beans; Sweet potato spears; Salad
  • Roast; Gravy; Mashed potatoes; Carrots; Broccoli

I hope you have a great week!