Friday, March 29, 2013

Spicy Tomato Dill Soup

Don't forget to enter the giveaway for the autographed ARC of Dead, Without a Stone to Tell It!


My bestie Hannah came up from Florida for a visit this week. I was really hoping she'd bring warmth with her. It has been crazy cold. D was supposed to take the kids camping this week and they canceled because of the weather. Maybe we're just wimps.

Before heading out to dinner, Hannah and I had a bit of fun with the Easter Bunny.

The Bunny isn't my kid this time! And yes, we're just two big dorks

Then, it was time to get some eats in our bellies. It was one of those cold days where a bowl of soup just sounded really good. The restaurant had this absolutely delicious tomato dill soup that had a nice kick at the end. I had one bowl and wanted more. Of course I figured I could make it myself...

Spicy Tomato Dill Soup

6 garlic cloves, chopped
2 medium onions, diced
2 tbsp butter
1 C veg or chicken stock
3 cans  petite diced tomatoes
1 T dried dill (a good handful if you're using fresh)
1 T red pepper flakes
salt & pepper to taste
2 C half and half

In a large soup pot, melt butter over low heat. Sautee garlic and onions until tender. Add in tomatoes and stock. Simmer 30 minutes. 

Puree soup in a blender until desired texture. I prefer mine on the chunkier side. Return to soup pot and add in dill, pepper flakes, salt, pepper and half and half.  Heat through.

This soup is also wonderful chilled the next day.

linked up at:
tater tots and jello **cheerios and lattes **six sisters stuff ** weekend wonders ** create and inspire **rock n share **marvelous mondays ** busy mondays ** mop it up mondays **project inspired **salt tree social **whimsy wednesday ** back for seconds social ** wow us wednesday ** house of hepworths ** creative juice ** your creative timeout ** Foodie Friends Friday ** It's overflowing **

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Book Giveaway!

Did you  know this month is my 5 YEAR blogaversary?

I know, right?

 That's pretty crazy.

I really wanted to do a cool giveaway to honor this event. In fact, I've been waiting several years to do this very giveaway.


I'll explain. 

A few years ago, my friend Jen mentioned she was writing a book. I like to read. I offered to give some feedback on the book....and it was pretty awesome. I enjoy forensic science TV shows and books. In fact, if I turn up dead, our DVR will probably make my husband look very guilty.

Anyway, Jen let me and a few others read the book. Lots of editing. Lots of time. And what shows up in my mailbox?  An Advanced Reader Copy of Jen's book, Dead,  Without a Stone to Tell It  which is currently available for pre-order on Amazon!

How freaking COOL is that???

Just about as cool as this:

Woohooo! I'm in the acknowledgments!

I really enjoyed Jen's book in its early stages and I wasn't at all surprised when she told us it would be published. The final version is even better. I can't wait to read the next in the series (hint, hint, Jen!)

From the teaser on the back of the book:

When a human bone is found on a lonely stretch of coastline, a determined homicide detective and a reluctant scientist risk their lives as they join forces to bring a serial killer to justice. Trooper Leigh Abbott has something to prove, both to herself and to the chauvinistic men in her department. She's been assigned a difficult challenge: solve a murder where the only evidence is a single bone. To identify the victim and find the killer, she must join forces with forensic anthropologist Matt Lowell. Matt's initial refusal to join the team is only the first in a series of setbacks. Matt and Leigh's skills and tenuous partnership are tested when the evidence leads them to a burial ground of unidentified victims, where, to their horror, they stumble upon a freshly ravaged corpse. As the body count rises, the team must piece together a deadly puzzle spanning years of clandestine killings. Before long, the serial killer raises the stakes and Matt and Leigh find themselves marked as targets. Now they must stop the killer before they become the next victims.


You don't have to wait until June to get your very own autographed advanced reader copy. Just enter the Rafflecopter below! The drawing ends April 5.

linked up at:

salt tree social **

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Spring Pin Inspiration Party!

Spring is definitely here. I have that tingle in my tummy that makes me want to skip down the sidewalk, take off my shoes to feel grass between my toes and drive with the windows open. Oh Spring Fever, how I love you! In addition to my happy mood, the other indicator that spring has arrived is the images I'm seeing on Pinterest where the food has become fresher and lighter and the crafts are bright with color and full of whimsy. What a great time to do some Pin'Inspiring! First, a lovely recipe from one of my co-hosts. Jane shares this gorgeous recipe for Pink Breakfast Muffins.
Recipes and Crafts for Spring: Pink Breakfast Muffins from Jane's Adventures in Dinner
See, I told you: Bright colors abound! And keeping with those bright colors, I'd like to share my recipe for Raspberry Canapés with Basil and Balsamic. Super pretty and super easy to make!
Recipes and Crafts for Spring: An Easy Appetizer Recipe for Spring: Raspberry Canapés with Basil and Balsamic
Before I move onto the features from last week's links, I'd also like to let you know that Micki has an Iron Chef Mom Peeps battle going on. If you have a Peeps recipe (or any other marshmallow recipe) to share, head over here to link up. Marshmallows! Yum!

And now onto this week's Feverish Features with some fresh and fun recipes and crafts for spring.

Are your toes like mine? Are they aching to kick off their shoes and feel the tickle of warm summer grass? Get your tootsies ready for the season with this Coconut Brown Sugar Scrub from Imprintalish. I know it's for my feet but I totally want to eat this with a spoon. (Not recommended!)
Recipes and Crafts for Spring: Coconut Brown Sugar Scrub from Imprintalish
Looking for a simple spring craft? I love how these Burlap Bunny Ear Napkin Rings by Uncommon Designs are so neutral allowing your colorful spring napkins to really shine. Purdy.
Recipes and Crafts for Spring: Burlap Bunny Ear Napkin Rings by Uncommon Designs
And finally, it could not be spring without Spring Rolls. I hate to admit it but I have never actually make this kind of soft spring roll before. I've eaten them. Plenty of them! But haven't made them myself. I'm determined to give a try some time soon. I'll share my recipe if it turns out. Until then, here's a beautiful version of Fresh Spring Rolls Filled with Vietnamese Chicken and Avocado from Half Baked Harvest.
Recipes and Crafts for Spring: Fresh Spring Rolls with Vietnamese Chicken and Avocado by Half Baked Harvest
Now, show me how Spring Fever is infecting you. Add your best spring link to the link party below.

Rules To Party By:

  • Before you link up to the party, you must follow all of the hosts on Facebook. Jane, Micki, Marilyn and Me (Christine).
  • Please visit at least two other links from below and leave some comment love!
  • If you love comments, make sure you have captcha/word verification turned off!
  • Please don’t link up your etsy store or giveaway.
  • Spread the word about the party! The more the merrier!

Welcome to the Spring Fever Link Party! Link up now!


Monday, March 25, 2013

Iron Chef Mom: Battle Peeps

This is up late tonight because I've been busy at work. Who knew the bunny photo business would be so crazy?

Speaking of bunnies...I love marshmallow bunnies covered in sugar, also known as Peeps! It's like  pure sugar covered in sugar. Mmmmmm

Peeps aren't just for eating. Some people make whole Peep-scapes rather than eating them. It's really food you can play with.

And that's why this week, we're doing Battle Peeps. You don't have to just make fun eats, make fun scenes, too! Show off your Peep Creativity!

If you don't like peeps, well...any marshmallow recipe will do :)

Without further's the winner of Iron Chef Mom battle: Carrots

Tumbleweed Contessa's 25 Carrots Cake!

Our runner up is Fantastical Sharing of Recipes Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls

Finally, our Hosts' Favorite

A Pretty Life in the Suburbs Carrot Cake Pancakes!

As much as I detest carrots, these winning recipes might just make it in to my tummy.

Now it's time  to see who is going to win Battle of the Peeps!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Pin Inspiration Party March 20

Another week has flown by. We had a complete fake out Spring day Monday. It was a gorgeous, sunny day with temps in the low 80s. Sadly, the weekend is bringing us cooler weather and more rain. I guess this means another weekend will go by without my planting a garden.

We had more than 140 projects linked up this week, which is just completely awesome. I am truly inspired each week by your projects.

The features this week are ones that are just close to my heart...things I would totally do in a heartbeat if I could. I hope you take the time to check out the projects, ideas and inspirations and try something new!

The first feature is an idea I totally wish I would have thought of. After my ill-fated attempt at cake pops, I think I may have to start making Sewing Barefoot's "Fake" Pops instead!

As someone who has sensitivities and allergies to chemicals used in cleaning products, I really love it when someone spreads the word about making your own cleaners! Sweet Parrish Place shares some "Back to Basics" with using vinegar around the house.

Our final feature for the week is ChicBy Tab's Mint dresser. I'm loving the mint and white combo! It's totally fresh and gives a very dated piece a great new look.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Hide your veggies brownies

There are very few vegetables I've met that I haven't liked.

Last night, for example, I roasted 2.5 lbs of asparagus and there wasn't enough left for D's lunch. The kids pretty much inhaled it.

Brussels Sprouts? My mom never made them and when I tried them for the first time as an adult, I had to wonder what all the hate was about.

And peas...for a long time I grew up thinking I hated peas. When I tried them fresh for the first time, it was love at first bite. Next, I tried fresh cooked and came to the shocking realization that I didn't hate peas...I just hated canned peas.

The first time I made collard greens, it was a complete disaster. As a family, we sat around the table looking at the boiled pile of green in the middle of the table. None of us wanted to take the first bite. I made everyone take a fork full and then I counted to five so we could take the first bite together. We did it and ...we all promptly spit it out in unison. It was disgusting. Vile. Absolutely awful tasting as it smelled. No one told me I needed to rinse the greens in salt water before cooking.

It's been 10 years and I've never made them again. I will eat them when we go out and they are a staple on the school lunch menu, but  make them myself? No. Just no.

Out of all of this, I've taught my kids they aren't allowed to say they don't like a food. They are, however, allowed to say they don't like the way a food is prepared.  The difference is subtle, but it gives them the possibility that maybe one day, they may discover a food they once didn't like is suddenly good.

That's what happened to me with sweet potatoes. One Thanksgiving my Sister-in-Law, Linda, made this sweet potato casserole that really shouldn't even be classified as a casserole. It was so laden with butter and sugars that it was a dessert, but it contained a vegetable so it went out on the side dish table. It opened the gateway for my sweet potato love (Sonic now has sweet potato tots!!!) but I still will not ever touch sweet potatoes with marshmallows. 

But, there is one vegetable that no matter how it is prepared that I will not, cannot even stomach in a cooked form unless it is completely hidden: Carrots. I wish I could hide behind The Boy's stance that cooked vegetables have a weird texture that makes them completely inedible. I can't because it's only cooked carrots for which I have a deep loathing. The only food even more vile? Liver and onions. Yeah...that's how much I HATE cooked carrots.

The other Iron Chef Moms will attest that I put up a fight against carrots as the secret ingredient. I was gagging through recipe books trying to find something...anything... to make the carrot the shining star. But when a vegetable is so gross when its cooked as carrots, there's really not much you can do to help.

And so, I took the easy way out and adapted a recipe that hides vegetables in foods...and so I bring to you... These aren't very sweet, so if you'd like a sweeter brownie, add in an additional 1/2 C brown sugar.

Hidden Veggie Brownies

Nonstick cooking spray
3/4 C cocoa powder
3 T vegetable oil
1 large jar puree carrot baby food (about 1/2 C)
2 tablespoons soft tub margarine spread
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 large egg whites
3/4 all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1/2 C chocolate chips


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat an 8x8 inch baking pan with cooking spray.

2 . In a large bowl, combine cocoa powder, vegetable oil, baby food, sugar, margarine, and vanilla, and whisk until smooth an creamy, 1-2 minutes.

4. Whisk in egg whites. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt with a wooden spoon. Stir in chocolate chips

5. Pour the batter into the pan and bake 35-40 minutes. Cool completely in the pan before cutting into 12 bars.

Don't forget to come back HERE next week for battle...PEEPS! If you can't stand Peeps (something I just can't understand LOL) you can use marshmallows!

linked up at:

project inspired **  salt tree ** the scoop **whimsy wednesday ** work it wednesday **back for seconds **adorned from above **wildly original ** creative juice **

Friday, March 15, 2013

Easter grass and burlap wreath

This week was pretty big around here.

The Boy turned 16 Wednesday. He has his first real job and picked up his first real paycheck, with the accompanying reality check that he, too, has to pay in to pesky things like social security, medicare and...gulp... taxes. The shock on his face was pretty awesome. "Mom! I didn't make enough for them to take anything out!" And yet they did. I know we all know that pain very well LOL

Punky Bewester also lost her first tooth. After I reminded her that the tooth fairy requires rooms cleaned before she can visit, Punky looked at me and said "Mom, I know. Just give me the dollar. I can get it out of your purse."

I guess that's the price for being number 5 of 6! Nothing gets by that kid.

There are so many projects I've just been putting off this week because we've been so busy with The Boy and I working the bunny scene at the mall. But, today is Friday so Little Miss and I needed to do a craft. I manned the hot glue gun while she handed me the pieces to make these little pom pom chickies. My intention was to make a really cool wreath of Easter grass with a chick, eggs, and all the other fun Easter goodies.

When I got in to the project, I just didn't like how it looked. Gluing Easter grass to a wreath is a long process if you want it to look like something other than a hula skirt. I just don't have patience for that. Plan B involved wrapping the wreath in burlap, attaching Easter grass, and  hiding a few things in the grass. As I put it together, I realized less was really more...

linked up at:
House of Hepworths ** Tater Tots and Jello ** Cheerios and Lattes **  Keep Calm and Link Up **craftionary ** frugal friday **weekend wonders ** create & inspire **whimsy wednesday ** work it wednesday **adorned from above **wildly original ** creative juice **

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Pin Inspiration is here

Good evening lovely 
friends stopping in..
Hope things are well and your week has been amazing so far!
Welcome to another creative and inspiring evening of 
Pin'Inspirational Thursdays
Thanks to all who linked last week!
So much to see! Here are some favorites!
'In House From My Girls & I'
Micki shared this cute runner I love!
Jane shared  a pinky dessert that looks so yummy.
Christine amazed us with refreshing spring recipes ~ stop in.
I did a pretty sweet luxury spring shoot I'm keeping a secret.
I'll share a photo though, & to make things even sweeter, I landed
an amazing magazine spread & a series of website photo gigs! I'm so
thankful beyond words.. I might be a bit quiet here as my life is now full on
kids, work and lightroom, but you can see more of me via Instagram & even facebook!
I absolutely adore this girls room makeover.
Featured via Casa Haus
casahaus repisas frente
Half Baked Harvest  featured this beauty!
Fiesta Chicken Fajita Bowl
& don;t forget to snag yourself a beautiful bunny printable banner.
Thanks to the amazing blog I Should Be Mopping The Floor
Free Printable Bunny Banner from ishouldbemoppingthefloor{dot}com. Print as many as you like. Would be super cute with cotton balls on their bottoms! #Easter, #FreePrintable, #EasterPrintable
How Lovely Are These Features..? 
Little Teenie Party Rules To Please Observe
+ Please link your great projects - AS MANY AS YOU WANT!!
+ Please do follow myself and wonderful co-hosts Micki ,  Jane & Christine
+ Do snag a button if you are featured / spread the word...
Please link to an exact post so we can indulge in your featured creativity...
+ Tell a friend so they can join on in and be pin'inspired with us!
+Turning off word verification encourages others 
to comment on your wonderful projects.
Wishing You A HAPPY WEEK!!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Dishcloth tablerunner

I don't know about you, but whenever I go on vacation, I always need a few days to get back in to the swing of things.  It's hard to go back to reality when you had this incredible view from your cruise ship every time you woke up...

Doing my best Vanna White

While the cruise was a lot of fun, I'm glad to be back home with the kids (mostly, it was a rough morning).

I didn't plan much for craft day with Little Miss today because I'm hoping she'll join me outside this afternoon as I get the garden ready. It's looking very ugly. Ugly enough that I have no interest in keeping it real and showing a picture. You all know what winter does to gardens. No visuals necessary.

It was my turn to take over the dining room for a mom project. An easy one, because I'm still working on some big things in the reception hall. Just something to bring a bit of spring into the dining room...

This tablerunner is made from dishcloths: the cheap kind found at the dollar store.

My table seats 8-10 without the second leaf. I used 5 dishcloths and stitched them together with a zigzag stitch. The advantage of stitching it down this way is it is flat. If you do sides together, you end up with a seam.

If you select dishcloths with a directional pattern, make sure all the cloths you have match end to end. You don't want to end up with a straggler that doesn't quite match and have to hang off the end of the table people don't see unless they sit down. Not that I'd know anything about that.

linked up at: house of hepworths ** tater tots and jello **cheerios and lattes **mop it up mondays ** debbie doos ** busy mondays **project inspired ** open call ** take a look tuesday ** the scoop**wildly original ** creative juice ** your creative timeout **

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Pin Inspiration party time!

Jane is hosting the party this week...check out what she has to say! And if you haven't already...pop on over and check out why I didn't blog for nearly a week!
Did the month come in like a lamb or a lion for you? It was a lamb with a bad temper for us but I'm still hoping that it means we'll be getting spring and SOON. I've chosen my plants for the this year's garden and am hoping to get my city farm up and running soon. Cabin fever has truly set in. We've been treating ourselves to a fair amount of treat including this one that I'll be sharing tomorrow. March 2 216 
Did you happen to check out all the amazing things that my fellow hostesses have been up to? Micki wowed me with her adorable Easter Hat
Christine (who I'm ACTUALLY going to meet next week) was beyond fab with her Apricot Canapes. I want these RIGHT now.
 apricot appetizer 
 AND Marilyn's blog has been a little quiet lately but if you follow her on instagram (and why wouldn't you?) you will have seen that her photography has gone well beyond the hobby stage and now she's in the pro category. You truly need to check out her amazing pics.
 I know, right?! Thank you so much for all of you that joined last week. It is just such a treat to see your amazing projects. We truly appreciate you taking the time out to do so. Did you have a chance to visit lots of folks? I think I made it to everyone and totally fell in love with: Half Baked Harvests, Sweet Potato Parmesan Tater Tots. I made the mistake of first eyeing them when I was at work and just about starved the rest of the day.
 Crystelle Boutique had a lovely Sock Monkey tutorial and a gorgeous message for us all to keep in mind too.
And did you not also love 'Preparing For Your First Tattoo' by Our Mini Family? tatoo-dipa 
Even if you don't have one or would ever have a tattoo I guarantee you will have this conversation with a young person in your life at some point. GREAT advice and a great resource to hang onto. I teach grade eight and know I'll be pulling this article out often. Not only are you featured here but we've pinned you on our Pin'inspiration Party Feature Board for even more folks to be amazed by. And now it’s time to open up another Pin’Inpirational Link Party. Link up your most Pin’Inspiring post. But make sure you follow the rules first:
  • Before you link up to the party, you must follow all of the hosts on Facebook. Jane, Micki,Marilyn and Christine.
  • Please visit at least two other links from below and leave some comment love!
  • If you love comments, make sure you have captcha/word verification turned off!
  • Please don’t link up your etsy store or giveaway.
  • Spread the word about the party! The more the merrier!
Time to link up the party via our button. LETS P A R T A A A A A A Y!!! newsignature