Thursday, September 3, 2020


One positive from this pandemic is that Omid and I caught the gardening bug. I've always wanted to plant sunflowers and am so happy that I did. They are such cheerful plants to have around.

I planted 5 varieties, all differing heights from 2 feet to 12 feet.  The different varieties take anywhere from 60 - 100 days to bloom depending on their height. 

We had a problem with slugs, snails, rabbits and squirrels try to eat the seedlings. I improvised with a plastic cup that kept them somewhat protected. I would estimate that we lost about 25 seedlings due to the critters. I kept having to replant the seeds to make up for the loss. Some seeds I sowed directly in the ground. I also started seedlings inside when I realized we were losing the plants and would need to replace them. I also found some pet safe slug killer called SLUGGO that worked great and will definitely use it again next spring/summer.

Once they start growing, they can grow several inches in a day!
This was the very first sunflower to bloom. It's called 'Firecatcher.' 
Look at all the pollen on the bees legs!

These are the 'Mammoth' variety.  They were six feet tall on August 11th. 

And over 8 feet tall today (24 days later).

We built a fence this summer. This spot was difficult as the fence wasn't planned when I planted the seeds. We had to cull about 18 plants to place the posts/fence boards. 

This is called 'Dwarf Teddy Bear.'

These sunflowers are all spent, so I am drying them in the sun for a few weeks and then will harvest the seeds. Look at the Teddy Bear on the far left vs. the photo above it. Notice the petals cover the entire head.  It is surprisingly heavy (about 2 lbs) for such a small flower.


Sunday, July 26, 2020

Make This! Egg Salad

I love  a good egg salad. I've been substituting sour cream for mayonnaise for years and thinks it's so delicious.

I found a new recipe that I was meaning to try and I'm so glad I did.  I found the recipe in an older Sunset magazine and snapped a photo of it.

I grated the eggs on a box grater instead of using an egg slicer and the result is a prettier salad.

Mint & Egg Salad

4 large hard boiled eggs
1-2 cups slivered mint leaves
1 cup sliced green onions
2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tbs. olive oil
juice of 1/2 a lemon
*I added 1/2 a tsp of cayenne pepper and several shakes of Tabasco sauce as Omid and I like spicy food.

I toasted some bread, added a base of arugula and then a generous dollop of the egg salad. Omid really liked it so I'll be making this recipe again.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Make This! Scotch Eggs

These are so easy and delicious.
Perfect for a grab 'n go breakfast (after the initial prep/bake)!

Boil however many eggs you want to make. Omid usually hard boils one dozen eggs. We use the 3 lb. Jimmy Dean sausage roll from Costco. Measure 1/3 cup of sausage per egg.
 Flatten the sausage into a patty and form around peeled eggs.

 Roll the sausage & egg in seasoned breadcrumbs.

Bake at 375* for 20-25 minutes. Flip over and bake for another 20-25 minutes.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Make This! Mason Jar Lid Mini Pies & Blueberry Hand Pies

I found these cute mason jar lid pies last 4th of July & had to make them again this year. Omid and I went blueberry picking on the 3rd and picked 20 pounds of blueberries. I baked the mason jar lid pies and then decided to try to make mini hand pies. I used the same filling recipe as Living the Gourmet uses for the mason jar lid pies.  I like my own pie crust recipe (from my sister B) and used that instead as it's super easy to make(in a mixer!) and tastes delicious on it's own. The recipe is below.

For the mason jar lid pies, place the lid upside down in the ring.

I used a 4" round biscuit cutter and cut out an additional 1" beyond with a knife to fit the dough in the rings. Last year, I pre-baked the pie shells, but they shrunk too much. This year, I did not pre-bake the shells. The pie crust was baked all the way through and most importantly, no shrinkage.  One pie crust recipe was enough for 6 mini pies.

For the hand pies, definitely double the pie crust and filling recipe. You will be glad you did! 

I used the 4" biscuit cutter. I was only able to get about 4 blueberries in each pie, as my berries from Meadowglenn Farm are each about the size of a quarter! No joke!

Once filled, brush egg white on the edges and pinch together, then seal with a fork. Place one slit in the top for steam to escape. I also brushed beaten egg yolk on top (it was leftover from the egg white and I didn't want to waste it).  

Bake on parchment paper at 400* for 15-20 minutes. Brush the vanilla glaze on the hand pies while they are still warm.

*Note:The last time I made these, I pre-cut all the pie shells in advance, then filled and baked the pies.  This made the whole process move a lot quicker. :)

Pie Crust (for one pie crust - double the recipe for a two crust pie)
1 1/4 cups flour
1 Tbs. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
3 Tbs. ice cold water
8 Tbs (one stick) cold butter, cut into 16 pieces
In a stand mixer, mix flour, sugar & salt. Add the butter & toss into the flour mixture until coated. Mix on medium low until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal with the butter pieces no larger than small peas. Add the water & mix until the dough just comes together. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap & let the dough rest in the refrigerator for 15 minutes before using. 

Blueberry Filling via Living the Gourmet
1 cup blueberries
1 tablespoon vanilla - I only used 1 teaspoon
2 tablespoons brown sugar- I only used 1 TBS as my berries were super sweet already.
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Vanilla Glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon juice (or more to thin glaze)

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Happy 16th Birthday Remy!

Happy 16th birthday in Heaven sweet boy. I hope you and Jack are eating blueberries, tomatoes and catching lots of squirrels.

We miss you so, so much.

By the way, your tomatoes are doing great! Thanks for the sign.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Three Years Today - Gone Too Soon

Today marks the three year anniversary that my Dad passed away.  In all truth, it feels like it was just yesterday.

I posted the above photo on my FB.  I wished he was here and would send me a sign.

Later that day, Omid found an old camera and was looking at all the images on the SD card. This photo was on there. It was from December 13, 2013. We were at the coast clamming with two other families.  Omid called me over to look at the photo.  I was so happy and upset at the same time.

 I believe this is the sign I asked for. Validation from my Dad that he is always with me and heard me.

Thanks for the sign, Dad!  I miss you so much!!

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Motorcycle Madness!

A few weeks ago, Omid was in a serious motorcycle accident. While he was seriously injured, there are SO many things to be thankful for. Our list of worries is small and our list of thanks is very long. 

He is alive today because he had a top of the line helmet and armored pants/jacket. If you ride, please purchase the correct gear. It could save your life!

Thankfully, both Naseem & Matty were here when it happened. Also unfortunately, COVID-19 was here too; so we were not allowed into the hospital to be with him. He arrived at the ER as a trauma patient, so we witnessed his ambulance arriving with lights and sirens. Not fun.   Also not fun, having to wait for him to arrive. His accident was near Mt. St. Helens, a good hour away. Thankfully, he was able to call me from the ambulance and let me know (something to be thankful for!).

The wonderful nurses at SWMC were great about coming out to the parking lot and giving us updates.  It sucked BIG TIME that we couldn't be with him.  Our wonderful friends came to support Nas, Matty & I in the parking lot while we waited for news on Omid's condition.

Thankfully, he was released 24 hours hour later. While he has a long recovery, he is home and that is what matters!

Again, our list of things to be thankful are long.

Look who's feeling better!!
My sister said that she heard that an hour a day in nature is good for concussions. So...Omid has a green thumb now. Here he is with his first harvest from our little garden.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Make This! Broccoli Cheese Soup

How are you all holding up? This stay at home order makes me want to bake, bake, bake. I'm not though, as then I would eat, eat, eat.  

Yesterday was cold and rainy so soup was the natural choice for dinner.  After seeing what we had in the fridge that needed to be eaten soon,(Costco bag of broccoli) I decided to go through the blog archives to see what yummy recipes I hadn't made in while.

I located this recipe from a post dated February 17, 2011.  This soup is a really fantastic comfort food. I changed the recipe last night: cup of grated Dubliner cheese, left out the carrots,  and used whipping cream instead of half & half.  Make it! Your family will love it!

Broccoli Cheese Soup
1/2 onion, chopped
1 T butter (for sauteeing onions)
1/4 c flour
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 pint half & half (I used heavy whipping cream)
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 pound fresh broccoli, chopped
1 cup carrots, shredded
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 can diced green chiles
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cayenne pepper. (I added because I like spicy food)

Sautee onion in 1 Tbs butter over medium heat until onions turn translucent. Set aside.
Cook the 1/4 cup melted butter and flour, whisking over medium heat for 3-4 minutes. Slowly add half & half while continuing to whisk. Add chicken stock while continuing to whisk. Let simmer 20 minutes.
Add broccoli, carrots & onions. Cook over low heat until veggies are tender. Add salt & pepper.
Pour the mixture into a food processor and blend until smooth. Return to the pot over low heat. Add cheese. Stir in nutmeg & serve. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Strange Times

To quote everyone else...we are living in strange times. I am working from home like most other people until my boss says it's safe to return to work. Someone was exposed to the COVID-19 virus at the building I work in on campus.  Strict orders for all of us to, in his words, 'stay away.'

Omid set me up with a work station at our dining room table. He is working upstairs in his home office. I visited him a couple times today. I asked him if it was just like work with annoying coworkers stopping by unannounced. He said, "Yes." I let him be.

My boss emailed our team today and reminded us that it is the first day of spring. The birds are singing, the flowers have bloomed and asked us to take a minute to really notice it. He also asked us to reach out to friends and loved ones.

I miss my friends. We had weekly dinners. A weekend getaway next month was cancelled with other dear friends as we don't know if we'll still be on lockdown then. A visit from a colleague in Germany was cancelled.

Nas is supposed to fly home in two weeks. Will she be able to? We are worried that national air travel might not be allowed. I actually asked her to drive home all the way from Miami today. That is how worried we are that we won't get to see her.

I am trusting that all will be okay. I know it will be.