Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Peonies & Black Dahlia's? I hope so! :)

This beauty, this beauty right here - is from a listing I have in my etsy shop - I used this lovely to add some color to the listings landscape and to show off the flower. 
After all it had come from my yard and was equally fragrant as it was beautiful :). 
 In 2010 though, we transplanted the huge peony bush and things haven't been the same since. :/

The peony plant that was once a flourishing flowering plant only gets this big after transplanting years ago.

***Dawn to the rescue!!!***

The peony bush is the tall plant in the middle. I had such high hopes for this transplant from 2010! The bush was so overgrown when we first moved in in 2009... you can see it to the far left of the house in the picture below, its covering the corner of our neighbors garage right in front of their truck:
Clearly it was a flourishing Peony bush before we moved to the back yard - but hasn't done well since.. 
no more flowers for me :(. This will not do!

Saturday my sister and I went to Home Depot after taking stock of what landscaping items we had, and found an perennial Black Dahlia. *swoons* When it comes to plants - I love anything white, light pink, dark purple and green. These color combinations just make me happy what can I say?

Back at the house - it was transplanting time!

Let the planting/transplanting begin!

We used to have this eye sore of a plant just parading around the the down spout and would share some orange flowers near fall season. 
I didn't much care for it and it just looks like a big mess with spiders most likely lurking in its leaves. 
No thank you!

A bit of an improvement eh? ;) 

With my sisters help we dug up all the roots of the other plant and added a bunch of soil before placing the peony. I also added the Black Dahlia bulbs spacing them out in line with the rocks. 

Top View :)

 We set down newspaper and then added dirt under the rocks in an attempt to ward off having to weed too much. I don't mind weeding, I just hope the crab grass stays at bay!

 I am *so* hopeful this lil one takes off. I miss my peonies! :0)
They smell so wonderful and look amazing when they bloom! 

Of course I'm also excited to see how the Black Dahlia's do too! I've never planted flowers before, my history has been more in vegetable gardening and helping my mom when she would transplant flowers growing up in Iowa. Iowa soil is so much nicer than the clay soil in Virginia. 
We're working with what we got though! :) A Home Depot down the road a ways and some tender loving care to get these lovelies blooming! :) 

I will keep you posted on their progress! :) Are you planting anything new this year? 

Best, Dawn


**Good News**
I know it's only been a few days since transplanting the flower on 4/27/13 but today 4/30/13 I am happy to report the peony leaves are already stretching out and growing! We've had a lovely light rain/misting the past few days which is perfect right after transplanting/planting these! :D

Monday, April 29, 2013

Landscaping Progress Over the Years

This past weekend I did some yard work and wanted to share the outcome of it with you. I felt I would be only sharing the tip of the iceberg with you though so I did some digging into my photo files to give you a more complete picture. Here is the landscape history of our house.
I'll share the landscaping project I worked on this weekend with you all tomorrow so stay tuned! ;)

In 2009 when we signed on our house, we inherited a lot of other peoples left over issues, er maybe not issues, but because they were too lazy to keep up with the house and yard properly we had a lot of work to do... the house was a diamond in the rough, full of potential, but left much to be desired. The house was stinky and there were nicotine stains on the walls (they smoked *inside* :( ), heavily soiled carpets (it would seem they never ever took off their shoes and didn't own a vacuum, a mess of a yard (rotting firewood, wooden playhouse falling apart), jungle gym for kids (this again, rotting). Twigs all over the yard under the grass, everywhere you walked there was a snapping sound. Apparently they hadn't thought to pick up sticks before they mowed huh? :s Meh...yard work was not the prior owners priority... geesh.... At any rate, we have come a long way. 

Here is the original front of the house... oh how I do NOT miss it...

The front of the house overgrown shrubs and red landscaping bricks lined the house.
  A little while later, before moving in...you will note the open windows - ventilating the house - the ones that could be opened... we also spent this time cleaning the heavily trafficked carpets... oye vey..

Here are many of the eye sores of the yard...

Oh the jungle gym... the oh so UNsafe playground... 
Back of the house - nice huge deck, but the lattice?!?! It had to go!
Rotting play house :( once I got it to the front curb it folded on its side.
This baby was heavy! All real wood! 
Branches and other debris collected where a large shed used to be (prior owners). 
Luckily we had a city wide clean up that fall and were able to set a lot of junk out on the curb to get it gone!

Yes, that's a refrigerator - it was full of mold when we moved in...
so we decided better safe than sorry.
Our curb as it appeared from across the street...
In 2010 we removed all these icky shrubs from the front of the house... 
and put up some solar lights and planted a few *tiny* shrubs. ☺
We toned down the red brick fascia a bit by replacing the brick landscape siding with neutral cement blocks.
You'll notice we also added white rock on top of the soil (after putting down a plastic tarp).
A nice upgrade ;) it looks so much cleaner!
Where the shrubs were we planted grass seed and lined the cement walkway with cement blocks making them flush with the side walk. 
Here is a close up of the left side of the house near the walkway at night.
Here is a shot of the cement blocks lining the cement a few years later. The grass grew in nicely!

We transplanted 4 of the 5 shrubs in the back yard - my family from Iowa visited to help with this landscaping project. Oh. My. Goodness. Could not have done this in record time without all of them! I love my family. I love their giving spirit and worker bee attitudes. At least I know where I get it from huh? :)  Oh! And in the time they were here not only did they help us tackle the landscaping but they also helped with the large sitting room upstairs.

Hasta's were brought from Iowa and planted near the base of most of the trees. Thank you Mom! :D This is the view as seen from the deck.
More Hasta's! You will notice the barren spots, this is where the toy shed was.
Grass has since grown in nicely!
The two Azalea Bushes & Peony Bush were transplanted from the front yard and were placed to the left between two trees.
There was another set of matching bushes we transplanted towards the back of the yard as well

We planted grass seed in all the spots that were in need of TLC, and we recruited a lawn care service since then to properly take care of the lawn (aerating, fertilizer and seeding), it's been green and flourishing ever since!

A few years later the family visited again and we took on the edging of the driveway -
what. a. chore!
The soil in Virginia is full of rocks! This was a huge undertaking. In some cases we had to break larger rocks so we could set the blocks flush with the ground.
The results were worth it! Here again I must credit my family, I'm so thankful for them.

As seen from the mailbox.
As seen from across the street. 
So to recap on the front yard progress - as far as the landscaping goes (we later found out we needed a new roof, siding, windows, etc. :s ) here is how it compares.
Before and after landscaping.
As mentioned, we've resided the house since then and there is a little bit more landscaping/transplanting that we did this past weekend but I'll share with you tomorrow.
 For now I hope you enjoyed the journey we've been on! :) God is faithful no? ;) 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Garlic Chicken Breast Crockpot Recipe with option of a Parmesan Cheese Crust - Low Carb and Paleo Friendly

Lots of chicken in the fridge to use up and a while my pinterest board has a lot of ideas for chicken breast recipes I'm lacking vegetable variety. I need to go to the grocery store but that won't happen until Monday. So what to do, what to do... work with what I have on hand! :) I present Garlic Chicken Breasts! They are mighty tasty and tender! Don't say I didn't warn you! :)

The ingredient spread.
Chicken meet chicken bouillon, garlic and pepper. Later... you'll be introduced to Parmesan cheese.

1/2 Tablespoon Garlic Powder

1/8 Tspn Pepper

Mince those Cloves up!

Put in the Crock pot:

5 - 6 lbs of chicken breasts
1/8 tspn Pepper
1/2 Tblspn Garlic Powder
2 Garlic cloves minced
1 1/2 cups chicken broth or 1 1/2 tsp chicken bouillon dissolved in 1 1/2 cups water

1) Place the chicken breasts in the crock pot.
2) Add the broth, garlic powder & pepper
3) Mince 2 garlic cloves - add to the top of the mix
4) Set on Low for 4 1/2 hours or on Keep Warm for 6 - 8hrs.

Now at this point the chicken is perfectly edible to get your eating on if you like. However... if you want to add some crunch to the outside of them read on!


Making your Chicken Breast into a Large Chicken Nugget. Sort of ;)

Pull out a plate, a large bowl and a frying pan along with:
- Olive Oil
- Parmesan Cheese
- Dried Cilantro
- Eggs

Add Olive Oil to coat your pan.

On a dinner plate add Parmesan Cheese and Cilantro to suit your taste buds - mkay? 

In a large bowl break 4 eggs and whisk.

You may need to add more of the dry mix and eggs need to add more eggs as you go so keep them handy! 

Take a chicken breast and dunk it in your eggs, coating both sides, then place it in Parmesan Cilantro mix, turn over and coat the other side. Place chicken in frying pan and cook over medium heat until they are golden brown, flip over and cook the other side. Although the pictures show I used a fork, I later discovered tongs are a much better tool for this job!

Once both sides are golden brown load up your plate and get your eatin on ! :) 

Raspberry and Sour Cream Muffins with Lemon Zest!

Hello friends! 

I got curious again this weekend  - curious to see how a recipe from Things My Belly Likes would turn out! The pictures and ingredients looked promising enough so today we gave it a go!

Out with the ingredients and with a little help from the sister here is our adventure in photo form. The conclusion of our taste test fancy is at the bottom.

These smelled AMAZING while in the oven. The batter reminded me of those shortbread cookies that have a fruit jelly filling in the middle. Shortbread with a bit of tartness. Yummy right? :) 

I had them in the oven for 18 minutes since I put the batter together in 6 muffins 
(recipe says these make 8 small muffins.)

I put butter on the muffins, this would happen no matter what kind of muffins I make though. I love butter, basically muffins are a vehicle for butter in my world :).  

The raspberry bits reminded me of rhubarb. The tartness of the sour cream and lemon zest were delicious. :) If the mister would fall in love with coconut flour (he doesnt' like it but tries any new recipe I make even if it called for coconut flour - cause he's a trooper ;)) I would make these on a regular basis. 

All in all - a yummy muffin! :) Thank you Cat of Things My Belly Likes for sharing your culinary finds! :) 

Till next time - eat a bit of any batter okay? Why not? :0) 

Best, Dawn

Spring in Bloom II

Since the African Violets on my dining room keep gracing me with lovely flowers I thought I'd share them with you!

African Violet in bloom.
I so appreciate the textures of this flower :) The white petals glisten in the sun as if they were made of glitter!
I hope you enjoy the pictures and that your spring is off to a wonderful start! I so enjoy watching plants grow  - I wish I had caught a few snapshots of the tulips around the neighborhood that had sprung up... maybe next year since their petals have already wilted.

Friday, April 26, 2013

I Have Nerdy Friends!

...and I love them, I love them ALL. They inspire me and help get me out of my mode of just making pretty things ^-^. I like pretty things okay?! ☺

Insert Jayne's knit hat from the Firefly series. Ta-dah! This is my next up and coming request from a friend for her mister, who much like my mister has a ginormous head. ☺ I love my mister with a larger than normal cranium and if all goes well, may have to make him one too. Cause he's my favorite and we like Firefly. I think that's reason enough lol

The hat will look quite similar to what is pictured when its' all said and knitted ;) (granted it cut off the pom pom portion but that's okay - I know it's there ;)) and here's a fun demotivational pic for your entertainment :) until next time ;)

Photo by Captain Tightpants

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Quick and Easy Paleo &/or Low Carb Tacos!

Omitting the taco shell while eating Paleo and Low Carb can make a few of the ol' reliable recipes seem off limits. Tacos being one of them. Granted there are the uber chewy low carb wraps at the grocery but if you're dining Paleo style or want to keep the carbs as low as possible here's a route that just might help you when the taco craving comes a knocking...

This recipe is super simple & cooks up fast! Perfect for when you have a to serve a large group of people or if you want to make a munch and divvy it up for leftovers for work! Adjust hamburger portion size if not cooking for a small army ;) :) 

The Meat & Bare Necessities of This Recipe - Add Veggies if desired!
Here is what you'll need:

- 3lbs of hamburger
- 1 - 24oz jar of Tostinos Chunky Salsa (pictured is the medium hotness ;))
Topping ideas that are optional depending on how you are eating.
- Sour Cream
- Shredded Cheese

- Black Olives
- Lettuce
- Tomatoes
- Hot Sauce

1) Brown the hamburger over medium heat
2) Drain the liquid fat from the meat. 
3) Add complete jar of salsa to the meat (this acts as the seasoning - should you want it hotter, add a bit of garlic powder, cayenne and chili powder to taste ;)) adjust salsa amount to hamburger amount.

Now load up your plate with the meat and salsa mix, proceed to add the toppings you fancy and enjoy! :) 

If you'd like to eat your taco meat like you would with an actual shell, grab a large leaf of lettuce and roll that goodness up! Viola! Who's missing out on tacos?!?! NOT YOU! ^-^
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