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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Maddie's Junior Prom

 Hi Friends!

I thought you might like to take a peek at a few pictures of Maddie before Prom.
 This year she went with her friend, Alex, along with a group of other friends who all went on the trip to France together.
 I loved Maddie's unique dress, and the fact that she wore her hair down this year.

 Her fancy shoes didn't even make it all the way through the picture session, though.  : )

Hooray for nights where you look like a glamorous movie star and get to laugh with good friends.



Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Uncle Ken Cooking Challenge 2015: Spicy Shrimp Tacos with Cilantro Lime Sauce 13/52

Hi Friends!

I am not even kidding:  this week's recipe is the BEST thing I have put in my mouth in 2015. For real.  These tacos are so, so good!  The garlic cilantro lime sauce that goes on the slaw is the kind of taste that dreams are made of.  I want to make these tacos a hundred times this summer and serve them to everyone I love. They're that good.  This recipe came straight from Pinch of Yum.  We didn't change a thing.

For the Garlic Cilantro Lime Sauce
·         ¼ cup oil
·         ¼ cup water
·         ½ cup chopped green onions
·         ½ cup cilantro leaves
·         2-3 cloves garlic 
·         ½ teaspoon salt
·         juice of 2 limes
·         ½ cup sour cream

For the Shrimp Tacos
·         1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails removed
·         1 teaspoon each chili powder, cumin, and southwestern seasoning (see notes)
·         ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (more or less to taste)
·         2-3 cups shredded green cabbage
·         8 small corn tortillas
·         1-2 avocados
·         Cotija cheese and additional cilantro for topping
·         lime wedges for serving
1.     Pulse all the sauce ingredients except the sour cream in a food processor. When mostly smooth, add the sour cream and pulse until combined. Taste and adjust as needed. Set aside.
2.     Heat a drizzle of oil a large skillet over medium high heat. Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels and sprinkle with the spices. Add the shrimp to the hot pan and saute for 5-8 minutes, flipping occasionally, until the shrimp are cooked through.
3.     Toss some of the sauce (not all) with the cabbage until it the cabbage is coated to your liking. It should resemble a coleslaw - you want it to be enough sauce so the cabbage is weighed down a little bit. Use leftover sauce on top of the tacos or in other recipes.

4.     To serve tacos, smash a spoonful of avocado on the tortillas, top with a few pieces of shrimp, top with coleslaw, and finish with Cotjia cheese, cilantro, and lime wedges.

Monday, April 13, 2015

A Few More Days of Making

 Hi Friends!

I am loving the 100 Days of Making challenge!  I thought I'd share days 4-7 here today.  I am posting my quotes on Instagram if you're interested in seeing them day-by-day.

I'm not sure if the words to my Alma Mater song count as a favorite quote, but I get to make the rules, so I say "YES!".

Are you doing the 100 Days of Making Challenge?  I'd love to see what you're doing--leave me a link in the comments!



Wednesday, April 8, 2015

100 Days of Making

Hi Friends,

Who's up for a creative challenge?!?  On Monday I started a new one that I'm pretty excited about: 100 Days of Making.  You can read all about how the idea was generated, but the short version is to challenge yourself to creating 100 of something--one day at a time.
The creators of this challenge urge you to pick something you're passionate about.  I decided that I'd like to illustrate 100 of my favorite quotes.  I love quotes.  I collect them and recycle them all the time.  My Pinterest quote board is my most popular, by far.  I'm pretty sure I'll turn my 100 quotes into some kind of mini album, because that's just what I do.  :)

Here are my first three days:

The official kick off to the challenge was Monday, but the great thing is you can start any time!  Want to join me?  I'd love to see what you come up with with your creative awesomeness!  Here's to the next 97 creative days!



Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Uncle Ken Cooking Challenge 2015: Lemon Pesto Penne 12/52

Hi Friends!

Got 20 minutes?  That's all it takes to throw together this really flavorful meal, packed with goodness and veggies.  Whenever I make a recipe that calls for loads of veggies, I feel like the world's best mom.  I made this last night before the big game, and everyone liked it.  John thinks we should throw some grilled chicken into it next time, which I think would make it even better.  I can't wait to try this again this summer made with tomatoes and basil from the garden.  The feta cheese is my favorite part of the whole thing--I love, love, love feta cheese (just like Isabella!).

Here's the super-easy recipe:

Lemon Pesto Penne 

16 ounces penne noodles
2 C baby broccoli
1 16 oz. can of fire roasted tomatoes, drained 
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 C pesto
1/2 C feta cheese, divided
juice of 1 lemon
fresh basil, cut into ribbons

1.     Cook the penne according to package directions. Add the baby broccoli to the pot of boiling water for the last 1-2 minutes of cooking. It should turn bright green. Drain and return to the pan over medium high heat.

2.     Add the tomatoes and garlic to the pan with the pasta and baby broccoli; saute 1-2 minutes or until fragrant. Add the pesto, half of the feta, and the lemon juice. Toss in the pan until well combined. Remove from heat and add the basil. Sprinkle with remaining feta before serving.
Enjoy, friends!

PS I tweaked the original recipe found at Pinch of Yum.  

Thursday, April 2, 2015

A Peek At Emily in London

 Hi Friends!

I'm just as excited to see Emily having fun in London this week as I was to see Maddie having fun in Paris last week!  Emily's spending her Spring Break "studying" in London--she's actually earning a college credit for her time there.  So far, she hasn't posted any pictures of her doing any school work, though. : )
Emily's trip is very different than Maddie's.   Emily is in London on a student visa, not part of a tour group.  That means that when she's not doing academic work, she and her friends are able to do anything they want.
Before she left, Emily planned an extensive tourist guide for herself (of course she did!) filled with all the things she wanted to do and see during her time in London.  She even squeezed in a trip to see Stonehenge:
She not only planned out the things she wanted to do, she planned out how she was going to get there and everything.  I'm so impressed!  : )
She said it's been pretty rainy so far, but there was a bit of sun the other day.  I love this blue sky photo she posted:
And this photo looks like an old-time postcard:
Hooray for studying abroad and new adventures and making new friends in far away places.


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Book Report: March 2015

Hi Friends,

Oh, boy.  I read some weird books in March.  I tend to collect recommendations from all over the place and when I see a good book recommendation, I immediately put the book on hold at the library. Sometimes I'm lucky (like in February) and I get a month's worth of good reading.  Other times, I end up reading some odd books.  This month's books weren't all bad--none of them were awful--but I didn't fall in love with any of these books.  Here's what I read in March:
The King's Curse, Philippa Gregory (3 1/2 stars).  This was, by far, my favorite book of the month. I am a big Philippa Gregory fan---she is definitely the queen of historical fiction.  This book centered around lady-in-waiting Margaret Pole and her unique view of King Henry VIII’s stratospheric rise to power in Tudor England.  
Friendswood, Rene Steinke (3 1/2 stars).  The writing in this book is so, so good.  The story lines are so, so sad.  Small town Texas characters and drama.
The Good Girl, Mary Kubica (3 stars).  Girl gets kidnapped, something happens, and then she returns home remembering nothing and answering to a different name.  (No spoilers--this happens in the first chapter).  What I won't tell you is how this one ends.  I literally didn't see it coming, not even a little bit.
Unbecoming, Rebecca Scherm (3 stars).  Hmm.  It's rare that I read a book where I can't find a single character that I like.  The story is good.  The people in the story drove me a little bit batty.
The Fever, Megan Abbott (2 stars).  This book just creeped me out.  The whole thing just felt murky. Teenage girls mysteriously affected by some type of something that causes them to have seizures.  No one seems to know what is causing it.  Is it drugs?  The stagnant lake?  A vaccination?  Maybe it's because I have teenage daughters, but I just wanted them to find the cause and tie everything up neat and tidy and get on with life.

What did you read this month?