Blogging, Facebook, and Websites Oh My!!

When I got the idea to start a Facebook page for The Real Housewife of Suburbia I wanted it more to post random things about my garden, cooking and little projects around the house.  Then I wanted a blog to have more options for posting, and that led to the website.  Bottom line, it’s hard work.  These people that have blogs and websites that they post to nonstop are cray cray!  I’m sure they are much more tech savvy than myself, heck, I just learned how to make a hyperlink just two weeks ago.  Now it’s one less thing I have to ask the hubs to do for me when he gets home from work.

Things take longer to do when you are trying to take pictures of every step, which is why I don’t do a massive clean-up beforehand.  There are pictures with hoses in the foreground, a random pet (even though we don’t technically have any), weeds in the grass etc… and guess what?  I’m ok with that.  After all, I’m a REAL housewife.  I may joke about wanting to be Ina Garten, but let’s be realistic, I don’t have a staff that follows me around.  What I have following me around are two little mess makers.  I’m their staff!!

My hope is that I’ll get quicker at all of this,  I’ll get more organized, maybe even make a list or two about what to post.  For now, I’ll just keep chugging along, asking the hubs for help and taking pictures that have signs of my REAL life.

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Garden Glimpse

This year I wanted to document my garden with photos and a little journal that I started, hasn’t happened quite like I had hoped.  Tonight I made the effort to snap a few pictures of the garden areas and caught one of one of the raccoons that comes to the backyard.  Gardening is work, work I enjoy, but still work.  It’s time consuming but hopefully in the end you are rewarded with a bounty that shows you just why you do the work.  The past few years my garden really hasn’t been successful.  The reality is, having infant twins is not conducive to having a lush and productive garden, it’s just not.  But now that they are in the lovely toddler phase and are able to play outside while I garden it’s becoming a little, and I stress little, more easy.

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This is one of the two areas of garden beds.  I don’t have them completely planted, partly because space is at a premium and I don’t want to waste it with vegetables we won’t really use.  I have to keep in mind the sun exposure, how big each plant will get and what goes well with what…. uuuggghhhh, so much to think  about!!  I’ve gone a little container crazy, but it helps me extend the growing area.  I’m hoping to really do well this year.  Another reason I want to take pictures and make notes, so I can have a reference for future growing seasons.

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Thanks to our neighbor, we have these super neat whiskey barrels.  I have tomatoes, peppers and eggplants planted in them.  I still have two more to plant, and I’m obsessing over what to plant in them.

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Along with the whiskey barrels I’ve been using all the planters that normally I would plant flowers and used them for vegetables.  I also picked up some plain five gallon black containers at Home Depot to add even more container craziness.

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This bed is still chugging along.  I have a dahlia in the back right and a honeysuckle next to that.  In the middle are artichokes, front are a mix of cilantro and strawberries, on the side is radicchio.  I’m hoping this fills in…

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My raspberries are filling wonderfully.  I still need to fix the wire that holds them up.  I had originally used twine, however, Stinky the squirrel decided she wanted it for her nest and chewed it off.

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One of the regular visitors of my yard…

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These are the beds on the other side of the yard.  The lettuce bed is still looking very sparse thanks to the birds.  They just love the lettuce seedlings.  The other beds are growing pretty well.  I even harvested some bok choy for dinner last night.

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My beautiful artichokes!!!  These beauties are from last year, the first time I’ve actually had ones survive the winter.  And look at that treasure just starting to grow…  These plants are huge, so huge they are overwhelming the leeks.

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We have so many bees working in the yard.  I love it!!!  When you get near this particular sage plant all you hear is the buzzing.

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I really need to trim the sage since it’s getting so big nothing else is getting a chance to grow.  There are little herb seedlings growing in the cracks of the pavers, along with some little flowers.  I’ve decided that I like the look and won’t pick them.

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The tomatoes I planted very early in the season are doing great.  Two of them, I believe the cherry and roma, even have flowers.  I am so hoping for tons of tomatoes this year.

I’m definitely a little behind in where I wanted to be, but I think the garden can still be successful.  I need to take advantage of the nice days and get more done.  Trying to juggle everything I want and need to get done can be challenging, so I try not to stress too much about it.

Crispy Sticks of Love

I love tempura, however, not so much when it’s goopy, doughy or super greasy.  The recipes for making it at home varied quite a bit in the results you got.  Some were pretty good, others were downright bad.  After seeing a picture on Pinterest with some really crispy looking green beans I thought I would give it a whirl… It was pretty good, but it had way too much seasoning in it for my liking.  Also, the liquid amount seemed a tad high since the batter would drip right off the bean.  After adjusting the liquid amount, and changing it from beer to club soda, getting rid of all seasoning except some salt, I am happy with these crispy sticks of love!!

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What you will need”

3/4 c. rice flour

3/4 c. club soda

1 tsp. salt

1 lb. green beans

Oil for frying

Heat oil to 375 F.  Mix the all the ingredients, except the green beans.  Make sure your green beans are dry when you put them into your batter.  The extra water on the beans will make the batter too runny.

Coat each bean with batter, then gently, but carefully, place it in the oil.  Don’t fry too many at one time, they will stick together and become a mess.  Cook until they are golden, but not dark at all.  They will burn easily and it happens faster than you think.  Drain on some paper towels, sprinkle with salt if desired, but not necessary.  I like eating these as is, but if you want you can make a simple tempura dipping sauce.

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Enjoy!!

One Pan Breakfast

I love to cook, love it!!!  However, there are some days when I’m lazy and I want to get away with as little effort as possible, but still have something delicious and not from a box.  So after surveying the fridge, I decided to make a spinach frittata, but then I though, I don’t want to fry up everything, then transfer it to another dish to bake.  I know, LAZY!!!  So instead, I decided to just cook it all in the same pan, and guess what….it worked and worked well.  I will say, if you are working with non-stick pans this won’t work since this goes under the broiler and that is a no no for those.

What you will need (and of course you can add/delete whatever veggies or meat you like, this is just what I had)

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7 eggs

1/8 c. half-n-half

6 strips of bacon, cut into strips

2/3 c. onion, chopped

1/4 c red pepper, diced

two large handfuls of spinach

1 medium size potato

salt and pepper to taste

Mix the eggs and half-n-half together, set aside.

In an oven safe pan, fry the bacon strips until they start to render some fat, then add the rest of the ingredients and cook over medium heat.  Once the potatoes are soft add the egg mixture.  Do not stir!  Let the eggs settle in with all the other ingredients, if need be, give a little shake, but do not stir.  Cook over med/low to med heat until the sides start to firm up leaving only the top uncooked.  Sprinkle some cheese on top and pop in the oven under the broiler for a few minutes, until the eggs are set on top.

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Voila!!  Simplicity!!

Getting Crafty in the Garden

After seeing all the stacked planters, where you put the biggest on the bottom, then medium sized then small, I decided I wanted to do a space saver idea and make a hanging “stacked” planter.  However, I used the same size pot, but it would work with the small, medium, large idea also.

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For my hanging planter I used three identical 6″ planters and some gardening rope (must be thin enough to go through the watering hole, but not thick enough to slip back when tied in a knot).

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Tie a knot and slide the first planter down the rope.  I measured 8 inches from the inside bottom of the planter to the beginning of the next knot.

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Make another knot and slide second planter down, repeat for the third planter.

Depending on where you plan on hanging your planter will determine how long you want the rope coming out of the top planter.

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I did about 13 inches, which will work for where I’m putting the planter.

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Fill with dirt.  They will be a little wonky until you pack the dirt.  If you want it to remain more whimsical just don’t pack the dirt tight around the rope, otherwise do so.

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Start adding plants.  For the top I put little Johnny Jump-Ups, the delicate little ivy flowers (I’ll have to look up the name, I just don’t remember right now), and some thyme cuttings.  For the second I put some sedums.  The third, well I haven’t decided.  I just wanted to get a few plants in to see how it would look.  You never know, the ones I planted might get the boot and be replaced…

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I think after I fill in the bottom planter, this will be a great addition to the garden.

Crispy Fried Beef, yes, I’ll have a second helping…

There are some dishes that are easy and super yummalicious, and this is one of them.  With very minimal effort you get something that tastes more difficult than it actually was.

I had some beef that I needed to do something with, and this came to mind.  You could definitely use chicken in place of the beef and it would be just as delicious.  Heck, you could probably get all vegetarian and use tofu…

For the sauce you need all of three ingredients, yes three…

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2 tbsp. soy sauce (normally I use low sodium)

1/2 c. sweet chili sauce

1 orange, zested and juiced

Put all the ingredients in a saucepan and let cook over medium for about 20 minutes.  I like the sauce to cook down just a bit so it’s not as runny.  You don’t want it to boil, or it will burn, just let it simmer.

Next prepare the meat.  Almost any kind of beef will work.  For the amount of sauce above, use one pound of meat.

You will need:

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Peanut oil for frying

1/4 c. cornstarch

1 lb. of beef

Slice the beef into thin strips and coat with the cornstarch.  Make sure all the pieces are coated, this will give you the crunchy texture.  If you substitute flour it will not be as crunchy.  Heat up the oil and fry the meat until it’s slightly browned on the outside, just a few minutes.

Now this next part is tricky, so pay attention… Mix the meat and the sauce.  Depending on how saucy you like it,  you might just want to drizzle it or completely drench it.

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This dish is best served with a salad.  The salad should have some cilantro (unless you are one of those freaks that hates cilantro because it tastes like soap), cucumber, carrots, red pepper and green onions served over lettuce.  I like to dress my salad simply with a splash of rice wine vinegar, no oil, just the vinegar.

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Serve with rice and enjoy!!

Crazy Town

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When you are used to your life because you live it day in and day out, it’s your normal.  Sure I know my home is a little chaotic at times, ok, most times, but it’s my normal.  However, after yesterday’s playdate with Ivy and her son Batman I really saw just how cray cray we are!!  Just one person that is not in my circle of “regulars” and the bubble is popped.  The hubs and I always joke about how life in our home is definitely loud, wild, and lively, but what I saw through Ivy’s eyes was pure nutzoville!!  Maybe if I hadn’t been to Ivy’s house the week before and experienced the calm, peaceful, ORGANIZED home she kept I probably wouldn’t have been so keen to this vision.  Maybe if I hadn’t seen the look on her face after she looked at the living room and asked “this is after you took three boxes of toys upstairs?”  I think I should have just told myself “she cleaned up right before I got to her house and bribed her kid with cookies and Disneyland”.

Then, just as I finally convinced myself living in Crazy Town was ok, she messaged me to say she was selling some of her kids’ toys and did I need more, the sarcasm was quickly noted and I made a decision…we’re moving from Crazy Town to one town over, Notso Crazy Town.  Toys will be culled, markers and crayons organized, bins and baskets properly used, and the toy room will be used!!!

Not sure what the twinadoes will think of the change, but they are young and will adjust.  We’ll never be quite as organized as Ivy, but we won’t be a shopping trip to Toys R Us away from being on Hoarders either.  And, just to note, we have no animal feces or dead things under massive piles of junk!!

Off to cull some toys…. Hey Ivy, we’re having a garage sale next weekend, need some toys?