Nom Nom BBQ!

It's the unofficial, official start to the summer.  And no doubt a lot of us will be BBQ'ing this weekend!

Here are some easy (and 100% tasty) things to cook up and share!

You might not think of this when you think of BBQ, but I love how easy this is whip up and how delicious it is chilled on a hot summer day. 
I started off with lots of recipes and have really simplified things after a making this a few dozen times.

Start with 1 ripe avocado.  Look for one with dark green skin and that you can squish a little with your fingers. If you can only find hard avocados, one trick I have learned is to leave them on the counter in a brown paper paper for a few days till they are squishy.
Mash the avocado fruit after cutting it out of the skin (cut around the big round seed in the middle).  I then add some combination of the following (to taste):

• grated parmesan cheese
• pepper and salt
• garlic (chopped, smashed, or sometimes powdered)
• red pepper flakes
• basil or oregano
• chopped jalapenos

Once you mix that all up, taste, and tweak to your liking from there. I have also seen lemon juice, cilantro, and salsa added to guacamoles. 

Part of the fun is putting your own spin on it or making it to compliment you specific taste for the day!  It's great as a dip with crackers or chips.  It's yummy as a spread on sandwiches.  And I honestly can't resist eating it right off my finger from the bowl -YUM!

Next up... Twice Baked Potatoes

These have a lot of bang for the effort -- plus who doesn't like potatoes that sing with their BBQ?
I made a few tweaks from the hand written recipe provided by my mother in law. 

I didn't have sour cream on hand, so I substitued greek yogurt (YUM!).  I also only made two monster potatoes for Mr. Happy and I. 

Lastly, I noticed this days later.  My mother in law cuts the potatoes in half and then scoops out the insides.  Then refills what looks like mini boats.  I accidently forgot the "cut in half length-wise" step and just scooped out the whole potato.  I think they are nice either way.  But, I think I will try the cut in half ones next time, since these were HUGE and we only ate half of them anyway.
So, to make these.  Grab a few potatoes.  Wash them and poke a few holes in them with a fork.  Then zap them in the microwave to cook them (you can cook them in the oven... but this is so much quicker!).  I think I used about 10 minutes for two hu-mung-o potatoes.

Once cooked, either cut in half length-wise or just scoop out the whole potato.  Put the innards in a bowl.  Mix with cheddar cheese, sour cream (or greek yogurt), butter, salt and pepper, and chives.  You can also add bacon if you like!  Mix those together and then put the mixture back into the potato skins.  Bake the skinds for about 15-20 minutes at 325 degrees.  And voila!  Topped with a little shredded cheese and dill = fancy potatoes that are sure to be a crowd pleaser!

Next, drum roll please....

We'll finish off with a Rack of Ribs!
My mouth is drooling just thinking about them!
Mr. Happy can really make a killer [insert anything here] on the grill, but he really wow'ed me recently with these ribs!

He cooked them for about 4-6 hours in the crockpot with the ribs covered with broth, BBQ sauce, garlic, salt, pepper (and some other stuff that he was feeling at the moment).

When he took them out, they were already tender and flavorful.  The looked a little something like this:
 His next step was to slather them with BBQ sauce.  His BBQ sauce of choice was this:
Then he put the ribs on the barbie... or the grill rather.. and let the BBQ sauce carmelize in the heat from the grill.
By this time I couldn't hardly hold myself back.  I mean there. they. were. 

The ribs of my dreams.  Just begging to be ate.  Fully cooked and ready to go.  Come on grill, finish those puppies up!  Pha-lease!

Are they done yet?
How about now?

Are they done yet?
And bingo!

They were done.

The table was full.

So was our mouths.

And then our bellies.

It was like eating summer.

Not literally.

But really it made me even more excited about all those summer-y things we have coming up!

It really is an awesome time of year!

I hope you are having a great Friday and enjoy the weekend my loves!


It's Farmer Time!

If you just ate, are about to eat, or have eaten in the last 5 days, then you may not want to read this post.

But, if you like to fish and don't mind putting a worm on a hook, then read on!

My Mr. Happy is the kind that likes to dangle squirmy wormys in the water and watch as they drown.  (Or is that me?)  Either way, I noticed a recent need for an abundance for worms around the homestead.

Then I got a brilliant idea.  Worm farm!!
A quick few minutes spent googling resulting in me feeling like this was a piece of cake.  It sounds so easy.  All you need is a container, worms, and worm food.  Easy peasy, right?

Here are some of the links I found:
Bucket of Worms - talks specifically about composting with worms which is another cool benefit to this project of mine.
Home Worm Production - this sounds so professional and official doesn't it?  It's a pretty good step by step of all things worm farm to include how they reproduce.  Did you know that worms possess both male and female reproductive parts.  I am learning so much here!

So, to start my worm farmer journey I picked out a plastic tub that we already had which was on it's last leg, but was the perfect host for a farm!

I drilled about 30 holes in the bottom of the bucket and set off making it home sweet home for my happy little worms which I had spent the better part of half a day digging out of the garden.

The next step was to line the bottom of the tub with newpaper (no color ink as it can poison the wormies).  Then I added a layer of shredded paper.  It looks something like this:
And this.  Looks like I have found an awesome way to reuse that Penny Saver that we get in the mail each week.
Then I added a layer of leaves and then a layer of dirt followed by a second layer of leaves.  Worms like decomposing leaves.
Then I gave my little worms a pep-talk that went something like this.

"Ya'll about to enter a strange new place at the end of the worm galaxy.  Live long, multiple and eat like crazy, and prosper!"  I wonder if worms can make the Star Trek Volcan sign? 
And into the new big estate they went.  Off to find their own piece of happiness.  Off to fill their bellies.  Off to make very rich gardening dirt.  Off to make sure I'm not crazy and didn't make their farm wrong.

And they were off.  My little babies flying the nest!
The last part was to water the farm.  I did wet the newspaper before I put the dirt and leaves in, but I wanted to make sure that the farm was moist enough to keep my little worms happy.  I didn't put a ton of extra water in, but in the case that I did, the excess will go out through those holes I drilled in the bottom.

And that's it.  I am now Farmer Christie, keeper of fishing/composting worms to the stars!  Well, at least to my star... Mr. Happy.

The instructions say to feed the farm and somewhat leave it alone for a month for them to do their thing.  I can't wait to see what happens.

You can bet I will be giving Worm Farm updates in the very near future!

Note: I am not an expert at this.  In fact, this is my first attempt.  If you have any advice, I warmly welcome it!  And on the other hand, if you are interested in creating a farm of your own, I say read up and go for it!  Seems like this would also make for a fun project with kids (maybe on a smaller level).


Blue Skies

What do you do when traffic is getting you down or stopped rather? 

Why, take pictures of the perfecting ahh-mazing blue sky above you.  Right?
And then realize how dirty your windshield is.  And push the button to lower the window to get a better shot.
And then notice how pretty a cloud looks.
These tree's are pretty, right?  Of course the reflection in the windshield makes me laugh.

May as well use a little stopped time to find a reason to smile!

Crank up a good song and take in the neat things around you.


Strawberry Scones

I have had the urge to make strawberry scones for some time now.

And, I am excited that I was able to hide in the kitchen long enough on Saturday morning to whip up a batch.

I took fresh strawberries (1/2 cup chopped) and added them to a basic recipe to sweeten things up!
Here is what the dough looked like while I was shaping and cutting the blob into scones.
And now dropped onto a baking sheet.
Don't these look just down right delish-i-oso?  Minus that fact that they are raw dough and stuff.
And presto... 10-12 minutes (9 minutes for me in the convection oven)... and they are golden and steamy!
I about died seeing them all cooked up!  I had barely transferred them over to a cooking rack when I snatched one up and began devouring it!
These are the ones that made it to the rack.
I just adore the bits of strawberry that were poking here and there.  Gave them a really nice pop of color!
And then of course they needed a little drizzle.
Of icing that is.
A tablespoon or two of powdered sugar, vanilla extract, water, and lemon juice all mixed up made the perfect compliment!
Don't you just wish that was drizzling right on your tongue?
It was pretty good on the scones too!

And there you have it!  My craving was satisfied. 

I was covered in flour and butter which is second best to being covered in dirt from the garden. 

And my apron got some action.  My apron always appreciates when it gets some action! 

What have you whipped up for a craving lately?

A good morning, better!

Good Monday morning to ya!

What makes a good morning better?  Why, pictures of the princess of course!
Ahw, those little teenie fangs make my heart pitter-patter everytime!

I have so much to tell you too!

I planted and played in the dirt.
I gave wriggly worms a new home.
I baked.
We barbecued.  It also involved potatoes.  I love potatoes!
I took random sky pictures.


I get to share them all with you.  Yup, an exciting week planned indeed!


Happy Roundup

I have spent a lot of time this week reading and taking happy things in.  I feel like I am looking for a new perpective or for life's next clue to help me find my way.  Gentle reminder to self: life doesn't always work that way.

I wanted to share some of the things I found.  They touched me in someway or even just made me a smidge happier -- even if just for a moment.

"Don't underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can't hear, and not bothering." ~Pooh's Little Instruction Book 
[found at Ruffles and Stuff my go to place for all things sewing inspiration]

[Eddie the golden retriever is from the dailypuppy.com.]

This really really really reminded me of my little Katie-girl and how lucky I am to have such a cute pup in my care.    

Plus how can you resist that I'm so tired I feel asleep in my food bowl look.  I'm smiling ear to ear looking at this!

 The Happiness Photo Assignment over at The Pioneer Woman.  (if haven't ever heard of the Pioneer Woman than I suggest you head over there pronto to meet Mrs. Ree and look at every single one of the happiness photos in this flickr group here.  Yes, I'll wait for you to get back.) 

On a whim I entered this snap of Katie.

Then I started looking at the other entries and couldn't tear myself away from trying to click through each and everyone of them.  It's an intstant booster shot of happiness for your day! 

Here are a couple: (really so hard to even just pick a few...)

 By Jenny Modesitt

 By My Way 2009

By Lizcave

By Asparks7

By gbd04213

The story of When Your Hut's On Fire, which I found over at Christine's BlogThat still makes me giggle everytime too, because I am a Christine too!
It starts off like this:
The only survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He prayed feverishly for God to rescue him. Every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming.

Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect himself from the elements, and to store his few possessions. ..... YES read the rest here!
A magical Woodland Fairy Birthday Party which I found at Kate Landers Events.
At one point, my friends joked around that I would make a great party planner.  And actually, I probably would make a pretty decent party planner.  I adore getting people together for fun, laughter, and merriment!  I love attending to every detail and I love doing unexpected things.  (some what a la Monica from Friends, but I promise I would never ask that you tightly recap your markers -- honest!) 
Along those lines I always find myself snooping for ideas even when I have nothing to plan which is why I find myself glued to Kate's site!  Just check out the cute details and how this woodland fairy theme is carried out to the max (pictures from Kate Landers Events blog)!
Everything looks so magical. 
I am digging the toad stools on the table and as chairs!
The names for the food are so darn creative!  The served things like fairy dust (cotton candy), toad stool cupcakes, dandelion milk, chocolate dew drops, snail sandwiches... oh my goodness!
These are cupcakes with upside down white chocolate chips shoved in as toad stool spots!
The party was complete with fairy outfits and fairy dust take aways.  Sigh.  I only wish I had the need to plan a woodland fairy party.  Mr. Happy's birthday is coming up in June, but I can't say he would be the least thrilled with this theme.  Another one to tuck into my memory for later.

Lastly, I found an artist at Etsy that has me cracking up.  Found at NayArts.
Think abstract backgrounds paired with original cleaver sayings and you get this: (it'sr really hard to try and pick just one or two that I like -- I like them all!)

link here.

Ok, I give, this is probably my favorite.
Link here.

Hilarious, no?
link here.

I'm not 100% sure that I have figured out what my next move is, but at least I am laughing along the way!



One of the simple pleasures of the summer is picking these flowers and blowing them into the wind!

It's been on my mind to try and take a snap of one and here are my first attempts.  The lighting wasn't really good and I think I could hold the camera more steady the next time I try this. 

That said, I still really like how they came out. 
They capture so much texture.
They make me want to go run through a field or sit down for a picnic lunch.

They capture my moodiness!  Oh, and don't forget to make a wish!

I felt these fit in with Mid Week Blues mood hosted by Rebecca at The Dusty Cellar

Don't forget to take a look at the other blues -- some great entries!

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