Thursday, March 27, 2008

Cuban Pizza

The other night we craved pizza. Homemade pizza. But we had some ingredients we needed to use up so I decided a twist was in store.
We love cuban sandwiches and make them quite often. I don't have a real press, but we make do, and they're still delicious.
So with the ingredients in mind, I decided to try to translate the sandwich to pizza.

First I made the crust. I actually cheated when I realized I had a can of Pillsbury Refrigerated Pizza Dough on hand. I pulled and stretched it out to make a rectangular crust. I apparently did this mindlessly and was inspired by the shape of the cookie sheet. I guess if I had been working with a round pizza pan it would have turned out round. I get to thinking about other things while I cook, as it's a little zen-like for me, so I sort of zone out & find that I just follow the shapes and forms in front of me. You pre-bake the crust according to the package.

I took dijon mustard and mixed with a little olive oil. When the crust was finished pre-baking I brushed this mixture on.
I then added shaved ham, roast pork and topped with a mixture of shredded provolone and baby swiss (as that is what I had on hand). I finished baking the crust according to the instructions and about 2 minutes before it was due to be pulled out, I topped with coarsely chopped dill pickles. Then I let it cook for the remaining time.

The end result? Delicious!! (If I say so myself).
Try it sometime!!

P.S. Tomorrow I plan on celebrating my 50th blog post with a giveaway!! So, please come back and see me then and spread the word!!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Sweet Little Birds & Their Crunchy Nests

When you wake to the sound of birds chirping, you get inspired to serve your kids breakfast that looks like this:

Actually another inspiring factor was having received a free trial box of Fiber One cereal in the mail that I didn't think anyone would eat in a normal fashion. Michael of course had to burst my bubble by letting me know it looked like I had served the kids up a big plate of worms. That's when I realized that to me it actually looked more like dog food. I hope you can see past this and only notice the initial cuteness that I & the kids originally appreciated.

Also speaking of birds, I would like to remind everyone that I have extended the deadline for the "sweet little birds swap" I am hosting. You may sign up until Tuesday, March 25th. I have also extended the mail by deadline as a result to April 16th: Please email me if you'd like to be added to the swap-
And, if you haven't done so already, please email me your name & full mailing address & email address along with your blog name & url at your earliest convenience.
You can reach me at:
popsiclesandlollipopsatgmaildotcom (of course just sub in the @ & the . instead of spelling it out)

Friday, March 21, 2008

Spring Flowers

The official arrival of spring is cause for celebration, right?
And it really feels like spring lately, which is wonderful!
We in Florida do tend to cheat a bit, often enjoying spring-like weather in other seasons while people in other locales look out the window and see this:


We on the other hand look just outside and see things like this :
(blooming "wild onions", pulled out of yards and discarded by the handfuls by many gardeners....but why?)

Or this :
(lovely leggy, skirted loropetalum bursting at the seams to shout out spring)

Or this : (tiny hidden clover flower)

Oh, how I love the wisteria hanging over the fence near my little office niche window. The scent is heavenly (it is made more so by being intertwined with wild, sweet honeysuckle). If only it would bloom year round.
And while I eternally pledge my undying love for wisteria, my favorite photo this post, is this little guy. I wouldn't normally be as taken by a single, mostly white flower, but when you take into consideration this beautiful bloom came from a blackberry bramble that is considered by many to be a nuisance, I think it speaks volumes.

I swear, I honestly am not trying to rub it in to those of you not seeing blooms just yet. Please know we are at times quite jealous of a snow. We will never know the delight of waking up to a white Christmas. My kids must build snowmen with beach sand. And we can't throw the "snowballs" we make, or else risk blinding ourselves, then only to spend days, upon days, to get the sand out of our hair.

So, as they say, the grass is always greener (and sometimes it's browner)--- :-)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Hippity Hoppity Easter's on its way....

Easter's just around the corner. Are you ready?
We've been Easter egg hunting three times now. In fact the kids have taken it to be so much a part of their routine, that they come to expect it daily. So, off we go into the backyard to hide eggs each day. I wonder how long it will take them to break this habit? Will they eventually tire of it? One can only hope.
Actually the best part is when Amelia wants to hide the eggs for me to find. She insists I don't look (which is ironic as she is the queen of peeking), then she hides them. Quite well, actually. But as soon as I get to looking she escorts me around pointing them all out and picking them up for me before I even get to them. Sort of takes the fun out of it, huh?
And even at 37, I still like a good treasure hunt, as I am an eternal seeker by nature. That's what we grown-ups have thrift stores for, right? The way I see it, thrifting is our adult daily Easter egg hunt. Only with less candy.

Yes. I bake in that pan. Please don't be frightened. It's just baked on goodness, I swear. And I promise that people who eat things that come out of this pan do live to tell about it afterwards.

Easter Egg Hunt #2- And, yes. Here is my daughter wearing the same (Gasp!!) Easter themed bunny dress. I do like getting my money's worth out of frivolous purchases, but seeing that I got this at consignment for only $10, I guess I could let her wear something else. Especially now that she's worn it all three times to all three Easter Egg Hunts. I mean what if the baby tabloids get hold of this? I don't want her name to be mud. :-)

Monday, March 17, 2008

Shamrocks, Leprechauns & Stuck Heads

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

This is going to be a short holiday greeting. Hopefully not a new family tradition for this holiday, my daughter got her head stuck between two iron bars this morning at preschool. Ay Carumba! Sorry, not a very Irish exclamation. Change that to &%#?! on a Blarney Stone. She is fine after being removed by the fire department with the jaws of life. Actually it sounds much worse than it was. They simply had to use the equipment to just slightly budge the bar a fraction of an inch, just enough to allow her head to slip easily right back through. She is unscathed and busily talking about Leprechauns (I think that's because it's St. Patrick's Day, not due to a head injury). :-) Seriously, thank goodness, all is well.

Hope your St. Paddy's Day proves a little less exciting, or at least exciting in a much different way!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sunny Sundays

Today it was all about nature. One of these days I've got to finally be able to shake hearing Pauly Shore saying "Nay-Chur" whenever I utter the word. Please let that day come soon.
I feel so much better when I'm able to get out on a trail and be immersed in flora and fauna.
Unfortunately we have very few local nature trails where we live...there are more nearby for day trips, but sometimes time doesn't allow such luxuries, so we end up closer to home trying to squeeze in as much fun as possible into short amounts of time.
We headed to the local university nature trail, which is sadly quite littered and polluted. I can't for the life of me figure out why people do this? I mean really. You decide you want to enjoy nature so you make the effort to hit the trail only to toss out your Mountain Dew Code Red bottle and Doritos packaging into the same water you see little creatures swimming in? So very, very frustrating.
Now that I'm off my pulpit, here are some of my favorite photos of our morning stroll--

The sun was so warm on our skin, the breeze just right and the light really lovely. If you haven't already and are able (weather permitting), I encourage you to pack up a picnic or take your crafting materials outside, lay out a blanket and enjoy the outdoors. It's ok if the sun makes you drowsy and you doze off. Nap a little or just sit & daydream a while. I won't tell.

P.S. Then do like me and order yourself a big yummy Greek pizza filled with lots of Gyro, feta and onions!! Yum!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

More Swappity- Swap Swaps

I hope you aren't tired of me just yet. I am most certainly not tired of you. :-)
Indulge me. I know I just blogged about the great swaps I received just the other day.
But then I got more. And I can't blog about some and not mention them all. There's just wayyyyy too much jealousy to contend with. And I don't mean from the swap senders. Oh no. Not them at all. But the swap objects. Ohhhhh yes. They talk. Boy do they talk. It's a real hen house. One Easter basket is bragging on and on because it contained the adorable garland, while the other one is like "Hold on to your vintage embellishments, Sister Sledge. I am holding so much mixed media collage-y goodness that if you were to stick it all on, you just might get your mug featured on the homepage of etsy." It gets ugly. I try my best to stay out of it.

(In order of receipt), I received my spring soiree collage swap from my random selected partner, Kathy. Thank you. Isn't she sweet? I don't see a blog address to link to for Kathy. Kathy if you are out there and come across this post, please email me your link. If you'll recall, this was my creation. I was so pleased to find that my bloggy friend, Mary Ann received my collage. I am happy she likes it. :-)

Next, I received a beautiful Easter basket for our Bella Enchanted Easter Basket swap from Miss Priscilla. Thank you!! Priscilla is a definitely a detail & presentation gal. Everything was just perfect & so pretty!! Lots of wonderful packets of ephemera and candy and she even threw in some treats for my kids. What a sweetheart you are Priscilla. Your basket is hopping down the bunny trail to you very soon, Miss P!

So, anyone want to come over and share some sweet treats? Please don't make me eat all of these alone. Because you know I will. So hurry on over. Quick like!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Thrift Addicts

I really tried to be good. I did. I did. I went for what seems like months without setting foot into a thrift shop, all in the hopes of paring down.The thought was, if I wasn't bringing anything else home, and I was taking stuff out of the house, either by selling or donating, I would achieve a harmonious balance in due time. Or so one would think. Then the stores starting calling to me and I got jones-ing for it in such a way that my body just started reflexively steering right into the parking lot of Super Thrift or St. Vincent de Paul. I couldn't help myself. Anyone out there with this syndrome? Maybe we could form a support group? "Thrift Addicts" sound good?

So here are some of my most recent "had-to-bring-homes":

I am in love with this apron. If I weren't already married, I would take this little darlin' down to the courthouse and elope. That's how much I love it. If you ever can get over to my house and let me cook for you (& I hope you can), this is what I will be wearing (well, not just this, let's hope!!) :-)

I couldn't believe I found this. Not an hour before, I had purchased a new electronic Dymo labelmaker on amazon using a gift certificate I earned from participating in a bathroom market research study. Yes. Funny, I know. As I was buying it in my attempt to magically become "Miss Organization", I thought, "Gosh. I wonder if my mom has my old plastic turnwheel & emboss on plastic tape variety that we used to have when I was a kid?"--- You know the sort. The one you would use to write goofy things like: "KEEP OUT!!!!!!!!!!!" for your bedroom door, which in my case was extra silly, being that I was an only child. You really need a sibling to antagonize with an alarmist message like that. Anyhow, I started thinking how I would love to have it for crafting and how it might be fun for Amelia to play with & learn letters at the same time. Dual-purpose, you know? Then lo & behold I go thrifting and voila, I find the Mac Daddy professional strength version of what I had been daydreaming about. Fate, I tell you. It works in mysterious ways!

Champage, anyone? No? Well, what if it's filled with DIAMONDS? GIGANTIC DIAMONDS!! Ooh la la!! I got two of these and am thinking they are cute for frou frou on my vanity and will serve double duty as fun fanfare for a New Year's Eve party decor. Aren't they over the top?

How cute are these embroidery yarns and strapped to their adorable vintage card to boot? I love this little kit. And I love this up close and personal photo of the wooly detail even more.

A girl can never have too many handkerchiefs. Well, I guess she can, as in today's day and age even one is probably too many, but not for me. I am apparently trying to amass the world's largest hankie collection. I just didn't realize it until I added this new stack to my existing pile (which I will regale you with soon). Beware a vintage, cottony, floral avalanche!

Hope you will share some of your thrifty finds with me soon too!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Swaps, Glorious Swaps

I wanted to devote this post to sharing some of the wonderful swap gifts that have recently been bestowed upon me. I am in heaven, sheer heaven, I tell you!

First (these are in order of receipt), I received the delightful Mother Goose swap package that Elizabeth sent my way. Look, look!!
Of course being the nerd I am, I even had to photograph the boxes they came in. That's part of the fun too, right? Elizabeth has adorable shipping labels.

I first unpacked these darling handmade tags. Too cute!!

Then, there was this cute, cute, cute little button emblazoned box. My craggy looking hand does nothing for the picture. Sorry about that. I guess you now know not to call me for your hand modeling needs.

And this handmade journal.....

And here is everything altogether. Thank you, Elizabeth!! I love it all and promise to get your package out to you soon!!

The next day another box appeared on my step. This one was from Lori, for our Easter Chicks swap. Again, starting with my box...

And to think, I would have been just fine if there had just been waffles (this is the side of the box Lori sent to me) , but oh no, there was much more goodness than just waffles within!!

This sweet basket produced sweet treats, a cute as a button towel, a pouch full of sweet angels and a handmade garland that I at first pulled out backwards and was trying to assimilate..."let's see here, hmmm...does it spell my name? G. N. I.....Hmmmm. No, not my name. Well, maybe it's an acronym." Then, finally I realized I was holding it backwards once I got it all unfurled and found it said SPRING!! Duh! Sometimes my bulb is not all the way lit. :-)

Look how cute it is hanging from my hoosier- I love it!!!!

After I unwrapped everything I found these oh so charming paintings inside my packing materials! How cute is that? I'm all about the details. :-)

Thank you, Lori!! Pure delight!! And, again, your package will be headed your way soon. Promise!

Hope you find some springtime goodies in your post too!!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Midwinter Summertime

Making a fairly regular appearance on our dinner scene is grilled steak salad.
It's easy, economical (thanks to frequent BOGO sales at the supermarket) and pretty healthy thanks to all the supporting cast of vegetables.

What you need:
Your choice of steak cut that is your favorite to grill- I used petite sirloin this time around thanks to a Buy1 Get 1 Free sale at my market-

I marinate the steak in Dale's Seasoning. The beauty of Dale's is I can completely not know what I want to cook that night, pull out the steak, pour on some marinade and it has full flavor in minutes, not hours or days. This is most likely thanks to the miracle of msg, so obviously this is not a product for everyone. We only use it on occasion.

Next grill the steak until it is desired temperature and "doneness". I like mine well. I know I am not "supposed" to as most steak lovers feel this is a grave injustice, but it's a carryover from childhood. My mom always cooked everything well done. I think she lived in fear that we would all surely die of biting into a piece of meat that was the slightest bit pink inside.

While the steak is grilling, prepare the salads. I use organic field greens, baby carrots, English cucumbers, red onions, and mini yellow, red & orange peppers, plus a few regular sized green bell peppers thrown in for good measure.

Aren't these peppers lovely?? I wanted to sit and look at them for days. And they're cute to boot thanks to their diminutive size. I am going to try my hand at growing some this spring/summer.

Once your steak is grilled and sliced (I like it very thin) and your vegetables chopped, you can toss everything together and top with feta cheese. A splash or two of your favorite dressing (I use Greek) and you're ready to eat!

And for dessert, this time of year where we live and the strawberries are coming into season,
you absolutely must make Strawberry Shortcake!
I use the Bisquick recipe on the side of the box for the shortcakes. I have tried many shortcake recipes and keep coming back to this one for its ease. Make sure you add plenty of whipped cream and remember to cut those berries earlier in the day so they get nice and juicy for you once you have sprinkled them with sugar.

Fresh squeezed limeade completes the meal. This is a great for making you feel like summer is already here! Happy Eating!