Friday, September 28, 2012

Small Changes Make A Big Difference

     I usually like to wait until October 1st to put Halloween decorations out in my home, but this year I decided that if the boxes were already out with the fall items, I'd just go ahead and put it all out. My lack of decorating motivation lately made me realize that if I was in the mood to do it...I'd better take advantage of the moment (it might pass quickly). 
     My goal this year was to use what I already had. I did replace the candles and the leaves around the mirror, but other than that my only new purchases were the florals in the urn on the library table. I just couldn't resist all that sparkle!

You can see how bright the sun was as
I took the pictures. They are a little washed out because
of all that brightness, but I do love a sunny, fall day!

     A small decorating tip for this time of year is to cover books used for stacking with brown paper. I used a paper grocery bag to "hide" the colorful book covers that clashed so badly with all the orange, black and burgandy items. Tied with a simple ribbon, they blend much better with everything else.

A little fall, a little Halloween and the house has
an entirely different feel to it with very little effort!
Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Here Comes Fall!

     Well, obviously it has been a little while since I have posted anything! Blogger has changed and this time I don't think we can go back to the "old" way of writing our blog posts. I guess I will get used to it, but at this moment...I'm a little lost!
     I've taken a bit of a blogging break. I have no excuse, just life getting to me and taking away my creativity. I can't exactly say that I'm suddenly inspired, but I am trying. Over the next few days I hope to catch up with those of you who have been inspired to write. 

      Fall is almost here and our temperatures reflect it. Today I actually opened the windows and turned off the air for most of the day. I'm gradually adding a few fall things around the house. I grabbed a wreath from last year and stripped everything off of it (see above).

     I really wanted a very full, thick wreath to hang over the stairway this year. I started layering every fall flower I had in my stash, along with a few leaves and twigs. My plan was to actually fill the center as well, but I ran out of flowers and I was determined to make this one out of only things I already had in the house. I'm using more burgandy and deep rust this year, with less orange.

Along with the cooler temperatures we have
been having some beautiful sky art.

     We enjoyed the 19th annual Corvette Funfest here last weekend. It is always fun to stroll around the grounds and see the cars, enjoy the food and listen to the music. There are Corvettes all over town and parked at Mid America Motorworks (the host of the event) as far as the eye can see.
     We also celebrated Zoe's first birthday! I bought her Paws dog ice cream (it isn't really ice cream) and a new toy. Within just a few minutes she had eaten the ice cream, thrown up and then chewed the toy to bits and we had to throw it away. So much for that celebration! She is calming down a bit in her old age. She still wants to chew on things, but she does drop them now when we look at her. She is absolutely spoiled rotten!
Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower
Albert Camus

Monday, September 10, 2012

I think I can...I think I can!

     It probably comes as no surprise that I am a Foodie. I like to try new things, particularly those things that are specific to an area. I eat fried green tomatoes in the South, beignets in New Orleans and crab legs when I'm at the ocean. I always say I don't like liver and lima beans...or wild game. I also didn't think I liked Sushi. I had only tried it once, from a grocery store and after one bite I swore I wouldn't eat it again.

     While in Orlando last month, my daughter really wanted me to go to her favorite little sushi restaurant. She knows me so well and she swore that there were things that I would like if I'd just give it a chance. I decided if she could eat it...I just might be wrong.

     When I thought of sushi, I thought "raw fish". I have found in conversations since coming home, most people who say they won't eat it think the same thing. I had no idea of the options available that weren't raw and many aren't even fish.

     The above first picture is the pretty platter my husband and I shared in Orlando. There is nothing raw on the plate. One roll is made with a tempura (fried) shrimp in the middle, one with avocado, one with cucumber and cream cheese and one (with the curly stuff on top) has the fried shrimp along with cream cheese and conch. All have sticky rice and Nori (seaweed) which doesn't really taste much in fresh sushi. We loved it all. I was really nervous to put one of those big bites in my mouth and so pleasantly surprised at how good it was!

     In the weeks since, we have had sushi at two other locations closer to home. We can't get it in our town, so I decided to attempt to make it...and it worked! I was able to buy the ingredients at Walmart and didn't buy any special equipment, although most would suggest buying a bamboo rolling mat to help roll the sushi. I used parchment paper with plastic wrap and it worked just fine. I didn't attempt to do any shrimp frying. I opted to make veggie sushi.

     The ingredients are few and inexpensive. I found them in the Asian section of the store. Sushi rice, Nori, rice vinegar, a little sugar,sesame seeds and whatever veggies you want to put in the middle. I used avocado, cucumber, carrot and cream cheese in various arrangements.

Step one: A sheet of parchment paper covered with plastic wrap.

     Step 2: Cook the rice. You can find many recipes online for preparing the rice. After it cooks, it is mixed with a small amount of the rice vinegar mixed with sugar (my recipe mixed the two and microwaved them for 30 seconds) and then it has to cool at room temperature. This is the step that takes a while but has no work involved.

     Some sushi has the rice on the inside and the Nori on the outside, some is reversed. I made both. The rice is very sticky, so you wet your hands and pat it on the nori. If you want the rice on the outside, simply place another sheet of plastic wrap over the top and flip it over. The rice will still stick.

Slice your veggies into long strips.

Cream cheese and avocado-rice on the outside.

Cucumber and carrot-rice on the inside.

Slicing the cream cheese.

     Using the plastic wrap to help, slowly roll the Nori into a tight roll. Take it slowly and press the roll together as you go along. When the roll is complete, dampen the edge of the Nori with a little water and seal it to itself. You can immediately slice the roll into slices, sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve with wasabi or soy sauce.

     Mine isn't nearly as beautiful as what we got in the restaurants, but it turned out pretty well for my first try. My husband said he thought it tasted very much like the restaurant sushi. I thought it was good. I was a little heavy handed with the rice and it was a bit too thick. I also think the Nori at the restauants had less of a taste than the dried I bought at the grocery store. It was actually fun to make!