Thursday, May 31, 2012

brady lee's nutty pasta

 Every now and then I plan out dinner. Mostly, I throw it together with what we have on hand. Generally it turns out pretty good. This was one of those dishes.

When Lilly and Brady come over it is generally Lilly that ends up in the kitchen with me while Brady is outside with the boys playing their elaborate and made-up games. But on this day Lilly was asleep on the couch due to a long school-day at the water park and Brady was up for a new challenge. So cook we did.

First we brushed some pine nuts with olive oil and then roasted them in the toaster oven. 

Well, okay, first we burnt them and THEN we roasted a batch. Whoops. Gotta watch those pine nuts, they are fast cooking nuts. 

(I am not gonna lie. I ate a good bit of those overcooked pine nuts. I may have a weird affinity for burnt food. Don't judge.)

Next we sauteed (over low heat in an iron skillet) a bunch of mushrooms, purple onions and pressed garlic. We cooked them in a mixture of olive oil spray and butter (Probably a lot of butter, but I am not sure because I tend to block my butter use out.)  When the mushrooms were close to being ready I threw in some turkey kielbasa sausage and cooked till good and warm.

At the same time this was going on, we also boiled some water and cooked up a generous portion of angel hair pasta, adding a bit of the pasta water to our mushroom & sausage mixture while it sauteed. (I am not sure how much of a difference it made to the dish,  but I felt as if the Food Network should be calling me at any moment to book a show.)

When the pasta was ready we drained it and then threw it into the pan, letting it soak up all the yummy pan juices, and Brady stirred it all together with the mushrooms & sausage.

After everything was well mixed, I tossed it all into a large serving bowl and topped it off with a healthy helping of feta cheese, salt and those roasted pine nuts. Oh my. So, so yummy if I do say so myself, and since there were zero leftovers I am guessing everything else thought it was yummy too.  

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

all wet

Even though we still had one week of school to go this past weekend was absolutely the best intro to our summer we could have wished for. We got to spend Saturday and Monday with our best pals and we got to stay wet for a better part of the weekend. Always a good thing for me and my water babies.

 This one here is my twin when it comes to swimming. We both could stay in a pool 8 hours a day, no problem.

This one here is almost as hardcore. I remember taking him swimming when he was only a few weeks old and watching him float with only one of Sweet Mans finger holding him up. Where did that baby go?  Almost 12 years old this one. Cheez and wiz. 7th grade next year. That is almost grown. I. Am. Not. Ready.
He had the same literacy teacher in 4th and 6th grade and she is moving schools after this year. Today I hugged her neck and balled like a baby. She took such good care of Wy when he was the new kid at school and has always been so supportive of him and his interest.  We will miss her so much, but I think perhaps I was crying a bit for myself as well. My baby will be a man all too soon.

This weekend we swam in big pools and little pools and pretty much both were wonderful. In fact I think I am going to get one of those huge blow-up pools so that I can float around on a raft and read. It may not be high-class but honey child I will love it so much. Any pool is better than no pool.

Don't Sweet Man and I make cute kids?

And they are interesting and smart. Course I am prejudice I know. But I enjoy my boys so much. The older they get the more fun we have. 

This weekend we also had 3 showings on the house but no offers. I have to confess I am losing heart a bit. I know I shouldn't, but I am. Anyone have any peppy words of encouragement for me?   The house has been sale for almost 6 months and while I know that is a drop in the bucket these days it feels like forever. I am trying to let it go and move into the summer with no expectations. My goal is to enjoy our break fully. To not worry myself or work myself to exhaustion with extra projects. To not fret about those things I cannot control.  I just want to be with my boys, not over-think things, read and relax. But oy vey, those showings always throw me for a bit of a loop.

Maizy got all wet this weekend too. Course she wasn't quite as excited about it as we were, but oh la she is so pretty and fluffy now. Sweet girl. I love this dog something crazy. It is truly ridiculous.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

soy joy pt 6 - the greener side {finale}

Recently I was invited to P. Allen Smiths farm to take part in Bean2Blog day which was sponsored by the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board. and was hosted by P. Allen.  The day was beautiful and educational and it is taking me forever to tell all about it. If you want you can read  Part 1 Part 2 Part 3Part 4 and Part 5 of my Soy Joy experience. 


Well, I guess I better finish this series and get back to the daily goings-ons around here. Especially since we are about to move into summer and our first family vacation in forever. But let's not rush off just yet. Let's linger for more moment at Moss Farm shall we?

For today's post I thought I would bring things back down to earth a bit and get to the root of the matter: Soy.
The first thing along those lines I have to show you is this amazing lunch that we had. The Pork and Veggies came from this recipe  (and you can even read  Alison's take on it as well on her blog) and were so good I was tempted to lick my plate.  The Baked Potato with Spicy Tofu (minutes the pork in the recipe) was  to die for and I cannot wait to make it for my fells. They will never believe it is tofu!

Here is Allen (don't you love how I have dropped the P? Yeah, we are so bff's.) and Jim Carroll talking about growing edamame in container gardens, kitchen gardens and for families. Listening to these two discuss farming and history was pure delight. They were both so at ease and seemed to really enjoy making something as pedestrian as soy, personal for each of us.

So is a huge crop in Arkansas, more than I ever realized. I knew we grew it but I had no idea how much we grew and all the ways it is being converted into useful objects other than just food. In fact if you bought a car recently there is a chance your headrest was made from soy product. Who knew? 

I had to show you this graphic that was in the front of our info packets because I thought it was so good lookin. I am such a sucker for good marketing and pretty graphics. 

I know there is a lot of controversy about soy online but I pretty much feel about soy the way I do about most things. Moderation is good. Balance is good. Enjoy the goodness it has to offer. If it makes you nervous, be cautious. It is always too soon to freak out.

After we chit-chatted about soy we toured Allen's 1 acre veggie garden, where we all got down and dirty and filled in a row of tilled soil with soy beans.  If you want to see proof, head on over to Ashley's blog- she somehow managed to get a picture while I was too worried about dropping all my seeds!

Next we all munched on the rows of blackberries there were ripening. So fresh and yummy. My favorites were the ones that were so warm I truly felt like I was eating a little piece of sunshine. I generally not a berry picker for fun, but I think I could get used to eating hot blackberries off the vine.

During the entire day Allen's camera crew followed us around asking us questions about the day and things like "what is your favorite soy product?"  After the initial fit of giggles we all put our game faces on and acted like having a film crew follow us around was standard stuff.
Everyone on the crew and the P. Allen Smith staff were so nice, helpful and easy to work with. You could tell that they were all pro's with a job to do, but that they were excited to see us excited about the day.

Moss Farm is heavily influenced by Mt. Vernon, Monticello and Allen's years in England, which you can easily discern if you look closely from house to garden to fields. The college history major in me really connected to this idea of using historical inspiration - not just for decorating -but in the garden as well. I especially loved that Allen is working to cultivate organic and heritage breeds  of all kinds in his gardens and in his livestock. Raising heritage animals and plants is something we are hoping to do when we have our farm and I was really encouraged by what I saw at Moss Farm.

The gardens are beautiful but they are also warm and inviting. They are in keeping with the house, the region, the land, and the history of our country and the farm. The are not showy or garish.

But they are a little magical.

After all our tours were done, and our candle, lotion and soy milk making lessons were over, it was time to wind things down. And so we had a cocktail party under the 350 year old oak tree and enjoyed the creative and fun sounds of the  Mockingbird Hillbilly Band while munching on Edamame humus and tofu spinach dip. And yes, of course, both were delish. As cheesy as it sounds, it was at this point that I felt a little bit like I had died and ended up in an issue of Garden and Gun.

The perfect end note to the entire day were these adorable "dirt and sprout" chocolate cupcakes. Topped with cookie crumble and a sprig of mint they looked just like a little soy shooting it's way up out of the earth.

I know that 6 post probably seems like a lot to devote to one day, but I am pretty sure I could have devoted 6 more. Luckily for all of us, there were 19 other bloggers at Moss Farm that day and they are doing a great job of filling in the gaps I have left.  If you can check out these lovely ladies and see what all the have to say about the joy of soy and their takes (and pics) on the day. I was so honored to share this experience with them. 

(thanks to Cara whose list I snatched!)

Stephanie McCratic
Kelly Stamps
Lyndi Fultz
Amy James
Sarah Bird-Bogner

Christie Ison
JoBeth "boots" McElhanon
Alison Chino
Jerusalem Greer
Cara Wilkerson
Ashley Ederington
Tara Johnson
Anita Stafford
Kricia Palmer
Fawn Rech
Lela Davidson
Latonya Richardson

Thank you for traveling  through my never-ending scrapbook of this day and for allowing me to gush about this experience. You are the bestest pals a bloggin gal could have.

Monday, May 28, 2012

soy joy pt 5 -inside out

Recently I was invited to P. Allen Smiths farm to take part in Bean2Blog day which was sponsored by the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board. and was hosted by P. Allen.  The day was beautiful and educational and it is taking me forever to tell all about it. If you want you can read  Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 and Part 4 of my Soy Joy experience. 


Here is the thing.Living in Arkansas (and I love my state dearly, I do) I have become accustomed to being disappointed in the interiors of homes deemed "showcases" or "fancy."  I know better than to judge the inside of a home based on it's curb appeal. Cottage, colonial and farmhouse may describe the architecture style but it will most likely have nothing to do with the inside (which are usually so dark and heavy that I feel suffocated.) So imagine my excitement, delight and complete design geek-out giddiness when P. Allen Smiths farmhouse insides matched the outside above and beyond my wildest dreams.

 It will come as no surprise to those of you who have been hanging around here that my two favorite spaces (besides the kitchen) were the Sleeping Porch and the Kids Space.

Here are some notes on the touches that made these rooms my very favorites: (WARNING: I might gush.)

In the whole house slipcovers (seen here on the headboard and footboard) were liberally used. I cannot have enough slipcovers in my life.

Painted furniture. Everywhere I turned. I think that pale green chest is about the most perfect color green ever. 

Painted floors. So many of the spaces had painted wood floors. My plan is to paint the floors in my farmhouse but I have rarely seen this technique installed up-close and personal. It was so refreshing to see someone else go for this look with gusto.

Light everywhere. There was so much natural light in each and every room that you couldn't help but feel happy. But also, each and every bed and reading nook was pre-stocked with personal lighting. Perfect for guest who want to stay up later than everyone else and finish that great book.

Pattern and pallet. Everywhere there were great patterns and a consistant pallet. Lots of fun colors, nothing too heavy or serious. Always a mixture of whimsy and history. When walking us through the house Allen mentioned that many of the hard surfaces (tables, sideboards, cabinets) were authentic antique pieces, but that all the soft surfaces - chairs, couches, beds - were new because he believes in comfort. 

(The kids space reminded me of the lake condo I decorated a lifetime ago. Nice to know I was on the right track with my mixture of soft and hard, pattern and light...)

 Here is the sleeping porch. People you know how  much I love screened in porches. People who build decks are weird (sorry!!) Screened porches are so much better! No bugs! You can have rugs and ceiling fans! What is wrong  with everyone??

So P. Allen has 2 screened porches. 2. Oh that is heaven. One for eating/hanging out off the kitchen and then this one.

Rumor has it that they changes all the bedding and cushions out seasonally. Be still my heart. And those shutters. Oh I love shutters. And they are functional AND pretty. Swoon.

All 4 of Allen's porch ceilings are painted a robins egg blue (just like my pink porch!) to keep the wasp away. Again, notice the beadboard? I could have bead board in every ceiling in every room of my house. 
Absolutely divine.

There is the great soaking tub, more painted floors and painted wicker. How could anyone not LOVE this porch?

Okay, so I am a bit of a fan and perhaps I have gushed a bit but being able to walk through a home that puts into practice so many of the design elements that I love was a real treat.

And not only is Allen's home gorgeous, historically influenced and comfortable, it is also incredibly green.

You can read all about how he built Moss Farm using green and sustainable resources here.

And if you want to see his latest project building the greenest 1600sq ft house possible for 150K in 150 days check these videos out (I have already started taking serious notes.)

Tomorrow we talk gardening and soybeans and  wind up this series officially (thought other bits and pieces may leak in from time to time...)

Sunday, May 27, 2012

sundays challenge

we will continue with my soy joy adventures tomorrow, but for today, or rather tonight. why don't we just think on this...

Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.
Philippians 4:8 (The MSG)

Let's find the beautiful, the authentic, the gracious.
Especially in the most unlikely of places.
Shall we?

Saturday, May 26, 2012

soy joy - pt 4 a little potty humor for the weekend

Recently I was invited to P. Allen Smiths farm to take part in Bean2Blog day which was sponsored by the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board. and was hosted by P. Allen.  The day was beautiful and educational and it is taking me forever to tell all about it. If you want you can read  Part 1 and Part 2  and Part 3 of my Soy Joy experience. 


Ha! Gotcha. Or rather Lyndi got me. Coming out of the guest bath with my camera in hand. This is a big byproduct of a blogger day. Lots of walking into each others shots. 
As you can imagine the bathrooms at Moss Farm are lovely, airy, classy and even whimsical at times.
From the sinks to the hardware to the wall colors and textures, every bitty bit was gracious and lovely.
Also all the toilets were in their own little rooms with their own little doors. For someone living in a one bath house with 3 males I could really appreciate this forethought. In fact the wheels are turning now for the farm remodel. When we get there. Cause we will ya know. And it will be lovely and gracious too. And the toilet will have it's own door. Mark my words.

I made this collage with PicMonkey ( my favorite photo editing program currently) and if you want to check out these pictures you can find them individually on my Pinterest boards.

I hope your weekend is lovely and relaxing!

Friday, May 25, 2012

soy joy pt 3 - a recipe for perfection

Recently I was invited to P. Allen Smiths farm to take part in Bean2Blog day which was sponsored by the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board. and was hosted by P. Allen.  The day was beautiful and educational and it is taking me forever to tell all about it. If you want you can read  Part 1 and Part 2  of my Soy Joy experience. 


Like everything at P. Allen Smith's Moss Mountain Farm, the kitchen was beautiful and perfect and lovely. And somehow I never got a full pictures of it. While editing my photo's I realized that in general I choose to snap shots of the bits and pieces instead of the larger story. I bet there is a metaphor in there somewhere, but it is the weekend so I am not going to think about it too hard. Anyway, you will see below that I concentrated more on the details. But luckily for me - and you! - I was with 19 other bloggers all snapping away. I think Cara's pictures are some of the best of the house so far and you should  go take a look if you want to see the large full room picture.  

as to the details, here are a few of  my favorites:

Layers of texture;
Of course I was in love with the painted shaker cabinets and the marble counter-tops from the word hello.  But then I noticed all the other layers, all the textures. Look at the back-splash behind the ceramic roster you will notice the wainscoting is vertical. However if you look above the cabinet you will notice the walls are a horizontal wood paneling. And the ceiling is a painted wood slats with thick simple moldings around the ceiling and windows. 

User Friendly;
Here is the sink. Again notice the marble splash guard and then the horizontal painted wood paneling. 
Also there were a few dirty dishes in the sink. Adorable. And the window ledge right above the sink letting in the beautiful morning light. The perfect place to set some tomatoes to ripen or a coffee cup while you wash up the breakfast dishes. 

The pot and pan storage below is also another example of something user friendly. Instead of craming pots and pans into the back of deep counters, this shelf was built more shallow to allow for only row of pots per shelf. This way all the pots are seen and used and there is less wasted space.

Perfect Imperfection;
There were several places in the kitchen that had open shelving and most of them were crammed full of cookbooks. Notice how they are not in any order? They are not stacked according to height or spine color? They aren't even facing the same way. I love this. This means this kitchen is not just for show. It gets used . A lot. 

No Detail Too Small;
You know that my little artsy designery heart just adored how thorough every detail had been thought out and executed. Like the cabinet hardware: Simple, timeless, clean. Not fussy, not over the top. Perfectly at home in a farmhouse kitchen.

Consistency vs. Trendy;
The trendy thing to do would be to have an all stainless oven and stove. But how authentic would that have looked? Enamel over cast-iron ovens came before stainless, and so this Viking oven with the white front and knobs flows right in line with this house, built out of inspiration for a 200 year old farmhouse. The white is softer and more consistent with the style of house and  decor. Golly I love that.

I think it would be a shame to show you this beautiful kitchen without giving you something yummy to take away with you, so I thought I would share this Edamame dish that P.Allen made for us on Tuesday:
(Where it says soybeans we used frozen edamame in the pods) 

This is what it looks like cooked. We each tried just a few, but I could have eaten the whole bowl by myself. So, so yummy. If you try this let me know. I don't have a Wok so I may try it in a regular pan. Let me know if you have made this and how, you know I love a good tip!

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