Recipe Review: Mango and Radish Salad with Lime Dressing

I found this recipe years ago in a Martha Stewart magazine.  As per usual, Martha has combined ingredients in a deliciously surprising way that I never would have thought of.  I’ve made this recipe once before but I decided to make it again recently for my nephew’s baptism ‘after party.’  I’m not a big fruit-in-salad person.  Personally I think fruit should just be left alone.  Don’t dip it in anything, don’t mix it with anything, just leave it be.  I’m a fruit purist if you will.  Either way, the recipe was a hit.  Here’s what you need…

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 mango, peeled & cut into wedges (look for one that isn’t overly ripe, you don’t want it squishy but you don’t want it hard either)
  • ½ English cucumber, thinly sliced (you cannot substitute a ‘regular’ cucumber)
  • 1 bunch radishes (about 8), halved or quartered
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh lime zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh (not bottled!) lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Coarse salt (I used a sea salt grinder)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Arrange mango, cucumber, and radishes on a platter.
  2. Whisk together lime zest and juice, oil, and honey.
  3. Drizzle dressing over salad, and season with salt.

THOUGHTS

  1. This dish is beautiful
  2. It’s extremely refreshing
  3. I think there’s waaaay too much dressing.  After this salad sat for an hour or two there was a good two inches of liquid at the bottom.  Yuck.  When I make this again, I’m going to combine the lime zest, lime juice, EVOO & honey in a bottle, shake shake shake, and drizzle some onto the salad until I reach the desired amount of dressing.  (I would use closer to a third, or half, of the recommended amount)
  4. For a company worthy meal I suggest serving this with Martha’s Garlic-Jalapeno Shrimp, Rice with Peas and Cilantro and Caramel Custards.

I linked this recipe up here:

I Heart Nap Time

blah2beautiful

Sewing fills my days, not to mention the living room, bedroom, and closets. ~ Author Unknown

So the other day I read this blog post from one of my favorite bloggers A Girl & A Glue Gun.  It’s about this lovely little fabric shop called Allegro Fabric & Notion.  Now, I love fabrics and have become a bit of a hoarder collector since finally figuring out how to use my sewing machine.  Granted, I haven’t actually made anything (other than this shirt and these bags) but the fact that I know how to use the sewing machine seems to justify these purchases to me.  You get my logic right?  Anyways, for whatever reason my willpower seems to be exponentially stronger when viewing adorable fabric online (whereas when I walk into Joann’s I’m totally powerless).  So, I’m able to peruse their wonderful selection without immediately digging for my debit card. 

Also, according to the afore mentioned blog post, Allegro does something super cool where you can buy their sewing kits and they’ll send you everything you need – the pattern, fabric, elastic, buttons, etc etc etc.  How cool is THAT?

I’m DYING to learn to quilt so that I have even more excuses to buy fabric can finally do something with the fabric I have. 

Want to see some of my favorite fabrics?  Sure you do…

If fabric this cute doesn’t make you want to sew there’s something seriously wrong with you.  Just sayin.

They also have some super cute patterns.  I didn’t want to learn to sew in order to sew clothes, that’s just not really my gig, but these patterns are still super cute. 

Recipe Review: Pesto Tuna Salad with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

I’m about to share a life changing recipe with you.  Are you ready?  I’m totally giving away a secret weapon here.  This is one of my go-to recipes whenever I’m asked to bring something to a potluck or cater an event.  It’s always a hit and people are always tripping over themselves to ask me about the recipe.  I can’t take any credit for the recipe itself though, I totally didn’t come up with it.  I was just lucky enough to stumble across it one day and make it.  So I’m giving mad props to the girl who was inspired enough to come up with this recipe and can’t thank her enough for sharing.  You can find the original source of the recipe here.

Pesto Tuna Salad with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 6-oz can water packed tuna
  • ¼ cup prepared basil pesto sauce (usually found in your grocers refrigerated section)
  • 6 oil-packed sun dried tomatoes (these usually come julienned or in ‘strip form’)
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese (we prefer the ‘powdered’ kind versus the grated kind in this recipe)
  • 4 slices white bread or lettuce

DIRECTIONS:

In a bowl, mix the tuna, pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, mayonnaise, and Parmesan cheese. Cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve.  Serve on toasted white bread or rolled in washed lettuce leaves.

NOTES:

I typically pulse the sun-dried tomatoes in my food processor.  It’s hard to cut the slippery little buggers on a cutting board with a knife.  So, if you have one I highly suggest this method.

We usually make a large batch (last time I made this I multiplied everything by 10!) – it stays good for several days so if you have leftovers you’ve got lunches covered for a few days!  Yum!!!

(note:  it appears that in this photo she’s topped it with a few fresh basil leaves and either some fresh tomato slices or some roasted red bell peppers)

I’ve linked this recipe up here:

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“Good order is the foundation of all things.” ~ Edmund Burke

This post has been a long time in the making.

When mom moved out a few months ago one of the very first things I tackled was to get a handle on the distaster that was our pantry.  It had been getting worse for months and once combined with several large coupon-driven shopping trips in a row I finally just got frustrated.  It was ridiculous to me that the things we use the most often (like dog food and coffee) were stuck in some random deep, dark corner of the pantry instead of front and center where they should be.  Instead, the easily accessible items were things we rarely used (olive tapenade anyone?).

One of the first things I always do when I’m organizing a space is attempt to put everything in similar containers.  This way, things stack and fit better together.  As we’re NO WHERE NEAR ready to renovate this part of the house (in fact, it’s probably last on our list) we kept this reorganization simple.

I purchased several sets of matching Rubbermaid Tupperware from Sam’s and got to work.

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I started by removing everything from the pantry and grouping like items (canned foods with canned foods, rice and pasta, cooking oils, etc) and placing them on the bar.  Then, I placed each item that was originally in a box or other container (think Bisquick, brown sugar, rice, etc) in a Tupperware and labeled it.  Lastly, I put items back into the pantry based on frequency of use.  The dog food, which we use twice a day every day without fail was placed front and center on the bottom shelf of the pantry.  Easy access.  Items like refill containers of mayonnaise were relegated to the dark corner recesses of the pantry (which makes sense when you think that we only need those items what?  once a month maybe?).  I realize that this may not look like a huge change picture wise but man oh man are we so happy with it!  Yay for organization!

Note:  I used these wonderful Erasable Food Storage Labels from The Container Store that we’ve had forever.  You write on them with permanent marker (no smudging!), they’re dishwasher & freezer safe and they’re erasable!  We’ve had them for years and we love ‘em!!!!  Oh, and I love that you can order replacements of just the labels, or the marker, or the eraser.  Gotta love The Container Store.  I could easily spend an entire months paycheck in there.

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BEFORE (‘front’ of pantry)

AFTER (‘front’ of pantry)

BEFORE (‘side’ of pantry aka deep dark recesses)

AFTER (‘side’ of pantry aka deep dark recesses)

A peek at our nicely labeled and stackable tupperware:

Do you have any secrets to pantry organization?

I’ve linked up to these great parties:

Five Days Five Ways

”I bought a Venus Fly Trap today. I was going to name it ‘Republican’, but the fly trap is beneficial to the environment. I’ll save that name – someday I might find a plant that eats poor people and minorities.” ~ Unknown

Before you get your panties in a knot I want to clarify that 1, I found the quotation funny and 2, it’s about the only quotation out there about Venus Flytraps.  If you know me, you know I’m a Republican.  I’m about as right wing as it gets EXCEPT on environmental issues.  Then I swing left.  Part of the humor with this is that I voted the other day and the Republican line was out the door and there wasn’t a single person in the Democratic line. 

So when the Hubs and I were out shopping the other day for various landscaping items we came across a Venus Flytrap.  I thought he was quite nifty but we ultimately decided not to buy him as I didn’t know squat about their care.  Over the next few days I researched their needs on this website.  Here’s the gist:  they like a lot of light, moist but not wet soil (and you must water with distilled water only), absolutely no fertilizer, and loose soil.  Sounds easy enough right?  About a month later we were wandering through Lowe’s and we spotted another one.  This time, I picked him up. 

Apparently, Venus Flytrap’s don’t like for their soil to warm up or cool down too quickly so based on recommendations on the aforementioned website I got a Styrofoam cup, cut the top off, punched holes in the bottom, and placed the sucker in a terra cotta pot.  Then I filled it with a combination of plain ol’ potting soil, vermiculite (seed starter mix), peat moss and moisture granules (I placed some light pebbles on top to hold down the peat moss). 

He did great for the first few days and then suddenly one of his ‘mouths’ turned black.  Apparently this can happen from too much light, too little light, and even a ‘bad bug’ (one laden with pesticides, etc).  In this case, I’m fairly certain it’s a light related issue.  This little guy was living in a small shelf in the interior gardening section of Lowe’s and after I planted him I just stuck him right outside in partial sun.  basically, I think it was just a shock to his system.  So, I haven’t changed anything and the situation isn’t getting better or worse.  I’m going to leave it as is unless it starts getting worse. 

I haven’t seen Chomper (that’s his name btw) chow down on anything yet but I’m definitely watching out for it!  Here’s hoping he eats some mosquitos!!!

Here’s our little guy:

Are you ready for the best damn summer of your life? ~ Pat Finley in Heavyweights

Do you have kids?  I don’t but with school ending in my school district it got me thinking…. What do all you people with kids do when summer gets here?  Nowadays most families consist of two working parents, so it’s doubtful that one parent is taking a three month vacation to stay home with their kiddos (unless, of course, that parent happens to be a teacher).  I’m sure that there are lots of daycare-type schools that take school age children during the summer and of course, there’s always hiring a private sitter/nanny for the summer as well. 

As a child, there were two things that I loved most about summer… the pool was finally open and… SUMMER CAMP!  I honestly couldn’t tell you how old I was the first time that I went to summer camp but what I can tell you is that I absolutely loved it.  I didn’t have any fear or apprehension of being away from my parents for an entire week.  I was THRILLED.  Years later, I became a camp counselor at the same camp.  Occasionally I’d have a camper who was experiencing home sickness but most of the time we were just having too much fun.  It’s been years since summer camp was a regular part of my life but I got to thinking and wondering about what kind of camps are available nowadays. 

Some camps are the kind (like I went to) where you take your kids, drop them off, leave them there for a week and then pick them up.  Others you drop them off in the morning on your way to work and pick them up on your way home.  Still others, you ship them off for several weeks or months.  I can’t speak personally about any of these camps (except the first one, which is the one I went to) but I thought it’d be nice to see your options even though summer is already here.  If it’s too late to sign up now, there’s always next year!

FAITH-BASED WEEK-LONG CAMPS:

CAMP ALLEN

The Breakdown:

Camper age: camps are available for ages 8-18

Cost:  $516 and $450 for 1 week enrollments

Session length:  1 week (Sunday – Saturday)

Activities include:  blobbing, archery, horseback riding, lake swim with iceberg, canoeing, campsite wide adventure games (these are so freaking fun!), swimming, live clue (a blast!), environmental education classes like herpetology, kayaking, disk golf, low challenge course, high challenge course, giant swing, arts and crafts, basketball, and field games.

My opinion:  your kid will never have more fun.  I loved every minute of camp and looked forward to going back every single year.  There are lots of camps like this in and around the Houston area (and elsewhere in the U.S.).  Other week-long faith-based camps that I’ve heard great things about are:  Camp Cho-Yeh and T bar M.

CITY-SPONSORED DAY CAMPS

SUMMER DAY CAMP AT IMPERAL PARK RECREATION CENTER

The Breakdown:

Camper age: camps are available for ages 5-13

Cost:  $140 for residents, $170 for non-residents (price per week)

Session length:  1 week, up to 11 consecutive weeks available.  Camp is M-F 9am-6pm (extended camp hours available for additional cost are 7am-6pm).

Camp includes entertaining trips, imaginative arts & crafts, interactive educational classes, and recreational sports.

My opinion:  This seems like a great idea for those who work full time and are at a loss regarding what to do with their kids during the week. 

THEMED DAY CAMPS

HOUSTON MUSEUM OF NATURAL SCIENCE EXPLORATIONS DAY CAMP

The Breakdown: 

Camper age:  ages 6-12

Cost:  Varies depending on the age of the camper and the camp chosen.  Some as low as $184.

Session length:  Camps are held Monday – Friday from 10 am – 3 pm. For an additional weekly fee, care is available before camp begins each day, from 8 – 10 am, and after camp ends, from 3 – 5:30 pm. 

There are a variety of camps including:

Chemistry Camps, including Junior Science Magic, Booms and Blast Offs, Wizard Science Academy, Kitchen Chemistry, Bedazzled, Crime Scene Investigators and Super Science Magic.

Space Camps, including Space Cadet, Space Pilot, and Senior Space Commanders.

Robotics Camps, including Roving Robots, Robolab and Battlebots, and the new and improved Advanced Robotics. 

Physics Camps, including the always popular Star Warrior’s Academy, the new Star Warrior’s Council, Booms and Blast Offs, Junior Science Magic, Water Works, Da Vinci Science, Earth’s Wild Ride, Disaster Science, Extreme Machines, Fast & Furious and Design and Destroy

Social Studies Camps, including Mummies and Mysteries, Science of the Round Table, Da Vinci Science, and Medieval Madness

And Dinosaur Camps, including Junior Paleontologist, Dino Claws and Shark Jaws, and Paleontology 101!

Click here for a full list of camps by age range.

HOUSTON ZOO CAMP ZOOFARI

The Breakdown: 

Camper age:  ages 4-12

Cost:  Varies depending full day or half day camps.  $140-$445

Session length:  All camps are Monday-Friday. Half-day camps for ages 4-5 are from 9 am-12 pm or 1-4 pm. Full-day camps are from 9 am-4 pm.

 The camp I’d most like to do:  Keeper Camp: Enroll for zookeeper boot camp and learn what it’s like to feed, clean, train, and take care of our animals.

For a full list of the available camps click here

ALLEY THEATRE YOUNG PERFORMER SUMMER STUDIOS 

The Breakdown: 

Camper age:  The program is open to students entering grades 2-12

Cost:  $750

Session length:  Each Studio level meets Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to  3 p.m.  Sessions are 3 weeks long.  At the close of each three-week studio program, family and friends are invited to a final performance – a culmination of the process students have experienced during their summer session at the Young Performers Studio.

 My opinion:  Theme based camps are fabulous ideas for children.  It allows them to get away during the day for a week but still come home at night to their beds and a home cooked meal.  They’re also great ideas for children who get bored easily.  You could send a child to several different theme-based camps over the course of one summer.  Hopefully, you’ll never hear them yell ‘I’m bored!’

 

LONG TERM CAMPS

 CARDIGAN MOUNTAIN SCHOOL SUMMER SESSION 

The Breakdown: 

Camper age:  The program is open to students entering grades 3-9

Cost:  Three-week Program (with boarding) $4,944 / Six-week Program (with boarding) $8,240

Session length:  Three or Six weeks

Located in the foothills of New Hampshire’s White Mountains, the Cardigan Mountain School Summer Session combines academic review and enrichment with all of the recreation and fun of a traditional summer camp for boys and girls in grades 3-9. In the mornings, students can hone their skills in math or reading; work on study skills, note taking or test prep; or challenge themselves through literature, rocketry, robotics or foreign language courses. Classes in music, pottery, drama, and photography highlight the arts program, and Cougar Clinics give students the opportunity to practice a favorite sport or learn a new one. With so many choices, each student can design his or her ideal summer experience. In the afternoons and weekends, the 500 acre lakeside campus provides an ideal setting for sports, swimming, sailing, and simply enjoying summer in New Hampshire. Numerous off-campus trips, evening performances and bonfires, and our annual Green and White competition round out the Cardigan experience.

 My Opinion:  I like the idea of children taking some academic classes during the summer.  Even though school is out, three months is a long time to go without any schooling at all.  I think six weeks is a bit long to go to camp but the three week camp sounds just right.  This is probably best for ‘older’ children in grades 5-9 as I would think younger children would struggle with three weeks away from home. 

 These are, of course, just a handful of the plethora of camp options out there.  I think camp is a truly great experience that every child should have.  Personally, I don’t think it’s healthy for a child to never spend a night away from home except with relatives (I know people who are this way with their children).  Camp is a safe way for them to experience a little bit of independence.  Regardless of whether or not you choose to enroll your child in a summer camp, summer should be filled with fun and learning.  I think it’s imperative that parents spend more time with their children during the summer months and that children are not left to play video games and eat pizza at home all day.  Kids need to get out there and have some FUN! 

 What about you?  Did you go to summer camp when you were a kid?  Do you know of any other summer camps that you recommend?  What were some of your favorite summer time activities?

“Guys, a woman’s purse, alright, it’s her secret source of power. Alright? There are many dark and dangerous things in there that we, the male species, should know nothing about.” – Ben (Matthew McConaughey) in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days

Are you a purse person?  I’m not.  I carry one because I have a ton of stuff that I need to take with me on a daily basis and there’s no other way to lug it all around (except maybe a fanny pack, but let’s face it, the last thing I need is to draw any more attention to my fanny).  Anyways, because I’m not a purse person this also means that there are very few purses I actually like.  When I come across one (which is a seriously rare occurrence) I buy it because I know that eventually I’ll need it.  I also don’t buy expensive purses.  I tend to purchase them at places like Target and Charming Charlie and I think the most I’ve ever spent is around $50 and I had a serious time swallowing that price tag.  Generally I will use a purse until it’s torn to shreds.  I just don’t see the point in changing them out to go with outfits.  I have many, many, many more things that need my time.  If I’m dressing up for some special occasion then I’ll take the time but otherwise, I’m using what I’ve got. 

The other day I decided it was definitely time to get a new purse.  I also carry a large black bag to work every day and that one was just in sad shape.  One of the handles had started to rip off (several months ago) and my genius solution was to tape the sucker back together with electrical tape (hey it’s black, it blends right?).  Well the tape wasn’t holding (and another handle on the same purse was starting to tear as well) and the handle on my regular purse was falling apart too so I finally caved. 

Old purse (sorry for the fuzzy picture, I was trying to get a picture of the damage)

New purse.

Old work bag

New work bag

(excuse the chipped door, it’s part of the Master Bedroom Renovation)

What about you guys?  Where do you normally purchase your purses?  Is my $50 limit relatively standard or am I just cheap?