National Walking Day {2015}

2015-3-31 Walking DayTomorrow is a big day! In addition to Wine Wednesday and April Fool’s Day (prank ideas here!), it’s National Walking Day!

I’m a big proponent of walking and you know I’m going to celebrate this national holiday by tying up my shoes and strolling.

I’ve been a diligent FitBit wearer for nearly three years (I’m on my third iteration. The design keeps improving!) and I recently earned the Nile Badge for walking 4,132 total miles, the length of longest river in the world.

My much-deserved Nile badge for my thousands of steps

My much-deserved Nile badge for my thousands of steps

If you’re in downtown Seattle tomorrow, you should join me at the Union Bank on 5th and University from noon – 1 p.m. for a big, fun walk. KING5 is one of the event sponsors, so you might be able to get your 15 minutes of fame in at the  same time as your physical fitness!

Date: Wednesday, April 1
Location: Union Bank on 5th & University, Downtown Seattle
Time: 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm

Happy walking!!

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Spring has sprung {2015}

It’s here! It’s here! Happy spring to you!

Here on Megan’s Island and in the Pacific Northwest, we never really saw a winter (sorry to rub it in, east coast) so this spring transition isn’t as big as it is some years.

Look, this Magnolia tree is almost done with this round of blooming! It’s been spring for SO long here!

It's raining flowers on Megan's Island!

It’s raining flowers on Megan’s Island!

With the days getting longer and warmer, I’ve scoured the internet for some ideas to help spring shine inside and out.

Spring!

Spring!

Tulip wreath 

Tulip wreath

Flower cookie bowls

Flower cookie bowls

So many other great things about spring: Easter, baseball, tulips, the list goes on!

Here are some more signs of spring in our yard!

Signs of spring in the backyard

Signs of spring in the backyard

Flowers for days!!

Flowers for days!!

For all of my finds, visit my “Sunshine-y days” Pinterest Board! And get out there and enjoy the warm sun-showers!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! {2015}

Between lots of work and pregnancy exhaustion, my blogging has really fallen down lately. Sorry about that!

I had grand plans of doing several blog posts leading up to today’s holiday, but then, I didn’t. I had plans of making all sorts of treats for my office buddies. Then, I didn’t.

Instead, I present my “Luck ‘o the Irish” Pinterest board full of great ideas for today’s holiday.

I also would like to present a new favorite side dish of ours that pairs REALLY well with corned beef. (We jumped the gun on our corned beef consumption and created this perfect dish a few weeks ago…)

Without further ado… our feast:

St. Patrick's Day feast

St. Patrick’s Day feast

I buy my corned beef at Costco, throw it in the crock pot, sprinkle on the packet of spices, pour in a couple of glasses of water and let it go for 8-10 hours on low.

The potatoes are cut, boiled, and seasoned. I leave the skins on.

The garlic-roasted cauliflower is from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa: How easy is that? cookbook. (From week seven of our cookbook challenge… I’ll post them soon! I promise!)

Garlic-roasted cauliflower

  • 1 head of garlic, cloves separated but not peeled (We used pre-minced garlic… turned out great!)
  • 1 large head of cauliflower, trimmed, cut into large florets
  • 4 1/2 tablespoons good olive oil, divided use
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed (or bottled) lemon juice

Procedure:

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2. Bring a small pot of water to a boil and add the garlic cloves. Boil for 15 seconds. Drain, peel and cut off any brown parts. Cut the largest cloves in half lengthwise.

3. On a sheet pan, toss the cauliflower with garlic, 3 tablespoons olive oil, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Spread mixture out in a single layer and roast for 20 to 25 minutes, tossing twice, until the cauliflower is tender and garlic is lightly browned.

4. Scrape the cauliflower into a large bowl with garlic and pan juices. Add remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, parsley, pine nuts and lemon juice. Sprinkle with another 1/2 teaspoon salt, toss and serve hot or warm.

We’re off to enjoy MORE corned beef tonight with some friends. I hope you have a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day and you don’t forget to wear green!

{Interesting fun fact–or fiction: According to the legends, leprechauns delighted in causing mischief, which included tripping, kicking or otherwise harming humans. Wearing green supposedly rendered the wearer invisible to leprechauns, and thus spared the wearer their attentions.)

{Wine Wednesday} A new type of bottle

WineWednesday

This Wine Wednesday I have a secret that I must confess: I miss wine. I haven’t had booze of any sort this year and won’t for awhile. Why you ask? Well, we’ve got an announcement for you…

Blog

Brandon is still drinking and I can still read tasting notes and attend winery release parties, even if I don’t drink anything, so this isn’t farewell for too long. More wine news and information coming soon!

New planter boxes!

Or are they raised beds? I don’t really know the difference. What I do know, however, is that I love them!

Our new planter boxes/raised beds

Our new planter boxes/raised beds

I’ve been thinking about some iteration of these boxes for the past couple of years and other things (like the pizza oven) have taken priority… until now. Brandon and I took advantage of our early spring weather and the leftover cedar from the front fence to build these beauties.

Planting beet seeds

Planting beet seeds

Each box is 4′ long x 2.5′ wide and is planted with all sorts of goodies: raspberries, strawberries, garlic bulbs, kale, carrots, snap peas, peppers, beets, and a couple of lettuces. (Letti?)

Raised bed #1: Raspberries, strawberries, kale, beets, garlic bulbs and carrots!

Raised bed #1: Raspberries, strawberries, kale, garlic bulbs and carrots!

Raised bed #2: Lettuces, sweet peppers, snap peas, and beets

Raised bed #2: Lettuces, sweet peppers, snap peas, and beets

Here are some of the in-progress photos for your enjoyment:

Before shot of our new garden area

Before shot of our new garden area

Before photo: stocking up on soil, plants and seeds

Before photo: stocking up on soil, plants and seeds

Box construction

Box construction

The boxes are Brandon-sized!

The boxes are Brandon-sized!

Lightweight!

Lightweight!

Proud of his work!

Proud of his work!

Is it spring in your neck of the woods? Did you take advantage of the nice weather? Tell me all about it!

2015 Oscar party

I’m a bit overdue in posting this, but it’s well worth it, so make sure you read on.

"Oscar goes to..."

“Oscar goes to…”

While I rarely watch all (or any, for that matter) of the Academy Award-nominated films, I have friends over each year to watch the Oscars.

The menu is different every year– we’ve gone from elegant appetizers to a panini bar and this year everyone brought a dish, potluck-style. The potluck is definitely the way to go. It was so easy!

Our 2015 Oscar feast

Our 2015 Oscar feast

We made a couple of dishes and both were total keepers!

First, these mushroom polenta bites. I basically followed my friend Kelsey’s recipe on her blog, A touch of lovely. I opted for the tomato sauce as the spread and the chubby polenta loaf from Trader Joe’s. I threw the polenta in the freezer while I cooked the mushrooms and after a few minutes of chilling it cut very easily into perfect rounds. I followed the instructions on the package for the polenta. Our “bites” were larger than bites and they were delicious!

Mushroom polenta bites

Mushroom polenta bites

For dessert I made the Smitten Kitchen’s buttered popcorn chocolate chip cookies. I really had no idea what to expect with these — I love both buttered popcorn and chocolate chip cookies independently — and was pleasantly surprised. These cookies were delicious! I substituted Trader Joe’s gluten-free all-purpose flour and couldn’t even tell there wasn’t gluten in the cookies. Next time I would have made less popcorn and would’ve added more melted butter to the popcorn. Try out the recipe and let me know what you think!

Buttered popcorn cookies

Buttered popcorn cookies, uncooked

Buttered popcorn cookies, cooked

Buttered popcorn cookies, cooked

Each year I have guests fill out their ballots, and just like every other year, my friend Kimmy won the award for the most-properly-guessed winners. There are some great ballot designs out there and we chose this ballot design.

Brandon making his Oscar predictions

Brandon making his Oscar predictions

I basically have a party-in-a-box for the Oscars that lives in my storage room. It includes a banner, set of silver chargers, a gilded vase, a silver and gold ice bucket, and several movie-themed party plates and decor. This year I found some great ideas on Pinterest and acted on a couple of them: my own Oscar statue and gilded, glittered champagne flutes.

I’m calling my Oscar statue “Oskar” and he started off as a very unfortunate Ken doll from the Goodwill.

Oskar, as Ken

Oskar, as Ken

Oskar cost $1.99 (he came with a Barbie that looked like she had leprosy; she went in the garbage) and I super-glued his hip joints standing straight and then his feet to a wood base from Michael’s. After he was dried, I spray painted him gold. After several coats, here he is!

Our "Oskar"

Our “Oskar”

I bought the champagne flutes at Target for $1 each and the Krylon gold glitter spray paint (which I wouldn’t recommend) for ~$7 from Michael’s. I had the gold spray paint on hand. On any given day I have at least 3 cannisters of this stuff in my basement!

Bottoms up! Oscar bubbles

Bottoms up! Oscar bubbles

I started by thoroughly washing the glasses with soap and water, taped the bottom at the stem with painters tape and sprayed, sprayed, and sprayed some more.

Champagne glass taping

Champagne glass taping

I tried using just the glitter spray paint and it didn’t cover well, so I started with the solid gold. I added the glitter spray paint on the second coat. All in all I am very happy with how these turned out!

Half painted golden champagne glasses

Half painted golden champagne glasses

It’s never too early to start planning for next year’s Academy Awards! Visit my Pinterest “parties” board for about a million ideas.