Monday, May 27, 2013

Kangaroo Wobble Place Cards

Cup place card with kangaroo for Aussie theme party.
My good friend Helen is an avid scrapbooker and a very creative one too.  When I was thinking of place cards for a graduation/bon voyage dinner that I'm giving for my grandson Zach and his girl friend Claire, I immediately thought of Helen.  After graduation, Zach and Claire are traveling to Australia for a few weeks with Claire's mom. I'm using an Aussie theme for the dinner party, and I wanted to have stickers representing Australia on the plastic cups that will serve as place markers on the dinner tables.

Helen came up with a cute idea of a kangaroo affixed to the cup with the name card placed in the kangaroo's pouch.  She has all the bells and whistles to make these in the craft room at her house.
Helen's well-equipped craft room.

After finding a template of a kangaroo, she used her Cricut machine to draw and cut out the kangaroos according to input from the software on her computer.  The software allows one to adjust the size and location on the paper for each cut.
The paper ready to go into the Cricut.
Templates set up on computer.
Paper goes into Cricut for drawing and cutting.

Kangaroos drawn and die cut on Cricut.

Kangaroos ready to be peeled off.

Small hearts were cut to fit into the pouch of the kangaroo, and names of the guests were written on the hearts.

Kangaroos ready to attach to cups.
The kangaroos were attached to the cups with wobbles (a scrapbook "tool" that allows the attached item to wobble back and forth).


Wobble attaches kangaroo to cup.

Helen with finished cup.
Cup with kangaroo to use as place card at dinner party.
Thanks Helen.  These are so cute!!!!  Now to get all the other things ready for the party.  Stay tuned.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Living Walls in Cameron Village

Wall made of living plants in Cameron Village, by Greenscape.
Dan and I are beginning to downsize our book collection, and on Friday my friend, Boguska, and I took several boxes of books down to the Cameron Village Library to donate.  We arrived a few minutes early and as we waited for the Library to open, I noticed that some landscapers were installing a Living Wall near the entrance to the Library.  Although I had seen some of the Living Walls around Cameron Village, I had never observed the actual construction so we walked over to take a look. 
Daniel Currin, left, President of Greenscape, Inc. and Nathan Beasley, Landscape Project Manager.

Greenscape Inc. manages the landscaping at Cameron Village and it is always beautiful.  Cameron Village is one of the few places in the Triangle where the Living Walls are installed. 

After we deposited the books at the Library, we drove around the Village to see other Living Walls that had been recently installed.

Living Wall near the Village Deli in Cameron Village.
Free-standing Living Wall.
Living Wall dedicated to victims of domestic violence.
Closeup of plants in Living Wall.

Along the way we saw one of the Walls being watered. 
Maintenance by Greenscape.

Watering to keep the Living Wall alive.

To see how these walls are designed and created, check out this article by Daniel Currin, President of Greenscape, Inc.
CV Living Wall for Cameron Village. (Photo by Greenscape.)

While talking with Daniel, I asked about constructing a Living Wall at a residence.  I could just see such a Wall on the brick wall outside our back patio.  When I found out the cost, a Living Wall at our house is NOT on my bucket list.  But I'm glad we live near Cameron Village.  I can go down anytime and admire the beauty of the Walls there. 
The finished Read Living Wall outside Cameron Village Library.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Lunch at the Weathervane, Chapel Hill, NC

Marcia and I spent our day out Wednesday by first dropping Dan at his lab at Duke University and then doing a bit of shopping at Target before heading to Chapel Hill for lunch at the Weathervane. The Weathervane Restaurant is a full-service restaurant located adjacent to Southern Season in University Mall.

The Weathervane is a pleasant place for lunch especially on a nice day like yesterday when it was perfect to dine out on their patio.
Patio at the Weathervane.
 There are two dining rooms inside, a formal one and a more casual one.  But we enjoyed dining al fresco.

The more formal dining room at the Weathervane.

Casual dining room area in Weasthervane.
When Marcia and I go out to eat we often end up ordering the same items from the menu and that was the case yesterday.  We each had soup and half sandwich.  The soup of the day was tomato basil, and we selected as our sandwich egg salad with bacon, lettuce and tomato.  Both the soup and the sandwich were quite good and reasonably priced at $11.00.  For good food and pleasant ambiance I can enthusiastically recommend the Weathervane for lunch. And when the weather permits, by all means choose the patio seating.
Soup of the day, tomato basil.
Egg salad sandwich with bacon, lettuce and tomato.

After lunch we browsed through the adjacent Southern Season, a gourmet food store that specializes in local and international fine food, wine, specialty gifts & cookware.  Craig Claiborne, the late NY Times food critic, once described Southern Season as “wall to wall and floor to ceiling…a visual and gustatory delight!”

Eye candy at the Southern Season from the elegant to the......

It's always dangerous for me to enter Southern Season, because rarely do I leave without purchasing something.  This time I found items that I really needed though---a pretty tablecloth, platter, and paper plates and napkins in the color scheme that I will use for a graduation/bon voyage party next week for grandson Zach and his girlfriend Claire.
Items I purchased at Southern Season for the graduation/bon voyage party for Zach and Claire.
A few days after graduation Zach will be traveling with Claire and her mom to Australia to visit her mom's family.  What an experience that will be for Zach!

Weathervane Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Gadding About with Grandpat Research Triangle restaurants

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Barefoot Contessa's Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp

Strawberry rhubarb crisp with ice cream.
It's the peak of strawberry season here in Wake County, and the other day when I was in the Harris-Teeter grocery I noticed they had fresh rhubarb.  With the rhubarb in hand and with lots of fresh local strawberries from the Farmer's Market, I was ready to make a strawberry rhubarb crisp.  I've tried lots of recipes for this, one of my favorite desserts,  all of them good, but I decided to look for a new recipe to try.  I ran across one from The Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten, on the internet.  I have two of Garten's recipe books, and there has never been one of her recipes that I've tried that I didn't like.  And this was no exception. 
I'm a fan of the Barefoot Contessa and have two of her cookbooks.  Such good recipes.

Her recipe adds a bit of fresh orange juice and orange zest and the subtle orange flavor enhances the strawberry/rhubarb flavors. 
Orange juice and orange zest adds a twist to this recipe.


4 cups fresh rhubarb, 1-inch diced (4 to 5 stalks)
4 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and halved, if large
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange zest
1 tablespoon cornstarch (see note)
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup quick-cooking (not instant) oatmeal, such as McCann's
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced
Vanilla ice cream, for serving

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

For the fruit, toss the rhubarb, strawberries, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, and the orange zest together in a large bowl. In a measuring cup, dissolve the cornstarch in the orange juice and then mix it into the fruit. Pour the mixture into an 8 by 11-inch baking dish and place it on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.

For the topping, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, the remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar, the brown sugar, salt, and oatmeal. With the mixer on low speed, add the butter and mix until the dry ingredients are moist and the mixture is in crumbles. Sprinkle the topping over the fruit, covering it completely, and bake for 1 hour, until the fruit is bubbling and the topping is golden brown. Serve warm with ice cream.
Strawberry-rhubarb mixture ready for topping.

Add topping and ready for oven.
Out of the oven, browned and nice and bubbly.
Ready to eat.
Even better with a dollop of vanilla ice cream.

This is going to be my "go to recipe" for strawberry rhubarb crisp. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A Recipe in My Inbox Each Morning

Chicken rollup with cheese and asparagus.
Somehow I got on the mailing list or I more likely subscribed to so that each morning there is a new recipe in my mailbox.  Here's one that I received and made recently.  I'll keep this one in my recipe file. 

Chicken Rollups with Asparagus and Cheese
1/2 cup mayonaisse
3 Tsp Dijon mustard
1 lemon, juiced and zested
2 tsp dried tarragon
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp salt (I omitted the salt.)
16 spears fresh asparagus, trimmed
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
4 slices of provolone cheese (I used Trader Joe's yogurt cheese.  It's low sodium)
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees F.  Grease a baking dish.  In a bowl, mix together the first six ingredients until well combined.  Set aside.
2.  Cook asparagus in the microwave on High until bright green and just tender. 1 to 1 1/2 minutes.  Set aside.  Place a chicken breast between two sheets of heavy plastic (freezer bags work well) on a solid, level surface.  Firmly pound the chicken breast with a meat mallet to a thickness of about 1/4 inch.  Repeat with all chicken breasts.
3.  Place one slice of cheese on each chicken breast and top the cheese with 4 asparagus spears per breast.  Roll the chicken breasts around the asparagus and cheese, making a tidy package, and place, seam sides down, in the prepared baking dish.  With a pastry brush (or spoon), apply a coating of the mayo mixture to each chicken breast, and sprinkle with panko crumbs, pressing the crumbs into the chicken to make a coating.
4.  Bake in the preheated oven until the crumbs are browned and the chicken juices run clear, about 25 minutes. 

Making the mayo mixture.

Flatten the chicken breast with a meat mallet.

Add cheese and asparagus to flattened chicken breast.

Roll up and place seam side down on prepared baking dish.
Coat breasts with mayo mixture and panko bread crumbs.
Out of oven.
Read to enjoy.

This is easy, tasty and makes for a great presentation.  It would be perfect for a light lunch along with a green salad or even a fruit salad. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

I Have A New Chauffeur in the Family

Happy Birthday to my second grandson, Brooks, who turns sixteen today.  That means I have someone else in the family who can be our "chauffeur" should we need it.  It's hard to believe Brooks is sixteen---time passes so quickly.  Enjoy those little grands while you can.

Here are some pics of Brooks during the years. 
Brooks was proud of his brother, Zach, who was the State Champion in Free Throws in 2003.
Brooks is ever the athlete.  Over the years he has played almost every sport and enjoyed as a spectator all sports.
Brooks (right)  skiing with his brother Zach and his Uncle Patrick in 2007.
Brooks at second base, 2009.
Brooks a spectator at his sister's soccer game in 2012. (I liked his hair long.)
Now however he is a spectator of many sports, but he's concentrating on basketball as a participant.  He made the JV team at Broughton High this year and he hopes to make the Varsity team (I think he will) next year.  He will be playing AAU basketball this summer. 
Brooks on the Broughton JV team, 2012-13.
He enjoys dressing up for the dances too.
Getting ready for the Queen of Hearts Dance 2012.

Brooks and Grandpat Christmas 2011.

Hope your day is great Brooks!  I'm ready to go for a ride!!!!