Wednesday, September 28, 2011

and the winner is...


#8 - Sharon (from Knot-Cha-Cha)
“Tollhouse cookies have always been my favorite. All three of your cookies look great, but I would choose the chocolate with sea salt because they sound intriguing and after chocolate one of my next favorite things is salt, ha ha! I am a follower who is always delighted when I visit your blog. Such great photography!”

Congratulations Sharon!

Please email me at with your mailing info.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go bake some cookies.

Monday, September 26, 2011

how many is too many?

One of the best things about fall in Oregon is the abundance of fresh fruits and veggies. Local farms dot the landscape throughout small rural towns. Some of these are only open during the months of September and October. An array of goodies piled high in large wooden boxes obstruct entrances to farm stand stores. Shoppers are tempted with mouthwatering samples of the sweetest fruits, apple slices drizzled with warm caramel sauce, fresh from the fryer applesauce doughnuts dusted with cinnamon and sugar, the aroma of freshly baked pies. All the produce is grown on site and harvested within hours of purchase. It doesn’t get any fresher than that!

On Saturday morning, my brother, sister-in-law, Mom, daughter and I all stuffed ourselves into my brother’s car and headed southwest. Our destination was Nye Beach near Newport Oregon. It took us six hours to make the two and a half hour drive. We stopped at farm stands along the way, had lunch at Cafe 22 near Salem, shopped at Double “H”.


Apparently onions grow large here.


Apple desserts will be baked in my kitchen this week.

I scored some awesome cowboy boots.
A girl can’t have too many boots, right? It rains a lot in the Northwest. I need you to help me justify my purchase, because this was not an absolute NEED. It was more like these boots spoke to the cowgirl in me. Thank you Dan Post! My birthday is coming up soon...

I preempted anything negative my husband (who was working at home) had to say about my purchase by texting him a photo of my new boots. Our conversation went like this:

Me: I bought two of these.
Hubby: Are they more than $25?
Me: x 11
Hubby: Wow. $36!
Me: That’s times, not plus
Hubby: Where’s my heart medicine?
Me: I thought you’d thank me for doing your shopping for you.
Hubby: Thank you!

Thank you Honey! I love my new boots!



The six hour drive (actually for me it was a ride) was all worth it when this was placed in front of me at Nana’s Pub in Nye Beach. This is a black n’ tan, made with Swithwick’s and Guinness. If you like beer that’s more malty than hoppy, and more dark and rich than light and flavorless, this combo is for you.


Just out of curiosity, how many pairs of boots do you own?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

a giveaway! oatmeal, chocolate, and ginger, oh my!

The delicious aroma of freshly baked cookies wafted through my house last weekend: Oatmeal Chocolate Chip; Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt; and Ginger Molasses. I sampled each dough, as well as the baked cookies, several times before deciding on a favorite. All three varieties were placed into tightly sealed containers, and put in the freezer. My favorites are tucked behind the package of frozen peas. Bwaaaah haha! Hey, I was raised with four siblings, some things are hard to share.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip
Soft and chewy. The perfect cookie for your indulgent and health-conscious desires!


Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt
Crisp, chocolatey. Sweetness and saltiness in one package!


Ginger Molasses
Sugar and spice and everything nice!


The Giveaway:

I am giving away three (3) dozen freshly baked cookies. The winner chooses one of the three flavors above.

To enter: You must do three things...

In the comments section, answer these two questions...
1. What’s your favorite cookie? 
2. Which flavor above would you want to arrive in your mailbox?
3. Follow my blog (if you don’t already) by clicking on “Join this site” (located on the left sidebar).

...and you'll be entered to win.

One entry per person, please.
No entries after noon (PDT) on Tuesday, September 27 .
Winner will be selected at random and announced Wednesday, September 28.

Friday, September 16, 2011

peaches, hold the cream


Today I put on a sweater, and it made me happy. Although we were deprived of a full summer this year, I absolutely love fall. School is back in session. This means a few uninterrupted hours during the day to work in my home office. Between evening dance and yoga classes, my daughter’s homework and my husband’s wacky work schedule, evening time together during the week is brief. I love preparing healthy meals, especially when they are simple, delicious and quick. I also love using local, fresh ingredients whenever I can. Actually, I consider myself to be a bit of a fresh food snob, equating my attitude and cooking style with that of Jamie Oliver.

Yes, I just used 'I love' three times in that above paragraph.

I have many friends who work in a structured office environment 40+ hours a week. Personally, I have no clue how they do it and also eat relatively healthy. Juggling household chores and client work (for those of you who don’t know, I also run a graphic design business) can be stressful at times, yet I feel so blessed to have a flexible schedule. A schedule that allows me to shop for and cook healthy meals for my family. It makes me feel we are wealthy in ways that no amount of money ever could.

I may or may not have purchased too many peaches at a local stand last week. After the peachy bread pudding was devoured, there were still a few peaches innocently lying in wait in my kitchen. This savory pork tenderloin was easy, delicious and after leaving it to marinade for seven hours, quick to make. Summer is ending, but I’m not ready to put the outside grill to bed. In fact, I’m not opposed to grillin’ in the rain.


This Peachy Canyon zinfandel was great in the marinade, 

and even better out.


Pork Tenderloin with Fresh Peach Sauce
Printable Recipe
Serves 4-5


2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup red wine
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
black pepper to taste
3 one pound pork tenderloin roasts
2 peaches


Sauté chopped onion and sugar in olive oil until onion is slightly golden, about 6 minutes. Stir in wine, soy sauce, balsamic, ginger, cinnamon and pepper. Cook for another minute or two. Remove from heat and cool completely. Place pork and one cup of the sauce into a gallon sized resealable plastic bag. Seal tight and place into the refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight. Turn it occasionally. Place the remaining sauce in a covered container and refrigerate.

Prepare the grill (medium heat). Remove pork from marinade and discard the bag and the marinade. Grill pork until meat thermometer inserted into center registers 155°F, turning often, about 35 minutes.

Meanwhile, boil the remaining sauce in a heavy medium saucepan until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add chopped peaches. Stir until heated through, about 1 minute. Slice pork and arrange it on a platter. Spoon some of the sauce on top. Pass the remaining sauce separately at the table. You will want to add more of this yummy sauce!

I served this with roasted red potatoes and roasted corn on the cob. When the grill in on, I tend to throw anything and everything on it.

Have a good weekend! Happy grilling!

Monday, September 12, 2011

that’s peachy!

We had such a slow start to summer in the Northwest. According to a local farmer, our peach season lasted exactly one week in Oregon. I must have blinked. I needed one more peach fling this year, (I had my first fix earlier this summer in Georgia.) I broke down and bought fresh Washington peaches at a local fruit stand. They're a bit of a disappointment. What's the best thing to do with peaches not quite up to par? You make recipes that include peaches, but avoid giving them the lead part. They become more of a supporting actress to all the other ingredients.


Peach Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce

To make this you'll need: 3-4 ripe peaches (2 cups), eggs, sweetened condensed milk, hot water, vanilla, unsalted butter, cinnamon, one loaf of rustic bread.


Just ignore the corn syrup in this photo for now. You'll need that later for the sauce though.

Slice peaches in half, remove peel and pit. Measure out approximately two cups.


Place peach halves in a bowl.


Mash them. They don't need to be pureed smooth, let them be chunky.


Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, pour one 14 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk. Yum!


Crack three eggs into the bowl with the milk.


Mix it up.


Add 1/4 cup of unsalted butter.


Add 1 1/4 cups hot water.


Add one teaspoon of ground cinnamon.


Add one teaspoon of vanilla.


Pour in the mashed peaches and mix that all up good.


Grab a loaf of rustic bread and rip it up into smallish pieces.


Keep ripping until you have four cups of bread chunks.


Put the bread pieces into the mixture and stir until the bread is saturated with liquid.


Spray a 9x13" baking dish with cooking spray and pour the mixture into it.


Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for one hour and ten minutes.

While the bread pudding is baking, make the sauce.

Caramel Sauce

You'll need: brown sugar, unsalted butter, light corn syrup, rum.


In a small saucepan, combine 1/2 cup brown sugar, 2 Tablespoons light corn syrup, 1 Tablespoon rum, and 1/2 cup butter.


Bring to a boil and simmer for 3-4 minutes or until it's slightly thicker. Let it cool a little.


Remove the bread pudding from the oven and inhale deeply through your nostrils over the top of it.


Serve warm with warm caramel sauce poured over and top it with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop or two of ice cream.


A few fun peach facts:

• The peach originated in China and has special significance in Chinese culture. It has mystical attributes, and supposedly brings luck, abundance and protection.

• The peach tree is considered to be the tree of life and its fruit is the symbol of immortality and unity. Peach blossoms are frequently carried by Chinese brides.

• The term, “you’re a real peach” originated from the tradition of giving a peach to someone you liked.

Here's the recipe in its entirety...

Peach Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce
Serves 10


2 cups fresh peaches, peeled, pitted and halved
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
3 eggs
1 1/4 cups hot water
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups rustic bread torn into small pieces

Caramel Sauce

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
1 Tablespoon rum


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish.

Chop the peaches and lightly mash them into a mixing bowl. Combine the sweetened condensed milk and eggs. Mix. Stir in the butter, cinnamon and vanilla. Add mashed peaches and mix. Add the bread chunks into the mixture and stir until the bread is completely moistened. Pour the pudding into the baking dish.

Bake about 1 hour and 10 minutes.

While the pudding is baking, combine the brown sugar, 1/2 cup butter, corn syrup and run into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat and simmer for 3-4 minutes or until the mixture is slightly thickened.

Remove the pudding from the oven and let it cool for about ten minutes before serving. Serve warm with the caramel sauce. Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator.

I hope you have a peachy day!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

room redo, part two

It's been a busy few weeks. Days have been filled with reorganizing, preparing for school, completing work projects, and soaking up the last days of summer fun (swimming, hanging out with friends, evening hikes). We did make some progress on Iz's bedroom, closet, study area and playroom before the hot weather hit. There's still several details to finish, but she now has a space in which to plow through all that high school homework. Yep, I said high school! I am now officially the parent of a high-schooler!

This is how the bedroom looked...


It's really cute, but Isabel wanted something more mature and sophisticated.

We started with a new wall color.


After trying several swatches... (yes, including pink)

...we settled on a pale blue color. This is a Ralph Lauren paint.







We replaced the twin bed with a full-sized antique iron one. After looking at every duvet cover from here to Connecticut, Isabel found one she approved of.

A small room is adjacent to Iz's bedroom. We've always referred to as the playroom. In the past few years, it's become more like a storage room. It's a funky shape with low ceilings and very little space for standing. While shopping at Ikea, Iz spotted a very low couch and immediately became very excited about turning this weirdly shaped space into a cozy lounge. A space to kick back, alone or with friends. So voila!

Before (playroom) ...


After (lounge) ...


Here's her new study area...


We're also working on making the walk-in closet more organized. Truckloads of junk were removed from the closet. The wooden boxes on the left are empty!


We found these nifty hooks for hanging scarves and such at Ikea that fold up when not in use.


Hmmmmm... this makeover has made that carpet look even more dingy. I'm sure it will be covered with clothes before long, so no need to replace that now.

I need a nap!