29 July, 2011

Computers, Heat and Bean Dip (it's too hot to think of a real title)

Has it really been 3 weeks since the last time I posted something?! *sigh* I guess that's what happens when the computer blows up. Ok, not really. It crashed on July 12. Just absolutely froze and the only thing I could do was hit the power button and restart it. That didn't really help. It just went through this cycle of crash dumps followed by "windows has recovered from an unexpected crash, how would you like to restart the computer?" Yeah. I can fix minor issues, but this was waaaaaay beyond me. So the next day it went to visit the tech guys in a local town. One week later, it was supposedly fixed. They told me it was running a little slow (which I can live with) but it was up and going! Yippeeee! So I went to pick it up. Uhhhhh yeah. It still didn't work. So I took it back. Tech guy #2 told me that since it had crashed again so quickly (as in, me trying to turn it on) it might mean there was an issue with the hard-drive, but they'd do what they could. So poor little laptop got it's memory wiped, hard-drive reformatted and programs and pictures put back on.  Two weeks after it had been dropped off the first time, it was finally home! And working great........ for about 12 hours. Then it crashed. Froze. No turning back on. Tech guy told me that meant it was a problem with the hard-drive. And how much moolah does it take to replace a hard-drive? Well, too much. That computer has other issues anyway. The battery doesn't hold a charge for more than 10 minutes (yes, really) and the adapter cord has to be almost constantly wiggled to keep it plugged in. So the computer is resting in peace. Or at least I hope it is. If anyone would like a laptop shaped paper-weight, please let me know! (Did I mention that stupid thing is only 3 years old?)

Since it has been quite toasty here in Kansas for the past several weeks, the cooking has been far less adventurous. Sorry, but I just cannot bring myself to turn on the oven when it's 110 degrees outside! (Though it might be fun to try one of those baking on the sidewalk ideas) The poor a.c. can barely keep up as it is, I don't feel the need to add to it's distress. 

See how pretty the backyard looks?

Yes, that REALLY does say "21 inches." How long has it been since it rained anyway?

So there have been a lot of quick heat up meals and stove top things like Sloppy Joes. That's not really blog-worthy food. But there is one recipe which has become my go-to recipe for when I'm just not in the mood to cook or oops! We're out of food 'cause I forgot to go to the store! (c'mon, you know it happens to you too) This recipe was kind of a happy accident several years ago. 

1 cup of rice
1 can of black olives (coarsely chopped)
1 can of re-fried beans
1-1 1/2 cups of salsa (your choice)

Cook the rice (I use instant rice because I like to cheat), I drain the liquid from the can of black olives and cook the rice in that instead of water. The black olive liquid should be 1 cup. Every time I've bothered to measure this, it's come out close enough to 1 cup that I've quite measuring and just dump it in.

While the rice is cooking, coarsely chop the black olives. When the rice is done, add the olives, beans and salsa. To be honest, I've never measured how much salsa I use, I just dump it in there until it looks good. I use "On the Border" salsa in medium, feel free to use whatever you like. Stir it all together and heat for about 3 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Go find the tortilla chips and dig in!

08 July, 2011

Birthday Par-Tea

This past weekend marked a birthday for me. One of those big(ger) ones that make everyone cringe because they have a zero behind the first digit. I decided that since this was one of those cringe-worthy birthday years, I was going to have a party decorated with my favorite things (to make me feel better). My current favorite thing is tea. Tea party it is! Oh, wait. Neither of my parents can have caffeine. Grrrrrr. (How was I born into a caffeine-free family?) So I decided on 2 tisanes. How many people just scratched their heads? A ti-what-did-she-say? A tisane is a tea-free herbal only drink. Tisanes are quite commonly called tea anyway and you may have to read carefully to make sure that the concoction you're thinking of purchasing doesn't contain any actual tea. Tea comes from the plant Camellia sinensis and contains caffeine, so when dealing with caffeine sensitivities you'll need to be careful to avoid that. 

Can we tell my favorite colors are black and white? 

My sister and I are both kind of obsessed with this damask pattern right now. My husband and I live in a house that was built in 1906 and the upstairs hallway is wallpapered with this pattern (in a rather unfortunate shade of green, but the design is pretty regardless). I believe that wallpaper was put up in the 1960's or 70's. It's good to know that all things old are new again!

The cute paper plates are from Hobby Lobby (as were the black napkins). I purchased 3 black and 3 white sets of these adorable Amsterdam tea cup and saucer sets from my favorite tea store (they have them in 14 different colors and they're dishwasher safe!). I switched the saucers and arranged them every other one around the table and purchased the burgundy one for me. The centerpiece candle holders were from a friend's At Home America party back in December.

Now for the food! 

I made 2 kinds of sandwiches. Apple and cucumber sandwiches with cream cheese (yum!) Wow these were good. They will definitely be made again! And a smoked thin sliced turkey with turkey bacon (just in case someone didn't like my cucumber creation. I used hoagie buns as the bread instead of baguettes like the recipe says. Yummy fruit salad (minus the kiwi because I couldn't find them). The "tea" was iced strawberry lemonade and sweet fruit garden both from Teavana. 

Instead of a cake I made Maids of Honour Tarts from London Eats. I didn't take a picture because I kind of messed up the crust. I used a different recipe for the crust because I knew it made good pie crust, but it didn't work out so well for little tarts. I think I'll use my leftover filling and try her original recipe for the crust. They were delicious even with not-so-perfect crust. I definitely recommend you try them "straight away" (as the British say).

Sooooo much fun and so pretty! It was a great birthday (even if it was one of those "big" ones. My Mom even got the memo about my favorite design! Though I'm sure it helped that she took my sister shopping with her! :)

Currently drinking:

Coffee: iced Gevalia 1853 Heritage Blend (a little hard to get your paws on but if you can find it I highly recommend it, great coffee!)

Tea: Twinings Prince of Wales (not bad, but not my favorite. It also comes in little baggies if you don't "do" the loose tea in the teapot thing). 

p.s. - please feel free to comment, I've opened up the comment section so all you need is an email address (instead of a blog account) to comment. I'd love to hear any thoughts or questions you have!