Friday, December 31, 2010

Homemade Vietnamese (Kinda Thai) Food!

Ok... maybe not authentic, but I came up with this because I was desperately craving the Grilled Chicken and Vermicelli from Little Viet Garden in Arlington (can't find their webpage).



This is a simple-simple-simple-super-easy recipe that you can vary based on your taste and nutritional needs. You can even omit the chicken for a vegetarian version. The other ingredients are so simple but still so tasty.

You'll need:
  1. A package of chicken breast tenderloins (about a pound?)
  2. A marinade and/or sauce for the chicken- some combination of soy and/or ginger and/or honey and/or teriyaki works. You can make your own, or buy a bottled mix such as this one from Paul Newman: http://www.newmansown.com/product_detail.aspx?productid=98
  3. Little bit of butter or margarine (if desired)
  4. 13.5 oz can of Coconut milk
  5. 1 cup Jasmine rice (or brown rice if you'd like it to be more healthful)
  6. Romaine Lettuce (I bought a bag of pre-cut for salads)
  7. Fresh Bean Sprouts- a couple handfuls
1. Cook the rice*:
In a medium saucepan, combine: 1 cup of Jasmine rice, 1 1/2 cup of coconut milk (shake the can well!! Shake 'em up, shake 'em up, shake 'em up, shake 'em), and 1/4 cup of either water, broth, or more coconut milk. (You generally need about a 2:1 ratio of liquid to rice when preparing Jasmine rice. I found 2 full cups of liquid to be too much when I made mine, so I lessened the total liquid to 1 3/4 cups to 1 cup of rice. Use less coconut milk if you don't like your rice very coconutty!)
* If you're making brown rice, prepare the rice according to the directions of your brown rice, adding coconut milk as desired for taste.

Bring the mixture to a simmer and then cover and cook for 15-18 minutes. (When I made my rice, a lot of the coconut milk was on the top at the end and the rice was a little soggy, but I liked the texture when combined with the rest of the dish!) When the rice is done, uncover it and stir it/fluff it up. Then cover it back up until you're ready to eat- unless it's not fluffy, then leave it uncovered.

2. Cook the chicken:
While the rice is quietly simmering, add some of your sauce (about 1/4 cup) of choice into a skillet over medium heat, with a little butter or margarine. Then add the chicken. Let this warm up and sit there for 5-7 minutes. Then turn the chicken tenderloins over and mix them around in the sauce, or add more sauce if you need to. Cook for another few minutes and turn them over again if you wish. It should cook for about the same time as the rice, maybe a little less.

3. Rip up the lettuce
if it's not chopped into bite-sized pieces already.

4. Put it all together! I used a deep soup-dish for mine, you can also do this on a plate but everything together in a nice deep dish kept it warm for a long time.
Add a couple of spoonfuls of rice to a bowl, then 2 of the chicken tenderloins- cut those into bite-sized pieces. Sprinkle a small handful of bean sprouts on top of the chicken and finish it off by piling it up with lettuce.
Don't skimp on the lettuce! It adds soooo much to this dish (typically people don't think of lettuce as being very flavorful but with this dish, you can really appreciate it). In fact I had to keep adding more and more lettuce to my dinner since I ate a few pieces of it with each bite and ran out quickly. You can make this dish into somewhat of a salad- I mean, who isn't trying to add more vegetables to their diet? Romaine lettuce is GOOD for you (http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=61)and won't fill you up too quickly..... so pile it on!

To add more flavor to this dish, you can try adding any of the following:
-More sauce.
-Lime juice (a little goes a long way so add a little and taste as you go)
-Or Lemon (bleh!)
-Low-sodium soy sauce (I'm not trying to overload your sodium here!)
-Cilantro
-Peanuts
-Sesame seeds


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Want! Want! Wednesday!

TROPICAL PLAAAAAAAAAAANNNNNNNNNTS!!!!!!!

They are HIGH on the want list! But very few exist on the "have" list because I live in the mid-Atlantic region of the US, where it's not warm enough to have most tropical plants.... unless you have tons of space in your house in which to over-winter them.

...However there are many ways to fake a tropical environment with hardy plants! I got so excited about it a while back that I wrote a whole Squidoo lens on the subject and if you're curious about gardening with tropical-looking hardy plants you can see it here:
http://www.squidoo.com/MidAtlanticTropical

And now here are some of the beauties I would have if I lived in a place where I could plant them all outdoors into a beautiful landscape! :)

BEEHIVE GINGER!:
Photographed in Costa Rica by Lea Maimone

LOBSTER CLAW HELICONIA!
Photo by KENPEI

MORE HELICONIA!
(shameless plug)
Painting by Moi
and is totally framed up and for sale
http://www.samanthasartstudio.com/heliconia.html
And my most favorite tree.....
the TRAVELLER PALM!
Photo by Louise Wolff

I do have other trees that I love... such as lime trees (I have a little baby dwarf key lime tree that spends the winter indoors) and my husband got me a Fig tree for Christmas which will be arriving some time in March! Other than the Traveller Palm, those are probably my two favorite trees because I love to eat what comes off of them... nom nom nom.

BIRD OF PARADISE!! ("Strelitzia reginae")
Photo by Moi
and might be a painting one day
slightly different composition and background of course
ORCHIDS!
(I have a few of these indoors, sure wish they could just grow wild all over my garden!)
Photo also taken by Me in Hawaii somewhere

Hope you enjoyed gazing at some happy colorful tropical plants, some of which maybe you've never heard of... so perhaps you even learned something! :)

We've got 3 months of cold weather ahead of us, so you can expect a lot more posts like this one regarding things of a tropical nature as my mind escapes to warmer and more colorful climates.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Happy Fluffy Friday!!

Or, Happeh Fluffeh Friday if you speak LOLspeak! :)

Some websites and blogs that feature cute animals (such as my favorite, DAILY SQUEE!) have special weekly posts including "Fluffy Friday."
I don't feel that I've given enough mention to Dear Tosh, Baby Kitty, Pretty Girl, Tosh.0,  or her whole other slew of nicknames, in my blog.... so here's a special Fluffy Friday post, just for her! :)




Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Holidays Are Upon Us!

My husband and I haven't sent out Christmas cards in a few years (except to immediate family). I have no clue why we've been slacking on the cards...
Laziness?
Forgetfulness?
Why!? 

I used to love creating our Christmas cards via Shutterfly.com. Have you ever used them? They have like a million billion designs from which to choose and in every color scheme imaginable.

Here's a card I designed from the year we got married:

I really wasn't sure which picture(s) to use on our cards this year. We had a busy year but didn't really go on any trips or take pictures of anything exciting.... except at our triathlons and other events. I wondered if putting pictures from those on holiday cards would seem weird, but today I got a card in the mail from a friend and there she and her husband are in race attire! I immediately went upstairs and set out to design this year's card on Shutterfly's website.

I was quite excited to see that holiday cards are currently all 20% off AND they're offering free shipping if you spend $50 or more. I don't plan to spend $50 on cards.... but that DID get my creative wheels turning to try and figure out what other products I could create on Shutterfly for hard-to-shop-for relatives and take advantage of the free shipping offer. Shutterfly has a very extensive gift shop- everything from mugs to luggage tags (which I've created before and I love using!) to jewelry/keepsake boxes... if you have a photo, you can create a gift with it :)

When I started uploading photos to use on our card, I was a bit concerned since Christmas colors are typically red and green and the one good picture that I have of the two of us from this year is mostly black and purple.... Hello clashy. 
Never fear! Shutterfly has gone far beyond the limitations of just red and green. They've got designs in every color you can think of to go with any pictures you want to use :)
http://www.shutterfly.com/cards-stationery/holiday-cards

I especially liked this one-
http://www.shutterfly.com/cards-stationery/cards-stationery/merry-merry-greetings-holiday-4x8-photo-card-4x8-photo

And this one is very simple- you can upload a handful of pictures if you can't decide on just one to use-
http://www.shutterfly.com/cards-stationery/cards-stationery/red-glee-christmas-5x7-photo-card-5x7-photo

You can also even choose which fonts you want and they have a wide variety of them- formal, cartoony, fancy, plain, standard, scripty, you name it. You can customize the size and color of the fonts as well.

They're even doing a promotion this year for 50 free holiday cards for bloggers- find out about it here:
http://blog.shutterfly.com/5358/holiday2010-blog-submission-form/ 


I'll be sure to upload a picture of the card we end up choosing- I went a little overboard with them (I TOLD you it is fun) and designed 6. I'll get my husband's opinion on which he likes and we'll place our order ASAP since it's already the 11th and I can't even BELIEVE THAT.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Oh mah gahhh, Squee-Worthy Bugs!

I'm a bit addicted to dailysquee.com and, of course, I particularly enjoy the bug submissions. The funny, the cute, the bizarre...

Thought I'd share some of the most squee-worthy cuteness with you!

Cute Baby Animals - Slow down, we can't keep up!
see more Daily Squee

Here's my all-time favorite snail!

I HAS A STIK
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Cute Baby Animals - Gypsy Moth Wants To Read Your Fortune.
see more Daily Squee

cute baby animals - O Hai!
see more Daily Squee

Humorous Pictures
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

And one that I made from one of my photos:

I'm in ur flowurz...  Polinaytin ur world!


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Reunited!

When we started packing up and getting ready to move, I de-activated most of the items in my Etsy shop since I wasn't sure when I'd be able to find them again.
Last night I was so excited to FINALLY come across a few items I have been missing (and just in time for Chreeeeeeestmas!).

Butterfly Box- $15 + shipping

One of the items is this upcycled decoupaged Baltimore Checkerspot Butterfly Box! It's a slide-top wooden box and I've just re-listed it in my Etsy shop- have a look if you've got someone on your shopping list who loves flowers or bugs... or the state of Maryland! (The Black-Eyed Susan is the Maryland state flower and the Baltimore Checkerspot is the state butterfly.)   :)


Monday, December 6, 2010

One room is DONE! (And a head's up on a great online deal)

First of all, here's the awesome online deal going on right now (not sure for how long)- scroll on down if you just want to see the new bathroom :)

I just ordered new towels (since every. single. one. of my old towels has friggn beach-spots all over them from benzoyl peroxide!) since my friend over at Baby Rabies alerted me to an incredible deal (via http://slickdeals.net/) that I couldn't pass up: I got 10 monogrammed Ralph Lauren towels and 1 hand towel, including the shipping and tax, for about $58. That is about $5 a towel (plus the hand towel and a couple bucks tax).

"Wait?? 50 bucks on towels?" you say.

It's just my husband and me, do we NEED TEN TOWELS? I was going to skip the deal and just go get a couple of new towels from good ol' Marshall's and call it done. But you can't even get a towel from Marshall's for 5 bucks. When I realized this, I caved in and ordered my new monogrammed towels.

Here's how you do it the cheapest way (a face cloth instead of a hand towel makes your total about $55 instead of $58):
Horchow has Ralph Lauren Greenwich Monogrammed 30x56" Bath Towel for $9.99. Place quantity of 10 in your cart and add quantity of 1 Face Cloth) - then use $50 off code HCWINTER = $54.89 for 10 Bath Towels + 1 Face Cloth. Shipping is free with code DECFS.

There are other sizes available as well. Place at least $100 in merchandise in your cart to use the $50 off code.

Since the code takes money off your grand-total, it looks like you could order different sets of these towels if you wanted to order different colors or order them as gifts with different monograms, etc.
Happy shopping!

Now onto bragging rights regarding the new finished bathroom!!
Last night we finished the main bathroom in the house. I even have some pictures!

Here's the before- the walls were a dark pinkish-mauve color and kind of a pain to cover with pale blue-green (but well worth the effort):

(This was the listing picture of the bathroom as the seller had it- Looks like he had the same TP stand that we do!)

Here are the afters:

You can click on the pictures to enlarge them.

I went out to Marshalls (don't you just love that place?) and got the new bathmats, a little trashcan, and some other odds and ends.

I *also* picked up this adorable artwork (it's a print on a really sturdy piece of wood) by artist Robin Renee Hix- I'm not sure yet which wall to hang it on?


http://www.robinreneehix.com/www.robinreneehix.com/Available_Work/Pages/Beach_walks.html#5


Anyway, I promise to get back to artwork soon! ...As of last night, all of the major indoor-painting of the rooms of our new house is DONE. We just need to paint some trim and our new doors, but that will go quickly I'm sure. And once I finish organizing the office, I'll actually have some room to create some new art! Yay!


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Want! Want! Wednesday- the Pollinator Tree!

It's **DECEMBER** and that means it's almost CHREEEEESTMAS!

And in proper holiday fashion the catalogs have been starting to arrive like crazy, supplying plenty of fodder for upcoming holiday-themed Want! Want! Wednesday posts! Plus they worked perfectly since Want! Want! Wednesday is all about silly things that I don't need and am not going to pay this much for.....
but I like the idea of them.
(Although at the end of the post I will add, there is hope for those of us who love the items I'm featuring this week!!)

This week's Want is a Pollinator-Themed Christmas Tree! It must be the trendy new thing this year because I found decorations in not one, but TWO catalogs! Observe....

The first set of ornaments was in a catalog by a company called Grandin Road.

(click to enlarge)
(click to enlarge)
While not all strictly pollinators, these garden-themed ornaments are simply adorable, no?

(I am not sure where all of the other ornaments on this tree came from; I wish the catalog had them all.)
I do wish there were some bees! That's one thing I haven't been able to find... a bee ornament. I've been thinking about making some.


But in this little collection you get 25 ornaments for $99. Actually not a bad deal! That's about $4 an ornament. So this Want is actually obtainable.


The direct link to these items from their website can be found here:
http://www.grandinroad.com/jump.jsp?item=42281&maincatcode=null&subcatcode=null&itemID=31019&itemType=PRODUCT&path=1%2C2%2C474%2C6382%2C7946&iProductID=31019




I got another catalog in the mail yesterday from a company called Gump's which, honestly with the prices of some of the stuff, I have no clue how they got my info or why they sent it to me. Even their website says "Luxury Gifts..." but whatever.
(click to enlarge)
Super cute, right? There is even a grasshopper!
You can see their entire ornament collection here:
http://www.gumps.com/HOLIDAY+SHOP/Christmas+Ornaments/

Now I'll let you in on the best part of this week's Want.
It IS obtainable!

I saw the first set of these ornaments a week ago and didn't buy them but couldn't stop thinking about them. Then I went into an AC Moore with my mom this weekend and.... there they were. Not these, specifically, but *some* bug ornaments! There were butterflies and dragonflies and all were 50% off, so each was $1.99. I picked up 10 of them and figured even if I have to just do a very little tree, I'll be able to have a Pollinator tree this year.
At the Harris Teeter store down the street, they were also doing a sale on ornaments and I scored two glittery hummingbirds! Yay for more pollinators!

So if you love the idea of a pollinator-themed Christmas tree this year but the items here are out of your budget, just keep your eyes open for deals all around you! Looks like bugs and birds are the new thing!

Happy Decorating!! :)