Thursday, April 12, 2012

French Peasant Soup

I got the recipe from Rachael Ray's cookbook 365 No Repeats. She said this is her version of a soup she had on vacation in Bordeaux, France. Its super duper easy and a 30 min meal.

2 T EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
1 small ham steak, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 celery rib with its greens, chopped
1 leek, cleaned and sliced into half moons
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1 small head of cabbage, cut into large pieces
1 tsp sugar
kosher salt
4 cups chicken stock or broth (I used broth)
1 15-ounce can cannelloni beans
Coarse black pepper
Crusty Bread
(And she recommends having it with a bottle of Bordeaux wine but we skipped that step)

Head a soup pot over medium-high heat with the EVOO. Add the ingredients to the pot as you chop them: ham, carrots, onions, celery, leeks, garlic and shallots. Add the cabbage to the pot and sprinkle with salt and sugar, add 2 cups of water and cover pot and allow cabbage to steam for 15 mins.

Uncover pot, add the stock and the beans. Crank the heat up to boil, reduce to simmer and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Serve with crusty bread (and I added a big salad on the side).

Super tasty and very easy. Uses TONS of fresh veggies. She says it serves 4 but in my world that serves more like 8!

UPDATE: This recipe is 3 points plus per serving (assuming you claim the recipe makes 8 servings instead of 4).

Whats Taking So Long?!

So for those of you who are wondering if I'm EVER going to post "after" pics of my little book case project part of the dining room remodel I've got some progress shots to explain what the frick is taking so long....

See I got them all painted, AND all the shelves painted, which took forever b/c I had to do it in batches b/c of limited work space. Then I got them in place - the two on the right I painted, the two on the left I bought. I think I did a dang good job of color matching them if I say so myself. Please ignore all the clutter. Its a work in progress (thats my story and I'm stickin' to it).

I was ALL excited b/c it took FOREVER and many, many coats of paint and primer and finally the day had arrived and things had cured the proper time and I was going to put the shelves INTO the bookcase. *drum roll please*......

And then THIS happened putting JUST THE FIRST SHELF IN PLACE: 

Yes those are big fat narly scratches in my nice white paint. LOVELY. On both sides: 

See, even left chunks on the shelf below. 

I was SO not happy. I tried waiting a week to see if it needed more cure time before putting the next one in place. Didn't fix it. 

So now I need to fix my scratches, and then try putting a couple coats of varnish on there and see if that fixes it. I'm wondering if my deglosser is not as good as the deglosser used and recommended by John and Sherry of YoungHouseLove. I tried to find theirs but I couldn't find it anywhere down here (they're in VA). If the varnish isn't enough then I'm going to have to strip them down, sand them, degloss them again, then re-prime, re-paint and re-varnish. Its a birch veneer on those bookcases. Its wood so it *should* stick. 

But um, right now I'm so epically irked I really want to just take an axe to the whole project so for its safety I've been working on decluttering the rest of the house and enjoying working in the yard while the beautiful weather lasts. I'm gonna wait on touching them again until its safe for both of us. 

Did I mention that 3rd bookcases I was gonna repaint and didn't have room to do is gonna get sold and I'll use whatever money I can get from that to put towards buying a new already-white bookcase. I've decided my sanity is worth the cash. Next time I do something like this - I'll do ONE bookcase to test it and THEN decided to paint vs sell the others b/c now I've ruined these perfectly good brown-black bookcases so I can't sell them. I have to find a way to refinish them. 

And thats why we're STILL not done yet in there. *deep breaths*

Progress on the Yard 3

So its been a while and things are looking better in the back yard. I'll up date you on the front yard after I get finished w/ the post-spring clean up. But hey compared to the thigh high weeds and dirt when we first bought the place this thing has come a LONG ways!!

Don't mind the strip of dead grass in the middle. I learned that my electric lawn mower is not macho enough to handle stripping things short enough to over seed winter rye so we're gonna officially file that task under: best left to a professional. The stripe should go away soon enough. The bermuda is coming out of dormancy and I just fertilized everything yesterday. 

Here's the little gardenia I planted along the shady back fence. She's kept blooming like mad (smells amazing) so I'm hopful she'll do well there. 

Yeah I still haven't moved the cactus in the play ground area. I need to get to that too... Also the tree on the right there needs some serious clean up. Lots of dead branches.  

I used some of that "Ground Clear for 1 Year" stuff on the path on the left side there to test it b/c I was afraid the run off would kill my grass but its only killed a couple little 6" or so patches of grass there so I vote thats a go in my book. Its done a great job of keeping the weeds out of the bricks. 

Ahhh my little side alley. 2 of the 3 vines I planted turned out to not be able to handle the heat here in Phoenix. I was very sad. I really wish plant info tags has a maximum temp rating and not just a minimum. It would be really helpful here. AND the 3rd vine has been a learning experience. Did you know that jasmine comes in 2 varieties? Mounding and Vining. I wanted a vine to climb up the wall so guess which type I bought? Thats right mounding. Ahhhh sweet learning experiences. Also jasmine really likes her sun so while she lived, she did not thrive. So I dug up all 3 plants, disposed of the dead ones and transplanted the mounding jasmine over by my rose bushes for some ground cover. I've replaced all 3 vines with bouganvilla that I scored for a song at Costco a few weeks back. 

 Yup theres the cactus that still needs moving. But it has crazy beautiful flowers in spring so I really want to try to keep it alive if at all possible. Wish me luck. 

Isn't it crazy how much that rose bush in the back right has grown?! That thing was 3 sticks and 2 leaves and mostly dead in the shade by my front door when we bought this house. I transplanted it, pruned it and said if it survives the shock it should do fine. I think its doin pretty okay personally. Also the mini rose there in the front is crazy! That thing like exploded back from its pruning and is COVERED in buds. I love it. The green thing in the front left is the mounding jasmine which will hopefully be much happier soon, and you can't see it hardly at all because of the shade but in the rear left there is my newest tiny little rose bush that I got for 3 bucks and has the most amazing ruffled, fragrant lavender blossoms. I'll get you pictures as she grows up and gets gorgeous. 

Also can just say that I really miss mulch?! Everything looks so much better w/ a nice thick, dark layer of mulch but no you can't use that here b/c it turns to sawdust in a single season (or so I'm told) so what you do is rock. And well lets just say that while rock might last forever the start up cost is prohibitive. *sigh* So I'll just keep battling the weeds for my dirt patches I guess. *sigh*

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Lessons I Still Need To Learn

I have issues advocating for myself. I mean, I'm a million percent better than I used to be and yet I still suck at it. And its weird because I have zero issues advocating for other people. I'm smart, I'm focused, I'm clear headed but when it comes to myself I am permanently that nerdy kid I was in school that stands there slack jawed in the face of the bully's attack and only comes up with the perfect retort hours later.

Or rather now I can stand up for myself but only when it doesn't really matter. I can smart off a retort w/ the best of them, but when its something important or really personal I still choke.

And I hate it and it makes me crazy and while I've made great progress I still have miles to go. And its so infuriating b/c mentally I know better. I know I don't deserve xyz, I know its wrong, I know I have a right to stand up for myself. If anybody tried this w/ somebody I cared about I'd take them off at the knees and not think twice about it. But when its me I'm just like, "durrrrrr...."

Really, really vexing and I'm not really sure how to get over it. B/c its not like it happens as much anymore now that I'm an adult so I don't exactly have a lot of opportunities for practice and also its uncomfortable so therefore I avoid it if at all possible, even if I don't admit to myself thats what I'm doing... So vexing.

Also I'm trying to find the balance between being positive with myself and being honest/realistic. B/c I've learned the hard way that negative self talk is bad. I mean really, really bad. I'd read for years in psych texts etc that its a bad thing but well I always blew that off and figured it didn't really make that big a difference. And believe you me - I was so good at negative self talk my mother once told me when I screwed something up, "I don't even have to yell at you b/c I know nothing I can say will compare to what you say to yourself".

But my sweet husband really changed all that. Anytime he'd hear me say something negative about myself he'd say, "Hey! Nobody talks smack about my wife!!" and I'd laugh and try not to do it. And after a couple years of that the difference is just amazing. I mean, I really can't understate what a positive thing this has been for my self esteem and my self image. I actually like what I see when I look in the mirror now. That act used to reduce me to tears. No, I don't look perfect, and I've got things I'd like to fix but I can see the good things for what they are now - as good things. The bad is in its proper perspective.

And yet... I have things I need to work on. My house is a permanent pit of filth. I have a whole stack of projects in a permanent state of "not done yet". I have things I have told people that I would get done that are not getting done. And I hate that. And so I need to figure out whats up and how to fix it etc. But my gut reaction is to berate myself. I want to say horrible things. And I'm not sure how to see a realistic view of whats going on b/c what I want to say is that I'm clearly a disgustingly lazy person who spends too damn much time on the internet.

And while there may well be more than a grain of truth there I also don't want to say that to myself. Or at least I want to make sure thats not the only thing going on. I want to also give myself some credit and point out that I potty trained my kid this week. So I didn't get my dining room remodel done, or a million other things but by golly my kid can poop in the potty now and for me in my life, thats huge.

But excuses are like butt holes - everybody has them and they all stink and I've got excuses for why my house is a mess but other people have wayyyyy crazier lives than mine (my sister for example) and she maintains a beautifully organized, practically spotless house. And I just think that it has to be possible. Other people do it all the time. If I could just get it done then I could maintain it and that would be easier and it would free me up for x, y and z. And yet I just don't know what my issue is that this is my goliath....

So how to honestly evaluate a situation, give myself credit, but not make excuses, be honest but not cruel to myself... I'll let you know when I figure it out.