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Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Hitchin' Posts - A Bride's Dream Wedding under $3,000

The Bride and Groom's Wedding with Less - yet so much more...

My last post was in April - for good reason... I had a wedding to plan, arrange, attend, and all the while, adhering to my fabulous life experiment of creating a tasteful yet simple celebration on as little as possible. 
The following series of blog posts will be dedicated to all the beautiful brides who deserve and desire a wonderful wedding day - but want to keep the expense to a minimum. I encourage instead a donation of what you would have spent on your wedding to something near and dear to your heart that REALLY needs the support.

The following series of posts will take you on a journey from creating invitations, handcrafting flowers, dress hunting, gifts, reception ideas, and using the resources and talents of neighbors and friends to make your special day one that is a colloration rather than a costly burden.  

The Bottom Line:  our total wedding output, including invitations, flowers, my dress and all attire, rehearsal un-dinner (I will explain), wedding venue, reception and guest gifts... $2,950  

Stay tuned for How....

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Eggceptional Deviled Eggs and the Science of Hard Boiling

I love deviled eggs.  I have tried many variations of recipes.  Following are some ingredients that you can experiment with to put zing into your own.

But first - the important thing is:  How do we properly boil and peel eggs?  I have consulted many on the matter in the past. I still sacrifice a few in my attempts to peel to perfection.  But here is the best bet for a nice smooth outcome.

Place eggs in deep pan.  Cover completely with cold water. Bring to rolling boil and boil for 10 minutes (set a timer to be eggzact). Remove from heat and immediately rinse with cold water until temp of eggs cool down.  Then take cooled egg and knock each end on a hard surface, then roll it completely, breaking up the shell as you roll. HOPEFULLY, it should peel easily as you rinse it under cold water in the process.

Yummy Hard Boiled Egg Recipe Options
After cutting in half, Place yolks in a bowl and add to desired creaminess and consistency the following:
Mayonaise (sometimes I use a little ranch dressing or sour cream)
Yellow Mustard (sometimes I use dijon)
Pickle Juice - just a few tablespoons - (sometimes I use dill relish)
Spices: Pepper, Salt, Parsley (sometimes I top with Dill, Chives, and ALWAYS Paprika)
AND for a little kick - I sometimes add a teaspoon of horse-radish

Sunday, April 10, 2011

3-2-1 Swedish Pancake Fabulousness

What do you do when you are looking forward to making a good breakfast for more than just yourself and when you open the carton of eggs, there are only three remaining? Following is the easiest "pancake" recipe I have tweaked, tried, and enjoyed time after time.  But a bit about the joy of pancakes first.....

I don't know what it is about them, but pancakes always cheer me up.  Sometimes having pancakes for dinner is one of the simplest pleasures - gastronomically speaking.

This thin pancake recipe is best when you use a large skillet in hot oil.  Pour batter in the hot skillet so it spreads out and makes one large "flowered-edges" crepe-like cake.  It's so easy... the recipe is:

3-2-1 Swedish Pancakes
THREE eggs
TWO cups of milk (substitute with buttermilk, sourcream, or yogurt, if you are low on milk)
ONE cup flour

Mix all together with whisk until batter is thin and smooth.  Pour into hot oiled skillet - makes about 5 to 6 large pancakes.  Serve with butter and powdered sugar, or maple or pure cane syrup, or strawberry jam! 

SWEET SWEET LIFE when you get an excuse to pour a little syrup on something! Have a beautiful day!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Most Fabulous Product in My Life

Product Review:  Sweet Blessed Bee Magic

There is one addition to my life in the past year that has brought the most pleasure, satisfaction, beauty, healing, and luxury than any other product I have experienced; this delightful, organic handcrafted cream called Sweet Blessed Bee Magic has transformed my skin and hair, and healed many boo-boos and bug bites.  I will refer to it often through out my blog as I find new ways to use this "magical" stuff every day. 

Most importantly, it is ALL ORGANIC and ALL PURPOSE.  I use it EVERYWHERE! 

I swear it makes my eyelashes grow, wrinkles disappear, blemishes fade, scars dissipate, and leaves a radiant, supple glow both morning and night when applied.  I use it as day cream and makeup remover and all times in between as lip gloss and hand moisturizer.  Basically, it has replaced so many other products in my life leading to cost savings, space conservation, and overall goodness!

This stuff is truly FABULOUS!

Check out the maker Medicine Mama and the process at  A good thing, story, and person behind it all.  Oh yeah.  And it's my sister! Amazing woman.  Medicine Mama - you go girl!

Comfort Food - in 15 minutes - and under $5 tonight!

I love bacon.  And then someone told me about how pigs are highly advanced, smart and sensitive animals. Then I watched the documentary Fast Food Nation and Food, Incorporated...and I swore off eating grocery meat or any fast food for that matter...until tonight. I craved a good pork chop with mashed potatoes and corn. So I made it - ate it - and enjoyed it and the following recipe keeps it under $5 and fabulous! Tomorrow, I will return to my aspirations and support of free range chicken, local vegies and homegrown goods.

Pork Cutlets in a Rosemary Mushroom Cream Sauce

4 or 5 thin boneless pork cutlets ($2.50)
10 mushrooms - sliced
1/2 onion sliced
clove garlic crushed
2 TBSP butter
1/4 cup dry wine (optional)
1/2 cup sour cream mixed with 1/4 cup heavy cream or half n half
fresh sprig of rosemary and chopped chives

Salt, Pepper and dash paprika on both sides of cutlets and brown in hot skillet in some olive oil.  After 2 minutes on each side, add sliced mushrooms, sliced onion, and garlic.  When mushrooms are soft and onions cooked through, turn heat to low and wine, stirring until nice simmer. Then add sour cream/cream mixture and stir until smooth creamy consistency.  Let simmer on very low for another 5 minutes. Add crushed rosemary.  (If cutlets are really thin - this meal will take no more than 15 minutes to prepare and serve.)  Meanwhile - I stick a whole corn on the cob (in the husk) in the microwave for 8 minutes and the corn turns out great!  (It is the only time I use my microwave!)  I also steam 4-6 red potatoes and serve with butter and fresh chives and any left over sour cream I might have from the cream sauce. 

Sunday, April 3, 2011

SWEET GOOD LIFE with a side of cupcakes!

Skip this message. Go right to the recipe and whip up some fabulousness as soon as possible!  Wow - this adapted recipe (I adapt all my recipes based on what is available in the cupboard!) is the best attempt at baking with a successful outcome I have ever had. 

First of all, there are few things better in life than cupcake often my kids tell me to not bother cooking the batter or the dough because once it hits the oven, a chemical reaction of sorts destroys my effort.  Not this time! This one worked and must be shared! 

Here's to the fabulous aroma that sweet strawberry cupcakes leaves behind long after the cupcakes are gone!

What a sweet life we get to enjoy!

Homemade Buttermilk Cupcakes with Strawberry Jam and
Sweet Cream Frosting
1/2 cup butter softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
little less than 1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup strawberry jam

Mix sugar and butter until creamy; add eggs, vanilla, and buttermilk; whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in separate bowl; pour flour mixture into wet ingredients until well blended.  Make sure to take some yummy bites of batter along the way! Spray nonstick pan and pour batter in only 1/4 way up; add a dollup of strawberry jam and then cover with remaining batter until cup is 3/4 full.  (This recipe makes about 8 cupcakes) Bake at 325 degrees for about 20 minutes.  Take out, let cool, and frost with cream cheese frosting - see below.  Top with a sliced fresh strawberry. 
Enjoy and eat while they are still warm!

(Frosting:  Mix 3/4 cup cream cheese, 1 tbsp vanilla, 2 tbsp butter, 1 3/4  cup powdered sugar)

Sweet Sweet Fabulousness

Tonight's Music Recommendation to accompany the making, baking, and eating of cupcakes:
Connie Evingson's Si Tu Savais from her Stockholm Sweetnin' album .... classy jazz and great guitar accompaniment

Saturday, April 2, 2011

A "Cool Stuff" Yard Sale and BBQ Chicken

As I write this, I am blanching tomatoes for tonight's sauce for my Mushroom Zucchini Lasgna (I will post it later to share) - it's one of my favorite dishes to make on the weekend as you need a little extra time to devote to it. 

The COOL Stuff Sale

This Fabulous Life Experiment to live well with less motivated and inspired my "Cool Stuff" Yard Sale today... although not much stuff was sold (apparently what I think is cool was overpriced for the patrons who ventured into the yard...)  It's so hard to let go of that really amazing something or other that you may have paid $50 for and then someone comes and offers you 50 cents!  I guess they figure you want to get rid of it anyway - so might as well start the bidding as low as possible. 

Total Made Today:  $7.25

Total Effort:  Several hours of gathering and sorting through "cool stuff" to put in the sale, 1/2 mile round trip of walking to post the "Cool Stuff" Yard Sale signs, 6 hours of standing, sitting, smiling, and trying to sell the "Cool Stuff". 

So to make the best of the experience and set the ambience for a "Cool" Yard Sale, I brought out an old record player and put on some Benny Goodman records...then I made

Homemade Blackberry Smoothies to pass out
(1 cup blackberries, 2 cups strawberries, one banana, cup of ice, cup of cold milk - soy or rice - and lots of honey),

I put a basket of random items out for free to encourage folks to lighten my load... (No one ever wants to put their stuff back into the house once its been placed in the yard for sale....except our old timey ice cream maker and juicer.  That came back in!

Having a yard sale is hard work.  Out in the sun...Greeting and meeting with neighbors and strangers alike... explaining why you want more than they are willing to buy something for... so what to do but cook and have a good time anyway! 

Because we had to keep an eye on all the cool stuff but still eat lunch, we elected to BBQ chicken on the grill and have a simple picnic style lunch.  Following are two really easy recipes (one for a glaze toward the end of grilling, the other for my favorite version of potato salad! Enjoy!

Ginger Honey Citrus Marinade
(apply during the last 5 minutes of grilling)
1 tablespoon diced ginger
2 tablespoons honey
1-2 fresh squeezed oranges
tiny dash of cayenne
(Mix together and pour over chicken while its still on the grill)

Garden Vegetable Potato Salad
6-8 small red potatoes (I steam them until soft) skins on - put a little red wine vinegar and salt on them while they cool down.
2 carrots diced small
1/4 cup red onion
2 celery diced small
diced rosemary, chives, dill and parsley
Cucumber Ranch Dressing (I use Kraft)
Mix all together and serve with fresh chives on top (salt and pepper to taste)

And - whenever I serve melons, I squeeze some lime over the fruit and top off with a touch of honey.