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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Mama!

Peabody's been callin' Daddy Da-da for several months now, but just this week decided he'd finally throw me a bone. Which is good because I was getting real tired of bein' called Myrtle Jean.



P.S. If you watch the first minute closely you can see that Da-da has been instructing him on the proper way to apply product to get the hippest look out of his new haircut.

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

You Capture: SWEET

I had the pleasure, five years ago, of carrying and birthing and nursing and cuddling the tiniest pink bundle, fresh like a honeysuckle-rose.

That cherished bundle has ever-so-quickly grown up to be my bright, witty little everyday side-kick and my second best friend in the whole wide world.

And even as I write these words, it makes me really think about my beautiful girl. My daughter. My crazy Alex-Bean. And now I've got a big old happy lump in my throat and tears in my eyes and yes! I realize (again) that there's only one word for that kind of blessing.


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Sweet.


For more SWEET shots, go visit You Capture: Sweet at I Should Be Folding Laundry.



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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Spring Around the Manor

The inevitable spring fixin'-up bug's infected me this month, just like it always does this time of year. I thought I'd show y'all a couple of the things I've done lately to freshen up the Manor for our favorite season.

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Here's the simple spring centerpiece I put together for our kitchen table yesterday. I found the cute flower-embellished tin buckets on a clearance rack over the weekend, filled them with some simple natural branches and a few sprigs of semi-natural (all but the blooms are "real") forsythia and then arranged all three in a neat row on a distressed metal tray I've had for years. To finish the whole thing off and give it some weight so it wouldn't rattle every time we walked across the kitchen floor, I filled the tray around the bases of the buckets with a few handfuls of polished river rocks. And yes, the kids and I have already had several conversations about where those river rocks do belong and where they don't belong. Could be a long spring!


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I've had this Thomasville sofa table/book shelf/curio cabinet since way back when I was a single girl in the city, in fact it's one of the first pieces of furniture I ever bought all by myself. Back then I used it to display my eclectic, single-girl collection of brick-a-brack from my travels - Murano glass bottles from Italy, an artsy black and white picture of Big Ben I took on a trip to London, a shell straight off the beach of the Big Island. But since I got married and had Bean, all that looky where I've been, nanny nanny boo boo detritus has been replaced with, well, a whole lotta nothin' on account of Murano glass looks beautiful and elegant reflecting city sunshine on a shelf but it loses quite a bit of its charm when you find it peeking out of the teething maw of your curious toddler.

So fast forward a short five years and I finally ran across these pretty woven sea-grass baskets for less than $6 each and thought they'd look better on the shelf than all the nothingness. And what do you know? They DO! And BONUS! They change the look so much it's almost like I got a brand new piece of furniture! I don't know what I'll put inside the baskets themselves, though -- perhaps all the marbles I'm going to lose tryin' to keep them all off the floor and properly aligned inside their cubbies with four busy kid-hands constantly grabbing 'em and carting them off to the far reaches of the house?


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Monday, April 19, 2010

Zoom!

Posting may be light this week as we've got a busy week ahead of us. My 3-Day team, Team Cure or Bust, hosts our biggest Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure fundraising event next weekend, so I'll be frantically zipping around fetchin' and carryin' and hot-gluin' and pink-bow-tyin' to get things all set for that, and then there's, you know, LIFE, which by the looks of it is going to involve some combination of kids, parks, sunshine and many, many pants-cuffs full of sand. Hope y'all've got a beautiful and purposeful week dawning in your neck of the woods, too!

I posted the second half of my Stuff I'm Lovin' for Kids list over at 5 Minutes for Parenting this morning. Y'all come share your favorite things with me!

Also, PLEASE don't forget to enter the Alice.com Gift Card Raffle I'm running over at my 3-Day team's blog, CureorBust.com. Free household stuff you need, with your contribution going to a fantastic cause. I would love to have your support AND hand you a $100 gift card, too!





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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Friday, April 16, 2010

Next Time She'll Ask Mama

Actual conversation I overheard this morning between Bean and her investment counselor.

Bean: Dad I want my own iPod.

Dad: Nope.

Bean: Why Daddy? I want to listen to my own music!

Dad: You can buy an iPod when you graduate from college, get a job and earn your first pay check. (Silence) Although in my opinion it'd be better to use that money to max out your company's tax-deferred 401(k).

Bean: DA-DEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!


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Thursday, April 15, 2010

FRESH: Provencal Olive Relish. Relish It.

I wish y'all could smell my kitchen right now! I've got the oven jammed full of trays of veggies just a-roastin' away in there and OHMYSTANDARDENGLISHALPHABETO'VITAMINS my lungs can't get enough. In there I've got a huge pan of sliced organic yellow squash, zucchini and sweet onion done up in a little olive oil, salt, pepper and oregano that I'm gonna use later to make these delicious Summer Veggie Sandwiches (from my Lunch Actually sandwich collection, which still sports the cutest graphic I've ever seen, ever, on a blog) on some nice soft whole wheat rolls.

I've also got a pan of halved peppers, onions, shallots and cloves of fresh garlic roasting so I can make a big batch of the relish I'm going to tell you how to make below. Do not doubt that a dollop of this relish'll make it onto the sammies above as well. I suppose it's a no-brainer that my body and soul start Jonesin' in overdrive for fruits and veggies galore the first day our local temps reach 80°, which they did yesterday, ALL DAY LONG, with plentious rays of the most glorious sunshine I've seen in a year. I swear every botanical specimen on the grounds of FriedOkra Manor, plus both of the kids, shot up 6 inches in about 8 hours. We were outside pretty much from sun up to sun down and I'll tell you what, when I brought those babies inside for dinner, they ate like they hadn't seen food in a week and a half. And then I gave them a bath and about flipped my lid for joy when I got 'em out and sent 'em off in their hoodie-towels to play (airquote)SuperBabies(end airquote), looked into the tub and noticed that their bath water was actually DIRTY.

I do love me some dirty bath water, don't y'all? It's like a sign that your kids've sucked every single drop of the nectar out of a day. You know what I mean?

But I did not come here to talk to you about dirty bath water. I came to tell you about this olive and roasted veggie relish that Al and I learned about at our recent French cookin' lessons at a local restaurant called Le Titi de Paris.

Now in our lesson, we prepared this relish to serve at room temperature over a nice piece of seared salmon, and we both absolutely drooled over the dish as prepared. The chef told us we could also heat it up and mix it in with cooked pasta so we tried that at home last week and I wanted to break down and weep after the first bite. Eatin' this relish over some whole wheat bow-ties with a little freshly grated Parmesano Reggiano over the top's the culinary equivalent of findin' my soulmate.

The relish itself is the perfect combination of freshness and lightness but y'all? It packs flavor and aroma in to the bursting point. In our kitchen, it's been surfed, turfed, panini'd and pasta'd and I'm not about to stop exploring its versatility. It's transformed ordinary seared chicken breasts into date-night fanciness, it's decked sandwiches out in the kind of glory sandwiches deserves but seldom get because of their common and unfair assignation to the "stuff we eat when we don't care what we eat" column on home menu repertoires.

In other words, I cannot say enough good stuff about this relish. And with that, I'm gonna stop tryin' and let it speak for itself.




Provencal Olive Relish

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 a medium red onion, peeled
1 yellow pepper
1 green pepper
1 shallot, peeled
a handful of stuffed green olives
a handful of pitted black olives
1 fresh tomato
1-2 Tbsp. capers
1 largish clove fresh garlic
a dozen leaves of fresh basil

Preheat your oven to 325°. Slice your peppers in half and clean out the membranes and seeds. Brush the peppers, red onion and shallot and the garlic clove with a little of the olive oil and place them (peppers go cut side down) on a baking sheet. Toss those in the oven for about 30-45 minutes or until they're soft and gettin' some nice caramelization going. Allow those to cool.

You can easily peel the skin off the peppers once they've cooled by running blade of a nice sharp knife across the skin to begin to lift it and then just grabbing a corner of skin and gently pulling it away from the flesh. You CAN, I said. You don't have to. It's solamente a texture thang. I don't mind the texture of pepper skin, see, and I'm all about makin' things easy, PLUS, I've heard it said by some that many of the nutrients in veggies reside in the skin or just under it. Certainly a lot of the fiber, right? So, peel or no peel, you have my permission to follow your own whim. Once you've made that huge and difficult decision, dice up the peppers and the onion and the shallot and the garlic put them in a bowl.

Next, grab those two handfuls of olives and give those a nice rough choppity-chop-chop. Toss those in the bowl then toss in your capers whole. Dice up the tomato, which is done by slicing that puppy in half and squeezing out as much of the seeds and pulp as you can. Then slice each half a few times through and finish by just running your knife crossways over the slices until they're diced. Dicing a tomato - meh, it's one of those things I've learned to just do my best and accept that something that looks like a larva to begin with isn't gonna come out looking DONE in the end.

Toss your tomato shards and innards and whatnot into the bowl. GWISH.

And the basil. You can either tear the leaves off the stem and continue to tear them into small pieces with your fingers which will prevent bruising, or you can throw bruising caution to the wind and roll the leaves up in to a tube and slice them thin, then further insult their integrity by going over them with your blade until they're in a fine chop. WHATEVS!

Add the remaining olive oil to the bowl and stir it all together, gently. Add salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste.

Now comes the hard part. You need to let it all sit together and get to know each other at room temperature for at least an hour. After that, the sky's the limit, my friends. I challenge you to find a new way to use this stuff that I haven't though of.

As I see it, what you've got here basically what'd be produced if muffaletta and bruschetta had a baby. And you know what?

I just plain can't think of two finer condiments to fall in love and make yummy babies.



(I'm including this post and photo montage in You Capture-Fresh at I Should Be Folding Laundry because hey, it doesn't get any fresher than this!)








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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

ALICE.COM GIFT CARD RAFFLE (ENDS APRIL 30!)

To honor my agreements with the Blogher Ad network folks, I've moved the Alice.com Gift Card Raffle to my 3-Day Team's blog, CureOrBust.com. Please come on over and check it out. You can either make a contribution to the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure via the link in that post or come back to FriedOkra and use the button on my left hand sidebar.

Thanks y'all!

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Monday, April 12, 2010

I Apologize to Your Ovaries in Advance

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I know. He's shameless, iddn'ee? This one's learned muuuuch earlier than his sister did how to play that cute card. Case in point, you can't hear him but he's also saying, "Eeeeeeeee!" (which is Peabod'ese for "cheese") while posing like this.

OHMYFUZZYBABYBUNNIES!

Cheese, indeed, little man. Cheese, cheese and more cheese.


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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Her New Life: Day One

I mentioned over the weekend that my friend Meagan, who was diagnosed in September 2009 with Stage 3 breast cancer, had her final radiation treatment on Good Friday. She'd started radiation in February and prior to that she'd been through three months of chemotherapy, and that's AFTER major surgery and the emotional trauma of her diagnosis. Her battle has been long and hard, y'all. She was SO SICK with the chemotherapy and the drugs and other treatments she received to keep her strong and healthy throughout. But Meagan endured it all with such grace, faith, courage and amazing hope that those of us who have loved and supported her through it often found ourselves taking our strength and courage from HER.

Meagan (and I cry every single time I start to say or write this) is officially 100% cancer-free today.

{Breathe.}

I have ... we have ... all been radically changed - educated and inspired and moved - by Meagan and her tough-as-nails but graceful-as-an-angel fight against this hideous, dreaded disease. We wanted to show her our love, gratitude and JOY in celebrating this HUGE milestone alongside her, so the neighborhood gang and some families from her church, along with her own family, gathered in front of her house late Friday morning wearing all kindsa pink and bearing balloons and signs to greet her as she drove home from treatment this one last time.

We'd prepared a huge bouquet of pink balloons for Meagan to release with a wish, and we all clapped, cheered and boohooed as we watched those pink balloons, pumped so full of love, hope, triumph and joy, sail away, up into the sky, smaller and smaller and smaller.

And I looked back at Meagan's face as she watched those pink balloons soar up into the clouds, my own eyes full of tears, and I witnessed one of the most beautiful, awesome l sights I've ever seen.

I looked into that astoundingly pretty face and saw this phenomenal woman, cherished and nurtured by her family and friends, poised to live again.

New life, day one.

God bless you, sweet Meagan.





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Friday, April 2, 2010

Oh, I Could Write a Sonnet About My Easter Bonnet And Of the Girl I'm Taking to the Easter Parade

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Taken this morning as we welcomed Meagan home from her final radiation treatment.


So, so many blessings to thank God for this joyous weekend. The FriedOkra family celebrates especially the new CANCER-FREE LIFE, starting today, of our friend and neighbor, Meagan. I'll tell y'all all about that next week but for now I just wanted to stop by and wish you and those you love a very Happy Easter.

And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.-- Mark 16:6

Much love,

The FriedOkras




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