I Spy Adventures in Crafting (succulent mason jar wall hangings)

I’m pretty obsessed with succulents these days. I purchased a variety of succulents from the U.C. Berkeley Botanical garden, only to find out that my cat really enjoys gnawing on the succulent leaves. IMG_2735

Therefore the obvious next step was to mount these little guys in an area where my adorable but destructive feline friend could not reach.

Succulent Wall Hanging

Succulent Wall Hanging

What you will need to make 4 hangings:

  • 4 wooden squares. I purchased mine from Michael’s. Make sure it is thick enough to drill a screw through.
  • Acrylic paint of your choosing (or stain for a more natural look).  I used Martha Stewart’s “wedding cake” and “snap pea” satin paint.
  • Stencil (Michael’s)
  • Repair Clamps (home depot)
  • 8 screws (home depot)
  • 4 wall hanging mounts (home depot)
  • Stones or perlite (home depot)
  • Succulents (home depot/area of choice)
  • Electric drill (Ikea has a decent 30 dollar drill if you are in a pinch)IMG_5833

How To:

  • Sand wood if necessary. Paint one coat white, let dry for about an hour.
  • Use stencil and paint green coat. Wash stencil between wood planks. Let dry an hour.
  • Meanwhile, prepare mason jars with succulents. But 3/4 cup stones or perlite in bottom because they do not have a draining system. Then fill rest with cactus soil/dirt and plant.
  • Drill holes in the clamps. This is hard!  Keep in mind that the clamp will need enough room to tighten around the jar, so select the location carefully.  You use the drill to loosen or tighten the clamp. Drilling works best if you loosen the clamp entirely so it becomes one long strip.
  • Once the planks are dry. Flip over and screw in the wall mounts.
  • After you have secured the wall mounts, use the electric drill to screw in the clamp. Place the clamp in the location where you want the middle of the jar to fall. I suggestion the center.
  • Tighten the clamp so it almost holds the jar. Then hang it on the wall.
  • Put the jar in the clamp and tighten it with the drill so the jar doesn’t fall out

 

 

 

I Spy Spicy Italian Minestrone Soup

In efforts to simplify my life I’ve started to make a big batch of soup on Sundays, enjoy it for dinner, and pack it into mason jars for lunches throughout the week. I’ve been craving minestrone soup lately. I dug up a recipe from Jamie Oliver, hiked to the farmer’s market, took a nap, visited the local sausage store, and then cooked up this lovely gem.  Long live Soup’n Sundays!

All purchased from the neighborhood!

All purchased from the neighborhood!

Spicy Italian Minestrone Soup

What you need:

  • 3 spicy italian sausages. We have a local store, Rosamunde, which is amazing.
  • 3 Tbs Olive Oil
  • 1 red onion (diced)
  • 2 large carrots (cubed)
  • 2 stalks of celery (diced)
  • 2 large potatoes (Cubed, I selected yukon)
  • 2 medium zucchini (cubed)
  • 8 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 15 oz can of garbanzo beans (drained)
  • 1 28 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 tbs of dried oregano
  • 1 cup of small pasta
  • 2 handfuls of kale
  • Optional: fresh bread and parmesan cheese

How to make:

  • Chop up sausages, poor 3ish Tbs of olive oil in a soup pot. Cook on medium heat until you can start to smell the sausage/they get brown.
  • While the sausages are cooking,  chop onion, celery, carrot, zucchini. Throw them in (with oregano) as  you chop. Sauté the veggies until they start to soften.
  • Meanwhile, chop up the potatoes, throw them into the pot.
  • Poor 6 cups chicken broth into pot, add can of diced tomatoes and beans. Let simmer for 30 minutes
  •  Add about 1 cup of pasta, and kale. Let simmer for about 10 minutes.
  • Serve with homemade croutons and parmesan cheese.

Croutons:

Cut up a baguette/bread into squares. Brush olive oil mixed with salt, pepper over the bread. Cook on stove top for 10 minutes or in oven at 375 for ten minutes. I used fresh garlic bread from the farmer’s market.

End result, delicious

I Spy My Favorite Muffin Recipe

I LOVE MUFFINS. Here is my go-to recipe. You can more or less substitute any of the berries, and spices to your liking. For this recipe, I used pecans and mixed berries to dress up my muffins.


 

My Favorite Muffin Recipe:

About 9 muffins, 30 minutes

Bake at 375 for about 15-20 minutes then serve

Mixed berry pecan muffin

Mixed berry pecan muffin

Dry Ingredients: Mix together in smaller bowl

  • 1 1/2 C Flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon (note, you can substitute or omit)

Wet Ingredients: First froth egg, then add sour cream, sugar,  and vanilla. Beat for 1 minute.  Fold in dry ingredients until blended. Then fold in berries. Scoop about 1/3 cup of batter into muffin tin, prior to placing in oven, make the streusel topping.

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbs melted butter or 1 tbs oil
  • 3/4 cup sugar (if you like sweeter muffins, use 1/2 C sugar, 1/4 C brown sugar)
  • 1 tsp vanilla (note, can substitute with lemon, hazelnut, etc or omit)
  • 1 C sour cream
  • Fruit (you can use thawed frozen berries*, dried fruit, fresh berries, applies, bananas, ect)

Streusel Topping: Using a food processor, throw in all ingredients and blend/chop until mixed. Sprinkle 1 tbs on top of each muffin before putting in the oven for about 20 minutes. 

  • 1/3 cup of flour
  • 1/3 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup pecans (you can also use lemon zest, other nuts, or omit)
  • 2 tbs of cold butter (cubed)

For lemon streusel topping, check out this previous post! Click here

*note, if you use frozen berries, it may extend the cooking time if still frozen

I Spy Pesto Shrimp

I saw a recipe on Pintrest a couple weeks ago about pesto shrimp. Originally I planned to grill the shrimp, however the bay was hit with an unusual rainstorm which in turn made the grill too damp to cook.

You can make the pesto (click here for my recipe), or purchase. My favorite pesto is actually from Costco.

Originally I planned on grilling the shrimp which is why they are on skewers.

Originally I planned on grilling the shrimp which is why they are on skewers.


Pesto Shrimp

  • 1/4 lb of large gulf pealed shrimp per person (it will provide about 10 each)
  • 1 tbs of pesto per 1/4 lb of shrimp
  • a little olive oil to coat pan (if grilling omit)

Directions

  • Coat shrimp in pesto, if grilling spear through sticks
  • Stir-fry shrimp for about 3 minutes depending on size. You will know they are cooked when they are no longer translucent.
  • Serve over desired choice — I choose cheese tortellini (also purchased from Costco) with pesto.
    Shrimp and tortellini

    Shrimp and tortellini


     

Fool Proof Green Smoothies

Green smoothie = 1 handful greens + 1 cup liquid + (1/2 cup [fruit #1] + 1/2 cup [fruit #2] + banana )

Since my last post, I’ve grown rather fond of these little green smoothies due to the following reasons:

  • They are super easy and affordable
  • Drinking one for breakfast keeps me full through lunch
  • They are yummy
  • Easy to transport

Every morning I grab a heaping handful of greens (spinach or kale), run it under water, and throw in my blender with 1 cup of coconut water or tap water. After blending the mixture for 30 seconds, I then pull the frozen baggie of fruit out of the freezer and dump it into the blender.  I let the blender run for about 45 seconds, then poor it in a to-go tumbler and take it to work.


 

Fool Proof Green Smoothies

  • 1 cup frozen fruit (mix and match 1/2 cup of: pineapple, mango, strawberries, blueberries, cherries, mixed berries, oranges, raspberries, or peaches)
  • 1 banana (pealed and chopped)
  • 1 heaping handful of greens (spinach or kale)
  • 1 cup liquid (water, coconut water, almond milk).
Frozen Fruit Baggies

Frozen Fruit Baggies

Directions

  • Assemble fruit bags and freeze: 1/2 cup [fruit #1] + 1/2 cup [fruit #2] + banana
  • In the morning before running out the door, wash a handful of greens and throw in blender for 30 seconds with 1 cup liquid
  • Throw in frozen fruit, blend for 45 seconds

 

I Spy Green Drinks

I have been a long time “hater” of green drinks due to the fact that green drinks seem to bring together three of my biggest hardships against society:

  1. Hippie judging moms who’s children will likely grow into chump little cookie monsters.
  2. Crazy near-anorexic women who justify juicing as meals. JUICE IS NOT A MEAL, LADIES.
  3. Purple ketchup. Its just not right. A green drink reminds me of purple ketchup.

However, my Mom visited a couple weeks ago and brought to my attention the utter lack of vegetables in my “diet”.  It turns out, she was correct. My  ritual of 1/2 deli sandwich for lunch followed by the other 1/2 deli sandwich for dinner, although economically savvy, is not the healthiest of options.   Therefore, I’m giving green drinks an honest try because frankly it is the easiest option.

I found this really cool website called “Simple Green Smoothies” where there is a green drink challenge. These women send out a shopping list every Thursday with recipes for the green drinks.  The “challenge” is to drink a green drink every day in April.  While I haven’t started the challenge yet, I am preparing my mastery what they call the “Beginner’s Luck Smoothie”.  Below is a description of how I have mastered the “Beginner’s Luck Smoothie”

Mixing up the water and spinach

Mixing up the water and spinach

Beginner’s Luck Smoothie

Shopping List:

  • 1 large bag of spinach (think six heaping handfuls)
  • 1 pre-cored pineapple
  • 1 22 oz bag of chopped mango (3 cups)
  • 6 ripe bananas
  • 12 ziplock baggies

Beginner’s Luck Smoothie —Serves 1
1 cups spinach, fresh
1 cups water
1/2 cup mango
1/2 cup pineapple
1 bananas

Instructions to Prepare 6 Beginner’s Luck Smoothies for the Week

Each Smoothie will have two baggies (one fruit one veggie)

Each Smoothie will have two baggies (one fruit one veggie)

I don’t really have a lot of time or energy in the morning to chop fruit, wash produce, ect. Therefore, my solution to making this model sustainable is preparing everything over the weekend and freezing it.

Assembling the Fruit Bags: 1/2 C Pineapple + 1/2 C Mango + 1 banana =  1 Fruit Bag (goes in freezer)
  1. Chop cored pineapple into small pieces. Measure and distribute 1/2 cup per bag
  2. Distribute frozen mango, 1/2 cup per bag
  3. Chop and distribute banana 1 banana per bag

Assembling the Spinach Bag: 1 C Spinach = 1 Bag (goes in fridge)

  1. Wash spinach and measure out 1 cup per bag

    Spinach! Pre-measure

    Spinach! Measure out ahead of time.

Instructions to make Beginner’s Luck Smoothie

  1. Whip out your blender (it need not be fancy).
  2. Add 1 cup water + 1 cup spinach. Blend for 30 seconds on high
  3. Add frozen fruit baggie, blend for 1 minute and stir mid-way through if necessary.
  4. Pour into a glass or to go tumbler to take to work, drink with a straw
OK, I probably shouldn't have selected a bright purple glass as it brings out the green and makes this look like something straight out of Shrek. But, the smoothy was tasty!

OK, I probably shouldn’t have selected a bright purple glass as it brings out the green and makes this look like something straight out of Shrek. But, the smoothy was tasty!

Quick Clean Up, FYI

  1. After you are finished, a really easy and quick way to clean the blender is to put a dab of dishsoap with water and blend. Makes for fast and easy clean up

    After you are finished, a really easy and quick way to clean the blender is to put a dab of dish soap with water and blend. Makes for fast and easy clean up. If you put enough water in, it will clean the whole blender.

 

I Spy the Best (egg) Breakfast Ever

I was looking through my past posts and really most of them are breakfast related. That is probably due to the fact that it is the only meal that I regularly cook on the weekends, also it is my go-to dinner.

A family friend recently tipped me off to a secret regarding scrambled eggs: use cream cheese.

Here is one of my most fundamental, most delicious egg recipes:

Spinach, Onion, Ham and Cheese Egg Scramble

Total Cook time 12-15 minutes

Breakfast!

Ingredients:

  1. two large handfuls of spinach (washed and chopped)
  2. 1/2 yellow onion (diced)
  3. Cheddar cheese  (shredded)
  4. two pieces of lunch meat cubed (ham or turkey works well
  5. 2 Tablespoons of cream cheese
  6. 3-4 eggs

    The cooking process, including a cat who really wants some ham.

    The cooking process, including a cat who really wants some ham.

Instructions:

  1. Dice 1/2 yellow onion, sauté  in a little oil for 5 minute
  2. While onion is cooking cut ham in little squares. Throw in pan to sauté
  3. Also while onion/ham are cooking, roughly chop spinach, throw in pan until it softens. 
  4. While spinach is cooking (about 2 min), heat cream cheese in microwave for 15 seconds in a mug or bowl. Crack eggs and whisk eggs/cream cheese together. It will not fully mix, that is okay.
  5. Pour egg mixture over spinach, ham, onions and using a spatula continually fold the eggs until cooked. You can add cheddar cheese (if desired) during the folding process.