weekend haps

fall fields

It still doesn’t feel like fall in Michigan, we had high temps in the 80s over the weekend; but it certainly is looking like fall here which is nice. We spent all afternoon on Sunday raking and picking up seed pods that have fallen out of our locust tree and leaves in our yard. We also planted our rose bush in the backyard, which I hope will do well over the winter and bloom again in the spring/summer next year. It was nice to spend some time sprucing up the house, both inside and out, and put out a few decorations for Halloween. And with Halloween in mind…

Maddy will just close her eyes through the scary parts. 😉

#doglife

by Valerie | 10.09.17 | Around our home, For Funsies, Garden, Holidaze, Marvelous Maddy | No Comments »

weekend haps

ummm...

Maddy’s antics never cease to amuse us (and, let’s be honest, sometimes drive us crazy); the image above is of one of her rubber squeaker toys which she’s dropped into the toilet all by herself – we fished it out and properly cleaned it off…but it did give us a good laugh! She’s got that “Border Collie stare” down pat and her curly tail is the cutest. We enjoyed a relaxing weekend at home with Maddy, lots of long walks in our neighborhood (the crisp, fall temps we had were much appreciated!), and we made this Blue Apron meal and used up about half of our garden basil to put together a quick pesto sauce for a pasta dinner Sunday evening.

there was a little girl with a little curl...

by Valerie | 10.02.17 | Around our home, For Funsies, Marvelous Maddy, Recipes | No Comments »

Adventures in salsa making…

adventures in home canning, starring homegrown tomatoes & peppers

It seems our garden is really set up to make sauces and hot sauce more than anything else. Rather than just using our serrano peppers for hot sauce again (which we still may do) we decided to mix them with our tomatoes for a nice salsa that can be quick canned for preserving in the fridge or freezer.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 red onion (roasted on grill and diced)
  • mix of roma and heirloom tomatoes, about 14 heirloom and 8 roma
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (+ some to coat the onions and tomatoes)
  • 3 cloves of garlic pressed into a paste
  • lots of serrano peppers minced (we lost count at 12, there may be more)
  • cilantro to your taste (we used about a 1/2 cup loosely packed then finely chopped)
  • 1 cup + 1 tbsp of distilled white vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Prep:

On a grill roast the tomatoes and onions. Remove from grill and let cool. Small dice the onion. Core the tomatoes and put into a blender or food processor and puree (ours produced just over 4 cups of tomato sauce). Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add the garlic and peppers and sauté for a few minutes (3-4). Add the onions and continue to sauté for a couple more minutes (2-3). Add the tomato sauce and vinegar and bring to a boil. Once boiling reduce the heat to low and let simmer for about 10-15 minutes or until the sauce starts to thicken a bit. Add the cilantro and salt and pepper to your taste.

This recipe is not safe tested for real canning, we’re not certain about whether or not there is enough acid to keep it on a shelf for long term. That said, there should be enough vinegar for long term freezing and making it shelf stable in your fridge for a while.

Also pictured above, we pickled our garden jalapeños using this recipe.

fire roasted garden tomatoes

by Ryan | 08.20.17 | Garden, Recipes | No Comments »

“Best Sauce Ever” – hatch green chile + poblano sauce

"Best Sauce Ever" - hatch green chile + poblano sauce We grew our own poblano chile peppers this summer; now that it’s getting to be late August and the weather will soon turn, we’re harvesting a lot of ripe peppers, tomatoes, etc. and figuring out what to do with all our garden goodies. With us both coming from Texas, we are fans of spicy food and Hatch chiles hold a special place in Ryan’s heart as it wasn’t too far from his hometown and an often used and enjoyed ingredient in home cooking. When he recently saw fresh Hatch chiles in our local grocery store, he was sure to pick up a bag and decided they would pair well with our homegrown poblano chiles for a nice, spicy sauce.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tomatillos
  • 4 poblano chiles
  • 6-8 Hatch green chiles
  • 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced to a paste or pressed in a garlic press
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt

Prep:

Roast tomatillos on the grill. Roast peppers on the grill, over medium heat, until skins are browned and start to come loose from peppers; remove from heat, place in container, and cover to steam. Once cooled, remove pepper tops, deseed, and remove skins leaving you with only the flesh of the peppers. Put all ingredients in a food processor and purée.

After putting this together and tasting it, Ryan called it the “best sauce ever”; it’s fresh, and spicy, and if you’re not afraid of some heat give it a try for yourself!

Untitled

by Valerie | 08.20.17 | Garden, Recipes | 1 Comment »

peachy keen

peaches

It’s peach season in Michigan and there is an abundant supply of juicy, ripe fruit available at our local farmer’s markets – or if you’re lucky enough to have a friend who has peach trees and is willing to share, from friends too! We were inspired by our friend Jennifer, who recently made and shared a beautiful peach crisp photo, and our friend Laura, who generously gave us a bag of peaches from her yard, to make our own peach crisp and it did not disappoint; we used this recipe as a guide (thank you, Jennifer!) and Ryan did a bit of tweaking using what we had available in our pantry (we added oats and cinnamon and left out the garam masala).

While we aren’t growing our own peaches, we are growing our own tomatoes, zucchini, strawberries, peppers, and herbs this summer and our tomato plants are producing some beautiful fruit; just look at this heaping bowl of tomato (there’s a zucchini hiding in there too) goodness! As our ripe tomato count is rising, we’re considering what do with them all…pasta sauce, salsa, etc. I couldn’t resist snapping a quick photo of them all piled up in this beautiful bowl by Abigail Murray Studio on top of this tea towel by MirDinara.

garden goodies #grewitmyself

We also took some time this weekend to use the laser cutter at Maker Works to make a custom-etched dog tag for Maddy; what we ended up with was 100 times better than what we were able to get from the machine at the pet store too. DIY for the win!

custom, laser-etched dog tag @makerworks_a2

by Valerie | 08.14.17 | Around our home, For Funsies, Garden, Marvelous Maddy, Recipes | No Comments »

weekend haps

Sunday morning stroll

Our garden is producing peppers like crazy now and our tomatoes are doing pretty well too; I picked another zucchini and a decent-sized poblano pepper yesterday! We had a fun weekend catching up on past Game of Thrones episodes for this season, visiting with friends, and we had a relaxing Sunday filled with a nice walk in a local park followed by some dog park fun with Maddy, then lunch at a local place that was new to us, and a visit to our local Humane Society to drop off some donations. The weather cooled off this past weekend and it was beautiful weather to be outside in! Cooler temps are already making me think of fall and I’m getting excited at the thought of having our first fireplace fire, fresh apple cider, and the changing leaves.

garden goodies #grewitmyself

by Valerie | 08.07.17 | Around town, For Funsies, Garden, Marvelous Maddy | No Comments »

summer fun

summer colors

Ryan and I recently spent a day enjoying lots of summer things – cold beers on a warm, sunny patio, stopping in our local ice cream parlor, enjoying those beautiful, blue summer skies, etc. And our garden is starting to produce a good amount of fresh produce for us as well now; we’ve picked a whole bowl full of jalapeños and serrano peppers, 6 ripe tomatoes, 1 zucchini, and a whole lot of fresh herbs. Amazingly, the summer is already almost gone and suddenly it’s August! Where has the summer gone? Maddy seems surprised too…

garden goodies

say what?!?

by Valerie | 08.02.17 | Around our home, Around town, For Funsies, Garden, Marvelous Maddy | No Comments »

summer solstice

rosé on a summer day - happy summer solstice!

Last Wednesday, June 21st, was the summer solstice; I enjoyed the sunshine and those long hours of daylight with a delicious glass of rosé – pictured above is the view out my kitchen window in the late afternoon on the solstice. Thanks to the sunshine, our garden is doing well this summer; while our pepper plants haven’t grown much yet, most of our tomatoes and all of our herbs are flourishing. I cut some things from our garden to make this pretty arrangement below on Saturday: hosta leaves, Japanese painted fern, coleus, and green and purple basil.

hosta, painted fern, coleus, green & purple basil - all from our garden

We’re having lots of fun with Maddy too; the training we’ve been doing with her (look at this!) and many trips to the park to throw the frisbee have been fun for us all! She works hard and plays hard, but she knows to relax as well (puppy dreams). We are one happy family!

z's

family photo +=

by Valerie | 06.26.17 | Around our home, For Funsies, Garden, Marvelous Maddy | No Comments »

peonies and puppies

Nichols Arboretum Peony Garden

It’s peony season here in Ann Arbor and the Peony Garden at Nichols Arboretum is quite the sight to see…absolutely gorgeous! I’ve taken a stroll through there twice now in the past week (where we met this sweet little pup) and I can’t get enough of it – the variety of peonies is impressive and the smell is heavenly; here are some photos and videos I captured of the gardens last week; they also have some lovely Dogwood, Rhododendron, and Azalea, etc. Our own peony in our garden at home is blooming now too. I’m here to pet all the puppies and smell all the flowers!

We enjoyed some delightful patio time at Wolverine on Friday afternoon and at Beer Grotto (where we met this sweet little pup) on Saturday, stopped by the Mini Maker Faire, and are having so much fun with our little imp of a puppy, Maddy!

afternoon at the Arb

Maddy

by Valerie | 06.05.17 | Around town, For Funsies, Garden, Marvelous Maddy | No Comments »

Mother’s Day weekend

Happy Mother's Day

Pictured above are my mom (left) and Ryan’s mom (right, with Ryan); much love to our moms and all those who are mothers! We enjoyed a beautiful Mother’s Day weekend here in A2; sunshine and lovely weather had us out on our patio Friday night grilling hamburgers, we headed to see the Cranbrook Degree Show on Saturday and stopped at Griffin Claw Brewing Company for lunch and a beer (making it my 25th Michigan brewery visited), then took a stroll around the Matthaei Botanical Gardens where we saw an adorable family of geese, and ended our day with dinner at a friends’ home where I brought some fresh-cut white lilacs (from our yard), peonies, and a bottle of rosé to enjoy, and on Sunday we had a delicious brunch out, followed by purchasing and planting our summer garden. We’re growing many of our usual favorites in our garden this year, a variety of hot peppers (ghost pepper, poblano, mucho nacho jalapeño, and serrano), tomatoes (green zebra, Cherokee purple, Mr. Stripey, better boy, and roma), herbs (basil, chives, orange mint, oregano, and thyme), and flowers (Julia Child roses, XXL Hidalgo dahlia), but are growing some new things this year too – broccolini, zucchini, and Flashy Trout’s Back Lettuce. Happy gardening!

“May I a small house and large garden have;
And a few friends,
And many books, both true.”
― Abraham Cowley

Griffin Claw Brewing Co

mid-May patio perfection; peonies + white lilacs (from my yard) & rosé

2017 summer garden

2017 summer garden

by Valerie | 05.15.17 | Around our home, For Funsies, Garden, Holidaze | No Comments »

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