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What We’ve Got Here, is Failure to Communicate

May 16, 2011

 “Communication is everything.” We’ve heard this so many times before, and have witnessed it on all levels large and small. If you work in a corporate office (or any kind of work environment, for that matter,) chances are you experience miscommunication on a daily basis. Emails and text messages are perfect examples of just how important communication is, and why it’s so easy to misinterpret what someone is trying to say. So many things can be misunderstood in an email or text, partly because you cannot read tone of voice, emphasis, or any kind of warmth or feeling, and partly because we are encouraged to communicate like robots to be careful we don’t offend anyone or misspeak.

Even outside the workplace, some of our biggest problems in life occur from simple miscommunications. A fight can break out between two perfect strangers; a relationship that has gone on for years can be compromised; wars can erupt between countries – oftentimes, it is lack of communication that sparks all of these instances. Isn’t it ironic, considering we have countless ways to communicate with each other? Sometimes it seems that the more methods of communication we create, the worse off we are. It makes me wonder if maybe we should take a step back every once in a while and simplify how we communicate. While we sit at our computers, or go about our day-to-day lives, with all of our tools, big words, and fancy ideas, we should take a minute to think about the world that is going on around us that many of us don’t even notice. Maybe we can take a cue from nature. Take, for instance, this little interaction below:

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Ten DIY Steps for Building a Beautiful Vegetable Garden

May 13, 2011

Recently I posted about ways to make the most of your plot of land, along with the pic of our DIY vegetable garden. Here is the DIY info on how you can build something similar:

Materials: shovel, pick axe, rocks for the border, soil, (see note in directions), pebbles, stepping stones, some type of weed-barrier cloth.

Directions

Step 1: Plot out the area of how big you want your raised beds to be. We wanted three beds, all around the same size as a standard raised box bed. Make sure when mapping out the size and place for your garden, you give yourself a little room to move around it and have access to all your plants easily. Mark out the area with a spray paint, or rocks, like we did here.

mapping out your garden space

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Look Ma, no stove! No-cook, yummy recipes for Spring and Summer…

May 9, 2011

Ingredients for a delicious bruschetta

Simple Recipe #1: Bruschetta

This recipe is awesome, a) because it’s super easy and doesn’t require many ingredients, and b) because you don’t need to turn on a stove, preheat an oven or fire up a grill. You can make a big batch of it all at once for a party, and serve it in a bowl with a side of bread for guests to assemble. This recipe feeds about 6 average sized adults, or 12 pairs of Olsen twins.

Ingredients

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Happy Mother’s Day! A Poem, by Tina Fey

May 8, 2011

I just finished reading Tina Fey‘s book, “Bossypants,” (hilarious, btw), and in honor of Mother’s Day please enjoy this poem she wrote for her daughter…

The Mother’s Prayer for Its Daughter

By Tina Fey

First, Lord: No tattoos. May neither Chinese symbol for truth nor Winnie-the-Pooh holding the FSU logo stain her tender haunches.

May she be Beautiful but not Damaged, for it’s the Damage that draws the creepy soccer coach’s eye, not the Beauty.

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MARACA & SOMBRERO CAKE POPS!

May 5, 2011

In honor of Cinco De Mayo this week….MARACA & SOMBRERO CAKE POPS!!!

Or, as my co-workers affectionately referred to them when I proudly stepped off the elevator with them this morning: nipples and penises. (*Sigh*). Oh well…while the maracas may need some work, and they were nothing like my angry birds cake pops, we all agreed that I made some pretty damn good sombreros! And thank you, Bakerella, for ruining me – you weren’t kidding when you said that cake pops were addicting to make!

Scroll down for directions if you want to attempt these guys…or just check out the post, have a margarita and enjoy the day. Happy Cindo de Mayo!

You will need:

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Happy Cinco Week!

May 3, 2011

Cinco de Mayo definition (according to Wikipedia): A holiday held on May 5 that commemorates the Mexican army‘s unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín.

Celebratory Translation: It’s time to cook with tequila, bitches.

In honor of Cinco de Mayo week, here is a recipe for a yummy tequila lime dish that is light, flavorful and easy to make. You can use shrimp, mahi fillets or any other type of fish, or for a vegetarian version, use hearty portobello mushrooms. For this recipe, I used salmon and tuna. So, without further ado…

Tequila Lime Recipe

1/2 cup lime juice*

1/4 cup tequila

2 cloves minced garlic

1/2 tbsp tobasco

1/4 cup chopped cilantro (grow your own in an herb garden)

1/2 cup olive oil

Fish or portabello mushrooms (your choice).

*If you are using fresh-squeezed limes, don’t waste them when you are done squeezing. Instead, cut them up into slices and throw them in a margarita or pitcher of water.

Directions

With the exception of the fish and/or mushrooms, combine all ingredients into a blender or food processer and pulse until it is mixed well. This is your marinade.

Once you have it mixed, place your fish or mushrooms in a ziplock bag. Now, pour in almost all of your marinade (you want to save about a 1/2 cup on the side so you can heat and pour it over the dish before you serve.) Let marinate anywhere between a half hour and an hour, turning the bag occasionally.

While that is marinating, get your grill ready. Check your email, make a margarita, twiddle your thumbs and wait. Or, whip up a quick veggie  side dish:

Quick veggie side dish

2 large zucchini, (1 green and 1 yellow)

1 large sweet onion, cut into chunks

1 pkg mushrooms (optional)

some Italian seasoning, or any kind of fresh seasoning

s&p

a shake of crushed red pepper

a drizzle of olive oil

Toss this around in a big bowl. You can either grill this side by side next to your tequila lime dish, or you can saute this in a skillet on the stovetop.

As another side dish, try some yummy yummu guac.

Okay, back to the tequila lime.

Now that your protein has marinated, it’s time to grill. (Remember, fish cooks really quickly so be careful not to over do it.)

Once your fish is ready, heat up the extra marinade that you set aside for about 30 seconds in the microwave, and pour it over the top. Serve with the side of veggies, and enjoy!

For more quick and easy recipes involving tequila, check these out:

http://vegetarian.about.com/od/vegetarianbarbecuerecipes/r/tequilamushroom.htm

http://fatfreevegan.com/blog/2010/03/11/vegan-lasagna-without-tofu/

http://mom.tipjunkie.com/tequila-lime-chicken-mothers-day-recipe

Also, for a simple and delicious margarita recipe, check out Mrs. Cummings Rx blog: http://mrscummingsrx.wordpress.com/2010/10/11/margarita-up/

Happy Cinco week!

Backyard DIY Makeover: Seeing the Big Picture in a Small Space

May 2, 2011

We’ve all heard it a million times from people who are looking for a house, and maybe we’ve even uttered these words to a realtor ourselves: “We want lots of property. At least an acre.” Now, I could understand the need for a large piece of land in certain circumstances. Maybe you are an avid gardener or farmer who enjoys having your hands in the dirt. Maybe you hate gardening, but have lots of money to spend on landscaping and plan on admiring your large, lush backyard from your veranda while sipping on Dom Perignon. Maybe you are Angelina and Brad and have forty-two wordly children that will be running around the yard. Or maybe you one day hope to host the Royal Wedding and you, being the gracious hostess that you are,  just want to make sure you have enough space to accommodate everyone. If any of the above applies, then by all means, go ahead and splurge on that extra acre or two. But if you find your dream home in your dream neighborhood and don’t plan on starting a farm commune, then don’t let a more modest piece of property be the deal-breaker for you. Beautiful, awesome designs can be done in small spaces, and more often than not, the smaller spaces tend to be the most kick-ass ones anyway. Just ask Michael Nester. Michael, our Broker/Realtor with Dickens-Mitchener & Associates, sees this all the time. “People always want more acreage than they can afford!” Of course, financially, this is usually the case. But we should also think about the physical spending we will need to put into a large outdoor space, as well as the mental cost – the thinking, planning, weeding, etc. Aren’t we already pretty much spent?

Don’t get me wrong – good friends of ours have a home that sits on 3 acres of property because they like a lot of land, and the husband mows it all himself. Why, asked my husband, would he ever want to do that? His answer: “Because it’s MY time. My three hours of peace and quiet, where I grab a few beers and just sit there on my mower, and I don’t have to listen to anyone. Plus, it’s the only time I can legally drink and drive.” I don’t know if that’s actually legal. But fair enough.

Our house does not sit on acres of land. We have a smaller-size backyard that we share with about 14,000 rabbits (by the time I finish writing this post there will probably be 14,235.)  I started a small vegetable garden last year, and enjoyed it so much that I planted more this year. But the traditional wooden raised box bed pushed off to the side of the yard wasn’t too inspiring, and I wanted to create a garden area that was as appealing as the food that came out of it. I also realized that I didn’t have to keep the garden confined to the far end of the yard. If it’s something I love, and knew I’d be spending lots of time in, why not bring it out into yard a bit more? Once we thought of cutting into the yard to put something useable, such as this garden, the idea clicked for us. Besides, this meant less grass to maintain, and my husband hates grass – you’re talking about someone who jokes about filling the backyard with green cement, just so he doesn’t have to think about grass anymore (and anyone who knows him knows that he has actually seriously considered this!) So, it was time to take on our DIY project.

We went from this….

To this!

 

Here’s a view of the garden at night:

 

We absolutely love this garden! We did this in a full day’s work, and the rocks were courtesy of Peaceful Ponds. A DIY post will be coming shortly…in the meantime, what kind of space are you working with at your place, and how have you made it your own?

I talked about the smaller-space concept in another post in the form of turning a standard-size closet into an office space, and the same thing applies for outdoor living. When you have limits to work within, you force yourself to utilize every little bit of space. This, in turn, leads to resourcefulness and lots of creativity (yes, even for you!) After all, the main goal in having property is being able to enjoy it, right? And in order to enjoy it you have to be able to feel good about it and get a sense of accomplishment from it. If you work full time and don’t plan on spending all your free time on maintenance for your large yard, you will quickly become overwhelmed, and pretty soon you’ll be keeping your blinds closed so that you don’t have to accidentally catch the unsightly view of your overgrown lawn and neglected shrubs. You’ll wind up becoming disheartened instead of inspired. So, no matter what size your property is, think of how you like to spend your time outdoors and get to work on a project that best suits you. There are lots of great DIY ideas you can pull off in minimal time that are unbelievably inexpensive. For example, if you like hanging out by the fire, build a small firepit. Always wanted a vegetable garden? Rather than a boring wooden box garden, make a few free-form raised beds instead. The goal is to figure out what you like to do and literally bring it to your own backyard.

And PS – If you are perfectly happy reading this while drinking your fancy champagne from your large veranda and admiring your acres of well-manicured lawn, then good for you. Whatever makes you happy. If you need me, you can find me drinking cheap wine amongst my pepper plants, admiring my new space.

PPS – If you like the lanterns, you can find them at Z Gallerie <—click the link!

*For more ideas on making the most out of a smaller outdoor space, check out:

http://www.plant-care.com/1613-small-yard-landscaping.html

http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/photos/0,,20479132_20933085,00.html

http://yardandgardenrescue.com/how-to-maximize-a-small-outdoor-space/

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