Friday, April 21, 2017

Spring Planter


Here's my front porch planter that I planted on Easter Sunday. Starting at the front and going clockwise, the plants are: Super Elfin White XP impatiens, Bellinto fuchsia, 'Fishnet Stockings' coleus and asparagus fern. In the center is 'Gay's Delight' coleus.

Below is a close-up of the fuchsia with its dramatic red and white flowers, which I am hoping will attract hummingbirds to the feeder above.



Check out my previous years' planters here:  2016 / 2015 / 2014 / 2013 / 2012 / 2011

A larger, 'Dipt in Wine' coleus caught my eye at the garden shop. I planted it in this orange pot and included a couple of extra white impatiens with it.


We bought a new hummingbird feeder for the back of the house, and a suction cup hanger to put on the guest bedroom window. I hope we get some hummingbirds to visit it this summer so we can see them up close. Just inside this window is a twin bed that the dogs like to sleep on during the day. Henry enjoys looking out the window into the back yard. If hummers do come to visit the feeder, I can only imagine what Henry will think of the little birds hovering just on the other side of the window.


Sunday, April 16, 2017

Spinach-mushroom Quiche


Happy Easter! What a joyful day it is. My husband and I attended Easter Vigil Mass last night. During the nearly three-hour service, 20 men and women were confirmed into the Catholic church. Two women were also baptized, which was a lovely thing to witness. My husband was confirmed into the Catholic church three years ago. Last night was the first Easter vigil service we've attended since then. A previous neighbor of ours -- a young woman in her 20s -- was confirmed last night. It was so nice to witness this significant moment in her life.

Today, Paul and I are celebrating Easter quietly at home. I made a quiche this morning, which I'm sharing the recipe for below. I used another recipe as the basis for it, but improvised. With the quiche we had a simple green salad, and enjoyed brunch on the front porch, savoring today's gorgeous weather: upper 60s and sunny with a slight breeze -- perfection!

This afternoon, I am going to work on my front porch planter. I bought the shade-tolerant plants yesterday and had fun choosing this year's mix. I'll post some photos soon. Later, I'll do a bit of reading, then I plan to make a new type of frozen pop. If it turns out well, I'll post the recipe, which I came across as I was going through previous issues of Living.

Here is my recipe for spinach-mushroom quiche. Paul said it's the best quiche I've made so far, which was such a nice compliment! I must say it was pretty awesome.

Spinach-mushroom Quiche

Ingredients:
1 frozen pie crust (I use a gluten-free crust from Whole Foods)
10 oz. package frozen chopped spinach
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 medium onion, chopped
8 oz. white mushrooms, sliced
1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
4 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
freshly ground pepper
nutmeg

Directions:
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Thaw the spinach. I use this quick-thaw method: In a colander, run cold water over spinach until thawed. Press spinach firmly against sides of colander to remove as much excess water as possible. Set aside.

2) In a skillet, heat vegetable oil (I use avocado oil). Saute the onions until softened. Add the sliced mushrooms and cook until the liquid begins to evaporate. Set aside.

3) In a medium bowl, whisk eggs with milk, salt, pepper and a pinch of nutmeg.

4) Set the pie crust on a baking sheet. Distribute the spinach and parsley evenly across the bottom of the crust. Top with the cooked onions and mushrooms, spreading evenly over the spinach. Sprinkle the Gruyere cheese evenly over the vegetables. Pour the egg mixture into the crust. 

5) Bake 50 to 55 minutes until center is just set and top is browned. Remove from oven and let sit 10 to 15 minutes before serving. Or let cool to room temperature, cover and refrigerate up to 1 day. Reheat in 350 degree oven until warm in center, 30 to 45 minutes. 

Bon apetite! Thank you for visiting My Little Bungalow. Have a blessed Easter.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Book Recommendations

One of my goals this year is to read more. I'm happy to say I've been doing well so far. I recently finished America's First Daughter: A Novel by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie, as well as A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. 

I loved America's First Daughter, which falls under the genre of historical fiction -- probably my favorite genre. I also enjoyed A Man Called Ove, but I have to admit I liked the movie much more. It followed the book very closely, and the acting was great. My husband enjoyed the movie, too.

Since finishing those books, I've read A Walk Across the Sun by Corban Addison, which is about two teenage sisters in India who lose their family and their home to a tsunami, only to be kidnapped and sold into slavery. It's a very compelling story, and an easy read. The subject matter is difficult and disturbing, though. It's horrifying to realize how prolific human trafficking is around the world. Absolutely awful. At the end of the novel, Addison gives the names of some groups that work to help girls and young women who've been victims of the slave trade, with the hope that readers will support these groups with donations.

I'm now reading The Only Street in Paris: Life on the rue des Martyrs by Elaine Sciolino. It's a work of non-fiction, and being a lover of Paris, I'm enjoying it. I learned about this book from my blogging friend, Libby, of An Eye for Detail.


I'm always interested in what others have enjoyed reading, so please, leave a comment below and let me know what books you've read lately that you would recommend!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Vegan Fudge Pops


I first made these fudge pops a year or two ago. They're delicious and dairy-free! Their creaminess comes from avocado. They're very easy to make -- just six ingredients and three steps. All you need is a blender and Popsicle molds. Why not whip up a batch today and indulge as the weather begins to warm up. I hope you're having a happy spring!
 
Vegan Fudge Pops

Ingredients:
1 large, ripe avocado (about 1 cup flesh)
1-1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Directions:
1) Cut avocado in half. Remove pit. Scoop out flesh. 
2) Combine all ingredients in a blender container. Blend until smooth. 
3) Pour mixture into 8 ice pop molds. If you have any leftover mixture, enjoy as is. It's like pudding! 
4) Freeze pops for at least 8 hours.


Monday, March 20, 2017

Vegetarian Stuffed Poblano Peppers


Here's a tasty, easy-to-prepare stuffed poblano pepper recipe that is vegetarian and gluten-free. The recipe calls for using four large poblanos, but when I've used that many all the peppers don't fit in one pan. So I reduced the recipe to three large peppers -- and still needed a second, smaller pan!



Stuffed Poblano Peppers

Ingredients:
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes in puree
1 jalapeno (ribs and seeds removed for less heat), minced
1 medium or large yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic (2 whole, 1 minced)
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1-1/4 cup shredded pepper Jack cheese
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3 large poblano peppers, halved lengthwise with stems left intact, ribs and seeds removed

Directions:
1) Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. In a blender, combine tomatoes in puree, jalapeno, half the onions and 2 whole cloves of garlic. Puree. Season with salt. Pour sauce into a 9" x 13" baking dish and set aside.

2) In a medium bowl, combine black beans, cornmeal, 1/2 cup cheese, the remaining onion, the minced garlic clove, cumin and 1/2 cup water (note: the recipe calls for 3/4 cup water, but I found less water produced better results). Season with salt and pepper. 

3) Dividing evenly, stuff the poblano halves with bean mixture and place on top of sauce in baking dish. Sprinkle poblanos with remaining cheese. Cover baking dish tightly with aluminum foil. Bake until poblanos are tender, about 45 minutes. Uncover and bake another 10 to 15 minutes, or until sauce thickens slightly and cheese is browned. Let cool 10 minutes and serve. Bon appetit!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Two New (Very Different) Pieces of Art

A few weekends ago, my husband and I ran some errands downtown -- he needed to buy some guitar strings at a guitar shop, then we grabbed coffee and a pastry at an excellent bakery (alas, I have to take Paul's word that this bakery has the best pastries since I can't indulge in baked goods). On our way back to the car, we popped into an art gallery for a look around.

There on the wall was a piece of art that caught our attention. We've admired this artist's work before. In fact, we almost purchased one of his paintings about a year ago; now I'm glad we didn't because I like this painting even more. Entitled '57 Buick, it is a mixed media piece with an epoxy coating, which gives it a very shiny finish. The detail is exquisite. The artist describes it as pop art in a realist style. Both Paul and I love classic cars, so the subject appealed to us right off the bat. We hung it in the living room between the dining room French doors and the hallway.


In the close-up below. the reflection on the left side of the painting is from the window behind me when I took the photo. I love how the artist captured so much detail, including reflections in the chrome fender. This painting is from a photograph and in the reflection you can see the image of the photographer, just above the tail pipe.


The other piece of art we added to our home is the complete opposite of the piece above, and it has an interesting story. We were in an upscale antiques store one Saturday -- most of the art was way out of our price range -- when we spied an old photo in an old oak frame. We asked to take a closer look and that's when the shop owner told us that the photo was likely taken by a famous photographer, but he couldn't prove it because the work wasn't signed. The photo was a landscape, and wasn't very attractive in our opinion, plus there was a discoloration right down the center of it that bothered us. Paul and I loved the frame, however, and the antiques dealer was willing to separate the two. We paid $40 for the frame, and he kept the photo.


Then we had to find something to go in the frame. The dealer has drawer after drawer and book after book full of old etchings, prints and drawings in various styles and subject matters. After about an hour of flipping through numerous binders of artwork, we landed on the piece above, a monotype by A.H. Bicknell (1837-1915). The "A.H." stands for Albion Harris. You can learn a little about him here

The print wasn't in good condition with its lower right corner missing, which you can see above, so the dealer lowered his price to $20. We took the print and the frame to our local framer, and for $25 he mounted the print to some mat board and put a new back on the frame. We hung this piece in our hallway, which doesn't have picture molding so a nail had to be used. It's always a bit scary putting a nail into a plaster wall, but thankfully it went smoothly.

So these are our two new -- and very different -- pieces of art. Sometimes I will stop to consider whether the work will blend well with our decor, but usually we buy what we love. We prefer a more eclectic look anyway.
 

Do you choose artwork based on the decorating style in your home and what will "go" best with your color scheme? Or do you buy what you love?

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Spinach-artichoke Dip


I'm late posting this. I meant to share it prior to the Super Bowl as a game day snack. But as I mentioned in my last post, the week leading up to the game was a busy one and left me with no time to put together a food post. 

I ended up making this spinach-artichoke dip on Super Bowl Sunday and we enjoyed it while watching the pre-game show. Then we had vegetarian tacos for dinner during the game. I will be posting about the veggie "ground beef" product I recently discovered. It's very good and will very likely become a staple in our freezer.  


Spinach-artichoke Dip

Ingredients:
1 can (14 oz.) artichoke hearts, quartered, in water, rinsed and drained
4 oz. reduced-fact cream cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 small clove of garlic, chopped (be sure to use a small clove, otherwise the dip will be too garlicky)
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 scallions, white and light green parts only, sliced
1 package (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

Directions:
1) Place half the artichokes in a food processor; add cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, garlic, cayenne pepper and 3 tablespoons water. Process until smooth.

2) Add scallions, remaining artichokes, spinach and a few pinches of coarse salt. Pulse briefly. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve with fresh veggies, potato chips and tortilla chips. To store, cover and refrigerate up to 2 days.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

What I'm Reading

Hello, there. I had the best of intentions last week to share a new recipe for spinach-artichoke dip pre-Super Bowl, but work was brutal last week and I didn't have the energy or time to create a new food post. 

So instead, I'll share with you a couple of books I'm reading. One of my 2017 goals is to read more. This can be a challenging goal for me because reading in the afternoon or evening typically puts me to sleep. Reading in the morning doesn't (except for the fact that my eyes can't focus yet!), but only the weekends are conducive for morning reading and even then, I have too many things on my to-do list to lounge around reading.

I frequently borrow books from the library, so there's the pressure to finish a book by the due date. One of the books I'm currently reading, America's First Daughter, is a popular best seller and I had to put my name on the waiting list for it. This also means I cannot renew it. I figure if I read about 40 pages each night, I should finish it by the due date. 

Only recently have I come to the realization that my favorite genre is historical fiction. America's First Daughter is about Martha "Patsy" Jefferson and the relationship with her father, Thomas Jefferson. During his lifetime, Jefferson wrote more than 18,000 letters -- that's hard to imagine! Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie, the authors of the novel, framed the story through these letters.    


Other works of historical fiction I've enjoyed reading include All the Light We Cannot See, Year of Wonders and Girl with a Pearl Earring. What type of book do you most enjoy reading?

For my birthday in January, a friend gave me a copy of A Man Called Ove written by Swedish author Fredrik Backman. I started reading it, but put it on hold when America's First Daughter came available through the library. It's the story of a grumpy man who lives a life of routine until some new neighbors move in. I'm only in the beginning of the book, and will get back to it once I've finished the other. I just learned it was made into a movie that is up for an Academy award for best foreign language film (clearly I don't keep up with popular culture). I watched the trailer and it looks great. I suspect there are nuances to the characters that come across better on screen than in the pages of the book. Usually I prefer the book over the movie version of a story, but every now and then I find the opposite to be true. I've added it to my Netflix queue. 


Speaking of films, have you seen Fences? My husband and I were blown away by it. Denzel Washington and Viola Davis gave amazing performances, and I am pulling for them to win Oscars. The supporting cast was fantastic too, and the way it was filmed ... I could go on and on. I'm glad the movie has received many nominations.

Another movie I hope to see in the theater is La La Land. I am a fan of both Ryan Gosling (what a cutie!) and Emma Stone. The film looks like fun.

Have you read any great books or seen any great movies lately you'd like to recommend? I love hearing why people like (or don't like) a work of art, so feel free to share your suggestions here.

Enjoy your weekend, and thanks for visiting My Little Bungalow!
   
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