Thursday, June 30, 2011

Garage Door Love

One of the absolute best decisions I have made for our home improvement, has been this beautiful garage door.  I am in love with it!  Let me explain:

1970s architecture=weird plus utterly lacking in charm.  For a lover of all things stark and modern, this could have been a winner.  However, this is not me (think Cottage Living Magazine lover).  In fact, the last two homes we lived in were dripping in charm.  When we moved to SoCal I was 6 months pregnant and we had 4 days with which to find a shelter.  There was not ONE home I fell in love with that we looked at, but I was desperate to get settled.  I NEVER dreamed we would live here as long as we have...nearly 16 years now!  Previously, we had moved every few years with hubby's job and I very much figured this home would serve us for about 4 years, not 16!

As it turns out, we have wonderful neighbors.  The school district is one of the absolute best in the state (it is also brutal with respect to expectations, homework, achievement, and test scores!).  The house is 20-30 minutes from glorious beaches and any shopping imaginable and sits in between two major cities.  Ahhh suburbia.  I can walk to the grocery store and to the bagel shop or for coffee.

We talk about moving all the time.  But for now, we are here.

Most homes in SoCal feature a garage smack dab in the front of the property, FRONT AND CENTER!  This was hard for me to get used to at first.  The lots are small and unless you are able to purchase a rare vintage home, there are no detached garages to be found. 

I am glad I splurged on this garage door.  It is made of wood with real glass inserts and heavy bronze hardware.  It's probably number 2 on my list of the best improvements to our home (number 1 being the installation of hardwood floors).  Generally I am very frugal with home improvement and I shopped around until I got the absolute best price.  But I am so happy with the door that I would have paid more!

I keep working at finding a balance between the lack of charm on the interior and it's modern architecture, but slowly I am getting there.  I remind myself that I am a working mom without one of those carpenter husbands that keep popping up in blogland!  ;)

If you have made it this far, thanks for reading!  I wonder if anyone else thinks about their home this much (actually I know the answer!)  :)

Have a great day!




Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Zucchini Quiche

I have been meaning to post this recipe for Zucchini Quiche for a while.  I have used many of these amazing organic squashes from my CSA box that I receive each week.

I received this recipe as a very young newlywed in the late 1980s and have saved it all this time.  It is a great recipe!

 Here are the ingredients:
4C thiny cliced unpeeled zucchini
1 onion, chopped
1/2 stick of butter
1/2 C chopped parsley or 2T parsley flakes
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. basil (I have substituted fresh)
1/4 t. oregano
1/2 t. black pepper
2 beaten eggs (I have used egg beaters before)
2C shredded mozzarella
2 9 inch unbaked pie shells
2 t. Dijon mustard
First, cook the zucchini and onion in the butter until tender...




While those are cooking away, spread each pie shell with 1t. of dijon mustard each (hint: it is easiest to just use your fingers for this!)...



Stir in the parsley and seasonings....


Blend the cheese and egs in a bowl...


Pour into pie shells...



Bake at 375 degrees for 18-20 minutes.  Let stand 10 minutes.



VOILA!

The last time I made this, I used a huge Maui sweet onion from the CSA box along with several zucchini.  I have also reduced the fat a little by using egg whites or egg beaters and reducing the amount of butter and cheese, although it really does taste best in it's full fat version (naturally).

Let me know if you decide to make this amazing dish!



Monday, June 27, 2011

Family Room Ideas

I have been looking at my family room for a while thinking it needs a change.  The brown leather sofa, which everyone has loved, has been loved to death.  And our red brick fireplace may need painting (I am actually thinking of simply painting the brick a nice taupe and leaving the beautiful dark mantle in place).  Today I played around a little on polyvore to get an idea of what might work with the existing pieces.  I am thinking a black leather sofa and one of those amazing bergere chairs (to read about my love of these chairs you may look at my post on bergere chairs) plus perhaps a new coffee table.  We already have french doors and a lovely, large mahogany armoire.  Unfortunately, I recarpeted this room not too long ago (maybe 3 years ago?) in an expensive earthy taupe-y-green.  This might kill any longings of aqua inserted into the room.  But if I have the neutrals all in place, I can work with it by using more yellows or greens as accent colors.  I will post a picture of my family room as it looks today soon, but here is a photo of the current sofa.  Any thoughts?   :)
Family Room Ideas
Family Room Ideas by StephBurns on Polyvore.com

linking to http://savvysouthernstyle.blogspot.com/ and http://fadedcharmcottage.blogspot.com/  :)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Hydrangeas and Front Yard Design...

YARD DRAMA!


Hi friends!  I have such mixed feelings about this tree.  Tomorrow it is coming out.  :(  It is at least 30 years old and it's root system is ruining our foundation. 
I love the tree.  It is a giant ficus, with glossy dark green leaves and a very interesting trunk.  We have an up-light set for the evening on it and it is rather dramatic.  But no amount of trimming has stopped it from taking over and my husband is worried about it now....

However, it shades several beautiful hydrangea bushes.  I have a few shots of these lovely flowers below:







In addition to this huge tree issue, our grass in the front yard is just awful.  We have tried fertilizing, re-seeding, replanting, and thatching, but it never looks good. 

And then (GASP) we got a mean letter from our neighborhood association telling us to do something about it.

Honestly, I was offended (insert angry face!).  Our home is one of the more lovely in the neighborhood of about 200 homes and I am constantly working on it when I'm not working professionally (or doing laundry, making dinner, taking care of the family and dog, exercising....).  But I digress....

My sweet friend Julia is a landscape architect.  She drew up some plans for us that have NO GRASS!!!!  :)

I love looking at architectural drawings and renderings....I loved learning the little I know about drafting last year.

Here is a closer look.  We will be replacing the large tree with an Olive.  A Crepe Myrtle will be added toward the front.  The rest is groundcover (rosemary), flowers and shrubs.  There is one empty section that I will need some sort of focal point for (fountain, large pot of flowers, etc).  I am not sure yet.  Any ideas?



Here is the existing yard.  It was just mowed and the grass does not look so bad in the photo, but trust me....  We have a crow friend that likes to hang out smack dab in the middle of this little yard, but I scared him away with the camera.  :)



When the new Olive tree enters the scene, the hydrangeas will be transplanted back to their original locations and I am hoping they make it.  I really have enjoyed them!  If not, I will be hoofing it to the backyard to find somewhere for them to be happy!



June is the best month for these amazing flowers.  If you can grow them where you live, consider it!  They are wonderful.





Linking here and here

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Community Supported Agriculture

If any of you have heard of "CSA," it stands for Community Supported Agriculture.  In recent months, I have become even more "green" and interested in eating more organic, less packaged food.  Getting a CSA box helps support those goals as there is minimal packaging and what packing exists is reused (not recycled) and the produce is farm-fresh and amazing.  Any portions of the produce (outer leaves, etc) that I do not use go into my green compost can.  But perhaps what I love best is that by getting a CSA box I am supporting a local farm.   

Each week I pick up a monster box of produce.  Each week the contents are slightly different and, no, I do not get to choose what goes inside.  :)  However, that is helping with my creativity in the kitchen as well as making sure nothing goes to waste.  It also helps with varying the kinds of foods that we eat each week.  Typically, there are one or two types of lettuces included, organic apples, oranges and/or strawberries, an onion, squash, green beans or beets and sometimes kale.  Always carrots so far, which are *amazing*.  Once, I got a wonderful bunch of basil.  A couple of times I have had a jar of organic strawberry jam included.  SO...it just depends on what is growing and what is harvested.  I have to admit that it is kind of fun peering into the box when I first get it!  :)

  On the top of the box in this photo is swiss chard.  I did not know what the heck to do with it but I found a wonderful recipe and it was absolutely delicious.  Apparently it is one of the healthier veggies out there, as is kale.  All of this has made me a better cook, too (I am a serious baker at heart!).

The farm we are supporting is Tanaka Farms.  If you are in Orange County, CA and are interested in learning more about their program you may click here.  I know that many areas offer similar programs....check them out!  You will be doing something good.  :) 
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