Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Stumpy the Gecko

Here is one of the little, somewhat transparent geckos that live around my front door. They hunt bugs that are attracted to my outside light. We noticed one was tail-less a couple of weeks ago and now it looks like that tail is starting to grow back! Too cool! His little tail kind of reminds me of a freaky chicken toe!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Spring is AWESOME!

Here are a few pics that I snapped today while taking my kiddos to the botanical garden. Yea, I wish I could say these were from my garden, but no, mine has a long way to go!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Freeing myself from a burden of CRAP!

Over the past 3 weeks I have made a VERY concerted effort to rid my life of excess CRAP! Old magazines, manuals for TV's and VCR's we had years ago, baby stuff, old clothing, pans I don't use anymore. Whatever I can find that I don't adore is getting the boot!! I've even put my fishtank up for adoption, it will go to its new home tomorrow. They will be happier little fish, I can assure you (even though my son would disagree, he's pretty p.o.'d about the whole thing!). But alas, I have been bogged down in a sea of crap for so long and I will surely drown if I don't get out from under it! I am in such a liquidation mode that on occasion I have even considered selling off my grandmother's antique dining room set. It is beautiful, but it is HUGE and a giganto pain in the ass. But as much as I'd like to have a home sparsely decorated with simple IKEA furniture, I don't have the heart to part with her set. It IS gorgeous and it was the table I had Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners at my entire childhood and now it is the table I have served 3 Christmas dinners of my own on. But I do have to say, the more CRAP I get rid of, the better I feel. It is almost like I can breathe again. There is still a long way to go, but it's getting there. And my new motto for shopping is this: Do I LOVE it? Do I truly NEED it? Do I actually have ROOM for it? If those three criteria are not met, then it's not getting purchased. It should help me keep my life decluttered and possibly help out my checkbook as well!

Budding botanist.

I've always been a critter girl. Hell, in college I was a Biology major with emphasis in Physiology and Zoology. So, in my need to make my home more pleasant, I wanted to attract more critters. You know, a backyard habitat situation. Well, when I lived in Oregon, I didn't have to work at getting things to grow, they just did! But down here in Texas, you just can't do that. It is too damn hot here! But not desert hot, it's humid and hot, so you can't do the cool xeriscaping like they do in NM and AZ. Not to mention the fact that my HOA would FREAK if I ripped out my front lawn and replaced it with cactus and decorative rock! So I have spent the last year trying to figure out what to do with my pitiful suburban hell yard. This house came with 2 trees (both maples) a bunch of burford hollies and a Ligustrum tree and that's it. Now I do love maples, but I love them in Oregon where they don't struggle through summer drought! Mine are sad little trees that long for rainy days and cloudy skies.

I am now in the throes of filling in a tree ring and I just ripped out the ridiculous flower bed I planted to "make do" until I could figure out something better to do. I have now extended it and connected it with the "bed" under the front window. I am hoping to go on a rock hunt soon to find some local limestone to add decorative touches and interest to my sparse little garden until plants can mature. Next projects will include an herb garden to be grown in a galvanized steel horse trough and hopefully a raised bed in the backyard that will grow lovely veggies next summer.

It has recently been determined that digging in the dirt and growing something beautiful makes me happy! Not only that, but learning about the different plants, what is native and drought tolerant, and what attracts butterflies and hummingbirds has been very invigorating! It is taking time, but I think by next summer, I will be so much happier with my outdoor space! And the knowledge that I am gaining and passing along to my son is wonderful. So, here I am...the budding botanist!

Inspiration #1...food!

One thing that I KNOW I'm good at and something that truly makes my heart happy is cooking! I hate the clean-up, but I do love to cook. Nothing is more satisfying than putting an awesome meal on the table watching my family or friends eat and be happy! That being said, I am going to steal this idea from my friend Ginny and let you in on some of my tastier dishes! So let's start with this:

Rigatoni with Steak Sauce (I actually saw this on Giada De Laurentis' show, but I added some touches to make it mine)

You'll need: Olive Oil
2 good quality steaks (I used sirloins as the rib-eye was pricey and really fatty!)
1 onion, 2-3 good sized carrots, and I used a large handful of crimini mushrooms (steak and shrooms rock!)
4 cloves of garlic, 1 tsp. dry oregano, 3/4 red wine (I used a Cab), 26-oz marinara sauce
1 c. beef broth, 16 oz. Rigatoni, some fresh parmesan cheese and I used some fresh italian parsley.

Get some water boiling in a large pot.
Heat some olive oil in deep pan, salt, pepper and rub crushed garlic on steaks, then cook until brown but still rare (approx. 3 min. per side). Set steak aside to cool. Add more olive oil to the pan and saute onions, carrots and lastly mushrooms until onions are translucent. Add a little salt and pepper to taste. Add garlic and oregano and saute approx. 1 min. Add the wine and simmer for another minute, then add marinara and broth. Cover and simmer about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. In the meantime, add rigatoni to pot and boil until tender but firm, approx. 10 min. Start to trim fat off of steak and slice the steak thin and into bite-size pieces. Once rigatoni is done, toss the rigatoni, steak and any reserved juices from steak into the sauce to coat. Sprinkle with freshly grated parm and top with some fresh parsley.

This makes enough to feed an army, so be prepared for tasty leftovers! YUM!

Monday, May 14, 2007

A little about me.

I'm a 36 year-old stay-at-home mom with two beautiful children (5 and 10 months) and an awesome, but busy hubby. We share our lives with a goofy dog, a grumpy, little tabby cat, and a few fish. We live in suburban hell in a cookie cutter neighborhood, but I am working hard to make my house a peaceful, fun, regenerative home where I can nurture my family. It isn't about the structure or the location, it's all about what happens inside!

I am embarking on a journey of discovery. I know that sounds cliche, but it's true. After the birth of my son five years ago and my subsequent new role of "MOTHER", I have slowly lost touch with what makes me, well ME! So here I go, delving into my heart and soul, looking for what inspires me, what moves me, what I love and what makes ME happy. I am beginning to see that although the majority of my life is caring for others, it's OK to be a little selfish on occasion and be good to myself. And who knows, maybe some of the things that inspire ME might be interesting for you!