Sunday, May 21, 2017

On the Homefront: Off on Vacation!

From No Bones About It

We are leaving for New Mexico today, so there will be no blog posts this week.  Normal postings will resume next week.  See you when we return, and have a great Memorial Day weekend!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Weekend Wonders: Accessories for Transition to Summer 4x4 Wardrobe

Last week's art-inspired 4x4 wardrobe for warmer weather has a very distinctive color palette, but luckily accessories to suit this collection were not hard to find!  The red and aquamarine/
turquoise blue accessories really make a statement, but the white and grey/silver options allow for a calmer color scheme when needed.  I also think that everything in this wardrobe would be great for any summer travel you might have in mind.

Let's start with the shoes.  I am someone who does not believe in high heels.  I have one pair of low-heeled black shoes that are suitable for dressy occasions - they are decades old but fit so well and are used so seldom that they have lasted forever.  The style is classic and simple, so I doubt that they will ever be inappropriate, thank goodness!  Anyway, the shoes I chose for this wardrobe are all relatively flat but attractive, and hopefully extremely comfortable:

Clockwise from top left: Clarks Gracelin Gemma Slip-On Shoes in Red Leather; Olukai Pehuea Slip-On Shoes in Vivid Blue/VividBlue; Vans Slip-On Shoes in True White; Cole Haan Women's Pinch Leather Weekender Loafers in Grey.

The handbags I chose all coordinate nicely with the corresponding shoes of the same color:

Clockwise from top left: ILI New York Leather Wristlet in Red; Magid Long Crochet Crossbody Bag in Turquoise; Giani Bernini Nappa Leather Hobo Bag in White; Botkier Soho Heavy Grain Pebbled Tote in Smoke/Gunmetal.

And now on to the jewelry!  I selected a lot of silver pieces because most of the tops are pretty colorful, but I had to throw in some turquoise and red options as well, just because I love those colors:

Clockwise from top left: Verdy Jake Navajo Bracelet in Mediterranean Coral and Sterling Silver; Bling Jewelry Elegant Coral Necklace/Bracelet Set; Rio Grande Liquid Assets 10-Strand Liquid Sterling Silver Earrings; Southwest Silver Gallery Adjustable Length Liquid Silver Turquoise Bead Necklace; Ross-Simons Italian Sterling Silver Polished Cuff Bracelet; Ross-Simons Italian Sterling Silver Twist Drop Earrings; Jay King Seven Peaks Turquoise Graduated Bead Sterling Silver 18" Necklace; Rio Grande Liquid Assets 10-Strand Liquid Sterling Silver Necklace.

Finally a few miscellaneous accessories - sunglasses because they are a must in the summer, a beautiful scarf in coordinating colors, a water-resistant jacket because rain does happen even in the summer, and then a protective sun hat in three different colors, just because it was available in the appropriate hues:

Left top to bottom: REI SunCloud Patrol Polarized Women's Sunglasses in Silver Gray; Vintagedame Vintage Silk Scarf in Aqua, Blue,and Red; Free Country Women's Meadow Packable Windbreaker in Shell Grey; Right top to bottom: Sunday Afternoons Beach Hat in Turquoise, White, and Red.


Grey is not normally I color I choose, but I love this wardrobe so much I might be willing to reconsider!  Next week we will be out of town, so there will be no post over the Memorial Day weekend, but posting will resume the following week.  See you when I get back!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Foodie Fridays: Calabacitas Mazatlan

I was in the mood for fish tacos this week, and wanted to make a side dish to serve along with them.  I considered making Calabacitas, a southwestern zucchini and corn dish that I have made in the past, but I also found a recipe in my file box for a corn dish called Quick Corn Mazatlan, which has no zucchini but is made with an easy cream cheese sauce.  Since I had some cream cheese left over from another dish, I decided to combine the two recipes, and ended up with the perfect vegetable side dish for my fish tacos.

This can be customized however you like.  Add hotter peppers if you prefer things spicy, use yellow squash instead of (or in addition to) zucchini, or a regular onion instead of scallions, add different herbs or cheeses, or even add meat if you want to turn this dish into a full meal.  I added frozen corn because I had half a bag in the freezer to use up and I decided that it would add more crunch than the canned variety, but you could substitute fresh corn or a different frozen vegetable (edamame would be nice) or just leave it out.  I am sure the next time I make this recipe a few ingredients will change just based on what I happen to have in the house!

Calabacitas Mazatlan

6-8 oz. cream cheese
1 can (15 oz.) corn (I used unsalted)
1 C. frozen corn, thawed (optional)
1 can (4 oz.) diced green chiles
2 T. butter
1 red bell pepper, diced
3-4 slender zucchini, diced
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 C. shredded cheese (I used a Mexican blend)
1/2 tsp. salt (or to taste)
4-6 scallions, sliced
1 T. minced cilantro (optional)*

Combine the cream cheese with 1/4 C. liquid drained from the canned corn in a small saucepan.  Whisk over medium heat until the cream cheese is melted and smooth.  Remove from the heat and set aside.  Combine the canned and frozen corn with the canned chiles in a large bowl and set aside.

Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the bell pepper and cook for about 5 minutes.  Add the zucchini and cook 5 minutes longer.  Add the garlic and salt and cook one more minute.  Transfer the cooked vegetables to the bowl with the corn mixture and stir to combine.  Mix in the shredded cheese.  Pour in the cream cheese sauce and stir until well combined, then add the green onions and cilantro.  Serve warm.  Serves 6.

*I love cilantro, but if you are not a fan feel free to omit it from the recipe.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

This 'n That Thursdays: August 2017 Total Solar Eclipse

From Astronomy Picture of the Day

This past weekend I got a phone call from one of my brothers asking if he could come stay with us in August when he heads in our direction to view the total solar eclipse.  Naturally my response was "What solar eclipse?" (because I am always so well informed - not!).  After he updated me on this momentous event I told him he was welcome to come as long as I was included in the expedition.  Apparently optimal viewing is less than two hours from where my husband and I live (unfortunately, my husband will be out of the country that day, so he will miss out).  My brother and I searched for a few prime viewing locations that will hopefully not be too crowded, and he is in charge of acquiring the protective glasses (recommended for anyone intending to stare at the eclipsing sun for an extended time without damaging their vision).

The path of the solar eclipse will take it pretty much straight across the continental United States, something which hasn't been seen since 1918!  And here it is happening only a few months hence practically in my backyard!  While I don't consider myself much of an astronomer, even I can get excited about an event like this one.  If you too happen to live in the path of the eclipse, you may want to plan a viewing yourself.  Should you need more information about where and when the eclipse will pass through your vicinity check out this map on the Eclipse 2017 website.

I am really looking forward to seeing this phenomenon, and just hope that the weather will be clear so that we experience the maximum effect (supposedly the skies will darken considerably when the sun is fully concealed by the moon).  The last time I remember hearing about an eclipse in my vicinity I was a small child, and we were told not to look at the sun, so I did not (I can't remember if the day darkened much, as I am not sure if this was a total or partial eclipse).  The next total solar eclipse across the United States will not happen until 2023, and I am getting on in years, so this year is probably my best opportunity to see one and I am not going to miss it!

Phases of a total solar eclipse (from MrEclipse).

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Wish List Wednesdays: Rightside Design Baby Crabs & Beach Waves Table Runner and Place Mats

I was really smitten when I saw this Rightside Design Baby Crabs & Beach Waves Table Runner ($41.06) on Amazon.  Even though the above image is ridiculously long, I had to show the entire length to get the full effect of the design, which evokes the feeling of a walk along the beach - perfect for a summer table setting!  This 100% cotton, embroidered table linen is also available as a place mat ($43.54 each, although I'm not sure why the place mat costs more than the runner!):

These lovely linens almost make even a non-beach lover like me want to visit the coast!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Weekend Wonders: Transition to Summer 4x4 Wardrobe Inspired by Artist Anuk Beluga's Portrait of Barbare Jorjadze

From NPR

Before I even saw the striking mural shown above, I was already planning a 4x4 wardrobe based on a similar color scheme derived from a striped t-shirt I saw on the Duluth Trading Company website:

It was quite a coincidence that the same colors can be found in this painting!  Incidentally, the woman portrayed is Barbare Jorjadze, a 19th-century Georgian princess known as both a cookbook author and early feminist, and I encourage you to read her fascinating story here.

The colors I chose from the shirt are fairly obvious, and all occur in the portrait as well:

So let's get started with the first set of four in this wardrobe:

Clockwise from top left: Duluth Trading Company Wom
en's Short Sleeve Longtail T-Shirt in Aquamarine Stripe; Grattan Longline Cardigan in Grey Marl; Duluth Trading Company Women's Short Sleeve Longtail V-Neck T-Shirt in White; L.L. Bean Women's Slim Perfect Fit Pants in Dark Gray Heather.

The second set of four brings in some of the red as well as more grey:

Clockwise from top left: L.L. Bean Women's Pima Cotton Elbow-Sleeve Scoopneck Tee in Fiery Red; L.L. Bean Women's Signature Linen Cardigan in Orange Red; Duluth Trading Company Women's Longtail Short Sleeve T-Shirt in Gray Heather; L.L. Bean Women's Classic Fit Straight-Leg 1912 Jeans in Washed Gray.

White and an aquamarine/turquoise blue are featured in the third set of four:

Clockwise from top left: L.L. Bean Women's Pima Cotton Three-Quarter-Sleeve Splitneck Tunic in Dark Turquoise; J. Crew Cotton Jackie Cardigan in White; Duluth Trading Company Women's Longtail Short Sleeve V-Neck T-Shirt in Aquamarine; L.L. Bean Women's Side Zip Ankle Pants in White.

The last set of four really bumps up the red, and adds a bit more of the blue:

Clockwise from top left: PapayaSun Women's Sleeveless Hawaiian Shirt in Chili Red; Duluth Trading Company Women's Longtail Tank Top in Aquamarine; Coldwater Creek French Terry Capri Dress in Fresh Red; Coldwater Creek Relaxed Linen Pants in Fresh Red.

Here is the 4x4 wardrobe when all four sets are combined:


I think the color scheme for this wardrobe works well for transitioning into summer, and the mix of tops will cover any temperature swings along the way.  Here in Georgia we have had highs ranging from the upper 50s to almost 90 in the past week, and lows from the low 40s to the mid-60s.  I have definitely worn everything from warm jackets to sleeveless tops recently!  Next week I will add accessories to this 4x4 wardrobe (I'm thinking red shoes plus silver and turquoise jewelry could be in the mix!).

Friday, May 12, 2017

Foodie Fridays: Baked Pesto Chicken

I recently found a recipe called Mr. Right's Baked Pesto Chicken on the Mystery Lovers' Kitchen website and thought it sounded delicious, so I had to give it a try.  This quick and simple dish is based upon the flavors of a Caprese salad, and how can you go wrong with a combination of basil, tomatoes, and cheese?  I especially loved the way the tomato slice on top roasts and gets a crispy cheese crust.  Next time I will layer more than one tomato slice on top!

Be careful not to overbake the chicken or it will dry out.  When I make this again I may put an additional layer of pesto on the top before adding the tomato and Parmesan cheese to keep the top layer moist and to add even more pesto flavor.  Perhaps I will even marinate the chicken in the pesto for about 30 minutes before baking.  I just love finding new ways to cook chicken!

Baked Pesto Chicken

2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
2 T. pesto
2 fresh mozzarella slices
1-2 T. olive oil
1 large tomato, sliced
2 T. grated Parmesan

Pound the chicken breast halves into 1/2-inch thick cutlets, or cut them in half lengthwise to form a pocket.  Spread 1 T. pesto onto one side of the cutlet and top with a mozzarella slice.  Fold the other half of the cutlet over the top.

Lightly oil the bottom of a glass baking dish with the olive oil.  Place the chicken in the baking dish and top each with a tomato slice.  Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over each one.  Bake at 450 degrees for 25-30 minutes until the top is golden and the chicken is cooked through.  Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving, topped with the pan juices.  Serves 2.

Note: Our local Publix sells chicken cutlets made by slicing chicken breast halves in half again lengthwise, so I used those and just stacked the two pieces.  Also, the amounts of pesto, cheeses, and tomato slices are only guidelines, so be as generous with any of them as you like (although too much mozzarella may end up in the bottom of your baking dish instead of staying inside the chicken!).