April 27, 2013

Sometimes You Just Need a Little Change in Perspective

So I've been working on this project to reorganize and repurpose a few rooms in our home...morphing the home office into a reading and writing library, then the dining room will grow into a dining-art room, and finally a reorganization of the family-sun-play room.

I started the process with the office transformation more than a month ago. But after the initial burst of energy, in which I pulled everything off shelves and out of drawers and began sorting and recycling and whatnot, I stagnated and things just sat there in disarray. The furniture had been moved and repurposed, but all the "stuff" still sat in piles.

Until one day I was playing with my son and sat down in his kid's chair (which I had moved into the library as a part of a reading and listening station for the kids).

Suddenly, I looked up at the desk and shelving unit that takes up one entire wall in the office and saw it all in a completely different way.

And that's what it took. A simple change in perspective and it all became clear...how I wanted to shuffle things around, what I wanted to put where...and the stalemate was thwarted. The reorganization began anew, and now I have a new reading and writing library with space and purpose for the whole family.

And I love it.

So next time your stuck, try a little change in perspective. You might be amazed by the breakthrough.

As for me, well, it's on to that dining-art room...wish me luck!

Until next time, climb up high or lay down low and look around...see what looks different!

P.S. Doesn't sepia tone make everything look just a bit more romantic? ;-)

April 25, 2013

My New Favorite Picture Book

I love this book so much, I just had to share it with you all. This was a recent library find...I was genuinely sad when we had to return it this week. It's Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell. I absolutely adore the illustrations, and the story is lovely and sends an important message...it is both anti-bully and pro-love-yourself-just-as-you-are. I love it...and Portia did too! Kudos to both Patty Lovell and the illustrator, David Catrow (who is from my dad's hometown, Springfield, Ohio)!

Check it out!

And until next time, happy reading.

April 5, 2013

A Sweet Little Summer Salad: Mixed Greens with Strawberries, Sugared Almonds, Feta and Strawberry Poppyseed Dressing

Okay, so I know it's not Summer yet...hell, it's just barely beginning to look like Spring around here...but this is such a tasty little salad that I had to share so you can enjoy it all Spring and Summer long.

Here's the thing with salads, for me: I love a great salad when I'm out at a restaurant, but most of the salads I make at home are just "fine." I think I've finally figured out why. Store-bought salad dressing generally sucks. And every salad should have some sort of toasted or candied nut on it. I think that might be it.

Here's something else I just learned: making incredibly yummy homemade salad dressing is ridiculously easy! I don't think I'm stretching the truth when I say I do not plan to buy bottled salad dressing ever again. I have had three different homemade dressings in the last month and all were both easy and DELICIOUS.

So this little ditty I'm sharing with you today is a fabulous mix of flavors...strawberries + sugared almonds + feta = flavor party in your mouth. Seriously. And it's so simple...though you will have to bust-out the food processor or blender for the dressing. Most dressings you can do with just a bowl and a whisk, but this one has actual pureed strawberries in it. Trust me, it's worth the effort. So, here you go...you can thank me later.

Strawberry Salad with Sugared Almonds (adapted from simplebites.net)
Salad greens (Your choice. I used romaine hearts, but you could do mixed greens or baby spinach)
1 c. sliced strawberries
1/2 c. sliced almonds
2-3 tbsp sugar
Crumbled feta (I used low-fat feta)
Strawberry poppyseed dressing (see below)

To prepare the sugared almonds, heat small nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add sugar and almonds. Cook and stir until nuts are golden and coated with the melted sugar. Spread on foil to cool. (Note: When I served the almonds on the salads, they had "set" in little clumps, so I crumbled the clumps a bit as I sprinkled them on the salads.) Fill bowls with salad greens and top with strawberries, sugared almonds and feta, then drizzle with dressing.

Strawberry Poppyseed Dressing
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground mustard
1/2 c. canola oil
3/4 c. sliced strawberries
3/4 tsp poppyseeds

Place vinegar, sugar, salt and ground mustard in blender and pulse to mix. Slowly drizzle in oil while mixing. Then add sliced strawberries and mix until combined and creamy. Finally, add poppyseeds and mix again to combine. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Enjoy! And, until next time, happy cooking!

(Note: Thanks to simplebites.net for the food photo, since I forgot to take one.)