Monday, May 23, 2016

On Spring Break!

I'm on Spring Break enjoying a road trip out west with the hubby.  Be back June 1st with all new adventure stories to share!  And even though I won't be active on my blog, I will be posting daily pictures of our trip on Instagram.  Follow me HERE.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

A Pretty Little Church Garden and Snippets of My Own Garden

 If you read my fashion posts on Monday's and Friday's you would have seen snippets of this lovely church garden.  My husband and I went to Chicago for the weekend and discovered this sweet little garden behind an old church.

It is a peaceful little garden with stone paths and lots of benches.  Every church should have a garden like this.  What a wonderful place to mediate and pray.  Except, if I went to a church with a garden as lovely as this,  it would be difficult to drag myself inside for the service.

 I love how the blossoms from the flowering crabs littered the path, don't you?

The garden is a low-maintenance mix of flowering trees and shrubs with hardy perennials.

I adore Japanese Maples and wish they were hardy in my zone.

The author of this garden really worked hard to combine interest with flower, texture, and color.

I would love my own yard to look like this someday.  It's mostly a shade garden, as my yard is becoming since the trees are getting so mature.  I will look to this garden for inspiration as I renew and renovate my own garden.

I love this Solomon's Seal.  I think I tried it in my own garden once, but it didn't do well.

This path leads to the back of the garden, where there is a stone patio and benches.

These bright purple/pink azaleas look great with the chartreuse ground cover, the purple foliage of the Coral Bells,  and the Solomon's Seal in the background.

This beautiful white flowering crab apple was right behind the church building.  The contrast of the brick wall with the white blooms in front was breath-taking!

And now for Snippets of my own garden.  I don't have much in bloom right now.  The spring bulbs have all finished, but the ornamental onions are looking gorgeous.  My last crap apple tree is finishing showing off for the year, and the lilacs are in bloom.

These are my Ornamental Onions.  Are they gorgeous or what?  I LOVE this bulb/plant!  Because it's from the onion family, the critters won't go near it.  They get bigger and stronger every year.  I am thinking it's time to dig them up and divide them this year, because I have so many blooms!

The bumble bees love them too!  This little guy barely even noticed me taking his picture he was enjoying the flowers so much!

I have two Snowball Bushes in my yard.  I love this bush.  It's so hardy;  I can't believe how fast and big they grow.  And look at all these blooms!  My goodness, that's a lot of blossoms!

Here is a far away shot to give you an idea of the scale of this bush.  It's practically the size of a small tree!

This bush I have no idea what it is, but every single person that comes into my yard asks me.  It was only suppose to grow four feet tall and wide, but I think it's double that.  Other than the fact that it has thorny branches, it's a great bush that provides four seasons of interest.  In the spring it has yellow blossoms, in the summer it has gorgeous green foliage that turn red in the fall, and in the winter it is covered in berries.  It couldn't be a more perfect bush.

Here are the yellow flowers.  Right now, there are so many bees interested in this bush, I can't even get near it.  You can hear the buzzing many feet away.  The birds also love this bush for both protection and food.  They build nests deep inside, and they eat the berries in the winter.  Like I said...a perfect bush!  If you ever see this bush in a nursery, buy it, you won't regret it!

A lot of gardeners detest catmint because they think it's invasive.  It will reseed wherever it wants, but I don't find it invasive compared to other nuisance plants like Golden Rod or Tall Phlox.   I have it edges the steps that go down from my house and into my garden.

 This beautiful butterfly was loving my catmint too!  I'm so happy to see all the critters return in the spring.  I love to see my yard filled with Orioles, Hummingbirds, and Butterflies.

As I said earlier, my lilacs are in bloom.  I've got several bushes, but the common purple lilac is the one I have been able to photograph so far.  I fear I won't even get to the see the rest of my lilac in bloom, as I will be traveling when they open.

Me and my lilacs!

Of course, I had to bring a bouquet of these into my house to fill the air with their heavenly scent!

And here is the last crab apple tree to bloom for the year.  Oh, how I wish these beautiful trees would stay in bloom all summer long!

Have a Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

What I Ate This Week: Tomato-Basil Couscous Salad, Oatmeal Pancake, and Gyros!!!!

This week I made a yummy salad, a not-so-yummy fake pancake, and I went out to eat for Gyros!!!

First up, my yummy salad!  Most of my regular readers know I love Mediterranean dishes, so of course I loved this recipe!

"Tomato-Basil Couscous Salad"

This is such a delicious and healthy recipe!  I love the mix of flavors, it's so hard to believe that it actually good for you!

It's basically just couscous, chickpeas, and tomatoes served on a bed of lettuce.  I got my recipe out of the actual South Beach Diet book, but there are various versions of that recipe available HERE.  I looked at all the recipes, and I would eat any of them.  I especially love the idea of adding mozzarella cheese!

My next recipe is also from the South Beach Diet.  And to be honest, I really don't care for it, but it is edible.  It's suppose to be a non-gluten pancake.  It is made with oatmeal, egg whites,  and cottage cheese, and then I have sugar-free syrup and Smart Balance spread on it.   It's O.K., and it is low-carb, healthy, and full of protein.  It's something to eat if you have been on a low carb diet for awhile, and you are really craving something different...or sweet!

                                        Oatmeal Pancake

 But seriously, it doesn't taste that great.  Does anyone out there have a better gluten-free, high protein pancake recipe they are willing to share?  I'd love to hear from you.

I looked on the website, and one reader came up with another way to make these pancakes so that they are not so dense.  Maybe I will try making them her way next time.

If your interested in this recipe, you can find it HERE.

And finally, my favorite meal I ate on my weekend trip to Chicago with my husband:

                                                                A Gyro Platter!

We were driving through Milwaukee, Wisconsin on our way to Chicago right at lunch time, so of course we had to stop at our favorite restaurant "Gyro Palace" and have our favorite dish the "Gyro Platter".

The restaurant is just a hole in the wall, and the owners actually remind us of the characters on the Nazi Soup Kitchen episode of Seinfeld.   They are Greek Americans and serve real authentic Greek food, but they always seem kind of  annoyed that you are there.  It's actually quite comical.  There is no ambiance...just really good food.

Here's the outside of the restaurant.

Gorgeous isn't it?  The inside decor is even better.

By now your probably saying to yourself "This is her favorite restaurant in Milwaukee?".  Yep, this and an Italian place called Mamma Mia's where my husband and I had our first date.  You see, I have a lot of memories of this place.  We spent a lot of time here with our good friends Kirk and Shannon, back when we were young.  But we also really do love the food, you couldn't find a better gyro anywhere on this planet than here...that's why the owners can get away with being annoyed with you.  You don't need fancy decor or great service if you have great food.  And to be honest, those type of places always make me feel uncomfortable anyway.  I'll eat in this charming cafe over a fancy restaurant any day!

We always get the Gyro Platter and order two extra pitas.  It's around $12.00 and it comes with more meat than you possibly know what to do with and an entire bottle of the white sauce...whatever you call it...that goes on gyros.  We split the dish between the two of us, but it could also easily be split amongst three people, there is honestly so much food!

So what about you?  Do you like hidden gem diners like this, or is a five star restaurant more your cup of tea?  I'd love to hear from you!

Have a Great Day!  Amy