Saturday, August 18, 2018

What I've Been Cooking Lately: Salads and Desserts!

It's been a long time since I've done a recipe post.  I'll be honest, I don't cook much between May and October because I'm outside working hard in the garden!  The last thing I want to do after coming in from the garden all hot, sweaty, and covered in dirt is stand in front of a hot stove for hours!  haha!  And because of that, my diet consists mostly of what I can grab quick out of the fridge instead of planning a hot meal.

I absolutely love cold salads in the summer just for that reason.  I can mix them up ahead of time, and when I'm in a hurry I just pull the bowl out of the fridge and eat!  The problem is finding healthy ones that aren't soaked in mayonnaise!  I was thrilled to find the two salads I'm sharing with you today.  Both are very healthy and loaded with protein.  



This salad is absolutely delicious!  It has avocado, chicken, bacon, and boiled eggs...so it's loaded with protein.  You can substitute the regular bacon for turkey bacon if your looking for less fat and calories.  You can actually substitute or add other items in this recipe too.  When reading the comments, some people didn't like the corn so they substituted cherry tomatoes or celery instead.  I didn't really care for the corn in the recipe either so I might try that...or peas!

One suggestion:  don't mix well like it says in the instructions.  It turns the salad brown and visually unappealing.  When you look on the website, the pictures are so pretty and bright, and it's because the ingredients are not "mixed well" but separated or slightly folded in.  If I were to make this recipe again, I'd just mix the dressing with the chicken, veggies, and bacon and then layer the avocado and egg to the side as pictured on the website.

Because of the avocado, the dish doesn't keep long in the fridge.  It needs to be eaten within a day or two, or it gets even browner.  So it's probably best to make this dish when you have a crowd of people over to help you eat it.



This bean salad was a hit with my granddaughter.  She saw me eating this and begged to try some.  I think she was attracted to the bright, pretty colors.  It was great finger food for her.  I could put some beans on her plate and she picked them up herself and put them in her mouth saying "Yum!"  every time!  Great nutritious finger food for toddlers!

It has three kinds of beans, red pepper, and feta cheese bathed in a red wine vinegar sauce...what's not to love?  Another high protein salad with no mayo:  win, win!  And, unlike the chicken salad above, it  looked pretty and kept for a long time!



I know there is nothing original or creative about this recipe, but I'm sharing it with you because it is the first time in my life I've made Rhubarb Crisp.  I have memories of my husband's grandmother cutting the large, strange, weedy plant from her garden and creating a delicious dessert with it.  It always amazed me that something so odd looking could taste so good.  Fast forward thirty years and I was in my friend's garden when she asked me if I wanted some rhubarb.  I said "Sure!  I'd love to try making some Rhubarb Crisp!"  So I looked up some recipes and gave it a try!

It tasted just like "Grandma use to make" and my hubby was thrilled when he came home from work and saw his grandma's Rhubarb Crisp waiting for him!



Wednesday was my husband's and my 31st wedding anniversary.  We already celebrated two weekends ago when we went to The Paine Art Center and Gardens in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, but I wanted to do something to mark the actual day, so I made him a card and this dessert.

The dessert taste delicious and was easy to make, my only issue was that it called for a lot of flour and sugar, and I ended up not even using it all.  When I was assembling it, it seemed the ratio of flour mix to cherry filling was way off.  So I followed my better judgment and didn't use all of it and put the excess in the refrigerator to make an apple crisp another day.  If you make this recipe, I would suggest only three cups of flour and then omit the appropriate amount of sugar as well.  Or, just save the excess for another dessert like I did.

Have a Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!

Friday, August 17, 2018

Stitch Fix Review #19: Cold Shoulder Dress And A Baublebar Necklace

 For my 19th Fix I asked my stylist for a dress that I could wear to an August outdoor wedding.  I already purchased a dress for this wedding, but when I tried it on for my husband his response was not enthusiastic to say the least. 🤣 So I thought, why not mention the wedding to the stylist and see what she comes up with up.  Maybe she will send me something my husband and I like better.

Now, if you watch my Instagram Stories on Instagram you may have seen my first impression of this dress on video.  I was not in love with this dress at all.  It was pretty small and skimpy to me;  not to mention the cold shoulder and open back.  But when hubby came home from work and saw me in this dress he was like"VA VA VA VOOM!".  So, I kept the dress.  I figured I could at least wear it on a date night for him.  Because of the colors, I could also wear it in the fall with tights, tall boots, and a jean jacket.  But I still was unsure of wearing it to the wedding.  So, I went dress shopping again, and still didn't find anything.  Then, the weather got really hot and humid.  Hmmm, I thought, maybe I should wear that skimpy dress after all.  So I did, and I was so glad I did.  I was as comfortable as I could be in the steamy weather.  And guess what?  Most of the other women at the wedding had skimpy dresses on as well.  I ended up getting a lot of compliments too!


 The dress is by Collective Clothing and is called "Marina Cold Shoulder Dress".  It has a ruffle top, a tie waist, and is above the knee.  It is lined inside.  The color is a gorgeous emerald green with a pretty blush pink floral print.


The back has both a zipper and a tie.  At first I thought the tie was kinda weird, but then I realized how helpful it is to keep your straps up.  You can also adjust it to make it tighter or looser on your bust/back.



The second item I received in this Fix was this Baublebar Pearl Statement Collar Necklace.  I really liked this necklace and it went perfect with the dress.  I really wanted to keep this necklace, but the price tag of $48.00 was too steep for me.  So I sent it back.  I also thought it looked a little "cheap" for a $48.00 necklace.


Following the advise of my stylist, I wore my own 9 West nude wedges with my dress (old).


 I also took her advise and carried a blush pink clutch (old) from Charming Charlies.  I echoed the pearls in the necklace with a very, very old pearl bracelet.


I did get three other items in this Fix:  a pair of white jeans, an off-the-shoulder top, and a Tie-Front Blouse.  I kept two of those three items, so it was a pretty good Fix for me.  You will see those items and Stitch Fix reviews soon!

Finally, I want to show you some pictures from the actual wedding.  Here I am with my husband in the exact same outfit except I wore my own double strand pearl necklace.


And here we are with our beautiful granddaughter Alethea wearing her stunning blush pink tulle dress and our handsome son Jordan.


And these are Alethea's parents:  my daughter Ashley and son-in-law Jason.  If Ashley's dress looks familiar to you, it's because it's one of mine.  I just featured it on my Instagram Round Up post last Friday.


I planned on taking lots of gorgeous photography of this wedding to do a blog post about it, but my DSLR camera battery died when we got there.  I could have cried!  I still had my IPhone and did take plenty of pictures, but the quality is just not the same.  I will still show you a few highlights soon!

Have a Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The Paine Gardens

If you saw Monday's Fashion Post you already got a hint of these beautiful gardens where my fashion photos were taken.  I promised in that post to do a travel post of this magical place, so here it is!  To keep the post from getting too lengthy I will split it into two parts:  The Paine Gardens and The Paine Art Center and Mansion.  Today, I will cover these amazing, gorgeous gardens!

The mansion sits on a large estate in the middle of downtown Oshkosh, Wisconsin.  My husband and I have lived in Wisconsin almost all of our lives and one time we even lived very close to Oshkosh, and yet, we never knew this place existed.  They really need to up their advertising because I've talked to many Wisconsinites since, and no one has ever heard of this place.  And it's a shame, because it is a not-to-be-missed Wisconsin tourist attraction!

Lets begin our tour with a brief history.  The home was the dream of Nathan and Jessie Kimberly Paine.  Nathan's wealth was from the lumber industry.  They wanted to created a place that would reflect their English heritage:  so they designed an estate with exceptional architecture, furnishings, art and nature.  They planned to have this estate open to he public for education and cultural purposes.  Construction began in 1927 but when the Great Depression occurred it came to a halt in 1932.  The Paine's NEVER lived in the home.  In 1948, after Nathan's death, the estate was established as a museum.

Originally the grounds was a cow pasture with beautiful oak trees.  Over many decades the gardens evolved:  some very new;   like the "Formal Garden".  There are many display gardens in various historical and contemporary styles featuring thousands of plants.  These "rooms" show perennials, trees, and shrubs that are hardy in Wisconsin as well as annuals and bulbs.  I was actually surprised to see some trees growing there that I didn't even know we could go grow in Wisconsin.


The front of the mansion held my favorite flowering beds.  I absolutely loved the mix of orange and red annuals up against the terra cotta stone of the mansion.  I took plenty of pictures and made mental notes to try this color combo in my garden next year.  I especially loved the dark maroon grass in the background.  Isn't it fabulous?


What a gorgeous home, eh?  Don't worry, you will see pictures of the inside too...in next week's travel post!


A corner street view of the estate.


This is a lovely patio seating area outside the breakfast nook.  It's called "The Morning Terrace".  I just loved the iron table and chairs.  Such a pretty patina color.


My birds grew tall sunflowers in my garden this year, of which I have been very grateful because they planted them outside my kitchen window.  Every time I am cooking and cleaning I see their blooms smiling at me.  Now I get to see the goldfinches enjoying their bounty!  It's so pretty watching them eating the seeds from the blooms.  So when I saw this display garden, I made another mental note to watch for these sunflower seeds next spring.  It was a low growing, bushy sunflower, bordered with a dark red plant like coleus.  Another color/plant combination I absolutely love!


A "Limousine Garage" on the side of the property.  It looks so old-world European doesn't it?


This is a side view of the estate.  I love the old world brick siding.  The stonework is Kasota limestone, quarried in Minnesota.


The "Great Lawn" behind the house.


There was a lot of architecture in this garden to create the "rooms" and special interest.  I loved the ironwork and all the fountains...who wouldn't?


This is the "Rose Garden", but my favorite feature in this garden wasn't the roses but the Russian Sage. Oh, I just love this beautiful plant.  I tried so many times to grow it my garden but it doesn't like my yard and always dies out.


I loved the contrast between the red barberry bushes and the lavender blooms of the Russian sage.
The building in the background is the Carriage House.


They had two statues greeting guests at the entry of this garden.  This is one of them, the other you can see in the distance in the photo below.



This is the carriage house which is now used as office space and also for special events.  They were having an art class in the conservatory when we visited.


The "Herb Garden" is on the side of the carriage house.


Street view of the Carriage House.  They already were getting ready for fall in this garden.


The newest garden at The Paine is the "Formal Garden".  This is architecturally the most spectacular garden of them all, but my husband and I felt the bedding areas were not as full and nice as the annual beds in the gardens at the front of the mansion.


A manicured lawn is at the center of this garden with annual beds on either side.  On one end is a stunning Romanesque statue and at the other end is a fountain.


A natural cedar fence borders the entire garden with more Russian Sage planted in front of it.


The beautiful fountain is highlighted with arborvitaes and hydrangea on either side.


My husband and I really admired the trellis's and garden benches.


The Conservatory, which is on the far left of the picture, has a great view of this garden.




This is the "Birch Grove" where I saw the interesting trees I never knew we could grow in Wisconsin.  My only complaint is I wish the trees were marked so I knew what they were.


This is where they hold outdoor weddings. It's called "The Oshkosh Area Community Foundation Ceremony Garden"...quite a mouthful, eh?   For weddings, they set chairs up on the lawn on either side of the aisle. The bride and groom get married under the trellis at the end of the aisle behind me.  The flowers are always pastel in this garden so that they coordinate with most weddings.


There were a few more gardens I did not feature like a "Children's Garden",  the "Secret Garden", a "Contemporary Garden" and more...you will have to visit to discover these gardens for yourself! 😊


The Paine Art Center and Gardens is open Monday through Sunday 10 to 4 and the admission price of only $12.00 covers the gardens and a self tour of the mansion!  What a bargain, eh?

Come back next week Wednesday to see the inside of this beautiful mansion....you're not going to believe it!

Have a Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these fabulous blogs HERE!