The Pin Junkie: June 2013

Friday Link Party #23


I hope you had a chance to vote for my plant markers in the Simply the Best DIY & Crafting Competition.  If not, you can go to Fox Hollow Cottage or click the button below to vote.  Thanks for your vote!  I appreciate it!

Plant markers


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Hello and welcome to The Pin Junkie Friday Link Party!  I hope you had a good week.  I had a yard sale last weekend.  I got rid of some unwanted stuff, but hurt my back while doing it.  We've had triple digit heat and are expecting more hot weather.  It's not even July yet and I'm tired of being hot!  While I've been trying to stay cool . . .

I put the finishing touches on my front yard makeover . . .


You'll never guess what the secret ingredient is!
healthy chocolate cookies

I also read a really fantastic book called Lunch in Paris
Lunch in Paris by Elizabeth Bard
  
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There were so many great projects shared at last week's party!  Thanks to everyone for sharing your projects, recipes and tips.  I can't wait to see what you will share this week!  But first, take a look at some features from last week's party.

patriotic rag wreath
Alyssa from Oh Sew Crafty Life shared her tutorial for a Patriotic Rag Wreath.


lime grilled chicken
Desiree from Your Crafty Friend shared her recipe for Fiesta Lime Grilled Chicken.


pain au chocolat chocolate croissants
Jen from Yummy Healthy Easy shared a recipe for Pain au Chocolat.



Now it's your turn to share what you've been working on.
Scroll to the bottom of the page to link up your projects, crafts, and recipes! 

If you were featured, grab a button and show it off!
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The rules for this link party are easy!
Here's what you need to know:

1.  Link back in some way.  You can use this button:
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2.  Link up something YOU made - it can be a craft, recipe, or project as long as YOU did it. (No giveaways, contests, or link parties please).
3.  Follow The Pin Junkie on Pinterest, GFC, or Facebook.
4.  Link directly to a specific post - not your main blog (Keep it family friendly, please)
5.  Show some love by checking out some of the other links and HAVE FUN!

Book Review: Lunch in Paris


Lunch in Paris

Visiting Paris someday is a big item on my bucket list.  I have a whole board devoted to Paris.  But then, I think everybody with a Pinterest account has a Paris board!  It's kind of like a wedding board, everybody has one.

Elizabeth Bard actually went to Paris.  And she never came back.  Lunch in Paris by Elizabeth Bard is "the tale of an American who discovers Paris one meal at a time."  Her memoir is a love story.  It's the story of how she fell in love with a man, and a city, and it's food.  

While working in London, Elizabeth spends weekends in Paris visiting her French boyfriend.  Later she moves to Paris to be with him.  Once she moves to Paris, she experiences the city as a local rather than a tourist.  She walks through the city discovering its secrets, surprises, and delights.  She visits the museums and practices her French.  She discovers, much to her surprise, that her biggest delight is visiting the markets.  She quietly revels in the "pyramids of apricots and peaches . . .and wild strawberries that glow like edible rubies."  Not only does she enjoy finding new treasures at the market, but she discovers the simple joy of preparing them each time is never quite the same.  She quickly learns to cook like the French, without a recipe.  Before living in Paris, the author had a mental list of what she expected for herself and her life.  She found her life, her interests and her priorities taking unexpected turns while living in Paris.   She wonders if she can live her life the same way she's learned to cook, without directions and without adhering to preconceived ideas about what would or should make her happy.

Elizabeth Bard is a well educated and well traveled woman.  She also knows her way around a kitchen.  However, she doesn't come across as a pretentious foodie.  I loved the quiet, introspective way she told her story which was often peppered with humor and wit.  Lunch in Paris is a relatively short book, but she touches on many large topics such as love, relationships, travel, learning to reconcile cultural differences, hopes and dreams and how they change, personal fulfillment and finding out what really makes you happy.  

Lunch in Paris is a great book on it's own, but the icing on the cake is the recipes she's included.  The recipes relate to specific moments in her life, both in Paris and growing up in New York.  All of the recipes are intriguing and sound delicious.  Some of them actually seem do-able for a novice like me!

I really enjoyed reading this book and would definitely put Elizabeth Bard on my short list of people I'd like to have dinner (or lunch!) with.

I'm Guest Posting at DIY By Design


Today the awesome Judy of DIY By Design is letting me guest post on her fantastic blog.  So you can find me over there today!!!

Here's a sneak peek . . .

Healthy Chocolate Cookies

Healthy Chocolate Cookie recipe
Healthy Chocolate Cookies

When I saw these cookies on Pinterest, I was intrigued.  Healthy chocolate cookies?  Yes!  I'm in!  Then I saw the ingredients.  Avocado?  Eeeww!  I like avocado, but it doesn't sound appetizing with chocolate and I'm not sure I want it in my cookies.  I decided to try the recipe anyway because if there's a way I can get my chocolate healthy, I'm doing it.  Besides, I've been surprised before.  I tried a pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving with tofu in it that I thought sounded terrible, but it was actually really good.

First of all, I need to warn you that these cookies are really difficult to make.  If you're having a serious chocolate attack (it happens) then these may not be the cookies you want to make.  These are cookies you have to wait for.  If you buy an avocado that's not ripe, you'll be waiting a few days for it to ripen.  After you mix the batter, you'll be waiting again for the dough to chill in the refrigerator.  While the dough is chilling, it's really difficult not to sneak little tastes of the dough.  (It's ok to eat it raw - no eggs!)  Once the cookies are cooked, it's really hard not to eat a million of them.  It's also really hard not to smile smugly as your family eats them and tells you how good they are, all the while not knowing what's in them. See why these cookies are so difficult!

Actually these cookies are really easy to mix together and cook!  Just mix the ingredients, chill a few hours, cook in the oven 8 to 10 minutes and enjoy!  You can get the original recipe at Pixie Dust Kitchen.

If you're feeding them to other people, you may want to mix them up when no one is around to see what actually goes in them.  There is absolutely NO WAY the guys in my family would eat these cookies if they knew avocados were one of the ingredients.

I'm not lying to you, I thought these cookies were good.  I liked them with a cup of hot coffee for breakfast.  (Yes, I eat cookies for breakfast.)  My son liked them with lemonade for a snack.  He said they tasted like Odwalla bars.  I really like warm, gooey cookies right out of the oven, but these not so much.  These cookies tasted great before they were cooked, and after they were cooked and cooled.  For some reason, when these cookies were warm right out of the oven, you could really taste the avocado and I didn't think they tasted as good.

Do you think you would try these cookies?  If you do, make sure you use a ripe avocado.


cranberry white chocolate chip cookies


lemon sugar cookies


chocolate peanut butter cup cookies


Broccoli Cheddar Twice-Baked Potatoes



I wanted to try these broccoli cheddar twice-baked potatoes, but it's been too hot to use the oven.  Instead of baking these potatoes in the oven,  I cooked them in my crock pot like I learned how to do here.   

 

I wrapped the potatoes in foil and cooked them for about three hours on high in the crock pot.  I took them out and let them cool a little so that it was easier to handle them.  Then I cut the potatoes in half and carefully scooped out the insides while being very careful not to tear the skin of the potatoes.  I mashed the potatoes that I scooped out and added chopped broccoli, cheddar cheese, and a little bit of milk. I  mixed everything together, spooned it back into the potato skins, and seasoned them with salt and pepper.

Since I didn't want to turn the oven on, I cooked the potatoes in my little toaster oven.  It's great for making toast, but it also bakes like an oven without putting out a lot of heat.  It's small so you can only cook small quantities and it worked perfectly for baking the potatoes.  I also used it for baking the stuffed zucchini I made recently.


This recipe for these Broccoli Cheddar Potatoes is from Cate's World Kitchen.

Ingredients
  • 4 medium-sized baking potatoes
  • 1 cup finely chopped broccoli florets
  • 1/2 cup (loosely packed) shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2-4 tbsp milk (or more, as needed)
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Heat the oven to 400 F.
  2. Bake the potatoes for about 50-60 minutes, or until soft.
  3. Carefully slice each potato in half lengthwise, and scoop the potato flesh into a bowl, leaving the skins intact.
  4. Put the skins on a baking sheet.
  5. Mash the flesh until smooth, and stir in the remaining ingredients. Add enough milk so that the mixture is soft and smooth, and add salt and pepper to taste
  6. Scoop the filling into the potato skins and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.

Front Yard Landscaping Finishing Touches


Remember last week when my front yard got a makeover?


As part of the makeover, we got a new gate for the side of the house.


The wood needed to be finished.  If it's not sealed, the sun and the weather will just ruin the wood over time.  I started by giving it a good sanding.


Then I stained and sealed it.


The front yard is looking so much better!


Can you believe it used to look like this?






Friday Link Party #22


Do you remember this project from a few weeks ago?
plant markers

This project is a contestant in the Simply The Best contest at The Fox Hollow Cottage.  I would love it if you would vote for me!  Just click the button below to vote.  You can vote daily from now to June 30th.  Thank you so much!


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Welcome to the Pin Junkie Friday Link Party!  I hope you had a wonderful week and are enjoying the long summer days!

This week I made chocolate banana bread . . .
chocolate banana bread

. . . and stuffed zucchini . . .
stuffed zucchini

. . . I read World War II Remembered . . .
Wold War II Remembered

. . . and I got beautiful new flowers for my front yard!


Now it's time for you to share what you've been working on!
There were so many great projects shared at last week's party!  Thanks to everyone for sharing your projects, recipes and tips.  I can't wait to see what you will share this week!  But first, take a look at some features from last week's party.

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key lime cake
Leigh Anne at Your Homebased Mom shared key lime cake.



diy patriotic door display
Angie at Snack Cups and Smiles made this patriotic door display.



diy jute sign tutorial
Desiree from Your Crafty Friend shared a tutorial for a jute sign.



no bake peanut butter pretzel magic bars
Julie from This Gal Cooks made No Bake Peanut Butter Pretzel Magic bars.


Now it's your turn to share what you've been working on.
Scroll to the bottom of the page to link up your projects, crafts, and recipes! 


Front Yard Landscaping


I love looking at pictures on Pinterest and in magazines of cottage gardens, and green lawns trimmed with colorful flowers.  Although I dream of lush, flowering gardens, in reality I live in the desert so it's a fight to keep anything green here and we really have to be careful to control our water use.  So although I have dreams of English gardens in bloom, I'm faced with the hot and dry reality of the desert.  Many yards in my neighborhood have rocks and cactus, but I just have rocks and weeds. 



This is my front yard.  Isn't it sad?  I hate having the ugliest yard on the street.  I have some very pretty native and low water use plants in the backyard, but no one can see them.

 
penstimon

chocolate flower (really smells like chocolate!)

catmint (the bees love it!)

red valerian

So this week we went from this . . .

to this!

I didn't want to move tons of rock in 100 degree heat, so we hired a crew to do it.  They made quick work of things with the bobcat.


By the end of the day, half of our front yard was in a dumpster.


After day one, the yard was looking bare, but a lot cleaner.  No more weeds and mismatched rock!


On day two the plants went in with the drip line irrigation.  This makes watering everything really easy!


On day three the rock went in and the whole yard was finished!  I know it doesn't look like much from this picture, but it will be even prettier as the plants grow and fill in. 


Not everything is blooming yet, but the ones that are blooming are gorgeous!
This rose looks like it could be in an English garden, doesn't it?

The bees and the butterflies love this vitex.

potentilla

As things grow and bloom, I'll be sure to share pictures!