Sunday, July 27, 2008

Lemon Glaze - Barefoot Contessa

It's hot! And the call of a tart lemon cake is ringing in my ears. But instead of heating up the kitchen baking a cake I do the next best thing--I get a store bought pound cake and dress it up with a homemade lemon glaze. I purchase my pound cake at Costco (usually two cakes for $5). I stash one cake in the freezer and begin preparing the glaze for the other cake.
First, warm the cake in a 250 degree oven for 10 minutes (a toaster oven is even better).
Combine equal parts of sugar and lemon juice. For one cake I use 1/4 cup granulated sugar with 1/4 cup lemon juice in small saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves and makes a syrup.
Invert the cake onto a rack and punch several holes into the bottom of the cake using a toothpick. Pour the lemon syrup over the bottom of the cake. Allow the cake to cool completely.
For the glaze, combine 1 cup confectioners’ (powdered) sugar with 1 to 2 tablespoons of lemon juice in a bowl mixing with a wire whisk until smooth. Pour over the top of the cake and allow the glaze to drizzle down the sides.

Great Excuse to Buy More Bags

I get the whole reusable bag issue. Just the thought of all those plastic grocery bags filling up the landfills is enough to make you swear-off any bags and just carry everything in your arms as you head out of the grocery store.

Buying those string bags I've seen carried by the green types just didn't do it for me. Finally, some great looking reusable bags are ready for purchase.

I mean some fun looking bags that give us all an excuse to buy more bags! First Trader Joes designed a whimsical bag that cost around $2. Then Whole Foods came out with a whole slew of bags including the one above for $1.

Recently I ordered several colorful bags from a daughter and mom company called Baggu. They are a good size and fold up nice and flat when not in use (see photo below). You can find them at If you order 3 or more bags, use the code "candy" in the coupon box and you may receive one extra bag at no additional cost.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Gardening 101

I am new to the gardening world. But after visiting the vegetable and flower gardens of two friends, Jill and Leslie, I knew I needed to have my own. Not to live off the land of course, but to have the experience and educate myself on the process. Of course, having organically grown vegetables and herbs in my own backyard is a nice reward.

So the first thing I did was to hire my friend to start the process. Jill Green's Sweet Life Garden got me started. Jill and her husband Hal designed and created my two 4 x 4 garden plots. Hal described the soil as, "the soil from hell." Lovely. But after the garden boxes were built, soil amended, and vegetables and herbs planted, I started seeing some results.

First came the fragrant basil and thyme. Then the zuchinni and the crookneck squash. Tomatoes didn't fare so well. And I had to end the whole thing before the red peppers ripened (more on that later.)

But I loved checking on the garden early every morning to look for ripened vegetables or to snip herbs. And I loved giving the goods to friends who put them to use. The gardens are dormant right now as the soil is being baked or solarized in the intense heat. It is supposed to be great for the soil so I will do without any homegrown vegetables until this fall. Can't wait to see what works and what doesn't in the Arizona fall heat!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Online Ordering Idea

Here is something I do everytime I order online. I go to the Google page and enter the name of the product and the word "discount" in the search bar. Often you can find a code offering a 10-25% discount.

For instance, I had my eye on a great handbag (what a surprise) and although I could buy it locally I searched for an online deal. So I googled "Kooba discount" and I pulled up several discount codes for various online stores. Some of the codes had expired but I did find one that worked. I ordered my bag from Revolve Clothing using a 25% discount code. No shipping fees, no taxes. It was a great savings. Of course, I would have really saved had I not bought the bag in the first place.....

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Zinnias Planted by Seed

On Monday, June 2nd, we had a seed planting party! We invited my sister, Lori and her husband Steve, their darling daughter Ellie, our neighbor Sheli and her twin girls Morgan and Madeline. Ten packets of seeds were sown. Varieties of Zinnias, Cosmos, and Four O'Clocks. It was a fun evening and we thanked everyone with yummy Root Beer Floats.

Around July 3rd the zinnias started blossoming and they haven't stopped. They are gorgeous and make the corner of our backyard look like an old-fashioned English garden. And with the rain we have been getting these past few days I am expecting the cosmos and four o'clocks to begin blooming any day.

Planting by seed was fun and provided entertainment on a summer evening. Now we are reaping the rewards. Who knew you don't have to buy pony packs at your local gardening store? We probably spent around $20 for a 12 feet by 5 feet plot that is now teeming with beautiful summer flowers. And finding something that will produce such color through the miserable hot Arizona summers is ever so lovely!