I recently did some flower arranging for church, and I wanted to share the results with you. I bought the flowers at Sam’s Club. They were <$60 for both arrangements. I could have used a few more for the back, but I used some greenery from the flower beds to fill it in. I just love the bright colors for summer!
4 mixed bouquets that had the feature flowers in them (the large/bright mums, daisies, and lilies – 3 pink and 1 orange)
3 bunches of pom pons for filler (2 yellow and 1 green)
I’m proud of how they turned out and how cheap they were…however, they did take quite a bit of time to scout and arrange the flowers. I am available for hire 🙂
I recently received an invitation to attend a kitchen-themed shower for my friend, Amanda. After giving it lots of thought, I finally decided on my recipe and gift. I spent the week before last putting it together, and I can’t wait to share it.
First of all, please look at the adorable stationery. The invitation card is so cute, and the matching recipe card will certainly give Amanda joy for years to come. The design detail is even on the back of the invitation. I can’t take it!
The starting place with this gift was the recipe. I wondered if I should do a dessert/baking theme…or possibly my favorite Crockpot Lasagna…or or or. Ideas swirled through my head. I wanted to share a easy recipe from my Store Bought Remix file, and I wanted it to be a favorite of mine to make.
I know that when I look around our home, I think about the people behind the gifts that were given to us at the time of our wedding or other special occasions in our lives. Recipes are the same way for me. You just can’t help but to stop and remember the person that shared a delicious recipe.
Without further ado, I decided on Marinara Sauce. I use this recipe all the time as a base for several dishes. I really hope that this will be a cherished recipe in Amanda’s kitchen and that it will be shared with family and friends for many years to come.
Becca’s Marinara Sauce
1 – 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce
1 – 6 oz. can tomato paste
2 T olive oil
1 T brown sugar
1 T Italian seasoning
½ t black pepper
1 t salt
¼ t crushed red pepper flakes
2-4 cloves of garlic, minced
Add all ingredients to a sauce pan and bring to a simmer on medium-low. Heat through, or if you’re patient, simmer for 30 minutes or longer on low.
For meat sauce, brown 1 lb. of ground beef or turkey (with green pepper and onions, if desired).
Drain meat and add sauce ingredients.
For more depth of flavor:
Substitute butter for olive oil
Add ½ t basil, ½ t marjoram, ½ t parsley, ¼ cup of red cooking wine (dry) to the sauce. Additional herbs and wine are delish!
Cook a small container of sliced mushrooms with ½ -1 T butter and ¼ cup red or white cooking wine (dry) on medium low until mushrooms and sauce are cooked down.
Serve on top of pasta, make a pizza, or build a lasagna.
Serve over al dente pasta of choice, build a lasagna, or make a pizza! Any leftover sauce can be frozen for future use.
Now for the gift, Amanda had lots of things that went well with the recipe I picked out. I chose a colander and a nice set of wooden spoons from her registry and threw in one of my favorite tools…a garlic press! I usually like to stick to the registry, but this tool is the pathway to garlic. And garlic is one of my favorite things…of course, it’s an integral part of this recipe. One of the things that I struggled with as a newlywed was stocking up my kitchen, so I wanted to give Amanda some ingredients to start with. My hope is that she’ll be able to make this on the fly whenever she needs a quick meal. I secured the main ingredients on a lunch trip to Whole Foods. Man I love that place! I got the pasta (linguini), canned tomatoes, herbs, garlic, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, and some cute little bread sticks.
Next comes the the fun part…wrapping the gift. I’m a firm believer in gift wrap. It’s part of the whole gift giving experience. Well-executed gift wrap can make people excited over any small little thing. I won’t get up on a soap box, but gift bags are NOT up to this important job!
I arranged the kitchen gadgetry amongst the ingredients. It felt a little like flower arranging. My vessel was the colander, and it did its duty well. I put the tall things in the back and placed the other things around where they could easily be seen. I added some fun crinkly white filler in between the items to fill in holes and give everything some cushion. Tissue paper works well for this too.
My wrapping of choice was cellophane. Now, you may say that this takes away the element of surprise because you can see everything immediately, but I love this technique. There’s something charming about it…like window shopping or a Barbie you can’t wait to get out of the package.
Bear with me while I try to explain the process.
Before you start on the cellophane , it’s best to have some ribbon on stand by for tying the top. You don’t want to be holding the bunch of cellophane in one hand while trying to locate and cut a piece of ribbon. (If you do, plan to use your teeth because you’ll need all the help you can get.) A one-foot-long piece should do. I also had my bow prepared and ready to go.
I lay out the cellophane on a flat surface, put the gift in the middle, and measure to make sure I have enough. I orient my gift so that the short sides (the width of the roll) are to the side and then I hold up the end of the roll until I have enough to gather at the top, scooting the gift around if needed. I like to place my gather and bow toward the back so that nothing is blocked. For this, you’ll need a little more length in the front. Once you think you have sufficient length. Cut the piece of cellophane you’ll need.
I start on one of the short sides. I fold the short sides up and cover them by wrapping the longer front and back pieces around it to cover up any holes. This is very similar to how you wrap the ends of a box…just with an irregular shape and a little more dexterity. This is probably a good time to bring in a second set of hands if you have any lying around. I do the same technique on all four quadrants to bring all sides up to the top.
Then, I begin to straighten out any bulky places and move my gather toward the back of the gift. If you have an assistant, he or she can help you hold the gather while you’re working on the unbunching/straightening and while you tie on the ribbon that will secure the whole thing. Tie it securely in a knot, but don’t pull too tight…the ribbon might break. Yes, this has happened, and yes, this is terrible.
Now, you can trim your ends or the poofy part of the cellophane that sticks out the top. I like to make a cut with scissors on the low end in the middle of a long piece and then just pull it up and out and let the cellophane tear where it wants. This gives you a more natural look than just cutting it off like a bad hair cut.
Finally, place your bow and readjust any tucks, folds, or holes that may have appeared in the wrapping. Whatever you do, if you can help it, don’t use tape. I have never seen this look good, but sometimes you have to. At least try to make it discreet.
Here’s the finished product:
I originally shared some of my favorite blogs when I first set up Notes from Betty Becca, but I’ve found some new ones to follow. I’ve really been enjoying them, and I wanted to do an update to my list so you can enjoy them, too.
Hands down, top of the list of my new favorites is Bower Power.
I feel like Katie is a friend. Her little boy is adorable, and I’m glued to her house update projects. She has a gorgeous “forever house” that she’s working on. This blog makes me want to drive down to Atlanta to do some shopping at Goodwill and Ikea (you never know what a little TLC can do!), or grab a couple of brushes and a roller and help paint poor little Will’s nursery walls. Could he be any cuter?
Bonus: She’s friends with Sherry of Young House Love…which I’ve kept an eye on for a while. You know about them don’t you? They post a little too often for me to keep up with in my reader, but I do check in with them every now and again. Also some good stuff.
Shelter – Nashville Favorite
Ok, so I know this blogger IRL (in real life – we shared a locker in high school). I’m really digging Sarah’s blog. She has the process blogs DOWN. The Redheaded Stepchild posts “everyone can do it” tutorials on home improvement (building, installing, sewing, painting, etc.). Kind of what I’m going for around here…just in the kitchen.
Oh Happy Day! has some great ideas! I especially loved this idea from Jordan in her debut on Simply Stated/Real Simple. She features really inspiring party ideas. Also…a minor little detail…she and her family are spending a year in PARIS! How amazing is that? The little glimpses of every day life abroad make me feel like I’m there.
Another great site for entertaining ideas is A Subtle Revelry. Just lovely!
This one isn’t about entertaining, but it is entertaining. I’ve mentioned it before, but I can’t help but love My Drunk Kitchen. I’m dying for one of her shirts or aprons.
Entertaining – Nashville Favorite
Pizzazzarie posts some of the cutest stuff, and I’m so proud that the magic happens right in my little town!
Bakerella…oh how I love thee. I’ve featured her before. Her stuff is amazing. She’s amazing. How cute are her little kidney cake pops to celebrate the success of her recent transplant!?!? [I’m a nerd.]
Food – Nashville Favorites
Who new Nashville had such a burgeoning food blogging community!? I just love finding a local jewel.
Ezra Pound Cake…wow, where do I start? I love the Meatless Monday meals, the menus inspired by favorite TV series and movies, and Southern goodness with a modern twist. Oh, AND she’s pretty darn funny!
I’ve been so pleased to find my neighbor-blogger, Grisma from Zaika Zabardast. She takes beautiful pictures and has great styling. I’m so intrigued by her delicious dishes. Check it out!
Our local food styling guru has a wonderful blog called Food on Fifth. I love the way she composes photos, the inspired food she creates, and the words she uses to bring recipes to life.
Special props to my new friend, Marie. So nice to meet you!
Go! Go! GO! Check ’em out, and give ’em some love!
I’ve taken a little break from the blog, but I’m back! Don’t worry, I’ve been planning great things to share and taking pictures of all blog-able meals. I’ll pick up right where I left off! There are lots of new recipes, and the categories section may have a few surprises coming soon. I also have some great blogs to add to my blogroll. I’ve found some gems!
I owe you an update as well. I started a new job…just finished up my fourth week. It’s been great so far! I’ve also been working on a special project for a group I’m involved in, and it’s been a nice creative outlet. Life has been quite busy, but I’ve been loving it!
I’m off to process photos and plan out a few posts. Ahhh…so good to be back!
Pasta Salad! This is really tasty stuff! I just had to share. I grew up eating lots of pasta salad. We would prepare some tri-colored rotini and pour a small bottle of Zesty Italian dressing over it. Add some olives, and voila! easy pasta salad.
Except there is no reason to use store bought dressing. This recipe was found on the box of rotini, and the dressing is DELISH! It really puts the store bought to shame. Plus it’s cheaper and fresh!
Ok, get some rotini boiling (half of the box – about 8 oz.), and prepare according to the package directions. Whip up the dressing like this (I use my emulsifier, but you can use a glass and a fork or a bowl and a whisk or whatever you have!):
¼ cup oil (I used lightly flavored olive, but you can use vegetable)
¼ cup white vinegar
1T parsley flakes*
1 clove garlic, minced
½ t salt
¼ t pepper
*I used one heaping T of Italian seasoning in place of these two.
You want to get the garlic and even the onions into the vinegar stat to let it pickle a little and take the edge off. Add all of the dressing ingredients to your mixing vessel and mix away!
Next, chop up your veggies:
The original recipe calls for cucumber, onion, and tomato, but I didn’t have any cucumber so I added some celery and carrots for a little added “veg.” You’ll need 1 medium cucumber, 1 stalk of celery, 1/4-1/2 cup of onion, and 1 large carrot. Chop! Chop! Chop! Also add ½ cup of olives (green or black or a mixture).
The final piece of lovely is feta cheese. Add ¼ cup of that. Some Parmesan would be good also. Mix together the pasta (rinse in cold water to cool it off), the dressing, and the veggies, and enjoy! Bonus points: if you have the patience, let it chill out in the fridge for as long as you can stand to wait (30 minutes should do it). It’ll really let the flavors come together!
The thing about this type of salad is that the amounts don’t really matter. Just make it to your taste with what you have. As long as you have a good “ratio” of ingredients, you’ll have a tasty result! This is a great summer recipe. Double it for a party or cookout!
You might not think about soup in the summer, but this one is full of summery veggies. It hits the spot for a light summer-time meal.
When we first got married, I searched high and low for the perfect potato soup recipe. Many recipes out there use canned soup or processed cheese, and it just tastes fake to me. I finally landed on a recipe right under my nose…straight from my mom. It was received from a friend in my grandmother’s small town, Mrs. Martha. It’s very simple to make and very delicious!
I’ve already blogged about the recipe, but here’s how I updated the recipe for the warmer months. I make the basic recipe for Mr. J without the veggies, and I cook a few on the side to mix into mine. This time I added onion, celery, corn, and carrots. Also add 1/2 – 1 cup of cheddar cheese and stir to melt. I used a potato masher at the end to break up the big chopped pieces of potato. It disappeared quick!
P.S. For a time saver, you can use frozen hash browns. They cook quickly, and there is no need to clean, peel, and chop the potatoes!