I love to see pictures when I go to people’s homes. Last year I decided we needed a gallery wall. A wall of great memories, trinkets, Subway Art, Pinterest Projects and doodads. Where would it be? Our front door opens to reveal a hall and a lovely cherry staircase. Actually it is the only place cherry is used in the entire home and it is a dramatic effect. That is what made me fall in love with the house. The show stopping stairs. I’ll save you the gory details of all that we overlooked (I think our total lack of skill is one thing we totally overlooked but that’s another story).
I had plans to cut out kraft paper and put the layout on the wall first but in the end I didn’t do it that way. I didn’t have all the frames or doodads when I started. I had only a few. The wall grew up the stairs as my collection grew. Frames are expensive so I bought them one or two at a time (usually on sale). I took several pictures of Paul and I and had them matted with red, everything else is matted in white. All my frames are black and I incorporated keys, a doorknob, wrought iron designs, I bought a big S and used modge podge to put a chocolate brown paper on it.
I mounted a clock above the entry door so we’d know how late we were running. You can see the clock from the upstairs landing.
I bought a chipboard word “Welcome” and sprayed it with red glossy paint. You see Welcome when you walk in the house. Actually I’m sure a great many brain cells died while I was spraying various pieces. The garage might not be the best place for that activity.
I bought a frame with 2 pieces of glass (no solid backing) and a vinyl Winnie the Pooh quote that made me think of Paul the first time we met. I’m sure he is DELIGHTED it is a Winnie the Pooh quote. LOL!
I found an inexpensive 4 opening frame at Big Lots and cut hearts out of maps from where we met, where we got engaged, where we got married and where we live.
I bought an online deal for the letter pictures and I spelled Imagine.Later I found a another deal on those letter pictures at another place and I bought our last name to put under the S by the door.
I also got an online deal for a place called Fracture Me. I had pictures of the dogs and the kids done. They are the most amazing pictures. I love how vibrant they are. I did a little display by the office entry.
I moved the glitter word BELIEVE from over my bed at the old house to our gallery wall. I got profile pictures of all three kids and made my own silhouette portraits.
I used the subway art Carl gave me for Mothers Day and my Birthday.
The gallery wall has morphed into so much more… it spilled over near the door and down the hall, that wall is now filled with dog and cat photos and a huge wild print that I felt looked like Frisky. The gallery wall hit the wall at the top of the stairs on the landing. That wall is now the travel wall, showcasing doodads from different places and pictures places. There is a plate I painted in the San Juans, a basket I bought in Arizona, a picture from the Eastern State Penitentiary, the face of Aqua Sulis from Bath, a picture of Niagara Falls, a wooden Buddha face from Thailand, a painted tile from Arizona and a painted sand dollar from the coast, and a picture of the sign at Reading Terminal Market.
I fear we will run out of wall space. I love to see the pictures, it makes the place look warmer in a way, friendlier and definitely happy. I’m constantly reminded of all the fun things we’ve done. I do still have a spot at the top of the staircase for a few things. I know I will add a picture of my daughter Bethany and her new husband Reggis, but I have no idea what else might make it on to the wall. I always liked scrapbooking, now its just bigger!
Not long ago we had planned that Paul would retire this year from the military (after twenty years), however we found out that if he did Ethan may not be able to get the full educational benefit. We want those kids to be all trained up and smart right? So recently I was honored to be invited to watch my husband re-enlist as well as two folks getting promotions. It was a beautiful day and really pretty entertaining, not to mention I am extremely proud of Paul. One of the guys belted out the Army song and I do believe he may do well on The Voice. I worry he will be deployed again but I’ve got my fingers crossed.
Have you heard pretty much everyone in the LCHF world raving about “Crackslaw”? Yeah me too. We finally decided to give it a go, the boys moaned, complained and whined when they heard it had CABBAGE in it. I mean lets be honest, I was skeptical myself. My only other real run in with cabbage was that horrible diet soup from the 80’s and after three days of that who wants to even face another cabbage again.. EVER? There is coleslaw and that is okay once in a while and depending on the sauce so as you can see I hesitated for a long time before trying Crackslaw myself.
There are a MILLION recipes for crackslaw, seriously just punch that into the search engine of your choice and prepare to be overwhelmed. I have tried three or four variations and this one is BY FAR our very favorite.
Paul bought me a HUGE pan so I could make this on top of the stove but I actually found a cheater way to do this in the oven so now I do that instead.
2 Pounds of ground beef
1 pound of bacon
1 large head of cabbage (you can use the pre-shredded version but it is much more $$ when you need a bunch of bags)
1T Minced Garlic
1 Sweet Onion Diced
2 Bell Peppers Diced
1.5 Carrots (I use a peeler and put the carrot “curls” in) *OPTIONAL*
4T Frank’s Hot Sauce
2T Red Wine Vinegar
6T Tamari Sauce (Gluten free Soy Sauce)
Slice or Cut bacon into small pieces
Chop up the cabbage into small pieces, Take a peeler to the carrots, dice the onion and bell pepper.
To save time I toss the ground beef, bacon, onion and bell pepper all in and brown together in that big pan. If you do it separately please note I do not drain the fat off.
When the meat is browned I add the “sauce” to it. Franks, Vinegar and Tamari, Mix well.
I put the cabbage and carrot curls into two rectangular Pyrex 9×12 baking pans. There will be a TON of cabbage but don’t worry it will cook down.
Spoon the meat and sauce mixture over the cabbage/carrot mix dividing it up equally between the two pans.
Put in the oven at 350 degrees for about an hour. Stir occasionally to get the sauce covering all the cabbage.
This is a great one dish dinner. Prep is super easy and should take about 30 minutes.
Alternately you can do all of this on the stove top (because there is so much cabbage it tends to be a little messy).
Now this was such a huge hit they wanted to know when I would make it again and the boys practically licked their plates clean. This recipe does freeze well *IF* you have any leftover to freeze. I know I will need to add this to my do ahead recipe list for when we get our Zaycon beef in December. We purchased 80 pounds this summer, everyone pitched in and we cooked 32 pounds of it upfront making a number of meals to be frozen for nights I’m gone all day. It sounds like a lot but basically that worked out to be just 16 meals. The rest we packaged up in 2 pound increments and everything went into the freezer.
I was trying to locate something different to try and came across Zucchini Lasagna, It looked easy enough and I was hoping it would work out. I did have to make a few adjustments because my husband is NOT a fan of ricotta cheese. I found this one on Skinny Taste and this is my version of their recipe. Their photos are fantastic (I took mine with the iPad, so keep that in mind.
- 2 lb 93% lean beef
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 onion
- 1 tsp olive oil
- salt to taste
- 28 oz canned diced tomatoes
- 1 can tomato sauce
- 1 small can tomato paste
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
- 4 medium zucchini, sliced 1/8″ thick
- 8 oz part-skim ricotta
- 32 oz part-skin mozzarella cheese, shredded (Costco)
- 1 cup Parmesan Cheese (Costco)
- 1 large egg
In a medium sauce pan, brown meat with the garlic & onions and season with salt. . Toss meat, tomatoes, basil and salt into larger pot . Simmer on low for at least 30-40minutes, covered. Do not add extra water, the sauce should be thick.
Meanwhile, slice zucchini into 1/8″ thick slices, add lightly salt and set aside or 10 minutes. I put my slices on a baking rack and had it drain onto a cookie sheet so it would be easy to clean up. Skinny Taste says to use a mandolin and with as many kitchen contraptions as I have that is one I am lacking. I sliced mine with a knife. Zucchini has a lot of water when cooked, salting it takes out a lot of moisture. After 10 minutes, blot excess moisture with a paper towel. Seriously do not skip this step, if you do your lasagna will be really soupy.
Skinny Taste used a grill but I skipped that step, it might remove even more moisture but I have no idea. Place on paper towels to soak any excess moisture.
Preheat oven to 350°.
In a medium bowl mix ricotta cheese, 1/2 the mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese and egg. Stir well. I used a food processor and it took just seconds.
In a 9×12 casserole spread some sauce on the bottom and layer the zucchini to cover. If you have the deeper lasagna pan, by all means use it because my lasagna dripped over in the oven in the 9×12. Then place some of the cheese mixture and repeat the process until all your ingredients are used up. I thought I did not have enough for the last layer of either the meat sauce or the cheese, so I zipped all of it together in the food processor and it was great (next time I might start there, ghetto I know but it would make the entire process less messy and much faster). Top with mozzarella and cover with foil.
45 minutes covered at 375°, then uncovered 15 minutes. Let stand about 5 – 10 minutes before serving.
For us this was roughly 11 servings. Feeding 2 men, myself and 2 young women. Everyone loved it. I served it with a simple salad.
I also feel like this would freeze well if you used an aluminum pan. So if you could bring yourself to make a double or triple batch it would be really great to have it ready in the oven. I may have to keep this in mind when making freezer meals.