Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Decorating the Dock

This year our 4th of July celebration is going to include a back yard cookout, swimming in the lake, yard games, sunscreen a few fun surprises for the kids. Today, I am getting the dock ready for the long holiday weekend.  We want the dock to be an inviting place for out guests to hang out while the kids are swimming. This is the everyday look for the dock. 

Sorry for my crooked pictures.  The dock really is level.  Here is another angle of the everyday look for the dock. It's not bad, it just needs a little extra color and some softness to be inviting. 

I added a few colorful towels to cover the bench and draped over the Adirondack chairs.  I also made some bolster pillows out of beach towels that I added to the chairs for a little extra comfort. 

Flags in the ferns are a must for the 4th of July and they add such a bright pop of color. 

The trees hang way over the edge of the lake, so this is always a nice cool spot to swim and explore.  It's so pretty, I just wanted to share it with you.

We always bring baskets to the dock.  They hold sunscreen and bug spray, they act as eye glass holders for the swimmers and the kids love to take them and fill them with shells and treasures.  You can see them stacked up on the bench below. 

I can't wait to see more of this over the weekend.  :-) 

Monday, June 27, 2011

Patriotic Flower Pots

Today we are putting some red, white and blue planters together for our 4th of July celebration.  I picked up a variety of flowers from the local nursery.  I am also using a red and a blue sand pail as planters.   

You will also need some pebbles for the bottom of the planters.

The sand pails will need drainage holes.  The best way to get add drainage holes is with a drill fitted with a large drill bit. 

These are the beach buckets I found.  They are only going to be strong enough to last for one season, but that is okay since they were only $1.00 each. 

Start by gently drilling the drainage holes.  Let the drill rest on the bucket, but to not push down on the bucket.  You do not want to crack the thin plastic.  The key here is to drill gently as possible. 

You will want about six holes for a planter this size. 

Next, we need a double layer of pebbles.  You must not skip this step.  When you water the flowers, the water will wash away the dirt if you do not have a layer of pebbles to stop the erosion.

Fill the bucket about 3/4 of the way up with a potting mix.  I made my own potting mix but you can buy it as well.

To remove the little flowers from the pots, use your thumbs to push the bottom up. 

Then grab the flower by stem and gently pull it out of the carton.  You do not want to snap the flower stem so work gently. 

This is a root bound plant.  It is good that the plant has such a healthy root system, but bad that they are all growing around the  outside of the dirt from the container it was growing in.  Use your thumbs and break apart the roots.  You want to work down the middle pulling the roots apart.  Then turn the plant one quarter turn and do the same thing. 

This looks much better.  Now the roots can grow outward and you will have a much healthier plant. 

Flip that plant over and rest on the top of the potting soil.  Move onto the next plant.

When you have your plants in place gently pat them down. 

Next, fill in the gaps with more potting soil.

A riot of red white and blue with hints of green and a pop of yellow is my favorite planter combination this year. 

I tucked the shovels into the white planter for an extra pop of color.

The blue planter has red wave petunias and a very prolific white flower that I just love. 

The red planter has a some yellow lantana, white diamond dust, and a sun friendly version of lobelia. 

Finally the last planter has dusty miller which is the white-ish stalk in the middle, asparagus fern which is my favorite pot filler of all time, more red wave petunias and a different sun friendly lobelia.

The perfect little grouping of flower pots to welcome guests for the holiday.

The window box has more of the same flowers in it. 

Finally the back door gets a few more of the same flowers. 

I think our flowers are all ready for Independence Day. 

Friday, June 24, 2011

Mushroom (Sandwiches) - Part 2

My darling husband and I are going to to on a special date.  We are going out to sit on the dock all by ourselves.  The kids are getting pizza and a movie while we get some alone time to watch the sun go down and peace and quiet.  I am so excited I gave my toe nails a fresh coat of polish!  It's going to be so fun.

So, for our special date, I am making mushroom and goat cheese sandwiches, grilled asparagus, iced tea and strawberries for dessert.  Hubby is on a mushroom kick which is fine by me.  Today, I am going to show you how to make our favorite mushroom sandwiches.  This sandwich is so good.  It is filling and so full of flavor.  Each bite is a flavor explosion in your mouth.  Love that!

So, the board of ingredients is pretty simple.  I am using these nifty little sandwich rolls that hubby picked up at Costco, but you can use any bread you like.

I dug through the entire cheese chest at the grocery store to find the prettiest label.  Then my son used the log of goat cheese as a drum stick and wrinkled it all up!  (Do you have a teenage son that you sometimes feel like choking?  I do.  He is so lucky that I love him so much!)  Anyway, here's the goat cheese. 

Here is a close up of the bread hubby picked.  

Okay, to get started, slice the roll in half and toast it or grill it.  If you are using regular bread, then just them slap onto the grill or in the toaster.  We love grilled bread, but I was not wasting a moment of our time together on running back and forth from the grill.   

Now to make our goat cheese a little more user friendly.  I am using about two ounces for two big sandwiches. 

I am going to add lots of yummy things to the goat cheese now.  Some finely chopped green onion is so good.  I cut the green onion in half length wise.  Then each half gets cut again length wise.  Then you slice is width wise to get a finely chopped pile of green onion goodness.   

Add the lovely little green onion bits to the goat cheese. 

Next in are some finely chopped herbs.  I am using chives, sage, basil and thyme.  You can use whatever you like or you can skip this step altogether. 

A tiny pinch of salt and a regular sized pinch of pepper go into the bowl as well.

Finally some skim milk goes in.  The milk is going to thin out the goat cheese.  Start with a little bit of milk (about two tablespoons) and mix it in.  Keep adding milk a little bit at a time until you get the consistency you like.  I thin my mixture down to the viscosity of mayo.  Is mayo viscus?  I think it is.

I forgot to take a picture of the mixture.  Opps.  I'll take a picture next time I make it (tomorrow) and add it in.  :-) 

Now, onto the mushrooms.  See that stem in the middle of the mushroom?  We don't really want to eat that.  It can be woody and tough, so we are just going to grab it and rip right out of the mushroom cap or cut it down so that it does not go past the gills.  

Then flip the cap over.  Give it a drizzle of olive oil and massage in some salt and pepper. 

The mushroom will soak up all the oil as well as the flavor from the salt and pepper. 

Flip the mushroom again and give the gills some olive oil, salt and pepper love. Now your ready to cook this baby up. Here is the link for some cooking instructions.

Now, we have some beautifully toasted rolls waiting for some attention. 

I like to spread a thin layer of goat cheese on each half of the roll.  You can go with a thicker layer on one side if you want. 

This is fresh spinach from our garden.  You can add whatever extra topping you would like.  Provolone, a big slice of tomato, a few rings of red onion, regular lettuce...basically anything you would put on a regular burger is good on this sandwich.   

Then we add our juicy, flavorful mushroom.  I added a few sprigs of thyme to the pan while the mushroom was cooking, but you don't have to do that.

Mushroom love on a plate...or cutting board.  I have to run, cause my fella is waiting for me.  Enjoy!

So, lets recap.  Take some goat cheese.  Add some stuff to it that you like.  I have been known to serve this to my children with only a little pepper and salt added in.  Don't worry about getting to fancy.  Thin it all down with milk.  Stir it up.  Spread it on something toasted.  Eat it.  Love it. 

I am linking to Foodie Friday.