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Archive for March, 2014

Nashville, Tennessee is one of our favorite places to visit for a day or weekend trip.  C & I were having a little cabin fever a couple of weeks ago so we took off for parts south one Saturday.  The original reason for our trip was to go to the Apple Store at the Mall at Green Hills and I tacked on a few other destinations in the same mall.  You got to make your trips count, don’t you know?

We also visited the Green Hills branch of the Nashville Public Library because we such huge NERDS!  There is a very good reason we did that, but that’s for another post.  The library was very pretty inside and out.  They have a pretty fountain at the entrance and a walking path with a statue.

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I have to admit we found the statue a little creepy.  It is a little freaky to sit there and have the “old man” staring at you.  Anywho, since we were out to have a little fun, I decided to search for a new restaurant to try in the area and kept coming back to Table 3 which is a French bistro right next to the mall.  What a success! 

The ambience was great and the food was even better.  One of the specials that day was pork chili and I really hesitated because I thought my mind was made up to try the French dip.  I decided to forgo the chili and go with my first instinct.  Of course, C had the cheeseburger and "pommes frites”.  (C’s statement to me: I just want fries with my burger.  My statement to him:  Pommes frites is fancy French for fries.  You’ll be just fine.)

I went with the baby green salad with my sandwich and I was so glad I did.  It was all so tasty.  Enough with all the words.  Here are the pics:

I think C’s look says it all:  Can we just eat already?

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After this, we hit the mall and there were so many stores that I wanted to check out.  There are some stores that just don’t exist in Kentucky.  Restoration Hardware was my first stop and the look is amazing, but the prices are ridiculous!!!  One bathroom cabinet (that wasn’t even solid wood) was $2100.00!  Um, no thank you and I promise not to break anything while I am here.  It was neat to see the set-up, but, in my opinion, their wares are way overpriced

C & I finally made it to the Apple Store and it was a madhouse.  The service was prompt and friendly and C’s errand didn’t take long at all.  After the mall experience, I braved the traffic and made it to Anthropologie.  This was another store that I had heard so much about and wanted badly to be impressed.  They do have some neat things and I can see how food bloggers would go crazy over their selection, but, again, the prices were just a little too high to justify my purchasing things there.  They also some kind of weird air freshener or candle burning which didn’t set well with C or my allergies.

We had a great time and I told C that we just experienced how the “other half” live since this is a swanky and well-off area of Nashville.  I mean, I got behind a Maserati in traffic, for Pete’s sake!  I think I’ll keep my Chevy.

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Who has an awesome DSLR, but still doesn’t really know how to use it to its best advantage?  That would be me!  I have always wanted to take an in-depth photography class, but there just isn’t many offered in my area so when Crafty Wife started The Photo Ladies group for us DSLR novices, I jumped at the chance.  Where can you get tons of good information and challenging lessons for free? 

Crafty Wife is using classes from nobadfoto.com and the first one is on aperture.  If you are like me and you’re really not sure what aperture is, here is their definition:

“Aperture: the size of the opening in the lens when a photo is taken. The opening controls how much light can enter your camera at once.”

There was so much great information in just this first lesson that I can’t wait for the rest!  The first challenge is to pick a stable object (I used a plant) and take three photos of the Aperture Priority Mode on your camera.  That means you control the aperture setting and the camera controls the shutter speed.  The ISO is set to 1600 for all of the photos below.

First up is the lowest number aperture setting on my camera with the prime lens which is 3.5, exposure time is 1/640, and ISO is 1600.

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Notice how the plant is in sharp focus, but the wooden table is not.  That is called a shallow depth of field where the closest object is clear, but the background is not.

Next is the same photo with an aperture setting of 9, the exposure time is 1/100, and the ISO is 1600.

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Now the grain of the wood is much more in focus and the colors are also a little more intense. 

Last is the highest number aperture setting for my lens and it is 22.  The exposure time is 1/15 and the ISO is 1600.

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This photo has the largest depth of field with all objects being in focus, including the curtain in the very back right corner.

I was so surprised how much difference the aperture makes.  I had been focusing more on shutter speed (exposure time) and the ISO.  Thanks, Crafty Wife and nobadfoto.com for this great lesson.  Can’t wait for the next one!

You can check out The Photo Ladies Flickr page here.

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Have you visited Plain Chicken yet?  No, well, as soon as you are done here, get yourself on over to their place.  Their recipes are amazing and I have loved every one of them I have tried.  This is another success.  They call it One Pot Baked Ziti, but since I didn’t have any ziti noodles, mine is Baked Rotini instead.

I also used 2 dishes for mine since I was travelling with it so I guess that makes mine TWO Pots Baked Rotini.  No matter what you call it, it is still DELICIOUS!

One Pot Baked Rotini

1 lb. Italian sausage

1 tbsp. minced onion flakes

4 cloves garlic, minced

28 oz. can crushed tomatoes

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

2 tsp. Italian seasoning

2 cups water

12 oz. rotini (or pasta of your choice)

1/2 cup ricotta cheese

1/3 cup heavy cream

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

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Cook the Italian sausage over medium heat in an oven safe pan until brown.  Drain off the fat.  Add the onion flakes and garlic.  Cook for about a minute until the garlic becomes fragrant.  Stir in the tomatoes, salt, red pepper flakes, and Italian seasoning.

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Add the water and pasta.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and cover the skillet. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until the pasta is cooked.

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Remove the skillet from the heat and add the ricotta cheese and cream.  Cook on low for 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat again and add the mozzarella cheese.  Broil in the oven just until the cheese is melted.  This is awesome served with a big salad and garlic bread.

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One Pot Baked Rotini

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Who doesn’t love a good adventure story?  I have gotten hooked on Steve Berry’s Cotton Malone series and can’t wait to get to the next one.  Today, I am bringing you the first lines to The Paris Vendetta:

GIZA PLATEAU, EGYPT
AUGUST 1799

General Napoleon Bonaparte dismounted from his horse and stared up at the pyramid.  Two more lay in succession nearby, but this was the grandest of the three.

I really enjoy how Mr. Berry intertwines actual historical facts with historical myths and completely fiction writing.  Every time I read one of these books, I have to have Google Images on a screen nearby to look up all of the places Cotton travels to.  This book was great fun!

Please join me at Rose City Reader for Book Beginnings today.

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Well, folks, there is light at then end of the tunnel.  We have had warmer temperatures and sunshine finally in the last few days.  What a change from last Monday and Tuesday when we were being bombarded with this:

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I am so glad to see all of that mess gone!  I was so inspired by the warmer weather that I started a few seeds on Saturday.  Our breakfast table is now temporarily a gardening table.

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We have a couple of fun things going on this week so I am keeping the menu on the simple side.  Our local library is having a photography class one evening and I am excited about that.  Then the second annual Kentucky Green Living Fair is next weekend in Somerset and we can’t wait!  Last year’s fair was so much fun and informational so I expect this year will be even better.  If you are in the area, come and check it out.

I am including one new recipe to try if time permits.  Have a great week!

Chili/Vegetable soup (I have lots in the freezer that needs to be eaten.)

Southern Plate’s Deep Dish Pizza with fresh fruit

Tacos with salad

Panko Pork Chops (new) with oven baked fries and salad

Baked ziti with cheesy bread

Join me and so many other talented bloggers for Menu Plan Monday hosted by I’m An Organizing Junkie.

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Who doesn’t love a tender pork chop smothered in a tasty sauce?  No one that I know!  Real Mom Kitchen has found anyone either so she posted this delicious and simple recipe on her blog.  I can’t recommend this enough!

Fall Apart Pork Chops

6 bone-in pork chops

garlic salt to taste

black pepper to taste

1 bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce (I used Kroger honey BBQ sauce.)

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(I didn’t have garlic salt so I Just used garlic powder and salt separately.) Preheat your oven to 300 degrees and spray a 13×9” baking dish with non-stick spray. 

Season the chops on both sides with the salt, pepper & garlic powder.  Place the chops in the baking dish no more that 2 chops high.  Pour the sauce over the chops making sure all of them are covered in sauce.

Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake for 3 to 3 1/2 hours.  You will know that they are done because they will literally fall off the bone.  Yumm!!!

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Friday Brain Dump

How’s that for a title?  I think this winter weather is seriously affecting my mental capabilities, because I have had tons of post ideas swirling in my head this week but I can’t seem to put pen to paper so to speak.  So here goes nothing…please forgive the randomness.  I blame it on this:

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That’s right, we had another winter storm last Sunday night with about a quarter inch of ice with 4 inches of snow on top of it.  Oh, joy.  As you can tell, the wind blew and piled the snow up to our back door so it has been pretty much useless up to today.  Sure, it’s pretty, but one can only take so much of this.  We actually got a “snow day” from work on Monday and that is RARE!  Here are a few shots from Monday:

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At least the dogs enjoyed it.

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C & I slipped and slid our way to work on Tuesday, but the roads were still messy.  I felt so sorry for the road crew workers, because they were doing their best. I feel like I need to put a disclaimer on these photos.  I was riding shotgun and taking these the whole way to town.

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Thankfully the temperatures are getting warmer every day so hopefully this won’t last much longer.  On another note, I had my first root canal yesterday and it actually wasn’t bad at all.  In the last 4 or 5 months, I have had a filling replaced, a crown, and now a root canal with a crown coming up for this tooth.  I think my teeth started falling apart the minute I turned forty. 

I can’t complain though since my “problem” was easily fixed and I have been very blessed with good health. There are so many people that aren’t so fortunate.  On that note,  I want to send out a special request to all of my readers.  A little 5 year old boy, whose parents are originally from my area, has been diagnosed this week with Stage 4 Birkett’s Lymphoma.  I ask you to please pray for him and his family.  The doctors say that this is a treatable disease, but he will probably have chemo treatments for at least a year.  He is a precious looking little boy who doesn’t deserve this.  Check out his Facebook page here.

Speaking of prayer, this week was the beginning of the Lent season leading up to Easter.  As a Christian, I find the Easter holiday just as inspiring and important as the Christmas season, maybe more so.  Since the protestant faith doesn’t do quite as much for Lent as the Catholic faith does, I am not really “giving up” anything except a little more of my time every day to Bible study and prayer.  The Bible app on my phone and iPad has 3 different Lent reading plans and I am going to try to study through all three.  Why don’t you join me?

Shew, I think my mind feels a little clearer now.  Oh, no, wait…there is one more story to tell about our trip to Nashville last weekend, but that might have to wait for another post.  Have a great weekend, everyone and thanks for plowing through my untamed thoughts!

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