Monday, May 24, 2010

Progress on the Deck

This is one of the fabulous planter boxes my hubby built for me. Or, rather, for the kids. I told them they could have their own garden with herbs and veggies. I may be more excited than them, but not by much!

We (me direct, hubby do) piled all the nasty clay-dirt in the bottom of the planter to take up space, then nailed in landscaping fabric to keep the weeds out. Up next: fill the planters with dirt (sorry, Mom, soil) and let the kids help with the planting. Can't wait for garden fresh veggies and herbs!!

Here is the planter box on the left side of the steps. The wood covered box in the top left of the photo is the sandbox. Another "we" project. You know what I mean.

The planter on the right is much taller. Hubby put rocks in the bottom to take up space. The only part missing is the top ledge that go on this coming weekend.

View of the new wraparound steps! I am in love with these!! Maybe even more than the super loverly weather we've been having! :)

How was your weekend?

Best Ever Homemade Salty Breadsticks

I don't usually eat bread (or buns, etc.) with dinner. UNLESS, they happen to be my salty breadsticks - so perfect for dipping in soups or stews and equally as wonderful for mopping up pasta sauce! Swoon!! I have been making these since I was a teenager...

INGREDIENTS (makes about 18 sticks)
1/4 cup butter
1-1/4 cups all purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder (sometimes I throw in a little extra!)
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup milk
sea salt / coarse salt

Heat oven to 450 degress F. Melt butter in 9x9 glass pan.

Use a fork to mix all dry ingredients (except sea salt) together in glass or plastic bowl. This should not take more than 40 strokes (if you want to count!), so look for it to come away from the sides of the bowl and cling together.

Sprinkle flour on your flat surface. I generally just use my bare counter since it wipes up quite easily. Dump out the dough, sprinkle it with flour, and knead lightly about 10 times. You want the dough to lose its stickiness and become elastic.

Get your sweet lil kitchen helper to roll out the dough. (I like to use a marble rolling pin because of its cold temperature.) Roll out the dough to a circle about 10-12 inches in diameter. It should be about 1/2 - 3/4 of an inch in thickness.

Using a sharp cutting knife, cut the dough in strips and then down the centre. The dough will be sticky on the cut edges so you will want to work quickly now. Prop up your pan on one side so the melted butter pools at one end. Submerge a piece of dough in the butter, turning to coat on all sides. Place the dough at the opposite side of the pan as the butter. Repeat until all dough is coated in butter. You may need to tilt the pan to evenly redistribute any remaining melted butter throughout. Sprinkle your sea salt (or coarse salt) over the dough and pop it into the oven.

And 15-18 minutes later, you should have a wonderfully golden brown pan of goodness. See the butter bubbling in there?!? That is some kind of wonderful, right there! I like to let the breadsticks sit for a minute, and then I turn them over so any little bits of salt or butter can soak into the top. Serve immediately.

Baking Tip: Using an herb-infused sea salt on the top before baking is super fabulous! I made my own by covering fresh herbs completely in sea salt and letting it sit for a month or so. My fave salt flavours for these breadsticks are rosemary and thyme. Enjoy!! :)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

OMG on GG - Gossip Girl Season 3 Finale Spoilers

Gossip Girl = my guilty pleasure! Just watched the Gossip Girl Season 3 Finale and here is the rundown for those of you who don't get it til Monday! (If you don't want spoilers, avert your eyes!!)

By Character:

Blair - tells Dorota to keep her away from the Empire State Building; goes out on another date with college-boy but detours in the middle of it to tell Jenny off; sees the Empire State Building everywhere she goes it seems; is with Dorota when she goes into labour; is in the hospital room when Dorota tells her to go see Chuck which she does; is too late arriving and Chuck is gone, but finds the pink peonies in the garbage on the observation deck; goes over to Chuck's hotel to see him (beware of Little J in the bedroom, Blair!) and they make up over a kiss, hug, and drink. Blair and Chuck head to the hospital to see Dorota and baby, and Chuck starts to propose to Blair. She finds out about Chuck and Jenny. Blair decides to go to Paris for the summer and she convinces Serena to tag along.

Chuck - tells Blair that her last chance is to meet him at the top of the Empire State Building (a la An Affair to Remember) and tells her that at 7:01, he is closing his heart to her if she doesn't show; is found drinking in the dark by Jenny; sleeps with Jenny (oh Chuck, why did you have to do that?!?!?!?); is overjoyed to have Blair back; goes to the hospital to see Dorota's baby, but doesn't make it up to the room. Starts to propose to Blair, "Will you...", with velvet box in hand. He gets interrupted/punched by Dan, tears from Jenny, and heartbroken looks from Blair. He tries to explain that he thought Blair didn't love him anymore when she didn't show up at the Empire State Building. Later that night, he is drunk coming out of a club, gets mugged by two guys, and is shot trying to protect the box with the engagement ring. Final scene is Chuck on the street laying in blood.

Dan - wakes up next to Serena in his bed at the loft and a reference is made to them kissing (we don't see it); he doesn't tell Vanessa about it since she doesn't get the blast in Haiti where she is currently working; almost kisses Serena in the hospital; says he likes babies; punches Chuck after Jenny tells him what happened; gets on the AirFrance website to book a plane ticket to Paris; is apparently going to be a dad (see Georgina); sees Jenny off at the train station. I was actually impressed with the force of the punch he threw at Chuck lol!!

Dorota - has to go on Blair's date with her in order to keep Blair away from the Empire State Building; goes into labour on Blair's date; has adorable baby girl; asks Cyrus and Eleanor to be the godparents. She has a mini heart-to-heart with Blair about Chuck, advising Blair to really search down deep in her heart.

Eric - tells Rufus and Lily that Jenny has hurt too many people and that she needs to go away before it gets worse; reaches out to Jenny when he finds her in the hospital chapel crying; tells Dan to go talk to his sister; is involved in the time jump (see Jenny).

Georgina - (always in a huge fur coat) first shows up at Chuck's place and is immediately shown out (blonde wig); follows Eleanor and Cyrus to the hospital and asks Blair for help - big fat NO there (blonde wig); shows up in Brooklyn and finds Dan at the apartment. Has her normal brown hair. Dan asks her what she is doing there, and Georgina responds by taking off her coat (huge preggo belly!) and telling Dan, "it looks just like Daddy" - ultrasound pictures. She smiles and Dan is speechless!

Jenny - finds Dan and Serena in bed together (fully clothed) at the apartment, snaps a pic, and sends it to Gossip Girl; Blair arrives at the apartment to give her a tongue lashing after the blast goes out; Rufus tells Jenny that she will be going to live with her mother for the summer and the next school year - an announcement Jenny is not happy with at all. She says she has nothing but the city and without it, she has nothing. She sleeps with Chuck, almost lets Blair know, and cries about it afterward in the hospital chapel. Mini time jump involves Jenny, Rufus, Lily, Dan, and Eric (one week later) as they all see Jenny off at Grand Central Station. Good tears and lots of love there; no attitude.

Lily - told by Eric to send Jenny away; comes into the hospital lobby after Dan punched Chuck; seen leading Jenny away from group with Rufus; involved in the time jump (see Jenny).

Nate - finds out about Serena via Gossip Girl blast; accepts Serena's apology ("nothing happened" and determines to work on their relationship; has sleepover with Jenny (actually nothing happens unlike Serena and Dan ahem); finds out about the kiss when he overhears Serena and Dan talking about it at the hospital; Serena breaks up with him but calls it a break; he is mad about it. Nate is part of a threesome (with two unknown girls) after Chuck leaves him his little black book.

Rufus - told by Eric to send Jenny away; goes to apartment with Dan to tell Jenny she will be moving to her mother's house; comes into the hospital lobby after Dan punched Chuck; seen leading Jenny away from group with Lily; involved in the time jump (see Jenny).

Serena - kisses Dan (which we don't see) and is in bed with him pants-less. She and Dan decide not to tell anyone but since Jenny sends the pic of them together sleeping, that forces her to talk to Nate. She swears to Nate that nothing happened at all (uh, you kissed Dan!!), and that she really wants things to go back to normal with them and he agrees. Serena almost kisses Dan in the waiting room at the hospital, and is seen with him looking at all the babies in the nursery. She finds a teary-eyed Blair in the hospital lobby after the blowup. She tells Nate that she wants to take a break (but not a break up) and that she wants to work on herself. She decides to go to Paris with Blair for the summer.

Extra Spoilers: Cyrus and Eleanor are on their way to Paris for the summer, but after seeing Dorota's baby girl and being asked to be her godmother, they decide to stay in NYC instead.

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