Friday, April 29, 2011

Food Network Magazine Review : May

I’m going to start with my overall review – Buy it! I reviewed April as a dud, but May certainly makes up for it.  This months issue is packed with so many party ideas, easy recipes, and 100 tips from amazing chefs.  I’d recommend you steal a few indulgent weekend hours, curled up in the spring time sun, with a glass of sage limeade (page 135) and devour this magazine.
The Best Feature:
100 Greatest Cooking Tips (of all time!) – This feature makes this issue a reader which I love!  The tips are from all of your favorite food network starts and other elite chefs.  They were all home cooks once too and they have some awesome ideas to share. 

Pages that are Keepers:
Page 20: An Avocado a Day – 31 different things to do with delicious avocados
Page 85: Mix & Match Quick Bread – the mix & match series is new this year in the magazine and are a great way to learn a recipe method, but completely make it your own
Page 119: Dressed Down – a collection of popular salad dressings made low calories and low fat, they include ranch, Italian, carrot-ginger, thousand island, and blue cheese.

Party Hits:
Page 91: Popcorn Cake – having an Oscar party? A party to watch old movie favorites? Or do you just like to save awesome and easy cake recipes for your future children’s birthday parties? This cake looks awesome and so easy!
Popcorn Cake

Page 45 & Page 125: Ice Cream Cake – this issue has two different ice cream cake recipes, bring on summer parties!  Ice Cream Crunch Cake and Chocolate-Banana Ice Cream Pie
Chocolate-Banana Ice Cream Pie
Page 131: Small Plate Party – there are recipes for all kinds of finger food that can all be done on the grill.  Have the girls over for wine in the back yard and grill up Baby Lamb Chops with Lemon, Asparagus with Garlic Dip, and SalmonRillettes with Tomato Salad.
Page 135: Granitaville – need an ice cold dessert for the backyard summer cookout with the girls? Freeze up this granite ahead of time and bring it out after dinner.
Page 142: Sangria! Make this crowd pleasing cocktail this summer in red, white, or rose.  I highly recommend you make this the day before!
I can’t wait to try:
Page 98: Salami-Mozzarella Calzone – a great calzone recipe is one that I would love to learn and keep in my arsenal because after it’s been mastered you can make countless changes just like pizza!  
Salami-Mozzarella Calzone
Page 106: Spinach and Ricotta Dumplings – I make these spinach ball appetizers all the time, I guess you could say it’s my signature party food.  These dumplings look like another fun way to get some spinach in our diets.
Page 127: Herb Soup with Crab – perfect for a dinner on a cool summer night.
Herb Soup with Crab
Page 147: Chiles Rellenos – I’m a little afraid these might be too spicy for me but I love trying new Mexican dishes on Tuesdays with Matt – we’ll try this one soon and let you know how they turn out.
Chiles Rellenos
I know I just threw a lot at you – I hope that’s proof that this issue rocks and you should pick it up at the grocery store this weekend!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Hoppy Thursday: Week 2

Week 2 : Growth
(Matt Shares this week!)
The hops are growing just as we expected. All four rhizomes have sprouted and begun to grow. We even needed to add a string Wednesday night for one of the Mt. Hoods. One problem we found as we transplanted last year was that the plants we very fragile. This year, since the hops grow so fast, we are considering trimming them back periodically so the stronger bases of the stems will flourish. This week we trimmed one down to the base on Tuesday and we will watch its progress to make sure this won’t kill the plants. It’s actually not looking too good so far.
Beer Recommendation:

This is one of my favorite beers, a definite go to that’s fairly easy to find, especially at a bar that may not carry craft beers. It’s a nice red beer with great flavor.
Buy it if: You want great flavor at a reasonable price.
Don’t buy it if: You’re looking for a craft beer not made by one of those “big corporate companies.” It’s made by Coors.
Buy it for: The guys that just helped you move into your new apartment. It’s great after work and shows that you care more than handing them a cheap beer but it is inexpensive.
Average Cost: $12/12pack

Friday, April 22, 2011

Earth Day : Shop Local

This year for Earth Day I’m celebrating by introducing you to some local crafters who incorporate sustainability in their business plan.  I reached out to local crafters through Etsy teams over the past few weeks to put this post together.  I’m featuring some amazing examples of sustainable handmade work as well as a list of ways local Etsians are being eco-friendly. 

Shopping handmade alone is an excellent way to reduce your carbon footprint.  Jess from Boston Handmade says “as independent creative business people we produce and sell art and craft work locally, and each operates from a small working environment as opposed to pollution spewing factories, reducing our carbon footprint and those of our customers.” And shopping local is even better; mail doesn't ship as far, and you are supporting the local economy.

Pansy Maiden: Laura is an artist based in Medford, MA who makes the most beautiful bags and they are all cruelty-free.  Laura’s definition of cruelty-free is not just leather – she believes any materials made with animal products are unsustainable so you also won’t see any wool or silk used in her bags.  I think this is a powerful business practice and would be honored to carry around one of her bags.  She also donates her fabric scraps to local art programs!

Savage Salvage: Stephanie, an artist from Connecticut calls herself a collector of treasures.  She loves finding unique items at flea markets and the jewelry collection at Savage Salvage is a way for her to put all of her finds to good use.  She upcycles what other might throw away to create statement jewelry.

Pearles Painting: Pearle is another artist who chooses to paint on things that are found rather than a brand new canvas.  She works on furniture frequently but recently painted a wood box from Trader Joe’s.  She did an amazing job turning what was cookie packaging into a useful piece of art.

Karen Hallion: Karen is an artist from Swampscott, MA.  In addition to illustrating, Karen upcycles something most of us throw out, the tops to Yankee Candles. 

These are some of the sustainable trends that I found in the handmade world and some local shops that incorporate them into their day to day business:

Re-use packing materials as either storage for supplies or shipping:
CMM Jewelry – Handmade bracelets, necklaces, earrings, and wine charms
Pepidesigns – Contemporary gemstone jewelry to make you stand out!  
Spygirl915 – Fine art
Cathydurso – Book art, bookbinding, and custom boxes

Saving paper by not printing invoices:
Seaglasspapercrafts – Handmade cards and papercrafted gifts   
Segparsons – Handmade bags   
Order recycled paper supplies:
Me! Miss MeghanElizabeth – Timeless jewelry for everyday 
Upcycle and repurpose old items:
FleaMarketGal – Jewelry and Paper Products – repurposed, upcycled, and vintage inspired  
StrayNotions – an eclectic mix of handmade and vintage goods  
ReclaimedToYou – Art, wearable’s, and paper goods

I really hope you enjoyed this post and that you continue to shop local and shop handmade.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Hoppy Thursday : Week One

In general, both my husband and I like to make things.  I love to craft and cook, and Matt loves to build and brew beer.  I also love to garden and try to grow things.  Key word being “try.”  Last year we tried to grow hops - one of the four main ingredients in a beer recipe.  It really isn’t hard, but we transplanted them too early and the frost killed all four plants.  I blame it on the unpredictable New England weather.  Hops are really fun to grow because you can literally watch it happen.  On average, hops grow about two inches a day.

We just planted our rhizomes this past weekend and we’ll share weekly photos during Hoppy Thursday of their progress.  And, to keep things fun, Matt will also being recommending a new beer each week within this post. 

Week One: Planting


To grow hops you start with a rhizome, a root cutting from a mature plant.  Rhizomes are only available for a short time each year, usually March and April so if the frost gets them you need to wait until the following year to try again.  It’s recommended to start them indoors where you can control light, temperature, and watering.  We’ve started ours in well-draining planter boxes with just two rhizomes in each.  We’ll keep light on them from 5am to 8pm each day and maintain damp soil.  Our goal is to keep them indoors until June 1st if they don’t get too big first.
We've planted two varieties this year. We’re growing Cascade hops because it’s used in many beer recipes, and we’re growing Mt. Hood because it’s just fun. Matt did all the planting this past Saturday and we already have lots of sprouts – check out this one that’s an inch tall already!
And our first Beer Recommendation:

A craft beer everyone can get their hands on: J.W.Dundee’s Honey Brown

Buy it if:  You’ve never tried a craft beer because you think their “heavy”
Don’t buy it if:  You won’t drink anything except Bud Light
Buy it for:  Your Memorial Day cook-out.  It’s easy to drink, flavorful, and your friends will be impressed if you’ve never ventured away from the thirty rack brands.

Average cost: is cheap! You should be able to find Honey Brown cases for under $12.00

We really hope you enjoyed our first Hoppy Thursday post – and that you’re already curious as to how big the hops will be next week!

And don't forget about the Giveaway! You have until 6PM EST today to enter!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Miss Meghan Elizabeth : Giveaway

Today is a big day for Miss Meghan Elizabeth - I'm participating in my first giveaway!  Hopefully you've heard about it - I participated in a styled photo shoot recently and I'm offering the winner their choice of any piece of jewelry I made for the shoot.  My friend Deb, the artist behind Deborah Zoe Photo is hosting the giveaway on her blog, so please visit to find out the three things you need to do to enter (one of them is to like my facebook page.) The giveaway starts today and ends Thursday so hop to it!
Check out the choices!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Giveaway Preview!

I told you a few weeks ago about an incredible opportunity I had to participate in a styled photo shoot with Deborah Zoe Photo.  Well the photos are up on her blog! They are incredible - I encourage you to check them out.

And the Giveaway - Deb is hosting a giveaway of any piece of jewelry I made for the shoot.  Check back tomorrow for how to enter!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Marathon Monday : Celebrate Handmade

Boston is a city rich in history, a huge reason why I love it so much.  This Monday we get to celebrate one of our most historic events, the 115th running of the Boston Marathon. 

To celebrate I found some awesome Marathon items from Etsy sellers.  I reached out to them last week to see if I could include their items in this post and I came to find out two of them are running!  How awesome is that?!?!

Heather from shinybitsjewelry created this hand carved block print to commemorate running the Boston Marathon.  It lists each town that she’ll run through.  Yes, you read that correctly; Heather is one of our Etsy sellers running! Wish her luck!
Boston Print- in honor of the Marathon

I absolutely love this shirt from FiredaughterClothing.  It’s such a great way to show you ran 26.2 in 617 (617 is Boston’s area code.)  Samya is the artist behind this amazing clothing line and she’s also running!  Wish Samya some luck as this is her first Boston Marathon and to quote her “I’m jumping out of my skin, I’m so ready!” 
BOSTON Marathon Oh Yeeeeaah Burnout Baseball Tee

I also found this a beautiful runner’s pendant from Jessica’sGifts.  Jessica can also add another disk to the pendant customized with the date and time you ran your marathon.  She say’s “this is a fun way to let people know you’re a runner without lugging around your race medals.”  Jessica’s not running in Boston this weekend, but I checked out her event schedule on her website and she ran a marathon Sunday the 17th in Ohio. 
Boston Marathon – Runners Charm

You ladies rock! Congrats to all on a Marathon this weekend.  I may not be marathon ready but I still like to challenge myself.  Sunday morning my husband and I ran the B.A.A 5K and we got to cross the finish line of the Boston Marathon! Even if I never run the Boston Marathon; I am proud to participate in a small piece of this tradition that makes Boston so great.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Quick Dinner x2 : Pulled BBQ Chicken

I can spend an entire Sunday curled up on the couch with a cup of coffee and watch the Food Network.  I don’t watch Ellie Krieger very often but I’m glad I did to see her make these BBQ Pulled Chicken sandwiches.  They have become a staple in the Kearney household and I have an awesome left over meal to share with you too!
The original recipe is available online.  What’s below has some of my very minor tweaks.

Pulled BBQ Chicken Sandwiches
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14-ounce) can low-sodium tomato sauce
1/4 cup tomato paste (I just use a small can)
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup and 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
5 tablespoons molasses
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
1 whole rotisserie chicken, skin removed, meat shredded into thin strips (about 4 to 4 1/2 cups)
6 whole-wheat hamburger rolls
1 cup baby arugula
1 lime

Heat the oil in a large saute pan over a medium heat. Add the onions and cook until they are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, water, vinegar, molasses, pepper and liquid smoke and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes. Add chopped chicken, return to a simmer, and cook an additional 10 minutes.

While the chicken is simmering, prepare the baby arugula salad by tossing 1 cup of arugula with the juice from half a lime, 1 tsp. of apple cider vinegar and some pepper.

Split rolls, pile on the chicken mixture and arugula salad and enjoy.

Ellie’s recipe Per Serving: (my minor tweaks shouldn’t affect any of this.
Calories 440; Total Fat 12 g; (Sat Fat 2.5 g, Mono Fat 5 g, Poly Fat 3.5 g) ; Protein 36 g; Carb 47 g; Fiber 5 g; Cholesterol 95 mg; Sodium 400 mg

This usually lasts Matt and me two nights of sandwiches and one super left over meal….

Pulled BBQ Chicken Pizza!
1 ½ cups of BBQ chicken mixture from above
1 pizza crust (we like to use whole wheat
1 ½ cups fresh mozzarella
1 cup of more baby arugula salad (toss arugula with the juice from half a lime, 1 tsp. of apple cider vinegar and pepper)

Follow the directions on the pizza crust for the oven temperature and cook time.  Top the crust with the chicken mixture then the cheese and bake.  When the pizza is done top with the arugula salad just before serving.  I think I like this better than the sandwiches!

This recipe is easy to double if you need more.  It’s also a great things to keep warn in a slow cooker.  You can also make and bottle just the sauce for any other BBQ recipe.  I hope you enjoy this one as much as me.  Bon Appetite.   

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Shop Handmade : Mother's Day

I'm announcing Mother's Day now because Etsy is the perfect shopping venue for this holiday and you should get your orders in soon!
If you're a mom out there reading, what do you want most for Mother's Day? (Other than some peace and quite.)  And daughters and sons, what are you planning to show your mom how awesome she is?

These are some of my top picks from some of my favorite Etsy Shops - and all of these items come from New England. 

If your Mom's ideal mother's day involves sleeping in, taking a long bath, and getting her nails done then consider a bar of herbal Peppermit Rosemary Homemade Soap by DeShawnMarie. DeShawn makes the most beautiful soaps, in fact you should get two; one to look at and one to use!
Peppermint Rosemary Vegan Handmade Soap

If your Mom's idea mother's day is cooking her way through her latest Food Network Magazine then you should check out this Set of Two Organic Linen Tea Towels from madder root.  Christina and Janyce handprint unique designs on organic linen.  I've personally been eyeing the Mussel Tea Towel set - they scream New England!
Maine-made . hand-printed . organic

Or, is your Mom the kind of women who simply appreciates an impeccably made card for Mother's day? This Bold Butterflies Handmade Card is made in Massachusetts by Seaglass Papercrafts and it's a perfect way to say I love you.  You can check out more of Christina's creations on her Blog!

Bold Butterflies Handmade Card

Last but not least is a shameless promotion.  If you're looking for a special piece of jewelry please take some time to check out my shop. I'm offering a 20% discount to blog followers, Etsy teammates, and facebook friends. Use coupon code: ILOVEMYMOM2011
Stay tuned for a very special Mother's Day post in a few weeks about my crafting hero!

Monday, April 11, 2011

About Meg : The Boston Red Sox

April is here and Red Sox season has officially started.  I'm not a typical die hard like the majority of the Red Sox Nation population.  Yes, I stay updated with new player picks in the off season, I tell myself every year I'm, going to Ft. Meyers for spring training (haven't actually gone,) and I wish I could afford tickets to sit on the green monster. 

I'm a fan because Sox season means I have twelve date night lined up over the next six months with my husband.  Matt and I buy cheap tickets, at least one each month of the regular season.  We meet up in the city after work, get burgers and beer at our favorite pub, and get to relax, chat, and enjoy the fresh air and the energy of Fenway Park.  I can't think of a better date then one with the Red Sox and Matt.
Matt and I at the NYY game this past Saturday
Now we need some more "W"s

Friday, April 8, 2011

Up Coming : A Styled Photo Shoot

A few weeks ago a friend of mine who is a wedding photographer approached me to help her and some other wedding vendors with a styled photo shoot.  I jumped at the opportunity.  Deb isn’t just any friend.  She is the amazing photographer behind Deborah Zoe Photo who took a leap of faith this year taking her photography business full time; she’s climbing to the top fast!  I truly admire her success and ambition.  I also have to believe that she surrounds herself with equally creative and successful vendors and they asked for my help!
The theme for the photo shoot is romance, girlie, and ballet.  Think light pinks, lots of tulle, ruffles, and lace.  They’ve asked me to make jewelry around these themes for the model to wear.
I worked over the past week and weekend on a few special pieces just for the shoot.  I put the sparkle in the Swarovski earrings, the romance in the creamy rose quartz hand knotted necklace, and the girlie in a strand of pink pearls.
One item I took on while exploring the design possibilities of the theme is an embellished bib necklace.  I know these necklaces are “in” but I’ve never actually seen someone wearing one.  This was fun to make and brought in both beaded and textile elements.  What do you think?
Well, this was the sneak peak, there will be tone of photos when it’s finished.  Also, stay tuned because there will be a giveaway of any one of these pieces from the shoot later this month. 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Food Network Magazine Review : April

I’m obsessed with Food Network magazine.  Although, I don’t read any other food magazines so this is a completely bias opinion.  This magazine has become my go to cook “book.”  Each month after devouring all the stories and recipes (no, I don’t try them all,) I pull out the things I like and collect them in a big binder.  As part of my blog features, I’m going to review each month’s issue.  I’ll let you know what’s good, what’s not good, fun things I learn, and if you should buy that issue or not.

April 2011

Husband Approved:
Glazed Salmon with Spiced Carrots – This recipe is a winner because A) I’m always looking for new ways to do fish, B) its a great excuse to get agave nectar for your pantry and C) I got Matt to eat carrots.
My edits (I make edits sometimes to make things easier or cheaper)
  • None – this recipe works for me.  As an added bonus I got to use my mandolin to cut the carrots.  I also suggest freezing the extra fresh mint.  Chop the extra up and stuff it into an ice cube tray, fill the voids with water and freeze.  After they are set you can put them in a labeled zip lock bag.  You can defrost it later and mix it with honey and fresh fruit.  Or crush the frozen cubes for mojitos!

Haven’t Tried yet:
Barley Risotto on page 84 – I couldn’t find quick cooking barley
Can someone help me out?  I’ve always wanted to cook with barley because it’s one of the four main ingredients in beer and I love making risotto
My edits
§       I’m going to make this with regular barley (takes an extra 30 minutes!)
§       Swap suggested mushrooms for baby bellas – I need a meatier mushroom
§       Eliminate the fresh rosemary.  I eliminate fresh herbs often because they’re expensive.
§       No ham steak.  I’ve never bought this before and I’m not going to start now.
Let me know if you want the results after I make this over the weekend!

Pages that are Keepers:

10 Minute Desserts - Starting on page 90 there are over a dozen 10 minute desserts.  These ideas could come in handy when you have someone over for dinner, or need a way to use up the last of some fresh fruit. I’m going to save the pear and blue cheese for a wine party and I’m definitely going to try the microwave chocolate cake.  This idea is way cheaper than those warm delight things.

Coloring Easter Eggs - You can’t have Easter without dying eggs.  Forget all the weird stuff they used as dye in this feature on page 130 (now and laters, red hots, blue berries.)  I just think this is a great way to use that rainbow of Jell-O packets you got on sale.  Or, if you’re going for a fancy adult monotone look, maybe that old red wine you didn’t finish will work.

The Best Feature:

A Dozen Ways to do Deviled Eggs - this is one to keep in your back pocket for your upcoming summer cookout at you grandma’s house.  I haven’t tried any yet, but I am going straight for the lobster deviled eggs this 4th of July.

I wouldn’t by this one.  Compared to other issues it’s a dud unless you're a deviled egg queen.  No worries though if you’re a subscriber, most issues are eggcellent and the May issue should be a great one – stay tuned for the review.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Jewelry Design : How I Got Started

The jewelry I make has come a long way since I was little. In elementary school I made necklaces from friendly plastic at girl scouts. In middle school and high school I made more hemp necklaces than you can count. In college and after graduation I began making myself beaded pieces. One Christmas I bought a scrabble tile pendant kit and made necklaces as gifts for my friends. I finally started honing my skills when I prepared for my wedding and made a collection of necklaces for all of my bridesmaids.

The turning point that made me realize that I want to design my own jewelry for others to wear was my wedding ring.

I got to pick out my own engagement ring; Matt didn’t trust himself knowing the passion I have for classic jewelry. I wanted something styled from the 1920’s and I wanted flowers. I was able to find both in a ring made by Whitehouse Brothers. The only change we made to the one at the jeweler was swapping out the accent diamonds for sapphires. (Sapphires are extremely common in 1920’s wedding jewelry) When it came time to pick out our wedding bands – I did not like the one Whitehouse Brothers offers to match the engagement ring – so I researched designers I could work with to develop my own.

 I found Bostonian Jewelers in the Jewelers’ Exchange on Washington Street in Boston. I worked with Alexandria and her husband and we started with a photocopy of my engagement ring, a piece of paper, and a pencil. What came out of that design session is the most beautiful piece of jewelry I’ll ever own. We matched the stippling from the engagement ring to the outside of the wedding band, and took the flower on the engagement ring and had it engraved in a swirling pattern all around the ring. Not only is this my wedding band – the most meaningful piece of jewelry I’ll ever own – but it’s my design – in platinum.

To take this post full circle, I would like you to take a look at my designs since the big wedding ring project. (click here to visit my shop) My taste keeps evolving and my skills keep improving.
Please come back to this post after you have a chance to look around and let me know which one is your favorite.  I’d really appreciate it, thanks!

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