Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Perfect Summer Beer Cocktail

 Have you noticed how popular beer mixers & beer cocktails have become recently?  One restaurant near us has a fantastic variety on their menu of beer cocktails.  The one I'm sharing here became a favorite of mine the first time I tried it last summer - it is the perfect cocktail to enjoy on a warm summer day.
Big thanks to sister who keeps the DKU Lakehouse fully stocked with St. Germain and provided it for this cocktail. Have you tried it?  It is a delicious elderflower liquor that's easy to use in so many different cocktails. 
The Perfect Summer Beer Cocktail
 For each cocktail, you will need:
- 1 bottle of Stella Artois Beer
- 1 shot of St. Germain
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
- lemon wedge, for garnish
Add lemon juice and St Germain to glass; pour Stella into glass.  Use a cocktail stir stick to gently stir and combine.  Add lemon wedge for garnish to the side of the glass.  Now, sit back and enjoy.  Cheers!

 I couldn't resist including a photo of the begonia I have in our screen porch.  Isn't it gorgeous?

Sunday, June 14, 2015

No Cook Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta Sauce

This pasta is so quick and easy - you're going to love it.  Perfect for hot summer days when you don't feel like slaving over the stove. 

I used orecchiette pasta for this recipe because it's one of my favorite shapes of pasta for holding sauce.  Also, it means "little ear" in Italian, which is adorable, don't you think?

{ Recipe adapted from one of my favorite food blogs,  The Italian Dish. }

- 1 lb of your favorite pasta
- 1/2 cup of Parmesan-Reggiano cheeses, chopped into chunks
- 8 oz jar of sun dried tomatos packed in oil (do not drain)
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 large handful of fresh basil leaves
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (less if you don't like the spice)
- salt, to taste
- 1/2 cup reserved pasta water

1.  Bring a pot of water to boil.  Add pasta and cook according to package directions.  Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of water, and set aside.

2.  Meanwhile, prepare the sauce.  Add cheese to food processor or blender and process until it is coarsely ground.  Add tomatoes, garlic, basil, pepper, salt, and reserved pasta water.  Process until sauce is combined and almost smooth.

3.  Toss with pasta and enjoy!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Gingham Baby Quilt

Happy Friday!  Are you glad the weekend is almost here?  I sure am!
I made this quilt earlier this Spring for a friend who had a baby girl.  I made a quilt for her first baby ( see it here ) when she was pregnant and made it gender neutral since she didn't find out what she was having.  This time, I waited until the baby was born.  I'm glad I did - I was able to go all out and make it super girly!
Sewing for babies is one of my most favorite things.  The items are small, and the best part - babies don't notice your mistakes! 
I adore this tulip fabric.  I found it at my local fabric store during Tulip Time. I thought it was the perfect backing for the pink gingham front. 
This quilt was easy to sew and would be a perfect quilt for beginners.  I am working on a tutorial and hope to have it up in a few weeks.
Happy weekend!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Easy DIY Raised Garden Bed Tutorial

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen the photos I posted of the raised garden beds I built a few weeks ago.  They were so easy to build and I absolutely love how they turned out!  

A Few Notes:
1.  The finished size of my beds is 3'x6'.  This was a manageable size for me since the space where the beds are located is very narrow and I can only access each bed from one size.
2.  I used cedar lumber for my beds.  You don't want to use any treated wood because you don't want the chemicals to leach out into your soil  and into your vegetable garden.
3.  We live on a dune so the area where the beds are located is all sand.  Because of this, I decided to build the beds 18" deep so I could get in lots of good soil and nutrients for the plants.  If you will be placing your beds on an area with soil, you could build them 12" high.  I've even seen beds as low as 6" or 8".
4.  In the materials list, I am only listing enough materials for one bed.  Multiply quantity of supplies by how many beds you would like to build.
5.  Each bed cost around $100 to build (cedar isn't cheap!).
6.  I bought all my lumber at Home Depot and they cut all my boards to size for me (Big shout-out to Erik at the Grandville, MI Home Depot who probably spent 2 hours with me!).  I can't recommend this enough!  The project would have taken me so much longer if I had to measure and cut myself.

Supply List:
- (4) cedar 4x4's cut to 18" high.
- (6) 5/4" x 6" cedar boards cut to 6' (I bought 12' boards and had them cut to 6')
- (2) 5/4" x 6" cedar boards cut to 18" (These will be used for the intermediate supports)
- Deckmate screws (very important, you don't wan't your screws to rust).  I used the #9 x 3 in size for screwing into the 4x4's and 8 x 1-5/8" for screwing into the intermediate support boards.
- Drill (I used my Dad's trusty Makita and it worked great).

Easy DIY Raised Garden Bed Tutorial:
1.  Lay out two of your 18" 4x4's on a flat, level surface.  Next, lay 3 of your 6' boards on top of the 4x4's, making sure to align the edges with the 4x4's along the sides and the top edge.  Because the 5/4 x 6" boards aren't truly 6" high, you will have a small amount of your 4x4's at the bottom.  I thought this was OK because it makes a nice base for the beds.  Screw in all boards into the 4x4's.  I used two screws at each end of the 6' boards.

2.  Repeat with the boards you need for the other 6' side of the bed.  Since I made 4 beds total, I put together all 8 of my 6' side panels first.

That's me - proof that I built these.  All by myself, I might add :)

The photo below shows all of my finished 6' panels.  They went together so quickly!

3.  Take one of your 18" long 5/4 x 6 boards and place in the middle of one of your 6' side panels.  Screw in using the smaller size screw.  I installed these on what would become the inside of the beds so that it wouldn't be noticeable once the bed had dirt in it.  Repeat will all 6' long end panels.

Below is a better shot:

4.  Stand up 2 of your 6' end panel sections.  If you are doing this on a flat surface, they will stand up on their own.  Place approximately 3' apart so you can screw in the 3' boards.

5.  Starting at the bottom, screw in one 3' board to connect the side panels.  Now, go to the other side and repeat.  Repeat with the other two boards on each side.  That's it...Your raised beds are complete!

Can you believe how easy that was?  Four beds took me approximately 2 hours to build. Like I said - It was so much easier that I thought it would be.

Here are the beds installed in our side yard:

The beds are now filled with soil (I used a mixture of soil, peat moss, and vermiculite) and are just waiting to be planted.  I will be back to post more photos and progress shots of the garden!
* I've shared this post with the fabulous ladies at the Best of the Nest Party.


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