Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Le Dolce Vita

We've found a new place to go for a treat!

It's called Le Dolce Vita and it's in the nearby town of Zionsville on a quiet street inside an adorable little house.

A week ago we met friends there for a donut and coffee. I'm so excited that there is now more than one option for coffee in Zionsville!

Of course we had to ooooo and awwwwww over all the beautiful pastries, especially the macaroons which are a house specialty. I was tempted to buy one but didn't.

Several days later I met a different friend at a park and what did she pull out of her bag for me but a sweet little box of macaroons from Le Dolce Vita!

So, I got to try the macaroons after all, with a nice pot of tropical rooibus tea from Tea's Me. It was a perfect ending to a busy day.

So, if you are in the are, be sure to search out this little cafe and enjoy a bit of refreshment!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Emily's Graduation

It's about time I posted about my sister Emily's graduation!

She graduated back in May with a master's degree in Occupational Therapy from Indiana University.

We celebrated with a Sunday dinner and lots of friends.

Here's is Emily's childhood friend, Mary.

Rachel and Emily made the cupcakes, which were so cute!!

Gluten-free cupcakes too!

And there were a few presents to open afterward.

Emily's done a terrific job and we are all proud of her!!! She has a week left at her last internship and then she's officially job hunting!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Walk Through the Garden

I thought I would show you how my garden is growing this year. This is what I have in my pots out front. I'm really pleased with the large purple foliage growing at the back. I think I'll choose that again next year!

My sage bushes all came back from last year. The common sage grew tall and bushy and produced beautiful purple flowers this spring. All the variegated sage stayed close to the ground and a number of the bushes only produced a tiny little show of leaves. Eventually, I will probably replace most of them with more common sage. I have zinnias planted behind the sage for color later in the summer and the black-eyed susan's are between the boxwood bushes.

I finally found something different for the front door and it looks bright and cheery:

The best, and most mature, garden is on the side of the house and contains all perennials. It is in its fourth year now and I'm really pleased with how it is growing. The lilies and daisies are quite tall this year.

My apple mint is spreading and growing. Its leaves are just huge!

Buried in the mix are four mini rose bushes. I need to transplant them elsewhere but am not sure where yet.

This corner houses my spearmint, chives, tansy, and ornamental grass.

Turning the corner, I have a bunch of sunflowers growing in my peony bed along with cosmos. Most of the sunflowers reseeded from last year!

The little gardens on the corners of the patio were new this year. My Dad planted the Rose of Sharon trees for me and then I started adding things in. It's helping the patio to feel much more welcoming and relaxing. As you can see, we live in a vinyl village and so I need the gardens to help me feel a bit more surrounded by nature.

And then there is the vegetable garden which is slowly coming along. I think it needs a lot more MiracleGro. I have marigolds planted around the perimeter but I think they have stopped growing at about 3 inches!

Around the corner is the zinnia garden with the rhubarb at one end and the pineapple mint going crazy at the other.

Lastly, there is the lilac bush at the corner by the garage. It is growing by leaps and bounds this summer. I plan to plant the blueberry bushes in that last space of grass along the side of the house.

There is always something to think about changing or adding in the garden. Although I garden more for the "end result" rather than for the fun of actually getting dirty, I'm still enjoying my garden work so far this year.

Monday, June 20, 2011

First Steps

Yesterday Laura took her very first steps!!! We always arrive quite early at church and after our "morning chores" were done we all sat down in the pews and Laura stood in the aisle. We all happened to be watching when she decided to try a step on her own! What a great moment it was, and a perfect Father's Day gift! It will also be a nice memory to think she took her first steps at church. Walking on her own is a big milestone for Laura's development and we are thankful that's she's really close now!

Laura got her stitches out this morning. I guess everything looks good. I'm hoping the scar heals up to be less noticeable than it is now (stitches still in at time of photo).

Laura also likes to eat frozen peas. It's a good way to get some veggies in her.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Want to Start a B&B?

Anyone want to start a Bed and Breakfast? Some friends of ours in Baltimore, MD are selling their home which is all ready to be used as a B&B. I told them I would post it on the blog just in case anyone knew of anyone........

Have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Sister Outing

For some time we sisters have been wanting to go away on an overnight together just to have some extended time together. All spring we thought and researched and wanted to plan a stay at a Bed and Breakfast somewhere in the state. When it came down to it, none of us could really afford the costs that entailed. So, we got creative. We asked if JK would be willing to go visit his mom for a night and we all converged on Christina's home, which she had turned into a Bed and Breakfast!

When we arrived there were candles and flowers everywhere and some lovely nibbles to begin the evening.

Look at these beautiful strawberries, covered in orange zest and a tiny hint of powdered sugar.

Every nook and cranny looked like a comfortable place to sit down and relax.

Christina, whose birthday we were celebrating, really made the time a success by her hard work. Oh, and mom joined us for the evening and breakfast.

One room was set up like a spa, ready for us to do our nails.

The back deck was ready for dinner.

I went to Trader Joe's and came back with dinner.

So many delicious things!

Lots of laughter over dinner!

And then on to the beauty spa.

We all enjoyed Jeni's ice-cream, brought straight from Columbus, OH on dry ice by a friend. This flavor was Wildberry Lavender. Amazing!

We stayed up late watching a movie and then got up for a beautiful breakfast in the morning. We began with these coffee creams.

And Christina made a cooked breakfast to follow that.

More good times.....

Then it was time to get ready for the day.

Before heading out, we had to take a few quick photos for Christina's knitting patterns.

Then we headed to the Carmel Farmer's Market.

And were completely overcome by the buckets and buckets of peonies on sale.

We made a quick, but not so quick, detour to the fashion mall where Gap was having a 40% off sale, including their sale rack, making shirts $6, etc. We all found something! Then we were off to lunch in Broadripple.

It was such a wonderful weekend and I'm so glad we figured out a way to make it work!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Currant Bush

The other evening I went out to harvest our red currants. My mom bought me a bush this spring and it is planted in my new garden which surrounds our back patio.

The currants grow on little stems that hang down. Don't they look like little edible jewels? My mom had them growing in her backyard when she was a child, and of course they are well-known in the British Isles. So, it was time we got some of our own!

Apparently, the bush grows fast and large! So, we'll see what happens in the next few years.

A few weeks ago I ordered a surprise box of perennials from Spring Hill Nursery. I paid about $8.50 for supposedly $100 worth of plants. Today the box arrived! I was not disappointed! Inside were four large blueberry bushes (which I see go for $20 each), 2 juniper trees, 4 purple love grasses, 2 butterfly bushes, and 200 gladiola bulbs. Now I just need to figure out where to plant my blueberries and see if I can find homes for the juniper trees. I'm excited about our "new additions" and will have to take some photos of our gardens.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

African Open House

I'm still catching up on everything I wanted to blog about. Remember the May wedding I posted about? Well, a few weeks later we hosted an open house for Jenny and Jim and themed it with Ugandan food.

I had so much fun working on the theme because it gave me a chance to reminisce about my own years in Uganda. Nearly 70 people showed up and the evening was so full of fellowship and joy -- I couldn't have been happier! Thank you to all of you who came!

Going backwards around the food table: Alaina made these delicious banana cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. You can find the recipe here on The Cooks Next Door.

My neighbor made me a Cassava Cake since cassava is such a staple in Uganda. We also served Ugandan tea both hot and iced and the chai mix from Costco was used to make chai. We even had Ugandan coffee!!

We had tropical fruit salad with pineapple, mango, banana, papaya and lime zest. I love that combination!

I found banana leaves at the local international market and they looked so pretty lining the serving dishes.

Then we had greens. It seems that many of the typical Ugandan dishes start out with onions and tomatoes and then you either add greens, beans, or meat!

And after the greens come the beans:

Samosas are a Ugandan street food, an influence of the Indian population. Everyone loved these! I bought them frozen at the international store and one of my friends came and fried them all for me!

I love chapatis! They are a flatbread popular as another street food. They were easy to make from scratch. I rolled and rolled and rolled and Rachel spent a long time cooking them all for me.

Not a great picture, but just to document the ground nut sauce (peanuts) which was meant for dipping the grilled chicken into. Once again, it also included onions and tomatoes!

And lastly (but really firstly) there was grilled chicken on a stick. Another friend spent two hours grilling all the chicken for us!!

Many hands make light work and it's true with a party like this. So many people helped out, including Christina who came over for the last minute chaos!

No more parties on the horizon at the moment! It's a cool, rainy day here today -- kind of a treat!