Epic Pasta Salad: a primer

Pasta Salad.

It can (and should!) be soooooo much more than boring elbow macaroni.

Here is a basic recipe for the pasta salad that I regularly make. It’s something I take to most potlucks and is always a hit! Everything you need to make it is pretty much always in a (reasonably) stocked pantry so you can make it without much notice!

I’ve got pictures for you, but also an actual recipe. If you just want the recipe here it is!

20170430_115624.png

Other delicious things I add sometimes: canned chilled beets, green onions (green and white parts), chunk white tuna, sunflower or chia seeds (just before serving), black beans or chickpeas (rinsed), and radish match sticks.

One edit here: I’ve decided you CAN rinse the pasta–especially if you need it to cool down quickly. The noodles hold the sauce a bit better if you don’t rinse but it works pretty well even if you do.

Now for some pictures of my process.

Chop/dice sweet peppers. Depending on size I use about 8-10 small peppers.

20170420_140436-1.jpg

Chop onions and halve cherry/grape tomatoes. I’ve found that even during the off season for tomatoes the small ones usually still have flavor. The Roma and regular sized tomatoes taste like water to me but the tiny ones still taste like tomatoes. Also, NEVER put your tomatoes in the refrigerator–it’ll totally zap their flavor.

If you don’t like onions you can skip them. You shouldn’t do this, but if you have a pansy ass palette or worry about onion breath then I guess you’ll have to leave them out and be miserable about life. It’s Vidalia season! Eat your dang onions!

20170420_140508-1.jpg

Here’s what all the vegetables look like all chopped up. I try to get a ratio of about half pasta and half vegetables. If you are making this for your household you can always add another ingredient to stretch the servings and change up the flavors after you serve it the first time.

20170420_141542-1.jpg

Pasta combo drained. Pasta combo with vegetables mixed in.

SAUCY TIME!

I use a three part mixture of spicy mustard, prepared salad dressing, and mayonnaise. It is possible that you may live in a part of the country where Duke’s mayonnaise is not available. If that is the case I will pray for you. I will also bootleg it to you through the postal service for a nominal fee. You can also make homemade mayonnaise. For the love of god just don’t use any of that *miraclewhip* stuff. Just don’t. As far as the prepared salad dressing goes, I usually use ranch or blue cheese–whatever is handy.

20170423_112750.png

Here it is all mixed up and ready to chill!

20170420_142235-1.jpg

Here is a serving shot–

pictured with beets, chia seeds, and homemade croutons on top.

NOTE: If you are using beets you may want to leave them off until serving. They will turn the whole salad a beautiful pink color–which I personally find endearing but others may find weird.

20170420_142936-1.jpg

20170420_143431-1.jpg

NOMzzzzz!

There you have it! My pasta salad primer for how to make rainbow pasta salad.

You will now be the star of your next potluck dinner.

You can thank me later.

Advertisements

Victory Garden 2k17

It’s VICTORY GARDEN time!

It is waaaaay past seed sprouting time but here I am, AS USUAL, late in getting anything going. Remind me next year in February to go ahead and start my dang seeds. These pictures were taken about a week ago on our back deck. In true DIY fashion, I’ve got my plants going in the most random containers…this time it is old cabinet drawers. These are left over from our kitchen demo which still happens to be in a pile on our deck. I’m keeping it real for y’all so don’t judge me!

20170423_112020.png

LEFT {lettuce}, RIGHT {tomato seedlings}

20170420_153127.jpg

AND SOMETHING NEW–potatoes in buckets.

More details on the potato adventure in a later post!

Surely someone had thought of this before me, but HOW GENIUS is this 6-pack holder for growing tomato transplants? Did I just hipster out-do myself and break the internet? They won’t hold up forever, but it’s a pretty great temporary holding container. It’d also make a rather adorable gift. You are welcome.

20170420_163158-1.jpg

Here are some of the notes from my garden plan:

20170423_123738-1.jpg

I’m trying to do a better job of keeping track of what & when I planted, etc. I wish I had taken pictures on 4/20 because everything looked SO HAPPY and flourishing. I had transplanted more tomatoes, started another basket of potatoes, planted some garlic chives, and planted more lettuce. THEN THE RAINS CAME. I made a pretty silly mistake, which is that I had some plants way too close to the overhang of the roof edge and everything got flooded. SAD. FACE. You only get a few little sneak peeks today at what is growing–hopefully I’ll have some more pictures soon.

You may be wondering why I’m planting in containers when I have such a huge back yard…and there are a few reasons for that. The main reason is that me and Mr. Smith are still trying to decide where and how we want to garden on our new property. We have an area that used to be a dog lot that will make a great spot once we get it cleaned out. There’s a ton of privet and other stuff of that ilk growing up through fencing that is nearly impossible to get loose. Anyone have some goats we could borrow for a week or so, lol?

As someone with a history of back issues, we are trying to design a garden that is going to a little easier for me to work in. Yay for raised beds! We are also experimenting with potting tomato plants in big buckets so that we can bring them in a green house over winter and keep some plants going for multiple years. Sounds kinda crazy but some of our favorite youtubers (Deep South Homestead) swear by it and we are going to try it out. I will still have some ground crops (squash, zucchini, cucumbers) eventually.

Have you read the history of what a Victory Garden is? I first read about them through the Meet Molly book way back in the day. I think everyone should have one–wartime or not, it’s a wonderful way to show your family and friends that you care about them. Home grown food = LOVE!

Look at my tags for things that grow for garden pictures from last season!

What is growing in your backyard/porch/window box/field?

Back Pain Management 101

DISCLAIMER!

Okay y’all I’m going to go ahead and write a disclaimer right now. In this post I’m going to tell about is the work I have been doing for my lower back health. Before I started this routine I talked it over with my doctor and my chiropractor. If you want to give these ideas a chance please do so with the approval of your own docs and try them at your own risk.

First things first:

Don’t be intimidated!

This routine looks like it’s really long but it really only takes me about 20 minutes.

{I used pictures from the internet so you don’t get me wallow on the floor.}

Here is my morning routine!

First is the Full Body Stretch.

I can’t find a good picture for this one, but basically you are making yourself one long straight line pointing your fingers in one direction and your toes in the other.

  • Lie on your back.
  • Stretch your legs out as straight as you can.
  • Put your arms over your head and point your arms out straight.
  • Point your hands north and your toes south as hard as you can and HOLD for a count of 5 Mississippi (I say “one Mississippi, two Mississippi…” up to 5).
  • Relax for a count of 5.
  • Alternate and do this 3 times relaxing and holding the stretch.

Next is the Knee to Chest Stretch.

Knee-to-chest

photo credit here

Known as the “ardha pavana mukta asana”…

…or “Breaking Wind” pose. Lmfao.

  • Lie on your back.
  • Keep your right leg flat on the floor.
  • Pull your left knee up with both of your hands and press it to your chest.
  • Hold for 20-30 seconds. (I say “one Mississippi, two Mississippi…” up to ten)
  • Return to your starting position.
  • Repeat with your right leg.
  • Do this with each leg 3 times, alternating back and forth between legs.

Next is the Hamstring Stretch.

Hamstring-Stretch

photo credit here

  • Continue to lie on your back.
  • Lift your left leg, as high as you can.  Don’t worry about how high you can get it–mine isn’t at a 90 degree angle like the lady in this picture.
  • While your leg remains raised, keep your pelvis flat on the floor.
  • Keeping the leg straight in raised position, hold your lower thigh with both your hands.
  • Pull the leg toward your upper body. You will a stretch in your hamstring.
  • Hold for 10 seconds. (I say “one Mississippi, two Mississippi…” up to 5)
  • Come back to starting position.
  • Repeat with the right leg.
  • Do this with each leg 3 times, alternating back and forth between legs.

Next is the Roach Roll.

knees to chest

{I have no idea what this is really called but I feel like a flipped over bug when I do it, hence my name for it.}

  • While you are still on your back from the previous stretch bring both knees up together and hold them to your chest.
  • Rock gently side to side concentrating the rolling motion from your lower back to your middle back and back to the lower area again.
  • Do this for a count of 5 Mississippi or longer if you want–it feels so good!

Next is the (modified) Pigeon Pose.

yoga poses - Pigeon Pose position (kapotasana)

Photo credit here.

{I call this “modified” because the Pigeon Pose typically has the leg up and at more of an angle. I find that the stretch feels best for me when I lay on my leg with the matching side of my chest–left knee to left side of the chest, right knee to right side of chest etc.}

  • From the last pose roll over with arms stretched over your head, almost flat on your face, except you’ll bring your left knee up to your chest.
  • Hold for a count of 5 Mississippi.
  • Switch to your right leg and repeat.
  • Alternate between your left and right knee so each leg is stretched twice.

Next is the Child’s Pose

Yoga_ChildsPose_300x350

photo credit here

  • From last pose, pull both legs under chest as shown above.
  • Start with arms out stretched (first picture) for a count of 5 Mississippi.
  • Next do the pose with arms tucked behind (second picture).
  • This feels really good so sometimes I do it for about a minute…just don’t fall asleep!

Last is the Cat and Camel (aka Angry Cat) Stretch

cat_camel

photo credit here

 

  • Move from face down from the last pose up on to your knees, positioning your knees and feet hip-width apart, with your feet pointing straight back.
  • Place your hands on the floor, positioning them directly under your shoulders at shoulder-width with your hands facing forward. Reposition your hands and knees as necessary so that your knees are directly under your hips and hands are directly under your shoulders.
  • Gently exhale and contract your abdominal muscles, pushing your spine upwards towards the ceiling and hold this position. Pretend you are pushing your tailbone to the sky and hold for for 10 Mississippi then relax.
  • Let your head to fall towards your chest, maintaining alignment with spine and  slowly relax–also let your stomach fall towards the floor and hold this position for 10 Mississippi.
  • Return to your starting position and repeat 3 times, alternating Cat and Camel.

NOW GO GET YOUR CLOTHES ON AND GO GET COFFEE!

YOU ARE NOW READY FOR YOUR DAY!

Note: I used info and pictures I found from a few different websites. You might want to check out other stretches/poses/exercises they have to offer. Click herehere, and here for more!

Let’s talk about LulaRoe

LEGGINGS, Y’ALL.

You’ve doubtlessly heard about LulaRoe–unless you have been living under a rock for the past year or so. You know, the company who does “pop-up shops” and online sales through Facebook. The company that sells super cute funky patterned wildly colorful clothes. A dream come true for a gal like me, right? I hate to be the bubble-burster here but I feel pretty *meh* about the whole thing.

I’ve had a TON, like literal, BUTT-ton of people ask me about LulaRoe. They think everything I wear must be connected to it somehow. I’ve talked about it so much that I decided to do a post about it on the ol blog.

Here are some pictures of my leggings that are NOT LulaRoe.

Click any of my tags fashion IRL for how I style my look.

20160526_175159.jpg

{apparently I wore my Birks like every day last summer lol}

Before I get in to my list of why I’m not so stoked on the clothes let me give a SUPER SERIOUS caveat. If you are a bigger and/or taller person, LulaRoe is awesome. I consider myself to be on the bigger/taller side as a 5’9″ 180 lb person. I wear a size 10/12 jeans. However, I can pretty much buy cool leggings anywhere and everywhere. If I was much bigger this would not be the case.  So, if I couldn’t find cute leggings elsewhere then LulaRoe would be my jam.

I also love that this brand has given folks the confidence to wear lots of colors and patterns! This is how I live my life! Colors and patterns make me so happy and I’m so glad that other people are finally figuring out what I have always known: clashing can be cool, lol. That said I’ve found it hard to stomach spending $25 for leggings when I can find equally cute ones for $6.97 at Walmart or $5 at the flea market.

Here are some more of my collection…can you tell which ones are LR?

20170409_163518-1.jpg

Here are the top 5 reasons I’m not 100% on the LulaRoe bandwagon.

#1 They’re pretty expensive. You know the leggings are made in a third world country, right? From what I’ve read (here and just google for more), China has some patent on the machines that make the “buttery soft” leggings, so LR can’t make them in the US. LR DOES have a lot of US factories, too, which is really awesome. I’m just going to be the jerk to point out that it’s kinda sketch that they boast about being American made. 25 bucks is hard to stomach for leggings, but $65 for a tee shirt dress?! Ouch. This is fast fashion y’all and it is not worth the price.

#2 They don’t wash well. I turn all my leggings inside out when I wash them and I was them in cold water on the delicate cycle with the hippy version of woolite. I’ve found that my LR leggings have faded more than I would like OR expect them to. Compared to my other leggings I actually thing they wash and wear worse than the ones have gotten from big box stores like Target and Walmart.

#3 The sizing is inconsistent. The first pair of LR I tried on was their one-size (0-12) was too tight and were more like capri length on me. The pop-up shop had a pattern in tall&curvy that I was smitten over so I bought them, even though they felt a bit big. I can literally pull them up to my bra underwire.  A few months later I bought another tall&curvy pair from a friend who was selling off her LR collection. These were even bigger than my brand new pair, possibly because they had been worn by a person a few sizes bigger than me. Not long after that I was gifted with a pair for Christmas. It’s also worth noting that I was gifted the pair because they were too small for my friend who bought them. They fit me PERFECTLY but are definitely NOT the same size as the pair I bough brand new. Again, for the price point, there should be more quality control over sizing.

#4– Everyone thinks every pair of leggings I have is LulaRoe. This isn’t really a bad thing but if everyone thinks I’m wearing it anyway, why on earth would I pay to wear it?!

My final thoughts are this: if you have the money and you are bigger than a size 16 GO FOR IT. If you’re smaller than that, buy them only if there is a pattern you are over the moon about. Otherwise I would tell you to hit up Walmart, Target, Ross, TJ Maxx…pretty much every store has them these days.

Do YOU LulaRoe? If so, tell me if you’ve had similar or different luck!