Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

I want to go everywhere I haven't been, and back to everywhere I have been.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Frustrations of a Blogger Newbie


Did you know that Internet Explorer can distort your blog? 

I did not know this, until I went to show someone my blog on her computer, using IE.




What I saw bore little resemblance to the blog I see everyday via Safari or Firefox.  

The colors were off…

The formatting was all twisted…

And worst of all, my "ABOUT" page, and some of my early posts, were beyond funky. 

It just figures that yesterday I had my most page views ever...a third of which came from Internet Explorer. Nice first impression for those folks! 

Oy, I have such a headache.

I googled "Why does my blog look different on Internet Explorer" and found that most of the time, the problem comes from typing your post in Word, and copying it into Blogger.

I re-typed my "About" page, which seems to be fine, but now I have to re-type the others.  What a pain in the hiney. 

I haven't yet figured out how to fix the formatting, which seems to be caused by the gadgets.  

Can anyone shed any insight? I'd be most grateful...

Ms. Toody

Jumbo Flower Pots

Have you finished planting all of your summer flowers? 

I finally finished mine yesterday.  Filling my flower pots was at the top of my To-Do list last weekend, but the weather was most uncooperative. 

I like to use oversized flower pots for high impact. I've got five of them -- three on the back deck, one on the front porch and one under a tree.

My deck is big, so I need a few really large pots to take up some space. Small pots just don't have enough impact, unless I use like a hundred of them. In this case, I like the "less is more" concept. 

When I bought these brown pots at Costco a few months ago, someone on the check-out line told me to fill them part-way with plastic, so that it cuts down on the amount of soil needed.  This also keeps the containers from getting too heavy in case they have to be moved.

I hope this jumbo pot tip doesn't turn out to be a bunch of mumbo-jumbo, because I tried it. I used empty plastic water jugs, and plant containers to take up some of the space. 

No one will ever know what's inside. 

Can you get a sense of how big these are? There are four 1-gallon water jugs in one of them, which didn't even fill up half the space.

Even with the filler, I still needed tons of dirt. I think I used 50 pounds of soil for two pots.

Did I mention that these pots are BIG?

Seriously, fill one with water, and you've got yourself a little swimming pool.

About the flowers...

The vine is a mandevilla. I've never grown it before, but the flowers are so vibrant, I had to give it a try. It's supposed to flower from Spring to Fall. 

This one is my favorite. I love the combination of deep purple and yellow. I used two types of caladium, purple petunias and yellow marigolds. I added one perennial - Dianthus (the little pink flowers). If it comes back, that's one less plant I'll have to buy next year. (Notice my new deck railing in the background?)

Sadie seems to like this one. It doesn't get as much sun as the other two pots, so I used caladium, red begonias, and coleus. I planted the ivy years ago. It was just a few inches long, and now it is so full and lush. 

The front porch gets partial sun, so I used the same mix of Caladium, Coleus and Begonias.  I like the way they look with my red door. 

I used begonias under the tree, since they are happy in the shade.  They still look a little sparse, but should fill in a few weeks from now. 

Because this pot is out in the open on my front lawn, I had to used something the deer won't eat. They're not too keen on begonias.

We caught this one nibbling the neighbor's bushes on Monday.

I suppose I will find out one way or another if it was a good idea to use plastic containers in these pots.  Have you ever tried this? Did it work? 

Ms. Toody

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

"I'd Rather Do Anything But Cook" - Super Easy, Super Fast Black Bean and Corn Salad

How do you feel about cilantro? 

I have yet to meet anyone who is wishy-washy on the subject of this herb. People seem to either love it or hate it. 

Me? I'm a big fan. Any recipe that lists cilantro as an ingredient gets my attention.

So when I saw this recipe for Bush's Best Black Bean Salad in a magazine years ago, I decided to try it. (Don't ask me why one of my recipes is upside down in my book…I have no idea, and I'm too lazy to fix it.)

I did modify it, however, because the recipe calls for only 1 teaspoon of cilantro. 

One teaspoon? 

Excuse me, but are you kidding me? 

I don't think you would even taste such a teeny amount.

I  decided to increase the amount of cilantro by about, oh, 100 times. 

When I make this recipe, I use at least 1/4 cup of chopped, fresh cilantro. See that big bunch of cilantro in picture #2? I used half of it in a double recipe. 

With that small change, this has become one of my favorite summer salads.  

It is So Good.

I'd rather do anything but cook, so I love that this is Super Easy to make.  
All you have to do is toss a bunch of things in a bowl and mix it up. Easy peasy. 

OK, yes, you do have to dice a few things. Not a big deal. 

And it is healthy, to boot.  Beans are high in protein and fiber, low in fat, and contain a number of essential vitamins and minerals. Did you know that the US Department of Agriculture recommends eating three cups of beans a week?

I made this for a barbeque that I went to this weekend. I know I said on my To Do list that I was going to bring fennel salad, but I thought this would be more of a crowd pleaser.

It was a hit. 

You can serve this as a side dish, or as an hors d'ouvre with tortilla chips. I think it tastes best if you make it a day in advance. 

Try it and let me know what you think. 

Bush's Best Black Bean Salad

1 15 oz. Can Bush's (or any brand) Black Beans, drained and rinsed
1 Red Bell Pepper, diced
1 Green Bell Pepper, diced
1 Yellow Bell Pepper, diced (I like to use an orange bell pepper)
1/2 Cup Red Onion, diced
1 16 oz. Can of Corn, drained
1 Clove garlic, minced
1 Teaspoon Cilantro* (Or 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro -- *see my note above)
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
4 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
1 Teaspoon Lime Juice
Freshly Ground Pepper (to taste)
Salt (to taste)

In a bowl, combine bell peppers, onion, corn, garlic and cilantro and toss to mix.  Add olive oil, vinegar, lime juice and salt and pepper; toss again. Add black beans, toss well.  
Serves 6-8.  


Ms. Toody

Linking to:
Jam Hands Recipe Sharing Monday
Boogieboad Cottage Materpiece Monday
Savories: Simply BeBetsy

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Weekend "To Do" List

How will you spend this Memorial Day weekend?

We ended up with a busy schedule, considering that a week ago, we had absolutely nothing on the calendar.  

I've got a To Do list as long as the Tappan Zee Bridge. I'll be lucky if I get half of these things done:

Finish all of my flower plantingIf it ever stops raining, that is.  We had torrential downpours the past two days, and the showers are supposed to last through Sunday.  Plus, it's going to be chilly -- only in the mid 50's today. Uh, really???

Meet friends for dinner on Saturday night in the lovely village of Nyack, NY. OK, maybe not so lovely in the rain...We haven't discussed where to go to yet, but I'll suggest Wasabi for not-your-typical Japanese food, and Hudson House for dessert. The Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake is to die for! 

Bake this yummy Basque cakeFriends are coming for brunch on Sunday, and this is a perfect cake to serve. I discovered this recipe few months ago when Junior Goo Shoes said he would get extra credit in Spanish class if he brought in a dish from the Basque region. I think I should have gotten the extra credit, if you know what I mean. 

Whip up a batch of my fennel slaw to bring to a neighbor's BBQ on Monday. And I'll bring one of these bottles of wine, just for a laugh. 

Make a decision on furniture for Junior Goo Shoes' roomI've been thinking about this bed and these bookcases in Tuscan brown from Pottery Barn Teen.

Make reservations for Grist Mill On The Schroon in Warrensburg, NY.  Every summer, we take a ride to the Adirondack Mountains, and eat at this fantastic restaurant overlooking the Schroon River. They book up quickly, so it's not too soon to reserve.

Refinish this little chair that I got at a yard sale two years ago. I am not the best 
D-I-Y'er. In fact, I'm more like D-I-Y-did-I-try-to-do-this?

Work on my Shutterfly Photobook of Israel. We went to Israel back in December, and I've only gotten a few pages done. 

Take some time to reflect on the meaning of Memorial Day.  I don't want to forget that this weekend isn't all about hotdogs and hamburgers…I want to take a moment to remember all of the soldiers who died in service for our country. 

Whatever you do, enjoy!
Ms. Toody

Friday, May 24, 2013

Memorial Day: How Our Family Remembers Unknown Soldiers

Have you ever been to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall in Washington, DC? 

The first time we saw it was over 20 years ago. 

Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, DC
Having lived during the Vietnam War era, standing before the wall was extremely moving. 

Mr. Goo Shoes did something while we were there, but didn't tell me until later that day. 
When he did, it moved me to tears.

He randomly selected the name of a soldier on the wall. He made a vow that he would never forget him, and would come to honor his name every time he visited DC. 

Four years ago, we went back, and true to his word, he paid respects to this soldier…a Sergeant in the Army, from Wisconsin, who was 23 years old when he was killed.

On this visit, my son and I also picked out random names. 
We, too, promised ourselves that we would pay tribute to these men for the sacrifices they made for our country, each and every time we visited Washington, DC. 

Our son is headed to DC on a school trip soon. We reminded him of the pledge he made four years ago. 

We didn't have to remind him of the name he picked. He remembered. 

This is our family's small way of honoring our country's fallen soldiers. We take a moment to think of them, and thank them for their service on Memorial Day, too. These three men whom we did not know, are symbolic of all of those who lost their lives in battle.  

Iwo Jima Memorial, Washington, DC

Have a safe Memorial Day weekend.

Ms. Toody

Linking With:
Best of the Weekend
Fabulously Creative Friday

Slice Of Life: Wine Pairings

Perfect wine pairing: Old Fart and Fat Bastard.

Have a great Memorial Day weekend, everyone! 

Ms. Toody

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Here's The Dirt on My Mud Room

Do you suffer from 'Decorating Inertia Syndrome?"

I do, more times than I care to admit. I'm gung-ho on a project, and then I run out of steam before it's totally finished. I swear, I don't think I have one room in my house that is 100% "done." 

Most of the time, it's because I'm stumped…and can't make up my mind about what to do.

That's what happened to me when it came to putting the finishing touches on my mud room.  

Back in March, I wrote about our major mud room renovationMy vision for designing a wall of built-in cubbies was 20-20, but… 

... as far as the opposite wall…let's just say that my vision was clear as mud. I had no idea what to do with this...
 Long.              Blank.             Wall.

The coat rack?  I couldn't decide whether to stain it, paint it, or take it down.

One thing I knew for sure was that I wanted to hang some family photos, but I couldn't decide whether to do lots of pictures, or just a few. Then I remembered that I had bought six picture frames at Costco awhile back. They had been sitting on the floor in my family room for about a year. 

I combed through my photo library for some favorite vacation pictures. 

After playing around with arrangements on the floor, I decided I liked this one.

I made templates of the frames out of newspaper, and positioned them on the wall. I saw this tip years ago in a magazine, and it's a system that's worked for me many times. Truth be told, I don't always get the nails in exactly the right spot, so sometimes I end up with a few extra holes behind my pictures. Don't tell anyone. 

Whew…I got the bottom ones to line up. 

Did it!

Once the pictures were hung, I thought about painting the coat rack black.  But I changed my mind, because I didn't want the black to be the dominant accent color. It was just too…black

Ultimately, my inspiration came from the brown baskets and the window shades. (The paint color looks off in this picture, because it's a dreary day today.  It's Elemental Green from Benjamin Moore's Affinity collection). 

I stained the coat rack with Min-Wax Wood Stain. The color is "Provinicial." 

It only took about 15-20 minutes. I didn't bother to sand it...I just slapped the stain on. It dried super-fast.

I love the way it looks against the green paint. 

Maybe I should put those ice skates away for the summer.

No more boring, empty wall. 

I'm really happy with how it turned out. 

There is one more corner to tackle in this room. I have no idea what to do here. Whatever I do, that hole in the wall (where the gas meter is) has to be covered. Ugh. 

Any ideas? I feel "Decorating Inertia Syndrome" coming on...

Ms. Toody