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Archive for April, 2010

We are big fans of casseroles.

Spring, summer, autumn, winter – we need our weekly dose.

That and strawberry smoothies, they make us go on…
 
 

These are the ingredients. Yummy already.
 
 

1. First, we will prepare a lovely mushroom sauce.

Start by melting 1 tablespoon butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat.
 
 

2. Add 3 tablespoons flour and stir until smooth.

Remove from heat.
 
 

3. Add the mushroom broth and milk.

Stir.
 
 

4. Then stir in the drained mushrooms.
 
 

5. Add a little salt and pepper.
 
 

6. Return the pan to heat and stir until the mixture thickens.
 
 

7. In a larger pan or pot, pour 3 tablespoons vegetable oil.

Place over medium heat.
 
 

8. Chop the onion, add to the pot and sauté for about 3 minutes.

Add 1 tablespoon flour and continue cooking and stirring for another 2 minutes.
 
 

9. Whisk in the milk, the mushroom sauce we have prepared, salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until the mixture begins to simmer and thickens.
 
 

10. Cook the noodles in salted water, according to directions.

Drain, rinse in cold water, and add to a large mixing bowl.

11. Add the cooked mixture, drained tuna, peas and half the cheese (these are cooked peas – the frozen and thawed ones look much greener and nicer).
 
 

12. Then find some very old dish (pretend it’s a casserole dish and hope that nobody finds out it’s for lasagna), butter it and pour the mixture in.
 
 

13. Top with the rest of the cheese.
 
 

14. Mix the breadcrumbs and olive oil…
 
 

… until combined…
 
 

… and spread evenly over the casserole.
 
 

15. Bake for 35 minutes at 356 F (180 C), …
 
 


… until bubbling and browned.

Yummity!
 
 

Enjoy dear friends!

Love,

Petra
 

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First of all – this is a picture of me… thinking.

Because when I think, I think hard.

And it is such an experience that I usually want to take a picture of myself… just to remember this memorable moment.

So far, I have one.

Anyways, I used this special picture to try out The Pioneer Woman’s Actions – I mean the Photoshop Actions created by The Pioneer Woman.

Pioneer Woman is awesome, her site is awesome, her family is awesome and her actions are nothing less than awesome, indeed.
 
 

On the left side, there is the original picture that I took with my camera. Let’s call it the SOOC (Straight Out Of Camera).

And on the right, there is a picture which has undergone certain beautifying process – the result of applying particular Photoshop action.

I used two actions here – Boost and Bring Out The Eyes.
 
 

Here I’ve used the Slight Light action. The new picture looks much more positive and fresh then the original one.

I think I will use this action all the time – I need to lighten up my pictures almost always.

And I even dare to think that most of us do.
 
 

This is the action called Colorize.

It’s made my skin look more matte.

I like that.
 
 

The Heartland action – I love the color tones, especially the color of my lipstick.

Very ‘fairy-tail-ish’.
 
 

A dreamy and lovely action called… Lovely!

Very aptly named. Not that I look lovely, the effect is lovely.
 
 

Here I used the Beauty Black and White action – originally, it resulted in a black and white picture, but I decreased the opacity and saved some color.

And I love that!
 
 

Oooooooh, and here comes my all-time favorite – Seventies, everybody!

I love, love, LOVE that – anything vintage makes my soul happy.

I really don’t know why, but I have always been a granny in my heart – since I can remember… since 3, I guess.

Three years old granny, that’s what I was… in my heart.
 
 

This is Slight Light and Seventies, both together.

Impressive!

Yeah, you can combine the actions – use one on top of the other.

You can mix three or four and see what you get.

Isn’t that great?

I think it is more than great – it’s ÜBER-GREAT!
 
 

And here I’ve combined the Slight Light and Soft Fade actions.

Using actions is so much fun.

The Pioneer Woman’s action are free to use – so if you have Photoshop (even Elements), just go grab these treasures.

And thank you, Pioneer Woman, you are the best!
 

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Just a few days ago, my boyfriend looked me straight in the eyes… and with a very sweet tone in his voice he said: ‘Could I ask you something?’.

Uuu-hu-huh, I thought, get ready girl… this might be something really memorable. Just breath, breath, keep on breathing.

So with the trembling voice I replied: ‘Yes, sure!’.

And right then my ears got to hear a question that will probably forever remain number one on my most-romantic-sentences list.

Will you go grave hunting with me?’, inquired my boyfriend.

After a moment of confusion I started to laugh straight from the heart… and answered – ‘Yes dear!’.

Sometimes things get waaaaay better than you thought they would.
 
 

The thing is that my boyfriend is trying to find out who his ancestors were.

And in this family-tree-building quest he is trying to get as far and deep as possible.

The whole process requires a lot of traveling and many hours spent in the archives.

Luckily, I get to travel with him and visit places I never knew existed.

Just recently, for instance, we found this 300 years old church built solely of wood.

One of the UNESCO Heritage sites.

It is a magnificent building… and OLD, man.

I was standing there – just staring at it – for quite some time.

Because it is MADE OF WOOD ONLY, with NO NAILS used.

WOW!

HOW?
 
 

First I thought it was not functional… but then I saw this – a weeding must have taken place here just recently.

Can you imagine getting wed in a place like this?

I think it has to be like extremely romantic.

Anyway, the church is still in service. Amazing!

But what really got me was this church’s story.

Some folks from the evangelical church really wanted more churches of their own.

However, the circumstances then weren’t very convenient for this particular church.

Eventually, after many talks and negotiations, they were allowed to build their own church, but only under these restricted conditions: the whole church must be built withing a year; it can be built of wood only, it may not have a tower and the entrance may not be directly from street.

This building was definitely thought to last much shorter than it has.

To me, it is a perfect symbol of strength and resistance.
 
 

It was locked at the time of our visit, so we couldn’t get in.

But conditions like that didn’t stop me.

I reached my hands up and pointed my camera to look through one of the windows… which allowed me to take a picture of the interior.

‘Cause nothing is going to stop Petra-the mighty photographer from taking a picture of what she wants to capture.

That’s how things work in her world.

Let the STRENGTH and RESISTANCE rule!

Yeah!

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Earth Day – Yay!

To celebrate this wonderful day I am posting a few snippets from my Mom’s garden.

Because my Mom and Dad’s garden could possibly be the most beautiful place on Earth.

This is an apple tree in bloom.

If I were a bee, I’d land on one of those wonderful flowers right away.

But I am not.

So I won’t.
 
 

A lovely tulip.

 
 

Pear tree just about to bloom.

 
 

And guess what this is…

Oh, you don’t have to ’cause I’m gonna tell ya.

It’s a gorgeous walnut tree that is coming into leaf and flower soon.

Have a wonderful Earth Day everybody… and enjoy!

And now, please, excuse me, I am going to buy some eggnog (… to celebrate the day properly. No, I am not an alcoholic, I just like eggnog. Or, dang…, is that what all alcoholics say? Hm… doesn’t matter… CHEERS!).

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I am going to tell you a secret today.

Huge, important and life-changing secret.

It has something to do with love

Would you like to know?

I just know you do!

So sit down comfortably and listen.

This secret has been passed down from generation to generation in our family and it reveals how to win a man’s heart.

It’s not about magic, it’s not about spells… to win a man’s heart you just have to prepare this delicious chicken with heavenly sauce for the special one your heart is fond of.

You will watch the results in awe.

It’s earth-shaking.

I’m telling you.

It has been tested!
 
 

These are the ingredients – very simple dish it is, indeed.
 
 

1. Start by making yourself some nice cup of coffee and play one of Martha’s shows on the internet.

The atmosphere is very important here!
 
 

2. Then grab an onion and cut it into halves.

Cut the half horizontally…
 
 

… and then slice it neatly.

Nice.
 
 

3. Now pour 4 tablespoon vegetable oil into a bigger pot and heat it up.
 
 

4. Add the onions and fry them, stirring constantly…
 
 

… just until they have this yellow color.
 
 

5. Then add 2 teaspoons sweet red paprika.

This ingredient is crucially important in this meal.
 
 

6. Stir the paprika with the onions around for about 30 seconds – not more.
 
 

7. We are going to need the skinned chicken legs now… so yes, it is very good if you have skinned them in advance.
 
 

8. Place the legs into the pot and cover them with the bouillon/broth.
 
 

9. Stir gently, cover and bring to a boil.

Then allow to boil moderately just until the meat gets fork-tender.

This is going to take about 45-55 minutes, I guess.
 
 

10. Meanwhile, with Martha still talking about all the great stuff that girls love, we can prepare the flour-cream mixture.

That will make our sauce beautifully creamy.

In a separate bowl, pour 4 tablespoons flour, 3 1/2 tablespoons (heaping) sour cream and 1/2 cup (120 ml) whipping cream.
 
 

Give that all a good mix.
 
 

11. Now make a  little test of fork-tenderness.

Remove one leg from the pot and check whether it is tender enough to be easily pierced or cut with a fork.

Basically, it just should be… hmm… tender, folks.
 
 

12. After you’ve concluded that the legs are exactly how they should be, remove them all from the pot onto a separate plate or bowl.

13. Pour the flour-cream mixture into the pot while whisking constantly and bring the whole mixture to a boil (while still whisking).

See?… I wasn’t even able to capture this step properly, because I was using both of my hands. And my tripod is who-knows-where.

Allow to boil for about 3-5 more minutes – giving the sauce the necessary time to get thicker (and of course, stir constantly).
 
 

14. Remove the sauce from the heat and taste it. Some more salt might be needed – I added about 1/2 tsp (the amount of salt needed depends on the bouillon/broth you’ve used).
 
 

15. At this point you can decide, whether you want to serve the legs in whole pieces like this (in this case return them back to the pot), or if you want to serve the meat only (using two forks remove the meat from the bones and return the meat into the pot).
 
 

Here we go, nicely served with fusilli.

Now place this plate right under the particular man’s nose and see what happens.

And let me know!

(Click the RECIPE SECTION to see more of my recipes.)
 

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Orchids Overload

Let’s get a little girly now… let’s talk FLOWERS!

YEAH!

Not that I know much about them.

But still, I love them very much… and I want to learn.

I especially love flowers in pots. Bunches of cut flowers are not that much to my taste (…I really don’t want to say this out loud… But I somehow can’t get rid of the feeling that they might not be… hmm… kind of… living. Sorry. But then, that’s my own impression… my crooked, cross-eyed impression. So it doesn’t really matter that much.)
 
 

Luckily, there’s a special person in my life who understands flowers and is willing to teach me.

Yes, of course, it’s my Mom.

My loveliest, best-est, perfect-est Mom.
 
 

These are all my Mom’s new orchids.

It’s her new hobby – to grow orchids.

And when she starts something, she starts it BIG.

I love that about her.
 
 

Her collection is growing at rapid speed.
 
 

There are loads of buds and loads of flowers in bloom.
 
 

I got really amazed as I walked into the room and saw them for the first time – these beauties create a truly special and romantic atmosphere.
 
 

Spectacular!

Oh… and then I took my camera outside to make a few snaps of the lovely flowers that my Mom grows in her garden.

A soul-warming view – that describes pretty accurately what I saw there.

I’ll be sending the pictures soon.

‘Cause you know what?

I just want to make you as happy as possible…
 

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Do you like popsicles?

I love, love, love them.

‘Cause they spin my head right round, …right round.

And if something makes my head spin, I heart it endlessly.

In fact, pops might be the greatest invention of the humankind ever, I think (a proper science investigation is needed here).

I love the juicy ones and the creamy ones, as well – my favorite flavors being… hmmm… strawberry (yum), peach (yippee), apricot (oh, dear), lemon (mmmmmm…) and caramel (instant-coma) and vanilla (yo, man) and let me stop myself right here, because I’m afraid that what I’m possibly doing right now is naming all the existing flavors…

Once I even attempted to make Cookie Pops – that was so much fun!

Anyway, just recently I stumbled upon a homemade-popsicle idea somewhere in the deep web.

And that made me think, OH… DID that make me think about all the homemade-popsicle related stuff.

Questions like: ‘How exactly?’, ‘Can I put a glass into a freezer?’, ‘What kind of stick’  – buzzing in my head constantly.
 
 

Last Sunday was the day when I was shown a sign – A MIGHTY SIGN.

It stroke me right there in IKEA, while I was looting their kitchen department, wearing a multi-orgasmic expression on my face.

A popsicle mold? Like REALLY? I didn’t know you existed? I didn’t know about you. Can you forgive me, please? Can we be friends? From now to infinity… and beyond, please?

I really am a lucky person, so lucky…
 
 

So immediately, after we’d arrived home, I jump-started the action.

I poured in two containers of plain yogurt into a food processor.
 
 

Then I added these wonderful, gorgeous canned strawberries.
 
 

Then some sugar and lemon juice to taste.
 
 

Little bit of mixing ensued and our homemade strawberry yogurt was born.

This mixture might not have been aware of the fact that it was going to be turned into something really amazing.

Things like this had never happened in our household before.
 
 

Then I went on and spooned the mixture into the lovely molds.
 
 

I put the mold into its stand.
 
 

And then I stuck the handle in.
 
 

There were six molds in one package.
 
 

And I filled them all and sent them to my freezer for a 24-hour life-changing trip.
 
 

Yum!

We just can’t get enough of them.

I did a little research on homemade ice lollies which eventually transported me into the state of utter bliss with all those amazing ideas running through my head.

I’ve chosen one particular pop idea to round off this sweet pop post with…

MOJITO POPS!

(Isn’t that just the perfect way to end a post with? I’m now considering ending all my future posts that way.)

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