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Blog on the Move!

12 Aug

A Sharper Focus Blog is now at: www.asharperfocusblog.com

That’s right, I’m moving! Last fall I took a web design class so that I could customize my blog more and expand my web capabilities. After a summer of working on the new blog, I’ve moved the blog from a wordpress.com site to a wordpress.org site and am ready for you to join me. Come on over and don’t forget to press the Follow button on the bottom right to stay connected!

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May o’ My

18 Jul

Physically I’ve been back from our yearly family trip to Gulf Shores for almost a week now, mentally I really want to stay in vacation mode. It’s been hard to snap out of it and get some things done, like work on this blog, think about the up coming school year and so on… And, to make matters even harder, it’s been wonderfully rainy. All I want to do is read or think about craft projects. Is that so wrong?

greenbeans

Oh well. I have little less than a month left before I have to go back to work, so hopefully I can relax a bit and get some things checked off my to-do list. The month of May was busy with finishing up the school year, some fun photography sessions and the garden finally started to produce. We got a late start because of an abnormally cool spring, but the green beans seemed to love the cooler weather!

SpringArtShow

My kids did at great job at this year’s Spring ISD Spring Art Show. Four of the entries received the Judges Merit Award! I was so proud of all of their hard work. Above are a Matisse inspired fish bowl work done by a 2nd grader, an awesome neon tiger portrait by a 5th grader, a Jamming Giraffe by a 1st grader and winter birch trees by a third grader.

w_Img51

If you where checking in around May you probably saw some of the senior sessions I did. I also did some prom sessions and I got to document beautiful handmade quilts by a local Houston artist! If you want to see more prom photos check this post at A Sharper Focus Photography!

It was definitely a busy and fun month.

Quick Zucchini Tart

6 Aug

The zucchini plants in my garden didn’t do as well this year as they have in the past. This year has been much more damp and a little more mild, as far as Houston summers go, and they just didn’t seem to be as happy. Almost everything else in my garden has had a record year though, so it ends up balancing out.

I did have a hankering for zucchini the other day and I needed an excuse to use the puff pastry in my freezer.  After rooting around in my refrigerator I came up with this delicious and super easy tart.

Quick Zucchini Tart
Serves 3 – 4

1 frozen puff pastry
Olive oil
1 clove garlic minced
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon oregano
2 oz goat cheese
1/2 cup cream cheese
1 medium zucchini sliced into ribbons
1 egg

  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and have to puff pastry thawed and ready to go. Line a rimed baking sheet with parchment paper and lay the puff pastry in the middle of the pan.
  • In a small sauce pan warm about a Tablespoon of olive oil on medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until it is fragrant and slightly softened. Add the herbs, you can really add whatever kind of herbs you like, these are what I had fresh on hand. Cook the herbs for just a minute and then add the cheeses. Stir the cheeses constantly until they are well combined and soft enough to spread easily.
  • Take the cheese and herb mixture and spread it over the puff pastry leaving an inch border around the pastry. On top of the cheese, layer the ribbons of zucchini overlapping slightly. Sprinkle the top with salt and pepper and drizzle with a thin layer of olive oil.
  • Take the egg and beat it in a small bowl, and then using a small brush, burst the inside edge of the pastry with the egg before folding the pastry up and over the edge of the tart by about half an inch. Then brush the outside of the pastry with some egg as well.
  • Bake the tart in the over for about 20 minutes. The pastry should be lightly golden when done.  Let the tart sit for a few minutes before serving as it will be very hot.

May Garden Update

20 May

I was up early this morning and took advantage of the cooler temperatures to take some more pictures of the garden. Houston has been blessed this year with a mild spring and which I think has really helped the plants have a great start.

We have bell peppers, poblanos and jalapenos coming in.

There are lots of green tomatoes, these ones are cherry tomatoes! I can’t wait until they’ve ripened.

I’ve already eaten two eggplant and I have a least four more coming in. We have some Black Beauties and a Japanese variety that are long and slender.

We’ve had lots of cucumbers.

The first yellow squash and zucchini also came in this week. The black berries look like they’ll be ready any day now, right now only these three are ready. About two weeks ago I also started getting lots of green beans. I’m hoping they’ll re-flower and I’ll get some more before it gets too hot.

I had two strawberries. That’s right had. Did I get to eat them, no. There was a raccoon visiting earlier this week and I witnessed him eat the two ripe ones! Rude I know. Hopefully I’ll actually get to eat this one and the others that are coming in.

Can you believe how tall everything is? It amazes me every time I go out to the garden. And to end with a picture of the sun rising through the trees because I thought it was lovely. I hope everyone had a nice weekend!

Vegetable Garden Update!

15 Apr

I finally got my act together and have my summer garden up and running and I’m very excited about it. Last year I was a little more on the ball and had early spring vegetables like broccoli and peas in the ground by February, but some how February came and went in a flash this year and getting the garden ready just didn’t happen.

Here’s what the garden looks like as of this morning. About a month ago Sean and I cleared the beds, which were very overgrown with weeds because we never had a hard freeze this winter. We ended up using a water and vinegar solution to spray some of the really tough stuff down, and after a few days the weeds had died enough for us to pull them up. I am also trying a new weed prevention method this year. I have lined all of the beds with newsprint paper, I had a plethora from college art classes, and then I’ve mulched on top of the paper. So far it seems to be helping a lot, and I can also see a big improvement in the moisture retention of the beds.

Here’s a picture of the last bed I did today. I layed down the damp paper and then put a layer of mulch on top. These are the green beans. I grew a small bed of them last year and they did really well, plus they also froze very well, so I decided to plant a whole large bed of them this year.

Here are the two yellow crook neck squash.

In this bed we have a variety of peppers at one end and eggplant at the other.

Here are the cucumbers and zucchini which have lots of flowers on them already!

This year I also decided to make a change and plant my tomatoes in the ground. I had been planting them in large pots, but during the hot Texas summer it was very hard to maintain a constant moisture. They already seem to be doing much better than in past years. Here’s one bed of three different types of tomatoes and basil, and I have another one next to it.

Just outside the garden, along the fence, we planted black berries last winter and it looks like we will have lots of berries pretty soon.

I also found this renegade today! Last year I planted poll beans and I found this guy growing on the fence across the garden from were I had originally grown them. I think I’ll just let him be for now and enjoy the beans.

I’m getting excited to cook and eat fresh veggies from the garden.

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