Category Archives: The Grapevine

The Grapevine Hey, July

It’s that time again. Time to share a little love. Here are some of the things I just can’t get enough of!

  • Or this single serving portion of Cherry Crisp, oh and no oven necessary!!
  • I have these Shrimp and Crab Enchiladas on the menu for next week. Mr. Maebell isn’t a huge enchilada fan but when I told him they had shrimp AND crab he was all in!

I just got my first Stitch Fix, and I am super disappointed. If you haven’t heard of it you can read about it here. Basically, it is an online styling service. You fill out this big style profile that asks you things like what size you are, what your most comfortable in, what you wear most often, etc. It even goes as far as showing photos of clothes and you rate if you like it, love it, or hate it.

I guess if you are a major shopper it would seem pointless but I only appear to be a good dresser. I am actually horrible at dressing myself. I worked in retail for years and luckily my coworker (Hi Andrea!!) just picked out my clothes for me. When those wear out I am screwed.

The only things I said I specifically did not want were sleeveless things or really thin/see through materials. I hate having to wear a tank top under everything. Well they sent three see through tops, a sleeveless dress, and a huge gold bangle. I sent it all back. Have you had better luck? Should I try again? I can’t decide!

And just for fun, here are some photos from Mr. Maebell from this month.

The Grapevine: Hey, July The Grapevine: Hey, July The Grapevine: Hey, July The Grapevine: Hey, July The Grapevine: Hey, July The Grapevine: Hey, July Happy Tuesday Friends!

 

 

 

The Grapevine: Behind the Blog

Confession: I am a covertly nosy person. Not like a major in your face, who what where kind of nosy person, but more like a hmmm..I am going to casually listen to what you are saying then go home and Facebook stalk until I figure out the situation.

I don’t know why! I am just curious about things!

Since I have started blogging I have found myself increasingly curious on other bloggers processes. I love when bloggers show a little glimpse of how things come to be or what it takes to make a post. So, just in case you are nosy curious like me I thought I would share what my process looks like.

Now, I am not a “professional” blogger. This site came to be for a couple of reasons, one of which, was the need for a creative outlet. I work a regular job that allows for absolutely zero, zilch, NO creativity whatsoever. Even the art in my office is boring! Urgh! So in an effort not to completely lose my mind I needed a place that was all mine. Someplace I can share thoughts, recipes, photos, and little pieces of my life. That is how Maebells was born.

So this is a little glimpse of how I work.

It all starts with these. Notebooks! Lots and lots of notebooks! I am an obsessive list maker and note taker. Each notebook has a purpose. One is for scheduling and self imposed deadlines. The one covered in food is the one that sits firmly on the kitchen counter. I write down everything I cook and how I cook it. Then I write down every blessed suggestion Mr. Maebell gives and any tweaks I think need to be made. I am fairly certain there needs to be a support group for spouses of food bloggers. :)
I have another notebook just dedicated to ideas. Pages and pages of recipe ideas, flavor combos, topics I want to write about, just whatever is interesting to me at the time. This is my favorite one because I love to look back and see things I wrote weeks or months ago. It is amazing how many I can’t remember I thought of!

Notebooks

I am also a major magazine hoarder. I can’t bare to throw one away! I love referring back to them when I am trying to get ideas for how to style a photograph or inspiration for props.

Cookbooks! I could write a book about how I feel about cookbooks. In short, I adore them. Most people curl up with a cup of coffee and a good book. Nope, not me, I will read every single word of a cookbook, cover to cover. My absolute favorites are community cookbooks. You know, like church cookbooks. I am especially in love with them if they are old and Southern. I will rarely ever cook from these because they all call for three cups of mayo, a pound of bacon grease, and seven cups of cheese, but I love to see how things evolve over the years. And if there is handwriting in them -oh don’t even get me started! I definitely have to make the recipe, with the handwritten adjustments, and make up a complete back story for whoever wrote it, cooked it, and for what occasion.

Cookbooks

Then there is the actual cooking. I generally spend one entire day each weekend dedicated to cooking, recipe development and photography. That is kind of absurd, I know. However, that is really the only way I can keep up with posting as often as I do. Most of the time I really don’t mind it. I mean I genuinely  love doing it. Sometimes I do get lucky and am able to make dinner after work and photograph it before I run out of daylight, but that doesn’t happen a lot.

The photography. I struggle in this area. Probably because I need to learn to SLOW THE HECK DOWN! I have this horrible problem of working on the blog when I am starving! So I make the food and either spend a little time staging, snap a few photos and then eat. Or I spend like no time staging, take a million shots that all look the same, then eat. Urgh. I am really trying to learn some serious self control and be mindful of the lighting, only use pops that add instead of distract from a photo, and upload the photos before I move anything. Sometimes a photo will look fine when I review it on the camera, but the second I see it on a computer screen I see exactly what I should have changed.

Little Helper

Say hello to Copper, my little helper. More often than not, I am cropping little doggy snouts out of the photos. I shutter to think what they have done to the food when I turned my back on them. :)

My photography set up is is not very sophisticated. We have a bar height kitchen table (to avoid the doggy snouts) and I find it impossible to set anything on the table to photograph. I am just too short. When I try this I end up standing on the tall chair, which I am certain will one day end in me breaking my neck and/or the camera, so instead I opt for something lower. If I am photographing something small, like the drinks above I just make my set up in one of the chairs. If not, I just pull these two baskets over from the living room and lay down a painted sheet of plywood. I usually use this as my “tabletop” for photographs. I have two boards like this, each side is painted a different color giving me four options. I found this plywood at Lowe’s for about $6 each. A really small investment that gives me a couple options for backgrounds. I also have two or three pieces of tile I picked up from Lowe’s for less than two dollars each. The brown boards you see are called craft boards or hobby boards and I found them at Home Depot for $1.98 each, one side is stained brown and the other is grey. However, if your thinking of doing a backdrop like that I don’t recommend using grey. It doesn’t seem to photograph all that well. Other than that, the props I use are all regular household items.

Photography

This whole blogging thing isn’t just fun and games. Unfortunately, there are things that go with this site that I don’t enjoy. Actually, some of the things I downright despise. Those things include loading and unloading the dishwasher, cleaning the counter tops, and general maintenance in the kitchen. Ha! Fortunately, Mr. Maebell and I had had a long standing “I cook, you clean”rule, so he helps me out with a lot that.

Now I am curious about you! For my blogger friends out there what does it take to make your blog run? Is your routine similar to mine? Do you operate totally differently?

The Grapevine: Hey, June

I am way overdue for a new addition of The Grapevine. I have a couple projects in the works that I can’t wait to share with you, but today I have got to share some of the fabulous things I have come across. There is so much good stuff out there!

Let’s start things off with the food. Clearly, that is what I take the most seriously.
  • This ice cream. Stop it. You had me at chocolate and salted caramel.
  • This Strawberry Lemonade from Cindy at Pick Fresh Foods. I’m obsessed with this, the recipe only calls for 1/3 cup of sugar where most lemonade recipes have piles of sugar!
  • This cake, okay the cake is phenomenal. But if you are a fellow food blogger read the whole post. Loved it. Totally spoke to me.
  • This grilled corn has me swooning.
  • Gayle came up with these peanut butter bites, we made them and ate them all in like one day. My fellow peanut butter loves, make this. You will be glad.
  • I am loving these vegetarian sliders. Perfect for summer entertaining.
  • This dressed up Alfredo sauce is pretty much all I can think about. Alfredo+Spinach+Pesto = Perfection.
  • This tart…holy cow. I have never seen a tart this beautiful! Simply stunning presentation. And on top of that, tons and tons of mango. I need it!

Last weekend marked the first real weekend of summer for us because Mr. Maebell made his ceremonial first of summer BBQ. I purchased a crazy expensive Boston Butt at the grocery, he rubbed it down with spices and woke up at 4:00am to put it on the grill, so it would cook low and slow for 14 long hours. The smell of BBQ wafted through our neighborhood and tortured us, and our neighbors all day.

BBQ

Unfortunately, I also had THE WORST allergies I have ever had this weekend. It looked like I had been crying all day because my eyes were watering so bad. I couldn’t breathe at all, I couldn’t even talk because I was coughing so much. It was really awful. I took a 24 hour allergy medicine and waited and waited for it to work. Four hours later I told Mr. Maebell we HAD to do something else because I was miserable. He researched and told me I could take another medication. So, I popped the pill and hoped for the best. That is pretty much the last thing I remember. I woke up at almost 9 that night. It knocked me completely out. I didn’t even remember eating his fabulous BBQ! What a bummer! On the up side, I could breathe and felt a million times better when I woke up! :) And the left over BBQ was out of this world!

Just in case you haven’t decided what to make for Father’s Day on Sunday, I have rounded up a couple of my favorite “man food” dishes. All are easy and delicious!

And because I am continuously amazed at what my husband can do with a camera, here are some photos courtesy of Mr. Maebell.

Early Morning

Shotgun Shell

 

Sunrise

Little Copper

The Grapevine: Spring Edition

Good things are happening, the weather is getting warmer, grass is growing, flowers are blooming. I love it! It is time to open our windows and let the fresh air in. It’s time to crank up the grill, and take the dogs for a walk. Basically, time to get out of the house! I think this winter got to me way worse than normal. I think I had a pretty significant case of cabin fever!

Sunrise

Branches

Woods

Aren’t these beautiful?

Mr. Maebell has become quite the photographer. He is currently putting my photography skills to shame!

Mr. Maebell and I worked on our yard this weekend. It is in need of some major TLC. Two big dogs and a very wet winter did nothing for our humble little yard. We got the basic maintenance done, but we are planning on reseeding and working on filling a few holes those precious fur babies dug. However, the longer I stood out there this weekend the more I got to thinking about creating some type of outdoor living space. That sounds great, right? Nothing fancy, maybe a stone patio, a real place to put our fire pit. Just a place to enjoy some fresh air. If you follow me on Pinterest you may have noticed I went a little crazy with the patio options.

I could tell that Mr. Maebell noticed the gears were churning in this little brain of mine. He is trying awfully hard to put a pin in it before I decide to build a gazebo, put in a pond and plant seven trees without actually saying “No” to me. We will just see how it goes. ;)

In other news, I have some things for you that I am really loving. Take a look!

Now for a sneak peak of things I have been working on!

Lemon Granola Bars

Fresh lemon zest? Oats? Roasted Almonds and Poppy seeds? Good things are happening here!

Cilantro Lime Shrimp

We had ourselves a little fiesta the other night! Fresh shrimp, lime juice, chopped cilantro, rice and salsa verde made an awesome 20 minute meal! Recipe coming tomorrow!

Three Cheese Pasta

Here I go again with these skillet meals! This is another one dish 20 minute meal I came up with. I have to tell you, we are totally in love with this one!

And just in case you have ever wondered what the creation of this little website looks like. This is it. Just me and my boys doing a little Saturday morning blogging.

The Boys

Momma’s boys, I tell you…Momma’s boys!

If you ever see any spelling or grammatical errors I will blame it on the fact that the little one is likely helping me type.

The Boys

There you have it. Happy Wednesday from my whole crew!

The Grapevine: Why Perfect is Overrated

So I have been doing a bit of thinking lately.

Be Real

There has been this little thing irking me, and I just need to get it off my chest. We live in this fast paced, crazy, technology filled world where you have access to pretty much anything just by hopping online and searching for it. I think that is great and all… it is that same technology that allows me to have this little corner here on the web where I get to talk to you and share ideas. I am so very thankful for that.

But it has also created this “Pinterest Generation,” if you will. You know what I mean. An entire group of people who are constantly flooded with these images of perfectness. A perfectly plated dinner, perfect makeup, perfect clothes, a perfect home, perfect garden…the list goes on and on. The photos of food and place settings could even make Martha Stewart look pitiful!

Don’t get me wrong, I am guilty, too. I pin the pictures. I admire them. I even get the idea stuck in my head that if my house doesn’t look EXACTLY like my Dream Home pinterest board I am a complete and utter failure. I make food to share with you. Then I wait until the lighting is just so.  I take about 50 shots using different garnishes, place mats, and napkins just so it looks perfect.

Can we just stop and take a moment here.

You are not a failure if the food you cook isn’t pretty.
You are not a failure if you can’t apply your eye shadow correctly, and you don’t know how to french braid your hair.
You are not a failure if you can’t build your own furniture out of pallets.

That world, that oh-i-was-born-an-expert-at-this-i-have-never-failed-at-anything-ever attitude that is creeping up on us. Let’s stop. Let’s just be real. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses.

Embrace both. Embrace them whole heartily.

Both of those… your good days, your bad, your wins, your losses, your successes, and your failures. They built you.

They made you.

And you, yes you, sitting right there reading this are totally unique. Nobody else in this world has what you have to offer.

Embrace it my friend!

So, in honor of taking the good and the bad, in honor of being real. I am sharing some of my failures with you. Some of these were good ideas with poor execution, some were just terrible ideas all together. But they are mine, and I am owning them.

Here we go!

roast chicken

So, this one time I was going to show you how to roast a chicken. Except I roasted it wrong side up which made for some fairly unflattering photos.

roast chicken

Speaking of photos, aren’t these terrible? Yes, that is black poster board I was using as a background. What was I thinking? Fail!

For the record, the chicken actually tasted great!

lemon cake

Lemon cake…oh lemon cake. I love it, yet I butchered this one. Sometimes you just need to leave things alone. I had a great cake but I tried to be fancy and add a healthy(?) strudel topping and sliced almonds. Okay, so in order to create a nice crumb like topping you need butter…and sugar. Without it you are just kind of sprinkling flour on top, which is basically what I did.

And these pictures….oh dear. Yellow lemon cake doesn’t belong on a greenish cake stand. Again, Fail!

lemon cake

This was going to be so great! A Pancetta and Pepper strata, I saved the last couple slices of my precious gluten free bread for this dish, but only had like 4 eggs. Instead of going to the store and buying more or just changing my plan I said, “oh I will just wing it!” The result? Very dry, eggy croutons with even drier peppers and pancetta stuck to them. We ate cereal that day. Fail!

strata

strata

You know that lovely Sausage and Spinach Quiche I shared with you? Well this was my first attempt at photos. Sheesh! Fail!

sausage and spinach quiche

This is just the tip of the iceberg my friends. For every tasty, nicely photographed recipe I share with you, there are two or three that failed. Behind this blog there is a messy kitchen, an expensive grocery bill, a full refrigerator, a faithful taste tester, a lot of determination, and a stockpile of Chocolate Chex for our inevitable failures. But that is okay, because it’s this beautiful mess that keeps life so interesting.

Perfection is so very boring. What would I have to write about?

 

Grapevine: From the Homeplace

All of the photos for today’s installment of The Grapevine were taken with Instagram. If you are on Instagram lets be friends! 

 

Today’s installment of The Grapevine comes directly from the homeplace.

The Farm
As I type this, I am sitting on the back porch staring at nothing but wide open spaces. I have a blanket over me and a cup of coffee next to me. I can’t hear anything except wind chimes and the dogs playing in the barn lot.
It is a far cry from the home I share with Mr. Maebell in the suburbs.

The differences in these two places I call home is a complicated thing. It is something I wonder if I will ever really straighten out in my head.Playhouse

Home, the real home, the one where I grew up, the one where I sit right now definitely means the most. The memories rooted here are deep. I could tell you a story about every room, like the hole that was haphazardly patched in the bedroom I grew up in. My brother and I had knocked something over, resulting in a deep hole right next to the door. We panicked and fixed it with wood putty (because we thought walls were made of wood). Then painted over it and dried it with a hair dryer. The hole went unnoticed for years until the summer before I went to college.

It is impossible to look at that messy patch job without smiling.

Or the tree in the front yard my siblings and I would climb. For some reason, that tree looks a lot smaller to me than it used to.

Climbing Tree

Then you have the home I share with Mr. Maebell. Our first home, the one we have remodeled and repainted. There is not a fixture in that place I have not refinished. It has been a labor of love. Sure, it lacks the character of the farm house I grew up in but that home saw us through college, an engagement, a wedding, it is the first place I ever got mail with my new name on it. The place our best friend lived with us when he returned from overseas, the place my brother moved for his first year of college. These walls have been host to some of the biggest moments of my life. How could I not call this place home, too?

Tree

Even though both of these places are near and dear to me I know neither one of them is permanent. I have already moved away from my first home, and I know our time is limited in this little house we live in now. They are chapters in our story, but they are not the whole book. I know we will move on and have other homes, probably some we love, and some we don’t. But I will forever be grateful for the houses that made me.

How very lucky I am to have two places I call home.

The Grapevine

I have a whole bunch of good stuff to share with you this week, but I wanted to take a quick break from the usual and share some of the things I am loving lately. This is part of a new feature here on Maebells called The Grapevine. Here we go!

This picture…this was taken while I was working on Taco Lasagna last week. Clearly you can see who rules the roost.

The Boys

One year ago today, this picture was taken. Yep. This happened.

That is how Mr. Maebell became Mr. Maebell. I thought we were just going to take pictures. For years all of our photos were taken by me setting up the tripod, setting the self time and running into the picture. Well, I set the timer, ran into the photo, and this is what happened. To be totally honest I thought he dropped something at first. Ha!

I am forever thankful to have this sneaky man in my life.

Mr. Maebell

Other things…Mr. Maebell has spent a few days away recently reminding me how much I enjoy his presence and the solitude of his absence all at the same time. Weird huh? It has given me a chance to do girly things, like watch Steel Magnolias, play with nail polish, and let the dogs sleep in the bed. :)

And now a sneak peek of things to come!

Spinach & Avocado

Lots of good things going on in this picture! Fresh avocado, baby spinach, salsa, sour cream, and a spicy three pepper cheese! Guess what I am making with this?

Recipe and an endearing story of good intentions and a lamb named Clue are coming!

Strawberries

Mercy!

Does a plate of food get any prettier than this? I don’t think so, I will be sharing my favorite go to fancy girl appetizer with you soon!

Pie

I have my absolute favorite breakfast recipe for you. Spinach, sausage, cheese, how can you go wrong with an ingredient list like that!

There you have it!

Just a couple of things I am loving these days. I’ll be back tomorrow with recipes! Until then, Friends!