Friday, August 9, 2013

Potato Salad for a Crowd

Potato Salad for a Crowd
Barbecues and picnics are a really fun way to feast with family and friends in the summertime.  One of the classic side dishes that is always welcome at these get -togethers is the All-American Classic Potato Salad.  This recipe is adapted from a Cook's Illustrated recipe, one of Ann's favorite resources. When I was recently invited to a barbecue and asked what I could bring, this was the request. I have doubled the original recipe here, with a few tweaks to suit our tastes, so this should easily serve 12 people.  I sometimes make a double batch of this if we are having a large gathering. It's always popular!
I love Cook's Illustrated!

5 # russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch cubes
table salt
1/4 c + 2 T distilled white vinegar
3 medium celery ribs, chopped fine (about 1 1/4 cups)
1/4 c + 2 T minced red onion
1/2 c sweet pickle relish
1 1/4 c mayonnaise (may need additional to taste)
1 T dry mustard ( I like Coleman's)
1T celery seed
1/4 c minced fresh parsley
3/4 t ground black pepper
8 large hard-cooked eggs, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch cubes

1.  Place potatoes in large pot, covering with cold water by 1 inch.  Bring to boil; add 1 T salt, reduce heat to simmer.  Stir a few times until potatoes are just tender (about 8 minutes).  Do not overcook, as potatoes will be mushy.

2.  Drain potatoes and transfer to a large bowl.  Add vinegar, and toss gently with a rubber spatula.  Let stand until potatoes are just warm, about 20 minutes.
Cooked potatoes...

3.  Meanwhile, stir together celery, onion, pickle relish, mayonnaise, cry mustard, celery seed, parsley, pepper, and 1 t salt.  Add eggs to potatoes, and gently fold dressing in.  Cover and refrigerate until chilled.  Can be made a day ahead.  If salad seems too dry, add a little more mayonnaise, as needed.
The dressing

Dressing ingredients

Celery, onion, egg and parsley

All the ingredients ready to mix together in my extra large bowl!

This bowl measures 24" across.  Looks are deceiving here.  This is a giant batch of potato salad!

This is a pretty foolproof recipe (the only kind I really like).  I use a gigantic bowl to mix it in.  I got this bowl from Smart & Final several years ago and I use it frequently.  So does my daughter, and my Mom, so that tells you that we do a lot of large group entertaining!  It comes in really handy for tossed salads as well.

I hope your summer is going well and you have a picnic or barbecue on your calendar in the near future.  Maybe this potato salad will be just the thing to bring!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Brighter Eyes

by Ann
School started yesterday.  It's amazing how wonderful and well-rested teachers look throughout the summer and at the very beginning of the school year.  A tell-tale sign of being worn out as the school year progresses is dark circles under the eyes.  I have been out of the classroom for eight years now, so don't have the wear and tear of 150 teenagers a day to blame the bags under my eyes, but heck, I'm eight years older and that's probably the reason I still have the complaint!
On June 18 I did a product review post for a great product, Ageless Derma Eye Cream after using it for two weeks.  I mentioned that I would do a follow-up at the eight-week point, which is now.  One of the things that I have loved about this product is that my eyes are extremely sensitive to many ingredients and fragrances that are included in eye creams, but the Ageless Derma never created a tear.  Additionally, by using it twice daily the area around my eyes seems moist, tighter, and a bit brighter. Are the dark circles gone 100%? Sorry to say, "no."  And yet I have learned to be realistic.  Within the last year I had two laser treatments to zap the pigmentation out of an age spot on my cheek (darn that sun exposure and old age), and yet the spot reappeared.  

With that said, the remaining hints of darkness under the eyes and the offending age spot can be masked with the other product I am sharing with you today.  I did not solicit a freebie -- the Benefit "Erase Paste"  is a product that I purchase and would recommend to anyone who wants a full-coverage concealer.  I am on my second package of it, and I'd estimate that the first one lasted six months.  The consistency is tackier and denser than a liquid concealer, but a little goes a long way and my foundation has worked well with it.

When I was talking about this post to a dear friend of mine at work she said that the "before" and "after" pictures would tell the story.  I'm not that brave.  Nor have I been trained to have a sour expression for a "before" picture, so you will have to take my word for it that the after picture would show a significant improvement.

Bottom line -- We do what we can to look as good as we can with the amount of time and financial resources that we want to devote to our appearance.  Both of these products are well within a teacher's budget, and last a long time.  I have used the eye cream regularly twice daily for eight full weeks and it is not nearly empty.  Although it was given to me free as a sample product, I would buy it again without hesitation.

Cheers to..
Being the best we can be, and not worrying about perfection!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Liquid Chalkers

by Ann
Our faithful readers know that one of my blog goals is to include reviews of new or cool products that we think our readers should know about or would enjoy.  It also provides post topics (hey, it's not as easy as you'd think to come up with something worthwhile to write about on a regular basis), and the fact that I get excited when free stuff arrives in the mail fuels my enthusiasm to seek out products to review!  
Along the lines of the thrill of getting stuff other than bills and ads in the mail --Liquid Chalkers, the product for this review can be purchased through Amazon.  I submitted the information about our blog with my request for a sample set, and honestly, two days later it was in my mailbox.  I thought that old age might be setting in with memory loss wondering what the heck I'd ordered from Amazon and had forgotten about.  Bottom line -- if you order these, they arrive in record time.  (Good thing I'm not losing my mind.  Not yet anyway....)

Even though the distributor of this product was looking for craft and "Mommy" bloggers to review the product, I saw a great application for them in school settings, which is what is illustrated in my photos. School starts for us in Arizona today (yikes!), so a lot of professional development for teachers (my job) happens a couple of weeks prior to students arriving in their classes.
Is this teacher smiling because of the vibrant red Chalker, or because he's being a good sport knowing his picture was being taken?  (My guess is the latter...)
I held a two day class focusing on active engagement strategies for a group of Career and Technical Education teachers in my district a week ago which provided me with the perfect opportunity to test out the Liquid Chalkers.  We provide teachers with classroom sets of mini whiteboards for students to write on which lets the teacher knows who "gets it," and who needs more instruction, so I use those whiteboards a lot to demonstrate what a quick and effective strategy it is.  Typically we use whiteboard markers, which are boring in comparison because the vast majority of those that we use are black, with an occasional red, green, or blue marker sneaking into the mix.  The colors of the Chalkers are very vibrant and a fun change of pace.
The "has" (nice green Chalker) and the "has-not" (black dry-erase marker).
Both do the trick, but fun color is "funner."
We used the Chalkers all day, so were even used on paper which is probably a waste of their potential, but it worked!
As I had the opportunity to read about the markers I found that they were developed by Louise Fox who states that through them the "creativity of her kids and husband was unlocked."  (Hmmm..... My guess is that the markers were the vehicle, and that they were already pretty creative...)  She shared stories about notes and drawings being left on windows, mirrors, and glass tables, which made it sound like a fun house to live in.  She did caution that not all surfaces are appropriate for this type of marker, and to be sure to test it out before doing anything big.  If the surface is too porous the markers will not come off easily.
Take a look at the blue marker tip in the upper left hand corner.  I had not yet gone through the steps for it to work yet.  Before it will write it must be shaken and pressed down until the ink penetrates the tip.
Since our blogging adventure began in November I am much more in tuned to all-things-online including reviews from customers (or those who have tried out recipes).  I was glad to see that out of 19 Amazon reviews, 17 gave a rating of 5/5 for the Liquid Chalkers.  I would agree -- these markers are multi-purpose, although the application that makes most sense is when you want something bright and vibrant to write with that will wipe right off with a paper towel or whiteboard eraser!

Note:  Even though I was given a sample set of the markers, my comments are a genuine reflection of my assessment of the product.  If you're looking for something snazzier than dry erase markers, check these out.

Tomorrow I will be doing a special Thursday-post for my eight-week follow up on the Ageless Derma Eye Cream and an additional great product to help reduce the appearance of dark under-eye circles!

Sheila will be doing the "Food Friday" post in exchange for me taking today's post.
As always, thanks to all of our friends and virtual friends who read what we're up to!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Summer Metallics

by Heather

I don't wear a lot of metallics in the summer. I did several years ago but now it seems I  reserve that look for the holiday season.  However, when a fellow blogger said that her link party this week was going to feature metallics, I thought I'd try to rise to the challenge. It was fun shopping my closet to see what I had, and once I got started it was hard to stop. Gold? Silver? Pewter? Maybe all three? Nah, I'll save the pewter for fall but I will do the gold and silver. I found outfits that I hadn't worn yet this summer and also put a couple of new pieces into play. I really like the idea of someone else suggesting a "theme" -- helps break me out of fashion ruts into which I fall.
Chico's jacket/pants; WHMB tank in white with silver sequins
Michael Kors purse and watch
Ann Taylor bracelet (top); Etsy Ocean Dreams Hawaii sterling starfish ring set
Sperry Topsiders in silver sequins
Chico's linen tunic and slacks; Michael Kors purse and sandals; WHBM belt (reversible: gold to silver)
Maybe my new Michael Kors purse would be a better summer accessory?
 Chico's open-weave gold sweater (with nude cami underneath) and dark denim jeans
I think my face looks like I'm saying, "Aren't we done yet?!" Nothing like a forced smile, eh?
New Chico's necklace with three removable brooches
Another Michael Kors purse and watch; Kiel James Patrick woven gold anchor bracelet
Coach navy and gold bangle; other bangles from local shop
Sperry Topsiders in gold metallic leather
And no photo shoot would be complete without a little welcome interrruption from the granddaughter and the puppy.
Pretty sweet pair, aren't they?
Wishing you a wonderful week full of smiles and wagging puppy dog tails!