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Baked Ziti

Baked Ziti
Originally uploaded by theartofmegan


12 oz bag pasta
1 can tomato sauce
1 can diced tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
1 can Italian style stewed tomatoes
1 cup mozzarella, grated
1 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, coarsely grated
1 cup ricotta cheese

Heat oven to 375. Boil pasta, drain. In pasta pan, combine all tomato products except stewed tomatoes. Heat on medium low until beginning to simmer, stirring often. Add ricotta cheese, mozzarella, and 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese. Return pasta to pan, stir well to combine.

Pour pasta and sauce mixture into a 13 x 9 x 2 glass baking dish, pressing out to the sides of the dish. Arrange sliced stewed tomatoes across top of pasta, and cover the top with remaining Parmesan cheese.

Place in oven uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes, checking top at 15 minutes for browning and melted cheese. Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

The squirrels got to my garden

My poor, freshly planted garden.

As you can see, the chives were completely uprooted. I didn't get to them in time. The oregano lost a chunk up front, but enough survived that when it starts to do well I'm sure we'll have no issues.

Turns out squirrels enjoy the smell of fresh dirt, and also enjoy crushing the dreams of a yummy spring garden.

No big loss, it's early and I started a bunch of different seeds today, organic chives included. We'll see how it all goes.

There was various digging in the several pots of tomato plants i have going as well. This one got the worst damage, with a hole dug a little deeper than my fist near the roots of two of the plants. The dirt was also scattered quite thoroughly across my formerly-clean balcony.

Dang squirrels. I'll have to come up with a solution here very soon.

Easy Peasy Craft Swap, April 2008

Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

I participated in my first craft swap on! I had a great partner by the screenname of Stick, and she made me a great package!

Here are all my items wrapped up and waiting for me with cute little hint notes. She also sent me a cute card.

Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

Here are all of my beautiful items unwrapped! She made me a fantastic set for my dining room. Look at the beautiful pattern on the fabric! The other side of the coaster and place mats are vinyl for moisture protection, and the napkins have a great leaf stitch border!

She also made me a great little swap journal, perfect for a first time swapper! I cannot believe how thoughtful she was.

Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

Here's what I made for Courtney (sn stick on for her swap gift. She loves polka dots, and she has some great colors in her sewing area. She has been hoping to add more green to the area, so I decided to do so :)

The needle book is designed with a pin-cushion cover. She has a small sewing area, so I decided space saving was a plus. Besides, keeping all like items in one place is something I'm trying to employ in my craft area, and maybe this will help her do the same!

There's also a box of long green pins, and a retractable push-button sewing tape.

Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

The needle book has alternating colored fabric pages, and alternating strips of fabric for needle placement. I filled each page with different types of needles, but made sure to leave plenty of room for her own collection.

Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

The fabric-covered sewing tape has a star embroidered where the push-button retractor is. It's got a ribbon hand-embroidered over the edges as well, and has inches on one side and centimeters on the other.

All in all, I had a great time crafting for Courtney! She was a great swap partner and I had so much fun in my first craft swap. You can bet I'll be doing another. And soon.

WOTD - April 9, 2008 - The Burlesque Forum

Why do I love burlesque so much? Is it because I love the freedom an artistic, naked woman expresses? Is it because there's just something amazing about great lingerie, great boobs, and great pasties? What about the showmanship and creativity? All of the above!

Here's a great forum I found while browsing tonight:
The Burlesque Forum
I love the video clips and great burlesque snippets and questions. Really makes me want to take the hula hooping class with my friend Rachel that starts at the end of the month. At the ending class of the session, you light your hoops on fire! I mean come on, how cool is that?

WOTD - April 8, 2008 - Green Living Ideas

I really enjoyed checking this site out today. I read several articles out of their food and cuisine section, as well as four or five in the fashion and beauty section. I like that there are several different topics to browse through and lots of great tips and resources to assist you in making the right choices for yourself and for the earth.

Green Living Ideas

I have a feeling I'll be popping back there every so often.

WOTD - April 7, 2008 - 2-mile Challenge

I live less than 2 miles from work. As a matter of fact, it'd be a shorter distance if I rode my bike than if I drove. Yet, I drive to work every day. What the heck? I even have a bike, it just needs new tires. *Sigh* What is wrong with me?

Here's something cool I saw tonight while surfing: Clif Bar 2-Mile Challenge

I am going to do the math very soon to figure out how much it will cost to get my bike up and running with new tires, a lock, and a new seat if i need it. However much it is, I'm going to spend so much less on and conserve so much gas if I'm riding my bike. Plus, think about how good the buns are gonna look!

Poor Sad Panda.

He's very sad today. *sniff*

First Flash Experiment

Played with flash for the first time today, here's what I came up with:

Spring Cleaning and Balcony Garden Setup 2008

Balcony mess
Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

More spring cleaning! Here's what the eyesore of a view on my balcony has been for the last oh, couple of months. Yuck. I did something about it yesterday, and started my garden too!

How NOT to balcony garden
Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

I have this funky neighbor. He's kind of weird, he's got a life sized cut out of mel gibson braveheart style in his living room, and he has a bunch of funky lights strung out around his balcony and outside his front porch area downstairs. I think he sells plants at a farmer's market or SOMETHING, but either way, I got a decent photo of his not-so-attractive gardening methods. I figured I'd post them as an idea of how NOT to set up my balcony garden!

So I got the whole balcony cleaned off, all the dead leaves and pine needles and old dead plants thrown away, and got the whole thing swept thoroughly. I moved mark's tools and my bike against the wall, and pushed the bins and all the pottery into the other corner on that same side. I put the new window box planters up, and organized my gardening supplies.

Lava Rocks for drainage
Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

So one thing I've started doing in all my containers is adding a layer of something along the bottom to allow for extra drainage. I usually use large gravel or some other kind of small rocks, but here's what I realized when I was trying to clean out my pots from last year: rocks in pots are heavy! Ugh!

Here's my solution: Lava rocks! Mainly used in hydroponics, these are a great size, are very lightweight, provide great drainage, and are also porous, adding a little more usable room for water to be stored. This is great for me, since I tend to have a little bit of a problem keeping my herbs hydrated come the warmer months. I just pour a thin layer across the bottom, and continue with my container potting mix from there.

Here's the first of the herbs. On the left are the garlic chives that I saved from last year's window boxes (I wonder what kind of flavor they still have) and greek oregano. There's still room for when I sprout the rest of the herbs over the next few weeks.

Salsa, here we come!
Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

There's no shortage of tomato plants at my house right now.

On the very left in the taupe pot, there are 5 beefsteak tomato plants. The first small green pot to your left has another large variety red tomato, and the second small green pot has a yellow pear tomato plant. The large green pot has 3 more beefsteaks, and the far right in the purple ceramic pot is a cute little jalapeño.

My mom said she planted an onion that sprouted the other day. Once my cilantro gets going, we'll just need a lemon and we'll have some great salsa!

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