Monday, August 31, 2009


Question. As Dwight Schrute might say. (Do you love The Office? Anyone? New season 9/17) Rather, questions. Plural. A few months into this blog, I have some questions for you, dear readers. This one sided conversation can be a little lonesome.
  1. What do you think of Rotten Bananas? Do you enjoy the content?
  2. How can I improve the content? What areas would you like to see included? I would greatly appreciate your ideas & suggestions.
  3. Would you enjoy seeing some video posts? maybe a tutorial on sewing, do it yourself projects, holiday crafts or cooking? Perhaps visits to creative, talented, inspiring people? Or grown up field trips to cool homes, gardens & studios?
  4. If you're reading this blog, but haven't signed up as a follower or subscriber, are you facing obstacles? Would you like step by step instructions on signing up as a follower? Is it the hassle factor? Or you just don't want to commit?
I know. Too many questions for a Monday morning. But, I'm trying to grow my little blog into bunches and bunches of rotten bananas followers! So, I hope you find it worth the time to provide a bit of feedback. My email address is if that's the easiest way to communicate or post a comment for all to see. Thank you. Happy Monday.

Friday, August 28, 2009

dr. baker

This is Dr. Baker.
Bill and Cindy's big sweet boy.
Healer of broken hearts.
Friend to all.

This is his new bed.
Delivered just today.
I put it in his favorite spot.
In the kitchen by the window.
In the center of it all.

Where his favorite people bustle about all through the day.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

who you callin' cupcake?

When I wrote this post on Hey Cupcake! in Austin a couple of weeks ago, I thought it might be nice to forward a link to their email address. Well, I got this great t shirt in the mail just a few days ago. Wasn't that a nice surprise? Cupcakes just make people friendly I guess.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

that's just wrong

I was all set to make a creamy corn bisque for dinner tonight. was 99 degrees outside! Hot bisque? 99 degrees? That's just wrong. Rushing fall to suit my own agenda. What was I thinking? I shifted gears and ended up with a very nice layered room temp salad using the following ingredients:

1 purple onion
4 ears fresh corn
1 cucumber
2 sliced tomatoes
1 slice of bacon
bite sized fresh mozzarella cheese
handful of fresh basil
about a tsp. of butter
drizzle of olive oil
red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

This is how it came together:

Melt butter. Add slice of diced bacon. Cook for a minute. Add onion. Cook another minute. Add fresh corn that you've cut off the cob. Saute until the corn is done.
Put in attractive bowl.
Peel, seed and dice cucumbers and layer on top of corn base.
Slice tomatoes and layer on top of cucumbers.
Cube fresh mozzarella and sprinkle on top of tomatoes.
Then basil.
And last. A drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.
Great! I would've loved that salad under of piece of grilled fish. Next time.
What would YOU have made with these ingredients??

UPDATE 8/27 Look at Fay's version. She's been possessed by Julia. Nicely done Fay.

Friday, August 21, 2009

sweet friday photos

Kalynn just returned from Lake City, Colorado. Small town life. A different pace. Great beauty all around.

Who needs signage? Dry erase allows for flexible hours.

Roof top garden.

When his truck dies, he retires.
Enjoy your last weekend of summer!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

a post-it post.

My girls love brand new school supplies. White paper, sharp pencils and unblemished 3 ring binders are packed up and ready for the locker. I only recall lunch box excitement and concern over whether or not my text books were covered properly. Did you have those complicated book covers sponsored by the electric company or some nearby bottling company or car dealership? Cut here. Cut there. Fold this and that. Now fold under and around and tuck the flap here. If done properly, you didn't even need tape. Sadie's all time favorite supply? Post its! Look at this cool video.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

i'll bring the hammer. you bring the wood

Meet Granddad and Granpoppy. Their youngest are married to each other. Smart, handy, generous, super capable and hard working, they are in the process of building a major carport for their kids.

This is what retirement looks like if you're Granddad and Granpoppy. These guys are never without a project.

These nail-guns-for-hire are a bargain. All they want is an occasional visit from the grandkids and a cold beer at the end of the day.

It's looking good guys. Like it'll stand forever.
Click the play arrow below and enjoy this sweet and fitting song that Sadie found.
Don't skip the song, ok?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

my fast food, part 2

I made the mistake of forgetting my lunch for work yesterday. I won't do that again. I was ravenous when I got home. Ate any and everything in my path. I'm trying to pull my eating back on track after a summer free for all. When your 3 day dirty work jeans are still tight, it's time. So, here is another healthy layered lunch idea using foods I had on hand.

Bottom layer - cole slaw mix
next - last nights leftover roasted new potatoes with onion
next - chopped turkey
next - fresh sliced tomatoes
olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper over the top
I still had some room in my container, so I set a small cup of cantaloupe on the top of everything.


Monday, August 17, 2009


I spied this super cool tote at the fairgrounds last week. It was made by a girl named Susan Randall from plastic grocery bags that she had cut into strips and knitted together. It was amazing. I loved it. She had it filled to the brim with homemade jelly that she was entering in the upcoming State Fair of Texas. I bet Susan has a wall covered in rosettes.

It was pretty large and quite sturdy. I'm crazy about the bands of yellow and brown. Don't you enjoy meeting creative, resourceful people like Susan? Every material has possibilities. If you like the whole idea of reusing existing materials, you'll enjoy this little post via A Cup of Jo, about a darling girl who made a neat top from a sheet she found at Goodwill.

Friday, August 14, 2009

sweet friday photos

A sweet little collection of photos to finish the week.  Our family weekend includes a bit of slumber partying, a day of work and hopefully a chance to fire up the sewing machine.  What about you?  I have an idea.  If you cook something yummy, go on a fun outing or make something you're happy with, take a photo and send my way.  I'd love to see what you're up to!

photos via, sarah small, laurie frankel and myself   

Thursday, August 13, 2009

it's the little things. the itty bitty things

Did you have a piggy bank when you were a kid? Do you have one now? I do. Not a piggy, but a doggy bank. I've been tucking coins and some of the folding stuff in mine for the past few months. Clearly, not a mind bending idea. Just a little jump start on holiday saving. Plus, the dog is cute.

Here is another simple idea that requires some thinking ahead. Wouldn't a collection of clear mason jars make for a simple but elegant Thanksgiving table? I know. It's only August and the Halloween costumes are barely out, but honestly, you'll need time to hit some garage sales between now and November to find the varieties of shapes and sizes for the biggest impact. I think it's great. How about you?
Little things. Nice finish.

mason jar photo via apartment therapy

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

local flavor-austin-moonlight serenade

Full moon. A cooler full of cold drinks. Rice Krispies treats. Quilts spread on the hillside with a perfect view of the stage. Kick off your shoes and get comfy. It's show time. This was the magical setting for Music Man, this years Zilker Park Musical production. What a perfect way to end our trip.

The actors pass the hat at intermission. You give what you can. With pleasure. In recent years we've seen Annie Get Your Gun, the Will Rogers Follies and Beauty and the Beast. Tuck this little treat in the back of your mind for next summer.

My nieces know him as Eric, pianist for their children's choir. But tonight, he's Harold Hill, star of the show.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

local flavor - austin edition 2

We flipped for Feathers, a beautifully edited vintage and designer clothing boutique. Displayed by color, it was a luxury to take it all in.
I was lost in pink when I spied this precious Ruby Pearl dress. Sadly, out of our price range. I actually bought Sadie a Ruby Pearl dress years ago at another Austin favorite, Big Red Sun.
The designer, Sunny Haralson, over dyes vintage slips and embellishes with all sorts of great fringe, lace, sheer aprons and crocheted pieces to create one of a kind dresses. I think they're incredible.

This little number was a hit at the daddy/daughter dance. No chance she saw herself coming and going!

Even now, Sophie has found brand new ways to wear the dress turned top. Do you think the designer would enjoy knowing how we've loved this dress? She might say enough already, buy a new dress from me! If you'd like to buy a dress from her, go here.

Monday, August 10, 2009

local flavor - austin

Our last summer excursion. Even at 104 degrees, Austin just couldn't be any cooler. Thanks to my fun and hospitable siblings for showing us such a good time. Austin always feels like one big party. Local flavor coming right up.

Who could resist a cupcake shop outfitted with a skinny mirror? Everyone looks like a leggy supermodel. I'll take two please! hey cupcake! started as a roadside eatery by a guy named Wes who dispensed cupcakes from the window of a shiny Airstream trailer on South Congress. Now, Airstream food stands are sprinkled about the city selling everything from shaved ice (all proceeds donated to Dell Children's Hospital) to brisket tacos to Flip Happy crepes and Wes has added a storefront. All delicious and cheap.

Pizza 'til like 3 a.m.

If you find yourself in Austin, pay a visit to hey cupcake! click here for locations.

In the meantime, here is my favorite vanilla cupcake recipe:

1 3/4 c. cake flour
1 1/4 c. unbleached all purpose flour
2 c. sugar
1 T baking powder
3/4 t. salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch cubes
4 large eggs
1 c. whole milk
1 t. pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a muffin pan with paper liners.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flours, sugar, baking powder and salt, and mix on low until combined. Add butter, mixing until just coated with flour.
In a large measuring cup, whisk together the eggs, milk and vanilla. With the mixer on medium, add liquid ingredients in three parts, scraping down the sides of bowl before each
addition. Beat until ingredients are incorporated, but do not over beat.
Divide batter evenly among the muffin cups, filling them to two thirds full. Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until a cake tester comes out clean, about 17 to 20 minutes.
Cool before frosting.
Makes about 30 cupcakes if you keep your fingers out of the batter.

Vanilla Frosting

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
8 c. powdered sugar
1/2 c. milk
1 t. vanilla
glob of cream cheese to your liking - optional - around here, we think everything tastes better with cream cheese!

Cream butter until smooth with an electric mixer. Add the rest of the ingredients and whip until smooth.

Friday, August 7, 2009

my rules

I love this less than subtle reminder to check your rudeness at the door. Have you had a good week? We're returning from Austin, the last leg of our summer tour before the girls head back to school. Come back on Monday for some highlights from the state capitol. Enjoy your weekend!

photo by malina pearson

Thursday, August 6, 2009

ultimate tent

Thanks to my friend Pete for keeping me in his loop of coolness and sending along this perfectly delightful tent from Conran's. As he said, a perfect combination of summer outdoors, family and fun textiles. I couldn't agree more.
And for all my Jewish pals, wouldn't this make an incredible sukkah? We still have time as Sukkot begins October 3 and ends October 9th.
***A slight correction. My Jewish husband says the top has to be open on the sukkah. Perhaps a skylight would suffice?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

iphone. therefore i am

We ditched our land line just last week. So far, we haven't missed it a bit. My friend Stephanie, on the other hand, took it a little harder. She actually took a quiet moment to mourn the loss of our old friend xxx-xxx-xxxx. Now I find myself forced into cell vigilance. Dead battery unacceptable. No more forgetting it on the kitchen table. A commitment to family and friends to be more available. More findable. It goes against my grain. I reluctantly inherited Alan's first generation iPhone. A real step up from Sophie's hand me down chunky red flip. So, here I am. Ready or not. Charged, wired and ready to chat.

Drawing, Current State of Affairs, Willie Baronet

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

happy tomato-ann west

I couldn't be more excited about my first ever guest blogger! Won't you say hello to my dear friend, photographer, and talented home chef, Ann West? Not only is she a fabulous entertainer, she's also innovative in the kitchen on a daily basis cooking for her family. You're going to love her ideas. Please comment on her post so she'll come back to see us! Enough of my yakking.

happy tomato photo by Ann West

here's ann....

happy tomato...

The tomato might very well be the most versatile, friendly and extraordinary food created. Raw, roasted, mashed, juiced, sliced, diced, pickled, fried... you get my drift. Right now they are in their peak of season. But don't rely on your grocer. Somehow those tomatoes just don't cut it. Find a farmers market, roadside grove stand or someone with a garden in their back yard. It is worth the search.

Here are a couple of my favorite happy tomato recipes:

Tomato Bruschetta Dip

This is a stand-by for me when I entertain although I personally could eat an entire bowl. It is fresh and so yummy. I serve it with different types of cracker breads or toasted baguette slices. The left overs are great with a poached egg too.

1 pint cherub tomatoes - or 2 cups of any firm red tomato - diced small

1 shallot diced small

3-4 stalks of heart of palm - chopped

3-4 artichoke hearts - chopped

3 Tbls capers

bunch of fresh basil - chopped or julienne

fresh parsley chopped

a good sprinkle of red pepper flakes

zest of a lemon - and one squeeze of juice

ground black pepper to taste

2 -4 good glugs of extra virgin olive oil

toss and let stand for 30 min. All of the ingredients should meet your taste - so add or leave out... experiment and have fun.

Rustic Tomato Pie

Nothing is better than pie and you already know my love of the tomato. A friend served this classic southern dish at a party alongside BBQ. It stole the show. I adapted this one from a Paula Dean recipe.

4 large tomatoes, sliced & drained

3/4 cup real mayo

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

3 -4 green onion chopped

fresh basil, thyme or oregano

cayenne pepper to taste

salt and pepper to taste

1 pie crust, store bought, fillo or make your own. I used a JC galette recipe here.

Preheat oven to 375

Slice the tomatoes thick, sprinkle with salt and place them in a colander to drain. 10 min or so. Mix the mayo, cheese, onion and cayenne together. Roll out your crust and place on a cookie sheet. Pat your drained tomatoes and place them in the center of the crust. Top with herbs and cheese mixture. Fold the edges of the crust over the tope of the pie but not covering the pie. Crack pepper on top and bake for 25 - 30 minutes until brown and bubbly. Once out of the oven let stand for a bit and serve.

Farmer Tomato Plate

find the best tomatoes out there

cut them

add salt and pepper to taste

Perhaps the simpler the better. - you can't beat it!

A tidbit about me...

Thanks to Shari for allowing me to share some recipes with you.

I am a mother of three, a wife of one, and a zookeeper to two dogs, two guinea pigs, a turtle and our new addition, a hedgehog. Life is crazy, fun and going way too fast. I have been cooking all my life and learned most of what I know from my mother. She is a pro at a simple, elegant meal you won't forget.

To me there is nothing better than enjoying good food and fun conversation with family and friends. My secret wish is to have a Sunday meal to share every week. Haven't been able to swing that yet, but who knows?

All photos taken by Ann West

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