Friday, January 24, 2014

My Wall Project :: Finally complete!

Sooo, my living room does not have many useable walls when it comes to decorating, but there is one wall in the corner that works out pretty well. The beautiful bookcase my husband made me is there. The amazing coat rack my father-in-law made us is there. It is kind of my favorite little place in the house. But I have never really had the time to decorate it properly and it has always turned into a dumping ground for everything taken out of pockets and whatnot. Seriously, flat surfaces should not be allowed in my house.

Anyway, I have been decorating this space in my head for forever and I have slowly collected things I've seen and loved. Well, last night I finally finished the last painting project and I can proudly say my wall is now complete and I am love, love, loving it!

How beautiful are my bookcase and my walnut coat rack?
 
TA-DA!
 
I've had the large frames for years. They were from Michael's barnwood collection. I love them! The smaller frames are from Wal-Mart and the dollar store! They matched perfectly with the rustic/blue/metallic silver look I wanted.

 
The "crown of thorns," as my husband has taken to calling it, is also a dollar store find. It kind of reminds me more of a bird's nest. The F inside (for our last name) is something my husband cut out of wood for me and I painted a metallic silver with black on the edges. I love it! To attach it to the wall I super glued some thumb tacks on the back. Worked perfectly!
 
I love, love the books on the wall. They are mounted using a metal bookend that I bent and the hubs screwed into the wall. The bottom book has it's back cover taped to the pages and the bookend is slipped inside so they look like they are floating!
 
I love horseshoes (obviously!) These two are super rusty and awesome!
 
And, seriously, how cute are my babies?
 
 

 
These are some fun little pieces I found at Big Lots. (I'm a total bargain shopper.) I just loved the messages and little bit of Americana and they went perfectly with my color scheme and were super cheap so I couldn't pass them up! (Excuse the horrid photos. This is what happens when baby girl decides she needs to get into everything.)
 
 
This little gem is my pride and joy! I am so in love with this elk! I had a ton of burlap laying around and an empty space on the wall to fill so I found this elk silhouette online and made this little beauty! It was a serious pain in the neck involving a computer that would not cooperate and a two piece stencil that thankfully pieced together correctly. I taped the stencil on the burlap and dabbed black paint with a foam brush and voila! I was scared out of my mind to take that stencil off and see what was underneath but it worked perfectly and now I'm kind of obsessed with the whole process!
 

This is the top of my bookcase. The top photo are my Portugal goodies that were brought back to me by my sister when she took a trip there last year! The Portugal rooster, a doily crocheted by local women, a small hand-painted tile and the photo is of the last standing wall in a house that my great, great grandfather lived in. Amazing family history.

The others are just a collection of jars and books and things that I loved. And a photo of my beautiful Ava. The sweet dream box is where the hubs empties all the junk out of his pockets and it stays hidden!

So that is my wall project! And, I believe, my first non-food post! Go me! My grand scheme is not yet complete so I will have more to share with you all, hopefully soon!



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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Cookies! (And, wow, has it been that long?)

Well, it's been a while.  And if it weren't for my mom it probably would've been a lot longer.  Thanks, mom! I had it dead set in my mind that my next post would be this fabulous re-do of my living room, specifically one area, that I have been planning to do. But I have yet to even begin that project. It's one of those things that I need to basically be alone in my house for. Ha! That's comical when you have 2 kids under 4. Someone please remind me, what does alone mean? :) 

Anyway, my mom had asked for this wonderful cookie recipe I shared with her a while back so I'm posting it here for all to see. These cookies had me obsessed for a while. I was making them just about every other day. Luckily, I was sharing the majority of them with everyone else. 

Brown Sugar Oatmeal Chewies
(Adapted from The Dough Will Rise Again)

1 cup butter, slightly softened
1 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 cups quick cooking oats


1.) Preheat oven to 350°. Cream together butter and sugars, until they are well-combined.
2.) Add one egg and mix until it’s fully incorporated. Then add the second egg, and the vanilla, and mix until everything is evenly incorporated.
3.) Add baking soda, baking powder, and salt to the wet mixture. Mix until well-distributed.
4.) Add about 1/2 your flour, and mix until the flour is JUST incorporated. Then add the second half of your flour, mixing like the first. Do not over mix or your cookies will be tough!
5.) Add oats and mix.
6.) Roll dough into balls, or use a cookie scoop. You want a ball that is roughly 1" in diameter.
7.) Place the dough balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment, leaving about 2″ between each cookie. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the edges are lightly brown, but the center is still light in color and puffy.

Try not to get addicted! Good luck!

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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Stuffed Veggie Goodness

My plan wasn't to have a "food blog" but I have been in a serious cooking mood lately and everything has turned out so tasty that I just have to share!

I've become obsessed with vegetables. I've always loved them but lately I just can't get enough. I bought some zucchini and while looking through the 'fridge I was inspired! They must be stuffed!

I came up with this recipe and, let me tell you, it is so good. It is so easy to change up too so you can easily alter it to your specific tastes!

I don't measure a lot when I'm cooking so I will give you approximate amounts of the ingredients I used.

Stuffed Zucchini
serves 4. Oh who am I kidding? Serves 2 or 3... or maybe just 2.

4 large zucchini
1 lb 99/1 ground turkey (you can use whatever fat content you like but I went healthy)
4 button mushrooms
Bundle of green onions
2 or 3 cloves garlic, chopped
Smidge of butter for sautéing
1/2 a tomato
Some cheese for sprinkling (the pic shows cheddar but then I found some 6 blend Italian and used that instead)
Bread crumbs for topping (DO NOT omit these, you need the crunch!)

Just a warning, you are going to have some serious leftover filling. And you might eat it all while the zucchini is baking.



Preheat oven to 350. Get your turkey browning on the stovetop. Cut ends off zucchini and cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out the guts like it's Halloween and do a coarse chop on them. Put them in a large mixing bowl.



Dice mushrooms and green onions. Add butter to a sauté pan and add mushrooms, onions and chopped garlic. Saute until they're awesome. Add to zucchini guts.

Don't forget to keep an eye on your turkey! When it's done, drain if you need to and add it to the bowl of zucchini guts and awesome veggies.

Dice your tomato. You can use a whole tomato if you'd like, but I kept it to half because I didn't want the filling to get too watery. Add the tomato to the bowl and mix.

Grease a baking dish large enough to hold your zucchini. A 9x13 worked for me. I just used a quick spray of Pam for greasing.

Stuff your zucchini boats with the filling, as much as you can pile in those babies. Then put your zucchini in the baking dish. Top with shredded cheese. Bake for 20 minutes.


Meanwhile, mix some bread crumbs with a smidge of melted butter. Just to give you enough for a nice, crunchy topping. When the zucchini is done, sprinkle more cheese on top and add a healthy scoop of bread crumbs. Put in the broiler for like 2 seconds. Seriously, watch those things because I might have been too busy eating the leftover filling and they got a little more brown than I planned. :) Hey, it happens.

Take your zucchini out of the broiler and ENJOY!



While eating this, I thought maybe I should have added some sour cream or something as a binder but I decided I liked that it was healthier, and the filling is inside a boat so it doesn't go anywhere.

Next time I think I might add some bacon for crunch instead of bread crumbs. Mmm hmm, bacon.

As I said, I've been obsessed with vegetables. So not only did I make stuffed zucchini, I also made stuffed bell peppers! These were a little more hearty. The Hubs loved these!

Stuffed Bell Peppers
serves 5

5 large bell peppers
1 lb ground turkey
1 pkg couscous (I used garlic & olive oil flavor)
1 cup diced mushrooms
1 cup chopped green onion
2 gloves chopped garlic
1 tomato, diced
1 cup alfalfa sprouts
1 cup shredded cheese (I used a cheddar/jack mix)
Bread crumbs mixed with melted butter for topping
Spices, whatever suits your taste



Preheat oven to 350. Grease your baking dish. Cut tops off bell peppers and clean out the insides, being careful not to puncture the walls of the pepper. Brown the turkey, be sure to season it! Cook couscous according to package directions. I use chicken broth instead of water for more flavor. 



While this is all happening, chop your mushrooms, onions, garlic and tomato. Once turkey is almost cooked through, add the mushroom, onion and garlic. 

Once thoroughly cooked, take off heat and add your tomato, sprouts, cheese and couscous. Mix well. I reserved a bit of the cheese for the topping. Next, stuff your peppers and place them in your baking dish. Bake until peppers are done to your liking. I cooked mine for about 40 minutes and they were still crispy, which I liked. If you want them softer, blanch them in boiling water beforehand to cut down on baking time, or just bake longer. Once cooked, top them with bread crumbs and place under the broiler for a few minutes. 

Enjoy!





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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Breakfast

I used to be a huge breakfast fan. I think it was because on weekends I would wake up early and hang out with my dad and he would make big, yummy breakfasts. But now, life is too busy and sometimes downright chaotic in the mornings so usually my breakfast consists of a cup of coffee, if I'm lucky. Some days the cup just sits on the counter and gets cold. Weekends are better if my husband isn't working. Like this morning, we had waffles topped with strawberries. Yum!

Most days my son's first words are "Mom, I'm hungry." He's usually pretty easy to please. Cereal, a waffle, scrambled eggs. He loves those. But the other day we thought we would change it up a bit. And I'm glad we did! We made Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal bars. I had recently seen the recipe on Pinterest and it caught my eye. They turned out like a soft granola bar, not quite muffin texture. They were easy to make and tasted great! I did the measuring and baking and my son did all the mixing :)



Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Bars
(recipe from Food.com)

1 1/2 cups quick cooking oats
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
1 large mashed banana
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter

Preheat oven to 350. Mix together the dry ingredients. Add the vanilla, milk and egg. Mix well. Add the mashed banana and peanut butter. Combine. Pour mixture into greased 8x8 baking dish. (I used a mini loaf pan to make individual bars.) Bake for 20 minutes.

My son loved these bars! My 11 month old nephew thought they were pretty tasty too!

It is a great recipe to get the kids involved in! If you're like me, you love little helpers in the kitchen (most of the time!)

Next I might try omitting the brown sugar to make them healthier. Maybe even leave out the egg since the banana acts as a binder. I'll let you know how that turns out!





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Sunday, July 21, 2013

I {heart} Disney!

So, like most people, I love me some Disney. The movies, not so much the Land (too many people if you ask me.) And, like most people, I have a ton of the movies. And, like most people, I always threw away those annoying little papers that practically jump out when you open the case. Until last year when I actually read one of them and checked out the Disney Movie Rewards. I thought "Hey, I'm buying their movies, they might as well reward me, right?" And I kinda became obsessed.

If you don't know, Disney movies all come with a little paper that has a code on it.



Go online, enter the code, collect points, get stuff. You also get points through their newsletter, usually only 5-10 but they add up. Last year, they ran a promotion honoring ALL expired codes. I tore threw my movie collection and ended up with enough points to get my son a few extra Christmas gifts. For free. That's right... FREE. My favorite 4 letter word... okay one of them ;)

They also have what is called the Disney Movie Club. After a couple years of weighing my decision (indecisive, much?), I finally joined a few weeks ago. I was hesitant because it's one of those things where they send you a mailer and if you don't respond they automatically send you the Featured Title and charge you for it. I wasn't quite sure I would remember to respond and I was afraid I would end up with a bunch of movies I didn't want. But then I found out you can just check your account online and respond there. So, of course, I joined. Yeah, there's a catch... or two I guess. 1) You have to remember to respond. 2) You have to buy 5 movies through them within 2 years. I figured I was going to do that anyway so why not? In the beginning you get to choose 5 movies for $1 each and you have the option of choosing another at a discounted price that will go towards your purchase commitment. So, I just received 5 Blu-rays and 1 DVD for $22 and now I only have to buy 4 more within 2 years. It was kind of a no-brainer.



Also, when you join, you get 500 Reward Points! And you still get the 100-150 points that are in each movie! I'm a serious junkie so this was the most exciting part for me! And come Christmas, I'll have a couple extra gifts for the kiddos.

Winning!

I have in no way been compensated by Disney for my glowing remarks. I just really love the program and thought I'd share my experience.


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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Homemade Bread

There is a restaurant here where I live that makes amazing homemade bread. We have gone there for breakfast the past few weekends and I've honestly considered asking them to just bring me a loaf. It inspired me to make some bread of my own. I started with a recipe I found and adapted it to suit me. I have made 3 different versions so far. But trust me, there will be many more. I think I found my go-to Christmas gift.

Homemade Jalapeno Cheddar Beer Bread
(adapted from Gimme Some Oven)

Makes 1 loaf
Ingredients:
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbs sugar
  • 1 Tbs baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 12 oz. beer, plus a splash
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (I used cheddar)
  • 2 jalapenos
  • 4 Tbs butter; melted (you can use more if you like, who doesn't like more butter?)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a loaf pan.


In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
 
Remove seeds and veins from jalapenos. Cut up into desired size.

Using a wooden spoon, stir the beer, cheese and jalapenos into the dry ingredients until just mixed.

Pour half the melted butter into the loaf pan. Then spoon the batter into the pan, and pour the rest of the butter on top of the batter.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until top is golden brown and a toothpick/knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.
 
Now try not to eat the whole loaf in one sitting. You can do it!
 
While making this bread I got to thinking "What other bread can I make?" The answer... cinnamon raisin for breakfast tomorrow!
 

Homemade Cinnamon Raisin Bread
(adapted from Gimme Some Oven)

Makes 1 loaf
Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 Tbs sugar
  • 1 Tbs baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 12 oz. water
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 2 Tbs cinnamon
  • 4 Tbs butter; melted (you can use more if you like, who doesn't like more butter?)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a loaf pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and raisins. Using a wooden spoon, stir the water into the dry ingredients until just mixed.

Pour half the melted butter into the loaf pan. Then spoon the batter into the pan, and pour the rest of the butter on top of the batter.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until top is golden brown and a toothpick/knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.


Yum, yum! Happy eating!


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I'm New to This...

Hello, blog readers! Welcome to my new adventure. Let me tell you a little bit about myself and just why I decided to start my own little blog.

I've been in what one would call a "funk" lately. A serious funk. I'm just going through one of those periods where everything seems to be more difficult than it should be and there's really no reason for it except that I'm the kind of person that happens to.

This past week has been especially tough. Yes, I know, everyone has tough times and yes, I know, there are a lot of people out there who have it way worse than I do. I'm thankful for what I have, but that doesn't mean I'm not allowed to have a bad day. In last Tuesday's case, a REALLY bad day.

Let me tell you a story... Last week my 3 year old son came down with a cold and the next day he started running a fever. His fever stayed for 4 days until he visited the doctor on Monday and picked up some antibiotics for his double ear infections. Ugh. Those 4 days were no fun. My 3 month old daughter picked up his cold. The doctor also checked her out and said if her condition worsened I needed to bring her back in. Cut to Tuesday, her cough is horrible and she is wheezing. So, to the doctor we went. Doc agreed she sounded horrible so she ran some tests and my lil girl tested positive for RSV, Respiratory Synctial Virus. It is essentially a bronchitis type virus and is very nasty in babies. Her oxygen levels were low so the doctor was sending me to the hospital to have my baby admitted for observation. How scared am I at this point? What I thought was going to be a visit in which I was going to end up being the paranoid mom turns into a hospital stay?

So I take lil miss to the car and get her all strapped in. I close her door and what happens? My car door locks malfunction and she is locked inside! As you can all imagine, I turn into a raving psycho screaming and crying and trying to rip off doors, throwing elbows at my car windows. (Side note: At least 10 people walked past in those few minutes and not one asked if I was okay or if they could help. NOT ONE! What is wrong with people?) But in the chaos I managed to call 911 and the dispatcher was actually able to understand me through my serious blubbering. The paramedics arrived a few minutes later. The longest few minutes of my life. It took them all of 2 minutes to pop open my door and I was able to get her out. Once I saw she was okay, I couldn't help but think "What the hell? Am I in a movie?" I'm on my way to the hospital and THIS happens? It's just not real. But it was.

I drove her to the hospital and we went through the motions of getting her admitted to pediatrics and through it all she was happy and seemed completely fine. At the hospital her oxygen levels and other vitals were perfect. Of course, they wanted to keep her overnight just to be sure. She came home the next day.

What does this have to do with my funk, you ask? It threw me deeper into it. Because surely it was all my fault. I could have done something to prevent it all, right?

Well, no. I have to believe I did all that I could. And I have to get out of this funk! I was fortunate enough that my baby girl came out perfectly okay. But what if she didn't? I need to enjoy every minute I have with her. Every minute with my son.

This blog is going to help me do that. This blog is going to get me back into things I love doing. Creating things. Crafts, food, anything. It is going to motivate me to do more for myself so I can be happier and be better for my children.

Whew, that was depressing! I promise I will have happy, fun, creative posts from now on! This is just a little background and insight into me and my slightly crazy brain.

Next post.... Homemade bread. Seriously yummy, homemade bread. I hope you'll stick around :)