Life is more fun when you RAWR!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

This is my last Menu Plan Monday for 2011!
What a year it's been, and yet our menu hasn't changed much.  I guess we like what we like!
What will we eat this week?

M: Chicken cutlets, roasted broccoli, sauteed mushrooms, rice
T: Chicken tacos, Spanish rice, salad
W: Mongolian beef, rice, salad
T: Spaghetti, green beans, salad
F: Grilled chicken, parsnip mash (I'm really in the mood), roasted acorn squash
S: left overs/take-out - it's NYE!
Sunday:  1/1 Steak, roasted asparagus, baked potatoes, butternut squash.

I hope you all had wonderful Christmases and I'm really looking forward to a new year!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bathroom trasnformation

Our downstairs powder room was a nightmare.
Wallpapered with a lighthouse/sail boat pattern, the boys in their potty-training decided to rip up some of the already-peeling edges.

The paper was dingy at best and really didn't fit our style.  It had to come down.
We met with some local professional painters and while their prices were reasonable it was still outside of what we could afford at Christmas time.  It looked like if the bathroom was going to be presentable again it was up to me to make it so.
When we first moved here I was really excited to do home improvements but  didn't really have the knowledge or skill for how to do them correctly.  Anyone who has seen our master bathroom will know what I mean.  So I'd mostly given up.  Our house is just not the "dream house" I thought I'd create.
With extreme trepidation I started researching the best techniques for painting a bathroom, color selection, etc.
And I dove in... tearing off the wall paper first.
There was another layer of wall paper under it.
Double surprise, they'd painted over the drywall before putting the paper on.  That's a good surprise because everywhere else in the house had wallpaper glued directly to the drywall which is a nightmare.
I got the paper down and the walls were in surprisingly excellent shape, if a little bloody underneath. (My facebook friends have followed that saga)

Learning from lessons past (again, see note above regarding the master bathroom) I found a color family I liked, tested the colors on the wall, texted pictures to some trusted friends and family to get opinions and picked a color.

Then I taped off the trim using frog tape.   Why mention frog tape specifically?  Because it worked like a charm, went on quite easily and I tell you what - not a drop bled through that tape.  All future painting projects will include frog tape.
The bathroom looks amazing now.
We love it. 
Sometimes I want to just go stand in there and feel like I did something right.

The old mirror was red. 

Now it's white and looks crisp and clean against the brown/gray of the wall.

I was concerned about going dark in a small room but several blogs suggested that when a room really is small it's okay to go dramatic on the color.  It's absolutely beautiful in there.  I gave the cabinets a total makeover too. 

They started out a dark wood color:


The best thing about this whole project is the cost. 
Our lowest painter-estimate started at $250.
I spent $40 on a gallon of paint and a few supplies.
It took me 2 evenings to get the wall paper off (12 hours), 1 hour in an afternoon to spackle, 1 evening to sand and wash the walls, 1 evening to paint the walls, and most of a Saturday to touch-up the walls, paint the cabinets and trim and clean up.
Worth the time to save the money in this case as I found I really enjoyed doing the work.
I think it's even given me the courage to tackle the master bathroom again.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - Christmas Edition!

I cannot believe how fast time is flying.  I also cannot believe that I haven't posted all of the dozens of things I keep planning to post here.  I really have got to be a little more diligent. 
For now though, a rundown of what we're planning for dinner this week must suffice.
Monday: Take out!  My sweetie surprised me with Chinese take out.
Tuesday: Chicken Piccata, mashed potatoes, green beans
Wednesday: rice & beans
Thursday: spaghetti, salad, garlic bread
Friday: leftovers!!
Saturday: take out again.  It's a long-standing tradition.
Sunday: for the morning I'll make a hashbrown casserole, some bacon and eggs.  We'll have a Christmas late-lunch of Bacon-wrapped beef tenderloin, martha's potatoes, roasted veggies.

And then the holiday-eating detox must begin!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

It's time for another menu plan Monday!
Ham is super cheap this week so we have ham for breakfast, lunch and dinners.  Good thing we all love it!

Monday: Spaghetti Carbonara, salad, rolls
Tuesday: bean tacos
Wednesday: pork fried rice, steamed broccoli
Thursday: Spaghetti with meat sauce, salad,
Friday: chicken curry
Saturday: Steak, martha's potatoes, orzo salad (if I can convince my mom to make it!!)
Sunday:  cheeseburgers, fries

My parents are going to be here on Friday and I couldn't be more excited for a Christmas-time visit with Granny and Pop.  I have just a few more presents to wrap and I need to get presents for the kids' teachers.  We've been making a TON of the Chow Mein noodle cookies.  It's so easy! Melt one bag of butterscotch ships and one bag of chocolate chips in a big sauce pan (it takes the butterscotch chips longer to melt for some reason I'm certain chemistry can explain but I cannot).  Then take the sauce pan off the heat and stir in about a cup of chow mein noodles.  Spoon it onto wax paper and let it cool.  Yum.  Easy.
I've also been making coconut macaroons since they're Drew's favorites.  They're also super easy.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

I'm still here!

Hi Jennifer!
I'm still here!
We're really really busy but I'm still crafting, sewing, now I'm knitting(!) and I'm in the middle of a powder room remodel.
I've been doing a lot of this:

And on Tuesday and Thursday I do this:

I'm doing a ton of exercising but I'm not losing any actual pounds which is incredibly frustrating.  I do feel much better physically so I'm going to stick with it.  Hopefully the scale will catch up.  I know I need to cut my carbs. I mean, I ate two cookies for breakfast this morning!

I am still menu planning but I'm doing it hastily as an afterthought and often during church or somewhere else where I'm just distracted.  I'm starting to become obsessed with the idea of having one protein - like say a chicken - and finding a way to stretch it over 4-5 dinners by using the whole bird - making stock from the bones and having soup one night, etc.  Unfortunately I can't see where I can make one whole chicken last 4 dinners.  Not with the way our family eats.  Want to know how bad it is around here?  I made hot dogs wrapped in crescent rolls for dinner last night.  Drew wouldn't even touch it.  He ate a bowl of leftover rice for dinner instead. At 11.  After we spent more than an hour washing adhesive off our our powder room walls.

I promise to post pictures of some of my projects.  There have been a TON and I am so so very behind on others I started and others that are on my to-do list.  Not to mention my Pinterest addiction is feeding me with all sorts of fun new ideas for things to try.  Terrible cycle man, terrible cycle.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

We're mixing it up this week.
When I was planning our menu I sat down with Grant to see what he wanted for dinner.  He came up with all of our meals and I think he did a pretty good job.

Monday: pork chops, rice, green beans, corn
Tuesday: sandwiches, chips, carrots
Wednesday: spaghetti, green beans, rolls
Thursday: steak, mashed potatoes, corn
Friday: pizza and carrots
Saturday: chicken, rice, ramen salad (ok - G didn't ask for that but I'm adding it)
Sunday: hamburgers and french fries

have a great week!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Return and Report: Race for the Cure

On Saturday, 10/1 my Mom & I ran in Charlotte's Race for the Cure.
That race is so fun and so well organized.  We both really look forward to it every year.
This is my 2nd 5k this year, and I'm really happy with how my time has improved.  My first mile was 13 minutes!  I couldn't believe that one!!  Miles 2 & 3 were 16 minutes so our time was just over 46 minutes for the 5k.  I was really hoping to be under 45 minutes but I guess that will have to happen in my next race.  We hit the 3 mile mark before 45 minutes so I'm pretty happy with that.  Stupid .1 mile that screwed up my time!  Also, I got a little thirsty and gulped water at the last water station (just before mile 3) and let's just say that running up that last hill with a tummy full of water wasn't fun at all.  Not. at. all.

My new big addiction though is spinning.  There are some pretty amazing instructors at the gym we go to and I find myself not only looking forward to spinning but scheduling my days three days a week to make sure I'm at the gym by 8:30am so I can get a bike and spin.  Wow, how times have changed, huh? I've also started taking the body pump classes which are very very good for me but leave me very very very sore.
Unfortunately though I'm stalled at about 18lbs of weight lost.  I'm going to need to refocus on cutting carbs but that is just no fun!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

DIY: From Place mat to purse

So, I found a single awesome place mat at the new local thrift store and fell in love.
So stripey.
So cheerful.
So lonely there with no matching place mat friends.
Don't you worry happy little place mat.  I have an idea for you.
You'll be an awesome purse in no time!
This project is insanely easy, requires sewing as few as two straight lines and you can make it as complex or as simple as you want.

The first thing I did was make a strap by cutting a 1.5 inch strip about 16 inches long.  I ironed on a small strip of interfacing down the middle then folded in the sides 1/4 inch, ironed then folded in the sides again and ironed again making a long strap that I zig-zag stitched down the middle.

Fold your place mat in half.  This is the body of your purse.  We'll stitch up the sides in a minute but lets add some function inside first.
Using the same fabric I used to make the strap, I sewed a small pocket into the inside of the purse.  I measured the pocket to accommodate my iphone.  You cold make a phone pocket, a key pocket, add snaps or zippers or skip this all together.
Time to add the strap by sewing it where want it.  Sew it into the inside of the purse because it looks neater that way.
Now, sew up the sides.  To make it super secure go over your stitches a few times.  If the edges of your place mat are prone to fraying you can sew it inside out and flip it, keeping the seams on the inside.  My place mat had nicely finished edges so I simply stitched up the outside and was done.
A lonely thrift store place mat became a cute, functional purse for under $1 and in less than 1 hour.
It doesn't get better than that!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Thrifty Finds

CVAN (the local battered women's shelter/helpers) opened a new thrift store and I've been so excited to check it out.  I stopped by one morning while the boys were in preschool and boy I wish I had gone earlier.  I could have spent hours sorting through the racks.  I was in the store about 45 minutes and made some amazing finds.
Check it out!:

Those Christmas plates were 49 cents each.  Seriously?  Yep. The cool vase, robot bucket, striped place mat, yarn, and beads were 99 cents each.  My total for all of that stuff was just $8.  It doesn't get better than that.
The robot bucket now holds cars in Andy's retro-robot room.
I turned the place mat into a purse!  Tutorial comes tomorrow.
The beads and yarn we use for tactile fun activities in the afternoon.
As for the vase, there is an explosion of paper-flower tutorials on pinterest and I think that a big ole' white flower will look really sweet in that green glass vase.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

The weeks just zoom by, don't they?  I've been so so crafty but haven't blogged my crafts and before you know it - it's Menu Plan Monday again!  I'm determined to post some of my crafty adventures this week so stay tuned.
For now though, it's time to make my menu for the week and put in my order at Lowes Food to Go and get ready for what is already shaping up to be an insanely busy week.

Monday: Honey BBQ grilled chicken, faux tater tots (see below), ramen salad
Tuesday: Brown Sugar Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes, buttered corn, rolls.  Stolen straight from here.
Wednesday: Baked chicken, rice, steamed broccoli
Thursday: Taco Soup - my mom's recipe (I'll post it below)
Friday: Smothered Steak, baked potatoes, salad
Saturday: I think this is the night we'll celebrate our 7th wedding anniversary.  If so then I think right now the plan is for us to stay home and cook rosemary lamb chops.  If we go out then hooray for us!
Sunday: burgers and fries.

Faux tater tots:
1 (1 pound) bag of fresh or frozen cauliflower
4 tablespoons butter
2 large egg yolks
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
onion powder (to taste)
garlic (to taste)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Cook cauliflower until tender. Drain well.
Blend in food processor.
Add butter, egg yolks and Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.
Place mixture in piping bag or ziploc bag and snip off corner.
Pipe cauliflower mixture into 1 inch lengths onto non-stick baking sheet.
Place baking sheet in freezeer and freeze before baking in oven (helps to hold shape.
Bake for 15-20 minutes until browned.

Granny's yummy taco soup:
4 cans Ranch style beans (which they do not sell here!!! subbing pinto and kidney beans GRRRRRR.)
2 cans hominy
2 cans corn
2 cans diced tomatoes
2 cans Rotel tomatoes
2 pkg taco seasoning
2 pkg dry ranch Dressing mix
1lb gr beef or chicken.

Directions:  cook the meat, add everything else, heat through.  Eat.  It's especially yummy with cornbread.

For breakfasts this week we'll have cereal, eggs, bacon, yogurt, toast, oatmeal and applesauce available.

Lunches will be English Muffin mini-pizzas, turkey pinwheels, grapes, apples, peanut butter, cheese.  We need to expand our lunch options!!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

The fun, festive birthday weekend is over.  Granny and Pop are back in Texas.  We enjoyed leftovers for dinner tonight but it's time to order our groceries and make our menu for the week.

Tuesday:  sausage, peppers, onions, rice
Wednesday: Mac & Cheese, salad
Thursday: Tacos, salad, Spanish rice
Friday:  pork chops, steamed veggies, mashed potatoes
Saturday: Honey BBQ Chicken, roasted broccoli, green salad
Sunday: burgers and fries

Sunday, October 2, 2011

A Day in 2s

What I did for my 2nd birthday by Andy:

It was an early start to my 2nd birthday.  I had some trouble clearing out the cobwebs.

Mom was there with my breakfast and I knew it was going to be a great day.

How about some early morning dump truck races?

And now it's time to play with toys.

 Now I'm dressed for the day.

Mom really loves me.

I love to swing.

And swing

And dig

And explore.

I had a yummy lunch.

My whole family was there.

But even Bears need naps.

And snacks with dad.

And mom.

I love my yogurt.

Bath time!

Happy baby in the mirror!

Green Eggs and Ham is my favorite book.

It's time for me to go to sleep.

Night night!

A second birthday

Andy turned two today and what a fun day we've had.
We threw a simple family party with a Curious George theme.  Every party idea came from the PBS kids website.
First we made an awesome Curious George cake.  I was so nervous about doing this but I'm pretty happy with out it turned out.

A few things about how my cake is different than what the PBS Kids directions suggest.  First, I used a cake pan rather than a glass bowl.  I'm guessing the glass bowl gives the cake more dimension and roundness.  The cake pan worked great though.  Also, I couldn't find caramel or butterscotch frosting so I mixed chocolate and vanilla to get the shade of tan I wanted.

Next for the decorations.  I cut out circles using my cricut and made the hanging streamers.  I printed out the party hats from the PBS website as well as the confetti.

Check out the cute monkey plates we found at our local grocery store!

For the birthday lunch I used this recipe found thanks to Pinterest.  The taste-alike Chick-fil-a nuggets were delicious and darn near the real thing.

All in all, our Curious George party was so much fun and so easy and Andy had an amazingly fun day.
Looking for pictures??  Come back tomorrow!  We did something really special for birthday pictures and I'm excited to share them with you all.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

Have you missed me the past two weeks?  I've still been menu planning but for whatever reason I  haven't posted them online.
This week is a CRAZY week.  And how many weeks in a row have I said that?  Probably a few but this week is for REAL crazy.  Soccer on Tuesday and Thursday, my parents come to down on Thursday evening, Wednesday night is game night for my husband so he won't be home for dinner.  My youngest turns two next Sunday.  It's nuts.  Here's how we'll have healthy dinners and keep up with the crazies:

Monday:  Burgers and fries
Tuesday:  Chicken, rice, broccoli and cheese bake.  I haven't picked a recipe yet but it will be sort of creamy and yummy.
Wednesday:  Just me and the boys so they'll have mac and cheese and I'll make myself a salad
Thursday: Spaghetti bake, green beans
Friday:  Granny and Pop will be here!  Yay!!  Taco bar!!
Saturday:  Honey spice grilled chicken, ramen salad, and I'm going to see if I can get my mom to make orzo salad.
Sunday: The Bear turns 2!!!!  We are going to celebrate all things bear!  I'm going to make chic-fil-a knock off nuggets (recipe courtesy of pinterest), rice, french fries, blueberries, grapes and a Curious George cake.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

MADE! Kid Pants

I overcame my fear of sewing with a pattern.
What was I afraid of?
Probably finding out something that looks easy really isn't easy and feeling like an idiot.
Guess what, the Kid Pants at MADE are as easy to make as Dana's tutorial makes them sound.  And I had everything against me on this pattern as I need to size it down and I don't have a serger.  But the pants *still* came out awesome.

So how did I do it?
I simply followed the directions.  As far as slimming down the pants to an 18m size (yes, my 2 year old is just starting to fit 18m pants) that was a total guess.  I just trimmed off a bit on both sides of the legs (less than a half an inch on each side of each leg) and got very lucky that they fit pefectly.
The MADE directions are really spot on.
Sewing without a serger and doing the zig-zag stitch to clean up the edges was a first (as was following a pattern).  I think I did what she was talking about, but I'm not entirely sure.

It took less than an hour to make these pants out of an awesome fall-colored seersucker fabric I got for less than $4 per yard at Hancock Fabrics over the weekend.  I used less than 1/2 a yard making these officially the greatest pants ever costing less than $5 to make (including thread, elastic and fabric).

And who can argue with these results?

Even the most novice sewer can make these pants.  They're fun and satisfying without being frustrating or over-complicated.