12.15.2013

Homemade Guacamole

Over the weekend my husband and I went to Arkansas for his cousin's college graduation.  Among all of the family and food time, we all ended up at a local Mexican restaurant for some chips, dips and drinks before dinner.  One of the dips we got was guacamole.  At this particular place (I wish I could remember the name... grr!), they brought out the avocado and other ingredients and made it fresh right at our table.  Now let me tell you, I'm not a huge guacamole fan, but this was DELICIOUS!!  So fresh like pico de gallo, yet creamy from the avocado.  

So... how is this homemade, you ask?  Well, of course this meant we had to find a way to make it at home ourselves....

Not only is making at home more fresh than the restaurants or little packets and cheaper than buying pre-made or at a restaurant, but it's also way healthier as we can control what we put in it.



Here's our recipe:

Homemade Guacamole
3 small avocados
1/2 medium white onion
1 large tomato
2 jalapenos (or to taste)
2 tablespoons lime juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Hollow out the avocado, mash up a bit and set to the side.  Chop up the onion, tomato and jalapenos and mix with the avocados.  Toss in the lime juice and stir until consistency of avocado is smooth.  Crack in some salt and pepper to taste and stir one last time.  

Serve immediately or chilled with tortilla chips.  Enjoy!!!!
 

11.22.2013

Chopped

It's been so long.  It was time.  A refreshing start was what I needed.

So what did I do??

Chopped my hair off!

*gasp*

For awhile I'd been going back and forth about chopping it.  I went in a couple of months ago for a haircut and was going to do it, but sissied out since I went to a new lady.  After getting the ends just barely trimmed, I decided it was time.  I found a handful of pictures online that I liked and asked for the chop.

I was so, so, SO happy that I was able to donate my hair somewhere.  Given, since I'd just trimmed it, I didn't have the 10 required inches to donate to Locks of Love.  But honestly, since I've donated to them in the past, I decided it was nice to actually donate to another charity.  So I decided to donate my hair to Pantene, since they only have an 8 inch minimum.

I'm so glad I'm able to donate and do something for someone else.  Life is all about what you can do for others.  I love knowing that my hair is going towards someone's wig and can help to put a little pep in their step.  Something that is so easy and simple to me, can potentially mean the world to someone else.  So often, we don't really consider the other side of the coin.

Here's the before/after...... whatcha think? :)


11.11.2013

Cheap, Healthy, Veggie Loaded Breakfast for Dinner

One night last week my hubby and I were really wanting something quick and easy for dinner, so we decided to have breakfast for dinner.  Josh sautéed some veggies and lunch meat, then tossed in some egg whites for me.  I haven't had something new that's been so hot and yummmmm in a long time.  And the best thing, we used leftover veggies we had in the house, so we really were just using up what we already had.  Money saved and kept food from going bad and being wasted, and a delicious, fast dinner.  Win, win, win!!

Here's what we used:
-1 cup broccoli
-1/2 cup cauliflower
-1 cup mushroom
-3 slices turkey or ham
-4 egg whites scrambled


11.03.2013

Dining Room - 95% Done

I know, I'm horrible. The house has taken ALL of my free time.

However, this also means I have a done, but not decorated dining room.  

Just to recap, below is everything we did in the dining room....

-Pulled up the carpet and laid hardwoods throughout the first floor
-Swapped out the fan in the dining room with the chandelier in the eat in kitchen, since the fan/light didn't fit our vision for the room and was very dim
-Stripped and re-stained the table we inherited from my grandpa (my dad did 95% of this as a gift to us. how awesome  is he?!?!)


My dad staining the legs after sanding down and removing all the existing paint.  The top is bare wood at this point.

So here we go.... 



The finished room (minus decorations)....



****DRUMROLL****




Isn't it pretty?!?  Love, love, love it!  

I (we) couldn't be happier with how it turned out.  I love the classic and contemporary mix in the room.  The clean modern lines of the walls and framing, and the classic style and color of the table.  Originally I wanted to do a dark, dark, dark table, but was worried that it would match the floors too much since they're so dark.  We decided on a medium walnut color.  I don't remember the exact name of the stain though.  Also, with the dark and dingy fan out of there and the light, bright and modern brushed nickel chandelier in there, it looks tremendously better.  I'm so glad I thought about switching those.  Plus, who wants a fan on while eating?  It will just make your food cold.

So as far as decorating, I plan on sticking to the original plan......



Ideally, I want to hang a cluster of pictures on the far wall.  I'm thinking probably 9.  I love the idea of sticking with black and white photos in large white frames, just like my design board.  I also still plan on getting a couple of large comfy chairs for the head of the table.

At some point we'd also like to purchase or redo a buffet or have some type of storage in there.  The goal with the buffet would be to store extra serving dishes and my grandmother's china that I inherited.  Plus with having the buffet, the top can serve as additional space for large platters or drinks during big parties or get togethers.

The only big change we made from the original design board above is the rug.  Though technically we did still buy a a jute rug, we just bought it for the living room, and got the grey damask rug for the dining room.  All in all, we're super happy with the change and how it all has turned out.  

9.29.2013

Dining Room Framing

As you saw in my previous post, we painted stripes on the top half of the dining room walls.  Since there was already a chair rail on the wall, we decided against removing it, for fear that it would ruin the wall and cause more work in the long run.  So, that's where the idea came to do some wainscoting or framing on the bottom half of the wall.

After a bit of research and calculating, we decided on framing.  The one thing I learned, is all the frames won't necessarily be equally spaced apart. I measured each wall and drew up a map of how far apart they should each be. However, when we started putting them up we had to adjust slightly because of outlets. The key thing I learned, was to be sure they are all equal distance from the chair rail and all the same height. Oh.... And measure, measure, measure and check with the level, level, level.

All the frames were 3 inches from the chair rail and baseboard, and approximately 3-4 inches apart, depending on the wall.


The above picture is my dad and I putting up the first set of frames. As I said, measure and level like crazy!  It may not be perfect, but it looks dang good. :)


What the walls look like with the paint and framing. Whatcha think?!? :))) I'm in love!!  Just waiting for my dad to finish my grandpas table so I can finish the dining room. Can't wait to decorate it. :)

9.18.2013

Dining Room Striped Walls

As you all saw on my dining room design board, we planned on doing some large stripes on the top half of the wall in the dining room. We love, love, love grey so we contemplated on doing grey/white or light grey/dark grey stripes. I've also heard about doing all the stripes the same color but different sheens, like one glossy and one flat paint.  After a lot of debating and testing color samples, we eventually decided on doing large grey/white vertical stripes. Originally I thought about horizontal stripes but once my husband showed me a pic of vertical stripes, I was hooked.

Below is the tutorial on how we did the stripes on the wall..

1). Paint the wall white, or one of the two colors. 

2). I had to figure out how wide to make the stripes. I did a bit of research and calculations, and decided on a 12 inch stripe. 

3). Measure and tape off each section.  We started in one corner and measured 12", then taped a line. Then measured 10" from that line and repeated until we were all the way around the room. We used 1" tape so all the stripes that were to be painted grey were 12" and the ones that were staying white we're in the sections with the tape since it wasn't being painted again. 


4). Once everything was all taped off, we started painting all the grey stripes. 


Almost done....


So there ya have it.  Striped dining room.  The framing on the bottom half of the dining room will be coming soon, too, so keep checking back. 





9.14.2013

Getting to be Fall...

What a wonderfully crisp fall morning today!!  I stepped outside with my dog and didn't want to come in. I threw on a sweatshirt and enjoyed the weather for a minute. 

This also makes me realize moreso that we need to finish to house so I can decorate it.  AND decorate for fall and the upcoming winter. I've always wanted to have a cute fall setup on the doorstep, too. Something like a nice big planter with mums and a cute pumpkin or 2.  Hmm... I think I'm gonna have to do that soon. And maybe bake something with pumpkin, too. YUMMM!! Nothing beats the smell of fresh baked pumpkin in the fall. 

Any fun fall decorating or baking plans in your future?I love hearing all the ideas. 

9.10.2013

Design Board - Office

Unlike the living and dining rooms, I haven't even started the office. However, I do still have tons of ideas and created a design board based on them. Right now I figured it was best to get the downstairs in order before addressing the upstairs rooms and bathrooms. If I only had more time and money, I'd have it all done ASAP. Oh well...slowly but surely, right? :)

As for the office, my biggest goal is to have TWO desks. My husband stole the only desk we have since we works from home. I've always liked having a desk to pay bills and write blogs, or just to have a space to do crafts upstairs. Unfortunately we haven't had the space (until now) to even consider that option. 

Ideally what I want to do is to use two tables as desks. I've seen a couple that have been fancied up with some woodwork and think that would be a good idea. Then for storage, I'm going to get an Expedit shelf from Ikea. I've been wanting one for years and haven't had the space, so I'm pretty excited for the possibility. Plus the great thing about the desk is the organization!!  I love that it gives a room so much storage and can easily hide all the "stuff" with cute baskets and bins, and you all know organization is key in my household. LOL!

Other than the desks and Expedit shelf, I'd like to put up a floating shelf above each desk with a bulletin board or something fun hung below it. Then I may possibly add some floating corner shelves if space allows for it. 

Overall, tons of great ideas (probably too many), really, just have to find the tables to get the room essentials started. 

I'm contemplating a fun color for my desk. Pink? Turquoise? Grey?  What are your thoughts?



9.06.2013

9.05.2013

Design Board - Dining Room

As I mentioned before, I have created or am working on design boards for each room in the house that I  plan to make changes to. Below is the design board for the dining room.

The one thing I knew I wanted was striped walls, so that was the first thing we did.  Since there was already a chair rail on the wall, we didn't want to remove it for fear of damaging the wall, we decided to do framing on the bottom half of the wall.  Now, we've had a hundred projects going on so the framing just got started last weekend, thanks to my dad.  We have a couple left to do, then hopefully, I can post a tutorial and before/afters. 

The other hold up on completing the dining room is the lack of a dining room table.  My grandpa recently sold his house and downsized. When he did, the one thing my dad said he wanted was his childhood dining room table. It's the only table he remembers having throughout his childhood. It's a super sturdy large wooden table. Now... My dad was one of eight kids,so the tablet is HUGE and expands up to 10 feet long. Seems like I can have a huge family gathering anytime. Lol!!  Anyways, my dad is currently sanding it down and reinforcing some things so it will last me another 60+ years. I can't wait to get it and have it in our house!!!

As with the living room, there have been some minor changes in the grand plan, which you will see in the finished room. Can't wait for it to be done!!!! :))


8.29.2013

Design Board - Living Room

Below is the design board I created for our living room. I've been searching like crazy to find good deals, and still get fun and modern stuff. I'd say I did a darn good job. Once we get everything put together and decorated, I'll post some before/after pics. 

Overall, I wanted clean, yet comfy. I think this board encompasses my ideas... Though I have been seeing some great beach themed stuff on Pinterest lately and have always loved that too, so I may add some beach textures to the room. I cant wait to be finished!!! :))



8.25.2013

SOLD!!



As of a couple weeks ago, we closed on the new house and moved in. We have been so extremely busy that I haven't had enough time to sleep, let alone write blog posts. Sorry, y'all!  But I'm sure you can understand.

We have been busy trying to get the hardwoods down, floors painted, and general maintenance done. Then add to that, moving and unpacking. One thing I can say for sure, I definitely wouldn't recommend living in a construction zone. Boy, it's been rough, especially since we have only been able to live in the kitchen and our bedroom. Everything else is chaos.

I'll have pictures coming soon of the design boards and before/after.

7.26.2013

I Know... I've Been MIA. There's a Reason....

Horrible picture, compliments of the MLS site listing ;)

Wow, have things been busy lately!  So sorry, folks!  Those of you who I’m friends with on Facebook probably already know…. We’re under contract and buying our first house!  Oh yes… the day is almost here!!!  We close next week.  Is this for real?!  Someone pinch me.  I couldn’t be any happier!! : )))))))

Of course this means our time has been consumed with dealing with sellers and realtors, shopping for flooring, making general house decisions etc.

Once we get into the house, I’ll post some pictures.  And of COURSE, I’ll put the before and after pictures up once we start working on the house.  We have tons of plans for the house.

Check back often for updates….
 

6.23.2013

Homemade Almond Butter


Typically, I don't eat much meat, so I'm always looking for other food options that contain a lot of protein.  I really like peanut butter, but it gets old eating it nearly every day on apples, bananas and other foods.  So I decided to try almond butter.  I looked around at a few different stores, but the cheapest one I found was $5 or $6.  So... per typical cheapo mentality, I decided to make it myself at home.  According to my Vitamix recipe for peanut butter, you just add a couple cups of peanuts and grind... and grind.... then grind some more.  After 15 minutes, if it's still not creamy enough, you can add a little bit of olive oil to help it get creamier.  

I decided to try making almond butter with the Vitamix peanut butter recipe.....which as I said, is as simple as a couple cups of nuts and mix, mix, mix... then add a bit of olive oil to help it be extra creamy (but you don't have to).

Once done mixing, just spoon it into a container and stick in the fridge to cool off.

Of course nothing goes better than nut butter and apple, especially knowing that the only ingredients in it are nuts and a bit of olive oil.  Nothing else.  No preservatives.

Mmmm yum!!!

Have you tried making any kind of nut butters?  If so, what kind?

6.12.2013

Easy, Cheap, DIY Upholstered Headboard


Oops, didn't realize the pillows weren't centered.

My husband and I have been eyeing upholstered headboards for quite some time, and have been searching for something in a reasonable price range.  Unfortunately we haven't found anything worth spending our hard earned money on....

So where does that lead us?

We decided to make our own.

Once we decided to make one, I started keeping an eye out on Pinterest (follow me) and searching online for the best DIY version.  I found a few I liked bits and pieces of, but more so just decided to make it my own way.  

Here's the how to......
Since we have a queen size bed, we decided to get a piece of plywood that's 60"x32", which is the same width as the bed and gave us the height that we wanted.

Once I sanded off the rough edges (so we didn't get splinters why we did our project), we covered the front with a layer of foam --- now, let me tell you my SECRET.... I used a twin size foam mattress pad.  Oh yes.. It was $10 compared to a whopping $40!!  I about had a heart attack when the craft store priced theirs at $17.99/yard.

We used some tacky glue (the only kind of glue we had other than hot glue that didn't stick) and then pressed the foam down on the board.  Hense, the hilarious picture of us pressing it :) 




After the foam, we covered it with a double layer of batting.  We secured this to the back with a staple gun, being sure to secure it tightly all the way around, then trimmed the edges up since there was a lot of spillover.


Next, we secured the fabric.  We decided we wanted a linen/tweed type fabric, which is super popular right now and easy to find at Hobby Lobby or Joann Fabrics (don't forget your 40% off coupon with that!).  We secured the fabric with the staple gun as well.  Since the linen/tweed fabric is so thin, we wanted to be sure the staples didn't pull right out, so we folded the edges over.  Plus, this gave it a much smoother look.










Lastly, we folded all the corners nicely and trimmed excess fabric to make it look much nicer on the backside.

Once we had the actual headboard built, we decided to add some nail head trim.  Love, love, love the lock of this!!
After we completed the entire headboard, we built the stand out of leftover plywood.  Just made an upsidedown double "T," so it secures to the metal frame and attaches to the back of the headboard.  

I'm sure you're wondering how much all this cost.....

Here's the breakdown:
-Plywood (purchased 4'8' and cut at Home Depot for FREE) $25
-Foam $10
-Batting from Joann's with a 40% off coupon $15
-2 yd fabric from Joann's on sale for $2.99/yard
    -Nail head trim from Joann's with 40% off coupon    
      $12
                         Total Spent: only $68.

Compare that to the $1000+ Pottery Barn style or the $200 Target one (which is the cheapest I could find online)

5.13.2013

I'm usually cheap, but not all the time....

The majority of the time, I'm a huge cheapass.  How do you ask?  Well, when it comes to clothes I very rarely pay full price for them unless it's a "gotta have it" kind of thing.  I pretty much shop the sales, and/or TJMaxx, and always try to get it for 70% off.  Yes, that's my goal.  I know it's crazy, but if you shop often enough, you'd be surprised what you can save.  For example, at Christmas, I got my husband a $25 hat from Banana Republic for only $2.  Yes.  It was on sale, plus an additional percentage off of sale, then I used some rewards I had from my credit card.  Out of pocket, I only spent $2.  Now THAT is my favorite kind of deal.

I may be the best at getting great deals on clothes, but you can get just as good of deals on home goods and groceries.  Whenever I have a coupon for something I know that I will use in the future, I hang on to it and keep an eye out for the product to go on sale before the coupon expires.  The other great thing is that you can double up many store coupons with manufacturer coupons.  I try to stick to the groceries that are on sale when shopping, especially produce since we eat so much of it.  We tend to stock up on whatever we can, though we do have very minimal space to stock up on goods.  The biggest thing we stock up on is laundry soap, since it goes on sale for $1.88 per container back home.  So we bribe my parents to get it for us, or stock up whenever we're home.  It's too big of a cost savings not to take advantage of it.  When there are big sales on produce, we try to buy as much as we have space for in our freezer, and freeze whatever we can.  Which works out to be cheaper and healthier for smoothies.

I save and pinch where I can.  Partially because right now nearly every extra penny is going into savings for our house, but also because why not take a little bit of time to research and clip coupons to save quite a bit of money in the long run.  I keep saying that once I'm rich and famous, I won't be lazy and just go out and buy whatever just because I have the money, but I still plan to shop smart.

So even though I do pinch and spend smart 95% of the time..... there was this absolutely "just gotta have it" kinda purse at TJ Maxx a couple months ago.  I carried it around the store for awhile, while I was deciding on whether or not to buy it... since it was more than I typically like to spend on a purse.  It was an originally priced $400 purse.... and gorgeous!  So.... I had to buy it.  I just love, love, love it.  And apparently others do too, since I get compliments on it wherever I go.  :))

Moral of the story:  If you spend smart most of the time, it allows for more smart "splurges."

Do you save where you can, so you have the capability to splurge when you want to?

4.29.2013

Cleanse Update - Final Days

Source

So at this point, I'm sure you all are wondering how everything went with the last week or so of the cleanse.  Rather than bore you with the details of what I ate each day, since it's pretty much the same as the previous couple of posts, I thought I'd just go over the cleanse itself.

As I mentioned before, the idea behind the cleanse was to rid our bodies of the sugar, flour, gluten, and animal by products.  From the first few days, I felt tremendously better.  I felt less bloated, and had a lot more energy.  Overall, I just felt way better.  My skin started clearing up a lot more, too.

We cheated a couple of times with pizza and Mexican, and I will say that the day after I ate bad, I felt like crap!  Workouts were rough the day after we cheated.  You know.... the more I ate the "correct" way during the cleanse, the better I felt, and the more I kept thinking, "there must be something to this Vegan and gluten free thing."  

Here I am, a couple of days after the cleanse, and I've now eaten some cheese and my body is already rejecting it.  My hands are swollen, my stomach is grumbling and I'm sure in about 3 days, my face will start breaking out again.

The biggest struggle I believe we had was the lack of planning and scheduling meals.  Since we didn't plan well, we ended up eating a lot of the same stuff, which of course got boring.  Being bored led to the cheating.

All in all, I'd say the cleanse was successful and a really good experience.  I didn't have a lot of cravings for bad food during the cleanse.  Though my husband wasn't so lucky.  Since he gave up coffee and caffeine, he was pretty miserable the first week.  He was going through some major caffeine withdrawals without his daily cup of java, so decided to try decaf, but hated that more than not having any coffee.  I plan to continue eating mostly gluten free and vegan as much as possible since I'm still continuing on my weight loss journey and I feel it's the next step for me.

Has anyone else out there tried a cleanse?  Has it worked for you?  I'm always open to trying new things.

Follow the entire cleanse series below....
          Days 1-4 - The Beginning
          Days 5-7 - Trying to Eat Right While Eating Out
          Days 8-11 - Getting Bored with food

4.18.2013

Cleanse Update - Days 8-11

Follow the the cleanse from the beginning here.

All days --Basically I'm getting bored with the same kinds of foods.  Planning on searching for new ideas for next week.  Hopefully we can find something new and delicious... and exciting to make. 

What I ate....
Day 8 -- Breakfast -- Green smoothie -- Kale, strawberries, kiwi, banana
         -- Lunch -- Romaine salad with mushrooms, tomato and Italian dressing; hummus and tortilla chips
         -- Dinner --Fancy red potatoes :)
         -- Snacks -- Peanut butter and banana; no bake energy bites

Day 9 -- Breakfast -- Green smoothie
         -- Lunch -- Romaine salad with mushrooms, tomato and Italian dressing; hummus and tortilla chips
         -- Dinner --Grilled zucchini; popcorn
         -- Snacks -- No bake energy bites; Naval orange

Day 10 -- Breakfast -- Green smoothie
         -- Lunch -- Romaine salad with mushrooms, tomato and Italian dressing; leftover red potatoes
         -- Dinner -- Veggie Thai Spring Roll (SOOOO GOOD!!!); popcorn
         -- Snacks -- Peanut butter and banana

Day 11 -- Breakfast --Homemade oatmeal with apple, cinnamon and light agave nectar
         -- Lunch -- Romaine salad with mushrooms, tomato and Italian dressing; Strawberry/blackberry fruit salad
         -- Dinner -- **Cheat day** Slice of pizza
         -- Snacks -- Spoonful of peanut butter

4.14.2013

Cleanse Update - Days 5-7 - Trying To Eat Right While Eating Out.


Pho Soup
Vegan Taco Salad
Rice Chex

Read from the beginning here. 

Days 5 though 7 were Friday, Saturday, Sunday.... of course the hardest days of the week in my book.  We always tend to run around more on the weekends or have no desire to cook after the long week, therefore tend to eat out more on the weekends.

Here's how it went:
Day 5 -Felt pretty good, but starting to wish I could have a bit of junk food in my life
Day 6 - Caved in and cheated a little bit with some Gluten Free pizza with cheese on it.... agh
Day 7 - Back on track again, but super bad munchies.  A result of yesterdays slip up?  Hmm... perhaps.

What I ate....
Day 5 -- Breakfast -- Green smoothie -- Kale, strawberries, kiwi, banana
         -- Lunch -- Leftover spaghetti squash from previous day, Hummus and rice crackers
         -- Dinner -- Ate at this place called Wild Cow in East Nashville.  Got a vegan taco salad.
             Looks great, and tasted pretty good too.
         -- Snacks -- No bake energy bites. These are homemade GF bites made from oatmeal,
             peanut butter etc.  Recipe to come.

Day 6 -- Breakfast -- Green smoothie
         -- Lunch -- Fajitas from Mexican restaurant
         -- Dinner -- Gluten free pizza crust with tomato and basil and cheese. *gasp* this is where we cheated.
         -- Snacks -- No bake energy bites; dried fruit bar from Trader Joes (these are AMAZING,
             healthy, updated version of fruit roll ups.  So good!!)

Day 7 -- Breakfast -- Rice Chex with Almond Milk
         -- Lunch -- Homemade veggie pho soup again.  YUM!!
         -- Dinner -- popcorn (typical Sunday night meal)
         -- Snacks -- Banana with peanut butter; energy bites; dried fruit bar.

4.12.2013

21 Day Quantum Wellness Cleanse

source
My hubby and I have decided to do a 21 day cleanse in order to rid ourselves of the crap we tend to eat - gluten and animal byproducts.  The idea behind the cleanse is that it will clean our your system and break your desire to eat the bad flour, caffeine, animal products.  After all, those are the products that slow us down, make us feel like crap and overall, make us hungry all the time and fat.  And did I mention those products, particularly the gluten laced products, sugar, and animal products are typically what cause CANCER and early death?

That makes me NEVER want to eat animal products again......

Now, I know this sounds completely crazy to try and go vegan AND gluten free, but it's been surprisingly easy thus far and we're just starting day 5.

The general idea?  Eat FRESH.  

We've been eating mostly fresh veggies, salads, fruits, nuts, etc.  I love most of this stuff anyways!!  And So far with 4 complete days these are the current results:

-Days 1 and 2 - felt bloated from extra fiber from veggies and thought I was hungry constantly.
-Day 3 - munchies are GONE!  I no longer felt the need to eat excessively, eat sugar, etc.  Also cannot get enough water, I've been drinking almost double what I typically drink.  I guess due to the "detox" process of ridding the body of the crap.  Also, super tired.  Not sure if this is due to stress from work and/or a double workout on day 2.  Time will tell.
-Day 4 -  Feeling GREAT!  Realized I don't need as much to eat as I typically do consume.  Skin is starting to rid of the crap, too!!  They say a cleanse can be really good for people with acne and stomach problems, which is what me and my husband both have issues with.

What have I been eating, you ask.... FAN-TASTIC QUESTION!!
Day 1 -- Breakfast -- Green Smoothie made from Kale, Grapes, Banana, and Strawberry
          -- Lunch -- Salad with mushrooms and cabbage and balsamic dressing;
              Hummus with GF rice crax.
          -- Dinner -- Popcorn (yes, it's gluten free if you don't make the nasty bagged kind)
          -- Snacks -- Apple

Day 2 -- Breakfast -- Green Smoothie (same)
          -- Lunch -- Salad with mushrooms and cabbage and balsamic dressing;
              Hummus with GF rice crax.
          -- Dinner -- Homemade Chinese Pho soup (recipe coming soon!!)
          -- Snacks -- Apple and handful popcorn

Day 3 -- Breakfast -- Green Smoothie (same)
          -- Lunch -- Steamed broccoli and rice
          -- Dinner -- Tons and tons of green beans and a small batch of popcorn
          -- Snacks -- Banana and peanut butter

Day 4 -- Breakfast -- Green Smoothie (same)
          -- Lunch -- Sauteed zuchinni and mushrooms with brown rice
          -- Dinner -- Spaghetti squash with garlic, spinach, tomato and basil. YUMM!
          -- Snacks -- Apple and peanut butter

At this point, I'm really excited to see what happens with my body in the next few days, especially now that cravings are gone.

And yes, I KNOW I have a small addiction to popcorn.  it's a super quick meal for me when I don't have a lot of time. Don't judge. :)

4.03.2013

Spaghetti Squash 3 Ways

There have been a ton of spaghetti squash recipes on Pinterest lately and every time I see them, I contemplate making something.  The hubbs made some spaghetti with spaghetti squash awhile back, but I wasn't a big fan of it myself.  So this week while my husband's away I figured I'd try it a couple of different ways by cooking it myself.  After all, it's a fairly inexpensive and healthy meal.  I'm determined to like it, so here are the first 3 recipes I've tried, and I'm sure there will be 1,000 recipe trials, too.

Version 1 - Garlic and Parmesan Cheese
Cooked spaghetti in oven according to directions on label, then added a bit of parmesan cheese, garlic and seasoning.  This was OK, however trying it for the first time, it was a bit different than what I expected.


Version 2 - Sauteed Garlic and Spinach
For this version I followed different cooking directions for the spaghetti squash.  The previous version says to cut the squash in half and cook for 45 mins, but doesn't specify to turn it upside down.  This one stated to turn it upside down, and BOY, does it make a difference.  The squash was more moist, more cooked and less crispy.  So much better!!  While I waited for the spag squash to cool a bit, I sauteed up some garlic and spinach and then tossed it into the spag squash.  DELISH!


Version 3 - Pesto, Tomato, Basil and Mushroom
As I mentioned before in my mushroom risotto post, I love mushrooms with anything and everything, so of course I put them in this version, too.  This one has sauteed tomato, basil, mushrooms and pesto added to the spaghetti squash.  I really wasn't a huge fan of the pesto with this, so if I make it again, I'll definitely tweak the recipe.


Are there are good recipes you've tried that you want to share?  I'm always open to more suggestions.

3.31.2013

Makeover Stand Mixer

A few years ago when my grandmother passed I was handed down her 70's era Sunbeam stand mixer.  I've had it in a box in storage forever because we haven't had the counter space and, quite frankly, the color is just so un-appealing.  So what does that mean?  I decided to do a bit of research on painting an appliance, and wa-lah a much prettier (and PINK) mixer.  See pictures below.

Creamy BEFORE Picture
My original inspiration was the BRIGHT pink (aka Raspberry Ice) KitchenAid Mixer.  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this mixer and wouldn't mind owning one some day, but right now this has to do, since I can't justify spending the money on it, especially when I have one that works perfectly fine.


The Process
DURING
Before I started painted, I taped up the silver knobs and pieces, and also stuck tape in the vent holes to be sure it didn't damage the fan or power parts.  Then, I did a light sanding on the mixer to help the primer and paint stick, then followed it by a coat of spray primer.  Once that dried, I did two layers of the pink paint, then finally covered with a clear coat to help it withstand everyday messes in the kitchen.  Since I was busy, I let it go a day or 5 in between coats, so it had PLENTY of time to dry.  Though the paint can said it only needed 30 minutes to dry between coats.  

Finished Product
As you can see it's not quite the same color, but I didn't have many colors to choose from.  Also, since I did only pink and a little bit of white, I may add a decal to it to give it a little "something," ya know?
Pretty in Pink!
Up close and personal.  Isn't it pretty?

Products used: 



3.19.2013

Homemade Mushroom Risotto

When I found this recipe, I knew I'd have to try it. If its one thing I LOVE is mushrooms. I will put them on anything and everything. Love. Love. Love.




Mushroom Risotto
Serves 6-8 as a side dish, or 4 as main dish

Ingredients
6 cup chicken broth, divided
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1 1/2 cup Arborio rice
1 clove garlic, minced
12-16 oz fresh mushrooms
3 tablespoon chopped chives
sea salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions
In a saucepan, warm the broth over low heat.  Warm 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in the mushrooms, and cook until soft, about 6-8 minutes Remove mushrooms and set aside.  Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the large saucepan, and stir in the garlic -if you're like me, you will add tons extra 'cuz it's amazing. Cook 1-2 minutes.  Add rice, stirring to coat with oil, about 2 minutes. When the rice has taken on a pale, golden color, pour in wine, stirring constantly until the wine is fully absorbed. Add 1/2 cup broth to the rice, and stir until the broth is absorbed. Continue adding broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring continuously, until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is al dente, about 35-40 minutes. If this is not done slowly the creamy texture of the risotto will not be right.  Once all of the broth is absorbed, remove from heat, and stir in mushrooms with their liquid, chives, and Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately.

Side Note
The original recipe also called for 3 tablespoons butter, however I haven't added it to my version and love the taste. Anything I can do to make it healthier I do. I also added quite a bit more garlic than the recipe called for and nearly doubled the mushrooms to make it with fewer carbs per serving.

Source: Adapted from AllRecipes.com

3.11.2013

Guess Where We Went....


Guess where we went for the day............



"The Biggest Free Party in the World"
 MARDGRAS in New Orleans!!!  

Okay, so it was a month ago, but I keep forgetting to post pictures.

We went for just one day and night, since it's about an 8 hour drive from Nashville.  We left our house about 4 am on Saturday morning, and spent all day and night in New Orleans.  We went to a couple different parades, and got MASSIVE amounts of beads during them.  We actually weighed them when we got home and between my husband and I, we ended up with almost 20 lbs of beads.  TWENTY!  That is crazy!!


Halfway through the first parade....we more than doubled the beads after this.


Other than the parades, we walked throughout the French Quarter to see and taste part of the city.  We were told we had to try a beignet, a po boy sandwich, a muffuletta sandwich and a king cake.  Well, we tried all but the king cake.

We went to Cafe du Monde for one (or two) of the BEST beignet's.  Ever.  No need to go anywhere else for one.  Those were sooo yummy, gooey, delicious and powdery!  I don't have a picture since our hands were tied up with all the powdered sugar.

Josh got a Muffeletta at Central Bakery Co, the home of the original muffeletta.  Now, I'm not a fan of olives, but it tasted pretty good, and looked even better!!

I can't remember the name of the place I got the po boy sandwich, but unfortunately it wasn't that impressive.  I guess that's my fault though since I got turkey/cheese instead of something meaty/hearty.




3.03.2013

Homemade Wheat Tortillas

My husband and I have tried to cut out purchasing pre-made groceries as much as possible.  Two reasons -- so we know what's in our food, and its much much cheaper to make/bake than to purchase things at the grocery store.

So this has lead to another homemade product: Wheat Tortillas.

Now, we've tried NUMEROUS recipes and most of the whole wheat ones came out really tough, but this recipe is PERFECT, in my opinion --- few ingredients, only 67 calories per tortilla, and pretty easy to make. This also goes great with my homemade taco seasoning.

Beef with taco seasoning, sharp cheddar, spinach, salsa and little bit of sour cream.  Perfecto!

Whole Wheat Tortillas
Ingredients:
4 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups boiling water

Directions:
Mix flour, salt, and baking powder in large bowl.  Pour boiling water over mixture and mix thoroughly.  Knead with a dough hook for 2 minutes.  This will help the gluten in the flour to develop properly and absorb the water.  Shape into 24 balls and let rest for 20 minutes.  Heat a cast-iron or non-stick pan on medium-high heat.  Roll out balls on an unfloured, ungreased countertop.  Roll as thin as you can and streth the dough when you pit it up to place on your pan.  Cook on both sides.

Storage:
Store hot tortillas in storage container.  I use a paper towel on the bottom of the container so the tortilla at the bottom doesn't get soggy.  The trapped steam will keep the tortillas soft.  You can also freeze them once the container is cool, however ours never last long enough to need to freeze them.

2.21.2013

Outsmart Craigslist: How to Buy and Sell


Source

It never occurred to me that people could really be getting used on Craigslist until a co-worker came to me for my "expert" CL advice since I'm a CL frequenter. Whether it be buying goods for more than they should be, or selling goods for way less than they could get, a person can really get "taken" on Craigslist if you aren't careful.

Note: I don't consider myself an expert, but these are the things that have worked for me in the past. Many of these things I've learned from experience with buying and selling on CL.

Selling
-If you're willing to wait it out, you can make more money --- I posted a stereo multiple times and people offered pennies compared to what I was asking. I just kept re-posting it and one day a guy offers full price if I would meet him within 15 minutes. SOLD!

-If your goal is to just declutter and get rid of the item, low ball the price --- This has worked for numerous items for me.  It will get rid of the goods quick. SOLD!

-Post the price higher than what you'd like to get --- With all bargain shoppers, they're exactly that, bargain shoppers. Everyone is looking for a good deal. I've posted things $50 or more above the price I'd like to get (for a big/expensive item) just to give myself some wiggle room with negotiations. SOLD!

-Do your homework -- Make sure you aren't posting at ridiculously high prices. Check out the value on eBay or other sites to see what it's typically sold for today. Most things aren't worth what you originally paid. Hardly ever actually. SOLD!

-Don't be afraid of negotiations --- Most people will try to talk you down even once you've agreed on a price. Stand firm on what you've agreed on, if you're adamant about getting that price.  SOLD!


Buying
-Negotiate, Negotiate, Negotiate --- Don't hesitate to negotiate with others. Many people post things higher because they're expecting you to counter offer back. CHEAP!

-Set Your Standards --- I recently purchased a dresser with a very long, picky list of wants, one of those to spend less than $50. It may have taken longer, but I got exactly what I wanted. CHEAP!

-Again, do your homework --- Don't be afraid to look up prices online before buying. Many people don't research the actual value before posting and will ask what they want to get out of it. It's much harder for them to argue with you if you can show them a printout from eBay with the current value.  CHEAP!

-Be willing to walk away --- If you can't get it for the price you want, the product isn't what you expected, or are uncomfortable with the transaction walk away.  CHEAP!


Additional Buying/Selling Smarts
-Last but not least, when buying or selling play it smart --- When possible, meet in a well populated area during the day if you can. Also never go alone.

-When having people come to your house, always have another person home --- Many times my husband will also walk people around to the garage or basement so they don't walk through our house looking for items to steal (hey, you never know!)

2.14.2013

Dresser Turned TV Stand - Day 5 - FINAL!!!!


THE TV STAND IS DONE...

Check it out!!





What do you think??  Have you tried to re-create any old or secondhand products as something new?


Price Breakdown --
Dresser from Craigslist - $50
Uhaul to transport dresser - $22
Primer $7
Paint $5
Spray Polyurethane $8
Spade to drill holes $10
Total ONLY $101!!!

Price for a store bought similar dresser.... $800 or on sale for $400 on Amazon.

That means, I saved $700!!!!!!!  WHOOHOO!!!!

Source
Follow the Entire Dresser Turned TV Stand Project Series:

2.12.2013

Dresser Turned TV Stand - Day 4

So, we did one thing a little backwards with the dresser....

We hadn't purchased anything to cut out the holes for the back of the dresser, in order to be able to pull the cords through.

Long story short..... we were done with all the sanding, priming, painting and top poly coat, and realized we still had to drill the holes.  Ooops!!

We went out to our local Home Depot and purchased a 1 1/2 inch spade bit to drill the holes in the backside.

First, we measured halfway between each section, to be sure it was centered, then measured up one inch, so it was close to the bottom and would have a less chance of being seen.





Next, we taped the wood around where we planned on drilling, so we would have a less chance of splitting the wood.




Then we drilled holes from the inside out.  That way, if the wood happened to split or tear, we wouldn't harm the inside "pretty" pieces that we worked so hard to paint.

Once we were done drilling, we just vaccuumed out the dust and wa-lah, DONEZO.




Follow the Dresser Turned TV Stand Series:

2.09.2013

Dresser Turned TV Stand - Day 3


Last Post, I mentioned that we screwed up with the paint, which resulted in streaky paint.  So we went to the paint store and got some more paint.  Thankfully they register the product to our name, so they were able to pull up the exactly paint color we previously purchased.  

Once we had the new paint, we decided to go over nearly everything REALLY well to make sure we didn't have any streaks left from "the mistake."  

Once the 3rd coat finally dried, we decided to go ahead and poly the top. 

In the past, we've always purchased paint on poly, but for some reason, this time when we went to the store, they had a spray poly.  We mutually decided it was better to use the spray so we don't have to try to clean the poly after all the trouble we had with it last time.  Note: do NOT get polyurethane on your hands... it's a pain in butt to clean off!  We tried EVERYTHING in our house to get it off.... body scrub, alcohol, dish soap... nothing worked!!

Color Sneak Peek......



Follow the Dresser Turned TV Stand Series:
New Project - Dresser Turned TV Stand
Dresser Turned TV Stand - Day 1
Dresser Turned TV Stand - Day 2