Saturday, February 26, 2011

A little preview of things to come

I only have 15 mins before some of my best gals pick me up for a game night at our friend's place, so this is really a half a post. I spent 3.5 hours last night working on organizing our kitchen. I still have some cabinets to clean out/rearrange, but I'm so happy with the results so far. Here are the befores/afters of 3 of our 4 drawers (the 4th one holds silverware in a nice and tidy flatware organizer!)




(I switched around the contents of this drawer so the stuff we use a lot was closer to the stove)



It's amazing what some drawer organizers can do!! Now I will never go searching for my measuring cups/spoons again! I also threw out a bunch of stuff we didn't use anymore and moved some other stuff (take out menus/small appliance manuals) to other areas in the kitchen

Oh, and there's no before picture, but check out what our fridge looks like, now that I've done a major purge of old food/unnecessary items!

Now when I open the fridge I can actually SEE what's inside! Time to go food shopping!!

Stay tuned for pics/updates of my pantry project and operation cabinet switchover!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Great finds at Target today!

I love when I go into Target for a couple of items and walk out with things not even on my list - however, I just couldn't pass up these 3!

So I was wanting to update our formal living room a bit, specifically the slipcover for the couch

Here's how the couch came to us:

Then we transformed it to this:

(Dark brown slipcover I bought a few years ago at Target)

And now, thanks to, yet again, a fabulous deal at Target, this hand-me-down couch is sporting a brand new look:

The slipcover is this:

Which technically is a bit too small for our "couch" (which is sort of like an oversized loveseat I guess, because it only has 2 cushions?) However, even tho it is a bit small, I couldn't pass it up. Here's a closeup of that Clearance tag:

Yes, that's right, originally $90 and I got it for under $23!!!! I love the color and the texture and the fact that it's Scotchguard protected!

Ok, onto more deals-

One of my New Year's resolutions is to get organized. My good friend Tracy over at TEM's New Beginnings passed along this awesome blog: IHeart Organizing. I've been reading it almost non-stop since last night! Jen is so inspiring and has some amazing ideas!

After perusing the clearance section in a few more departments, I found 2 items that I knew would be just the thing to kickstart my resolution: a mail organizer and a mesh basket.

I can never manage to find envelopes, thank you notes, pens, stamps, return address labels, etc when I need them! So I bought this cute little mail station thingie to hold everything.

Speaking of never being able to find things, under the sink in our full bath was screaming for a makeover, and that's where the mesh basket comes in! (I totally forgot to take a before picture, but just imagine bottles of bathroom/toilet cleaner aimlessly strewn about, plus tons of half used shampoo/conditioner bottles and other odds and ends we just didn't need.)

Here's the after:

Left side (ignore the ugly pipes and even uglier contact paper - project for the summer!)

Right side

Angle shot so you can see the whole thing

I did the same thing under our kitchen sink about a month and a half ago and it has made a HUGE difference being able to find exactly the right cleaner when I need it, without having to pull everything out and waste time, when I could be cleaning!

Oh, and here's what I paid for the desk organizer and basket:

I love savings!!!! And I especially love Target :)

Chipotle Chicken Stew

Came out awesome!!!

I ended up heating some brown rice, threw it in a bowl, added the stew, stirred everything together and voila:

It didn't turn out as spicy as I thought it might - which is fine, because I prefer mild food anyway, but my husband likes things HOT! So next time I'll either add another chipotle pepper, or more cumin, or both!

Oh, and here's the recipe:

Chipotle Chicken Stew (from the Crock Pot recipe card collection)

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into cubes
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 bay leaf
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced (they sell these in a can - I hated having to buy the whole can for 1 pepper, but it wasn't so bad when I realized the can was only $.60)
1 medium onion, diced
1 can (15 ounces) navy beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) crushed tomatoes, undrained (The can I had was 28 ounces, so I just measured out 14 1/2 - also, I couldn't find any other size but 28 ozs in the store - weird)
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup orange juice
Cilantro sprigs (optional - I didn't include this)

1. Combine chicken, salt, cumin, bay leaf, chipotle pepper, onion, beans, tomatoes with juice, broth and orange juice in 3- to 6-quart Crock-Pot slow cooker (Ours is actually a Hamilton Beach model but works just fine!)

2. Cover; cook on LOW for 7 to 8 hours, or on HIGH for 3 1/2 to 4 hours. (I cooked ours on low for just over 7 hours) Remove bay leaf before serving. Garnish with cilantro sprigs, if desired.

Makes 6 servings - Ours fed 3 people (our guest had a 2nd helping and there is still a little left in the crock pot. Not sure what an actual "serving size" is)

My husband and his friend loved it! His friend said it reminded him of a chili.

Oh, and here is how I set the table:

I realized I have very few runners, so I improvised and layered some paisley placemats I bought at the Christmas Tree Shop a few years ago

That's a better picture of the placemats upclose (and Brandon's bowl - he didn't realize how much brown rice he added - oops!)

Can't wait to try out some more recipes over the next few weeks - this one is definitely a keeper!!!

Here's what I'm tackling today:

And here are all my ingredients lined up ready to go:

I'm annoyed I had to actually buy a little thing of OJ (we don't regularly drink it/have it in our fridge) but at least it's a good kind. I'm glad I already had a can of crushed tomatoes (which I bought awhile ago - don't worry, expiration date isn't til May!)

I'll update when it's all cooked!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Product Rave!

We have 2 cats, Venus and Luna. Venus is all black and Luna is black and white, so you can imagine the lovely cat hair they leave behind on furniture/clothes/etc.

They rarely cuddle together, but when they do it's always camera-worthy!

So anywho, on Sunday we were at Petco getting them a nail clipper (their talons were out.of.control) and spotted this:

It's the FURminator!! Brandon's mom (who has 2 long-haired cats) raves about it! It was a bit pricey (on-sale for $37 instead of $45) but lordy, does this thing WORK! (Oh and here's the link, via Petco: FURminator - we got the one for short haired cats and even tho our 2 are technically still kittens, Brandon said his Mom tried the FURminator for kittens and it didn't work as well, so we opted for the "Large Cat" version)

I spent about a half hour grooming the 2 of them and I should have taken a picture of all the fur I had piled up when I was done. It was amazing!

The cats also loooove the feeling of the metal comb agains their fun/skin because it's like you're petting them, times 1000. Even our skittish one, Venus, stood still and let me groom her for about 10 minutes. Believe it or not, their tails were one area that was loaded with extra fur.

Venus is currently sitting on me while I type this and I'm wearing a khaki colored sweater. I have maybe a total of 5 hairs on me when normally I would have about 50!!

Furminator, you may just be my new best friend :)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I'm so ready for summer!!!

I cannot wait to trade in my Uggs for flip flops, wear cute summer sundresses instead of bulky winter coats, and switch over to ICED chais at Starbuck's!

In the meantime, I'll just reminisce about last summer's vacation to Aruba and the pretty pink flowers in our front yard!

Thursday, February 3, 2011


Breakfast + Dinner = Brinner

I don't know how it originated, but brinner is one of the best inventions EVER! There are so many options for brinner, the possibilities are endless! Pancakes, french toast, omelettes, you name it!

One of our favorite brinners is a concoction of eggs, cheese, sausage and some sort of veggie - usually peppers, but last night I changed things up a bit.

Here's a picture of last night's masterpiece (well, actually the leftovers from last night, which were very yummy the 2nd time around)

No, it's the not the prettiest looking meal I've ever made, and I should have taken a picture when it was still in the casserole dish (note to self), but! It's pretty simple to make, and my husband loves it, which is another plus.

Here's what I used:

-Organic Valley eggs (5 - I only had 5 left in the container, otherwise I might have used 6)

-a dash of organic milk (the S&S kind)

- Hans All Natural Skinless Chicken Breakfast Links (6)

(These can be found at Whole Foods - they come in a package of 14 for about $5)

- Cascasdian Farms Broccoli Cuts (I only used half the bag, so about 8 oz. worth)
(bought at S&S in their Nature's Pride section)

- Shaw's brand Mexican blend shredded cheese (the only shredded cheese I have on hand currently!) I didn't measure this out. I used enough to cover the egg/broccoli/sausage mixture. Next time I'll pay more attention!

And here's how I threw it all together:
-I cooked the sausages over medium heat til they were browned on both sides (about 8-10 mins) While I was doing this, I defrosted the broccoli and cut it up into smaller, bite-sized pieces.
-Using a medium casserole dish (I have no idea how much it holds, but it's oval shaped and has a cover and I love it!) I added the eggs and milk, whisking together.
-I cut up the sausage into pieces, added that and the broccoli to the egg/milk mixture.
-I sprinkled the shredded cheese on top of everything and then cooked it (covered!) in the microwave (yes, you read that right!) for 10 minutes. Well, 8 minutes, actually because I took it out, poked at it with a fork and realized a section of it still hadn't cooked all the way through, so I put it back in for another 2 minutes and it was perfect!

It came out of the microwave very hot, so I let it sit for a minute or 2, then scooped it into a bowl and served it - delish!

I like that it's quick to make, and I usually have all the ingredients on hand. I've never tried it with broccoli - as I said earlier, I tend to make this with peppers - I get the frozen tri colored ones, either from Whole Foods or Trader Joe's. But the broccoli worked just as well - I'm sure you could use other veggies too and probably different meats.

I realize I didn't give a stellar recipe, but I don't always follow recipes and this was just one of those meals that's sort of evolved over the past year.

I hope this is the first of many "experiments" that I blog about too!

Blame it on the..

snow! (you thought I was gonna say rain, right?)

Yes, I'm blaming my lack of blogging on the several feet of snow we've gotten in the past month!

(looking out from the guest bedroom to the backyard..and this isn't even from the most recent snowstorm!)

But really..

I knew I couldn't stay away too long, so I'm back at it, thanks to some motivation from a few fellow bloggers.

Ok, so..where to start

-The half bath is 99% completed.. I haven't been able to finish painting in there, because of the stupid toilet. (The gross yellow one that needs to be replaced ASAP!) I will take updated pictures soon

-I'm realizing that we're sort of in a "house project" lull (again, blaming this on the snow!) but I'm happy to say that all the insulation we put in the attic this past November has helped tremendously with our heating bill and we are nice and toasty! There are a few little projects I'd like to complete over the next few months (mainly decorative projects, like hanging artwork, putting up some shelves, etc) but that's not going to sustain this blog!'s time for this blog to undergo a conversion of sorts. I'm going to work on posting not only house updates, but also recipes, money saving tips, random thoughts, and the like.

I'm hoping this will help tide me over until the spring/summer when we can really tackle some large projects like:

-Working to transform our disgusting lawn into a yard worthy of a Scott's Turf Builder ad
-Painting our kitchen cabinets a crisp white
-Possibly painting our ceilings if we feel up to it
-Sand/restain/paint some furniture that's been lying around for awhile

Having said that, I'm about to post a yummy recipe I whipped up for dinner last night, so stay tuned!