Thursday, January 29, 2009

Tract house blues

Today I'm feeling a bit of tract house blues. Don't get me wrong, I mean I'm happy to have a home and I love where I live. Most of time I really like my house even though it's much smaller than we probably need. But, sometimes the lack of architecture and charm really brings me down. I mean our house is vanilla bland like so many others in the burbs. I dream of french cottage, mid century modern, cool ramblers and arts and craft bungalows. I think I have a good eye for design and while I'm crafty...I wouldn't say that I'm necessarily handy if you know what I mean. I'd love to install some molding and replace our baseboard. Replace the fixtures in the bathroom, rip up the carpet in our room...the list goes on. Yet, I can't seem to dive in and do these things. I have a fear of making it worst...or taking forever to finish something (as I been known to do...think of the year long quilt). As much as I love him, my dh is more about writing a check for someone to come and address these issues than tackling them himself. I guess I'm just frustrated and perhaps a bit envious of people who can make their visions come to fruition. I'm not fearless when it comes to my house. I wish I were. Anyway, this is an ongoing issue for me. You'll probably see me write about it again. I think I probably should stop watching so much HGTV, that might help. So, there it I have the tract house blues.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tackle It Tuesdays!

I'm a busy girl...just like most of you, I'm sure. I have a mental list of a million things I need to accomplish and I'm easily distracted by shiny objects, lol. So, I thought I'd issue myself a weekly challenge to check some of those lingering projects off my to do list. I picked Tuesday because it's one of the few days of the week that I have a couple hours to myself and I liked the alliteration of "Tackle It Tuesday", lol. So, what to do first? Ah yes, the junk drawers...yep that's plural. I don't like visual clutter, yet I don't always take the time to find a place for things so you can see how that might have led to my current problem. So, that's what I will do first tackle those junk drawers.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Monday's meal

Baby it's cold outside so here's a little something to warm you up a bit. There's lots of recipes out there for White Chicken Chili. In fact, you might have one you love. Here's mine, tweaked to make it the way I like it. I hope you enjoy it. Oh, and don't be afraid to tweak it some might just be even better. Enjoy!

4 cups of uncooked chicken, cubed
2 cans great northern beans, undrained
1 large onion, diced
1 cup frozen white corn
1 yellow pepper, diced
2 tsp. fresh garlic, minced
1 small can chopped green chilis
1 cup white wine
1 can chicken broth
2 tsp. cumin powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
1 tsp of oregano
1 tbsp. ground white pepper
3 tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp of lime, squeezed for juice
1 seeded jalapeno pepper, diced
½ cup sour cream
½ cup shredded pepper jack cheese

Heat olive oil in large saute pan to medium-high heat, and add garlic, onions, and chicken. Saute for 10-15 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink.

In a large Dutch oven add chicken broth, cumin, paprika, ground pepper, salt, lemon juice, chilis and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover with lid, and let simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add the chicken, garlic, and onion mixture, plus the corn, beans, bell pepper, jalapeno and white wine.

Cover and let simmer for approximately 30-35 minutes.

When finished, remove from heat and stir in the sour cream. Garnish with the shredded pepper jack and serve with some warm yeast rolls.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The home stretch

I am happy to report that I have 2 3/4 sides of dd's quilt stitched and I do believe I can finish it this week. I can't begin to tell you how happy I will be to finish it. I'm not going to say I'll never do another quilt...but I have learned what I will do differently. I realize I like a more modern looking quilt, think Denyse Schmidt and I don't want to have to stitch a million tiny blocks together. I will experiment with ways to attach the binding as all that handsewing is time consuming. Anyway, I just want to share that I'm almost finished...I have to tell you that I thought this day would never come. If all goes well I'll be sharing pictures of the finished product later in the week. Wish me luck!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The found art of homemaking

I've been going through a lot of changes the last few years. If I had to describe it I'd say I've settled into myself. I'm happier than I've ever been with who I am and my life. I don't want to sound like PollyAnna, I do have bad times and challenges just like everyone does, but when it come down to it, I can say that I really am happy. One of the things that I realize that really brings me joy and a real sense of calm is homemaking. What is homemaking exactly? To me it's nurturing and caring for hearth and home. It's doing the little things to show that I cherish those in my life. It's taking the time and care to make sure our environment is lovely and comfortable. It's assuring that when my loved one's think of me it is with a warm heart and love. I wasn't always like this...oh I was always a bit domestic, but I've become more than that in recent years. I've truly become a homemaker. I realize that this was my calling all along, it's as if I truly found me. I remember in my 20's how ambitious and goal oriented I was. I don't think I really took the time to enjoy my life. Now I cherish each day in a way that I never did before. It's not important to me to be thought of as professionally successful or to keep up with the Jones' anymore. I'm happy feathering my own little nest...having my own slice of the pie.
I know that this all seems sort of anti feminist and retro perhaps, but I have to say I value my education and the fact that I can provide for myself and my family...but I love that I can also provide for them in other ways too. In fact I think being educated has made me a better homemaker even. I'm online a good bit and I think there's definitely been a resurgence in the art of homemaking. There are tons of sites about making your home beautiful, HGTV is constantly adding shows to it's lineup, blogs abound about homemaking, parenting, cooking and decorating. When I go to the bookstore, the home section seems to have expanded in recent years. People want to know how to care for their house and by extension their families. I feel like I'm just part of a growing movement really.
I could go on and on...but I won't. I'll just say that when people say things to me like "Oh, you're so domestic" or "Oh, you cook?" with a hint of irony in their voices, I don't take it the way they probably intended it...I take it as the highest compliment I could be given. Yes, I am a homemaker.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I got an award!

How cool is that? I feel so jazzed! Little ol' me in the wide blogging world, lol.
Anyway, it's the Supreme Scribbler Award. I guess it means I gab a lot, lol. I was given the award from ChiChi of the fantastic blog "Where there's a will there's a way"

Here are the rules.
The Rules: 1. Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy Friends. 2. Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author & the name of the blog from whom he/she has received The Award. 3. Each Superior Scribbler must display The Award on his/her blog, and link to This Post, which explains The Award. 4. Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit this post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List. That way, we'll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives This Prestigious Honor! 5. Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.

ChiChi, I'm sorry I'm so tech challenged and it's taken me over a month to get it together. Thanks for the honor and all the inspiration. You're always thought provoking and intelligent in your prose. You're the best! Blog on mama!

Now I just need to come up with a list of 5 other scribble worthy blogs.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Although not completely unheard of, it's a rare occurrence to have snow where we live. We awoke this morning to big fluffy flakes falling. School is cancelled. The kids were ecstatic and excited to go out and frolic in this occasional lasted about 15 minutes before they were ready to come back inside to sit in front of the fire and play the Wii.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Monday's meal

If you've followed my blog for a bit you might have noticed that I really like bananas. My friend D. turned me on to this fantistically delicous recipe. I've seen it before on several sites and never tried it. How wrong I was, it's probably one of the best Banana cake recipes I've ever tasted. I think it's because it stays so incredibly moist. Don't think that when you see the cooking temperature it's a typo and don't forgot to put it in the freezer. That's essential. You're going to love it!
Oh and for the ladies at work who you go, I'm expecting some cake next weekend, lol.

Best Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

3/4 cup butter
2 1/8 cups white sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas

Cream Cheese Frosting

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9x13 inch pan. In a small bowl, mix mashed bananas with lemon juice, set aside. In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream 3/4 cup butter and 2 1/8 cups sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in 2 teaspoons vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk. Stir in banana mixture. Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and place directly into freezer for 45 minutes. This will make the cake very moist.

For the frosting: In a large bowl, cream 1/2 cup butter and cream cheese until smooth. Beat in 1 teaspoon vanilla. Add confectioners sugar and beat on low speed until combined, then on high until frosting is smooth. Spread on cooled cake.

** Be sure to test the cake for doneness, I needed to cook mine for a bit longer than the recipe called for **

Monday, January 12, 2009

Monday's meal

I've been very busy lately and it got me to thinking about quick meals. Here's one you might enjoy. A simple pasta dish prepared quickly with minimal fuss and muss. Eat up!

Quickie Pasta Pot

1 pound ground turkey (or beef, or pork...whatever you like)
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cups rotini pasta, uncooked
3 1/2 cups water
1 jar spaghetti sauce of your choice
1 cup sliced mushrooms (or in a pinch you can use a small can)
1 cup chopped red peppers
1 cup shredded Mozzarella Cheese

Brown meat large deep skillet; drain. Add onions; cook until tender.
Add pasta, water and spaghetti sauce. Bring to boil; cover reducing heat to low; simmer 15 min., stirring occasionally. Add mushrooms and red peppers; cook 5 min. Add cheese on top. Serve with garlic bread and a nice red wine.

Friday, January 9, 2009


Just plugging away at that UFO list. Finished up a bunch of tshirts that I had cut out for the boys in the summer (hence the fabric choices and short sleeves). Luckily they haven't grown a ton and they should see them through the transitional season and maybe into early summer. Now the only thing left in my UFO basket is some undies for O., the jeans for me and a purse. I'm pretty excited to knock out some of these lingering projects and start the new year fresh ready to take on exciting new adventures. I did cut out a pattern the other day to make myself some scrubs for work and of course I'd like to get started on the weekender bag soon. Oh and goodness knows I should be working on the dreaded quilt. I've got about 8 weeks to finish it. It's crazy that I can't seem to knock it out. Honestly, I don't know that I will ever make another quilt in my life.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Chic and cheap in 2009

I really pride myself on knowing how to stretch a dollar and I started thinking about my long term goals for my life and my home. I'd like to have a chic home...but I don't want to spend a lot to get it. I started thinking about the compacting/simplicity movement. I thought I'd do a modified version of that for 2009 and use it as a central theme in my decorating pursuits this year.
So what will my decorating compact with myself be? Well first off, not to buy anything new in 2009. I will borrow, barter, or buy used. If it is absolutely necessary to buy new I will try and purchase fair trade and items that minimize the ecological footprint on our environment. Whenever I do need to purchase an item, I will try and buy it used if it is available and it is a safe product to purchase used. I will shop my garage and fabric stash thinking of way to reuse or recycle items. I hope that by thinking in these terms it will not only challenge me to think outside the box decoratively, but also stay within a realistic budget while creating a unique and one of a kind environment.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Monday's meal

You may remember that a few months ago I got a super automatic espresso machine. I really love that thing! I've become obsessed with making the perfect white mocha. Anyway...along that line I got turned on to biscotti. I thought to myself "who would want these dry rock hard cookies?" But, my co-worker Joy, said "Dip them in your coffee and they are so good". So I did, and they are. Try them and see.

Delightful Biscotti

1/3 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 teaspoons orange zest
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup toasted almond pieces

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour a large baking sheet. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, vanilla, almond extract, and zest. Combine flour, baking powder, nutmeg, and salt. Stir into the creamed mixture until just blended. Mix in almonds. Divide dough into two pieces. Form into long flat loaves about 1/2 inch tall and 12 inches long. Place the loaves 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until a light golden brown. Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Cut diagonally into slices about 1/2 inch thick. Lay the slices flat on the baking sheet. Bake for another 10 minutes, turning over once. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Place chocolate chips into a small, microwave-safe bowl and melt, stirring every 20 to 30 seconds until smooth. Use a spatula to spread chocolate onto one side of each cookie. Let cool to room temperature and enjoy with a nice espresso

Friday, January 2, 2009

To do...2009

Just starting the new year of thinking about the things I want to accomplish in 2009.
1. Spend as much time and enjoyment with my dh and kids as humanly possible
2. Tell everyone I love them as often as possible
3. Save

1. Redo the master bedroom (to include window treatments, new bedding, new paint color, new flooring and whatever else I think of)
2. Makeover the back patio so that it's appealing and we actually use it
3. Do some landscaping
4. Purge
5. Organize vast recipe collection in to several binders for easier access
6. Resume OAMC plan (it saves a ton and it's healthier)

Personal health and well being
1. Continue to work on my diet (not a diet, but how to eat healthfully)
2. Continue to work out on a regular basis
3. Join the running class that meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Y.
4. Reach my goal weight.
5. Relax more.

Craft wise
1. Finish UFO's and don't create more.
2. Sew up my own stash of fabric
3. Use fabric and yarn stash to make gifts for loved ones instead of buying them.
4. Challenge myself to learn new techniques in sewing and knitting.
5. Take the time to do it right and pay attention to the little details.

It's good to write it all down for reference. Hope your 2009 is full of fun and new challenges. Good luck!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Cozy Toe Slippers

I happened to pickup the Mary Englebriet's Home Companion magazine on the recommendation of a friend and it just so happened to have a free pattern for little pair of ballet slippers. I modified the pattern a bit to fit my big ole feet and used jiffy grip(thanks Barb for sending me some) on the bottom rather than felted wool, but I think I like them and will make some more. They don't offer a ton of support like the dearfoams I'm used to wearing...but they are way cute.