Tuesday, September 22, 2009

That's a spicy meatball!! Not really...but they are good!

So this past weekend I was home visiting family and having a pampered chef party for a friend in Forest Park. One of the ideas I picked up along the way was a new twist on meatballs. I got the idea from my grandma. She has tea with some older ladies from church at a retirement home. This is no ordinary retirement community - it's pretty nice. Anyway, there's always a different array of food. One of the selections that stood out to my grandma was spinach stuffed meatballs (they served them with a side of alfredo sauce).
I don't profess to be an amazing cook, but I'll try anything at least once. Since I didn't have a recipe I used what I had at home and came up with the most delicious meatballs.
1 lb of Italian Sausage
1 egg
1/3 cup bread crumbs
1 clove of garlic
1/3 cup of ricotta cheese
Parmesan cheese
Italian seasoning
Mush all the ingredients above together. Then take fresh spinach and roll into small balls. Just pack the sausage around it. The meatballs come out quite large. I think it only made 7-8 meatballs. I put them in the skillet to brown them on all sides and then put them in the oven for about 10 minutes at 400 degrees.
They were delicious!! The spinach was cooked just right and it had some great flavor from the fat in the sausage!! I served them over just plain old spaghetti. I'm not a leftover lover, but I was good with having these two nights in a row.
Now I need to make a bunch and freeze them so I can take a few out at a time to use in spaghetti. I have also used cooked meatballs in lasagna... well broken them up and crumbled them as a layer. Oh the possibilities!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Kitchen - Before and After

I realized that I started this blog after we did most of the rejuvenation to our home - it was in desperate shape to say the least! I'm going to do my best to take you through one room at a time. I hope you enjoy the pictures of the kitchen/ dining room! Yes, the island is moving... and it is 5'' shorter than the other counters. Yes, the first things I did in the kitchen was remove wallpaper and brass knobs from the cabinets. I think my MIL bet someone that the wallpaper would be down within 2 hours of closing on the house - she was right! I spray painted all 40 knobs a bronzed metal color to match the new light fixtures throughout the kitchen.
I try my best to reuse... so we reused the carpet in the "dining" area for the gray bedroom. We cleaned it after it was relocated. It was in good condition, so the green carpet got the boot - no where to reuse that carpet, but at the dump!
Kolin tried his best to get this crazy drapery pole down... it resulted in 4 huge holes in the wall. It's a good thing we ended up having to texture all the walls so we can no longer see the holes! Also, the sea foam green curtain is one of my favorite drop cloths.
The first thing that was installed at the house was DISH (see TV on the counter). I think the installation guys called us while we were still at the closing, Kolin might have to go to TV rehab someday.
This is the dining room after we did the following:
  • Installed a darker wide plank laminate floor
  • New crisp white trim
  • Textured the walls
  • Painted
  • New light fixture/ reused the others and just painted them with the same spray paint as the knobs.
  • The buffet was a find at the thrift store - $60 and a little black paint
  • The other furniture is from our old house. I'm still thinking of getting a rectangular table for more seating.
This is the kitchen finished. New knobs, floor, trim, appliances. It's just crazy to me that this is the same kitchen. I think the flooring is really what changed the look. I was hoping for more of a contrast in the wood floor and cabinets, but maybe I'll paint the cabinets someday.
I'm still planning on replacing the countertops and possibly extending the island. I am thinking of ordering the countertop longer than it needs to be and possibly build a small shelf underneath for support, while still allowing room for 3-4 bar stools. We have the room, but I still need to think through how this will work... and save for the countertops. Also, what material?? So many more decisions and so many more ideas!!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A few more fall decorations

Fabric for the rosey velvet chair

So I took a drive Sunday and wound up at the fabric store... how did that happen?? Well I saw the sign at Hancock Fabric - 52nd Anniversary Sale. I knew it was going to be a good one. I started in the back of the store where the clearance is - then I saw it! A neutral damask print and she was even on clearance! Originally $30 a yard... marked down to $15!!
I knew I needed about 5 yards to cover the chair and the price tag was still a bit high. I took it to the counter to see how much was really on the roll. I asked them to check the price as well. To my luck another discount... she was marked down to $7.20/ yd!!! I can handle that!
So 5 yards later and $36 dollars invested I'm on my way to recovering my first chair!

Make an offer!

That's what the sign said... So I made one - $5 for the 3 drawer dresser, he said $10, I said $7 and he took it. Then I saw this beaten up bench and remembered a fellow blogger's post about a bench she'd recently transformed. I had to have it. I asked $10 for everything and he took it.
I'm thinking of making a cushion for the top since I don't know how to cane. I'm leaning toward putting this in the kitchen! Wait and see!
I'm going to be busy the next few weekends so I'm sure these will be collecting dust, but I promise they will turn into something beautiful.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Saturday Brunch

It's basketball season... that means 8am practice every Saturday morning till around Christmas. It also means I'm home along on Saturday morning. Since I didn't make the usual pizza last night, I had leftover sausage to use. I decided on another quiche. This quiche recipe is made with a pastry crust. I used sausage, cheese, onion and broccoli.
Here's the recipe:
  • 3/4 lb. pork sausage
  • 1/2 c. onion, chopped
  • 1/2 c. broccoli, chopped
  • 1 1/2 c. Cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 tbsp. flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 c. milk
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1 deep dish pie crust

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake crust while preparing quiche. Brown sausage and drain. Saute onion and broccoli and mix in sausage. Combine cheese and flour; stir in sausage, onion and broccoli. Spread on crust. Mix remaining ingredients (eggs, milk spice) and pour over sausage mixture. Bake 35-40 minutes. Let cool about 10 minutes before slicing.

Free Chair

So last week I got a phone call from a friend in town. She recently purchased some new bedroom furniture and didn't have room for the chair anymore. She thought of me and I gladly accepted this chair:

As you can see the chair is a dusty rose velvet. She was just going to take it to the thrift store, but we removed the middle man (aka thrift store) and I took it. It's in great shape, rocks and swivels. Now the real challenge comes...RECOVERING.

I've started some research at apartmenttherapy. What do you think? I'm not sure where I'm going to put it or what pattern of fabric I'll use. I think I'm going to try to enlist my grandma as she used to upholster furniture with a friend - I know you're reading this Aggie... when are you coming to help?? :)

I can't wait to post the recovered chair!

Date Night

As you all know, I have a great husband. He emailed me earlier this week asking to take me on a date of my choice - super sweet. We decided to go to Red Robin for dinner because I love their "freckled lemonade" really I just like to eat the strawberries out of it.
Then we decided to go to the movies, but there's really not much to choose from... it was between Time Travelers Wife and Julie & Julie. We heard not so good things about TTW and I hadn't read the book. So Kolin allowed me to see my "chick flick of the year". Every good husband goes with his wife once a year... more than that he'll spontaneously combust or use it against you when he wants his way... He'll pull out the "remember when we saw that awful movie... well now you have to see Rambo #48 with me.."

I know he'll never admit it, but I think he secretly related to Julie's husband. The movie was funny at times as well. It has me curious about making beef bourguignon. Here is a link to the original recipe: http://knopfdoubleday.com/marketing/cooking/BoeufBourguignon.pdf

Entryway for around $50

This is our entry way...

A few things to point out:

  • The Bookcase was purchased in the Outlet section of "Home Decorators Collection" - it was listed in the outlet for $69 with shipping, but once it arrived it was missing the track for the bottom drawer. We called to see if they could ship the parts to us, but they said it was the last one. The did a price adjustment and we got the bookcase for $39-- I can deal without the track for that price.
  • The mirror was a freebie from my mom. It was gold, but I painted it a pearl white and then used a stencil brush to lightly bring the details out with black paint
  • The lamp was another steal from OTP for $12- Lamp and Shade
  • I had to buy the plate holder, but my SIL bought the plate for me last Christmas. It's a white and off white damask print - so cute!

It's still a work in progress, but I'm definitely staying on budget!

All under $5

You may remember this little piece... it was under $2 at the thrift store. I sprayed it black and filled it with fake fruit.
This is one of my entertaining pieces. I usually just have apples and pears on it, but I found a package of assorted fall items. All for $5 at Walmart. I even used the raffia ribbon on the top. I live the berries and pine cones.
This is an existing lamp, but I found the shade for $3 at OTP. I think it's a great way to change the look of the room from just a bland white shade.
This little grouping sits above my TV Armoire. My MIL found the Armoire ($70) for me at a local second hand store. I painted it from an antique white to black. To top the area I used an existing frame Kolin had and added a piece of scrap booking paper. I found each of the candle holders for $2-3 at OTP and painted them various colors of black, champagne and bronze. I topped them with off white candles around the house.
I hope this inspires you to make small inexpensive changes around your house.

Homemade Burpies

I'm always looking for a quick homemade project. This past January I went a little crazy and made over a dozen burpies for our new niece. I took store-bought cloth diapers and added fabrics and ribbon to customize them. Grace had one to match each outfit. It was also a good thing because she was a... "happy spitter" as her mum mum says - she threw up constantly!
Now that more of our friends are expecting or recently had kids I thought I'd better start my supply again. This was the first time I've had my sewing machine out in the new house. As I browsed through the ribbon and fabric I had on hand I noticed a package of white handkerchiefs. Oh... the ideas... how about smaller versions of my custom burpies. I remember thinking the regular size ones were practically a blanket when Grace was a newborn. Here's what I did:


  • Iron and fold the hankies in 3
  • Sew the sides together so they don't come apart - 2 quick seams on each side
  • Select the ribbon/ fabric and sew it on both sides or just one. Make sure to sew along all the sides.

I've tried this with iron on hemming tape, but if you wash and dry them more than a few times it comes off in the dryer... Maybe I should iron it on first so it's in place, then sew it... OH I'm good!!! That's what I battle most in sewing these... they don't stay in place.

My grandma has an embroidery machine... if she was closer I would have her add initials or other embelishments.

I also found this idea for a fabric basket I want to try: http://perpetualplum.wordpress.com/2008/02/16/building-a-basket-using-vintage-fabrics-and-grommets/

Good luck making some for the new additions in your life!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Small Town Living

Some of you know that I am truly a suburban girl, but the man of my dreams convinced me to move to a "rural" location. This transition has taken some time and continues to test my adaptability. I will tell you there are some great benefits of living in a small town:
  • It has taught me to control my road rage... otherwise I will see that person at church on Sunday
  • I now know that the corn is not dying, but is feed corn and it has to dry out/ die before it is harvested... or something like that.
  • We only have one neighbor
  • When I was younger I would just throw anything on (Pajama Pants..eekk) to run to the store. My mother would of course yell about it but... now if I do that it will be in the newspaper. Delivered twice a week :)
  • I have been taught to wave at everyone when driving... even the police officer
  • The graphic designer at work also doubles as a beef and chicken farmer

We recently started purchasing local meat. First we started with part of a cow that is certified Humane and essentially organic, then we bought 1/2 a pig and now I'm buying fresh organic brown eggs. I have to tell you there is a difference!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Some great deals!! not from the thrift store...

Can you believe it... I have some deals from real stores... We've been in need for a new vacuum for a while now and with 3 sets of stairs I wanted a lightweight vacuum. We decided on an Oreck - the 8lb wonder. Kolin researched a teacher discount for $100 off if we turn in our old vacuum. Then my mom said she wanted to contribute to our vacuum fund for both of our birthdays. That did it - the search was on!
I have found that JCPenney runs a "daily deal" each day on their website. It is an exceptional deal 60-80% off some days on a select item. I got my bedroom curtains and roman shades on this deal. Now I'm addicted to see what deal is available everyday. Yet, I did not find my vacuum on the daily deal. I found it in the Outlet Section.
I was able to get the extended life Oreck AND canister attachment AND cordless iron... all for $179.00 (Original Price:$399). I just checked the website again and can't find the deal on their outlet anymore.
My other great deal was 60% off because I hosted a Pampered Chef party in July. These stainless steal mixing bowls with lids (no more saran rap) are originally $74.50, but I got them for only $29.80. They are dishwasher, fridge and freezer safe. They also have a rubber bottom so they don't move around on the counter. Can you tell I'm excited about them!!!
Good luck finding your deals!!

Monday, September 7, 2009

All things handmade... ETSY

Most of you probably know about ETSY, but for those of you that don't I'd love to introduce you. The website http://www.etsy.com/ is a site for all of us crazy about crafts and home decor to buy AND sell. If first heard about ETSY because a dear friend of mine sold cards on the site.
There are great search features, just type a few key words to get started. Once you find something you like make sure to view all the other items the seller has - I bet you'll like those too! You can even buy supplies like fabric, ribbon, buttons, etc... I get so excited thinking about it!!!
This is definitely a place I go for inspiration and for things I can't figure out how to make... I hope you enjoy this site as much as me :)

I never have buttermilk... Banana Bread

I always have bananas around the kitchen. If they just so happen to be "rotten" on the weekend they usually get turned into banana pancakes (if I just have one) or banana bread/ muffins if I have 2+. Kolin would rather I make banana cake...
This weekend I was ready to make banana bread. I got out my trusted Betty Crocker cookbook and quickly scrolled down the ingredient list... buttermilk... who has buttermilk?? I know you can make buttermilk by adding lemon juice or white vinegar... but I thought this is a great time to get creative. I have an extra carton of blueberry yogurt! These could be banana blueberry!!
They worked out great!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Summer's Almost Gone... Strawberry Poke Cake

Step 1: 1 White Cake Mix - make as directed on box, allow to cool. Step 2: Poke holes in the cake Step 3: Take a 3oz box of jello, mix 1 cup boiling water and 1/2 cup cold water. Allow to cool a few minutes in the fridge. Step 4: Pour Jello over the cake Step 5: Top with whip topping and fresh strawberries and cool in the fridge for 3-4 hours before serving.

Hearty Breakfast Cookie

1/2 cup butter, softened 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar 1 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional) 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour 3 cups Cheerios 1 cups rolled oats 1 cup chocolate chips
Directions 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl beat butter and peanut butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar, cinnamon (if using), baking soda, and salt. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the flours as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour. Stir in rolled oats, chocolate chips, and Cheerios.
2. Drop dough by 1/4 cup mounds 3 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Flatten mounds to about 1/2-inch thick. Bake for 11 to 13 minutes or until edges are lightly browned and centers are set. Cool on cookie sheet 2 minutes. Transfer to wire racks and let cool.