Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ikea Finds

I've been itching to make a trip to Ikea for quite some time now. I have been in an organizing kind of mood lately and thought why not Ikea. I get so much inspiration from their rooms and the prices are fantastic.

The main reason for a trip to Ikea was to get something for my son's room to organize and house his various game systems, etc. I installed a behind the door rack to hold all of his video games, dvd's and cd's so those were taken care of. But, all of his controllers and accessories were littered all over his floor.

And look...we found this really cool locker storage unit that just happens to go with his red and blue sports themed room. It looks so awesome in there. I may even get a matching end table.




I bought this mirror to go over my daughter's bed. I recently re-did her room in sort of a beachy theme and have been looking for something to go over her bed that worked with the style but did not limit us to it either. I thought this fit the bill perfectly. And for $19.99 it was a bargain. :)




I was able to pick up some kitchen items to help with storage. I am constantly looking for ways to keep things in their place. I loathe clutter. This is what I came up with from this trip.

I got a couple of these to hold wheat germ and flax seed.




This will hold my stash of tea bags and go in my pantry.




To round things out I got some more wooden skirt hangers so I finally have all my skirts hung up neatly in my closet. They were only 99 cents each! I should have bought more. Spring is just around the corner and I just might add to my skirt collection. You never know. LOL!

And I got a new wooden cutting board. It is huge and has a groove all around to catch the juices that overflow from the meat when you cut it. It was only $9.99.

So, all in all, it was a successful trip to Ikea. All that's left is to get some glass storage containers for my suger and flour to put on my countertop. I wasn't in love with anything they had to offer. I guess a trip to HomeGoods or The Container Store is in my near future. ;)

Hash Brown Quiche



Hash Brown Quiche (perfect for New Year's Day)

adapted from a Paula Deen recipe

makes 2 (9-inch) quiches

8 cups refrigerated hash browns
1 stick butter, melted
8 large eggs
2 cups half and half
1 1/2 cups diced ham
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

In a large bowl, toss the hash browns with the melted butter. Place half of the hash browns in each of the 2 (9-inch) pie plates and press them into the bottom and up the sides plates to form a crust. Bake for 25 - 35 minutes or until golden brown and starting to get crispy. Remove from oven and set aside. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Meanwhile, in the same bowl, add the remaining ingredients and whisk to combine. Divide evenly between the browned hash brown crusts. Return to oven and bake for about 20 - 25 minutes or until the eggs are just set. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes before cutting into wedges to serve

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

LOVED this one too...

I've been into books about Yankees acclimating to life in small-town Georgia. Wonder if it's a premonition? ;)



Description:

The delightful New York Times bestselling author returns with a hilarious novel about one woman's quest to redo an old house . . . and her life.

After her boss in a high-powered Washington public relations firm is caught in a political scandal, fledgling lobbyist Dempsey Jo Killebrew is left almost broke, unemployed, and homeless. Out of options, she reluctantly accepts her father's offer to help refurbish Birdsong, the old family place he recently inherited in Guthrie, Georgia. All it will take, he tells her, is a little paint and some TLC to turn the fading Victorian mansion into a real-estate cash cow.

But, oh, is Dempsey in for a surprise when she arrives in Guthrie. "Bird Droppings" would more aptly describe the moldering Pepto Bismol–pink dump with duct-taped windows and a driveway full of junk. There's also a murderously grumpy old lady, one of Dempsey's distant relations, who has claimed squatter's rights and isn't moving out. Ever.

Furthermore, everyone in Guthrie seems to know Dempsey's business, from a smooth-talking real-estate agent to a cute lawyer who owns the local newspaper. It wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for the pesky FBI agents who show up on Dempsey's doorstep, hoping to pry information about her ex-boss from her.

All Dempsey can do is roll up her sleeves and get to work. And before long, what started as a job of necessity somehow becomes a labor of love and, ultimately, a journey that takes her to a place she never expected—back home again.

Been Reading ...

a lot lately. I devoured this book in just over 24 hours. It was that good! Go read it!



Here's what it's all about:

Margaret Pinaldi is the quiet daughter of a hell-raising abortion-rights advocate who recently died - bequeathing Margaret a house in Georgia. Finally free from her mother's demanding presence, this transplanted Yankee is finding herself for the first time, courtesy of the Deep South. And, much to her surprise, she likes it.

A former International Dogwood Festival Queen, Donna Kabel once had cute male suitors chase her like hounds to the fox. But all that changed after a car accident left her with a huge facial scar. Now Donna works in the produce section of Kroger. But it seems that the scar that could have cost Donna her inner strength has actually spurred her to reinvent herself.

Thirty-four-year-old Suzanne Parley, the chardonnay-alcoholic wife of a fifth-generation Selby neurosurgeon named Boone, longs to have the most exquisitely decorated house in the affluent Red Hill Plantation community. Childless and directionless, Suzanne suddenly comes up with a bold plan to make her bored husband love her again: She'll simply fake a pregnancy.

On the eve of this year's all-important Dogwood Festival, the disparate lives of these three women will converge in a brilliant comedy of Southern manners like none other. With this funny and poignant novel, Ad Hudler joins Fannie Flagg and Adriana Trigiani as one of our best chroniclers of Southern life.

Fall Ball

This year Dylan decided to play fall baseball. He usually only plays spring baseball as he plays soccer in the fall. But not this year.

He is on the Indians with quite a few kids he knows. He has Coach Lipksi again. He makes the game fun for the boys.

This season Dylan has been working on his hitting. He even goes to the batting cages for extra practice. He is still looking for that big hit. Wish him luck! ;)

We've also been hit by a ton of rainouts this season. It seems that we are off more than we are on. :( We only have 2 weeks left. Hoping for a dry and mild next 2 weeks. :)

Here are some pictures of our season...

Dylan in his Cleveland Indians uniform. :)




Waiting for the pitch. He eventually walked that at bat.




Standing on 3rd right before scoring a run. :)

I Love Halloween!

I love halloween. I love making special treats. I love decorating the house and picking out costumes with the kiddos. It's such a fun time.

This year the weather somewhat cooperated. It was warm and misty most of the night. It started to rain pretty hard towards the end of the night. :(

My award for the best costume goes to these 2 adorable 12 or 13 yr old boys who dressed up as girls. They were wearing dresses and wigs and makeup and talked like girls. I wish I had something special to give to them. They deserved it. I just gave them extra candy. ;)

Here are some pictures of our Halloween.

Dylan was some scary creature. All the boys were wearing some sort of masked scary looking costume.




Natty was a pirate girl. Lucky for her it was 73 degrees outside. :)




Tombstone Brownies. YUM!




My cute little white chocolate mummy lollipops. :)



Until next year. :)

Friday, September 04, 2009

Brown Sugar Cake

Gram's Best Brown Sugar Cake



I made this last night and it was sooo good. I even messed up and put in 3/4 cup of sour cream instead of 2/3 cup and it was still DELICIOUS! Enjoy!

Ingredients

1 pkg. (2-layer size) yellow cake mix 1 pkg.
3.4 oz.) JELL-O Vanilla Flavor Instant Pudding
4 eggs
2/3 cup BREAKSTONE'S or KNUDSEN Sour Cream
2/3 cup water
1/2 cup oil
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup chopped PLANTERS Pecans
2 tsp. powdered sugar

Directions

HEAT oven to 350ºF.

BEAT first 6 ingredients with mixer 3 min. or until well blended. Add brown sugar and nuts; mix well.

POUR into 12-cup fluted tube pan or 10-inch tube pan sprayed with cooking spray.

BAKE 1 hour or until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool cake in pan 15 min. Loosen cake from sides of pan; invert onto wire rack. Remove pan; cool cake completely. Sprinkle with powdered sugar just before serving.
Kraft Kitchens TipsSize-WiseYou'll know it is a special occasion when this cake is served at a party or family gathering. It's guaranteed to be a crowd pleaser!Special ExtraSprinkle pan with combined 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar and 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon after spraying with cooking spray. Then fill with batter and bake as directed.

Chipotle Chiles in Adobo Sauce

I am on a chipotle chili kick this week. I made the following 2 recipes courtesy of Everyday Food and they were instant hits! If you've never had them before they are smoky and spicy without being too hot. They add a unique flavor to recipes. Give them a try. You won't be dissappointe.

Chipotle Chicken and Rice


Ingredients
Makes 4 servings
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 2 pounds total)
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced lengthwise
3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo, minced
2 large tomatoes, diced large
1 cup long-grain white rice
Lime wedges, for serving
Chopped cilantro leaves, for serving (optional)

Directions

1.In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat oil over medium-high. Season chicken on both sides with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Working in batches, brown chicken on both sides, about 6 minutes total; transfer to a plate.

2.Reduce heat to medium. Add onion and saute until soft, about 5 minutes, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of pot (if necessary, add a bit of water to release browned bits).

3.Add garlic, cumin, and chiles; cook until garlic is soft and fragrant, 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and 1 teaspoon salt and cook until tomatoes begin to break down and release their juices, 3 minutes. Stir in 1 cup water and return chicken and any accumulated juices to pot. Cover, reduce to a simmer, and cook 25 minutes.

4.Remove several pieces of chicken and stir in rice, making sure it is completely submerged in liquid. Replace chicken, cover, and cook until rice is tender and liquid has been absorbed, 25 to 30 minutes more. Serve with lime wedges and cilantro if desired.

Southwestern Steak Salad


Ingredients
Makes 4 servings
1 pound skirt steak (1/2 inch thick), trimmed
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 hearts romaine lettuce, torn
1 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled, and diced
1/2 English cucumber, peeled and diced small
6 small tomatoes, cut into wedges
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 to 2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo, minced
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons honey
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil


Directions

1.Heat a large skillet over medium-high; cut steak into 4 pieces and season with salt and pepper. Cook 2 1/2 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer to a plate and cover loosely with foil. Let rest 5 minutes, then thinly slice.

2.Meanwhile, in a large bowl, toss together lettuce, avocado, cucumber, tomatoes, onion, teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.

3.In a small bowl, combine chile, lime juice, honey, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and a pinch of pepper. Gradually whisk in oil and any accumulated juices from steak. Pour dressing over salad and toss; add steak and toss again. This dressing was unbelievable good. So good I want to bottle it up.

I hope I've inspired you to try chipotle chiles. Let me know what you think.

Fall has arrived

in my house at least. I know the calendar says it is still summer. And no one more than I wishes it could stay summer forever but with school/work starting next week, I needed to get this done now. If I wait too long, then we get busy with school/sports/work, etc. that I end up decorating for fall for like a week. LOL! This is what I got so far.

This is my entry hall table. I am not in love with this display. I think I may have to take off some family photos and add some more fallish type stuff. WDYT?



This is my sofa table in the family room. That acorn was a dollar store find. I usually put fall wrapped candy in there. :)



I got these adorable little owls from Yankee Candle. The big one holds a votive candle and the small one holds a tealight.



Close up of my dollar store pumpkins. Good Lord I love the dollar store. :)


I still have to take a picture of my mantle. I'm still undecided about what I did up there.

Have you decorated for fall yet?

Thursday, September 03, 2009

I need your help!



I interupt editing and posting of vacation photos for some home decorating help. We are in the middle of sprucing up our kitchen and need help choosing a paint color.

The colors in descending order are:

Crowne Hill Yellow
Semolina
Yellow Raincoat

Our cabinets are white with stainless hardware. We have bluish/grey countertops and all stainless steel appliances. The kitchen and eat in area open up to our family room which is painted a lovely shade of green called Rosemary Sprig. The entry way is a neutral color called Monroe Bisque.

We all like different colors. I like the top one in the daylight but the middle one at night when the lights are on. Natalie likes Semolina no matter what time of day. Dylan likes Yellow Raincoat and Crowne Hill Yellow. Stew likes the top 2 and not Yellow Raincoat.

What's a girl to do!? The painters are going to want to know what color to buy any day now and I really need your help.

So what do you think?

Thanks!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Some Beach Shots

As promised. Just another day at the beach. I have so many more to go thru. This is just a teaser.



My Mom and Aunt Phyllis with Dylan.


Building something...



I really could never tire of the beach. I hope my kids don't either.

Spur of the Moment Trip to the Lake




On the spur of the moment the kiddos and I took a trip to a local state park where they have a lake and a "beach." Having just gotten back from a month across the street from the Atlantic, I was already going thru water withdrawals. Since we are pretty landlocked here, we went to the next best thing...the lake.

We packed pb&j sandwiches, grapes, carrots & cookies and off we went. It only took 20 minutes to get there. And for $7.00 per car, it was a bargain for sure. We stayed for about 3 hours and had a ball.

I parked myself next to the lifeguard tower and off they went. They swam and played in the sand while I just sat back and watched and read a magazine or two.



Here they were making a lake away from the lake. I'm pretty sure Natalie was telling Dylan to stop whatever it was he was doing as it was messing up the scene. LOL!!



The lake is actually very large. They rope off a small section for swimmers and call it the beach. So after a while, the kiddos and I took a walk along the lake. Of course I had my camera in tow and I took a couple of shots.




And here they are just before leaving. What a great spur of the moment decision. We had a blast at the lake.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Back from a month at the beach

and I came home totally obsessed with Kings of Leon and this song!!!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JCZfJ5ai07U

They ROCK!!!!!!!!!

I'll be back later in the week with tons of photos from our trip. But for now enjoy the song. :)

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Natalie's 9th Birthday

For Natalie's 9th birthday, she didn't want a big party with lots of people. She just wanted to do something special with her best friend, Caroline. She decided on the local carnival. So that's what we did. We picked up Caroline and off we went to the Yorktown Heights Fireman's Carnival. They rode rides until they got hungry.
Then we took them to Okinawa an Hibachi restaurant for dinner and to Friendly's for sundaes. It was a great day! Here are some pictures from the day.

Waiting in line...



I think this one was called the Whirly Gig. This was Natty and Caroline right before the ride started. When it was over Caroline requested a tamer ride. LOL! She looked a little green...poor thing.



On the swing ride. :)



In the Tilt-A-Whirl. I love that ride. :)

Freezer Jam

Since we had just gone strawberry picking, I came up with the idea to give homemade strawberry jam to everyone as their party favor at Natalie's birthday. Natalie mashed all the berries while I cooked the pectin. I filled the jars and she sealed them up. It was a total team effort.

Everyone got 2 of these cute little jars.



Here is the recipe I used. Pretty easy. Anyone can do it. :)

NO - COOK STRAWBERRY FREEZER JAM

4 c. ripe strawberries
4 c. granulated sugar
1 box Sure-Jell powdered pectin
3/4 c. water

Wash and hull the berries; crush them completely, a few at a time. (Should end up with 2 cups.) In large bowl, mix together the berries and sugar. Let stand 10 minutes. Combine pectin and water in saucepan. Bring to boil; boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir hot pectin into the fruit bowl; continue stirring. Don't worry if sugar is not completely dissolved. Ladle jam into freezer containers. Put lids on immediately. Let stand at room temperature 24 hours or until set. Refrigerate for a few weeks or freeze for up to a year.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Cornbread Muffins


Since we got our Big Green Egg, my husband has been a grilling fool. I am always on the lookout for some good sides for BBQ'd ribs and brisket, etc. These will do very nicely. :)

Honey Cornbread Muffins
Recipe courtesy The Neelys

Prep Time:10 min
Cook Time:15 min
Level: Easy
Serves: 12 muffins.

Ingredients
•1 cup yellow cornmeal
•1 cup all-purpose flour
•1 tablespoon baking powder
•1/2 cup granulated sugar
•1 teaspoon salt
•1 cup whole milk
•2 large eggs
•1/2 stick butter, melted
•1/4 cup honey
•Special equipment: paper muffin cups and a 12-cup muffin tin

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Into a large bowl, mix the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the whole milk, eggs, butter, and honey. Add the wet to the dry ingredients and stir until just mixed.

Place muffin paper liners in a 12-cup muffin tin. Evenly divide the cornbread mixture into the papers. Bake for 15 minutes, until golden.

Num Yummy!


We eat a lot, and I do mean a lot, of chicken in my house almost as much as we eat pasta. So when I saw this recipe on the food network, I knew I would have to try it. :)

Italian Baked Chicken and Pastina
Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis

Prep Time:15 min
Inactive Prep Time:hr min
Cook Time:40 min
Level:Easy

Serves: 4 servings.

Ingredients
•1 cup pastina pasta (or any small pasta)
•2 tablespoons olive oil
•1/2 cup cubed chicken breast (1-inch cubes)
•1/2 cup diced onion (about 1/2 a small onion)
•1 clove garlic, minced
•1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
•1 cup shredded mozzarella
•1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
•1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
•1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
•1/4 cup bread crumbs
•1/4 cup grated Parmesan
•1 tablespoon butter, plus more for buttering the baking dish


Directions
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until just tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Drain pasta into a large mixing bowl.

Meanwhile, put the olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook for 3 minutes. Add the onions and garlic, stirring to combine, and cook until the onions are soft and the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes more. Put the chicken mixture into the bowl with the cooked pasta. Add the canned tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, parsley, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine. Place the mixture in a buttered 8 by 8 by 2-inch baking dish. In a small bowl mix together the bread crumbs and the Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle over the top of the pasta mixture. Dot the top with small bits of butter. Bake until the top is golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Over

Baseball season is over. Dylan's team lost their playoff game last night 6-5 and were eliminated. It was an exciting season and I am sad to see it end.

Dylan mostly played left field where we watched him grow. By the end of the season he was catching balls like a pro. :)



At the end of the season, every boy gets a trophy. Here's my little man with his.




Even though the season is over, there will still be plenty of baseball for us. Dylan will be attending summer baseball camp and has opted to play in the fall instead of soccer.

Thanks to Coach Dom for a great season!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Natalie

 
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Dylan

 
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Strawberry Picking






We found our new favorite place to pick your own. It's called Jones Farm and it's in Shelton, CT. They had thee most gorgeous strawberries. They were sweet too.

And they have their own winery right down the road. So, Stew and I did a wine tasting after we picked some berries. I fell in love with a stawberry wine...YUM! SO much so that we bought two bottles of it. ;)

We plan to go back in July for blueberry season. :)