Wednesday, December 30, 2009


I am still feeling SO very unwell, so for now, posting will remain scarce. I've got my confirmed due date now...August 12th! So hopefully I'm only a month or so away from feeling MUCH better! (PLEASE keep your fingers crossed for me!)

Miss my blog... :( **sigh**

"I'll be back...don't ya worry" (Quote from an old video game I used to be BIG into! Whatever happened to Oddworld games...they were my FAVE!)

Anywho...miss ya!

Friday, December 18, 2009

SURPRISE!!'s time to spill the beans. (Better late than never, right?)

So the big news IS...

We're having a BABY!

That's right...the man (Adam) and I are expecting our first child together!!! :) It was definitely an unexpected surprise, but we're happy and excited to be having our first (and LAST) baby together. If you're a regular reader, you'll remember that I currently have three sons and he has one daughter, so this will be our full house. NO MORE! LOL! you maybe understand why I've been scarce with my posting. I've been SO sick and's hard to motivate myself to do much of anything. But once I'm through this stage, I'm sure I'll be back posting full force! And you can fully expect more "parenting" focused posts, due to that consuming a lot of my mind lately!

So anyway, SURPRISE! Now you know!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

DIY Rustic Santa and Snowmen Ornaments

It's DIY day at ASPTL! Linking up...check it out!


I made these a couple years back and they are one of my favorites on our tree...which is generally a hodge podge of ornaments we've collected over the years, ornaments we've made, and ornaments from the kiddos. I used to love the idea of a classy "themed" tree, but you know...Christmas is so much about family for me...I love our tree just how it is.

Rustic Snowmen and Santa Ornaments

You need:

Sticks (or Dowels) cut into approx. 3 inch pieces
Acrylic Paint
A drill with a fine drill bit
Ornament Hangers
Paint Marker

So...I used sticks I collected from the yard, but you could just as easily use dowels. If you use sticks, use a knife or razor blade to scrape the bark off. (Also, rather than doing a clean cut, because I used sticks, I snapped them off for a rougher edge and a more "rustic" look.)

Next, drill a hole in the in one end of each stick...this will be wear you put the ornament hanger through later.

Next, get your acrylic paint...I used white on the bottoms and black on the top for the snowmen, and red with a peach "face" and white beard for the Santa. When these dried, I used the paint markers to add the details. You could easily do this with a small paint brush if you are so inclined.

Once everything is dry, add the hangers. I used the the larger end of the hooks...the end you'd normally use to go over the branch, and slide it through the hole you drilled, twist it around and finish it. Then open up the smaller hook end to use for hanging on your tree.

TADA! A little bit rustic...a little bit country...and lots of charm and fun! :)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Jenn's MUST HAVES...2009!

It's that time of year again! I want to share a list of some of my favorite things from the past year...maybe you'll find something you too, MUST HAVE! This year, my list is mostly simple things...items for around the house, but every single one of them is great!

Without further ado...


Palmolive Aroma Sensations lavender dish soap.
I LOVE this stuff! Don't get me wrong...I am so very anxious for my dishwasher to be installed, but in the meantime, this soap smells so wonderful and rinses clean. Plus, it's not too harsh on my hands. I'm a big fan!

Dial "White Tea" scent Foaming Handwash. This is a completely clear bottle and soap so it looks great, and the foaming action makes my boys EXCITED to wash their hands. Plus it smells delish!

Blistex Herbal Answer chapstick. Easily my fave chapstick EVER! Trust me!

I know this next item isn't new to some people, but I recently upgraded from Adobe Photoshop 7 to Adobe Photoshop CS3 and I'm in heaven. For the layout changes alone, it was worth the upgrade! I recommend it! Check out for details!

Have you heard about music available under the Creative Commons license?
You MUST check this out! It's free and legal downloads made available by artists who believe in sharing music with the masses. FANTASTIC!

REDBOX! Oooo...I love me some Redbox!!! $1 DVD rentals?? Yes, please! LOVE it!

Still to come...JENN'S MOST WANTED LIST for 2010!!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Holiday Recipe Round-Up

We do so much cooking and baking...really all year round, but especially during the holidays. I want to share some of my very favorite holiday recipes with you. They might not necessarily seem "holiday themed" but they're Christmas tradition around here, so to me, they do!

Cheesy Rice Stuffing is the perfect stuffing for Cornish Game Hens, but I especially love mine as a side dish with ham at Christmas. SO yummy!

P'nut Cakes are a family Grandma makes them every Christmas, and always snuck me a couple extra to take home. They're sweet and crunchy and messy, sticky perfection!

Homemade Hot Chocolate is always a delicious treat after playing outside with the kids or shoveling the driveway. We also LOVE to make this mix every Christmas and give it as Christmas gifts to teachers, co-workers and friends.

My step-mom used to bake up a storm at Christmas and my FAVE was always her Peanut Butter Cups...salty peanut butter makes these so delicious and so much like the real deal!

In the past I've participated in programs that donate cookies to be sent to troops overseas. These Monster Cookies are PERFECT for something like that, because this recipe is HUGE! My kids LOVE these! They're always a hit!

I hope you find some recipes your family can use...have a great holiday!

Cheesy Rice Stuffing

1/2 stick butter
1/3 c. Rice
1/2 c. chopped onion
1/3 c. Chicken Broth
1 can mushrooms
1 c. shredded cheddar

1. In a sauce pan, melt butter. Add rice and onion and cook 5-10 minutes stirring frequently. Add broth and bring to a boil.
2. Cover and simmer on low until liquid is absorbed. Stir in mushrooms -- Cool.
3. Toss in cheese. Cover with foil and bake at 400 for 25 minutes.

Grandma's P'Nut Cakes

1 Yellow Cake Mix
1 lb. Salted Spanish Peanuts - coarsely ground
1 lb. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
Melted Butter

1. Bake cake according to box directions. Let cool for about four hours and then cut into squares.
2. Add milk to powdered sugar until a consistency of runny frosting is reached. Add vanilla and a little melted butter.
3. Drip all sides of cake in glaze and then roll into ground peanuts. Place on waxed paper to set.

Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix

1 - 2 lb. box/canister Nestle's Quik
1 - 8 qt. box Carnation powdered milk
1 (16 oz.) jar Coffee Mate
1 c. Powdered Sugar

1. Mix all ingredients well in a large bowl.
2. Store in airtight containers.
3. To serve, use 1/3 c. mix to 1 c. boiling water.

Peanut Butter Cups

12 oz. pkg. chocolate chips (milk chocolate, not semi-sweet)
1 c. creamy peanut butter
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/4 tsp. salt

1. Cut 12 paper muffin cups in half so they are shallow and place them in a muffin tin.
2. Melt chocolate chips in the microwave, stirring regularly.
3. Spoon chocolate into the paper cups, and use the back of the spoon to spread chocolate up the sides of the liner to create the "shell". Refrigerate to harden the chocolate.
4. Microwave peanut butter slightly to soften. Mix in powdered sugar and salt.
5. When chocolate is hardened fill cups to just below the top with peanut butter mixture.
6. Spread chocolate on top to finish off the peanut butter cup.
7. Return to the fridge to set.

Monster Cookies

(If you don't want TONS of cookies, make sure to cut this recipe either in half or in fourths!)

4 c. sugar
18 c. oatmeal
4-1/2 c. brown sugar
6 c. peanut butter
2 Tbsp. corn syrup
1 lb. butter
8 tsp. baking soda
4 tsp. vanilla
1 dozen eggs
2 - 16 oz. packages chocolate chips
2 - 8 oz. bags M&Ms

1. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and beat.
2. Add the remaining ingredients.
3. Drop by spoonful onto baking sheets and bake at 325-350 for 12-15 minutes.

Stop back tomorrow for JENN'S MUST HAVES OF 2009 and JENN'S WISH LIST FOR 2010!

Oh...and I'm linking this post up at the DIY Show Off Surprise Party! They're holding a holiday recipe linky party...perfect timing for me! Stop by and check out the other yummy holiday treats!!


So sometimes, even the BEST of intentions go awry...sometimes even the MOST calculated plans stray...sometimes Mother Nature dumps over a foot of snow on you and you're forced to go with the flow. will be posted soon...but BIG SURPRISE THURSDAY, is now BIG SURPRISE NEXT WEDNESDAY. Believe me when I say I am just as stressed about the delay as you (probably more in all honesty). Due to the inclement weather, my days/appointments/life got shuffled, and now you're going to have to be patient until next Wednesday for the exciting new. I am SORRY!

BUT, in hopes of making it up to you, I plan to post every day until then...just to keep things exciting and moving along. So...let me type up the rest of my recipe post and get that up tonight. Then hopefully we will stick to the remainder of the schedule.

No worries folks...the big surprise is worth the wait! :)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I know...I know...

I'm the most ABSENT blogger EVER! But I have a good reason...I promise!

I've got a big surprise coming SOON! And lots of changes taking place...

Some lists to share, some homemade ornaments, recipes, projects, etc. I've been me there!

This weeks blog schedule:

WEDNESDAY: RECIPE POST...I will share some of my favorite holiday recipes...tried and true...gotta love it!


FRIDAY: JENN'S MUST HAVES 2009 Edition (Check out last year's list here!)

SATURDAY: Homemade Christmas Ornaments...DIY and How-To!

SUNDAY: Christmas Tree Reveal...and MAYBE a sneak peek at how our new bedroom is coming along!

MONDAY: Another BIG excited!

Sooo...STAY TUNED! Lots of stuff happening soon! :)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Tradition, Tips, Tricks and a Recipe

So, Thanksgiving and I have had a secret (or not so secret) love affair going on for the past 6 years or so. Turkey Day and X-mas run a head-to-head constant competition for my affection, and Thanksgiving just might have the edge.

I made my first Thanksgiving dinner the year I moved to Delaware with my (now ex-) husband. It was delicious. I was hooked. I have since continued with successful dinners (with the exception of the infamous oven fire of ’05!! Story in a minute…) and wanted to share some tips and a fave recipe of mine!

When I divorced and moved back to Wisconsin (home), I wanted to make my own dinner, but my family was NOT planning on showing up. They go to Grandmas’ every year and that is just that. Fine. I don’t want to miss out on that either, so I go to Grandma’s on Thursday (and then to the man’s Aunts house in the evening…yep! TWO Dinners…yummy!)

Then FRIDAY after Black Friday shopping, I come home and make “The Day after Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving!” Some might call me nuts…why go through the work if I don’t have to?? But, I love everything about this holiday. I love the food, the smells, the colors, the time spent with family, the reminder to be thankful for your life…ahhh…Thanksgiving rocks my socks! And I adore our yearly tradition of spending a day with family, and then spending the next day with friends enjoying good food and each other's company!

So, on that note, I am going to share a couple tried and true Thanksgiving recipes, tips and tricks. But first…the oven fire.

November of 2005...I was up early and a cooking fool all day long. I had everything timed out so that our HUGE dinner would be done at of my better “skills” in cooking is timing out my stuff to all get done at the same time, and let me tell ya...I was ON!

We were bringing dinner over to the local church to eat with a bunch of friends. The kids were dressed and ready to go, the ex was bringing food out to the car, and I was finishing up in the kitchen...RIGHT ON TIME.

I pulled the rolls out of the oven...moved the sweet potatoes up to the top rack and set the oven to broil to brown the marshmallow stuff on top. As I'm tossing rolls in a basket, I smell burning marshmallow...ohhhh no!

I open the oven and I kid you not, my entire effing oven was ablaze. I about peed myself. I run out the door and yell for the ex to “COME BACK REALLY FAST" (LOL…I didn't want to scream "FIRE!!!!!!!" across the parking lot…) I remember him saying he could hear the panic in my voice.

He runs up, slams the oven door shut...I'm screaming that I already tried that...Luc's at the gate to the kitchen going "Oooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" and pointing …it was bad. Ex grabbed the fire extinguisher, and emptied the WHOLE THING into the oven.

(As a side note, my grandpa would be so disappointed in me...before he retired he worked for Ansul (Tyco) Corp. traveling all over the world teaching businesses how to use different types of fire extinguishers. He taught us what to do when we were little kids, and like a total d-bag, I did nothing. I got a box of baking soda from him for Christmas that year…LMAO!)

So anyway, I later realized what happened…I was using throw away pans...they've oven safe...but they're CARDBOARD!!!!! Broiler lights the cardboard on fire, which lights the sweet potatoes on fire, which must’ve lit the coils on fire…and the rest is history. The oven was destroyed by the way. Super bummer.


TIP #1…if you’re using disposable pans, ONLY USE ALUMINUM! (OR…read the directions and don’t stick the cardboard pans under the broiler…whichever!)

TIP #2…Do you struggle to bake a perfectly golden turkey like you see in movies and on commercials? I am going to describe my turkey baking process to you. It hasn’t failed me yet, and I have yet to have a single Thanksgiving without people raving about my Turkey...both how it looks and how moist it stays.

Clean the turkey (I use a 20+ lb-er, for the record), don’t stuff it, put it in the pan, and brush it with an entire stick of melted butter. Bake per package directions, basting as you go. I KNOW…I know some people say not to baste...that it's "unneccessary". Well, “Some People” have not tried MY turkey. Baste it…often.

When the top starts to brown, tent it with aluminum foil until it’s done. After you take it out of the oven, let it sit a good 15-20 minutes before carving it. You won’t be sorry. :)

TIP #3…Get someone else to do the dishes! ;)

And, as promised, a recipe I LOVE.

I got this from a photographer friend and I make it every year...


1 package Uncle Ben’s Wild & Long Grain Rice (Original…not Quick)
2 Tbsp. Butter
½ cup Chopped Onion
½ lb. Bulk Pork Sausage – Cooked

1. Saute your rice in butter until the white rice turns light brown. Remove from pan.
2. Saute your onion in the pan until soft.
3. Stir in the seasoning packet from the rice, the browned rice and boiling water according to package directions, as well as the cooked sausage.
4. Pour into a baking dish and bake at covered at 350 for 45 minutes. You can then either use it as a stuffing (which I’ve never tried) or serve it as a side dish.

SO yummy! I hope every one of my readers has a beautiful holiday! I'll be back posting Friday or Saturday!!

See you then,


Christmas Wreaths - DIY

I am finally posting the two wreath projects I promised. I have one more in the works...hopefully I can work on it over this long weekend!

This first one I saw on several blogs, but the instructions for most originated from Eddie Ross. I must was harder than I thought. I super glued all the tops on these christmas ball ornaments (all from Dollar Tree). I managed to completely cover myself in glitter...couch too...I looked like Tinkerbell threw up pixie dust all over me. It was lovely.
I bent the hanger into a what LOOKED like a circle (until I had it filled with bulbs and then realized otherwise...meh!), strung the bulbs on, bunched them together and then screamed and (almost) cried and fought with this thing to get it closed at the top.
I finally just did some "creative wrapping" (ha)with some wire edge ribbon. Don't hate me. I was about it throw the wreath...LOL! It will stay this way for this year, but after I take it down, the bow is coming off and I'm gonna let the man close it up with some sort of tool and snip the "hook" part of the hanger off for me. (And for what it's worth, that cluster of silver ornaments on the one side drives me CRAZY but I'm NOT fixing doesn't have to be perfect...or so I keep trying to convince myself!)

Inspiration for my other Christmas wreath came from AnNicole at Our Suburban Cottage. She fell in love with a pretty Pottery Barn wreath, but not so much in love with their price tag. She did a FANTASTIC knock-off, which inspired me to revamp an old wreath I had. I wish I would've taken a before picture of was T-A-C-K-Y!! Seriously.
I put this wreath together in about five minutes, five years ago. I pulled EVERYTHING out of it, used some wire ornament hangers to wire some gold balls nestled into the branches, added in some sparkly berries for "filler" and DONE. SOOOO much have NO idea! (I only wish we would've made the time to paint our front door black over the summer, but...there's always next year!)

I am linking this post up at Kimba's DIY day...there is a TON of crafty goodness going on over there, so make sure you stop on by!!
Coming later today...tried and true Thanksgiving recipes and tips!!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

WREATHS coming up!!

I finished TWO of my three wreaths this weekend and I LOVE them. (Ok...honestly, I love one and like one...but whatever...)

Also, have some Thanksgiving recipes to share!!!

Gonna be a good week.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Exciting! Renovation Decision!

Well, the man and I decided to embark on our biggest reno. project yet!!! (Of course, we've still got to finish the kitchen, put trim up in the living room, redo the laundry room...etc. LOL!) BUT, we've made a decision and I am SO excited about the possibilities.

Up above our garage (which, while "attached" is separate from the house) there are two big, one small. The big room is currently my man's "den"'s smoky and houses a pool table and a small bar. There's not a lot of natural light, and it's generally chilly up there.

Well...we have decided to make the upstairs a MASTER BEDROOM, which will give his daughter and my oldest son their own rooms (the two little guys will continue to share)!!

There is SO much to be done before a move actually takes place. The slate pool table will have to come back DOWN the stairs. (Yikes!) We'll need to clean and clean and clean and SOMEHOW get the smoke smell out...(I seem to remember reading about some kind of primer that can cover that smell?? I'll have to do some googling.) I will want bigger windows than what is up there. There's a possibility we'll need to add that room to our house heating system (right now it's got a separate gas heater) which would mean closing off a doorway I opening up another doorway. The floors would need to be replaced. We'd eventually want to create a bathroom up there (possibly in the smaller room?) much possibility! I get giddy just thinking about it! I said, that is far off in the distance. We will, though, keep you updated on our progress!

I've got a fun project we've been working on to share soon, as well as a SUPER easy donut recipe I found out in blogland! Plus THREE wreath projects! YAY!


Monday, November 9, 2009

Choosing Your Battles

**aaaaahem....clearing throat and stepping up on soapbox**

So I went to my youngest sons Pre-K Parent Teacher conference last week. All is good, for the most part. He won't hold his pencil right...which is causing the difficulty he has with writing legibly...but we're working on it. :) He's friendly...he's quiet...he's a fan of routine...he is good at math and patterns...etc.

But something else she said stuck with me and while I've tried to brush it off, I can't stop thinking about it.

We were discussing his progress report and she mentioned how he has not shown much interest in coloring. I responded that he's never really been one to sit down and color in a coloring book...he finds it "putzy"...he prefers to be outdoors playing, or wrestling with his dogs, or helping me cook dinner. Her reply was "Well, that will change. We'll keep working with him and eventually he'll realize 'Hey! This isn't so bad'. We'll change his mind."

Ok...first of all, I do like his teacher. Don't take this AT ALL as a personal issue with her. And second of all, yes...I want my kids to be well-rounded...of course I do...but you know what?? Maybe he just doesn't like to freakin' COLOR!?!?! SO WHAT?!?!?! It's not like he's flat out refusing to do it...he just doesn't want to spend ten minutes coloring a snowman, when he knows that once he's finished with that he gets to play in the toy kitchen. You know?

Is coloring a life skill? Not so much! Math? YES! He needs math. He even LIKES math! Great! When he's 25 is he going to have a hard time finding a job because he doesn't want to sit down and color in his Madagascar coloring book? I really think he'll be alright.

Like I said...I think it's important to be well rounded. I think it's important for him to spend time doing things at school, even if they may not neccessarily be something he loves. But more than anything, I want him to enjoy his time love enjoy the things he wants to enjoy! I'm not asking for him to be exempt from coloring...I'm asking for him to be allowed to make the choice not to like it. I want to raise well-rounded, open-minded, creative, artistic children. But I don't want to force them to like something. I just can't.

Maybe I'm overprotective because he's my baby...and my most sensitive child. Or maybe, as my kids grow older, I'm finding more confidence in both myself and in my kids to recognize that hey...we don't have to accept every social norm on the planet. One kid doesn't want to color? Fine...sometimes we have to color because our teacher is in charge, but you don't have to like it. Tylenol for a fever? No thank you! No long hair on boys? Says WHO??

You know...maybe some day he WILL change his mind. Maybe someday he'll LOVE to color. I hated mushrooms when I was little. Now I add them to so many meals...we love them. Yummy! I also used to hate the color purple...but you has it's place. :) Or...maybe he won't. But that's his choice to make...not mine.

It's such a fine line, I think, between raising open-minded kids, and making their choices for them. It might seem worlds minded vs. my call...but it's not. Maybe their choice as an open minded child, is not to be so "free" and open-minded. So maybe in "failing", I'm succeeding. (Or maybe I'm just overthinking it alltogether...haha!)

At any rate, I hope I'm doing a good job walking that tight-rope. At least I know that no one can tell me I'm not trying.

**annnnd stepping down**

Monday, November 2, 2009


My middle guy turned 6 today. Six. The big

I remember when he was born, six short years ago...staring at him. I could not stop staring at that sweet little face. I didn't want to put him to bed. I'd just lay with him and watch him sleep, even though I should've been spending that time sleeping myself. He was so...content. So serious. So beautiful.

He's still serious...and still beautiful. He's compassionate. He shares. He's not afraid to tell me he loves me. He wants to be a good helper. He thrives on positive encouragement.

He wanted "big boy" pictures because he's "big" now. Six. So we did just that...took some pictures, and then got ready for our family b-day party...vanilla cake with vanilla frosting and M&M's per his request.

Six Facts about my Six Year Old

1. He likes to use big words that often sound unnatural coming out of his mouth, but he generally uses them correctly. It's cute.
2. He rocks at video games. He loves to play games on the computer, old school NES, or Xbox 360. He loves it and he's good at it. My little tech-savvy guy.
3. He'd live on Peanut Butter and Honey sandwiches if I let him.
4. He'll dip anything in ketchup...even broccoli.
5. Luc is SUPER inquisitive. If you're doing something, he's got a million questions about it because he genuinely wants to understand things.
6. His memory is insanely accurate. He remembers things I forgot. It's a cool way. :)

My guy...

My three guys...the "birthday mummy" and his big and little brother. <3

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Pumpkin Pie Bites

Alright...I'm just gonna throw this out there. I am not a baker. I LOVE to cook. I'm all about a good soup...I can grill like a pro (ok...maybe "pro" is pushing it, but I hold my own!) Salad? Sure! Breakfast, lunch, got it! Dessert...ummm...maybe not.

Don't get me wrong...I'll DO it. I just don't love it...and I'm more prone to failure with baking than I am with cooking.

So when I saw these ADORABLE pumpkin pie bites on Bakerella...I honestly thought twice before saving the recipe. But, I do love pumpkin pie, and I DID need to bring a dessert item for my girl Kel's baby shower at work...sooooooo...I caved. I tried the recipe, and am SO glad I did!

They weren't difficult at all! They taste great and they're adorable!!

I'll repost Bakerella's recipe here for you, but if you haven't seen her site, you MUST! SO much baking fun!

Bakerella's Pumpkin Pie Bites
2 Refrigerated Pie Crusts
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup sugar
1 eight (my "eight" key is broken :( so I'm typing it out) oz. cream cheese -- softened
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

(On her blog she also has ingredients for a chocolate topping if that's your thing. I skipped it.)

1. Roll out one of your pie crusts. Thin it out a little bit with your rolling pin. Using a pumpkin shaped cookie cutter, cut out several pumpkins.

2. "Stuff" each pumpkin into the cup of a mini-muffin pan. Make sure you leave the stem of the pumpkin out. (My cookie cutter was a little bit too small, so I had to stretch each one out before putting it into the muffin tin...worked out fine!)

3. Egg wash the edge of each crust with egg white from one of the eggs.
4. Mix together the remaining ingredients until smooth.
5. Fill each pumpkin "shell" with ingredients (right to the top).
6. Bake at 350 degreens for about 10 minutes...or until your crust is starting to look golden brown on the edges.
7. Pop each one out of the pan and cool it on a rack. Keep refrigerated!


I'm linking this up at The Knock Off Knock Out at It's so Very Cheri and at Kimba's DIY Day on A Soft Place to Land. And seriously...check out Bakerella!!


Do you ever have one of those days where you just feel..."blah"? Nothing in particular wrong...not sick or sad...just "meh"? That's me today. In fact, that's me this WEEK.

I haven't done much around the house...I haven't done much with the kiddos...I haven't done much with photography or at work. I'm just...BLAH! I don't know how else to describe it.

BUT, have no fear...tonight I am making some really fun "Mini Pumpkin Pies" that I found on another blog. I will post the recipe, and a link to my recipe hook-up tomorrow!

Hopefully I'll bust on out of this funk soon too and get back to my crafty self! :) I'm working on it...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Mmm...Pulled Pork!

I need to get into the habit of taking photos as I cook to include with my recipe posts...I'm sorry...I'll try harder!!!

Last week, the man mentioned that he was craving a Pulled Pork sandwich. My poor family...we don't EVER have pork chops, or roast...rarely I'll make ham (just at Christmas)...bacon is a regular, I guess. But I don't know...I just don't *do* pork. Ick.

BUT, I aim to please. :) So I modified a couple recipes to come up with my own pulled pork recipe...and let me tell you...even I liked it!! That is REALLY saying something, because seriously...pork? Ick.

Pulled Pork - Southern Style
1 2-3 lb. pork butt roast (REALLY? I mean, how adding the word BUTT makes this more appetizing is beyond me, but after reading a few recipes, it's what I decided on because it has a higher fat content. Fat = Flavor people!)
Minced Garlic to taste
Liquid Smoke
Seasoned Salt
Onion Powder
Black Pepper
1/2 cup Chicken Broth
Worcestershire Sauce
3 Tbsp. butter

1. Cut the roast into "chunks". My average piece ended up about 4 inches long by 2-3 inches wide. Season both sides of the meat with onion powder, black pepper and just a LITTLE BIT of seasoned salt. Rub this into the meat (with your hands).
2. Melt the butter in a sauce pan, and brown the meat on all sides. Added minced garlic and continue to cook everything another minute or two.
3. Dump the contents of your sauce pan into a crock pot...pour chicken broth into the sauce pan and use a spoon to scrape up all the good stuff from the meat off the bottom of the pan. (The broth helps release some of this.) Pour that (broth and "stuff") into the crock pot as well.
4. Add a splash of worchesterchire and about 4 Tbsp. of Liquid Smoke.
5. Lock the lid on the crock pot. Cook on high for 2-3 hours, and then on low for another 2 hours. Resist the urge to open the crock pot...just let it do it's thing.
6. After cooking, remove the lid and if you did everything just right, your meat will shred itself the second you take a fork to it. Shred it up and serve on buns with BBQ sauce on top. (Some people mix the BBQ sauce in, but that's not how we roll. :)

Try it with Sweet Baby Ray's "Sweet and Spicy"..yum!!!!!!! The man and his friends were impressed, and like I said...even I didn't go "ICK!" It smelled good and tasted even better! We'll definitely be enjoying this one for years to come!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


I've been featured at It's So Very Cheri's again!

Stop by her blog to check out the other great creations from the Knock Off Knock Out party!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Diet Soda Cake - Yum!

Super fast, Super easy, SUPER Delicious!

I've heard of people doing this before, but never tried it myself. Basically, you take your good ol' cake mix, and instead of using eggs + oil + water, you replace those three with one can of Diet Soda. If there's one thing I love, it's Diet Soda. Sign me up!

Last night after our lasagna, I decided we needed a dessert. (Of course, a short time later, the kids starting acting up and went to bed with no bedtime snack. I know...mean, mean momma...but that's neither here nor there.)

ANYWAY...I went with carrot cake, since it's spicy and yummy for fall. Mixed the box mix with a can of Diet Mtn. Dew (it was that or Diet Dr. Pepper...ha!) and baked as directed.

Let me tell ya...SUPER moist, and oh so delish!!!! I frosted it with cream cheese frosting and enjoyed the heck out of it! (And I sent some with grandma today so the kids could have a snack at her house...see??? I'm not THAT mean!)

I can't wait to try this trick again. I want to do a vanilla cake with an orange soda! I think (hope!) it will be citrus-y and wonderful! YUMMY!

Monday, October 19, 2009

101 in 1001

Awhile back I started a "101 in 1001" list on my photography blog (before I created MX Momma). I decided it is better kept over here, so I'm transferring it and updating my list today.

If you are unfamiliar with "101 in 1001", it is the creating of 101 goals and giving yourself 1001 days to accomplish them. As I said, I started my list awhile back, so I have until October 11, 2010 to finish.

101 IN 1001

1. Take the boys to Chuckie Cheese. -DONE!

2. Revamp my blog. -DONE! (Although this is an on-going...but the main revamp is complete!)
3. Redo my logo and make it something I can stick with for years to come! -DONE!
4. Launch a new website. - DONE!
5. Quit smoking…for good. -DONE!
6. Get back into my size 7’s (comfortably!) and STAY there for at least 6 consecutive months. (0/6)
7. Hang “peace” pictures of the kids in the living room.
8. Create and hang “photo strip” of Adam and I in our bedroom.
9. Print Luc a photo of himself doing something he loves. Hang it in his room.
10. Print Mikey a photo of himself doing something he loves. Hang it in his room.
11. Print Will a photo of himself doing something he loves. Hang it in his room.
12. Print McKenzie a photo of herself doing something she loves. Hang it in her room.
13. Finish McKenzie’s room.
14. Paint the kitchen.
15. Buy the kitchen prints I want from Etsy!
16. Paint the living room. -DONE!
17. Replace the linoleum…all of it! - In Process...still have to replace the linoleum in the bathrooms but most of this is done!
18. Buy a new mailbox and customize it.
19. Create a planter for the front porch.
20. Create a patio area in the back.
21. Get another puppy to keep our Mr. Oliver company. -DONE!
22. Make a paper crane garland for Christmas.
23. Organize my finances.
24. Buy new glasses that I LOVE! (Eye glasses we’re talking…) -DONE!
25. Make soap.
26. Write a short story for my kids.
27. Color my hair in some funky and fun way!! - DONE!
28. Talk mom and Troy into getting their photo taken.
29. Take a STELLAR self portrait that I love!
30. Take a great photo of me with the boys.
31. Commission a photographer for killer family photos!
32. Design new marketing materials.
33. Find (and purchase) awesome eco-friendly packaging!
34. Paint the dining room/office and add ART!
35. Buy/Build the perfect desk/office area for myself.
36. Get a manicure!
37. Donate a photo session/photos next Christmas (2009)!
38. Finish the boys’ room.
39. Redo the kids’ bathroom in a fun theme!
40. Fence the back yard.
41. Paint the laundry room and add art!
42. Replace living room flooring. - DONE!
43. Replace curtains in my bedroom.
44. Take the kids to the zoo.
45. Create a “day in the life” book of the boys.
46. Replace countertops and build a breakfast bar!
47. Drywall around the “chimney” and create my BUILT IN!!!
48. Replace the hideous ceiling fan with something…ANYTHING! - DONE!
49. Attend a photography seminar.
50. Enroll in some kind of class.
51. Start collecting family recipes for a cookbook.
52. Get into a water drinking habit. LEARN TO LIKE WATER.
53. Get my Peace Dove tattoo.
54. Work on at least 6 of my concept photography ideas. (0/6)
55. Plant an herb garden.
56. Plant veggies outside with the kids. -DONE!
57. Build my “chess table” and put it under “my tree”.
58. Put my hammock up.
59. Paint a canvas for the living room.
60. Make a “Peace” canvas for my office.
61. Become debt free, except for the house payment.
62. Teach the boys their address and phone number.
63. Use my cookie press!
64. Get a Buddha and display him to remind me to focus.
65. Have a huge yard sale and get rid of STUFF. -DONE!
66. Travel WEST…California maybe?!
67. Travel EAST…show Adam the East coast and hope he loves it like I do!
68. Travel SOUTH…hit the beach and RELAX!
69. Enter a photography print competition.
70. Set up a system to keep track of clients.
71. Make a new recipe every day or night for one week. (0/7)
72. Buy a piano.
73. Start a photographer mentoring program for kids.
74. Redo the entry to the house with a bench and a place for the kids stuff.
75. Buy and hang at least 6 wind-chimes. (0/6)
76. Start my chess set collection and find myself a place to display them.
77. Get a cell phone…a nice one.
78. Convert to being a MAC USER!
79. Read at least four business books. (1/4) - In Process
80. Start a good image backup system for my photos.
81. Start bank accounts for the kids.
82. Upgrade my camera!
83. Get my “Truth” tattoo touched up and get something on the other wrist. -DONE!
84. Help plan a wedding.
85. Do a “master cleanse” type diet.
86. Do a fundraiser for “The Portrait House”
87. Design and print my own shirts, x10. (0/10)
88. Buy or build a swing-set/play-scape for the kids.
89. Get the boys their dirt bike. -DONE!
90. Get a vehicle I can fit ALL of us in!
91. When I have a nice vehicle, get a logo decal for the back window.
92. Don’t complain about ANYTHING for one full week. (0/7)
93. Revamp the back hallway with photos and art!
94. Go fishing.95. Get Chuck Taylor’s in at least 5 colors! (0/5)
96. Learn to ride a dirt bike.
97. Bake real bread.
98. Pierce SOMETHING! ;)
99. Take (or have taken) some “Nancy Botwin” (in Season 4 of “Weeds”) photos taken!
100. Start journaling (not to be confused with blogging. Blogging is for EVERYONE. Journaling is just for me.)
101. Donate $5 to charity for every item that goes unconquered at the end of 1001 days!

I will update this post as I accomplish my goals. Anyone want to join in the fun?!?!?! :)

DIP! Yummy!

As I've mentioned in the past, we are a FOOTBALL LOVING FAMILY! Sundays are spent eating until we're beyond full and cheering on all of our favorite teams! Sundays make my heart happy. :)

I tried a new DIP recipe a few weeks ago, and it was ok, but it needed some tweaking. I think we've got it "just right" now!

Hope you enjoy!

Cheddar Bacon Dip

1 (8 oz.) pkg. Cream Cheese – Softened
1 cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese
½ cup Miracle Whip dressing
½ cup Ranch dressing
¼ c. Dijon Mustard
6 slices bacon – Cooked, Drained, and Crumbled
½ bunch green onions – chopped

Beat cream cheese, shredded cheese, Miracle Whip and Ranch in a bowl until well blended. Stir in mustard, bacon and green onions. Add more Ranch dressing if necessary to reach desired consistency. (Some people prefer this as more of a “spread”…I prefer it as a “dip”.)

Serve with crackers! Yummy!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Weekend Wrap-Up

Ahhh...what a great weekend! Got a fish fry on Friday with the man...yummy!! Went yard sale-ing Saturday morning with the man and got a couple good deals...a CUTE little galvanized metal tray (not sure what I'm going to use it for yet, but I'll think of something!!), a huge, beautiful glass platter for Thanksgiving (I've been looking for one at the store and they're always either ugly or expensive and the one I found was $2 and I LOVE it!), AND I scored several blue glass Ball canning jars (some WITH lids!) I was SUPER stoked!

Then while the man worked around the house, I spent the afternoon at my "little" brothers football game! (I use the word "little" lightly...he may be barely over half my age, but he towers over me...see???)

Anyway, it was our local rivalry "M&M Game" and WE WON! Woot!!!! GO MAROON AND GOLD!!!! Had a great time there! It was a GORGEOUS day for football!

Took an evening trip to Menards with the man (always fun!) and hit up a great sale at Kmart to get early X-mas gifts for the kiddos (shhh!!!!) Then spent the rest of the night at home playing Scene It and watching a movie!

Sunday was my usual cleaning, cooking and football! Then tonight we (ok...ADAM) replaced the HIDEOUS flooring we still had in the entryway to our home. This is step ONE in a complete entryway makeover! We've got BIG plans for this SMALL space! Can't wait! step at a time! :)

Here's the buddies getting in on the action...

And, the finished product...LOVE it!

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend as well! Back to the grind tomorrow!


Friday, October 16, 2009

Caramel Apples - GOURMET!

As a part of my “10 Tasks in 10 Days” challenge, I wanted to make some GOURMET caramel apples! I'm also linking this post up at A Soft Place to Land's DIY Day and at Cheri's Knock Off Knock Out party!

I had initially intended to make my own caramel, but in the interest of saving time and sanity, I opted for good ol’ Kraft caramels. The kids helped me unwrap them all and then we were off to the races.

I started with a pot of boiling water. I dunked each apple into the water for a minute and then used a paper towel to scrub off any wax leftover. Most apples sold in grocery stores are waxed for shine. This can cause issues because your caramel may slide right off. (That is the point of wax, right?) I actually tried just washing the apples first, but they were still shiny, so I’m glad I included this step. Just dunk quickly and then using a dry paper towel, scrub off the shine.

**NOTE…apples do not look their prettiest when they’ve just been dunked in boiling water, but they’ll be FINE! Trust me! You’re covering them anyway…it’s all good! And FYI, I used 6 BIG granny smith apples.

So next I needed to create a double boiler. Since I don’t have an ACTUAL double boiler, I set a vegetable steamer tray on top of the pot of boiling water. I set my glass bowl of caramels onto the veggie tray and then stirred. (And stirred…and stirred…)
I used approximately 1 and a half bags of caramels. (The man got into the first bag and was snagging a couple each day!) After the caramels were just starting to melt, I added about 4 Tbsp. of water. This aided in the melting process and in smoothing the caramel out. Melting the caramel (especially with my “homemade” double boiler) took quite a while, but it worked out great in the end. As I stirred (and stirred), I continued to add water as necessary until the caramel was the consistency I wanted. I wish I could describe this consistency to you, but I can’t…you’ll know it when you see it! Not too thin, not too thick! You got this!

I removed the bowl from the double boiler and sat it next to my apples. I had already put the sticks (included in the bag of caramels) into the apples (on the stem side). I had also prepared a tray for the apples. I used a cookie sheet covered in a few layers of plastic wrap, which I then “greased” with butter flavored shortening. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP. Don’t use waxed paper, and don’t forget to grease the plastic wrap! It is the easiest way I’ve ever tried as far as getting the apples off without them sticking.

I dunked each apple, one at a time. I allowed quite a bit of caramel to drip off the apple and used a rubber spatula to scrape the bottom of the apples (no sense in any more caramel pooling at the bottom than necessary). I sat the apples on the tray and transferred the entire tray to the fridge to allow them to set. I let them sit in the fridge for about 15 minutes…they were still slightly soft, which was just what I wanted.
I took the tray out and took each apple off the tray so I could scrape the excess caramel off the bottom and back into the bowl of caramel. Allow that to melt (remember…stir, stir, stir!) I then dipped a couple of the apples in caramel a second time. Some of the apples were getting a chocolate coating, so those were NOT double dipped in caramel. (I just didn’t want the coating to be too heavy.) I then took the apples that WERE NOT being double dipped and rolled them in some nut toppings. (One in finely chopped peanuts, and two in pecans that I ground up (not TOO fine) in my food processor). The whole tray then went back into the fridge.
While things were setting up again, I used my trusty “double boiler” to melt a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips. Again, I added water until I had the consistency I wanted. After letting the apples sit in the fridge for about 45 minutes, I removed them, got my chocolate smooth and ready, and went back to it. The apples that were rolled in pecans were then dipped in chocolate. I rolled one of the double dipped caramel apples in toffee (finely chopped in the food processor), and then drizzled with melted chocolate. The peanut apple was left as is, and I left one double dipped in caramel “plain”. The last one, I dipped in a thin layer of chocolate (scraping much of the excess off) and then rolled it in toffee.

I then refrigerated overnight and let me tell you…I am SO happy with our results. We have thickly coated, decadent caramel apples that would make an excellent gift. (Have you ever seen what these sell for? I’ve seen $20 apples…seriously!! Insane!) I left the sticks in, but these can NOT be eaten off the stick. You have to slice it off and enjoy it that way! They turned out exactly as I had hoped and I can’t wait to do it again with some different toppings!

ENJOY! And don't forget to stop by Kimba's and Cheri's to check out other great projects!!!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Mediocre Performance.

Alright...ten in ten day is HERE!

Here was my list to begin with...
1. FINALLY organize the office/dining room.
2. Paint Will's Headboard
3. Hang my chalkboard and washboards in the laundry room
4. Make fridge photo frames
5. Finish Kids artwork display Project
6. Finish Family Rules Canvas
7. Work on my door turned dining room table
8. Put up beadboard in kitchen
9. Finish painting (kitchen, trim and hallway)
10. Make gourmet caramel apples

Let's take them one at a time...

1. I cleaned this is now organized, BUT it's only half useful. I turned our dining room table into a desk for me and the kids to share (which I LOVE) but that left us with no table. Until #7 on my list is complete, we eat at a folding table...but this is well under way and I have 10 in 10 to thank for it!

2. I have STILL NOT painted Will's headboard. :( I keep waffling on color (although I think I am now set on black) and DO have it on my to-do list for this weekend.

3. I tried to hang this stuff...and put a hole in the wall. :( Not my forte...LOL! The man is going to help me locate studs and get this done, but I decided I wanted to finish painting in there first...sooo...add another project to the list! LOL!

4. The frames aren't done (I KNOW! I KNOW!) I need a couple more colors of acrylic and haven't gotten to the store. This is started though!

5. Never did hit up Menards...never did get to work on this. :(

6. CANVAS IS DONE! See it here.

7. I need paint stripper. It's on the shopping list.

8. Not even sorta.

9. I did the trim...I still don't love it, but it's growing on me.

10. They're in process right now. I will have a post about them tomorrow at the latest!! out of 10?!?! Could be worse, right? LOL! Overall I'm happy though! I LOVE lists and goals, so this was a great motivator and visual reminder of what I wanted to do.

Check out other's 10 in 10 over at Shabby Chic Cottage...hopefully some other blogger friends were able to knock out some things on their own To-Do Lists!!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Family Rules Canvas

It's DIY DAY at A Soft Place to Land!! I'm all linked up! Stop at Kimba's to check out all the other DIY fabulousness! It is also TRANSFORMATION THURSDAY at "The Shabby Chic Cottage" As my readers know, I've been participating in the 10 Tasks in 10 Days challenge there, so I will be posting a full update on that later, but ONE of my tasks was this. My Family Rules Canvas. So I'm also linking up for Transformation Thursday!

While browsing some of my fave blogs awhile back, I came across the most FANTASTIC idea at "The Pleated Poppy". She created a great big canvas displaying their family rules. I knew immediately that I had to do it!

I had a big 16x20 frame to fill, so instead of buying a gallery wrapped canvas like I think she used, I used canvas covered boards ($8 something for a three pack at Walmart).

Here's the skinny on how I did it...
1. I painted the entire canvas with a pretty turquoise-y blue acrylic paint. I let it dry...then I painted it again. I was planning to leave spaces between my rules, so I painted the entire thing.

2. I don't have fancy scissors, so I used a paper cutter and cut different width strips of paper that suited my fancy.

3. Then using a white or black fine point paint marker (depending on the color of the paper), I wrote OUR family rules. Earlier that day, I had found some fonts I liked, downloaded them, and made myself a "cheat sheet" of sorts. I typed out all the rules in different fonts. Then I used that to look at while I hand-wrote the rules...made it much easier to "free-hand" having the inspiration right in front of me.

4. Then, I decided how I wanted them arranged, and went to town with some Mod Podge. I used Mod Podge (matte finish) as both my glue and a sealant. When my kids are a little older and it's time to change up the rules, I think I will try using spray adhesive to glue the rules down and then just use the Mod Podge as a sealant. I've used Mod Podge a lot in my life, and I was using thin layers, but the paper had a severe tendancy to ripple...badly. I pulled a few off and redid them actually. Oh...and as I mentioned, I intended to leave spaces in between. I kind of just winged-it...there are some spaces, but I they're not al the same. I'm happy with the imperfect-ness of it...that's very much US.

5. After my sealant was all dried, I popped this baby in a frame and on the wall she went.

LOVE it!

A closer view of the rules...

Our rules (some of them borrowed, some not) are:
1. Always Tell the Truth
2. Ask First and Use Your Manners (Yes Please and No, Thank You)
3. Keep Your Promises.
4. No fussing, No whining, No complaining
5. Hands to yourself unless you're high-fiving or hugging.
6. Be Creative at all times.
7. Allow People their Privacy and show respect!
8. Use Nice Words
9. Tummy to the Table and Hands to yourself. Chew with your mouth closed and Swallow before you Speak.
10. Don't forget to say "I Love You"
11. Inside: No running and use inside voices.
12. Be a Good Brother

And, just for fun...our poochers, lookin' good. Love these fluffy guys. :)

Don't forget to check out Kimba's and "The Shabby Chic Cottage"!

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