Friday, February 26, 2010

To Paint or Not to Paint....

Ahhhh....I love home projects.  They keep me up into all hours of the night scouring the internet for ideas and inspiration.  Hubs and I have decided to finish our basement. After toiling for the past two years over whether or not to do it, we've decided to bite the bullet. 

We made the decision based off of a few things. One, we knew we wanted to finish it before we sell because houses in our area sell so so much better with finished basements.  And if we're going to do that I want to enjoy it for the next few years while we're still here!  Two, I feel like we will be able to get a good price with the economy the way it is now, and I am happy to give someone a job for a couple weeks. Third, the hubby needs a man cave.  I can only take so much ESPN.

So, within the next couple of months we hope to get this project going. We have went back and forth over doing some of it ourselves.  I still think we will do some of it, but, mostly we will have professionals do the job.  I don't want it to become a 3 year project. However, that doesn't mean we won't try to cut costs in some areas.

One of the ways we were thinking about cutting costs was to paint the basement ceiling as opposed to dry-walling or drop ceiling it.  Here are some inspiration pics.  I don't know where I got these, so sorry for the lack of credit.

I like the more industrial look.  I think after all is said and done, it is still a basement.  It will also save us a TON of money.  Our basement is close to 1500 sq ft.  So to ceiling all of that....well....we're waiting on the estimate, but it's a lot.

Has anyone ever done this or know someone who has? I think the biggest drawback is going to be the noise between the two floors.  But, I'm not sure how bad it would be. This is one of the first decisions we have to make because it is the very first thing you do.

Ahhhh!!! Decisions!!!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Veggie Chicken Soup

I love having soup for lunch.  It's so easy for me to make a batch of soup and freeze it into individual portions.  If I do this often enough, then I have a pretty big selection of soup to choose from in the freezer.  It is way way cheaper that buying cans from the store.  It's also healthier and yummier :) I know many people aren't fans of lima beans, but I think in here, they're fantastic. Also, you can substitute some of the veggies in here for your favorites.

Veggie Chicken Soup


2 tbsp olive oil
2 cups diced onions
2 celery stalks, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 zucchini, sliced
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 lbs boneless, skinless, chicken thighs or rotisserie chicken
8 tomatoes (plum or roma), diced
3 cups chicken stock
1 pkg (10 oz) frozen corn
1 pkg (16 oz) frozen lima beans


Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add in the onions, celery, green pepper, zucchini, salt ( I did about 2 tsp) , and pepper. Cook until everything is softened and starting to get a little golden.  

Stir in the tomato paste and add in the chicken, if using uncooked, and tomatoes.  Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce to a simmer.  Cook for about 20 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.  

Remove the chicken and dice.  If using rotisserie chicken add in now with lima beans and corn. Warm everything through and top with a little sour cream if you want.


Note:  This makes a BIG batch of soup. Cut by half if you only want enough for 4.

To see more delicious recipes check out these fabulous blogs:

Have a great day!!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Menu Plan 2/21 - 2/27

As I posted last night this weekend was kind of a bust.  My guy was really sick and we didn't do too much.  I did, however, watch a lot of the Olympics!!  I'm really not much of a sports fan, but for some reason I LOVE the Olympics! Much to the despair of my husband, figure skating is my favorite. 

Here's what I have planned for the week:

Sunday:  Pulled Pork

This couldn't be an easier or more inexpensive meal.  I put about 1/2 cup BBQ sauce and 1/4 mustard on the bottom of a large crock pot.  Then I put in a large pork loin and put some more sauce on top.  I cook on high for about 6 or so hours.  There will be a point at about 4 hours where you'll check for tenderness and it will not be fork tender at all.  Then give it a couple hours and when you can shred it with a spoon, it's done.  Once shredded I add some more BBQ sauce and mustard to taste and put it over some buns with cheese.  That's it.  Super easy.

Monday:  LO Pulled Pork

Tuesday: Clam Pasta - didn't get to this last week :)

Wednesday:  Left Over Pasta

Thursday:  Salmon with salad and veggies

Friday: Dinner with friends

Saturday:  Out to dinner than scrapbooking with friends

To see more menu plans, check out Organizing Junkie here!!

I also linked this post up to Smockity Frocks Crockpot Carnival :)

Have a great week!!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Sick Boy...

My guy has been sick the past couple of days :(  I don't know what it is, but if I'm sick...yeah it isn't fun. But, if he's sick...I'm so sad for him. So, this is what we had for dinner last night. Some "sick soup" and grilled cheese. "Sick Soup" is Lipton Noodle Soup out of a box, that my mom used to make me when I was sick. I love it when I'm sick, but don't like it so much when I'm not!

Then I felt bored after sick soup and grilled cheese.  So I made dessert. And it was good.  Real good.  There's Nutella in it.  Real good.

Basically, I pan seared some sliced pineapple in a little butter over high heat, until brown. Then I took a couple tablespoons of Nutella and about a tablespoon of milk or so and put it in the microwave for about 20 seconds.  Then I stirred it until combined.  I drizzled that over the pineapple and put little dollops of Mascarpone Cheese and chopped almonds on top. Mascarpone is totally optional but seeing as how I believe it is the greatest food product on earth, I would say...use it. You won't regret it.

Even sick boy ate a little. 

Happy Sunday!

Friday, February 19, 2010

We Have a Winner!!!

Thank you everyone so much for entering my giveaway for the cutest reusable produce bags!  I really love this product and think that it is such an easy way to make a big impact on the environment.  

So our winner is.........................bummmmmfrummmbummmmm (drumroll):

Tara,  I'm so glad you won because I know you wanted these!!!!

Thanks again everyone!

Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

WFMW ~ Chicken Stock

One of the biggest money savers in our house is making homemade chicken stock.  I make a lot of soups and other things that require chicken stock and it is very expensive to buy. I know there are a lot of recipes out there for making stock...but really I just throw a bunch of things into a giant pot and boil away. Good enough for me.  

As I accumulate things in the kitchen that I think would be good in stock, I freeze them in a large container.  Then, all I have to do is open the container and throw the item in.  It's okay if they all stick together, because your throwing it all in the same place anyway.  I think having one container saves on space, time, and money. Here is a list of some of the things I have thrown into a pot of chicken stock.  The ones that are bold are, in my opinion, a must:

Chicken - cooked chicken carcasses, uncooked chicken parts, skin, yucky parts...whatever
Celery - save your leafy parts as they add tons of flavor to the stock
Garlic - no need to peel
Leek tops
Fresh or Dried Herbs
Parmesan or other cheese heels - once you've used the cheese just stick it in the freezer to save
Salt - don't go crazy on this because you can always add more to the dish
Whole Peppercorns
Broccoli Stems
Left over veggies such as peas, corn, green beans, green onions - seriously, it all adds flavor

I make chicken stock every couple of months and I basically just load up a large pot with all my savings and fill it to the top with water.  Then I bring it to a strong boil and reduce to a simmer. Then I cover it and let it go.  Simmer for a loooooooong time.  I've been known to do it overnight.  I would say at least 6 hours. 

Then, I let it cool and get a large tupperware container.  I  then strain the stock over a strainer. Throw all the leftovers away.  DON'T try to save the chicken.  You just boiled the heck out of it. It's done its duty.

Now, let the strained stock stay in the fridge overnight.  All of the fat and other left over bits will rise to the top and you can skim it off. It really is worth the overnight wait.

Finally, divide the stock into bags or other containers to freeze and use for later.  I divide mine into 1 quart (4 cups), 2 cups, and 1 cup increments.  I freeze mine in bags.  It works well and rarely leaks.  See here:

Then your husband, who thinks making stock is silly, can leave you messages on your bags :)

Well, that's what works for me!  To see more tips go to Works For Me We Wednesday!

If you haven't had a chance to enter my giveaway for the cutest produce bags ever you may do so here!!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Asian Turkey Lettuce Cups

If you haven't had a chance to enter my giveaway for the cutest produce bags ever you may do so here:)

I made these yummy little lettuce cups last week and they were super tasty. For the recipe I basically just threw a bunch of Asian ingredients in with the ground turkey and here's what I came up with:

Asian Turkey Lettuce Cups
Serves 4


1 tbsp canola or vegetable oil
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced or grated
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 lb ground turkey
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp toasted sesame oil (Asian aisle in grocery store)
1 head iceberg or bibb/butter lettuce, separated into "bowls"


Heat a large skillet or wok over high heat.  Add in the oil to coat the pan.  Saute garlic, green onion, and ginger until it smells really good.  This should only take a couple of minutes.  Next, add in the ground turkey and cook until almost done.  Add in the soy sauce, honey, and sesame oil.  

Serve in lettuce cups with choice of toppings or by itself.  You could add chopped pepper, peanuts, more onion, etc.

Aren't they beautiful?  Just kidding.  Unfortunately, that's not mine :(  I had one of those "Oh S***!" moments when you forget to take a picture.  So I really hesitate to show you this ugly thing, but I took it so I am.  Yes, it is dark.  Yes, I did eat a little.  Yes, it was super yummy.  

This recipe is being shared at these fabulous blogs:

Have a great day!!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Weekend Recap & Menu Plan 2/14 - 2/20

First off I want to thank everyone who has so far entered my giveaway for the cutest reusable produce bags ever:) If you haven't had a chance to enter, you have until this Friday!

I had a great weekend and Valentine's Day wine tasting and relaxing in Northern Michigan.  We stayed at the sweetest little ski resort and really enjoyed the snow.  I am probably the most uncoordinated person to ever grace the steps of the I didn't ski.  But, I had a great time watching other skiers and enjoying everything else there was to offer. I also really enjoyed watching the Olympic opening ceremonies from here:

This was the view out of our room.  At night everything was lit up with twinkle lights.  So cute!

Hubby thought this pose was really cheesy:)

Before going wine tasting around the peninsulas my guy bought me a 90 minutes massage.  Oh my word.  It was wonderful.  I love him. This was one of the wineries that we tasted at.  They have an inn, where I plan to stay at in my next life when I'm a millionaire.

We also ate lunch at this great restaurant housed inside a refurbished state mental hospital. The size of the building was huge and oddly quite beautiful. This picture only shows probably a tenth of the place.  

Currently, they are refurbishing some parts to be used as condos. Completely un-creepy, no?

I linked this Valentine's Recap up with Amber @ Friend Makin Monday.  Such a cute blog!

Okay, well now I have to come back to the real world and menu plan.  So here's what I have for the week:

Sunday:  Pizza..I was tired :)

Monday:  Quinoa Pilaf with Chicken Sausages

Tuesday: Clam Pasta with Salad...I will post this recipe later in the week.

Wednesday:  Dinner @ Church for Ash Wednesday

Thursday: Left over pasta

Friday: Roasted Pork with broccoli

Saturday: Dinner Out

To see more menu plans check out Organizing Junkie's blog!!

Have a great week!!

Friday, February 12, 2010

100th Post!!!!!!! Awesome Giveaway!!!!!!!

Yay!!!!!! My 100th post is finally here!  I am so glad to be blogging and learning new and interesting things everyday.  It's great fun to read everyone's blogs and make new "friends".  I also think it's cool to look back at all the posts that I've written.  I think it will be nice in a couple of years to see our house when we first started working on it, daydream about what it was like to nap all weekend when we didn't have kids, and read some of the monthly goals that probably still aren't completed! Blogging really has become such a wonderful hobby.  

So, now I would like to announce a giveaway in honor of my 100th post!  I found these really adorable reusable produce bags on Etsy. I think reusable produce bags are great for the environment and also a wonderful way to transport fresh produce from the farmer's market and grocery store.  The shop is called Fickle Faerie, and the owner June, has generously offered to giveaway one full set to a lucky reader.  These are just a couple of my favorites:

I mean seriously.  Aren't they so stinkin cute?! Here's one more :) It might just be my favorite!

The set will include:
  • 2 Large sized nylon produce bags, approx size 11" x 13"
  • 2 Medium sized bags approx. 9" x 11"
  • 2 mini singles great for 1 or 2 items like a tomato, kiwi, lemon, etc, approx 6" x 7"
  • Bonus of 1 drawstring pouch to carry them in, pouch carry bag "will vary" in print but will match the color with your produce bags....

The giveaway will end next Friday, February 19th at 5pm Eastern.  

Okay, so here's what you have to do to enter:

1.  Go to June's store here and tell me which color full gift set (6 bags) you would choose if you won.  This must be done to get the first entry.

2. Get 2 extra entries for following or subscribing to my blog.  Please leave me a comment if you already follow or subscribe and I'll count that.

3. Get 3 extra entries for blogging about the giveaway.  Make sure to also tell me in a comment that you did that.

**This giveaway is open to residents of the US and Canada. You will have 48 hours to respond or else another winner will be selected.

Also, I am linking this up with Amy's super fun Round Robin :) 

I will be gone this weekend with my guy, but I'll be checking in and out periodically.  If you have any questions I'll do my best to get back to you as quick as possible.  Happy Valentine's Day everyone!!


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Oh Hubby...

Today I decided to take a prompt from Mama Kat. I chose to write a poem about my hubby. You may remember what I great poet I am....not :)  But, they are kind of fun to write.  So, since I've yet to get a card for my wonderful husband I hope he'll accept my poem instead.  


Oh hubby, I love you
I think you love me too
You love me when I’m chubby,
you love me when I’m not
But that’s never happened…
and you still think I’m hot.
Oh hubby, I want to grow old with you
I think you want to be old with me too
I love when we do things together,
no matter what the weather.
You like sports and I don’t
I like to cook, and you…just won’t
I’m glad we’re not all the same,
then we’d just be lame.
Oh hubby, we’re best friends
Lets be that way til the end.

To see more poems and other prompts check out the Writer's Workshop.

Remember..tomorrow I am having a giveaway in honor of my 100th post. Please come back to enter!  

Have a great day!!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Decorating Dilemma

Yesterday I found this really fun blog called Serenity Now.  Right now she is hosting a Decorating Dilemma's party.  Basically you post pictures of problem areas in your house that you would like some decorating advice on. What a great idea!  

So, the part of my house that I struggle with is my kitchen.  Here's a couple of picture of what it looks like right now.  

I love how open it is because my house is not the biggest.  I feel like if it were more closed off, it would just block things in. I also like the white dishes...because...well that's what I have :) I don't really feel like buying new dishes, but I also kind of like the continuity of the white. However, it just seems kind of dull.  

Do you think I should put some stuff on top of the cabinet? I know there are some glass serving things up there now.  I don't really like that.  I feel like I either need more stuff...or less. Ahhh...these are the things that keep me up at night ;)

Also..what about this thing?

Do you think it would look better with bead board instead of frosted glass? It's not like what's inside is pretty or anything...

Anyway, I am open to any and all suggestions!  You won't hurt my feelings if you say change a lot!! Thanks in advance for the advice!

Too see more decorating dilemmas check out Serenity Now!!

Also! Friday I am having a giveaway in honor of my 100th post!  Please come back to enter!!!!'ll be the cutest greenest shopper at the grocery store :)

Have a great day!!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Buffalo Chicken Roll-Ups or Squares

I made these roll-ups for the Superbowl on Sunday, and they were a hit. I adapted the recipe from a spinach and cheese one that I had. Also, be sure to read the bottom of the post for an alternative way to make them as a dinner.

Buffalo Chicken Roll-Ups
Two Dozen


1 can (8oz) refrigerated crescent rolls
3/4 cup finely chopped chicken, cooked
1 teaspoon hot sauce *I use Franks, and use as much or as little as your family likes*
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup cheddar or blue cheese
3 tbsp green onion, finely chopped


Preheat oven to 350.  Spray cookie sheet. Unroll dough and separate into 4 rectangles, and firmly press to seal.

In a small bowl, mix chicken and hot sauce.  Spread 1/4 of cream cheese over each rectangle to about 1/4 inch of the edge.  Sprinkle evenly with the chicken mixture, cheese, and onion.  

I doubled the recipe so this has one extra rectangle

Starting with one of the short sides, roll up the rectangle.  Press the edge to seal.  With a serrated or other sharp knife, cut each roll into 6 slices.  Place the rolls (cut side down) on the cookie sheet.  Bake 13-17 minutes, until golden.

You can also make chicken squares with these like I did here, to make it more of a dinner instead of an appetizer.

Use the same directions, but replace the ingredients with these, mixing in the hot sauce and cheese with the rest of the filling.

8 oz (1 block) cream cheese, room temp
2 cups cooked chicken, cubed
1 teaspoon hot sauce, or more to taste
1/4 cup blue or cheddar cheese
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp milk
3 tbsp green onion, finely chopped
1 can (8 oz) refrigerated crescent rolls


These recipes are being shared at these fabulous blogs:

Have a great day!!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Menu Plan 2/7 - 2/13

So let me just say...I am not a football fan.  However, I am so happy the Saints won last night!!!!! I think it's great for New Orleans and is going to make for such a fun Mardi Gras.  We had a pretty uneventful weekend.  Saturday night we went out to dinner with some friends to a place that has over 30 varieties of burgers.  My husband got a burger with a fried egg on top. He loved it...probably because he knew it grossed me out :)  I got a burger that was a cross between a mushroom and swiss and an olive burger.  SOOOOO good!  Last night we went to a Superbowl party and had a great time.  

This week is pretty dull because we have a lot going on.  I'm so excited for this weekend, though!

Sunday: Superbowl!

Monday:  Left over spaghetti

Tuesday:  Asian Lettuce Cups...I'll post later this week.

Wednesday:  LO Asian Lettuce Cups

Thursday:  Volunteering @ Church

Friday: We'll be in Traverse City, wine tasting, for a Valentine's getaway

Saturday: Same as above ;)

To see more menu plans check out Organizing Junkie's Blog here!

Have a great week!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Over the Top

Yesterday I got the nicest award from from the lovely Mommy Gourmet. She took a little break from blogging, and I'm so glad she's back.  Check out her blog for some really delicious and creative recipes.  

In order to receive this award, I must answer the following questions with one word answers (I tried!) and then pass the award on to 5 other bloggers whom I believe are also "Over the Top!" (They will then repeat.) I love lists.  This is great. Here's what I got:

Your Cell Phone? bad
Your Hair? long
Your Mother? funny
Your Father?
miss him
Your Favorite Food? everything!
Your Dream Last Night? creepy!
Your Favorite Drink? martini
Your Dream/Goal? happiness
What Room Are You In? living room
Your Hobby? cooking
Your Fear? sickness
Where Do You See Yourself In Six Years? mommy
Where Were You Last Night? home
Something That You Aren't? complete
Muffins? yum
Wish List Item? camera
Where Did You Grow Up? ann arbor
Last Thing You Did? email
What Are You Wearing? jeans
Your TV? excessive
Your Pets? nope
Friends? love
Your Life? fabulous
Your Mood? okay
Missing Someone? absolutely
Vehicle? SRX
Something You Aren't Wearing? underwear :)
Your Favorite Store? sur la table
Your Favorite Color? green
When Was The Last Time You Laughed? yesterday 
Last Time You Cried? awhile
Your Best Friend? hubby
One Place You Go To Over And Over Again? Meijer
Facebook? unfortunately
Favorite Place To Eat? 1913 Room

So here are the blogs I'm passing this on to. This is just a small selection of some of my favorite blogs and ones that I've just came to know :)

Tara @ The Life of Us.  She and I seem to have very similar taste in food and I always look forward to seeing her recipes and reading about her sweet family.  

Lucy @ Lucy's Kitchen & Lucy's Life.  Oh how I wish we lived closer.  I think we'd be real life buddies.  She not only has a love of food, but also a love of lists :)

Joanne @ Eats Well with Others.  Seriously funny blog with great recipes. Joanne is so unique and sweet.  I'm also jealous she lives in NYC.  

All Things Yummy. I actually just discovered this blog.  I am so happy I did though because she has some great recipes.  Go take a peek :)

SnoWhite @ Finding Joy in my Kitchen.  I'm so happy to have found this blog.  I love all the made from scratch recipes and have learned a lot.  Did you know you cook English Muffins on a griddle?  I always thought you baked them.  Nope!

Have a great weekend!!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

February Goals

So I've decided to make a list of goals for the month.  I was inspired by Lucy, and since we share a love of crossing things off of lists, I thought monthly goals would be a good way to get me motivated.

1.  Start exercising.  I'm not even putting a requirement on here of how often.  This month if I start...well that's progress.

2.  Finish reading The Omnivore's Dilemma, and blog about it.

3.  Stick to our grocery and eating out budgets for the month.  This is where we struggle the most!

4.  Catch up on old Glee episodes, in preparation for the new season.

5.  Try to not buy more than 5 bottles of wine when hubby and I go wine tasting in Traverse City for Valentine's Day weekend.

6.  Decide if I want to do a garden in the backyard and start the seeds early or buy the plants.

7.  Finalize air and hotel plans for our trip to Italy this October! Does anyone have any hotel suggestions for Rome and the Amalfi Coast?

8.  Post things that I need to sell on Craigslist.

Well, I guess that's it for now!  Can't wait to get some things crossed off!

Have a great day!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Healthy Apple Cinnamon Muffins

In my attempt to try to eat normal breakfast foods, unlike what I eat here, I am trying to find new recipes that I like.  I also want them to be healthy and filling. These muffins really hit the spot, and they don't taste like ground rock.  Always a plus!

Apple Cinnamon Muffins
One Dozen*


2 cups whole wheat flour**
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup honey or agave
1/4 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup lowfat milk or buttermilk
1 apple of choice, peeled cored and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and spray a muffin tin.  

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon.  
In a large bowl or mixer, whisk together the honey and oil.  Add the eggs, one at a time.  Whisk in the vanilla and applesauce.

Whisk in the flour in two batches alternating with the milk. Stir in the apple chunks. Pour mixture into muffin tins.  

In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, pecans, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. Sprinkle over top of the muffins.  

Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  

*This made 12 very large muffins for me.  You could probably get 18 smaller muffins if you'd like.  Just reduce the baking time a little.  

**To make an even lighter muffin you could use whole wheat pastry flour.  This is finer in texture.  However, it's a little pricey.  One trick that I do is let the flour run for a couple of minutes in the food processor.  It makes the regular whole wheat flour much finer.  This also works to make regular sugar into super-fine sugar.


This recipe is being shared at these great blogs:

Have a great day!