Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2015 Goals

1. Earn money
2. Redo the kitchen
3. Learn to knit

These are somewhat connected: me earning money helps to finance the kitchen remodel.  My plans to earn money include selling quilts and getting a job.  2015 will be interesting!

I have wanted to learn to knit for 10 years and 2015 will be the year it happens!

I'm keeping them short & sweet this year to help make sure I actually reach my goals.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Decorating the House For the First Time

This is my first year decorating the house for Christmas and it is so much fun!  Here is the house all lit up:

Here is the front door:

And here is Banjo watching us from inside as she does every time one of us takes the dogs out:

The coat rack has been Christmas-ized:

As has the buffet:
Here is my post showing how I made my little "forest."

We put up some lights between the living and dining rooms: 

Here is the dining room table:

The kitchen is Christmas-y:

And so is my nightstand (the lamp is open on the bottom):

It is probably cost-prohibitive to get a roof rack on my car at this point.  So this is how we bring home Christmas trees:

And here it is up and decorated: 

I'll be posting about how I made my tree skirt soon!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Nailed It

My take:


Flipped them over and all of the filling proceeded to run out and burn:

Recipe Girl's finished result:
My take (after all the filling ran out & burned I squirted on some more):


Pinterest Apple Braid:
My take:


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

What to Serve At A New Years Eve Party

I'm partial to what I like to call Chip & Dip Parties.  There's no big meal, just a million appetizers.  They're always my favorite part and this way you're free to fill up on them and not have to save room for the dinner.  And a New Years Party goes late, so you can have the hot appetizers come out periodically as the night goes on.

Guacamole - My friend makes THE BEST guacamole.  She made it for my wedding and discovered that if you put all of the lime juice onto the top as the last step and wait to stir it in until serving time that it prevents it from browning. Protective Lime Layer™.  Mash up avocados, mix in pico de gallo, add garlic, lots of salt, and lots of lime juice all to taste and you're good to go!

Salsa - I'm a fan of pico de gallo, but buy whichever kind you like.

Hummus - top it with olive oil and paprika to be traditional

Veggie Tray - include sugar snap peas if you can

Cheese Plate - I love cheese.  End of story. 

Individualized Taco Dip - this stops the dip from looking really gross at the night goes on. You don't really need a recipe for this, just use your favorite layers: refried beans, guacamole, sour cream, salsa, cheese, olives, green onions etc

Caprese Bites by Shutterbean - these are a little more party-friendly than the traditional salad

Raspberry Jam Baked Brie - I was inspired by this picture, but I am going to use raspberry jam instead

Spinach Artichoke Dip by - my all time favorite dip of any kind

Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Mushrooms  - this is a new recipe that I'll make, but won't eat (I'm vegetarian and also hate mushrooms)


Boozy Punch - I served this at my wedding and it was a big hit.  It's almost dangerously drinkable.

24 oz. orange juice
24 oz. white grape juice 

32 oz. ginger ale
12 oz. lemon-lime pop (7 Up or Sprite)
Rum to taste

Optional - lemon or lime slices

Moscow Mules - A drink that is new to me and so very delicious

Monday, December 22, 2014

What's Been Sounding Yummy to Me Lately

Every time I find a recipe that looks good I keep it open in a tab on Chrome in my phone.  Recently I had over 30 tabs open and I thought I should gather them all up here.

Here are ones that I've made before and plan on making for dinner in this week:

These are so easy, yummy, and quick to put together for a week night dinner: 

Hearty Black Bean Quesadillas by Budget Bytes 

This is the greatest baked potato soup I've ever had.  However before I pureed the soup I scooped out about half of the broth and I'm glad I did because I like a creamier, thicker soup. I have made this in the crock pot and in a dutch oven on the stove. It's great either way:
Loaded Baked Potato Soup by

I used the broth reserved from the Potato Soup as the broth in this amazing Tortilla Soup recipe.  I did one cup milk and 1 cup broth, added in a can of white northern beans instead of the chicken, and used an entire recipe of this delicious enchilada sauce.  And to actually get some tortillas into this soup I cut them up into little pieces and pan fried them in some olive oil as a crunchy soup topper.  I HIGHLY recommend doing this!

I haven't made these before, but they are coming up soon in one way or another:

Roasted Tomato Pesto Grilled Cheese by Joy the Baker

Hasselback Potatoes with Spinach Cashew Pesto by Joy the Baker

How to Make A Simple Salad Worth Eating by Serious Eats

Moroccan Lentil Vegetable Stew by Budget Bytes

Irish Brown Bread by Irish American Mom

Cheese Puffs by Ina Garten 

I am in Christmas cookie mode right now, but I want to start working on these in January:


Apple Pie Biscuits by Joy the Baker

Triple Berry Cinnamon Swirl Bread by Joy the Baker 

Smore Pie by Dinner A Love Story

Milky Way Cake by The Pioneer Woman 

Salted Caramel Apple Pie by the Cooking Channel 

I used these tips recently to finally have a successful homemade pie crust for the first time: 
Five Tips for the Best From Scratch Pie Crust by Joy the Baker

Friday, December 19, 2014

Fixing Up A Wood Table Without Refinishing It

 The day before Corey's birthday dinner I set aside the whole day for cleaning (well 80% cleaning and 20% food prep).  That shows you how dirty my house was.  When I get on a roll with something I get A LOT done.  One of the random unexpected things I did once I got into Cleaning Mode was fix up my wood dining room table without refinishing it. 

This table was the table my mom used growing up and that I used growing up.  My brother used for awhile, too.  The point is that it's old and it's seen a lot of abuse.  Here is the sorry state of before:

This is the table with all of the leaves in it which is why the one part is so much darker than the others.  It is the least-used leaf.

Materials I Used:
  • razor blade
  • vinegar
  • olive oil
  • Vaseline
  • Formby's lemon oil

What an odd list, huh?  I used some pins I had pinned on Pinterest to plan my attack.

1. First I mixed a 50-50 mixture of vinegar and olive oil because Pinterest told me to.  I wiped it all over the table and it gave everything a nice sheen and cleaned it up a bit.

2. Then I put Vaseline on all the white water damage spots because Pinterest told me to.  There were a LOT of these spots.  I put Vaseline on any sort of discoloration and it worked wonders.

3. Then I slowly scraped off the paper spot with a razor blade.  Then I put Vaseline on it and let it sit for awhile.

I got down to the actual LETTERS from whatever that paper is!  I ever so carefully scraped them off too and it's like the paper was never there!

Then I wiped off the Vaseline in all the areas that it hadn't fully soaked in.  It did wonders on all but the very worst spots!  It must put some moisture back into the wood or something so they don't look so light anymore.

Finally I put on a coat of Formby's lemon oil treatment.

I can't believe how much better it looks!  Those really bad spots probably need to be refinished, but for a little bit of work it looks a million times better.

Here is the table all set the night before the birthday dinner:

And here is a before and after: