Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Back in the saddle again...

Y'all, I did it again. I totally flaked and haven't written a blog post in ages. Sometimes I wonder if anyone is really reading them anyway, but then I look at the stats and see that you are and I think, oh man, I need to get to writing.
I have been busy. I love when I can say that. Ever since we moved cross country I haven't been real busy. This last weekend we had visitors from Virginia. My oldest daughter's girlfriend, her mom, and her brother. It was so great to see my girl be with one of her besties again.
They had a great time together. They went shopping, to the movies and just hung out and had a lot of girl time. She has needed that lately and I am sure glad she got it.
I just love this girl. She is as sweet as can be and just a real all around good kid. We loved having her around in Virginia and have missed her.

On Sunday it was our 18 year wedding anniversary and I wanted to do something nice for the husband. The budget is tight so we weren't doing gifts, and I cook dinner every night so that wouldn't have been any different than I decided to make breakfast. I am not a breakfast girl. I eat pretzels for breakfast. True story. I wake up and have 3 pretzel rods every morning. I know it's weird but I am addicted to them and I eat them all day. Anyway, back to the breakfast entire family are breakfast lovers. They mostly love pancakes and waffles but I wasn't in the mood for making either one of those so I decided to make country sausage gravy, biscuits, scrambled eggs and some fresh fruit.
I made a lot of biscuits...remember we had 3 extra people here. We still have some left though.
I do love biscuits and gravy, just not in the morning. So even though everything looked real good, I didn't eat...well except for my pretzels :)
Oh by the way, the recipe for the really good sausage gravy that I made came from Pinterest and you can find it here.

After our company left and things settled down a bit I started getting caught up on my etsy orders. Which of course is always a good thing. I added a new product. I am making personalized binders and folders.
I made this set for Allison. I just love the bright colors.
I have just added a few new clipboards to my store too...
and a new sign or two...
It's good that I finished these things today because I just got an order for 15 clipboards, all done in USC colors. They are for a friend of mine that I went to middle school and high school with. He's a dentist in California and LOVES USC.

Before I go I have to share a link with you for a blog that has really touched my life lately. I think the author is my new hero, she inspires me an humbles me daily.
You have probably already heard of her, but if not go check it out.
You can find her website here

Monday, January 16, 2012

Wrapping up a four day weekend

Four day weekends with the kids is just perfect. It's not too long (I always feel Christmas break is a little long) and it's a little longer than the average 3 day so they kind of feel like they got a break.
 Tomorrow begins their second semester. My oldest is a Junior in high school...ugh. how can that be? My youngest is in 6th grade, first year of middle school. Can't quite believe that one either. My youngest asked me to pick up a few school supplies today while I was out and about. She only asked for a few things. My kids have been so good about knowing we live differently now and we are always on a tight budget, so she didn't ask for things that I knew she could use. I decided to surprise her and replace all her folders, her binder, mechanical pencils, a new pack of high lighters and a pack of 80's colored Sharpies. (their words not mine, that is how they are packaged! ha!) So I brought home all of her loot and had her close her eyes while I laid it all out on the table, which of course had I known this was going to be a blog post I would have taken pictures...and if she wasn't already in bed I would re-create it. Lol. It was that good. She was so excited, so grateful and just appreciative as can be. I love that. I love that things my kids took for granted for years are so exciting and new now. They have learned so much humility and gratefulness through all of this.
The binder and folder I bought were just the plain colored type. They were bright and springy but just plain. Well shoot, all you need is some vinyl and a cricut and you can fix that.
I polka dotted and labeled each of her folders. I added a yellow happy face to the hot pink folders and an orange peace sign to all the yellow folders. The font and graphics are from the cricut lite cartridge called 'Feeling Groovy'. I love this font and use often which is great because the 'lite' cartridges do not offer a lot of options on them and I was afraid it was going to be a waste of money.
Her binder just has her name and some white daisies on it. Wanted to keep it simple. Allison saw me doing these and asked if I could make some for her tomorrow. So off to Walmart again to get my other girl all set up and ready for a new semester.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

and this is how I roll...

Every once in a while, especially on the weekends I think to myself  that maybe I should change the name of my blog to 'too much time on my hands' (that one is actually taken) or maybe 'Nina needs a life'.
Don't get me wrong, I love my life. I am very happy. I am super blessed with two amazing kids, a great husband who is truly my best friend, and some awesome friends and family. My life, however is a little bit boring. Especially on the weekends. We don't leave the house often and we spend a lot of time just hanging out. Which probably accounts for my new found love of football. It wasn't so much a choice as it was circumstance. To make our football days a little bit more exciting I like to cook and pretend like every weekend is a football party. I make 'football' type food and serve it up party style. A few nights ago I made slow cooker carnitas. I have shared the recipe before here. They are super easy, very yummy and really good to make for a crowd. Since it makes so much I had leftovers. About an hour ago I was laying on the couch dosing off, I had a busy morning...ran a few errands, cleaned up a bit, worked in my office for a bit...anyway, I knew Allison was getting ready to go back to work (she often times works a double shift on Sundays) and I wanted to make sure that she had something to eat before she went to work. I remembered seeing a recipe on Pinterest for chimichangas. I knew I had the leftover carnitas so I thought I would give it a try. I added a can of pinto beans, and a handful of cheddar cheese to the leftover meat. I then put a few spoon fulls in each of four tortillas and rolled them and then shallow fried them. This is how they turned out-
They are really good. While they were cooking I also decided to make some guacamole and some chocolate dipped strawberries.
Well shoot, you have to have some fruit right? You can't ever go wrong with chocolate strawberries and if you are anything like me you always have a pack of melting chocolate in the pantry...never know when a chocolate dipping situation might come in handy.
So I am thinking it's a good thing football season is just about over. I had a dream the other night that I got on the scale after not weighing myself in 9 months and I weighed 250

Friday, January 13, 2012

Thank God I moved the south, I would have never known how much I love football!

If you are friends with me in real life or on facebook you know that I have a new found love. It's football. When we moved here to the upstate of South Carolina last year we learned very quickly that we were going to have to pick a team. Either Clemson, or University of South Carolina. Staying neutral round these parts is just about impossible. I mean here in the south we take our college football s.e.r.i.o.u.s. It is not a past time, it is a lifestyle. When you go out on a Saturday here in Greenville you quickly realize that there are mostly two sides with a few stragglers that like a few other southern teams. About forty percent of the people are wearing orange, forty percent of the people are wearing burgundy and the other 20 are wearing various other teams shirts and jerseys. Like Wofford, Furman, Georgia, and Tennessee. Those are about the most popular around here. People fly the flags out of their cars, they wear the clothes, they have several bumper stickers...I mean they just love their team.

Look at that sea of orange. I mean is that cool or what?
 After watching a game or two I realized that I was going to pick Clemson. The spirit at that school is infectious. I watched how the coach interacted with the players and I was real impressed. Clemson had a real good season and it was just great watching them. Unfortunately last week they lost at the Orange Bowl to WVU (that's West Virginia University for those of you who aren't in the know). It was not a great game, watching Clemson play so poorly was rough. It was as if  they didn't even show up. I was a little sad, but then I realized that football season wasn't over, we still had the pros!! Woo hoo! Since I have been so involved in the college stuff that I hadn't really chosen a team. Growing up I was a Cowboys fan. I didn't have a reason. It was mostly because my dad's family were all Cowboys fans. My Grandpa knew one of the owners, or the manager or maybe a coach, shoot I don't know, I just know that my cousin has pictures of himself on Roger Staubach's shoulders cause he met them at training. (I honestly am not even positive it was Staubach, but it was one of the big players from the 70's) anyway, to make this long football story even longer...sheesh, I have a lot to say about this game, don't I? Watching a few of the pro games last weekend I decided on my team...I am now a die hard, fleur de lis loving, black and gold wearing....SAINTS FAN. Yep, it happened that quick. It was love at first sight. I watched Drew Brees doing one of his chant things with his team before the game and that was all it took. I was hooked.

 He is just awesome. One thing I have learned that for me, I can't like a team if I am not crazy about the quarterback. I am crazy about Drew Brees. I mean don't get me wrong, I could have easily gone with the Broncos...that Tim Tebow is pretty cool. The only thing is the Broncos are not a southern team...and I have got to stay loyal to my southern roots. (I realize that my roots are not southern but just humor me okay, I like to pretend like I am a southern belle) So tomorrow Drew and the boys are playing at 4:30 est. and you can bet your sweet gumbo I am going to be watching. I will try to get some pictures of me in action during the game. I have been known to stand up and dance once in a while and maybe make some calls that are not even close to what is really happening in the game...oh well, I am learning.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Using up leftovers.

I love when we eat up the leftovers and I don't have to throw food out. Back in the day when we used to eat out more we used to throw so much food out and I always felt awful, like it was such a waste. Sometimes though you get sick o eating the same thing, right? Well night before last I made too many mashed potatoes, which you would think was kind of an oxymoron, especially with my family but it happened. I didn't want to have mashed potatoes two nights in a row so I thought I would make some potato pancakes. I had never made them before, I faintly remember my mom making them a couple times when I was a kid but that was it. I texted my friend Lori for her family's recipe, she's Jewish I figured I would get a leg up...turns out the use shredded potatoes, not mashed. I figured I would just wing it and make it up as I went along.
So here you go-
I used about ^^^ that much mashed potatoes...(how is that for winging it?) probably two cups of shredded cheese, two green onions, very finely chopped, two cloves of garlic, also very finely chopped and one egg (beaten). I mixed all of the ingredients and then added some salt and pepper.
I thought between the egg and the cheese I had enough binding ingredients, I guess I did, but it turns out mashed potatoes are VERY fragile.
This was the first batch that I cooked in 2 tablespoons of butter...the butter burned too quickly so I switched it up before the next batch, took them out, cleaned the pan and started again with 2 TBSP. of vegetable oil.
I didn't take another picture of them cooking though.
I had mine with a little dollop of sour cream, they were real yummy. Gianna and Chris loved them, Gianna said it's her new favorite. For some reason Allison wasn't a big fan. If you make them, come back and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A little freshening up is good for the soul...

After I took all the Christmas decorations down and cleaned everything up I took a step back at our family room and thought 'wow, everything is so dark'. Our home in California had a bigger, more open family room, it had lots of windows and we had white built-ins that my cabinet builder husband put in. Here there are no windows in the family room and the only shelving we have is black. So much of my decor is brown, black and red. Dark. Too dark for this room and quite frankly I wasn't feeling it anymore.

Here is the room...oh my gosh, I just saw my dog. Isn't she cute, trying to get in the picture.
 The more time I spend on Pinterest and in blog land I am so inspired by brighter, lighter colors. I went to Hobby Lobby yesterday to take a walk around and get some inspiration. I found this.
I took the picture with my phone so the colors aren't super vivid, but you get the idea. I then went and bought two cans of spray paint and came home on a mission. I pulled these things off my shelves and walls.

See how dark everything is? I took these things out to the garage and started painting. Umm, let's just say that spray painting isn't nearly as easy as it looks. In the past my aforementioned cabinet making husband has always been in charge of painting and finishing, it's not my department. At all. But of course he has a job and isn't home during the day when I get all these wild hairs. Dumb job getting in the way of my decorating.
I sanded this before I painted it since I knew that would be the first thing my husband asked me when I screwed it up "well, did you sand it first?" "why, yes, yes I did...and I STILL screwed it up"
This was the first coat for both of these. They both look much better now.
I let Gianna paint these since they were being painted with a brush and she is severely asthmatic an having her spray paint is border line child abuse. Although, it might be worth it cause there is a good chance she is better at it than I am.
Anyway, after seeing that painting wasn't going to my forte I woke up today with a new idea. I would make a box and a new tic tac toe board for my shelf. I can do that. I mean shoot, not only can I do it, I make a little business out of doing these things...yee haw, no more painting!
Here is a little tutorial on how to make yourself a cute little box.
I start with a plain wooden box (Hobby Lobby has a great selection). I pulled out about 15 different papers and narrowed it down to these 3.

next you are going to want to measure all sides of your box and write the measurements down, that way you won't have to do it fourteen more times. Trust me, I speak from experience.
After all of your pieces are cut you are ready to mod podge. I LOVE mod podge. I use it a.l.o.t.
If you haven't used it a lot let me give you a couple tips. Always brush the mod podge on both surfaces, the surface you are going to adhere to and the back of the paper. After you have your paper on the surface rub your hand across it several times working out any bubbles you might have and also squeezing any excess glue out.
When you first have all your paper down it looks kind of rough and unfinished...not impressive at all. No worries, a little bit of sandpaper and ink will fix that.
Thoroughly sand all the edges of your box. You want the edges of the paper to look like they are part of the box. Does that make sense? Well anyway, when you are done sanding your box will look like this-
See how it is kind of rough-ed up and shabby loooking? Well you can stop there if you would like or you can take it a step further and ink the edges.
This will give the edges a distressed look. Just rub the ink pad around all of the edges of the box. Everywhere that the paper and box come together should be inked.
Next, you can add some embellishments to the top or front if you would like. I had a sheet of some cute die cuts that came with one of the papers I used.
I was going to use the big one that my thumb is holding in this picture but then I decided to use two flowers instead.
I added the two flowers, brushed on a coat of mod podge over the entire box and then added a button center to each flower. Voila...a new knick knack and I didn't have to paint a thing. :)
Here is a picture of what my one shelving unit looked like before-
and here is what it looks like now-
Not a huge difference, it's pretty subtle but I think I am pretty happy with it. here is a close up of some of the things I (we, me and Gianna) made and painted.
This is a newer version of my tic tac toe board. I make these and sell them in my etsy store.
This is kind of like an every day snow globe. The picture inside is my Grandparents. Aren't they just the cutest couple?
I like the way the box works with the colors of my books. :)
I also painted the pedestal bowl thing but it really only looks good from afar. lol.
So that's it for today. I have been so inspired lately by other blogs so I am on a roll right now. I made a new side dish today, potato pancakes. I am going to share the recipe on here tomorrow.
Oh wait!! I have big news, I can't believe I almost forgot. Yesterday this girl got her drivers license.

That is my big girl. I realized yesterday that I don't really have any pictures of her on this blog. It's because for one, Gianna enjoys doing all the crafting, cooking and creating with me so she ends up being in all the pictures and for two Allison is a teenager, she works and she has a boyfriend.  I was very proud of her for getting her license and super nervous at the same time. We let her drive back to the school tonight to go to a wrestling match. I wasn't nearly as nervous as I thought I would be. She did great. She's growing up. Ugh.
Come back and visit tomorrow if you want to see the yummy potato pancake recipe and tutorial.
Linking this post up here

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Welcome Mr. New Year...can't wait to get to know you better.

First let me start by saying Happy NEW year! Y'all I just love a new year. It's all fresh and exciting and filled with possibilities. It's just great.
Today my girls and I went to Starbucks and as we were pulling out of the drive thru my youngest says "wait, hold on...let's make a toast" oh. my. gosh she is just so precious sometimes I want to just squeeze her. She went on to say "here is to a a great new year, not just financially but better all the way around, here is to seeing all of our friends and family in California and to happiness" she went on a little longer but I can't remember everything she said. It doesn't matter. It was just real cute.
We are not big New Year's party people, we always keep it pretty mellow. I mean some years he level of mellow is a little ridiculous, like last year in Virginia when we huddled together in the basement and fell asleep long before the ball dropped...but most years we get together with a few friends and play games. This year our new friends had the same idea and I was so glad they did. I should probably stop referring to them as our new friends, especially since this particular couple that we were with last night have felt like 'old friends' since the day we met them. They have been so good about including us in everything and making us feel right at home here in South Carolina. They are both natives and we just love hanging out with them and learning about our 'new' home state.
I asked my girlfriend what she wanted me to bring and she said she didn't care, whatever I wanted to make. At first I was going to make a cowboy casserole since it is one our very favorites but then I thought I should make my chicken enchiladas since I have been wanting to write a blog post and include the recipe anyway...see there-two birds, one stone.
My mom taught me how to make these enchiladas many, many years ago. They are always a big hit and many friends have asked for the recipe, so here it goes.
The stuff you'll need to gather together-
4 boneless/skinless chicken breasts (wash, dry and pound them)
1 large (24 oz) container sour cream
1 large (family size) can cream of chicken soup
3 cans chopped green chiles
2 large blocks of cheese, one cheddar and one jack
1 pack of corn tortillas (30-36 is good)

here is the visual of your supplies, just in case I forgot something...which I have been known to do
oh except the chicken isn't pictured here, it was over on the other counter recovering from the beating I had just given it.

Before you do anything, make sure you pound out your chicken and season it. Like I have said before I like my chicken seasoned, you could boil your chicken for these but that just doesn't sound too appetizing to me. I used "Monterey Chicken" and a little bit of cumin on mine. 
After your chicken is all seasoned, cover it with foil and put it back in the fridge while you complete the next several steps. This is when you will grate your cheese...which let me tell y'all that my life was changed yesterday when I got to this step. For Christmas my in laws got me a food processor. It has a cheese grating attachment. Ummm...awesome. I will never ever use an old fashioned cheese grater again. This bad boy whipped through those two blocks of cheese like a wood chipper through a maple. (I have no idea how fast a wood chipper goes but I thought it was kind of a country reference and I like to pretend I am country)

I mean come on, that is super cool.
After your cheese is grated you can make your sauce. It is so simple it's silly. Spoon your soup, the sour cream and the three cans of chiles into a medium sized sauce pan. Stir it all together real well and leave on low heat to simmer until you need it.
Now here is the ONLY tricky part of this recipe. The tortillas. It is important that you get this step right. You will take your tortillas one at a time and heat them in a little bit of oil. You aren't going to fry them like a tostada shell but just kind of heat them up so that when you bake them the edges will get crispy.
I took a picture of how much oil I put in the pan and I also timed it and you will start out doing this at about 20 seconds on each side, as the oil gets hotter you will only need to do it for about 10 seconds. You just want your tortilla to get a little bubbly and golden brown.

As you go through the tortillas place them on a stack of paper towels to get the excess oil off. I also blot the top of them as I stack them so as not to have any extra oil pooling on the tortillas.
Now I pull the chicken out of the fridge and cook the chicken. When the weather is nicer and I am not out of propane for the grill I usually just grill them out on the barbecue. But alas, we keep forgetting to fill the tank so I just cooked them on the stove top. I didn't put any oil in the pan, just sprayed it with Pam.
By the way, I think it's worth mentioning at this point, these are a little bit of work for your typical week night meal, but no worries- there are a couple of short cuts. I have used Costco rotisserie chicken many times and pre-grated cheese also. This cuts your time down and they are still very tasty. I just prefer the way freshly grated cheese melts and when I am making these for a crowd I like to cook my own chicken.
After it is all cooked you will want to chop it up.
Now you are ready to assemble these bad boys. I set everything up on the counter like this-
This is the order of ingredients that I go in-
After you are all ready your lined cookie sheet will look like this-
Put them in the oven at 375 for about 30 minutes and when they are all bubbly and golden brown they will look like this-
Don't those just look yummy?
While I was at the store yesterday buying the ingredients for the enchiladas I decided I wanted to try to make my own homemade salsa. I bought a bunch of tomatoes, cilantro, a few peppers and an onion.
Don't those ingredients just say 'fresh'. I just love fresh homemade salsa. The only problem is, I have tried to make it before and it hasn't worked real well. So when I got home I went to Pinterest (of course) and searched salsa. I found this recipe. In the future I will make sure that I search Pinterest BEFORE going to the store, because of course I didn't have all the ingredients that this particular recipe called for but I loved the idea of roasting the veggies first. I just went ahead and used what I had and followed the directions of the recipe I had pinned.
This is what the veggies looked like after I roasted them at 375 for about 40 minutes. I threw them all into my new favorite kitchen appliance and this is what it looked like after I added the cilantro too.
The only thing I would do different next time is maybe add a few more tomatoes and a little more salt.
I just tasted some right now and it is better today than it was yesterday.
Well this post has gotten real lengthy...I want to leave you with just a few more pics of our New Year's celebration and the wish for a wonderful, prosperous, healthy 2012.

Last but not least our fireworks...these are not from the city or an amusement park...these are the kind they shoot off at HOME here in South Carolina. Oh people, have I mentioned how much I love being a southerner?