Saturday, January 31, 2009

Souper Saturday Gone Awry

Earlier this week we had a delicious pot roast. I used Pioneer Woman's instructions. It was good, very good. There was a nice sized hunk leftover, and I immediately earmarked it for Souper Saturday, to make vegetable beef. I've been looking forward to it all week. After all, the last time I made it, we all liked it, and I only used deli beef.

But somehow or other, it just wasn't that good. I'm no gourmet, but I consider myself a decent cook, and it's really not very often that something doesn't turn out. It was edible, but we didn't go back for seconds. I didn't even bother to rate it.

I'm really not sure what the problem was. I used the same basic recipe as before, except that I did it in the crockpot, and I now realize that I didn't use onion powder like last time, and I added peas. There was just something, some little je ne sais quoi, that tasted a little off. Not spoiled; just not tasty. I wondered if it was the beef soup base; I used the same one, but maybe I used too much or something? Dunno.

So there you have it. My first Souper Saturday flop. Too bad. It looked good.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

True Love

I love my sofa. In fact, I'm hooked on it and I'm going to link up with Julia's Hooked on Fridays. We've had it for 9 years this month. My sister has the same sofa, and my dad and stepmom have the loveseat. We like to keep it in the family. I love that it is big and comfy. I love that it is a perfect golden-toned neutral, but still has a pretty design to add texture and interest.

I also have the matching chair-and-a-half and ottoman. Some people might say that's too matchy matchy, but I consider it one of the best design decisions I've ever made.

You see, the chair and ottoman as made by the manufacturer (Broyhill) came in the same fabric as the throw pillow below. I had them make all three pieces in the same neutral.

My sister has the floral chair. It's pretty, and fits her cozy style.

But my furniture has been our main seating in 8 different houses. Most of them were rentals, some with different colored walls, some with different colored carpet (see photo of Firstborn, above). Some of them I have been allowed to paint, some not.

Every time I wanted or needed it to fit in somewhere else, I just changed out the throw pillows. The dotted ones in browns and aquas (above) were lucky finds at Goodwill when we were in our last house and our living room was painted Restoration Hardware's Silver Sage. They probably were the stock throw pillows that came with somebody else's new couch and didn't go with their decor.

This furniture has served me well. It has looked good in every house. It goes with anything, and I never got tired of the upholstery. It's also super comfortable. Because let's face it: looking good only gets a sofa so far. Beauty is more than skin deep.

Alas, after nine years and seven amateur moves, it's getting worn. They don't show up too well in the picture, but there are several areas verging on holes.

It's really taken a hit in the last 16 months because of this.

What to do? I really don't want to replace it. I can't really afford to, either. We aren't poor, but we don't buy on credit anymore. However, this month we have a looser cash flow because of refinancing our house (5%, yay!) and not having to make a mortgage payment for February. I'm not saying it would be the smart thing to do with the 'extra' money, necessarily, but I'm toying with the idea of having slipcovers made. I can sew, but I won't tackle this one. I'd want it done by a professional.

That would create the problem of choosing a new fabric. I've been eyeing this toile by Waverly for some time and thinking about making window treatments with it. Would it be too much on a sofa? Instead of the window treatments, I mean.
Or maybe something like this, also from Waverly.

Decisions, decisions. Of course, I guess the first step would be to see if it is even economically feasible.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Parade of Homes Part 1: 1992-1994

Today I'm going to begin a little series chronicalling all of the places Handsome and I have lived since we were married in 1992. I have been wanting to do this since I started this blog, but it's taken me this long to find some of the photos. The idea had its origins back when I was still a scrapbooker and at some point realized that my children had lived in a different house for each of their years of life. I wanted to do a scrapbook specifically about all the places we had lived. I have long since gotten out of the scrapbooking business (just ask Skippy). So this will be my virtual scrapbook.

Handsome and I were married (as I mentioned) in 1992, in Phoenix. We were 21, more or less jobless, and broke. We had one really junky car. I worked for Kelly Temp Services and needed to be able to drive pretty much anywhere, and Handsome was waiting tables and attending community college. These apartments were right across the street from the school.

We lived on the second floor (sing with name is Luka...) and a look at their website today reveals that our one bedroom apartment was 456 sq ft. Aak! It was, shall we say, cozy. Our rent was $230 a month--unreal! That was actually a deal even then; if we had ever paid late, it would've gone up $80/mo. But it's still only $425 today.

(I should've mentioned that the photos will be poor quality today, as I had to photograph my scrapbook. Sorry about the glare.) Actually, that looks quite lush and lovely, considering that this is what we have outside today...

To that time the apartments came furnished, which was great for us since all we had was a bed and a dresser. It had a balcony front and back, with these pretty shuttered French doors. I found the fabric at Walmart for about $2/yd and covered the gray velour couch using a staple gun. I also made the window toppers. So '90s.

The apartment was one room wide, maybe 12ft. The front door entered the living room, and as you walked through you came to the tiny galley kitchen on one side (it was the dishwasher door width from one side to the other), with a small dining area across from it. Through a door was the bath/bedroom area. The commode and tub were on one side, with a door, and the sink/vanity/linen closet were directly across from that with no door. Then it was into the bedroom. It just occured to me that I can copy the floorplan from the website.

Okay, that was easy. No matter how small it was, it's always had a special place in my heart. It was, after all, our first place. Which reminds me, I'm always somewhat amazed when I watch those HGTV shows (like My First Place) and these 20-something kids are buying big four bedroom homes. I think I have a little envy, really, as my home ownership dreams were a long time in coming. But that's what this series is about.

So, we lived in this little apartment for two years, at which time we moved halfway across the country for Handsome to continue his education.

To be continued...

Monday, January 26, 2009

One Small Step...

It's my dirty little secret. I am disorganized. Although my type A personality dearly wants order and perfection, at the same time it paralyzes me because if the end result won't be perfection (and I know it won't), then why even bother? I know; sick, right?

Exhibit A: the counter top area next to the fridge. At least it's hidden and can't be seen unless you're right in front of it. But I was starting to have problems finding things when I needed them. Today's project in general was the kitchen, and as part of that I decided to tackle this.

Lots of the papers stacked up are coupons from the Sunday paper. It's been so long since I actually cut them out that I'm sure a large portion of them are already expired. I wouldn't let myself buy a paper yesterday because of this, until I get it under control. The black wire file-thingy on the right was Handsome's attempt to help me organize the incoming paper flow from school. It's labeled and everything. It just didn't work for me. Or I just didn't work it.

The white plastic thing on the far right is magnetic and sticks to the side of the fridge. I've had it for about 10 years. I keep stamps, scrap paper, restaurant coupons, and some memorabilia in it. It is a mess itself, but it corrals all those things and I know where they are. A while ago, the magnet came off, and it's just been sitting on the counter ever since.

So here's Exhibit B: the same space, after.

I hot-glued the magnet back to the white thing and stuck it back on the fridge. Then I unearthed my IKEA Utsaga buckets and rail from the depths of the basement and hung it up. I've had this for about 6 or 7 years and used it in every house during that time. Usually it's almost the first thing I put up. It holds all the pens, pencils etc, and will look somewhat messy itself before too long. I looked on the website, and it appears that they don't carry it anymore, but there are some similar systems, like Grundtal and Bygel. (Editing to add: this one looks even more like.) Oh, IKEA, how I love thee! I'm feeling the urge to make a trip to Chicago...

I used a binder clip to hold the wire to my cellphone charger, and now I can rest my phone on the rail while it charges. I also found some generic in/out boxes in the basement to hold Buzz books and church directories. I will try very hard to keep from stuffing any and all random papers in there.

Okay, so that's an improvement. But guess what I still have to do? Sort through all those papers that are now sitting on the kitchen table. Sigh.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Souper Saturday--Black Bean [Vegetable]

For tonight's soup offering, I started with this recipe from allrecipes.

Black Bean Vegetable
Submitted by: DeeDee


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (8.75 ounce) can whole kernel corn
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can stewed tomatoes


  1. In large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat; cook onion, garlic, and carrots, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until onion is softened. Add chili powder and cumin; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add stock, 1 can of the beans, corn, and pepper; bring to boil.
  2. Meanwhile, in food processor or blender, puree together tomatoes and remaining can of beans; add to pot. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until carrots are tender.
My changes:
  • used 1 carrot, shredded
  • used 2-3 cloves garlic
  • used beef broth instead of vegetable
  • did not add corn
  • used diced tomatoes (didn't have stewed)
  • added a few dashes chipotle Tabasco
  • added about 4oz tomato sauce I had in fridge
After adding the broth and one can of beans, I pureed the whole thing with the tomatoes so I got the onions and carrots too. Then I added the remaining can of beans (not pureed). Since I used beef instead of vegetable broth and did not add the corn, I can't really keep the 'vegetable' in the name.

Handsome 7.8(he insists on the .8)
Me 7
Firstborn 6.5
Skippy 8
Pinkerbelle 10

Average 7.86

Surprisingly well-received by all!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Opinions Needed

I have always wanted hardwood floors, but financially, it just ain't gonna happen. I'd even settle for laminate, but it is also fairly pricey. So lately I've seen this vinyl plank flooring several places, and it looks good, and people seem to be happy with it. Pink and Polka Dot did her kitchen recently and today blogged about the process.

While I was out this morning, I stopped at Lowe's and picked up an individual plank of each of the three colors that my store had, at $.98 each. I do have a little patch of actual hardwood just inside my front door. For comparison's sake, I set the vinyl planks on top of it.

You can see that the one on the right is a pretty good match. Amazingly good, actually. However, what the would-be new floor really needs to look good with are the kitchen and powder room cabinets (which are the same).

Above is the vinyl laying in the powder room.

Here they are in the kitchen, and then below, each individually next to the kitchen cabinets. Okay, for some amazingly annoying and unknown reason, Picasa and/or Blogger will not allow me to save the bottom two photos in the upright position. Hopefully you can get a feel for the colors sideways.

I don't know...if it matches too well, then it will just be a sea of the same color. But none of the three really jumps out at me as having enough contrast while still looking good together. What do you think?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Panino Molto Buon

While I was eating my lunch today, I was thinking this is so good, I really should blog about it, so here you go. The idea for this sandwich came from a Better Homes and Gardens Special Interests publication having to do with Italian food, which I checked out of the library several months ago. But of course I don't actually follow the recipe.

Let me also preface this with a little info: after church one Sunday a couple months ago, Handsome ran in to the grocery store for lunch fixins and came out with salami and a big loaf of French bread, in addition to the regular turkey and swiss cheese. Salami and white bread of any kind are not the norm in this household, so the kids felt like it was a treat, and being creatures of habit have asked for "special sandwiches" every Sunday since. Thus another tradition was born.

Now, often the French (or Italian) bread and salami are pretty much gone after the one lunch on Sunday, and if there's any left Firstborn snags it for his school lunch Monday. So my being able to make this sandwich is the outcome of a rare alignment of the stars which results in leftovers of both the bread and the salami.

First you need to make the onion relish: slice red onions, and cover with balsamic vinegar, olive oil (I'd say probably 1 T balsamic, 2 T oil, or similar ratio), salt, pepper and a dash of oregano. If you have black olives, add these too. You can use it immediately, but it improves with a little marinating time.

Next, take your bread and slice it in half. Brush both outsides with a little olive oil. Spread insides with pesto (I used a jar that I bought at an Italian market). Add turkey (or other deli meat, I suppose), and salami. Top with as much of the onion relish as you like, and either provolone or mozzarella cheese. Replace the top slice of bread and grill on the George Foreman, or a panini grill.

Mmmm. You would easily pay $7 for this sandwich at a restaurant. It was so good that I couldn't stop myself to take a picture until I was almost done. Try it, you'll like it!

I'm hooking up with Julia's Hooked On linky because I'm hooked on this sandwich!

Monday, January 19, 2009

My First Award!

I'd like to thank the academy, my family, and most of all my fans.....

ALVN of WhisperWood Cottage gave me the Lemonade Award! Thank you so much...I'm so excited!

What this award is about...

Bloggers who show great attitude and gratitude.

What you have to do...

Upon receiving The Lemonade Award, you also pass it on to other bloggers who you think show great attitude and gratitude. Here are the rules:
1. Put the logo on your blog or post.

2. Nominate at least 10 blogs which show great Attitude and/or Gratitude!

3. Link to your nominees within your post.

4. Let them know that they have received this award by commenting on their blog.

5. Share the love and link to this post and to the person from whom you received your award.
This award is being passed on to...
1. Mandi@Miss(es) Canadian Pie
2. gina@an unpink life
3. Dawn@Dawn's Diversions
4. Lucy@Lucy's Life
5. Linda@Restyled Home
6. Julia@Hooked on Houses
7. Shannon@Bless Our Nest
9. Rhoda@Southern Hospitality
10. Amy and Katie@Bringing the Highlands Home

These ladies all have fun blogs that I have enjoyed for their frugal tips, decorating ideas, and life in general (and in the case of my nieces, their year in Scotland). I'm sure you'd enjoy them too!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Souper Saturday

Handsome is at an all-day continuing education course today, so it was just me and the kids for supper. Yesterday as I was on the mend, I started craving that really yummy homemade chicken noodle we had a few weeks ago. Problem was, there was no leftover roasted chicken.

Instead, I boiled a couple frozen chicken breasts and added all the other usual stuff (onion, carrots, celery, etc), and proceeded as last time from there. I knew that the broth made from boiling boneless, skinless chicken breasts would not be anywhere near the real deal. I added a can of chicken broth to it, but it was still mediocre.

The kids didn't seem to notice the difference, and were happy to eat the soup. I could definitely tell, and was vastly underimpressed. Maybe, maybe, it would've been improved if I had had a good chicken soup base to add instead of just canned broth. But I'm thinkin' that if you really want a chicken broth that'll stand on it's own, it's gotta have bones (so to speak). Here endeth the lesson.

Oh, and I feel I must confess...the first photo of my kitchen in yesterday's post was taken before we moved in. That's not how it looks every day; but neither is the second photo!

Friday, January 16, 2009

From the Trenches

This is my kitchen.

This is my kitchen on drugs.

In other words, when mama's out of commission. Yes, that's still a Christmas tree and a wilting poinsettia behind the sink. Sad. The children have pretty much been on their own for breakfast, making school lunches, and after school snacks for the last few days. Handsome is always a big help, but he had a wisdom tooth out on Tuesday and hasn't been up to par either. Then last night an old friend was in town, and Handsome met him at a restaurant and was out until 9 pm. So the kids were on their own for supper too. Didn't anybody teach them to clean up after themselves? I thought I did.

In the interest of keepin' it real, as they say, let's take a little tour. You remember that story about the wife who's husband thought she had it easy staying home, so she decided to kick back one day. When he got home the place was a disaster and he said what happened and she said oh, I did nothing all day. This is kind of like that.

The family room. This is where the kids park it after school. Not the worst ever, actually.

Our bedroom. (Okay, full disclosure. This is definitely worse than usual, but not as much as you might think. I always make my bed, though!)

Our bathroom.

I expected the laundry to be overflowing, but surprisingly not. Is anybody changing their clothes? Their underwear, at least? Please?

I'm feeling some better this morning, and so far no fever. Thank you for your well wishes!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Under the Weather

Doesn't it look like a nice day? Sunny, not a cloud in the sky.

It's also 11 degrees, and I imagine that's the high for today. Very cold.

No matter to me, though, because I have spent the last two days sick in bed. So, I apologize for this lame post, but it's about all I can handle right now.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Thrift Store Roundup

Other than my one stop at Goodwill last week, I haven't been to a thrift store since before Christmas. My reasoning, and I think it's sound logic, is that if I don't go in, I won't spend money on anything. I'm brilliant!

However, Dixie was headed out to my end of the metroplex today on an errand, and asked if I wanted to meet up with her. Of course! We met in the Goodwill parking lot, and, you know, since we were there decided to go in.

I found this new-from-Target down/feather filled throw pillow for $3.99 (these go for $15-20+ at Target). I don't really care about the cover, because they will eventually be recovered to go with the new bedroom decor whenever we get around to that, but this one happened to coordinate with my current bed linens.

It has a silk-like sheen and pleats. I've started to amass a nice little collection of feather throw pillows from thrift stores. It's just a nice step up from polyfill, but I would not want pay full price for it.

I also got these two lambswool sweaters; the navy is brand new Land's End and was $2 at Goodwill, and the multi-stripe is Gap and was $1.55 at United Volunteers. They are both very nice sweaters, but I don't plan use them as such. Dixie recently introduced me to Betz White and her book Warm Fuzzies. She takes wool sweaters and felts them and uses the resulting fabric to make the cutest things. So that's what these are intended for.

My final and most exciting purchase....ta-da! Scrabble tiles!

I have been wanting to make those Scrabble tile pendants that I've seen all over the place, and have been looking for a Scrabble game for several months. Last night in an email to Dixie, we agreed to both keep an eye out, and if one of us found one, we would split it.

Today at United Volunteers, a place I have looked many times before, there was a practically new Scrabble game for $2! Then when we divvied up the tiles, there was actually two games' worth, so we each got 100 tiles for $1. That's a lot of pendants!

I've got a lot of stuff to get working on!

Monday, January 12, 2009


I can't believe I haven't posted since Thursday! I didn't even have a Souper Saturday because we were out at a small group meeting. I'm having a hard time coming up with an original post today for some reason, I've got a ton of housework to do, and the children will be home from school in an hour so...
I'm going to do a meme, which I've seen around, but specifically got from Isela's blog. Copy and paste and highlight (bold) the ones you've done.

1. Started your own blog

2. Slept under the stars

3. Played in a band

4. Visited Hawaii

5. Watched a meteor shower

6. Given more than you can afford to charity

7. Been to Disneyland

8. Climbed a mountain

9. Held a praying mantis

10. Sang a solo

11. Bungee jumped

12. Visited Paris (I suppose a layover at the airport doesn't count...)

13. Watched a lightning storm at sea

14. Gone rollerskating

15. Adopted a child

16. Had food poisoning

17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty

18. Grown your own vegetables

19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France

20. Slept on an overnight train

21. Had a pillow fight

22. Hitch hiked

23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill

24. Built a snow fort

25. Held a lamb

26. Gone skinny dipping

27. Run a marathon

28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice

29. Seen a total eclipse

30. Watched a sunrise or sunset

31. Hit a homerun

32. Been on a cruise

33. Seen Niagara Falls in person

34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors

35. Seen an Amish community

36. Taught yourself a new language

37. Acted in a play or performed on stage

38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person

39. Gone rock climbing (sort of; Handsome and I climbed a small cliff impromptu, no equipment, until we looked down and decided we were idiots)

40. Seen Michelangelo’s David

41. Sung karaoke

42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt

43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant

44. Visited Africa

45. Walked on a beach by moonlight

46. Been transported in an ambulance

47. Had your portrait painted

48. Gone deep sea fishing

49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person

50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris

51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling

52. Kissed in the rain (I'm going to say yes to this with qualifiers...kissed in the falling snow, and kissed in the sprinklers on a golf course)

53. Played in the mud

54. Gone to a drive-in theater

55. Been in a movie

56. Visited the Great Wall of China

57. Started a business

58. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment

59. Visited Russia

60. Served at a soup kitchen

61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies

62. Gone whale watching

63. Got flowers for no reason

64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma

65. Gone sky diving

66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp

67. Bounced a check

68. Flown in a helicopter

69. Saved a favorite childhood toy

70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial

71. Eaten caviar

72. Pieced a quilt (never finished it)

73. Stood in Times Square

74. Toured the Everglades

75. Been fired from a job

76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London

77. Broken a bone

78. Been on a speeding motorcycle

79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person

80. Published a book

81. Visited the Vatican

82. Bought a brand new car

83. Walked in Jerusalem

84. Had your picture in the newspaper

85. Read the entire Bible once

86. Visited the White House

87. Won money

88. Had chickenpox

89. Saved someone’s life

90. Sat on a jury

91. Met someone famous

92. Joined a book club

93. Had to put someone you love in Hospice Care

94. Had a baby

95. Seen the Alamo in person

96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake

97. Been involved in a law suit

98. Owned a cell phone

99. Been stung by a bee

100. Read an entire book in one day

Well, that just proves it....Booorr--inngg!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

I Heart Pottery Barn

I have for many years been in love with Pottery Barn. I have wandered the stores. I have gathered the paint chips. I have collected the catalogs, flipping longingly through the pages, wondering how I could somehow recreate the look in my home(s). My home(s) that does/did not have the hardwood floors, the 12 foot ceilings, the interesting nooks, the pedestal sinks; basically having nothing that is essential to the PB "look". Most importantly, the bank account.

PB is too rich for my blood. I love the look, but not the price tag.

Several years ago, I uncharacteristicly got into a last-seconds bidding war on ebay for a PBKids quilt for Pinkerbelle's new big-girl bed. I ended up paying a little more than I wanted to, but I won!

She has used it in four different houses, but recently I passed our down comforter on to her when we replaced it with a larger one, and I wanted a duvet cover for her. I spent a couple months looking. I was going to make it out of sheets if need be, but couldn't even find sheets that were cute enough at a good enough price.

Just before Christmas I was in Goodwill, and took a quick look through the linens. I missed it the first time, but on my second pass, there it was. Something was an actual duvet cover...and it was the right size (f/q)...and linens were 25% off that day! Awesome! It ended up being $15. That was a good price, even for Goodwill. A steal! But, when I got it home and looked for the tag with the washing instructions, I discovered...the authentic Pottery Barn tag! Be still my heart! Now I love it even more!

Her room is unfinished, so I'm not going to show the whole bed, but here is the cover, in all its heavy cotton/linen loveliness.

Yesterday I was at the same Goodwill and they had two of these Pottery Barn Kids chairs for $9 each. They were pink. I really thought about it hard, really hard, but in the end, I didn't get them. We have quite a few child-size chairs still, and I just didn't need them. I remember them being in the catalog, but it must have been a while ago, because the one and only mention of them that I could find online was this ad on the Denver craigslist. If you're in the Denver area, and quick, she's selling the whole set of 4 chairs and a table.

Chapter 2: one PB item that I have been coveting for the last 4 or 5 years is the PB Grand Phone. I originally wanted the wall-mounted one in red, to create this phone center that appeared in the March 2005 issue of Southern Living.

I did do the chalkboard paint, and even the red shelf above it, but had to use a plain, modern black phone. That was three houses ago, and this is a photo of a photo. You can't even see the phone, but it's next to the calendar.

They don't carry the red anymore, and I later decided I wanted the metal finish anyway. But I did not want to pay $79 for it. So for months I have been regularly watching ebay for a good deal. They often sell for nearly as much as brand new. Last week, though, I stumbled upon a just-listed buy-it-now EUC (excellent used condition) for $24.99. I snatched it up before someone else could. It's heavy, so shipping was $13, but that's still pretty good.

It arrived the other day, and I love it! The handset feels substantial, it rings like a real phone (not the modern techno screechy sound), and, let's face it, it just looks cool! And, in fact, I think I'm probably a little more cool now myself because of it.

What is not cool is that it just took me over an hour to write this post!

Julia at Hooked on Houses is have a Hooked on Fridays blog party...check it out!