Saturday, August 24, 2013

Secret ingredient- Mashed Potatoes

     I'm pretty much world famous for my mashed potatoes. Ok.... That just really means that my husband loves them. :-) But anyways. There is definitely an art and a secret ingredient to getting delicious mashed potatoes like mine!

     -Wash and cut into chunks 4-5 potatoes. 
     -Remove any bad spots. 
           I leave the skins on the potatoes because I like the texture of having them in my mashed        potatoes. And also its just the way my mama made mashed potatoes!
    -Place in a pot and cover with water
    -Over medium heat, boil until the potatoes are tender. 
    -Turn on oven to 400 degrees F.

This is the part where the magic happens! 
    -Drain the water off of the potatoes and add to the pot:
         2 Tbs. butter
         2 Tbs. sour cream
         3 oz. cream cheese
         1/4 tsp. garlic powder
         1/2 tsp. parsley flakes
         1 Tbs. milk
               And finally add the secret ingredient!!!
         1 Tbs. italian dressing---not the off brand nasty stuff. The real deal. Wishbone Italian Dressing :-)
    -Use a hand mixer to blend everything together and make the potatoes nice and fluffy!
    -Butter a 1 - 1 1/2 qt. baking dish and spoon the potatoes in. Then place a few dots of butter on top and a sprinkling of parsley flakes. 

Bake for about 30 minutes or until the top is a nice golden brown and is kind of crusty on top! YUMMY!  Now enjoy your secret ingredient mashed potatoes. Trust me. People will ask you how you made them so delicious!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Homemade anniversary gift

    Daniel and I recently celebrated our anniversary!!! It was very different than how we usually celebrate. This year he had to work and then the evening was spent at church and then baby didn't want to sleep at all that night. However, we ate lunch together and exchanged what was supposed to be small gifts since we are on a tight budget! Daniel broke the spending rules and bought me a lovely bracelet and flowers!! I think I'll forgive him though! :) I had decided to make his gift since we weren't supposed to spend much money.
     A couple weeks ago I wrote things I loved or appreciated about him on sticky notes and plastered them all over the windows of his car while he was at work. He really liked that so I decided to take the things I wrote down and make it into something that he can keep, instead of a bunch of sticky notes. 
     There have been some tutorials on Pinterest and also here about a deck of cards used to make a book similar to what I did. However, I didn't have the budget to go buy stuff to make it all cutesy. And I figured it was a gift for my husband and he doesn't really care about cutesy. So I used only things I had on hand.

- cheap deck of cards
- pen
- scissors 
- card stock
- sharpie (or any marker)
- glue stick or tape
- hole punch
- string

     I cut pieces of card stock to fit on one side of the playing cards. I ran the marker on the edges of the paper to give it some definition. Then I wrote all the little things on each piece of card stock. The tutorials on Pinterest used all 52 of the playing cards. I used about 42 because the deck was getting really thick and a little hard to manage. And the things left to say probably would be a little embarrassing to anyone accidentally reading it so I decided to save those special things for later. ;) 
      Next, I glued all the pieces of card stock onto the playing cards. Then I punched holes on one edge of all the cards. I decided to also make a cover from a paint chip sample to go on top of the deck. Lastly, I ran string through the holes to bind the cards into one "book". 

     Not nearly as cute or crafty looking as the one on Pinterest, but it was made with love and it was free!  :)   Hope this inspires you to try your hand at making a gift for your special someone. Doesn't have to be expensive or even cutesy if it comes from the heart!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Homemade applesauce and chipped dishes

     Sometimes I just need to do something really domestic. Yesterday I just had to make applesauce. I was so happy when I went grocery shopping and in the reduced produce section there were tons of organic apples for CHEAP! Love Kroger! So home I went to peel and core the apples. Add them all to a saucepan from my grandma and they simmered away for about 30 minutes until they were soft. Then I mashed them up and let the homemade applesauce cool. 
     This morning I pulled out a chipped bowl from a set of dishes that belonged to another grandma and baby had organic homemade applesauce for breakfast! Talk about easy, delicious, domestic, and nostalgic! There's nothing like using your grandma Meyer's recipe to make it then eating it with dishes and silverware from grandma Farney. Makes me miss both those wonderful women so much! 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Healthier No-Bake Cookies

     I've been craving chocolate like crazy this week! I'll admit that I made some not-so-healthy chocolate choices a couple days ago, or maybe today, whatever! So, I decided to try to make a chocolate dessert that was at least a little bit healthier so I wouldn't feel so guilty about fulfilling my cravings! 
     The recipe that I based these cookies off of can be found here. I didn't have sun-butter so I just used the peanut butter I had on hand which ended up being crunchy instead of the normal creamy peanut butter that no-bakes are usually made with. Other than that, I followed the recipe at Soliloquy of Food pretty much exactly. When you make these, please, oh please, use real vanilla extract! No imitations!!! YUCK! 
     These healthier cookies did not set up quite as well as traditional no-bake cookies, so just pop them in the refrigerator or freezer for a bit and they should be just perfect! Small price to pay for a healthier version I think. 

Healthier No-Bake Cookies

1/2 c. butter
1 c. honey
1/4 c. cocoa powder
1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. peanut butter (creamy or crunchy)
2 tsp. vanilla extract 
3 1/2 c. rolled oats

     In a saucepan, heat butter, honey, cocoa, and milk over medium heat. Stir occasionally and bring mixture to a boil. Boil for exactly 1 minute. Remove pan from heat and add the (real) vanilla and peanut butter. Stir until the peanut butter is dissolved into the chocolate mixture. Add oats and mix until the oats are coated with the chocolate-y goodness! Drop spoonfuls of the cookie mixture onto wax paper and let cool. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

A little push and a prick at my heart

     Part of my devotions today were in Colossians chapter 2. The verses 6-7 really challenged me! The last phrase of verses 7 says "abounding therein with thanksgiving". Then I thought, "Am I ABOUNDING with thanksgiving?" "Do I have a thankful attitude?"
     I sometimes struggle with being negative or thankful in all situations of life. These verses were exactly what I needed to be reminded that it's not all about me, I need to be thankful in everything, and that is a daily thing. Being thankful shouldn't just happen when everything is going great in our lives! It should be every day, through difficult times too. God knows just what we need doesn't He? Even if what we need is a little push and a prick at our hearts. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

A Baby's Laugh

     There is nothing that can warm your heart quite like laughter from a baby! You can be having the worst day, but when you hear the pure joy coming from a baby you can't help but smile!! 
     God has truly blessed us with the happiest baby! She brings so much joy to our lives! I can't tell you how many times I've been feeling sad and then she's there with a smile and contagious laugh. Babies truly are a blessing from God! 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Why doesn't Panera deliver?!

     So who decided that only subpar food would be available to be delivered to your front door?  Seriously, why can't Panera deliver their Spinach Bacon Souffle and an Asiago Bagel or IHOP deliver an omelet with 2 sausage links please?! And for all those in Springfield, why doesn't Andy's, Wayo, or Little Tokyo deliver?! And for the love of all things delicious on a Saturday morning, why doesn't Cracker Barrel deliver their pancakes?!?!  I'd be willing to wait about twice as long for food to be delivered if I knew it would be absolutely delicious and didn't contain any pepperoni. I'd probably even be willing to pay quite a bit more for any of that deliciousness to arrive at my door so I could enjoy it on the couch in my jammies. (Yes I just said jammies)
     Who decides these things? I need to speak with them. Anyways, that's just been on my mind lately. I need Panera to deliver. Especially when fall hits and I just NEEEED a Pumpkin Spice Latte. Now. :-)

Friday, August 9, 2013

Clean your jewelry with kitchen supplies!

     I've had some jewelry sitting around that I haven't worn since college, mostly because it looked really tarnished. I saw a recipe online to clean your jewelry so I thought I'd give it a try! Let me tell ya! It works like a charm! And I didn't have to buy anything. I had all the supplies on hand!

     -Cover the inside of a bowl with aluminum foil. You can not skip this step or it will turn your jewelry black! 
     -Heat 1 cup of water in the microwave for about 2 minutes. It doesn't need to boil it just needs to be really hot! Pour the water into the aluminum covered bowl.   
     -Add 1 tablespoon each of salt, baking soda, and dish washing soap. Add your jewelry in the bowl after that. 

     Now you wait for 5-10 minutes!! After the time is up, remove the jewelry and rinse with water then dry and buff with a soft cloth. Admire your clean jewelry!!! 

     Note: this will not replace silver finish that has worn away, it just cleans the silver finish that is still on your jewelry.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

DIY Ugly Clock to Cute Clock

     We've had this cheap clock since we were married. It proudly told time on the wall in our bathroom until it fell to its death.  Oops! Then it was an ugly clock. :(   See the big chunk that's gone from the frame? But it still works!

      I knew that baby needed a clock for her room soo, out comes the DIY army. Hot glue and fabric scraps! These fabric scraps are leftover from when I made baby's quilt so they will make the clock go perfectly with the rest of the nursery decor!
     Turn the clock over and remove all the screws and the clock face and glass and set aside. Then run some hot glue on the inside lip of the clock and secure fabric to it. Stretch the fabric around the clock and secure the other end with hot glue on the inside of the frame as well. See how messy my hot-gluing is? There's quite an art to it eh? ;-)

    Continue this process covering all the way around the clock frame. Super easy right?! Then carefully place the glass then clock face back into the frame. Secure the screws and flip that baby over to admire your super simple, CUTE!, and free clock makeover!!! Love it!!!!  Happy Hot-gluing!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Nursery Decor for Under $20

     Decorating a nursery doesn't have to be an expensive endeavor. All except one piece of art, I've made for baby's room! The mobile I made before she was born and a few other pieces I put together in about 20 minutes one afternoon.
     This project I've been thinking about for awhile but hadn't figured out exactly how I wanted it to look.  So I took my time and found all my supplies on sale!

These wooden letters were on sale half price at Michael's!! 

     I sprayed painted them white with a can of Rust-Oleum that I had on hand. Then I painted just the tops of the letters with craft paint that was a teal-ish blue color that is one of the main colors in the nursery. 
     I also got these wooden frames from Michael's for under a dollar!! Originally, I planned to leave them unfinished because I liked the color of the wood. But after seeing the letters painted blue I decided to paint them with red craft paint since that is the other nursery color. I really like the way they turned out! 

     I had some white ribbon on hand and used it to hang the frames. Then I strung the letters onto another piece of ribbon and hung them below the frames. I love both colors together! I'm so happy with how everything turned out!!! All the nursery artwork and mobile cost just under $20 to make!!! Hope this gives you some inspiration to decorate on the cheap using creativity and things you have already!!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

DIY Orange Cleaner

     Not long after we moved to Texas, my sister came to visit us! She brought a bag of oranges for us to snack on, and I remembered this DIY cleaner I had seen on the internet. Time to experiment!!
    I placed peels from about 6 oranges in a canning jar and filled it up with white vinegar. Then I placed it on the shelf in our laundry closet. Most of the tutorials I had read suggested letting the peels soak for about 2 weeks. Well, I totally forgot about this little jar of goodness so the peels soaked for about a month! Anyways! I strained out the peels and other little bits and was left with about a cup and a half of orange syrupy stuff. I filled the rest of the jar with water and now a beautiful jar of all natural homemade cleaner awaits my OCD self to take it on a cleaning spree! 
     Is it sad that I'm so excited to try this stuff out? It smells fresh and citrusy. (Is that a word?) 
This cleaner was so easy to make, if I can do it, anyone can! Happy cleaning!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Make delicious sweet tea without an aftertaste!

     I don't know about you, but I love sweet tea! Living in "the South" for the past 6 years has rubbed off on me and now I like my tea about as sweet as syrup! The only thing I don't like about most sweet teas is the aftertaste. 
      I've only ever had one sweet tea that didn't have an after taste and that was from hub's grandmother. She, of course, has a special "tea making pan". I don't have the magical pan so I've been trying different ways to make tea without that horrible aftertaste. Well. I found one!!! And it's the easiest tea recipe EVER! You let the sun do all the work for you! 

First, find a glass gallon sized jar. I got lucky and my mom had one she didn't need so I asked for it!

Next, fill the jar with water. I use tap water.
Then, place 2 tea bags in the jar (I use Lipton iced tea brand). Screw on the lid with the little tails of the tea bags hanging out the edge so they don't sink to the bottom of the jar.
Next, place your jar out in full sun for about 3-5 hours. In the Texas heat and sun sometimes my tea only takes 2 hours to brew. This particular batch sat in the sun for 3 hours. 

Finally, after your tea has brewed to the strength you desire, bring it inside and sweeten it if you wish. I use about 1 and 1/4 cup sugar. Then pour over ice for a fantastic aftertaste free drink! 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Recover your throw pillows for free!

      I've been a little obsessed lately with changing the color scheme in our living room. We've had red as our accent color since we've been married and I'm ready for a change. One problem. We don't have extra money to spend on new pillows/decor.  SO I raided our closet! I found a dress that I hadn't worn since college and a dress shirt of hubs that didn't fit well anymore.
     I knew I'd been wanting to go with a blue color for a long time and then I found the perfect candidates for my new pillow covers. I forgot to take pictures of the process along the way. But it took me just a couple hours, working around feeding and entertaining baby, to recover 3 pillows. Seriously, it was one of the easiest sewing projects I've ever done. Just a couple straight seams and you have 3 recovered pillows for free! Here's the finished product!