Wednesday, December 31, 2014

This Christmas

We had a bit of an odd Christmas this year.

We kept our tradition of breakfast, gifts & Bloody Mary's.  My best friend & her 2 teenagers have been coming here 3 years now for Christmas morning. Teenagers can take innocence out of Christmas, so they come here to enjoy my, almost 4 year old, son open presents.  Of course each year, we have more people join us.  We were up to 8 of us this year!

We had an awesome breakfast casserole I found on Pinterest!  My hubby made his modifications, of course more meat.  Everyone loved it, despite all their faces when I made it in front of them.  It's perfect for a crowd.  I am planning on making this in Deep Creek next month.

Here is the link to the recipe
My first time putting someone else's recipe on my page. 
 Hope I did it right :)

As for rest of our Christmas day, it was just odd.  My mom was the only one of my family members to come over.  She works retail & had to be a work super early so she didn't stay super long. Not that we had a bad Christmas, it was just not the norm.

I think next year I need to go away for the holiday.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Bring on 2015!

2014 has been a roller coaster, lots of highs & lows.
And a lot of self realization.

I have realized that life has turned out to be a lot differently than I thought it would be 10 years ago.

  • Friends you thought you would have forever, have become acquaintances. And making new friendships that are "less complicated".
  • Living in the same place for years, dreaming of owning our own home with a yard & no more neighbors below us.  
  • Not being as financially stable as I had hoped, although we are close to the light at the end of that tunnel.
  • After 16 years of working, becoming a stay at home mom & not making a real paycheck. Something I would never change. Being a part of my child growing up is priceless.

Life is a learning experience.  

2015 will be different!  I know, everyone says that every year. But I feel that next year will be filled with change...hopefully good change. I better hurry & get a New Years Pretzel!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

My Burlap Obsession

Ever since my wedding last September, I have a growing obsession for burlap.

Every time I go to a craft store, I look for it on sale.  Burlap can be a bit pricey at times, so any deal I can find I make sure I grab it up!  And I am not picky about the color.  I am more drawn to the light brown burlap, but any color will do.

My wedding was beach themed & burlap fit in quite well!
 My sister, the thriftiest shopper I know, found some great colored burlap for my shower centerpieces.

They were so cute

  We ended up using them for the wedding reception too!

Please don't mind my "before" the party picutres. 
Somehow we didn't get too many pictures from our reception party.

And these were our favor
They were filled with salt water taffy from the beach
I bought them from a shipping supply company called Uline.
I got 200 bags for $70, such an amazing deal!

I had quite a bit left over so I decided that 
I can re-use them for party of my friends wedding.

I took the seams out of the bags and cut the "P" off.
Then I painted on the blank side
and created a cute banner for their card box.

I totally love how this turned out!

My love of burlap showed a bit more in the planning & creating of the Thomas Wedding. 
I covered 2 bulletin boards for the seating/name chart.  
Til this day, mine is still covered & I actually just re-used it for a collage for an Anniversary party we threw for my In-Laws.  It's amazing how some burlap & thumbtacks can make a regular old cork board really stand out!

So next time your are out at the craft store, check out the clearance.  
You never know what great little treasure of burlap you can find!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Fall has arrived!

Where did the summer go?  
I feel like once July got here, I blinked my eyes & it was back to school & pumpkins.  

This is the first year that I actually decorated for Fall on the first day of Fall! The weather made it easy. Here in the 'Burgh the weather has felt like fall most of the summer. My son wanted to help me we had our own DIY party!

These are 2 pieces of Party Lite's retired Apothecary line.  
I love the short wide one! 

Now it' time to figure out what my little guy is going to be for Halloween.  This year he decided he wanted to be an Angry Bird. I was extremely glad when he decided he didn't want to be "Lightning McQueen" again!  I made his Lightning McQueen costume last year.  It was a bit challenging & took a little time.  But the look on his face was totally worth every minute.  I will have to post my creation next week.

Here's a little preview of my lil McQueen
He was tired of pictures & just really wanted to go get some candy!

One of my favorite parts about the fall/winter is the beers.  
*Note to self - Not the best time to be pregnant!  
6 years ago I worked at a bar with a large beer selection, which helped develop my palate for craft beers.  One of my absolute favorite beers is Southern Tier Pumking.  When I worked at the bar, no one else knew about it.  And now that is all everyone talks about on Facebook, lol.  Glad everyone else discovered it!

Another part of fall I love, Leaves!  I am not a huge fan of raking them. There never seems to be an end to them.  But I cannot resist to jump into a pile of leaves!  

Winter will be here before we know it.  
So take the time to enjoy fall & play in the leaves!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Momma needs a Cocktail!

It's been a long week.  We went camping, had to cancel a trip & deal with grown-up problems.  Needless to say, I need a vacation. But I suppose I will have to settle with a nice, enjoyable, adult beverage.

I am a huge fan of vodka...there, I said it.  Fortunately for me, it likes me too.  I have become a fan of Pinnacle vodka when it comes to getting creative.  They have lots of great flavors to choose from.  Sometimes it can be a bad thing when decision making time comes along & you want everything! To be honest, I usually buy which ever Pinnacle or Smirnoff is on sale and sounds good at the moment. Stoli Raspberry will always have a special place in my heart. It is my favorite!

My friends and I like to use Sherbet in our blender drinks.  It is especially nice in the summer time on a hot day.  A special shout out to my boy Luke who sold me his very expensive blender for $5 when he decided to sell everything & cycle across the country.  I had NO idea how powerful and pricey it was.  I've assured him it went to a great home, lol!

Tropical Freeze

1 Cup of Vodka 
(I used Smirnoff's Pineapple Coconut Sorbet)
1/2 container of Lime Sherbert
Fill blender with ice
Waaaaaa Laaaaaa

A tasty & refreshing beverage as a reward 
for making through the day!
(Please pay no attention to the grape bombs in the background, hee hee. This is an older picture from the last time we made it.)

Enjoy your weekend!

A Camping We Will Go

Most folks had big plans for the 4th of July.  Not me. The hubby was working (as usual) & our Independence celebration didn't kick off til Sunday when we went camping with my Brother In Law, his fiance & most of their kiddos (his 2, their 1 & minus her that?).

I don't mind camping, especially when I am prepared.  Growing up we didn't have a lot of money.  Our parents would take us to the "beach", AKA Lake Erie.  We would go camping on the beach on Lake Erie right before the peninsula.  It was a blast. There is something about waking up on a beach with miles of water in front of you.  We did this for years, until my parents split.  For a few years after, this was still our vacation spot.  We even cleared our name of being trouble makers, lol. So much that the owner actually had my brother take pictures for him.  10 years later & our tents are still on their website.

Camping takes a lot of preparation.  Especially when going to a new place.  I try to do most of my cooking & food prep before we get there.  Something about cooking with dirt & bugs around is not fun to me.

My Camping Essentials
  • Tent
  • Tarp
  • Sleeping bags, pillows & blankets
  • Towels (depending on where we go, I take beach towels & bath towels)
  • At least 1 outfit per day & a sweatshirt
  • Paper products (plates, paper towels, toilet paper)
  • Trash bags, recycle bags, zip lock bags
  • Utensils - I took some wraps left over from our wedding
  • First Aid kit
  • Bug spray
  • Candles
  • Flash light
  • Cards
  • Bottled water
  • Camping chairs
  • Some type of cooking apparatus 
  • Matches or lighter
  • Cups with lids
  • Can koozies
  • Extension cord
  • Cooler full of food & drinks
  • Tote packed with camping supplies
It doesn't look like a lot, but it sure adds up fast.  My BIL loves camping, so he always has the cool gadgets.  Last year he brought his smaller deep fryer & we made Deep Fried Oreos

 We have one more camping trip to go on this summer & it's actually back to Lake Erie!  We are staying at  Sara Coyne Campground It is a great place to take the family. Check it out sometime.  It's a great location for all that the town of Erie has to offer.  I am looking forward to taking my little dude there for the first time.  He is going to have the time of his life.

Summer is flying by so be sure to enjoy it!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Enchilada Skillet, on the menu for lunch today

Lunch is the most consistent meal of the day around here.  My hubby works mostly nights, so I like to make sure he's eaten before he goes to feed everyone else.

On the menu for today, Enchilada Skillet!  It was super easy & even better, I had everything here at the house to make it.  The longer I stay at home, the more resourceful I have become.  No doubt, the internet has gave me great ideas.  Most of all, I am inspired by others creative cooking.

Growing up my dad was incredibly picky.  Needless to say, our dinners were not so flavorful & there wasn't much variety. My mom probably felt so free in the kitchen once they split up, lol.  But seriously, I noticed a huge difference in her chili, for instance.  Finally, she could kick it up a bit on the seasonings.

Enchilada Skillet
1 Pound Ground Beef
2 Tablespoons of Taco Seasoning
1/2 can of Red Enchilada Sauce
1/2 can of Green Chiles
1 packet of Velveeta Toppers Queso Blanco Sauce
2-3 Cups Egg Noodles

First brown the Ground Beef.  Season the meat with the Taco Seasoning.  Drain any grease from the pan.

Next stir in the Enchilada sauce, green chiles & the cheese sauce. Stir until blended.
Add the cooked egg noodles.  
I didn't measure it.  I used the rest of an opened bag.
Top with what ever feels right.
As you can see here I used crushed corn chips, taco sauce, cheese & sour cream for the hubby.
I made mine a little lighter with some crushed corn chips & salsa.

Either way you top it, it's a quick lunch time meal that took less than a half an hour to whip up.  I wanted to make sure I shared this since the weekend is almost here.  It would be a quick meal before or after the pool. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Where did the last year go?

Seems like the last year has really gone by fast.  I realized this as I was downloading pictures so I could use my Shutterfly gift certificate, yes, I am only now getting around to printing off wedding pictures. Last year at this time I was a frantic Bride-to-Be trying to get everything ready for my beach destination wedding. Everything did not go quite as I had envisioned, but all of the important things fell into place.

We had a reception party back home after our nuptials. I wouldn't say I regret it.  Having a destination wedding makes it hard to celebrate your union with everyone. At our reception, we got to have a great time will all of our friends & family that were not at the wedding.  It was worth every penny & all the hard work.

We did so much of our wedding at the beach. We were on a tight budget & I love to be creative. I'm sharing some of the DIY projects that I did for my "Big Day".  That was probably one of my favorite parts. Party planning is my passion after all!

Centerpieces from my Bridal Shower were 
recycled from my sister's Wedding
Then used for our Beach Wedding

And ended up being the centerpiece at our reception at home.
Talk about getting your money's worth!

Found this great idea on Pinterest.

Looks like a Life Preserver
But it's really there to freshen your breath!

What's more "beachy" than 
Salt Water Taffy?
I monogrammed bags that I purchased
 from Uline & filled them with taffy
BTW-I got those for a steal,
200 burlap bags (with shipping) for under $70!

We aren't huge fans of cake, 
so it wasn't the most important thing to us.
I bought a regular round store cake for us to cut & decorated it ourselves.
My best friends cousin is a baker in Richmond, VA
so we asked her to make cupcakes for us. 
Unfortunately, her cupcakes looked more like a Pinterest Fail.
(We were too upset to even take pictures)
So my future Sister In Law worked her magic on the existing cupcakes. I loved the way our cake table turned out.

The dining area was inside as well as on the deck.
The table cloths were a last minute purchase & matched perfectly

Appetizers for Cocktail Hour
-Caprice Salad Bites
-Veggies & dip cups
-Taco Dip Cups
-Cheese & Cracker Tray
-Pickle & Olive Tray
Dinner Menu
-Chicken Marsala
-Brown Sugar & Garlic Chicken
-Tortellini & Marinara
-Red Skinned Potatoes w/Parsley
-Green Beans
-Salad Bar

Since we have our son, we wanted to incorporate him into the Unity Sand part of our ceremony. When I started to look for bottles for the sand, I couldn't believe the prices. I wasn't overly concerned about what the sand was in, so I didn't need something super fancy.
I went to my favorite local craft store, Pat Catans.
I bought 3 Oil Pourers & a Bottle with a cork.
We put 3 differnt colors of sand in each one, representing each one of us.
Including the 3 bags of sand, our Unity Sand cost under $20.
We put sand from the beach at the bottom & eventually filled it the rest of the way with more sand from the beach. I loved the way it turned out. I have it with a picture from our wedding on a shelf.

I had a few more projects that I, honestly, just forgot to take the time to take pictures.  I re-used a bouquet that I caught at a friend's wedding.  It was artificial Jasmine flowers.  I just simply changed the ribbon to match our wedding colors.  I have since made a similar one for another friend's wedding.  I like being able to keep it. It was my something "old" at my reception.

Your special day is what you make of it.  At the end of the day, as long as me & my hubby were married, that was all that really mattered!

Monday, June 2, 2014

STOP! Potty Time

This winter I had decided that my son will once & for all be potty trained! With nothing but cold weather for as long as the forecast was showing, I felt this was probably the best time to do it.  Let me tell you, it was more work than I ever thought it could be.

I had a lot of great advice from people.  From my friends from school to my close girlfriends, from old neighbors & even guys chimed in, everyone has great tips.

The biggest debate was small potty or the grown up potty.  Being that I was trying to teach my son how to pee standing up like his dad, I felt the big potty with the little seat was perfect.  I thought for sure I could entice him with a Lightning McQueen potty seat & stool. Not so much. He was having difficulty going #1 on the little potty (pee everywhere) so I told him it was broken.  He eventually warmed up to it.

One classmate from grade school suggested having him play target practice with Cheerios.  While this worked for the first day, the novelty of hosing down one of his favorite breakfast cereals faded quickly. Guess my big hungry boy figured that he'd rather eat them. Luckily he took to standing up peeing with out much hesitation. Unfortunately, he has some real issues with going #2 on the royal throne.

This is where bribery came into play.  I am not sure that is even worked either.  I hung a Matchbox or Hot Wheels car from the bathroom door.  I thought of it as inspiration.  My little guy wasn't fully convinced that he really wanted the cars THAT much to just go poop.  As terrible as this may sound, it was actually kind of funny. He would sound like he was giving birth trying to go.  There wasn't anything wrong, he was just simply terrified!

After a few weeks of this, Mason had to stay with his Grandparents for the night.  Funny how he had NO problems going up there.  And he didn't need anyone there for moral support while he went. I am very thankful that now he goes to the bathroom on his own.  We still have the Night Time Pull-ups for bedtime.  Even though most of the time he wakes up dry.  I will take those off of him once I get the proper mattress pad for his bed.  

Every kid is different & one thing may not work that worked for someone else. Patience was the key for both of us.  We both would get frustrated, but we survived! And here I thought boys would be easier, lol!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Home Sweet Home

It's always nice to be home.  I LOVE my in-laws house & being up there.  But there is nothing like being in your own home.  For me, I greatly miss my computer.  My 3 year old couldn't wait to get home to play his Cars game.  Needless to say, we are both happy campers!

We had a nice break in the country.  My husband was working hard at landscaping the back yard for a surprise Anniversary party for his parents this September...shhhhh.
(Good thing I know they don't ever read my blog. Who am I kidding, they probably have no idea I even have it, lol.)

Here is a little preview of his work.

While my honey was showing that back yard who was boss, I relaxed.  I got to catch up on my recipe reading & did lots of cooking. My hubby's parents have the best kitchen!  I LOVE to cook when I am there. My MIL knows this. When ever I am coming up, she buys groceries for me to cook.

This weeks menu included the MIL's picks, lasagna, ribs & vegetable pizza.  I was thrilled to make lasagna.  We have been talking about me making it for months, since I was staying up there helping with my FIL.  I decided that some pasta salad was the perfect quick side for the ribs. I was floored when they had never had pasta salad the way I make it. I think they liked it though!

Cooking while I am there gives me something to do & it gives someone else a break. Plus it's fun for me! They have all the fun gadgets to make cooking & baking a little easier.

Like this little helper. An actual Lasagna Pan.
At first, I thought, I don't need one of these. 
After using it I am a believer....I NEED one!

I also made Mojitos.  
It's always a good thing when your mother in law suggests a great summer time drink! 
For the first time, I made simple syrup. 

Simple Syrup Recipe
Combine equal parts Sugar & Water (I did 1 cup of each)
Heat on Low 
Stirring often.   
Once it's all liquid, remove from heat & let it cool down.

It really is simple. I will NEVER buy it again. 
I will however, be purchasing some squeeze bottles to put it in though.  

For now I have mine in my old reliable, a Mason Jar. 
(I am obsessed with Mason Jars, BTW! 
We will save that confession for another day)

I came home from the In-Laws and made sure I bought a bottle of  Bacardi Rum for my summer time adult beverages. The big guy was on sale & I couldn't pass that up.  I love mojitos, they are so refreshing.  Looks like I need to experiment with different fruits & find a friend who is growing mint in their garden.  We can trade mint for simple syrup! 

Hope you find time this summer to enjoy a cool, refreshing Mojito!