Friday, December 7, 2012


As any true Minnesotan can, I can talk about the weather. It can get rather interesting up here, the way the weather changes so.

Today, the snow finally made its appearance and I couldn't be more thrilled. I am one of those that adores all four seasons. The rain, the sun, the fallen leaves. And the snow. The beautiful snow. It's here!

Tonight's snowfall (okay, we haven't even gotten an inch) called for a candlelit spaghetti dinner and some to cuddle up on the couch with a favorite movie.

While I cannot partake in my favorite winter pastimes this time around, I am overjoyed with the preparations I get to make over the next few months. Snowboarding is a definite no-no, but there will be so many other things to do. Baby things, family growing things. Life things.

And to fill my need for outdoor winter activity? I have a nice pair of snowshoes and last year's unused Christmas present of cross country skis (there was minimal snow up here last year).

Friday, November 30, 2012

Venison Chili

The hubs and I have some venison in our freezer. Some of it in steak form, some of it in ground venison form.

Tonight, we experiment with venison chili. He was pushing for venison chili, so he's the master chef tonight.

What you need:
  • 1 pound venison
  • 2 cans chili-ready beans
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • half of an onion, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons steak sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Cholula sauce
  • 1 jar of salsa (chunky)
  • 1 can southwestern style diced tomatoes
What you do:
  • Brown the venison and chop your onion and pepper (we have a handy-dandy veggie chopper aka time saver).
  • Throw everything in a stock pot (or crock pot) and give it a stir. Bring it to a boil, then simmer for 20 minutes, or until veggies are tender-crisp (5 to 6 hours in the slow cooker, on low).
  • Top with your choice of chili toppings. I go for cheese. Lots and lots of cheese. Hubs does cheese and sour cream.
Pretty tasty meal. And! I didn't have to cook OR clean! Win-win in my book!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


I recently brought my beloved husband into our local baby store. All baby stuff.

These types of stores aren't really my cup of tea, as prices are usually marked up. I think they're going for the convenience factor of being able to get everything for baby in one place. There are pet stores that are the same. I don't spend much time in these stores for a couple of reasons.

1. The prices are high.
2. They sell quite a few unnecessary items.

The only child I have right now is a mere 16 weeks along, so I am no expert when it comes to babies. At all. Who really is an expert, anyway? I did; however, work in a daycare that had babies as little as 6 weeks old. Even as a 22 year old, I was saddened by how quickly parents were called back to work at babies were sent off to some form of daycare.

That said, I know a little bit about babies. I know a bit about the stuff that goes along with a baby. And, holy cow, it is a LOT of stuff.

My husband, on the other hand, wasn't as aware.

And it freaked him out.

Of course, he has now realized how awesome of a shopper I am. Upon leaving the store he said, "Thank God you found a dresser slash changing table for $35."

I smiled. Planted a kiss on him, too.

Oh, and. Craigslist has become my new best friend.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Adios, Raja

My beautiful Rust Bucket. The wonderful Mitsubishi Mirage. She's been a gem. A joy. Her radio crapped out a few months ago. She's louder than ever. If you lift the hood, pieces of it fall to the ground. She's that rusty. She and I don't go anywhere without the jumper cables (even though I've never had a problem).

The time has come, though. The time to say goodbye. I find myself a little bit sad...but mostly super excited!

You see, my mother-in-law just bought herself a new car. And her old car is coming to us. She just gave us her Explorer. It's hard to believe. But it's true. We get her on Saturday.

I find myself happy, though, because this came at the perfect time. My brother drove his car into the ground. His car won't start. It won't budge. No sound of an engine even turning over. D-E-A-D, dead. While the Rust Bucket has a few quirks...don't close the gas door, it won't open again...she runs. She'll get you from A to B and then back to A or maybe off to C. She needs new tires, but she has a brand new battery.

I think, come Saturday, the Rust Bucket will be moving downtown. What a wonderful car she has been. And she's made it through the whole family: my sister bought it, I've had it, and now the little brother will have it. It just seems fitting.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Another One of Those Posts

I know, I know, I know. In the last couple of months my posts have all mentioned how tired I've been. How when I get home from work, all I want to do is chill on the couch and veg out. How I haven't felt that great. How I've been a little bit stressed out. All of which is no fun to read.

And because of that, I've been rather distant. I have just "stayed away."

But there's a reason. A pretty good reason. A reason that takes 9 months to "cook." A reason that is a third of the way there.

You've guessed by now, I'm sure. And you are right:

I'm pregnant!

The hubs and I are expecting little nugget #1 in May, and we couldn't be more excited!  And now, I apologize for being so distant. Every post that I have started has ended up with a pregnancy note, and we just weren't ready to share the news until now. Of course, we're not sharing with everyone quite yet. Our families know. Our closest of close friends know. Now, my sort-of-anonymous blog knows. My personal Facebook? The husband's personal Facebook? Still in the dark. And that's how we want it for now...

There are so many things that can go awry. So, so many things. And for us, it is best to keep it a little bit on the quiet side.

Quite frankly, though, I was missin' my blog and itchin' to write!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Tuesday Love

Tuesday may be one of my favorite nights of the week. Not days, but nights. Tuesday daytime is okay... Monday is over, it's almost Wednesday. But it's still Tuesday. And sometimes? Sometimes I think Tuesday is harder on a five year old than Monday is.

But, Tuesday night? Tuesday night is so wonderfully amazing! I see my girls. There are seven of us from high school that hang out on a weekly basis. We rotate homes and take turns making dinner for each other. Does everyone make it? No. In fact, I missed the last 2 Tuesdays. And sometimes the gathering is really small. There were three of us tonight.

I made spaghetti with homemade sauce with an Italian Balsamic grape seed salad. One friend brought the red wine, another the bread. We dined and discussed life.

We talked about husbands and significant others. We talked about the upcoming elections. We talked about work. We touched on important topics, we chatted about the unimportant. But the topic of conversation isn't what matters.

No, what matters is that I still see these beautiful women quite frequently. These women that I met years years ago (I met one of them 21 years ago!). These women that are six of the most important women in my life.

And when there is a lull in conversation, as there often is among close friends, a certain puppy-boy entertained us by bringing all of the pillows out to the living room.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Big, Gaping Hole

When we bought our house, the previous owners had taken and/or sold everything. Including the kitchen sink. There was no microwave, no fridge, no range. No dishwasher (although there was a space for it, thank God!). No water softener, no washer, no dryer. Shower heads were missing. And the kitchen sink really was gone, too. It's like that old phrase, "everything but the kitchen sink," only opposite: "everything including the kitchen sink."

Right before closing, an oven/stove and double sink were purchased and installed for us. We lucked out, too, with other appliances. An uncle got a new washer and dryer, we got their old ones. My parents had a fridge in their basement for us to take. We got a dishwasher for Christmas. We spent a whopping $150 on appliance, so we could have a microwave. But there was still a gaping hole between the fridge space and the range. It was as though someone had taken a piece of the countertop and base cabinet. Unless the previous owners had a beautifully large range.

But, for over a year, we lived with the empty space. First, we used it as a storage space for pop and water. Then, we moved the garbage can and recycling bin to that area. We had hoped, someday, to find a base cabinet that would fit so we could better conceal our garbage bin.

Well, my friends. That day was today. In all of our trips to the Home Depot since we've been homeowners, we finally decided to wander down the cabinetry aisle today and were shocked at the price of a single base cabinet. Hubs and I were expecting to drop a couple hundred dollars on one cabinet at some point. Today was not going to be that day; there are other things that are a bit higher on the list of priorities.

The prices shocked us. Under $100 for a 15 inch base cabinet? Are you kidding me!? Sold. Right then and there.

We bought that cabinet right up and brought it home. It's currently resting between the oven and the fridge, without a countertop. It doesn't match the rest of our cabinets (they were custom cabinets), and quite frankly, I do not care. That space is filled. We no longer look at the garbage can and recycling bin. And it is white (the future color of all of our cabinetry in the kitchen). And, we're getting a piece of butcher block for the countertop in the next couple of days.

I am one happy chica.

Saturday, October 20, 2012


Today, as I get ready to attend two weddings, I am constantly reminded about how wonderful my husband is. He really is a gem.

He puts up with my tears (there have been quite a few of those, lately). He puts up with my exhaustion. He puts up with my love/hate relationship with our house.

I dislike the hole in the floor and the unfinished wall from our Wall Demolition. I love the fact that the wall is gone, creating an open floor plan on our main level.

I don't really enjoy the fact that we live in a cookie-cutter neighborhood. It just isn't my style. I love and adore the fact that we're on the outside of said neighborhood, with a large lot and privacy. With room enough for 4 raised garden beds, maple trees to tap and an Earth-friendly compost bin tucked away from the house.

I despised the color of our house, for it reminded me of old parmesan cheese that had gone bad. But the wonderful husband and I tackled that project this summer.

I get irritated with our lack of kitchen storage, but am so thankful that my husband just laughs and shakes his head after I reorganize and he can't find anything. Funny story. He was just out of town with our brother-in-law. He made a comment along the lines of upon his return home, he'll have to learn a new organizational system, because it most likely has been changed (it was).

Do I hate my house? No, not at all. Do I get irritated with it? Of course! But am I so thankful for having these four walls and a roof? I sure am.

And really, I don't love my husband and think he is a gem just because I puts up with me and my thoughts of the house. But, this post would never end if I gave you all of the reasons I love my husband.

Friday, October 19, 2012

A Little Something Called MEA

As a teacher in Minnesota, I feel extremely exhausted during the months of September and October. By November, I'm back into the groove of the school year and life is back to normal.

Being that it is still October, though, I am completely exhausted. But oh so thankful for this wonderful statewide conference we have called MEA. In the past, I have gone to a session or two during the two day conference, but this year was a little different. MEA is on a Thursday and Friday, giving teachers the two days off from work. Being that it was directly after two twelve hour work days, I decided rest was much more important.

And rest I have, indeed! Yesterday was complete with a two hour nap! TWO HOURS!  I don't remember the last time I snuck in a two hour nap.

I have yet to nap today, and don't assume that I will. You see, this weekend is filled with joyous events. This afternoon, I am meeting up with some wonderful ladies--my dear old college roommates. I have sadly fallen out of touch with them, but have begun to make an effort again. We will have a happy hour this afternoon, and the fourth roommate's wedding tomorrow.  The husband's family is also in town this weekend, also for a wedding. Also on Saturday. I'm going to try my hand at double-duty. I'll be at the ceremony of one wedding and the reception of another. Busy, busy. But so much fun...and so much love!

I also have the daunting task of putting together our Halloween costumes. Of course, I could just buy them, but they are so much more fun to make! I haven't bought a costume since I've known my husband, and I have to say the creative juices get juicier every year!

And finally, I have some posts planned! One being the Halloween costumes, of course. The other being a painting project. I'll give you more details on that, later.

For now, I'm off to meet up with the beautiful roommates!  I hope y'all have a fabulous weekend!

Monday, October 8, 2012

{recetas} Applesauce

Oh my goodness, a post on a Monday!? That hasn't happened in the longest time! It feels so good to be back!

I most certainly love homemade applesauce over the store-bought variety. During my first year of teaching, I decided to have the class make applesauce during our unit on fall. that was the first time I had ever tasted the amazingness of homemade applesauce.

What you need:

  • Apples. Lots and lots of apples (3 to 4 pounds) of different varieties
  • 1 cup of water
  • A few shakes of cinnamon
What you do:
  • Peel, core and slice the apples. I was lucky enough to purchase the Apple Master from my local Mills' Fleet Farm. If you don't have this and plan on making lots of apple-y things, invest in one (it's only $15!). It cuts the prep time by an hour, at least.

  • Place all of the apple slices in a pot (or slow cooker-SUPER easy!). Pour in the cup of water. If you use a slow cooker, set it to high. Sprinkle with as little or as much cinnamon as you'd like (or completely leave it out). Cook the apples over medium-low heat for about 20 to 30 minutes. I don't really time it, I just stir the apples occasionally. When they get nice and soft, they're done.
  • Use a potato masher to mash the apples. OR (my preferred method) send the apples through a food mill or grinder. I use my handy-dandy Kitchenaid mixer and attachment. This will create a smoother applesauce, while the potato masher leaves it kind of chunky.

When all is said and done, you can enjoy some nice warm applesauce. I prefer cold applesauce, so I put as much as I can into 4 ounce or pint sized Mason jars. I would only store the applesauce in the fridge for a week. Otherwise, you can freeze the single-sized servings and place them in a lunch box. I take one out of the freezer each morning, and it is completely thawed by lunch time!

Isn't he the cutest puppy-boy you've ever seen? We're planning on bringing him on his first camping trip soon, so he is getting some practice time in with his "pack." Who knew I could love a puppy so much!?

Linked up here.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Do I Already Have a Post Named Hiatus?

Hello my has been ages!

As you may or may not know, I'm a teacher and school has started. I have been finding it difficult to create a balance between school and life, especially with parent/teacher conferences next week already!

I'm here to say, though, that I will be back in full force soon. It has been hard to be so neglectful of this blog. In fact, I think about it daily. But when I get home from work, I find it difficult to do anything besides make some dinner and hang out with my husband.

I hope you understand?

I have continued to check on the Home Organization "class" over at A bowl full of lemons. It's been difficult to keep up, but I've tried my best. My house, though, is just so different. It's already fairly organized. I will continue to check in on the organizing thing. Especially when it pertains to my house. Oh, I am so excited to continue organizing!

Anyway, that's me for now. Busy and quite tired!

Still enjoying this puppy boy, though!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Project: Organize

These last two weeks of organization have been a bummer for me.

The garage is the husband's zone--not my place to organize, but his. And he has done a fabulous job of doing so!

The office is a no-go, too. In dividing up our "chores" the husband so graciously (and thankfully!) took the job of doing the bills. I don't feel as though I can go in there and mess around with his organization. It works for him, and he does the bills. I'm not about to get in the way of that. I would be upset if he took it upon himself to organize my craft space. So I will sit another week out, and enjoy the fact that I don't have to take care of the bills for this household.

I may take some time tonight, though, to pick out carpet colors, wall colors and hardwood floors (upgrades to the ol' hacienda coming soon!).

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Project: Organize #4 The Pantry

Sadly, I didn't get around to organizing the garage. It has been a very busy week and I decided to take most of it off from the blogging world.

I do love the blogging world, though, so I couldn't stay away too long! Although, I will not be participating in A bowl full of lemons.' pantry organization challenge. You see, I organized the pantry not too long ago. Surprisingly, it is still in great organizational shape. Typically after I take time to organize something, it falls apart after a month or two. Which probably means that my system isn't working, but I'm not a professional organizer...I don't really know what I'm doing.

Here is a link to my pantry organization.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

{recetas} Garlic Pepper Brussels Sprouts

I love Brussels sprouts. I wish I could say I always have, but that's not true.

I think I was 25 when I first tried the delicious vegetable. That's a mere three years ago. My curiosity got the best of me when I saw the bulk bag of Brussels sprouts at my local Costco. I purchased...okay, my mom purchased 4 pounds of them.

I talked with my brother-in-law, a man that thoroughly enjoys to cook, about the vegetable and learned that boiled Brussels sprouts weren't so fabulous. Instead, he informed me, they should be cooked on the stove with some oil.

What you need:
  • 2 pounds Brussels sprouts
  • grape seed oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • red pepper flakes
What you do:
  • Wash the Brussels sprouts and trim away the stem. I always peel away the leaves that look yucky, or super loose.
  • Cut each sprout in half, from the top to the stem (I think the inside looks rather interesting).
  • Place the sprouts (I got sick of typing Brussels) in a bowl and drizzle with grape seed oil (or an oil of your choice). Give it a good toss.
  • Add a few cranks from the salt grinder and a few from the pepper grinder. Toss again, then add the red pepper flakes. Add everything to a saute pan. Cook over medium low heat, stirring frequently. Turn the heat on the stove a bit lower, cover and cook for five minutes.
That's it! Super easy. Tonight, my husband had a few as a side to our burgers and baked potatoes (he doesn't care for Brussels sprouts). I had mine both as a side and as a topper for the baked potato. It was delicious!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Project: Organization #3 The Kitchen

Well, my friends, I've completed the kitchen as part of A bowl full of lemon.'s Home Organization 101. Honestly, it wasn't difficult as I have kept my kitchen rather organized since I moved in with the husband.

I did make a few changes, though. Over the course of the year that I have lived here, I have come to realize that I do not like counter top clutter (especially since my counter space is so limited). When I found the perfect white pot for a buck at Bethesda (the thrift shop!), I knew it needed a home on the counter that was easily accessible. Away with the knife block, hello magnetic strip from IKEA.

I also moved the coffee maker to the other side of the sink. Because of where the bottom of our upper cabinets sit, the coffee maker cannot be directly underneath any of the cabinets. Which means it needs to be right. next. to. the. sink. It's kind of annoying, but that's where it has to be. It now sits next to the canister of coffee beans and the grinder. Makes sense, right?

I also found this dish at Bethesda and couldn't find it's home for the longest time. It has now become the harvest bin. Any veggies that we pull from the garden will sit there until used (except tomatoes...too many for the harvest bin!).

Although there weren't huge changes to the kitchen (husband will be happy!), I feel refreshed and energized to organize other parts of my home. The contents of the fridge and pantry have been cleaned out. Expired items discarded, Shelf stable items I know I won't use have been unloaded at the food shelf. The drawer of utensils has been cleaned out (I just wish I had enough room to get the more frequently used utensils off the counter).

I've linked up at A bowl full of lemons.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Organize Schmorganize

I love to organize. The look of a beautifully organized cabinet, fridge, bedroom, anything brings a smile to my face. I've come to realize, though, that I lack the know-how to be a truly organized person. I try, but the organizational system seems to fall apart in a day.

Because of this, I've enrolled in a "class" per say. I follow the blog A bowl full of lemons. and am super excited for her 14 week organization series. My plan is to follow along and post about my trek through the world of organizing.

She's starting with the kitchen, so it is probably best that I start there, too.

Did you go check out her first post in the series? Isn't her kitchen amazing!?


Friday, August 31, 2012


Just a short while ago I took a picture of the tomatoes my husband and I harvested from our garden. Aah, it was a lovely harvest. Tons and tons of tomatoes (along with a few cucumbers and a zucchini) came inside with us and it was decided that they would be perfect for salsa.

I would have preferred making more spaghetti sauce, but the husband was quite eager to make homemade salsa. It's not my favorite pair to chips as I much prefer guacamole. Luckily, our tomato plants still have plenty of tomatoes ripening away. Spaghetti sauce will be next, along with the first experience with the pressure canner.

I awoke early this morning with the dog (apparently he missed the memo about today being a non-work day) and got ready to head to the Fleet Farm and grocery store to gather a few items for salsa making. Okay, and pickle making. We made refrigerator pickles--no water bathing required--and I cannot wait to taste their dilly goodness tomorrow.

We soon realized that our kitchen is much too small for large-scale canning. I could show you a picture of my kitchen at this point, but every picture I took today was taken without a memory card in the camera. Whoops. Anyway, we also noticed that our regular stock pot was not even close to large enough for boiling the salsa. The husband was a gem and offered his 3 gallon brew kettle for the task (I have plans to purchase a new one, a bigger one for him).

Today marked my first day of canning. I have watched my mother-in-law can cranberry jelly, but never had I completed the task from start to finish by myself.

Canning was rather intimidating. The tomatoes were overflowing on the counter. My normally large looking stock pot looked tiny. My kitchen counters were overcrowded in a matter of minutes. My hands quickly became pruned and the tomato juice rendered them itchy (possibly an allergy?). Husband chopped bell peppers, onions, garlic and jalapenos. The tomatoes held all of my attention. Blanching, peeling, blending half of the tomatoes, chopping the other half.

Canning was incredible. In a matter of hours, I will be checking the seal on each jar of salsa and will be able to store each one for up to a year. There are currently 10 pints of salsa on the counter. I'll consider the tomatoes free, since we bought a packet of seeds for a buck and that was in February (and we used about 30 tomatoes). The peppers, onion and garlic cost us just $7. Now, that is some cheap salsa! I'm not in awe of the savings alone. I'm in awe of the fact that my husband and I grew tomatoes from seeds and we will now be able to enjoy them for the months to come. Maybe I'll make some fresh tortilla chips and have a wonderful homemade snack some day.

This has provided me with motivation to can and preserve more. More pickles, spaghetti sauce (I never want to buy spaghetti sauce again because of this recipe), fruit, salsa, just tomatoes in general. I already am planning next year's garden. What should we grow? What should we preserve? What else can I provide for my family (so far it's just me and the hubs, but it's a family nonetheless)? And even though the kitchen is small, I won't shy away from canning.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


There's an old saying that everyone knows. It's about a book and its cover.  You know the one. Judging and all that stuff. Susan Boyle is an example of why that statement is true. You really can't judge a book by its cover. When she walked onto the stage at Britain's Got Talent a few years back, nobody expected her to sing so beautifully. The majority of the audience members, both live and via the television, had judged Ms. Boyle by her looks and expected very little from her. But she sang her heart out and gave me goosebumps.

I recently had a similar experience, reminding me of why it isn't okay to judge a book by its cover. I have heard many folks judge, without getting to know, a certain person. I was able to sit down and chat with this person a few days ago, and my eyes were opened. They were opened wide. I won't get into the news that was shared with me; it isn't my story to tell.

I was reminded, though, that it is not fair that people (myself included) so quickly come to inaccurate conclusions. But they (and I) did. Honestly...sadly...I think it is human nature to judge and people need to be made aware of this. In talking with my new friend, I have again been reminded that you can never really, truly know someone's story by looking at them or by judging them from afar. It doesn't work, and it isn't fair to the person being judged.

People need to stop judging books (people) by their covers (appearances).

Watch this video, though. I cry every time.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Summer's End

Yesterday marked the end of the summer, and I have found myself quite anxious. My students will be visiting my classroom this week, for our open house. My room is slowly coming together, which is good, but needs to be ready to go in time for the open house.

It's time to head back to work and I am quite anxious, and I'm not the only one. I have 20-some students getting ready for their first experience in elementary school. I know their concerns, for the same ones troubled me as a child.

Will I make friends in my class?

Who will I sit by at lunch?

Who will I play with at recess?

Will my teacher like me?

A few weeks into the school year, though, nerves will subside. The kids and I will be in a comfortable routine  and learning a ton.

All I will be dealing with is getting used to the early wake-up call.

Screen-shot of my phone upon leaving the house:

Sunday, August 26, 2012

3.1 and Done!

Hello my friends! It's a lovely, albeit cloudy, Sunday in Minnesota and I finished my 5K.

It's the second one I've done, but the first one I actually enjoyed. The first was nearly a year ago, on a trail in a Minnesota state park. My friend won that race with flying colors, and informed us all that it was actually 3.3 miles, instead of the actual 5K length of 3.1. What!? They made me run farther? Ugh, we weren't so pleased...

This race, though, was great! I made a goal for myself to run at least the first whole mile, then could walk as needed. I ended up only walking during mile 2, which was a great accomplishment. It felt so good, and I feel as though I may have changed as a runner (er, jogger). While running in the past, I would set small goals for myself: I'm going to run for a half mile, walk for a quarter, then run another half for example. During the run, though, I'd get bored after a quarter mile and walk for a mile. I wasn't holding myself accountable.

Today, though? Today, I did it. I set goals and I accomplished them. I used landmarks, instead of distances. If I run through mile 1, I can walk whenever I please (check). If I make it to that lamppost/bridge/retaining wall, I can walk (check). Run the last 1.1 miles (check). Maybe, just maybe, I turned over a new leaf as a jogger.

It feels good to be done, and I am excited for the next race in September.

Here's a shot of my post-race nap with the puppy-boy (we had to be in the parking ramp by 6am...that's early for a teacher during the summer!):

Sunday, August 19, 2012

{recetas} Cucumber Dip

The garden is producing cucumbers like mad.

And I love it.

The husband and I had a party to head to tonight and were in charge of an appetizer. I figured my mother-in-law's cucumber dip would do the trick, especially since I needed to use up those cucumbers. Por supuesto, I changed a thing or two. In reality, I didn't have a recipe, only a recalled conversation on how to make cucumber dip.

Yes. It is that easy.

Honestly, though, summer would not be summer without it.

What you need:
  • Cucumbers (4 large, but you kind of have to judge by taste/consistency)
  • 2 packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon pepper (or to taste)
  • quarter cup water
What you do:
  • Wash, peel and chop your cucumbers. I used cucumbers from the garden, and sent my husband (he's such a gem) to the store halfway through making the dip because the dip needed a few more.
  • Put all of the chopped cucumbers in your stand mixer or in a bowl. Toss in the two packages of room-temperature cream cheese and mix. My dip was stiff. Maybe too chunky? So I added a quarter cup of water and turned the mixer on again (doesn't that thing make life easy?).
  • Add the teaspoon of salt, garlic powder and pepper. I also added a few twists from the garlic pepper grinder because it's fun. This part, of course, is all to taste. My mother-in-law doesn't like pepper, so she doesn't add that. I think it tastes better that way. I also add more garlic that she does. Everyone has different taste buds, right?

 Serve with tortilla or pita chips and enjoy!

Thursday, August 16, 2012


I finally finally had some free time to check up on the raised garden beds. Normally, my husband gets out there at the perfect time and does all the picking (love) since he has been the one at home lately. Every once in awhile, though, I like to get out there and do some picking too. We made an okay haul, but we'll have vegetables coming out of our ears in a week or so (and I'm super excited!).

And, doesn't the hood of my car (The Rust Bucket) make a wonderful backdrop, even if the picture is a little dark?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Motivate Me!

Does anyone remember the band Good Charlotte? I believe I went to a concert of theirs in college, and probably had a really good time (live music is awesome, by the by). I digress.

Good Charlotte has a song named "The Motivation Proclamation" and I thought it would be a fabulous song to talk about in regards to my new motivation to work out. I had a quick listen, though, and realized that it wasn't necessarily the happiest song. I didn't write the song, so I do not know for sure what the writers were thinking, but it sounds like someone is depressed.

I'm not. At all. I love life, but I was looking for a connection to my new found motivation. Finalmente, I have found motivation to get out there and run. I don't know what it was, I don't know what did it, but I am ready to run.

My 5K is coming up (August 26th) and I am actually excited to continue training. Tuesday is weekly girls' night with a great group of girls I knew in high school, which is why I tried to finagle my training schedule to have my day of rest on Tuesdays. It has worked out thus far, but as I sat at my friend's house I thought about running (er, jogging).

Instead of looking forward to a day of rest (as I normally would have), I was itching to get out and run! Tomorrow's goal: run 1.25 miles, walk 1.75 miles.

Monday, August 13, 2012

{recetas} Homegrown Tomato Sauce

As mentioned before, my husband and I were up north for a week. Before we left, we looked at our tomato plants and realized that most of the tomatoes would be ready to go while we were away. My parents came to the rescue, once again.

We had them stop by our house to check on/pick the tomatoes on our 15 tomato plants. Needless to say, we came home to a bowl full of tomatoes.

It has been rainy today, and for some reason, rainy days mean spaghetti to me. Okay, it was probably the bowl of tomatoes that were screaming "spaghetti sauce!" I performed the infamous Google search (do I say that in every post?) to find a recipe for fresh tomatoes.

As usual, I found exactly what I was looking for over at Smitten Kitchen ... easily one of my favorite cooking blogs! She had the most perfect, most customizable recipe I could find. So I went with it.

This recipe was adapted from the Smitten Kitchen.

What you need:
  • about 4 pounds of tomatoes (they don't have to be pretty!)
  • quarter cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • half of a carrot, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced onion
  • 1 hot pepper (couldn't tell you which kind, we found the pepper plant growing the garden while weeding)
  • 1 lb ground beef
What you do:
  • First, you have to peel the tomatoes. This isn't something I have ever done before. I was concerned that it would be really difficult (it wasn't). All you have to do is boil a pot of water, then make a cross in the bottom of the tomato. Put the tomatoes in the boiling water for half a minute, then take them out a rinse with cold water. Peel and discard the skin. Easy-peasy.
  • Depending on the size of your tomatoes, halve or quarter them. Remove and discard the seeds (this took the most time!). Because I don't care for super chunky tomato sauce, I blended them. I placed half of the tomatoes in the blender and blended on low for a minute or so. I removed those and added the rest of the tomatoes.
  • While the olive oil heats in a saucepan over medium heat, mince the carrot. Combine the carrot, garlic and onion in the olive oil and cook for a bit (5ish minutes).
  • Add the tomatoes to the carrots, garlic and onion and simmer on medium/low. 35 minutes is perfect.
  • While the sauce is simmering, brown the ground beef in a skillet. Drain off any excess fat/grease.
  • With about ten minutes left on the timer, add a half teaspoon of salt and a light sprinkling of basil to the sauce. Stir it up and allow to simmer a few more minutes, then add the ground beef.
  • Serve over spaghetti noodles and enjoy!

Please excuse the iPhone pictures...I left my camera at my in-laws' house. Whoops!

While I slaved away in the kitchen, Finn made sure to rest!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Exercise Update

I thought I'd give you all an update on my exercising/5K training.

I have registered for a local 5K and have exactly two weeks left to prepare. Since I was out of town last week, I didn't do any running. I did go on a few walks and took part in quite a few water sports, but no running (jogging).

I woke up early enough this morning to go for a run. Being that I'm new at this game, I decided running on a treadmill at the community center was the best idea. I would be able to track my time and my distance, since I don't have one of those fancy GPS runner's watches (yet?).

While getting reading this morning, I contemplated my goal for the day. I decided that a decent goal would be to complete, by either running or running and walking, 2 miles. I would judge how much of it I was to run after a few minutes of running, so I could gauge how I was feeling.

After all was said and done, I ran 1.25 miles without stopping and walked the rest! I was (and still am) pleased with myself. You see, I've always hated running without a purpose (for example, after a soccer ball), but I know it is the best way for me to get back into shape. So running I will do.

And after today's run? I felt amazing. Tired, yes. A little sore? Not too bad, but yes. Accomplished? Yes. Wonderful? Yes. Like I can do this 5K in two weeks? Yes.

If I can run a 5K without walking, I may have to buy myself a present. Shoes are a fabulous present!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

{recetas} Just Your (above) Average Hamburger

Last night, I made some really tasty hamburgers and I wanted to fill you in on the little secret I have.

Okay, there are 2 secrets.

  1. Lawry's Seasoned Salt. You don't need much, but it adds so much flavor!
  2. Worcestershire Sauce (that is a pain to type!). Again, not a lot. Just enough for extra moisture.

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • a few shakes of the following:
    • minced onion
    • Worcestershire sauce
    • Lawry's seasoned salt
    • garlic powder
The Steps:
  • Plop the ground beef into a bowl.
  • Shake a small amount of each of the other 4 ingredients (about half of your total amount) and mix it all up (I just use my hands).
  • Shake another small amount of each ingredient on the beef and mix it again.
  • Form the ground beef into patties. This is the step that I always mess up. My burgers end up looking a little bit like meatballs...too think, I guess.
  • Stick 'em on the grill until they're done (according to your preference!).
Serve the burgers as you usually do. I prefer to have mine sans-bun, with a pickle and a dash of ranch dressing on top. My husband has his with Cholula sauce, a tomato and some banana pepper.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Big...No, Huge Project

The husband and I have started a new project and I'm afraid that we may have bitten off more than we can chew.

Why you ask?

We're painting our house. The outside. All of it. By ourselves. Yikes!

Not surprisingly, we have come across a few bumps in the road. Well, mostly husband has because I have been nannying while he has done most of the prep work and painting. The girls and I stopped by the other day to make some super yummy Caprese Kabobs (recipe to come shortly!) and the husband was installing a new deadbolt on the side door to the garage. Wait...he was installing a new deadbolt on the *new* side door to the garage.

A new door?

In doing prep work, he took notes on all of the rotten wood that would need to be replaced before painting. There were a few boards along the back of the house, a piece of the frame on our deck door, and a piece of the frame on said garage door. But that piece of frame gave away a bit too easily and the husband realized that the entire door frame was rotten. Falling apart rotten. Luckily, he has become skilled at door replacements. He had that door up in an hour and a half.

He has been working for two weeks on the paint job now, and it is starting to look finished (must be because I was able to help all day yesterday?). Just kidding! It's mostly because he is driven and determined to finish soon.

Owning a home really is the never-ending project.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

{recetas} Breakfast Popsicles

Breakfast is much more fun if you get to have a popsicle. Plus, I don't really like breakfast food that much, especially if it is at breakfast. Scrambled eggs for lunch or dinner would be fabulous. But for breakfast? No thanks!

While one of the girls I nanny was at yoga, the Deuce and I made a trip to my local thrift shop. Oh my amazingness. For the last few weeks, I had been looking around (at Bethesda and another thrift shop) for popsicle molds. Just a few days ago, I contemplated buying them new online.

But yesterday's Bethesda trip came through! I snatched the popsicle mold right up. I almost bought a set of 4 aluminum containers, but decided against it. As usual, I sent my mom a picture text to shower her my find for the day. She sent me hers. Including those 4 canisters. We are so much alike, it's unreal.

Anyway. Back to the recipe.

Breakfast Smoothie Popsicles.


  • 2 cups yogurt of your choice (I used Chobani's strawberry yogurt)
  • 1.5 cups frozen fruit of your choice (mine was a blend of blueberries, blackberries and strawberries)
  • a splash or two of lime juice
  • 4 tablespoons Chia seeds (optional)
  • a handful of spinach (optional; I didn't use spinach this time, but usually I do.)
The steps:
  • Place all of the ingredients into a blender until smooth-ish. It won't be completely smooth, especially if you added the spinach and Chia seeds...or a super seedy fruit.

  • Pour the mixture into the molds and insert the popsicle sticks.
  • Place the mold in the freezer overnight. Breakfast will be ready when you wake up!

Which was 10am for me today. I love summer!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

In Love.

I have the greatest husband in the world. We've been married for just over a year and I am more in love now than I was then. It's amazing and soooo wonderful!

An example of his awesomeness:

I sent him to the store last night for some taco toppings and tortillas. I know, I made crock pot taco meat without making sure we had tortillas. To the store he happily went (if he gets to ride our moped, he'll go anywhere happily) to pick up sour cream, tortillas and black olives.

He came back and informed me that he got me a present.  Ooh! A present from Target, what could it be!?

my favorite food!

And this was placed on the counter and I couldn't have been happier. Pickles? You're getting all giddy over pickles? I sure am! Pickles, you see, are my favorite food and we haven't had them in the house in a long time. Just the other night, when I made super yummy hamburgers, I was bummed to be without a pickle. The hubs picked up on that and surprised me with a jar of my own!

Saturday, July 28, 2012


Miss Bean, my adorable niece turned two on the 21st of July. How can that be?

It seems like just yesterday, my sister called to let us know that she and her husband were headed into the hospital. Being the close family that we are, we all jumped in the car to be there when the bean was born. Shortly after 5am, we were welcomed back into the room to meet the new addition. Quite the tiny thing she was. Of course, we passed her around the room and snapped tons of pictures.

And now the little lady is two, and she is quite the silly little girl. I love the way she yells "oh man!" and "awesome at the appropriate times. And if the theme song to Dora comes on? Dance away she does!

We celebrated the Bean's birthday at an indoor play place. I, of course, had to get her presents (yes, plural!). Inspired by an old friend's (friend is used loosely, we hung out in a large group of friends throughout high school, but never really got to know each other) goal for a year of handmade gifts, and a particular gift she made for her daughter's friend, I decided making something for Bean was a great idea!

I scoured the internet for a jumbo crayon roll pattern and found this tutorial at Raising Oranges. The only difference between mine and hers is that I used a ribbon closure instead of a binder. And, I can't sew straight.

But all that matters is Miss Bean loved it (and the Dora coloring book). And being handmade makes it even more special. I may not ever be able to do a year of handmade gifts, but it is definitely something I'd like to do more often!

Friday, July 27, 2012


As mentioned a couple days ago, I need to get my butt in shape. My friend's ability to run around a local lake (which happens to be a 5K) without stopping or walking has motivated me just enough to get out of the house and go. For those of you that are wondering, I am over my feelings of jealousy. The jealousy left, and I am now happy for her and her huge accomplishment!

I started my training plan and have successfully complete the first two days. Luckily, the first two days consisted of walking for 40 to 60 minutes. I did 60 minutes each day and felt great.

Surprisingly (and sadly) my legs were quite tired and sore at the end of each hour. This just goes to show that I really do need to get out there and continue my quest to get back into shape. It's necessary.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Green Eyed Monster

It's here. In full force. That nasty green eyed monster named Envy.

I can't say that I am always envious, because I'm not. Sure, there are things that could be different in my life or things that I wish I had. But I have never felt envious of the people that have those things.

I realized, though, that I am envious of my good friend Karla. Once upon a time, she and I started a weight loss challenge. She won, by a lot. But I didn't care. I was happy for her. I was proud of her for reaching her goal weight. The girl looks amazing.

Since she has reached her goal weight (and I haven't!), she had started to focus on running. The girl can now run a 5K without stopping (or walking!). And. She's faster than I am.

I know, I know. I sound like a child. And it is horrible. I should be proud of all her accomplishments. I am, but I'm also a bit jealous of her running. She and I ran a 5K together last fall. We both ran slowly. We both walked.

Athletic competition, though, is huge. I want to do what she is doing. I want to run as fast as she can. My hope is that this jealously becomes a form of motivation. That it helps me to get my big butt out the door and exercising (because it's been forever since I have!).

I want to lose those last 10 pounds (10 are already gone). I want to run a 5K without walking.

I'll start today.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Learn Something New

The old saying is true. You really do learn something new every day.

I nanny two little girls, ages five and seven. The five-year-old ("Five and a half, Miss Lizzy!...I can hear The Deuce say in her ever-excited voice) does not like chocolate. Yup. That's what I wrote. She does not like chocolate:

Me: "Why don't you like chocolate, dude?"
The Deuce: "I think it tastes like mud and dirt."

Well, okay then. But, that isn't the something new that I learned today. Keep reading...

After making homemade playdough this morning, we decided to continue with a cooking theme. Well, we switched to baking and decided upon the chocolate-free Snickerdoodle cookie. A yummy cookie, for sure, but not one of my favorites (because there is no chocolate, duh).

We planned on having a lunch date with my husband at a super local, super yummy pizza place. The cookies were coming with as dessert (because store-bought cookies are not nearly as good as homemade!). The older girl packed four cookies into a baggy and away we went.

The hubs was so happy to see Snickerdoodle cookies. You know what he said?

"That's my favorite kind of cookie."

And that, my friends, was news to me.

I promise I'm not a horrible wife...we just don't have cookies that often. Because if we're going to have dessert it will for certainly be a nice big bowl of homemade ice cream.

You really do learn something new every day. Today I learned that the hubs loves Snickerdoodle cookies. I'll be posting a recipe soon...and baking more of the hubby's favorite cookies!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Only Two Hands

I am unsure as to why, but often times, when I get out of the car I want to bring everything into the house in one trip. Even if I just went to the grocery store for the week. It gets worse in this heat. Once I'm in the comfort of my air conditioned home, I don't really want to leave (especially since the A/C in my car doesn't work).

This is something I have done since I was little. I remember getting so frustrated with myself heading into the house from after-school soccer practice. I had my backpack full of homework and my soccer bag full of smelly soccer stuff. I usually had the big ol' jug of water and, for some reason, another bag (who knows why? I was a high school kid, they do weird things). I needed to get everything into the house at once.

The backpack was heavy. The soccer bag's strap dug into my neck. The handles on the random back sliced into my elbow-crease. Why did I torture myself?

What's worse? Why do I still do it to this day?

I came in from the grocery store today with 3 bags on each arm. A sack of potatoes in one hand and a gallon of milk in the other.

And then the inevitable happened:

The peppers, oh the peppers (the only items that stayed at the top of the stairs instead of tumbling all the way down).

Like the random dog toy?

Monday, July 16, 2012

{recetas} Lime Tilapia

This. recipe. was. delicious.

I found it using my wonderful AllRecipes app on my iPhone. It has what is called the "Dinner Spinner" and it is great! You can now add custom ingredients to the spinner, so I added tilapia, since that's what I had in the freezer.

Here is a link to the original recipe, but I modified it a little bit (that's becoming pretty typical for me!).

Here's what I did:

  • 1 tablespoon refrigerated minced garlic (making it easy on myself!)
  • 1 tablespoon oregano (the dried kind, from those mini jars)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • minced onion
  • a couple twists on the garlic pepper grinder
  • 2 tilapia fillets
  • 1 lime
*I did not add sugar or tequila.
*Instead of measuring, I used a small prep bowl and made sure the bottom of it was covered with the minced onion.

What to do:
  • Put all of the ingredients into a small prep bowl (except the tilapia and the lime!).

  • Place the tilapia fillets, one at a time, into the bowl. Be sure to cover each side with the marinade.
  • Oh yeah, preheat the oven to 450 (this is always something I forget to do, and end up waiting for the oven after everything is prepared). Probably a good idea to prepare a baking dish: cover it in foil, spray the foil with a non-stick cooking spray.
  • Place each fillet in the baking dish and "plop" the rest of the marinade on top of the fillets. Place a slice of lime on top of each fillet, and the extras around the baking dish.
  • Cover with foil. Place in oven and bake until the fish is flaky (I think it took my oven about 15 to 20 minutes, with the foil off for the last 5).
  • Serve with a salad (I had Caesar salad on hand, and it wasn't as weird as I thought it would be).


I had a few errands to run today, including REI (favorite store!) and the fabric store. I also had a few things that needed to be donated to the local Goodwill. I've found that I have frequented the donation line, but haven't taken the time to peruse the shelves.

As of late, my mom has been talking up this thrift store that opened a few months ago near her work. She was at work today, so I called to see if she wanted to meet me at Bethesda to wander the aisles. Mom has a new thing for dishes and she finds beautiful ones at random thrift stores all the time. I was pumped.

I've seen super DIY projects involving trays that have been spiffed up and I wanted to try it for myself. I just needed a tray (or two). Mom said that I would "for certainly" find one at Bethesda.

We walked into the thrift store and saw the sign that saved me even more money: 60% off housewares. Woo-hoo! Mom brought me right to the aisle with all of the dishes. She pointed out the sets she had her eye on. She also pointed out the things that I had dropped off at her house to donate (super cool to see, by the way!). I saw my old frying pan, a casserole dish and a soup bowl that I had dropped at her house a week ago.

Mom and I did a quick swoop down each aisle, then started over walking more slowly, actually picking through the items.

We soon realized  that we needed a cart. It was that good.

Here's my loot:

This cute green mail sorter was $1.49 (and then 60% off!). It had some black and gold labels that I peeled off before I took a picture. I promise I'll get better at this blog with pictures thing soon! I plan to put it on the wall at the top of our stairs because the hubs and I are terrible with mail. It'll be nice to have a place for it to rest.

This white pot with a lid... My dear friend has a red ceramic pot that sits on her counter for the food scraps to be taken out to the compost bin. I immediately wanted one for myself! Her mom picked hers up at a thrift store, and all I could think of was Nordic Ware Dutch Oven (um, expensive). But! I found this one at Bethesda for 99 cents! AND THEN! 60% off! I am already in love with this store.

And the I found what I went to the thrift store for in the first place. The trays! The price was a bit surprising to me, but, it did come with three trays. And, it was on sale guessed it, 60% off. 6 dollars and some odd cents for three trays? Yes, please! (I still haven't gotten around to taking a picture of them. In fact, they're still in my car.)

I had a few tips from some blogging friends that Lowe's may have a better spray paint selection than my local Home Depot, so I plan on heading that way in the next few days to get to work. I may also stop by the brand new Fleet Farm (one of my favorite stores). My mom used to say: If you can't find it at Fleet Farm, you probably don't need it.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Summer (and my 50th post!)

Hello friends!

I finally feel as though summer has started. My husband and I returned home last night from a 5 day camping trip. Oh, it was heavenly. It was our first excursion of the year and it was beautiful. We made the five hour trip to a campground just north of Bayfield, Wisconsin, right on Lake Superior. The Apostle Islands were in sight.

This trip marks another first for our pup, Finnegan (whose "grandpa" likes to call him "Finnian"). He did remarkable well, and learned quite a few new tricks. Like opening the pocket doors of my in-laws' motorhome (we can't use their bathroom as containment anymore!) and using his nose to open the door of a pop-up camper (yup, pushes right on the black handle of the door!). He learned that his K-9 uncle, Kirby (a black lab mix) has no patience for puppies-Finn's nose may have been "nibbled" on more than one occasion.

During this trip, I earned the "Crappy Wife of the Year Award" for the second year in a row. Upon leaving home for our trip, I was certain that something had been forgotten. I just couldn't put my finger on it. Like in Home Alone, when the mom knows that something is missing. Like her, it took me awhile to figure out exactly what it was. An hour and a half into the drive, I realized it. Mr. Husband's birthday present. The sad part? The same thing happened when we were on our honeymoon the year before. Whoops! Next year can only be better, right?

I did give the gift to him upon our return home (I also made a cake for him, but messed up the homemade frosting).

Needless to say, we had a wonderful vacation. We spent long days navigating the waters of Lake Superior, stopping on the many islands for lunch on the sandy beaches. Scuba diving (Husband) or snorkeling (me) near shipwrecks, watching fireworks in Bayfield, and being able to see the show over on Madeline Island.

Yes, after a wonderful vacation, it finally feels as though summer has begun.

One tired pup on the way home

Monday, July 2, 2012

Fish Stand

Hello, friends and happy Monday!

I am in need of your help. You see, I teach kindergarten and each spring, we do a unit on animals. We study goldfish and, at the end of the unit, students that get the "okay" from their parents, are allowed to take a goldfish or two home. One year, none of my students were allowed to take the fish home. I was stuck with 9 teeny tiny goldfish. My husband (he was my fiance at this time) remembered the old aquarium in his parents garage. It was the aquarium that he took to college. The same aquarium that my father-in-law got as a middle schooler. The hubs was willing to take all 9 goldfish.

We searched and searched and searched for the perfect stand for the aquarium. And then we realized that the perfect one was waaaay to expensive. So we used an old TV stand that Husband's parents also had in their garage.

And it is feo (that's Spanish for "ugly"). See? (Sorry if you have this item in your house. A friend of mine does, and it makes me feel bad for calling it ugly. Everyone has their own opinions, right?)

I am going to redo the fish stand, but I need some help choosing colors, etc. I also am thinking about making bigger doors...what do I use to make bigger doors? Plywood? These are the things that I just don't know.

Suggestions please!