Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Bird is the Word!

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Trim-It-Down Tuesday: the Thanksgiving Edition!

For this week's edition, I'm bringing back one of my favorites - the Potluck Potato Casserole! It's what I plan to make and bring for my side-dish contribution at Thanksgiving dinner.

Re-visit the recipe here.

It's soooooo goooooood!!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Stair Runners:

"What every set of stairs need."

Or, "The best dressed stairs are wearing them."

I'm such a carpet snob, I guess that comes with my job! But I always think stairways look better with a runner. It makes me sad to see a beautiful set of stairs left bare.
I love sisals and seagrass runners on stairs!
You can go neutral or bold.

Stair runners are a great place to make a "statement" with a lot of color or pattern. Since it's a small area that you're moving through, they don't seem to get too busy.

And, you can never go wrong with classic stripes!

Mrs. Blandings shows us that!

Happy Monday everyone!
*pictures from Flickr, ???, Head Over Heels , Flickr, and Mrs. Blandings

Friday, November 20, 2009

Butcher Block Counters

One of these days, we'll tackle and re-do our kitchen. The cabinets desperately need a new coat of paint, they need new hardware, our appliances (except for the dishwasher) have seen better days, and our countertops are older laminate. Boo.
Previously, we've purchased some tile on sale for the counters, but the longer we wait, the more I start to think about other options. Due to our teeny-tiny budget, things like marble and granite are out of our range, but butcher block counters are a surprisingly affordable option.

I love the gray-ed wash on the cabinets here.

These counters look like they've just been oiled, or maybe polyurethaned.

Black cabinets and worn butcher block.

If only my kitchen was this light and bright!

Ikea is awesome. You can get an 8' piece for $59.00! Granted, it's the thinner 1 1/8-inch thickness, but still. Solid beech wood, and totally within our budget. I'm liking butcher block more and more.
Happy Friday!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Glass Canisters

My new glass canisters from the Crate and Barrel outlet.
After I bought the ornaments, I used part of the gift card that was left to buy these. My old ones from Ikea were ready to retire, and I have had my eye out for some that were a bit larger and a little nicer.

Here is a better picture from their website:

Now my question is: Do I leave the tops as they are (silver), or should I paint them?


Or maybe a color? I like the red, but I'd probably choose dark green.

What do you think?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Trim-It-Down Tuesday: Steak and Cheese Sandwich with Mushrooms

Today's recipe IS low cal, I swear! But it doesn't taste like it at all. It's very good, filling, and easy to make. Great for a weekend lunch or a casual dinner.

Steak and Cheese Sandwich with Mushrooms

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 sandwich)

1 teaspoon olive oil
2 cups presliced onion
2 cups green bell pepper strips
2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic
1 cup presliced mushrooms
3/4 pound top round steak, trimmed and cut into thin strips
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
4 (0.6-ounce) slices reduced-fat provolone cheese, cut in half
4 (2 1/2-ounce) hoagie rolls with sesame seeds

1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic to pan; sauté 3 minutes. Add mushrooms to pan; sauté 4 minutes. Sprinkle beef with salt and black pepper. Add beef to pan; sauté 3 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally. Stir in Worcestershire sauce; cook 1 minute.

2. Place 1 cheese slice half on bottom half of each roll, and top each serving with one-fourth of beef mixture. Top with remaining cheese slice halves and tops of rolls.

Nutritional Information
Calories: 384 (23% from fat)
Fat: 9.8g (sat 4.1g,mono 2.9g,poly 0.4g)
Protein: 32.9g
Carbohydrate: 44.9g
Fiber: 4.1g
Cholesterol: 43mg
Iron: 4.7mg
Sodium: 580mg
Calcium: 231mg

David Bonom, Cooking Light, MARCH 2008

Sunday, November 15, 2009


One year ago today, right about this time, this was us walking back down the aisle as a married couple! Happy anniversary sweetheart!

*Image from Melanie Johnson Photography

On another note, I am now able to access all of my wedding pictures!! Recaps to be coming very soon....

Friday, November 13, 2009

Jacque's apartment: Before and After (but not finished)

This past summer, my sister Jacquelyn moved into a new apartment and "hired" me to help decorate it. By hired, I mean asked nicely. She is my sister (and probably has some really embarrassing stuff on me!).

Jacquelyn just graduated with her MBA and found a new job in Fort Worth. Since she moved from Houston to go to TCU (Yay!!) and lived with my parents for a year, she didn't have a lot of furniture, but the stuff she did have we needed to work with. Also, since she is just starting out in her new position, and there isn't already an existing pile of money to draw from, we are buying stuff along the way and not all at once.

Jacquelyn is a single 27 year old, and she chose a really fun part of town to live in, just west of downtown by some of the museums. Since she is still young, single, and is in a fun part of her life right now, we wanted her apartment to reflect that so we painted some of the walls a light shade of yellow (one of her favorite colors), and accented it with peacock blues and greens, with browns grounding the scheme.

Here are some "before" pics from moving day:

Your basic apartment.

Here we are after the walls have been painted. They turned out so well and really help to lighten and brighten the place up a bit!

And now for the latest pictures that I took earlier this week when I was at her place for dinner.

Some inspiration in the form of a feather wreath.

The sofa with some new throw pillows and one of her 2 new side chairs (which are really comfortable by the way!). The lamp is kind of temporary until we can find one that she likes and is in her budget. Also, eventually, she'd like to get a new coffee table (which normally isn't crooked like it is in the picture).

A shot of the other side chair and the long expanse of wall to the left (in the pictures) of the sofa area. We plan to fill this void with a large gallery wall....

... that will look kind of like this! James Dean will be replaced with another picture, and there are a few frames in need of repair.

Here is kind of a long shot from the sofa area towards the front door. In the niche, we set up a little bar area for her.
Here's a closer look at her bar. We chose a small bookshelf from Pier 1 that can be used someplace else in the future. We added a sparkly lamp and a big mirror to reflect more light into the dark apartment.

Sorry that it's kind of messy - these were from Wednesday night, so her saddle is not normally chilling on her chair like that. But I wanted to post these so you could follow along on the progress! We still have a few things to do, and then I'll share the "After/Finished" pics with you!
Have a great weekend!!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Okay, one more...

via Melanie Johnson Photography

So frustrating...

I'm trying to go through all of my wedding photos (all via Melanie Johnson Photography), and they aren't all copying from my thumbdrive to my computer. On top of that, it seems that they aren't even all on the thumbdrive...
They are on an external hard-drive, but my not-super-computer-saavy self doesn't know how to access them there from my laptop. Grrrrr.....

But, this IS one of the photos that made it to my laptop, so I thought I'd share!

And, if there's anyone out there that might know how to access an external hard-drive through a wireless network via a laptop, please let me know. :-)

Trim-It-Down Tuesday: Slow-Cooker Salsa Chicken and Black Bean Soup

Today's recipe is brought to us by Stephanie O'Dea, once again, from the blog A Year of Slowcooking. It is sooooo good. And, when made with fat-free sour cream and garnished with low-fat cheese, it is low in fat and calories.

Slow-Cooker Salsa Chicken and Black Bean Soup

--1 pound chicken (I used boneless skinless chicken breasts cut up into small pieces)
--1 cup dried black beans (or 2 cans, drained and rinsed)
--4 cups chicken broth
--1 cup sliced mushrooms
--1 cup frozen corn
--1 jar prepared salsa (16 oz)
--1 1/2 tsp cumin
--1/2 cup sour cream (to stir in at the end)
--shredded cheddar cheese, avocado slices, cilantro (all optional)

(If you know you are going to make this the night before soak the black beans in enough water to cover and another 2 inches overnight. In the morning, drain the water and rinse the beans. If you don't have super hard water or live in a super high altitude, you can quick soak the beans by pouring boiling water over them and let them sit for an hour or two.)

Drain and rinse the beans. Add to the crockpot. Put in the chicken, and add the broth and salsa. Pour in the corn and mushrooms, and add the cumin. Stir, but don't disturb the beans---let them stay at the bottom of the pot, closest to the heating element.Cover and cook on high for 9 hours. Yup. High. For 9 hours. It took a crazy long time for the beans to soften, but they did. If you are using beans you soaked overnight, canned beans, or pre-cooked beans, you can cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 4-5--similar to normal soup-cooking time.

For a thicker broth, you can use an immersible blender to blend a bit of the beans and chicken. If you don't have one, scoop out 2 cups of the soup and carefully blend in your traditonal blender. Stir the mixture back into the crockpot. Or, instead of doing that, you can also substitute 1 can of refried black beans for one of the cans of black beans - this is what I did!

Stir in the 1/2 cup of sour cream before serving, and garnish with shredded cheese, avocado slices, and/or cilantro. (For a lower calorie meal, I skipped the avocado slices)


Thursday, November 5, 2009

I have a guest coming into town...

... for the weekend, and she's coming in tonight! So I am sorry that I don't really have much to post, I have been cleaning like a mad woman trying to get things all ready for her.

We're going to have a fun weekend, and I hope y'all do too!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Trim-It-Down Tuesday: Hot and Sour Soup

Today's soup is another slow-cooker recipe I found on Stephanie O'Dea's site (which is full of amazing recipes!). Since it is meat-less and has tofu in it, I decided to try it out on a night when Chris wasn't home as he probably would have refused to eat it. But, even though I've never cooked with tofu before, I thought it sounded delicious and low-calorie. A great combination in my book!
--1 cup cubed firm tofu (I used one full package that I got at Kroger)
--2 cups chicken broth
--2 cups water
--1 package of sliced mushrooms
--1 can bamboo shoots
--1 can sliced water chestnuts
--2 tablespoon soy sauce
--1 teaspoon sesame oil
--2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
--1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes **
--green onion for garnish
Combine everything in your slow cooker. I used a 5 quart, and I think it was filled about 2/3 of the way full.
Cook on low for 7-9 hours or high 4-5.
Taste. If you need more of the sour flavor, add more rice wine vinegar. If you need more of the hot flavor, add more red pepper flakes.**
Garnish with sliced green onion.
** Warning: Do NOT add more than the 1/4-teaspoon of red pepper flakes at the beginning. I, being a lover of all things spicy, didn't bother to measure the red pepper flakes when I added them. After reading that Stephanie actually added more to her soup (of course, AFTER it had cooked), I just though "Eh, can't be too spicy", so I added about 2 shakes of the little plastic spice container when I was assembling the soup in the morning. BAD IDEA! The soup was so spicy, I had to add another 2 cups of chicken broth to dilute it. And even then, it was still spicy. Please know that if I thought it was spicy, then more than likely your mouth will be on fire. So, in conclusion, don't be a fool like me - take it easy on the red pepper flakes.
Other than that, the soup was really really good! Tasted like restaurant soup, albeit not as salty. It wasn't too mushroom-y, and honestly the tofu didn't bother me - it wasn't too noticeable. This soup would be great to have if you had a cold, or didn't feel well. If you want it to be more "filling", pour it over a little bit of cooked rice. That was what I did for leftovers, which were yummy.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Christmas Ornaments?

Of course, we've already seen the Christmas decorations, all ready to spring forth and be totally in our faces as of today (you know, now that it's November).

I normally don't think "Christmas" at this time of year. But, I am kind of in a quandry. I received the Crate and Barrel Holiday catalog last week, and in it were these ornaments. I actually saw these at Crate and Barrel last year and really liked them. I love the colors, and I like that they are hand-painted.
But, with the wedding and all going on, they weren't top of my priority list. Plus, they're not the cheapest. $40 for a set (although, you do get the lovely red storage box included...). So, I thought I'd wait and catch them on sale after the holidays - but that didn't happen. Since this is something they sell every year (I'm assuming here), I guess they hold whatever they don't sell for the next year.

Earlier this year, we received a late wedding gift.... a gift card to Crate and Barrel that we've been holding on to.

So.... knowing that they won't go on sale.... and that I have a gift card.... do I get them? Or do I find a more practical item for the gift card?

Template by - background image by elmer.0