Friday, November 11, 2011

Get a Melissa & Doug 25% Off Coupon When You Take the North "Poll"

Melissa & Doug want you to tell them which of their educational toys you think is the best! Just click on the image below to place your vote in the North "Poll!" You'll Get a Melissa & Doug 25% Off Coupon** to use at just for voting!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

100 DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This is a big announcement in my household!!!

Can you tell I'm excited?!?! Yes, today, September 15th always marks 100 days until Christmas. AKA-the most wonderful time of the year!!!! I started this countdown years ago and somehow it just stuck. People know I do this and will now ask me how many days until Christmas so now I just feel a sense of responsibility!( And hey, it's just fun and exciting!!) My sister even made me a Christmas countdown for the entire year, not just 100 days!!

 I love Christmas. And I mean CHRISTmas never Xmas! Because Christ IS the foremost reason it's the most wonderful time of the year; that's when our Saviour, who died to save us from our sins, was born!! That is why we give gifts! Because Christ gave Himself for us, so we could be in heaven with Him, when we die. The best gift of all time!!

And after that, well who doesn't love ribbon, Christmas music!, wrapping paper, candy, cookies, shopping, yummy food, giving gifts, family time, snow(hopefully!), Christmas trees, the movie ELF, parties, decorations, sparkling lights and glittery stars, the nativity scene, the smell of balsam fir trees, candles, .....need I continue!? I'll spare you...for now!

So start your shopping folks!!! As always, I have a million ideas, recipes and crafts I want to do but we'll see what I can accomplish this year! Stay tuned!!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Birthday / Fall Wreath

My sister's birthday just passed a couple weeks ago and she wanted a "Lori Special"--not to be confused with the "Leslie Special" car from the movie the Great Race!!--wreath. 

I love crafting! Although sometimes it can be frustrating. When I started this wreath, of course, the night before her birthday, I basically stared at the wreath for almost an hour trying to get inspiration!!! I tried one thing, hated it and undid it all and stared again! Finally, I figured out what I wanted to do and then-wooosh!!- it all came together after that! Thankfully because I was starting to burn the midnight oil!

I used wooden beads in various sizes and I found these wonderful rolls of tulle about 5" wide at the fabric store. I cut strips and sewed three colors together to create the rosette. I didn't want the traditional bow, so I went with a rosette. Which I rather like and plan to do again on my own wreath! And  I also bought a spray of the orange "berries" and cut each sprig off and placed around randomly.
I also made her birthday cake! I love decorating cakes but don't get to very often anymore. I used my family as guinea pigs to try a new yellow cake recipe and make an Italian fruit cake with fresh strawberries, peaches and fresh whipped cream. The test cake wasn't bad, but it was still more of a "lighter" pound cake, was the verdict. I'm still searching for a from scratch yellow cake recipe that's not too heavy!! If anyone knows of one please let me know! Here's the wreath and cake!!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Anniversary Get Away: Block Island, RI

For our second anniversary we decided to relax and make the ferry ride over to Block Island. The sand and water is so clean and clear there, it is really a great place to visit! We got a 3 day package so lodging wasn't too expensive, but once you add in meals and other activities it can get very pricey!! A day trip is also just as fun! You can even pack a cooler for lunch and not even spent a whole lot.

That is what I did. I packed some yogurts, apples, cheese and protein bars for snacking and/or breakfasts. It really worked out nicely.  We rented bikes and rode to the lighthouse and bluffs, hung out at the beach exploring tide pools, walked along the shops and had some very yummy fish and chips!! It was a very nice trip all in all with my dear hubby and best friend!!

                                                         Sunset at North Lighthouse

                                                                     Beach combing...


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Lesson in Leftovers

The dreaded word... "What's for dinner mom??"  Her reply, "Leftovers!" Dun, dun,duuuun....
Growing up, my mother never, ever wasted food. Even if it had green fuzz on it. Surely there was something we could still do with it! No, I'm just kidding!!!! (We never ate anything with green fuzz!!!!)

But rest assured, if you didn't scrape that bowl of batter until it was sparkling clean again or get every micro crumb of cookie dough onto that last scoop of cookie you'd hear about it! And rightly so. She was trying to teach and train us not to be wasteful. And for that I am extremely grateful.

See my mom went to a very special school, it was called "Mommy School." That is where she learned alllll these incredible, highly secretive techniques and information about...everything in life! Hahaha!! Well, that is just a joke me and my mom have. Because when I was little, every time she'd do something incredible or clever after I had tried hopelessly to do it, I asked her... "Where'd you learn how to do that??... Mommy School or  something??" And her reply would always be, yes! What can I say folks, God gave me the most awesomest (Yes, that's a word for right now!) mom in the world!!

But back to leftovers. In my VBS lesson with my (late) friend Porgie and the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand, a verse stood out to me.. about leftovers! I've read and heard this verse many a time I'm sure of it, but I guess now was when the Lord really wanted me to see it!  That verse is John 6:12 "...Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost."  I don't really need to elaborate but Jesus is telling us not to be wasteful and eat your leftovers!! I am going to use this with my kids if they ever whine about not wanting leftovers!

I know a lot of people are not keen about leftovers. I personally don't mind leftovers. Except for maybe leftover pasta with sauce. It just never tastes right. Pasta should fresh and hot right out of the pot to plate within seconds!  But anyways...

You just have to be creative!! I've made many an interesting dinner from leftovers. Maybe not all great, but hey, it took Thomas Edison a 1,000 ways of trying before he invented the light bulb!
You can use up leftovers in several new and fun ways.

Here's a few ideas I've tried that you can create with any variety of leftover meats and vegetables or whatever other fragments you have in your fridge!
  • Fried Rice
  • Quesadillas
  • Burritos
  • Pizzas
  • "Antipasto" Salads
  • Quiches or Fritatas
  • Soups
  • Calzones
  • Pot Pies
  • Baked Pasta Dishes
Leftovers are your "oyster"! Happy Leftover-ing to you and yours!!
Let me know how you use your leftovers in a new or fun way!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Porgie. It's What's for Dinner!

Porgie! Now that is just a fun word to say, admit it. At VBS (Vacation Bible School) this year at our church, I taught the 3-5 year old's class. In preparing for my night to teach, my lesson was on Jesus feeding of the 5,000 and the boy who gave his five loaves and two fishes.

In an effort to grab the kid's attention I decided to bring in 5 real loaves of bread and 2 real small fish-or porgies!! Working in the restaurant business has its perks. So, I asked our seafood salesman for, well, two small fish! He gave me two porgies. For free! Even better. I think the kids thought Porgie was neat at any rate as they poked at its eyeballs! I filleted one so they could see what part you eat and left the other one whole. It was a fun lesson to teach! I find that I personally always learn better with visuals so hopefully they might remember this when they are older.
Porgies are described as a "good eating fish". It's basically a white fish. I'd never had porgie before. Let alone gut and fillet one...or many other fish for that matter. But here I had these two porgies that needed to be eaten and there was only one way to do that!

Gutting and filleting is a messy business. And smelly. So, I wrapped my face with a dish towel, put my gloves on and placed Porgie inside a trash bag on my cutting board. I started by scaling the fish, which produces scales flying every which way on you and around the room! Hence, the trash bag. Next, I cut the head off. This is where it starts to get smellier...pulled out the guts. By now I can still smell it through my fabulous dish towel of a bandanna.(Gag.) I quickly discarded all the guts and head in a Ziploc which cut back on the smell. Then following the bones/backbone carefully and slowing filleted the first piece of porgie! The last piece is left with all the bones and tail. This one is slightly easier to fillet because now you can see the bones and just follow it all the way down to the tail.

I left the skin on the fillets just because it's easier. Skinning fish is no biggy but because they were so small it's a little harder to skin. This was my first solo gutting/filleting of a fish so I didn't want to push my luck!

Now to cook them! I made a Greek mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, oregano and fresh garlic and poured it all over the porgie and broiled them. It was quick, easy and very tasty! Hubby approved as well.

I'd definitely have porgie again!! Here's some pictures of Porgie before and after. Yum!
                                                          The before and after of Porgie.
Greek Style Porgie! Olive oil, lemon juice, fresh garlic and oregano!

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Tag Sale Loot!

My sister and I went out tag saling Saturday morning...and afternoon! It was a great time together, alota laughs and memories made! One of them being going to the same tag sale TWICE, thinking it was a completely different one! We ran back to the car laughing before they even knew we had been there...again! And then "Tag Sale Guy" who basically gave us a mini tour of his house and said he "could work something out" and sell us his house even though he was closing the sale Monday! He was a very nice gentleman though. (It was a very nice home though, complete with a pool that looked like a pond, deep enough to dive in!)
Also found some great deals! The double sided quilter's cutting mat(brand new) sells for $15-$20 in stores! I got it for $1! Can't beat that!
Here's the rest of the loot I found:

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Vietnamese Venture!

Recently my hubby and I ate at a teeny tiny Vietnamese restaurant a few miles from our apartment. It was soo good! I'd never really had Vietnamese before, but I figured it'd be close enough to Chinese that it couldn't be too scary.  We ordered the Crsipy Spring Rolls, Grilled Pork Vermicelli and Lemongrass Chicken. It really was ALL delicious but what we loved the most was the Pork Vermicelli. Which was angel hair rice noodles, lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, basil, crushed peanuts and served with a side of traditional Vietnamese home made sauce! It was all so WONDERFUL.
 The flavors all just joined hands together in your mouth and skipped around in circles! The cool rice noodles, the crisp carrots, lettuce and cucumbers, the nutty, crunchy peanuts, the tangy-sweet and crispy pork and the sauce was light, but had a little kick of heat(just a dab) and sweet undertones, without being too sweet. And there was fresh mint also, which I'm not usually a huge fan of but it worked so well with all these other flavors. 
So. I just HAD to try and duplicate this dish! I did a little research and found out I needed fish sauce for the meat.(I substituted chichen thighs for the pork. And I don't see why you couldn't try beef as well.)Well I didn't have fish sauce. So I used oyster sauce. Which, come to find out is completely different then fish sauce but, work with whatchya got, right? It worked very well. The traditional sauce is so easy to make might I add. A perfect meal for a hot summer day with the cool rice noodles and crispy veggies. I will have to try this again with the fish sauce next time! It came out wonderful! Best of all, hubby loved it!

Monday, August 01, 2011

Two Year Anniversary!

Wow! Can't believe it's been two whole years since we got married!! It really does not feel like that long. I wouldn't trade these last two years for anything with anyone else. The Lord has blessed me with a wonderful, loving husband! I love you Mike! xoxo  And now we're off to our anniversary get away!  See you soon!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Tag Sale Hutch

Tag sale season is upon us! Tag sale, garage sale, yard sale whatever you call it. (Here it's tag sales.) Tag saling is so much fun.Trying to spot those little hand written signs nailed or taped to telephone poles, or stuck in the ground. Hoping it's not from the week before and someone just forgot to take it down, crushing your hopes. Or that the "HUGE Multi-Family Tag Sale" isn't really just three card tables of knick knacks after following sign after sign after sign! Although it can be tiring...make sure to bring snacks and water! This is serious business! And it DOES help if you have a large vehicle. Or, just make sure you have a best friend whose mom doesn't mind coming with her van to load the dresser and hutch you just bought! Haha!
Which is exactly what happened! I found this adorable hutch that just needed a little t-l-c for $15!!!!!
I cleaned it up, sanded it and painted it 'Whimsical Fairy Lily' yellow. I spent more on paint then I wanted to, I ended up having to get another quart. I used a paint with primer in it already but I think because I was painting a lighter color over a darker one it took a few more coats. I also replaced the back because it was warped and cracked, and gave it a quick sanding for a "distressed" look and now it's beautiful and in my kitchen and I love it! A great tag sale find! Here's the before and after pictures!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

One Dish Chicken, Beans & Rice

Tonight I wasn't feeling so hot. I have some kind of head cold. I mean really, it's summer!! Who gets head colds in the middle of summer?! Me. So not right. Anyways. I was not in any mood or shape to make anything, for that matter. But-it needed to be done.
So, I took my mom's onion soup pork chop and rice recipe(yum.) and instead of the onion soup I added taco seasoning, cut the water back and added tomato sauce and a half can of small red beans. I blopped(That's right, that's a very fancy culinary term. Blopped.) my chicken thighs on top, covered it and threw it in the oven. Took all of about 5 minutes or less.
Now this does take about an hour to cook but it gave me some time to rest before hubs got home.
I was happy with how it came out and definitely a time saver dinner keeper! Soft, sticky rice with beans and I ended up shredding the chicken a little bit too and it was a great. The leftovers would make great burrittos or soup too!!

One Dish Chicken, Beans & Rice
1 cup rice
1/2 c water
1/2c tomato sauce
3/4 or 1 full envelope taco seasonings
1/2 can of beans-red, black, whatever
4 chicken thighs or breasts
s&p to taste

Put first five ingredients in 9x13, mixing slightly.
Add beans.
Add chicken thighs or breasts and arrange.
Cover tightly with foil.
Bake @ 350 for 1 hour.
When chicken is cooked through and water has been absorbed it's done.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Borrow the Old to Make the New..

So, it's Friday and what's for dinner? I had ground beef... a couple of sweet potatoes...a pepper that needed to be used...a little of this, a little of that..I wanted something a little out in left field different. I'm crazy like that. It keeps it interesting. And, if nothing else, something to laugh at later or a story to be told to your kids. I mean, you gotta keep trying new things, that's how inventions happen! Or mistakes.... that turn INTO inventions. Ok, so anyways. I decided to create a Southwestern Rancher's Pie! (A spin on the well-known Sheperd's Pie) I browned my ground beef, added that green pepper, onion and a can of diced tomatoes with a melange of southwestern spices. Meanwhile, I boiled my sweet potatoes and mashed them with a hint of butter and a touch of smoked paprika. Mmmm. Then I layered the beef, a can of black beans--ok I used small red beans, sadly I didnt have black beans in my pantry, but any beans really will do--then a layer of corn and finally, the mashed sweet potaotes on top! It really came out quite tastey!  The sweet potatoes balanced out the spices nicely too. And, it is QUITE colorful, and that just makes it that much more fun to eat. :)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Valentine Dinner

We decided to stay in for Valentine's Day this year. It's a little over-rated, but, at any rate, an excuse to do something special or different. I tried to do a full 6 course dinner for my hubby. It was FULL. And tiring. Way too much up and down, back and forth to really enjoy our time together, but I had fun cooking and planning it. By the time the entrees were served I was so tired I didnt want to get up again!  Maybe next time we'll just do a 3 course meal; or better yet maybe I can get my hubby in the kitchen to cook for me! Not so sure about that last one though...I think he'd rather starve then pick up a pot or pan! Haha!
   A beautiful centerpiece, provided by my hubby!
  First Course: French Onion Soup with Gruyre & Swiss cheeses

      Second Course: Lover's Scallops~Twin pan seared sea scallops
over wilted spinach, bacon, toasted pine nuts, shredded paremsan

Fourth Course: Grilled NY Strip Steak, red winereduction, mashed potaotes,
 crispy julienned brussel sprouts
(bad picture.. computer wouldn't let me use the better one. grr.)
Fifth Course: Mesculin greens, roasted garlic vinaigrette,
 balsamic asparagus, dried cranberries and shaved parmesan

Sixth Course:  Raspberry Linzer Tort with almond crust and vanilla ice cream
 (Sadly, I was so tired by the time we had dessert I couldnt muster up
 the energy to take another picture, or one more bite for that matter!)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Need Something? Check out CSN Stores

I don't normally like shopping online because sometimes there is just too much time-consuming searching to find what you need. However, at you can find anything and everything you need in one spot. They have anything you could ever imagine you want! From handbags to cookware, furniture or even a wooden swing set! They have over 200 online stores to browse for your convenience. "It's everything you need for your home and life!"

I will be doing a review of one of their products soon, so make sure to check back for the review post!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

1 Avocado, 2 Avocado...

3 Avocado....16.. Avocados?! So what do you do with 16, extremely ripe avocados?? Well, how about avocado and crab bisque for starters. I am actually just starting to like avocados so it's still a little new for me. AND, I'm NOT a huge crab fan either. BUT, this was surprisingly very good! Rich and creamy tones from the avocado and cream and the sweet crab added just enough texture and flavor to compliment it beautifully.
Then I found a recipe for avocado chocolate truffles! Yes, you heard that right. It was interesting, very rich again. But you couldnt taste the avocado very much at all. Anything's good with chocolate though, right?! Well, it must of been an avocado kindo dayo! My sister had invited me and the hubster over for dinner that evening and she texted me asking to pick up 2 avocados on the way over!! I had to do a double take. I had been seeing green all day!
My selection at the grocery store was not very good, I tried to find the ripest ones amongst the mossy-green rocks!
Upon arrival at sister's house, she informed me she was making an avocado-chocolate frosting!!! How weird!! It was very similar to the recipe I had just used for the truffles earlier. For the frosting they substituted an avocado in place of butter for a healthier alternative...hmmmmmm...
We whipped it up and spread it on fresh chocolate cupcakes. We also spread some with your trademark chocolate canned frosting.(I love that stuff, I dont know why.)
We then fed them to our hubbies....
Verdict? Not so much. They did not appreciate any kind of healthy alternative with this little switch-a-roo here!! Haha! It was quite entertaining.
In the end, if I hadn't known there was avocado in my chocolate frostng, I most likely would not have been able to tell. Although I think using a very ripe avocado would have helped it a bit.
But at least now I know what to make with very ripe avocados!!!

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

New Year, New Blog....Hopefully

Wow. How pathetic it's been almost an entire year that I've posted! Well, it has been a pretty crazy year! :) But at any rate, I will try, yet again, to keep up with this. There'll also be(as you can already see) A new blog name-subject to possible change, again.-facelift and new blog material! I dont know why I cant keep up with at least one post a week. Any tips would be great! :)
Happy New Year everyone!