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Saturday, December 22, 2012

(Wo)Man's Best Friend

This is our Harley. He is a lab/basset hound mix and he is an awesome dog. Harley came to live with me when he was just a puppy. Those first few months were full of sleepless nights. He would cry and bark and howl ALL night if I didn't put him in bed with me. He has always been a Momma's boy. 
Harley is 7 years old now and isn't quite as spry these days. He is still an awesome guard dog but is more content to lie on his bed inside when it is cold. I know his life is in the sunset period and it makes me sad to think that he may not be with us in a few years. He has seizures and lately they seem to be more often. He doesn't jump on the couch anymore and is a little slower getting out of his bed. I sure love this boy and am content to spend more snuggle time and less time chasing him around the cul de sac when he doesn't want to come inside. I love my Harley dog!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Martini Shaker for Fresh Juice

I finally found a use for my old martini shaker. It works great for chilling and straining fresh fruit and vegetable juice. I find my juice is much more enjoyable to drink when it is cold. I add ice to the shaker, pour in my juice, put the top on, and give it a good shake. Then I strain it into a glass. It is ice cold and super yummy! It also helps to mix the juices since they tend to separate. Glad I didn't throw out the martini shaker out when I stopped making martinis :)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Spinach Tortilla Chips

As part of my efforts to eat healthier, I am really trying to avoid foods that are excessively processed or contain tons of artificial preservatives. I was really excited to find Spinach Tortillas at Whole Foods today. I was afraid that they would go bad before I used them and I had a serious craving for chips with my hummus tonight so I made them into tortilla chips. They turned out FANTASTIC! I used my pizza cutter to cut the tortilla into the desired size and baked them on a lightly oiled baking sheet at 350 degrees. I didn't time them since I was busy making the hummus, so just keep an eye on them. They were nice and crisp and fairly thick, like a pita chip. Give them a try! It was nice knowing I was eating something that had only 5 or 6 natural ingredients.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Smoothie Recipe

I am ashamed to admit that I had never actually made a smoothie at home until today. I think it turned out fantastic.

3/4 cup frozen fruit
1/4 cup frozen blueberries (because I had some on hand)
1/4 cup raw rolled oats
1 cup Dannon Lowfat Vanilla Yogurt (started with 1/2 cup but couldn't get the fruit to break down with that small an amount)

Blend it in a blender until smooth. I ended up needing to add just a splash of juice to thin it out.


Monday, December 3, 2012

Best Holiday Decorating Tool, ever!

These little clips are great. They are like Command hooks except they are made for hanging garland, lights, ribbon, etc. indoors. I use them to hang garland on my entertainment credenza. I would NEVER consider using tape or tacks on my favorite piece of living room furniture so these work great. I used them last year and they didn't leave any mark when I removed them after Christmas. And the adhesive back is replaceable. I have to go get more of the backs tomorrow so I can finish up my living room. Give these a try.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

A conversation with myself...

I have been really sick twice in the last 3 months from cold and sinus infections. And I have been feeling like poop and tired a lot. So I sat myself down and had a stern 'come to Jesus' meeting with myself.  It went something like this:

My body: Look chick, this isn't working so well. You know better.
Me: Shut up. I don't feel good. My jeans are making me uncomfortable and I want a cookie.
My body: Are you flippin kidding me???? What do I gotta do to get your attention? You wanna feel bad all the time?? And don't you want to have a baby sometime soon? You gonna feed your kid crappy food???
Me: *paying attention* Your right, lets do this...

So I went grocery shopping last night and got lots of fruits and veggies. I found my bottle of vitamins that I bought but never opened several months ago. I located my running shoes in the back of the closet and laid out my exercise clothes for tomorrow morning (today being fast Sunday). Then I logged into after being gone for almost a year, entered my current weight, and saw this little beauty:

Terrific. Yeah, that is a widget I would want to add, right? So now I have to lose those 26 pounds to break even with the last good place. Doh!
So why am I sharing all of this? Well I guess for motivation for myself. I have put it out there in public. And also so you, my friends and family, will understand if I don't eat that yummy piece of pie at Christmas dinner. Or if I do eat the pie and then start running laps around your house, now you know  ;)
Anyone else had this struggle and want to offer advice? Leave me a comment below.


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Easy Homemade Christmas Ornaments

Last year I was really needing more ornaments for my tree but hadn't budgeted for them so I needed to be creative and use something that I already had on hand. This is one of my ideas.

Old Christmas cards with beautiful pictures and canning lids

I painted the lids on both sides. Then I used the inside of a canning jar band as a template and traced  the part of the card that I wanted to use. I used the smallest diameter of the band so that I would have the painted lid as a sort of frame. I cut out the circles and glued them to the lid. I then hot glued a loop of ribbon onto the back so that it could be hung on the tree.

How easy is that? And I repurposed items that I already had so it was FREE :) 

Here are a few of my favorites:

These could be made with any picture or just decorated with paint and glitter. I like the home made Christmas feel of them and it was great to be able to use the Christmas cards that were sent to me in such a permanent and beautiful way. You could even mark who sent the card on the back of the ornament. I always date any new ornaments we put on our tree so we can remember when and how we aquired them. Let your creativity take over and make some of these for your tree.
Merry Christmas :)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Reception Decorations

I can't take much credit for the reception decorations. I made most the the elements, but my awesome friends put it all together that morning. It turned out fantastic!!! I am so thankful for them!
The tables were covered with white table clothes. The centerpieces are more sunflower, mason jar, and burlap. The clear plates were set on top of sunflower yellow doilies.
The head table with these cute signs and yellow linen table clothes draped diagonally.
The guest book table: We put one of our engagement photos in a frame made of weathered barn wood. The Guest Book sign is wooden and made by a friend. The basket contains the bird seed packets that I made.
I stamped plain brown mini bags with sunflower and love bird stamps. I purchased the stamps and bags at Michael's. I used a tiny piece of tape to seal the back of the bag.
The gift table had a cute white basket for cards and had another engagement photo displayed. It also had a larger flower arrangement. This was placed one one side of the front door, opposite the guest book, so that our guest could unload the gifts without having to carry them across the room while greeting family and friends.
The cake table had the same yellow linen that was on the head dining table. We also served after dinner mints and chocolate mints along with the cakes. We displayed another engagement photo here. The toasting glasses were tied with jute and we toasted with sparkling apple cider.

The beautiful cake was so perfect for our wedding. I loved the detail on the cake and then the sunflower and burlap around the center section.  

The groom's cake. We are both huge Walking Dead fans so we both liked this. Jason's comment to everyone was, "We are married until one of us turns to dust. Luckily I married a clean freak!" :)
Our menu featured beans and cornbread, mini corn dogs, cheese balls and crackers, veggie platters with dip, and little cocktail wieners. Jason made the beans and they were the best I have ever had. He got many compliments on them.

We made favor bags with tulle and candy corn. I thought that was cute for a fall wedding. These were put into small metal buckets and placed on each table.


I am so happy with how beautifully the reception hall turned out. It was a great time to visit with our family and friends and celebrate our marriage. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Wedding Decorations

We got our wedding pictures back and they are fantastic! I wanted to do a post about some of the decorations that I made. Maybe this will spark ideas for other brides to be who are working on a very limited budget and want to DIY the decorations.
Our theme was sunflowers and burlap. We wanted to do a rustic, simple, country wedding but didn't want it to go to far into the rednecky country way.
Here is how it turned out:

This was the setting for the ceremony, to give you some perspective. It is a little wooden chapel on land owned by Mr. Bob Abbot in Rison, Arkansas. He was kind enough to let us use it for our wedding. The chapel is surrounded by trees and has a lake behind it.

I made the wreath above the door by hot gluing sunflowers onto a vine wreath and hanging the letter with jute. The B is my new last name initial :) Looking back I should have wired them on so I could change them out easier for other flowers for different seasons. The idea was to use things that could then be reused in our home decor.

We used sunflowers arranged in mason jars and hung them on shepherds hooks along the brick walkway and on the picket fence. A friend of mine made some of these for her daughter's wedding and was kind enough to share with me.

 The groom wanted to showcase his "ostrich of love" in the courtyard of the chapel. So I added a cheap veil and bow tie to them. It added a touch of whimsy :)
For the inside of the chapel I kept it very very simple and minimalist. The rustic chapel was such a naturally beautiful place to me. And the view of the lake through the picture window at the front was amazing! Since the chapel has no electricity, the window and the double doors being opened provided natural sunlight on the chilly October morning.
This is a stunning view.

The wooden pews were fabulous so I just alterenated a candle arrangement and a flower arrangement on the floor at the end of each pew along the center.

The candle arrangement is a quart mason jar, wrapped with a piece of burlap and a sunflower. The candle stick holder is an antique design and fits onto the mason jar. The sunflower arrangement is just a pint mason jar with burlap gathered around it and tied with twine.
I made this sunflower ball by low temp hot gluing sunflowers to an 18 inch Styrofoam ball.This was probably the single most expensive thing I made due to the cost of the Styrofoam and the flowers.  I glued a small loop of twine to the top and we hung it with more twine around the rafter right above where we stood to say our vows. It added a beautiful pop of color. It was almost like standing under mistletoe when we kissed :)
We used a simple white isle runner and the flower girl tossed yellow flowers. I bought cheap yellow flowers and took them apart to make her petals because I could not find yellow petals anywhere! Turns out this way was much cheaper and they fell really well.
Our unity candle was another thing that I made because I could not find what I wanted. I bought an inexpensive candle set and decorated them to the theme of the wedding. I wrapped each taper candle with a strip of burlap and then wrapped the unity candle in burlap. I glued a wooden heart to the burlap. Voila! I also made the stand the unity candle is sitting on by taking the same type of taper candle holder and using E6000 glue to attach a glass pillar candle plate. I think it turned out cute!

The bouquets were sunflowers with greenery and tied with burlap bows. The beautiful young lady next to me in my baby sister and Matron of Honor. You will see more of her in another post about our wedding later on...
I hope our ceremony decorations helped to spark some creative ideas for you. I will be doing a separate post on the reception decorations soon!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

My Aunt Kathy is still missing. Please help.

This is my Aunt Kathy. She is my mother's sister.  She hasn't been seen or heard from since February. She went missing from the home she shared with her boyfriend in Houston. She is orginally from Clovis, New Mexico. Houston Police Department Homicide Division is actively investigating her disappearance but haven't yet made any arrest. Please help us spread the word by sharing this poster or a link to this webpage. My grandparents, Buddy and Joyce Wasson, live in New Mexico. My grandpa is in ill health and I know this stress is making his condition worse. Mamaw Joyce is very worried and upset about her daughter. Kathy's 7 brothers and sisters, her children, and many many friends are praying for her return. Please Please take a look carefully at her picture and see if anything looks familar to you. Perhaps someone saw something and didn't realize the significance at the time. 
There is a YouTube video with more pictures of Aunt Kathy. Please view and share it as well. Kathy Lawson Arrendondo Video

Thank for you taking the time to read this. All prayers are welcome on behalf of Kathy and the family.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Best baseboard cleaner, ever!

I tackled my kitchen baseboards today. I have been needing to do it for a while but putting it off. I found a floor grease cutter cleaner recipe on Pinterest several weeks ago and was pretty excited to try it out today. I decided to mix up a batch and clean the baseboards before I started on the kitchen floor.
All I can say is WOW!!!!  This stuff works great! Best baseboard cleaning session I have ever had the pleasure of enduring :)
I also used it to mop my kitchen floor and have mixed results. I made a fresh batch for the floors and think that I might have gone a little heavy on the dish soap because I had mega suds and needed to rinse the floor afterward. But it still did a pretty darn good job on cleaning my old vinyl kitchen floor!

Here is the recipe:
Place all the ingredients into a bucket and mix well until sudsy.
Not recommended for waxed floors--it may make the wax gunky

Give it a try and comment below how it worked for you!

Busy, busy October

I can't believe that it has been a month since I updated! It has been super busy around here.

On October 27, 2012 I married my best friend. This is an event that deserves its own post, so I am only mentioning it here. I will post details and pictures once we get the photos back from the photographer.

Halloween is one of our favorite holidays. I didn't get to decorate the yard and porch as much as I usually do due to the wedding preperations, but I was able to get a few things set out.  Jason was able to be home that night, but wasn't feeling that well. He observed from the couch. I love handing out candy to all the trick or treaters! We usually get a lot of kids in our neighborhood.  I wish I had a picture of Jason's face when I came in from the store and started preparing the buckets of candy. He thought I was nuts to have that much candy ready. But when the night was over we only had part of one bucket left.
I am getting really excited for Thanksgiving and Christmas. We will be going to the Bradley's for Thanksgiving and then we are hosting Christmas Day at our house. My sister and brother in law should be in town for Christmas and I am so happy! Now to get the deocrations out of the attic and the lights onto the house.....    :)

Friday, October 5, 2012

Pizza bites

I am always looking for quick, easy lunches I can fix for myself when Jason is working. I found a winner with these pizza bites.

mini french bread
tomato sauce (I usually have a jar in the fridge)
seasonings (I used Shirley J pizza and pasta season mix)
shredded cheese

Slice your bread fairly thin. Mix tomato sauce and seasonings to taste. Top each bread slice with a little sauce. Sprinkle on cheese and any toppings you might have in the fridge. Toast until the cheese is melted and bubbly. I use my toaster oven for this. It only takes 5 or 10 minutes. Just watch it close.

So yummy, so simple, so quick.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Powdered Laundry Detergent

In the past I have made and used liquid homemade laundry soap. You can find the liquid recipe here. 

Recently I made a batch of the powdered laundry soap. The powder uses the same dry ingredients and amounts as the liquid, but takes up much less room to store. I haven't had any problems with it clumping on my clothes, even when washing in cold water. I use about 2 tablespoons for a large load. Even using coupons, I find this much cheaper than any store bought detergent and it works VERY well. Because it is non-sudsy, it works fine in regular and HE washers. :)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Cheese Cake Fried Pie

As requested by so many of my Facebook Friends, here is my recipe:

Cheese Cake Fried Pie

Filling (this is to easy!):
1 package of cream cheese, softened
1 jar of marshmallow cream

Mix well in a bowl.

Everyone has their own favorite pie crust, so I am not even going there!
Just roll out your crust and cut into circles. I didn't bother pulling out the biscuit cutter. I had a wide mouth mason jar sitting on the counter waiting to be put away so I used it.

Place a scant spoonful of filling in the middle of each circle. Dampen your finger with water and run it around the edges of the circle. Fold the circle in half and kind of redistribute the filling with your hands to even it out and get rid of the excess air. Use a fork to seal the edges nice and pretty.

I fried my pies in a heavy bottom skillet with about an inch or so of canola oil heated to about 375 degrees. It only take a few minutes. When the pie starts to float, flip it over and brown the other side. These will burn quick so watch carefully!

Drain on a wire rack and paper towel. For an even better time, dust the hot pie lightly with powder sugar. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Vegetable Juice Potluck

Vegetable Juice Potluck

1 tomato (I used a handful of tomatoes off my plant)
2 celery stalks
2 large carrots
5 large broccoli florets
1/2 cucumber
I only give this juice a 5 out of 10. It has an after taste that I find unpleasant. I do like getting my veggies in though. It made a decent lunch.

Juice #3 How Sweet It Is

Today's juice is all fruit and all sweet:
Sweet Surprise
3 spears pineapple
1 orange (peeled)
4 fresh strawberries
1 bunch of grapes

I give this juice a 10 out of 10! It is sweet and smooth and easy on the taste buds. Just know that it has a lot of fruit sugars so if you have blood sugar issues be cautious!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Sweet Potato Surprise

Today's featured juice is Sweet Potato Surprise:

1 pear
2 carrots
1 orange (peeled)
1 sweet potato

I give this juice an 8 out of 10. The taste is awesome and almost creamy. There was a slightly gritty coating left on my tongue and mouth after each swallow, but not enough to be really bothersome. I am pretty sure this was from the sweet potato.  This is almost a dessert juice as it is sweet. Give it a try. :)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Fruits and Veggies

I have been wanting to add more fruits and vegetables into our diet. My sister told me about a juicing program that she was doing and I thought I might incorporate some of the principles into our menu. We will still eat lean proteins and prepared foods while adding in fresh vegetable and fruit juice. I will probably drink juice for at least one meal and one snack a day.

So I give you today's lunch:

Mean Green Juice
1 bunch of kale
4 stalks of celery
1 cucumber
2 granny smith apples
1/2 lemon
1 inch cut of ginger

Wash the vegetables and put through a juice machine. Leave skins and peels on for this juice!

Once I got past the green color, it was delicious! And think about how many vegetables you can get in by juicing. There is no way I could have eaten all that whole!
I am excited to try different combinations in the coming weeks and I will share some of my favorites :)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

He asked! I said yes!

Monday, July 9th was a very memorable day. It started off as just another Monday. Jason had to leave out headed to Indiana so I was going to carry him to the truck yard. I love getting to drop him off at work, although I hate to see him go. We decided to meet his mom and sister for lunch before he had to leave. I called my mom to see if she wanted to eat also. We made plans to meet at Chiles at noon. On the drive to Pine Bluff he was so cheerful and funny. We were singing and dancing to the 90s on 9 XM radio station. (some one remind me when the suspension goes out on the Pretty Prius that we shouldn't dance in the car). He didn't seem nervous or anything.

When we arrived his mom, sister, and niece were already seated on one side of the table. I took the seat nearest the wall, trying to be courteous to my mom and Jason. Jason likes to sit on the outside, so Mom took the middle seat. We ordered and got our drinks. Jason stood up and asked my mom to switch seats so I could sit by him. I thought it was kind of weird, but switched with her.
Then when he kept standing and looked nervous, I knew something was up. He pulled a ring box from his pocket, knelt on one knee, and melted my heart with the sweetest proposal. Of course I said YES! Then Taylor, who is 4, came around the table with a dozen long stem pink roses and asked if I would  be her aunt. I nearly started crying. Even if I could have said no to Jason, there was no way to say no to Taylor! :)

I was so happy that our moms and his sister got to see him propose! My mom was crying! And his mom and sister took pictures. A waiter came by and gave me a high five and people were awwing and smiling at us. A few clapped. It was fun :)

And then I dropped him off to go on a 3 day run to Indiana. The people in his office were laughing that we got engaged and then he left. But it didn't seem strange to me. He works hard for our little family of doggie kids and for our future big family. I feel so blessed to be marrying the sweetest, most thoughtful, doting, loving man in the world.

I was shocked!
The beautiful ring!

The beautiful roses that Taylor picked out

I gave Momma Debbie (Jason's mom), Ashley (Jason's sister), my Momma, and Taylor (Jason's niece) each a flower from my bouqet. Taylor loved playing with hers and used the long stem to pretend it was a magic wand. She is so cute!