Monday, December 30, 2013

Weekly Menu

I missed last weeks menu because I was busy stuffing my face with pecan pie, pralines, mexican wedding cookies and candy while in Lake Charles for the holidays.  BUT, I'm back .....a little sugared up but back.

This week:

Pasta with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Feta Cheese
Roasted Vegetable Enchiladas
BBQ Tempeh with Black Eyed Peas and Greens
Double Bean Burritos
NYE Pizza (New Year's Eve Pizza Party)

I'll post next week about what kind of pizza Bob decided to whip up for NYE.  I'm hoping for his famous greek pizza with a garlic cream sauce but we'll see!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Guest Room Headboard

The guest room that is downstairs  was the first room to get painted and stained (we have stained about 40% of all the trim in our home....half way done) but for a long time and sill sometimes it becomes the 'catch all' room.  I'm fine with that because sometimes you just need more than junk drawer in the kitchen. Sometimes you need an entire room designated to hold your shit while you gut your kitchen or paint every wall in your house, or are being squished into a small living room until the addition is built. I've accepted this room as a junk room. While the guest room is nice to have to hold our stuff  while we renovate it does need to act as an actual guest room from time to time so I wanted it to look nice and somewhat put together.  I didn't spend a whole lot of time decorating this room because well most of the time it's a hot mess.  The bed that is in that room does not have a headboard and it looked really unfinished.  I didn't want to spend a bunch of money but I wanted it to look nice so months when Bob was on one of his weekly trips to Lowes I asked him to pick up some cedar fence post.  I planned to just nail them to the wall behind the bed.  Three months later we finally got around to it.

No headboard.  Vera our cat was upset I interrupted her afternoon slumber.

Headboard! 

Little diva.  She heard me taking pictures and ran in and jumped on the bed.


*Side note...I just noticed my green pillows are missing in the after pictures.  Lars gathers all the pillows in the house and lays them on the living room floor and jumps on them. Bob taught him this. I'm assuming that's what happened to them. 


Friday, December 20, 2013

The Whole Kitchen and Nothing but the Kitchen

I haven't shown a FULL picture of our kitchen yet because the room off of the kitchen is still a hot mess and makes me feel like the kitchen is still unfinished. Currently, it's the laundry room and half bath but it's going to be completely gutted in a bit and made into the dinning area and then we are adding an addition that will house the new laundry room, half bath and mud room. But right now it's a room of complete chaos. It is the storage for tools, lumber we plan to use in other projects and the laundry area. I usually have a curtain hanging up to hide it but the day I took these pictures was the day the flooring was installed and the curtain had been taken down so that the refrigerator could be stored there while they worked on the floors.

BUT I wanted to share a true before and after picture since I'm so excited about the kitchen.  The only thing left to do for the kitchen is to purchase a new fridge and dishwasher which will hopefully happen sooner rather than later but we'll see.  Those items just keep getting pushed to the bottom of the list because the fridge and dishwasher we have now work.

It was a lot of work but we had a lot of good helpers and the outcome is great! You just don't understand how excited I am to be done with the kitchen.  I. AM. SO. EXCITED! SOOOOOOOO EXCITED!!!





Thursday, December 19, 2013

Lars....the funniest person I know

I've long said that Lars is hands down the funniest person I've ever met and I'm standing by that.  Yall, this kid is outrageous.  He's sarcastic (wonder where that comes from????), funny, understands way more than we think he does, is a smarty pants and is always on his A game. He's opinionated, strong willed and independent but at the same time he's sensitive, caring and curious. He's my best friend and I think about him every second of the day.

Lars has a way of making any day significantly brighter even if your day is already peachy.  If I could bottle up his personality and sell it...I would make a killing.

Lars is still in love with animals...all animals.  He loves arts and crafts and turns anything into a musical instrument.  He will gather a stack of books and ask you to sit with him read.  Spending time outside seems to be therapeutic for him.  It cures any tantrum, sickness or grumpy pants-ness.  He loves to rough house with Bob when I'm not around as well as jump on the couch. "I jump on da towch mama"

He's still a good eater although has become a bit pickier but I can't complain.  He's all about avocados, black beans and brown rice, cheese, hummus, lima beans, popsicles, pirates booty, cinnamon ginger pancakes or any pancake really and anything citrus although citrus is the ONE thing I have discovered that gives him diaper rash...yuck!

He loves bubbles up to the ceiling in the bathtub, loves to be dragged around the floor on a sheet, loves to build forts and 'hide', loves to take sink baths, LOVES to dance and is actually a really good dancer, loves to do yoga next me, loves to eat, loves to meet new people.  He dislikes going to bed, having his diaper changed, having to go inside, having a limited time on my phone, his hair being washed and socks.

He amazes us every single day and I still look at him and can't believe he's mine!

music time

he loves hair accessories :) 

my morning lars

LOOK AT THAT FACE!!!!!



Truthful Thursday

I always try to buy cruelty free and eco friendly products but truthfully I know how hard it is sometimes and how expensive it can get and I'm in no way claiming to have a completely cruelty free household, although that's a goal.   It's so frustrating that something that's cruelty free, vegan and/or environmentally friendly is more expensive....it drives me crazy sometimes.  I don't understand it!  But it is what it is. 

For me it's much easier to justify spending more on organic food than it is for beauty/cleaning products. It probably isn't logical but we have always bought organic/fair trade food....it's just something we do. Our income has adjusted to the expense and sometimes extra expense it cost to do so. It's just not something I'm willing to sacrifice at this point. My cleaning products mainly consist of Seventh Generation, Method and vinegar + H20. Those seem to be the cost effective and readily available. BUT, to be perfectly honest I do have cleaners that are stored in the top cabinets of the laundry room like my couch cleaner that is amazing and I can't part with it because it gets off any and every single stain or mess that's on my couch. I've tried so many things and nothing compares or the dish washing soap we use. I've tried all the eco friendly dish washing soaps out there and with our hard water we have it just doesn't cut it. We try to be very aware of the products we buy and the food we eat.  I think that's the first step in becoming a more conscious consumer.






Other products we use and find fairly reasonable

Remember in middle school and high school when you could buy that cheap Wet n' Wild crap....well guess what?? That cheap crap is a Peta and cruelty free certified company and the majority of there products are vegan.  They state here that they do use carmine in some products but they list all of their vegan products on their website. 





Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Weekly Menu

This weeks menu consist of recipes from the past menus.  This is because I'm pushed for time today and this week and the easiest thing to do is not have to think or look for new recipes but use recipes I already know are yummy. We have a lot going on this week and by a lot I mean we are starting the installation of our new floors!!! Whoop Whoop!! More about that in another post. We are also squeezing in a trip to the Wimberley Trail of Lights, gift wrapping and packing to leave on Sunday for a trip to Lake Charles.  It's nice to have recipes on hand so I don't have to stress about finding good healthy dinner food.  And thanks so my super groovy husband for grocery shopping all the time.

Grilled Gruyère and Olive Tapenade Sandwiches

Monday, December 16, 2013

Light it up

We (Bob) switched out the kitchen lights over the weekend and we're so happy with outcome! They look great!  Bob started with the light over the sink and wasn't sure if he was going to be able to do all the rest but because he's awesome, he did! It was quite a bit of work because the only fixture that was staying in the same place was the one over the sink.  All the others were be torn out and new ones put up in completely different places.  So there was a lot of splicing of wires, climb in the attic, cutting holes in the ceiling going on. We still need to patch, plaster and paint over the holes where the old fixtures were but the hard part is done! We were a little nervous as to what we find under the huge fluorescent monster of a light but it was actually the tiniest little hole that the wires to ran though....that was a load off.  We were also curious as to how much light the fixture over the island was going to emit.  Being that it is the main source of light in the kitchen we were holding our breath and hoping that we weren't going to have to put in recessed lighting.  Viola!  It is plenty of light!! We are actually going to be purchasing a dimmer for the lights because at times they could stand to be a bit more ambient.

this is the kitchen before we did anything to it but you can see the old fixtures minus the fluorescent one. shame on me for not taking a good before picture!

the old light above the sink

bob hard at work. you can catch a glimpse of the fluorescent monster in the top left corner.


All finished!

It was pretty impossible to take a good photo with the lights on because they are so damn bright that it just washed out the picture and the fixture.  We have some great natural light flooding the kitchen mid morning so I took advantage of it. 












Friday, December 13, 2013

Vegetarian Calzones - Homemade Veggie Filled Healthy Italian Calzones


Vegetarian Calzones - Homemade Veggie Filled Healthy Italian Calzones

Bob made these tonight.  They were delish!  There's a blog post already about making the dough, so I skipped that part.  If you missed it, check out Bob's Easy Homemade Pizza Dough Recipe.



Ingredients:
  • about 3 tablespoons of marinara sauce (or about 2 tablespoons of olive oil)
  • *veggies (1/4 cup of diced tomatoes, 1/4 cup diced  squash/zucchini, 1/2 cup diced spinach, tablespoon diced onion, tablespoon diced garlic)
  • Ricotta Cheese
  • Herbs
  • a couple slices of mozzarella cheese
  • Parmesan cheese


** You can really add any veggies you want.  If Bob was making it for himself, it would be filled with jalapenos, onions, bell peppers, (and a fun day in the W.C. the next day).  Just don't add so much that it makes the calzone too full, since the dough can stretch and break.

Once you have the dough, roll it into an oval (almost football shaped).  Layer the center with sauce.  Some people prefer just olive oil, but it's up to you.  You'll want to keep the sauce -- as well the other toppings and cheese -- in the center, away from the outer edges of the dough.

 


In a separate bowl, fork out about 6 tablespoons of ricotta cheese.  Add a pinch of salt, pepper, and various herbs.  We used thyme, oregano, rosemary, and a little red pepper flakes.  Bob also added a "trickle" of heavy whipping cream (which is excluded from the "healthy" part...), as well as a small dollop of marinara sauce.  Stir it up.  If it's too thick, add a teaspoon of olive oil.



Place spoonfuls of the ricotta mix onto the calzone.  Leave yourself about half of the mix for later.



Heap on the veggies.  Keep them at the bottom of the oval, toward where you're standing.



Add the remaining ricotta cheese on top of the veggies, and lay out your strips of mozzarella cheese.  Add Parmesan cheese to the top in a light sprinkle.



Now the fun part.  Fold the calzone in half, making sure the edges are lined up (the top and bottom edges should evenly overlap).

 

At the edges, roll the dough toward the top and into itself, like your kneading it, and twist it to make a seal.  Check out the picture for the end result, and note the twisted texture to lock the calzone shut.  It's not perfect, but just make sure it's sealed up all along the edges so the calzone cooks properly inside.
 

Add a drizzle of olive oil to the top, and spread it evenly over the top of the calzone, as well as over the twisted edges.  With a sharp knife, cut little vents (slits) in the top of the dough.  Be careful to ONLY SLIT THE TOP, and not the bottom.  Don't let the knife go through the whole thing!  This lets the steam escape.

 


Sprinkle the top with parmesan cheese and maybe some fresh oregano, and cook at 350 for about 15-20 minutes, until it's a nice golden brown, and slightly crispy to the touch.  You'll see the parmesan cheese crisped to a delicious brown! Slice it in even slices and serve it up!  Enjoy!




Thursday, December 12, 2013

Truthful Thursday - Ikea Kitchen Review

It's that time....Truthful Thursdays! I thought I would share my thoughts with y'all on 2 items from our Ikea kitchen.  The stainless steel cabinets and the butcher block counter tops.  Those are the 2 items people ask me the most about.

When we (really, me. Bob was mainly concerned with price and installation) decided to use the stainless steel cabinets we knew it was a little out of the ordinary and we were hesitant about it but I thought I would really regret not trying it.  The butcher block counter tops are a little more mainstream but still I felt they were a little risky to use all over but I couldn't resist! Again, the combination of the modern stainless with the rustic organic look and feel of the butcher blocks makes my heart swell.

I was most concerned with the stainless steel cabinets mainly because they seemed so different but flash forward to today and truthfully my main concern should have been the butcher block counter tops.




Stainless Steel Cabinets
I love these Ikea stainless steel cabinets and all the Ikea cabinets for that matter!  People often asked me if the stainless steel cabinets get dirtier or are harder to clean.  They don't get any dirtier than any other cabinet you would choose and they don't particularly show dirt easier than other cabinets I've had.  Now, they do show fingerprints just like any stainless steel appliance would.  If imperfections drive you crazy then these are not for you.  I don't mind it and frankly, I don't even notice it.  Maybe it's the lighting in the kitchen or just my ignorance but it makes no difference to me if they have fingerprints on them or not.  I think it adds to the rustic feel of the kitchen.  I wipe them down maybe once a month with vinegar and water and then a dry towel and ta-da.  Ikea only offers limited choices in the stainless steel cabinets as far as sizes go.  That was a concern in the beginning but it has turned out to be great.  I love how big and wide they are.  They are roomy and can hold a lot! I would bet to say that 30% of my cabinets are empty because they can store so much. I would defiantly consider incorporating these into another kitchen. I love the industrial and modern look of them. And I've come to learn that they really do look good with almost any kind of textile, fixture or color.

Butcher Block Counter tops
I have a love/hate relationship with my butcher block counter tops. When I say I love the looks of the stainless and butcher block together...I mean I really LOVE it! I adore the way these counter tops look.  It completes the kitchen and goes perfectly with the feel of the house. I even love all the imperfections that butcher block accumulates.  Again, if perfection is your thing and scratches and weird little color variations are going to make you mad.....I'd advise you to steer clear of anything in my kitchen :) The butcher block on the island is ideal but that's the only part of our kitchen where it belongs. Our kitchen is used and abused on a daily basis...and it's used and abused pretty hard.  The butcher block is struggling with the beatings day in and day out.  The butcher block around the sink and around the cook top take the biggest hits and while right now it looks fine....I see it weathering fairly quickly. I think fully butcher blocked counter tops would work best in a kitchen that isn't put through the ringer quite as much as ours is.  Perhaps a kitchen that belongs to someone who has a little more time to properly care for them or maybe a second home or vacation home.  Because I have a pretty good connection to stone and granite counter tops (my dad has a granite and stone business) Bob and I have talked about replacing the counter tops in the future but leaving it on the island.  This initially worried me quite a bit because I love the combination of the two so much but I've found some pictures of various stones with the stainless and it looks nice. I think we need something more durable and something that can handle the heat.


stainless with white stone counter tops

stainless with black stone counter tops




A good laugh

So I'm sure you've seen this picture unless you live under a rock.  Let me be clear that I'm not hating on Gisele at all.  I think breastfeeding in any light is wonderful. Any amount, for any length...whatever. I think it's all lovely and wonderful.

Now, let's get to the point of the post. I literally laughed out loud when I saw this. Because seriously, I remember what I looked like breastfeeding and this picture couldn't be further from it.


 It was more like this....




That's all. I just thought it was really funny.  I struggled with breastfeeding in every aspect and I was very overwhelmed and emotional with the whole process so seeing it in this light makes me chuckles.   If I would have seen this photo while in the midst of my hot mess of a breastfeeding self I probably would have wanted to gouge her eyes out, but now it's funny.  A good laugh indeed.  She's gorgeous and well that's her job...to be beautiful so good for her. I would love to have someone do my hair, nails and make up while nursing.  Maybe I'll see how much a beauty crew cost when I have my next bebe :) 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Weekly Menu

Well shit, it's already Wednesday and I'm just getting around to putting up the weekly menu.  But as Pete the Cat would say, 'it's all good.'  Y'all need to get on the Pete the Cat bandwagon...the books are hysterical.

Anyway, here ya go.

Cream of broccoli soup
Veggie Baked Ziti
Falafel Wrap with tzatziki sauce
Peanut butter thai pasta with veggies
Roasted Veggie Calzone with ricotta cheese (Bob's creation)
Spicy black bean burgers with sweet potato fries (black bean burgers are compliments of Morning Star)


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Let there be light!

The new kitchen fixtures are ready!  We've put this off for a while because it just wasn't top priority.  There are lights in the kitchen now that work...they may be ugly but they're there. There's 3 pendant lights (2 over the place where the island use to be and 1 over the sink) there's also that awful florescent kitchen light that needs to go buh-bye asap.  We are completely getting rid of the florescent light and are holding out hope that the new pendant lighting over the island and sink will be enough light.

We are going to be putting these over the island and this guy over the sink....I think. I'm fairly notorious for changing my mind so keep your fingers crossed.


Island Lighting




Sink Lighting








Monday, December 9, 2013

Barn Beautiful

What is it about a beautiful rustic barn that leaves me yearning to sell all my belongings, throw caution to the wind and live the 'simple life'? Well, maybe that's a little too drastic because I will admit to being a gal of modern amenities (I blame my parents...introducing me to warm water, electricity and a toilet.  what were they thinking?)

I've had a mild obsession with barns for a long time.  I think it started when I was actually using my college degree and working as a photographer.  Every photographer loves a good barn, right? The texture, the shapes, the nooks and crannies, the old weathered wood.  And through our travels I've stumbled upon many a barns that make me go, 'ahhhhhhhhhhhh.'  They're peaceful, and simple and organic and old.

I've always left my barn love at just that...barn love.  Never ever thought to incorporate it into our future plans but as time goes on and Bob and I talk more and more about building one day, a barn sounds lovely. Whether we actually have the ability to convert an old barn or build a 'modern' day barn from scratch.  I've mentioned before that I love mixing old and new when it comes to home design and decor.  The contrast of something really old or rustic with something modern makes me all kinds of happy. A barn seems like the perfect way to go.  I should say a modern rustic barn...just to clarify.   Not looking to make something like this home


Something more like this


Something simple.  Not too small, not too big.  The picture above is actually a picture of the house we currently have at the top of the list.  They layout works and it's pretty adorable. 

This house is amaze-balls! It's by architect Russel Groves and I'd like to have a gazillion dollars to have him come design and decorate our new home.  But since stumbling upon a bucket with a gazillion dollars in it seems slim, I will just draw inspiration from this house.  The rustic and modern and even mid century decor all looks perfect together. The simplicity, the textures, the angles...they just rock. 

Seriously, this house makes me crazy.  I think I'll keep ogling over it.... 







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