bgrnd

Monday, March 2, 2015

2015 To Read Booklist





I was inspired by my fellow friend and blogger at themamabomb.com to share my book list with you.

I am an avid reader- and many of you who know me in "real life" know I spend most of my free time with a book...or my kindle, or both. I thought I'd share with you some books I'm looking forward to reading this year and what I've thought of the ones I've already read. If you want my complete list, and are a reader like me- feel free to follow me on Goodreads.

Right now I'm reading Rare Bird: A Memoir of Loss and Love by Anna Whiston-Donaldson. I just started it, and I love it so far. It is heartbreaking and honest. It will have you in tears and laughing out loud. I can't wait to finish it.

I just finished The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. I couldn't put it down! I'm not *usually* much into reading historical fiction, but this book totally changed my mind. It is a heroic and sad tale of two sisters and their roles in WWII France. It is very well written and it feels like you're there, going through everything that these two sisters are experiencing. I definitely recommend this. It's a fairly long book, but I gobbled it up in 3 days.

Before that, I read Before I Go by Colleen Oakley. It was pretty good, and the main character is very relate-able. I would probably think the same way if I were in here situation. I don't want to give away too much of the plot, but I do recommend it. 

I just realized all of the books I recommended are pretty sad books, so it looks like I'll have to pick up something more lighthearted next.

Here's my to-read list this spring:

- I Must Say: My Life as a Humble Comedy Legend by Martin Short. I love Martin Short, he always makes me laugh. I will probably get this book on Audible so that I can hear it read by him, which I'm sure will make it even better.

- The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. I have this book on my library wait list, and can't wait until it's my turn!

- Living Well, Spending Less: 12 Secrets of the Good Life by Ruth Soukup. I love her blog and can't wait to pick up this book.

- Wonder by R.J. Palacio. This is a young adult book, but I really want to read it. My son was born with a craniofacial disorder (like the boy in the book). My son's is much less severe, but the surgical team actually recommended it to us, and other parents who's children suffer from similar disorders.

- Still Alice by Lisa Genova. I know this will be a tough read, but I've been wanting to read it for awhile. I definitely want to read it before I see the movie.

So, that's my spring to-read list. What's on your lists? I'd love any recommendations from my fellow avid readers!

Linking:


Monday, February 23, 2015

Greek Couscous Salad

homework


We've been on a slightly healthier kick lately, and I've been making up salads ahead of time so that I can eat them throughout the week. I started to get sick of the same ole same ole lettuce salads, and moved onto some other types with quinoa or cous cous. I made up this greek version a while back, and we LOVE it...my hubby eats just as much of it as I do, maybe more. So, I thought I'd share it with you guys, and maybe you can give me some tips on what would make it even better- or share with me some of your favorite lunch salad recipes.

I forgot to put the feta cheese in this pic. But get some of that too!

I bought some whole wheat couscous at Aldi, and I love it. Super easy and quick to cook, Start by cooking that up and setting it aside to cool.

Then go ahead and chop your veggies. I used cucumber (also really good with english cucumber, and then you don't have to peel it first), about one large one should do the trick. Then I seeded some grape tomatoes so that they wouldn't make the salad as mushy, but you could just cut them and half if you want more tomato flavor. I used about half a pint of the tomatoes. You could also add in some red onion, but I didn't have any, and I'm funny about raw onions. But, if you're into that kinda thing- go for it!



Then, I rinsed a can of chickpeas really well and added them to the other veggies. I am having a love affair with chickpeas at the moment. They're SO good in salads, and I am obsessed with hummus. I've been dipping everything in it, veggies, chips, pita, my fingers....but I digress...


Then I took a handful of kalamata olives and sliced them up. The amount you use is up to you. I generally don't even like olives, but they give this recipe a little something that I would miss otherwise. I even went ahead and poured a splash of the olive juice in with the veggies to really incorporate that flavor throughout. I also added a little over half of a 4 oz container of feta cheese. This is plain feta, but I've also used some feta that had other spices in it and it was super delish too!


And then, I forgot to finish taking pictures, as I was too hungry to remember! Haha, sorry!

But, then you toss the veggies in with the couscous and make your sauce. Here's where I get so un-technical that it will probably stress some of you out. I just add in a few tablespoons of greek yogurt, and mix it with some greek vinaigrette dressing. Stir it up, and add to the mixture until your desired consistency/creaminess/taste. See...super un-technical. Sorry! 

I've also used just a balsamic vinaigrette and it was delicious too, I just lucked out and the store had some actual greek dressing this time and it was really good.

Here's what your finished product will look like- I remembered to snap a few pics the next day when I was plating up my lunch.



Looks good, right?!



Give it a try, and see how you like it. Let me know how you like it, and what you did to make it different. I love hearing how people change up my recipes, makes cooking more fun!

And doesn't my adorable new table top look awesome in the background?! If you missed my table makeover- check it out: here

Linking:


The Dedicated House


Weekend Bloggy Reading

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Cluster Table Makeover

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I have been looking for a new table for-ev-er. I have hated the dining table we've had for years. It was hubby's first table after moving out on his own, and I had no say in it whatsoever. But, tables are expensive. Dining sets ever more so. I have been trying to find one to DIY and make my own for years. But, had been unable to find anything I even remotely liked...until now.

Let me tell you a story- Our church is expanding. The first thing they've changed is they moved the old youth room to a much bigger area. In our youth room there were several of these old tables. 


I love the spinning chairs and always sit in them when we're doing activities in the youth room. But, since the church is expanding, they got all new table and chairs for the youth room. They had a big church clear-out sale, and when I saw that they were selling these, I HAD to have one. 

After much research, I discovered this table originally came from an Arby's and was pretty old. I also learned that they are called "cluster tables". Upon much googling, I came to find that brand new cluster tables are majorly expensive! Like $600-$800 expensive! So, at $50 this was an absolute STEAL! I couldn't find anywhere online where someone had re-done one of these tables, so it was a brand new undertaking. Hubby and I were super excited to take on this project, and get a super unique dining table that is just absolutely "us" in the process. 

Being that this was a pretty old table, it definitely needed cleaned up and painted. I also wanted to do something fun and unique with the top...more on that in a bit. So, first things first, we took it apart.


We removed the bolts underneath the chairs, and they were super easy to remove. Let me recommend you do this step before attempting to carry this table into your house...those chairs are heavy!


Remove all of the chairs, and then the tabletop. There were TONS of screws underneath, but also came apart fairly easily.



We removed the lining off of the bottom of the table because it was in super bad shape, but it peeled right up and already looked much cleaner afterwards. Then pretty much just wiped it down with a wet rag.


Then, the hubby used some plain ole aluminum foil and water and a non-odorous/non-toxic metal cleaner/lubricant to clean up the bottom. The foil did an awesome job getting the old rust off, and cleaning the mechanism made sure that the chairs would rotate easily and noiselessly.


Then we took some metal brushes and sand paper and rubbed down the base. Just to get any rust or bumpy areas. It didn't take much, just enough to rough it up slightly. Then again, just wiped down with a wet rag.



We primed the bottom and top of the tabletop, then painted the bottom.



We only primed the table-top because I found some adorable chevron contact paper to cover it in. I had been trying to decide how I wanted to jazz up the top, when I found this contact paper at Wal-Mart. It was only like $5.97 for a roll that could have probably done the table several times over. Contact paper isn't a super permanent solution. But, it should last decently for a couple of years. I also like the idea that if I start to hate the design, I can peel it up and put something else down in no time. 


I also have to brag on my husband for doing an absolutely amazing job of lining this up. We tried doing it together, but since we love each other and didn't want this project to end in divorce (kidding... kinda), he took over. 

I love the impact it makes, and it is crazy what a little pattern can do for a project!

The next day we finished up painting the rest of the table outside,



We did 2 coats of spray primer and 3 coats of white spray paint, just to make sure all of the black got covered.


Then, we covered the spinning mechanism with aluminum foil so we wouldn't get paint on it in the process. Seriously, aluminum foil worked better than anything because it was so east to mold around the area.


Then the chairs got 2 coats of white primer and 3 coats of our paint color...I forgot to take pictures of the actual spraying of the chairs because it was getting ready to rain, but they turned out like this.


The color we used was called Valspar La Fonda Mirage. And I absolutely LOVE it! It's a light aqua that looks awesome in our newly painted kitchen. (Our kitchen walls are Valspar Smoked Oyster).


Once we got the table all put back together I was amazed at the transformation. It is crazy what a little paint and pattern can do! I mean...remember this...


And now...




The pictures do not at all do it justice. It is AWESOME! When we have a sunny day soon (c'mon winter!) I'll try to get some better photos to use and update this post. 

I seriously went into my kitchen several times a day to just look at how cute it turned out. It is completely my style and is a really cool conversation piece to have. It has been my absolute favorite project that the hubby and I have done together, and I can't wait to do more!



What is your favorite DIY project that you've done?


Linking:



The Dedicated House

My Repurposed Life
The Shabby Nest
Weekend Bloggy Reading
By Stephanie Lynn

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Freezer Breakfast Burritos

Continuing with the healthier/more frugal breakfast kick I've been on... I present, Freezer Breakfast Burritos!

I may or may not have made one for myself to eat for breakfast...shh!

They're super simple to make, they make quite a few with a small amount of ingredients, and they're yummy. I say I'm making them for my hubby, but I usually eat almost half of them myself...whoops!

First things first, brown your sausage. You can do sausage or bacon, or veggies if you so choose. The great thing about this recipe is how versatile it is, you can put anything you want in there- potatoes, beans, ANYTHING! But, I digress...

I'm simple and I really like plain Jane sausage, egg, and cheese.

So, if your like me, brown your sausage.


While your sausage is browning, crack some eggs. ( I used 8. About 8-10 is a good estimate)


Add some salt, pepper, and a splash of milk in there and whip it up with a fork- we're just making plain old scrambled eggs with that.

Drain your sausage once it's browned, and scramble your eggs in the same pan- I'm all about the less dishes the better.



I like to scramble them until they're pretty well done since they're going to be frozen until they're cooked again. Then chop them up with the spatula so they're in little pieces.

If you're anything like me, you will be listening to Pandora, and your toddler will want you to dance with him while the eggs are scrambling. Then, he will notice you are taking pictures and want one taken of him.


See those tired eyes, that is the face of someone who kept his Mommy up last night!
Mix your sausage and eggs together, and let them cool before you start building your burritos.



While the mixture is cooling, set yourself up a little burrito assembly line.



I normally use medium sized tortillas, but the store was out. So, I made some BIG ones for the hubby, and mini ones for me and Baby B.

I also like to heat up my tortillas so they're a little more pliable for the rolling process.

Fill your tortilla with about 1/2 a cup of the mixture, depending on it's size and sprinkle your desired amount of cheese on top. Some people like to also add salsa, or hot sauce at this point.


Roll it up burrito style, tucking the ends in so the filling doesn't fall out.


And then I just wrap it in a paper towel, so that it can be popped straight into the microwave from the freezer.


Keep wrapping, and store them in a freezer baggie.


And keep filling and filling until your mixture is gone! I think I usually get 15 medium sized burritos from this recipe. But I got 5 big ones and 11 mini ones. Plus the big one I may or may not have eaten...

Then fill up your freezer and feel amazing because you have just made your family breakfast for the week!


In the morning hubby just have to toss one in the microwave,  paper towel and all and heat for about 1 1/2 minutes (depending on your microwave). And you have a hot, frugal and yummy breakfast!




I also would like to share a recipe that I make Baby B all of the time for breakfast and snacks. You can find the recipe here >>> Flourless Peanut Butter Choc Chip Mini Blender Muffins.

No tutorial since I make them exactly like that- but they're yummy and he loves them, so check it out!


Thanks for checking out my recipe and keep on coming back for more!!!


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