Monday, December 27, 2010

Baa Baa Black Sheep... for dinner

Let me introduce to you my sister in law, Sarah Dudley.

She is currently enrolled in a two-year program at a culinary school and is constantly sharing cooking ideas and tips with us which we all appreciate!

For Christmas, she whipped up an outrageously delicious turtle cheesecake dripping with caramel and nuts. She says she has no recipe for it either! I have never ventured out as far as that- cheesecakes scare me. I always picture the edges burning and the middle gooey. It just sounds like a lot of work to me. But this girl has got it mastered!

This week she decided to treat us with lamb. She bought 2 racks of lamb (2 lbs) for $20! It was more of a sample and we grilled chicken and steak along with it.

It took a lot of work to trim the fat and separate the chops. She lightly seasoned them and sent them out to the grill (in the snow). Oh wow! They were so good!

For the last 3 Christmas seasons we were in Taiwan decorating a fake little tree in 90 degree weather. But now we are back with family surrounded by snow and wind and for the first time in a long time I am really loving the winter season! And it's not because I love the cold- I am finally among family we love so much and missed during the holiday time.

Sarah, thanks for your friendship and we are so excited to see where this road of culinary will take you.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

My Sunshine Pillow

I love pillows and I love to mix and match pillows. I decided to try my hand at making one. I love the way it turned out and will experiment on more patterns and colors.

The pillow form cost me $8 and the material around $3 . Not bad for an adorable homemade pillow! If anyone needs the instructions, I can get them to you.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Eggnog Love

Christmas just wouldn't feel like Christmas without eggnog and I missed it for 3 years in a row since we lived overseas but now I'm back in the land flowing with eggnog and I am taking advantage of it.

This morning I brewed a cup of tea and created something fabulous that I want to share with you all.

Make your black tea only 2/3 full.
Top it off with eggnog and stir.
Reheat , if needed.
Winter in a cup!

I have never made eggnog from scratch and I don't intend to. It doesn't sound safe and it's so much easier picking up a quart of pasteurized nog from the store anyway.

Starbucks has a delightful eggnog latte and I found a recipe online to make that! What a fun hot drink to make for friends during this holiday season.

It says you need an espresso machine with a steaming nozzle but really just warming it up over the stove or in the microwave would work just fine. You might miss out on the froth but that's all.

Here's the recipe for Starbuck's Eggnog Latte

Sunday, December 12, 2010

50% off sale on CROCS (TODAY ONLY)

wow! I just went to and see they have a 1 day sale on selected CROCS If you like them, or want some for your children, you may want to check out their deals on select items.

But hurry, it's today only!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Rachel Ray's Huge Turkey Meatball Dinner

I had been wanting to try something new for dinner and who to turn to when you run out of creativity? Rachel Ray , of course! I love her healthy twist on things and these giant meatballs are made with ground turkey. I've never eaten JUST ground turkey and wanted my family to enjoy them, so I ended up mixing 1/2 lb. ground BEEF to 1 lb. ground turkey. These meatballs call for chopped, cooked spinach was is SO YUMMY! When mixing the ingredients, I presumed the recipe called for an 8 oz. bag of grated Italian cheese in the meat, so I put that in. When I looked again, it said 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese in the meat and the grated cheese later on in the cream sauce! Oh well, this was a splendid mistake and I will do it again this way. Good thing I had 2 bags!

I cooked egg noodles and served the meatballs over them with the cream sauce! What a treat! I even had time that afternoon to try a ciabatta bread recipe which turned out fabulous. Since I followed the recipes to ALMOST exactly, I am providing the link and you can go to the sites directly.

Happy cooking!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

My Etsy Purchases

An Earring, necklace and bracelet holder! I found this through, my new favorite online shop! Langton Studio is where I found it but currently he doesn't have anything in his shop.

I am really excited that I no longer have to keep my accessories in little pouches where they get tangled and broken. There are little holes for stud earrings, but it is on the wall and I have no idea how I would take the back off , so I leave those in my grandmother's little ring box. But this was well worth the $25 I spent!

The other thing I bought was this frame made by My Sweet Savannah. Her shop is awesome! But I particularly love this frame because it's a map of Asia and little Taiwan is in the right-hand corner- a very special place for us. Our daughter, Savannah, was born there. Maybe that's why I love her shop! :)

Yeah for Etsy!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Tylenol and Turkey

This has been a really tough week for me. Our little girl had a fever along with other issues and it just wouldn't go away. Nights were so hard- she couldn't sleep for more than an hour before crying in pain and wanting mommy or daddy to hold her. She would be burning up with a fever and into the tub she'd go at 3 am. She was so mellow and weak. The doctor said it's viral so it had to run it's course. Lots of things ran through my mind and I found myself having to run back to the Lord and trust Him for healing. I missed my little girl's personality and my heart broke for her. I'd give anything to be sick for her.

But it's Friday and things are looking so much better! She blew raspberries at our guests and served daddy felt food. Her fever is gone and and her personality is back! I am so thankful for my little girl, my husband's amazing daddy-skills and for a heavenly Father who heals!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Nursing Covers by Junabug

I have a few friends having babies and they are planning on nursing. I loved the cover my sister-in-law made for me beside the fact that it was a modern pattern hip for any young mom, it had a "peek window" for mom to see her baby and an adjustable strap to fit your body just right. I asked her for the pattern and made a few. Here they are. I even had extra material to make matching burp cloths!

Thanks to these fabulous models of mine...

If you know of anyone that would like one, please let me know. Depending on the cost of material, I can make one starting @ $20 + matching burp cloth. :)

Happy nursing!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Playing with Picasa

That's my little girl!
I really love the purple and green- not too sure about the other colors though...

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Four Seasons in Oil

I have never taken an art class in my life but I was really REALLY wanting to try something for our living room wall. After asking advice from a few great artists, I got to work setting up a corner at my mom's house. I love canvas so I bought 4 boards, oils and a 2" brush for the background colors. There was an older gentleman in the isle who turned to me and said, "what are you painting? a house?" lol- I just agreed with him since I have NO IDEA what I am doing or what I should be using!

Here's my finished project! My dear husband helped me hang and level them today which took awhile since we were working with four pieces. I really like it but just wish the spring wasn't SO yellow... oh well. I feel like I could keep changing it only to change it some more. Is that normal?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Trendy Reminder Magnets

It's raining today and I have my cozy candles burning and my cuppa-go next to me and decided to work on a little project I had waiting for a rainy day like today.

Check 'em out!

I found some really awesome paper at Michael's and picked up cheap clothes pins at the Dollar store and made some magnets for my frig! I got the idea from Stephanie's ultra-creative blog, Somewhat Simple. I'll let you check out her step-by-step instructions.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Creamy Squash Soup

I served this soup along with the Pesto-Ricotta Quiche tonight. I loved the combo! I just LOVE LOVE LOVE squash and sweet potatoes so anything recipe with those things will make me happy. You could always add a sweet potato to this recipe or try using a different kind of squash.

This is how I cooked the butternut: washed the skin, made a few airways by stabbing it with a knife, placed it in a glass dish and baked it at 400 degrees F for about an hour. Once it cooled, I cut it, removed the seeds and skinned it.
Creamy Squash Soup
  • 2 cups cooked squash
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 2 cups chicken broth/stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • croutons, for garnish

Saute the onion and garlic in a a little olive oil until golden brown.
In a soup pot, combine pumpkin, sauteed onions, broth, salt and butter. Simmer over medium heat for 5-10 minutes allowing flavors to blend.

Allow to cool down for 10 minutes before throwing it all in the blender/food processor. Add cream and blend until smooth. If you don't like the thickness, slowly add chicken broth, a little at a time until desired result.

Pour into bowls. I drizzled cream and croutons for the garnish. My hubby added cracked black pepper.

Pesto-Ricotta Quiche

I had bought phyllo dough without a plan but as I surfed the web for recipes, this one popped out at me and I had the ingredients already. I added a bit of cooked, crumbled bacon to it to make it more appealing to my husband who was gracious to try this for dinner even though he's prefer this for breakfast :) The crust got a little too dark and I think my oven runs a bit hotter than it should. Originally, I had it set to 375 degrees but turned it down to 350 and gave it a few extra minutes for cooking. It's done when your inserted knife comes out clean.

Pesto-Ricotta Quiche
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup of cooked spinach, chopped
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 cup grated mozzarella
  • 3 tablespoons broccoli pesto (see recipe below) or your favorite pesto recipe
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 8-9 sheets of phyllo dough
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Melt 4 tablespoons butter. Using a basting brush, lightly butter 9-inch pie plate and set aside.

Whisk the eggs and cream together in a medium bowl, add the spinach, ricotta, Parmesan, mozzarella, pesto, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine and set aside.

Lay one sheet of phyllo in the prepared pie plate. Brush the phyllo with melted butter, leaving the outer 1 1/2-inch rim unbrushed. Repeat with the rest of the phyllo sheets.

Trim the edges to conform with the shape of the pie plate using kitchen shears and pour in the filling. Brush the top of the phyllo rim with butter, and bake until the edges are golden brown and the filling is set, about 50 minutes. Cool before serving.

Broccoli Pesto
  • 1 cup tightly packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or asiago cheese
  • 1/2 cup tightly packed broccoli florets
  • 3 tablespoons chicken stock
  • splash of lemon juice
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Place everything in a blender or food processor and blend well into a smooth paste.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Flavored Coffee YOUR Way

With the weather getting colder, I am really enjoying my daily cup of goodness. I love holding my mug just to warm my hands! In fact, did you know Max Brenner has a "hug mug"? I ordered a mocha and it came in an oval-shaped mug with no handle. I had no choice but to hug it!

Today I sprinkled some pumpkin pie spice on the top of my coffee grounds before adding the hot water and now I have a perfect cup of Thanksgiving.

Try cinnamon, nutmeg, peppermint extract, cocoa powder or crushed walnuts! It's amazing how the flavor changes and your staying away from unhealthy imitation flavored coffee. Your options are endless. A friend even recommended crushed fresh blueberries!

I came across Talk About Coffee which has some great tips on making flavored coffees, recipes and other related articles.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Burp Clothes

I found some soft material and a piece of solid white fabric at a yard sale which I cut into long, narrow strips. I loved making these!

I made them for a friend who is expecting a boy. Perfect colors, huh? I wasn't in the mood to do bright red with trains or planes so I did a brown and blue theme.

A friend of mine had some of these but it was a tri-fold cloth diaper and one side was decorated with coordinating materials. I just really liked using a narrow kind since they lay over my shoulder better.

Congrats, Bekah! Can't wait to meet the little guy!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Craisin Shortbread Crunch

I love shortbread and sometimes will make a batch and dip half the cookie in melted chocolate but this time I had a bag of craisins (dried cranberries) and decided to throw some in with a little crushed corn Chex cereal.

Craisin Shortbread Crunch Cookies
3/4 cup softened butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup crushed cereal
1/2 cup craisins

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla until creamy.
3. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt.
4. Slowly add the dry to the wet, beating on low, adding the milk will turn it into a dough.
5. Stir in the crushed cereal and craisins.
6.Form into balls and place on a cookie sheet an inch apart. (these won't grow very big.)
7. Flatten lightly with a spoon or hand.
8. Bake for about 12 minutes or until golden. Let cool for a few minutes before removing from the tray. They will crumble if handled too soon.

Try to eat just one and walk away- I DARE YOU!

Posted by Picasa

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Some people are worried that there is a shortage on pumpkins this year- i was finding a lot of information on this topic but maybe that's just Libby's problem. I read in the Washington post that "A couple of 29-ounce cans of Libby's are going for nearly $30 on eBay". Read here.

What a sad day that would be if there were NO PUMPKINS! I realize the mid-west did have some problems with the rain earlier this year, but we are still ok according to the Chicago Tribune. read here.

Why would you spend $30 on canned pumpkin when every local produce stand has a beautiful variety of pumpkins! My friend had pulled out a few sandwich-sized zip-lock bags of her own cooked pumpkin and we turned them into pumpkin pies! I was inspired so I bought a butternut squash because the stand lady said they are a meaty pumpkin and make great pies.

Let me just say for a huge $2.00 squash and easy prep work, I got 7 cups of pureed pumpkin in the freezer waiting their fate!

My butternut did have a very long neck so that's why I ended up with so much goo. I'll share very quickly how I prepared it.

1. washed the skin
2. preheated the oven to 400 degrees
3. stabbed the skin a few times in different places for steam vents
4. placed the pumpkin on a cookie sheet and slid into the oven
5. cooked for an hour (or longer) until my fork went through it smoothly
6. removed the squash and allowed it to cool for a few hours
7. cut it open and removed the seeds and skin
8. placed it in a huge bag and allowed it to sit in the refrigerator overnight
9. cut the corner of the bag over the sink and drain any juice
10. freeze it!

I didn't puree it, which I'll have to do upon thawing but I should have threw it in the food processor or blender before freezing. Just be careful not to blend it too long which will put too much air into it and look bubbly.

Now you are loaded with fresh, pureed pumpkin for muffins, pies, breads or soups!

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Man- Shirt Summer Dress

I am constantly impressed by Dana and her creativity which she shares on her blog, MADE. She has wonderful tutorials and makes everything look possible.

I saw "The Shirt Dress" and decided I would give it a shot- I don't have the greatest camera and my little model wouldn't cooperate, but here it is.

Found an XL blue and yellow striped shirt for $4.00...

And turned it into a 4T summer dress...

Go over to Dana's tutorial for the Shirt Dress for easy directions and beautiful photos! There is no way you can't get inspired by her blog!

I ended up making two- here's my little reluctant model :)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Spiced Chai Recipe-updated

Chai is one of my favorite drinks during the cold months. I first learned I could MAKE it 4 years back when a friend made it for our group in Taiwan. It was heavenly!! I was really missing Chai since they don't sell it at any coffee shop in Taiwan but with a few spices, it can be done right in in the kitchen!

Cardamom is native to India and it is very expensive. I had a hard time finding this but you won't want to make Chai without it! You will need the pods for this recipe. Otherwise, whole cloves and cinnamon sticks should be easy to come by.

UPDATE: a friend told me her way of making Chai is to use GROUND cardamom and even add pumpkin pie spice but you'll need to strain it through a cheese cloth to get rid of the ground spices.

Spiced Chai- serves 6

3 cups water
4 cardamom pods
5 whole cloves

2-3 cinnamon sticks
Bring this to a boil, reduce to medium-high and cover for 8 minutes.

4 black tea bags of your choice
(I cut the stems off and let them float in the water)
Stir occasionally for 5 minutes.

1/4 cup sugar
Stir until dissolved. Adjust heat to LOW.

3 cups milk
stir and heat thoroughly.
Adjust sugar and milk to taste.

A cup of Chai and a pumpkin cookie- a match made in heaven!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Glazed Pumpkin Cookies


Since the weather is getting colder, it is definitely time for a cup of spiced chai tea (I'll share the recipe in the next post) and a soft pumpkin cookie! These were so easy to make! I found them on Mary's blog, Delightful Bitefuls, where the photos made my mouth water! I just had to try them.

I didn't use her frosting recipe since I was out of cream cheese so I used a glaze from They were amazing but I could see how the cheese cream would have made them that much more YUM! I didn't have all the spices either but I used 2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice instead and then sprinkled a little more on the glaze.

They were pretty easy to make- my goal was to pop a DVD in for my daughter and be finished when the DVD stopped. I didn't have ALL of them baked or the kitchen back in order, but I was pretty much done, and we enjoyed a warm UN-FROSTED cookie together. ( I am not even going to start counting how many I ate during the course of this day!)

They are irresistible and so moist!
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A $2.00 Magazine Holder

I found this frame at a second-hand shop for $2.00 in great condition and wanted to take up the challenge of making a cloth insert for it. WEEKS went by with no inspiration but I finally grabbed some scrap material and got to work.

I decided to make the bottom of the insert more sturdy by encasing a rectangular piece of cardboard with the material I was working with. I did some sewing and hot-gluing and here's how it came out-

Not too bad but let's just say, it looks better when there are magazines inside! :)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Hair Clip Frame

So, I saw a friend of mine do this for her little girl's hair clips and I really thought it was an awesome way to organize, show off what they've got and its so easy to see what would match the outfit of the day! :)

I found a frame with a cardboard insert at a second-hand shop for $1.00. I painted it off-white and using a hot glue gun, covered the cardboard with material. Added some strips of ribbon and gluing them on the back and popped it back into the frame. I LOVE IT!

Check it out!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Swiss Roll Ice Cream Cake

We have 4 birthday's in our family in the month of September and since our entire family was together last weekend, I made a few of these. What a fun recipe! A little bit of work since I needed to slice the Swiss rolls very thin and line a bowl with them. I followed a Taste of Home recipe which I'll let you check out. The hot fudge layer never freezes completely and kept puddling at the bottom of the bowl for me but with a bit of muscle, I was able to make it work.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Savannah's Chalk Board Table

We had gone to IKEA and found this adorable table and chairs for Savannah. It's unfinished wood and very easy to put together. But I wanted to do something to the table like paint it- I love the idea of chalk boards and have seen some pretty sweet chalk board coffee table tops just from a can of chalk board spray paint! So I picked some up and my dear hubby and I started the project last night out in the grass.

We kept all the parts of the table in the box except for the top and taped the sides. Once it was laying on the grass, we sprayed away- layer after layer. This morning I did one final coat and then ran chalk over the whole thing before calling it quits. Once it was dusted off, I put the table together and WALA! It's is now a little doodle pad for her and her friends.

I LOVE IT! And she already has it covered in squiggles!

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Fabulous Five

Today marks 5 years for us and what a journey it's been! I have loved every moment of being married to my man.

I love you, Wesley! You are a man of God and I am proud to be called your




Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Laundry Suds

No, that's not cheese- It's a bar of soap!

SO today I did something new with a friend of mine- helped her make laundry soap! She sent me the link for the recipe she follows and I was impressed with the step-by-step pictures and details. We can wash 312 loads for $6.97!! Check it out here- The Simple Dollar.

We filled up these buckets and I brought one home. Can't wait to try it out!

Thanks, Bekah! I had a fabulous time with your family today!

Monday, August 30, 2010

My Kitchen Corner

There is this little table securely fastened to the wall in my little kitchen and there is nothing I can do but put it to use. I found an adorable shelf at a yard sale for $5 that fits perfectly on it and a drawer compartment form IKEA that fits perfectly under the table. What was once a eye sore is now my favorite little corner!

I am having so much fun turning this apartment into a home for my family! And I am being thrifty by checking second-hand shops for items and repainting things before I buy something brand new. I love the challenge!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Chicken Cordon Bleu

I had so much fun trying out this recipe! The first time, I used a rolling pin to pound the chicken, but the second time I used my mother-in-law's heavy duty professional meat pounding gadget (actually, my hubby did the pounding!) SO, a rolling pin will work but of course, it's a substitute for the real thing. The other thing is I used a slice of Swiss cheese instead of their suggested shredded mozzarella, which just added an extra bite! I played around with the prosciutto and ham and decided I liked the cordon bleu with prosciutto instead of ham. It's a bit richer in flavor. I used seasoned bread crumbs and a can of chicken broth with roasted garlic- extra YUM!

I'll let u check out the recipe I found on my recipes to follow. It was a messy project but what a fabulous, thoughtful meal and quite uncommon, actually.

I dare you to try it!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Needle-in-a-Haystack Experience

We are spending time in the OBX with the family this week, which has been a blast! My hubby asked me to go boogie boarding with him so I took off my wedding RING (BAD move in the first place) and placed it in a pocket of my backpack along with my camera. Why in the world did I trust myself? I NEVER take off my ring since I have a hard enough time getting it over my knobby knuckle as it is.

Later that evening, when we were all back home, I looked in the backpack and panic swept over me- G.O.N.E! I burst into tears and immediately my sister-in-law suggested we pray and ask God to work a miracle here. It was obvious to me that it had fallen out when I pulled out the camera. We immediately rented a few metal detectors and the family came out and joined me in the search. We started by blocking off an area and sifting sand. People from all over came and identified with me and helped with the search. As I was kneeling in the sand, God spoke to my heart. It is a very important piece to me, but I still have my wonderful husband and beautiful little girl. He has blessed me in so many ways and yet I was acting like my life was just taken away from me. Once I surrendered it and accepted the consequence of my stupid action, I felt a peace and we wrapped it up and headed back to the beach house.

But that's not the end of the story...

One of my sisters-in-law bounded up the stairs asking how much I love her. She held up the ring and died laughing! She spotted it in the corner of a stair on her way up! We all started screaming, jumping and hugging. I was overwhelmed with this miracle of mercy! What was lost had been found!

Thank you, Lord!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Outside In

I have this adorable little white vase from Southern Living with a lid of about eight holes to put stems of flowers through. My little girl and I took a walk along the woods behind our place and found Queen Anne's Lace and that other vibrant flower. It was fun bringing the little bouquet inside and arranging it with her. I just love having fresh plants or flowers around. My sister-in-law just gave me an orchid. It's beautiful and I hope I will be able to keep it alive. I need to learn more about taking care of house plants.