Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy 'Ballentown's Day!

For the past week we have been asking Miss Mia who her Valentine was going to be. Could it be Mommy or Daddy or Bentley (our dog)? Finally on Thursday, Miss Mia announced her answer. On the way to school she announced, "Mommy, Drew-Drew is my 'ballentown!'" Drew-Drew wins, no big surprise there! But Drew-Drew does not come to school on Fridays and her party was Friday, who would choose.

The winner was the ever so adorable Mr. Wyatt.
Like Drew-Drew, Mr. Wyatt has been in Miss Mia's life since 7 weeks. He really is cute and posed for many pictures on my camera.
Ballentown's day is really hard on a girl. You need to lay down and prop your feet up.
And keep a keen eye out to make sure Mommy isn't going to still your new sucker from your other Ballentown Joby.
Miss Mia, Hubby & I wish you all a very Happy Ballentown's day!

Etsy Love & Frugal Decorating

I love Etsy. I find fabulous ideas that I try to replicate, but most of the time I find great pieces that I just want...and want now! Hubby & I re-decorated and rearranged our bedroom a few weeks ago. I didn't like my last nightstand. I had no room for my books or my lamp. So I looked around the house and in our garage and came up with this table and a throw and a bigger and better nightstand was born. Put my favorite reads at the moment on the side, a Tiffany-blue McCoy planter found for $1 at a Indiana antique shop (that had no idea what they had!), $2 Woman of Praise statue bought at OKC Botanical Gardens 75% off giftshop, my favorite lamp (bought for my old office at Texas Tech when I spent my nights writing my thesis in my office), and then this Audrey print.
I bought this print here. I just loved the colors, pistachio, brown and blue. I was even more pleased when I saw the print in person. It is just gorgeous. I ran down to Michael's that day and bought this picture frame for $15. (Thank you 60% off coupon!) I look at this picture every morning and it just brings me calm.
More Etsy...I have blogged before of my love of Belle & Boo. I bought a few prints for Miss Mia's room before but needed something else for one of her walls. I had the frames already for past artwork in Mia's room. I also had these fabulous mats that I bought 20 for $5 at Pottery Barn after Christmas sale. (I have had these mats in the 'to-use' someday pile for 2 years!) One day, when perusing through Belle & Boo, I came across 2 prints that I loved. Dark haired girl, feeding chickens or looking at a caged bird. They screamed Miss Mia. The prints, however, were $51. So I bought the same picture in her card section for $3 a piece. I am so in love. Miss Mia loves the chickens picture best of course.

The Etsy love does not stop there. Also in Miss Mia's room is another collage of Etsy prints that I bought at small sizes, matted with already owned mats and framed with similar frames. I bought this print here. I used to sing 'You Are My Sunshine' to Miss Mia before she was born and then to get her to sleep when she was an infant. The song has such a special place in our family. Whenever my family gets together we always sing and play instruments. My beloved Grandad used to request we sing 'You Are My Sunshine.' Since he's passed, we sing it in honor of him and whenever we're feeling nostalgic.
This entire collage, mattes, pictures and frames included was $15.
Nine Years ago, Hubby took me to meet his family in Michigan as his new fiancee. They took me to Saugatuck one afternoon. While window shopping, I came across the art studio of James Brandess. He is known in the area for painting pictures of all things Western Michigan. (i.e. the dunes, lighthouses, Dutch village and of course tulips.) I wanted something to commemorate my first trip and found this beautiful print. What I did not know, is how long it was going to take to frame it! It is an 15X15 which has been a difficult frame to find. When I went to Hobby Lobby's 50% off framing specials, to do what I wanted was still $80 after the half off! So I held out. Then one day, a few weeks ago, Hubby and I went to after-Christmas sale at Garden Ridge. I found this 20X20 frame for $10. I loved the metallic-wood frame. Then we bought a royal blue matte board for $1.50 and after almost nine years, the picture is finally on the wall! (And I am so glad we waited to do it right!)
Another frugal find of late was found this past week at Target. At the end of the aisles in the home section, many items were 50-75% off. I found this shower curtain for $7.50!

What's Happening Around This House

Our household has been quite busy of late. Days beginning around 6 and not ending until after midnight. Exams have taken over the entire household. Our family's schedule is shifting and conforming to my studying. Yet the household must still go on. Laundry needs to be folded, potty training is still in full effect and of course this family needs to eat.

I have found of late that cooking is providing me a necessary escape from not thinking about my exams. I have been trying new foods and new recipes. I often don't cook with recipes but I find that my psyche needs the recipe. I need to completely immerse myself in another person's ideas. Pioneer woman is providing a necessary outlet. Hubby is quite proud of this development. Last night we tried MM's favorite sandwiches. Such a hardy meal. Hubby professed his love after the meal. (Those who know Hubby know he is a man of few words, and thus the meal must have been something extra!) After making this meal last night, I e-mailed a dear friend who just started a relationship and told her this was the trick to ever-lasting love! haha!

Today we are trying Pioneer Woman's pot roast...I'll let you know how it comes out!

The food that provides me the most comfort and is my favorite to make is my Chicken Tortilla Soup. When I was pregnant with Miss Mia, I ate this soup once a week. Not even kidding! Hubby can barely eat it anymore b/c of the memories of coming home night after night and smelling my soup. Yet I am still not tired of this most delicious soup. With the crazy snowy days we've been experiencing in Oklahoma, it makes it even better. Plus, it gives me the fabulous spice and Tex-Mex flavor that is so lacking in Norman!

My lovely soup in my even more lovely Le Creuset pot! (Another post is so required in my love for these pots!)

Here is my recipe for Chicken Tortilla Soup
- 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken
- 1 medium onion, chopped
-2 cloves garlic, chopped
-1 tbsp olive oil (can easily substitute a different oil if you don't have olive oil stocked)
- 2-3 Tbsp. butter
- 2-3 jalapenos, chopped (can be eliminated or seeded if you are like my Northern relatives and don't like heat)
-3 cans Rotel (I usually use 2 cans hot and one original, but again, do whatever heat your family can handle)
-1.5-2 c. frozen corn
-1 carton chicken stock
-2-3 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
-Tortilla Chips
-Colby/Jack cheese

-Saute onions, garlic and jalapenos in butter and oil until tender. Add chicken and cook until done.
- While chicken is cooking, put Rotel into blender or food processor and blend until no longer chunky but not completely smooth.
-Once chicken is cooked, add Rotel, chicken stock, corn, and cilantro. Let come to a boil.
-Once at a boil, lower heat to simmer and cover for 15-20 minutes.
-To serve: Add chips and cheese to your hearts delight. Top with extra cilantro. Enjoy the warm and yummy goodness!

Along with cooking soup, we've been cooking with chocolate. Last night we made Nigella Chocolate Pots. (Be still my heart!) Nothing wrong with these! Miss Mia got into the act by licking the bowl for Mommy.
Speaking of Miss Mia....
I found her in our bed the other day with my make-up case..and this face
I knew it was just too quite in there. So much for thinking closed doors would keep her out.
After the make-up was gone...what a poser!
At least she and Hubby can sit in his 'man-cave' and play trains while I study or cook!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Let them eat cake!

Just a quick update on the workings of this crazy household. After months and months (and months) the foreign language department and graduate school have finally gotten all of their "dealings," together in posting that I am indeed "competent" (pun, intended!) in Italian. Thus, I am all clear to take my Comprehensive exams. (Gulp! Gulp! Vomit!) I am studying around the clock. Writing, re-reading old passages, finding out how much I DON'T know.

I get up early, go to school, study, teach, study, pick up Miss Mia, make dinner, feed family, kiss family good-bye and head back to the library to study, then sleep...Repeat! Repeat! Repeat! The nightmares have really began. Somedays I wake up and feel like I am so ready to take these on..then the next day, or minute I want to run far away where they will never find me!

To keep my sanity, I have been cooking. A lot! Making big meals for the family so that I don't have to think about packed lunches for Hubby and I the next day. Then there is the baking. I recently fell into the path of the Pioneer Woman and subsequently her cookbook. I am so in love with both. Tonight we tried her chocolate sheet cake. With one simple bite, the clouds parted, angels and doves came down and I think I might have heard a deep voice say..."and it was good!" Miss Mia is usually found somewhere under my feet whilst I am baking. She is more than prepared to lick the bowl, spoonula, etc. Tonight she wanted more. "More 'poons Mommy, more cake! Need more cake!" After more bites than she needed we had to cut her off or call the Betty Crocker clinic!

Tomorrow is the Superbowl. We have always been at someone's house having a party. This year, however, Hubby asked if we could just stay home and watch it. I loved this idea. I can go to the bedroom and read, we can control the menu, beverages, clean-up (or lack there of thesedays). Or we can record it to our DVR, do something else, and then fastforward TO the commercials! Homeland is having Crazy deals on meat this week and we just bought 5 lbs of ribeye steaks for $15. So we are having steak tomorrow...and for many more meals to come! We'll also have cake!