Monday, January 31, 2011

A Dozen Things I Love, Love, Love

It's day 17 of my blogging challenge and to do something totally different, I wanted to make a quick list of a dozen (12 is my fave number) things that I love!! Obviously I love my family, friends, faith, etc....but this is just my silly list of things I'm enjoying these days!!

1) Goodwill: there is just something about the thrill of the hunt that keeps me coming back for more. Many of my absolutely fave things (especially home decor items) were purchased at my
local G-dubyas.

2) Tea: I absolutely cannot start my day without a big ol cup of green tea. My faves are Tazos (Zen & Thrive). Love, love, love my jumbo stacking mugs from World Market.

3) My sister's Ipad: my hope is that one day I'll have one of my own. For now, I'll just have to settle with babysitting hers from time to time. I'm obsessed with playing Scrabble & Uno. Such fun!!

4) Blog stalking watching: I get so much pleasure out of reading other blogs. Though I haven't really immersed myself in this whole bloggy community, I enjoy the decor tips, crafts and just plain old chit chat offered up by bloggers.

5) HGTV & Reality TV: Can't get enough Real Housewives of whereever & I even get into the silly VH-1 reality shows like Basketball Wives. I chalk it up to not having any drama in my life, so I enjoy watching others.

6) Better Homes & Gardens: Getting my subscription is like having Christmas once a month! yippee! Such amazingly perfect homes. I love it!

7) Target: I've been trying to stay out out there since becoming a SAHM, but I tell ya, Target is one of my fave one-stop shops!

8) Dollar Tree: It's always amazing what you can find in here! Decor items, toys, baby stuff, food, the list goes on and on.

9) Craigslist: Another website that I stalk enjoy perusing! I'm always on the lookout for great deals and this is the place to find it. Most recent purchase: a cute bench for $15. I painted & recovered it!

10) DVR: How in the world did we ever function without it? I love not being a slave to my tv, since all of my shows are programmed to record! Yippee!!

11) My Artisan Kitchen Aid Mixer: This is another one of those-how in the world did I cook or eat or live withouts. I've had mine since November and I couldn't be happier with it! Great purchase! I'm a bit of a cheapy so it was hard for me to justify buying something this expensive, but of course I managed to snag it at the perfect time. Kohl's had this normally $260 mixer on sale for $170, plus I had a 30% off coupon  (another $50 off) & the kicker was that it was during Bonus Bucks, so I scored another $20 in bonus bucks. So, in essence I paid less than half price!! Score! Cooking is soo much more luxurious and enjoyable with my beloved Mixer!

12) Good Wine: In my older age, I've acquired a taste for wine. Love, love, love Moscatos & Rieslings. Fave wines are from our local Oliver Winery (Soft Red). Recently stumbled upon Flip Flop Wine-also super yummy! There's nothing like relaxing with a couple sips of wine at the end of a long day!

Hope you enjoyed my short list of things I love! What are some things that you heart and can't imagine living without?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Day 17: Valentine's Day Countdown

There's something about the holidays that gets me all giddy inside! I enjoy celebrating and the holidays are no exception. Around Christmas, it's fun to countdown all the days of December leading up to the big day. Why not apply the same concept to other holidays, namely Valentines Day.

I wanted to make something quick & fun to help us celebrate the first 14 days of February and came up with this simple idea-A Valentine's Day Countdown Jar.

Construction was simple-I just cut a few pieces of assorted scrapbook paper into small squares and wrote a simple Valentines Day activity for each of the first 14 days of February.

Each square was numbered ( I used heart stickers to number mine), taped shut (no peeking) and tossed into a simple vase that I had under the sink. You can get all fancy decorating the vase, but I just glued a simple Countdown label onto cardstock and used double sided tape to make it stick.

Toss the cards into the vase and pull one out on each day-starting Feb 1st.

Our 14 day countdown includes:

Feb 1- Create our own Valentines Day cards.
Feb 2-Go to Dunkin Donuts for a Valentines Day treat.
Feb 3-Watch a Valentines Day movie. Charlie Brown anyone?
Feb 4- Enjoy a little wine and alone time once the kids are down.
Feb 5-Invite friends over to decorate cookies!
Feb 6- Spread some Valentine's Day cheer by volunteering to feed the homeless.
Feb 7-Kick start the week with a couple of love notes.
Feb 8-Get our hearts pumping by heading to the gym for a workout & lunch!
Feb 9-Have a heart-donate toys & clothes to the local women's shelter.
Feb 10-Meet Dad for brunch at Cracker Barrel.
Feb 11-Enjoy some Valentine's day hot cocoa-add whipped cream and red sprinkles! Yum!
Feb 12- Family outing to the zoo or Children's Museum!
Feb 13-Enjoy some heart-shaped pancakes or french toast for breakfast!
Feb 14-Happy Valentine's Day!!!

Hope that you and your family enjoy counting down the days to Valentine's Day!!

Please share what your family does to make the holidays special?


Saturday, January 29, 2011

Day 16: Our Saturday Morning Get Clean Routine

Growing up, Saturday mornings were the bomb! First, we slept in (no school-yippee!), then we'd wake up to a breakfast of champions (pancakes, eggs, the works!!) and the morning was topped off by laying around watching cartoons in our pjs (miss those days-sigh!). My son doesn't believe me when I tell him that Cartoon Network, Noggin, & Nick Jr weren't around when Mommy was a little girl!!

Fast forward to 2011-now our Saturday mornings still start out with a yummy pancake breakfast and the boys watching a toon or two, but once they've eaten, things generally shift to clean mode! The goal is to get as much spruced up in under two hours (today I managed to clean in an hour)!! So, wanted to share our quick Get Clean Routine!!

1) Grab my Cleaning basket: Having all of my sprays, cleaners and sponges in one basket really does make everything more convenient. (Bought my cheapo basket at Dollar Tree-for you guessed it $1!!) The other thing I grab is an empty store bag to dump trash in as I go along.

2) Kitchen: A lot of times I start in the kitchen, since I'm washing and putting away dishes from breakfast. Plus, cleaning the kitchen's pretty quick. (Wipe the counters, island, trash can, microwave, stove, fridge & kitchen table-love to use Clorox Green Works All-Purpose Cleaner. It's wonderful-smells like coconuts and can be used on everything...even floors! Sweep & mop the floor, then done!!) 15-20 minutes

3) Bathrooms: Ah, the dreaded bathrooms (we have 2.5 which equals 3 bathroooms to clean). I like to start with the dirtiest part-the toilets. But the good news is that I get to use my Clorox Toilet Wand

Another awesome product if you've never used it. It takes the ick out of cleaning toilets-it's a simple wand with an ejectable & disposal cleaning pad. I'm probably crazy, but I like to get all of the toilets out of the way, so I start downstairs then run up to clean the other two!

From there it's smooth sailing. Pull out the Green Works to clean the sinks, door handles, counters, mirrors, showers, bath tubs and floors. 30-45 minutes

4) Dust & Vacuum:  We store our vacuum downstairs, so it's always nice to start upstairs then work our way down.  20-30 minutes

Disclaimer: I'd like to add that Saturdays are not the only days that we clean-hence it only taking a good hour to spruce things up. We find that quickly cleaning & straightening up after ourselves on a daily basis makes it less overwhelming to clean over the weeked!

(BTW-it definitely helps to have an amazing hubby that rolls back his sleeves and gladly tag teams with cleaning & other chores). 

What's your Get Clean Routine?? Got any super sized cleaning tips? Please share!!


Friday, January 28, 2011

Our 1 Year Anniversary!!!

Last week, we celebrated our first anniversary of moving into our new house!! Yippee! It was a looong road, but we finally moved into our perfect home.

After lots of discussions, prayers and number-crunching, we decided to build. Here are a few pics to chronicle our building process. We couldn't be happier with our house-of course, I'm starting to get the itch to make changes & updates.

Over the next couple of weeks, I will be posting more about our spaces.


Here's where it all started...our lot!! Sept 09

We were surprised by how quickly the house was framed! Nov 09

Our first time actually walking around inside OUR house!  Nov 09

So, so, so exciting!! It's really coming together!! Nov 09

Garage door & windows! Yippee!! Dec 09

Brick work and siding! They really rolled to get things done!! Dec 09

Kan likes what he sees! Dec 09

Kan & Tim in our living room! Dec 09

Tim looking into our kitchen!! Dec 2010

We drove back by that night and they'd finished the brickwork & siding! Dec 09

Our kitchen cabinets went in! Dec 09

Kan and his buddy posing in the sunroom!

Getting ready to add the pad & carpet in the entry room! Dec 09

Exciting that the Ebony railing is in! Dec 09

A lot of work=a lot of dust!! Ick!

Loft area getting ready for the flooring! Dec 09

Overlooking the entry area! Dec 09

Our Master bathroom-a work in progress!! Dec 09

Living Room during our final walk through! Dec 09

The sunroom has come a loooong way!! Dec 09

The kitchen cleaned up pretty well-just add stainless appliances!! But love the counters!!

Loft area after carpeting!! Dec 09

Upstairs view from the loft area- Dec 09!

Master bedroom! Dec 09

Just add a driveway & we'll be good to go!

We were so excited to move in that we forgot to take pics that day!! Oops!! Feb 10

Our backyard after moving in! Feb 2010


Thursday, January 27, 2011

31 Days of Simple Blessings: Day 14- Cherish every moment

Gotta love his shirt! Korea 06

My cutie pie-Spring 08!

Over the past week, I've slowly transformed my oldest son's closet from a little boy's to a big boy's. This is something that I have been avoiding for a while.

During my pregnancy I was constantly told by moms to enjoy every moment because they grow up so quickly. While I took that advice to heart, I am amazed by how quickly the years are flying by. I feel like just yesterday I brought my little angel home from the hospital and now he's five and getting to the point where he's way too cool for mommy's kisses. Breaks my heart.

As I've ventured into his closet over the past few weeks, it's become more and more evident that changes needed to be made-some of the poor little baby hangers snapped from the weight of his no longer baby size clothing and I'd find sweatshirts and shirts littering the closet floor. So, with tears in my eyes, I finally mustered up enough strength to swap the baby hangers with regular (adult-size) ones.

Just the two of us- Winter 09
 At least the saving grace is that I was able to put those extra hangers in Kolt's ( our 8-month old) closet. I'm not sure what I'll do when the day comes when he outgrows the baby hangers-sigh!

Kanon's 3rd birthday- China 2008

 So, the moral of this post is to truly cherish and appreciate every little moment because things seem to change almost overnight.

As moms, it's easy to get frustrated from time to time (had one of those days today), but it's so important to stay positive and truly enjoy every day with your little ones.

I wanted to share a few of my favorite Kanon moments!! Enjoy!

Bath time- August 06


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

31 Days of Simple Blessings: Day 13- Yummy Bourbon Chicken Recipe

I'm in love!! Our beautiful casserole dish & cookbook!!

My sister-in-law is one of those people that always picks out the most perfect gifts. This past Christmas, she and my brother surprised my hubby and I with a gorgeous light blue Paula Dean casserole dish (love,love, love it!) & an awesome new cookbook (More of America's Most Wanted Recipes by Ron Douglas).

I've been itching to make one of the recipes and finally got around to making the Bourbon Chicken last night. This dish is excellent with rice (fried, white or brown).

Hope that you enjoy it as much as we did!!

Bourbon Street Chicken
Marinated chicken in a Bourbon-ginger sauce

1/2 cup soy sauce                       1/2 cup bourbon *
                    1/2 cup packed brown sugar            1 pound chicken breast cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder                                2 tablespoons of white wine
1 teaspoon ground ginger **     
2 tablespoons of onion flakes ( I used fresh diced onions)

*- I substituted 1/4 cup vanilla extract & 1/4 cup water for the bourbon
**-I substituted cinnamon for the ginger

1. Do ahead. Whisk together the soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic powder, ginger, onion flakes & bourbon.  Pour over the chicke pieces in a bowl and marinate in the fridge for 4 hours, stirring occassionally.

2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

3. Transfer the chicken to a baking pan and arrange in a single layer.  Pour any remaining marinade over the chicken pieces and bake for 1 hour, stirring and basting wiht hte marinade about every 10 minutes.

4. When the chicken is coked through, transfer it to a plate and keep warm.  Transfer contents of the dish to a skilllet and add the white wine.

5. Simmer for 5 minutes; serve warm.

Serves 4