04/09/2013

Food as a Gift

I truly believe that one of the best gifts you can give someone is a home cooked meal. Not just because it tastes delicious and will fill up a hungry belly, but because the art of making and serving food really is the epitome of love: You must put another’s needs and wants ahead of your own when planning a menu for the recipient; It takes thought and research to pick the perfect recipes from cookbooks, websites, magazines, and Pinterest; Hard earned money is spent at the grocery on the needed ingredients; and time and effort in the kitchen is put into bringing the recipes to life. In all honesty, how much more thoughtful can a gift possibly get than that of the gift of food?

Thankfully, my family seems to feel the same way I do about this topic. I not only love making meals and treats for them, but they also enjoy eating the food too. Nothing makes me happier and warms my heart more than seeing my family after a dinner I made feeling happy, satisfied, and maybe even a little full from all the plated goodness.

My brother’s birthday was at the end of March so his dinner was a little belated, but on Sunday I made him a three-course spread consisting of an appetizer, entrée, and a dessert. Better late than never I always say and I am sure my husband would agree since he got to enjoy the extra special dinner on Sunday night too, which consisted of:

Easy Pepperoni Rolls

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I was originally going to make a Spinach Artichoke dip, but after finding out that my brother is not a huge fan of that appetizer I decided to choose something else. I found this recipe for Easy Pepperoni Rolls and I knew it would be a big hit, and boy oh boy was it simple: Biscuit dough, pepperoni, cheese and pizza sauce is really all you need. I served these snacks hot while the cheese was still gooey and melted.

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They made for the perfect appetizer and would be a great addition to your tailgating menu. I already have plans to make them a part of my Super Bowl Party next year!

Homemade Bread

I love my bread machine and I try to use it as much as possible. With just a few simple ingredients and a little time, this baby can pump out a perfectly cooked loaf.

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I made a 2 pound loaf using a recipe from my bread machine cookbook and substituted ½ white plus ½ white whole-wheat instead of all white flour for a touch of nutrition and a little extra density.

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Crockpot Buffalo Chicken

I made the bread as a base to my Crockpot Buffalo Chicken. This recipe was very easy and it just consisted of 1.5 pounds of chicken breast, ½ cup water, 1 cup Frank’s Buffalo Sauce, 1 onion thinly sliced, and 3 stalks of celery diced. I simply put all of the ingredients into the crockpot, cooked on low for 8 hours and then shredded the chicken and mixed everything together. I served as a sandwich on the bread and with the option of a drizzle of ranch dressing or crumbled blue cheese.  This chicken was so good that I didn’t even get a chance for a picture before the sandwiches were gobbled up!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

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Like any great birthday dinner, it’s the sweet ending that really is the icing on the cake.  Or in this case, the icing on the cookie cake!  I saw this recipe on Pinterest for a Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake and I just knew I had to try it and all I can say is that you must try it too. If you love thick and dense cookies with a gooey middle, this recipe is definitely one to make.

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I had to cook it a little longer than the recipe called for because the middle did not seem to want to cook through, but just be careful not to overcook it if you give it a try. I don’t know about you, but I would much rather have a cookie a little undercooked and gooey than overcooked and hard as a rock.

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The icing recipe that was recommended was quite different than my Lemon Cream Cheese Icing I made for Easter and consisted of ingredients I don’t usually use.  However,I figured that I was already making a cookie cake that won’t be on the cover of Fitness Magazine anytime soon so I may as well go big or go home with the icing too, so I went big!

These cookies were thick, rich, filling, sweet and rounded out this indulgent dinner perfectly. I had a small slice with a little decaf chocolate coffee and it was a great ending to my sweet day, and I think more importantly that the birthday boy enjoyed it too.

Talk to Me!

  • Do you ever make food as a gift?
  • If so, what are your favorite recipes to make when giving?
  • What is your favorite type of cookie: Chocolate Chip? Sugar? Peanut Butter? Oatmeal?
  • How do you prefer your cookies: Soft or Crunchy?
04/08/2013

Half-Bath Reveal

Finally after a couple months, our ‘weekend’ project is finally ready to reveal!  It was hard to take decent pictures in such a small space, but I wanted to make sure I shared the final results with all of you.  Without further ado, here is our completed half-bathroom remodel:

Before:

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Progress:

cabinets collage

back wall collage

Accessories:

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mirror and towels

After:

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There it is!  The only piece we are still missing is a picture or two for the wall, but I haven’t found anything I love yet and I do not want to settle on something that is just okay.  I also am going to make a Mason Jar soap pump to sit on the countertop.  As you can see, we made subtle and cost-effective changes, but I really think they made a world of difference.  A few of the biggest changes we made was painting the walls all Behr Linen White, painted the countertop using a restoration kit, created a rustic look on the cabinets using steel wool, spray painted the existing light fixture a stainless steel color, and purchased all new accessories from Home Goods.  I didn’t keep a tab of the total cost transformation, but it couldn’t have been much more than $300-$400 in total since we kept a lot of the large pieces like the vanity, toilet, and sink.  Big changes on a small budget is what we were shooting for and I think we met our goal well!

Talk to Me!

  • What room in your house are you wanting to remodel?  Or, what room have you recently remodeled?
  • Do you prefer to purchase fix-it-up homes that need a little TLC, or fully finished ones completed by the previous owner?
04/05/2013

Tips for Workplace Positivity

Whether you’re a teacher or a barista, a salesman, lawyer or even a full-time blogger, I am sure there are moments in every occupation when the job feels less than satisfying, or even downright stressful. During those times is when it is more important than ever to pull yourself up by your boot straps and keep moving forward. Questioning how or why you ended up in your current position will never resonate into a simple answer, but will only allow for second guessing and wishing for do-overs, which can be absolutely no good for anyone.

Whenever I get in a funk at work, I find that focusing on the following makes for a much more positive daily outcome:

  • Focus on financial goals. Whether it’s that new house you’ve been saving for, the big wedding being planned, or that long-awaited family vacation, focusing on an attainable financial goal makes getting up and going to work feel that much easier.

 

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  • Shut down. If possible, turning your phone off and not checking emails after quitting time will provide the space you need to refresh during off-the-clock hours. If you have a specific work time, it is much easier to give your all to the job when you know there is an end point set and in sight.
  • Remember what matters. Frame pictures of your family and loved ones, (even puppy dogs!), on your desk for when you need a reminder of why you get up and go to work every day. It may sounds corny, but seeing your husband or precious children smiling back at you from those photographs offers extra encouragement to work hard to provide for them and their needs.

 

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  • Imagine the possibilities. Just because your position today isn’t ideal doesn’t mean tomorrow you won’t get the job of your dreams. Stay focused on where you want to go and what actions will get you there rather than falling into the trap of thinking this is as good as it will ever get.
  • Make weekend plans…or don’t! Whatever brings you the most joy, whether it is a busy weekend schedule jam-packed with get-togethers, shopping, or dinners, or one that is more laid-back and filled with relaxation, naps and at-home pedicures, make sure you save a little bit of time every weekend to do something for yourself. I know this can be especially difficult for those with children, but it is very important for your own mental health, so find a way to take that morning walk, savor a cappuccino, or relax in a bubble bath with a good book. Knowing that the weekend ahead has some fun in it for you helps getting through the work week become that much easier.

 

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Happy Friday! Soak in your time off and make sure to enjoy a little something for yourself this weekend!

Talk to Me!

  • What gets you through the work day during tough times?
  • If you could pick anything to treat yourself with during the weekend, what would it be?
  • What is a financial goal you are working toward right now?