Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Nursery Update #3

You can see Update #1 here and Update #2 here

Jason has been painting like crazy - we wanted a Forest Friend theme. Originally we were going to paint the entire wall green with a blue ceiling for the sky and the exposed beams brown. Then Jason got creative and came up with the idea for a tree line where the green and the blue meet. I have to admit I was a little hesitant but let him do what he wanted to do. I am SO SO glad I did - I came home and it took my breath away. I LOVE IT. We still have more finishing to do, the trim needs to be stained and put up, the ceiling fan needs to be installed and of course the carpet needs to be ordered.

This is where our walls and ceiling meet - you can see the tree line here and an exposed beam. Also the wiring for the ceiling fan.


This is the inside of the closet - also built by Jason. We're keeping the inside white to keep it bright once the doors are on.


This view is from the door facing the window wall. You can't see it too well but the top window has a window cling that looks like stained glass. There will be trim around the windows as well. Plus more of the tree line.


This is a better view of the closet. The cubby hole above the closet will have a door installed on it and it will be painted green as well. The doors all still need to be stained and none of the trim is up yet either.


Just another view of the tree line that Jason has been working on. The exposed beams will also be trimmed to get rid of that white line you see.


We are also buying a few wall decals - these are the ones we have decided on so far:


We're thinking this will go above the doorway.



This will probably be below the windows



These will hang on the branches of the trees

And these will find a home somewhere


Friday, December 10, 2010

Nursery Update #2

You can see the first update here






As you can see the drywall is up, the mudding and sanding are done - next step, PAINT!!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

MAM Fan Friday Sweepstakes


I have been told over & over that MAM pacifers are the best option out there. So I registered for a few and when I saw this giveaway, I entered - and won! It's a random draw as to which one you get so I'm excited for it to show up in our mail.

Hollywood Hills Giveaway


Book Loons is one of my favorite websites to enter sweepstakes from - they are always giving away books of some sort and being a bookworm, this appeals to me. I've never won from them...until now. And to top it off, I'm the grand prize winner in this sweep! I won the Hollywood Hills collection from Joseph Wambaugh. It includes the books Hollywood Station, Hollywood Crows, Hollywood Moon and Hollywood Hills. I cannot wait to dive in!

General Mills Giveaway

I'm always up for a new cookbook and I prefer the panko bread crumbs over standard bread crumbs so this sweepstake was right up my alley! Jaina's Mom was giving away a package of Progresso Lemon Pepper Panko and autographed copy of Michael Chiarello's Bottega: Bold Italian Flavors from the Heart of California's Wine Country from General Mills.

I'm excited to try out some of the recipes in the book, I'm a huge Italian food fan, I could eat it every day if I knew it wouldn't pack on the pounds! Keep your eyes open for some recipes I try out on this blog!

Carnal Innocence



In the small town of Innocence, Mississippi, days are long, nights are fragrant, and secrets are hard to keep. But when a brutal killer starts claiming the lives of the town's most attractive women, lifelong neighbors are forced to wonder if the culprit is a stranger lurking in the bayou...or someone right next door.

World-famous concert violinist Caroline Waverly knows nothing of the murders when she arrives in Innocence. Burned out from a childhood lost to endless rehearsals and an all-too-public breakup with the conductor who was her lover, Caroline is looking for a little peace and some time to think. She hopes that a stay at her late grandmother's house, the one with a covered porch just made for soft summer nights, will provide the tranquillity she needs. But Innocence has something else to offer Caroline: a man named Tucker Longstreet.

Blessed with the Longstreet good looks, lazy charm, and family fortune, Tucker is a tall, cool drink of water - and he knows it. He likes to keep his romances short and shallow. But one look at Caroline, and Tucker realizes that she is unlike any other woman he's met. Tightly coiled and coolly reserved, Caroline is determined to fight him off. She might be able to do a better job if she hadn't felt an unexpected thrill at his ardent advances...and if she hadn't been so scared after finding a third murder victim in the murky waters behind her home.

For Caroline Waverly,a beautiful summer interlude could turn into much more- or could stir a killer's crazed dreams. Because there's just one small problem with her new romance: Tucker is the leading suspect in the killings.

**Personal Thoughts**

This book had me hooked from the start, it kept reeling me in with the new twist & turns as well. I thought I had the murder "pegged" in about chapter 2 only to change my mind later in the book. It keeps you guessing and wondering what the next plot twist will be. It introduces a wide range of characters, all who could be "the one" who is responsible for the murders going on around town. I really enjoyed the mystery with a little romance thrown in for good measure.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Broccoli Casserole

Recipe from Food Network/Paula Deen

Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 35 min
Total Time: 45 min
Makes 8-10 servings

  • 2 (10-ounce) packages frozen chopped broccoli, cooked and drained
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar
  • 1 (10 3/4-ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups crushed crackers
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 13 by 9-inch baking dish with vegetable oil cooking spray.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine broccoli, mayonnaise, cheese, soup and eggs. Mix well with a metal spoon. Place the mixture in the prepared baking dish. Top with the crushed crackers and pour the melted butter evenly over the crackers. Bake for 35 minutes or until set and browned.
This was a very easy recipe to do - instead of using frozen broccoli, I used fresh broccoli, steamed it for about 14 minutes - until it was tender crisp. I figured it would cook more in the oven when all mixed together. I also used cream of celery soup instead of cream of mushroom soup - I am not a mushroom fan.

This got great reviews - I used it as my dish to pass on Thanksgiving with the in laws. Everyone asked about the cream of celery - they enjoyed the "different" take on the standard green been casserole dish.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Roasted Butter Herb Turkey


Prep Time: 30 min
Inactive Prep: 30 min
Cook: 3 hr 0 min
Total: 4 hr 0 min
Makes 12 servings

  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons garlic herb sauce mix (recommended: Knorr)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed garlic
  • 1 (32-ounce) bag celery and carrot party sticks
  • 2 large onions, large dice
  • 1 (32-ounce) container low-sodium chicken broth
  • 12-pound turkey, thawed if necessary
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon pepper
  • 3 (3/4-ounce) packets fresh herbs poultry herb blend (sage, thyme and rosemary)
  • 1 lemon, thickly sliced
  1. In a small bowl, combine softened butter, poultry seasoning, garlic herb sauce mix, and crushed garlic. Use a fork to mix together until well combined. Cover and put in the refrigerator for 15 to 30 minutes, until firm but not hard.
  2. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
  3. Arrange celery, carrots, and half of the diced onions in the bottom of a roasting pan. Add chicken broth and set aside.
  4. Rinse the thawed turkey and pat dry. Use your finger to carefully loosen the skin around the entire bird. Take the butter mixture and cut into large pieces. Place the butter pieces under the skin of the entire turkey. Rub the remaining butter pieces on the outside of the skin and season with salt and pepper. Stuff the inside of turkey cavity with remaining onions, fresh herb poultry blend, and lemon slices. (Truss if necessary.) Insert the pop-up thermometer at an angle about 3-inches down from the neck cavity and 2-inches from the breast bone, in the thickest part of the breast.
  5. Place turkey on the bed of vegetables in roasting pan. Place in the oven and reduce temperature to 325 degrees F. Roast for 1 hour, then baste with pan juices every 20 minutes until thermometer pops up or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thigh registers 180 degrees F, about 3 hours.
This was pretty easy to put together and made for a very juicy, tender and tasty turkey. Everyone raved about the flavor and leftovers were fought over. It's an all day ordeal to roast this but it's well worth it. The flavored butter really helped add something to the meat. I also used the juice at the bottom of the roasting pan as gravy. Just strain the liquid into a sauce pot, bring to a boil and slowly add a mixture of corn starch and hot water to the pot to thicken.

Trains Vehicle Play Set


I saw this giveaway and thought my nephews would just love it! Well, Tommie would, Alex is still pretty young but hopefully Tommie will share when Alex is older. What little kid doesn't enjoy a train set?! Perfect for Christmas time! The Cartoon Lovin' Mama ran this great giveway in her blog and I received the email that I was the lucky winner!

This set includes a 24-page full-color book, a 4-piece train set,an interactive sticker poster & reusable stickers!

First Impressions Gift Set


I was thrilled to receive another email from the wonderful site, Mommies With Cents letting me know I had won another sweepstakes from them. I love working with them because they are so quick to make sure your prize gets to you, plus they just give away some really awesome items! This time around I won the First Impressions Gift Set from Macy's. I'm not sure which one I got though because they do want to send gender specific items so Jason responded back to the email with boy or girl.

I'll open the package up after our little bean has arrived to check out the goods. I cannot wait! The clothing in this collection is so cute, I love all the little details!

Keeping Faith

When her parents divorce, seven-year-old Faith finds a friend who supports her--a friend who may be imaginary. Is Faith a prophet or just a troubled little girl? From the acclaimed author of The Pact comes a provocative novel about belief, betrayal, and miracles, and the fierce love of a mother for her child.

**Personal Thoughts**

I had read some so so reviews on this book so I was expecting something I'd have to struggle through to finish. I was surprised and happy to find I was easily sucked into the story line of this book. I thought she did a great job in keeping the plot line flowing, there was never a spot in the story where it dragged on and gave you unneeded information. I do wish she would have expanded more on the ending I have a few questions I would have liked answered. Overall though, great story!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

United Airlines - Mileage Plus Sweepstakes


I was shocked when I saw the instant win screen change to CONGRATULATIONS! Much less the fact that I won the iPod Touch. It's "only" an 8 GB but still pretty awesome. The sweepstake is still going on if you want to try and win as well. United Airlines is giving lots of prizes away everyday until December 30th. You do need to have an advantage # in order to enter but it's free to get one so make sure you sign up for that!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Hershey's Drops Instant Win


Hershey has a new product they're getting ready to release, the Hershey's Drops. They come in a resealable bag and are the size of M&M's - so you can indulge in the chocolaty goodness without eating an entire candy bar. Perfect for when you need that quick chocolate fix! They're currently giving away 80 bags a day in their contest - I won one of those bags today! Even better - the grand prize is 52 8oz bags of Hershey's Drops candy! But hurry - this promotion ends November 25th!

Love 21 Maternity Starter Pack by Forever 21


I always enjoy popping into Forever 21 for a cute, trendy top because I know I won't spend an arm & a leg on it. So if it's out of style next season, into the donation pile it goes! When I got pregnant my stores to visit were very narrowed. I was thrilled to hear Forever 21 is starting a maternity line - cute clothing for cheap? Always a great thing to hear when shopping for maternity clothing. You don't want to break the bank for items you're only going to wear for a few months.

Pregnancy & Newborn magazine
had a Facebook giveaway for the Forever 21 Maternity Starter pack, the picture above is actually three different pieces. A tank top, a belly band and a pair of leggings. So you can wear each piece as needed with different outfits. Best of all? I won! I can't wait to get these rotating into my collection!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Disposable Diaper Dilemma Giveaway

I probably won't cloth diaper - my sister does and she tells me how wonderful it is but I just don't see us as "cloth diapering" parents. If we had a company like my parents had where they would pick up the dirty diapers and drop off clean ones to you - maybe then. I just don't know if I like the idea of handling poop that much and then washing it in our machine....eh...

But I still felt guilty about the waste that disposable diapers cause - so I started looking into the "middle ground" and found Bambo Nature diapers. Bambo Nature is 80% biodegradable, more than 3 times as much as other brands. So "better" in the garbage heap than the other brands which just continue to hang around for all of time. That was my favorite feature of this brand but there are plenty plenty more.

So I was thrilled when I found out the blog, Stuff Parents Need, was doing a givaway for these diapers! I jumped at the chance and when I received the winning email today I did a little happy dance. I can't wait to try them out and hopefully they work for baby & us!

Diva Puppies & Create Your Own Enchanted Storybook Activity Kit


I was thrilled when I got the email telling me I had won this prize pack, my honorary nieces will LOVE this. I plan on stocking it away for one of their Christmas gifts. I entered & won from Mommies with Cents - a great website that is always giving something away along with great information about toys, raising children and just being a mom.

The Diva Puppies come with three bobble head puppies that you can decorate with paint, sequins, flowers, ribbons, heart charm collars, fur, boas and tutus that also come in the kit. The girls LOVE dogs, LOVE arts & crafts & anything girly - so this is a perfect gift for them to play with.



I also won the Create Your Own Enchanted Storybook Activity Kit, the oldest of the two girls has REALLY been into making her own stories lately since they've been doing it in kindergarten so I think she'll enjoy this too. The hard-cover book comes ready to decorate with markers, glitter stickers, color-in stickers and rhinestones - you make up the story & draw pictures to go along with it.

I can't wait to see what they come up with!

Wanchai Ferry/Macaroni Grill Prize Pack Giveaway


This was a "fun" yet small win - I won Wanchai Ferry dry dinner kit, Macaroni Grill dry dinner kit and $25 Visa gift card from the website One Day, One Dollar at a Time. To enter you had to tell them what your first date was with your husband. For those who don't know, Jason & I worked together, he was my boss. I know...I know. I was in the market for a new car and figured that would be the perfect chance to see if Jason liked me as more than a co-worker. I wandered into his office and started chatting about this car I liked but my brother & dad were both busy that night - but I really wanted to go see it again, to "kick the tires."

(By the way, I totally could have done it on my own but I was playing the game.)

Jason said he'd go with me after work, he followed me to the dealership and asked a few questions to the sale rep. After that he said we should check out a few more dealerships since he was there with me. After two more stops I told him I'd buy him dinner as a thank you - he agreed but insisted on picking up the tab. We talked about everything that night and I knew that I was in some serious trouble if he didn't like me back, I was laying everything out there. It took a few more days, a party and an invite to his house to watch a movie before we made it official. Soon after that he left the company and the rest - is history! We've been married for over a year and have our first kid on the way.

It's amazing how I continue to fall more and more in love with him and remind myself how blessed I am. If I hadn't spoken up I may have let the best thing pass me right by!

Twisted Tea - Charlie Moore Sweepstakes


I entered this sweepstake with Jason in mind, he's a huge outdoorsmen and the prizes were all right up his alley. Back in August I received an email telling me I had won a $100 gift card for fishing gear! I was hoping to receive it before the fishing season was over but no such luck - maybe he can use it for ice fishing once the lake freezes over!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Pork and Green Chile Casserole

Recipe from Better Homes & Gardens

Makes 8 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Bake Time: 30 minutes
  • 1-1/2 pounds boneless pork
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 14-1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 10-3/4-ounce can condensed cream of chicken soup
  • 2 4-1/2-ounce cans chopped green chili peppers
  • 1 cup quick-cooking brown rice
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons salsa
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (2 ounces)
  1. Trim fat from pork. Cut pork into 1/2-inch cubes. In a large skillet, brown pork, half at a time, in hot oil. Drain off fat. Return pork to the skillet.
  2. Stir in black beans, tomatoes, condensed soup, chili peppers, brown rice, water, and salsa. Bring mixture to boiling. Carefully pour into a 2-quart square baking dish. Bake, uncovered, in a 350 degree F oven for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese; let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
This was super simple to make, perfect for a quick yet healthy meal during the week. I couldn't find the chili peppers so I just bought a can of tomatoes with chilis included and it tasted perfect to me. I added the cheese at the end and then put it under the broiler to help melt it and brown it as well. It makes for great leftovers!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Nursery Update #1

I don’t have a before picture, Jason got to the nursery before that was able to happen. But I’ll do my best to paint a picture in your mind for those who have never seen it. We live in an “A” frame house and the nursery is one of the two bedrooms on the top floor. So the roof is actually the wall on two of the four sides of this room. It reaches a peak in the middle – forming an “A”. We have two 90° walls – the doorway to enter the room and the wall with the windows on it.

The two straight walls had cedar paneling on it – the real stuff, not the fake stuff people put up many years ago. The beams from roof made up the two slanted walls so the entire room was wood. It was also poorly insulated so in the summer it was like a sauna up there and in the winter there were times you could see your breath. All that was up there was our computer so we never really cared.

Now that our baby is going to be calling that room home we (Jason) decided it was time for a major overhaul. I came home one day to a pile of wood on our driveway from the demo work Jason had done while I was at work. He pulled the cedar paneling off the wall, tore out the useless closet that you couldn’t access more than two feet of, ripped up the carpeting and padding and tossed it all out the window.

You can see somewhat the demo in this picture. That is the door leading to the loft area and to the right is what is left of the closet. The left side is where the light switch is – that was all covered with the cedar paneling. The slanted walls have not changed from before to now. That is what they looked like previously, that’s the bottom of our roof!

We ordered in ridged insulation and 2x4s for framing the slanted walls and getting them ready for insulation and dry wall. Jason and his crew of friends helped him frame and insulate the room. Here is the framing in progress:

In the left corner of this picture is the doorway to the loft area of this level. Next to that is what is left of the sorry excuse for a closet and the cubby hole above it that we use for storage. (An “A” frame house means no attic)

In this picture you can see where Jason added insulation to the wall that faces the outside of the house. The encasement window will also be replaced for more insulation.

The ridged insulation is being attached to the walls in this picture

And the finished product here

In the next update hopefully we will show you:

  • The framed in closet
  • The new window
  • The new door
  • Drywall

Tony Lucca - Rendezvous With The Angels

I actually found out I won this by getting a Google alert on my name! I should be seeing it soon, hopefully. I won Tony Lucca's latest CD, Rendezvous With the Angels from Celebrity Cafe! Jason introduced me to Tony Lucca when we started dating, he grew up with him. Tony has since moved to California to pursue his singing career so we really don't see him unless he's in town on tour. He did fly into Michigan to sing at our wedding for us though, he's always wonderful when we do meet up. This is the latest in his collection of albums and the only one we don't own! I'm super excited to listen to everything!

Fireplace

When Jason bought our house, the first level was painted baby blue and baby pink. That's right, together. We're not sure of the look the old owners were going for. The fireplace was brick, which they painted pink. Jason, being a single guy at the time - wasn't too big of a fan. He fully intended to redo the entire first level, at some point.

Then he and I started dating and he got more serious about the re-model, pulling paint samples and buying new fixtures. But that is as far as it got. About two years ago the actual demo and remodel started. We painted, added chair railing, framed the windows, got new window treatments, added a closet to hide the boiler.

But the biggest job was that fireplace - the elephant in the room, also the most expensive fix. We had the stone we wanted for it sitting in our garage but Jason wasn't sure how to go about putting it up. Two summers ago we had a chimney sweep come out and clean out our chimney since we had been using it a lot during the winter. He took one look at our chimney and told us we had two options, rebuild or buy an insert.

We bought the wood burner insert - the obvious less expensive of the two choices and have been loving it ever since. When we had the wood burner installed, the guy told us he could do our stonework for us at a really great price! So we hired him and this past week he came out and had the stonework done in two days! I'm so happy to have a finishing touch to the room now.

We still have a few more improvements we plan on making but as of right now, we're really happy!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Repo Men


Writers Eric Garcia and Garrett Lerner team with director Miguel Sapochnik to adapt Garcia's novel about a repo man named Remy whose body has been constructed almost entirely of artificial organs. When Remy (Jude Law) fails to keep up on payments for his recent heart transplant, his former partner vows to take back the organ by force if necessary. Meanwhile, Remy finds an unexpected ally in the form of his long-lost wife, Beth (Alice Braga), who has also been retrofitted with numerous artificial organs. Now, despite the fact that they haven't seen each other since Remy joined the army ten years ago, the desperate repo man and his sympathetic wife attempt a daring escape from a man who holds the lives of millions in the palm of his hands. Forest Whitaker and Liev Schreiber co-star.

This movie was just "eh" for me - I felt like it really dragged on in spots. There is a lot of blood and killing in this movie so if you're not comfortable with it - be forewarned, you'll see a lot of graphic scenes. I think the idea of this movie had potential, I think it fell apart when they attempted to write it in a movie format. The biggest twist is how this movie ends, you don't see it coming. I am still undecided if I liked the ending or not.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Night Tales: #4 & #5


See Review for #1 & #2 here & the review for #3 & #4 here

Jonah Blackhawk knew forbidden fruit when he tasted it, and Ally Fletcher definitely fell into that category. The lanky blonde wasn't just a cop, she was also the police commissioner's daughter. No matter how sharp or constant Blackhawk's hunger may be, Ally was off-limits. She needed to finish her case, get out of his club and out of his life, before the memory of their passionate embrace consumed him. Until then, he'd stay away from her and keep to his own world, protected by the cover of night, his Night Shield.

Maggie Fitzgerald had retreated from her fast-paced life, seeking solitude to heal her tattered heart. But if landscaper Cliff Delaney's rude manner and irresistible sexuality weren't disturbing enough, now an old murder shattered her peace entirely, imperiling her life and forcing her right into the protective arms of the most irritating man alive! Delaney's Night Moves were enough to make even the saddest woman smile…but were they also those of a killer?

**Personal Thoughts**

*Yawn* As I've said in the past two reviews, this series does not sit high on my "best of" books by Nora Roberts. The books are very predictable and pretty much recycled over and over. There are a lot of detailed sex scenes in this series as well. I'm no prude and don't mind one throw in every once in a while but it felt like it was overkill and the characters had sex through most of the book. I started skipping over those parts to get back to the actual plot line. I finished the series up so I could cross it off my list of her books. I probably wouldn't have finished them if I wasn't so determined to read all her books.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Nursery Decor



Jason has added three more additions to the baby's room already - he's loving the woodland theme we decided on and is picking these little guys up here & there. I love that they make the sounds as well and each animal is something we can find in our yard or close by so it'll be cool to teach our kid their animals and animal sounds!

Just Imagine

The War Between the States may be over for the rest of the country, but not for Kit Weston. Disguised as a boy, she's come to New York City to kill Baron Cain, the man who stands between her and Risen Glory, the South Carolina home she loves. But unknown to Kit, the Yankee war hero is more than her most bitter enemy-he's also her guardian. And he'll be a lot harder to kill than she's figured on...

Believing that Kit's a boy, Cain offers the grubby rapscallion a job in his stable. But he has no idea what he's in for, and it's not long before the hero of Missionary Ridge discovers the truth. His scamp of a stable boy is a strong-willed, violet-eyed beauty who's hell-bent on driving him crazy.

Two hard-headed, passionate people.... Two stubborn opponents with tender souls.... Sometimes wars of the heart can only be won through the sweetest of surrenders.


**Personal Thoughts**

At first I had a hard time really getting into this book, I've read a few books by Susan Elizabeth Phillips but this was the first historical book I had read by her. After she finished introducing the characters and setting you up for the plot line that is when I was pulled in and never looked up. I loved being back in time where women dressed in petticoats and were instructed on how to be a good wife as their soul educational experience.

Even though Kit & Baron stood toe to toe most of the book glaring at each other you always hoped they would open their eyes and admit how much they adored each other instead of hiding their emotions behind their anger. I loved following the story line, the characters and watching the story unfold. I was so sad to have the book end - I wanted to know more, follow them longer. Another hit for Susan Elizabeth Phillips in my opinion!