Friday, July 29, 2011

Ready for a quiz?

It's crazy for me to think I started this blog 2 years ago. Before then, I knew nothing about the blogging world. Blogging allows me to capture our lives and also share them with you. Just this week I was rereading posts from last year and either laughing, reminiscing, or saying, "oh boy that was nerdy." It's a place to store memories and share inspiration. You should start one. I dare you.

Since blogging can be a bit one-sided, I want to know more about you! I do read all of your comments [which I totally love and read with excitement] and love hearing from you. So keep em' coming!

Anyway....remember at the beginning of this year, I hosted a reader's survey [found here]. A lot of you were hesitant and did not participate. So, I made it MUCH easier. It's multiple choice and only 6 questions. So come on, join the fun. Be sure to include any questions you have for me or my gamer hubby. Can be blog related or not. I'll be back after vacation to to share the results.

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world's leading questionnaire tool.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Another great dinner recipe

So here's another recipe...well two actually. 

Pretzel & Peanut-Crusted Chicken with Smashed Sweet Potatoes with Honey

Seriously so good. Crispy outside, tender inside. What's not to love about pretzels and peanuts combined with chicken?

Thanks to Rachel (as in Rachel Ray) she provided step by step directions with pictures so I didn't bother to document each step. Chicken recipe [here] and Potato recipe [here].

I pretty much followed the recipes exactly. However, I didn't use 2 pounds of chicken. I used 3 chicken breasts which made enough for dinner and leftovers the next night.

Side note: If you need to keep the chicken warm after being cooked, place in oven at 300 degrees until served.

Once again...Happy Cooking!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Easy 5 ingredient dinner

Last week I participated in Casey's recipe exchange. Click [here] for loads of good lookin' recipes. Anyway, I decided to make this one. The title Easy Dinner caught my attention and indeed it was. Easy, simple, and delicious.

You need 5 things...
chicken, corn, salsa, cream cheese, and black beans

The original recipe called for frozen chicken but we opted for fresh instead. I also bought 1/3 less fat cream cheese. The original recipe used regular but 1/2 the fat or 1/3 the fat works too, just not fat free. I couldn't find rotel and never heard of it either, so picked up a can of salsa instead. They looked similar.

Slice chicken into thinner slices, drain corn and beans and dump everything into a crock pot.
The chicken's on the bottom. I stirred everything together after I took this photo.
Cook on low for 6-7 hours. Stir occasionally.

Serve over rice. I promise it tastes good, even though it looks like pig slop in this picture.

It makes a ton so we had plenty of leftovers. The next night we made burritos. We added lettuce, tomato, and a dollop of sour cream. These were delicious too.


Happy Cooking!

Monday, July 18, 2011

State Art

Before I get into the heart of the matter {my new artwork}, I wanted to quickly say all my summer classes are complete, and I'm one final project away from truly being done. The end is in sight! So get ready for more blogging, projects, and recipes.

Anyway, back to the purpose of this post....artwork. Out here in blogland I've seen many rooms incorporate maps in some form or another as artwork. I liked it. a lot. With a lot more walls to cover in our new place, I was on the hunt for something map related for the walls.

I looked for a long time and when I stumbled upon these state designs, I loved them.

I found them {here} from an etsy shop.

We grew up in Pennsylvania and have many fond memories of our first twenty-three years of life in this great state. Childhood, family, high-school, college, getting married...

Maryland is where we live now and where we began our married life together. It's our new home away from home and represents a lot of 'firsts' for us.

Today, I finally bought some frames and hung them up.
Quick side note: the frames were 40% off and with my additional 25% coupon, rang in at $6.74 a piece.

Sorry, the lighting is not the greatest. It was hard to photograph with the glare from the glass.

I had to use the flash to get rid of the glare and they photographed much darker than they really are. The top pictures are more true to color.

Anyone else use maps or something similar for artwork?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Pesto Pizza

Another reason I love reading blogs is because of the amazing recipes I stumble upon. This pizza is sooo good. Seriously amazing. We both loved it and JD claimed it as one of all-time favorites.

Before Baking
 After baking

It is so easy to make. We JD made homemade pizza dough the night before. For some reason I just can't master making dough. He just has the touch.

It was the perfect summer meal [recipe here]. Since our pizza was a bit bigger I used a whole can of corn (didn't use fresh) and a small container of pesto.

Definitely a winning combination of corn, tomato, mozzarella, and pesto.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Side Table: From Inspiration to Creation

Remember in my last post I mentioned a few side tables that I found online and loved. Well, my search continued and I found this one:
found here
Again, I love the metal/wood combination. This shop on esty has some amazing pieces. This baby rings in at $695.00. Wow-way too pricey for our budget. But I had an idea: I could make this. Picture a little cartoon with a light bulb in the thought bubble.

After a few e-mails and conversations with my dad, it was decided we were going to use the photo above as inspiration to recreate our own side table on a cheaper (way cheaper) budget.  

So, I headed home early for the holiday weekend to get my build on. 

Here's what we did:
  • Stained the wood (thanks to dad the wood was already cut and glued when I got home) 
  • Stained the wood again. I didn't like the first color because it was too light. 
  • Lacquered the wood
  • Spray painted the hardware (we used 8 metal pipes and 16 brackets)
  • Assembled
I didn't take pictures of each step so here are a few random photos from the process.

I actually had to complete the last step back in Maryland because we ran out of brackets for the feet. Here's the final product.

 I just bought the lamp so that's why the shade is still wrapped in plastic. I'm still deciding if I like it. Any thoughts? Should I keep it? Is it worth $50?

Now for the cost... 
This table would have been around $135.00 which is not too bad considering the one I liked was close to $700.00. Those round brackets were around $7 a piece. Who knew metal brackets would be so much? However, thanks to my oh-so-generous parents this was f-r-e-e. That was not my intention, but I'm grateful for their kindness. 

I had a blast building this end table and if you ever decide to make anything--my only advice would be to make sure you work with someone like my dad. He knows just the right technique for applying stain, how to quickly apply lacquer to avoid drips, and how to work just about every power tool. Thanks dad!

One last look for comparison: