Ikea vanity

Step one in redecorating/decorating the bedroom was buying this shelf desk from Ikea to use as a vanity.

This week I am currently:

Working on: This Saturday we are having the kids over to make Mother’s Day presents! I’m super excited. So I’m working on getting the supplies for that. I’m also working on some cute little garden labels that will help me not mix up our plants, which may or may not have already happened. I’m working on an executable plan for decorating our bedroom on the cheap AND creating my editorial calendar of posts for May and June.

Thinking about: Routines. Man, I love routines. In fact, I feel crazy if we’re off of our usual routine. A few weeks ago I finally felt like we had our routine down. Life was working perfectly. And then, I got a little sick and everything came to a grinding halt, and I’m having trouble getting back to normalcy.

Anticipating: A busy few weeks ahead, but good busy — we have a lot of family commitments and social plans, which all should be really fun.

Listening to: Oh gosh, I was really excited to tell you all about the podcasts  that I’m currently hooked on, but apparently this has been a three-week obsession because I talked about them last time. Oh, well, still listening to podcasts at the gym and to and from work. At work, I’m back to the Escala station on Pandora.  Tell me your favorite podcast in the comments! I need more options!

Watching: We have been watching this super scary reality television show on Netflix about ghosts and animals and sometimes ghost animals. And it scares the beejesus out of me. A.J. claims he is trying to desensitize me to scary things, but really I just fall asleep with the light on now.

Thankful for: I am thankful for my husband who has dealt with me being positively crazy this week. I am thankful that I finally realized I was acting so crazy because I hadn’t worked out in awhile and now I’m thankful for the gym. I’m thankful for Ibuprofen PM which is the only way I’ve been getting to sleep at a decent hour. Oh, and I’m thankful for Blue Apron, which is this food service we’re trying out this week for free. So far, I’ve made one out of three meals, and it was pretty decent. Also I didn’t have to shop or meal plan or think, and that is worth a lot.

Reading:  I still haven’t finished Julia Child’s book (affiliate link), but I recently purchased some books that I’m going to be giving as gifts soon, but I might read them first. Is that allowed? Is that one of those things I’m not supposed to admit?

Planning for:  Kids’ Craft Day this Saturday, a First Communion celebration coming up, a Mardi Gras party I should probs RSVP for, like, today, and then Mother’s Day and Brunch. Am I glorifying busy? (That’s the worst!)  I promise I am not trying to tell you how busy I am. I am just excited for all of the things coming up.

(Affiliate links are links to products that I have bought on my own and stand behind, but if purchased through my link, I receive a tiny kickback for bringing it to your attention.)

Skinny tortilla lasagna

Skinny tortilla lasagna


Our downstairs neighbors are super old. Because of this their television is always super loud. It reminds me of what it would probably be like to live with a teenager. It’s funny how life is cyclic.

If we’re lucky then we are all watching the same thing and it’s just in stereo. Recently there was some breaking news happening in Pennsylvania, and I was able to follow along all day without turning on the television. I just followed along through my floor.

It happens.

I’m big into traditional, authentic ways to prepare food because I think part of preparing and consuming home-cooked meals plays as much a role in one’s culture as his or her culture plays in the food. And, I hate to say this, but often times the “Americanized” version of a traditional meal is not the best. There are usually shortcuts that cut down on the quality of the overall dish.

But as the world gets smaller, more and more cultures are swirling together and sometimes there’s magic.

Cue this tortilla lasagna. It’s made with tortillas instead of noodles and ground meat with latin spices instead of meat sauce and oregano. There’s still cheese, but it’s cheddar instead of ricotta or mozzarella. But the Italian method is still there — it’s layered and baked.

I made this as the entre for Wine Night, and what’s nice is that I could put it all together ahead of time, and then put it in the oven right after everyone arrived. This allowed for some good snacking time on chips and guac while we poured the wine and gossiped.

I started by making the meat layer. Chopped onions, ground turkey, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder.


[Read more...]

Maple-bourbon glazed salmon

Maple-bourbon glazed salmon


If there’s one thing I love, it’s bourbon. Sorry I’m not sorry. On the rocks. In cocktails. In desserts. On fish?

Totally on fish. With sticky maple syrup and toasted pecans. This dish is warm. I mean, obviously warm in temperature. But also warm in flavor.

The best part about drinking bourbon is the way your whole mouth and throat warms after the first few sips. You can feel the blush rise up in your throat and burst in your mouth and it’s just lovely after a hard day, or a mediocre day, or a good day. Any kind of day.

Obviously the alcohol mostly cooks out of this dish, so it doesn’t create that same blush as when you drink bourbon. But it creates a flavor that’s warm and rich and lovely. Also, this dish is quick and easy, but doesn’t taste like it. Those are my favorite kinds of dishes.

I started by preparing my sauce: some bourbon, some maple syrup, a little water in a sauce pot over high heat. [Read more...]

Gastronomy: Homemade Easter appetizer

Gastronomy: Homemade Easter appetizer

red pepper dip

This is one of the beautiful dips that A.J.’s mom made for Easter appetizers. It’s made with roasted red peppers and cheese, and served warm with crackers.

Gastronomy is “the art and science of good eating” or the marriage of fine cuisine and culture. Today in honor of Easter, I’m doing a homemade edition of this delicious dip that A.J.’s mom served at Easter.

A similar recipe, from Our Best Bites.

Apple vanilla crumb bars

Apple vanilla crumb bars

apple crumb bars

So, of course, I’m still working through the 40 apple dishes for the applepalooza, but apple recipes are so autumn-ish, and I really wanted to do something different with my apples. Something that didn’t include warm cinnamon, zippy nutmeg and earthy allspice. Those flavors are wonderful, but eventually the apple pies start tasting like the apple crisps and apple bettys, and please for the love of everything holy give me something that doesn’t take like red and orange leaves with a dash of pumpkin.

Enter this crumb bar. No fall-spices. No spices at all. A lovely, buttery shortbread crust, some apples doused with a vanilla syrup and a crumb topping. This does not taste like fall spices. This tastes like spring.

I started by making a shortbread crust. That involved mixing up some flour, sugar and salt. [Read more...]

A beginner’s quilt

A beginner’s quilt

beginner's quilt

I made a quilt! It’s done. And I learned a lot about quilt making in the process. It’s not very easy basically sums it up.

I decided I wanted to learn to quilt, because eventually I want to cut up my wedding dress and make a quilt from it. But for the first time in my adult life, I decided to take a baby step, and instead of cutting my wedding dress up to pieces, I thought it might behoove me to practice, and I’m sure glad I did.

Our friends just had a baby, and I thought that would be the perfect opportunity for a first/second/third attempt. (The final version that I plan to mail on Monday is not perfect. I certainly would describe it as “rustic,” but the good thing about babies is that they don’t notice imperfection.)

My first attempt did not work out very well. I cut up some fabric and sewed a few lines together and quickly realized that a) the fabric I chose was super ugly when it was together and b) my scissor skills are very undeveloped and none of the pieces were the same size.

The saving grace was this e-course that Rae gave me for my birthday! It’s really simple and full of information, and even though I haven’t made the exact projects that Elise outlines, I was able to make the project I had already started using tips from the e-course. And I really am going to make what she’s outlined (for more practice before the big Wedding Dress Quilt), because they’re super fun, cute projects.

This post is not really a tutorial, and if you want to learn to quilt, I really recommend buying Elise’s e-course. Instead I’m just documenting the issues that I ran into and how I solved them. [Read more...]

Wedding albums

Wedding albums

project life wedding mini album

Before I conclude all the wedding posts ever, I want to talk about our Project Life-themed wedding albums that I’m making for my parents, A.J.’s parents, my grandma and us. I’ve finished with 1 1/2 of the four, and still plugging away, but what I think makes Project Life albums stand out are the little details.

I’m not going to go through every page, like our do with our other Project Life album, but I just want to show some of the details of which I’m most proud.

[Read more...]

Garden, week 8

Garden, week 8

garden, week 8

I feel like the plants have finally gotten used to their new homes outside. Even though we had some cold days this week, they did really well and are really starting to perk up. The lettuce in the top left corner are thriving. And the broccoli in the blue pot is finally perking up.

garden, week 8

In the cream- and olive-colored planters in the right corner, you can see that the spinach is just starting to germinate, and the cauliflower in the small, olive container is doing well too.

garden, week 8

The chives in the yellow container are still looking a little sad, but I think they’ll eventually perk up.

The parsley, strawberries and peas still haven’t germinated, and I’m nervous that they might not at all, but it’s a waiting game, for now.

Survey says …

Survey says …

survey results graphic

Chicken breasts with lemon-butter sauce

Chicken breasts with lemon-butter sauce

letter butter chicken

There’s this specialty espresso shot at Starbucks that I really want to try, but haven’t felt bold enough to order it.

It’s sometimes called an Undertow, but I think the general Internet consensus is to not call “secret” Starbucks drinks by their made-up names and just order the drink the way you want. It’s a layered drink with vanilla syrup, milk and espresso. You take it all at once and taste the hot, bitter espresso first, then the creamy, cool milk, followed by the sweet syrup.

Sometimes you just want flavor to hit you in the face.

This dish has no vanilla syrup or creamy milk or bitter espresso, but it does hit you in the face.

Sometimes you just want to take a bite of chicken and taste every single ingredient you put into it in a perfect harmony of, well, POW.

There’s not so many ingredients here — some lemon, some lemon pepper, some butter and some breaded chicken. But it’s enough.

(Today is the last day to take the readers’ survey so if you haven’t yet, would you please? I have had 39 responses, and wouldn’t it be nice to get to a nice round 50?)

I started by pounding my chicken thin (doing this is really essential, and it really makes pan-frying a breeze). Then I breaded the chicken with a little flour, mixed with some salt and lemon pepper. [Read more...]