House updates – May 2017

Hi, everyone! I hope your Memorial Day weekend was full of family, friends, and food. We had a few thunderstorms on Sunday, but overall, the weather was GREAT in Akron. I had Friday and Monday off of work, which made for a lovely, wonderful four-day weekend. Ryan’s family came into town because….he was promoted at work!! He’s now officially a lieutenant at the Lorain Fire Department. We couldn’t be prouder of him – and I couldn’t be more nervous about having to learn to spell lieutenant now (thank heavens for auto correct!).

I’ve been slowly incorporating what I like to call “farmhouse prep” into our house. I love the simple, rustic details of a “farmhouse” style, but my hearts also flutters for the clean stripes and hints of gold found in a “preppy” style. It’s an evolving style, and I’m having so much fun with it.  Continue reading

Pantry Cooking – Mexican Lasagna

We are big fans of Mexican food in our house  casa. We are regulars at the local Mexican restaurant, and Ryan’s homemade guacamole is pretty much a staple in our fridge, so when I found this recipe for Mexican Lasagna on my quest for pantry cooking recipes, I knew it was worth a try.

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Because I was focused on using only items we had on hand, I had to make a few tweaks in the ingredients, but HOLY MOLEY this recipe is great!

First, it makes a lot of food – and all the ingredients are inexpensive. Based on 6 servings and the price I paid for the ingredients (to the best of my recollection), this costs about $2.11 per serving. You can add ground beef or turkey to the red sauce if you’d like, but I did not – and I honestly didn’t miss it at all! For our 2 1/2 person family, this easily makes enough for dinner and at least one lunch.

Secondly, it’s comforting and satisfying. My first thought was – wow, this tastes like a Mexican Pizza from Taco Bell! However, by my scientific and fact-based calculations (ha!), it’s about 1,000 times healthier. I was counting down the minutes to lunch all day yesterday in anticipation of eating the leftover yumminess.

Third, you probably have most – if not all – of the ingredients on hand, so it’s a great last minute I-don’t-know-what-to-do-for-dinner option. This goes great with a salad, some chips and salsa or just served on its own.

Without further ado, here is the recipe!

Mexican Lasagna
adapted from a recipe on Sugar & Spice by Celeste
Makes 6-8 servings

  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 4-ounce can green chiles
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 14-ounce cans diced tomatoes, “chili ready” are preferred, but not required
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 2 15-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15-ounce can of corn (regular or cream-style)
  • 2 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
  • soft flour tortillas (I used 6-inch ones, and I used 9 of them in this recipe)
  • guacamole, salsa, hot sauce, other toppings – optional

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Saute the onions in the oil in a large skillet for 3 minutes. Add can of green chiles and cook for another 2-3 minutes, until onions are soft.

2. Add cans of diced tomatoes. Add water to one can (about 1/4 of the can) and add that to the skillet as well. Add ketchup and salt. Bring to a simmer and let cook for about 10 minutes.

3. While the sauce is cooking, combine the drained beans and corn in a bowl. Add 2 cups of the shredded cheese, reserving 1/2 cups of the cheese. Combine.

4. In a large oven-safe casserole dish (I used an oval shape one, but any shape would work), put a layer of the red sauce on the bottom, then top with three of the tortillas. Depending on the size of the tortillas you have and the shape of the casserole dish, you may have to tear the tortillas into pieces to get good coverage. It doesn’t have to be perfect – but you should try to cover most of the sauce.

5. Next, add a layer of the bean and corn mixture. You don’t want it to be too thick, but it should definitely cover all the tortillas.

6. Repeat this process two more times: red sauce, tortillas, bean and corn mixture. Top the lasagna with any remaining red sauce and the reserved 1/2 cup of shredded cheese.

7. Cook uncovered for 30 minutes at 400 degrees. I think it’s helpful to place a cookie sheet in the oven on the rack beneath the casserole dish to catch any spills, but it’s not necessary if you don’t have one.

8. Let rest for 15 minutes before serving. Top with guacamole, salsa, hot sauce and/or other toppings, if desired.

Decorating with Burlap

I love burlap. There is just something so rustic and chic about it, and fall is the perfect time to use it in your decor. I can’t think of another material that screams fall more than burlap.

Below are my favorite ways to decorate for fall using burlap. Hopefully you get to the Akron area craft stores before I do – or you’ll find some empty shelves were all the burlap should be. Oops. 🙂

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Another burlap pillow I love! Source

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Check out her other fall candle ideas – so cute! Source

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I have this table runner. And let me tell you – GORGEOUS. Source

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With love,

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Advent Calendar – 2013

Christmas time is officially here! I couldn’t be more excited for my favorite holiday and all the wonderful activities that go with it. Last year, I posted our Advent calendar, and while it was a lot of fun, I changed it up a little this year. This is mostly due to my more realistic idea of our “free time” during the holiday season, but it’s also because some of the activities (ice skating, winter beer tasting, etc.) cannot be done while I’m pregnant and on moderate bed rest. No worries – there are still plenty of fun Christmas activities to do while taking it easy!

The actual calendar I created turned out so well! At least in my humble opinion. Every day for the first 25 days of December, we will open a bag from the Advent calendar. The bags are hung on tension rods I wrapped in glittery red and gold ribbon, and each bag contains instructions for the day, as well as a little gift / trinket / other goodie to help with the activity. For example, for our Starbucks date night, the bag contains a $5 gift card; for our Christmas Vacation “drinking game”, the bag contains the recipe for a yummy Christmas cocktail (virgin of course!); and for our family picture in front of the Christmas tree, the bag contains an ornament that we’ll hang on the tree.

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It was quick and easy to make, and the total cost was under $10. The bags are just paper bags from a craft store, stamped in gold with a round design and in dark red with different numbers. Easy peasey!

Of course, the $10 cost doesn’t include the cost of the daily “goodies”, but I didn’t spend more than $25 on those. Use what you have – the more random the object, the funnier it will be.

Ok, enough talking about it. Here is our Advent Calendar for 2013:

Dec. 1 – Watch The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” in our Christmas PJ’s, while sipping hot chocolate

Dec. 2 – Take a family picture in front of the Christmas tree

Dec. 3 – Shop for our giving tree family

Dec. 4 – Pick out an ornament that describes our lives right now

Dec. 5 – Design and order Christmas cards

Dec. 6 – Order take out and play Wii Winter Olympics

Dec. 7 – Cookie exchange with girlfriends (Whitney only)

Dec. 8 – Drive around and look at Christmas lights in our area

Dec. 9 – Make lattes (decaf for me!) and watch a Friends holiday episode (“I’m the Holiday Armadillo!”)

Dec. 10 – Send a Christmas card to a soldier overseas (here is the information if you’re interested)

Dec. 11 – Play Christmas Vacation drinking game – with “mocktails”

Dec. 12 – Address and mail Christmas cards

Dec. 13 – Girls night with my Heidelberg girls 🙂

Dec. 14 – Double date for Trans Siberian Orchestra

Dec. 15 – Brunch with my godmother and goddaughter

Dec. 16 – Each pick out our favorite Christmas book for our son to enjoy someday

Dec. 17 – Warm up with our favorite Starbucks drink: salted caramel hot chocolate

Dec. 18 – Movie night out! A holiday movie is recommended, but not required

Dec. 19 – Happy hour with work friends

Dec. 20 – Wrapping party! Get all remaining gifts wrapped and under the tree

Dec. 21 – Annual Love Actually screening / Girls night with Katie and D

Dec. 22 – “Snowman pizza” night

Dec. 23 – Relax with the dogs. That’s it.

Dec. 24 – Make paw print ornaments for each dog before heading to my parents’ house

Dec. 25 – Before Ryan leaves for work, eat breakfast together on Christmas Day and open our presnt to each other.

Hope you all enjoy every second of the holiday season!

Happy Black Friday!

The day after Thanksgiving can only mean one thing: It’s Black Friday!

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I’ve taken part of Black Friday shopping once in my life, and the experience was enough to last me a lifetime. Black Friday combines some of the things I try my best to avoid: waiting in lines, crowded places and crazy bargain shoppers who are not afraid to throw elbows. Therefore, I will be spending my Black Friday far, far away from any mall.

Just because Black Friday shopping isn’t my thing doesn’t mean that I don’t have plenty of loved ones out there braving the crowds to get great deals on gifts. To all of you – have fun and be safe!! And watch for those flying elbows.

Red, White and Blue-tiful

If you’ve spent any amount of time on Pinterest, chances are you have seen those lovely fashion boards created on the website Polyvore. I have no idea what took me so long to try out the website – but I finally did. My inspiration was the approaching Independence Day holiday and the desire to wear something festive without a) going overly star-spangled-banner-y and b) not buying anything new.

I started by “shopping” my closest for red and blue pieces. If you haven’t tried “shopping” your closet, you should definitely give it a go! The concept is to go through your clothes, shoes and accessories and try as hard as you can to put new outfits together. For me, this can be tough, since I get into such a routine when it comes to clothes. As silly as it sounds, I have actually asked my husband to help me put together outfits. His “fresh” eyes see combinations I never would have. So, while I certainly do not have the exact items of clothing on Polyvore (I mean, who can afford that?!), I do have items like them.

So, by being a little creative, I put together several outfits on Polyvore that I think are the right combination of chic and Americana, or what I am calling Red, White and Blue-tiful. Check them out below, or on my Pinterest board! And don’t forget about your nails – try this polka-dot trick with any combination of red, white and blue!

I hope everyone has a safe and happy Independence Day weekend! And THANK YOU to all those who have served or who are currently serving to protect our beloved freedom!!

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What I plan to wear for the Rib, White and Blue festival in Akron this weekend.

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For the Indians game this weekend. Topped off with a Tribe hat and it’s perfect!

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I won’t be wearing this outfit anywhere near food. redwhiteblue3

And finally – what I wore to work today 🙂 It transitioned perfectly to wine-night with a friend.

P.S. Polyvore is amazing! I’m already addicted. It really reminds me of Cher’s computer program she used to put together outfits from her closest in the movie Clueless. Does anyone else remember that?! It was the coolest thing ever! My inner 11-year-old’s dream has finally come true!