Burlap Wreath

Happy Tuesday! How was everyone’s weekend and start to the week? We had BEAUTIFUL weather in Northeast Ohio this weekend (66 degrees and sunny!), but the cold has returned. Sigh. At least the sun has stuck around.

I’m definitely feeling like I have a case of the Mondays…a day late.  L is not sleeping the greatest after around 1:00 pm. He sleeps great for this morning naps, but he can’t seem to settle down for an afternoon one. And don’t even get me started on 4:00 am. I know L will get in the swing of things (he turns three months old this weekend), but until then, we are going to be downing a lot of coffee in this house. I’m trying not to freak out, since I don’t go back to work until the beginning of May, but we have been so spoiled with J, our little champion sleeper.

49752-Morning-Coffee Continue reading

Non-toy Gift Ideas for Toddlers

J’s second (SECOND!!) birthday is this week, and because I have such wonderful and generous family and friends, they’ve been asking what the little guy would like for his birthday. Like a lot of kids his age, J has more toys than he could ever play with, so we’ll be asking for some non-toy gifts for him this year. I’ve put together a list of gift ideas that are perfect for toddlers (and their parents) that go beyond the world of toys!

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Mississippi Roast

Growing up, I loved and looked forward to the days my mom would make roast for dinner. The whole house would fill with the delicious smell of the tender beef soaked in gravy…just the thought is making me hungry! Roast beef piled on top of mashed potatoes – talk about a perfect comfort food.

If you do any sort of recipe searching on the internet, you probably have stumbled across the Mississippi Roast. It’s taken the world wide web by storm, and even been called the “Internet darling of a recipe” by the New York TimesContinue reading

Oh, hello!

Well…it’s been exactly 10 months since I last posted on here. I’m sad and disappointed with myself that I let such a long time go by, so readers (if there are any of you still out there), here’s a quick catch-up of the last 10 months:

  1. About a week after I posted my last entry, we found out we were adding another baby to our family! Our second son (L) was born the Saturday after Thanksgiving. L is healthy and a welcome addition to our clan. J loves being a big brother…most of the time. 🙂
  2. J has been delighting us left and right during his second year. I always heard how jam-packed a baby’s first year is with milestones, but WOW – the second year doesn’t disappoint either. Walking, running, talking, dancing, problem-solving, singing…every day is so fun! Of course, it’s far from sunshine and rainbows all the time (hellloooooo, temper tantrums!), but just watching him grow and learn has brought so much joy and wonder to our lives. J turns two this month.
  3. My handsome firefighter husband started a part-time job on top of his full-time gig, which has made scheduling sort of crazy around here, but he loves it…and I love that he is so happy with his chosen line of work. Speaking of work, this fall I was promoted. Along with a fancy new title came a fancy new office. I tell ya, a door is a GAME CHANGER for long conference calls. Speaker phone has become by best friend.
  4. I signed up for my first 5K since having L. Actually, it’s my first race in over a year, so it’s going to be slow going. A friend of mine from high school signed up with me, which gives me motivation to get out there and train!

That’s just a small sampling of what happened since I last posted. Of course, there are tons of other newsworthy events that occurred (My sister had twin boys! My best friend got married!), but this would be a very loooong post if I went into all that. So for now, I’ll just say this: I’m so happy to be back. Writing for this blog has been so fun for me, but also therapeutic. By nature, I’m very number-driven and task-oriented, however, I do have a creative side that doesn’t get to shine very often. So, since I’m on maternity leave for at least two more months, I thought this would be the perfect time to get my creative mojo on. This is a work in progress, but I’m thinking of setting weekly goals that will challenge me in various ways:

  1. My culinary side – Raise your hand if you have about 2 million recipes saved on Pinterest that you haven’t tried. Both of my hands are up, which is shame because I have pinned some delicious looking recipes. Therefore, every week, I want to put my Pinterest boards (here and here) to work and try a new recipe. Up this week – a Mississippi Roast. (Am I the only one who has to sing that little song in order to spell Mississippi? Every.time.)mississippi-roast-tablefortwoblog-3Source
  2. My craft / DIY side – My mother and sister amaze me at how crafty they are. I wish I possessed the creativity gene they share, and I’m in a constant state of awe at their ability to sit down to work on a project instead of, say, starting another Netflix marathon (which is especially impressive now I’ve told them about Making a Murderer. Guys, seriously – YOU HAVE TO WATCH IT). My home is devoid of so many DIY wonders, and it makes me sad. So again – my Pinterest board is finally going to get some love and attention. This week I plan on attempting a wreath. I haven’t decided if it will be Valentine’s Day wreath or a spring one…but either way, I’ll be sure to post pictures, no matter how awful it turns out. I’m also including organizational projects in this category, since they are technically DIY. And a lot of times just as pretty as craft projects.
  3. My literary side – I just love reading so much. That’s really all I have to say about that. My goal on Goodreads is to read 36 books this year. I’m on my sixth book, A God in Ruins. It’s the sequel to Life After Life (which I loved). I figure if I get a good start on my goal while on maternity leave, I can reach 36 by the end of 2016. Any good recommendations?

Thanks for sticking with me…if anyone did. And if my audience has dwindled to zero, that’s ok. I started this blog four years ago (!!!) for fun, and that hasn’t changed. Here’s to a productive and creative 2016!

Love,

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{Love the Home You Have} Book Launch

Hello, friends! Today I want to share with you the launch of a new book by one of my favorite bloggers (Melissa from The Inspired Room) titled Love the Home You Have:

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If you own or rent a house (or actually, any kind of dwelling) and you’ve never visited The Inspired Room blog, you must check it out immediately! Melissa is such an inspiration, and every post motivates me to make my house better. Her ideas are fresh,  modern and, most importantly, realistic.

I don’t know about you, but Pinterest has all but ruined my house for me. No matter how excited I am about a new piece of furniture or using throw pillows in a (genius!) new spot, one foray on Pinterest makes me gag at the sight of everything in my house. Ha, ok, that’s a little dramatic, but the Pin-timidation is real. This is a frustrating and exhausting cycle, and, as I’m sure my husband would agree, it needs to stop. I’m super pumped to read Melissa’s book because it’s high time that I love the home I have, not some unattainable Pinterest-worthy home. Besides, with our little toddler-nado on the move, things are never going to be “perfect” anyway. Well, maybe when he moves out and goes to college. But that is never happening because he’s always going to stay home with me foreverandeverandever! Right?!

Aaaaaanyway, to celebrate the launch of her new book, Melissa is hosting a 31 day Love Your Home Challenge. Thirty-three other bloggers – and many readers! – will be joining in as well.

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The book has all the daily challenges Melissa suggests, but ANY project that makes you feel great about your home will work for the challenge.

I can’t wait to read this book (my copy is in the mail!) and share my thoughts with you all. I’ll definitely be taking notes for spring and summer projects around our home. Let the home inspiration begin!

Love,

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Bloglovin

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

For all my fellow readers and lovers of blogs, have you tried Bloglovin yet? If not, here’s the scoop:

When you sign up for Bloglovin and follow all your favorite blogs, the site delivers a summary of posts from these blogs everyday – right to your email. It’s all the blogs you love in one place! I’ve been on Bloglovin for about a year, and it’s been such a time saver for me. Plus – the site suggests other blogs based on your preferences, so I’ve found some great new blogs to follow.

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I feel like I’ve said “blog” way too much in this post – so I’ll stop here. Ok, one more: blog! I couldn’t help myself 🙂

Love,

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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.