Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Target Treasures Tuesday

Yesterday my Mom, sister and I did a little Target Treasure Hunt.

I'll be honest, we mostly ended up with food.

All of their holiday items were marked down 50% and that included food. Yeah.

But I thought I'd share a few recent Target finds as well as some of my new Hobby Lobby goodies.

I just got these adorable velvet and brass Nate Berkus frames from Target on clearance for $7.49 for the pair! Paired with my flamingo print I scored at Hobby Lobby while it was 60 (yes 60) percent off, and my $5.00 orchid steal from Home Depot, I am feeling very Palm Beach.

Some close-ups. I just love them! I was really torn between putting the green one in the living room or in my bedroom, but I guess that just means this little frame has flexibility! I love buying things that can go in multiple rooms. When I get in a re-decorating move, I can transition those pieces easily and shop what I already own.

Yep, that's another VITTSJO hack. But it's such a good hack! Look how pretty and shiny that is!

I got the pink storage box with the metal corners for a few bucks from Hobby Lobby, as well as the gold foil art print. 8 bucks!

The painting is by yours truly, you can purchase a print at my shop, here.
The books are from Shutterfly.

My beautiful ampersand mirror is another Hobby Lobby treasure. Only 20 bucks for that baby! And yes, that is a half-empty bottle of wine back there. No judging. It's still half full.

So this really ended up being mostly Hobbly Lobby treasures, but like I said.. most of my hard earned Target money was spent on all that clearance food! And I'd take photos of all my deals but I totally ate it all.

What have you found that you are loving lately?

Monday, December 22, 2014

Chicken and Homemade Noodles

This is one of the most popular recipes in our household. It's delicious, simple, and I love that it is very cost-effective. My Mom compares it to meals served at Cracker Barrel.

You will need:
2 large chicken breasts
2 cans of cream of chicken soup
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
1 large egg
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp onion powder
Garlic salt
1 cup of flour

First let's start with the noodles.

You can certainly buy store bought fettuccine if that is easier for you, but I like to make mine from scratch. It's much healthier, it's cost-effective and it's super easy!

You do not need a food processor for this, you can use a KitchenAid, a bowl and spoon, or (in true Italian fashion) your bare hands! But for ease and speed of cleanup, I am using the food processor.

Crack open that egg into the food processor and add a cup of flour. Start processing! While it's going, I add a splash of EVOO.

 Once it's combined (usually only takes a few seconds) it will look like little crumbles but still be tacky. Here is where I fail because I can't find a picture of this... sigh. But really, it only takes a few moments to get there.

Scoop it out with your hands and mash it into a ball.

You now have some simple pasta dough! 

Flour your work surface and a rolling pin and let's roll this baby out!

Just get it fairly smooth and try to keep it rectangular in shape, not round like a pie crust.

Enter the Norpro Pasta Machine!

I know, right? Shiiiiny...

You can get one here.

I paid around $35.00 for mine, but right now it's under $30.00. So snatch one up!

Put the crank in the main body of the machine and turn the dial to the thinnest setting, no. 1.

 Slip the end of your dough into the machine and get cranking!

Once you've gotten it through, fold it in half and run it through again. If your dough is too tacky, rub a little more flour on it.

Fold and run it through 2-3 times.

If it starts to get too wide, go ahead and cut it down the middle.

At some point in here, I get my pot of water going up to a boil. Salt the water generously!

The outside of my pot looks a mess. Let's pretend it's a beautiful, shiny pot, shall we?

After you've smooshed your dough out 2-3 times, we are going to turn our knobbie to the next smallest setting, no. 2.

That's a 2, I promise.

Go ahead and run it through once, and turn the knob again. This time to number 3. Run it through once.

I don't like to go too thin with this recipe. I prefer a nice thick and hearty noodle. So let's stop at setting no. 3.

Now move your crank into the fettuccine cutter.

Slip the end of the dough into the fettuccine cutter and start cranking!

Once I've gotten them all cut, I slice them into smaller pieces with a kitchen knife. Usually they want to stick together at this point, so to avoid tearing your noodles, sprinkle them generously with flour and shake it through. Go ahead and drop them in your boiling pot of water.

Fresh pasta only needs to boil for a minute and a half! Super fast, right? So don't walk away, you'll come back to mushy noodles.

Now for the good stuff. In a mixing bowl (or right in your Pyrex baking dish if you are like me and hate wasting clean dishes), mix up your 3 cans of soup. Plop your chicken breasts in there and turn them around to get them good and coated in the soup.

Sprinkle on the onion powder.

And give it a good sprinkling of garlic salt.

Toss in your noodles and make sure they are well coated in the soup.

Cover with tin foil and bake at 400 degrees for an hour and a half. Once it comes out, I cut the chicken down into chunks right in the dish.

Serve up with some Grand's Flaky Layers (my favorite biscuit EVER) and enjoy!!!

Amazon products mentioned in this post:

Linked up at: CornerstoneCofessions

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Mismanaged Mom's guide to catching up on laundry! When you're way behind!

Ahh, laundry.. my old nemesis. My mother loves to tell me how "it only takes five minutes to go downstairs and throw in a load of laundry!" Yeah, yeah, but it takes so much longer  to fold said laundry, and then to put it all away. Especially with a mischievous little year-and-a-half old who loves to "help."

And so I bring to you...

Now the first thing to understand about my process (besides that it is completely mismanaged) is that it might take a day or two. But I promise it is so much easier than folding load after load of laundry and running all over the house putting it away, only to go back for more loads (because you're way behind).

The first thing I do is to gather every laundry basket, hamper, wicker basket (whatever!) that I own. Get those next to your washer.dryer to get them all ready. This is a good time to make a huge mountain of clothes next to the washing machine. Just make sure you have all of your washables and baskets near your machine.

Now start washing!!!

The secret to my stress-free process is to keep washing/drying my loads of laundry, filling up my baskets and hampers with the clean clothes, and then NOT FOLDING THEM until I am completely done. Like I said, it may take all day to get all of the washing and drying done, but really this is the easy part because the machine does all the work!! Now let's get on with it.

When your folding area looks like this...

And this... (I have a total of six baskets/hampers full)

Then we can start folding it all all at once.

When my Mom taught me to do laundry, she always stacked the folded clothes by person. This works, but because my least favorite part is the putting away, it always bugged me to have to disassemble the pile once I got to my room to sort out the pajamas, pants, shirts, etc.

So while it might take up way more room on the dining table (or wherever you fold), I try to sort not just by person, but by the drawers they go in:

Here you see my piles starting to add up. Yes, there is underwear in this photo. Get over it.

By the time you're really getting under way you're space will look like this:

Phew! We're getting there!!

Now you can start sorting them out into those baskets!

I grab one basket for each person and start stacking my piles in there, making sure I keep those items orderly to make the putting-away process smooth.

My husband's basket:

His piles are separated by the way his dresser is organized. A drawer for workout clothing, underwear, muscle shirts, etc...

If your kids are old enough, you can get them to put their own baskets away! For me, with two toddlers, I am responsible for three out of the four baskets. But now all I have to do is take each basket to the child's room and I am already organized by drawer. Pop, pop, pop! Into the drawers my pre-arranged piles go!

I also set aside baskets for things like bathroom items (towels, washcloths, etc..) that I can carry around to each bathroom, and another basket for things that need to be hung.

Ahh, empty baskets!!

This process has worked really well for me when I get behind because once the washing/drying is done, I can wait until my youngest is sleeping, or until Daddy is home to tend to her, to power-fold.

What has worked well for you??

Linked up at: CornerstoneConfessions
A Bowl Full of Lemons

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

French Macarons

Mmmm.. the sinfully sweet French Macaron! Perfect for tea parties and sweet tooths! Often recognized as the hardest cookie to make. To that I say, pah! We can do it!!
I love making these for special occassions. They are a workout to make, especially if you are poor like me and have no KitchenAid stand mixer {sob}, but after much study and trial and error, I have come up with a fairly fool-proof plan to make these adorable little treats!
You will need:
3 egg whites, room temperature
1/4 cup of white sugar
2 cups of confectioner's sugar
1 cup of almond flour
A pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Food coloring of choice
Now, I am not an excellent food-blogger yet so I have no step-by-step photos. I know... this seems pointless. But trust me. You can do it!! And when I make these again for my sister's graduation next month, I will remember to take those darned in-between photos!

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. If you did not set your eggs out ahead of time, you can place them in a bowl of warm water for 5 to 10 minutes to bring them up to room temperature. Once that's done, seperate the three egg whites into a mixing bowl and beat until foamy.
Next add salt, cream of tartat and white sugar. Beat 10 to 15 minutes until shiny and stiff peak forms.
To check for a "stiff peak" you simply run your beater around the batter a few times and lift straight up. Flip it upside down so the batter is pointing at the ceiling. If the point of your batter flops over, it's not stiff!
Once you've achieved a stiff peak, add in food coloring. My tip you be to add more than you think you need because the color will dull upon baking.
In a seperate bowl, sift almond flour and and confectioner's sugar. Discard the lumps. If you do not have a sifter, run your almond flour and confectioner's sugar through a food processor thouroughly.
Fold the flour/sugar mixture into the egg white batter. For me, it's usually about 80 turns.
Hello, biceps!
Transfer your batter to a a pastry bag and pipe out one inch rounds onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Pro-tip: Amazon sells some amazing little products that can help you with the sizing of your rounds. Or if you're like me, you can wing it and match up the sizes later.
Now you need to pick up your baking sheet and slam it down on the counter a few times. This will release any air bubbles inside the batter.
Now... LEAVE IT ALONE!! yep, you heard me. DON'T TOUCH IT. Let it sit for 20 minutes or so before putting it into the oven. The edges need to stiffen before baking.
Once the sides are nice and stiff to the touch, pop them in for 20 minutes, but keep an eye on them for the last five minutes or so. You don't want them turning brown.
They will be very delicate so be careful! Sandwhich them with whatever filling you like! I prefer just a simple buttercream.

Want a macaron?


Home Tour Sneak-Peek: The Dining Room

The dining room. One of my favorite rooms in the house. China cabinets, crown molding, casement windows.... and let's not forget the swing door to the kitchen, Be still my heart. When we were looking for a house, one of my must-haves was definitely a formal dining room. I know that open-concept is the popular way to go these days, but with this house we got the best of both worlds as the kitchen is completely seperate (another one of my must-haves because I hate people staring me down while I cook) but the dining area overlooks the living room.

These photos are from the listing, definitely not my furniture. ;)

I know what you're thinking... "Please tell me she kept that carpet!" Right??

Walls are Deep Sea Dive by Scherwin Williams.


The interior cabinet color is original.

The china is from my grandmother, English Countryside by Wedgewood.

Can you tell this photo is old? We can pretend it's Peony season, can't we?

Home Tour Sneak-Peek: The Entryway

So while I do intend to establish a proper home-tour page, we have only recently purchased this house (March 2014) and I am, after all, miss-managed. But the next few posts will offer a sneak-peek of a few far-from-completed corners of my home!

The entryway:
(Sorry, I stink at taking before photos. Imagine a sea of mustard carpet.)
We ripped up the hideous dated carpet, painted the trim and walls, polished up the original hardware.
I am still debating on the paint color. While it is one of my favorite paint colors ever (Colonial Cobblestone by Dutch Boy), unless it's a gloriously sunny day, it can get a little dark in the hall. One problem in our home is the lack of overhead lighting, which is normal for the age of the house, but a constant pain in my behind.

See how pretty this color is in the sunshine? Sigh...
This table was a $5.00 garage sale steal. I am still trying to decide if it needs a makeover. The obviously laminate finish is chipped in places and the hardware is outdated but I kind of like that it matches the wood floors.
The rugs are by Mohawk and the dried rose wreath is a DIY by yours truly.
Future plans are to finish painting the spindles on the staircase (they are an off-white and I will paint them the bright white that matches the trim) and updating the pendant. I'm eyeballing some beauties from Ballard Designs.
Onto the next room!