Wednesday, April 30, 2014

From Drab to Fab

One thing that I really like about our home is that the walls are really big.  The large walls give the house an openness that we really enjoy.  I have come to learn that big walls need big decorations!  We have this the large wall up the stairs that is the first thing you see when you walk into our home.
We knew we wanted something bright that made a statement.  I have always like the look of the photo walls and so one afternoon, Benjamin and I tackled the hanging of photos on our stairway.  We started off without our 15ft ladder and then realized that for the safety reasons, we were going to need it!  
As much as I'd like to tell you that we cut out paper forms, and hung them on the wall and then moved them to fit accordingly like you see some how-to's tell you... We started with our favorite, put it somewhere mid-wall and did the "Yeah! That looks great there, just move it a little to the right" method.  :)
The faux taxidermy head collection started with the T-rex who we have named Tyron.  He was a very green dinosaur color when he arrived.  He looks much more fabulous in gold!  When trying to decide where to put him, my mom mentioned that space between the window and the wall might be a good home and that we should think about getting Tyron some buddies.  That spurred the purchase of the walrus and the shark!  The walrus was all white when he arrived, and we really wanted him to pop.  Benjamin and I both agreed that he would look dapper in a raspberry color.  We are really quite pleased with how the three of them look together!  Winston has enjoyed staring at these each time we come down the stairs.  He already has the dinosaur roar down and we are working on the walrus sound of "coo coo ca choo!" 

As a side note: We purchased the walrus from ModCloth and the first one that arrived was damaged.  I called as soon as I opened it and the customer service representative apologized, provided a free return shipping label so that they could examine the packaging and sent out a new one overnight with special handling in the warehouse!  Thanks, ModCloth; Y'all rock!
This is the view from the top of our stairs.  Every morning when Winston goes down to eat breakfast he has a routine of looking at every picture and saying who is in them.  It really makes the value of this wall increase by 10 fold!  

Choosing photos to be on this wall was challenging because we have so many that we love.  In the end we are quite happy with our selections and are excited that we still have room to grow the wall!
Most of our frames came from Hobby Lobby.  We have a few that are not framed and the one of Winston's birthday is actually printed on metal.  Our framed wedding invitation along with our favorite engagement photos proudly hang on the wall.  We have two favorites from our family photos in Aberdeen along with some Andy Warhol prints.  

Benjamin and I are tickled with the turnout of The Wall as it is a happy reminder of how fantastic life is.  It is a colorful conglomerate of everything that makes us smile!  And how could you not smile with colorful taxidermy welcoming you into our home!  
Taxidermy heads can be found:

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Tasty Tuesday: Round Steak and Rice


This meal is a comfort meal to me.  It was my favorite meal growing up and I remember requesting this along with cracker-crumbed cauliflower for my birthday meals.  It's just so yummy!  And now, it's one of my favorite things to make.  It's two of my favorite adjectives for meals: simple and scrumptious!

First things first, I use the eye of round steak for this meal.  Cube it up and put it in a frying pan to brown the meat.
While the meat is browning, grab the next three things from your pantry: crockpot liner, can of cream of mushroom soup, and a packet of Lipton's dry onion soup.  The beef onion soup also works really well in this recipe.
Have you discovered the magic of Reyonlds SlowCooker liners?  They are amazing and since their creation I have yet to make anything in the crockpot without them.  Thank you, Reynolds!

Once the meat has browned, spoon it into the crockpot.  Then add the cream of mushroom soup and the dry onion soup.
Then fill the cream of mushroom can with water, add that to the crockpot and give it a stir.  Then set either on high (if you are making before work or before you head out for the day) or low (if you are making mid-day or on a Sunday before you head to church).

Serve with rice, your favorite veggies and voila! A great meal!

My Baked Ravioli recipe was featured recipe on Lori's Culinary Creations!  Thanks, Lori!  I have also linked up again for Tasty Tuesday.  Check out some of the other fantastic yummies!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Tasty Tuesday:Baked Ravioli


I have always enjoyed trying new recipes.  A person can get burned out on the same old, same old.  When looking for something new, I came across this recipe and figured it would be a winner.  It contains ravioli and cheese!  My guys love pasta and love cheese, so a win-win right there before we even started!

Get that oven preheating to 400 while you prepare the meal.
Spray the bottom and sides of your cooking dish with cooking spray.  
Spread marinara sauce along the bottom of the pan.  The recipe calls for 3/4 a cup, but I just eye-balled it according to how much we like sauce.  Just make sure the bottom is covered.  
Then add your first row of frozen raviolis onto the sauce. 
Then comes the good part.  The best part.  Cover those happy raviolis in mozzarella cheese!  The recipe calls for 1 cup of shredded cheese, but I loaded that baby up!
See?  No evidence that ravioli's even exist under all of that cheese!
Then you add another layer of ravioli.
Then more sauce {as much or as little as you like}.
Then more....CHEESE!

Cover with aluminum foil and back for 30 minutes.  Then remove foil and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes so that the cheese is bubbly.  Let cool for 5-10 minutes and serve!

I will admit that because I used two (!) bags of mozzarella cheese in this dish, it was supa'cheesy in the best of ways!  Because of the two layers of ravioli it is quite filling leaving lots left over for warm ups.  This would be a perfect dish to take to a pot luck or as a meal to deliver to family or friends!  

Benjamin said that this was a definite repeater and Winston loved it too!

Ingredients
1 bag of frozen ravioli {your favorite type!}
1 jar of marinara sauce {your favorite type!}
Shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat to oven to 400.
Spray bottom and sides of pan with cooking spray.
Spread sauce on the bottom of the pan.  It should at least be enough to cover the bottom.
Then a layer of frozen raviolis.
Then add a layer of shredded mozzarella cheese.  I think I used an entire bag on each layer.  Use as little or as much as you like!
Then a layer of frozen raviolis.
Then a layer of sauce, as much or little as you like.
Then the last layer is cheese!
Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove foil and brown for 10-15 minutes.

You could also add Italian sausage, mixed cheeses, spinach, mushrooms, or garlic to add a different flair each time you make it!  Personalize it and enjoy!!

PS: I'm joining up to A Peek Into My Paradise for #tastytuesday!

UPDATE: This recipe was featured on Lori's Culinary Creations!

Lori's Culinary Creations

Monday, April 21, 2014

First week: A success!

Y'all, last week was my first true week of staying at home full time with Winston.  The first week I was celebrating my Grandma's 80th birthday in Ohio with the ladies of the family, Winston finished out his last week at Primrose and we geared up for the next week.

I can without a doubt say that I love being at home with Winston!   It has been a great week full of play time, of learning new words, of having home cooked meals each night (!!), of lots of hugs and Luli kisses, of a few tears and lots of giggles! 
My breakfast routine has changed quite a bit!  I have gone from catching up with Ellen over coffee and a muffin to eating waffles and fruit with Buddy and Elmo.  Plus Lulu always get a little bite of whatever it is that we're munchin!  I don't always get to finish my cup of coffee, but that's usually because we're off to build block towers.
We stepped out of our comfort zone this week by heading to the zoo for a "Mommy and Me" outing with folks from the church.  There were two gals and their precious littles from the Sunday school class we're visiting who also went.  We ate lunch with them, starting those first steps of forging new relationships.
Although I love nap time and am thankful Winston loves to sleep, I get excited when I hear that my little buddy is awake!  This is one of my favorite times: getting him out of his crib and ready for the next adventure of the day.  

We are both excited to see Benjamin in the evenings when he gets home.  They play while I finish dinner, we eat together, play some more, bubble bath time and then bed!  Benjamin and I get to have time together to catch up on our day and when I lay my head on the pillow I am happy and tired.  I am thankful that we are able for me to stay home with Winston.  He is so fun, so comical!  I know that each week will hold joys and challenges of their own.  I am eager and excited to face them and embrace them as they are days that go by so fast! 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Bunnies!

Much like last year, I wanted to get Winston's pictures taken with live bunnies.  I called up the place that we got them taken last year to learn that the location closest to us was closed for transition.  Knowing how much I wanted pictures with bunnies, Benjamin started a search online and found a lady who was selling bunnies in the neighborhood next to us.  He emailed her to see if we could borrow them for a few minutes and she said yes!  

In our minds, we were thinking that these would be tiny bunnies that we could hold in the palm of our hands.  When we arrived, we discovered that the bunnies were 9 week old were 5 pounds each and called California meat rabbits!  They were very calm and some of the best subjects for our photos! 
 Winston was cracking up and enjoying being close to the bunnies!
One of my favorites!  He was just so adorable!

Easter photos of 2014 were a huge success!  A big thank you to Benjamin for making this wifie's wishes come true!  

Monday, April 14, 2014

Project 52: Week 2014.15

Grammy turned 80 this year and to celebrate the ladies in the family all met up in Newark, Ohio for a long weekend at the Longaberger Homestead.  I made my very own basket, shopped and got to spend really great time with my aunt, cousins, great aunts, mom and grammy!  I intend to do a full post of our trip before the year is out!  :)

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Project 52: Week 2014.14

This week happened to be my Golden Birthday: 31 on the 31st!  As I do every year, I took a day of vacation for my birthday {even though my last day was three days later!} and spent it with the most important people in my life.  I can sum up how I feel about having celebrated by 31st year in one word: Thankful.  
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