Follow Me on Pinterest!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Snowed in with my tv, crock pot, and bottle of vodka

The kids are off school again because of the weather.  Around these parts, that means that we got an inch or two of snow.  Since they have basically no equipment to deal with snow removal, sanding, etc the standing strategy is to wait it out (i.e. wait for it to melt).  Sigh.  Even a small snow storm can cause the kids to be out of school for a week - sounds fun until they have to extend the school year into June.  Grrr.

Ok... the good news is that the olympics start tomorrow and all the preview hype is already available On Demand (yay!).  More good news?  I had some goodies prepped in my freezer, so dinner is already in the crock pot and it's only 9am.  So...  if I fold a little laundry and watch a bit of tv I'll be sure to have earned a cocktail by noon?  Right?

Have you ever finished an entire bunch of celery before it gets rubbery?  Neither have I.  So here's a little piece of genius that made my morning productivity possible.  Once it gets questionable, dice it up, bag it, and put it in the freezer for soups, stews, etc!  DUH!!!  My former neighbor Tracey Y. gave me this little piece of genius-ness.  You can do it with any veggie that you would cook later.  I now have a basket in my freezer full of diced up onions, carrots, tomatoes, and celery.

When you are ready to use them - they go straight into the pot!

All I had to do this morning was open baggies and dump them into the crock pot this morning - whew!  Oh yeah, and put the lid on.  I'm such a hard worker.

Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Pumpkin Bread... and the betrayal of a family secret

I'm letting you in on a family secret.  One passed down to me by my mother.  She probably heard it from her mother.  It involves butter.  'Cause that's how I roll.

Drum roll please...

Whenever I make quick bread (banana, pumpkin, whatever) I top it with melted butter, cinnamon and sugar.  The secret is you actually pull your bread out of the oven 5 minutes before it's done.  Baste the top with melted butter and sprinkle LIBERALLY (go nuts, we're building a crust here, people!) with cinnamon and sugar.  Put it back in the oven to finish.  When you pull it back out, the top of your bread will have the most delicious, decadent, yummy, wonderful, sugary crust on the top.  I have yet to meet anyone that isn't a fan.  Try it - even skinny people can't help but love it.

Today I made pumpkin bread... in January.  I know that's weird.  But its tasty, so who cares?

Apparently, I bought a can of pumpkin each time I went to the store in November and December.  I'm trying to work through the backlog in my pantry.  The extra large cans will make two loaves, which works great for me.  I love to make double recipes - I'm a big fan of the freezer!  And what the heck... if you are going to get busy, why not get a lot of bang for the buck, right???  I used the recipe in the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook.  Did you get this as a wedding gift?  I did.  I think its mandatory.

Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

I need cookies...

I know I should bake some cookies for Matthew (my youngest), but right now I want my favorite --->  Spiced Chocolate Chip Oatmeal.  I'll share the recipe at the bottom of this post.  Matthew is a purest when it comes to cookies; he likes chocolate chip and chocolate chip only.  Maybe I'll make him some later.  Maybe.  Right now, it's all about me.  Sorry dude.

First, Lola just rang her bell *again*.  We trained her to ring a bell when she wants out.  She's so small she can sit by the door all day long and the average busy person won't notice her (poor puppers).  So she rings her bell!  I'm pretty sure she rings it as a means to an end.  She gets a treat for going out to do her business and she knows it.  So... she goes out to *survey the back 40* at least a few times every morning.  The end result is she never messes in the house.  So, do I care that she gets a few too many treats?  NOPE.  Pig out, dear fuzzball.

She thinks she's a fierce lioness guarding the pride land.  Big dog trapped in a little body.

Alright, cookie time.  I got these great canisters at Target.  They were only $20 and they hold a ton.  Don't you hate refilling the canister every time you bake?  Problem solved.  These hold 10 lb. bags and then some.  Go forth and get some.  The chalkboard labels are from Hobby Lobby.

Here's my super-secret mixer hiding place!  I didn't want to dedicate one of the bottom cabinets to a mixer lift because I did all the lowers as drawers (yay!).  The kitchen already had one of those slim pantry cabinets.  You know the ones... the kind where you lose stuff in the back?  It's one of the few cabinets we didn't tear out.  Instead, my dear hubby replaced the shelves with full extension drawers, stand up storage for cookie sheets, and added an electrical outlet for the mixer.  I use the mixer right where it is - no lifting.

My husband spaced the drawers to my specifications.  One drawer just for spices (at the perfect height for those huge bottles that you find at Sam's Club).  Two drawers at the perfect height for canned goods.  A drawer at the bottom for extra baking stuff (flour, sugar, nuts, etc).  I really love how useful this storage space has become!

Let's get this cookie dough going!!!  Cream together butter, sugar, and brown sugar.  Then add the eggs one at a time...

Now add the dry ingredients and then the most important part - the chocolate chips!  I don't have time for silly things like raisins in my cookies.  

Ok time to bake, but first... Lola just rang her bell again.  Fuzzy little twerp that she is.

I like to line my cookie sheets with Reusable Parchment from Williams Sonoma.  It's basically a thinner version of a Silpat.  I used Silpats for years, but this product is great because it can be cut down for a perfect fit.  It's washable, reusable and so far seems to function just like a Silpat.  I love it.

Sorry for the blurry!  I hearby promise to work on my one-handed photo taking skills!

Cookies for lunch?  Heck yeah.

Here's the recipe, Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Let's start out front, shall we?

Let's start the posting at Mossy Oaks Place with the low-down on how we got here.  My husband and I moved to this area (Northwest Arkansas) 5 years ago due to a job transfer.  We came down on your typical corporate relo, whirlwind house-hunting trip and bought a house.  We didn't know the area, didn't know the builder, didn't know the neighborhood, blah, blah, blah.  But that's how it goes.  The more time you take, the more time you spend living apart and we're not big on that.  We when we have to relo; we make it happen fast.  So...  after four years of living in *that* house, we did know the area, neighborhoods, etc.  We also decided that we like it here and we'd like to stay (cross your fingers, toes, and any other parts your flexible enough to cross, please).  We sold the other house and started the craziest house-hunt in human history.  After falling in love with houses that had structural issues, contaminated well-water, and incomplete titles we were living in a rental, had no new house on the horizon, and had no idea where to turn.  

We ended up deciding to build.  We interviewed builders, chose a plan (from Southern Living - I still long for that house) and shopped around for a lot.  For some reason, we just couldn't seem to pull the trigger.  There always seemed to be more delays.  That's not good - it gives me more time to keep looking (i.e. shop).  That's how I found this house.  It's in the same neighborhood where we had a lot on hold.  It's only two blocks away and actually has a better/bigger lot.  BUT...  this house is 10 years old and had been on the market TWICE.  Each time for months and months without a contract.  Hmm...  You have to ask yourself, what's wrong with it?  Well, lots of things to be honest.  It smelled of dog pee - EW!!!  It was really dark (most of the rooms were painted chocolate brown or mustard yellow).  And the design choices didn't get much better from there.  Cabinet knobs in the kitchen were mis-matched.  Clamshell sinks in the bathrooms!  You get my drift.  The place was a bit weird in both look and odor.  

But the *bones* were good!

I really like the layout of the house - it's a bit different without being wack-a-doo.  The floor plan has some of the separateness of old-school design, but it still has a great room and good flow.  It also has a movie room for the boys and a hearth room for me.  Man Cave?  Check.  Mom Cave?  Check.  Actually, it has two Mom Caves... but you didn't hear that from me.  Somehow the guys still haven't caught on.  I'll tell you about it in future posts.  Just don't rat me out.  Needless to say... I dig it.  Big time.  

With a little vision and some work we thought we could turn this place around.  So we bought it.  We went into this with a "Property Brothers" mentality.  Since it had been on the market so long, we felt that it was a good deal and that meant we could spend some money making it our own without pricing it out of the neighborhood.  We closed in April 2013.  We thought we could finish before school started in the fall.  It's now 2014 and we ARE NOT FINISHED.  ha ha ha.  Yeah it's real hilarious - at least for those of you on the outside looking in!  I'm kidding - I think naiveté is funny, too.

So, that's enough history for now...

Let's get to some *before and after*, shall we?  One of the simplest projects that we did was the exterior of the house.  I loved the porch on this house.  I think it feels farmhouse-y and southern at the same time - a good thing in my book.  I liked the shutters, too.  But... both of these things seemed to disappear on the facade.  Paint is all that it took to make them shine.  That, and a bit of hardware.  



We painted the porch posts the same color as the trim on the windows - I think it really brightens up the front of the house.  We painted the cedar shutters steely gray blue.  The color is something that I mixed up from various paint samples that I had in the garage.  Once I had a color that I liked, I tested it by painting out one shutter and stepping back to have a look.  Then I painted a swatch onto a paper plate, took it in for a color match, and had a whole gallon mixed up.  After I finished the painting we got out the screw gun and put on the strap hinges.  Yay!  

We'll tackle the landscaping this spring.  I'm also thinking about taking down the porch light and garage lighting fixtures and spraying them black. Right now they match the hardware on the front door.  I also need to finalize the furniture selections.  I built a daybed (and it's awesome), but I'm not sure it's working as a front porch piece.  There is a ton of space out there - two rockers may feel a little lost.  I'll do another post and we'll work it out...  when the weather turns.  At the moment, I'm hibernating.  Feel free to leave a comment if you want to weigh in!

Next post coming...  kids bedrooms!

Thanks for stopping by.