Saturday, January 31, 2015

Operation Wasted Space: Phase 2 - Hall Closet

I am super excited to share my latest upgrade of wasted space with you today.  This idea was lifted from Amanda over at Dixie Delights.  If you haven't seen her family room office redo, you need to check it out now here.

Part of my mission for this project was to use furniture that is currently in storage.  I have been holding on to my crib and changing table in the hopes my brother-in-law would give me an in-town niece that I could spoil rotten.  Since his timeline and mine seem to differ, I had the hubs haul it back upstairs and turned this horrendous before storage mess into an extension of my workspace.



I utilized my old changing table and placed family pictures on top, piles that need to be sorted on the middle shelf (there seem to always be piles - but now they have a home) and the bottom is simply extra candles, light bulbs and odds and ends that I intend to give away during the year.

I was also able to reuse old nursery bins for crafts, ribbons & bows, various holiday paperie and other entertaining items.

There is no hall light so I put the old nursery standing lamp to use as well.

I pulled out my old marathon medals from a drawer and actually put them on display.  Granted they are on the side wall and only I know they are there - but I worked hard for those puppies!

An old bar became home to my printer and papers.

There was just enough space to store gift bags and wrapping paper.

I'll share tomorrow how this whole area ties together.  Thanks for stopping by!


Friday, January 30, 2015

Operation Wasted Space: Phase 1 - Hall Storage Closet

I adore the blog 11 Magnolia Lane and they are having an organization challenge.  Check it at . This got me thinking about the bucket list of tasks I've yet to accomplish after I quit my job.  So, I finally decided to tear apart our closets and get organized.

We live in an itty.bitty.teeny.weenie house.  Furthermore, said itty.bitty.teeny.weenie house has minimal storage.  And please don't forget the wee ones and ALL.THEIR.TOYS!!!!!!  So you can just imagaine the thrill I have when the hubby comes home from fly fishing and his gear gets flopped about the porch and laundry room.  Lord knows it is hardly dry long enough to actually get put way, which is really just being shoved in the corner of an upstairs closet.  See for yourself:

We have a lot of wasted space in our house so I decided to go through each nook and cranny and give those areas a purpose.  And my first idea was the upstairs closets.  I don't know much but I know that flies don't belong on the dryer and waders and fishing coats don't go on top of books waiting to be donated to the library......grrrr.

I have a pretty deep storage closet upstairs that is usually crammed full of stuff.  (I should note my hubby has another "S" word for my stuff but whatever).  As I mentioned earlier, he usually crams his fishing gear in the other upstairs hall closet. See below. I knew there was a better way.


The second picture is my deep storage closet.  I decided this would become the fly fishing storage area. As a former Kelly's Kids sales rep, I have three clothes racks currently taking up residency in my garage.  So I grabbed one of those, hung waders, coats, backpacks and other miscellaneous items on them and stored his boots below.  I also moved all of his spinner and salt water rods into this closet with his tackle box.  POOF!  We are both happy. Well, save for his fly rod propped up against his office wall.  It isn't the most stylish organizational project but look at all the space I utilized!!!  woo hoo!


And with that, the upstairs storage closet has a new purpose.  It still holds items I don't use often but now also houses the hubby's fishing gear.  The best part is that the rack in on wheels for easy mobility.  I'm one happy lady!  Stay tuned for the big reveal tomorrow on what I did with the other hall closet.  I'm super excited about that transformation!


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Hubby Turns 40

It was with little pomp and circumstance that the love of my life turned 40.  Between his stomach virus last week and my head cold, it has been a pitiful site around these parts.   My exhaustion led to a full blown headcold that is so bad it has gone into my ears!!!!   WHAT???? WHAT DID YOU SAY???? ARE YOU TALKING TO ME????  Augh - it is maddening.

I am very lucky as I rarely get sick - aside from the occasional R.A. flareup.  But this headcold has moved in and doesn't feel like going away.  Yuck.  Fortunately, the wee ones are healthy as pups so I am praying things stay that way.

I had hoped to plan a big ol' shin dig for my sweetheart to celebrate his big day but he put the kibosh on that idea.  So we will simply slip away for a weekend when it warms up a bit.  That is our standard gift and I'm not gonna lie - a weekend alone with my sweetie and no kids is just as much a gift for me as it is for him!  Stay tuned.......

In the meantime, here is a snipit of how we fussed over him on the actual day.  He rose early in the morning and headed up the mountain for a day of fly fishing.  This is what greeted him upon arriving back home.

For cocktails we enjoyed Parmesan Crips made from Barefoot Contessa Foolproof cookbook.  To be honest, these were not my favorite as I found them way too salty.  I always put less salt in the recipes
than what she calls for but this was still too strong for me.  

Dinner was a perfectly grilled NY Strip with a poached egg topped with shredded parmesan, steamed broccoli, sauteed mushrooms and creamy mashed potatoes.  For the steak, I heated my indoor grill to medium high and cooked 5 minutes on one side and 3 minutes on the other for medium rare.  The mashed potatoes recipe came from Barefoot Contessa Family Style.  This is THE BEST mashed potato recipe - look it up and use it.

I stopped by one of our favorite shops and picked up a huge slice of cheesecake and cabernet to round out all of my hubby's favorite things.  And with that, my love is 40!


Thursday, January 22, 2015

But You Don't Look Sick

Well, I am three weeks into a New Year, New You challenge.  I don't usually entertain New Year's Resolutions because they are always over-the-moon, never going to happen wishes.  This year however, I am undergoing an overhaul.  I didn't even plan on writing about it until a neighbor blogged a very sweet, honest and real post yesterday, which just made me laugh - I mean, I blogged about Thank You notes!!!!  So I figured I would put it in writing as a way to hold me accountable.

This challenge was put into motion last Spring when I quit my job.  I said I wanted to stay home with my children and be more present.  I wanted to be a better wife, mother and friend.  While this is all very true, I also needed to take care of myself.  

The past few years -  more if I am honest - I have felt very depressed and lost.  I suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, which has been a life altering thing to deal with.  As a former cross country and marathon runner, my passion was stripped from me.  This is something I have dealt with for the past 16 years.  16 years!!!!  You would think I would have a handle on it by now.  I understand the pain part of my disease.  Not a day goes by that I don't suffer pain in some sort of fashion.  But the exhaustion and depression is a side of the disease that I have never gotten a handle on.

There are areas of my life that I like to compartmentalize and running used to be the way I dealt with it - I just ran the frustration out.  When one mile didn't suffice, I ran another - and so on and so forth.  Then boom - I woke up one morning at the age of 26 and literally could not stand. And I've yet to come up with another way to combat my demons.

And if I am still being honest - I'm also not the best patient.  Furthermore, being a stay-at-home mommy who now has the time to volunteer in several community activities has only exacerbated the issue.  Being a stay-at-home mommy is exhausting - give me my job back!  I remember thinking, "if I can just get to my job, I can relax!"  

What is my point?  Simply I, like most women and Mommy's, make sure I take care of everyone else but suck at taking care of myself.  I make sure my boys have what they need - play dates, attend camps and are registered for activities they like.  I see to their education and growth in Christ.  I make sure my hubby has time off and never (err- rarely) complain when the he takes off fly fishing.  He provides for the family and allows me the opportunity to be home.  But I SUPER SUCK at making time for me. This point was driven home as I spent 5 hours bedridden yesterday from pure exhaustion.  R.A. is not something I will die from.  I have lost people I care about over the last year to tragic diseases and accidents.  My best friend is battling breast cancer.  So I think to myself, "boo hoo!  Your joints hurt - get over it!" But being bedridden has become more common and I do need to respect R.A. and know my boundaries - and therein lies my new challenge for myself for 2015.  TAKE CARE OF ME!

While I do plan to lose some pesky pounds, I also plan to rest more, feel guilty about it less, make time for my girlfriends and schedule in some smoochy, smoochy date nights too. When I share what  I am dealing with, people say, "but you don't look sick" or "but you are so happy".  Yes, I am happy; but that doesn't mean there isn't more simmering under the surface.  Somewhere along the way I lost myself and this is the year I am going to get her back.  Because I am convinved the answer lies in taking care of myself without thinking I'm being selfish.  Watch out world!


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Manners 101

As I shared the other day, we hosted Spencer's first birthday party the other day. Therefore, we worked on properly thanking his guests over the weekend.  If you are like me, your Mama hounded the importance of thank you notes into you at an early age......and mine made an Olympic sport out of it.  She was right though, as much as I hate admitting that fact.  And so, it was my turn to share this torture with the wee one.

We made a game of it though and got through it.  I had our list of all the gifts and reminded him what each friend brought.  I then made him repeat the gift and who brought it.  Then, I made him tell me something he liked about the gift and the friend - both of which we incorporated into the card.  We concluded by saying how glad we were they could come to the party and that they were his friend.  His sign off was simply, "your buddy".  And with that, he was off to play with his new rescue bots.

Here's hoping I can make this habit less of a torture for the next generation.

Mind your manner's, y'all!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Stomach Virus and Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

My hubby was scheduled to leave for Phoenix yesterday morning for his yearly Ops Review with all the other company managers.  However, he woke up sick to his tummy at 2:20 AM and was out for the count all day.  My oldest child came down at 4AM complaining of a sore stomach as well so I thought for sure we were in for a bad day.  The flu and stomach virus have been going around our town so badly that one local preschool actually CLOSED for the remainder of the week!  And I was already on heightened alert having just had Spencer's party with a bunch of toddlers in a local playroom.  Fortunately, Harrison was fine - turns out the little turkey was just hungry - but I cancelled a play date and kept the hubby holed up in the bedroom.

After disinfecting anything and everything my hubby had even glanced at, I ran to the supermarket for reinforcements. I had to laugh when the baggie boy glanced at my purchases and simply said, "uh-oh".

Usually, when grown ups are down for the count, I love to prepare homemade chicken noodle soup from Barefoot Contessa Family Style.  It is so comforting and I make it even easier with a rotisserie chicken and store bought, low sodium chicken broth.  You can find the recipe here:

Here's hoping you have a healthy day!


Monday, January 19, 2015

Sunday Supper: Brunswick Stew

I have had a love affair with Lodge Cast Iron since childhood.  My father loved to cook with his and started me on my own collection.  I have a skillet, an oversized skillet, a sauce pot, a cornbread tray and a fajita skillet.  To my delight, my father-in-law added to my collection over Christmas with the oversized Dutch Oven - squeal!

We broke it in last night with some yummy Brunswick Stew.  Here are the results and my recipe.

Southern Sideboard Brunswick Stew

3 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 rotesserie chicken - boned and shredded
1 15 ounce can baby lima beans, undrained
1 8 ounce can baby lima beans, undrained
2 28 ounce cans whole tomatoes undrained and chopped
1 16 ounce frozen package of baby lima beans
3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 15 ounce cans of cream style cord
1/4 cup of sugar
1/4 unsalted butter
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
*optional - hot sauce to taste

Pour canned lima beans and liquid through a strainer into a Dutch Oven and reserve the beans.  Add tomatoes (don't forget to chop them up) and add 3 cups of broth.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; cook, stirring often for 40 minutes.

Add the chicken, mashed reserved beans, frozen beans, potato and onion to the pot.  Lower heat to low, cook for 3 1/2 hours, stirring often.

Stir in corn, sugar, butter, salt and pepper and cook over low heat for an hour, stirring often.

Makes 3 1/2 quarts.  Make a batch for your family and take some to a neighbor!

This time of year, when the weather is cold, I love to make a big batch of soup on Sunday to nibble off of throughout the week.  And since the hubby is back on the road today for the week - this will be perfect!


Friday, January 16, 2015

One Wild And Wonderful Life

My lil' man turned four on December 30th.  I cannot begin to tell you how much the pace at which he is growing up just totally blows my mind.  Chalk it up to second-kid syndrome.  But I blinked and he is four. So tonight we toasted him with a party fitting his personality - Spencer, King of All Wild Things!  This, in a nutshell, is the purpose of my life - to love on and fuss over the wonderful boys I get to call my family.

Play Adventure is a fabulous establishment in town that is basically the ultimate playroom.  It boasts a school room, a bakery, a general store, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle play table, a construction zone, a camp out area, a puppy kennel, a dollhouse/baby area and a princess stage.  In a word - XANADU!  Kids love it, parents just sit back and watch them play and then we can retire to the party room for pizza and cake.  Me oh my!  Every town should have a place like this.

The theme of the party was based off the book Where The Wild Things Are.  I framed a picture of Spencer at each year of his young, wild and wonderful life and placed them with a copy of the book and our stuffed animal Max figurine.  I added a framed invitation as well, which I ordered from Jaebirddesign on Etsy.  Here are some more shots from the shin dig.

Present Table

Construction Zone

Lemonade Stand

School House

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Table

Camping Center

Big Brother was glad to have a friend to pal around with.
One of Spencer's friends is the younger sister of Harrison's good buddy.

Oh Please Don't Go, We Love You So treat bag center

Treat bag close up

And with that, another chapter of this wild and wonderful life is in the books.  Happy Birthday, sweet boy.  Mommy and Daddy love you!


Sunday, January 11, 2015

Tasties: BC's Eggplant Caponata

The holidays offered several opportunities to test new recipies for guests, hostess gifts and presents.  One of my favorites was this yummy appetizer from Barefoot Contessa:  How Easy Is That?
We spent New Year's Eve in Blowing Rock with a high school buddy of my hubby's and I brought this dish as an appetizer.  If you like eggplant, roasted red peppers and pine nuts - you'll love this dish.  It would accompany an antipasta board wonderfully!

You can download the recipe from Food Network.  Try it today!


Saturday, January 10, 2015

Pay It Forward

Happy New Year Y'all!  I have been wanting to get back into blogging but find that I am a thousand times busier as a stay-at-home mommy than I was as a working mom.  But here I go again trying to preserve the daily ridiculousness that is my family.  And what better way to kick off my re-entry to the blogging world than a New Year's challenge.  Welcome to Pay It Forward In 2015.

The other day I was a little down in the dumps as I celebrated what would have been my father's 72nd birthday.  I was trying to think of something I could do to honor him and then an old high school/college friend posted this challenge on her Facebook page.

"After all the recent terrible tragedies that have happened and are happening, this world needs as much kindness as it can get. I'm participating in the 'Pay it Forward' initiative: The first five people who comment on this status with "I'm in" will receive a surprise from me at some point during this calendar year - anything from a book, a ticket, something homemade, a postcard, absolutely any surprise! There will be no warning and it will happen when the mood comes over me a...nd I find something that I believe would suit you and make you happy. These five people must make the same offer on their Facebook status. Once my first five have commented "I'm in" I will forward this message to you privately, so that you can copy and paste it, and put it on your status, (don't share it) so that we can form a web of connection of kindness. Let's do more nice and loving things in 2015, without any reason other than to make each other smile and show that we think of each other. Here's to a more enjoyable, friendly and love-filled year!"

I signed up immediately and can't wait to see how it unfolds.  I hope it spreads far and wide.  One can barely spend 3 minutes on Facebook to see ridiculous posts of people who clearly need to whine less and love more (myself included) or watch the news to see horrible acts of violoence.  So join with me and do me a favor - honor the people you love daily while they are still with you because I don't want anyone to get a call on a Sunday morning that starts like this, "Dad's not going to make it through the night, you need to get home".

I thank my God upon every rememberence of you.  Philippians 1:3

And with that, I am back to the sideboard...........