Hey Good Lookin’, What ya got Cookin’?

Dinner for this week wasn’t as eventful as the prior week. My birthday was on Monday and we had leftovers another night…but alas, I do have some recipes for you to try.

Sunday – Beer Chili

When I make chili, it’s similar to how a child would make chili. Let me explain. I grab whatever would seem to fit into a chili recipe and let ‘er cook. So technically I don’t have a recipe, but I use a recipe that is very similar to the following one, except I don’t use jalapenos but opt for a green bell pepper instead. And yes, I add beer into my chili even though I can’t stand to drink it. And no, I don’t have a picture because we had company over and I didn’t get the chance!

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/franks-spicy-alabama-onion-beer-chili/

Monday – MY BIRTHDAY!!!

Tuesday – Pizza Casserole.

Holy moly. This stuff was good. I had a second helping and Dustin had a third helping! We probably should have just saved ourselves the dishes and ate it right out of the pot. Honestly, if you are short on time you don’t even need to bake it. I felt that baking it dried out the pasta a little too much, making it rubbery, and everything is already cooked anyway. If you couldn’t tell, I used two different types of pasta. But who cares! I also omitted the bell pepper and used marinara instead of pizza sauce. This took about 35 minutes to make, but would maybe take 20 without baking it. This is definitely going to become a regular dish in our dinner rotation.

http://www.kitchme.com/recipes/pizza-casserole

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Thursday – Potato skins

These aren’t your traditional potato skins, ya’ll. They are super easy to prepare and you can even make a healthier rendition of them, but why would you wanna do that? Kidding. I’ve used olive oil in place of butter and left out bacon and they are still yummy! These are great because you can customize them however you want. This time, I used a combination of bacon, chives and pizza cheese. I usually use cheddar but pizza cheese is all I had on hand, plus it melts SO well! These take about 45 minutes from start to finish and most of that time is them cooking. This is one of Dustin’s favorite things to eat, and I usually whip them up as a late night snack. Don’t judge us.

http://www.iheartnaptime.net/easy-potato-skins-recipe/

Potato Skins

And just because I was feeling extra sassy, I made gingerbread cookies. Sorry folks, these were made with store bought Pillsbury dough…but I had to share my effort into making the dough into pretty snowflakes 🙂 And what goes better with gingerbread cookies than hot chocolate?

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Removing pilling from clothing

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It’s been fall for a while and it’s just now starting to feel like it! A few years ago I had several sweaters and shirts that were pilling horribly, so I searched for ways to fix them. One method that seems to work is using a razor and yes, literally shaving your clothing! Recently I was describing this method to someone and they thought I was nuts. But folks, I’m telling you…it works! I used two examples for my experiment. I used an inexpensive BIC razor, but I’ve also used an expensive Venus razor and I actually prefer a cheap single blade razor. It keeps the pilled material more cohesive than a razor with three separate blades.

Exhibit A: My hunter green cable knit sweater. This is made out of a wool blend and the cable knit pattern was all caddywhompus, so the razor method didn’t work that great to be honest. It did remove some of the furriness, but not the larger pills. For that, I resorted to the good old fashion method of picking them off myself. I didn’t take before and after pictures because the pilling was hard to see due to the dark color of the sweater. It did make somewhat of a difference, but it definitely doesn’t look like it did the day I bought it.

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Exhibit B: My five year old who-knows-what-brand cotton blouse. This thing has been through the wringer! As you can see, it has quite a bit of pilling! It was more obvious because of the lighter color so I took before and after pictures for this one. It took me about 20 minutes just to do the front of this blouse.

Before…

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After…

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The best way to do this method is to use short, quick movements and then the pilled up material will slowly form a snake of material. If you use movements that are too long, it will leave residue of the pilling all over that section.

The good: The razor method definitely works to remove pilling

The bad: It takes a long time.

The ugly: If you don’t “shave” every part of your shirt carefully, then you’ll be left with sections of ugly looking pilled material right next to smooth material which makes the clothing look even worse!

On the same note, I’m not sure how well this method holds up over time. If I remember correctly, I used this method on a shirt back in college with a similar material as the blouse, and it ended up pilling again the very next time I washed it. After a few years of wear, fabric slowly gives out and maybe it is just better to toss clothing rather than salvage it.

What’s For Dinner?

Call me crazy, but I love cooking. I think it confuses people that I cook a yummy dinner from scratch nearly every night. Maybe it’s the creativity involved or the fact that I get a delicious reward when I’m finished, but I’ve been cooking since I can remember and I’ve always enjoyed it. Some days I work late and need something quick to whip up, some days I’m off early, but regardless, I rarely spend more than an hour preparing dinner and most of that time is just letting it cook itself! So I’ve decided to share what I’m cooking each week, where I got the recipe, my personal additions (or omissions) and approximately how long it takes to prepare/cook.

Sunday night: Creamy Jambalaya Pasta, about 30 minutes

It took me clicking through multiple blogs that cited blog, after blog to find the original adaptation of this recipe. I say adaptation because the original recipe doesn’t call for sausage and it could feed a small army. Whenever I make this recipe, I seem to be missing an ingredient. This time it was tomato sauce…I could have sworn I had some tucked away! But alas, I did not. So I improvised (which I tend to do a lot) and substituted with marinara sauce. I know, I know…that’s Italian, but it worked just fine. The first time I made this, I did not have white wine and used chicken broth instead which also worked great for those of you who prefer not to use wine. Also, I added cooked shrimp to my husband’s portion and he said it was amazing.

http://www.plainchicken.com/2010/09/creamy-jambalaya-pasta.html

Jambalaya pasta

Monday night: Mexican Quinoa, about 30 minutes

This is great if you’re a vegetarian, or even if you aren’t! I was worried my meat-and-potatoes husband would hate this, but he wasn’t as suspicious of the dish as I thought, and now he requests it. It’s super easy, quick and the leftovers are even better. If you can open cans and adequately use a measuring cup, you can make this. For those of you who must have meat in their meal, you could add shredded chicken, but it definitely isn’t needed. As a final note, I always omit the jalapeños because my husband loathes them.

http://damndelicious.net/2014/04/09/one-pan-mexican-quinoa/

Mexican quinoa

Before adding the broth and letting it simmer.

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Tuesday Night: Copycat Carraba’s Chicken Marsala about 30 minutes

Who doesn’t like chicken Marsala? If you don’t, I’m sorry we cannot be friends 😉 But seriously, this is pretty easy to make. Usually when I make new recipes, I look up multiple recipes for the same dish and combine what I like or what I have on hand. For this recipe, I dredged the chicken in a flour and seasoned salt mixture. To make this easier, I buy the thin sliced chicken and toss it in a gallon sized bag, then I add the flour with seasoned salt and shake, shake, shake! I’ve made this dish wish pasta and with mashed potatoes, and we prefer mashed potatoes. The sauce is a bit thin and doesn’t stick to pasta well, but it makes a good ‘gravy’ for the ‘taters.

http://www.kitchme.com/recipes/copycat-carrabbas-chicken-marsala

chicken marsala

The sauteed green onions and mushrooms before adding the Marsala wine and half and half…yum!

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Thursday Night: Honey Lime Chicken Skewers, 10 minutes to prepare, 10 minutes to cook

These take a little bit of preparation ahead of time, but it’s not mandatory. I’m not going to lie, I don’t completely read recipes before committing to them, so I only marinated the chicken for 20 minutes and it still came out delicious. This time, I marinated for several hours. These would taste heavenly cooked on the grill during the summer, but seeing that it’s November and I’m a bit lazy, these went on the George Foreman grill.

http://www.budgetsavvydiva.com/2013/04/honey-lime-chicken-skewe/

honey lime chicken skewers

Experimenting with chalk paint

Have y’all heard of chalk paint? A cousin of mine told me about it two summers ago and I think I have an addiction. You can paint almost ANYTHING with this paint, it doesn’t require sanding or priming, a little bit goes a long way and best of all the colors are gorgeous! I can’t speak for other brands of chalk paint, but I use is Annie Sloan. The first color I bought was Paris Grey. It’s the perfect “drab” grey, but in a good way, and has a tiny hint of a bluish undertone. At the same time I bought Paris Grey, I bought a small pot of Antique White and the clear wax. I’m not gonna lie…I totally used the wax incorrectly on most of my ‘test’ items. It took me two six ‘test’ items to figure it out. Next, I bought the color Graphite. This color isn’t as scary as it looks. If you’re only slightly terrified of painting a piece of furniture black, then go with Graphite. Its more of a dark charcoal color.

Here’s the very first item I painted:

desk before and after

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This desk was found at MAM resale in Spring Branch for $45!!! My husband thought I was nuts when I sent him a picture of this desk. I had to convince him that it would look beautiful once I was finished with it. After all, it’s solid wood and had ornate detail on the front of the drawer and the legs, but not too much to look gaudy. I ended up keeping the bronze colored knobs on the drawers, but may replace them in the future. With the initial cost of the paint and clear wax (which I’ve used about 5 more times since), I spent a total of $150.

I also painted a small pedestal table that I picked up at Goodwill for $12, two dining chairs (which I also reupholstered and may explain my disaster with that) also from MAM Resale for $35 each, an antique buffet turned TV console and the chair that goes along with the desk. On a side note, the buffet table was a legit antique and I originally attempted to paint the buffet white, but the old paint kept bleeding through even after three coats. In cases where you suspect your item may be older than 60 years old, paint the furniture first with a clear shellac to prevent bleed through. You’ll thank yourself later.

And here’s the piece that I painted with Graphite:

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This is the Tarva dresser from Ikea. I did not use the knobs that came with it. I opted to buy clear glass knobs off of Amazon for around $50 and it made a HUGE difference. I’ve also found knobs at Hobby Lobby, which they occasionally put on sale for 40% off. Changing out the knobs is an inexpensive way to make a cheap dresser look expensive. In total, I spent about $250 on this dresser. I priced similar sized dressers at around $500 and up…no way was I going to spend that! With a little bit of hard work, patience, and preferably a glass of wine…you can create a custom piece of furniture that is beautiful, unique and inexpensive.

Here are some of the websites I used along of the way to help me figure everything out.

http://pickedandpainted.blogspot.ca/2012/10/painting-questions-answered.html

http://paintedfurnitureideas.com/distressing-techniques-for-painted-furniture/

http://www.stonegableblog.com/tips-from-annie-sloan-stockist/

Wedding “Do-overs”

So I’ve seen a list of Wedding “do-overs” before, and I decided that I wanted to make one for myself. Because the list that I saw helped me when I was planning my wedding, and if this helps one person, then it was totally worth writing!

Wedding do-overs

1. The venue. When Dustin and I picked the venue, we envisioned an outdoor ceremony in the mild winter weather that Houston has. Unfortunately, there was a 40% chance of rain and it was 38 degrees. I searched nearby stores for big white tents to shield everyone from the rain…and for $800, I decided against it. At the last minute, we planned for an indoor ceremony but the venue was essentially a one room building with no other area for a ceremony other than where the reception was. Everyone sat at their tables assigned for the reception (which actually worked out great!) but beauty was serious lacking during the ceremony. Instead of weeping willows painting the ceremony backdrop, it was stucco, windows, and even the appliances in the kitchen were visible! After all of the weather drama…it didn’t even rain.

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2. Have a photo booth. Seriously! How fun are these? Especially for the bride and groom to look at after the wedding and see all their friends and family making silly faces in ridiculous props! Photo booths have become extremely popular at weddings and for a good reason…they’re a blast! They are definitely worth the splurge.

3. Be more selfish by taking more time with Dustin to take photos. Okay, so I know I already complained about how cold freezing our wedding day was. After the ceremony, the bridal party and our families went outside to take photos us. We got some great shots, but t-minus 15 minutes into the photo sesh, I was DONE. I had approximately 3 more minutes of tolerance in me before I got into a bad mood (sad, but at least I admit this about myself!). Dustin and I got very few photos together because I wanted to get back inside. I wish I could go back in time, have a glass of wine, chill out (no pun intended) and continue taking photos in the freezing cold. There were so many cute bride and groom pictures I saw on pinterest and we did NONE of them. Maybe for a one year anniversary…

Things I would do all over again…

1. Include my man in the wedding planning. I can honestly say my husband was included in nearly every aspect of the wedding process, from choosing the venue, picking out linens, cake tasting and design, the invitations and save-the-dates, choosing the food, and everything in between. If he didn’t help plan it, I asked him for approval…with the exception of my dress

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2. The cake baker. My wedding cake was from Cakes by Jula, as was my graduation cake, my sister’s graduation cake, birthday cakes, and random cupcake pick-ups. With the help of Dustin and his mom, we chose White Almond Amaretto, Pink Champagne, and Marble. De-lish! And they decorated it EXACTLY as I had imagined…coated in white sugar to create a “snowy” look, fondant snowflakes and chocolate pinecones.

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3. The food. Houston’s own Kelly’s Country Kitchen was the saint behind our food. Honestly…who doesn’t like this place? Sure, I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re not wearing pants with an elastic waistband but c’mon people, cheat on those diets with Kelly’s! We chose cornbread stuffing, turkey, brown sugar baked ham, green beans and mashed potatoes. Wedding guests were going back for seconds…heck, if I could fit any more food into that tight dress I would have gone back for seconds too! And no other restaurant or caterer came close to Kelly’s prices. After the wedding shenanigans were over, we had leftovers for days. YUM!

4. Our photographer. We had an amazing, talented and super sweet photographer named Jessica. Jessica is sincerely one of the nicest people I have met. She also took my bridal pictures and they turned out phenomenal. The wedding pictures were equally stunning (no easy task considering we did an indoor ceremony…don’t get me started on that again). Jessica also was my sister’s wedding photographer prior to my wedding, and when my sister got sick on her wedding day, Jessica was there at the venue helping my mom out with whatever she could! She then photographed my brother’s wedding, and she will also be photographing pictures for our Christmas cards. You cannot find a better, sweeter, and more creative photographer than Jessica…especially for the price!

5. Day of wedding planner. I don’t know what I would have done if it weren’t for our wedding planner, Kimberly. Everything went so smooth on the day of the wedding and I didn’t have anything to stress over or think about. This woman knows how to run a wedding! She told everyone where they needed to be, what they needed to do, and was sure that everything took place in a timely manner, and it helped that her husband was the DJ. Talk about two peas in a pod! At the end of the night, she made sure all my gifts, cards and personal items were secured and packed away. If you have any extra money in your budget, get a wedding planner for the day of. You won’t regret it!

6.Our wedding party. We had the most amazing wedding party on the planet (but I’m sure your was/will be equally amazing!). My sister was the matron-of honor, and I chose three close friends to stand by my side as bridesmaids. I danced the night away with these girls, goofed off with them, and they took care of anything I need that night. Seriously…best. bridesmaids. ever.

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7. Decorations. So who cares if my mother and I completed separate transactions two times per week to use our 40% coupons at Hobby Lobby to buy wedding décor? It may have taken a few months to complete our industrial sized collection of crystallized tree branches, vases and other wintery odds n ends, but we did it for 40% less than we could have! I loved my vases filled with the wintery branches, and Epsom salt to look like snow. If you hadn’t guessed by now, our wedding theme I was aiming for was cozy and wintery. I wanted more rustic winter wonderland, less Christmas with the Griswolds. We also made a candy buffet, lanterns with tea lights, had a Christmas tree…it was perfect.

8. Beverages. From the get go I stated “I’m not paying for people to get wasted at my wedding”. Those were my guns and I was stickin’ to ’em! Dustin and I got a keg of Blue Moon (with orange slices, cut up by yours truly), wine and champagne. We also gave the men in the wedding party flasks filled with Seagrams 7. Other than that, we didn’t have liquor and everybody lived. We had plenty of beverages to go around, and even had a full case of wine left over (which took me a month to hunt down who took it…which ended up being my own brother! The only person I forgot to ask!).

9. Music. I already mentioned how great the wedding planner was and how her awesome husband was the DJ. Many of our guests complimented how good our music was. I created a list of “must play” and “play if you have time” and told the DJ to play whatever people seemed to be in the mood for. My father and I danced to “Folsom Prison Blues” by Johnny Cash…best decision ever! People loved how it wasn’t typical, it’s our favorite Johnny Cash song and I’ve heard him playing that song since I can remember. If you’re having a tough time deciding what to pick for wedding songs, don’t be afraid to stray outside of the box for a meaningful song to you. After all, it’s your wedding and the guests will appreciate songs that aren’t predictable.

Crafts, recipes, and everything Life.

Have you ever tried a recipe or craft from a fail proof tutorial that turned out terribly? I mean, we’ve all seen the pictures of “Pinterest fails”, right? As hilarious as those photos are, they are SO true for many of us beginners. As nice as it is for Crafty Sally (note: not a real person) to take the time to showcase her brilliant 15 step tutorial, what I really needed was for someome to attempt it for me, reveal what went wrong, and what she’d do differently. This is where I come in! The Crafty Wifey; here to assist you with everything Life, and to entertain you with my fails.

You’re welcome.