Tuesday, July 31, 2012

How to clean your microwave safely & easily

What does the inside of your microwave look like? Have you cleaned it recently? Is it a dreaded chore? Sometimes, it gets bad and we keep putting it off thinking we are going to have to scrub it and you just don’t want to hassle with it right now…
Recently, I was reminded of a quick way to clean it and it barely takes any time & effort!
Put 1 cup of water in the microwave for 3 minutes on high and then let it steam in there with the door closed for 5-10 minutes (depending on how badly it needs cleaned, lol). After the time is up, literally just take a rag and wipe! If you have any odor in there you can also squeeze some lemon juice in the water before you boil it. Easy, peasy. I love this kind of quick homekeeping chore! :)

Friday, July 27, 2012

Buffalo Check

Have you been noticing this fabulous check is making a comeback again? I think this once “country” decor pattern is looking so much fresher & modern. Yet, it just has a cozy, "homey" (is this technically a word???)  feel to it? I love the large pattern of it and am considering adding it in the nursery as maybe a crib skirt and leading edge on the curtains???
Check out the these inspirations I have been pinning away…
Buffalo check
BTW, these are the colors I am going with for the nursery-gray, beige/tan with a bit of orange.
Buffalo Check 2
This is from Ikea at $8.99 a yard, can you believe it? We’ve been planning on going for a few things so I need to go sooner rather than later if I want to get this nursery completed in August!
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or a more gray check?
Buffalo check 3
Pretty cute! I think an accent wall might be just enough for my taste. This would be charming in a laundry room, too. This is from the 2012 Southern Living Idea House. This year it’s here in Georgia about an hour south of Atlanta. I rounded up a new friend down here to go with me and check it out.  Looking forward to it!
What do you think? Liking the large scale check these days, too? 
Have a great weekend!

Monday, July 23, 2012

White Pizza

I was warned by many that a really great pizza was hard to be had down here. We have yet to even try any since we have moved since I find them so fun and easy to make them at home. Back in IL, every once in awhile we would order a pizza from one of our favorite places, Taylor Street Pizza. We always got their "white pizza” as they called it. It had sliced tomatoes, garlic, basil and cheese, no other sauce than garlic butter.  D-LISH, it was!!!
When I saw wonderful heirloom tomatoes at Whole Foods this week, it inspired me to make my version of one of my favorite pizzas!
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Here’s my recipe for:
White Pizza
Pizza Dough (store bought or homemade)
homemade recipe I mentioned here.
4 Tbsp butter or margarine, softened
1 Tbsp Wildtree Scampi Seasoning or your favorite garlic seasoning
8 slices of favorite tomatoes
2 –3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup fresh basil leaves chopped or chiffonaded
(If you are not familiar, chiffonade is a knife cut in which you take a stack of herb leaves and roll them and then just slice away. I’ve learned alot watching my shows on Food Network! :))
8 oz Shredded Cheese (I used Fontina on this instead of Mozzarella just because Fontina is sooooo good)!
I still try to limit my dairy, but when I do eat it, I make it worth my while :)
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I roll my pizza out to about 11-12 inches wide by 15-16 long since I have a rectangular pizza stone that isn’t very big.
Preheat oven to 500 degrees with stone in it (and get that exhaust fan on) and then you can get all your ingredients chopped while it heats up.
Mix the garlic seasoning with your softened butter to spread
When the oven is preheated, take HOT stone out of oven and place dough on top and it immediately starts cooking (the secret to using a pizza stone in the first place. If you don’t preheat the stone, the crust actually will be kinda soggy, no good) and you can put on all your ingredients while it starts to cook.
Spread garlic butter, sprinkle garlic evenly, place tomatoes, sprinkle basil, a little salt & pepper and top with all the yummy cheese and bake.
This one only took about 10 minutes to get the crust golden and melt the cheese.
Add a green salad (I just had red romaine lettuce & freshly ripened cherry tomatoes from one of our plants and drizzled with red wine vinegar dressing) and you have a pretty darn yummy dinner with a good amount of veggies!
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I realize this is probably not a pizza your kids are going to go crazy for…(but I think you will) so how about a pizza making “party”. Roll out small individual doughs and let the kids create their own from the topping you provide them. Kids usually get excited more about the food they eat when they help make it themselves.

What’s your favorite pizza? Do you make it at home?

Friday, July 20, 2012

Personalized notecards

It’s important to teach Reed manners and for him to learn gratitude for gifts given to him. If he is not able to thank the giver in person or on the phone, then I insist that a thank you note be sent to show the giver that their generosity is appreciated and let the sender know it was received. Obviously before he was old enough to scribble, I took care of this. I have had Reed doing this for about a year now and also on any cards for birthdays, etc that are from him!!! I think the receiver appreciates the personalization he puts on them instead of just a card I “signed” for him.
One of my “sit down” projects last week was making some personalized note cards for Reed with a custom stamp set I talked about here. I made a bunch in one sitting so they are at the ready for future use. I even made a few for myself!
I have had these notecards for a couple years that I bought at a store closing with the intention of being able to personalize them.

I chose to do Reed’s initials on these.
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This is the inside with his masterpiece. He really got into it this year choosing the colors from his new fancy-schmancy 3-tier marker set and what he drew himself. He even picked who would get which one as he made them all different in colors & style. This one is for his Grandma Jan (Jeff’s Mom). It’s ironic that he chose these colors for her because she loves purple and green! I then wrote some quick kind words about the gifts she gave.
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Here are a couple I made for myself. I can’t do all 3 of my initials…they spell H-A-G! Lovely!!! This stamp set doesn’t have similiar enough letter sizes to do a monogram that looked right. I made need to look into getting more letters to do those, too. I do love me a monogram!!!
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What do you think? Do you have your kid’s personalize their thank you notes?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Organizing recipes

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So it turns out being without cable & internet isn’t as painful as I imagined! In some ways, it was kind of refreshing…just for a little while anyway, ha ha.
It’s been a week since we haven’t had either and we just finally got it back today! I have been using 3G for the bare necessities of communicating.
At first when I knew it would be so long, I started to freak out a little with my reduced activity (since we had another recent trip to doctor last Wed with a labor scare-all is still good though)…what will I possibly do on my “downtime” for a WHOLE week without the internet? Only read???? It actually was a blessing in disguise because I was able to actually get several little projects done that I’ve been wanting to do…but kept procrastinating on and I was able to sit doing.
I have desperately needed to organize my recipes from before we even moved! I had started the project of sorting into categories back in January but didn’t finish during a naptime…so in a box they went for another day(the movers even teased me about it when they packed them up)…and here we are in July without them being organized. It made meal planning with tried and true recipes a dread to dig through that box!!!
I found some beautiful “periodical” boxes from Restoration Hardware and ordered them with the recent “Friends & Family” discount. I decided to use one of them in the kitchen in our “new” bookcase cabinet that Jeff painted to store all the tear sheet recipes (just waiting for him to install the new knobs I bought so I can post about it). I picked up some new file folders at Target last Sunday and got it all sorted and organized last weekend. I love it how it turned out! I told Jeff not to mess it up again, it was much too painful to sort all those, ha ha!!!
After I sorted the recipes into specific categories, 23 to be exact, I just typed up a label for the box” in my favorite Edwardian Script and printed it out.
Here are just a few of the categories I made. I separated several categories such as breakfast & dessert into smaller subcategories so it would be easier to find what I am looking for.
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Here they all fit nicely with a little room to spare to add to the collection 
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Ahhhhh, it feels so nice to have this finally done. Such a little thing, but makes things so much easier to cook for my family and it’s pretty to see too!!!
What nagging project have you finished lately? Isn’t it great to get it off that To-Do list?

Linking up to:

Organize Your Stuff Now

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Reed’s 3rd Birthday

This year we had a REALLY low-key birthday for Reed. Since we don’t know too many people down here yet, it’s not like we could of done a big party like we usually do and with my needing to “take it easy” it worked out this year just keeping it a family day.
My mom flew in Thursday for his birthday and is here until Sunday. We started the day off with 3 balloons, one for each year he is old.
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Yikes…I am getting big! I shouldn’t stand on an angle, it makes me look even bigger!!! I still have 12 weeks ago….
4th and Reed 3rd birthday 017  After breakfast we piled into the car to go to the Georgia Aquarium. He really loves sea creatures so we thought it would be a great way to celebrate his birthday. 4th and Reed 3rd birthday 054
We got home, he took a nap and then we opened presents, ate his requested birthday dinner, burgers and sweet potatoes and then we had cupcakes. He requested green cupcakes with blue, orange and green sprinkles and I added the “fish” cupcake toppers to make them even more festive and keep with the aquarium theme of the day! I thought they turned out cute! :)
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He is soooo irritated in this picture, his cruel Mother made him wait to grab a cupcake until I could get a picture. Life is rough…ha ha
4th and Reed 3rd birthday 121 I made the vanilla cupcakes from the Babycakes cookbook. They were GF and Vegan and were really quite delicious. I ate one Thursday night after I baked them to see what they tasted like, and I was like, “okay, this chic seriously knows what she is doing…she has a famous NY bakery that the stars eat at afterall…”! There is a vanilla frosting recipe to go along with them, but I made my usual “cream cheese” frosting since it’s so easy and everyone loves it. You would never know it’s not dairy!
Even if you don’t have dietary restrictions…you might like to try them since they are a healthier version of a cupcake without the white flour, dairy and just sugar in the frosting and are quite yummy!
Some of these ingredients sound weird or icky…but don’t be scared by them-the combination produces a delicious cupcake!!!

vanilla cupcakes
*********************Makes 24*******************
Preheat  the oven  to 325 degrees. Line 2 standard 12-cup muffin  tins with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, potato starch, arrowfoot, baking powder, baking soda, xantham gum, and salt. Add the oil, agave nectar applesauce , vanilla, and lemon zest to the dry ingredients and combine. Stir in  the  hot water and mix until the batter is smooth.
Pour 1/3 cup batter into each prepared cup, almost filling it.
Bake the cupcakes on the center rack for 22 minutes, rotating 180 degrees after 15 minutes. The finished cupcakes will be golden brown and will bounce back when pressure is applied gently in center.
Let the cupcakes stand for 20 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Frost cupcakes when cooled. Store cupcakes in airtight container in fridge for up to 3 days.

Here’s the cream cheese frosting recipe I use.

I hope you enjoy!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Is there an elephant in the room?

So, I can finally share with you that we are having a baby boy!!! We are so thrilled. I think Reed will enjoy having a brother, too. :)
With all the “down time” last weekend, I had some time to pin like crazy some ideas for the nursery. I don’t know why…but elephants are kinda what I am addicted to right now. And, from all that I have found in stores and on etsy, clearly I am not the only one that is addicted.
Here are some ideas I am considering…
 eleph 1
eleph 2
 These are little elephant sheets from PB Kids (actually, they just arrived today, so one thing confirmed).eleph 3
 eleph 4
eleph 5 
eleph 6
 eleph 7
 eleph 8
now, to narrow it down. I just want a little bit here and there. Overall, I am just going for a classic nursery with a little whimsy.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th of July

Here are some inspiring photos on how to decorate with patriotism!
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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Summer Beauty Faves

Hope you had a great weekend! I have to say, I am definitely climbing the walls a bit around here, being so limited. Since Friday it’s been in the 100’s so not at least it wasn’t even enticing to go outside! I delved into my new books that arrived and am almost finished with Country Living’s Restore.Restyle.Reuse. I will share with you when I am all finished. Great ideas and some ridiculously simple principles that I wonder how we all got away from?
Finally today the high is mid-90’s and there is a breeze so it feels so fantastic. Crazy to say that, isn’t it? It’s all relative. I had to get out of the house so I took Reed for a haircut today, he was soooo overdue and he told me he wanted to have lunch out. We drove just 10 min to Roswell to eat at the Fickle Pickle where we could eat outside (remember, I told you it felt so enjoyable out). Roswell is such a cute, cute town. I will tell you more about it another time, but let’s just say it’s charming downtown of restaurants, boutiques and more antique and thrift stores than I have ever seen in one place and the fact that it’s a river town would be a great place to raise a family.
Anyway, with summer in full force, I wanted to share some new beauty goodies that I discovered recently and just love! Of course they are all non-toxic and some are actually good for you!
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Blog beauty 001 Shower Gel - I love how rich and moisturizing it feels and it’s light fresh scent which I especially love in the summer. The older I get the more and more sensitive to scent I am. This doesn’t overpower.

Hand & Body lotion – this is perfect lotion for those that need just a light feeling lotion that soaks right in or for those of us like me that even gets dry, itchy skin in summer. Again, scent is very light if you like to wear perfume-nothing competes.

Sunscreen – you know you need it…so you might as well use one that is good for your skin, too. I am not much of a sun goddess anymore, but if I am going to be out and about in the sun, I put this on to protect my skin . I really love that it goes on like a light lotion, absorbs instantly and doesn’t feel heavy or sticky.

These 3 products are all from Shaklee’s Enfuselle’s line!!!

Every season I like to get the trending nail polish. Even on the rare ocassion I have fingernails, I usually keep them bare. But, I do like to have fun with my color on my toes, even in the winter when “no one” sees them except those living with me. I never have bare toenails. I feel like if I have a nice pedicure, life hasn’t gotten too crazy…and I am still somewhat together. :) LOL!
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These are my two colors for this season by Essie, from left to right:
steel-ing the scene & school of hard rocks

I think I am going to do the blue today so I have them done for tomorrow to celebrate the 4th of July! I can just hear my mother’s reaction now about having “blue toes”. But, I think they are chic and an easy, low cost way to be trendy.

I have used makeup primer for quite some time. It smoothes the skin out and helps foundation last all day. Last year I shared my beauty faves here where I talked about the primer I used up until a couple weeks ago.
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This is from Tarte and is A-MAZING and it’s waterproof-especially great in the hot, sticky summer weather. These products are all non-toxic so I have been finding myself using more and more from this brand these days.

 I covet a great mascara. I am a devotee to Tarte’s Lights, Camera, Lashes and was very pleased with how much it added to my lashes. But, I had been seeing alot of lash primer's out there…so I thought I would at least give it a try since for me, the bigger, longer the better when it comes to lashes. How about you, do you use a lash primer?
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This is also from Tarte and the only lash primer I have ever used, but I couldn’t be more pleased at the difference it makes and it’s from a brand that is safe to use so this will stay as a staple in my beauty routine. I can’t go back to plain ‘ole mascara now…

Do you have a clarisonic? It dawned on me that I bought mine in late 2008 and can’t imagine cleaning my face without it. It makes your skin feel so clean and soft! I even have Jeff using it in the shower, how about that? Men like to look good too! LOL!
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Recently, Clarisonic came out with a few additional brush head types. This ones is for deep pore cleansing. I especially like that idea in the summer at the end of a hot, sweltering day to get your skin feeling really clean and fresh. And for me, this pregnancy has been BRUTAL with the hormones on my skin. I swear I was over pregnancy breakouts by now with Reed, but I don’t forsee it letting up anytime soon so I need to keep my skin as clean as I can. :(

So, there are my “can’t live withouts” for this summer season. I love that we don’t have to put awful chemicals on our bodies anymore to look our best! We are lucky to have the choices out there, it just takes a little research to find out who are reputable companies and what ingredients should absolutely be avoided to take care of ourselves long term. That’s why you have this blog, right? I do the research for you! :)

What are your beauty faves?

Wishing you a safe & happy 4th of July!!!