Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A Bed Fit For A Princess

It's been a long time since I've posted. It has been so embarrassingly long since I've posted to this blog, that I don't even know where to begin with updates. So I thought I'd start with this post that I started this summer.

The reality is that I could have done it a lot earlier, but pictures required me to clean the girls' room enough to take a picture that made it seem like I don't allow my kids to live like slobs.....don't judge.

This past summer we bunked the girls beds. I promised that we would make it special.

I was able to do this all for about $25
(the light dimmer cost the most by far! $10)

Wooden dowel: $6
I let Stella paint it.

Christmas Lights: free (from storage)
Dimmer Switch: $10
White Hooks: $2

Closet Flange Thingy: $5
Screw it on to the bed....cross your fingers and hope your husband doesn't yell at you for messing up.

Plastic Shower Curtain Rings: $1
Fabric: free (donated scrap from S. E. THANKS!!!)

I sewed some custom sheer curtains for Stella's bed. I also made a matching cover for Sofia's bed rail. We also painted the plywood between the two beds white.

And TA-DA!! A bed fit for my princess Stella

A view from the inside.

The dimmer switch is awesome for a night light as well as evening reading that won't disturb her older sister.

She loves her princess cave!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

ISO Challenge (Again)

Okay, well I know that I haven't posted in a long time. I have a lot of other posts, but they are still in my head. Two more craft posts, a couple recipes, a GI update, etc. I am also on a job hunt for a full time job and have been faced with the reality that Michigan's job market really is as bad as they are saying. So much more to say, but I need to organize my thoughts before I try to write them.

My addiction, hobby, and passion is photography. I also love my sewing, but not like photography. I spend my evening Internet time on Pinterest and reading about things like exposure, lighting, & tips for taking pictures of kids. One of my favorite sites is ISO created by Nicole & Michelle....2 very talented photographers. They clearly state that their contests are not restricted to professionals and that anyone can enter. So here we go, another entry.

Week 9: Silhouette
I live in the Midwest.
We love Chicago as the closet big city.
Last July, I visited with 3 kids for a bridal shower.
I was alone in a hotel room with 3 small children.
It. Was. Awful.
Urban camping stinks & I strongly discourage it.
On the flip side, we did enjoy our room right on Michigan St.
Our room faced Lake Michigan & the view was beautiful.
We were 36 floors up and Mark loved it.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

DIY Flower Flip Flops

I have taken the month of August off from sewing. It has been fantastic. I have been able to spend time with my children and actually enjoy them. So we decided we needed a craft to do during Mark's nap.

We went to Hobby Lobby with a $5 budget. We came out with flip flips for $1.59 each. We went to my fabric scraps and fashioned some fabric flowers and used a hot glue gun to attach them....and Voilà!!

These are Stella's. She insisted on having a purple flower and a red flower. She could not be convinced otherwise.

These are Sofia's. She made her flowers herself....picked out and cut the fabric....and even pieced the flowers together. I just helped with the hot glue part. She has worn them a lot already and her flowers are already starting to fray a bit....but I still like the look. And I'm not worried about the longevity of these flip flops as they were only $1.59.

Total Cost: $3.37

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

ISO Challenge

So I'm not sure how I found Nicole's blog, but I love it. She is also a wife, mommy, & photographer among lots of other things. She and her super talented friend Michelle Sauer have a photography blog, ISO, with weekly challenges. I'm certainly NOT a photographer, and would never claim to be....but they say that non photographers can participate. So here are my entries for Week 5: Water & Dream

Week 5: WATER:
Peter's parents own a place on Lake Michigan.
We spend most of our summer weekends at the lake.
I have yet to swim in a body of water that compares.
Lake Michigan is breathtaking & I am blessed that my children are able to experience it as much as they have.

Week 5: DREAM
My brother got married about a month ago.
I honestly believe he married the girl of his dreams.
She perfect for him & I am so happy for them.
I always knew my brother would marry up....but I never predicted this far up! ;)

DIY Jewelry Box On My Wall

My jewelry has been haphazardly thrown into drawers and boxes for the past 15 years. I have lost more jewelry that I am willing to admit due to my terrible storage methods. I know, if you can believe it.....OCD ataxophobic Rachel was pathetically unorganized.

Thanks to my new Pinterest obsession, I have been gathering all sorts of great DIY ideas to organize my jewelry. So this is how it started.

Found some scrap wood in the garage.
My brother constructed a square frame for me. We traded.
I cut my nephew's hair. He made a frame for 15 minutes.
I also had him drill some holes so I could attach the knobs.

Go to the side garden and steal some rabbit fencing.

Buy some door knobs at Lowe's for $1 each

I painted the frame gray.
I added the wire fence in the middle.
Then added the knobs and a few hooks.
And Voilà! I am very proud.

Wood: free
Rabbit Fencing: free
Carpenter Labor: free
Hardware: $13
Paint: $3
Total Cost: $16

Monday, August 15, 2011

Not Me Monday

  • I did not dance around in line at the bank to help myself dig out a massive wedgie from my hungry rear end. No way, that's inappropriate....and besides, I wear underwear that fits.
  • I did not turn around and make eye contact with the personal banker who was awkwardly watching my undergarment mining side show and blurt out "yep, it was in there pretty deep? Hope your day gets more exciting than that." Nope, I do not take extreme pleasure in stranger's discomfort or glorify embarrassing moments.
  • I did not arrive home from a weekend away to realize that I left my door unlocked.....with the key stuck in the lock! Nope, only a bimbo would be so careless.
  • I did not take so long to hem my mother-in-laws shorts that when she finally got them back....they no longer fit her. Ummm.....eewps.
  • I did not decide that the best way to rid the terrible squealing coming from my back tire was to turn up the radio volume. Nope, I do not ignore auto noises because they can lead to serious problems.
  • I did not keep Mark in the same outfit for two days....and two nights because I was too lazy to change him. He was not covered in snot, boogers, dirt, sand, unknown purple stains, tomato sauce, & chocolate, when I finally bathed him.
  • I did not allow my son to walk around my house completely nude so he could air out his boy parts....and then watch as my girls pointed, giggled, screamed, and ran away from his yucky boy parts. Nope, I do not use my son as entertainment.
  • I did not cover his nakedness with a small kitchen towel & rest him on my hip to answer the front door. No way, I would at least put him in a diaper before I opened the door to a complete stranger.
  • He did not giggle with delight and slap my face while he peed all over my hip.
  • I did not hastily push front door girl off our front stoop so I could hold my son at arms length and allow him to finish his male lizard drainage on our bushes.
  • I did not ask the speechless & completely grossed out gas lady if she'd like to trade jobs.
  • I did not open all the windows in our van do drown out Sofia's never ending and irritating questions about mundane things. "Can't hear you Fia! Ask me when we get home!" Nope, I do not squelch innocent and inquisitive young minds.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Rach's Whatever Casserole

I have a "go to" casserole that is a creation from my head.
I make variations of this recipe at least 3 times a month.
I call it a "whatever" casserole because I usually grab whatever will work from my cupboard. Whatever pasta, whatever cheeses, & whatever veggies.

It freezes really well, so it's also great to bring to a friend.
I said I will eventually write the recipe down to share.
My apologies for not having a finished product photo.
I'll post a photo next time I make it.
So here we are....a variation of:

Rach's Whatever Casserole

The Quick Recipe

- 3 breasts of chicken breast (cooked & cubed)
- package of pasta (cooked to package directions)
- 1 can of cream of chicken soup
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 12 oz good melting cheese (see below)
- 1 package veggies
- 4 slices of bread
- 2-3 Tablespoons melted butter
- Parmesan cheese for sprinkling

Cook chicken & pasta.
Melt cheese, cream of chicken soup & sour cream
Mix chicken, pasta, veggies, & sauce & pour in baking dish
Top with bread cubes.
Add thin layer of melted butter on bread
Sprinkle with parmesan cheese
Bake covered at 350 degrees, then uncovered for 15 minutes.

And a detailed and pictured run down of my methods. Here are the ingredients.....oops, the chicken is still in the fridge! The first 3 steps can easily be done ahead of time...making the finally casserole assembly quite easy & fast.

Cook & cube (or shred) the chicken.
You can use grilled chicken, pan cooked, or baked.
This can easily be done a few days before.
Or even weeks before & then frozen for later now

Cook pasta according to directions on box.
You can certainly cook the pasta a few days before too.
I like rotini because it collects lots of sauce.
I also use penne (tubular) & farfalle (bowtie).
Always run cold water over it to stop the cooking.
That way your noodles won't get too mushy.
Be sure to salt the water before you cook the pasta!


Cook the broccoli.
My method is put water in pan & bring to rapid boil
Add broccoli florets & cook for 6 minutes

I always drain the broccoli in cold water to stop cooking.
Then I lay on paper towel so absorb excess water.

I usually use a small bag of frozen veggies.
I like the one with carrots, peas, & corn.
Sometimes I get the one with green beans in the mix too.
I just happened to have some broccoli in the fridge.


Start with a can of cream of chicken soup.
Make sure your burner is on medium/low.
Lower heat is important for melting cheese.
Add shredded melting cheese

Good melting cheese are Havarti, Asiago, Cheddar, Fontina, Gruyere, Monterey Jack, Meunster, Gouda, Blue cheese, Camembert or Brie.

Do not use Mozzarella, Provolone, Colby, or Colbyjack because they will be stringy. Also do not try feta, goat cheese, or cottage cheese....because they won't melt...and it would probably taste like barf.

My favorite is an 8 oz block of creamy havarti from Aldi. Another favorite is Monterey Jack cheese because I almost always have some in my fridge. I haven't ever used Pepperjack, but I bet it would be awesome and give your casserole a mild kick. I shred an 8oz package of either Havarti or Monterey Jack (because they are somewhat mild, but still have flavor) & then grab some of more of whatever I can find in my cheese drawer. This time I found some Muenster & Cheddar. I shredded about a small bowl of cheddar & used 2 slices of Muenster. I also love adding a tablespoon or two of blue cheese....yum.

Melt slowly like you're making cheese fondue.
Also, adding a tablespoon of white wine is delicious!

Once the mixture is smooth, stir in about 1/4 cup of sour cream.
I have also used a few tablespoons of cream cheese.....yum.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl

Pour casserole contents into baking dish
I love using the disposable ones if I'm going to freeze it or bring it to a friend. Totally worth the $0.50 for zero clean up!

Sprinkle on some bacon.
Sometimes I use real bacon bit that I fried earlier that week.
But most times I am lazy

Cut up 4 slices of bread & sprinkle on top

melt a few tablespoons of butter and brush on top

Sprinkle some Parmesan on the bread cubes

Now look at your job well done. It's gonna be so yummy!

Cover with foil & store in the fridge
Or bring it to a friend

Or throw it in your freezer

Bake covered at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.
Remove foil.
Bake additional 15 minutes.
Bread cubes should get golden & crusty

** If frozen, then let thaw in refrigerator for a day before cooking.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Not Me Monday

  • I did not tell Stella that she may have string cheese only if she ate it in strings instead of chomping off large pieces like a beef stick. Not me, I do not force my OCD eating preferences on to my children
  • I did not strap a naked baby to my back and mow the lawn & reaffirm my place as crazy lady on the block.
  • I did not rake my son's face into a giant bush on the side of our house and decide that such rakings would be avoided by not mowing the entire side of the house. No way, I am always thorough with my work and never jump at pathetic opportunities to be lazy.
  • I did not decide the best time for me to meet my new neighbors would be when I was literally dripping with sweat and had a naked baby strapped to my back. Obviously, I was being super smart by lowering their expectations.
  • I do not tell my children to "leave me alone because mommy is paying bills" and get called out on my lie when Sofia asked me why I have only facebook and pinterest tabs open.
  • I did not give my daughters a long lecture about how buying a book at the bookstore is silly because libraries loan books for free....and then lose two library books and have to pay $26 to replace them....grrrr.
  • I do not prefer to dress Mark in onesies because t-shirts and shorts make him look like a little boy and less like a baby. No way. I would never do any such action to keep my son trapped in babyhood....forever and ever and ever and ever.
  • I did not get called back and lectured by my eldest daughter because I forgot to light a second and third courtesy match in the bathroom. I do not bomb out the bathroom to the point of needing more than one stench eliminator match.
  • I did not tell Stella that I would love to read to her and then send her back 3 times for a new books because the books she chose had way too many words per page. Nope, not me. Only an super lazy mom would do such a thing.
  • I have not been calling my son "Cletus" so often that he now answers to this new name. No way, I would never participate in blatant name calling.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Chicken For A Week

We eat lots of chicken.
I'm making my standard "chicken for the week"
I do this or grilled chicken about every other week.
This recipe is quite mild.
My kids don't like the grilled taste.
Sometimes my kids dip it in ranch or BBQ sauce.
Sometimes I freeze some for recipes next week.
This chicken makes cooking convenient for the entire week.

The quick recipe

- large package of boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- olive oil
- Kosher salt
- seasonings

* place chicken in large skillet
* drizzle chicken with olive oil (both sides)
* sprinkle with salt & seasoning (both sides)
* turn stove top on low, cover, & let cook for at least 25 minutes (or till you start to smell it)
* flip chicken, replace cover & continue to cook for 15 minutes
* cut chicken into strips or cubes & store in fridge or freeze

And now for my dear sister-in-law, Lesley, I give you a full, detailed, & pictured run down of my exact methods.

- large non-stick skillet (mine is 12" across & nearly 3" deep)
- 1 family size package of boneless, skinless chicken breasts.
- I get mine from Meijer for about $10...although they were on sale at D&W this past week for $7!

- Extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Meat Tenderizer seasoning from Aldi (sometimes I just sprinkle a combo of paprika, onion salt, garlic salt, & cumin.....always less cumin than the other seasonings)

- place entire package of chicken in pan
- drizzle with olive oil (about 1-2 Tablespoons over everything)
- sprinkle with seasoning & kosher salt
** SOMETIMES I USE AN ENTIRE PACKAGE OF TACO SEASONING INSTEAD OF THIS SEASONING (Les, the Mexican Lasagna recipe) and then shred the cooked's yummy. **

- Flip chicken breasts and repeat olive oil drizzle & salt/seasoning sprinklings
- Sometimes I add about 1 Tablespoon of water to make sure there is enough liquid

- Exactly how much salt do I use?
- Apparently, I use exactly 1 teaspoon
* Please note that regular table salt is more potent, so I would not use this much! I would use about 1/2 the amount.

- I set my burner on just above low

- This is how much flame I have
- It's really important for it to be quite low

- I put a lid on it & set a timer for 25 minutes so I don't forget about it!

- Walk away & go do something productive....or waste time on facebook

- After about 25 minutes, I check on it.
- The juices from the chicken should be bubbling and the chicken should be white about 1/2 way up the sides

- Flip the chicken, return the lid, & leave it alone for another 15
- I will often turn the stove down to low to allow it to cook crockpot style.....or if I have stuff to do and I can't get to the cutting part right away. If you turn the temperature lower, then it needs more time to cook.

- After you can smell the chicken in the house, then it's usually done.
- If you cooked it low & slow, the chicken should not be dry or rubbery.

- I cut mine up & stick it in my glass container
- I typically use some right away for whatever casserole I'm making at the time
- If you do not have an electric knife....then get one. They are awesome.

- The rest goes in the fridge for a easy grab snack for Peter and for dinner for the next few nights.

- This is what I used them for the other night
- Chicken, black beans, diced pepper, cheese, & taco sauce
- Fill em, roll em, & then spread on a thin layer of butter
- The butter is crucial for a nice golden color & crunch
- Pan fry them on medium heat like a grilled cheese
- Top with a fresh tomato, avocado, salt & sour cream

(which will slowly make it to the blog if they aren't here already)
(I also use grilled chicken in these recipes)

- Rachel's whatever casserole (a crowd favorite...coming soon)
- Chicken pot pie
- Mexican Lasagna
- Kung Pao Chicken
- Chicken Enchiladas
- Tacos
- Chicken veggie omelet
- Chicken Salad Sandwiches
- Chef Salad
- Special K Chicken
- Chicken Mac & Cheese
- Chicken Quesadillas
- Chicken Pasta Salad
- White Chicken Pizza

Kung Pao Chicken. Click HERE for details

Chicken Enchiladas. Click HERE for details

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