Friday, January 29, 2016

5 thing Friday - books, easy meals, nightlight, Scouting, chili

It was a busy week at Camp Rustown.  You can tell the holidays are over by the amount of general catch up I do around the house with purging, cleaning, and desk work that I was putting off.  The filing alone kills me.
Bubbie and I took the books he was willing to part with to Half Price Books.  You don't get a lot of money for your books there, generally, but it's fun to get a little store credit to spend.  Plus, they usually have a cart or two full of books for cheap.
 
Laziness did set in, though...I managed to only get two items into the freezer for work nights.  It basically involved pouring a sauce over chicken in a big zip loc.  In my defense, though, there are several things in the freezer we need to eat up before I get to stocking it up.  Crock pot freezer meals are my friends, and the best solution when I get home at three, blink, then realize it's dinnertime.
 I bought a new plug in wax warmer.  It's so dang bright!  I love these wax burners for the double duty they pull - light plus scent.  And no candle flame is a win.
Hubby got a high honor at the Scout banquet on Sunday. 
 According to the BSA Armadillo District of Texas:

"The Norm Hummel Award of Excellence is a given by the Armadillo District to recognize an individual’s outstanding contribution to Scouting on the unit or district level. There are no specific requirements for this award. An individual’s contribution of time and energy should be regarded as highly valuable by the members of the unit or district and deserving special public recognition."

I know Hubby will cherish his time involved with the Scouting organization.  So far we are on year 19 of his involvement.  It will be a bittersweet transition when Bubbie ages out...
I found a quick Enchilada Chicken Chili recipe and made some tweaks to it to make it my own.  In honor of JL's birthday at work tomorrow, here it is:

Crock Pot Enchilada Chicken Chili
Cut 1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs into chunks.  Season with taco seasoning and brown in the skillet.  Place in bottom of greased crock pot and add:
1 can corn, drained
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
19 oz can red enchilada sauce (I used mild)
1 can chicken broth (not pictured)
2 c. total of chopped red bell pepper, and onion
1 T of chopped garlic
Cook on high for 4 hours.  Serve with chips, sour cream, and shredded cheese!




Thursday, January 28, 2016

The gap in seasons - updated

You know how there's that space in between winter and spring? 
It's not Christmas, its not Easter.
 
Here in Central Texas we have had an unseasonably warm weather.  But since it's technically still winter, I busted out my pinecones to make a wreath for the front door.  I added in some fluffy white flowers and a scrap of burlap ribbon.
 I like how simple it is.  I might tweak it here or there - maybe add a few more pinecones.  Or configure it to hang differently*.  But then, maybe not.  On to the next project!  I would love to get some sewing done this week.
Happy Gap Season!
******
UPDATE:
*So, I moved the flowers to the bottom of the wreath, and did a better job on the "bow".  Still hard to photograph...I kept looking at it thinking it was not quite right.  Here's what my inspiration was:
I wish I could get these longish spiky pinecones here, but apparently they are a northern thing!  And my wreath was definitely cheaper than this one which is sold on Etsy!
(I spent about $10 on mine, hers is $46!) 



Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Starting the years' projects: new mattresses

Something on my list of Stuff to Buy for quite some time was mattresses for the boys.  I purchased Firstborn one of those memory foam mattresses and it seems to work well for him.  So, it was a no-brainer to simply order two more.  Side note:  There's something about mattress sales people that greatly turns me off.  Thank goodness for Amazon...
So, here's where we started from:  the old tubular metal bed that I had spray painted black with its saggy mattress.  Bubbie asked for the furniture placement to be changed up, and we will work on art for his walls.  He is not a fan of the collage, but it stays for now.  I'm letting him keep the Christmas lights!
 I ordered two mattresses (one is for Scout) and a frame.  Scout already has a decent box spring and frame, so his switch out was much faster.  However, this awesome platform frame came together in about 10 minutes flat.  I've built plenty of IKEA pieces, so this was a snap!
 Along the way I dusted shelves, tossed outgrown clothes, made a pile of book to take to Half Price....rehung the bulletin boards and new canvas, patched and painted walls...took me the better part of my day and my back paid the price that night!
I even steam cleaned the carpets! About the only thing left to do is let him pick out some art for the wall next to the window, and maybe add bed elevators to give him more underbed storage.
And, take the old mattresses and frame out to the garage for big trash day!  Mission accomplished on my first project of 2016.
(Now, can I keep that momentum going?)




Friday, January 22, 2016

Assistance League thrift store stop

There is a stretch of Burnet Road in Austin that is very much like S. Congress Ave.  Full of thrift shops and nifty places to eat along the length of it.  On my way home from donating blood last week I stopped in at the Assistance League thrift store.  The ladies from AL are a presence at the children's hospital, organizing and sorting and handing out books and toys to the patients.  Its a good cause and they run an awesome shop, full of vintage wonderfulness!  I spent $26 and got:
 a red plaid dress shirt for hubby with two silk ties ($10 total),
A new to me book, and a stuffed animal pattern - I think the chickens would make a fun gift for my mother!
 I also found a couple of yards of fabric ($6)  to re-cover den cushions, and a crochet afghan ($5) to toss over the rocking chair.
Some pretty lace doilies (about 50 cents each)  - I have a plan someday of attaching a bunch of them in a row to make a free form table runner.
A fun way to kill an hour on my way home, and I bought only things I thought I could really use.  That's the hidden trouble with thrift shopping - bringing home more clutter.  But since I purge regularly and only look for things I can use, I feel pretty good about this haul!  What about you, done any thrifting lately?





Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Scalloped Potatoes with Ham and Carrots

I would love to say that I am organized enough to have full menus planned with everything I need to make them, including boundless energy to do so.  Sadly, that is not the case.  Night before last we had a change of dinner plans, requiring me to figure Something Else Out.  So this is what I made:
 It wasn't beautiful, but it made the house smell wonderful and it disappeared...
 
It was a last minute thing - I hauled out a box of scalloped potatoes, the last four carrots from the fridge, and the rest of the Christmas ham.  I also had some Panko crumbs, but I was just too lazy to do buttery cheesey crumbs.  Maybe next time!
I buttered the dish, poured in the potatoes, mixed the milk and seasoning pouch and poured that over, added chunked up ham, peeled and sliced carrots, and dotted it all with butter.  It baked at 350 covered for about 45 minutes, then I uncovered it for 30 more while I made a salad and watched Cook's Country.
It was warm and comforting and filling and no one complained.  Sometimes a box of something, with leftovers, is the best I can do.  But it usually turns out that the family doesn't mind, and I feel proud of how thrifty I am!  Have you had dinners like that?





Monday, January 18, 2016

What the weekd holds: The Most Important Job we've ever had...

...was becoming parents to this sweet baby.
Happy 26th birthday, Firstborn. Hopefully you've learned as much from us as we've learned from you!  You made the two of us a family and added so much joy to our lives. You will forever be my beautiful baby boy!  We love you! 




Friday, January 15, 2016

5 thing Friday - blooms, Firstborn's birthday, room plans, poinsettia, pralines

It's been really beautiful outside lately...
The weather here in Central Texas thinks its Spring.  I would love to get out in the yard and do some planting and landscaping and such, but I have to keep reminding myself  ITS WINTER.  Tell that to my Wandering Jew under the oak tree...
I guess once it freezes, I will cut it waaay back.  For now, its really lovely.
 This one turns 26 on Monday.  You're over halfway through your twenties, Firstborn.  Might want to think about how you want the rest of them to go...because 30 can be a real slap of reality.
I would love to see him in a relationship with the right person, working on his education, heading into a secure future with a house and kids in the plans for someday.  
Mama can dream.
 I promised Bubbie I would get rid of this terrible tubular bed from 1995 and get him a real mattress and box spring set.  Also that we would redecorate and get new linens.  I don't know why it is so hard for me nowadays to kickstart myself on projects.  Maybe posting the intent will help!
I took home a poinsettia from work as no one is watering them (that I have seen) and when they die they will just wind up in the dumpster.  I don't know the second thing about keeping them alive - I figure a nice spot in a window might be the first thing.
So far, life.
When I got to my mother's house on a recent morning, she was stirring a pot of pralines at the stove.  I'm not sure what possessed her to make pralines on a random morning, but I can tell you that they are buttery and wonderful and as good as any you could find at an East Austin bakery.  Plus, she wrapped each one individually and told me to hide them and make them last.  Will do.






Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Jeans thrifting

I rewarded myself for being fairly frugal lately and doing a bunch of cleaning and organizing post-Christmas.  I didn't want to buy a bunch of junk - heck, I just got done donating a lot of schtuff.  But I was in need of some new jeans since I have only one pair now that fit.  At my favorite Salvation Army store I found two pair of like new Coldwater Creek cropped jeans, some flannel PJ pants, two books, and a frame.
Score!
I spent a whopping $13.22, with tax.  Amazing since CC charges $50-$80 a pair for their jeans, and hardly anyone sells cropped jeans in January,  Here in Central Texas it's been very mild weather - too cool for shorts, too warm for sweats.  Crops are a good compromise.
I threw the jeans and PJ's into the wash, and will settle in with my new books tonight.  The frame is now home to our new family portrait. All in all, a pretty sweet thrift trip I don't have one ounce of guilt over!




Monday, January 11, 2016

What the week holds: Pumpkin Pecan French Toast Bake

Baked French toast makes the house smell so wonderful...
Every other year I fix it for Christmas morning, but not this last year.  However, cleaning out the fridge and pantry this week I found everything I needed to make one for Brinner - breakfast for dinner.  I used an old recipe and made it a bit different!

Pumpkin Pecan French Toast Bake

1/2 loaf cinnamon bread (or whatever loaf you are trying to use up!)
7 large eggs
2 c. milk
1 t. maple or vanilla extract
1 1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 can pumpkin puree
1/4 c each white and brown sugar
3 T butter, cold and sliced
Nuts (optional)
 Cube up the bread and lay it in a 13x9 greased casserole dish.
 Mix the eggs, milk, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and pumpkin well.  Pour over the cubes.
 Don't worry - I will find a use for the rest of this can of pumpkin!
 Mix the sugars well, and sprinkle over the cubes and eggs combo.
 Dot with butter.
 
 Then sprinkle on the pecans.
Place a piece of saran wrap on top and smush it down.  This will encourage the bread cubes to stay submerged in the egg mixture.  Refrigerate overnight.  (I made mine early in the day so we could have it for dinner) 
Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes.  Let cool and slice.  You can serve this with syrup, since it ends up only mildly sweet.
We had ours with bacon for a Monday dinner that everyone gobbled up!  




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