Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Birthday Carrot Cake for The Girl

The Girl made a specific request for her birthday cake:  carrot cake with no nuts, pineapple, or coconut.  Years ago I had the perfect recipe for carrot cake.  Labor and ingredient intensive, it had all those things.  Drat. So, rooting around the internet, I found some tips on how to gussy up a store bought mix and make it taste homemade.
I didn't have 27 candles, so we added three candles to a 2 and a 4 from years' past!
I took a box of Duncan Hines spice cake mix and dolled it up with:
1 extra egg
about a cup of applesauce
the oil it called for
buttermilk instead of water
a teaspoon of vanilla
a little extra ginger
1 1/2 cups finely shredded carrot
Then I baked it according to the box directions.  I bought a cute $1 steel cake pan to make one the perfect size for a visit up to see her - the rest stayed at home with the boys!
The frosting was 1 stick of softened butter, a brick of softened cream cheese, 2 cups powdered sugar, and a little vanilla extract, whipped until smooth.
It turned out sooo good - spicy and sweet and moist with none of the things she didn't want...
Belated Happy Birthday, Coco.  We love you lots!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Mealplan Monday #161

Monday - Ham and Cheese sammies, chips, yogurt cup
Tuesday - Beef Tacos with all the fixings
Wednesday - Bacon Quiche, fruit salad
Thursday - Rosemary Ranch Pork Chops, veggie
Friday - Honey Mustard BBQ Chicken, mashed potatoes, veggie
Saturday and Sunday are TBA


Friday, September 22, 2017

5 thing Friday - Sammie night, nails, the wine tour, crepes, Fall linens

On Mondays we have sammie night - usually one that I prep in advance and store in the fridge for my peeps.  But on one recent Monday I was off, so I got to do a hot sammie - grilled swiss, ham, and apple on raisin bread.  It was delightful!
My peeps said it was "unusual" which is code for they weren't too sure about it.  But cook's choice, you know?  And they all got devoured!
I bought a Groupon for a mani/pedi which is something I would never justify doing before.  But I just gotta say - IT WAS GREAT and I might have to make that an every now and again thing.  Two weeks later my feet still look marvy fab, and though I have repainted my fingernails, they still look good and are not breaking.  
Win for feeling pretty!
Last week was a whirlwind wine tour/pick up.  And Hubby and I were feeling pretty pooped when Sunday night rolled around...
We started out at Bell Springs, where we enjoyed a glass of petite syrah and burger sliders, listening to live music on the patio.
Then we picked up our wine and headed over to Burnet for the Torr Na Loch pick up, enjoying the view, a bottle (or two) on the patio, eating fried oyster nachos, and listening to this guy:
He was really good! 
Then we did a tasting notes activity with the winery owner, sampling two as-yet unavailable wines.  Very informative and fun!  We picked up our wines, and headed to Highlands to spend the night.  We cooked a one skillet meal of trout with potatoes and green beans - so good!  The we were up early the next day to head BACK to Dripping Springs...
 ...for breakfast at Crepe Crazy - Hubby had the Norweigian (lox, dill, capers) and I had the Fiesta (black beans, corn, chorizo)  They were HUGE and sooo good.
 I could eat one of those every weekend!  Then we were off to Wimberley Valley Winery:
Where we spent some time napping in our chairs, sipping a zinfandel, and snacking on cheese. We picked up our wines and headed over to Solaro Estate and had an informative tasting with the owner, but I didn't take even one pic.  Too tired, I guess!  We picked up our wine and headed back to Austin.  I was on call and I had pretty much nothing else to drink that afternoon, and good thing, too, because I did get called in around 8 p.m.
Woo! Talked about pooped! 
Firstborn is back at home, temporarily.  So, my craft room is no more.  However, with a coupon I will head over to Michaels' and just purchase a runner or placemat that I was going to make, based on this recent phone pic.  I figure I will save time, it won't be hassle or a mess, and will be a pretty addition to our dining table.  
On to another weekend, this one spent visiting The Girl!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Loving Dollar Tree for a mantel update

I have rediscovered Dollar Tree!  We have a quiet, clean, and close-to-me one that I have been stopping in once a week or so.  I don't go just to spend money, but I do a 15 minute walk-through and always find something I can use.
This week's trip netted me two vinyl signs for a craft project, more of those styro balls, some snacks, and faux flowers.  Side story:  I was in Michaels' last week and spent entirely too much time walking around the Fall greenery/flowers looking for a neutral bunch to update a vase for the mantel.  I thought I'd found the perfect bunch, but when the cashier told it it was $9 (on sale) I, nothankyouanyway.  Here is the original:
I put it together a couple of years ago, and while pretty, it's too much dark orange for what I had in mind now - more neutrals and softer colors.  At Dollar Tree I found two bunches of cream colored faux dahlias.  I pulled everything out of the vase and started over with the stuff I wanted to keep.  That cute vase was a Home Goods find several years ago, and the filler is Spanish moss from Dollar Tree.
I left a little Fall-ish orange, but the whole thing is less bushy now.  Simpler and more neutral.  And at $2, it was a bargain update. 
I pulled out the "Gather" sign that I found at the Target Dollar Spot last year, and added some burlap on the ends to disguise the clips.  And I think I will just leave it like that - pretty simple!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Mealplan Monday #160

Monday - Carnitas Quesadillas (leftover carnitas from freezer)
Tuesday - Mediterranean Pot Roast, sliced French loaf, carrots
Wednesday - Cobb Salads with creamy jalapeno ranch dressing
Thursday - Glazed Pork Chops, veggies, baked potato?
Friday - Sweet Garlic Chicken in crockpot, rice, veggie
Saturday - Dinner in Houston  Sunday - we will wing it!
How can September be halfway over??

Friday, September 15, 2017

Cork craftin'

My craft this week was a sphere made of corks as an accent piece in the bookshelf.  {Something that I saw on Pinterest and just thought was fun.}  Now that I basically know how to make them, I can craft a few for gifts.  I think smaller ones would be cute as Christmas ornaments.  I could tie them onto gifts, even.
Heaven knows I have enough corks!  These are just about half of the ones I have collected.  I gave a whole slew of them to The Girl, too.
We like wine, ya'll!
Some of these had corkscrew holes and wine stains - they make pretty vase fillers, though, so I will keep them.  Generally I recycle the ones that are not real cork.
I bought a styrofoam ball at Dollar Tree and using a pencil I poked a hole with it so I could hold onto it while I painted the whole thing.  This is just regular ole craft acrylic paint - I think the color was called caramel.  A cork got glued right over that hole.
I used hot glue and tried to position the corks as close as possible, but the gaps are pretty well-disguised by the paint.  I chose to glue wine stain side down, but I may do it the other way around for Christmas ornaments.
 Done gluing!  I estimate this part took me about 30 minutes.
 I dusted off the bookshelf and added some Fall stuff here and there. 
My "to read" stack is growing, too...I am about to start Book 6 of Outlander.
That velvet-y pumpkin was $1 at Target - I had to grab it.  I've been trying to keep the clutter down to a minimum - more and more I think that simple is best.  Clutter tends to stress me out, but crafting now and again is fun and a break from the mundane...not to mention we have a great time collecting those corks!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Happy 26th Birthday

 The (Beautiful!) Girl had a birthday yesterday!  How can it be 26 years already?
 A daughter may outgrow your lap, but she will never outgrow your heart. 
  Happiest of birthdays, Coco!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Mealplan Monday #159

Monday - Leftovers night!
Tuesday - Potluck Beans crockpot, corn muffins
Wednesday - Greek Chicken Salads
Thursday - Pot Sticker Pork Stir Fry
Friday - Cowboy Casserole in the crockpot
Saturday - Mom and Dad out 
Sunday - Bacon-wrapped Chicken, baked potatoes, peas

Friday, September 8, 2017

5 thing Friday - tires, cereal, leftovers, pie, plants

Seems like most of my posts lately involve some sort of food...but occasionally, there are other things in my life...
I sent Hubby this photo I found on Pinterest for an idea on maybe how to use the eleventy billion tires left on the property.  There is a very steep slope or two that could benefit from steps like these.  And we already have a mountain of gravel, too.  Sometimes when I think of all the things we need to get going on out there, I feel overwhelmed.  And you always think there's plenty of time, then boom!
{Oh, I see we are back to the food...}
Although the boys/men are back to eating me out of house and home, they've been fairly picky about breakfast, which is fine, because they are adults and I don't have to exhort them to eat in the mornings.  {Another benefit}  They aren't fans of cereal anymore, so I estimate it will take me a couple of months to eat enough cereal and decide I am sick of it and toss it!  But one of my goals is to stop skipping breakfast.
However, the leftovers situation has improved.  I am making smaller meals (for three or four, not six people) and working the leftovers into lunch the next day, or the next.  Still, our grocery bills hits $150 every week, including various cleaning items, and TP.  I guess the upside to that is that we are eating more fresh things, less canned or frozen.
I made a Hurricane Harvey Peach Pie.  There was a big can of peaches in the pantry from a boy scout campout of many moons ago.  I thawed two of my freezer pie crusts and made a filling of peaches, sugar, cornstarch, ginger, and cinnamon, dotted with butter.  Then brushed the top with beaten egg and sugar and wah-la.  Peach pie.  It was delightful!  If I fold and roll the crusts a couple of times before placing them in the dish, they are flakier.
I have a really black thumb when it comes to succulents, but I do try.  This one seems to be doing OK in my kitchen window - I moved it there to survive the rainy weather and I just have not moved it back.  I kind of want to put some mums in the window for fall, but keep the Fall decor down to a minimum overall.  I'm looking forward to Fall, but more and more I find I want to simplify - cooking, decorating, etc.  And I'm ready for cooler weather!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Labor Day

On Labor Day Firstborn went with us up to Highlands for a mini "get outta town".  He helped Hubby with some tree trimming while I mowed the hill.  We had a few little projects to do here and there, but once it got too hot, we stopped.  Then we all got cleaned up and headed to a nearby winery to relax.
 I forgot to pack snacks for us as I didn't even think about it...its a good thing they sell cheese plates!
 It was hot, but there were cool breezes and the company was in a good mood.  Firstborn did a tasting and we ended up with a nice, chilled rose. That evening we grilled some chicken and stayed up by the fire until very late, listening to coyotes howl far away...maybe not so far since we could hear them fairly well!
Firstborn doesn't really have a wine appreciation, but I think he likes tagging along with us now and again.  And wouldn't it be great to have patio like this?  Looking out over the hill country with a couple of lakes in the distance?  Our little hill will have a patio someday with a pretty view of a lake.  Until then...

Monday, September 4, 2017

Mealplan Monday #158

Monday - Ham, Swiss, sliced apple on raisin bread
Tuesday - Chicken Enchiladas, corn
Wednesday - BBQ Meatballs in crockpot, mac & cheese, green beans
Thursday - Chicken Spagetti Alfredo, broccoli
Friday - Carnitas Tacos, pico de gallo, guacamole
Saturday and Sunday are TBD


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