Monday, February 28, 2011

Busy as a Bee

I know my New Year's resolution was to reorganize my kitchen.  And then from there I was going to do my laundry room.  And I still have every intention of doing that….

…but then I saw Emily A. Clark's posting about her trip to Garden Ridge.  And that was all she wrote.  Completely sidetracked.  All I could think about was this mirror.  Would our Garden Ridge have it?  Would it be a huge undertaking to spray it white like she suggested?  Or would I want to leave it two-toned?  That is if I could be so lucky as to find the mirror.  What's a girl to do?

Go to Garden Ridge of course!  With my sweet little baby strapped to me in his Baby Bjorn and my dear sweet mother in tow!  I was in hot pursuit of that lovely flower mirror Ms. Emily found.  Garden Ridge is not for the faint of heart.  Huge doesn't begin to describe this store.  Massive is an understatement.  It's like the Ikea of hobby stores.  Three buildings…and they are always rearranging so you never quite know where to start.

Not to mention almost every aisle has something you can easily convince yourself you "need".  Soooo not for the faint of heart.

I found this lovely piece of "art" and thought of Casa Moriarty...

45 minutes in we had perused children's books, vases, faux flowers, candles, and more before we finally put our blinders on and started walking with a purpose.  And…

...we found it!  The very same mirror that the fabulous Ms. Clark found.  Your eyes do not deceive…it was only $40 bucks!  And solid too…it took both me and my sweet mama each carrying one side to lug that bad boy out of there {toddler-sized baby still strapped to me...we were quite a sight I assure you}.

Of course, patience is a virtue.  That is why I waited a full three days after reading Emily's post to go hunt down this mirror.  Not having any spray paint in the house {or patience left in me}, I decided to go at this monster mirror with leftover white semi-gloss trim paint and a brush.

I started by taping off the mirror first. 

And was super careful not to get paint on the hubbster's workout mats.  However, this did not keep me from getting paint on my favorite gray tweed flats or my favorite gray yoga pants{later that night, not at the same time...I haven't gotten that schlumpy as a mom yet}.

 One coat in I realized I was going to have to be incredibly diligent to get every nook and cranny and not have any drips showing.  This is why I should have been patient and waited until I had a chance to get some spray paint.  Lesson learned.

Three coats later and with some help from my handy-dandy hubby I had this.  The perfect adornment hanging above our bed {and let's hope Texas never has an earthquake...'cause if this sucker falls and hits us in the head we won't live to tell the tale}.

My pretty mirror in the morning sunlight.

So now that that project is complete, now I can refocus on those kitchen cabinets that have been calling my name...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Yummy Marinara

In keeping with the recent food theme, I thought I'd pass along an oldie but a goodie: my marinara sauce.

As some of you know, I never buy my marinara sauce...

 {please ignore my messy range...but feel free to oogle the yummy sauce}

...not that there is anything at all wrong with buying canned marinara, I have just found that it is cheaper and better tasting to make it yourself.

And it literally only takes about 2-5 minutes longer than opening a jar and heating it in the pan.

And, if you make it in bulk, you can save your leftovers in a jar and have your own homemade variety on hand the next time you need marinara.

So here's my recipe.  Double or triple {or quadruple} to make in bulk:

1 14 oz can of whole peeled tomatoes {no salt added if you can find it}
3 or 4 cloves of garlic {popped and peeled, but leave them whole}
1 small to medium sized onion {or half a large} sliced
~2 Tbsp. EVOO

Heat the EVOO in a skillet or pan {or humongous pot if making in bulk} over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic and a pinch of salt {I use kosher} until translucent and starting to brown.  Pour into a blender or food processor along with the can of tomatoes {juice and all} and blend/pulse until pureed nicely.  Return to your pan on medium heat until it starts to simmer.  Reduce to low heat.  Season as you like {my standby is a half a palm of dried basil and a half a palm of dried oregano and another pinch of salt…use fresh when available}.

If you don't have access to a food processor or blender, then use the same ingredient list as above, but mince the garlic and finely dice the onion.  Not as quick, but still easy and so worth it.

Last but not least, if the sauce is a little thin for your taste, try adding a tablespoon or two of tomato paste.

Toss with your favorite pasta {or top your homemade pizza...which I do frequently} and enjoy!

Serves 3-4.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

I {heart} Pizza.

I LOVE pizza.  There are not enough words in the English language to tell you how much I love pizza.  I craved pizza throughout my pregnancy.  When I took Bradley classes and our instructor had us write down what we ate each week to make sure we were eating a balanced diet, I shamelessly wrote down "2 slices of pizza and salad" on no less than 4 nights each week.  Each and every week folks.  And Bradley classes are 12 weeks long.  That's how much I {heart} pizza.

Pizza is easy, but, many more times than not, I was consuming the frozen variety.  I did a lot of Freschetta and California PIzza Kitchen brand pizzas, because they just seemed like they were the healthier options out of the grocery store freezer.  But frozen pizza really isn't that good for you.

Maybe it was the extreme fatigue that comes in your 1st and 3rd trimesters…but I completely forsook my former favorite pizza…the homemade variety.  It seemed really overwhelming to make my dough…all the kneading and rising and whatnot just did not appeal to me.  And now I feel like a dingbat.  Because until recently when the preggo brain fog cleared, it never occurred to me to make my dough in the bread machine ahead of time and freeze it for the coming week.  Super simple.  It's my newly re-discovered method for pizza at home.

I've tried several different recipes and combinations of recipes over the years, and this is the version that has been most requested in my house.  You can use your food processor or stand mixer to make pizza dough {or make dough by hand} but the bread machine is my new favorite method because you can just walk away and let it do it's thing.  Here's my bread machine method {you might want to double check your bread machine instructions first to make sure the order of ingredients will work for your machine}:


  • 1 cup warm water {I use filtered but you don't have to}
  • 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 tsp. of sugar {I eyeball this}
  • 1/4 cup of EVOO
  • 3 1/4 cups of flour {all-purpose does the trick…and I'm not super precise with my measuring}
  • 1 3/4 to 2 tsp. of salt {I eyeball this too}
  • 1 packet of active dry yeast {equal to 2 1/4 tsp. if you have a jar of yeast}

Dissolve the sugar in the warm water and pour into the bottom of your bread machine along with the EVOO.  Next add flour and salt.  Hollow out a little hole in the top of your flour/salt to pour the yeast into.  Select the dough cycle and push start.  Don't think about the dough again until you hear the bread machine beep. :)

This will yield enough dough for 2 regular size pizzas.  Divide the dough in half and roll out on a very lightly floured surface to your desired thickness.  If you're super brave you can try tossing your dough…this never works for me…I always poke holes in the middle.

Top however you like, place on a cookie sheet sprayed with non-stick spray or a pizza stone, and cook for about 15 minutes in a 500 degree F oven {I start checking at 12 minutes to make sure it doesn't get too crispy}.  I like to brush the edge of my crust with EVOO and drizzle extra EVOO on top of the pizza before popping it into the oven…it makes it golden and delicious.

If you aren't making all the pizzas at once, you can wrap the extra dough in plastic wrap and a freezer bag and store in your freezer.  To thaw, I let the dough sit in a bowl filled with hot tap water {still wrapped up and in the bag…you don't want soggy dough!}.  It takes about 20 to 30 minutes to thaw using that method.

And if you have more time and would like to try making your dough by hand, check out Paul's post at What's Mine Is Yours.  He's super talented and puts my mushroom chopping to shame! :)


Friday, February 18, 2011

Decisions, decisions...

Change.  It's inevitable.

Sometimes it happens suddenly.  In an instant, your life as you know it ceases to exist and is replaced by a new version.  Sometimes it's a good change; sometimes it's a bad change.  But it's change just the same.

Other times, change creeps up on you.  You feel your life start to pull in another direction - pulling you in a way you couldn't imagine when you started out.  At first it's just an inkling…a random thought of "what if".  But over time it grows and grows until it's something you can't ignore.

I have decided to leave my job as a marketing guru for a financial services company to pursue a new career as a full-time mommy.  Sounds pretty classy when you say it like that, eh? 

This choice definitely ranks among the most difficult I've had to make in my lifetime.  A good steady job with good steady benefits in a time when our nation is facing economic challenges…a little hard to let go of.  Not to mention I have been blessed to work with such wonderful people who have become an extended family to me.  Definitely hard to let go of.

I know the relationships I've built will continue - I just won't get to see my dear friends every day {or drink Yolanda's coffee every day}.  But moving on has never been easy for me, and coming to this decision, then actually going through with it, was not an easy feat.

But some wonderful, wonderful changes have come to take its place.

Morning coffee and cuddles with my family are something I didn't get to have before.  My mornings were rushed…especially during my pregnancy I was perpetually running late and rushing to catch up.  My husband and I had opposite work schedules and had very little time together.  It's been such a blessing to get to see him and spend time with him every day, not just in passing.  He is still my best friend.

My life has taken a slower pace.  You can't rush babies…and you absolutely should not rush whatever moments you get to have with your little ones.  I realize that I am truly blessed to be able to stay home with my son.  Not everyone has this opportunity and I will not take a moment of this life for granted. 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Two Months

I can't believe my sweet boy is already 2 months old.

2 months of good-morning giggles...

2 months of adventure and discovery...

2 months of brotherly love and becoming a family...

2 months of tiny little hands...

2 months of precious little toes... still my heart.  :)