Home is Where the Love Is

Turning a house into a home…

It’s been a while…

Wow – it’s been over 3 months since I’ve posted anything – I’m a bad blogger!

There have been a few changes around the house these past few months – mostly small things, like rearranging rooms, taking down wallpaper, and choosing paint colors.

Christmas 2012 105 Christmas 2012 106 Christmas 2012 112

It’s a work in progress, but we’re getting there! I’ll post more updates as we begin to paint and “finish” with our projects.

As the holidays near, I hope to post more often. For now, I’ll share some pictures from our decorating fun.

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(Anyone else lay under their tree after it’s been decorated?)

What-a-Great-Website Wednesday! Week 16

We in the A Family have decided to Make The Switch – from red meat to turkey.

That sounds very official, but it’s really not. We’re not strict about it at all. We still occasionally eat burgers, but for the most part, we’re switching to turkey. Why, you may ask? I won’t start lecturing about the harm caused by eating red meat; I won’t tell you that eating red meat will cause your unborn children to grow extra limbs; I won’t tell you the benefits of making the switch yourself. We’re making the switch because we want to. Yep, it’s just that simple.

I had my first turkey burger a few months ago, and I didn’t know what to expect. It was a Jennie-O Seasoned Turkey Burger and it was incredible. I had to check out Jennie-O after that. When I came across the Jennie-O website, I found it really helpful and informative. They have recipes, information about cooking with turkey, and a fun way to find recipes based on what you’re craving. They even have recipes from around the world that you can make using their products.

Another thing I like about this site is that they’re not anti-red meat. They won’t tell you that you shouldn’t eat red meat, or even that their products are the best. On one of their pages, they state: “We’re on a mission to show the world how easy and delicious it is to eat well. So go ahead and try it—simply switch to turkey in your favorite meals for a tasty way to eat better.”

I hope you enjoy Jennie-O!

What-a-Great-Website Wednesday! Week 15

Wow! It’s hard to believe it’s Week 15 of great websites! How time flies…

Today’s awesome website is one full of fun fonts! Dafont.com features a wide variety of fonts that you can download and use on your blog, for crafts, recipes, and more!

There are Fancy fonts, Techno fonts, fonts with Foreign Looks – and the cool thing is, you can type in your name to preview each font. (After seeing your name so many times, it starts to look really weird. This is normal. And amusing.) The website also features Cartoon fonts that include pictures of your favorite animated characters; and Dingbats (or pictures) including television shows, music, logos, nature, etc. These would be great to use for labels to help you get organized!

The fonts on dafont.com are easy to download; after you find a font you like, simply click “Download” on the right side of your screen; click “Okay” to save the file; in the Downloads box (for Firefox users), right click the download. When the window opens that contains the file, double-click on it. A window should appear that will give you the option to Print or Install. After installing the font, you will be able to use it in all of your typing programs, such as Microsoft Word.

I had some fun playing with the fonts…

There are literally thousands of fonts you can choose from, and the best part is – they’re free!

Happy font hunting!

What-a-Great-Website Wednesday! Week 14

Good afternoon, everyone! I had a difficult time coming up with a website for today until my sister suggested one. Today’s site is just for fun – no helpful hints or yummy recipes.

A few years ago, some friends of ours told us about this website. To some of you, this website will be ridiculous; a waste of time. Well, to be honest, it IS ridiculous, but it is far from a waste of time. This site is meant to make you laugh, and who doesn’t need to laugh? After all, they say laughter is the best medicine.

This week’s website is HomestarRunner.com! If it’s your first time visiting the website, you’ll find Toons, Games, information about the Characters, and more! My personal favorite is Strong Bad’s Emails. (This one never gets old. )

Yes, this website is just for kicks and giggles. Who doesn’t need more kicks and giggles in their life?

(I’ll try to find a more serious website for next week! ;-))

Have a great week!

Two New Recipes!

I tried two new recipes for dinner last night, and because they were a success, I thought I would share them! The first recipe is for slow cooked macaroni and cheese. I was looking for recipes using elbow macaroni, but I also wanted a way to use up some tomatoes. We have quite a few tomatoes – more than we know what to do with. We’ve made tomato pie, tomato sandwiches, fried tomatoes, and eaten them plain. Finding a recipes that I could do in the crock pot AND use tomatoes – I hit the jackpot.

As with most recipes I make, I changed a few of the ingredients. Normally, I like to follow a recipe exactly as written the first time I try it, but I didn’t have all of the ingredients, so I used what I had.

Farmhouse Macaroni and Cheese
~ 3 cups cooked elbow macaroni, rinsed and drained (keep in mind that macaroni doubles once it has been cooked, so I measured 1 1/2 cups of dry macaroni)
~ 2 T bacon bits
~ 1/4 cup chopped red onion (I omitted this)
~ 1 can stewed tomatoes (as I mentioned, I used real tomatoes; this was easier than I thought, as you can simply use 1 1/4 cups diced tomato and 1 cup of liquid)
~ 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (I used 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese and 1/2 cup Mexican Blend shredded cheese because it’s what I had on hand)
~ 1 can cream of mushroom soup (I had cream of chicken)

Their instructions: In a slow cooker combine macaroni, bacon bits, onion, undrained stewed tomatoes and Cheddar cheese. Pour mushroom soup over top. Mix well to combine. Cover and cook on low 8 hours. Mix well before serving.

My instructions: Use crock pot liner or grease crock pot with cooking spray. Combine bacon bits, onion (optional), tomatoes, cheese, and soup; mix well. Cook on high for 8 hours or on low for 4 hours. Do not add elbow macaroni until the last 30-40 minutes of cooking time. Stir and serve.

This recipe was good! I will definitely try it again, and maybe alter the ingredients even more. I’d like to try it with flavored tomatoes and other types of cheeses. The great thing about simple recipes is that you can experiment with them and make them your own.

The second recipe I used last night was homemade potato bread. We LOVE potato bread, so when I found this recipe from Baking Bites, I was beyond thrilled. I haven’t made bread often, as there’s a lot of work involved, but I will say – it’s worth it in the end!

Potato Bread
~ 1/4 cup warm water (110F)
~ 1 packet active dry yeast
~ 1/2 cup water
~ 1/2 cup milk (I used powdered milk because we didn’t have regular)
~ 1/2 cup instant potato flakes
~ 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
~ 2 tsp salt
~ 1 tbsp oil or butter (optional)
~ Extra milk for brushing top of loaf (optional)

Combine yeast with 1/4 cup warm water until foamy, about 10 minutes.

Add yeast mixture to milk, water, potato, 1 cup flour, oil and salt in an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mixing on a low speed, add remaining flour until dough comes away from the sides of the bowl. Add a bit more flour, if necessary.

Knead by hand on a floured surface until elastic and smooth, about 5 minutes. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl to rise until doubled, 1 – 1 1/2 hours.

Gently deflate dough and shape into a rectangle. Place dough into a greased loaf pan (9×5) and let rise, covered with a dish towel, for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375F. Brush loaf with a bit of milk, if using. Bake loaf for 30 minutes.

Remove from loaf pan and cover top of loaf with foil to prevent over-browning. Place directly on oven rack for 15 more minutes, or until bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Let cool before slicing. Store well wrapped.

This was awesome! It has a different flavor than store-bought potato bread, but it was still delicious! If you have the time and are willing to make your own bread, I would recommend giving this recipe a try.

For more great recipes, check out Baking Bites!

What-a-Great-Website Wednesday! Week 13

This week’s website is pretty obvious, but a great one nonetheless! It’s Pinterest!

Just the other day, I was working in the Return Room (where we return and cart the library books – yeah, a no-brainer), when I heard my co-workers talking in the next room. Normally, they’re out in the library helping customers or on the computers, so hearing a conversation among them is rare. I go around the corner to find a co-worker around my age teaching our older co-workers about Pinterest. I love my job.

If you’re familiar with Pinterest, you know how amazing it is. I have found countless recipes, organizing ideas, money-saving tips, and I even bought a dress that a friend recently pinned. The great thing about Pinterest is that you can make it as basic or as detailed as you want. For example, you can have a “Recipes” board, or you can create boards such as “Chocolate Desserts,” “Slow Cooker Recipes,” “Weeknight Recipes,” etc. But be warned – it can be extremely addictive.

Since joining Pinterest, I have had many “Why didn’t I think of that?!” moments. Here are some of the genius ideas I have found.

A great way to cover your router!

A spaghetti jar for cupcake wrappers – such a great idea!

A tackle box used to store batteries.

These are just a few of the plethora of brilliant ideas you’ll find on Pinterest! And now, for a bit of Pinterest humor…

If you haven’t yet, you should check out Pinterest! Happy pinning!

What-a-Great-Website Wednesday! Week 12

This week’s website is geared more toward teachers and parents with younger children. I came across this website a few years back and have loved it ever since! Activity Village has everything from puzzles and coloring pages to party ideas and recipes.

The activity themes for children include animals, back to school, teacher appreciation, sports, and more. There are hundreds of coloring pages available for holidays, special events, learning activities, or just everyday fun. Right now, the foremost theme is the Summer Olympics in London. Children can do crossword puzzles, crafts, and choose from Olympic-themed recipes.

Later in the year, you can find tons of Christmas activities, recipes, decorations, and even gift tags kids can color. One of the things I like about Activity Village is that they also provide Nativity printables and coloring pages, and the Nativity Story.

I hope you enjoy this site as much as I do!

What-a-Great-Website Wednesday! Week 11

Wow. It’s been two weeks since I’ve posted anything. Sorry, guys. I’m a bad blogger.

This week’s website is actually new to me – I just found it yesterday! I was looking for organization tips on Pinterest, and several of the pins were linked to IHeart Organizing. This site has so many wonderful (and inexpensive!) ideas for bringing a little more order to life’s chaos.

The one organizing tip that really grabbed my attention was a snack bin. While this could be more for a house with young children, I think everyone could benefit from it. Think about it…how many times have you grabbed a bag of chips or a pack of cookies, intending to only eat a few, only to realize half an hour later that half the bag is gone? It’s okay…it happens to the best of us.

The little containers are Ball Plastic 8-ounce Freezer Jars. They’re a little over $1 for both the jar and the lid – a great deal, considering you can put them in the freezer and dishwasher. An added bonus: if you toss one into a backpack or purse, the snack won’t get crushed like it would if it was in a plastic baggie.

If you get a chance, explore IHeart Organizing. You’ll be amazed by all of the tips and tutorials. I’ve had a lot of “Why did I think of that?!” moments since discovering this gem of a website.

Happy organizing!

What-a-Great-Website Wednesday! Week 10

Hello, friends! It’s Wednesday again!

This week’s website is a lot of fun! It’s TeeFury.com! They’re catchphrase is “Tee today, gone tomorrow.” They offer a different shirt everyday and they’re only $10!

The themes of the shirts vary from television shows to movies to video games and more. Artists are able to submit their shirt designs and receive a profit for the shirts that are sold. We get cool shirts, they get money. It’s a win-win!

I’ve bought several shirts as gifts for others, and just the other day, I finally bought one for myself.

Yep, the Goonies. Love it.

TeeFury is a site I check every day – you never know when you’re going to find a shirt you love, or a shirt that’s great for a family member or friend. You can look through the archives and see every shirt TeeFury has had available. Some artists have their designs available on their own websites, so even if you can’t buy it on TeeFury, you may be able to buy it directly from the artist. Keep in mind that TeeFury runs on Eastern Standard Time, so those of you on the west coast will still be able to buy a shirt after midnight. Fortunately, they recently added “After Hours,” which means you can buy the shirt from the day before for a limited time. It ends at 8am EST and the shirts are $13 instead of $10, but it’s worth it if you missed a shirt you really wanted to buy. Plus, they ship all over the world, and if they don’t ship to your country, they’ll see what they can do to you your shirt.

If you’re an artist and want to submit a design to TeeFury, they’re always looking for new designs.

Here are a few of the shirt designs that have been purchased in my family.


Squash Muffins!

Here it is – the recipe for squash muffins, as promised. I had a great time making these (and an even better time sampling them).

Yellow Squash Muffins
1 pound squash, cut into one-inch slices
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Place 1 inch of water in a saucepan; add squash. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 5 minutes or until tender. Drain and mash; stir in the butter and egg. In a bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Stir in the squash mixture just until moistened.

Fill greased muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack. Yields 1 dozen.

I guess those are one-inch slices. I’m never very precise when it comes to that kind of thing.

The smell of the squash cooking brought back so many memories. It’s been so long since my grandmother made squash muffins.

After adding the butter and egg. Very yellow…

Boring white mix of the dry ingredients.

Tip: If you haven’t tried it before, try using an ice cream scoop for muffins and cupcakes. I filled these in about a minute flat. Literally. It’s a lot cleaner too. Make sure to use cooking spray on the ice cream scoop for easier transfer.

So beautiful…

They were delicious! Thick and moist, and just sweet enough. Made me very nostalgic.

I hope you can make these – it’s a great recipe! It’s one that’s been in my family for years and one that we’ll continue to pass on.

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