Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Recipe: Peppermint Mocha Cookies

So I was sitting around the other day dreaming about Starbucks Peppermint Mochas (as I tend to do all holiday season), and suddenly (as if divinely inspired) I thought, "If only I could make these... at home...in cookie form!"

I was inspired by the Mint Chocolate Cookies Brittany posted the other day. But with a baby at home, just the thought of making the different layers was exhausting.

So I spent half a morning searching for the perfect recipe for Peppermint Mochas in cookie form, that met the following criteria:

1. Chocolate + Coffee + Peppermint.  I found a lot with 2/3 but I needed all 3
2. Quick and Easy....no different layers, no melting chocolate..I don't have that kind of time.
3. Doesn't use too much butter...because the dog ate 3 out of the 4 sticks of my last package...uggghh..
4. Clearly looks like a mint-chocolate cookie. I didn't want to surprise anybody who thought they were eating a purely chocolate cookie

I searched all over the internet and couldn't find the perfect recipe. So I combined a few to make my own. Oh my goodness...they are amazing! It's like nibbling on a peppermint mocha anytime you want...and what could be better than that?? Perhaps nibbling on a peppermint mocha cookie while drinking a peppermint mocha...whoa...now there's a thought!

Peppermint Mocha Cookies

1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1 T. espresso powder* dissolved in 2 T water
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup Flour
1/3 cup cocoa
1/4 tsp. salt

*Used 1 package of Starbucks VIA powder coffee mix


1/2 cup Powdered Sugar
4 T butter, softened
2 tsp. milk
1/4 tsp. vanilla.
1-2 Drops Peppermint Extract (a little goes a looong way!)
**Small volume, so beat until smooth in a small bowl.
Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream butter, sugar, egg yolk, milk, and vanilla. Combine flour, cocoa, and salt. Combine with butter mixture. Shape dough into 1 inch balls. Place on lightly greased cookie sheet. Press thumb gently in center of each cookie. Bake 10-12 minutes or until set. As soon as cookies are removed from oven, spoon about 1/4 teaspoon filling in thumbprint.  Cool on wire rack.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Just wanted to share because I thought it was funny :-)  This is me "rolling-out" pizza dough. I think it's genius!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Different Kind of Cookie

I saw Barefoot Contessa make these on her show and thought they looked pretty good. I was looking for a cookie that was a little different. These are like fruit cake but in cookie form. To be honest I've never even tried fruit cake before. I know it gets a bad wrap but it definitely is festive and from the reviews I read everyone seemed to love these, and they were a great alternative to fruitcake. They were flaky and crispy from the butter and chewy from the fruit and not too sweet. Worth a try if you are looking for something a little different and fun.

A few comments:
- I'm not a fan of cherries so I used cranberries instead, I think the cherry flavor can be a bit over powering so I would recommend cranberries.
- I added a little less cloves because its such a strong spice and added a little nutmeg and cinnamon to make it more holidayish.
- I used walnuts because that's what I had, it was good.
- Plan ahead because you need to let the fruit sit overnight in prepared liquid.

Dried Fruit Cookies


  • 1/2 pound dried figs
  • 1/4 pound raisins
  • 2 ounces candied cherries, coarsely chopped
  • 2 ounces dried apricots, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 6 ounces chopped pecans
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup superfine sugar
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 extra-large egg
  • 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour


Snip off the hard stems of the figs with scissors or a small knife and coarsely chop the figs. In a medium bowl, combine the figs, raisins, cherries, apricots, honey, sherry, lemon juice, pecans, and a pinch of salt. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit overnight at room temperature.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, cloves, superfine sugar, and brown sugar on medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the egg and mix until incorporated. With the mixer still on low, slowly add the flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt just until combined. Don't overmix! Add the fruits and nuts, including any liquid in the bowl. Divide the dough in half and place each half on the long edge of a 12 by 18-inch piece of parchment or waxed paper. Roll each half into a log, 1 1/2 to 1 3/4-inch thick, making an 18-inch-long roll. Refrigerate the dough for several hours, or until firm.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

With a small, sharp knife, cut the logs into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Place the slices 1/2-inch apart on ungreased sheet pans and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly golden.

link to recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/dried-fruit-cookies-recipe/index.html


Saturday, December 11, 2010

A Few Blog Updates

Hey guys...just wanted to let you know I added a few new things to the blog.

One is the "LinkWithin" at the end of each post. It offers some suggestions for posts of similar topics to check out. A nice way to navigate around the blog.

The other is the "Labels" on the right sidebar. There is a spot in the bottom right corner when you are writing a post to put in a  "Label", basically the category the post falls under, ie. recipes, crafts, homemaking, etc. We should also put our names. Can you go back and add them for the posts you've already written when you have time?

That's it for now. Great job on the posts! I'm getting some great ideas and encouragement from you both. I'm trying to finalize my font color for posts. What do you guys think? Purple is very B...Green is very Teppy...I'm not sure what I am. Am I just plain black??


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Freezer Cooking: Getting Started

So speaking of getting back on track..I know I've been promising to give you guys some tips on my freezer cooking for months now. Well, the thing is, I did such a good job of stocking up before the baby was born, I'm just now, 5 months later, needing to do some cooking again!
I got the idea from MoneySavingMom and it's one of those things that really changed my life for the better. It is so great to be able to have hot, homemade meals every night with hardly any prep time. And it's not just for dinners..also works great for breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and desserts. It also is one of my tricks for keeping our grocery budget around $40/week.  This last stock-up probably took me around 4 hours spead out during baby nap times and cost probably around $75-$100, I splurged a little since I haven't done any major cooking in literally months. I won't have to do any major cooking now (unless I want to, which is part of the fun..taking off the pressure to HAVE to cook) for the next month.

I'll give you some of my favorite tips and recipes. It's probably a little overwhelming, so I'll break it down into a few posts.

Tip #1:  The biggest tip and easiest way to start is to make at least double of something you are making anyways. For example, if you are making a lasagna for dinner, make 2-3 and freeze the others. It's hardly any extra work and now you have another meal ready to go. And then freeze dinner leftovers in lunch size portions for you husbands to grab for lunches.

Tip #2:  Take one ingredient and use in a number of different dishes. I usually focus on one meat at a time, and base that on what's on sale.  

For example:
Ground Beef:
Meat Loaf (make a big batch and freeze in single meal-sized portions)
Meatballs (freeze in a bag and serve with pasta or use for meatball subs)
Taco Meat
Brown Bag Burritos (these are awesome. Individually wrapped burritos ready to grab-and-go. I usually add rice too to make them a little more hardy)

*Fajitas (cook with peppers and onions and seasoning)
*Cooked, breaded chicken breasts. Can use reheat and serve as is or use for other dishes like chicken parm.
*Chicken breasts frozen in a marinade (this is one of my favorite tips) bbq, teriyaki, italian dressing, taco sauce, curry sauce, etc.  I usually always do this right when I get home from the grocery store. It's a small step. But sometimes just deciding what to make is so tough when you're exhausted and don't feel like cooking.  I'll go.. "okay, I have some chicken breasts in BBQ sauce..I'll through that in the oven, heat up some baked beans and serve with some rolls." And dinner is done with 5-10 minutes prep time and little thought.

This might be the easiest way to start. I'll make an entire bag of rice and use it to make different types of meals:
Asian - veggies, teriyaki sauce, chicken
Mexican - brown bag burritos, or make mexican rice with a little seasoning
Indian - curry sauce, chicken, any veggies on hand
Side dishes...cooked rice freezes pretty well and good to have on hand for a side dish.

Hope that helps to get you guys started. Let me know if you try it and have any success!!


B's Secrets to Easy Entertaining

So I'm having what is really my first girls night. I've had my girlfriends over before of course, but I've never had an official "girls night party". And there are a few new girls coming that I've recently become friends with. I'm really looking forward to it! I plan to make it super Christmasy! 

I got stressed for a matter of a second, trying to think of what to make for food and wanting to impress everyone. But I quickly realized that the food isn't what it's all about. It is about getting the girls together and enjoying eachothers company! If I got stressed about what I would make every time I wanted to have people over I would probably never have company! 

So I think I found the secret to easy entertaining. Taking very simple ingredients and recipes and making it fancy! Tiffany, I loved all those recipes you sent me and those were exactly what I was looking for; simple, old-school food for large crowds that everyone loves! Such as dips and the classic cheese & veggie platter. I don't know how many times I've had people over and made the most basic, easiest thing in the world, and people would just "Wow" over it. I was always shocked. "Really? Its just BBQ chicken..."  But my secret weapon is to present it really beautifully on some fancy dishes and always garnish! Really fools your guest into thinking its something special and complex that took you forever to make!

I think you guys know Austin and my style by now. Laid-back and comfy! And my food is no different. I like to serve things my guest maybe wouldn't expect, but makes them feel all warm and fuzzy and right at home! For example a big pot of soup. I would say my second biggest tip to fun and easy entertaining is to do things that are YOU and that you are comfortable with. We aren't all Giada de Laurentiis! (even though I secretly wish I was) and I think your guest will really enjoy your own personal style. 


Getting Back on Track

Sorry I've been MIA for awhile. I've been in sort of a weird place lately...a cross between a funk and feeling really great, like I'm coming out of the survival mode fog and getting my life back on track now since the baby. I think I'm just getting to a place where I feel like I have things a little more under control and can start thinking about being productive again..which is great and exciting..but I don't even know where to start. For one, I've been trying to cut back on computer time until I can learn to control myself better. I was starting to waste so much time.

I'm so proud of you guys for keeping things going here! I'm excited to try those cookies Steph (and I'm so in love with the white peppermint mochas at starbucks too! I spilled one all over my car the other day and didn't even care because it smelled so good...at first....not so much now).

And I'm excited to hear how your party turns out B. I totally agree about the fine art of simple entertaining. I want my guests to feel relaxed and not like I'm all stressed out trying to throw the perfect party for them but that I'm just happy to have their company. 

I'll try to get back to regular posting. I'm working on a series on the Freezer Cooking I've been doing lately, and I have some great new recipes to share from that too.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Best Chocolate Chip Cookies of All Time!!

Ok you guys have got to try these cookies! Guaranteed best chocolate chip cookies you've ever had! They are a Paula Deen recipe in my Betty Crocker cookie booklet. 

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 C. butter

1 1/2 C. creamy peanut butter

2 1/2 C. packed brown sugar

2 whole eggs

1 egg white

1/2 C. sour cream

2 t. vanilla

3 1/2 C. Better for Bread flour (* I used all-purpose flour and they came out awesome)

3 t. baking soda

1/2 t. salt

1 bag (12 oz) semisweet chocolate chips

1 C. mini semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat together butter & peanut butter until creamy. Add brown sugar, beat until creamy. Beat in eggs, egg white, sour cream, and vanilla. gradually beat in salt, baking soda, and flour. Stir in chocolate chips.

2. On ungreased cookie sheet, drop dough by heaping tablespoon, 2 inches apart.

3. Bake 10-15 min.or until lightly browned.

Seriously. Do yourself a favor and make these. You're welcome.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Yummy Cookies!

Chocolate-Mint Layered Cookies

3/4 C. butter

3/4 C. sugar

1 egg

1 t. vanilla

2 1/4  C. all-purpose flour

1/4 t. baking powder

1/4 t. salt

9 oz. bag semisweet chocolate chips

1 T. all-purpose flour

9 drops green food color

1 t. mint extract

1 t shortening or canola oil

1. In large bowl, beat butter and sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until creamy. Beat in egg and vanilla. On low speed, beat in baking powder, salt, and 2 1/4 C. flour until dough forms. Divide dough in half (about 1 1/4 C. each) place 1 portion in medium bowl.

2. In small microwavable bowl, microwave 1/2 C. of the chocolate chips on High 30-60 seconds or until melted. (*I made it 3/4 C. chocolate) Stir until smooth, cool. Add melted chocolate to dough in medium bowl; knead until well combined. To remaining dough, add 1 T. flour, the food color and mint extract; mix until blended. Wrap each portion of dough in waxed paper; refrigerate 30 minutes.

3. Pat chocolate dough into rectangle shapes. Place between sheets of waxed paper (*don't use flour. You need dough sticky). Roll to 10x6 inch rectangle, patting into shape with fingers as needed to retain rectangle shape. Repeat with green dough. Remove wax paper on dough, except for one bottom sheet on counter. Layer dough one on top of another. Press down firmly. Cut 3 equal stripes lengthwise in dough. Stack stripes so they are layered and press down firmly. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.

4. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cut dough into 1/4-inch slices. Trim dough as needed. On ungreased cookie sheet, place slices 2-inches apart. Bake 10-12 minutes or until edges start to brown. Cool completely.

5. In small microwavable bowl, microwave remaining 1 C. chocolate chips and add the shortening (*I didn't have shortening so I used canola oil and it worked just fine). Melt in microwave. Dip one edge of cookie in chocolate. Cool completely.

I was in the market for a different kind of Christmas cookie. I was bored with the traditional sugar cookie and chocolate chip. I wanted something different but still festive. I came across this recipe in a Betty Crocker Christmas cookie booklet and thought I would give it a go. It was fun to make something different and boy are they yummy! Nice and chocolaty and the mint isn't too over-powering. 

Mint is my new favorite this season! I used to not like mint, well I shouldn't say I didn't like it, I just never gave it a chance! It never sounded appealing to me. But that all changed when I had my first peppermint mocha at Starbucks. It was like Christmas in a cup! Now I think mint is the taste of the Holidays and I want to do everything in mint!

I think you gals should try this recipe. They are definitely a "Wow" cookie because of the layered mint and chocolate, and I guarantee any place you bring them they will be one-of-a-kind and quite special. Happy baking!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

No one knows Christmas like Dickens! :)  What I find so amazing about Christmas is that it is the one time of year where the world is united in joy and love. I'm not saying we have world peace, but most people do seem to be in a special kind of mood. I think it is so amazing to walk into almost any store and see decorations everywhere and Christmas music playing. In the evenings people are home with their families around the Christmas tree, making cookies. It is the one time of year where almost every household is contributing to at least one Christmas tradition at any given time of the Christmas season. And what I thought of when I was reading that quote in A Christmas Carol is that the magic of Christmas expands not only geographically, but time as well. People feel the same way about Christmas today, as they did around the turn of the century. Because Christmas is love and happiness, and that will never go out of style!

Those are great memories, Steph! And would definitely make my list as well. Going to find our Christmas tree was always so special and magical. Is it me or do Christmas trees have an energy about them? Like they are almost alive, just waiting for some nice family to take them home. And you have to pick the one that really speaks to you! Just me? Ok. Ha I used to get so attached to the Christmas tree. It was always so sad for me to see it out on the curb after the Holidays. Because it brought us so much joy. Do you guys remember how we used to have our "secret fort" behind the tree? We thought we were pretty sneaky!

Another one of my favorite memories was the Christmas we got our doll house. After Dad spent probably hours putting it together, I remember sitting in the den playing with it. I was so excited about that doll house! I remember we got a lot of snow that year on Christmas (at least I think so, I could be making that up to have the perfect memory) and there was Christmas music playing, and Mom was in the kitchen cooking. It is a really special memory to me!


Lessons from a Christmas Carol

Every year at Christmas I want to read A Christmas Carol but never actually get around to doing it. So this year I am going to do it. I started reading it last night and here is an excerpt from the book below. I really like the way the nephew in the story explains Christmas.

"Nephew!" returned the uncle, sternly, "keep Christmas in your own way, and let me keep it in mine."
"Keep it!" repeated Scrooge's nephew.  "But you don't keep it."
"Let me leave it alone, then," said Scrooge.  "Much good may it do you!  Much good it has ever done you!"
"There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say," returned the nephew.  "Christmas among the rest.  But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round -- apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that -- as a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.  And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!"

It makes sense that a holidays that celebrates the birth of Christ who was perfect in love, would be a holiday that is full of love, joy, peace, and beauty. No wonder we get that warm fuzzy feeling around Christmas time. It really is the one time of year that people seem to slow down and focus on family and reflect on their lives and "open their shut-ups hearts freely". Hopefully it can be a feeling that carries people throughout the year and can keep the peace and joy in their hearts.

A few of my favorite memories off the top of my head (because I have tons)...
- An obvious one is dancing around to the Charlie Brown Christmas CD while decorating the tree. I remember one year in particular, we were decorating the tree and mom was baking cookies and we were watching Christmas shoes on TV. The was an exceptionally magical year.

- One of my very favorite memories. I'm not sure why but this is one of my most magical memories. Me, dad, and Britt went to get a tree from the YMCA. Not sure why we went there but we did. Tiff you were home sick. I remember it was dark out and the snow was falling heavily and Britt and I walked around the aisles of trees pretending we were in an enchanted forest. When we got home the house was all clean and the lights were dim and there was a Christmas candle burning. I was in an exceptionally Christmasy mood so I went into my room and created my own winter wonderland. I'm not sure if you guys remember that or not, but I used to just go nuts with decorations in my room. I used to LOVE doing that. Then I would have the family walk into my Christmas world and "ooo" and "ahhh" all the work I did. For some reason the night really stands out in my mind.

I have lots more but that's just a start :)


Thursday, December 2, 2010

I haven't forgotten about the blog, I'm just not very good with it I don't think. I'm never quite sure what to say. But I guess that will only get better with practice. Plus I usually don't have a computer or a camera. Austin and I are looking into a new laptop for me so I know that will make a huge difference! But I have been trying my best to keep up with my "plan" for myself. I'm trying to constantly work on ways to better myself and my life. Notice I use the word "trying". I start to stray here and there, but at least I have a plan and I'm aware when I start to stray. It's always in the back of my mind. This month I want to focus on Christmas. And I mean REALLY focus on it. About everything Christmas means. The happiness and warmth, love for family and friends, the cozy peaceful feeling it brings. The pure magic of it! I really don't want the holiday to just pass on by with out really embracing it! I want to do at least one Christmasy thing every day. Even if its just relaxing by the Christmas tree with a cup of hot chocolate and letting my mind wander. I'm trying to do more meaningful things with my evenings. And what I mean by "meaningful" doesn't always mean it has to take a lot of effort, or any effort at all really. Like I said sometimes just sitting quietly, with the TV off, is the most wonderful thing you can do for yourself.

I was wondering if you guys have a favorite Christmas memory. It will give you something to think about that's for sure! Because I know we always had the most amazing Christmases. In fact I'm going to reflect on this one myself for a while and get back to you!


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Immanuel and I watched A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving last night and it was the perfect atmosphere setting video for Thanksgiving. Holidays just aren't the same without watching the Charlie Brown movies. Check it out here at hulu:


It's great to listen to in the background while you are cooking :)

Have a great Thanksgiving! I'll miss you guys!


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Great Crowd Pleaser

Last night my group of high school friends got together for a girls night at my friend Lauren's house. We all brought an appetizer to share and what we wanted to drink. I went through a TON of recipes trying to find something that would be tasty, satisfying, not too weird, and easy enough to make. Its hard making something for a group that you think everyone will like. Since I've known my friends forever I know that they don't like to be super adventurous with their food, so I thought, what is something everyone loves? Pizza of course! So I found this Giada recipe that was a hit and it's super easy to make. I followed the recipe exactly and it came out perfect. Immanuel loved it too. I think next time I make it I will experiment a little and maybe add sausage or pepperoni (Immanuel's favorite) and green peppers. You can really do almost anything. It's a fun recipe that you can be creative with. Keep this in mind next time you need to feed a crowd! 

Recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/venetian-rolled-pizza-recipe/index.html


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Yay! I did it! I figured out how to sign in! Sorry I haven't posted anything. This whole blogging world is new territory to me. Don't expect anything fancy for awhile. I don't even have a camera at the moment to put up pictures...

I LOVE the Thanksgiving and Christmas ideas!! Who posted those? Be sure to sign your name at the bottom. Infact I think I'm going to go ahead and do some of those ideas. I don't ever think Holidays should just pass on by. You really need to make a point to make them extra special and magical! The Holidays go by so quickly, you really have to make every day count!

Thought I would update you on my plans for this month... It's a new month and a new chance to start fresh! Thats how I look at it anyway. Each month is a chance to start off on a brand new foot. Especially if the last month was kind of a blur, which was my October, with my wedding and then vacation. I think this month I'm going to work on my Spirit! Which is now my category for mind, body, and soul. And really just my overall outlook on the world. I have been feeling a little down and crabby the last couple days. It hit me when I snapped at my husband about something stupid and he said "why are you so angry lately?". That really made me feel bad. He's never said anything like that to me before and I certainly don't want to be known as an "angry" person. I want to be the person who is happy and smiling all the time and makes people feel good! 

I got as far as planning out my day today and tomorrow, then I will have a rough plan for the next week then even and overall plan for myself for the month. I'm going to start today by going to the gym, because I haven't worked out in awhile and as much as I don't want to go sometimes, it always makes me feel better when I'm done! Then I am going to come home, shower and gets dressed and actually put some makeup on for a change! Then I will force myself to make a cup of tea, then sit out in the backyard with a good magazine and enjoy this BEAUTIFUL day! I'm starting to find that is the key to sanity. Sometimes you have to force yourself to just stop, and have the perfect little quiet moment.. Then I will get the house cleaned up all nice, because that always makes me feel so much better as well, then make a nice dinner for my husband!

Tomorrow I think I am going to explore downtown Charleston! I'll keep you updated! 


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Craft Ideas - Christmas

That site has a ton of great ideas! Here's a link with template for christmas cards. Making homemade cards is on my "super-mom" to-do list :)   This would be an easy way to start.

And I really want to make an advent calendar to countdown the days to christmas. Do you guys remember that little cardboard one Mom had..where you'd open a little door or window each day leading up to christmas and there'd be a little christmas scene behind it. I LOVED that thing. It was so fun for building anticipation and excitement leading up to christmas day!

I want something that combines the countdown with each day getting a new little ornament to hang on a little tree and some christmas activity for the day, ie. make cookies, drive around and look at lights with a cup of hot chocolate, watch a christmas movie, play a board game, etc.

This site has a lot of good ideas for making an advent calendar.

I like the idea of finding 25 little stockings, numbering them, then having the ornament and a piece of paper with the activity inside. Then I'd just need to find the ornaments and a little tree to have nearby.

I also really wanted to make homemade gifts of some kind for my friends this year. I love giving gifts but don't want to spend a lot of money of give something too nice where the other person feels obligated to reciprocate. I think these gifts in a jar ideas are perfect.

all crafts 48 Homemade Gifts in a Jar

Craft Ideas - thanksgiving decorations

I'm always finding fun crafty ideas when going through blogs..and then always lose the links. I thought it would be nice to post them here to both keep track of the links and to share with you guys. Then we can do a post if we actually end up making any of them (**fingers crossed that I actually follow through!**)

I love this idea and it looks pretty easy. I really want to work on bringing a more personalized touch to the home to surround me with more family pictures and things with meaning.
Thanks Board

I was thinking you could also do one with your last name and hang family pictures below. I think I would just buy those little wooden letter from Joann's.

(and check out this blog for inspiration for the design of ours!!) (Check out that "posts by author tab!")

I love this "be thankful" board also. I'm really getting into making my own holiday decorations.

You could do this for any holiday. You could also make it on a piece of paper instead of the board and use a frame you already have (or get one at the dollar store).

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Storage Container Tips


Good question about where to find the best storage containers. You've come to the right place. I'm (borderline) obsessed with them. One of my biggest dreams is to be completely cardboard box free in our house. We are getting close!

J. Terence Thompson 18-Gallon Slate Blue Tote
For plastic storage totes,  my favorite places is, surprisingly,  Lowes! I try to find those standard size (I think 18 gallon) plastic totes that I use for most of my storage for around $5, like this one here. I've had the best luck there.

Target and Walmat don't have nearly as big of a selection as Lowe's. They have a whole huge aisle (or 2!) dedicated to all kind of storage bins, boxes, crates, whatever your heart desires. I'm giddy just thinking of it!

One of my organization tips that I loooove is having different colored storage bins for different purposes. It's so awesome to be able to just look at the bins and know what they are for. Christmas decorations are in red totes with green lids, Fall decorations in orange totes, mementos in blue, seasonal clothes in gray. Soooooo much better than a sea of cardboard boxes!

I used to be kind of intimidated by home improvement stores until I started going with Brian. But, Lowes especially (Home Depot, not so much) has a huge selection of home decor items too like (tons!) of curtains, rugs, and mirrors.  Check them out while you are there, if you need anything.

My favorite place for smaller organizing items is...Dollar Tree! There is one by me that has almost a whole aisle of plastic baskets, drawer organizers, and even fabric crates! It's AWESOME!! (sorry.. I get a little excited about organizing :) Definitely worth checking out. Also a good place for holiday decorations, cards, picture hangers, and umbrellas.

Important tip...assess your needs first and go shopping with a plan.  It can be a little overwhelming and easy to just start buying up everything and then trying to find a use for it. You can easily spend a lot more than necessary.

Good luck! I'm proud of you for getting organized! Let me know if you actually find anything at those stores or if you find an even better place. I haven't actually bought any new storage containers in awhile.  And I'd love to see before and after shots of your progress! And I'm on the hunt for large storage baskets for the baby's room bookshelf...no luck so far at Target, Walmart, Marshall's, or Michael's..maybe I'll check Lowe's next.  Let me know if you see any while you are out!

Monday, October 25, 2010

I am focusing this week on getting organized! Tiff, post what you used to organize (i.e. bins you used...etc.) and where I can buy them. I know you can buy organizing stuff almost anywhere but I like to hear what works for other people. I wish I could do a weekly plan but my weeks are always changing. Like sometimes we work late and I just don't feel like coming home to cook and clean... or whatever it was I wanted to accomplish that day. And I don't want to set unrealistic goals for myself because then I feel like a failure if I don't accomplish them. I work better with mini goals that I create the day before or the day of. Yesterday I decided that today I was going to get our winter clothes more organized (sweaters and jackets take up so much room!) and also find a better place to keep our shoes and create a type of "command center" where we can keep important mail, receipts, and stuff like that. The beauty of working from home on Mondays is that while I'm capturing video (I do a lot of video editing and when a video is "capturing" I can't do anything else on my computer) I can then do other things around the apartment. Makes me feel very productive!
Looking forward to seeing/hearing what you guys are up to! Britt, post pictures of your paintings!


Weekly Plan: TT

I'm excited about getting back into planning out my goals for the week! It feels so great to give a purpose to each day so I know what to do with my "free time" while Lizzy is napping (which keeps getting shorter..we're working on that), to feel like I'm working everyday on my personal goals, and to know when my housework is "done" for the day. 

I found myself spending way too much time yesterday just thinking of all the things I wanted to do and all the different (countless, really) ways I could plan out the week. I'm working on a way to streamline that a bit...maybe at least a concrete plan for things I need to do on a regular basis like dusting, vacuuming, cleaning the bathrooms, etc. I also want to make a weekly spreadsheet template. I'll keep you posted!

So here's what I have for this week:

Weeklong Personal Goals:
1. Put my hair half-back in the morning when I get ready instead of my standard ponytail.
2. Go for a jog twice this week around the neighborhood big block.
3. Do 50 sit-ups and 10 pushups everyday.
**I'm hoping to build on my personal goals category weekly and make these things part of my daily routine...starting very small!

Daily Household Goals:

Monday 10/25:  
1) Finish rearranging family room and living room
2) Dust and vacuum downstairs and basement
3) Wash baby laundry
4) Find recipes and make something with the ground meat thawed in the fridge (I'm thinking freezer burritos and crockpot meatloaf...I'll post the recipes of what I make tomorrow)
5) Make homemade granola (I'll post the recipe..it's the best thing ever..you'll never want to buy yucky store-granola again!)

Tuesday 10/26:
1) Clean and organize nursery
(BIG project..it's a disaster area right now..I'll post before and after pictures to keep me on task): buy storage bins/baskets for bookshelf. Assign items to each basket (make labels?). Sort through rest of clothes.  Organize closet. Spray paint ottoman. Paint mirror pink? Hang pictures, curtain hooks, and shelves (Daddy).  
2) Steam clean carpet and rug in nursery and staircase

Wednesday 10/27:
1) Clear out dining room (It's becoming a storage area and landing zone for all my unfinished craft projects..yuck!)
2) Research some design ideas for dining room..starting with colors for walls and curtains
3) Finish craft projects accumulating on dining room table.

Thursday 10/28:
1) Sweep and wash hardwood floors.
2) Clean bathrooms: Hang shower curtain and picture in guest bathroom.  Find curtain to hang in master bathroom?
3) Set up my "yoga room" in guest bedroom: Set up TV and DVD player, find place to store work-out videos.
4) Pack for Florida trip

Friday 10/29:
1) Completely finish packing, have car loaded and ready to go, travel outfits set-out
2) Make ready-to-go breakfast sandwiches, lunch sandwiches, snacks packed
3) Clean out car...de-stink from dog and that time I left the windows open in the rain (oops!)
4) Get gifts ready for overnight hosts
5) Give house a quickie once-over: vacuum, clean out fridge, wipe bathrooms

Saturday 10/30:**Relax,  we're on vacation!!
When I don't have a plan I feel like I'm either wasting time trying to figure what to do, and then get nothing done...or I get a ton of things done, but don't give myself credit for it. I'm so hard on myself, always feeling like I should be doing more and like my work is never done...which means I never allow myself to fully relax. I hope having a plan helps with that. 


Sunday, October 24, 2010

How about we start with a better picture?!


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Getting Started

Hey guys! I'm so excited about our plans for sharing how to help each other get our lives in order through the blog! I've been taking baby steps to get things going, but have made some great progress!!
As you know I completed my first craft for the month! A 5 year old could have done it but I was still very proud of myself! Because I had an idea and I made it happen!

Yes it was an easy craft but it was still a lot of fun! I figure starting small is probably better anyways so I don't get overwhelmed and feel I want to quit. Even walking around Micheal's was a big accomplishment for me! Those craft stores can intimidated me. But I felt just walking around and getting acquainted with the store was a big step.

My next project will be getting back into painting. And again I'm going to start with baby steps. I am first going to pull-out all my painting supplies and see what I have. Then my next step after that will be to go buy any needed supplies.

And guess what.. I'm taking a painting class this Friday! There is a place in downtown Summerville that is offering a discounted class for military! I'm looking forward to it!!

As far as my Financial stuff has been going this month (which was the other thing I was going to work on) My first babystep assignment for myself was to get better acquainted with our Mint.com page. I am going to get in the habit of looking at it everyday. I have also created a budget for myself. And tomorrow I am going to go to the library and pick up some books on finances.

I really am proud of myself! I decided to do something and Im sticking to it! And it feels really good! As Steph said, it "puts meaning into your everyday life"!


Need to start somewhere..

We've been talking so much about getting the blog going, so I thought I would just pull the trigger and start one. If we don't do it now, we probably never will! Let's just start posting and see where it goes from there. We'll figure out what we want out of it as we go along.

For me, I just really want a place for us to 1) share what's going on in our lives; and 2) help keep each other on task with our little "life improvement" projects.  I know we've all been feeling a little lost and confused about what we want out of our "new lives" now that you two are newlyweds and things are settling down around here for me since Elizabeth was born (I'll just call her EB from now on, since that's what's you guys have been calling her..and it's much easier than typing out her full name! :) Can you believe she's already 4 months old?!?

So...what do I want to work on during the next week?....

My goal for right now is to make and post a day-by-day plan for the week tomorrow. Should involve some house cleaning and organization projects, getting the budget up and running again, and I want to get back to menu planning and freezer cooking to teach you guys how I do it and how it helps us keep to a (close to..I;m not sure, that's why I need to work on the budget!) $40/week grocery bill.

Love you girls!