Thursday, June 30, 2011

our favorite recipes

Collecting and finding recipes that are a special part of "your" own collection is something that seems pretty important once you're out on your own - I know it is to me and many of my friends.

I want people to say "I would really love some of Abby's __________" or "Abby, would you please make________ for our potluck?"

 My collection needs to be the perfect mix of favorites from my mom, from Kevin's mom and new ones we try and love.

I feel like I'm finally starting to have a good go-to collection to pull from and make/share. I made a binder to store these 5 star recipes in and from now on, if I blog a recipe, I'll let you know if it makes the "favorites" binder.

I'm not going to have any secret recipes or anything like that. I just want to grab this binder and know that opening to any random page will produce a recipe I love and am proud to make and share.

Here's the binder...

Some recipe's I've already blogged and are "favorites" worthy include:

buttercrea icing, see here
4 cheese bacon mac n cheese, see here
candy road brownies, see here
thyme potatoes au gratin, see here
easy gooey butter cake, see here
lime sherbert punch, see here
gingerbread cookies, see here
awesome pasta salad, see here
black bottom pie, see here

What are some of your favorite recipes that you want ppl to identify with as "yours"? Have you had anything of mine that you think is "favorite" worthy?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

sarah's baby shower

Last week I hosted Sarah's baby shower after weeks of prep work - I wasn't able to blog all my projects before b/c I didn't want to ruin the surprise, so prepare for lots of pics now! I love throwing parties... especially when there's a sort of theme to them and this is probably the best decorating for a party I've ever done! Unfortunatly, I didn't get many pictures of the regular food table after there was actually food on it because guests were arriving and I forgot at that point in time... but I think you'll get the idea.

This was the dessert table. I made the pennat garland from scrapbooking paper and hung a plastic tablecloth as the backdrop since we don't have any curtains up yet. The mini carrot cakes w/ cream cheese frosting and mini vanilla cakes with almond buttercream came from SugarMama Cakes - a little expensive, but O so delicious! My sister, Angela, made the chocolate cake pops. The mini cheescakes are from Sam's Club. The jordan almonds and yogurt covered pretzels are from Fresh Market.

Yum Yum Yum!

I tied a ribbon on each cake pop and added scrapbooking paper and ribbon to this wood box to display the cake pops.

I made this cake stand with Campbell's soup cans, cardboard cake circles, scrapbooking paper, and ribbon to cordinate with the rest of my decorations.

I used a scrapbook paper printed with onesies that I cut around for these cute cupcake picks.

Another picture of my scrapbook paper pennant garland.

Here's a before-the-food picture of the food table. Just image: crab puffs, bacon blue cheese stuffed mushrooms, tomato mozzerlla crustinis, veggies & hummus and a fruit tray. mmmm

I love to use flowers to decorate so there were lots of flowers!

Dessert table before the food was added. You can also see the drink table on the right. I had tea and water on hand and also made a batch of lime sherbert punch - I blogged that recipe here.

I made this super cute banner with onesies hanging on a clothesline with mini clothespins and then cut out circles of scrapbook paper, added ribbon and painted "baby shower" on the circles. I have not seen this idea before, even though I'm sure it's out there. I'm pretty pleased I came up with this idea on my own since I can be such a copy cat!

I didn't get a great picture of the gift table, but you can see it here to the right. More flowers and some green and white paper lanterns.

Here's the gift table filled with gifts! Yay!

Here's a picture of my fruit tray. I used a cookie cutter to cut the watermellon and musk mellon into pretty flower shapes!

Here's a picture of the bacon blue cheese stuffed mushrooms - which were heavenly! I will blog that recipe soon.

Thanks to Sam for arriving early and helping me out so much and thanks to Sarah for having a baby so I could throw a party!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

water surprise... eek!

Last week we had a bit of a surprise to come home to... our washer decided to not shut off on the rinse cycle and thus pumped water into our basement & garage for about 4 hours- eek! 

LOTS of things to be thankful for though! Kevin had not grouted the bathroom the night before as planned so that did not get ruined, and none of our furniture or other things got ruined either!

So after getting some advice from friends and family on how to handle the situation (thanks Brian & Melissa!) we Kevin pulled the 8 by 13 foot section of carpet back and cut out the soaking WET pad and then put fans on the carpet for the next 3 days.

We put the laundry baskets under the carpet so the fans would dry the top and bottom at the same time.

Being my usual careful self I stepped on the exposed carpet tack strips 3 times! Ouch!

After the first initial stress everything went very smoothly. We found a guy, who was having a slow week, willing to replace the pad and restretch the carpet for only $125 (including the new pad price)!

We were back to normal less than a week later!
(the dogs were feeling left out of this story and would NOT move so I could get a clear shot... O well)

The carpet probably needed a good washing anyway, but our poor washer just could not be saved.
So here's our new HIGH efficency, HIGH capacity washer! Isn't it so new and pretty?!

It even fits our comforter! Yes, we already tested that! I told the salesman I wanted a washer that could fit a lot of clothes and he said this one would do the job... even if we had twin boys! Curses! How did he know that's in my family history!?!

Monday, June 27, 2011

buttercream icing

I made these cupcakes recently for a bridal shower. I just used a cake mix for the cupcakes, but the icing was my favorite buttercream recipe!

Buttercream icing
(recipe from Better Homes & Gardens cookbook)

3/4 cup butter, softened
9 cups powdered sugar (about 2lbs)
1/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla

In a large mixing bowl beat butter until smooth.
Mix in milk & vanilla.
Add powedered sugar until reach consitancy desired.
Add food coloring if desired.
Will cover 24 cupcakes or top & sides of 2 - 9" cake layers.

Mmm, wishing I had one or two left over to munch one!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

blogging vaca... not a real life vaca

If you haven't noticed I'm taking a little vaca from blogging...

View Image

... because our internet is broken. Not because I'm enjoying a real vacation. In fact, it's been anything but a vacation for us the last week. It's been peddle-to-the-meddle busy/crazy! More on that... whenever we get our internet fixed.

Enjoy your week!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

garage sale finds

One of my favorite local church sales was this past weekend. Everything you can fit into a paper bag for just $3! Carol & I had great success this year - She found $11 in a pair of jeans and I bought 3 overloaded bags of stuff! Hollar!

I've been looking for more serving dishes for entertaining and parties and instantly fell in love with this green pressed glass piece... and an amber pressed glass cake plate... and 2 silver colored serving trays... and a couple of other pieces too! Cost of this piece... $0.50 and only because I didn't want to break it by cramming too much stuff in the bag!

I was also excited about this silver dessert stand. It was pretty tarnished, but that just helped me to determine it was real silver and after five minutes with the polishing rag at home it looks great! Cost of this piece $0.50 for same reason as above.

This framed set of state bird & flower stamps also caught my fancy. My plan is to reframe it and hang it in the new photo wall that will be making an appearance in our basement sometime soon. Note: what's the value of 50 $0.20 stamps??? $10!!! Which means I got tons of new treasures and came out $1 ahead ($10 in stamps minus $9 in treasures (3 bags of "stuff" x $3/bag) = $1 woot woot!).

Not every garage sale adventure turns out this successfully, but one of my favorite things about Bloomington/Normal is it's love for sales... just one more reason I love my town!

Anybody else have any good finds lately?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

baby duke's nursery update

You may remember last month when we helped our friends Brian & Sarah paint their basement so they could make room for a nursery, see here. Want to see what the nursery looks like now???

Don't you just love this crib setup? Sarah put the crib together by herself when it was delivered.
Didn't anyone tell her not to work when she can't even see her toes!

It's almost baby ready! just another couple of weeks to go, Sarah!

I got to help put up this cool tree decal.

It was pretty easy with two people - just peel and stick!

These cute jungle animals are also a new addition and look great next
to the curtains that were hung last month, again see here.

I'm loving the change from guest bedroom and storage to baby's room. I'm also super excited to babysit - so come on end of July! Thanks again to Brian & Sarah for opening their home to my blog.

Monday, June 13, 2011

bonnie's senior pics

Another one of my "baby" sisters has graduated high school! Congrats Bonnie!

I got to snap a couple of senior photos of Bonnie while we were home this past weekend.

Isn't she just beautiful?!

one of my favorties

her "model" face

this is more like the real Bonnie... with attitude!

yay for graduating!

so casual

Friday, June 10, 2011

ground beef 'n' biscuits

We make this easy dish all the time - it's tasty!
It's from my Taste of Home Test Kitchen Favorites Cookbook

Ground beef 'n' Biscuits

1-1/2 lbs ground beef
 1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 Tablespoons flour
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/8 tsp. pepper
2 8oz cans tomato sauce
1 pkg (10oz) frozen peas
1 tube regrigerated buttermilk biscuits
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

In a large skillet, cook the beef, celery and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink and celery is tender, drain. Stir in the flour, salt, oregano and pepper until blended. Add tomato sauce and peas; simmer for 5 minutes. Transfer to a greased 9x13 inch baking dish. Separate biscuits; arrange over beef mixture. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake, uncovered, at 350* for 20 minutes or until biscuits are golden and cheese is melted. Makes 6 servings.

Note: I add an extra cup of cheese into the beef mixture at the same time as the tomatoe sauce and peas.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

bathroom project sneak peak

Well we haven't been moving as quickly on the bathroom as I may have lead you to belive after my excited post last week. However, things are progressing and we've made it past a few hurtles like a toilet paper holder that was attached to the wall with EIGHT screws and then glued for good measure!

Here's some pictures to hold you off until i've got some more finished pictures to share!

Here's the floor still covered in glue - this was the first "time-sucker" we ran into :)

and the first patching to fix the previously mentioned toilet paper holder

painting the trim

primer, coat 1, coat 2, now stripes!!!

taking naps between paint coats!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Gooo Cornbelters

We finally made it to a Cornbelter's last week. This is the second year the Cornbelter's have been in town and the stadium is so close to our house that Kevin and I talked a lot last year about going, but never actually made it out. It's a really nice stadium and we lucked out with a pefectly beautiful evening for spending it out doors! We bought "lawn" seat tickets which only cost $5 - that's very affordable for an evening out (if you limit the food purchases of course!) and more comfortable than the bleachers!

Here's Corny, the team's mascot

Amy, Ella & J.D.
It was Ella's first baseball game! I'm betting "Let's go Cards" will
be her first whole sentance!

Here's Kevin & I from the lawn chair section

And Klarisa, Erica & Ella ejoying the evening

Every Friday is CEFCU fireworks night so we got to see
our team win and enjoy some great fireworks!



On Wednesdays you can bring your dogs to enjoy the game too! 
I can't wait to take Mia & Callie to their first baseball game! They're gonna love it!