Thursday, March 31, 2011

Spring weather...

I was beginning to think Mother Nature was just teasing's been hot, cold most of the week (actually snowed a little bit Sunday), and now back to nice weather.  Last night there was a little storm that moved through our {small town}, and I caught a couple pictures of the clouds.  They were really cool looking!!!  It thundered for a little bit and even had a nice quick shower, which was perfect!!  Things are starting to green up around here, including some flowers in our front yard.  I seriously can't wait for Spring to finally be in full effect!!

Sun shining on one end and dark clouds on the other!

I love how the sun is shining and storm is moving in!
Yep, our next door neighbors got a new sign!
And our neighbors across the road you can see they knocked out their front porch...
like months ago. They also think it's "cool" to ride 4 wheelers in their front yard...
I mean dirt pile. annoying!

Tomorrow morning I'm off for the weekend for Ladies State Bowling!  It will be such a fun trip, with a bunch of fun ladies.  I'm hoping to remember to get some pictures so I can share some stories next week.  I hope you all have a great weekend!!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

{Chain Chomper} Birthday Party and Custom Pop-Up Cards!

D has a godson, his name is Harmon.  He just turned 9 on Sunday, so we spent all day Saturday with him and for his party on Sunday.  I helped his mom, which is D's Aunt, with the decorations, and she made Gluten Free Cupcakes (they were actually pretty tasty!).  He is really into anything Mario Brothers right now, that was the theme for his party!

Before we get into the party pics, I want to touch base on something that is close to our hearts.  Harmon has Autism, not full blown, but he's considered to be on the spectrum.  He's had it since he was a baby, I want to say he was 2 years old or so when they found out.  They believe that it was caused by vaccinations, which there have been a lot of studies that link the 2 together.  We also believe that, along with many of other parents who's kids are Autistic (I'm in no way a doctor, just my opinion).  And because of this, he's on a strict diet; not only is he Gluten Free, he is also Casein Free (no diary, etc...).  He also has to take a lot of vitamins and supplements to help him out.  He has his ups and downs, good days and bad.  Recently, they've noticed that he has OCD tendencies, and has to be in control of the situation, or he will have meltdowns.  They are currently seeing a DAN (defeat autism now) doctor in Denver, hoping to get things figured out a little more.  He's getting ready to do a series of blood and urine tests to determine a bunch of things, including how his system reacts with different foods and whatnot.  He will most likely have to take vitamins and supplements for the rest of his life.  I have so much respect for Harmon's parents.  I can't imagine everything they have had to go through since he was a baby, but to them it's so worth it.  They are always doing what's best for their son.  Harmon is always so full of energy, and D is very honored to be his godfather.  Those 2 have so much fun together!

Ok, on to the Chain Chomper Party for Harmon...and if you aren't familiar with Chain Chomper, it's a character on Mario Brothers.

Chain Chomper Gluten Free Cupcakes!

Placemats made by Hatty for each of the boys, along with a goody bag!


Harmon playing 1st game: Feed the Chain Chomper!
(drawn on poster board)

Each got 4 chances!

Harmon's buddy's being silly!

2nd game: Pin the Chain on the Chomper (like pin the tail on the Donkey)
(again made on poster board!)
Harmon's first attempt!

So close!

Wishin' time!

Blowing out his candle!

Opening gifts

Lego's and Water guns, alright!

D, Harmon and I
(we got him another Wii remote, so he and his buddy's could play Mario Brothers!)

Hatty, his mom, does a lot of Graphic Arts stuff.  She is in charge of her company's website, has her own Custom Card Business - Simple Folds, and is always doing something creative for Family and Friends.  Back to her Custom Cards...she designs and cuts out each and every card she sells, including some really awesome Pop-Up Cards.  I wish I would've taken a picture of one she did recently for a customer in New York for their Family Christmas Cards...WOW!  On the front was a picture of their kids dressed in Burberry PJ's smiling for the camera.  In the inside...are you ready for this........the kids POP-UP when you open the card, jumping on the bed!  It is seriously one of the neatest things I've ever seen!!  All of her cards are heavy duty, and customized to your liking.  If you don't want pop-up cards, she does regular cards too.  The best part about it is, there isn't a minimum to order!!  So if you need only a couple of cards made for someone special, Hatty will do it!!
Hatty, the artist!
Inside Birthday Card for Mom
Photo Source
Front Custom Christmas Card
Photo Source
Inside of Christmas Card, Pop-up of City Skyline
Photo Source

She doesn't know it yet, but we are probably going to have her design our wedding invites!! ;)  And maybe I can con her into letting me do a giveaway to a lucky reader(s) in the future?!  Hmmm...

What type of cards would you like, anything in particular?!

Linking up to...
It's A Blog Party
The Girl Creative
Today's Creative Blog
The Shabby Chic Cottage
What Allie's Making Now
Somewhat Simple

Monday, March 28, 2011

Spring Subway Tile

Friday after work I decided not to do Zumba, because I'm lazy I wanted to work on my Spring Tile that I started back in January at my cousin's house.  That is when I also created the Faith Family Friends Tile for my Mom.  I knew it was time to stop procrastinating and just do it, especially because Spring is here (or supposed to be here)! 

I really like how it turned out, perfect for Spring!  I used a mixture of cartridges, mainly Plantin Schoolbook Fonts, Accent Shapes (for the flowers), and 2 others I can't remember the name (1 is mine and the other is my cousins).  I put it on the top shelf next to our little house plant (it's hanging on!)!  Hopefully later this week, I'll show you the whole book shelf, which I've also added in some Easter decor!  
SpRiNg is in the AiR!
So what do you think, LIKE it or LOVE it?!  (I apologize for the crappy pictures again, took them on my phone!)  It didn't cost me very much to do...about $1.30 for the ceramic tile from Home Depot, and maybe 1 sheet of vinyl which is about $3.33 from Walmart (comes in a package if 3 sheets for $7.99 or something like that).

Have you been doing any Spring decorating?

PS - I also made a baby subway tile for my friend Danielle who is expecting a little girl in July!  I'm seriously in love with how it turned out, it will look perfect in her nursery!  I'm not sure if Danielle reads my blog or not, but I might give you a sneak peak before her shower that me and another girl are throwing her later this month! ;)

Linking up to...
At Home With Haley
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Today's Creative Blog
The Shabby Chic Cottage
What Allie's Making Now
Somewhat Simple
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Lovely Crafty Home
Just a Girl
Not So Homemade

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Organizing: Basement - aka decrapifying!


Sunday after lunch, D and I set out to clean out our basement!  It was time.  The weather was gorge outside on Sunday, which got me in the cleaning mood (wish I was like that all the time - HA!).  We started on it at 1:00pm and didn't stop until 7:00pm.  Yeah.  It was that bad.  I already hated going down there, because it's really creepy, dark, gross, but before we cleaned and organized everything, it seriously looked like something you would see on Hoarders!  I am not joking was EXTRA CREEPY, plain and simple.  Now it doesn't look to shabby!  We felt very accomplished with how everything turned out! 

Now, first, let me kind of explain our basement to you.  It is not a basement we'll ever be able to refinish, it's just for storage.  It's nothing pretty to look at (remember it's CREEEPY!) and it's old.  Our house was built back in the late 30's to early 40's, and for some reason they put the floor furnace right smack dab in the middle of the room, so you literally have to duck or go around it.  Plus there are beams and pipes going every which way, and the ceiling isn't very high.  On one side there is a crawl space (which is even creepier to look at, I think), and goes under the stairs and ends on a ledge thing.  The one side is covered in this 60's-70's nasty fabric (we're thinking one day, we'll redo that!), and the side by the stairs is open.  There is also one side of the basement where it looks like the side might cave in.  However, I guess it's been like that forever and the previous owners said it hasn't changed.  It does make me nervy, so I try not to look at it (we plan on eventually getting some jacks for support on that side).  So that is the low down before I start showing pictures!

We first moved everything over (or most everything) to one side of the room and started going through boxes of stuff.  Here are the befores (taken after we moved most everything to one side of the room and started going through stuff; taken on my phone)...
looks like an episode of Hoarders...eeek!

We put up shelving units (nope, none of them actually match...oops!) to house pantry/everyday items, Bernie's food, camping and hunting stuff, canning goods, etc.  We actually had a lot of almost empty and empty boxes down there from when we moved in, so we went through everything.  If we didn't have a use for it, if it was trash, or something we didn't need, we got rid of it by either putting it in a garage sale/goodwill pile, or throw away pile (there was a lot of that!).  We utilized empty tubs and those plastic rolling drawers to house certain items.  I even had to use the shop vac to suck up the dirt on the floors and cobwebs at the ceiling.  By the time we were done, there was a huge pile of empty boxes and a lot of stuff we tossed; I wish I would've taken a picture of that part.  So after all of the sorting, organizing, purging, decrapifying we did, it turned out pretty darn good!  Here is our basement after!

Random Chair, Red Tub, and pictures on back dresser
are part of the garage sale/goodwill pile
So organized and clean!

Labeled all of the tubs and remaining boxes
so we know what's in each container!
Some of D's hunting and camping/survival stuff

Our painting/house hardware cabinet
Eventually our shelves will be full of pantry stuff, but that is going to take some time (and $$).  We are also planting a garden this Spring, so hopefully we'll can some stuff.  2 Summers ago we had a small garden when we still lived in the big city, but we never did can anything.  We just froze it all and used the veggies as we went along.  I like the idea of canning much better!

Had to show you it's right in the middle!
Oh yeah...I hope I can do it!!

So this beaut was left here from the previous owners, which they said it was there when they purchased it 11 years ago!  So I'm thinking she's been down there for quite sometime now.  They tried moving it, but it was really heavy so they left it.  I doubt I'll be able to paint it if it's that heavy, and our stairs are way too steep to carry something like that up it.  Like I said, I don't like our basement, so if I am brave enough I want to clean her up, wipe all of the cob webs and dust off, and vacuum out the drawers.  I think she would be perfect for my craft and gift wrapping supplies.  What do you think?!  So stay tuned to see if I can work up enough courage to do it!!!

So do you have a creepy basement that you hate going down into, or is it just me?!

Linking up to...
The Shabby Chic Cottage
Somewhat Simple

Monday, March 21, 2011

{Dry Aged} Beef...It's What's for Dinner!

I am so excited for Spring to finally be here!  I really hope Mother Nature isn't teasing us, because yesterday it was gorgeous out!  We did some Spring cleaning in the basement (yep, more on that later), and grilled steaks and veggies for supper!  We love to grill as much as we can in the Spring/Summer, plus I love that it doesn't heat up the house!

Have you ever had Dry Aged Beef at a fancy Steakhouse, or even attempted to do it at home?  This was our second time to prepare our steaks this way, and it turned out pretty good!  Dry aging beef makes the muscle break down over a period of time, making the steaks more tender and more flavorfull.  Yes, your steaks will shrink down in size, but its for the me!  D says the fat is even tender (I do not like fat on steaks, so I did not try it)!  So you want to know how to dry age some steaks, do ya?  Well it's really simple!

I've read that you should by a whole slab, but we already have individual steaks and it worked just fine.  I layed a couple Sirloin Steaks (its even better on Ribeyes!) out on Wednesday morning, by Wednesday evening they were pretty well thawed out.  I wrapped those bad boys up in some paper towels, place on a plate, and put back into the refrigerator (note: you can also use thin dishtowels or cheesecloth). 

Wrap steaks in paper towels, change every 24 hours
Every 24 hours change the paper towels out.  The first couple days the towels will be soaked in blood (I know kind of gross, but well worth it in the end!).  I aged them for 5 days (Wednesday night thru Sunday), and grilled them last night (Sunday night).  The raw steaks were a little dry on the outsides, but that is completely normal.  I think you can cut that part off if you want, but we leave it on there.  You'll also notice the raw beef to be squishy/more tender, and that's what you'll want. 

Steaks after 5 days, ready to BBQ!
You can season your steaks if you want (we did).  Now you're ready to throw them on the BBQ Grill and cook them to your preferred done-ness (we personally like them Medium Rare)!  I'm not sure, but I wouldn't think Well Done would be very good doing it this would be extra crunchy on the outsides, but to each their own!  I cut up a couple Zucchini, 1 Red Pepper, and 1/4 of an onion, and put them in a grill basket with some butter and seasonings.  Everything turned out perfect!!  It was the perfect way to end our weekend!
Steaks seasoned, ready to go!
Mmm...look at those fresh veggies!
Grilled to perfection!

Tonight we are going to grill up some Zesty Italian Chicken (on the grill instead of the oven)!  What is your favorite thing to grill?

Linking up to...
At Home With Haley
It's A Blog Party
Peas & Crayons - What I Ate Wednesday
The Girl Creative
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What Allie's Making Now
Somewhat Simple
Paisley's Passions
Not So Homemade 
Just A Girl

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Hot Hamburger Plate!

Have you ever heard of a Hot Hamburger?  If not, it's similar to a Open Face Hot Beef Sandwich, only made with a Hamburger Patty on top of a piece of Bread, topped with French Fries (I used Mashed Potatoes) and Brown Gravy.  It's pretty delicious, actually!  The other night, for some reason I thought it sounded good, so I searched for a recipe (mainly for the gravy, I knew how to make the mashed potatoes and hamburgers).  I found this recipe over at Pioneer Woman's Tasty Kitchen Blog, which was originally submitted by AlishaGibb.  They made it with french fries, I made mine with Mashed Potatoes.  I also seasoned my hamburgers a little differently, but you can do whatever your heart desires!  Main thing here is the was sooo tasty!!  I seriously don't like brown gravy and haven't ever made it until the other night, but this will be on my list to make again!!

I didn't take a whole bunch of pics, PW's tutorial is way better if you want to see how she did everything!

For Hamburger Patties:
Ground Beef
Seasonings for hamburgers to taste (I used: salt, black pepper, Rufus Teague Spicy Meat Rub, minced onion, Worcestershire sauce, garlic salt and McCormick's Montreal Steak seasoning)
**In a bowl, get your hands dirty and knead Ground Beef and seasonings together until well blended.  1lb will make 4 hamburgers, so split into even 1/4 patties.  Heat skillet to medium heat, add hamburger patties, and cook until desired doneness, set hamburger aside on a plate.  Leave grease in the skillet for the gravy.  Tip from Bobby Flay: when you patty up your burgers put an indention in the middle so the patties don't shrink up into a little ball.**

Hamburger and seasonings

Patty burgers up and make an indention in the middle

For Creamy Mashed Potatoes:
5 Russet Potatoes, peeled and chopped
approx 1 Tbsp Milk (might be less)
approx 1 Tbsp butter/margarine
**In a large pot, bring water to a boil.  Add peeled and chopped potatoes into boiling water and boil until they are done.  Drain the water off of the potatoes, add in milk and butter.  Using a hand mixer, mix the potatoes, milk, and butter together until they are "mashed".  Tip: you don't want your potatoes too runny, so add the milk a little at a time.  I don't measure it, I just eyeball it.  I started boiling the potatoes first, because they take the longest**

For Brown Gravy:
4 Beef Bouillon Cubes or 2 (14oz cans) of Beef Broth
4 Cups of water (only if you use the bouillon cubes)
5 Tbsp Flour
Black Pepper
**Dissolve 4 Beef Bouillon Cubes in 4 Cups of boiling water, set aside.  In the same skillet used for hamburgers, turn heat down to medium-low heat, add in flour 1 Tbsp at a time, stir constantly, to soak up the grease and make a roux (I didn't use all 5 Tbsp, I used approx 4 Tbsp).  Slowly add in the broth, a little at a time, stir constantly, simmer and allow to thicken.  Stir in some pepper if you want, I did!  Tip: if you don't have enough grease from your hamburgers, you can always add some oil into your skillet and heat it up before making your roux.

For gravy: 4 bouillon cubes, 4 cups water, and 5 Tbsp flour
Grab a plate, layer with the following:
1 piece of bread
1 hamburger patty
scoop of mashed potatoes
smother with as much gravy as you want!

Pure Deliciousness!
I served ours with Fresh Green Beans!

Linking up too...
At Home With Haley
It's A Blog Party
Peas & Crayons - What I Ate Wednesday
The Girl Creative
The Shabby Chic Cottage
What Allie's Making Now
Somewhat Simple
Paisley's Passions
Not So Homemade 
Just A Girl

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Oldest Brothers Bday Party = EPIC!

Saturday was my oldest brothers 30th birthday party, which was a freakin' blast!  I took a lot of pictures (yay me, I remembered!) so we could all remember the night!  LOL!  We first started off by eating at Backfire BBQ (Orange County Chopper restaurant), we had sliders of all sorts, french fries, salad, cookies and ice cream, and a nasty tasty Sweet Tart shot!

Shots Shots Shots, errbody!
not very tasty though!

D and I at supper

Big Brother J-Rod


Tom and Jess!

Then we went to Sanford & Sons comedy club and saw Jim Jefferies perform.  He was pretty funny, along with his opening act (I don't remember his name).  We wanted to punch the group of guys behind us, apparently they had a little too much to drink before the show, kept whispering  yelling dropping their beer bottles, etc.  Other than that it was a good time.

Ashley and I at Sanford & Sons

After the show we headed back to the hotel to get our coolers and freshen up, and then on to the party bus we went!  We stayed on the bus from 10-2, made a couple pit stops, and only stopped at one bar.  It was so much fun!!  Here are some pictures from the rest of our EPIC night!

Wild Bunch right there!
click to enlarge picture if you want!

Steve, D, and other brother Brett
he was the only sober one and he looks passed out!

Friend Matt and Sarah...
He was using the beer bong as a geetar!

Yes there was a pole in the bus!

Mom and her favorite son! LOL!

Ashley (brett's gf), Mom, Kelli (sis in-law), and Me!

Me and my crazy brother!

 Many of us didn't feel the greatest, matter of fact Jerrod was still feeling sick yesterday after work!  I think that means it was a successful night out!  I, however, was feeling just fine, sleep deprived is all (won't mention the exact reason why, but D kept all of us up until about 4:30 am...he wouldn't shut up)!!