Friday, October 29, 2010

Happy Halloween!

We're in Indiana for S Baby's gender reveal party that we're throwing for Heather and Jason and for Amy and TJ's wedding! Since we're missing the Halloween festivities at home, we thought we'd give you a glimpse of our boys in their Halloween gear this year!

Happy Halloween from the Browns!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Before and After -- Dining Room Hutch

My far end of my dining room used to look like this:

Now, it looks like this:

I love the new hutch! It matches both of my dining tables and it fits great! I've decided to store my globes on top, too. What do you think?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Quick Halloween Wreath -- DIY Idea

My parents are in transit to Arizona right now and last night, they ran over a piece of another car in the middle of the highway and wrecked their car. They are waiting to find out how much and how long. At least it happened near a major city so that the tow truck could get to them quickly and the are plenty of auto repair shops around. Anyway, while we were waiting on word last night, I was anxious, so I craft. J and Twin even took the dogs on a long ride so the house was eerily quiet while I crafted... so I texted. :)

Anyway, this is a quick and easy craft. Take 10-15 minutes and about $3. That's it.

You need 1 roll of streamers, a hot glue gun, scissors, ribbon or decorative piece and a wood or foam wreath from the Dollar Tree. I chose orange since my front door is black, but I think Black would've been even cuter.

You wrap the streamers around the entire wreath, securing it in a few spots with hot glue.

After the base color is secured, you can start making the wreath come to life.

Here is my final product. I wish I would've used black and maybe had an additional ribbon for behind the cameo pin.

All in all, not bad for $3. A little Halloween color for the front door. Little girls would love to make this, just make sure you're there to help with the hot glue.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My Phinny, my baby

I went to get in bed Sunday night, and what did I find? My best friend all ready for bed!


Isn't he too adorable? He looked so comfortable. Once I got in, there wasn't any room for J!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Hosting, hosting, hosting

Not only am I hosting the gender reveal party this week, I'm also working on a baby shower for a friend who is expecting her first child, a little girl, on December 26th!

I've gotten the invitations out, the decorations prepped and everything is set in motion but I'm worried about what to get her. She's already had a shower back home in Michigan so a lot of her registry has been bought out. She isn't doing a theme, just an eclectic mix of all things light and bright pink, teal and bright green with a hint of purple thrown in.

I've thought about painting name "letters" but since I'm making a banner in the same type of way, I opted out of that. I also thought about matting and framing some super cute little baby artwork but decided it may or may not go with her decor so I probably shouldn't. Then I thought of using the letters (like in the anniversary gift) and making a sign for the room some where, but am afraid that it, too, won't fit in. Thought about making a blanket but don't a lot of people do that? I think I'm just over-thinking this. I'll probably end up with something really practical like bottles or baby medicine. Who knows, maybe I'll be run over with inspiration and I'll know just what to craft or buy.

Secretly, I want to buy her this...
 or this...
 Maybe I just will! Or maybe I'll try my own re-creation of the hair bow.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Pumpkin Cavatappi

I love the taste of pumpkin so I go a bit crazy this time of year trying to put pumpkin into nearly everything I eat. I noticed a jar of Pumpkin Parmesan sauce at Williams-Sonoma a while back, but with the cheese, dairy and $15 price tag, I passed it up.

Anyway, I decided to go hunting for a vegan recipe to make this a reality and what'd ya know?!?! I found a DELICIOUS recipe! Check out that link for the recipe specifics.

Here goes...

Cook the pasta of your choice and start combining the oil, onion and garlic in the second pan. Let that simmer before adding the pumpkin and vegetable stock.

Once the stock and pumpkin have combined really well, add the dairy-free milk of your choosing and the spices. Whisk away until it is nice and creamy!

Pour it over your pasta, mix and enjoy! For you non-vegans out there, you could probably add some cheese if you wanted.

I loved this recipe and my leftovers were just as delicious on days 2 and 3!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Sneak Peek -- Gender Reveal Party

I'm throwing my best friend and her husband a gender reveal party next week for their newest addition. Here is a sneak peek at the e-vites I sent out to their closest family and friends!

We are all so excited and I'm busy prepping for the party!!! Can't wait!!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Homemade Black Bean Soup

When I woke from my codeine-induced sleep Monday evening, I was hungry for good, filling, fall food. I wanted something quick and easy with ingredients that I had on hand. Welcome the black bean soup. It fit the bill and it was super quick and easy. 15 minutes from start to table.

Here are the ingredients

Large onion -- diced
Juice from 1/2 lime or lemon
3-4 cloves garlic -- minced
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp oregano
2 tbsp parsley
4 cups water or vegetable broth
3-4 cans of black beans
1 tbsp oil

You start by adding the oil over medium heat and add in the onion. Heat for 4 minutes or so. Then add minced garlic. I used my new hand grater (that I LOVE and use all the time) to get it very fine. You brown all of that together for another 4 minutes.

Then you combine all other ingredients.

Bring to a heavy simmer for at least 10 minutes and serve hot. It was hearty, delicious and just what the doctor ordered. Beware -- the cumin makes it taste and smell a bit like tacos so if anyone is adverse to tacos in your family you may want to leave it out.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Weekend in Chicagoland

This weekend J and I met my best friend and her growing family in Chicagoland. We spent a ton of time here. I love visiting Mecca (which is what my husband so kindly refers to it). I wish I could say that we found a ton of great things, but really, we got curtains and a trash can. Sometimes you hit the mother load and sometimes you end up with curtains.

We also had a pizza party in the hotel room, went shopping, went to The Cheesecake Factory, went swimming and just enjoyed being in each others company.  It was nice to have them to myself for the weekend... it always feels like I have to share them when we see them.

I get to see them in 9 more days and I get to "see" S Baby in 10 days and I get to find out what they are having!!! Can't wait to throw them a fantastic gender-reveal party!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Christmas in the House!

For those of you who know me, you know that I like to plan ahead. Not just for the sake of planning ahead, but for my sanity as the event nears. Anyway, for those like me, the Holidays have just arrived.

I am a huge fan of Fly Lady and her Holiday Missions start today. They give you small daily missions and weekly tips to let you go on a month-long "cruise" starting December 1st. You plan ahead so that you can cruise through the holidays... literally...and really enjoy your family and friends without stress. I love doing these. I don't always do them in her order, and sometimes I beat her to it, but I love being prepared and having it done so I can enjoy the festivities and my loved ones a little better. Plus, I love having wrapped gifts to go under the Christmas tree once its up.

October is the time of year that I start riding people for Christmas lists and ideas and I start making things. I like to make things way ahead of time in case they don't turn out or it takes more time than I thought, etc. So, for me, October is my time to get ready! How fitting, then, was the DIY post over at Under the Sycamore today? Perfect!

Fly Lady recommends making a Holiday Control Journal and the sisters at eighteen25 think you should make the darling notebook, but either way, it'd be a huge help. I have my Fly lady control journal I made years ago that I use for the holidays, too. But if any of you need a way to better keep track of menus, receipts, coupons, recipes, gift lists, family outings, etc, then this is for you!

Do you know any helpful time savers I should highlight this season?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Click for Pets!

I've been sick with a gross sinus infection the past few days, which is why I've been MIA. Since looking at a computer screen just makes my sinus headache hurt worse, this post will be short.

As many of you probably know, I love animals. I love animals in general, dogs in particular. I feel like we have to speak up for man's best friend because they can't speak for themselves!

Anyway, one small and easy way that you can help is by "clicking" each day. This literally takes 3 seconds and can be done from your phone or email. They can send you reminders each day if it will help you remember. For each "click," you donate .6 cups of food to an animal in need.

Here's a link.

We thank you!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Wedding -- Part 1 of 3

This past weekend kicked off our first of three weddings this fall. It was J's cousin's wedding reception in Casey, IL. It was a 6.5 hr drive, but we had a good time visiting with family and sharing in the joy of their big day.

Best wishes, Jen and Jason! Here's to a lifetime of love and laughter!

I loved the pumpkin centerpieces! A few years ago a co-worker of mine has a fall wedding with a color scheme of cream, gold and eggplant. Think glamorous ... and she did white pumpkins with a floral arrangement inside (similar to above) but they added rhinestones to the outside of the pumpkins. They reflected the candlelight so beautifully. I love using pumpkins in fall weddings. I always wanted a fall reception in a barn with wheat and pumpkins. Oh well, I guess I'll just have to keep enjoying these fall weddings.

It was a bit of a crazy weekend as we drove 6.5 hrs down to Illinois after work Friday, had the reception Saturday evening and drove up to Chicago Saturday night for an early morning at the Chicago Marathon Sunday. It was a crazy weekend and we are very happy to be back home in Wisconsin.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

How to be a Marathon Spectator

Although this post is entitled how to be a marathon spectator, it may more accurately be described as how NOT to be a marathon spectator.

Here's my list....

#10 -- Do not tell marathoners that they are "almost there" at Mile 22. Yes, they've run the bulk of the race but 4.2 miles away is not necessarily "almost there." Expect the evil eye from a runner if it happens to fall out of your mouth before you can catch it.

#9 -- Do not attempt to get runners pumped up at Mile 23. They are tired and they don't really want to see your face. You can continue cheering (as we did) but you may get hateful stares. I still think that some people were excited for noise around the bend at the 23rd mile marker.

#8 -- Do not root on the train when it is pulling into the station as you would a runner, simply out of habit. People will think you are insane. It isn't pretty.

#7 -- Do not give runners nicknames unless they have it written on their shirts. They don't always appreciate the names you create for them.

#6 -- Do not forget the supplies that your runner has asked you to bring.

#5 -- Do not crowd the runners by inching forward from the sidelines. It gets kind of cramped there in the middle. They need their space. Some runners with some courage (or anger) just may push you gently out of the road.

#4 -- Do not create a voodoo doll of your runner unless you know they'll love it. In our case, we think she loved it.

#3 -- Do not forget who you are there for and pay more attention to your cracked cuticle than those running the race!!! This may be the only time your friend or loved one runs a marathon -- pay attention!

#2 -- Do not complain about how hot or bright it is out. No one will care, especially not those running 26.2 miles in said heat and sunshine.

#1 -- Do not, and I repeat, do NOT mention that your feet hurt or that you are tired from WATCHING the marathon. The marathoners will not care and you can expect the evil eye to return.

 J and I may or may not have done a few of these things throughout the day at the Chicago Marathon, but needless to say, we learned a lot and we are no longer rookie race spectators. If you ever go to a marathon, take my advice to heart! :)

Have a great week!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Oh my, hair!

So I never know what I want to do with my hair.... I want it different, but not too different; no triangle head, no un-natural colors, not too much off of the length and on and on I go.

I want to take risks, but I've ended up like Ginger Spice when I've done that in the past.

Ah, well, I had a general idea of what I wanted...somewhere between chestnut and mahogany brown. A few hi-lights to add dimension and visual interest. Danielle (my stylist) delivered!

What do you think? Love it, hate it??? So far I'm really liking it, especially for fall and winter.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Happy Birthday, Take 2!

And today is my dear Jeff's birthday. So, hello, Jeff, way over there in Pittsburgh.... Happy Birthday!

We love you and hope you have a wonderful birthday weekend. May it be a blast and a half!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Happy Birthday -- DIY Idea

I was looking for a unique bookmark for M for her birthday since she collects bookmarks. I found a beautiful one that I ended up buying for her, but I also found a cool idea on etsy. I thought I could make one for M with her personality in mind. I figured I'd give it a whirl.

Start with some stretchy gross-grain ribbon, or elastic, whichever you choose and a neat pendant, button, bead or treasure.

Measure the ribbon around several different size books to find the right fit. Remember, it stretches so you want it tighter than looser. Sew the ends together.

Then I hand stitched the medallion to the band securely.


This incredible bookmark can also double as a dog collar or a headband! Love it!

A cool gift for a reader or teacher that takes all of 5 minutes!!

Happy Birthday, M! Hope it's an awesome day!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and Chocolate Cupcakes

I saw this fabulous recipe on Annie's Eats the other day and thought it sounded great but maybe a tad to rich for me, but it made me hungry for something like it so I decided to keep looking. Eventually, I stumbled upon this recipe for chocolate cupcakes with eggless cookie dough as icing. YUM!

I made the cupcakes first so that while they were baking, I could be making the cookie dough/icing. Find the recipe here. I made substitutions to make it vegan and let me tell you, the batter was INCREDIBLE! I think I loved the batter more than the actual cupcake. It was like a creamy mousse. YUM!

Once the cupcakes were in the oven, I started working on the cookie dough. Find the recipe card here. Super quick and easy to make and safe to eat without baking because there are no eggs (even if you aren't vegan).

Delicious, yummy, wonderful! I'd make these again, but when we're going to have a larger gathering than a party of 3. We had to send the left-overs to J's work, but they gobbled them up.

What other recipes should I try???

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Halloween Enchiladas

I have been cooking and baking a lot since I returned from my road trip... absence makes the heart grow fonder, I guess. My latest adventure has been making Halloween enchiladas. Halloween because they are orange (sweet potatoes) and black (black beans). (See how to make that pretty little cupcake tomorrow!)

They are pretty quick to make and you can prep everything else while the sweet potatoes are roasting in the oven. I ran low on salsa so mine didn't have quite as much sauce as it should've, but they were still delicious. You can find the full recipe here and a review here.

In the future, I think I'd double the black beans called for in the recipe. Have I mentioned I love black beans???