Saturday, June 27, 2015

. . . Family Room Tour . . .

I don't think I've ever done a room tour on my blog but our family room is my favorite room in the house so I thought I'd share!  I wanted it to be very colorful because I knew it would be where we spent most of our time and when I think of color I think of fun!  We never use our living room so this is the central gathering spot where we all spend our time.  The walls haven't changed color in a long time but we've recently updated the carpet and furniture and some of the decor.  I'm always changing something or I get bored.

I love that this room is so open and bright with the morning light coming in the windows!  
 
The artwork on the walls is one of my favorite things and came from Target years ago.

 This bowling pin was a thrift store find that I'm obsessed with.  I passed it up a couple times thinking it was probably a silly purchase but couldn't get it out of my head.  I went back to the shop a third time and it was still there so I figured it must be a sign that it was meant to be mine!  My dad saw it and just loved it so I got one for him for Father's Day and he couldn't be happier!

When we moved into our house this 2 story family room really intimidated me because I had no idea how to fill the wall space without spending a fortune on huge artwork.  That was before Pinterest became popular so it was a challenge I had to work on without the help of my favorite addiction.  How did we survive without Pinterest?  I found a couple cool plates and picked them up and then when we finished painting the idea came to me and I started hitting the clearance sales, garage sales and even gathering a few from my grandmother's basement.  I had these shelves from when I was a kid and just painted them to coordinate with the room and then my mom and I spent hours laying out the design and hanging the plates.  It was a great way to decorate this big wall on a budget but still bring in a lot of color.  These plates have received many compliments over the years and still remain something I love about this room.
 
There is something I just love about blue and yellow so it only seems right that I would pick out blue furniture.  This is from La-Z-Boy and we have been very pleased with it and how well it cleans up.  The colorful throw pillows were made by my mom and the quilt was made by my grandmother.

 This chest needs painted again but this was a curbside find which my son and husband are appalled by but we sure have gotten serious use out of it.  Inside we keep tons of video games and game accessories so it isn't right out in the open.  The pepsi crate I picked up at a flea market after begging the man to sell it to me.  He was using it as a display but I loved it and wasn't taking no for an answer so finally I wore him down.  I have made it into a charging station of sorts because of the open slats at the bottom.  I just run our cords up through the slats and plug in our devices.  It also serves as storage for my son's stuff.


This little table was another thrift store find.  I think I'm going to paint it but I haven't decided on what color so for now it is staying white.  
 
The window treatments were made by my grandmother and I.  I can't get enough of circles so when I saw that fabric I knew it would be perfect for this colorful room.

Don't mind the outlet in this photo other than to know it's a USB outlet we recently put in several of the rooms of our house and we are completely obsessed with them!  Easy to do and they work great for just plugging in your devices and still have 2 outlets free.

To add some more pops of color I painted blocks of color on two of the walls as you can see here.  Clearly I should have straightened up those candles that are in the stars.  Just pretend you didn't notice how crooked they are.
 
My husband works in aviation so when my mom found these airplane book ends she immediately bought them for him.  They don't have any books in them now but they go well with the transportation artwork above the fireplace.

This is my favorite little corner.  I curl up in the corner of the loveseat and watch tv or read and everyone knows that is mom's spot.  Maggie thought she needed in the picture too and who am I to say no to her?

These lamps were a recent find at Target.  I had been wanting to brighten up the lamps in this room but just hadn't found the right look so when I was cruising Target I found these and knew they were perfect.  It took 4 Target stores to finally get both of them but it was worth the running around trying to find them.

This small wall is at the bottom of our steps and divides up the kitchen and dining room from the family room.  I picked up the plates at Target, the Love artwork from Christmas Tree Shop and the Flower artwork from Hobby Lobby.
 
This ottoman opens up for storage and we keep extra pillows and blankets in it for sleepovers my son has.  It also serves as Charley's favorite spot to hang out when we are in here.

These lanterns are from a local gift shop and have my favorite flameless candle in them...Luminara.  They look so incredibly real!  If you haven't seen them or tried them you should.
 
The wooden crate in the corner is from La-Z-Boy and stores blankets in it.  The candle holders are from a flea market and I painted them white to make them pop.

Thanks for stopping by!  Now I'm off to curl up in my favorite spot to read a book on this rainy day.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Picture Perfect School Year Teacher Gift

Another school year is done and I feel like we just got started.  We have had another great year with great teachers but I am ready for a break from homework and projects and early mornings.  

Every time I need a teacher gift I try to come up with something new and unique but that isn't always easy to do.  This year was our first year in middle school and we had a great experience considering the massive amounts of anxiety that the school year was started with.  That being said this tag really sums up how we feel about both the school year and the wonderful group of teachers we had--it truly was a "Picture Perfect" year!

Everyone loves a movie night and if they don't then someone they know will so this is a gift that will no doubt get used and it is very easy to put together!

 I gathered up some Movie Theater candy in the dollar section and of course a movie night wouldn't be complete without some popcorn.  I had planned on using popcorn buckets but since my son is way too cool to have mom walk in with him to help carry everything I decided to just bag everything up.  We have 7 teachers so there was no way he would carry a big box filled with teacher gifts.  He is at the age where he doesn't want any attention drawn to him.  As it turns out it worked out really well just bagging the treats in a clear cello bag.

 I created a simple tag and printed those out and used my corner rounder to round the corners and then punched a hole in each corner so they could be tied to the bag.

  Since we have 7 teachers I decided to just do 1 movie code for each teacher.  When you go to www.redbox.com/gifts you can purchase a group of codes and give them to one person or divide them up.  I chose to divide them up.  I saved the image of the gift card on the Redbox website and printed that on the front of a card and then printed the movie code on the inside of the folded card so they will be able to hang onto it easily.
**That is not a valid code in the photo above.

 As you can see I just folded the card so they only see the Redbox image through the bag but then when they open it they will have the code and it's a business card size so it can be put in their wallet until they are ready to use it and hopefully it won't get lost.  These movie codes can be redeemed at a kiosk or online and they don't expire.
 Bag everything up and tie up the bag with a little ribbon or twine and attach your tag.  

 Movie Night in a bag!  A great gift for the whole family.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Seasoned Shrimp Cocktail

Every year when we go to the beach we can't wait to buy fresh shrimp!  It just tastes so much better when it's fresh off the boat.  Well, in our area there is a business that sets up shop at the Farmer's Market every other week and they have freshly caught seafood from the coast including shrimp!  A few weeks back we picked up a couple pounds of shrimp and then I went on Pinterest to see what new recipes I could come up with. I am so glad I found this one from Joyful Healthy Eats because it is so delicious!  It can be served both hot or cold as shrimp cocktail.  We have done it both ways and it's always fabulous but I personally love it hot. 

The recipe is also very easy so that is another plus and of course it is fast because shrimp just takes a few minutes to prepare.  My kind of meal!
I used the basic recipe from Joyful Healthy Eats but I amped up all the flavors by adding extra of each spice.  The first time I didn't do that and it was great but I felt like it could have been seasoned a bit more so ever since the first time making it I have really kicked it up by adding a little extra of each spice. I also try to make it up ahead and toss the shrimp in it and then stick it in the fridge and this makes a big difference on flavor as well. The recipe below does not include extra spices so just use the basic recipe and heap them up a bit.

You will need:
2 lbs. of Shrimp, peeled and deveined
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
4 tablespoons of olive oil
½ teaspoon of red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon of dry basil
salt & pepper
If you want to make homemade Cocktail Sauce it is very simple as well!  It just takes ½ cup of ketchup and 2 heaping tablespoons of horseradish.  Mix it together and you are good to go.  I usually add a squeeze or two of lemon juice as well.
If you are making the shrimp right away and not putting it in the fridge first then go ahead and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  
In a large bowl, toss shrimp, garlic cloves, red pepper flakes, dry basil, salt, pepper, and olive oil.  Toss until all coated.  Spread shrimp out in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Bake for 8-10 minutes.
Remove and eat hot or let it cool a little while and serve it as shrimp cocktail.  When I serve this as shrimp cocktail I like to put it in the fridge for a couple hours so it's good and cold.

This shrimp is so good with all those yummy spices.

Dip it in your homemade cocktail sauce and enjoy!
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Buffalo Chicken Pasta Casserole

Don't you love the smell of wing sauce?  I know I do but I don't eat wings because I just can't bring myself to eat meat from a bone.  I do love pasta though so this mixes a couple awesome flavors to make an incredibly pleasing casserole.  It even is a hit with my picky eater so that makes me happy. I am sure if you like Wings or the flavor of Wings you will really enjoy this recipe!

I have made this a couple times now and each time it is a hit!  My mom actually came across this recipe and she made it for Super Bowl and it was gobbled up immediately.  Then I made it and the guys loved it and so did I so I now have added it to my favorite meals category.
• • •
You will need:
3 Cups shredded cooked chicken
1/3 Cup Frank's Wing Sauce
1/3 Cup Ranch dressing
6 to 8 ounces Egg noodles or pasta of your choice
1 14oz Jar of Alfredo sauce
1/4 Cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 Cup shredded cheddar cheese divided
6 slices of Provolone cheese for top
Optional: Blue Cheese crumbles
 Prepare your noodles and drain. Also prepare your chicken--shredded or chunks of chicken work well in this recipe.  Place your Wing sauce, Ranch dressing, Alredo sauce, 1/4 cup cheddar cheese and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese in a bowl and mix well.  *If you are using Blue Cheese add it to the casserole instead of just on top or if you have some that like it and some that don't just serve it on the side.  Add chicken and combine.  Add in prepared and drained noodles and make sure everything is well coated in your sauce mixture.
Pour into a greased casserole dish and top with remaining cheddar and provolone cheeses.  I use my food processor and chop up my slices of Provolone but you wouldn't have to do this step.  Bake at 350 for about 20 to 30 minutes until bubbly and browned on top.
Serve with some chopped green onions, a salad and some fresh bread and you are all set.  Add a little extra wing sauce if you want a bit more of a kick!

As you can tell from the photos I have made this several times and each time it is a hit!  The photo above was made with chunks of chicken instead of shredded chicken and parsley instead of green onions.  Either way has been a hit with us!
What's not to love--pasta, wing sauce, cheese and chicken!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Simply Delicious Crockpot Chicken Fajitas

I just absolutely love Crockpot cooking.  It makes life so much easier and almost every meal comes out perfectly.  As a mom I am always looking for simple recipes that everyone in our house will eat.  

At our house we are all huge fans of Chicken Fajitas from Chili's so when I was trying to think of a recipe to use up some chicken I decided to give Crockpot Chicken Fajitas a try and we are all glad I did!  This turned out so good--not the same flavor as Chili's but still really good!  I have made fajitas over the years using different spices but we have never been thrilled with the end result but now I have my go to recipe for them because this was a hit!

You will need:
Simply Delicious Crockpot Chicken Fajitas
 5-6  boneless skinless chicken tenderloins, frozen
1 onion, cut into slices
1 red bell pepper, 1 yellow bell pepper and 1 green bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 can Ro-tel or a can of diced tomatoes and chiles.
1 packet of taco seasoning 
Flour tortillas or serve over a bed of rice
For toppings you may want lettuce, salsa, cheese, sour cream, guacamole etc.

Place the chicken tenderloins, onion, peppers, Ro-tel and taco seasoning in a crockpot and set to low for 6 to 8 hours or high for 4 to 5 hours.  I always start mine on high and then after a couple hours turn it down to low for the remainder of the day but if you aren't home to do this I would just set it on low.  

Once the chicken is cooked through take 2 forks to shred it up a little while still in the crockpot and then serve on a tortilla shell with your favorite toppings and if you would prefer to skip the shell this is great over rice! 
Throw your peppers, onion, chicken, Ro-tel and taco seasoning in the crockpot and done!
Simple and Sweet!
 This will be sure to please your whole family!  If your kids don't like all the veggies then it's easy to pick out the chicken for them!
 A quick and healthy meal for the whole family to enjoy is always a success story in my book!
 Enjoy your Crockpot Chicken Fajita dinner!

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Best Ever Homemade Caramels

Awhile back I posted a Caramel Recipe that I thought was fantastic but I lied....this is the best recipe ever.  I have given these Caramels out as gifts and everyone has asked for the recipe and has told me that they are the best they have ever had so clearly the post title is accurate...The BEST Homemade Caramels.  I am so glad I was cruising Pinterest and found this recipe because from here on this will be my go to recipe.  They make for a great gift and one batch makes a bunch of them.
  You will need:
1 cup of butter (2 sticks)
4 cups sugar
2 cups light karo syrup
2 (12 oz) cans evaporated milk
2 tsp vanilla
1. Line a jelly roll pan with parchment paper.  I like to do this because it makes it easy to lift the entire sheet of caramels out and then you can easily cut them on the cutting board.  If you choose not to use parchment paper just generously grease the jelly roll pan.
2.  Add 2 sticks butter, sugar, and karo syrup to a large heavy-bottom saucepan over medium heat. Stir over medium heat until mixture begins to boil, about 5-10 minutes.
3.  Slowly add the evaporated milk so that the mixture maintains a constant boil.  Once you've added the milk and things boil it tends to expand so be sure to use a pan that is larger than you might think you need.  I learned the hard way when I first made caramels and burnt my stovetop pretty bad when it boiled over.
4.  Stir the mixture regularly, scraping the sides until it reaches a firm ball stage (that is about 240 degrees F on a candy thermometer). This can take quite a long time so don't be surprised if you are still waiting 45 minutes to an hour later.  If you don't have a candy thermometer you can check the caramels the filling a glass with cold water and drop a spoonful of caramel in the water.  Pull the caramel out of the water and see if it holds together in a ball.  If it doesn't it isn't ready yet.  Just keep checking until it is firm and pliable, but still sticky.  Once you reach 240 degrees F or the firm ball stage, remove from heat and stir in vanilla.  The original recipe called for just 1 tsp. of vanilla but I found that I like these with 2 tsp of vanilla.  It just richens up the flavor a bit more.
5.  Pour caramels into the prepared pan and refrigerate until cooled and hardened. Cut caramel into small pieces and wrap in wax paper.  The caramels will seem very hard at first but they soften quickly so if they get too soft while cutting them just stick them back in the fridge for a few minutes to firm them back up.  I find that it's much easier to cut them when they are good and firm.  I usually cut my wax paper while I'm waiting for them to get cold.  I wrap mine like a Jolly Rancher would be so that means you will want to have your wax paper cut in rectangles and cut enough that you can wrap your caramels and twist each end of the wax paper.

Recipe and directions adapted slightly from Tastes Better From Scratch.

 The lines on my caramels above are from the parchment paper.  I had already started cutting some of my caramels when I took this pic and I didn't realize I put them back in the tray upside down so you are seeing the weird lines that the parchment left.  Don't worry you'll never see that when you cut them and wrap them.

I cut my caramels to be about an inch long but some people like them to be squares or even to roll them into a tube shape so whatever works for you.
I hope you enjoy these little bites of Heaven!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Valentine's Day Painted Mason Jar Flower Arrangements

I'm breaking a blogger rule and posting this extremely last minute because I honestly forgot all about them.  Not good planning on my part!  I figure better late than never and these little Mason Jars would be a great decoration for any season even though I did mine with Valentine's Day in mind!  I made mine in a few hours and ready to go on my table to add a pop of color.

 You will need:
Chalky Finish Paint and of course my favorite is Americana Decor by Decoart
Paint Brush
Jars
Wax to protect them if you'd like
Embellishments of your choice.  I used paper doilies, felt hearts and Baker's Twine
Dollar Store flowers or any silk flower
Tray and tray filler if you'd like

 The most time consuming part of this project is painting the jars.  Just use your chalky finish paint and brush it on the outside of the jars and let it dry and do another coat.  I did 3 coats on mine to make sure they were well covered.  I then sanded them lightly and applied a coat of Wax from Americana Decor to finish them.

Now the fun part...embellishing them
 I laid a felt heart on top of a paper doily and then wrapped twine around the jars several times to hold that in place and tied a knot.  I didn't want to glue the doily and the heart down because I might want to use these jars for Christmas or another occasion where red is appropriate.  That is it!  You could finish them at that but I wanted mine to be a little more colorful for a centerpiece so I filled them with silk flowers from the dollar store and then added in some fun heart garland made into little "curly q's".  That was all there was to it!  
 I used a red tray that I usually use at Christmas and then filled the tray with plastic hearts from the dollar store and then placed my vases on the center of the table and it was the perfect centerpiece.
I think these would be so cute for Easter or Sprint using pastel colors and filling them with pretty spring flowers!  I think I will be making a set for that too.  I'm thinking pinks, blues, yellows and greens.  

Happy Valentine's Day!

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