Monday, January 31, 2011


We live in a cookie cutter. The builder's model had an option to turn the "study" into a fourth bedroom. For resale purposes, we chose that option. We are still planning on using it as a secondary tv/family room. Here is what it looks like now:
 The floral loveseat and brown recliner are hand-me-downs from the in-laws. I can't even remember how long ago my mom put that set of bookshelves in my bedroom when I was younger.
 Here's what I'm dreaming of:
 I love this color scheme! I already kind of having it going in our office. Turquoise/bluish green looks awesome paired with that bright orange! Obviously mine won't be able to have such modern lines. I plan on recovering the loveseat in that beautiful turquoise color. All my office accessories are already orange so those will fit perfect. Then we will abandon the recliner and put in a cute chair in a patterned fabric with the two colors together. Isn't that tassel trim on the curtains adorable?
I know my mom just did a BIG eyeroll. I'm still yet to order my fabric for the living room chairs (the one I picked seems too blue and maybe I want something with more green...). The coral fabric for living room pillows is still waiting in my closet. I always have "an idea" of what I want, but can't seem to make real choices. Poor Mom has been on too many fabric store trips to count trying to help me find the PERFECT fabrics. I love you, Mom (sorry I'm a pain)!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Container Store Trip

This is just plain embarassing:
 My office closet was a hot mess! Look at that disaster! I had just these four dinky drawers to store all my craft stuff in and things were getting out of hand. Why is the toolbox in this closet (see how I'm trying to push this off on Erik)? I couldn't even get to my file box to file bills, etc.
So, I of course needed a trip to the Container Store. That place just makes me feel like order is possible. I grabbed a mesh shoe hanger. These things are awesome. I had one in my classroom (no more...our cabinets in the new wing are tiny) to hold all the miscellaneous supplies that just seem to get lost in a drawer.
 It feels so much better with all my supplies divided up in the shoe hanger. I can see everything. I think that's how my messes get started: I'm digging for one thing and everything else has to come out. Ahh! Much better. This definitely isn't the most attractive storage you've ever seen, but it works.
Here's my other buy from my trip: a jewelery organizer. That just looks pretty (trust me...even though all the pics I took of it turned out blurry). I forgot I had the first pair of earrings on the bottom right! Obviously I'm going to need another one of these puppies. 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Chicken Dinners

The grocery store had buy 1 package of chicken breasts, get the other free. So, here are two really great chicken recipes. Both require 3 cups of cooked chicken. You can cook the chicken for both one night (when you aren't running to practices or meetings or games). Use half that night and half the other.
 The first recipe is from Paula Deen, so you know it is going to be delicious (and probably include lots of cream cheese, sour cream, or butter). It is mini Chicken Empanadas.
Your ingredients:
3 cups chopped, cooked chicken
8 oz shredded CoJack cheese (typically the size of the pre-shredded stuff at the store)
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 package of refrigerated pie crust (I use Pillsbury and it comes two to a pack.)
 All the ingredients, minus the chicken, ready to be mixed. You see all that cheese? That means it is going to be AWESOME.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
Lightly grease a baking sheet. In your bowl combine chicken, shredded cheese, cream cheese, red bell pepper, jalapeno, ground cumin, salt, and pepper. Unroll your piecrusts and use your rolling pin to spread them out into 15 inches. Cut out your rounds. I use an upside down ice cream bowl. Brush the edge of each circle with water. Arrange a big teaspoon of your chicken mixture on one side of the round. Fold the other side of the round over the top and press the edges together with fork tongs. Put your empanadas on a baking sheet and cook for 15 minutes.
If they don't look absolutely delicious, it's because my photographer (me) is horrible.

The next recipe is a little more involved, but still not that big of a fuss.
It's a variation on Chicken Tetrazzini.
Your ingredients:
8 oz. thin spaghetti
2 tbsp butter
4 oz. fresh, sliced mushrooms
3 oz. chopped prosciutto
3 cups chopped, cooked chicken
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
10 3/4 oz. can of cream of mushroom soup
10 oz. refrigerated Alfredo sauce
1/2 chicken broth
1/4 cup Marsala
1 cup shredded Parmesan

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta in boiling water for 8 minutes. While that is cooking, melt your butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add your mushrooms and prosciutto to the skillet and cook for about 5 minutes. Stir together mushrooms, prosciutto, chicken, peas, cream of mushroom soup, Alfredo sauce, chicken broth, Marsala and half your cheese. Stir in your pasta (after it's drained). Pour everything into a greased 11x7 inch baking dish and cover with the remaining cheese. Bake for 35 minutes. It should be bubbling when you take it out.

Monday, January 24, 2011

"Love Stories" Valentine's Mantel

Here it is:
 I went with a theme of "love stories" and put up pictures of our wedding, my parents' wedding, Erik's parents' wedding and my Grandma Carrino's wedding. I love the different styles from each generation.
 Ooh...I should've Windexed my mirror..
 I made these heart topiaries following my friend Magan's  ( felt flower technique. Matt (my co-teacher) and Kristina (my teacher's aide) put in some time cutting out felt circles.
 A few of my favorite fictional love stories are: Much Ado About Nothing (obviously not Hero's love story-get rid of that guy) by William Shakespeare, Emma by Jane Austen, The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffengger, and The Notebook (so sue may not be literature but it's good!) by Nicholas Sparks. Others I no longer have copies of are: Cold Mountain, P.S. I Love You, The Painted Veil and Pride and Prejudice. A lot of these love stories have turned into movies. Trust me: the books are better.
Here's a close up of our different wedding pictures.
Finally, my banner was made with twine, fuschia ribbon, and library borrowers' cards. It says, "You have all my heart for all my life."

I love walking by and seeing our parents' and my grandparents' joy and anticipation the day of their weddings!


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Valentine's Mantel

Here's the drawing:
 That explains what all this stuff is for...
 It's the prep for my "love stories" mantel I'm putting up this Valentine's Day.  A couple topiaries, wedding pictures (true love stories!), my favorite fictional love stories (Painted Veil, Emma, etc.) and a little banner...
on library borrowers' cards. Hopefully it will turn out as cute as what I'm picturing. We'll see!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Soccer Moms

One of our baseball moms made a super cute necklace of the team's symbol. I think hers was made from a little square glass tile. I decided I needed some for the soccer moms! My plan was a little disc with the soccer team's crest and a metal disc with the player's number stamped into it. First step: steel stamps. I ordered mine at Sears ($5!). I was all excited and Erik was like, "What are these things for?" Duh! Stamping metal discs to put on necklaces! Obvious, right?
 My next step was to figure out how I was gonna turn a little crest printed on paper into a bauble for a necklace. Hobby Lobby had a great sale (50% off) on jewelry stuffs. They had little silver charms with about a cm deep well in them. Perfect! I cut out the crest, laminated it, and put it in the charm. Then I covered it up with Mod Podge Dimensional Magic. That stuff is so fun. Just don't get anxious and touch it before it dries...oops! A really long, long, long (over night) time later....TA DA!
 That isn't my neck. I'm too pale. The flash reflects off of me. So lame. Anyway...
My camera needs to be replaced. I couldn't get a good pic of my numbers stamped into the disc because of the giant reflections of the flash. Here it is:
In case you can't tell, they turned out super cute. They don't scream "I'M A SOCCER MOM!!" But they're still supportive of the babies on the field.
p.s. The girls won 10-0 tonight! Go Lady Raiders!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ladybug Cupcakes

Wow, that ladybug looks kinda mad! Anyhow, my friend's birthday (25th) was this past week. She L.O.V.E.S. ladybugs. So, I had seen little ladybug cupcakes with oreo heads somewhere in blogland (I'm sorry I can't seem to find them again) and decided to make her some for her b-day dinner.
 Why did I only take pics of them inside the tupperware? I mean, I am pretty pumped about my little Martha Stewart cupacke traveler....

These guys were made with Martha's delicious marble cake recipe ( that I used for my husband's birthday last year. It is delicious! Then I just covered them in some red frosting, put some chocolate chips upside down for the spots and added oreo heads.

Giveaway at i heart naptime

Another website doing the giveaway! Win a free Silhouette Machine Valued at $395. @iheartnaptime.


Monday, January 17, 2011

Giveaway at House of Smiths

This Silhouette machine looks awesome. It can cut/print stuff for scrapbooking, vinyl, temporary tattoos and magnets! So cool! Check it out at Silhouette's blog: Then head over to House of Smiths and enter:!

Baby Shower Gift

My neighbors are getting ready to have their first baby boy. For a baby shower gift, I put together a milestone album for his first year. Over at the blog eighteen 25, one of the girls made a digital scrapbook of milestones like this one.
 Each page is a month with space for pictures and a list of his "firsts."

Well you get the idea. Hopefully this is an easy enough scrapbook for a new mom to keep up! Even Dad could help by writing in the milestones on the vellum paper.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Winter Decor

I was looking for a way to have some winter decor without being Christmas-y. I love this poem:  To Winter by Claude McKay. It made me think of the images I love in winter. Red is the accent color in my living room. I decided to take winter pictures around our neighborhood with red in them. In my shadowbox I put the poem and a clipping of one of our holly bushes.

To Winter

Stay, season of calm love and soulful snows!

There is a subtle sweetness in the sun,

The ripples on the stream's breast gaily run,

The wind more boisterously by me blows,

And each succeeding day now longer grows.

The birds a gladder music have begun,

The squirrel, full of mischief and of fun,

From maples' topmost branch the brown twig throws.

I read these pregnant signs, know what they mean:

I know that thou art making ready to go.

Oh stay! I fled a land where fields are green

Always, and palms wave gently to and fro,

And winds are balmy, blue brooks ever sheen,

To ease my heart of its impassioned woe.

(Oh, he's from Jamaica if you were wondering what "land" he left)
 Then I put each picture in a frame in the hallway off my living room. The red is perfect. These frames are the only thing on that wall and would be super boring if the pics were just of snow.

My neighbors read my mind and put a cute little red scarf around their snowman!
 The picnic table is my favorite. Last summer Erik and I had this picnic table made and painted it barn red. I love the way it looks with the snow and sun on it. Although I'm not so sure how good that is for our paint job...
Speaking of color.... I saw a color quiz on Better Homes and Garden's website yesterday.
Here's the link to find out your color personality:


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Banana Walnut Muffins

1 3/4 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1/2 stick melted butter (yum!)
1 tsp oil
2 mashed bananas
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat your oven to 400  degrees (where is that symbol on my keyboard?). I used a non-stick pan. If yours isn't you'll need some Pam or Crisco to grease your muffin tin.
In a medium bowl combine your flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center of the mixture.
In a small bowl combine egg, milk, butter (melted), oil, mashed bananas and chopped walnuts.
Mix your wet mixture into your dry mixture until just moist.
Spoon the batter into the muffin tin. Bake for 18 minutes!
These are so delicious!!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Crayon Hearts

Bet you were wondering when I was actually going to do a Martha project! Well, here it is! A few years ago I saw this project on Martha's website. Whaddaya know: I looked today to get you guys the link and it was featured on the home page!
 First I had to collect some broken/half-used crayons. It wasn't hard, since I'm a teacher. The next step is why Martha Has Minions! You have to sharpen the crayons to get shavings. This was not the most thrilling thing I've ever done. I just used a handheld sharpener. Next you need wax paper and craft paper. I tore off a fairly good size (about 2 feet) of wax paper. I scattered my crayon shavings over one half and then folded the other half over. Fold about 1/2 inch of the edges to hold your shavings inside.
 Then, I started heating up my iron. While you're waiting on that, grab a sheet of craft paper a little larger than the sheet of wax paper you tore off. I put my wax paper full of crayon shavings on one side of the craft paper and folded the other half over the top. After that, I was ready to iron. It just takes a couple swipes of the iron over the craft paper to melt the crayons. Once it dries, you're ready to cut out hearts:
 They have such a nice stained-glass effect. I'm pretty sure my sister did something like this in grade school though...

Isn't the purple/pink one fun? Now I need to string them up on fishing line and hang them in front of a window!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Raspberry Thumbprints

Raspberry Thumbprints are my husband's new favorite cookie. At Christmas I give out baggies of cookies. I added these ones this year. He's been waiting for me to make them again. After the 200ish cookies I made over the holidays, I was on break. I think the reason he loves these Thumbprints is the entire package of cream cheese! Here's the recipe:

1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp vanilla
Raspberry (or strawberry or peach) preserves

Beat cream cheese, butter, and powdered sugar until smooth. Add flour and baking soda; mix well. Add vanilla (if you want you could throw in 1/2 cup chopped pecans here); mix weel. Chill dough for at least 30 minutes (really important!). Preheat ove to 350 degrees. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Press thumb in middle of each cookie; fill with about 1 tsp preserves. Bake for 14 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool on wire rack. Make about 3 dozen.
Personally I think the preserves don't taste very good until cooled...

Friday, January 7, 2011

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See

This time I read a big kid book! Lisa See is also the author of Snowflower and the Secret Fan. I've never read that one, but hear it is good. The novel starts off in Shanghai right before the Japanese invade during WWII. The protagonist and her sister are spoiled in "the Paris of the East." Their father (you're not going to like this guy) changes their fates very quickly.

By the end of the novel, they are in California during the Red Scare. Not only did I enjoy the time period the book was set in, but the characters are so captivating. The dynamic between sisters definitely hit home.If you have a sister, you will understand what I mean. After you read it, let me know if you are a May or a Pearl. It also explores the dynamic between mothers and daughters. I truly enjoyed Shanghai Girls. Like Dr. Seuss says, "a person's a person, no matter how small," or what race or gender or socioeconomic status. You have to read this book (with tissues nearby).

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


When I was in college my mom bought these two beautiful chairs. The only problem is their fabric. It's just not me. Well, when we moved into our house she gave them to us. They have the perfect spot in our living room.  Now we are on a mission to find fabric to make slipcovers for them.

 The coral fabric is something I ran across a couple years ago. I HAD to have it in my house. I've decided I want lumbar pillows in the coral fabric for these chairs. Here are some of the choices we've pulled out:
 Fabric #1 (this is a closeup of the fabric in the first pic)
 Fabric #2 I'm not sure about this one because it doesn't have the red at all. What if it had red cording?
 Fabric #3
 Fabric #4 Again, no red.
Fabric # 5 This one is so traditional with its stripes and I kinda want something funky. Plus it has a lot of sheen...

Well, what do you think???? Help me!