Friday, March 30, 2012

Movie Night

Had a spontaneous girls' night yesterday evening, including a lot of chatting and watching this movie. I LOVED it. It is a modern, more edgy version of Harry Met Sally and has a great cast. Check this one out!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Trader Joe's Vegetable Root Chips

Have you tried these? I had them at a girlfriend's get-together and promptly bought my own bag. Delicious! Can I count them as a veggie serving?

Pioneer Woman's vanilla bean scones...

Check out these scones the Miss and I made a la Pioneer Woman. There is a little story behind our cooking adventure that I think sums up this blog's title - life is what you make it.

So, this week on Pioneer Woman, Ree made vanilla bean scones - similar to what Starbucks offers. Yum! When Ed set off for a boy's night, Paige and I were all set (sort of) to make them during our girls' night in.

I got all the ingredients out and arranged when I realized I was missing heavy cream. At this point, Ed was still home. Off to the corner store. 20 minutes later I arrive back to a mini-scene of Miss Paige crying. Seems while I was gone she tried to 'start' her own recipe and had used up some of the baking powder. There was now not enough for the recipe. Ed had scolded her already, and I don't tend to get mad about these sorts of mistakes. After a short talk, back to the store we went.

We had great fun and made a big mess. Miss P very enthusiastically helped me clean up at the end. While we waited for the scones to set, we watched an episode of House Hunters and I painted her nails and toes. When I finished, I went to plate the scones. I came back - and - uh oh. I noticed the top of the polish remover off, fumes going, and a spill on the newspaper. P had tried to 'fix' one of her nails herself. Again, quick talk on the better choice, clean up and done.

Ready to eat the scones and then read a chapter of our book.

I think my type b attitude saved the evening! Now for the recipe....

3 cups All-purpose Flour
2/3 cups Sugar
5 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Salt
2 sticks (1/2 Pound) UNSALTED Butter, Chilled
1 whole Large Egg
3/4 cups Heavy Cream (more If Needed)
2 whole Vanilla Beans
5 cups Powdered Sugar, Sifted
1/2 cup Whole Milk, More If Needed For Thinning
1 whole Vanilla Bean
Dash Of Salt

Preparation Instructions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Split the vanilla beans down the middle lengthwise and scrape out all the vanilla "caviar" inside.

Stir caviar into cream. Set aside for 15 minutes.

Sift together flour, 2/3 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt.Cut cold butter into pats, then use a pastry cutter or two knives to cut the butter into the flour. Keep going until mixture resembles crumbs.

Mix vanilla cream with egg, then combine with flour mixture; stir gently with a fork just until it comes together.

Turn dough onto a floured surface and lightly press it together until it forms a rough rectangle. (Mixture will be pretty crumbly.) Use a rolling pin to roll into a rectangle about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch thick. Use your hands to help with the forming if necessary.

Use a knife to trim into a symmetrical rectangle, then cut the rectangle into 12 symmetrical squares/rectangles. Next, cut each square/rectangle in half diagonally, to form two triangles.

Transfer to a parchment or baking mat-lined cookie sheet and bake for 18 minutes, removing from the oven just before they start to turn golden. Allow to cool for 15 minutes on the cookie sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.


To make the icing, split one vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out the caviar. Stir caviar into milk; allow to sit for awhile. Mix powdered sugar with the vanilla milk, adding more powdered sugar or milk if necessary to get the consistency the right thickness. Stir or whisk until completely smooth.

One at a time, carefully dunk each cooled scone in the glaze, turning it over if necessary. Transfer to parchment paper or the cooling rack. Allow the glaze to set completely, about an hour. Scones will keep several days if glazed.

Monday, March 26, 2012


Call me bowstful, but I am proud of my craft efforts today. Now all we need is hoedown!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Happy Weekend

I am excited to be embarking on a 4-day weekend! (Don't let the teacher's union hear me say that : ) - furlough days strike again). Wah waaaah.

On our agenda...
Signing up for swim team. Miss P has only participated in soccer thus far, which was a blast, but nerve wracking for this (slightly) competitive mama. Now, we are giving swim team a try. Paige loves the water and swim 'play,' the actual work of swimming, 'asi asi.' She may have thismuch more coordination/skill at swimming vs. other sports. Her eyes popped when she heard 'donut morning,' and 'sleepover.' We are signing our life (or just our summer weekends) away first. Hopefully she will make the team at tryouts in a week!

The Hunger Games! We are celebrating my good friend's birthday tonight with an adult dinner out and the big movie. Excited. May do a little re-reading of the book's one of the only books E and I have both read and enjoyed.

On a less exciting out the office is on the list. Re-doing (actually, there is no 're' about it - it's more like doing the office), is my summer project. Before I can do any fun stuff though, I have to clear out the clutter. Did I mention we are getting a closet built (hopefully?) That should help.

Finally, rain, playdates (adult and kid), reading, exercise????, HGTV and Pioneer Woman will round out our mini-break. How does your weekend look? Do you have any swim team experiences that you are living to tell about? Have you seen The Hunger Games? And are *living* to tell about it? : )

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Rookie Proof Pillow!

I'm so excited. I made a pillow! Actually I made TWO pillows (or pillow covers if you want to get specific.) This is huge as I am all thumbs with stuff like this. I'd been craving some new spring-like throw pillows, but did not want to spend the $$. I somehow got the idea to try and make my own no-sew pillows. Here are the results:

Before - faded pillow

After: Springy new Chevron pillow

Like I said, there are actually two (somehow I didn't snap of a picture of him with his brother on the couch). I looked at several tutorials online, and my visual spatial self had quite the time with them. : ) I ended up creating my own.

You will need:

Cute fabric of your choice


stitch witchery


adhesive velcro dots

Step 1: Cut fabric to fit the size of your pillow

Step 2: Cut a strip of stitch witchery (remove wrapping first; I learned this the hard way), and using the iron, seal one end of your pillow cover

Step 3: Apply stitch witchery down the middle seam, and iron again to seal shut.

Step 4: (not pictured) Turn pillow right side out once cooled. The bottom seam and middle seam are done. Insert pillow form in through the top opening of the pillow. Finally, fold over material at the top of the pillow and attach velcro dots, to close final seam (and allow for an opening to take this pillow form out when it is time for another change!)

Voila! another look at the rookie pillow!


Monday, March 19, 2012

Mealtime Monday: Pioneer Woman Seafood Pasta

image taken from Pioneer Woman

I had a chance this weekend to do some of my favorite things: READ (finished a magazine and a book), laze around a little, and cook. My beloved Pioneer Woman made the seafood pasta above on her show, and I am a sucker for shrimp and pasta, both separately and together.

As usual, I brought my less than stellar photog skills to the table. Here's how the dish looked prepped and ready for the oven.

And ready to be 'unveiled' on the table. I thought the tinfoil covering gives a bit of drama, don't you?

In my version, I forgot the scallions and used rotini pasta. I also subbed melted butter for the cream at the end. Otherwise, I followed Ree's directions. Get her recipe here.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

St. Patty's Day

Low-key St. Patrick's Day. Man, am I turning into an old woman! ; )

Earlier in the week, Paige and her friend constructed a leprechaun trap, which she proudly set up in our living room. She proceeded to give Ed and I notes and treats from some leprechauns that she found 'lying around' on Saturday morning (They were addressed 'to:Ed' and 'to: Jen'). I realized at the 11th hour, that, I too, needed to reciprocate and prepare a surprise from the leprechauns. Duh. Off to Cost Plus for some gold coins - the bins were empty, as more prepared shoppers had cleared 'em out. At the second store, I found some chinese style 'lucky money' chocolate covered gold coins. Close enough!

I then made my way around Target for one more little thing. Darn that leprechaun. I finally decided on a darling spring top that I felt good about, as Miss P could use some clothes, and found a few other small things I'd been saving for possibly Easter in my closet. Voila! A leprechaun surprise.

Before setting up the goodies, though, we headed out to Red Robin for dinner with some friends (hence the milkshake photo above). I was feeling very wiped for some reason, and couldn't wait to get home and to bed. Leaving Ed, party of one, with his Guiness. Around 11 p.m., I roused myself to create the 'scene' downstairs, including a little sign with green paint.

Hoping you all had a bit more pep in your step on the 17th! What did you do?

Thursday, March 15, 2012


It's been - dare I say - a pretty peaceful week. So peaceful I guess that there hasn't been much to blog about! Let's see, where did I leave off? Making time and setting priorities.

I decided that I want to make improving our house my special project. I'm really excited and I also feel at peace, which is probably a sign of a good decision. Or it might be as a result of a related decision to tighten up the budget. (Instead of frittering money on temporary things I can do without, save it to buy things that will really make an impact, i.e., some house stuff.) My main project is our office, and the biggest thing we want to do is add a closet for storage/organization. The overall goal is to spend the next year or two or so, dressing it up, loving it, and then listing it!

I have been without my (almost daily) Starbucks all week, and I can't wait to treat myself to it tomorrow!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Making time

Had a really fun but busy 3-day weekend. Am currently in between overseeing a bath and preparing to check out the Bachelor finale. Is After the Rose on tonight too? That's the part I want to see!

Anyway, I wanted to pop-in to give a shout out to my friend Hilary at Pulling Curls. First, actually, I want to thank everyone who commented and weighed in on my post about pursuing your goals/and how to make time for the many things that are important to you. Hilary gave some great advice, including, if you want to make time for something, block off time in your schedule. Simple advice - but something I wasn't doing.

Over the weekend, we had dinner with a good friend, who has a busy job and is also a very involved dad. He blocks out two hours every Monday night to work on a book he's writing. If he can fit in more than that, great, but those two hours in his week are written into his schedule to help make his goal happen.

O.K, I have to comb out wet hair now. Let me leave you with this other post from zenhabits on making time. I'll be back with what I've worked out.

Friday, March 9, 2012

A little fashion for your Friday

OK, I consider myself fairly fashionable, but due to multiple factors (budget, laziness) I fall short about half the time. I had a win lately when I did a mini-shopping spree at Macy's. I'm not a big Macy's shopper, but needed a new top for a party, and none of my usual haunts had anything.

Finally, I remembered the INC collection at Macy's and thought it might be worth a try. I had an image of these bohemian-ish 'bat wing' (or the more appealing term - 'flutter sleeve') tops in my mind. I found several I loved and came home with three (one is not bat-wing/flutter-sleeve).
I then found a fourth cute Spring top at Target to round things out.

Speaking of clothes, a new (to me) blog I like is Everyday Mom Style . I'm going to visit there more often and work on being a 'do' more often than a don't! (She actually features two such looks on almost every post - the right and wrong way to wear a trend.) Some looks I'd like to try are the skinny belt (not sure if that'll work for me), some layered looks (tank tops, rolled sleeve button-ups, and cardigans) and maybe some snakeskin (low) heels. A look I'm not interested in trying is colored denim! We are all going to be laughing at that in a few years I think.

What looks are you considering for Spring?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Chicken Cacciatore with Rigatoni

Another home run from The Carb Lover's Diet Cookbook. Ed paged through the recipes over the weekend and requested this. Being the giving and loving wife that I am, I complied and we had this for a Saturday night dinner. I think it's his new fav. He went bananas. We ate it while watching Pioneer Woman preparing a hungry man meal for her husband, so it was quite fitting. Here's the recipe:

1 tablespoonolive oil
1 poundboneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 medium onion, chopped
4 sliced garlic cloves
2 cupssliced mushrooms
1 tablespoonchopped fresh oregano
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes in juice, chopped
1 tablespoontomato paste
1/4 cupdry red wine
1/4 teaspoonsalt
1/4 teaspoonblack pepper
4 cupscooked rigatoni pasta
1/4 cupchopped fresh parsley

1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. add chicken to skillet and brown until golden, turning once, 3 minutes per side. Remove chicken from pan and reserve.
2. Reduce heat to medium; add onion and cook until soft and translucent, 6–7 minutes. add garlic and cook 1 minute. add mushrooms and oregano and cook until mushrooms release their water, 5 minutes.
3. add tomatoes with juices, tomato paste, wine, salt, and pepper; simmer until slightly reduced, 5 minutes. Return chicken to skillet; spoon with some of sauce. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until chicken is cooked through, 20–25 minutes. Remove from heat; transfer chicken to a plate.
4. toss pasta with sauce in a large bowl. place 1 cup pasta with sauce in each of 4 serving bowls. top with 2 chicken thighs, sprinkle with parsley, and serve.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Vacation catch-up

It's been quiet in my little corner of blog world - let's catch up! Last week we enjoyed a much-needed February break week off. We kicked it off with a dog sitting gig for my sister in law. The 'Life is What You Make it' family is considering adding a pooch to the mix. Our dog for the weekend was a cattle dog named Callie. I am looking for a smaller breed, like a pug, westie, etc., but Miss Callie was a pleasant dog. Neither of us have ever owned a dog before, but I felt like we both took to the task like champs! Miss Paige was extremely sad to say good-bye.

Fortunately, we had our Half Moon Bay beach getaway to look forward to next. Hey Barnes & Noble, here is my version of the 'nook.' All I wanted to do was relax, sip a beer, and READ. So that's what we did the first day. There is a boat dock outside my window - not a parking lot. (Well, it's kind of a parking lot of sorts, I guess.)

We also ate some good food, a must of any vacation. Another must - kid friendly entertaiment!

The weather continued to be ridiculously gorgeous for February at the beach, high 60's, low 70's. So of course we had to spend some outside time as well. We enjoyed a FABULOUS beach day, it was so hard to leave.

I want to note that when we did leave, Miss P hauled her own stuff. : )

The week capped off with a nice visit with my mom, and haircuts. Miss P and I both have fine hair, but lots of it. We both look better with shorter hair that includes some long layers. I can't quite convince Ed (or Miss P) to cut too much off of her hair yet, but here is a start.

So much healthier! A couple of inches at a time. Paige is showing off a Family Fun Valentines Mouse puppet we made to bid adieu to February and our vacation.

Soon, it was back to school, work, RAIN, and report cards. Oh yes, and I was rear-ended this week. The joys of real life!

Today though is Saturday. The weather is beautiful again, I have a Pioneer Woman on Tivo, and we are going to see The Lorax. Another itty bitty vacation!