Friday, November 30, 2012

What I Wore (Or Mixing Florals and Stripes)

I borrowed a page from Lindsay's (also known as The Pleated Poppy) book, and tried pinning a flower to my floral scarf. I didn't get any comments on it when I went out, so maybe my attempt wasn't as successful as hers.

Have you seen how she styles her scarf with flowers?

what i wore wednesday at the pleated poppy
Anyway, here's the breakdown of my outfit:
Striped Cardi: Already had (F21)
Yellow tank: $4.98 (Old Navy)
Floral Scarf: $12 (Old Navy)
Jeans: Hand-me-down (Old Navy)
Flower pin: Handmade by me!
Shoes: $3.75 (Kohl's)
Linked up to Because Shanna Said So The Pleated Poppy

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

What I Wore (Or I Saw in on Pinterest)

I am such a sucker for this color combo (*from Pink Peonies)! I am drawn to these kinds of looks all the time, and yet, when I put myself together, it seems like I tend to go for the more blah neutral colors.

Pinned Image
Gorgeous, isn't it????

Oddly enough, I had all of these colors in my closet, but wouldn't have thought to put them together in this way.

I have to apologize for the quality of the 5-year-old camera girl was ready to get back inside! My skirt is oddly creased in the shot for some reason, and I didn't see that until it was too late. Ah, well...

Top: Old Navy ($5)
Skirt: Ross ($5)
Shoes: Kohl's ($3.75...I love that Kohl's lets me stack coupons!!!!)
Bag: Factory Girl ($10)
Ring: tutorial here

Linked up to Pinspired Style Real Girl Style Glossy Blonde The Pleated Poppy The Vintage Apple RaeGun Ramblings

Friday, November 23, 2012

How I Made Round Steak with Gravy and Potatoes (Or Shove it in the Crock Pot!)

Oh. My. Goodness.

So this Thanksgiving, it was our turn to host. I don't know how that works out for everyone else, but in my house, it translates to days (and days) of prep. It's like all the dirt in the world congregates in my house and needs attention as soon as I make plans to have people over. I run out of time to cook, but funny thing is, my family still needs to eat regardless of whether I feel like I have time to feed them. Does that happen to anyone else?

This meal was a lifesaver the day before Thanksgiving when I knew I'd be pressed for time and unwilling to make a big mess while cooking.. Earlier this year, we split a cow with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law; we got so spoiled, since there was always meat in the freezer....and we're talking hamburger, roasts, and the best cuts of steak. See? Spoiled rotten.

Naturally, when you get a whole cow, you get the lesser cuts as well. My husband's favorite meal is chicken fried steak, and while I'll make that upon request, I don't like to do a whole lot of frying. I had a couple of packages of round steak still in the freezer and wanted to find a different way to prepare them.

I looked up some slow-cooker recipes online, but each one that I found called for a condensed cream soup. I think I've mentioned before that I'm not a huge fan of convenience foods, for a variety of reasons. I'm becoming very uncomfortable with the thought of all the preservatives and chemicals that we put in our bodies, and while I'm not making the leap into exclusively "real food" territory (let's be honest here...I love me some Oreos), I do try to make as many things from scratch as possible. I've gotten to the point that I can taste the preservatives in a lot of prepared foods, and it makes my stomach turn. Once again...I'm not a complete health nut! Just a moderate health nut. :P And finally, cooking well (and eating well) on a tight budget usually requires cooking from scratch. It doesn't really take all that much more time once you get the hang of it, either. It's totally worth investing the time to learn.

I wasn't sure how my children would enjoy this meal, because they do not (DO NOT) like anything with gravy, typically. But they, along with my husband, went back for seconds, and not one bit was left over.

Slow-Cooker Round Steak with Gravy and Potatoes

1 package (maybe 4 good-sized?) steaks
4 cups beef broth
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp. seasoned salt
1 tsp. garlic
1/2 tsp. paprika
Splash of vinegar
6 medium poatoes, peeled and cut into thirds

In a separate bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup beef broth and 1/4 cup flour. Pour this mixture into the slow cooker, use a whisk to combine with the other 3 3/4 cups beef broth, and sprinkle in the seasonings and the vinegar. Put the round steak in along with the potatoes, and cook on high for 4 hours.

Linked up to Kitchen Fun with My 3 Sons Six Sisters' Stuff Petite Hermine

How I Made Thanksgiving Sparkle (Or I Needed a Smile)

Have you ever needed a little extra help putting a smile on your face during the holidays? Let's be honest, sometimes that's just how it is.....I'm thankful for family, but sometimes I'm thankful that we don't have to be all up in each other's business all the time.

This is one of the easiest projects you will ever do!! I think I've said before that if it can't be done in 30 minutes, then I just won't be able to do it. Most days I'm lucky to find 30 consecutive minutes in which I'm not desperately needed by someone.

And that's ok. It just means that my projects must be QUICK. And this one is.

It's cheap, too! I went to the craft department at good ol' Wally World and found this glitzy button for $1.96. The hardest part of the entire project is removing the metal ring from the bottom of the button, which I did with a set of jewelry pliers (I bought the mini jewelry-making kit from Hobby Lobby a couple of years ago, and I think it's paid for itself many times over by now).  I had an adjustable ring pad left over from a stint making wooden button rings, but the ring pads are easy to find at Hobby Lobby or on eBay, too.

Now this is where the picture is a little deceiving. The adhesive shown above had coagulated in the tube and was unusable, so I tried attaching the button to the ring pad using Gorilla Glue. That lasted about an hour; then the button fell off and the glue peeled off in a clump. Aaarrrrgggghhh.

So you know what I did next...I pulled out the Liquid Nails. And that stuff is holding strong. I mean STRONG.

If you decide to try this project, would you please (pretty please!!!) show me how it turned out??? I'd love to see it!

Linked up with Kitchen Fun with My 3 Sons The Brassy Apple

How to Move Beyond a Ponytail (Or 3 Braids to Try)

Herringbone french braid, tucked under

Headband braid
Heart braid

For the headband braid and for the heart braid, you only want to add hair from one side.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

What I Wore (Or I Saw it On Pinterest)

I saw this picture from H Is for Handmade on Pinterest, and it captured everything I love about fall dressing.

And so this is how I worked this inspiration into my wardrobe:

My husband and I were getting ready to go out on a date, and because of the time change it gets dark so early and so I had to do the picture-taking inside. I do not like losing daylight so early in the day!!! Am I the only one? My baby was also trying to get my attention by laughing at me, so we managed to get some goofy pictures out of this set, but I'm going to keep those to myself. :P

Tan cardi: Already had (NY&Co.)
Striped button-down: Already had (NY&Co)
Red skinnies: $18.99 (Kohl's)
Boots: Already had (JC Penney)
Scarf: Already had (F21)
Purse: .99 (Thrifted)
Belt: Came with a skirt (Rue 21)

Monday, November 19, 2012

What I Wore (Or I'm a Little Bit Country)

My favorite part of this whole outfit is (are?) the lace tights!!! I'm hoping to wear these with as many things as possible! I went out for coffee with a friend later that night and switched out the cowboy boots for knee-high brown boots, and liked that look, too.

Dress: $3 (Goodwill)
Sweater: Already had (F21)
Belt: Already had (Rue 21)
Lace tights: $5.80 (F21)
Boots: Already had (Goodwill)

Linked up to Covered in Grace Still Being Molly

Thursday, November 15, 2012

How I Fell In Love With Pearls Again (Or I Shopped at a Hoochie Store)

I found this DIY pearl cluster necklace at My Girlish Whims through a blog hop a while back, and just thought it was so beautiful. She put a lot of time and effort into making this...and I don't know if you've ever tried to use eye-pins while making jewelry, but I didn't find it to be very easy at all when I tried it. So even though I love this necklace, and even thought I wanted to believe I'd be able to make it, there was little voice whispering in the back of my mind that I'd probably never get it done.
Sad face.
Then I walked into Body Central during a mall trip. You know Body Central, right? It's one of those stores that I like to call "hoochie stores," because if you want to find something hoochie to wear, it's a one-stop shop. That's my personal opinion; don't hate me. But the great thing about those kinds of stores is that their accessories are usually on-trend and super-affordable.
And that's where I found this little gem:
Now it's not exact, I realize that; but for $3.90, I'll take "not exact."
My plan is to layer it like this:
Pinned Image
Except that you will NOT be seeing my bra. (*This was posted on Fashion Worship, but I can't find the original post.)

Linked up to Blonde Episodes Two Thirty-Five Designs Dot in the City

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

What I Wore (Or I Saw it On Pinterest)

This is a pretty common picture to see making the rounds on Pinterest. As I look over my clothing board, I notice that what I am most drawn to typically is made up of similar elements...easy pieces that transition from season to season and can be worn many different ways. I don't own all that many clothes...if you walked into my closet, you would see two closet rods stacked on top of each other, and one longer one (for dresses, etc.), and they hold all of my clothing for all seasons. But because every item pretty much goes with everything else, it makes it seem like I have a lot more than I actually have.

Jean jacket: Already had (NY&Co.)
Tank: Already had (Old Navy)
Skirt: $5.50 (JC Penney..see this post)
Platform sandals: $9 (Target)
Necklace: $3 (See this post)


Monday, November 12, 2012

What I Wore

I'm really diggin' all of the navy/mustard combos that I keep seeing around, but the thing is that mustard (or marigold, or whatever you want to call it!) makes me look really jaundiced, and I generally think that would be considered a negative thing. A lot of times, I'm drawn to yellow, but can't figure out how to wear it myself. This was an attempt to branch out a bit.

Also, I'm not sure what's up with my face. ????

Yellow top: $4.97
Cardi: Already had (Target)
Jeans: Already had (F21)
Shoes: Already had (Charlotte Russe)

Linked up to Covered in Grace  Still Being Molly

Saturday, November 10, 2012

How I Made Mammaw's Black Magic Cake (Or I Can't Make a Pretty Cake to Save My Life)

When my oldest son turned 1 (6 years ago now), my Mammaw came up from her small town in Southern Missouri to celebrate with us. She brought with her a Black Magic cake for him to have for his first birthday cake....we set out his high chair in the middle of the room, and spread newspaper underneath it to catch all the crumbs that we were sure would fall to the ground; but that child literally used his finger to wipe up and lick every crumb and speck of frosting off of his tray. He completely waxed it! And ever since then, it's been a tradition to have a Black Magic cake for a first birthday in my family.

Today, we are celebrating my youngest daughter's 1st birthday. I cannot even believe that she is getting that old...any mom will say that the time absolutely flies by. My mother sang this song to us, and now I sing it to my children:

Where are you going, my little one, little one?
Where are you going, my baby, my own?
Turn around, and you're tiny,
Turn around, and you're grown,
Turn around, and you're a woman with babes of your own.

Yes, I'm crying.

On to the cake.

Black Magic Cake:
2 eggs
1 cup strong black coffee (or 1 cup boiling water and 2 tsp. instant coffee
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix well and add dry ingredients listed below:

1 3/4 cups flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

Pour batter (it will be thin) into greased 9x13 pan (I used 2 round cake pans). Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes.

I'm not much of a frosting person, but I LOVE ganache, so I made a whipped ganache frosting for this cake. It's AMAZING.

1 cup whipping cream
9 oz. chocolate (I used semisweet chocolate chips)

Set the chocolate in a heat-safe bowl; then in a saucepan, heat the whipping cream until just before it reaches a boil. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and mix until it all melts together. Holy cow.

Once this mixture cools and thickens, whip it until it reaches a frosting-like consistency. This is SO EASY, I promise you!

Now, I'm more of a pie person than a cake person, and I cannot make a cake pretty for anything!!!! I don't know if it's because I lack the skill, or because I lack the patience, or if it's a deadly combination of both. I have just decided that there are people who can ice a cake well, and people who can't. Apparently I'm one of the ones who can't. Which is yet another reason to stick with pie, in my opinion.

It stinks that in my family, I'm the only one who really appreciates a good birthday pie.

I'll let you know how my baby enjoys her first birthday cake. :)

This post is linked up to Six Sisters' Stuff Sumo's Sweet Stuff Making the World Cuter Skip To My

Friday, November 9, 2012

What I Wore (Or My Husband Said I Looked Frumpy)

I have been on the search for a black maxi skirt for a really long time, but haven't been able to find one in any of the stores around here! Last weekend, I went to Penney's and actually saw one (ONE) on the clearance rack for $25. I didn't want to pay that much, but figured that that might be my last opportunity to find one at all. This one is a bit of a high-low, which I wasn't necessarily crazy about; but I took it (and the checked shirt that I'm wearing) up to the counter and asked the cashier to double-check the price (*fingers crossed*). So she did...and then she told me that there was an extra un-advertised 30% off of the clearance. Ummmmm....what??? So the top and the skirt together came to $21. And THEN I had a $10 off of $10 coupon to spend, and wound up getting both of these items for $11.
So here I was, so proud of my purchase, and then my hubs said I looked frumpy. Well, poop. And then I used the "c" word..."I don't care! I'm comfortable." Yes, I did. I'm sorry, but I absolutely did.    

Skirt: $5.50 (JC Penney)
Top: $5.50 (JC Penney)
Shoes: Already had (Old Navy)
Necklace: here

In other news, this post was published on Lucky Community!!!!!  Please click on the link and vote for me (and forgive my shameless plug, please!)!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

What I Wore (Or I Ate Dinner Without Getting Up From the Table a Million Times)

This is what I wore to go to dinner with a girlfriend the other night. Just us. No kids. So you know what that means...we actually put our food into our mouths, chewed it, swallowed it, and our behinds didn't leave our chairs once. No one asked for more juice, or a napkin, or needed a nose wiped, or spilled anything. Every once in a while, it's good just to be able to sit and eat. I'm not asking to do it every single day, because I know that this season of having littles will be over long before I want it to be, but sometimes, a mama just needs to BE.
Every single item in this outfit is at least 2 years old, and it all came from NY&Co. I used to shop there all the time, and they had such great sales that I'd rarely pay more than $10 for anything, and usually I'd pay much less than that. When we moved to TX, I don't know what happened...I don't know if they switched buyers or what, but I hardly find anything cute there anymore, and the sales are not fabulous.
Which brings me to another thought. Since I decided to do more "What I Wore" blogging, and reading other blogs written by women who are doing the same thing, I've noticed that I feel a lot less contented and a lot more dissatisfied with what I already have or with what I have available to me. I'll see what another writer is wearing and think, "Oh, I need one of those!" This is not good.
This is a big part of why our country is in such a mess. We're such envious and jealous people, always looking for the next, newest, shiniest thing to distract our attention away from what really matters; we are always on a quest to fill a giant gaping hole of WANT. Not need, just WANT.
I like pretty things. I think most of us do, right? But liking pretty things, for me, can easily turn into focusing on wanting MORE pretty things, which can easily turn into resentment that I am not in a position to OBTAIN all the pretty things that I want. Not ok.
So I need to turn my attention back to being happy and contented with the life I have, because it's the life I'm supposed to have. I can and will choose joy.
Linked up to Coffee and Cardigans All Things Chic  Dot in the City
Two Thirty-Five Designs  Or So She Says...

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

How I Make BBQ Chicken Baked Potatoes

If ever there was an easy dinner, this one has to be it.

When my husband and I were in college, the pizza place down the road made a variety of loaded baked potatoes, and we ate our weight in them. It's not a difficult concept, is it? Take a potato, fill it with whatever makes your heart happy, top it with gooey melted cheese, and you have a no-brainer budget item for dinner. We've been making them at home ever since we graduated from college.

I start by baking my potatoes in my Crock Pot. Have you tried this yet? I wash them, prick them with a knife, turn the Crock Pot on high, and let it go for four hours or so. They turn out perfectly every. Single. Time. I do put a little water in the bottom, although I've heard that's not necessary. I figure I'd rather be safe than sorry. I also "bake" more potatoes than I need for this meal while I'm at it...tomorrow's dinner is supposed to be Cheesy Sausage Potato Soup, so I might as well have the potatoes ready to go beforehand.

About 30-45 minutes before it's time to eat, I'll go ahead and cook my chicken breasts. One tip that I've found to work well is to splash a little vinegar into the water that I'll boil the chicken in; it helps tenderize the meat and make it easier to shred (I also do this with pork and beef). Once the chicken is cooked, I'll shred it and mix barbecue sauce in.

Then I pull the baked potatoes out, and using a fork, I'll pull the insides away from the skin. Then I'll butter and salt them...

..and top them with the barbecue chicken and cheese. I'll pop them into the microwave just long enough to melt the cheese.

My husband is a big fan of hot wings, so sometimes I mix some Frank's Red Hot in with his chicken and let him have a Buffalo Chicken Baked Potato. This is another one of those dinners that can go as far as your imagination takes could make a veggie potato, or an Italian one (with Italian sausage, pepperoni, and salami), or you could use ham, pulled pork, bacon...really, the possiblities are endless. Serve it with a green salad and a crusty loaf of bread and you have a perfect, easy fall dinner.

Linked up to Someday Crafts Sugar and Dots Raising Homemakers Handy Man, Crafty Woman Yesterday On Tuesday Cindy's Recipes and Writing

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

What I Wore (Or I Saw it on Pinterest)

This is one of the (many) outfits that I have seen on Pinterest that I'm determined to wear. There was a day that I never would've considered buying red pants. One day I may look back at these pictures and think that I should've stuck to the original line of thinking. But for today, I love the way this looks!

Unfortunately, I can't find the original post to give credit to the person who put this together. So, girl, whoever and wherever you are...thanks for the inspiration!

Top: $9 (Old Navy)
Red skinnies: $18.99 (Kohl's)
Sandals: Gift (F21)
Necklace: Already had (NY&Co.)
The Vintage Modern Wife
Also linked up to Real Girl Style Style Statement Tuesday The Pleated Poppy

Monday, November 5, 2012

How I Participated in Menu Plan Monday

I typically sit with my husband and plan out a week's menu on Sundays. He's kind of picky, so if I'm going to introduce a new meal, I like him to know ahead of time so that he can prepare. He's getting a lot better about trying new things; after nearly 11 years of marriage, I can't tell you what a big deal that is!

Monday: Chicken Penne Alfredo
Tuesday: Barbecue Chicken Baked Potatoes (find the recipe here)
Wednesday: Cheese, Sausage, and Potato Soup
Thursday: Pasta e Fagioli Soup with Homemade Rustic Bread
Friday: Chicken, Black Bean, and Rice Enchiladas with Homemade Salsa

I borrowed the picture of the bread from Simply So Good. But it is simple and it is SO good.

Linked up to Menu Plan Monday.

How I Made a Rustic Flag

A couple of years ago, when I first discovered blogs (how IS it that I was so late to the party???), of the first blogs that I fell in love with was The Lettered Cottage. I just loved absolutely-stinking-everything about her taste and style. She does the kinds of things that I would think I'd like to do if I had the time, energy, money...okay, if I had the patience and stick-to-it-iveness to tackle projects that take longer than a naptime to finish.

She did a series on decorating mantles for different seasons, and while I didn't (and still don't) have a mantle, this rustic, beach-inspired flag caught my eye instantly.

I had to make something like it for myself, and this is what I came up with.

I bought six picket-fence boards from Lowe's (I think they were around $1.24 apiece), cut them down (by hand!) to a size that I felt would work, and then painted them all red. Then I painted over each one with paint that I already had on hand from other projects, and painted the metal star that had been given to me red as well. I distressed them just by rubbing over the boards with steel wool...the steel wool actually left a little bit of a gray tone behind, which wasn't what I was going for, but worked out well for me! They are fastened together on the underside by two small boards that run from top to bottom (I nailed the fence boards to the small boards).

Linked up to The Brass Apple Mad In Crafts Project Inspire Coastal CharmYesterday on Tuesday

Saturday, November 3, 2012

What I Wore (Or Texas Novembers Are Warm)

Top: $5 (Kohl's)
Jeans: $24.95 (Forever 21)
Shoes: Already had (Charlotte Russe)
So ordinarily, I'd hesitate to pay full-price for anything, but I feel like jeans are a totally different ball of wax. We wear them so much that it's a good idea to have jeans that fit well and  that we feel comfortable in. Plus, I had a store credit, so I didn't truly feel like I was paying full-price. And I've been in such a denim slump that it was worth it to me.

Linked up to Show Off Friday WTFab Still Being Molly Covered In Grace

Friday, November 2, 2012

How I Wore 1 Dress 3 Ways (Or Having a 5-Year-Old Cameraman is a Challenge)

I bought this dress on clearance at Target for around $6 when I was pregnant with #4. I think I bought quite a few things for after she was born while I was pregnant with her...I think it was because I kept looking forward to no longer being pregnant. Don't get me wrong. I love, love, LOVE having my babies, but my pregnancies are tough (sickness, bedrest, pre-term labor, hospitalizations, weekly injections to keep baby in long enough to live, and always that terrifying thought that I might not be able to keep him/her inside looming overhead). I think pregnancy is a dirty trick, in a way...and those women who say, "I LOVE being pregnant! I never felt more beautiful!" ??? I want to push them down. I think penguins have the right idea...lay an egg, hand it over to the hubs, and say, "So long, honey! I'm headed to the ocean TO EAT MYSELF SILLY for the next nine months!"

Anyway, back to the dress. Usually I wear it with bronze-ish peep-toes and a big silver necklace. I don't know why I didn't put them on this particular day. Maybe my camera operator was telling me to get a move on.

Dress: $6 (Target)
Blazer: $3.99 (Thrifted)
Tights: Already had
Shoes: Already had (Kohl's)

Dress: $6 (Target)

Black l/s tee: Already had (F21)
Tights: Already had
Boots: $30 (Kohl's)
Scarf: Already had (F21)

Linked up to Musings of A Housewife (Fashion Friday)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

How I Make Pie Crust (Or You Don't Need a Rolling Pin)

I try to avoid convenience foods whenever possible. It irritates me to spend more than  I need to on anything, especially when I'm convinced that I can do or make whatever-it-is at least as well as the store-bought version, and usually I feel like I can make or do it better. Sometimes I don't have any confidence issues.

Anytime you see a recipe that calls for a pie crust -- and especially a store-bought one-- please, for the love, try this recipe before you reach for anything off the shelf or out of the freezer!!! Your body may thank you for not pickling it with a ton of preservatives and ingredients that you can't even pronounce. It may not thank you for falling off the diet wagon, but that's a totally different story anyway....

You need:
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup oil
3 TBSP milk (or a splash more if your crust is too dry)
1/2 tsp. salt
pie plate

Dump all of the ingredients into the pie plate willy-nilly.....

...use a fork to mix it all together...

...(it should look something like this)...

...and then, using your fingers, press the dough into the plate to form the crust, and prick the bottom with the fork.

Obviously, I don't worry about whether or not it's Better-Homes-and-Gardens pretty or Martha-Stewart perfect. To me, some battles are worth fighting and some just aren't.

At this point, you could bake it at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes or until it's golden (I always have to keep checking oven is not fabulous).

Or you could fill it...this one is a yummy fudge pie...

...and bake according to the recipe.

Almost looks good enough to eat, doesn't it?

I've been making pie crust using this recipe since i was a teenager. The first time I ever made a pie for my Mammaw, she took a bite, looked at me, and asked if I made my own crust. "Yes, ma'am!" She picked her fork back up, resumed eating, and said, "It's not everybody that can make a good pie crust."

Now, if an Ozarks-born-and-raised Mammaw tells you that you make a good pie crust, you'd better believe it's true. Mammaw didn't "tell stories."

This post is linked to House of Hepworths Don't Waste Your Homemaking Thrifty 101 What's Cooking Love? Here Comes the Sun Skip To My Lou Cindy's Recipes and Writing