Saturday, August 11, 2012

Summer Hiatus?

This summer has been anything but normal. It started off great with a mini vacation to New Mexico and Carlsbad Caverns.

It was straight down!! Huge cavern that was so beautiful!

Then a few nights up in Roswell and some funny encounters.

 My son got his drivers license in June and then July 5th he drove his car into a dry creek.

 It was a total loss and thankfully he walked away with only a few bumps and a broken front tooth. In one week we bought him another car and us a new truck. My hubby had all his lower teeth extracted and lower dentures put in. He had the uppers done already but he says this is horrible and hurts way worse then the top. Now its two weeks till school starts and I finally got school clothes bought. Its just been one thing after another and hopefully with school starting and fall on its way (eventually) maybe things can go back to normal.

I did have one cool thing happen... I was published! HAHA! I submitted this picture I took of a storm rolling in over our hospital to our local newspaper and it made the front page!

I sure miss those storms right about now. Here in Texas you don't see much rain during the summer. We do have a cold front moving in and the highs are expected to only be in the 90's... I miss the 90 degree temps!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Lovely round table

Usually I find myself browsing the local antique shops. Somehow I came across a booth who I assume must be leaving the shop for this poor lonely table was the one and only thing to occupy its space.

For sale $20 the price tag screamed... yet I walked away. All night the thoughts of what to do with such a table rattled my brain. The next morning I woke up and fixed a big glass of iced coffee and sat down with my laptop. I went through my Pinterest trying to think of something. Eventually I bit the bullet and went back to buy the table. I came home and sanded her down and got her all cleaned up. Finally deciding what my plan of attack was I came up with this....

I painted the bottom a dark chocolate brown and the top a nice cream. Then she sat again while I figured out exactly what to do with the top. I knew I wanted something to personalize it more.

I have a metal "S" that sits on a shelf in the living room and I traced out every bit of detail on to the table. Then with a tiny paint brushed filled it all in. She is still needs another coat of poly but wow am I so happy with the result! Now I have a new side table for the living room! I love how things work themselves out :)

I'm sharing this at :
Miss Mustard Seed-Furniture Feature Friday

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Shopping adventures

Recently my hubby and me went browsing through several stores. There is one in particular that I love in our small town mall. I see so many things in this store that I see people do on blogs its not even funny. Specially when we are talking prices. WOW they are expensive! But there are so many things I love!
Lets start off with these cute bunnies...
$25 each.. hmm wonder if I can find some bunnies at the dollar store like I did the pumpkins back in the fall. Betcha I could!

Rooster $25 and the beehive cake stand which I soooo love is $65. Rooster same thing goes try to find some thing cheaper to just modge podge .. the cake stand I'd probably have to bite the bullet and just buy it! 

This adorable small dresser was $199... you can find stamp things at Graphics Fairy online and apply it yourself to a piece of furniture. I'm hoping to do this soon!

This is a rustic bar my hubby was taking a look at for $599. Maybe find a piece of furniture for the bottom and build the top yourself. And that's what he said he wanted to do. Eventually! 
So many things to look at and so many cheaper methods to do it. I'm ready to jump in and get started!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Olive dresser

A friend recently moved back to New York and left me some goodies! A dresser with matching headboard and night stand and a huge wooden end table. I began with the dresser first, my son asked for this to be in his room so he picked out the color.

Your basic blonde color bedroom set
He picked out an olive color which I was a little worried how it would turn out but it ended up a beautiful color for a teenage boys room.

I stained the top and painted the bottom. But the stain didn't do so well on those side pieces. Of course that bugs me to no end but my son is very happy with it. And that is what matters most!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Camp Recipes

Next in my camping series the best part... food! 

First tip cut and bag your veggies before you even leave! Foods like onions, bell peppers and carrots can be cut ahead of time put in zip-lock baggies and toss in the cooler. Form large hamburger meat patties into zip-lock bags too. Remember these will shrink some and its best to get a higher cut to cut back on grease. Cook up your chicken ahead of time too. Chicken takes forever on an open fire or those standing grills, best to be safe. Plus it saves you cooking time!

Have yourself a camp meal planner. Say you will be staying two nights…
Night one- Foil Packet Dinner
Dessert- banana boats
Next day
Breakfast - breakfast burritos
Lunch- sandwiches, chips and fruit
Dinner- bbq chicken fajitas
Dessert- S'more buffet
Last day breakfast- Omelet in a bag
Lunch- sandwiches, chips and fruit
Then usually you pack up and head back home! J

Foil packet dinner-
Ground hamburger meat patty
Season salt
Lay down a large piece of foil place one hamburger patty.
On top place some sliced potato, onion, carrot and mushrooms. Sprinkle with season salt and pepper place tablespoon of butter. Fold the foil up pocket style and seal the edges well. Toss on the grill and cook 20 or so minutes per side.  My kids usually liked a little ketchup with this once it was done.

Banana Boats-
Toppings- chocolate chips, marshmallows, peanut butter or strawberry jam.. your favorite toppings
Slit each banana lengthwise through the peel, making sure not to cut all the way through to the other side. Then stuff with yummy things such as , chocolate chips, marshmallows even peanut butter or strawberry jam.
Wrap each banana with foil and set on the grill for about 5 minutes allowing enough time for the chocolate to melt. Open carefully they will be hot and eat with a spoon.

Breakfast Burrito-
1 package large flour tortillas
6 eggs
1lb breakfast sausage or bacon whatever you prefer
bell pepper
shredded cheese

Wrap the tortillas flat in foil and place on part of the grill with less flame, flip every so often. Cook the sausage in a pan until no longer pink. Remove to a bowl. In same pan saute the onion and bell pepper until tender. Then add the eggs and scramble. Return the sausage to the pan and toss. Lay a tortilla on a plate, spoon the sausage/ egg filling to one side and top with cheese. Roll up just once over filling then fold in two sides then continue rolling. Helps hold all the good stuff inside. Serves 4 or 5 people. My gang can eat a lot of these. I usually cook double.

BBQ Chicken Fajita-
With these I usually cook the chicken ahead of time on the grill at home. Then put in a zip-lock bag and freeze. By this time I'm exhausted from the heat and a day on the water. Its a great quick filling meal!

Chicken breast
BBQ sauce
Bell Pepper
Large flour tortillas 

Cut up the onion and bell pepper in long strips. Put in a pan with a tablespoon of butter and saute till tender crisp. Place chicken in a large zip-lock bag and using a wooden mallet or rolling pin beat and flatten. Remove from bag and sprinkle a little salt and pepper then lay on the grill. Once the chicken is no longer pink brush on bbq sauce and cook for another minute per side. Layer chicken, veggies and cheese on tortillas and serve. You could also grill some fresh corn to go along with this. Just make sure you allow the corn to soak in water for about an hour before grilling.

S'more Buffet-
I found this pic on pinterest and it came from My Recipes. Cute idea! With some new twist on ingredients!

Omelet in a bag-

Basically is what it says. 

You will need- 
Zip-lock baggies

 Bring a large pot of water to boil. Crack eggs into a bowl add salt and pepper and whisk together. Dump the eggs into the baggies along with ham and cheese. Press out all the air and seal the bag. Place into boiling water for 12-15 minutes. Carefully remove from water. Top with more cheese if you like J

Simple and fast but good! That is what its all about when camping!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Beef and Broccoli Stir-fry

Mmmhmm another great recipe! Fast and good! I doubled the sauce which did help coat all the broccoli. I also added thin sliced fresh carrots. Deeliteful! :)

Beef and Broccoli Stir-fry

3 tablespoons cornstarch , divided
1/2 cup water , plus
2 tablespoons water , divided
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 lb boneless round steak or 1 lb charcoal chuck steak , cut into thin 3-inch strips
2 tablespoons vegetable oil , divided
4 cups broccoli florets
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion , cut into wedges
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
hot cooked rice

1-In a bowl, combine 2 tablespoons cornstarch, 2 tablespoons water and garlic powder until smooth.
2-Add beef and toss.
3-In a large skillet or wok over medium high heat, stir-fry beef in 1 tablespoon oil until beef reaches desired doneness; remove and keep warm. (Don't over cook the meat or it will be tough)
4-Stir-fry broccoli and onion in remaining oil for 4-5 minutes.
5-Return beef to pan.
6-For the sauce combine soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger and remaining cornstarch and water until smooth; add to the pan.
7-Cook and stir for 2 minutes. It will thicken fast so get it quickly tossed around to coat everything.
8-Serve over rice.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Camping Part Three

Time for another part in my Camping Series. You’ve heard the slogan for Boy Scouts “Always be prepared” this is very true! I was Cubmaster for my sons Cub Scout pack for three years. I learned a lot! Kids will be hungry all hours of the day while camping! There just isn’t anyway around it. Plus you don’t want to have something happen and there isn’t even a Bandaid in sight! You need to pack according to the length of your stay. Clothes, cooking gear, food, blankets, pillows, first aid and activities. It can be overwhelming to make sure you have everything before you leave the driveway.

I use totes to help me sort items. The large deep black tote.. this is for our cooking gear, camp site gear and anything else that might be needed. Here is my checklist for the big black tote:
Pots n pans
Big spoons
Cutting Board
Paper towels/ toilet paper
Pot holders
Paper plates
Plastic utensils
Clothes pins
Playing cards
Ziplock bag with insect spray and sunblock
Inside a plastic bag I’ll have dish soap, wash rags, a bar of soap placed inside panty hose, empty laundry soap container with the push button spout. (I’ll explain that later)
First Aid Kit
Charcoal/lighter fluid and lighter  (Pack these separately from all the above items)
Small radio

In the picture above you can see two thin totes I use pack up the dry foods. Items such as breads, snacks, chips etc.. Can be store without the worry of a whole loaf of bread being smashed. In the other thin tote items like potatoes, onions, fresh fruits are stored. Let’s face it no matter how hard you try there will be bugs and flies around your camp site eventually. These totes are a great way to keep unwanted pests away from your food! Plus before a camping trip I will have these on the kitchen table going through my check list while packing. Organization… it helps!

You know you’ve seen it.. the commercial about space bags? Well they really do work. After a camping trip everything gets washed. Sleeping bags are bulky and hard to store away but not if you have a space bag.. gee sound like a commercial huh? Haha! Seriously they are awesome! I wash and dry all 5 sleeping bags put them into a giant space bag I purchased at Wal-Mart. Then they are stored up in the rafters of our work shop. No bugs, no dust! Next trip they are clean and all you have to do is throw the bag in with everything else you take along. Space bags work great for pillows too. Squish them down and they take up less space for the trip.

Remember the bar of soap inside panty hose and the empty laundry soap container, ok here is whats up with that. Once at your campsite designate a hand washing station away from food and sleeping areas. Place the bar of soap inside one of the panty hose if you can find a low branch tie the panty hose around it letting the soap dangle below. Fill up your empty clean laundry soap container with water. When hands need to be washed you push the button spout for water and use the soap in the panty hose. It keeps the soap from getting nasty with mud, twigs or leaves. This was something we did at Cubscout Day Camp and it worked great!

How about the rope and clothes pins listed on our check list? Tie your rope around two trees to form a clothes line. When towels or clothing needs to dry you just hang them on the clothes line. You can also tie battery powered lanterns on the same rope/clothesline and suspend them between trees to help light up your campsite. If there is a need for an outdoor changing area this works great as well. Just hang old bed sheets or blankets over the rope for privacy.

I know some may think wow this is a lot to bring. Trust me after years of camping you figure out what needs your family may have. Plus you learn what you needed the most got left behind. Always be prepared.. yes we know. J

 Up next a thoroughly stocked first aid kit, activities and camp recipes! Till then….

Friday, January 27, 2012

Grilled Chicken and Veggie Skewers

I love simple dinners that taste so good! I made chicken and veggie skewers then tossed them on the grill. You could do this on an outside or stove top grill. Super easy!

If you are using wooden skewers make sure you let them soak in water for about 30 minutes. Otherwise they will catch fire and burn which isn't so good!

First chop your veggies in large chunks.. I used bell pepper and onions, you could also use small button mushrooms or squash too. I had two chicken breast that I cut into bite size chunks. Thread them all on the skewer, I started and ended with the bell peppers since they are more stiff and everything doesn't fall off. You can certainly marinate them at this point in just a store bought italian dressing. I went ahead and popped them on the grill. Once the chicken was no longer pink I brushed some BBQ sauce on each skewer and cooked for another 3 minutes or so.

So while all the grilling was happening I cooked whole potatoes in the microwave for baked potatoes. This was a fast and really good dinner!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Baby Back Ribs

Yes I know its January... and yes I want some BBQ! I couldn't believe how easy this was, seriously.

Buy a package of ribs and your favorite bbq sauce thats it!
Cut the ribs in half and place in a large stock pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and let the ribs boil for an hour. On a large cookie sheet covered with foil place the boiled ribs on top and slather with the bbq sauce. Put the ribs in the oven on broil for 5 minutes. Ta-dah you are done! I'm sure you could finish on the grill outside also to give them more flavor.

They didn't last long around here :)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Camping part two

Welcome back! Today I’d like to continue my series on camping even though you might be under a foot of snow right now. Still you might consider camping later in the year or if you’re brave go soon! I’m giving you my tips and tricks, recipes and activity ideas on camping.

 First things first.. time and location. You don’t need a week of vacation to do this just a weekend get-a-way is perfect! Do some research on nearby places such as State Parks and local camp sites. We prefer to camp at little out of the way places. It is much more authentic I guess you could say and quiet.

If you are camping in an RV make sure there are water, electric and sewer hook ups. And that the pad sites are large enough for your RV. If you are spending your night in a tent don’t expect the stars and crickets chirping to lull you into dreamy bliss if you are placed too close to an RV using a generator. Most places have separate sites for RV and tent campers, double check to make sure. We stayed somewhere before that did not offer electric/ water for the RV’s and it was loud all night with the generator they used!

Ask! Ask friends, co-workers or family if they have ideas of where to stay. Majority of the time this is where you will find a perfect spot. Use google to search places in your area. Look through pictures and check prices many require you to make reservations. Here is a good site which lets you search all over the United States and Canada Choose a state and search a listing of cities and campgrounds. Click on the campground name and it takes you to an interactive map of the campground. It will list all the amenities, activities, restaurants and local attractions.

Not up for a night of camping? How about a day trip to a nearby State Park? A local day trip for us would be Cleburne State Park its close and offers a swimming area with picnic tables, restrooms and a playground. For a small day time fee you can spend the day relaxing on a blanket watching the kids splash around.
Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose, TX will take you into a whole other world. See an actual dinosaur track still in the river bed. If the water is low enough you can walk into the river bed and even step right in a track! They have a small learning center with fossils and skeletons of dinosaurs. Picnic and campsites are also available. Along with several hiking and bike trails.

One year we made the long trip to Graceland in Memphis, TN. I packed a cooler with drinks, snacks and lunch items. We stopped at a roadside rest area in Louisiana for lunch before continuing on to Memphis. Seriously I have never seen trees so tall like I did in Louisiana! After spending the night and the next morning touring Graceland we left Memphis for the trip back. We stayed at Crater of Diamonds State Park in Louisiana. The next morning we dug for diamonds, but found some pretty rocks instead! Haha! But still it was the neatest thing for my son who loves digging for anything. And people have found large diamonds at this location so you might get lucky! The picnic area was absolutely beautiful! Moss covered the ground like carpet and the trees were so tall!

Many State Parks have a natural theme surrounding them. Such as Enchanted Rock State Park just north of Fredericksburg, TX. It was huge! And you could hike up to the very top! The views were amazing!

You can see people at the top.. We had a long ways to go!

Made it! Absolutely beautiful views!

 I love places like this. I can learn so much about the history of a certain area! Yes, I am a history geek!
In a time where every penny counts look back on how family vacations or trips were. Back when our grandparents took our parents out to see the Grand Canyon. So want to go there someday! But as I said every penny counts and gas sure takes up a lot of those pennies. Search into local or nearby places. You might be surprised at what you find!

Next week- Camp organization and supplies..stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Camping and picnics- part one

There is something about packing up food and a blanket for a picnic that invigorates me! Also to pack up a couple days worth of food, a tent and to go camping! Of course over time the way we camp or picnic has sure changed. "Roughing it" can still be applied today if you choose a tent next to a bubbling stream with no toilets or showers or even internet!!! Yikes! For some people thoughts of that is what keeps them from camping. As for myself? I love it! These are photos I've pinned on Pinterest and its sort of a history of camping and picnics.

 People have always camped. The need to travel made camping necessary. Funerals, family reunions or weddings might have been far away from home. Or perhaps it was after church on a Sunday afternoon. The family would load up the wagon and head to the nearest stream for fishing and a picnic.

The lack of ice and ice chests to keep food from spoiling made having to hunt or fish for fresh meat very important. Even now we might "fish for our supper"!

In the 1940's after World War II America seen a boom of family camping. Enjoying life, vacations and travel were high priority! Primitive tent camps were dotting the rivers, lakes and canyons.

1940's-1960's seen a transformation in how we camped. Station wagons were turning into sleeping and cooking quarters. 

The first RV's were produced

Teardrop trailers became popular since they could be towed by cars with much more ease.

Here is a picnic scene from the 1957 film "Love in the Afternoon" starring Audrey Hepburn and Gary Cooper. A small folding table is transformed into a quaint picnic table!

As we rolled into the 70s large driving RV's such as the Winnebago and its famous "W" hit the scene

80s, 90s and today has brought a big variety of RV's. Pop-up tent/campers, pull behind, 5th wheel on up to the very lap of luxury. Meeting every convenience possibly imagined. With washer and dryers to big screen TV's the camping experience has evolved to provide all the comforts of home.

Sometimes with all the modern convenience we forget to take the road less traveled. A spur of the moment get away to a near by lake or park. Just pack up and go...

Plan to take your family on a picnic or a camping trip. Trust me do this!! We do several times a summer. It will be childhood memories your kids will cherish. Maybe even pass a long to their children. Let them get dirty, ride bikes and skip rocks across the water. Light up the campfire for smores and play card games at the picnic table by lamp light. 

This next picture is from my personal camera taken in 2008 at Lake Granbury, TX. One of our favorite places on De Cordova Bend. Nope.. no electric, no water.. only one bathroom with a toilet and sink nearby. Its beautiful and free (first come first serve basis)!

Over the next few weeks I'll be posting camp recipes, game ideas, tips and tricks to help make a camping weekend run as smooth as possible. This is a passion of mine just as important as my new passion in furniture make-overs. I want to share what I've learned over the years. So please check back and I hope to see ya soon!

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