October 29, 2013

Grim grinning Blands come out to socialize!

Do you know that song?  It's a Disney one, of course!  It is from the Haunted Mansion:)

We LOVE Halloween around here.  Well, we actually love all holidays, it gives us a chance to celebrate life and spend time together and we are crazy about that stuff.  Dave & I have been ready for Halloween ever since our adults-only trip to Disney a few weeks ago, where we attended our first Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween party.  Man on man was it fun!  Just look at those smiles...

We didn't dress up, but we did buy the party-goer-only tee shirt for 2013.  I would have dressed up, but Dave felt silly doing so since we didn't have Ashley with us.  I guess we would have look like two adult dorks all dressed up at Magic Kingdom.  Except everyone else did it;)  

When we got home, I meant to decorate for Halloween right away, but we only got around to it this past Sunday.  Better late than never, right?  We strung up our lights and such...

We positioned our tombstones and hung the spider webs {sans spiders, Tina does.not.like spiders!} and these cute little signs from the ONE SPOT at Target that say "Eat Locals" and "Bummer" with a little girl whose candy bag ripped.  They crack me up every time I see them!

Can you believe our flowers are still in bloom?  I must say, I love perennials.  I'm never going back.  Those babies are tough and they last AND they come back!

Here is a non-crooked pic of the house, all spooked up.  I need a better camera, I tell you!

The lights look awesome at night...see?

SPOOKY!!  I enjoy how the tombstones cast creepy shadows on our front deck fence.  Awesome effect.

So then last night we went out to get our pumpkins for our yearly tradition of carving.  We love to go to the corn maze too, but this year AND last year we haven't been able to make it work:/  We are too busy, there is way too much going on!

Ashley is hard at work on hers.  I got all our templates from here.  Yes, they are all Disney ones.  We really love Disney.  No, really.  We are planning our spring break trip.  It's NOT soon enough?  Get it?  I.must.have.Disney!!!  We are going to end up moving there soon.  Sooner than soon.  Just you wait!

My pumpkin is Rapunzel of course, because Tangled is actually one of my favorite movies.  I know, you don't have to tell me that I am so weird.  I already know it.  Thanks;)

Dave said, "Take my picture!  I'm working very hard here!!!" and he was, it took him an hour to do his!

There is mine all lit up, I really love how it turned out!

Ashley did Mike W from Monsters, Inc.  Isn't he cute?

Dave did a vampire Mickey.  We love vampires over here too.  Especially the sparkly kind;)

I love our little carving tradition.  We've been doing this for years, ever since Dave & I started dating so I believe this makes these our 7th pumpkins together?  Crazy...

Ashley has a Trunk or Treat event with the youth group at Mountain tonight.  She is going as Boo from Monsters, Inc (yes...a Disney character!) isn't she so cute?  Way too grown up in my opinion.  It needs to stop!

We are still debating on what to do for Halloween.  We told Ashley she can have some friends over to dress up and hand out candy and go get candy and probably watch a scary movie.  They want to watch the Conjuring.  I'm scared just thinking about it.  Dave told me yesterday he wants to dress up, and I am totally down with that but don't want to spend any money.  So we will see what happens!

Does your family have any fun Fall traditions?  What are you doing for Halloween?

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October 25, 2013

Pumpkins, pots and posies

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Ok yes, I've been a little quiet this week.  It may be because the week started out AWESOME in Disney World.  It also may be because I was deathly ill for the rest of the week.  But let's not get hung up on those details;)

A few weeks ago I wanted to jazz up the deck in a fallish way, so I bought some flowers...

Aren't they pretty?  I know I know, they are not posies.  The title just worked, ok? Also, there was a project that involved this... 

I have all these plastic flower pots, and they were all different colors.  Kind of annoying.  So you know me, I broke out the spray paint and voila!  They are all the same color!

Sorry the pics were taken at dusk, so they aren't great.

Since these are outdoor items, and will weather the weather {haha} I wanted to put a protective coating on them.  So I sprayed them with this.  I had this already.  But, I had to go out for more Aubergine purple spray paint.  Dang it!

I wanted to make stands out of these, so I flipped one over and glued it to the bottom of another one.  They make a great stand.  Love it!  Then I planted the mums.  Again, sorry about the dark pics.

Ah yes, the pumpkins!!!  I was on a roll that night, so I dove right into another project.  I thought it would be fun to paint a few pumpkins that I picked up at Home D when I had to go get the other can of spray paint;)

I used these fun sponge brushes that I had laying around.  They are perfect for making polka dots!!  It was so fun and easy!!

For the other one, I did a free hand chevron zig zag type deal.  It was a white pumpkin and I used some pretty blue paint from Ashley's room redo.  So sweet!

Here is a better pic of some of the flowers and the pumpkins.  It's a fun fall update that makes me smile every time I walk outside.

I'm not sure if our Halloween decor will make it up this year.  It's made it out of the attic, but that's as far as it goes!

How are you decorating for fall?

October 13, 2013

Weekend Update 10/13

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Howdy!  How was your weekend?  Mine was ok...quiet really, which is nice.  We have a busy weekend coming up since we are going to Disney for 3 days for the Food & Wine festival, so we took this opportunity to stay in more than we usually do.  I've been sorta out of it lately, with all the stress and worry about things that really don't matter, so it was good to be a hermit this weekend to try to shake all that off.  I'll get through it:)

We spent the day yesterday afternoon at Towson Town and IKEA and HomeGoods.  There were a few random things we needed for the house, so we went in search for them.  We started at Crate and Barrel, where Dave found these chairs that he loved.  They were ridiculously huge!

I had to say NO to those, lol.  What on earth would we do with those huge things?  Oy!  Anyways, we wandered around C&B dreaming about buying everything, bought a few things, then headed to Pottery Barn and Sur la Table.  We made our way to White Marsh, stopping for nachos at Red Brick Station, and then spent a good bit in IKEA looking and dreaming some more.  Our last stop was HomeGoods which is easily one of my favorite stores.

After that long afternoon we unpacked our spoils...

I know, totally random things right?  I needed more RIBBA frames for some art and projects, and that fabric basket is for our 1st floor to put our shoes and random things that usually land on the floor and therefore drive me crazy {I'm weirdly OCD about random stuff on my floors!} and we got a few other odds and ends that were fun.

At C&B I bought these little canisters for my salt & pepper that I use to cook with.  I wanted jars like the chefs on food network use, so I can open them up and use a pinch or two as needed when I am cooking.

Aren't they cute?  They were only a few bucks each, and I am happy I bought them.  I love things that I can write with chalk on!

Speaking of, I also bought this acacia utensil holder at Target from the clearance racks, it cost $4.48 and I am using it to hold our tea.  Don't you love what I wrote on it?  The other side that I didn't snap a pic of says "Fancy a cup?"  So cute!  Downton fans will understand.  Those are sugar cubes that I store in a mason jar.  Don't mason jars make everything look so pretty?


I'm not sure if you can see it very well but in this pic below, on the left of the bottom shelf is my new honey pot from C&B.  I've been using honey in a lot more of my recipes and it is a PAIN to pour honey and not make a huge mess.  So I picked up this cute honey pot for a few dollars.  Life has been made easier all ready.  I like putting honey in my tea too...

When I was at Target I was tempted to by some of this art, like the one piece on the bottom that says INSPIRE CREATE ACHIEVE.  One of my next projects is to jazz up my office space a little bit here at the house, so that I am motivated to write, to create, to do...so I think I may steal that art idea and DIY something.  I love the bike art that says "Enjoy the Ride" too.  Isn't that what life should be all about?  Enjoying the ride??  Yes, my stressed out self needs to remember that, so I may DIY art like that too;)  There were some other cute things that that I snapped photos of thinking, "I could totally make that."  Now...let's see if I actually do!

I'm busy setting up my porch and Halloween decor, so I'll be sharing all of that with you this week!  I hope this week goes well, I have a lot to do but it's a short week, and next weekend I'll be visiting the most magical place on earth for three blessed days with Dave.  I can't wait!!!

Are you decorating for fall?  Or maybe finding fun little things for your house to jazz it up or make things easier?


October 9, 2013

Life, meal planning, and Italian Sub Soup

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Has anyone else been super stressed lately?  I'm sure if you work in the school system, it may have caught up with you.  I was talking to a few friends at work today and I said I am just waiting for the day to come when I feel "all caught up" and feel like I am getting through the waters instead of just plain drowning in them.  I hate feeling this way.  Whenever I am not at work, all I want to do is think about it...how can I be better at my job?  How can I do more?  Am I even helping students anymore?  I pray every day that I can be more effective and help shape and mold the lives of those sweet kids, but most days I leave work wondering if I did anything good that day, besides sit at my desk and analyze all this data.  Data that I have to keep track of to make sure I am being effective.  Isn't that ironic?

I think the world just seems to be falling apart right now to a lot of us, with the government not getting their act together, and the school systems being told what to do by said shady government and therefore putting tons of expectations on our teachers and admin and other staff (ahem...counselors...) that they don't even understand...it's just a MESS.

My comfort is that I get to come home to my family and spend time with them.  I get to cook and read and do some DIY project or spruce up a part of the house and *sometimes* that makes me feel like I have my life together.  Believe me when I tell you, I totally don't!  

One thing I have been trying this week is sticking to a menu plan for each night, and cooking a scrumptious dinner to enjoy with the family.  I really love to cook.  Do you?  I'm finding that it's a stress reliever lately.  I need lots of stress relievers to tackle life right now!!!  I think I told you before that I  follow this blog and love her idea about planning your meals on Google Cal.  It's changing my life, for real!

I went onto Google Calendar this weekend and planned out our meals for this week.  I actually have been using the recipes that Edie suggested on her blog, and I'll give you the links to those.  Everything I've made as been really yummy!  The only thing I did on my own was the pork meal on Monday, I ended up cooking a roast I had in the freezer already, instead of doing the crock pot chops listed below.  Why buy something when you have some meat already stocked in the freezer?  Seemed silly...anyways...here is a screen shot of my calendar...

Here is a closer shot...

So you put it all in Google Cal and copy/paste the recipe into the details of the calendar.  Then, you go to your IPhone and sync it with Google Cal and look at this...get ready...it IS life changing...

Your meals are listed right there on your ICal...and if you hit that, guess what happens?

The recipe that you copy and pasted on your Google Cal is RIGHT THERE on your FLIPPIN phone. So all you have to do is go into your kitchen with your phone and its ALL.RIGHT.THERE in the palm of your hand.  Not just any old recipe that you pull up from food network, this is a recipe that you've planned for and plotted and shopped for...right there!

Ok, enough of that archaic excitement and in all seriousness, it really has helped me a lot this week.  I shopped very deliberately at the store on Sunday and tried to only bought what I needed for the recipes and then daily things that we need all the time (milk, eggs, ham for sammies, fruit, etc) and I spent $30 less then I usually do.  I actually would have spent even less than that but Dave was with me on that trip and I ALWAYS end up spending $20-$30 extra on things when he is around.  He convinces me we need the Reese's Cups (you know my sugar gets low a lot) and the pickles (come on babe, I can't eat a sandwich without pickles)!!!!!!  LOL.  So yeah, I could have spent less.  I buy a lot of organic and whole food things now, so that automatically jacks up prices but that is worth it to me.

This has also helped me because I am not scrambling around looking for the recipe or wondering if I have the ingredients or stressed out because I don't know how to make it.  With it on my phone, it's easy to shop for, it's easy to glance at the recipe the night before, or the day of before I cook, to get familiar with what I am doing.  It's also helped me cook three new recipes this week that we have really loved.  It helps being organized!  

Ok onto the delicious soup I made tonight.  It's a recipe from Edie's blog, since I was on there a lot learning about this whole cooking-gone-digital thing...It's called Italian Sub Soup.  Yes, you heard me right.  Think of a delicious Italian sub from the deli, but take out the bread and add in the broth.  It was seriously delightful and you need to go to the store right now, RIGHT NOW, and get the ingredients to make it.  I served it with a rustic wheat baguette and butter.  Did I say it was seriously delightful yet?

Here is the link to the recipe for Italian Sub Soup.

My pictures don't do it justice...

You throw a whole lotta Italian type meat in the pot (salami, pepperoni, Canadian bacon, deli ham) and some garlic, peppers, and onion and let it all sing together in olive oil.  I could've eaten it this way.  I swear I am part Italian somewhere inside me.  I LOVE ALL THINGS ITALIAN!  Anyways, caramelize all the meat before adding anything else in.  You won't regret it.  Well, your thighs and butt might, but hey...at least there are very little carbs in this;)  Silver lining?

Sorry, I got distracted.  Anyways, then you add a 28oz can of tomatoes (I used crushed), chicken broth (I used 1/2 chicken and 1/2 veggie) some honey and balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, oregano and red pepper flakes.  

At the very end I threw in some spinach to give it that healthy kick;)  No seriously, her recipe says you should and it's very tasty.

The meat flavors this whole soup.  It was amazing.  We devoured it and although we have leftovers because it makes a lot...I'm sure that by tomorrow night it will all be gone.  It's that good!  

If you cook it, please come back and tell me that you are amazed too.  I love finding recipes that I can use over and over and with fall and winter coming up, soup is a fun thing to add into our meal rotation. I am hitting "repeat" on my Google Cal to make this once a month.  I may be forced to make it earlier then that, we'll see.  

Anyways, head over to Edie's blog because she really is lovely and I enjoy reading over there, and please try this recipe because you haven't lived until you do.  I promise.  

The other recipes that I made this week were also so yummy and good.  Here they are:

Good night!

October 6, 2013

Just say no to brass

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I've said this before but I will say it again.  I really loathe the standard brass fixtures that builders loved so much in the 80's and 90's.  I can't imagine why anyone would think that they look good?  I'm constantly battling brass in my house.  I spray painted the 1st floor door handles oil rubbed bronze last year.   I switched Ashley's bedroom door handles with pretty nickle type ones.  Throughout the past three years in this house, Dave and I lamented about these.  Be prepared...they are gross...

These things are just about the ugliest outdoor lights ever.  Ever.  And yes, those are dead stink bug carcasses in there.  Not only are they ugly, but they allow dead bugs to accumulate like snow in them.   Yuck.

Something had to be done!  Every time we looked at them, we talked about how much we hated them. Repainting them wasn't even an option for me, because of all those dead bugs.  I wanted them in the trash can, pronto!

We found ourselves at Lowe's for another reason over the summer, I can't remember what that reason was at them moment, but we happened upon the outdoor fixture aisle and remembered, "We must get rid of those disgusting lights!"  So we hemmed and hawed and finally decided on these.

I love the lantern look of them, so vintage but also a little industrial, and of course they are oil rubbed bronze which I enjoy in a fixture!

Dave so bravely volunteered to take those gross old ones down, and install the new ones.  When you do things like this, PUH-lease turn off your electricity.  We shut off the whole house, just to be safe.  Our electrical outlets are always wonky, and it's better to be safe than sorry.  As in electrocuted!

He had some hard times, but with the help of his smart wife, he finally figured it out and used his manly strength to put those things in their place.  It involved a little twisting of metal to get them attached, but he did it in the end!  My fixture hero!

I love them so much.  I hate the old ones so much.  This are perfect!

They make me think of Colonial Williamsburg.  Or Boston.  I'm just not sure why, but I roll with it!

Such a better sight then the bug filled grossness.  I am happy with how lovely our outdoor space has been looking lately!  Here is an updated shot of it all.

The cart and the outdoor rug are holding up very nicely!  Today I am planning on buying some fall flowers and some other fall-ish things to decorate out there, it's been so nice in the evenings lately that we love sitting out and enjoying the space.

Have a blessed Sunday!!!