Friday, January 31, 2014

Foodie Friday!

What a crazy week it's been here in the South!  We're a bit north of Birmingham so we didn't have the ice problems.  I have friends and family there and in Atlanta.  Luckily, everyone was safe and sound and out of the cold.  The problems up here have been just the general unpreparedness for day after day of single digit temperatures.  Days on end of temperatures in the 90s and 100s with humidity so high your clothes feel damp after being outside I can deal with.  9 degrees?  Not so much. The A/C repair companies have been working overtime because everyone's heat pumps just can't handle the workload.  Anyway, back to food!

I've been craving some White BBQ sauce and Christy Jordan's Alabama White Barbecue Sauce saved the day.  I slathered it on some chicken and fried some potatoes and everyone was happy.  The creamy, peppery, tangy-ness of this sauce is something that really should be know outside of North Alabama.

On Tuesday I used my new favorite cookbook - Carla Hall's Cooking with Love - and made Buffalo Wing Burgers.  I'm not a big wing fan but this recipe looked intriguing so I gave it a try.  I'm so glad I did!  Have you ever made something and like it so much that it doesn't matter if everyone else hates it you will be making it again?  This was one of those though luckily my family didn't hate it even though J is deeply suspicious of chicken burgers.  The spicy mayonnaise really makes these and is so simple to put together.  I didn't make the blue cheese slaw but I did crumble some Gorgonzola over my burger and it was amazing.  I ended up ordering this book which is good because my current copy has to go back to the library soon and I will miss it.

I made Pork Saltimbocca from my other current favorite cookbook Michael Symon's 5 in 5.  This is thin pork cutlets topped with sage and prosciutto and when I first looked at the recipe I was a little intimidating by the whole bundle thing.  Once I got started though his directions were clear enough that it was very easy and as usual quick to make.  The presentation is elegant enough to serve to company and the prep is so quick you wouldn't be stuck in the kitchen for very long.

Thursday was J's and my wedding anniversary (11 years!) so we left the Tornado with Emma and went to a nice dinner just the two of us.  It was lovely and the food was amazing.  I had a filet with Gorgonzola, white corn cheese grits, sweet potato hash and a chocolate souffle with a brandy Anglais.  I was so stuffed I could barely walk but it was worth every bite (and pound).

Pinterest -

For Chocolate Cake Day (really, it exists!) I made this Ultimate Death by Chocolate Cake.  While my interpretation could have placed in an Ugliest Cake Competition it was delicious.  So delicious in fact that it is now gone.  I think when I finish up 52 Weeks of Cupcakes I may move onto cakes. 

I also revisited my tried and true favorite  Soft Batch Style Chocolate Chip Cookies from Pickey Palate.  As usual they were everything a chocolate chip cookie should be.  I get lazy with these and melt the butter then cool to room temperature instead of letting it soften but the texture and flavor aren't affected.  

Next week I'll probably be pretty low key on sweets (see yesterday's Cupcake post) but I'm hoping to try out some new bread recipes.  It's been awhile since I've made bread and I kind of miss it.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Week 29 Cupcakes - Glazed Chocolate Muffins

This was how I felt this weekend as I dumped the majority of the apple pie cupcakes in the trash.   It doesn't bother me when I have to toss a bunch of food if I don't think its very good but these cupcakes were amazing.  It gets frustrating sometimes when I spend a lot of time baking and my family would much prefer a box of store bought cookies.  Normally I just tell myself that I enjoy baking and experimenting so it's their loss if they don't eat it.  This weekend though wasn't one of those times.  My time spent watching British TV reared it's head  and I wandered around talking about bloody families and bloody sweets and how they're bloody not eating any of it.  So I decided I wasn't going to make anything else and it'd show them right.

Well I didn't make cupcakes.  I made chocolate glazed muffins instead.  Probably not the harshest of revenge.

1. Source:  Everyday Reading - one of my favorite blogs!  Books and food in one place.

2. Ease of Recipe (1 being cake mix/canned icing - 5 tons of steps and very time consuming): 2.  Both the muffin and glaze are from scratch but I didn't even have to get out the mixer.

3. Changes Made: In my continuing streak of running out or not being able find essential ingredients I was completely out of milk.  I ended up substituting buttermilk in the muffins instead.

4. Problems:  Not really a problem but I would've liked a little more glaze.  Next time I'll probably double the glaze recipe.  Since I regularly run out of frosting this is definitely a me problem.

5.  Overall Impression:  These are really tasty muffins.  The texture and flavor reminded me of a Texas sheet cake I've made a few times.  The muffin was dense and lightly chocolate-y.  The glaze is rich and smooth.  They do a good job of providing a chocolate fix without being too heavy and rich. The finished product is so pretty with the shiny glaze.  They'd look nice in a brunch spread and they can do double duty as "not cupcake" cupcakes.

6. Quantity:  12

7. Make Again?  Definitely!  I'm curious to see how I like them with regular milk instead of buttermilk.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

What's For Lunch Wednesday - Cheesy Pasta Salad

This week for lunch I used my Weelicious Lunches book by Catherine McCord again and made Cheesy Pasta Salad.  I loved the Greek-Israeli Couscous Salad I made last week and was hoping for similar results.  Unfortunately I wasn't quite as wow-ed with this one.  The result is much more kid friendly than adult friendly which makes sense because the whole purpose for the book is kid lunches.

This is quick to make and easy to put together.  The thing that took the longest was cooking the pasta and that could easily be made ahead of time.  The main flavor was Italian dressing which is good (who doesn't love Italian dressing) but not something I would look forward to digging into.

Source: Weelicous Lunches by Catherine McCord

Verdict: Good as lunch or a side dish for picky kids but just okay for my lunch.  I'll probably finish this but I won't mind going back to my peanut butter sandwich.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Try-It Tuesday - Calm Down Jar

Pretty much since I figured out how to use Pinterest I've been obsessed with those glitter/calm down/time out jars I've seen just about everywhere.  When I found this pin on my Ideas for the Little I decided it was definitely time to give it a try.  This was a perfect thing for the Tornado to help with.  He could do the dumping and it was quick to get the pieces together and assemble it.

The only problem I ran into is that the glue I knew I had has disappeared.  I searched everywhere for it but had luck.  This has been a problem for me lately. I'm not sure if it's my lack of sleep that's causing my forgetfulness or I have gremlins.  Either is a perfectly valid option.  Thankfully this project is pretty forgiving so we substituted the glue for some canola oil and figured I could turn this into a lesson about density. The oil does cause some of the glitter to stick to the edge of the jar but with some swishing it all works out.  The result is pretty and the Tornado had good time helping.  Whether or not it helps calm him down remains to be seen.

Source Creative Little Daisy - the blog doesn't seem to be kept up anymore which is too bad because it's a fun blog to read.
Verdict: Quick and Easy project

Next week: I found this fun scarf idea on my Clothes and Stuff board and can't wait to give it a try.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Chef of the Month Cookbook Review - January

When it comes to cookbooks I'm normally looking for recipes that use ingredients that are widely available and relatively inexpensive.  I prefer chicken breasts, pork (most cuts), ground beef and other boneless beef cuts.  I'm willing to try new techniques or complicated recipes.  We don't have allergies (except for me - goat cheese turns me into the elephant man and shrimp causes me to lose feeling in my face and hands) or other dietary concerns.  I tend to shy away from fish or any form of game.  Also I like recipes that make a fairly large amount of food as I'm normally trying to feed 5 with leftovers.

With that in mind here's my opinion on the books I've been carrying around, paging through and cooking from for the last few weeks.

January was originally going to be Mario Batali's food but ended up growing into all the books related to The Chew: Batali, Michael Symon, Daphne Oz, Carla Hall and the 2 books that have come from the show.

Michael Symon's 5 in 5 - I'm normally pretty wary of books that only use a few ingredients as they tend to run towards the cream of whatever soup.  This is not the case with Symon's book.  His recipes use fresh ingredients like onions, tomatoes, arugula, basil, lemon, and garlic along with pretty standards herbs and spices.  The most exotic ingredient is pancetta.  The book consists mainly of main dishes with a few sides and a handful of desserts.  There are also a number of pasta based meatless dinners.  Everything I've made from this book has been excellent and fairly fast but more upscale than the standard cookbooks that promise fast and easy dinners.  Verdict: Recommended

The Chew: Food.Life.Fun and The Chew: What's For Dinner are a bit more all over the place.  The books contain of mix of drinks, appetizers, main dishes, breads, sides, and desserts.  I didn't find quite as many recipes that I was just dying to make from these as I expected.  The drinks and appetizers don't really appeal to me and there are a number of recipes that call for lamb or bone-in cuts (I know it's completely illogical to be intimidated by these but I am.  Something to work on).  There are lots of interviews with the hosts as well as some behind the scene stuff.  If you're a fan of the show these are great but if you're not I would page through a copy before you buy.  Verdict: Recommended with reservations.

Relish: An Adventure in Food, Style and Everyday Fun by Daphne Oz:
I'm so not the target market for this book.  Almost half the book is devoted to lifestyle tips - everything from beauty tips to home decor and entertaining.  The recipes definitely lean towards the healthy side which isn't surprising given Daphne's history and her father.  Quite a number of the recipes look pretty tasty though not really something I could serve at dinner.  I think there would be mass mutiny if I served Roasted Beets with Goat Cheese, Grapes and Hazelnuts or Creamy Zucchini-Tarragon Soup for dinner.  This book would be great for a single woman or a young couple just starting out. Verdict: Not for me but interesting.

Cooking With Love by Carla Hall: I was a little disappointed when I first flipped through this book.  Given the title and Hall's Nashville roots I was expecting homestyle family food and not Marinated Flank Steak with Roasted Red Pepper Tapenade or Duck Ragu over Butternut Squash Grits.  I tagged a few things to try and then basically forgot about it.  Then one night I made her Basil Bacon Bread and immediately got on Amazon and bought the book.  It was amazing.  Like life changing good.  I've since made her biscuits and Cuban Pork Loin with Marinated Onions and they have all been really good.  The recipes are well written and clearly explain each step and the ingredients meet my criteria.  Verdict: LOVE this one.  Heavily recommend it!

I did get almost all of Mario Batali's books and while I love him and would happily give a kidney to eat his food, his cookbooks didn't work for me.  There are a number of recipes for mussels or baby octopus which even if knew where to find them I don't know how to cook them and I certainly don't want to pay for them.  The recipes I did try seemed to be too much work for a mediocre result.  I'm very glad I got these from the library instead of purchasing.  Verdict: Definitely not for me.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

January Thrifting

I've been doing okay on the thrifting this month.  A group of friends and I have been going every Wednesday and it's been a lot of fun.  We discovered a store that specializes in children's clothes and I've found some great things there.  The Tornado can be hard to find clothes for because most boys clothes seems to be either in bad condition or I just don't like them.  This month we managed to get in addition to this stunning owl figure.

For the Tornado:
3 Pairs of Jeans
1 Ralph Lauren long sleeve polo
1 pair of cargo pants
2 pairs of sweat pants
Children's Place sweater pullover
2 long sleeve shirts
Total: 16.21

For Me
Banana Republic Grey wrap shirt
H&M Pink 3/4 length button down
Merona Denim Shirt dress
Anne Taylor Loft tank
Gap Jean Jacket - white
Dress Barn blazer - gray
Talbots blazer - light blue
Total: 19.39

Emma has always been impossible to find jeans that fit in our budget.  Then with the help of thrift stores I discovered lots of brands apparently make a 00 which fits her pretty well.  For her this month we got:
2 pairs of jeans
striped sweater
Total 6.00

I'm very picky about the condition of clothes I'm willing to buy - especially since I"m visiting the stores a few times a month!  All of the condition is like new.  Grand total spent this month: $41.60.   Now if only the weather will warm up so I can wear something other than huge bulky layers!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Foodie Friday

Chef of the Month:

I tried out a few recipes from Carla Hall's Cooking With Love this week and am pretty sure she's my new best friend.  We had the Basil Bacon Bread one night and it was amazing.  I think when I make them again I'll use loaf pans instead of free forming them but they'll definitely be made again.  The flavor was amazing so bacon-y but deliciously yeast-y as well.  
Since the bread went so well I tried her Buttermilk Biscuits for breakfast for dinner one night.  These were by far the best biscuits I've ever made.  She gives good instructions and they came together just like she said.  They were light and fluffy and just oh so good.

Last night we had Cuban Pork Loin with Marinated Red Onions and Queso Fresco on Grilled Tortillas.  These are kind of a hassle.  The pork needs to be brined, then rubbed and let to sit in that for awhile, then browned and then baked.  However, I think if I had planned a little better it wouldn't have felt so complicated.  You can do pretty much all of it except the baking ahead of time and the actual cooking takes maybe 30 minutes.  I had my doubts about the marinated red onions but they were really good and provided a nice little crunch.  The pork is very spicy but the sharp almost pickled onions balanced that nicely. The only thing I didn't like was the Queso Fresco but that actually makes it easier to make next time because I won't have to buy a cheese I don't normally have on hand.  

From The Chew Cookbook I made Big Mike's Burger.  This was the only recipe of Michael Symon's I've made that wasn't really great.  It was okay but I've made better burgers.  

However, Symons' redeemed himself with 2 recipes from his 5 in 5 Cookbook.  His No Bake Macaroni and Cheese was really really good.  To be honest I didn't have much faith in it but the taste was super creamy and cheesey.  It was also pretty quick to make so that always helps.  Also, from this book came Chicken Milanese.  This was really good and came out beautifully breaded and crisp on the outside while being nice and tender on the inside. 


I've been limiting my sugar intake to only 2 days a week lately so I haven't done nearly as much baking as I've wanted too.  I did manage to make these Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies from Iowa Girl Eats.  This is one of my favorite food blogs and this recipe didn't disappoint.  The result was nice crispy chocolatey oatmeal cookies.  

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Week 28 Cupcakes - Apple Pie Cupcakes

I've been trying to cut down on the sweets I eat and have been on a major apple kick lately.  When it came time to pick a cupcake for this week the apple pie cupcakes I've had on my board for 2 years.  I have no idea how I waited 2 years to make these but I won't wait 2 more years to make them again!

1. Source:  Alpineberry - I haven't looked at this blog before but after these I'm definitely going to check it out.

2. Ease of Recipe (1 being cake mix/canned icing - 5 tons of steps and very time consuming):  3.  You do have to cook the apples but that can be done beforehand.  Everything else assembles pretty quickly.

3. Changes Made:  None

4. Problems:  Mine needed to cook a lot longer than called for.  I don't know if it was because of cupcake size differences or what.  I ended up adding a total of 8 minutes to the total time cooked.

5.  Overall Impression:  These cupcakes are amazing.  The cake is moist, wonderfully butter which just a touch of cinnamon flavor.  The cooked apples are great on their own and I might double the recipe next time so I can serve the extras with breakfast or with ice cream on top.  The frosting is super buttery and not too sweet and whipped until it's smooth and light textured.  Seriously, they're good.  I've been only eating sweets 2 days a week and haven't had any problems sticking to that until I made these.  I ate my fair share yesterday but today it's all I can do not to inhale a few more.

6. Quantity:  23

7. Make Again?: Oh yes.  Most definitely.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

What's For Lunch Wednesday - Greek - Israeli Couscous Salad

This week I chose Greek-Israeli Couscous Salad from Weelicous Lunches by Catherine McCord.  The recipe can also be found on the Weelicous blog.

Not quite as pretty as last week's lunch but I enjoyed this one so much more.  I've had couscous before but I don't think I've ever had the pearl couscous.  I was seriously missing out because this stuff is delicious.  I had to do some altering because it called for tomatoes and the tomatoes that are available right now are kind of sad.  It is also called for lemon juice and despite the fact that I remember buying a full bag of Meyer lemons there was not a lemon to be found in my house.  To replace the sweetness and the acid I would've gotten from the lemon and tomatoes I substituted Raspberry Enlightenment I had gotten from Penzey's my very favorite spice store.  Tomatoes will be fantastic in this during the summer so I'm definitely looking forward to that.  The couscous is a yummy base for just about any vegetable/fruit/cheese/spice combination you could think of.

The Good: This dish is fairly easy to throw together, makes enough for several meals, reheats well and is nice and filling without being heavy.  I also love how easy it would be to change it up.

The Bad:  The recipe called for olive oil to be added at the end and I didn't love the slight oil feel.  I most likely will cut the oil in half next time I make it.

The Verdict: Love It!  This is exactly the kind of thing I was looking for!  I was actually so looking forward to having this for lunch again today that I decided not to get a fast food biscuit and I love those little balls of grease.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Try-It Tuesday - Oven Cleaning

This week's pin wasn't very exciting but it was definitely needed.  I had originally planned to do this pin but the more I thought about it the more concerned I was that sticking my head in a small area filled with ammonia fumes would aggravate my asthma.  Instead I went with this method from Cha Ching Queen.  

I didn't think to take any pictures at the very beginning but this is what it looked like after a hefty dose of baking soda:

Gross right?  In my defense the oven came with the house and the house is on the old side.  I have no idea how old this oven is but it's definitely not new.  So it's level of grossness is not ALL my fault. After that rationalizing and buck passing here's what I ended up with after spraying and sitting and scrubbing:

Better right?  No one would think it's new but I was surprised at how much stuff came off.  

The side was almost entirely brown.  It was really wasn't difficult.  I got my bucket of water, an episode of Cupcake Wars on my Kindle and went to scrubbing.  The only problem was getting around the door was a little tricky.  I know people say taking the oven door off is no big deal but once again I have no idea how old this oven is and the manual disappeared who knows when.  With my luck I'd get the door off and would never be able to get it back on again.  Things break quickly enough without my having an active hand in their destruction!  I think a few more applications would probably get the rest of the dried on gunk off.  I'm planning on doing it again next weekend to see if I can get it cleaner.  

Source: Cha Ching Queen
Verdict: Keeper!  Especially if you have allergy or breathing issues with chemicals in tight spaces.  

Next week I'm going to visit my Ideas for the Little board and make this Time Out Timer or glitter jar that I've been seeing all over Pinterest for years.  The Tornado is beside himself with excitement about doing a craft.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Ipsy Glam Bag - January

The theme for this month's Ipsy Glam Bag was 19 Reasons 2014 will be amazing.  The idea is to write a reason on the card Ipsy sends with the brands for the month, take a picture of it and then share it on instagram or facebook to win a 1 year subscription.    This was probably my least favorite Ipsy bag so far.  It wasn't great but the value didn't seem to be as big.  There's a twist of irony because I've been heavily recommending Ipsy for months and have had a few friends sign up in the last couple of weeks.  I'm hoping this is just a miss for me and not start of a trend.

This is what I got in order from left to right:

The bag this month is a medium blue with a lighter blue outline of lotions and soap bottles.

Healthy Sexy Hair Soy Tri-Wheat Leave In Conditioner - I had gotten another Sexy Hair product in a previous bag and really liked it so I was pleased to see this conditioner.  I have very thick fairly coarse hair and it was definitely feeling a little dry.  I used this after washing and conditioning my hair like normal.  It took a pretty good bit but my hair definitely feels much softer.  I don't think I liked it as much as my Number 4 Super Comb Prep and Protect but it's still a nice product and I'll use the travel size if I ever travel again.

Elizabeth Mott Smooth Shadow in Pearl - This is the second Elizabeth Mott product I've gotten.  The first was a mascara that I really liked.  I wasn't quite as impressed with the pencil.  The tip is more like a pencil than what I normally associate with a stick shadow.  It'd take for ever to use it as anything other than a highlighter.  However, the shade has been great as a waterline pencil so I'm getting quite a lot of use out of it. I probably won't buy this though.

Tinted Lip Balm by MicaBeauty in Natural - This is a really good sized sample.  It looks to be close to full size and if you factor in that this is a $30 product it definitely ups the value of the bag.  This is much more of a stain than a balm.  I didn't find it very moisturizing and the color was much more pigmented and had much better staying power than I generally associate with a balm.  The color is nice - a neutral pinky brown and the staying power is nice.  While it isn't moisturizing I don't find it drying either.

Mark Fading Pads by Proactive - I was excited to see these in my bag since my chin periodically decides it belongs to a 13 year old versus someone 2 decades older.  My skin is actually doing pretty good right now so I haven't had a change to use them but I know it's only a matter of time.  I got 4 wipes which I think is enough to get an idea of how these work.  The only problem is it doesn't look like these wipes can be purchased on their own.

Purifying Exfoliant by Epice - This was another product I was excited to see.  I've been loving a scrub I got in a Birchbox a few months ago so I was hoping this would be as good.  This exfoliates very nicely and even seems to be a little moisturizing.  This is really nice since so often scrubs can be really harsh and irritating.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Foodie Friday

Chef of the Month

I had another good week of cooking at home.  I mostly cooked meals from Michael Symons and he didn't disappoint.  

From his 5 in 5 I made Chicken Breasts with Mozzarella, Tomatoes and Basil.  I did a little altering because I don't have fresh basil right now so I used a little arugula that I had leftover.  It worked.  This was a great meal.  I served it with some fettuccine with a little bit of olive oil and a dried herb Italian blend.

From The Chew: What's For Dinner I made Symon's patty melts.  I've made similar patty melts and never had much luck but these turned out really good.  The special sauce is delicious in a thousand island-y kind of way.  I really don't like rye bread so I used sourdough instead.  I know an argument could be made that that's not a patty melt but it was still pretty good!  These were served with a side of oven baked fries cooked Bobby Flay style.   Also, from this book was Pan Seared Skirt Steak with Caramelized Onions.  Another Symon recipe.  My only problem is that my medium-high stove setting is obviously hotter than his medium-high setting because my steak cooked a little faster than he said it would.  The bacon/beer sauce was amazing.  I'll definitely try these again but either with lower heat or shorter time.

I did make Mario Batali's pizza crust from his Italian Grill cookbook.  The crust was good but not better than any other crust I've made.  Balali calls for the crust to be grilled but it was in the 30s that night and I'm not going outside to put anything on the grill and I don't happen to own a grill pan.  I didn't do the pizza in Batali's Margerhita style because I'm pretty sure there would've been an uprising if I'd serve a pizza that was mostly sauce with 1 slice of mozzarella.


I made 2 different types of cookies this week.  The first is these Moose Track Cookies from Inside BruCrew Life.  I had planned on making these a few weeks ago but someone (J) found the bag of Reese's minis before that could happen.  For future reference this recipe actually requires 2 bags of the minis so I was a little low on peanut buttery goodness.  This was one of those recipes where I didn't see anyway it was going to come together to be even mildly edible but somehow turned into airy chocolate-y cookies.  I probably won't make these all the time since I do have to buy a special ingredient but they'll definitely get remade and next time with the appropriate amount of Reese's.

I also made Andes Mint Grinch Cookies from Six Sisters Stuff.  I've made them at Christmas and called them Grinch cookies.  I've made them around St. Patrick's Day and called them Leprechaun cookies.  This time I made them in January and just called them good.  I did leave out the green food coloring though.  These are buttery minty deliciousness and are easy and make enough to share.  It does require one box of Andes mints to chop up but those are cheap so I don't worry so much about them.  I'm sure in a pinch mint chocolate chips would work though I do like the big chunks of Andes mints in these cookies.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Week 27 Cupcakes - Buckeye Cupcakes

Yesterday was one of those days that gets labeled with phrases like "Chicken with its head cut off" and "hamster on the wheel".  In short by the end of the day I felt crazy and exhausted but the list of what I got accomplished was pretty much nothing.  Plus I tried to rename a friend's child "Lily" for reasons known only to my poor chaotic brain.  But the greatest victim was these cupcakes

1. Source:  Sweet Pea's Kitchen - a blog that for some reason I don't follow.  I'm going to have to remedy.

2. Ease of Recipe (1 being cake mix/canned icing - 5 tons of steps and very time consuming): 4.  They're not difficult there are just a lot of stages.  You make the peanut butter ball, you make the cake batter using a double boiler, use make the frosting.

3. Changes Made:  None made on on purpose.

4. Problems:  Here is the tragedy.  The recipe calls for 4 ounces of chopped bittersweet chocolate.  I had a bar of 76% and a bar of 82% and my plan was to do 2 ounces from each bar (the bars were just over 3 ounces each).  Well for whatever reason I ended up chopping up all of the chocolate which was almost double what the recipe called for.  The cakes took longer to bake because of the extra liquid and ended up tasting hard and dense.  What makes this even worse is that I've made this cake before and it's delicious so I know how good these could be.  Also this problem was entirely of my own doing.  If you have a properly functioning brain you should be fine.

5.  Overall Impression:  These are soooooooo good.  The peanut butter frosting makes me forget every positive resolution and change I've ever made.   It's light and airy but still so wonderfully peanut buttery.  The peanut butter ball tastes like what I always want buckeyes to taste like.  A sweet peanut butter with just a hint of vanilla not tooth achingly sweet like they so often are.  Put these in the fluffy chocolatey wonder that the cake is supposed to be and I'd probably eat these until I was ill.  So maybe it was for the best but still...

6. Quantity:  17 though the recipes says 24

7. Make Again?: Yes but next time I'd make them correctly.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

What's For Lunch Wednesday - Turkish "Kofte" Burgers

This week I was inspired (more loosely than I planned) by a recipe for Turkish "Kofte" Burgers I found in the book Relish by Daphne Oz.  I used lean ground pork instead of ground beef or lamb because the ground pork was on sale and then I didn't use a pita because I didn't want to waste the calories on bread.  Then I forgot to get feta at the grocery store which meant I wasn't able to make the whipped feta spread.  I ended up using some blue cheese crumbles and some garlic spread instead.

Pretty plate no? The tomato and cucumber salsa was a little onion heavy but otherwise good and very pretty and fresh.  I didn't end up loving the burgers.  I'm not sure if the meat switch was the issue but I don't think it was.  The texture was good but the spice combination just wasn't quite to my taste.  It used a huge variety of different dried spices - mint, coriander, cardamon, cumin, cinnamon and a few others.  I generally like cumin and have loved savory foods with cinnamon but I think the combination of the two with the mint was a little jarring for my fairly conservative taste buds.

The Good: Made plenty and would be easy to reheat through out the week.  Also loved the fresh vegetables in the salsa.

The Bad:  Too much onion in the salsa and found the spice combination in the burger themselves a little unpleasant.

The Verdict: Not for me.  Though I had high hopes for this I think I'll stick with my PB&J.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Try-It Tuesday: 8 Minute Yoga for Better Sleep

So this picture doesn't actually have anything to do with the post.  It's my Grandfather who turned 90 yesterday.  It was taken during his time in Korea.  This pin didn't actually have a product that I could take my usual badly lit photo of and I couldn't come up with anything that wasn't either weird or pointless so this picture is far more interesting anyway.

This pin was a little different from any that I've done before.  It was an 8 minute yoga workout for better sleep from Fitness Magazine.  It consists of 5 exercise that you're supposed to do for a certain amount of time.  It turned out that this was harder to fit in than I thought it would be which is probably why I have a difficult time sleeping in the first place!  I finally got around to giving it a try last night and had some mixed results.  4 of the positions were great.  They were simple and provided just the right amount of stretch.  I could feel tension leaving and was feeling all relaxed.  Then I got to the 5th position that involved rocking back and forth.  There was no way I could get it to work on the bed but when I moved the floor the angle hurt my back even though the floor is carpeted.  I also found keeping up with the amount of time specified distracting.  In all but 1 it was impossible to see a clock without having to move.  I'm thinking of trying to incorporate 4 of the 5 positions into getting ready for bed and maybe just do them to the count of 10.   

Source: Fitness Magazine
Verdict: Keep but with some tweaking

Next Week - I'm going to go to my House Stuff board and attempt to easily clean my oven.  It should be interesting.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Birchbox Review - January

This month's Birchbox theme is Go Time and is supposed to be products you can incorporate into your life with some inspiration.  I got 4 products plus 1 drugstore find.

Burt's Bees Intense Hydration Day Lotion
This was my drugstore find and came with a $3 off coupon.  The lotion is nice.  Thick enough to feel creamy but still rubs in evenly.  It did a good job on moisturizing my face which is good because it's crazy dry around here.  The label says it has clary sage in it and the scent if a nice herby-y scent without being too medicinal or perfume-y.  The sample size is 1/4 of an ounce in came in a little jar so I'll be able to tell if I like it enough to buy it with the coupon.

Nail Rock in Pink Glitter
To be honest I was surprised to see this in my Birchbox.  It's definitely something I'd expect more from Ipsy.  I was worried applying this would be a giant mess because you dip your painted nails in the glitter but it really wasn't.  There was no glitter on the table I was sitting at and it covered my nails quickly and evenly.  I definitely recommend putting a top coat over it though because I ended up with glitter in my hair, on my face, on my small child, etc.  This is very forgiving and it's very had to see imperfections even when you know they're there. It didn't last super long but it was easy to do and a fun look.  It came off without too much difficulty with regular nail polish remover.  This came in full size.

Klorane Gentle Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk

This is an okay dry shampoo.  It smells nice and sprays evenly but I don't get the same magic results I get with my beloved amika.  The travel sized can will still be nice for emergencies and travel though.

Coastal Scents Revealed Palette Set

I got 4 decent sized colors from this palette.  A light brown, a medium brown, olive and a dark navy.  The colors are well pigmented and blend nicely.  They last about the same amount of time as other high end eye shadows.  This palette is very reasonably priced at $20 and if I was in the market for a palette I would probably buy this over Urban Decay Naked palettes.

Harvey Prince Journey Perfume

I was excited to see a perfume sample in my box even though this isn't a brand I'm familiar with.  The scent is kind of a sweet fruity scent.  The mandarin note is definitely the stronger over the others in this one.  The lasting power wasn't great so I probably won't buy this but I won't mind using this when the weather gets a little warmer.

So of these 5 none really made my day but none were a miss either. I'm considering buying the palette in full size just because the colors are so pretty and I was impressed with the quality of the shadow itself.  I might end up with the moisturizer though I'll make my decision once I've used up the little tub and see how much it is in full size.  Now just waiting on Ipsy to show up!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Foodie Friday

This week I definitely met my goal of eating at home!  Every meal was a chef of the month meal too!

Chef of the Month:

First up was the baked ziti from Molto Italiano.  I did cheat a little and used a store-bought sauce.  I did make the besciamella sauce and chopped up fresh mozzarella.  The results were good but not that different from any baked ziti I've ever made.  Any recipe that involves a tomato cream sauce would taste about like that and it'd probably be easier to make.  Make again? Not with this recipe.

Then came another Batali recipe - Pasta Fagioli.  This came from The Chew: What's For Dinner.  It's essentially a bean and pasta soup and the results were okay.  I could eat it but it definitely wasn't a meal that you'd want to eat again.

So I took a break from Batali and made Michael Symon's Salisbury Steak from Michael Symon's 5 in 5.  Now this was tasty.  I served it with mashed potatoes which was perfect for soaking up the delicious sauce.  It was also quick to make which is kind of the purpose of the book.  The second 5 is for 5 minutes.  It wasn't quite that quick but it wasn't too bad.

So now back to Batali.  I made pork Milanese from The Babbo Cookbook.  I've made this type of dish before and this rendition is one of my favorites.  The arugula works well with the citrusy dressing and the crisp breaded pork chop.  It also makes for a very pretty presentation just don't let the pork chops get too browned.


I was busy enough with the chef recipes that I only ended up making 3 recipes from Pinterest.  I did make a turkey club sandwich one night but that involved no recipe.  I did use chipotle mayo on it which reminded me that chipotle mayo is good stuff.

I did manage to make:
I made this White Cheddar Beer Bread from How Sweet It Is.  This is a good cheesey dense bread but the beer and cheddar didn't pair quite as well as I expected.  I think I prefer honey beer bread to those with cheese.  Still pretty good though.

Anne Burrell's Focaccia  - I made this a few times before and it is good stuff.  It does take 2 rises but it doesn't require a sponge like a lot of other focaccia breads.  I also like that you can change up whatever seasoning you sprinkle on it depending on what you're serving.  I've used Italian Seasoning, a cheese blend and just plain salt.

Soft Batch Style Chocolate Chip Cookies from Picky Palate - These are good.  Like possibly my new go-to chocolate chip cookies good.  I made them one time before and ended up over baking them but this time I was careful about the sizing of the cookies and the time.  I cheated a little bit because I didn't want to wait for the butter to soften or to get out my mixer so I just melted the butter and let it cool to room temperature.  It worked great.  Seriously these are everything chocolate chip cookies should be.

I was going to make these yummy looking Moose Track Cookies from BruCrew Life but someone (aka my husband) found the bag of mini Reeses cups in the pantry and helped himself.  I'm going to get another bag next time I go to the grocery store and will be making these cookies that day since the Reese's cups have a very short lifespan in my house.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Week 26 Cupcakes - Cinnamon Toast Crunch

This recipe has been floating around in my brain pretty much since I started wasting time on Pinterest. I figured this would be a perfect cupcake for the halfway mark.  26 cupcakes down and 26 cupcakes to go!

1. Source: Your Cup of Cake from the blog though the cookbook is great too

2. Ease of Recipe (1 being cake mix/canned icing - 5 tons of steps and very time consuming): 2.5.  The .5 is for having to crush up the cereal so I'm kind of being hypercritical.

3. Changes Made: None

4. Problems:  Not really a problem but when she says Cinnamon Toast Crunch ground to a powder she isn't kidding.  I finely crushed mine without reading the directions correctly and the tiny bits of cereal weren't very appealing.

5.  Overall Impression:  The cake is delicious.  It's buttery and vanilla-y with just the right touch of cinnamon.  The texture is nice and moist but still holds together.  I wasn't as in love with the frosting.  Maybe just a little cinnamon to a plain vanilla buttercream would've worked better.  Nothing really screamed Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal so I think I could have achieved the same vanilla/cinnamon mix with 1/2 teaspoon or so of cinnamon versus having to buy and then crush the cereal.

6. Quantity:  15

7. Make Again?:Yes but I will probably leave out the cereal and just have cinnamon toast cupcakes.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

What's For Lunch Wednesday - Apple Honey Cheese Quesadilla

Part of my New Year's Resolutions is to mix up what I eat for lunch a little.  This week's offering came from Weelicious Lunches though you can also find it on the Weelicous blog.  I got the book from the library and then ended up buying it because it had  a lot of really great lunch ideas.  Though this is a book designed for kids lunches I bought it for myself.  The Tornado isn't big on change.  He refused to eat his sandwich the other day because the bread wasn't the same shape even though it was the same kind of bread just a different brand.

I like the apple cheese combination and I love making my tortillas from this recipe. I figured this would be a win-win.  I'd make a batch of tortillas so I could make this and Emma and the Tornado could finish off the rest of the batch.

My results: Didn't love it.  I never got a satisfactory cheesey bite and I found the honey and apples overshadowed the cheddar.  I had a really hard time flipping it in quesadilla form.  The flavor was pretty good but it wasn't particularly filling.   Maybe there wasn't enough protein?  I really had to fight the urge to go on a snacking rampage that afternoon which normally isn't a big deal.  I made this in grilled cheese form the next day and liked it a little bit better but it's definitely not going on my make again list.  I'll stick with my peanut and jelly sandwich with some cheez-its this week I think.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Tuesday Try-It - (Fresh)Cranberry Chocolate Chunk Brown Butter Cookies

I came across this recipe for cranberry chocolate chip cookies on Keep It Sweet Desserts and was intrigued.  Then when I saw it involved brown butter coupled with the fact I had half a bag of fresh cranberries left over from Christmas it moved up to my must try list.  So on Sunday I set out to make these.  I was a little disappointed that the dough had to chill overnight so I wouldn't be eating the chocolately brown buttery tartness right then but I soldiered on.  Yesterday I pulled the carefully wrapped up ball of dough and got to work.  The results - eh.  If I made these again I think I would use chocolate chips or even mini chocolate chips as the stiff dough pared with the big juicy cranberries and the chocolate chunks was a little difficult to work with.  As for the flavor - not my favorite cookie.  I liked the fresh cranberries but the cookie itself was a little dry.  I will definitely be looking for something else to bake fresh cranberries into - I've got about a cup left!

Source - Keep It Sweet Desserts - which has all kinds of great recipes even though this one didn't quite do it for me.
Verdict - Liked the idea better than the execution.

Next Week - So far 2014 has been very productive.  I've gotten things reorganized, cleaned out, moved around and put up.  Unfortunately the downside to this is that I can't seem to shut my mind off and have been staying up until 1 or 2 every night.  I'm a big fan of just pouring coffee onto the problem but it's getting a little much.  When I came across this pin for an 8 Minute Yoga Workout for better sleep on my Stuff for Me board I decided I have to give it a try.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Golden Tote Review

Golden Tote - otherwise known as my new favorite obsession - isn't having a regular sale this month.  Instead they're doing a grab bag which sold out before I even knew it was available.  The next showroom will be available on February 3rd.  Trust me I'm counting down the days.  To console myself a little for missing the grab bag (which looked like a FABULOUS deal) I'm revisiting what I got from my first ever tote in December.  I put together 3 outfits with the 3 items I got.  I did cut my head out of the picture for 2 reasons.  The first is my cheap door mirror either makes my face look really really long or really squashed up.  The top 6 inches is like a carnival fun house mirror.  The second is that I'm having some kind of allergic reaction to something.  I can't even imagine what - it's January and literally 16 degrees outside but my body isn't listening to that logic and my eyes have swollen up like I lost a brawl.

1. Is my very favorite new sweater -
It has owls for elbow patches!  This is the whole reason I got the tote in the first place.  It's super soft.  This is a size Large because that's what was available but I'm glad I got it in this size because I kind of like it as a tunic-y type top.  Those are black jegging/leggings and kind of a wine colored flat.  This is from Morning Apple.

2. My Kate Middleton dress
This is a basic wrap dress.  The little chevron-y things are actually a grey/blue with a black outline. I'm going to have to pick a different time of day if I take more outfit pictures because the light is terrible in this one!  Those are black tights and black boots with the dress.  I'm concerned that the full skirt might make my hips look about a mile wide but I love the swing of it so I'm willing to risk it.  I love the silhohette of this dress, the print and the swing of it.  It's also super soft and is really comfortable.  This is from Hourglass Lilly and is a size Small

3.  Blue Print top
I wouldn't have naturally gravitated toward this print but When I tried it on I really love this top.  It's just the right length and fits without being too snug.  I like the little puff on the sleeves and there's a little button detail on the back.  My only problem is this the most staticy shirt ever.  I'm going to have to figure out how to get rid of it before I wear it out or I could start a fire just by walking on carpet. This is a size Small from Peach Love California

Saturday, January 4, 2014

December Wrap Up

Ramblings - 

How did my baby turn 4?  This was probably the best year in terms of his excitement.  He could barely contain himself waiting for Christmas, his birthday and then New Year's Eve.  I think he's a little overwhelmed with all the toys and craziness but I'm hoping a week or so of regular bedtimes and being back on schedule and he'll settle down a bit.

Everyone starts back to school or work Monday.  My plan was to drop the Tornado off at school and then treat myself to a McDonald's biscuit but they've already announced that school will be delayed by 2 hours so the indulgence will have to wait a few days.

Chef of the Month -

This month I used cookbooks from Southern Plate and The Pioneer Woman.  These books were much more approachable than the books I've used in other months.  The ingredient list was always under 10 and generally the instructions were only around 5.  My favorites were probably the "Bama" Steak & Cheese Sandwiches and the Big and Juicy Burgers from Come Home to Supper and the chicken fajitas from The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays.  Also I adore the Pioneer Woman's Sour Cream Pancakes and her Creamy Mashed Potatoes are the standard I hold all mashed potatoes too.  There were so recipes that I wanted to get too but couldn't.  This month may have to have a repeat in a few months.

Next month will be the chefs from The Chew - Mario Batali, Michael Symons, Carla Hall, Daphne Oz and the 2 books from the show.

Pinterest -

A ridiculous amount of my life involves Pinterest.  In fact part of my New Years resolutions involved organizing my boards so I can use them more effectively.  This past month I spent some time playing around with my fitness boards.  There's so many great workouts on Youtube but I don't always have time to hunt them down.  So my plan is to pin one I like after completing it and add how long it takes in the description.  

I did a lot of craft pins this month but the one that I was most looking forward to recreating was this outfit from Lilly Style.  I have the sweater and loved how it looked with the gold jewelry and the boots.  My boots only come up to my knee and my necklace was a bronze pendant instead of the heavy chain she's wearing.  Since I pulled the sweater out of the back of my closest I've come up with several other ways to wear it!

These Brown Butter Cranberry Crumble Bars from Crumbs and Chaos look absolutely divine.  I'm also really looking forward to making this White Cheddar Beer Bread from How Sweet It Is.  I think it will go just perfect with a pasta soup I'm planning on making for dinner this week.

Subscriptions -

This month wasn't my favorite Birchbox but I'm still having lovely dreams about that mint cookie Ghiradelli bar.  I have re- discovered the amika Obliphica Perk Up Dry Shampoo that I got in my September box.  I wasn't overly thrilled when I got it since I'd never had much luck with dry shampoo.  I have to say I'm 100% on the dry shampoo bandwagon after picking this up in a moment of greasy hair driven desperation a few weeks ago.  This stuff is magic.

Ipsy did a fantastic job this month.  My favorite thing is the Mirabella eye blender brush which I've used pretty much every day since I got it.  It some how does a perfect job distributing just the right amount of shadow exactly where I want it.  Plus it retails for close to 3 times the amount I paid for the entire bag.

Then there's my new favorite indulgence - Golden Tote.  I can never rationalize buying one of the more expensive subscriptions and while love other people's Stitchfix reviews I'm not sure I could talk myself into that either.  Golden Tote is the best of both.  I got the $49 bag which meant I picked out my very favorite owl sweater and then got 2 other pieces.  I love all 3 and the dress makes me feel like Kate Middleton.  I'm going to make some outfits with the pieces I got and bombard you with pictures Monday.  Right now I'm just anxiously checking the Golden Tote sight waiting for them to put up their new January stuff.  

Looking Ahead - 

I love a new year.  Something about getting to start fresh makes me all energetic and productive.  I have given completely and totally in to my list making tendencies and now have notebooks for everything.  Menu notebook, spending notebook, recipe notebook, house ideas notebook, holiday notebook and finally the reappearance of the To Do List notebook.  I'd done a daily To Do List for years but sometime during the summer it just kind of quit working for me so I abandoned it.  I've decided to jump start it again but do a weekly instead of a daily.  Big exciting times around here!  Also, January's goal seems to be clean out.  I seriously doubt I'm alone in this.  There's just something so liberating about having organized shelves.  And it's even better if you get to cross organizing shelves off your To Do List!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Foodie Friday

So this week saw the end of Southern Plate/Pioneer Woman month.  It also didn't see much cooking.  I'm making a big promise to myself that now that the holiday season is completely over and life is returning  to normal I will get back to cooking 4 - 6 nights a week.

This week I made -

Chef of the Month

Big Juicy Burgers  from Christy Jordan's Come Home to Supper -
There really wasn't much to these burgers but oh my they were good.  I topped them with some sharp cheddar and bacon and it was seriously good.

For the Tornado's birthday dinner I made the Four Cheese Macaroni and was really impressed with it.  My brother-in-law who is not a mac & cheese fan got seconds and then asked for the recipe.

Also, from the Tornado's birthday dinner was Christy Jordan's #5 BBQ Sauce from her Southern Plate book.  This sauce was good and involves dumping ingredients into a pot and letting it simmer.  I really liked that it didn't scream doctored up ketchup like so many barbecue sauces do.  The flavor was a little more complex and tasted delicious on chicken.  My only problem was that it was a little thinner than I like but maybe a little more time simmering would thicken it up.

Tuesday we spent New Year's Eve at Chuck-e-Cheese because we know how to party.  This is a tradition we had when the older kids were little and it was always a lot of fun.  The Tornado saw a commercial for it on Disney Jr. and has been bugging us ever since.  So New Year's Eve we loaded up and went with 1 newly 4 year old and 4 teenagers (Emma brought her boyfriend).  As usual the mouse delivered and we all had a lot of fun.  The Tornado is already pushing to go again.

For New Year's day I tried out the Pioneer Woman's Hoppin' John from her The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays.  I modified it by leaving out all the peppers and using bacon instead of a ham hock.  Have you ever tried to find a ham hock on December 31st?  It's not happening, at least not here in the South.  I normally don't like black eyed peas of any sort but I thought these were pretty good.  J prefers canned.  There's not much I can do for him.  I also make ham and fired potatoes.  No greens though because we don't like them.  Since I think they're traditionally supposed to bring money in the new year this may explain some things about our finances.

Thursday we had lunch at Smashburger at 2:30.  My cheeseburger and sweet potato fries were fantastic and pretty much eliminated the need for dinner.  Luckily, no one else wanted any either.

Pinterest Recipes

Honey Rolls from the Pastry Affair - these rolls made an appearance on New Year's Day.  I've made them several times before and they're really good.  They are Ringo's absolute favorite and he'd had a rough New Year's Eve.  My only problem with these rolls is that I tend to make them too big so when they're browned on top there is still a little ribbon of uncooked dough in the middle.  If I made them like she does they'd be perfect.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Week 25 Cupcakes - Red Velvet with Cream Cheese Frosting

This was Eleanor's last week before she goes to back to school.  She's a big fan of red velvet which I also happen to be a fan of.  Since everyone else has at best neutral feelings and at worst hostile feelings about them I do try to take advantage of her being here.  Otherwise, I make them and eating the entire batch by myself.

1. Source: Southern Plate which was fitting because I just finished up a month of cooking from her recipes.

2. Ease of Recipe (1 being cake mix/canned icing - 5 tons of steps and very time consuming): 2.  This isn't from a mix but the cake didn't even require a mixer.  There's no filling and the frosting is pretty basic cream cheese.

3. Changes Made: Only the substitutions I made due to what I had on hand.  Instead of buttermilk I used a half yogurt/half milk mixture.  I also used special dark cocoa powder instead of regular.

4. Problems:  None.

5.  Overall Impression: This was a nice basic red velvet cupcake with a simple but perfect cream cheese frosting.  This isn't the softest moistest cupcake I've ever had but it holds together well and the flavor is just how a red velvet cake should be.  They're fairly light so you can talk yourself into eating 2 pretty easily.

6. Quantity:  21

7. Make Again?:  Yes definitely!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Goals for 2014

2013 went really really fast and I'm hoping 2014 is on a slightly slower speed.   In 2014 the Tornado turns 5 and Emma begins her senior year.  These are 2 events that I'm pretty sure I'm not ready for.

Last year I thought about resolutions and even wrote some down but not in a really concrete list.  I improved things that weren't on the list and ignored some stuff that was which upsets my list making little brain.  So here are 12 things I want to focus on for 2014:

1.  An "outing" a month.  Outing has a pretty broad definition.  This month I want to go down to Birmingham to do some shopping and try a few restaurants we've never been too.  But a drive to somewhere we've never been too, a picnic in the park, lunch somewhere we've never been all count as well.  The main thing is we do SOMETHING we've never done once a month.

2.  Continue to work on my vanity.  This is another broad topic but they all work together.  I wanted to lose 20 pounds this past year and I lost 10 but my happiness with my appearance has gone way up.  I want to continue being interested in clothes and putting together outfits.  I want to continue to be interested in makeup.  I want to continue to exercise as regularly as possible.  Most of all I want to lose that last 10 pounds.

3.  Focus on my food.  I love junk food, sweets and really good cheeseburgers.  This isn't great for making #2 on this list happen but it is something I get a lot of enjoyment from.  So I'm hoping to find a little bit of balance in the food area.  I want to take the time to make at least 1 thing for my lunch a week.  I also want to increase my sweets intake to 1 treat a day instead of a grabfast of cupcakes after the Tornado goes to bed.

4.  Plan a celebration once a month.  Every year I think I want to do something special for (insert name of minor holiday here) but I never end up getting it together.  All of a sudden it's March 16th and a special Irish influenced St. Patrick's day dinner just isn't going to happen.  This year it's going to happen - at least once a month.  Time is going so fast, Eleanor already has a new place she calls home most of the year and before long Emma and then Ringo will follow.

5.  Stay more organized.  The big pantry is an exercise in horrors.  The pots and pans cabinet requires shoving and slamming the door really fast.  The food stored in the garage is mostly on J's workbench instead of the shelves earmarked for food storage.  Get better about transferring the ideas I like and want to try from feedly and polyvore onto Pinterest.  There are systems that need to get created and stuck too.

6.  Spend at least 30 minutes once a day playing with the Tornado.  30 minutes doesn't seem like much but it does get hard to find a balance between getting things done and playing with him.  Spending 30 minutes completely focused on playing trains or whatever with him makes me feel better about both sides.

7.  Keep a cleaner house.  I've found good luck keeping a room a day type schedule and with the Tornado going to school 3 times a week starting in January I can add cleaning projects (like dealing with the horrors of the oven) to the list.  I also want to implement an end of the day tidy schedule.

8. Finish up my 52 weeks of cupcakes and then start another challenge (maybe cookies?).  Also, keep going with my Chef of the Month challenge and maybe go to cuisine of the month when I finish with that.

9.  Less pinning more doing.  Do a pin a week and preferably get at least one DIY type pin accomplished a month.

10.  Learn to use the pasta maker that's taking up valuable floor space in the big pantry.

11.  Increase my garden in terms of plant variety and usefulness.  Don't let it slide like last year.

12.   Keep a list of things that I want to buy so that I'm more mindful of my spending and the things that must be bought actually get remembered and bought when we can plan for it  instead of last minute