I may not talk about it often but this Mama cooks. Every night. I also try to cook a balanced meal. Every night.
Now, that doesn't mean I don't have my moments but... I believe if I make our food at home I KNOW what's in it... can't trust everybody's everythang, ya know? Over the years, I've gained some quick go-to meals. I figured I should start sharing some of my go-to weeknight recipes for others who may be interested in meals that don't break the bank and aren't SO fancy they intimidate you from trying. These recipes may not be pretty but they taste good :) They also are designed for my real cooks - the ones who try to squeeze something to eat into the 3-4 hours between the time they get home and the time they [should] climb into bed. Can I get an Chandelier CHAN-DALAY?!
Are you lost by where that term came from? Read about it here!
I believe my inherent desire to ensure meals are prepared at home, and with as little "processed" assistance as possible, came from my parents. They made sure we always had a home-cooked meal. They didn't use store-bought or ready-made anything... Things most people take for granted nowadays like homemade spaghetti sauce or gravy were always homemade in our house. When I think about it, my parents used to make a dish called Chili-Mac. It's what I relate Hamburger Helper to be. It takes the same amount of time as Hamburger Helper but is MUCH healthier and makes more servings.
I guess one could consider this recipe my version of Chili-Mac. Enjoy!
Check out one of the antique earrings I picked up from Gina's Junk! I love them:
Aren't they some unique CHANDELIER CHAND-A-LAY earrings?! LOL. Yes, I've coined the phrase we talked about here.
Yesterday, I shared some of the cute artwork I purchased from Ross on the cheap and today, we'll talk details AND see the foyer update!
I saw this canvas and really wanted to have it front and center in one of our hallways. It fits perfectly on the small wall and Munch reads it to most visitors when they enter our home. It goes something like this,
"May. our. home. know. hap-happiness, each. room hold. Laugh-ter. and every window open to. poss-i-bil-ities, possibilities? Possibilities."
I'm going to take a break from the craft room updates in an effort to complete some tasks. As usual 'round these parts, we'll come back to it for updates, tutorials and the big reveal (I think I'm actually going to have one with this space, yeee-ahhh boy). Anyhoo, I shared the craft room artwork that set the tone for the space and I thought I'd share a new fave piece of mine in the family room.
I visit Ross on a pretty-frequent basis for a number of items (it's cookout season and they have the best less-than-$5 selection of clothes when Munch needs a cute fresh 'fit for cheap). I especially love to check out their wall décor because they offer affordable options that pack a big punch. O and their pillows! Golly, I luhhh me some pillows. I got this peacock pillow (with fab embroidery) for only $16. I know that price isn't typically a deal in my book but, when you see and feel the quality of it, you can tell I got it for a steal:
In the case of our family room, I have a lot of walls. Large walls. Walls that sometimes feel huge. Humungo, if you will. Huge and intimidating for a thrifty decorator like myself. Remember my gallery wall?
As soon as the craft room walls were painted, I wanted to hang artwork. While moving craft room junk around to make room for the painting project, I pulled out three of my favorite pieces passed down from my mommy's collection. They're black and white and set a fabulous tone for the rest of the room:
Munch always claims that she is the little girl playing the piano and I'm the woman in the white dress, lol. She loves to say the "boys are Daddy and [her] little brother." No, she doesn't have a little brother so don't even go there with me, Islanders. I'm just glad that she loves the paintings like I do. My favorite part of this art series is that this painting:
I shared highlights of our trip to Georgia but what I haven't shared are my thrifty finds. Don't get me wrong, I had an awesome time with family and got to love on my PawPaw (who is turning 80 so every opportunity to hug and kiss him is a blessing). I wouldn't be telling the whole truth, however, if I didn't share that I'm equally as excited to thrift and antique shop when we visit.
I've mentioned the benefits of my inspiration boards (here). One of the benefits is that I become so focused on a space's completion that (in the case of the craft room) I can't shop for anything else. I'm sure if something caught my eye for another space, I'd think about making the purchase but I was so focused on MY space that every purchase I made was to enhance the craft room (except for some aqua capris the kid swindled me into and some headbands mom told me to jazz up for Z and DatMyHoney).
Don't believe me? Check out my loot from the weekend:
Yesterday, I shared my fabulous craft room paint color. What I didn't share was my experience at my local Sherwin Williams store so, in typical I-blog-and-share-everything-with-my-readers fashion, I'm going to tell you the importance of rating those notable shopping experiences.
First, let me say that I write notes, send letters and, well, I leave feedback. By way of background, Zion's sixth birthday party was hosted at our local Michael's stores and I called about my quality service. I also wrote a note on the website and I was told the employee was recognized, and even promoted, as a result. To this day, almost two years later, he greets me by name when I walk in the store. I am THAT customer... I mentioned that I entered the Sherwin-Williams store ready to go.
I was excited to finalize my color decision.... Yes, I broke the rules. I researched for the perfect shade of pink and used the Sherwin-Williams ColorSnap tool to make a custom color palette using an inspiration image. I found one on another site and Googled images of the paint color and pretty-much-basically became obsessed with that particular shade of pink. I walked in the store and skimmed the selection of swatches in search of Impatiens Petal. I found it and just as I grabbed up another color, a sales associate approached.
"Hi, there. Need any help finding anything?"
She was cute. Curly hair braided into a side mermaid braid. Young. Sweet. Cute. I responded that I was fine. I would, however, be purchasing a gallon (or two) of paint but I needed more time to finalize the exact shade. She nodded, "if you need anything, I'm Giorgi and I'll be happy to help."
At that moment, I just needed a moment to formally introduce myself to my craft room color. I heard the angels hit some high notes and I knew it was love at first sight. I didn't need a stinkin' sample. I didn't need to put a few strokes on the wall in various locations to be sure it was perfect. We met, it was love at first site, I was sold... 'nuff said. I know, I broke my own rules about painting a room but I'll get to that in another post. Bottomline, I was prepared for any consequences... Plus, I was the only customer in the store so my excited squeal and fist pumps went unnoticed.
I approached the counter and handed the color to Giorgi. In the middle of her justification for why I needed to splurge on paint, the phone rang. She kept talking until the second ring finished.
"I'm sorry. I can't let it ring a third time."
Just as the third ring started she answered the phone and proceeded to help an interior designer confirm her fax was received. Scott, a chubby fella, slowly exited the office area to see what the phone call was about. She spoke in paint code as he pulled a wireless phone (clipped to his pocket) up to his ear.
We continued the paint conversation and I bought the premier gallon... yes, Giorgi was good. I was sold.
She asked if I needed painting supplies and I said I needed a paint roller and tray. She recommended a $20 roller. WHAT THE WHAT? Now, she was tripping. Ain't no way I'm paying $20 for a roller... then she started her talk about saving time and holding more paint and-- the phone rang.
She looked to the counter to see if Scott would answer, he didn't. She excused herself and ran to the phone. I picked up the overpriced roller and headed to the counter behind her. Doggone Giorgi got me up in here spending UNNECESSARY amounts of money... but Imma do it because I'm just so excited to get 'er done!
She passes the call to Scott to answer a question and grins at my roller on that counter. She picked up a tray and on her way back asked about brushes. I grimaced, "Giorgi... Now, I like ya. I really do. But I shall NOT pay $20 for a little paint brush! I mean, are they even worth it?!"
Of course she had a prepared response about professionals and what they buy and why they buy what they buy and then... THE PHONE RANG!
We both looked at the other computer where Scott, the fat son of a shut-your-mouth, sat. He was unbothered. Giorgi shrugged then picked up the phone. She helped the customer with their question and hung up. As soon as she hung up, I was fed up.
Me: "REALLY?! REALLY, DUDE?! Come on! You SEE her helping me. You can't answer the phone?!"
Scott: "Yea..." *stares blankly at me but past me*
Me: "Yea? YEA?! Can't be serious..."
Me: "Giorgi, ring me up. O and what's your store number?.. What's his name? ... Who is he to the store?... The manager?!"
I tried to pull up Google on my phone to call the customer service line. I wanted him to HEAR me talk about him. Of course, I had no cell service. THAT WAS ALL GOOD. I knew one site that ALWAYS works - Facebook. I went to the Sherwin-Williams page and sounded off about my experience... For all of their 288K likers to see:
Yes, they responded. Yes, the Regional Manager called to personally apologize and to hear my side of the story. Yes, I "randomly" received a survey to which I gladly responded (superior service for all of Giorgi's assistance). In the comments section, I provided the details of the incident and gave kudos to the Regional Manager, Bob (who told me to keep his cell phone number and call if I have any questions or issues in the future).
O and yes, I DID receive an email from Scott, the manager, apologizing and offering me a complimentary gallon of paint on him. Kitchen update, anyone???
The moral of this drawn out story is that feedback is important. It is valued by employees, managers and MAJOR corporations. I am serious about providing feedback for stellar service and I will not hesitate to say something if I am left with a sour taste in my mouth!
*two snaps and a neck roll*
Have a sassy (when it makes sense) rest of the week!
AHHHHH! Yesterday, I shared my inspiration board for the craft room. It probably seems like developing an inspiration board is a lot of work... especially for those folks who don't blog or have to share ideas with an audience but... let me just say, these inspiration boards really help to drive the design of my rooms AND to store my items for purchase in one place. Thanks for e-listening, Islanders :)
I know. I left you hanging all weekend with the news of my craft room. I know. You, like I, have been so excited to talk more about how this color thing would work because -- well, it's pink. A grown-up room shouldn't be pink. I *totally* get it.
Trust me. I've thought this decision through long and hard. First, I found my inspiration photo:
Islanders! I am so stinkin' excited to share some major Mama news that I could fall out!
I know, you were probably expecting to further discuss the Minecraft party and yes, I've got lots to share but I want to share photos of the fun (remember I was the planner not coordinator for this event so I set-up and left). These photos will come from my client... as in, I only have half the story (my half) and we'll need to wait on the images of fun (the other half). We can deal, I'm sure.
More importantly, I also want to share my big huge awesome news.
O, wait. You probably read the post title, huh?
Duh, Tabitha. Duh.
Ok, so. This is major for me!!
I've finally settled on what to do with the craft room.
Yes, the above image is a pic of the floor (because you can actually see it for once) and the tub of wall art I've collected for and CAN'T use in Munch's big girl room.
For yesterday's Wordless Wednesday post, I shared pics of the piñata from the Minecraft party. I also titled that post, The Easiest Piñata EVER. I meant it too. This piñata:
... is SUPER easy to make. I'm talkin' 5-minutes, 5 supplies, 5-steps easy and less than $20 (not including candy) easy. Yea, no glue needed kind of easy. Seriously! Here's how:
- Creeper Head (sold in toy section of Target and Walmart for $14)
- Black Duct Tape
- Piece of cardstock
I started this project with a totally different vision in mind. I actually started making a piñata (cutting and gluing tiny squares of paper to a box). Then, I recalled my beloved Minnie piñata from Munch's fifth BOWtique birthday party (party wrap-up here):
Isn't she lovely? I made her using a few kitchen bowls (for circle templates), party streamers ($1), and an old shoe box (to hold the candies). I couldn't believe how perfect she looked. I also couldn't believe children could be so heartless and rip her sweet little self to shreds. Then, I remembered why I vowed to NEVER again invest TOO much into a piñata... they're made for ripping... to shreds.
Rest peacefully, Minnie. I still love you.
The basis of the Minecraft piñata's design is dependent upon the purchase of the Minecraft "head."
Sold in the toy section, these "heads" are SUPPOSED to be used for Minecraft imaginative play. I, however, had a better idea. It's a box. With a hole in its bottom (where the kid's head is supposed to go).
** Nods head slowly **
Can you tell where I'm going with this?
1. Use black duct tape to cover eye holes. I did this by cutting a piece of duct to cover the eyes, then cutting another piece slightly larger than the hole to adhere the "eye cover" duct tape to. Simply stick the duct tape on the inside of the box. This will prevent loose candies from flying out of the eyes.
2. Use your duct tape to create the "hook" for hanging. Cut a 10 inch piece of duct tape, on the inside of the flat flap:
Place about 4 inches of tape "inside" the flap. Cut another piece and create a double sided "loop. I repeated this until I felt it was sturdy enough to support the weight of the candy AND the whacks from the kids. I reinforced with tape in all directions, lol. Don't judge me!
3. Cut 6-8 slits into your cardstock (take care NOT to cut the paper from end-to-end). You want the paper to have some give and to allow the candy to fall through after a few whacks; you don't want the candy to fall through as soon as you pour it into the box.
4. Open the top of the head and place your paper inside. Take care to cover the hole. Pour your candy into the box.
5. The most CRITICAL step was to add the streamers; they made the box FEEL like a piñata. Cut strips of streamers in various shades of green to complete the piñata look. Tape them to the bottom of the paper. You can feel free to use the steamers as an escape hatch for the candy if the kids are too small for whacks or if they don't hit it hard enough to shake the paper around and release the goodies.
VOILA! You've just made an easy piñata for your MINECRAFT party enjoyment! I love that, because there's minimal damage to the box after the piñata fun, you can incorporate the creeper head into bedroom décor OR remove the eye covers and add it to the toy collection!
O and, because there's also a Steve (the Minecraft main character) head, I blocked the eyes in the same manner and used it as a blindfold for pin-the-tail on the pig (more here), a blindfold for the piñata activity AND a photo-op! Yes, photo-op. Boys pose for photos... just in a totally different manner from girls:
... with swords and such, lol. They really were a sweet bunch of boys. Their fun was contagious!
Talk about an affordable party element that really helped to NAIL the theme while saving this party planner some stress... I'd say that's a win-win!
With the passing of one of my favorite poets and authors, Maya Angelou, I'm starting a new series on the island. See, Maya Angelou is acclaimed for her classic works but she was one of my favorite people because of her candid responses. I LOVED to watch her interview. She was poised and confident. She answered every question without falter... almost as if she knew what life would throw at her before it came. She was full of amazing one-liners... tidbits of life mantras. Shoot, she inspired me to hone my writing and speaking skills... to find my blog voice (one that's casual, genuine and conversational without compromising myself or my message).
Her death reminds me to continue to work on my craft... to seek His face in all I do. Like Angelou, I want to remain true to myself, to my God and to the power of uplifting others... as she was, I hope to be RELEVANT until I leave this Earth.
All that said, many folks don't realize just how many of our everyday quotes and sayings come from Maya Angelou. This new series, Maya Mondays, will provide us all with weekly inspiration... It will become a source of POWER-filled words to live by. It will jumpstart our week and remind us of what's important. I hope you enjoy! I also hope you'll get to know a little more about one of my fave people :)
Keeping it real is my thing here on the island; it's the purpose of Snapshot weekends, remember? Well, in the spirit of keeping it real, this next photo has become my everyday life until next Tuesday.
That's my shower. And a pot. A pot filled with boiling water.
Why, you ask?! Because our water heater flooded our basement. Again. We won't have hot water until Tuesday. We have to submit a claim for our carpet repair because it happened a matter of days after the issue was "fixed" the first time.
Ugh. Sometimes, being a grown-up sucks! There. I said it. Anyhoo...
What's your view right now? Do you have anything that's giving you goosebumps?
Get it? That was me... trying to be funny about an expensive house repair we're facing... Again.
See you tomorrow for some party updates and tutorials! Hopefully, I will be in a better mood :)