Thursday, July 28, 2011

recipe: lemon coolers

I made these cookies today for two reasons.  1) I had three lemons sitting on my counter that needed to be used asap, and 2) my mom and grandma will be here in a few weeks, so I wanted to have a little treat already made for them to pull out {of the freezer} to enjoy with a cup of tea/coffee when they get here.  

These cookies could not be easier. 

I originally found the recipe here.  My recipe is different, only in the fact that I used unsalted butter (because that's all I buy), a little more zest than suggested, and I didn't shake the cooled cookies in a bag of sugar, I merely rolled the tops in the sugar.  I got 29 cookies out of my dough, and they're right around 50 calories per cookie.  

They're a shortbread/tea type of cookie.  Just a hint of sweet and a little bite of lemon.  Easy and delicious.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup confectioner's sugar (plus a little for rolling the cookies in, once cooled)
1 tsp finely shredded lemon zest
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Combine flour, sugar, and lemon zest in a bowl, mix.
Add butter and vanilla, mix until a smooth dough forms.
(No need to get the mixer out for this one, it only takes a minute or two with a wooden spoon.)
Roll dough into teaspoon sized balls and place on greased baking sheet.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes, or until bottoms of cookies are lightly browned.
Cool on wire rack.
Once cooled, roll tops of cookies in a little powdered sugar.

In between trying to get our bedroom primed, chasing Callan, and attempting to keep a clean house, I started a little project with some capiz shells I've had stashed away for a few years.
I'll let you know if this project is a win or fail sometime next week.

Hope you're having a great week - it's almost Friday!  Hooray!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


I don't know if you even noticed, but I haven't posted for a while.

I decided to take a spur of the moment hiatus of sorts from blog land.  I turned my time spent while Callan naps into productive moments around the house.  Now that I look back, I don't even know what I actually accomplished, but the break was nice, nonetheless.  As much as I enjoy my daily blog fix, I think I'm going to cut it down to once or twice a week (if that), unless something truly remarkable happens that I JUST HAVE TO SHARE.

Anyways, here's what's been going on around here while my little guy does this:

I finally got around to making a pillow that's been on my (forever and a day long) to-do list.  It's made out of two napkins from Target (from a pack of four), that I picked up a while back.  I bought the napkins thinking they'd be adorable for a summer dinner party.  But really, who am I kidding...?  I'll never throw a summer dinner party that calls for cloth napkins.  Let's get real.  So now I have a cute pillow. 

I added a layer of batting behind the front side and stitched a grid-like pattern.  You can't really see it though.  Oh well.

I even put in a zipper.  MY VERY FIRST ZIPPER.  It wasn't nearly as bad as I was expecting, but I need more practice.  I have feared zippers for years, despite my friend's reassurance that they really aren't that difficult.  She was right.  I just need more practice.

I've been trying to get our room primed so we can get some paint up on the walls.  Slooooow going.  It seems that every time I get a paintbrush in-hand, Callan wakes up.  Maybe I'll be done before the end of August.  Ha.  In the meantime, graffiti is fun. 

We also just got rid of the wooden lattice that was nailed up over the windows of the sunroom.  There is, surprisingly, so much more light in there, now.  Who knew lattice could block so much sun.  I can't wait to clean, both the inside and outside, paint it, revamp the flower bed, and do something about those "support" trellises.  Still lots to do, but it's a start.  That pile of stone, brick, and planters pulled out from the fenceline doesn't help the appearance, as of the moment.  Maybe by next summer we'll have some noticeable improvements out there.  Here's hoping.

Here's all the lattice we took down.

And I think I may have finally settled on something for the mantle.  For now.  What's up there, has been up for a week, or two (?), and I like it.  I whipped up the paper doily bunting the other day just to add a little something else.  It's kinda fun. 

I'm still undecided as to if I should paint the mirror, or not, or whether to keep it vertical, or put it on it's side.  And that empty teal frame is just waiting for a new family picture.  We need to take one.  It'll stay empty until I actually feel like doing my hair.  It's just too hot to get the blow dryer out these days. 

So that's what has been going on around here in the past few weeks, along with the typical cleaning, laundry, and baby chasing.  Callan is a crazy crawling, cruising machine.  He keeps me busy, that's for sure!

Here's something I'm looking forward to:

In just over two weeks, my mom and grandma will be coming out to visit for a few days, then Callan and I will be flying back to NJ, with them, for about a week to meet our niece (finally!).  We desperately wish Travis could come with us, but with both a trip to CA and NJ planned for later this year, he needs to save his paid time off.  Understandable.  But we'll miss him terribly.

That's it for now.  Off to chase Callan.  And hopefully get to the sink full of dishes...

Monday, July 18, 2011

fence meets fence

 That means the fence is done.  You have no idea how nice it is to say that.

We have a few little things left to do before we can walk away from the fence, however.  We need to fill the post holes with dirt, now that the concrete has had plenty of time to set, and trim the top of the posts shorter than the fence panels.  As well as finish our neighbor's side fence and gate.  But the 96' length of the fence is complete.  And that's huge.

A few issues that we ran into while putting up the fence:

The person(s) that installed the sprinkler system, ran the sprinkler pipes right along the fence line.  This made it difficult to use the auger and for straightening out the line of the fence.  We ended up cutting the pipe and installing a sprinkler head on the second half of the yard.  Now the pipe wouldn't be in our way for the rest of the fence, and that half of the yard would now get the water that it wasn't getting before.  Win-win.

Renting the auger for just 2 days wasn't nearly long enough.  It would have been nice to have it for the length of time it took us to complete the fence.  But that would have cost us way too much money.

We measured, but we should have measured a heck of a lot more.  For over half of the 'augered' holes that were drilled, we had to use post hole diggers to widen the hole for proper fence hole spacing.  Pain in the butt. 

The pre-existing fence line was riddled with bricks, pavers, and metal flashing.  We had to pull all of that out to straighten up the fence line.  This is just some of it.

More of it.  "The brick graveyard", on the side of the garage.

These are the bricks we chose to keep.  They were the ones buried along the old fence.  They would be great for a future firepit.  They're worn and weathered.  Just the way I like them.

Upgraded from...

{ you can see more of the old fence HERE } this.

There are some "wonky" panels, a few less than plumb posts, and a few posts that are out of line, but all in all, I think we did a pretty good job.  Especially for our first time!  We would have preferred the wider fence pickets (like the old fence), but those were special order and significantly more money.  We may have settled, but we still got an improvement.

But here are a few tips, if you ever decide to install a fence of your own.  We learned a lot from this fence install.
1) Do it in cooler weather.  Putting up a fence in 100+ degree weather is miserable.
2) Measure, measure, measure!  You'll avoid a huge headache if you measure out the wa-zoo.
3) Rent an auger.  It makes hole digging 100x long as you measure properly.
4) Pre-made fence panels are far from perfect.  Build your own.  Hindsight.  We should have built our own.
5) You'll need more concrete than you initially thought.  Most likely.
6) Hire a professional.  Especially if you want a professional looking fence.

Friday, July 15, 2011

mirror, mirror

I pulled the mirror out of our hall bathroom a few days ago to try it out on our mantle.  It was too big.  It practically touched the ceiling.  Not gonna work.  It's heavy.  I pulled it off the mantle and now it sits, propped up in the hallway until the hubby can help me hang it back up in the bathroom. 

While it sits, Callan has had some fun with it.  

Happy Friday, my friends!  Have a lovely weekend!

ps - after some backyard cleanup this weekend, I'll post some finished pictures of the fence.  :)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

a painted fireplace

Towards the top of my "must-have" list when looking for a house, was a fireplace and mantle.  I was happy when the "the house" had one - not so happy that it was ugly and dated.
Challenge accepted.
{ you noted the HIMYM reference, right?  ;) }

{ this was the only picture I could find of the fireplace "before".  it was from the day we closed on the house. }

 When I finally got around to addressing the fireplace brick, it took me 2 weeks (?) or so to prime and paint the fireplace.  Painting time was, mostly, limited to nap time, so it took a bit longer than I had initially expected.  But it's done.  And I'm so happy about that.  I love the way it turned out.

{ paint color is Woodlawn Lace from Valspar }

It's fresh, it's clean, it makes me happy.  But it's not quite finished.   Here's what's left...

I'm already working on decorating the mantle.  I'm toying around with a few ideas, I just need to settle on something and make it happen.  For the new mantle and seat, we just need a few pieces of wood and some stain.  Easy stuff, just need to find the time and a few extra bucks.

You know how it goes.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

recipes : lunch & dinner

I'm back with a few more recipes from  Seriously, check out the site if you haven't yet.  Oodles of yummy recipes.  I haven't tried anything yet that I don't like! { Given I've only tried four of them... }

Yesterday, I made the Skinny Chicken Waldorf Salad for lunch, and then we had the Spinach Lasagna Rolls for dinner.  I made the Lasagna Rolls the day before - I put a few in the fridge and a few in the freezer.  Both recipes were delicious; both will be made again.

Ingredients (makes 3 servings)

7 oz (1 breast) boiled chicken breast
1 medium apple, peeled and cut into small cubes
1 cup seedless grapes, cut in half
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/4 cup mayo
2 Tbsp fat free Greek yogurt
2 Tbsp pecans or walnuts
mixed baby greens, like spinach or arugula


Combine mayo, yogurt, s&p.  Mix well.  Add chicken, grapes, apples, celery, and let chill in fridge until ready to eat.  Mix in pecans just before serving.  Serve over baby greens.  Enjoy!

I made a side of roasted broccoli to go along with the salad.  My all-time favorite way to eat broccoli.
Thank you, Tiffany!  ;)

Ingredients (makes 9 servings)

9 lasagna noodles, cooked
10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and completely drained
15 oz fat free ricotta cheese
1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
32 oz tomato sauce
9 Tbsp part skim mozzarella cheese, shredded


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine spinach, ricotta, Parmesan, egg, s&p in a medium bowl.  Ladle about 1 cup sauce on the bottom of a 9x12 baking dish.  Place a piece of wax paper on the counter and lay out lasagna noodles.  Make sure noodles are dry.  Spread about 1/3 cup of ricotta mixture even over each noodle.  Roll carefully and place seam side down in baking dish.  Repeat with remaining noodles.  Ladle sauce over the noodles in the baking dish and top each one with 1 Tbsp mozzarella cheese. Put foil over dish and bake for 40 minutes, or until cheese melts.  Enjoy!

And just so I'm not all about food, two days in a row, here's a look at the curtains I sewed last week for my kitchen window.  They're cute, but will look way cuter once the kitchen cabinets are painted { a project lined up for sometime this fall }.

{ pretend like the dishes in the sink aren't there, k? }

ps - have you seen this?  It totally works!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

recipe : cheesey zucchini enchiladas & fiesta lime rice

I haven't been in the mood to cook much lately.  Eggs, PB&J sandwiches, and steak quesadillas kinda took over our menu.  The easier the better.  Over the weekend, however, I got re-inspired.  I hopped back onto the healthy cooking/eating train.  My bags are packed.  I'm on board.  My fridge and pantry are stocked.

Have you ever checked out  I learned of this site through a friend on Facebook.  I have been "following" Skinny Taste for a while, but never took the time out to browse through the recipes on the website.  I finally took some time to click around over the weekend.  Lots of healthy meal options, inspiration, and pictures.  Pictures really are worth a thousand words when it comes to recipes.  Am I right?!

On Sunday night, I whipped up Cheesy Zucchini Enchiladas and Fiesta Lime Rice.  

Super tasty.

 Cheesy Zucchini Enchiladas


1 tsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 medium scallions, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
{ cilantro really makes a Mexican dish taste fresh - I just love it! }
2 medium zucchinis, grated
salt and fresh ground pepper
1 1/2 cups grated reduced fat Mexican blend cheese
tortillas (low carb ones are suggested)
small can of enchilada sauce (I like the green sauce)
chopped scallions
chopped cilantro


In a medium nonstick skillet, saute garlic and scallions in olive oil over medium heat for about 3 minutes; add zucchini, salt, and pepper to taste and cook about 4-5 minutes.  Remove from eat and add 1/2 cup cheese; mix well.  Divide zucchini between each tortilla, roll and place seam side down in baking dish.  Top with enchilada sauce and remaining cheese and bake until hot and the cheese is melted, about 20 minutes.  Serve with chopped cilantro, scallions, and reduced fat sour cream, if you wish.  Enjoy!

Fiesta Lime Rice


1 1/2 cups cooked long grain rice
3/4 cup canned black beans, rinsed and heated
3/4 cup cooked corn, heated
1 large tomato, diced
1 large scallion, finely diced
2-4 Tbsp chopped cilantro
1 Tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
salt to taste


In a large bowl, combine hot rice, heated corn and beans, tomato, scallion, cilantro, lime juice, and salt.  Toss and serve.  Enjoy!

We really enjoyed both of these recipes.  I will be making a lot more of Gina's recipes in the future.  In fact, we're having Spinach Lasagna Rolls tomorrow night for dinner.  I'll let you know how they turn out!

Do you have a favorite healthy recipe website?  Or maybe a healthy recipe you're willing to share?

BTW - I finished painting our fireplace during naptime yesterday!  Hooray!  Pics to come soon.

Monday, July 11, 2011

I love a productive weekend

The fence is finished, the fireplace is just about finished, we spent some quality time with friends, checked out a new yogurt shop, went grocery shopping, and even found some time to relax.

You'll see more on the fence and fireplace later this week.

But for now, this is a quickie { no, not that kind }.  I have a lot to cram into this nap time.  Just thought I'd share some happiness from my weekend with you!

{ cherry berry, yum! }

It was a good one.  I'd put it on repeat, if I could.