Friday, February 19, 2016

Bye Brisas, Hello Tarwater

Jeff and I struggled with this decision so much that we almost settled on a house we didn't love just to keep the boys in their school district. So glad we didn't do that!

Once we found our new home, we knew the boys would be changing schools. :( This is truly heartbreaking for us, as we've built a real family at Brisas. Connor was there for a couple years as an infant and for the last 4 years. Bear just started there this year for kinder. Some of our closest friends teach at the school or work for the district in another capacity. I'm involved in the lowest level possible, but still able to say I'm involved. We hate that we'll be leaving their school, but we just weren't able to find anything in their school boundary and we really want them to attend their home school. I want the kids down the block to be the same ones they have class with.

Their new school is awesome - ranked very high and it's only like 12 houses away so they can walk to school. If we were to keep them at Brisas, we'd be looking at about 20-25 minutes to drive them to school - as if mornings aren't already crazy enough, let's add in a commute. 7 miles doesn't seem very far, but in our town you'd pass like 6 elementary schools in those 7 miles. Plus, since I work from home 90% of my time, I'm driving them to school at 730, home for a few hours to work and then headed back to get them around 230. That's silly.

So they'll finish out this year as Brisas Geckos and next year they'll be Tarwater Toros!

The boys were immediately excited about their new school which surprised us. They are stoked to be so close to their new school next year. I don't think it's really sunk in yet that they'll be the new kids next year. Connor will be 100% fine - he makes friends everywhere he goes. Bear may take a bit more time to adjust as he's slower to warm up - plus we'll have to explain to everyone that yes, his name is Bear.

We've promised them that we'll stay in touch with their friends from Brisas and we really will. We've become such good friends with so many of the parents and some of these boys have been friends since they were infants.

Connor and Aidan bff est 2007
I think that their transition is going to be so much easier because they are already good friends with all the kiddos in our hood. I didn't know that kids really knocked on our doors to ask if the boys could come out to play. TO PLAY!? We love it. The kids play football outside, ride bikes, play video games, whatever. On our cul-de-sac there are more than 20 kids - mostly boys - ranging from toddler to teen and most are right around 4th/5th grade. We're thrilled that Connor and Bear will start at their new school already having dozens of friends. Such a relief.

That's it for now - next time I'll fill ya in on the work we've done to the new house!!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Notes from my move...

What I discovered today is that when you buy a home twice as large, you spend twice the amount of time running around trying to find your stuff in boxes. #MoveItBarnes

Monday, January 25, 2016

Moving Day!

So we closed on our dream home last Friday (cue the singing angels) and now we start the never ending task of home improvement stuff. We’re desperate to actually LIVE in our home, call us crazy. Unfortunately there were a couple things we wanted to take care of before we had the movers haul our stuff to the new house.

I’m not a project manager, but I am a busy, working mom with too many of my own activities plus my overscheduled kids’ calendars so I’m kinda good at juggling and scheduling shit. We closed Friday, had our tile regrout project start on Saturday morning and gave him a few days to make some progress before the painters started Tuesday (today). They should both likely wrap up Saturday and we have to get the floors sealed Sunday before the movers arrive at noon on Monday. Last night I realized that we never hired someone to seal the floors. Again, not a project manager.

I just googled “can I seal my own tile” and there were several YouTube videos instantly available. Danger! I am not handy. Jeff is not handy. We should NOT be considering sealing very expensive natural stone floors.

I really get that people like painters, tilers, etc want to SEE the project before they give you a bid but sheesh it’s inconvenient to have to drive to the home we’re not yet living in to meet them at all different times just to get quotes. This is the epitome of a first world problem, I get it.

So once the floors are all done, the house is all painted and we’re moved in, we have a whole other giant list of stuff to tackle. Our landscaper will be removing all the desert landscaping in the yard, installing irrigation and putting down sod so the giant lot we live on will actually be usable. The backyard is amazing with lemons, key limes, oranges and figs (figs!?) but they are all spread out and we know we won’t be able to transplant them which is a bummer. We’ll save the lemon tree since it’s off to the side, but the other 3 will likely be sacrificed for the sake of playspace for the boys.

Another project is refacing our ugly, dark cabinets into pretty white cabinets that look awesome with our counters. Can’t wait for that to happen but we have a LOT of cabinets – kitchen, laundry, bathrooms, linen closet in hallway…and that adds up! We’ve got one quote so far and I feel like we may as well just get new cabinets!

see: ugly brown cabinets that we hate. 

Fast forward to tomorrow, Tuesday, and we’re actually moving in – yay! It’s gonna be a crazy day so if you feel like randomly stopping by tomorrow would be the day to see some chaos. We have our movers delivering our stuff, two different furniture companies dropping off new stuff, appliances being delivered, internet being hooked up, one person coming to give us a quote on shutters and another to give us a quote for cabinets. This may have been a scheduling mistake. Your invitation is rescinded. Sorry, another time.

This was us like all weekend just hanging out at our empty house

The boys got to pick an accent wall color for their rooms. Miami Dolphins Teal & Chicago Bears Navy

We had pizza on the floor the night we closed. Then we had to leave our house since we had no furniture.

We’re so excited to actually get to live in the house we’ve been visiting nonstop for the last month. This time tomorrow we'll be back in our OWN BEDS!

Watch for more updates!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Casa de Barnes 2.0 Update!

We did it! We made an offer on a house, got it accepted and are super excited!

It hits on all of our wish list, except that 3rd bathroom...sorry guests!! You'll still have to venture into the same bathroom where the boys pee. I don't go in there, but you must. 

We close on February 3rd and so that's a month after our house closes. A month. Luckily, my clients have great taste in houses and we'll be moving into my quasi step mom's townhouse I sold her last year. She had some plumbing work done so she moved out for a few weeks and is just going to postpone her return until we're outta there. We're lucky and Corliss - we left your thank you gift on your washer and dryer cause we're super scatterbrained right now but you can find it there :)

We love the house so much. We've been looking for years, literally. We've been seriously looking for months though. A couple weeks ago, we checked out about 12 homes and were fortunate that there were 6 that were serious contenders. Having a lot of options is just as tough as having too few. I know that sounds bonkers but I mean it. We kept coming back to two different houses - Oriole and Tumbleweed. Oriole had the single story we wanted, an awesome pantry, a great neighborhood and the pool of our dreams. Tumbleweed had the boys' dream backyard with basketball court, trampoline and pool plus they really wanted stairs in the house. The finishes in Tumbleweed were better and we could easily move in immediately without doing anything. The area was good, but farther to the school and parks. We even became those buyers who brought their entire family to the houses to get input. No effing joke here. My parents, my in laws and one of my sisters met us at both houses to give input. Thank God I'm a Realtor and I didn't have to subject another agent to this chaos. The sellers can however, see every time we go and look at the house which is shameful enough. 

This house has 4 great size bedrooms and a den/formal dining room that we'll likely use as an office since we eat on the couch watching tv like all honest human beings. right? Can we all just admit this once and for all?

The backyard is amazing and the house is more than twice the size of Orchid Lane. Also, the address is oddly similar to the one we've memorized for the last 13 years. 

We've got projects to do, but nothing crazy. The lot is about 1/4 acre and about half of it is full of pool, decking and an outdoor kitchen. The other half is desert landscaped with lime, lemon, orange and fig trees. Love the trees but we want grass space for the boys. Boys need to run. We will maybe put in a sport court too since they missed out on that with this house. 

The home has gorgeous 20" travertine tiles throughout and we planned to remove those and install the wood tile planks we LOVE, but then we found out that travertine is like $5/ft just to remove the damn stuff. That's bonkers. Also, every tile contractor or designer we brought in to quote us for flooring said we were idiots to even consider removing the gorgeous tile. Fine you win, it will stay. 

We'll be painting but I'm going to just skip the entire drama of selecting a paint color by going with the color we painted the Orchid house. Revisit here. We told the boys that they can each pick out an accent wall for their bedrooms. Bear picked Chicago Bears navy and Connor will have Miami Dolphins teal. I'm so completely outnumbered up in here friends. 

So we'll just have some tile regrouted, the house painted and I think we'll have the cabinets refinished in the kitchen, laundry, baths and hallway. There are like 10 fans in the house and every damn one is different so we'll be giving our 401k to Home Depot soon. Fixtures make so much difference...and add up pretty quick!

The buyer wanted our washer and dryer on Orchid so we'll have to grab a new pair of those. Any tips? The range from $400-2000 for a washer is beyond intense. 

There's a built in bbq but it needs some love so we're shooting to have that all rebuilt by summatime so clear your schedules and we'll maybe get around to a housewarming party around June. :) No promises. 

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Wants vs Needs

I am struggling with some wants vs needs today.

I WANT to sit on the floor (because we sold our 3 chairs and couch) and binge watch Fixer Upper, but I NEED to pack a few more boxes.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Packing is not fun.

Just in case you were thinking hmmm, buying a house sounds like a drag but that packing part sounds have it wrong. Someone lied to you. Cut them out of your life immediately. You don't need that in your life.

House hunting is fun, buying a house is fun, packing is not. You're welcome.

Yesterday I packed 6 boxes of kitchen stuff. Took me three hours and I don't feel like I really made that much progress. 5 boxes from the already thinned out playroom the day before and that room is looking ok.

Jeffrey thinks we can do all of our packing in like a day. Part of me wants to just let him try it just so I can watch it all unfold. This is not the nice part of me.

maybe we'll just leave it? 

Also trying to find a new house, wrap up Christmas shopping/prep, and going out of town all last weekend = zero progress.

Countdown Update: We have to be out of our house in 12 days!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Search for Casa de Barnes 2.0


WE'RE UNDER CONTRACT!! We got our first offer just a few hours after we listed the house for sale. After a few days, we'd received 4 offers and we just accepted a GREAT one last night so it's official...we're moving! The buyer has cash so we'll be closing fast. They actually wanted to close in less than two weeks...that's Christmas if anyone is checking. Um, we'll need a bit more time thanks. So we have exactly 3 weeks to pack everything, celebrate our last Christmas and New Years in this home and...oh yeah, find a place to live.

We've been looking at houses for years like I mentioned and every once in a while something will be a strong contender but we're just not finding THE ONE. Trust me when I tell you that we're not being unrealistic. We've tweaked and adjusted all of our criteria to the point where almost all of our Must Haves are now basically Wish List items. It's a total seller's market in this price point. Inventory is at an all time low which means that sellers hold the cards. I wrote offers for two different buyers last week and both houses had multiple offers and ended up accepting contracts for over their asking price. This means it's a GREAT time to sell your house and if you're a buyer you better be ready to act fast and bring your A-game. It's still a great time to buy though - interest rates are low and prices are expected to continue climbing over the next few years. That means the house you see today for $300k will be closer to $350k in a couple years - say YAY to instant equity!

Anyway, so here's our criteria and how it's changed throughout our search. We initially wanted to be in the boys' school district but we are open to most of Chandler at this point. We'll worry about their high school boundaries in 6 years I guess. I'm not above lying about our address so I think we'll be fine. Morals ya know? So we want a minimum of 4 bedrooms but we're now ok with 3 bedrooms and a den. We need a minimum of 4 spaces. Initially, I was insistent on 3 bathrooms - 2 full baths and a powder room/half bath is fine. I live with a bunch of boys and I just don't feel like our guests should be subjected to using the same bathroom that the boys use. Personally, I don't even go in there. Ever. We've unfortunately come to terms that this is a tough requirement so we're open to 2 baths. I really prefer a single story since we plan on this house being in the family long after the boys have gone to college and we're old(er) and tired(er) and don't want to deal with stairs. This requirement has also fallen to the wayside and we're looking at 2 stories. At least with a 2 story, we get that 3rd bathroom. We prefer that the house have a pool already but now we're fine if there's at least room to build a pool in the future. That's pretty much our list. Doesn't seem like it should be so tough huh? Well it is dammit.

Did I mention that we listed our house with absolutely zero plans for where we'd move when/if Orchid Lane sells? Yup, that's our plan! Isn't it fun? Isn't it exciting? What an adventure!!

I was lying about it being an adventure. It's kinda scary but not as scary as you'd think. If we're fortunate and the right buyer comes along soon, we'll just continue our house search as usual. If we can't find anything we may need to rent month to month until we find the one. Buying a house is too important to rush into, so we'll just foster out the boys and Jeff and I will take a really long vacation until the right house comes along. Easy peasy.

Actually, we'll likely rent an apartment just small enough to be uncomfortable and we'll be motivated to land the perfect house!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

fast forward 3 months: where the hell are my coffee mugs?!

stock photo but i have these mugs
Um, i just packed a computer keyboard, 5 coffee mugs and my gel manicure light in the same box everyone. There is officially no method to my madness. We're gonna be these people:

I have always subscribed to the Tetris Method of packing. I love that - it's like a puzzle to get everything to fit perfectly into the exact space you have leaving zero nooks or crannies.

For a somewhat Type A, OCD person, I think I've lost it.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Urge to Purge...and pack...and paint

We're not hoarders. We seriously love a good purge. We used to have garage sales but we're over it. I think we're just too damn old to do 20 hours of work (sorting, pricing, borrowing tables, and watching people dig through my castoffs) to make something like $84.  So instead, we donate truckloads (Honda Pilot loads) to Goodwill many times throughout the year but even when you're a good purger, stuff accumulates. Some of my favorite uncovered treasures from our recent purging: Jeff's Blockbuster membership card, about 100 extra favors from our 2004 wedding, 6000 worksheets and art projects, high school graduation cap & gowns, a personalized door knocker I gave Jeff for our first wedding anniversary that never left the box - guess that last one will go on the next house...

When I list a house for sale and my clients are still living there I always tell them to remove 50% of the "stuff" from their house...and then when they think they've done that they need to remove 50% more. I'm kinda a jerk like that. Things like a large gallery of photos of your family, the 4 paintings you did at one of those BYOB painting parties and your collection of creepy dead eye dolls can be distracting to buyers walking through your house and we want them talking about how great my kitchen is and not how weird my decor choices are. Nothing you do will appeal to 100% of buyers, but the more neutral you can make your home, the better. For that reason, we packed up so much stuff that we didn't need on a daily basis. Do we need a full 12 piece place setting of our dishes? No, we eat on paper plates every night anyway guys. Do we need all of our clothes in our closets or just the 10 items we all wear over and over again? Plus, it makes closets look bigger and better to not be jammed full of clothes. We removed all the dust collecting decor from plant shelves and just put a few items up there to catch a buyer's eye to see that we actually have shelves throughout the house. We packed away like 20 trophies and team photos of the boys' various sports.  I think I packed away like 30 owls so I did my part too. Jeff got rid of that Blockbuster card and like 12 Dbacks hats.

There were a few things we wanted to get done at the house before putting it on the market. Our backyard is a great size for the kids to play but we let the grass die a few years ago with the plan to put artificial turf in or maybe put in a pool. We ruled out the pool due to size and not wanting to put a $30k pool into a house we had no plan on staying in for more than a couple more years. We're not home a lot and we never got around to having turf installed so we decided to winterize the lawn for the next owners. Our landscaper came out and overseeded and spread shit (literally) all over the yard, we watered the hell out of it and it's coming in nicely in most parts. There are some areas that are spotty so maybe we're feeding the birds. I'm staying hopeful that it will fill in. We also decided to have the entire house painted - both inside and out. Wow, what a difference! My inlaws painted most of the inside of our house as a housewarming present when we bought it and Jeff and I painted the nursery 9 years ago but that's it. Nothing since. 

Our painters were great and removed everything to paint. Everything except for this No Soliciting sign that was literally taped to the house next to the front door. Yes, they PAINTED AROUND IT. 
I labored over the task of finding the perfect gray for weeks - literally. Did you know that there are roughly 5642 different shades of gray (or is it grey? I still don't know). Oh and did you know that each shade looks different in each damn Pinterest photo? I was drawn to Gray Owl for obvious reasons but didn't know if it would look gray enough. When I showed a house with a nice gray color, I'd call the listing agent to find out what color the sellers used. This is the level of crazy I landed in trying to choose a paint color. 

this guy gets it

We finally settled on Revere Pewter and are super pleased with the way it turned out. Having fresh paint on the walls and white baseboards makes it look like a whole new house!! I've become an absolute nightmare though. Every time the boys bump into a wall I lose my shit with them. I've also become that person who doesn't want you wearing shoes on the newly cleaned carpet. I don't care about the tile though so this has now resulted in all of our shoes being left in the hallway, kitchen and family room. Super. We had the exterior painted too because the beige/pink color so popular in the early 90s stucco homes was gross. I truly don't think the house had been painted since it was built in 1993. It looks so good now guys - I'm sure our neighbors are thankful as well.  

The interior painting took a solid 4 days and they knocked out the exterior in one day. I took photos of the chaos - and it was total chaos and moved from room to room as they worked in an attempt to stay out of their way. It obviously would have been easier to not work from home that week and go into my never used office, but I'm glad I got to be around to see the full transformation. 

This day was a struggle. The painters took over the great room (aka my office) and I was writing contracts for a buyer while sitting on my 8 year old's Miami Dolphins bed using an upside down laundry basket for a desk. This is the point where I should have admitted that my presence was not important to the project and gone to starbucks for a latte & free wifi. 

We had a few other little things done around the house to prep - repairing some cracked grout, having the carpets deep cleaned and some exhaust fans replaced. I felt like a general contractor arranging for all the trades to get in and do their thing. Luckily/Unfortunately, December is a wee bit slower for real estate, so I've been able to be home to coordinate the "project". It's been an adventure to say the least. I feel like it's the most work I've ever done without really doing anything other than trying to stay out of the way. As I type this, there are two very nice women (truthfully, one nice woman and one mute woman who doesn't respond when I awkwardly chat her up) cleaning our house for the final deep cleaning before we hit the market. Since we're ridiculous busy and pretty lazy, we have someone come in and clean every 3 weeks so today's crew doesn't have a disgusting job on their hands, but having the house painted and having tile work done is messy business so this was necessary. This is pretty much the last thing to do before we go live on the market - eeeek!

Thursdays are the best days to list houses. It's possible I've made this up but I do alright so it must be working. This way, the emails go out to buyers late Thursday/early Friday and we can get on their schedule of homes to see over the weekend. 

That's the goal anyway; Orchid Lane will officially be on the market this Thursday, December 10th!!

Up Next in this thrilling series: The Search for Casa de Barnes 2.0

ICYMI: That Time a Realtor Sold Her Own House

Monday, December 7, 2015

That time a Realtor sold her own house...

Since I've really blow it at blogging over the last like 4 years, I've decided to give it another go. I think I'll "live blog" our family's upcoming real estate activity. weeeeeeee! This may likely be a horrible idea - maybe I'll complain about the process so much that all 4 people who will ever read this will see moving as such a nightmare that they decide to never ever do it and I'll lose that hypothetical business. Seems reasonable.

Jeff and I the day we closed on our house - that's right, it's a picture of a picture

So Jeff and I bought our house when we were babies in college. We had been living together for maybe a year or so and I hated living in an apartment and paying rent. Hated it. So I told Jeff why don't we just see what's out there to buy - ha! Please refer to one of my favorite movie scenes below, I'll wait.

We've talked about selling on and off for several years. Being a Realtor, you know I've had a search running for us for years as well. We see houses all the time but it was often for fun and being nosy and not totally realistic.So anyway...we bought a house. We loved this house, still do really. 3 bedrooms is literally a TON of space when you're 21 years old and have no furniture made of real wood, no kids and all of your cups are from bars and sorority date parties.  We got married while living here, celebrated hundreds of holidays, and brought both boys home from the hospital into this home. This was our first home, but we've outgrown it and the boys need more outdoor space to run some of their goddamn energy off.

I think shit got real when we were shopping for a new couch this past August. We found one we loved and were like minutes away from swiping our favorite travel miles credit card. I think I made a joke about clients deciding to not buy a house they loved because their stupid sectional wouldn't fit in the new space and we got kinda quiet. Is this really the house we're committed to enough to buy a giant new couch for. That's legit commitment, like going steady commitment. Did we really want to put a pretty new couch into this house just to have to move it to another house when we finally decide to get real about selling? Nope. We came home and immediately started getting to work to make it happen. 

Up Next in this thrilling series: The Urge To Purge!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

I think I'm back to blogging...and i'm leading with a Taco Bell knock off?

I haven't blogged in like 2 years maybe. No clue. Should have checked that out before I started this post. I just ran out of time to do it. But I'm back. I think I'm back. We'll see. 

How's that for commitment? 

Bear loves burritos, like LOVES them. He's always asking me to make them but Taco Bell makes them the way he likes for less than a buck so why challenge it? Plus casseroles are easier to prep and use for leftovers so I wanted to try and make some sort of bean burrito casserole. This is what I came up with and as usual, I didn't take any photos before we dug in. It looked good. Trust.

the TB version. not mine.

Beef & Bean Tortilla Bake
1 lb ground beef
1 can black beans, drained
1 can pinto beans, drained
1 can stewed tomatoes, or a can of tomato sauce if you're like me and never seem to freakin' have stewed tomatoes
1/2 cup water
4 tortillas - I used two wheat and two spinach cause that's just what I had
1 cup shredded cheese
taco seasoning to taste

Preheat to 350. Cut tortillas in half and then 1 inch strips. Brown meat and drain. Add all beans, tomatoes, water and seasoning and heat for a couple minutes. Right before you take it off the heat, mix in 1/2 the shredded cheese.  Spread 2 cups of meat mixture in bottom of a 8x8 dish. Layer 1/2 the tortilla strips over meat. Add another 2 cups of meat mixture. And one more layer of tortilla. Pour remaining meat and cook for 30 minutes or until it smells amazing and starts to bubble. Add the rest of your cheese and heat for 5 more minutes.

OMG. enjoy. it's so good. My kids are total wimpy white boys for spice so I had to go easy on the seasoning. If I was making a dish just for Jeff and I, I'd likely add a can of green chilies and a bunch more seasoning. Even without the heat, it was great. Bear had two helpings and Connor who pretends to hate beans even said it was great and happily boxed some up for lunch leftovers. I call it a win. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Stuffed Sweet Peppers

We got a bunch of mini sweet peppers at Costco and I dug around the fridge/pantry finding things to stuff them with. Here's what I came up with.

Stuffed Mini Sweet Peppers

2 lbs mini sweet peppers
greek yogurt - i only had the single serving ones so I used three of those
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp seasoned salt
2 c shredded cheese
crumbled bacon - full disclosure I used bacos

Preheat to 350* and spray a muffin pan with cooking spray. Cut off the tops/stems of peppers and clean out the ribs and seeds inside. Combine yogurt, garlic powder, seasoned salt, cheese and bacon. I heated them in the microwave for 30 seconds so they'd mix well. Put that mixture into a ziplock baggie and cut off a corner so you can squeeze it into each of the peppers like frosting. Put the stuffed peppers into the muffin tin and bake for 20 minutes.

These are super yummy.  I made the boys PB&J because our bread is about to expire and we need to get through it...and i'm lazy.  Jeff worked late tonight and I didn't feel like making something for dinner for myself. I ate like 7 of these.

When did this turn into a food blog? it's not, I swear. 4 days out of 7 we eat bagel dogs (omg seriously amazing), nuggets and other frozen delicacies. At least once a week (read, twice) we drive through our dinner. BUT...once a week I actually remember to thaw a protein of some sort and I cook. I cook a LOT of that one thing so we can eat it for several meals too.

If you try these peppers, let me know what you think!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Cheesy Sausage & Spinach Casserole

Made a really yummy breakfast casserole for Easter yesterday and thought I’d share. Super easy and I already had everything I needed…except half and half because who keeps half and half on hand??

nope, thats not our fancy Easter, Jesus-approved flatware...I'm having leftovers for
lunch today at the office.

Sausage & Spinach Breakfast Casserole

1 lb breakfast sausage – I used the kind that comes in that tube thing
1 package stuffing mix, prepared – I used the cornbread flavor
3 eggs
1 bag chopped spinach, thawed and dried
1 ½ cups half and half
8oz of your favorite sprinkle cheese – we used Monterey jack cause that what I had
A couple cloves of garlic – I used minced as I always have that available and I’m lazy
2 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese

Prepare stuffing and set aside.  Cook the sausage over medium heat until it isn’t pink anymore.  Add in garlic and smell the yumminess. Drain the fat…unless you like the fat in there still fatty.  Mix in spinach and prepared stuffing until it’s all combined.  Dump into greased baking dish and cover with sprinkle cheese.  Combine eggs and half and half in small bowl and pour over casserole.  Shake dish around so that the egg mixture really gets in there.  Bake for 30 minutes at 400*.  The cheese on top should be lightly toasted but not burnt.  Sprinkle the parmesan on top and bake for another 5-10 minutes until it gets bubbly.  Let it sit for a few minutes before serving so it can set up.

This was a hit with our family.  Even my sister who doesn't like stuffing tried it and liked it. We ate it a couple hours later since the fam was running late so I’m anxious to try it piping hot next time. You can certainly add onion or spices to this if you wanted to but I think it was fine without anything additional. I think I’d consider adding another egg next time since I really like eggs but it’s great as-is.  

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day 2013

oh man, i made the cutest Valentines for Bear. I used to make really cute ones for Connor too but now he just wants the grocery store box of valentines that come with fun dip. fun dip. whatever, it's yummy i get it.
i determined that i've likely only got a couple more years until bear detours this way as well, so i'm making the most of it. i found the cutest idea on pinterest (obvi) and because of the cute to creepy ratio of the cards, decided they'd be perfect for bear.  this is how they turned out.
adorable right? they were a HIT.
Isn't it crazy how they look all 3D?? they aren't. everyone loved them and wanted to know how they were done. the most difficult part was getting bear to take the photo. you have to get his hand out in front of him but not covering his face...and not too much in the middle or the sucker will cover him up...and not too far off to the side or the effect will be lost. you see my issue. plus, it's bear. here's a summary of some of our attempts.

Please note that the actual cards are in a completely different shirt than all the attempts. I eventually gave up and did more photos on another day. this kid is a trip.

Connor's class had their Valentine's Friendship Breakfast on the 14th and I joined them. it was really cute. the kids made jam and they had fruit, waffles, juice and maybe some other stuff. I love how excited Connor gets when I show up at his classroom. It's rare since i'm one of those working moms :) so I think he likes it even more since I'm not there every week (or every month...).

As for Jeffrey and I, we don't really 'do' Valentine's day since it's smack between my bday and our wedding anniversary. The boys did however surprise me with cards and pretty flowers. Jeff & I had a special dinner of leftover meatloaf. magic.

Hope you had an extra special Valentine's Day!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

photo-op attempt

Jeff's mom had these adorb sweaters made for the boys in their favorite football teams. Connor became a Dolphins fam after a trip to Sea World and Noah likes the Bears for obvious reasons.  All I wanted was a cute photo of them both wearing their sweaters. Here are my attempts:

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Ground beef and broccoli casserole

Got broccoli at bountiful baskets today along with some mushrooms. We had some ground beef so i set to work on dinner. Because i had fresh mushrooms and broccoli, i used them but you could certainly use canned mushrooms and frozen broccoli.

2 pounds ground beef
Onion, chopped
Few crowns of broccoli, chopped
Container of mushrooms, sliced
salt & pepper to taste

8 ounces cheese, shredded - we had that mexican blend, so clearly any type is fine
1/2 cup mayonnaise - i did not claim this was healthy
1/2 cup heavy cream - ditto

Brown the ground beef, onion and mushrooms. Drain and season with salt and pepper. Steam broccoli if fresh, thaw if frozen.  Drain the broccoli and stir in ground beef mixture. In a large enough bowl, place all of the sauce ingredients, microwave about 2 1/2 minutes, or until melted and smooth, stirring every minute. Add to the broccoli mixture and mix well; adjust the seasoning to taste. Bake at 350ยบ 20 minutes until hot and bubbly.  This turned out great. Next time I'll add more broccoli, but I used all I had so it couldn't be helped. Also, I think we'll brown the meat in more seasonings so it has more flavor than just "meat". Maybe one of those onion soup packets to be easy.  Overall though, we loved this. Great flavor and super filling!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Cleaning out the pantry

We've had some difficulty using our Bountiful Basket in the last couple weeks. Halloween, soccer practice, soccer photos, birthdays, chi omega commitments, etc, etc, etc has all taken over our lives and we've ended up having Little Ceasars $5 hot and ready on more than one night. More than one night, a week. 

Today is Veteran's Day and I got to hang out with the boys today - more on that in another post.  It was great to take advantage of a brother-nap to do some cooking today.  I always do pot roast in the crock pot and have never, ever done it in the oven so this was new.  I just didn't have enough time to wait for the crock pot.  Anyway, I had apples, carrots, potatoes and celery to get through so my goal was to use them all for dinner/dessert.

Oven Pot Roast
3-4 lb pork roast, mine was boneless
1 can cream of whatever you have on hand soup
3 potatoes, cubed
3 carrots, chopped
3 stalks of celery, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup water
12 oz soda, whatever you have on hand is fine...i obviously used diet coke because it's amazing
Put roast in baking dish and spread veggies around it.  Sprinkle S&P over meat. Combine soup, soda, and water and pour it over roast and veggies. Bake for 3 hours on 350 and you're done.
You can really use whatever veggies you have on hand but these are my go-to pot roast veggies and just happened to be the ones i had leftover from my baseket.


Baked Apples

6 small apples
2 cups of diet orange, lemon-lime, or similar soda

Core apples and cut in half.  Place apples, skin up in baking dish and pour soda over apples.  Bake for an hour at 350 and wait for the amazing smells.

Your house will smell amazing when you bake this, especially if you use a sweeter apple. I have no idea the exact type of apple I used but I think they may have been baking apples.  I've done this with tart apples as well and they always turn out great.  If you want them mushier, do them for an hour. If you want them more 'sliceable' stick to around 45 minutes.  I used diet sierra mist, but anything like diet orange or diet ginger ale would be great too.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Spicy Spaghetti Squash

1 medium to large spaghetti squash
1 lb ground beef
1 packet taco seasoning
1 red onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 can green chiles
1 can corn, drained
1 can black beans, drained
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 cup cilantro, minced
3 Tbsp lime juice
1/2 Tbsp sea salt

Preheat to 325.  Cut squash in half and scoop out seeds. Place cut sides down on a baking dish and cook for 50 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes.  Use fork and scrape out strands of squash.

Brown the ground beef with taco seasoning and set aside.  Saute onions, green chilis and red pepper in a couple tsp of olive oil for 5 minutes. Add corn, beans, and chili powder and saute for another 3 minutes.  Add salt, lime, cilantro and strands of squash and saute another 3 minutes. Add meat to mixture and combine.

Scoop mixture into squash halves.

omg guys. this was so so yummy. jeffrey ate a TON of it and kept saying how amazing it was. thanks to the taco seasoning, chilis and chili powder there was some great heat so adjust that if you prefer less spice. i thought it was perfect!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

happy birthday bloggity blog blog

I seriously cannot believe that i've been doing this blog for 5 years. 
(full disclosure, i missed my blogs bday by a month. not surprising.)

I started it when Connor was a few months old and now he's in Kindergarten. Bear was negative 3 years old when I started it.

I've posted 575 blogs of self-indulgent, stream of consciousness nonsense.

I appreciate you all reading this and tolerating my bipolar blogging where some weeks I'll post several times and sometimes I'll forget that I have a blog for 6 months. Thanks for that. Sorry for that.

Those of you who have your own blogs thank you so much because it motivates/reminds me to blog.

Nearly Wordless Wednesday - Halloween Edition

Halloween throw-back edition today. The boys have had some cute costumes, until this year. This year we dropped the ball. I blame Disneyland. They will be trick-or-treating in soccer uniforms.

both boys on their first Halloween. Connor, left in 2007 and Noah, right in 2010.

Halloween 2008 - Clark Kent


Halloween 2009 - Baseball Player. This was the first year we let him choose his costume

2010 - Tigger & Handy Manny

2011 - Charlie Brown & Buzz Lightyear

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Diet Coke Break(down)

First World Problem, White Girl Problem, White Whine, etc. 

Call it what you want, but I have a serious workplace grievance.  It's about our vending machine and I'm pretty upset about it.

We have the absolute worst vending machine ever. It pretty much fits in with the rest of the technology, furniture, decor and practices at my office. Outdated at best. Half the time broken, always old and sad. the woman who owns the vending company used to date someone here and that's how she got the gig. (yay nepotism) that person hasn't worked here in 5 years, but whatev she's horrible.

see how everything is a lovely shade of old & putty?
i hate it

Even though employees here want chocolate in the machine, she refuses to stock it because it gets hot outside. Every other time you try and buy something, it gets stuck. When the item does come down, it's expired.

But the real reason for this ridiculous post is this, dear readers:

I mean, come on.

What kind of crap-ass selection is this?  Who drinks regular coke?  No one.  Mountain Dew? Even less people.  And don't even get me started on the Gatorade.  At first there was one Gatorade and I was like, well that's odd, who would buy Gatorade?  Then they took out Dr Pepper and replaced it with another Gatorade and my mind was blown. Blown I tell you.  Who the shit drinks gatorade besides high school boys or someone with the stomach flu?  No one I tell you.

Initially, there was Coke, Diet Coke, Dr Pepper, Purple Gatorade, Diet Pepsi, and water (random...vending machine is literally directly next to the water cooler thingy). Pretty good assortment I think. What went wrong you ask?  Dear reader, I have no idea.  Bit by bit the good stuff was replaced with this crap and now this is the final result. 

I don't think i want to live in a world that doesn't consider Diet Coke a workday staple. It's zero calorie fizzy goodness is just enough to keep me coming here everyday. Clearly, now I have no reason to come into the office.

Why did I just devote 30 precious minutes to publicaly ranting about the vending machine options? I have no idea.