Weekend with my Sweetheart

Sunday, September 21, 2014

I can never get enough of Marc. It could be because I have a huge crush on him or it could be because he's an attorney who works close to a bajillion hours a week. Either way I was so very excited to take a little road trip with him up to Tahoe this weekend.
 The weather was perfect for travel with the top down. I usually want the top up because of how crazy my hair gets but it was worth it!

On Friday morning we found a little trail along the river where we could walk and talk about some of our goals for the new school year. It's time for recommitting to family scripture study at the Fosse home. We talked about finding a "spoonful of sugar" to make it easier in the morning and decided that chocolate chip pancakes might do the trick. It was beautiful if a bit hazy from the large King fire.

While we were walking I noticed all of this fabulous bright green moss on the ground. This moss was just begging to be used in home decorating so I had to jog back to the car to get a little bag to collect it in. Marc was like, "sure babe. do that."
Then we went and wandered around cute little downtown Truckee.
Where we got lunch at Morgan's Lobster shack. I had the lobster mac and cheese. Seriously. It was so good.
The next day we decided to try a trail ride. Neither of us have been on a horse in years. I think I was a girl scout the last time that happened. Here is my horse for an hour, Milo.
Marc was a natural. Milo and I kept falling behind.
Which was fine! I am totally fine with being on a slow horse. 

The weekend was short and lovely. On the way home we stopped for burgers at Redrum Burgers. My only regret is that I was too full to try the fresh blackberry milkshake. Maybe next time.

Do You Have to Make Dinner Again? Try This!

Friday, September 19, 2014

really good slow cooker chicken tortilla soup
I think that most people will agree with me when I say that cooking dinner is overrated. And that it should be simplified.  Like maybe with cold cereal.

But my family's taste buds are elevated and they just don't go for that. For example, when Jonathan was about five and I offered to take him to McDonald's for lunch his response was an emphatic sigh and a request to, "just go to Wegman's and get some cheese."

And when we go to family reunions my cousin-in-law, who is a chef, brings his sous-vide and foie gras. I'm not saying that we don't eat all kinds of low end food like donuts and Slurpees, but when it's time for dinner they all expect me to, like, cook. They hate frozen dinners, and chicken casserole, or box noodle kind of things, and really anything that might be fast and easy for me.

It's possible I am exaggerating but it's how I feel, okay?  And maybe it's a little my fault because usually I like to cook good meals but right now I don't feel like it and that should be my prerogative

So you can see that while I am fed up with the whole dinner making nonsense, it just keeps happening. Like Groundhog Day. I know you feel me. In response I have been doing a lot of slow cooker cooking this week in an effort to get something together for dinner early in the day before I start feeling really stubborn.

I've tried several so so recipes, but a couple days ago I finally hit on a keeper (yeah, I get it, I'm picky too) so I thought I'd share.

It's for a chicken tortilla soup and I adapted it from the one on Skinny Mom Blog. The main difference is that I can't use a packet of taco seasoning because one, gross, and two, Marc is allergic to msg. Instead I use a mix of spices to get that Mexican flavor.
these are great for seasoning taco meat too.
    Here's the recipe:

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (Just put them in frozen)
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 16 oz can  black beans, drained + rinsed
  • 16 oz can kidney beans, drained + rinsed
  • 8 oz can tomato paste
  • 10 oz package of white corn, frozen
  • 2 — 10 oz  diced tomatoes with chilies
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1/2 Tbsp coriander
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 2 tsp dried cilantro leaves
  • (really I don't measure any of the spices. I just put in a lot because it cooks so long in the slow cooker that you lose flavor if you only put in a little)
  • 4 Cups of water 
  • 4 Herb Ox Chicken Bouillon cubes (or 32 oz. chicken broth) I like these cubes though.
  •  Herb Ox Chicken Bouillon Cubes (25 count)
  • I topped ours with:
  • light sour cream
  • lime wedge squeezed over it
  • crushed tortilla chips
  • chopped avocado
  • chopped  cilantro
  1. Place chicken on the bottom of the slow cooker. Add remaining ingredients.
  2. Cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours.
  3. Remove chicken breasts and shred with a fork, return to slow cooker and mix well.
    this is how mine looked
  4. Spoon soup into bowls and top with crumbled tortilla chips. 
  5. Add optional toppings, especially the lime. Okay, especially all of them.

This was really good! Jonathan ate three bowls. 

Viola! Kitchen Face Lift

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

I had this idea that I would first blog about all of the steps in updating our kitchen, and then do a post with the final reveal, but it ended up being really hard to find pictures that show what I did but don't show how the kitchen looks now. So I'm going to show how it ended up, and then post about how we did things in little tutorial type posts later. Sound good? Cool! I'm super happy with how it all came together. And we did it without any big monetary layout, mostly just a TON of painting. I love painting...

Do you remember the big, bad before? With grosstastic laminate flooring, severely outdated cabinets with yucky hardware, wallpaper from the 80's, and tile counter tops with dark brown grout? Here's a reminder:

 Let's pause a moment to take it all in.

We decided to go for a fun, bright look since we needed to get maximum happy from minimum changes. Of course the largest change, besides the floor, are the cabinets.
 We painted the bottoms with Annie Sloan Chalk paint custom mixed by us and the tops with a mix of ASCP 1/2 old white and 1/2 white. Here's a beauty shot of the new hardware and hinges.
Oops. My floor is dirty. I can't believe I took a photo the one time when I have a dirty floor. Oh well.
One of the best things we did was take off a couple of upper cabinet doors to display my teacup collection.

I'm seriously lacking in before pictures, mainly because the kitchen was so bad I never took pictures in there. Here is the eat in area, it's cleared out to be painted but you can feel the log cabin vibe, right?
Marc sprayed the bottom half of the walls white and the top half grey. He is a superior husband.
We updated with light fixtures with new ones from Home Depot.

I probably wouldn't put sconces there myself, but we had to replace the medieval dungeon style ones that were living there with something.
 There's a little desk type area right behind the swinging door that had a bulletin board already installed.
Oh! Can you see that little blue flower on the tile there? Those were scattered all over the back splash and I had to scrape them off with a razor blade. Looks like I missed one. Good times.

And we hung this little guy from IKEA over the stove. I really wanted a small pot rack, but our ceiling is too low. I do like this though.
And that is about it.
We should conclude with this little gem that demonstrates that no matter how hard you try to get everything ready to photograph, if you have a teenage boy at home you may still end up with your mugs arranged to spell something interesting. But at least they look cute!

Ten Books That Have Influenced Me

Monday, September 15, 2014

Last week my cousin, Lori, tagged me on facebook in a post with this caption,
 List 10 books that have influenced or stayed with you. The rules: "Don't overthink it; they don't need to be literary masterpieces, just books that have influenced you in some way. Tag friends, have them list their 10 books and also tag you so you can see their picks."
 Since reading is for sure my thang I decided to put my list here where the possibility exists that everybody in the entire world can see and really appreciate it for the masterpiece that my list is. Masterpiece! Also, I'm putting links to the books on Amazon but lest you worry that I make money from them, rest easy, I blog for free. Unless you want to pay me. Then let's talk.

We pretty much have books stashed everywhere at our house, it makes me feel happy to be surrounded by old friends. Okay, here goes.

1. The Chronicles of Narnia, specifically The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe  Oh, how I loved this book! Words can't really describe, but when I was in grade school it was like religion to me.
2. The Book of Mormon I hesitated to put this one on the list because I read it in a completely different way than the others since it's scripture and not fiction, but if I'm talking about what influenced me...it's kind of an understatement.

3. A Little Princess The idea that who you really are is manifest by how you behave when life sucks, it's stuck with me.
4. Gone with the Wind I read this in high school and it was the first classic novel I read just because I wanted to. Liking it changed the way I felt about the cannon, not as something my teachers made me read, but as books I was excited to read because they were likely to be awesome!
5. Little Women I know I'm not the only one who wanted to be as good as those girls. I'm hiding Anne of Green Gables in here too.
6. The Joy Luck Club It's not my favorite Amy Tan novel anymore, but it was the first grown up lady fiction I ever read and it sent me careening down that path where I've spent countless happy nights up reading when I should have been sleeping.

7. The Samurai's Garden I've read this so many times that it hardly counts as reading anymore. Love.
8. The Hiding Place Re-reading this is like pushing my own re-set button.
9. The Time Travelers Wife I've mentioned this book before. It is about love and romance between a husband and wife that endures crazy, impossible adversity. 
10. The Harry Potter series. Whatever. It was so fun reading those with Marc and Maddie.

Looking over this list I'm noticing how many of the books I read before I was thirty. I wonder if I've just become a lot less malleable in my old age.

So now, I tag YOU! If you can't share ten, at least give me one recommendation. I'm always looking for a good book and you're much more reliable than the New York Times.

The Perfectly (Ha!) Painted Kitchen Floor

Thursday, September 11, 2014

About a million years ago I blogged here about how I wanted to paint my kitchen floor on account of it being covered with nasty linoleum with nothing of redeeming value underneath. I had excellent intentions friends, but they were hijacked by Maddie's wedding along with all of my money. More on that another day.

But after the fabulous wedding in question we did begin our multi-stepped kitchen face lift. It had to be a face lift because a remodel was out of the budget. I think a true remodel will be possible in a couple of years, but in the meantime, I needed relief from this:

  I actually pulled this photo from the internet (thank you zillow) because I, of course, forgot to take a real "before" photo.

But let's just all agree that it is a bizarre world where the internet has pictures of the interior of my house that I did not put there and that I cannot take down.

Shortly after we moved in we replaced the fridge, dishwasher and cooktop with black KitchenAid appliances that we had brought with us or found on Craigslist. And here is a photo detailing my plans for the rest of the update.
 Oops, I forgot to put 8.replace fluorescent light fixture.

Because I'm thinking of this face lift as a kind of band aid until we do the whole remodel enchilada, we didn't want to spend very much money on it. I needed to be able to do most of it myself, which to me means PAINT. And the first thing we did was the floor.

Let's take a photo tour of the process shall we?

Umm, umm, that is so beautiful. First, we sanded all the sub-floor, put on a coat of primer, filled in the large gaps and gouges with wood putty and then sanded again. We did a ton of patching but the floors are so old and beat up there was no way we could make it totally smooth. We decided not to worry about it and embraced the "old ranch house" vibe that we have going on here.
We did the same thing in the eat in area and then swept and vacuumed the heck out of it. After that we wiped the whole thing down with tack cloths. 
Then Marc sprayed a final coat of primer.
In here too. Then we did another quick light sand, vacuum and wipe.
Before we took down all the plastic Marc used his sprayer to put on a coat of Sherwin Williams Porch and floor enamel in a creamy white color. Then we started measuring and marking our squares. We measured to find the center of the floor and then worked out from there. 
I used my acrylic quilting square to make sure all the squares were really square. We marked everything with a regular old pencil.
Then we started painting in the first set of grey squares. You can see we changed from normal blue painters tape to this green stuff called Frog Tape.
It is the real deal my friends. Don't paint stripes or squares or whatever without it. There is virtually no bleed through and you get beautiful, crisp lines.
Once those squares were dry we pulled up the tape, re-taped and painted the rest of the grey.
It looked kind of cool just like this. Do you like my fancy painter sweats? I think I work that look.

And here is the finished product.
When the paint had cured for 48 hours during which time I vigilantly freaked out if any kid tried to set foot in there Marc rolled on two coats of Varathane floor finish.
I did a bunch of reading about what to use as a top coat for painted floors and I chose this because all the reviews said it dried clear where other finishes yellowed. It did dry clear and has held up super well so far.

 I am so happy with how it came out! More on steps 2 through 8 of the Fosse kitchen face life to come.
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