Monday, February 27, 2012

Honey Do! (Mudroom)

How many of you have a honey do list? You know. Honey I would love it if you could do this or Honey I would love it if you could do that? Technically in this particular case my plan was to do it all myself but I didn't have the craftsmanship to do what hubby has done so far plus I think he may have gotten tired of hearing me say what I had plans to do but I didn't have time or money to do what I wanted.

If anyone follows me here. You may already know that I've had future plans of someday creating a mudroom in our home because I've always wanted one but we just didn't have the space for it. One day I thought why not create one right where our entryway closet is. All sorts of visions danced in my head.

What once was a junky coat closet. Is now turning into a beautiful vision. Sorry Joe wasn't messing around before I could take an actual before photo he'd already removed most of our stuff. Mostly everything was removed at this point. There was so much more in here including a shelf with tons of hats, gloves, scarves etc.

So far we've taken down the doors and emptied the closet completely. Hubs removed the doors and put up paneling that will be painted eventually by yours truly. He installed this really nice light for cloudy days or night time when we are coming or going.

 The best part is the bench that will also be painted and decored with nice pillows cost us nothing at all it was once a storage trunk that Joe had in the Army. He did a little trimming with his saw and Voila! It was in his parents basement just waiting to become a part of our family can you believe that they were about to throw it out?

Here is stage 2 of the process. Here you can gradually see the art taking place.

He even added decorative trim that gives the new storage space definition. This space will store the girls backpacks and any of our outdoor things like shoes, etc.

Well this is what we have completed so far but before I go. Here is a pic of the space when the new light is lit.

 I just wanted to take you along this journey with us. So fun. I've helped out a little bit using Joe's staple and nail gun here and there but the real work for me hasn't come yet. Stay tuned for updates.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

My Chicken Tortilla Soup

I'd like to share my Chicken Tortilla soup with all of you today. I have to get used to having my camera with me at times like these. The photo was taken with my phone so the quality isn't the best. This soup is really delicious and I usually don't end up with much for leftovers.

What You Will Need

3-4 Chicken Breasts
64oz. Chicken Broth 
Chunky Salsa
15.25oz. Canned Corn
Canned Black Beans
4oz. Green Chiles
Corn Tortillas
Seasoning Salt
*Canola Oil

Clean chicken breasts and season  as you desire with salt, pepper and seasoning salt. Cook breasts several minutes on each side in a pan or. Don't overcook to the point where chicken looks too golden or brown. Remember it will still be cooking in the soup. On the same note don't undercook no one wants to eat raw chicken.

This part is so easy. Pour everything except for the chicken into a stock pot on medium high. Yes you read correctly. Everything. The Chicken Broth, Salsa, Corn, Black Beans and Green Chiles. You be the judge on how much of the Black Beans, Corn and Green Chiles you'd like. After you're done the chicken should be cooled enough to shred or dice. Now you can put the chicken in as well. Once it starts to boil you can turn the soup down to simmer. 

Tortilla Strips
*Warm up a small pan with about 2 tablespoons of desired oil. I use canola. 

I love corn tortillas. This is how I make my strips. I take about four corn tortillas stacked upon one another and I slice them in quarters. Then I slice the quarters into desired sized strips. 

Place strips in the pan and let them cook until crisp. You really have to keep your on these. They cook fast.

Place them on a plate lined with paper towel to absorb excess oil and season with a dash of salt if you desire.

Once everything is done. You know what to do. Bon Appetit.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Nellies Laundry Soap Review

Right around the holidays I purchased a brand new laundry soap since I've been trying to stay away from as many  perfumes and dyes as possible. The reason for my search for the best laundry system for our family is due to Aliya having mild eczema that only shows up every once and awhile. I've tried a few things and I really do like this laundry soap.

The oxygen brightener is really good as well. The whole idea of it is supposed to remind you of OxiClean to brighten your loads.

You only need one tiny scoop of the laundry soap to wash one whole load the suds aren't from sulfates like most soaps meaning it eventually dissolves but it still has enough cleaning power to do the job. I love it that everything is natural. There's no perfumes so you smell nothing but clean.

You don't need fabric softener because the little lavender sticks you see in the small glass jar is all you need, one fits right inside one of their laundry balls and lasts up to two years. Wow is that savings or what? I'm not getting compensated for writing this review but I thought I'd share how I really love the product and I'm pretty much out now and would love it if I could get my hands on more quickly.

Have you gone green in your laundry room? If so what do you use or what have you tried?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

My Special Day

I know that I've already stated how important love is here and how it shouldn't really be a focal point on one reserved day. Yes it should be shown daily to whomever the special ones are in your life.

I never really make huge deals out of birthdays, Christmas or Valentine's when it comes to the commercial aspect. Of course for my birthday I thank God for giving me another birthday. I definitely celebrate Christmas and Easter for the real reason but gifts for me I don't ask for it. I give but I don't ask. Just appreciation is enough for me.

With that being said I still thought that I'd share what I did get for Valentine's Day and in my eyes a little definitely means a whole lot.

Ayanna really wanted to give me something but she wasn't able. I told her that I didn't expect anything. I mean that. Joe gave each one of his favorite girls a single stem rose, pink for them and red for me. The box you see beside them was heart shaped with assorted candies and a balloon which he gave each of us our own. So sweet. I'm a sucker for candy.

Aliya made me a 25 reasons Why I Love You book. She decorated an old journal with glitter and attached her brand new pencil that she received at her last dentist appointment to it. It just so happened to have red hearts on it. Awww.

Here are a few exerpts of what she wrote:

#3 You can make a bag of candy disappear like magic (she knows me)
#7 You're very good with kids (I do my best)
#9 You make me laugh (I think you're the only one who gets the most tickled at me)
#12 You came home to be with us (heartfelt)
#20 You're the best Mommy in the galaxy (all smiles)

Words from the heart mean so much when they are sincere. These are the things that make me happy. Of course we all like some material things but I can cherish something like love for always.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Letter To My Valentine

It's funny how things work out. After high school I had ideas to move to Illinois to go to DeVry Institute of Technology to pursue a career in electronics. My recruiter talked me into Ohio because well he sends all of his recruits to Ohio. I said ok. During that time in my life you were in Germany preparing yourself in the Army just in case they needed you in the Gulf War. I never knew you or anything about you.

Somehow you decided after two years it was time to return home and I'd graduated with an Associates Degree in Applied Sciences and decided to stay here. Somehow we both ended up working a temporary job that became permanent for the both of us at a huge cellular phone company. Remember back when cell phones were as big as bricks? Ha!

You were a friend but that's it nothing more. I never thought that one day my work friend would be my husband, the father of my two children. How did this happen? I remember I asked you out on a friendly date because I'd won two tickets to a comedy show not knowing how you really felt about me, how did I not see the signs? Somehow after that night we were attached to the hip and after 16 years and after all of the trials and tribulations. I'm so happy to have you in my life. Did all of this happen due to coincidence? I think not. Fate is a better word. I believe our lives are already written for us but we have the control of adjusting the script. Thank you for being a great father to our children and a great husband to your wife and not to mention a great friend from the start. Happy Valentine's Day My Love.

Can't wait to share many more with you. My Valentine forever and always.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Fish Tacos

I'd like to apologize ahead of time for not being prepared to share step by step photos of this easy peasy meal. Can you believe that I didn't think to share this until I took my first bite? For your sake I didn't take a pic of that one. It was sooo good. Things were really busy around the house which they normally are. Once three o' clock rolls around and its time for the girls to come home from school one after another my attention goes to dinner prep, chats about school, homework, then I start cleaning, blahhh, blah, blahhh, blah, blah.

Here's where things get a little funny. #1 the only photo I did take was from my Droid phone and #2 Yes my delish meal was taken on a foam plate. On our busier days and nights we eat on foam plates. We haven't had a dishwasher for years {long story} so the less I have to wash the better.

Fish tacos

Yanli Home Easy Fish Taco Recipe:

{What You'll Need}

Salmon Fillets
Corn Tortillas
Seasoning Salt

You can actually use any type of boneless fish that you choose. I used Salmon Fillets found at Walmart. They come frozen in individually wrapped packages. 

After thawed and cleaned. I seasoned them with a little salt, pepper and seasoning salt. That's it nothing fancy. You can let it marinate if you wish but it you have a hungry family to feed lets just keep going.

Warm up a skillet with about 1-2 tablespoons of oil. Nonstick spray is fine as well. I prefer the oil just to rest assure that the fish won't stick to the pan. I cook the fish for several minutes on each side. The fillets should be beautifully golden. Once done put the fish on a plate to cool.

Now use another pan to make your corn tortilla shells or if you prefer you can use pre made shells.

*This step is for cooking your own shells
When pan is warmed place the tortilla in and warm both sides then fold into taco shell shape, cook each side to desired texture. Ayanna usually likes soft ones due to her braces, Aliya likes them crunchy and Joe and I like them medium so this is perfect. We all get what we want and its no hassle.

You can now take a fork and pull the fish fillets apart. It should be very very easy to do. Now do as you would normally when making tacos and top with  lettuce, tomato, cheese and Voila! Dinner is done.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Winter Coats at JC Penney

As you all may know by now that February has brought big changes to JC Penney. I haven't actually gone there since the changes have arrived but I did get my new JC Penney ad in the mail a couple of weeks ago.  It somewhat resembled a beautifully put together catalog. The pages displayed amazing photos not to mention the deals to go with.

I wanted to share with all of you something that my Mom actually shared with me. All of JC Penney's coats are only $20 each and when I asked about every coat in the store my mom said that is was verified by the store manager that all of the stores will be selling all of their coats for $20 until they're gone.

Right before Thanksgiving my parents bought my oldest daughter Ayanna a beautiful Xersion coat for about 30 plus dollars exactly like the one shown in the photo now the same coat is $10 less. This coat comes in various colors.

What's great about this coat is that its thin but it keeps you super warm and if you or your teen is like mine and you don't like the bulk of big coats then this is a must buy before they are all gone. If the weather is already warm where you live go shopping for your $20 coat now and save it for the next time Jack Frost comes to visit. You can't beat that with a bat huh? Until next time.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Top 10 Frugal Valentine's Day Ideas

Boy! Where has the time gone? It's already a few days past February. The next thing you'll know. It will be time for Spring Break and all that goes with it. Pretty blooms, fresh air and birds singing.

Since it is still the month of love, let's talk about it shall we? For years I used to hear people say that St. Valentine's Day was a made up holiday for card companies just to sell more cards. Well doing my research that's far from the truth. Yes the day was really observed for Saint Valentine (which you can research yourself). For your sake I won't teach history class today ;-) and actually they say that the 1st Valentine was made in the 1400's and the 1st one to be printed and sold was created in the 1850's waaaaay before Hallmark. So now that we have that out of the way. Lets talk love and how to express it without breaking the bank since a lot of us are still recovering from Christmas. These are Yanli Home's:


  • One of my favorite things to do is leave little love notes around the house where your love will find them. Tell your love how much they are appreciated.
  • If you always make dinner. Make it special this Valentine's Day. If you normally eat with your entire family. Try feeding them a little earlier and setup a dinner for two with candle light and soft music.
  • Your love may like things that have nothing to do with romance but it may make them smile just because you gave it from your heart. I remember one year when hubby and I were dating all I wanted was a new vacuum for my apartment and I got it. I had a Happy Valentine's Day that year. hehe.
  • Draw your love a bath and when they are all relaxed continue with a nice massage to knead all of their troubles from the day away.
  • Ice Cream Sundae's for two with all the fixins. It will be even better if you make them yourself.
  • One year when the girls were smaller after we put them to bed again here comes the candlelight and soft music. I surprised hubby with chocolate strawberries and Champagne. So romantic.
  • I'm not sure what part of the world you live in but if the weather's nice right now, take advantage of it and go for a nice walk. Totally free and loads of quality time together.
  • Turn on the tunes and dance, dance, dance. Your in total control of the genre.
  • Dedicate a song to your love on the radio.
  • This time of year you can also put a small valentine shout out in your local newspaper.

No one ever said that you have to break the bank to show your love. Besides love should be celebrated each day that you awaken. Valentine's Day just helps us to remember why you fell in love in the first place. If you have kids don't forget about them share your love by making Valentine's together and exchanging them. I've gathered lots of ideas over the years  at the Family Fun website with my kids and they've always loved them.

What Valentine's Day plans do you have for you and the one(s) you love?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

How to Make The Right Amount of Homemade Mac and Cheese

Have you ever been stumped when its time to make lets say mashed potatoes or some sort of pasta? No one really tells you how much to put in the pot in order to make just the right amount of servings for you and your family. What usually happens to some of us is the end results in food for an army instead of a family of lets just say 4.

Looks can be deceiving so I thought I'd give you some scientific pointers. This tutorial is primarily for how to make the right amount of homemade mac and cheese but you'll get the idea with other dishes that you may make. My plan was to make homemade mac and cheese for the family.

 Is it enough or isn't it? In my younger years I would've used more than this but let me show you something. This is actually all of the contents of my elbow macaroni box poured into the dish first to give you a visual. I will be using the contents later for baking after its boiled. It appears to be at least to the 1/4 level of the dish.

Since pasta absorbs water of course its going to expand the pasta to at least double its dried size. After boiling the pasta until al dente. Here's the results. A perfect amount for a family of four. Hope this helps anyone that may need help in this area. I have to finish my side dish now. Let's talk soon.

*If you'd like to see a post on how I make my baked mac and cheese please leave me a comment.

How do you make your mac and cheese? Love to hear.

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