6.26.13 How Does My Garden Grow?

It grows quite well, actually.

Slowly but surely, bit by bit my picket fence garden is taking shape.  I still have a loooong way to go, but I'm feeling happy about how far I've come. :)

This has been a dream of mine for so many years.  I've always wanted to have a picket-fenced garden.  So I'm very excited that I'm actually DOING this now. :)

My long-term goal is to have it look like an English garden - all wild and overgrown looking.  Nowhere near that yet, but that's where we're heading.  Right now I'm just ecstatic that the things I'm planting are still alive!!!  :) 

Thought I'd share a few pics with you.  Then we will have them in a few years to compare to the way it looks then.  Can't wait!

I bought this purple plant at Lowes.  When I got home I realized I had picked one up without the label, so now I have no idea what I planted!  I'm planning to go back by Lowes and look at the tag! Whatever it is, I love it.

Some of my herbs.... and a happy surprise.  The tall white petunia.... that just sprouted up.  Apparently the root was left in the planter from last year and it just popped up.  I LOVE how tall it is!  I'm happy it decided to sprout.

One of my crape myrtles.  Love these bushes devotedly!  I'm a major, major fan of crape myrtles.  I've planted three so far, but plan to have them scattered all over my property.  They are awesome.  Very hardy bushes, drought tolerant, and gorgeous with all of those blooms!  I planted this last summer, and am thrilled that it survived and has bloomed once again this year.  (can you tell I don't have much faith in my gardening skills?)  ;)

Knockout roses.  Another bush that is supposed to be nearly indestructible.  My kind of bush!

 The bike.

Evidence of my hard work  ;)

I can't wait to see what it looks like this time next year! :)

Linked up at http://www.anoregoncottage.com/2013/06/cottage-garden-flowers-tgp

6.25.13 It's Like Saying Goodbye to Dear Friends

I HATE reaching the end of a television series.  Hate it. 

I tend to marathon watch.  I like to start at the very beginning of a series, and then watch it through, all the way to the end.  None of this waiting on a new season to start nonsense.  Don't even have to wait a whole week.  Episode ends, hit 'next' and there you go. 

By the time I'm into the second and third seasons, these people feel like my personal friends.  I know their quirks, their heroic moments and their weaknesses.  So when we get to the end, it's like you're wrenching my very best buddies away from me.

It's quite possible that I need to get a life.

I've reached the end of 'Crossing Jordan' today.  It's a show I had never even heard of a few months ago.  Now, I'm really really mad at the producers and/or the network for ending it without a season 7.  The NERVE.  And if it ended because of low ratings (as is likely), then I'm mad at all of the viewers who DIDN'T watch it when they could!  Ha!

From what I understand, the decision to end it was sudden.  They tried to tie things up in the last episode, but there were a lot of loose ends left.  I think ending things like that should be against the law.  ;)   (yes, tongue-in-cheek)

So now, I'm in a season of mourning.  It's "good-bye" to all of my friends in the Boston morgue.

But, hey, I'm going to continue hanging out in Boston for a while.  I'm making new friends over at Crane, Poole, and Schmidt.  ;)  It's time for a 'Boston Legal' watch-a-thon.

See you all later.  I'm going to go sit on the balcony with Denny and Allen.

6.20.13 - Above Bed Wall Display

When you walk into my bedroom, the wall above the bed is the first thing you see.  I wanted to create a fun display - something that would have more visual impact than a mirror or picture. 

I'd always loved picture frame displays, so I decided to go with that.  I went to the dollar store and bought several frames in different sizes and shapes.  I have eleven frames, so that cost $11.  Removed the glass and backing and sprayed them all with white spray paint.

I spread them out on my bed and rearranged them until I found an arrangement that pleased me.  Starting with the middle frames I nailed them onto the wall, maintaining the correct spaces between them.

The frames alone on the wall looked too flat and one-dimensional, so I looked around my house for things to fill the frames. The initial 'N', a coat hook, an old key, a peacock corsage that I had worn at my son's wedding.  I picked up a couple more things at Hobby Lobby to finish out the look I wanted.

I kept a few of the frames empty so that it didn't look too cluttered.

Here is the final result.  I am very happy with how it turned out. It adds a touch of whimsy to the room which I love.

Some close-ups:

This was a lot of fun to create, and very inexpensive.  I'm working on another corner in my room, and hope to share that with you soon. :)

(Linked up at http://www.livingwellspendingless.com/2013/06/20/thrifty-thursday-week-16/)

6.19.13 An Oldie but Goodie - Rotel Chicken Tortilla Casserole

Tonight I dug waaaaay back into the past and pulled out an old recipe that I used to make all the time.  Don't know why it has been so long since I made it.  It's so very good.

First, boil some chicken.  I used 6 boneless thighs.  You can use any type of chicken that will give you about 2 cups of cooked chicken.

Then you'll need a can of cream of mushroom soup, a can of cream of chicken soup, and a can of Rotel.  I bought the store brand of Rotel - which is called diced tomatoes with green chiles. 

Stir the contents of the three cans all together in a bowl.

Now get a bag of tortilla chips.

Take a handful of chips and crush them with your hands.  Don't crush them to bits, leave some larger pieces.  Dump them into the soup mixture.  Do that four more times. 

Stir it all together.
Shred up your cooked chicken and add it to the mix.

Add salt, pepper and garlic powder.  Stir well.

Spread into a pan that you have sprayed with cooking spray.

Top with tons of grated cheese - whatever kind you like.  I used a cheddar jack mix.

You can cook it in the oven at 350 until the cheese is melted and bubbly, but since it was a bazillion degrees outside, I just stuck it in the microwave.  Cooked on it med/high power for fifteen minutes.

Topped it with a few more crushed chips and a cherry tomato.  And we're ready to dive in!

Served it up with some corn and Ranch Style beans (a local favorite).  So good!  It won't be so long before I make it again!!

Very casual recipe -

2 cups of cooked chicken
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
1 can of cream of chicken soup
1 can of diced tomatoes with green chiles
5 handfuls of crushed tortilla chips
shredded cheese
salt, pepper, garlic powder

Boil chicken until done, then cool.

Stir soups and tomatoes together in a large bowl.  Crush the chips into the mixture.  Shred the cooled chicken, and stir it in as well.  Season to taste. 

Pour into sprayed long pan.  Top with shredded cheese.  Cook in microwave or oven (350) until cheese is completely melted. 

Serve up and ENJOY!

6.18.13 - Daughter's Room Almost Finished

So when big brother moved out of the room, this is what we were left with:

He's not exactly a neat freak. ;)

So we have gone from that - to this:

Quite a difference I think.

We still have a few touches to add here and there.  I still want to do the striped wall.  I'm thinking of painting the back walls on the bookshelf hot pink to make them pop.  She wants the tops of the desk and dresser painted light pink.  And I know I'll be tweaking other things here and there. 

Here are a few other shots from around the room.  I decided not to 'stage' them, to let them have the already-lived in look it's acquiring. :)

A close-up of the rug.  The carpet had stains we couldn't get out - stains from long nights of XBox playing, and Big Red drinking - with the mishaps that go along with that.  ;)

I bought the rug from Overstock.com for a great price.  I bought some double-sided carpet tape from Amazon.com to keep it from scooting around, and the edges from curling up.  So far it is working quite well.  I thought the black chevron added a nice touch that would keep you from drowning in all of the pink and blue. 

Her bed comforter is hot pink, but always looks red in pictures for some reason.  We got it on Ebay.  I didn't add a closer picture of it because I couldn't get it to not look red.

This is her working, crafting, designing, music corner.  Her happy place.  She loves having this corner for all of her projects.  It's one of the main things she requested when she was planning out the room.

The bookshelf that we made-over.

She bought these glittery initials a while back at Hobby Lobby.  The blue wasn't going to show up against the blue paint, so I painted the edges with hot pink paint.

An old towel rack from Goodwill.  Painted in our lovely hot pink.  Will become the home for many beloved stuffed animals.

The mirror that came with the desk/dresser set.  It was yellow, we painted it of course. ;)

The dresser, which was also yellow.  We gave it a quick coat of whitewash.

There was a white wire shelf already hanging in the room, so instead of taking it down, we utilized it for doll and animal display.  Took a couple of boas and wound them around the edge.  Now the entourage doesn't have to be piled up on the bed. :)

The closet door was pretty banged up, so I painted it with chalkboard paint.  Covered up the dings, and makes a fun place for her and her friends to demonstrate their art skills.

Turn off the overhead light, and the lamp makes a cozy glow.

So that's where we are so far.  She's loving her new nest.  And we had such fun designing it!

(We got the paint at Lowe's.  The hot pink is Pantone's 'Cabaret'.  The blue is 'Well Water' by Valspar.)

6.10.13 Fun Birthday Party - Ice Cream Bar

My baby just turned ten.  She plans for her birthday parties for months in advance. :)

Frozen yogurt bars are all the rage these days, and one day while at one I got the idea of doing an ice cream bar for her birthday party.  It turned out very well, and was a lot of fun.

To simplify things I decided to have only vanilla ice cream.  Then went with a variety of toppings.

I found the little ice cream sundae cups at a local party store.  It was less than $2 for a package of 12, and they worked perfectly for the toppings.

Our topping choices were sprinkles, cherries, walnuts, almonds, mini M&Ms, mini chocolate chips, jelly beans, crushed cookies, coconut, sour gummy worms, bananas, strawberries, chocolate and caramel sauces and whipped cream.

I dumped the ice cream into the glass bowls to make a more attractive display.

I was so excited to find these waffle bowls at Aldi:

They may have been around forever, but I'd never seen them before.  So much easier than a waffle cone, and so much more fun than plastic bowls.

Instead of getting a traditional cake to go with the ice cream, she decided on cake pops.  I was trying to figure out a way to display them, besides simply putting them in a jar or vase.  I decided to buy a styrofoam ball, and stick them through that.  I found one at Hobby Lobby that was already cut in half, so that worked perfectly.

I used an ice pick to make the holes first, and then pushed them through.  She was wondering how she was going to have candles to blow out, so I thought I'd just stick those into the ball, too. 

I had thirty cake pops, and I thought those would completely cover the ball.  Surprisingly, I was wrong.  It ended up with quite a bit of the ball still showing.  Next time I do this, I will paint, or otherwise cover, the ball first.  I would have painted this one black or hot pink if I had known it wouldn't be completely covered.

I found the two feathers at Hobby Lobby and thought they would add some oomph to the display. :)

We removed the surrounding cake pops before lighting the candles. :)

It was a fun party, and everyone enjoyed being able to design their own ice cream sundae creation.

It's an idea I may use again sometime!  Especially perfect for summer time parties.