Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Perfect Gift for that Special Someone

I need to back up a few weeks. While everyone is excited and talking about Valentines Day, I'm still stuck on Christmas. Specifically, the gift I gave Mr. T this year...I called it the "Bucket of Fun" and it is what the name says...a bucket filled with fun things for us to do! After 16 years, two kids, a mortgage, a dog, work and everything else, it can be hard to carve time out of the day week month for each other. Mr. T loves to go out...dinner, movies, anything! It's not that easy to coordinate his call schedule with baseball, dance, school activities, and life. By putting this together, dates are planned and paid for...all we have to do is schedule the babysitter.

Here's the breakdown of what was in the bucket:

The Bucket...a refillable movie theatre popcorn bucket. We can take it to the movies and have it filled for $3.50 every time we go.

Movie Tickets...a booklet of $25 in coupons that are good for movie tickets and snacks. This should give us two movie dates.

Bowling Gift Card...I know its hokey, but we like to go bowling. This gift card will pay for our shoes and four games.

Dinner Gift Cards times Two...I included two gift cards to two different restaurants. We can add this with something else or just go out for a nice dinner.

Theatre Tickets I...I am excited about this. It is one of two things that had a specific date. Next weekend we get to see Frost/Nixon. He made sure to ask for the weekend off and the babysitter is already lined up...yay!

Theatre Tickets II...I'm even more excited about this date. In March we have tickets to see Damn Yankees. Friends of ours have tickets for the same night, so it will be a fun double date!

Zip lining...You read that right...Mr. T's favorite thing to do! While he is super excited, my palms are already sweaty!! I bought these from Groupon in the fall and they don't expire until the end of April. A few friends purchased them as well, so it will be a scary but fun group date.

Mr. T was thrilled with this! It was all about him and what he likes to do. When it comes to gifts there is always something we want or need for the house and let's face it, while 7 pallets of sod for your anniversary or new wiring in the living room for Christmas are great...this year it was about him. With a birthday in May, the bucket might need to be refilled then. Something tells me I might have started a new tradition!

Fill a bucket and give it to your loved one...

Rachel :)
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Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Best (Vegetarian) Tacos Ever...

The Smurfs winter break was three weeks this year, so a few days after New Years we packed up and headed for warmer weather...the beach? Florida? California? Nope...Texas! We definitely don't take your run of the mill family vacations...the kids have never been to Disney and we don't go to the beach all that much. My theory is that there are a lot of places I want to see in this great, big world of ours and it's not going to happen if we run to the beach or Orlando every chance we get. Last year for spring break, when all of our friends were packing their swimsuits, we packed our snow bibs and headed out west for a week of skiing and snow...

Our return trip didn't go exactly as planned when our airline overbooked our flight. While most people complain and groan when this happens, we took the bump, and were rewarded with another day in Colorado and eight round trip tickets to ANYWHERE they fly...oh yeah...Mr T. was fretting if we had made the right decision, and I was doing my happy dance. Everyone knows how expensive it is for a family of four to fly.

Fast forward eight months, and we were on our way to San Antonio, excited to catch up with old friends and soak up some wonderful culture. We walked a ton, saw even more, and ate our way through this great city.

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Peas and Thank You

And while I know I will never eat guacamole as good as Boudros, I did come home and find a great recipe for Roasted Chic Pea Tacos. One of the BEST recipes I have ever made, it's a must have for the recipe book. I'm not a huge fan of meat (blah) and generally use black beans on my tacos, so I was super excited to have something new to try. Check these out...they are the best things you will ever put in your mouth!!

Rachel :)

Our favorite way to eat chickpeas and quite possibly the best tacos ever.
Ingredients (8 tacos)
  • 2 t. chili powder
  • 1/4 t. garlic powder
  • 1/4 t. onion powder
  • 1/4 t. dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 t. ground cumin
  • 1 t. sea salt
  • 1 T. lime juice
  • 2 T. water
  • One 14 oz. can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 8 organic taco shells (i.e. Trader Joe’s brand)
  • Taco trimmings: shredded cabbage, tomato, guacamole, non-dairy (i.e. Daiya) or organic cheese, etc.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, combine chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, cumin, salt, lime juice and water.
  • Add chickpeas and marinate for at least 30 minutes.
  • Place chickpeas on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray.
  • Bake for 20-30 minutes, stirring once during cooking, until chickpeas are slightly crispy.
  • Prepare taco shells according to package directions. Fill with chickpeas and desired toppings.
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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The $150 Living Room UpDate


I finished my part in Shan's living room about two months ago. That's right. It took me about a week to prime, paint, sew panels for the windows, and figure a few things out. It's great...completely different...and she loves it. We stayed on a tight budget, only spending money on paint, fabric, and a few other things. No new sofas, chairs, pillows, or flooring. We shopped from her attic and around the house. It's a great feeling when you can get a transformation without breaking the bank. Always a goal of mine. Always.



Here's the breakdown of what was done...

The walls and doors were primed and painted. I used Better Homes and Gardens interior paint in eggshell from paint snobs here! The color is BHG809. She kept the sofas and I switched the pillows with some that were in her sitting room. I kept the original curtain rod, just painted it black and added new, longer panels made from painter drop cloths. The pictures above the sofa remained, as did one of the painted black side tables. Another black table was moved in from the dining room. The lamps (I love them!) were a treasure she found in her moms attic. Originally a terracotta color, they were painted with American Accents Spray Paint in Lagoon (it's made by Rust-Oleum) and lightly glazed with a brown stain. When I took her to the store to look at colors to paint the lamps, Shan looked at me and said, "You know turquoise is my least favorite color, right?!?"...well, guess who won?...just saying...

New lamp shades were purchased (on sale) at Target to complete that side of the room. On the other side I took down the pictures on the wall and moved out the round table and lamp. We found an antique pine side table (with fabulous spindle legs) at a thrift store for $35. It is in awesome condition and fit perfectly! I added a painting of a nest to bring in a little color and built and stained a farmhouse style backing for it to hang on. The lamp came from the dining room, but she didn't need it in there anyway :)

And the bookshelves...oh, the glorious multi colored bookshelves that used to look like this...

got a fresh coat of primer and paint, a few shelves were removed, and the rest were styled a bit with things she already look like this...

There were several things that made this room difficult. There are a lot of doors, and windows, and built-in bookshelves. I tried her furniture in a million...ok, maybe a trillion...different places. In the end, the room was too small to have it any other way. I wanted the sofa to be centered and floating in front of the door to the backyard. When I tried, that put it in the middle of the room, leaving no area for the love seat or anything else. Boo. So everything went back to the walls, while the husbands chair was moved from one side to the other and pulled out just a bit. Speaking of the chair...oh...the chair...did anyone wonder where it went? you go...

This brings me to the reason I haven't written about this room. She still has the red plaid chair, and still doesn't know what to do with it...recover, slip cover, or look for a replacement. This is real life though, and sometimes decisions can't be made in a day, a week, or even a month. Here is the break down of what was spent, and yes...that is another consideration in the chair...

Paint, Primer, and Supplies $40
Drop Cloth Panels $20
Nest Painting and Wood Frame $30
Paint for lamps $3
Lamp Shades $28
Antique Pine Side Table $35

The grand total is $156. That is a lot of bang for the buck!!!

Rachel :)

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Legos and Smiles :)

My little man loves in really LOVES Legos. And while they are a wonderful and educational way to learn and grow, they are everywhere. I step on them, suck them up with the vacuum cleaner, kick them across wood floors, and silently say bad words in the middle of the night when they crunch under my bare feet. After Brainy Smurf's birthday, Christmas, and Hanukkah...I had a minor meltdown because the Legos in his room were out of control. I was never quite sure how to handle the growing amount until I saw this...

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What can I say? I'm a sucker for good advertising. And this was great! It's called a Swoop Bag and it was designed for little ones that love legos. I immediately went to their web site to check them out. About five minutes later I was convinced that this would be the best way to keep all those Legos in one spot. He picked out a bag in Star Dust Blue and a few days later it arrived at our doorstep.

If you have kids, and your kids have Legos...go ahead and buy one. Fabulous. Wonderful. Well-Made. Easy. It is everything it says it is. We now have Legos in one place. And they stay in one place. This bag rocks my socks. Seriously.

But the smiles part of this isn't about the smile this bag brought to my's about the smiles it brings to everyone else's face. A percentage of every sale goes to Operation Smile, a nonprofit organization that gives smiles to children born with birth defects. This is such an important charity to my family that this year Brainy Smurf didn't get Legos from his grandparents. Instead, he got this...

Sometimes, life is all about legos and smiles...

Rachel :)
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Friday, January 6, 2012

Every Southern Woman Needs Something Monogrammed...

A few months ago I introduced you to my friend know, the one who loves anything monogrammed...and whose living room still isn't finished. Next week week... Anyway, I'm pretty sure she really loves what's going on in there because every time I turn around she's giving me little gifts...or maybe she's just buttering me up for her next project. Whatever! She's pretty awesome in the gift department! So...for Christmas, she gave me my very own wooden monogram. It's slate blue with a cute brown bow on top. I tied it on the fresh wreath I have on the back door. Next time I have you over for afternoon tea, you won't miss it when you walk in...

Like I said...every southern woman needs something monogrammed!

Rachel :)

For more on the door color, click here...
And for more on the numbers, click here...
To order your own wooden monogram, click here...
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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Copy Cat Chic

I've taken a little time (ok...a LOT of time) over the break and have been trying to update/clean/organize Brainy Smurfs room. The twin beds that were bunked at one time, then separated, are now bunked again. I have been searching for two swing arm lights to mount on the wall beside his top bunk and lower bunk to give him a little more lighting when he reads. Here's the inspiration picture...

Restoration Hardware
I love the sconces in this picture from Restoration Hardware. Unfortunately, I don't love the price. Long story short, I found them for a good bit cheaper and let my friend Reichel over at Copy Cat Chic know. Today, she featured this Chic stop by her place to see what I found!

Rachel :) Pin It