Tuesday, June 28, 2011

"Whole Package" Protein Packed Lentil Couscous Salad

Hi-ya friends!Ok, I guess I spoke too soon in my last post about summer officially being here because all the rains were gone....
it POURED today... a full-on winter storm in N. Cali...what's up?  I have 3 new cans of spray paint sitting on my porch feeling neglected!

I don't know if this happens to you, but a lot of times when we get working on a project, we get so involved that we sometimes neglect everything else work through meals, ask the kids to entertain themselves for 12 hours straight, and let the house go to, well, some other place that I don't like that much.  But in the midst of the chaos last week during my huge master bedroom remodel {which by the way I owe you a TON of pictures of, I know- sorry!} I was able to make a super healthy, tasty, home-cooked meal in under 15 minutes!

Whole Package Lentil Couscous Salad

I'm into this "whole package" idea lately...like my "Whole Package Mediterranean Orzo Salad".  I like not having tiny left over containers in the fridge with a half cup of this or quarter cup of that...which, 9 times out of 10 {shhh, please don't tell my husband} sit in there until they are moldy and then I feel less guilty about throwing them out.  Ok, now on to the recipe:


~1 package already cooked lentils from TJs refrigerator section {approx. 2 1/2 cups, cooked}
~1 package already cooked tempeh from TJs refrigerator section {8 oz block}
~1 box of TJs Israeli Couscous near the pasta section {8 oz. dry}
~a bag of TJs arugula {5 ounces}
~a pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
~1 container of prepared pesto from TJs refrigerator section {7 oz.}
~1/4 cup (maybe a tad more?) red wine or raspberry vinegar
~2-3 TBS olive oil {or more!}
~salt and pepper


Cook the couscous according to package.  Drain and add olive oil to it immediately.

Mix pesto with the red wine vinegar and some salt and pepper {and a tad more olive oil if you aren't totally calorie counting}.

Mix all of the other things together and then drizzle with the pesto/vinegar sauce.

Turned out pretty yummy! And honestly, to my surprise, all 3 of my kids requested seconds!  
Side notes: this would taste yummy with crumbled feta cheese...I just didn't have any on hand.  Also, I served mine and my husband's over a bed of more arugula and greens from our garden...and drizzled with a little more vinegar and olive oil. 

Sorry, I only have one picture for you today!  I literally cranked this out in 13 minutes {the couscous takes 12 min. to cook} and since I was feeding my children at 8pm, I didn't want to waste any time taking blog pictures... they had already put up with enough for one day!

Now, pray for no rain tomorrow!  Smile!!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Fourth of July Rag Wreath

Hi and Happy Summer! 

It’s officially summer and has finally stopped raining in N. Cal, Yay!!

I have been sooo wrapped up in my master bedroom remodel, I have been neglecting the {kids, cooking, laundry, bathrooms} rest of the house/decorating for summer.  Then I saw this rag wreath the other day on Twin Dragonfly Designs and haven’t stopped thinking about it since.


I loved coming home every day to my Valentine’s Day Wreath; it made the front door so welcoming.  I figured I could adapt the rag wreath to make one for the 4th of July! 


I felt guilty about starting {yet} another project before finishing all of the other ones I have begun…so before I made this wreath today, I did a primer coat on all my picture frames and mirror. I am trying to finish my photo gallery wall which will sit on the picture ledge atop the board and batten in our family room.

IMG_6832 IMG_6833

And then I allowed myself to take a detour to the fabric store for my 4th of July Wreath!


Materials Needed:

~1 yard of red fabric

~1 yard of white fabric

~3/4 yard of blue fabric

~a foam (or any kind would work) wreath

Easy Peasy Directions:

I ripped the fabric into strips that were 2” wide by 14” long (I could get 3 strips per length of fabric…42” wide fabric)  I ended up using 50 strips of red, 50 strips of white and 39 strips of blue. 

Next I tied the strips onto the wreath in a simple knot.


I did 5 strips of red, then 5 white, then 5 red and so on. 


I alternated the knot placement to make it as full as I could.


And then I scrunched them all together.  And in just an hour I had a festive wreath to welcome guests {and myself}!




It makes me smile every time I come home!

Now I’m off to do a 2nd coat of spray paint on those frames.  Smile!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Been to Costco lately?

Hi Friends!  Long time, no see posts…I know, I KNOW! So sorry.

I have a million excuses for why you haven’t heard from me and could dedicate an entire post to all each of them {the last week of school, graduations, end of year parties, my new smart phone, a 2nd dog to take care of, daily swimming lessons, oh and did I forget to mention, a TON of work spent on my master bedroom!}  But I won’t bore you with all the details…or maybe I will, another day.

But my question for you today is…

Have you been to Costco lately?

Costco used to be my home away from home.  In fact, at one time, I lived within a mile of Costco!  I used to go 3 times a week, just to browse the aisles, taste the samples, and pick up one or two things {this was before I had kids!!} Now that I live 20 minutes from Costco, have 3 kids in tow, and waaaaay less storage space than my last house, I don’t find myself at Costco nearly as much {well that and I live a mile from Trader Joe’s now!  Guess I can’t complain much!}

Anyways, I found myself near Costco the other day {after one of the graduations I mentioned before} and popped in just to see what’s new.  WOW!  Was I a happy girl!!

Oh yeah, that reminds me of why this post came to mind….did you see the newest list of the dirty dozen?  That’s the list of the 12 fruits/veggies that you really should try to buy organic cause they have been found to contain the most pesticide residue.  You can try to memorize the list, print it out, or {my latest addiction} download the app on your smart phone {I did mention I got one of those nifty little phones for my birthday, didn’t I?  It’s a big reason I’ve not been on the computer and blogging this last week or so…}  At any rate, here is the dirty dozen if you don’t feel like clicking on the link:

Buy these organic:

Apples, Celery,  Strawberries, Peaches, Spinach, Nectarines {imported}, Grapes {imported},  Sweet Bell Peppers, Potatoes, Blueberries {domestic}, Lettuce, Kale/Collard Greens.

So back to my shopping trip!  Look at all the organics you can buy at Costco:


Organic Grapes {they had red too}, Organic Blueberries, but unfortunately the strawberries are not organic.  So I use Trader Joe’s Fruit and Veggie wash on those.  Just let –em soak for a minute, agitate and rinse.  I do see organic strawberries at Costco from time to time, so check back often!


Certified Pesticide free tomatoes {not quite organic but good enough for me}.  They also carry other varieties of tomatoes that are pesticide free.


So the pineapple and bananas are not organic, but lucky for me they are on the “Clean 15” list…those are the ones that you really don’t need to worry about containing pesticide residue. {Pineapple is the #3 cleanest and bananas are actually #20, not quite making it on the clean 15 list, but good enough for me.  Not much is getting through that skin!}


Frozen peaches and blueberries, both organic!  Love our smoothies!


I love having these frozen veggies on hand: Organic Corn, Beans, Carrots and Edamame {I only buy corn and soy organic…JUST SAY NO to Monsanto’s GMO “Round-Up” products on your dinner table.}  They are great any night of the week…just steam –em or splurge on the crowd pleaser: cook them for 15 min. on the stovetop over med/low heat with about 2-3 TBS olive oil and sprinkle with coarse sea salt before serving.  YUM!


Organic Milk!!  Say yes to milk without hormones, puss, blood, ok, sorry.  But seriously, milk is a good one to buy organic, or at least hormone free.  At $4.99/gallon, you can’t beat Costco’s price. 


Also in the dairy case, the next best thing to having your own chickens…organic eggs at just $3.25/dozen.  I’ve been buying these eggs for quite a while now.  I think I’ll hold off a little longer on my chicken coop.


Which came first, the chicken or the egg?  Who cares when you can get them both organic at Costco!  Organic chicken thighs {and breasts} are a Costco staple for us.  At $3.99 a pound, you can’t go wrong!


Still at the meat counter, they also have organic ground beef.  Again, their price can’t be beat…just under $4.50/pound.  A couple months ago they had AMAZING organic rib-eyes, but I haven’t seen them in a while…BOO!


No trip to Costco is complete without a paper product stock up.  We also use their paper towels under the same label.  Come on ladies, it’s not too bad on the tush…and saves the Earth, too.  Just think, you aren’t wiping those sensitive areas with chlorine bleach 6 times a day.

Sheeesh, who knew Costco had so many organic products these days?  And by no means is that all!!  It’s just all I happened to buy the other day.  {I’ve seen organic apples, fresh peaches, lots in the dry foods aisles, hormone free cheese, etc.} But I am so excited they are stocking up with more and more organics and also “green” products. As always with Costco, you gotta buy buy buy to make sure they keep the products you love!  So get out there and shop peeps!

By the way, in case you were wondering, my master bedroom is FINALLY done!! Yay!!  My husband and I worked tirelessly day and night and finally got to spend the night in there a couple of days ago.  Ahhhhhhhh.  Nothing like moving back into your own room after sleeping the playroom with the streetlight in your face for a few weeks.  I actually just about reached my breaking point during this project, so you’ll have to forgive the lack of blog updates.  The break from blogging was a much needed one!  But I’ll be here soon to give you all the pics of our new master bedroom! 


Alright, I had to give you a little teaser for my loyal readers who have been so patient with my hiatus.  Smile!!

What foods do you try to buy organic? 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

If You Give a Room New Floors…

Ok, those of you with kids…have you heard of the series of books by Laura Numeroff: If You Give a Pig a Pancake or If You Give a Mouse a Cookie?  Well, that’s what happened around here this weekend!  {If you haven’t heard of the books, basically it’s a comical sequence of events that follow “naturally” from one simple action.} 

So do you remember how we started refinishing the hardwood floors in our master bedroom last week?  The hardwood floors were finished in a matter of 2 days and technically we could have moved our bed and clothes back in last Friday.  However…you might recall, with all the furniture out of the room, I realized it was the perfect time to paint the ceiling if we were ever going to. 


Once I had the paint out, and the closet doors were down for the floor refinishing, it seemed only natural to paint the closet doors.  They were a dingy shade of off-white like everything else in that room and would look so much fresher with a coat of super white paint {Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace, to match the rest of the trim work in the room/house} 


This project turned into kind of a nightmare and had me wishing I’d never started.  {I knew this about 5 minutes in to this 5+ hour project} Turns out they were originally sprayed with oil based paint and the light sanding I gave them didn’t come close to prepping them for a fresh coat of latex semi-gloss.  Three coats and three hundred cuss words sighs of frustration later, they were “finished”.  Not my best work.


I would describe them as looking like 100+ year old doors from a beach house, that have been repainted about 10 times.  Well, at least that’s not the worst look I could have achieved!

Moving right along.  So naturally when you refinish any floor, you must first remove baseboards.  Which of course means you need to put them back…OR replace them if you are ready for a new look…which of course we are! 


My husband installed the same super tall {7 1/2 inch} baseboards that we put in around the rest of the house.  But why stop there?  If you are replacing baseboards, you might as well add some board and batten while you’re at it…easier to do it with the furniture out of the room, you know.

The first time we did board and batten was earlier this year in the family room.  We did traditional board and batten and actually installed the BOARDS behind the battens. {see it here}  However, for the bedroom, we decided to do the faux board and batten we’ve seen all over blog land. To do the faux board and batten, one must first paint the wall white to imitate the white wood panels. {I had to leave the places bare where DH marked off for the strips of wood to go.}


Now when you have a wet white roller, you naturally look around for other things that need to be rolled white…just so you don’t waste a perfectly good new roller.  Of course, that was easy….the insides of both of our closets were overdue for a fresh coat of paint:


So I finally got the white paint put away {after priming a few more boards outside} and started in with the caulk and wood putty.  DH had to snap a pic: {just ignore those shutters in the background…I have no idea what to do with them…see how they were ruined here}


Oh oh OH, I almost forgot to mention….because all of the wood needed to acclimate for 72 hours in the master bedroom, we were in *need* of something to do for a day…so we came out into the family room and finished the picture ledge on the board and batten!



I’ll show you more after pictures of it when I come up to breathe.

After that slight detour, we were back in the master bedroom. 


And here’s what it looks like when we decided to call it a night:


I’m realizing I haven’t even given you an after shot of the new floor, but you get a glimpse from this pic above.  We love it! 

So let me just summarize for those of you following my book analogy:

If you refinish the hardwood floors, you might as well paint the ceiling while the furniture is out of the way.  And speaking of painting, you should also paint the closet doors before putting them back up.  If you paint the closet doors, it’s only natural to paint the inside of the closet too.  With the wet roller from the closet, you can do your primer coat of paint for the faux board and batten.  Since you had to remove all of the baseboards to do the hardwood floor, makes sense to replace them with new ones to bring the house into the 21st century.  When you install new TALL baseboards, they are just shouting out for board and batten to go on top.  And of course, board and batten feels a little lonely without some crown to finish it off {Oh, I haven’t told you about that yet!}

Well, folks, that’s all for today. We’re BEAT! I’d say this hardwood floor project has accidentally officially turned into a

full-blown master bedroom remodel. 

On tap tomorrow: oh just a little a butt-load of painting! 


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Happy First Birthday!

Hi Friends and Family!! 
Today marks the 1 year anniversary of my first ever blog post!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Picture of the Day {bet you’ve never seen THIS!}


Need an explanation?

I am dusting the cobwebs off the ceiling of my master bedroom, getting it ready to be painted.

Wanna see more craziness?


This is my “bedroom”, aka the playroom.  Do you like the window coverings?  My attempt to block the street light from spotlighting us all night.  Sheesh!  My kids think it’s the coolest fort mommy has ever built. 


Here’s the playroom from another angle…you’ll see my headboard/footboard, all the clothes from both of our closets and several dressers:


Someone else snuck in that pic!

I’ve been getting dressed in the living room:


Oh and the living room is also multi-tasking: storing the new oak floor boards as they acclimate and also the baseboards hiding on the left.

Got more time?

Two years ago we replaced {almost} all of the carpet in our house with hardwood floor.  Well, that’s not really true, the whole house already HAD hardwood floor…upon ripping up the old carpet, we discovered that virtually the entire house was covered in solid oak wood planks.  We had to add some new boards to the kitchen and then had the whole thing sanded and stained {you think I have trouble picking paint…you have no idea the pain it caused me picking out a stain that would cover ALL the floors in my house for the next 20 years…oh the pressure!}  I ended up making a custom blend of 4 parts ebony and 1 part mahogany…but that’s yet another post {I know you don’t have time for that story today!} 

At any rate, the entry, hallway, great room, dining room, kitchen and kids’ bedrooms all were refinished at the same time and I couldn’t be happier!  I wouldn’t have picked oak if I were starting from scratch, but I have to admit, I LOVE it and I can’t imagine anything else. 

But as the budget would have it, we didn’t have enough to finish our master bedroom {why is it that we always prioritize the master bedroom dead last??}  Our master bedroom underwent an addition years before I was born moved in and therefore only about 1/4 of the floor had the original hard wood…the rest was just plywood under carpet. 


You can see above where the hardwood stops and the plywood starts.  And there’s my two-timing husband {he works a full time day job and comes home to hours of work on the house after the kids are in bed…the sweet guy}


So we got the floor all ripped up last night and then it dawned on me…if we’re ever gonna paint the ceiling {right now it’s a sad dingy old white beige} right now is the time.  The hardwood floor guys come on Wednesday morning, we have exactly 24 hours left to paint the ceiling or forever stare at yellow every morning for the next 30 years.  Of course, the choice is obvious…there I was at the paint store this morning.  And that brings us back to Doe!


Just prepping the ceiling.  Where do all those spiders hide in the day?  They sure had an extensive highway system mapped out.   Ewwwww!


After bedtime tonight, you’ll find me with my favorite guys: Benny, Purdy and my dear Hubby….And tomorrow morning, bring on the dust!  Smile!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Happy Birthday Cupcakes!

Hi Friends and Happy June 3!
I’ve been meaning to tell you about my favorite kitchen specialty gadget for quite a while and just haven’t gotten around to it.  Well, today is my your lucky day!  I mean, it’s my lucky day too…I’m having a little birthday party for myself and inviting my 8 favorite preschoolers.  {You see, I participate in a preschool homeschool program and today is my day to host the children at our house!}  It will be a role-reversal surprise party since all the kids will be surprised they are about to walk into a party!
Anyways, I figured I’d make our favorite birthday treat: CUPCAKES!