Saturday, December 31, 2011

State of the House: 2011 New Year's Resolution Recap

Here it is friends, a recap of my 2011 New Year's resolution. To maintain a cleaner and neater household. I would give myself a C+ on this project. I did not excel by any means. I did reorganize our closet, guest room, and office area. The guest room has since un organized itself. I make more attempts on my days off to at least do some cleaning and organizing, even if its only pick things up.

I thought I was doing pretty awesome until sometime in November when I was at work and had a text convo with the hubs about how messy the house was and how he was going to put all my stuff in a pile. (I was going to include the convo in this post but it had a few too many choice words. From both parties.) Then I came home from work and all my stuff that he thought was not in its proper place was actually in a pile in the middle of the living room. And I was super pissed. For reals. Here is the thing. I am messy. It's just who I am. I like things to be clean and sanitary, hello, I'm a nurse. Caleb does not see the dirt. He sees the junk everywhere. So if the junk is picked up, he thinks things are clean. Magical. For the record, he said he gives me a B on my housewife efforts. At least I passed!

I did make an honest effort this year to step up my game. Here is a line up of my fave products that I discovered or rediscovered in 2011!

From left to right:

1. Swiffer dust and shine: perfect for cleaning the coffee table that we use for all our meals and put our feet on and everything else. It smells fresh and the wood looks so pretty.
2.Ajax dish soap in grapefruit scent: Makes the water all pink and happy and costs like 97 cents. And cleans dishes like a rock star.
3. Baking soda: It's cheap and scrubs things better than any expensive cleaner. And deodorizes. I keep one in the fridge, pour it down the disposal, in the trash can, ect.
4. Method Daily Shower Cleaner: spray this stuff on right after you shower and it stays clean and delightful. And Method makes great natural cleaning products.
5. Dyson Ball Vacuum: we bought this with wedding money and it just makes vacuuming easy and not totally horrible. (Fun fact: I lost the school spelling bee in the 5th grade with the word "vacuum." I was one of the last two standing. This is probably where my hatred for cleaning started.)
6. Plink disposal cleaner: throw one down once a week and your disposal smells like lemon fresh goodness.
7. Method Lil' Bowl Blue toilet cleaner: makes your toilets white and bright and makes your bathroom smell heavenly. Toilet cleaning is def my favorite chore.
8. Clorax wipes: Because cleaning my counters with the same gross sponge just grosses me out. They clean and sanitize everything.
9. Glamorous rubber gloves: because these just make cleaning so much better. I got them in Charleston at a kitchen store, but you can get them at lots of different places.

My absolute favorite cleaning tip of the year: cleaning my flat top stove.

I have a flat top stove. As a messy person, I make a mess when I cook and I don't wipe it up immediately. So food gets dried on, burnt on, stuck on. And is difficult to get up. I don't even know who to give credit to, but I found this tip on the intraweb, and it is magical.

Sprinkle the stove liberally with baking soda. Put a bunch of rags in hot, soapy water, wring them out slightly and then cover the baking soda. Let sit for 10-15 minutes.

Scrub all that nasty grime off! It comes right up. Unless your stove is super dirty like mine and you have to do it a second time. But then it's really all gone! Shiny happy stove top! (Then you should wipe it off with a Clorax wipe or something to get all the residue off, unlike me.)

2011, you were a great year. I tried to keep you clean and tidy. The most important lesson I learned was that as long as things look neat, they don't really need to be that clean. And that with every new organizational project comes a trip to Target. I will remember this in my future cleaning endeavors. Here's to you, State of the House. May you live on.

Previous State of the House posts that may humor or inspire you:

The Closet Clean Out
Office Space
Guest Bedroom
Kitchen Clean Up

Friday, December 30, 2011

Holiday Food Goodness: drinks, cookies, general yum

Ok, I did a fair amount of cooking/baking around the holidays. Not quite as much as last year, since being in Kansas for over a week took out a chunk of December. But I still got some done!

I did three kinds of cookies this year:

1. Peppermint chocolate cookies (aka Thin Mints!) I did these last year and they were delish. I never took any pics of the final product! But I did last year, so check it.

2. Pecan Pie Bars (recipe HERE): Caleb and I both thought these were ok, but they were the favorite of all his coworkers.

3. Cream Cheese Filled Snickerdoodles (recipe HERE): These were our favorite by far. We kept most of them for ourselves.

I also made these yummy little turtles the other day. I went ahead and finished them off today because they were haunting me and my weight loss. So eating them was the only rational thing to do. They are so darn good! And super easy.

I learned to make these from a kid I babysat. Here's what you need:
1. A bag of rolo candy
2. A bag of mini pretzels
3. Pecan halves (I got the small bag from the baking section)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Throw the pecans on a cookie sheet and roast for about 6-7 minutes. While they are roasting, lay out the pretzels on a different cookie sheet. Place an unwrapped rolo candy on each pretzel. Bake in the oven for about 4 minutes or until just melted. Immediately squish a pecan half into each rolo/pretzel combo. Let cool. (If you can!) Give them away so you don't eat them all yourself.

Next up, Cranberry Sangria. We had this on Christmas Eve. Really light and refreshing with all the heavy food.

What you need:
1 bottle white wine (I used a really cheap Chablis Blanc)
25 oz sparkling cranberry juice (I used 3 8 oz cans since my Target didn't have any bottles)
1 apple, chopped or sliced
1/2 cup fresh cranberries
1 sprig rosemary

Mix it all up, let it sit for a hour or so in the fridge, enjoy! Pretty sure this would be good with just the wine and cranberry juice.

(Recipe from HERE This blog has much prettier pictures!)

I also made the Pioneer Woman's Cornbread dressing with sausage and apples for Christmas Eve. It was yummy but time consuming.

And I made Simply Recipes' Cranberry glazed turkey meatballs for our work potluck on Christmas Day. Pretty delicious as well, but I would recommend serving immediately as opposed to reheating the next day.

In the spirit of food and Sandra Lee, here is my Christmas tablescape:

Yes, my wedding photo is in it. It just seemed to look good, ok? I am kind of in love with the plaid tablecloth I got at Target. I saw them on sale for 50% off today, so you should go pick one up!

I love holiday food. Which is why the personal trainer killed me with a walking lunge/arm curl combo today. Thanks, Chris.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas Eve festivities

Do you ever have a day that you think is never going to end? I did. Yesterday. I got floated to the ER to help with overflow and I was wayyyyy out of my element. Around 10:30, I was like wow, this day is never going to end, I'm going to be down here forever, I'll probably get so old that I'll become a patient here and then die down here in the ER because the hospital is so full that they will never find a room for me. How sad. Sometimes I'm a little dramatic. Fortunately, I had the awesome new nurse I'm training to help me. (Thanks Chelsea!) Oh, and the day ended. And I went home and had wine and Chex mix for dinner while watching Boy Meets World with my hubby. Ah, the good life.

Anyway, I wanted to share our Christmas Eve. Because it was wonderfully fun this year. I had to work on Christmas Day, so we celebrated a day early. And it helped that we celebrated with our families a couple weeks ago...I think both Caleb and I had a much easier time with being away from home this year.

We woke up and opened stockings and gifts. Did your mom ever make you take a picture displaying all your gifts? Mine did. I thought the pics were dumb, but now whenever I see them they are hilarious.

I got massively spoiled this year by my honey. Also note my trendy new hairstyle.

Caleb's main gift is missing from this pic. He is getting a gun. (So crazy, I know. Tennessee, what have you done to us?) It is currently being shipped.

We spent the day hanging out, watching Christmas movies, and cooking. Then we went to dinner at Stephanie and Logan's, where they had some ugly Christmas sweaters waiting for us.

Logan was carving the roast and cut his thumb. Right after making a joke about cutting his thumb. Classic.

The food was amazing. I believe the roast is blood free.

Group photo shoot with the Christmas tree.

And we played a few rousing rounds of Settlers of Catan. Probably one of the best ways to spend a Christmas Eve.

One last great photo of Logan with one of his stocking stuffers, straw goggles!

Thanks Slogans, for a super fun Christmas eve! Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be on his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 
(Isaiah 9:6)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas in Kansas City

I made it through work this week! That means two days off before and after Christmas. Except I get to work Christmas Day. Aren't you jealous? Now I'm just waiting for the sweet hubs to get home and thought I would share some highlights from our Christmas trip to the 913. We celebrated a little early since Kiewit was flying us back to KC for par-tays. I mean...meetings.

I had a really great seat on the first plane and a really crappy seat on the second one.

We did a little Crown Center ice skating and general Christmas merriment with Caleb's family. We also enjoyed some Jack Stack. I love you, bbq. And here's something honest: I love to ice skate. Everyone was ready to go and I was like "but I just warmed up!"

We had "Christmas" with both sides of the family, since we will be hanging out here in Tennessee for the actual holiday. The most fun was watching George. We seriously love that guy. Caleb's dad got some KU tickets and gear for Christmas. We force our love of the Jayhawks on everyone around us! Baby June, guess where you are going to college?

My dad got a grill for Christmas. He was super pumped. I also made him grill our Christmas dinner but he didn't seem to mind!

I love my parent's Christmas tree, it always looks exactly the same as I remember it from when I was a kid.

We also babysat for George and June one night. Caleb was a jungle gym and his keys were the best toy ever.

June cried most of the time. So we just snuggled her and kept her out of bed. Oops. Sorry to mess up the sleep training...

We had SUCH a good time with our families! It's always hard to leave. Hopefully someday soon we'll be back for good!

Last sip of Boulevard Wheat in the airport before catching our flight back...

I got an early Christmas present from the hubs...a macro lens. So expect so close up pics soon...

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Kiewit knows how to throw some rockin Christmas parties

Its an extravaganza because it was three (3) parties. That's right. I'm a high roller now. (Oh wait, I'm not.) I bought three (3) separate outfits. They were awesome. ThankyouExpressstore. Did you know that if you ask Express for the coupons in their mailer, they will just give them to you in the store? And then you get a large discount. It's quite nice. I'm never above asking for discounts straight up.

Ok. Party number one. This was my favorite. It was here in Tennessee for just us Tennesseeans. The band was super rockin'. There was even a prom photographer that took some super sexy pics. I left work an hour early for this party. And it was great to spend time with everyone before we all start moving to separate ends of the world.

This dress was my fave too. And my husband maybe smiled normal for half a second. Why are we holding hands like this? No one knows. Also, the things sticking out from my head is a reindeer antler, not some misguided curls.

There was a cocktail party in Kansas City a week later. No pics were taken. I work a cute purple dress. But my tights that claimed to be control top were not very controlling. Moving on.

Corporate Christmas party on Saturday night. I pulled out the big guns for this one. Super shiny top! I love it. Another awesome band played, Liquid Blue. The singers had a choreographed dance for every song and they played for hours. I was super impressed.

I love these girls. Our feet hurt (high price for heels) so we picked a table near the dance floor and did some people watching, learned some new dance moves, and found some dresses that should be on What Not to Wear.
Emily and Christi: Tennessee is not the same without you!

The hub, looking classic.

Elevator ride. Because I could never get him to take a super nice pic with me. Oh the burden I bare. I kind of love this pic actually.

Yeah so that wraps it up. We brought our big camera but sometimes we don't like carrying it around at parties. And we just love our little Iphones. But the moral of the story is, get yourself a nice sparkly top from Express. Thank me later.

And now on to folding laundry and my last of three in a row tomorrow... 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Giving Thanks

So I am finally getting around to my Thanksgiving post...I almost skipped it, but I love Thanksgiving and honestly can't afford to NOT reflect on what I'm thankful for. So here is my list, with a few pics of recent happenings.

1. I am so thankful for my j.o.b. I have worked a whole freaking lot this year and I am so grateful for the opportunity to do that. I love my coworkers and my patients (ok, most of them). Sometimes I hate the hours, the poop, and the crazy people. But I love getting to help people through some of the toughest times in their lives.

B-12 is my favorite shot to give. Because its pink. Duh.
2. I am so so thankful for all the awesome friends we have. We have so many great friends here in Tennessee and actually spread all over the place. We spent Thanksgiving evening with Logan and Stephanie and our favorite nerd game, Settlers of Catan. Logan cooked a killer turkey. It was amazing.

3. Both of our families pretty much rock. So thankful for supportive, loving families! We met up with Caleb's fam in Nashville for Thanksgiving weekend. We shopped till we dropped, people. It was real.

And we saw my sweet cousin, Nicole while we were there. Tessa, Nic, and I got our shop on. L.o.v.e. this pic.

4. My darling husband. He is my favorite person on this earth. I got him a Thanksgiving card since I had to work all day. (Don't worry, he was fine with shooting guns with his buddies all day.)

5.  The little things that make my days, Kathie Lee and Hoda, convos on the way home from work with my momma, laughing at silly tv shows with my hub, going out for lunch with Stephanie,  emails from my Grandma, a good butt kicking at the gym, Michael Buble's Christmas album, Instagram, and a tiny glass of wine at the end of the day.

6. And of course, the amazing fact that God send his Son to die for me. Wonderful, amazing, and the huge truth that gets forgotten in the little happenings of daily life.

That's my list! I would like to share that I am officially a Tennessean as of today. I switched my driver's license over. Caleb is switching his too. Why? So that we can legally buy a gun in the state of Tennessee. Oh Tennessee, what have you done to us?

(Oh, I really heart Instagram. Can you tell?)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Christmas Card photo sesh: my husband is a hater

When we went home in October, my sweet sis in law Audrey took some Christmas card photos for us. Caleb hates having his picture taken and really hates Christmas card pics. But guess what? I don't care. We are doing it. Always. So suck it up, hubs. I always tell him that he can frown for the pics, which is how I get him out there. But I secretly hope he will make a sweet face. He doesn't. Even he can't sabotage these photos though, because Audrey is a genius with a camera.

Friends and family: Caleb will always be grumpy in the Christmas card pic. Some things never change.

I always like feet photos. Because I am a shoe lover.

This face is called: "I don't want to smile but I kind of can't help it."

"Why did I marry a crazy woman?"

"I guess I still like her ok."

"I am so done with this."

"Merry Christmas playas."

So that's it. One of these pictures may be in your mailbox very soon. With a witty remark and a Christmas greeting. Because that's what I'm about.

Check out Audrey's photo goodness at Twiceover Productions. She rocks.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Gettin' down on Friday: crafting nonsense, pink party, and more randomness

I just got done with two days of pulmonary symposium goodness, where I collected lots of free pens and drank like ten Diet Dr. Peppers to attempt to pay attention. I'm gearing up to work all weekend and all week next week, including Thanksgiving. And then participate in the Black Friday madness, because I'm not a hater. I love me some Black Friday.


1. I was making some yummy corn chowder last night and throwing in a bunch of seasoned salt. Which I love. (Seasoned salt, that is.) I looked on the back to see what the ingredients are in seasoned salt and one of the top ones is MSG. What?!? For reals? McDonald's doesn't use this anymore. Chinese restaurants don't even use this anymore! Does all seasoned salt have MSG? Or is it just my cheap Valutime stuff? I am dismayed. And disappointed. And saddened. Not that I'm all hippie about my food, but I do have a few standards for goodness sake!

2. Caleb and I worked out at the gym together last night for the first time since...before we got married? It was magical. Then we came home and ate the MSG soup.

3. I viciously killed a spider in my sleep last night. As evidenced by spider legs all over my side of the bed this morning. Take that, spider.

4. I am the worst crafter ever. We had a Housewives craft night last month and I was like all taking pictures of things. This is how far I got into my craft:

Do you like how I can't even focus the camera? That is literally how far the craft went. It involved cutting twine and hot gluing it to fake gourds. Everyone else's looked adorable. Mine looked awful. It's in a plastic bag somewhere, with all the other fake gourds that are not covered in twine.

5. We had a pink party at work last month in honor of the breast cancer survivors that we work with.
We had lots of pink treats and it was yummy and fun.

Left to right: Megan, me, Lauren, and Lynn (breast cancer survivor extraordinaire!)

The Baconator (Kim Bacon, also a beautiful breast cancer survivor!)

And now friends, I go to the gym with my husband. Because that is what we do now. Maybe we won't eat MSG soup tonight...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Cheesy Italian Chicken Bake

I went to the gym this morning for a personal trainer sesh. Last week, he made me start tracking everything I eat. Ev-er-y-thing.  This is what he said as he looked at the list. "No. No, no, no, no." He got to Tuesday and gave me the list back. "I'm not looking at this anymore." Oh wait, you can't lose weight by eating bacon, cookies, pasta, Diet Dr. Pepper, and wine? Who knew? Maybe it's because I eat things like this. I'm pretty sure this is not a figure friendly food. But it is so, so good.

I got this recipe from one of my college roomies, Mary Grace. We used to have Gilmore Girls get togethers and she made this and I loved it. I've actually made it so many times that I don't even know where the original recipe is or what it is really called. So I picked a name that I thought it might be.

Cheesy Italian Chicken Pasta Bake
Serves 8

1 box rotini or penne pasta (I've been using the Smart Pasta by Ronzoni: purple box=more fiber), cooked and drained
1 lb chicken, cooked and diced or shredded
1 box frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed
1 onion
1 clove garlic
1 can diced Italian-style tomatoes, drained
1 tub chive and onion cream cheese
1/2 bag-1 whole bag shredded mozzarella cheese (based on your love of cheese and your love of your hips)
a little Parmesan cheese
Italian seasoning blend or just some oregano, to taste
Salt and peppa, to taste

1. Heat oven to 350. I like to bake the chicken for about 30 minutes, just put a little olive oil and salt and pepper on them and top with aluminum foil.

2. Go clean something while the chicken is cooking. Or play on Pinterest, which is what I do. After the chicken comes out, chop it or shred it up.

3. Get your multi task on. Boil your water for your pasta. As this is happening, chop and cook up your onion and garlic.

4. As your pasta is cooking, throw everything in a bowl. Your chicken, onion/garlic, spinach (I think I only used half a box because Caleb doesn't love spinach overload), drained tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and cream cheese. As soon as the pasta is done, drain it and throw it in there. Mix everything up. You need the pasta to be nice and hot when you mix everything up so that it will melt your cream cheese and everything will be evenly distributed.

I've looked everywhere for reduced fat chive and onion cream cheese but I'm pretty sure it doesn't exist.

Yum, yum, yum. Taste, re season. Taste again.

5. Throw everything in a 9x13 pan and top with a sprinkle of parm cheese. Or split into two smaller pans and put one in the freezer and bake the other one. This is what I did. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the cheese gets nice a bubble and hot.

It's so good and cheesy and comforting. And there's even veggies in there. A half recipe makes enough for me and Caleb for dinner as well as generous portions for lunch the next day. So eat it up! But don't write it on your food list if you don't want to be judged.

And for your viewing pleasure, a pic that Caleb took of himself. I found this when uploading all the camera pics. He is taken, ladies.