Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Easy Weeknight Supper - Baked Penne

If you've been reading here very long, you have probably realized that although BD and I do a lot of cooking at home, we are not into gourmet cooking. My goals when picking recipes are (1)relatively healthy and (2)convenient (i.e., quick to prep and cook).

This Baked Penne recipe took less than an hour from start to table. You could make this as "homemade" as you want - make your own spaghetti sauce instead of jarred, shred your own mozzarella instead of pre-shredded, etc. Heck, you could even make your own pasta. Make sure you tell me if you do that; I will invite myself over for supper be seriously impressed.

Brown ground beef, onion, and green bell pepper in a skillet. Start the penne cooking before this so it will be done at the same-ish time.

You'll also need a jar of spaghetti sauce, shredded mozzarella cheese, and Philadelphia cooking creme (Italian Cheese & Herb flavor).

Mix the pasta, spaghetti sauce, cheese, and cooking creme into ground beef.

Put everything into an oven-safe casserole dish. Reserve a little of the cheese to top it off.

Pop it into the oven for 20 minutes or so, until the cheese is nice and melty. And enjoy!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sunday Stitches: Vintage

I learned my cross stitch obsession hobby from my mom. I can remember her sitting on the couch working on a project, with her magnifying glass hung around her neck and chewing on her tongue in concentration. I hope one day Poppy Seed has these same memories of me! (Ok...except maybe not the magnifying glass part...I paid a lot of money to have these eyes lasered down to 20/20!) 

As a result, there are several cross stitches at my parents' house that I remember from my childhood. I asked my mom to send me a couple of them for Poppy Seed.

These two hung in the kids' bathroom; my mom can't remember specifically when she made these.

They need to be cleaned and re-stretched but otherwise are in good shape. The colors (moss green/mauve) are a little 70s fabulous but I'm calling it "vintage".

I'm thinking of painting her bathroom a shade of green - not sure light or dark. Her bathroom doubles as a guest bathroom so I don't want it to be overly girlish/babyish.

The little girl one says "Just when I'm ready to start on my ears, that's the time my soap disappears! It jumps from my fingers slithers and slides, down to the end of the tub where it hides!"

The little boy one says "The way they scrub me in the tub, I think there's hardly any doubt! Sometimes they'll rub and rub and rub, until they simply rub me out!"

Mama made this bell pull for my nursery before I was born, and it hung in my room until I moved out for college. I was planning to have the fabric "skirt" on the edge and back replaced with something a little more modern, but BD wants me to leave it as-is.

It needs to be cleaned and pressed and then it will hang in her nursery, just like it hung in mine. Ahhhh...tradition, tradition! (sung in my best Tevye voice.)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Tales of the Tail: When Mama Works from Home

On the days where Kip is home by himself for the majority of the day, I think there are many days were he sleeps all day in one or two spots. However, the days I work from home are a different story...

9:15am, snoozing tucked under the blanket

10:15am, outside enjoying the sunny day

11:15am, ready to come back inside

12:15pm, watching Mama eat lunch

1:15pm, time to go back outside!

2:15pm, afternoon siesta

4:15pm, watching the backyard for intruders squirrels.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Banana Pudding - Simple but Delicious

Lately I've been craving banana pudding. It seems more like a summer dessert -- but maybe it's just our mild winter having an effect on me.

The last time I made Banana Pudding Pie I made the pudding from scratch. This time I took the easy way out and just used a box mix.

I did "doctor" it up a bit - adding a can of sweetened condensed milk and cream cheese to the pudding mix.

One of the tricks to making banana pudding stay fresh longer is to use bananas that are juuuust beginning to ripen. You can also brush the banana slices with diluted lemon juice to prevent them from turning brown so quickly.

I was planning to use my trifle bowl and make several layers of cookie, banana, pudding, cool whip, but I couldn't find the trifle bowl. Of course, 3 minutes after I finished this one, I found it -- in a cabinet I swear I looked in earlier!

I folded half of the cool whip into the pudding mixture and used the other half to top the pudding.

Banana pudding is a "day 2" dessert for me; I like it better the next day when the cookies have softened up just a little.

I used reduced fat/lite versions for all ingredients except the cookies for this recipe.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Week 24 Poppy Seed Update

How far along? Picture taken at 24 weeks, 6 days

Size of baby? Approx. 8.5" long (crown to rump) and weighs 1.5 pounds

Total weight gain/loss? +10

Maternity clothes? Yep. And I'm trying not to look at all the cute non-pregnancy spring clothes that are out. Maternity clothes are just not super cute.

Stretch marks? Not so far...fingers crossed that it stays that way.

Sleep? Some nights are better than others, but pretty good overall.

Best moment this week? We started the baby registry! Also, I thought we had her name narrowed down to our top contender...until BD came home and announced that he still "just isn't sure" about it. ARGH.

Food cravings/aversions? I've been craving Wendy's Frosties -- but I've only had one. I can't tell you the last time I had a Wendy's Frosty before now...probably 10 years ago in college? In fact, when I ordered the Frosty, the cashier asked me "What kind?" and I just stared at her. I had no idea that they now come in chocolate and vanilla! (I got chocolate.)

Gender? Girl! I guess I can stop answering this question each time.

Belly button in or out? Innie, although getting noticeably shallower.

Movement? Yes, lots of movement - especially early in the mornings and late in the evenings. I feel her most when I am still. When I'm up and moving about either she's still or I just can't feel her moving as well. BD has been able to feel her moving as well, which is very fun for both of us.

What I miss? I find it very challenging to keep myself full enough throughout the day without consuming waaay too many calories. So, I guess I just miss eating like a normal person and not thinking about food all the time.

What I'm looking forward to? Her nursery furniture arriving (should be soon!) and painting the nursery. More accurately: supervising BD paint the nursery. We currently have a gazillion paint chips up on the walls but no final decision.

How's Mommy feeling? I've been feeling pretty good lately. I still have full-on morning sickness once or twice a week, but that is so much better than how it was in the beginning that I don't really even feel justified in complaining about it. (Believe me...I still *do* complain about it!) I feel a little overwhelmed at all the things that I feel like still need to be done -- especially if I stop and realize that I am 6+ months pregnant at this point.

How's Daddy feeling? Anxious to get her nest built in the nursery.

Milestones? According to my pregnancy books, she can now tell if she's upside down or right side up, and her lungs are developing rapidly.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Tales of the Tail: Doggie Jail

Kip likes to lay on the balcony upstairs and keep his eye on us.

We joke that it looks like he's in some kind of doggie jail. But before you put a call in to PETA, rest assured that he has the run of the house, as always.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Belated Valentine's Cupcakes

I'm not sure who's more excited about my Pinterest addiction - me or my co-workers who benefit from all the yummy baking ideas I find.

I used this recipe and modified it like the idea on Pinterest -using brownies on bottom, strawberry cake in the middle, and vanilla frosting on top.

I guess this is really a 'Neapolitan' flavored cupcake, but because of the colors I thought it was cute for V-Day. Plus, it was delicious!

This could be modified to use any flavor combination that sounds good or to fit a party theme or whatever.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sunday Stitches: The Turkey's Done

The Thanksgiving piece is finally done! I think it turned out pretty cute, and now I just need to find time to get it to the framer's.

This is a Bent Creek design, stitched on 32ct natural light linen with a mix of hand-dyed threads and DMC floss.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Shelved and Shuttered

BD's dad was here visiting us this week to celebrate his birthday by attending the Carolina/Dook basketball game at the Smith Center (which Carolina lost by 1 point at the buzzer in a heartbreaker). As usual, while he was here, I put him to work doing things around the house.

I just can't figure out why he doesn't visit us more often.

They built shelves in the garage so that BD could get his stuff organized and off the floor.

Now both vehicles can be parked in the garage!

In other house news, the week before last our plantation shutters were installed. After getting several quotes back in December, we ordered these from a local company.

We had them installed in the dining room,

the guest room,

and the bonus room (which we're currently using for storage).

YAY for window treatments! Now we just have approximately 500 other windows to cover. At the rate we're going, we should have all the windows done sometime around the year 2025.