Friday, July 29, 2011

NASCAR Prayer Gets Autotuned

Boogity, Boogity, Boogity AMEN!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Nature As Art

A trash to treasure nightstand, yard sale picture frame and one of my Momma's old candlestick holders used to showcase a bit of nature the boys found in the backyard.

Using natural elements is an inexpensive way to bring simple beauty and interest into your home. 

Mary Ellen

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

What I Wore to Work - True Blue

Dress - Kimchi Blue (Goodwill)

As I was browsing the racks of my local Goodwill, this dress jumped out at me.  The blue color was just electrifying!  The dress itself was a bit wrinkled.  But I knew it was nothing a warm iron couldn't fix.  I count indulging in bright colors, whether in dress or decor, as one of my simple pleasures.  So it was a given this dress was going home with me! 

I wasn't familiar with the dress' brand, so I did some searching on-line.  I found a listing for this very dress and learned the Kimchi Blue brand is sold at Urban Outfitters.  The site listed the retail price of this dress at $68.  I paid $4.59 at Goodwill!

Pleating across the bodice

The color goes well with my favorite yellow apron!

Mary Ellen

pleated poppy

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Quick Meals for Working Moms - Chicken au Champagne

Chicken au Champagne from Mireille Guiliano's
French Women Don't Get Fat

You may think this recipe would require you to be in the kitchen all day or need the culinary skills of Julia Child, but think again!  This dish is perfect for a workday evening.  With just 30 - 45 minutes of cooking time, you're done!  And the heavenly aroma emanating from the kitchen will not go unnoticed by your hubby.  Mine sure noticed!  As suggested in the recipe, I served the chicken over organic brown rice with sauteed mushrooms.  Bon Appetit!

Mary Ellen  

Monday, July 25, 2011

Garden - Summer 2011

A few zucchini and a small green pepper from my garden.  They were some grape tomatoes in the basket, but someone (my Momma!) ate them!  I used some of the zucchini for this delicious Zucchini Bread recipe from Simply Scratch.

This Summer's garden has been better than last year's.  Which gives me hope that I'm inching ever so closer to my goal of elevating my gardening from hobby status to something that has real added value to the family - but still enjoyable at the same time.  I'm the type of person that likes to do something right the first time.  But gardening is surely breaking me of that thinking!  I've dealt with zucchini shriveling on the plant before they even mature (pollination issue).  And blossom end rot with my roma tomatoes (watering issue).  But as Dave reminds me, it is all a part of the learning process.  And a part of the growing process for me.   

Mary Ellen

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Great Recovery Starts With You!

Join the movement to recover the economy one family at a time.  Watch Dave Ramsey's message here.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Sugar Sack Pillow Case

This vintage U and I Sugar sack was in a box among some old fabric Dave picked up after responding to a Craigslist free posting.  Going through the box of fabric, I was drawn to this cloth sack.  But was unsure what to do with it for the longest.  Initially I thought about framing it for the kitchen.  I ended up doing something much easier!  I took a small throw pillow we had lying around the house and stuffed it in the sack.  I didn't even bother with sewing the open end of the sack closed.  Easy!  

Mary Ellen

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

What I Wore to Work - Lady In Red

Dress - Wet Seal (Goodwill)

If you haven't noticed, I do practically all my shopping for work clothes at Goodwill.  Why pay retail when you don't have to?  Shopping at Goodwill helps to keep our clothing budget low.  Which means we can devote more of our income to other areas like savings, investments, making extra principal payments on our mortgage.  All the little savings do add up!  Now I know not all Goodwill/thrift stores are alike.  Some are smelly, have dated and worn looking clothes.  Avoid those!  It may take some time, but search out the stores that are relatively clean (I say relatively because I've seen some monster dust bunnies in the dressing rooms of my favorite Goodwills!), have more up-to-date styles and receive more name brand clothing.  

One of my latest Goodwill finds, this RED Wet Seal dress!  Comfortable, with a lovely fit.  I just adore the sweetheart neckline. 

Mary Ellen

Linked at The Pleated Poppy

pleated poppy

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Quick Meals for Working Moms - Fish Tacos with Fresh Salsa (Semi-Homemade)

Semi-homemade Fish Tacos

The original from scratch recipe can be found here courtesy of Food Network.  But to save time after work, I went the "semi-homemade" route for these fish tacos.  I don't cook from boxes often, but I'll make an exception for the Trader Joe's battered fish nuggets.  They're good!  Made from Alaska Pollock, they cook up nice and crispy in the oven in about 15 minutes. 

For the salsa, dice two tomatillos and two red tomatoes (I used roma tomatoes from our garden).  Combine with 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup diced red onion.  Add one minced jalapeno (seeds removed), chopped cilantro and the juice of one small lime.  Serve fish nuggets with salsa on tortillas along with additional toppings of your choosing.

Mary Ellen

Monday, July 18, 2011

This Bud's For You

Has this ever happened to you?  So you're out yard saling on a Saturday morning and you pull up to a house to find the seller is someone from your past!  That happened to Dave this weekend while we were out making the yard sale rounds.  We pulled up to the house and there was this big, burly gentleman in the driveway.  When he turned around, it was none other than Dave's old high school football coach!  Dave and the coach reminisced about high school days and caught up.  The coach and his wife were in the process of moving to a new house closer to his current school.  Hence the yard sale.  He told us to look around and if there was anything we wanted, we could have it.  My sights honed in on this old wooden Anheuser Busch beer crate.  The coach's wife wasn't sure if he would part with it since it had been with him since his college days.  But he gladly sent it on to a new home.  The crate is now sitting in front of our fireplace with a basket of conch shells and a pot of rosemary from our container garden.  I'm sure quite different from the coach's old college days! 

Mary Ellen

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The NC Zoo, Broken Tail Lights & My First Visit to Hobby Lobby!

Clayton with his sleepy mask - he loves it!

On the 4th, we headed out early towards Asheboro for a visit to the North Carolina Zoo.

On the way, Dave noticed one of our tail lights was flapping in the wind.  Since we didn't have extra duct tape in the van, we stopped at the nearest gas station.  They didn't carry duct tape, but one of the girls behind the counter was kind enough to let us borrow her own personal roll.  It was camo!  More on the tail light below!

With the tail light fixed, we made our way to the zoo and arrived just as the gates opened.  We started in the North American section of the zoo and made our way to see the animals.  Like this cougar, who seemed a bit depressed.  Poor kitty!

"Choot em' Lizbeth, choot em!"
Swamp People reference :)

Playful seals

Lazy polar bear

Watching the seals chase one another

The Boys. 
We get asked a lot if they are twins.  Twins in trouble making, yes.  Actual twins, no!

A stop at the garden-themed playground

I have a picture from 4 years ago of a 4 year-old Ashleigh, 2 year-old Clayton and me pregnant with Reed in this very squash!


And more playing!

Even though we arrived at the zoo fairly early in the morning, it was already quite warm.  The misting stations along the trail were a welcome sight!

The power generated by peddling, turned this colorful windmill.

With all the walking, I was so relieved to see this sign!

Ashleigh viewing bison

The geyser

We didn't see lions or tigers, but we did see bears!

Entering the desert

These turtles were munching on a pretty delicious looking salad!  Mixed greens, chopped apples, carrots, mango - not sure about the white stuff.  Maybe it was feta!

The cutest part of the desert were these baby ocelots born in April.  One of the babes came right up to the glass and did what babies do best - poop!

Gigantic beehive

Ashleigh riding a gigantic bee

A gorilla in deep thought



After we walked around the African exhibits, we hopped on the zoo tram and headed back towards the entrance.

We saw a number of thrift stores on the way to the zoo, so we decided to stop by a few before leaving town.  The only one open on the holiday was Goodwill.  Surprisingly, the Goodwill in Asheboro has higher prices than the Goodwill in Raleigh.  After thrift store browsing we grabbed lunch at the Golden Corral next door where we had two of the sweetest, most attentive servers ever! 

As we're driving out of Asheboro, we pass by a Hobby Lobby.  Of course I scream with delight!  I've seen the awesome stuff from Hobby Lobby on other blogs, but have never visited one.  We don't have them in Raleigh for some strange reason.  Dave drops me off to take a quick look inside while he and the kids wait  in the car.  Oh, it was everything I had imagined!  It was like a Michael's, Home Goods and Jo-Ann's rolled into one - but better!  Seriously, I loved everything in the store.  I walked aisle after aisle taking it all in.  I found a cute French sign for the bathroom that was on sale.  I left the store feeling in awe and arrived at the car to find a crabby looking Dave.  According to Dave, I was in the store for an hour!  I'm not sure it was really an hour, but he says it was.  If it was really an hour, wouldn't they have come inside looking for me?  What if I had fainted or something! 

The tail light continued...Later in the day after we were home, Dave made a quick run to the store for some paint brushes.  As he was coming out of the store, he saw a bunch of kids (teenagers) standing behind the van.  When they saw him walking towards the van, they ran off.  When Dave got to the van, he found the broken tail light cover missing, camo duct tape and all.  What is going on with the youth of today?!?  Who takes a broken tail light cover?!?  Really!  

Anywho, that was our 4th.  Hope yours was enjoyable!  

Mary Ellen

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

What I Wore to Work - My "Uniform"

Forever 21 shirt dress - Goodwill
Shoes - Target (clearance)

I don't really have a work uniform, but this navy blue Forever 21 shirt dress reminds me of a uniform!  Simply put, this is probably my favorite dress.  It's stretchy and unbelievably comfortable.  And very versatile.  I can easily wear this around the house while cleaning (and it looks great with my aprons too!)  Or out shopping for groceries.  But it also looks great in the office.  If I could, I would wear this dress everyday :)   

Close up of the bodice - point collar, button down front with cargo chest pockets

Mary Ellen

Monday, July 11, 2011

Summertime Blues

With the change of the season, I wanted to "cool down" our family room by moving away from the red and black colors in the room.  While browsing a new to us thrift store in town, we found a set of beautiful blue paisley throw pillows.  And because they were yellow tag items, they were 75% off!  We walked away with two gorgeous pillows in great condition for only $3! 

Also while out, we stopped at one of our favorite Goodwill locations in town.  And right there in the household section were two blue rose throw pillows that seemed made to go with the paisley pillows we picked up earlier.  The rose pillows from Goodwill were $1.29 each.   

To bring in more blue, I placed this Pier 1 bird plate on the side table next to the sofa.  I found this plate (along with a matching red one) at a yard sale a few weeks back for $2. 

Mary Ellen

These thrifty finds are linked at Southern Hospitality - Today's Thrifty Treasures.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A Quick Hello!

Hope everyone had a wonderful 4th of July! 

Ours was enjoyable and HOT!  Our AC has been going in and out since last Friday.  And unfortunately for us, the needed part won't be in for another two weeks - ugh! 

We hit the road on the 4th and headed down to Asheboro for a day at the zoo.  I'll share pics and tell you about our day when I get things caught up at the office.  The day included my first ever visit to a Hobby Lobby!   I'm still puzzled why we don't have them here in Raleigh. 

Stay cool y'all!

Mary Ellen