Monday, December 31, 2012

A Look Back...Christmas 2012

Our Dining Room Christmas tree
The Christmas trees have been packed away and a new year is upon us.  But, I have to admit, I'm not  quite ready!  I'm still in Christmas mode.  So, before the year ends, I'm taking a look back!

On Christmas Eve night, the kids got their new pajamas and ornaments.

Clayton playing Angry Birds on his new Kindle Fire HD while wearing his Angry Birds pajamas :)

Santa was here!
The kids were excited to start opening toys.

But...we almost...almost...ended up at the Emergency Room on Christmas morning!

Dave was opening a toy and decided to use his pocket knife instead of scissors.  In the process of cutting the plastic, he accidentally stabbed the knife into his thumb.  I'm sitting on the floor with the kids and suddenly Dave screams.  The toy and the pocket knife go flying across the room (fortunately not hitting anyone).  At first, I didn't realize what happened.  Until, I followed after Dave and started seeing drops of blood leading to the kitchen.  And, the drops were getting bigger and bigger!  Dave was at the sink trying to stop the bleeding.  When he took the pressure off his thumb, the blood gushed up like a geyser.  At that point, we're thinking he needs to go to the ER.  So, I rush upstairs to put on some clothes.  But, I'm all panicked and find myself running around in circles looking for a skirt.  I'm also feeling quite queasy from the sight of the blood.  Luckily, crisis was averted and the bleeding stopped.  Thank God!  

Later, we enjoyed a nice Christmas dinner of Roasted Ham with Dijon-Pineapple sauce, roasted Brussels sprouts and homemade jalapeno coleslaw. 

If you haven't tried the Pioneer Woman's recipe for Roasted Brussels Sprouts with dried cranberries and balsamic reduction, you must!  They are absolutely delicious!  My mouth is watering just thinking about them.  The roasting takes them to a whole 'nother level!

At the end of the evening, we settled down and enjoyed some popcorn courtesy of Reed's popcorn machine.  Yes, he asked for a popcorn maker for Christmas!
Mary Ellen

Friday, December 28, 2012

Wives with Beehives

Last night while flipping through the channels, I came across a special on TLC called "Wives with Beehives". The special will be aired again tonight (12/28) at midnight on TLC (set your DVRs!). If you haven't watched it yet and don't want to be spoiled, you might want to stop reading now :) Based on the title alone, it totally sounded like something I had to watch! The special focused on four ladies living very 1950s lifestyles. Not only in the way they dressed, but their homes and other aspects of their lives. Of course, I loved, loved, loved their dresses, gloves, hats, hair, makeup and cute retro furnishings! I also found myself in agreement with the ladies about the appeal of the 1950s way of life. It was a time of more traditional roles, with men as the providers and women caring for the homes. It may sound strange to some that as a working woman, I would prefer a time when few women worked outside of the home. But, even within my very modern life, our home and mindset is very traditional. My focus is always homeward, hence the tagline, "Celebrating the domestic side of working motherhood".

Of course, it wouldn't be a reality show without some drama! When a new member joined the scene, it brought out some cattiness from one of the other ladies. But, as one of the ladies stated, living the 1950s lifestyle doesn't make you a perfect angel! I enjoyed the show and hope it returns as a series instead of just a one-time special. It would also be great to see not just this group of ladies, but others who live varying degrees of the 50's lifestyle. Or maybe others living in different decades.

ETA:  One of the ladies that appeared on "Wives with Beehives", Dollie DeVille, has written about her experiences filming the show.  And they were not pleasant at all!  It's a shame because I would have enjoyed watching the ladies lives as they are without any drama or fabricated storylines. 

Did you watch the show last night? What were your thoughts? 

 Mary Ellen

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Monday, December 24, 2012

Visit from Grandma-claus!

Yesterday, we were visited by my husband's mother, his siblings and their significant others.  It's always great to see his brothers and sister as they live out-of-state.  And of course, the kids always look forward to visits from Grandma!

Grandma came bearing gifts!
She brought tablets

and toys, much to the delight of the little ones!
The kids even got a chance to meet an actual Major League baseball player!
My gift is in the mail - literally!  It was delayed in all the holiday shipping.  But, I can't wait to get cooking with my new Le Creuset cookware set :)
Since the family came yesterday, today has been quiet and restful.  I've been busy in the kitchen prepping for our Christmas Dinner.  Making Sweet Potato Casserole and Jalapeno Coleslaw to go along with our Dijon-Pineapple Glazed Ham.  Later, we'll take a ride around and look at Christmas lights.  That's when the "elf activity" starts to pick up around our house :)  Every Christmas Eve, an elf stops by to drop off a new pair of pajamas and an ornament for the kids.  A reminder they should get to bed early tonight!
Mary Ellen

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

What I Wore to Work - Christmas Luncheon Old Navy Red Dress

For our recent office Christmas luncheon, I decided to wear my new festive, red Old Navy dress!  While Christmas shopping with my sister, we stopped into Old Navy to find a few things.  Right there in the front of the store, was a rack of dresses marked 50% off!  That of course got my attention! 

Dress - Old Navy
The dress is knee length, with a scoop neck and cap sleeves. 

And, what I love most about it - a nice full skirt!
Mary Ellen
pleated poppy

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Sign of Old Age!

My New Glasses!

 A few weeks back, I caught myself sitting at my desk doing something really strange - I was squinting!  By the time I got home in the evenings, my eyes were just so tired from staring at a computer screen all day, it was difficult to help the kids' with their reading homework.  So, I went in for an eye exam.  And while my vision was 20/20, I learned that I have astigmatism.  The doctor suggested glasses as a way to reduce the strain on eyes while at work.

As I began looking for frames, I was really excited to try on a pair of cat eye glasses.  To my surprise, I didn't really like how the looked on me.  Dave suggested I continue my search for frames at Costco.  I was pleasantly surprised by their selection and the price of the frames were very reasonable.  I found a cute pair of Lucky Brand frames that had just the right amount of retro for my taste!

Mary Ellen       

Friday, December 7, 2012

Out of Photo Storage Space? Try Photobucket!

 What?!?  No pictures!

I've noticed a few bloggers have mentioned running out of photo storage space.  I've reached my limit too!  Although, sometimes the system must experience a hiccup because occasionally, I can still upload photos directly from my PC.  But, mostly I've been posting photos using the image hosting site, Photobucket.

I started using Photobucket back in my Mommy/Baby message board days as a way to share belly progression and baby pics!  Once you've set up your Photobucket account, it's pretty easy to use for posting photos in your blog posts.  First, upload your photo.  Then, copy the url listed in the Direct Link box.  If you click in the Direct Link box, it will automatically copy the url. Or,  you can highlight the entire url and right-click, copy or Ctrl+C (the shortcut to copy).

To insert the image into your blog post, go back to your open post (I usually have Photobucket open in one tab, and Blogger in another).  Click Insert Image, select "From a URL" as the image source, and paste the url from Photobucket into the box.  If the url is correct, the image will appear.  Then, click "Add Selected" to place the image in the post.  Easy peasy lemon squeezy!

Photobucket offers a number of paid storage options to choose from.  However, I have the 2GB FREE storage account.  I currently have 710 images in my library and it's registering as only 4% full.  You can also edit photos in Photobucket and add different effects!

At some point, I will probably have to look into paid storage.  Or delete old pictures.  But, I did want to share this with those who may not be aware of the free image hosting sites out there!

Mary Ellen


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

What I Wore to Work - Express Pink & Gold Dress

Dress - Express (Goodwill)

I'm a little late in sharing, but this is the dress I wore to our office Thanksgiving Luncheon.  Hard to believe the Christmas Luncheon is already coming up this Friday!  I found this Express dress at my fav Goodwill store.   

It's a departure from my usual retro, vintage-inspired wear.  The brilliant pink color and gold details reminded me of the beautiful fabrics used in traditional Indian clothing.  A bit of exotic flare for my wardrobe!

Gold eyelet detail on the skirt

Mary Ellen

Linked at The Pleated Poppy 

pleated poppy

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Biltmore's Christmas Tree Raising


Time lapse video of the Christmas Tree Raising Celebration at Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC


Mary Ellen

Saturday, December 1, 2012

In My Element

FINALLY, the longest work week ever has come to an end!  What is it about the work week after a holiday, that makes it seem like it goes on forever?  I'm finally back in my element, at home, among the dishes and the dust.  Even though the demands of being a working home keeper can be overwhelming at times, I find being at home extremely restorative.  Even though I may mumble about things never staying clean longer than a minute (I'm working on that!), the truth is I enjoy taking care of my home and all that are in.  I find joy in homemaking.  My therapy happens within the walls of my home.  It's where I create, beautify, bring order, nourish, teach, establish harmony, encourage and love.  It's not just pushing a vacuum, loading and unloading a dishwasher and dusting knick knacks.  It's the work of my soul.

Mary Ellen

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Country Living Classic Vintage Table Linens

A random stop into K-Mart turned into an early Christmas present for yours truly!  While browsing with Dave, we came across these Country Living Classic Vintage table linens on clearance!  Dave agreed to buy me a table cloth and the last remaining placemat as an early Christmas gift.  The store only had one matching seat cushion left and none of the coordinating red ticking stripe window valances.  A search of other K-Mart stores for the remaining pieces of this collection turned up zilch.  But, I'm happy to have found this table cloth for such a great price as I've been admiring it for a long time!  And, I may even return to buy an extra one (you know as insurance against the little people and furry kitties!).   

The table cloth has a lovely red rose pattern with a decorative ruffle around the edge.  Please excuse the wrinkles, I didn't bother to iron it in my excitement!

Inspired by the colors in the table cloth, I decided to change dining room's Christmas tree and decorations.  Instead of blue and gold, we're going with warm reds and golds this year and natural elements.  I'll share more of those details later!

Mary Ellen

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Got Thanksgiving Leftovers? Make A Pot Pie!

Homemade Turkey Pot Pie

Need to clear out some Thanksgiving leftovers from your refrigerator?  Then make a pot pie!  

For the crust, I used my favorite pie crust recipe - The Perfect Pie Crust recipe posted at The Pioneer Woman.  The recipe makes two crusts.  So, I made my pot pie with both a top and bottom crust.  Of course, you could just do a top crust for the pot pie and save the other crust for a dessert recipe!

To prepare the filling:
Adapted from this recipe

1 medium onion, diced
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup all purpose flour {or corn starch}
1 3/4 cup chicken broth
2/3 cup milk
black pepper and garlic powder, to season
shredded turkey meat
leftover or frozen vegetables {I used green peas, frozen corn, frozen lima beans and also leftover brown rice}

In a saucepan over medium heat, saute diced onion in butter until tender.  Add flour (or corn starch) and stir.  Slowly stir in chicken broth and milk.  Simmer over medium-low heat until sauce thickens.  Add seasonings to taste.  Remove from heat and set aside.

*If you wish, you can add your veggies to the sauce while it thickens.  Since I was using vegetables that were already cooked or frozen, I did not add them in at this point because the baking time would be sufficient enough to cook them.

To bottom pie crust, add shredded turkey and veggies.  Then, pour the warmed sauce over the meat and vegetables.  Add top pie crust, seal edges and cut slits in top.

Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until crust is golden and the filling is bubbly.


Mary Ellen

Monday, November 26, 2012

Can A Mom Really Put Herself First?

A week ago, I found myself in the ER suffering from abdominal pain that seemed to get worse by the minute.  The tests ran by the ER doctor showed nothing of a life-threatening nature, but the reason for the pain remained unexplained.  As I was on the mend, a common refrain from those around me was to put myself first.  Sensible advice, but one thought crossed my mind - can a Mom ever really put herself first?  Can I put myself first when meeting deadlines are approaching and I'm the one solely responsible for getting the work done?  Can I put myself first when lunches need to be packed, homework needs to be done, teacher conferences need to be attended?  Dinner still needs to be made, floors swept, toilets cleaned and the cat who can't seem to grasp the concept of a litter box still needs to be cleaned up after.  Even when I'm sick, my children still need an attentive mother, my husband still needs a dependable wife and my aging mother sill needs a daughter to juggle her various medical appointments.  So, how is a Mom supposed to put herself first exactly?

*After following up with my primary care physician, an ultrasound revealed the source of the pain to be a particularly troublesome ovarian cyst.  So, thankfully nothing serious!

Mary Ellen

Sunday, November 25, 2012

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas around our house...or maybe an episode of Hoarders!  As one space is cleaned up, another space becomes messy.  Slowly but surely, things are coming around.  So far, we've put up and decorated eight trees.  We'll be putting up a few more today.  This maybe the earliest we've gotten our trees up for Christmas!

Have a wonderful Sunday!
Mary Ellen

Friday, November 23, 2012

Happy Birthday Honey!


Dave celebrating his 1st birthday :)
Happy Birthday to My Beloved!
Mary Ellen

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving!
Our Thanksgiving Meal:
{Brine recipe included}
Crockpot Cornbread Stuffing (A Year of Slow Cooking)
Brown Rice
Buttered Peas & Carrots
Pecan Pie (Pioneer Woman)
{used Perfect Pie Crust recipe for both pies}
Mary Ellen

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Winner Is...Printcopia 8x10 Canvas Print


The winner of the 8x10 Canvas Print from Printcopia is...

Congrats Dean!
I'll be in touch soon regarding your canvas print.
Thank you to all who entered.  And special thanks to Printcopia for sponsoring this wonderful giveaway!
Mary Ellen

Friday, November 16, 2012

Living On A Dime Christmas Sale!

Give the gift of frugality for the Holidays!  Buy a package (3 copies) of the Dining On A Dime Cookbook for only $11 each during the Living On A Dime Christmas Sale!  That's a savings of 50% off the retail price.  Get a copy for yourself and two to give as gifts!  The Dining On A Dime Cookbook is an essential asset in any frugal kitchen with over 1200 recipes and money saving tips.  All individual print books are also 40% off during the sale.

As if these incredible sale prices weren't enough of a reason to check out the Christmas Sale, when you take advantage of Living On A Dime's Christmas Sale today, you'll also get 16 Free Bonus Items Valued at $92.75, including:

* A Delightful Collection of 10 Holiday Recipes e-Books

* A Year of Snacks e-book from Christine Steendahl at

* 8 Easy Gardening Tips for Growing Better Tomatoes e-report from Faylee James at

* Menu Planning For Busy Moms e-course from Mary Ann Kelley at

* 101 Lunchbox Ideas e-book from Emma Henry at

* Practicing Hospitality - Household Entertaining from Kemi Quinn at

* Thrifty Christmas Ideas e-book from Angela Billings at

 This great sale ends Tuesday, November 20th at midnight.  Hurry and get your copies today!


Mary Ellen

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

*Giveaway* FREE 8x10 Canvas Print from Printcopia!


Recently, the fine folks at Printcopia contacted me to review their canvas prints.  This was my first time creating a canvas print.  But, the entire process from start to finish was so easy!

The Printcopia website is very user-friendly and guides you through each step in creating your canvas prints.

First, choose a size for your print and then select your image.

You can upload an image from your PC or pull from Instagram or Facebook.

Next, select a style for the border.

You can also choose your display options - wall or canvas stand.

Finally, choose your finishing options (color, B&W, sepia) and any retouching to the photo.

And with that, you're done!  Simple and easy! 

My print arrived this week and I'm so pleased with the finished product!  Now, I just have to decide whether to show it off at home or at the office!

In addition to canvas prints, the Printcopia sister sites offer car magnets, custom banners and lawn signs


This giveaway is now closed.

And now something for you Dear Readers....A GIVEAWAY!

Just in time for the holidays, Printcopia is offering a FREE 8x10 canvas print to one of my readers!  To enter:

(1) Follow The Working Home Keeper blog -  or become a follower if you're not already!

(2) Leave a comment below with your email address

This giveaway is only open to those in the Continental U.S.  A winner will be selected at random and announced on Tuesday, November 20th.  Good luck!

Disclosure:  I was given a free 8x10 canvas print in order to review the site.  All opinions expressed are mine. 

What I Wore to Work - Purple Old Navy Dress & Vintage Hat

Dress - Old Navy

I'm always looking to add a little color to my closet.  And this purple dress from Old Navy was just the pop of color I was looking for!  It's a comfortable knit dress with a fitted top and flared skirt (giving it that vintage inspired look I love!).  And, it came with a cute, little matching belt.  Wearing this dress I received so many compliments on its style and color.  I'm thinking about going back and getting the orange version.  But, the dress sale is already over :(  Maybe, I can snag another one when they go on clearance! 

Vintage hat - SuzAnna's Antiques

To accompany the dress, I wore my new vintage cocktail hat from SuzAnna's Antiques.  It's a small, black velour hat with rhinestone studs.

***I'm currently hosting a giveaway for a FREE 8x10 canvas print from Printcopia.  Be sure to enter!***

Linked at The Pleated Poppy
pleated poppy

Mary Ellen