Thursday, July 19, 2012

Leftovers into Lunches

The other night I made Fancy Mac and Cheese from the Pioneer Woman Cookbook for dinner. It was gooey and cheesy and pure deliciousness. And rich, oh was it rich! Rich like...oh nevermind, I'm not clever enough to finish that sentence. I tried to healthy it up a little = turkey bacon, whole wheat macaroni, and less butter. Plus I altered the roux a little, didn't add the eggs, and didn't bake it (just mixed it all together in the sauce).

It made a HUGE amount of mac and cheese. I scaled the recipe back (by about a third) and we still could be eating on it for a week straight.

Fact #1: Around here, we aren't great about eating leftovers (one of the big challenges as a new wife is learning to cook for just the two of us or maybe enough to have leftovers for one day). After our Fancy Mac dinner, we were left with a big ole' bowl of leftovers. I hate hate hate throwing food out, so I always try to eat whatever we have left in our fridge. Which leads to Fact #2: I don't like eating the same thing for lunch every day of any given week. It's boring. Boring like a wanna-be cool kids party. (Look at me with the similes today)

Enter: Ziploc divided lunch containers.

I knew what was going in the big compartment - clearly the Fancy Mac, but that left me two more compartments to fill. I decided on roasted mini carrots and cinnamon apples, both things I knew would reheat fairly well and would be delicious warm. But you could easily do any roasted veggies and pretty much any sort of baked fruit, fruit cobbler, fruit crisp. I was thinking simple and as unprocessed as possible.

To roast veggies, simply lay them in a single layer on a cookie sheet or baking pan of some sort, drizzle some olive oil, throw on salt and pepper and roast in a 400 degree oven. The carrots took about 25 minutes. For my cinnamon apples, I simply sliced up 3 apples, put them in a baking dish, put cinnamon and a dash of nutmeg on them and baked them in the same oven as the carrots. The apples took about the same amount of time, but mine came out a little mushy (think closer to applesauce than baked apples). I was totally fine with this and of course they still taste great! You could follow the recipe for the filling from my Apple Crisp recipe as well. Seriously, so much freedom!

After letting everything bake and come to room temperature, I set up a little assembly line and filled my lunch trays. Carrots in one compartment, apples in another, and Fancy Mac in the big compartment. Now I'll have convenient freezer meals I can grab on my way out the door and I'll know exactly what's in them! There are definitely mornings that I need something that quick, but I hate buying frozen meals with all the sodium and preservatives I know are in them. And, I won't have to eat the same thing for lunch every day of the week! Double win!

Since I didn't mention this anywhere else, I got six lunches out of my leftovers. The original recipe serves 12, since I scaled back ours by a third, we should've had 8 servings out of ours. We each ate a bowl Sunday night, and I got six lunches = 8 servings! Right on the money!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

"Hey, That's My Rawhide!"

This isn't a crafty post or a yummy recipe. Nope, today folks, we are going plain ole' funny story here on the blog! This morning Sparky got to have a play-date with my mom's dog Kiva. The tone for this play-date was set very early in the morning.

Sparky has bounded upstairs. Stairs are so exciting when you don't have them in your own home, and they're such an adventure when you only weight 8.9 pounds! I've chased after him to make sure he doesn't wreak any havoc.

Meanwhile, Kiva walks over to Sparky's kennel and takes a rawhide out.

Sparky comes back downstairs and notices. He promptly marches over and proceeds to steal the rawhide from Kiva.

Sparky, having the puppy attention span he does, walks around downstairs to see what else there is for him to explore. Kiva, seeing her chance, starts chewing on the rawhide once again. Hearing the sound of rawhide being chewed, Sparky bounds over to steal back his rawhide. He chews on it for a few seconds, loses interest, and wanders off again. Kiva sees her opportunity again, and chews on the rawhide. Sparky bounds back over to steal his rawhide from Kiva's grip. And so the story goes a few more times back and forth. Now Sparky has lost interest in his rawhide and instead gained interest in chasing his tail.

Every time Sparky steals the rawhide, poor Kiva just looks at me and lets him take it. She's so good. He's such a brat!

The saga continues...

Thinking I could outsmart one or both of these canines, I grab the second rawhide out of the kennel. See, I saw this coming long before we even left the house and made sure we had two rawhides with us. I gave Kiva the second rawhide, at which Sparky began to lunge out of my arms. I told him he couldn't be selfish and gave him the other rawhide, which appeased him momentarily. For a few fleeting seconds, Sparky was happily gnawing at his rawhide on the couch while Kiva calmly chewed on the floor. Oh, but the Sparky bub is a clever one. It didn't take him long to figure out that Kiva was still chewing on one of his toys. So he leapt from the couch in an attempt to reclaim his territory. do you chew two rawhides at once? don't. You hoard one under your paws while chewing on the other. If Kiva happens to get her paws on the second, you steal it back, leave the first unprotected, and the story begins again...

Finally, there was peace and contentment. Rawhide stealing had ceased and each was happy with what they had been given.

Friday, July 13, 2012

New Office Lamp

This morning, I set out to find a new lamp for our office. Last night, I commandeered the old office lamp for use in our bedroom (pictures coming later!). So it left us with only the ceiling fan and ceiling light in the office. Oh, the horror! Don't get me wrong, I love my ceiling fans - especially here in Arizona where I can run ceiling fans on high and keep our thermostat a tad higher...BUT, overhead lighting can be so harsh. So, I love a good lamp.

I came home with this beauty lamp and no real plan as to how I was going to fix it up.

Then, I was catching up on blog reading doing something very important and productive and pinspiration struck! I remembered that my best friend had pinned a pair of gorgeous DIY lamps, and I went running for the hardware store. Seriously, you think I'm kidding, I actually ran through my house I was so excited about this one.

First things first, this shade was disgusting. I started ripping the trim off and dust was flying. And the stain you see above...

So I took the shade outside, after ripping some of the fabric and trim off, and gave it a little spray paint love. Looking back, this wasn't necessary at all, but something in me thought that if you saw through the burlap at all, I'd rather it be white than cream. Yeah, sometimes I'm weird. Just go with it.

Sparky was totally content with my spray painting craziness - he's such a great pup!

I couldn't find Krylon looking glass spray in my hardware store, so I opted for Rustoleum metallic finish in Chrome. After a quick google search in the paint aisle (thank goodness for smartphones), I was confident that it would do pretty much the same thing. So I grabbed a squirt bottle and the spray paint, taped up the lamp, and went to town! I sprayed some water, sprayed some paint, sprayed some water, sprayed some get the point. In the end, this is what I had. The texture is completely like mercury glass, but it is still pretty cool.

I wondered what a mix of black acrylic paint and water would do...if anyone's tried it let me know. I think it would give you the deeper color typically seen in mercury glass.

While the base was drying, I pulled out some burlap from my stash, plugged in the hot glue gun, and tried to contain my giddy self. Here is a good in depth tutorial for covering a lamp shade. But basically, I ran a line of hot glue down the lampshade (perpendicular to the openings), affixed one of the edges of my burlap, continued to wrap and glue, then folded over the opposite edge (to give it a finished look) and glued it down. I trimmed the excess, folded over the edges to the inside of the shade and glued as I went. Burlap was super forgiving to work with - it's a great material if you want to attempt covering your own lampshade!

And after a couple hours, I ended up with this!

Anyone else doing some Pinterest projects this weekend? I'd love to hear all about them!