Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Life by design? I don't think so...

My Life By Design. It's kind of funny when you think about it. At first it was just a cute play on words about my life and how I design my home. But after these last six months, it's kind of taken on a deeper meaning. When you're creating your home, you're in control, planning things out just how you want them to be. But in life, it's different.

After 38 years, this last year has probably taught me the biggest life lesson – you can't design your life. You can plan, you can hope, you can act – but things will happen that are beyond your control. Good things, bad things, things you never imagined.

2014 was poised to be a great year. You see, 14 is my lucky number. This was the year that everything I wanted would happen. But almost as soon as the new year rang in, it all started to fall apart.

My brave mother who beat breast cancer was rocked wight he news that her cancer had returned, only this time in her liver. As fast as we could wrap our minds around the news, she progressively got worse. Treatment after treatment didn't work and slowly we began to realize, this cancer fight was going to be different. This fight wasn't going to end the same way. It's something I think my mom knew from the beginning but something the rest of us didn't want to face.

I just kept telling myself it would get better, the next treatment would work, the tumors weren't that big, she couldn't leave us - she was too good.

But then she did. On March 28th, my mom died.

That sure as hell wasn't part of the life I designed for myself in my head. My mom was supposed to be around for a long time. We had a plan. She would retire and then help me take care of my kids. It was always our plan. Unfortunately, plans change.

But life doesn't stop, even when you want it to. Because at the same time we found out my mom was sick, I found out I was pregnant. Something we had been hoping and trying for for 3 years. Naively, I thought that this baby would help heal her and that there was no way that she would pass before seeing my baby. But she did. It wasn't - and still isn't - fair that something my mom wanted as much as I did, she wouldn't be around to experience. 

I know that there is probably some cosmic reason for this happening. But I just can't get there yet. It's hard for me to understand how someone so good and loving and selfless could be taken from us so quickly and at such a crucial time in life. I just have to keep the faith that one day we will see each other again and I will finally have the answers I seek. 

So much has happened in these last few months, I can't fit it all in one post. So bear with me, as I sort through my new life and embark on a new path with a sweet little boy (who has an amazing guardian angel) that I can't wait for you all to meet. 

Friday, August 1, 2014

my latest project...

In my last post I alluded to changes that will be impacting some upcoming projects.
Well, this change is perhaps the most impactful of them all....


And I am officially in nesting mode. Nursery is in full swing, so stay tuned for lots of updates! 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Is anyone still out there?

February 26. That was the last time I blogged. 

So much has happened since then and even before then that I am not 100% certain I am ready to talk about on the blog just yet. Let's just say, 2014 has really turned my world upside down. "Oh Jenna, you're just being dramatic," you're probably thinking. I assure you, I am not.

But I can tell you, these changes are bringing up some exciting opportunities for blog posts, so you can look forward to some new home projects in the coming months.

I don't mean to be cryptic, but like I said, some of the things I'm just not ready to discuss yet. But I wanted to explain why I have been so silent.... that is, if anyone out there still cares about my little slice of the blogosphere.

See you soon.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

ground beef stroganoff....

I've added another recipe to my dinnertime arsenal: Ground Beef Stroganoff. It's a classic and I forgot how much I enjoy it. Here's a simple recipe that will sure to have your family asking for seconds.

Ground Beef Stroganoff
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
2 Tbsp flour
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp paprika
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/8 cup butter
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup sour cream
1 bag egg noodles

In small skillet, cook onion in butter until golden. In a large skillet, combine meat, flour, salt, pepper and paprika. Add the cooked onions and brown meat. Add cream of mushroom soup and cook for about 5 minutes. Add sour cream and heat thoroughly.

About the time your meat is browned, bring a pot of water to a boil then add the egg noodles and cook to the direction on the package.

Serve ground beef over noodles. I topped it with a little sprinkle of fresh parmesan and served with a garden salad.

Yummy, yummy in my tummy! It certainly warms you up on these endlessly cold winter nights. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

signed, sealed, delivered: valentine's gifts...

I always manage to find the cutest things in the Target dollar center. A few weeks ago I saw these darling mini-mailboxes and knew they'd be perfect for Valentine's Day. 

I got one for my hubby, mom, dad and sister, and packed them with chocolates and a personal Valentine's note. 

You could fill it with all kinds of things:

  • A bunch of love notes to be opened each day for the month
  • Mementos from past dates
  • Pictures through the years
  • Jewelry, etc.  

They are cute little gifts that don't cost a lot but can be packed with meaning. 
Happy Valentine's Day to you and the ones you love! 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Target clearance round-up...

You can't beat Target for clearance deals. If you strike at the right time, you can score some great stuff for very little cheddar. Here are a few of the things I found recently:

These 8x10 silver frames were regularly $29.99 each. I got them for $4.98 each. BOOM! 
My gallery wall is coming together. 

This cute bowl is perfect to hold my salt for cooking and matches my olive oil decanter. Only $6.98.

I'd been looking for a table cloth for a side table in our guest room for at least 6 months. This one was $4.98 and good solid fabric. 

All this Target talk is making me want to go shopping! 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

meet my new lover….

I met her at Anthropologie. For a cool $1000 she could be mine. So for now, she's just a dream. 

What a beauty! 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Crockpot Beef Stew…

As I type, we are getting hit with an ice storm on top of a couple inches of snow. This winter has been a doozy. I don't know about you but all this cold and snow makes me want to curl up with some piping hot comfort food. This Crockpot Beef Stew is a tried and true family favorite. 

You'll need: 
  • 2 lbs of beef (any inexpensive cut will do)
  • 1 bag of baby carrots
  • 3 potatoes peeled and cut into cubes
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 package of Knorr Vegetable mix
  • 1 bottle of beer 
  • 1 cup of water

I place the meat in the crock pot and then cover with the remaining ingredients to cover evenly. 

Then I pour the beer over the top. Any beer will do, but I always choose a more full-bodied beer for flavor. Then I fill up the bottle with water and pour that in as well. Cook on low 5-7 hours or 3-4 on high. The beef should just shred apart with a fork at this point. Salt and pepper to taste.

We had a lot left over, so a couple days later I spread crescent rolls on the bottom of a casserole dish, added in the leftover stew and topped with mashed potatoes. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes. 

Two meals in one. Stay warm my friends! 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Spend a day in Cincinnati...

As most of my readers know, I moved back to my hometown of Cincinnati a little over two years ago. Until then, I hadn't lived here since I was 18, and in those 5, 10,  er - 17 years, a lot has changed… for the better. I love living here. Recenlty making the rounds on social media is photographer Justin Leibow's expose on his "4 Days in Cincinnati." It's a great piece punctuated by his beautiful photography. Check it out and get a glimpse of the wonderful city I call home. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Friday fave...

I loved the show Bosom Buddies when I was a kid. 
This is a great side by side reenactment of the opening credits done by Paul Rudd and Adam Scott (Parks and Recreation). 
Happy Friday! 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

New Joss and Main bar stools...

I'm 2 for 2 in my purchase from Joss and Main. The first was a hallway rug. 
And just this past weekend, I assembled our new bar stools.  

Our kitchen flows right into our family room with a bar-height counter dividing the two. 

Whenever we have guests, we inevitably end up hanging in the kitchen, so we always thought it would be nice to have some bar stools for extra seating. Problem was, all of the stools we found were either fake wood veneer or waaaaaay too pricey for what they were. Then I spotted these puppies on Joss and Main for $80/pair. Done and done. 

Assembly wasn't too bad. It took a little elbow grease to get the screws in there securely, but they seem to be just fine. And I only sustained a few injuries.

I especially love the nailhead trim because it goes with my hubby's leather chair, and the linen seat works well with all the natural fabrics we have in the room. 

We're ready for guests, who's coming over? 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Friday favorite...

Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland released her first solo album today. The first single, "That Girl" is steadily on repeat on my iPod. I just love the sound, it's pretty different than the country pop out there right now. It definitely has some retro-country flavor. I can't wait to hear what the rest of the CD sounds like.

Check out the song and video right here. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Parmesan chicken and kale...

If you're looking for a delicious, go-to meal, try this one on for size. I have to give a shout-out to my neighbor Cory, who introduced me to this chicken recipe. It's gotten rave reviews in my house and it's really simple. 

3 Chicken breasts
1 cup of mayo
1 cup of breadcrumbs
1 cup of shredded parmesan cheese 

PREHEAT oven to 375 degrees.
MIX mayo, breadcrumbs and cheese. 
SEASON the chicken breasts with salt and pepper on both sides.
COAT one side of the chicken with the mayo/cheese mixture. 
BAKE for 25-35 minutes. 

1/4 onion
1 clove of garlic
2 Tbsp olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
In a pan, sweat out the onions and garlic in the olive oil until they become translucent. Add in the kale and sauté. Remove from heat and let cool for a bit. Toss with balsamic vinegar. 

When choosing your cheese for the mixture, I used the shredded, bagged parmesan, not the powdery, grated cheese in the canister. I think it gives it a better texture and it gets nice and crispy towards the end of cooking. I even toss it under the broiler for a few minutes to make it even crispier. It's really easy to make and so flavorful for so few ingredients. We're trying to have less carbs with our dinner so the meat and vegetables need to have flavor, and this recipe hits a home run. 

What are your go-to recipes? I'd love to hear what your family enjoys. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Big Ed's white chicken chili....

It's no secret that I love a good slow cooker recipe, especially in the winter. Sundays are usually our crockpot days. This past weekend, when my husband requested white chicken chili, I knew just who to call... my dad. He has a "world famous" recipe that's quite a hit around the neighborhood. And now I'm sharing it with you. 

1 1/2 lb boneless chicken breasts
1 cup dried Great Northern beans, rinsed
1/2 medium onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic
2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp of salt
2 cans cream of chicken soup
4 cups of chicken stock or water
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp hot sauce
1 can diced green chiles

Combine all of the ingredients except cumin, hot sauce and chiles in a crock pot. Cook on low for 6 hours or high for 3-4 hours, until chicken is cooked thoroughly. One hour before serving, shred the chicken in the crockpot with two forks and then add in the cumin, hot sauce and can of chiles. Continue cooking. Serve with cheese, sour cream and oyster crackers.

It was met with rave reviews and will now become a strong player in the slow cooker recipe rotation.

Hope you enjoy it too!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Roasted brussels sprouts and tortellini salad...

Sidebar right off the bat... I can never remember if it's brussel or brussels sprouts. I literally did a Google search on it before starting this post. Anyhow, it's brussels, FYI.

Over the holidays I think I ingested roughly 100 lbs of sugar, so I'm trying to eat healthier and cut out desserts. So for lunch today I wanted something substantial but good for me. I know myself better than going from pasta and desserts at every meal to just veggies, it never works. I end up mainlining a bag of hershey kisses and hating myself. So I split the difference and made a small portion of frozen tortellini, roasted brussels sprouts in olive oil and tossed them together with balsamic vinegar.

It was delicious and filling and will definitely be making it into the recipe rotation. Yum!  

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

2014 Home Resolutions...

In my personal life, I don't like making resolutions. I try to create goals I want to achieve or commitments that I want to make to myself. But when it comes to my home, it's a whole different story! Because I always have a million ideas swimming in my head, I find it hard to commit to finishing any room so I end up in a holding pattern. So this year, I am making a few home resolutions so I actually accomplish some of these on-going projects. I figure if I put it out there to you guys, I'll be accountable for getting them done!

In the coming days, I'll be taking each resolution and share with you my ideas for each of them. I welcome any and all ideas to help me accomplish everything on my list. 

Happy New Year to you all!