Thursday, September 30, 2010

taste test proves Mexican casserole still sucks

My sister sent this email to my family today:

So now that I’m a grownup with more mature tastebuds, I read Lisa’s blog yesterday, and thought…. Hmmm Mexican casserole has potential, if you just eliminated the mayo and maybe added some seasoning to the ground beef – maybe it would be good.  So, I had all the ingredients on hand today, and whipped up an easy peasy Mexican casserole.  I added taco seasoning, jalapeno peppers and garlic to the meat, and used fresh garden tomatoes and peppers in the casserole.  Left out the mayo.  Had some homemade guacamole with it.  We even attempted the full Mexican fiesta by having cold beer with it.  Ummm, yeah, Mexican casserole is still gross.  There is no ‘fixing’ it.  Who knew that bisquick has this ability to suck all flavor out of whatever you put on top of it.  It tasted like bisquick topped with bland ground beef and sour cream.  I’m thinking bisquick just doesn’t belong near anything Mexican.
Now the good news – Dad, there’s half a pan left and it’s got your name all over for it dinner on Saturday – three Mexican casseroles in one year? Two in one week?!  What’s the next step up from a banner year? ;) 


Those new curtains I wasn't supposed to buy...

Remember my post a few days ago about wanting new curtains?  I found two Pottery Barn Audrey curtains on craigslist!  The Mister went to Brooklyn to pick them up after work last night.   And I was right, they look awesome.

I also grabbed some blue trellis fabric from my stash and reupholstered the chair cushion (see how it used to look here). I had juuuuust enough fabric for the chair seat by mere threads.

But!  I think the curtains help make the red chair, purple sofa and blue rug look a bit more cohesive.

Sadly, I only found two curtains on craigslist.  Waah. Now I just have to figure out where I can get two more for cheap.  I tried hanging the curtains on the other side of the room by the dining table:

I took the Robert Allan fabric out of the back of the bookshelf, but I think it needs something...I a trellis stencil in the back or something.  Plus I forgot there's a hole in the back behind that red piece on the bottom.  Guess I should patch that.

The reason all my stuff looks trashed--Peter eating chocolate cake on my newly reupholstered chair:

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

No Mexicans were harmed in the making of this casserole.

Yesterday I made meatloaf and mashed potatoes.  Today I made shephards pie with the leftover mashed potatoes, like a good little happy homemaker who does things like recycle leftovers into new meals. (Yet another delicious meal met with YUCK by my loving children.)  Leftovers always seem to end up as casseroles, don't they?

Which makes me think of the absolute worst meal of my childhood....the Mexican casserole.

(I should preface this with my mother is actually a pretty good cook.  She claims this meal was an inexpensive way to feed five people.  I say the cost per serving goes way up if three of the five people refuse to eat it.) 

My father LOVES this meal.  My sisters and I gag at the mere mention of it. My father asks for it every year for his birthday, and my mom makes it, but not on a day that we are visiting for his birthday, because we would leave and go out to dinner by ourselves.  Not that we had the choice to leave and go get a different dinner in 1983.  You couldn't choose to go hungry in 1983, either---it would be sitting there waiting for you until you went to bed.  And then you could eat for breakfast if you managed to sit at the table till bedtime.

I have no idea why on earth this is called "Mexican" casserole....I assure you that no Mexican has
ever seen anything remotely resembling this casserole, let alone claimed it for their national dish.

Here is the recipe, straight from the back of the 1983 Bisquick box:

1 lb ground beef
1 cup sour cream
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 tbsp chopped onion
2 cups Bisquick baking mix
1/2 cup cold water
2 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced
3/4 cup chopped green pepper

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

1. Cook and stir ground beef until brown; drain and set aside. Mix sour cream, mayonnaise, cheese and onion, set aside.
2. Stir baking mix and water to a soft dough.
3. Pat dough in greased oblong pan, 13x9x2 inches, pressing dough 1/2 inch up sides of pan.
4. Layer ground beef, tomatoes and green pepper, spoon sour cream mixture over top. If you like, sprinkle with paprika.
5. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until edges of dough are light brown.  Makes 10 servings.

10 servings??  This explains why this always had leftovers. 

I like that the recipe suggests for the "full Mexican supper", add shredded lettuce and chopped tomatoes, fresh fruit, and cold beer.  I always think of Mexico when I consume fresh fruit and cold beer. 

My mother now modifies the recipe, putting in much less sour cream and mayo, and substitutes yogurt (as if this dish could get any worse).  I think she also now uses ground chicken instead of ground beef, for even less flavor.  But!  She said its healthier now that she tops it with crumbled Lime Tostitos.  (That's a direct quote--I can't make this stuff up.) 

I can't bring myself to make this in order to take a picture of it.  Its just too gross.  So I had my mother make it and take a picture.

My father, upon hearing my request, said "its only October, its not my birthday yet!" Tonight after eating it, he said, "its a banner year! I get to eat it twice in one year!"  You're welcome, Daddy. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

a few things tangentially related to AC Moore

On my way to AC Moore (a craft store) today, I was singing along to "Band of Gold," and got to thinking about the lyrics.

We kissed after taking vows
That night on our honeymoon
We stayed in separate rooms
I wait in the darkness of my lonely room
Filled with sadness filled with gloom
Hoping soon
That you'll walk back through that door
And love me like you tried before

Um...why did he leave? Was he impotent--"love me like you tried before"?  Why were they in separate rooms after getting married? Can someone explain this song to me? (I have a long history of misinterpreting song lyrics, so feel free to tell me if I'm totally missing an obvious point. My sisters can refrain from mocking me, I'm only taking taunting from internet strangers today.) 

We walked into AC Moore and I jumped about a foot, because I thought this was real:

There may have been some girlish shrieking. And then some feeling self-conscious. Cuz I'm all about feeling like an idiot this week.  

I was at AC Moore looking for a....cricut, I think?  A little thingy that punches a shape out of paper?  Except I don't want girly butterflies. I want something manly, like trains.  I would like to do this project for the boys room (ergo, the trains, not butterflies).  (This looks so easy, go check it out on Sixty-Fifth Avenue's blog.)

AC Moore only has girly flowers and butterflies in their cricut section.   Ideas or online sources on where I can find a train?  There are zero crafty stores around here. 

Monday, September 27, 2010

what a great day!

This morning I went to the dentist to have my teeth cleaned.  I have a wee bit of a dentist phobia.  I cannot stand the sonic scaler. Its like listening to nails on a chalkboard continuously an inch from my ear, it makes me feel like this:

I left the dentist's office a limp, sweaty mess.

This evening I nursed the Princess, put her down and took two steps toward the phone when I heard a choking noise.  She swallowed a sticker.  Vomiting ensued, but no sticker came up. She kept trying to stick her hand down her throat to get the sticker, but just gagged. She finally gagged up a piece.  We went to the ER, she's fine, it will all come out in the end.

I'm now huddled on the sofa devouring a large pecan danish ring. 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

new curtains, and do you use your nice stuff?

So, repeat after me.....I  do NOT need new curtains, I do NOT need new curtains....even though I REALLY WANT THEM.

I am so...meh...over my living room.  I have a stupid purple sofa that I hate, a red leather club chair that is quite nice but seems to dictate the entire design, and a light blue FLOR tile rug that, ok.  Not quite what I wanted. 

Our old living room decor had very warm tones, with rusty orange drapes and tables, and a purple/red/orange rug from Crate and Barrel that tied it all together.  In our old house, I liked it.  In this house, I didn't.

So I changed it up a bit.  Out went the orange and in came lots of white (repainted all our furniture, added white drapes.) I added in turquoise blue accents, and used a Robert Allan floral fabric in places around the room.  Its definitely a lighter, brighter look....but I just hate the sofa and rug.  Hate them.  Want to burn them. 

Then I added the red vinyl to the dining chairs, and the red to my desk chairs....and now I feel like there's WAY TOO MUCH RED in here. 

I thought, hmm, maybe if I take away that bright Robert Allan fabric and instead go with curtains that are paler blue and red it would tie things in more.

I thought these Pottery Barn Audrey curtains would do the trick:

except they are all sold out.  Waaah.  Plus the Mister's eyebrows shot up at the amount of money they would have cost. 

If I could sew, which I can't, I could get this Covington Wilmington multi fabric and make my own:

But we've already established I can't sew.  

We hope to move next summer anyway, so I should probably just live with what I have. Since obviously when you get a new place you throw away all your old stuff and buy all new stuff! Whee! 

Here's a slightly related question: if you have kids, do you use your nice stuff, or are you living with stuff you don't like but you don't care if it gets beat up until they are older?

Up until recently, I've been a proponent of using nice stuff, even though I have kids.  (I'm not talking priceless heirlooms handed down for generations.)  I like pretty things, and I have pretty things, and they are out where the kids can see them and touch them.  I have a gallery wall hung in my dining room, and the bottom row is at eye level with my three year old.  The bookshelves in the dining room have breakable items on the lower levels.  I have pretty pillows on the sofa that weren't cheap.

Recently, however, my three year old has become a destructive force of terror.  My gallery wall is always crooked.  My pretty pillows have chocolate smears on them.   He has single-handedly trashed the upholstery on four dining chairs, all of my throw pillows, the playroom rug, and two sofas.  My bedding is safe so far only because I keep my bedroom door shut during the day so the kids don't play in there.   

We have a very nice dining table, which is currently sitting out in the garage.  We replaced it with a beat up table from Craigslist, which has worked fine until now.  My newly reupholstered dining chairs are too big to go around the table comfortably.  My old table is bigger, but has a high end finish and I had put it in the garage because I was tired of using it only with elasticized oilcloth tablecloths, like your grandma used on her patio table. 

I really want a new sofa, but this purple thing has been through the Great Vomiting Illness of 2009, the potty training of 2008 and 2010 (and projected potty training of 2012), has incurred rips in four different moves, and a few weeks ago I watched my oldest son wipe his runny nose by planting his face on the arm of the sofa and walking from one end to other.  Am I crazy to want a new sofa, knowing what will happen to it? Does my new sofa also need to be a very dark color?

Do you use nice stuff with your young kids, and accept that it might get beat up?  Or has it all been packed away until they are out of the messy phase?  My youngest is almost 15 I have to wait another 5 years before I can bring the pretty stuff back?

Friday, September 24, 2010

a room of my own

In the next house, I hope to have a home office in its own room.  Right now I have a desk tucked under an eave in my living/dining room, and while it serves its purpose, I'd love to have a pretty room of my own. 

Two rooms in my inspiration file are Kristen's office from 6th Street Design School:

Its just such a delightful space---the floral curtains with the trim on the roman shade, the parsons desk with the ghost chair, the glam chandelier--even the cube unit is functional but pretty at the same time. 

Here's another beautiful office, from Emily A. Clark (you should click over and read the whole office makeover):

 So gorgeous, love this room, especially the campaign dresser.  I've been hunting craigslist for months since seeing this picture, but no dice. that I'm looking at them side by side, I guess my office is going to have floral curtains, an Expedit bookshelf and a West Elm parsons desk.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

flashback to the 7th grade

This morning I dressed in a long-ish flowy black skirt with a maroon sleeveless top.  I think I look normal and nondescript, kind of mom-ish. I see nothing out of the ordinary in my appearance. 

Greg and I walk to school on a picturesque footpath between neighbhorhoods.  Its a nice walk,it meanders through a small park, and there are usually lots of kids walking to school and commuters headed to the bridge.  

This morning, as we walked through the park, two older ladies out for a brisk morning constitutional cut around us, and both glanced back at me as they cut around. I heard "skirt looks like some kind of jersey material" as they kept going.  They both glanced back again twice as they kept going.  I think they were looking at my skirt? Maybe?

They kept walking, and at the end of the block, crossed the street and turned back, walking towards us but on the opposite side of the block.  They stared at me the whole time.


Whatever. I dropped Greg off at school. No one stared at me. I walked back home the same way I came.

At almost exactly the same spot in the park, I passed a group of four women.  Two of them facing me glanced up, did a "oh!" sort of double-take, then started laughing and giggling, and all of them turned and stared at me as I walked by. There was a flurry of conversation.  Since I don't speak Korean (a major impediment to making friends in this town), I have no idea what they were laughing about.

What the hell? I have snot on my shirt from where Greg used my shirt as a hanky to wipe his tears at school, but other than that I do not see anything out of the ordinary about my appearance.  My hair looks fine, there's no spinach in my teeth, I did not become disfigured between the front door and the park. 

I feel a bit self-conscious.  And I'm thinking of changing my outfit before I go pick Greg up. 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Want to know what I do all day?

Ever wonder what stay at home moms do?  Sit around and eat bonbons?  Put the crap in scrapbooking? Whip up organic gourmet meals that their children eat with gusto? (Hint: that's not my life. Especially not the cooking part.)

I'm guest blogging today over at The Domestic Wannabe for Ashley's "Day in the Life" series....check out my minute by minute account of a typical day in my life.  (Very few bonbons included. I prefer cookies.)

Monday, September 20, 2010

craigslist bamboo dining chairs (second set)

I have finally gotten around to refinishing my the chinoiserie chairs I got off craigslist a few months ago.

Here is one of the chairs in all its dingy yellow glory.  It was a weird paint treatment...not quite glazed, but sort of a yellow wash over white paint....almost like the color something would get if it sat in the home of a smoker for forty years.

Now they are bright shiny white.  I love love love the lines of these chairs.

I also recovered the seats.

My old dining seats were covered in a pretty blue trellis material.  Big mistake.  My three year old singlehandedly trashed the upholstery.  Its pretty disgusting. So, while I would much prefer a pretty fabric on the seat cushions, I went with red vinyl instead.  Its a tough material that can be wiped down and won't stain easily.

This was not an easy material to work with. I've recovered dozens of dining chairs, but this vinyl was so thick that it was very difficult to get good corners on them.  The red vinyl also kind of gives it a bit of chinoiserie meets pizzeria look, but I really wanted a material that would wipe off rather than get destroyed, and vinyl seems to have limited color options.  There was actually some vinyl with crocodile treatment on it, but it was only in a very ugly brown.

You'll note that apparently six chairs is too many for this table.  There's always something.  Take two chairs away? Build my own farmhouse table? Bring back the expensive table and let it get beat up?  Use the ugly, non-paintable matchy-matchy table that came with the chairs?

I had a helper:

Desk chairs, finally

Ever since I screwed up stripping my old pair of shield back desk chairs, I've been using various chairs from around the house at my desk.  Most recently I've used some mission-ish style chairs that we had from our old table.  I'm not overly excited about them, but they were free.  I wanted red chairs with a pretty fabric, but these chairs had a wooden seat.  My sister suggested putting foam on the wooden seat and making my own seat cushion.  And voila! Red chairs with pretty fabric seat.  I already had the chairs and the fabric and even one can of red spray paint (Krylon's Cherry in high gloss), so the total cost of this makeover was $3.50 for another can of spray paint.

I like that my little buddies can come and sit with me again while I'm at my desk:


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Poll on chairs?

I currently have fourteen dining chairs of varying styles. (Seventeen if you count the red shield ones I screwed up with the citristrip out in the garage. I really should walk them out to the curb.)

Thus, even though none of them is what I want for my two desk chairs, I find it difficult to justify buying two new chairs for my desk. 

So! I will just have to suck it up and make do with what I got. 

Here's what I got:

The one on the far right, with the black seat? That will be going in my dining room.  I have six of those (remember when I got them off craigslist?), and I am currently in the process of repainting them. I will be recovering the seats in red vinyl or oilcloth (learned my lesson there---upholstered dining chairs with messy kids = stupid idea).  

For my desk, I am left with the current dining chairs (the white with blue upholstery) or our old dining chairs (the dark stained mission style). 

Options are:

1) The upholstered chair would be painted red and reupholstered with this coral print fabric:

My fear with this is that I then have two different style bamboo chairs in the room (our living room and dining room are one big room.)  Too much bamboo?

2) Paint the mission chairs red.  No cushions.

Leave a comment---red bamboo chair or red mission chair?  Keep in mind the dining chairs on the other side of the room are white bamboo.  Thanks!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Luddites unite!

HAHA!!! I have FINALLY figured out how to put stuff under the pages in the navbar!!!  I have been trying (somewhat lazily) to figure it out for  two weeks.  I finally sat down and told myself, you 19+ years of higher edumacation, you can figure out how to archive your crap.  And I DID.  Take that!

And now I just have to sit and manually enter posts.  Thank goodness I've only been blogging for three months, eh?

I've got most of the apartment page up, I think.  Everything else may be a while. 

calling all armless statues

I'd like a bust. (That's what she said! Oh, I crack myself up.  Just can't help myself.)

What brought that on, you ask?  I bought the Best of Southern Living Magazine, and in it I saw this sun room:

See the bust on the shelf on the right?  Love.  Actually, I love the whole second picture. 

I've been eyeing this one from Pottery Barn for a while:

She seems graceful and pretty. I've been looking for a white marble-ish one, but so far this one's features are the one I like best.

Homer and Aristotle seem like cranky old men:

Apparently Overstock has a selection of busty types, but they, for lack of a better term.

Still looking....anyone have any ideas?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

no mas dishwasher

Our dishwasher started leaking yesterday morning, right before Greg's birthday party.  Luckily, my father, Mr. Fixit, knew how to fix it, with some helpers.

He pulled out the plastic doohicky thing on the bottom, did something else, went to replace the plastic doohickey thing....and it was gone.

We searched high and low, inside and out. I even got to dump out the trash on my kitchen floor and go through it. No plastic doohickey thing.  Peter is a prime suspect but has refused to give up the goods despite intense interrogation. dishwasher has gone from leaky to broken.  AWESOME.

Worst Toy Ever

FYI, this Buzz Lightyear Ultra Blast Gauntlet is the most annoying toy on the face of the earth:

 Not only does it shoot flat tipped darts (!!), but it also makes this horrendous, LOUD, buzzy-drilling sound, supposedly imitating a laser.

We will all be blind and deaf by the end of today. 

Thanks, Auntie J!  I look forward to returning the favor.

UPDATE:  hahahaha....Peter is playing with this toy and Greg is yelling "STOP IT BE QUIET!!!!"

Friday, September 10, 2010

letters on bins

A while back one of my aunts gave me some cute carved letters with each of the kids first initial.  (Looking at the letters you will obviously see that my kids are not named Greg, Peter and Princess.)  I've been hanging onto them, not quite sure where to put them.  I've not done much in the way of decorating the kids' room, because I want to move the Princess from our room to in with the boys, but that will necessitate rearranging the furniture and then I'm not sure where the art will go...and that was a long-winded explanation for saying "I have these cute letters." 

Around the corner from the front door into the apartment we have a cube full of bins.  Everybody has their own bin, which is a place for gloves, scarves, hats, etc. The Pottery Barn Kids near my house has bins with letters on them, so I thought I'd try affixing the letters to the bins. I just tied a piece of ribbon through the handle of the basket and the hanger on the back of the letter.  And voila! Kiddos know which bin is theirs.

Sister's nursery on Ohdeedoh!

Exciting news!  My sister's nursery for Denise (seen on my blog here and here) was featured on Ohdeedoh (Apartment Therapy's children's decor site.)  Woot woot!

See her nursery on Ohdeedoh here

Thursday, September 9, 2010

In my day...

I'm feeling old lately.  Maybe its because I haven't slept in the past five years.  But I find myself saying stuff I never thought I would.

This weekend I took Grandma and Greg to run some errands.  Pretty much any time Grandma leaves the house, especially if she has Greg with her, she comes home with toys.  Which on one hand is nice and very generous. On the other hand, it leads my kid to expect a toy every time we leave the house.

I have attempted to explain that we don't buy toys just because we have left the house.  Unfortunately, now when we go shopping and he asks for a toy and I say no, he says, in his rather loud voice "ITS TOO EXPENSIVE, RIGHT??? WE DONT HAVE THAT MANY DOLLARS.  TOYS ARE EXPENSIVE AND WE CAN'T AFFORD IT."

I have no idea where he got this idea.  I have said, no, we can afford it, but I'm not buying it because you have plenty of toys already, but he persists in announcing to the world that we are poor. 

So we are out shopping this past weekend with Grandma, and Greg picks up a piece of junk toy that he neither needs nor really wants.  I say no.  He starts to pitch a fit.  As we are walking back to the car, I am delivering a stern lecture on appropriate behavior in public, and how in my day, I never got lots of toys, I played with a stick and cardboard boxes and plastic bottles tops (all true, btw, I have pictures to prove it---my mother made me a violin from a dowel, a curler and a Triscuit box) and didn't need lots of plastic crap from China to make me happy....

WTH??? Did that just come out of my mouth??  IN MY DAY??  I'm thirty-freaking-six, for pete's sake.  Next thing you know I'll be telling my kid that I walked uphill both ways to school in the snow, with barbed wire wrapped around my feet for traction, like my father told me. 

Other things my father told me that I find myself saying lately....Life isn't fair, fair is something you pay to ride the bus.  Greg and I have this conversation frequently, although I don't think he's quite grasped the finer points.

And "you've got to suffer if you want to sing the blues."  I spent my childhood pointing out I had no interest in singing the blues. 

Daddy-ism I have managed to avoid saying....I'm game, she said, so the Polock shot her. 

Friday, September 3, 2010

cords revisited

Last we saw my under the desk area, it looked like this:

(Ignore the above the desk area, please.)

Princess has taken to crawling under the desk and sucking on the computer power cord.  That didn't seem terribly safe, so I guess its time to deal with all the cords down there.  And by "dealing" with them I want to shove them in a box and forget about them. 

I had been looking for an inexpensive solution but hadn't really found anything quite right.  Then, a few days ago I was doing laundry in the basement, and saw this:

It belonged to my mother in law, but had been discarded because drawer front broke off.  Otherwise it was perfect--free, three drawers, one of which could be stationary since I planned on hacking up the bottom of the piece to put the cords in. 

I painted it white and spraypainted the plastic pulls red.

I painted the pulls red because 1) they were very cheap grey plastic and looked hideous, and 2) the credenza under the tv on the other side of the room is also painted white with red pulls.

I actually went to Target yesterday to pick up new pulls---yes, I went to Target for the fourth day in a row, we saw the big Buzz Lightyear yet again, and when we pulled into the parking lot the 4 yr old said, Hey! This is the Target we go to EVERY DAY!---but the six pack of pulls that I wanted were $22.  So, back home to the free plastic pulls. 

Luckily, the drawer front was easily reattached to the broken drawer, and it sits on the bottom now, and holds all the cords.  Since I don't need to pull the drawer out frequently, it should hold up ok.

The Mister sawed off the bottom third of the back of the piece.  I could have taken the back piece completely off, but its not the sturdiest thing, and the back piece helped make it more stable.  All of the cords are stuffed into the back and live in the bottom drawer. There is enough airflow so that the power cords don't overheat, since the back is open. 

And voila!  Cords contained, room for other stuff in the two top drawers. 

Of course, the Princess is already poking around back there, trying to get at the cords.