Friday, August 9, 2013

DIY Itch

It's undeniable, I am a Pinterest addict! I love how creative some people get; I don't know if it is because I am one of the LEAST creative people in the world or if it is because I am sort of bored lately. At any rate, my husband and I are pinching pennies as mentioned in earlier posts and have recently move into our new house together, recently meaning last November. I am always looking for ways to make the house look better. My style is very shabby-chic. I love old barn wood, roughed up furniture, light airy colors, flowers, etc. I grew up in a farm town in Michigan and am thinking my inner soul will always be a country girl :) 

I began two projects a couple weeks ago and have been feverishly working on them in my spare time. 

DIY Cable Spool Patio Table

In the town where we live there is a cable company, as in cable cording, and whenever I drive by I always see old spools laying out in the grass, just decaying away. I finally got the courage up to go in there and bother the poor workers asking if it would be possible for me to steal one. To my surprise, the man that helped me was very sweet and went out the the "spool graveyard" with me in the 98 degree Georgia sun to help me find one. He was actually relieved I was taking one because he admitted they were kind of an eye sore but were costly to get removed, and that I could have all that I wanted, score for me!! After finding one that wasn't overly decayed, he generously cut the remaining cable off and helped my husband load it into the back of his truck. I was thrilled that I finally had my own cable spool and couldn't wait to get started.
After giving the spool a thorough cleaning with some Dawn and a hose, I let it dry in my back porch for about two days. After which I began to coat the top with polyurethane that I had left over from when we painted our countertops; I didn't really want to paint it or restore it any further because I loved the look of the wood just the way it was, so rustic! It took about 3 days to finish because I had to let it completely dry in between the coats of poly I brushed on. I wrapped the middle in burlap that I got from Hobby Lobby for 50% off, originally priced $4.99, so about $2.50.

Refinished Night Stand

When we moved into our house, one of the agreements in our contract with the previous owner was that he leave his two dressers and bedside table. We have never really got around to buying a dresser/dressers since we've been down here and since we knew he was trying to sell all the furniture in his home before he moved, we thought we'd ask for them. Let me begin by saying I am so thankful that we have dressers now and do not have to hang everything anymore. However, the dressers and end table were from circa 1975 and were not either of our style. I decided since our bedroom is small and we truly have no room for a nightstand to turn it into an end table for the living room. Now, I have read a few articles on Pinterest about re-finishing wood furniture and went on my merry way of re-finishing the night stand. I took the dresser apart, removed the handles and began sanding with some sandpaper we had leftover from when we re-did our countertops. I sanded off all of the LAMINATE wood surface which left the particle board exposed. 


I'll get to the fail in a moment. When I had sanded the whole thing down, well the majority of it, I wiped the sanded dustings off with a damp paper towel and began to spray paint. I found a can of Rust-Oleum on clearance at Hobby Lobby and decided the color was actually a perfect match for one end table that we already have in the living room, a light, creamy yellow. Anyway, I noticed that the paint was soaking into the particle board and not really covering it how paint should. I also noticed that the paint was covering the parts that I had not sanded, like the bottom, perfectly. UGHH!

 This is where the ***FAIL*** comes in. When you are painting LAMINATE furniture, you should LIGHTLY sand the glossy finish just to be sure the paint will adhere, NOT sand the whole covering away; hey, the title of my blog is Not So Suzy Homemaker for a reason :) Not wanting to accept defeat, I used the rest of the spray paint and painted the whole night stand anyway and let it dry. I did all of this in my backyard mind you and coming in after my painting session, I realized I HAD FORGOTTEN TO PAINT ONE OF THE DRAWERS!!!! OMG! What was I going to do!? It also turns out the paint color was on clearance because it was DISCONTINUED and wouldn't you know it, I bought the LAST one in the store. Wahhhh!!! Still not wanting to accept defeat, I opted to cover one of the drawers with scrapbook paper and Modge Podge. Does it look perfect? No. Do I think its cute in its own way? Yes. Along with the scrapbook paper and Modge Podge I bought, I also picked up four new pulls for the drawer. The finished product is below.

The edges are roughed up a bit with sandpaper.

I really hope this blog post helps someone else on their quest to DIY paradise!!! Oh, and not making the same mistakes I did!



Monday, July 29, 2013

Baked Buffalo Chicken Wontons with Faux Bleu Cheese

This past weekend, we visited my brother and sister-in-law in Florida. We had such a great time; the adult company, taking Dexter to the beach for the first time, just being at the beach, and getting away.

Since we did take a little vacay, I'm not overly upset about running astray from my meal plan and 30 day squat challenge. As for the meal plan, I pretty much left off from where I was at and started again and for my squat challenge, I too picked up where I left off and plan on skipping the next two rest days since that is as many days as I am behind.

Tonight I was supposed to make chicken salad but my husband begged me to make something else; too much of the same I am guessing even though I could likely eat chicken salad every night. Anyway, I still wanted to do something with chicken and looked through Pinterest for some ideas. I found several recipes for buffalo chicken wontons with varying ingredients; my own spin on each is below.

NOTE: I love love love all cheeses. My absolute, number one favorite food of all time is cheese so bleu cheese dressing is one of my favorite dressings. My dear, dear husband however detests bleu cheese. Which is totally fine because in my quest to make a dip to go along with my wontons, I discovered a dip that I will likely make again.

Buffalo Chicken Wontons 

1 Chicken breast
Cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper
Hot sauce (I used about 1 cup of a variant of Frank's Red Hot)
Butter or margarine (I used 1/4 cup)
1 Green onion, sliced 
4 Tbsp softened cream cheese

Faux Bleu Cheese

1/4 cup milk or buttermilk, more if you would like the dressing thinner
1/2 cup mayo
1/4 cup Feta cheese
2 Tbsp Ranch dressing dry packet
1/8 Tsp fresh cracked black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350. Put chicken breast in an 8x8 inch pan and add a little water to the bottom. Shake on as much cayenne as you like (be careful, it's hot!) and season with salt and pepper. Bake until cooked through, about 45 minutes. In the meantime, make the dressing. Stir together the milk, mayo, Ranch powder, and black pepper. When combined add in the Feta cheese; stir, cover and chill in the fridge.
Once the chicken is cooked through, DO NOT turn off your oven, turn it up to 375. Shred the chicken with two forks and place in a large mixing bowl along with the cream cheese and sliced green onion.
In a separate small bowl, microwave the butter to melt it, about 30 seconds; stir in the hot sauce and add the sauce to the chicken mixture, stir to combine.
Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray. Take one wonton and lightly moisten each edge with water. Place a small amount of the chicken mixture in the middle of the wonton.
Pretty sure I even overfilled this one.
**NOTE** You WILL overfill a couple when you begin, its just like a Newton's Law or something. Don't get discouraged!! You literally need about a TEAspoon of filling each, if that. 

Gently fold over and press together edges with a fork. Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes. Serves 4 as an appetizer and 2-3 as a dinner.


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Two Weeks of Meals on a Budget, Day 3: Taco Wontons

I have made a pledge to try and help out with our money situation. No more un-needed trips to Goodwill (maybe) and since I am the one who does all the grocery shopping, to cut down the grocery bill. Planning out my meals ahead of time actually really helped keep my grocery list to a minimum and I only bought things that were on my list. Usually, I roam the isles picking up ingredients or snacks that sound appealing with no real plan in place. This time I was prepared. I managed to cut down the grocery bill to $170 for two weeks worth of food; keep in mind I had to buy a couple extra ingredients because my husband volunteered me to make breakfast burritos for his work's boosters. I would say minus those ingredients the bill would have been around $15 cheaper or $145. Along with the dinners that I had planned, I also bought my son snacks, lunch and breakfast items and a few extra things. Below is my Meal Plan.


Tonight is Wednesday night, Taco Wonton night, and I have to say they turned out GREAT! I really liked them and they were not nearly as messy as I thought they would be as the wonton "cups" really stood up and did not crack and chip as I thought they would. 

Taco Wontons

1 lb hamburger meat
1 packet taco seasoning
1/2 cup shredded cheese, I used Jack cheese
1 packet of wonton wrappers
Cooking spray
Toppings for the tacos as desired
(I used tomato, green onion, lettuce, black olives, jalapenos, and Greek yogurt)

Preheat the oven to 375. Fry hamburger until cooked through, drain. Mix in taco seasoning and cook to specifications on packet.
Line 18 greased cupcake tins with the wonton wrappers; I did 12 and then 6 by themselves afterward.
Bake the unfilled wonton wrappers in the oven for 5 minutes; pull out and fill with a tablespoon or so of taco meat. You don't want to put too much filling in straight away, remember all of your toppings. After the wonton wrappers are filled with taco meat, top with a sprinkling of cheese. Return to the oven for 5-7 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the corners of the wonton wrappers are crispy.
Take as many as you want onto your plate and top as desired!

Our neighbors grew a TON of tomatoes and offered us some, of which I thankfully obliged. I think homegrown tomatoes have so much more flavor than ones bought in the grocery store and I couldn't wait to use them. I made a homemade salsa and topped my wonton tacos with it as well.
6 tomatoes, 1 onion, 1/2 cup cilantro, 2 cloves
of garlic, 1/8 cup of lime juice, 2 jalapenos, and
LOTS of Salt into the food processor.
So far, so good on my quest of cutting the grocery bill and making delicious dinners. Hope you enjoy!



Monday, July 22, 2013

Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Rice (For Under $10)

I spent today deep cleaning my house because 

1: I have nothing else to do :)    
2: It really needed it.

Dexter woke up very early so I was lucky enough to get him down for a nap by 10! Anyway, long story short, by the end of the day I was pooped. And even though I worked all day to make the house sparkle, I don't get paid for doing it, darn, and this mamma still had to make dinner with items around the house.

I bought a bunch of Knorr Rice Sides when they were 10 for $10 at Kroger and still have two or three in the pantry. I saw that I had a broccoli and cheese flavor and I knew I had chicken breasts in the freezer, sounded like dinner to me. I added in a couple other ingredients to make it more substantial and creamy and it still came in under $10, my kind of dinner.

NOTE: My husband loathes, let me make that clear, LOATHES, leftovers. No matter what it is the only leftover he could possibly, maybe eat would be pizza. Newsflash! He offered to take leftovers of the rice to work for lunch tomorrow. I know we're trying to save money with the recent purchase of the truck by my husband not coming home for lunch and I know he told me that from now on he wanted me to make him lunches but I still like to think the rice was so good that the anti-leftover king wanted to eat my leftovers tomorrow. Wishful thinking.

Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Rice

1 Knorr packet of Cheddar Broccoli rice
1 Chicken breast
2 Tbsp Ranch Dressing powder, divided
1/2 cup frozen broccoli
1/4 cup Mozzarella cheese
2 Tbsp cream cheese
2 Tbsp Mayo
4 slices Cheese of your choice, I used Muenster
Cooking spray
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350. Coat the chicken breast in 1 tbsp of the Ranch dressing powder, salt and pepper. Bake, in an 8x8 pan sprayed with cooking spray, through, about one hour. When the chicken comes out, leave the oven on and let it cool slightly while you cook the cheddar broccoli packet by the directions; when it's time to put the lid on the rice and let simmer, shred chicken and mix with the frozen broccoli so it thaws slightly while the rice cooks.

When the rice is finished, mix in the chicken and broccoli, cream cheese, mozzarella, mayo, remaining Ranch powder, salt and pepper.
Spray the pan the chicken was cooked in with the cooking spray and transfer the rice back into the pan. Top with the sliced cheese and pop into the oven for around 10 minutes to warm through and melt cheese.

I asked my husband to take a picture of
me putting the sliced cheese on the
casserole and it turned into a photo shoot.
Most of the photos taken were not appropriate
for posting. Gotta love him :)
Take the rice and put it onto a rack that has been moved up to the highest setting and broil on high until the cheese is slightly brown and bubbly; around 2 minutes. Serves four. 

My son is allergic to all dairy products so he had spaghetti for dinner. Irrelevant? Yes. But I wanted to include a picture of him!
Thank goodness it was bath night!
Enjoy, everyone!



Thursday, July 18, 2013

My Fitness Pal

I am going to be blunt. I am someone who has struggled with my weight my whole life. Why? You know, I really have never pin pointed why. Growing up, I never knew the negative effects calories could have on the body and I guess I was never really taught. While I know I didn't have it awful as a child, I will say that I had to deal with some circumstances that not all children have to deal with so perhaps this played some role. Who knows; in my family it was never an issue.
I  must have been about 10 here.
I was extremely lucky that I didn't have to deal with bullying, at least to my face. I could only imagine being myself growing up in today's society where bullying is so much more prevalent and in my opinion, worse. I cannot say, however, that I wasn't bullied behind my back and never knew about it but I guess what I didn't know, didn't hurt me. I never had boyfriends but I always had friends.
My first car! I was just 16 here.
Not until body image started to matter to me, around 10th grade I would say, did I ever try to seriously lose weight. Maybe I just grew up but in a matter of about five months I lost approximately 60 pounds. Did I starve myself? No. I had a new job that kept me busy during the afternoons so I would not snack and I started eating slightly healthier; I remember using a small plate instead of a dinner plate at dinner and that really helped. Regardless, after dropping the weight, I entered into my first relationship which lasted for three years (from about the age 16-19). 

When we went our separate ways, which is a whole other story, I ended up progressively taking better and better care of myself. I worked out a couple days a week and seriously began watching what I ate. I lost about 20 more pounds before I started a new relationship, during which I continued to lose and then gain back slightly. Thinking back, I felt really body image pressured in that relationship which was probably not the best situation to be in; when that relationship failed, I was very depressed. I was in college and did what any other crazy college kid would do in that situation, drink. I was drinking a lot and when I wasn't out drinking and partying I was studying and going to class, which left little time for eating. I would have to say that this was most  likely the lowest weight I had ever gotten to, around 125.

 Around this weight, I met my husband. We spent two weeks together until he had to go back to where he was working, in England, and wouldn't be home for six more months. I have to say during this time I gained a lot of weight back. I was living in substandard conditions, had very little money, and was taking 18 credits in school. Not to make excuses but I think my situation along with my husband, then boyfriend, living so far away, hindered my weight. When my husband arrived home for our wedding, I had gained about 20 pounds. He's awesome and never said a thing but I know he noticed.

When I got pregnant with my son, I weighed 150 on the nose; when I gave birth I weighed in that day at 199. I hated gaining weight during my pregnancy even though I knew it was what was best for my baby.
After I had Dexter, I was determined to get down to a smaller size than I was before I got pregnant. I breastfed my son, who is allergic to milk, again, a whole other story, so me not eating any dairy so that it would not pass through my breastmilk and breastfeeding combined got me off to a great start. Over the course of a year, and a lot of hard work, I got down to 142! Yay! My son just turned a year on June 7 of this year, so this was not very long ago.
My son and I a couple days before
his first birthday.

 In April, I put my husband and I on a diet and downloaded the app that got me on the right track to eating healthy. I LOVE and thank the My Fitness Pal App so much (for those of you without an iPhone or other smart phone OR would just prefer, it is available online for tracking as well.)

How it Works

When you first start an account with My Fitness Pal, you will be asked to enter in a plethora of personal information.

Once you have entered all the information, the app will calculate a daily caloric intake for you in order for you to achieve your goal. It will also ask you a time line of how long until you want to lose all the weight and remind you every day when you are done logging what you will weigh in X-amount of weeks if you eat and work out every day as you did that day. 

Not only does it track your calories, it tracks salt intake, fat, etc. See below.

Every day, you simply plug in what you eat. Most foods are already programmed into the app; like today for breakfast I had Kroger brand instant oatmeal. I didn't have to enter any information from the box because it was already available for me. As well as most foods being available for plug in, most exercises are already there too so you don't have to calculate calories burned. If you go on a mile walk, it will tell you how many calories you burned, such a nice feature!
Select which meal you are adding to,
then simply search for what you ate.

Along with plugging in what you eat, you plug in any exercise you do as well. Your burned calories will be added back into your allotted food calories for the day as you can see in my photo above.

If you have your own homemade recipes, like I do, it is easy to add a recipe. You will be asked how many people the recipe serves, plug in all the ingredients, then the app will divide the total number of calories into how ever many servings in the recipe which lets you add one serving easily to your dinner slot or what-have-you.
For example, the Tuna salad option above
is a recipe I added. Where as the Steak N Shake
chicken fingers was already readily available for me
to chose. Your recent, frequent, and recipes are
conveniently available for you at the top
so you don't have to do a lot of searching for something
you eat regularly.

I don't have a scale so I'm at a bit of a disadvantage and don't take advantage of another great feature the app offers. If you weigh in once a week and plug it into the app, it will track your weight loss and help you see yourself achieving your goals.

For extra motivation, you can add friends who are also using the app. Your exercise and daily totals will be displayed like a Facebook news feed. It also reports when someone hasn't logged in a while so you can reach out to that person and offer some support they may need. Or you can use this app privately, as I do and will only see yourself in your news feed. You always have the option to share to Facebook as well.

The BEST part about this app is that it puts you in check REAL quick. If you have 1200 calories for the day, that's all you have. It makes you realize how much you really were overeating or maybe even under-eating. I guess its really similar to Weight Watchers, but wayyyyyyy more simple, in my opinion. And it's free.

For more information, visit their website or ask me, I'd be glad to help and I'd be glad to add you as a friend for support. Good luck! It's so possible.



PS! I am also trying the 30 Day Squat Challenge. I just started yesterday. Give it a try, it's fun, hehe.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Rich and Creamy Queso Dip with Hamburger

In light of the All-Star Game tonight, GO AL!, I thought it would be nice if I made some kind of "sports food". I love queso dip and my mom makes the best queso so I decided to text her and ask for the recipe. It turned out so good! Rich, creamy, and cheesey! I hope you all enjoy!

Rich and Creamy Queso Dip with Hamburger

1 lb hamburger
1-2 jalapenos
1 small onion
1 lb Velveeta, I used the Mexican variety
1 can tomato sauce or 1 can chili without beans (see side note)
1 packet taco seasoning

Dice the onion and jalapeno. In a large fry pan, brown the hamburger along with the onion and jalapeno.

Look who helped!
Doesn't he look so thrilled?!
Meanwhile, dice the Velveeta and add to a crock pot along with the can of tomato sauce so the cheese can begin to melt.
My mom said you can make this dip on the stove top in a large soup pot but you will have to mind the temperature and stir more often. Drain the hamburger mixture and add back to the frying pan. Add the taco seasoning and cook further according to the directions. Once the hamburger is finished, add to the crock pot with the cheese and tomato sauce, stir.
I let the queso cook on high heat for about 30 minutes because I was starving. But my mom said to let it cook for at least an hour and a half on low to let the flavors meld. I'll let you decide. I like to eat mine with the cupped tortilla chips because I find it holds up to the dip a lot better, my husband likes the yellow corn rounds. So, I'll let you decide on the chips as well.
Serve with toppings of your choice. 

Side note: If you prefer a more chili queso, my mom said sometimes she adds a can of chili without beans to shake things up a bit. Me? I love both!