Monday Randomness: Yard Sale, Painting and Chocolate Cake with Cookie Butter

This whirlwind of a weekend went by so fast.

But my husband and I both agree that it feels as if a burden has been lifted.

We got rid of SO MUCH stuff between the yard sale and donating to Goodwill.

And to top it off we made about $125 on stuff that we never use.

Friday night my mom and sister came over with a bunch of stuff to sell too; we got it all organized and priced by about 9pm.

After they left,  I remember I never went to the bank to get change for our sale, so off to the grocery store I went.

Thankfully my sweet cashier at Publix was able to give me a bunch of ones which made my life easier.

Then Saturday I woke up to find several people at the end of my driveway waiting for me to start my sale.

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My niece Bailee sold donuts to our customers, and had everyone laughing.

At one point she told a gentleman that he could have a doughnut, but he had to pay her $50.:)

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By 11am we were winding down; so we just threw everything that didn’t sell into our cars and then drove to the donation drop off about about 1 mile from my house.

Then we all headed to Chickfila for a celebratory lunch of chicken and fries.

By about 1pm I felt that if I didn’t take a nap I would be sure to fall asleep in my dinner.

Two hours of comatose sleep later, I felt refreshed.

Then it dawned on me that we were supposed to bring food to church on Sunday for potluck dinner.

So I quickly ran to the store to buy stuff for grilled chicken Ceasar salad, homemade pimento cheese, and chocolate cake.

When I got home Joe was working on the shelving over the washer and dryer. He removed all the old shelves (and I can’t wait to show you the transformation).

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I quickly grilled chicken, and made dinner, and whipped up the cake and pimento cheese.

Bedtime.

Sunday we served in the children’s program at our church, then had potluck lunch.

Then we came home and tackled the paint of the basement and new light fixtures that I bought for $1 at Goodwill).

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And 7 hours later we went to bed.

But the main point of this whole post is that I took my mom’s chocolate cake recipe and swirled 1/2 cup of Trader Joe’s cookie butter into the batter.

If you don’t have Trader Joes in your area this product is similar.

AMAZING! It tasted like a chocolate cake made for fall. Try it!

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Meal Plan Review- Week 1

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I always love when I see other’s meal plans because it inspires me to get a little more organized (at least in my dreams) when it comes to cooking.

 So I am going to attempt a new (semi) regular post.

I am going to post my “meal plans.” But I am not going to post what I plan to make, but rather what I made the previous week and why it worked/didn’t work mainly because my meal plan usually gets developed as I push my cart around the grocery store.

Sound okay?

Well here goes.

  • Day #1 Country Fried Steak with gravy, creamed spinach and roasted potatoes

I don’t really have a recipe for this one. I just make it like my mom does. If you need a recipe this one is pretty close.

I totally cheated by using frozen creamed spinach. The roasted potatoes were simply bite-sized potatoes with a little olive oil, sea salt, and pepper. Baked at 425 for 25 min.

  • Day #2 Steak Fajitas with grapes and baby carrots

I basically threw some onions and thin steak strips into a skillet with some store bought fajita mix.

Quick easy meal, but nothing to write home about. I forgot how much I dislike prepackaged seasoning mixes.

  • Day #3 Sriarcha Roast Chicken with grapes and romaine salad with Yum Yum dressing

We really liked this meal. It was incredibly easy, and I soaked the chicken in the brine the night before. Beware: this is probably too spicy for kids.

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I told my husband he would live a long time after eating this meal because it had so many preservatives. After all was said and done I really did NOT like this meal. It was so rich and cheesy that it actually made me feel ill, even though I reduced the cheese in the sauce. I will stick with my old mac and cheese recipe from now on.

I use this diced ham in so many things ( soups, quiche, pizza etc). The packages frequently goes BOGO at my local store. I always keep an extra package in the freezer.

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I make this on a regular basis using whatever veggies are on sale. It is really quick and so tasty.

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We love the rice noodles because they are great as a substitute for rice, but they are also great in soups. The noodles cook up SO FAST. I buy them at my local Publix. This one package will cover 2-3 meals for us.

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Recipe Review: Sriracha Roast Chicken with Sriracha Gravy

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I came across this recipe for Sriracha Roast Chicken Recipe with Sriracha Gravy on the White on Rice blog a couple months ago and have not been able to get it out of my mind since.

I like a roast chicken and all, but the thought of brining and then basting with Sriracha sounded too good to be true.

So I decided to give it a whirl last week.

And it was DELICIOUS!!

So good, spicy, juicy, and incredibly flavorful, as a good roast chicken should be.

It was kind of a cross between BBQ chicken and buffalo chicken wings.

I made a couple adjustments to the recipe because #1 I really don’t care for cooking whole chickens #2 I can’t just leave a recipe unchanged. It’s against my creative nature.

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did, and don’t skip the overnight brining step. It’s SO worth it.

Sriracha Roast Chicken with Sriracha Gravy

adapted (slightly) from White on Rice

Ingredients:

  • 4 bone-in chicken breasts
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • black pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar (use distilled white vinegar for gluten free)
  • 1/4 cup Sriracha (use less if you prefer less spice)
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce (use Tamari for gluten free)

Gravy Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups chicken stock, heated to a near simmer

Directions:

  • Rinse chicken and place in a large stock pot. Cover with a water and add salt and brown sugar. Cover and place in fridge for at least six hours or overnight.
  • Preheat the oven to 425° F.
  • Remove chicken from brine and pat dry. Season the chicken with pepper.
  • Thoroughly mix the oil, ketchup, rice wine vinegar, Sriracha, brown sugar, and fish sauce in a bowl.
  • Baste the chicken with the Srirarcha mixture. Place chicken in a shallow baking dish and cover with foil.
  • Roast for 20 minutes. Remove foil and baste chicken again with sauce. Return chicken to oven, uncovered, and roast for another 25 minutes, or until juices are clear when you cut into the breast or the temperature in the thickest part of the breast reads 165°F when probed with a thermometer.
  • Remove the chicken breasts from the oven and allow to rest for at 15 minutes.
  • Pour the remaining  juices from the baking dish into a small saucepan. Add the remaining Sriracha mixture to the saucepan. Over medium/high heat, whisk in the flour. Whisk in the chicken stock and simmer until the gravy thickens, about 4 minutes.
  • Serve the chicken breasts with the Sriracha gravy.

 

  • Note: I think this recipe would also work great with boneless skinless chicken breasts, just reduce the cooking time by 5-10 minutes.

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Home Improvement: Doing Laundry While Trying Not To Fall Down The Stairs

 

 Over Labor Day weekend, we worked on getting our laundry area in shape. (yes I am just getting around to posting this)

In our opinion, the washer and dryer needed to be reversed because it was impossible to reach into the dryer because of that lovely half wall.

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This is one of the strangest things about our house. Our laundry area is in the stairwell.

And if you are not careful or get overly aggressive at fighting stains you can fall down the stairs. I have not done it yet. But I have come close twice.

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So Joe pulled both the washer and dryer out of the stairwell, and then went to Ace to get longer hoses and drains so we could switch the placement of the laundry appliances.

Try not to be overwhelmed with this gorgeous area of our home. And after this photo I cleaned like a crazy woman. 10 years worth of dust and lint was behind that dryer!

 

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Then we decided to add a cap to the half wall because #1 it does not looked finished and #2 the edges of the sheet rock had worn away and the metal edging was exposed.

And that edging is SHARP! I have torn many shirts as I tried to contort myself into strange positions to get to the back of the dryer.

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We went with a  6″ stain grade board. Not only does it looks much more finished.  but it also does not rip your clothes which is always a plus.

Doing laundry is bad enough, but ripping your clothes while doing laundry is just more than I can take.

I plan to stain/varnish the board, add some nice shelving and maybe a big piece of casual art to help make the area feel a bit cozier.

Wish me luck!

Easy Apple Butter Cinnamon Rolls

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I made a huge batch of apple butter last week.

And as soon as I was finished, I thought this stuff needs to go in some cinnamon rolls.

So that is exactly what I did.

And if you don’t have homemade apple butter laying around, just use the store bought stuff.

Once the dough thawed, these rolls literally took me about about 10 minutes to make, then I let them rise overnight in the refrigerator.

Apple Butter Cinnamon Rolls

Makes 9 rolls

  • 1 lb thawed loaf of Bridgford White Bread Dough
  • 2 tbsp softened butter
  • 1/2 cup apple butter
  • 2 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar

On a lightly floured board, roll dough out to a 8 x 12 inch rectangle. Spread 2 tsp butter over the dough and then add the apple butter. Mix cinnamon and sugar. Sprinkle mixture over dough. Beginning with 12-inch side, roll tightly in jelly-roll fashion. Cut rolled dough into 9 equal slices. Place slices in lightly buttered 8 in square or 9 in pie pan.  Cover and let rise until doubled in size (or overnight in the refrigerator).

Frosting (optional)

  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 4 ounces, cream cheese
  • 1/2 pound powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

With an electric mixer whisk together all the frosting ingredients until smooth, then set aside.

Bake rolls at 375° for 20-25 minutes or until light brown. Cool slightly and then top with frosting.

PS. I use this frozen dough for all sorts of things including pizza crust and calzones. It’s so easy to work with!

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Monday Randomness: I’ve got nothing, so here are some pics

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Beach vacation last week.

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Huge batch of apple butter ( apple butter cinnamon roll recipe coming this week).

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Waiting at our regular Friday lunch spot.

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Rehearsal dinner for my husbands brother.

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Working out Sat am in preparation for all the wedding food:)
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Saturday evening wedding in downtown Greenville.
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Me and the best man.
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The happy couple during their first dance.
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Applebutter cinnamon rolls.
Happy Monday.

What I Am Listening To- Podcasts

I have never been a huge music person.

I took piano for 12 years and can still barely play.

I am not really into listening to music either, unless I am in a weird mood.

I like to listen to people talk though.

When I was a little kid I would just sit around at dinner and listen to the adults talk (I was a weird kid).

I consider it educational since my (self diagnosed) ADD takes over when I try to sit down to learn new things.

Anyway, podcasts are now my thing.

I listen to them when I work and when I clean cook.

There are two that I listen to regularly.

One is not really education unless you count the newest sale items at Nordstrom and SteinMart.

But I find it incredibly entertaining especially on slow days at work.

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Melanie Shankle (author of Sparkly Green Earrings and Antelope in My Living Room) and Sophie Hudson (author of A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet and Home is Where My People Are) host the BigBooCast.

After listening to these two ladies for so long, I feel like they are my friends even though we have never met.

And their conversation so remind me of conversations I have with my sisters, and sister-in-law.

I dare you not to laugh.

And the other is a podcast on small business/blogging/decor/entertaining/healthy lifestyle.

It’s well rounded, and I LOVE the people Jess chooses to interview on the JessLivelyShow.

(I don’t endorse all the religious views in the interviews)

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Go check them out, and let me know what you think.

Home Improvement: Slightly More Organized than the Aftermath of a Tornado

This post is not really educational or inspirational.

Let’s just call it a human interest story.

So if you are human and interested keep reading.

We have a two car garage attached to our house.

We also have too much stuff (not to be confused with “junk”, per my husband).

And combined with my propensity to over-buy on paper towels and TP it has created quite a storage problem.

So we knew we needed some sort of shelving, but had yet to come up with good solution.

So our garage just continued to be slightly more organized than the aftermath of a tornado.

Until we were perusing the aisles of our local Pier 1 (which was closing because it’s moving to a more convenient location on Woodruff Road, insert sarcastic tone),

 my husband came over to me and said, “I solved our shelving problem.”

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There, at a steal of $50 for a 4ft section, was our solution.

Huge wall displays from our local Pier 1.

Heavy duty, deep, and solid wood.

And now we have the fanciest garage shelves around.

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We still have a lot more stuff to organize on the shelving but I just LOVE all the storage.

Monday Randomness: What I Have Been Cooking

Believe it or not, I actually have been cooking recently.

I just have not been blogging about it much.

But here are a few things I have been making.

(click each photo for the full recipe)

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My pot roast was always a bland failure until I tried this recipe. The key: salt and pepper at EVERY step. And I LOVE the fresh rosemary.

If you want to serve the roast with a simple gravy, here’s how to do it.

In a skillet over medium high heat add 2 tbsp of butter and 2 tbsp of flour, whisk together for 2 minutes.

Add 2 cups of the stock from the roast and whisk it the flour mixture.

Reduce the heat to medium, and stir until thick and smooth. Serve immediately.

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I have tried lots of apple crisp recipes, and hands down this is my favorite. I love that there is SO much oat topping (because that’s the best part anyway).

I frequently half the recipe because it makes A LOT.

Bring on the fall food!

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My sister Annie shared this bread recipe with me, and it is DELISH.

Five ingredients, that’s it. (and you don’t have to use bread flour)

Toasted with honey and butter. TO DIE FOR.

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And I whipped up another version of this salad the other night.

And even the boys ate it. It’s so so tasty and light!
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I tried out these quick smoothies on Saturday. So good and no sugar:)

Happy Monday!

Before and After: A Simple Home Makeover in NC

I worked on a casual arts and crafts style home last weekend in Hendersonville (about 1 1/2 hours from where I live).

It was one of those jobs that reminds me why I do what I do.

Love love love jobs like that.

Most of the issues the homeowners were having was not knowing where to start.

They had attempted several accent walls, but quickly decided that was not the look they were going for.

After meeting with them for 3 hours about a month ago,  I put together a simple plan of attack.

Unify the spaces with one paint color, and add a fun color to the exterior door.

Remove excess furniture that made the rooms seem small.

Add fun inexpensive accents and incorporate as many family photos as possible.

Re-purpose the “formal” dining room which the owners never used.

And of course all this had to be done within their budget. 

Foyer- before

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Foyer- after

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Dining room- before

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“Dining room”- after

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Blank wall in living room- before

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Office area- after

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I also “fluffed” several other areas in the home.

Overall, it was a simple job that brought a lot of satisfaction to me and my clients.

And most importantly it made better use of all their spaces.