Saturday, April 30, 2011

Redesign and Renovation

When we moved in to our 60 year old house we knew we would be doing some painting and renovating. We did the easy stuff first like Greg changing all the door knobs and I changed all the cabinet handles. Painting was on the easy list too, tedious, but not hard. Now after almost 3 years in this house we have decided to tackle the tougher jobs. We put crown molding in our living room and kitchen and then Greg got the "tiling bug".

I have been bugging Greg for ages to change the tile in our bathroom. We only have one full bath in our house, so it pretty much needs to stay clean. But with the super white tiles, 2 black-haired dogs, and my long brown hair the "stay clean" goal was out the window. I would get down on my hands and knees scrubbing up all the mess from fixing my hair and all the kids (and grown-ups) baths, but literally 5 minutes later it looked gross again. Sadly, this project kept on getting put off because neither of us had ever really laid tile. We had watched a lot on TV, and my motto on home renovations is "we can do that". But keep in mind when I say that I know we CAN do it, but it will probably take triple the time and double the cost.

So, this past weekend Greg and I decided that now was the time. We went and looked at some tile and then started taking a hammer to the ugliness. After about 5 minutes of pounding away at one tile, it finally started coming up. If all the tiles were going to take this long, we were in some serious trouble. After the first corner of the tile came up, Greg caught a glimpse of green underneath. I assumed that it was just that green board that you put down and then tile on top. As we started to chip up more tile, we came to discover that it wasn't green board, but actually the original mint green tile that was put in when the house was built in 1958.

I thought it was sort of retro, but there were some major chips in it and sadly couldn't be kept. We looked up on the internet of what we should do, and our info told us to just tile over the original tile. No problem there, less work for us!

We bought all our tile, my dad was nice enough to come help start laying on Tuesday and now 5 days later, we are ALMOST done laying all the tile. We still have to grout, seal the grout, put down quarter-round, caulk and then put the toilet back on. I think our "To-Do list" is longer than our "Accomplished" list, but I guess that's what we get with 2 jobs and 2 kids. We'll eventually get it done, and now that we only have one toilet, I REALLY appreciate two toilets. Pictures to come soon!

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Big Cookie Project: Week 2

My friend, Kelly sent me this next recipe. It doesn't contain any sugar, but does have jell-o pudding in it. I went to the store and bought the ingredients. When Greg found out that I had bought HEB brand, sugar-free jell-o, he was in an uproar. The HEB brand didn't bother him (have to be brand-loyal) but he hates when I buy sugar-free things, he thinks there is a fake taste about it. He promptly went to the store and bought Jell-o brand, with not an ounce of artificial sweetner in sight. So, here you go:

1 pkg. instant chocolate pudding

1/2 cup butter

1 egg

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 cup flour

6 oz. chocolate chips

Bake at 350 degress for 10-12 minutes

Just to let you know, I doubled the recipe, who doesn't like a lot of cookies, right? Also, the dough was a little thicker than regular cookie dough, so when I spooned it out, I sort of flattened the cookies. Mine didn't really spread that much in the oven. Also, Kelly mentioned that you can make different flavor cookies with different flavors of jell-o; such as pistachio flavor (Kelly said it was really good).

The cookies came out very chocolate chippy, which is something that I LOVE in a cookie, so for me, I give them two thumbs up :)

Remember, if you have a cookie recipe that you would like to pass on, send it my way!

Saturday, April 23, 2011


My title lied, Nolan did not make any goals, but we did start soccer! We signed Nolan up for peewee soccer for 3's and 4's thinking it would be a good team sport and great to run around.
He had his first of six practices this past Tuesday, and it was honestly so funny to watch him. The first station was sprinting and doing grapevines. He did pretty good, not super fast but he was out there trying his best. The second station was just learning how to kick the soccer ball with the side of your foot instead of the toes, and then it started getting funny.

One minute I'm talking with a friend, the next minute I turn around to see Nolan sitting in the grass. I walk over there with some water and ask him what's going on. He replies,"I'm done, I'm tired." But we were only 10 minutes in to our 50 minute practice! I gave him some water, tried to pump him up with encouragement...when that didn't work I bribed him with a snocone. That worked, so we moved on to station 3 with a little better of an attitude. I don't blame him about being tired. He was so excited about soccer that he took no nap, really didn't eat much of a snack and it was pretty hot.

Before I go any your right is the cutest picture EVER of Nolan's friend who plays soccer with him. They go to school together as well and have a blast there:)

We finished up with soccer and we thought Nolan would be down for the count for the night. We get in the car and he starts talking like a mad man of how fun soccer was and he wants to go play again RIGHT NOW! We reminded him that he was just at soccer and pooped out and wanted to go home after 15 minutes.

I guess his memory got a little foggy from all the heat. We stopped at the snocone place with his friend (boy in first picture) and they looked so cute in their little shinguards and soccer socks. I think the best part was that all he had were good memories of soccer practice. He doesn't remember how hot he was or how thirsty he was, but he is genuinly looking forward to Tuesday when he gets to go and play again. I will definitely remember to bring plenty of water and feed him a big snack before we go. Cross your fingers that he lasts for more than 15 minutes this time!

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Big Cookie Project: Week 1

Ok, I admit it, I have already broken a rule on week 1. But rules were made to be broken, right? I made myself feel a little bit better about already breaking a rule by rationalizing that this recipe was a tad different from how I usually fix them. I told myself that I was NOT going to make a chocolate chip cookie, but after seeing a delicious recipe on the back of the Ghirardelli bag of chips, I succumbed and made them anyway. I think the thing that made these cookies were the kind of chips I got. I bought the Ghirardelli 60% Cacoa chocolate chips. They are very flat compared to regular chips, almost like melting chocolate chips.

Here's the recipe:

2 1/4 cups sifted flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup butter....I used 1 cup crisco. Gives it a better "cookie" shape and you can't taste the difference. I usually do this with all my cookies :)

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar, packed

2 tsp vanilla extract...This is where I changed my recipe. I was out of vanilla extract and used almond extract. You can taste a slight difference, but not in a bad way

2 eggs

2 cups Ghirardelli chocolate chips

1 cup chopped pecans

Mix ingredients. I am not specific in what order to put things in. I usuallly do butter, sugar, then eggs. Then, I just throw in all my dry ingredients.

Bake at 375 degrees for 9-11 minutes.

They tasted pretty good and looked very lovely as well. Hope you like this recipe. 51 more to come!!

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Big Cookie Project

If you don't know me, I like to bake. Not just for fun but when I'm stressed as well. This time last year it was TAKS season and I was baking up a storm just thinking about my 3rd graders taking an all-day test.

I'm not too particular on what to bake. Bread is ok, but you have to wait all that time and let it rise. Cakes are all right, but icing gets a little messy. If you made me choose, I would vote for cookies. Cookies are great! You can eat one every time you are in the kitchen, they make your house smell yummy and they come in DOZENS, not ONE cake or ONE loaf of bread. I recently inherited "Martha Stewarts Cookie Book" (thank you Mary Kay) and have come up with a plan:

I will bake one kind of new cookie every week. At the end of the year I will have baked 52 (i know, that's a lot of cookies) different kinds of cookies. Then, I started making some guidelines that I would have to follow:

1. No break-and-bake cookies...that's basicallly cheating

2. No cookie that I have made before (sorry chocolate chip cookie, but I'll see you in a year).

3. They have to meet the definition of a cookie: a small sweet dough rolled, sliced or dropped on to a flat pan (cookie sheet) and baked in the oven. This means no no-bake cookies or big cookie cakes to save on baking time.

Some problems I thought of:

1. I will have a TON of cookies laying around the house if I'm baking a batch every week. Hence, I will have to run more to compensate "taste-testing" all of the cookies

2. Do I even have 52 cookie recipes that I want to try? There are that many recipes out there, but I bet they aren't all winners.

So, if you are reading this and thinking that you have a fantastic recipe to share: please do! If I am on top of the ball, I will be posting pictures and recipes once a week and tell you how the cookies came out.

If anyone wants to join me in this fantastical journey of baking, please come along for the ride!

Happy Baking!

Friday, April 15, 2011


Where has all the modesty gone in this world??

Just to make sure I got the word right, I looked it up in the dictionary. Modest is the showing regard for the decencies of behavior, speech, dress. So, I guess to sum it up it means that you are moderate in everything you do. Not covered from head to toe, but not in a string bikini either.

Have I now become a prude in the short time of motherhood? I also looked "prude" up in the dictionary. Prude is the excessiveness of being appropriate in dress and speech. Am I there yet? No. I wear jeans to church, sandals to any function, and if it doesn't fold and say "100% cotton" on the tag, I usually don't own it.

Why the sudden "modesty kick"? Shorts season! I've been searching for shorts that are not to my knee or mid-calf, but not showing my whole butt either. I went to Target the other day still seeking the perfect pair. Then, one pair caught my eye...not for being cute, but for being way over the top. They were low waist, cut off, with an inseam that was non-existent. Then, there were zippers on both sides of the jeans. Zippers for what? I guess breathing room? I don't know. (if you own these pair that I have described, no offense, but they would never have looked good on me in a million years). Who might buy these? Then, like a bolt of lightning: Mallory might want to buy these in 10 years.

I can already imagine it: Mallory is 11 or 12 years old, wanting clothes that don't cover enough and I deem inappropriate. The fighting I eventually give in and just get it for her? Well, to be honest, I have another 10 years to decide that. I just keep thinking that over the years clothes have shrunk in an alarming rate to where they are almost non-existent. What styles will be popular when she hits middle school?

I remember when spaghetti straps were against school policy when I was in middle school. Then, when I worked at a middle school for a little bit, the girls were so grown up with their clothes, and spaghetti straps were the least of the dress code offenses.

Greg pointed out that Mallory is always dressed from head to toe, which was totally different from Nolan. When Nolan was born it was right at the beginning of summer and was super hot. Nolan would lay around in onesies or just in a diaper. Mallory is dressed in pants, a shirt, socks, shoes and her hair is in a clip or ponytails. Is it because she is a girl? Maybe, I really don't know.

All I know is that I'm already worrying about the little things of what she will wear, how people will treat her, if she will be picked on. But it's what I do now with her that will form those later years. Hopefully Greg and I will do a good job so we don't have to worry about all those little things down the road.

PS. The picture I added doesn't really have anything to do with modesty or prudeness, I just thought it was a cute one of Mallory and I :)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Food Chain

Lately, I've seen a few a things that make me question if I would have ever survived when we had to actually hunt for food. If I really thought about it, I really wouldn't have had to hunt, I would have been a gatherer because I was a woman. But my job still would have been to clean, cut and cook the meat. I think through Natural Selection my weak stomach and lack of being able to kill animals would have weeded my genes out a whole long time ago. Whenever I saw the first "Survivor" season and they were forced to eat bugs and rodents, I thought I would have given up in two seconds to forego having to eat something like that. Or, when I watch "Weird Eats with Andrew Zimmern" I can't believe he actually eats some of that stuff. It's funny to think that in other countries those items are delicacies, but here we would never eat them. For example, when he was in Asia for an episode he ate "Stinky Tofu". Tofu itself is not very appetizing, but put the word "stinky" in front of it and it sounds delicious! (not so much) The look on his face after taking one bite spoke the words for him. His face said, "That's the most disgusting thing I've ever tasted!", but his words were,"mmm....that's interesting." Here are the things I've viewed: I usually don't watch Oprah. But I did watch the episode of how the biggest meat slaughtering plant did their job cleanly and efficiently. I've never really thought about how my meat gets from the field to the grocery store. It's always there though, cut nicely for me, or wrapped in saran, ready for me to cook when I get home. Anyways, they gave numbers of how many cattle they kill, and it was shocking! Then, the cameras took you through the process of what the cattle went through. The only part they didn't show was puting a big bolt in the cow's temple. I thought at first that this was the means to kill the animal, but this just renders him of no pain. Then, they cut the cow at a large artery and let him bleed out for a few minutes. I know, too graphic! But it definitely makes me think next time I chow down on a burger or steak. The other thing I saw was watching my carnivorous fish. We bought an Oscar fish awhile ago and only fed him fish food, but recently started feeding him live fish. I know this is a natural process, but it still gives me the willy's watching him. My friend was over the other day and there were only two fish left. I felt bad for them, because when they tried to swim away, it was actually only 2 feet and they would hit a glass wall and have to turn around and do it all again. We were mesmerized by this whole process and got lost for about 10 minutes just watching him. We finally turned away for what seemed like a split second, and the poor fish was gone! We were a little disappointed, but then Oscar was nice enough to spit the fish up and then eat him again for us. Hhhmmm....doesn't make me very hungry for Gorton's fish sticks. I guess my mind has been on food lately trying to figure out healthy options and meats for the kids. As you can see, I'm having a little bit of a hang-up on processed meats or fish. I suppose Nolan is too, because he doesn't really eat any meat as well. Sadly, he doesn't even really like the kiddie stuff, such as chicken nuggets or hotdogs. He's a pb&j kinda guy. Sorry if this entry made your stomach do a flop. It was on my mind and I had to tell somebody! By no means am I going vegan, but it does give me a little bit more perspective of where my food came from other than HEB.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

But, but, but...

Now that Nolan is almost four, tons of words escape his mouth everyday. Mallory is right around the corner, I feel like she might be a bit of a talker herself (don't know if this is a good thing or a bad thing). So, out of all the words and phrases that come out of my family's mouths, here are some that drive me CRAZY:

1. "But, but, but..." - This is a favorite of Nolan's lately. It might prolong his bedtime by a good 30 seconds, but in that short period of time he can fit in atleast 30 "buts". I keep on wanting to tell hime that, "Yes, we all do have butts, now let's move on to a new subject." I don't think he'd get my humor.

2. "You're a making me mad!" or "You're not my friend!" - These go in the same classification because they can be replaced with each other and pretty much mean the same thing. My job is to be a mom, not a BFF, and yes, I might make you mad sometime in the process.

3. "I can do it myself"- You might think that this phrase is a blessing, but when Nolan opens the fridge door and tries to pour himself a drink, a big spill is iminent. When he comes out of the bathroom and has gone all by himself and still has his underwear and pants around his ankles, it makes me laugh.

4. "AAAHHHH"- This comes from Mallory whenever she is very happy, sad or mad. It takes a trained eye and ear to figure out which one she means.

5. "You know what I mean?"- This comes from Greg ALL the time. I guess he uses these words a lot of times during the day with his employees to make sure they DO understand what his is saying. I am the smarty pants who always replies,"Yes, I do know what you mean!" This drives Greg crazy as well. When this happens my point is made and my message has gotten across to him.

Things that I would never get tired of hearing:

1. "I love you"- These are the best when I don't have to prompt Nolan with an "I love you" first. They are few and far between, but music to my ears.

2. "You're not pretty, you're beautiful!" - Nolan has only said this once, it melted my heart, and I think I gave him anything he wanted all day because I appreciated it so much.

3. "I can do it myself"- Like I said above, this can mean trouble, or can be great. When Nolan accomplishes things by himself without tearing the house apart, I love these words.

4. This isn't a phrase, but more a look...when Mallory's eyes get really big and she gets really excited. It's like her whole body is saying,"I'm so happy!"

5. "Wow, the house looks really clean, and you look beautiful after a hard day's work"- No, I have never actually heard this, but it might be nice to hear it once..(hint, hint)

It's weird how the same words can mean totally different things by just the way you imply them. I love listening to Nolan as he learns how to speak in different tones and learns different phrases to get his ideas across to me. Hopefully, I'll enjoy Mallory's words as well :)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


When we moved in to our house, we knew one of the things we would have to do was paint, ALOT. The living room and kitchen were a poopoo brown and gold color. If you are thinking to yourself that doesn't sound so bad, you should have just looked up and seen that the ceiling was painted as well...ggrr. Apparently it was "in" to paint ceilings a color, and now we had the pleasure of painting it back to a less gold color. In the end, we decided to paint everything white, excluding to accent walls that we left brown. It stayed like this for awhile, and then the hand-prints and dirt marks started showing up EVERYWHERE. I guess we dropped the ball on getting flat paint that showed every mark and wouldn't wipe off. We should have gone the route of satin or eggshell where I could wipe off the dirt.

I think while painting the house, we have given Lowe's hundreds of dollars on paint supplies. This is in part to my laziness of cleaning off rollers. After using a roller, I would throw it away (I still practice this, but have not needed to paint as often).

Back to painting the living room...2 and 1/2 years later, the white is not so white and so we ventured to Lowe's yet again. I cringed at the thought of paying another $35 for a gallon of paint where the experienced Lowe's person promises that it will cover in one coat (which it never does) and eventually I run out before finishing and then have to pay more money for more paint. Lucky me, we passed by the Oops! paint and saw a color that would work. It's not my ideal, but it was $5 vs. $ stingy side got the better of me.

Now, my white walls (well only one, because I had to take a break) is now a sort-of tan color. It looks ok. I have learned from past mistakes and got an eggshell, so hopefully it will clean a little bit better.

My double-painting habit did not stop at the living room and kitchen, it also included our bathroom. It started out taupe, went neon yellow (it was REALLY bad), and then went to a tan. If you've ever painted a bathroom before, it also takes forever because there is so much edging and not a lot of quick roller painting.

Our bedroom has only been one color, but a did a huge no-no. When we moved in, one of the walls was completely wall papered, and they had a border around the rest of the room. I got all the wallpaper off of the wall, but had a hard time getting off the border because it was so tedious. I said screw it and just painted over it. Eh, it doesn't look too bad. Can I notice it? Yes. Did I really care at that point? No.

The kids' rooms have been completely painted. Mallory's by choice, Nolan's room was because he drew all over his walls and it wouldn't come off. No, they were not permanent markers, Yes, I was VERY mad. One day, I will look back on this and laugh, I have not reached that day yet.

Our back room went from a dingy dark color to a happy light green or mint. Thankfully, this room has only been painted once, but we did have to paint the ceiling as well.

So, if you have gotten this far on reading my painting timeline, here is a little rundown of what I have found out about myself through all this rolling and edging:

1. I don't like painting when forced to do it (found this out from Nolan's room)

2. I am indecisive about colors, hence the multiple painting jobs

3. Greg suggests I use a lot of blue tape, because I am a horrible edger

4. Lowe's is making a good profit on my lack of decorating abilities

Have a good time painting!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Amigurumi Addiction

So, I was perusing google like I sometimes do when I have a few minutes of spare time and I came across Amigurumi. It's the art of crocheting little animals/dolls/food/whatever you like. I was in a crocheting slump. I WAS making baby blankets, but at the end, all I have is a square of a lot of yarn. It really doesn't look like anything other than a four-sided shape. I was happy when I found this and it inspired me to get going again. To the left is the most fun amigurumi that I have done so far. When I made him, Nolan and I named him Mr. Elephant (not original, I know, but we like simple and to the point in our house). Nolan was a little sad to discover that Mr. Elephant has left the premise to hopefully be bought for another little boy or girl. This whole obsession was started with trying to find something special to make Nolan for his big "4" birthday. He has recently gotten in to MarioKart and loves Mario and Luigi. I found a pattern for these little mushroom guys and they were pretty easy to whip up. If you see one of these guys swinging from a mirror in an F-150, it is Greg's truck:) Greg is a fan of Mario as well, and I bet is pretty pleased that Nolan is following in his footsteps. Even though Nolan has already claimed these, I am keeping secret that I am making him Mario and Luigi dolls for his birthday (if they turn out okay). Sidenote: If you are a fellow-crocheter you can find Nintendo patterns for free online, due to copyright laws, they can't charge for them without written permission from Nintendo. There are some not-so-great patterns, but there are some really good ones floating around in the cyber world. To the right are the first things that I made. Previous to this amigurumi obsession I was on owls. I combined these two things and viola! we have amigurumi owls!! I just love their big eyes and round bellies, reminds me of little chubby babies, I guess. They have also left the Jones household, but Nolan hasn't really noticed yet. I hope that I stick with this hobby. These aren't just squares, but they are cute, loveable, huggable animals (and video game characters). On the list for future creations is a panda bear, Mario and Luigi (as mentioned above) and a Goomba...another character from the Mario games. He looks like an armless mushroom with small feet and a uni-brow. I love having projects with cute products. There's always something satisfying of working diligently on the same thing over a period of time and then having this object in your hands that actually looks like it's supposed to! Hope this has planted a seed of creativity for you, I know I'm itching to get some yarn out. Happy Creating!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Easter and His Eggs of Many Colors

Now that it is April 1st, the countdown begins for Easter. Brightly colored eggs, baskets filled with fake grass, and my favorite...the candy!

Our big project around the house right now is to paint some of our white walls a beige color, but I wanted a quick project to cheer up the house and get in to the Easter spirit (and cheap is an added bonus as well). I saw in a Family Fun magazine idea of covering the eggs with tissue paper and watered down glue. The list began in my head: eggs:check, tissue paper: check, glue:no, but Mod Podge would do.

I got to work of very gently making two holes in either side of the eggs and blowing out the yoke. The only problem was that I can only do this project as the eggs are needed. I didn't want a whole bowl of 12 yokes sitting in my fridge, and I knew I wouldn't be able to separate two eggs to make cookies out of the bowl. So, this whole project might take a little bit longer than I thought....

I ended up doing one egg very multi-colored and decided it wasn't for me. Then I started to do eggs solid colored. I keep on trying to think of recipes with eggs in them. I'm on my third batch of cookies. A friend suggested that I make a quiche, which takes almost a dozen eggs, but cookies taste so much better than a quiche :)

This projected reminded of when I was little and my mom would blow out eggs and put faces on them. We would make little beds for them in those plastic strawberry baskets and treat them like babies, carry them around everywhere. I keep wondering if I'll do the same thing for Mallory in about 7 or 8 years.

Back to my you can see from the picture I am placing the eggs in a glass vase to put on our dining table, and my vase is not very full! It's not even half way and I've already used 6 eggs. Seems to me that Greg might be buying me some more eggs at the end of the week to finish the long as I'm done by Easter, I'll be happy!