It Takes a Village: Operation Recover the Ottoman

PTL for helpful friends.  And a spirit of adventure.  And cocktails.    

These things came together recently to form a little something that I like to call Operation Recover the Ottoman.  

What follows is something that is kind of like a tutorial.  Or not.  You probably shouldn't expect to learn much from this. But you might...if you can use your imagination.  

I was so pleased that my friends Win, Lauren, Swayze, and Loren came to help recover the dragonfly beast of an ottoman.  Partly because I had no clue what I was doing, but mostly because I just enjoy their company.  We gabbed for a little while, ate lasagna, and had just enough drinks to not worry about messing up.  

I started out with 3 yards of home decor fabric.  This was more than enough for our ottoman which measures about 65 inches by 45 inches (with the tape measure whipped around the sides...does that make sense?)  I also took this opportunity to buy myself a 14$ staple gun from the Wal Mart.  Heck yeah.  

Since I did not remove the original fabric, I scrounged up a few yards of white fabric that I had laying around to make sure that the red did not show through.  We spread the home decor fabric wrong side up on the ground, centered the white fabric where we wanted it, and flipped the ottoman on top of that.  After unscrewing the legs, it was time to trim up the fabric to a more manageable size.  When you trim up the fabric, make sure there's enough to still cover the piece.  Duh.  Captain Obvious, here.  

OK.  So there really aren't any more pictures of the process so this is where you'll have to use your imagination.  

The first thing we (or rather, they...I was kind of standing back at this point) did was cover the short sides.  All we did was pull the fabric up really really tight and staple it in place.  

For the long sides...you, um, just do it like you are wrapping a present. You know....wrapping the short sides of the present?  

Annnnnd that's the best example I have of it.  Just fold it in, then whip the flap up and staple that flap.  I swear it will make sense when you do it.  And if it doesn't work then just pull the staples out and give it another shot.  

Screw the legs back it, make sure there's no rogue pieces of fabric hanging down, and place it in its new home. 

Ta dahhh!  

The room is already so different.  Especially since that rug is gone.  Lauren suggested that we stick it with the rest of our Christmas stuff...

I made the pillows for the couch in, no lie, a matter of minutes using this tutorial.  

Now all we need is a rug (I'm thinking two runners bumped up side by side), a pillow for the WBC (possibly a really big Euro with a monogram) and a tray for the ottoman (lucite, baby) and I'll be happy as a clam in this room. 

By George, I will make this rental house a home....


French Fry Love

I knew that my husband really and truly loved me when he said that one day, he was going to throw me a french fry party.  Like a party.  With a bunch of french fries.  And toppings.  All for me.  

Or at least I think he said that once.  Or maybe I'm being delusional.  Either way.  I love a fry. 

Naturally, when I spotted these little beauts at the Wal Mart, I had to pick them up and give them a try.  

Yes, these are more a red potato than a french fry, but they are the bomb regardless.  Pick some up next time your plate is beggin' for a fry!

3 oz (about 8 potatoes) for 3 pp. 

Worth it.   


Taco Pizza

The fatty in me would like to move next door to a Pizza Inn and eat their buffet on a daily basis.  

I'm just being honest. 

There's something about Pizza Inn.  It reminds of half days at school, like Harvest Fun or Homecoming.  Everyone would pile up into a booth and chow down.  Those little garlic cheese squares.  The pizzerts.  The taco pizza. 

Oh, take me home taco pizza.  

I decided to make us one with the leftover pizza crust from the ham-stravaganza that recently went down around here.  Sure glad I did!    

Taco Pizza 

1 lb of extra lean ground beef
1 envelope of taco seasoning
1 pizza crust 
1 can of fat free re-fried beans
2 cups of reduce fat shredded cheese, Mexican blend
1/2 cup of chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup of sliced olives
4 green onions, chopped

Preheat the oven to the temp directed on the pizza crust package. 

Cook the ground beef until done, add the taco seasoning and continue cooking according to the taco seasoning package.  

Layer the re-fried beans, the ground beef, the cheese, the tomatoes, the onions, and the olives on top of the crust. Bake according to the directions on the crust.  

Cut into six equal slices.
Serving size 1 slice
Points plus 11 


Party Pecans :: Two Ways

I love a sense of community.  I think that's why I love a small town.  And why I love church.  Aside from meeting my spiritual needs, my church also serves as a sense of community.  

Being a Greenwood transplant and an introvert, I felt a little reluctant about diving in and getting involved.  Loving to use food as a coping skill, I've dealt with this anxiety by signing up to bring food to things.  If that's wrong, I don't want to be right.  

My church recently hosted an Antique Show.  It was lovely.  There was a preview party the night before it started; I signed on to bring pecans.  Because who doesn't love a pecan?  

Actually?  Me.  I don't love a pecan.  Or didn't love a pecan. I do now.  Especially ones that are smothered in things like butter and sugar. Delish.  

So here ya' go!  Party pecans....two ways!

Toasted Pecans
recipe from Mary Neff who got it from Seasoned With Love (The Hollandale First United Methodist Church's Cookbook) 

1/2 cup of butter
4 tsp worchestershire
1 tbl of garlic salat
1/2 tsp tobasco
4 cups of pecan halves

Preheat the oven to 300. 

Melt the butter in a skillet.  Add the rest of the ingredients except for the pecans.  Mix well and then add the pecans.  Spread on a large baking sheet and bake at for thirty minutes.  I stirred mine half way through. 

Remove from the oven and spread them out on paper towels to dry.  

Spiced Pecans 
recipe from my sister Jennifer who I think got it from a Starkville JA Cookbook.  I should find out for sure, huh? 

1 tsp of water
1 egg white
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup of sugar
1 lb of pecan halves

Preheat oven to 300.  

Beat the egg white and the water together until it is foamy.  Add in the salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, and sugar.  Combine well.  Stir in the pecan halves.  

Place on a big cooking sheet and bake for thirty minutes, stirring half way through.  

Remove from heat and spread out on paper towels to dry. 


A Weekend in Starkville and the Cotton Mill 5 K

Happy Monday guys!  Hope you had a sweet weekend.  I know I did.  I traveled to Starkville and put in some QT with the Cougle family.  They are pretty awesome. So are tricycles.  

Doing a bit of exploring. 

Trying to convince me to ride on the back of her tricycle.  

Sisters. Can't live with em, can't live without em. 

Entertaining the idea of walking.  And rockin' that wavy hair.  

Despite the chilly chilly weather, the Cotton Mill 5 K and Cotton District Arts festival were lovely.  Family, running, and art buying...three sure fire ways to have an awesome day.  

Alex, Jennifer, and my dad came to support.  Here's a little pre-race family picture. Alex was dressed the part in her hot pink MSU track suit.  Get it, girl.  

You know I'm happy when I do buck teeth.  Don't believe me? Go look at our wedding pictures.  

In all fairness, I was waving real big to Alex.  

And here's proof that I didn't run into a building after the first hill. If you can, please take note of the 9 boy scouts screaming WATER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WAAAAAAAAAATER!!!!  Apparently, there is some type of a hydration patch.  And they were all going for it.  

Congrats, Starkville, on being really cute and hosting really cute festivals.  And congrats to my calves for not quitting on me.  


A Few on Friday

Soooooooooooo not to be annoying but there's still time to donate to the children.  You know, the children of St. Jude? So just click on that underlined link...if you feel led!  

So the children of St. Jude make me think of the country music marathon, which makes me think of running, which makes me think of my plan for tomorrow.  Running in my very first race ever!

Figuring that a half marathon with 30,000 participants might be a bit much for my first ever race, I decided to sign up for this one.  Very excited!  There are hills in Starkville, so I'll be able to be at least slightly prepared for how hard my butt will be kicked in Nashville.  Pray for me, ya'll.  

There's a pretty gnarly storm predicted for tomorrow, so that's something else to think about.  

Storms make me think of outside which makes me think of mosquitoes which makes me want to get some of these:

Mosquito repelling plants! Gotta get me some.  Brandon did a killer job of cleaning off our little brick patio yesterday and I can't wait to do some serious sitting out there.  Unfortunately, we have mosquitoes the size of bats so it's always necessary to have a good plan in place.  Maybe these plants + deet + a mosquito net might do the job.  And maybe a few frogs.  According to yahoo, they eat mosquitoes.  



A Change Will Do You Good

I got some snake skin flats.  

And some violet jeans. 

And a few new tops from target.  

And nine inches cut off of my hair.

Wait, what?  Yeah.  It needed it.  Bad.  Looked like a cat had been chewing on my hair.  

Here's the before: 

I mean seriously.  Look at those ends.  What the hey.  

Here's the inspiration:

Hey Heidi.  What up.  Who does your hair, girl? 

Heather-my-hair-stylist seemed a little nervous about the picture that I'd brought.  I can be a little delusional about the abilities of my hair.   

Once she checked out my picture, she relaxed and said this bob was a possibility. 

So here's the after: 

Hey, bob! 

So there's my bob!  My change...it did me good.  I've got to learn how to use a round brush and actually fix my hair now, but I think I'm up for the challenge.    

There's something about shaking things up that is good for the spirit.  New clothes, a hair do, snake skin flats, a fresh eye brow wax, a new coat of paint on a wall, a different bottle of wine than you are used to.  So go ahead...change something! 


Szechuan Chicken

Grab your Tums and your glass of milk.  Nursing mothers and small children, you should probably sit this one out. Mom, look away.  

Flaming hot is the only way to describe this one.  But good.    So good.  If, of course, you can handle the heat.  

Yes, that was a challenge!  I just bowed up at you, virtually of course.  

Will you take it?  Will you hunt down rice noodles and chili garlic paste and make some homemade Szchuan chicken?  Do it, dude.  Just do it.  

And seriously, it's really hot.  Almost to hot.  Ease up on the crushed red pepper and the chili garlic paste if you are heat sensitive.  Remember, you can add more but you can't take away.  Measure twice cut once.  A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.  Ok, I'm done.  

Szechuan Chicken 
adapted from The Realistic Nutritionist

2 tbl of olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 package of chicken breast tenderloins, sliced skinnier than they are
5 cloves of garlic
10 oz of broccoli slaw
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tbl of chili garlic sauce (like this one) 
2 tbl soy sauce
4 oz cooked rice noodles

Heat 1 tbl of olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat.  Add the onions, cook until soft.  Add the chicken and the bell pepper, cook until chicken is done. Remove from the pan and set aside. 

Heat the other 1 tbl of olive oil in the pan.  Add the garlic and the broccoli slaw.  Cook for about 5 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes and the garlic sauce and cook for another minute.  Add the chicken, the soy sauce, and the rice noodles and cook until combined.  

Serving size 1 cup
Points plus 7 

What's your favorite take out item to make at home?  


Barbacoa Beef

Working in a town other than where you live can for sure take some getting used to.  When you make it a teeny-tiny town, things can get even more complicated.  

I'm talking about lunch, people.  When you have to pack a lunch every single day, it can get a little old.  I'm over a plain turkey sandwich, the thought of subway pushes me over the edge on most days, and Church's chicken offers few, if any, point friendly options.  There's also a place called Inner City...it's has cheeseburgers that are so good it's not even right.  Again, not an option when I'm trying to stay at my fighting weight.  

So this means I'm a brown bagger.  Or a plastic bagger, in reality.  It's me, some tupperwares, and a trusty wal-mart sack...just trying to make it in Sunflower county.  Every morning I pack breakfast, snacks, and lunch.  Planning is essential.  Variety is a must.  It takes practice, focus, discipline. 

Wait, what am I talking about?  Packing lunches?  Yeah.  OK so maybe it's not that intense, but it is something I have to think about.  

My favorite thing to do is make a big pot o' something at the beginning of the week and go from there.  Usually, it's something made in a crockpot.  Sometimes it's a cheesy casserole or a burrito.  This week, it was Barbacoa Beef via Skinny Taste.  Filling.  Tasty.  A hit with the men.  (Or, rather the man.)

And FYI, barbacoa beef smells phe-nom-i-nal while it is cooking.  It's all in the marinade.  And FYAI, it travels well and is great left over.  Score one for the brown baggers!

Barbacoa Beef

3 lb eye or round beef, chopped into four inch cubes
5 cloves of garlic
1/2 of an onion
1/2 of a lime, juiced
2 chipoltle chilies in adobo sauce (can use more, just beware)
1 tbl ground cumin
1 tbl ground oregano
1/2 tsp ground cloves
salt and pepper
bay leaves
1 tsp oil
1 cup of water

In a food processor combine the garlic, onion, lime juice, chilies, cumin, oregano, cloves, salt and pepper. 

Meanwhile, cut the meat into four inch hunks.  Heat the oil in a really big pot and brown them on high heat for a few minutes.  Add the liquified spices, the bay leaves, and the water.  Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for about four hours.  Check occasionally to make sure that it has enough liquid. Remove the meat, shred with two forks, return it to the pot, adjust the seasonings. 

Serving size 4 oz (makes about nine servings)
Points plus 4

I served this wrapped up in a low carb tortilla with reduced fat cheese and sour cream.  It would also be great served over rice!  


Ham Quesadilla

I'm back with more ham recipes.  

Get fired up, people!  

It was kind of like divine intervention when this month's Real Simple featured the following article:  10 Ideas for Baked Ham. 

Thanks, Real Simple.  You always know exactly what to say. 

I got two out of the ten recipes done with this last ham.  The tropical pizza and this here quesadilla.  

Part of me wants to buy a new ham and knock out the other eight.  But I wont, because then the ham wont be special anymore.  

Like how they first time my mom made Frank Ann Stein's chicken it rocked; the 18th time she made it, it was all the sisters and I could do to keep our shiz together at the dinner table.  

So, no, I'll keep this article tucked safely away for the next time I get myself a ham.  

Ham Quesadilla
adapted from Real Simple

1 low carb tortilla
1/2 cup of diced ham
onions and peppers, cooked in cooking spray until soft
1/2 oz of pepper jack cheese
olive oil

Layer all ingredients on one side of the tortilla.  Fold it over.  Brush both sides with a little bit of olive oil.  

Broil for about 2 minutes on each side.  Be sure to watch it because it gets done quick!

Makes 1 serving
Points plus: 6

:: Save the leftover onions and peppers for breakfast the next morning!  Scramble an egg, add onions and peppers to the pan to heat through, throw it on a tortilla, and top it with 1 slice of reduced fat cheese for a whip - A five point breakfast!


A Few on Friday

I'm struggling with focus today.  Not that I'm trying to accomplish really important goals or anything; it's more that I keep getting distracted by looking up rib recipes.  

I don't really even like ribs all that much. 

But I've decided that I'm going to throw a memorial day bash. There will be ribs, a flag cake, a summer salad, dips, and a signature drink.  


Because Brandon and I got a really awesome salad bowl this week for a wedding gift and it's just screaming Memorial Day bash.  

See?  Scattered.  Salad bowls aren't really related to Memorial Day, but I'm going with it.  

So ribs.  Do you make them?  

Here's what I've found so far:

Who Loves Ya Baby-Back Ribs by Alton Brown

Beth's Melt In Your Mouth BBQ Ribs  

Regardless of what we eat, I'm probably going to require people dress like this: 

Why on earth not?  So ya'll start looking for your patriotic gear. 

And start gearing up for Margarita Popciclses.  Maybe not at the Memorial Day Party....a Cinco de Mayo something or other perhaps? 

Perhaps. Here's a recipe.  You should make them and tell me how they are.  

Hope you have a great day!  It's Friday the 13th but don't let that stop you from being awesome.  

And remember......

find it here


Ham, Ham, Glorious Ham

A wise woman once said "an eternity is two people and a ham." 

I couldn't agree more.  

Below is the glorious ham that I served on Easter Sunday to my huz-ban, his mother, his cousin, and Win.  So that's five people.  Five people were nourished from this ham. 

But it didn't stop there.  The ham kept going.  We ate it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks. And did we get sick of it?  No.  No we didn't.  Why?  Because there's about 8 million different things that you can do with a ham.  

Like make a tropical pizza....

Weeeeell.  Don't mind if I do. 

Tropical Pizza
adapted from Real Simple

1 pizza crust (I used Mama Mary's traditional crust)
1 can of diced tomatoes, drained
4 oz ham, chopped
2 cups of part skim mozzarella cheese
small can of pineapple chunks, drained

Top the pizza crust with cheese, then tomatoes, then ham, then pineapple.  Cook according to crust directions. 

Divide into six equal slices. 

Serving size 1 slice
9 points plus  


Delta Magazine Stuffed Eggs

I think I blacked out on Sunday and ate these like they were grapes.  

This led to serious food coma.  


But heyyyyyy.  It was Easter!  Which means it didn't count.  

These were Delta Magazine's version.  Different than the ones I'm used to but still pretty darn tasty.  Give them a try!

Classic Stuffed Eggs
from Delta Magazine Cookbook

6 hard boiled eggs
3 tbl of butter, room tempreture
1 tsp worchestershire suace
1 tbl maynoaise (Hellman's recomended)
1 tbl of dijon mustard
juice of half a lemon 
1/8 tsp of ceyanne pepper
salt and pepper 

Remove the shells from the eggs, remove the yolks from the whites.  Line the whites up on a pretty serving piece.  

Grate the yolks into a large bowl.  Add the rest of the ingredients except for the paprika.  Beat until smooth and fluffly.  Place the mixture into a ziplock bag, cut one of the corners off and pipe it into the egg whites.  Sprinkle with paprika. 

Makes 12 eggs 


Reeses' Eggs

Time it is a flyin' by.  It's already freaking April!  Crazy town.  

With all of the running and the going and the doing, it's easy to wonder where it's gone and what you've done.  You feel tired, disconnected....living for the next weekend and wishing for a a longer break.  

This is why sometimes, you just have to take a time out and make a homemade Reeses Egg.  

And then you realize that the stuff that you bog yourself down with really doesn't matter all that much.  What matters is doing the things you enjoy, enjoying the things you do, being with your people, trying the recipes that you've pinned to your "sweets" pinterest board

This is life, people.  

Taking time to stop and try the Reeses eggs.  

You can find the recipe here. They were pretty tasty!  If I made them again, I would do less powdered sugar and more peanut butter.  

I would probably always do more peanut butter.  Just as a general rule.  In every situation.

How will you slow down this week?  


Monday Lessons

We should be talking about cheesy quinoa macaroni and cheese.  

But we're not.  Instead, you're sitting here looking at a picture of my creepily wrapped middle finger.    

I was just so excited about the possibility of the cheesy quinoa mac and cheese that I forgot to watch where the knife was going.  

You should always watch where the knife is going.  

That's our Monday lesson.  

Later, taters.  


A Few On Friday

So Wednesday night I sliced off half of the tip of my finger trying to slice some garlic.  But I'll tell you more about that another day.  

Since the left milddle finger is essential in typing correctly, this post is going to be made up of lots of pictures....

Hunting and pecking is absolutely for the birds.

Here are the Easter Eggs we dyed at work!  Fill a cup about half full of water, add about a tsp of vinegar and a few drops of food coloring and viola!!!  Colorful and happy...these make me grin.


And these make me grin.  But in a the wants kind of way.  

find them here

I'll also take a few of these....

find it here

I totally have the wants today.  I guess its because I'm missing part of that finger and am therefore feeling very unfulfilled.  

Ha no.  That's not it.  Its because I have no spring clothes or jewelry because I'm to cheap to spend money on new clothes or jewelry.

If you submitted me to be on What Not To Wear...I wouldn't be mad.  I'd happily take that new wardrobe and hairdo.  If you would have seen what I wore to work yesterday then you wouldn't be sitting here reading this...you would be filling out the application for me.  Seriously...it was absolutely that bad.  

Well so much for all pictures, no words.  

I'm off to hunt and peck some more.  

Have a happy happy Easter!!  

Winner, Winner, You Can Make a Fried Chicken Dinner!!!

Thanks a million to all who entered the giveaway!!!  I loved reading your comments and am completely with you gals that love baked macaroni and cheese.  

That stuff is legit.  

And now....the winner!  

So here's how I did it so you know I wasn't cheating....

Errbody was assigned a number; said number was entered into the magic number picker.  

Enter a lower limit: 
Enter an upper limit: 
Random Number:

The number that it generated was "9".  Why it's not showing up in that pink box...I'm not sure!

Soooooooooooooo congrats Allison!!!  

Happy cooking, girl. Send me your mailing address! 

Everyone else....thanks for reading and entering. You guys seriously rock! 


Spicy Parmesan Shrimp Skillet

Don't forget to leave a comment on this post for your chance to win the Delta Magazine cookbook!

This meal is like Quick Draw McGraw.  

OK so after some research, I've learned that Quick Draw McGraw was a cartoon horse that walked around on his back legs like a human.  So maybe that's not an appropriated simile.

But it's fast.  I was able to put the marinade together in like 8 minutes.  I know this because I have started to play this game where I try to get as much done as I can in the small window of time I have between getting home from work and going to my once every two weeks part time gig. It's kind of fun.

And weird.  It's fun and a little bit weird.  

Fun and a little bit weird is my favorite.  

Spicy Parmesan Shrimp Skillet
adapted from How Sweet It Is

1 lb shrimp, peeled and de-veined and tails removed
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes 
2 cups of whole wheat pasta

Combine the olive oil, cheese, garlic, brown sugar, soy sauce and red pepper flakes with a whisk.  Place the shrimp in a large zip lock bag.  Pour the mixture over the shrimp. Marinate for at least thirty minutes.  Toss it around every once in a while to make sure that the shrimp is coated.  

Prepare the pasta according to the package directions. Drain and set aside.  

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add the shrimp and cook until it's done.  Add the pasta to the skillet and toss well.  

Serving size 1 cup (makes about five)
Points plus 5

Serve with additional Parmesan and green onions, if you fancy.