boobs before the tube

proof that dressing smart doesnt necessarily mean looking smart. 

is the TV coma face something i should be worried about, or is this standard?


a lamp unto my hall

here is a riveting and comprehensive pictorial history of our hall:
left: builder's white from 2006-2009 right: simmering mochachino (made that one up) from 2009-2012

back in the fall of 2009 i was JUST getting started doing and making and being crafty and creative and this quick paint project made my little heart so happy. well, 3 years and a much different style aesthetic later, i had come to HATE the doo do brown hallway. its horribly lit anyway and the brown was not making things better. if only i was a proctologist, this would be just the living end for me.

so we finally bit the bullet and used a recent date night to tackle the painting of this bad boy. we chose the same gray that is in our sexy new living room just to keep it simple and take away the risk of a brand new color. (if youre keeping score: thats 6 rooms in the house that are gray and 2 that are blue). 

i have also been stockpiling cheapo wooden frames from goodwill and spray painting them white in hopes of putting together a gallery wall made of naptime diaries scripture prints.  i struggle reading my bible and memorizing scripture so having it as visible and eye-drawing in my house seems like a win on several levels.

when the paint was dry it was time to find the gorgeous prints new homes. 

i've seen the pinterest tutorials for gallery walls where you make paper cutouts of all your shapes and practice the layout. that is a million percent the opposite of me. i just start pounding holes into the wall and go from there. so things are a tad willy-nilly (and i will keep adding...ran out of hanging hardware) but i LOVE it.

 another view with the two on the other side of the hall entry (i told you the lighting situation is undesireable in there)

 the view coming out of our bedroom (and into the fray)

 my most favorite frame/print combo (its not dingy, i'm just dumb at cameras somehow)

ALL of the children in this house must walk in the word. even those made of cabbage

 i feel like keeping our eye on the jesus ball is going to be important in raising this one. so...this is fitting




i needed a very non-thanksgiving meal last night. we have been eating mayflower-ish food since wednesday the 14th (at judah's preschool feast) all the way through this weekend. we had 5 different events that were for the season in 11 day, with several belt-notches worth of leftovers bridging the gaps on off-days.

now, if i see another casserole i will probably casse-hurl.

so i made my [newly] reigning favorite sandwich of all time (just discovered a few weeks before the turk-pocalypse). 

the sweet & spicy caramelized onion BBQ grilled cheese (recipe here):

y'aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaall... just, yall. 

somehow, there is no bacon on this thing and i dont even miss it. but it's probably also the only extra ingredient i would allow someone to suggest adding without being offended in my soul. because, this thing....it's perfection as is.

just eat it.


tutorial: cheap and easy DIY rustic tealight centerpiece

. .
got wood? well, you will after reading this post. because it's that awesome.

this is another tutorial born from a friend's pin that i thought would link to a project but really just spit me out adrift and free-floating in the cytoplasm of the internet (tastes like LOLZ!). 

after searching thoroughly, i couldnt find the post anywhere and decided to just wing it and jump in by myself, making it up as i went. it turned out well, so i took some pics of the process. and here we are, you and me.

i'm not a big fancy lady. well, i am a big lady, but fancy? not s'much. martha stewart might as well be a comedy writer based on some of the shenanigans she recommends DIY'ing for her endless inane parties. ("make a unique st. patrick's day wreath using wool spun from the hair of actual leprechauns! what's that?  you cant afford to buy the hair in diagon alley? tee-hee looks like you gotta catch 'em all!" or "hollow out the cloven hoof of a silver unicorn; wrap in burlap and serve over $57 prosciutto slices. you're guests will stroke out with adoration!"  note frome martha: good luck ever pulling off ANY of these make-believe projects pictured here, you middle-class knaves!)

in my lifestyle magazine the word "tablescape" will only be used sarcastically (though "manscaping" will be dead serious). so i dont focus a lot on presentation. but at the ONE party we host every year, out thanksgiving potluck, i do usually marshal all of my inner-contessa for and put forth one centerpiece. 

for the past 6 years it was easy and wonderful: a bag of fresh cranberries in our pretty tiffany crystal bowl (a wowzas wedding gift) with floating tealights mingled in. easy, festive, crowd-pleasing. 

then, a few months back jesse, that ham-fisted neanderthal, BROKE our bowl. i was all, sackcloth and ashes! the nicest, classiest thing in our house was gone. it's like it couldnt bear the shame of its tiffany-ness living in our dukey squalor any longer and just jumped--shattering its crystal heart into a google of shards all over our kitchen.  the bad news for it is that we never washed it, so it's unbaptized and is destined to spend eternity in house-object hell (along with wire hangers, jumanji, and everything from the oriental trading catalogs...so many grosses). 

so i needed something to put on the table this year.  here's where we ended up:

i think if an alien species made its first contact with the human race via pinterest, they would assume that we had trees brimming with free wood pallets and seas abounding with vinegar.  these two things are ALL OVER pinterest. the vinegar apparently should be used on every surface you encounter in life, ever and always!  VIIIIIIIIIIINEGAR, people!!!

but the pallets perplexed me. all of these projects made it seem like i should be tripping over these unwatned, free pallets at every turn. but i never seemed to find any! it's like the universe was disqualifying me from pinterest by not dropping scads of unwanted pallets in my lap.

the one day this summed, we joined the ranks of the chosen. we saw a bunch of pallets stacked up beside the water treatment plant near our house and pulled in to ask about them (no one was asking me if i wanted any, so maybe i had to ASK them...i dont know! there's no pin on FINDING pallets!). we scored 4 of these beauties and have been roosting on them awaiting inspiration.

this project is the first time we have used one (and we really could have used any wood).

what you'll need:

-power drill 
-tea lights 
-1.5" flat bore drill bit
-measuring tape
-a piece of pallet wood*
-20 minutes (knock this baby out while you're waiting for your orgasmo to firm up!)

* or similarly sized plywood, branch, or plank. ours was about 40" x 5" x3 /4"

 here's the bit i got for a few bucks in the hardware section of home depot. 

 some pallets seem to be made of really processed plywood, but luckily, one of the ones we got had these awesome, untreated pieces with the bark still on the edge. score one for rusticity! we went at it with a crowbar and mallet and it surrendered up this gem.

 lay out your tealights atop the piece of wood getting the spacing arrangement and layout you like (the original pin had these not in a line but in a zig zag...go for it!). 

i spaced mine by placing one at the linear center lengthwise and then spacing the centers 5" apart in either direction. 

use a pencil or score a little mark with your drill bit where you will want the centers of your tealights to be.

 attach that drill bit. feel like a scary badass with your new weapon.

line up the pointy tip of your bit with one of the marks you made. stand on either side of the drill on the wood for stability...this can get rowdy.

 starting SLOWLY, get the drill spinning. the pointy tip of the bit drills a pilot hole ahead to keep everything centered, and then as it gets deeper, the boring edges come up against the wood.

 think of the bit as a scraper and less as a drill. pushing down really hard to speed things up doesnt help with this guy. you want to apply a little bit of downward pressure to keep the hole being dug, but not too much. they key is to stay centered. if you started pushing down too hard off-centered, the thing will go crazy and start to try to buck you off as it gouges a wonky, un-level hole. slow and steady and centered is the path to righteousness here, folks.

since my wood was only 3/4" thick and my tealights were 1/2" (and i wanted them to sit all the way down in the wood), i knew i would have to let the center tip of the bit actually drill THROUGH the wood before the scraper/borer part would reach the desired depth. to keep the tip from drilling up against my garage floor, i needed to elevate my wood.

lacking 2 identical blocks, i went with the next best thing:

two copies of the red tent

you know how there's that weird fact about assassins all being found with copies of "catcher in the rye" on them? well, this book is my version. i LOVE the red tent and have read it maybe 10 times. i have given this book as a gift to at least 5 friends and so now whenever i find a copy at goodwill that is in nice condition, i snag it up for  my stockpile.

fear not, world leaders, the only thing i plan to assassinate is many plates of cheese fries.

so if you get a copy of this book from me and find wood shavings in the pages or footprints on the cover, this is why.

 elevated by literature. it should be so with us all.

 when i get close to my desired depth, i check the side view. once that tip emerges, you need to be careful because you can bore clear through the piece of wood if you keep going much farther. (which wouldnt be tragic because you could still put tealights in the holes, but when you picked up the wood, they would be left behind). the pointy tip is the harbinger of the scrapers. heed it.

you have now created a nice circle hole and a quite pleasing pile of pencil shavings.

 blow off the chaff and you're left with a lovely little inverse tinker toy seat for your candles to relax in

i removed the little metal casings from my tealights to make the look more rustic (because in the days of yore, you best believe the chandlers didnt case their tealights...just ask johhny tremain.). its a perfect little fit!

repeat the process for the rest of your marked locations.  dont stress too much about perfect spacing or depth. you can get away with almost anything that is branded as "rustic!"

 light that bad boy up and feel awesome that no leprechauns lost their locks in the service of this little holiday gem.

and hey, maybe keep an eye on this thing at all times when it's lit...because uh-doy, wood + fire, yall. 

go forth and conquer! feel like martha, but without that pesky house-arrest monitoring device tan-line and the billions of dollars!

. .


Pumpkin Orgasmo: The Greatest Holiday Dish Since Turkish Delight

I'm self aware enough to admit that if 3 siblings and I went into a magic wardrobe leading to Narnia, I would hands-down be the Edmund of the group: the jerky snot who runs off, betrays his people and ruins everything. 

Just like Edmund, while on my self-absorbed fairy-bender, I would run into the White Witch. To get win me to her side she would do some of her albino house-elf magic and offer me a snack. An enchanted snack consisting of anything my cold, pouty heart could think of.

Now, C.S. Lewis' Edmund chose Turkish Delight, which I have to assume is authentic English fare and therefore unfit for human consumption. So here's where I am better than Edmund (but still in desperate need of Aslan #BecauseMetaphor).

If I was snowbound with a rumbly belly in the land of always-winter-but-never-Christmas, I would look right into that witch's face and demand my tummy's desire: Pumpkin Orgasmo.

I come to you today, not as Edmund, but in the role of the White Witch (a title that nails me on at least 1.5 out of 2 facets), to bestow upon you this gift. But rather than getting the Jesus-lion crucified, it is the culinary equivalent of proof that He is good and loves us all. #BecauseManna

Brace for afterglow.

I first had this dish 6 years ago. A friend brought it to our annual friendsgiving potluck and it stole the show and my heart. I think she called it "pumpkin cobbler," and that was just fine, but it didn't go far enough. So I rebranded this sexy baby with a far more descriptive surname (note: when I take this to church or school Thanksgiving feasts, I tend to let it just be "cobbler" because of, you know, propriety/cowardice). But I assure you, the orgazz can't be silenced.

I secured the recipe from my buddy, adapted it a little bit, and now I make it 3 or 4 times a year to insane fanfare. This is by far the lowest investment / highest reward dish in my arsenal. It really is stupidly delicious and just bananas easy to put together. 

It tastes just like October, November and December mated with heaven and this is their sprog.

You can even make most of it ahead of time and refrigerate until you're ready. I mean, now or later, an orgasmo never disappoints.

What's that you say? You hate pumpkin? Mmmkay. Yeah, me too, usually.  I actually loathe pumpkin pie. But when in Narnia, everything is different.

I need you to just roll with it. 

Trust me. 

When people say they won't try my pumpkin orgasmo because they aren't pumpkin fans, I have an almost physical panic rise up inside of me. I have to resist the urge to bodily grab them and force them to eat some. Focus on the orgasmo, I want to say, not the pumpkin.

So if you're hurting for something to impress your in-laws, to wow an office party, or put a neighbor to culinary shame...this is it. I am giving you the magic. Use it only for good.

Ingredients (serves 15-20):

3 eggs, beaten
1 (15 oz.) can  pure pumpkin (not pie filling)
1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk
1 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 (18 ½ oz.) package yellow cake mix
1 ¼ cup butter, melted
1 cup chopped nuts*

*walnuts, almonds, or pecans work great--or any combo of them

1. preheat the oven to 350° (unless you want to make it ahead and cook the next day or so)

2. In a mixing bowl, combine the first 8 ingredients (eggs through vanilla) and beat until mixed

3.  Pour mixture into ungreased 13x9 inch baking pan or 2 pie dishes (if you are making ahead stop here and refrigerate until your ready to cook it...just gently re-stir the mixture when you get it out of the fridge, it will be in liquid form)

You will get to this point and think, "nuh-UH! that chick is a liar. This looks like runny cold mud liquid!" Yes, yes it does, my friend. But have faith. Believe in the magic.

4. Sprinkle the cake mix evenly over the top of the liquid mixture (don't push it down or mix it in--let it just sit on top all light and ladylike). Use fork tines to gently rake the cake powder to all the corners and crevices where it needs to go. Don't sweat any clumps. It's so forgiving, yall.

5. Melt the butter until it's all liquid.

Yeah, I know. his is a tad obscene.  A picture is worth a thousand words...or, you know, 412 thousand calories.

6. Drizzle the butter evenly all over the cake mix 

Again, just get the butter generally well-spread all over. Dont get fussy about the drier or puddling areas. butter is a friendly fella. very eager to just make itself at home and spread out (like it does in my arteries and on my booty) and it will mingle in the oven.

7. Bake at 350°.  If you are using a 9x13" dish, set timer for 45-55 minutes, if using two pie dishes, set for 30-35 minutes.

8. Prepare thy nuts. For this batch I used 1/2 cup walnuts and 1/2 cup almonds. I have used pecans before too and they are awesome but were too expensive lately. One time jesse even added some heath bar crumbles (secretly, and only told me after) to the nut mixture and it was still great.

You can use a food processor or blender, but this little hand chopper is way easier to clean and perfect for little jobs.

From many...one. unite the clans!! chop until you can't tell the individual nuts apart and they are nice little crust-worthy shards. Do the whole bunch of them.

9. When your cooking time is almost done, open the oven and shake the container or rack a bit. if the middle of the mixture is still super liquidy/jiggly, let it cook a few minutes more. You want to leave it in until it is pretty stable. 

**It might look like the edges are "burnt" but they aren't. This brown edge crust is actually the most delicious and kind of the best part...tastes like a heavenly candy bar. So dont be afraid when it gets brown at the edges as you wait for the center to firm up. Our new hack is to eat the edges and then put it back in the oven to create new edges.

10. top the mixture with nuts

11. Pop the dish(es) back in the 350 oven on the top rack. bake for 10-15 minutes more until the nuts brown up and toasted a little bit.

 The house should smell like golden perfection at this point.

 Get out some seasonal flair and serve that baby up!

 I took a bite right out of the gooey middle

 Guaranteed satisfaction.

You'll have what she's having?  You should hope so.
. .


after party

layla turns two on wednesday.

we had a teensy family party at our house yesterday. i was a typical first time mom with judah and had actual party-parties for his 1st and 2nd birthdays...despite the fact that he was essentially clueless.  so until layla learns enough english to to tell us what she's into (like monster trucks or swimming), we just go low-key and DONT turn insane and murder everyone, as is my tradition while hostessing anything for more than 10 people. charmed, i'm sure.

well layla was ready for a nap a good 2 hours BEFORE the party and then kept upright only by cousins, cake and presents. 

so heavens to mergatroid, when we tried to get some family photos as folks were leaving, she was NOT having it.

and in the midst of attempting to coerce a smile out of her (there are a good 5 family members dancing behind the camera for her entertainment, we managed to extract a few GEMS that go pretty far towards capturing in one frame what our typical family life looks like:

aw.  poor, scary, everyone.

 judah afraid, layla's enraged and i'm a freak, but look how hot my hair looks!

 a picture that looks 90% acceptable live right on the edge of a full blown meltdown, if youre brave enough to go after it...its waiting for you there.

she turned on me here. baring her belly and going for my throat. 

 she wins. every time. i defy anyone to top the flashing throttler that is my little princess terminator.  girlfriend is FIERCE!