September 23, 2009

so. over. rain.

I can't even begin to tell you how over the rain I am. It feels like it's been raining non-stop for 12 days now. I'm sure it's only been 7 but it feels like forever. My heart breaks for all the men, women and children who live in Georgia right now - they are under a huge flood situation. I can't imagine losing everything. Granted they are just THINGS but mementos mean a lot to me. I could live without them but I would be a mess.

I've tried to think of great things to cheer me up when it comes to rain... so here goes.
  • Bright colored rainboots/wellies (must get some of these)
  • Bright coordinating umbrellas to match said rain boots (maybe I'll go with green boots I already have a green umbrella)
  • Getting cozy under 2 blankets because you've felt cold and damp all day
  • Soup, Chili and other warming comfort foods (we made my Chicken Taco Soup last night)
  • When rain hits the roof and it puts me to sleep (but I don't like thunder storms when I sleep)
  • Changing into comfy clothes after a long day of being cold/damp and wet!
I'm sure I'll think of more - what keeps your spirits up on an otherwise gloomy, rainy day?
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September 21, 2009

Mission: Coupon Clipping

I'll admit, I don't get the newspaper delivered to my door. An in that event, I miss out on great coupons in the Sunday edition of the paper, which blows.  I keep reading so many great blogs about women and men who have become coupon clippers and I'll be completely honest, the money they are saving sounds SO amazing to me.

I've never been one to clip or use coupons - shame on me! But now that the economy is in the crapper, and the price of groceries doesn't seem any cheaper, it's a better time than ever to do this.

My question for all of you who have stumbled upon my blog is... where do you find your great coupons if you're not getting them in the mail, or your local paper. Do you have an online resource.

As with make-up etc. I know I can go on most manufacturers websites and find great coupons for products such as Olay beauty, Glade candles etc - but I didn't know if there is some great "secret coupon" stash. If I need to be initiated  - so be it... "THANK YOU SIR MAY I HAVE ANOTHER!"

I try to be very fickle when it comes to spending at the grocery store. We usually shop at Walmart, there are days I dread it and days I enjoy it - depends on my mood when I leave work that evening. My boyfriend and I tend to go twice a week. This helps us cut down on wasted food. (You know the food you buy when you are walking through the store while starving? The junk food to purchase on a whim etc). We also don't buy food in bulk, which I know is a great money saver but I. HATE. FROZEN. MEAT! Like - really hate it. I hate the thawing, I hate the texture of meat that has been frozen etc.

We usually do three - four meals each. I usually try to budget for $100.00/week on my half/end of the food budget. The bad thing is when it's time to buy make-up and other items like shampoo and conditioner... I end up over spending or putting good things back. It can tend to get rather pricey to purchase healthy foods at times. I'm really over this whole issue. And it always happens that my make-up, or shower stuff runs out at the same time. It's not a matter of buying a bottle of shampoo here, and a shower gel there... nope it's usually make-up (all of it), shampoo and then probably tampons as well.

Trust me - I try my best to go generic when I can. That helps save money at times, but I'm having the issue that I want to eat better, which I have been, and I want to buy stuff fresh or frozen vs. in cans etc.

I just think coupons may help - if you have any other tips I'm completely open to them as well.

I know that Walmart will sometimes do the price matching thing but I really hate being that person in line with 10 flyers, but maybe I'll have to get over that. I'd much rather have my coupon catalog, be able to whip out the coupons and be done with it - save, save, save!

Thank you in advance!!!
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September 18, 2009

wine-o at heart.

I. Love. Wine. I may not know all there is to wine or be a connoisseur by any means, but I love wine. I love that it can be paired with different food to bring out it's flavors, and that it tends to be rather seasonal. (At least for me - I don't care for drinking dry, red wine in the summer months, only in the fall/winter months). And I won't lie, I enjoy the buzz wine gives vs. say liquor or beer. Truth be told I love cocktails, but wine is just such a great thing. There is so much to know/learn/discover about wine - I want to know it all. I've enjoyed attending a few tastings as well as a few wine/music festivals back home and always enjoy trying all the different samples.

I am always in love with new ways to display wine bottles and storage options. I will admit though wine doesn't sit around our house for very long, so it seems pointless to be interested in such things but I am. Note: If you have a great wine that you love - please COMMENT and let me know!!!

Recently while in a library at a local church during a visitation service - I noticed an incredibly beautiful card catalog cabinet. (Oddly enough I've always been into these cabinets but never learning the dewy decimal system - librarian I'm not).  My boyfriend didn't see why I was so into it at the time - "What would you do with it?" he asked me. I shrugged and said that it could possibly be used as a huge catch all. You could label the drawers for earrings, necklaces, maybe even ties or belts - If it was in a hallway maybe it could hold some toiletries, or even movies if it were in the living room.  He didn't seem convinced. My dreams of having a rad card catalog were not squashed by his lack of vision, he's very supportive and if I tried to drag it home would totally help me, I'm sure (mind you would not steal one from a church, but the public library all bets are on! - kidding of course). Truth be told once home the thought of that thing left my mind as quickly as it came in.

Fast forward to today - I was looking through and they had a great entry about Wine Cellars. OH how I would LOVE to have a wine cellar in my home. (I wouldn't mind having a place to brew and store beer either). I was shocked when I found THIS gem! A card catalog cabinet used to store bottles of wine - one their sides to ensure the cork stays wet, and it's so clever - at least to me!


How awesome is that?!?! Now you best believe I'm dying to find an old card catalog chest I can restore for a wine holder! Just think - you could use chalkboard paint to make small spots to change the labels to read what vino you were storing in which drawer - the possibilities are ENDLESS!

I have a second obsession with Riddler Racks. They are so rustic and great looking - but I'm not going to get into that right now because I get overly excited and I'm dying to have one. Downside is they usually they cost upwards from $100+. I need to become a carpenter so I can have these sorts of things without the HUGE bill! Or just tell my father to keep his eyes peeled for these two items and beg for them for Christmas... hmmm.

Again I ask, what's your favorite wine? Right now I'm hooked on Zins, the weather is getting cooler at night and I'm extremely ready for fall!
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September 11, 2009

eight years ago, yesterday.

It was just brought to my attention by one of my dearest friends - that he and I met exactly 8 years ago, YESTERDAY. It seems neither of us remembers this until it's a day late, mostly because we are reminded each year that we met on a great day, but it was also the day before 9/11/01 happened. We had chatted a lot online before that day - but never truly hung out. We decided we'd need to hang out face to face because there was a looming Weezer show coming up and we both were dying to go to it and wanted to go together (since neither of us had friends who were fans of the band, at that time). So we met in the parking lot at school (we both went to college together). Ate Cluck-U-Chicken for lunch, had a great time that day and the rest is history. A million kick ass concerts, movie nights, college years, and adult job years later - we're still great friends and for that I'm extremely thankful.

It's something that helps me smile each year through the thoughts of all the bad things that happened to our country on that very day. That the day before hopefully most people were living blissfully. Loving their families, finding new friends, enjoying the day for what it was. And that there is hope that even through the hardest times, love, faith, friendship and everything that goes with it, still blooms, and florishes through the shadows of that day.

Happy MEET-A-VERSARY BFF J! I couldn't have made it where I'm at in life without having you help me these past 8 years!You rock!
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eight years.

It's been eight years since 9/11/01. It seems like it was only yesterday. I had a hard time watching CNN this morning when they were covering the ceremony at Ground Zero. I observed a moment of silence along with all the men, women, and children at the ceremony, as well as shed tears. It's still heart breaking to this day, and I know it will be forever. For those that survived, lost loved ones, or even simply watched the day unfold via the television, as I did it's a day we will never forget. America has forever been changed. My heart goes out to everyone effected by the days events that happened eight years ago.

I am so proud to be an American, words can't express. I always feel a bit foolish when I well up in tears during the singing of the National Anthem, (and don't get me started on Proud to be an American), but then I remind myself that they are tears of joy, for I am so fortunate to have all I that I do, and to live in this country and call it home.

God Bless America! Never Forget.
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September 07, 2009

Pumpkin Pie Martini

I recently was found by my old best friend from high school on facebook. She is one of the main people I had been searching for on there for a while. I knew she had been married but didn't know what her new last name was, and come to think of it I constantly searched for the name we called her in high school, not by her full name, which she uses as her display name. I guess it's more grown up to go by our full names vs. the nicknames our parents gave us isn't it? Needless to say I've had a blast catching up with her via messages and I really can't wait to get home for a visit and try to get together with her and her husband - we chat now like we never missed a beat and that makes me feel amazing!

We got discussing our favorite cocktails and drinks of choice and she told me she's an huge fan of martinis. Now truth be told - I never really thought about drinking martinis. You always see them in movies and the classic drink usually comes with olives. I can't stress enough how much I HATE olives. Pickles I love, pickled okra I can eat, but I will never be grown up enough to enjoy olives... ever! Now I do realize martinis now come in many fabulous flavors. Who could forget J.D.'s obsession with Appletinis on Scrubs? And I have tried a Cosmo for the sake of Sex and the City (hated it, the drink not the show or the movie, good God I love that show, and movie!) and I have tried a Chocolatetini - and it was good. Maybe it's the fact that most are made with vodka and I'm not a huge fan of the clear devil that is vodka... or maybe it was the fact that the drinks were just mixed so strong. I'm all for getting my moneys worth but please don't drop me to the ground on my first drink bartender!  In talking about favorite cocktails and seasons and how much my old bestie and I love anything that's made with pumpkin she told me I have to, HAVE TO try Pumpkin Martinis. Now I've seen a few recipes on line for these little puppies and there are many different versions from the straight Pumpkin Martini to the Pumpkin Pie martini. I have decided the PIE version will be more up my alley since it is indeed my favorite type of pie!

I found this recipe from my favorite food wheeling woman - Rachel Ray, on Thank you Rachel!


Ice cubes
2 ounces (1/4 cup) vanilla vodka
2 ounces (1/4 cup) crème de cacao
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
Whipped cream, for garnish

Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice cubes. Add the vanilla vodka, crème de cacao, heavy cream and pumpkin pie spice and shake well.

Dip the rims of 2 martini glasses into a bowl of whipped cream. Strain the cocktail into the glasses.

Let me know if any of you try these - I'm thinking I might have to make them very soon!
HAPPY FALL!!! (It's Labor Day I can say that right?)
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Hearty Chicken Taco Soup

This is again a variation of a recipe I found on "Simple Taco Soup" and one similar to what Rachel Ray makes as well. (Story behind this recipe follows in Her Last Supper entry).

1 pkg. Chicken Tenders
(You can also use 2 lbs. ground beef or chopped/shredded chicken breast OR rotisserie chicken shredded)
1 pkg. Taco Seasoning
1 pkg. Ranch Dressing Mix (be sure to get dressing mix, not the dip)
1-1/2 cups Chicken Stock (you may use more depending how full your pot gets)
1 15 oz. can Mild Chili Beans
1 15 oz. can Whole Kernel Corn, drained
Your choice of 2-3 different 15 oz. cans of beans
(I usually use 1 can Black Beans, 1 can Red Kidney Beans and 1 can Pinto Beans - DRAIN AND RINSE ALL BEANS)
1 14.5 oz can of Stewed Tomatoes
1 14.5 oz can Diced Tomatoes with Green Chili Peppers
1 4 oz. can chopped green chilies
1 Red Bell Pepper (or any color you like, I sometimes use 2 different colors)
1 Hot Pepper of Choice (omit if you don't want it too spicy)
Dash of hot sauce to taste (again omit if you don't want it too hot)
3 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 red or yellow onion chopped
2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or enough to cover the bottom of your pot lightly, a few turns of the pan)
salt/pepper to taste (I also add this on the veggies as they cook).
1 bag Tortilla Chips (your favorite brand is fine)
1 bag Fiesta Blend style Shredded Cheese

  1. Pre-Heat broiler.
  2. Heat up olive oil in a dutch oven or pot over medium/high heat.
  3. Add chopped onion, pepper and garlic - stir mixture often to ensure the garlic doesn't burn.
  4. Once veggies have softened a little bit - you still want some bite to it. Add in your chopped up chicken tenders (if you are using ground beef, brown this first and then drain off excess and return to pot to cook veggies). If you are using shredded already cooked chicken - go ahead and add it now as well and toss together. Cook chicken until no longer pink/cooked fully.
  5. Add taco seasoning and ranch dressing packet and stir until meat and veggies are fully coated.
  6. Stir in remaining ingredients.
  7. Add enough chicken stock to cover all the ingredients. It's ok if some peeks through the top of the stock, but you want it well covered and enough to make this more like a soup and less like a chili bowl.
  8. Simmer uncovered, for 15 minutes or until heated through, stirring occasionally
  9. Add hot sauce and salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Once soup is hot and ready to go - laddle the soup into oven safe dishes, be sure not to fill the bowls to the top - you'll need room for the last bit of ingredients.
  11. Top soup with crushed tortilla chips and cover with shredded cheese.
  12. Place bowls on a baking sheet or in a baking pan and set under the broiler for a few minutes (BE SURE TO KEEP AN EYE ON THE BOWLS the chips will crisp up and burn, which you don't want, you just want a nice toasting of the chips and melting of the cheese).
  13. Place dishes on a plate to help with carrying to the table and enjoy - be careful they're very HOT!!!
FUN ADDITIONS: You may want to make a topping station. You can add great things to this - as if it isn't already tasty enough!
Sour cream, chives, cilantro, diced tomatoes - all of these additions would be great! So would a nice Margarita on the side but that's up to you!

Any questions - feel free to comment and ask, I'll try my best to answer them - this is my first time posting a recipe so I may have left some important information out.

Enjoy and remember - when you make food for the ones you love, they know it comes from your heart! ox
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Her Last Supper.

I had a really rough year in 2008. It was one filled with things I truly didn't think I would experience until I was a bit older (I say that like I'm 12, but honestly even at age 32 *cough* 29 forever, I still don't feel ready for some of this). In early 2008, my ex-boyfriend was killed in a motorcycle accident. It was an extreme shock to me and all his friends. He and I were not on speaking terms at the time, we had been broken up for nearly 4 years - there was an issue of money owed and other petty things we had between us. It's a classic case of if you knew then what you knew now would you act differently? If he was still alive today, would we be talking - honestly I doubt we would. For my own sanity I wish I would have dropped my bullheaded ways (I'm extremely stubborn sometimes) and just gotten over the issues we had for the sake of peace of mind and well being. But I didn't. I've made my peace with him with in my own mind, and prayers, and from mutual friends have found that there was not hate, or discust toward me, from him, only fond memories of good times, not the bad. Which is how I think most things in life should be left, if possible. I also dealt with the loss of one of my best friends' father. He was like a second dad to me and I often joked and called him Dad #2. It was hard enough losing him, it was harder seeing my dear friend go through this. I can't imagine not having my father with me - I don't want to even entertain the thought. I soon found out the pain she was feeling when my mother passed away in April 2008. She was one of the most wonderful women in the world. We had our issues, but like I said, if I had known then what I know now, things should have been different and could have been. She was my world, issues or not I love her with all my heart.  She passed due to complications of the beginning stages of leukemia. She battled lung cancer for many years and won the battle, but this was a new issue for her and she wasn't strong enough. I miss her everyday - and it's taken me until now to be able to post this blog... so here goes.

I got the call early in the morning, around 3 AM my time. It was my mother's boyfriend telling me I needed to get to North Carolina and I needed to get there fast. My mother was unconcious and in the ICU on life support. She had taken a turn for the worst. I quickly got out of bed and started making arrangements for a flight from Alabama to Jacksonville, NC for the next day. I never thought any of this would happen, life support? Are you serious? I soon learned my mother had a Do Not Resuscitate order in her living will, hardest news to hear, let me tell you. I wasn't ready to let her go - not like this! It's difficult to see someone you love so frail. All I could think was how I wanted to fix her nails, and her toes and her hair - she'd be so embarassed to be without that little bit of glamour there at the hospital. There she was my strong mother, helpless. She could hear us, but was sedated due to the breathing tube. It was a rough few days - I prepared to say good-bye a million times that weekend. I feared leaving the hospital in Wilmington, NC to go home to sleep for fear I'd miss saying good-bye. By the end of the week, things started to change... she got better, and she was able to breathe without the machine, sit up in bed, eat some jello and drink herself, watch television etc (Last tv show my mother and I watched together was Keeping Up With The Kardashians - apparently she and I like all the same GOOD and BAD television). It was a third chance (her second was getting a clean bill of health from the lung cancer). They soon moved her from ICU to the regular floor and I was able to sit and talk with my mother. She was smiling and looking out the window and so happy to see my boyfriend and I. A huge difference from what she was only days before. If I had known that was the last time I would have seen my mother alive, I would have stayed longer... instead I felt the need to get back home to Alabama, and get back to work. She told me to go - that she'd be fine, and I know she and I both believed she would. I wish I had stayed longer, shared one more meaningful conversation, but I didn't. A few days after being released from the hospital, mom went down hill again. She returned to ICU and there was nothing they could do. I got the phone call and had to tell my mother, on the phone that I loved her, that it was OK, she had done the best job she ever could, she didn't have to be strong anymore if she didn't want to. She meant the world to me and I told her so. Her boyfriend said she nodded with her breathing tube in her mouth and that she loved me too. And that was all she wrote. My mom passed away without me there, not truly alone, but not the way I wanted her to go. I wanted to be there with her. Even right now this is hard to type but I need to get it out. I swear there is a touching and wonderful ending to this blog, if you're still with me, have faith.

In talking with my mom's boyfriend, he told me when my mom returned home she was able to eat some solid foods. A night or two before I left, I had made dinner for him, my boyfriend and myself after a long day at the hospital. He was shocked to see me cook - my mom always said how I didn't know how to do anything domestic. Cleaning was about the only thing, and laundry I had mastered, cooking not so much. He said my mom would be so excited and proud and hated that she wasn't there to see it. I told him that he'd need to save the left overs and freeze them so she could enjoy the soup I had made for dinner. He did just that. The second night my mom was able to come home from the hospital, he fixed her my soup. She was thankful it was warm, and felt good on her throat. She was extremely sore and hoarse from the breathing tube. It was difficult to talk on the phone since she could only whisper - again I wish I was there with her and not on the phone during this time. Shortly after my mom was back in the hospital. This meal truly was her last real supper. I'm happy that before my mother's passing she got to eat something I prepared and she loved it. The only other thing she had eaten that I made for her was Christmas cookies the year before. I made all my favorites that she made for me as a kid - and surprised her, she was floored and so impressed that I didn't burn any of the cookies - and truthfully, I didn't! Even if I did do you think I would have sent them to her burnt, NO!!! I think she'd be proud to see how much I've grown, and how well I make a house look like a home. I'll never be as amazing as my mother was, but I hope to get as close as I can. She was one hell of a woman, and I will always be extremely grateful to be her daughter.

The soup I made was a variation of Taco Soup that I grabbed from with some flair from Rachel Ray as well. I'm sad that Rachel taught me how to cook when I was unemployed vs. learning tricks from my mother as a child. I will have to be sure to get my kids in the kitchen - you know when I actually have some. The recipe I will list in the next blog for you if you are interested in this great treat for a cool night! And excellent for freezing. Stay Tuned.
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2 Birds, 1 Stone.

I've always been the firm believer of the phrase "Killing two birds, with one stone". Now understand I would never harm two birds, or even one bird for that matter (Unless it's a Turkey at Thanksgiving, sorry PETA it's tradition and delicious). I just enjoy the whole concept of doing two things at once to get two goals completed. However I fear I may be biting off more than I can chew with this one. In order to get all my interests covered, talked about and expressed - I've started not one, but TWO blogs. Crazy, I know. Who knows if I will keep up with both of them but it's worth a shot.
Dare to be Domestic will deal with all things domestic, such as home projects, decorating, how to update a rental home without making your landlord angry, cooking, great food I've eaten (and I have eaten a lot!) great tips, DIY projects and things related to the house, home and hearts. My second blog The Curious Kittenfantastico is more of a personal blog, a sounding board if you will - or maybe just a long winded twitter - since your space there is so limited. I have many loves: first of all the important things in life, family, my boyfriend, friends, pets and the things that truly matter, then there are my loves that are for self enjoyment and expression: art, fashion, celebrity gossip, blythe dolls, movies, television, and fun things that don't really fall into the domestic catagory but are a part of who I am. If you're interested in following both that is amazing and I'm flattered! I just hope I can keep up with both.

There may be some cross posting on these two places but I will try to keep that to a minimum. If you're still with me, thank you! I'll try not to let you down!
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