Wednesday, September 30

When I grow up, I want to be like them!

Each week, they make an appearance with yummy recipes, creative crafts, and designing tips. Their presence here (and in my life) are a breath of fresh air.
Here's a few tidbits about our beloved S&S Guest Contributors.
A more genuine Texas girl, you'll never find. She's the truest of true...straight down to her shoes. They say you never get another chance to make a first impression, Jessica gets it right every time. We first met when Little Man was tee-niney and she hoisted him up (because he's never really been "tee-niney") on her pony for a photo op. We became friends many months later over the pages of North Texas Farm & Ranch Magazine (she's the Editor) and our mutual love for all things flour, sugar, and butter. We're also both West Texas A&M University Alum...Go, Buffs! She's delivered many Monster Cookies and baked breads to my door throughout our friendship. Needless to say, we'll keep her and that infectious smile...FOREVER!
I'm pleased to introduce you to our cookie girl...Baking Contributor, Jessica!
Lana and I never knew our childbirthing class would result in a lifelong friendship. I suppose it was the shock and awe of the whole "bringing our firstborn into the world" thing but nonetheless, we were instant friends (between focusing, breathing, and giggling). Our boys were born two weeks apart and living life with her over the past few years has been hysterical. She's the quintessential "I'm up for anything" friend and she'll sing the lyrics to every song, EVER RECORDED, along the way. Her family recipes are YUM and she possesses some mad kitchen skills.

 I'm pleased to introduce you to our dinner diva...EntrĂ©e Contributor, Lana!
This gorgeous gal and I met through our super hunky husbands. I'm not sure how they knew we'd be fast friends but they were right. Shhhhhhhhhh, don't tell them. She's the mother of three, which would make any of us wide-eyed and crazy...but not the ever graceful, Leigh. Always cool, composed, and calm. I often marvel at her patience and hope a little bit of it will rub off on me. I've, more than once, considered lifting her over my head to conduct an osmosis-like experiment. But I like her friendship so I refrain. Her house is as adorable as she is, a perfect illustration of her constant creativity.

I'm pleased to introduce you to our crafting queen...Delightful DIY Contributor, Leigh.


 We call her "Fancy Nancy" for good reason. She can take any space, any furnishings and turn them into a masterpiece. Her mantra is "It's not what you have but how you carry it that matters". You don't have to spend a fortune to have a gorgeous space. She's educated, beautiful, successful, a super-duper-overachiever, and SHE'S MY MOM! I'm proud to have her as part of the S&S family, sharing all the nuggets of wisdom she's passed down to me over the years.

So pleased to introduce you to our designer extraordinaire...Interior Design Contributor, Fancy Nancy.

I hope this has helped put a face with a name....for you to feel more acquainted with these lovely ladies. I'm thankful they spend their valuable time each week making my little slice of life better. When I grow up, I want to be like them.

Until next time...

Monday, September 28

USA Rowing Team Honorary Member

More catching up since my unfortunate internet interruption, I WENT KAYAKING!

Stop laughing, I'm serious!

Kayaking was item #42 (or something like that) on my bucket list of life. Granted, when I scribbled it down, I envisioned a raging river in a beautiful mountainous landscape with a retired Olympic Rowing Guide and Super Hunk cheering me on from the river bank.

A few things wrong with this scenario...

#1 - I usually refrain from any activities that include the word "raging".

#2 - A beautiful mountainous landscape calls for coffee on the porch, not overexertion in a Barbie-sized boat.

#3 - There would certainly be a few logistical issues with me AND my retired Olympic Rowing Guide fitting in the same kayak.

#4 - Super Hunk never...under any circumstances..."cheers".

So when my gal pal mentioned she and her super hunky man just purchased new kayaks (and we were temporarily living on the lake), I proceeded to do the "Oh, pick me...pick me" dance. (Thank you, super hunky Bennie for trusting me not to capsize your new man toy.)

Two gals, one with very little experience and the other with NONE and completely unreal expectations, were about to set out to conquer the waters.
Gal Pal, Jess had the enchanting butterfly paddle and I was lucky enough to use the man fish paddle. At one point, I may or may not have mistook it for a huge fish in the water. I'll never tell. 
Yes, Gal Pal Jess looks that relaxed AND adorable all the time! Tipping her boat over crossed my mind but I like her friendship so she stayed dry. :-)

In hindsight, the still waters (resembling glass) were much more tranquil than the raging river mentioned above. It also would've made the "chat break" we took at the halfway point a bit more difficult!

We went, we saw, we burned a honey bun's worth of calories, and returned to a pretty fun greeting crew. Super Hunk later admitted he was a little surprised I endured without whacking myself with the paddle.

I never told him about the bruise on my ankle.

Shhhhhhh...what he doesn't know won't hurt him.

When the Barbie-sized boats were loaded, I hugged Gal Pal Jess goodbye, satisfyingly marked #42 (or something like that) off my list, and didn't lift my arms above my head for a week.

All in all, I think the USA Rowing Team would be proud to have me as an Honorary Member...cheering from the river bank!

Friday, September 25

Foodie Friday ~ Fiesta Style

It's my favorite day of the week...Friday, Friday! Also known as Foodie Friday, around these parts.
Today, to mix things up, I'm featuring a full S&S daily menu.
Do you find it difficult to plan meals for an entire day? Well here's a typical "fiesta style" day at our house. Four recipes using many of the same ingredients, easy breezy.
Dessert is a little out of left field but always a crowd pleaser.
Happy weekend, friends!
1. Breakfast calls for Migas! Combine with a side of bacon, top with salsa, and you have the perfect way to start the day!

2. Avocado Bacon Quesadillas for a middle of the day sinking spell!

3. Need an appetizer before dinner? Here's a reader favorite Salsa.
4. Finish off the day with these Zesty Roast Tacos.
5. Sticky Bread Pudding - I know this is a random addition to the "fiesta style food" theme but it's the perfect way to end any meal. Top it with a scoop of ice cream and you'll have a happy group around your table.

 Now that your Saturday menu is planned, go have some extra fun with the fam this evening!


Wednesday, September 23

Personalized Door DIY

It's time for another beautiful DIY project from our talented contributor, the lovely Leigh!
As previously mentioned, she is the mother of three little adorably rambuctions little boy that is sure to break many hearts and two oh-so-gorgeous little girls. (To read more about Leigh, visit our Contributors Page.)
Today, she's taking us along as she personalizes her youngest daughter's space. Let me start this post by saying....As a Boymom, I have complete PINK ENVY!
Hope it inspires you! 

To begin, gather supplies. (See list below.)

Name decals - Purchased from a local sign shop.
2 cans of KILZ primer
1 can of Krylon spray paint - Color is Ballet Slipper, gloss finish.
1 can of Krylon spray paint - Color is Ivory, gloss finish.
2 wood signs - Found while cleaning out a closet. SCORE, we love repurposed items!
1 door (Leigh's hubby removed it from his Grandfather's old, dilapidated homestead. So special!)
1 can of Ralph Lauren faux technique glaze - Added a few drops of black to tint.
1 old t-shirt of hubby's (He's such a giver!)
1 paintbrush
1 face mask
15 empty feed sacks (Or cardboard...or drop cloths.)

Let the fun begin! After gathering your goodies, spray primer on door and signs.

When primer has a chance to dry, spray paint door and signs desired color. (Again, as a Boymom, the idea of painting anything "Ballet Slipper Pink" makes me giddy! I could try it but I'm certain Little Man would object.)

The grass might even get a makeover in the process! :-)

Ladies, get rrrreeaaadddyyy to GLAZE!

Next, glaze the door and signs so they look "aged". Brush the glaze into the crevasses, then wipe it with a wet cloth (AKA: Your hubby's old t-shirt...thanks, hubby).

Tip: As mentioned in the supplies list, using a gloss finish spray paint really helps with this step.

Side note: When I purchased my Ralph Lauren glaze at Home Depot a while ago, I had them add a few drops of black tint to the can. That's why my glaze is black and not clear.

(This looks much like me in the morning, after not removing my mascara the night before. Eek!)

This is a picture once the glaze has been wiped off. The glaze remains in the corners/edges and makes it look antique.

Next, brush glaze on the signs and wipe off (hubby's old t-shirt is really getting a workout). To add a more dramatic effect to the signs, I tapped the sign edges with my glazing brush and dragged it in a little to the center.

 To complete the signs, attach the vinyl name decals.

Lastly, attach the signs to the door and door to the wall. (Thank you, hubby. For the shirt AND for the "attaching to the wall"!)

Tada! Not only is it the perfect personalization for the most adorable little room, it reminds me of a secret door to a faraway place. Perfect for the beginning to any good bedtime story.

Thank you, Leigh, for another marvelous DIY!

(If you missed Leigh's Delightful Dresser DIY last month, click here to see how it turned out.)

Monday, September 21

Congratulations, you're expecting!

Greetings, friends!

Long time, no talk.

I'm officially back in the land of the living...the living internet, that is. Many people asked if it was nice being disconnected. My honest answer has been "Yes...for the first two weeks".

Seriously, I had no idea how dependent I had become on the worldwide web as a resource until I was forced to locate a phone book. A WHAT?! Let's not even discuss Rand McNally...Betty Crocker...or catalog shopping. I might as well be wearing a neon scrunchie and finishing off my side ponytail with a can of AquaNet!

I'm literally kissing my modem as we's uncomfortable and completely uncertain about its new home.


Annnyyyywhoooooooo...while I was away, we had quite a few life events occur (stay tuned). One involving our beloved bovines.

It was preg-checking day at the ranch recently which, since Little Man was born, has become one of my favorites.  Plus, there's always hungry cowboys and food to be delivered. Mom, you're up!

I talked about it in my recent Maple Walnut Muffin post.

Keeping a supervisory eye on the squeeze chute, just in case they need a hand.
Before I became a mom, the process of preg-checking was just another hot and dirty day.

Now that I've experienced all of the baby/pregnancy hullabaloo, I have butterflies in my stomach for my four-legged female friends.

"Baldy Balderson, the doctor will see you now."
I watch, in anticipation, of the gloved arm's removal (I'll spare you the details) and the shout of "bred" or "open". It's the equivalent of "+" or "-" on our home preggers tests.

The other ladies are sympathetic to the next gal in the proverbial stirrups.
I rejoice with the girls...even though I'm sure they're just focusing on the moment when that head gate flies open.

I can't help but wonder if they have their own language for "Did you see Red? Totally! From the back, she doesn't even look bred. I'm so jealous!"

Did I mention it was a hot and dirty day?
If the guys would let me, I'd show up with hundreds of pink and blue balloons to celebrate but me shouting "Congrats, you're expecting" would most assuredly produce some sideways glances.

I think I'll just rejoice on the inside!

Men on a mission.
 Another hard day's work is done. The humans are tired and the bovine beauties have resigned to their respective places in the pasture to chew their cud in peace.

This face constantly reminds me of the joys of motherhood. No matter the species, new life deserves celebrating...and no matter how many times we do it, this day never gets old.

Congrats, Mommies!

Thursday, September 3

Maple Walnut Muffins ~ Moooooooo!

In our world, where there's cows...there's food.

I know, it seems like an odd combination...unless the cows ARE the food...that's another topic for another day. :-/

When there's cattle to be worked, there's grub to be made. It's hard work...hungry work...messy work. Thus, I...the camp cook, is on duty.

Our recent run-through was preg-checking day. For the non-livestock person, this simply means we check the cows to make sure they're bred (Good job, bulls!) and how far along they are into their gestational bliss. Mooooooooooooo!

Now that I'm a Mother (and I have a rambunctious bull of my own), I am much more sympathetic to the whole process. In fact, because I'm surrounded by big...manly...cattlemen, I squash the desire to scream "congrats, you're having a heifer" and present said cow with a pink balloon as she darts from the chute.

You can imagine the sideways glances I would receive.

Instead, I bring muffins...contribute any way I can...and have a gender reveal party in my head every time...200 times to be exact.

It's exhausting!

And thrilling!

So, because you didn't come here to talk about calves...adorable, smooch's the muffin recipe. And for all my soon-to-be-Mommies out there...congrats on your bull...or thankful you only have stirrups to deal with! Ha!

1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons cold butter, diced
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
2 cups flour
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 medium egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup butter, melted

First, prepare topping by whisking together flour and brown sugar until combined. Add butter and cut into flour mixture using pastry cutter (or fork) until it resembles small crumbs. Add walnuts and toss well. Set aside.

Next, mix muffin batter by combining flour, salt, and baking powder. Add milk, syrup, and beaten egg to mixture. Mix well. Then add chopped walnuts to batter and stir.

Spoon batter into muffin liners, they should be about two-thirds full. Sprinkle topping evenly over batter in each liner.

I use ALL the topping because if a little is good, a lot is better!

Side note: Have you seen these amazing little creations? My muffin tin is packed (another shout out to our moving extravaganza) so they were so handy! Not to mention, the pan was much easier to clean. Confession: I'd rather buy a new muffin tin than wash seriously makes me cuss...a little (Thank you, Natalie, for anticipating my baking needs in such a thoughtful way).

Bake in 375 degree oven for 20-25 minutes, until topping is golden brown and muffins have risen.

Before I transport them to a brood of hungry men, I think I'll have one first. Quality control, people!

We ALL enjoyed them...I hope you do too! Moooooooooooo!
Cowboy Van. I promise...he has a head. A very handsome one. I'll be sure to photograph it next time! I had muffin vision.