The Votes are In!

And the team that won this year’s Gingerbread Competition is……..Entry #1!

That means that Mr. and I get to display the Hippo Award on our mantel for the next year! Woohoo!!

Doesn’t he look great up there?

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I think he adds just the right amount of pink amid the turquoise! :-)

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We had a blast and look forward to next year’s competition. Comments have been made that the other team has already started planning next year’s entry! At least Mr. and I have 12 months to prepare!!

Y’all have a great week! Later gators!

Jessica’s Bathroom Floor Redo (Part 2)

Jessica and Sam are still at it working on their master bathroom. Sam broke out the orbital sander and went to work on the left over plaster.

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Jessica said that the dust floated in the air for some time after they were done. You can see in this picture that after 20 minutes there is still a dust halo hanging around. (if possible, keep the room that you are working on completely closed off from the rest of the house. This way you won’t have dust settling all over the house!)

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This is what the faucet is suppose to look like! :-)

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There was an inch of “mud” left by the sander, so Jessica used a broom and water to loosen the leftover muck and then a shop vac to get up as much as she could!

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Once she removed all the muck and water, it was time for the toilet to come out. Does your wall look like this behind your toilets? I know one of mine does!

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What a difference a sander can make!

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Y’all have a great weekend! Later gators!

A Few of My Favorite Things!

Decorating gingerbread houses and trash talking are just a few of my favorite things! :-) And that’s just what we did this past Saturday!

It’s that time again….our family annual (5th annual, in fact) Gingerbread Competition. If you missed last year’s entries, you can read about them here. Once again, the teams were made up of me and Mr. vs. our daughter and her roommate. We put the entries on Facebook every year and a winner is chosen! If you would like to join in on the fun, you can vote here for YOUR favorite! Or you can follow us on Facebook and vote there. Judge on creativity, innovation, and originality. Entries are allowed one non-edible item, but everything else must be edible. Voting starts today and ends Friday, December 5th, at 8:00 p.m.

A lot is riding on this year’s competition: going into the 5th year with a tie of two wins to each team, we need your help determining the tie breaker! And don’t forget about the Hippo Award!

Both teams started with this gingerbread kit:

Wilton Gingerbread House Kit

And after nine hours of decorating, whispering, and sneaking peaks of the other end of the table’s masterpiece, two ski lodges emerged!

Entry 1: “Marshmallow Mountain Ski Lodge” is a log and rock lodge located near the main ski slope for expert skiers. The weather is freezing, but don’t worry — they’ll keep the sidewalks shoveled for you to build a snowman! The lodge sits behind a frozen lake for convenient ice skating. With a long slope, the lodge is close to a ski lift to carry skiers and snowboarders up the mountain to give them a fast ride back down. Decorated for the holidays with a bright red bow, garland, and gold glitter stairs, the holidays are sure to be bright at this ski lodge!

House – base is constructed of large pretzel rods and gingerbread; mortar is tinted buttercream icing with mixed beans for rock siding; roof is roasted pumpkin seeds; chimney is built out of graham crackers and covered with icing and rock siding; smoke is cotton candy; front door is Wrigley’s stick gum painted with homemade marshmallow paint tinted with food coloring; doorknobs are sugar pearl sprinkles; front porch roof is graham cracker with pretzel pillars; garland around pillars is parsley; stairs are sugar wafer cookies and graham crackers covered in gold sugar sprinkles; non-edible item is bow on the porch.

Shovel – constructed of pasta and painted with marshmallow paint.

Snowman – buttercream icing, painted pasta arms, and decorative gel.

Skiers – Teddy Grahams painted with marshmallow paint.

Skis, snowboards, and sled – pasta painted with marshmallow paint.

Frozen lake – tinted melted marshmallows sprinkled with vanilla sanding sugar and powdered sugar.

Ski lift – pretzel rods, spaghetti noodles, wheel pasta, and Mike “n” Ike candy lights.

Ski lift chairs – sugar wafer cookies.

Mountain – Rice Krispies and marshmallow base covered in buttercream icing snow.

Snow – buttercream icing and powdered sugar.

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Entry 2: “Arctic Valley Ski Lodge” is a quaint lodge nestled in the side of the bunny hill of a mountain. With large evergreen trees nearby and a wood pile in the back to keep the residents warm. Skiers, snowboarders, and tubers enjoy the heavy snow before relaxing at the picnic table with a lamp post by the porch to keep the night time festivities lit up into the evening. A small holiday wreath above the wooden door reminds skiers of the holidays as they ring in the new year.

House – base is constructed of gingerbread and Rice Krispies; wood logs are pretzel rods; mortar is tinted buttercream icing with mixed beans for rock siding; roof is Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal; front door is shaved Pocky sticks with pretzel-end doorknob; window is pretzel square; window plant box is shaved pretzels and kale chips; decking and railing are mini pretzel rods; stairs are graham crackers and sugar wafers with icing and beans for rocks; pathway is icing and mixed beans; and wreath is kale chips and Mike ‘n’ Ike candy.

Picnic table – shaved and sanded pretzel rods and mini pretzel rods.

Lamp post – pretzel rods with cut pasta shells and caramel bulb.

Trees – pretzel rods and kale chips.

Mountain – Rice Krispie and marshmallow base with buttercream icing snow and Heath Toffee Bits for rocks.

Skies and snowboards – cut, baked, and food-coloring dyed tortillas.

Tuber’s tube – Lifesaver Gummie candy.

Wood pile – small and large pretzel rods; axe is shaved Pocky stick and dyed pumpkin seed; wood shavings are sanded pretzel shavings.

Sign – handmade non-edible item of wood and paint.

Penguins – sugar-based candy.

Snow – buttercream icing and powdered sugar.

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So join in on the fun and help Mr. and I win that Hippo Award!! I already have a place picked out for it to sit on the mantel! :-)

Y’all have a great week! Later gators!

Jessica’s Bathroom Floor Redo

Jessica and Sam are friends of ours who are in the process of DIYing their master bathroom floor. I didn’t know they had started it until I got this text from her last Sunday morning. (don’t look if you are squeamish) Yuck!

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That text was followed with this picture and “we have an end goal!”.

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They are tearing out the old ceramic tile floor and planning on staining the concrete.

This was her bathroom before the demo started.

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And here is what they accomplished the first weekend. (besides visiting the ER!) :-)

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Jessica said that while Sam likes smashing the plaster with a hammer, she likes to use a chisel as much as possible.

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 Although she said “some areas just deserve a hammering”!

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They used a straight edge to release the tile from the baseboard and then “nudged” it out.

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Jessica shared lessons learned:

Clear the counters

Clean often (never know when the kids will “need” you and the project will halt to a stop) They have two little ones!

WEAR gloves at all times – thick leather to be exact (ER doctor said the worst cuts he has seen come from ceramic, tile & glass, i.e. bath reno’s

And when you get to the adhesive removal, wear a breathing mask (that dust is NASTY)!

She said they figure it will be a two month project since we are coming into the holiday season. I’ll have another update in a couple of days so be sure and check back. I love stained concrete and can’t wait to see the finished floors.

Y’all have a great week! Later gators!

Crock-pot Roast Beef

Happy Friday y’all! Hope everyone is staying warm during this crazy weather! It’s funny how quickly Mr. and I have become acclimated to the Houston weather. Being from Oklahoma, we are used to freezing temperatures, icy roads, and snow! But we absolutely freeze now if the temperature drops into the 60’s! I know…we have become wienies. But I’m okay with that. :-)

And since the weather was unseasonably cooler this week, I’ve been looking for warm comfort food to cook. I found this crock-pot recipe on Pinterest and decided to try it out. I used it as the base to mine and added onions, carrots, and garlic. It really can’t get much easier than this recipe.

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2 lbs. beef roast

1 envelope brown gravy

1 envelope Ranch dressing

1 envelope Italian dressing

1/2 cup water

1 large onion – sliced

5-6 carrots – chunked

2-3 cloves garlic – minced

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Line cooker with liner bag. (don’t crock-pot without these) Add roast, onions and carrots to cooker.

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Whisk together gravy, Ranch, and Italian mixes in 1/2 cup water. Add in garlic. Mix well and pour over roast.

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Cook on low for 7-8 hours.

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Easy, huh? And to make your time in the kitchen a little easier, I want to share a couple of tips with you.

#1 – I get fresh onions in the summertime from my uncle in Oklahoma. We keep out what we know we’ll eat fresh and then slice the rest and put in freezer bags. We put one onion per quart bag – then put in gallon size freezer bags. (gallon size will hold 4-5 quart bags of onions) This way, when I need an onion for a recipe, I just grab a bag out of the freezer and it’s already sliced and ready to go!

#2 – Slow Cooker Liners – these are a lifesaver when it comes to cleaning your crock-pot. These liners are the only reason the inside of my crock-pot is still white!  Like I said before… “Don’t crock-pot without these!”

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#3 – Garlic Press – if you cook with fresh garlic, this is a wonderful gadget! And if you’re not cooking with fresh garlic…you gotta try it! Yum!

Y’all have a great weekend! Later gators!

Hank Dickensheets!

This is what Stray Cat aka ? has been officially named! I named him Hank. My daughter added the last name. She texted me the other night and told me this is what I needed to name Stray Cat. She and her roommate were watching “Chopped” on the Food Network and one of the chef’s last name was Dickensheets! She thought it was hilarious. So when they were over last weekend, she asked if Mr. Dickensheets had been by. And yes, he has.

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He comes in the morning usually between 6:30 and 7:00 to eat. Then back in the early afternoon. Once again around 4:00-5:00 and then before bedtime. I bought him some treats this weekend and sat outside on the patio and tried to entice him closer. He will get within a few feet of me to eat his treat, but will immediately walk back to his “safe distance”.

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And let me tell you…he has really taken a liken to those treats! Hank now eats his food and then comes to the door and meows for his treats! How can you resist such a cute face?!

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I think we’ve made quite a bit of progress in just a few weeks. He now sits on the patio furniture and bathes or looks in at us through the window.

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Next step is getting him to go into the garage to sleep at night. Maybe a cozy bed in there will do the trick! :-)

Y’all have a great week! Later gators!

 

Mexican Soup…

…or Taco Bean Soup, as my Aunt Sonia called it. I got this recipe from her years ago. It’s also in the recipe book, The Good Cooks’ Cookbook, by the Arts and Craft Club of Falconhead Country Club, Burneyville, Oklahoma, which she was a member of. She was a very crafty lady, and I adored her! As a child, she taught me how to crochet, macramé, make salt dough, and so much more!

And she was a great cook! If you like your soup a little more spicy like us, swap out the can of tomatoes for a can of Rotel. Yum! It is so good on a cold night and so easy to fix. And it freezes wonderfully!

Mexican Soup

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1 lb. ground hamburger meat

1 medium onion, chopped

1 15 oz. can whole kernel corn

1 16 oz. can kidney beans (I use light red kidney beans)

1 15 oz. can pinto beans (I use jalapeno pinto beans for more kick!)

1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes

1 envelope taco seasoning

1 envelope dry ranch dressing

1 clove garlic – minced

Salt and pepper to taste

Cheddar cheese – grated

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Brown hamburger meat and chopped onion together. (I brown mine in the same pot that I cook the soup in = less dishes) Add canned vegetables (do not drain) and dry seasonings. Add minced garlic and stir. Bring to boil then let simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Spoon into bowls and top with cheese. Serve with tortilla chips, crackers, or cornbread!

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Makes 8 servings – one cup each

269 calories per serving

Hope you y’all enjoy it as much as we do! Later gators!