Friday, July 30, 2010

I think my camera is mad at me.

We bought a little Fuji Finepix point and shoot camera a few months ago to replace our huge Kodak monstrosity that was really just too much camera for us.  Since we've had the new camera, I can't get a single picture to turn out right. Either the flash is waaaay to bright, or if I turn it off the picture is fuzzy/blurry. So I've resigned the camera to a drawer until I figure out what the problem is.  Either its some magical skill that the rest of the world possesses and I seem to be lacking, or my new camera is as I suspect, a piece of crap.

I do have a finish to show you, but I'll have to borrow my mom's camera to get the pics.  It's my Madeline quilt, I finally got the binding on!  I'm probably the slowest quilter I know.  Part of the problem is no real space to dedicate to quilting.  When I do quilt I take up the entire dining room and the kitchen island and its still a pretty tight fit.  When I'm done I have to pack everything up neatly and then it still takes up the better part of my dining room table.  So if I want my house to appear put together, or to have dinner at the table, or company over then I have to find somewhere else to shove everything at the last minute.  I've decided to find and armoire or a cabinet of some type on Craigslist that I can easily put everything in while I'm not using it.  I've got my eye on one already, but it will have to be painted before I'm truly happy with it  Wish me luck!

Photo Credit: Food Network

Finally, I promised the recipe earlier this week for Chicken Salad Stuffed Tomatoes.  Its a recipe from Paula Deen and its probably my favorite summer dish. I usually serve it it with garlic bread. It's light and yummy, great for these oppressively hot evenings. 

*You can even roast the tomatoes first for a slightly different flavor, I've done it both ways.
* I always add a little bit of honey mustard too, just to taste.

6 large tomatoes
2 cups cooked and cubed chicken (Paula Deen recommends using a rotisserie chicken and I concur!)
1/2 cup minced red bell pepper
1/2 cup corn, drained
1 1/2 tablespoons minced red onion
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
Leaf lettuce or spinach leaves

Cut 1/2-inch off top of each tomato. Scoop out pulp from tomatoes. Lightly salt inside tomatoes and turn tomatoes upside down on paper towels to drain.
In a medium bowl, combine chicken, bell pepper, corn, and onion.
In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil and next 6 ingredients. Pour over chicken, tossing gently to coat.
Line tomatoes with leaf lettuce or spinach leaves. Spoon chicken salad evenly into tomatoes. Refrigerate or serve immediately.

Tata for now,

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Baaaaad Blogger!

I'm such a bad blogger.  It's been 6 days since my last post.  But in all fairness, there were two posts last Sunday, so that should count in my favor shouldn't it?  It's just been a busy week for me here. With work and appointments all week I didn't get anything else done.  Nothing, nada, zilch, you get the point.  My laundry is piled high, my house is filthy, and my husband doesn't remember the last time I cooked something that didn't start out in a box or a jar.  My quilting took a hit too, nothing has been touched since last week.  It doesn't help that temperatures here have literally hit the triple digits the last few days and the heat index has been well over 105 most days.  This kind of heat just zaps the energy right out of you.

I intend to remedy all of that this weekend though.  The house WILL be clean, laundry completed, and some cutting prep work for the boys zig-zag quilt done by Sunday night, come hell or high water!  And I'm actually cooking dinner tonight.  It's called Chicken Salad Stuffed Tomatoes and its one of my favorite summer recipes. I'll share the recipe and pictures here within the next few days. 

Yesterday we acquired a used Nintendo Wii and Steven and I have been having a ball ever since.  We've been battling it out in Golf, Tennis, Bowling, and boxing.  It's so much fun and it really does get you up and moving around.  Steven really likes the tennis and he is so funny to watch while he's playing it because he does little victory dances, and trash talks the Wii opponents.  I snuck and used my phone to record a short video of him playing Wii tennis and we both watched it and were laughing so hard we had tears coming to our eyes. I told him we should put it on YouTube and see if it goes viral and he was actually OK with that idea.  That boy has no shame!  In all honesty he's just really easy going and laid back and isn't afraid to laugh at himself.  I love that about him.

So along with my looong list of quilting projects that I have yet to start, I've added another.  The Sexy Hexy Love Quilt by Amy Butler is going right to the top of my to do list.  This pattern is a free printable one.  I saw it months ago and showed it to my mom.  She loved it too and got the fabric and started it at Quilt Camp 2 with my Aunt Ranette and cousin Kara, who are both making the quilt as well.  I was in a serious state of quilt envy and then I found a great coupon for who carries Amy Butler's Love fabric.  I ended up getting fabric for around $4.50 per yard which is awesome so then I knew that I just had to make this quilt.  So hopefully I'll get that started some time in the next few weeks and have some pictures to show.

photo credit:

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Rainbow Around The Block

I was checking out this quilting blog today and saw a button that caught my interest.  Rainbow Around the Block is a quilting project for families in Middle Tennessee who lost their homes to flooding.  I live right outside of Nashville and I think this is just a great way to help all the poor people who lost their homes in the flood we had here in May.  Here are a few pictures my husband took near his work during the flood.

So all of you quilters out there, here is your chance to help out and have fun making a few blocks at the same time!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Caylee's B&B

We moved into our new town home last November and for the first time ever, I had a nice large guest room to decorate.  On an unlimited budget this would be a breeze. However on my strictly limited budget it was still fun, but a much slower process.  I'm by no means a skilled decorator, so when I approach a room I usually start with the color I want to use in the room, and then try to build around that.  I know some people use themes in their decor, but that would involve a lot of theme-related purchases, and that just won't do for me. 

I love the color combination of red and white, so I decided to use this in my guest room.  I found a great Better Homes & Gardens striped red and off-white comforter for sale at K-Mart, and that was my jumping off point for the room.  I also picked up some really cute mirrored lamps on clearance for $15 each.

 I used the iron scroll headboard and bed that was mine all through high school and into my twenties, and also a dresser that has been in my room since I was about 8 years old.  The only problem was that the dresser was a deep honey colored wood, and that didn't go well at all with the red and white look I was going for.  So we had the dresser painted a nice white semi-gloss, and changed out the dated early-nineties hardware for pretty glass pulls and knobs that we got at Lowe's.  I really like the overall look now.

The room still needed another shot of red, and some help with the bare wall that the bed is on.  I looked every where and couldn't find anything big enough to fill up that wall that I really liked.  Right around this time a new line of fabric from French General for Moda called Lumiere de Noel was about to be released.  These fabrics were inspired by 19th century french textiles, and I just love them.  The red and white go really well with the creams and taupes.  I was lucky enough to find an online seller who had some early release layer cakes from this line and I knew that this was what I needed to fill up the blank wall.

I decided to pick my favorite 10 prints and frame them in white distressed frames and hang them on the wall over the bed.  Sounds easy, right?  Turns out white distressed frames are not so easy to find at a reasonable price.  The best price I could find was $18 per frame from an eBay seller and there's NO WAY I was paying $180 for my little project.  My mom suggested I try Dollar Tree, and while they didn't have white distressed frames, they did have plain wooden frames for just $1 each.  I bought these and with my dad's help stained them a dark rich walnut, sprayed them with a white spray paint, and then distressed them with a sanding sponge.  After that I cut and framed the selected fabrics, recruited my masterful dad again to hang them on the wall evenly, and VOILA!  This project cost me around $40 and most of that was the fabric, of which I only used a few pieces and will be able to use the rest later on other projects.

So now my guest room is complete and ready for guests. It even has its own en suite bathroom which is also decked out in red and white.  At least I'm consistent if nothing else.  So far only my mother-in-law has come to stay with us for a few days, but I'm hoping that more family will make it our way soon and the room will be put to good use. When the time comes, this room will be converted into a nursery, and then we'll need an entirely new game plan!

If you enjoy transformations with paint, then you should definitely stop by Life In the Fun Lane and check out some of the amazing things Holly does.  I check her blog daily, and I'm always inspired to hop on craigslist and buy the first banged up old piece of furniture I see and try my hand at revamping it with paint.  If I ever get around to actually doing it, you'll be the first to know.

Hasta la vista, baby

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Is It Christmas???

Recently my parents traveled out of state to visit our extended family in Oklahoma.  While they were there, my mom and Aunt Ranette had their second annual "Quilt Camp."  It started last summer when my mom had decided that she wanted to learn how to quilt.  They cram tons of learning and quilting (and I think a bit of shopping too, shhhhh)  into a few days.  Unfortunately I haven't been able to make the trip out to OK to attend one of these adventures, but I'm hoping one day I'll get to participate.  Luckily, Mom brings home all of the wonderful knowledge and skills that Aunt Ranette bestows upon her and teaches me.  So when my parents rolled back into town this weekend I was excited for this week because I knew I'd get to see some of the great stuff that they worked on, as well as learn something new.  I didn't expect that they would come home with a bundle of gifts FOR ME!!!  The women in my family are so generous.  I guess even though I wasn't there in person, they kept me there in thought when they visited the shops.  What a lucky lady I am!

An adorable bag, patterns, a pincushion kit, 2 charms packs, a fat quarter bundle, a pretty new Olfa rotary cutter, 3 books and a little notepad!  Wow, somebody pinch me!

This Schnibbles pattern called "Good Fortune" is one that I've had my eye on for about a month.  I think I've even had it in a few online shopping carts more than once and for some reason hadn't purchased it yet.  I LOVE it.  I can't wait to make it and I think the Park Avenue fabric from 3 Sisters for Moda will look just right.  Thanks Aunt Ranette!

Just look at this Olfa cutter covered in Gerber daisies.  How cute is this?  I can't wait to get to cutting (which is usually my least favorite part).  Thanks Mama!

Someday when I have daughters and nieces, I hope I'm even half as thoughtful as these two wonderful ladies are.

On a side note, I picked up my Madeline quilt from the long-arm quilter today and it looks fantastic.  Now I have to get the binding on and then I'll post a picture before it goes off to live on my bff's new dining room wall.  Now that I see it quilted, I really wish I could keep it.  I guess I'll just have to make another one for me.

See ya later alligator!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Read Anything Good Lately?

I love to read, always have. I like to have a good book going in the background at all times. The problem is that I read them pretty quick and then I'm left with nothing to read until I go on another book-buying binge on Amazon. Speaking of Amazon, lately I've been slightly interested in the Kindle e-reader, but I'm not sure how much I'd like the feel of it rather than a traditional book. I wish I could just test-drive one for a while.

My favorite books are historical fiction.  I also like Nicholas Sparks. His stories even make great movies.  A Walk to Remember, Message in A Bottle, The Notebook, are all thanks to the talented Mr. Sparks.  And I'm ashamed to say that I did get dragged into the Twilight saga.  I started reading it at the urging of a friend, fully intending not to like it.  However, it pulled me in and by the time I got to the 4th and final book, I stayed up all night reading it just because I couldn't bring myself to put it down.

Here are a few of my all time favorites (all pictures from

Israel My Beloved by Kay Arthur tells the chronological story of Israel and the Jewish people from a fascinating point of view.

Queenmaker: A Novel of King David's Queen by India Edghill is very entertaining, albeit embellished tale of King David's first queen, Michal. I re-read this one every few years.

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden is another great read.  The story follows a young girl as she becomes a geisha in tradition-rich Kyoto Japan in the twentieth century.

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger is another one that I really enjoyed.  The main character is consistantly and against his will transported through time over and over again. He meets his wife when she is just a little girl and he's already married to her in his own time.  Hard to explain, but a good read.  The book is way better than the movie in this case.  But the movie is better if you've already read the book.

And let us not forget the classic Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell.  Scarlett O'Hara, Rhett Butler, need I say more?  This is one case where the movie is just as good as the book.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Cheesecake and Quilts

Thursday is upon us which means that Friday is just around then corner and then the weekend! I'm almost finished with the little table runner for my mom, so I'll probably post pics of that tomorrow. Last night I was supposed to go over to my bestie's house for dinner, but her husband wasn't feeling well so we had to cancel. I had already made the dessert earlier that morning to bring with me, so now I'm stuck with almost an entire cheesecake (notice I said almost, hehehe yum!). Steven hates cheesecake and I couldn't, or rather shouldn't, eat the whole thing myself. I think some time today I'll drop it by my friends house so she and her family can enjoy it too.

I want to share the recipe here because its super easy and super yummy. When I was in high school, one of my friends mothers used to make this and I asked her one day what was in it. The ingredient list was literally so simple that I've never written it down and I still remember it to this day, 14 years later. Whoa, I sound old! LOL. You may have seen this recipe before. If you haven't tried it and you like cheesecake, then please do. It will only take about 5 minutes to make.

No Bake Cheesecake
1 graham cracker pie crust
1 15oz can sweeten condensed milk
1 8 oz package cream cheese
1/3 c. lemon juice
1 can pie filling of your choice

Mix together the condensed milk and cream cheese with an electric mixer. When that mixture is mixed well, add in the lemon juice and mix until smooth. Pour mixture into graham cracker crust, cover and put in refrigerator for at least 2-4 hours to allow it to firm up. While my pie is firming up, I also put the can of pie filling in the fridge to so it can do the same. When you're ready to eat it, just spread the pie filling over the top of the cheesecake and voila! You have a delicious yummy dessert. Remember to keep it refrigerated. If left out for any length of time it will start to get too soft and you don't want that.

See how easy that was? I told you so. =o)

I hate to do a post without a picture, since I know that when I'm looking at blogs I love the pictures. So I'll end this blog with a picture of a quilt my mom made recently (picture taken by my Aunt Ranette). Its called Red Velvet by Thimble Blossoms. The fabric is Rouenneries by French General and Simple Abundance by Bonnie and Camille, both lines are Moda fabrics. After she made this quilt she gave it to my Grandma for her birthday. I love this pattern so much I think I'm going to have to make one, but I think I'm going to use the new Bliss fabric that's coming out soon.

Au Revoir

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

What a nice long weekend!

We had such a beautiful weekend here in Tennessee. Steven had to work, but I had three days off and I thoroughly enjoyed it. On Saturday I spent the day working on a table runner for my Mom out of the new line from Fig Tree Quilts for Moda called Breakfast at Tiffanys. I'll post some pictures as soon as I get the sashing and borders on. I also got the borders put on the Zig-Zag quilt I've been working on. I still need to put some ric rac on. Steven and I actually went to get the thread for this on Saturday evening and got to Hancock's just as it closed, so it wasn't meant to be. Instead we went to eat at a new place called Newk's, which is kind of like Panera Bread but yummier! I had a baked chicken sandwich and salad and it was soooo good. They also have wine by the glass so you can relax and enjoy a glass with dinner. After dinner we went to a little bakery called Gigi's Cupcakes which I had been wanting to try because I just love cupcakes. The cupcakes were pretty good, but waaaaay to much icing in my opinion.

On Sunday we laid low and didn't go any where. We didn't have any special holiday plans since my family is out of town at the moment, and Steven had to be at work around 5 am the next morning. I did make some homemade chocolate chip cookies using a new recipe from V and Co. that has instant pudding in the dough in place of white sugar. The cookies are good, but very soft. I like my cookies a bit crunchier. If you prefer soft cookies, this is definitely a good recipe for you.

I also caught the last day of the semi-annual sale at Bath and Body Works online. Hand soap was 4 for $10 and I had a 20% off coupon and free shipping. My soap ended up being $2 per bottle which is such a great bargain for their terrific smelling soap. I always stock up once or twice a year when its on sale.

On Monday we went to lunch at the new Panda Express in our town. Steven is a Chinese food junkie. He'd probably eat it every day if I'd consent. After that we went to see Eclipse. Steven is Team Jacob, I'm Team Edward, LOL. We enjoyed the movie. I noticed almost every preview stated that their coming attractions were in 3D. Am I the only person who hates 3D movies? I feel cross-eyed most of the movie and then for the next few hours or more I get "3D hangover" dizzy feeling, headache, blah. Give me a 2D move any day please! After that we picked up a few groceries and headed home.

My fortune from Panda Express
Today my sweetie requested that I make my homemade potato soup. It's his fave and since the poor guy worked all weekend I obliged him. A couple of years ago after trying several different recipes and not coming up with anything great, I decided to get brave and just make up my own. My measurements aren't exact because I've made it so many times I just wing it now, but below is my potato soup recipe if you'd like to try it:

Caylee's Potato Soup

Potatoes peeled and diced, enough to fill up a large mixing bowl or 6 15 oz cans of diced potatoes
1 regular size can cream of chicken soup
1 2lb box chicken stock
1 lb bacon
1 medium yellow onion
1 cup half and half
3 to 4 cups shredded cheddar cheese depending on how much you want for topping
1 Tbsp dried basil
1 tsp Tabasco or more to taste
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Garlic powder to taste
Chopped green onions for topping

Chop uncooked bacon in to small bite-size-ish pieces and cook in a skillet until fully cooked (but not over cooked). Reserve 4 Tbsp bacon grease and drain bacon on paper towel lined plate. While bacon is cooking, finely chop the yellow onion (I used a Vidalia Onion Chopper and it works great!) In a large pot (I used my biggest pot, the one with 2 handles) cook the chopped onion in the 4 Tbsp bacon grease until onion starts to turn light brown. Add the chicken stock, the cream of chicken soup, and 1 can of water to the pot over medium high heat. Stir until well combined. Add basil, garlic, salt and pepper. Add the diced potatoes and 2/3 of the cooked bacon. Bring to boil over medium high heat. If you're using raw potatoes, then you'll need to boil the soup long enough for the potatoes to become tender, this could take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour depending on the size you cut the potatoes to. I used to be a stickler about using raw potatoes here, but have lately discovered that there is no taste difference if I used canned, and it saves a lot of time and cleanup. If you use the canned potatoes, then I let it sit at a rapid boil for 10 minutes and then take it off the heat onto a hot pad. Now here's where it may sound weird to you. To thicken the soup, I take a large ladle and put three ladle-fulls of BROTH ONLY (try to leave the solid stuff out of this) into a separate medium sized bowl. Start gradually adding flour little by little to the broth you just sat aside. With a rubber spatula mix the flour and broth together until it begins to resemble the consistency of mashed potatoes. Now add the "mashed potato" mixture back to the large pot of soup a little at a time mixing in between each addition to combine thoroughly. This thickens up my soup nicely. Now stir in the half and half, 2 good handfuls of cheddar cheese, and the Tabasco sauce (Don't' be afraid if you don't like Tabasco. I hate the stuff but its good in this) Once everything is well combined, then you're soup is ready to eat! Garnish with the remaining bacon, cheese, and green onion. I usually make yeast rolls to go with this. This makes a lot of soup. Each time I make it we have it at least twice for dinner and then we both have it for lunch here and there also.

Wow, that was longer than I thought!

Tata for now.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Baby Steps

So I think I've already mentioned somewhere on here that I'm a novice quilter. I started last year. My aunt has been quilting for years and years and has made some absolutely beautiful quilts (that I covet).

My mom had been interested in quilting for a while and about a year and a half ago she decided to give it a try. She really enjoyed it and got me interested as well. If you're thinking about trying quilting, then I say go for it! It's totally addicting.

This is my second quilt (still adding the binding in the photo), made with the help of my mom for my sister for Christmas. This is a Schnibbles pattern called Darcy by Miss Rosie's Quilt Co. The fabric is called Eva, I think the designer is Basic Grey.

This is my third quilt. Same pattern because I just loved it, but this one was just for me. Right before we had to take it to the quilters I got very sick so my mom did help piece the rows together to get it finished up. She's such a good Mom! The fabric in this one is one of my all-time faves, Mill House Inn by Fig Tree Quilts. This hangs on my dining room wall.

This is my fourth quilt. Another Schnibbles pattern called Madeline by Miss Rosie's Quilt Co. The fabric is another one of my faves, Rouenneries by French General. My aunt gave me the pattern and I made this as a housewarming gift for me best friend. It's currently at the long arm quilter's, so I'll post another pic when its all quilted and binding added.

This is my fifth quilt. The pattern is one of two in a pattern called Double Dip by Thimble Blossoms. The fabric is Simple Abundance by Bonnie and Camille. As you can see, the borders have not yet been put on this one. It's a Christmas gift for a little girl, and I'll be making another soon in the more boyish colors from the same fabric line for her little brother for Christmas. I just love this pattern, so who knows, I may make it several times in different fabrics.

This is a little table runner I made last Saturday. The fabric is the new line Bliss by Bonnie and Camille. I'm in LOVE with this fabric. was selling a new cut by Moda called "Candy Bars" in some of the new lines that don't come out until September. This is a Bliss candy bar, some white yardage, and some minty green, kinda bluish yardage I had in my stash (my itty bitty tiny stash! LOL) The pattern was kind of improvised from a pattern that came with the candy bars. Pretty much all of the white and print fabric is from the pattern, and the green sashing and borders were my little addition to make it a bit bigger and give it some contrast. I think this is going to be my first attempt at machine quilting, so wish me luck!

I think I'm going to go put the borders on the Zig Zag quilt. I'm so glad to have this 3 day weekend, maybe I'll even start something new! Happy Independance Day to all of my fellow Americans.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Les Chats De La Maison

So now its time to introduce you to our three cats, whom we affectionately refer to as "the kids." Now, we're not weird people who are under any kind of delusion that our cats are real people and should be put on a pedestal equal to or above a human being. The simple fact is, we don't have kids yet, but we do have cats.

DH and the kids watching TV (in a messy messy bedroom during our most recent move)

Ever since I was a kid I've always given animals both first and middle names. So our three are: Brady Richard (named after Tom Brady, New England Patriots quarterback- at the request of my DH), Talula Elizabeth, and Fergie Ann. The middle names come into play when I need to yell at them really good for doing something really bad. Trust me, it doesn't work only on humans. LOL.

Little Miss Fergie

Baby Lu


Now, I'm a big nickname using type of person. So inevitably our three cats ended up with a plethora of little nicknames, but there are a few that have stuck. Brady is also Goobermonkey, or lately just Monkey. You call "Monkey" and he'll come running. Talula is Baby Lu, or just plain Lu, and Fergie is affectionately referred to as Chicken. Don't ask me where the names come from, because I really have no idea. They just showed up and stuck around.

Watching a little dog outside the window

Now we never intended to have 3 cats. On the first day of Winter 2006 a sweet stray gave birth to a litter on my parents front porch. I can't stand to see an animal suffer, and since she was such a sweet stray who let us handle her and her babies we took them to Steven's apartment. There were 5 babies plus the mama. Fast forward a few months and we're still left with 3 babies that no one wanted. And then somewhere along the way we accidentally started to love them and there you have it.

Lula's weird phase when she liked to sleep in the sink

Baaaaad Monkey!! Caught him making a big mess in the linen closet!

They're all 3 pudgy even though they have never eaten a drop of "people food" and only eat indoor formula dry cat food. Poor Fergie is the pudgiest of all (sometimes we call her Chunky Chicken). They're sweet and loving and since they've been with us since the day they were born we can literally do anything to them and they trust us unconditionally. They also seem to really like each other, which I know isn't all that common as my mom's cats seem to regard each other with disdain most of the time. I think their greatest talent is napping. They are masterful nappers, as shown below.

Chicken all tuckered out in bed

Lu asleep upside down, a daily pose for her really

Brady was sleeping so hard that his tongue fell out of his mouth!

Even as I write this I'm surrounded by the three of them, ASLEEP! Which reminds me, I should get to bed.

Tata for now!