Thursday, May 24, 2012

Tomato-Basil Pasta Salad

Life has been crazy lately and it’s about to get even more crazy with a family reunion, lots of traveling, and my brother’s wedding coming up!  So I will return at some point with the house series, but until then, here’s a recipe I thought I’d share.  Maybe you can bring it to a picnic this weekend!

This dish is something I literally threw together when I had a friend over for lunch recently.  I know a lot of people don’t feel confident as cooks – so I think one of the big secrets to successful cooking is to find ingredients that you enjoy eating, and then take it a step further and find combinations of ingredients that you enjoy eating together.  Keep those basic things on hand and you’ll almost always be able to whip up something tasty!  I’m pretty sure 90% of the meals I make are made from the same 15-20 pantry staples. :)

No fancy instructions here; just simple directions (and adjust as YOU feel is needed!)  Don’t like my pasta choice? Swap it!  Hate grape tomatoes?  Scrap them!  Don’t have feta?  Who cares!  Add more mozzarella!  haha  You get what I’m saying?  Okay good…you are going to love this! 


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Tomato-Basil Pasta Salad

1 box whole grain shells, cooked and cooled
2 chicken breasts, sautéed and cut into bite-sized pieces, then cooled*
1-2 C broccoli florets, steamed, chopped, and cooled
1 package grape tomatoes, halved
6-7 basil leaves, chopped roughly
1/2- 3/4 C feta cheese
1/2 – 3/4 C mozzarella cheese
1/2-3/4  C parmesan cheese
Homemade Italian vinaigrette **

Combine first eight ingredients in large bowl.  Add desired amount of Italian dressing to salad ingredients, and combine again.  Serve and enjoy!! :)


*Rub chicken with oil, then dry rub spices in. I personally used a combo of garlic oil and a spice mix that included garlic, salt, and pepper. Use whatever you have!

**You can use my recipe by following the link (it’s delish!) or use a clean dressing from the grocery store. Note that my recipe states white wine vinegar; now I use red wine. It’s really just a personal preference!


Happy Memorial Day weekend, everyone!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Our House, One Year Later: The Bathroom

It just dawned on me that the bathroom might be an awkward place to start on our home tour.  Oh well!  haha  Awkwardness is pretty much the story of my life! :)

We only have one bathroom in this house – and it’s definitely not huge – but thankfully some solid choices were made by the previous owners, so it didn’t need a complete overhaul or anything like that.  One thing you might notice is that these pictures are dark – there’s no window in the bathroom, although there are two doors (I’ll explain that below). 

Really we were just dealing with peach, peach, and more peach – even the ceiling!  Here’s what it looked like before we purchased it:

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And here’s the after!  We painted the walls “Sea Salt” by Sherwin Williams (color-matched to Olympic paint at Lowes – SO much cheaper!!).  This color is fantastic. 

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By the sink I added this cute print I got off of Pinterest (free via this website!).  I love the cheerful, happy, summery colors – not to mention the text. :)  I keep a framed print in here all year round and change it up with the seasons. 

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Above the toilet, I hung an awesome vintage map of Connecticut from the 1930s.  I had an old whitewashed frame already, so I just placed it inside.  I found the map off Etsy for only $10 from the shop Unexpected Elegance.  It’s one of my favorite finds!  The starfish is from Christmas Tree Shop last summer, but I think they have them again this year!

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I showed this print ages ago – I got it at Goodwill for only $2.50!  Originally I was going to switch it out for a matte that wasn’t stained, but I decided I actually liked it that way! 

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Here’s a different angle of both of them:

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In the corner behind the door is a cool piece of coral from our honeymoon in Mexico!  That’s right, I put this sucker in my suitcase and lugged it home (and then it sat in lots and lots of bleached water).  We were young and fresh out of college so we didn’t have a ton of money to buy a lot of souvenirs, so I love having this piece as a beautiful reminder of our time there (and don’t worry, it was far off the beach!). 

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I absolutely love this faucet (we get a lot of compliments on it – thanks, previous owners!  haha) and our vanity/medicine cabinet combo.  There’s the perfect amount of room to keep everything neat and stashed away, which is really helpful when you’re dealing with such a small space.  I love white and I also love that they chose silver fixtures for everything.  Saved us a lot of money! 

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One of the unique things about our house is that it makes a complete circle inside.  So the bathroom has two doors – one leads to the hallway and the other goes right to the laundry room.  I am a huge fan of this setup!  When Luke gets messy outside, he can walk right in through the backdoor and the laundry room and get in the tub.  Plus having a house that makes a complete loop makes chasing a toddler a lot more fun. :)

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At some point in the future we’d like to replace the hideous ugly and cheap current doors with more custom-looking white ones.  But other than that, our bathroom’s done!  :)


Thankfully in this room, all that was required was a can of paint and about about $20 worth of accessories!  Love it when that happens! :)

Thanks for stopping in! 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

What I’ve Been Up to the Past Month {And Announcing an Upcoming “Series”}

Holy cow.  My last blog post was April 24th!!!  My BFF actually sent me a Facebook message yesterday asking, “Did your blog die?”  haha

Nope, she’s still here….just went on hiatus. 

I know I can’t be the only person out there who starts to sit down at the computer to write a post….but then gets so overwhelmed with all the catching up that needs to be written out that you just end up reading other people’s blogs instead of updating your own.  Anyone? 

So without further adieu….let me sum up my past month as concisely as I can!

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My last post mentioned that I was traveling to Florida with my parents. 

We had an amazing time and we got to do some really fun things… my first EVER visit to Hobby Lobby (I’m totally in love with that place!  Consider yourself lucky if you live near one because we don’t have any up here in New England!)

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We also went to Disney World! (Epcot and Downtown Disney)

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I also got the pleasure of finally trying out CHICK-FIL-A!  It was delish. 

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I started freaking out with happiness because we ended up eating at Mimi’s Café one night for dinner and I‘ve heard Kelly talk about that restaurant for years and years on her blog!  I was a little disappointed that I wasn’t able to get poppy-seed dressing and chicken salad for the full-on Kelly experience but I did get a delicious salad that came with a chocolate muffin on the side!  Have you ever heard of such a thing?  I feel like that menu was Paula Deen-approved.  haha (Not that I’m complaining – that muffin was awesome!)

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On a completely different note, on May 4th we got the GREAT news that we are licensed to adopt!  Now we wait for the right match for us.  Super exciting time! :)

Last Sunday  was Mother’s Day and I had a GREAT day with my two favorite men.  We moved Luke into the big boy bed the night before Mother’s Day, and the poor thing was up 4 times that night crying (I think he was disoriented, plus we cut him off from the paci so he didn’t have that to soothe himself, either).  Needless to say, we mutually decided at 4:00 am that we were not going to church! haha My amazing husband let me sleep in til after 9 (it was pure bliss) and then we hopped in the car to go to Chipotle (our mutual favorite). 

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We also stopped at a beautiful nursery to pick up some flowers and plants for the garden.  Luke had a great time checking out the animals. 

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On the way home we stopped to get my favorite ice cream (Almond Joy!) from one of the only places around here that serves it.  Super yummy. :)


Luke is still getting services every week for his “issues” (he has a speech teacher, an OT, and an early childhood teacher come to the house to work with him).  His speech is improving and he is starting to make more sentences.  He has also gotten a LOT better at pronouncing “l” in the beginning of a word (so now he says “look” and “lion” instead of “yook and “nion.”)  His latest thing is “Mommy hold you” when he wants me to pick him up.  It just melts my heart!  (Not just because it’s cute but also because he typically never shares wants/needs so that was a big developmental step for him, too). 

On June 8th we go to a meeting to determine if he qualifies for a special preschool program at the local elementary school.  This program would be the MOST perfect fit for him so we are really praying hard that he qualifies to get in! 

Wow, okay, I think that about sums it up! 

The “series” that I mentioned in the title refers to some posts that I’ll be doing over the next two weeks that show our house progress one year later.  We bought our house exactly ONE year ago tomorrow (May 16th)!  I seriously can’t believe a whole year has passed since then!  This whole house is just such a testament to God’s faithfulness. 

Our friends and family in PA have asked about the house so I thought it would be fun to show how some of the rooms have changed (and how some have unfortunately stayed almost the same!  lol).  So check back here sometime this week if you like some good before-and-afters.  I know I do!  :)