Thursday, September 18, 2014

Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta

It's been forever since I posted a recipe! With the constant nausea associated with my pregnancy with Little Girl last year, then the chaos of this year happening, I've been stuck in a dinnertime rut. I finally tried out a couple new recipes this summer and found some keepers! 

Jeremy is not a pasta lover. Sigh. As in, he pretty much hates all pasta. The only pasta I can get him to eat is my homemade macaroni and cheese. He doesn't even like the boxed stuff. I, on the other hand, love pasta and could eat it all day! I saw this recipe for Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta and thought if two meats can't get him to like a pasta dish, nothing can. Well, my friends, the two meat theory (let's get real, it's all about the bacon!) worked and he loves this dish. He even requests it! Finally, after 7 years of marriage, I have found a pasta dish to serve for dinner! Hooray! :)

Try it! I bet even your pickiest eater will love it! 

I am so NOT a food photographer! Haha! Recipe adapted from Chef in Training. Find the original recipe and a much prettier picture here

Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta


-10-12 oz penne pasta
-2 cups cooked, chopped chicken (I've found that a rotisserie chicken is amazing in this because it is so moist!)
-3/4 cup crumbled bacon (I use about 2/3 package of cooked microwave bacon. Less time, less dishes!)
-1/4 cup butter
-1/4 cup flour
-2 cups milk
-1 tsp onion powder
-1 tsp garlic salt
-1/3 cup ranch dressing (I like fresh ranch for this recipe, so I pick up a package of Hidden Valley ranch dip and mix it with sour cream. I save the leftover ranch to dip my pretzels in! Ranch that comes in the refrigerated section in the produce department would be good, too.)
-1 cup shredded cheddar cheese


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Boil pasta in a large pot. 

While pasta is cooking, melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour, onion powder, and garlic salt until smooth and bubbly (just a few seconds). Remove from heat and add milk, then return to heat and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Boil and stir for 30 seconds. Remove from heat and stir in ranch dressing. 

Drain cooked pasta, then return pasta to large pot. Add chicken, bacon, and the sauce. Stir to coat. Stir in cheese, then pour into greased 9x13 casserole dish and bake for 15 minutes. 


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Simple and Neutral Fall Mantel

Thanks for all of your kind comments here and on Facebook regarding my post on Friday. I usually try to keep this blog my own happy corner of the internet, but sometimes life is really hard and it felt disingenuous to not share. So thankful for all of your support! 

On a much lighter note, I started decorating for fall! I love this time of year! My body does not deal well with heat, so the cooler weather makes me so excited! Not to mention how gorgeous the leaves are and the anticipation of the holidays right around the corner! 

I decided to do something completely different this year for my fall mantel. You can check out my past mantels here and here. Now that we have a much cooler color pallete in the living room, I decided to do a neutral fall display. I was afraid I would find it bland or boring, but I have to admit, I'm loving it! 

On the right side, I simply tweaked my everyday decor by adding some burlap and leaves to the vase of cotton. When the pumpkins come in, I'll add a little white pumpkin by the clock. The clock is a recent purchase from World Market. I had the worst time finding cotton at a reasonable price! I finally found some on Decor Steals. I also recently found some more at Michael's in their fall florals. Finally! Man, I wish I knew a cotton farmer... 

Side Note: I am still without a computer, so have no way to edit my photos. So please excuse the coloring in these pictures! 
On the left side, I brought out my candlesticks that I made over a couple years ago and plopped some pumpkins on the tops. I layered in a photo of my Little Man playing in the leaves last year and some acorns.
I was going for neutral and kind of rustic with the pumpkins. The blue pumpkin is from Michael's. The others are also from Michael's that I've had for a while and gave a makeover. They were a bit beat up, so I covered them with burlap. The lighter ones are covered in strips of burlap hot glued to the pumpkin. The darker ones are covered with a larger piece of burlap secured with hot glue, using twine to create the lines. To make all the pumpkins easier to cover, I popped off the stems, then pushed them back on when I was finished. 
I found these adorable burlap leaves at Michael's for only $1.99 per pack! I strung them on some twine to create a leaf bunting. It's one of my favorite parts of the mantel! 
Now before you scroll to the picture of our entire fireplace, I need you to use your imagination, ok? It is still under construction, so just imagine the paint touched up, beautiful white planking from the mantel to the ceiling, and the TV mounted on the wall with NO CORDS hanging down. Imagining that? Ok, now scroll...  Hahaha! 
Always a work in progress, right? ;) Happy Fall! 

Linking up to The Turquoise Home

Friday, September 12, 2014

Heavy Hearted

I've been hard at work checking projects off my list and will be sharing them with you next week!  But, today my heart is heavy. 

My heart is heavy thinking back to September 11th, 2001 and all the lives that were lost that day. People always ask if I remember where I was on that day.  How could I ever forget? 

I saw this video today and had not heard this before. Ordinary people turned heroes. 

My heart is heavy today, my due date for our precious second baby that we miscarried early last year.  I bought flowers again this year in honor of our baby we never got to meet but loved so much.
2013 flowers
2014 flowers

And, my heart is heavy missing my father in law who passed away this year.  Sunday would be his 51st birthday. He was incredibly hard working, loved his family and would do anything for us,  and was one of the most fun people you've ever been around. I'm so thankful I got to call him Dad for the last 11 years.

Sorry for a sad post, just keeping it real and letting you all in on our lives. I'm thankful for the promise that one day God will make all things new. I'll catch you all next week with some happier things... fall decor and a new painting I just finished. Have a great weekend and go hug your loved ones!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Five on Friday

Time for Five on Friday! 

1. Dropping stuff stinks- It's been really quiet around this blog. Dropping and breaking BOTH my phone and my computer within 5 minutes of each other might have something to do with it.  Seriously! That was not a good day. Thankfully,  my replacement phone came in, but we are still waiting on the computer we ordered to arrive. Thanks for your patience, everyone! In the meantime,  we are getting estimates on the yard project and I'm cooking up a mini bathroom makeover!  Stay tuned! 

2. Prayers answered- My best friend's sweet (and ridiculously cute) little newborn had to have major surgery this week. I've been dreading it for weeks.  God was faithful! The surgery went well and he is smiling and doing well! Please continue to pray for their family as he heals and they care for him at home!

3. Archer Farms Dulce de Leche Latte K Cups- So good!  Try them! 
Archer Farms K-Cups Dulce de Leche Latte 16ct
4. Wrightsville Beach- We made our yearly trek to the beach last weekend.  We always enjoy Wrightsville Beach, NC.  Ample parking,  nice sand,  not over crowded,  and not too far from the aquarium at Kure Beach. I wouldn't call myself a beach bum or anything (even though I did grow up in South Florida) but I love the beach.  It is so relaxing.  When I'm there,  all I want to do is sit in the water letting the waves wash over my feet and just breathe.  No technology,  no cleaning,  no stressing, no whining,  no schedules... just be.
5. New Gatorade commercials- have you seen the new commercial series Gatorade has with Cam Newton and Peyton Manning? Hilarious!  This one is my favorite.  The only thing that would make it better is if you replaced Cam Newton with Tom Brady.  Duh. ;) 

Happy weekend, everyone!

Image credits: Target and Wikipedia

Monday, August 18, 2014

A Big Ole List: 2014 Edition

I was thinking it was about time for an update to The Big Ole List I posted last year. When I pulled it up, I realized I posted that list almost exactly one year ago today. I was only 3 days off! Man, my internal calendar is good! ;)

I went through the list and crossed off the things we accomplished and added new things to the list. I also removed a couple items that we decided not to do. For more on each project, click the room name to pull up all the posts in that category.

Front Porch:

-Redo rocking chairs
-Hang a swing
-Put plants on either side of door
-Hang a wreath
-Grow a vine on the sides for privacy

Side note: Thanks for all the love regarding our front porch! It's my most viewed blog post and my most pinned project on Pinterest! You all are awesome!

Front and Side Yards:

-Put in natural stone edging
-Redo some of the bushes in front and side
-Plant a cherry tree out front (We found a cherry tree after season at Home Depot for 75% off! We only paid $10 for it! So far, it's doing fine, but because we bought it after season, we're worried about how it'll do when it gets cold. Thankfully, Home Depot has a year warranty, so if it dies, we can exchange it! 

Back Yard:

-Level yard. This is a HUGE project that we would have to hire out, but would give us much more usable yard space. Our house is on a hill, so part of the yard has a steep slope. We would love to put in a new retaining wall and build up the hill to make it even with the rest of our yard, then fence the entire yard in. (This project is on the books for 2015! Eeep!)
-Plant an Autumn Blaze and a fruit tree after yard project is complete.
-Possibly build a small swing set

Back Deck:

-Purchase a couple large planters to garden in.
-Purchase a deck table with umbrella for shade.
-New door mat and decorative plants.
-Eventually, we'd love to turn the deck into a covered porch or sunroom.

Living Room:

-Hang curtains for privacy (phase 1)
-Replace couch pillows for existing couches
-Purchase rug
-Decorate wall above couch
-Eventually replace shades with plantation shutters and possibly get rid of curtains (phase 2)  We tweaked this idea. More on this soon!
-Replace couches (Phase 2)
-Finish large scale decoration for above fireplace (Phase 1)
-Purchase new couch pillows in light blues, light greens, and khakis (after new couches)
-New end table

-New rug
-Add planking above fireplace
-Wire TV cords above fireplace
-Replace TV
-New artwork for above couch
-Replace boob light with ceiling fan

Entry Way:

-Purchase entry table
-Replace temporary shade with something permanent 
-Decorate walls
-Purchase new rug

Dining Room:

-Redo table and chairs
-Hang curtains
-Purchase buffet/cabinet
-Decorate walls (about halfway done on this one)
-Eventually put in board and batten

-New Lighting Fixture


-Reorganize drawers
-Hang organizer for baggies and wraps

-Add shelving inside cabinets for tiered storage
-Install pull out shelves for pantry cabinet

Breakfast Nook:

-Install plantation shutters on door
-Purchase new table and sell old table
-Purchase bar stools
-Build banquette for storage

Laundry Closet:


-Replace shelving

Downstairs Bath:

-Purchase new shower curtain and towels
-Install hooks for guests to hang towels on
-Replace toilet
-Replace vanity and sink?
-Replace tile floors
-Install blinds

-Hang artwork


-Repaint room and add striped accent wall
-Replace window coverings
-Replace or repaint counters OR remove built in unit for better room layout
-Reorganize closet and build shelves
-Hang gallery wall
-Hang kid artwork
-Replace gold boob light

-Replace car rug
-Purchase seating

Coat Closet:

-Purchase shoe shelf
-Hang hooks for scarves

Linen Closet:


Master Bedroom:

-Replace curtains
-Purchase chair for corner
-Install bedside lighting
-Replace gold boob light with ceiling fan
-Replace vinyl shades
-Hang all hanging art and frames (there's nothing on the walls right now!) Still nothing on the walls. OYE!

Master Bathroom:

-Decorate walls
-Replace vinyl shade with plantation shutters
-Hang a shelf
-Replace toilet

-Paint vanity
-Frame mirror or replace with two mirrors
-Hang hooks 
-New caulk and new grout in shower
-New lighting fixtures

Little Boy's Room

-Hang blackout curtains
-Replace vinyl shades with 2" blinds
-Replace lighting with ceiling fan and move existing lighting to playroom
-Hang artwork
-Hang shelf
-Reorganize closet and hang more shelves 

-Paint Shelves
-Build bed rails
-Purchase end table

Little Girl's Nursery:

-Empty Closet (almost done!)
-Install board and batten
-Replace vinyl shades with 2" blinds or blackout roman shades
-Hang curtains
-Purchase new dresser
-Purchase bedding
-Purchase rug
-Reorganize closet
-Replace hardware and door handles
-Replace gold boob light with ceiling fan

-Paint Closet
-Replace outlets

Kid Bath:

-Repaint walls
-Repaint trim
-Hang new shower curtain
-Hang artwork
-Replace vinyl shade with 2" blinds or plantation shutters


-Replace vinyl shades with 2" blinds
-Move guest bedroom furniture into office

-Purchase appliances
-Hang artwork
-Install digital thermostat

Office Bath:

-Frost window
-Hang artwork

Downstairs Hallway:

-Hang artwork

Upstairs Hallway:
-Hang artwork


-Hang shelf
-Purchase locking storage cabinet for chemicals

-Sell remaining items from reorganizing projects on Craigslist
-Hang wall organizers for tall tools like rakes and brooms


-Install digital thermostat upstairs
-Install digital thermostat downstairs

Know what this list screams to me? Hang up some artwork on the walls already, Samantha!!! Haha!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Five on Friday

Here's my Five on Friday!

1. This Rug- Of course, just a couple days after blogging about our finished entryway, I found a rug to finish, finish the entryway. Love it! I couldn't find it online, but it's from Target.
2. Dance Parties- Back when Jeremy and I were dating, he would sing me country songs to try to persuade my hip hop loving heart to like country music. One of the frequent songs he'd sing was Diamond Rio's Meet in the Middle. Now, one of our favorite family things to do is to turn that song up really loud, sing it at the top of our lungs, and dance around the living room with the kids. They think it's hysterical! And our neighbors probably think we're crazy. :) 
3. School Supplies- I just can't stay out of the school supply aisle. The smell of paints and crayons just draws me in and I want to buy it all. As a kid, I loved getting school supplies and would pack, unpack, and repack my backpack a thousand times before school started just so I could look at all the fun supplies. My mom used to have to take them away so I would stay out of them before school started. Then, as a teacher, oh my goodness...the first day of school with eager kids ready to learn and fresh supplies?! Be still my school loving heart. :) Wow, that turned into a bunny trail real quick, huh? 
4. Arizona Green Tea- In a can. Not a bottle. A can. LOVE these! When I was teaching, I drank one a day. But, I got out of that when we moved to NC. I've recently rediscovered them and treat myself to a cold one every week when I go grocery shopping. 
5. This Blanket- Oh my word, this blanket is SO soft! I bought a twin size one for our living room and it is the best blanket ever! It is lightweight, yet warm and the color goes great with our furniture. I also love that it is big enough to cover my entire body, unlike a throw size blanket that is too short to cover your feet. Poor, cold toes. 
Happy weekend, everyone!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Making an Entrance

I realized that I never finished showing you all our entryway! Way back in January, I mentioned that we had ordered an entry table. But, then I did the whole give birth thing and got sidetracked and forgot to show you how it all turned out. ;) So without further ado... our entryway!
I've been playing with different things in this corner since we moved in two years ago. I tried a plant, but it died. I don't think it got enough light. That, or it died because I never watered it. Who knows? :) I also tried my great grandmother's antique end table, but the height was all wrong. So, I ended up purchasing this end table from and absolutely love it! It's the perfect size for this small corner! It's not too wide or deep, but it has a little more height to it than an end table.
I found the mirror last year at Target. The new end table happened to be the exact same rustic gray color!
I love the way it all turned out!
Update--We found a rug! :)