Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Easy Shepherd's Pie

Over the weekend Greg and I had a desperate need to get rid of some ground beef and vegetables before they spoiled, so we combined a few recipes and made our own version of Shepherd's Pie. We weren't sure how it would turn out, but were actually really surprised at how good it was. So of course, I thought it'd be a great opportunity to share! Enjoy!

  • 1 pound lean ground beef

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 onion, chopped

  • 5 carrots, chopped

  • 1 cup frozen peas

  • 2 4 oz. packages instant mashed potatoes

  • 4 cups boiling water

  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 1 tablespoon ketchup

  • 2 tablespoons Worchestershire sauce

  • 3/4 cup chicken broth

  • salt and pepper to taste

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat oil in a non-stick pan. Cook onion until translucent, then add ground beef and cook until browned. Pour off any excess fat. Add flour and cook for an additional minute. Add chicken broth, ketchup and Worchestershire sauce. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer for five minutes. While meat and onion mixture is simmering, put carrots and peas in a microwave safe bowl, add 1/4 cup water, cover with seran wrap and cook in microwave until tender (about five minutes). Add to meat and onions when cooked. Spread mixture in the bottom of a greased 9 x 13 pan.

    Bring additional water to a boil, and prepare mashed potatoes according to package directions. Spread over top of meat and vegetable mixture.

    Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Enjoy!

    Monday, February 27, 2012

    Chalk it up

    I've accomplished two things already this week that I'd been wanting to do for awhile now - I finally made something I saw on Pinterest, and I finally put a chalkboard in our kitchen!

    These chalkboard frames are all over Pinterest ...

    Pinned Image

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    I love each an every one, but I was going for a frame a bit more simple, like in the last photo. So remember this frame I found at Goodwill a few weeks ago for $2.99?

    It had such pretty detailing ...

    She was the perfect candidate! So first thing's first, I did a little sanding ...

    Then I spray painted the frame with Rustoleum Heirloom White ...

    Next, since the frame didn't come with a backing or piece of glass, we had to find something to use for the chalkboard part. Luckily, our garage came with all sorts of scrap wood, courtesy of the previous owners. So we Greg cut a piece just slightly smaller than the size of the frame (11 x 14), and I painted it with chalkboard paint.


    This was so easy! What do you think? I'm envisioning a few more chalkboards around here!

    Happy Monday!

    I'm linking up to:

    You're Talking Too Much
    Three Mango Seeds
    DIY Home Sweet Home

    Sunday, February 26, 2012

    For the love of Dutch ...

    After a bit of a scare this week, it only seemed fitting to write a post about our "child" - a 9-year-old German Shorthaired Pointer named Dutchess. She also answers to Dutch, Dutchy-Doodle-Dandy, Doodle-kins, Pretty Girl, Dutch-ems, and Cuddles, just to name a few. At any rate, this is a bit of a long one, but please bear with me. It's for a good cause. :) I promise not to make you cry like the Sarah McLaughlin commercials!

    Dutch is a rescue dog. Before we had the pleasure of giving her a permanent home four years ago, she first spent four years as part of a family who couldn't keep her due to moving into an apartment, and one year with an elderly lady who came to realize she didn't have the time or energy to devote to such a high-strung breed.

    When I adopted her, I knew she had energy - I could tell by the way she bounded into my house, ran from room to room, and sniffed every square inch, but as a young, single, twenty-something, I didn't care. She would be the perfect companion, and have enough energy to keep up with my walking, running, and exploring. Besides, I had been waiting my whole life to have my own dog.

     And so, Dutch and I walked, we ran, we ran errands, we drove out to the countryside to see my parents. And when it was time for me to leave her and go to work, I had no doubts that as a five-year-old dog, she would be fine if I left her out and didn't crate her. And for a while she was. But then, I began to notice her jumping up at the window to watch my car pull out, or I'd come home to accidents, and eventually I came home to scratched door frames. The final straw was when she locked me out of my apartment after scratching open the door, gnawing on the door knob, and somehow turning the deadbolt. This was the time she broke one of her canine teeth in the process ... and that was when I knew I was in far over my head. She had separation anxiety ... like this ...

    Pinned Image
     (Photo courtesy of 9gag.com)

    So I had no choice but to begin crating her - in an airline carrier eventually after going through two black wire cages on which she'd popped wires or bent openings from which she could pry open the latch. (See, smarter than most.) 

    Fast forward four years later, and we've tried everything ... pills, herbal supplements, fragrances, training, exercise, but most of all, patience and lots of love. I truly believe it's gotten better. She still needs daily medication, which is equal to human doses of Prozac. And she still has lots of energy, loves to run and play. But in the evenings, she is a pet-lovers dream. She cuddles with us on the couch, curls into a ball on her bed  and sleeps while we watch TV, or gnaws on a bone. She gives us a look that means "I need to go out," stands by her bowl when she needs water, and sits politely while waiting for us to feed her.

    But this leads me to the main point of this entire post. While she has been getting better, it's been a long road, and some of the reminders of the desperate, anxiety-ridden dog she used to be will never go away. This is why last Monday evening, while cuddling with Greg on the couch, she had a full-blown anxiety attack when he tried to pet her head. She yipped in pain, and began panting heavily, salivating, pacing, and was all-in-all inconsolable, due to what we eventually found out was a fracture in her snout. How does a dog crack a bone in their nose? By trying tirelessly to free herself from an airline carrier while having a tooth infection, which softened the bone. The tooth with the infection? The canine she had broken a few years ago.

    After bloodwork, x-rays, antibiotics and pain medicine, we can tell she's feeling better. She's back to her old self ... but if the infection doesn't clear up, it could mean removing the tooth. More money, and still no permanent solution to the damage she's already done and the anxiety she'll continue to have. I guess we'll see how this week goes.

    So, as I look at it, I realize this post isn't the most uplifting. Sorry! But I thought I'd share what we've been going through in case someone else is having the same experience. If nothing else, it's comforting to hear that someone else can sympathize, or has similar stories of their own. If so, please share! All three of us would love to hear from you!

    Thanks for reading!

    Monday, February 20, 2012

    Baptism ... by Pizza

    For as long as we've been in the Dayton area, Greg and I have heard constant praise for Marion's Piazza. The local, award-winning restaurant is best known for its thin-crust pizzas, subs and "old Italian courtyard" atmosphere. Co-workers have hounded, poked, nudged, prodded, and all but dragged me there. But I wanted to experience the phenomenon with my one and only, and we just hadn't gotten to it ... for the past few years. Tonight, we finally ended our streak and ventured to the locally-acclaimed pizza-lovers paradise.

    First and foremost, let me just say that I could not believe how big this restaurant is. It's huge. The front doors channel you onto a brick pathway, that is surrounded on either side with tables, trees and streetlamps and pretty murals of Italy's countryside. I'd say, at the restaurant branch we went to, 200 people could be seated easily.

    As we strolled down the brick lane to the counters - yes there were two - it became very apparent that this was a place with its own culture and lingo. That's what 45 years of customer loyalty will do. So, in unchartered territory, we were lucky enough to get a bit of advice from a worker at one of the counters. Order your food first at the food counter, order drinks second at the drinks counter, then find a seat and wait for your number to be called before coming back up to pick up your food. Interesting.

    We decided to try the deluxe pizza - apparently one they're known for. It was fantastic! I wish we would have tried it sooner! Look at all the Italian goodness piled high on the beloved thin-crust.

    And here's a close-up, just to make you jealous.

    We'll definitely be going there again, as well as trying out a few other Dayton institutions we've been putting off.

    In other news, I spent a good part of my Presidents' Day outside working on a few of things I found at the thrift store. I also found the time to hang my white ceramic birds in the bathroom ... can you tell one them had a broken wing when I got them at Goodwill? Say no! :o)

    Next up ... my upgrade for this goodwill frame.

    Thanks for looking!

    Thursday, February 16, 2012

    Thrifty Thursday #4

    Hello! I've been a bit MIA this week, but have no fear, I'd never miss a Thrifty Thursday! This time I scored some great stuff ... like, really ... I'm tickled! In fact, my goal this Presidents' Day is to give a few of these things a face lift and add a little more decor to our home. So, without further ado ... here's what I found! 

    First and foremost ... these BEAUTIFUL apothecary jars. My jaw about dropped when I saw them. I have a thing ... yes, a thing ... for apothecary jars. And just this past week my apothecary jar in our dining room in which I store my wine corks (by the way, I have a thing for those, too) broke. It cracked down the side and the corks went a' spillin'. So, finding these babies was a SIGN!! And they even have all kinds of cute little pears and apples inside them already! I got each one for $2.99.

    I also found this open frame for $2.99. It's in great shape, and I actually do love the dark stain, but I have plans for this guy. I'm going to paint it white, put a chalkboard inside the opening, and hang it in our kitchen. 

    I really love the pretty detailing on the frame ... see?? I think he's the perfect type of handsome for a chalkboard!

    And, apparently, there was an abundance of makeover-worthy frames this week, because I also found these oval babies and just couldn't help myself! Come on ... it's a matching set!! I got the large frame for $2.99 and the two small ones for $1.99 apiece. 

    They have some great detailing on them as well ... see?

    Perhaps I could use these Pottery Barn numerical prints as inspiration for my oval frames?

    Framed Numerical Prints, Set of 3
    (Photo courtesy of Pottery Barn)

    Lastly, I found this little metal/wire bicycle with a small wooden seat. It was just too cute to leave at the store, and for some reason, to me it screamed Pottery Barn. For $1.99, I knew I could find it a great home. 

    So it's already found a spot above our kitchen cabinets. I think it adds to the vintage feel we're going for in there. What do you think? 

    That's all she wrote on this Thrifty Thursday, but stay tuned! I've got lots of work to do this coming week with all of these items, and from a few of my finds last week

    Thanks for visiting! 

    Wednesday, February 15, 2012

    Columbus Architectural Salvage

    This past weekend, Greg and I visited Columbus architectural salvage. We weren't looking for anything in particular - just wanted to see what all the hype was. And I'm so glad we did, because this place was ahhhhh - mazinggggg. I'm telling you, Ohioans even remotely close to the capital city need to check it out! 

    Doorknobs, grates,tin tiles, sinks, stained glass windows, shutters, lamps ... the list goes on, and on, and on. So, unlike the writer in me, for this post I think you all will benefit far more from the pictures than from anything I could even try to write. So, behold the beauty of CAR ... enjoy! 


    Thanks for stopping by!