Recap: Pioneer Woman's Beef with Snow Peas

Monday, February 10, 2014

I was very leery when I read this recipe. It required me to make the sauce for the beef and snow peas...fresh ginger was required. I don't know about you all, but I love pickled ginger. Fresh ginger is awesome too, but it's kind of scary to cook with, at least in my opinion. Once everything was prepped and ready to go (see picture below), this recipe was a dream. Easy to make and delicious!
Beef, sauce, veggies and the rice

The hardest part of the recipe (and any recipe) for me is anything having to do with knife skills. Slicing, dicing,'s all not easy for me.

Half of the beef just cooking away

the finished product...well, as finished as it gets since I didn't take a picture of my plate. It was that good that I couldn't wait thirty seconds to artfully arrange it on a plate and take a picture of it.
Side note: I added carrots to this meal because I really like carrots. They just made it that much more wonderful.

So to recap, these are the recipes that I have left to tackle: 
 In other news, I have become a light fixture junkie. Two new light fixtures in the last three weeks. I love them. 

And Addison is just Addison.
Don't let this picture fool you. She derives more power from the cold weather.

Recap: The Pioneer Woman's Pasta alla Vodka

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

I'm back again with another recap from last week. I had a busy day at work, and I rushed home to whip up Pasta alla Vodka (see recipe here) for dinner. When I started this journey, I made a little promise to myself that I would not go off the reservation when it came to following the recipe because I think that's where I often go wrong when it comes to cooking. So before you all gasp and point fingers and say that I changed the recipe, I'll admit that I did in fact change the recipe because I used pasta that I already had in the pantry (which I don't think the Pioneer Woman would mind....allegedly she lives really far away from grocery stores) AND I add something to it: spicy country sausage (fresh from our Farmers Market). Russ is not big on eating vegetarian-like dinners. Whatever, it's his prerogative, but I do try to keep that in mind when I cook for both of us. So yes, I added something to the recipe, and I thought that it was delicious. 
On a sad note, I did not take lots of pictures. I only took two. I was exhausted, and I just wanted to eat dinner. It happens. 
cooking the onions. I can never chop them as small as Ree. adding that to my goal list.
The finished product:

Russ thought that this was really good. We had it for leftover night, too, and it was still good two nights later. I would definitely make this again.
If you're on Instagram, check me out at @lifewithaddison or #taylorandree to see meals as I cook them.
In case you need a reminder, here is the list of Pioneer Woman recipes that I have left to cook (hopefully successfully) this year:

What I'm Doing Now...

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

What I'm listening to now....(besides Addison barking at who knows what)
St. Paul and the Broken Bones
Paul and I share similar dance moves! I've also been in a very John Mayer mood recently, but "Call Me" is really what I'm loving.

What I'm reading...
image and book found here

Who I've been spending time with...
MY BROTHER! Best spontaneous visit yet. He happened to be in Atlanta and then just drove on up to Nashville.
best friends
What I'm most excited about...
Two things:
1. Adios 1980s fan...we have a new chandelier in the living room!
Ballard Designs Lourdes 12 Light Chandelier...definitely investing in a dimmer
2. We might be getting another four-legged addition to our family. We are adopting, not shopping, and if all goes well (i.e. Addison doesn't act crazy and scare this sweet dog), we hope to be opening up our home to another doodle in the coming weeks. It was going to be a secret, but I told my dad who told my whole family. You win lose some.

Recap: The Pioneer Woman's Sunday Night Stew

Monday, January 27, 2014

I kicked off my "Pioneer Woman Challenge" by cooking Sunday Night Stew...last Monday night. I'm pretty sure it's not a day specific recipe, even though it has "Sunday" in its name.  The recipe can be found here if you are interested in trying it out for yourself.
First, Addison and I took a long walk. It was a beautiful day and I thought that I would be a better cook if I was hungry.
Looking for fish in the sightings to report
Once we got back to the house, it was time to cook. I took a picture of most of the ingredients just in case you needed a visual. I followed all of the directions, and it was quite easy to make.
I'd already started cooking by now so this wasn't the best picture. Sorry.

Browning half of the meat.

Boiling potatoes.

Mashed potatoes....heavenly!

the finished product
Russ thought that it was very good. I thought that the mashed potatoes were the best thing that I have ever made (no lie, I've called dibs on making mashed potatoes for every major holiday from now until forever because they were that good). Overall, this recipe was a winner. I would definitely recommend it for beginner chefs because it was easy to make and delicious. There really wasn't that much to mess up while cooking.
One down, 50 Pioneer Woman recipes left to go:

It's a Celebration!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Celebrate good times, come on! 

This guy is saying hello to his late twenties, and we are celebrating!
Birthday biscuits from Biscuit Love...whoop whoop

I might even re-gift him this book that he so lovingly bought me for Christmas when it was obviously meant for him
Although I am quite the nonconformist so maybe he was on to something...
Addison and I love him, especially since he is really starting to like spontaneous dance parties and random concerts in the living room. He's become our master chef and obviously one of our number one fans (all five of you family readers can duke it out over who is the true #1 fan). We think that we'll keep him...although most days Addison isn't too sure. 

not looking too sure here
So here's to you love, may you enjoy watching your basketball game without too many interruptions, a nice cold glass of your favorite beer, and a great dinner tonight. I think this will be the best year yet.
Happy Birthday, Russ!

A Year of Pioneer Woman Inspiration

Monday, January 20, 2014

I don't cook. It's not my "thing." I can, and do, bake. I've talked about my lack of cooking abilities before on the blog, but as hard as I try, it just doesn't turn out well. The sad part is that I really want to be a good cook. I want people to say "I'm going to Russ and Taylor's tonight for dinner and I hope we have ______." I have an overwhelming amount of cookbooks for an individual in her late twenties.  I will make a rough estimate that there are around 50 cookbooks sitting in our pantry right now. Unfortunately, I probably only use 3 of them. 

While out to dinner last weekend, a new friend mentioned that her father had challenged her to "master" x number of new recipes in a year. I thought that was a brilliant idea, but, as stated above, cooking has just never worked out for me. Then inspiration struck. Last Sunday, I made "The Best Chocolate Sheet Cake Ever" from The Pioneer Woman Cooks. It was delicious. Russ has been raving about it. The two of us ate this sheet cake (18x13 inches?) by ourselves! I decided that I had to try out more of Ree's (the Pioneer Woman) recipes.
I prefer whole or halved pecans because my great-grandmother used to make brownies....long story, but that was the only part of the recipe that I changed.
I have decided to challenge myself. I'm not going to be "mastering" any recipes, but I would like to make at least one recipe a week that I am proud of...instead of taking two bites and asking Russ if we can order a pizza. I've combed through Pioneer Woman and Marlboro Man favorites to find things that looked "Taylor-proof." Instead of Julie & Julia, it's going to be Taylor & Ree. Here is my list of Pioneer Woman recipes that I will cook (hopefully successfully) this year:

That's my list. It's ambitious, but I've given myself until the end of the year to complete this task. I can do it. Hold me accountable, and I will update (hopefully with pictures) as I attempt to become a Pioneer Woman east of the Mississippi...

Amy Howard at Home One-Step Paint DIY Step by Step and Review

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

I should start this post off by saying that occasionally I am not a gracious receiver. My great-grandmother is probably rolling over in her grave because that was always one of the lessons that she tried to hammer home with all of us. I failed miserably when it came to these beds, but maybe you can learn from my mistakes. I promise there is a point to this rambling anecdote...

For as long as Russ and I have been married, his parents have always told us that they had saved Russ' childhood bedroom furniture for us. Did I mention that his childhood bedroom furniture consists of bunk beds? Oh, I left that part out. Now are you understanding where I'm going with this story. So for years, Russ and I never had room for them because we had exactly the amount of beds needed for the number of bedrooms in our homes...and for years I said really mature things to Russ like, "Over my dead body are your childhood bunk beds coming into my house," and "You need to talk to your parents because that's not going to happen...ever!" Like I said, really mature.
When we bought our house at the end of the summer, we ended up with one extra bedroom. We also ended up in a town near his parents so I couldn't use "I don't know how we'd get them here" as an excuse anymore. As we budgeted new flooring, counter tops, and landscaping (remember Grey Gardens and the hundreds of day lilies?), in addition to new light fixtures and furniture, I decided that something had to give. I was upset because I now had an empty bedroom. No lie, that's how mature I am. I was going to prove my point, hold on to my pride, and have a room with nothing in it because (a) who knows any people in their late twenties with bunk beds who don't have kids and (b) bunk beds were a gateway to broken arms (someone told me that once...probably true). As I was decorating the house in my head prior to moving in, I read some articles about painting wood furniture and not so quietly resigned myself to the fact that the bunk beds were coming to our house, BUT I was going to paint them and turn them into the French country style furniture that I had hoped to use pre-reality check. My only problem was I had never painted furniture before...if I'm being honest, I don't remember ever painting anything outside of those Wine and Painting parties and elementary school art class. Being creative is just not my thing. 
While I was on my way to Atlanta to buy more home furnishings, my mom and grandmother stopped in Tennessee to see the house. While wandering around our downtown, my mom called me to tell me that she found the perfect paint/system for me. At a Main Street store called Lulu, Amy Howard at Home One Step paint was sitting in the window, and it was calling my name. 
Once we got settled in (and moved the bunk-beds-turned-twin-beds), I hustled over to Lulu and spent about an hour pouring over paint colors, debating which would go best with the duvets that I had chosen for that room, and wondering if I could really do this. I not so quickly committed to the paint color "Java," and I conducted many informal polls with the people shopping in the store. I saw a sign that Lulu offered classes to teach people how to use the products, but, being the impulsive person that I am, I just decided to order the One-Step Paint kit and get to work! 
Once everything I arrived, I set up shop in the upstairs guest bathroom. Yes, you read that right. I think you now realize just how lost I am when it comes to furniture painting...and just how lazy I can be when it comes to moving furniture up and down stairs.
Y'all, I am not lying when I say that this was the easiest thing ever. I looked up the directions online (found here with a very helpful video), and I got to work very quickly. For the sake of not boring you, I will just detail how I painted and waxed the bedside table. 

Step 1. Wipe off the object to be painted. You just want to make sure that there isn't dust/lint/stickers that might mess up the paint.
all wiped off and ready to go
2. Shake up the paint can for 1 to 2 minutes. I shook it for an entire song. When done shaking, open the can and stir paint with stir stick. I read where some people have complained about the paint seeming runny, but I never had that problem.
don't mind the paint can after obvious use. just wanted to give you a visual. also, don't mind my awesomely wonderful 1980s counter tops. they'll be gone soon.
at least I put down some plastic

3. Put one coat of paint on, and then wait 30-45 minutes.
one coat down...

4. Apply second coat and wait 30 to 45 minutes. *Full disclosure, I waited an hour for both coats. I just wanted to make sure that it was definitely dry.

5. Apply light wax over the entire thing. Then wait another hour.
sorry for the random shadow. Not sure what's up with that.
6. Apply the dark wax only on places where it might naturally get dirty. Do not put it all over the furniture. This step was a little harder for me because I've never thought about furniture getting dirty.
Educated guessing...
I figured the top might get dirty! I don't know.
7. While dark wax is sort of dry but sort of tacky, apply Dust of Ages into crevices/cracks/ridges/where ever you want to give the furniture some character. Use a t-shirt rag to buff and get a patina shine! For the record "patina shine" is an Amy Howard phrase not mine. I'm not that artsy. 
*Sorry I was so excited that I might have been doing this correctly that I forgot to take a picture.

8. Ta-da!
the completed product. both beds finished. night stand ready for use.
Here are some more pictures of this project:
the bunk beds bunked

night stand
Welcome to my workshop!
when all was said and done it took me about a week to do everything

working on a foot board


post-painting. See that spot on the upper-middle right? That's where I thought it might naturally get dirty. I try.
one more look at the bedroom. The top pillow is actually almost the same color as the beds. The beds look dark and the pillow looks light. whatever. Trust me, it looks good.
All in all, I have been very pleased with this product. I'm already planning to paint the bathroom cabinets for the three vanities upstairs because it was that easy to give older (30 years is pretty old when it comes to cabinets!) furniture/cabinets a quick and inexpensive "face lift." Now I just have to figure out colors...
For those who are wondering: I bought a kit from Lulu that included the paint (32 oz can and it covered the two beds and nightstand with paint to spare), dark wax, light wax, dust of ages, and two or three paint brushes. It was well worth the money. If you're considering changing up the look of some furniture that you have just hanging out at your house, definitely look into Amy Howard at Home products. I'm not paid to say that. I was not provided with products to try out (although I'm not opposed to that!). I'm just writing about my own experience with an unfamiliar product.

Back to the first paragraph of this rambling blog post. I was not a gracious receiver. I thought that my world would end if these beds crossed the threshold of this house (in my defense, I didn't know that they could be unbunked). Now, after a new coat of paint and some dark wax in places where they would naturally get dirty, I love them. Funny how the world works. Thanks to my in-laws for the free furniture and thanks to Amy Howard at Home for helping me make them more "me." Lesson learned.

*Sorry for the iPhone pictures and the weird lighting. We're getting ready to switch out the light in that bedroom (supposed to have two bulbs but only wired for one! what's up with that?) and bathroom lighting is bathroom lighting...especially when there are partial walls to create shadows. 

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