Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Are you a Groupy?

Sorry I've been MIA the last few days...I'm a bit under the weather. I've been downing tea like an English woman and hopefully it's going to help soon.

Have you all heard of Groupon? If not, let me fill you in. Groupon is a deal of the day website that you subscribe to for your city. Each day, you will receive one deal (via e-mail) for your area. Deals range from fitness classes, to services, to restaurants. The savings are usually fantastic!

I've been subscribing to Groupon for about three months but had not bought anything until today. One of the hubs and mine favorite restaurants was offering a $20 brunch gift certificate for $9. Cheap mimosas? Yes, please! I bought my very first groupon and plan on surprising the hubs when he comes home next weekend (unless he reads this first...Surprise, Honey!)

So, are you a Groupy? Have you bought anything worth bragging about? If you're not on the Groupon train yet, I recommend you hop on and see if it's available in your area. Even if you don't make a purchase, it's still fun to hear about the deals!

Friday, November 26, 2010

House Tour Part Three: The Living Room

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your families. Mine was spent with my extended "Navy" family and it was pretty great. I'm a lucky girl to be blessed with people that care about me and welcome me into their homes when my hubs and family can't be around.

Don't forget to submit a recipe to What's Cookin' Good Lookin'. We've all been busy with Thanksgiving, but it's not too late!

Now onto the tour!

When we're home, the hubs and I spend 90% of our time in the living room. It's a really large room that boasts beautiful dark hardwood floors and is in the center of our lower level. It's easily the hub of our home. I've tried to make it a light, airy, and inviting room but the decorating is still not quite done. We've come along way though...shall we take a look?

Here are some pictures from our inspection. Disregard the decor, it was the previous owners and we're not here to judge their furnishings. Different strokes for different folks. I would like you to take note, however, that there was no overhead lighting in the room, and the door in the corner was blocked with furniture. The previous owners never used that door. It leads to our laundry room which is also attached to kitchen. Did you notice the dirty white walls and dirty cream trim? It was the only room in the house that did not have dark blue molding (you'll meet that later this week) and desperately needed a paint job.

Now, here's a doozy- check out the mantle and built-ins (score!):

Are you digging the magenta parchment paper? Neither were we. How about the broken cabinet doors? Nosiree.

Another issue we had with our living room was that it was cut off from the rest of the home:

On the other side of the wall with the desk is the kitchen. That wall was begging to be torn open. Let's rephrase, the hubs was begging to tear that wall open.

So, our issues with the living room when we moved in:
1. No over head lighting
2. Yucky paint
3. Yuckier pink paper
4. Closed off from the rest of the home

Ready for what we did? Take a peek:

The first thing we did when we moved in was install overhead lighting (hired the pros for that). The room felt cave-like without it. I know not everyone is a fan (hehe) of ceiling fans, but the hubs and I love them. They help keep our house cool, so they're fine with us!

Now for the fire place, the very first thing I did when I walked into our home after closing was rip off the pink parchment. Thankfully, it came off so easily! We also removed the doors from the bottom of the built-ins. I love, love, love built-ins and am thankful we have them. Excuse the dog crate by the way, that's not part of the decor.

Now for the big stuff:

Check out the breakfast bar that the hubs (and friends) built. I think I've told you before that I was a little wary, but I'm so glad I let the hubs have his way with this. He was so very right. It completely opens up our living room and makes life and entertaining that much easier.

And there you have it, our living room. There are still things I want to fix up, and I am dying to tile the first place with glass tiles, but we'll get there.

Stay tuned for a tour of our dining room and to meet the infamous dark blue trim. Warning, it's not pretty!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

What's Cookin' Good Lookin'?

It's that time of week again, my friends. Time to get cooking!

What's Cookin' Good Lookin' is my attempt at a blog recipe exchange. I get tired of making the same things over and over again, and am looking to my blog friends to help spice up my life...in the kitchen. So please participate in this recipe exchange in return for some great recipes!

Here's how to join:

1) Must be a "This Life of Ours" follower to join

You can follow by clicking on the "follow" button over there ------>
2) Blog about what's for dinner in your house or share an old post with a recipe that you love!

3) Scroll down to the bottom of this blog post and click on the link to enter.

4) Post your recipe (with the title of your blog) and you're ready to go!

5) Every Sunday night I will make one of the entered recipes and blog about it.
(entries must be in by 12:00pm on Saturday)

***For extra super cool bonus points, please put a link to What's Cookin' Good Lookin' in your blog post to help get more bloggers and recipes to join! Our kitchen's are about to get a lot more fun!***

*** If you try a recipe, please comment and let us know how it was ***

Now for this week's contribution.

Since it's Thanksgiving tomorrow, I'm getting my cranberry sauce ready to bring to a friend's house. Cranberry sauce is often overlooked, but with this recipe, your turkey may have some competition!
Orange Cranberry Sauce
(makes three cups) 

  • 1 1/2 cups orange marmalade
  • 2/3 cup orange juice
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries 
  • 1/4 cup sugar (if you like it sweeter than tart) 
  1. Mix marmalade, juice and cinnamon stick in a saucepan, bring to boil.
  2. Add cranberries, return to boil.
  3. Simmer and cook until cranberries pop and thicken, about 8-10 minutes.
  4. Add sugar (if you're going the sweet route) and remove from heat, cool.
Enjoy! Can't wait to see what you're all cooking up this week. Please spread the word to your friends so we all can get some yummy new recipes (and followers). 

and the winner is....

You've won yourself a gorgeous print of your choice. Please contact me at thislifeofoursblog@gmail.com and I'll tell you how to claim your prize.

Please post about your new print so we can all see!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Friendly Reminder

 Now that those two adorable faces have gotten you attention...

The winner of my first give away will be announced tomorrow. Don't forget to enter!

A stroll through my neighborhood

The weather here in Virginia this weekend was perfection at nearly 70 degrees without a cloud in the sky. Since the hubs isn't home these days, I decided to take a walk with two of my other favorite buddies; my camera and Macie. Together we captured how my neighborhood is adjusting to fall.

my  lovely assistant

Most of the trees here are still holding onto their leaves which have changed into a warm rainbow of color. Many of the tree's foliage have taken on a dark, crimson red. When the sun hits, they almost look as if they're on fire. 

Isn't mother nature incredible?


 Other trees have taken on a bright orange hue. Makes me ready for pumpkin pie.

Though most are holding strong, some trees are showing signs that winter is coming.

To battle those cold winter nights, some neighbors have ordered wood for their fireplaces.

While others still hold on tight to fall memories.

And, like many things in life, always expect the unexpected. Sometimes you may just find a cactus in the middle of a city.

How is fall looking over in your neck of the woods, city, suburbs?

Monday, November 22, 2010

House Tour Part Two: The Downstairs Bathroom

When we toured our home for the first time, the downstairs bathroom was what stood out to us the most. It made a huge first impression on us. Good thing we don't judge a house by it's bathroom a book by it's cover because this bathroom could have had us running for dodge. Here's why:

First off, let's take a look at the wooden toilet seat and ginormous blue throne. Not only were they horrendous and 50 years old (yep, original toilet) but with a tank that large, the commode was a water guzzler. Talk about flushing money down the toilet. Do you love the 50 year old sink? It reminded me of being in a 1950's prison, or school house. I almost didn't want to wash my hands after using the bathroom...but I did, promise.

What do you think of the blue flooring? Chic? Geometric? Hideous? How about the totally fabulous vanity mirror with blinking side lights? It's all the rage in Paris. I think.

Clearly this bathroom was from a different era, an era that existed well before me and the hubs. It had to go. The problem? Redoing a bathroom from head to toe is expensive. Really expensive. Since we had just done the kitchen from top to bottom, there wasn't room in the budget to gut the bathroom. So...we worked with what we had. And here they are:

The one thing our bathroom kinda had going for itself were these vintage hand-painted tiles. They're not our style by any means, but our house is 50 years old and sometimes it's nice to pay homage to it's age. So, instead of declaring war against our middle-aged porcelain, we formed an alliance. We were going to work together to create a nice bathroom. Here's what we achieved:

One coat of paint, water efficient toilet, new pedestal sink,  simple medicine cabinet, ceramic tile floor, clean roman shade, and light fixture later, here's our brand spankin' not so new bathroom. It's still not our style, but we're so happy that we were able to create a clean, new, and notsobad bathroom for less than $500. 

The best part? We did it all ourselves! No professionals needed. Except, I would now consider the hubs a professional toilet installer- that man can rock a wax ring.

This bathroom was a major lesson to us that if you work with what you have, sometimes it can actually pay off. It's not a new bathroom, but it looks completely different and we're pretty happy with the result.

So, how about all your DIYers out there? Ever had to work with something you didn't love because you couldn't change it? How'd it work out for you?
Stay tuned for part three of our house tour when I show you the living room!

PS- Don't forget to enter my first give away! It closes on Wednesday, so hurry!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

What's Cookin' Good Lookin' Review: Jayme's Perfect Chili

I was excited by the amount of participation in our recipe swap this week (Thank you, Adrian, Missy, and Lindsey!) and am hoping for even more next week! Tell your friends to come join in on the fun!
It was hard to decide which recipe to cook and review because they all sounded so great but I'm a chili fan and I could not resist trying Jayme's recipe.

I make chili often and this is my go to recipe. I love it's sweet and spicy kick and that it's jam packed with veggies. The nice thing about chili is that there are so many variations and I really love that Jayme's chili sounds so very different than mine. It's nice to switch things up, hence this recipe swap!

Here's how it went:

I followed Jayme's recipe very closely but did make three adjustments to suit my tastes.

1. I used ground turkey instead of beef (personal preference)
2. I omitted beans and replaced with corn (I'm not a bean fan)

3. I added some orange peppers along with onion (love me some veggies)

After a dash of Budweiser and a big splash of Tiger Sauce (my favorite hot sauce ever) I allowed the recipe to simmer for 30 minutes as directed.

 Here is my final result:

My review: I think the recipe was thrown off a bit because it lacked beans but it was still really good chili. I loved how I could really taste the meat and different veggies. This makes a thick chili that is not soupy at all and I think the hubs will love it. I prefer my chili a little sweeter than this recipe, but I would (and will!) definitely make this again.

Thanks so much for the recipe, Jayme! Can't wait to see what you all come up with next week.

Did anyone else try a recipe in our swap? I'd love to hear your experiences.

Don't forget to enter in my first give away! is open until Wednesday! Enter to win an awesome print from Font Supply!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

House Tour Part One: The Kitchen

Before you start, don't forget to enter in my first give away!

When the hubs and I first bought our home, we both decided that the first project on our very long list of things to do was to redo the bathrooms. They were old, unattractive, and just plain unsanitary. We knew the kitchen would have to be done as well, but there just wasn't a budget for that type of job.

Enter our friend Carrie. Carrie and her husband Adrian closed on their condo on our one week houseiversary. We went over to see their place and were floored. Her kitchen had just undergone a major and expensive renovation. It was phenomonal. After a great night toasting Carrie and Adrian's new home, the hubs and I came home to our kitchen, looked at each other, and decided we would be heading to Lowes the following day to order cabinets.

You see, it wasn't that we were just jealous of Carrie's amazing kitchen aesthetic appeal (which we were), it was also the fact that her kitchen was clean and functional. In our kitchen, we had to wash dishes as we took them out of the cupboards. Think I'm exaggerating? Here's a peak inside:

I'm not sure which was worse- dirty blue cabinet or dirty blue cabinet plus peeling dirty wallpaper. Bon Appetit!

Now, as I said before, it wasn't just sanitary reasons that expedited our need for a new kitchen. It was  just plain old ugly and outdated. Think early 90's, copper range hood, older than dirt appliances and laminate everything:

Our kitchen not only harbored dirt and burned our corneas, but it also was completely cut off from the rest of the home. At the time, this was probably a great thing. Out of sight, out of mind. But, with a new kitchen coming, we wanted to try and make it more open to the house.

This is the wall across from the cabinets. It was lined with shelves across it's entire length. Where hubs and our pixelated inspector are pictured was a small table.

Ready for the reveal? After 4 weeks, help from some very talented friends, and discovering a dead mouse in the wall (good thing I wasn't there that day) here's what we did:

With friends, we hung new cabinets, installed the hardware, laid a new ceramic floor, added a tile black splash, traded out the copper hood for a microwave range, and painted (two times- hated the first color). I love our new kitchen and am so proud that we did much of it ourselves.

We did hire some professionals to help with big stuff like move and add electrical outlets, install the dishwasher (it was free installation chaching!) deliver the stove (also free- bam!) and install the granite (got a super deal!)

I have saved the best for last though! Remember how I told you our kitchen was cut off from the rest of the house and showed you the wall of shelves? Now that we had a kitchen we loved, we wanted to be able to see it at all times. My brilliant hubs had the idea to cut a pass through and breakfast bar from the kitchen into the living room. I was nervous about it at first but the hubs was right:

I love how we now have access to the kitchen from the living room and vice versa. What made it even better was that we had enough extra granite from our slab to cover the bar. We eat at our table often and when we have friends over for a casual meal, the boys usually sit at the breakfast bar and the girls are at the table. It works for us!

And that's how we turned a disgusting (there, I said it) kitchen into one that's well...not disgusting. Stay tuned for the next part of our tour when I show you the downstairs bathroom. Get ready for groovy baby blue 1960's tile...Saweet!

Friday, November 19, 2010

My First Giveaway!!!

I am so super duper excited to share This Life of Our's first ever give away.

You may remember my grouping from a few weeks back that I absolutely adore.

Do you remember I told you about my super adorable "R" monogram that I ordered off of Etsy?

Here's a closeup to jog your memory:

It has gotten loads of compliments...I love compliments :)

Well, the amazingly talented Arian of Font Supply over on Etsy has graciously agreed to send one This Life of Ours reader a print of their very own. Woohooo!!!

Monograms are so in these days and with the holidays right around the corner, what better time to buy? Arian's store is even offering a buy one get one free special so check her out for some great holiday gifts.

Here's how to enter:

Must be a This Life of Ours follower.

Comment back with your favorite print and who you would give it to.

I will pick the winner using Random.org and announce it on Wednesday.

Happy Shopping!

PS- Don't forget to join in on the fun at What's Cookin' Good Lookin' and bring some friends! Recipe swap closes at 12pm on Saturday and I will review one recipe on Sunday!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Starting at the beginning

Well Hey All! Don't forget to participate in What's Cookin' Good Lookin'? I can't wait to see (and taste) what you all come up with!

It dawned on me that I've been showing you all of our home decorating, but I've never taken the time to show you the last year of house work. From tiling, to painting, to cutting down walls...we've been busy. Today, I will start with the story of our home, which is on my "Our House" page and follow up daily with a tour of each room in our home. Get ready!

Here she is- home sweet home! Built in 1959, our house is twice our age, but we treat her like our very high maintenance child. Over the last year, Paul and I have put everything we have into her and the work is still going. She is high maintenance but we love her nonetheless.

How our house came to be ours is actually pretty interesting. During our first year in Virginia we rented a home as we did not know if we would stay in the area once Paul completed flight training. In April of 2009, we got the word that we would be staying here for at least three more years. We were so tired of throwing money down the hole every month in rent so it was time to take the next step...purchasing a house. Yikes!

We started the home search in May and narrowed it down to two neighborhoods, though our hearts were truly set on one. Truth be told, the city in which we live has some pretty rough spots so location was key and we were determined to move into the neighborhood of our choice.

Throughout the search for our home, which brought us into over 100 homes (picky much?), Paul and I always liked one particular street. The houses were quaint, it was less than a 1/2 mile from my work, there was no traffic, and it was set back in the corner of our dream neighborhood. We also had the style of house picked out that we wanted: a smallish, brick cape cod with shutters. During our home search, a hobby of ours was to drive through our desired neighborhood and to look for new "for sale" signs. On one occasion, as we drove down our favorite street, I picked out a house and said, "I want a house just like that one." Too bad it wasn't for sale.

Fast forward two months. Our lease was about to run out, we'd looked at every home in our price range and came up with nothing. We were desperate to find a house or we would be forced to sign a new lease for another year. Another year of money down the hole. Knowing how desperate we were, our realtor sent out a letter to everyone in our desired neighborhood to see if they were willing to sell by the end of July. She had one response. One. A couple who had grown too old to care for their house. A house that was a brick cape cod with shutters. A house that was on our desired street. A house that was in our price range.

The house that I had picked out months before that made me say,
"I want a house just like that one."

You know the saying, "it's too good to be true," well, this time it wasn't. To make a long story short, that house is now our house and we could not be happier. Not many people hand pick their dream home when it's not even for sale and end up living in it. I loved our house before it was even ours and I still do.
Stay tuned tomorrow for kitchen before and afters!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

What's Cookin' Good Lookin' - let's try this again!

With a few more readers than the last time I tried this, I want to give What's Cookin' Good Lookin' another chance!

What's Cookin' Good Lookin' is my attempt at a blog recipe exchange. I get tired of making the same things over and over again, and am looking to my blog friends to help spice up my life...in the kitchen. So please participate in this recipe exchange in return for some great recipes!

Here's how to join:

1) Must be a "This Life of Ours" follower to join

You can follow by clicking on the "follow" button over there ------>

2) Blog about what's for dinner in your house or share an old post with a recipe that you love!

3) Scroll down to the bottom of this blog post and click on the link to enter.

4) Post your recipe and you're ready to go!

5) Every Sunday night I will make one of the entered recipes and blog about it.
(entries must be in by 12:00pm on Saturday)

***For extra super cool bonus points, put a link to What's Cookin' Good Lookin' in your blog post to help get more bloggers and recipes to join! Our kitchen's are about to get a lot more fun!***

Here's my entry, and oldie but goodie and the hub's favorite meal!

Spinach Tortellini Bake

 Serves 4 (or 2 really hungry people- don't judge)
  • 1 lb cheese tortellini
  • 1 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 2 (or more if you're like me) garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2 cups fat free half and half
  • 1 bag of baby spinach (I use organic, not that it matters)
  • ground black pepper
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese or to your liking
  • crushed spicy red pepper (optional)


  1. Pre-heat the broiler.
  2.  Place a large pot of water over high heat to boil. Once boiling, cook the pasta according to package.
  3. While the pasta is cooking, place a large skillet over medium heat with the butter. Cook the garlic in the butter until aromatic, about 1 minute, then sprinkle the flour into the butter and cook for another minute while stirring. Allow to thicken
  4. Whisk the half and half into the mixture and add parmesan little by little. Stir until mixed and add red pepper if desired. Allow to thicken.
  5. Add spinach. Cook until wilted
  6. Once sauce is thickened and tastes to your liking, add the tortellini. Coat the tortellini in sauce and mix it all up.
  7. Transfer everything to a large casserole dish and sprinkle with additonal parmesan and pepper if desired.
  8. Place under the broiler to brown, about a minute.



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