Friday, June 29, 2012

Store Crashing–Target Edition

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I like Target. Some people prefer to doll things up by calling it Tar-Jay. Target is one of my favorite stores in the world to wander regardless of the pronunciation preference.

I say wander because I, amazingly enough, rarely buy anything here. Sure, they have candy that doesn’t seem to exist in any other stores, and that is what usually ends up being on my shopping list if I’m anywhere near a Target.

But I love going here for inspiration or fun finds. What? You do, too?! Well, then. Let me show you what was found yesterday when I crashed their home department!

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Even though these aren’t the colors that normally draw me in, I love these fun summer melamine dishes. Oddly enough, I am digging the coral a little more than the orange, but I love them both together. I also really like the tall hammered orange tumblers for some texture on a table.

They are just bright, happy, and scream, “Summer Party!” And I’m down with that.

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If I went with this color scheme, which I never would because of the severe lack of blue and green, then I would definitely go with this plate. If there was green in this guy, look out!

Glad I dodged that bullet, though. At $3.99 a plate, it wouldn’t be cheap to outfit an entire table with these melamine beauties!

I hope Hubby reads this so he knows that I actually do possess self-control when it comes to my purchases. I have admired these outdoor eating sets for months and haven’t done a thing about it. If you see him, tell him that I don’t spend money quite as recklessly as I could. Or wish I could.

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So I would put water in the tall tumblers, then a special fun dinner drink in these. My preferred poison is homemade strawberry lemonade. Is there anything better than strawberry seeds obstructing the path while you’re trying to get a big old chug of lemonade?

I didn’t think so.

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You know that I love blue, but did you also know that I adore little things? And these little blue dipping bowls fit both bills! I also love the wood serving tray underneath to add some texture.

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Now we’re talking, Colors. And this is where I could easily get into lots of trouble, since these are my greens and blues, yo! I love all of these fun, festive dishes for outdoor eating.

Now, if it would simply drop below 113 degrees, we could actually use our outdoor space!

Hey, Fall is only fourteen months away. Can’t wait!

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At first I didn’t know what these were. I thought someone had put a lamp over a sculpture in the store, just for kicks and giggles. But, upon closer inspection, I discovered that they really were lamps! I’m not much of a fan and would certainly never get one for my house. But for some reason, they cracked me up. So I thought you would enjoy seeing them, too.

Target had a weird display in the works, and these were part of it. Honestly, I think they are gearing up for college starting in a few months. Because, you know, June is the perfect time to start putting out school year items!

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Lately, Target has been color-coding their home decorating department. I love it. You can directly visit the section of color found in your home and go to town. Once again, I didn’t go to town on any of these sections. If you see Hubby, let him know how fiscally responsible I’m being in Target today!

I love those tall plum glass vases, but luckily they wouldn’t match in my house. This is a rare instance where spray paint would not make things better.

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So simple. So pretty. I liked this lamp and immediately imagined Christmas-themed stuff inside. Christmas is less than six months away, just in case you didn’t know. Wahooooo!

Because the lamp is so simple, you could really add some flare with a neat and colorful lamp shade.

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This was in a impractical-for-my-house red frame, but I love the picture inside. Since amusement parks make me so happy, the appeal is obvious. I like even more that it looks like such an old park, like straight out of the 1940s! (It’s a graaaaaand night, for siiiiiingiiiiing). If I could get rid of the glare on the glass, I would love to frame this on a gallery wall in my home.

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More things from the red section. I feel badly for the color-blind customers!

This pillow was so pretty, and I loved the dimension. If it was green or blue, we may have had some trouble on our hands. I am on a search for some new couch pillows of my own, but red simply wouldn’t work in my house.

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But don’t you love the up-close detail of the pillow? Sometimes, for rare fleeting moments of my life, I wish that I could sew and owned all of the equipment to do such.

Luckily for me and everyone else, the moment passes before I can act on it. So I will simply admire pretty sewn stuff and move along the line.

I don’t think that I’m patient enough to enjoy sewing. And I hate when machines are smarter than me!

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I loved these decorative shape thing-a-ma-bobs, though I have no way to justify the price for each one. Really? $8 for that little guy? This is great proof of why I rarely make purchases in this, one of my favorite stores. If I fall in love with something here, it eventually appears at TJ Maxx. And for about a third of the price of these shelves.

These would probably end up spray-painted if I was the proud owner. But probably knew that already, huh?

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Now we’re talking! I still have a few bare walls in my house (shocking, I know), and these would be perfect to create a fun gallery wall. I could see twenty or thirty of them randomly placed with cool family pictures inside.

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I love that they come in three shades of my favorite color. And, at $5.99 for a three-pack, they are less than two bucks a piece. Not too shabby. I almost pulled the trigger on these but didn’t.

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Target always has a wonderful selection of fake plants. If you knew my track record with real plants, you would completely understand why their version of fakes make me so happy. I tend to kill plants just by looking at them any more. I think fake will be the way I am for the rest of my life!

In plants, you guys! In plants! Fake plants!

Unlike lots of other stores, these flowers look like they were just clipped out of your unsuspecting neighbor’s flower garden. I love their authenticity and variety.

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And if I allowed myself to spend $9 a stem, these puppies would have come home with me. Even though my house isn’t exactly pink, these are soft and pretty and looked so real!

We would probably develop an indoor bee problem if these were ours.

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So I’ve never been afraid of color, and I am somewhat of a fan of organizing things. Here combines those two passions with colorful storage bins for any room! Even the orange is so cool. I was debating between orange and yellow for my accent color in the house way back when.

Yellow won out, obviously, because I have a giant yellow dresser in my living room. But orange was a very close second. I love orange.

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Parker, I instantly thought of you when I saw this writer kit. How cool would it be to have this in your writing tools?

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And if these hadn’t been $10, I would have snatched them up in a heartbeat. I don’t know if I’m cool enough to get away with serving people iced dentures in their drinks, but I would love the chance to find out.

Target had a bunch of little eclectic things like this. Again, I think they are gearing up for the college kids who will be returning in August.

Does that mean I am not acting my age if I love these?!

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In my most difficult move of the day, I passed by this clearance rack without purchasing a single thing. What’s wrong with me?! These giant lanterns were on sale for just over $4, and I have been wanting lots of lanterns to hang among the outdoor patio lighting that we presently have. Down from $12, I really wish I could justify owning about a dozen of these guys.

Yes, I would spray paint them. Did you really need to ask?

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You know, because June is the best time to start getting rid of your outdoor furniture section in the store. I wouldn’t mind if Christmas trees appeared here next, but some people would probably complain about that.

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This was my favorite find of the day for Hubby! I took this picture to show him last night. I wanted approval to get it for him, since he has lots of Scout camping planned over the next few months. But he didn’t get the joke! I had to explain the shirt to him! Which cracked me up even more. Wouldn’t this be an awesome t-shirt to own?

So that concludes this episode of Target Crashing. What have you seen oot and aboot lately that you love? Why is Target one of your favorite places to “shop?”

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Let’s Get Our Potato Salad On

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I promised you yesterday, in a mouth-watering post about French Dip Sandwiches from the slow cooker, that I would let you in on a delicious recipe for potato salad.

I like to keep promises, so here you are!

As I was looking at some of these photos, the potato salad actually resembles scrambled eggs! I am pretty sure they were potatoes and not eggs, though. I think scrambled eggs and French Dip Sandwiches would be a little too spontaneous…even for me! Miss Spontaneity!

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I’m pretty sure that this color was due to the use of good ol’ fashioned mustard in this recipe. I’m not crazy about mustard (read: I passionately hate it), but I don’t mind a little bit in salad with spuds. Also, the hard-boiled eggs end up getting a little mixed in during stirring, so that could also be adding to the yellow color.

You can make adjustments to this recipe in whatever way you want. I thought some chopped black olives would be yummy, but they are some of my favorite edible things in the world. You could also throw in some freshly-grated Cheddar cheese right at the end. Cheese, like bacon, just makes everything better.

Speaking of bacon, it is a must in this recipe. Just do it!

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I leave on the skins during boiling, since they say that is where most of the nutrition resides. If I’m mixing a whole lotta mayonnaise into these potatoes, we need all the nutritional value that we can muster!

The good news is that I healthified this potato salad. *snort* No, really! Lots of recipes seem to think that approximately two cups of mayo should suffice in a recipe of this magnitude. I gagged when I read that, as I am not a huge mayo fan (don’t worry…Miracle Whip is an abomination of man as well). Sour cream tastes great in here and replaces half of the mayo while adding a nice tang and creaminess.

Your arteries will thank me some day.

I tried something new this time around, and it worked like a charm. I added some diced green onion and all of the salad spices to the bottom of a giant bowl. After the potatoes were drained but still warm, I placed them in the bowl and tossed them with the spices. Because everything was warm, they soaked up the flavor really well. It was all incredibly easy but added a nice dimension to the salad.

One thing I would change next time is to add the creamy mixture just before serving. That way, the salad tastes fresh and moist (crap, I used that word again!). Just mix up the sauce and put it into the refrigerator with the seasoned potatoes to cool. Before serving, pour over the spuds and toss.

Let me know how you like it. I made a full five-pound bag to feed us all week (and we haven’t even made a dent in it yet…), but you can certainly scale down this recipe to fit your pratty.

Bacon Potato Salad

5 pounds Idaho potatoes
2 batches Green Onions, thinly sliced, divided
1 teaspoon Salt
3/4 teaspoon Pepper
1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/2 teaspoon Paprika
1 pound Bacon, cooked and crumbled
10 Hard-Boiled Eggs, peeled and chopped

Wash and dice the potatoes (in similar size so everything cooks evenly) and place in a pot. Fill about one inch above the potatoes with cold water and place on a hot stove. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of salt in with the water for the potatoes to soak up while boiling. Potatoes are done when they are a firm fork-tender. You want them edible but firm enough to handle being mixed with other ingredients. After about ten minutes of boiling, drain the potatoes and add to a large bowl of spices with half the green onions (these will wilt but add nice flavor for now. We will add the rest of the green onions at the end to keep them crunchy). Place in the refrigerator to cool until service.

Creamy Sauce

3/4 cup Mayonnaise
3/4 cup Sour Cream
2 tablespoons Yellow Mustard (any mustard would be good here)
1 tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients until smooth. Place in the refrigerator with the potatoes until service. When ready to eat, pour over the potato mixture and stir. Add the eggs, bacon, and remaining green onions and stir again. Season with more salt and pepper to taste. Serve and enjoy!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Slow Cooker French Dip Goodness

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It’s never a good idea to flip through a recipe book when you’re hungry. Just thought I’d throw that out there in case you’re wondering when the best time should be to decide what to make for dinner.

Do it after you’ve eaten breakfast!

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Yesterday, I put a roast in the slow cooker and let it go crazy all day.

And then, thanks to Hubby working until 9:40 PM, we ate dinner in the dark. That explains the terrible pictures, in case you’re wondering. There isn’t much natural lighting at 9:40 in these parts.

Contrary to popular belief, we don’t live in Anchorage.

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After we had taken a few bites, I realized that this should be documented with photos so that I could share the recipe with you.

I’m usually a little late with these brilliant ideas, in case you didn’t know.

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Alongside our incredible pot roast French dip sandwiches, I made some potato salad. Since it’s a long and laborious recipe (just kidding…it’s worth it), I will post about it tomorrow!

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Every good French Dip sandwich needs some au jus for dunking. I just scooped up the yummy juices from the slow cooker to have for all of our dipping needs.

This actually worked well. The au jus moistened up the bread of the sandwich with every bite, and it had great flavor from cooking all day.

Sorry that I said “moist.”

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You’ve still got time to throw this into the slow cooker for dinner tonight! You won’t regret such an executive decision being made on behalf of your family. And they won’t mind, either!

French Dip Sandwiches

  • 1 2.5 - 3 pound Pot Roast
  • 2 packets Dry Onion Soup Mix
  • 2 cans Beef Broth (I just made my own from bullion)
  • 2 cups Water

Throw these ingredients into your slow cooker and stir. You can even sear the meat in a pan with olive oil before placing in the slow cooker for even more flavor. Cook on high until it starts to boil, then turn to low until you’re ready to eat. When the meat is tender, shred inside the slow cooker to allow some soaking-up of the juices. Steal some to eat to “ensure your seasoning is right.”

  • 6 large Crusty Rolls
  • Sliced Swiss Cheese
  • Butter
  • Caramelized Onions (if desired)

Just before you’re ready for dinner, slice your rolls and spread with butter. Broil until toasted in the oven. This is particularly a great idea when it’s 112 degrees outside and you like your oven being on. Then place your Swiss Cheese on top of the rolls and return to the broiler until melted.

Scoop your shredded (and well-drained to prevent sogginess) meat onto your rolls. Top with caramelized onions, if desired.

Pour some of the juices from the slow cooker pan into small bowls for au jus.

Serve with homemade potato salad (recipe coming tomorrow!) and enjoy.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

It’s An Animal House

I got to thinking lately…and you know that can’t be good.

For a person who isn’t crazy about owning animals (and we never will), we sure do have a bunch of fake ones throughout our house. I’ve added several since I last showed you around the place, so today seems to be a good day to introduce them to you.

Almost every room in the house has an animal in some form. And I love that.

This is Donkit. His not-so-distant cousin, Bunkey, lives in Albuquerque with my good friend, Susan. Donkit came to live with me as a wedding present from Susan and Robin, some of my favorite people in the world.

Donkit and Bunkey received their names when they got teased at school for not quite knowing what they were. Is it a rabbit? Or a donkey? Oh well. Donkit it is. Is that a bunny, or a donkey? Man, it’s getting harder to tell these days. We’ll just name him Bunkey! Combining two unknowns can make a known, in my scientific world.

Donkit happily lives in my office and reminds me of dear friends every time I’m in here working. He was made in Santa Fe is one of the most thoughtful presents that I’ve ever received.

You’ve already met my Moose. It feels weird saying that. He lives in the guest bathroom. Because what could be more welcoming than a moose in such an environment?

My sentiments exactly.

This little owl has been living in our bedroom for a few months now. I really like him, though he looks a little creepy up close.

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See what I mean? Creepy to the ninth degree.

Can we get this guy some wrinkle cream, please?!

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I found this little duck in Goodwill and promptly paid the $0.50 price tag. Animals aren’t as cheap as they once were, that’s for dang sure. A little bit of metallic spray paint fixed him right up, and now he greets our sleepover guests in the spare bedroom.

I peek in there every time I pass. Seeing ducks in my house just makes me happy. Maybe it’s just a phase. I just hope I’m doing it in a way that won’t make people cringe in four-hundred years when they excavate our house.

“Good grief, what were they thinking? Is that a spray-painted duck?!”

I love him. And that’s really all that matters, right?

You’ve already met this guy before, too. He is one of our first animal additions and has been happy here since we hammered his neck to the wall in a respectful manner last year. He is really quite polite and happily invites people into our house every time the doorbell rings.

I didn’t realize how many encyclopedia sets a gazelle could buy from solicitors!

He kinda has an Egyptian vibe going on with those eyes. He must get that from Hubby’s side of the family. I’m not nearly cool enough to be associated with Egypt.

Can you see her? I love this little duck. That’s right. TWO ducks in one house! And, if we’re being honest here, I’m always on the look-out for another. My motto in life is that one can never have too many ducks.

This is actually one of my favorite views of the house. I love walking down the hall from the bedrooms towards the living room and seeing this sight. After adding this blue glass vase, this is one of my favorite areas in my whole house!

It helps that a metallic silver duck is perched by the blue glass vase, mind you.

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Isn’t she pretty? Quack!

When I’m slaving away in a hot kitchen, this is my view of my living room. Have I mentioned lately how very much I love my scorpion-free home? For many reasons. But I must admit…the animals just add to my love.

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Now towards the other side of the house in my “reading nook.” This area is far from done, and a fake fireplace insert has been on my want-list for a long time. We also need a comfy and colorful rug underneath, since it’s practically impossible to read barefoot without something soft touching the feet.

I’m presently trying to convince Hubby how cool a used wood pallet wall would look instead of these fake, painted bricks. Texture, Nature, wood…it would bring lots of neat elements to this side of the house. I’ve seen it done here, but it would be all around our fireplace instead of as a headboard.

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Since Hubby isn’t on board just yet with my wood pallet idea, let’s simply enjoy our fine green steed. He has been with us for quite a while now, too, and I’m happy to report that the potty training went very well. Hardly any accidents.

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Look at that smug grin. He seems to know a secret that none of us do. I hope it has nothing to do with his recent potty training success.

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One last view of a horse. I love this part of the house because of all the bright colors. But it needs something more. If I can’t get Hubby to like my wood pallet idea, then maybe I will paint this as a feature wall.

Wood would be way cooler.

So, now you’ve met and re-met all of the animals in our place. I certainly have fun trying to meet our animal-acquisition quota each month. And the best part is that not a single one of these animals sheds or requires feeding!

That we know of…

Monday, June 25, 2012

A Breakfast Feast

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I hope that you’ve already had breakfast. Because you’re going to get unexplainably hungry within the next few minutes.

A wonderful new breakfast eatery  was discovered on Saturday with some girlfriends from my neighborhood. For those of you who can compare, I thought this place was just as good, if not better, than Crackers CafĂ©. I love them both, really, but it was lovely trying a new place with such a fun menu.

Selecting from the endless list of breakfast items proved trickier than I thought. Luckily, my good friend, Ann, was with me in battle. We decided to get two dishes and split them, thus eliminating the need to pick just one.

These pictures are the half portions, just so you know. They split everything for us on individual plates.

Above, you can see that we shared the Crack ‘O Dawn Parlour Creation, which came in a skillet with scrumptious potatoes, ham, cheese, onions, and eggs scrambled on top (we went with scrambled after finding out that “basted” means runny…and therefore gross). On the side was a perfectly-toasted-and-buttered English muffin.

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Our next selection was the English Toast with a French Flair. Let’s just say that cinnamon bread made into French toast is just pure heaven on a plate. Is that warm syrup on the table to pour over that pound of butter? Well, OK then.

I really had every intention of bringing some leftovers home for Hubby. I should be ashamed to admit that this didn’t happen, but it honestly couldn’t be helped. The food was so good that I couldn’t stop eating it! Is that a reasonable excuse?

If you’re in the Phoenix area and love eating breakfast as much as me, then give TC Eggington’s a try. I know that I’m taking the family there next time they’re all in town! And don’t forget to use their call-ahead waiting list! The five of us were shown to our table immediately and got quite the daggers as we walked past all of the other waiting customers.

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