Michelle's Blog

My life as a wife, homemaker, friend, Christian

Dining Room April 3, 2009

Filed under: Creativity,decorating,home — mrswade @ 12:09 pm
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When I’m stressed, or just daydreaming, my mind always goes to interior design, specifically in my own house.  A couple weeks ago I went on a field trip with Interior Design II to find inspiration for our project this semester, the lobby of a dorm on campus.  It was SO hard for me to pay attention to what would work in the Penn Lobby and not just focus on what I wanted in my own home!  We went to a hotel called The Nines in Portland, and it was gorgeous!  I was super inspired by one of their dining areas!  Here are a few pics before I go on:




I at first fell CRAZY in love with the canning jars sitting on re-claimed wood shelves along the wall.  I loved the variety of colors, orange, yellow, green, purple, brown, grey.  I have never considered myself to be a big purple fan…actually…I’ve never liked purple, but I LOVED this purple!  I loved it combined with all the other colors.  I also loved all the textures!  This dinning area was super elegant yet still very cozy!

I want to do something similar to this in my dinning room.  I would like to only have one wall of reclaimed wood shelves (built by my loving husband 🙂 ) that not only serves as decoration, but serves as storage!  I plan on canning a lot this summer (which I’m sure I’ll blog about a little later) so this is not only gorgeous but functional!

My dining table at the time was strictly green and yellow, just like my kitchen, a “happy fruit” theme of lemons, limes, pears and apples.  So, it didn’t quite fit the new look I’m trying to go for, however my dishes were already perfect for this theme.  I love my dishes, they are perfect for every-day use and elegant enough for special occasions!  At Fred Meyer I found, on super sale, some great eggplant and cream, chunky plaid place mats and napkins.  I got 4 of each for around $10 total and saved more than I spent!  The place-mats have one purple square that has the texture of a dish cloth, kind of waffle-y.  I love that it mixes things up a bit.  I already had yellow napkins and they also go perfectly with my purple place-mats.  I have dark, olive green glasses, another of the many colors I found in the dinning room at The Nines.  When Jake and I were in California, visiting his grandparents, we went garage sale-ing and there I found 4 super cute purple bottles, and 6 amazing vintage, orange, glass plates.

Today I set them all up, and LOVED the result!  All I need to do now, is can away and get Jake to make me some shelves when we move into our new apartment!  Maybe work on getting a different dinning set as well…


Daffodils that Jake picked for me, from the side of the road, on our 4 year dating anniversary 🙂




I found this at a lighting store on our Portland field trip and thought it would go really well with the rest of the design for the dinning room.  Of course it is thousands of dollars, but I still really liked the amber and the frosted glass.


That’s all for now 🙂 but I’m sure I’ll have plenty to show later!


Homemade Crackers! YES!

Filed under: frugal,Recipes — mrswade @ 10:32 am
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While attempting to buy nothing in a box and make everything I can in my own kitchen, I find a lack of snack foods.  Planning meals is one thing, but what happens if you get a little munchy before or after?!  I made biscotti, which was REALLY good but not something you can sit there an munch, it’s a one-time-snack. 🙂  Mikaela did these first and recommended them to me.  The recipe came from one of our favorite food blogs, 101cookbooks.  They were UBER good! yay 🙂


If you have trouble tracking down semolina flour, just substitute white whole wheat flour (or all-purpose flour), it will be make a slightly different cracker but should still work. To get creative with your crackers you can top them with lots of things before baking: freshly grated cheese, artisan salts, cornmeal, a dusting of your favorite spice blend, seeds, or a wash of your favorite flavored or infused oil. You can simply cut the unbaked cracker dough into various shapes using one of those pizza cutting wheels.

1 1/2 cups semolina flour
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour (or all-purpose flour)
1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1 cup warm water
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

special equipment: pasta machine (optional)

Whisk together the flours and salt. Add the water and olive oil. Using a mixer with a dough hook attachment mix the dough at medium speed for about 5 – 7 minutes. Alternately, feel free to mix and then knead by hand on a floured counter-top. The dough should be just a bit tacky – not too dry, not too sticky to work with. If you need to add a bit more water (or flour) do so.

When you are done mixing, shape the dough into a large ball. Now cut into twelve equal-sized pieces. Gently rub each piece with a bit of olive oil, shape into a small ball and place on a plate. Cover with a clean dishtowel or plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for 30 – 60 minutes.

While the dough is resting, preheat your oven to 450F degrees. Insert a pizza stone if you have one.

When the dough is done resting, flatten one dough ball. Using a rolling pin or a pasta machine, shape into a flat strip of dough – I can usually get down to the 4 setting on my pasta machine w/o trouble. Pull the dough out a bit thinner by hand (the way you might pull pizza dough). You can also cut the dough into whatever shape you like at this point. Set dough on a floured (or cornmeal dusted) baking sheet, poke each cracker with the tines of a fork to prevent puffing, add any extra toppings, and slide into the oven (onto the pizza stone). Repeat the process for the remaining dough balls, baking in small batches. If you don’t have a pizza stone, bake crackers a few at a time on baking sheets. Bake until deeply golden, and let cool before eating – you will get more crackery snap.

I added some of my fresh herbs – thyme and rosemary, garlic salt, parmesan, seasoning salt and sage.  They were all VERY good and very easy!


Tomato Mozzarella Casserole

Filed under: frugal,Recipes — mrswade @ 10:12 am
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This one’s from my very dear friend Mikaela.  🙂  I was a little nervous about it at first because I’m really not a casserole fan, and I thought it would be really heavy because of the cheese.  NOT SO! It was AAAAAmazing! 🙂 yum!  

We took her suggestion to add some meat (but I accidentally added too much, so it didn’t all fit in the pan.  It’s ok though, because I had a make-shift spaghetti for lunch the next day with the noodles that didn’t fit. 🙂 



  • 1 lb. dry pasta (recipe calls for Ziti, but I used rotini… really, any short, sturdy pasta will work)
  • 1/2 lb lean ground beef or turkey
  • 1- 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 – 32 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 Tbls. vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbls. Fresh chopped basil (or 2 tsp. dried – I used Italian Herb Seasoning instead)
  • 1/2 tsp. (or more) salt
  • 1/4 tsp. sugar
  • 8 oz (2 cups) shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup. grated parmesan cheese
Cook pasta according to package in a large pot.  Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.  Put back in pot and set aside.  In a 12″ skillet, cook ground beef.  When done, drain off fat and rinse in a colander and add minced garlic cook until until tender, but do not brown.  Add tomatoes and simmer until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes.  Stir in basil, sugar, and salt.  Add sauce to the pasta and toss, adding the reserved pasta water as needed to loosen sauce.  
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spread 1/2 of the pasta mixture into an oiled 9 x 13 baking pan.  Sprinkle 1/2 of each type of cheese over the top.  Spread the rest of the pasta mixture, then the rest of the cheese.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.
Thanks Mikaela!


Filed under: frugal,Recipes — mrswade @ 9:52 am
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Again, I’m stealing these recipes from Lindsay over at Passionate Homemaking.  I love salads, but usually the only dressing Jake and I ever had on hand was ranch, it seemed way too expensive to get a bunch of other kinds of dressings, especially since they all had high fructose corn syrup in them.  I knew you could make salad dressing but pretty much thought that consisted of balsamic vinegar and olive oil.  Not so!  I made Italian, Caesar, Ranch and Creamy Lemon Poppyseed.  yuuuum! 


In front: Ranch in an old grated parmesan tub. In back from left to right: Caesar in an old olive oil bottle, Creamy Lemon Poppyseed in an old honey bottle and Italian in an old vanilla syrup bottle.

In front: Ranch in an old grated parmesan tub. In back from left to right: Caesar in an old olive oil bottle, Creamy Lemon Poppyseed in an old honey bottle and Italian in an old vanilla syrup bottle.


Jake and I normally only like Hidden Valley Buttermilk Ranch and really don’t like the kind you find at parties that is really thick.  This stuff is in consistency more like the party dip ranch, but I like it just as much as the Hidden Valley.  Jake still prefers Hidden Valley but likes this stuff as well.  It’s very thick, but you could probably thin it out with some milk.

  • 1 cup mayonaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp dried chives (I never have used these, as I don’t keep them on hand)
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp. dried dill weed
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt


This recipe doesn’t have a raw egg in it, which I’ve heard that the majority of caesar dressings have, I may try a different one after this one is gone, but this one is really good.

  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 Tbls. red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 Tbls. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tbls. anchovy paste (did not add, I am not a fan!)
  • 1/2 tsp dijon style mustard
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 3 Tbls. sour cream
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/8 tsp ground pepper

Creamy Lemon Poppyseed

I wanted to try a poppyseed dressing, this one is really good but I have found two others that I really want to try.  This amount fit perfectly in my honey bottle, so if you use yours up, put it right back in. 🙂  Yummy with fruit, nuts and cheese on the salad.

  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp. Dijo-style mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 Tbls. poppy seeds


I haven’t had this one more than once, but it was really good when I had it and Italian is Jakes favorite.  This one is easy to make and is a good staple salad dressing.

  • 1 cup of olive oil
  • 1/2 cup of Apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of onion powder
  • 2 tablespoon of whole grain mustard or dijion type mustard
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon of thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon of basil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • A pinch of Stevia, or 2-4 teaspoons of sugar or natural sweeter

Combine all ingredients and mix well before using.


Also,  note on making dressings.  If the dressings call for oil, add it last.  Combine all the herbs, spices, salts, sugar, etc in the vinegar first because they dissolve better in vinegar, the oil keeps things more separated.  Once everything is dissolved, then add the oil and shake! 🙂  




Filed under: home — mrswade @ 9:16 am
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So much blogging to catch up on after spring break!  


A couple weeks ago I realized how little I used spices (without them being called for) and how often I needed to omit a spice from a recipe because I didn’t have it.  I am a little scared of spices, I’m super scared that instead of enhancing whatever I have just made, it will ruin it with the wrong kind of strong flavor.  The only spices I am not afraid of are Italian spices because I’ve learned to use those ones pretty well.   (And can’t get enough rosemary!)  I had some basic spice staples, thanks to my step-mom who stalked me up a few years back, but I decided it was time for me to venture into spice world without holding someone’s hand.

I found this blog post on spices to have in your cupboard and many of their uses and combinations, so I took notes, and set out to Penzeys.  As a bonus, Cherise met me there for some company and catch up time while spicin’ it up. 🙂  On my list was the majority of the spices on the list in the post I mentioned earlier.  I came home with those, plus some, and minus chile powder (which I blame on Cherise 😉 haha).  The spices were sold by the jar (large and small) and by the bag (big, bigger, biggest).  The price for the big bag, was generally 1/2 the price of the large jar, for twice as much spice!  So even though I didn’t have Jars for them all I got the bags, and figured I’d find jars elsewhere.


mustard, poppy seeds, chives, cayenne red pepper, cloves, french tarragon, garlic powder, sage, onion powder, marjoram and all spice

mustard, poppy seeds, chives, cayenne red pepper, cloves, french tarragon, garlic powder, sage, onion powder, marjoram and all spice

When I got home I heated my oven to 200 and dried out some parsley I had so I didn’t have to buy that too.  I ended up finding jars but the baggies had so much spices in them that the jars were too small.  That’s fine though, I won’t be buying those spices for a very long time.  Now if I could just figure out how to use them. 🙂


all the new spices in their jars

all the new spices in their jars