the joys of cooking. and baking.

another one of my goals for this year is to cook more at home. d and i actually made this resolution a few months back while looking over the budget. i knew we were wasting a bunch of money every month on eating out, but didn't really want to acknowledge it. well, we've been doing pretty good for these few months, but it's getting harder and harder to decide what to cook. i have a few make-ahead meals that get started in the crock-pot before i leave in the morning, but i try to limit that to once a week so we don't get tired of those recipes. i have found a few new and wonderful blogs, though, that will hopefully help me out this year. not only do these gals take amazing photos of their food, but they always have stories that are amusing and fun to read... here are a few of my favorite new food sites...
(all photos from their respective websites)

The Pioneer Woman Cooks. ree is amazing. she recently released her own cookbook but she shares lots of recipes on her website. like this chicken parmigiana. which i made last night. which is amazing! so tasty and it wasn't that hard to put together. AND she gives you lots of direction and photos of pretty much every step. i did change it up a little to reflect stuff we already had in the pantry and our own likes and dislikes... but d said i could keep making this (this is always a big deal, my friends) !! i have already printed a few other recipes from her website that i can't wait to try out...

Bakerella. this is more for those who want to make sweet treats. i haven't made these cute little 'cake pops' yet, but i have an upcoming 'event' i'd really like to try them out for... yes, one that does involve babies. but it does not directly involve me... i honestly don't bake a lot, other than for special occasions, because... well... i tend to want to eat sweets constantly if they are in the house. but, this chick has a great sense of humor and beautifully styled photos.

Kiss My Spatula. this girl is a do-it-yourself-er. from goat cheese (above) to soy milk, she isn't afraid to try making something herself. and... she pairs her recipes with songs for the perfect setting. while there aren't tons of recipes on there that i will likely try myself (lets just say i can barely get d to eat cheddar cheese...) her stories and photos are enough to keep me coming back.


a new year.

i know everyone else is posting or has already posted about their new year's resolutions, but i kind of feel like putting it out there for everyone to read would be good for me. please note this is my watered down, condensed list. i didn't want to bore you all to death.

become a more healthy eater. i'll admit, i probably eat fast food hamburgers and corn dogs way more often than is recommended. i'm not saying you shouldn't enjoy a little grease every once in a while, but moderation is the key to everything, right?

grow my own veggies. i got about 3 teeny tiny tomatoes from my efforts last year and i'm not too happy about it. this year, i should have a little more time on my hands to take care of the garden, so i'm going to focus on veggies and herbs more and flowers less.

be a better housekeeper. not only in keeping the house looking nice, but keeping clutter from taking over. i have gone to several estate sales this year that i thought as i looked around... this is going to be me... with just STUFF that i have collected over a lifetime that nobody wants. i don't want to be that person. so i am getting rid of all the things i really don't need in my life and just holding onto the stuff that we use and that really means something. a really great quote that i need to engrave in my mind... "have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful" (william morris) i actually prefer my things to be both... but that doesn't always happen.

take more photos. i want to keep improving my photography skills, and the only way to do that is to get out there and shoot. i have a few folks who are willing to be my guinea pigs... now if it will just warm up outside... i guess i will just have to be content taking pictures of the dogs (that's right, we have a new little critter now... photos soon to come) all snuggly on the blankets for now.

i also wanted to take some time to let you all know that i will not longer be selling my books on etsy. it has been a great run, but i knew from the beginning that this wasn't going to be a permanent gig on my part and i think the time has come. my husband has found a great full-time job that he loves and now that we both work 'normal' hours i feel like my time should be spent pursuing more of my own interests and hobbies as well as spending more time with loved ones. please know that i will still be making books as well as invitations, announcements, etc. for friends and family...