Hey Hey! It’s Friday!

Man this week flew by!  Although, yesterday felt like Friday to me…. don’t you hate it when that happens?

Anyway, on to what we were up to this week!

1. On Wednesday I took a little road trip with a friend and our babies which ended up at the outlet mall.  I was surprisingly restrained there.

2. Wednesday night we met up with hubby’s work folks at Pompieri Pizza, here in Durham.  Oh. My. Goodness.  I was so looking forward to this meal, and it did not disappoint!  I managed to escape without taking pictures, because we dove into our food ASAP.

My husband ordered the BC Pie, which came with mushrooms, goat cheese, roasted garlic, rosemary and olive oil (yum!).  I ordered the White Florian, which was a mix of romano, pecorino, and mozzarella cheese, with fresh garlic and lemon oil (drool!).  Elizabeth happily munched on the crusts 🙂

Oh my word, if you are ever in the Bull City, eat there.  And invite me along.

3. Elizabeth has been favoring eating real food this week, so I’ve been racking my brain at breakfast, lunch and dinner as to what to give her.  We’re basically doing Baby Led Weaning, which we’re enjoying.  This week she inhaled chunks of corn on the cob! She’s also loving blueberries! (Although, I didn’t realize blueberries going in = one big giant blueberry skin coming out.  Gross.)

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4. And then, some things to look forward to!  We are hosting a Potluck Brunch at our house on Sunday, and we’re really looking forward to that.  I’ve been zooming around the house prepping for everyone to come over!  I plan on contributing a few things, including this DELICIOUS Cinnamon Roll Quick Bread!  This is so yummy.  I’m tempted to make a second one JUST so I can eat it all by myself.  I’ll also be making a batch of scones and a frittata.  We’re also in charge of drinks!  Can’t wait!

5. Finally, look out folks!  Husband has the weekend off.  And not just “technically working on Sunday, but I’ll be home by 10am” either.  Looks like the Doctor can relax and put his feet up.  My in-laws are also visiting this weekend, and I know my husband is super excited to see them! (Or maybe it’s because my Father-in-Law just bought a new Corvette, and he’s driving that down for Hubby to see…. not sure which one he’s more excited for)

So what were you up to this week?  I’d love to hear about it!!  Hope you have a stellar weekend 🙂

Linking up with:

 photo H54Fbutton_zps973d26e1.png THE GOOD LIFE BLOG

Organizing Tips for the Nursery Closet on a Budget



Budget Nursery Closet Tips | The Cup of Tea blog

I’ve been really excited to share this with you! (despite my “stellar” photography skills) I’m pretty proud of my daughter’s nursery closet.  It’s very functional and tidy!  And easy to find what I need.

When I was getting our nursery ready for our little one, I researched and researched how to organize all that tiny stuff.  I watched videos on YouTube, read multiple blogs, and noticed the typical ways parents organized their newborn’s closet: either 1) install a closet organization system, 2) slide a dresser into the closet (cute idea!), or 3) purchase some hanging organizers.

Hanging organizers made the most sense to me.  I didn’t want to spend the money on a closet organization system for a baby’s needs, when a toddler or small child may have different needs.  And sliding a dresser into the closet didn’t make sense in our shallow closet.

I wanted some pretty hanging organizers in a print, and I found these adorable toile patterned ones from IKEA.  There were 7 compartments, as well as little pouches on the outside.  I purchased 2 hanging organizers, as well as 2 sets of matching collapsable drawers.  I also found a set of 2 large lidded storage containers.  In total, it cost me $75.

I am IN LOVE with these hanging organizers! I love having the closet doors open so I can look at them! 🙂

So, here’s an overall look at my daughter’s closet.  It’s functional, and looks tidy (most of the time).

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So let me talk you through how I have everything organized in the closet.  Below is a side-by-side look at the 2 hanging organizers.  The left organizer is full of the collapsable drawers.  It stores most of my daughter’s clothes.  The right side holds spare clothes dividers (you’ll see that in a second), sun hats, sleep blankets, sweaters, and swaddle/receiving blankets.

You may think the drawers are small, but it ensures we can’t go overboard on clothes 🙂

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Here are a few pictures of close up detail!  The hanging organizers have 3 little pouches on the exterior.  At first, I had NO idea what to use them for.  But then I discovered that they were the perfect size for little shoes.  One other little pouch is dedicated to Target bags for travel laundry bags.

And then, the labels! I made the labels myself, cutting out squares of cardstock and using a lattice-style paper punch I already had to add the cut detail.  Then I cut some brown ribbon that I happened to have on hand to tie little bows.  Easy!  And free 🙂  I have some spare labels and ribbons stashed in an empty storage drawer.20140529-101221-36741898.jpg

We have hanging space for clothes in between the 2 hanging organizers, as well as to the left and right of the organizers.  In the center, between the organizers, hang current dresses/outfits that we use on a regular basis.

In the below picture, I have close up shots of the other hanging spaces.  To the left of the hanging organizers are the puffy fancy dresses that need more hanging space.  We also keep spare hangers on that side.  To the right of the hanging organizers are where we keep clothes our daughter has yet to grow into.  This was KEY in the beginning.  We got lots of clothes as gifts and, thankfully, received clothes in multiple sizes.  I purchased these clothes dividers on Amazon for $5.00!

My favorite organizing moment in this entire closet is that picture on the right of the blue dress.  In the beginning, my husband had a hard time finding clothes to dress our daughter.  He had her in floral on floral one day 🙂  I needed to find a way to keep all outfit components together so it would be easier for him.  I ran out to Target and found these child hangers and individual pant clips.  I just stuck one pant clip on a hanger, which was perfect to hang a pair of baby pants, tights or diaper cover.  Then over top was the matching shirt, dress, sweater, etc.  So all my husband had to do was grab one hanger, and all the outfit items were together.  Genius!20140529-101221-36741348.jpg

On to floor storage.  I don’t like much on the floor of the closet so that I can clean easier.  But it was essential to have a few things sitting on the floor.

On the left side, just sticking out, is the pack-n-play.  We use it often, so it doesn’t make sense putting it in long term storage in the attic.

Then we have a small teal laundry basket that we use as a hamper.  Pretty cheap and cheerful!  There are certainly prettier, cuter hampers out there, but I wanted one that could double as a hamper and laundry basket.  Target currently isn’t selling this basket, but keep your eyes peeled when the college, back-to-school items pop up.

I have one of the IKEA lidded storage containers on the floor as well. I use this one for clothes that our daughter has outgrown.  Which brings me to the large bins!  I’ve just gone through the IKEA storage container and removed all the 0-3 month and 3-6 month clothes our daughter had outgrown and am starting to sort and store for the long term.  Those bins are temporary (thank goodness).20140529-101220-36740776.jpg

Finally, the top shelf.  It doesn’t hold much right now, and most of it is “what are we going to do with it?” items.  And it’s not all that exciting.  On the left side is a IKEA lidded storage container with afghans we received as gifts.  I also have a few keepsake items.  Can you see her humidifier?


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On the right side of the top shelf is a box full of first aide type items.  I need to purchase a large clear tote or some clear drawers to store these items. But that’s to come!  And in the far back corner is a stack of my husband’s old Hardy Boys book collection.  They’ll eventually come out when our daughter is a little older!20140529-101224-36744142.jpg

And that’s the little tour! Hopefully there were some helpful tips for you!  I really don’t think that when you’re prepping a nursery closet that you need to put in a high-end custom closet, or need to fill it with expensive bits and bobs. To be honest, what the baby needs in the first year may be completely different after that first year, so flexible storage is key!

If I had more moolah, I’d by some more IKEA lidded storage containers to stash the top shelf items and spare hangers.  That would make everything look cleaner, and shoot!  Prettier to look at 🙂  Good luck organizing your nursery closet!  It’s such fun!

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Easy Vegetarian Meatballs | Cup of Tea Recipe



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Folks, it’s recipe time!  Allow me to show you how to cook my favorite vegetarian meatballs! The original recipe is from my Mother-In-Law, but I’ve tweaked this a bit each time I prepare them.

I’ve had this post in the works for MONTHS!  Literally months.  I took most of the pictures in February.  All that was missing was a finished product pic.  How sad is that?  You could have made these meatballs many times over if it weren’t for my laziness.

Sorry about that.

So, as the title suggests, these meatballs are really easy!  Everything gets mixed up in the food processor.  And the ingredients are pretty easy to gather, so if you’re making one batch, you might as well make several at a time!

These also freeze really well.  So I’ll make multiple batches at once, form them into the balls, then place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet to stick in my freezer.  Once they’ve hardened (about 3 hours), place them in a gallon sized freezer storage bag and you have a tasty, yummy meal just waiting in the wings!

This is also one of my go-to potluck, fancy dinner, or holiday meal options.  I’ve even had meat lovers try these and like them (and ask for the recipe… which I think is a good sign, right?).

So I’ll quickly go through the steps and show you the pics (if you’re visual), and then the official recipe is down below, for easy printing (so you don’t print 18 pages).

The meatball ingredients are pretty simple.  The “meat” comes from the Morningstar Farms Grillers Original (Original is key here… not the crumbles, and definitely not the Grillers Prime patties).  You can find these burgers everywhere.  You’ll also need an onion, cheddar cheese, some dried thyme, walnuts, and 4 eggs (or egg beaters – I’ve used both!).

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Toss the hard ingredients in first (walnuts and onions) into your food processor and pulse to break them up.20140527-094425-35065854.jpg

Then add your Griller patties (thawed in the microwave), cheese and thyme.  Combine it all together until it’s the same consistency.  Then add your eggs.  Blend for about 10 seconds, until it all comes together.

Then scoop it out of the food processor and put the meatball mix into a separate bowl.  Stir in either 1 cup of ground up soda crackers OR, my personal favorite, ground up rolled oats oatmeal (because I always have that on hand.  Who has soda crackers on hand??).  You might want to add 3/4 cup of the oatmeal or cracker first, stir the mix, then check for consistency, to make sure the mix isn’t too dry.  I usually, though, end up adding the full cup.20140527-094426-35066258.jpg

Form into balls of meat, and place on a greased 9×13 casserole pan (or parchment-lined baking sheet if you plan on freezing).  Then pop them into a 350 F oven for 30 minutes.20140527-094426-35066634.jpg

While the meatballs bake, you can make the sauce. The sauce for these bad boys is half a bottle of BBQ sauce (for THIS recipe, I prefer the Kraft Original) and one 12-15 oz jar of Apricot Preserves (I’ve used full strength and sugar free before… don’t really notice a difference).  Combine them together.  20140527-094427-35067423.jpg

After 30 minutes of baking, pull the meatballs out, pour the sauce over them, and pop it all back in the oven for a final 15ish minutes (until the sauce starts bubbling).20140527-094427-35067906.jpg

Yum!  They are so delicious.  Our perfect comfort food!  (Look at this fancy picture.  I remember asking my husband “Should I add parsley?  Would that look good?”.  I instead ended up with a bad Italian restaurant menu picture… sigh.  I’m not a food blogger, ok??)20140527-094424-35064882.jpg

Ok, official recipe time!

Easy Vegetarian Meatballs

From the Cup of Tea blog

These freeze really well.  Make the meatballs up to step 5.  Roll the meatballs and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and place in the freezer.  Let freeze and harden for about 3 hours, then place the meatballs in a gallon sized freezer storage bag.  If you’re making multiple batches, make one batch at a time.  The meat ball mix, for whatever reason, can’t double well.

Makes approx. 30 meatballs, depending on how big you make them.

Ingredients:
1 package (4 patties) Morningstar Farms Grillers Original, thawed in the microwave
1 medium yellow onion, quartered
1 cup grated cheddar cheese (sharp or mild, doesn’t matter)
1 cup finely ground rolled oats (like Quaker) or soda crackers
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 tsp sage
4 eggs or 1 cup Egg Beaters

For Sauce:
1/2 bottle barbeque sauce (I use Kraft Original, since it’s a little sweeter)
1 12 oz jar apricot preserves

Preheat oven to 350 F.

1. Place 2 cups rolled oats or soda crackers into a food processor.  Pulse until finely ground.  This should yield you about 1 cup of finely ground, plus a little extra.  Grind up more for another use.

2. Put the quartered onion and walnuts in the food processor.  Pulse to break up into smaller chunks.  It doesn’t have to be a smooth mix yet. You just want to break up the harder ingredients before adding the rest.

3. Next, add to the onion mix the Griller patties (broken into quarters), cheese and thyme.  Pulse until combined.

4. Add your eggs (or stream in the Egg Beaters) to the mix in the food processor and pulse to combine, until smooth.

5. Spoon your meatball mixture into a mixing bowl. Stir into the mix about 3/4 cup of your finely ground oatmeal or soda cracker. Try rolling the mix into a meatball.  If it’s too wet and not sticking together, add the remaining 1/4 cup of the oatmeal or soda cracker.  I usually end up using the full 1 cup.

6. Form into meat balls (whatever size you’d like!).  Place rolled meatballs on to a 9×13 baking dish, prepped with non-stick spray.  If freezing, place on a parchment-lined baking sheet instead.

7. Bake in the oven, at 350 F, for about 30 minutes.  The meatballs will warm through and get a nice crunchy exterior.  (You could pan fry the meatballs instead at this point.  I just prefer baking them.)

8. While the meatballs are baking, you can make the sauce.  Combine together the barbecue sauce and the apricot preserves.  You could microwave the mix for 10 seconds to make it easier to stir and pour.

9. After baking for 30 minutes, remove the meatballs from the oven and pour the sauce over them.  Return the meatballs back to the oven for an additional 15 minutes, or until the sauce starts to bubble.

Serve the meatballs with rice pilaf, or mashed potatoes (why not??), or any other tasty side you prefer.

Enjoy!

20140527-094423-35063037.jpgLinking up at Good Tips Tuesday!

 

Menu Monday!

ListCloseUp

Hey hey!  Another week has begun.  Hope you’re having a spectacular Memorial Day weekend!

The menu this week looks a little light.  We have a husband work dinner on Wednesday at a new local pizza place, Pompieri Pizza.  I have been drooling over Instagram pics people have been posting for weeks!  I need to remember to snap a few pictures myself when we’re there.  (Fingers crossed for no baby meltdowns)

For more information on how I menu plan, look at this.  If you need menu inspiration, check out my Pinterest board!

Monday:
Veggie Burgers & Onion Rings
(Looking for a good veggie burger that holds up well on a grill?
Morningstar Farms Chipotle Spicy Black Bean burgers!
They are large patties and are softer in texture, so they don’t dry out on the grill.
Yum!  Our local Costco sells them.)

Tuesday:
Stovetop Mac & Cheese
(Why not?  Recipe from Designer Bags and Dirty Diapers)

Wednesday:
Dinner out at Pompieri Pizza

Thursday:
Greek Tortellini Salad
(Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod)

Friday:
Haystacks
(Our version of build-your-own taco salad)

Saturday:
Butternut Squash & Black Bean Enchiladas
(Yep again!  Adapted from this recipe found on Pinterest)

Sunday:
Hosting Brunch at our house, so I’m sure we’ll just have leftovers 🙂

*Grocery store this week: Trader Joe’s

Hey Hey! It’s Friday!

Another Friday!  How are these weeks just zooming by??

Anyway, on to the highlights!

1. Tickets have been purchased for our July trip to Michigan for my sister’s wedding!  I’m really excited!  I’m not so excited about the 2.5 hour layover… such is life.  I’ve been strategizing sleeping strategies with Elizabeth while traveling.  She doesn’t sleep if you hold her.  It only makes her crankier!  So I’ve been debating: 1) taking a stroller so she can sleep during the layover, and 2) if I DO take a stroller, do I bring our larger Britax B-Agile, or buy an umbrella stroller that reclines….  Thoughts? Any seasoned travelers out there?  I’ve basically decided Yes to bringing a stroller.  Now it’s just deciding which option.

2. I hosted my little play group this week.  We had such a nice time! It’s so nice to look forward to a gettogether, with good friends and their babies, each week!  I’m so blessed to have them.

3. Because I had the play group over yesterday, my house is now all clean for the weekend!  Bonus!

4. I got both cars inspected.  Not really fun, but a highlight (I got out of the house, and Elizabeth got to watch the guys working on the cars).

Just 4 this week.  It was a busy week with a lot of home stuff, with not a lot to report.  Oh well! What were you up to this week??  Share! Share! Put a link in the comments if you have a similar post, and I’ll swing by and say hi!  Spread the blog love!

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 photo H54Fbutton_zps973d26e1.png THE GOOD LIFE BLOG