February 2013

HELP ME! A Recipe Fail

Around here, sometimes there is chaos, sometimes I get paint on my clothes, sometimes the kids go to bed late, and sometimes I make something that is yucky.

I’ve had recipe fails in the past, but this one is really bothering me, and here’s why:
1.) The recipe itself was easy.
2.) Everyone else on the planet seems to like this kind of food.
3.) I think I have ruined this food for my family.
4.) It is healthy, so I thought it would be something I could add to our weekly snack routine.
5.) It looked so beautiful and tasty, we had such high hopes.

I made roasted chickpeas with Italian seasoning, which I have now dubbed Erin’s Horrible Chickpeas.

Maybe after hearing some backstory, some of my readers could tell me what went wrong.

The other day, I was digging through the pantry for some cannellini beans to make a recipe that I’m hoping to share next week and came across a random can of chickpeas. I had the (what at the time seemed like a brilliant) idea of making roasted chickpeas. They at one time were all the rage and recipes were floating all over the internet and Food Network. I think Rachael Ray has like 10 different ways to make them.

I quickly Googled “how long to roast chickpeas” on my phone and started preheating the oven.

Then, I grabbed the salt, pepper, olive oil, and Italian seasoning. Here is what I jotted down while I was making them, I even took pictures (thinking there is no way these won’t be great).

Erin’s Horrible Roasted Chickpeas

1 15 oz can chickpeas
1 Tbs Olive Oil
1 Tbs Italian Seasoning
Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Rinse and drain chickpeas.

Then using paper towel thoroughly pat them dry and remove any loose shells.

Place chickpeas in a thin layer on a baking sheet. Add olive oil to the baking sheet and with your hands gently toss until the chickpeas are completely coated with oil.

Then, add the Italian seasoning, salt and pepper to taste,  and toss to coat the chickpeas.

Roast for 20  minutes tossing once halfway through the cooking time.

Don’t they looked delicious?

We all tried them.

They just seemed… blah. They didn’t seem to have enough seasoning, and I thought they would be more crunchy or something. Brian said they were blah too. So then, I thought it was just us. Then the kids tried them and they each expressed various ways to say they didn’t like them. Words like, “these are yucky,” “ewwwww”, and “please don’t make me eat these anymore” were said.

What did I do wrong? Is it possible that all 5 of us don’t like these or did I not make them correctly? Should I try different seasonings? I read to try different variations like a ranch dressing seasoning packet, chili powder, or fresh herbs. Should I cook them longer?

If you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comment section. In the meantime, I’m staying away from chickpeas.


Measuring Up: Pinterest Challenge

Last week when John and Sherry of Young House Love,  Katie of Bower Power , Megan of The Remodeled Life, and Michelle of Decor and the Dog announced their quarterly Pinterest Challenge Link Up, I knew exactly what project I was going to tackle.


These giant rulers to measure the kids are something I have seen all over Pinterest. Also, it is something that I have been meaning to do for awhile, and actually had bought the lumber a few weeks ago.


After reading a few tutorials online, I thought I could handle it, but I had two concerns. The first, I didn’t want to use a standard 1″ x 6″ or 2″ x 4″ boards. I didn’t want anything that heavy hanging from the wall. Especially something that the kids would be touching or wanting to be near often. The second problem I had was that I wanted three. One for each kid. I thought it might be fun for them to have their own measuring stick to take with them someday as a memento.

The planning began. The first thing I did, was walk around Home Depot (aka my second favorite store) with Brian and take a look at trim and other types of thin woods. We then looked at plywood. We saw 1/4″ plywood and realized that instead of buying three different planks of wood, we could just ask, someone to cut this in 6″ wide pieces right in the store. This was perfect, and much cheaper than buying three pieces of trim.


The next thing I did, was decide how to personalize their measuring sticks. Each of my kids has been kind of assigned a color. We color coordinate a lot in this house, toothbrushes, sippy cups, water bottles, etc. It keeps everything straight, and the kids picked their own colors to represent them. So, I decided to color coordinate their sticks too with some leftover paint I had from painting bedrooms.


Now, that I had figured out my concerns it was time to get to work.

3 1/4″ x 6″ x 7′ boards cut from 1/4 inch plywood at Home Depot
Letter and Number Stencils
Paints (I used Behr’s Pink Reverie, Behr’s Palm Breeze, and Behr’s Rainwashed)
Tape Measure
3 or 4 Permanent Markers




1.) First, I gave the boards a light sand. Then, I painted each board a different color and let it dry for about 6 hours. After a quick inspection, I thought it best to give them another coat of paint, and I let it dry overnight.

2.) Once the paint was dry, I then grabbed my tape measure and pencil I marked inch by inch the length of each board.

3.) Then using my stencils and permanent markers, I created a ruler line for each inch on the board. To make the board look more like a ruler, I created a one and half inch (1 1/2″) mark for every six inches and then drew 3/4″ lines for all the other inch marks. Basically, every six inches the mark to indicate an inch is longer (here is a picture).


4.) Then, I grabbed my number stencils and traced some numbers to mark each foot on the board. TIP: I knew that I would have to hang these boards a few inches from the floor, so I marked the first foot, at the six inch mark. When I hang them, I will make sure they are six inches off the floor to allow for the trim on the wall. (If you are planning to hang your ruler right next to the floor, you can skip this tip). Once that was done, I stenciled the rest of the numbers 12″ or 1′ apart.


I still have to hang them, and I might have to trim a little off the top to allow for ceiling height. Also, I have all their measurements since birth in their baby books, so I thought it would be cool to mark the boards with their birth length, and each year until now so they can see how much they have grown.

I am thrilled with how they turned out.


The kids like them too.




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The Furniture Shuffle: Family Room/Living Room Edition

I was going to write about something else today, but I am so excited about some changes happening here, I thought I would share.

First up, we have decided to paint the family room. This room had gotten a small paint job on an accent wall when we moved in, but other than that it really hasn’t been touched. The color isn’t that bad, it is just with the amount of natural light we get in this room, the paint sometimes looks a little peachy, salmony, pinky. After two years of living in this house, we think it is time. Right now, we have some samples on the wall.

That brings us to the furniture. The family room needs storage, this is essentially our play room so we are always looking for places to stash toys in this room. We’ve decided to do the old switcheroo, and move some of the living room furniture, which is much more storage friendly and a lot bigger downstairs, and move some of the family room furniture which is kind of dwarfed by the size of the room to the upstairs to the living room.

This all came about when I was picking up toys with the kids for the one millionth time, and realized that while we just got rid of a bunch of toys the kids don’t play with anymore, there are still some things that just don’t have homes. I then walked upstairs and kept wondering how I was going to style the cubbies upstairs, then I had the lightbulb moment. I will style them with toys of course!

Brian and I are extremely happy to find a solution to this problem, without having to buy more furniture. We are happy to use what we have in a different way.

Anyone else move around furniture in their house? Did you find that certain pieces just don’t flow well in certain rooms? How do you feel about peachy tan? (yeah I don’t like it either).


Another Make Up: Greek Pasta Salad

It is the dead of winter, my mind is on planning another vegetable garden, walking to the park, and ballet flats instead of boots. Typically winter doesn’t bother me, as I love the change of seasons, but this is the time of year I start getting a bit of spring fever.

Last week, I dug through my refrigerator and pantry. This is what I came up with. I love when I am able to mix some fresh ingredients and come up with something easy.


This is a perfect take on a classic pasta salad, but with some Mediteranean flavors like olives and feta cheese. It is easy to make, it is the perfect lunch, and best of all with all the fresh veggies, it is a reminder that spring is on its way.

Greek Pasta Salad
1 lb tiny cut pasta like Orzo or Stelline cooked, drained and cooled
1 large bell pepper (I used yellow) chopped
1 pint grape tomatoes cut in half
1 large seedless cucumber chopped
1/2 red onion chopped
1/2 cup green olives pitted and coursely chopped
1/2 cup black olives pitted and coursely copped
5 oz Feta cheese crumbles
1/2 cup of your favorite balsalmic vinaigrette (I used Panera Bread brand)


Mix all the ingredients together until well combined. Serve room temperature or cold.
(NOTE: To keep pasta from becoming one big mass when cooling stir in a couple of teaspoons of olive oil and mix.)

What kinds of dishes get you thinking about springtime? Anyone else have plans for their garden this year?



For a printable recipe card, click on the caption below, click Greek Pasta Salad, and then click download.


Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: A Crafty Project

Every since I was little, I have had this love for taking care of the environment. Maybe it was because I was a Girl Scout or maybe it was because I was elected to Student Council as the Ecology Chairperson in 7th grade (I bet you’ve never heard of that job before). Either way, I have an affinity for doing things that leave the world a little better off than I found it.

When I saw this cute, inexpensive, and easy craft that reuses old candle jars, I was thrilled.

I have a few of these candle jars lying around, and I thought they would be nice to reuse for anything from small vases, to storing craft supplies. (Please keep in mind that these are not food safe).

I first followed all the steps in the tutorial. Putting them in the freezer over night helped for the residual wax to just slip out in one piece. Then in true Erin fashion, and added a little something.

I found these really cute labels at Target in the $1 spot.


I added the labels to the jars, and filled them with a few things we use. They now reside in the freshly painted upstairs bathroom.


Also, it is worth mentioning that if you are having trouble removing the fragrant candle smell from the jars and lids even after thoroughly washing them, try mixing a little baking soda and vinegar in the jars and put the lids on and let sit overnight. Then wash again. That should do the trick.

PS Also, check out my latest on South of I-80. I’m discussing marathon running… or lack there of.

Finally: Upstairs Bathroom

A few weeks ago, after painting stripes in the downstairs bathroom, I thought since everything is already out I would paint the upstairs bathroom as well. We had lots of paint leftover from the downstairs bathroom (Behr Barnished Clay in Satin and Behr Perfect Taupe in Satin) we thought it would be nice to give the upstairs bathroom a little spruce up.

Let’s get to the pictures shall we?
The Before:
The After:
I painted most of the walls Barnished Clay. Here is a picture against something white for you to see the actual color.


Here is the artwork I created.


I painted the walls surrounding the sink Behr’s Perfect Taupe for a bit of contrast.

What I’m Reading

I love to read!

My love of reading stems from childhood. Some of my favorite gifts as a kid were books. I would spend hours inside in our living room reading book after book. I can remember my parents begging me to go outside and enjoy the day, so I would bring my book outside.

As I grew older, I continued to read. Not nearly as often as I used to, but I am proud to say that I try to always have a book that I’m currently reading on my bedside table.

Since I get this question all the time, I thought I would share what I am currently reading.

The book that I am reading right now as in what is on my bedside table is The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. So far, I really love the approach of this book. While many of us can say we are happy, who wouldn’t want to be happier?

For Christmas, I received Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. This book is like a cooking encyclopedia. I know “reading” a cookbook is not everyone’s cup of tea, but I love to flip through the pages and read the entire dessert section or flip through all of the vegetables.  I will try to soak in all the information or directions. I have found that reading cookbooks this way has helped me absorb tips that I can use with other dishes I make. Also, the recipes are divine. I cannot wait to try the Ratatouille. To think, I will be making the same recipes as the Queen of the Kitchen just gives me goosebumps.


This book I purchased awhile back, and was able to attend the book signing. Sherry and John Petersik of Young House Love are, in my opinion, DIY royalty. The book signing was in November, but I was finally able to read it. The pictures are beautiful, and I absolutely love love love the inexpensive tips for home decor.

Next up is How to be a Hepburn in a Hilton World by Jordan Christy. My partner in crime, Colleen, let me borrow this book a few months ago before starting her PhD program knowing I would like it and knowing that PhD does not = leisure reading time. I have to say, I really enjoyed parts of this book. There are parts that were no longer relevant to me now, but will be great tips for Coco as she grows into a young lady. This would be a great gift for a young woman headed off to college.

Finally, I just had to purchase Notorious Nineteen by Janet Evanovich. I have read the entire Stephanie Plum mystery series, and I recommend if you like comedy and quick  reads you should read them too. I love her style of writing as well as the characters. Hilarity is spelled L-U-L-A!

Next up on my plan is to head to the library and get some comedy books. This is a genre that I have been reading since high school. I love to read books by famous comedians such as Tina Fey, George Carlin, and Bill Cosby. I find the writing clever and who doesn’t love a good laugh?

What are you reading currently? What is your favorite cook book? Who is your favorite comedian?

Time to go, I have to finish this book!


Almost There: Bathroom Art and FREE PRINTABLES

I finished painting the upstairs bathroom over a week ago, but there have been a few other things that I wanted to do before showing the finished product. One of the things I wanted to do was add a little bit of art. There are lots of blank walls in this space, and with the new neutral wall color, I wanted to add some fun color and a bit of texture.

I created these.


I scoured the internet and Pinterest looking for ideas. I saw a few things I liked, but nothing that I loved. Also, I decided to create a few things of my own using PicMonkey (which I’m sharing with you today).
I first found some 8 x 10 frames at Target (on sale of course). I thought it might be fun to incorporate something personal and fun. I was happy when I found a great link for free chevron printables. This is one of my favorite patterns. I couldn’t decide on just one color, so I decided to do four. I printed them out on card stock. I had to trim them slightly to fit into the frames.
Then, I found these cute free printables at Hollywould Blog. I liked that they were simple. The Lather, Rinse, Repeat is my favorite. I also printed these on cardstock. I trimmed them and then using some scrapbooking double stick tape centered them and attached them to two of the chevron sheets of paper. They were then ready to be framed.


Finally, I had some trouble finding any other bathroom printables I liked so I decided make my own. (If you would like to download these for yourself, click the caption)


I printed, trimmed, and attached, and was amazed at what I was able to do in PicMonkey. I think they came out pretty cute.


This might just be one of my favorite art projects. It was easy, fun, and only cost me the price of the frames.
Thank you to my wonderful husband, Brian, for helping me figure out how to use Google Drive 🙂

Presidents’ Day

We are in the midst of a long weekend! There have been a few projects happening as well as some project planning. In the meantime, it is time to have some fun with the kids. Enjoy the rest of your day!

PS I wrote a little something over on South of I-80 about my sepia tone childhood 🙂

Trying: Listen to Your Mother

The past few weeks have been overwhelming for sure. I am still finding remnants of paint in my hair from painting the upstairs bathroom, I have also been doing the regular day to day. While I’d like to say that my house is immaculately clean and I cooked a home cooked meal every day and all the laundry is folded an put away, I cannot say that today. I might be able to say that Monday, but not today. Life has been too busy and too good to worry about laundry.

Why is life good?

My kids are healthy and happy, Brian has a little time off work, and I have been busy with some projects.

Also, a few weeks ago, I submitted an essay to the producers of Listen to Your Mother Chicago which you can learn more about here. While I was hopeful, I feel like my writing is still in the early stages and was understanding that there are some more eloquent people out there.

Then, I got an email in my inbox asking me to audition.

So, I practiced, I dressed up, and I gave it my all.

Then, I got another email.

I am a part of the 2013 Chicago Cast of Listen to Your Mother!


I am amazed and overjoyed  and extremely honored to be a part of this show.

I am a person who overthinks things and sometimes is afraid to try. I tried, and I am so very glad I did.

For more information about Listen to your Mother, you can check out their National Website here or watch past shows here.

Today, I have to try and get some laundry done. Hopefully, that will be as big of a success.

Happy Weekend, Readers!

Linking up at Mom of 6 as part of Sharon’s weekly share your life series!