January 18, 2010

Baked Ravioli

My new favorite way to find new recipes is from daily emails I get from All Recipes and Martha Stewart.  I file them away and when I am ready to try something different, I look there first.  So far, it is working out pretty well.  There have been some duds over the last few weeks (which I will spare you), but this one was a keeper thanks to Martha.

It was fairly simple and tasty.  One downside, I wasn't thinking very well when I bought the ingredients.  It made a lot.  I think it could have been cut in half fairly easily, but I didn't put my math cap on to figure it out.  Oh well, we have some for leftovers this week and I froze the rest for another day.  My favorite part was the baked cheese on top.  Yum.  I also used a Michigan brand pasta, Pierino, for the first time.  Mostly because I had a coupon, but also because I like to support the Michigan economy when I can.  I used a mix of cheese and meat.  Next time, I will just use all cheese.  Something wasn't sitting right with the meat for us.

2 Tablespoons of olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
coarse ground salt and pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon dry oregano or thyme (I used my Italian Seasoning spice)
1 can (28 oz) whole tomatoes
1 can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes
2 pounds store bought ravioli
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella (I used Kraft's Natural 5 Italian Cheese blend because I had it on hand)
1/2 grated parmesan

Heat oven to 425.

In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add garlic, onion and season with salt and pepper.  Allow the onion to soften, around 5 minutes.

Add oregano (or thyme) and tomatoes.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook it for around 20-25 minutes, breaking up the whole tomatoes with your spoon.  Reduce down until it thickens, to about 5 1/2 cups.

While the sauce is cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Cook ravioli according to package, until they just float to the top.  They will continue to cook while in the oven.  Drain.

Mix ravioli and sauce together and pour into a 9x13 dish.  Spread the cheeses on top.  Cook for around 20-25 minutes.  Allow for it to cool a bit before serving...it will be hot!

January 17, 2010

Happy 6 Year Anniversary to Owen and Me!

Owen and I, a week after bringing him home...so tiny!

I know, now I am really the crazy cat lady. I am wishing Owen and I a happy anniversary.

6 years ago today, I went to the Petsmart in Roseville after weeks of browsing Petfinder to adopt Owen (formerly known as Butterscotch) from Feline Friends Rescue. I was so excited to finally have my own place and have a furry friend to be my companion. My dear friend Kim had 2 awesome cats that I fell in love with, and they really helped make up my mind that I needed a kitty in my life. Little did I know, Owen would be the start of many cats that were part of our home. I loved Owen so much, I started volunteering with the rescue soon after and over the course of 5 years, fostered and placed over 50 cats into their fur-ever homes. It has been a very rewarding experience and I encourage anyone looking for a pet to ADOPT!

There are so many great pets out there that need good homes, especially during these trying economic times. So many families have had to surrender their pets due to financial reasons, shelters and rescues are over-flowing. The great thing about a good majority of rescued animals, they are a "package" deal! They already have some or all of their shots and if you adopt an older animal, more than likely, they are already spayed or neutered!

Obviously, we are big advocates for rescuing animals...we have 5 of them in our house. Call us crazy, but we wouldn't have it any other way. And for me, it all started with my adorable, shy orange tabby that loves sweets (not kidding, he smells a cookie, cake, ice cream, cupcake batter, etc., he comes running to you and he will even lick it!).

Owen will always be #1 in my heart...but don't tell the others that! :)

January 14, 2010

The Bathroom

I left the bathroom alone for about the first year and a half. The plastic tiles, painted white were non-offensive for me to deal with. However, over time, some of the ones in the shower started to pop away from the wall and causing water to drip down into the basement. So, it needed to be fixed.

I think this might be the project my dad hated the most. He had to learn how to lay ceramic tile! I did most of the demo work. Great activity after a rough day at work. I think my dad did a great job and I love that his bathroom is updated, rather than having dated colored ceramic tile that so many houses around here have. I hope this is a selling point. It is a little small, but for a 2 bedroom house, how big can it be?

Old walls, vanity, mirror.

Taking the tiles off was the worst. I don't even know what to call this adhesive that was used (that brownish color). We fixed it by putting bead board up on the walls.
Stripped down to the studs to put up proper green board before the tile.

Here it is now. I recently painted the upper quarter of the walls to the beige after we re-drywalled the ceiling (which I don't recommend for anyone...if the walls in this bathroom could talk it would be something like f*$k, Da$n it, S%it) and adding a molding near the ceiling.

January 11, 2010

2nd Bedroom/Office

Unfortunately, I do not have any before pictures for this bedroom. Luckily, the walls were just white, aside from the wall that had the extra large closet (for this area), that was a huge selling point for me. Houses built in the 1940's were not built for someone with a lot of clothes!

Now, just because only wall had wallpaper on just one wall doesn't mean it was easy. In fact, that was the worst wall of the whole house. When they originally put the paper up, they didn't do anything to prep the wall for it. It was a nightmare.

Originally, when I moved in, I painted this room a moss green and used my bedroom furniture from when I was younger. Once I started a job where I could work from home for all my early morning and late night conference calls, I modified this room into a home office. So co-workers, this is where the "marketing magic" happens. Ha. If only I could add the sound of a barking wiener dog (cough, cough, Olive) to complete the vision.

I also changed the paint from green to this pumpkin color (Greenfield Pumpkin from Benjamin Moore's historical collection to be exact) that my good friend Lisa has in her house...and I adore it. Never thought I would have pumpkin walls, but it works. The desk is Pottery Barn's Bedford Office collection. The bookshelf is also from Pottery Barn.

Kiko wanted in on the blogging in this picture too. :)

January 10, 2010

The Kitchen

Overall when I moved in, the kitchen was in fairly good shape. I loved the small, built in shutter blinds in the windows and it had a lot of space to work with. I also like the vintage lights in the side door landing area as well as over the sink. They added some character to the place.

There was wallpaper on the inside panels of the kitchen cabinets and of course, on half of the walls. The cupboards are the originals from the 1940's and with just a fresh coat of paint and updated brushed nickel hardware, they looked OK enough. I wish we had more space, both storage wise and counter wise, but it works. The linoleum is blah. Neutral, but no matter which cleaning product or method I use, there are always areas that look dirty.

Before the market tanked, I was looking forward to re-doing the kitchen to add value to the home, but at this point, we know it will not help. So, you better believe the next house is going to have a great kitchen...with a dishwasher, which we do not have now.

Here are the before pictures. Note the wall paper in the center panels.

And here it is now. You can see in this immediate picture below some of my favorite things in this room: my Green Grass Kitchen Aid mixer (which you can read more about in this post), my green Pottery Barn Buffet (an outlet steal to help us with a shortage of storage), a small ledge shelf with our favorite cookbooks (Barefoot Contessa, Michael Symon and Williams Sonoma Bride and Groom) and the placemats my grandma made for me).

You can see my trusty crock pot working away on Sunday's dinner (pork tenderloin)

January 8, 2010

The Bedroom

When I first saw this house, I think our now bedroom was used as a sitting room of sorts. There was an electric fireplace one wall (that sadly, Violet took with her) and 3/4 smokey toned mirrors and paneling on the bottom 1/4 on the other. Of course under that fabulous wall decor, was...wallpaper!!!

Sadly, this is the one picture I have of it.
We ripped out the carpet and re-finished the floors and my parents put up a small crown molding. The only mirror left is the one on the closet door, which is perfect! Although it is tinted so it is kind of dark.

Now, the room is much better. We recently painted it from a beige to this green I had custom mixed to match our new Marimekko bedding from Crate and Barrel. This color green is my new "signature" color. It is fresh and energizing.

Note Kiko in her heated window napper in this one:

January 3, 2010

A blast from the past...the Living Room

One of the things I really liked about the house when I bought it was the great layout. The rooms were all pretty evenly spaced and it would be good to work with when putting furniture. The living room was perfect...2 windows, coved ceilings, a great corner to put the TV.

Then there was the Wall O' Mirrors.
From the moment I decided to buy the house, I knew they were coming down. I know, I know, they make a space look bigger. But I just don't like looking at myself that much. Maybe if I was a cast member of "Jersey Shore" I would, but it ain't me babe.

My parents and family hypothesized how we should get them down. We didn't want to break them to bits and have 7 years bad luck! Should we gently pry an edge, then use a piano wire to wiggle them loose from the adhesive? Will they just pop off? What will be behind them? Will it wreck the plaster? Our minds were running wild for about 3 months about these mirrors. And once we did the living room...there was more in the bedroom!

The kicker was, when I did the walk through the house with Elizabeth 2 weeks before I moved in, Violet pointed out to me the paperwork she was leaving behind for the mirrors, so I would know who to call when they would start to fall down! Turns out she had just gotten them "re-glued" and they would come undone from the wall from time to time. Sigh.

Needless to say, taking them down was the first thing we did when I got the keys.
And if memory serves...it went a lot easier than we thought. We started with the small piece over the hallway and then we kind of shimmied the rest off with various techniques. We did break some mirrors, but who believes in Old Wives Tales? Or maybe my bad luck was the housing market tanking 6 years later? Removing the glue was a bit of a bear. I think we went through many gallons of Diff or whatever that stuff is called and my arm muscles were never more toned than after weeks of scraping wallpaper and glue from every wall of this house.

The room is great now. Where there was once mirrors is our Pottery Barn picture wall. Scalloped window shades were replaced with wide blinds. I found the perfect small sectional for this space and I think it is a pretty cozy room. I would really like to get a great entertainment center, but am going to wait until the next house, since I hope we will have more room.

Here it is today. The color on the walls is Benjamin Moore's Chestertown Buff, part of the Historical Collection


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