Saturday, February 27, 2010

Delicious Dinners: Bruschetta and Cheese Stuffed Chicken

I wanted to share this recipe with you because I have made it half a dozen times and every single time.. it's a hit! My husband and I don't really care for traditional Thankgiving stuffing because we both think it is kind of tasteless (I know, it's totally un-American to not like stuffing... please don't hate us).

The funny part is everytime I make this meal and my husband sees me with a box of stuffing, he (without fail) reminds me that he doesn't like it. To which I respond, "I know my love. However, I have made this before and you love it." And he always eats eveything I put on his plate and asks for seconds. Ha! Take that. Now... if I could only get him to eat broccolli... Anyway, I digress.

This meal truly is easy to make, and prep only takes about 10 minutes. I love it for week nights because it's one of those meals that I can start as soon as I get in the door and then forget about it for 45 minutes while I change my clothes, open the mail, and say hello to my husband.

I found it on the Kraft Foods website, so I thank those lovely people for their creativity. Without further adieu, here we go:
1 can (14-1/2 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained
1-1/4 cups Mozzarella Cheese, divided
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 pkg. (6 oz.) STOVE TOP Stuffing Mix for Chicken
8 small boneless skinless chicken breasts-- I halved this receipe for us and used 4 breast which was a little over a pound of chicken
1/3 cup KRAFT Roasted Red Pepper Italian with Parmesan Dressing-- if you can't find this, just use an Italian dressing- and some extra pepper or red pepper flakes to give the dish a bit of seasoninb

1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.

2. Mix tomatoes, 1/2 cup cheese and basil in medium bowl. Add stuffing mix; stir just until moistened.

3. Place 2 chicken breasts in large freezer-weight resealable plastic bag. Pound with meat mallet until chicken is 1/4 inch thick. Remove from bag; place, top-sides down, on cutting board. Repeat with remaining chicken. Spread chicken with stuffing mixture. Starting at 1 narrow end, tightly roll up each breast. Place, seam-sides down, in 13x9-inch baking dish. Drizzle with dressing.

4. Bake 40 min. or until chicken is done (165°F). Sprinkle with remaining cheese; bake 5 min. or until melted.

That's it! Four steps. Not bad, right? Like I said, this is a great "prep it and forget it" meal because once it's in the oven you really don't have much else to do. I hope you enjoy it and much as we have. Let me know if you try it and how it goes. Happy cooking!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Show Me the Benjamins, Mr. Tax Man

Over the course of the last week I have been stressing over taxes. I don't know why I have been so stressed this year, but I have been. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that we bought a house, lived in two townships, merged some other assets based on our marriage, and oh yeah... we have to somehow get all of this information onto two pages of a 1040 Form in some semblance of order before April 15. Eek.

I seriously felt like this even just thinking about it.

Honestly though, I planned a wedding for 250 people with no professional planning help, and I feel like I need a tax planner just to help me with an average yearly return. What is wrong with me?

In the past, my dad has always done my taxes for our family. I tried to work with him on my 2008 return, but with living away from home, busy schedules, and other lame excuses, sitting with my dad and going line by line over my return didn't happen.

Fast forward to this year to where I am trying to rely less on my father to do things like get the oil changed in my car (and oh yeah, to do my taxes). And instead, rely more on my husband for these things, because even though my husband doesn't admit it, I totally believe that he feels less manly if I ask my dad to do something. That's an entirely different post... but, my dear husband, I PROMISE  I don't rely on my dad for these things because I think you aren't capable, it's more like a I don't want to bother you with something silly, because my dad is semi-retired, has TONS of time, and loves to help... but I promise, I'm working on it!

To make a very long story short, we got them done. All of them. I'll say it again. OUR TAXES ARE DONE. Hallelujah! I think the best part is that I actually know how to complete a tax return, so when next year rolls around, I will be a little more calm and independent through the whole thing.

I'm not going to lie- when I'm stressed, I shop. I don't always spend money, but regardless, I shop. I was on one of my favorite websites the other day,, and found that they had a lovely section of tools to help with taxes. Although I didn't buy anything, I still thought that maybe if the tax fairy was listening she would place an order for me and drop these off at my door for next year.
And if all else sweet, lovely tax fairy... just bring me one of these! Ha!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Home Renovations: Closets are a Problem in our House

First, so I don't sound like an ungrateful snob, my husband and I are SO thankful to be homeowners. We have friends who live in cities where housing isn't as affordable as where we live, and live in rentals where they can't make changes. For that reason, we are THANKFUL to be homeowners and to be able to make decisions about improving our home.

But... closets are a enormous, tremendous, gigantic problem in our home. No, I am not being dramatic either.

Our house was built almost 100 years ago, and we have already done a good amount of work including a total renovation of our kitchen. We love the details that you don't find in newer homes, but it's easy to see that times have changed in clothing storage over the last 100 years.

The closet in our master bedroom is downright sad. It may have worked in the 1920's, but not so much anymore. We are currently working on it, and I will do a separate post on that when it's completed... but this is what our master closet looked like when we moved in.

No, I did not make that up. And it was this deep (barely wide enough for a pair of shoes):

So, I pretty much told my husband that this sorry excuse for a master closet simply wasn't going to work. We remembered that we have a really cool feature in our house that allows us to access our attic through a full set of stairs directly through our bedroom. Bingo. Hello new closet upstairs.

The only problem was that when we started this project, the attic looked like a traditional attic-- aka no doors, no shelves, just an empty attic. So... we got busy framing out some useful space in our blank empty canvas.

Here is where we started framing the closet. It's on the left.

Hanging drywall in the closet. Kind of a funny angle with our roofline.

 Finally, it's beginning to look like we have walls!

After some paint and finishing work, the racks and lighting go in! The racks are just Closetmaid brand from Home Depot. Nothing special, since we aren't going to be in the house forever...

It's crazy unorganized right now and we still need to add carpet and shoe racks... but it sure beats having ridiculous amounts of clothing piled up on the floor of your guest bedrooms and in tupperware containers. How did I even live like that? Such is the life of a newlywed who moves into her husband's bachelor pad, I suppose.

Have you tackled any home renovation projects? Tell me about them :)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Stuff That Olympic Dreams Are Made Of

Lindsay Vonn. First American Woman to EVER win the Olympic downhill. Rock on, girl! 

And... from the Los Angeles Times: 
"Lindsey Vonn didn't just become the first American woman to win the Olympic downhill, with a time of 1 minute 44.19 seconds.

Vonn did it with a throbbing shin under backbreaking pressure, which is why, when she won, she cried nonstop for almost two hours."

OUCH. Such a cool story and I'm so glad she won.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Delicious Dinners: Easy Crab Cakes

For Valentine's Day, MrMarried requested a little surf and turf action for our celebratory meal. I have a perfect dinner that fits the surf and turf bill quite well, so I happily agreed to make it.

Get ready to feel like a chef to Hollywood celebs, because these crab cakes are so good, and SO easy,  they will honestly they will make you look like a professional. I can't remember exactly where I got the recipe from, but I know it was from the Food Network website a few years ago. So, here we go:

12 ounces crab meat, cooked
5 ounces bread crumbs-- I like to use garlic flavored bread crumbs
1 egg white
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 tablespoon sambal-- sometimes I put this in, sometimes I don't. If I don't add it, I like to add a hint of garlic
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives-- I have swapped in green onions before
1 lemon, juiced
salt and pepper, to taste
1 bunch of arugula, washed and patted dry

1. In mixing bowl, combine the crab meat with the bread crumbs, Add the egg white, mayonnaise, sambal, chives, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Fold the ingredients gently but thoroughly, taking care not to mash the crab meat.(This gets a little goopy so you might want to have a plate ready to put the crab cakes onto)

3. Shape the mixture into 4 (my version makes 6-7) uniform cakes, they should be moist and just hold together.

4. Coat a skillet with EVOO and place over medium high heat. Cook the crab cakes untl browned, about 3-4 minutes each side.

5. Serve on a bed of arugula with a side dijon mustard.

Even though the recipe says it will yield 4 cakes, this last version yielded 7 for me. I find that they are much easier to flip in the skillet when they are in smaller cakes, so perhaps that's why my way of making them yields more than the recipe. Good luck! I hope you love them.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

"Oh Canada, the True North Strong and Free"

Oh how I love the Olympics! The pictures that I have seen from Vancouver are breathtaking, and I have added it to the "Places MrMarried and I Must Visit" list. And how about the Canadian National Anthem? I love it. I almost wrote out the full song as the title of this blog post, but I thought that would be overkill.

Now, don't get me wrong I am one the most patriotic Americans that you will ever meet, however, I just love that the Canadians have a national anthem that the average person can actually sing. The US national anthem isn't exactly easy to sing, (and sing well).

Anyway... On Friday night MrMarried and I snuggled up on the couch to watch the opening ceremony, watch the nations parade into the stadium, and cheer for the USA. When Team USA entered and had these little babies on, I about fell off the couch:

How cute are these hats?! I was on a mission to buy one and wear it when we get our next snow storm- which in case you didn't hear, we get a LOT of snow around here these days. But, I unfortunately found out that they are a cool $75, and I quickly decided that there are much better ways to spend 75 bucks.

Instead, I will just watch and cheer without a moose hat for the remainder of the Olympics. Sigh. Okay, I am kidding, I will be fine without one. I think...ha!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Lovin' From My Valentine

My dear husband made my day on Friday by sending these beauties to my office. I was thrilled... too bad they were delivered at 1:55 and I had a FRIDAY AFTERNOON meeting from 2-5:30. Barf.

Attention all executives: Employees DO NOT want to participate in a 3.5 hour intensive marketing message meeting on a Friday afternoon. Just sayin'.

In all seriousness, I survived the meeting and it was so much sweeter to know that I had flowers at my desk waiting for me when I was released from prison the meeting.

I do have a question though. How the heck do you drive home with a vase full of flowers? I was a mess. Trying to steer and trying to hold the flowers upright. It was like an Olympic sport.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

My Sweet Money Making Cash Cow

I don't buy a lot on ebay. I have probably bought and sold a total of 20 items since I started using the site. However, I do believe that ebay might be one of the best inventions to come out of the internet revolution.

My most favorite part of ebay are the used books, DVDs, media and other great finds that I have been able land. My most recent find was Eat, Pray, Love (the audio book version) for $6.90 with shipping.

Why was this such a great find, you ask? Well, I have a 30-40 minute commute each way to work. I've found audio books to be a saving grace to keep me sane during the drive, and they also expose me to books that I normally wouldn't have the time to read.

The only problem with audio books is that they aren't cheap.Case in point: A new version of Eat, Pray, Love at Amazon is $26.37
I would maybe pay that for a classic hardback novel that I would keep forever. Would I pay that price for a one time read-- or one time listen in my case? Heck no. And again... here comes the magic of ebay.

As I said, bought the audio book for $6.90 and listened to it while I was in the car. After I was finished, it sat in my backseat taking up space. So, I decided to see if I could resell the book. It did... and the book sold for $13.95.

That's right. I have found a "library" that PAYS ME to listen to audio books. I "rent" the book (and buy it from the seller) and then "return" the book (and sell it to someone else) and I MAKE MONEY. I know that a profit of $7.05 isn't really earth shattering, but I'll still take it.

Or... maybe I should just start going to our community library and rent audio books from them. Ehhh... maybe that's something I'll save for next month. For now, I will relish in my money making cash cow. Okay, I'm totally kidding on the cash cow.

Do you love audio books as much as me? I'd love to hear about it.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Can I Get a Little Love for DSW?

FACT:  I DO work in marketing.
FACT:  I DO NOT work in retail marketing, but nonetheless... I know how retail promotions work.

The formula is simple: Company A researches your buying patterns, send a weekly or monthly e-mail with a coupon to spark your interest, and then drives to you their website to BUY.

For example:
Store A is selling a pair of shoes for $50.
The same store is willing to give you $5 off a full price item and sell the shoes for $45 over the alternative (which is making zero dollars without the promotion).

BUT ... enter MissMarried with her fashionable superhero cape, web savvy shopping ability, and coupons and you have a girl that wrecks the formula!

Exhibit A: I received an e-mail promotion in my inbox this morning from DSW. And the pink little numbers in the top right corner caught my eye (except I wanted them in black), so I clicked through to DSW's website. I saw the shoes were listed for full price at $54.95, meaning that I could save $10 off a $49 purchase with the promotional code that they just e-mailed to me.

Running total (pre-shipping): $44.95:

Then I remembered I received an e-mail  from the Vice President of Customer Strategy & Engagement at DSW (yes, this person exists and she is on twitter- ask me if you want to know who she is) last night thanking me for a review that I submitted to the DSW website about a pair of shoes that I bought last month. The e-mail thanked me, and included another coupon code for $5 off a purchase of $5 or more.

Running total (pre-shipping): $39.95. Hmmm.... this keeps getting better.

Let's keep a good thing going, right? Since I am a very loyal DSW shopper, I happened to have two, yes two, rewards certificates based on past purchases. The reward certificates were for $20 and $10 respectively, so I typed those little babies into the discount code box and my total kept going in the right direction-- down, down, down.

Running total (pre-shipping): $19.95 (with my 1st certificate)
Running total (pre-shipping): $9.95 (with my 2nd certificate)

And now for the killer that often stops me dead in my tracks with online shopping: shipping. I visited the DSW website, and saw that they had a free NEXT DAY shipping offer for Premier rewards members (and that's me!)

Bringing my running total for these new (and totally needed, errr... well deserved) shoes to.... $9.95 with shipping! I could not pass these up. I immediately hit submit, changed the default shipping address to my office (because MrMarried would not be pleased if he knew I had bought another pair of black shoes), and began writing this post knowing that I got the deal of the day! 
 And just for further proof, here is my shopping cart. Yes, the total says $9.95.

What deals have you gotten lately?  I'd love to hear about them. Happy Shopping!

***Please note, to my knowledge, I have not violated any secret marketing plans of any company. I do not work for DSW or, and found all of the coupon codes I referenced in this post on free, public websites including and This blog post is simply to celebrate a good deal and not to share non-public information. Just trying to cover my bases with this disclaimer. It was not my intention to offend anyone.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Beautiful Blogger Award

One of my new blogger friends, Mrs. Jones, at A Real Life Wife made my week last Saturday by giving me the Beautiful Blogger award. I wanted to write a post about it sooner, but we had a little bit of snow *cough 18 inches cough cough* and I didn't really get around to writing about it. So, today is the day!

And now for the fun stuff... Here are the rules:

1. Thank the person who nominated you for this award and insert a link to their blog. (Done!)
2. Pass on the award to about 15 other bloggers who you recently discovered and think are great! (Wow, I honestly don't know if I know that many bloggers.)
3. Contact the other bloggers and let them know they have been chosen for this award. (Soon to be done.)
4. Say 7 things about yourself. (Done, see below!)

Wow! 15? I definitely don't have 15 blogger friends since I am still quite new to the blogging world, and since Mrs. Jones and I blog and tweet with many of the same people, the list becomes even smaller...I may have to get back to you all on the rest of the list. Here is just one for now:

@GracieBethPSP at The Engineer in... Heels and Pearls  (thanks for the fun conversation about Superbowl commercials last night!)

I would have certainly also awarded @kbrenckle, @lawschoolwife, and @areallifewife with this lovely honor had it crossed my path first. Thanks for being great twitter friends, ladies!

Now, I suppose I need to tell you seven things about me. In no particular order...

1. I'm a grass roots "save the earth" type person. Even though I won't be marching on Washington for climate change reform any time soon, I do try to do my part. Before my office recycled, I used to haul home all of the recyclable cans and bottles people drank each week, and put them on my own curb (with a free beverage fridge at work if was almost a full garbage bag a week). I also won't go to the grocery store if I don't have my cloth grocery bags.

2. One of my favorite sounds in world is the sound of bare feet on tile floor. I can't explain it.

3. My husband wants a dog, (a Lab or German Shepard) and I'm totally dragging my feet about getting one.

4. Wedding planning was really easy for me. I have lots of friends who are engaged and planning and all they do it complain about how hard it is.  I enjoyed every second so you won't get much sympathy from me, sister. I will listen though and provide any help I can!

5. I'm an only child, but truly do wish I had a brother or a sister.

6. My parents love to tell a story about how I played the clarinet in elementary school. My instructor told them that I hated it, and that I used to skip my lessons and just wander around the school until the lesson was over.

7. I'm not great with proofreading. It has a lot to do with the speed in which I work. I like to write something and just hit publish because I'm excited to get it out there. Therefore, you will likely see typos on this blog. OFTEN. I'm sorry. It's not that I don't respect your time and I don't care enough to proofread. It's just how I am. I'm working on it. Regardless, I'm so happy I started my blog.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

In Case You Didn't Hear- It Snowed!

I think the title of this post is pretty self explanatory, however I believe any good blog post is supported with pictures- so, without further adieu, I give you the snow that arrived in all its glory on Friday, February 5th.

It all started with this little baby that decided to WALLOP us with snow last night. 

It really was beautiful....

We had A LOT of shoveling to do. 
This is after we finally got my car dug out. Oh how I wish we had a garage!

There weren't too many places to put the snow since there was SO much of it, so it just kept getting piled higher and higher.This is part of our FRONT yard!

MrMarried seriously loves snow... and loves it to an unhealthy degree. As for me, I would happily book a one way ticket to the equator and park my butt on a lounge chair by the pool. However, my lovely husband would move to Antarctica if I would let him. 
This is MrMarried practically frolicking in the crap getting ready to measure the snow.

And the final count. Drum roll please... just a hair under 18 inches. Our neighbors had 19-20 in some of their yards. I guess we got lucky with only getting 18. Whew.

I hope that if you have been buried in this snow like we have, you have been able to enjoy it.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Feeling Appreciated

The company where I work had a rough week. Long story short, our product had a major new release that went out, and it simply was less than stellar hadn't been fully tested. Many of you have followed my layoff story... and I still need to write about how it came to be that I am still working at the company that laid me off (and then subsequently hired me back) all within 3.5 weeks. But... that's another hugely long saga post.

Regardless, two upper level executives made my week by personally going to a local grocery store, buying ice cream for the entire company, and walking to each employee's desk and handing it out. It's the simple things that keep me going at this place. 

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Solutions Wednesday: Making Laundry More Pleasant

Since I'm new to the world of blogging, (and a HUGE thank you goes out to the people who have encouraged me to start writing, and have given me feedback to keep me going) I'm still discovering what type of writing schedule works best for me.

For instance, should I go with Menu Mondays, Book Review Tuesdays, Home Renovation Thursdays, and so on? Or, does a "post when I find something interesting" mentality work better for me? The jury is still out on this, but suffice it to say that I'm thinking about the best way to organize my blog and hope to have something a bit more concrete soon.

But... for now, it is Wednesday, and I have found some things I thought would be a solution of interest to many of you- so.. ta da...we have Solutions Wednesday! Today's solution was inspired by a Real Simple newsletter I received on the topic of laundry gadgets. And, I don't know about you, but I love something that can make laundry easier, especially since my husband can make about this much laundry in about 2 days-- no joke.

First up, The JABBA drying hanger from Ikea. How cute are these? And for $4.99? I love it. No, these aren't crazy looking chandeliers, but are instead drying racks for dedicates. So functional and stylish too. I don't know about you, but I could use some color in my laundry room!

Second on the list, stackable baskets. Very self explanatory... and yes, I realize these are not earth shattering. However, I must ask the question-- Why did I not know that these existed before today? I could make excellent use of these!

And last but not least, from one of my favorite organizational stores on earth-- The Container Store, I give you the Reisenthel Loop Laundry Bag. Its a bit of a splurge for a laundry bag at $49, but for how many uses I would be able to get out of this stylish tote... I think that it might pay for itself.

Laundry is not one of my most favorite things to do, but just like everything that is less than a blast, (and I can totally hear Reese Witherspoon as Elle Woods saying this)... With fun accessories, even the most boring job can turn out better. Ha! I can't believe I just typed that... but, I honestly believe it.

Do you have any laundry accessories that you swear by? I'd love to hear about them!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Home Renovations: Our Kitchen Backsplash-- Part Two

Since some of the pictures from yesterday's kitchen remodeling post were a bit of a sorry excuse for photography, I felt the need to add some better quality images.

This has totally been a labor of love, so I'm sorry I am bragging about it posting twice about it.

Here is the first before and after...


Before and after- looking at the other side of the kitchen

See that bottle of vino that is half cut off on the right side of the last picture? My husband had to hold me back from drinking the whole thing myself after we finished!  Okay... not really, but it was truly a celebratory moment!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Home Renovations: Our Kitchen Backsplash

My husband and I live in a home that was built almost a century ago. It has great bones and was the right price, but needed a total renovation overhaul some work when we moved in. And... when I say it needed some work, I don't mean it was unsafe to live in, but it was just stuck in a different decade.

The kitchen has been one of our MAJOR projects, and I wish so badly that I had taken pictures of the kitchen before we began to tear it down to the studs... but unfortunately I didn't, so you will just have to believe me when I say it looked a little something like this....


So even though I don't have a real "before" picture of our kitchen this what it looked like this past summer. We have come a long way!

I'm blessed with a man that could have his own show on HGTV a handy husband who is willing to take on electrical, drywalling, landscaping, painting, installing hardwood flooring-- I could go on and on. You name it, he likes getting into it! He even told me that he "Doesn't mind remodeling because it he wasn't so busy with the house he would be wasting his time away with video games." Friends, that is a VERY mature statement for my husband. I am thankful and blessed. Anyway... I digress.

As I said, our kitchen has been our major project, and this past weekend we put one of the final pieces in place-- our kitchen blacksplash. So, I thought I would treat you to some pictures.

Here are our walls before. Pretty plain, but still very functional.

Same view of the counter, but a different angle.

Other side of the kitchen. 

So we took a deep breath and were off to the races. I had never done a backslash before, but I was hopeful that things would turn out alright. Please excuse the poor quality of the pictures.


Making progress!

And then if you fast forward through about 10 hours worth of labor over Saturday and Sunday... we ended up with something like this....!

I will post more pictures later, because I know these before and after pictures aren't the greatest, but I wanted to share our weekend accomplishment. Happy House Renovating!