Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Pennyless Life: "Last Night"

The Civil Wars have quickly become my favorite band. Have you heard of them? Well if you haven't you need to. Right now! Yes I am being bossy. You will understand once you hear them.
They are a musical duo comprised of Joy Williams and John Paul White. I grew up listening to Joy Williams as a kid, but she seems like she really found herself in The Civil Wars (not that I should be speaking for her, but it's the truth. She agrees with me). They're lyrics are haunting and magical, and I got to enjoy it firsthand last night thanks to Matt's belated birthday gift to me.
They are simple on stage. John Paul is on guitar (I think he had like 4 different types up there with him last night; Matt was drooling) and then Joy on keys and accordion. Though simplistic on stage they're personality comes through with every song as if they are in an intimate conversation with each other, which brings energy and passion to their performance. They have fun on stage and that overflows into the audience (no, I'm not getting paid to write this review). I just love them if you can't tell.

It was a great night even though the body guard wouldn't let my husband in because he didn't have his i.d. Come ON seriously! Like Matt doesn't look 18!

Oh sorry I got confused because of the facial hair. This is Simms last year. He has shaved since this was taken.

There's Matt and definitely looking older then 18.

So he had to drive back to our house (like 20 minutes away) to get it. Thankfully there was an opening number.
And this is an announcement: People if you go to a concert listen to the music; don't talk through the entire performance! There I said my peace! I had to get that off my chest because I didn't tell the two girls in front of me that last night. Thanks, this was great therapy.
And even still, a beautiful night filled with beautiful music.

This is them. I know lame, but the best I could get with my iPhone.

Encore song.....they covered "Billie Jean". It rocked!

This was my very first Civil Wars concert thanks to my friend Alana; that's her in the middle (not enjoying herself AT all if you can tell).

First song I heard by them.

Favorite song by them to date.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Spinach Mushroom Quesadilla Sprinkled with Goat Cheese

Almost every time we're out at a restaurant Simms, my 3-year-old, asks for a cheese quesadilla. I like quesadillas just as much as he does, but I have to admit I have a refined pallet, so it can't be just no ordinary quesadilla.
My husband says I have a spoiled pallet, but I have to disagree. It's extremely refined and civilized.
So in order to satisfy this pallet of mine I took inspiration from The Pioneer Woman.

Here is how I made her Spinach and Mushroom Quesadilla....

Cheese is the most important part!

Slice the shrooms.

Melt butter over medium heat.

Saute those shrooms, and add some more butter. Don't count calories.

Salt-n-Pepa. Well, not the R&B group from the 80's; now I've got "Shoop" in my head. The song.

Add an entire package of spinach, more butter, and season singing "Shoop".


Put a corn tortilla on top of a hot, buttered griddle. Cover with lots of cheese. This is crucial!

Add the sauteed spinach.

And the shrooms.

Sprinkle with that goat cheese. Don't you dare leave the goat cheese out. Don't you dare!

Top it off with another tortilla and more butter of course.

Cook evenly on both sides.

Slice in four parts.

Eat it up. Serve with black beans.

Now this is the quesadilla for the refined pallet.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Light Bulb

After I got over myself this afternoon I decided that I should pick up my Bible.

Let me clarify. The McDougal clan (that's us) has gone through a few things already this year; some hard things, just like you may have. And today for some reason I decided to dwell on some of those hard things. Don't ask me why. I have no idea; I was just in a self-loathing state for some reason (maybe it had something to do with the fact I didn't finish all that laundry yesterday! No, not really.)
But, as I was reading through the book of John (you should check it out, really, it's chock full of drama, suspense, adventure; you name it.) I became very thankful.
I have read through this book several times, but God spoke to me in a new and intimate way today. You know the story of how Jesus heals the man with congenital blindness? In this text I usually tend to focus on the great miracle that Jesus performed with His spit and mud (you'll have to read it), which then proves He is the great Messiah, the Son of God. I then read on to discover the blindness or unbelief of the people that Jesus had just performed the miracle in front of.
Well, today God unveiled another truth to me......

As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" Jesus answered, "It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him." (John 9:1-3).

A light bulb seemed to appear above my head. "Thank You LORD!" I breathed out.
Some sufferings are for God's glory; whether it's through His refinement or through a miraculous healing like this blind man. God's purpose is not always presently known to us, but we have God's assurance that His purpose is always good.....

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28).

And that's all that matters.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Pennyless Life: "A Public Service Announcement"

Ok, so I have the goal of getting all of my laundry done today.....

and the washer machine is semi-broken so I have to manually change the cycle each time.

There's more; just wait.

No, I don't have 5 kids. Just 1 and a husband.

Oh, and all the ironing....

Fun times!

This has been a public service announcement.

Well, really I'm in need of the public's service....

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Pennyless Life: "A Nail Biter"

Apparently metallics are in this year; so I thought I would go out on a limb and try this new trend. I'm not usually a dark nail polish girl, especially on my fingernails, but I felt daring today. Plus I found this nail polish on clearance.
So here it goes.....

Kind of nervous; it's SO dark. It's called "Coalest Day of the Year".

Don't worry I have the nail polish remover close at hand.


After one coat.

After two. I don't know....I definitely need to get to use to it. I'll give it a few days and see.

I'll probably try a lighter shade once my flip flops make their entrance.

My husband, Matt's eyes got really big when he saw what I had done. But MOST of the time if he doesn't like my fashion choice others do.

We'll see who has the better fashion sense tomorrow....

Friday, March 25, 2011

Best Pizza for the Pennyless!

Thanks to my friend Nina I have discovered what I think is the best deal for pizza of all time! I used to think it was Little Casesar's until I was introduced to the $1.99 slice at Costco! Little Caesar's, I am sorry to say, does not stand a chance now. Costco's pizza is seriously some of the best dang pizza I have ever had the pleasure of encountering, and since I am still in remission we are having leftovers for lunch today.
The key to making leftover pizza great is NOT using the microwave. I repeat DO NOT use the microwave. It makes the crust too gooey and just does not do a good piece of pizza justice.
Put a baking sheet in the oven to preheat at 350 degrees. Then put the pizza directly on the baking sheet for about 10 minutes. It gives the crust a perfect crunch and texture, and melts the cheese all the way through perfectly. Then when you bite you get a beautiful stretch with the melted cheese. So good!
I think a large cheese pizza at Costco is like $8.99 and you don't have to be a member, just make sure you have cash. There is no reason to add any toppings, just order cheese. I repeat just order cheese.
Sorry, I'm sounding a little bossy, but this is serious business!
Thanks Nina you have taught me so much in my two years as a Louisvillian (don't know if that's a word?), and most importantly about Costco pizza.

If you don't have a Costco where you live I am sorry, so very sorry, and I will pray that you get one soon, very soon!

The most perfect cheese pizza.

Don't you like my pizza plates! And yes I am having two pieces; don't judge.

I have unfortunately started craving this pizza ever since that first bite! I mean it's sitnkin' delicious, but not fat free!

The perfect bite!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Pennyless Life: "Simms and the Stuffed Stocks"

Don't ask me why or how but Matt, my husband, and I found our son like this yesterday while he was taking his nap.....

Take a close look.....

No his ankles are not swollen, like Matt thought at first glance.

He has stuffed his most prized Match Box Cars in his socks, for safe keeping I suppose, just like anyone would do with their most prized possessions.

Looks really comfortable.

And yes that's his water gun for protection and his night vision binoculars.

Hilarious! I love this little guy.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


I have been laid up on the couch, not feeling well; no cooking or baking. The Pennyless Cook has been out of remission so I have had the excuse to watch movie after movie and not feeling guilty about it with my husband's blessing.
I just realized that throughout this movie marathon a theme has occurred: strong women chasing after a dream of some kind. One dream was family, one dream was the job, one was the spot-light, one was a lover. Watching all these women I realized most all of them had some part of the American dream already, but were still chasing after that missing piece.
Laying here on the couch amongst laundry, scattered toys, mis-matched furniture, dirty dishes, my loud and talkative son; I realized that I am not living the American dream. I am living life, the life that God has generously given me, and I want to continue to live the life that he has given me more and more worthy of Christ each day.
Sure I have dreams. I dream of being debt-free, and then having a home decorated like Southern Living. I dream of having more kids, and then I dream of having grand-kids. I dream of writing for a living, preferably about my great loves like food, family, and God (I don't know how that could work, but you never know?). I dream of being a photographer. I dream of traveling. I dream of growing an organic garden (I'm still working on that compost). I dream of having a consistent work-out schedule. I dream of losing those last 15 pounds. I even sometimes dream of having an adorable, gourmet food store and cafe.
These are all beautiful dreams to me that I spend too much time thinking about, but it's fun to dream; to reach, and most importantly to know that God will always carry me where I truly need to go. If I look to Him He will always catch me when I trip and dust me off, and then shove me where I really need to be to live the life to glorify Him.
When I am being raised to see Christ in the Final Day, that day all of my dreams will come true because I will be able to live a life worthy of Christ without anymore tripping. I will be perfectly with Christ forever!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy Maewyn Succat Day!

I was talking with a group of my girlfriends today and we were all discussing the purpose of St. Patrick's Day, and nobody really knew except that you were supposed to wear green or you got pinched, and that some people drank the whole day away at Irish Pubs. We also knew that this St. Patrick was a Christian, but that was pretty much the extent of our knowledge. So I read about it today.
St. Patrick's Day is a holiday to honor this dude known as being the patron saint of Ireland. His real name was Maewyn Succat (I'd change my name to St. Patrick too if I was named that!) and he grew up in Scotland or Roman England and then eventually captured by pirates! It keeps getting better! Then he was sold into slavery in Ireland. Imprisoned for 6 years and in prison had visions of God dictating him to escape by-way of a ship. Sounds a little like a movie. He did escape to Britain and then traveled to France and after studying and training for 12 years he became a bishop. He soon set off back to Ireland and converted many pagans to Christianity. It is said that he used the three-leaf shamrock to explain the concept of the Trinity; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. There's my two sense, now let me show you how we celebrated.....with food of course; green food! Praise the Lord, Amen!

"Kiss Me I'm Awesome!"

Add the green food coloring to the white milk.

Mix, mix, mix.

Shamrock green; it's for the mac and cheese.

Mac and cheese, green peas, broccoli, and yep that's green milk; all my favorite color.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Pimento Cheese Takes Two

I just made another batch of my Pennyless Pimento Cheese, but this time I added a teaspoon of yellow mustard and a pinch of cayenne pepper. My Daddy, who stopped by today, had the idea thanks to Harper's Restaurant, to make a dip out of it. So I tried to find a similar recipe for it on line and actually found the exact recipe from Whirled Traveler that Harper's published in a Charlotte magazine. I used my recipe to make my version of the dip, but here's the original recipe for you to try!

Pimento Cheese Dip

8 oz sharp cheddar cheese grated
4 oz jar pimentos, drained and smashed
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp spicy brown mustard
1 1/2 tsp red wine vinegar
1/8 tsp celery salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
pinch of garlic salt

Combine all ingredients and stir well. Heat dip for 30 second intervals until heated through, stirring in-between each heating.

New members added to make the dip.

Hey, there's my reflection! Hello there!

My Pennyless Pimento Cheese with the vinegar and mustard added.

Dip after 30 seconds in the microwave. Daddy couldn't resist!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Eat My Garbage!

I have been thinking for awhile about gardening and getting one started for this coming summer. Fresh, garden vegetables from my own garden is a dream I've had since I started cooking. I want peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, herbs; I'd love lettuce and strawberries too; maybe even carrots, but I know that's getting pretty ambitious. So just to get me started I made a compost pile in my backyard. I am not a bonified hippie, practically a virgin when it comes to going green, besides recycling, so I started reading a book borrowed from my friend Kristen called Worms Eat My Garbage. Here's my novice attempt at composting (I guess that's a word?). I'll keep you posted on my progress.

That's food scraps I've collected this week.

That's banana peels, onion, onion peels, and I can't remember what else, oh yeah I think that's lemon peel.

Here's the inspirational book. It's pretty entertaining and informative so far.

Entertaining by like showing Gale's coffee-table worm bin that sits in the middle of her sitting room. Hysterical! I'm not going this extreme. My worms will not have their dream home like this; sorry.