NYE + Salsa Recipe

Wow, I’m getting pretty original with the old titles, aren’t I? Yes, my friends – I put a lot of thought into that one.

Happy New Years Eve! Tonight we’re planning to hang out with good friends and family at my mom’s house. I’ll bring my camera — you know that though. I’ll even try to take pictures of people too, not just dogs! Oh yeah, it’s happening. Let’s take bets though. Five to one chances that I take twice as many pictures of dogs than people. What do you think?

DSC_0857I kinda like these mutts.

DSC_0848Before the holiday season is officially over and it becomes taboo to write about it anymore, I wanted to share my little village. I remember as a child my grandma (who we all call Mom (yes, even Alex) but I think that would be confusing for all you non-family members).. anyway! I remember my grandma had a village set up every Christmas. I could sit for hours and look into all of the different houses (they’re very, very fragile so certainly not a toy) and imagine about the little people’s lives. I would make up little stories about their Christmases and their families.

I kinda forgot about them though. It wasn’t until Alex and I got really serious and started our own Christmas traditions when he told me that his mom had a collection of them as well. So it was an easy decision, I wanted a Christmas village too. We started collecting the Department 56, Dickens Village a couple years ago and oh, how it’s grown!

This year we set up a little table just for the houses!


DSC_0866I just love them. They make me feel like a little kid!

Anyway, let’s get to this recipe. I’ve mentioned it a few times that the man of the house REALLY enjoys salsa. Like… a lot, a lot. He judges salsa based on whether it can make the back of his neck sweat. When I ask Alex to put into words how much he likes salsa, his exact words were (in a very serious voice, mind you), “I can’t. I drink salsa. I love it.”

So, in an attempt to have his favorite snack around the house – I dove head first into the salsa making world. I’ve tried all different kinds. Fresh tomatoes, pureed, chopped, roasted, ALL KINDS.

The problem was that every time I made a different kind of salsa, I never wrote the recipe down. I just kinda winged it, ya know? I would throw in this and that, we would taste it, then I’d add a little more of a couple things. It really wasn’t a science. BUT every time we would find the best salsa ever, I could never recreate it exactly. Thus this recipe was born. I made salsa again a couple weeks ago and wrote down every ingredient and made changes every time I added a little more. It was a pain, but I’m happy it’s done and I can finally make it taste the same every time! Huzzah!

some notes before we get started: I use a food processor, but you could use a blender as well. I would recommend chopping the onions and jalapeños first if you use a blender. Also, this recipe is more of a pureed salsa without any big chunks. You could throw some chunks in at the end if you want more texture. Additionally, I’ve found that using fresh tomatoes versus canned tomatoes doesn’t make a big difference taste wise. Unless it’s summer time and I have an overflow of tomatoes like I did here, I always use cans now. I buy them in bulk and they’re way cheaper than fresh ones and MUCH less work than cutting them and scooping out the seeds, yadda yadda.

One last thing: keep in mind that the longer you keep the salsa in the fridge, the stronger the cilantro taste becomes. If you aren’t eating it right away, tone down the cilantro. And feel free to make a TON and freeze it (like I did here and here).



  • 2 -3 jalapeños (depending on how spicy you like it, I freeze my jalapeños in half so I use 2.5 (5 halves))
  • 1.5 medium onions or 1 large onion, quartered
  • 1.5 T garlic
  • 3 T of lime juice
  • 1 t cummin
  • 1/4 t cayenne pepper
  • 3 cans of chopped tomatoes (do not drain)
  • small handful of cilantro, rinsed
  • salt to taste


1. In a food processor (or blender) pulse together onions, garlic and jalapeños until chopped.

DSC_06562. Add the remaining ingredients besides the tomatoes and pulse until well incorporated.

DSC_06573. Add tomatoes and pulse until desired consistency.

DSC_06594. Let sit in the fridge for at least an hour for flavors to really combine. (we occasionally eat it right away, it’s still good. it just gets better if you can manage to wait!)


DSC_0662So yeah, it’s really easy. Just basically throw it all in the processor and pulse it together. Bing, Bang, Boom. Done.

one more quick note: I typically only use two cans of tomatoes, however, I added a little too much lime juice this time so I had to dull it down with more tomatoes. If you only want to make it with two cans, only use 2 T of lime juice rather than 3. Since I was trying to write down exactly what I used and we ended up loving this end result, I’m keeping the recipe as is.

Do you have any recipes that just wing every time you make it? Do you have specific Christmas/holiday decorations that remind you of childhood? Do you have any fun NYE plans? 

Happy New Year!!!!

Christmas 2012 Recap

Alright kiddos, it’s time. I’ve sorted through my pictures from Christmas and am finally ready to share the goodies. For some reason I’ve been taking more pictures of dogs lately than people – it’s a problem. You don’t mind though, right? Dogs are pretty stinkin’ cute.

I had to go to work on Christmas Eve for a couple hours – boo! But, before I headed out the door, I hung out on the couch with a steamin’ cup of coffee while I day dreamed by the Christmas tree.

IMG_0248It was cozy and peaceful and man I would love to be back there right now. Once I got home from work, the snow started!

DSC_0757A couple hours later when we were tucked away at my mom’s house for a Christmas Eve dinner, it already looked like this!

DSC_0775The boys (Alex, Justin (my brother), Don (my mom’s boyfriend), and all four dogs) had an intense snowball fight. For some unknown reason, Alex wanted to play without a jacket on. Smart, right? (hehe – I love you Alex. Don’t hate me 🙂 )


When he concentrates he sticks his tongue out. It’s cute.


Hunter was the only dog that cooperated with pictures. All of the rest of the mutts were way too excited about the snow!


Case in point.


We had a blast chatting over dinner and wine! Check out these awesome glasses that my mom got from Don.


Once we got home, Alex and I had an awesome snowball fight in the dark (in our pajamas). The entire night was great!

We woke up on Christmas morning to a snowy wonderland! Quick iPhone photo..



If you haven’t noticed… Hunter loves the snow.


Well.. Bailey loves the snow too, but he wasn’t feelin’ the pictures.


After presents, A Christmas Story and a delicious breakfast we headed to my grandmother’s house for the day. The rest of the day was filled with laughs, good food, overflowing glasses and family. Lots and lots of family.



Yeah, that happened.

One of the best parts of the day was re-creating this picture from our childhood.


So that was our Christmas. Snowy. Dog filled. Lots of food, fun, and family.

How was your holiday? What’s your favorite holiday tradition? Did Santa surprise you with the first snow of the year on Christmas too? 

p.s. it’s not even a week after Christmas and this post is up. Aren’t you proud of me?!?!

Basically Free Chalkboard

Every now and then I get on these kicks. And just to be clear, when I mean every now and then, I basically mean all the stinkin’ time. I’m fairly certain that it drives Alex crazy; that man puts up with so much! I find a new bread that I like (like Sandwich Thins, for example) and buy ten packs. I eat two or three of them and the rest sit in the freezer to slowly collect a nice layer of frosty burn. Eventually, Alex gets annoyed and throws them away.

Or I decide that I want to hang a picture wall full of pretty white frames. I collect handfuls of frames and squirrel them away in a closet. Knowing that I need another dozen frames to complete my wall, I don’t exactly get to them in a timely fashion and they lose their forefront location in my brain. But man, I tell ya – when I’m thinking of my frame project, I’m collecting those bad boys with a vengeance.

I make a smoothie for breakfast every day for two months. Then I get tired of them and start eating oatmeal every day. As you can imagine, after a couple months of that… I move on.

The point of all this rambling is that when I get on a kick, that’s it for me. I’m a goner. I spend way too many hours every day researching it, dreaming about it until I finally do something about it!

Last week I infiltrated Alex’s inbox with pictures of chalkboards. How random is that, right? Did we need a chalkboard? No. I just wanted to make one, that’s all there is to it. When we finally got a minute of downtime last Sunday afternoon, I knew exactly how I wanted to spend it! Yep, with a trip to Home Depot. BOOYAH.

We planned on grabbing a piece of MDF (particle board, faux wood) for it’s smooth finish, a can of chalkboard paint, and some wood for the frame. However, we noticed that the particle board would be around $5 for the size we wanted and the chalkboard paint would be $10. Still cheaper than buying an already made chalkboard – definitely! After looking around at the different wood options, we noticed that Home Depot sold MDF that was already coated in a chalkboard-ey goodness for only $9. Buy both the MDF and chalkboard paint for $15? Or buy it for $9? Yeah, it wasn’t a hard choice for us to make either.

For the frame we bought two cheap, cheap, cheap 1″x4″x8′ pieces.


Nothin’ fancy. Then Joe (our friend who was in town from NY – who graciously agreed to help!) and I started beating up the wood! We threw it around the pavement, banged hammers and nails on it, and even used the drill to rough up the wood. Have you ever “distressed” wood before? You should. It’s a GREAT stress reliever.

After the wood was sufficiently owned distressed, I broke out my trusty stain and got to work. I’ve used Rustoleum’s wood stain in Kona before and loved the color. And since I already owned a quart — it seemed like a no-brainer! I found ours at Lowe’s – you can see it here.

Here’s the wood after I applied the stain and wiped it down. Notice also that it’s already cut to length. Cutting and routing it first allows the stain to get on all visible sides. How annoying would it be to stain it, cut it, and then have to stain it again since now you have fresh cuts?



Oh and I should tell you that I didn’t want my frame to come out too dark so after I applied the stain, I didn’t wait too long before wiping it down. You can completely control the end color – keep that in mind!

Alex did all of the work that required any cutting. Here you can see how he routed the back of the frame so the chalkboard would sit flush and how he drilled pilot holes so the screws wouldn’t be visible from the front.



Alex also used a staple gun to mount the chalkboard to the frame and then re-inforced the sides of the frame together with a metal bracket.

And like the awesome husband he is, he surprised me when I came home from work on Monday night by hanging it! Ten points for Alex.

Here was our first drawing, complete with a silly-looking Christmas tree. Yeah… that’s a masterpiece and rightfully deserves a spot on this ol’ blog.


And here’s an updated one – one that required a tad more effort 🙂



So, all in all it cost under $15 since I already had the stain on hand. And for something that is over two feet wide and four feet tall, I’d say that it was a good bargain. Plus, it took less than two hours. Seriously, you can’t beat that. Unless it was free. Or wrapped in bacon.

ALSO – the man of the house has been working on the reclaimed lumber that he purchased way back here (which will soon be our new mantel). Can you imagine how great this space will look with a “vintage” mantel to complete the fireplace. Oh, so good.


We also finally hung some wedding pictures in the basement – on the wall directly across from the fireplace. And, you know by we… I mean Alex. That’s a given, right?


Better late than never.

What have you guys been up to lately? Any random crafts? Do you have sudden urges to make chalkboards, too? Please say yes. Have you gotten all your holiday wrapping done? No? Me either. Yeah, I know… tomorrow is Christmas Eve and I have waaaay too much stuff to do. AND – I think I’m coming down with the flu 😦

Off to wrap presents slash blow my nose slash cough up a lung.

And no post is complete without a thorough dog-fest.