Meet the Sullivans: January 2011

January 31, 2011

I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always long as I'm living, my Daddy you'll be. 

On Saturday January 29th my dad Tim Collins passed away at the age of 56. He had metastatic lung cancer that had spread aggressively throughout his body. During the month that he knew about his disease he was brave, hopeful and strong. He died surrounded by family and close friends, holding my mom's hand. I will miss him everyday for the rest of my life.

January 26, 2011

What I'm Loving Wednesday

I'm linking up with Jamie today for What I'm Loving Wednesday! 
Go on over and check it out and link up too! 

I'm loving chalkboard paint... Our friends Allison and Jordan have a wall in the guest bathroom of their condo that was painted with chalkboard paint when they bought the place. I've always thought it was such a fun idea. The bathroom is a great spot for it too, because you can always just close the door. Friends come over and write sweet messages and such on it and its really. I've always wanted to incorporate it into my own space somehow, but never had the perfect place. 

Over the weekend I was checking out Stories of A to Z (a totally fun and creative Home blog--go check it out, you'll be hooked) and found a linky party from a while back about chalkboard paint and low and be hold I found yet another cool blog Mod Vintage Life who did a DIY on making a chalkboard
 {credit: Mod Vintage Life}

You're probably starting to wonder what my point is... Well, here it is: I really want to make one for our kitchen / dining area. Cute, no? So now I am on the hunt for two frames, one for this project and one for this. I have quite a few projects I have been wanting to make that I have yet to get around to, but I'm planning on getting to this one eventually!

January 22, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Calzone with Blue Cheese Dip

Keith and I had our friend Chris and my sister Kathee over for dinner this week. It was super casual (see the paper napkin?) and I just did carrots, blue cheese dip on the side and kettle chips, but these calzones were so good. 

Buffalo Chicken Calzones with Blue Cheese Dip

Ingredients for the calzones:
Cooking spray
2 reserved chicken breast halves, diced, about 2 cups
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
2/3 cup reserved tomato sauce
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1 pound fresh or frozen pizza or bread dough, thawed according to package directions
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan

Ingredients for the dip:
1 cup sour cream (I used non-fat plain yogurt and it was great)
1/3 cup blue cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F & Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine chicken, cheese, tomato sauce, liquid smoke, and hot sauce. Mix well and set aside.

 This is the liquid smoke stuff. Have any of you ever used it before? I had never heard of it before this recipe. At dinner we were all joking around about where it came from and how they bottled up the taste of smoke.

 Flour a rolling pin and cutting board. Roll dough out, using a rolling pin and slice into quarters.

 Spread chicken mixture over half of each quarter, to within 1-inch (or so) of the edge. Fold over side so that it meets the other side. Pinch the edges together to seal.

 Now transfer them to the baking sheet. 

Transfer calzones to prepared baking sheet and brush the top with olive oil. Sprinkle the top with Parmesan. Using a sharp knife, make a few slits in the top to allow steam to escape during cooking. Bake 15 minutes, until puffed up and golden brown. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Everyone enjoyed these. The guys even had seconds! Chris ended up taking home a copy of the recipe to cook on his own. 


Recaps & Other stuff

We have a new layout! Don't you love it? We do! I found it at Penny Lane Designs. I had been wanting something new, and since I am not a HTML genius I had to find someone to do it for me. We have also added some social media buttons in the right hand column. You can now connect with me on Twitter, email or follow my blog more easily. If you are looking for a new design or a custom one head on over to Penny Lane.  Thanks Marina!

Here are a few recaps of the new recipes I've tried this week:
Broiled Banana Split

This recipe was good, and so easy. Much like the little apple pie a la modes I made a while back, this is something easy to throw together on a week night for desert.

Beer-Braised Beef 
Get the printable version here.

This was a great and easy slow cooker recipe. Next time I would definitely add more spices, especially ones that would heat it up like cayenne pepper. Now that I've said all these good things I can say that I honestly think it looks like dog food. Ha ha ha, but it tastes much better! 

{photo credit:}
I saw this beautiful frame / necklace holder in The Nest magazine. The price in the magazine for it was upward of $30, but I think this is something I can make on my own. I'm going to keep my eye out for a good frame in the next few weeks. In the picture the necklaces are hanging from branches, but I want to come up with something else to attach in their place. Anyone have any other ideas?

January 19, 2011

What I'm Loving Wednesday

I'm linking up with Jamie today for What I'm Loving Wednesday! 
Go on over and check it out and link up too!

I'm loving The Nest magazine... You all know I love cooking magazines. I can't resist snatching up a new one practically every time I'm in the grocery store...but eventually I do get a little tired of looking at food, especially after I've spent hours cooking and cleaning.

I used to read Glamour, Cosmopolitan and US Weekly every month, but as I've gotten a little older and my life has changed I've stopped picking those up as much--I just don't connect with them anymore. After we got engaged I was wedding magazine crazy, and you know there are plenty of those out there.
Well, now that I don't need the wedding magazines, and sometimes I just get tired of recipes (gasp, did I really say that ?!?), that's why I'm loving The Nest magazine. They market themselves as the "hip home / life how-to" magazine, which absolutely applies to so many people our age. The magazine has such a wide variety of articles that I think most women would enjoy flipping through it!

I'm loving (returning to) graduate school... Yep, I'm baaack. I started my Multiple Subject teaching credential two years ago when I started working full-time. I went for three semesters and then took a "little" (a whole year) break while I was wrapping up our wedding plans and to be honest, I was just tired of all the additional work and hours spent away from home at night, etc. I needed that break,,, and now I'm back and I couldn't be happier. Last night (Tuesday) was my first night back in class and it was awesome---when I can forget about how much its costing us (its a private school) and how much extra time its going to take away from other areas of my life....BUT, it feels really good to be back on the right track again and one step closer to being done for good.

I'm loving that Valentine's Day is just around the corner... I know its not even February yet, but I am already looking forward to a new holiday to celebrate and a new 'theme' to go off for cooking, etc. But I really love all the cute pink, red and white displays in the stores and in magazines. Keith and I don't go all out on this holiday, we usually go to dinner and stuff.
I'm loving my husband... he's just awesome, but I have some specific reasons for loving him today.
  1. He is thoughtful. I bought white tulips Sunday for my Grandpa's 85th birthday and they have since died. They really should have lasted much longer, as I took great care of them for their short little life. Well, I came home today and Keith had bought me replacement white tulips. Isn't that sweet? He also bought me my favorite candy, Red Vines. 
  2. He is creative. He's been busy with our home / vacation videos lately uploading them onto his new Mac and editing them in iMovie to make hilarious videos for our friends. Its been really fun to watch him get so into it and even more fun to laugh at all our goofy moments with our best friends. Someday I would love to share them with you all. 
I'm loving that its Wednesday, which means its Hump Day and we're almost to the weekend again!

I hope you have a Wonderful Wednesday! If you're not already a "follower" please join! 
I'd love to follow your blog too and see all the wonderful people that stop by today!

January 17, 2011

Menu Monday

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day!

Today I'm hoping that my little kindergarten students are not only enjoying this day off with their families, but also remembering all the things they learned last week about the powerful message MLK has left with us all; be kind, be loving, be caring, be compassionate. Words I try to live by...

Here is what's on the menu for this week:

{Honey Nut Granola} - Keith and I bought a big 'ol tub of granola from Costco (do you all have a Costco?) last weekend and it is all gone. This week I'm making my own granola, since we apparently love the stuff so much. 

{Mushroom-Hummus Soup} - I saw this in the Jan / Feb Food Network Magazine while I was getting my nails done this weekend. There is almost nothing better than sitting in that big comfy chair with a few new magazines while begin pampered and beautified! This recipe caught my eye because its something I have really never tried before. Should be tasty! 

 {Broiled Banana Splits} - Another Food Network Magazine recipe. Super simple, should be delicious! 

{Spicy Chicken Stew} - A new slow cooker recipe! I love my slow cooker. It is so nice to come home to a meal all ready-to-go with pretty much no clean-up AND there are always leftovers for lunch the next day.

{Peanut Butter Balls} - This has to be the thing I am most excited to make this week. Don't they look wonderful? I'm just hoping they come out looking as good as I think they'll taste! 

{Beer-Braised Beef} - Beef in the slow cooker always turns out tender and moist, just the way it should be. Using the slow cooker is almost like having the night off from cooking. I'm going to serve it on a bed of mashed potatoes. By the way, this recipe calls for 2 tablespoons molasses, won't that be interesting?

That's it for cooking this week! What will you be making? What inspires your cooking?

January 16, 2011

Weekend Wrap-Up

This weekend was pretty great!

On Friday night Keith and I went out to a nice dinner and made a quick stop at Target for some birthday cards, magazines and the Social Network for Keith. My husband is so funny, he loved the movie Social Network but refuses to join Facebook. I, on the other hand, thoroughly enjoy my Facebook and check it regularly.

On Saturday Keith worked at the hospital and I cleaned our apartment all morning and then ran over to Bella Nails for a relaxing manicure and pedicure. I brought two new magazines and was able to flip though both from front to back! I just love doing that. It is such a guilty pleasure and now I have a pretty shade of pink on my fingers and toes. On Saturday night we went over to Keith's sister Kelly's house for dinner with her family and Keith's brother Kevin's family (yep, their names all start with "K", and he has two other sisters Kari and Teri). We hung around and caught up and laughed and it was so much fun! We even watched some old family movies. Keith was even a cutie as a baby.

Today we spent the morning doing more cleaning and cooking before my family came over to celebrate my Grandpa's 85th birthday! Nothing big, we basically threw it all together this morning, but everyone had a nice time. See pictures below:

Birthday balloons! 

The spread, sorry about the foil! 

Caesar salad. 

Spinach-Basil lasagna.

Italian lunch.

Aunt Kathy and my mom Vicky.

I hung that mirror (not very straightly) on Saturday too. It served as a Birthday sign holder today.


Keith and my Dad hanging out, visiting and watching the football game. 

My sister Kathee and I. 
Grandpa loved having our whole family together for his birthday! He joked that he must be growing younger instead of older because the cake only had 2 candles. He's a really funny guy! PS. He is wearing the hat my Mom gave him as part of his gift, he doesn't normally wear those hats out and about. :)

The whole family together! I love my tripod (thanks, Barbara!) because it allows me to get a picture of everyone together rather than having crooked ones from propping it up on books or missing someone who is behind the camera. 

My mom, Aunt Lesley, Aunt Kathy and Grandpa. My Aunt Lesley is rarely ever serious, can you tell?

Keith caught me off guard!
It was so fun to finally host my family in my own home. I have been wanting to do that for so so so many years. 

Now that everything is all cleaned up Keith and I are about to watch the Social Network and relax! 

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

January 14, 2011

Puppy Stew

That title makes you think this is a stew made from puppies, but come on, that would be ridiculous! No really though it's a recipe from Rachael Ray for Beef and Veggie Stew for your dog.

I have a few darling four legged friends that would just be begin' for this in their doggie dish. I'll make it and let you know how it goes!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

A Few Friday Things

Some things going on around here this week / weekend:

We're having my family (aunts, uncle, grandpa, mom, dad, sister...) over for lunch on Sunday to celebrate my Grandfather's 85th birthday! My Grandpa is one of the coolest person I know. He is so fun, positive, active (he swims 45 minutes everyday, outgoing and happy-go-lucky. I honestly believe that is the key to living a long life! 

Ibought a new throw pillow for our couch. The couch was looking pretty drab after the Christmas pillows went back into storage and I finally found one I really like at HomeGoods. Its also fitting with my new "blue" accent color / theme in the living room.

I've been talking about getting a chair for the corner in our living room next to the fireplace for a while and I am thisclose to finally buying one. I've got my eye on this one from Pier 1, but I'll have to see it in person to know for sure. Putting it on the to do list for MLK day.

This picture is a terrible end of the night, end of the week picture of me (in my PJs no less!), but I wanted to show you a "before" picture of my hair, because tomorrow I will be cutting it and coloring it! My hair isn't super long, but its long for me, and with the wedding being over I can now justify cutting it into something short and cute again.The Mr. is still trying to get me to keep it long, sorry babe! 

 On New Year's day we bought this neat table thing for our room and I've finally found pictures to hang above it. I guess iI'm really into blue this month, huh? I like how the prints are opposites, but still manage to satisfy my need for symmetry. I hung them super quick before heading out tonight for a work thing. I think they look pretty straight. I also bought that big vase thing this week at HomeGoods.

Anyway, just a few random things I wanted to share. I hope everyone has a great weekend!!

January 13, 2011

White Bean Turkey Chilli

I have finally caught on to this whole Google Docs thing. One of my favorite blogs (Keeping Up with the Joneses) uses Docs to share printable versions of recipes posted on her blog. I decided that tonight I would give it a try. I think I'm liking it a lot more than just linking up with the internet source, and often I get a recipe from another place (cookbook, magazine, friend, etc.) and there aren't always printable versions available for me to share with you all! 

Well anyway, 'nough talking...

White Bean Turkey Chili



  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
  • 2 (4 ounce) cans canned green chile peppers, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I would only use 1/2 a tsp)
  • ground cayenne pepper to taste
  • ground white pepper to taste (don't have it, so I didn't use it)
  • 3 (15 ounce) cans cannellini beans
  • 5 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Chop up the onion. 

Chop up the garlic. Now add the chopped onion and garlic to the pot to cook for a bit.

 Once the onion and garlic have cooked for a bit and have softened add the ground turkey.

While the turkey browns measure out the 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tbsp oregano and 1 tbsp ground cumin. Keep the cayenne out so you can add as much as you like. It adds a nice kick to the chili. 

 After the turkey has browned you can add the cinnamon, oregano and cumin to the pot. Add a little cayenne now too. 

You will also add the two cans dice green chiles at this time. 

Rinse the two cans cannellini beans. Reserve the third can for a little later in the recipe.  This is also the time to add the chicken broth.

Here is the magic in this recipe; the pureed cannellini  beans! I also like to add a can of these pureed beans to tortilla soup to make it a little heartier.

My immersion blender is just so handy! Stir the pureed beans into the soup and then cover it and let it simmer for 20 minutes. Add the cheese just before serving.

 Yum! This was the second time I've made this chili and although it tasted a little different (the first time I did it all in the slow cooker) it was still very, very good! PS. I added a little cornstarch to thicken it up in the end.