Monday, December 13, 2010

A flurry of activities

Manning saw his first snow this weekend. He was slipping and sliding trying to keep up with it. It was definitely a sight to be seen. He's now prowling outside looking for all his toys buried underneath the snow. Brrr!

On another proud note, Manning had his 2nd kill yesterday morning...a little field mouse. No pictures, but I couldn't be happier. Who needs d-Con with a puppy around!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

It's a Gooey holiday season!

Given all the weddings in the Diva family, I thought it would be fun to put all of our family recipes together in a book. I headed over to Tastebook and got to work. One big perk about this website over others is that the book is spiral bound, which means we can always add more recipes in for those stragglers who didn't make the deadline or new delicious must include recipes that crop up later. I'll post the book after Christmas since it's going to be sitting under the tree for a few of my fabulous family members. In the meantime, I'll give you a tasty recipe tease.

It's been fun getting everyone to send over their favorites. Most are family staples,but a few others were surprises. The Gooey Bars were a long forgotten dessert from my great aunt, Mama Sister, that I recently made to rave reviews. You can't go wrong with cake batter and more butter!

1 box yellow cake mix
3 eggs
1 stick butter, melted
1 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese
½ t vanilla
1 box confectioners sugar, reserve some for garnish

Mix cake mix, 1 egg and butter. Press into a 9 x 13 pan. Mix cream cheese, remaining eggs, vanilla and sugar for 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Pour over cake mixture. Cook 25-30 minutes at 325. When cooled dust with remaining confectioners sugar and cut into bars.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Apple Slab

I've been trying lots of recipes lately, but haven't had too many worth posting until now. A few weeks ago, I made Beantown Baker's Apple Slab. It's advertised as the portable apple pie. Given that it's made in a 9 x 13 Pyrex, you can cut this slab into brownie size portions and top with ice cream or whip cream at will. It's a tasty alternative to your All-American apple pie though I wonder if you could just get by with store bought dough, which would make this dessert a definite repeat. These days I'm all about the best flavor for the least amount of work.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Operation Baby Room: Project 2 & 3

Project 2 was a success. Mr. Diva did a great job painting Baby March Madness' room. Sadly, I did a bad job of taking the before shots. It was the only room in our house I didn't have. You'll have to take my word that English Meadow is far better than the baby blue of yesterday.

Project 3: Accessorizing is already underway. I found just what I was envisioning at this year's Christmas Village. They are the cutest animal prints. Here's a sneak peek at one of them. They need to be framed before the final reveal. I'm also on the prowl for some new fabric to recover the more pictures to come!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Santa 0, Manning 1

I really should start taking pictures of everything brand new, especially dog toys. It doesn't take long for little Man to destroy it. In the case of Santa, it took less than a day to achieve this level of carnage. Poor guy in the red suit never saw it coming!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Sticky Sweet Cupcakes

Mr. Diva and Cousin K love Oreos and really love trying anything new Oreo decides to throw out there. A few weeks ago Cousin K brought over 2 bags of Oreos - 1 bag of Golden Original and the other Golden and Chocolate combo. They quickly tore into the latter, but left the Golden bag untouched. What to do with a bag of cookies?

Cousin K mentioned something about an Oreo cupcake and of course, Google happily tossed out a few recipes. I stumbled upon Beantown Baker and immediately feel in love with loads of her sweet confections. For the time being, I set my sights on the mission at hand. BB has crafted an easy to follow recipe. I split this recipe in half, so I only had 12 cupcakes as opposed to 24...what was I going to do with that many cupcakes! Upon first bite, Mr. Diva and I both thought they were good, but far too sweet for our taste; however, they were a big hit with Cousin K. I sent her home with as many as she would take!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Apple Pie Muffins

I found this tasty recipe for Apple Pie Muffins on It was their featured recipe of the day several weeks ago and the title grabbed me. What's not to like about apples this time of year? It's a pretty straight forward recipe with lots of brown sugar. The topping just sinks in and gives you a few surprising bites of brown sugar every now and again, which is fabulous.

The biggest note on this recipe: Don't fill the cups to the top. 1/2-2/3 full will do the trick and save you the clean up later. In fact, it's a good rule of thumb for most cupcakes & muffins.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Operation Baby Room: Project 1

It was a beautiful Sunday in Nashville, which makes it a great day for a Mr. Diva project. Bad news for him, the hangover from yesterday's UT/UGA game was still pummeling the poor guy though he didn't let it keep him down. First project for Baby March Madness' room, the bookshelf.
I've had this bookshelf forever, but never got around to staining it. Staining is super easy if you've never done it. Just make sure you've got a well ventilated area (or outside) as this stuff is really potent. I chose to let Mr. Diva complete this one as the fumes were just too strong for this Diva mama. We used Minwax's Red Chestnut wood stain and one coat seemed to do the trick.

Next up: Painting

Monday, October 11, 2010

Apple/Pumpkin Butter Squares

One of the Diva mob made these yummy pumpkin squares last year. With a chill in the air, I thought it was a good time to pull this recipe out. Pumpkin butter isn't a normal grocery staple (check William Sonoma or Whole Foods), so I substituted the always delicious, slightly less expensive apple butter. These bars with apple butter were still a big hit. One party dweller said, "These are so good I just want to dance." Granted the kid was 5 and high on Cheetos, but I'll take it.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sundays with Manning

Where have I been? Most likely cleaning up some mess that Manning has created. Whether it's a roll of toilet paper or one of his yard excavation projects, our dog has been putting his puppy energy to use. Here are a few pictures from his latest escapades!

I was cutting up a small watermelon and decided to give Manning some of the rind. He loved it.

The other day I was sitting at my desk attempting to do some work when I hear Manning bounding into the house looking like a dog full of mischief. After a quick picture and a little laughter, I decided I better clean him up. Look what I found when I went into the kitchen!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Deconstructing Manning

Here's the little Man fast asleep early into puppyhood dreaming...
Manning at 6 months no longer dreams of destruction. He takes the bed by the pillow and attacks.

Manning 1, Bed 0.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Beverly Hills Diva

In case you haven't checked your calendars, it's 90210 today. It's been 10 years since the Wednesday night staple left it's regular time slot and TV hasn't really recovered. Thank goodness for Soapnet! Since I can't hit up the Peach Pit for a malt and a burger with Nat, I can think of no better to highlight this day then a few classic clips!

Fame is where you find it, especially at the Peach Pit.

Classic Beverly Hills High drama.

Classic Steve

Poor Noxzema girl never saw it coming.

Can I get a Donna Martin Graduates!

Did I miss your favorite?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Season of hope (part 2)

As I mentioned Monday, I can't wait for the return of my favorite shows and whew the list is long. Thankfully Tivo has my back!


The Big Bang Theory: The Geeks are back for more. Will Sheldon really find love? I hope not. He's too funny to be tied down.

Cougar Town: Hello Jennifer Aniston is up for the series premiere. Who doesn't love a Friends reunion?!?!

Glee: With a Britney themed episode in the can, I can't stop believin'.

How I Met Your Mother: It's make or break time for this show. Keep up the funny...keep up the viewers.

The Mentalist: Will Jane get close to catching Red John?


NCIS: LA: LL & Chris O'Donnell...need I say more!

Parenthood: Always love me some Lauren Graham.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Season of hope (part 1)

The end of summer is a season of hope for me. Hope that my football team won't be nearly as bad as predicted. Hope that the new fall line up will be full of some must see winners and most importantly hope that my returning shows will continue to please.

After last night's Emmy wins for Jim Parsons and Kyra Segdwick, we're off to a decent start...would only be better if NPH had pulled off the 2010 Emmy trifecta, but alas the voters were caught up in the Modern Family whirlwind. Seriously people Barney Stinson is genius!

Since there's a lot to cover, I'm breaking my post up into 2 parts. Up first, what's on my list of new shows to check out (in alphabetically order):

Blue Bloods: Magnum is back on prime time!!! What's not worth checking out for at least 1 episode!

Hawaii 5-0: I'm not completely hopefully for this one, but the locale and Scott Caan make me want to see what this show's all about for at least 5 minutes.

No Ordinary Family: I heart The Incredibles! It's a no brainer that I have to see the Commish in super hero form yet again.
Undercovers: I loved JJ's last spy show or at least I did for the first few seasons. Now that he's not obsessed with Lost, we'll see what he's got in store for capers.

Hope your DVRs are ready for overload. Fall TV is almost here!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Divorcing Diva

Did your heart skip a beat with my latest title? I got a good laugh out of it. So, I guess you could say we're halfway through the summer season. Most shows have already started, except for Mr. Diva's favorite Mad Men, so I feel like it's time to pass some judgment.

On the chopping block:

Burn Notice
I've been trying to stay faithful to Michael Westen and crew, but when I fast forward through a good chunk of the show, I know it's time to move on. Mr. Diva is always pushing me to watch less crime, so here's to purging.
Top Chef
Tommy C I love ya, but last week's challenge with all the former cheftestants was a waste. While I love Big Kenny, I just don't feel the love for the teams or the food. Please pack your knives and leave my DVR.

I heart me some Ari Gold, but we're past the points hugging it out. The show needs a serious shot of adrenaline, but I just can't stay around until that happens.

With three shows gone, it only means one thing...time to find some fillers! Any suggestions? Trust me the Tivo will be running over come September and the new fall line up. I'm a TV junkie after all.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Renovation Diva

Whew! It's amazing I can even find the energy to post today. After 2 weeks of demo, tiling and the like, I'm exhausted, but thankfully have a polished sunroom to show for it! To start we had a sunroom with lime green walls, stained cream carpet and the ever dreadful cat door. Now, we have a freshly tiled room with creamy yellow walls and wide windows open to the backyard. It is the perfect place for enjoying the internet or the weekend WSJ on Saturday morning!

Tile: Home Depot special, Walton 12 x 12 tile
Paint: Benjamin Moore in Yukon Gold
Furniture: Kona Outdoor Living Collection from World Market
Pillows: Purchased from JC Penney last season

Next up: The kitchen, but don't be looking for pictures anytime soon. I'm going to enjoy my clean house for awhile!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Demolition Diva: Part 3

Just a quick update from the tile front: The tile has been laid by the ever slow handyman and I've tackled the grout as you can see in the picture. Like any good producer knows, DON'T give away the final reveal, so you'll just have to make do with this yet to be fully cleaned tile shot. The more I get into this project, the more I'm certain this will be my last DIY tile project. I mean the mess it creates it's just too much for this OCD Diva! Thankfully, I'll have some toned arms to show for it.

Diva Devotees

Tired of constantly hitting refresh to see if I've updated the blog? I know a few of you are, so this post is dedicated to you. It's pretty easy to have the updates sent straight to your email or Google reader. To follow via email, scroll down on the right until you see the Follow button, then click. It will direct you through the pain free process. You can also follow via Google Reader or the like. If you aren't already a reader subscriber, it's really easy. Just add your favorite blogs, websites, etc. Then click on the reader whenever you're ready to catch up with me, Manning and the rest of the gang. Google does the rest.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Manning's First Kill

As I sit typing a frivolous email, I hear Manning running at a fast speed through our house. I think "That's pretty fast," but all thoughts go the wayside when I see there's something in his mouth. My fears immediately go "Is it a dead bird? Oh I really hope it's just a large piece of mulch." As soon as he placed it at my feet, the horror flick inducing screams begin! My little puppy has brought me a present...a dead chipmunk. Not sure what I would've done if it scurried around our house! One quick call to Mr. Diva and 10 minutes later, Manning's first kill was cleared. Dead rodents are not in my job description!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Summer DVR-ing

My DVR might not be working as hard as it would be during the regular season, but it's still jamming out on a few seasons. While I'm waiting on the experts to help me with my tile project, I thought now would be a great time to put a plug in for some of my summer favorites.

1. The Closer: I love Kyra Sedgwick in this role. As Mr. Diva loves to point, I have a bit of a problem when it comes to criminal-type dramas. What can I say, I'm a sucker for a good whodunit!

2. Leverage: Action, double crosses and spy-like technology...what's not to like!

3. White Collar: I heart a Tiffani Amber Thiessen sighting!

4. Psych: This show's obsession with all things 80's makes for some fun cameos.

5. Top Chef: My reality pick for the summer because I love me some Tommy C and of course DC!

Make or Break
1. Burn Notice: I like this cast, but I'm getting tired of the formula. I'm hoping we spend more time on Micheal's past than helping out all the clients; otherwise, this show's getting a burn notice from me.

2. Entourage: As long as we have lots of Ari and Drama, this season should stay on the DVR. Anything else might have this series on the chopping block!

Already Dead
1. Hot in Cleveland: White hot Betty is a cast member, so I gave it a try; however, the jokes and the rest of the cast just make you wish you were really watching the Golden Girls.

Best to Watch Live:
And for the next week, I'll be one of the few people not watching the World Cup. I'll be on the the Duece or the U watching my favorite tournament of the year, Wimbledon!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Demolition Diva Part 2

This installment of Non-Stop Diva is picture free as some of the images were just to scary to share.

As I mentioned earlier, I took a tile class at Home Depot a few months ago. I went in thinking I can handle tile, but I left scared enough to just hire a professional. Oh how time plays tricks with the mind! I was most uncertain about installing a sub-floor. Before the class, silly me thought I could just rip up some carpet and throw some tile down. Oh how I wish that were true!

Well as you saw, the carpet is up and I have no choice but to move on. Last night, I laid out the backer board and cut the outer pieces to size. It was a pain in the ass, but nothing compared to what lay ahead for me today...duh duh dummmmm...mortar, nails and concrete. As the mortar first went down, I really started to hate this project. I was seriously on the verge of calling in re-enforcements, but I pushed on. The boards are down and seaming tape in place; however, I still need to secure the boards to the concrete below with screws or nails. Neither of which wants to go down without a big fight. Since it seems like a power nailer or hammer is a necessity, I've thrown in the tile on Tiling Stage 2 and called in the professionals. They're coming in Tuesday to secure the boards and lay the tile (hey if they're coming all this way...why not!) Then, I'll swoop in for grout and sealing. The clean freak in me is SO ready for this project to be done.

Blueberries for Diva

I grew up on loving the Robert McCloskey novels Make Way for Duckling and Blueberries for Sal. Make way for Ducklings made my first trip to Boston Public Garden ever so magical. Blueberries for Sal just makes me want to go out in the field and pick some delicious berries. Since early summer is full of delicious berries, I thought it only fitting to try out a recipe for Overnight Blueberry French Toast from The Best Casserole Cookbook Ever (a fabulous early bday gift).

Blueberry Maple French Toast with Blueberry Sauce
For French Toast:
1 large loaf French bread, crust removed
1 package 8-oz cream cheese
1 c fresh blueberries
10 large eggs, beaten
2 c milk
½ c maple syrup

For Blueberry Sauce:
1 c sugar
1 c water
1 1/2 T cornstarch
1 T butter
1 c blueberries
Cut the bread into 1 inch cubes and spread ½ in a 9 x 13 baking dish. Cut the cream cheese into cubes and scatter over the bread. Scatter the blueberries evenly on the top and cover with remaining bread cubes.
Mix the eggs, milk and maple syrup in a large bowl. Pour over bread mixture. Press bread to ensure that it is all covered by egg mixture. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Remove casserole from fridge 30 minutes before baking. Preheat oven to 350. Bake the dish covered for 30 minutes and uncovered 30 minutes longer.
While the French toast bakes, make the blueberry sauce. Combine the sugar, water, cornstarch and butter in a medium saucepan. Place over medium heat and boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in the blueberries and reduce heat to a simmer for 8-10 minutes until blueberries burst. Slice the French toast and serve warm with the sauce.

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to have a fellow foodie visiting from DC to help taste test this recipe. I love these make ahead breakfast dishes, especially when you have visitors in town. You do most of the work on Friday and then wake up Saturday with an almost ready delicious treat. This recipe did not disappoint. It's fully of delicious blueberry goodness! We loved it so much that we ate it again on Sunday. For the final version above, I've cut the cornstarch as the original amount didn't fully dissolve in the sauce AND the egg amount because Mr. Diva found it a little soggy. I'm thinking this dish could and should be tried with other berries, perhaps a strawberry version is in the Diva's future. Mmm nothing like Berries and Cream!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Demolition Diva

It's already one crazy week at Casa Diva, so why not add a big renovation project to the mix! I've been wanting to get pull up the nasty cream carpet in our sunroom from the moment we set foot in this house. Well now that Manning has his little dog door with full on dirty doggie paws that project is a must.

Long before the dog was on the scene, I hit up a tile class at Home Depot. It's a freebie and SO informative. I spent 2 hours learning from one of the best instructors out there. If you're in Nashville, be on the look out for Paul at the Thompson Lane store.

I'm hoping that if I take it a little bit day by day, my latest endeavor won't be that bad. So today was D-Day. I pulled up the carpet, padding and nasty tack strip. All in all, it was probably an hour of not too bad work with the tack strip being the worst of it all.

So for now, we're left with an empty floor ready for some self leveling mortar and Hardie backer board. Ohhh so glam! I promise some great before and after shots next week. Remember this room use to be a nasty lime green!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Cream Cheese Catalyst

The 3rd Saturday in October is a sacred time in college football. It's the meeting of a 2 SEC rivals, Alabama vs Tennessee. In my family that means a weekend with our favorite Bama fans, where the winner buys dinner and loser buys cigars a la Bear Bryant. When it's our turn to visit Tuscaloosa, there is usually a stop by The Cypress Inn for a post game dinner of the champions. Once you've ordered your Jack and Coke, they'll bring out these delicious mini muffins that you can't stop popping. So of course, I had to try my hand at them.

As you'll see, the recipe is quite large. Since 5 cups of flour sounded like more than my mixer wanted to handle today, I halved the recipe and seriously what was I going to do with that many muffins! Also, I substituted apple sauce for the veggie oil and added in 1/4 c craisins because who doesn't love 'em! I also opted to make these as regular muffins instead of minis. Well 12 muffins later and still a lot of batter to go, these guys are a great way to start your morning...even better when you add some cream cheese. As I've mentioned before, cream cheese truly makes everything better! If you go with the regular size, just remember to cook them about 5 minutes longer than the recipe suggest.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Cat Door No More!

After a near run in with the big mean black vacuum, Manning quickly figured out how to jump through our preexisting cat door, which provided hours worth of laughter for Mr. Diva and myself. Since this dog is clearly going to be bigger than a small cat, we decided to go ahead and purchase a doggie door. I've long wanted to get rid of the cat accessory, so this project was big on my to do list.

Mr. Diva went right to work with the drill and hacksaw.

After about an hour of elbow grease, Manning was ready for his new door....
Next up: Tiling the sunroom. Who puts cream carpet near an animal door? Seriously, I could write a book of don'ts for the previous owners of our house.
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