Zuppa Toscana... Mmmmmmmm!

>> Sunday, May 31, 2009

{Once again, please excuse the sub-par photography.}

This is seriously so good! To me it tasted just like Olive Garden's. I made a few modifications because I'm cheap...I'll tell you what they are below the recipe.

Recipe: Olive Garden Toscana Soup
CDKitchen http://www.cdkitchen.com/
Category: O - Copy Cat Restaurant Recipes
Serves/Makes: 5
Difficulty Level: 3
Ready In: 30-60 minutes


3/4 cup onions, diced 1/8 inch
1 slice bacon, 1/4-inch diced
1 1/4 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 ounce chicken bouillon (2 Tbs)
1 quart water (2 c.--I added 2 more, see below)2
medium potatoes, cut in half length-wise, then cut in 1/4-inch slices
2 cups cavallo greens (kale can be substituted), cut in half, then sliced into 1/16-inch strips
1 1/2 cup sausage link - spicy, precooked, cut in half length-wise, then cut at an angle into 1/2-inch slices
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream


Place sausage link onto sheet pan and bake in 300 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until done.

Place onions and bacon into 3 to 4 quart saucepan and cook onions over medium heat until the onions are almost clear. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Add chicken bouillon, water and potatoes, bring to a simmer for 15 minutes. Add remaining ingredients then simmer for 5 more minutes and serve.


Okay, so I didn't feel like buying a whole thing of bacon just for one slice. So I didn't.

Also, for some reason there was sausage in the freezer section that was way cheaper than the refrigerated kind...BUT there was no spicy in the freezer kind, so instead I got a pork and bacon kind, and added crushed red pepper flakes that I already had to make it spicy. Also, I just used the whole 1 lb. roll (a little more than it calls for).

I also added an extra potato, which let me add a whole extra 2 cups of water, stretching the soup. Also, I just cooked the sausage in the skillet and then drained the grease, instead of baking it.

Try it, it's DELICIOUS!!!!

By the way, I love that website, that this came from, cdkitchen.com. It's got lots of good recipes, including some yummy copy cat recipes (such as this one). Check it out!


Hooray for Quilt Camp!

>> Thursday, May 28, 2009

One of the blogs I read is The Inspired Room. Each Friday this year she has been focusing on living a beautiful life.

Here are a few things I did last weekend to live a beautiful life:
Learned something new...

Spent some quality time with some of my in-laws...
Was surrounded by the beauty of nature...
Created something beautiful...
And I did all of these things in one place...QUILT CAMP!

My husband's Aunt Christine has an AWESOME quilt shop. It's called Around the Block Quilters Shop. It is mostly an online store, but if you are ever in the St. Louis area you HAVE to go check it out in person! It's located in O'Fallon, Illinois in the basement of her house, and boy is it beautiful. Take a look:She's got tons of beautiful quality fabric, and the long arm quilting machine shown in the first picture in this post. She lets people rent time on her machine, which I would totally take advantage of if I lived near her! There are also some really cute quilt patterns in her shop.

If I were to recommend one thing you could get from her shop it would be a Dew Drop kit. It's a small round (for boys, or shaped like a flower for girls!) quilt that you can put on the floor (or where ever) for the baby to play on. My husband's grandma made one for our baby boy, and we have used it multiple times per day for months! I love it!

Chris was the mastermind behind Quilt Camp, and it was so fun getting to know her and learn from all of her quilting expertise! She picked different quilt patterns for each of us to make, and we all used the same cute fabric line, Objects of Desire. Here's what we started with:

And here are the finished products!

It was such a fun trip! All we did was eat (a lot!), sleep (very little!), and SEW! And we loved every minute of it!

Go check out Around the Block Quilters Shop and Chris's blog Sew and Sew's Mom. She has a couple of FREE quilt patterns that are really cute on the blog. I love this one with cute Charm Bracelet fabric:



One of my favorite blogs, Nesting Place, is hosting a Lampapalooza Party today! So naturally, this post is about lamps!

We have an end table that is nestled between our big couch and the wall, on which sits a very cute little table lamp we bought with wedding gift cards at Target a couple of years ago. Because of where the table is, and the size of the couch, etc., our lamp was really too small for the space. You could only see the shade past the couch from most angles in the room.

Coincidentally, it was after I was reading something about "shopping the house" at Nesting Place, that I had a great idea of how to give the lamp a leg up, so to speak. Here is what I did:

One day I just happened to notice that this basket was shaped so that the rim would sit flat against a surface if I turned it upside down. This idea struck me so suddenly that I literally dumped the contents of the basket out on the floor in the baby's room where I found it and ran into the living room to try it out under my lamp. The basket used to be a really tacky orangy colored wicker, but I did a little sprucing with black satin spray paint. The scale is still a little bit small for the space, but for it's a big improvement and it was FREE!

And now I want to show off my other favorite lamps. I got these little cuties from my sister in law and her husband for my birthday this year! I totally had my eye on them and my awesome husband suggested them to her when she asked for an idea of what to get me. Not only are they cute, but I also love that they are only $10 apiece at Ikea!

This picture also shows off the headboard I made out of a thrift store frame.

Now go check out everyone else's lamps at the Lampaplaooza Party at Nesting Place!


Sweet Rewards

>> Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Thanks Elizabeth for letting me bother you with my BIG time nesting! I will have house pictures for you soon!

First, show off my great kids. And yes for those of you who can count, Elizabeth said I am almost done cooking my sixth baby and there are only four kids pictured. Number three baby, died of SIDS at two weeks old and so is not in this picture. Just so you won't think Elizabeth is doing any false advertising. :)

They clean the house for me. Okay, not really, but they do their part. Want to know the secret? Rewards.

I know I personally will move mountains for a little recognition. Apparentley it works for kids too. At our house we use what we call "the marble jars." They are just little mason jars with each kids initial on them (you could use whatever you had...this is what I had and it keeps it fair between the three big kids).

We review how they did each evening as part of the bedtime ritual and they decide how many marbles they should get that day. They can get one marble for each chore they do and one for good behavior at church on Sunday. They lose marbles for not doing a chore well or quickly (my oldest routinely loses his load the dishwasher marble for playing in the dirty water instead of loading the dishes. Eww!). They "self manage" and decide if they deserve a marble for any given chore. We rarely have to intervene, because they know when they haven't done a good job.

Here is a sample of yesterday's chores:

taking out the trash

The oldest, who is eight, loaded the dishwasher, took out the trash, put his own laundry away, watered the potted plants and picked up everything off the floor in the family room.

cleaning his room

Number two, who is six, emptied the dishwasher, put his laundry away, put the one year old's laundry away and folded all the towels for the kid's bathroom. He also started cleaning his room as an extra chore (to earn another marble) but gave up, so decided he didn't get one for that.

Playing in her half painted room because she already finished chores!

The three year old brought all the dirty laundry from the hampers to the laundry room, put her own laundry away, and fold the towels for Mommy and Daddy's bathroom.

When they fill their jar they get a date with Mommy or Daddy to go do something fun without the other kids. That is a BIG deal at our house.

This system works well for our family. Maybe it will work for yours! Check out the Works for Me Wednesday party at We Are THAT Family. Thanks for stopping by!


My Awesome Sister

Well, I got back from Quilt Camp last night and it was AWESOME! Seriously so fun. I need more time to do it justice in a post, so I'm hoping maybe Friday that will be coming. We'll see when it gets done.

In other news, my sister Caroline is going to start writing occasionally on this blog with me! I think she will write her first post tonight or tomorrow! You are in for a treat! She's got a lot of great ideas. She bought a new house last year, so she's been doing lots of nesting since then. She is also much more experienced in the children department than me, with her sixth baby due in about a month! Thanks for helping me out with this Caroline, you're the BEST!



>> Wednesday, May 20, 2009

So this is my first "Questions & Suggestions" post. Here is the question:

As I mentioned before, I am slowly saving up for a new camera. In a perfect world, I would like to get a fancy SLR and learn how to take great pictures with it. I know they are super pricey though. So, I am wondering, what kind of camera should I get? I'm not ruling out an SLR, but it'll be a LOOOOONG time until I can get one. Is it worth it? How much would I really be looking at spending to get something good? What kind of camera do you have? Do you like it?

Please leave your comments with your thoughts on the topic.

Also, if you have any questions that you would like me to ask of the readers of this blog, just shoot me an email.

Tomorrow I'm leaving for a family quilt camp with some of the girls in my husband's family! I think it'll be pretty fun! I'll be gone until Monday night, so probably no posts until Tuesday! I'll let you know how it goes!


My Famous Salsa

>> Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Okay, so it's only famous among a few of the people I've made it for. But it is OH SO DELICIOUS! And also oh so easy! We made this yesterday to go with some delish cheese enchiladas I made (I'll post that recipe after I make them again... I forgot to take a picture!).

Anyway, I ate about half a bag of chips worth of this salsa today for a snack and figured if I knew how to make something THAT good, I should share the wealth. Here is another one of my not-so-great pictures (I'm slowly saving up for a better camera--it's sloooooooow when you don't have a job):

Salsa Recipe


2 regular sized cans of tomatoes (This is very flexible, you can use diced, whole, or stewed. Any combination.)

1 can Ro-tel tomatoes or similar (tomatoes with green chilies)

1 small can diced green chilies (you can add or substitute jalepeno or other peppers if you prefer spicier)

fresh cilantro (I usually pull the leaves off so I don't have stringy stems in my salsa)

garlic and salt to taste


Put all ingredients in the blender. Yep. That's it. ENJOY!


Trash to Treasure

I love looking at all of the links on Reinvented's Trash to Treasure blog party each Tuesday, and now I get to participate! I also just came across A Picture is Worth a 1,000 Words and her 2nd Time Around Tuesdays, so I'm excited to be part of that too!

And this is a good one. Here's what I started with:


Sorry for the crummy picture. And sorry it's upside-down. And still has the price tag on. (Yes, that's my unfinished dresser behind it! Glad that's done too!)

I bought this oh-so-beautiful piece of artwork at a thrift store for $5. I went for it because it was about the size I wanted and, cheeeeeeap. It was also made of real wood, which other than the size was my main requirement. I could have held out for a lovelier frame, but I wasn't too picky about what it looked like, since I planned on painting it (among other things!).

I'll tell you though, I was almost kind of embarassed standing in the over-crowded checkout line, realizing that some people probably thought I was going to hang that uggo in my house as-is. Yuck. Oh, and I was telling my husband I was working on this post and he told me I should also mention that he thought I was crazy for bringing that dirty old thing home.

Sorry, I didn't think to take any "during" pictures, so I'll just post my after and explain what I did.


So, just ignore the messy bedside...shelves. I know, they're not even tables, but it's a heck of an improvement on the first 2 years of our marriage when all of that stuff was just on the floor by the bed. Except for the lamps. We only just got those in February :) Needless to say, our bedroom is feeling new and improved. (Oh, and that green furry thing is the pillow I like to cuddle with while I sleep. It coordinated with my bedding when I was single. Maybe I should store it under the bed instead of out in plain sight...)

ANYWAY.... TaDa!!! How's that for a treasure? I was getting tired of not having a headboard, and as poor college students we couldn't afford to buy one. So here is my under $20 solution.

Step 1: Remove the ugly picture. And save it for later!

Step 2: Pull off the yucky, dirty cloth matting (?) on the frame. That off-white stuff. Gross. Puffs of dirt and dust literally came off of it as I pulled it off the frame. Sand the frame. I tried to get the major dings out (and they were major), but I didn't worry about it as much as I should have. What can I say, I'm learning to take the Nester's mantra to heart!

Step 3: Paint the frame. I used the same paint that I used on my dresser. I also bought some silver acrylic paint to paint on the fake brassy inside edge of the frame. That helped A LOT.

Since I didn't bother trying to remove the glue that was left from the fabric matte I bought some ribbon to glue on top. I actually used 2 different kinds (due to technical difficulties a.k.a. stupid mistakes) and layered green satin over cream grosgrain. I really was having issues with the ribbon, so don't look too closely. The green isn't actually permanantly affixed. It's actually just on there with photo mounting squares for now. Does anyone know a great idea for gluing down satin ribbon without the glue showing through??

Step 4: Make the pretty fabric inside part! I bought this beautiful fabric from a great store for $2.70 a yard! It was so cheap that I bought enough for this project plus a little extra to use for window treatments or pillows in the future.

I used this tutorial from A Soft Place to Land as a guide on how to do the tufting with the covered buttons. First I measured and poked holes with a hammer and nail where I wanted the buttons to go. Then I hot glued my batting onto the ugly picture. I put the fabric on top and sewed the buttons on through the holes, anchoring them with some cheapo buttons. Then, since I don't yet own a staple gun, I stretched the fabric around the back of the picture and hot glued it to the back.

Step 5: Put your fabric-coverd picture back in the now pretty frame. Hang and admire!


Take 'n Go Activities

>> Thursday, May 14, 2009

I knew when I first had the idea for this blog that I wanted to share a really great segment of a local show, Studio 5, that I saw back in February.

This segment is all about "Take 'n Go Activities," or in other words, activity kits to bring with you while you are out and about (restaurants, doctor's office, church, etc.) to keep your kids entertained. The activities they show are pretty much geared toward preschool-aged children. When I talked about "stashing" ideas for myself on this blog for later, this is what I was thinking of. I'd like to come back to these ideas again when my baby is old enough to appreciate the activities.

The BEST part of this, is that the Studio 5 website also has FREE DOWNLOADS of the file folder games (they're pretty cute...) and tangram patterns. Also there are directions on how to put the kits together and make a few items such as a seek and find, lace up shapes, and magnetic fishing (there's a download for the fish too!). Definitely worth checking out! Enjoy!


Procrastinate much?

>> Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Would you think I was too much of a dork if I told you that one of the reasons I started this blog was so that I could participate in blog parties? Did you even know there is such a thing as a blog party? I didn't until a couple of months ago, when for better or worse, I became a blog junkie. Seriously. Anyway, if you don't know, a blog party is when someone dedicates a post to a specific theme, and lots of people put links to their blog posts about the same theme on the blog party hostess's post. Clear as mud? Good. Sorry, I'm not great at explaining things.

It is no coincidence that I just happened to FINALLY get this blog started this week. I created the actual blog a couple of months ago, and then did nothing with it. Not a single post.

Then about 2 weeks ago while reading through the daily plethora of blog posts on my google reader, I saw that Melissa at The Inspired Room would be hosting a Procrastinator Party.

Um, hello, it's like she's throwing a party in my honor. I really, really wanted to be part of it, because I've had a HUGE project looming over me for the past, oh...3 months. And when I say it was looming over me, I mean it was creating a bit of chaos in my tiny apartment (and driving my husband crazy!). So I really wanted to get my project done, and link it up to the party, but I didn't want to invite everyone and their dog to view my personal family blog. Sorry. So, I'm killing two birds with one stone... Finally getting this blog up in working order (PLEASE, come back and visit!), and....

FINISHING MY DRESSER!!! So, since working on this blog was one of my procrastination projects, I didn't link my before picture up 2 weeks ago. Sorry if that means I'm technically "crashing" the after photo party... I'm pretty sure they won't kick me out for it though, so here's what you really want to see:


Sorry for the not-so-great photo. We bought this dresser off of a local online classifieds website for $30. And it came with a great big mirror to go on top. Pretty sweet deal, huh? I'd been on the lookout for something cheap that I could fix up (I knew I couldn't afford something that was already nice) because until I finished this project we had our clothes overflowing out of a cheapo K-mart 4-drawer dresser. [We also have a dresser in our closet, in case you were wondering how on earth 2 people fit all of their clothes in 4 drawers.]

Anyway, we bought this beauty in mid-February. Yes, it's been that long. For a few weeks it was taking up half of our living room, then moved into our bedroom (and the old dresser with mostly my clothes still in it moved into the baby's room). We had stacks of drawers wrapped in newspaper in our house forEVER.

Okay, clearly I talk to much. Here's what it looks like now!


I just sanded out the big scratches, primed, painted, sealed, and put new hardware on (well my husband did the handles...they didn't quite fit and he was happy to try out is new drill!). And let me tell you, I am LOVING having my clothes back in my room, and not crammed so tightly into those little K-mart drawers. Don't you love it?!

So now go check out everyone else's after photos at the Procrastinator Party! (You might also want to poke around The Inspired Room, it's one of my favorites!)



>> Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Hi! My name is Elizabeth. I am a stay-at-home mom, to the two best boys, ages 3 and 8 months. I am the lucky wife of a handsome medical student whose jokes are as terrible as mine. I am constantly dreaming up new projects to work on, and occasionally I actually finish a few. I love trying to make my home look nice, make meaningful gifts, and feed and care for my family, all on a student budget.

Thanks for visiting my blog, That's {FAM}tastic! If you haven't caught on to the corny title yet, this is a blog where I plan to share fantastic ideas for your home and family... get it?

FAMily + fantastic ideas = That's {FAM}tastic!

Yes. I am aware that it's very cheesy. I love cheese. And I love my blog. Even if the title is a little OTT (over-the-top)!

Anyway, back to the premise of the blog. This blog started because I was always hearing or coming across great ideas for homes and/or families, and thinking, "Oooh, I need to remember that one!" Or, "So-and-so would think that was really cool!" So this is kind of my place to stash away and share ideas that I think are {FAM}tastic! (Are you sick of that word yet? Don't worry, I promise not to use it in every post...). I'll try to post some of my own projects, so hopefully we'll have a good mix of fun stuff to look at.

If you have any {FAM}tastic ideas to share I would love to have other people's ideas! PLEASE email me at thats.famtastic@gmail.com! Seriously, DO IT!

So that's it! I hope that you'll enjoy this blog! I think it'll be great! Tell your friends. Tell them to tell their friends. Thanks for coming!


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