Cocktails from the Garden

I keep hearing praises and hallelujahs about how Fall is right around the corner and I’ve even seen pumpkins and Halloween decor at our local stores, but come on, it’s still hot as I don’t know what when you step outside and the AC is cranked up way too high for all that. Don’t get me wrong, I ADORE Fall but can you seriously imagine putting a pumpkin outside your door right now or a Halloween costume on your body? I can’t. That sounds like rotten pumpkins and lots of sweat. So in the meantime, I’ve got a fabulous way to help you enjoy these pool days that aren’t going away anytime soon and to help you beat this not so desirable heat. If you’re one of those lucky ones who actually lives somewhere where Fall weather is truly around the corner, fear not, these drink recipes I’ll be sharing with you know no season … and I’m a little jealous of you.

A group of ladies and I got together a while back and raided our gardens to come up with some creative and refreshing drink recipes and they’ve agreed to let me share them with you! I’ve tried several of these and they’re not only super fun to make but so darn good (and most of them have adult adaptations if you catch my drift). And no worries if you’re not a gardener or if your garden is half dead like mine, you can find all these ingredients at your local grocer. See below for some deliciously fun cocktail recipes, from lemonade to margaritas!

First up –

Raspberry Cucumber Mint Lemonade – props to Julia @juliaterpstra

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Puree in blender:
12 raspberries
1/2 cucumber
2 sprigs mint
4 Tbsp lime juice

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Fill glass with ice
Add 2 tbsp puree and top off with lemonade
Garnish with fresh raspberries, sliced cucumbers and fresh mint

Adaptations – sub blackberry-cucumber LaCroix for lemonade. Add 1.5 oz vodka for some fun!

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Blueberry Coconut Splash – props to Cindy @princetonparklife

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Ingredients:
3 cups blueberries
3 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup coconut water (or rum)
2 1/2 cups ginger ale
Ice
Garnishment
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Muddle blueberries and strain using a fine mesh strainer
Add lemon juice and coconut water (or rum)
Add ginger ale and stir
Garnish glass, fill with ice, pour in blueberry coconut splash and enjoy!
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Fresh Lavender Lemonade – props to Kate @kateaiellodesign

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Ingredients:
6 or 8 lemons
2 big handfuls of fresh lavender
2-3 sprigs of fresh stevia (or replace with sugar)
Vodka, if you like 🙂
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Place lavender and stevia into pot of approx 3 qts water and bring just to boil
Turn off and allow to cool
Tea mixture can be jarred and kept in fridge for several days
Place ice in a pretty glass
Almost fill with lavender tea
Squeeze in 1 whole lemon per glass, more to taste
Throw in a splash of vodka, if you like 🙂
Garnish with lavender
Enjoy!
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Blackberry Peach Tea – props to Zamira @zamirat79

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Ingredients:
3 ripe peaches
2 cups blackberries
2 cups sugar
1 gallon + 2 cups water
10 unsweetened black tea bags
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Put cut fruit in a pot with sugar and 3 cups water
Simmer for 10 minutes, mash and simmer for 10 more minutes
Let cool and add to blender
Mix and put through sieve and you’re left with a fruity syrup
Make tea to your preference
Either add syrup to entire pitcher or add to each individual glass
Pour over ice and garnish with fruit or mint!
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Orange Dreamsicle Smoothie – props to Terrie @decorateandmorewithtip

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Ingredients:
1 large peeled orange, cut in chunks
1 peeled banana – cut in chunks
1/4 cup almond milk
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 cup of ice
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Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth!
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Infused Ice Cubes – props to Chantal @peace_garden_life

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Add your favorite berries & herbs (like mint)
Sliced cucumbers and limes are perfect too
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Combine in ice cube trays, cover with water and freeze
Add to your favorite summer drink and enjoy!
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Spicy Cucumber Mint Margarita – props to me @myhouseof_love

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Ingredients:
1/4 medium cucumber, chopped
3 mint leaves
Juice of 1 1/2 limes
Splash of OJ
1 shot Cointreau
2 shots Tequila Blanco (it’s strong!)
Few jalapeno slices (w/ or w/o seeds)
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Add cucumber, mint, lime juice, OJ & Cointreau to shaker and shake vigorously
Add tequila and shake again
Use strainer and pour contents into margarita glass filled with ice (rim w/ salt first if desired)
Add jalapenos
Enjoy!
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So how’s that for some heat-beating refreshers inspired from the garden? Hope you enjoy and I’d love to hear from you if you end up making any of these! Also be sure to check out all these lovely ladies on Instagram … they’re sweet as can be and super inspirational. Happy days ahead!!!

Early Morning Target Runs

As of this moment, I’ve spent the last 4 years 3 months and 22 days at home on Mondays and Fridays with my now 4 year old son, and that doesn’t include my maternity leave. He’s only been going to daycare, school, camp – whatever you want to call it when they’re that small – 3 days a week because my work schedule has allowed me to stay home 2 days a week and I have loved every single bit of it. On Wednesday he starts Pre-K – that’s 5 days a week you guys – and to be honest I’m kind of a wreck over it. Am I crazy? I feel like I am. I know he’s not leaving on a jet plane to forever travel the world. He’s not going across country to college or anything like that. I mean he’s not even going to be riding the bus you guys. So yeah, I know I’m probably being a bit crazy, but what’s a girl to do with all these feels?

Mondays have been fun but Fridays have always been my favorite – for the obvious reason that they’re basically a kick-off to the weekend but also because of the way I’ve been able to savor every minute of them with Austin and we’ve been lucky enough to usually never be in much of a rush on those days.

For a long time our Fridays consisted of my husband meeting me in my workplace parking lot at 7:30 am, since that’s when I got off, and us doing the baby switch-a-roo. I’d take Austin to Target but since they didn’t open until 8 am we’d usually have to sit in the parking lot for a few minutes. I’d talk to him for those few minutes even though at that point he didn’t talk back. Man, those were the days. I kid. Kind of. By they way, guys, 8 am is THE time to go to Target … ain’t nobody there. We’d spend at least one eternity in the baby/toddler section, scouring the food aisle so I could buy him the latest and greatest snacks, cups, bottles, whatever caught my eye that day. Then we’d peruse the clearance clothing racks and because he had more than enough baby clothes before he even graced this earth, I’d usually buy about 3 sizes up. I mean if it’s a good price it’s a good price. Then I’d mosey on over to the ladies clothing section since the Lord knew I needed just one more kimono type shirt. Am I the only one who lives in those? Of course the home decor section had to be investigated too. And whatever else we might have needed got shoved into the overfilled cart. He’d spend most of this time, if not the entire time, wide-eyed but quiet. Either he was a good enough baby to give me the peace I needed while shopping or Target just really bored him. Either way, it worked. I’d pick up a spinach, egg white & feta wrap and a venti Pikes Place from Starbucks on our way out and by the time we got home, he was ready for a nap. He wasn’t much of a sleeper so I didn’t have a lot of time to myself, but even so I probably should have taken advantage and taken my own snooze but all my recorded Real Housewives shows were calling my name. I’d usually get an episode in before the giant awoke and play time ensued. Our Target trips and post-Target naps/TV viewing lasted a while. When he got old enough I’d pack snacks for him to eat while at Target, because we all know there’s never a “quick” Target run. Am I right? Those entirely too long Target trips were eventually replaced by park trips when he got old enough (a little better for the child I guess). Then my work schedule changed so there were no more 7:30 am parking lot baby switches going on. I actually had the entire Friday off so our days were even more lively with a good night’s sleep preceding them. It’s still our errand day (aka Target day), but it’s also become a day of breakfast dates, outdoor time, play dates, helping around the house, cooking and baking, and maybe a little TV watching on his end so I can catch a breath and check my Instagram, and Facebook too if I’m lucky. I never claimed to be perfect.

 

Even with my crazy work schedule we’ve had plenty of mommy-son time and the bond that’s formed is quite amazing in my opinion. This whole 5-day a week school thing is for the birds. I kid again. I realize it’s a bit dramatic to be acting the way I am over this, but I’m not kidding when I say there’s a tug at my heartstrings, okay a yank, when I think about it. My Mondays and Fridays are going to be strange for a bit to say the least. My friends claim “oh you’ll have so much free time now to devote to your millions of hobbies, it’ll be great” … but I just can’t quite see it that way yet. Soon hopefully. Maybe I’ll catch up on my sleep, or maybe I’ll catch up on my TV shows that have piled up over the years. Who knows? What I am pretty sure of though is that my “early-morning-Friday Target runs” are going to change to “after-Austin-gets-out-of-school-on-Friday Target runs”. It just wouldn’t be right without him.

Here’s to the approaching school year! Have a wonderful week 🙂

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Artist Feature

Good Monday morning! I hope everyone enjoyed their weekend and had a chance to relax as well as have some fun before the dreaded work week rolled around again. I know, I know – I should be thankful for my dreaded work week and truthfully I really am. There’s just something about Monday mornings, am I right?

We had a pretty busy weekend which involved a Cinco de Mayo lunch with friends, lots of yardwork, picking out design finishes for my mom’s new home build, me co-hosting a baby shower and the boys fishing in the mountains. The weather was perfect and my husband and son even decided to take a swim in our pool – not quite hot enough yet for me though. It went by too fast as always but man did we enjoy it. Hope you all did too 🙂

It’s been a while since I’ve done an artist feature so I’m extra excited to share a lovely lady with you all today. For those of you not familiar with these types of posts, I truly enjoy featuring some of the amazing artists I’ve “met” through Instagram from time to time. Instagram has such a wonderful community of talented makers/creators/crafters (whatever you want to call them) and I have so much fun featuring some of my favorites here on my blog as a way to spread the Instagram artist community love.

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Meet Lynne – owner of Art by Lynne Ann (California)

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Isn’t she too cute?
Lynne’s first real introduction to the arts was during her junior high school years when she took her first sewing class. Get this – she chose to make a floor length coat! I remember my sewing class days well and all I had to show was a very sad teeny tiny pillow. I couldn’t even imagine making a coat, but Lynne did. Although it was a few sizes too large for her, it was totally wearable for someone else 🙂
During the next three years in high school, Lynne took ceramics and drawing classes and this is when her passion for throwing and glazing pottery ignited the artist within. The beautiful pottery photos below are Lynne’s latest collection that she calls “Sandy Bottoms”.

 

About 12 years ago Lynne learned to paint with acrylics by taking private lessons from a friend. Even her friend moving out of the area didn’t stop her from learning more; she then signed up for classes at her local college. How’s that for commitment? She learned acrylics, dabbled in oils, and found her latest passion – watercolors. She especially loves the wet on wet painting technique. Aside from framing her finished pieces, she likes to have them digitally printed on pillow covers, tea towels, totes, leggings (how fun!), and so much more. Her favorite? Creating pieces specifically for her clients.

 

When Lynne’s not working on her beautiful creations, you may find her working in her garden and taking care of the roses. Last summer she built two potters benches and set them side by side so that she now has a place where she can spend hours planting and potting. I think I need these potters benches in my life! She also enjoys attending music concerts, plays, seaside communities, and she loves to travel. She enjoys traveling up North all the way from Orange County to the Canadian Border. She even went to Scotland last year and met up with a few of her cousins. This year she’s traveling to Maui with girlfriends for their birthdays. I’m feeling the need to hide in her suitcase … anyone else?

Lynne and her husband, Douglas, have been married for 17 years! Lynne grew up in Los Angeles County, CA and Douglas grew up in Orange County, CA but they happened to meet on an internet dating site in 1998! They soon found out their fathers worked together at the University of California, Irvine, and they just happened to know each other too. Sounds like it was in the stars for the two of them. I mean, just look at them below – have you seen a cuter couple or a more beautiful picture?

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I think this is what I loved learning about most when Lynne sent me her info – over a year ago she started volunteering as a docent at a private wildlife preserve. She finds it so rewarding, especially when the local elementary school children, as well as the teachers and parents, attend the educational tours. She gets to be around 21 exotic animals – all the way from a Green Iguana to a White Bengal Tiger!
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So how’s that for a well-rounded and super talented gal? Even better, she’s super sweet! And fun fact – if you’re as into all the hashtags floating around the IG community, Lynne helps host #NatureLoveTuesday – one of my absolute favorite hashies (as I like to call them). The related posts are beyond stunning!

You can find Lynne (Art by Lynne Ann) on her website, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. Make sure to follow along so you don’t miss out on any of her beautiful creations! More details on the goods pictured above can be found here as well ~

www.artbylynneann.com

www.instagram.com/lakeandforests

www.facebook.com/artbylynneann

www.pinterest.com/lakeandforests

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And that’s a wrap for today’s feature! I hope you enjoyed “meeting” Lynne as much as I have. Be sure to go say hey and show her some love! I’ll leave you with a quote I found while perusing her website (www.artbylynneann.com) that I just love –

“Life’s a garden, get outside and dig it!”

Happy week ahead 🙂

Chalk Painting My Way to Modern

The words chalk paint and modern do not go hand in hand. Or do they? I didn’t think so until I finished up my latest DIY endeavor. Believe it or not, I had never used chalk paint until a few weeks ago. Say what? I know, I just might be the last person on the face of the planet who’s able to claim this. But it’s true. I’ve painted way more than my fair share of furniture, but I don’t know, I guess I like to torture myself into making the process as painstakingly time-consuming as possible and apparently I heart sanding. Not this time though. It might just be me, but I believe you hit a point in your life where you never (ever) want to pick up a paintbrush again (and definitely not a sander), and that point, my friends, is where I’m at in life – hence the lack of completed projects lately. This project was long overdue though and one evening I decided I just couldn’t stand to look at the plain jane wood any longer.

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I’ve always heard that chalk-type paints are so easy to use mainly because you don’t have to do any prep work. Music to my ears … except I was always under the impression that chalk-type paints left your furniture giving off that aged and distressed vibe, which isn’t always music to my ears. I do love that look but that’s not what I was going for with this project. Our dining room definitely gives off a vintage farmhouse vibe but I have a lot of funky modern elements mixed in as well. You guys know by now that I can’t stick to one design style. I wanted this buffet to give off a loud pop of modern to even out the design elements in the room. After a little bit of research I decided I could probably get the shiny look I wanted with chalk paint. In case you’re not aware, there are tons of chalk-type paints out there on the market. Annie Sloan coined the term “chalk paint” – who knew? So although I refer to the paint I used as chalk paint, technically it’s not because it’s not the Annie Sloan brand. Details, right? One thing all of these chalk-type paints have in common though is that they’re not exactly cheap. But when you take into account the amount of time you save by doing NO prep work, the price seems just fine to me.

My local boutique carries the Rethunk Junk paint line. I was looking for a navy and opted for Denim Blue. I was kinda nervous after the first coat because it was a bit lighter than I was hoping, but I kept at it anyway. I’m still not sure why I waited to take off the hardware until after the first coat was on. Oh wait yes I do, I’m the most impatient DIY-er. I forgot for a minute.

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All I had to do to start was clean the furniture with a lightly damp cloth. That’s it! After I wiped it off and it was dry, I proceeded to apply 2 coats of paint total. I did remove the hardware after the first coat but I recommend removing it before you even start 🙂 As most of you may already know, there are all sorts of chalk-type paint finishing products to choose from. I passed on these and used straight up Polycrylic from good ole’ Home Depot. After the second coat of paint was dry I lightly sanded with steel wool just enough to rough up the surface a little, then I added a layer of Polycrylic. I repeated this step and then called it a day. So far so good. This buffet doesn’t get a whole lot of “use” so to speak. The drawers are opened to get wine glasses out and that’s about it. The wine rack isn’t currently in use because for some reason we can never manage to keep a stash of wine in our house. What can I say? We like wine. Some might recommend a total of 3 coats of Polycrylic if the piece gets a lot of use.  I used gold spray paint to give the hardware an updated look as well.

 

The Polycrylic worked perfectly to give this piece the sheen I was craving. And the gold hardware added the perfect pop of modern.

 

So if you’re one of the few out there who haven’t touched chalk-type paints for whatever reason, I highly recommend it. The ease of use is honestly incredible and now that I know first-hand that my furniture doesn’t have to end up looking aged and distressed if that’s not the look I’m going for, I see many more containers of chalk paint in my future. I may even look forward to picking up a paintbrush again. But probably not a sander … at least not for a while.

 

 

One Room Down

Good Monday morning! The Super Bowl really should be on a Saturday, am I right? Luckily it was a peaceful morning in our house due to the Eagles winning last night. I’m not sure how our morning would have started out otherwise due to my husband, and more recently our four year old son, being die hard Eagles fans. We had to experience the pain of the UGA Bulldogs losing the National Championship so I’m extra thankful for the outcome of last night’s game. Two football heartaches so close to each other would not have been pretty.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how absent I’ve been with this blog and how all over the place I’ve been with my Instagram posts of our house. When we moved in July I was so excited at the thought of having so much content to write about and so many room transformations to share, but it’s been a S.L.O.W. process. I’ve been posting random pictures of the few areas that are completely done in our house … and by few I mean very few. We moved in July and yet there are still boxes stuffed in closets that need to be unpacked. Our garage looks like 3 episodes of Hoarders combined together, at a minimum. With every room we start to do we find unexpected issues … and believe it or not, I just found out that money doesn’t grow on trees around here, and so there’s that. Bummer.

With that being said, I am happy to report that our son’s room is done-zo! I’ve shared snippets here and there and I’ve gotten several questions about where stuff came from, what paint I used, etc, so I wanted to devote a post just to his room and share all the deets. Here’s to one room all the way down!

Here’s the BEFORE:

And here’s the AFTER:

Changing out the paint and flooring made such a huge impact. Goodbye multi-colored walls and dingy carpet and hello Sherwin Williams 6484 Meander Blue and White Oak hardwoods. We had to match existing hardwoods in the main part of the house and while this wasn’t necessarily easy, we did it after numerous visits to multiple flooring stores as well as countless online requests for wood floor samples. I could easily build a piece of furniture out of all the samples I have … except for the fact that I can’t build furniture.

Next up was painting his night stand and bookcase because the green just wasn’t looking right with the new wall color. Enter Sherwin Williams 6169 Sedate Gray.

BEFORE:

AFTER:

After all the painting and flooring was complete it was easy to finish up the rest. I just had to force myself to shop for some cute accessories to fill up the space. Poor me, I know. Luckily we kept most of the items from his old bedroom so I didn’t have to find much for the walls or shelves.

I started with curtains. I fell in love with the Cloud Island Plus Sign curtains (pictured above). The Cloud Island line at Target is very similar to the Pillowfort line and I’m seriously obsessed with both. I changed out the lampshade that came on the Pillowfort Fox lamp (Target) because it was just a bit too much white. I scored a gray velvet shade (above) from World Market and it was marked down due a tiny dent. I’ll take it!

I did finally find all the letters to spell out his name above his bed. I bought all the letters as is, from various stores and antique markets. I ended up having to paint the “I” as I couldn’t find one I really liked. I bought a plain wood one from Target (who has such a cute craft line by the way) and did a white/gray splotchy combo using acrylic paint.

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Below are some of my favorites from his room. Pretty much everything is from Target (gasp!). Exceptions include the following:

prayer on canvas (Etsy – Houseof3) // bear print (Marietta Square Artist Market – so wish I could give the artist credit but I lost the card) // wall decal (Etsy – Durido) // live simply print (Etsy – LatteDesign) // “A” book (Etsy – CustomBooks) // clay polar bear (my husband made it when he was little. how cute is that???) // owl hoop art (Etsy – lulusloft) // mountains are calling print (Etsy – thestudioonrobinlane) // wooden box & clay fox (handmade by my talented brother & niece, respectively!) // fox & squirrel hoop arts (Etsy – bohointheround)

And that’s a wrap! It feels so good to be done with one whole room. I mean it’s so nice to not walk into a room and immediately make my mental list of the 18+ things that still need to be done in said room. Silly problems I know … but it still feels good 🙂

Wishing everyone a great week ahead!

Holiday Home

Praise the Lord! Our house is finally decorated for the holidays! I truly thought it might never happen this year. Decorations have been scattered across our dining room floor since the day before Thanksgiving. Literally. I was so excited to decorate our new home but then quickly realized I had no idea where to put things because our house is SO different from our last house and pretty much nothing fit in the same place. Poor me, I know. I mean I love being creative and all but I just didn’t have the time this year. I need easy right now. Anyone with me? But the decorating is done. For the most part anyway. There’s still a bin of Christmas decor I haven’t even touched but it might just have to stay that way this year. There were a few mishaps along the way including a missing baby Jesus, a missing tree topper, 70% of the lights not working, a nearly-amputated finger from those wire dew drop lights cutting off my circulation, no room for this, no room for that, so on and so on. But in the end I think it all came together just fine … except for the missing tree topper which still has yet to be found.

I’m not sure why I stress myself out over decorating the inside and outside of our home, sending holiday cards, baking Christmas cookies, scheduling a Santa visit, scheduling a time to view Christmas lights, hiding the elf day after day, threatening my child on a regular basis that Santa and Dave (our elf) are watching … oh yeah, and shopping. It seems to leave pretty much no time to simply enjoy the season (which in my opinion is the absolute best season of them all). Or maybe all these things are what make up the enjoyment? Either way, I know I’ll do it all year after year because to me it just doesn’t feel like Christmas otherwise. Maybe I’ll start in September next year and be way ahead of the game.

A few of my favorite things from this holiday season thus far involve my son and his complete innocence: his Christmas list – a cow, a spinning toothbrush, a mint and a lightbulb; his singing along to all the Christmas music I play entirely too often and getting the words completely wrong; his referring to mistletoe as “missing toe”, and of course all the constant questions about Dave (the elf) – why does Dave have a big tag on him? Why does Dave always look in the same direction? Why is Dave not breathing? This elf thing might be short-lived, but be. still. my. heart.

Now on to the point of this post – to share some shots from our home all decked out. Hope you enjoy!

The Exterior –

The Entryway –

The Dining Room –

The Kitchen –

The Den –

I even added some touches to the office and a couple of the bathrooms because, well, why not?

Wishing everyone a happy holiday season! 17 DAYS TO GO!!!

Christmas Traditions & Comfort Food

It’s become a tradition of mine to take the Monday after Thanksgiving off of work for some much-needed “prepping for Christmas” time. With the Christmas music playing too loudly, I open up my 13 bins of Christmas decor and attempt to get the house decorated just as it was the year prior. I then start on some Christmas cards, cook some comfort food for dinner, and finally we go as a family, with hot chocolate in hand, to pick out our Christmas tree. Afterwards we come home, eat said delicious comfort food for dinner and spend the next however many hours decorating the tree, this time with wine in hand and a fire in the fireplace.

Such a perfect day, right? It really is. This year was no different in that I took the day off work, listened to lots of Christmas music, cooked some comfort food, and we went as a family to pick out our Christmas tree and then got it decorated. I also indulged in both hot chocolate and wine. There may have been a few minor glitches along the way … wrong color “white” lights, missing tree topper, too much sugar for the little one … but these are the glitches that make up life, am I right? The Christmas cards are still sitting in the box they came in and the Christmas decorating is no where near complete, although my dining room floor looks quite festive since that’s where your decorations will end up if you ask your 3 year old for help. Still, it was a perfect day.

The comfort food I cook usually involves a good soup and this one is worth sharing. I’ve made it with both homemade meatballs and premade Aidells meatballs before, but the version below with chicken sausage is my favorite to date.

LEMON ORZO SOUP WITH SAUSAGE

 (makes 3 quarts)

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 large carrots, thinly sliced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 64 ounces chicken broth
  • 6 tablespoons lemon juice (freshly squeezed is best!)
  • 3/4 cup orzo pasta
  • 8 large Italian sausage links, cut small (Aidells chicken sausage is my go-to!)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped

 

  • In a large pot, saute onion, carrots & garlic in olive oil over medium-high heat for about 4 minutes or until tender.
  • Stir in chicken broth & lemon juice and bring to a boil, stirring occassionally.
  • Add orzo and reduce heat to medium. Simmer about 9 minutes until pasta is almost tender, stirring occassionally.
  • Stir in sausage and simmer about 7 minutes, stirring occassionally, until sausage is cooked.
  • Stir in parmesan cheese & parsley and add salt/pepper to taste.

It’s even better with a slice of cheese toast. Hopefully I’ll get the Christmas decorations off the floor in the near future so I can share a Holiday Home Tour from our new home with you! Wish me luck and in the meantime, Merry Christmas preppin’ time to you & yours!!!


 

 

Time to Move On

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I never knew a “For Sale” sign could elicit such strong emotions inside of a person. Emotions that involve some smiles and excitement but way more tears, fears and anxiety. We put one of those signs in our yard on a Sunday and by that Friday it was a done deal. I can’t count the number of times I wanted to yank the sign from our yard during those 5 days. Every time I glanced out the window something just didn’t look right. I still sometimes think about yanking it down, although at this point I don’t think it would make a difference.

Before you get the wrong idea, let me promise that I am, indeed, so excited about moving. The house we’re buying is filled with character and quirkiness. It’s a blank canvas for me, which is always a project I love taking on. I’m stoked to make it our own. Parts of it will be a challenge and I think that’s what makes me the most giddy. But in order to say hello to the new house we must first say good-bye to the house we’ve called home for 9 1/2 years, and I’ve never been a big one for good-byes.

For myself, I’m saying good-bye to the house that I bought on my own by working two jobs. The house that I bought because I wanted a project ~ more walls to paint, more rooms to furnish with my bargain finds, more space to do what I love best. The house that I bought because I wanted a yard for my dog and cat, and a garden full of vegetables. The house that scared everyone else away with its foreclosure status. The house that wasn’t anything fancy but felt like a castle to me.

For me & my husband, we’re saying good-bye to the house that witnessed our years of dating. The house that greeted us after we said “I do”. The house we lived in when we brought home 1 new cat and 2 new dogs (not all at the same time if that makes any difference). The house we lived in when we lost our adored black lab of 12 years. The house we lived in when my husband made the decision to climb 365 mountains in 365 days to raise money for cancer research. The house we lived in when we got the news my dad was really sick with cancer. The house we lived in when we found out we were pregnant. The house we lived in when we brought home our now 3 year old son from the hospital. The house we lived in through countless family get-togethers and parties with friends.

For our son, he’s saying good-bye to the only house he’s ever called home, although lucky for him he’s not quite as emotionally bound like the rest of us. Our house is old and we need a new one, according to him.

 

 

It’s bittersweet to say the least. I feel like if these walls could talk they’d never stop. They’ve seen a lot of really good times and they’ve seen some really bad times, as most walls have. They’ve seen cream paint, tan paint, grey paint, all shades of blue paint, and my favorite, teal paint. They’ve seen the story of us for the past 9 1/2 years.

Even beyond all the memories though, what this house holds so much of is pure and simple sweat equity, and the sweat just happens to be from some of the people I love best ~ my husband, my mom, my dad and my super talented brother. Without their sweat (literally), this house wouldn’t be the house it is today. All the way from stripping the wallpaper to painting the walls to scrubbing every inch clean to gutting the kitchen to reconfiguring the bathrooms to landscaping the yard to refinishing the hardwoods (which I do NOT recommend you try at home) … all these changes happened because (A) my brother is a master carpenter and because (B) my family lent their hands, their time and their sweat. They helped me turn the scary foreclosure with red carpet into basically the house of my late twenties’ dreams. I can look around at any room in this house and see the before & after in my head. The bridge connecting the before & after is my family. Pretty meaningful if you ask me.

 

 

So yeah, it’ll be a tough move. But we’re not going far and I’m beyond thankul for the opportunity. And I’m beyond thankful for the memories I have from this home. I’m looking ahead and looking forward to doing it all over again, making new memories and creating a unique space just for us (maybe just not a complete overhaul this time).

In the words of the great Tom Petty ~  it’s time to move on, time to get going. What lies ahead, I have no way of knowing. But under my feet, baby, grass is growing. It’s time to move on, it’s time to get going.

I couldn’t say it any better. ‘Til next time.

The 5th of May

I have such fond memories of Cinco de Mayos from years past. Memories of  when I used to, not too terribly long ago, have major plans for the 5th of May each year. And by major I mean going out with friends for a giant mexican meal made up mainly of jumbo fishbowl  margaritas … you know the ones that four people could comfortably drink out of at once? Yeah, those. And yes, we did, with our very own straws. I have pictures somewhere. Oh to be young again …

More lately my plans for Cinco de Mayo have involved not realizing it’s Cinco de Mayo until the day before, or the day of, and then scrambling to put together some resemblance of a good Mexican meal myself, because who doesn’t love an excuse to eat Mexican food? I know I do. And I’m sharing some of my favorite, tried and true recipes below!


CROCKPOT (YES!) SPICY SHREDDED CHICKEN

(my favorite because, well, crockpot … and because it’s DELICIOUS) (serves 6)

Perfect in tacos, burritos, enchiladas – you name it, I’ve probably done it!

  • 2 pounds chicken breast
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded & chopped *
  • 4 oz green chiles, diced *
  • 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder *
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper *
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • Baste chicken breasts with oil and place in crockpot.
  • Add all remaining ingredients and cook on low for 6 hours OR high for 2-3 hours.
  • Move chicken to a cutting board and let rest about 10 minutes.
  • Shred chicken and return to crockpot.
  • Cook on low for another 20-30 minutes then drain any excess liquid.

* These amounts can be adjusted or the ingredients can be left out all together for a much milder (a.k.a. not nearly as spicy) flavor


ROASTED SHRIMP ENCHILADAS WITH JALAPEĂ‘O CREAM SAUCE

(my husband’s all-time favorite)

http://damndelicious.net/2012/06/15/roasted-shrimp-enchiladas-with-jalape-o-cream-sauce


MEXICAN STREET CORN WITH A KICK

(soooo not healthy, but soooo worth it)

  • 16 oz corn (frozen, canned or fresh)
  • 1/4 cup onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro
  • 1/2 cup Cotija cheese
  • Heat butter in large skillet over medium high heat.
  • Add corn, onion, salt, pepper, chili powder, paprika, cumin & cayenne pepper and cook about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Fold in mayonnaise, lime juice and cilantro and mix well.
  • Garnish with cheese & enjoy.

SPICY BLACK BEAN HUMMUS

  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 + 1/8 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder

Throw everything into a food processor and combine until smooth!


WORLD’S BEST (SPICY) GUACAMOLE

  • 4 avocados
  • 4 tablespoons lime juice
  • 3 roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Mash avocados in a medium bowl, leaving some small chunks.
  • Add lime juice and stir to combine.
  • Add rest of ingredients and mix well.

And there you have ’em, some of my all-time favorite Mexican recipes. Pick up some yellow rice, tortilla chips & salsa, and maybe even some cinnamon churros and you’ll be ready for a Cinco de Mayo celebration of your own. Don’t forget the fishbowls. And the tequila 🙂

Easter Eats

Can you believe Easter is a little less than 2 weeks away?!?!? I am SO behind this year. My house isn’t decorated, I haven’t done all of the Easter Bunny’s “shopping” for him, and we don’t even know what time we’re hosting our get-together or what we’re serving, OR who all is even coming. Pretty bad, huh?

Honestly I don’t even plan to decorate this year – I know, it’s so sad. What’s a holiday in our house without decorations? I don’t even know. But it just doesn’t make much sense since we’re in the process of “uncluttering” so we can snap pics and list our house on the market soon. I do have this little scene on our front porch though and I’m afraid these little guys are going to have to be enough for Easter 2017.

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I also have a super easy recipe for you! Although our Easter menu hasn’t been decided upon yet, these mini frittatas just might make an appearance. I’ve made these time and time again and they have yet to disappoint. And did I mention they’re super easy?

MINI BREAKFAST FRITTATAS (makes 12)

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 INGREDIENTS

  • 6 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded or crumbled cheese*
  • 1 cup cooked spinach (I love using fresh spinach & sauteing in a bit of olive oil)
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped**
  • 4 slices cooked turkey bacon, chopped***

 DIRECTIONS 

  • Preheat oven to 350 F
  • Spray or grease 12-cup muffin pan
  • In a large bowl, whisk eggs until smooth
  • Add milk, salt & cheese and stir together
  • Add cooked spinach, sun-dried tomatoes & cooked bacon and stir together (it’s super helpful to have a cute little assistant do all the mixing)
  • Spoon egg mixture equally into 12 greased muffin cups

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  • Bake for 20-25 minutes
  • Remove from oven and let cool a few minutes before removing from pan

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*I have used several different kinds of cheese when making these. My favorite is probably classic cheddar, but a good crumbled goat cheese or feta never hurt anyone 🙂

**The sun-dried tomatoes are totally optional – in fact, so is the spinach and the bacon! You really can use any add-ins you want, which makes these so fun to make. You could even set up a frittata station at an event you’re hosting and let guests make their own! Other add-ins could include peppers, onions, mushrooms … you get the point 🙂

***I’m a fan of Applegate Farms turkey bacon and these slices are HUGE. If you’re using another brand of turkey bacon (or regular bacon for that matter), you may want to up the slices to 6 or so as these tend to be smaller.

These frittatas would make a great addition to your Easter brunch menu and I can ensure you they will be a hit. Enjoy and have a great week!