Monday, April 30, 2012

April Insta-love


Totally loving the {new} Instagram app for Android.  I'm finding that I capture way more photos of our everyday lives this way.  Looking forward to a monthly wrap up of my favorites each month!

Can you believe tomorrow is MAY!?!?
Hello Birthday Month!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

herb gardens

get herb markers like these in our shop
There's nothing quite like the taste of fresh herbs.  Last winter, while living in a small apartment, we used our AeroGarden to grow an assortment of herbs {thanks to a Christmas gift from Dan's parents}.  It was so great to be able to grow something, not only in the winter, but in a 2nd story apartment with little sunlight.  We loved being able snip a few sprigs of mint to spice up our tea, or some basil leaves to make our own homemade tomato sauce.

This year, we took longer than expected to get it out of storage, and by the time we were ready to plant {and had bought} seeds it was nearly gardening season.  We decided to put it back in storage until next winter, until I realized how anxious I am to have those fresh herbs again.



So far, I've planted herbs in our garden, and started a few pots in the kitchen, but I decided to go ahead and start some in the AeroGarden since they grow so much faster!  {I am kind of lacking in the area of patience!}


I'm also eager to try my hand at drying and freezing herbs this summer/fall.  I can't believe how expensive herbs and spices are at the store, some day I'd love to have a spice cabinet full of my OWN homegrown herbs!  Someday!



Tuesday, April 24, 2012

new favorite.


Check out these reusable freezer pops! Best part -  you decide what to put in them!  Brilliant!

I first saw these in post on this blog, but after last weeks post about school lunches, I knew I needed to get some for myself.  Even though the post was geared towards packing a lunch for your child, I was inspired to add some variety and energy to my daily lunch.

Packing a lunch can not only save you money, but help you make more healthy choices when you have the least amount of time and energy to focus on food.  Dan and I have always packed our lunches - mostly because we're cheap - but my problem is that I often get "stuck in a rut" eating the same ol' thing every day for a week.  And, if for some reason I don't cook dinner the night before, there aren't any left overs to spice it up.
blue/raspberry smoothie w/ almond milk
I mixed up a simple smoothie and loaded these bad boys up this evening.  I love the colors and am really looking forward to the change in my lunches.

I'm also excited about all the things I want to try freezing in them this summer!  Frozen daiquiri pop anyone?

Monday, April 23, 2012

what's for dinner?


After a long day at work, nothing feels better than comfort food.  The weather has been cooler these past few days and it's put me in the mood for a good hearty soup.  We made a whole chicken last weekend, and had just a few left overs to finish up so I decided that a little Chicken Noodles was just what we needed to warm us up.  Served with our scrumptious cornbread muffins with real butter on the side, this easy, throw-it-together recipe was perfect!

Easy Chicken Noodles 
  • Chicken {I used left over whole chicken, you could use a few chicken breasts, or even a can of cooked chicken}
  • 6 cups water/broth {I used bullion because we were out of broth, though I definitely prefer homemade broth}
  • 2 carrots - diced
  • 2 celery stalks - diced
  • 1/4 onion - diced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • oregano, parsley, & garlic powder to taste {I rarely measure, just go with my gut and add more after a taste if it needs it}
  • 1 lb egg noodles {sometimes I make homemade ones from my grandmother's recipe, but this time I used some we picked at Schmuckers this weekend}
  1. Fill a large stock pot with water.  Add meat, veggies, and seasonings and bring to a boil.
  2. Once veggies are soft, about 20 minutes, add egg noodles and cook as directed. 
  3. Soup is ready to eat when it is the desired consistency {cook longer for thicker soup, or add a bit of flour dissolved in water to thicken}
Enjoy!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Rock the Shot April Challenge


This month's photo challenge at Rock the Shot {www.rocktheshotforum.com} is "water".  I knew right away what photo I'd be submitting.  I've been in love with these photos of Brooke from last fall.  I had so much fun photographing her, she has such a great personality and is willing to do just about anything.  Because of that, we got some really fun shots, like this one of her playing in the splash pad at Memorial Park.  I love how it captures her carefree, spontaneous, fun-loving personality all in one shot!

Interested in seeing more "water" challenge submissions?  Head on over to Rock the Shot and check 'em out!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

40 breads // cornbread muffins




the bread no.6 : cornbread muffins


our changes : none

our thoughts : After seeing these in her child's lunch box, I had to find the recipe Lisa Leake of 100daysofrealfood.com used.  This super easy recipe, with a weirdly good mix of ingredients, whipped these up in less than an hour.  They're whole wheat with all natural ingredients making eating them a guilt-free experience!

the verdict :  Delicious treat.  These 100% real food muffins are different than any cornbread we've ever had.  They make a great pick-me-up snack any time of day.  Add a little honey, and they're a sweet treat, a little fresh butter {thanks to Schmuckers!} and they're just right with any meal.

Friday, April 20, 2012

trees and transformations


We love trees.  When we first looked at this house nearly a year ago, the trees were a definite selling point.  We loved the location, not too far from the city, but with all the trees around it makes it feel more like the country.

We knew moving in, that a number of the trees surrounding the house would need to go - especially those too close for comfort.

two cedars growing out from under the house

maple and walnut a little close, but also leaning slightly

dead pine tree being held up by some small dying tree

We also have a lot of Ash trees on our property and like most Ash trees in this area they are all infected with Emerald Ash Borer - check out this map of Indiana's effected areas, we're right in the middle of it!

Thankfully, last weekend while my cousin Matt was here, he was able to remove most of our problem trees in just a few hours.


And after a week of clean up, we have a nice big wood pile to show for it!  Dan's been pretty stoked about owning a chainsaw and finally being able to use it!  {Christmas present from my parents!}


Unfortunately, there was one tree in particular that Matt was not able to safely remove due to it's location. 

It's hard to see in the photo, but not only is the tree right next to the garage, but there are power lines to the right and back of it as well as the house being located just out of the picture on the left.  You can see how it's leaf-less - it's an Ash with the borer - basically a dead tree just waiting for a big ol' gust of wind to blow it down.

My brilliant husband decided to inquire with the electrical company about getting it removed.  Two days later they had a woman out here to check it out.  She said that we are super lucky because in the past there hasn't been money to take care of these kinds of hazardous trees but recently there's been an allocation specific to our area for the removal of Ash trees infected with the borer!! {remember this map?! they're everywhere!}  


Soooo...bye bye trees, for FREE!!!  What a great surprise - who knows how much this could have cost us!  They'll be back within the next two months to cut 'em down, and to save costs, we offered to chop them up and take care of removal ourselves.  

We're feeling good about finally getting these trees taken care of and are loving how it makes the house and yard look.  There are still quite a few branches and limbs to be taken care of, along with loads of firewood {which will hopefully head home with my parents this weekend}.  We hope to rent a wood chipper soon to make some mulch/compost for the garden as well as host a few bonfires with friends.  

Check out some of our before/after photos at the bottom of our house tour.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

happiness is

waking up with the sun.
a homemade croissant for breakfast.
cup of tea with my husband.
fresh picked flowers on the table.
dishes and laundry done.
73 degrees and sunny.
a long walk with the pup.
reading a good book.
making something new.
baking.
playing in my garden.
making your own schedule.
grilling out for dinner.
not having to do anything, but having time to do anything.


Today was a happy day!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

growing garden.


I love, love, love having a garden!  It was so wonderful to come home this evening and spend some time outside tending to it.  Not to mention get a little much needed Vitamin D.  We have wonderful spinach, lettuce and other greens popping up.  And the beautiful flowers budding on our strawberries just makes my heart sing!  I can't imagine why anyone with the space to do it wouldn't want a garden.  I can't imagine never having a garden!  Nothing tastes better than home grown fruits and vegetables, especially when you're the one home growing them!

Looking forward to the next few months of tending out our growing garden.  Especially looking forward to those deliciously sweet berries my father-in-law helped us plant last spring!

What's growing in your garden?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

40 breads // croissants







the bread no.5 croissants


our changes : none

our thoughts : You need lots of time and patience to make these!  I started the dough on Friday night and finally cooked the rolls on Sunday evening.  The process is not particularly difficult, there's just a lot of waiting and small steps in between.   Dan mentioned that I'd made these before {though I can't remember} and he doesn't remember it taking nearly as long, but it the recipe I used then also required a number of steps.  I don't think I'll be making these again any time soon.

the verdict :  Very good, but not sweet like you might expect, or like I might expect {I love sweet!}.  They are also a little crunchier on the bottom than I would like {I prefer my croissants ooey & gooey}.  They're great with a little pumpkin butter for breakfast.  We've been making lots of sandwiches with left over crockpot chicken from Sunday and I just had one for dinner with a little avocado on it!  yummy!

Monday, April 16, 2012

lately.









We've been trying to keep busy lately, but it feels like we're moving in slow motion after all that we got done last week.  There isn't much going on inside the house {just a few touch ups in the bathroom}, but a lot has changed outside.

The week ended with another blast of winter air, which caused some major frost Thursday night.  We made sure to cover everything in our garden with our cold frames and some left over plastic.  Thankfully nothing was harmed, and hopefully this will be the end of the frost  {fingers crossed}.

Saturday brought warmer but wet weather.   I spent much of the morning in the kitchen, oh how I love cooking and baking!  Decided to make a trip to Lowe's to check out the plant selection, a girl can dream!!  I caught up on some of the house work and finally finished caulking our bathroom just in time for Dan to get home from work.  The rain didn't keep us from heading out to the garden to plant some peas, carrots, radishes, strawberries, and a whole slew of herbs!

Sunday was the biggest day of the weekend.  When we moved in we knew there were a number of trees we wanted to get rid of, either because they were too close to the house, too close to another tree and not getting enough light/water, or because like most Ash trees in Indiana they were diseased.  It took my cousin Matt all of a few hours to chop down a total of 10 trees, which left our yard looking like a war zone.

While the boys took worked on the trees, I headed off to St. Francis University for their 4th Annual Formula For Life 5k.  Dan and I ran in this last year, this year my friend Heather and I walked.  It was a beautiful day with lots of sunshine, great to be outside.  I hope to participate in a few more fundraising 5k's this year as well as the Fort for Fit 10K or 1/2 marathon this fall.

After such a busy weekend, it was nice to relax last night with our easy crockpot meal and a little "How I Met Your Mother".

I love weekends, especially ones that we get to spend together!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

additions.

In case you haven't noticed, we've added a few tabs to our blog {across the top of the page}.  Go ahead, take a look.

We added these to help navigate and browse our blog.  If you're interested in a specific topic you can also see the categories along the right side bar.  ------------>

My favorite addition is the addition of a house tour.  We've moved in nearly a year ago and wanted a way to show the before, in progress, and after shots.  Because we're list people, we've also listed under each area the items we hope to accomplish in those areas.  Once we complete those tasks, we'll be linking back to it from the house tour.  So if you're interested in our progress in a particular room, head on over and check it out.

We hope to update the page regularly adding up-to-date photos of where we are in each area.

Also, check out our etsy shop - new listings coming soon!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

a little roadblock


Last week, I was reminded that while optimism is good, patience is much more important when working on a house.

I was very eager to get started on our master bedroom over spring break.  Dan worked really hard to change out all the old drafty windows, so the next step was getting the room painted.  I decided to use our recently made headboard  for inspiration and found two great shades of blue for the room.

Remember how the room was a lovely crimson color when we moved in?  Well if you look closely, you'll  notice that they painted the ceiling as well!  During our first few days in the house, my mom and sister-in-law helped me prime the entire room with "high hiding primer."  This process not only helped to lighten up the room over the past 10 months, but it also saved me an extra coat of two of paint this time around.  {definitely recommend a high-hiding primer for covering unwanted dark walls - covers well and is definitely a time saver}

After I figured out my wall or ceiling dilema, I started painting the walls.  I fell in love instantly with the light blue color, which takes on a gray tone in the sunlight.

this picture doesn't do it justice!

again, not the best picture of the colors!
When I was finished with the first wall, Dan suggested that I pull off the baseboards in order to paint behind - creating a more crisp look.  We are planning to refinish the floor eventually so the baseboards would have had to come up eventually.

This is where we ran into a little hiccup.  As I was tearing off the trim and baseboards around the room, I came across some significant water damage near the master bathroom {can you call a toilet stall a bathroom?}.


 went ahead and finished my first coat of paint around the room, but my curiosity got the best of me and I put the brush down and grabbed the prybar.

That's when I took it upon myself to remove the sink and vinyl flooring only to found this...



What a mess!

I decided that I should put the painting on hold and clean up this mess - pretty sure all that mold isn't exactly healthy!  It didn't take much to clean up as the drywall was so damaged it practically fell off the wall. You'll notice that the floor looks a little wet in the picture above - not sure if I did that while removing the sink or if it was wet because of a deeper leak.  I decided to put a fan on it to try and dry it out for a day to see if those wet spots would go away.


Thankfully there is no current leak, and all the wet spots have dried up.  But what a mess!?

Our plan was to finish the bedroom walls and floors then move our belongings upstairs.  We've been dreaming about turning this bathroom into a full bath by adding a corner shower stall like this.   But figured that'd be down the road once we got a few other items taken care of downstairs.  However, now that the sink and vinyl are out we've decided to move the bathroom up on the to-do list and start working on transforming it this spring!

So, I may not have gotten done all I had hoped in the master bedroom, but I did find a way to move the whole project up on the list! And why not?  Why not make one big mess and get it all taken care of before we move up there?!  It's just going to take a little more patience!


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

wiped out.

Seriously crashed when I got home from work at 6.  Woke up as husband got home at 9:30, just in time to head to bed.

This week back is really catching up with me.  I could use another vacation! {only 8 more weeks}

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

DIY homemade vanilla.


This winter I spent way too many hours browsing Pinterest.  {Too many hours!}  But, when I found this recipe for homemade vanilla extract, I knew I had to give it a try.

So, I bought a pound of Madagascar vanilla beans, 24 cute little medicine jars, and a giant bottle of vodka and gave it a try.  {The vodka functions as a preservative for the vanilla beans, so no other ingredients were necessary - all natural, just the way we like!}

First, I cut open the vanilla beans to expose the tiny seeds inside, then put 1 1/2 whole beans into each jar before topping it off with vodka.



Give it a little shake and watch as the vodka changes color as it mixes with the vanilla beans.


Let sit and allow the vanilla beans to steep in the vodka for 6-8 weeks, the vodka will continue to darken as it takes on the vanilla flavor.

When it's finished, you have a fantastic bottle of delicious homemade vanilla extract to use in place of that eh imitation crap.  


I was able to use my first batch for mom's birthday cupcakes a few weeks ago and it was delicious!  

Because I bought all the items in bulk, I've ended up with an abundance of homemade vanilla extract!  If you're interested in your very own bottle, head over to my etsy shop and grab yourself one!

Or check out some other great tutorials online and try it for yourself!



Monday, April 9, 2012

blog love

Last week I had more than enough time to finally catch up on some of my blog reading.  I follow a number of blogs, but rarely have enough time to really keep up with them, so now I'm caught up.  There are so many wonderful blogs out there, with so many awesome and creative ideas.  I could spend hours just wondering around cyberspace taking in all the awsomeness.  But, there is work to be done.  I thought I'd share a few of my favorites.

1. Young House Love
visit here
We stumbled upon this site while searching for backsplash ideas for our kitchen.  It's obvious to see why we stuck around.  John & Sherry's blog is full of great DIY tips and tricks, as well as great interior design inspiration.  They are real, they share the good, bad, and ugly of remodeling a home DIY style...just what we need for that extra boost when we're feeling overwhelmed!

2. Design Sponge
visit here
Not sure when I found this blog, but I've been hooked ever since with their fantastic before and after posts as well as their easy to understand DIY projects.  It's a great place to go for inspiration, not just for the home, but for party planning and entertaining.  Though Grace Bonney is the master mind behind this great site, she has a team of wonderfully talented women behind her making this a mashing of great minds.  I love all the perspective and variety, from real people on real projects.

3. Elise Blaha :: enJOY it
visit here
While searching for a new quilt pattern, I landed on Elise's amazing blog.  She's great, lots of fun and entertaining stories about every day life.  I read her blog everyday!  She's an artist, crafter, baker, runner, diy-er, and her last name happens to be Cripe!   What I love the most about her blog is how real she is.  She also has a great etsy shop here.

4. House Bella
visit here
Another great DIY/design blog.  Sara and Mike have been fixing up their home for the past two years sharing the journey along the way.  They have great inspiration boards as well as DIY projects.  I only recently found their blog, but I look forward to perusing for future ideas.

5. {aka} design
visit here
Yet another DIY design blog I stumbled upon lately...can you tell I'm in the decorating mode?  This couple shares all kinds of great tips and tricks for design on a budget.  Dean and Shannon have a wealth of information on their blog from DIY projects, furniture updates, inspiration boards and a few great recipes thrown in.  Lots to be learned from this awesome couple.

6. Sew Dysfunctional
visit here
Heidi is married to a great college friend of ours.   Isn't she cute...and her blog is so fun.  I love her style.  She's full of cheap and easy DIY projects as well as great vegetarian recipes.  I enjoy keeping up with her and our buddy Dave through her blog.

7. Henry Homestead
visit here
When she's not chasing her three little ones around or moving across the country, our friend Rachel is full of interior design and decorating ideas.  She has a great design eye, and is full of advice for those of us who may be stuck in a rut.  I love watching her little ones grow up and especially love the easy updates she's been able to do in rental spaces {with the approval and support of their landlords}.  They're currently expecting number 4 and moving yet again, so her posts are few and far between, but that doesn't mean her archives aren't full of great ideas!

8. 100 Days of Real Food
visit here

Last fall we started to make some major changes to our eating habits.  In doing so, I did quite a lot of research in order to find recipes and resources to support our changes.  When I found Lisa's blog I was thrilled to see that one woman had inspired so many to make the same changes.  I have been following her blog ever since, using it as a resource for recipes when I'm stuck on a certain ingredient {kale!? what the heck do you do with kale? ask Lisa!} or just to learn more about ways to cut out processed food in our day to day lives.  Her site is chocked full of ideas, tips, and connects you to a world of resources to support a real food diet.