Thursday, May 31, 2012

April & May Goals Recap

Roses in our backyard

I decided to extend my April goals into May because they were things that I still wanted to be working on!  So here's a recap of my goals and some pictures of life the past couple months in an effort to keep #2:

Strawberry picking in April

1. Enjoy the process:  this was the biggest goal I had for April & May, mostly because we bought a house!  I have really wanted to enjoy all of it - wrapping up the details before closing, packing up, moving, unpacking, and settling in.  It has definitely been a HUGE job, but I think I have enjoyed it for the most part!  We've officially owned our house for a month, but it feels like so much longer because every day has been SO busy.  This week has been the first week that we've been able to come home from work and just be.  We've been grilling out and eating outside and it has been so wonderful.

2. Take more pictures along the way:  I have been doing this, but I think I could do better...  I've been trying to do more weekend recaps (hereherehere, & here), even if we don't do anything super notable.  I want to remember the little things along the way; I started blogging so I could keep a fun record of our life so I need to make sure I stay on top of this!  I also took a picture of every room in our house before we moved in, so that I'll have pictures of each step along the way as we paint and decorate :)

Visiting Baby Mason in the hospital!  He was born April 13

3. Make time for more fun projects:  this has definitely been the most challenging to accomplish.  For so many weeks the goal was to unpack things so we could actually move around in our house, so fun projects got pushed to the side.  I have done some cooking for fun though - which is much more enjoyable in my new kitchen!  My favorites have been freckled lemonade & strawberry ice cream.  I also made a bourbon banana bread pudding (similar recipe here). Sounds delicious, right?  It did actually taste good, but I found out I don't like bread pudding because I just can't handle the mushy consistency (blech).

Our final walk-through the day before we bought the house!

So I'm going to keep plugging along with trying to enjoy the process (and taking pictures along the way) - even if it means enjoying stripping wallpaper and painting every day for a week straight - because this is life and it's full and I'm so thankful to be doing it all with Caleb!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Freckled Lemonade

Please do me a favor:  go buy a bunch of lemons.  Don't wait for life to hand you those lemons, go out there and get them yourself!  And then make this lemonade.  I promise that this is the best lemonade you will ever have.  I made it this past weekend when we had family visiting, and Lauren and I could not stop drinking it/talking about how delicious it was!  This will definitely be my go-to summer drink!

Freckled Lemonade
zest of one lemon
2 cups sugar
2 cups chopped hulled strawberries
2 cups fresh lemon juice (from about 10 large lemons)
1/4 tsp salt

Make the lemon syrup:  Bring the lemon zest, 1 1/2 cups sugar, and 1 1/2 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring, until the sugar dissolves.  Let cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, make the strawberry syrup:  Toss the chopped strawberries and the remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a bowl. Gently mash some of the strawberries with a potato masher to release the juices; do not pureĆ© - you want there to still be strawberry chunks.   Let the mixture sit at room temperature until the sugar dissolves, about 45 minutes.  Strain the strawberry mixture with a fine mesh strainer; reserve the strawberry syrup and the berries separately.

Make the lemonade:  Combine the lemon juice, lemon syrup, salt, and 2 cups cold water in a pitcher.

For each drink, put 1 Tbsp of the strawberry syrup in a tall glass.  Fill with ice, then top with the lemonade and some of the reserved strawberries.

source:  recipe from Food Network Magazine, May 2012

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Memorial Day Weekend

Ohh this three-day weekend we just had was exactly what we needed!  We have been so busy lately with buying our house and moving in and trying to unpack and get settled in - it was so wonderful to have a few days of down time!  We started our weekend fun a little early with my sister Lauren and her family coming on Thursday night!  We had dinner and then went to a baby shower for baby Mason - who is now six weeks old!  Friday night we grilled out, took the kids to the playground, and got to spend some time just talking with Lauren and B.  They headed home Saturday morning, and Caleb and I spent the rest of the weekend here at home.  I spent a lot of time at the pool and Caleb spent a lot of time organizing his garage and getting odd jobs done around the house.  I was also able to do some baking for fun - something that I've missed the past couple of weeks!  We feel refreshed and ready to go back to work - can three-day weekends come a little more often please? :)

What did you do over your long weekend?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Last Weekend

Last weekend we trekked to our hometown so we could haul back all of Caleb's tools and garage things that his parents were storing for us.  I admit I was a little disappointed to be leaving for the weekend when we have so many things to do around our new house - but it was wonderfully relaxing to NOT have the option to do any work!  I spent Saturday morning with my mother-in-law, and then the rest of the day I got to hang out with my parents while Caleb helped his dad with some projects.  My niece and nephew were at my parents' house so we did puzzles and played outside and loved on them all day.  I love these kids so much!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Peanut Butter Pie

Today is my brother's birthday; he would have turned 22 this year.  Almost every year, he would request peanut butter pie instead of a traditional birthday cake.  So last night I made his favorite peanut butter pie in his honor.  I can't send him a card or buy him a present or call him and sing him happy birthday--I can't do any of the things that I've always done on his birthday.  But I can make his favorite pie.  And tonight, when I take a bite of this pie, for even a few seconds it might feel just a little like almost every May 23rd that I've ever known.

Peanut Butter Pie
24 Nutter Butter cookies
5 Tbsp butter, melted
8 oz cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
8 oz Cool Whip, thawed

Crush cookies in a plastic bag with a rolling pin.  Mix crumbs and melted butter together.  Press on to bottom and up sides of a 9-inch pie plate.

Mix cream cheese, peanut butter, sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer until well blended.  Gently stir in 1 1/2 cups of Cool Whip until blended together.  Spoon mixture into crust.

Freeze for four hours or overnight until firm.  Let stand 30 minutes or until pie can be cut easily.  Garnish with remaining whipped topping.

source: recipe from a dear family friend

Friday, May 18, 2012

Our Bedroom: Painted!

As I mentioned the other day, we are finally done painting our bedroom!  Our bedroom furniture and all of our clothes have been scattered throughout the rest of the house since we moved in, so it was our goal to paint our bedroom and bathroom first.

We really didn't like the goldish yellow color they had going on, and the ceiling, doors, and trim were a creamish/yellow too - which definitely had to go.  When I first looked at paint swatches, I immediately liked one specific shade of grey.  I didn't tell Caleb which was my favorite, but held up a bunch of them for him to pick one - he picked the same one I liked!  Following the advice of this post, we painted a sample on the wall and I still loved it.  We used a shade darker in the bathroom - I am SO happy with how both rooms turned out!  I love the clean, fresh look of it - it's exactly how I imagined it!  Thank you so much Caleb for doing most of the work! :)



Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Headbord Inspiration

We just finished painting our bedroom last night (finally!), so now I can start decorating!!  I'm sticking with the same color scheme I already had because I've been so happy with it, but what I need next is a headboard.  I've never been a big fan of headboards, but I do think they complete the look of the room.  Now that we're not planning on moving again, I feel like it's time to settle on one.

When Joanna Goddard posted their bedroom makeover, I fell in love with their new headboard!  Isn't is so pretty?! Since I've finally found one that I really like, I've been leaning towards something similar for our room.

This one is similar, and it's a DIY that supposedly only costs $20!  I like the sounds of that, but I'm not the best at manipulating large pieces of material and transforming them into something that actually looks good.  

This is another DIY that only takes five hours but I noticed in the directions there's a needle and thread aaand I don't know how to sew.  Maybe this can be a project my sister or mom could help me with if I decide on this one.

I also like this one.  I can't decide if I like the scalloped look on the top or just straight across.

This one from West Elm is straight across, but I don't know if I like how high up the wall it comes.  It's a maybe.

I could lose the tufted headboards altogether and just get a plain scalloped headboard.  I've always preferred simple but I'm kind of into the tufted look.

Which one do you like best?  What kind of headboard do you have?  

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to this incredible woman!  My mom is the strongest, most selfless, most loving, most godly woman I know, and I am so thankful that she is my mom and best friend!  Happy Mother's Day, Mama!  I love you!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Story of Ian & Larissa

I watched this video earlier this week, and since then I've seen it everywhere.  Just in case you haven't seen it yet, here it is.  I don't normally post videos, but this is definitely worth watching!  I'd love to know your thoughts :)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Fresh Strawberry Ice Cream

I have this problem where I avoid tackling big, overwhelming tasks by busying myself with other non-essential, though time-consuming, tasks.  Like one week before we moved, I had zero boxes packed!  And instead of spending time packing, we went strawberry picking all Saturday morning.  Then I decided to make four batches of strawberry jam and this strawberry ice cream.  I prefer to operate in full-blown denial - as long as I can end my day with a bowl of ice cream.

Fresh Strawberry Ice Cream
1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/3 cup sugar
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk (I used whole)

Combine the strawberries, 1/3 c sugar, and lemon juice in a mixing bowl.  Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Whisk the eggs in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy, 1-2 minutes.  Whisk in the 3/4 cup sugar, a little at a time, then continue whisking until completely blended, about 1 minute more.  Pour in the cream and milk and whisk to blend.

Remove the strawberries from the fridge and mash to a puree.  Drain the juice from the strawberries and whisk it into the cream base just before transferring it to the ice cream maker.  Freeze following the manufacturer's instructions. After the ice cream stiffens (about 2 minutes before it is done), add the mashed strawberries, then continue freezing until the ice cream is ready.  Makes 1 generous quart.

source:  recipe from Ben & Jerry's Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

New Home Happiness

The past week has been crazy!  We bought a house, moved all of our stuff across town, cleaned and closed out our apartment, and started settling into our new home.  It has all been so fun!  It's still sinking in that we actually own this house, but we are loving every minute!  I could go on and on about all of the things I love about our new home, but here are just a few little things that have made me happy over the past few days.

{not "under contract" anymore; the house is really ours now!}

{pretty flowers in the front bed}

{picking out paint colors}

 a window over my kitchen sink - and a backyard!}

{taking a break from unpacking to do some baking}