November 22, 2014

life lately...

Hello all!  Life has been getting away from us lately and we've been so busy that I haven't had the heart (or energy) to sit down for a post recently, so sorry for that.  Everything is great, just chaotic! 

October came and went...Jeremiah and I celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary in October.  We had some lofty plans (a boat ride and romantic dinner) but when the day came along we decided for a quiet dinner at our favorite hokey steakhouse (to be left un-named, but people "down-under" seem to like it) and to rent a movie ('Neighbors').  Well, dinner kinda sucked and the movie skipped in the DVD player, so we ended up eating left-overs from the fridge and watching 'Survivor.' Classic. We were totally fine with it and it seemed fitting that our best-laid plans never quite work out, but that's okay.  We were happy as long as we were together.

Maddux and Paetyn also decided to start some instruments lately.  P has been in a funk lately about being left-handed and we found it a little difficult to find a great instrument for her.  But when we walked into a drum store, she fell in love.  So we picked up a set and found a great local teacher that she really likes.  Maddux decided on a trumpet.  If our house was loud before, we are in for it now.

We also went to 'Disney on Ice' with friends which was actually pretty great.  I was afraid that the kids would be too old, but they completely enjoyed it.  If you get the chance to go, do it!  It will not disappoint.  The kiddos loved it and it was an absolute hoot watching their faces when the classic Disney villains showed up on the ice as part of the act.  Maddux became very concerned when Cruella DeVille came and told all the kiddos around us that we needed to keep the fact that we had a Dalmatian at home a secret.  It. Was. Cute. 

Halloween also snuck up on us...Paetyn went as a pirate and Maddux went as (in his words) "that Jurassic park guy if he got to ride a dinosaur."  Not kidding.  Very random, but do-able.  My parents were here from the coast, so my dad went trick-or-treating with us (as well as Meg, she was a doctor) and it was a fun night.

I also recently gave notice at my job and I am excited for bigger and better things.  I loved the company I worked for and I learned a lot as a HR manager, but sometimes things are just not a good fit.  My last week will be the week of Christmas so I can begin the new year with a new adventure!  I am excited (and nervous) but if it weren't scary, it wouldn't be worth the risk, right?  I am hoping so :) 

We are also having a holiday party in December so I have been busy planning, planning, and planning.  Having a great friend in the rental business with great products is a major plus :).  Oh, if you didn't know, 'Geanne Genevieve' is no more...Hannah had an amazing opportunity to buy a local vintage rental business that went on the market so she bought it!  It's a great move for her and I couldn't be prouder of her!  We will be getting quite a few things from her for the party and of course she will be helping me.  What more could a girl ask for?  Check out 'Common Wealth Rentals' here.

So I think that's it.  Hope all is well in your neck of the woods and have a great Thanksgiving!

November 10, 2014

design crush...Amber Interiors

Do you ever meet someone and just know they are "the one?"  That has happened in my life twice.  Once with my darling husband, Jeremiah.  And now with 'Amber Interiors.' I never even noticed that I was pinning items from the same designer until I followed one of the links and it took me to her blog.  I was like "omigosh" and my mouth dropped open (and I am not too proud to admit that I little drool came out).  So now I am secretly stalking her and am obsessed with everything "Amber."  I love her use of white, colors, furnishings, all so wonderful.  My heart is all a-flutter and I dream for the day that I can have 1 room reflecting her style.  Here are some of my favorite rooms of hers:


November 8, 2014

10/10 challenge...#10!

10 recipes in 10 days...Pumpkin cheesecake. In one hand you have pumpkin pie. In the other hand you have cheesecake. Now put your hands together and you have one of the best desserts, ever. Period. This was my first time ever making a cheesecake. A real cheesecake. I've done the "no bake" versions before and they were ok. This is one dessert that I will make again and again and again. It was that good. I was confident enough to let my co-workers try it as well. I was nervous making this because this is the one recipe I was looking forward to the most. And the last new recipe for a while. And after a few bad tries at some new recipes (aka: pork tenderloin and banana bon bons) this one I had to get right! 

I started it in the morning so it would be ready to eat that night. Once the batter was made and poured into the crust there was a lot leftover. Since no one was around I decided to test the batter, several times. Trust me, it was delicious. There was some left over crust so I made a few mini cheesecakes in our muffin tin. Again, there was a lot of left over batter so I made some minis with crust and a few without the crust. The cook time on those was a little off, but they turned out ok. Even the minis without the crust.

Back to the main event...I read a tip to shut the oven off a little early and let the cheesecake cool off in the warm oven. That helped cool it down without drastically changing the temperature and cracking the cake. This worked perfectly. After it reached room temperature I put it in the fridge for several hours until we were ready to cut into it. Just like pumpkin pie we added a little whipped cream to the top. I'm not sure it needed it, but it didn't hurt. In my best Graham Elliot (Masterchef judge) impression, I took a forkful of pumpkin cheesecake, lifted it up to eye level, scooped it out, smelled it as I brought it close to my mouth, and closed my eyes as I ate. Cheesecake Factory has nothing on this pumpkin cheesecake! Find the recipe right here.

And that's a wrap on our fall 10/10 challenge!

November 2, 2014

gallery wall...

Our family room has always perplexed me...the layout has always been hard for us.  There is only 1 "real" wall that doesn't have a hallway, window, or sliding glass door but the room itself isn't very big.  We have tried the layout numerous times before, but these last few months we decided that it was time to make the family room a real "family room!"  We sold all the furniture and splurged for something that was family-friendly and appealing to the eye.  We hit Macy's after a lot of research and decided on a chaise lounge sofa and a side chair in gray. The sofa is 'floating' in the middle of the room on top of our HomeGoods purple rug that we have had for years.  The mixture of grey, lilac, orange and cream works pretty well I think. 

I also spent months scouring Craigslist and local thrift stores to find a piece of furniture to put the tv on.  I found nothing.  Nata.  Nilch.  That wall itself is 14 feet wide so I couldn't have anything small or timid. When I saw these shuttered door cabinets at Target I snagged up 2.  They offer a ton of storage (they can hold all of our electronics, dvds, magazines, and game console stuff).  One cabinet enough wouldn't have been wide enough for our tv, so two seemed like a good bet for something nice and big to ground the room.  Creamy white walls and a blank canvas...what's a girl to do?

So, I called up the help of my pal Heather (who's home looks like it came straight out of a catalog) and asked for some help.  To be absolutely honest, she did all the work.  I was a good assistant though.  She has an eye for these things and she was able to achieve exactly what I wanted! 

Luckily, I didn't have to spend a dime on this wall :)  I had all the art collected over the years from thrift stores and the ore was a wonderful gift from Heather to finish it all off.  Every time I walk into the room, I feel happy!  I need to find a plant (that Meg won't eat) for the stool in the corner, but other than that I think its done.  I need to also fill some of the frames with some updated family pictures.

Thanks Heather for doing what you do to make each space you touch feel lived-in and loved :).  I love it so!!!

November 1, 2014

10/10 challenge...#8 and #9 (a couple of failures)

10 recipes in 10 days...Maple ginger glazed pork tenderloin. My mouth waters just saying that. We had such high expectations for this dish after seeing the original recipe and pictures. They say, "shoot for the moon, because even if you come up short you may be swinging from the stars." We shot for the moon, but we used a bb gun instead of a rocket. We fell short. That's saying it nicely. There are some key things you need to know. We followed the recipe exactly. Exactly. We cooked the pork at the right temperature and for the right amount of time. Our failure is that we should have used a thermometer. When we took the pork out I thought it was undercooked so we put it back in. Who knows, maybe it was ok? We'll never know because we did do a temperature check. At least no one got sick. The glaze...when a recipe says to reduce the liquid it needs to be more precise. Reduce it to what kind of consistency?  Liquid? Pancake batter? We reduced it alight, to the consistency of pudding right before you put it in the fridge to set. It didn't taste good at all. After all was said and done the pork came out ok, the kids ate it. The glaze was awful, due to the inexperience of the cook. The oven got so hot we broke the dish the pork was cooking in. The green beans came out pretty good. Kids grade: B Adults grade: F.  Hopefully you have better luck than us!  Recipe is here.

PB banana bon bons. These little things are awesome! Slices of banana with a smooth layer of peanut butter in between and then coated with chocolate and rolled in crushed peanuts. The only thing that would make these little guys better would be if they turned out. Ever try holding slices of banana and trying to spread peanut butter on? Give it a try and let me know how it turns out. We chilled them so they would be a little firmer and stand up to the spreading of the pb. They didn't stand up too well. We must have used inferior bananas. We didn't let that discourage us, me and the kids got through them all and made a dozen or so pb banana sandwiches with toothpicks helping to hold them together and to help with dipping in the chocolate. When it was time we used a double boiler to melt the chocolate. It worked well. Until we dipped the bananas. The chocolate thawed the bananas too quickly and they fell off the toothpicks. After getting a couple of them rolled in the chocolate I thought we were good to go. Do you know what happens when you add water (the bananas that were frozen and then thawed released some water) to melted chocolate? The chocolate seizes. I ended up with a big ball of unusable chocolate. I threw the towel in, gave up, and let the dogs eat slices of banana with pb in between. Kids grade: I (incomplete) Adults grade: F (willing to try again though) Dogs grade: A.  Recipe can be found right here.

epic fail(ures).

October 30, 2014

10/10 challenge...#6 & #7

10 recipes in 10 days...Homemade corndog muffins. The pictures don't do them justice, because they were excellent. The recipe calls for "all beef" hotdogs and I think I know why. The saltiness of the dogs go well with the sweetness of the muffins. Although you can use regular hotdogs if you want the all beef ones taste better I think. We used both regular and all beef. The kids will not know the difference and will eat them anyway. Like I said the pictures don't do them justice, but they are delicious. They make a great after school snack (you can reheat them and they taste almost as good), a party snack, or even as lunch. Kids and Adults grade: Solid B+.  We partnered them with our famous cinnamon apples and it was a great lunch for everyone.  Recipe here!

Ten recipes in ten days...French dip sandwiches. Slow cooked roast, homemade au jus, provolone cheese, hoagie roll, fries on the side, my mouth is watering again typing this. The entire family loved this meal in their own way. Maddux wanted his meat on the side, no cheese, and jelly on his hoagie roll. Paetyn ate hers without the cheese. Lindsay opted for one slice of provolone and I went with two slices. Looking back I should have gone with three slices only because the lean cut of meat came out a bit dry even with dipping it in the au jus. The au jus was the star of the meal in my opinion. Soy sauce, worshtersire sauce, onion powder, garlic powder, pepper, a couple of bay leaves, and BAM! homemade au jus! Grading this meal was easy, another "A". Those "A's" are hard to come by with these new recipes.  Also, Linds isn't big on "leftovers" so when she packed these up for the next days' lunch, you know its a winner!  Her favorite recipe so far for sure!  Original recipe found here.

October 27, 2014

10/10 challenge...#5

Ten recipes in ten days...Whiskey-mallow, caramel, and spiced bacon bark! If you have a sweet tooth this is for you. First the layer of chocolate is pretty basic, no frills here. The marshmallow/whiskey combo is something else though. I messed this layer up by letting the marshmallows melt too much. The directions say to take them off the heat when they first start to melt, I let them go way too far. It tasted fine, but it didn't keep the thickness the way the original recipe looks. Once that layer set it was on to the caramel portion, my favorite. I didn't believe a little sugar water would turn into caramel. It did. Then once the butter and heavy cream hit the smell was awesome! I even let the little ones take a taste once it had cooled off. Another layer of chocolate and then on to the bacon. I needed to cook the bacon a little longer to get it crispier. Mix the bacon with some spices (I could have used a heavier hand in the spice department), break it up, and press it into the top chocolate layer. Let the bark set for a while in the fridge, take it out and let it warm for 20 minutes before breaking, and dig in. Not too much though, it is pretty rich. One of our better desserts. The kids enjoyed it after taking the bacon off. To those of you who do not believe bacon goes well with chocolate or sweets in general, don't knock it till you try it. Besides, salty and sweet go together very well, Snickers, Pay Day, bacon maple bars, peanut butter cups, you get the picture. Kid grade="C" with the bacon, solid "B+" without the bacon.  Find the original recipe here!

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