Friday, December 31, 2010

2-Oh-11

I've always been really good at making resolutions, but not always so great with coming up with meaningful, serious resolutions that I follow through on.  This year, I hope it's different.  And to (hopefully) help me achieve/follow along with these resolutions, I figured what's better than to make them public information so you can remind (bug) me to keep going!  So, here are the top ones I'm going to be working on...

1) Get organized!  Some areas of our house...and our life...are extremely organized while others lack any sense of organization at all.  The goal is to reduce clutter and find some new routines (read: hiding spots) to store paperwork.  This also reduces to my job.  Life would be easier if my teaching 'stuff' were more organized.  Here's hoping :)

2) Give away things (clothes, housewares, anything else) we don't use.  I've just started volunteering at a locally-run resale shop which might be part of the motivation for this one.  Plus, there are boxes that have been in our basement for OVER 6 months now.  Clearly, if we haven't missed it yet, we don't really need it.  And, it will definitely help us reduce clutter.

3) Work on house to-do list.  Enough said.

4) Remind family and friends how much I love and appreciate them more often.  Sure, we're going green, but I still think the value of a snail mail card or letter is immeasureable.  JW and I both know that we are blessed with our family and friends so it's time to be more cognizant about it and to act on it!

5) Be more adventurous and more frequent with working out.  After playing college volleyball, it's hard to feel like a stroll around the block or a dance class counts as a suitable workout....but I'm beginnig to realize that it's better than nothing ;)  So, my resolution is to get my booty moving at least 4 days a week.  I also want to do a yoga class, continue to try zumba, and check out any other great workout classes.  I can only take the treadmill for so long.  I also plan on competing in my first official 5k.  Yep, mark my words, I'll actually sign up and follow through with one rather than just talking about it.   Who knows, maybe a 10k or a half marathon will be next.

6) Use more organic/good for me and the earth products.  We are what we eat, right?  Well, not exactly, but the more we're learning, the more JW and I are realizing that it's important and not horribly difficult to eat more organic or overall 'better' food.  We're also using this for toiletries -- I'm already loving coconut oil in place of lotion.  We're trying to switch over to organic shampoos/conditioners/body washes as we run out of our regular stock, too. 

That's all I have so far for 2011.  Some resolutions are more improvements on things we already do decently and some are some pretty dramatic changes.  To sum it up, we're focusing on our health, our clutter, and those we love.  Sounds pretty good, huh?  What about you?  Any resolutions you guys have for 2011?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy

I always loved that phrase...but it got even better when my 4 year old nephew used it the other day.  HILARIOUS!  Almost as hilarious as my sewing ability, or lack-thereof.  But, I'm continuing to learn and I can only get better -- right....right?  I made myself an apron a few weeks back after loving the idea of one forever.  When I mentioned the idea to my cousin (read: practically sister), I could tell by her reaction that I had a Christmas present to sew.  So, first came the fabric search.  I probably spent 20 minutes in JoAnn's and when I was about to leave I found this one.  LEMONS.
 And when I paired it with the lime green sash, I was really digging the look of it.  So, here is the full version of the 'Chelsey' apron.  I would post a pattern...if I knew how to make one...or read one, let alone use one.  I'm finally starting to actually measure fabric (thanks to some lovely Christmas sewing presents from JW), which is a major step for me, ha!   Well, whaddya think?  I have a couple more fabrics to make into aprons...or throw pillows like I did today, but more on that later.
In other news...holy cow have we been eating a TON of food.  So I created this masterpiece for lunch yesterday and it was so pretty I had to take a pic!  MMMMMMMMM, vegetables!  Oh, and we've found an AMAZING new way use up all those cranberries you didn't get to over the holidays!  I'll post that recipe tomorrow :)

Oh Christmas...

We've been rather busy over the past few weeks, but I have been taking some cute pics of our family and friends over the holidays and I wanted nothing more than to share them here!

First, from Mason and Charlie's Christmas concert, I snapped a few pics of the cousins...



 Then, there was Mandy and Pete's wedding -- aka ACVB and significant other reunion.  We love that as we continue to stay in touch after our college years, we can all come together and laugh as much as we always used to!
 Here's a bunch of the girls :)  Right back where we first met lacing up our shoes on the first day of practice -- ps -- doesn't Mandy (the bride) look gorgeous??

 And another one JW and myself :)

 Then, on Christmas Eve, we had present time at my parent's house.  The boys loved it -- especially Mason.  Here's his first gift from us, a new scooter!  Notice Whit-bug snoozing on Jon's leg.
 Whit is also the queen at opening treats or presents in general.  Here she is in action...
 For my sister-in-law, Jon made an awesome mirror with leftover trim from their kitchen remodel.  Braden Boo decided to christen it with some kisses :)
 My grandma (aka Maser's great-grandma) got him this Monkey stuffed animal.  As you can see on the tag, the monkey (fondly named Funky...ha, yeah, I helped with that one) heats up!  No joke.  Pop this bad boy in the microwave for about a minute and he's a warm, lavender-scented cuddle bug to take to bed.  Do they make these for adults?  If so, I want one!
 My bro's family after church...
 One of Mason's presents from Grandma Patty and Poppa Mark was a new Buzz Lightyear bike.  He enlisted Poppa to help him put it together in between church and dinner. 
 So that was our Christmas.  It was wonderful.  We got to spend time with family and wake up in our own house...definitely a tradition that we want to continue. 




Monday, December 13, 2010

Peanut Butter-Jelly Time!

I love peanut butter.  I go through phases where I wish I had an entire vat of Jiff peanut butter in our pantry.  My first college roommate was no different.  I'm pretty sure we went through an entire jar a week.  I also love chocolate with peanut butter.  There is no better combination in the world, period.

So this morning (on a blessed snow day called the night before), as I was perusing one of my new favorite blogs - (never home)maker I stumbled across her usual breakfast of chocolate-peanut butter oatmeal.  Can you say no-bake cookie for breakfast??  Of course I was down.  I tried it and it sure was delicious.  I'll pass on the recipe down below, or you can head to their site!  

Anywho, in addition to the amazing breakfast tip, Ashley at (never home)maker gave their recipe for homemade peanut butter.  See where I'm going with this?? :)  I decided to give it a shot....and it's amazing.  I made a few slight changes to the receipe (but honestly when do I not?)  So get out your food processor and get ready to give this one a try. 
  
Ernie & Katy's PB
(in honor of Katy Traylor, the only person I've ever met who loves pb as much as I do)
Here's what you need:
2 cups blanched peanuts (no salt)
1 cup honey roasted peanuts 
1 heaping tablespoon coconut oil
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt

Put all ingredients in a food processor and let 'er rip!  You literally have to run the processor for about 2-3 minutes.  It should start to get slightly soupy.  

Then, take a taste.  If you don't like it, add something :)  I may try mine with a little honey next time. 
 And you better believe tomorrow morning, I'll be adding some of this homemade peanut butter into my new favorite breakfast.  
Chocolate-Peanut Butter Oatmeal
2/3 cup oatmeal
2 Tablespoons dark chocolate chips
1 heaping Tablespoon homemade peanut butter!
some hot water or milk
The best part about this bfast?  I don't like to eat before I go to school, and it's so easy to have the oats, chocolate chips, and pb in a glass container.  Then, all I have to do is add some hot water at school and stir it up!  You will seriously be full until lunch with this recipe.  I even topped it with a banana this morning.  Mad props to Ashley at (never home)maker...soooooooooo good.  

Let me know if you ever decide to try the peanut butter and what you think of it...or if you come up with any cool changes to make it that much better!

PS - Whit licked off the spoon and even she concurs that it sure is delicious :)


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Holy Christmas!


HOLY SNOW!!!  We were out for JW's Work Christmas Party last night and the snow/ice was just starting to fall as we rolled in late.  So when it was time for the Whit-bug to head outside this morning, we were surprised to find a good 4" on the ground.  But we can't complain, it just means that we'll get to bust out our snowshoes SOON!  Jackpot.

On a totally different note, did I mention yet that my husband builds endtables???  Because he does.  Last year for my mom's birthday, he made her nesting tables.  They're beautiful, mission-style end tables that make me drool.  Literally.  How this lovely man of mine does these things I have no idea. So naturally, when he made another table for a Christmas present (for someone who will remain unnamed...), I had to show it off to all of you.  So, here it is...
It's not stained yet, but will be before Santa's big day.
And a nice little shot in front of our lovely Christmas tree :)

Lastly, a close-up of the drawer.  This is JW's first attempt with a drawer.  I'd say he rocked it!
So, that's one the homemade gifts we made for Christmas (keep in mind, I use the term 'we' loosely...I mean I did pick out the knob).  What do you guys think about the endtable?  Want one yet? :)



Monday, December 6, 2010

Double Dark Chocolate Biscotti

You know the Christmas season is in full swing when you start busting out your favorite recipes and filling the kitchen with even more love.  And though I always have the old standbys: Sugar Cookies and Grandma Booie's Swedish Wafers, I always try out a few new recipes.  Last year, I tried some chocolate cookies that were disastrous.  But I also tried out some double dark chocolate biscotti...and it was a winner.
First of all, it's a Cooking Light recipe...which always makes me feel a little better.  But when I made them last year, I decided they needed a bit more chocolate, ya know, just to spruce them up a bit!  Pair them with a cup of coffee or Hazelnut Chocolate hot chocolate and experience the dark chocolate coating melt when you dunk it....soooooooooooo yummy! 
So without further adieu, here's the recipe:


2 cups whole wheat flour
2 Tablespoons flaxseed
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 large egg whites
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 package dark chocolate chips, divided
1/2 cup unsalted almonds


1) Preheat oven to 350.  Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife.  Combine flour, flax, soda, and salt; stir with a whisk.  Combine sugars and eggs in a separate bowl.  Beat with a mixer at high speed for 2 minutes.  Add vanilla; mix well.  Add flour mixture and stir until combined. Fold in 1/2 cup of chocolate chips and almonds.  
2) Divide batter into 3 equal portions.  Roll each portion into a 6" long roll.  Arrange rolls 3" apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.  Pat to a 1" thickness.  Bake for 28 minutes or until firm.
3) Remove rolls from baking sheet; cool 10 minutes on a wire rack.  Cut rolls diagonally.  Place (cut side down) on a baking sheet.  Reduce oven temperature to 325.  Bake 7 minutes, turn over and bake another 7 minutes.  Remove from baking sheet and cool on a wire rack.
4) Melt remaining chocolate chips in a shallow bowl (may not need the rest of package...I usually eyeball it) in the microwave.  Be careful to get them just hot enough to melt but not burnt.  Dunk one side of biscotti (once it has been cooled).  Allow chocolate to dry.

I love using the biscotti as gifts, too.  Jon's sister LOVES these things!  And what a pretty, kinda healthy, and delicious treat to give.  What about you guys -- any delicious recipes to share?  I'm looking for some new ones to try this week :)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Happy Holidays.

Despite a weekend of being best buds with Nyquil, kleenex, and orange juice, we did get out and about this morning.  We had a little holiday brunch with the family after church.  That's right, we had breakfast with Santa this morning.  And he was the real one.  We know,  because he smelled like Santa, not beef and cheese.  Here's a quick pic of my brother's family.  Are they not the cutest lil fam you've ever seen?  Surprisingly Mas really LOVED Santa.
 Here's Mason telling Santa what he would like: a snow cone maker and cars to be exact.
 And then a couple of the cousins with Santa...

 And speaking of the holidays, we've been getting into the holiday spirit ourselves.  We put our 9' tree up last Saturday -- let's just say I was ecstatic to have a tall tree again.  I grew up in a house with Cathedral ceilings in our living room and we would always have 12' trees.  They were ginormous...and fantastic.   But anyway, here's a tall, skinny tree in all her glory.
We also put up a Nativity scene on our mantle.  We need a little something to go above it, but it's pretty much a replica of the one my folks had growing up.
We wrapped a lot presents last week, but it seems we've begun one of my favorite parts of the holidays this week -- Christmas baking.  I have so many memories of baking sugar cookies with my pops and Great Grandma Booie's "Swedish Wafers" with my mom...talk about Christmas traditions.  Today we mixed up some sugar cookies to bake up and decorate tomorrow.  I also made some double dark chocolate biscotti...I'll share the recipe soon :)

Oh, and last.  Mason is learning how to wink.  And it is the FUNNIEST thing EVER.  And yes, he has to keep his mouth open to wink.  Almost fell outta the pew in church today when he first showed us this lil trick ;)
video