Monday, October 15, 2012

a pumpkin picking excursion

I had been looking forward to this day for weeks. It is so easy for me to go through life these days without really feeling like I am experiencing it, you know what I mean? Well, no, I guess you probably don't. The thing is, I work retail. And without getting into the daily life specifics about how I work nights and weekends, rarely get two days off in a row, and otherwise have a challenging social life, I will make the point I was trying to make. About experiencing life as it occurs.

A few days ago I received our new Holiday Concept Book. Holiday as in Christmas. As in, I'm looking at pictures of gift boxes and shiny red balls and thinking Black Friday, Christmas music, trees, and decorations. And it wasn't even my birthday yet. So I made a promise to myself that I would set that lovely book aside and experience a little bit of fall activities first. Go pumpkin picking. See some autumn color changing leaves (for some reason those around us haven't really changed yet, but out west they have! Yay!)

So we did. And it was good. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

a little late, but...

I finally sat down and made myself figure out iMovie. Well, a little bit. While I quite enjoy the idea of making videos, and some of the process was satisfying and enjoyable, there were about as many moments of pulling my hair out sheer frustration. I'm sure once you spend quite a bit of time with the program and you become familiar with its quirks it gets better. But it is far from intuitive and quite prohibitive at times. Hello? No Save File? For reals?

But I digress.

I made a little video with clips from our stay-at-home vacation a few months back. We decided to save money and not do anything big. Instead, we each came up with several ideas and wrote them on scraps of paper to put in a grab bag. Things like "go to the zoo" "see a museum we haven't been to yet" "get cupcakes" "have a picnic" "movie marathon" etc. Every day we picked something out of the bag and attempted to do it. I say attempted because we learned that after walking around at the zoo and the county fair we maybe didn't want to spend the day walking around Kings Dominion. So we tossed it and picked something else. When we realized that the beach we thought we could take our dog to actually did not allow dogs in the summer, we tossed it and picked something else. The grab bag was a good idea, I think, but maybe not for an entire week. Sometimes a girl just needs to relax. mmhmm.

Monday, August 27, 2012

vintage gymnastics

Kind of obsessed with this video I came across via Not Martha, documenting the evolution of the uneven bars competition in women's gymnastics. There is something great about those early days, don't you think? An artistry and grace.

Got me searching YouTube for vintage gymnastics videos, and I've decided that I quite love the 70s. Check out 1:47 and 3:02 for some of my favorite moments.

Friday, July 27, 2012

the honest toddler

When raising a terrorizing toddler, unable to sleep, bathe, or hang out with people your own age, please remember that to the rest of us it just might be a little bit funny. A little bit. 

Honest Toddler reminds us of this, with a hilarious look at the life of a toddler. A post titled Sharing starts like this:

 We already know that parents tend to be hypocritical when it comes to rules. Try not to hold it against them as most of their actions are born from a crippling fear that they’ll raise an embarrassment.
But today a line was crossed.

Read the rest here, and a couple other highlights: Schedule, and Recipes.
And show some respect for toddlers, ok?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

home inspiration

When the hubs and I bought our house, our real estate agent made it clear that she thought we were the kind of people who would be able to fix this house up the way it deserves to be fixed up. That we would not only have the vision, but also somehow the time and money to get it done. I often look around and feel guilty for not having done more in the year and a half that we have been in this house. We basically painted and moved in. Bought a couple of new appliances. Mowed the lawn a few times. Hm.

It's not that we don't want to do anything, or that we don't know what to do. We have plans, and we talk about them often. We have plans that include knocking down walls, adding a bathroom and a laundry room, landscaping, moving the front door. It's just putting those plans into motion that has proven to be the difficult part. But we are powering through, and getting ready to talk to a contractor so that he can tell us we are absolutely crazy for thinking we can get half of what we want done with our budget.

With all this on the mind, won't you join me for a little home inspiration via recent Pinterest posts?

If this could be my front door, I think I would die.

But I would happily settle for something more like this.

Open kitchen with multi-colored cabinets.

Concrete everywhere. Not the most resale friendly thing I would guess.

Orange trees inside? Don't mind if I do.

Black brick to refinish fireplace structure?

Just putting this out there in the hopes that it will build our motivation to get some things done. Even if it's not exactly what I want to get done. At the very least we need to refinish the bathroom and get some new flooring in. Wish us luck!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

key lime cake for happy birthdays

First of all, this is not a food blog. It may be hard to tell what with all of the food posts lately, but it is not. So. Now that we have that cleared up, let me share with you a delicious little treat I baked up for the mister's birthday over the weekend.

It is the Key Lime Cream Cake by the lovely Bakerella, and it is just delightful. No crazy ingredients needed to make this baby from scratch (coming from a person who considers cake flour a crazy ingredient, ok? Normal, plain old, all-purpose flour here.) I didn't have access to key limes, and regular limes did just fine. I won't repost the recipe here out of respect for the original author, but if you have any trouble accessing the recipe please let me know. 

 Also, I made two round cakes and did not slice them into additional layers. It just seemed unnecessary to me, so I skipped that step. Plus it just seems like an excuse to add more frosting and I'm not really into a whole lot of frosting. That being said, I also cut the frosting recipe in half and it was still more than enough for me. Really, I cannot imagine eating this cake with more than twice the frosting. Uhhh no. But the fresh whipped cream and graham crackers? Completely necessary. This made all the difference so I would not recommend skipping out on these. And don't just get Cool Whip. I mean, you can, but you won't be doing yourself any favors there.

Now I will admit that I am not the world's best cake decorator. I like to tell myself that messy is charming and nice, but let's be honest this makes me a little jealous.

That, folks, is a gosh darned gorgeous cake. Mine looked nothing like that. I piped my whipped cream on with a zip-lock back and ended up with a giant blob in the middle of the cake. And I have no clue how you make that happen with graham cracker crumbs on the side of the cake. No clue. Try as I might it all pretty much ended up on the tray around the cake, and what did stick to the cake messed up the frosting. But you know what? I don't think the mister minded. I don't think he minded one bit.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

blackberry baked french toast for happy mornings

It is no secret that I am a huge fan of breakfast foods. Huge fan. If I could have belgian waffles every single day for the rest of my life I probably would. (Side note: I do not yet own a belgian waffle maker, and for some strange reason they do not sell frozen belgian waffles in NoVa. I don't get it, but they are severely lacking in my life right now.) The problem with breakfast is it tends to require effort. In the morning. Which is hard. So I like breakfasts that are super easy, but I also want them to taste amazing. 

Let me introduce you to a little something I threw together recently.

Looks amazing, right? So here's a little secret: I threw it together in just a few minutes with things I had around the kitchen and needed to get rid of. And. It was AMAZING!

1/3 loaf old french bread (or whatever stale bread you may have lying around)
1/2 cup leftover buttermilk you don't know what to do with (or half & half, or regular milk)
4 eggs
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
handful of blackberries (or any fruit you have)

for topping:
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
2 tbsp butter or margarine
sprinkle of almonds (optional)

You with me so far? This sounds pretty easy, right? Almost all of the ingredients are substitutable. Make this with some challah bread, or old croissants, can you imagine? Yum! Throw some strawberries or peaches in there instead of blackberries, also yum. Leave out the topping if you want, it won't hurt my feelings. Oh yeah, I almost forgot, I'm completely making up all those measurements. When I made this I just poured stuff together without measuring it. That's how easy it is. 

So here's what you do.
1. tear your bread into roughly 1" chunks and place in a small baking dish (I used a small loaf pan)
2. mix together eggs, milk, and vanilla
3. pour egg mixture over bread chunks until well covered
4. place in refrigerator for at least 20 minutes or until bread soaks up egg mixture. Do not skip this step, it makes such a huge difference!
5. now it's time to add your berries. You could be like me and carefully place your berries between and underneath and on the bread to be sure that each bite has a berry, or you could just sprinkle them all on top because what does it matter anyway. 
6. put flour and brown sugar in bowl, cut in butter until the mixture starts to form crumbles.
7. sprinkle brown sugar mixture over bread mixture
8. add almonds if you choose (it really did add a nice texture)
9. bake in a 375 degree oven for 20 minutes or so, until the top is nice and golden brown.

This made two very generous sized portions for the hubs and I. Just scoop it out, put it on a plate, and enjoy it. No syrup needed for sure.

If you made it through this whole post and decided to make this dish (or a version of it) for yourself, please leave a comment and let me know how it went!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

heaven on two slices of bread

You guys. Seriously. Brie. Dark Chocolate. Roasted Strawberries. The best grilled cheese ever in my life. It's a good thing I'm so modest. 
Get the recipe here even though it is fairly self explanatory. At least go drool over the pictures for a minute to get yourself psyched for this totally tasty treat. You're welcome.

Also, this one is on my list. Yes indeed.

Monday, July 9, 2012

dream life

I, along with pretty much the entire internet world, have sold my soul to Pinterest. I mean, at this point I have no idea what I would do without it. And I am amazed and fascinated by the fact that so many people use it in so many different ways. For example, people are always talking about how they spend hours wasting time on Pinterest. Just... looking around, one would presume. I don't really know because that is not how I consume Pinterest. I am not a browser, rarely a searcher, but always an obsessive collector and a little bit of a stalker. I read blogs. Lots of them. And most of the things I pin come directly from those blogs that I read. I also follow people. Mostly people I actually know, followed by people I feel like I know (authors of blogs I read), and the occasional famous person or company or what have you. I check Pinterest multiple times a day, to see any new pins from people I follow, and that's it. I'm done. So huge internet time waster it is not, facilitator to my addictions it most certainly is.

All of that to lead into showing you a few pictures from a new board I titled "Dream Life." If I fell asleep today and woke up in one of these pictures, let's just say I wouldn't be too upset about it.

Not following me on Pinterest? Want to? Find me here.

Friday, July 6, 2012

East Coast by Train

I recently took a little day trip to NYC via train, and took some photos to document my trip of course. Train could easily become my favorite method of travel for a while. It's so much more relaxing than flying, and the scenery! While I must admit the east coast by train may not be the most attractive trip (let's be honest), it is at the very least interesting. It makes you want to just look around and see what's around you. Now maybe my next trip should be through some mountains or farms for a taste of something different, but for now I bring you the East Coast.