Thursday, September 29, 2011

I haven't been taking many pictures lately and not a whole lot of exciting things are going on to blog about. School is still going really well for Henry and it's cute to see him interact with his little buddies and give them hugs when he leaves. Harper is having fun with me during the afternoons, but lately we've both been napping. Getting up at 5:15 every morning for Farrell's is starting to wipe me out and now that it's so dark in the morning it makes it harder for some reason.  The time change can't come soon enough!! 
So since I don't have any pictures I thought I'd share some recipes I used a few weeks ago. Mostly so I can use them again. They were super yummy! And one is kind of my first official recipe I sort of made up. Follow?

Sweet Potato, Sausage, and Kale Soup

*Recipe from Cooking Light
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cups chopped onion (about 2 large)
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound sweet turkey Italian sausage
  • 8 cups coarsely chopped peeled sweet potato (about 2 1/4 pounds)
  • 5 cups water
  • 4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 (16-ounce) package prewashed torn kale
  • 1 (16-ounce) can cannellini beans or other white beans, rinsed and drained

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 5 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper, and garlic; sauté 1 minute. Remove casings from sausage; add sausage to pan. Cook 5 minutes or until sausage is lightly browned, stirring to crumble. Add potato, 5 cups water, and broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 8 minutes. Gradually add kale; cook 10 minutes or until tender. Stir in remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and beans; cook 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. * I also added a touch of cream at the end. Cuz it never hurts.This soup was so yummy and really hit the spot when it was chilly a few weeks ago. Before it got hot again. And then got cold again. And then hot.

Angel Food Cake with peaches and basil

I kind of made this recipe up with some inspiration from here. I made my angel food cake via Alton Brown's recipe, and I have to that I've done it quite a few times it's gotten easy and I don't have a problem with them "falling" anymore. It was worth the perseverance! Especially since it is my husband's favorite dessert.
Then for the topping:

1 cup red fruity wine (I just used a Merlot that was on sale)
1 cup orange juice
1-2 tbl sugar

*let that come to a boil and simmer for about 15-20 minutes until it's nice and reduced to about 1/2 cup.
In the meantime, peel and cut 6 peaches and cook in a saute pan with a couple of tbl of sugar and let it get all yummy. Yummy. Yummy.
Once you liquid is reduced, add it to the peaches and let it all blend together for a few minutes at a simmer. Slice your angel food cake, pour on some of the topping (or a lot! Cuz it's yummy) and top with basil. I know. It sounds weird, but it's really good and refreshing. I had heard a lot about combining strawberries and basil so thought this would work too. In fact, I made it for 2 different sets of company in the same weekend because RJ and I liked it so much.

Hope you are all having a good week! And hopefully I'll remember to take some more pictures so I can document Fall 2011 for my little family before it's gone. I love fall!! But it goes so fast.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Kitchen Remodel 2011

 Okay, I already put these on facebook, but now I need to document it in thee ol' blog. 

So here is a before of the wall:

 The "middle" phase with the wall gone:

And the after:

 I think the stools are one of my favorite pieces in the kitchen. They are vintage and we found them on Craigslist for a really good price.

I used the tutorial of turning mini blinds into roman shades (it's all over pinterest) for all the windows. It was super easy and so, so, so, much cheaper than if I had bought them in a store. 
We also took out our old chandelier (which I loved) but there was just too much light going on. So I got that lamp shade at Target (for under $4!) and a lamp base and hung it up. So if it looks like we have a lamp hanging upside down on the ceiling....we do.

Here is a close up of the pictures I found at a thrift store. I was pumped when I found them!...until I saw the price was $40 for the set. Without me even asking, the lady said she would sell them to me for $20 total. SOLD.

This island. You can see my $1 vintage aprons and the "Attention" bulletin board I got at a garage sale for a whole quarter. And my lovely pot hanging rack my awesome friend Julie made.

Notice all the trim work? It took RJ about 800 nails, but he did such a great job and I love it.

Just another view and you can see the clock I got at a garage sale for just $10. I was going to paint it, but I'm resisting the urge. For now.


Another view from the dining room:

Here's a close up of the back splash. These are the tops to little metal shelves from IKEA. We just screwed them into the wall. When we got to the check out the lady asked what in the world we were going to do with all those shelves and when we told her she was sure to mention that we can always return it. Guess she didn't see our vision.

RJ's shiny "coffee station":

And this sign is from a coffee shop over in Urbandale. They had one hanging up and I asked if they had any more and she just let me have one. For free.

Combine that with a frame I got for nine CENTS at the Goodwill outlet and here ya go:

Okay, enough already, I know! I will try to not utter another word about our kitchen and get back to the much more important things in life. Phew. Glad that remodel is over and done with!

Have a good week!

Friday, September 9, 2011

An early morning with my boy.
 So thankful he has Fridays off! He is loving school, but it is wearing him out....
so naturally, he wakes up at 6 am...
I woke up to go to Farrell's, but my stomach was giving me some pains so I stayed home and watched "The Littles" with this guy. 
With the lamp on because it was still dark outside...

I am really enjoying my afternoons with Harper. When the two of them are together it's lots of yelling, screaming, and fighting. But when she is by herself, she's pure sweetness. She stopped napping (what?! She's only 2 1/2) but it doesn't seem to affect her at all so she gets to hang out with me while Henry is away. Perfect. 

So our first week of preschool went great! Henry is tired, but loves it. 
And I am loving it too.

Hope you all have a lovely weekend!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

First Day of Preschool was a success!
He was so excited and I was so antsy. RJ came home for lunch and then we decided to all walk to the church together. It was a perfect day for a walk and it only takes 20 minutes to get there.

Oh, my little boy! Can't believe how old he is.

He has been SO excited about wearing his new Spider Man shirt. Along with his Spider Man shoes. And undies. I'm not a huge fan of girl-character shirts, but boy ones? 

We went into the class with him and he looked at a few toys, I gave him a hug, and he was off. Waved at us from across the room and obviously wanted us to just go. 
Broke my heart a little, but I was proud of him for being so confident.

Time went super fast and it was time to pick him up again. We went to Beaverdale Confections for a treat. I let him pick whatever he wanted and he chose cotton candy Dip N' Dots. And a sucker. I would have bought 20 suckers if he asked. Don't judge. My love language is gift giving...I can't help myself!

I handled it all better than I thought I would and then when I went to pick him up and all us moms were in the hallway he ran out and yelled "mommy!" in his sweet little voice. There was a collective "aaaaahhhhh" from all the moms and I nearly lost it. I told him he'd get to go back tomorrow and he couldn't believe it....he is pumped!

So that's our Preschool 2011 experience. 2 thumbs up for sure!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Labor Day Weekend

Don't ya just love long weekends? Especially one with such perfect weather!

We had a pretty low key time at home and playing.

Sunday afternoon we went downtown to watch the "elite" in the Hy-Vee triathalon. We watched them swim for a bit and then walked down to the East Village to look at a craft show and watch some of the biking portion of the race. C-r-a-z-y how fast they were going.

Diving into a river and swimming around is kind of my worst nightmare.

Harper was mostly concerned about making sure her baby had a good view.

Monday we just ran some errands and hung out as a family. 
It was a lovely weekend. 

We got a couple more finishing touches done on the kitchen. I had my friend custom make me a pot rack and I loooove how it turned out.

I finished sewing the top flap for the curtains:

RJ put up a shelf above the window and I put up my apothecary jars. They were cute holding my baking goods, but were getting in the way. They are much prettier up here!

We did this last week, but we put up hooks to display my vintage aprons.
(which I got for $1 a piece at a thrift store!)

I keep trying to take pictures of the whole kitchen to show, but it just doesn't look good in photos. You'll just have to stop over to see it for yourself...and I'll keep trying new angles and see if I can get some good photos so I can stop talking about our kitchen already. Seriously!

Henry starts school this afternoon. Lots of emotions going on here, but he is SUPER excited....I'm a bit nervous. Ahhhhh!!!!!

Friday, September 2, 2011

I had planned a really fun date night with RJ as a surprise "thank you" for all his kitchen work. We haven't been out since our vacation so I was SO ready for someone else to cook for me! and to spend some one-on-one with my man. Plans changed because Harper's nose was a little too snotty and I didn't want to bring her to someone else's house so we decided to all go out together to Jethro's. RJ and I split some wings...I had been craving them for months and they did not disappoint.
It ended up being exactly what I needed. A good family night! Harper has been a little....feisty....lately and there has been lots of screaming/irrational melt downs/your typical, hair-pulling, girly attitude. We had been in such a good season of her life for the past 8 months or so, so I suppose she is due for a new phase. And then last night I was blessed with sweet behavior and the chance to just sit in a loud restaurant and observe. Don't you love those moments? The moments of kind of taking a step back and admiring your family and being blown over with thankfulness? 
We have so many (really, so many) days of no-where-near-perfectness. And there are so many moments where I day dream about our kids being a little bit older so we can enjoy activities more as a family and not worry about sippy cups and diapers. But then there are those sprinklings of moments like I had last night where I want time to stop. Henry colored a Buzz Lightyear picture, wrote the work "toy" without me having to show him how, and Harper was feeding her baby a bottle and dancing her around. 
Of course today is a new day. Harper is still sleeping so the world still seems lovely and peaceful (ha!) and I'm sure even within the next 30 minutes someone will yell, someone will demand milk, there will be some (or lots) of crying, but seriously, I am so thankful for my little family.I am so undeserving, but am so thankful.

I love 'em.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

First Pinterest Project

Man, I am loving Pinterest! 
I have to say I'm actually pretty glad I didn't sign up until after our kitchen was done. I was already overwhelmed with all the decisions I had to make...I would have been a mess finding picture after picture after picture of amazing kitchens I would have wanted and not being able to decide which to pick.
But anyways, I've "pinned" tons of fun ideas and this is the first one I actually did.

My version:

This toy box is pretty beat was my at my parent's house for a long time. I had painted it navy about a year ago.  So i put on some masking tape. Didn't even measure.

Had some leftover gray paint that we used in the basement and that I used on our kitchen doors. 
Removed the tape and voila!

When I painted it navy I didn't do any prep work or add any poly, so when I took off the tape some of the paint peeled off, but I actually kind of like it:

But really, I'm not even going to pretend it's anywhere near as cool as the inspiration, but it was "free" and took about 30 minutes. Can't beat that!


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