Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A year later: Home Tour 2014 - Living Room

Happy Wednesday!  A month ago today, we celebrated a year of being in our home.  If you've been around here since then, you might remember our closing day here.

In so many ways, it's wild to think that it's already been a year, and in other ways, it feels like, of course, it's been a year - we've done so much here!

We've made so many changes around here that I'd like to share the updates with you in a little home tour series focusing on different parts of the house for each segment.  Today's post features the living room since that's the room we spend so much of our time and do most of our entertaining (in conjunction with the kitchen of course.)

Before we get started though, let's take a minute to remember what this space used to look like, shall we?

We really loved all of the natural light from those windows and that little alcove to the right by the garage entry (yes, the garage enters into the living room...muddy shoes stay outside, please and thanks.)

And I didn't even hate the green paint, but not knowing what the actual color was, and because it was faded in spots where things had been hanging on the wall, we decided to go with a neutral color for this room, and used Olympic's Vanilla Brandy.  And here's where we are today.  

Looking in from the kitchen
From the entry hallway

I was able to move an old dresser (that I scored for free from Craigslist) down to the garage entry, and am able to use that to display lots of fun photos and hide away all kinds of seasonal decor and craft supplies.  

And of course I hung a mini gallery wall above it.  Forgive the pulls on the dresser.  I just didn't want to invest in pretty pulls when I got it, not knowing how long I would keep it...and now I'm kind of used to the macaroni shaped handles.  :)

I actually think this would be the perfect place to add some beautiful built-ins since it's a part of the living room, but still kind of out of the way.  Having the dresser there for me confirms that the space would work for that, but I'm not ready to commit.  

Some of the updates that I know we want to add in here include (but are not limited to): 

 - Choose, buy, and install a ceiling fan.  You can really see it from these photos, but the ceiling is really high in this room and opens to the upstairs.  I love how open it is, but we also only have 1 thermostat for the house, so I'd love to have a ceiling fan to help bring cool the space and to provide overhead lighting.  

- Paint the fireplace cover black.  I want to get some high heat spray paint to cover the brass on the fireplace.  All black looks so much more updated as far as I'm concerned.  

- Expand the gallery wall.  Since I won't be installing built-ins in the near future, I want to continue working on this little space of a gallery wall.  

- Update the mantel for spring/summer.  I love the sticks, but it's looking a little bit drab for this season.  

- Do something (anything) decorative with the cubbies.  Right now, they are completely functional.  They store things.  And not in a fashionable, beautiful way.  In a movies should be stacked here and the xbox should go here kind of way.  I don't hate it, but it could definitely be improved.  

- Hide the cords from the TV.  

- Curtains?  Not sure if it will make the space feel smaller or more luxe.  Can't decide, but welcome your thoughts.  If we go with curtains, I'm not sure what style best will probably be a guess, check, and revise situation.

We really love this space.  I have had a ball making it ours and a place that we call home.  We've already made lots of wonderful memories here and I look forward to many many more.  

Next week, we'll do the kitchen and the rest of the downstairs.  Then we'll move upstairs.  Can't wait.  Stay tuned.  

Monday, April 14, 2014

Chocolate cake icing

If you've been around here for any length of time, you should know that I like chocolate.  I really like chocolate.

And so the other weekend when I just needed wanted to make a quick, easy, not a big mess treat, I began to look all over town aka Pinterest  for homemade chocolate icing.  I already had an extra box of cake mix left over from the coffee cake I made earlier this year, but wanted to add something special to it.  And so I made cupcakes with homemade icing.

I knew there was butter, milk, powdered sugar, and cocoa required, all of which I had on I basically searched for a simple recipe that used all those things.

I was inspired by this recipe by Lauren's Latest, and made a few minor adjustments.  Another win.

1 cup of butter, softened
1/2 cup of cocoa powder
5 cups of powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla (because I also really like vanilla)
5 tablespoons of milk (you can use more or less to get your desired consistency)

Mix together butter and cocoa together in large bowl until smooth (do not proceed to lick the cocoa spoon before dropping it in the sink.  It's bitter...promise...)
Stir in vanilla and powdered sugar.  (I recommend stirring in powdered sugar a cup at a time to make mixing easier)
Slowly add in milk and mix well until you reach the desired consistency.  

This recipe should ice 24 cupcakes.  I ended up having some left over though, which I stuck in the fridge and proceeded to snack on for the rest of the week.  It tasted so reminiscent of fudge at Christmas.  

And let's be honest.  I only really made the cupcakes for the icing anyway...


Happy Monday, friends!!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Proverbs 31

Just a little encouragement for you wives this weekend. 

A wife of noble character who can find?
    She is worth far more than rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.
She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.
She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.
She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.
She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants.
She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.
She sees that her trading is profitable,
    and her lamp does not go out at night.
In her hand she holds the distaff
    and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
She opens her arms to the poor
    and extends her hands to the needy.
When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
    for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
She makes coverings for her bed;
    she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
Her husband is respected at the city gate,
    where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them,
    and supplies the merchants with sashes.
She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.
She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate. 

Proverbs 31:10-31

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Welcome Spring | {What I Wore}

I am happy to report that spring is back and I hope it's here to stay.  I love the cool mornings and warm, sunny days.  I love to see everything come back to life and start blooming and I love not having to wear 100 layers to keep the blood flowing.

It does get a little bit interesting though when it's still cold walking into the office, but warm leaving.  Nothing a little cardigan and scarf can't handle though.  

I had so much fun with this outfit!  Skinny jeans are from Target (no real surprise there), white tunic top is actually several years old and is by Liz Claiborne via Ross Dress for Less.  That pretty turquoise cardigan (one of my faves!!) was from the clearance rack at Dress Barn and the scarf is from Black Friday at AC Moore (yes, I went to AC Moore on Black Friday...and yes I left with a scarf...)

And the shoes!  Probably my favorite part of this ensemble.  These are actually my first canvas, non lace up shoes and I pretty much love them.  They're from Target also and ended up being just about $12 after a store coupon, Cartwheel, and a final 5% off when I used my red card.  I was going back and forth between these and another pair, but hubs in all his wisdom finally suggested that I "should just get the crazy ones" and I'm really thankful that I did.  

I'm looking forward to wearing these around this season!  

And of course, a little photo outside because outside these days.  I want to just eat, play, and nap out there all day long.  Don't mind the leaves still on the ground.  :)

Many thanks as always for my sweet hubs who kindly takes all these photos.

What are your favorite transition pieces from winter to spring?  Do you have plans for the new season?

Monday, April 7, 2014

Party treats for the big game - pizza crescent rolls

Happy Monday!  Man, it feels good to say that again on the blog.  :)  I posted on Friday for the first time in a month, a shame, I know.  And that came right after confessing how much I had missed blogging.

And yet, here we are again.  The itch is back.  I hope y'all had a lovely weekend and are getting some nice spring weather your way.  It was chilly here yesterday, but warm enough for a nice walk, so no real complaints here.  Today is actually a rainy mess, but it's also Monday so...

All of that aside though, tonight is the big game for NCAA basketball, and while my team isn't in the Championship game and my brackets were busted before the Final Four, I am still excited to share this simple, fun, and tasty party treat with you all!


I originally saw this idea from a terrific food blog, Plain Chicken, and I was happy to bring it to my kitchen.  

I used just 3 ingredients and these were ready in less than 30 minutes.  Huge win for a Saturday afternoon meal, and game day treat.  

1 can of crescent rolls (I always get the big and buttery ones, but that's just me.)
Pepperonis (I used about 6 per crescent, or 48 pieces.  You may use more or less)
String cheese (4 cut in half)

Preheat oven according to instructions on package of crescent rolls (Depending on your brand of rolls)
Roll out crescents as directed and fill with pepperonis and string cheese like so:  

Pop in the oven according to instructions.  
Serve with marinara sauce.  

De-licious.  So simple.  So easy.  Will definitely be doing this again.  

Are you watching the game tonight?  Who are you pulling for? 

For other last minute treat ideas, see here.