Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Holy Guacamole

Or just regular guacamole, but still.  I think my taste buds are changing.  Is that a thing?  I've never liked guacamole before.  Maybe it's the texture.  Maybe it's because I just didn't think I liked avocados.  Maybe it's something totally different.  I don't know.  But what I do know is that hubs and I were recently visiting friends of ours who made guacamole and I decided to try it.  I then proceeded to help finish it off.

And then two days later, I remembered that there were avocados, lime juice, and salt in the guacamole, and something else.  And instead of consulting pinterest, I immediately texted our friend who confirmed that it was diced tomatoes.  Of course!


I quickly went to the grocery store and picked up the supplies.  It took about 15 minutes from start to finish for this recipe, so that is a major plus around here.  

Ingredients
2 avocados, peeled and mashed
1 can diced tomatoes and green chiles, drained
1 Tbs lime juice
salt and pepper to taste

Directions
Mix ingredients in a medium-large bowl.  Adjust as needed.  

Ultimately, this is kind of a throw it all together, guess, check, and revise recipe for me.  Above is the basic ingredients list.  I kept trying it until it was just right.  You may want more or less of any of the above.  

I added salt and pepper last and probably ended up with about a tsp (maybe a little less) of salt and just a hint of pepper.  

This is a great and healthy treat that is sure to be a hit at your next gathering...or weekend at home.  :)

Monday, April 28, 2014

A Year Later: Home Tour 2014 - Master Bedroom

In case you weren't around when we first shared the photos of our home, I think it suffices to say that the previous owners really liked to paint.  They liked bright colors that are different in every room.  And the master bedroom was no exception.  

This was one of the spaces that I knew right away had to be re-done before we moved our furniture in.  

It's pink.  And there is a darker pink accent wall.  It's fun, but I wanted more calm.



We did really love the vaulted ceiling in this room though.  The high ceilings make the space feel so much bigger and more roomy.  But the pink had to go.  So we went with a nice, cool, relaxing green (Olympic's Weeping Willow).  


We actually do have a bed frame.  Except that we bought our furniture from a used furniture store.  And the previous owners must have been smokers.  Really heavy smokers.  So we quickly moved that out to our garage where the smell isn't noticeable and have begun the process of cleaning it and  are hopeful that we'll be able to save it.  Until then though...we're using the factory metal frame and it works just fine.  I've been more hesitant to decorate the walls though until we get the bed back in there.  


Fortunately, the bed didn't officially "match" the dresser and chest of drawers and nightstand, so we were able to pretty quickly start using those.  I can't even tell they were used before.  I love the color of the wood so much.  

And since we're in the master bedroom, it seems worth it to take a trip down memory lane to the master bathroom.  In purple.  Or lavender, but still.  

For this space, we went with the same paint color as the living room to make this space more neutral and not so contrasted with the green we had just added in the bedroom.  


Then we added these little shelves and a towel hook by the bathtub.  And I'm tempted to create another little mini-gallery here, too.  


I really love that these spaces are more neutral and calming now, but it doesn't feel like we've done a ton in here.  

Some of the things I'd still like to work on here are the following:

Get the bed frame cleaned and installed.  I think this is pretty self-explanatory.

Decide on decor for the walls.  Because I just want to.

Do something with the window in the bathroom.  Part of me wants to have curtains and the other part of me thinks not in the bathroom.  What I think would be really great would be to have the window frosted for some privacy.  I love to have the natural light coming in, but can't handle the blinds being opened where you can see in.  In the grand scheme of things though, this is pretty low on my house list.

Our guest bedroom is up next.  And if you loved the before photos of the master, you'll really love this one.  (Spoiler alert:  wall decals)

Until then!


Sunday, April 27, 2014

Sunday Currently


Can we just all agree that this weather has been lovely?  Seriously though.  I want to be outside all day long and I'm thankful for the sunshine that allows me to do just that.

I'm actually just turning my computer on now for the first time this entire weekend...I know, not the most blogger-like thing in the whole world, but I have had the most wonderful time hanging out with hubs this weekend.

Relaxation is a very good thing and I'm thankful to have had a whole weekend full.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Bedroom Decor Ideas: Guest Post from Yorkshire Linen

Since we're in the business of home updates around here, I thought it would be a great time to share a lovely reader post!  Today, I'm happy to share a post with you from Kathy Joe.  Kathy Joe blogs over at Yorkshire Linen and comes to us all the way from the UK.  Kathy Joe writes about all kinds of decor and DIY ideas and today she is sharing tips to update your bedroom to create a pretty, cozy, and unique space!


Hi my name is Kathy Joe and I have a never ending passion for home decor. It gives me an outlet to explore my creativity and polish my instincts. I am so happy to be guest posting here. You can say hello to me here.

8 Ways to Achieve a Pretty Bedroom - with curtains and more
What most of us look for in a bedroom is a place to sleep, somewhere to be private and alone and a place to keep the things that we do not want to have on general display elsewhere in the home. It is an added bonus if our private sanctuary can be an attractive and welcoming place too. Bedroom curtains are very important as they provide not only privacy and security, but they add a great opportunity to enhance and extend the décor scheme too. Here is how to make the best of your bedroom so that you have somewhere relaxing and attractive all to yourself at the end of the working day!

Colour Pops
Bursts and spurts of unexpected colour and colours in unusual combinations can create a wonderfully welcoming effect, especially if it is carried through in the bedding, curtains and all the bedroom accessories. This type of colour scheme can save the bedroom from becoming too bland and neutral and provides layers of depth to décor.

Patterns and designs
Do not be scared to introduce swirls and repetitive patterns to your bedroom – but do take care not to overdo it! A little patterning can go a very long way, and the smaller your bedroom is the less busy the pattern should be. However, even a small amount of vivacious design can provide a tremendous boost to a bedroom theme and colour scheme. Patterned curtains are an excellent décor tool as they can transform the room with the simple act of being opened or closed!

Bold Stripe
Stripes are a fabulous way to give your bedroom an injection of colour and liveliness! If you want to make a statement in your room, opt for wide stripes in strongly contrasting, yet harmonious colour to infuse the room with a pretty layering of colour and depth. Curtains can be vertically striped to add height to the room, while horizontal bands stretch out the internal dimensions of the room beautifully. For bold choices of curtains, I strongly recommend Yorkshire Linen Co.

Go for Glamour
Make your bedroom ooze with gorgeous glamour by using sensual fabrics and textures throughout the space. Rich velvet or softly billowing silk curtains help to create your very own private cocoon in which anything can happen.

Strong Contrasts
Make a strikingly attractive room with strong contrasting colours in spacious blocks. Care must be taken not to let this colour scheme get overrun with fussiness – it needs to be calm not busy, so keep patterns to an absolute minimum (and preferably banish them altogether!) This décor style is great for people who abhor fussiness, curls and frills, but want an attractive and appealing décor theme for their bedroom.

Pretty Natural
Most of us love nature – the sweet singing of the birds, the sight of little lambs and calves frolicking in the fields in spring, and the lush tranquil greenery of the countryside gives us a sense of well-being and peace. Bring this feeling home by filling your bedroom with the pleasant sights of the countryside and enhance it further will natural air fresheners and fresh flowers. For decorating my room with fresh flowers, I always opt for Asda Flowers.

Revert to Childhood
Sometimes the ‘grown-up’ world can be a hard and unforgiving place and we just want to escape back into the safe and protected world of our childhoods! Give your bedroom one or two nostalgic touches that recall the best parts of your youth to soften the atmosphere and provide a welcoming and cosy air.

Beautiful bedrooms are achievable, with just a little ingenuity and imagination – all you need is some time, a modest budget and the desire to create the prettiest bedroom ever!
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What are your favorite tips?  I love the glamour one; so fun!  Thanks so much, Kathy Joe for sharing!  

I'll be back on Monday to share more updates from our home.  I actually took all the photos of our master bedroom this week and will be working on getting those posted for Monday!  Be sure to stop back by to see how we've changed things!  (spoiler alert:  We didn't keep the walls hot pink...)

Do you have decor or style tips?  Maybe a thrift tip or DIY tutorial to share?  Feel free to contact me for guest post opportunities!  I would love to feature you!  

Monday, April 21, 2014

Signs of Spring

Happy Monday, friends!  I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter weekend!  Our was packed to the brim and I was beyond thankful to have the opportunity to celebrate the death and resurrection of Christ with friends and family!

Last week, I started our One Year Later Home Tour and shared the work we've done in our living room and some of my plans for that space moving forward.  Today, we're going in the front yard where we just recently finished what felt like a pretty massive make over.

When we bought our house last year, we were basically in maintenance mode on the yard.  We were focused on painting the interior and I wanted to give everything a full year to bloom so I could see what we were working with.  And in our front yard, we had lovely little brick edging and white stones/seashells around the front yard bushes like so:



And I don't know, maybe you like it.  But I really wasn't in love.  And hubs didn't particularly care to run the weed eater near those bricks either...

I've been really wanting a change and I was thrilled to have a few warm days without rain recently to fill those spaces in with wonderful, dark brown mulch.  

Progress:  


We ended up keeping some of the tarps and rocks under the mulch, but still moved a lot to the backyard.  We dumped them and then raked them out smooth under the deck to help prevent soil runoff under there.  

And the results: 




I love it so much.  I think the bright colors of the flowers and bushes pop so much more against the dark brown!  We've also got some wonderful flowers that are starting to come up through the ground again that I am getting really excited about seeing bloom!  Soon enough.  

It certainly was not an easy project, but one that I am so thankful to have completed.  It was really fun for us to do this project together and it definitely took both of us to get it done.  

Happy Spring!!  



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 (it is actually my favorite color green), 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.  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 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.    

- 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 fits...it will probably be a guess, check, and revise situation...it took 3 separate trips to Target to decide on cream curtains(plain, cream curtains at that) for the bedroom.

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 hand...so 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.

INGREDIENTS
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)

DIRECTIONS
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.
11 
Her husband has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.
12 
She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.
13 
She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.
14 
She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.
15 
She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants.
16 
She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 
She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 
She sees that her trading is profitable,
    and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 
In her hand she holds the distaff
    and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 
She opens her arms to the poor
    and extends her hands to the needy.
21 
When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
    for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 
She makes coverings for her bed;
    she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 
Her husband is respected at the city gate,
    where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 
She makes linen garments and sells them,
    and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 
She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.
26 
She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 
She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 
Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
29 
“Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
30 
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 
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 it.is.beautiful 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!

PIZZA CRESCENT ROLLS

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.  

INGREDIENTS
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)

DIRECTIONS
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.  

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The money talk | Talking to your spouse about finances

It's been a while since I've blogged about anything lately thrift and/or budgeting/finances and since it's tax season, I think it's high time to write another post on it.  You might remember the budgeting series from a while back, which was a real hit and one that I really enjoyed writing.  (In case you missed it, you can catch it here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.)

For me, budgeting is about stewardship.  It's about being responsible with the resources we've been given and ultimately leveraging them to for eternal things.

Budgeting is also about protecting our marriage.  There have been countless studies showing that one of the most common fights between couples are about money and frankly, we're not interested in being a part of that statistic.  This doesn't mean that we always automatically agree, but it does mean that we're guided by the same set of values and core beliefs and we set our budget around that.

When the series went live, I had several people write to me that shared my opinions, many offering tips and ideas of their own, and others ask me "how do I get my spouse on board with this?" or, "My husband is a big spender and I'm not"  And so I'd like to write a follow up to the budgeting series.  Today I want to share some tips on talking to your spouse about finances.  Because you have to talk about it.



1. Set goals together.  How you spend your money reveals a lot about the things that you value.  When you create a budget together, you're having a much bigger conversation than "how much money can we spend?"  How you allocate funds speaks to what you think is important.  Maybe that's giving, or retirement, or maintaining a vibrant social life.  You'll naturally want to allocate more money towards the things you care the most about.  And because of this, it's important to establish your financial goals together.  Hubs and I keep our goals written out for the short term (within 3 months), medium term (6 months) and longer term (1+years).  Our list has everything on it from "plant new grass in front yard" to "have $X put away for retirement".  Setting these goals together helps both of us stay on track in the other areas of our budget.  We have a clear vision for what we'd like our money to accomplish and we are better equipped to work together toward the same end.

2. Know and discuss your own spending habits.  Oh, this one is important.  Self awareness goes a long way.  Men and women are different.  Hubs and I have different preferences and habits and thank goodness for that.  I'm way more likely, for example, to grab a frozen coffee (even though I know they are overpriced...) or a new pair of shoes because they're on a great deal, and just because.  Hubs is more calculated.  He likes to go months without spending very much, and then get a really awesome thing, like a weekend trip with the guys.  Knowing this ahead of time is also helpful.  Even though hubs doesn't see much value at all in my Starbucks, he never criticizes me for buying it.  And when he spends his entire month's fun budget in a weekend, I'm not getting made about it.  (Our budget includes lines for both of us to have discretionary "fun" money each month.)  We both know our budget and are free to exercise our own discretion about how we spend it.

3. Don't keep secrets.  And lastly, I think this one is THE. MOST. IMPORTANT.  So important.  Don't keep secrets.  It's important that you both know where your money is going.  From a practical standpoint, it's important that you both know how your finances are managed.  But equally important, it's necessary that you be transparent about your money with one another to maintain trust with one another.  I think it's totally fine to disagree sometimes.  And frankly, I think it's very likely that you will disagree sometimes.  But I don't think it's very wise to just decide to make important decisions without seeking input from your spouse.  We're trying to protect our marriage from money fights, remember?  And because money can often be such a touchy subject, if we lose trust in this area of our lives, that is very likely to trickle down into other areas of our marriage as well.  What if your spouse just "doesn't get it?"  "He just won't get on board."  Be patient.  Be transparent.  You don't both have to be super excited to budget.  And it's okay if one of you takes on the primary responsibility of maintaining the budget.  But whatever you decide, you can't do it behind your spouse's back.

And that's all I have to say about that.  What are your tips for talking about money with your spouse?