Friday, July 29, 2011

best life

Yesterday, during our lunchtime phone call, Steve asked what I was doing for the rest of the day. 

I said, "Making a chocolate pie and sewing a birthday dress for Rose."

Then I realized that I have the best life.

Do you ever do that?  Do you ever find yourself doing something so simple and mundane and then it hits you that you love this?  That you are absolutely crazy for baking pies or sewing or gardening or whatever it is for you. 

I'm trying to do it more.  Trying not to get caught up in the busyness of every day so much that I can't appreciate the small blessings.

Like Steve and I playing old school battleship on paper the other night and having so much fun that we stayed up past our bedtime.

Like an unexpected phone call from my best friend, where we got to talk for a whole hour, uninterrupted. 

Like the quiet in the house during the day so that I can hear every bird and cicada while I work.

Like a weekend, stretching out in front of me, full of sunshine and Steve and chocolate pie. 

See you Monday!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

we eat like kings

One of the best things about summertime, if you ask me, is how easy it is to eat well without a lot of work.  The availability of fresh ingredients combined with the natural desire to eat cold foods makes preparing meals a snap. 

This summer, we've been eating a lot of grilled pineapple as a snack on the weekends.  I cut thick slices and Steve grills them and we eat on the patio. 

I've also been really into tacos.  Fish tacos, beef tacos, chicken tacos- if it goes in a tortilla and is covered with cheese and salsa, I'm in. 

Lately, we've been trying to eat out less, so I'm always looking for super easy dinners to fix on the weekends.  Last Sunday, I tried out this recipe for avocado egg salad.  Oh.  My. 
I think that the salad on its own is fantastic, but serve it up on homemade bread with thick slices of ripe tomato and some chives from the garden and you've got yourself a top 10 dinner. 

For breakfast, you know how we roll.  I simply cannot get enough of these bowls of goodness we've been eating every morning.  Suddenly, cereal and bagels seem so.... flat. 

Even the beverages are better in the summer.  Recently, while looking through a magazine, I saw this idea for water flavored with fruit and herbs.  We tried it with pineapple and mint.  While drinking my pineapple mint water with a little mint leaf on top, I definitely felt like I was somewhere fancy, doing something exciting, and not just sitting in the back yard. 

And that's something I've been thinking about lately, with regards to our food.  How meals can be an event and how food and drink are something to be savored and lingered over.  I've also realized that the cooler stuff I am able to make at home, the less we want to go out.  This week, I mastered lattes, both hot and iced, using a very basic coffee maker and a sauce pan.  I'd like to thank my three years in Girl Scouts for my spirit of ingenuity.  And my six months at Starbucks for my general knowledge of coffee-based beverages. 

I feel a little sheepish admitting this, but just so you understand that I'm not some sort of cooking robot and am really quite regular- tonight for dinner we're having canned soup.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

kayla + david = germany

I've never thrown a shower before for someone who was leaving the country.  After planning the obvious things (food, decorations), we were left with the question: What will we do if there are no gifts to open?
Kayla and David will be purchasing their wedding gifts on the other side (other side=Germany) and did not do a traditional registry.  So the challenge was to come up with some fun, memorable, non-gifty shower activities. 

Helllloooo photobooth. 

I have been checking out photobooths online for a while now and was just dying to try one out.  Oh Happy Day, one of my favorite blogs, has lots of great examples of fun props and backdrops to use.  We even found these amazing printable props there- everything from mustaches to sunglasses to bow ties.  We printed the ones we liked best on cardstock and then hot glued wooded kabob skewers to them for handles- super easy and cheap! 

For the backdrop, we used two big canvas drop cloths that we bought for painting.  We strung them between a tree and the house and weighted the corners down with rocks. 

And we hung the balloon banner.  Sigh.  This is what it looked like before they all started popping. 

Along with the printable props, we also set out some hats, scarves, aprons, and other things we found around the house. 

Doesn't the bride-to-be look smashing in a monocle? 

We had a few younger ladies at the shower and I think they were glad to be able to participate in the pictures.

If you're wondering how we lured people outside to have their picture taken in 100 degree heat, all the credit goes to this guy in the "Press" hat.  He can be very persuasive.  Just ask me- I married him.

I'm so thankful that all these ladies were willing to get out there and be silly so that we can make Kayla a super cool scrapbook.  What a thin, easily packable gift. 

I have known Kayla since she was 13 and have loved watching her grow up.  She has a kind and gentle spirit and a wise heart and I am so excited for her as she begins this new life adventure. 

Aside from taking silly pictures, we also ate some great food.  The shower was in the morning, so we opted for a brunch menu.  Here's what we had:

Granola and Yogurt Parfaits (recipe here)
Pound Cake
Mini Quiche
Fruit Salad
Pimento Cheese and crackers


I'm excited to sit down with Erica and Star (my lovely co-hosts) this week to work on the scrapbook.  Aside from that, I'm sewing away and posting new items in the shop!  Be sure to jump over and check them out

Monday, July 25, 2011

scenes from the weekend

Saturday morning at 6am, we were tying balloons together and being thankful for our air compressor. 

Things only got more fun from there. 

Unfortunately, it was mainly Steve and I who got to enjoy the balloon banner in its entirety, as the brown ones kept popping in the heat.  We got the idea from Design Mom's blog and I would love to try it again sometime.  Say, on a day that is cooler than 100 degrees. 

We were throwing a shower (along with some other friends) for sweet Kayla who is getting married next month.  It was a delightful morning and we ended up with tons of fun pictures that I will be sharing later in the week, once I've had time to go through them all. 

But until then, I'll wet your whistle with this:

I probably don't need to point this out, but it was not your typical shower.  As Steve later commented about the ladies in this picture- "They were really into it."

After the shower, we gave ourselves the rest of the weekend to relax and do mostly nothing.  It was fantastic.  I checked out my newest Better Homes and Gardens magazine and almost finished our library book.  (Yes, our library book.  We like to read the same books sometimes, okay?  We're bffs.)

We also ran through the sprinkler, watched the birds, and watered the plants. 

All in all it was a grand weekend and it has left me missing my sidekick more than ever today while he is at work.  I'm keeping busy though with laundry, library, and a bit of sewing.  Check back in tomorrow and I'll have some more party pictures and the menu to share! 

Friday, July 22, 2011

what I produced this week

I love it when I get to the end of the week and have something to show for my time.  This week, aside from painting the coffee table, I also made a new day bag for the shop and baked some delicious bread. 

This was my first time using bread flour instead of all-purpose flour and I could definitely tell the difference.  I read that bread flour has a higher protein content and yields a chewier bread and crisper crust.  It's true.  I don't think I could go back, now that I've experienced the chewy and the crispy. 

I'm excited about the new day bag and can't wait to get some more pictures of it.  I love this pattern and like to keep at least one in the shop at all times.  The size of this bag makes it great for showcasing fabric with a large print- you may recognize this one from here.   The interior is a lovely rosy pink and the bottom is a sturdy black canvas, meaning it can stand up to whatever floor you choose to set it on. 

I keep thinking that I will make a mini version of the day bag- a 9 hour bag, perhaps?- but then every time I remember how nice it is to be able to fit every single thing I need in that one bag and not feel like it's overflowing.  It's also a great size for books and notebooks- I don't like it when they poke out the top.  As you can see, I have very specific bag needs.  I like to think that most people do. 

I am spending today mostly in the kitchen, where I will be making granola and mint tea and lots of other treats for the bridal shower that is taking place, right here, tomorrow morning.  And there's a good chance I'll be snacking on these blackberries while I'm in there.  I love berries that still have a few stems left on them. 

Hope your weekend is super summery!  We're planning a pool day for Sunday!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

note to self

Dear Lauren,

Please stop buying semi-gloss paint.  I know that you think you like it.  I know that you always put up a good fight and argue Steve away from that flat stuff he wants to buy.  But I beg of you: STOP AT THE SATIN FINISH!   Do not go any glossier! 

You forget, every time, about how tricky it is to get a smooth surface without brushstrokes.  You forget about how the reflection off the paint will change the color, rendering it completely different that the color you spent hours deciding on. 

I know that you wanted a coffee table the color of... well, coffee.  A rich, deep brown.  You even picked a color called "Barista".  What could be more coffee than that? 

And look what we ended up with- something roughly the color of milk chocolate.  You will now be setting all your drinks and magazines on a giant Hershey bar. 

You'll probably get used to it. 

I'm sure that the color will grow on you and that one day in the not so distant future, you will even come to think that this was exactly what you wanted the coffee table to look like.  Therein lies the danger of the glossy paint- it woos you back every time. 

Stand strong.  Remain firm in your decision to never again purchase glossy paint.  Re-read this note before making any major painting decisions. 

Now stop staring at the coffee table and get back to work.  That fabric on the ironing board isn't going to cut itself. 

Best wishes for a brighter painting future,


Monday, July 18, 2011

mushroom theory

I have a theory about mushrooms.  It's one of those theories about nature that you know can't really be true, but you still picture it happening.  Do you have those too? 

I can just never believe how quickly mushrooms both appear and disappear in the yard.  One day- just grass.  The next day- a 12" mushroom that looks like it could house half the Smurf population. 

So whenever I see them literally pop up over night, I picture this little colony of mushroom makers (who look suspiciously like Smurfs, now that I think about it) under the ground.  They work super hard and create these huge mushrooms and then, when they're all finished, they push it up through the earth all in one piece.  And always at night. 

Then after a day or two (it's never very long), they pull it back under ground again.  Again, under cloak of darkness. 

I do realize how outlandish this sounds, but I continue to picture it nonetheless. 

While I was in our neighbor's yard the other day taking pictures of his mushrooms, I also admired his crepe myrtles.  In the summer, I mark the passing of the months with the crepe myrtle's bloom- purple first, then white, then pink.  By the time the pink comes out, I know that summer is winding down, the days are getting shorter again and the next big holiday is Labor Day.  Pink = summer's last hurrah. 

And while the hydrangea bushes that are planted in our back yard finished blooming over a month ago, the cuttings on the front porch are having a "last hurrah" of their own.  They weren't established enough yet to bloom at the correct time this year, so they are bucking convention and blooming in July.  I love a determined plant. 

Today I am starting the process of painting our coffee table again.  I loved the red, but am excited about the deep brown that we picked out.  I'll share some pictures later in the week once I have it back in the house.  For now, the table and I are sweating it out in the garage with an oscillating fan, dreaming of cooler days.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Friday list

Wake up (reluctantly).

Make big bowls of fruit and yogurt for breakfast.

Send Steve off to work (with my cell phone, unknownst to either of us).

Start mowing the lawn. 

Unclog the mower about six times. 

Find a nest of bunnies in the front yard.  Try not to mow bunnies that are leaping all around. 

Finally give up mowing the front yard- see above.

Mow the back yard.  Finish mowing just as the rain begins.  Cheer a little.

Start making peach pie.  Eat some peaches while working. 

Roll out crust.  Cut lattice top with this fancy crust cutting thingy.  Wonder who gave me this handy tool. 

Finally get crust in pie dish. 

Check the clock and note that the recipe says it takes "30 minutes hands on time".  Wonder if I am an especially slow pie maker.

After noticing the time, wonder why Steve hasn't called yet. 

Remember that Steve has my phone.

Pour peaches into crust.  Squish them down a little so they fit.

Study the picture in the magazine and attempt to make a lattice top.  Take lots of pictures of the lattice top because I'm pretty proud of it. 

Finally clean up kitchen while pie is baking. 

Decide that ice cream is needed to go with the pie.  Start making vanilla ice cream.

Admit that what I really want is vanilla bean ice cream.  Steal a vanilla bean from the jar in the pantry where it is supposed to be soaking in vodka and making vanilla extract.  Wonder about the effects of vodka on the ice cream.  Decide that they can only be positive.

Scrape seeds out of vanilla beans and mix everything together in the ice cream maker. 

Pull the pie out of the oven.  Drool a little. 

Wonder if I have to wait for Steve to get home to eat some. 

Feel inspired to vacuum the whole house while it smells like pie.  Even get out the attachments and vacuum cobwebs out of the corners.  Wonder why we have so many cobwebs that it appears we are living in a haunted house. 

Check my list for the day.  Note that I have only completed three items, but it is already 4:00.  Feel a bit defeated. 

Glance at the pie.  Spirits are boosted. 

I'm beat, but before I begin my weekend, here are some of the recipes from Mom's party:
Smoky Chicken Barbecue Kabobs

Veggie Potato Salad

Blue Cheese Bacon Dip

The dip is an old favorite, but the other two were new to me and both really good.  The potato salad is especially great for a big group! 

Hope your weekend is as sweet as peach pie!


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