Thursday, November 18, 2010

Got a blog? Get free cards!

Shutterfly is offering bloggers 50 free 5X7 greeting cards this Christmas.  Check out the offer here.  We used Shutterfly for our cards last year and I was really happy with how they turned out! In fact, they looked like this !

Here are a few new Christmas Card designs that I think are pretty cute:
Most Wonderful Time of the Year
It's a Wonderful Life
Oh Holy Night

Shutterfly also offers other cute personalized goods such as
Head on over to Shutterfly to check it all out!

Joe and I chose Shutterfly last year because I wanted a photo card and Joe wanted a card that would fold like the traditional style card. They offered us a happy compromise. I don't think we'll start doing a Christmas letter...yet! I look forward to writing one of those someday though! With all the ages of our children and what they have been up to- that will be so fun.

It's funny to think how much has changed since we sent our our last card! We both have new jobs, we found Stella, we've moved once, and now we're moving again into our first house!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Better After!

Since we just bought a house we are working on collecting some furniture.  Joe and I have spent the last 8-9 years living in furnished apartments and dorm rooms so all we have we really have is a  plethora of book shelves, a mattress, and a box spring.  We have a ways to go.  This is why, I decided to peruse, Rollanet!  It turns out our fellow Rollaonians have boycotted Craig's List... in favor of Rolla Net:.  I wish I would have realized this about a year ago... I have spent a fair amount of time searching Craig's List in vain for anything on sale within a hundred miles of Rolla. Go figure- I was recently clued in on Rolla's preferred on-line classifieds server, so on we go... I purchased the following bedroom set... there are 5 pieces total.  Apparently I didn't get a before picture of all the pieces...

Nice and sturdy- but just a little too 1985 for my taste!  Using the process described here:  Here's what I did to amend this...
Step One:  Remove the hardware:

Step 2:  Apply 2 coats of primer.  I used Kilz Odorless Spray Primer.  This dries in about one hour.
Step 3:  Apply 3 coats of paint.  I used Valspar Interior Exterior Gloss in Antique White.  This dries in about 20 minutes.

Step 3:  Using a paint brush, apply a thin coat of Valspar Interior Faux Finish.  This finish needs to be tinted when you buy it.   I had it tinted "New Black" at Lowe's.  The finish is painted on with a paint brush and then wiped off with a damp cloth.   This finish makes all the etching in this set pop out. 

Step 4:  I spray painted the hardware an oil rubbed bronze. Here's how it all panned out... I don't have an after picture of mirror that goes on top of the long dresser.  It's done... it's just currently crammed away in the townhouse! 

Whew!  I'm pretty happy with it!  However, I don't think I will ever feel the need to spray paint anything ever again...  If you're interested in trying this method I recommend a trip to this blog for more instructions and inspiration:  All Things Thrifty by Brooke

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

New Digs

We bought a house last week!  After looking at on-line real estate postings for the past year, we started actually looking at places about 3 months ago.  We weren't overly serious about house hunting, mostly just attending random open houses.  Then last week, we fell in love with one particular listing and so we contacted the realtor and set up a private showing.  Joe knew right away that we would buy it... I played the role of the patient one, insisting that we look at one more comparable property, just to be sure.  Lucky for Joe, my "comparable property" was really creepy inside! Creepy attic, creepy basement, creepy used to be kitchen, now just a weird room with old cupboards- lol.  So, we confidently went ahead and  put in an offer on first house  the next day during our lunch hour.  It was accepted a few hours later.  I love it because it had wood floors, a white kitchen, and cute red doors- which are good luck!  Oh yes- fun cultural fact- people in Asia paint their doors red right before Asian New Year in hopes of good luck and good tidings in the coming year  Joe liked the basement and the big backyard.  I think we both like the fact it's charming and unique feel, the size, and the price.  Here are some pictures... PS- this is not our stuff!

The pictures don't show everything.  There are 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a big laundry room, and a bunch of sheds outside.

The current owner is an artist that  runs a business out of the basement- It looks like she has done pretty well- her stuff has been featured in a few different magazines.  She did some cute artsy stuff in the house too- there is a distressed door in the master bedroom and if you look closely at  the kitchen curtains- they are hanging from bent forks and spoons.  There is a secret thing in the house too!  What is it?  I'm not telling- you'll have to come visit us after we close if you want to find out- hehehe:)  December 10th- we'll be good to go! 

Stay tuned for... a before and after of our new bedroom set I refinished last weekend! 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Oh my, Apple Pie!

Well- it's been a long day!  I wasn't feeling too good today... this past Friday evening I went into Urgent Care and walked out with 10 days of anitbiotics.  What do I have?  I don't know- not ear infection like I thought.  The  nurse practioner said she "did not trust my throat" followed by a long monologue on how she is dissatisfied with our nation's outdated higher education requirements.  Meanwhile- she struggled with the lab computer- eventrally she explained that she had been confusing the backspace with the enter key.  And out I walkd with amoxycillin sans throat swab or true diagnosis.  Weird. Also weird- not being able to hear much of anything because my my ears are all whaked out.  Humph:(

But anyway- I'll survive!  Here's what's cooking this last week:

Betty Crocker Scrumptious Apple Pie
2 cups Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons shortening
4 to 6 tablespoons cold water

1/3 to 1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
8 cups thinly sliced peeled tart apples (8 medium)
2 tablespoons butter or margarine

In medium bowl, mix 2 cups flour and 1 teaspoon salt. Cut in shortening, using pastry blender (or pulling 2 table knives through ingredients in opposite directions), until particles are size of small peas. Sprinkle with cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with fork until all flour is moistened and pastry almost cleans side of bowl (1 to 2 teaspoons more water can be added if necessary).

Gather pastry into a ball. Divide in half; shape into 2 flattened rounds on lightly floured surface. Wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate about 45 minutes or until dough is firm and cold, yet pliable. This allows the shortening to become slightly firm, which helps make the baked pastry more flaky. If refrigerated longer, let pastry soften slightly before rolling.

Heat oven to 425°F. With floured rolling pin, roll one pastry round into round 2 inches larger than upside-down 9-inch glass pie plate. Fold pastry into fourths; place in pie plate. Unfold and ease into plate, pressing firmly against bottom and side.

In large bowl, mix sugar, 1/4 cup flour, the cinnamon, nutmeg and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Stir in apples until well mixed. Spoon into pastry-lined pie plate. Cut butter into small pieces; sprinkle over filling. Trim overhanging edge of pastry 1/2 inch from rim of plate.

Roll other round of pastry into 10-inch round. Fold into fourths and cut slits so steam can escape. Unfold top pastry over filling; trim overhanging edge 1 inch from rim of plate. Fold and roll top edge under lower edge, pressing on rim to seal; flute as desired. Cover edge with 2- to 3-inch strip of foil to prevent excessive browning.

Bake 40 to 50 minutes or until crust is brown and juice begins to bubble through slits in crust, removing foil for last 15 minutes of baking. Serve warm if desired.

Did I make my own pie crust?  Heck no, the world gives us these things in the grocery store.  However, I did use these to cut cute little leaf shapes into my pie:
They were a gift from Joe for... our anniversary maybe?  I think that was it- they have these shapes and more fun designs at Williams Sonoma. 

What else is new? Well... I am headed back to school for my Doctorate in Higher Ed Leadership.  Right now I am studying for the GRE (again- did you know your scores expire?) and pulling together all of my application materials.  The first two years will mean traveling for class on Wednesdays nights and taking the whole month of June off for class.  But- by age 30, I'll be done- woot!  I'm excited- I love to learn, so why not get back on the proverbial horse and get back to school?  But, I'm anxious as well- 2 years is a long time to devote all your vacation to educational pursuits. But, I think it will be a good invenstment and a valuable experience. So, here goes nothing- a deep breath and a leap. 

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Harvest Baking and Good Read

It's officially autumn!  I can't say it really feels like it yet in Missouri, but that doesn't stop me from getting into the spirit of things with a little pumpkin baking!  Here are are a few recipes I tried this afternoon...
Pumpkin Nutella Bread
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1/3 cup water
1 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon hazelnut extract
8 tablespoons Nutella (2 tablespoons per mini loaf)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 4 mini loaf pans with cooking spray. Set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, oil, water, pumpkin, eggs, and extracts. Whisk until smooth and combined.

4. Slowly stir in the flour mixture. Mix until ingredients are combined.

5. Pour the batter into the mini loaf pans, making sure batter is evenly divided. Drop 2 heaping tablespoons of Nutella onto each loaf pan. Swirl the Nutella into the pumpkin batter with a knife. Place the loaf pans onto a baking sheet and place in the oven. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

6. Place the loaf pans on a wire rack. Cool for 15 minutes in the pan and then carefully remove the loaves. Cool completely before slicing.

*Note-You can make regular size loaves. This recipe should make 2 8×4 loaves. Adjust baking time to about 60 minutes.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oi
l 2 eggs
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1.Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease and flour muffin pan or use paper liners.

2.Mix sugar, oil, eggs. Add pumpkin and water. In separate bowl mix together the baking flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt.. Add wet mixture and stir in chocolate chips.

3.Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes.
And if you're wondering- yes I staged that picture with the nutella and the apple candle- lol.  What else is new around here... I am reading this-
Those of you who know me realize that I am currently not a Republican and probably never will be.  So why read a book by a Republican politician's daughter?  I saw her interviewed on a late night talk show and was intrigued by her perspective.  This book gives me a little hope for the future of the GOP and my fellow twenty-somethings.  Maybe the Millennial wave of the conservative right will put the elitist and exclusive characteristics of the Republican party to bed for good.  And maybe women in their 20's will progressively refrain from yielding to the cultural insinuation that it's best to be seen or heard.  Cheers to a lady with a lot good things to say.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

About 4 Things...

Nothing reminds me more of fall than the smell of apple cinnamon roasting... er- dehydrating!  Joe and I picked up on my Dad' tradition for the first time this year- on a much smaller scale.  Smaller because Missouri apples are pretty small and we don't really have a desire to run a 3 dehydrator 24/7 apple shop.  If you want to try this- it's pretty easy!  You chop the apples, shake on some cinnamon, and wait for a while for the dehydrator to do it's thing and you're done!

We made some fruit roll-ups too!  I have to be honest here- Joe did all the work while I documented the experience- hehe.  What a guy:)  Here's what I think he did... chopped apples go in the blender along with a package of raspberries and some white grape peach juice.  This mixture gets poured on a fruit roll up tray (you normally have to purchase this separately- you can find them on-line) and put on the dehydrator overnight.

Hmmm- what else have we been doing... here are the 3 pictures I submitted to the photo contest...

We'll see how that goes!  Oh- and here's What I Wore Wednesday- only got one day recorded and it was a Monday, but I give myself an A for that effort...  Linking up with Pleated Poppy again...

Where I wore it:  Work- crazy amounts of meetings that day...
Dress: Target Clearance- bought like 2 or 3 years ago and just took the tags off this week.
Cardi:  Banana Republic
Tank: Target
Belt:  From a bridesmaid dress- shout out to Cat Standfuss!
Necklace- from that same bridesmaid ensemble
Tights- TJ Maxx
Boots: Target on-line

One last thing- Happy Birthday Mom- 29 and fabulous!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Keeping it Real

Well everybody- if you read my last post, you konw I'm entering a photography contest.  Turns out that if you want to win said contest, you need to start by taking pictures of the right landmark.  LOL- here are some new images- let me know what you think!  I can submit 3.  I didn't get to spend nearly as much time on these- such is life:)