Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Eighteen Months

Can you believe our little guy is a year and a half old?! At what age did you switch to saying years instead of months? We keep switching back and forth and I think I'm still on the months side of thing... a year and a half sounds too old...

Will's getting at least the sounds of a lot of words now which is really nice since the number of tantrums have drastically reduced and have been replaced by these crazy happy dances when we get him what he needs right away instead of on the 50 millionth guess.

Right now I'm:
  • Almost willing to wear socks and shoes at the same time!
  • Now kind of saying: shoe, yes, juice/drink (not sure which), cheese, uh-oh and bye-bye
  • Desperately trying to get off the ground when jumping
  • Capable of doing somersaults in my crib
  • Super helpful. I throw away trash, help dad unload the dishwasher, open and close doors and push the cart at the store just to name a few.
  • Still insistent that people are always wearing shoes
  • Always telling people where to sit by patting chairs until they obey
  • Asking for kisses by leaning in and giving big hugs and kisses to lovie (and hugs to the padding protectors on the poles at the park?)

When Nate and I are both around, Will sometimes asks for double kisses, which we happily oblige! 

We love our little guy and he is just so fun!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Peach Chutney Pizza with Goat Cheese and Bacon

Nate and I live right down the street from a little wine bar that has the most amazing food. It's on the fancier/pricer side so we don't go too often but when we do I always leave very full and wanting to step up my cooking. A couple of weeks ago was no different. Through the running club I run with, we got a discount to a beer dinner that the bar was having that included 5 beers from a new local brewery and a 5 course meal. Everything was delicious but one dish in particular was over the moon! It was a mango chutney spinach salad and goat cheese. I really couldn't get enough.

After that, I decided there just wasn't enough chutney in our life. We hosted football on Sunday so I used that as an opportunity to play around with a chutney idea. 

After the rhubarb pizza came out so well, I decided to try chutney as the sauce for a pizza. I had peaches so I made peach chutney. I could probably eat this stuff by itself, but instead, I topped it with a little sautéed spinach, fresh peaches, bacon and goat cheese... and of course mozzarella!

I got to say, I'm really loving the fruit/vinegar sauce on pizza a lot. Maybe even more than traditional pizza. It was devoured at our party too... like Nate almost didn't get any... so I'm hoping everyone loved it as much as it appeared.

  • Pizza crust (pre-made or hand-made, gluten free works too)
  • Cornmeal
  • 2 large peaches, divided and cubed (I didn't bother to peel them)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, divided and diced
  • 1/2 small spicy pepper 
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 4 slices of thick cut bacon
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1 oz crumbled goat cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella 
  • salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 350˚ F. Spread a thin layer of cornmeal on a cookie sheet or pizza stone. Roll out your dough and place on the cornmeal. Let it sit while you prep your toppings allowing it to rise slightly.

Make your chutney next. Heat oil over medium high heat. Cook onions until soft. Add the pepper and 2 cloves of garlic and cook until the onions are browned. Add the vinegar and sugar and bring to a boil. Add salt and pepper to taste and then reduce heat. Simmer until a syrup is formed ~ 5 min. Add all but 1/4 cup of peaches to the syrup and simmer until the peaches are soft. Mash the peaches with a fork and cook for 1-2 minutes more (add water if the mixture is too thick). Remove the chutney from the heat and let cool 5-10 minutes.

While the chutney is cooling, cook the bacon until crispy. Discard all but a tbsp of bacon grease. Cook the remaining clove of garlic in the bacon grease until lightly browned and then add the spinach. Sauté the spinach over low heat until slightly wilted.

Spread the chutney over the pizza dough, and then top with the spinach and left over fresh peach chunks. Crumble the bacon and goat cheese over top and then top everything with mozzarella.

Bake the pizza for 15-20 minutes until the cheese is nice and melty and slightly browned. Let cool and then cut. Try not to eat it all at once!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Birds on the Ceiling

So my arms are tired but I'm finally done with our birds on the playroom ceilings. I initially had dreams about doing something along the entire length of sunroom ceiling but after just a little while, my arms begged to differ. Working on ceilings sucks.... so we decided to make it look like the birds were flying across the playroom ceiling instead... 

I think I like this more then if we did the whole ceiling.

I was really in love with this wallpaper but the price point was a little steep for us and the idea of wallpapering a ceiling is a great way to induce DIY nightmares so I found a set of Martha Stewart Stencils that included a similar bird. I bought the stencil and some foam pouncers and used a combination of reddish and yellow Martha Stewart paint which I still had from our stamped pillows to create a similar look.

As I said, working on the ceiling sucks... gravity just doesn't play nice. To really do this right, you need like four hands so I used some painters tape to help hold up the stencil. I also cut the stencil in half (cutting off parts that I wasn't using) so there would be less drooping in the middle.

Even with that, I still had to hold the stencil up a bit while I blotted the paint on. (taking pictures while working at night is also a challenge... hence the weirdly colored photos)

After the birds were dry, I added detail to the birds with a paint pen. I traced each bird, added feather detail and an eye. This made them look a little less blobby and more like the birds in the wallpaper that I love.

I love this paint pen, the pen goes on smoothly and you can control the amount and thickness of the paint by using the center or edge of the tip.

This was not a quick project since it required so much over the head work, but it was a great "I have 15 min what can I do" project. I love the birds, and more importantly, Will loves the birds. He also loves his playroom which we have set up even though we aren't really finished.

Want to do this project? Here are the exact products we used:

*this post contains affiliate links

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Laundry Room Feature & Giveaway

Hey! We have some fun stuff going on today. First, Remodelaholic is featuring another project of ours today! This time it is our laundry unit which we have finally finished. You can see our entire building process over at Remodelaholic but we're so happy that we can cross a big project off our list that we want to show you the final pic!

The other big thing that we've been working on for the past couple of months is completely revamping our Etsy shop. We've redesigned rope pulls to make make them easier to install, added an instant quote to our chandeliers, designed four new products and now offer a lot more color and size options. 

We'd really love it if you check out the new shop and let us know what you think by clicking on the "Shop" tab or our sidebar shop ad (we've had some reports of this not working but we think we've fixed everything... please let us know if it doesn't work for you!). As a thank you, we are offering 20% off anything in the shop until October 3rd.

Enter the promo code Sept20 at checkout.

As an even bigger thank you for reading our little blog, we are giving away a choice of a round chandelier (with 3 lights: $280 value) or two large rope pulls with brass end caps ($40 value) to 2 lucky readers. The first person chosen will have their choice between the two prizes and the second person will get the remaining prize.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck and thank you again!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Stuffed Pepper Boats

We are all over the place this week getting ready for a big announcement this weekend so please excuse the lack of posts! 

It's taken me awhile to make a stuffed pepper that I really love. I've learned over time that red or yellow peppers are more my taste since they have a milder flavor than green peppers. I also now know that I need to season the stuffing more than I think I should.

This time making them, I tried two new things that I definitely will be doing again. The first is that I roasted the peppers before I stuffed them and the second is that I cracked an egg on top. I've always had trouble cooking the pepper enough after stuffing and I really don't like it when my pepper isn't cooked. Roasting the peppers first made a world of difference.

The egg bumped up this dish from side to main dish for me although Nate would probably call this a "Cassandra sized meal" so it isn't necessarily a main dish for everyone. I love topping rice with eggs and if you cook them just right, the yolk acts almost like a sauce and it's just awesome. If you haven't tried eggs with rice, nows the time!

What's great about stuffed peppers is that you can really stuff them with whatever you want or have on hand so it's a great dish to be able to just throw together. This version is on the hearty side but you could easily lighten it up by leaving out the meat, or leaving out the rice and making it a carb free dish.

Ingredients: Makes 4 halves
  • 2 Bell Peppers, deseeded and cut in half
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 a jalapeño or other spicy pepper, minced
  • 1/2 a yellow onion, diced
  • 1/4 lb ground turkey
  • 3 baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/2 cup cooked rice
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 4 eggs
  • salt to taste
I use a rice cooker to cook my rice while I make everything else, but if you don't have one, prep the rice before starting the peppers. I also make a lot more rice and save it for meals during the rest of the week.

Preheat the oven to 425˚ F. Massage the bell pepper halves with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast them in the oven for 5-10 min until tender. Let cool.

While the peppers are roasting, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and saute the garlic, onion and spicy pepper until fragrant, 2-3 minutes. Add the turkey and cook until almost cooked, stirring frequently. Add the mushrooms, onion powder and garlic salt and cook until the turkey is completely done. Reduce the heat and add the spinach. Saute until the spinach becomes limp (this does not take long) and then remove from heat.

Add the soy sauce and worcestershire sauce to the turkey mixture and then add in the rice. Stir until everything is combined and then add the cheese and stir. 

Fill the pepper halves with the turkey and rice filling. Lay flat on a greased cookie sheet and use your thumb to make a good size indent in the center of the filling. Carefully crack an egg into each indent. Sprinkle the top of the egg with a little salt and place the cookie sheet in the oven. Cook 10-15 minutes until the eggs don't jiggle when you move the cookie sheet. Serve hot.

I like to add a little Sriracha  to the top of my egg for a little extra spice

Monday, September 22, 2014

Macrame Plant Hanger

The last couple of weeks have been kind of rough. Not any one thing was too overwhelming but we just had a lot of minor things that just added up. Last Sunday, Will fought his nap until the time when we were supposed to go to a BBQ and then promptly fell asleep (Murphy's law right?). So, while Nate went to the BBQ, I took the free time to watch a little TV (I'm obsessed with the Blacklist right now) and try a low key project. 

One of my friends had gotten me this lovely plant for my birthday and it had been sitting on our dining room table for a couple of weeks. The leaves were just turning a little yellow (the dining room only gets very diffuse sunlight) and so I wanted to move to a sunnier location. It's generally hard to find good plant locations in our house despite the multitude of windows because we have dogs and a toddler that will climb on anything and everything to get at something. So, I decided to try and hang the plant. 

I had seen a lot of macrame plant hangers around and since we always have a ton of jute rope around for making chandeliers, I decided to try a few knots.

I started with 8 six foot long pieces of jute and folded them in half so that I would have a loop at the top. I made two wrapped knots at the top, about 4 inches apart. 

For the knots, I looked at a lot of different macrame plant hangers, found knots that I liked, and then looked up instructions. I did find this site to be pretty helpful and for anything that didn't make sense I looked up a video. 

After the two wrapped knots I split the 16 pieces of jute into groups of 4. I kept them straight for about 2 feet and then put in a spiral stitch on each grouping.

This is where things started to connect. I split the 4 pieces into groups of two and joined them with the neighboring group of two about a foot an a half down from the spiral stitch.

Where the two sets came together, I joined them with a Josephine knot. I added a little embellishment with three little nuts that we had laying around. I added one more Josephine knot for symmetry and then split the groups one more time and joined them with their neighbor.

I joined the groupings about 10 inches and just tied them off with a normal knot.

The last thing I did was join all the pieces back together and tie them off with another wrap knot. I trimmed the tail and I was done!

I found a cute little planter that will catch water at Lowe's, popped the plant into it and placed it into the hanger. Nate added a hook in front of our living room window and now we have some added greenery that can not get knocked over, dug in, picked at or destroyed. 

The only question now is whether I'll still be able to keep it alive.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Vacation Project

Are you itching to see what project we did on our trip? Probably not, but I'm going to share anyway because I'm super proud of what Nate accomplished. Besides helping get supplies and think through things a bit, I contributed nothing to this project (scratch that... I did hold a light for awhile... probably shouldn't count that though). All the hard work was done by Nate, my brother-in-law and my dad... we'll call it a male bonding experience.

My parents recently had a new shed put in that is going to be a workshop. The structure was there but it didn't have any permanent electricity to it. They have a storage shed that they had electricity run to years ago (on the left) and they were thinking they were going to have to run a new set of wires all the way from the garage (where I'm taking the pic from), along the base of the driveway (on the right) and into the new shed to get electricity to it. This would require a lot of wire and a lot of digging. The other issue is that the electrician had run everything, the old shed and all the exterior lights, off of a timer so the lights would only be on for part of the evening. This meant that the lights inside the old shed and all the outlets would only work during the time that the timer was on.... not ideal.

Nate spent some time talking with my parents about what they actually wanted and came up with a plan that required very little digging and a lot more functionality. He then spent every afternoon/evening working to get it done.

Instead of one timer running everything off of one timer, Nate decided to split the outdoor lights. The lights on the left side of the driveway went on the original timer, the wiring for the sheds were taken off a timer, and a time was added in the old shed to run the lights on the right side of the driveway.

The wiring going out to the shed could be disconnected from the timer and wired directly in the garage so the long stretch of wire didn't need to be dug up and we didn't have to add a new run. Instead, the guys dug up the section between the two sheds to access the wire and use that to add in the new shed. The cost of a new timer was only slightly less than the cost of running new wire but it saved a ton of digging and disruption so it was the preferred choice.

For the new shed, four 2 gang outlet boxes were installed high enough so that a work bench could be installed later. Lights were added on a switch and Nate wired everything sot that the majority of the outlets are GFCI protected but if they trip the lights won't go off... that way if a saw, for example, trips the circuit, the lights won't go out while the blade is still spinning. Nate also installed a security light on the front of the shed.

In the old shed, the new timer was installed and so was a new outlet. As long as the timers are setup the same way, the outside lights come on and go off at the same time. Now, when you switch on the light in the old shed, it always comes on, which will be especially nice when my parents have to get the plow out of the shed on a dark snowy day.

It took quite a few hours to rework everything but the materials were only about $200, which, for the size of this project, was pretty good. Hopefully it will make my parents' shed more functional and bring it one step closer to a finished workshop!

*We are not electricians but do have quite a lot of experience with electrical work and codes and so are more comfortable with this type of project. Higher a professional for any projects that you are not comfortable with and make sure you always follow your town's codes and pull all necessary permits.