she’s 1!: braden’s one-year-old birthday party

It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged…mostly because I spend my life online editing and running AOL’s Roswell Patch news site now.

But I wanted to take a brief moment to post something on the birthday party we threw for B this past weekend. Thanks to inspiration found scouring other blogs and Pinterest, I think we pulled it off rather nicely. Take a look and see what you think.

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off the beaten…recipe…

There are two kinds of home cooks: those who follow a recipe to the letter; and those who just sort of wing it.

I fall into the latter category.

Not necessarily because I’m such an amazing cook that I don’t need structure. But because I don’t always have everything I need when I start or the recipe seems unnecessarily complicated or I would prefer one ingredient over another. There are all kinds of reasons for my jumping the track and thankfully, it usually pays off.

Like it did with this chicken pot pie I made last night.

Never one to completely follow a recipe, I found one I thought sounded the best, used what I wanted from it and left the rest. I have to say, it was a big hit with Michael and my brother.

Here’s how I did it…feel free to add your own interpretation to my recipe… πŸ˜‰

Ingredients:

3/4 pound chicken (or three semi-large chicken breast pieces)

1 tsp diced garlic

3 tbsp olive oil

2 small potatoes

1 medium chopped onion

1 10-12 oz bag of frozen mixed vegetables

1/3 cup whole wheat flour

2/3 cup milk

2 cups chicken broth

2 – 9 in unbaked pie crusts

Salt and pepper to taste

In medium to large skillet, heat olive oil and garlic. Add cubed chicken and onions. Cook until onions are clear and chicken is no longer pink. Add cubed potatoes and bag of frozen vegetables. Cover with lid (if you have one). Once potatoes and veggies have become slightly softer (about 3-5 minutes on medium heat), add whole wheat flour and stir until “pasty.”

Pour in milk and chicken broth, add salt and pepper. Stir together until creamy, but thin. Let continue to cook over med-low heat for 10-15 minutes, or until thickened.

Meanwhile, place one thawed, unbaked pie crust into deep dish pie pan (or,you may use pre-formed deep dish pie crust in a tin found on the frozen baked good aisle) and bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes, or until just slightly browned. Fill with chicken mixture. Place second thawed, unbaked pie crust over the top and pinch at edges. (if using pre-formed crusts, pop second thawed crust out of the tin and lay over the first).

Make several cuts in the top of the crust to allow heat to escape. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with a pitch of coarse sea salt, if desired.

Bake at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes, or until top is golden brown. Watch carefully so it does not bubble over (more incisions may be needed) or burn.

Enjoy!

fall baking…

I promise I have interests other than decorating, DIY, clothes and baking…but where’s the fun in talking about those?! This is the place I get to express my Martha Stewart/Rachael Ray/Rachel Zoe wannabe sides…so here I go again…

It’s fall and that means I want to be surrounded by pumpkin and gourd displays, candles, chrysanthemums, Bath & Body Works scents – and baked goods. Oh, I know I shouldn’t and that the danger of overindulging is ever present. I know that if I do, the scale isn’t my friend, especially now that I’m pregnant.

But alas, my love affair with baked good persists. It’s not only the scrumptious treats that come from the baking, it’s the baking itself that I’m drawn to. I find it therapeutic for some reason. I always have.

Luckily, I have two men in my house that will share in the burden of ridding the evidence and I won’t be tempted for too long.

The weekend after this I have four of my college roommates coming to stay with me, so I’ve already begun to plan the indulgent goodies I want to have on-hand for their stay. After all, late night gab sessions are no good without decadent desserts and junk food, right?

Here are a few of the recipes I might try:

Just the thought of this fall-ish breakfast food makes my mouth water! Check out the recipe for these Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls at goodLife {eats}.

 

(Image found at goodLife {eats})

 

Then there’s always this Carrot Cheesecake recipe from Better Homes and Gardens!

 

(Image found at Better Homes and Gardens)

 

Or perhaps this Apple Crisp from Food Network’s Down Home with the Neelys is the way to go….

 

(Image found at Food Network)

 

Then again, maybe we’ll just try all three… πŸ˜‰

do-it-yourself: harlequin patterns and changing tables…

I’ve been working on the nursery and it’s definitely coming along now…s-l-o-w-l-y, very slowly, but we’re getting there.
I still have three months, but I know that with the holidays coming up three months is going to fly by and Braden will be here before we know it.

Fortunately for us, my parents have given us the two main pieces of furniture that we’re using in the nursery! One piece is a wardrobe that was used in my own nursery. I love the idea that my daughter will grow up with something that I also grew up around.

The second piece my parents gave us was an old chest they used in their room for years and years. Deriving inspiration from the items on Layla Grace, I decided to try my hand at converting the piece into a changing table by utilizing a do-it-yourself harlequin pattern in the colors I’m using in the nursery.

This is how it turned out….

braden's changing table

Here’s how I did it:

-Remove any hardware (drawer pulls, etc.).
-Paint the entire object one solid color. Let dry.
-Use painter’s tape and create a diamond pattern over the entire object by focusing on one surface at a time. For instance, lay out your tape on the top first, then each of the sides individually and finally, the front (over the drawers). You can measure the distance between each piece of tape or lay it out freehand (like I did). Press the the tape down as firmly as possible to avoid heavy bleeding, but realize that this is a nearly impossible task and you WILL experience some bleeds. That’s okay.
-Fill in each diamond shape with a secondary color. Let dry.
-Once dry, remove tape. The diamond pattern should be obvious. Keep in mind there will be imperfections.
-Using a crafter’s angled-edge sponge brush (choose your own size, I used a smaller size), brush on a third color over each of the diamond’s edges, covering up any bleeds or imperfections along the way.

The trick, I learned, was to accept the minor imperfections (over-correcting also causes problems) while trying my best to achieve the look I wanted.

Overall, while it’s not perfect, I am really pleased with the way it turned out.

layla grace…

Maybe it’s because our house is in a constant state of renovation. Maybe it’s because I’m pregnant. Maybe it’s because their stuff is just so dang beautiful, but I’m enamored….

“Enamored with whom?” You’re asking yourself.

Layla Grace.

My friend Jen sent me a link to the website some time ago and I’ve absolutely fallen in love with the home and lifestyle company’s aesthetic. They offer something for everyone in the way of home decoration, personal style and children necessities. One minute I’m browsing through home accessories and the next I’m dreaming of crib bedding for Braden’s nursery orΒ  drooling over a delicious fall recipe on the blog! It’s a whirlwind of sweet ideas!

Layla Grace is breezy and substantial all at once. I adore that. To me, there is nothing better.

So go ahead, pour yourself another cup of coffee and take a daydream journey through some of their latest blog posts this morning. I know I am.

{Photo found: Layla Grace The Backroom} we're doing Braden's nursery in gray with pops of accent colors, which is probably why this layout appeals to me soooo much!

{Photo found: Layla Grace The Backroom} i'm dreaming of cozy fall fires and boots and apple picking and comfort with this...currently remodeling our living room space and adding beautiful details like these are on my to-do list!

{Photo found: Layla Grace The Backroom} i love how sweet, simple and traditional this crib is! for Braden, we're refinishing an older crib

{photo found: Layla Grace The Backroom} yum...that's pretty much all i have to say about this...what an easy and delicious fall snack!

can’t get enough of “Young House Love”!

When a friend of mine recently dropped the name of a blog called “Young House Love,” I had never heard of it before. But you better believe I’m addicted now!!

John and Sherry Petersik

They are totally my kind of couple and as I sit here reading all of their tips, tricks and DIY ideas I am suddenly overcome with the undeniable urge to DO SOMETHING!! I feel like making a fabric headboard, repainting all of my trim, running down to IKEA, heading out to a thrift store, yanking all of the furniture out of our house and bringing it back in (or not) piece by piece until I achieve the exact look I’m going for…which might be hard, since I don’t have a detailed vision yet, just a feeling I desire to convey. So how do I get from here to there? Young House Blog even has a section to help you with that (Pin Down Your Style or Decorate in Stages)!!!

Check out this monogram art piece that I’m definitely going to replicate somewhere in my house (with an “F” of course)! SO easy and lovely!!!

Detailed instructions on how to create your own can be found here. (p.s. That’s a Halloween/fall motif they’ve set up on the entryway table.)

It really is one of the best step-by-step blogs I’ve ever come across and I’m sure it will be a repeat destination in my internet search history.

things i love right now…

So, life has gotten away from me and I’ve not had a chance to update this blog in a while…what else is new, right?

We’ve been busy working on our house (again, what else is new?) and juggling summer activities. Michael finally installed BEAUTIFUL hardwoods in our dining room and we’ve decided to keep them going into the living room now since he’s doing them himself, which lessens the cost tremendously. We’ve also repainted our front deck and pulled up the horrible bushes that blocked its view (you can’t tell in the shot below, but I swear it’s true!). The front of our house is now like a breath of fresh air. Still a ways to go, but little by little…I LOVE sitting out there with Michael in the evenings when things have cooled off a bit and we’re in the mood to dream up new projects.

Here’s what the deck looked like before.

Maybe it’s all this home renovation, but lately I’m so drawn to all things domestic.

I’m in love with looking at design ideas and trying to make things warm and welcoming. On the flip side, this need to nest also frustrates me to death because a lack of funds, time and energy make most of what I conjure up or fall in love with inaccessible to my own life. Still…a girl can wander furniture stores, home supply and home decoration stores with little more than dreams, right?

My love of using these wonderfully warm summer months to create new things is not limited to home decoration. I’m also making my way into the kitchen thanks to inspiring Food Network shows (Cupcake Wars, anyone?). My mom and I recently spent a Saturday morning picking blueberries at a local patch. Two pounds of berries later, I have made a trifle, blueberry pancakes (or pankpanks, as my niece calls them!) and a fruit salad…have I mentioned how much I love summer?? Now that I’m out of blueberries, I’m going to try my hand at using yeast and baking the bread my mother-in-law is so famous for! Cross your fingers…

For now, check out a few of the things I’m loving right now:

So into hand painted furniture right now…

Image found: Furniture Fashion

Image found: Painted Furniture Online

…and English gardens….

Image found: Landscape Design Advisor

…and Martha Stewart-style parties that are more Bohemian…

Image found: Pinecone Camp

…and dreaming of where we’ll take our next international vacation…Costa Rica perhaps???

Image found: Guanamar Hotel

Image found: Guanamar Hotel

Ok, got to run…more later πŸ™‚