Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Honey Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies.


2014 has been a year in which I've really focused on what goes into my mouth & the mouths of my family. I've been steadily working to cut out un-necessarily processed ingredients & trying to clean up eating habits in general. I'm not gung-ho on any one food fad or another, just more aware of real food. One of the small changes I started with was butter. I replaced my go to grocery store sticks with grass fed (sometimes organic) butter. (These cookies were made with Kerrygold brand.) Y'all, the real stuff is SO MUCH BETTER and more satisfying than the other. Now I'm not saying I eat a ton if it, but a tiny bit goes a long way in terms of the yum factor.

I decided to bake a sweet treat for my uncle-in-law, but wanted to keep my new eating focus in mind. Out went the white & brown sugar (I can honestly say I've never baked without these pantry staples before.) In came the raw honey I picked up last weekend on a trip to Asheville. With a little creativity & lots of honey-substitution research my trusty shiny red KitchenAid mixer made fluffy, chewy, deliciously satisfying cookies. Are they a health food? No. Am I pretending they are? Nope. They fulfilled a sweet tooth craving and didn't make me feel guilty about it. The recipe is for a smaller batch, yielding 1-2 dozen, depending on how big your drops are. Enjoy!



Monday, April 28, 2014

a little off the top, a little off the bottom, & definitely a pop ofcolor.

You thought I was talking about a new hairdoo didn't you? 
Nope. 
I'm talking about shutters in the first installment of posts chronicling "before & after" projects on our 1960's ranch-style home we've been renovating since January.  


{Before}
I am a big advocate for proper scale & proportion. Just like Golidlocks, I needed to find the right fit when starting to spruce up the exterior. I felt like the shutters were just too long for the overall height of the house & size of the windows. And while I'm at it, so was the light fixture. Generally I feel like the solid wood building materials on older homes are of much better quality than those you get today, so I didn't want to go the replacement shutter route. I asked my very handy Dad if shortening the shutters would be an option. Since they were louvered, he thought it wouldn't be too difficult to do.  So my wacky idea was added to our long to-do list, & waited for a warmer spring weekend to tackle it.
{1st Update: New Doors!}



I am lucky & quite thankful to have a handy & knowledgeable husband and family. While the hubs tackled spreading new topsoil and grass seed, my dad, "Daddy J" in grandparent speak, hung the newly shortened shutters. "Cece" (my mom in grandparent speak), Ford, & I headed to my favorite garden center to pick out flowers and a couple new coconut liners for my window boxes. 


It can be overwhelming trying to decide which plants to fill your window boxes with for spring & summer. You have to take into account maintenance, water, & light. Being my first summer in this house I wasn't exactly sure what to expect. All winter the front of my house got a great amount of sun, but that was without the canopy of leaves the big old oak tree provides in the summer. The first step was to select a color palette. I knew I wanted bright pops of warm colors to go with my aqua door. Coral was my first choice but wasn't easy to find in the window box appropriate flowers for my varied light levels. We played with color & texture combinations as long as a pouchy kept Ford happy in his stroller, and ended up with a nice grouping that follows the "golden rule" of container gardening:

THRILL, SPILL, & FILL




Recipe for The Perfect Windowbox {at least at my house!}

++ Thrillers ++
Dracena Spike
{dark green & grass-like}

++ Spillers ++
Dwarf Marguerite Sweet Potato Vine 
{lime green}

++ Fillers ++
Madness Rose Petunia
{flowers hot pink}
Dusty Miller
{grey/green interesting leaves}
Easter Bonnet Violet Alyssum
{small purple flowers}
Quartz White Verbena
{fluffy white flowers}
Bandito Orange Sunrise Lantana
{orange & yellow cluster flowers}
Orange Gerbera Daisys

{shorter shutters, Pete peeking out the window, colorful window boxes, & a new light fixture...hooray!}


Sidenote:
Have you checked out your local habitat restore? I picked up that light fixture for $15! I liked the aqua patina & size. When mom helped me clean it up (not nearly as pretty on the shelf) she discovered its solid copper. I looked up a new similar sized one and it sold for $400! 






Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Body After Baby.

Im a rather realistic person generally speaking. I didn't expect to push out a tiny human & then magically go back to my old self again. It took 10 months get this way, so I gave myself 10 months to get back. 

{Mothers Day, 2013}


Turns out I wasn't a magic breast feeding weight dropper. I wasn't a magic post-breast feeding weight dropper either. I knew I was going to have to work for it. I started Stroller Strides when the little man was about 10 weeks old. You wouldn't believe what impact a positive group of moms & some outdoor activity had on my (now admitted) baby blues. I achieved my goal in terms of number between the little mans 9th & 10th month. While the number made me happy, I still didn't feel as strong as I wanted and clothes just didn't fit the same way. A baby really does change everything.

{Before & After: 8 week long session 1}

 I started a twice a week high intensity interval training program in January & began focusing on clean eating. I ate pretty healthy to begin with, so I didn't have too hard a time with the adjustment. I simply put more thought into what went in my mouth. Between the workouts & thoughtful food plan, today, on my little guys 13 month birthday, I am 15 pounds below my pre-pregnancy weight. I'm wearing clothes from years ago. I feel so much stronger & have more stamina to keep up with a very active little man. And frankly I look forward to my weekly workouts & the incredible group of women I've gotten to know sweating alongside me.

{Farm Days with the little man in COLLEGE JEANS, April 2014}

I write this to you dear readers not to toot my own horn, but to share that a little bit of change can bring big impact. You don't have to pump yourself full of chemical drink concoctions, only eat bars, or even eat like a rabbit to reach your goal. Just like with all aspects of life, it's all about balance. 
{Easter Afternoon, April 2014 -- 12 weeks total of Body Back }

Monday, April 7, 2014

Big Weekend Plans? HA.


I count my blessings every Saturday that I am not a golf or hunting widow. I feel incredibly lucky this super rainy (yay wash away pollen) Monday morning that a solo weekend away isn't a regular occurrence for my husband. Twas the weekend with all sorts of fun mom & little guy adventures that wasn't. 





It started on a major high note. Thursday afternoon, prior to T's departure, I had a haircut & color appointment scheduled. You see, this is a REAL TREAT for me as when I sat down to schedule said appointment, I realized this hadn't happened since last June. Holy long hair batman. I was feeling a little sore & kinda off, but chalked it up to allergy season (and I had a killer high intensity work out the night before.) I walked into the salon and my husband (of the year) had a surprise in store for me; he arranged a mani-pedi along with my hair. I had a Coke Classic over pellet ice & a little pampering for the first time in 10 months. Holy moly did I feel like a million bucks.  




{hot pink nails make everything better}


{pre-dad leaving dinner. baby's first queso. i'd say he's a fan.}


I started feeling a little off again once the sheer glee of feeling like a celeb wore off but still thought nothing of it. I awoke middle of the night with a low-grade fever, just enough of one to make you feel like gum on the bottom of your shoe. I send husband off to Savannah for the weekend thinking it will be 24 hours and I'll be fine. HA said the virus. 




{snuggles all around whilst breaking "no tv until your 2" with daniel tiger.}


{mom, come on. get out of bed.}


{no rest for mom. we have a climber & a dare devil on our hands.}


Instead of parks trips & fun outings we had mom on the couch. And mom on the floor. And mom attempting to rally and failing. Luckily Advil & early bedtime became my BFF and we made it through our solo weekend. I even started to rally Sunday afternoon enough for a trip to the garden center & subsequent herb garden planting. I fought the funk & the funk one. But luckily only for a few days. After all, moms aren't allowed to get sick right?

{big time digging}


{wine box garden 2.0 ... with herbs!}

Monday, March 31, 2014

The Park.


What seems like both a lifetime ago & only just yesterday, I found my happy spot. The park where I fell in love. The place I spent many joyful hours playing with Pete. The spot where I took a teeny tiny baby on his first outing. The place that inspired the title of my (neglected) blog. The place where the little man now crawls & toddles around, with me chasing behind. I love how the path always seems to bring you back to your happy place.  












Friday, February 7, 2014

The unfortunate odor.

I have oh so much to be thankful for in general but today I am thankful for a home warranty. I noticed a slight back-up issue in my basement laundry sink last week but thought nothing of it at the time. I bounded down the stairs yesterday morning pre-exercise class with a basket full of dirties to be washed while I was out. One of the things I was jazz-hands excited for in our new house was a basement (still needing finishing but that's neither here nor there) laundry room. Complete with a deep laundry sink. I even got a fancy new HE high capacity washer/dryer duo I thought I could conquer the boy-mom laundry load with in a snap. Theoretical laundry nirvana for a cloth diapering mom. (Geeking out over laundry? WHO-AM-I?)

Anywhoover, I was greeted at the bottom of my stairs with a terrible smell. I was TERROR-STRICKEN (YES! I DID IT! I USED MY VERY FAVORITE 3RD GRADE SPELLING WORD IN A SENTENCE!) There was some sort of creature-from-the-black-lagoon like gunk hanging out in my laundry sink. I really have no words to describe it. I tried all my best un-trained plumber techniques including plunging while burying my nose in a sweatshirt & gagging. I skipped exercise class, and fought the sludge during an entire morning nap time. My efforts were fruitless. The sludge won. 

Thankfully I had 2 cards up my sleeve: 1. home warranty is sending out a real (hopefully non-gagging variety) plumber this morning. AND 2. I popped in my very favorite florist/gift shop on the way to check my PO box and picked up this lovely. 

It smells amazingly fresh & light. Very un-sludge like. I am one picky person when it comes to scented anything and this gets two thumbs up. So for now, we wait for that super annoying time-window for my own personal super-hero to arrive with his bag of tricks to conquer the monster living in my laundry sink.  And we leave my fancy-schmancy DIY dutch basement door in the closed & locked position until all sludge beasts are slain. 






Wednesday, February 5, 2014

New Year, New Home.


For some (crazy) reason, I thought I was super-woman and could do it all in a few days & be back to "normal" within the week. Boy was I wrong. 





Moving isn't fun. Neither is renovating. Especially with a crawling baby. I think all those times I told clients in the middle of construction projects "I know it seems terrible now, but it will be worth it in the end" came back to bite me. Even though it's true, sometimes it's hard to see the light through the dust.





We'll friends, I've seen the light. We're in and starting to feel settled, at least in some rooms.  There is still lots to do & find, but it's a marathon to the finished product, not a sprint, that makes a house a home. 





So far we've replaced decorative moldings, doors, scraped a whole mess of popcorn ceilings, repainted, built bookcases, installed some new lighting, & hung a couple of (fabulous) wallpaper patterns.  There is still a laundry list of projects to be conquered, but all in due time (and due budget.) 





So for now, a few sneak peeks! Cheers to a new year & a new home full of DIY projects!