Wednesday, January 21, 2015

My New Favorite Cookies

I have a HUGE sweet tooth. I've been eating all things peppermint since Christmas to satisfy my sweet tooth, but was looking to switch it up recently. Jeremy loves and usually requests my traditional chocolate chip cookies, but when I went to bake this weekend, he suggested I do a chocolate based chocolate chip cookie. Ya know, just for fun. ;)
I found this recipe on Pioneer Woman and had to give it a try. With 2 1/2 sticks of butter and 3 1/2 cups of chocolate chips, how could you go wrong?! Trust me, they did not disappoint! They are rich and decadent and absolutely perfect fresh out of the oven. 
I made the recipe as directed, except I used 1 cup white chocolate chips and 2 1/2 cups of milk chocolate chips since that's what I had on hand and I prefer milk chocolate over semi-sweet. I used Ghirardelli chips and they are amazing! I baked mine on my stoneware and my Air Bake pans because I love how soft they turn out on those pans, so mine took about 13 minutes to bake instead of the suggested 9-11 minutes.

The cookies are soft and chewy and are so rich and chocolaty! Hope you enjoy these as much as we did!

Click HERE for the recipe for Pioneer Woman's Chocolate Chocolate White Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Ledge Love

Hope you are all back into the swing of things now that we are well into January! We are adjusting to Jeremy's new job. There has been some travel, but man is it nice to get to sleep a little longer in the mornings and see him for lunch when he works from home! It makes every day feel like a holiday!

We have continued cranking out projects over the past couple months, so I'll try to catch you up on those in the next few posts. I immensely needed the project blogging hiatus to slow down and de-stress after our crazy year. Honestly, it was either take a break or hang it up all together. Thankfully, the break did the trick and I've been itching to get back on here and share our projects again. :) Thanks for your support and for coming right back and reading, even after the break! You guys are the best! 

Ready for an easy, inexpensive project? Check out the new ledge Jeremy made me! He's the best!
Ever since we moved into this house, I've been stumped about what to hang on the short wall above the couch. I've tried several things, but nothing has filled the space well. I had pretty much given up when a friend posted a picture of her new shelf and decor that she hung above her couch. This just so happened to be the same friend who has the Melody chair as well and has amazing taste! As soon as I saw her picture, I knew it would be the perfect thing for our living room. I wanted something that I could easily change and felt relaxed and cozy. The ledge did that perfectly. Thankfully, she didn't mind if I straight up copied her, so that's exactly what I did. :) Thanks, Alison!!!!
She got her shelf at Ikea for a great price. If Ikea wasn't three hours away, we totally would have gotten one from Ikea, too, but we weren't making a trip that way any time soon. Jeremy had enough wood left over from Little Girl's board and batten project, so we decided to just build the shelf ourselves. Bonus, it was free that way!


It was a super fast and easy project. You can find plans here on Ana White to build a ledge shelf. We don't have a Kreg Jig, so Jeremy screwed the back piece straight into the shelf, then nailed the front piece in with his nail gun. He gave the ends a good sanding to make them nice and smooth. I filled the nail holes with wood filler and sanded it down smooth, then primed and painted the shelf. To hang the shelf, Jeremy screwed and anchored it straight into the wall. I painted the screws to disguise them, but you could also get screw covers if you wanted. 
I put up some frames I had on hand already. I love that white scrolling frame and the clock!

We are getting so close to finishing the living room! I'm loving the direction it has taken. It is so relaxing and peaceful...well, at least when the toys aren't all over the floor and the clean laundry isn't in a pile on the couch. Ha!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Why to Organize and Decorate

A few months ago, I was discussing my blog plans with a friend and she mentioned it would be interesting to see some of the reasons why I make the decorating/design choices that I make. It is a great thought and I've been percolating on it ever since and will try to incorporate those answers in future blog posts.

A lot of my choices are for practical reasons like storage and durability. But, the more I stewed, the more I realized just how much I decorate for a general "feel" in my home. I'm not sure if everyone is this way, but my mood is very influenced by my surroundings. Clutter makes me feel anxious, but a clean house makes me feel calm. Soothing colors help me feel peaceful and relaxed. I love and appreciate lots of different decorating styles and enjoy them in other people's homes. In my home, though, I need calming colors, organized spaces, and simplistic decor choices, otherwise I feel chaotic and anxious...writes the woman staring at a pile of laundry and toys everywhere. Oh! Oh! Guess my mood! Haha! ;)

Anyway, I saw this article floating around this morning and thought Nailed It! This is SO true for me. Check it out!

Image Credit: House Logic

Is your mood influenced by your surroundings, too? What decorating style helps you improve your mood?

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Gratitude

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas! I'm getting ready to pack up our Christmas decorations and get our house back to normal. Sniff! I'm especially going to miss this joy sign. Anyway...
This week is very exciting for us! After nearly 5 years at his company, my husband decided to move on and started a new job this week!

As the new job offer has unfolded, I've pondered how God has opened and closed doors along the way to get us to this point. While Jeremy was in grad school, he was diligently searching for a job and was specifically targeting his company because it was a great fit for him, mixing industry and his PhD work. We spent many months praying about the job and hoping God would open that door--and He did!

Jeremy was blessed with an amazing director and many opportunities at his company. I love seeing how hard he works and what a high work ethic and standards he has. Honestly, Jeremy's always been this way since his first job at a grocery store in high school. I used to literally jog to keep up with him when I'd pop in to flirt  eat lunch with him on his break. :)

Just as God opened the doors for Jeremy five years ago, He has made it clear that it was time to move on. An exciting job offer came in when Jeremy wasn't looking. It's a really interesting position that shifts focus from industry to policy and was too good to pass up. But... they wanted us to relocate. When push came to shove, neither of us wanted to move (at all!!!) and we didn't think we could afford to live in the new city. Just when we thought he would need to turn down the job, they offered to let him work remote. From our house. Every day. For Real! Cue angels singing and Jeremy and I break dancing in the living room!
Just had to insert a picture of my handsome hubby! Photo credit: Kristin Tucker :)

Ready to see more of God? When we were looking for our house three years ago, we looked at a bunch of homes. We actually got within two weeks of closing on our previous house before we found a new house to buy. From the second we pulled into the driveway, we loved this house. As soon as we opened the front door, I knew this was the one. We were completely sold on the house before we even went out back and saw the detached garage with a mother in law suite! It just so happens, that mother in law suite is the *perfect* home office! Jeremy wrote his entire dissertation up there shortly after we moved in. He has used it often for working from home and loves it because he is at home, but can't hear what is going on and doesn't get interrupted. Little did we know, he'd be working from home every single day and would need such a nice, quiet office space! Isn't it amazing that three years ago, God lead us to a home with a perfect office space for this new job?!

Looking forward to 2015 and the new opportunities Jeremy has at work, as well as generally just slowing down as a family. 2014 was a hard year and was entirely too busy with traveling, etc. We are exhausted and worn out and looking forward to slowing down the pace in the coming year. What are you looking forward to in 2015? Have a Happy New Year!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Top Gift Picks for Baby

I've been wrapping gifts and finishing my Christmas shopping today, so in the gifting spirit, I figured I'd stop in and share my favorite gifts for baby. If you are looking for a last minute idea for your little one, check out one of these!

1. B. LucKeys- Little Girl is very curious and goes for all the things in our house that are not toys. Seriously, she will crawl through a sea of toys to get to the one non-toy item in the room. After lots of searching, I found these keys that are very realistic, minus the sharp edges of real keys. She loves them. They are one of her favorite toys, even after owning them for a few months now! I thought $10.99 felt a bit high for toy keys, but the quality has turned out to be worth the extra pennies.
Comes in navy or red.

2. B. HiPhone- After our raving success with the keys, we purchased this phone for Little Girl for Christmas. The pictures don't do it justice. The entire "screen" lights up at once, just like a smart phone does. It makes realistic noises, "calls" the child, and you can even record messages for your child on it! Priced at $11.99, it doesn't break the bank. 
Comes in purple, blue, green, or red. 

3. VTech Learning Walker- I'll be honest, I really wanted a classic looking wooden walker, but it didn't end up fitting into our budget. So, I researched walkers and this one had great reviews. We decided to go with it because you can adjust the wheel tension so the walker doesn't fly out in front of the baby. Several similarly priced walkers do not have this feature and felt cheaply made. Another benefit is the great activity panel on the front. Little Girl loves it! We snagged it on Amazon for $25 last month which was a fabulous price! It looks like the price is $35 now, but it's still a good price and quality compared to the other walkers out there. And, who knows, the price may come back down. 
4. LeapFrog My Own Leaptop- We have the older version of this laptop that we bought for Little Man when we was around 1 or 2. Both kids have loved it! You can have it send "email" messages from you or other family members, it helps with their letters/sounds/numbers, teaches them to spell their name, has songs, teaches animal names/sounds, etc. Little Man used to play with this when we were out shopping and I always got a kick out it when he would "check his email" or "write a new blog post" while riding in his stroller. Multitasking, ha! It comes in at an affordable $14.99 and has held up great through the years. 
5. Infantino Go GaGa Deluxe Twist & Fold Gym- We had a great baby gym for Little Man, but part of it disappeared in our move a couple years ago. We were so sad and after much searching, had to give up and purchase a new gym. We picked this one and were very happy with it! Little Girl was around 4 weeks when we bought it and as soon as we laid her on the mat, she started cooing at it. It was so sweet! She loved it and I was very sad when she outgrew it. Baby gyms are all pretty pricey. This one comes in at the middle at $49.99, but we got it for $35 when it went on sale and had a Cartwheel coupon, so know that it does go on sale! :) 
Hope you all are enjoying this Christmas season so far! 

Image Credits: Target and Amazon

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Checking In + New Recipes I Love

Well, you may have noticed that I fell off of the 31 Days bandwagon. I had to stop. It gave me good momentum to get projects accomplished and I've continued to try to tackle the lingering projects around my home. However, blogging every single day sucked the blogging joy right outta me. I never want to blog because I feel like I have to blog. I want to blog because I love it. As a result, I took a step back for the past month and gave myself a break.

The break has been lovely and was much needed! This year has been hard and ridiculously busy. I didn't realize how much I needed this break, even from something that I love doing. I will not be resuming regular blogging until the new year, but may pop in here and there during the next month or two to say hi.

Today, I wanted to pass along two new recipes I've tried out this month. I've been trying to cook new things recently and am always excited to find great recipes!

The first recipe is Pioneer Woman's Self Rising Biscuits. Oh my word, they're so easy and so delicious! I've made biscuits several times before, but they are never that great. I usually wind up just buying the canned biscuits because I know that they will turn out better. But, these are a game changer for me! I've made them twice and they've turned out great both times!

I followed the directions to a tee except for two minor things--I didn't bother sifting anything and I didn't bother breaking out my rolling pin. With a baby getting into everything while I was trying to cook, I had to take some shortcuts. ;) I simply flattened the dough with my hands. Less dishes, less time, and turned out beautifully!

Image Source: Kevin & Amanda

The second recipe is just downright insane. Insanely delicious, that is. Kevin and Amanda's Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel Oreo Pie is so rich and decadent!

Again, I followed the recipe exactly with only two small exceptions-- I don't like dark chocolate, so used half dark chocolate chips and half milk chocolate chips. I also skipped the salt. I think it'd be delicious, but I forgot to buy coarse salt at the store and Jeremy isn't a fan of salted sweets. So, I just skipped that step. Still amazing!

Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Patching and Switching

I'm back today to catch you up on what I did for Days Eleven & Twelve of the 31 Days Challenge where I try to tackle one project per day off of my lingering to do list.

Day Eleven: We hung new shades in our master bedroom. Well, technically, they're old shades, but they're a million times better than what was up there before!

A few months ago, we replaced our downstairs roman shades with 2+" faux wood blinds. Here's some pictures to jog your memory of the shades.
I know replacing them is probably not the most popular decision ever because they were SO cute, but we needed more privacy than the roman shades provided. When the shades were open, people could see straight into our home from the road. And trust me, they looked. A lot. Like, made eye contact with me as I was eating dinner. I finally snapped when a sketchy door to door solicitor looked in as he walked down the side walk, saw me playing with my kids, made eye contact, then proceeded to come up and knock on the door. Creeped me out. 

I hated to get rid of the shades, though, because I truly love them and think they are adorable. In our master bedroom, we still had the awful vinyl roller shades that were most likely original to the house. They were torn, warped from the heat, smelled, and didn't work properly. We decided to toss them and put up the roman shades in their place since the windows are the same size. Privacy is not as big of an issue for the master because of where the windows are and which way they are facing, so the shades work perfect.
They SO MUCH BETTER! Those curtains are cheapies we bought when we moved in just to get by and make our room dark enough at night. I hate them and one day, I'll replace them! 

Day Twelve: We finally touched up all the holes we had spackled a while back. When we painted, we didn't spackle several holes, because we assumed we would hang the same things up on the wall. But, of course, we changed our minds after we painted. This is my hubby stopping to "smile" for the picture of him spackling. This is what I'm working with, people. He's crazy and I love him! And, seriously, who has such perfect teeth?!
I'm super thankful not to have to look at white spackle on the walls anymore!