Wednesday, April 2, 2014

An Ikea Makeover

There are definite advantages to spending a majority of time indoors in the winter;
My house gets some much-needed TLC!
Let's face it: when the weather is as gorgeous as it's been the last few days,
the last place I want to be is in my house.
[I am quite efficient at concocting excuses to be outdoors, let me tell ya.]
But when it's cold and dreary outside, Ikea is the place to be.
I did something this time that I highly recommend:
I shopped online first, and prepared my list of the things I wanted/needed.
Ikea is amazing...but it can also be totally overwhelming!
This saved me so much headache,
and my shopping buddies still loved me when we were ready to head home. Win!

I got this fabulous new floor lamp for the corner of our living room.

I love the industrial style of this lamp. And the shiny chrome isn't too bad either!
It cozies up the end of the sofa,
and makes me want to sit down and read a book. 

The nursery needed some serious attention.
When you spend a majority of your time in a space, you want to enjoy being there, right?
Well, I didn't....until I made a few minor major changes.
Like the lamp that stuck out like a sore thumb because there was no other black in that space.

See what I mean?
A new lamp transformed the area!
I also added some artificial greens in a white pot, also from Ikea.

I didn't find this lamp online but I was sold as soon as I saw it in the store!
I love the classic design and how it blends into the room.

I got a pendant for the nursery for the whopping price of $5.
That's some bang for your bucks!
I'm working on a canvas for the wall behind the crib
and still plan to get some sheer curtains to soften the windows.
It's made a huge difference in how I feel about this room!

Then I found some smaller items that I just couldn't pass up,
like this pitcher and the runner underneath it.

I'm learning that a few small changes can make a dramatic change in a space
and it's wonderful to be able to do that without breaking the bank!
What's your favorite Ikea purchase?

Monday, March 17, 2014

Of Snow Days & Apple Fritters

 Some things just go together...
like peanut butter and chocolate,
sunshine and flip flops,
and apple fritters and snow days.

When I saw the weather forecast,
I wasn't exactly thrilled at the thought of yet another snowstorm!
But then I realized that spring is just around the corner,
so why not just enjoy the weather I'm given?

There's something about the snow flying that makes me want to get in my comfiest clothes (namely pj's)
put in a good movie and snack on some yummy food.
Sunday night was the perfect time to do that!
I didn't complain about having some extra time with my man,
since he'd been gone to Indiana for a conference for the previous 3 days.

After the storm had ended, I bundled up the kiddos and we trudged through the snow to the mailbox.
The snow was deep enough that Hadassah could barely walk through the drifts,
but she still insisted on doing it herself!

Since my strategic plan to slip out the door while the baby slept didn't work the way I'd hoped,
I resorted to holding the baby in one arm
while snapping pictures with the other.

She happily hopped in her car, but didn't make it very far.
Someone really ought to make toy snowplows;
just think how much fun they'd have and we wouldn't have to shovel the walks!

After putting the kids to bed, I happened to open my Bible to Job 38, and thought it was the perfect passage to read after seeing the blanket of snow.
"Have you entered the storehouses of the snow? (v22)
Who fathers the drops of dew? From whose womb comes the ice?" (v28, 29)

I'm in awe of the power of God!
All of creation speaks of His glory.

Now, about those apple fritters....
I always think of doughnuts on snow days, but don't really want to make a whole batch for us to eat.
I looked on Pinterest and found a recipe for apple fritter bites.
It was a small batch, so it was perfect for us!

1 1/4 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup milk
1 egg
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cup chopped apple, (can use granny smith, gala, and rome apples) pea size
1 cup powered sugar
3 tablespoons milk or half and half
oil for frying
In a medium bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt; set aside. In a small bowl, stir together milk, egg, vanilla, and butter until egg is mixed well. Pour into dry ingredient and just stir until all ingredient are mixed; add apples and fold in gently. Heat oil around 365 degrees and drop in oil with a small cookie scooper being careful not to over crowd. Once in the grease bubbles, turn fritters over and flatten a little and fry until golden brown. It takes about 35 seconds on each side on this size. Adjust cooking time on size of the fritter and the temperature of the oil.

In a small bowl, mix together powdered sugar and milk until smooth and creamy; set aside.  When golden brown, remove the fritters from the hot oil and lay on a sheet pan lined with paper towels.  When slightly cooled, dip in the glaze and place on a wire rack over a sheet pan to let the excess drip off.  Eat warm.  Enjoy!

I used my Fry Daddy, and turned it on before I had the batter mixed up so the oil was hotter than it probably should have been, so they ended up being a little darker than I'd planned.

But it didn't seem to matter after I'd rolled them in glaze.
Oh. My. Total deliciousness!
These are a treat for sure.

Let's just say, I made my husband's night!
And mine :)
I believe we have ourselves a new snow-day tradition!

Throw in a bowl of French onion soup,
and I'm in heaven!

Somebody, remind me again why I don't like snow days!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

NYC Getaway: Part II

I'm finally getting 'round to Part II of our fun NYC getaway!
[If you missed Part I, click here.]
Sunday was unforgettable, starting with a beautiful service at the Brooklyn Tabernacle,
and ending at The Lion King show in Broadway!
Both were inspiring, in totally different ways of course.
Monday was more of a sightseeing day for us.
We walked...and walked...and walked!
A word to the wise: if you don't know exactly where you're going, 
that's probably where you will end up! [Ask me how I know]
We were looking for a sweet little spot for brunch,
and we stumbled into this place around noon, quite famished.

Ferrara's is known for their sweets, 
but they had an assortment of delicious brunch foods as well.
We chose the eggs & bacon with feta on a crescent roll. Yumm!
Since we'd snacked on cannolis from a street vendor, we didn't have an appetite for any pastries.
So sad...

We headed next to Ground Zero,
and saw lots of interesting old buildings along the way.

Ladder Co 10

The Christmas tree at the fire station, covered with memorabilia from the fallen firefighters.

We waited in line for a few minutes, and then we were informed that they were sold out of tickets to Ground Zero. Really??!! 
It was so disappointing that a site of national importance
would sell out of tickets and people would miss the chance to pay their respects.
Just another reason for us to visit again!

We walked from there to Battery Park and took the ferry across the river to Staten Island.
The ride is free, but there is a mob [literally] of people that board it.
 It was a 30 min ride one way and gave us a chance to relax after all that walking!

The NYC skyline was stunning!

We shivered as we crowded on the deck of the boat,
waiting for the Statue of Liberty to come into sight.
I thought about all the immigrants that came to Ellis Island for the first time
and the emotion they must have felt when they first caught a glimpse of this statue.

It hadn't occurred to me when boarding the ferry that we would be able to watch the sun set behind
the Statue of Liberty.
Happy surprise!!

As the sun set, the lights came on and twinkled over the water.

We couldn't have planned this better if we'd tried!
The sunset was glorious.

Lady Liberty, how beautiful you are.

The view of the city at night was pretty special too!

And yup, another tourist shot in front of the Christmas ornaments!

Coolest [and biggest] ornaments ever!

Radio City and some Christmas tree love

When we pulled the curtains back in our room, this was our view!
I could have sit at that window all. night. long.
Of course, I didn't.

And one last shot of the city in the morning...

If you've never visited NYC at Christmas, it is worth the trip!
Don't forget to see a Broadway Show while you're there :)

What are your favorite sites in the city?

Friday, February 28, 2014

The Home-made Series: Shampoo

I've been intrigued by all the homemade soaps, cleaning products and beauty products 
that people are coming up with as an alternative 
to the chemically-laden options that most stores carry.
There seems to be no lack of recipes; all anyone needs is a little time to dive in!
Winter is my project time.
We can't do much outdoors, so my to-do list becomes quite lengthy.
My friend, Edith & I decided to start making some of those recipes
and I wanted to blog about the results.
Obviously, it's a trial-and-error process, and not everything turns out the way you wish. Ahem.
But, it's still fun trying!
And hopefully, I'm learning some things as I go too.

Our first project was homemade shampoo.
The recipe used castile soap as the main ingredient, with honey, coconut milk and essential oils.

Here are the amounts:
  • 1/2 cup liquid castile soap
  • 1/4 cup canned coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 Tbsp. fractionated coconut oil
  • 1 Tbsp. Vitamin E oil
  • 40-50 drops essential oils [we used lavendar & orange]

We didn't find these items in our local stores, although a natural food store would probably have some things.
Vitacost is my favorite place to shop for these ingredients,
and they carried everything but the coconut oil.
That can be purchased on Amazon.

You also need 1 cute little girl with curly hair and a big red bowl.
And a whisk.
Well, you can make it minus the cute little girl, 
but it won't be as...

Just dump the ingredients in a big bowl and stir,
or put on a lid and shake to combine.
Dispense into bottles and shake before using.

Edith loves this shampoo, and my husband has been very happy with it too!
My hair is more greasy and I wasn't happy with how it cleaned it, 
even though it's supposed to work well for more oily hair.
So...I'm sticking with a really basic routine,
which is to wash my hair with baking soda
and rinse with vinegar.
Works beautifully!

Do you have a favorite home made shampoo?

Saturday, February 15, 2014

V Day Musings & the Meaning of Love

Valentine's Day has come and gone,
but with all the controversy about whether or not it's worth celebrating,
I've been thinking a lot about the meaning of this day.
For years, V day was a big deal to me.
When I was single, it was a reminder of what I was missing out on.
After I got married, it was a time to celebrate with my husband...
and hope that just maybe he'd remember to buy me some flowers,
or take me on a date!

Flowers and chocolates and dates are wonderful,
if they don't become the gauge for true love.
Because let's face it,
sometimes we end up getting disappointed.
Husband comes home from work late and is too tired to go out for supper.
Or he completely forgot about Valentine's Day and those anticipated flowers never arrived!

Is that really a true test of love?
Because that's what the celebration is all about, right?
What exactly is that?
It's a selfless giving of oneself for the good of another,
a choice to place another above ourselves.
So, it's really not about me.
It's about pouring out my life into someone else.

It's the mother who labored long hours to make a special dinner for her family.
It's the father who got up early and came home tired, working to pay the bills.
It's the patient care for a sick child.
It's the faithful prayer for someone who is lost.
It's the encouraging word for a friend who is struggling.
And yes, sometimes it is a dozen red roses!

What matters isn't if or how we celebrate Valentine's Day;
what matters is that we love,
the sacrificial kind of love that pours life into those around us,
the Love that Christ poured into us.

"This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us,
and sent His Son to be an atoning sacrifice for our sins."
I John 4:10

And hey, if you got roses on top of that,
consider yourself really blessed!

Friday, February 7, 2014

New York City Getaway Part I

A few weeks ago,
Eddie took me to NYC
for an unforgettable two days!
It was my 30th birthday I will always treasure.

Seeing a Broadway Show has been on my bucket list for a long time.
And getting to experience that with my husband was a dream come true!

We chose to see the Lion King.
It was the most expensive choice, but it was worth every penny!


I worried a little that we would enjoy a musical,
but it was so much better than I imagined it to be!
The costumes, music & story line were all sensational.
It was unlike anything I've ever seen!

"There is simply nothing else like it!" Truth.
From the opening act, we were captivated!

I was actually here! Pinch me.
I'm already dreaming of going back to see another show!! 

Times Square is such a fascinating place, with the mobs of people and neon-lighted billboards flashing advertisements on skyscrapers.

There was so much noise, with constant traffic and the blaring of horns.
I don't think this city ever sleeps!

Dramatic color everywhere!

Roasted chestnuts.
Christmas lights.
Pretty cozy, huh?

An American Girl Doll Store!
Oh, the bliss.
Someday, we'll bring Hadassah here to choose a doll. Maybe I'll get one too.

Rockefeller Center was especially festive with all the lights!

A parade of angels with trumpets welcomed us at the entrance.

It had an absolutely magical feeling.

The Christmas tree was stunning!
Skating on The Rink was on my list,
until I saw that it cost $100/person.
But since that included hot chocolate & cookies, it was almost a good deal!

Here's our obvious tourist shot.
1) It's in front of the tree
2) A stranger's arm is in the photo
3) I look super giddy, because I am!

From there, we headed to The Rock.
The view was breathtaking!!!

The Empire State Building was a beautiful sight.

Seriously, I love the city best at night!
Can you see why?

And this was the view from our motel room...a perfect end to an amazing day!

In case you were wondering, this is what I wore!

Come back soon to see pics of the second part of our trip!! Happy weekend!