Wednesday, February 26, 2014

two hundred and nineteen days

**photo via kristen marie photograpy - this is a photo of another wedding that took place at our wedding venue.**
aka: this will be us in less than 8 months!

"Marry your best friend. I do not say that lightly. Really, truly find the strongest, happiest friendship in the person you fall in love with. Someone who speaks highly of you. Someone you can laugh with. The kind of laughs that make your belly ache, and your nose snort. The embarrassing, earnest, healing kind of laughs. Wit is important. Life is too short not to love someone who lets you be a fool with them. Make sure they are somebody who lets you cry, too. Despair will come. Find someone that you want to be there with you through those times. Most importantly, marry the one that makes passion, love, and madness combine and course through you. A love that will never dilute - even when the waters get deep, and dark."
- Unknown.

Nicholas, I can not wait to marry you.
To promise to love and cherish you for all of the days of our life, while standing in front of our loved ones.
I love you, so very much.
You are truly are my best friend.


ps- my bridal salon called the other day and said my dress has arrived!
I am just dying to go try it on and get the alteration process started so I can soon bring that beautiful dress home with me!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

-the Italian wONEderpot-

Today, I bring to you a stockpot full of amazingness:

adapted from this recipe.
It is wonderfully, deliciously spicy and makes the perfect one-pot meal {hence the name}.

Let's get started, shall we?

- one 19oz package (or 5 links) of HOT Italian sausage
- one medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
- White wine, a generous drizzle - I used about 1/4 cup
- one 10oz. package of frozen spinach
- 4 cups of vegetable broth, +2 cups of water
- one 28oz. can of diced tomatoes, not drained
- 16oz. of fettuccine noodles
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/2 Tbsp of dried basil
- 1/2 Tbsp of dried oregano
- 1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes
- freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
- Olive oil

What you'll need:
One large stockpot.

How to:
- Throw the stockpot on the stove and get it heated up (set burner to med-high)
- Add 1 Tbsp of olive oil to the stockpot.
- Remove casings from the sausage & crumble into the hot pot. I literally just cut an opening on one end of the sausage and squeezed out the meat in chunks from the casing. Sounds weird, but it works!
- Allow sausage to brown just a bit, and then add in the sliced onion.
- Cook until the sausage is completely browned/cooked and the onion is tender/translucent.
- Drizzle in some of the white wine & allow to cook down. This will deglaze the pot, aka get up all of those yummy bits of sausage/onion juice/morsels that are stuck on the bottom. *use of wine is optional*
- Throw in the block of frozen spinach & as it thaws, pull apart and stir into the rest of the mixture until it thaws completely.
- Stir in the vegetable broth with the water, tomatoes, fettuccine (broken in half), basil, oregano, garlic, red pepper flakes, another splash of the white wine, and black pepper.
- Cover the mixture to bring it to a rolling boil.
- Turn the heat down to medium (keep at a boil), uncover, & cook 10-15 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated & the pasta is tender/cooked.
- You're done! That's it!
- Bask in the glory of the one pot meal that you just created and the pile of dishes/pots/pans that you did not.
- Enjoy!

We topped ours with fresh basil leaves and some shredded Parmesan cheese. We also soaked up all of the juicy goodness at the bottom of the bowl with some garlic bread. Also, also: we had leftovers for daysss. But, in reality, this probably makes about 6-8 adult, dinner-sized portions.

There you have it!
So easy. So tasty. So worth giving it a shot.
You're welcome. ;)


Monday, February 17, 2014

Chalkboard Wall Tutorial

Ever since we began the search for our home, I had envisioned having a chalkboard wall somewhere in the house. So, this has been a long-time-coming project for us. Nicholas finally made my dreams come true a few weeks ago when, on a whim, we went to our local Home Depot and picked up all of the necessary items to create this masterpiece on the blank wall in our kitchen.

What you'll need:

- Rust-Oleum Specialty 30-oz. Flat Black Chalkboard Paint
**make sure to have the associates at the paint center shake your paint can before purchasing**
(they also have the kind that you can have tinted to be whatever color your heart desires!)

- Enough trim to frame your chalkboard (if you're going to frame it). We used this kind:
(you can trim the molding down to whatever length you need, free of charge, right in the aisle at Home Depot.)

- 2 inch finishing nails to mount your trim/frame

- A regular high-density paint roller, painter's tape, tray, etc.
*you do NOT need this kind of roller, which is what the associates at HD told us to purchase and it didn't work well at all. You could see the spiral lines in the paint once it applied, and it did not roll out the paint well - it was as if you were just pushing the paint on with a sponge*

 - hammer, level, willing assistants, moral support, etc.

That's it!

Now, let's get started:

1- Have a spot picked out for your chalkboard and clean the walls with a damp cloth before applying anything. To be honest, we didn't clean our walls first but I feel that you probably should.

2- Measure your space // frame out your board-to-be with painter's tape:
**be sure to use your level!**

3- Pour a little of the paint into your tray and get started!
Also known as: grab & drink watch your stud-of-a-fiancé get to work ;)
**Keep pouring more paint into the tray, as necessary. You don't want to dump more than you need in there so as you don't waste any of it.**

4- Allow paint to dry.
It dries to the touch within 30 mins. (aka: enough to start framing) and dries completely within 24 hours (I think).

4- Watch as your dog and your daughter fall asleep on the kitchen floor while your worker-man realizes that, because our walls are plaster they are also uneven and therefore make framing this board a pain in the a**.

5- Here is where the moral support comes in:
Your worker man works late into the night, cursing up a storm, trying to get this frame to work.
Finally, he gives up for the evening and goes to bed (after ruining the trim because our first mistake with this was thinking that we need screws to attach the trim to the wall. No, no, no - finishing nails are the way to go!)

6- Wake up the next day with a fresh outlook on the project. Go purchase another set of trim and finishing nails and a protractor to cut those tricky angles/corners in the trim. Complete said project in no time at all.

7- Caulk any gaps in the corners you might have and then paint over them & the nail heads with extra white paint you may have laying around the house.

8- Voila! You are finished.

^^pay no mind to our messy laundry room^^

There are still a few items that I have yet to purchase in order to complete this project:

- We still need a pail to hold all of our chalk so that it is more easily accessible.
I'm thinking something along the lines of this:

- A few chalk pens, though I've seen in reviews that they aren't great for wall chalkboards because they don't come off as easily. We shall see, though.

- Something to clean the chalkboard off better.
I have read that magic erasers and Windex wipes work well, so I'll have to give those a try!

All in all, I could not be any happier with the finished product!
We love using it to just doodle on, write down our grocery list, and it really just make this home feel more like "ours" now that we've added this special, personal touch to one of our main living spaces.

And I am so thankful to have such a crafty man willing to go along with (& enjoy!) my crazy décor ideas.


Sunday, February 16, 2014

our valentine's day

Our Valentine's Day actually started a little early this year. We got 13 inches of snow on Thursday morning (the 13th) and therefore we were all snowed in for the day. I took that opportunity to make Peyton (and Nick!) a holiday themed breakfast since I wouldn't be able to for the actual day of.

^^wearing Nick's shoes because, well, I was too lazy to go find mine for the photo op. ps- SNOW!^^
 My intention had been to make pink heart-shaped pancakes. But I am AWFUL at making pancakes. I always have the pan too hot. & the ladle that I was using to spoon the dough into the pan didn't really make it easy to create heart shapes. So, that being said, we ended up with messy but delicious pancakes (recipe here) with a blueberry and strawberry syrup (based off of this recipe here) with eggs and sausage as a side.

Peyton's sweet Valentine's treats were some strawberry tic-tacs and a strawberry sorbet chapstick. She loved them, of course, and wanted to eat all of the tic-tacs in one sitting.

^^the roses my Momma and Peyton got me.^^
We then spent the afternoon playing Doc McStuffins Operation, which is way easier than the original Operation and is therefore is not as much fun.

While we played, Nick worked hard.
He shoveled a path all the way out to our cars and one out to the front curb.
Love that man.

Peyton had the random idea to use our NEW chalkboard (post coming soon) to draw fruit which then turned into drawing things from the Cloudy with A Chance of Meatballs 2 movie. 

After we finished all of the baby taco-diles we moved on to crafting a little V-day frame to hold the remaining two valentines we had ordered to hand out to family and her classmates at preschool.

^^super cute, right?!^^ 
These were the valentine's she did for her classmates and then for a few family members. For family, she also made little handcrafted cards to send along as well. :)

Her dadda (who doesn't live very far away and has a big truck & insisted on coming to get her despite the snow) then came to pick her up a little later and Nick and I just spent the rest of the evening snuggling. He had made plans for us to have our Valentine's dinner (at a surprise location with another surprise to follow!) that night, buuuut the snow kind've ruined those. So we will try again next week!

Fast forward to the next morning, actual Valentine's Day. We had gotten even more snow that night, so Nick (who has off every other Friday, lucky duck) was out early helping to shovel away the snow so that I could get to work.

^^there's a table and set of 4 chairs under there somewhere.^^

Look how tall the snow is! When I measured again that morning, it was up to 16 inches.

^^My handsome shoveler-to-the-rescue.^^
Nick had gone to pick Peyton up right before I got home from work and that meant that I had time to set up all of his love-day goodies to surprise in him upon their arrival home.

He loves peanut butter (obviously), we don't drink much but vodka is a favorite of his, and the tomato paste is a running joke we have that stems from when we had first started dating and I had asked him to pick up some tomato sauce from the store for me... and instead he came home with paste.

^^Peyton's card to him. :)^^
Once they got home, we started to bake and decorate our sugar cookies!
I had premade the dough the day before and had it sitting in the fridge - but it got WAY to cold/hard so I ended up having to microwave it for a bit to get it loose enough to roll out. It may have gotten too lose and was a hot mess (literally) but we made it work!

Sugar cookie recipe found here.

A certain four year old may have gone a little crazy with the application of decor to said cookies, but what else do you expect? :)

^^I would NOT recommend laying hot cookies on wax paper on top of your dining room table. It WILL ruin the finish of your table. I learned this the hard way.^^ 

All in all, it was a beautiful two days and I was so happy to have spent it with two of my favorite people.


Helene in Between