Friday, February 25, 2011

meet nils and bjorkudden

Remember about a month ago when I mentioned the possibility of revamping our living room?  Well we’ve been busy over the past few weeks trying to make that happen.  It’s not complete but it’s closer and I have to say it feels so much more like home.

I finally feel like our home is a reflection of us.  There are still hand me down pieces of furniture and old favorites, but now it reflects us.  Our style.  Our personality.  I read this phrase somewhere and I think it’s the best compilation of our style:  modern rustic with a vintage twist.   My favorite design magazines/online resources include Country Living, Better Homes and Gardens, Apartment Therapy, and House Beautiful. I love the juxtaposition of a rustic, worn piece of wood paired with modern & retro against soft classic pieces. 

So when it came to our living room I wanted to do it on a budget, bring in pieces that would set the stage, incorporate a picture wall, and bring in more seating.  After ridding our space of multiple items, including some chairs and pictures, we repurposed items from other rooms, revamped pieces with a bit of spray paint, gained a few new pieces and whipped up some unexpected surprises as well.

Gone went the gold gilded and blue floral and in came grays and whites with a punch of persimmon.  Although I would have loved to bring in a few more rustic pieces like a new coffee table and end table, I was outvoted by the hubby who happens to really like the pieces we already have.  Oh well.  That will have to wait for the next house we live in.  But until then, I’m loving the change…it’s truly a breath of fresh air.

How did we get from this to this so soon?


When the hubby headed out on an annual trip out west this girl went out to play.  With paint and spraypaint that is.  The walls went from peachy tan to pale gray in 24 hours.  We used Dutch Boy Refresh from Menards, no-VOC paint, and in the dead of winter it was the perfect choice.  No smell at all!  The mirror also received some star treatment going from gilded gold to dark charcoal gray.  I can’t tell you how nice it is to have a dining table and chairs again.  We felt like such grown ups tonight for dinner.

Here’s the living space revitalized:


Again out with the gilded gold and in with a more contemporary set-up.  The mantle is not set in stone.  Actually I haven’t touched that area at all.  Instead I’ve focused on the bigger picture items.  Note the picture wall, more on a how to coming soon.  The chair was my parents that we’ve inherited and we not only love the print but it’s incredibly comfortable.  The ottoman next to the chair was the deal of a century…$7 at Homegoods on clearance.


Here are my 3 favorite pictures of the new space.  That beauty of a cabinet I inherited from my grandparents.  I’m pretty sure I had been asking for it for the past 20 years, yup basically since I was 10.  It’s actually a 1930’s Zenith Stereo cabinet.  The radio still works and is located on the right side.  In the left side we are keeping our liquor.  Perfect bar cabinet.  It cleaned up quite nice I think!

I’m also loving the new curtains in the dining room.  Who would have known how perfect white would be against the newly painted walls.  Love at first sight.  Also can’t get enough of the pops of persimmon and how nicely they play off of our brick fireplace.  One of the pillow covers is actually composed of two napkins from West Elm that I hand stitched together.  Needless to say, it’s for looks only.

We bought the table and chairs from Ikea…they were a Christmas present from my parents…well actually they gave us money and now they know what they bought us:)  It’s actually the Bjorkudden table that we sanded down and the hubs did a gray paint treatment to.  It looks better than I could have imagined in person.  The chairs our Nils…they’ve become our friends.  Slipcovered…which is perfect for a klutz like me and they nod to modern.  They are also perfect for moving into the living room for extra seating that is actually comfortable.  So that’s that.  Our new space that speaks to us, who we are.  Classic and comfortable but with some flair.

Who wants to come over…we’re ready for you!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

what did i choose ?

Remember when I won my first blog giveaway?

Man is CSN a huge website full of thousands of wonderful things.  Unfortunately I was incredibly overwhelmed.  There were just far too many things to choose from so in typical Andrea fashion I defaulted to something we NEEDED.  Un-fun, not exciting in the least, and incredibly practical.

I chose a new pump for our Aerobed.  We lost the other one and we needed a replacement.  I told you it was incredibly boring and practical.  Maybe if I ever win another one it will be far more exciting.  If it helps, I tried to chose Settlers of Catan but they were all out.  At least that would have been more fun.  Bummer.

But I am happy for the giveaway and for my win and the opportunity to get something new…that’s always fun!

Have you bought anything incredibly boring lately?  Or FUNSmile

Monday, February 21, 2011

happy president’s day


Right after the Superbowl I was watching intently on TV to hear about the National Anthem disaster by Christina Auguilera.   On the View they were talking about how it was an honest mistake, the nerves, the tricky lyrics, cutting her some slack.

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I was very glad they were.  I muted the TV to see if I could sing the entire National Anthem without messing up.  I hate to admit it, but I stumbled a little myself.  I do know the pledge of allegiance though, must be the 12 years we recited it in school.

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But what I found interesting on the View was the fact that Elizabeth Hasselback actually sings the National Anthem with her kids before bed almost every night.  It’s one of their favorites.  One Bible song and the National Anthem.

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If that’s not intriguing enough, they also learn the names of all the President’s in order.  They have a President placemat.  This feat is one I know I cannot do and I’m slightly ashamed.  But here’s to all the Presidents, for our freedom, for our country!

Can you name all the President’s in order?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

favorites in the kitchen

My friend Amanda gave her favorites in the kitchen a couple of weeks ago and ever since my brain has been processing just what items I could not live without in our kitchen.  But before I get into the nitty-gritty, let’s start it off with a picture of where it all happens.

Here’s a pic of the entire kitchen space…kind of small, there is not a lot of counter space, and yet a perfect work triangle exists.  You can’t tell but we only have one drawer in the entire space.


When we first were married I tried to keep the counters clear of clutter.  But 4 1/2 years and a non-existent counter later, I’ve learned to adapt.  I now keep things I use a least a few times a week on the counter or else they would never get used.  In the tray above I keep oils (walnut oil is a favorite) and kitchen utensils and to the right of the range I keep the appliances I use the most.  (the jars to the right of the stove contain kosher salt and regular table salt) Due to the one TINY drawer, our silverware is kept on the counter and in a drawer in our coffee table.


Also to make things a little easier everything for the most part is grouped together.  The coffee station  is next to where I make lists, in the cabinet above are all the coffee mugs.  The cookbooks are in one section and in the cabinet above contains all my baking necessities.  On the counter in glass jars are the 3 ingredients I use almost daily: oatmeal, white unbleached flour, and sugar.  I’ve found being organized in the kitchen and eliminating all those items that rarely get used allows for the kitchen to function better and in turn I want to cook more.

Now for the top 10:

1.    Kitchen Aid 7 Cup Food Processor       

-I use this all the time.  It can be annoying to clean but I literally send it through the dishwasher almost every night.  I use it to grate cheese, grind bread into crumbs, make salsa, you name it I use this.  It makes dinner prep go so quickly.   I used to use a grater but if you saw my hands you would realize why I now use my processor.  Too many accidents!
2.    Kitchen Aid Professional Stand Mixer
-Way before we were married I actually asked for a stand mixer for my birthday.  I liked to cook!  But when we got married I passed the old one down to my sister and upgraded to the Professional for one reason only.  I like making a lot of YEAST breads and the Professional finally has the power to work the dough for me. 

3.    Le Creuset Cast Iron Dutch Oven
-The yellow orange pot on the stove is my vintage dutch oven.  My dad gave it to my mom back 25+ years ago and when I asked for one for Christmas one year my mom unearthed it and gave me hers.  I love it.  It’s super easy to clean and it is hands down my go to pot.  Cooks Illustrated rated this one just as highly and it’s far less expensive.

4.    Silicone spatulas
-These spatulas from Williams-Sonoma are great for everything!  (ps…if they ever crack or anything they will replace them no charge)

5.    Good knives
-Last year for my birthday I finally received the knife I always wanted.  The Wustof 8” Chef’s knife.  Good knives make all the difference and are so worth the expense.  You will have them forever.  I didn’t believe it until I used them at work for years on end. 

6.    Ball Jars

-There’s another post coming for these.  I transformed our pantry with jars…I love it.  But I also use them to hold salt and chia seeds on the counter.

7.    Stainless Steel Cookware
-I have All-Clad pots and Cuisinart Chef’s Classic Stainless pots and I like them both almost the same.  The Cuisinart are much cheaper but do an excellent job.  Yes you may need to use a little more oil or butter but I think it’s worth it.

8.    Mrs. Meyers Soaps
-Yum, I don’t think dish and hand soap could get any yummier smelling or look any cuter next to the sink!

9.    White Dish Cloths
-From Target, the cheap ones.  I go through a dish cloth a day at least cleaning up our counters, sink, etc. in the kitchen.  White is best you can always bleach them!

10.  My cookbook collection

-The Barefoot Contessa collection is on display for easy access along with my 4 favorite Cooks Illustrated cookbooks (Best Make Ahead, Best New Recipe, Best Light Recipe, Best Cooking for Two). I turn to these any time I’m hankering for a new recipe or looking for a tried and true.  They ALWAYS turn out delicious!

Other Favorites:

-Pyrex glass cooking dishes

-Le Creuset bakeware
-DeLonghi Coffeemaker

-Oxo cooking tools
-A rubber potholder (good for opening jars)
-Ziploc freezer bags

Monday, February 14, 2011



Ultimately love is from God.  The greatest love we will ever know was nailed to a cross, the God-man offered his life as a fragrant offering.  Because of this love, I know love.  I can show love and be loved.

I’m thankful for this man, this husband of mine, who though we are imperfect and sin much, we can in part see, know, and experience the love of God.  Our marriage should picture Christ and his infinite love for us.  With grace and forgiveness, love is possible in this temporary union here on earth.  He showers me with love and for that I am grateful.

But love goes beyond marriage.  Love is for others, love involves self-sacrifice, love involves putting aside our desires for another.  Love itself is messy, it is hard, it is so worth it.  Love brings joy to the heart. 

On this Valentines day, we wish you love.  Love from the Father of lights, love from our Savior Jesus, that you would feel and know how much you are loved.

Because you are. 
You are worth being loved. 
For you were created in His image. 
And He loves his creation.

”God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
1 John 4:8b-10

Saturday, February 12, 2011

overnight cinnamon rolls


A few weeks ago I tackled these beauties.  They are hands down the best cinnamon rolls I have ever made, and I have made quite a few different recipes.  They come together well, rise beautifully, and the yeast dough is fool-proof.  Not only are they delicious but I love the fact that you can get the dirty work out of the way the night before and make these the next morning without any of the mess. 

This recipe is from one of my favorite cookbooks, Family Meals by Maria Helm Sinskey and Williams-Sonoma.

Perfect when company is coming over or for a busy weekend morning.

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls (makes 10)

adapted from Family Meals


For the dough: 
  • 1 Tbs. (1 package) active dry yeast 
  • 1/2 cup warm water (105°F) 
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed 
  • 4 eggs 
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar 
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt 
  • 8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature 
  • 8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted 
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar mixed with 1 Tbs. ground cinnamon 

For the vanilla glaze:  

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar 
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt 
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted 
  • 2 Tbs. milk 
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract  


To make the dough, in the bowl of a stand mixer, sprinkle the yeast over the water, allow to bloom for a few minutes, then whisk until smooth. Whisk in 1/2 cup of the flour. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm spot, about 30 minutes.
Add the eggs, granulated sugar, salt and the remaining 4 cups flour to the yeast mixture. Fit the mixer with the dough hook and knead on medium speed until smooth, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the room-temperature butter and continue to knead, adding a little flour to reduce stickiness if needed, until the dough is smooth, 10 to 12 minutes. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until doubled, about 2 hours.

Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface. Roll out into a 15-by-10-inch rectangle. Brush the rectangle with half of the melted butter, leaving a 2-inch-wide strip uncovered on one long side. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the butter. Starting at the long side covered with sugar, roll up the rectangle snugly and pinch the seam together. With the seam facing down, cut into 10 equal pieces. Place the pieces, cut side up, in the prepared dish. Brush the rolls with the remaining butter. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in the refrigerator overnight.

The next morning, remove the rolls from the refrigerator and let rise until half again as high, about 1 hour. Preheat an oven to 350°F.

Bake the rolls until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes.

While the rolls are baking, make the vanilla glaze: In a small bowl, sift together the confectioners’ sugar and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the butter, milk and vanilla, then stir into the sugar mixture to form a smooth paste. Spread the glaze over the warm rolls and serve immediately. Makes 10 large rolls.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Family Meals, by Maria Helm Sinskey (Oxmoor House, 2008).

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

training plan

A couple of weeks ago  I spent some time with my nose in a book, the book Marathon by Jeff Galloway, trying to piece together a training plan for my first marathon in September.  I'm still not sure I can do this, still not sure I want to, but I'm planning it. 

Training started 2 weeks ago.  The 5 day a week kind of training, oh wait, actually it's 6 days a week.  3 days of running and 3 days of cross-training per week.  At least that’s what it is until I keel over and want to die from exhaustion.  That being said, I'm really hoping to stick to it best as I can, though I know that towards the end I will most likely throw in another rest day every has to come in somewhere:)  Here’s an example from the first few weeks:

Mon. Tues. Wed. Thur. Fri. Sat. Sun.
  Yoga 30-45 run 30 Shred 30-45 run Elliptical off 3
  Yoga 30-45 run 30 Shred 30-45 run Elliptical off 4
  Yoga 30-45 run 30 Shred 30-45 run Elliptical off 4
  Yoga 30-45 run 30 Shred 30-45 run Elliptical off 4
  Yoga 30-45 run 30 Shred 30-45 run Elliptical off 5

In an attempt to stay limber and stretched, yoga will become my friend the day after my long runs (Sunday).  Strength training and abs will happen on Wednesdays, either through 30 day shred or another strength workout.  Friday is an easy cross training day that I will probably either do in the pool, on the elliptical, or on the bike.  Long runs are on Sundays and by the end of July will be up to the high teens.

So who’s training with me?  Here are the events I am thinking about and/or hoping to sign up for…anyone want to join me…I’d love the company at any of the events!
April 9                  Challenge Obesity 5k                      $25
May 14                 Maple Grove 1/2 Relay                   $65/team
May 21                 Autism 5k (?)                                     $25
May 22                 Eden Prairie 10k                               $25
June 18                Kids against Hunger 10k                 $25
July 4                   Red White Boom 1/2 Marathon       $55
Aug 29                 Woodbury Lakes 1/2 Marathon       $35   (walking with friends?)
Sept 19                 Fox Cities Marathon                        
What is your favorite race?  Do you have a favorite distance?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

dahlia love

A little pretty on Saturday.

Can I just say how much I love this:

via EmersonMade

I love the ethereal quality and simple beauty.  Perfect addition to a cardigan.


Can I also mention how I adore the name Emerson.  Yup, it’s in my top 3.  Emme, short for Emerson.  I also quite like Ralph Waldo, the poet, not the name.  Too bad the hubs is not a fan like I am, of the name Emerson that is, not the poet.  Phew.

The flower pin reminds me of my wedding bouquet, which would have been my dream if it held peonies or dahlias.  That is if we could have pulled together our wedding in under 3 months or waited over a year, which we didn’t.  Spring would have been the perfect time of year for my favorite flower, the peony. My bouquet was to be full of peonies, specially flown in from Florida for our special day.  Unfortunately Hurricane B, C, or F put a damper on the plan, the week before our wedding.  Good thing our amazing florist was able to create a gorgeous stand in out of roses:

Either way, I love the pale shades of pink with the subtle creams and whites, just like the beautiful EmersonMade flower pin.  I know I won't be purchasing one like that anytime soon so I found some inexpensive stand-ins on Etsy:

do you have a favorite flower? 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

who i am

In October I left my job as a nanny for a chance to “find myself.”  Maybe that doesn’t sound right, maybe it seems like a silly notion.  I mean, by 30, haven’t most people at least figured out what they like and dislike?  I’ve found that we are diverse creatures, always changing.  I know I’m not alone in my search for myself.

Up until now, I’ve never spent a lot of time on me.  I happen to be one of those selfless creatures, although I definitely can be selfish at times.  I’d rather help my husband than have to really think about what I like.  I’d rather take someone’s word for something than have to figure it out for myself.  I’m sure it’s part of who I am, the exact nature of my being, the way God created me to be.  And yet I know in order to most glorify Him in all things, it’s good to know what you are good at, not striving to be something you are not, so you can be used to the fullest.

I guess that’s what I’m after, searching for what I am good at, what I really enjoy, where my gifts actually lie.  I would be remiss if I didn’t share that while growing up I just wanted to be like everyone else.  Our history shapes us.  It doesn’t define us, but it shapes us into who we are.  Our weaknesses and strengths are either pronounced or repressed.  In my case, I’ve been striving to be what the world is telling me I should be, uncomfortable in the skin the Lord has clothed me in.  Anyone else feel this way?  I want to be type-A, organized, extroverted, great at math and science, detailed…I want to be everything I’m not cut out to be.   Sometimes being honest with ourselves is one of the hardest things to do.

This year, I’ve decided to uncover the oppressed parts of who I am, others like my husband already know what these parts are, he sees me every day.  He knows my strengths and weaknesses better than anyone else I know.  He fell in love with the real me, with who I am. I’m hoping that this year, I will do that too.  Fall in love with me, the real me, the me that is so bursting to come out and say hello.

In light of finding me, I’ve taken time to sit, pray, think, and test myself.  Yes, I’ve taken almost every test to help me better understand my strengths and weaknesses.  Here are some of the results (from

Myer’s Briggs:  INFJ

Highlights from INFJ:

INFJs are gentle, caring, complex and highly intuitive individuals.

· Artistic and creative

· They put energy into identifying the best system for getting things done

· INFJs have uncanny insight into people and situations. They get "feelings" about things and intuitively understand them.

· INFJs hold back part of themselves

· INFJs are rarely at complete peace with themselves

· Natural leaders and future-oriented

· Dislike dealing with details unless they enhance or promote their vision

Spiritual Gifts:  Shepherding, Leadership, Faith, Wisdom

I’m hoping that as I grow more comfortable in my own skin, my confidence will grow and I will find joy in being me, the real me, the who I am at the core.

do you know yourself well?  what is your personality type?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Inspiration 101.

Note this next week will mark the beginning of a minor transformation at our house.  *note* I said minor.

In the past we have flipped a few houses and in turn we have acquired some great furniture that we bought and also that we inherited from our family.  The chair in the top corner is one of my favorite inheritances.  Not only is it incredibly comfortable but it has some great style as well.  Other than the couch, side/coffee tables and some of our bedroom furniture, everything else we bought to stage our flip house was not our style.  So out with the old and in with the new. 

Ever since I was little I've loved decorating.  As a kid I would beg my mother to my my friends and I poster board.  On this poster board we would trace out a house, fill in the rooms, and then proceed to add the furniture.  It looked a lot like the game "Race to the Roof" if you have ever played it.  I'm not sure what prompted this love, maybe it was that our family toured the Parade of Homes every spring and fall, maybe it was my builder uncle, maybe it was the roommate in college who I lived vicarously through as she worked her way to a degree in Interior Design.  You shouldn't be surprised that one of the first dates my hubby and I went on was to the Luxury Home Tour.  I think I begged, laid forth obvious clues, and almost bought the tickets myself...I wanted to go that bad.  

Then again, it shouldn't surprise you that I married someone in this field, he's a Design/Build Remodeler and that I love working with my husband.  Probably why flipping 2 homes filled me with ecstatic joy, well until it came to selling them.  Good thing the Lord saw fit to bless that.  We've been saving, selling, and purging stuff from our house and now we are ready to restyle it a bit with more of our taste.

But back to the issues at hand.  Our living room has now been purged of two very uncomfortable chairs and the beautiful chair above has replaced them near the fireplace.  Now I need your help.  This next week while the hubby is off skiing in Colorado I will be here, paint brush in hand, repainting the awful peachy tan we put up on the walls over a year ago with a beautiful pale gray.  I will also be hopefully revamping the table above, it's the Bjorkudden from Ikea, and it will either turn a darker gray or a lighter putty color.
What would you choose? 

Chairs for the table are still under debate...I love the chairs above, lower left, for their versatility and low price.  Ikea again.  Either in white or gray, still undecided.  But they seem like the perfect chair not only for dining but for moving around to the living room for extra seating that is still comfortable.

Also we are hoping to incorporate my grandparents old record player cabinet.  The hope is to revamp it into a bar cabinet after removing the stereo components.  Don't worry when we actually get to this, I'll post pictures:) 

Pillows and accessories above.  Will wait until these go on sale, that's why I mentioned above this is going to take a bit.  After all, it's just a *minor* transformation:)