Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day 2011


*A big thank you to all the veterans, men and women in service, and all who have fought, served, and died to bring us freedom. Especially my Grandpa.*

I love Memorial Day weekend.  It’s the unofficial start of summer, at least for my family.  There are years of memories, spending this weekend with my family up at our cottage on the lake.  This year many of them are there, but Alex and I stayed back.  We *wish* we were there!

Weekends like this bring up the two things I miss about not living in a house:  the ability to grill and to have lots of people over to eat, drink, and play games.  Although we are not with my family, we are lucky enough to have the hubbies parents joining us for a yummy lunch complete with cards and fun!

Here’s our menu this year (recipes to come):

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                        Have a safe, fun and very enjoyable Memorial Day!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Spring Cleaning: Your Clothing


Now that we’ve gone through the closet, it’s probably now a good idea to gather some tips as to what stays and what goes.  I’m a thrower or giver.  You might be a saver or hoarder.  We’re all different in that way but we all need some little tips to help us either keep things worth keeping or throwing things worth throwing.  Neither way is completely right so we all need a little help.

Every season when I switch the closet I inevitably begin weeding out things that have seen a better day. Then go the items I haven’t worn in awhile.  The ones that never fit right or have warped in the wash machine.  Every item gets held up, looked over, and sometimes tried on just to make sure.  Multiple piles are made and then donated, sold, or thrown away.  I will also find myself at other times throughout the year going through this whole process again.  Although that’s less likely, because THIS can be time consuming.

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Here are some great tips for going through your clothing or any other closet/items that need weeding through:


1.  Designate an area for 3-4 piles:  Give, Consign/Garage sale/Craigslist, Throw and Maybe.

2.  Look the item over (for holes, smells, under arm discoloration, shape, and color).  If anything is not up to your liking put it in the appropriate pile. Most often these end up in give or throw for me.  It’s good to assess the condition the item is in and place accordingly.  REMEMBER: CONDITION

3.  If you are unsure about something, try to come up with an outfit for the piece.  Try it on.  If you don’t feel comfortable or it doesn’t fit right it probably never will.  Let it go.  You must feel comfortable in the item or you will never wear it.  REMEMBER:  COMFORT

4.  Assess the last time you wore the item and how often it gets used.  Obviously your favorite little black dress you wear twice a year is a keeper if you love it and look great in it.  But that cardigan which “cost $2.50 on sale and has never fit right so you have never wore it” must go.  Fit is important and ill-fitting clothing is never a good thing, this includes things that have either shrunk or been misshapen in the washer.  Repeat after me if doesn’t fit right now, it NEVER will!  REMEMBER: FIT

5.  Parting with sentimental items are hard.  If there are a few that have a story, store them in a plastic bin and find a home for the bin.  Go through this box every year or so and see if the memories are still strong.  If so, keep it.  Some people can get ride of their wedding dress, I can’t.  I still LOVE trying it on!  REMEMBER:  SENTIMENT

Those were just some quick tips on sorting through clothing.  Remember CONDITION, COMFORT, FIT, and SENTIMENT are ALL important tips for sorting through clothing.

Happy Sorting!

Friday, May 27, 2011

pancakes

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Apparently you can make pancakes out of anything these days.  I wish I wouldn’t have seen all these mouth watering images.  Now all I want are pancakes.  Maybe we’ll try out one of these this holiday weekend!

Warning:  Drool worthy pancakes coming up.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.


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Funfetti Pancakes
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Rainbow Pancakes

23194785_ajM9Eedc_c Banana Pancakes

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Lemon Poppyseed Pancakes
17243107_bETxEU9R_bCarrot Cake Pancakes
23191167_U8BOui4T_bCinnamon roll pancakes

If you could choose one, which one would you make first?  I think it would be a toss up between the carrot cake and funfetti for me!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Cookies and Cream


We are ice cream fanatics at this house.  We will never turn down frozen custard, soft serve, blizzards, or hard pack ice cream.  Almost every flavor although, of course, we both have our favorites.  Rocky Road or Chocolate for me and Mint Chocolate Chip for him. 

After Christmas I had a little extra money to spend and while perusing Sur la Table, I realized they had an ice cream maker on sale for just $35.  I was definitely swooning.  I put my best tactics to work, leaving the store and heading to run another errand to see if the desire for a new kitchen toy would pass.  It didn’t.  I just couldn’t pass up that price.  So I bought it.  And already we are loving it.
ice-21r       We have this one from Cuisinart but in Royal Blue.  Retails for $49.99.

So far we’ve made a deliciously tart Lemon Sorbet and the other week we made Cookies and Cream.  I love the cookies and cream ice cream from a local shop, Sebastian Joe’s, so I purposely added more crumbs to get the darker color.  Annie, from Annie’s Eats made this as well and you can take a peek at her results for a more white cookies and cream.

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At the end of the day, this is the perfect treat, especially when it’s served in a cone.  Delightful, delicious, indulgent, and so refreshing.  Here’s to ice cream and summer!

Cookies and Cream Ice Cream
adapted via Annie’s Eats from Pennies on a Platter

Ingredients:
1 cup whole milk
2 cups heavy whipping cream (I used half and half)
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
15-20 Oreo cookies, coarsely chopped (I crumbed 5-10 shells and discarded cream as well as the coarsely chopped Oreos)


Directions:

Combine the milk and cream in a saucepan over medium heat.  Heat until bubbles form around the edges.  

In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until smooth and well combined.  Slowly add the warm milk mixture to the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly to prevent curdling.

Pour the mixture back into the saucepan.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, about 5-8 minutes, until the mixture is thickened and coats the back of a spoon (about 175 degrees F on an instant read thermometer).  Pour the liquid through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl.  Stir in the vanilla extract.  

Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator until completely chilled.

Once the mixture is well chilled, pour into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  (I added the crumbs at this point, chunks later)

Once the mixture is softly frozen, transfer half of it to a storage container.  Add half of the chopped Oreo pieces and fold in gently with a rubber spatula.  Add the remaining ice cream and Oreo pieces to the container, and fold once more until
the mixture is evenly combined.  Freeze until completely hardened. 

Source: adapted from Pennies on a Platter

Saturday, May 21, 2011

spring cleaning: your closets

scc copyThe hubby and I have always shared a closet.  From the time we got married until now, there’s been one closet for the two of us.  And it’s worked and I can honestly say, it’s never been an issue.

If you are just checking out C&A, this is part of a series of spring cleaning areas of our lives. This is the second post following de-cluttering your purse!
25639284_iT6gJGT5_b                                               (this is not our closet)

There are ways to organize a closet and make even the smallest closet work for two.  Our best decision ever was to make a clothing switch by season.  It’s work but I think it’s best even if you don’t share a closet.  Here’s my reasoning:

1.  Bi-yearly everything in your closet gets to be seen with new eyes.

I love this.  It makes me go through our clothing.  And it makes purging so much easier.  Every fall and every spring I go through everything, every drawer, every hanger.  The whole bit. Bags of clothing are earmarked for Goodwill or the Consignment store. 

2.  We cannot hoard.

By going through everything at least once a year, we keep hoarding at bay.  Right now we have 3 Rubbermaid bins.  2 for clothing and 1 for shoes.  We store them in our closet since we’re in an apt. This means that every time we go through things, we cannot keep any more than can fit in those 3 bins.  Either it’s in the closet, in our dresser, or in a bin.  It’s perfect.  I like simplicity, less-clutter, and I love not hoarding things we will never use or wear.  We cannot buy more than we can store.

3.  It’s fun.

Switching out the closets is something I will always do even if by chance we end up with more space.  I love it.  It is mood brightening.  In the spring it’s fun to pull out spring hued clothing, shorts, and flip-flops in anticipation of sunny days.  In the fall I long to bring out the cozy sweaters, corduroy pants, and fall hues.  They speak of cozy nights by the fire and trips to the orchard.

I wish I could get everyone to do this.  It’s so worth it.  Even if you don’t have a lot of stuff. 

How do you usher in the seasons when it comes to your clothes closet?  Do you make a switch with the seasons or is it just too much work?

Friday, May 20, 2011

In Celebration Of


This past Sunday I felt incredibly honored and celebrated.  7 months ago I left my job as a nanny.  The crazy part is that I had been with that family since my junior year of college.  8 years.

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They were there when I graduated from college.  And when I started graduate school.  They helped me discern what to do and celebrated my strengths.  They were there when we found out my step father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and when he passed away.

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They said Bon Voyage as I set sail to France for a summer and welcomed me back with open arms when I returned.  They were one of the first people I told when we were engaged and they were they when we got married. 

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They have been a part of my life.  Their kids will not forget me and I will not forget them.  They are a part of me.  I’ve held them when they were hurt, wiped away tears, celebrated last days of school and the little accomplishments.  I have potty-trained, been thrown up on, wiped bottoms.  I was not their mother, but while I was there, I was like a mother, but more than that I was a friend, a big sister.

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I love this family.  The way they have cared for me and allowed me to love fully their boys.  When I started Riley was just 3 and Liam 1.  They are now 11 and 9.  Colin came around and from the time he was born we formed a special bond.  He’s 6 now.  When I left they gave me a book of pictures, of notes, of memories.  My favorite part…when asked the nicest thing I had done for them, they answered “EVERYTHING”.  That made it all worth it.

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On Sunday they celebrated me.  They installed a paver in celebration of me.  I was extremely touched.  For me there are no corporate awards or honors, there were raises but no change in status.  There was just love from a family, who took me in, and allowed me to love in return.  I miss them.

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Jerry, Jennifer, Riley, Liam and Colin thank you for being a part of my life. 
I’m grateful for that.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Frozen Strawberry Limeade


If you were to come to our house, this is what I would serve you.

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The past few weeks the hubby and I have been quenching our thirst with delicious frozen strawberry limeade.  So incredibly easy and perfect for spring while dreaming of summer.  The other night we also noted that it tasted like a non-alcoholic daiquiri or margarita…perfect for taco night!

So versatile, so easy, so good for you. Although it’s hard to believe.

Frozen Strawberry Limeade
(courtesy of Me) Serves 2

2 Cups of Frozen Strawberries (we buy these at Costco, no sugar added)
1 Cup of Limeade (made from concentrate or store bought)
3 T Sugar
1/4 – 1/2 C of Water

1.  Place in the blender the strawberries, limeade, and sugar.  Mix.
2.  If your blender needs more liquid, add water as needed.

Seriously this is just too yummy to pass up and just think, you get a whole serving of fruit!

Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Plain wisdom

When I think of plain, I usually conjure up images of dowdy, tasteless, regular, ordinary, and well, plain. I don’t usually think Amish. But maybe it’s because we don’t live alongside an Amish community, maybe not.

In return for a review, I received the book “Plain Wisdom” by Cindy Woodsmall and Miriam Flaud, from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishers, for free as part of their Blogging for Books program.  I figured this was a great partnership considering I love to read and free books sealed the deal.  I found out about the program from my friend
Lisa and I’m so excited to keep up with it.

This is such a delightful book. I really enjoy almost all books Amish or olden days so I was sure this would be a hit. The book is made up of short little snippets of life happenings from the voice of Cindy, the Englischer, and Miriam, an Old World Amish woman. The Introduction depicts the books as this: "a collection of events in our lives-from early childhood to just a few months ago-and the lessons we've learned, insights we've discovered, words of wisdom, Amish recipes, pictures of the Amish culture and even a touch of Amish and "Englischer," or English, humor."

"We get only one chance at making a good first impression.  Being imperfect humans, we tend to be overly cautious, afraid of messing up. But when we're not our true selves, we can lose more than we gain." (pg.127)


That's one of Miriam's (Amish) many nuggets of wisdom found in this book.  Miriam and Cindy share from their lives, short excerpts depicting the blossoming of a true friendship.  Interwoven with life and tradition is the strengthening of faith, encouragement from the scriptures, and the love of friends.

I was so greatly encouraged by Miriam, most of all.  There is a beauty and truth behind her words and we would all be blessed to slow down, savor the moments, and enjoy a little time just being plain. I would recommend this book to any woman at any age. 

I was given this book for free by WaterBrook Multnomah Publishers in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Spring cleaning: your purse

Since I’m so excited spring is here I figured it’s right time to have a new series.  In the next few weeks I’m spotlighting some spring cleaning ideas.  Purses, closets, finances, clothing, and most of all life.  We get a little cluttered through winter, hibernating amongst our things.  So I’m thinking we can all help each other find new ways to de-clutter, re-evaluate, and re-organize some of the things we surround ourselves with.

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My purse is seriously an issue.  It goes with me everywhere.  I have a few favorites and they all get used.  And stuffed to the brim with lip gloss, old receipts, papers, kleenex, and other random things.  Most often when they need to be switched I look the other way and stuff the unwanted one in the closet until the next time I’m ready for that bag to reappear. 

Problem.  They go back to their home still stuffed full.  Because who has the time to sort through at the point of the purse switch.  Maybe you do.  I’m not that organized…YET!

But last month I tried to change all that.  I plopped down on our couch, did a little googling, thought through my needs, and did a little de-cluttering.  Every purse was pulled down.  The papers and junk we tossed in the trash, all gone through first I might add.  Old purses that haven’t seen the light of day for years were donated.  But once this was all done, I was still faced with an issue. 

The wallet issue.  I wanted something that would hold all the cards (credit, gift, savings, etc.), my checkbook, receipts, cash and change, and my cell phone in a pinch when I just need my wallet.  I also didn’t want it to be bursting at the seams.  I looked high and low, perused, tried, and then found the one.  It was spendy, not gonna lie.  But I think I’ll have it forever.  (ps…I’ve seen wallets like this one half off at TJ Maxx or knock-offs at other stores)

Here she is, the HOBO Lauren:

DSC_0598A beautiful neutral.  Because she has to remain classic and timeless.

Opens and closes with a sturdy magnet.  Most used cards and license right at your finger tips. (Costco Amex, Debit Card, and HSA card).  This is also the spot I store receipts from the day to be sorted through at night.

Inside she’s amazing.  One side opens to hold all my other cards.  Store cards, discount cards, and gift cards.  I can also stow my phone here and still close the pouch.  The other side has a zipper pouch perfect for change. I also stow my checkbook and register here along with any cash I have.

Seriously she’s changed my life.  No longer am I looking for 5 different items when transferring purses.  Instead I just move Lauren.  So handy, so mobile, so organized.

My other great trick:  I have a handy little pouch with a mirror inside that I keep my lip gloss and chapstick in.  That way that little pouch gets moved as well.  I might toss a pack of gum in there too.  It’s come in incredibly handy when the hubby needs chapstick. 

Again, streamlining life, one step at a time.

(check out how much one of my favorite bloggers loves her lauren too!)

How do you keep the purse clutter and switch under control?

Friday, May 13, 2011

watermelon

That’s what I’m craving right now.  I can’t wait until the harvest comes in.  June, July, whenever you harvest watermelon in MN…I want the real deal.  In season, local watermelon.  Because if we were honest with ourselves it just tastes better that way.

When the harvest rolls in then I’m going to make this everyday:


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so easy.  I checked.  and looking so delicious.  I want summer right now.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The colors of spring

 

 


First of all, thank you for all the kind comments regarding the last post.  Made my heart swell!

In our neck of the woods it seems spring has decided to stick around. I’m so grateful for that; for the sunshine and budding trees, yellow daffodils and the gentle falling of rain.  Spring is by far one of my favorite seasons, tied with fall of course.

But there are certain things that just scream spring to me mainly in color.  Spring to me is vibrant kelly green, soothing turquoise, bright sunny yellow, and ever so classic, navy blue.  I’d go so far to say that I actually find myself drawn towards these colors when I get dressed, look through home d├ęcor magazines, and pick out gifts.  If I’m head to toe in navy and kelly green you can now know I have tasted spring.

You can also tell by what I’ve pinned on Pinterest lately:

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One day, when we are in a house of our own, we will surround ourselves with the colors of spring.  No dark, dreary grays and muted tones, instead we will have spring all year round, with sunlight bouncing off bursts of cheer filled color.  Maybe not so many bold colors on the walls, but furniture, yes, curtains, yes, rugs, yes.  I want to be saturated by spring.

Happy spring!