30 June 2011

megan's bridals





since a few of you were dying to see my cousin's wedding, i knew you'd love to take a glimpse at megan and jon's wedding photo shoot with ceebee (see her blog here, she is oh so talented.) sarah winward did her awesome flower arrangements. aren't they a gorgeous couple?! megan is a hairstylist, so i was particularly excited to see what amazing hair she would come up with. i absolutely love the twists, braids and bloom. picture perfect. i love the wedding date stitched inside his grey suit, the bouquet wrapped in burlap and her stylish shoes and pedi. everything about it feels so breezy, happy and natural. the quintessential june wedding. (thank you, sarah for the link!)

p.s. i promise to post photos of their reception once i track them down. xo.

patriotic peanut butter cookies



these peanut butter cookies do not need anything other than a glass of milk to accompany them. no fireworks razzle dazzle sprinkle spectacular could make them taste more blissful. therefore this simple recipe is my official pre-fourth of july celebration post.

Patriotic Peanut Butter Cookies
originally printed on the Crisco sticks package

3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 stick Crisco baking sticks (butter flavor)
1 1/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt

Pre-heat oven to 375°F. Combine peanut butter, shortening, brown sugar, milk and vanilla in large bowl. Beat at medium speed of electric mixer until well blended. Add egg. Beat just until blended.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt. Add to creamed mixture at low speed. Mix just until blended. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls 2-inches apart onto greased baking sheet. Flatten slightly in a crisscross pattern with tines of fork. Doing so will make you feel like a domestic goddess.

Bake one baking sheet at a time 7 to 8 minutes, or until set and just beginning to brown. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet. Remove cookies to cooling racks to cool completely. Yields 3 dozen cookies (it's a cinch to double this recipe for a crowd).

happy independence day! wishing you a weekend of sparklers, s'mores, and sunshine. i hope to have lots of camp out photos to share when i return. don't forget, the tour de france starts saturday. set your dvr. i have some very psyched cyclists on my hands. tomorrow i'll share some of our favorite camp out links to get you in the mood.

29 June 2011

feeling romancey / midnight in paris review



my sisters and i went to see midnight in paris last night after spending the evening listening to live music under twinkly lights at my cute cousin's wedding. it was so nice to be out on a summer evening with everyone we love. i love getting dressed up, seeing dan hold babies, drinking lemonade poured by fancy waiters, watching my parents mingle, meeting up with old friends who remember me from my younger years. there is somehow a comfort in being around familiarness. eating wedding food and swaying to music.

it was a gorgeous event; there were fabric flower garlands! hanging lanterns and pom poms! clothespinned snapshots spiraling around the trunks of trees! mossy monograms on iron gates! wood stumps as cake stands! soft colorful shades of budding peonies and fresh floppy petaled blooms! a lacy ruffled wedding gown and a sharp grey suit! shades of grey and and pops of yellow! even a giant oreo cake for the oreo buffet! (her fave!) personal details around every corner. i love a good wedding. i love young love.

so we were in the mood for a romantic chick flick, the perfect thing for four sisters to see. i had no idea what this woody allen film was about. i didn't care. a box of jr. mints, a dark theater and a girl's night. i'm happy. my sis passed along black licorice and hushed our chatter. the opening credits were like the best slide show of the iconic (and everyday) places in paris, the steps you've taken and wish to go back to. have you seen it? what did you think!?

my artsy side (the side that wished i had majored in art history) was swooning the entire time. i loved all the fun references, the interesting plot and owen wilson's charm (and robert redford haircut). the storyline was sweetly amusing and clever and thought-provoking. and everyone wears darling clothes (notice the skinny belts and button-up shirt dresses). this flick is not for everyone, but i'd recommend seeing it without doing too much research on it. the surprises are fun, i love how the movie pulls you in. if you are a lover of the arts, paris, and / or owen wilson, you are in for a pleasant surprise.

p.s. speaking of love, i've been falling in and out of love with houses all week long. (the house hunt is still going strong.)

p.s.s. tune in tomorrow for my favorite peanut butter cookie recipe ever. did i just say peanut butter and paris in the same post? hello matchmaker.

image source.

28 June 2011

independence day round up








we are gearing up for the fourth of july. how 'bout you? i'm dreaming of pretty parties while i should be hunting down camping supplies. my family has a traditional family reunion camp out in the woods, which everyone loves to look forward to. in fact, we just got finished tie dying t-shirts for the kids. it was messy and fun. i am excited to see how they turn out!

fourth of july inspiration is just swimming around pinterest.

+ a slice of fourth of july pie / woman's day
+ silverware, mason jar cup & utensils / a soft place to land
+ a toast to the american flag / emily henson
+ patriotic pretzels / cupcakes & cashmere
+ (oh my cuteness) america party / a field journal
+ independence day flag cake / i am baker
+ soda pop & straw / ruby ju flickr

find more of my fourth favorites here.

27 June 2011

perfect potluck pasta salad / mom's tuna & shells






my mom made big vats of this stuff growing up. it tastes like summer to me. she always whipped it together in one of those large stainless steel bowls every mother seems to have on hand for church parties (or porridge for seven children). it's definitely a recipe for sharing as it makes a ginormous bowl-full.

until recently i have never actually written down the recipe. i am usually craving it and call my mom from the pasta aisle in the grocery store to make sure i have all the ingredients in my shopping cart. i decided it's a must on the blog. living in a home away from home, i've come to realize how handy it is to turn to my blog for favorite recipes as my dog-eared cookbooks are all packed away.

Tuna and Shells 
from Marty's kitchen

22 oz. package of small macaroni sea shells
3 hard boiled eggs, chopped
4 cans of tuna, drained
1 red bell pepper, diced
bunch of green onions, chopped
6 - 8 celery sticks, chopped
can of sliced black olives
 4 - 5  large spoonfuls of light Miracle Whip
salt and pepper

Boil pasta shells in a large pot (set timer for the least amount of cooking time on the directions so the pasta won't be too soft). To save time, I usually throw the eggs into the same pot of boiling water. It works like a charm. Meanwhile, wash and chop the rest of your ingredients. I usually make someone else drain the cans of tuna, as that chore is my least favorite. Feel free to add anything else from your fridge that sounds tasty.  

Drain and rinse pasta (and eggs) in cold water. Place eggs in a bowl of ice water for ease in peeling them. Set aside. Pour vegetables and tuna in a large bowl and mix together. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add pasta shells and hard boiled eggs (chopped). Now fold in the Miracle Whip, try not to think of the calories. This is when you might gross out because you are one of those people who highly prefer mayonnaise over Miracle Whip. And I will tell you to go ahead and use whatever you love. I usually use a regular rubber spatula and mix in two scoops at a time, watching for a good consistency. Stir until the salad is well combined. My mom always liked to top it off with a dash of paprika. Keep cold until your party starts. Enjoy.

on a side note / yes, i am loving the time traveler's wife so far. it's entertaining and sweet and kept me reading the whole way on our two hour road trip. am half way through and am reading it into the wee hours. don't you just love books that keep you up at night?! a very good, relaxing summer read. the story is told, ping ponging back and forth, by two main characters who just happen to be falling in love. i love when characters seem so real that you are surprised to learn they are brunette, as your mind's eye prefers to keep them blonde. another sign that i am fascinated with a book, it inspires me to write.

26 June 2011

recently.










+ sunday pancakes ala dan. banana & chocolate chip or blueberry.

+ melamine plates, a christmas present to grandma & grandpa.

+ favorite vintage sheets.

+ the ms bike ride. strong century riders do it again. hurrah. go team!

+ a good book and a good cookie at crumb brothers cafe.

+ freshly squeezed at the hip mama's lemonade stand, logan, utah.

+ cousins (wearing plaid) with their cars.

23 June 2011

custom made / anniversary party invitations



my most recent design work was a surprise for the honored guests, my parents-in-law. the family is hosting a celebration to honor their mom and dad's fiftieth wedding anniversary. i was delighted (if not a bit intimidated) to create the invitations. i went with a classic, simple design as they are two of the classiest i've ever met. we printed them on the heaviest ivory stock around; which turned out lovely for an extra special event. my father-in-law especially loved that it was a flat two-sided invite (no fussing with additional inserts). am glad i resisted the urge to round the corners and i love how the photo bleeds off the edge. oh the details that make a graphic designer happy.

p.s. don't let those expressions fool you, they were madly in love and still are. isn't that full wedding gown and chic hat w/ veil so gorgeous?! and what about the dapper bow tie and glasses?!

dates & places have been blocked out for privacy purposes.

21 June 2011

Q+A session / managing photos & memorabilia


i would love to know how you organize your memorabilia and keep record. Do you scrapbook, use photo albums, journals (what format), yearly photo books? 

wow. this is a mighty good question. one that motivates me to get back on the saddle, so to speak. it's no secret that i am a firm believer in documenting life. i feel that it's not only therapeutic and fun but necessary for generations to come. my dad is a historian. personal stories keep his business humming. i really love that.

i've kept a diary ever since i could write. since high school i've preferred nicely bound books with blank pages. i also think spiral-bound sketch books are handy to have for letting my thoughts slide recklessly and collaging bits of memorabilia and magazine clippings. i love sketch-books with thick cotton paper (black or white), sturdy enough to get the job done. i have dozens of these sketch books that illustrate my passions from certain eras of my life. in fact, my cousin whitney (her blog, her pins) and i used to create collage books for each other on our birthdays, filled with favorite quotes and inside jokes. they are among my treasured possessions and always inspire me when i need a lift.

however, i must admit that my journal writing ebbs and flows. i've been a very bad diary-writer since last year. i am so grateful i felt the urgency to type out my experience with my miscarriage on this blog as i had no energy whatsoever to write it out in my journal. i regret that i didn't pour myself into writing at that time. though, i can't beat myself up about it now. when you are sad, you are just sad and sometimes that takes precedence over other things. sometimes healing (getting through it, surviving it, moving forward) is more important.

still, i am so glad i have at least one post from the perspective of that event while it was so raw. there is nothing like reading something from the recent moments of a life-altering event. which is why i wrote like a real writer when i got married and later, when i had a baby. i knew i wanted to capture my fresh thoughts up in those special moments. i love that quote that no one likes to write, but everyone loves to have written. i couldn't agree more. i love re-reading diary entries wherein my thoughts are all tumbling around uncertainties and i am tangled up in wondering where my life will lead. it's like a sigh of relief now knowing how some of those issues solved themselves; how those tough spots really were defining events.

and yet i love re-reading the seemingly insignificant entries too. those hold the best gems. my first graphic design job in california (the terrifying, the good, the bad and the ugly), the boys i liked in high school, our family vacations, life when dan was in law school, making ends meet (barely) as a newlywed, oh and all the christmas presents i received from the time i was six to eleven years old (for a period of my life the only thing i ever wrote down was where i went on field trips, who i sat by in class, and what i received for christmas and birthdays... you know, the super important stuff of life).

another confession. i was a big scrapper when i was in high school, when pages were filled with stickers and homemade cut out block letters. i had no fancy machines assisting me; just a pack of markers, photos, scissors, double stick tape and a long dining room table. i loved scrapbooking and am happy all my awesome prom pictures are pasted in for viewing (and ridiculing) for generations to come. later i would work at a scrapbooking store and start to despise the craft. this exposes how narrow minded i can be. once all the options (oh the options) like eyelet setters hit the scene, my love for scrapbooking petered out. i felt like i couldn't keep up. like my style didn't fit in. and when it comes to scrapbooking, if i can't do it right, i'm not going to do it at all. now that i'm older and wiser and over-myself, i am working up the guts to put together a simple scrapbook of benji's life, with narrowed-down favorite photos and memorabilia from his baby-hood.

for now, i keep yearly photo albums. i like the albums with blank space to jot the details in next to the slide-in photo insert. once benji came along the one album a year morphed into two albums a year (with extra photos stashed in my closet). mainly, my goal is simple. get digital pictures printed in small batches. i like keeping my expectations low in this area of life. if it's too complicated, i know i'll give up. i have a folder on my desktop labeled Pics to Print and i throw my favorites into the folder when i am uploading files into my iphoto albums. i upload them to wal-mart or costco's website, order a few extras for grandparents, and feel like i've accomplished something! for special occasions i like to create mini photo albums. (kolo brand has exceptional products.) i'm also delighted that my family started a christmas family scrapbook, wherein every family designs one page (front and back) summing up the bests of their year and sends out copies (with page protectors) to the siblings every christmas. flipping through it is a quick trip down memory lane. i love it and highly recommend it for large families.

when it comes to documenting my two year old, i have a lidded box that i found at michael's. it has rope handles and is decorated with sweet illustrations of tricycles and wagons and is very little boy. i think it's important that you love the album, book or box that you choose, as it will become even more special to you over the years. i put everything meaningful (that i plan on scrapbooking some day) into it. (knowing full well that it may never get put anywhere but the box.) i have saved baby shower cards, hospital bracelets, finger painted masterpieces, his newborn hat, little shoes and more. i love diving into it and knowing these precious items are in a safe place. keeping it on a shelf in his closet (with no stacks, clothes or books leaning on top of it) is the easiest way to preserve his little things. when he was only one month old i created a hard bound album all about waiting for him to come and his birthday from shutterfly and loved the results. (pictured in this post.) i also keep special treasures of mine in a hope chest that my grandma gave to me before she died. smaller items are saved in a music box. and stuff i can't seem to part with (notebooks from college, yearbooks, notes stuffed in high school lockers) are in a box somewhere in someone's basement.

and of course, the blog. i love that the blog is not only good writing practice for me, but is a daily documentation of the thoughts i am thinking, things we are doing, places we are going, roads we have traveled, photos i have taken, things i am making, ways we are living. because of that, blogging (even the most random of posts) is never a waste of time. reading other blogs inspires me in new ways of how to fold together the pages of my life; how to better my documentation. now your turn, i'd love to know, how do you document your life? what methods are you using to bottle up your best moments?

19 June 2011

recently.








+ what dan lovingly refers to as hobbit cake. it's so much better baked in a tube pan (pictured above), as the recipe calls for. all these years i've been doing it in a bundt pan and it never comes out cleanly which causes me much grief. of course, dan still loves the crispy crust that the bundt pan gives. either way, it's sour cream, cinnamon, chocolate chips and cake. a total win win.

+ a street carnival with ponies, firetrucks (along with a firefighter spraying kids with the fire hose!), live music, free stickers and pencils, meeting smokey the bear (shockingly shorter than me), nachos and italian shaved ice. (i hope no one else is keeping track of this crazy awesome summer diet i seem to be on.) what could be greater for a two-year old?

+ a family outing to the zoo.

+ making raspberry jam with dan's ninety-three year old grandma bernice. i asked for a lesson since i'm terrified of making jam on my own. i went straight to the expert. (note her caffeine free diet coke on ice and subway tiled backsplash.) the ladies went to work while my boys had a nap in the cool basement. while the pectin sat for 30 minutes, we talked of houses, the special on grapes (last week; 59 cents a pound! i am now living among bargain shoppers), what the rules of housewifery used to be (clear homemade grape jelly and scrubbed floors!) and the upcoming potluck party. bernice is famous for her jam and her reuse of charming bottles. and handwritten labels.

+ celebrating papas everywhere. (happy father's day, dad!) i have a whole series of dan and benji rolling down the hill. dan came home (still in shirt and tie) and wrestled with benj. luckily we live with the laundry expert. i hope someday benji thinks of me as an expert in certain areas. (hmmm. cutting paper?) it's endearing how dan still calls up his grandma for cooking tips and his mom on tough stains.

16 June 2011

new mama must-haves


today i'm guest posting over on unruly things while alyson snuggles her new baby boy, wolf. (congratulations!!) she has a beautiful blog, which i've read for years now, and she recently launched a baby-devoted blog too, unruly little things. how cute is that. i've loved re-living my pregnancy through hers these past nine months. head on over to read my list of favorite supplies for welcoming a small bundle to the family.

 p.s. i'd love to hear what your favorite mama must-haves are!

15 June 2011

i scream, you scream / homemade oreo ice cream





when summer comes we like to make ice cream. since moving here we've already cranked out two batches! a few years back dan's sister, sarah gifted dan with a white mountain brand classic crank old fashioned ice cream maker. he loves it. it is the perfect treat for when daddy comes home and the sun is setting and we can put benji straight into the bathtub after devouring his cone.

monday we churned out a creamy oreo flavored ice cream. everyone was happy. the recipe was simple to whip up and tasted delicious. the vanilla base is philadelphia style ice cream, meaning it doesn't require eggs. i may give french style ice cream (with eggs) a try next time around for the fun of it. do you have a preference? if you're using a bucket ice cream maker, don't forget the rock salt!

Homemade Oreo Ice Cream
adapted from Williams-Sonoma vanilla ice cream recipe
*makes about 1 quart

2 cups whipping cream
1 cup milk
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt 
1 Tbs. vanilla extract
1/2 package Oreo cookies, crushed into chunks

In a bowl, stir together cream and milk. Add the sugar and salt and whisk until the sugar is dissolved, 3 - 4 minutes. There should be no visible graininess left in the bowl. Stir in the vanilla. Keep cold until ready to pour into ice cream maker. (This is a good time to pour the cookies into a large zip-lock bag and, with a rolling pin, crush them into pieces.) Pour cream mixture only into the mixing container of your ice cream maker and freeze (or hand-crank) according to manufacturer's instructions.

Once the churning is almost through, add the Oreo cookie chunks and churn a bit more until well blended. Pour soft ice cream into containers. (I like using rectangle pyrex pans as they fit so easily into the freezer. Lightly press plastic wrap directly on the surface of ice cream to avoid any freezer burn. For longer storage, wrap a tinfoil layer on top to secure.) Freeze 2 - 5 hours longer and serve.

*note / i doubled this recipe for our bucket ice cream maker. it was enough ice cream to fill a 9x13" pan and a 8x8" pan. (perfect for saving some and giving some!) one more thing, if you're serving the ice cream in bowls or ramekins, be sure to freeze the stack of bowls as well. the ice cream won't immediately melt once you scoop and serve. enjoy.

14 June 2011

Q+A session / playing favorites


I'd love to know, what are some of your favorite things?

favorite movie of all time: dan in real life, when harry met sally, the power of one, the devil wears prada, pride & prejudice, rear window. 

favorite quote of all time: i have so many favorite quotes but this one always sticks with me. Rise to the divinity within you. - President Gordon B. Hinckley 

favorite dessert: i thoroughly adore mint brownies, peanut butter m&m's and my mom's red velvet cake. lets just say, i rarely turn down dessert.

favorite song of all time: ain't no mountain high enough. i will never tire of that one. or anything counting crows, acoustic. or more recently, her morning elegance by oren lavie (thank you, julia for introducing it to me). coldplay, adele, ingrid, florence + the machine, showtunes, paul simon and taylor swift are always welcome in my car.

favorite restaurant: in salt lake city it would have to be the porcupine, bambara, cafe rio or cucina cafe in the avenues. in idaho falls it would have to be snake bite. in costa mesa california, it would be plum's cafe for their fabulous coconut french toast.

favorite perfume: i love Fresh lemon sugar, Flowerbomb, (and recently re-discovered) Blackberry & Vanilla by Trish McEvoy. am a huge fan of the travel friendly roll-on size. 

favorite magazines: martha stewart weddings, InStyle, O, and real simple.

favorite date night: i love simple dates; roaming barnes and noble, having chinese take-out with a soda pop, watching movies with piles of quilts. i've never been big on bowling or mini golf. though i do love watching dan roller skate. 

favorite summer makeup: laura mercier tinted moisturizer, bobbi brown long wear cream shadow in beach honey and clinique superbalm gloss in raspberry. and peppy nail polish.

favorite tv show: project runway, bethenny, ellen, jimmy kimmel and E news.    

favorite guilty pleasures: browsing an adorably over-stuffed boutique bookshop with someone like my mom, ribbon, reality tv (see above), long hot showers, pinning, laying in the sunshine, snapping pictures out the window on road trips with dan, chatting with my parents about their childhoods, singing songs with benji, baking, tossing out random items from my fridge, staying up late, wrapping gifts in baker's twine, getting my chores done early, collecting pretty sets of stationery, typing long text messages, buying movie snacks at wal-mart and stashing them in a hiding spot, lying in a bed of freshly laundered sheets, sending (or receiving) surprises in the mail.


13 June 2011

dad's day round-up


+ father's day printable templates (above) via lifestyle crafts.
+ clever collection of cards by wit & whistle.
+ crafty cards with a pocket (perfect for presenting gift cards)! 
+ creative cuff link cards & retro labels via martha.
+ man brownies, all dolled up.
+ every dad loves root beer, right?!
+ fold up napkins like dad's button-up shirts.
+ super hero box o' goodies by jordan ferney.
+ fabulous favors for fathers.
+ quotes about dear old dad.

12 June 2011

sweet sixteen, lilacs, milkshakes, croquet & cowboys.










summer is in full swing around these parts. this weekend was full of family and fun and outdoor get-togethers. not to mention, a saturday night movie, Super 8, and sunday evening milkshakes. benji and his cousins played hard. my darling niece is turning sixteen. i've watched her grow up, i met her when she was only six years old! she has become one of my heroes; she raises seeing-eye dogs, makes fast friends with anyone, is creative and athletic, lights up a room with her sparkle and has such great fashion sense. happy birthday, anne.

now your turn, what did you do this weekend?

+ tune in tuesday when i'll officially kick off my F.A.Q. session.

09 June 2011

eight a.m. ramblings.


spectacular subway tile. a new thing i just learned about. source via apt. therapy..

this post is going to be a speedy post. as my child is still sleeping. hurrah. ever since we moved in, he has started this new habit (knock on wood) of not waking up at 6 a.m. thus giving me the perfect extra little space of time to hunt for houses online (but mostly skim blogs and pin stuff on pinterest in rapid fashion).

+ thank you entirely for your good comments and questions on my last post. they sparked my interest and i plan to gather my answers and give you some good juicy posts. i appreciate you more than words can say.

+ none of the homes we looked through yesterday resembled anything close to the 'dream homes' you find in the nooks and crannies of pinterest. i'm realizing that i'm going to really have to put some sweat into a new place to make it ours. to make it feel like home. to make it cozy and perfect. i realize that home-making is an artform. i'm realizing i have a lot to learn.

+ case in point. yesterday whit and i chatted over salads (greens, tomatoes, blueberries, craisins, raspberries, parmesan cheese, poppy seed dressing) and she taught me all about the joys of subway tile.

+ the reason i'm awake while bear is sleeping (a rare thing indeed) is because we've been going to spin classes with my father-in-law. nothing like getting whooped by your favorite senior citizen. seriously, this man is a machine. anyway, i have decided that my butt has not been properly calloused for this class. i've also decided that i don't know why people do this kind of thing for fun. however the instructor shows all these clips of lance armstrong biking his guts out. when you're pumping your legs like a maniac, it's nice to feel like you're right behind lance. it feels a little like we're taking a bit too much advantage of his victories up the hills in france, but hey, i doubt he minds. (and me waking up at 5:30 to ride on a saddle is a personal victory for me. i must admit i thought of eleanor roosevelt this morning while trying to enjoy the ride.)

+ i'll leave you with a few favorite eleanor roosevelt quotes.
You must do the things you think you cannot do.

You have to accept whatever comes and the only important thing is that you meet it with courage and with the best that you have to give.

It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.

You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.'

What one has to do usually can be done.

07 June 2011

shuffled, sorted and a call for questions.



am slowly finding my footing. transition is strange. but so good. funny to attempt to write or be creative in a new space. i realize how set in my ways i am. i now see how great an opportunity Change can be. if we figure out how to let it mold us into something new. if we are brave enough. if we are open enough. it is a lesson for me to watch benji happily morph into our new routine, new bedroom, different toys, different house, new playmates. it is nice to start off a new season of life like this. slow and steady. just like the house hunt.

blog post ideas keep coming to me, landing for a moment and then leaving me as if on a blustery episode of winnie the pooh and his hundred acre woods. i'll find them hilarious as i pre-type them in my head and then once i sit down at this desk.. it all sounds completely blah. i can't seem to get into the swing of things; writers block is getting the best of me. maybe you can help. do you have questions? i'm up for anything. hopefully a little Q&A will get me back in gear.

happy tuesday everyone.

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