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Friday, September 30, 2011

Dying to Throw a Spook-tacular Bash

October is only one day away! Can you believe it? And for whatever reason (I have a great costume in mind) this year I am really really hung up on the idea of hosting a Halloween party. B Daddy was working late quite a bit this week so I made the most of my alone time by watching Extreme Couponers (can't decide if I'm disgusted or envious) and pinning the heck out of some Halloween party ideas.

Here's a glimpse at my Spooky Party Pinterest board. If you're a Pinterest junkie...Follow Me on Pinterest. Every now and then I get a wild hair and go nuts with a fun board. (Did I mention I need an excuse to make cake pops again?)

Are Halloween parties your idea of a good time? Would you come if I invited you? I'm worried that everyone already has amazing killer awesome party plans that weekend. Or that the adults I know are all party poopers and would show up sans costume (LAME!)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Weekend Away

So this past weekend B Daddy and I had the awesome privilege to head up to Sharptop Cove in the North Georgia Mountains with the high schoolers we work with at Buckhead Church.

What a blessing! The weather was perfect. Warm in the sun, cool in the shade and positively chilly at night. My favorite combination.

And the best part? No kids! :) My amazing in-laws volunteered to watch them from Friday to Sunday so we could head out and enjoy this time with our freshies. And did you catch on Facebook that #2 came down with hand, foot and mouth disease on Thursday?? Yeah. Lots of fun for Gigi and Aunt Allie. Isn't hand, foot and mouth disease the worst name for a virus EVER? I felt like she suddenly had the bubonic plague or something.

Today she's feeling much better and I've recovered from a weekend of no sleep and high school drama, so I'm debating housework or project progress during nap time. Decisions, decisions. B Daddy has put the kibosh on starting any new projects until I've finished the ones in front of me. Namely: the slipcover and car seat cover. Boo. He's no fun at all.

I think what I really need is to host an event here in the near future. Nothing motivates me like trying to impress a few guests. Remember my fancy baby food jar centerpiece?! :)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

My Second Born

I feel like I haven't given #2 a whole lotta love on the blog so far. I mean, by the time Squirt was 9 months old he already had 17 posts dedicated to his bad self. Sweet B has only had 8. I suppose that's the curse (or blessing?) of the second born.

So let's catch up on all things Britain shall we?

She started crawling approximately 10 minutes after she could sit independently. This has created untold headaches for Yours Truly. EVERYTHING she finds on the floor is immediately picked up and then examined orally. And there's apparently a large amount of strangeness on our floor judging from the objects I've pulled out of her mouth.

She has 6 teeth now! 4 of which have come in the last two weeks. Poor baby. (Poor mama.)

Girl can EAT! See pics. (She comes by it honest...)

And she also packs away food like a chipmunk. This is NOT an exaggeration. Monday night I gave her a small piece of red pepper to chew on while I was making dinner (thinking it might keep her occupied for more than 5 seconds)....well she ate dinner (a full serving of ravioli), drank a bottle, slept for 13 hours, woke and was tossing her morning bottle around when I noticed she was chewing something in her high chair. I panicked - what had she found on the floor?? - and did the blind finger sweep to pull out the foreign object. It was - you guessed it - a mushy piece of red pepper. Stored safely overnight in those ridiculously chubby cheeks.

She is SO different from the Squirt. She needs to be around someone at all times. She is much more expressive (the Squirt rarely smiled at her age). She is even more active and more curious than he was.

But then she'll laugh and it's HIS laugh. I love that. They are siblings. They fight and they giggle and they entertain each other. She is such a blessing and a true Joy.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Living Room Update

The room is still VERY much a work in progress, but I wanted to show off the part that is (sorta) finished.

Here's what our living room looked like BEFORE:

Then my Uncle Tonny (of our kitchen re-model fame) spent about a week here doing things like this...

And this....

And this...

And now the back wall of the living room looks like this:

The new doors (which let in SO much more light!) unfortunately look out onto a not-so-finished porch. We're planning to move the grill out onto a patio (as of yet not budgeted for or begun) and maybe put a table and some chairs out there for al fresco dining.

I'm working on accessorizing the mantle...I'm really still adjusting to the fact that I actually have a mantle to accessorize. It's so much fun! How I've lived here for 6 years without being able to seasonally adjust a mantle baffles me.

The rest of the room is S L O W L Y evolving as well. We moved the buffet that the TV used to be on over to this wall and I'm loving it so much more than the console table that was there before. Again, it needs some work on the accessorizing front. Give me time. :)

A new rug and new chair are on their way to us and if I can ever motivate myself to finish the slip cover for the couch, we'll have a more modern looking space that has more natural light and gives our kids WAY more room to run around and play.

As always thanks for reading - I can't wait to share more progress soon.

Monday, September 19, 2011

All I Want for Christmas is a Nicely Wrapped Present

I know, I know, it's barely fall! But I had a birthday party to attend over the weekend and took great pleasure in wrapping up the gift we were taking. With the holidays quickly approaching I felt compelled to share a little somethin' somethin' with my nearest and dearest, my faithful readers.

I Adore Wrapped Presents.

I love wrapping them. I love unwrapping them. I love to give them. I love to receive them. I love to admire them from a distance. I love to buy cute wrapping paper. I love presents wrapped in the funnies and presents wrapped in fancy handmade paper. I love bows and ribbon and jute and string. I love embellishments too.

There is just something SO special about a nicely wrapped gift. Am I alone here? I for one would be fine if tomorrow all gift bags were banished from the earth. Gift bags are certainly convenient and I'm not saying I am opposed to the use of one when an oversized or awkwardly shaped present is being given - but wrapping a gift is such a lovely gesture.

A nicely wrapped gift is like a firm handshake - it makes a killer first impression. (Profound, I know. Feel free to use that analogy in your own world...)

There is so much more anticipation with a wrapped gift. Pulling the ribbon off, tearing the paper, fumbling with tape, opening the box, un-peeling tissue and then and only then....the ah ha moment! I love to watch both children and adults rip into a wrapped present and have the wonder of their gift unfold before them. As for me, I appreciate the extra time it takes to open a wrapped gift, knowing that it is but a fraction of the time the giver spent selecting and wrapping it up.

For real, am I alone here? Has anyone else noticed the subtly invasive nature of the gift bag? Anyone else feel that a gift bag is equivalent to phoning it in?? Anyone terrified of gifting me anything in the future now?! :)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Round 2: Fast Food Biscuits

The Squirt and I attempted another round of biscuit making last week. Disappointed but not discouraged by our lackluster first effort, we made use of one of the recipes my grandmother had sent via snail mail and went at it again.

And this time? Success! We're not considering the search for the perfect biscuit over by any means, but this one got some really good reviews from third parties. And I think I've identified at least a few crucial steps in getting that perfectly dense, buttery biscuit.

You should be forewarned that making biscuits is a DIRTY business. You might want to get your work boots on first.

Fast-Food Biscuits
From "Southern Biscuits" by Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart. Makes 12 2-inch biscuits.

2 1/2 cups self-rising flour, divided
1/4 cup chilled butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1/4 cup chilled butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 3/4 cup buttermilk, divided
Softened butter for brushing

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Whisk 2 1/4 cups of flour in a large bowl (preferably wider than it is deep) and set aside the remaining 1/4 cup.

The bowl is definitely one key to a great biscuit. I used one of my serving bowls since I didn't have any baking bowls that met the requirement of wider than deep. This is where one of those beautiful antique dough bowls would come in handy. I'm keeping my eyes open at antique stores now!!

Scatter 1/4 inch size pieces of butter over the flour...

and work in by rubbing fingers with the butter and flour together (kind of a snapping motion) until the mixture looks like well-crumbled feta cheese.

Next scatter the 1/2 inch size pieces of chilled fat over the flour mixture and continue snapping thumb and fingers together until no pieces larger than a pea remain.

Make a deep hollow (as deep as possible in a shallow bowl...this was confusing) in the center of the flour. Pour 1 1/2 cups buttermilk into the hollow, reserving 1/4 cup, and use broad cicrcular strokes to quickly pull the flour into the buttermilk. Mix until the dry ingredients are moistened and the sticky dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Add more buttermilk or flour as needed. (I think I should have added more flour here, but I was afraid of making dry, tasteless bricks.)

Lightly sprinkle a clean surface with some of the reserved flour. Turn the dough out onto the counter and sprinkle the top with flour. This pile of mush is my dough. It was scary sloppy looking.

With floured hands, fold the dough in half (next to impossible), and pat into a 1/3 to 1/2 inch thick round, using a little additional flour only if needed. (Impossible - you will need extra flour. But use as little as possible! Adding too much flour at this stage is definitely a rookie biscuit maker mistake.)

Fold the dough in half a second time. If the dough is still clumpy, fold a third time. Pat into a 1/2 inch thick round.

Cut with a 2 inch floured biscuit cutter or whatever you have on hand. A juice glass worked just fine for us. Using a spatula if necessary (it was), move biscuits to a baking sheet.

Bake on the top rack for 10 minutes rotating halfway through. After removing from oven, brush tops with softened butter and scarf!!

I gave about half the batch away for outside opinions and my sweet neighbor Caroline (of Linen & Boxwoods fame) shared this review:

"Moist and buttery all on their own!! My recommendation - heated plain or with a bit of your favorite jelly. Perfecto! Ohhhh perfect for apple jelly this fall."

So there you have it. A recipe worth sharing. I'll be trying more recipes out to make sure we've got a good thing going, but for now we're happy with this recipe.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Where Have I Been?! You Ask

Let's just say it's been quite the month around here. Like I said before, we are tackling some seriously big projects, most of which will be revealed in the coming weeks.

Here's what our house looked like yesterday while we were busy "tackling". The kids had just gone down for a nap and I started looking around, trying to decide where to direct my waning energy....

(yes, that's a partially finished slipcovered couch you see there...)

Sheetrock dust is EVERYWHERE. I have vacuumed and dusted every day for two weeks now. I swear it's multiplying.

There are a dozen half-finished projects within eyesight of my blogging perch, most of which make me want to go hide and take a nap. And there's a pack-n-play in my living room for some unknown reason. So instead of tackling anything I took pictures for you and then I sat down and wrote this post.

Thank goodness for little helpers and a husband who is willing to tackle DIY projects after hours.

Nice forearms babe.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

# 16 - Stick Shift Lesson

In addition to tackling biscuit making, I also had my first stick shift lesson recently in an attempt to cross something off my 30 Before 30 list. Given by my dear old dad, it was VERY reminiscent of my high school years. We both agreed that I'm probably a much better learner and he's probably a more patient teacher nowadays. Plus, my learning vehicle is now a Corvette... I'm glad I waited!

In our first and only lesson to date we covered 1st and 2nd gear. In a parking lot. But you gotta start somewhere right? Dad assures me that with about three more lessons I'll be on the highway and starting uphill with confidence. We'll just have to see about that...

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