Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Hello, 2012. It's nice to meet you.

I hope everyone had a fabulous Christmas, or Hanukkah, or Kwanza, or Ramadan! Andrew and I very much enjoyed our first holiday season as a married couple. We stayed in North Carolina, enjoyed a quiet Christmas eve at home and a not so quiet Christmas day at our friend's home. Tomorrow we are off to Baltimore to ring in the new year with our dear friend, Colbey. I can't wait! I have never been to Baltimore and I am pumped to explore the city. We are also planning to take the train into DC, which only makes the trip that much more cool.

Alrighty, let me get back to updating while I try to contain my excitement! Since we knew that it would be just the two of us, we wanted to make Christmas special (and maybe start a new tradition!) by creating a fun menu. We decided we would make "Christmas Calzones" on Christmas Eve and Eggs Benedict from scratch on Christmas Morning...errrr I mean afternoon :)
The "Christmas Calzones" were inspired by some beautiful photos of homemade dough I spotted over at (one of my top blogs for inspiration). The dough recipe is originally from Everybody Likes Sandwiches and you can find it here:
It was really easy to follow and make! All you need is:
1 packet of yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 c warm water
2 1/2 c flour
1 t honey
1 t salt
2 T olive oil
2 T fresh rosemary, chopped (optional)
cornmeal (to sprinkle around the pan/stone)

We just mixed all the ingredients together and kneaded the dough until soft and smooth. The recipe says to break it apart into 4 equal globs, but we just split it in half. With that being said, this recipe is definitely enough for four calzones. Ours turned bigger than our heads. We filled them with sauce, ricotta, mozzarella, mushrooms, and pepperoni. Here are some photos of the finished product:

Overall, size is the only thing I would have changed. We could have easily divided the dough and made 4 normal calzones. Oh well, taste is what really matters!

Now, moving on to our brunch. I found a super easy to follow recipe for Eggs Benedict in one of the cook books my mom gave me. The only obstacle we ran into was finding an egg poacher. Even our trip to the Super Wal-Mart in Locust failed us. Andrew, however, saved the day! He did some research and found directions explaining how to poach eggs using a muffin pan in the oven. Basically, you set the oven to 400 and while it's pre-heating boil water in a tea pot on the stove. Once the water is boiling, pour 2-3 tablespoons into each muffin cup, and then carefully break an egg into each cup filled with hot water (Andrew actually broke the eggs into a small cup first, so that it was easier to gently pour them into the muffin cup of water without breaking). We then put them in the oven for about 7 minutes and kept an eye on them the whole time. Remember that eggs continue to cook even after they've been removed from heat, so don't wait until they look super done. When our eggs were looking good to go, we carefully scooped them out with a slotted spoon. I swear this is the best way to poach eggs! It really is simple, once you get the hang of the cooking time. Check it out!

This is the recipe I used for the Hollandaise Sauce (it was really easy and delicious):
3 egg yolks
1 T lemon juice
1/2 cup firm butter

Stir egg yolks and lemon juice vigorously in a small sauce pan. Add half the butter and start to heat stove on very low. Stir constantly with a wire whisk until the butter is melted, then slowly add remaining butter. Keep stirring and stirring until the sauce begins to thicken. Remember to keep stove on a low heat while the butter is melting to avoid curdling. Serve when the sauce reaches desired thickness.

Needless to say, we had a Christmas filled with good food and giant portions and I loved every minute of it. I am off to finish packing for our trip tomorrow, but I will be back with a Baltimore post as soon as possible!


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Rainy Day Activities

Good Day, Friends! It is quite the rainy day over here, so I spent the morning making handmade Christmas cards. Andrew informed me (at the last minute, of course) that everyone at work was handing out gifts and cards. I decided that it would be best for me to help and make some cute little cards for him to give to his colleagues.

I used some of my nice, soft, natural paper and then used my awesome pair of decorative scissors to cut the edges. The trees were drawn with my crayola markers. Easy, fast, and adorable (if I do say so myself). Just goes to show that taking a little time to create something handmade goes a long way. I didn't have to spend any money and the end result is a thoughtful, one of a kind, Christmas card.

I also spent a few moments this morning taking some black and white photos of our new ornaments. Andrew's Aunt Lori sent us a box full of really beautiful and interesting ornaments to put on our first tree as husband and wife.

I am in love with our little tree! I am very much looking forward to spending our first Christmas together. We have planned out a delicious little dinner menu for Christmas Eve and decided we also want to make brunch on Christmas morning. Yum! Pictures to follow, promise!


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Put Some Pretty In Your Day

I've decided to take some time to showcase some of the pretty things around me. The best part about said pretty things is that they are all thrifty finds. I love treasure hunting at Goodwill, yard sales, estate sales, antique stores, and consignment stores. Andrew and I built our entire wedding around second hand finds, which added so many elements of magic and whimsy! But why wait for a special occasions to roll around? I like including unique and thoughtful details in our everyday lives. So, with that being said, I thought today I would highlight some of the plates we have gathered from various Goodwills over the last year or so. We decided that we wanted to mix and match vintage porcelain plates for our wedding guests to enjoy. We asked our families to keep an eye out and before long we had the most amazing collection of interesting plates. Wanna know the best part?! All of them were priced between $0.99-$2.00ish dollars. I can't believe some of the plates people parted with! After the wedding we brought A TON back with us to use everyday. I love sitting down for dinner each night and having something really pretty to eat on. Check out some of my favorites.

These look great mixed and matched for everyday use, but I was also thinking about turning some of them into serving/display platters. I have two light pink goblets (also a Goodwill find, via my Mother-in-Law) that would make the perfect serving platter base.

I could attach the goblet to the plate using super glue, or epoxy. Aaand voilĂ ! I'll have a really special serving platter that cost almost nothing to make! LOVE.

You can find many more examples like this out in blogland. So simple and chic. It would be perfect to display treats at a holiday party, or even just your regular ol' rolls at dinner.

That is all the pretty I have for you today. Check back all week, though! I have many more things I want to show you.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Oy, I have been terrible about updating recently. I sorta fell into a blog slump and I greatly apologize. Today I took some time to brainstorm and seek inspiration. Then it occurred to me, what better place to start than my own home! I love our house. Most days I look around and think to myself, "I love this house and all of our meaningful collections." With that being said I decided to take some more pictures of pretty things around our home. I have been adding some decor here and there since we have been home from the wedding (we came home with a lot of feathers, birds, branches, and moss...) and I thought I should share.

I also got some more art put up in the second bedroom. The three bird themed pieces were also used at the wedding and now they have a permanent home next to Frida.

As you can see, I have been able to put some of our supplies to good use. I really like how the vases turned out with the branches and feathers. Hopefully Andrew can help me put up shelving in the second bedroom this weekend, so that I can create a few more. I have also been busy recycling the large amounts of lace we brought back with us. Some of the pieces were turned back into curtains and some of them are becoming stitching accents. In other words, I have been using cut out patterns of lace to jazz up some boring old sweaters and shirts. Here is the first one I finished:

This was a simple black shrug that I have had forever. I love the idea of reinventing it with the special detail of lace. I am doing the same thing with a few other shirts/sweaters; I'll post upon completion.

Yesterday I also explored a new DIY project. One of my favorite blogs had a post about using wax from old candles and pine cones to create scented "fire-starters." Basically, you melt down wax from old candles and then dip the pine cones. When you are finished you have a delightful way to start a fire at home, complete with aromatherapy benefits. Here are some pictures that capture the process.

First, I melted some old wax and added in some drops from my fav essential oils:

Then I lined up my pine cones for dipping:

After dipping in the melted wax, I have a beautifully frosted and scented pine cone:

Easy and cool. It did get a bit messy, but I remembered to put foil down before, which totally helped.

I think these would make a great gift! Imagine how pretty they would look wrapped in some wax paper and tied with a festive ribbon. Andrew and I are going to try one tonight in our little fire pit. I will let you all know how it goes!

(Follow this link for a more detailed tutorial: