Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Toto, we're home. Home!

It's official -- we're now residents of Pennsylvania, with our very own apartment and utility bill to prove it! 
The "before" of our new front door. We haven't quite figured out what
we want to do with it yet, but very exciting nonetheless!
And with two days off last week, I managed to get every box emptied, flattened, and out the door so actually feels like home. We're still working on the internet connectivity so posting/engaging online is tricky at the moment, but I do have a few fun apartment crafts to show off:
DIY key rack right inside the front door. All materials from Hobby Lobby. I stained/painted/sanded the wood plaque then hot glued the cross and knobs to the front.

In celebration of my first real pantry ever (at our last place we used a converted coat closet), I transferred most of our dry goods to various sized glass jars and made kraft paper tags for everything. They don't photograph well inside the pantry but make me surprisingly happy to see all in a line. 

Some homemade bathroom wall art using a spare frame we already had. Total cost = 25 cents for the for me! Lettering was done using this method.

 And for a super sneak's our craft room with a mysterious wooden crates project underway.

I promise I'll have more soon, but for now...I'm off to cook dinner and keep crafting! (Plus, watching gobs of Gilmore Girls because I finally succeeded in getting Strider hooked!!)

Friday, August 29, 2014

tractors and taters

We made it! The truck has been returned and a mountain of our stuff now occupies half our parents' garage. We spent all week sorting out employment and housing stuff, but we're almost finished with those things as well. We found an amazing apartment and after some great recommendations on our behalf (thank you friends!), we got it! The landlord is repainting so we can't actually move in for another two weeks, but at least there is a timeline there with an incredible new home for us at the end. Incredible as in furnished washer/dryer and central AC kind of incredible...pinch me! 
In the meantime, we've been trying to be helpful squatters. This morning, Strider's mom let me help make and can homemade salsa. My first actually canning experience - totally awesome and definitely taking pictures next time. Then, we headed over to help our grandparents dig up their potatoes. New to me, it was surprisingly fun and quick.
Pappy on the tractor
Strider's Uncle manned the plow...see those yellow "rocks"...potatoes just rolling right out of the dirt!
Once the rows are plowed, hands get dirty very quickly.
The buckets were filling up fast!
No middle man needed. Plus, Strider got to wear his snazzy work boots!
Apparently pretty good haul for just five rows...looks like tons to this first-timer!
Grammy and Strider's mom handled the last of the lima beans while we finished up the 'taters.
Load them onto the truck...
...and drive 'em around to "the cave" where they can be stored in the cool and dark.
After we were done, we sat on the porch and shelled the peas. The hard work was rewarded with ice cream sandwiches and lemonade. Plus a sneak peek at Grammy's freshly canned peaches. Yum! Plus, check out this view -- imagine a blanket and a good book under that tree, huh!
Work starts Monday but it's been a very fun week of adventures, exploring, getting lost, and realizing just how small you feel in a new place. But also how exciting the unknown can be! Looking forward to so much more to come.

Friday, August 22, 2014

goodbye, NC!

For 9,581 days (aka my whole life), I have called North Carolina home.
And although in some ways, it always will less than 24 hours...

40 boxes + 1 truck + 344 miles = a whole new adventure!

In the meantime, I'll indulge in a little NC nostalgia and listen to James:

Sunday, August 17, 2014

foodie books galore

Somewhat by happy accident, all the latest books on my nightstand have been food-related. And of course, nothing makes you want to rush into the kitchen and starting cooking up a frenzy more than an inspiring foodie novel. Sadly though, nothing staunches that inspiration like your entire kitchen being packed up in boxes. (Our big Moving Day is T-minus 1 week!!) Instead, my big kitchen challenge last week and this week is to create menus that systematically use up all our current pantry stock while limiting additional purchases. It's going well so far but definitely making things a little more interesting on the planning end. It feels a bit like a depressing reality time for "Eat Your Way Out of Your Home"!! (Terrifying but no doubt soon-to-air on A&E.)

Tangents aside, I've been devouring foodie books left and right and can't wait to organize our new kitchen (wherever that may be) and get back to cooking. In the meantime, I highly recommend these fabulous finds:

Thoughtful and self-reflective, she shares her life journey of loving food and the signature dishes and cooks that shaped her foodie passion. Wonderfully written, a bit sad at times, but enjoyable and inspiring for sure with great recipes to keep and try.

I am ashamed to admit that I'm just now getting around to reading this, but finished it this morning in a state of utter sadness to turn the last page. Julia Child's My Life in France is absolutely stunning, lovely, brilliant, quirky, human, and fun all in good measure...very much like the author herself. I read Julie & Julia a few years ago and wasn't terribly impressed, though I do adore the movie adaption of the two books together. Now that I've finally gotten around to My Life in France, it will be a welcome addition to my permanent collection for future re-reads. All around, just tremendously enjoyable!

Next up on the foodie to-read list is Life is Meals by James & Kay Salter. A random treasure picked up at our local book consignment shop, I am intrigued by their 365-day layout and was hooked from the first few lines. Hopefully, it will prove to be number three in my accidental but wonderful foodie reading saga.

Last proper kitchen adventure pre-living-room-full-of-boxes was Buttermilk Cake with Marscapone Cream and Fresh Berry Compote...not at all a bad way to wrap up our last few days in this kitchen!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

hand lettering 101

It's no secret that I'm a big fan of type design. And although I don't have access to software to do so at the moment, I also enjoy dabbling in graphic design. It's easy to see that Photoshop and other advanced software have made creating stunning, unique designs endlessly possible. However, if you want to see some serious skills, look no further than old-school Disney credits. Peter Pan debuted in 1953...definitely no Photoshop back then. Can you believe the talent of those type designers and background artists?!
Though I have almost zero experience doing so, the idea of creating beautiful "type" without any actual typing is quite intriguing. So...I decided to test the waters with a simple journal cover makeover. 

To start, I found the journal I wanted and measured the available design space. Using a pad of graph paper, I blocked off the square where my design needed to fit and roughly sketched the proverb out. I came across this verse a few months back and for a perfectionist like me, it is a great perspective to remind myself of. (Also, pretty appropriate for my first attempt at something new!) On the right, you can see the grid lines I drew on the journal cover to transfer the design over and (hopefully) keep the proportions correct.

Next, I re-drew the verse onto the journal, cleaned it up a bit, and traced over it with Sharpie.

The final step was to embellish the letters a little and add a simple free-hand design on the folding cover flap. It certainly isn't perfect but given the subject matter, I'm very pleased! 

Definitely more time-consuming than some Photoshop projects, but hand-lettered design is going in the "fun crafts to practice" column! Any experience with hand-lettering your own projects? Tips for a noob?

Saturday, August 9, 2014

big news!

Today's post was going to feature a tutorial for a typography project I've been working on...but you'll have to wait for that because instead I have something better: REALLY REALLY BIG NEWS!

Life the last two weeks has been absolute madness, but we can finally share our upcoming adventure with you all...

Strider's family is from the great state of Pennsylvania and we are overjoyed to be relocating back to his hometown. Though North Carolina will always be home in my heart, we could not be more thrilled! God has fulfilled a lot of prayer in making this transition possible so we are incredibly thankful to Him and eager to see what He has in store for us in our new home.

It may be a little more difficult for me to post during the next couple weeks, but I promise, I'm not going anywhere and will have tons of fun stuff to share coming up. In the meantime, any pro moving tips to share?

*Prints of the artwork I borrowed can be found here and here.*

Thursday, July 24, 2014

celebrating with honey-pear cake

I can hardly believe it, but last Friday Strider and I celebrated our six month anniversary! 
Time has absolutely flown since January, and we've loved every minute of being married. That being said, I definitely wouldn't turn down a second honeymoon/vacation right about now (in my dreams, right?).

I know it may seem silly to celebrate a milestone as seemingly unimpressive as six months (I even had a few people comment to that effect), but to us, it was worth a small party - aka just the two of us. I recognize that it's just a blink when compared to many couples' time together, but truthfully, I hope I never stop finding reasons to celebrate us. Be it 6 months, 6 years, or 6 decades, my prayer is that we will always take pause in celebration of our marriage, to just stop all the craziness of daily life just long enough to take true joy in our commitment to each other. And what better way to enjoy that moment than with a good meal and of course, cake!

Adapted from The New Midwestern Table cookbook by Amy Thielen, this Honey-Pear Bundt Cake was seriously delicious! And yes, I did make a tiny bunting just for the occasion then strung it up with embroidery floss and chopsticks. Though certainly not as glamorous as the one in the book, my slightly adapted recipe is as follows:

- 4 Anjou pears
- 2 sticks + 2 Tbsp unsalted butter at room temp
- 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp honey
- 2 Tbsp spiced rum/cider
- 2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 cup + 1/3 cup sugar, separated
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 6 eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

- Preheat over to 400F and prep a 10-cup Bundt pan with a light coat of butter and flour
- Peel, quarter, and core the pears. Heat 2 Tbsp of butter over medium high in a large skillet, add pears and cook 5 min, add rum and Tbsp honey, cook additional 10-12 minutes.
- Set a colander over a bowl and pour pear mixture over. Reserve liquid and let cool.
- In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flower, baking powder, and salt.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat remaining butter and all but the 1/3 cup white sugars together until light and fluffy. Add eggs two at a time, mixing after each addition, then add vanilla and remaining honey.
- In three additions, add flour mixture to egg mixture, being careful not to over-mix.
- Gently fold in pears then pour batter into pan.
- Bake at 400F for 10 minutes, reduce heat to 325F and bake another 50-60 minutes.
- Cool for 20 minutes before turning out onto rack.
- While the cake cools, heat 2 cups of the pear liquid, remaining 1/3 cup sugar, and lemon juice in a saucepan. Boil until the mixture condenses and becomes slightly syrupy. Cool 10 minutes.
- Setting your cooling rack and cake over the sink, use a pastry brush to glaze the cake with the juice reduction. I did 4-5 applications letting each cool slightly in between so the glaze was soaked in and coated the top well.
- Serve warm and with a glass of milk. Yum!!