Spring Desk Decor

Spring is officially here, even if the past couple days haven’t felt like it.  However, I decided it was still the perfect time to refresh my desk space in honor of the season change.  I spend the better part of 8 hours a day Mon-Fri at my desk, why not make it pretty?  Amidst the computer stuff, paperwork, files, & office supplies it is nice to be able to look over and see my own personal “nook” with the following items…img_8624

  • Cute framed print  from Target (only $3!)
  • Photo collage of  me & Mark from Shutterfly
  • Two small succulents in geometric containers
  • Sweet Magnolia scented soy candle (also from Target)
  • Stress Relief hand sanitizer from B&BW
  • Dionis Blue Ridge Wildflower hand cream
  • Fun, printed tissue box (generic brand)

In the future I plan on changing out a few of the items from time to time to reflect the seasons…or whenever I get bored with it.

Do you get to personalize your workspace? What are your favorite items to have at your desk?

Cottage: Behind the Scenes

It am a little overdue on a Cottage update, other than my recent post (For the love of cork) about our flooring choice, which I think counts as half credit.img_8633

Mark & I  haven’t been back up there to work since last fall but there has been plenty of planning on our end and other things going on behind the scenes so to speak.  Dad has been handling getting all utilities squared away and last month we passed our mechanical inspection!  New furnace, new wiring, new plumbing, propane tank connected…how’s that for progress!?

Also, last weekend Dad picked up the beautiful pine boards pictured below from a local Amish man he has worked with on past projects.   These will be finished with a white wash and installed instead of drywall on our ceilings and one large accent wall in the living room…this is one of the elements for the Cottage I am most excited about.

Mark & I will be headed up there over Easter weekend and we can’t wait to get our hands dirty again.  Between Mark changing jobs, my surgery, Holidays, and life in general we have missed working on the cottage these last few months and are ready to get back to it!

Plated: Second Helping

Our cooking adventure with Plated continues…missed our last post?  You can check it out here Plated : Dinner for Two   Honestly, we have not had a meal yet that we truly hated, they all fall between some level of like and LOVE.  Mark and I ask each other regularly, “Would we pay for this meal in a restaurant?” If yes, then we know we have a winner.  We  bumped up from 2 meals a week to 3.  We still feel the same way about our previous pros/cons but are firmly planted on the pro side.  I am impressed with how much Mark and I are both learning in this process…but the most impressive part? We have not ruined A SINGLE MEAL! Sure there have been a few minor slip-ups (and some burned garlic) along the way but overall it has been a huge success for us. Still trying to figure out if we can attribute this to our abilities in the kitchen or just how foolproof this is.

Here are some of the meals we have made since our last post

Disclaimer: the following photos may provoke feelings of hunger

Chicken Taco Salad with Crispy Tortillas & Avocado Dressing

Buffalo Chicken Pizza with Greek Yogurt Ranch Dressing

Cheesy Beef Empanadas with Salsa Roja

Turkey Spinach Burgers with Creamy Aoli and Carrot Fries

Beef Lo Mein with Snow Peas and Scallions

 

*This is not a promotion or endorsement for Plated, just our honest opinion.  BUT, if you are interested more information, their website is: www.plated.com.*

For the love of cork

When I tell people that we have decided on cork flooring for our cottage (with the exception of the bathroom), the reaction has been a mixed bag…something along the lines of “like a cork board?” Not quite. Cork flooring has evolved and is available in a variety of sizes, colors & patterns.  Yes, you can still get a very basic cork that does resemble a bulletin board but that is by no means the only option.  It may not seem like conventional flooring choice for some people, but I like the look and I have done my homework.

Here are the main reasons we are choosing cork (aside from the fact I think it is pretty)…

Affordability: Price is very competitive compared to other wood products.  Our selection is $2.99 sq/ft before the contractor & promotional discounts through my employer

Naturally resistant to mold, mildew & termites: THIS IS A BIG ONE, especially since the cottage will not be used full-time  BONUS: More hypoallergenic than carpet or other wood products

Durability/Comfort:  Certain amount of natural cushion, ability to “bounce back” minor dents and scratches, which may be less noticeable due to the texture of the product, also provides sound & temperature insulation

Sustainability: ZERO trees are cut down to manufacture cork flooring, the product is made from the bark of cork trees.  There is also minimal waste/emission in the manufacturing of cork flooring

I am under no illusion that cork is the “perfect” floor because that just doesn’t exist, there are drawbacks.  Just like any other natural or engineered wood product, cork is susceptible to swelling/buckling when exposed to too much moisture or standing water.  Also, when exposed to direct sunlight for long periods of time, the color of cork flooring can fade.

Below are some photos (courtesy of Lowes) of the flooring we have selected.  It is a natural, light to medium variegated tone  As is usually the case, I think it looks better in person but I digress…

 

Have you or would you ever consider cork flooring?

 

 

 

Simple Sweet & Salty Snack

Who doesn’t love a good alliteration? Or more importantly a good snack?

In honor of this sweetest of days, I am sharing this quick recipe.  Many of you have probably had something similar to this before.  I have heard it referred to as “reindeer food” or even called “white trash” snack mix, but I’m open to new suggestions.  I recently made this to take to our friends’ house for Super Bowl and extra for Mark & I to share at work and munch on at home.  I used Valentine M&Ms but it can be tailored to any occasion…Christmas, July 4th, Halloween…

Honestly, it is crazy how simple (and good) this is.

img_8463Measurements don’t have to be exact, but for 1 batch you will need approximately:

  • 1 1/2 cups Rice Chex
  • 2 cups pretzel sticks
  • 1 package M&M’s (10-12oz bag)
  • 1 package vanilla CandiQuik/Almond Bark
  • 1 cup Cocktail Peanuts

There are plenty of variations or ways to customize if you so choose: Add Cheerios, use pretzel twists instead of sticks, etc.

  • Combine all ingredients, except CandiQuick in a large bowl.
  •  Melt the CandiQuick in the microwave according to package directions
  • Pour over other ingredients in large bowl & stir to coat
  • Spread mixture out on parchment paper to cool & dry
  • Break into pieces & store in air-tight containers

It is THAT SIMPLE.

 

Sending you lots of love,

HAPPY VALENTINES DAY!

 

 

 

Design Home App

Do you have a favorite game/app on your phone? Maybe it is Candy Crush, Farmville, Words With Friends or Clash of Clans? Perhaps those aren’t quite your style.  I recently came across Design Home which is basically an interior design/decorating app in a game format…and I am seriously hooked!

Design Home is available for both apple & android phones, here is a brief description from the app store…

Love home decorating? Play Design Home! If you daydream about designing beautiful, unique interiors for your many fantastic homes, you can now bring your design dreams to life in this visually stunning 3D experience. Join millions of design and home decor lovers to discover, shop items you love, style gorgeous rooms and get recognized for your creativity!

In Design Home, you can express your unique design style by using furniture and decor items from real, high-end brands to design beautiful, photo-realistic interiors. You can even discover and vote on new looks and styles created by other players and win exclusive in-game prizes for the designs that you have created.

Download Design Home now and start crafting the beautiful rooms of your dreams!

Why do I love it? It is entertaining, plain and simple.  A fun way to pass the time while in line at the grocery store, in the waiting room, or just downtime.  It also gives me a chance to be creative with different design styles.  Every day offers new challenges, prizes, etc. It has also been a good tool to practice with budget, scale, color & balance all while still having the feel of a game.

Here are some of my own favorite & highest scoring designs

Day Trip

This is somewhat of a departure from my typical posts but on a whim this past Saturday we decided to take a road trip up to Fort Wayne for the day.  Mark was originally scheduled to work but didn’t have to so we decided to take advantage of an unexpected day together with no plans. Usually on a day like this we might end up going to Indianapolis but were in the mood for something different.   We had previously been to a concert in Fort Wayne, and driven through a few times, but never really had a chance to explore.

We spent the day driving around, did a little walking and shopping downtown and stopped for some delicious pizza  (shocking right?) for lunch.  One of our stops of the day was the History Center, which ended up being a pleasant surprise.  It was full of exhibits and artifacts from the Fort Wayne area and the entire of Indiana.  It was informational and interesting, but what also caught my eye was the detail of the building itself.

This stained glass was magnificent.  I loved the carpet that ran through the halls and up the stairs.  I was disappointed when I realized that my picture didn’t capture end of the banister because the detail was impressive.

The ceiling and the lights in the chamber meeting room were stunning.  The giant copper chandelier was like nothing I have ever seen, and it was HUGE!  Also, there were charming copper sconces spaced around the perimeter of the entire room.  I would love to see it at night all lit up.

Our last stop before heading home was Two EE’s winery where we enjoyed a tasting and then a glass on there enclosed (and heated) patio.  It was the perfect relaxing end to our day and we already plan on going back when the weather is warmer.

 

If you’re ever going to be in the area, check out more info here:

http://www.fwhistorycenter.com/

http://twoees.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plated : Dinner for Two 

Why didn’t we do this sooner?! That is the question Mark and I have been asking.  I mentioned in my last post HERE that we wanted to try a meal delivery service. We looked into a few but decided to start with Plated, mostly because of the $30 off the first week promo.  Now a few weeks later, we have been thoroughly enjoying cooking together and ALL (seriously) of the meals so far have been delicious.  Before, I did the majority of the cooking but Mark has always been the king of omelet making in our house.  With Plated we are both learning more about cooking and trying something new together…which may or may not involve smoking up the whole house while attempting to fry pork belly for the first time.

On Mondays, our Plated box is delivered to our front door in a temperature controlled box made of reusable/recyclable packaging.  Inside are the instructions & ingredients needed for 2 full meals for 2 people.

A summary of our thoughts so far…

PROS

  • Convenience…they couldn’t possibly make it any easier
  • Options/customizable
  • Recipes/foods we have never tried before
  • Fun, bonding time for the two of us
  • Everything is pre-portioned, no guesswork
  • Fresh, quality ingredients
  • No commitment, can skip weeks
  • Don’t have to think about “what’s for dinner?”
  • Fewer trips to the grocery store
  • Less waste
  • DELICIOUS (I already mentioned that above but its worth repeating)

CONS

  • Cost

Honestly, this is the ONLY downside.  However, we aren’t throwing away ingredients that we purchased and spoiled because they didn’t get used before they expired (I’m not even talking about just a day or two past the expiration date, I’m talking health hazard…this was our reality) We have even had leftovers a couple of times for lunch the next day.  It may not be for everyone, but we have decided to budget accordingly so we can continue.

What we have made so far…

Pork Belly BLTs ~ with tarragon aioli

Sesame Chicken Long Life Noodles ~ wish spinach & mushrooms

Saucy Meatball Sliders ~with classic Caesar salad


  Skillet Roast Chicken ~ with caramelized fennel and potatoes

 

It is refreshing to look forward to making dinner and to think of it as an activity instead of a chore.  If this fits in your lifestyle & budget, I definitely recommend giving it a try.

Have you ever tried one of these services before? Which one? What were your thoughts?

 

 

*This is not a promotion or endorsement for Plated, just our honest opinion.  BUT, if you are interested more information, their website www.plated.com.*

Goals

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How in the heck is it almost 2017?…we’ve all been saying it, or at least thinking it.  The end of one year and beginning of another always seems to bring forth a certain amount of reflection, good and bad.  For 2017, instead of “making resolutions” I decided to think of it as focusing on goals…mostly because I like this definition (thanks Google!)  Below are a few of my goals fro the upcoming year geared towards home, design & food.

goal
ɡōl/ noun noun: goal; plural noun: goals

the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result.

synonyms: objective, aim, end, target, design, intention, intent, plan, purpose

1.Finish cottage remodel

This may be a little optimistic, but given the progress made last summer I see no reason it shouldn’t be in working  order for us to be able to stay  there this summer, even if every last detail may not be complete.  First priorities will be the bathroom and  finishing up all of the mechanicals.  Considering that my parents house is right across the road, we can sleep there without a kitchen, but I would prefer having a working bathroom.  In the meantime, we have a beautiful deck with a view to sit on and enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning or a cold beer in the evening with each other, family, & friends…a reminder of what all of it is for.

2.Explore Cooking

I already enjoy cooking, but I find myself getting stuck in ruts.  I want to stay out of the ruts.   Also, now that Mark’s schedule allows, we are trying to cook together more often.  We decided to try the fresh meal delivery service Plated (thanks to a great promo offer)…I’ll make sure to post our first experience.  Depending on how that goes, we may give Blue Apron a test run as well. In addition to this I want to try out new recipes, and maybe venture more into foods I’ve never cooked before. 

3.Refresh Living Room

No major changes here, just some updates needed.  Looking into new curtains, side tables, etc.  Several of the pieces have been with us since I moved into my apartment when I moved to Indiana over 7 years agoMark has been working on convincing me to rearrange our living room once we finally get the larger TV he has been wanting, and I am slowly coming around.    

5.Simplify & Organize

I consider myself to be an organized person, but there is always room for improvement.  I have been reflecting this past year on how organization is much easier with less stuff (here comes the simplify part)   I’ve looked into the KonMari method, not sure if I need anything that extreme, but I do see plenty of Goodwill trips in my future.   I want to limit clutter, focus on quality over quantity and invest in pieces that will be attractive, functional, and long lasting.  Not only does this pertain to our home décor, but I want to carry this focus into my wardrobe as well…and life in general. 

Do you have any goals for 2017? I’d love to hear about them

Last, but not least, I want to take a moment to say THANK YOU to everyone who has read, shared, commented and supported this little blog of mine this past year.  I appreciate it and wish you great joy and many blessings in 2017!

 

 

 

Grey Christmas

Today I am in denial.  Denial that short of a miracle, we will not have a white Christmas…more like grey.  Much to my dismay, nearly all of the snow (which wasn’t much) from last weekend has melted.  The weather forecast for Christmas day is a high of 50 degrees and rain.  Growing up in Michigan, a white Christmas was normal, even expected.  During my years spent living in North Carolina, then Kentucky I came to terms with the fact that they were very rare.  Now that I have been back in the Midwest for several years, I am back to expecting a white Christmas.img_8189

Despite our lack of snow, I am still rocking my festive sweater today along with my snowflake manicure.  I will still spend plenty of time this weekend curled up on the couch under a cozy blanket with Ruby on my lap & coffee in hand.  The denial will continue but I refuse to let it dampen my Christmas spirit.

As my consolation, here are a couple of pictures Dad sent to me of our little cottage tucked away in the snow, even with deer tracks out in the front.  Cute as ever and just waiting for us to resume work in the Spring…we haven’t forgot about you!

Hopefully, all of that glorious white stuff sticks around for our trip to Michigan over the weekend of January 6th for my family Christmas celebration.  See you soon snow!

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!