So, for the month of August, there's been a bit more excitement than usual around our house. Okay, with a new house and school starting, a lot more--BUT there's also been preparing for David's birthday. During the Christmas season, I do an advent "calendar" for him. I use some twine or string, decorate 25 paper bags, and make up 25 fun things to do or small gifts. I include things like small candies, cookie decorating night, Christmas movie night, board game night, etc. It's for him but I always find it a really fun way to celebrate the season. This year I decided to do the same thing for his birthday. Here are some of the things that made the list. . .
Homemade milkshakes! I used the hot fudge recipe from Date Night In, strawberries, ice cream, milk, whipped cream, toasted marshmallow, and birthday sprinkles (DUH!).
Olympics viewing party! Did you watch the Olympics? Are you a fan? We're like, what do we watch now that it's over? This one was SO FUN for me too even though it was a lot of work ( yay summer! ).
Celebrating National S'mores Day with s'mores waffles! HECK YES.
Hiking / Adventuring--I had to keep you from thinking they were ALL about food!
Peanut butter cookies--his favorite.
In order to keep costs down, I also did a lot of "I'll do the annoying things so you don't have to" days--like that time we got that terrible valance in our living room taken down but then had to re-paint, after SO MUCH PAINTING. So, his advent that day was me doing the painting. Plus, things like doing the chores or dishes are always nice.
One of the days that it was in the 90's, I wrote him a note with some clothes and his share of balloons that said I was lying in wait with my water balloons and to get ready. Water balloon fight on a hot day -- summer fun right there. I lost, obviously, but it was great.
Since we live in Maine, about a day after our heat wave, we had a few cool days so I did a back yard fire & s'mores party. Choices are important so we had almond butter, milk chocolate caramel, dark chocolate with almonds, and white chocolate with strawberries--and the square marshmallows, obviously! If you haven't tried them, they are a game changer.
Sometimes week nights can get boring so during advent I like to make them special by doing a themed night ( like the Olympics night or movie night ). David loves board games so we did that one night too. I don't love board games but I DO love snacks--we had salt & vinegar almonds, more of the patriotic gummy bears, the caramel cashew Target trail mix, and Chicago mix popcorn--YUM.
We also did a burger night, which David admittedly cooked a lot of, but burgers are something we don't have often. I skipped the bun but had my burger with balsamic onions, goat & blue cheese, crispy prosciutto, and tomato. It was awesome.
In the past I've also done gift cards to places like Dunkin, Tim Hortons, and / or Starbucks but since he isn't drinking coffee right now those options were out. I got creative and did things like David day ( he's king for a day, basically. What have I done? ha! ), tech free night, free hour of video games with drink service, and a total remote control coupon.
The BEST advent day was when he opened Bantam Bagels. If you're a fan of Shark Tank then you know what I'm talking about. If not, they are like a bagel donut hole or a cream cheese stuffed bagel hole. It sounds weird and I wasn't sure what to expect but they were amazing. They're pretty pricey so this was definitely a treat and one of his gifts, but I want to have them in our freezer for ever and ever. The hot pretzel was our favorite--no surprise there!
Like I said, I did birthday advent for David as a way to celebrate his birthday all month long BUT it was super fun for me, too. Since I had the time off, it was totally do-able and I think birthday advent made for a great birthday gift, don't you?
Happy birthday, David!
As I mentioned in the latest Recent Recap, we decided that the first week after our move in to get as many major projects done as we could and then move in our things. I'll just set the stage by saying that by the time we moved in, we had been living out of boxes and eating takeout / snack foods for 2+ weeks plus we'd also been traveling, I'd been taking a class, and we were generally worn out. Add to that a full day of moving on Saturday and the stress of closing and we were pretty cooked when we woke up on Sunday. I had made up my mind that come Sunday morning, we were starting our work and we did.
We started with the "dining room"--we taped, we shopped, we painted the walls, and we painted the trim. It was our first room and it took us a long time to get in the rhythm of painting and working together. Plus, see previous details, tired.
This is what the "dining room" looked like before. . .
It wasn't a bad room at all before but it was kind of "blah" to us-- we wanted an impact. Here's the color and new trim.
We really like the bold color and I think it looks great with the white trim. I'm hoping to convince David that we need to make a gallery wall here.
This room is far from being a true "after"-- we still need to hang pictures and, as I said, would love to make it a dining room so we also need a table that fits the room. For now, though, I'm working on this book case situation which will be a place for our cookbooks ( since it's right next to the kitchen! ) and a drink station with coffee and tea and of course some cute mugs.
Once we finished this room, we moved on to the living room. For some reason, this was the only room in the house with a popcorn ceiling. David was having none of that so he watched a ton of videos on how to get rid of it and we went to work.
Basically, you have to wet the "popcorn" so it detaches from the ceiling and then scrape it off. The first step was covering all of our surfaces, lights, speakers, etc. You can see the difference in the texture of the ceiling in the picture below.
This was one project that really made me appreciate doing it while most of our things were in the basement. That ceiling got everywhere, especially after we got the popcorn off and then had to sand the ceiling to make sure it was an even surface. Then of course we had to paint it. Thankfully I did probably 10-20% of this project and David did the rest. Thank goodness for that because it was HARD physically. It was easy to do and understand but that much time with your arms above your head is exhausting. Finally, we taped the room and were ready for paint.
This is the part where I tell you the naive, first time homeowner story. Are you ready? I had no idea what I wanted for paint. We tried a sample. We hated it. At this point though the idea of getting more samples (and spending more money) on paint sounded terrible so I spent way too long at the paint store trying to pick between these tiny samples and finally picked a color.
I figured, we loved Smoky Blue ( which we didn't even get sample of! ) and we loved our trim color so we could do this. We had tried Krypton (bottom left) and it was too blue so I figured that Reflection would be better. It looks less blue, right? Here's the part where you cringe or possibly even put your head in your hands: We painted the whole room Reflection. I bought two gallons of paint. I hated it. It looked like it was supposed to be a baby boy's room. I cried; I'm not too proud to admit that. We painted that room that terrible color at 11 o'clock at night by the dim light of bedside table lamps because the lighting in that room is downright awful. We thought, it will get better. We'll paint the room and then it will look better. It didn't.
I woke up that next morning, shook my head at it, worked out, and then researched paint colors online. I figured that I had picked Smoky Blue based on seeing another blogger's post on it in her dining room so maybe the internet could come through for me again. It was better than the stupid paint swatches. We ended up with Moonshine from Benjamin Moore. First, we primed the whole room ( so, we painted it a SECOND time ). Then, after that took 12 hours to dry, we painted the whole thing Moonshine ( yes, we got a sample and tested it first this time ). Can I tell you something? It still looked blue to me. All of the pictures online of this color online are like this. . .
You see that it's gray too, right? It's not just me? Anyway, our living room is an odd shape and situation so parts of it are very well lit and parts of it have almost no natural light. When you look at the room, it almost looks like we painted the walls different colors. Uhm, we didn't. Sometimes it's got a green tint, often a blue tint, and rarely a gray tint. Ultimately I think it goes better with our brown furniture than a straight gray would have but it's also not the color I was expecting. Apparently lighting really is everything with paint. Here's a shot of the color on our walls. . .
Here's the before around the fire place from the previous owner's Zillow post. . .
Here's our after version . . .
I think the fireplace does pop a bit more in our version, which is good because we re-painted that whole thing when we did the trim.
The rest of the living room will have to be another post because we're still waiting on a TV Stand ( which was a very irritating experience with Target.com that I'm hoping ends well. . . ) and we need to find a rug and some dining chairs. Hopefully we'll get that all together soon! We also painted all of the kitchen cabinets to brighten the kitchen but that will have to be another post as well because we're still waiting for our new dishwasher. We had un-installed the old dishwasher a few days ago but the valve that shuts off the water to the dishwasher is so old that it wouldn't close all the way. The only way we could keep that water from streaming all over our kitchen floor was to hook the hose back up to the old dishwasher. So it's not ready for the after pictures yet. Here's the photo I took back in May of the kitchen before.
You'll just have to check back soon to see what we've done with it!
Are you as obsessed with the Olympics as we are? We've been staying up way too late watching because, well, olympics! I remember as a kid being so upset when my parents sent me to bed and I couldn't watch. I even (kind of) watched through my window on the neighbor's T.V. when I was supposed to be sleeping. My favorite events to watch are equestrian and gymnastics but swimming has been pretty exciting too. So, naturally, I decided I needed to add food!
It took me a long time to figure out what to make. I saw a lot of recipes for things that were olympic colors--like ring cookies with colored frosting--and I was just like eh. It wasn't cool enough, you know? Then I decided to switch gears and started checking out Brazilian food. Whoa. I mean, I spent my 16th birthday there for a family wedding but I hadn't had most of these foods and they looked awesome. So, here's what I made for our Olympics food party (for two people, ha!). . .
First, I knew I really wanted to make empanadas but they had to be good. Sometimes I find them lacking in flavor and therefore excitement. So, when I saw that Jenna had a recipe for empanadas I knew I'd scored. The only thing I changed was the filling for the above reasons. I added beans, corn, and chorizo--some of my favorite things. I'm super happy with how they turned out. I accidentally (or perhaps am unconsciously genius-ly) and made too much filling so I had to double the recipe and now have a batch in the freezer too. I'm not upset about it.
Then, I found these. Cheese bread? My favorite! I remember when my mom used to buy a cheese bread loaf. We would toast it and then top with butter--the BEST. So, Brazilian + cheese bread = happening. When we baked them, it was like a thin layer of bread on the outside with a whole ton of doughy cheese on the inside. I made them from frozen so I'm not sure how they would have cooked if I hadn't frozen them first. Either way, if you like cheese, I highly recommend them!
Next, I found these. Chocolate truffles? Yes. Chocolate truffles with sprinkles? Heck yes. Plus, I found a red, white, and blue sprinkle mixture at the store and knew I had a winner. How cute are these? They were easy and I think they look great. David says they're too sweet but is that a thing?
I also made this acai chia pudding. I didn't let it set up long enough before freezing so, fail. But, I love the idea of basically making a smoothie and then turning it into chia pudding so I'm going to have to try this again for real.
Okay, there is ONE thing I made olympics colored, which is obviously these fruit rings. Y'all know I'm a sucker for fruit and I wanted to make at least one thing that was somewhat healthy. I found vanilla marscapone at the store and knew I had the perfect fruit dip. Mad props to this blogger for making something delicious, healthy, and way more exciting than olympic colored cookies.
Because I can't contain myself, I also made a Brazilian themed lunch the next day. I filmed all of this on Snapchat the other day and a friend was like uhhh how many people are coming for your food party? uhm, no one, ha! It was just for us but I love quality leftovers! So, for lunch I made this banana cake.
Plus, I made this sandwich, which doesn't seem that Brazilian (then again, I know nothing about Brazilian food and the internet could be trolling me on all of this) but it was an easy and delicious lunch!
Okay, I swear there's only one more thing. So, in my (obsessive) research, I kept coming across this soda. Apparently it's really popular in Brazil and the reviews were amazing. People were even like "yea, I order this soda online because I can't get it near me and it's amazing." Naturally, I had to order it on Amazon! (I just love Amazon.) We aren't really soda people (as you can probably tell) so we had just a bit and plan on sharing the rest with other people. As David said, I wouldn't say it was amazing but it did have a fun, unique flavor closest to cherry soda.
That's a wrap! Are you making anything for your olympics viewing?
It feels like a while since I've done a recent recap--a lot sure has happened! First, there was a lot of packing.
Then, we headed to Nova Scotia for my husband's cousin's wedding, which I mentioned briefly in my review on American Born Chinese. My husband's family is from Canada so, though it was a long drive, it was really fun to see everyone and also to see more of Canada. It felt like a mini-vacation from all the packing and stress of preparing to move. Plus, we got donairs! If you don't know what a donair is, first, welcome, and, second, it is a sub ( kind of like a philly cheese steak ) that has shaved meat and a sauce. Unlike the cheese steak though, the sauce is tangy and sweet (and not, you know, cheese). The first time I had one I wasn't into it. It's a very unique food in my opinion and it took some getting used to but I love them now.
We ended up getting donair sandwiches, pizzas, and fries throughout the trip. When we weren't eating donairs, we were eating at Tim Horton's for the most part. I was super happy to find an awesome farmer's market in the downtown of where were staying for the wedding, win!
We ended up with some carrots, cherries, and vietnamese food and everything was delicious. We tried to make the carrots and cherries road snacks but they didn't last very long.
Of course, we also enjoyed some Canadian candy which was really fun and reminded us both of trips to Canada from when we were younger. Coffee Crisp for life.
The wedding was fabulous. The bride and groom are both teachers and so the wedding had a teacher theme to it which I obviously adored. Plus, they are just the nicest people who know how to throw a great party. We loved their photo booth setup, of course.
I also made sure to get in a few good workouts where I could. Don't worry; we're just posing here but I really did get up early the morning of our long drive back to get in a 5k. Gotta do what you gotta do!
About 14 hours after we got back from Nova Scotia, I had to be at my poetry class. At first, because of this, I was overwhelmed by the thought of taking this class but it actually become a super nice break from the packing, closing, moving, chaos and it was really nice to have time at my parents' and connect with them. Plus, a few days spent talking about and writing poetry was actually way more fun than I had imagined--and I put my wedding favor to good use!
I prepped these Mediterranean salads to have for lunch the whole week so I could focus on my work. Three credits in three days? THE BEST. Plus, I ended up writing some poetry that I'm super proud of, so yay to that.
A day and a half after I got home from my graduate class, we closed on our house! So, dinner looked like this most nights. . . #notcomplaining!
Guess what the first thing I moved into our house was?
We have this super awesome walk-in closet that is off of our master suite and I'm in love, obviously.
We closed on a Friday, moved in two car loads that night and then, with the help of the world's best family and friends, packed up our uhaul and moved into our new place all day on Saturday. There was lots of pizza and water at the end of it and oh dear God were we tired. So. Much. Stuff. I'm thinking of becoming a minimalist. On the up side, we have a pizza place a mile from us that makes the best pizza I've ever had.
Of course, not to slow down or anything, the next morning we woke up early and started working. We decided that the week following our move we would do all the major projects before moving our things in. So, all of our stuff is in boxes in the basement and in our bedroom/bathroom while we paint two rooms and all the kitchen cabinets. In hindsight, this is one of the worst ideas I've ever had. Did I really think moving ALL our stuff and the next day painting and working for a week was a good idea? Yes, yes I did.
To be honest, the first room went great. We taped, picked out color, painted the walls and trim, and we were done in a day-- boom! It felt amazing and we're in love with that room. The paint is called Smoky Blue from Sherwin Williams and I'm pretty obsessed with it. It's going to be a dining room, we hope, but right now it's still just a room on the way to other rooms. A real "after" shot will come much later.
After we were done our "dining room," it became our mobile kitchen. We are going on about 2+ weeks of not having a kitchen to cook in. So, dinner is still looking like this.
I also had the genius idea to defrost some chicken breasts and throw them in a crockpot with some BBQ sauce so we had BBQ chicken cups for dinner one night. YES. Also, we only have silverware out at this point. Maybe some day I'll have a kitchen with plates and cups.. . .
I'll write a post about the whole house reno project soon but for now, we're also painting the living room walls and trim and painting our kitchen cabinets. We're hoping to be done in just a few more days. . . . For now I'll be staring at the flowers the previous owners left us. I'm going to have to learn to garden soon.
We are psyched to have a house and can't wait to have people over and have a real space that is ours and that we can host people in. Hope you're all having a great week!