17 December 2014

christmas wreaths

Our new house is the coziest. I'm sure I will love it once summer comes around, but if I had to move into a house right before the darkest, coldest season... I would pick this one over and over. We build fires in our fireplace, light balsam fir incense and snuggle up on the couch. It's just too much coziness for me to comprehend sometimes, but I try. In an effort to get our home ready for the holidays, I've done two things.

The first thing was to make this wreath. I made this wreath! My co-worker and I took a class at a local florist shop last week during a nice snowstorm. I have no idea how this turned out so nicely, but I can only guess that having a bright red door as inspiration and a tiny bit of experience with making floral crowns helped.

The second thing I did to deck the halls was complete an obsessive, worldwide hunt for the perfect Christmas window candles. As soon as we moved in, I thought, "This home would look lovely with Christmas window candles." You know the type, right? Well, the perfect ones aren't as easy to find as you might think. Retailers are sold out or only sellings one with a terrible haunted orange glow. I searched far and wide, increasingly worrying my loved ones with my singular focus. I'm happy to report that I found the perfect ones. Battery-operated, on a timer and with the perfect glow.

The bulk of our Christmas spirit came out on Friday, when we bought our tree and put up all the trimmings around our home, while sipping on faux eggnog (trying to save the real stuff for closer to Christmas) and blasting holiday tunes. What are your go-to decorations for Christmas? 

09 December 2014

turning 30

I turned 30 right after Thanksgiving, and had plans of checking in here to tell you all how it felt. To declare plans and goals and resolutions for this next decade. To reflect on my twenties. To lay bare my worries and hopes and all of it. I've had grand ideas of how I would ring in this new decade, ranging from a 30-mile run to a 30-point bucket list. I figured I should go big. 30! Whoa! Better prove how adventurous/zen/young/wise I am even though I'm no longer a twenty-something. I'm a list-maker, resolution-setter, challenge-accepter and accomplishment-collector. It's hardwired in me, for better or worse. But then I paused for just a moment, long enough to hear something in me say:

"Relax! You don't need to prove anything. You don't need to induce an a-ha turning point moment."

So for my 30th birthday, I took a proverbial chill pill and instead am trying to gracefully glide into this new age bracket. To quietly reflect, prioritize and let go of any nonsense. I have a few intentions that I'm sure I'll revisit and restate for the new year, but until then? It's all eggnog and cozy fireplaces and staying in the moment. It's appreciating who and where I am, at this exact moment in time. It's realizing that I'll never be younger than I am now, than I am right this very minute.

How do you celebrate milestone birthdays? Anyone have a big one coming up soon? Turning 30 was funny because some people couldn't believe how absolutely OLD I am and others couldn't believe how very YOUNG I am. I guess that means that being 30 years old is the best of both worlds, right?

26 November 2014

a mile a day, every day

I needed a little kick in the pants to get back on track running. There's been a lot of commotion this fall (new house! etc!) and I've fallen off the wagon. In hopes of jump starting a running habit again, particularly as the weather turns winter-y, I'm doing the Runner's World #RWRunStreak! That means from Thanksgiving to New Year's, I'm running a mile a day, every day. Some days I'll run more and other days I'll just do a slow, easy single mile. But every day, I'll lace up and get out there. Even though I can easily convince myself that it's better to stay inside on the couch, I know that running always boosts my mood, confidence and general outlook. Plus, in the dark months of winter, it's a reason to get outside in the fresh air. We'll see how it goes, but wish me luck and join along if you'd like :)

You can read more about the #RWRunStreak here and follow along on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram with the hashtag.

Happy Thanksgiving! Fall is a big time for us, especially this one. Our 30th birthdays, our first house, our second wedding anniversary... so much cause for celebration! I'll be back soon talking about turning 30 and resuming our little chat about neighborhoods and houses. Stay safe out there, snowpeople!

23 November 2014

our apartment, a look back

We are all moved into our house! It's awesome. I'm in love. But I thought I'd share a few photos of the old apartment, now that we are moved into our new home. One day, assuming we ever unpack our boxes, I'll show you the new place too.

Chris and I have lived in two apartments together and before that, many apartments with roommates. When we decided to move in together, we decided that an itsy bitsy apartment in a big old brownstone would be a good first step. You remember the one with the tiny kitchen, right? It was on the third floor of a walk-up, a block away from restaurants and pubs and overlooking one of the nicest parks in Albany. It had a quirky layout that we loved and lots of quirks that we didn't love. At the time, I know the apartment frustrated me but looking back I'm filled to the brim with nostalgia.

Then we upgraded our space and moved into the bottom two floors of another historic townhome a few blocks away. It felt much more like a real home, with a bigger kitchen and living areas, storage space and even a shared back yard and deck. We lived in the first floor and garden level (that just means basement) of a four-story brownstone. The building owner and our landlady lived on the second and third floors. Our main living space was upstairs and the bedrooms were down below grade. The whole first floor was open. Kitchen melded into the dining area which led into our sitting area and then to the living room.

Funky exposed brick! Our apartment had a lot of that. It's a conversation-starter, for sure, and I think it made our place ten times cooler. There's that door that Chris cleaned and hung up as a room divider. I was skeptical at first, but it was the number one most complimented feature of our space.

Our bigger kitchen! One of the first things we bought when we moved 2+ years ago was this Ikea island and I'd say I spent 75% of my waking time in the kitchen or at that island. We also had a dishwasher for the first time in both of our lives.

And the bedroom, with more funky exposed brick and purple walls we inherited from previous tenants. I will just say that we are really happy to be sleeping above ground, where the sun has a fighting chance of peeking in and passersby have a lesser chance of watching us sleep.

This apartment is right in the heart of Center Square and we walked everywhere. It had a small city yard and a back deck, too. When we first started looking for homes to buy, we included the neighborhood in our search but ended up falling in love with an adorable Tudor home with a bright red door in another 'hood. So that got me thinking a lot about different neighborhoods, and I think that's where we'll pick up in the next post...

14 November 2014

pint glasses, or "where did these all come from?"

Why is it that my demographic that hoards pint glasses? Why do we have so many? We have pint glasses from races, breweries, restaurants and two very special ones from our dear friends' wedding. Our pint glasses took up a whole cabinet shelf. They aren't even our primary drinking glasses, but here they are, filling an entire box and being trucked over to our new home. I imagine other people might also fill boxes to the brim with souvenir shot glasses, but we've avoided that trap so far.

Other things I should have sorted through more but instead am moving with me:

In fairness, though, we've donated something like three garbage bags of fabric and sewing supplies (don't worry, I still have a room full of supplies), four or five bags of clothes, a box of shoes, two boxes of vases (where did they come from?), three boxes of miscellaneous household items, two boxes of books and a straw farmers hat.

If you had to move next week, what things would you find that should have been tossed long ago? Do you still have boxes stashed up from the last time you moved? Any weird collections or hoards hidden in the basement? Do tell, it will help me feel less alone with this junk.

11 November 2014

we bought a house!

So the other day, we bought a house! Yowza! It happens to be the cutest house ever. Tudor-style, red door, vines all over it. I can't step inside it without dancing and giggling. I've got some thoughts rolling around the ol' noggin about neighborhoods, homes and moving so the next few weeks are going to be sort of Variations on a Theme around here.

Right after our closing, we drove over to the new homestead with a bottle of champagne and one of us danced right through every room. Then we went to dinner at a now-closer-than-before favorite restaurant for veggie poutine and tomato salad. We even ordered dessert, because that is what you do when you buy a house. You order fancy desserts.

30 October 2014

a birthday cake

Chris turned 30 earlier this week! He's just the coolest guy and he makes 30 look really good. The day before his birthday, he snagged one last 20-29 age group award at a local Halloween-ish trail race. Really snuck that one in there, right? He won me a cookie, which is not the first running award cookie he's won. What can I say? We run and drink and eat.

We celebrated the milestone with a birthday hike, the rainy and muddy six-mile trail race, fancy dinners and a pub drink. And my mother-in-law made the most stunning birthday cake! Even the restaurant staff where we were eating came over to comment on it. It's a German pound cake recipe topped with a sprinkling of confectioner's sugar and homemade maple leaf roses! So Pinterest! So beautiful!

Wouldn't this make a lovely fall wedding cake, too? Don't you love birthday cake? I never will understand people who don't like desserts. Me? I always have room for dessert. Always.

28 October 2014

growing out a pixie cut, in GIFs

This Is What It's Like To Grow Out A Pixie Cut

Any pixie cuts out there? You have to check out Buzzfeed's take on it here, "This Is What It's Like To Grow Out A Pixie Cut:  If Emma Watson did it, why can't you?" It's wonderfully perfect, and illustrated completely with celebrity GIFs.

My favorite phase description is the one about overcompensating with decorative headbands... and how headbands cause the worst headaches. So true.

Related posts
My actual advice for growing out a pixie

18 October 2014

peach jam, two ways

After my last post, I did some more canning and even though it's no longer peach season and these definitely weren't grown locally, I tried out two incredible peach jam recipes that the world should know about. One is a sweet Salted Brown Sugar Peach Jam, best used on oven-warmed croissants or hearty slices of toast. Or, perhaps, just on a spoon. It's got a gooey caramel flavor, which should be enough information to tempt you into making a small batch of it right this moment.

The other tends towards the savory side and we've been using it in much the same way that we use our beloved tomato jam. Peach Jam with Sriracha. Can you wrap your mind around it? Peach jam with a healthy pour of sriracha cooked right in. As I was following the recipe, I got a little sweaty at how much sriracha it called for and how red the jam was turning. Was this going to melt my face off? The answer is no, your face is safe. It's so very unusual and delicious, and you absolutely must add it to your quirky home pantry. Which brings me to a recent revelation:

I'd rather make small batches of weird things all year round than spend a hot & humid weekend holed up in the kitchen putting up gallons of something boring. 

For example, I like tomato sauce. I loved getting together with a friend and making a few quarts. But that was my limit. I didn't need to do much more. I'd rather have a pantry full of strange concoctions that really spice up my cooking, things I can't readily buy at the store. Because here's the secret: sometimes other people or companies are better at making things than I am. Not always! (See Quiches, Homemade.) But sometimes. And I'd rather just buy those. Hopefully from a smaller, local producer but even then, not always. Make weird recipes and put them in jars! That's the new theme of my home canning and preservation strategy.

Both recipes from Marisa McClellan's new book Preserving by the Pint:  Quick Seasonal Canning for Small Spaces. You can download the cute canning labels over at From Scratch Club.

This year's preserving stockpile

Have you really not given tomato jam a try yet?


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