Sunday, September 25, 2011

Beautiful Balance Check Book Cover

TODAY is the birthday of one of our dearest friends, Lea (Happy Leapalooza, my friend)!  What is Leapoolza, you ask?  Well, it's the week before and the week after Lea's birthday and the rules are simple:

1-Do something extraordinary that brings you joy ever day. 
2-Do something extraordinary for someone else everyday.

One of my "for someone else" was to make a special gift for the birthday girl, a check book cover from Amy Butler's Style Stitches.  I've used this book before to make a gift for another friend (you can read about it here and see the outcome here).  I still wish that I could have more photos in the patterns but this one wasn't too difficult though somehow I ended up with a whole extra piece of fabric cut out and and lined and then I didn't know where to put I guess I have the start to another one of these!

Amy's cover calls for a plain front but I wanted this one to be extra special

We were even able to give our gift in person this year (Lea is one of our NC friends) and have dinner with her on Friday night!  Happy Birthday to a wonderful friend!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Precious Cargo

In the spring, I made this bag for my friend Caitlin (you can read about the process here) and she sent me this ADORABLE photo of her son Case, the most precious cargo.  I just found the photo again on my phone and had to share.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


I found this Nike quote on another blog I read, Nutrition Nut on the Run and thought it was a powerful message worth sharing. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Girls

Sonya (me), Alicia, Danielle, Sharon and Brittany
Just thought I would share a great photo from after the baby shower that my father-in-law took of the girls in the family :) 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Is it spring yet???

It's been a cool, rainy day here in Ohio...Max and Lila aren't enjoying it.  They've spent the whole day cozy in their beds, together as you can see to conserve body heat or cuddled up under blankets!  When November comes, we'll have to break out their winter coats!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Mmmmm...White Chicken Chili

Last night, I had a co-worker over for dinner.  We have a trade show this week and she's from out of town so I thought it would be nice to invite her over and have a chance to catch up!  In my day job, I'm a territory manager so I spend most of my time with customers or in my home office.  I have the BEST co-workers but we only get to see each other a few times a year so it was nice to have her here :)  I made our friend Missy's recipe for White Chicken Chili, which is a favorite in our house, especially in cold/cool weather months.  It would also be perfect for tailgating!  If you try it, let me know what you think!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Lilies from our garden

Our gardening experiences over the last few years have been...interesting to say the least.  I do enjoy produce from our own garden (I like knowing where our food comes from) but there have been some challenges along the way).  The lilies planted this spring were beautiful and fragrant and I like to remember this quote:   

"There are no gardening mistakes, only experiments." -- Janet Kilburn Phillips

What are some of your gardening experiments (good or bad)?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Twins! Baby Shower

A few months ago, Chris and I learned that we were going to become an Uncle and an Aunt for the first time ever and to TWIN BOYS!  Over the weekend, the girls threw a baby shower for Danielle, Tim and their pending bundles of joy and the guys went golfing.  Here are a few photos of the festivities.   

Our gift to the babies, hand-made satin backed blankies for the nursery.
A request of the momma-to-be, mini fruit pizzas.  They were yummy, so yummy that Chris ate 4 of them.
Amanda made this amazing cake, so cute!
Danielle, with the cake
At these cutie monkey cup cakes

With us, it's all about the desserts :)  Don't worry, we had other food too!
So many gifts, these twins are going to be set!

Danielle, with her SIL Lori, due 2 weeks apart!
Diaper Cake gift, such a cute idea!
I'm so happy I was able to be a part of welcoming these little guys into the world and the family with the baby shower.  It was so great to catch up with family at the party and also to see all the beautiful handmade gifts (very crafty families :)).  Can't wait to meet the boys in a few months!


Last weekend, I drove up to Cleveland to spend some time with Chris and check out where he's been spending his summer.  It was blazing hot that weekend so spending time out of doors was limited (although we did get to run in Rocky River).  We also checked out a few resturants and neighborhoods while in town, starting with Lolita.  Lolita is a Michael Symon (Iron Chef on the Food Network) restaurant and so I was excited to try it.  Lolita is located in the Tremont area of Cleveland and is known for being a great urban neighborhood for young professionals.   

We started with bread, really crusty bread.
I ordered sides and appetizers, staring with muscles with chorizo (spicy sausage)

And duck fat potatoes

And Brussel spouts with anchovies and capers

Chris ordered Gnocchi with braised lamb

Chris, enjoying the pototoes

The dessert menu...which we were too full to try
 Overall, the atmosphere was great and the waitstaff very attentive but I was a little disappointed in the food.  I think maybe my expectations were too high because of Michael Symon's reputation.  I felt the same way a few years ago when we went to The Lady and Son's in Savannah (a Paula Deen restaurant). 
Interesting fact about our hotel room in Crocker Park, the Olympic torch was a guest!
 On Saturday, we started our day with a 3 mile run along the Rocky River and then to a local bakery for breakfast (pastry and coffee)
 Then we met old Army friends, Brian and Ellie and their new daughter Marin at another Michael Symon place, BSpot Burgers.  It was so good to catch up with old friends and see where life is taking them!  After our lunch and a stroll around the Crocker Park outdoor mall, we headed to Ohio City for their outdoor market and some local beers (and a chance to watch the OSU/Akron game) at Market Garden Brewery.   
Loved the sign behind the bar

The menu at Market Garden Brewery, printed like an old newspaper

My beer/lemonade combo

The brewery
After that, it was time to hit the road to NW Ohio because we had a baby shower to throw the next day, but that's a whole blog post of it's own :)  Overall, I enjoyed the time spent with Chris exploring a new city but for now, I'm happy where we are. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Backyard Mint

After our cooking class, I was inspired to make ice cream.  So last week, I jumped into my Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream cookbook with one of my seasonal favorites, Backyard Mint.  I was even able to add mint from our little garden :)  The book is easy to follow and is broken down into 4 steps (prep, cook, chill and freeze) for each ice cream so once you get the hang of it, you can easily adapt recipes and make your own flavors.

I started by steeping the mint leaves in cream overnight (like I said, I love mint) and straining the leaves out (don't worry, they will be back):

 The next step in prep was getting the ice bath ready.  This is extremely important because it really chills the mixture making the freezing step fast:
 Combining the cream, whole milk and sugars:
 Whipping the cream cheese (her recipes are NOT egg based, they use cream cheese and corn starch to thicken):
 Slurry of cream and corn starch:
 Boiling the cream mixture:

 Once the boiling was complete, I added the mint leaves back in and poured the mixture into a gallon zip top bag and submerged in the ice bath for a few hours:
 Mixing the ice cream:

 The final product, creamy and minty and delicious!  The ice cream made it a family party, otherwise, I would have been tempted to eat the entire container:

Monday, September 5, 2011

Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams Cooking Class

A few weekends ago, my sisters (in-law's), mother (in-law) and I attended a cooking class hosted by Sur la table with local Columbus ice cream maker, Jeni Britton Bauer of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams. If you've ever came to visit us, you've probably been taken to Jeni's because we are all IN LOVE with her ice cream.  It's so fun to take people into her shop and let them try all the unique, fun and delicious flavors and see what they come out with.  We've also packed up in the cooler and taken it to our North Carolina friends as a special Ohio treat.  Needless to say, when we heard she was going to be showcasing her new cookbook recipes, we had to attend. Here are a few photos of the class:

Jeni invited anyone up who wanted to see the process up close and Brittany took her up on the offer. She even got to stay and help for a bit!
Group shot with Jeni:
It was a great experience to actually and see Jeni make her recipes and explain why things happen a certain way (Apparently there is a lot of science involved in making ice cream.  Maybe I should have paid more attention in chemistry). We were all able to get our cookbooks signed too. Such a fun girls day!

Big shout out to our friend Grant, he gave me a gift card for my birthday that I was able to use to attend the class, thanks :)

PS. In case you are wondering, I've made one of the recipes so far...Backyard Mint. Post to follow shortly but I will say it turned out perfectly!  Lemon yogurt is on deck for next weekend as a welcome home from Cleveland treat for Chris.