Friday, February 26, 2010

will it ever be green again?

It happens every winter. Right around the same time too.

I look out the window and wonder in all seriousness if I will ever see green again.


It thoroughly astounds me how every year we run through the same cycle. Complete deadness in the winter, though covered in white... which is a color I associate with life {I find such irony in that}... to a month or so of melted patches on the ground and lots of dead branches and brown hues rampant across the ground. And then before you know it, single green seedlings pop through the soil... and my heart remembers that Spring never fails to come.

But like I said, I just cannot see how we will see any of these ever again. My imagination is stunted, if I hadn't seen it happen so many times before I just wouldn't believe it could happen...


Living in a part of the world where the four seasons are all very evident is a blessing and a curse. I love the changing seasons, but there comes a time in the midst of each one that I wish for another. I often think I would be happier in a place that was {mostly} green all the time. But somehow I think I would lose appreciation for these months as we see new life return.

btw - the spring pictures are from last year {obviously} ;) April 11th actually.

Will it be green in just 44 days again?


Thursday, February 25, 2010


This morning I was trolling around blogs and came across this photo. Thought that it was the woman's whose blog I was reading's wall {lovin my made-up punctuation}

I was immediately captured by this arrangement, it speaks to every aspect of my inner need for decorating with pictures. At any rate, as I read the blog I realized it was actually a page from the Pottery Barn catalog, no duh, the 20% off at the top should have clued me in that it wasn't from her house... hehe :)


One of the things on this wall that I am just fascinated with is the shadow box on the right side. Here's a close up:

shadow box

The reason I used the word fascinated is because I can't decide if I love this or hate this. But I keep looking at it. I wonder if I could create something like this with things that I have in my house... like things that are relevant to life now. And change it up as life changes. Hmmm...

stacked frames

Then, there's this. Another thing I'm fascinated by... can't decide if I love or hate. But again, I keep looking at it.

Stacked frames? It's cooler than one frame on a shelf by itself but I wonder if I would like many frames together but in a line as opposed to overlapping.

laundry line art

Now this, I am quite sure I would like this. However, what to actually put on it would be the question I'm left with. I have art work that I've done throughout the years, it might be a good way to display it... since right now it sits in folders or my big ole carry art folio thingy.

So we'll see... I'll have to think about it more... but in the meantime, I'm still fascinated.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

girls and their dresses

There aren't a lot of things I knew I wanted for my wedding, but this was most definitely one of them.

bridesmaid dresses

I wanted all of the girls to wear different dresses!

This is one of those things I've known for like, ever. I have rarely seen it done and always wonder why more people don't do it, but everyone has their own style/taste and I think that matching dresses look nice too :)

It was harder than I thought to figure out which dress everyone would end up with. I didn't want to put a lot of restrictions on the style, just the color. So at first I had said if they wanted long or short, strapless or halter, whatever was fine with me. But then most ended up picking short dresses so I asked them to just keep that the same throughout.

Anyways, the above picture is all of the dresses together. The color is totally wack on the website and totally not what it actually looks like. It's called Guava and is more orange than you are actually seeing it on your screen.


This is Melissa's dress. It was the first one she tried on and looks fabulous on her. You're probably wondering why it's long though... it won't be. When she bought it, it was with the intent to have it altered to be tea-length. So cute!


This is Alicia's dress. We went into david's bridal FOUR separate times while she tried on dresses before she was able to find one that worked for her. The problem was that one of the very first ones she tried on was just perfect. She loved it and was committed to buying it, but then we found out it didn't come in the right color! So aggravating. But this one is so cute and totally summery. This dress is totally a "wear it again" style I think :)


Then here we have Beka's dress. I wasn't able to go with her, or Andrea or Dyan for that matter. I love the top on this dress, it's so unique and mod-chic


This is Andrea's. So her. And I don't think the color will clash with her red hair at all ;)


This one is Dyan's dress. It was also one that Alicia was very close to going with, but I'm so glad that it worked out this way and everyone got a dress that they're comfortable with!

Now, onto shoes! I looked all over the stinking place to find a pump that was not white as I felt that white shoes with the guava dresses would clash and I couldn't find anything. I found some sweet red pumps and I think even one in blue. But that was just not going to work. Then I thought about dyable shoes, but I didn't like any of the ones at David's, plus they start at like $60 per and I thought that was a lot. I even considered one particular style because it was in fact very cute, but when I put it on, I was in immediate pain and knew I would have mad blisters on the back of my heel from them. Not cool.

So these are the ones I ended up picking out. They are in fact dyable shoes, from payless! This picture shows the color they will be dyed but it looks very light on the screen. It's called cashmere and I think will be very complimentary to the dresses. However, my shoes will indeed stay white. But they are the same style. I actually just bought them last week :)


Now, I have a vision for my shoes, but I'm not sure I'm going to be able to pull it off. I found a tutorial to make these cute flowers out of jeans and would like to make them in the guava material and pin them to my shoes instead of the flat bow on them now.

I tried making one last week out of some old pants I cut up (lol I know, but i didn't have any other fabric!) and it just didn't turn out the way I would like. It was kinda floppy and definitely too big for the shoe. I was thinking about making it smaller, but it might be too small for me to make well.

So I am looking for alternatives now. Though I think it would be super hot if I had flowers like that on my shoes, and one of the girls had one in their hair and another had one pinned to their dress. Like a big ole matching flower on Andrea's dress? You guys can tell me if I'm totally off my rocker...

Thoughts, suggestions?


I'm a kid person

Over the years I've logged countless of watching and caring for different kids. People have assumed things of me, saying, "I'll bet you never want kids of your own after watching so many that aren't yours." OR "This is great birth control for you huh?"

I'm going to open it up here and be quite honest about my feelings on this topic. These people to some degree were spot on. For the last 2 and a half years I've been quite certain that I did not want kids for a long while. It's hard enough dealing with someone else's children day after day, and I got to go home at night. I've always felt in my heart that I want to stay home with my kids once I actually have them, so the fact that I would be with them all day AND all night has been very apparent in my mind.

knowing that, the last 2ish years, I've said, yep, you're absolutely right. I don't want kids now, and I'm not sure when I will want them. I have always known that when the time was right, God would lay that desire in my heart. But to some degree I worried that caring for so many other people's kids had tainted my vision of child-rearing and caused me to become bitter towards the process.

I can say in all honesty that over the last 6 months of being "kid free" that I simply cannot imagine living my life void of children. I want them, I need them, but I can wait to have them.

There is so much to be learned from kids. Maybe because I am such an analytic I can take the craziness of life with kids and turn it into some mosaic that looks like art.

Now, you may be thinking at this point that I can only see things this way because I've been kid free for so long now, but it's not true. I've been taking care of 2 little ones the last few weeks and I can say in all sincerity that watching them has made me realize all of this. It's given me the opportunity to remember the good times, the bad times and all the cool stuff that happens in between. Even when I'm all done having my own babies, I hope and pray that God will bring children across my path because the world is just a brighter place with new life running through it.

Now go peel your kid off your screaming toddler.


Monday, February 22, 2010

Stuff I did over Christmas

I had good intentions of writing a detailed post about my travels with Steve over Christmas, but seeing as how it's almost 2 months in the past now I am going to skip over the bulk of it and just share the pictures I had already prepared for a post.

At first glance, all the plans we had made for Christmas break seemed so exciting... But when broken down day by day it quickly became an awful lot. and most definitely taught Steve and I a thing or two about what it will be like to live together all the time once we're married.

We spent actual Christmas day at my parents' house with my younger brother and one of my older brothers and his family. The day after Christmas we drove to PA to help Steve's parent finish moving from here to there. His dad got laid off of his 20+ year job here in Rochester just this past august but quickly got a new one in PA. So he moved pretty much right away and had been living by himself until about the end of November when Steve's mom finally was able to move down there with him. So, currently they are still trying to sell their house that's here, but are planning to move into a new town house that's being built in a few weeks.

Naval Academy Museum

Anyways, we stayed there overnight and then headed down to MD and stayed a few nights with my Aunt Sally and Uncle Ron. While we were there we spent a day at the Naval Academy where my uncle gave us a nice tour. I had been there many times before as my brother attended there when I was much younger but it was Steve's first time going.


Naval Academy Cathedral

This is the Navy Cathedral, so beautiful. I could only imagine how amazing a wedding would be in here.



Steve took this, I love the reflection of light on the wall.


When I was a little girl, we would come often to visit my brother at the Acedemy, and this is one of the things I remember most clearly. Tecumseh. I have a picture of when I was little next to him, so I wanted one when I was all grown up ;)

The next day we went to DC where we pretty much froze our butts off. We didn't stay long because it was just ridiculous.

freezin in DC

I tried to stay warm, but it just wasn't working!

At that point we moved to my brother's house and stayed for a few days through New Years and then drove to NYC to spend the day with Steve's grandma, mom and dad and sister. We did as much sightseeing in the city as we really could but it was so unbearably cold that we didn't do nearly as much as we would have liked.


Elmo and Cookie look innocent enough, but I assure you, they are dirty little men in those outfits. But I wanted a picture with them so I endured ha!

So that was my Christmas vacation... oh so late, but this blog is as much for my own journaling purposes than for anything else and I'd hate to not remember things just because the timing was off. I so enjoy going back in my blog and re-reading things from the past. Especially blogs from the same month it is right now. It is often very encouraging to see that I'm either going through the same feelings or possibly doing better than I was then, which is always nice to find out :)


Saturday, February 20, 2010


I've been realizing lately that my posts have not been reflective of the fact that I'm getting married in 91 days.

Hold on a minute.


K, I'm back.

In control.



Bah, who am I kidding?! I'm a nutcase! I've never been in control, calm or collected when I WASN'T planning a wedding. I am totally out of my mind excited about getting married! It's all so crazy and fun at the same time. I do feel stressed, and I think that may have more to do with my overall mood in the winter than anything.

I'm trying to keep it real, I never wanted my life to become obsessed with a wedding... so it's not. And that's probably why I haven't posted much about it, but that's beside the point.

The point is, there are a few things for this wedding that I am enjoying immensely and that is mainly the designing and decorating end of things. Forget details about food and who's coming with who. I could care less. I just want to create and enjoy the pretty things... and this is just one example of something that I am enjoying right now.


A pile of invitations? Well, not so much the address acquiring, writing, stamping, hand-cramping, licking frenzy. But what's inside, oh yes, that is what I enjoy.


My mom asked me to come up with a design for the shower invitations... only because she knew I would want to. She would of course have been happy to do them herself, but this is something I love.

I worked on my own design and when I thought I was done, I sent the files to my amazing friend Maureen who is giving me custom made invitations as my wedding gift. She is incredibly talented, and in fact just last night I sat with her for 4 hours as we designed the actual wedding invites.

But she took what I gave her for the shower and ran with it, adjusting, modifying and creating a piece that I cannot help but want to eat it up. Ok, maybe that's a little overboard, but I can't explain in words how I feel about it!

invite inside

From the front, the invitation opens to this. It's a tri-fold 4x5 so when it opens you see the part on the left above, then unfold once more and see the right.


Then on the back is a little quote by Winnie the Pooh, so sweet I think :) I liked this one too:

"Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. "Pooh," he whispered.
"Yes, Piglet?"
"Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's paw, "I just wanted to be sure of you."

But it didn't fit quite as well as the one that I ended up using.

Anyways, this was truly a bright spot for me all last week. Reminds me that spring is coming and that the sooner it gets here the sooner this wedding will be over - err, I mean I get to be married ;)

I am going to post soon about what dresses the girls are wearing, they are all different! I cannot wait to see everyone together, they'll all look so beautiful!

And if I had a decent picture of me in my wedding dress I would send anyone a picture that wanted to see it, but I don't. It's at the seamstress and will be til around April. But i'm looking for veils still. I found one that I particularly like but hesitate to post anything about it as I'm not technically supposed to let Steve know anything about what I'm wearing ;) So if you want to know more about this, email me aboynamedbarry{at}gmail{dot}com


Friday, February 19, 2010

cookie cookie cookie


Two years ago Melissa and I made the cutest Valentine's Day cookies... and ever since then I've fantasized about doing it again. There are a lot of things I am motivated to do with the idea that I get to take pictures of it when I'm done... I love taking pictures though. There's something really satisfying for me to make something cool and then take an even cooler {at least in my mind} picture.

lilly eats cookie

I made enough for Melissa and her friend Sheri and I to decorate when they came over during naptime... yep, I'm takin care of kids again. I can't seem to stay away lol. I have another post brewing about that topic...

But before they came over, I let the kids do some decorating of their own. I didn't give Lilly any frosting, really, she didn't need it. She had enough fun just eating it. And when it was gone, she was more than a little vocal about wanting another... heh


This one of the other hand did quite well with the frosting I gave him...

gabey boy

I only gave him red because I figured much like play doh, all colors would get mixed to red eventually anyways... but that didn't stop him from asking for more. I'm selfish though, I wanted the pink and white for mine!

gabey likes cookie

So then later on when Sheri and Melissa came over we had a blast decorating the rest.

sherri loves cookie


And then cookie monster {aka me} ate them.

These cookies were from a new recipe I tried and I really really liked it, so here it is.

Sour Cream Cookies {makes about 5 dozen cookies}

For cookies:
1/2 cup softened butter
1 1/2 cup sugar {I used raw and it turned out great!}
2 eggs
1 tsp almond extract
3 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sour cream

Mix butter and sugar well, add eggs and almond extract. Blend until smooth. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, sour cream and salt. Mix until blended and dough forms a ball. If dough is too loose, add flour. Cover and refrigerate a few hours.

On a well-floured surface, roll out and cut shapes with cookie cutters. Bake at 425 degrees 4-6 minutes. Cool on wire rack before icing.

For frosting:
1/2 cup softened butter
1 lb powdered sugar
2 tsp almond extract
4 Tbsp milk
1/4 tsp salt
food coloring

Mix together and blend until smooth. Use sandwich size ziploc baggies and put about 1/2 cup frosting into corner of bag and cut a teeny tiny hole to do detail icing.

These cookies aren't just your average sugar cookie. It's the almond I tell ya. It makes them so flavorful!


Thursday, February 18, 2010

spinach and au gratin potatoes

I leave tabs open on my browser until I get the chance to properly explore the site. If I decide that it is a project for me, I will leave it open indefinitely... sometimes weeks at a time. This particular link sat here on my screen about 4 weeks before I finally got the chance to make it!

I give you in this post, the keys to some of the most amazing and tasty au gratin potato/spinach combination. I originally had this recipe when Andrea made it with sweet potatoes, like the recipe actually says. We mutually decided that they were too much and that regular potatoes would work best... for our tastebuds that is ;)

Here is where I originally found the recipe, and then below is my only very slightly revised version...

The first step was acquiring enough spinach without spending an ever-loving fortune. Which is ended up doing, but heh, I figured it out for next time. Sam's Club has big (2 lb?) bags of spinach so I bought one of those to add to the 11 oz I already had in my fridge from Wegmans. The sam's stuff was way cheaper btw.

Here's the list of ingredients:

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 pounds spinach
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (i did not use fresh... and it was fine)
2 cups heavy cream or whole milk
2 garlic cloves, minced (i actually just used the jar stuff because I didn't realize I didn't have any cloves left. it worked well)
2 tablespoons flour
2 pounds medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8-inch thick rounds
1 tablespoon minced fresh Italian parsley
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
Black pepper
1 1/4 cups (about 5 ounces) coarsely grated Gruyére cheese

I took the time to wash the spinach not realizing that washing 3 lbs of it was going to take me a few hours... ok, maybe only like a half hour. But seriously, drying that stuff out was near impossible. I suggest either A) doing it a day ahead of time or B) not washing it at all and realizing that with all the cooking and baking, nothing bad will be left. (I vote plan B next time)


To prep greens: Cook onion in 2 tablespoons butter in a wide 8-quart heavy pot over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened. Add a pinch of nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring, until vegetables are tender but not browned, about 5 minutes. Increase heat to moderately high and add spinach by large handfuls, stirring, until all greens are wilted. Season with salt and pepper then transfer greens to a colander to drain well and press out liquid with back of a large spoon.

To make sauce: Combine cream or milk and garlic in small saucepan; bring to simmer; keep warm. Melt two tablespoons butter in a medium heavy saucepan over moderate heat and stir in flour. Cook roux, whisking, one minute, then slowly whisk in warm cream/milk and boil, whisking, one minute. Season sauce with salt and pepper. Take the time to do this right and you will end with an amazingly divine cream sauce.

spinach and au gratin potatos

To assemble gratin: Preheat oven to 400°F. Butter deep 9×13 baking dish. Spread half of potatoes in the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, a quarter of the herbs and a 1/4 cup of the cheese. Distribute half of the greens mixture over the cheese, then sprinkle salt, pepper, a quarter of the herbs and 1/4 cup of the cheese over it. Pour half of bechamel sauce over the first two layers then continue with the remaining sweet potatoes, more salt, pepper, herbs and cheese and then the remaining greens, salt, pepper and herbs. Pour the remaining sauce over the top of the gratin, pressing the vegetables slightly to ensure that they are as submerged as possible. Sprinkle with the last 1/4 cup of cheese.

Bake gratin for about 1 hour until golden and bubbly, and most of the liquid is absorbed. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Do ahead: You can make the entire gratin but not bake it up to a day in advance and keep it in the fridge. You can also make and bake the gratin and reheat it. Gratins reheat well, but they take almost as much time to gently heat through as they do to bake in the first place, especially deep ones like this. As for reheating, it works just fine :) Tastes amazing the first AND second time.

Thanks Smitten Kitchen for this awesome recipe!


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Valentine's Day

In the past I've expressed my opinion about Valentine's day being a commercial holiday that I do not appreciate. I feel like it's a little cliche and anything done on that day loses a little bit of lustre if only because it's somewhat expected and everything's already been done before.

Anyways, that hasn't changed now that I have my own Valentine :) But I will not lie and say that I boycott the holiday based on principle. Fact is, I think everyday is a good day to say I love you :) And if it happens to be on February 14, then so be it :)

I don't have any real vases yet, so when my man brought me roses, I had to split them into 2 vases. Putting one in the kitchen and one in the bathroom.


This gorgeous rusty orange rose I have is from my mom. She brought it to me on Friday when I was with the new kids I'm watching a few days a week.


And you may have noticed the blog changes. I thought in all sincerity that I would never get sick of my old blog design, but alas, I have. I wanted something brighter, whiter and simpler. So I've widened the margins as well, so now I'm able to upload pictures here just as big as I can on my photo blog.

I have a bunch of posts in line to go up since it's been a few weeks since I've blogged. Not really sure why that is, since I've had plenty of time really. I'm really enjoying this time though... because very soon, I'm not going to have any left!


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