Monday, March 02, 2015

renovating and single-momming

Well, it's been a doozy of a week. David has spent every last minute at the house getting it ready for us to move in. His poor arms are about to fall off from all the scraping, sanding and mudding going on our drywall. He's such a trooper, but there's still lots more to do. I wish I could help but even getting a sitter isn't much help since I still have a (very cute) little baby attached to me. We certainly don't want the kids around while we're trying to do renovations that involve particles in the air, so that means I am just a single mom lately and it is rough. 

Anyway, even though we are spent (insert home renovation cost pun here), we are just so happy to have a home of our own! It'll take us a while to complete all the changes we want to make, but we are having fun thinking about our plans for the Bryant home. It's a 1970s split level and we bought it from the original owner so it's pretty groovy and needs lots of updates. I'm not ready to share too many "before" pictures but here is a little teaser of the upper level. 
David has already ripped off that gold metallic motif wallpaper and we're keeping the carpet for now until we can rip it all out and put in wood floors. David is working on taking out that L-shaped wall to open up the kitchen, dining room and living room. It'll be awesome!

Friday, February 27, 2015

[house] owning it

The most exciting news of 2015 so far is that... we bought a house! We closed on it yesterday and I am so happy! This whole home buying process has been a WILD ride and one that I don't look forward to experiencing again... at least not soon! Anyway, we feel really good about this house and the location - cause isn't that what it's all about? It's a fixer-upper, for sure, but we are excited for all the possibilities that are before us. David already spent the evening at the house, ripping off wallpaper, cutting through some drywall and laying down the plastic to prepare for some work this weekend. I hope you're all up for some before and after pictures and posts, cause they're coming! :) Eeee! We are home owners! It's like we're adults now! Ha!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

chocolate cream pie

It was my brother's birthday last week and we had a little dessert get-together at our house to celebrate him being super awesome. Stephen is an incredible guy and I feel so lucky to have him as my big brother. When asked what he wanted for dessert, he said, "Something with a graham cracker crust and maybe chocolate if it makes sense." Ha! Well, obviously, chocolate cream pie always makes sense! I used this recipe as inspiration and everyone loved it! I doubled the crust (cause, yum!) and changed up a few things and hot dang! - it's a winner! Try it, you won't be disappointed! Also, I think it's even better the next day... thankfully, we divvied up the left overs so not all of it was in our fridge!
9 ounces whole graham crackers
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
pinch of kosher salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted

Toast the pecans in a dry skillet over medium heat until lightly brown (be careful not to burn). Remove from heat and place in a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. Pour into a bowl and set aside. Add graham crackers to the food processor (will probably have to do this in batches) and pulse until you have fine crumbs (don't over process into powder, though). Pour into the bowl with the pecans. Add sugar, cinnamon and salt and combine. Drizzle in butter and mix well. Pour into a deep quiche/tart pan, springform pan or large pie pan (it makes a thick crust) and firmly press the crumbs into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Place the pie crust into the refrigerator while making the filling.
2 large (5 ounce) boxes Jell-O Cook and Serve Chocolate Pudding Mix (NOT "chocolate fudge", "sugar-free" or "instant")
6 cups whole milk
6 Tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter, cubed
5 ounces milk chocolate bar, broken into pieces (I used 4 standard Hershey's bars)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Pour pudding mix into a medium saucepan and whisk in milk until no lumps remain. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until pudding comes to a full boil (around 10 minutes). Remove the pan from heat and stir in the butter cubes until melted. Add chopped chocolate and salt and stir until melted and smooth. Pour the pudding into the pie crust* and cover with plastic wrap (making sure to touch the plastic to the entire pudding surface to make sure a "skin" doesn't develop). Return pie to refrigerator until set and cold (about 4 hours).

*you'll likely have some leftover and you could split it into a smaller pie, if you want or just eat the leftovers like we do!

2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Semi-sweet (or dark) chocolate bar, for shavings

When ready to serve, whip the cream until it begins to thicken. Add powdered sugar and vanilla and continue to whip on high speed until stiff. Smooth the whipped cream over the top of the pudding and shave chocolate on top.

It was a big hit with Fritz!

Monday, February 23, 2015

sunday driving

One of our favorite things to do as a family on Sunday afternoons, after church, is to take a nature drive and listen to beautiful music. This Sunday we did that and, even though it is still winter, it was beautiful. Summer drives are going to kill me dead! We ended up driving north and checking out all the beautiful scenery. We walked along the shore of the Puget Sound and threw rocks into the water, peeped through giant holes made in the drift wood and ate ginger snaps. I watched my family as we interacted with each other - the giggles between two brothers who imagined pirates were out on the water, the shy grin that Louisa would give David from my baby carrier, the kisses between David and me on the beach as I felt really attracted to him in that moment - I just felt really lucky. Then we listened to one of my favorite albums, Yo-Yo Ma Plays Ennio Morricone, on the car ride home and it felt like a beautiful day.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

a taste of spring

It's "Mid-Winter Break" here so the kids have the whole week off of school. The other day, we took a picnic to the park with the cousins and it was gorgeous! My sister-in-law and I are in agreement that we love how great the sun feels after some cloudy days (but I can honestly say that I don't mind those cloudy days!). It sure did feel great to have some sun on our backs though as we walked around the lake. The boys were enthralled by this boy "fishing", even though he just kept reeling in kelp. Ha! In any case, they couldn't take their eyes off him.
The trees around town are starting to get the most welcome little buds on them and we have been spending more and more time outside as the days are getting longer. It's so wonderful to be welcoming in Spring, even though I realize that it's probably still a little ways off. And dear baby Lou, I love you!