Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Bacon Jam

My husband and I recently celebrated our EIGHTH Anniversary in Vail! Time sure seems to be speeding by but our love for one another remains stronger than ever. My mom came out for a week and we were able to sneak away, just the two of us, for closing weekend at Vail to go skiing and enjoy some whiskey and great food. One of our appetizers at this amazing restaurant - Mountain Standard - was a warm pimento cheese spread with bacon jam. It took all we had not to lick the bowl! So, I decided to try making some bacon jam! It actually doesn't take very long and it turned out to be delicious! Now if only my house would stop smelling like bacon...

Bacon Jam

- 1.5 pounds of bacon
- 2 sweet onions, sliced
-  1/2 cup + 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. pepper

1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and lay your bacon on a lined baking sheet. Bake for 14 minutes, or until crispy. Reserve 2 tablespoons of your bacon grease.
2. Slice your onions and place in a pan with your bacon grease. Cook onions on low heat, slowly until they become dark brown.
3. Add your 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar to de-glaze the pan and scrape the bottom of the pan.
4. Add the rest of your balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to your onions and stir until they form a thick glaze forms.
5. Transfer bacon and onions to your food processor and pulse until it is your desired consistency. Devour the jam immediately or store in an air tight container up to 1 week.

 Bacon and Onions in food processor

 Bacon Jam

Bacon Jam served on a Melba cracker with pimento cheese spread! YUM!


Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Home Updates

Wow! This year is flying by! We have been very busy with projects around our house! To include getting a new sliding door in our kitchen, getting some new pieces of furniture and painting two more rooms! I have made our 'bonus' room a functional room that has a desk and computer set up for our kids to do homework at and a bookshelf that we were able to unbox the rest of our books and display them on. We hope to add a bed in that room, making our home a six-bedroom.

Last year my husband got me a beautiful live-edge dining table set for my birthday and we had an issue getting the bench delivered to us. This year - it arrived! Below are pictures of the new bench. We also bought a new mirror and credenza for that room and it is coming along. All I need to complete the look is some more decor and a chandelier.

 Live Edge Bench by Sunny Designs

Stockholm Credenza and Mirror from IKEA, baskets from Etsy

We had these beautiful French doors in our kitchen but due to them being installed improperly and the settling of the house, they were warped and leaking in cold air. So, we had a custom sliding door made and installed and it is beautiful! I'm still getting used to it - it is extremely wide and lets in a lot of light, but no cold air! 

 Before: French Doors

After: Sliding Door

Back in July I painted our bedroom Sherwin Williams Origami White. I just love this color and how much brighter our room looks now! Decor is still a work in progress but I did update my 'gallery wall' above the bed to a more modern look that turned out so nice!

 Master Bedroom Before we moved in

Painted this room in 2 days

 SW Origami White!

 New duvet/pillow and old gallery wall

 Modern Gallery Wall: frames

 Love this!

I painted my kids' grey/beige bathroom a nice white. It's amazing how much better a room can look with a new coat of paint! 

 Before: Grey/Beige


 First coat of paint


Elephant print from Homegoods

On the main floor we have a 'bonus room' that was set up as an office for the previous owners. We have used it as a storage room for extra boxes and I decided to clean it out and paint it so that it could be a functional computer/reading room, and one day another guest room. I painted the room Sherwin Williams On the Rocks gray. Here are the results!

 Unfinished Crown Moulding

 Using spackle to cover nail heads in crown moulding and then I caulked the top and bottom of the moulding to seal it

 Before Painting

 First Coat of Paint

 First Coat of Paint

 Second Coat of Paint - next to paint crown moulding 

 Finished room! Bookcase and desk with computer

 Painted crown moulding white and installed curtains

Bought shag carpet off OfferUp!


Thursday, December 14, 2017

2017 Book Review

Every year I set a New Year's Goal to read one book a month. I think this is a doable goal for a busy mom! However, since having kids, I read more than 12 books this year! Hallelujah!!! I joined a Book Club when we were still in Philadelphia and I really enjoyed the books we chose and loved our get togethers to socialize and discuss the books. I even re-read a book in preparation for my husband's and my trip to Paris, France this past April. Also, not listed, but I have read Harry Potter Books 1-4 to my oldest son aloud and we are currently on the 5th year - The Order of the Phoenix. I love reading to my boys and as a result my son is in the top reading group in his class and my little guy is spelling words! I LOVE to read. It's no surprise I was a huge nerd growing up - I mean I was even in the Chess Club when I was in Elementary School! Below are the books I read the year with a few sentences about how I felt about them.

I hope to share another list of books at the end of NEXT year! Happy New Year!

1. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. Really enjoyed this read, it was suspenseful and exciting but also a little over exaggerated for Kindergarten drama in my opinion! I also had the opportunity to watch the HBO mini-series starring Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman, and really loved the show! It was based in CA... and the book was based in Australia. So, quite a few differences, but if you enjoyed the show or the book, I recommend trying out the show or book you did not try out!

2. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. I re-read this book since it had been at least ten years since I read it last. My husband and I went to Paris in April and I wanted to see and experience The Da Vinci Code in person! We saw the Mona Lisa at the Louvre, saw the Compass Rose Line at Sainte-Chapelle, saw the Pyramid Inversee at the Louvre, among other places that were referenced in the book. I just love a good suspense that is full of factual knowledge - Dan Brown wrote an amazing book!

3. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay by J.K. Rowling. This is an original screenplay about the fantastic beasts of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter world. One man sets out to find these beasts and protect them, although runs in to quite a bit of trouble with the Ministry of Magic! This was a quick and fun read and I really enjoyed the movie as well.

4. Tulip Fever by Deborah Moggach. LOVED this book! Such a fun read in a different time period that we read for Book Club. There is suspense, there is history about an actual real thing called "Tulip Fever," there is love and deceit, and without giving anything away - the ending of this book SHOCKED me!!! I recommend this book, it was worth the twist at the end!

5. The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware.  This book was well done suspense-wise, but I caught onto what was going on early in the book so it was not as exciting as it could have been for me. I read it pretty quickly on a plane ride.

6. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. LOVED THIS BOOK! READ IT!!! This was my favorite book this year to read. Some schools recommend it as reading in colleges and it came highly recommended to me. It is a beautifully told story about an Indian couple coming to America and how their culture and lives are changed. Their story follows their children and how their lives are viewed as they grow up in America, as Americans. It is a story of acceptance and love and loss. I have recommended this book to friends and am actually gifting it to my sister for Christmas this year. 

7. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie. My Book Club read this one together and watched the original movie. A "whodunit" murder mystery at its finest, set on a stranded train in a snowstorm with numerous passengers who all become suspects.

8. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. This is a classic story that was recently made into a HULU miniseries. I have not watched the show, but I did like this book. It was a tad confusing for me and literally left me hanging at the end. I do hope the world never becomes like it is in this book- where the government controls everything everyone does in extreme ways.

9. All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda. This book was written in reverse order to unravel what happened in this story. Super exciting read - I think I read it in two days!

10. Snowblind by Ragnar Jonasson. This book was super fascinating because it takes place in a very small village and has a lot of characters that become suspicious. Good read and I wouldn't be surprised if it becomes a series!

11. The Chemist by Stephanie Meyer. OK - READ THIS BOOK! I know the author's name may look familiar to you, she wrote the Twilight Series. However, this is not a Twilight book! This is a surprising CIA spy book with so many twists and turns I could not put it down. I actually want to re-read it in the New Year.

12. Into the Water by Paula Hawkins. This book totally sucked me in and creeped me out. There are so many characters in a small town that are covering up a murder... and an affair! However, it leaves a young girl mother-less, so it is essential the truth is revealed about her mother's death. Justice is served.

13. The Sinner by Petra Hammesfahr. I am a big Jessica Biel fan and saw that she would be starring in a TV miniseries called "The Sinner." So, naturally, I just had to read the book. It was pretty disturbing and different than the miniseries, but well written. I had no idea who had taken Cora in and messed her up so she would not remember the night in question accurately. It really does show you how parents will do anything to protect their children, and how the past comes to haunt.

14. Truly Madly Guilty by Loraine Moriarty. I checked this book out at the library and really thought I'd like it as much as "Big Little Lies," but it was just an ok read for me. The story was pretty drawn out and it dealt with some strange topics, such as hoarding.

15. Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult. This, by far, was the hardest book for me to read. It follows an African American labor and delivery nurse who is told not to touch a white supremacists newborn son. She is left alone to watch the baby and notices that he stops breathing and has no choice but to try and save his life. She is fired from her job and accused of killing this baby, who dies under her watch. The book tells the story from the nurses's perspective, lawyer's perspective and the white supremacists couple's perspective. The way racist people think and act was really hard for me to read. The book ends beautifully and you really reflect on yourself as a human.

16. The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena. Now if you are driving across the country and want to listen to a book on tape, this is your book. It is equally frustrating, suspenseful, and goes around and around before giving you the ending! I'm glad I was forced to listen to this story, because I think the written version would have not been finished by me.

17. Wonder by R.J. Palacio. If there is one book that has been recommended to me to read, it is this book. I loved it. Beautifully told in a mere 100 pages, it will touch you and make you cry. I only hope I can instill acceptance of all those who are different in my children so that they treat everyone as equals. I look forward to reading this story with my son and watching the movie with him. Bullying is terrible, and I do not want my kids to be either the bully or to be bullied.


Cookie Exchange Party

This past weekend I hosted a Holiday Cookie Exchange Party and we all had a blast! Every lady made 3 dozen cookies that we all voted on - Most Creative, Best Tasting, Most Festive, and Best All-Around cookie! We enjoyed Cranberry Apple Cider Sangria, cheese and crackers, and of course, COOKIES! Below are some recipes and pictures of the party! 

 Cookie Exchange Voting Ballot I found on Etsy

 Hot Cocoa Bar: Starbucks hot cocoa powder with milk in CrockPot to keep warm, marshmallow, Pirouettes, peppermints, and a shot of your choice: Bailey's or Peppermint Schnapps

Cranberry Apple Cider Sangria: 1 bottle of red wine, 2 green apples cubed, 1 cup fresh cranberries, 1/2 cup Triple Sec, 1/2 cup simple syrup, 3 cups Apple Cider, 1 cup Cranberry juice, top with Sparkling Water when served!

 My Candy Cane Cookies, recipe here

 Christmas "Tree" cheese platter

 The Ladies

My friend's "Most Festive" Cookie - Reindeer macarons with a chocolate peanut butter buttercream filling