Friday, October 18, 2013

My Latest Craving {a warm, fast breakfast}

It's getting to that season where you just want a pair of slippers and some warm breakfast when it's time to wake up in the morning.

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I wrote before how our breakfast meal has had a bit of a make-over. I have to admit that we began falling back into our cereal rut when school started back up. It's just so easy.

So here's my school-day, chilly weather breakfast wish list:
  • warm
  • healthy
  • quick 
Is that too much to ask?

So with some help from a girlfriend and my sister, I got some ideas for how to make our first meal of the school day speedy and toasty-warm.

Here are two breakfast ideas that can be made in under two minutes and don't involved any packaged food. The first requires 5 minutes of prep the night before, but the second is a true grab-and-go.

Personalize Sized Homemade Instant Oatmeal
-5/8 c. water
-5 Tbsp. whole oats
-1 Tbsp. chia seeds
-dash of cinnamon
-dash of salt
-2 tsp. of maple syrup (less if you don't like it very sweet)
-1 Tbsp. dried fruit (optional- we have also done fresh peaches or blueberries but dried cherries is a favorite)

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The night before, mix all ingredients in a microwave safe glass or bowl. Stick it in the fridge. In the morning, it will look something like this...

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Simply pop it in the microwave for about 90 seconds, and that's it. Easy, peasy. My kids like to pour a little milk over it at the end.

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Remember that this is a personal sized recipe. I do this six times over for our whole family (easy if you're doing it in a whole batch). The best part is that if I take 5 minutes to prep these oatmeals before I go to bed, my husband can grab his cup when he wakes up early to head off to work and have a hot breakfast in less than 2 minutes. Then my older kids can do the same when they are ready for breakfast. Bye, bye, Mr. Quaker man. You and your little sugar-filled packets can take a hike.

Now, if you didn't have a chance the night before to prep but still have a hankering for a warm morning meal in a jiffy, this next one is for you. Did you know you that a microwaved egg done right is actually delicious? It will literally take longer for me to type this recipe out than for you to make this egg.

Minute Egg
-1 egg
-1 tsp. water
-pinch of your favorite cheese

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Crack an egg into a small glass bowl or cup and whisk it up with the water. (I totally eye-ball measure the water since pulling out a measuring spoons seems like so much work. Pathetic, I know.)

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Microwave it for 30 seconds. Pull it out, stir it with a fork and put the cheese on top. Put it back in the microwave for 20 seconds or until no longer soupy. Do not overcook it!

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I was in the mood for gorgonzola on this particular morning, and my minute egg was like a little gourmet breakfast with a dirty secret.

So there you have it- a quick, healthy breakfast does not have to be an oxymoron!

Friday, October 11, 2013

This & That

What do furloughs, decks, fall decor, and Oregon all have in common? Well, they were all part of the last couple weeks of my life...

Furloughs and Decks
Lions, and tigers, and government shut-downs- oh my! We have had two unexpected weeks at home with my husband courtesy the U.S. if they were only planning to give him a paycheck. Steven is a self-proclaimed non-handyman; but he has, however, used this little break from work to undertake a pet project of freshening up our deck. He's excited to make our deck last longer; I'm excited that in the end it will have a mahogany stain. Four little people have been eager to be out next to him. And I'm kicking myself for not getting pictures of my sons' see-saw-from-old-deck-wood project.
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Fall Decor
Because who says that fall decor has to always include pumpkins?
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For the fall mantle, I went for an Anthropologie-ish rustic feel with unexpected items...
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Missing Oregon
It's been a travelicious year! Two weeks ago, I got to head out to the land of Oregon on a solo trip to go see my lifelong G-friend, Caroline. We were literally babies together and are now kindred-spirit mommas. She and her husband had adopted two little girls early this year, and I couldn't wait to get my arms around them and their big sister.
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And this, my friends, is Caroline's house. She and her husband built it from the ground up, and she designed every last detail. It was like walking into a magazine.
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1927 re-furbished still my beating heart...
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My little haven of a guest room:
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I asked her what this space was and she replied with a truly-modest flick of her hand, "Oh, that's just our catch-all."
Sweet Jesus, please don't come look at my catch-all!
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We finished off my visit by doing a mini-mommy retreat at a boutique hotel in Portland. And freed mommies, when totally alone, get a little giddy and stupid. So we started grabbing the camera and pretending we were pin-up models. Thank God no one was there to remind us that those days are long gone...
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And, while I couldn't wait to kiss my babies, I'm not going to even try to pretend that in the middle of homeschooling and meal-making I haven't whimsically wished I were still a fake pin-up model in Portland...

Friday, October 4, 2013

Wall Collages

I had such kind feedback when I shared our bedroom redo. With that came some requests to see other spots in our house and for thoughts on decorating. Disclaimer: I am by no means a trained expert on this subject. I just find putting a room together like therapy. I swear that beautifying a personal space must somehow releases endorphins.

So, let's start with wall collages. I am in love with these from the simple collection to a floor to ceiling display. They are so personal and beautiful. I'm inspired by wall art like this:
I like the mix of wood and black frames but not necessarily the overall look

And this:
This wall collage is done right with a mix of items: mirrors, sculpture, pictures...

And even the simplicity of this:
Wall collage

So I've done this in our home in a couple different ways.

In our entry you will see an old frame I found at a thrift store. In the back the frame I strung colored baker's string back and forth using nails to keep it in place. Then I simply used miniature clothes pins to clip up some of our favorite family snapshots. I love that the photos can be easily swapped out at any point:
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In our upstairs hall you can find a small hanging collage that was made out of one sheet of bead board that we had left over from a project. I attached old drawer pulls and some hanging hardware to the back. Then I had some styrene-mounted photos printed and hot glued ribbons to the back of the pictures.
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But I really wanted is to take the collage idea one step further with a true, full collage. To do this, I knew that there were a couple of things I needed to figure out first.

1. What was important to me?
I really, really wanted the collage to represent us as a family. I wanted it to be a reminder of where we came from and where we are going, items that were important to us. So I started pulling together pieces that represented that idea. I started with pictures that held meaning- photos of our moms as babies, favorite photos of our ancestors, photos of my kids, our wedding photo. I tried to mix serious pictures with goofy ones, posed with candid.
Then, since I wanted a true mixture of elements and not just photos, I moved on to other artwork- my Great Grandfather's etching, a floral drawing we bought as newlyweds, and artwork representing where my next daughter will come from.

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2. What artistic touches did I want?
I wanted to create unity in the collage through colors. This was achieved by painting all the frames two different colors and then adding touches of blue. I also love when collages have a couple unexpected additions. For my collage this came in the form of keys. I bought these keys and repainted some of them to keep with the color scheme.

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3. What shape did I want the whole collage to be?
While I'm drawn to floor to ceiling collages, I knew that in a hallway of a house with four kids, this would be crazy-talk. I chose instead to make this collection a giant rectangle at an adult's eye level with the base of it just out of reach of my then 2 year old.

4. How do I create this big of a piece of art without making a bunch of mistakes?
This could have been a straight-up disaster that my over-eager self would have walked right into. Instead, I grabbed some giant wrapping paper, and used this method:

  • I laid it out on the floor and cut it to the size I wanted the collage to be. 
  • Then I laid the frames and pieces of the collage out on the paper until I knew I had everything just as I wanted it, correctly aligned.
  • I traced the outline of each of the pieces in their perfect spot.
  • I removed the artwork and hung the paper in the hallway with painter's tape.
  • Then I began nailing and hanging the pieces where the paper dictated. 
  • At the end I carefully tore the paper out from underneath the artwork, and voila, the anticipated collage was complete.

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I hope that helps get your creative juices flowing. Have a fabulous weekend!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Our Family Portrait

In the midst of a chaotic week, Adriana left me a portrait of our family. I can't even begin to tell you how precious this is to me...

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...and the fact that, in her little mind, her next sister is as much a part of the family as any of us makes my heart sing.