Thursday, April 26, 2012

rainbows + roses

Not to go all Mary Sunshine on you, but we live in a preeetty pastoral area.  So when I go to take pictures, I have a lot of this to choose from:
And oh my goodness.  We had no idea when we moved into this house a little over a month ago how much bloomage would be happening! 
There are about 10 rosebushes in full bloom.  And the iris is just charging out all over the yard!
I gather up long stalks of iris and thorny bunches of roses and our house is quickly adorned.
Which is good since I haven't hung one picture or piece of art in this house.  Of course along with all the pastoral scenery surrounding us, we find a lot of these:
We hear cattle lowing while we play in our yard, which stops the littles dead in their tracks.  Rowan gets wide eyes and says, "scared!"  Yep.  She may be a city girl like her mama.

{Quick message to my regulars: I'll be on a blogging hiatus until next Tuesday!  See you then!}

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Soooo.  When I came up with the idea to surprise Brian with red hair, I went along for the redhead ride.  Going for, like all the other redheads out there, something like this.
Yeah.  I ended up with something a little more along these lines.
Yep.  That's about right.
Oh well.  I'm not exactly getting Christina Hendricks comparisons, but Brian still loves it.  I'm a lucky lady.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

pansy maiden

It's an exciting day!  Pansy Maiden has new bags up!  A friend of mine, Laura, owns and operates Pansy Maiden.  Which means she designs and sews her beautiful creations!  She is a completely vegan, cruelty-free company.  And her company is up to so many new and exciting adventures, like two of her bags are being included at a Disney World Epcot Center installation on sustainable living.  So exciting! 

Go on and take a peek for yourself, but I am in a serious quandary on which bag to buy.  I would buy them all if I could.  I really would.  But for now, these are in my top 3.
{Bang Messenger in Whiskey}
{Canteen Clutch/Hip Bag in Vintage Tribal Ikat}
{Petite Hobo with Fringe in Whiskey}

So so amazing, right?  She also now has some really cute accessories, too!  Here are my favorites.
{Faux Suede Fringe Bracelet}

{Mega Pouch in Green Floral}

I'm going to have to think pretty hard on what to get today.  I'm in love with the fringe, but I also think the canteen clutch is so unique and pretty!  Go check it all out, she also still has her classic creations.  I can proudly say I own a custom Weekender, which I first used as a diaper bag, and now as a laptop carrier/weekend bag.  It is still in beautiful shape a few years later!  *AND there is a discount for all the new bags!!*

Congratulations, Laura!  Your new collections are just beautiful.

Monday, April 23, 2012


Well, that's what I've been calling Brian's birthday this year.  It has been his 40th birthday extravaganza.  Not so much because we did anything that extravagant, but just because it pretty much dragged on through a whole week.  This past weekend, my in-laws stayed with the littles and I took Brian on a little road trip to the nearest big city, St. Louis.  We had a blast!  The best part of the trip was his surprise- his oldest friend and his wife (a newer, but just as dear friend) met us there and we all got to hang out together!  But I'm getting ahead of myself. 

First, I gave Brian a few options.  Either a tour of Budweiser, a museum or two, the zoo, or going to one of the historic districts.  To my complete and *utter* shock, he chose to do the art museum and the historic district to go to all the antique stores.  I think he was basically not thinking of himself at all, and choosing what I would like the best.  Our friends, Andrew and Emily couldn't meet us until later that afternoon, so we headed out on our own.
First was the art museum.  If you've never been to St. Louis, there is a big campus called Forest Park that has museums AND a zoo.  We'll be going back with the littles, for sure!  It's a beautiful area of the city.
We strolled around a bit and raced each other up a big hill in front of the museum.  I won, of course.  Stop laughing.  In front of the museum is this massive gorgeous statue.
As I squinted up at it, I asked Brian if it was St. George.
He said, "We'll have to wait until we can read the plaque, but I'm pretty sure it would be St. Louis."  Duh.  I'm apparently not the sharpest knife in the drawer.  Brian graciously didn't laugh too much. 

We're pretty spoiled having lived near the Chicago Art Institute, but this is a very decent art museum with a respectable collection.  And the former art student in me can appreciate pretty much any art museum.
We both really enjoyed it, and then headed over to Cherokee Street, aka Antique Row.  We ate a really tasty lunch at The Mud House, which I highly recommend for the food and really super friendly people.  Plus they have a really nice patio for good weather, which we were lucky to have!  The whole street is really eclectic and fun.
We browsed through a LOT of little antique/retro shops, and Brian snagged a couple skinny ties to wear with his new suit.  There was a mix of the good, the bad, and the creepy.
After a quick pint at an Irish bar (of course) we left to (unknown to Brian) meet our friends at the hotel.  Ok, so we did have ONE extravagance to the weekend, and that would be staying at the Four Seasons.  It was bliss!  As we were checking in, Andrew and Emily snuck up behind us.  Andrew leaned in close to Brian's ear and said, "How much for the redhead?"  Brian spun around swinging!  Luckily Andrew was prepared and jumped back so the punch didn't land.  Lesson to all of you out there:  don't sneak up on anyone in the military without preparing to be punched! 

Brian was so surprised, and I patted myself on the back for getting ONE surprise into the weekend.  We got to all chat and catch up, and have a drink or two on the rooftop bar.
{another birthday Bourbon for Brian!  He was a happy camper!}
We got all fancy and caught a cab to the restaurant, Vin de Set.  What a fabulous restaurant!  It was a pick made by Emily and Andrew who had eaten there before.  And!  I SWEAR I saw Rick Steves leaving the restaurant.  I swear.  I even said, "Mr. Steves?"  And Andrew said he turned around.  I didn't see that part.  I have a really nerdy love of Rick Steves and his travel show on PBS.  Yes, I am a NERD. 
{Emily and Andrew are GORGEOUS, no?} 
Obviously we all had such a good time we couldn't properly pose for a photo.  And we stayed for hours celebrating Brian's 40 years on the planet.
And then stayed up even later at the hotel, chatting and doing handstand pushups.  Not the girls, but it seemed like a good idea to Brian and Andrew so away they went!  It did not go well for them.
Sorry they are so blurry, but they're too good not to share.  They decided to give up the handstand pushups and go back to drinking.
And that went a lot better. 

I have to say that I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Emily for arranging the whole weekend- you're a rockstar, Em!  Also special thanks to Brian for taking me to Anthropologie before we left civilization to go back home. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

what i'm loving lately: Gyo Fujikawa

For Rowan's first birthday, her godparents (hi, Jo + Chris!) sent her a beautiful book of poems illustrated by Gyo Fujikawa.  I really have a thing for children's illustrations from the 60's and 70's, but I wasn't familiar with her work.  Well, now I am!  We really pore over the book, looking at every little detail and enjoying the wonderful poems by Wordsworth, Blake, Rosetti... and lots more!  I've since googled Fujikawa, and found she was a pretty prolific illustrator and has many more books out there for us to own!  This particular gem was originally published in 1969, and this is a reprint from 2007.
Rowan loves to point out all the beautiful pictures that she loves best.
I have my favorites, too.
And I really love all the poems that are included in the book.
I can't wait to order more of her beautiful books!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

i go both ways

Well, now that you've seen that provocative title, you will be disappointed with this post that just has a couple pictures of flowers.  Sorry, I can be a stinker like that!

But I really do go both ways.  When it comes to black and white photos and color photos.  I will go to edit a picture, and have a really tough time trying to figure out which one looks better. Take this tulip plant.  Of course color looks great- it's a vibrant flower!  But I think the black and white is really beautiful, too.
Which version do you prefer? 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

courting {steak} sauce

Here's a bit of irony for you.  I'm a vegetarian, but I make a great steak sauce.  (I do eat it on potatoes- still delicious!)  Before Brian and I were married, I made him this steak sauce for his birthday.  We were engaged not long after.  So my mom calls it "courting sauce."  Yes, I know I have set back the feminist movement by entrapping my husband with cooking.  But it WORKED.  Haha!  Trapped forever because of a little sauce for his steak!  So if you're single and working on becoming engaged, here's a great little recipe for you.  If you're married and would like to keep it that way, it wouldn't hurt to throw this little number into your culinary line-up.  Gather these ingredients:

2 T olive oil
1 med carrot
2 celery stalks
1 med onion
5 med garlic cloves
2 T tomato paste
3 cups beef broth
2 cups dry red wine
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2-4 T fresh rosemary
1 1/2 t whole fresh peppercorns
serves 4-6

Start by heating your olive oil over high heat in a large sauce pan.  Roughly chop up all your vegetables. 
Saute in the olive oil.  Roughly chop your garlic cloves, and after about 5 minutes, throw them in to saute, too.
Once your vegetables start browning slightly, reduce your heat to medium and stir in your tomato paste.  Stir for about 2 minutes.
*side note* I use the tomato paste from a tube, so that I'm not opening a whole can that I won't use right away.  Have you seen these tubes of tomato paste?  So helpful!
Next you'll add your beef broth.
And your wine.  This recipe handily uses only half a bottle of wine, so it's pretty mandatory that you finish off the rest while you make this sauce.  Yes!  Mandatory!  Glass optional.
And now add your balsamic vinegar.
Also add in the rosemary (I add in A LOT).
And throw in the peppercorns.
Simmer your sauce for about an hour.  Next set up a sieve over a big heat-resistant bowl.  I highly suggest doing it in the sink.
Drain the sauce from the vegetables.
Press down on the vegetables with the back of a spoon to release all the juices.
Now I suppose you could toss your wine-soaked vegetables, but I like to pick out the peppercorns and save the vegetables to make soup for later.  You can also use leftover steak sauce in the soup- it works! 
Pour your vegetable-free sauce back into your sauce pan, and continue to simmer for an hour to an hour and a half more. 
Curse yourself for not owning a gravy ladle, and serve it up still warm!  Over steak, over potatoes, over everything on your plate.  It is delicious.  Trust me.
{Yesterday I roasted red potatoes, onions, green peppers, and brussels sprouts in the oven coated in left-over steak sauce- also deeeelicious!}

Enjoy!  And if you aren't engaged within the year, then you probably didn't make it right.  Ha!  Just keep trying, you'll either find the right sauce or the right partner eventually.