Monday, December 31, 2012


The past couple of years have been nothing short of excitement for our household. I was really struck with the 'difference a year can make' this summer on June 29th.

June 29th, 2011 (Roadtrip begins!)

June, 29th 2012 (Home-ownership begins!)

A big woah moment. Who does that? We sold off or stored all of our belongings for a road trip that went a little haywire and one year later we got the keys to our first home. Just plain crazy. But I love it and I love our life.

On another note...since I didn't do so well this year on my shopping challenge, I have decided to not take on anything too strict for myself in 2013. My goal this year is to slow it down and enjoy each day. Some of you already know that I left my full time job earlier this month. Cody & I want to adjust to less income as a little trial before starting our own family. I am excited and really nervous to have all this spare time ahead of me. But I am so extremely grateful to have this oppurtunity to explore activities my desk job couldn't offer me. I have some pretty big dreams!

$20/Month Shopping Challenge Breakdowns

Friday, December 28, 2012

Cooking with Persimmons

Our persimmon tree is ripening! I was able to pick enough of them to make jam for this years 'jar gifts'. And since I was in the kitchen watching the jam boil, I also made persimmon bread to pass the time. I used a basic banana bread recipe and replaced persimmon pulp for the usual banana mush.

This was my first time making jam, but I combined a few recipes anyways. The recipes I found called for combining all ingredients at once and allowing it to boil for thirty minutes. The basic sugar to persimmon pulp ratio was pretty regular (3 cups of sugar for 5 cups of persimmon pulp), but there was variety in flavoring options: lemon juice or zest, orange juice or zest or a sprinkling of nutmeg. I decided to go with orange juice + lemon zest  because I had orange juice in the fridge (the oranges on our tree aren't orange yet) and lemon zest from one off our tree. I also cut the sugar in half, but letmetellya the jam is still super sweet!

For the first batch of bread, I combined banana and persimmon mushes. Those loaves turned out super dense from so much fruit.

I still have lots of paper lunch sacks from last years gift wrap, so those were used to package the bread. And I purchased an old dictionary from the thrift store for $1 and pulled out pages for accents. I only wish I knew how to write in calligraphy to pretty up my labels! The jars I used were ones I saved from various pasta and brushchetta sauces (labels removed with vinegar soak), and the 4x6 sticky labels fit the height just right.

Jar gifts have become one of my favorite part of the holidays and creating something from our own backyard made it all the more personal and exciting this year. There's still a good amount of persimmons on the tree needing to get mushy so I have a few more recipes with persimmons to try when those are ready!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Recap

I'm a little sad to see that Christmas is over but we had a very succesful Christmas season in our home. I shortened my to-do list and accomplished the list of things I couldn't ignore. We didn't go gangbusters with the homemade gifts this year, and I thought I would feel disappointed--but I don't! We still chose gifts that we felt were fitting for each family member and from their reactions, I think we chose right. Several gifts came from Etsy too, so technically there were some handmade elements involved, just not by our hands.

Decorate the house inside & out 
Jar Gifts (post coming soon!)
Spend time with family
Celebrate my brother Joey's birthday (without Christmas distractions!!)
Send out Christmas cards
Go to a Christmas program (either visit our old church or a new local one, both?) and remember the reason for this season

And now we're just a few days away from 2013! With all that has happened this year, I am equally excited & anxious for what 2013 has in store!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!!

I hope you all have wonderful Christmas celebrations with your loved ones. Off to let my inner mexicana out for a carnitas filled Christmas Eve (including cowboy caviar!). Then it's Santa Cruz for a traditional Christmas Day dinner. Best of both worlds and lots of loved ones to hug.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Chic Shop: Workbench

We are making progress on my 'Chic Shop' (aka woman cave, craft room). Cody built this 'L' shaped workbench a few weeks ago and I just finally primed it last night. I was alone for the evening so the pups hung out with me in the garage. Naturally, they felt it was appropriate they were included in the progress picture. Such attitude!

Now to finalize the paint color. I'm leaning towards green/light turquoise territory...

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Finishing Touches

Added a whole 'nother layer to our Christmas decor last week. I figure I might as well slather it on while I can! I re-discovered these pinecone ball ornaments from last year and replaced them onto the drapery knobs. They're much more substantial than the single pinecone I had there originally and they look so much better! I also added them to the tiered plate stand ontop of the china cabinet. They just stand out so much more. Love it. And they're glittery, who doesn't love that?

Last week I found a bag of glittery gold star garland pieces for only $2. So if you have to ask, yes that came home with me. I added that atop the drapes for more glitter detail. One of the strars fell off, and I couldn't bear to throw the little guy away so he joined the mix & matching on the cube wall. And since it's seriously bugging me, yes I shrunk my drapes. I have flood pants for window coverings now. I will need to fix that next year (buy new ones or add fabric for a color block effect? Haven't decided).


I still have to finish my jar gifts, but my Christmas Bucket list is dwindling down. It's an accomplishment and little sad at the same time that this season ran by so quickly! Adding to that, the persimmons are finally ripe! Picked one bucket full so far. Now what to do with all of those?!!

Cut down & decorate a Christmas tree
Decorate the house inside & out 
Jar Gifts
Spend time with family
Celebrate my brother Joey's birthday--Today's to do!!
Send out Christmas cards
Go to a Christmas program (either visit our old church or a new local one, both?) and remember the reason for this season!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Favorite Things Party

Another pin accomplished! Gathered up some friends over the weekend and we exchanged gifts of our favorite things (under $5!). We added guessing who brought what to the game with coordinated brown lunch sack gift wrap. I chose InstaDri nail polish ($3.59 at Target!) as my favorite item to share. It was very entertaining to see what everyone else came up with to stay under the $5 mark.  Gifts were brought packed in brown paper lunch sacks so we could guess who brought what.

We all went home with: Aussie deep conditioner, Big Kahuna wine, Ghiradelli Sea Salt chocolates, nail polish, a head scratcher, daffodil bulbs, colorful socks, a mix CD & fruity lip balm.

The party gave me reason to put some of my thrift finds to good use & playing around with floral arrangments too. Katy put the carnation clusters together, and we sprinkled those all around the house.

DIY'd vase, deer ornaments & drink stirrers (Dollar Store)
Tea trays (thrifted for $0.50 each & completed a set from Cody's grandma)
Mason jars (inherited from my grandma)
Other vases (wedding gifts)

And the lovely ladies who brunch!

Definitey looking forward to testing out all the goodies! Might have to make this shindig a yearly gig!