October Thoughts

October Thoughts

October is my very favorite month of the year with November and December coming in a close second thanks to the festive holiday season.  When I was planning my wedding, actually even before the ring was placed on my left hand, I just knew I wanted a fall ceremony and celebration.  There is nothing like the crisp fall air and beautifully colored trees for creating the perfect setting for saying “I do.”  To say our wedding day, October 8th, 2011 was the prettiest fall day I could ever hope for would be an understatement!

Wedding Day - Oct. 8, 2011

Wedding Day - Oct. 8, 2011Along with my anniversary, there are so many other things I love about October too.  As you can probably imagine, my list is pretty typical consisting of football games, pumpkin spice lattes, apple picking, chili making, sweater and boot wearing, pumpkin-flavored everything, and spending as much time in the outdoors as I can before the cold and snowy winter arrives.

Apple Picking in the Fall

Chili

Pumpkin Spice Latte

Boston, MA in the fallThis October I am looking forward to doing all the above, along with attending two weddings, one of which is this weekend, spending plenty of time with friends and family, visiting Tim’s alma mater for its homecoming, getting outside as much as possible, and simply enjoying the beautiful days that this month will surely bring.

Tebow on a Walk in the Fall

I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers

Happy October 1st!!

Conversation Time.

  • What are you looking forward to doing most this October?
  • What are your favorite things to do in the fall?

 

Cupcakes + Wine

Cupcakes + Wine

This past weekend was filled with mother/daughter activities as my mom came to stay with me Friday night.  We took plenty of walks with Tebow, made pumpkin spice and hazelnut lattes using my coffee bar, watched movies, spent time catching up, and of course, ate plenty of delicious food.

Dorothy Lane MarketWe kicked off the weekend right with dinner from Dorothy Lane Market Friday after work.  We ate outside as we did most of the weekend and took advantage of my patio furniture while we still can.  It would be fine with me if winter waits as long as possible before appearing this year.

Dorothy Lane MarketWe love ordering ‘tasting plates’ when eating out, so we decided to get a variety of foods to try, including turkey noodle soup, pretzel buns, chicken pecan salad, broccoli salad, and an Italian chicken salad with sundried tomatoes and mushrooms.

Everything was delicious, but I think my favorite was the chicken pecan salad on the pretzel bun.  I am not a huge chicken salad fan, but DLM’s is the best!  We also had a glass of Riesling with dinner, and then a cup of coffee with our dessert: a Carrot Cake Babycake.  The cake was good, but not the best carrot cake I’ve had either.  The icing however was amazing and I think I could have done without the cake and only ate the frosting!

Dorothy Lane Market Carrot Cake BabyCakeFriday night we watched a movie and woke up bright and early Saturday to take Tebow on a walk.  The weather was absolutely gorgeous, talk about a perfect fall day!  When we made it back home, I whipped us up a batch of waffles using a Trader Joe’s multigrain mix, along with a hazelnut latte for my mom and a pumpkin spice for me.

Trader Joe's Multigrain WafflesThis was my first time using a boxed waffle mix in a long time, I usually make mine from scratch, but the TJ’s brand was a tasty alternative.  Plus, I had a couple leftovers from the batch so I froze them and already had one this week for breakfast after popping it into the toaster.

Trader Joe's Multigrain WafflesLater in the afternoon we did a little shopping, but not a lot since we are actually going with family this weekend. Around 4 we were starting to get hungry, and for some reason Mexican was all I wanted so we found a local Mexican restaurant and ate outside in the sunshine.  My mom had two tacos and I went with the chicken taco salad with guacamole on the side.

Trader Joe's Multigrain WafflesOther notable meals from the weekend include my first bowl of pumpkin oats, cooked on the stove and topped with walnuts, a grilled chicken, apple and cheddar salad with balsamic for lunch, and leftover salads with a little leftover spaghetti squash to wrap up the weekend Sunday night.

Grilled Chicken Salad with Cheddar and Apples

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal with Walnuts

SaladsThank you to Jenn for hosting WIAW!  Stop by her blog, Peas and Crayons, for more foodie fun!

Conversation Time.

  • When you’re having a girls dinner, what are your favorite eats to serve?
  • Do you have a favorite waffle recipe?  If you like to use baking mix from a box, what is your favorite brand?
  • What is your favorite meal to order at a Mexican restaurant?
Hiking by the Creek

Hiking by the Creek

The older I get, the more I am realizing how precious time truly is.  Even the littlest things, like hiking on a Saturday morning with my husband and sweet pup, can make even the most simple September days feel incredibly special.

Hiking by the CreekIt’s no secret that blogging has taken a back seat lately while I’ve been soaking in each moment with my little family.  I have said it 100 times before, but unfortunately there is just not enough time in the day to do everything I would love to do!  Right now, blogging once or twice a week seems to be working out pretty well for me so that is my current schedule, at least for the time being.

I used to worry about whether I would still have readers, or how low my pageview numbers would dip if I cut back on my regularly scheduled blogging.  However, as small of a feat as this may seem, cutting back has reminded me to take care of myself and to do what makes me happy.  As a people pleaser, it can be a really tough and a really big decision.  So far though I am finding freedom in what may seem like a step back on the blog, but has actually been a step forward in life for me.

Hiking by the CreekYou see, I like to read novels and I like to go on long walks.  I like to organize my house, do craft projects, blog and write, cook dinner and spend time with friends, but sometimes I have to pick just a few things to accomplish per day.  So today I am blogging and I may go on a walk and will cook dinner later, but tomorrow I might organize my closet, read a chapter in a novel and find time to exercise at the gym.  It’s okay to do everything we want to do, but it’s so important to remember we just can’t do it all at once!

Hiking by the Creek

Hiking by the Creek

Hiking is one of those activities we don’t get to do very often, but when we do I am reminded how blessed and thankful I am for the life I’ve been given.  Sure, it can be tough sometimes and I have my hard days just like anyone else, but having the freedom to explore and live each day with joy and with the love of my family really are such amazing gifts.

Saturday morning, Tim and I took Tebow to one of our favorite hiking spots.  The leaves haven't yet started to change colors, but a crisp autumn breeze sure was in the air.  We don't get to go hiking as much as we like, but we try and go every fall as the season begins to change.

Hiking by the Creek

So although I may not get to do everything I would like to do every day, the things I am able to do can be done with a peaceful, thankful and grateful heart.

Conversation Time.

  • What is something you have had to give up in your life to make room for something else you wanted to do, or that felt more important?
  • Tell me, what is an activity that you wish you had more time to do?  Whether it is reading, hiking, cooking or scrapbooking, what do you love to do when you get free time?
  • What is something that you are thankful for today?

 

DIY Coffee Bar at Home

DIY Coffee Bar at Home

**I will be on Living Dayton today at noon in a segment showcasing my own DIY Coffee Bar at Home!

One of my favorite Pinterest trends I’ve been keeping an eye on lately is that of the DIY coffee bar at home.  You see, I love coffee shops so much.

DIY Coffee Bar at Home - Happy Wife Healthy Life

My adoration is not only directed toward the delicious caffeinated drinks they serve, but also for the experience that comes along with stepping through those welcoming front doors and being hit directly with the smell of ground espresso beans, fresh brewed coffee and straight-from-of-the-oven muffins.

The sights, the sounds and the taste of the coffee and baked goods keep customers (and me!) coming back for more.  Coffee shops are one of my favorite places to sit and relax, catch up with friends and family, have weekend coffee dates with my husband, study for school, and of course write and blog.

DIY Coffee Bar at Home - Happy Wife Healthy Life

I have wanted to create my own coffee bar at home for a while now and have finally gotten around to putting one together!  My mom gave me a dresser back in the fall that was built by my great grandpa.  It was actually the dresser my grandma used as a little girl in her bedroom, and I absolutely love it and thought would be the perfect base for my coffee bar.  It is rustic and full of character so all we did was clean it up a bit and left it alone.  Absolutely no painting to be done on this beauty!  I wanted to keep it exactly how it is.

DIY Coffee Bar at Home - Happy Wife Healthy Life

Once I had my coffee bar base, it was time to start decorating the space.

Here is my list of coffee bar must haves:

The Basics:

  • Coffee Maker – A Bunn is my personal favorite coffee maker brand for a quick brew, but the Keurig is best for individual cups o’ joe in my opinion.
  • Espresso Machine – This is obviously much more of a suggestion than a necessity, but if you’re a latte lover like me than an espresso machine is a must have.  I have this one from Cuisinart.

DIY Coffee Bar at Home - Happy Wife Healthy Life

  • Mugs – I have these beautiful hobnail style latte mugs from Target, but these ones from Pottery Barn are gorgeous as well!
  • Milk Frother – I have a hand held frother that I got at Williams-Sonoma in the clearance section years ago.  It was only about $12 and well worth the price in my opinion.  Also, some espresso machines have a built-in milk frother so that will work great too!
  • Sugar Dish – Fill with granulated sugar, sugar cubes or sweeteners like Stevia so everyone’s preferences can be accommodated.
  • Creamer Dish – To set out when guests are over and the coffee is ready to be poured!  If you want creamer out on the bar all the time, use individual creamer packs or have powdered creamer available.

DIY Coffee Bar at Home - Happy Wife Healthy Life

  • Jar for Ground or Whole Coffee Beans – I have a coffee bean grinder so I will just store beans, but if you don’t have a grinder feel free to fill up your jars with ground coffee.  I plan on keeping a few jars out with different flavored ground beans though, including an espresso blend and a Pecan Pie flavored coffee I picked up at Target.
  • Coffee Bean Grinder – Please see above.  Feel free to buy pre-ground coffee if you don’t have a grinder, but I really do think grinding fresh right before brewing makes a difference!  I have this one from Cuisinart that we received as a wedding gift.
  • Tea – Because not everyone is a coffee lover!

The Extras:

  • Flavored Syrups – For making coffee and lattes with a bit of flare.  I have a vanilla, hazelnut and pumpkin spice currently ready to be used.

DIY Coffee Bar at Home - Happy Wife Healthy Life

 

  • Honey – A good choice for those who prefer a more natural sweetener.  Great for teas too!
  • Cinnamon Shaker – Because who doesn’t love a Cinnamon Dolce Latte??  (Hint – add a little caramel flavored syrup and sprinkling of cinnamon to make the at-home latte of your dreams!)
  • Cocoa Powder Shaker – I am a chocolate and mocha lover so cocoa powder is a must for stirring into coffee or shaking on top of lattes.
  • Hot Chocolate Mix – Kids love a good coffee bar too, so make sure to include an item they will love as well.  And let’s face it, I love hot chocolate just as much as the kids during those cold winter months.  Currently I have dark chocolate and sea salt caramel on my bar!
  • Mini Marshmallows – For kids and adults alike who want to give their hot chocolates and mochas an extra special touch.
  • Mini Dark Chocolate Chips – Because there can never be enough chocolate…
  • Individually package Biscotti and Cookies – Sometimes all we need for a mid-afternoon snack is a hot drink and something sweet.
  • Stirrers – These can be as basic or as festive as you would like!
  • Coffee or Bakery-Scented Candle – This way even when you’re not brewing you still have that coffee house smell!

Other items to include, (Which I plan to store in the drawers of my coffee bar):

  • Napkins
  • Spoons
  • Saucers
  • Small Plates

Other items to include, (Which can be stored in the refrigerator until ready for use):

  • Half and Half
  • Skim Milk
  • Almond Milk
  • Whip Cream

Feel free to include your preferences and mix-and-match the suggestions as needed.  This is your coffee bar so fill it with your must have favorites!

Conversation Time.

  • Are you a fan of the at-home coffee bar idea?  Have you already built your own in your home?
  • What would be the must-have additions to your at-home coffee bar?
  • What is your favorite coffee shop to visit?
Labor Day Weekend in Chicago

Labor Day Weekend in Chicago

It’s hard to believe that today is already September 3rd!  I am not quite sure where August went, but fall is my favorite time of the year so you won’t hear any complaints from me.  I am really looking forward to what’s to come in the next few months including the return of sweater and boot weather, football Saturdays and Sundays, pumpkin spice lattes and pumpkin goodies galore, apple and pumpkin picking, and especially my three year wedding anniversary in October.  I just love this time of the year!

Although fall doesn’t officially begin for a few more weeks, Labor Day weekend always marks the end of summer in my mind.  This past holiday weekend, Tim and I went to Chicago for a wedding and enjoyed soaking in the last few days of summer with friends celebrating in the windy city.  We left for Chicago Friday evening after work and stayed just outside Indianapolis Friday night before driving the rest of the way Saturday morning.

Labor Day Weekend in Chicago

Friday marked ten years since our first date together, it’s crazy how fast time flies, so we went out to dinner at a restaurant called Late Harvest Kitchen.  The menu reflects seasonal American cuisine and we ate outside in the courtyard, which features “the most romantic outdoor dining space in Indianapolis.”  I ordered off the small plates menu and chose the General Tso’s Pork Belly with Stir-fried Vegetables.  Think thick salty bacon over a bed of veggies with a light sauce full of Asian flavors.

General Tso’s Pork Belly with Stir-fried Vegetables - Late Harvest Kitchen Indianapolis, IN

The dish was good, but the Truffled Hand-Cut Fries we got to share was amazing!  It was hard to stop eating them as they were perfectly crunchy and the truffle sauce on top was the perfect accompaniment to the fries.  The real show stopper of the evening was the Sticky Toffee Pudding.  Oh my goodness, this was seriously the best dessert Tim and I have ever had.  I am guessing there was about a stick of butter melted on top, but it was definitely worth every delicious bite.  It was served hot with fresh whipped cream, which literally took the dish over the top.  If you are ever in Indianapolis or just stopping by, make sure you stop and try the Sticky Toffee Pudding.  I promise it’s worth the trip!

Since I enjoyed plenty of truffle fries and buttery toffee Friday night, I decided to get a workout in at the hotel gym Saturday morning to work off my food-indulgence hangover and gain back a little bit of energy.  There is just something about hotel gyms that really motivates me to exercise.

Hotel Gym - Marriott Indianapolis, IN

I think it is the fresh environment that provides a nice change of pace to my traditional gym views.  I ran on the treadmill for 25 minutes and then did a little weights workout before heading upstairs to shower and pack for the three hour trip to Chicago.  Tim even surprised me with a green smoothie from Whole Foods when I was finished.  I was definitely thankful for a few greens after the night before!

Saturday we made it to Chicago in time to watch our Buckeyes pull out a win over Navy, thank goodness!  We had a little time to spare before the wedding so Tim watched more football with friends while I did a little window shopping on Michigan Avenue.  The wedding was in Lincoln Park at 6, so we took a taxi to the church and then walked to the reception at Salvatores.  Everything was beautiful and the bride was absolutely stunning.  Such a great time!

IMG_3015

IMG_3021

IMG_3026

My dress was from Rent the Runway by the way!  You all know how much I love getting my dresses from there for events and I think this navy fit-and-flare was one of my favorites!

Rent the Runway

Since we drove all the way to Chicago, we didn’t want to be in a rush to get home so we had a leisurely breakfast full of coffee and waffles at Weber Grill.

The Weber Grill - Chicago, IL

We walked around the city for a couple hours before having lunch at Giordanos.  We really weren’t that hungry at this point, but it’s too hard to pass up deep dish whenever we visit Chicago!  We headed toward home after lunch and spent all day Monday playing catch-up, which included yard work, vacuuming, loads of laundry and the grocery.  Last weekend we were in Cleveland from Thursday night until Sunday for a wedding, and it sure is hard to be gone a couple weekends in a row.  The to-do list piles up quickly!

We ended our Labor Day weekend with turkey burgers and corn-on-the-cob from the grill.

Turkey Burgers on Whole Wheat Bun with Corn-on-the-Cob

The rest of our evening pretty much looked like this…

Tebow and Fluff and Tuff Toys

I think Tebow had the right idea!

A big thanks to Jenn for hosting WIAW!  For more foodie fun, check out her blog, Peas and Crayons!

Conversation Time.

  • What did you do for Labor Day weekend?
  • What is the best dessert you’ve ever had?  Have you ever had Sticky Toffee Pudding?
  • Have you ever been to Chicago?  What are your favorite things to do while there?  Favorite places to eat?