- My new bike ~ I enjoyed my first Electra cruiser for over 16 years. Now that the girls can ride faster and longer… I needed to update my wheels. I couldn't give up the cruiser style and after riding several, decided on the Electra Townie. I got a lighter frame + 7 gears without losing my super-comfortable saddle and super-handy baskets!
- The song Stolen Dance by Milky Chance ~ With those amazing eyebrows, I can almost forgive him for the awful mustache. ;)
- Kakor Havreflarn cookies from Ikea ~ I made the happy "mistake" of picking these up last time I was in Ikea. They are incredibly light and crispy. Unfortunately, I can't eat fewer than 6 at a time!
- Our big planters that flank the back porch ~ They have more than doubled in size since I planted them in early August. Sadly, we lost a few limbs the other day in a heavy rainstorm. More sadly, I'm told that these will die with the first frost… However, I've made up my mind to set aside the sadness so that I can absolutely enjoy them for as long as they last.
- The Summit Room ~ A new restaurant that opened down the way from our house. It's more of a bar scene than a restaurant--but the food is terrific, the signature drinks are delicious, and the atmosphere is very fun. ON TOP OF THAT, they serve Rombauer Chardonnay by the glass! They even have a chalkboard at the bar that keeps track of when customers buy future drinks for their friends. I'd highly recommend the Braised Brussels Sprouts, Deviled Eggs, Farro Risotto, and Tomato Stack--pretty much, all the things I've had an opportunity to taste.
- How much the girls are enjoying their music lessons ~ I know it's just the beginning and things will likely change… but for now, Geneva loves practicing on her flute and Piper strums her guitar every day. :)
- The Italian Salad from True Crafted Pizza ~ Wow! This salad has everything I love. Sprinkle the house made pesto on top and you'll really knock it out of the park. I would love to eat this everyday. Good thing, the restaurant is 20 minutes away from my house.
- The neighborhood "Naked Runner" ~ I'm even giggling a little while I type this. There is a phenomenal athlete who regularly runs on some of the busier streets around here. Sometimes she runs in a flesh-colored tank top. It's so great. It's great because I always do a double-take and I always smile. I've mentioned this particular runner (in this particular outfit) to a couple other neighbors. It turns out, I'm not the only one who has been delightfully entertained.
- Being the "Mystery Reader" in Piper's class this week ~ The Mystery Reader gets to surprise the children. They know someone is coming--but they don't know who. I always feel like a rockstar when I go to the girls' school because (so far) they are over-the-moon to see me and almost tackle me with their enthusiasm. It was a special treat to follow that up this week with a few of my favorite stories for Piper and all of her friends. I chose Bread and Jam for Francis, Alice the Fairy, and my all-time favorite, The Seven Silly Eaters. Good times.
Thursday, September 18, 2014
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
For part of the week when the girls were having the time of their lives at sleep away camp, I finally got around to accomplishing some to-dos that had been on my list for an embarrassingly L O N G time. The biggest project I checked off the list that week was "finishing" their bedroom/bathroom. I had given their bedroom in Oregon a makeover and already had the basic color scheme and idea. We used a similar color on the walls, had all of the artwork from before (+ some great new pieces we'd picked up along the way), and their furniture (+ new beds)… but somewhere along the way I had misplaced my motivation. ;)
The beds came from Coscto (online). Unfortunately, they are no longer available. However, as of this post, a similar bed is currently for sale. The walls are painted in Benjamin Moore Antiguan Sky. The bedding came from T. J. Maxx. The lockers are from Ikea (similar).
One of the best things we've done lately is move my mother-in-law's old stereo (complete with big speakers!) into the girls' bedroom. We also rummaged through her CD collection (from her Jazzersize days) and pulled out a few jams (The Go-Go's, Culture Club, Bangles, Tone Loc, Sir Mix A Lot...) that the girls enjoy choreographing numbers to. It is highly entertaining--until they want to sing some of the lyrics to their friends.
We chose this room for the girls because it has two closets. Piper's is in the bedroom (below, door on the left) behind the entrance door. Geneva's is in the attached bathroom.
The room also features original, 80 year-old, working wall sconces (lit, above; turned out, below).
The bathroom is a good size and has lots of natural light. I'd love to change the vanity or at least pull the countertop off and replace it--but that's for another day (maybe). And while the bathroom has a shower, it typically goes unused, as the girls prefer to double up in ours.
One of the biggest hesitations in finishing the project was the gallery wall. Ninety percent of the walls in this house are plaster--including all the walls in the girls' bedroom. When you're working with plaster, you really have to be sure you know where you want something before you pound/screw your fastener to the wall. Thankfully, with some of the smaller (lighter) items, Command Strips also work. I'd done a gallery wall before that didn't turn out quite as striking as I had imagined it would. (In fact, it's all come down now to make way for the new built-ins that have taken over that space.) Learning from my first attempt, I really tried for more cohesiveness by limiting the colors and frames featured, while adding interest with different "types" of things. After I had narrowed the collection, the next step was to lay it out on the floor and play around with the arrangement.
What I love most about the wall is that half of the items are things that the girls made themselves or made with me.
1. Piper's paper-mache jellyfish from her friend's birthday party, 2. an Easter egg that Piper painted in preschool, 3. button-covered letters that I made with the girls a couple years ago, 4. melamine plate from Target (similar), 5. paint swatches I put together in a matte, 6. original artwork made for the girls by my old (but still very young) friend, Scott Morse, 7. "Frank" by Katie Crawford, 8. "Butterfly" by Geneva Jones (age 3), 9. ink drawing by Piper, 10. Geneva's jellyfish, 11. ink drawing by Geneva, 12. "Juggle Girl" on wood by Deona Fish, 13. wooden bird cage (spray painted + ribbon).
Sunday, September 14, 2014
Another Jones Family Favorite, found on Pinterest (where else?).
This light and satisfying salad is full of bright flavor. I've made it several times and everyone enjoys the dish. I always serve it with grilled chicken (on the side or diced and tossed into the mix). However, the original recipe does not call for chicken. You could always leave it out and serve this dish alongside anything from the grill. The recipe below makes about 4 adult entree-sized servings.
Asian Cabbage Salad (with Grilled Chicken*)
(slightly modified via The Lemon Bowl)
What you need (salad):
1 head napa cabbage, thinly sliced
3/4 cup green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, minced
1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
2 tablespoons black sesame seeds, toasted
What you need (dressing):
6 tablespoons rice vinegar
4 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
4 tablespoons dark sesame oil
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons ginger root, grated (If you can find the tube--use it.)
1 tablespoon sriracha - optional
What you need (grilled chicken):
2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (depending on size and level of hunger)
6 ounces (or so) Ken's Steak House Italian Dressing & Marinade (or something similar)
What to do:
- Marinade your chicken in the dressing, in the refrigerator, for at least 15 minutes. Grill until done. (*I'm very vague here regarding the grilling instructions because Mr. Jones does 99.9% of the grilling around here.) Let rest while you prepare the salad.
- Combine cabbage, green onions, mint, and cilantro in a large bowl.
- Using a dry nonstick pan, toast almonds over medium heat, stirring often until they begin to turn golden and become fragrant. Pay attention and don't let your nuts burn! Set aside to cool.
- Wipe your nonstick pan with a dry paper towel and use it to next toast the sesame seeds. Because of the dark color, it will be harder to know when these are toasted. They should take about 1-2 minutes to become fragrant. Add these to your almonds.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the dressing. Drizzle about half over the salad. Add the almonds and sesame seeds. Toss well. Depending on how "wet" you like your salad, add more dressing, if desired.
- Dice or slice your chicken and serve atop your salad. If you have left-over dressing, you could drizzle some over the chicken at this point.
Thursday, September 4, 2014
- Finally getting around to writing this long-overdue post
- When my girls spontaneously demonstrate their affection for one another
- Making progress in the girls' bedroom (done and posted here) ~ The girls went to sleep-away camp for the first time this year and I busied myself in their absence by undertaking 3 big projects that had been looming over me for FAR too long: 1) Organizing/decorating their room, 2) Finishing the wall of family photos upstairs, and 3) Planting the huge pots that have been sitting empty on the back porch (pics coming).
- Finishing the gallery wall of black and white photos in our upper landing/hallway ~ This "chore" has been on my list since we moved in 18 months ago! I knew what I wanted but I had a hard time finding just the right frames and then narrowing the photos down to just 10. Once that was done, I stalled on the actual nail-pounding because I was so intimidated by the task of lining everything up just right. (Our walls are plaster and unforgiving!) I have a few more "touches" to finish the landing before I show you the whole space.
- The HGTV show, Fixer Upper ~ Husband and wife team, Chip and Joanna, are so fun to watch. I love their banter, humor, and obvious love for one another. On top of all of that, they are quite talented! I always look forward to seeing what they create--especially because I LOVE "Jojo's" style.
- The new Facebook trend of "Gratitude Status Updates" ~ These are fantastic. I really enjoy reading about all of things that people are grateful for. They are usually simple, heartfelt, and so honest. They're like daily mini-TILTs!
- Shopping with my husband (he is really quite good at it!) ~ While the girls were with friends last weekend, we hit the new outlet mall in town for some Labor Day savin' and had much success. This Ann Taylor dress was a particularly lovely find (It is SO cozy!) and I can't wait to pair it with boots this fall. I also found this to giddy-up in once the weather turns cooler.
- Rose on a hot day (or any other day for that matter)
- The tiny porch garden we planted a few weeks ago ~ The girls and I each have a 6" x 24" planter. We visited the hardware store and carefully chose our seeds. It took no time at all to get them into the soil. My planter has 2 kinds of basil and some micro greens; G choose three types of flowers; P picked one kind of flower and a packet of "lettuces." It was so fun to watch all the shoots come up. We have already enjoyed some of my micro greens (on crackers with soft cheese). The basil is coming along nicely. Unfortunately, the squirrels climbed up our table and feasted on P's lettuces before we had a chance to harvest any. In any event, the other stuff is still going strong and it was a quick and fun project to do with the kids.
- My Pilates class ~ Not only is it GREAT to be back on the reformer regularly, I couldn't love spending time with this group of women any more. We laugh, chat, sweat, and encourage one another through the entire hour. AND our fabulous instructor always ends our time with an indulgent little shoulder massage! Talk about the cherry on top!
- Having the first two weeks of a great new school year under our belts
- Sampling Brook's famous burgers "All the Way" for the first time ~ There really is no justice in trying to describe this unique outing. Let me just say that I am already planning my return.
- Grapefruit La Croix ~ Clean, refreshing, and guilt-free. I cannot get enough of this beverage!
- Piper getting into the Harry Potter series ~ She turned a corner and picked up The Sorcerer's Stone a few weeks ago (at Greg's suggestion) and she has plowed through that and half of The Chamber of Secrets so far. Yahoo! It's a houseful of avid readers (and so quiet around here sometimes).