Nov 30, 2012

Starbucks' Cinnamon Dolce Lattes

I don't normally post on Friday nights, but...

Tomorrow is December 1st.

And it's cold.

And Christmas is coming this month!

Here's a Starbucks copycat recipe to help you get in a celebratory mood.  Enjoy your weekend and your latte!

Cinnamon Dolce Lattes (makes 2)
{click to print}

You will need:
3 cups of milk
1/4 t cinnamon
2 shots espresso (I pour 1 T instant coffee grounds in a 1/4 C measuring cup and fill the rest with hot water.)
caramel syrup
sugar, optional

Steam the milk (do not boil!) in a small saucepan.  Remove from heat.
Add the cinnamon, and whisk until frothy.

Pour the espresso into the cups, and add the milk mixture.
Add caramel syrup and sugar to your liking.
If you are feeling REALLY indulgent, add lots of whipped cream!

For a gingerbread latte, simply use gingerbread syrup in place of the caramel syrup.

Nov 29, 2012

Christmas Cheer

I know, know, I just posted a free printable yesterday, but I can't help myself.  I really love this one (and the movie it came from)!

Thanks to The Graphics Fairy for the awesome wreath frame.  She has lots of other free goodies to pick from.  Check out her site!

I printed this as a 5 x 7 and had to shrink (rather than crop) to fit.  Make sense?

{click to download}


Nov 28, 2012

Free Christmas Printable Art

Here is an early Christmas gift from me to you... free Christmas printable art!  It's made to fit a 4 x 6 frame.  Isn't it lovely?  Enjoy!

{click to download}


Nov 27, 2012

Haul Out the Holly!

Well, maybe not holly...

But if you want to make this centerpiece, you will need:

small clay pots
Spanish moss
artificial berries

This is so easy that you probably don't need instructions, but just in case...

Step 1: Anchor the candlesticks in the pots with rock or other vase filler.

Step 2: Fill the pots with Spanish moss.
Step 3: Add berries.

So pretty and so easy!

Nov 26, 2012

Tree Time

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend!  We enjoyed spending time with both of our families and eating great food.  As we were driving home on Saturday afternoon, we decided to stop by the tree farm and chop down a Christmas tree.  This is our first year to have a real tree (the artificial tree didn't fit on the moving truck), and we were so excited about picking a tree out and cutting it down.  We searched and searched for the perfect tree, but all the good ones had already been taken.


Two days after Thanksgiving, all of the trees over five feet tall had already been chopped down.


We decided to leave without a tree, and as we were walking toward the car, we noticed some trees on display that had already been cut down.  We looked them over and found the perfect tree!

I'm just going to pretend like we got one of those little red saws and chopped it down ourselves, after which we went on a sleigh ride while enjoying hot cocoa.  It sounds a lot more romantic, don't you think?

Tip: to get the starburst effect, put your camera on a tripod and set your shutter speed at the slowest it will go.  If it's too bright, gradually turn the shutter speed up to your preference.

Nov 21, 2012


I love buying interesting produce.  It's always kind of amusing when the cashier scans my artichokes and says, "What are these?"  The other day, I was in the produce aisle looking over the leeks, and an elderly lady said, "Excuse me, but could you please tell me what that is and what you do with it?"  I gladly told her what leeks taste like and how I use them.  Leeks are fairly new to our kitchen, but we really love them in soups.  My friend introduced me to this mushroom soup a while back, and I found a similar recipe and made a few tweaks.  If you like mushrooms, you'll love this soup!

Creamy Mushroom Soup {click to print}
(adapted from The Food Network)

For the broth:
24 oz. mushrooms, stems removed and caps sliced (I've used white and portobello)
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 small onion chopped
1 T butter
1 T olive oil
1 t thyme
6 C water
1 t salt
1/2 t pepper

For the soup:
8 oz (1 stick) butter
2 leeks, chopped
mushroom caps left over from the broth
1/4 C flour
1 t thyme
1 T parsley
1 C vegetable broth
1 C milk
1 C Greek yogurt
salt and pepper to taste

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and olive oil over medium heat.
Add the mushroom stems, carrot, onion, thyme, salt, and pepper, and saute until the vegetables are soft.
Add the water, and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
Strain the vegetables out, reserving the liquid.
You should now have about 4 1/2 C broth.  If not, add water.

In a large stockpot, melt the butter on medium heat.
Add the leeks, and cook just until they start to turn brown.
Add the mushroom caps, and cook for 10 minutes.
Add the flour, and cook for 1 minute.
Add the thyme, parsley, salt, pepper, and broth, and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
Turn the heat to low, and add the milk and yogurt.  Do not allow to boil.
Not only is this soup fantastic fresh, but it freezes well, too!

Nov 19, 2012

Giving Thanks

"I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving." -Psalm 69:30

"Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!" -Psalm 95:2

"Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!" -Psalm 100:4

"And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!" -Psalm 107:22

Thanksgiving is, by far, my favorite holiday.  It is such a wonderful time of reflection on the many blessings I've been given, and it's so good to hear what others are thankful for as well.  What are you thankful for?

Nov 15, 2012

Dining Room Reveal... Sort Of

I told myself I wasn't going to reveal any rooms before they were finished, but I'm not quite sure how the dining room will end up anyway.  It will probably morph into something totally different by the end of next week, but I was too excited about the paint color to keep it to myself!

Here are some before shots:

We liked the border so much that we decided to leave it.

Just kidding.

I painted the walls a very light, soft gray called Carriage Ride by True Value.  It's based off of Benjamin Moore's Revere Pewter.

I really love the subtlety of the color.  It's just dark enough that the molding stands out but not so dark that it distracts from the woodwork.

The door will probably be moved after I add some curtains, and the white dresser may end up along the wall somewhere after the piano arrives...

After we move the beige dresser to our room (after I paint it white)...

After I take down the wallpaper and paint the master bedroom...

After I make a slipcover for the new-to-us chair...

Nov 14, 2012

A Few of My Favorite Things

We moved into our new house on Friday, and we are completely in love with it!  We're still shuffling things around and getting settled in, so you'll have to wait just a little longer for a house tour.  I've spent all week painting, and I can't wait to show you all of the transformations.  For now, here are some pictures of a few of our favorite things.

old doorknobs and skeleton keys
laundry chute

dining room buffet with drawers for my dishes

After living in basement bedrooms/apartments for six years... sunlight!

beautiful built-ins

Nov 8, 2012

The Parsonage

This story begins one year and two weeks ago, when we moved to our current home (well, current for one more day!).

When we moved here just over a year ago, we decided to move into Marshall's grandparents' basement.  We thought it would be temporary, and we didn't want to sign a lease or rent from anyone.  We searched the home listings on a daily basis, but all of the homes in our town were way out of our price range.  The town we live in is on the Mississippi River, and real estate is high, even if the house doesn't have a great view.  Finally, towards the end of November, we found the "perfect" house at a really great price.  We checked it out immediately, and it seemed like a dream come true.  The house was an old Craftsman style house, and most of the original woodwork was untouched.  It had beautiful built-ins, wood floors, and a wooden front door that I loved.  There were only two bedrooms, but the attic could be turned into bedrooms if need be.

It was a long process, and we found out at the end of January that we weren't going to be moving after all.  To anywhere.

I set out to make the basement our home, painting almost all of the rooms and decorating it as if it were my own.  We finally finished the kitchen in September and had everything the way we wanted it.  I thought to myself, "Now that I finally have it done, we'll probably move soon!"

Two weeks later, Marshall candidated at the church, and we are moving to a different house tomorrow.

We knew there was a parsonage available for us before Marshall even spoke at the church.  Neither of us had seen it before, and I prepared myself for the worst.  I always do that, and nine times out of ten, I'm pleasantly surprised at what I find.  And do you know what we found?

An old, Craftsman style house with original woodwork, wood floors, built-ins, a wooden front door, and four bedrooms.  Yes, God does have a sense of humor.

It is need of an interior paint job, and it just so happens that I'm really good at painting.  We picked up 5 gallons of paint before our trip last weekend and started on the kitchen as soon as we got in.  I want to finish the kitchen before we move appliances in and have things on the counters.  Here are some pictures of our progress.

Kitchen Porch- Before
Kitchen Porch- After

Kitchen Cabinets- Before
Kitchen Cabinets- During

Wall Color- Before

Wall Color- After