#AndThenWeBoughtAHouse, an Update

Dear readers, it’s about to get all #AndThenWeBoughtAHouse up in here.  Can you just hang on for a couple of days, and then we’ll move on?  Bear with me?

la moneda

First off, the #AndThenWeBoughtAHouse house now has a name.  La Moneda, which is a play on the Chilean “White House,” except it isn’t really called “The White House,” but is actually white.  Like every single thing I’m picking out for the inside of our house.  The whole naming process involves a long story, but the point of it is the name is cute, he liked it, and the rule of this house is if my husband actually has an opinion about something, we roll with it.  La Moneda it is.

As it has a Chilean name, it will also have a Chilean doormat to greet you when you visit.

Hola Doormat

You can get one too, if you like.

ps, this is what’s gracing our back door.

the back.

Things are going along swimmingly, in that it’s framed, and 10 weeks ago it wasn’t.  And though the inside still appears to be nothing but a bunch of wood beams, we’re making the kind of decisions that mean it won’t always be.

After a couple of iterations, the kitchen inspiration is now a hybrid of this:

and this:
It turns out I care deeply about any number of things I didn’t realize I would, like what kind of handles my appliances have, and just how much I’m willing to pay for a range (spoiler alert: not the $4000 price differential for one of those fancy-looking ones).  Yet to be seen is whether or not I’ll spring for the farmhouse sink.  I’m telling you, dear readers, the excitement never ends.  And faucets really are that expensive.
bathroom.
The master bathroom is now fully tiled, or at least, we have serious plans for it to be.  There’s no good way for me to show you that till everything is said and done, but the shower floor will have hexagon tiles because, again, my husband liked them, and he’s getting what he wants here.*  So how nice for me that I found this hexagon print on Minted, which will also hang in the bathroom.
My biggest dilemma is figuring out what colors we’ll paint the upstairs.  The entire downstairs will be white (Benjamin Moore, Simply White, to be specific), at least until we’ve lived in the house long enough that I understand the light it gets and how we use the space.  I’m pretty sure our bedroom will be Benjamin Moore’s Edgecomb Gray (famously, here), which is what we had our old bedroom, and 3/4 of my parents’ beach house painted.  But do I do it throughout the master bathroom and closet?  Change things up?  Keep everything white because it is The White House after all, and one less decision is always an easy route, and besides everything I pin is white anyway?
*Dear readers, especially those who don’t know me well, I hope you’ll forgive my being tongue-in-cheek here.  My husband is, of course, getting some of what he wants, and that’s well-deserved because the rest of this house is a whole-lotta what I want.

The List of Awesome

three-tiered birthday cake.

Year 5 is upon us dear readers, and this year, I took a different route when making the list of awesome.  There are 52 weeks in a year, and there are always 50 items on the list of awesome.  But in years past, I started thinking up the awesome-ness just a few weeks before the list went up.  And this year, I’ve been dating as I go.  A year of awesome.  Enjoy!

4/6/14 – Soaking up Vitamin D

4/13/14 – Perfect beach weather

4/22/14 – Kids who play games outside from dusk till dark

4/30/14 – The sound of rain when you have nowhere else to be

5/6/14 – Pulling off a great homemade dinner when you didn’t feel like cooking

5/11/14 – Getting your daily dose of Vitamin D first thing in the (beautiful) morning

5/19/14 – YA novels that suck you right in even though you’re inching closer to 30.

5/25/14 – Spending the entire day at home, with both the windows and doors wide open.

5/27/14 – Seeing children use manners without being prompted by adults.

5/30/14 – Crawling in bed a little earlier than you planned (this on a Friday night, dear readers).

6/13/14 – Thank you notes with real love in them.

6/19/14 – Challenging yourself to read a book a day.

6/24/14 – Sipping drinks on a back porch.

6/30/14 – Having someone cook you a meal from start to finish, and not letting you lift a finger to help at all.

7/1/14 – Reuniting with friends.

7/3/14 – Iced coffee.

7/4/14 – Holiday traditions.

7/5/14 – Friends who stay later than everyone else for one more margarita.

7/16/14 – Getting good news when you didn’t expect to (#AndThenWeBoughtAHouse).

7/26/14 – Surprise birthday wishes.

7/27/14 – Three-tier birthday cakes (pictured)

8/7/14 – Walks on the beach.

8/18/14 – Starting fresh.

9/1/14 – Spending a long weekend with favorites.

9/20/15 – 90s dance parties.

9/23/14 – Songs that give you goosebumps.

10/16/14 – Spending a beautiful day outside.

10/18/14 – Tailgates.

10/25/14 – Hugs.  Hugs are so awesome.

11/16/14 – Thanksgiving.  And Fakesgiving.

11/21/14 – Unexpected froyo stops.

11/22/14 – Buying handmade.

12/13/14 – Watching old movies

12/27/14 – Friends who send you snaps when you’re not together.

1/17/15 – Podcasts.

1/19/15 – Hearing the sound of demolition on the house you have been waiting five months to renovate.

2/14/15 – Surprise cupcakes waiting for you after a workout.

2/21/15 – Movies that act as love letters to New York.

2/22/15 – The sun coming out after a week of frigid temperatures.

2/22/15 – Feeding others a meal

2/27/14 – Getting a compliment.

2/28/15 – Acquaintances who become friends.

3/1/15 – Cheap pizza.

3/7/15 – People you’ve known forever.

3/12/15 – Cookbooks

3/19/15 – Good news

3/21/15 – Cured meat

3/25/15 – A killer playlist

3/28/15 – Getting so lost in a book that you forget you even have a cell phone.

4/2/15 – Group texts that start at 4:30 a.m. each day and don’t end till 11:00 p.m.

Cookies and Cream Cupcakes

cookies and cream cupcakes.

When I asked Ali for birthday cupcake inspiration this year, one of the flavors she mentioned was cookies and cream.  I had just made chocolate Oreo cupcakes for another coworker’s birthday, and was worried I wouldn’t have fresh inspiration.  But the internet never lets me down, and I found cookies and cream cupcakes, reminiscent of the Oreo cake I enjoyed at The Lady and Sons, which I still dream about to this day.  These got rave reviews.

cookies and cream cupcakes.

To make 24 cupcakes, you will need:

For the cupcakes:

white cake mix
3 Large Eggs
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup of water
24 Oreo cookies, twisted apart (I always use Double Stuffs)

For the frosting:

1 stick butter softened
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
5 cups powdered sugar

Preheat over to 350.  Line muffin or cupcake pan with 24 cupcake liner cups.  Place the side of the Oreo with the cream in the bottom of the muffin tin, cream side up.

Whisk cake mix, eggs, butter, and water together till smooth.  Break remaining cookie pieces into chunks and fold into the batter.  Pour batter into muffin tins, filling each about 2/3 full.

Bake according to box directions, and let cool completely.

Prepare frosting by beating butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, until completely smooth.  Slowly beat in vanilla and powdered sugar.

Frost cupcakes and enjoy.

March Reads

The 23 Best Parts Of Being A Book Lover

So happy to be back with a much more exciting reading update than last month’s post.  And what’s even better is that my dear sister-in-law just cleaned out her bookshelves and let me have first pick at what she can’t make space for anymore.  Hello all 5 Jane Austen volumes I have yet to read.

Just Read:

I’ll Drink to That, by Betty Halbreich

Because Shauna said it was good.  Thank you Shauna.  I don’t have enough good things to say about this book.  But I’ll try.  Betty is a personality, which is crystal clear from page one.  She doesn’t mince words.  She’s honest.  And she’s a damn classy lady.  I can tell.  Betty offers a glimpse into her world at the “Solutions Center” (though she despises the name) at Bergdorfs.  She is a woman who knows things, not just about effortless style and celebrities, but about life, and what makes it hard, and what makes it beautiful.  My new spirit animal, to be sure. (p.s.  After you’ve read it, watch “Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorfs” on Netflix.)

Reading:

A Disease Called Childhood, by Marilyn Wedge

Because I see a lot of ADHD in my day to day life, and the premise is intriguing.  Just how real is this disorder?  The book referred to Bringing Up Bebe in the introduction, and is already citing the French and the Finns as model examples of child rearing.  If their children don’t have ADHD, how come ours do?  I’m intrigued, but some chapters read like a textbook, so I can only get through about one or two at at a time.

Want to Read:

Dept. of Speculation, by Jenny Offill

Because Shauna recommended this one, too, and because portraits of marriages are my favorite.  I’m nosy, and I love getting an inside look at something, even if it is a fictional coupling.

February//January//December//November

(source)

B1G Cookies [buckeye brownie cookies]

Now that the Terps have switched over to the B1G (Big Ten), my husband and I find ourselves looking for new rivals.  Our storied past in the ACC left us with a lot of hate, and we don’t know where to channel it right now.  The problem is, everyone in the midwest is so darn nice.  Like my coworker who brought buckeyes* into work after a big OSU win.

brownie buckeye cookies.

We only talked about them for weeks afterward, up until I made these.  Buckeye brownie cookies.  They’re a twist on the Ohio classics, and incredibly rich.  I’m someone who loves a baked good or two or three or four, and I could only get through one of these at a time.

To make 2 dozen cookies, you will need:

  • 1 box fudge brownie mix (19.5 ounce or family size)
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • 4 oz. (1/2 block) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 4 ounces chocolate (for melting–so chips, or chopped)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, beat the brownie mix, butter, cream cheese, and egg. The dough will be a little sticky. Scoop the dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet, making about 24 cookies. Smooth the edges of each to form a round cookie.

In a separate bowl, mix the powdered sugar and the peanut butter until it is completely combined. Form the mixture into about 1 inch balls. Make sure you have one ball for each cookie. Set aside.

Bake for the cookie dough 12 minutes, keeping an eye out to make sure the cookies doesn’t over cook or undercook.

As soon as the cookies come out of the oven, press a peanut butter ball lightly into the center of each cookie. The peanut butter mixture will soften slightly, but that is OK. Let the cookies cool for 5 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Melt the 4 blocks of chocolate in a microwavable bowl for 45 seconds. Stir the chocolate and melt for additional 15 seconds or until the chocolate is completely melted. (Candiquik comes in 16 ounce packages. When you open it, there are 16 blocks. Cut off 4 of these blocks for this recipe.) Spoon about ½ a tablespoon of melted chocolate on top of each cookie so it covers the peanut butter ball. Let the chocolate set. Store in an airtight container.

*a note: The buckeye is the Ohio State mascot, and also a nut from a tree, and also a delicious chocolate peanut butter ball.  Here is my version, albeit impure.

Why Don’t We Put Flaky Sea Salt on Everything? [salted oatmeal chocolate chip cookies]

In case it’s news to anyone who reads this blog, AGOMYR and I think about food almost all the time.  We’re those kind of people.  Constantly swapping pins back and forth, in search of the perfect cookie.  I cam pretty close here.

salted oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.

To make 2 dozen salted oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, you will need:

  • 2 C oats
  • 1 C flour
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. flaky sea salt, separated
  • 3/4 C (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 6 oz. chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli discs)

Heat oven to 375° F with the rack in the upper and lower thirds. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment.

Combine the oats, flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and 1 teaspoon of the salt in a medium bowl; set aside.

Beat the butter, shortening, granulated sugar, and brown sugar with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until lightly and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture, mixing just until combined (do not overmix). Stir in the chocolate.

Drop heaping tablespoonfuls of the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt.

Bake, rotating the pans halfway through, until lightly brown around the edges, about 10 to 12 minutes. Cool slightly on the baking sheets, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

On Willpower [pumpkin spice latte cupcakes]

The (Not So) New Girl has better willpower than anyone I know.  Our workplace is often overflowing with cookies, brownies, and whatever leftover piece of grocery store sheet cake from your grandma’s birthday celebration your family didn’t want.  Once Mrs. CV(D) and I decide something is worth the calories, we go all out, and eat to our heart’s content.  But not The (Not So) New Girl.  She values restraint and moderation, and I do admire her for that.

pumpkin spice latte cupcakes.

I just don’t know how she does it.

This is all a long-winded way of saying that The (Not So) New Girl had a birthday, and it took a full 363 days of life after it happened for me to make her cupcakes.  We had to find a window in which I had time to bake and she deemed it acceptable to consume the calories.  And if that day was two days before her next birthday, then so be it.  She requested Pumpkin Spice Latte cupcakes.  I’m affectionately titling them “basic” cupcakes, to be best enjoyed while wearing yoga pants and Uggs.

To make 24, you will need:

For the cupcakes:

2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tbsp. espresso powder
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. salt
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup canola or vegetable oil
4 large eggs
½ cup coffee or espresso, for brushing

For the icing:

2¼ cups heavy cream, chilled
¼ cup confectioners’ sugar

For garnish:

Caramel sauce
cinnamon

To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350°F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, espresso powder, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt. Stir together and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, blend together the pumpkin, granulated sugar, brown sugar and oil. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. With the mixture on low speed, add the flour mixture in two additions, mixing just until incorporated.

Fill the cupcake liners about three-quarters full. Bake until the cupcakes are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 18-20 minutes. Transfer the pans to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes, then remove the cupcakes from the pans. While the cupcakes are still warm, brush them two or three times with the coffee or espresso, allowing the first coat to soak in before repeating. Let cool completely.

To make the frosting, place the heavy cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip on medium-low speed at first, gradually increasing to high speed. Blend in the confectioners’ sugar gradually. Whip until stiff peaks form, being careful not to over-beat. Use a pastry bag fitted with a decorative tip to frost the cooled cupcakes. Sprinkle with ground cinnamon and drizzle with caramel sauce. Store in an airtight container and refrigerate.