September 24, 2011

A Quick Get-A-Way

We are back from DC! Jake was in his glory, visiting Washington DC was on his bucket list. The weather was kind of gross; cloudy and rainy... So, it was difficult to get many pictures- but, I was able to get a few shots. Here are some of my favorite photos from our trip.

I am really excited about Monday's post! I am starting a new weekly series that I hope will motivate myself and inspire others in the kitchen. If you are new to cooking, or simply want to brush up on the basics, make sure to check it out!

September 22, 2011

In DC!

Just wanted to check in and let you all know that I am in DC on business for the rest of the week. Well, some work and some play. My husband came along, so we will be checking out as many museums and monuments as we have time for. Yes, I married a history major.

I will return to blogging in a few days. Hope to see you back here then!


September 21, 2011

DIY: Fall Yarn Wreath

Yarn wreathes are a simple way to add a homespun feel to any space. And lets be honest, few hobbies are more bad ass than making things out of yarn. I chose to make a fall inspired wreath for my front door, but you can hang them anywhere inside of your home.

The first time that I saw a yarn wreath was on my friend Danielle Burkleo's blog, Take Heart. She makes and sells gorgeous yarn wreathes. Beyond inspiring me to roll up my sleeves and make a wreath, Danielle's blog was what gave rise to this little blog. She writes from her heart, and has the most adorable family!

Danielle and her family are adopting and she is holding a fundraiser here to help with the cost of adoption. She is doing some really awesome giveaways for those who donate. If you are able, please help her family bring their baby home.

Now, on to wreath making. I used a styrofoam wreath as a base, and made fabric rosettes to decorate my wreath.

Step 1: Gather materials; styrofoam wreath, fabric, yarn, glue gun/sticks.

Step 2: Wrap yarn once around wreath & secure with a knot. Wrap entire wreath in yarn. Secure with a knot at the end. This is the most time consuming step. If you are too fussy about making the yarn perfectly straight you will want to gauge your eyes out. Embrace a little messiness.
*Probably the reason why I didn't photograph this step - I need to take my own advice.

Step 3: Start making rosettes. Cut 24 inch long by 2 inch wide strips of fabric. Varying the lengths and widths of the strips of fabric allow for different size rosettes. Fold each strip in half lengthwise twice to hide the rough edges (pictured below).

Step 4: Roll fabric until you have a large enough center for your rosette, fasten with hot glue.

Step 5: Once the center of your rosette is fastened with glue, continue to wrap fabric around center, twist fabric a full turn and fasten with glue. This will add the look of petals. Wrap and twist the fabric until there is 1/2 inch of length remaining. Tuck the end of the fabric under the rosette and glue.
*You may have fraying, especially if you use burlap like I did. Use scissors to trim any of the strings/frayed edges.

 Step 6: Glue rosettes on to wreath. There really are no rules here - just place them where you like.

It took about 4 hours to complete my wreath and he is very happy living on our front porch. Happy crafting!

September 19, 2011

A Recipe and Rivalry

This weekend was full of all things Fall; comfort food, crisp air, bonfires and football. On Saturday morning, I made pumpkin spice pancakes for my husband. He did not have any complaints.

Below are two recipes: Martha Stewart's from scratch pancakes - and a very easy alternative that still packs a lot flavor.

                                              *I took this photo of the pumpkin spice pancake recipe that calls for Bisquick

Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

From Scratch (

whisk 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour; 2 tablespoons sugar; 2 teaspoons baking powder; 1/2 teaspoon each cinnamon, ground ginger, and salt; 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg; and a pinch of ground cloves.
stir together 1 cup milk, 6 tablespoons canned pumpkin puree, 2 tablespoons melted butter, and 1 egg;
Melt some butter in a skillet over medium heat; pour in 1/4 cup batter for each pancake.
Cook pancakes about 3 minutes per side; serve with butter and syrup.
Makes 8 to 10.

Easy Recipe Using Bisquick:

Follow directions on Bisquick box (2 cups Bisquick, 1 cup milk, 2 eggs) to create their pancake batter Add the following before mixing:
1tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
a pinch of ground cloves
(all spices can be substituted with 2 tsp of Pumpkin Pie Spice found in the spice isle at most grocery stores)
1/2 cup of pumpkin puree (I actually added a bit more than this and loved it)
on a greased skillet or griddle on low-medium heat pour out 1/4 cup of batter
let each side cook for about 3 minutes
(tip: wait for edges of pancakes to look dry before flipping)
Top with a sprinkle of cinnamon, sugar, butter and syrup

In a blind taste test my husband actually liked the Bisquick batch better (sorry, Martha).

On Sunday, Jake went to the Carolina Panthers vs. Green Bay Packers game. Jake's family lives in a town not too far outside of Green Bay, WI - so, he basically bleeds green. I am pretty neutral when it comes to sports, so this shouldn't be a problem. Except, my dad lives and breathes for the Minnesota Vikings (for those of you that are not big football fans, these two teams straight up hate each other).

This has made for some interesting banter and back-and-forth pranks between my dad and husband. All of which came to a head at our wedding, when I surprised Jake with a Packers groom's cake. Considering that my dad paid for the bulk of the event, I'm sure he appreciated the score board on said cake.

      Cake by: Just a Bite  Photos of Groom's cake by: Rhonda Danner Photography

Maybe it was love in the air or the array of craft beer on hand that led my dad to pose for this photo...

Yes, my husband is wearing a cheese tie. No, he did not wear it at the ceremony. Thanks for asking ;)

September 16, 2011

Autumn Chopped Salad

Fall is finally in the air here in Charlotte, NC. With the weekend on the horizon, I thought I would leave you with a fall inspired recipe that is easy to make and delicious. I found this recipe on Pinterest, and have made a pact with myself,  I am actually going to attempt to make some of the crafts and recipes that fill my pinboards. Hope you all have a fabulous weekend!

Autumn Chopped Salad

Hearts of Romaine (I chopped the leaves into smaller bite sized pieces)
Grilled Chicken chopped onto 1/2-1inch cubes
Bacon - diced
Pears- diced into 1/4 inch pieces
Dried Cranberries
Feta cheese

Dressing: I used about 70% balsalmic vinagrette wisked with 30% poppy seed dressing.


September 12, 2011

Yes, You Can: Canning Tomatoes in Ten Steps

With fall quickly approaching, it is the perfect time to capture some of summer's best flavors. Canning is somewhat labor intensive, but enjoyable and well worth the effort. I am sure we will be thanking ourselves when we have a taste of summer come January!

My mother (Sandy), sister (Brittany) and I worked together in the kitchen for about 5 hours to can about 120 large tomatoes. We had a lot of fun with many laughs and decided that we are going to start working on a family cookbook.

Our canning process would have made a great segment on a cooking show, except for the fact that all three of us have uncontrollable swearing reflexes. We are working on it now that Addie is around, but old habits die hard.

Below, we compiled a list of the 10 steps that worked for us...

Before beginning, wash hands thoroughly with hot water and soap. Much of the canning process is centered around avoiding contamination.

Step 1: Wash tomatoes (we had lots!).

Step 2: Sterilize jars, lid rings and tops in boiling water for at least 10 minutes.

Step 3: Score tomatoes by making an x shape in them with a knife.

Step 4: Put tomatoes in boiling water. Leave them in for about a minute, or until the skin starts to wrinkle.

Step 5: Dunk tomatoes in an ice water bath. This will make it easy to remove the skins. Remove the skins in the ice bath (they should slide right off).

Step 6: Chop tomatoes. Be sure to discard the core and any rotten or overly pithy parts. We chopped and added basil to one batch and garlic and onions to the other. (Note: tomatoes can be left whole, if preferred).

Step 7: Funnel tomatoes into cans. Be sure to push down any air bubbles and wipe the top of your jar with hot water before adding lids. Close lid snug but not overly tight.

Step 8: Boil the jars. Be sure that the tops are covered in at least 1 inch of water. Remove your jars after about 40 minutes and allow them to cool.

Step 9: Label jars with the date that your tomatoes were canned. They are safe to consume for a minimum of one year.

Step 10: Enjoy! (safety note: within a few hours of canning you should hear a popping or suction noise from the lids of your jars sealing. If your jar top does not look indented, then it was not sealed correctly).

Happy Canning!

To end, here's a photo of Sweet Addie Girl untying my apron :)

September 9, 2011

Becoming an Aunt

I was born into the role of daughter, sister, granddaugter, niece, cousin...  The first familial role that I consciously became was aunt.

Adelaide Elizabeth, now age 2 and-(almost)-a-half, is my sister, Brittany and brother-in-law, Mike's baby. She is such a vibrant child, with the cutest sense-of-humor.

For me, Addie's arrival represented a cross roads in my life. I was finishing my senior year of college in Chicago and a month shy of graduation when she was born. At the time, I was still confused on what I wanted to do with my life post college. I was unsure if I wanted to move to Charlotte, NC (where my family lives) or stay in Chicago, a city that I love...

Then Addie was born. And I held her. And the decision was made.

I am the youngest in my family, and had no concept of how much this little being could change everything. Having Addie as a niece has given me a glimpse into what a mother's love feels like. Watching my sister become a mother and my parents become grandparents has been such a privilege.

This past April, I took on a new role, wife. Anyone else notice that as soon as you get married, everyone and their brother asks when you are going to have a baby? I am more than just a womb, people.
In all seriousness, as much as I want to have our own children, I am soaking up this brief moment in time where it is just my husband and I. Until I take on the title, Mom- our sweet niece has allowed me to be the next best thing, Aunt B.

A few days ago, I went in to get Addie up from her nap and she greeted me with, "Hi Aunt B. Where's Uncle Jake? Where's your camera?"... Maybe a sign that I take too many photos of her. I will admit, in the beginning it was a bit excessive. I would change her into 14 different outfits and pose her with stuffed rabbits. Now I like to sit back and take my cues from her.

Here are some of my favorite photos that I have taken of Addie recently:

Being an aunt is the greatest. To top it off, our family continues to grow, Jake's brother, Zach, and his wife, Jenna, are expecting a baby at the end of this month. S(he) will be the first grandchild on the Koneman side of our family. I can't wait to meet the little one and become an aunt all over again.

September 7, 2011

DIY: Painting Stripes on Walls and a Mini Makeover

Painting stripes on walls is a low cost way to make a high impact in any space. Without the budget to do expensive built-ins or major renovations, I chose to give my closet a mini face lift.

I used two colors that were on the same card- just a few apart from one another (Sherwin Williams Halcion Green and Sherwin Williams Rainwashed).

Design your stripes: How wide do you want them to be? Do you want vertical or horizontal stripes? I found that looking through some photos on Pinterest (if you don't know what Pinterest is, get on that ish! You'll thank me later) was enough to convince me to do horizontal stripes.

Paint the base wall color: First, I painted my entire wall the lighter of the two stripe colors and allowed it to dry fully. If you are keeping the color that you currently have on the wall and simply painting one additional colored stripe on top of it, make sure that you have enough of the original wall color on hand for touch ups.

Measure your space: I measured from floor to ceiling (since my stripes are horizontal) and made sure that the stripe dimensions divided evenly into the full height of the wall. For example, if your wall is 9' tall (108") and you want 9 stripes you could do each stripe 12" wide (or tall) and not have any awkward gaps or left over space at the top or bottom of your wall.

Prep your space: Next, it is time to tape off. I marked several spots with a pencil going across the wall (think dotted line) with a level, so that I was able to apply my tape level. I used blue painters tape and payed close attention to make sure all of the edges were smoothed down to create a clean stripe with no seepage.

(Tip: for a no fail way to seal your edges, especially if you have textured walls, after you tape off your wall, paint the original base color with a roller along all tape edges and let dry before you paint the contrasting color.)

Paint contrasting stripe: I rolled this on at the same angle as the tape and not against it - this helps with seepage. Once finished painting, pull the tape off while paint is still wet.  This is the most satisfying step!

Touch ups: If you do have any seepage, don't sweat it! Just use a small brush to paint over the mistakes.

Overall, I am really happy with the finished product and get a little pep in my step each morning when I head in to get dressed.

The "Mrs. Koneman" hanger was a bridal shower gift from my sister-in-law to hang my wedding gown on our wedding day. I hung it above the closet door.

September 6, 2011

End of Summer Lovin'

I hope that you all had a lovely holiday weekend! Ours was great, even though we began on the wrong foot. Labor Day Weekend started out for us with a broken down car in a massive thunderstorm... $600 later and a not-so-happy-me resulted in the need for a little (inexpensive) retail therapy.

Some thrifting was just what the doctor ordered. So, my husband and I packed up the car and headed out to a couple of flea markets. I found some items that I have been pining after for a while now! Another aqua mason jar to add to my collection (tip: I added flameless votive candles to these so that I could keep the rustic silver tops on), some vintage kitchen tools (an egg beater and an ice cream scooper) and an old and weathered coca-cola crate. Some fabulous finds and a road trip with Jake lifted my spirits!

On Labor Day we had a family BBQ. My dad (Rick) smoked a pork shoulder for 8hrs and grilled some mouth watering ribs. We were all in meat induced comas for the remainder of the day. Beware: food porn photos to follow...

It was a great weekend filled with delish food and family. I'm ending this photo-filled post with just one more pic (because I couldn't resist), our niece (Adelaide) during our family BBQ.

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