Last week we were at the beach with Caleb's family. It was a wonderful time to get away, and we really enjoyed our time with the whole family together. Our house was right on the beach so we were seriously living.the.life. Wake up, lay by the pool, head down to the beach, read, eat lunch, back to the beach, a little hot tub action, dinner, relax, ice cream, bed. It was perfect. We had great weather except for one day that was really windy, so we are starting the summer with a tan and feeling relaxed. It's always hard to get back in the swing of real life after such a relaxing vacation, so we spent the weekend taking care of things around the house and trying to get ready for another week. Here are a few snippets of our week, mostly from my instagram since I was too relaxed to worry about getting good pictures. Happy Monday!
Monday, May 20, 2013
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
We're at the beach this week, and I have absolutely loved all of the time in the sun and sand with a book in my hand. So far the books I've finished here haven't been all that great, which is really disappointing, but the one I started yesterday is looking better:) The books below are ones that I finished at home recently and really enjoyed. If you're looking for new summer reading, here's a few I recommend!
The House Girl: This book was incredibly well-written, and I couldn't wait to find out what happened. The story bounces back and forth between a slave girl in the 1850s and a lawyer in present day who tries to discover whether several famous paintings were actually painted by the slave girl rather than her mistress who has gotten the credit all these years later.
One Thousand Gifts: This book has been in the spotlight a million times over, but I really did like it. The writing style is different, and I know that makes it difficult for some people to read, but I really enjoyed it. If you're unfamiliar with the premise, Ann decides to make a list of all of the gifts in her life. The book is her story of discovering joy and thankfulness in uncovering so many gifts around her that she often overlooked. I found it really challenging since I tend to look at the negative and complain instead of giving thanks.
Mary Coin: This book is a fictitious story woven around a famous photograph, written through the eyes of the photographer who took the picture, the woman in the picture, and a man who discovers a secret in the photograph many years later. Apparently I like when stories jump back and forth between perspectives and time, because I also enjoyed this book and looked forward to finding out what happened. It is again written very well and was often quite sad, which makes for a more heartfelt read.
Where'd You Go, Bernadette: This book was summer reading at its finest. It was a hilarious book, and I loved it! It's super easy to read, really light, filled with ridiculous characters, and just a really fun book. And with a cover like that you pretty much know it's going to be great:)
What good books have you read lately? I need suggestions!
Monday, May 6, 2013
My seemingly constant goal is to drink more water. I don't enjoy the taste/lack of taste of water, but I know that I need to drink more of it. The best way for me to drink more water at home is to add lemon to it. Washing a lemon and dirtying a knife to cut a lemon wedge each time I wanted a glass of water got old fast. But, I found that if I make up a couple of bottles of lemon water, I drink SO much more water. In case any of you also struggle to drink enough water, here's what I do. (I also like having this lemon water on hand for when we have company. The bottles are pretty, too.)
1. You'll need two bottles (1 liter each), a mini funnel, a lemon, and a citrus juicer.
2. Cut the lemon in half and juice just one half.
3. Pour the lemon juice into one bottle, using the funnel.
4. Add water to the bottle to fill it up.
5. Repeat with the other lemon half and other bottle. Store bottles in fridge.
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Do you use Moroccanoil treatment? I started using it over a year ago, and I LOVE it. I've really seen such a difference with my hair: it's shiny, it seems healthier, and it's less frizzy. I usually put it in my still-damp hair and then let it dry naturally, but you can also use it on dry hair to tame flyaways and frizzies. Recently I came across the Garnier Fructis Moroccan oil treatment, and I also like it. It's much cheaper, too, if you're on a budget. And even more recently, I started using Suave shampoo & conditioner with Moroccan oil in it. I love the way it smells, and it makes my hair smooth and shiny just like the Moroccanoil treatment. I like switching things up in my beauty routine, so I use these products on rotation for sleek, shiny hair:) What hair products do you swear by?
Monday, April 29, 2013
I've said this before, but I love baking on Sunday afternoons. I love just being at home, getting things done around the house and relaxing before starting another week. Baking is productive but also relaxing, and I love how warm bread or granola gives our house this delicious, inviting smell. Hands down the most frequent baked good that comes out of my oven is banana bread. I've shared quite a few banana bread recipes in this space, but I've found yet another favorite. The top of this one bakes until it's a little crispy, giving it this delicious almost caramelized sugary taste on the top and sealing in the moistness of the bread. Please eat this fresh out of the oven and let yourself forget for a few moments that Monday is here.
Julia's Best Banana Bread
1 3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2-3)
3/4 cup vegetable oil
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9x5-inch loaf pain with nonstick cooking spray. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk eggs, sugar, bananas, and oil in a large bowl until smooth. Add dry ingredients to banana mixture and stir just until combined. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top.
Bake until a tester inserted into the center of bread comes out clean, 60-70 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let bread cool in pan for 15 minutes. Run a knife around inside of pan to release bread. Turn out onto rack and let cool completely.
source: recipe from Bon Appétit, March 2013
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
I make granola all the time, but I had never tried granola bars. I was afraid they would be too hard or get burnt, but this recipe turned out perfectly. Granola bars are actually less time-consuming than granola because you don't have to take the granola out of the oven and stir it every 10 minutes, like most granola recipes. These bars ended up chewy and delicious--something I was quite surprised by. We finished them in several days and Caleb has already asked me to make them again.
Chewy Coconut Granola Bars
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup oat flour (make oat flour by putting oats in a spice grinder, food processor, or blender)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp ground flaxseed meal
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
1 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp honey
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 Tbsp fresh orange juice
Place a rack in the center of the oven and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-inch square baking dish with foil so that foil hangs over the edges of the pan. Butter the foil. Set aside.
In a large bowl combine oats, oat flour, sugar, flaxseed meal, salt, cinnamon, coconut, and cranberries.
In a small bowl, whisk together honey, melted butter, and orange juice. Pour over the flour mixture and toss together with a fork. The mixture will be dry but sticky. Blend together until all of the dry ingredients are moistened by the honey mixture.
Dump out oat mixture into prepared baking dish. With clean, slightly oiled fingers, press the oat mixture into the dish until tight and solid in the pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until browned around the edges. The baked granola will still be soft even after it's fully baked, but will harden as it cools.
Removed baked granola from the oven and cool for 30 minutes. Place the baking dish in the refrigerator for about an hour before slicing. This will help to further cool the bars and keep them from crumbling when sliced.
Use the overhanging foil flaps to remove the baked granola. Use a large, sharp knife to cut block into 12 bars. Wrap individually in plastic wrap and store in airtight jar. Granola bars will last, well wrapped, at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.
source: adapted from Joy the Baker Cookbook
Monday, April 22, 2013
This past weekend we were in Baltimore for my aunt's wedding. We headed up to Virginia on Thursday night to break up the trip a little, and then went on to Maryland on Friday. We were able to spend Friday with my grandparents, which was wonderful. We don't get to see them that much, and we really treasure any time we get to spend with either of our grandparents. It was also fun to have all six of our nieces and nephews on my side all together! Saturday was the wedding and almost all of my mom's entire family was there. It was a great day being with family and celebrating with my aunt, and my grandparents were so thrilled to have so many family members all in one room, including all 13 great-grandchildren!