Sunday, September 21, 2014

Pumpkins + Ice Cream

In our true 65-year-old-couple-like fashion, we had a nice, quiet weekend.  On Saturday, we went to get some pumpkins & mums.

Thanks to my friend, Karissa, for the recommendation on where to find some white pumpkins!

After pumpkin shopping, we stopped to get some ice cream.  It's probably a good thing The Ice Cream Barn is about 40 minutes from our house, otherwise I'd be there way too often!  The sun was shining and we got to eat our ice cream while watching the cows in the field across the street.  Tyler got the cookie dough and I got the mint chip, both in waffle cones. So good.  

For the rest of the weekend, we didn't do a whole lot except watch football & hang out with our kitties.

I also bought some of those cotton candy grapes at Stop & Shop - anybody else try them?  They really do taste cotton candy flavored.  Think cotton candy bubblegum or something.  Very interesting (& sweet), but I think I'll stick to the plain old red and green grapes. ;)

Hope you had a good weekend!  

Thursday, September 18, 2014

DIY: Kitchen Corner Bench

Since the day we came to see our house for the first time, I knew I wanted to have a corner bench in our kitchen (a banquette, if want to be fancy).  And by that I mean, I knew I was going to ask Tyler a million times to make me a bench!  It's just the perfect spot for one.  It's a close call, but I'm pretty sure it ended up being cheaper than buying two more chairs for our table.  Plus, my cats have turned one of the chairs into their personal scratching post, and the bench is something that they can't really ruin (or haven't found a way to do so - yet).  It's probably my favorite spot in our house.  After our bed, of course.

I don't really have any step-by-step pictures, but here are some general steps Tyler took to make it:
Hopefully this makes sense,  just trying to repeat what the builder told me.

1.) Measure it all out first (obviously).  You'll need to know the measurements to make sure you get enough supplies!

2.) Spend a few too many hours and make several trips to your local Home Depot/Lowes/your hardware store of choice. Just kidding, but somehow whenever we I decide I want (Tyler) to start a project, it seems like that always happens.  Anyone else feel that way??

3.)  Make the frame of the bench using 2 x 4s.  Ours was three separate sections - 2 legs and the corner, and then was attached together using wood screws.

4.) Cut the top of the bench.  Tyler used a piece of finished maple plywood (4 ft x 8 ft x 3/4 in thick) that we got from Home Depot.  He used a circular saw and a jig saw to cut the shape of it so it slightly overhangs the frame.  Then he used a router on the edges to make them kind of curved. 

5.)  Cut the sides of the bench.  All of the side pieces (including a base top layer) were made out of the same maple plywood, except with a 1/4 in thick piece instead of 3/4 in.  

6.) Assemble! First Tyler attached the outside sides, then added the base top layer (as shown below). He used liquid nails to attach the top of the bench cut in step #4, plus screws (from underneath so the screws wouldn't show through the top). Then, he screwed on the remaining side pieces.

7.)  Fill any cracks and corners with wood filler. Also use wood filler to cover any screws that might be visible. Sand down the areas you filled once dry.  

8.) Paint! Once assembled and dried, you can paint however you choose. We used a Behr Premium paint and primer all-in-one (same color as the trim throughout our house).

I bought a few pillows to put in the corner section of the bench and would like to eventually get a few more, maybe switching them out throughout the year.  A cushion would be nice since it would make it more comfortable to sit on, but because it's a weird shape, it makes it kind of difficult to find one.  The upside to no cushion is that if any food or drink ends up on it, it's super easy to clean.  We also have a few blankets that somehow permanently found a spot on the bench when my kitties were just begging for a soft place to lay. ;)

For Christmas last year, I asked for a new light fixture.  I tend to use Christmas and my birthday as excuses to ask for things around the house that I want.  Because that's normal, right?  :) 

Our table looks almost exactly like this one from Pottery Barn, but was a fraction of the price!  I was pretty excited about that find.

Like I said, I love this spot in our house!  We had initially intended to attach the bench to the wall so it would be built-in, but ended up just leaving it free-standing. So, maybe at our next house we'll be able to use it there, too?  

Monday, September 15, 2014

Apple Pie

Yesterday I decided to make an (almost) homemade apple pie - somewhat because I was a little bored while Tyler was watching football, but mostly because I just really wanted to eat a warm slice of pie on a chilly fall-like day. :)  This also meant I got to cross one item off of our fall bucket list.

This is the exact recipe I follow, including the pre-made pie crusts.  It's so easy and so good.  I can't quite wrap my brain around why someone would go through the process of making pie crusts from scratch when you can just pick up a box of flaky, delicious pre-made crusts from your grocery store.  But that's just me. ;) The recipe is also conveniently found on the pie crust box.  

I doesn't look very pretty, and it all fell apart when I impatiently tried to cut the first piece, but it tastes good - that's all that matters, right?  (And yes, that's an "N" in the middle.  Just monogramming our apple pie, NBD). 

It's best served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

If you give this recipe a shot, I'm sure you won't regret it.  Happy baking! :)

Friday, September 12, 2014

Front Door Face Lift

I love a good grey, black + white combination for pretty much anything.  Our house is light grey with a burgundy front door and shutters.  I have wanted to paint the front door and shutters for a while now and we're finally hoping to get it done in the next week or so.  In fact, I got home late last night from a quick trip to Chicago for work, and all of the shutters had already been taken off the house (woo hoo)!  The paint on our front door is chipping, so it needs to be repainted anyway.  I figured we might as well just make it what we really want it to be.  Here are some of my inspirations:

I would also love to have a black storm door. This is the one I have my eye on.  I like that it's full glass from top to bottom (and that'll help insulate our house better).  We're planning on getting a new light fixture for next to the front door, too.  Probably something like this one.

Finally, some new house numbers.

We got the paint over a month ago but I was told we couldn't start another project until we finished the ones we had already started. ;)  I think this will be a relatively quick & easy way to make a big impact.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Happy Birthday, Mom!

I'd like to wish my mom a very happy birthday today! I know everyone says this, but my mom really is the best.  :) 

On Sunday we got together to celebrate and eat some delicious food.  Tyler even got to eat a "steak as big as his plate", so he was more than happy about that. It was a beautiful day and awesome for spending some time outside on my parents' deck (and not watch the Patriots lose - hopefully they win next week)! 

Isn't she cute? 

Saturday was a lazy day - grocery shopping, laundry + cleaning.  And cuddling this little guy under the covers. :)

Happy Monday (is over)! One day closer to the weekend. ;)

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Fall Favorites: Cozy Loungewear

One of my favorite things about the cooler, fall weather is dressing for it. Of course, this includes changing into some comfy clothes immediately after getting home from work + living in them on the weekends.  (Read more about my pj obsession here.)  Even though it's about 90 degrees and crazy humid today, I've rounded up a few cozy items that I'd like to add to my collection, because the fall weather will be here before you know it!

I have those grey striped leggings already, but I wouldn't be complaining if I had a pair in every color.  They're so soft and comfortable.  I also love a new pair of slippers because I wear them constantly when I'm home.  These ones are super affordable, and I'm loving the bright purple color.

Now I just need to be curled up on the couch with a hot cup of apple cider, watching the leaves fall from the trees. ;)

Hope you're all having a great weekend!

Thursday, September 4, 2014


In honor of the NFL season opener (not sure about you, but football has taken over my TV from now until the Superbowl),  I thought I'd share my guacamole "recipe" since I have a feeling we will be eating lots of it this season!  I never knew I liked guacamole until probably the past year or so.  My favorite guacamole is actually from Uno (I know, wouldn't be my first thought either) - the warm tortilla chips + guacamole are the perfect appetizer. ;)  We've bought a couple different kinds of guacamole from the grocery store, but none of them quite lived up to our expectations.  I googled "Uno guacamole recipe" and came across a Youtube video that listed all the ingredients, but no measurements.  I just kind of threw something together in an attempt to re-create it, and it was actually pretty successful!

Here is my half-assed recipe:

-2 avocados
-juice of 1 freshly squeezed lime*
   -1/4 large tomato, chopped
   -1/8 yellow onion, chopped
   -1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
   -1/2 teaspoon cumin
   -1/2 teaspoon salt
   -dash of pepper

*I guess this should say not fully squeezed lime, or maybe juice of 3/4 a lime - it was much more lime-y tasting when I asked Tyler to squeeze the lime for me than when I did it myself, so use your judgement on this one.  It's probably best if you squeeze, taste, and squeeze more if needed.

Mash up the avocados in a bowl first (they should still be a little lumpy), then add the other ingredients and mix it all together.  I also soak the chopped onion in warm water for about 5 minutes before mixing it in.  It's supposed to make the raw onion flavor a little less intense.

Again, all of the above are approximate. I tend not to measure exactly and just kind of throw stuff in.  And yes, that's 1/4 of a tomato (not 1/4 cup or something) - I just chop it up and add it until it looks right. The photo shown above is the actual size of the tomato + onion I used the first time.  I don't know if you can really go wrong though! 

Whatever you do, don't forget about the cumin! It's the ingredient that really makes it taste extra good, promise.  The guacamole will only last a day, maybe two, so be sure to eat it right away.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


As Tyler says, we're always celebrating something at our house.  Today it's our Aubrey girl.  It's officially been one year since this little girl came wandering into our yard & into our hearts.  We definitely weren't looking to get another kitty at the time, but I'm so glad we made an exception.  She's our completely bat shit crazy, wild, feisty, cuddly, sometimes sweet, treat-loving, baby girl. Love you, Aubrey!

                                 And when you're not beating them up, your brothers love you, too. ;)

Monday, September 1, 2014

Labor Day Birthday Party

We successfully hosted our Labor Day birthday party for my mother-in-law yesterday!  I got up super early after our drive-in date Saturday night to start getting everything ready.  It was a good thing, because we were prepping until the very last minute!  Here's our kitchen at about 6:30 am - working on the birthday cake.

Hosting is a lot of work!  The cake wasn't as hard as I thought it would be to make, and it ended up tasting pretty good.  I don't like cream cheese frosting, but I heard that it was good, too. :)

Here was our menu for the day - I put it up on our chalkboard in the kitchen for everyone to see.

 My favorite was the grilled veggies - bell peppers, zucchini, squash, asparagus + pea pods tossed in Italian dressing.  Tyler also made some turkey burgers in addition to the hamburgers because I like to be difficult and am probably the only one who would prefer the turkey burgers. ;)  The cajun fries I made were a pretty big hit, as well as Gramma's baked beans.

We set up everything outside and luckily the rain held out until about 7:30, after we had eaten and gotten a chance to hang out outside for a while.  I didn't get any pictures of the food set-up because it started to be eaten before we could even finish getting everything out on the table!

The make your-own sundae bar was probably everyone's favorite all day.  We didn't really end up narrowing down the toppings list too much.  Everyone had something(s) they really liked and there was plenty to go around.  We still have so much left over, I will be eating ice cream sundaes for weeks. Such a shame. ;)

I put all of the toppings in mason jars and laid out a piece of kraft paper with labels written for all of the toppings + ice cream flavors to create the sundae bar.

After dessert, we hung out & played some games.

  Here are Tyler & his sibs. It's not the easiest thing to coordinate everyone's schedules for something like this, so it was great that they were all able to come.

FYI, they did not match on purpose but I think it looks pretty cute in the picture!

The party was really fun but we are wiped.  Definitely grateful for the long weekend to get a chance to relax.  Hope you're all having a great LDW, too!
© Life as a Noel. Design by FCD.