Saturday, August 17, 2013

We Moved Our Blog!

We migrated our blog to Wordpress to make it easier for everyone to comment and like our blog posts.

Please make sure you bookmark our new URL:  http://emilyandcj.wordpress.com/

See you there!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Blinded

One of our favorite discoveries when moving into our new home was temporary blinds. Not only did they cover up the windows so snoops couldn't peer into our house, they also cost $5 each. For someone who cannot decide quickly on something so permanent, they were the ideal solution.

However, over the past few months, we were reminded why they are called temporary blinds. They're not meant to be hung up for extended periods of time which we learned pretty quickly when they kept falling down over and over...and over again. We decided to use our handy dandy Frog Tape to keep them attached to the windows which made for a very stylish window. I mean, who doesn't want some temporary paper blinds hung up by some bright green tape? I know, you're jealous already.


Back to the newest development, we did some research on different blind companies, looked in a few catalogs, and visited our second home (The Home Depot, of course) to find the best deal**. We weren't surprised to find that our second home had the best price and exactly what we needed.

So, we finally purchased some beautiful white faux-wood blinds to hang in our house. We wanted to see how they looked first before buying enough for the whole house so we started with the office and guest room. They were so easy to hang up! They take about 20-30 minutes each and look so good! Once we knew we liked them, we bought enough for the family room.



Helpful hint: When you buy your blinds from Home Depot, they take the size of your window and subtract a 1/2" from the width before cutting. They make them a 1/2" thinner because the blinds need that much space on each side for the mounting brackets. Because of that, when you're measuring, I wouldn't round down. The last thing you want is for the blinds to be too thin and have them crash down when you first hang them in the brackets (that happened to us). You also don't want them to be too wide because then they won't fit in your window. So trust the experts and let them remove 1/2" from the width. :)

**As an aside, something else we discovered while being homeowners is the price difference that you'll find between different stores. I HIGHLY recommend doing research on items before you buy them because I bet you'll find it cheaper somewhere else. I'm an anti-BB&B (Bed, Bath & Beyond) shopper because they are WAY overpriced. You'll find items there that are the same price as Pottery Barn but 1/4 the level of quality. For example, we bought a curtain rod there and, when screwing it into the wall, the screw literally broke in half. CJ is pretty strong but I wouldn't say he's the incredible hulk. When we went to our favorite store, The Home Depot, we found a curtain rod for 1/3 of the price and it is way higher quality than the BB&B rod.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

House Layout

When Suzanne came to visit our house for the first time, she mentioned that pictures do not do it justice. Actually, several people have told us that! We completely agree. I think part of the problem is that we can't capture a whole room in one shot (hint hint I'd like a wide angle lens for my camera) and the other problem is you don't really get a good feel of the layout of the house through pictures.

To help imagine the layout, I made this quick sketch of how the house is set up:


CJ and I spent quite some time measuring out each room and this is the best we could do to get the correct proportions. It's pretty close to the real deal.

The whole house is almost 1400 square feet so there's plenty of space for entertaining. One of the main reasons why we bought the house was because of the layout, it really flows well together.

Tomorrow, our landscaping guy is coming over to rip out the little tree in the front yard, remove some bushes, start smoothing out the front yard, install irrigation, and then lay some sod! He said that it will take about 3-4 days to complete. We listened to the advice that our family and friends gave and decided to install irrigation. It will make our lives sooo much easier and it's better to do it now while we have a blank slate. We can't wait to finally have something added to the front yard! It will make a huge difference.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

S'Mores Cups


CJ and I decided recently that when we make extremely delicious dishes or desserts, we should share them with you!

A couple of months ago, I saw a friend pin this recipe and I've been meaning to try it out myself. For those of you who don't already know this, I'm obsessed with s'mores. They remind me of when I was growing up and we used to go camping in Long Beach, Washington. Late at night, my parents would go to sleep and it would just be me, my sister, and her husband. Those were my favorite parts of the camping trips because I got to spend time with them and hear fun stories from them growing up (way back in the day... just kidding Katie! ;-) ). It especially meant a lot to me after we moved to California and didn't see each other as often.

I've tried many version of s'mores - some delicious and some disappointing. I love s'mores cupcakes from Kara's Cupcakes, but I've had some pretty bad s'mores cupcakes before. I've made s'mores over the grill (yes, that's how determined I am) which worked pretty well but still wasn't the same as a campfire. This recipe however, is the closest I've been able to get to a s'more without having to set up a fire in my backyard. They are also extremely easy to make!!

Here's the recipe and a few pictures from my first (quite successful) attempt.

So delicious!

Ingredients:

7  
whole graham crackers (1 cup/250 mL finely crushed)
1/4  
cup (50 mL) powdered sugar
6  
tbsp (90 mL) butter, melted
4  
bars (1.55 oz or 43 g each) milk chocolate candy, divided
12  
large marshmallows

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Place graham crackers into a large resealable plastic bag. Finely crush into crumbs using roller. Combine graham cracker crumbs, powdered sugar and butter in Small Batter Bowl. Using small scoop, place scant scoop of crumb mixture in each cup of mini-muffin pan. Press crumb to form shallow cups with mini-tart shaper. Bake 4-5 minutes or until edges are bubbling. Meanwhile, break two of the candy bars into rectangles. Remove pan from over; place one rectangle into each cup.
  2. Cut marshmallows in half crosswise using professional shears dipped in cold water. Place one marshmallow half, cut-side down, into each cup. Return to over 1-2 minutes or until marshmallows are just slightly softened. Remove from oven to cooling rack; cool 15 minutes. Carefully remove cups from pan. Cool completely.
  3. Break remaining candy bars and melt in double boiler. Dip the top of each marshmallow in melted chocolate. Turn top-side up and let stand 40 minutes-1 hour or until set.
Yield: 24 cups


Can't wait to make these again!
They turned out so well that I didn't really want to share them with anyone beyond CJ and myself. But, because I know my boss has a sweet tooth, I brought in 4 for her. She said they were the most delicious dessert she's ever tasted. Success! I plan on making another batch so I can share some next time :)

Monday, August 5, 2013

Landscaping Plans

We are getting ready to start working on our front yard! Both the front and back need a ton of work but we're going to take it one step at a time. We really need to work on the curb appeal of our house because the outside is nowhere near an indication of how adorable the inside of our house is.

We had a landscape designer come over a couple of months ago to draw up plans for the front and back of our house and we love what she came up with. Here's what the plans look like:


We told her that we wanted a traditional theme to the plants because we want the yard to feel cozy and inviting. She really did a great job incorporating what we asked for! When we're ready to start planting the flowers, we just give her a heads up and they will deliver it all, place it where it needs to go, and then we plant it ourselves! We are so excited and hope that we have a few volunteers to help us get it done quickly. Free lunch provided for anyone who wants to help :)

But before we can get started on the plants, we need to add the lawn. We're currently getting estimates from several people to level out the yard (it's all over the place after removing the bricks from the front), mayyyybe do irrigation (although we might opt to water the lawn ourselves to save some moola), and then install the grass. Because it's going to be curved, we think it might be easier to have someone else do that part for us.

Our bare front yard - the bricks in the very front are now gone!
Once we tackle the front yard, we'll move to the backyard which is in some serious need of love and care. It's a Kansas wasteland as CJ mentioned which is good, because that means it's a blank slate and not riddled with weeds... but bad, because that means it's not very inviting. Another thing that we need to do in the backyard before we start working on the landscaping is the fence. It is at the end of its life and needs to be completely replaced, which is an expensive project. Hence, we are taking our time and saving up for that.

Stay tuned for updates on the yard! We hope to have the front yard finished by the time we have our housewarming party.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Mirror Mirror on the Wall

Who's the fairest of them all? Not quite sure, but I can tell you that the wall above the credenza is quite adorable! We've been looking through Houzz and Joss & Main for nice piece of artwork to hang over the credenza for the past few months and finally found the perfect addition!

Here's a "before" picture:



A few ideas we liked initially:

We thought a mirror with a fun border would be a nice addition. Although, they were all a bit out of our price range.

Then we thought maybe some artwork?

But even though they were adorable, they still didn't feel quite right. Then, one fateful trip to Target changed the search entirely. I was wandering through the home decorating aisles just in case I stumbled upon something cute when I saw the most adorable set of 3 mirrors. It was exactly what we were looking for but I didn't want to buy it until I showed it to CJ. Unfortunately, when I got home to show it to CJ on the Target website, I noticed that it was only available online. That means that I only saw it in the store because someone returned it! By the time we went back to Target to buy it, it was gone. We were bummed but decided to just order it online and anxiously wait for it to arrive. 


Something else we loved about these mirrors? They are a 1/3 of the price of everything else we were looking at. SOLD!

It was delivered a few days later, we hung it up, and we are in love! The mirrors look perfect above the credenza especially with our new white ceramic vase and flowers from HomeGoods!


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Guest Who?

This past weekend, we had two important [temporary] additions to the house. The first, an old trusty dusty trash bin, and the second, someone who I could stuff into it, the Peanut! For those of you less familiar with the Peanut, she's my sister and also goes by Suzanne.


What did we accomplish, you might ask? These past few weeks, I was working on cleaning up the loose bricks to redo the front row. But, after taking a closer look, we decided that we wanted to remove the front row of bricks altogether and use them to add another level to the mini-brick wall closer to the house. So, with the help of a hammer and chisel, I officially removed the small front brick walls and trimmed up the plants in front of our house that were getting a little cozy with the neighbor's rooftop. My poor hand has seen better days; we noticed at dinner on Saturday that a my left index finger was nice and purple.

So tired

Along with the removal of the brick, the old wood shelving in the garage is now residing in the bottom of above-mentioned dumpster as well. The garage is looking a little messier until we get a new shelf and organize everything we have but, in the end, it will be much better than the previous setup. I still need to pull down the two mysterious doors in the rafters and the long piece of plywood that are just hanging about collecting dust spiders and who knows what else.


Suzanne gave several bushes a nice #2 cut before we ripped them out entirely in the backyard. Basically, all that is left after all of our hard work this past weekend is a Kansas wasteland with three rocks, two bushes, and a whole bunch of wannabe hedge plants. Oh and the tiny fruit tree.

Thanks again to Suzanne who came up and pitched in! Hopefully she had fun up with us as the first guest at our house. We know we did and can't wait until her next visit!

Sunday morning crepe breakfast!