When the going gets tough…

…the tough pile up all their clean laundry on the treadmill. I’m not proud of it but it has happened. This week was the first full week for both master’s classes and adding inside recess, frigid temps, and a torn boot has made for a long, exhausting week! Definitely looking forward to the weekend and the social calendar we have lined up. Like getting to see this lady!

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I’d also like to make progress on Noah’s gallery wall and finding storage for the office but I’m not sure which direction to move on either so we’ll see. They’re at the top of my project list only because they are in the same room and where I seem to be spending most of my evenings as of late. La sigh.

Something else I’m looking forward to is the new book I got today. It’s called The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year Old Boy with Autism. It’s a topic I’ve been interested in ever since Pi Phi life where it was our local philanthropy and I think it’s an important read for any teacher. I’ve read so many personal stories from parents of children with Autism but I’m looking forward to hearing the child’s perspective.

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Also, am I the only one counting down to Groundhog’s Day?? C’mon Punxsutawney Phil, bring in the springtime!

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Zach and Jenny Conquer the Garage

We had unseasonably warm weather this weekend so we jumped at the chance to clean up the garage. Originally the plan was to spend just Saturday on this but as house projects go, we ended up spending both days. Here is the before:

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Randomness includes, but is not limited to, yard tools, sports equipment, lawn chairs, three coolers, empty boxes from our move and things we don’t have a place for in the house just yet (ie vinyl records). So we set off to Lowe’s and bought a wire shelf, some hooks of various sizes, tool clamp bar, a step stool and a Mountain Dew (whoops!). At the point we had lost our daylight so we met up with some friends and called it a day. Sunday we got back to it and mounted the wire shelf and yard tool clamps then realized we needed more stuff from Lowe’s. This time we got a stud finder, a new level that was actually level, some dry wall hooks, washers, and putty to cover the holes from not having a stud finder. 3 smashed fingers, 2 trips to Lowe’s and 1 trash dumpster later…

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The lighting wasn’t very good so here are close ups of the two biggest changes.

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We already had this shelf here but it had become a catch all for randomness and half empty boxes. So we resorted, labeled boxes and called that corner good. The yard tools are hung with a clamp bar that was only $6! We had doubts about its quality but for our needs, it’s perfect. The two shovels are on separate hooks because they were too awkward to group with anything.

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Is it weird to say I’m excited over a wire shelf? $30 well spent. Nothing up there is too heavy but they are super bulking and perfect surfaces for plopping other crap so having them up high is perfect. Then we got two long padded hooks for the lawn chairs, hung up a poster from college and set up boxes to start recycling plastics and glass. When we moved into the house we had an extra trash can and Zach suggested keeping it in the garage for when we clean out our cars. It was one of the best lifehacks he’s ever thought of. It makes a HUGE difference. We also broke down boxes to take to the recycling center and filled a box with items to donate. We had a white board left over from one of my college apartments and not wanting to let it got to waste we found a use for it…

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Can you tell I’m eager for spring??

Lazy Spinach Dip Bites

This has been one of those weeks where time moved slow and yet fast. Most of our time was spent hunting down Whole30 foods and recipes and then cooking all those into meals, then cleaning up those meals only to go to bed to start all over the next day. Major time commitment. We made some tasty things and some not so tasty things, and after 72 hours of feeling sea sick I pulled the plug. What made me feel so sick? I’m not really sure. But I wasn’t eating the things I needed to be healthy because I didn’t have an appetite so we decided to reevaluate. Still keeping everything the program has to say in mind, we are going ahead with more flexibility.

Then there are the things you can’t control… Like a post-Christmas, Christmas-themed potluck work party. I am awful at bring-a-dish parties. I have no family recipes, and totally different food preferences than my co-workers so I was scrambling to find a good recipe. Where else to turn but the ever faithful Pinterest! I wanted an easy crowd pleaser and after scouring websites I decided to Franken-recipe. Lazy Spin Dip Bites were born. So if you have waited to the last minute to make a potluck dish, fear no more! All you need is…

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Ingredients:

2 tubes crescent rolls

2 cups jarred Spinach dip

1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese (plus some to sprinkle on top) 

Sprinkling of parmesan cheese

Steps:

Preheat your oven to 375 and grease a cupcake tin. Then unroll a can of the crescent rolls and pinch together the seams. I cut the dough into 15 squares using a dough cutter but found them to be a little small so next time I would go bigger. Place each square into a cupcake cup with the corners just over the sides enough that they won’t fall in. Then I poured 2 cups of the jarred dip into a bowl and mixed in the 1/2 cup mozzarella. To help the rolls keep shape I only used a tablespoon of the dip in each cup. Sprinkle each with some cheeses and here is what they’ll look like…

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Then toss them in for 10-12 minutes since the dip is done and the rolls just need to be baked. 

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They made the house smell delicious! After they cooled I popped each one out and put them in a 9×13, and stored in the fridge. The plan is to warm them back up in the oven before the party so they’re warm and melty again! And here’s what they look like after you burn your tongue trying a bite and shit gets real…

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Hope these can help you out of a pinch! They offer so many possibilities I can’t wait to try another version! Now if I just knew what I was going to wear…

 

-Jenny Kay

Friday Faves

After a crazy week of on and off snow days, it is finally Friday! Better yet, the weather is expected to be nice AND it’s Zach’s birthday Saturday! The day will be celebrated with birthday breakfast, friends, bowling and beer. May the good times, and cold brew, roll!

One of the link-ups I’ve enjoyed following the past few months is Five on Friday hosted by The Good Life Blog. The concept is list five things that make you happy, then link-up and click around to other blogs to read similar posts. Secret confession: I’ve been fake writing these in my head for months now. Ex: Mmm this Toni & Joe’s mimosa is totally worthy of Five on Friday. Without further hesitation, here is my first, official Five on Friday (minus the pretty image clusters because I haven’t quite figured how to do those yet…)

{ONE}

I made my first J.Crew purchase this week! I signed up for their emails last year but was able to avoid the temptation until recently (darn you snow days!). 40% off clearance? Bright red skies? Deal.Image

{graphic tee, necklace)

I’m thinking red plaid shirt (mine is from Marshalls but here is similiar: shirt, shirt) with this tee underneath and some red boot socks (ideas: socks, socks). The giraffe necklace doesn’t go with the outfit but I couldn’t pass up its charm and I’m bad about skipping out on accessories.

{TWO}

I went to Target on Thursday for a binder and left with a cart full of clearanced home goods. True story: women were swarming while they were marking things down 70%. Shame on me for being one of those swarmers but getting this basket for $10 was pretty awesome. It is currently being used as an attractive hamper.

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(sold out online, similar here)

{THREE}

My hair is naturally pretty straight and grows easily but it gets staticy in the winter and dry in the summer. Enter the best hair oil I’ve ever used. It’s less than six dollars and doesn’t leave hair too greasy. I use a drop the size of a dime before blow drying. (Note: The bottle used to be blue, but I’ve found the product stayed the same. So no need for a change-of-packaging-heartattack like I had.)

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{FOUR}

Today was ‘Eat Lunch with the Teacher’ day, an incentive for reading 20 nights out of the month. It’s just 15 minutes, but the kids go nuts for it and I enjoy hearing the little things they like to talk about with each other. It’s a lot of voting like, raise your hand if you like peanut butter, raise your hand if you like Monsters University. It sounds like silly conversation but I think it’s how they figure out where they fit in with the world. My favorite from today was this little gem: “I love all kinds of dogs, Ms. Kay. I love hot dogs, corn dogs, AND Golden Retrievers! One time, I even saw a Dachshund dressed up as a hot dog.” Her mind was blown and my day was made 🙂

Since this item doesn’t have a picture to go with it, here is another animal related treasure: kitty photo shoot

{FIVE}

This last one goes out to dairy, grains, alcohol, soda, beans, peanut butter, soy and ketchup. Random? Almost. Starting Monday, Zach and I are embarking on a Whole30 adventure. We picked the 13th because it’s after his birthday but ends in time for Valentine’s Day (i.e. my favorite holiday). We’re hoping it gets us back into better eating habits and moving more. So this weekend is for you fatty, sugary foods and booze! (Check back next week for Whole30 recipes and updates on how it’s going!)

{OUTTAKES}

ImageI can be in picture?

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I should also mention the hair oil smells good enough to eat. Here Noah is testing that out.

Five on Friday

One for the dogs

Today we had yet another snow day, and to me that means hot cocoa, Smartwool socks and baking. So far the first two things were going great but Zach doesn’t really like sweets and I don’t want to see myself eat an entire cake sooo the baking has not been happening. Then I thought about the four-legged resident of Lark and he’ll eat just about anything so doggie treats it was!

I had never made doggie treats before so I set off to do some research. What I found was that while dogs can have white flour, it doesn’t offer many nutrients. I also learned that pumpkin is good for their digestion. So while I started the process thinking I would make bacon, peanut butter treats, I ended up making pumpkin, peanut butter treats. Here’s how I did it…

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I preheated the oven to 350 and then I added all the ingredients into my mixer. I love baking, but I don’t get too pumped for dishes so a one bowl recipe is a great thing. Noah sat at my feet whining to get a bite while I was mixing everything up. Given his new fear of the oven (only when it’s on), he must’ve really liked how it smelled!

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree
3 tablespoons peanut butter
A sprinkle of cinnamon

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A can of beans? I was really cool and left my rolling pin at school from when we made cinnamon ornaments. The dough is dense but it wasn’t impossible to work with (even if you’re using a can…). I rolled it to out to 1/4 an inch.

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The dough isn’t going to spread like a cookie would so they can be close together on the baking sheet. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden-brown. A couple years ago I was in a kitchen supply store and saw a 50 count pack of animal cookie cutters for stupid cheap. Of course I had to have it. 6 years later I think I’ve used maybe 3 of them? And storing them is the worst. So I was happy to be able to use one for this recipe. Noah loves to chase, er rather bark at, squirrels so it seemed like a good fit.

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Viola! The finished project. The batter made 18 squirrels and will last about a week in an airtight container. Because our vet told us we need to keep an eye on his weight (he took it like a champ) I boxed up some of the treats to share with some other dog friends. After they cooled down I gave him one and he gobbled it right up! I got my baking fix and he got a special treat, great success!

Hope your pup enjoys these as much as mine did!

-Jenny Kay

Geronimo!

After months of pondering and stalling and ‘researching’ (i.e. hours spent pouring over my favorite blogs) I am taking the plunge and starting my OWN blog! A place for family and friends to catch up on the adventures we have and to see how we turn our house on Lark Street into our first home!

Here is a quick introduction to the residents:

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Zach and I meet in 2008 at Drury University where we were both going to school. We were set up by sorority sisters of mine for a blind date dance and have been together ever since. I would say it was his up-to-no-good smile that got me hooked. He’d probably say that it was my sarcasm. We love costume parties, sporting events and weekend trips here and there to keep things interesting.

This past July we bought our first house and couldn’t be happier. At times it has been an exercise of patience (why can’t we just be made of money?!) but it has also been full of joy.

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In 2012 our lives became complete, we adopted Noah. A friend was working at a local no-kill animal shelter named C.A.R.E. when Noah was brought in. Knowing that we were on the dog search, she sent us his picture and the rest is history. We don’t know much about the first year and a half of his life but from the time we’ve had together I know these things:

  • He is obsessed with fleece blankets
  • He is a mega cuddler
  • He loves car rides and peanut butter
  • He makes my heart explode from cuteness overload about every day

That’s us in a nutshell! Check back for future posts on cooking, (attempts at) decorating, the occasional DIY project and other misadventures of a 20-something!

Until next time!

-Jenny Kay