Wednesday, September 24, 2014

life lately · the usual

Life has been happening as usual... busy and nothing out of the ordinary.

I'm actually thrilled at the arrival of fall this year. I'm all about the chill in the air, putting on thick socks and curling up with a hot cup of coffee. Now winter, I'd be happy if that stayed away forever.

Is it just me, or has this year flown by?! I honestly can't believe that it's almost October. It will be next year before we know it!

The house is still in progress... maybe I'll actually get new pictures up before we've lived here for two years! The big stuff is done, but there is still really nothing on the walls. We made a list of projects that we want are going to get done before Thanksgiving this year. We are hosting again (yay!) and want to have some visible projects completed. It's hard to do since so many of our weekends booked up... we're always going to lean towards the fun activities when they arise! But we're getting close.

Not much else is going on... Steven & I did take a vacation, and I'm working on that post! Lots of pictures to sort through and stories to write.

I hope everyone is enjoying the beginning of autumn as much as I am. :)

xoxo, christa

Friday, July 25, 2014

lollapalooza · packing for the practical

{lollapalooza 2013 · the view from our hotel room}

Lollapalooza 2014 is a week away. One week! How did that happen?! This summer has seriously flown by.

Last year was my first trip to Lollapalooza in Chicago. I wasn't at all sure what to expect, so in preparation I googled to see what people recommended you pack and wear. And, in my opinion, some of what these people were listing was ridiculous... The most bizarre items included a tiny silver studded fanny pack, a giant wide brimmed straw hat, self-tanner, and a fancy dress.

{three days of singing, dancing, jumping & sweating}

Now, I'm not really a fancy dresser to begin with, but since you're literally walking, standing, dancing, jumping and sweating outside for 12 hours I didn't think my favorite sundress was the best option.

I dressed in jean shorts & tank tops. Sure, some of the girls looked super cute in their fancy outfits. I felt it made more sense to be practical since the objective of Lolla is to see as many awesome bands as you can. Back to back to back to back concerts. It's not a fashion show.

I did make the mistake of thinking that I could wear hard-bottomed sandals the whole weekend. Hahahaha - so funny! I ended up running out to the closest shoe store on the morning of day two to pick up some tennis shoes. Steven tried to warn me, but I'm a sandals girl. I thought I would be fine. I picked up another pair of tennis shoes this year. I'm taking both.

{hello apparel sunglasses tank & comfy, practical shoes}

So I'm dressed, comfortably, now what do I need to take into the festival with me? Last year I pulled out my college backpack and went through the weekend in my head, thinking about what I might need or want.

In my backpack I carried daily, & will carry this year:
   · phone
   · battery powered phone charger (everyone used this at some point during the weekend)
   · walkie-talkie (our group had a few spread out between us, cell reception is poor)
   · the schedule & map
   · small wallet for hotel room key, ID card & cash (buried at the bottom)
   · hand sanitizer
   · kleenex
   · chapstick with SPF
   · sunscreen (in a tube, aerosol cans are prohibited)
   · advil/tylenol
   · reusable water bottle (they have filling stations)
   · a couple bandanas (to wipe sweat or sit on while waiting for a show)
   · extra hair ties & bobby pins
   · poncho/garbage bag
   · long-sleeved tee (if it gets chilly in the evening, takes up less room than a sweatshirt)
   · extra ziplock bags in a variety of sizes (to store items if it rains)

{glow sticks & bracelets are optional}

I shower at night, so when I get up each morning I just have to freshen up, get dressed & apply sunscreen. Then I grab my bag and head to the park!

This year I bought a large cross-body bag to use instead of my backpack, for a couple reasons. The backpack itself weighs like five pounds without anything in it, my back got sweaty, I wished I could have switched between my shoulders. So I'll have the same items in my new bag.

We got cash at our bank ahead of time to avoid long ATM lines or extra fees. This year, you can load your wristband with a credit or debit card ahead of time and use that to pay for everything. I'm still going to go the cash route this year.

If you're looking for more on what to pack, this article is actually pretty good for a first-timer. I used it last year to help pack my bag. And this Lolla FAQ page has a list of items that the festival allows and prohibits.

So, my festival bag is packed and ready to go, just need to get my clothes packed up and into the Lolla mindset!

xoxo, christa

Thursday, July 24, 2014

sweet & salty · peanut butter pretzel bites

Sweet and salty... just saying those words makes my mouth water! Salted caramel is my favorite, but I'll take any sweet and salty combo! Especially when it's a no-bake dessert during the summer, no one wants to heat up their oven when it's 100° outside.

I know I've mentioned before - food days are mega popular at my office. And they typically have to have a theme. I had two students begging me to schedule a food day, so last week we had a sweet & salty food day. I made a crockpot full of teriyaki chicken and a batch of these peanut butter pretzel bars.

The chicken went fast, and everyone kept returning to the peanut butter pretzel bites throughout the afternoon. Food days are so dangerous. But we'll keep having them anyway!

peanut butter pretzel bars
8 tablespoons of softened butter
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
1 cup powdered sugar
3 cups pretzel crumbs

chocolate peanut butter topping
1 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup peanut butter chips

In a big bowl, combine the peanut butter, butter, powdered sugar and pretzel crumbs. I turned my pretzels into crumbs with my blender, but a food processor or gallon baggie and rolling pin would also work.

Line a 9x9 inch pan with wax paper, it makes it so much easier to pull the bars out for cutting, then pour in the peanut butter - pretzel mixture. Press it all down into a flat layer and stick it in the fridge for at least 10 minutes.

In a microwave safe glass measuring cup, pour in the chocolate and peanut butter chips. Microwave in increments of 30 seconds, stirring in between,  until the chips are melted. Pour the chocolate over the bars and then sprinkle with pretzel pieces (I picked out the biggest one from my blender before I dumped the crumbs). Stick them back in the fridge until the chocolate hardens.

Mine were in the refrigerator overnight, then I pulled up on the wax paper and set them onto my cutting board to cut them into bite-sized pieces. I put them into a container with wax paper between the layers and kept them in the fridge when they weren't being consumed. There are still a couple in my fridge at home - we've been sneaking them throughout the evenings.

What is your favorite sweet and salty combo? I think I need to make something with salted caramel next!

xoxo, christa

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

married · one year

{one year anniversary · st. louis, mo}

We've been married a whole year!

I guess technically a year and 18 days since this post is a little overdue... But it's been a wonderful year. It seemed fitting that we were in St. Louis over our anniversary weekend - we went there after our wedding last year! We had a great time with our friends, but we snuck out on our anniversary to have breakfast alone.

{I finally got the crepes I have been craving for months!}

I love my bearded guy. He's pretty awesome. I'm constantly thinking about him and still get flutters when a mid-day text comes in.

I'm not sure we've learned anything new about each other over the past year - it has been eight years total - but we've learned how to be homeowners together. It's not always fun or glamorous. And I think you can say the same thing about marriage!

I always laugh when people ask me how married life is - for us it's exactly the same as it was before! And I think that's a very good thing.

I still attribute our strong relationship to our communication and independence {both as a couple and individually}.

Some people stare in amazement when Steven tells them that I 'let him' do his own thing. We do lots of things together, but we don't control each other's lives, so why shouldn't we each be allowed to do what we want to do? We have freedom, but usually choose to do things together. We enjoy each other's company. But we don't get hurt feelings if we opt to do things without the other.

Relationships are a lot of give and take. You just have to balance the two.

xoxo, christa

Monday, June 23, 2014

roasted corn & kale salad

Kale. It's like the in-thing right now, apparently. Corn. Well, I can't get enough of it during the summer.

The first time I ever had kale was when I made a modified version of this kale & quinoa salad. I bought 'green kale' and we decided it tastes a lot like raw broccoli, which was a good thing in our book. We chowed down that salad and I knew we'd have to work more kale into our diets.

Steven grilled some corn and we ended up with some leftover ears. We could have just eaten it as is, but I thought it would taste great with the kale. A little sweetness with the earthiness.

It was really good. Really light, yet filling. Perfect for a summer meal. And it's super easy to throw together, too.

roasted corn & kale salad
2 ears of roasted or grilled corn, kernels cut off
1 bunch of kale, chopped
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1 1/2 cups shredded carrots
1/4 cup of sliced almonds
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 lemon, juiced

Put all the veggies and almonds in a bowl, toss together. Drizzle the lemon juice over the salad and toss again. Top with feta crumbles and enjoy!

A few notes: I recommend adding the feta to each individual bowl in case you have leftovers, the feta can get a little soggy if you mix it all in.

I just used lemon juice to dress this salad, but you could easily use your favorite vinaigrette instead.

What are your favorite summer recipes? I tend to go for things off the grill, or meals that don't require any heat!

xoxo, christa

Thursday, June 19, 2014

new house numbers · DIY

So, let's talk house numbers. Probably the most important part of your house, if you want anyone to find you that is.

Our house came with numbers, prominently displayed and easy to see. Right under a light fixture so you can even see them well at night. So when we order food at 9pm, the delivery driver can easily find us. Priorities, right?

But they were less than attractive. Brassy-gold numbers on a white-ish, beige-ish plastic frame. The numbers were off-center, the screws were all rusty.

So I started looking at different options at the hardware stores. I really liked the metal ones that you had to special order with your house number and street name. But as you can imagine, with the phrase 'special order' those babies were much pricier than I was going for.

Then I thought I would just take the numbers off the existing frame thing, spray paint that with a fresh coat of something other than sun-faded beige, and add new numbers. Yeah, no. Those shiny brass numbers were there to stay for all of eternity.

Plan C. DIY that B.

I bought a plank of wood that was the height I needed and had the Lowe's man cut it down to the width I needed. I bought the pretty numbers that matched the finish of the light fixtures and front door hardware, used the template to drill holes into the wood, painted the wood white, screwed the numbers in, screwed the wood into the existing holes in the brick. Wah-lah!

{before & after}

Our new house numbers are so much cleaner and go better with our style. Not to mention, they thankfully didn't cost an arm and a leg.

xoxo, christa

ps: I definitely photoshopped our house numbers for safety. 

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