DIY: Monogram Wreath

Being a teacher means that during the summer months, if you aren’t working a part-time job (and let’s be honest, why would you?), the days can feel a little long and lonely, especially if you’re young and have no children to take care of, like me. To combat this summer loneliness with a little social interaction, my wonderful and dear friend Melanie and I planned to spend a day together working on DIY projects – she dubbed it “crafternoon.”  We both poured over projects on Pinterest, and then we made a trip to Hobby Lobby and spent the day crafting.

Being creative and spending time with friends? It’s good for the soul.

Melanie used glittery cardstock and a blank canvas to make an art piece for her niece’s sixth birthday.  I wanted to make a wreath for our front door.  Since we live in an apartment, personalizing our space is always a challenge, and Jeremy and I are forever dreaming of the DIY projects we’ll do in our home someday. (First step? Modernizing a bathroom to create a spa-like retreat.  Again, someday.)  For now, we’re stuck with small projects, and making a wreath seemed like a simple way to brighten up our home for the summer season. I wanted to include a monogram letter and make a wreath that was springy, summery, and generally warm and inviting.  There are literally a gazillion beautifully crafted wreaths on Etsy (in my opinion, these were the best and gave me great inspiration), and after looking at several examples, I gave it a try.  And I have to say – I’m really happy with the results!

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Simple Homemade Granola Bars

Jeremy really loves granola bars, and sometimes he even eats them as part of his lunch.  Full of savory-sweet morsels, nuts, oats, and a little something sweet,t what’s not to love, right?  Well, recently we’ve both become more aware about how much sugar is in the average American diet, and as we started reading labels, the sugar counts on the store-bought granola bars that we often considered to be “healthy” snack choices were rather surprising. Looking for an alternative, we began to hunt around for a great homemade granola bar recipe, and Jeremy found one on the lovely blog The Minimalist Baker.  (We also bought their e-cookbook, which has yummy meal plans and plenty of fun recipes to break the monotony in the kitchen.) Their Five-Ingredient Granola Bar recipe was just what we were looking for!
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Quick and Healthy Lunch: Mediterranean Egg Scramble

Fact: I really love feta cheese.  Just ask my husband – any time we cook a recipe that involves feta (which is at least once or twice a week, easily), I always pile a ridiculous amount of feta crumbles onto my pasta/salad/sandwich/whatever.  It’s so salty and it has such a great bite.  Delicious.

In the past few months, Jeremy and I have tried to increase the amount of veggies, nuts, and fish in our diet.  We bought a mediterranean cookbook and are now working to eat more fresh, plant-based meals.  We’ve also (somewhat accidentally) cut back on our meat intake – I just went to the store for this week’s meals and only bought meat for just one recipe.  And you know, we really don’t miss it.  We’ve found that vegetarian meals can be just as dynamic, satisfying, and delicious as their meat-based counterparts, and they are often much healthier (and cheaper!).

This means I’ve been buying a lot more produce lately, and I’m getting into the habit of thinking beyond the painfully boring lunchmeat sandwich when I eat lunch.  One of the great luxuries of summer vacation is that I don’t have to pack a sack lunch – hallelujah!  I despise sitting in the school cafeteria nibbling on my sad little sandwiches, so I’m always trying to bring leftovers or salads as alternatives.  Of course, once in a while I’ll eat cafeteria food too – especially on chicken nugget day.  I may not want to know exactly what kind of “chicken” is in those nuggets, but chicken nugget day is almost as delicious when you are a high school teacher as it is when you are a high school student.  Almost.

But I digress.  Along with continuing to train for a the Plaza 10k in September and trying to focus more of my energy on healthy living (not that I was unhealthy before, really), one of my personal goals for this summer is to make more creative lunches and I couldn’t prep as easily at work.  In both lunch and dinner recipes, I’ve been happy to find lots of recipes that feature lots of my favorite things. I already told you about my love affair with feta cheese, but I’ve also obsessed with chickpeas (they’re so mealy and delicious) in basically anything, and I’ve fallen in love with kale, too.  Jeremy and I both love seafood, and even though we live in Kansas City, sometimes we splurge on the good salmon fillets and whip up a Greek salad to go with them, and as easy as the prep may be, there aren’t many more delicious dinners than that.

So here I am, trying to channel my focus on food into the blog-o-sphere.  I’ve been itching to post SOMETHING about cooking on this newborn site, because I love reading other food blogs, and I’m always inspired by their beautiful photography, design, and creative cooking. I want to develop new recipes or adapt old ones and include them in my posts on this blog, too.  I won’t claim to be a pro, but I’ve gotten to be a pretty good cook and baker in the past few years. So we’ll see where this goes!

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Our Honeymoon in Kauai

Continuing in chronological order, my first travel post will be centered on our Hawaiian honeymoon.  After my family visited Maui when I was sixteen, I knew that I wanted to come back to Hawaii as soon as possible.  Truly, is there anywhere on earth more beautiful?  I recently told Jeremy that when I die, if I’m lucky enough to go to Heaven, it will look like Hawaii.  Sure, maybe I want to visit other landscapes and places (I would miss bustling American cities and quaint European villages), but Hawaii really is heaven on earth.  The weather is always beautiful, and the scenery is just so lush.

When we began planning our honeymoon, we knew a couple of things – first, Hawaii isn’t cheap.  Second, we didn’t want to spend a lot of money.  We got married right out of college, and while we had some savings to put toward the trip, it certainly wasn’t going to be a deeply luxurious affair.  We planned carefully and explored many options, and in the end, we put together a quick but fabulous trip.  We didn’t skimp, but we didn’t splurge too much either.  We planned a wide variety of activities that kept us busy, but we made time to read and sip a couple of poolside cocktails, too.  All in all, it was an ideal honeymoon.  A year and a half (wow!) later, here’s my recap:

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September 20, 2013

The purpose of this blog is to document my life, so I suppose it makes sense to begin by documenting the biggest day of my life thus far.  Our wedding was on a perfect, late-summer day and we were blessed to share this day with so many of our beloved family and friends. Even though our days as true ‘newlyweds’ are probably numbered, I still find myself thinking about our wedding often – what a happy day it was.

We were married at my husband’s family’s church – Christ Church, in Overland Park, KS – and celebrated with a reception at the Lenexa Conference Center (which has a very nondescript name but is a beautiful event space, both rustic and modern, in a refurbished barn).  Our wedding was photographed by Steven Michael Photo, and we will always treasure the beautiful images that day.

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