I'm having such a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that today I am 27 years old (late twenties?!). I know everyone says this but I still feel like a kid myself! Looking back, I feel like I treated my 26th year as my "last hoorah". It was my first time having my own place since an apartment back in college and I pretty much did whatever I wanted which was so nice, but also probably a little irresponsible ;-)

I want 27 to be my "grown up year" so I decided to set some goals for myself both for fun and to better myself.

1. Do a complete wardrobe overhaul. I seriously need to weed through my closets and dressers (yes, multiple) to weed through items that are over worn, super old, or out of style. I have stuff from high school in there, yikes! And a few lonely shoes that little miss Ivy may have chewed on . . . A side goal here is to start investing in nicer pieces and do a better job at keeping them in good condition.

2. Run a 5K. My workout regimen has been spotty at best, so I think training for a race with my friend Daphne will kick my butt into gear.

3. Visit NYC. We are the furthest thing from city people, but I'd love to do a romantic weekend with my husband in New York City. While we were in AC for the comedy show a waiter told us about a little spot where comedians both big and small, will randomly show up and put on shows.

4. Learn to sew. I know the basics of sewing, but I'm terrible at it and I'd love to start doing some little projects on my own...without my mom or Ben finishing or fixing them for me ;-)

5. Make my own pasta. Ben brought home a pasta maker from work and although we try not to eat a ton of carbs, I want to try and make pumpkin and sage ravioli in the Fall.

6. Train Ivy on an agility course. This is a fun one for the whole family. Ivy is so, so smart and I know with a little training she would love to play on an agility course that we can keep in the basement for when we're stuck inside all winter.

7. Continue practicing my French. I downloaded Duolingo a couple weeks back and it's amazing how much I've been retaining. I hope to continue learning and hopefully be able to hold a simple conversation with my friend Marie-Pier one day!

The very best thing about this birthday is being able to share it with this little one. We received some of her old records and discovered her actual birthday is one day after mine! We celebrated with a little peanut butter last night ;-)


Sunday Saucin'

I have been a canning maniac these last few weeks! So far I've done spicy banana peppers, whole peeled tomatoes and for this post, tomato sauce! This is a great tutorial for those of you who are new to hot water canning.
  • Wash the tomatoes
  • Cut out the stems
  • Blanch the tomatoes
  • Remove the skins
  • Quarter 'maters (optional: remove seeds)
  • Cook tomatoes down on high heat, continuously mashing with a potato masher to release juices
  • When cooked down as far as they'll go, remove from heat and let cool
  • Blend until smooth (optional. I wanted a smooth sauce this round) (Warning: WILL EXPLODE your blender if the liquid is too hot)
  • Return to pot and add seasonings (salt, pepper, basil, oregano and raw sugar to taste). Bring to a boil.
  • While you are heating the tomatoes back up, place mason jars in a large pot of water, covering all the way and bring to a boil. 
  • Remove jars, fill with hot sauce mixture, and seal immediately. Leave about an inch of space for expansion.
  • Return to hot water bath and simmer for thirty minutes*. 
  • Pull from hot water bath and let cool. You'll hear the lids "pop" and that's how you know they're securely sealed. Store in a cool, dark space.
*We didn't return the filled jars to the bath the first time we canned tomatoes so we had to use that sauce within a week. Lesson learned!***


This is definitely a long Sunday afternoon activity and it gets quite messy. For the diced tomatoes, it was nice because I didn't need to cook them down - just blanch them, peel the skins, dice and water treat them. 

Currently, we're keeping all our creations in our pantry (stairway to basement) because it's dark and cool. 

spicy banana peppers
 Are you canning produce this summer?

Don't forget to check out this page if you're interested in even more posts about our homesteading practices!


An update here, and update there

All I wanted to do this weekend was be in my house. Is that weird? I feel like we spend so much time at work and out with friends that on the weekends I love to take a day or two to just nest and putter around with projects. Ben was away at his brother's bachelor party all weekend so I got to do just that!

I managed to get our new (to us) couch in the door and my old one out . . .

no puppies allowed!
Paint this hand me down cabinet a deep, rich blue (we had way too many contrasting wood tones going on in the living room). 


And I got to spend one of the days thrifting with my friend, Leah. She got an awesome patio chair for her new house and I scored this retro clock along with some fun, wedding decor for Jen and Josh.

My not so fun project included taking down all the outlet faces in our kitchen and scrubbing our tile within an inch of its' life so we can paint it. Eeeeep, any takers to help me?!

Have you done any house projects lately?


The Kitchen Plans

I have a sneaking suspicion that this blog is going to take a turn into DIY land over the colder months.  I had initially planned to conquer the bathroom, however the more I thought about it, I decided since I spend most of my time in the kitchen (and even more in the winter!), so my efforts would be better appreciated in there. 

Let's take a walk around my tiny kitchen and talk updates!

<< yep, still no pictures in most of those frames
First thing's first, I need to replace the tiles I was randomly chipping off when I thought we'd rip the tile out. Typical get-ahead-of-yourself-Heather, but hey! You live and you learn. B brought up the idea of painting the tile the other night and I've been obsessively reading tutorials ever since. He's on his brother's bachelor party this weekend so you know what I'll be up to . . .

This is the picture that seriously smacked me upside the head with a vision and got this kitchen ball rolling. The white tile. The navy lower cabinets (hello dogs, spills and future toddlers!) and the modern, sort-of-nautical fixtures.

Beautiful #kitchen dark blue cabinets bottom and white top

Like the kitchen of my dreams above, our plan for countertops is to go white (but maybe with some gray swirled in there?).  Laminate because, budget.

 Onto flooring. Our floors are actually in terrific condition minus this little split you see below.

However, I'd loooove to do something like this someday:

Herringbone porcelain tiles for the floor - maybe with darker grout
As for lighting, I want to replace this big honker with 3-4 recessed lights, possibly on a dimmer if it's doable. This low hanging light doesn't give off much brightness and it makes my already small, warm kitchen feel even hotter. 

So, there you have it! Paint the tile, paint the cabinets, and eventually replace the flooring, counter tops and lighting -- no big deal, right? ;-) One thing at a time!

ALSO! Before I forget, you see in the last picture with the light, that the wood extends from the upper cabinets to the ceiling? Are we thinking I paint that white to match the upper cabinets or rip it out? Maybe paint it a completely different accent color? All opinions are welcome!


Homesteading // Preparing for Winter

Last weekend we rushed home from Lancaster to help my family split wood from a fallen tree at my grandparents' house. When my mom-mom told me we could take as much as we needed, I jumped on the chance to help out.

Our oil heating bill was outrageous last winter so this year we're taking some strides to really lower it. First, we're obviously planning to use our fireplace for our primary source of heat. We need to keep some low oil heat on during the day so the pipes don't freeze but at night, we plan to bundle up fireside.

All this wood still needs to be split into smaller, more manageable logs, but it's a start! We put it right on our patio because I didn't want to A) kill our grass and B) trek all the way across my yard when there's two feet of snow on the ground (we're praying for minimal snow this year though!).

We're also sealing our windows with this stuff to keep the draft out. Our windows are really old and I'm getting a quote to update them this weekend, but if the prices are anything close to what I've researched, then we'll be relying on this method over the winter.

M-D Building Products 0.5-in x 10-ft Gray Closed-Cell Foam Window Weatherstrip

How are your preparing your home for the colder months? 

Any tips for weather proofing or lowering our energy bill?

Thursday Afternoon Randomness

I have absolutely no focus today, so there's that. My brain is chasing butterflies if you will. So! Random musings and thoughts that my big ole brain wants to tell you . . .

++ When buying wine last week, I offhandedly mentioned it was for a girls' night (because when you're buying that much wine on a Tuesday, you should probably have some sort of excuse) and the cashier says excitedly (with hand motions), "turn down for WHAT". You're invited to girls' night, sir. Also, what does turn down for what mean?

++ We tried out a new church last week (success!) and I only dropped my birth control pack twice out of my purse while sitting in the pews. We still got aggressively "peace be with you'd" from everyone around us, though so I think we're all good.

++ I want Fall to be here and I don't care who knows it! In the same vein, I need these boots.

And this Halloween get up for Ivy:

with non toxic, doggy-specific paint of course ;-) 


New Series! Homesteading

In an effort to be more self-reliant by using everything from our gardens, I decided to can sauerkraut this weekend. When I started my garden I thought I'd be lucky if I managed to dry my herbs and can tomato sauce (tomatoes are coming in so watch our for that post!!).

Drying my herbs turned out so much easier than expected and since I'm still waiting on the tomatoes, I thought I'd try my hand at jarring something else in the interim- sauerkraut! We LOVE sauerkraut in this house. I always forget to make dinners that use it because the stuff in the store in always down one of the aisles I don't usually go through - canned fruits and vegetables. Yuck.

With all these domestic activities swirling around in my brain, I thought it'd be fun to do a "homesteading" series here on the blog to document it all. 21st century homesteading can be summed it with the following practices:

1. Grow your own food -- I'd say we didn't do too bad for my first year of having a garden. It was a learning experience and I definitely plan to change things up next year and expand. 

2. Alternative energy resources -- 
  • Although we don't have a windmill in our yard or anything, we've seriously cut back on our A/C usage
  • We have about two cords of wood stacked in our backyard for fires this winter. We want to cut way back on our oil consumption this winter.
  • I'm actively seeking quotes for new windows to help lower our energy bills.
3. Farm animals -- 
  • My brother started raising chickens (free local, eggs!). 
  • This winter I plan to buy bulk-buy local, organic beef and chicken and freeze it. Also, lots of venison!
4. Waste Reduction -- 
  • We use our neighbor's compost bin for all of our fruit and veggie scraps
  • We recycle religiously, but I plan to cut waaaaay back on our plastic use. Canning everything will help! And I also want to start burning all of our paper recyclables. 
5. Use Alternative Transportation -- 
  • Fail. We're a two car family and we both drive to and from work. We do however, rarely drive separately for other activities.
6. Live Simply
  • This is a whole other post, but I want to declutter our home by going through both of our wardrobes, our electronics/media collection, and simply get rid of anything we're not using. 
7. Collect Rainwater -- I'm inheriting a rain barrel from my grandparents so we can water our gardens using that water rather than our township water!

8. Work at Home -- We wish! ;-) 

9. Be a Good Neighbor -- We regularly chat with our neighbors and I try and remember to check on them even when the weather doesn't have us outside all the time. We swap lots of produce and baked goods with them and I generally feel like we have a great little group of "community". 

10. DIY -- We try and do almost everything by ourselves in and around our house so I'd say we're winning at this one. 

Do you perform any homesteading practices?

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