Have you EVER? I mean look at those ruffles!!
Some of you have asked how my “unbusiness” is going. The answer: GREAT. I’m getting to do so many things for other people that I LOVE doing. Photography, designing, cooking. It’s been so relaxing and so wonderful.
And I’m still getting my creative fix in a major way. About a month ago I got to point my camera at one of the sweetest little girls I know. She’s growing and changing so fast now; her little features and personality are coming out in full force. And I can very surely say she’s an absolute doll.
And girlfriend has got a wardrobe to die for. Mama and Grandma and Aunties sure know how to make girl look good!
I’m still so glad that I decided to take a step back and slow down. I’m getting to do things like shoot for my friends, edit on my own timeline, and enjoy every moment of new learning. I may not be getting as much practice as I was during the last half of last year, but I’m so much more intentional about what I’m doing and it feels so much better.
This sweet girl will be turning one very soon and I’m so thankful I got to take her 9 month shots. This week I’ve also been helping her Mama with some paper goods and invitations for her big party. What fun! Just the type of project I’m so happy to have at the moment.
This post isn’t really about anything at all. Just some Sunday sweetness that I happened to snap this morning. We’ve had a wonderful and mostly calm weekend without any illness! Sharing happened. A date happened. Running happened. A major bathroom update is currently happening, and a bike ride around the block is on the agenda this afternoon.
Nothing overly exciting or particularly eventful. Just the kind of weekend we needed.
We’re still going strong on the 365 Project. Dare I say it’s a habit? I’m terrible at follow through people. This is MAJOR.
As I mentioned at the end of January/beginning of February, I’m so ready for sick season to be over. I thought for sure after the month we had in January with the ear infections and sinus infections and general post-holiday blues, February had to be better.
I thought wrong. The stomach virus/norovirus/devil’s curse slooooowly worked it’s way through our house. It started with Little Zoom and quickly moved to Big Zoom the first weekend of the month. We thought we were in the clear and it took Mr. Zoom down the following weekend. After two weekends of pure illness with slow recovery days in between, I thought I was pretty much invincible. And then the third weekend I fell victim. It was most unpleasant I must say. We’re winding down yet another ear infection (Little Zoom) and a batch of head colds, but I’m hopeful that will be the end of it. Fingers crossed everyone!
In other news. I’m still off of Facebook and I’m thinking it’s going to become permanent thing. Like for the whole entire year. I don’t even miss it all. Not even one little bit. I’ve been emailing people. Like long detailed emails. And connecting via text message which is not as good as on the phone or in person, but certainly better than anonymously through Facebook. The only thing I will say I’d like to be seeing is updates from my favorite small businesses. I’ve mostly started following them, and a few new ones, on Instagram. My Bloglovin account is totally organized and up to speed so I’m still getting updates on my favorite blogs, but I really do think Facebook is a powerful tool for small business and wish I could participate in that aspect of it without having to have a personal page.
We’re head over heels about March in the Zoom house. St. Patrick’s day is celebrated all month long and it’s already started with loaves of soda bread and boozy beer dinner recipes. Looking ahead this month I’ll be featuring some yummy recipes, some fun crafts, and some crazy stories about our dear old Ireland. I hope you’ll join me!
I’ve always loved meatloaf. I’m not entirely sure why. I know we ate it growing up but it wasn’t anything memorable (sorry Mom).
Apologies for the raw meat shot. Kind of weird, but I think it’s gorgeous.
I was reacquainted with the odd loaf during college, my roommate made a killer version glazed with BBQ sauce. Something totally new and totally delicious to me. When Mr. Zoom and I moved in together, I started cooking much more substantial meals and on a more regular basis. I’m pretty sure the first time I made him a meatloaf was after we were married and we’d moved back to the states. I’m still not sure meatloaf (like we know it) exists in Ireland.
That meatloaf was the one the recipe I used for years. Made with turkey and chock full of delicious minced veggies, it was a little untraditional. Just the way I like things. I was researching recipes a few weeks ago and came across Ina Garten’s 1770 House Meatloaf and after reading the raves & reviews I knew I wanted to try it. Apparently this is Ina’s favorite meatloaf, served at 1770 House in East Hampton (wouldn’t you just love to go there!).
And if it’s Ina’s favorite, it’s pretty much my favorite. So away we all went to the kitchen to prepare and photograph this meatloaf. I’m so loving that blog recipe testing is becoming a family affair.
This kicker for this meatloaf is the glaze. A deliciously garlicky buttery sauce which I recommend doubling. It’s that good my friends. One “serving” per person isn’t going to cut it. We were practically licking the bowl when it was gone, and had to top our leftovers with ketchup the next day.
If you are at all into meatloaf (stand proud, don’t be shy), you’ll want to give this one a shot. The recipe is quite easy and comes together quickly. We subbed out the minced veal (I mean really) for additional portions of the beef and pork and it was delicious. Serve alongside some glazed carrots and wild rice and Sunday dinner is ready to go.
Grab Ina Garten’s 1770 House Meatloaf recipe here. And do let me know how it measures up to your mother/grandmother/great aunt’s family recipe! I’d love to hear!
This little guy. I tell you what. He’s giving us a run for our money over here.
Sure, I know he’s pretty stinking cute. He’s got a giant little belly, a sweet sweet laugh, and he rests his head on your shoulder for no apparent reason at all. But this 18 month old thing, it’s been rough on our little family. It’s entirely possible that I’ve totally forgotten what an 18 month old is like, or rather, I never noticed at all. Little Zoom was just 8 weeks when Big Zoom was this age, and I was in the throes of sleepless nights, nap scheduling, and preparing for a trip to Seattle for Christmas. We’ve got molars coming in (as they have been for the last 6 months), squeals and screams instead of words, and a little guy who’s just desperate to keep up with his Big Brother. Our world goes from this,
and back to this,
in the space of mere seconds.
Little Zoom is slow to speak, as was his brother, and the frustration in his tiny little body is growing and growing by the day. In an effort to make his needs known over the constant jabber and commotion his brother creates, screams and squeals erupt often. We’ve decided we need to make a concerted effort to help him communicate better, for our own sanity and so we’ll still have friendly neighbors when this is all over with. We’ve begun spending some more focused one on one time helping Little Zoom to learn the simple words he should be using at this point. “No” and “help” and “more” will go a long way in helping us to understand what he wants and needs and will help him feel like he’s a bit more in control of his surroundings.
As hard as the last few months have been each day we learn and settle in a little bit more. Just last night, as we were all sitting in a restaurant for dinner (this NEVER happens, except at Chick-fil-A for lunch on a rare occasion), and the boys were happily noshing on their macaroni and french fries Mr. Zoom and I looked to each other and said “Could this be? Is this really getting easier?” We smiled at our sweet boys, surprised at their nondestructive behavior and both nodded in agreement. We drove home all smiles, dancing and singing to the ABC’s and pointing out construction vehicles like we always do. A success.
And then they both pooped in the bathtub.
We have several kids with allergies in the class, so sweet treats were to be kept at a minimum.
Have I mentioned my love of Pinterest? I have no shame in using (stealing) ideas I find online. Frankly, I’m just delighted someone finally figured out a way to curate creative ideas into one spot so I can steal them more easily! I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Creative thinking isn’t my strongest suit. Copying to a T is. But, always remember to give credit where credit is due. Sharing is caring folks and I’m so grateful for all those who share their ideas online for others to re-create!
Hope you are having a lovely heart day. We’ll be working on these to celebrate with this afternoon!
You might remember our Pancake Tuesday celebration from last year filled with fluffy pancakes and ooey gooey maple syrup. Pancake Tuesday American style, if you will.
This year, we changed things up a bit. You see, Mr. Zoom, isn’t a terribly big fan of American pancakes. Gigantic, fluffy, and doused in sticky syrup isn’t really his thing. I never understood it really. I mean why wouldn’t you want the biggest disc of flour served to you with a side of straight lard and then covered in sugar?
I’ve always loved Pancake Tuesday, but then I’m a sucker for tradition. I was introduced to this day while living in Ireland and spent my first at Mr. Zoom’s mother’s home. A plate of piping hot, perfectly folded, delicate pancakes was served to me with a side of lemon juice and a small bowl of pure sugar. A bit confused, I watched Mr. Zoom sprinkle his cake with both sugar and lemon juice, roll it up, and then pop it into his mouth. I followed suit and was suitable impressed.
A thin pancake. Who’d have thought?
When we moved back to the States, I tried to recreate his mother’s pancake with a box of Bisquick. And then a box of Krusteaz. Let me just tell you that big, fluffly, from the box pancakes cannot adequately handle a sprinkle of lemon and sugar as a topping. We tried. I’m not sure what took me so long, but this year I set about making serious, Irish style pancakes. I think the rest of the world might call them crepes, but hang with me here.
They were delicious. Light and delicate, they were a perfect vehicle for the sweet citrus topping we covered them in. So where do we go from here? I’m thinking Nutella, peanut butter, ham and gruyere, asparagus and a mushroom cream sauce…the possibilites are endless.
But so long as it’s Pancake Tuesday, it will always be lemon and sugar.
Irish Style Pancakes with Lemon and Sugar
Makes 15 smallish pancakes
4 large eggs
1 cup whole milk (just do it)
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
Additional melted butter
Fresh lemon juice
You could probably do this in a bowl, but I like to make pancake batter in the blender for easier pouring. Mix eggs, milk, butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a blender. Slowly add flour and mix until combined. Let stand for 10-15 minutes to thicken. Heat skillet over medium high heat and brush with melted butter. Pour batter into pan and swirl to make a thin pancake. Flip. These will cook pretty quickly, about 1 minute per side.
We fold ours into fourths and keep them warm in a 350 degree oven while cooking all the batter. Serve with a sprinkle of lemon and sugar table side.
Mr. Zoom and I aren’t big on exchanging Valentie’s gifts. I usually make a yummy steak and blue cheese wedge salad for dinner and we light some candles and have a few drinks at home. We don’t got out for dinner very often, and staying in on Valentine’s Day has always been fun and silly and perfect for us.
Last year when planning our at- home date we both agreed, as we always do, that we wouldn’t exchange gifts or flowers or chocolates or ANYTHING. Naturally, I ran straight to Target and picked out three Valentines cards for Mr. Zoom; one from me, one from Big Zoom, and one from Little Zoom.
When Love Day rolled around, I had three perfectly crimson cards lined up, signed and sealed for Mr. Zoom to open when he arrived home from work. He opened his cards, somewhat sheepishly, and when he’d finished reading the sweet sentiments I’d scribbled inside, he admitted that he had no card for me. We weren’t after all, exchanging anything.
We both learned a couple of things that evening. Exchanging nothing, in literal terms means, exchanging nothing. And, cards are required on special occasions. Mr. Zoom has been reminded, on several occasions about the card thing this year.
So in an effort to make merry this Valentine’s Day I’ve created three FREE printable Valentine’s cards for you. No need to run to Target. No need to make your ahem, wife, cry hysterically and overreact. Just print one of these out and deliver with a smile. You’re welcome.
So, back to that
Pinterst Superbowl party we discussed last week. I hope you enjoyed the fancy photos that accompanied the fancy Brie Bites. Those yummies were my sweet addition to the spread. And, of course, with sweet comes savory. Or before sweet comes savory. Or whatever. Sweet and savory must be paired together. Think chocolate covered pretzels. Perfection.
I threw this awkward little baseball theme party one time when we first moved to North Carolina. We’d just moved from Ireland and lived across the street from the Durham Bulls baseball stadium in an old converted tobacco warehouse. I’d made one “sort-of” friend, a girl I met at the dog park who liked to run, and we sort of started running together a couple times a week and meeting at the dog park with our pooches. See how awkward this is already? Making friends in your mid-twenties in a new city is HARD people. Anyways, we sort of planned to go a Durham Bulls baseball game one night to introduce our husbands and then she said she wanted to invite a few other couples and since we lived right across from the stadium, I suggested everyone meet at our house for a few beers and snacks beforehand.
In keeping with the baseball theme, I had made some homemade corndogs, carmel popcorn, soft pretzels, and a pretty killer blue cheese dip. Mr. Zoom had the entire refrigerator full of beer. Yummy food and yummy beer. A perfect party in our minds. It should be noted that I’d just found out (like 3 days prior, on a Wednesday) that I was pregnant (like 4.2 weeks along-PSYCHO) with Big Zoom and was mildly (extremely) paranoid and freaked out and anxious about my “condition”. I mean, I took 5 tests.
The guests arrived promptly and for some reason I went into a complete tizzy. I was nervous and fumbling my words and translating Mr. Zoom’s Irish accent (unnecessarily) for our new best friends. I offered my “friend” the only person of the crowd I’d actually met before, a Gin and Tonic and in trying to conceal the fact that I was making hers WITH alcohol and mine WITHOUT, babbled on and on about who knows what and forgot which was which. I ended up with the boozy beverage and she probably thought I was a wimpy cocktail maker.
Long story short, we left after the 7th inning because I was exhausted from my “condition” and the complete tizzy I’d worked myself into preparing for the party. It’s silly what we do to make an impression sometimes, huh?
I’ll tell ya one thing though. The blasted corn dogs were amazing. Recreating them for the Superbowl party last weekend was a no brainer and I was happy to be sharing them with people we’ve become good friends with here in North Carolina….like we’ve actually met them before and stuff.
Beer Battered Corn Dogs
(makes about 20 dogs)
Canola Oil for frying
1 cup flour + a bit extra for dusting
2/3 cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 bottle of beer (I used Blue Moon)
10-12 hot dogs, cut in half
24 wooden skewers or toothpicks (they make shorter kabob skewers now, I used those)
In a heavy bottom pot heat 4-5 inches of oil over medium heat until thermometer reaches 350 degrees. Adjust heat to maintain temperature.
Meanwhile, in a bowl combine 1 cup flour, cornmeal, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and stir together. Then add egg and 1/4 bottle of beer. Mix until a fairly think batter forms (sort of like pancake batter). Add more beer of necessary, mine needed 1/2 of a bottle. Pour the batter into a tall coffee mug f0r easy dipping.
Cut dogs in half and prepare by inserting a toothpick or skewer about 1/2 way into the dog.
Dredge the hotdogs in remaining bit of flour and shake to remove excess. Dip dogs into the batter and coat thoroughly. Drop dogs into hot oil and fry 2-4 minutes or until golden brown. I did 2 at a time. Remove from oil with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towels to dry.
Serve with ketchup and mustard!
So, if you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen me post some fun design-y + photograph-y type stuff over the past couple of weeks. Mainly of sweet kids or fabrics or business cards.
I have this friend and she’s pretty crafty with the old sewing machine. Well, actually, hers is new and fancy and shiny. Her name is Raedene Averitt, and she’s the owner of Chasing Mermaids Boutique. She makes incredibly cute clothes for kids in the seasons latest fabric fashions and trends.
I’ve technically been working with Raedene since last summer, on an ad hoc basis, photographing things for her here and there and helping with design things for her shop. Towards the latter part of 2012, her business skyrocketed and she began getting order after order after order. Feeling the need to streamline her business, as well as spice up her Facebook page and Etsy shop, she asked if I’d be interested in assisting her with a multitude of behind the scenes bits and bobs.
I was pretty excited. See the thing is, I’m a terribly good assistant. I love to organize. I love to-do lists. I love the behind the scenes. I’m good at taking direction. I don’t get offended if criticism is delivered respectfully and kindly and I genuinely ADORE small business. I don’t have the time or talent (yet) to have a business to call my own, so for the time being assisting someone who’s doing something I really admire…does it get any better?
A month or so in, and I think we’re in a good groove. I’m taking pictures and designing enclosure cards and being all technical in Big Cartel and I’m loving it. It’s just enough to stimulate my brain, but not so much that I’m ignoring my kids and pulling my hair out from stress (a resolution if you’ll remember).
Hop on over to her Facebook page for all the latest designs and updates about Flash Sales, Ready to Ship deals, and new fabric combinations. She’s pretty rad, I think. And I’m pretty sure you’ll like her too.