His and Hers Printable Triathlon Checklists

A couple of weekends ago, when I completed the Towne Lake Triathlon in Cypress, Texas, Mark came along to cheer me on. He’s done ten marathons since we first began dating, and as long as I wasn’t participating in another way, I cheered him on during his race. I’ve signed up for less races, but he’s always my number one fan, too.

After Towne Lake Tri, Mark seemed a little off. I was so excited to be getting over my open water fears, and had already planned on getting in two more races before the season was over in a few short weeks. When I told him my plans, he was frank: Continue reading

Our First Home: Before and After

It’s happening! We accepted an offer on our home and as of today, we are under contract. Knowing that in less than a month’s time, we’ll be saying goodbye to our old home and hello to New England, I’m feeling all of the nostalgic feels.

We bought this house in late 2011 as our first place as a family. We had been looking for a couple of weeks, with no luck, when it was listed as a foreclosure. The day it was listed, I saw it. (Without an email alert. I was lurking that hard.) It didn’t have any photos listed yet, but I read the stats and was so excited it had a POOL(!) for my triathlon training that we went and saw it in person that very day.

It wasn’t all that pretty.

Home Outside Before - home before and after

But I walked in, and I knew. I hadn’t seen pictures, I hadn’t seen the rest of the house, but I remember walking in the front door and thinking it was perfect. Woman’s intuition. (Or maybe I just really wanted that pool.)

It had been uninhabited for over a year, and neglected for some time before that. We had a lot of initial work done to it, and we moved in, all three of us, in February 2012. Over nearly four years, we poured love into this house and filled it with joy, memories, and laughter.

Oreta Place After Scroll through the photos of the evolution of that old foreclosure to our first home, and click on the photos to enlarge. Continue reading

Make your own Glitter Party Banner DIY (with Free Printables!)

I’ve been doing tons of tiny projects for my mini kitchen makeover. No new cabinets or anything too fancy-mostly just a fresh coat of paint on many of the items in there. More about that later!

I took a break from that to do this Glitter Banner DIY.

I’ve been seeing a lot of these old-school style foil banners around the web & I think they’re just the cutest! They remind me of my birthdays growing up, but with clever little sayings.

Urban Outfitters is even selling a little kit to put one together yourself.

But it only comes in black!

After scouring Pinterest and going through a plethora of those same ol’ boring flag banners, I only came up with one on how to post for traditional foil banners, by Parrish Platz. She did most of the hard work for me (thank you!!) by posting what looks like a scanned photo of the tabbed letters (it was so hard finding a font that was similar, even without the tabs) but the image wasn’t ready for printing-it looks as if it was scanned on square paper, it was a jpeg with tons of slight color variations that would do some major damage to my photo printer ink, and the letters were past the printable area of the page.

I did some quick switch-a-roos on Photoshop, made some PDF printables, cut ’em out, put ’em together, and I really like the results!  Continue reading

A Little Bit of Lovin’ & A Valentine’s Day Feast

Valentine’s day is one of my favorite days of the year, second only to Halloween. I had quite a few tricks up my sleeves this year, and a lot of projects I wanted to do!

Alison’s Cookie Party

I bit the bullet and bought #alisonscookieparty to find out how to make her awesome sugar cookies. I was reluctant at first. With all of the recipes that are available on the web, why should I pay $30 for an online course? But I continued to follow The Alison Show on Instagram, so I kept seeing one adorably decorated cookie after another and her super-cool, upbeat personality on my feed. The e-tutorial eventually went on sale for $5 off, and I was finally just like, “Take my money already!”

I was sure it would end up another Pinterest fail (I have a history) but they were so simple and they turned out great! My only tip is to not be afraid to let your royal icing be more runny. I started out with it very stiff and was so reluctant to add the additional liquid that my first few decorations were frustrating. After perusing the hashtag on instagram, I noticed that many others likely ran into this same issue.

Here are the results:conversation heart cookies conversation heart cookies

funny conversation heart cookies

Blue is for Mark, because he married me :); Green is for me, because I was finished with my week 4 cleanse for 40 days

I used a new set of typewriter letter stamps bought from the gift aisle of Target and colored them with edible marker to place letters on the cookie. Totally Alison’s idea, I’ll take no credit!

Nearly all of those went to school with my son on Friday, along with his (very cute) handmade valentines.

valentine's day & beef wellington (1 of 9)

Beef Wellington

Several weeks ago, Mark stumbled upon a Beef Wellington Recipe from Alton Brown. It’s his favorite dish, made buy our favorite celebrity chef. The ingredients were very expensive, so I see why I haven’t had it before and why we haven’t been able to find a Houston restaurant that serves it. We subbed the pate de foie gras for a pate of goose liver/pork that I found at Central Market. It was a $7 vs $85 situation, so the decision was simple. Mark did most of the work, and it turned out great!

valentine's day & beef wellington (6 of 9)valentine's day & beef wellington (7 of 9)valentine's day & beef wellington (8 of 9)

The History Behind our Dessert

Mark made dinner, so I made dessert. I had pinned a recipe for Jack and Cola Bread Pudding with Ice Cream YEARS ago, and had been itching, now that I’m finally actually cooking, to make it for him.

When Mark and I first met, it was at a little hole-in-the-wall where I used to tend bar. He and his best friend, who he lived next door to at the time, would frequent the place and often order the same thing. I’d see their faces and say, “Jack and Diet?”

The place was small and customers where few and far between, so we had plenty of time to get to know each other. One day, his friend said, “You know, ever since you played cards with Mark, he’s been totally obsessed with you.” But I was a bartender, and people get obsessed with bartenders–they’re feeding you booze and telling you what you want to hear 98% of the time–it’s no big deal. I brushed it off.

I stopped working at the bar and moved on to other things, but six months later I started running into him at the gym frequently. We were both training for marathons, and he had lost 50 pounds. FIFTY POUNDS! I had never met someone who had overcome such a feat. I was impressed, but it wasn’t until over a year later that he’d ask me on a date and I’d accept. The rest is history, but it all started with a little jack and cola.

Jack and Coke Bread Pudding with Ice Cream

Let me just say, this recipe is flippin’ delicious. The best bread pudding I’ve ever had and what my husband called, “the best thing you’ve ever made.”

Be forewarned: The Jack Daniels makes it nearly IMPOSSIBLE to get the ice cream to freeze. It’s a day later and we keep refreezing our ice cream maker core to get it to finally be the right ice cream consistency. Maybe it’s our ice cream maker, who knows. But the flavors are ON POINT and last night I just drizzled the ice cream base + the cola reduction on top. DELICIOUS!

jack and coke bread pudding

How was your Valentine’s Day? Did you cook anything delicious?

Homemade Sushi in Houston: No Class Required!

I’ve failed to mention it thus far, but Mark and I have our honeymoon booked. We’re heading out to visit his father and extended family in Manila and a couple of other Philippine Islands, but on the way we’re stopping for five days in Kyoto, Japan.

In my research for things to do in Japan, I found classes on how to make sushi. It seemed like an awesome idea: I’d learn how to make it the legit way, from REAL Japanese people. How cool, right?! But come to find out, I don’t need a class at all. And neither do you! We have resources here in Houston, and it is SO simple to make sushi, the hardest part is stepping out of your comfort zone. Continue reading

Elopement Announcements

As I mentioned in my post about new year’s resolutions, I really enjoyed making our elopement announcements! Whenever we travel somewhere new, I always buy two postcards. Two, because it’s hard to pick just one and they’re the cheapest souvenirs around so I can justify it. I figure there’ll be more than one way I’ll want to commemorate all these good times.

When we decided that we were going to elope to the palm desert in California, I thought it’d be super cool to keep it a secret then make an announcement after-the-fact by sending out “postcards” to our family. I cringed at the thought of my nearest and dearest learning about the elopement via Facebook. (If you hadn’t been on my received texts on the phone I’ve had for the last year, I didn’t ask for your address, and Facebook’s how you found out, Sorry! Let’s keep in better touch!)

After searching Etsy high and low for what I had dreamed up, I wasn’t finding any luck. But what I did find was this snazzy little POST CARD stamp at The Paper Source. HELLO, INSPIRATION.

DIY Post Card announcements

Continue reading

Last Minute Yogi Bear Costume

Every year, Tobias decides what he wants to be for Halloween, then I decide how it can be made, along with what costumes Mark, Laser, and I will be to go along. This year, I wasn’t a big fan of the costume that I’m wearing…it’s pretty cheesy, but it’s just so suitable for his costume.

When I heard that my yoga studio was going to have a costume contest, I was torn! I wanted to go but I was really planning on only wearing that costume trick or treating…

So, I made a last minute decision to make a second costume. It had to be comfortable enough to do yoga in, and I realized I hadn’t picked my own costume in years! Last night, I made everything for it and did a trial for my hair and make-up. I was going to wait until tonight when I have final/better look/makeup to post, but I’m just too excited! If I don’t put it on here I’ll post it somewhere else! Continue reading