Friday, September 30, 2016

Dear Hudson, a letter to my dog after baby.

Remember when our eyes met for the first time almost five years ago? You were in a cage with so many furry siblings and they were all crying and barking, but not you. You sat so still and you just stared right at me. I never believed in love at first sight, until you came along.

We picked you right up, and you immediately bit my long side braid. We laughed and knew we were in for a treat.

The very first night home with us we put you in the laundry room. I know, I know, you are still holding a grudge about that. Listen. I didn't claim to know it all. I thought that was what we were supposed to do. You were my first dog, you know. You cried for an hour and I cried along side you. I told your dad that I didn't think I could do this and that I must have made a terrible mistake. He pulled me in close, wiped my tears and said, you know the day we bring home our newborn you won't be able to send them back right? We laughed and laughed and I immediately felt better. He has been rooting for you since day one.

We picked you up from the laundry room and made a makeshift bed for you on the floor at the foot of our bed. Again. Sorry about that. I was convinced I had to have boundaries or something crazy like that. You slept the whole night without a peep. You just wanted to be close. I loved you for that. That morning I took too long getting ready and you peed on the makeshift bed we made for you. Day one of showing us who the boss was.

The next week when your dad went out of town for work, I broke all the rules. I pulled your tiny 9 week old 14 pound ball of fluff into bed with me and we never looked back. Actually, as I'm typing these words you are taking up half the bed with your head resting on my legs snoring like a madman. From 14 pounds to 80 in the blink of an eye.

When the weight of the world felt so heavy, you offered a helping paw. When I didn't think I would make it through the first year of marriage, you licked away every salty tear that fell out of my eyes. When I had surgery and had to endure months of the most painful physical therapy I have ever gone through, your sweet and oversized head always found my lap.

People told me I wouldn't know love until I had my first baby. They said, "Oh you think you love him? Just wait". But here we are. 3 weeks into having our "first baby" and they were so wrong. You, my sweet sweet lover dog, are still my favorite boy. 

I know the days aren't quite like they used to be. I see you watching me. Waiting for me. Wondering when we will take our walk or why we aren't snuggling in the mornings like we have done for the last five years. I see you trying your hardest to be a good big brother, even though I know the jealousy is killing you inside. 

But here's the thing, buddy boy. 

It won't always be like this. 

Will you wait for me? With me? 

It may never be just you and me again. And I hope you know that I get sad about that sometimes, too. This newborn stage. Its hard. It's so much harder than anyone every warned me. We are barely surviving. But we are. And I'm giving some of that credit to you. I know you think I can't see you right now. That I am so clouded by this new little life to even notice you. But I see you clearer than I ever have before.

I see you peeking around the corner when baby cries for hours at a time, making sure we're ok.

I see you stealing her toys begging for just a second of attention.

I see you waiting in her teepee looking on while I care for this new, tiny, hairless sister of yours.

I see you run to the door anytime I have an errand to run hoping I will take you with me, and I also see you get so excited when I say the word for you to come with.

I see you trying to find room in my lap when my nerves are paper thin and I don't know if I can make it until 6pm when daddy finally walks through that door.

I see you. I love you. I need you.

Hang with me a little longer, ok buddy? Because I promise you, we are going to make it. Next thing you know, this chick is going to be dropping Gerber Puffs right into your mouth from the highchair and you will see the light at the end of the tunnel more clearly than ever before. :p

I love you, buddy boy. I love you so much. No amount of babies will ever change that. You will always have a place here. And my lap will always have room for your oversized head.

Now meet me outside when baby naps so we can pick up on that great game of fetch we've got going.


Monday, August 29, 2016

Double Chocolate Ganache Covered Macaron Cake

Whew that title is a mouthful, am I right??

Last Wednesday we celebrated Justin's birthday and it was such a special day! He was not too excited about turning 32 so I wanted to do my best to make it special for him. He was working in Long Island for the week at the very last minute and I was so bummed that we wouldn't be able to spend the day together. It ended up working out where he came home at the last minute and took his birthday off of work. We spent the whole day together and it was a day we will never forget!

I planned a scavenger hunt for the birthday boy and left clues around our house and town for him to find all day. I'll blog that another day. We shared so many laughs, it was a memorable birthday!

I wanted to share the cake I made for him and the super delicious recipe I will be adding to my recipe list. My sister in law sent it my way and I'm so glad she did, because it was the best chocolate cake and buttercream frosting I have ever had. Seriously. Although I think I may have made a terrible mistake because Justin may be expecting a homemade cake every year now. :p

I'm also happy to report that this was an original design. So simple, but so pretty! I like it because the ganache and the macarons really made the rookie frosting job not so noticeable. :p The only thing not homemade were the macarons. I picked those pretty little things up at a little slice of heaven known as Wegmans. Best grocery store there ever was.

I didn't take a trendy cake sliced picture because THERE WAS NO TIME. THE CAKE HAD TO BE EATEN AT ONCE! Seriously you guys. Just so good.

So what do you think? Want to give making a birthday cake another try? I'm glad I did. I can't wait to make another one now! 

Best ever chocolate cake recipe found HERE
Best buttercream recipe found HERE
Chocolate Ganache: Chocolate chips & heavy cream warmed on the stove. Let cool until it isn't overly runny (I let the combo sit on the stove with a lid on it for an hour while we were out to dinner, heat off obviously). When I came home it had thickened up a good amount so I very slowly poured it on the cake and let it fall off the sides. It it seems too thick, just rewarm it. 

I may or may not have eaten this cake for breakfast several days in a row last week. ;)

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Banana Zucchini Bread with Cream Cheese Swirl

You guys. We have a groundhog living under our shed. At first I thought it was cute.  Until he started stealing my veggies. Now I daydream about shooting him and throwing him over our fence. I know, I know. That's so cruel. But when you make a raised bed with your own hands and drag 5 VERY HEAVY bags of gardening soil across the Lowe's parking lot and spend an entire day out in the hot sun planting only to come outside and find your goodies have been stolen, well you turn into a crazy person. Don't worry, I won't shoot him. But I am planning to get a trap and take the sucker somewhere very very far away.

So when I came outside and found this in my garden with no teeth marks on it.....

I snatched it up so fast!

Oh and funny story. So much that I do for my blog I don't even think about being weird. Setting up my tripod and taking 3 hours to bake something- compared to a normal person who doesn't document the entire process. Same goes for decorating my front porch seasonally. The neighbors know when my front porch has been changed because Brittaney is out on the front lawn again in every photography position imaginable. :p So anyway, when my husband came home from work and saw my zucchini set up on the counter for a photoshoot I got to see first hand what it looked like to an outsider and it was HILARIOUS. He posted this picture on social media and I laughed for like 10 minutes straight.

So. Back to the zucchini. Do you guys remember that chicken nugget kid? In case you forgot, it was on Wife Swap. He had a crazy obsession with chicken nuggets and his temporary mom was not really cool with it.

Well let's replace chicken nuggets with cream cheese and this is me. Cream cheese. Mmmm. It's like my family. So when I found The Recipe Critic's zucchini bread recipe with cream cheese in the middle I knew I had to try it. And I'm not gonna lie to ya, it did not disappoint.

Gather those ingredients...

Flour those pans....

And mix it like you mean it.

Don't forget to fold in the zucchini!

Would you look at that piping hot loaf? My job here is done.

                                                        Prep Time: 15 minutes
                                                        Cook Time: 60 minutes                                                                                                       
                                                  Recipe  from The Recipe Critic
 *Note- Justin wasn't a fan of this recipe. It was a bit more dense than I thought it would be. I probably won't add it to my recipe book, but I am glad I gave it a shot. If you like a denser bread, this one's for you! I did like it, but am looking forward to trying some other zucchini recipes. I'll report back! ;) 

Friday, August 12, 2016

The One Where Brittaney Graduates

Disclaimer: This is basically just one big fat brag post about Justin. So if you aren't into that kind of thing, run while you can. :p

Lately I've been hearing a lot of talk about how girls want to wait to get married until they have "life figured out" or are done with college, etc. I got married when I was 20. Such a baby! But boy am I so glad I did. Justin was with me through some of the hardest days of my life. Some of the toughest days in my college career. I remember once sobbing after pulling an all nighter and being so worried I would fail a big test, I was at such a low point. I was sad and scared and so over school at that point. Justin literally grabbed me and let me cry it out, and then made me get dressed and took me out for mandatory ice cream and a walk around the park. It's stuff like that I just don't think I could have made it without.

Last Saturday I graduated with my B.S. in Healthcare Administration. I was so excited but you know who was even more excited than me?


When we flew into Florida on Wednesday he drove me straight to my all of my favorite places and we crammed in the most fun day date we have had in a long time. In four hours we managed to fit in: Zaxby's, The Mall at Millenia, Krispy Kreme, mani/pedi's and Target (you know, just for the heck of it).

So fast forward to graduation day and I had no idea how much fun he had planned for me until I woke up that Saturday morning. I grumbled that I needed to keep sleeping and he was practically dragging me out of bed so excited to get the day going. He had this little display set up and was beaming from ear to ear. That's when I knew, today was going to be a good one.

Don't laugh, I'm a sucker for Mickey D's hot cakes. :p

I was super nervous at this point so I got down what I could and went to get ready. Then I realized I lost one of my most important camera lenses, so Justin decided to drive to all these different stores trying to find one at the last minute. And then wouldn't you know it, he never ended up using it anyway. *Insert rolling eye emoji here*

Here are some of my favorite pictures he captured from the day:

I looked so hard to find Justin and his parents in a sea of thousands of proud family members!! It makes me smile that he captured that.
Found them! And off to walk that stage!
 I had my phone in my skirt pocket and got this text as soon as I got off the stage. Pure sweetness.

I gotta tell you. There are few moments in life as special as this. Weddings, babies, graduations. Hang on to them so tight. Because they are truly the moments in life you never ever want to forget.

After gradation I requested 4Rivers because we couldn't be in Florida without scarfing down some BBQ amirite????

And Justin had a little surprise waiting for me in the restaurant display case. The sweetest graduation cake I've ever seen!

YEP that's me ugly cryin it up. I wish someone would have snagged a video because this moment was so priceless. 

Look at those red eyes! Worth it!!

Honest to God, best day of my life. We were laying in bed that night and I told Justin he literally made this the best day of my life and he said, uuhhh, what about our wedding day? I said, nope, you topped it dude. (Not even kidding it was the BEST DAY). When I think about it I get all smiley. I really did find the man made for me. He loves me so well and I cannot imagine having to do one day in life without him. Dear god I love this guy more than anything. 

But here's the twist. And my favorite part of the whole day. I very nervously disclosed to him that I felt like I had spent the last five years getting a degree in something I wasn't truly passionate about and that I felt like I wasted so much time and money. I was near tears. I didn't find my true passion until about a year ago. I was so scared that he might be disappointed. All I want to do is design and stage and decorate and design some more. I live for all things interior design. There's so much I want to learn and much more of the architecture side I want to understand. And guess what? Justin's exact words were: you need to do it. I believe in you and if this is what you want, do it. You'll just have two degrees! And just as easy as that, I decided to go on to grad school. All with the support of my very best friend.

I'm a college grad! If you made it this far, you deserve your own award. Because you must really be a true friend of mine. XOXO

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Guest Bathroom Before and After: A Modern Farmhouse Bathroom

HIIIII!!! It's been kind of quiet around here lately. We have been trying to get our home ready for our foster baby and finishing the guest bathroom was a huge part of that. We are heading out of town to Florida this week (I'm graduating college, say what??) and I wanted our petsitter to have a nice bathroom to use while she stayed with Hudson. When we renovated our house, the bathrooms were last on that list. They were never terrible, just outdated. I always get so mortified whenever guests have to use our master bathroom because the toilet is from from the 90's and you literally have to jiggle the handle just the right way to get the water to stop running. It makes me all red in the face just thinking about it. :p Also, I am the queen of throwing fits about counter clutter and neither bathroom had any storage space. So this was just necessary to keep my fit throwing at bay. But seriously.

I wanted to keep this post short and sweet so on to our guest bathroom renovation! Here are the before photos:

Look at those popcorn ceilings! 

See? Not too bad. Definitely livable. Just dated. Lots of cream fixtures. I envisioned brightening this space up and making the tiny whole in the wall seem somehow a bit bigger. Here are the afters:

 So refreshing right? We have a tiny bit of touch up caulking to do, but this bathroom is DONE. I think Justin was a little nervous about all the white initially, but bringing in lots of wood tones can really warm a room right up. I think it is such a bright and inviting space now.

 Funny story, as soon as we get back from our trip I'm moving in! I think Justin is secretly happy to see me go. I posted this on FB a couple of weeks ago but I don't think I really tricked anyone. They must know that I'd be a hot mess without Justin. He's stuck with me! :p

Justin did such a great job on all of the bigger construction pieces. The little shower shelf might be my favorite part of the whole bathroom. Seriously so adorable. His talent kills me.

This bathroom could have been done for cheaper. But I found this vanity that I just had to have, and then I found a light fixture I had to have, and the list goes on and on. Don't be like me. Save your money. This bathroom cost us almost as much as our kitchen renovation and I ain't real proud of that. Although I do love how it turned out, I fell off the budget train on this one.

Also, I'm cringing a little about the mirror. Do you know what keeps me up at night? Mirrors. I have tossed and turned for a month because of this dang mirror. It isn't exactly what I envisioned for the space but after buying and returning 4 mirrors for various reasons, I'm calling this good enough until I find the one. I like my mirrors like I like my men. Round and rustic. Ok my jokes need work. I'm running on a couple hours of sleep at this point. :p

Light Fixture: Shades of Light
Floor tile: Lowe's
Shower tile: Lowe's (THE WORST PART OF THE WHOLE PROJECT!!! I never want to see another subway tile again. Ever)
Mirror:It's a get me by mirror from Target until I find "the one"
Tub-Home Depot
Wood Planked Wall: We used 6 sheets of sanded quarter inch primed plywood cut into 6inch strips which came out to be around $100. (NOTE: We used plywood instead of regular shiplap because we wanted a cleaner look. Shiplap is much more rustic as we found out from the accent wall we did in our bedroom)
Kohler faucets for vanity and shower: Lowes
Letters & Hooks: Various Homegoods

So who wants to come visit and use our new bathroom?!? What's your favorite part?