Sunday, May 13, 2012

An update, and Mother's Day!

It's been a while since I last posted a blog. I have been keeping up with my usual routine - working, crafting, baking, and traveling when I can. I recently had the opportunity to go to a hair show in Baltimore and there I saw and learned amazing new things! Having education like that just fuels the love for my job even more. It gives me motivation to try new things, step out of the box, and really work on perfecting my skills as a hairstylist. I even met Nick Arrojo, the hairstylist most known for the show "What Not To Wear"! He came to this country at a young age, I believe 18 or 21 years old, with only a few hundred dollars in his pocket and he worked his way to the top. Not only does he own a world famous salon (and charges $500 dollars for a haircut!), he has opened a line of cosmetology schools to educated other aspiring hairstylists the skills they need to success. I admire that so much!

I have been doing some crafting as well. I feel like my creativity is bursting to come out of me and whenever I can get my hands on a project is a happy day. Currently I am searching for a short and wide bookcase that I can refinish and use as a bar for our wine and liquor bottles. Unfortunately I have had no luck. In the meantime I have been working on a wooden shutter, that I painted and hung on the wall to hold our mail! All I did was sand the shutter down to remove any imperfections on the surface, first with a medium grit and then a fine, until it was smooth. Then I used a paint and primer in one, in a beautiful orange color. Our living room is brown, cream and blue so having that pop of color as accent pieces really pull the whole room together. I also only did two coats of paint. It left it a little uncovered, however with this piece I love that look. It almost made it look naturally worn. I stupidly deleted the before picture of the shutter, but here it is after it was hung up on the wall!



Love love love! Then I finished my felt rosette wreath. My friend Shannon at Bit of Blue Sky posted a wonderful tutorial on how to make a wreath out of felt rosettes so I followed that to make my own. Shannon always has the best tutorials on crafts and recipes, a few of which I am planning on trying in the near future! Check out her blog if you haven't already!







I wanted something bright and cheery for spring time, so I went with this color palette. All I need to do it work on getting it hung up. (Psst... that white vase in the corner I made too. With a clear cylinder vase, I wrapped it with rubber bands and spray painted the outside with a matte white. Super easy and super fun to make over those vases you don't know what to do with!)

Today is also Mother's Day, so happy Mother's Day to all my friends and family who are mommies! I miss my mom so much and I wish we could be together to share this special day. She is the strongest woman I know and her love is never ending. When the day comes where I am blessed as a mother, I hope to be just like her. Today I am spending the day with my furbabies - two little creatures who put a smile on my face and warms my heart every single day. 

Have a wonderful day and enjoy every minute <3

- Laura

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Skype date! plus ginger snaps!

Today I got to have a skype date with my husband while he is pulled into port. Every time I see his name come up on skype butterflies seem to flutter in my stomach. The same feeling happens with emails, my heart seems to skip a beat for a second while I open it. Seeing him is always so amazing - technology is really a blessing when it comes to a situation like this. I feel so grateful that we get these kind of "luxuries", if you will, during a difficult time away from each other. Way back when, it would be months until you received a letter in the mail from your loved one overseas. I'm so thankful that we get to correspond almost everyday and we get to see each others faces when the time - and the wi fi connection - comes along. I miss him so much but seeing him makes my whole day so much brighter.

I started week two of my 5k training. Wow. You really wouldn't think thirty extra seconds of running would make a difference but it really, really does. I am feeling great these past two weeks since I have started and after running I feel so empowered and motivated. It makes me want to do more - eat healthier, take more yoga or pilates classes, and really stick with it. Some of my friends and one of my amazing cousins, who is a runner and has done multiple races, will be running the race too! I'm so excited to share this experience with them and have fun while doing it!

After I spoke to my husband, I was a very happy girl. And what do I do when I am happy? I bake! I seem to bake when I am sad too, so pretty much I am baking no matter what. Today I wanted to make something that I adore and could never get tired of - ginger snaps. Did you know ginger has many health benefits, including gastrointestinal relief (motion sickness is a great example), anti-inflammatory effects, and immune system boosting agents just to name a few. This recipe, which I found on allrecipes.com but made some modifications to, has NO BUTTER, only 1 egg, and 1 cup of brown sugar. This cookie is one to keep in your back pocket for when you want a little something sweet - or when you have a belly ache.


Homemade Ginger Snaps

1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/4 cup white sparkling sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease cookie sheet with cooking spray.
Combine brown sugar, oil, molasses, and egg in a large bowl or in the bowl of your electric mixer attached with a paddle attachment. Combine flour, baking soda, salt, and spices in a separate bowl, making sure everything is mixed thoroughly. Add flour mixture to brown sugar mixture in small batches, mixing until combined.
Add the white sparkling sugar into a separate small bowl. Roll dough into 1 to 1 1/4 inch balls and dip just one side of the dough balls into the sugar. Place sugar side up on the baking sheet, 2 inches apart. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet for 2 or 3 minutes. Remove and let cool on cooling racks completely.

Happy baking! :)

Laura


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

5k training day two PLUS a DIY antique planter

Today was day two of training for my 5k race. I officially have legs of jello but I feel great. I never understood my friends and family who said they LOVE the feeling after running or working out in general. Everytime I worked out I just felt tired. I know what they mean now - I feel empowered, motivated, and even more determined to keep up with it. Yesterday I signed up for the race too, so I really can't back out now even if I wanted to. Even more determination to look and feel great! I just need to find some workouts to do at home or on the days I don't train. Do you have any suggestions or workouts you do to tone up?

I also took advantage of a day off and I worked on my garden a bit. Did some weeding, replanted some flowers, cleaned up a bit. A while back, my husband and I went antiquing (a new found love of mine! who knew there was so much cool stuff out there that you can revamp into your own?!) to find a window pane for a table we made - I will show you that another day. While looking around, we found this really beautiful wooden barrel that we were both immediately drawn to. What it was used for? I have no idea. However, the barrel was in great condition and we knew we wanted to use it somehow. We brought it home and really couldn't find a use for it inside our house. Kingston loved it as a hideout spot though.


Then I decided to make it into a planter! It was super easy and looks great by our door. First I used a clear spar urethane gloss spray to protect the wood from the sun, temperature changes and moisture. I used a brand called Helmsman, comes in a green can and I got it at walmart in the paint section with the stains and polyurethane. I did three light coats both inside and out. The only thing this, it turned the wood slightly more amber, but I thought the finish was great. I let that dry outside overnight.


I then drilled 7 small holes on the bottom for proper drainage. Proper drainage is essential for potted plants to grow beautiful and healthy!


To ensure the barrel was protected from the moisture of the soil and water I lined the inside with a 9 x 13 heavy duty plastic drop cloth. Of course I didn't use the whole thing, so I cut it in half. I'll have the rest for a small room I want to paint or maybe another planter one day! I made sure the drop cloth went down to the bottom of the barrel and it's pressing against the inside of it, so that way I'm getting the most room out of my container. Also, I cut holes in the drop cloth where I made the drill holes on the bottom so that way they line up.


I cut the excess plastic but made sure to leave some over the edge. I didn't want to pour the soil in and have the drop cloth slip on the inside. Then I planted my flowers! I wanted something a little taller, so I did lilies in the back (one of my favorite flowers!), dahilas in the middle (another one of my favorites!) and accent plants in the front (I used creeping jenny, I believe)


When I was finished planting, I finally trimmed up the rest of the plastic so that was it was flush with the top of the barrel. You can see a little bit of the plastic from the outside, but I know that the accent plants will grow over the sides and the dahilas will get more leaves so I am not sweating it.


This is the end result! I am thrilled with it and I am happy I got to turn something antique into something new! This would also be great with an old wooden milk crate as well, maybe for herbs or veggies? I can't wait to find more hidden treasures and give them a little pick me up! :)

- Laura



Sunday, April 15, 2012

"tough times never last, but tough people do"

You may have noticed I have been absent from posting on my blog. In the past few weeks, I have been going through some tough things that have really tested my strength. Never in my wildest dreams did I think this would happen to me. And the words even sting my heart now as I am about to type them out. However, I feel being vocal and speaking of how I am feeling is one way that I will start to feel better about it all. If I keep it bottled up inside I am afraid it will just explode out of me and I will not be able to control it. This way I can feel like I am working through the ups and downs. Unfortunately, I recently had a miscarriage with our first baby.

When I first found out I was pregnant, Matt had just left for deployment and I was already feeling emotional. Seeing that word "Yes" on the pregnancy test, my whole world changed. I knew I wasn't very far along, maybe 4 or 5 weeks, but I took multiple test in a row that all said I was pregnant. I was excited, scared, nervous, but overall blissfully happy. I have always wanted to be a mother and this was really happening with the man of my dreams. I told my husband and he couldn't believe it either. We were both thrilled!

About a week later, I started to have some symptoms that I didn't feel were right. Freaked out, I told a friend and she meet me at the emergency room. I was so scared but in the back of my mind I was thinking everything would be okay. I was even hoping to get an ultrasound so I could see the baby, because at this point I hadn't had one yet. Long story short and sparing all the TMI details, my symptoms started getting worse and worse. They did numerous tests and a ultrasound, but deep down in my heart I just knew that I had lost it. I was sent home that day with feelings of complete sadness, confusion, pain, and guilt. I felt like it was all my fault - that I did something that caused this. And while I know that isn't true, that this is something that just simply "happens", it's hard not to feel that way. I told Matt about it all and he said of course he was disappointed and upset - but he knew that this wasn't going to stop us from trying again in the future. He is always my rock even from so far away.

Time has passed and everyday I think about it. I don't think it's something that I will ever NOT think about. I am still struggling with the fact that I was pregnant and planning all these exciting things for the future, and now I'm not. The little miracle that I felt so protective over, is gone. Maybe I am being too hard on myself, but everyday has to be a new day that I learn how to deal with these emotions. I look at my friends pregnant or with kids and it makes me sad for me, but so incredibly happy for them - because I know now how precious of a gift having a child is. This loss has also tested me as a military wife, as this is something that I have to go through without my husband physically by my side. Military spouses often have to be put in situations that require the strength of both parties, and this is definitely one of those situations. My husband is an amazing man and even though he can not be with me right now to hold me close or wipe my tears away, he is so supportive and reassures me that everything will be okay. I know we will be blessed with another miracle again and when that time comes, we will be able to share the experience every step of the way. That is a blessing in itself.

Since all of this has happened, I have really taken a step back and thought about all the positive changes I want to make. I have decided to train to run a 5k race, my first one ever. I think it will be amazing to have something to focus on and to use as a tool to get healthy. Eating right is also something I want to take more seriously. I have considered myself a healthy eater as an adult, but now I'm more deteremined than ever to stick with it. Most definitely there will still be baking going on, but maybe in a healthier way. I have been feeling a creative buzz going through me, so I would love to explore that and be more crafty and thrifty. Positivity is something I want to surround myself with in my daily life and I feel like this is a great way to start. I want to be a stronger woman, both inside and out.

Thank you in advance for all the support and advice you are willing to give. And most importantly, thank you for reading and giving me the chance to speak from my heart. <3

- Laura

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Longest... week... ever!

Tomorrow is one week of deployment down, and for some reason - this week as felt like an eternity. This deployment really snuck up on me, so the fact that it's only been a week makes it even harder to grasp the fact that it's happening. The first month is always the longest, but as time goes on and you start getting busier time seems to speed up a little. I know that will be the case this time around, but I guess my heart is still hurting from him being away. My hubby and I were saying how time feels like it's going so slow when we are apart, but when we are together again it's like no time has passed at all. I am so lucky to hear from him when I do, and I cherish every word he sends me. I know that will help make the time we are apart that much easier. 

I also went back to work this week. I was fortunate enough to have some time off to spend with my husband while he was on leave and before he left. So getting back into the swing of things is always hard. However I love my job and I am so blessed to have a place I can be creative, meet people, and give people something to be proud of. When they sit in my chair I know that they are coming to me to make them look and feel beautiful! And my guests are the best guests in the whole world, so they make everyday fun! :) 

I am spending this St Patty's day at HOME, and it's just what I need. Some time to relax, veg out and eat corned beef and cabbage. I put it in the crockpot before I left for work this morning so I came home to my house smelling awesome! Crockpot cooking is something I love and you can do SO many things with a crockpot. I found a recipe for potato soup in the crockpot that I might try out this week! 

Everyone have a fun (and safe!) St Patrick's Day! I have a date with my furbabies, cookies, and my couch!


- Laura


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Deployment, Day 1

I can't believe I am writing about first day of deployment again but, here we are folks. Part of me is a little angry. He just got home not long ago and this is way too soon for another one. I understand that this is his job, this is part of the territory. We came out of  last deployment just fine and I know this time we will too. Most of me is sad. As we were saying goodbye at the pier this morning, before the sun was even up, I felt my heart ripping from my chest as he walked away. We hugged for a long time and gave each other plenty of kisses, and while I will cherish them until the moment he gets home - I was still hoping we could have stood there forever. I know tomorrow and each day after will get a little bit easier, and I know that I will stay as busy as I can to make the time fly by. Every email will be a special gift and every phonecall will be a treasure I will hold dear to my heart. I love that man with everything I am, and I am so proud of him and to be his wife. To all my fellow "Big E" wives, I am thinking of you today and through this deployment. We can kick this deployment's booty! 

I want to leave off with some lyrics to a song that I consider "our song". I feel like it really speaks volumes, especially today. It is "us" (and it's the second song on my playlist below)

"Lucky" by Jason Mraz (feat. Colbie Caillat)

Do you hear me,
I'm talking to you
Across the water across the deep blue ocean
Under the open sky, oh my, baby I'm trying
 
Boy I hear you in my dreams
I feel your whisper across the sea
I keep you with me in my heart
You make it easier when life gets hard

I'm lucky I'm in love with my best friend
Lucky to have been where I have been
Lucky to be coming home again
Ooohh ooooh oooh oooh ooh ooh ooh ooh

They don't know how long it takes
Waiting for a love like this
Every time we say goodbye
I wish we had one more kiss
I'll wait for you I promise you, I will

I'm lucky I'm in love with my best friend
Lucky to have been where I have been
Lucky to be coming home again
Lucky we're in love every way
Lucky to have stayed where we have stayed
Lucky to be coming home someday

And so I'm sailing through the sea
To an island where we'll meet
You'll hear the music fill the air
I'll put a flower in your hair
Though the breezes through trees
Move so pretty you're all I see
As the world keeps spinning round
You hold me right here right now

I'm lucky I'm in love with my best friend
Lucky to have been where I have been
Lucky to be coming home again
I'm lucky we're in love every way
Lucky to have stayed where we have stayed
Lucky to be coming home someday

Ooohh ooooh oooh oooh ooh ooh ooh ooh
Ooooh ooooh oooh oooh ooh ooh ooh ooh 


- Laura


Friday, March 9, 2012

Rain, Rain, Go Away...

Good morning, dolls!

Is anyone else sick and tired of this weather? Beautiful and sunny one day and then the next day it's rainy and cold. Not to mention it's completely doing in my sinuses. I always can tell it's gonna rain by the headache I get right beforehand and sure enough I woke up to rain and gloom. Ick. It does make it perfect weather for cleaning, baking, and cuddling with the hubby when he gets home. I only have a few more days before my man has to leave for awhile, so I plan on spending every moment I can with him. I can't believe we are here again, I feel like he just got home. But, more on that another day...

Speaking of BAKING! One of my all time favorite things to do. I bake when I'm happy about something (in celebration if you will), when I'm upset, stressed - because at the end you always have a sweet treat to make you feel just a little bit better. With this deployment coming up I have a feeling I will be in the kitchen alot, and I find alot of my recipes on pinterest. The homemade oreos I made the the other day was a pinterest recipe. First of all, if you aren't on pinterest yet, you are crazy. Go over there right now and sign up. Seriously. I thought the whole idea of pinterest was ridiculous and pointless but it is SO NOT. And you'll see why. If you want to make the homemade oreos, here is the recipe! It is from Sugar Cooking. There are alot of other great recipes too so check out the rest of the blogs! (My notes are with the *) Enjoy!

Recipe: Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Ingredients
:
For the chocolate wafers:
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa *I used hershey's unsweetened cocoa powder and it was great!
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups sugar *I used a little less than 1 1/2 cups
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) room-temperature, unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg
For the filling:
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) room-temperature, unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 2 cups sifted confectioners sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Directions:
  1. Set two racks in the middle of the oven. Preheat to 375°F.
  2. In a food processor, or bowl of an electric mixer, thoroughly mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder, salt, and sugar. While pulsing, or on low speed, add the butter, and then the egg. Continue processing or mixing until dough comes together in a mass.
  3. Take rounded teaspoons of batter and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet approximately two inches apart. With moistened hands, slightly flatten the dough. Bake for 9 minutes, rotating once for even baking. Set baking sheets on a rack to cool.
  4. To make the cream, place butter and shortening in a mixing bowl, and at low speed, gradually beat in the sugar and vanilla. Turn the mixer on high and beat for 2 to 3 minutes until filling is light and fluffy.
  5. To assemble the cookies, in a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch, round tip, pipe teaspoon-size blobs of cream into the center of one cookie. Place another cookie, equal in size to the first, on top of the cream. Lightly press, to work the filling evenly to the outsides of the cookie. Continue this process until all the cookies have been sandwiched with cream. Dunk generously in a large glass of milk.

- Laura