Living Room Makeover: After

Okay, yesterday we left off when I had some weekend helpers and a real fire under our butts.


We painted, painted, painted all weekend long (I’ll get to that all in a minute). When Alex got home he was really excited about all of the progress we made. He was also incredibly surprised to see his best buddy in our driveway! The boys took a break from the paint rollers for some birthday golf.


Then it was time to get back to work… here’s a couple progress pictures:




Once the paint was done, it was time to install all the molding. We finally decided to add board and batten to the bottom half of our walls. During this point in the project, Alex’s parents stayed with us for a week and helped so, sooo much! There was a ton of work involved — painting all the molding, cutting it to length, nailing it in place, covering and painting the holes…. Unfortunately I don’t have a lot of pictures during all these tedious steps since I was at work for much of the day. I’m sure you aren’t really interested in seeing pictures of measuring tapes and miter saws anyway.

We had some hard to reach painting to do…


And apparently pick some strawberries…



Already enough messing around — let’s get to the final product!

First…. a before shot to jog your memory:



(sorry, I had to include that one!)

Okay… and now, on to the after shots:








I can’t even begin to describe how good it feels to get this room knocked off our to-do list. And you know what? Not a single cell in my body wishes we had done it sooner. It definitely would have ended up a different color with different fixtures.. and to be honest, I’m loving how it turned out!

We’re currently on the hunt to get rid of our little green accents. As much as we love our green pillows and placemats, they don’t really go with our new slate grey-blue room. As always, we’re waiting until we find “the ones” — no sense hurrying to buy a bunch of pillows we only kind of like and then replace them again in six months.

So, there you go. A big project that we somehow managed to squeeze together in about three weeks. Can’t believe it took us over two years to get to this point! But, I tell ya… it feels good to be on this side of things 🙂

What’s been going on with you lately? Any big projects? Anyone recently get engaged (cough, cough — SUZZETTE)?

Note Taking

Are you a journaler? Do you feel the need to snap pictures of things so you never forget them? When you’re listening to music, do you ever write down lines of the song that really speak to you? At night, do you feverishly re-tell the events of the day?

I bet you would be surprised to learn that I am, in fact, a memory scribbler, a quote jotter, a “don’t move let me take your picture” taker. No? That’s not a shocking revelation? What gave it away? Was it this three year running public journal that I share with the world? Dang. I knew that would be my unraveling.

Throughout college, I carried a small little notebook (probably the size of your palm) around in my purse. The absolute worst thing was to laugh all night at some ridiculous joke and come morning, no one can remember it. So, my little journal filled this void. I’m not kidding you, I would take that out ANY time someone would say clever little one-liners and jot it down real quick. I’m fairly certain that I looked incredibly insane – at a bar.. writing something in a notebook. You know me though, I didn’t really care what it looked like I was doing — and getting to read them all the next morning was seriously priceless.

If I didn’t have my notebook, I would write them on little scraps of paper, receipts, napkins… whatever I could find. I still find little notes in purses, pockets and jackets. It’s pretty entertaining, really.

This one was exactly four years ago when we were getting ready to celebrate my 21st birthday.


I don’t do this as much now as when I was younger — mainly because, well, I’m way more boring now! Somehow I find that going to work every day is a little less “quote worthy” than living in a house full of girls in a college town. Strange, isn’t it? Yet — the tradition isn’t gone completely. On every vacation, you better believe I’m there to capture the funny moments! Like this one…


I’m not the only one that does it either! Alex started a whole section of his “Notes” app on his phone for stupid silly things that I’ve said. Isn’t he sweet? 🙂


A few years ago when Alex went on his first deployment (while we were together that is, he’d already been on a couple pre-us) — I started a journal where I would write to him every night. We only got to talk maybe once a week and during that short time, it would be so difficult to try to remember every last detail of everything that I wanted to tell him. I often found myself angry when we got off the phone because I forgot to tell him this or that. The journal also helped me feel like I was able to say goodnight to him. I know that’s kind of silly, but when you’re used to saying goodnight or calling when you leave work every day, it’s hard to break that habit. And honestly, feels weird and kind of lonely when you don’t have anyone to share those little details with.


I meant to give the journal to Alex when he got back so he could get up to date with all of my happenings. Yet, when he finally got home — I was kind of embarrassed by it. I don’t know if I didn’t think it would be “enough” or I didn’t want him to focus on the times I was sad when he was gone or what the problem was — but I never ended up giving it to him.

As Alex packed up to leave town this past weekend, I suddenly remembered the journal and fished it out of my nightstand (this was pre-me cleaning it out). I read a few entries out loud and we couldn’t stop laughing at some of the silly things that I said.

It’s been a blast to re-read them over the last few days. I’ve marveled over how much has changed in just a couple short years. Some entries were mundane and just really noted what I had done that day… like this excerpt from one —


…I got a lot of chores done today. What a way to spend Labor Day. But hey! At least I wasn’t at work! I did some more cleaning, took Smelly on a coule of walks (I didn’t even remember calling Hunter – Smelly.. hilarious), ran some errands, decorated for fall, addressed some Save the Dates, watched Maryland beat Navy & made Cinnamon Honey Butter. That’s a lot of stuff!

(the next paragraph is boring… we’ll skip that. It just talks about being half way through my journal)

I love you so much. I can’t wait to kiss you & hold you & lay with you & see your handsome face! I love you so much! Sleep well! Love, squeeze squeeze


This next one I particularly found amusing. Apparently, I wrote it pretending to be Hunter (remember — Bailey wasn’t even born yet, so I wasn’t favoring one dog over the other 😉 ).


Dear Daddy,

This note is being written by “your boy.” Dad, are you home yet? Momma keeps telling me that you’re coming home soon, but I haven’t seen you yet. Every day I hope that today is going to be the day.

Momma doesn’t play the same way you do. She doesn’t always get down on the floor and throw me around. She doesn’t throw as far as you do and she rarely takes me on my morning runs. I mean yeah, I guess she walks me and everything but she just doesn’t understand how much you and I bond on our runs.

Sometimes when I am outside with Momma, I see your truck! I get so excited! I start to bite my leash and throw it around celebrating your return. But it’s not you in your truck. Did you give your truck away? I really hope not. I love my truck. Momma says that other people have trucks that look and sounds like yours. I don’t understand that though. Bring my truck back with you when you come, will ya?

Even though Momma lets me sleep on the bed, I’d rather you be here and have to sleep on the floor again. Speaking of that, would you mind if I slept on the bed when you come home too? Momma says that I have to ask you. Maybe just for one night?

One thing that I’m really looking forward to is getting all your food scraps! Momma’s lame and only sometimes gives them to me. All in all, if I could take myself out and feed myself I wouldn’t need her. Don’t worry though, Dad. I know how much you love her so I’m taking good care of her. Come home soon, Daddy! I miss you! Love, Mr. Hunter Bo Ziffer



I like how Hunter called me out on multiple occasions. What a great dog!

One thing Alex gave me for my birthday this year was a new journal, which I started writing in last night. Maybe in a couple years I can share some of those entries with you as well 🙂 My new journal pages are much larger than the old one — see them compared to each other here…


Can’t wait to fill that bad boy up with new memories 🙂


Anyone else an avid journaler? Does anyone know any guys you like to keep a journal? I couldn’t think of any! I’m sure it would be fun to read about the days events from a man’s perspective. Have you shared any journal entries with anyone? What about crazy people like me that take a notepad into a bar?

NYE + Salsa Recipe

Wow, I’m getting pretty original with the old titles, aren’t I? Yes, my friends – I put a lot of thought into that one.

Happy New Years Eve! Tonight we’re planning to hang out with good friends and family at my mom’s house. I’ll bring my camera — you know that though. I’ll even try to take pictures of people too, not just dogs! Oh yeah, it’s happening. Let’s take bets though. Five to one chances that I take twice as many pictures of dogs than people. What do you think?

DSC_0857I kinda like these mutts.

DSC_0848Before the holiday season is officially over and it becomes taboo to write about it anymore, I wanted to share my little village. I remember as a child my grandma (who we all call Mom (yes, even Alex) but I think that would be confusing for all you non-family members).. anyway! I remember my grandma had a village set up every Christmas. I could sit for hours and look into all of the different houses (they’re very, very fragile so certainly not a toy) and imagine about the little people’s lives. I would make up little stories about their Christmases and their families.

I kinda forgot about them though. It wasn’t until Alex and I got really serious and started our own Christmas traditions when he told me that his mom had a collection of them as well. So it was an easy decision, I wanted a Christmas village too. We started collecting the Department 56, Dickens Village a couple years ago and oh, how it’s grown!

This year we set up a little table just for the houses!


DSC_0866I just love them. They make me feel like a little kid!

Anyway, let’s get to this recipe. I’ve mentioned it a few times that the man of the house REALLY enjoys salsa. Like… a lot, a lot. He judges salsa based on whether it can make the back of his neck sweat. When I ask Alex to put into words how much he likes salsa, his exact words were (in a very serious voice, mind you), “I can’t. I drink salsa. I love it.”

So, in an attempt to have his favorite snack around the house – I dove head first into the salsa making world. I’ve tried all different kinds. Fresh tomatoes, pureed, chopped, roasted, ALL KINDS.

The problem was that every time I made a different kind of salsa, I never wrote the recipe down. I just kinda winged it, ya know? I would throw in this and that, we would taste it, then I’d add a little more of a couple things. It really wasn’t a science. BUT every time we would find the best salsa ever, I could never recreate it exactly. Thus this recipe was born. I made salsa again a couple weeks ago and wrote down every ingredient and made changes every time I added a little more. It was a pain, but I’m happy it’s done and I can finally make it taste the same every time! Huzzah!

some notes before we get started: I use a food processor, but you could use a blender as well. I would recommend chopping the onions and jalapeños first if you use a blender. Also, this recipe is more of a pureed salsa without any big chunks. You could throw some chunks in at the end if you want more texture. Additionally, I’ve found that using fresh tomatoes versus canned tomatoes doesn’t make a big difference taste wise. Unless it’s summer time and I have an overflow of tomatoes like I did here, I always use cans now. I buy them in bulk and they’re way cheaper than fresh ones and MUCH less work than cutting them and scooping out the seeds, yadda yadda.

One last thing: keep in mind that the longer you keep the salsa in the fridge, the stronger the cilantro taste becomes. If you aren’t eating it right away, tone down the cilantro. And feel free to make a TON and freeze it (like I did here and here).



  • 2 -3 jalapeños (depending on how spicy you like it, I freeze my jalapeños in half so I use 2.5 (5 halves))
  • 1.5 medium onions or 1 large onion, quartered
  • 1.5 T garlic
  • 3 T of lime juice
  • 1 t cummin
  • 1/4 t cayenne pepper
  • 3 cans of chopped tomatoes (do not drain)
  • small handful of cilantro, rinsed
  • salt to taste


1. In a food processor (or blender) pulse together onions, garlic and jalapeños until chopped.

DSC_06562. Add the remaining ingredients besides the tomatoes and pulse until well incorporated.

DSC_06573. Add tomatoes and pulse until desired consistency.

DSC_06594. Let sit in the fridge for at least an hour for flavors to really combine. (we occasionally eat it right away, it’s still good. it just gets better if you can manage to wait!)


DSC_0662So yeah, it’s really easy. Just basically throw it all in the processor and pulse it together. Bing, Bang, Boom. Done.

one more quick note: I typically only use two cans of tomatoes, however, I added a little too much lime juice this time so I had to dull it down with more tomatoes. If you only want to make it with two cans, only use 2 T of lime juice rather than 3. Since I was trying to write down exactly what I used and we ended up loving this end result, I’m keeping the recipe as is.

Do you have any recipes that just wing every time you make it? Do you have specific Christmas/holiday decorations that remind you of childhood? Do you have any fun NYE plans? 

Happy New Year!!!!