June 22, 2016

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

It's been awhile since I shared a recipe on here and a long while since I actually pulled out my good camera and used it.  The natural lighting was terrible in our rental, so I didn't even attempt to photograph anything in there.  While Preston was a camp yesterday, Lyla and I baked these muffins and they were so, so good!  I love lemon flavored treats and this recipe is a keeper!

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Ingredients For Muffins
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
Ingredients For Lemon Icing
  • 1 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon buttermilk

Method For Muffins
  1. Preheat oven to 375.  Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, add flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Mix well and set aside.
  3. In another large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add eggs.  And then add Greek yogurt, lemon juice, lemon zest, poppy seeds and vanilla.  Mix until well combined.
  4. With mixer on low or mix by hand, add dry ingredients followed by buttermilk.  Try to not overmix the batter.
  5. Divide batter evenly into prepared muffin tins, filling about 2/3 full.  Bake about 15 minutes or until tops are lightly golden brown.  Allow muffins to cool about 10 minutes, then drizzle with lemon icing recipe below.
Method For Icing
  1. Combine confectioners' sugar, lemon juice and buttermilk in small bowl until completely smooth.  Drizzle over cooled muffins.
  2. Tip - original recipe did not call for buttermilk, but I added to mine so adjust as needed according to taste.
* recipe adapted from here


June 14, 2016

Cute Afforable Kids' Bedding and Decor

It's funny how over the last 6 months while we were renting I did not step one foot in Homegoods or even walk past the home décor aisles in Target.  Both usually regular visits for me, but because I wasn't sure what or where we would buy, months went by without me shopping any home décor stores.  Well, I quickly made up for those neglected stops recently :)  And I loved what I found in the kids' home décor section in Target.  Neither of my kids need new bedding, since we plan to use the same that they had in our last home, but I thought I would share in case any of you are in the market for redoing your little one's space.

Cute, right?  And reasonably priced.  These were a few of my favorites.  You can shop the room collections by clicking the links below each picture.  Or for a look at all the collections you can go here.  Enjoy!

June 7, 2016

Summer Sale Favorites

Hi there!  I've finally had a little time to actually sit down and peek online at some of my favorite stores.  J.Crew Factory is definitely one of my most favorites and here's why: 

1.  Everything Fits.  I know my sizes there and they are usually right every time.  LOVE that!! 
2.  Good Prices.  Lots of sales and even their regular priced items are EASY on the wallet.
3.  Close By.  We have a store less then 10 minutes away and I can ALWAYS find something.

Lots of these pieces above are on sale.  You can click the image for prices and a direct link to the store.  I'll take one of everything please :)

June 6, 2016

June Style

Thank you for all the very thoughtful comments on my last post about our new house.  I truly appreciate all your sweet words and it makes me feel even better about our decision!  Each day we are getting things put away and feeling a little more settled.  Today is our first Monday of summer.  My kids finished school on Thursday and we are officially on summer break!  It was soooo wonderful to not have to wake up at 6 am and make lunches :) 

Now lets talk about today's post.  We have a few fun beach trips planned for the summer and everything in this picture above are perfect for the beach.  The floppy hat and straw tote are great beach accessories.  Love the one-shoulder look of this one-piece suit and of course the navy and white stripes are always a favorite of mine for the summer.  It's a little more then I would normally spend, but the reviews are good and I always have a hard time finding a good one-piece that's cute, so I'm thinking about purchasing it.  Finish this look off with this eyelet coverup and darling espadrilles.  Hope you find something for your summer wardrobe too! 

May 25, 2016

New House: Where and Why

Hi there everyone!  I was a little absent last week due to our move.  I decided it would be best if I focused all my time and energy on getting us moved into our new home.  Moving is so much work!  It feels so wonderful to be in a home again!  It has been a very long 9 months, as we originally started our plan to move last September and after lots and lots of house hunting, thinking, discussing, excitement, tears and stress we are finally home owners again.  We love our new house and our new neighborhood!  It all feels right and that is what I was lacking with all other houses we originally thought would work.  While we were going through this whole process I had several people tell me that if it doesn't feel right or didn't work out that it "wasn't meant to be."  And at one point I told my husband that if one more person tells me that, I might smack them...ha!  But I now know it is so true.

Here's a little background on what started this whole process.  We lived in our first house for 10 years and our second one (the one I've shared on this blog) for 5 years.  Our second house and the one we recently sold was a very nice house, but it never felt like home to us.  Both of us grew up in small town, and we thought moving back to a small town would be a good fit for our family.  We found a small acreage home about 30 minutes west of our current location in a small town with a population of 4000 and really thought it was going to be it.  We were all in!  We listed our house and started the ball rolling on buying the new one, which all came to a screeching halt after inspection day.  It had lots of problems.  And we were willing to take on a fixer upper that needed some updating, but moisture in the walls (and we could only image what came with that), A/C 's that did not work, foundation issues, roof issues and a long list of other problems, it was way more then we wanted to take on.  We still decided to leave our house for sale and continue to look.  My oldest is finishing up 4th grade and we really wanted to make the move before junior high (which is 6th grade here.)  We liked the idea of him having all of fifth grade to settle in a make friends before junior high.  So we felt like we had time and that we would surely find something in the next 6 months.  But even after expanding our search area, we just kept finding homes in our budget with major problems or if we would finally find a good quality one, it was in all honestly just plain ugly or in a bad location.  We also considered finding land to build on, but that's wasn't so easy either.  Small acre tracts, which is what we wanted (about 10 acres) are hard to find.  Especially if you want it to be in a good location with some good trees, etc.

When we really started exploring this move, there were lots of things we discovered.  We found that moving to a small town where we didn't know anyone might be a little more difficult.  If our small hometown (population 2100) was closer to the Houston area (where are jobs are) we would have moved back there.  Moving to a small town as an outsider is a little harder.  The type of careers we have also makes moving to a small town harder.  It meant a long commute or changing jobs.  We also found out through the process that we really like all the conveniences of the city and would really miss all the restaurants and shopping.  I dreamed of a cute white farmhouse on a few acres with mature trees, where we could have some farm animals and the kids could have some space to play.  And although that all still sounds wonderful, I would think about the reality of our everyday life and routine and feared it not being a good fit for us right now.  I kept thinking surely I could do it...I lived that way for 18 years.  But I've lived in the city for almost 22 years between Austin and Houston and you just get used to certain things.  Sounds so silly, but thoughts like where would I run, workout, go to the grocery store?  Would I survive without a Target or HEB?  What in the world would I do on my days off?  What about all our friends that are here?  What would the kids and I do in the summer?  We are fortunate here to have several pools and summer camps for the kids in the summer.  And lots of other similar thoughts. 

We attended church one Sunday in the town where we made an offer on a home just to "get a feel for it" and instead of having a warm and fuzzy feeling about it, I felt really unsure.  I didn't even say a word to my husband as I was really trying to make it work, but on the ride home he actually brought it up and said "I can tell you don't really like that house, do you?"  I loved the property, but the house was not very pretty and curb appeal is a big thing for me.  I tried to channel my inner Chip and Joanna and think of ways to make the exterior look better, but it would have cost a fortune.  We also ran into finding a home that could maybe work, but it had lots of untidy neighbors around it.  This might sound silly, but we work really hard to keep our property nice and neat, and I want to live next to other people who shown pride in their home as well.  I wanted a pretty neighborhood/community to drive home to everyday.  I think it's important for resale too, if you ever have to sell one day.  We ran into some weird school zoning rules in one area we were looking at that didn't sit well with us.  In the last 6 months, we made offers on three homes that we thought could work and backed out of all of them.  Yikes!  One of them we backed out at the 11th hour.  Seriously, at noon of the last day of our option period we backed out and I'm soooo glad we did as I know it wasn't for us.  I'm sure our realtor loved us :)  We were picky, but it's such a huge decision and we really wanted to make sure it was the right one.  There was just always standing in our way, which finally made us realize we needed to look elsewhere. 

So where did we end up buying a home?   In the original section of our community where we've lived for the past 15 years.  It's my most favorite part of the neighborhood that boost big mature trees, pretty green St. Augustine grass, traditional homes and lots of green spaces.  It's where I would drive to go run most days.  Where we would drive to go on bike rides.  Where we would take the kids when they were little to feed the ducks and play on the playgrounds and green spaces.  The trees shade most of this two mile bike/walk/run trail around the lake.  The street that leads to our house is covered by a canopy of huge oak trees that completely cover the road.  We have mature trees in our yard and lush carpet grass.  So even though we didn't gain a lot of acreage, we did gain almost everything else we were looking for. 

The schools are also smaller over in our new neighborhood.  The elementary school will be 500 students less and the junior high 1000 less kids.  Our school system was also recently ranked the highest in the whole Houston area (which is a huge area with many ISDs.)  And our high school was also ranked the highest.  It's larger then we grew up attending, but our kids know nothing different and have excelled in the schools here. 

The Beach Club is also very close, which is a fun pool that sits on the lake where they brought in beach sand to create a beach entry.  They also have paddle boats and kayaks there.  This picture above is about 5 years ago at the Beach Club.  Where does the time go?  The golf course and tennis courts are also located here, as well as two large eating and shopping areas.  We just feel more conveniently located to all the things we loved but had to drive to.  Now we walk out our front door to most of our favorite places.  Yet even with everything closer the neighborhood is very well planned in that the streets near the homes are very quiet. 

The house is a brick colonial, which is one of my favorite styles.  It's traditional and timeless, which is something I love about a home.  It needs updating, but the layout is great.  Our last two homes we built, so this was a little different to move into a older home.  Here's a progress picture above.  This is our dining room before with the beige color and after it was painted a very light gray.  We had all the interior walls and ceiling painted before we moved in.  The color is Palomino Gray by Pittsburgh Paints and I LOVE it!  It is a very, very light gray that gives the overall feel of white.  It really freshened everything up.

It has been quite the journey and one that I'm glad is done.  Our realtor asked while we were house hunting and before we found this home if we had any regrets selling our last home.  And without hesitation I said, "no!"  If we would have never attempted to move out to a small town, I think it would have always been in the back of our minds and we would have wondered if we should have.  Now we know what was out there, we know what we like and there's not that thought of what if we would have.  The kids have been great through all of this, but they were really excited when they found out we were staying in our same community.  Although they will be changing schools, they can still see their friends, play on the same teams and do all their same activities.  And my husband said just the other day that he was happy the small town thing didn't work out and was excited about the new house!  Yay!  This one was "meant to be!"  We are in the neighborhood we love and a style of home that we love!  Now on to making it beautiful and filling it with memories...