Monday, November 28, 2011

New Kitchen Counter

This weekend Eric took some steps towards our kitchen renovation plans. I was working all weekend long so he took the opportunity to put in a new built in counter in a wasted corner of our kitchen. Here are some before pictures.

I don't have any perfect before pictures but note the white window sill and the red table in the corner (it always just collected junk). We had been talking about replacing the red table with a built in counter to give us some extra work space and on Saturday Eric took a trip to Ikea to buy some butcher block counter top and installed this lovely new counter to give us some extra work space. He also replaced the white window sill with more butcher block, now we have a huge prep area that we can chop all over! He had to rearrange our hanging kitchen gear a bit but now the whole area is opened up and is beautiful and functional!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Rustic Modern Thanksgiving

 HOsting our first real Thanksgiving was a huge success! The food turned out delicious and everything was lovely. All I can say is we couldn't be more thankful :-)

Centerpiece and table runner, this is before we rearranged the furniture to accommodate everyone.


Family enjoying Logan's punch that he brought.



Fridge the night before Thanksgiving. The turkey is brining in that big metal bucket.
Fridge after the Thanksgiving meal, so glad I bought new tupperware before this  holiday!

My plate, full of brined turkey, hash brown casarole, sweet potato casserole,  Mom's cornbread and  sausage dressing, grape, pecan and goat cheese salad and cranberry orange relish.

My famous butternut squash soup and a cheesy corn biscuit.

The most beautiful turkey ever :-)

Pecan, grape and goat cheese salad with balsamic vinaigrette. 

Eric carving a turkey for the first time
Logan's grapefruit pie with candies grapefruit peel on top.

We set up two tables put together (making one long table) in the living room where we are dinner. We set up an extra table in the dining room to use as a buffet to hold all the food.
Lots of wine was consumed

We got to use our wedding tablecloths, napkins and wine glasses as well as using the dishes and flatware we received as wedding gifts.

top view of the Thanksgiving table.

 This is what the menu ended up like, I've linked all the recipes that I can in this list :-)

Brined Turkey, Sweet Potato Casserole, Cheesy Corn Biscuits, My Mom's Amazing Cornbread and Sausage Dressing,  Goat Cheese, Grape and Pecan Salad, Hashbrown Casserole , Fruit Salad brought by my mother in law Jody, Cranberry Orange Relish, Butternut Squash Soup, Apple Bourbon Pie, brought by my mom, Grapefruit Pie, brought by Logan, Pumpkin Pie, brought by Jody, and Oreo Cheesecake brought by my parents.

Now all we have to do is try to recover from our food comas and enjoy our leftovers as the weekend goes on :-)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Shadow Play

As I was sitting in my dining room the other day playing board games with the family I was struck by how beautiful the light coming through our big front windows, particularly the shadows that were cast by the sunlight shining through the pine trees. It's like having a beautiful work of art on our walls in late afternoon :-)

I'm thinking it might make a good source of inspiration for a new painting but I haven't quite worked out how I want to use it yet.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Christmas Card Sneak Peak

For just about as long as I can remember I have been illustrating my family's Christmas cards every year. I always look forward to coming up a new design each year and I like to think that people get excited about getting a more personal card from the Albrights. Last year was the first time that I sent cards jointly from Eric and I and I used a card designed by our wedding photographer that utilized one of our wedding photos. This year I wanted to do a personally designed greeting card for Eric and I as well as keeping up the tradition of doing an illustrated card for my family. I decided that from here on out I will do a photographic card from the Albright-Muellers (as my mom likes to call us) and an illustrated card from the Albrights. This year we had the cards printed by Shutterfly (in previous years we took them to office depot to be printed) and we are much happier with the quality. Shutterfly can be a bit pricey but they have great discount coupons and sales if you watch out for them. Here is what we have so far in the way of cards, I'll probably be sending them out in early to mid December so you can look for them in your Mailboxes soon!

The Albright Family Card illustration, in progress.

The Albright-Mueller family card. The front image is a photograph I took last year at Christmas. I just added type to it and had it printed on nice cardstock. I'm such a sucker for bokeh!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Perfect Steel Cut Oats

When I was a kid I hated oatmeal. Something about the texture, it was just too mushy for me. When I was around 12 my family took a trip to England and I decided to give oatmeal another shot, mainly because I wasn't interested in a full English breakfast and there wasn't much else available at some of the B&Bs we stayed at. To my surprise I loved the oatmeal in England! I later found out what the difference is. In America we mainly use rolled oats and in the UK they are more likely to use steel cut oats. The steel cut oats have a slightly crunchy and chewy texture. If you love American oatmeal then you may not like the steel cut version because they are pretty different but for me steel cut is the way to go. Today I'm going to share my cooking method with you, this was adapted over many years and I've found it to produce my ideal oatmeal. The amounts listed below make one generous serving, since Eric is eating low carb again I usually just make enough for me.

1/2 cup steel cut oats
1 cups water
1 cup milk ( I use whole but you can use whatever you like)
1 tbs butter plus more for topping
brown sugar, dried cranberries and cinnamon to taste ( for toppings).

In a small saucepan melt 1 tbs of butter over medium heat. Add oats and cook in butter until they start to smell "toasty", this only takes a couple on minutes. add milk and water and bring to a boil. Boil for about half and hour, stirring regularly or until oatmeal has thickened to whatever texture you like. I'm not real big on timing things, I just know when it's done by looking at it and checking the thickness. Pour in to a bowl and top with extra butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, dried cranberries or whatever topping you like. Enjoy!

Friday, November 18, 2011


 The thing about having a beautiful yard full of trees is that you end up with a TON of leaves all over the place in the Fall. I'm not going to say this is a downside because I love our trees and I love watching them fall but it does make for a lot of work. I had a rare day off today (aside from a morning meeting with a bride who's wedding I am shooting next year) so I got a chance to get caught up on some much needed housework. I want the house to be looking it's best when we host Thanksgiving next week so in addition to (almost) finishing my Thanksgiving shopping, sweeping and mopping the living room, vacuuming and doing laundry today, I also swept the front and back porches and the front walk (WAY more work than it sounds). Here are some pictures, whee!


Believe it or not, Eric just swept and raked all this last weekend.

Much better

Much better

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Christmas is Coming

I'm trying to focus on my upcoming Thanksgiving dinner hosting but Christmas projects are already starting to edge their way in. I already made my Thanksgiving shopping list and did a little pre-shopping for dry goods and things that would keep until the big day so my Thanksgiving prep is going well, maybe that's why I am already jumping ahead to Christmas. I am pretty much always ridiculously excited about the Christmas holidays but this year I seem to be getting started on my Christmas festivities even earlier than usual. My shopping is already 99% finished and have already given a lot of thought to decorations. Part of my excitement is from the fact that this house will be so awesome to decorate for Christmas, it is so cabin like, it'll be perfect! My first Christmas craft this year is a pine cone wreath. We have so many pine cones in our yard that I am planning to use them heavily in our holiday decorating. To start my wreath I got a cheap grapevine wreath from Michael's. Then I used floral wire to tie the pinecones to the base wreath. Finally I used a hot glue gun to add smaller pine cones and a little bit of sparkle by using some gold spray painted pine cones and a few gold glitter balls. Lastly I added the bow and ribbon to hang it from. I'm very pleased with how it came out, I feel like you would pay big bucks for a wreath like this at the store and it cost me next to nothing. Here are some pictures of the process and finished product.

in progress

in progress

almost done!

ta da!

Friday, November 11, 2011

First Fire Of The Year

Tonight we had our first fire at our "new" house. I always knew that having a fireplace was very important to me when we got to the point where we were ready to buy a house. I knew that my long term home must have one! We had a fireplace in the small rental house that Eric and I first lived in when we got married. Any of you that ever visited us at that house might recall that the fireplace there had it's issues. If it wasn't quite cold enough outside, if the fire wasn't constructed just perfectly and if the stars didn't align just right then the fireplace there wouldn't draw properly and the whole place would fill up with smoke. I have been anxiously awaiting a chance to try our fireplace at this house and it was finally cold enough on a night when we were actually going to be home so we gave it a whirl. I'm pleased to report that fireplace here works beautifully! We cracked open a bottle of wine and enjoyed a little hearth fire before dinner, it was lovely. I'm looking forward to many more fires to come in our awesome home :-)

Our hearth, complete with tree paintings and leaf garland. 

Very delicious wine, I recommend it :-)

Roaring fire, note the kitty paw print on the right hand side in the back of the fireplace.

This fireplace screen was a wedding present that we truely treasure, it is so beautiful and fits our style perfectly.

Of course Willow had to check it out :-)