30 January 2011

The art of wheeling.

...and just like that, our living room is complete. Thanks to an awesome sale at AllPosters.com, we got a living room's worth of new prints at 20% off. I do love a good sale! Some scrounging in the basement, a trip to Michael's, and some wicked math on Brad's part... and we have framed and hung art. Woo!

At this point, I think all the art in our house is a vintage '20s (or '30s?) print (other than photographs that I've taken). We just love it, and luckily it fits right in with the style of the house and the theme we've gone with. Some of our other prints have been with me since college, including a giant champagne print that I still can't believe I spent $70 on when I was 21 - ha! (The price tag is still on it - double ha!) And my little fat man that Lisa S. got me for my birthday when we were roomies, which is still my most favoritest print.

On the business of prints and frames, we finally got some other prints framed and hung and we now have a fully complete guest bathroom, too.

I got all of these prints a while ago (except for the Southshore print, which I got at our local antique store) from AllPosters, too, also on sale -- each was between $2 and $6. Double triple score! Also love how the bathroom came together. And still in love with the blue, that is so just not me!

After a few week's break, I think we're really on a roll now. We spent this afternoon painting all the white trim in the kitchen in preparation for what will hopefully be a yellow kitchen by the end of next week...

Handy tip, if you aren't already in the know... Lowe's will make paint samples for you, if you don't trust the paint chip (don't trust the paint chip!). And they're only $2. More than worth the agony of hating the color you buy and having to live with it. Plus, if you've just got a small space to attend to, the sample actually goes a long way. We painted our upstairs bathroom with just one sample (remember, we only painted half of each wall). Anyway, it pains me slightly to think of how much total we've spent over the months on paint samples, but again, really worth every penny.

PS, it hasn't snowed in TWO WHOLE DAYS. That being said... there is a warning for Mon-Wed that predicts 21 inches and actually specifies roads that will close for hours. Hmm... (And a little foreboding for Brad's flight that is scheduled to leave Grand Rapids Wednesday morning. Keep your fingers crossed he gets out safely and on time.)

27 January 2011

Frankenstein lagasna.

I just ate oatmeal and crumpets with jam for dinner. Was it delicious? Of course. But it's a pretty good indicator of how inspired I am this winter to cook much. (Brad had a big lunch and opted for a chicken noodle soup for dinner.) That being said, on Saturday, I was immediately inspired by my new Pyrex to make lasagna.

I didn't have a lot in the fridge and it was snowing so I was too lazy to go out to the store, but I threw some stuff together and said a little prayer... As always, I had plenty of help in the kitchen.

Dogsitting makes for a full house!

I had exactly enough leftover lasagna noodles for two layers of noodlage in my new, smaller-sized lasagna dish. I had maybe a cup of ricotta, which I mixed with 1/2 cup or so of grated Parmesan. I lined the bottom of the dish with a few spoonfuls of tomato-basil sauce. Then I layered some noodles. I topped that with a 1/2 cup or so of canned pumpkin, a handful of fresh spinach, half of the ricotta mixture, a handful of shredded mozzarella, a spoonful or two of canned tomatoes, salt, pepper, and some dried basil. Times two. Of course, I forgot I actually needed three levels of noodles to do two layers of filling, but I left the top "open face" and crossed my fingers. On top? Homemade bechamel. The fancy bechamel I made over Xmas from the Mainstreet Ventures cookbook. So decadent. So delicious. I covered it up and baked it in the oven for 50 minutes. Out, cover off, sprinkled some Parmesan and some basil, back in for 15 minutes. Out, and time for the grand reveal.

It looked so good I couldn't stop giggling. You're supposed to let it set for 15 minutes, but forget that! We dug right in.

This is another one of those times where I really have to just pat myself on the back a little. I was ooh-ing and aah-ing through this whole meal (Brad liked it too!). It was so creamy and flavorful and I'm just so madly in love with this bechamel. And, good news, the un-noodle-topped 2nd layer was actually perfect -- you get a super creamy top w/o having to go cheese crazy on top of an extra layer of noodles. So it's totally healthy, right? Always extra pleasing when something you just throw together ends up tasting even better than something you may follow step by step from a fancy recipe.

22 January 2011

Come and knock on our door.

We <3 visitors. Seriously. We are so blessed to have so many friends willing to make the trek to visit us in our new digs. Last night, our friend Alison came to visit, and we had a super awesome time. And it worked out perfectly that we found the Ideal Place last week, too, because it turned out to be the ideal place to take visitors. Did I mention it's also still snowing? Just sayin.

Dinner definitely didn't disappoint, even considering the rolls were just regular old rolls and not rosemary rolls (they were still super tasty). Alison and I started with martinis (pomegranate for her, cosmo for me [discovered they have $5 martini nights every T, W, and Th, if you feel like visiting on a weeknight]), Brad a beer (note, they carry beer made next door at the Livery). Then salads. Then delicious, delicious food. Alison went with the pork tenderloin special, which came with a pesto-blue cheese sauce on top... um... YUM!!!! Note to self: find reason to make and eat pesto-blue cheese sauce. Brad got the three-cheese tortellini (the giant homemade pastas I got last week but in a creamy red sauce). I got the... wait for it... ideal pasta - ha! Oodles of noodles, basil cream sauce, mushrooms, and, yes, peas, which I also ate again this week (perhaps peas are becoming less and less offensive?). I opted for the small portion this week, and it was still more than enough -- although it was so good I definitely could have eaten more. Finally, we three split the cheesecake of the night, a toffee cheesecake that was, of course, perfect. Say it with me... this meal was... ideal! ha ha ha!

Today we have a visitor of a very different sort. The furry and four-legged sort. We're dogsitting Jackson, who is very big, very furry, and very sweet. And we're also breaking the rules and letting him on the couch. Sorry, Chase and Angie. :)

Before our furry friend arrived, I ventured out in the snow (always, me deciding I need to run errands during the heaviest of snows, and today also when I'm sick. Sheesh!) to pick up one thing (a book) and came home with several other things, too.

I am officially old. Or officially a west sider. I'm not sure which is the more appropriate label. But I'm officially whatever finally made me realize that staying warm and dry is much more important than, well, anything. Poofy coat? Check. Furry, waterproof mittens? Check. Furry hat? Check. Waterproof, warm, and cozy boots?

Hello, new Bogs.

I popped into the bootery downtown, and they happened to be having a sale. Because, well, they only had like 20 pairs of any and all boots left at all. Normally, that is the kiss of death. No one ever has 10s, and never ever when there is a sale. Well, there were THREE pairs of boots in size 10. Crazy. When this pair fit, matched my coat, and promised to keep my toes warm and dry in the snow, I figured it was a sign. AND they were on sale. CHECK.

Because my boots were so warm and cozy, I thought I'd walk down the street to my favorite antique store, just to see. Was I sad to find a new, must-have Pyrex? Of course not.

It's the perfect size for a two-person lasagna. And it matches the new decor. It had to be mine. I also stumbled upon something very strange but cute and I knew I had to have it or I would be so sad. Luckily it was only $6.

"What the heck is it?"

Why, it's a turquoise deer vase!

And I can't live without it.
He's already BFF w/ Mr. Fox.

Could this weekend possibly get any better?!

21 January 2011

Sweet pig.

Today, let's celebrate the amazing life of our number one piggy friend, Petunia.

Always fun.

Always good company.

And always just plain cute.

My heart goes out to Rachel and Don, who said goodbye to their Petunia today. She was a good old girl with a little body of steel. Hope she's enjoying that daisy field in the sky and squealing to her little heart's content... xoxo

20 January 2011


I feel guilty when I disappear for too long. Not that anyone probably notices, but I know how eagerly I anticipate new posts on everyone else's blogs, so I'm conscious of absences. My brain's just been in a little bit of a haze, I think... We haven't seen the sun in weeks, it's still snowing (which I love), and the cold is really kicking in. Most nights I've been buried in my corner on the couch, snuggled under my fuzzy blanket, not wanting to expose my hands for typing. :) But I've been backing up my thoughts, so I offer you a thoughts-of-late list!

Dammit!!! I didn't download my pics. Now I have to do that... Please hold!

Ok, thanks. As I was saying...

1. I haven't been as diligent about documenting dinners, but I made another batch of mushroom-pumpkin-gorgonzola pasta and it was just to die for. If I had a signature dish, I think this would be in the running to be it. Brad would probably agree. And he doesn't even like mushrooms normally. If I haven't convinced you yet to make this, what is your deal? Sheesh! I also made a fish pie, following this nicely converted Jamie Oliver recipe. (I skipped the egg step, though, because Brad doesn't like hard-boiled eggs, so it wasn't worth the effort.) I made this with two whitefish fillets I had in the freezer from our local fish guy. Not the right choice. This really needs cod (or another thick fish). It wasn't bad, but there was hardly any fish, so it was underwhelming. I'll try again some other time...

2. I discovered the lake is constantly in flux. I'm sure it already looks different today (especially since it's so cold!), but the wind picked up over the weekend and the crashing waves did a number on the frozen shore. It hammered away at least half of what was ice when I fell on my butt last week. If you look closely in the pic below, you can see a giant wave crashing against the shore; it was like watching a bunch of blowholes in the ocean.

3. Target has a super cute new line of candles. At $6 each, they are a pretty good deal, and the patterns are perfectly perfect for the vision I have for our house. There was also a red one and I feel like another, but I can't think of what it was...

*Teeny shout out to the SO CUTE little white creamer I picked up when I was in Ann Arbor in December.

4. It's amazing the difference small details make sometimes. I love our little bathroom upstairs, and I loved the shower curtain we had. But it's vinyl, and it's lifespan isn't so good (I am NOT cleaning a shower curtain... so not worth the effort). So in preparation for its eventual demise, I snatched up this fantastic fabric shower curtain when I saw it, also from Target. I love it, and it makes the room feel surprisingly more complete (and more adult... we are mature now!). We also finally hung some towel hooks where previously there was just one towel bar, which I let Brad take (I hung my towels on hooks in our closet). I can't tell you how happy I am to dry off post-shower with towels that are actually dry! Woo!

5. Smoothies! I'm so in love with my new blender. I broke her in this past weekend, making green smoothies for breakfast. A banana, a handful of frozen strawberries, a no-fat Greek yogurt, a handful of fresh spinach, and a few splashes of orange juice. I waited for Brad to give me the thumb's up before I told him there was spinach in it.

6. New food! I didn't take pics, but Brad and I made a great find. The Ideal Place (how ideal!) in downtown Benton Harbor. We felt immediately at home when we walked in and enjoyed our experience from beginning to end. Perhaps it's coincidence, but it's the first place in town where the water didn't taste weird to me, so that was an extra bonus (I'm weird about water, what can I say?). Anyway, Brad and I both ordered off the specials list, which was pretty extensive (but the regular menu had many exciting entrees to look forward to trying later). We started with some homemade rosemary rolls and salads (and wine, of course!); I was SO excited to get a beet salad, which I ordered with goat cheese and balsamic. It was also topped with nuts and mandarin oranges. Yum. My main course (which was offered in small and large size -- guess which I ordered) was a smoked salmon pasta. GIANT homemade cheese tortellini in a gorgonzola sauce with peas (which I even ate a few of), dill, and smoked salmon. How do you think I liked it? ;) Can't wait to go back for dinner and plan to hit $5 martini night with the book club ladies soon. We also are SO pleased to have found a local Greek diner. With what Brad calls "even better than Parthenon" gyros. And that's saying a LOT for us. Had breakfast there twice.

7. No number 7. Just goodnight! :)

13 January 2011

The better to eat you with.

Our house is surrounded in giant icicles. It looks like there's a giant monster chomping down on us.

I'm gonna eatchoo.

PS Blogger friends... My photo problem persists. Every time I add a caption to a photo, it throws the centering off. How are you all avoiding this???

12 January 2011

Lake. Big lake.

Here's what it looks like outside right now:

Mr. Church comes home for lunch.

More on that later... First, house updates (sick of these yet?!)!

With the exception of some much-needed artwork, the living room has really come together.

Adios, hideous fan (and yellow ceiling).

Hello beautiful fan with remote and dimmer option!
And a lovely rug to tie it all together (and to catch some of the fur tumbleweeds).

Next up, the kitchen. But, in the meantime, I have new kitchen toys to play with. I think I mentioned that Brad ordered me new KitchenAid blender and toaster for me for Christmas. Well, they FINALLY came. And they are so fanceeeee! Ha!

Tangerine... tangerine...

Why yes, that IS a "keep warm" function. And a digital screen.

I haven't tested out the blender yet (but I did buy smoothie fixins!), but the toaster is hilarious. You hit the "toast" button, and it very slowly lowers the bread down like a spaceship. The digital screen has a little countdown while it toasts. And then when it's done, the bread very slowly comes back up while the toaster alerts you with a "beep... beep... beep." I giggled a lot.

Back to the snow. Same as house updates, these will eventually stop, but I'm so in awe of my new surroundings that I just assume everyone is as interested as I am.

I went down to our main beach (Silver Beach) on Monday and was totally surprised by what I saw. The beach, which is pretty flat, was covered in giant rolling hills of snow. Well, guess what? Those weren't hills of snow. And they weren't on the beach. When I fell on my butt, then stepped into a giant crevasse, I realized I was actually ON the lake and promptly high tailed it out of there before I killed myself on enormous frozen waves.

This should have been my first clue.

The first row of frozen waves. You can't even see the water over these beasts!

Finally, a huge CONGRATS to Melissa and Shawn on their new bouncing baby boy!!! I think they should get some sort of prize for kicking off babypalooza '11. :)

09 January 2011

Snow globe.

We're snow covered out here on the west side again! Just south of us, they got three feet. We weren't quite that lucky, but we certainly had some heavy, heavy snow yesterday. It started in the morning, so we woke up and headed right to the dog park, knowing the pooches love to run around in the snow.

We thought that was it, but later in the afternoon it started up again. And it didn't stop until well after we went to bed. I'm not just talking flurries, either. This was a heavy snow -- the way snow looks in movies where it's so fake that someone is clearly just dumping buckets of fake snow over the camera. From outside our upstairs front window, it looked like we were inside a snow globe.

"Mooooooom! I'm pooooping!"

When we woke up this morning, the sun was shining and everything looked like a fantasy snow land. This may have been the most perfect, beautiful snow.

That nose is always buried in the snow.

The lake even froze last night. Alas, we had Brad's first work post-Christmas party to attend in Indiana today, so we couldn't do any exploring (hopefully it's still frozen tomorrow -- I can't wait to see it up close). But the pooches did get to make one last romp around when we got home... and something about the snow brings out the bunnies. The very brave bunnies. And stupid. Fingers crossed they continue to outsmart these two.

Everything makes George happy.

Stay warm, friends!

07 January 2011

Life is grand.

Today we took a chance on a new restaurant, and it actually paid off, despite my initial reservations. While I was of course amused and intrigued by the "Cranberry Bog Bar" (come on, that's hilarious), the Grand Mere Inn looks super old fogey and very meat and potatoes. Not helping things was the fact that we went at 5:30 pm (I was hungry!), so we were already setting ourselves up for the early bird special. And while it definitely is on the old-school side, with checkered vinyl tablecloths and pastel paintings on the wall, it has a certain charm to it that's enhanced by the wall of windows that overlooks the lake (which we could have seen if it weren't for the blizzard-level snow). Initially the first few people in for dinner, we got the best seat in the house and got to watch the yes, old, patrons filter in. But let me tell you, these were some jolly folks. With tales of "well... today... I had breakfast... then I went home. Then I did my Friday exercises. I didn't eat lunch, just a few pieces of celery" and bellows of belly laughter coming from all angles of the room, we couldn't help but smile and enjoy ourselves. And the food was pretty delicious to boot. While I couldn't eat it, they served a liver pate with the bread and butter, which I thought was pretty unique... and it smelled DELICIOUS. I strong-armed Brad into trying it, and he had to admit it was pretty good. For dinner, I opted for the salmon special -- I never order salmon, but it came with a Bearnaise and king crab sauce -- and a side of au gratin cauliflower. Oh, and a starter salad with blue cheese that had fresh, crunchy lettuce and chopped veggies, not from a bag. Brad went with the steak and potatoes (which he liked but gave the typical "It's no Outback" response). I loved my dinner. The sauce was light and tangy, the crab was excellent, and the salmon was pretty darn tasty. The portions weren't crazy, so I even had plenty of room for a fluffy piece of coconut cream pie. In and out with plenty of time left in the night to come home and tell you all about it before movie time. That's my kind of Friday.

On a different note, we've wrapped up a few of the house projects I've hinted at lately. Last Wednesday, we tackled our dining room.

"Come on! Let us help! We'll do so good!"

The Ghost of Ceilings Sanded

Brad tackles the new chandelier. In the dark.

Our dingy country yellow dining room is now a glorious shade of... "luna!" Aka super light green-gray-blue. (Seriously, whose job is it to name paint? I want that job.)

Sunday, we tackled the living room, which was a dark green. Not so good for a room that gets little light. We went with one shade darker than the dining room, a more gray green-blue called "clothesline."

All I could think was that Heidi was getting ready for her first victim, a la American Psycho.

It's hard to capture exact color via photo, but this is pretty close (and unless it's a super sunny day, there's so little natural light). The important thing is that the rooms are so much lighter, and cleaner. And the colors make more sense with the changes we've made upstairs. Once we paint the remaining rooms, everything will feel much more put together, and lighter. More and more, this home is feeling like home.