Thursday, August 29, 2013

Orange and Mint Infused Water {Recipe}

I've got another (garden inspired) drink recipe for you all today!  I know summer is coming to an end (say it isn't so!) but I'm still madly in love with infused water.  They make the perfect thirst quenchers on those hot summer days and I'm pretty sure I'll be drinking this stuff throughout the fall too.  They're also SUPER easy to make, so of course I love it.


Ingredients

2-3 large oranges, sliced
10-15 mint leaves (rinsed)
Water

Place sliced oranges and rinsed mint leaves into a large pitcher and fill with water.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours to properly infuse the the flavors.  Pour over ice and enjoy! Want to spruce it up a bit more?  Garnish with mint leaves or an orange slice. 
 
Super easy, super yummy, and super good for you!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Day in Denver

I absolutely love Denver!  It's about an hour away from Colorado Springs and we're lucky enough to head up that way several times a year.  Every time we visit though I end up wanting to live there more and MORE! I just love everything about it.  The atmosphere, the people, the buildings, everything I tell you! 

Well a couple weekends ago we decided to head up that way and visit the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.  We absolutely love that they are a Blue Star Museum and offer free entry to the military and their families (up to 5 members) from Memorial Day through Labor Day.  Anytime a place offers discounts to the military I always make an effort to tell as many people as I can.  Sometimes, I can't help but think that most people have forgotten that we still have many of our armed forces deployed overseas.  So when businesses give military discounts it makes my heart so happy. I know many military families will gladly accept that offer and spend as much quality time together as they can before having to deploy again.

We've visited this museum once before, several years ago.  It was so much fun this time around, now that the kids are a little older.  My daughter said she didn't remember much of her first visit there so many of the exhibits seemed brand new to her.






My personal fave was the Egyptian exhibit.



Here's the view of the Denver skyline from inside the museum.  Love it!



Rain was in the forecast for that day but luckily for us it stayed nice and dry.  Just a little overcast.  After we visited as many exhibits as we could (the museum closed before we had time to visit the dinosaur exhibit) we headed outside. 


We loved walking around the lake that's located right across from the museum. 




The best part of the whole day?  When we spontaneously decided to go paddle boating! I will admit I was a little hesitant at first but it ended up being a total blast.



All four of us fit into one boat and it was so much fun.  I liked that it required team work from the whole family and it was funny to see how each one of us tackled it.  My son and I both sat in the front and we were pretty relaxed about it.  My husband and daughter sat in the back (so my husband could steer) and they were peddling maniacs! It was pretty funny.

All in all it was such a great day.  I'm already looking forward to our next trip to Denver...whenever that may be.

Monday, August 26, 2013

In Sink {Bye, Bye, Bye}

Corny, I know but I just couldn't help myself! As the title suggest this post is about saying good bye to an old sink and hello to a new one.  Actually the sink stayed the same but we switched out our faucet which totally made it look like we got a new sink.

Here's how our previous builder basic kitchen faucet was looking.  Not bad but pretty basic (i.e boring).



Now the funny (or not so funny) part of this story is that installing the actual faucet was somewhat easy.  However, it took 5 (YES, FIVE) trips to Lowe's to get it right!

The real issue was picking out the proper faucet.  We had already gone to Lowe's once that day to get a new faucet for the master bath (I'll share that project and post later).  My husband installed it pretty quickly and with no issues so he suggested we go back and pick out another faucet for our hall bath.  So we went back and picked out another faucet.  Lucky for him he was able to install that faucet even faster than the one before.

I guess he was in the diy-ing mood because after installing 2 new bathroom faucets he told me he wanted to replace the one in the kitchen.  Personally, I was hoping to save that project for a later date because I knew the kitchen sink would be a tad bit harder and take more time.  Did he listen to me though? Of course not! ha ha

Before we headed back to Lowe's for the 3rd time that day we had to see how many holes our kitchen sink had (so that we knew which new kitchen faucet would work).  By looking underneath the sink I counted 4 holes, however my husband said it had 2! Um, that can't be right.  Then there was the kicker! My husband didn't want to go to Lowe's for the 3rd time in one day, he wanted to play video games and completely trusted me to go and pick out our new kitchen faucet.  I told him that we should probably take apart the old faucet first so we could actually see how many holes it had before purchasing a kitchen faucet (since we didn't come up with same numbers). As you can tell I was already a bit annoyed with this project and since he trusted his number over mine I headed to Lowe's to pick out a "2 hole" kitchen faucet.

I came back with a new faucet and my husband started taking apart the old one.  Well, well, well what do we have here? Wow, there are 4 holes in our sink! So I had to go back to Lowe's (for the 4th time) and return the old faucet and pick up a new 4 hole faucet! Again, my husband didn't want to go with me, he was kicking butt on Black Ops.  Way more important, obviously.

So I came back from my 4th trip with another faucet.  Once we opened it my husband was not pleased. Even though it was fitted for 4 holes it didn't come with the proper attachments for our sink.  Let's just say at this point I was not a happy camper.  I basically told my husband he was dragging his butt with me to Lowe's, returning yet another faucet and making sure the new faucet had everything we needed. Cause I'm nice like that ;) So he did and all was well once we returned home (at 9'o clock at night).

And since it was so late in the evening I didn't snap any photos of the actual diy-ing process. It went pretty smoothly and I was definitely impressed with my husband's faucet replacing skills.  He's practically a pro now.

So here it is, the all glorious, 5th times a charm, the "After" of our new kitchen faucet!



Here's some more pics of our new "fancy" faucet. These were all taken the next day when the sun was up.




Ah, she's so pretty!  Kind of makes the whole faucet debacle worth it (kind of).  As you can see in the pics above we are still in need of knobs or handles on our kitchen cabinets.  I'm kind of leaning towards knobs but we'll see.  Looks like we have another kitchen diy project ahead of us.  Here's hoping picking out and installing cabinet hardware goes smoother than this project did.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Mint Simple Syrup {Recipe}

I have mint coming out the wazoo so I'm constantly coming up with new ways to use it.  I happened upon a recipe for Mint Simple Syrup in the August issue of BHG.  It was incorporated into another recipe they had listed for Melon and Mint Lemonade (which I made and it was DELISH!).

The thing I like about simple syrups though is that they can be used in a variety of recipes. So I made another batch of Mint Simple Syrup which I plan to add to more lemonades, adult beverages, and even coffee.

 
Ingredients
 
1/2 cup fresh mint
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
 
In a small saucepan combine sugar and water.  Stir in the 1/2 cup of fresh mint leaves.  Bring to a boil and stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and cover.  Let the syrup stand for up to 2 hours (the mint flavor will grow stronger the longer you let it steep).  Strain after cooling.  Store in the refrigerator, covered for up to 2 weeks.  Makes 3 cups.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Pond

Due to all the rain we've been getting this summer I haven't been able to go hiking as much as I would have liked.  However right down the road from our house (not even a mile away) is the cutest little pond area.  So on evenings when it isn't raining I like to go for a stroll down to "the pond".




It's so easy to get some exercise in when the scenery is this gorgeous.  Even the natural landscape (ok they're weeds) are pretty.




On this particular evening the sky turned a beautiful pink-ish purple.  I was in love!




The only down fall to taking a stroll around the pond has got to be the bugs.  Not a fan at all but with views like that it's not so bad.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Basil Lemonade {Recipe}

I've been browsing the Internet like crazy looking for yummy (and somewhat healthy) recipes for all the goodies I've been growing in my garden.  I happened upon this delicious looking drink here and thought I'd give it a try.

The only thing I did differently was add a bit more sugar since the freshly squeezed lemon juice I added was a bit too strong for my liking.  


Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves (rinsed)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • sprigs of fresh basil (for garnish)
In a medium bowl (I used a mortar and pestle), combine basil leaves with 3 tablespoons sugar. Crush the leaves with the sugar until thoroughly bruised. Once bruised add to pitcher.

Next add water, lemon juice, and remaining sugar to the pitcher. Stir until sugar is dissolved. 

Give it a taste and add more sugar if desired.  Once everything has been mixed, pour through a strainer into a glass and enjoy! You can even add a couple sprigs of fresh basil for a garnish if you'd like.

Monday, August 19, 2013

How to Grow a Backyard Garden

If you've been following my blog for a while then you've probably seen the love affair I have for my little backyard garden.  For about 3 summers now I had a little vertical herb garden hanging on our fence (as seen in this post) but this year was the 1st time I've decided to go all out and think BIGGER! Well bigger but still contained within a backyard.  Oh and did I mention we don't have a super huge backyard?


I came to realize rather quickly that you don't need acres and acres to grow a beautiful edible garden.  So if you're like me and live in suburbia (or perhaps rent an apartment or town home) but still want to try your hand at growing a garden this post is for you!

Build a Raised Garden Bed.  There are tons of great tutorials out there on how to build a raised garden bed. So if you're feeling creative just google away.  We scored big time by purchasing our raised garden bed kit from Lowe's (complete with trellis) for around $50.  Here's how easy it was to install.  A great tip when building your raised garden bed is keep it no larger than 4 feet square.  That way you don't have to step into the planted area in order to tend to it.


Plant a Container Garden.  Don't have a big enough yard for a raised garden? No problem! Container Gardens are perfect and no yard is required.  Container gardens can go just about anywhere! Patios, balconies, even the kitchen counter.  Just make sure to place the containers in an area that will get plenty of sun. Drainage holes in the containers are also key.


Plant Easy Herbs.  Herbs are the way to go! They're relatively easy to grow, require low maintenance, and of course they are good for you! Basil, cilantro, dill, and parsley are easy annuals and grow well in all zones.





So those are my top 3 tips for growing a backyard garden.  What are your favorite tips or tricks when it comes to gardening?  Feel free to share!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Head in the Clouds

The monsoons have officially arrived in the Colorado.  Actually, they arrived about a month and a half ago and I swear the monsoons brought monsoons.  In other words it's been raining cats and dogs here.  Whenever the rain stops though we end up with some of the prettiest skies ever.  So I thought I'd share with you some of the beautiful, cotton candy colored skies we've been seeing over the last month or so.




And I absolutely love it in the evenings when the moon is clearly visible.  This picture was taken from our backyard facing east. 


Then there's the evenings where the clouds are low over the mountains. It's so serene.  I usually get bummed whenever it's so cloudy that it's hard to see the mountains but when they look like this...ah, it's just beautiful.  These were also taken in our backyard but facing west.  I have to admit, I love our views!




What about you? Do you ever go outside and just marvel at the sky? It's nice sometimes to just look up and ponder, wouldn't you agree?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Tips on How to Have a Successful Garage Sale

A few weeks ago we had our annual Garage Sale and it went pretty well! Hallelujah! If you've ever had a Garage Sale then you are well aware that they are no joke.  However, if you follow a few simple tips and tricks it can definitely help alleviate some of the stress.

Now usually we rent the tables we need for the Garage Sale from MWR/Outdoor Rec but due to the new furlough days the fee to rent tables (that we only needed for 2 days but would have been charged for 4 days) would have cost the same as down right purchasing brand new tables. So that's exactly what we did.  We figure since we usually have one garage sale a year it was probably time to invest in a couple of tables, that way we can use them again and again.  Luckily, we were able to purchase 2 new tables for around $50 (total).  Not too shabby.

So here are a few helpful tips we've learned along the way.



Plan and organize ahead of time.  We have a storage area in our basement where all year long we stash the items we plan to sell at our next garage sale.  The week before our actual sale we bring everything upstairs and sort through all the items.  This is also a great time to start pricing them. Many places (like Lowe's) sell yard sale kits complete with price stickers for uber cheap. Pricing items the week before definitely helps save time, especially the day of.

Have plenty of tables.  If you already own a few fold up tables great! If not find out where you can rent some, borrow from friends, or hit up Craigslist.

Advertise up to a week before.  I placed an ad on Craigslist one week out, 3 days before, then the day before our garage sale.  I'd also recommend adding cross streets to the ad as well as the major items you plan on selling.  There are a plethora of garage sale sites out there that you can advertise on but I like Craigslist because it's free! I'd also recommend making some fliers.  We made a few (our address is whited-out on the photo below for privacy purposes) and posted them on the mailboxes on our street.  Just be sure to remove the fliers once the garage sale is over.



Have plenty of cash on hand to make change.  It never fails, the first buyer we usually get is someone who buys something for $1 but hands us a $20.  Anywhere from $30-$75 in cash is usually plenty.  Just be sure to have lots of ones and fives on hand.  I'd also recommend keeping the cash on you (perhaps in an apron) or in a lock box.

Post bold and easy to read signs.  We placed 2 signs complete with arrows out on the street the night before our garage sale.  But first, be sure to check that you are able to advertise in your area.  I know some places don't allow advertisements, which unfortunately includes signs for yard sales. 

Start setting up the night before.  This step is crucial! We try our best to set up as much as possible the night before.  Of course we still have to get up extra early to place certain items out in the driveway but anything that we plan on keeping in the garage we set up and organize the night before.  It saves us SO much time in the morning and earns me a couple more minutes of sleep.  Yay!


Have plenty of help.  Another crucial step the day of.  My husband and kids are big helpers the day of the event.  Garage sales can get pretty busy, especially early in the morning. Having a few extra hands to help as well as answer any questions people may have is a life saver.

Don't be afraid to let the kids join in.  Our kids always set up a lemonade stand and they have such a blast selling lemonade.  I love that they are out where I can see them and they love that they are earning money.  It's a win-win.

Label items clearly.  A lot of people don't want to ask how much an item is and labeling every single little item can get tedious.  So we like to place clothing items in baskets and then label the basket with the clothing size and price.



It's okay to negotiate.  Even though I think we price the items we plan to sell at a pretty reasonable price we're always prepared to negotiate.  Our main objective during the sale is to get rid of as much as possible.  If we make money from it that's awesome, but we're more concerned about finding that stuff a new home (so it isn't stuck in ours). We made $200 from our last garage sale and considering we weren't selling any large items (like furniture or TVs) I'd say that's pretty good!

Be sure to include 'guy' stuff.  Holy moly! Anytime we sell "guy-oriented' stuff it sells like hot cakes! Actually it's the first stuff we end up completely getting rid of.  Sometimes kids clothes, toys, or home d├ęcor items are left behind after the sale but anything my husband has for sale is usually gone within the first 2 hours! So don't underestimate things like old video games, sports paraphernalia, hunting and fishing equipment, etc. People will buy them!

Here's how things were looking after about 60% of our stuff had been sold. 



Donate the rest.  We don't want any of that stuff making it's way back into our basement so whatever doesn't sell we pack it up and donate it to Goodwill.  Sure it's extra work to add on to an already busy day but it feels so good once it's all said and done to come home to a clutter free home.



Well folks, those are some of my best tips for hosting a rockin' garage sale.  What are yours?  Do you have a funny garage sale store?  Feel free to share!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Angelic Ambitions {Giveaway}

I have such a fantastic Giveaway planned for you all today! Words can't express how excited I am to have the lovely Samantha from Angelic Ambitions participate.  She is offering one very lucky reader $25 to spend in her beautiful etsy shop.  But first, lets get to know Samantha a little bit shall we?  Here's her incredibly inspiring bio.

I'm the proud mother of three wonderful children and wife of a recently retired US Army Infantryman who has supported me on my journey to bring my dream of opening my own jewelry shop to life. I've been creating all sorts of different things for some time now. When I started making jewelry it was simply something I did for my daughter and myself; but as time went on I fell in love with creating jewelry and only being limited to my imagination.


Currently I'm designing and creating several types of jewelry which range from Murano beads and European charm bracelets, to handmade one-of-a-kind items. I work with all types of materials (leather, natural stones, stainless steel, resins, polymers, fabrics) and most recently I have began doing hand stamped items. I'm continually trying to come up with new and interesting pieces in order to expand not only my business, but also my knowledge and skills with different creative techniques. 
My biggest accomplishment thus far came in the fall of 2012, when I was accepted as a member into The Artisan Group (TAG) and since then I have participated in several gifting opportunities. Some of which have included gifting opportunities to Celebrities and gifting to stylists for consideration to be used in TV Shows and even a Movie!I am even participating in a gifting for the GBK's 2013 NY Fashion Week Luxury Gift Lounge!!
But some of the work I've found most rewarding would be that I've gifted for charity donation auctions like the 2013 Butte Humane Society 102nd Anniversary Gala, and the upcoming 2013 One World Foundation charity auction. All of which I couldn't have done without being a member of The Artisan Group. 


Samantha has been such a blast to partner with and I'm honored to share some of her amazing jewelry pieces with you all today. Here are a few of my personal faves.





Gorgeous pieces aren't they?  I really love the military themed bracelets she offers in her shop.  They are absolutely adorable!  So, want to know how you can win? Just fill out the widget below.  Good luck! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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