Christmas 2013

Well, being that it’s February 9th I’m pretty behind. I have been meaning to post these photos along with countless other things for weeks now. The good news is that we accomplished a ton of things for our wedding this past month. I found my dress, we had our engagement photos taken, and both of our wedding bands have been made!

We are absolutely loving our new camera! We managed to get some good photos from over at my Mom’s house (sorry for sharing them so late Hannah!)

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My mom always has such a colorful, festive Christmas tree and of course with color coordinated wrapped gifts.

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Justin managed to make it out from California for the holidays and we are SO glad he did! He’s the life of the party around here.

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I was trying to take pictures of the table and Hannah started photo bombing – haha What do you think of this one now Hannah!?

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There’s a picture of the table with all the delicious brunch goodies!

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Hannah and Marcel got Charlie an elf costume for Christmas. I think it was a little too snug though… poor Charlie

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Ohh yeah, Hannah and I got matching snow boots for Christmas and I with all the snow we’ve gotten this year we sure couldn’t have gotten them at a better time! Thanks, Mom!

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Oh, ya know, just sipping some soda out of my Grandma’s beautiful old pink glasses with a pink paper straw <3

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Another amazing gift we got from my Mom was a tripod for our new camera. We are so excited about this one.

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Too bad we didn’t have the remote for the camera though, even with the tripod we still weren’t able to get everyone in the same shot together.

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I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season themselves! And next year I need to make sure to get pictures from all our stops.

Harvesting and Drying Thyme

Living in the western suburbs of Chicago, our weather is not conducive to year round fresh herbs. And if you are like us, we never get close to using them all up in the summer months (and there is always a big surplus by the season end), so we go through a seasonal harvest to preserve and enjoy our herbs all winter long. I don’t know what it is, but there is something very rewarding about growing all the herbs you’ll need for summer, and then harvesting, drying and using them throughout the rest of the year, and then starting the cycle all over again in the spring.

This current method I use for Thyme, but for thicker herbs like Rosemary just allow a little extra drying time.

What You’ll Need:
Herbs
Sharp scissors
Fishing line or string
Clothes hangers (with the built in garment hooks)
 
Drying Thyme Supplies

Directons:
*Ideally you should clip your herbs just as they begin to flower to ensure the highest level of oil and potency, but I’d rather enjoy them throughout the summer and harvest them when the growing season is over. I still think they are potent enough, and you can always just adjust to taste on any recipe and add more.
1. Clip you herbs with sharp scissors or a sharp knife, removing any dead or old leaves
 
Chopped Thyme
 
2. Clean with cool water and thoroughly dry with paper towel – moisture can lead to mold
3. Separate into smaller manageable bundles
4. Cut and loop sections of string and individually tie each herb bundle. The looped string will leave an easy way to hang them
 
Loops for hanging thyme
 
5. Hang your bundles onto the hangers, one on the center hanger, and one on each end of the garment hooks. Store in a cool, dark area (I used a closet in a spare bedroom) for about 2 weeks or until the leaves are dry and brittle.
 
Hung Drying Thyme
 
6. Separate your herbs and store them in a airtight, cool, dry place again. *The method I use is to place them into a large gallon plastic bag and rub the herbs vigorously to release the leaves from their stem. I then take out the stems and remove any smaller stem pieces I can find. Some people opt to pinch the top of each stem and slide your fingers down each stem, releasing the leaves – but I don’t have the patience for all that…

Spice Rack

In our old apartment we had a spice rack that we LOVED. It took a while for us to find the perfect solution, I spent a lot of time on the internet and Pinterest trying to come up with the best possible option. There are some nice counter top spice racks out there but none that could accommodate the amount of spice jars we had. So we set out looking for alternatives and I found some awesome stainless steel ledges at Crate & Barrel. They were the perfect size to fit right above our sink and housed the spices beautifully. We had an alley kitchen in that apartment so it was so convenient to just turn around from the stove where we were usually cooking to grab a few jars from over the sink right across.

Spice Rack

When we moved into St. Charles for a short period there was no where to fit the racks conveniently so we stuffed all the spices onto a couple of turn table stands in a cabinet. We weren’t really fans of this this solution, the cabinet always seemed so messy and even with the turn tables it was still hard to find what you were looking for if it was hiding behind another jar or something. So, after moving into our new home in Oswego we were determined to get our ledges back up, but they were too long to fit anywhere in the kitchen… so we bought some new shorter ledges! We actually found these white ones at IKEA for a fraction of the price that I paid for the stainless steel ones from Crate & Barrel.

Spice Rack

We keep them on the wall right inside our pantry and are so happy with the convenience and accessibility of everything.