Health, Love & Fire: September 2014

Beach walks, outlet shopping, casino trips and naps . . . why I had a hard time getting up on Monday morning

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Sometimes you have those weekends that seem too good to be true, and that make waking up on Monday morning and rolling your butt out of bed on time nearly impossible. This weekend was one of those weekends. And while they are so good you don't want them to end, they inevitably do! So instead of focusing on the week ahead, why not share a few pictures of the couple days I keep wishing were on replay.

One of my favorite reasons for living where we do is the fact that there's so much to do in just a short drive. In an hour and a half I can be up at Mt. Hood skiing or snowboarding, in an hour I can be at the beach, in 10 minutes I can be at 50 different wineries, and in between all of those distances I can be at  hundreds of parks and hikes. We try to make it out of town and out of our house as much possible before the weather starts to get all rainy for months at a time in the winter. With our current living situation, any break and getaway seems that much better. We are really fortunate that Dan's parents have a beach house that we are able to use so we have no excuse besides busy lives for the fact that we don't make it there more often. (especially because Cooper absolutely loves it there) Every weekend that we do make it down there reminds me how relaxing it is to get away and how nice it is to be able to have some of our own space again. But instead of rambling on about the beach walks, outlet shopping, sunset dinner, casino trip, and nap time that filled our weekend, I'll just share a few pictures!

Do you have some place close that you love to get away to but never make it there enough? My new goal is to try to make more opportunities to explore things close by and soak in more relaxing time with my favorite guys!

And because I was wishing it was the weekend all day yesterday, I re-did my about page and in honor of the fun new page, I'm offering 50% off of my sponsorship options with the code ABOUT.

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Starting To Feel Like A House

Monday, September 29, 2014

It's really an accomplishment that our future neighbors haven't called the police on us yet for the number of times a week we either drive by or go in our new home. We rarely go two days without going by to check out any progress that's taken place. Partly because it's exciting to see everything come together, and partly as an excuse to get out of our current living situation. But it can be hard to stay excited about the whole process when you stop by a few days in a row and see nothing happen. But this week it was the exact opposite.

On Sunday we opened the door and for the first time, it really felt like a home! Instead of being able to look from one side of the house through all the framed walls to the other, each room was finally taking shape. All the drywall had been hung, and the walls had all been mudded. It's crazy to think that the only things left for the walls are texture and paint and they'll be finished. Seeing a part of the home get so close to the final product has me over the moon excited, and maybe a little shopping crazy. Dan keeps reminding me that we don't have to have the entire home decorated and finished by the time we move in, but I'm not listening loving planning!
House all sided! 
I'm absolutely loving our covered front porch  & the entry in to the house 
View looking from the living room at the kitchen
View from the kitchen looking at the living room 
The stairs up to the bonus room and 4th bedroom 

This is the first week that it's really starting to set in that this is going to be our new home and in a little over a month we are going to be able to call this place ours! I can't wait to see the rest of it come together and share all the progress and choices we made with you! Now I'm off to stalk the builders go drive by the house again to check on any more progress! But while I'm doing that, you should check out this awesome giveaway I'm a part of. I know I will be entering and trying to get some of that cash to buy more home decor stuff for our new home! 

morganmegan | heather | karissa
terin | tawnya | mar | maegen
lauren | katie | kate | vanessa
amy | karli | libby | caroline
a Rafflecopter giveaway

thank you so much for getting yourself entered...and very best of luck!

should you get a wild hair and want to participate in next months group giveaway, check out your options on September Farm's advertise page!

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The beginning . . . deciding to build our home

Friday, September 26, 2014

I'm sure it comes as no surprise to most of you that the husband and I are building a house. At this point you may be sick of hearing me talk about it, but unfortunately for you I'm not done. When we bought our first home, it was still in the early stages of construction so we got to see a lot of it come together, although the decisions we were able to make were fairly limited. Our budget was tight, the options from the builder were even smaller, and we weren't really in a place where we knew for sure that the house was definitely going to be ours so we we apprehensive about making any decisions money wise before we were sure.

Fast forward a few years to where we are at now. The decisions and excitement around our new home are night and day different from our first experience. Not only have we gotten to make nearly every decision and see our dream come to life, but we actually picked out and tweaked the exact floor plans we ended up choosing. And since the entire process has been all about our decisions and choices, I really want to document it all from the beginning, so I'm going to back track a bit (just in case anyone is curious about our floor plans and how we came to the point we're at now).

Dan and I had been talking about trying to move and find a little bit larger home that we could start a family in for a while. A year earlier we had talked to a mortgage broker and realized we weren't financially able to move just yet. We still owed too much on our home and the house values hadn't gone up enough to make it worth it. So as disappointed as we were, we decided to sit tight and see how things might change in a year or two. And thankfully, that year provided us with the value increase we needed to make it possible! Deciding to take that step, list our house and start the house hunt was a terrifying and exciting decision all in one. We were thrilled about the opportunity to move forward with something we'd talked about for a while, but had no idea where to start. So I did what I always do when I'm unsure or overwhelmed, I made a list.

Things we definitely want in a new home:                       Things that would be nice to have:
- 4 bedrooms                                                                           - A bonus room
- An open living/kitchen                                                         - A soaking tub in the master bath
- A fireplace                                                                             - Covered porch or patio
- Air conditioning                                                                    - Large yard
- Fenced yard
- Good schools/Neighborhood
- Stay in the same town

We looked at a few listings online, toured a few newer homes in our area, walked through lots of current construction homes and weren't really finding anything that fit exactly what we wanted. I would check real estate websites daily and started realizing that we could pay the same amount for a brand new home that we could design ourselves than we would for a home that was already 10 years old. It seemed like a no-brainer. We talked with our real estate agent, walked through some homes, looked at some plans, met with our builders and quickly found our dream home!

Here's the plan we decided on . . .

This plan ended up having everything we were looking for, and we even got to make some changes to the upstairs. Our builder has only built this house one other time, so I love that it won't be exactly like someone else's. Our house currently just got finished being sided and getting all the drywall installed and they are now working on the roads! I can't wait to move in and make this house our home!

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Unique Summer Festivals

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Summertime in the Pacific Northwest means an abundance of summer festivals. You can find festivals featuring hot air balloons, flowers, beer, and art. I try to get out and about as much as possible in the summer to check out all the fun things happening in our area. It's one of my favorite reasons for living where we do, there's always something to do!

This weekend, my parents and I ventured out and about to one of the more unique festivals I've gone to, the Sidewalk Art Festival. Now I'm not sure if you're envisioning lots of local vendors with booths up and down the sidewalks in town, but that's not what this was. If you follow me on instagram, you already got a sneak peak at what I mean by Sidewalk Art, it was a sidewalk chalk festival. The festival is put on by the local art gallery and cost $7 for members to enter and $12 for everyone else. For your entrance fee you get an assigned square of sidewalk and a box of chalk. The creations were amazing.

It was free to walk up and down the streets to observe the amazing unique creations! The artists ranged from children to adults and the creations were all so different.

Unfortunately it was in the middle of the day and the sun was not cooperating with my photography skills that afternoon. Here are a few from the festivals website that I also loved!

Seeing all the different creations made me wonder, what would I draw with a 4x4 square of sidewalk? and how would I even decide where to start!
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Last weekend of Summer

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

This past Sunday, Dan and I got the offer to spend the afternoon out on our friend's new boat. Obviously we'd be crazy to pass that up, so we packed up some drinks and snacks, grabbed out swimsuits and headed out for a day on the river. We've always talked about wanting a boat, but with our life being so busy all the time, oh and the fact that we're building a new house, we'll just have to soak up any time our friends will let us join them. (for at least a few years)

I try hard to hide my competitiveness as much as I can. I know that I can be a bit bratty when I get upset about losing or frustrated at myself if not instantly good at something, but sometimes it just comes out. Sunday was unfortunately one of those days. . .

We got on the boat around 10am and enjoyed some time just anchored a little ways from the dock for a while, soaking up some sun, chatting with our friends and listening to music. After a little while, the boys decided they wanted to do some wake surfing. Our friend went first to show us all how it's done, and honestly made it look pretty freaking easy. Next it was Dan's turn. And on his first try, he looked like this . . .

I was impressed!

After a bit more lounging, a dip in the river, and picking up 4 more of their friends on the boat, they asked if I wanted to try. In my head, I kept telling myself not to . . . but I knew I'd be really upset if I didn't even try. Let's just say, it was way harder than they made it look. I've never tried any water sports before, except tubing, and I've never gone snowboarding so I struggled. I got up my first time and instantly fell back in the water. After four more attempts, a bruised ego, and a tired body I got up on my last try. And then a few seconds later proceeded to fall again. I was bummed, frustrated, and embarrassed. But at least I tried.

I got back in the boat after wiping out pretty hard and all I could think about was watching Dan easily get up on his first try. I'm a perfectionist in everything I do, even things I've never tried before. I hate loosing and I hate not being good at something. But I need to keep reminding myself that I can't be good at everything. So if anyone has a boat and wants to help me learn how to wake surf or any other water sport, let me know . . . I'll bring the drinks, and I'll do my best not to pout too much! For now I'm off to pop some more Tylenol and try to stretch these sore muscles of mine!
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Being A Nosey Blogger

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Each morning as I open my computer and scroll through my feed deciding which blog I'm going to open and read first, I love when a post catches my eye that gives me a glimpse in to the writers life. I figure I can't me the only nosey blog reader (and if I am, just let me think that I'm not alone). So when I saw this post floating around several of my favorites lately, I just had to jump on in and join them.

Name: Libby, but I'll answer to Libs, Lib, Lobster, or Dolly (if you're my dad)

Age: 26. . . will be 27 in December (I give you permission to start your shopping now)

Location: Oregon Wine Country, just south of Portland
Other Half: My sweet husband Dan. Also known as Fireman Dan :) We've been together nearly 8 years and married for a little over 4. He's truly my best friend. Here's a little throwback from that special day.

Working It: This office below is where you can most often find me. I work at a University doing health and student related jobs for one of the colleges.
Secret - I took out the part about my favorite food, cause I couldn't decide! 

Standard Bar Order: I'm usually not too fancy and order either a beer or glass of wine. It's hard to not drink wine when my husband's part time job is at a winery and we even make some of our own, so someone's got to drink it! I'll take one for the team!

Places I Shop: I'm a bargain hunter and hate to buy anything full-priced. Lately I'm trying to hold off from buying any new clothes and put all my shopping money towards our new home.

Beauty Products I Can't Live Without: Again, this answer is currently altered due to the current living conditions I have. When you have to take a shower caddy and your outfit for the day to the bathroom with you so you don't embarrass yourself with your roommate it limits the items you consider hauling with you. But let's be honest, I'm not very good about a beauty regiment anyways, so you can usually find me with a mismatched assortment of moisturizers, foundations, and all the other face essentials needed to make this girl presentable. I promise I'll work on it when my bathroom consists of more than a three drawer rubbermaid container. #bloggerfail

Bedtime & Wakeup: I LOVE sleep! Always have! And will probably seriously struggle once we have kids and the amount of time I get to spend doing my favorite activity diminishes. But until that time, I will take as much as I can get. Most days I am up no later than 6:30, and in bed no later than 10. What can I say, I'm old!

What I Blog About: Anything and everything, like canning recipes, birthday parties, wine making, more parties, our pets, building our house, travel adventures, and everything in between.

Why I Blog: I blog because I love that it's a place where I can share me and make new friends. It's my space and I love that I can fill it with anything I want. I've loved getting to know so many awesome people through this little space, and I hope to continue to do that. Please if you're new around here, say hello!
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Mrs White . . . in the Library . . . with the Candlestick

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Clue reference anyone? While I haven't played that game for years, especially the new credit card/electronic version (vomit anyone?), I totally felt like I was in the middle of the game on Saturday night. Dan and I had enjoyed a nice dinner and felt like staying out a little later, being a Saturday night and all (truly we're wild old). So a few stops and difficulty parking later, we ended up walking through an unmarked door, up a reclaimed wood staircase, and open another large wooden unmarked door into another world. And no I'm not reliving some sort of Lion the Which and the Wordrobe scenario here. And I had also had no beverages for at least 5 hours prior to this. Not sure why I felt the need to explain myself. Anyway . . .

Dan had mentioned this bar a few times and each time sounded more intrigued about visiting. So when we were already in Portland and it was only a matter of a few blocks and finding parking, I couldn't really keep him from checking this place out any longer. And I'm glad I didn't. I have to admit, I wasn't thrilled with the idea, apparently I'm getting super old and a total worry wart, but I was already thinking it was getting late and I needed by beauty rest sleep. Once we got seated and I relaxed a bit, I was amazed at the surroundings. An entire wall of any liquor you can imagine, old leather couches, green library lights, and seemingly false doors filled my eyes with amazement, and I hadn't even had my drink yet.

The Multnomah Wiskey Library was amazing. This place was like stepping into a time warp. I felt as if I had joined some secret society, or been sucked into the game clue and I was supposed to figure out who killed who in the library with what murder weapon. It's honestly one of the coolest places I've visited in Portland. Maybe I need to get out more, but don't burst my bubble. From tasty new drinks, to a fun night of talking and enjoying some time away from our stressful living situation, this place was perfect. Page after page of different drinks to buy, a tasty food menu, and the perfect atmosphere for a relaxing fun evening. We will definitely be back . . . let me know if you'd like to join us!

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Too Many Tomatoes, Too Little Time

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

I've mentioned a few times that Dan and I belong to a community garden in our area. Now when we first started talking about joining one of these, in my head I started thinking that it would be this random plot of blank land with a wooden fence around it and planters inside, that different people could wander in and out of, spend time pulling weeds and planting things and take whatever they wanted. I'm not sure where that image came from, but that's definitely not how it works.

Our garden is part of a larger farm a couple miles from our house. That same farm supplies organic produce to most of the local grocery stores and health food markets in our area. To become a member of the garden you can either choose to just do a subscription pick up (a CSA) where you get produce once a week. It is determined for you, and you only get a certain allotment each week. To be a part of the CSA, it costs $420 for a summer share and $250 for a winter share. And while the fresh produce is definitely worth that price to us, we wanted something where could get a large quantity of food and for a lesser cost, if possible.

Luckily, the same farm has a community garden option as well.  With the community garden membership, it costs $12 per adult, plus 12 hours worth of work to be a part of the summer share. So for $24 and 24 hours worth of work at the farm, we are able to get as much local organic produce as we want. I definitely recommend looking in to any local farms in your area to see if they have any similar programs available. It's so awesome to get so much fresh produce all summer long, that is until you have too much!

Wednesday, Dan was working at the farm when they told him our tomatoes were ready. On the application every year you can specify if you want large quantities of anything for canning, and I always check the box for tomatoes. (And they always seem to end up ready during a week that I'm crazy busy!) So Friday night we got to work canning tomatoes. I decided on a garden fresh salsa and just a basic seasoned tomato. We had made so much tomato sauce last year, that we decided to keep it a little simpler this year. Here's the final product and the awesome recipes we used.

Garden Fresh Salsa: 
This recipe is taken and slightly altered from the Ball canning recipes. I decided to double the batch because I had so many tomatoes, but feel free to make as much or as little as you want. Mine turned out fairly spicy, due to the extra chili pepper sauce I added. 

10 cups chopped cored peeled tomatoes (about 25 medium) 
5 cups chopped seeded green bell peppers (about 4 large)
5 cups chopped onions (about 6 to 8 medium)
2 1/2 cups chopped seened chilli peppers - I used a mixture of jalapeƱos & anaheim peppers (about 13 medium)
1 1/4 cups cider vinegar
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tbs finely chopped cilantro
1 tbs salt
1 tsp hot pepper sauce (optional) - I know I put more of this in . . . oops
6 (16oz) pint or 12 (8oz) half pint glass preserving jars with lids and bands

1. Prepare boiling water canner. Heat jars and lids in simmering water until ready for use
2. Combine tomatoes (already peeled, corded and blanched), green peppers, pinions, chili peppers, vinegar, garlic, cilantro, salt and hot pepper sauce in late sauce pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and boil until thickened slightly, about 10 minutes.
3. Ladle hot salsa into hot jars leaving 1/2 in headspace. Make sure to remove air bubbles. Wipe rim and center lid on jar. Apply band and seal tightly.
4. Process in boiling water canner for 15 minutes. Remove jars and let cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours.

Seasoned Tomatoes: 
12 cups halved, cored and peeled tomatoes (about 24 medium, or 8 pounds) 
Spices blend
Lemon juice
Salt, optional
6 (16oz) pint glass preserving jars

Spices Blend - the blend I used was for an italian blend, since I figured I would probably be using those tomatoes mostly for italian recipes. 
4 tsp basi
2 tsp thyme
2-1/2 tsp oregano
1-1/2 tsp rosemary
1-1/2 tsp sage
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp hot pepper flakes, optional (I didn't include these in mine) 
ADD 2-1/4 tsp of spice blend to each pint jar. If omitting hot pepper flakes, use only 2 tsp.

1. Prepare boiling water canner. Heat jars and lids in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Set bands aside.
2. Combine tomatoes with just enough water to cover in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil gently for 5 minutes.
3. Add specified quantity of your chosen spice blend, ¼ tsp Ball® Citric Acid or 1 Tbsp bottled lemon juice and 1/4 tsp salt, if using, to each hot jar. 
4. Pack tomatoes into hot jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Ladle hot cooking liquid over tomatoes leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe rim. Center hot lid on jar. Apply band and adjust until fit is fingertip tight. 
5. Process filled jars in a boiling water canner 40 minutes for pints and quarts, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. 

So while the timing might not have been fabulous for canning, I am excited to have all these tomatoes to eat over the next year. If any of you would like to join me in my kitchen the next time I can, please come on over! Just bring your fun apron and some wine! And as always, feel free to share your favorite canning recipes! 
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