Throwback | diy holidays

Christmas sled

We found this vintage sled in the garage when we moved in – I knew it would be a perfect to add a little holiday spirit to our porch!

This holiday season has varied a little from our norm…

Usually, we’d be knee-deep in greenery and cookie baking by this time in December. But, this year, we have no place to put a Christmas tree yet because apparently it’s not super simple to renovate a 145-year-old kitchen, or something. And, obviously, cooking is hard when your new oven is still shrink-wrapped in the garage. So, my living room still looks like the pic below, but, with some help from my awesome mom who has been visiting (who, side-note, will paint your kitchen cabinets until 6am for you, and do your laundry…) at least the outside of the house is looking festive!

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

The filter makes this pic look way more serene than it feels irl… But, the end of our sea of boxes is near!

Things are different, BUT, I’ve found comfort in some old and new traditions – some of which I’ve shared on FreshlyMinted in the past! And, a white-and-grey-and-butcher block-and-harringbone – and subway tile- rustic farmhouse kitchen is now totally within sight… so I can be patient a little longer ;)

In the meantime, here are a few of my favorite throwback holiday posts and projects:

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Handmade Holiday | Rustic Boxwood Garland & Mini Wreaths, Newsprint Tree, Perfect Christmas Bow and Popcorn garland (I used holly for my garland this year – much more prickly, but just as lovely!)

Salt Dough | Gift Tags & Ornaments 

Secret Holiday Treats | Aunt J’s Top Secret Chocolate Mint Cookie Recipe

A Cookie-Swappers Daydream | Salted Mudslide Cookie Recipe

Enjoy!

Advertisements

“rahrighouse” projects|diy staircase refresh

Things around here are taking shape. Like this one single corner of our bedroom:

Master viewSlowly, but surely. Sometimes more slowly than surely. But we’re getting there!

As I mentioned in a previous post, we are in the midst of renovating a little 145-year-old house in coastal Connecticut. Much of the work we are having completed by (a really awesome, patient) contractor, but there are a few projects that, with the help of my amazing mom, the Husband and I are tackling ourselves. One of those with the biggest impact has been our staircase update!

Stairway before and after

When we moved in, the entire house had hardwood flooring, except a the carpeted  master bedroom, a small landing, and the staircase. It was horrid. So, project #1 was to pull it up. The stairs weren’t horrible, but they weren’t in great shape, either. We knew we didn’t want to completely overhaul them, but they needed something… so, painting it was!

After browsing for ideas, and chatting with our local Sherwin Williams, we chose our paint, grabbed wood filler and a sander, and started:

,m;wgr ef gkpojias]HTBEF ]

1| You can see the original state of the stairway. The wood was finished on the edges only, and wasn’t of high quality. And, that carpet…. woof.

2| After pulling up the carpet and nails, we washed the steps down with a vinegar solution. There were a lot of holes from this, and previous rounds of carpet, and the trim didn’t match along the bottom lip of the steps. We contemplated replacing the trim, but ultimately decided that after filling the gaps, we wouldn’t need to completely replace it.  This saved a lot of work, and we avoided having to find tools we didn’t have on hand. Like, anything but a hammer, screwdriver, and sander, tbh…

3| We sanded with a handheld sander, fine grit. Then, we went ahead and went crazy with the wood filler. Then, we sanded again. Finally, we wiped everything down with a slightly damp cloth to get rid of dust, and prep for paint.

4| We chose SW trim paint in Extra White, and SW Porch and Floor Enamel in Gauntlet Gray for the tops of the stairs – the same color we painted our master bedroom, and part of a very neutral gray palette used house-wide. After sanding and cleaning, we painted the white trim, and every-other step. We only have one staircase, and needed to be able to make it up and down throughout the day while each coat dried! We used a 2″ flat brush, and a 1.5″ angle brush, and a bit of painter’s tape came in handy…

5| We painted each step with two coats of paint, and let it dry thoroughly in-between. I am in LOVE with the finished product. What a difference! After more than a month of heavy use and lots of drywall dust and dirt, they’re holding up wonderfully :)

The stairs were one of the big reasons I fell in love with this house in the first place. You might have noticed a little something embedded in the rail:

stairs penny

It’s an “Indian Head” penny, dated 1899! When I saw it, my history-loving, American-girl-obsessed, authentic-costume-wearing-period-interpreter-in-high-school-self almost exploded. It’s just SO COOL! And now, it graces stairs fitting its historic cool-factor. And that makes me happy.

IMG_8863There are roughly 1,543 other projects in various stages of completion throughout the house, so there will be more updates to come. But, I cannot wait for the big kitchen/dining room/laundry room/bathroom reveal – fingers crossed it’ll be coming soon!

 

Big City Living | NYC tips & favorite things

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetSo, I used to post a lot of recipes. Currently, however, our master bedroom is serving as our kitchen  while most of our first floor is under construction. Though it is complete with mini fridge, microwave, toaster, panini press and espresso maker, even with all of these fabulous amenities, my cooking repertoire is limited, to say the least. So, the recipes will be coming…. but I’m gonna give it a few more weeks… (unless you want to know how to grill a sandwich without catching your bedroom curtains on fire. I’m pretty good at that. ).

In the meantime, as I eat cheese, crackers and apples for lunch again (totally under-rated, by the way. Like an adult lunchable, and who didn’t love those?!), I thought I’d share a few of our favorite things about our brief Big City life!


2015-02-08_1423417429We moved to Jersey City, NJ in freezing early February for a short-term assignment for the Husband’s job. In a small apartment in a tall building along Hudson river, there were a lot of adjustments to make.   Of course, having all of NYC literally at our feet for three months was pretty spectacular. But, there was a bit of a learning curve involved…

 

At first, I was frustrated. The sparkle of those famous lights was so near, but it was roughly -24 degrees, and I had a 9mo old and the trains were crazy, the Husband worked and had a long commute during the week, and I was sure I would only get to admire the sights from afar. Humph. But, after careful observation of the city-savvy parents that surrounded us (and watching every episode of Friends), we realized that the cold + baby + subway was not an impossibility. And, though the weeks were long, we filled every weekend to the brim. A challenge, yes, but a zillion people traversed the snow and crowds every day, little ones in tow, and we found that we could, too!

BedroomView2

Some of Our (more obscure) Favorite Spots

We visited Yankee Stadium, Madison Square Gardens, Grand Central Station, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, made lots of trips in and around Times Square, the Freedom Tower and 9/11 Memorial, MoMA, Museum of Natural History, The New York Public Library, Bloomingdales, Macy’s  and dozens of other shops  and attractions that you already
know are gorgeous. But, here are a few less common stops that should be on your list!


IMG_0389
Hoboken | On the Jersey side, this spot is hopping! Yes, you can visit Carlo’s Bakery, but there are a ton of fun restaurants in this up-and-coming community on the banks of the Husdon. We loved this stroller-friendly biergarten! Tip: Jersey is a super quick ferry or train ride away from the city, and it can be far less expensive to stay on this side of the river if you’re planning a visit. You also get one-of-a-kind views of the city, and easy access to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island! Quick Facts: Also Frank Sinatra’s birthplace, and the filming location for the classic movie, “On the Waterfront” starring Marlon Brando.

Jason BatemanTriBeCa | Short for the “Triangle below Canal street” we visited this area for the first time during the Tribeca Film Festival, and I fell in love! Perfect for celebrity sightings (like Jason Bateman –>) and ahhhhmazing brunch, strolling these streets make you just FEEL like you belong here and could totally make this city home, and have a “squad”, and walk to the gym in heels and stuff like that. Or, you could just go to Starbucks and people watch.

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetUnder the PlazaThe Plaza itself is the kind of place that childhood dreams are made of… perched at the edge of central park, it’s everything that our Eloise books and Home Alone 2 told us it was. The Husband and I enjoyed drinks at the Palm Court on a date night, but the real hidden gem of the place is what’s under it! Perfect with kids, get a casual plaza experience with the dining options, and even pack a picnic to take to the park (like we did for T’s first birthday  – complete with cupcakes!).

2015-04-13_1428889454Momofoku Milk Bar | I had a LONG list of places we HAD to visit when in the city, and Milk Bar was near the top. And it deserved it. The cereal milk ice cream with cornflake topping is as good as they say, and the cookies and bars are even better. You just HAVE to go!Uniqlo | This shop is spreading like crazy, and is well-established on the East Coast and here in CT where we live now. But, for us midwesterners, it was awesome! Like a funky-industrial mix of the good parts of Gap, JCrew and H&M, their clothes are fun, functional, and perfectly priced. They have things for littles, too!

IMG_1186The Gansevoort Market | It’s a good idea to cruise instragram for fun locations to visit when you’re in a new spot. That’s how I discovered this gem! Etheral, historic and packed with good things to eat, this was a fun destination for casual lunch in a beautiful atmosphere!

 

 

 

2015-05-02_1430577185Bemelmans Bar | If you want to feel like you walked onto the set of Mad Men, this spot is a date night MUST. Nestled on the Upper East Side, and named for the artist that created it’s fabulous murals (the illustrator of the beloved Madeline books!), it’s just to die for. Tip: The King Cole Bar is another NYC classic with vintage vibes, and a secret hidden in its mural.

 

Honorable mentionsCheeky Sandwiches – Chicken and biscuits and ginger ale, thanks to the New York Gebert kids for introducing us :) | Eileen’s Special Cheesecake – The Husband doesn’t like cheesecake, so I bought him one and ate both. duh. | The Boathouse restaurant – A very popular spot in Central Park, but they have a less-busy causal outdoor area perfect for sitting with a glass of wine and a toddler!

IMG_0777

Tips & Tricks for Parents

Especially if you visit during the colder months, here are a few ideas for parents planning to visit NYC or any big city with a little one!

IMG_0396Rain cover + Bundle Me | Your stroller rain cover isn’t just for rain, and you have to buy one of these. No blankets falling off every five seconds, no howling wind, and all of the sudden our brunch date with friends when it was 12 degrees was on the table again… Titus and hundreds of other kids we saw each day were cozy for all-day city outings for months with this combo! This has been great for our new adventure here in CT, too. No need to stop enjoying long walks because of the weather!

IMG_0220Stairs + Strollers DO Mix | You’ve just gotta be ok with hauling your stroller up and down stairs for the subway. We were pretty appalled at the lack of accessible subway stations, and figured out quickly that to be efficient, you’ve just got to use the stairs. Though, you could call a cab and hold your child on your lap, and stow your stroller, it’s a lot of effort! We didn’t use a cab once when out with the baby, and never had any real issues. Baby wearing also helps, particularly if you’re trying to train solo!

IMG_1262Pack Small | I didn’t understand the concept of an “urban jungle” until we had this
experience. Dressing for the weather and the tired feet, plus packing the snacks and toys and diapers necessary for 6 hour day in the elements makes you look more prepared for an arctic expedition than a chic day in the city. BUT, everything in the city is tight – small restaurants, small sidewalks, crowded subway cars. We brought our big jogger stroller with us and didn’t touch it! We also opted for a backpack style
diaper bag, and a back carrier for museums. Anything that can be efficient and compact is a game changer (another reason the bundle me was so great)! It can be hard to do with littles, but economize any way you can.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetBabies are babies, even in NYC | It’s ok to feed, change and tend to your baby virtually anywhere. We nursed and changed in museums, at sporting events, in restaurants, on busy streets and subway stations. There are WAY weirder things going on in the city. Trust me. Just go and see what you wanted, go and eat great food, and bring the baby along to (almost) everywhere with you.

At the end of our time in the city, we were ready for some of the more familiar comforts of home – a yard for the baby, peace and quiet, no crowds… but, we’ll always treasure our New York adventures! And fortunately, our new home is just about an hour away! So, if you’re making a trip to NYC, give us a call. We’d love to have a reason to visit some of these amazing spots again, or try something new :)

freshlyminted… again

I thought I had outgrown this name.

No longer a newlywed, not a new homeowner, settled into my career and comfortable in the kitchen, things were pleasantly busy and routine. I wasn’t really a “freshly minted” anything…

And then this happened:

Baby T

And we moved here for a bit:

NYC views

And now we’re living here, and bought a really old house:

Milford, CT - Lower Duck Pond

And nothing is the same, so it’s time to write again.

___

We welcomed Titus in April of 2014, I left a job I loved in January of 2015, and we moved to Jersey City, NJ for four months early this year and soaked up NYC. Then, we lived like nomads between states for about six months, and had some family adventures along the way. Now, we are the new owners of a not-so-new 145-year-old house in costal Connecticut that totally captured my history-loving self the moment we walked in the door. But it needed a little TLC…

So, yep. Not a lot is the same…

The Husband works really hard. And Titus and mama hang out together. A lot. And we’re learning how to renovate a sweet but tired house, live 10 hours from grandmas, explore New England, cook again, make new friends, and how to be a family in the midst of change.

Not my forte. But it’s starting to be.

So, if you’d like, stay tuned. I’m gonna write about my (re) freshlyminted life.

{California} Citrus Salad

Alex BrosSo, let me tell you a story. It’s about how I’m bad at Twitter. But it’s more interesting than it sounds, I swear.

(<—Alex and his bros. This is important to the rest of the story….)

It happened one day when I was watching late-night Cooking Channel TV, and this new show, Rebel Eats, came on. The host reminded me of someone, and I couldn’t pin it down… and then it hit me. HE WAS OUR FRIEND ALEX. But not really, of course. He just talked like him and acted like him and even sort of looked like Alex and his brother.

Justin shots(This is Justin… some similarities, right?)

So, what did I do? I sent this tweet to Alex:

JustinTweet1And then, I went calmly to bed. Until, that is, when I woke up at 5:30a.m. for my morning exercise class and saw a little twitter notification… it was this:

Justintext2And, I almost died. I forgot the cardinal rule of twitter….. anyone can find anything. And, the gig was up. I had insulted a Food Network star. Actually THE Food Network Star. Publicly. I frantically texted Alex to commiserate, but he wasn’t much help:

Text salad 1And then this. This was my pitiful too-early-in-the-morning attempt to salvage the situation:

justintext3Yep. Facial hair. That’s all I got. But, in my defense, you can see that the Green’s have the corner on the market. But, Justin and I can never be friends. So, now you know how truly communication-inept I can be, and how NOT to make friends with a celebrity. The end…

Oh, and the salad connection? Alex is actually an awesome experimental chef when he’s not too busy being a Law/MBA student in San Diego, CA. And, he’s a great friend of the family (remember when we visited his family’s home in Canada?). Well, this is his creation… And it’s a darn good one. Enjoy!

Citrus Salad

California Citrus Salad
Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • Spring Mix (1 lb.)
  • Lemons (2)
  • Strawberries (10-15)
  • Dates, Frozen for easy chopping (10)
  • Avocados (3)
  • Trader Joe’s Champagne Pear Salad Dressing – Feel free to substitute another favorite if you don’t happen to have a TJ’s nearby… like me. *Sob* (3/4 cup)

Directions:

  • 1) Cut lemons into thin, 1/8 inch slices; remove seeds; quarter the slices (The juice mixes with other ingredients as you cut, adding bright flavor!)
  • 2) Cut strawberries into quarters after removing tops
  • 3) Cut dates in half; remove pit; quarter them, then rough chop into small, quarter-inch pieces
  • 4) Cut avocados in half; remove pit; cut the fruit of each half by rough chopping into pieces that are about an inch long and half an inch wide
  • 5) Place spring mix into a large salad bowl
  • 6) Add additional ingredients
  • 7) Pour salad dressing over top
  • 8) Toss salad and serve
  • Enjoy!

So, have you ever met or insulted a celebrity? Do tell… it would make me feel better. Plus, Justin is probably somehow reading this now and disliking me even more ;)

What we’ve been up to…

Wow. Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Easter came and went.

And the 4th of July.

I missed this, but we’ve had a fabulous rest….

Though time is speeding by, we’ve filled it with everything from home projects to vacations, dinner parties to volunteering. It would take way to long to totally catch you up so we can get back to some fun stuff, so instead, here are a few pictures:

Volunteering with Service League for the Mazza Museum – a really magical place.

VolunteerMazza

Super Bowl Paleo fun with homemade cauliflower pizza crust (you know you’ve Pinned it, too…), and coconut-coated baked chicken nuggets. Verdict? We ate it allllllll. 

CauliflowerPizza

Our spare room (aka, the really-nice-storage-space-with-a-desk) actually turned into a real room. With a bed. That my mom and I refinished. And a mattress. Come visit?

Bedroom

The Husband’s parents got visit and sleep on a real bed. Made the whole redecoration totally worth it. That, and always being able to walk into a room with a bed that’s made. That’s pretty great, also.

TheParentsVisit

And there was the local chili cook-off. It’s a big deal. And mostly delicious.

ChiliCookoff

We dressed up like Superman and Lois Lane for a charity gala… and didn’t enjoy it at all (obviously… ;) JK – best thing we’ve done this year! And doesn’t the Husband make a dashing Clark Kent? Oh, that curl...

Lois&Clark

I got the chance to visit my Great-Grandmother. And, THIS is her wallpaper. A recent visit to Anthropologie made me realize how much I love it, and totally wish I could copy it or frame it or something… grandmaswallpaperI flew from cold, cold Ohio to bright blue California for a little family get-away. What a difference a few hours makes!

flighttocali

…I saw these mountains.

calimountains

…and walked along streets like this.

Cali

..and stuck my toes in an icy desert oasis.

California13

Celebrity encounter #1: Saw the Author of “The Language of Flowers”, Vanessa Diffenbaugh, talk about her New York Times Best Seller. She signed my book, “To Rachael, with Tulips…”

LanguageOfFlowersI got glasses. For the first time. Luckily, I just have to wear then when trying to see a ppt presentation or driving at night… or when I want to feel nerdy-chic.

glassesWe went home for Easter, and both wore fabulous footware.

Easter

…and mom made pies.

Easter Pie

We joined the County Club, and I’m learning to love golf. Or, attempting to. At least this place is totally lovely and we get to hang out outside and say, “let’s go to the club for dinner….” I’ve sort of always have wanted to say that…

Country Club

We’re super active in our local Young Professionals organization. It’s lots of fun, and has a ton of neat activities that we have the opportunity to lead. From around here? Check it out!

FYP

We saw BOB DYLAN. Just look at that silhouette… the hair.

Dylan

We went to Traverse City, Michigan and Camped. And ate.

Traverse City food

And my little sibs came to visit while my parents went on a 30th Anniversary trip. And we canoed, tie-dyed, watched a drive-in movie, swam… And ate.

Donuts with kids

Then we went to Cincinnati. And watched baseball. And ate.

FindlayMkt.

So, lots of fun. Lots of adventures. Lots of food…. and I’ve missed sharing it all! So, though we’ve got a full calendar, and plenty of relaxation penciled into our summer schedule, I’m going to do my best to keep up… And, the Husband wants to write a post about his theories on the best way to get a deal when garage sale-shopping. I’m serious.

So, I had to catch you up, first ;)

P.S. I also ate lots of this – my new favorite concoction: Oatless oatmeal. Packed with protein, perfect for smothering with fruit and nut butters. Recipe to come!Oatless oats

Salt Dough {Gift Tags}

Family Christmas 2012My family likes to joke that we have a lot of very important Christmas “traditions”.

Like, where we cut down our tree (Timbuk Farms), that we have to ride the dusty old school bus at the tree farm (even if our tree type is within walking distance), where we eat afterwards (Brew’s Cafe), that we play Holly & the Ivy sung by Roger Whittaker while we decorate, that we always drink UDF egg nog (it’s the best…really), and that somehow Joe is always swindled out of either picking the tree, or putting the star on top.

I think he has a complex.
Tree HuntThough many of them are silly, those goofy traditions are what my Holiday memories are made of… and I love them all. And, my family laughing, joking, poking fun and reminiscing is the BEST part of any gathering… it wouldn’t be Christmas without it.

{Side Note: This year, Joe’s girlfriend Melissa was able to join us, too! It made me think of the Husband’s first time getting the family tree with us (almost nine years ago!). Another thing that made this year special was the fact that we got to walk through the historic home where we had our wedding reception more than three years ago – The Robbins Hunter Museum in Granville, OH. They just renovated, and it’s stunning! More great memories relived…}Family tree dinnerAnother highlight? We actually agreed it was Joe’s turn to put on the star.

He was so happy, he took a bow.

And, that fire. Perfection.

Family tree at homeThese family get-togethers always make me want to buy everyone the PERFECT gifts – ENORMOUS presents that they will remember forever, and tear-up over, and hug me, and tell me I’m their favorite relative…

But, that’s not realistic: I haven’t won the lottery, my parents would be mad if I got Bekah a pony, and Joe hasn’t been able to decide what he wants really for Christmas since 1992. About the same year he claims was the last time he put the star on the tree.

So instead, I decided to make the pretty-cool gifts I DID get them look really sweet. How? With a little velvet ribbon, a little brown paper, lace, pom-poms, twine and these lovely salt dough tags…

Salt Dough tagsHere’s how to do it yourself!

Stamped Salt Dough Gift Tags

(Even if you were a pro at this in Sunday school 20 years ago, you might need a refresher. Also, don’t be tempted to eat the dough. It still tastes as awful as it did back then. Inspiration.)

Dough Ingredients:

  • 1 cup salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1cup water

Other Tools:

  • Rubber stamps – letters, flowers, plants, whatever you’d like
  • Basic ink pad of the color of your choice
  • Small, round biscuit cutter or other cookie-cutter shapes
  • Drinking straw
  • Ribbon or twine

Tags how-toDirections:

  • Mix all ingredients in a mixer until a smooth dough forms
  • Roll out the dough to 1/4″ thick on parchment paper
  • Stamp, with or without ink
  • Cut out shapes (easier after stamping the dough)
  • Use a drinking straw to punch the hole at the top for hanging
  • Place on baking sheet, bake at *250 for three hours

Presents!We chose to use a mix of recipient’s initials, our monogram, simple words like “Joy!”, and vintage-looking prints of animals, flowers, crowns and keys. They turned out great, and added a ton of flair to our gifts. Not quite a pony, but I’m sure your friends and family will adore them – they can use them as ornaments next year!.

I think we found another tradition.

Merry Christmas – Enjoy!