Friday, December 31, 2010

Ringing In The New Year

Happy, Happy Friday. I can't believe it will be January 2011 tomorrow. This year has gone by so fast. This time last year, we were still living in California. Danny was still working at a job he hated. And having just quit my job, I was looking for ways to contribute to our income.

And now... what a difference a year makes. Moving to Jackson Hole has more than transformed the geography of where we call home. The quality of our lives has improved. We're both healthier, happier, and motivated. I'm also a year into the best job I've ever had- working with brides and creating hair flowers for their special day. I wake up everyday, and instead of groaning and counting the days to the weekend, I feel refreshed and ready for whatever lies ahead.

Seeing the effects of our new lifestyle on my husband has perhaps been the most rewarding. This time last year, I was waking up with him at 3:45am to get him off to a job that drained every ounce of happiness out of him. He sat in a minimum of 3 hours of traffic a day. And he was unhealthy. He took up smoking to deal with the stress, gained weight, and seemed tired no matter how much sleep he got.

And now... this is him.

He rock climbed at least 3 times a week during the summer, including the tallest peak in the Tetons. He also rafted, hiked, lost weight, quit smoking- and most importantly, is happiest I've seen him in a long time.

Instead of sitting in traffic to where we want to go, we walk.
We're surrounded by God's natural beauty.We've gone from having a house and a large yard to a duplex with no yard. So we walk Maverick twice a day around the neighborhood

As often as we can, we buy localI saw a double rainbow :)We experienced all 4 seasons for the first time in our livesAnd I feel alive.

We are living each day with purpose. Choosing what we do and how we live- instead of feeling "stuck" like we did before. There are definitely challenges and obstacles in choosing to live this lifestyle- Our income is less, and living in a town dependent on tourism means we have our down months with very, very little money. Our friends and family are far away. But we're making new friends, and meeting people with very similar stories to ours.

With how much happened this past year, I'm excited to see what's in store for us. Where will we be a year from today? Will this next year be as radical as this last one? Will we be living somewhere new? Doing something different? I'm not sure. But I'm looking forward to what's in store for us. And I'm excited to see what's in store for you my readers.

Happy New Year's Eve!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Winter Time

I am loving my first winter here in Jackson Hole. I love watching the snow flurry outside, while I enjoy the warmth indoors. I love stomping through fresh snow when I walk Mavi... and seeing his little paw prints as well. And I love running in it at night. Actually the only time I enjoy running is when it's dark- and it's either raining or snowing. I know- my husband thinks I'm strange as well. But running at those times has a meditative quality that both relaxes and energizes me. Sounds are muffled. Precipitation is falling around me- and all I hear are the beat of my shoes hitting the pavement. It's wonderful.

Last night we walked into town to see True Grit and Danny took my picture near the lit up Elk Antler Arch in town. The whole park is lit up and it's absolutely beautiful.And here are a couple pictures I took out our window on Christmas day. We had a freeze frost the night before so everything was a gorgeous, furry white when we woke up.I am loving my Winter Time- and I hope you are enjoying yours as well- whatever the weather is like :)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!!!

Merry Christmas from Jackson Hole! I wish you all a wonderful day surrounded by family and friends!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Holiday Baking 3: Nell's Wonderful Peanut Butter Cookies

I realize my last few posts have been a bit sugar heavy... but I can't let up just yet. Here's a recipe for some yummy chocolate chip peanut butter cookies I made last night- so good. My notes are again in red.
Nell’s Wonderful Peanut Butter Cookies from the 1930’s. Heirloom Baking with the Brass Sisters by Marilyn Brass and Sheila Brass (Recipe taken from Food & Wine Best of the Best vol.10)

Makes 42 Cookies (Mine made 33)

1 ¼ cups flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ cup butter
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup sugar
½ cup smooth brown peanut butter
1 egg
½ cup broken salted peanuts (not dry- roasted) (I left these out since I didn’t have any on hand)
½ mini chocolate chips (I used regular)

1. Set the oven rack in the middle position. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cover a 14 inch by 16 inch baking sheet with foil, shiny side up. Coat the foil with vegetable spray or use silicon liner (I’m lazy and didn’t do either)
2. Sift together flour, baking soda, and baking powder. (I whisked them together)
3. Cream butter, brown sugar, sugar, and peanut butter in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add egg and mix thoroughly. Add sifter dry ingredients. Fold in peanuts and chocolate chips.

4. Chill dough in the refrigerator for 1 hour, or until it is firm enough to handle with floured hands or wearing disposable gloves (I went ahead and skipped this step since my dough was already firm enough), roll dough into balls about 1 inch in diameter. Place balls on baking sheet 2 inches apart and flatten with the bottom of a glass dipped in flour. Bake 12 minutes (Since I live in the mountains, I baked mine for 11 minutes). Cool on rack. Store between sheets of parchment paper or waxed paper in a covered tin.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

From Our House to Yours

Last week I packaged up all of the baked goods I'd been working on and sent them out to family and friends. The goodies included: Homemade Honey Maple Granola, Cinnamon Bread, Melt in Your Mouth Fudge, Dreamy Chocolate Toffee, Sugar Cookies, and Island Cookies. (Please excuse the grainy photos- they were taken with my phone).I reused glass jars I'd been saving throughout the year, and used them to hold the Homemade Granola. I used scrapbook paper in red, white, and green, as well as some index card to do the labeling. And then attached them with either red and white baker's twine, green Japanese masking tape, or good ol' staples and tape.I used a lot of tissue paper on the bottom for cushioning as well.
It took me way longer than I thought to package everything up- but I really enjoyed doing it and am already getting ideas for how to improve next year.

For example:

* Glass jars = expensive shipping. I'm using Priority Mail boxes next time for sure instead of Parcel Post
* Homemade Granola does not hold as well in glassine bags. I mixed up who got jars and who got bags. Next time they need to all be in airtight containers.
* Premake tags before Packaging. Doing everything at once makes for 6 hours too long :)

Did anyone else send out homemade goodies this year?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Relationship Day

A few days ago, I did my Best of the Bees post on Weddingbee. And because I couldn't decide between a couple of our recaps, I dug a little further into my post history- and that's when I restumbled upon Relationship Day- the day Danny proposed. And since today is the 3 year anniversary of that day, I decided to post it on here as well. Enjoy :)

Relationship Day is what we call the day Mr. Espresso proposed.

December 21, 2007:

After a long day of shuffling through crowds to finish our Christmas shopping, a spur of the moment date night was just what I needed. Thank goodness I had enough time for a hot shower to relax my tired, worn muscles... too many bags and a purse full of lists had taken a toll on my shoulders. Out of the shower and into some charcoal gray slacks and a slimming black sweater: my go to outfit when I need to look nice on the run. Make- up and a partial blow dry. I'm done.

"Baby it's cold outside."

So glad I picked up that cashmere scarf at the thrift store last week. Three dollars was such a steal! And the color- periwinkle blue- makes me love it even more. I add a black wool coat to the scarf and I'm ready to go.

The drive to Newport passed by in slow motion. Content and quiet, we listened to music and drove through the toll roads. Thinking back, he was probably quiet from the nerves, but I didn't suspect anything. I was just enjoying the view and happy to be out of the hustle and bustle of the crowds.

Since we're both not hungry for dinner yet, we stop in at the Island Hotel for drinks. ooooh fancy. A dry martini for him and oh... for me? I'm a classy dame, just give me a pint of Stella. Mr. E smiles at my drink of choice and says he loves that about me. I hardly drink, but when I have a glass, I'm either sipping a dry red cab or a light cold beer.

Time passes, our drinks our gone, and I'm starting to crave more than peanuts. I suggest dinner and he responds with, "ok- anywhere you want to go." I am seriously loving Date Night.

This is where things start to get crazy and confusing. I suggest one restaurant, he suggests a movie. What? That's not how it goes... But suddenly he's not hungry. We compromise and decide to go by the movie to see what time it starts, and if it's starting soon, to grab some snacks and have a late dinner afterwards. This was no sacrifice at all for me. I love this theater! It's the old Lido theater down in Newport. There are black light sharks on the wall, you can sit in the balcony, and they sell Toblerones at the concession stands... need I say more? So we drive by the theater and Juno is starting in 5 minutes! Yay- perfect timing! I turn to Mr. Espresso happy that we made it in time, and he's already driving off... now he wants to take a drive down the peninsula. I am seriously thrown by my indecisive boyfriend. First he's hungry, then he wants to watch a movie, and now he'd rather take a drive... ah! Now there's no dinner and no Toblerones! Was I suspecting anything? Not at all. My mind just thought that he didn't really want to see Juno and that he got unlucky with the timing.

So we take a drive down the peninsula "to see the Christmas lights." We walk around the Wedge, drive by the place I used to share with my best friend (now MOH), and he turns to me with another suggestion... he's hungry again. Really?? Once again, he asks where I would like to eat? I'm almost scared to answer, but I suggest Villa Nova, an Italian place on the waterfront. He passes it and turns into the Rusty Pelican... "on accident." But since he doesn't want to confuse the valet- we might as well get out and eat there. If there was ever a night that aliens took over my boyfriend's body- I was thinking this was it.

I step out of the truck. The valet closes my door. And Mr. E is... what's he getting out of the back? He's having trouble. It's too large. He heaves it out. It's... a large open top box holding 6 bottles of wine! What the heck? I'm embarrassed... we look like a couple of white trash winos! 6 bottles for 2 people!

Babe!! I say in a hushed "What the heck" kind of tone.

He hikes the box onto his shoulder, smiles at me, and tells me to come on.

Inside my head and visibly on my face: What? No way! I'm not going in there with that! All that wine for the 2 of us!

But do I say any of that? Nope. My feet feel cemented into the ground, my forehead is plastered with confused lines, and I'm pretty sure my mouth was open enough to catch every fly in the county.

I'm speechless and he's smiling at me.

OK- little side note here- I know probably all of you smart cats would be suspecting something at this point. But you weren't there. You didn't experience the date night with the weird and out of sorts boyfriend that I did. So this was just the cherry on top for me. My boyfriend was going crazy and smiling with 6 different bottles of wine in his arm... AA here we come.

Somehow, I get the nerve to walk into the restaurant. The hostess is smiling bigger than usual and tells us our party is waiting for us. Our party? Here we go- slow motion again. You know that feeling right before you're about to faint? Your head is fuzzy. Noises become warped into each other... like you're hearing everything from under water. In this moment, that is where I am. I'm following somebody. Mr. E is behind me, and then I start to see them, one by one. My sister, my mom, his brother, his parents, his best friend, my best friend's boyfriend, my best friend, my dad, my step- dad, my... wait- why's my dad's head bicked and he's sitting next to my step- dad? Oh well, my brother, his sister, and there's a chair for me. I sit. I look at everyone. They're all smiling at me, I'm still underwater. I turn to look at Mr. Espresso. He's still standing, and now he's holding two, single- spaced typed pages. And then he starts...

The most beautiful, funny, and meaningful speech I'll ever hear. I'm laughing at parts, crying through most of it, and smiling. And I've never seen him more confident and peaceful than I did in this moment. He began with how we met, how I broke his heart freshman year, and surprised him by asking him out only 2 years later. He talked about our travels, concerts, graduations, and baptisms. He thanked my family and friends for loving him. And then he turned and looked only at me: The last page was his proposal, and because he typed it out, I get the pleasure of reliving it word for word every time I bring it out. I've thought hard on whether or not to post it on here. I want to because it's so absolutely thoughtful, touching, and amazing that I want to shout it from every rooftop. But then I don't want to because... well because it's ours. And I know that even copying it down word for word won't convey all of the emotions and feeling behind it.

(Here we are at the same table just a year before)
So instead, I will tell you the reason behind all the craziness leading up to our proposal. The reason Mr. E kept changing his mind was because he was waiting for everyone to get there. His plan was to go straight to the restaurant from drinks but everyone was not there yet. So because I was anxious to get out of there and get some food, he had to keep coming up with different places to go. Poor Mr. E. :)

The reason I was surprised at my dad's head is because a few days earlier when I had seen him, he had a full head of hair. But I guess when he attempted to give himself a trim for our special day with the electric razor, he forgot to check the length and ended up bicking his head :)

And BTW: Here's the Beauty I'm rockin courtesy of Mr. Espresso. The man has good taste :)

Monday, December 20, 2010

New Items in Silver Pencils Etsy Shop

There are two new items in the Silver Pencils Etsy Shop Today. I haven't had a lot of white items in the past... and since that does seem to be a popular color with weddings I thought I'd throw some in :)

The first is Everleigh
and the second is Orchard

Friday, December 17, 2010

It's My Birthday!!

Today is my Birthday! I am 26. I don't think there's really anything special to turning 26, but the fact that I'm celebrating somewhere new is exciting. And my best friend in California called ahead and bought me my favorite chocolate cookie at a place here in town... so I get to skip on over there after my stop at the Post Office, where a fresh, chocolate chip cookie is awaiting me- isn't that sweet?! And then once Danny gets off work, he's taking me out to a nice, romantic dinner here in town. I love birthdays! Especially mine :) I hope you have a wonderful day today too- as well as a great weekend!! See you on Monday!
Image from here

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Holiday Baking 2: Homemade Honey Maple Granola

For those of you who want to give slightly more healthy holiday baked goods, I definitely recommend this next recipe. This was the first time I've ever made granola and it was so easy! And really good! I tore out the recipe from Body + Soul Magazine about 2 years ago and am so glad I finally got around to trying it. Once I was done, I packaged it up in little glass jars I've saved through the year and sent them off to family and friends.

So here we go- here is the recipe for the Homemade Honey Maple GranolaIngredients:
  • 1/2 cup of honey
  • 1/2 cup of maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 4 cups of rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees

Combine honey, maple syrup, butter, and brown sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat; reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes, stirring often (I stirred constantly and therefore did the following steps ahead of time)In a large bowl, mix rolled oats, shredded unsweetened coconut, and salt.

Pour the honey mixture over the oat mixture and stir.

Lightly oil rimmed baking sheet and spread granola evenly. Bake for 20- 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown (I tossed the contents about every 5 minutes). Remove from oven and cool before transferring to airtight glass containers. And enjoy! I really liked this recipe and will definitely be trying it and variations of it again.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Holiday Baking: Cinnamon Bread

Last week I finished almost all of my baking: Cinnamon Bread, Homemade Honey Maple Granola, Melt in Your Mouth Fudge, Dreamy Chocolate Toffee, Sugar Cookies, and Island Cookies. There's still a little bit more that I want to do (like homemade marshmallows)- but like I said- most of it is done and has been shipped off to family and friends already too. Yay!

So today- I'm going to share with you the recipe I used for the Cinnamon Bread from Katie Brown's WEEKENDS.
Makes 2-4 loaves (Depending on size)
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 cups of flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk

For Cinnamon Mixture:

  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon (more if you'd like)
  • 1/2 cup of sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Cream sugar and shortening together. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Set aside.

In a bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

Alternately add buttermilk and flour mixture to the egg mixture, beginning and ending with the buttermilk.

For cinnamon mixture: In a bowl, mix cinnamon into sugar to combine. Set aside.

Pour half the batter into greased loaf pans (I used one large and 2 small). Sprinkle with half of the cinnamon mixture. Layer the other half of the batter on top and sprinkle with other half of cinnamon mixture.

Using a knife, cut through the batter to swirl in the cinnamon mixture.

Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the size of your loaf pan, or until a knife comes out clean. (45 minutes is fine for small loaf pans- leave in longer for the larger one).


Friday, December 3, 2010

Happy Friday!!

I am officially back home and it feels soooo good. We arrived last night to a heaping pile of beautiful, white snow and wonderful cold weather... There's also lots to be done: work, groceries, laundry, and emails galore (my inbox is insane since I haven't had my computer!) Being gone for a month is a long time- and although it was wonderful to visit with friends and family- there's also nothing quite like being home... my own bed, our beautiful town, and quality time with my husband are the things I missed most- and now I get to go back to normalcy- so nice. Have a wonderful weekend everyone!