Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Sneak Peek #4

Here is your last Christmas sneak peek!  I'll be taking next week off, perhaps into early January, and then I'll be back to reveal my crazy Christmas plans!  I'll also get to start sharing before and after pictures of the house, because it looks like we'll be moving sometime in there!  So many exclamation points!


Love and Paint Colors,
Leah Joy

Thursday, December 20, 2012


Here's a bonus post to start sharing some house pictures!  We just closed today, so tomorrow we'll start cleaning!  Here are some "before" pictures - mostly of my favorite parts of the house.

This is the ceiling in the mudroom/breezeway.  I love it!!

We have some cool arched doorways like this!

I took all these pictures at night, and this particular room has no lighting, so these are all just how my flash lit it up, but we have these really cool, well-loved, gorgeous wood floors in the bedrooms. 

More cool archways.  (This is in the living room, to the left is the [toothpaste green] kitchen, and you can see the start of the hallway.)

The corners of the ceiling in the living room are like this.

We have a fireplace!  Painted a dreadful color (and apparently not with heat-resistant paint) but still a fireplace!

Okay, not one of my favorite parts, but funny nonetheless.  I think someone decided they wanted to paint the bathroom and picked a color and then painted this much before they realized it's the exact color of fresh morning urine and gave up painting.  And never repainted. :) 


In front of the house.  The room you can see through the windows is the mudroom/breezeway.  The garage is to the left, and the kitchen is to the right.

I promise many more before/after pictures to come, but for the next few weeks, I'll be busy cleaning, painting, and Christmassing.  

Enjoy one more new post tomorrow - and MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Love and New Keys,
Leah Joy

Coconut Truffles

I found this recipe (guess where!  guess where!) and was super excited because Mounds bars are my favorite.  Almond Joys were my favorite when I was a kid, but I always wished they didn't have the almond, so I was thrilled when they came out with the Mounds bar!  Anyway, without further ado, I bring you: the Coconut Truffle - which is just a fancy way of saying "Homemade Mounds Bar".

You may remember (or not, I couldn't really blame you) over a year ago when I shared a recipe that was supposed to turn out like a Mounds bar.  This is simpler because it has fewer ingredients, but slightly more complicated in technique.  However, it is definitely less messy, more attractive looking, and just as tasty.

The original recipe, which is adapted from a Portuguese recipe, calls for (in my mind) strange amounts of sweetened condensed milk.  I can understand measuring out ounces of coconut and chocolate, but at least where I live, sweetened condensed milk only comes in 14 oz cans, and most recipes call for the whole can.  Regardless, I wanted more truffles than either of the others made, because mine was for a dinner party.  15-18 truffles wasn't going to cut it.

I did a little math (shocking!) and decided to approximately triple the recipe, approximately because 4.9 times 3 doesn't exactly equal 14.  I began by pouring the sweetened condensed milk in the bowl.

I then added 10 ounces of coconut (approximately 3 times the original amount).

I mixed it all in and thought it looked a little too sticky and moist, so I added more coconut. I ended up using the whole 14 oz bag.

That chilled in the fridge for a bit, then with wet fingers (that I had to rinse off every 4-6 truffles) I rolled little oval shapes.  Those chilled in the fridge for a while, then I wax papered another small pan and took about 10 truffles off at a time into the freezer.

I melted my chocolate with just a bit of oil to keep it looking shiny, then dipped the frozen coconut shapes into the chocolate, tapping of some of the extra chocolate.  These definitely didn't keep their shape as well as cake batter or cookie dough truffles, but they turned out kind of cute anyway.  Once I took one set from the freezer, I put another set in, so that there would always be frozen truffles for me to use.  I'm all about efficiency.  Sort of.

I was running extremely low on chocolate for the very last truffle (good timing!) so I ended up just mixing that one in with the chocolate.  Not very pretty, but still tasty.

These were fantastic.  Everyone at the dinner party loved them and raved over them!  And as tasty (and simple to make) as the messy one was, the rest of them were even better, because they carried the experience of first biting through the chocolate and then getting the delicious coconut mixture.

My recipe isn't intended to upstage the others, but it is more practical if you're making these for a dinner party where you need a lot.  It made 45-50 truffles.  It was also pretty simple because I used 1 14-oz bag of coconut and 1 can of sweetened condensed milk.  Just dump and stir!


Love and Coconut,
Leah Joy

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Little Lemony Snicket

In light of all the stressful Christmas preparations I'm sure we're all enduring, I thought I'd share some of my favorite Lemony Snicket quotes in an attempt to lighten your mood.  Lemony Snicket wrote the Series of Unfortunate Events books, which are some of my favorite books of all time.  I know they're meant for children, but honestly, there are so many fantastic children's books which more adults should read.  Snicket has such an amusing way with words, so without further ado, a little something to cheer you up.

"Siblings who claim to get along all the time are most definitely hiding something."

"Most schools have a system of loud bells, which startle the students and teachers at regular intervals and remind them that time is passing even more slowly than it seems."

"Labor Day is a holiday honoring those who work for a living.  Laborious Day is a lesser known holiday honoring those who cannot stop talking about their work."

"It is always cruel to laugh at people, of course, although sometimes if they are wearing an ugly hat it is hard to control yourself."

"One of the world's tiresome questions is what object one would bring to a desert island, because people always answer 'a deck of cards' or 'Anna Karenina' when the obvious answer is 'a well-equipped boat and crew to sail me off the island and back home where I can play all the card games and read all the Russian novels I want.'"

"A library is like an island in the middle of a vast sea of ignorance, particularly if the library is very tall and the surrounding area has been flooded."

"Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them."

"If an optimist had his left arm chewed off by an alligator, he might say, in a pleasant and hopeful voice, 'Well, this isn't too bad.  I don't have my left arm anymore, but at least nobody will ever ask me whether I am right-handed or left-handed,' but most of us would say something more along the lines of 'Aaaah! My arm! My arm!'"

"Love can change a person the way a parent can change a baby - awkwardly, and often with a great deal of mess."

"There are some who go through life with a shadow hanging over them, particularly if they live in a building which has long, wide awnings."

"Just about everything in this world is easier said than done, which the exception of 'systematically assisting Sisyphus's stealthy, cyst-susceptible sister,' which is easier done than said."

"If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats."

Love and Lemony Snicket,
Leah Joy

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A New Scribblenauts!

Since I posted the first episode of Scribblenauts, Caleb has recorded a few more.  You can check out his channel here.  I'm loving episode 6, though, because he made a rainbow flying dolphin!

Also, the goat is adorable.

Love and Imagination,
Leah Joy

Monday, December 17, 2012

Pinterest Trend: Pointless, Pathetic Puns

Before I begin my official rant, I would like to say that I really do love puns.  In conversation, they are hilarious, and I love when I find someone who enjoys them as much as I.  Recently at a dinner party, a guy was scooping up some corn and remarked that now his jokes would be cornier than ever, to which I replied, "Oh good, I'm all ears!"  I love puns and attempt to utilize them as much as is appropriate in my everyday conversation, but this trend on Pinterest is going too far.

Have you seen these?

These aren't just terrible puns.  These are stretching the definition of pun so far that it's now in physical therapy with a bad back.  And the ones that have reasonable puns are gifts you probably wouldn't give to someone!

And there are numerous blogs with huge lists of them.  Are they all completely awful?  No.  But way too many of them are!  And the unnecessary quotation marks, bold or italic fonts, bright colors, or enlarged text to emphasize the pun?  Just in case your recipient is too stupid to get the pun?  If they're really that dumb, maybe you should just give them a plate of "smart" cookies and be done with it.  (See what I did there?)

And what happened to the days when we really could just bring over a pun-free gift of homemade cookies to our neighbors and have it be considered a top-notch gift?  There's nothing wrong with a lot of the gift ideas (although carrots?  really?), but there's something so unnecessary about the printable, mass puns that makes them very unfunny.  

However, since "twiz" the season, I better "wash" Santa doesn't "chex" his list twice and put me on the naughty list.  Maybe I'll give my neighbors a bunch of grapes, in the hope that they'll have a "grape" holiday.  I don't know if I could "chews" a better way to be an encourage-"mint" to my "24 carrot" friends and neighbors.  I better just embrace these "cheese-y" puns and "nip" my cynicism in the bud.

(Seriously, have you ever read through those lists?  They're horrible.)

Love and Hope (or do I mean "soap"?),
Leah Joy

P.S.  I'm happy to report that my neighbors still appreciate pun-free baked goods!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Christmas Sneak Peek #3

Some more sneak peek pictures for your curiosity (or not).

Love and Almond Oil,
Leah Joy

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Cinnamon Chip Oatmeal Cookies

I only recently heard of cinnamon chips.  When I hear cinnamon chips, I think something like a tortilla chip, but coated in cinnamon sugar.  But these are actually like chocolate chips, except they taste like cinnamon.  (My new title is Queen of Obvious Descriptions and Unnecessary Details.)  I thought they sounded fantastic!  I could throw them in banana bread or cookies and give them an extra zing of cinnamon.  So I started looking for them at the store, but none of the stores around here carry them!  Not even the grocery store on the pretentious side of town!  I finally found one bag at our local Family Fare, but it was like $3!  I couldn't imagine paying that much for something for an experiment.  I kind of gave up on it until my mom wondered aloud if I could make my own.

Hello, Pinterest!  I found two recipes (although one is adapted from the other) here and here.  Then, I followed neither recipe!  Just kidding, sort of.  I substituted coconut oil (my first time ever using it!) for the shortening and honey for the corn syrup.  And added no vanilla.

They turned out fabulous, although I'm not sure I could snack on them like one of the ladies said she did.  I apparently do have a cinnamon limit.

Well, then I tossed them into oatmeal cookies, because what could be better?  I'm not sure where my family got this recipe, so I can't take credit for it, but here it is:

3/4 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
Beat until light and fluffy.

1 cup flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
Mix and add to batter.

3 cups oats
1 cup raisins (or chocolate chips or cinnamon chips)
Stir in.

Bake at 350 for 12-15 min.

With the addition of the cinnamon chips, these really packed a cinnamon punch, without being overly cinnamon-y.

As you can see, the chips near the edge of the cookie kind of melted out, but my mom said that made them really good, too, almost like a corner of hard candy.

The recipe made a little over a cup, so I still have a few cinnamon chips left, but I'm not sure what to do with those.  Any ideas?  Caleb has suggested cinnamon oatmeal apple cookies.

Love and Cinnamon,
Leah Joy

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Scheduling Posts

Hi friends,

In a way, I can't believe I'm using this technology.  In another way, I can't believe it took me this long to discover it.  I speak of the post scheduling tool.  I can write all my posts whenever I want, and schedule them to post at a certain time.  (You may have noticed that many of my last several posts all appeared at exactly 9:00 AM EST.)  

I can't believe I'm using it only because for so long, most of my posts have been written just before posting them.  In a way, it was stressful, but also more spur-of-the-moment.  I had a few ideas written out if I got stuck, but for the most part, I just sat down, thought of something, and wrote it out.

I can't believe it took me this long, because it saves so much time this way!  It also guarantees more regular posting, because on Monday, I can write all the week's posts, and then even if I'm sick on Thursday, you still get a new post!

It brings on new questions, like: how many bloggers actually use this tool?  Actually, that's the only question I have.

What do you think?  Is it more impersonal - or doesn't it matter?

Love and Stitches,
Leah Joy

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A New Christmas Favorite

Here's a song for all you Christmas-loving music nerds!

Love and Major Sixths,
Leah Joy

Monday, December 10, 2012

Things I Won't Miss in Our Apartment

As we get closer and closer to moving, I thought I'd take a sentimental moment and give my "Bottom Ten" - the 10 things I really won't miss about this apartment!  In no particular order:

1. Having pretty much one window.  The one pictured below is technically the 2nd window, but I took this on a very auspicious day: the only day the top of that dresser has ever been seen.  Usually, Caleb's things are piled so high (because the drawers are too tiny to hold his clothes) that we can't open those blinds.

2.  Walking across this field every time I need to do laundry.  Except in the winter when the water is shut off, and then I won't miss taking my laundry to other people's houses in order to infringe on their kindness, hospitality, and water.

3. Once I'm across the field, sharing these washers and dryers with summer staff, most of whom have apparently never emptied a lint trap.

4. Fluorescent, business-esque ceiling lights, in which lie the dead bodies of dozens of bugs. 

5. Drop ceilings.  Also business-esque.  Further proof that as long as we live here, we are always at work.

6. Continuing on the ceiling rant, having short ceilings.  If we have to remove a ceiling tile for me to be able to stretch, just imagine how bad it is for Caleb.

7. Not having a window above my sink. :(

8. The ladybug infestation.  Seriously, they're everywhere.  And the crickets. 

9. Indoor-outdoor carpeting.  See above picture.

10. Our "kitchen" chairs (AKA upstairs office castoffs):

In all frankness, living here hasn't always been horrible.  And while I'm sure I'll look back on these days with fondness, I'm sure it will be more because we lived here for the first year or so of our marriage, not because Caleb was constantly brushing ladybugs out of his hair.  

Love and No-More-Ladybugs-Please!,
Leah Joy

Friday, December 7, 2012

Christmas Sneak Peek #2

Here are some more sneak peek pictures!

Love and Popcorn,
Leah Joy

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Spinach Smoothie

I never thought I'd write a post entitled that, but here I am.  If you've never heard of them, or at least never tried them, you'll probably have the same initial reaction everyone in my family did when I mentioned the idea - and honestly the same reaction I had when I first heard of it: "That sounds absolutely disgusting!!"

But I recently decided to give it a try.  I followed Pam's recipe from Keeping Life Creative.  I gathered my supplies:

And put (far more than) a cup of frozen strawberries in the blender.  I was afraid it would taste too much like spinach, so I went a bit crazy on the strawberries.

Then a banana:

And the juice: 

 And now for the spinach:

 One of these things is not like the others....

After blending for a while, it looked like this:

Kind of maroon with tiny green flecks.  Not so appetizing, but not as bad as bright green, either.

Finally, I added honey to sweeten it, and poured it in a glass.

To my surprise, it was pretty delicious.  It honestly even tasted like dessert.  A healthy version of dessert, but still dessert.  

Love and Spinach,
Leah Joy