Monday, October 31, 2011

chocolate-chip cheesecake cookie bars


Oh my-lanta. I figured it was about time I evened out the recipe playing field here. The granola bars, chia-seed pudding, and pumpkin-pie oatmeal are all delicious, but they aren't this. These chocolate-chip cheesecake cookie bars are something completely decadent, delicious, and undeniably indulgent... and this is exactly why you NEED to make them.

Chocolate chip cookies hugging a cheesecake filling. Cripsy bits on the edges, chewy all throughout, and the tang of rich cheesecake in-between. This is literally the last remaining bite from my house. I had to put it in a Ziplock bag and mark "DO NOT EAT" just until I could take a picture of it. Writing this post makes me want to bake them all over again. I will do to restrain myself, but there are no guarantees...
I thought the recipe sounded a teeny bit complicated, but naaahhh. It was even easier than baking batches of cookies, because you just mix two separate bowls, one for the cookie dough, and one for the cheesecake filling, then layer into a pan and bake. 2 bowls, 1 pan, and a heavenly chocolate-chip cookie cheesecake marriage. I wrote this one down on my super-cute recipe cards, and I don't so that for any old recipe :)

I stumbled across this recipe here. Of course, I made the teeniest changes by adding a smidge more salt in the cookie-dough, switching out the full-fat cream cheese, and decreasing the sugar in the cheesecake filling. I think the result was a great balance of sweet cookie dough, but not overly sweet cheesecake filling.

Chocolate-Chip Cookie Layer
1c unsalted butter
1c brown sugar
1/2c sugar
2tsp vanilla
1tsp salt
1Tbl apple cider vinegar
1 egg
1tsp baking soda
2c flour
2c semisweet chocolate chips
Cheesecake Layer
1 8oz pkg of cream cheese ( I used the 1/3 less fat variety)
1/4c sugar
1 egg
1/2tsp vanilla
Directions:
1. Cream together butter, sugar, vanilla, salt, vinegar, and eggs. Then add in the baking soda and flour. Stir in chocolate chips.

2. In a separate bowl, mix the cream cheese, sugar, egg, and vanilla.

3. Spread 1/2 of your cookie dough evenly across the bottom of a 9x13 pan. Then spread all of your cream cheese mixture on top of that. With your remaining cookie dough, dollop blobs (technical terms) across the top of the cheesecake layer. They will spread out as it bakes, so just evenly cover your pan.

4. Bake at 350 for 40-minutes. The edges and top will be brown. Let them cool (this may be impossible), and then cut and eat. Yum. with a glass of cold milk.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

House Tour: hallway

I know what you're thinking.. come on, Lindsey. A tour of your hallway? That sounds super exciting. Here's the thing though, this is no ordinary hallway. I like to think it's pretty freaking awesome, and it is really funny to hear people's exclamations as they turn the corner for the first time.

I decided to paint the mural late one Pinterest-intoxicated night. You can read the entire post here. I ordered the hopscotch decal from here, but I'm betting you could easily make a similar design with your little Silhouette, or Cricut, or other amazing cutting machine that I am going to climb into your window and steal!

I've discovered that somewhere deep inside my decorating self is a desire to make my home fun! As an artist ... (Whoa Buddy....what did you just call yourself? Yep. Take that, internet peoples, and don't think I did so flippantly. It took a lot of soul-searching and prayer to be able to finally say that. I will share an entire post about this soon.) Anyhow, as an ARTIST, and a mom, I have such a heart's desire for my home to be inspirational to Selah. I want it to foster her imagination and inspire fun!

I know it's not the most conventional of spaces. Maybe it's not even tasteful... That's ok if it's not. Perfection is my enemy, and right now I'm on a mission to be who I really am, to create what I feel like, and to love everything that I discover in the meanwhile.

 I'm sure someday someone will paint over my little mural and restore the wall to its prior normalcy, but for right now i like to think of my home as an incubator for creativity.

As much for myself, as for my daughter.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

He's feeling better :)

I went to visit my nephew little Levi in the Pediatric ICU yesterday, and the little champ is slowly improving! The doctors still have no idea what has caused his illness, but his fever has disappeared, and his breathing is getting much better. He gobbled down a bottle of breastmilk in no time, a sure sign of his improvement.

Today they moved him into a regular room out of ICU; they are monitoring his oxygen levels, and hopefully he will be fully recovered in no time.
Thank you so much for your thoughts and prayers! We all are so very grateful.

Lots of love,
Lindsey

Friday, October 21, 2011

Wow! check my latest feature!

Imagine my surprise when I woke up this morning to find a feature in none other than the Apalachicola Wedding Board on Style Me Pretty! This is the big league folks. My silhouette portraits are taking off more than I ever imagined, and I couldn't be more thrilled :)

They featured my Custom Couple Silhouette Portrait! Talk about classy... I just want to live in this little board. You know how I feel about succulents, chevron, Toms, and silhouettes. It's my little happy place.


Wow.. I am still taking all of this in. On a practical note, to see all of the sources for the other beautiful components on the inspiration board, please see the Style Me Pretty Apalachicola Wedding Board.

Also, orders for silhouettes are going nuts, so if you are wanting one in time for the holidays, go ahead and order now :)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A little man coveting your prayers

**Guys, PLEASE keep praying. Little Levi was moved to ICU last night. He's having difficulty breathing and a persistent fever. Pray that his lungs would clear, the infection would leave his body, and that Kelley and Chris would feel the peace of God**

I know you all remember my beautiful sister, Kelley, from my post on her vintage woodsy baby shower. She just  gave birth to the most beautiful baby boy! 
Little man is five days old now, but last night he came down with a fever and starting having a little difficulty breathing. He is at the hospital now, where they will check him out and keep him for a few days under observation. Please keep little Levi and his parents, Chris and Kelley, in your prayers. We want for there to be no underlying illness, and for him to recover quickly and come home soon. 

Lots of love,
Lindsey

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

House Tour: kitchen

I'd venture to say that the kitchen is perhaps the most loved room in our entire house. It's airy, bright, spacious, and there is nothing pretentious about it. Our kitchen isn't perfect, but it begs to process homemade jams, simmer rich stocks, and it serves as the anchor of our home.

I mentioned before in the tour of our porch, that this was what I like to think of as a 'normal person' remodel. Nothing fancy-smancy, just sweat and long nights of work. Practically speaking, Daniel and I replaced the warped Formica counter-tops and installed a farmhouse sink with a new faucet. In addition, travertine flooring was installed. The counter-tops as well as the sink, free-standing island, and shelving above the stove were all purchased from Ikea. They were mind-blowingly affordable and have a modern-yet-earthy look.

In some way, I feel like the kitchen appreciated that one-on-one attention, the fact that we healed it's little wounds and didn't completely rip it all out and discard its eighty years of character. The result is a nostalgic and unique space that blends seamlessly with the rest of our home.


All of the cabinetry is original to the house, just spruced up with a little paint and new knobs and pulls. The cabinet doors were removed to create open shelving, which displays my great-grandmother's china. I make a point to actually use her china in addition to our other dishes; in fact, I feed Selah oatmeal every morning from the delicate tiny bowls. It seems to make her a part of our everyday life, and I love that.

It also makes unloading the dishwasher a breeze, and Daniel loves that!
the pompom curtains make me happy :)
My mother's, grandmothers', and great-grandmothers' serving pieces and knick-knacks, live above my stove.They bring love and wisdom, and create a atmosphere filled with the inspiration of women who have nourished my soul. 

I etched the glass window looking into our laundry room so guests wouldn't be appalled at my piles of dirty laundry. Purely selfish reasons.. You can purchase the vinyl decal as a custom request from this Etsy shop. Daniel built the dishwasher stand himself, using an extra piece of Ikea counter-top. He's so handy..and I'm so thankful to have a dishwasher!




This mid-century painting of a man pounding yucca is also from my great-grandmother, a memento of the years she spent in Haiti. I cherish it for so many reasons, and I just adore the vibrant pop of color it brings!

Decorate your home with items that are personal to you; I find that it lens intimacy that can't be reproduced. If you look at my kitchen, you can get a little peek of who I am. Make you home a true reflection of you, and don't worry about anything else. I hope that you unpack your china and use it for dinner tonight :)

Lots of love,
Lindsey

Monday, October 17, 2011

House Tour: master bedroom

The master bedroom was the first room in our house that we remodeled, so that we could have somewhere nice to retreat to when the rest of the house was in shambles as we renovated. It's definitely more romantic than the rest of our house, but it's our bedroom, so why not?! It's a fun, eclectic, nostalgic space, and I pretty much love it.
I know that white-painted furniture can quickly go down the country shabby-chic route, but I tried avoid this by mixing up the space up with both vintage and modern touches, like the bright modern throw pillows, a chalkboard above our bed, and the vintage glass lamp. I picked up both the bedroom set and the pair of mustard mid-century chairs off of Craigslist.

The planked walls were a nice surprise that we found beneath several layers of paneling and old wallpaper. I actually really liked them, so we white-washed the walls and then randomly brushed on a light blue for some color. Daniel hung the ceiling tiles and chandelier, and I painted the furniture, sewed the pillows, and made the little chalkboard piece above our bed. It was a team effort!

The varied textures lend a richness to room... the roughness of the walls in juxtaposition to the velvet bedspread, the tweed sitting chairs, and the light and airy curtains. It's a room that is filled with natural light, color, and love. 

                                                        p.s. Daniel wrote me the sweetest letter, then he burned the edges and sealed it with wax!


Because my decorating style is all about subtlety and being understand, I decided to throw in a big-horn sheep with a bow tie. I mean, WHY NOT?!  His name is Ferdinand. He was a gift from Daniel's grandpa.. Of course, he needed a bow-tie. The space seems so much more dignified now.

In all seriousness, I think the most important design aesthetic advice would be  to not to take yourself or the process too seriously. I'm all for mixing it up, and adding in elements that are unexpected. If you love something, then go with it. Make it yours, and make it fun.

Ferdinand wants to invite you to come visit us sometime :)

Thanks for looking around, and I hope you are inspired to add a little bit of whimsy to your own space! 

Lots of love,
Lindsey



Sunday, October 16, 2011

House Tour: porch

I think anyone who has lived in an old house understands having a love-hate relationship with their home. I love that we have glass doorknobs, french doors, and a huge breezy porch. I *do not love* that our pipes freeze every winter, our wood floors squeak so loudly that they wake the baby, and that I hear (squirrels??) in the walls.

When we purchased our home, it was what you would call a 'fixer-upper.' It took us three years to complete our renovations, because we did almost everything ourselves, paid cash for it all, and lived in the home at the same time. Finally, I can say with relief that we are finished. The outside still needs landscaping and a privacy fence, but the inside is complete!

Anyhow, I thought it might be fun to show you around a bit! We'll start out with the porch and, and go from there :)

Before:
The  Band-aid House. That's what we nicknamed it. Isn't it AWFUL? The sweet former owner explained that she sent her husband to the store with a sample of a  perfectly boring shade of taupe, and that for some reason he decided he'd rather pick a different color himself. When he got home with this horrible peachy-orange paint, it was too late to return it. Husbands, let this be a lesson to you all...


After:

Our home was built in 1931, and is a traditional Czech craftsman-style home. I wanted a modern-yet-traditional paint scheme to show off the intricate wood work on the eves. We fell in love with this scheme from Sherwin Williams.
The wrap-around porch is one of our favorite aspects of this house. In the fall we sit outside and wave to all the 'regulars' passing by. I like to prop up my feet and read a magazine, and Selah crunches on leaves and waves at every car.

 I did my best to create an extension of our home, outdoors ,by repurposing a rug and an old trunk to mimic an indoor living space. Hanging ferns give a feeling of lushness and privacy, and of course, there are succulents scattered about. The address placard and mailbox tie into the deco craftsman era, and are two of my favorite pieces on the porch.
Selah approves.
Stay tuned for a tour of our master bedroom next! It's pretty over-the-top, and I'm afraid you all will never let me live it down.

Lots of love,
Lindsey

Saturday, October 15, 2011

chocolate chia seed pudding

Chia seed pudding is a new obsession of mine! It couldn't be any easier, it's super tasty, great for you, and really filling. This has become my go-to snack!

I know what you're thinking cha-cha-cha Chia??? Yep. It's the same little seed.

Chia seeds are a normal part of South American cuisine, and are usually mixed into drinks called chia fresca. They are interesting little seeds that absorb about 12 times their weight in liquid. This means that they are a great source of soluble fiber, complete protein, and they release low-glycemic carbohydrates into your bloodstream for a long period of time. Translation: they help you feel full! Not only that, but they do not need to be ground, and they are the highest plant-derived source of Omega-3 fatty acids. Whoa.

All this is fine and dandy, but I honestly just enjoy eating them. Do you know how a tomato seed has the little gelatinous sack surrounding the outside of it? This is how chia seeds are also, once they are put into a liquid. It's almost like tapioca with a teeny little crunch in the middle. Chia seeds absorb any liquid, water, juice, milk, ect.. So, you can make chia seed 'pudding' with any liquid you want! Of course, I chose dark chocolate almond milk because it's super yummy!

p.s. I found these organic Nutiva chia seeds in the health food section at HEB. One bag will last you a loong time.


Chia Seed Pudding
1/2c chia seeds
2c dark chocolate almond milk

Optional Toppings:
goji berries
slivered almonds
carob chips
shredded coconut ---SO GOOD

Mix the chia seeds and almond milk. Cover, stir vigorously after 10 minutes, and then refrigerate for at least one hour. For best results, let sit overnight. Stir, and eat!!

This makes 2 cups of pudding. I have found success with a ratio of 1 part chia seed to 4 parts liquid, letting it sit overnight.

Let me know what you think!

Lots of love,
Lindsey

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Sponsor Switch-Up

After some careful thought and prayer, I've decided to switch things up a bit in the sponsor department! Starting next month, Out Of Alabaster sponsors will be comprised of handmade shops exclusively. Supporting home-made shops and entrepreneurship is of utmost importance to me, and this is one small way that I can help! I'm not promising this a a 'forever' decision, but I feel confident that this is the appropriate direction for my little corner of the blog-o-verse right now.

What's super exciting about this transition is that I'm offering these slots for FREE on a first-come-first-serve basis! What the WHat?! Just in time for the holiday season :)
Please e-mail your sponsorship inquiry and button to OutOfAlabaster@yahoo.com. I'm excited to partner with you all!!

Lots of love,
Lindsey

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Pumpkin-Pie Oatmeal


Oh yum. I threw this together a few nights ago, and we woke up to the most deliciously fall-smelling morning. It's like eating a steaming bowl of pumpkin pie and baked apples for breakfast! This is delicious, nutritious, and has just the right amount of sweetness.

I used my  smaller 2.5 quart Crock-Pot and this recipe filled it up! It's been great re-heated throughout the week too. Look for an organic pie-filling that is sweetened with actual sugar instead of corn-syrup, or use your own pumpkin puree with added spices and sweetener.

This is best eaten on your porch, wearing a comfy sweater and slippers. Admire the steam rising from your bowl, and enjoy!!


Overnight Crock-pot Pumpkin-Pie Oatmeal
2 apples, peeled and cubed
1 can of pumpkin pie filling
dash of salt
4c old fashioned oatmeal (NOT Quick-Oats)
7c water

Optional but delicious toppings:
dash cinnamon
splash of milk
toasted almonds
raisins
carob chips

Peel and chop your apples. Combine all ingredients, and mix thoroughly, incorporating all bits of pumpkin into mixture. Cook on Low setting in Crock-pot overnight, or for 6-8 hours.

(I'm sure you could make this on your stove too!)

Nomnom. Enjoy your fall!!

Lots of love,
Lindsey

Monday, October 10, 2011

Sic 'em Bears!

Yesterday Selah attended her first Baylor football game! She seemed to have a really great time, watching the spectacle and cheering the Bears to victory. Although thrilled by the experience, she was slightly humiliated by the bear ears I had made for her to wear.

How did  make those little bear ears, you ask? Oh, you know. The typical Ikea hack. I grabbed one of the slices of bread from Selah's little Ikea felt breakfast set. (What?! She'll never miss it!) I cut it in half, sewed the ends together, and hot glued it on a headband with a gold jersey flower. Boom. Ikea mom hack all the way.
I hope you had a great weekend too!

Lot of love,
Lindsey

Friday, October 7, 2011

Eyebrows.

I'm not sure if every parent feels this way about their kid, but I think Selah is hilarious.  She's pretty much the next Steve Martin.. I'd pit my baby against your baby in a baby cage-comedy match. I'd bet she'd make your baby laugh so hard it'd pee it's diaper.

Really, she's been this way since she was teeny tiny. IMore recently she has started fake laughing to get our attention, and I'd venture to say she has better control of her eyebrows than some adults I know.

These are some pictures of her when she was just a little-bity.. look at those faces. Ham bone.

And more recently, Selah enjoying splashing in the tub. Love that kid.

Lots of love,
Lindsey

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Just because I love you!

I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who reads this little bloggy-blog. It's hard to believe I've only been writing and running my Etsy shop for four months! You all have already made such an impression on my life.

Anyhow, I thought I'd share this little printable with everyone as a thank-you gift. No more corny corn-dog, I promise :)

p.s. Thank you for all of your votes! I genuinely appreciate your show of support. I'm excited to see what great things are in store for this little corner of the interweb.

It's FREE!  Print to your heart's delight.  BUT I would ask two things of you in return:
1) Please become a follower of my blog (I want to meet you!)
2) Do not sell these prints; they are a gift to everyone!

                            Download: Little Boys                                          Download: Little Girls













            Download: Blue 1Sam1:27                                Download: Yellow 1Sam 1:27                


I hope you enjoy them!

Lots of love,
Lindsey

I respectfully request your assistance

You may have notice that I recently joined a site called Top Baby Blogs, in an effort to increase my readership. If you genuinely enjoy reading my blog, would you please click the little button on the top right corner? -----------------> I'd really appreciate it! You can vote once every 24 hours if you are so inclined ;) I promise I won't bug you anymore about it, I just wanted to let you know about his little addition!

Lots of love,
Lindsey

A few days ago friend of mine asked what she could do to reach out to someone who was struggling with infertility. I have been asked this question many times, and I'd love to share my perspective. I'm not going to suggest that my opinion is applicable to everyone in this situation, but this a reflection of my story and what spoke to my needs during that time. 


Forewarning, if you are reaching out to someone who is unable to conceive, don't get into it for the warm fuzzies of 'helping' someone. This is a journey that may not be short, pleasant, or easy. In fact, it will probably be long, hard, and difficult. That is exactly why you are so desperately needed. 


I have shared my own journey herehere, and here. In summary, when I was hurting, I pulled away from community. It took some very determined friends, one in particular, to help me ease back in to any semblance of a normal life, even before I became pregnant. She decided to be my 'strong friend'. Her name is Genny.  


Do you know what's the funniest about this? Genny was pregnant at the time. It didn't matter. Her willingness to be there overshadowed any ill-feelings. Don't be afraid to offer relationship to someone who is trying to conceive, even if you are pregnant or have children. 

The words I remember most vividly are, 'It's ok if you hate me some days, I just want to be here for you." We met every week just to talk about how I was feeling, or just hang out. Some weeks i cried on the floor, and some we laughed. There were hopeful times and sorrowful times, but I needed someone to push me into purposeful relationship. I found myself so wounded that I wasn't in a place to go after what I needed the most. Go after them.

Infertility is isolating not only because those who are hurting tend to isolate themselves, but it is also isolating because good-intentioned people are afraid of inflecting more hurt. Be sure you extend invitations to mom playgroups, baby showers, and girls night outs, but do not assume they will attend...and don't pressure them to. Sometimes holding babies and seeing families is just what a lonely heart needs, and sometimes it just hurts too much. Every day is different. 

This last part is the trickiest, and is only applicable if you have a close friendship. I already know this sounds controversial, but hurting does not make someone sinless. Somewhere in the midst of my journey, suffering, laziness, selfishness, and apathy can sneak their way in. This was certainly the case with my life. 
 Genny pushed me to confront my biggest fear; she didn't coddle me with feel-good words. She offered the challenge to live life as if nothing would ever change, and at the same time believe for healing



A couple words of caution:
1) Speak only the Truth.. as in God's truth. Do not make up your own happy ending.
2) Don't relay what 'worked' for this couple or offer folk remedies like 'just relaxing'


Offer your love. Pray about what her heart needs to hear, and just be there as a friend. Most people are scared away by hurting people. Your kind words and actions will mean more that you think.



Lots of love,
Lindsey

Monday, October 3, 2011

A vintage, woodsy baby-shower.


Several weeks ago, I threw a baby shower for my sister Kelley. She is due any day now (eek!) and we are super excited to welcome Mr. Levi Justice into this big crazy family of girls!! Guests were welcomed by a bunch of balloons tied onto our pram, as well as the jute-wrapped wreath. The letters spelling Levi's name are from my vintage-dictionary!

I know I shared these before, but  I can't help but share them again. I LOVE them. Here are the shower invitations I made again.

Kelley is a cultured momma-to-be (as you can tell by the cake-pop moustache), so I did my best to keep it clean and chic, with a vintage woodsy twist. 

The shower was full of handmade treasures, which brought warmth and a fun atmosphere to our little celebration! The color palette was neutral creams, whites, with pops of green from the succulent and wheat-grass centerpieces. There was enough color influence from my house without adding in a competing shower color. Also, with a neutral palette, I can re-use some of the decorations in the future. 
The succulent centerpieces were made with a hollowed out log, I 'stole' from a friend. My dashing husband Daniel cut them into slices, and I hot-glued a cork bottom onto each section. Then I filled each section with potting soil and planted my succulents. These also doubled as great thank-you gifts for shower hostesses! 
The moustache cake-pop display was so fun! I planted wheatgrass seeds in a little box 10 days before the shower, and viola, a great cake-pop stand was born! The grass was actually a little taller than I expected; I'd wait about 6 or 7 days next time. That stuff grows quickly!

Other handmade touches included the vintage paper streamers, the burlap table runner, and the muslin table ruffle. I also showcased a jut-wrapped letter 'L' (for Levi) in an Ikea frame backed with vintage dictionary pages.

The food may have been dainty, but we certainly weren't. We noshed on some seriously good eats. Banana pudding in mini-mason jars, stuffed mushrooms, tiny Cesar salads in parmesean cups, homemade pepper jelly and cream cheese, coconut cream pie, roasted vegetable hummus tart, and cream sodas. Cute little wooden birch utensils tied perfectly into the woodsy theme! The 'silverware' is adorable, completely compostable, and  doesn't contain any harmful dyes, or plastics.
We played a nail-biting game of Baby Bingo, prayed for Kelley and baby Levi, and had tons of fun just visiting and chatting the afternoon away.When it was time to leave, each guest got to take home their own little baby succulent!


And there it is! A sweet woodsy baby shower. I hope you enjoyed this little peek into our afternoon :) 

Now for a run-down of my sources:

Birch utensils- These are from a company called Birchware. They are adorable, completely compostable, and are without any harmful dyes, or plastics. This is the link on Amazon.
Wheatgrass seeds-  I purchased mine from Ebay for super cheap! However, I've also heard you can buy the already-grown grass from Jamba Juice for a little bit more. 
Moustache mold for cake-pops- This was a lollipop mold, but I used it for my cake-pops! Ordered via Amazon.
Grapevine wreath and jute -Jo-Anns Fabric
Succulents- Ebay. I've found these are the cheapest, best quality succulents. I bought the lot of 36, and it was  enough for centerpieces and 20 favors. 
Favor tray- Klack serving tray from Ikea, later painted with chalkboard paint
Teeny succulent cups- Blanda finger-bowls from Ikea
Picture frame- The infamous Ung Drill frame from Ikea
Vintage Dictionary- I got mine from a local antique dive, but I have seen some great deal for some on Ebay too! 

Lots of love,
Lindsey