Spicy Cherry Chia Jam

We were so excited about the cherry tree in our back yard and even more thrilled that the cherries are edible and sweet! I spent hours and got many mosquito bites picking them from the branches. All of a sudden we had a couple pounds of cherries and quite honestly I had no idea what to do with them. I knew I needed to make something with them because we couldn't possibly eat them all before they went bad. I took to Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest looking for the perfect idea. 
Cherry jam seemed like the ideal choice because 1) I wouldn't have to bake and 2) I could make it semi-healthy. I ended up stumbling upon a recipe for a Cherry Chia Jam from My Heart Beets blog and adapted it to my tastes. The best thing about this is that in only has five ingredients and takes just fifteen minutes to cook! (A bit longer if you are pitting your own cherries.)
I made it with jalapeño flakes, added a dash of vanilla (totally optional), and used Turkish honey (from Trader Joe's), which gave it a fragrant flavor profile with a nice heat at the end. It's not by any means super spicy, but it strikes the perfect balance between sweet and heat. And trust me, it tastes good on everything! Toast, waffles, pancakes, Greek yogurt... It also could be mixed with cream cheese for a delicious dip! So many good options! 
If you have cherries, seriously you have got to try this out!

Spicy Cherry Chia Jam

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of pitted cherries
  • 2 tablespoons of Turkish honey
  • 2 tablespoons of chia seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon of jalapeño flakes (could substitute for fresh jalapeño)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla

Instructions

  1. Add the pitted cherries and Turkish honey into a saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Cook for five minutes, stirring frequently. Gently mash the cherries with a spoon to release their juice.
  3. Stir in the jalapeño flakes and vanilla.
  4. Bring the mixture to a low boil then reduce the heat to low and cover, simmering for 10 minutes.
  5. Turn off the heat and stir in the chia seeds. The jam will begin to thicken as it cools.
  6. Once cool enough, taste and add more honey to sweeten, if needed.
  7. Store in a clean mason jar. If air-tight, it should keep for 1-2 weeks.
Let us know if you try this recipe! I'd love to hear your thoughts! For me, I'll be putting it on everything for the next couple weeks! 

Updating the Front Porch

If you remember this picture from the Spring Garden post, you may have been distracted by the "beautiful" furniture on our front porch. These were gifts from my mom (AKA she was cleaning out her house and decided to gift us these pieces) and had this ugly brown paint color that was chipping and revealing a horrendous green paint underneath. We knew immediately that although the loveseat and chair were ugly ducklings, with just a bit of paint and new cushions, they'd become beautiful butterflies! It was really important to us that we updated our front porch furniture ASAP because it's our favorite place to relax on weekend mornings when its warm! On Sundays we grab breakfast, head out to the porch, curl up on the loveseat, and go through the newspaper. 
in the process of painting
First thing we had to do with those furniture pieces was to clean them up. I took a wire brush to them and scraped off as much excess paint as I could. Then I wiped them clean with cleaning wipes. Once cleaned, I went to town spraying them a semi-gloss black color. We knew we wanted black because it is easy to maintain and contrasts well against all of the red and white of our home! It took two days to complete with the dry times and I went through about 5 cans of spray paint. But the time was worth it because it took these frumpy looking chairs from drab and ugly to chic and like-new!
Once the painting was complete, we went out to At Home - a home decor store way out in the suburbs. They essentially are a brick-and-mortar Overstock and the store is enormous! We went in just to buy new cushions, but ended up buying way more! We picked up an outdoor rug, side table, candle, flower pot, cushions, and pillows all for about $250. All together, they have enhanced the porch space immensely!
It's now become this new outdoor living space for us and really helps enhance the look of our front porch! I love escaping to this space in the morning and getting to pretend for just a few minutes that we don't have any more work to do!
As you might have noticed from the pictures as well, our roses have bloomed! In fact quite a few of our plants have blossomed here in the past few weeks.
The roses are so beautiful and bring me so much joy when I see them! 
Our peonies too have bloomed and now I'm making lots of bouquets to decorate our house with the gorgeous fluffy pink flowers! My favorite thing is to go to Trader Joe's and pick up a few flowers and make a bouquet that is enhanced with our own garden! In the picture below, all I bought were the yellow sunflowers! I added in our red roses from the rose bush, the pink peonies, and gigantic hosta leaves from our front lawn. Simple and beautiful.
We've also discovered that our cherry tree in the backyard produces edible, sweet cherries! So this past week, I've been out on the ladder picking as many as my little arms can reach! I'm not entirely sure what we'll make with them. I've already frozen a bunch for future use, but its now time to make something specific. I've gotten so many great suggestions already, so I'm going to have to do a bit of research to make a final decision there!
Aren't they gorgeous? We've already been enjoying these cherries in yogurt, smoothies, and on top of oatmeal! Surrounding all of this though, we are still hard at work on the bathroom. Later this week, I'll provide an update of our progress because we are getting close!! So be on the look out for that because, people, we have walls!! I am so unbelievably ecstatic about that! 
Catch you soon,

Powder Room Reno - Part 2


Hello! Sorry we've been so few and far between in our posts recently. Quite honestly, progress has been a bit slow here at our home. We've still been working on our powder room, but it just is taking a while to accomplish any changes that really show in pictures. So let me remind you where we left off - we had pulled out the drywall ceiling and some of the wall framing in the bathroom. So inevitably, we had to remove the remaining framing around the door. Thankfully with our saws-all we were able to make pretty quick work of that. However, keep in mind, we were removing the framing around the door, plus also the ceiling too in both the powder room and hallway.


We took a brief break with the bathroom and decided to go ahead the clean up the walls in the hallway. If you look in early pictures, the hallway was just painted this light blue color, not the prettiest but nothing a can of paint can't cure. Unfortunately, upon closer inspection we realized the walls actually had wallpaper on them and then were painted over! So cool. As a result, we took a sidestep down a renovation rabbit hole and decided to remove the wallpaper down to the plaster walls. This took us about 3 days to accomplish and quite honestly was hard work. But it goes pretty well when you have a partner. It also makes it go way more quickly if you use a wallpaper steamer and putty knives to scrape. Be careful though - that water in the steamer can get dangerously hot! Also, if you pride yourself on having perfect nails, you might want to wear rubber gloves.


Next, Mikael built the frame for the powder room. After a lot of research and calculations, he figured out the layout and built the frame on the floor of our kitchen. The only minor issue we ran into was the fact that Mikael measured so well that the frame was suuuper tight as we tried to put it in. However, he managed to hammer it into place and that baby isn't going anywhere!


Framing and hanging the door was the next step, because you just can't have a bathroom without a door! We picked up the door at Architectural Salvage. Its only a two panel door, but its vintage quality will make it match well enough with the rest of the house. We then ran to Lowes and picked up an oak door jamb. Mikael then notched out the door hinges and built the jamb inside the door frame. Initially, when put into place the door was just a hair too high, so Mikael just barely shifted the door down to allow more gap at the top. I was really impressed with his calculations here because he set the door just perfectly so that when it is open, the door won't slam into the window frame in the hallway.


We then reinforced the floor with a plywood subflooring to create a solid surface for the tile. On Monday we had an electrician out to rewire the lights and install outlets. We set it up so that the light switch to the hallway is in the kitchen (just on the other side of the wall). We also had a double outlet put in the back corner of the hallway for our future coffee station in the pantry. New lights were wired in the hallway and powder room ceilings as well. So finally we had light in the bathroom!! Small wins.



As I'm writing this, Mikael is just finishing framing out the nook in the powder room. Initially, we didn't know it existed, but as we were demolishing we discovered the cavity had been covered with drywall. So our plan is to create built in shelving for the bathroom to house all of those necessary accessories for the room (toilet paper, towels, etc.) and decorative items. He's just finished the framing so we can now begin to move on to drywall! I cannot tell you just how excited I am for that to get started!

So what's next? Drywall and mudding and skim coating. Remember how I told you we were going to get professionals in to do that? Nah. Not happening anymore. We've decided we're doing it ourselves (aka Mikael has decided!!)! We'll see how that goes. But once that's accomplished, we can begin painting. We're in the process of ordering a tin ceiling for the bathroom and hallway. It will help cover up the crumbling plaster ceilings and make a statement! We're going to paint them white, so it won't be too crazy.

our tin ceiling pattern

inspiration photo from American Tin Ceilings

Next, we'll install the tile flooring. We chose a shiny white penny tile with an onyx grout. It should be dramatic, but fit in with the historical trends of the house! Finally, the fixtures and then we're done! I can't wait! It should be all finished up by early June and I could not be happier to have my first floor bathroom back soon. 

We'll keep you updated on how drywall goes! Have a great rest of your week!