Friday, March 21, 2014

Spring Revival: Bathroom Edition!

Well, after over a year hiatus...I'm back! Can't wait to share some house updates with everyone now that we've made lots of improvements.

First up, a spring revival of our spare bathroom! Our house only has two bathrooms, and this is the one used by anyone who comes to visit or stay at Chez Pyke, so we wanted it to be a nice visual for guests.

So, the before (apologies for the bad quality iPhone pic). Issues we had with this bathroom:
  • Paint color: Our whole house used to be this boring contractor tan. Luckily for me, I have the summer off from school, so last summer Robby and I were able to repaint the whole house top (literally...we had to paint. every. ceiling. Another post for another day.) to bottom.
  • Towel rack: The towel rack just seemed in the way of a lot of useable wall space. There is also a towel rack at the back of the shower box that seemed equally as functional.
  • Shower curtain: Nothing against this one, but I've had it since my junior year of college (think about how long ago My Humps was the top radio hit).

Drumroll please...

Shelves and baskets: Container Store

Tiny Boxwood: TJ Maxx
Shower curtain: West Elm
(Probably should have ironed it...oops?)

Hallway View
Updates we made:
  • Paint Color: Our whole house is now Light French Gray by Sherwin Williams. I love how neutral the color is and how it allows other colors (including the white crown molding) to pop against it.
  • Shelves: Robby surprised me while I was out one day by removing the towel rack and installing the three shelves! Robby's parents bought them for us as a gift at the Container Store along with the adorable storage baskets. I also filled two mason jars with Q-tips and cotton wool for some extra d├ęcor.
  • Tiny Boxwood: I have literally been looking for this little guy for six months. I finally saw him at TJ Maxx this week ($10!) and knew he was the one.
  • Shower curtain: I found this online at West Elm for $14.99 with free shipping. Love the bright pop of color in this small bathroom along with the bargain savings!
Well folks, there you have it! Until next time, Pykes out.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Paleo Orange-Date-Pecan Bars

I have a terrible habit of craving something sweet after meals. Not a whole-candy-bar kind of craving, but just a little something to finish off the meal. My mother-in-law recieved the original version of these as a holiday gift from a coworker, and the recipe was included with the gift (love that idea!). The originals were so delicious, I decided to set about making a Paleo version to continue my gluten-free ambitions. They have kept really well in the fridge, and it's nice to have something on hand so that I'm not eating an entire Larabar post dinner (is that just me?).

[Note: These bars include butter, which by strict Paleo standards is breaking the rules. Usually, I'm a rule follower. However, many Paleo people consider butter an acceptable source of animal fat, sooooooo....yea. I hesitated to call these Paleo instead of simply Gluten-Free, but I made a disclaimer, so I'm considering my bases covered. Don't sue me.]

My attempt at an ingredient round-up. Except I forgot to include half of them in this picture. Rookie mistake. Refer to recipe below for actual ingredients.

Get out your trusty stand mixer! Or start stretching your mixing arm...

Line a 9 x 5 loaf pan with foil. Make it really beautiful like I did. Errr...

Oh yea, you also need a food processor. Those cavemen sure did have a lot of handy kitchen appliances...
These are the dates, orange rind, and orange juice being finely chopped.

Beating butter in the mixer...look at her go!

Mmmm....honey instead of gallons of sugar. I'll take it!

Combining some almond and coconut flour.

Mix-y mix mix.


Separate dough into thirds. Mix one with half of the pecans and layer on the bottom of the pan. Mix the second with the date/orange mixture and layer. Mix the last with the second half of the pecans, and - you guessed it! - layer.

Chill for at least 2 hours.

Cut and ready for the oven!

All done! Nom nom.
Paleo Orange-Date-Pecan Bars
[Try saying that 10 times fast...]
Makes 22 bars.

1 10-oz. package chopped dates
1 tblspn fresh orange juice
3 tsp grated orange rind
1 cup butter
1/2 cup honey
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups almond flour
1 1/4 cups coconut flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans [divided]

Line a 9" x 5" loaf pan with foil [allow to extend over the edges of the pan]. In a food processor, chop the dates, orange rind, and orange juice until dates are finely chopped [45 seconds]. Soften butter in a microwave safe dish for approximately 45 seconds. In your stand mixer, beat butter; gradually add sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract. In a separate bowl, combine almond flour, coconut flour, baking powder, and salt. Gradually add flour mixture to the butter mixture. Divide dough into thirds. Knead in half of the pecans into the first batch of dough; press into pan. Knead dates into the next 1/3 of dough; press into pan as a second layer. Knead remaining pecans into last 1/3 of dough; press into pan as a third layer. Cover and chill at least 2 hours. Invert pan, discard foil. Cut dough lengthwise into 4 seconds; cut crosswise into 1/3in slices. Put on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes [almond/coconut flour burn a little easier than regular flour, so keep an eye on them].

[Adapted from Trudy Lanphier White, adapted from a Southern Living Recipe]

A Very Merry Pyke Christmas

Robby and I headed up to Dallas to visit the Pykes for Christmas while Bev and Martin were gallavanting off in Egypt on a Nile river cruise [they were very busy trying not to get kidnapped by protesters touring the pyramids and looking at mummies].

Just a few pictures from the day - next time I should obviously shower before present-opening. Oops. We were blessed with lots of lovely and generous gifts, including some from Paleo-Crossfit Santa! He was my favorite for obvious reasons.

It also snowed on Christmas day! This interfered with our plan to complete a 12 Days of Christmas WOD that morning, but I guess we deserved to take one day off! As you can see, it didn't interfere with Blue's WOD for the day.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Date Night with our Favorite Pup!

[ *Disclaimer* ] The entire idea for this date is courtesy of my fabulous former roommate, Betsy, who should have her own blog about all of the fabulous things she plans for her now-fiance Aaron! Betsy and Aaron plan the sweetest activities for each other, and I'm lucky enough to know her so that I can copy them as best I can :)

First and foremost, Robby and I LOVE our dog, Blue. If you are a dog-lover like us and feel bad leaving him/her at home on Friday/Saturday nights, then consider taking your favorite pup on a cute date night with you! It also helps if your puppy is as well-behaved and handsome as Blue :)

Meet Blue!

This date required a teensy bit of planning to get the notecards together, but since the kiddos were watching holiday movies and making ornaments on the last day of school [consider the achievement gap closed...we did it!], I had some spare time to make/print these. Of course, I didn't print them at school on the copier using cardstock I *borrowed* out of Charlie's office [oops?].

Once I got home from school, the first activity of our evening was of course, Crossfit. While Robby was taking his post-Crossfit shower, I set up the first little card for him to find, along with a snowman squeaky toy for Blue. [He picked it out at Petsmart himself! Aka he knocked about 5 of these off a shelf and it was time for us to go...]

Surprise waiting!
Card #1 - Date Invite!

Once Robby and I were ready, he got to open the second card to find out where we were going! Blue loves the dog park, so of course we had to stop in there first. More than anything, he loves to play fetch with tennis balls. [If we didn't stop him, I'm pretty sure he would play until he collapsed, but we have yet to test this theory.] Unfortunately, there weren't any other dogs at the park, but this didn't stop Blue from having a great time with the tennis ball.
Card #2 - Dog Park

Once back in the warm car, the next card was ready! We actually made a last-minute change and decided to go to Barnaby's on Shepherd instead of Happy Fatz [we were starving by this point, and Barnaby's was closer].
Card #3 - Happy Fatz turned Barnaby's

We enjoyed sitting outside under the heat lamps enjoying our bacon blue cheese and turkey avocado burgers [I'll let you guess who ordered which...]. Blue was a perfect gentleman and hung out with us while we ate dinner. He was befriended by a little girl named Maddie, who proceeded to sit down and hang out with us for about 20 minutes, telling us all sorts of random 7-year-old stories about her choir concert and boys in her class at school. Luckily, I managed to have her snap a picture of us before we left.
Thanks, Maddie!

Last stop was Coco's Crepes in Midtown! We shared a nutella and banana crepe, which was amaaaaazing. Super Paleo, obviously. After that we headed home to snuggle on the couch and watch a movie [of course I promptly fell asleep 20 minutes into the movie]. All in all, a successful Friday evening with my two favorite boys! If you would like to borrow the card template to create your own dog-friendly date, you can find the word document here.
Card #4 - Coco's Crepes

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Christmas Countdown!

We've been busy over here getting everything organized for Christmas. Between holiday parties, school finishing for the semester, and buying lots of presents for loved ones, time is flying by!

Update #1: Laura's Birthday (Dec 10th)
I had an amazing birthday courtesy of family, friends, and students. The Pykes came down from Dallas to help us put in a new garden that now features lots of beautiful flowers and delicious herbs. I've been using rosemary, dill, parsely, etc from the garden in our recent dinners, and it's been delicious! I also got a new fancy camera (Nikon D3100), which I'm excited to learn how to use and take lots of pictures for this new blog! The whole family (Pykes and Somers) went to Sunday brunch at Brennan's of Houston, where they made a big fuss of my birthday complete with a New Orleans style brass band singing to our table.

My birthday was rounded out by a surprise party at school thrown by my wonderful and fearless classroom roommate (Sam) and some of my students from last year! There was lots of singing, party hats, Starbucks coffee, balloons, decorations, thoughtful notes from students, and general excitement :)

First Period Surprise Party!
Update #2: YES Prep Southeast Holiday Party
One of the most fun parts of my Communications role at school is organizing the annual Holiday Party. This year it was held at Cork Soakers - a cute little wine bar in East Downtown. The space was beautifully decorated for Christmas, and everyone had a great time munching on delicious food and partaking in the adult beverages!

7th Grade Team at the Holiday Party!
Some of my favorite ladies :)
That's all for now! I promise to experiment with my new camera so that I can get some better quality pictures for the blog in future. Until then, I'll leave you with this fun picture of me and my friend Erin from earlier today:

Erin and I bumped into each other at Whole Foods Market wearing the EXACT same outfit!
Hope everyone has a wonderful week!