Mary and I hope you’re having a wonderful fourth of July week! We’re spending the next several days spending time with our families and trying to relax, a little. We’ll be back on July 9 with regular posts. Have a great week and a happy Independence Day.


Blog friends, we did it! Kyle and I successfully hosted our first family function at our house.

Somehow, using “the weather is usually nice on Easter” and “people keep saying they want to come see the house but they don’t ever come up” and “We have a lot of space and a nice deck” finally worked to get both of our extended families up to the house for a holiday. We combined my family — two parents, six aunts and uncles with dates, one cousin with a date, one brother with a date — and Kyle’s family — two parents and a grandmother — in the same house for a long afternoon. All in all, it went pretty well.

We told everyone to be there between 1 and 2. For my family, this means one, and for his this means two. So maybe next time I should average that out to 1:30 or something… but someone brought veggie tray and strawberries and there was Texas caviar so people weren’t starving until dinner went down at 2.

I think Kyle’s Easter feast stole the show:

That is a recycled catering tray with ham, smoked bacon-wrapped chicken in bbq sauce, and pork tenderloin in a mustard bbq sauce. By all accounts, it was all amazing. People keep telling us, and my mom, that the chicken and tenderloin were the best they’ve ever had. (I’m convinced it’s a testament to my true love for Kyle that I married him without ever tasting the fruits of his barbecue. I think he has guy friends in his life who would marry him just for his burgers. I suppose I do know that he makes some delicious vegetarian meals for me out of the grill and smoker.)

All of Kyle’s barbecue meant that I only had to cook brownies for the day, so I just weathered the chaos of trying to figure out how our counter space can fit a buffet line for so many people. We managed to do it without any traffic jams though — it’s not like our kitchen is really lacking in counter space.

It was nice to get to show off our house to the people that had never visited before. Looking up all of our “before” photos made me realize that it’s probably put together to do a before and after series for the blog, so look forward to that as we get a little closer to summer!


It’s easter egg season! Dyeing easter eggs is a craft that I’ve always really liked. When I was little, we used to blow out eggs and decorate them, and hard boil some for decorating too. I think the blown out ones were special — though I can’t remember why. I just remember being horrified that raw egg was going to go into my mouth and some combination of that fear and my little kid lungs meaning that someone else had to blow the egg out for me.

 Pysanky-Ukrainian Easter Eggs are some of the most beautiful Easter eggs. A few years ago, Design*Sponge had a diy project for ukrainian eggs made simple. It looks really beautiful and not that difficult although the final result is certainly not as elegant at the elaborate pysanky eggs.

These Doodle Easter eggs made with a black sharpie an help you get an intricate design like the pysanky eggs without the effort of dyeing. I don’t think I have a steady enough hand for this. My paisley designs even on paper come out looking kind of crazy in a bad way.

I think decoupage is probably my best option for getting an elaborate design! The best thing about decoupage is you don’t even have to use a real egg.

This tutorial from Two Girls Being Crafty uses napkins to decoupage!  Clever!

You could also use a simpler material for your decoupage.

I think these Paper Mache Easter Eggs from Centsational Girl are beautiful! They look so natural.

Natural dyed eggs are really pretty too, but it kind of intimidates me.

This DIY uses leaves, onion peels, stocking to create beautiful brown eggs.

If you want more Natural Dyes for Easter Eggs, ApartmentTherapy had a great roundup. It includes recipes for the above natural-dyed eggs via Two Men and a Little Farm. What a gorgeous palette!

My favorite idea is to use temporary tattoos to decorate eggs.

These nature temporary tatoos look beautiful on undyed Easter eggs (via CountryLiving).

I also adore these thread wrap easter eggs from Martha Stewart. They’re really pretty and the little bid of thread adds a nice texture.

We’re hosting Easter this year! We hosted last year, too, but it was just my parents and Kyle’s parents. This year, we have my extended family and his grandma coming too. That means I’ll be in a fit cleaning the house Saturday and finishing up little chores. I hope I find time to dye some eggs!

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We’re enjoying quiet Valentine’s Days with our valentines, and we hope you’re doing the same! Or, at least, that you had a stellar galentine’s day yesterday!

(via Etsy on Pinterest)


I love tents with the wreckless abandon of a child. Like all children I know, I loved to build forts inside and see how big we could make them using all of the blankets in the house and creatively draping them over furniture in a room. They’re beautiful in a patchwork quilt kind of way from the outside and special secret places inside.

When I was young, I thought tents were maybe the best way to spend a weekend or a snow day. (Our neighborhood-wide snow day igloo in the ditches in front of our houses should be in the running for most epic child-built fort in Topeka, Kansas.)

But now that I’m an adult, tents seem like just a cozy hideaway to spend a special holiday with my husband — who, after all, is my best friend and favorite playmate.

He was a little sick this weekend so we spent most of Saturday in bed, watching TV and Netflix, and just hanging out. If I were more of a planner of big romantic gestures, I’d probably surprise him with a giant tent around our bedroom … or in the living room or …  in the rest of our house.

There are so many beautiful ideas for turning a room in your house into a tent!

And so much inspiration that makes me wish it was summer already and we could spend an afternoon outside.

Or share an outside evening meal together:

Or maybe even the whole night:

If you’re enjoying this tent inspiration as much as I am, give some love to the link-throughs and click the images for more fabulous tent roundups at other blogs!

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Happy New Year from Mary and I!

Our schedules are still a little crazy because of the holidays. Mary is out of town and I am recovering from the fun of Saturday night and doing laundry. I’ve put laundry day off for so long that I basically wore my last outfit out of the house today.

Our New Year’s Eve party went off perfectly! The Ming Tsai dumpling steaming demonstration was perfect and our dumplings delicious and were cooked perfectly. We put out heavy appetizers of dumplings and crab rangoon when everyone got here at about 6:30 and we sat down to eat at about 8:45. Dinner was delicious. The satay and noodles were a little spicier than I intended but no one complained about it. You’ll notice that I managed to pull off three dietary restrictions/preferences: I had satay with fake chicken, Julie had satay without peanut butter in the sauce, and Cara had noodles without cilantro in the dressing.

Everyone agreed that a heavy dinner was a good pause in the middle of the party and it was so great to have 9 of my favorite people gathered around my dinner table. Even though this house is really way too big for just Kyle and I, I love that it means that we can have giant sleepovers and feel like our friends have generally warm and comfortable places to sleep. There is almost nothing I like more than waking up in a house full of my friends. Kyle and I are so blessed to have so many wonderful friends!

I hope you all had a great evening counting down to 2012 and that you’re as excited as I am to see what the new year brings!


Welcome back from the Christmas holiday! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday no matter what or how you celebrate it!

Now that Christmas is over, we’re busy planning for the next holiday that is just a few days away. For New Year’s Eve we usually go to Kyle’s parents’ house where they have a tradition of a massive shrimp feast every year. This year, our plans are a little different. We’ll be staying home and hosting eight of my college friends.

We’re only asking our guests to bring desserts and their own drinks so Kyle and I are in charge of the dinner party menu. I decided to go with a Chinese New Year theme… I know we’re a few weeks early for the Chinese New Year still but I’m really just into the decorations and the theme fits well with the new calendar year.


  • Seafood and vegetable dumplings

You’re going to learn very quickly in this post that most of my food inspiration lately comes from the Nate Berkus Show. After watching him make dumplings with Chef Ming Tsai, I totally feel like I could make homemade dumplings no big deal. We’ll probably do the black bean and shrimp dumplings and maybe the vegetarian shiitake and leek dumplings. More than likely, I’ll just use the skills I learned in the demonstration and make them with whatever I feel like preparing. Dumplings should be the make-ahead so they’re easy to make the night of the meal.


  • Egg Drop Soup

I love egg drop soup almost as much as I love the Eat What You Love cookbook by Marlene Koch. I acquired this cookbook from my mother-in-law when I discovered it in her basement. It was likely the remnant of a QVC order of the past but it’s totally my gain. We also love to cook for Kyle’s parents when we’re at his house so really it’s their gain, too. Every recipe I’ve made come out so delicious that it can satisfy most of my cravings during a diet but some, like the Kung Pao shrimp and Egg Drop Soup, are so delicious that I don’t even like them from restaurants now.


  • Chow Mei Fun
  • Chicken/Shrimp/Seitan Satay

This is a stock image of Chow Mei Fun that looks pretty delicious and close to mine. I use longer thin rice noodles, more veggies, and no meat. I’d share my recipe but I can’t remember who to attribute it to! I must have really done some digging when I found it and I’ve made several alterations. When I’m going to make it now, I have to search my gmail and then wrack my brain for the changes. I’ll have to document it when I make it this weekend and share my version of the recipe with you. It makes so much and it’s really pretty easy.

The satay is another recipe featured on Nate Berkus, this time from last week’s Meals in Minutes with Jamie Oliver segment. It looked so good we actually made his whole meal (with fake chicken) last week and it was delicious! So good that I would probably just do it for dinner on Saturday but one of our friends is allergic to nuts and another is adverse to cilantro. The cilantro blends into the satay pretty well but it’s strong on the noodles in his recipe so I’ll stick with Chow Mei Fun instead.

With the menu planned, I really need to get going on clearing the freezer, preparing the dumplings, freezing the dumplings, and making the decorations!

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So Eclectic is a blog dedicated to great ideas for home design. Austin, Texas-based writer Mary Marcum and Savannah, Missouri-based writer Jess Rezac feature affordable decor, decorating solutions, and inspiration. At So Eclectic, we experiment with design together. So Eclectic posts new content every weekday.

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