Monday, January 31, 2011

Weekend Recap

This weekend was busy but fun.  A little bit of everything: some home improvement projects, some good food, some good drinks, some hockey-watching and a little bit of work. 

On Saturday I worked on a quick and easy home improvement project that I'll show you tomorrow.  We then previewed an auction in Wake Forest, but didn't really see much, so we hit up a wine shop and a deli.  We walked away with a few bottles of wine, some sopressata, some hot anitpasta and a rice ball.  YUM.  We cut the rice ball in half and then topped it with mozzerella and put it in the toaster oven until it was heated all the way through and the cheese was golden brown. 

My mouth is seriously watering as I relive it...

Then on Sunday morning, we woke up to a very impatient kitty cat and my immediate first thought was: "Do we have ingredients for biscuits?!?!"  Chris is awesome and he ran to the store to pick up the ingredients we were missing.  And he brought home some donuts too, including the cinnamon pinecone below.  Holy bejeesus, it was good.

Then he made biscuits from scratch.  OMFG they were good.

He used the recipe from here.

Hope everyone had a great weekend!  Did you do anything fun or cook anything special?

Friday, January 28, 2011

New Additions!

We have some new additions to the house in the form of plate and a decanter!  (I know this is earth shattering stuff, hmm?)

Anyway, when my paternal grandmother passed away about 25 years ago, she left me, among some other things, her china.  Since then, my mom has hung onto it and kept it in fantastic shape over the years and used it at all family holidays.  Since we're finally at a place in our lives when we can actually a) use the china and b) appreciate the china, my parents have started to bring it back to North Carolina (piece by piece in her carry-on luggage, I might add.)  Over my birthday weekend, they brought out 8 dinner plates and 8 salad plates.  The set of 12 also includes dessert plates, cups and saucers.  So, needless to say, this is going to take a few more cross-country trips.

Here it is! 

Yes, it's floral and a little on the feminine side, but I think it's surprisingly versatile.  With some green placemats and a fun yellow print napkins, this could look totally funky and modern, see?

I can also mix it up by pulling in raspberry, cornflower blue, and violet with placemats, napkins, taper candles, and glassware.  Not all at once though, obviously.

Here are the plates with a girly pink fabric:

And with a cornflower blue:

Finally, Chris was so enamored of the decanter I bought a few weeks ago that he went out and bought another one for our gin!  Isn't he a great husband! 

I love the design of it!  He did good!

All together now!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

And now for a simple project...

I have no idea what was going on with our internet yesterday, but it looks like it's back up and running now (knock on wood).

Anyway, I posted a few weeks ago about my painting project from hell upstairs in the bonus room.  Between the yellow-ish paint and the honey colored wood, it just wasn't working.  At all.  Here's what it looked like before (sorry about the ridiculously large font on the photos--I clearly still have more to learn in Photoshop):

Here's what it looked like pre-wall paint and post-trim paint.

The only problem?  The handrail.  I didn't want the honey-colored wood, obviously, but I didn't want it white either.  I've been gravitating towards dark colors in this house and there are some black accents that I want to eventually pull in here and there and figured this was the perfect spot to start. 

So I removed the handrail, sanded it down and stained it black.  The little metal supports that attach the handrail to the wall were really gross, but I didn't really feel like making a trip to the hardware store that day, so I dug out a can of hammered nickel spray paint and voila!

(sorry it's a little blurry)

Total cost for my little handrail makeover?  Less than 5 bucks.  Love that!  I'm still debating if I want anything on the walls in the staircase.  I was kind of leaning towards a gallery-style look, but now I'm undecided.  Is that look over done?  More importantly I have no idea if I'm able to pull it off well. 


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A suprisingly tedious makeover

So a few weeks ago I decided to embark on what (I thought) would be an easy one-day project:  repainting my jewelry box.  It was too similar in color to the dresser and there was just too much reddish/brown going on in the room.

So I took the jewelry box apart, removed the hardware, and sanded the whole thing.

Then I taped off the parts around the edges:

And then it was time to prime!

Then things screeched to a halt due to a stomach bug and a week-long trip to Tucson.  Then by the time I got back it was too cold to paint it outside, so I had to bring it in and paint inside, but the paint didn't go on as opaque as I wanted so I had to do 4 coats.  UGH.  Two layers of polyurethane later, I was done!  I put the hardware back on and voila!

I used a sample pot of Martha Stewart's Butterscotch and I'm pleased with how it turned out.  It's just a little bit of color and I love how it pulls in some of the colors from the teacups that I also use to store jewelry.  I want to incorporate more orange into the house and this is a fun little first step.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Oh, you thought I was done talking about my birthday?...

...Too bad!  As far as my family goes, you don't just have a birthday, you have a birthmonth, so you might want to get used to it.  I got spoiled rotten this year, so taking off my tiara getting back to reality might take some time.

Anyway, Friday was my birthday and my parents came out to visit and took us out to dinner at one of my favorite places on the planet, Margaux's.  After a phenomenal meal we came home and opened presents.  Again, I got ridiculously spoiled.

For starters, my husband got me this beautiful necklace:

And my aunt Jenny surprised me with this beautiful peacock necklace that I had posted about here!  It's so pretty in person.

And my parents got me one of these, so hopefully I will have the skin of a 30 year-old forever. 

Then on Saturday night we had a bunch of friends over.  Chris made pizza and naturally, it was amazing.

He made several different kinds using the homemade dough he had made earlier in the morning:  bacon and broccoli (my favorite!); smoked salmon with ricotta, red onion and capers; cheese pizza with homemade tomato sauce; and brie, pear, walnut and arugula.  Like I said, it was amazing.

We had pretty much run out of time to bake a cake, so my mom and I went to The Cupcake Shoppe and picked up 20 cupcakes that were RIDICULOUSLY good.  The flavor of the week was peanut butter and jelly, so I had a part of that one and a carrot cake cupcake (my favorite)

Of course, all the food in the world wouldn't be much fun without some of my favorite people to join us:

My dad and my aunt Barbara

My mom and me

My ladies:  April, me, Steph, AnnMarie, and Jenny

It was the PERFECT birthday celebration in my book.

And for all of you who commented, THANK YOU for all the advice on my birthday dress.  My first choice was the first dress, but when I tried it on, it was awful:  completely shapeless, too short, and too pale.  So instead I got a different dress that I LOVE from Anthro (which happens to not be on their website anymore).  Plus it was on sale.  Score!  And April gave me the cutest little crown to wear with it, further reinforcing my visions of self-importance.

So, all in all, it was a FABULOUS birthday weekend!  Hope everyone out there in blog-land had a good weekend too!  Did you do anything fun?

Friday, January 21, 2011


So, my 30th birthday is finally here.  If you recall, I set a list of 30 goals for myself for the year.  Want to see how I did? 

1.   Take a photography class.  Done!  I took a 5 hour introductory class in November at Peace Camera and had a great time.  I took a photography class in high school, and this was the perfect refresher course.  I definitely want to get more into photography and take some more classes.  My super-awesome brother-in-law, Bryan, got us a Christmas present in the form of a Sony a390, which I love and takes fantastic photos.  I can't wait to delve into photography a bit more.

2.  Go to Seattle with the hubby.  Done!  Chris and I went in April and LOOOOOVED it.  We ate and drank and ate and drank and ate and drank some more and had a fantastic time (and we even saw a burlesque show!).  Here's proof we were there (taken at the Space Needle):

3.  Sell the house.  Done!  On March 26 we sold our old house.  It was a totally successful and gratifying experience, but also extremely stressful and honestly, it's something I'd be happy not ever having to do again.

4.  Run a 5k.  Yeah...about that.  Didn't happen.  In fact I accomplished NONE of my physical goals this year.  But that's okay.  I'm not going to beat myself up over it.

5.  Visit Las Vegas for a weekend.  Didn't happen.  Kinda lost interest in it.  Plus I went to Napa with 16 of my college girlfriends to celebrate our 30th birthdays back in October, and between that trip, our trip to Seattle and a trip to San Diego for my brother's wedding, the travel budget was kind of blown for the year.  All three of my trips were absolutely amazing and if it meant skipping Vegas to do those three trips, I'd gladly do it again.

6.  Learn to crochet.  Didn't happen.  I realized that I have enough craft projects and hobbies and didn't need to add one that I was kinda ho-hum about just for the sake of learning how to do it.

7.  Watch all the Star Wars movies.  Done!  I watched the 3 original movies and haven't watched the newer 3 yet.  I will someday though.

8.  Do 5 unassisted consecutive pull ups.  Ha!  Not happenin' any time soon.  I need to lose some weight and get myself back in shape before I can do this again.  It can be done though.  I've done it before and I'll do it again.

9.  Learn Photoshop.  I'm considering this done.  I'm using Elements and there's still a LOT more to learn, but I've figured out a number of things and I'm on a roll.

10.  Lose 10 pounds.  Or gain 8???  UGH.

11.  Start volunteering.  Done!  I'm going to be working with my sorority to help a new chapter get started at NC State.  (Yes, I was in a sorority and no, you may NOT roll your eyes at me!)  I swear, if they make me hold hands and sing songs, I'm out.

12.  Start a vegetable garden.  Um.  Technically done.  I mean, I started a vegetable garden, but it's not my fault that nothing happened.  As in NADA.  I didn't have a single plant sprout.  Sigh.  I'll try again this spring though.

13.  See the North Carolina symphony.  I'm calling it DONE.  It wasn't the full-blown symphony (which I still want to do someday), but for Christmas, my mom got us tickets to see a chamber ensemble play at a local restaurant this past Sunday night.  We got a chance to try a new restaurant and experience some incredible live music. 

14.  Watch "The Sound of Music."  DONE!  Last night!  (Way to procrastinate!)

15.  Watch "Gone with the Wind."  Didn't happen.

16.  Learn to make poached eggs.  Done!  It was kind of ridiculously easy, actually.

17.  Read one book per month.  Done!  I read more this year than I have in ages, thanks to my nook!

18.  Read "The Hobbit."   Not done.  Kinda forgot about it and just never got on it.

19.  Learn to make a souffle.  Not done.

20.  Learn to paint my nails properly.  Done.  The trick is this little thing called patience.  I hope to learn more about it in my thirties.

21.  Learn to play chess.  Done!  I'm terrible at it, but I at least know how to play.  My 8 year old nephew taught me the basics and kicked my ass the whole time.

22.  Learn to play poker.  Oops.  Not done.

23.  Buy a new (to us) house.  Done!  Wheeee! 

24.  Refinish a piece of furniture.  Done!  I did two in fact: my red desk and turqoise nightstand.

25.  Go to a concert.  Done!  We saw Lyle Lovett in August and he was amazing.  One of the best concerts I'd ever been to in fact.  Except for the man with the exceptionally large head who sat in front of us.  (I realize that this goal makes it sound as if I had never gone to a concert before and that is most definitely not the case.  I just wanted to make plans to see a concert this past year, since we don't really do that enough.)

26.  Blog at least once a week.  Didn't start the year on a good note with that, but I ended the year blogging every day.  Sweet!  Half credit.

27.  Build a chicken coop.  Not done.  Kind of lost interest for now. I mean, I'd love to do it, but this wasn't the right year for it. We've been busy getting the rest of the house in order and we've both been gone too much. Maybe next year.

28.  Stop biting my nails once and for all.  Done!  The temptation is there, but I haven't bitten them in awhile now.  FINALLY.  I've only been working on this for thirty damn years.

29.  Pay off my car.  Done!  I made my final car payment in May--28 months early! Go me!!!

30.  Learn my credit score.  Done!  Well, I went to my bank yesterday and signed up to get my credit report and score mailed to me.  I had gone online to a few sites, but I never felt 100% confident that I wasn't going to get scammed, so I went to the bank.  I should have the report and score in a few days.

So, for those of you keeping track (like me), I accomplished 19.5 out of 30.  Not a spectacular score, but whatever--I had a spectacular year and that's what counts. 

The purpose for a lot of these goals was for me as a total home-body to get out of the house and experience some stuff and I definitely did that.  I think if there's anything I've learned it's this:  say yes to things.  Participate in life and the community.  Do fun stuff.  I mean, it's fun to have a pretty house and cute clothes and all that, but it's more fun to create memories with my friends and family and my husband.

I'm really looking forward to my thirties.  I think they're going to be awesome.  My twenties were spectacular:  I studied abroad, graduated, got married, and started an adult life (and had all the ups and downs that come with "growing up").  I have no idea what my thirties might bring for me, but I'm excited for this decade nonetheless.  I plan to do another list of goals to accomplish before my 31st and I'll hopefully share next week.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Random Inspiration

So the other day I was catching up on the GOOP newsletters (I have a total girl-crush on Gwyneth Paltrow) and came across this post, which I thought was really, really good and just what I needed to read right now.  The Californian in me tends to be very easy-going about things and I when I get a little lazy, I can slide deep into disorganized territory.  Holidays and birthdays tend to sneak up on me, as do trips and meals, even though all of them happen on a completely predictable basis.  So!  I'm not calling it a "resolution" by any means, but I need to work on getting myself organized.  I don't want to spreadsheet-myself to death like the woman in the first post, but I think there's something to be learned from what she has to say, so I intend on setting some routines for myself and doing a bit of planning for the year ahead, including some gift-planning, weekly meal planning, and signing up on to track expenses.

What tips do you have to help keep you sane?  Any ideas you feel like sharing with me?  I think I need all the help I can get.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

It's my birthday and I'll wear a dress if I want to...

So, Friday's my 30th and we're having a bunch of friends over for dinner and drinks and festivities.  I'm thinking I need a dress, right?  Right.  Here are a few options. 

(Unfortunately, seeing as how I'm RIDICULOUSLY pale right now, I don't think this will work.)

Ruffle Front Chiffon Dress with a gold belt around the waist

(I LOVE this, but at $400, it ain't happenin' right now.)

(Worn with black leggings, a black belt and lots of gold bracelets.)

Thoughts?  Help a girl out.  I need some options.  Seriously.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Our Entry Way

Not much to say here, other than I really like the way our entry way looks at the moment.

The lamp was a gift from my fabulous husband for Christmas and the little framed card was from my bff who lives back in our hometown of Cardiff-by-the-Sea.  I love the colors in it and the fact that it reminds me of home. 

FYI, I learned a tip quite awhile ago from Martha Stewart (I think):  to get your tulips to stay upright, trim the ends just a little, then insert a pin lengthwise into the stem and pull it out.  It takes all of a minute and it keeps the tulips from flopping over.  I have no idea why; it just does.  Also works for Gerber daisies.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Saturday Night Pasta Night

On Saturday night, I got a wild hair (or is it "wild hare"?  I don't know!) to make some homemade pasta.  Which translates into "Chris cooked and I watched."  I did make cocktails though, so there's that.

It starts with some flour and eggs.

Then Chris kneaded it into dough, wrapped it, and stuck it in the fridge for a little while.

Then he ran the dough through the pasta attachment on the KitchenAid a few times to make it super thin.

Then it was once more through the pasta attachment to turn it into tagliatelle.  Yum.

Chris made pasta sauce with pork sausage from the farmers' market, pumpkin, fennel, onion, garlic, salt and pepper.  Simple, but very, very delicious.

As a side dish, he made collard greens flavored with smoked pork neckbones and a little brown sugar.  It's umm...totally Italian...right?

The whole meal was delicious.

And lest you forget, I made cocktails!!!  We swung into the liquor store on Saturday afternoon to restock our bar and ended up with a bottle of Domaine de Canton (a ginger liqueur) and I made a delicious cocktail called a Pimms Cup.

Pimm's Cup

1 part Domaine De Canton

1 part Pimm's
3 parts Ginger Ale (we used extra spicy Blenheim's ginger ale)
Serve with ice.

And of course Grizabella was in on all the action:

Hope your weekend was equally excellent!  Did you make anything tasty?
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