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Thursday, June 30, 2011

A little July 4th decor

I just have a few items out for 4th of July. A couple weeks ago my mom sent this wooden birdhouse perched on a candlestick. She painted everything and glued it together with wood glue and then tied on some festive fabric. Seem so simple but really looks great!

She also sent this dollar store frame with paper and ribbon inside

My godmother recently mailed me one of her fabulous embroidered frames too!

I didn't even decorate for Independence Day last year and honestly my home decor doesn't have a country look or color scheme that would lend itself well to decorating for the 4th so I think just a couple of items here and there is perfect!

Hope you have a fun and safe 4th of July weekend!!

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Monday, June 27, 2011

Dining room turned office

Ever since we moved in almost 2 years ago woohoo! we were kinda on the fence about what to do with our dining room area. We already have a nice area in between the kitchen and living room with a 6 person table (it can expand to 8 if needed). And how often do most families really use their dining room... a couple times a year maybe. We are all about functional space that gets used so we thought for awhile about having it be a study or an office. By awhile I mean a year and a half while it sat empty with a couple bookshelves in it haha.

We finally decided on making it a nice office for Eric. I really liked what was done in this post so that was a little inspiration.

The before (it was painted before we moved in but I don't have a before picture with it painted so just imagine it)

The after. I do love the 2 shades of brown/tan separated by the chair rail.

We wanted a really nice desk since this is the first room you see when you enter our front door. We were able to reuse the bookshelves to store all of Eric's books and my cookbooks as well as some decor.

I hesitated to even post about this since it is not complete but I am hoping to get some ideas. We need something to go on this big wall. It is really the first thing you see when you come in the front door too so I want it to be awesome. We have thought about a collection of maps, collection of photography, 1 big photo... what do you think? I don't want to do plates since I am going to do that somewhere else.

What about curtains? Should we do them? If yes, go with white? Or maybe a shade/pattern of blue that ties nicely with the bright green paint in the kitchen?

The chandelier. Is it okay or is it too formal and we should do track lighting or something similar like in this post.

Thanks in advance for your awesome advice :)

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Italy Trip Day 1

Eric and I took a fabulous vacation to Italy in May with another couple from our family - Eric's twin brother Keith and his wife Megan. Italy was a place we had been wanting to visit for awhile. I won't lie, it took a TON of planning and research since we did the trip on our own and stayed at apartments instead of hotels but everything went pretty smoothly.

No flight delays/complications. No lost luggage. No bad weather. No illness. No injuries. No theft or scams. Of course there are always unexpected things when you go to another place but nothing major... I'll just attribute that to all my organization :)

May 3 and 4- We left Charlotte in the evening on a direct overnight flight to Roma. We honestly could have just done carry-on if we hadn't intended on bringing anything back so we just checked one suitcase that was mainly empty just in case it did get lost. We arrived at FCO around 9:30am Italy time and got our luggage and found the train area. We had a few difficulties with credit cards but finally got tickets and took the Leonardo Express to Roma Termini.

Then after finally finding the ticket machines, we took the Eurostar train to Firenze SMN. It was only 1.5 hr ride and we were all pretty tired still. Wish the US had a nice extensive rail system like that!

It was just a 10 min walk from the train station to our 2 bedroom/1 bath apt in Florence, called The Flora. It was right behind the Duomo, like literally you could see it out the window 20 feet away and there were no buildings in between.

out the skylight in the living room/kitchen

Luca, the landlord, showed us everything in the apt and was so easy to deal with. The apt was clean and compact.

K&M's room

E&E's room

living room/kitchen

We did a little exploring and ran errands to the atm, the tourist information shop to get maps, and the grocery store- Conrad. One happy accident was a bag of pretzels that turned out to be pretzel shaped cookies similar to those ones you get in those blue tins around Christmas time but even better! Did I mention the apt was on the 4th floor up steep concrete steps... talk about a workout!

practicing some italian phrases
with my awesome cross shoulder bag made by my godmother

A little later for dinner we went to a panini shop, Antico Noe, where they cut all the meat in front of you recommended by Luca. It was good and we were all starving.

Later we went for our first gelato at Grom. The cinnamon and vanilla Eric and I had were good but Keith and Megan didn't like their flavors as much... good thing we had MUCH more gelato tasting ahead of us!

We stopped off at the atm again since we had since figured a few things out with our banks. We went to bed early to recover from jetlag. It was quite noisy outside the apt at night since it was right by the Duomo but earplugs helped.

love this candid at the atm
Bell tower and duomo in the evening. It was wonderful staying right by this!

That concludes our first day (short day due to the flying in, jet lag etc.) in Italy... more to come!!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

First veggie from the garden

I picked the first veggie from my garden about a week and a half ago. Nothing was expected to be ready this early but I had a random zucchini that just could not wait to grow. And it got huge. I have seriously never seen one this big before.

I guess it could have even gotten bigger but I was afraid it might split or something... do zucchini do that?

It was kinda nice that it showed up early so I don't have like 6 zucchini ripe at the same time. Oh the joys of a home garden :)

On another note, this is my 100th blog post!! WOOHOO! Love love my readers!

Sunday, June 12, 2011


The dish, not the movie. Although the movie is fabulous as well, seriously. Go watch it. Well after you read this post. Then you can make Ratatouille while watching Ratatouille... crazy!

My mom gave me this recipe out of her Joy of Cooking book. It does require a lot of chopping and attention throughout the process but it's completely worth it and fairly easy. And hubby who is not the biggest veggie lover (but getting much better), really likes it... added plus!

From Joy of Cooking, serves 4-6

1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium eggplant, peeled and cut into 1 in. cubes
1 lb zucchini, cut into 1 in. cubes
1 1/2 cups sliced white onions
2 large red bell peppers, cut into 1 in. squares
3 cloves garlic, chopped
28oz can chopped tomatoes, drained
2-3 springs of fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Saute eggplant and zucchini in 1/4 cup olive oil in large non-stick skillet over high heat until they are tender and golden (10-12 min). Remove vegetables from skillet and reduce heat to medium-high. In same skillet, cook onions in 2 Tbsp olive oil until slightly softened. Then add red bell peppers, garlic, and salt & pepper to taste and cook until vegetables are tender (8-12 min). Add tomatoes, thyme, and bay leaf. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 5 min. Add eggplant and zucchini back in and cook until everything is tender (20 min more). Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Then stir in basil.

peelin' the eggplant

eggplant and zucchini cooking.. see the smoke

just after adding in bell peppers and garlic

simmering all together now

I served it as the main dish over brown rice with some cheesy naan bread. It's very hearty so you don't even miss the meat but you could serve as a side dish along with chicken as well.

It is such pretty colors and uses so many summer veggies and herbs. The basil came right from my herb garden! I had never had ratatouille or even heard of it before the movie came out and then after my mom made it for hubby and I once when we were visiting, we were hooked!

Try it out and let me know what ya think!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Jessica and Paul's wedding

A few weeks ago we travelled to Clinton SC to see my sorority little sister get married! Jessica is one of my 2 amazing littles. The 3 of us had some fun times in our Alpha Chi Omega family. I picked those 2 girls as my littles when they didn't even really know each other and then they quickly became best friends. I feel super lucky they picked me as their big sis and we have stayed in touch.

Christa, Jessica, Me

I actually was friends with the groom in college before the 2 of them even met or became friends... small world! The wedding was beautiful and there were a ton of people there. I was the book attendant at the wedding so I showed up early to help out and take some behind the scenes photos.

With the beautiful bride at the reception in Greenwood SC (about 30 min from Clinton). It was at this gorgeous clubhouse/plantation house on a golf course.

Bride with her college roomies

Cake cutting

Doing the AXO traditional sweetheart song. We had a few difficulties with keeping the candle lit due to the ceiling fans but I think our amazing vocal abilities made up for that :)

The lovely Alpha Chi girls. Hubby was sweet to take the pictures that I wanted with the girls that night!

Don't ya just love weddings!?!

So happy for yall!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

No Bake PB Chocolate Crispies

These are honestly the easiest cookies I have ever made. If you are someone that says oh I can't bake or I can't cook blah blah blah then you HAVE to make these. Not only are they easy but they are unbelievably fast (well minus the cooling/hardening part).

I found this recipe at Envy My Cooking. You should check 'em out for lots of great ideas.

Picture is from Envy My Cooking, I forgot to take one before they were all eaten... whoops! Well mine did look just the same at least :)

No Bake PB Chocolate Crispies
by Envy My Cooking, makes ~20 cookies

2 cups sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
2 cups quick cooking oats
1 tsp. vanilla
1/3 cup peanut butter

Melt butter in saucepan and when it is almost melted mix in sugar, cocoa, and milk. Bring to boil and boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in oats, peanut butter, and vanilla. Mix well and spoon them out onto wax paper to cool.

These were delicious!! The nice thing is they used ingredients I had on hand. And these are great when you want to make cookies but don't want to heat up the kitchen by using the oven :)

Let me know what you think! Anyone else have super easy cookie recipes?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Kelley's Baby Shower and a ruffled onesie

Our friends Kelley and Sean are having a baby girl this summer! So as part of the gift, I made a couple of onesies and my mom made some hand-stitched shoes. I did heat transfer vinyl using her name and some dots.

I felt it needed something extra, some pizazz if you will and I had been wanting to try ruffles so I picked up some 1 3/4 inch Lace Hem Facing and added ruffles to the back...

Honestly ruffles make most things even CUTER! I think my first time ruffling turned out pretty well. It took longer than I thought since my mom suggested I hand baste the ruffles on first instead of trying to sew with pins in since the lace was fairly delicate and could easily slip around. I am super slow at hand sewing things so I'm sure it wouldn't take as long for an experienced sewer.

And the little felt shoes match the ruffles :) I WISH I could hand sew these like my mom did... perhaps one day I will get better at it. The nice part about using the lace for ruffles was that the long edges were already finished and I only had to turn under the ends.

I also did a heat transfer VT onesie since Sean went to Virginia Tech. It is similar to the Clemson ones I have done.

I went to Kelley's shower a couple weeks ago at her in-laws neighborhood clubhouse. There was a ton of really great food and a cake done in Olivia's nursery colors.

And a million gifts! She had even more than what is in this picture. Olivia is going to be all set for anything she might need.

Here is the mom to be, Kelley. She looks so cute pregnant! And she did a pretty good job handling that huge basket of gifts.

Of course I had to snap some photos of her opening my gift. I also got her this mobile off her registry that matches the nursery. I can't wait to see the room!

The shower was fun and I got to meet some of her family and friends. We are really excited for them and CANNOT wait to meet Olivia soon!!

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