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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Healthy Honey Mustard Broccoli Slaw

This is another perfect tailgating or party recipe as this side dish can be made ahead of time. AND it's really healthy and delicious! I brought this to a few parties this summer and took it to our Clemson tailgate for the Wake Forest game and for the FSU game along with the yummy Southern Caviar Dip. Definitely a crowd pleaser :)  Plus many people do not like the taste of cabbage and this is made with shredded broccoli instead.

Honey Mustard Broccoli Slaw
serves 10, can easily be cut in half if needed, 35 calories per 1/2 cup

- 2  12 oz (5 cup) bags of broccoli slaw found in the produce section
- 1/2 cup scallions or less if you prefer
- 8 tablespoons of non-fat plain Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons of light mayonnaise
- 5 tablespoons of spicy brown mustard
- 3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
- 5 teaspoons of honey
- Pepper to taste

In a small to medium bowl combine all the ingredient except the slaw and the scallions and whisk together until well mixed. Taste dressing and adjust ingredients as needed. Sometimes I add a little extra mustard or vinegar. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Toss dressing with 2 bags of slaw and scallions and serve. Sometimes I even throw in some extra shredded carrots (always keep these on hand for salads) when I want more color... for Clemson tailgating orange color is never a bad thing! Leftover slaw is still great the next 2 days. I like to even dress it the night before serving and then I don't have anything to do when it's time to eat it. This is especially convenient when taking it to a tailgate!

The slaw is tangy and crunchy and I love that it barely has any mayonnaise. It's a fabulous side to burgers, hot dogs, chicken, BBQ, a filler in wraps or whatever!

Hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Guest Post: Garden Gnome to Cardinals Gnome

Today I have a special (and timely) treat for everyone! In honor of the beginning of the World Series I asked one of my best friends and fellow crafters, Katie, to share a fun redo she recently did. I have to say I saw the before and after in person and the photos don't even quite do the makeover justice that it does in real person.

Thank-you, Emily, for asking me to share a true trash-to-treasure story! I must say, I am excited to be documenting the re-birth of an... ummm... shall we say distressed... piece of outside decor.
When my husband's brother moved into a new home in Iowa, the previous owners left a garden gnome on the premises. I do not believe they left it in error but as an intentional way to pawn off an ugly and super heavy piece of backyard-tackiness. It has since become a tradition to pass this guy (named "Shamus") around to each family member as an unwanted gift.
Just so I'm setting the scene right, you have to understand that everyone else in the family has a house and, appropriately, a garden to hide this creepy fella except Kyle and I. We live in an 800-sq ft apartment with no outdoor space. So to my delight **insert sarcasm** Kyle received the gnome for his birthday in April and we dragged this thing back from Kyle's other brother in Virginia to our home in Charlotte (Yes, the gnome was presented wrapped in a bath towel).

I'll admit, Kyle is a gracious cohabitor of our tiny space. He doesn't voice many opinions about decorations or my homemade crafts like the block pumpkins, stair rail wood snowman or burlap wreath. However, he was adamant Shamus the Gnome needed to be on display and insisted we place him outside our door in the hallway of our apartment building. I could hardly argue as this would relieve me from having to find a way to make him fit it in our actual living space.

Our other hall tenants love Shamus. Chatter-box Kristina across the hall says she waves to him every morning. This summer we came home from vacation and found him a few doors down (not sure if he was moved or if he decided to take a stroll on his own). We have even heard rumors of a weirdo in another part of our building mumbling to himself about trolls. We like to think he saw our gnome and it sent him into a psychotic dialogue about little men. He has become a part of our small entryway and after 6 months of greeting Shamus every time we came home, I decided to take matters into my own hands and give him a makeover!

On a related note, Kyle is a HUGE St. Louis Cardinals fan. Huge is an understatement. He can usually be seen with at least 2 pieces of STL Cardinals gear on at all times. See Exhibit 1.

As the Cardinal's season continued and their hope of a postseason stint seemed imminent, I formulated a plan to turn Shamus into a Cards fan, keeping with the This-Is-Kyle's-Decor-Not-Mine theme. It took an entire afternoon, some cheap paint and a lot of patience waiting for the layers to dry but I am thrilled with how he turned out! Here is a close-up of his look prior to some T.L.C.
The whole project cost just a few dollars since I only needed to get a couple extra paint colors I didn't already have on hand. I used Folk Art Acrylic Paint which doesn't make him weather-proof but that can be someone else's problem one day when he gets passed on. After a quick wipe-down to remove dirt from Iowa, Virginia and who knows where else, he was ready for his first layer of paint. Since I used the cheapest paints available it took many layers (3-4) so I moved between different colors and sections while the previous area dried. I mixed shades of black, white and gray to give his beard some depth and even made his lips a more realistic pink by diluting red paint. I free-handed the STL on the hat with a pencil, copying the logo from one of Kyle's many baseball caps, then painted over the pencil marks with short strokes and a very thin paintbrush. The apple in his right hand was the perfect shape for a baseball (credit goes to Kyle for this idea), but I was unsure how to utilize the lumps and bumps of the basket in his left arm, so I painted it dark so your eye isn't drawn to it.

Everyone in Kyle's family approved of the makeover and I think he is now somewhat desirable! He has brought good luck to the Cardinals team as we now pat his head on game days before entering our apartment. You don't think our gnome is the reason the Cardinals are playing in the World Series tonight? Go ahead, be skeptical, but in a sport riddled with curses and traditions I'm giving credit to Shamus for at least a small part of the Cardinals' success.

I hope you have been inspired to give an old piece of decor a boost and make the best of an otherwise ugly and creepy situation. And while you're at it, join Kyle, Shamus and I in cheering on the Cardinals as they look to beat the Red Sox and win the 2013 World Series!
Thanks for sharing Katie! Hope Shamus continues to bring the team luck. So if you find a garden gnome in need of a makeover you have some true inspiration now!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

You have been BOOed: Halloween BOO Baskets

Have I mentioned how much we just love our new neighborhood? All the neighbors are so friendly and social and it has such a community and look out for each other feel.

Well Sunday afternoon we found a Halloween bucket on our front porch filled with a few goodies and a note that said You Have Been BOO-ed! It contained instructions to place a part of the sign on our door stating we had been BOO-ed and how to BOO two other households. This is somewhat similar to a Secret Santa.

So during the weekly grocery store run, I picked up some things for two BOO baskets and printed off two more notes. This is the website with BOO notes and signs and all the instructions to start a Halloween BOO in your neighborhood or workplace.

Here are my two BOO baskets. I filled them with candy, candles and glow in the dark halloween soap. How fun right?! I was at Walmart but the Target dollar spot would be a great place to find items too.

The secretive part makes it more fun as I am wondering who left us our BOO Basket and those we gave ours to are probably wondering the same thing! It spread really really fast... we really had to look hard to see which houses didn't have a We've been BOOed sign already. Now when I drive through the neighborhood nearly every house has a sign so everyone really got into the Halloween spirit and the gift giving!

It's just another thing I'm thankful for that we ended up living in such a great area. Hope you get BOO-ed this Halloween!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Europe Trip Day 14: Prague

June 7th was our last real day in Prague since the next day was spent on a plane home. We had several things on our list to do but not too many so that we could really enjoy our last day and the nice weather (yay again!).

Our first stop that morning was the Havelske Market, formed in 1232. It had produce and crafts and such but wasn't as big or as good as the market in Munich or Vienna.

We bought a marionette doll for our niece Abby. I wanted to find one with brown hair like hers but they didn't have one but she still really liked it.

Next we walked over to St. Wenceslas square. This area has a lot of businesses and a lot of people were out and about. And had stately statues.

We wanted to head over to the other side of town and had a little adventure on the underground metro. Not sure why (maybe due to the flooding) it kept skipping the stop we needed. We thought we missed it the first time so we got back on the other way and it went by it again... frustrating... and we had to go back again and just get off at a stop past the one we needed and consult a map.

But we made it. Yes the Lennon Wall, as in John Lennon, has been filled with Lennon inspired graffiti since the 1980's. It continually undergoes change as people paint over it with new sayings and art. There was even someone painting something while we were there. When first created it had a huge painting of Lennon's face.

There's nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be...

It is a really fun and colorful sight!

Since it wasn't too far we decided to stop by the other side of the Charles Bridge from where we had seen it before. Sadly it was still closed.

But we can pretend there are no barricades and we were able to take a nice stroll on the bridge right?

All that pretend bridge strolling had us hungry for lunch. Bohemia Bagel, a recommendation in the Rick Steves book happened to be right nearby. It was really delicious and had a pretty big menu.

From there we decided to walk back over to the other side of town instead of take the metro. It was quite a nice day out. We even saw someone in a hot air balloon.

Taking a break by the river.

We headed over to the astronomical clock area since we wanted to do the town hall tour that afternoon. We hung out for a bit by the clock and saw several bride and grooms having photos taken. Imagine getting married in Prague!

It was time for the Old Town hall tour which is a part of the clock and the former city hall. The tour was advertised as getting to see the inner workings of the clock but you don't really see much of that. Our tour guide was quite possibly the worst guide ever. Every other word out of his mouth was "umm" so you had to tune him out or else you would go batty. It was cringe-worthy listening to him so I will say I didn't learn as much as I could have.

These are the intricate stoves we saw all through Europe in old buildings, castles, etc. used for heating rooms.

In the tour they take you underground the clock and town hall which is pretty cool. It had a network of catacombs and chambers hundreds of years old.

The tour was about 45 minutes long. I would say doing this tour is a toss up. If you have time it's neat to see the underground parts and just hope you don't end up with our tour guide.
Naturally after the tour we needed some gelato! Since we liked Angelato so much we went back again :)

We hung out at the apartment for a bit and did some packing up and decided to go to dinner at an Italian restaurant right around the corner from the apartment, Alforno. The food was good - lasagna, risotto, and manicotti but the service was really slow even though it wasn't that busy. The pictures aren't great since Eric's phone doesn't take as good photos as my stolen iphone.

I wanted to go for a walk by the river on our last night so even though Eric was tired he agreed to go with me. It was unreal how high the water was in certain places. Dinner underwater anyone?

Castle on the hill looked so lovely at sunset.

See the power of controlling the focal point on your camera below with the castle through the railing.

Oh Prague, you are so pretty and had such wonderful weather for us! Thank you!

The next morning we headed to the airport for our flights back to the US. Eric and I flew from Prague with a stop in Munich on our way back to Charlotte. We watched a bunch on movies and ate pretty good food and drinks on Lufthansa - really impressed with that airline. The German flight attendant that brought us our afternoon "snack" thought it was amusing that calzone was pronounced basically the same way in English. I never considered a calzone a snack but that was one yummy snack. I will say flying back on a Saturday was great since we had Sunday to get better adjusted to the time zone and do errands and things after being away for two weeks prior to having to jump right back into work... a lesson learned from our Italy trip when we flew back on a Sunday.

This brings me to the end of our 2013 Europe Adventure. It is bittersweet as the end of most vacations is. You'd love to stay on vacation for a longer time exploring cities and fun sights (and not have to go to work) but on the other hand your own bed and free bathrooms and water sound pretty sweet!

Thanks for reading along and reliving our travel adventures! If you have any questions about our trip, feel free to ask.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

What I Wore

Another outfit from my  1 Piece Many Ways: Blue Blazer post. I actually just wore this outfit again to work last week on Monday but with different shoes (nude closed-toe wedges). Sometimes I like to dress really colorful and happy on Mondays to brighten the mood of the weekend being over.

Thinking I will probably put the yellow skirt back in the closet until the spring now that is officially is (and feels like) fall unless I can find a way to incorporate it into a layered winter look somehow.... hmmm. I do love the yellow skirt. For those people that say they can't wear yellow then try wearing yellow as a bottom instead of a top!

Also these are seriously some of the most versatile earrings and they feel so light when I wear them. So glad I bought them.

Blue blazer (it is purple-ish blue rather than cobalt): LOFT outlet recently
White sleeveless top: LOFT outlet, they have these every spring/summer
Yellow skirt: LOFT outlet
Sandals: Marshalls - Bandolino
Gold Filigree Earrings: The Limited
Gold Necklace: Towne and Reese

Apparently I like the LOFT outlet ;)

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Linking up with: What I Wore Wednesday

Monday, October 7, 2013

Shades of Gray Paint

Gray paint is all the rage so of course I wanted it to be the neutral in our new home. Plus we did beige in our last home so it was time for something different even though this new house was builder beige everywhere. I like to go with a neutral in big open areas like family room/kitchen so I can do bold pops of color for accents but then later I can always change up the accent colors.

We had 3 days to decide the paint color we were going to use since we hired someone to paint the entryway, family room, kitchen and stairwell. Why didn't we DIY it like we usually do? Well we wanted to get it done before the movers moved our stuff in (we just didn't have that kind of time) since these were going to be the most lived in areas and it would be a pain to move furniture later AND we would have had to hire someone to do the stairwell anyway since it was too tall to adequately reach on a ladder (sounds like an accident waiting to happen). So hence the 3 days...

We started off with 41 shades of gray on paint chips. YES 41 shades. That probably sounds like overkill but there are a ton of gray paint shades out there... and we were just using mainly Sherwin Williams and also some Benjamin Moore. And these were just the light gray shades. I had already weeded through the paint chips and didn't even number anything on the too white side or the too dark side to bring us to a big whopping 41.

We taped them all up on a main wall in our family room on a Friday afternoon. Ones that we didn't like came down and the rest were then taped up on a wall in the stairwell to repeat the process looking at them on a different wall.

See gray is a hard color. Much harder than beige in my opinion. It can have undertones of blue, purple, green, or beige. I really wanted a true light gray so no undertones. And Eric wanted whatever I wanted :)  Of course paint will also look completely different under different light or during different times of day.

So we left and came back that night because you want to like your wall color at night too when there is no natural light right? Again we looked at colors on different wall and narrowed it down some more. 

We did the same thing the next morning and had it narrowed down to about 10 shades. Then we picked our favorite 5 and bought the samples. I really loved two of the shades, SW Passive and SW Gray Screen and I was sure one of those was going to be the winner. All 5 were Sherwin Williams colors. We mostly had SW since our painter said that is the brand he highly recommended and they can do it in the No VOC option. We had used SW paint in our first house for a few things and really liked it.

At the house we painted the 5 samples on 3 different walls - family room, stairwell and kitchen and let it fully dry before judging. Of course paint on the walls will look different than paint on the paint chips but gray proved to be even trickier than colors we worked with before. The two colors I was so sure of I didn't really love. Passive had a greenish bluish undertone and Gray Screen definitely had a blue undertone. Knitting Needles and Light French Gray were too dark for what I was hoping for. On The Rocks seemed to be the best of the 5 choices.

But I wasn't loving the way On The Rocks looked on the kitchen wall. It seemed too white there and I didn't want it to just blend in with the cabinets. We came back different time of day that Saturday to look at them too.

I told Eric I really wanted a gray that I just loved and that I saw on the wall and I knew that it was it and I just wasn't feeling that. He thought I was a little nuts for needing to fall in love with a shade of gray. So Sunday morning after more staring and discussing, I convinced begged Eric to allow us to pick two more samples. We chose Tinsmith and Front Porch, both SW.

And low and behold I loved Front Porch! It was the one! On all the walls and during different times of day. Super glad went for two more and didn't just settle. Eric was super glad he wasn't going to have to put up any more samples.

The painters came a couple days later and did in a few hours what would have taken us an entire weekend plus extra time for hiring someone for the stairwell. Well worth it in our situation, although not to worry I'm sure we will be DIY painting most of the rest of the house.

These gray paint shades could look completely different in your home but we were really happy with Sherwin Williams Front Porch and highly recommend it for a great light gray shade with no undertones. They recommended a flat sheen as it is the least glossy and hides wall imperfections the best and cleanable (for dirt marks or fingerprints, just not scrubbable for bigger messes) contrary to what I thought. With flat paint most of the time you only need one good coat instead of two with other sheens. The painters also said it is what they use in over 75% of houses they paint, which I found surprising.I think in our first house we used eggshell or satin because we didn't know any better. Now we will continue using flat paint in almost all our rooms.

Good luck in picking out your perfect shade of gray, I'm glad I found mine!

Would love for you to follow along!

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