Monthly Archives: August 2010

A bit more of our trip…

Here is my favorite picture from our trip to “the great state of Michigan,” as my husband would say!!!

We stayed with some friends at their parents house and they own about 60 acres. The end result of that is that we always end up going on a tractor ride or two – the picture below was taken as we took off on the first trip, right at sunset. How pretty!

First tractor ride of the evening. Sunset!

I will also say that it was SO nice to not get eaten alive by mosquito’s while we were there. They are so bad down here that when I even step outside I have at least three trying to eat me alive before a minute has gone by, and I only got bitten once the whole time we were outside (which was all night, in case you were wondering!)

Hope you all had good weekends!

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Epic trip…

John and I just got back from a brief trip to his hometown in Michigan. We took Friday off work so that we could head out of town on Thursday night, spend the night in Charleston, West Virginia, and then finish our drive up on Friday night.

We packed up the u-haul on Friday evening, partied a little with some of his highschool friends and then headed back home on Saturday – stopping again in Charleston, WV.

Who would have thought we’d make a trip to MI and be in the state less than 24 hours?!

Just wanted to let you know where I’ve been! I’ll post pictures, maybe later tonight or tomorrow.

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Okra. Fresh from the garden…

Well, not our garden – our neighbors. I wouldn’t let John plant one this spring because we were just moving into the house and had so many things on our to-do list. I didn’t figure it would be smart to tear up the yard and spend our time tending to a garden when we had about a million other things to do. I maintain that I was correct in this decision. John would tell you otherwise.

But that’s not the point. The point is that our neighbors have a garden, which is like having one of our own, but without the work because they always have too much of whatever is becoming ripe and share with us. This week it was okra  (and a few tomatoes and some cucumbers).

I tried my hand at cooking it for the first time on Sunday evening (maybe??) and, let’s just say, it wasn’t so good. We ended up tossing all but about 3 bites of it.

Tonight I did a little online hunting for a recipe that used only ingredients we had in the house and stumbled upon this Oven Fried Okra recipe from Burp! Recipes (haha) and decided it was the winner even though I didn’t have a few of the ingredients. I stopped at the store on the way home to pick up tomatoes (for salad) and some cornmeal. The store I stopped at didn’t have cornmeal and in a moment of genius decided that corn muffin mix was probably the same thing – that is until I went home and read the ingredient list and realized it had things like ‘baking soda’ in it… I made the executive decision to skip this in the recipe (since I didn’t plan on following it closely anyway) and make the muffins on their own! Yum.

Oven Fried Okra (adapted from Burp! Recipes)

1/2 (ish) all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 lb (ish) fresh okra, cleaned and chopped into 1/2 inch rounds
1 egg whites, beaten
olive oil spray
dipping sauce of choice

Preheat oven to 450ºF
Mix flour, spices, salt and pepper in a gallon-sized plastic bag and set aside. Spray a baking sheet with olive oil spray.

Dip okra into beaten egg white, then place in bag of flour mixture. Shake to coat, and arrange on baking sheet. Coat with olive oil spray.

Place baking sheet on the center rack of the oven and bake for 7 minutes. Flip the okra and continue baking for about 5 minutes (or until tender and golden brown.)

Serve hot. These are good plain or with your choice of dipping sauce.

Enjoy! I think if the opportunity arises (maybe at my parents house) in the future, I’ll try to make these again. They were really good!

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Weekend fun…

This weekend was so much fun.

Friday I came home from work early to accept our furniture delivery from Furnitureland South. They were delivering two of the three pieces we ordered; both for our formal living room.

This isn’t our final layout, obviously, but I wanted to share the pieces with you! We’re really happy with both of them and now I have the main pieces so I can start accessorizing! You should know that Saturday night I caught our cat scratching on the corner of the couch AND this morning I came downstairs and she had thrown up on the sofa – THANKS CAT, NOT.

Friday evening we entertained in the house for the first time. We had about 1o people from my husbands work over to the house and had a blast.

Saturday and Sunday we lounged around, cleaned up and ran some errands. I also got ambitious and decided I was going to spray paint a pair of lamps that we already owned (you can kind of see one of the lamps on the table in the picture above), so while we were out at the store we picked up primer and paint.

Our cast of characters: matching lamps (from goodwill for $3 each), spray primer, spray paint, damp cloth for wiping away dust, drop cloth and Reynolds wrap.

First I changed into clothes that I hate and took off all my jewelry – I’m a messy painter, what can I say. Then I wiped down the lamps to be sure that they weren’t dusty. At this point you may be wondering what they Reynolds wrap is for…

Duh – to wrap the parts of the lamp that you need to keep safe, like the top part (is there a name for that?? the socket??) and the cord.

Then I started spraying…

Coat one of primer. Note: I introduced a box into the cast of characters as a pseudo wind protector, but it didn’t work very well.

Coat two of primer. It was at this point I decided I would start with the color, what can I say, I’m impatient.

After about two coats of Valspar Porcelain spray paint, this is what we had. After letting everything dry overnight (and while I was at work today) I looked the lamps over really well and think I’ll go do a third coat on them, but not tonight! Next up is finding the perfect set of shades for them!

Also, I think I’m becoming addicted to spray painting. Have you spray painted anything recently? Share!

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Midweek trip to Ikea!

Wednesday, Claire, my partner in crime at work, and I decided to head to Ikea after work in search of some goodies to updated our casa’s.

John and I are having some people over on Friday night (my motivation) and we needed some tables for our back porch so that we can entertain outdoors and actually have a place to set a drink or plate down!

When we bought the house the patio looked like this…

When we moved in none of the furniture was there (unfortunately – we sure would have loved a freebie) but they did leave the rug. We gladly would have kept the rug too but upon closer examination we realized how disgusting it was. Years of pollen, dust, moisture – I’ll stop there – had definitely taken its toll on the rug. When we removed the rug it practically disintegrated in our hands, ew.

A random evening trip to Home Depot on one of the evenings our house was being painted led us to our new rug. We were just browsing around and stumbled across a remnant of indoor/outdoor carpet that was the perfect neutral color, subtle pattern and just the size we were looking for. To top it all off, because it was a remnant, it was super affordable!

You may not be able to tell, but trust me, it’s much cleaner!

So, then the search began for affordable patio furniture. “Affordable” and “Patio Furniture” are two words that really don’t go in the same sentence. Trust me. I am the queen of finding things online/in stores, and I found NOTHING that was reasonably priced and didn’t feel like it would crash to the ground if I sat on it. After a significant amount of time with no furniture our first (last-minute) overnight house guest made his appearance, it was this occasion that demanded we find a quick solution. While I ran to the grocery store, John went to Lowe’s to grab four chairs that we had seen that weren’t quite as inexpensive as we’d have liked, but were definitely the best we’d seen for their price. At $20 each, we are STILL thrilled with them.

So now, combined with our LACK purchases from Ikea (totalling $40), we have this…

Yay for seating and a place to rest a book/drink/plate!

As you may remember today is the day that we’re getting our formal room furniture delivered. We’re also having some people over tonight, hopefully I’ll have a few more pictures for you later this weekend!

Have you done anything super creative in the world of outdoor living spaces recently? Please share! I love being outside, and the idea of a wonderfully cozy and party perfect outdoor room, but it just feels like everything ‘outdoor space’ related is SO expensive at the stores!

Happy Friday!

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You should know…

You should know that Furnitureland South is going to be making a lovely delivery on Friday between 2pm and 6pm to drop of two of our three new pieces of furniture. The even better news (while I wish it was all three pieces) is that these two pieces are for the formal living room! YAY!

Sneak peek…

I am so excited!

You should also know (get prepared, this is equally exciting) that we just started a lawn care program with Scotts – so SOMEDAY soon we will have delightfully lush grass on our almost acre instead of the grassy/weedy/red clay spotted lawn that we have now. Told you it was exciting!

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Yardwork and Bacon Caprese Burgers!

It was another relatively overcast day in Charlotte today and the weatherman was calling for rain in the early afternoon. John jumped out of bed today and got right outside so that he could mow the lawn and get started on some other outdoor work before the rain moved in.

What might the ‘other outdoor work’ be, you ask? More chainsawing branches off trees, of course! These needed to come down as they were encroaching on our driveway space – they were also dropping a bunch of sweet gum balls onto the driveway and blocking the landscaping below from getting any sun.

When we got these limbs down I noticed these cute little baby leaves… Don’t they have great color!

After we were finished dragging all the limbs down to the road and arranged it in nice piles for the garbage crews we lounged around the house for a while and got cleaned up. We checked out a creepy little carpet remnant store and then went to Lowes Home Improvement to pick up a few things for the yard. It was at this point, about 5pm, that John was very upset he woke up early this morning to mow because it still hadn’t rained.

Ok. Now to the important stuff. Dinner. The highlight of my day!

I saw this recipe for Baby Bacon Caprese Burgers over on Food’o Del Mundo today while randomly browsing around online (looking for ideas for dinner.) I had to make a trip to the grocery store anyway so the hubby and I decided we’d try this. And can I just say, we are SO glad we did. We made a few adjustments to make these more 2-person-dinner appropriate and they were phenomenal. I only had a chance to snap one quick picture before we gobbled them up (you should click over to their website via the links above for a real picture!) I think we’re going to have them again tomorrow for dinner, so maybe I’ll get a better picture for you!

Bacon Caprese Burgers (Recipe source Food’o Del Mundo)

Ingredients:

1 1/2 strips bacon, roughly chopped

1/2 lb. ground beef

2 slices fresh mozzarella

fresh basil leaves

1 tomato, sliced

Mayo or Dijon mustard

2 hamburger buns

salt and pepper

Directions:

Cook the bacon in a fry pan until crisp, this is important because if the bacon isn’t crisp it will just get soggy in the burger. Drain the bacon bits on paper towels and allow to cool. Mix the ground beef and cooked bacon in a bowl until the bacon is completely incorporated into the meat.

Make 2 patties out of the beef/bacon mixture and season both sides with salt and pepper.

Grill the burgers until they’re cooked to your preference. A few minutes on each side is what we like. When they’re almost done put a slice of mozzarella on each and let them sit on the grill for about 30 more seconds (just enough to let the cheese get warm.) Place a burger on each bun and layer with basil leaves and tomatoes. Spread a small dollop of mayo on the inside part of each top bun and enjoy!

You should also know that I learned a nifty trick for storing basil today. Because who wants to spend $2.50 on basil, use 6 leaves and have the rest go bad? Not me. If you trim the ends of the basil’s stems, place them into the cup of water and place the cup in a spot that doesn’t get direct sunlight. This should prolong the life of the herb at least a few days – I’ll let you know if it fails miserably!

Now for some Stephanie/John time and a cocktail (or three). Happy Saturday!

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