Friday, August 31, 2012

{Make this}: Three ingredient cooking - Pesto Couscous Chicken.

It's no secret that I love a quick, easy meal. Sometimes I blog about real recipes here but this, my friends, is not a real recipe. But it is a great go-to for a healthy, quick, cheap, easy dinner.

Ever since I went to the Silly Goose in Nashville, I've been obsessed with attempting their pesto couscous. I finally got a chance to and think it was a pretty good match. To make it into a meal, I decided to add in shredded chicken and side it with broccoli. Turned out great!

In case you want to make the pesto couscous chicken yourself, here's what you need:

-Rotisserie chicken (shredded)
- couscous (boxed, the roasted garlic kind is what I used)
- jarred pesto (we used Butoni kind)

Shred your chicken while preparing your couscous by the box directions. When complete, stir in chicken and pesto, serve with side of your choice (we steamed broccoli).

You should make this! Enjoy!
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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

{House Tour}: Dining Room, Updated.

One of my "house goals" for this year was to change out the generic dining room art from IKEA into something fun.  Little did I know that only 8 months later, I'd be revamping the art situation in the entire room.

The dining room has been once place where minor changes have happened over the past three years. Here's a progression of decor:

Day One: How excited was I to walk into this? I wish I had taken more pictures but I'm glad I remembered to take what I did. Everything was white. The carpet was in the living room and dining room. That chandelier was up that made everything darker. There were no can lights in the living room.

Christmas, 2009: We somehow thought it was a great idea to host a Christmas party less than two months after moving in. I can say it was great motivation for unpacking and we couldn't have done it without our parents. The carpet was still in but walls were painted, dining room fixture was changed (still dark as a cave, no can lights yet in the living room), and apparently I hadn't figured out how to adjust the color saturation on these photos because I can promise you this isn't an accurate read on the color. We also tried stuffing too much furniture in this space that really serves as a pass through as well as dining room.

Spring 2010: My brother helped us take up the carpet and my friend Eric came to help install shoe moulding. Wall color is more accurate, third door is still present (the door on the left that goes to the guest room), and we were still using the leaf on the dining table. This dining room is really fine except to me it isn't coordinated and it is cluttered. But better.

May 2011: Getting much better at accurately representing the color of the walls. Third door is gone, helping traffic flow and adding wall space. Downsized to the round table except when guests are over in the interest of space.

January 2012: Same details as before but this shot shows the IKEA artwork that I set a goal to move past this year. I loved it but it was time for some personality and individuality.

May 2012: I was so excited to order the etsy print of a whimsy San Francisco and create map art, documented here, but the scale of the room and the art was still bothering me. I also felt like the room lacked anchoring colors and was a little too circus-y for even me.

So here's where we are currently. Thanks to my parents' birthday gift to me, the sideboard from the kitchen moved into the dining room. In addition, I made a pinterest-inspired piece of photo art that I feel has a much better weight for that wall to hang above the sideboard.

Having moved the two red tin tiles that were there originally, I got my wheels churning on an idea to balance out the other side, which led me to this idea:

The photo canvases were from our photo shoot from Christmas two years ago with Amy Dale and had been in the den hanging. We also moved the tree paintings (an etsy find, by Erin's Modern Art) from the kitchen to the dining room since the new hutch went in the kitchen. I love them in the dining room because more people see them.

 So here's where we stand now. Not perfect but I feel much better about it. New art, less clutter.

I still have to move the green small table out once I unload all of the glasses from the bottom so ignore it. And also ignore the dogs' pig stuffed toy. If a dog isn't photobombing a picture, their toy is.

So just for reference, here's a before and after:

With each detail that we tweak, I feel more and more like the house represents our personality. Are there things that can be done to the dining room still? Absolutely. And that is what is so fun about this. 

In making a house feel like home,

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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

{Decor}: So hot right now.

Y'all know I love going antique shopping. Whether it is a big Sheffield's trip or popping in the stores by my house, it is just such a de-stresser and fun time.

Well in the past few weeks I've been in a few different antique malls and I've noticed a trend. Really it started getting "hot" last year, as I saw bloggers start to incorporate them into their decor. But this trend has hit the antique malls, making it a for sure thing. So what is this trend? Bar carts!

A bar cart is a small, tiered, open cart (sometimes with wheels, sometimes without) that is usually used to stock your bar. I noticed about 5 in the Summer Avenue Antique Warehouse Mall the other day. Here are three of them.

First, these two were side by side and looking back I totally should have gotten the one on the right:

Here's why - check out this presh bar cart project from Keller Creative:

Read all about how she re-did the cart here.

There was also this great green one that I could totally see being a stand in the kitchen, a nightstand, or a bar cart:

That one was my favorite, I love-love-loved it. But alas, I passed on it.

Inspired, I browsed around Pinterest and started this pin board about bar carts:

If you like any of these bar carts, definitely go check out the board here. You don't have to be on Pinterest to see it.

So I'm noticing that I love metal bar carts and I love pops of color on them. I thought back to the bar cart I saw at IKEA back in July:

I just love this guy. How cute would he be in a dining room with dishes on it or by a bed as a nightstand or in a kid's room? I hear they sell out of things things like hot cakes at IKEA and I can see why.

So next time you're out (at say Sheffields - they had the most precious yellow metal cart) and you see a fun bar cart, do the hip thing and buy it. Everyone else seems to be doing it.

In design trends and pops of color,

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Friday, August 24, 2012

{Go There}: Aldo's Pizza Pies.

For a few years now there has been rumbling of another restaurant opening up under the same owner as our beloved Slider Inn. Finally it was true - Aldo's Pizza Pies opened recently on Main Street here in Memphis. Jake and I went for dinner last weekend and loved it so naturally it's time to share here!

This week has been crazy busy for me (thus the lack of posting for a week) and I've had these pictures ready to go for most of the week. I kept feeling like I was getting kicked in the pants because each Memphis blog I read would post about Aldo's and I just felt like I was losing more and more of my legitimacy. But then I remembered I'm not legitimate. I'm just a girl blogging about her world. And all was right again.

No but really, check out the fab reviews:
Dining with Monkeys goes to Aldo's
Memphis Foodie does Aldo's
Hungry Memphis covers Aldo's

and more.

So back to our dinner. It was delicious. I consider myself to be a pizza connoisseur and therefore was very excited to scout this place out, which had been buzzing with great reviews. In fact, I was really worried about getting a table - thank goodness Jake talked me into going that night. There was a wait but since there were just two of us, we got a table right away.

Aldo's is across the street from another favorite of ours, Local Gastropub. This area of town (Main Street right off Peabody Place) has turned into the happening area and I love it! People were walking up and down the street, eating at the restaurants, going to the bars, and enjoying the pretty night. Aldo's has a patio but it wasn't being used that night - it rained earlier but I'm not sure why they didn't set it back up. You can tell from the picture above that the inside of Aldo's is quite large, especially for a downtown restaurant.

We sat down, looked at our menus, and decided what we wanted. A few weird things - the website listed on the menu doesn't exist. Here's their facebook site: . Also our waitress was very nice but kind of spacey. We ordered the garlic knots and a 12 inch pizza (everyone says get the garlic knots) and we never got our knots. They weren't on our bill and our pizza filled us up so it was fine but sort of strange. Growing pains, I suppose.

I loved the urban chic feel of the restaurant. There is a huge bar in the back with 30 beers on tap. There are lots of long booths for big parties (a good thing given how hard it is to get a table together for a big party it seems) and I especially loved the light fixtures. Not sure if you can tell but the ceilings are very tall and the light fixtures are industrial. It just felt cool.

So after not so long, our pizza came. We got the vodka cream with pepperoni. Words cannot express. Freshly sliced pepperoni. Vodka cream sauce. Perfectly crafted dough. It easily shot to the top of our pizza list. It was the freshest, most tasteful pizza I've had in a long time.

So bottom line. Pizza was amazing. Service was ok. Atmosphere was trendy. I'm hoping they keep up the momentum. We will definitely be back. There are lots of other speciality pizzas worth trying (I hear their bbq pizza uses Tops and has cole slaw) - something for everyone.

You should go there.

Aldo's Pizza Pies
100 South Main
Memphis, TN 38103

(Sidenote: it is funny to me that I wrote the blog post for Slider Inn on August 23rd, 2011. A year and a day later, I am writing one for their sister restaurant.)

In pizza pies and trendy new restaurants,
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Friday, August 17, 2012

{Blogland}: Some blog love...

I started blogging in 2009. I specifically remember when it started because I had gotten really into blogs and never thought about having my own (I'm not fun enough! cute enough! fancy enough!) and actually went my entire engagement and wedding without a blog (wouldn't that have been FUN!?). But one night I was sitting on the couch in our cute little duplex three months after being married and I realized that Jake didn't always want to hear all about my shopping trips, craft ideas, or dream houses. And really, facebook didn't either. And twitter was brand new (you know, since twitter is totally the place these days to post the "I ate cous cous for dinner" posts these days).

So I sat down and started a blog. I had no idea what to title it, didn't expect anyone to read it, and honestly it was a hot mess. My first post was on April 13th, 2009 and it was basically a rambling monologue with a sad excuse for a picture. And then I proceeded to write 9 posts. In the span of two hours. Here are all of my posts from April 2009. I was on a roll.

It is pretty painful to read back through those beginning posts. But it also shows how far I've come (and how far I have to go). Since starting my blog, I've had 135,001 page views. I've written 671 posts. I've been featured on Young House Love for my kitchen on their Reader Re-design (best day EVER!). And mostly I've had fun writing and find it really motivates me to do things in my life so I have stuff to write about.

So when Cameron of The Stimson Chronicles commented on my blog to tell me she had nominated me for a blogger award, I got super excited. Because in three years of blogging I've never gotten one of these fun little awards we bloggers pass around. I know it is basically like getting a sticker on your nametag in 2nd grade, but still! A sticker! On your nametag!

I "met" Cameron through the blog world and have gotten to know her better through instagram. Though we've yet to meet in real life, I feel like I know her through the virtual world and I love keeping up with her busy busy life! We've got a lot in common - we live in Memphis, we craft, we shop (and blog about shopping!). I love how cute, fun, and down to earth her blog is (and her kids are precious!!). I was super honored when she gave me a virtual award!

So apparently procedure is to pass the award on, include seven facts about yourself, and let the other bloggers know they've gotten an award. Yes, it is a bit chain-letter-esque circa 1997 but the good news is this one doesn't say that you HAVE to forward to FIFTEEN people or else you will DROP DEAD in ten minutes. Remember how scary of a concept that was?!

So in the spirit of the chain letter, I'm not going to pass it on... yet. Mostly because I'm not sure who I am going to bequeath this honor to at this time. But I'll give you 7 facts. Just for funsies, they are completely random. Completely.

1) I love my friends and am lucky enough to have known one of them since we were itty babies. Elise Marie Addington is my bffae (best friend forever and ever) and this face sums up our relationship:

2) One time at my old job my room temperature got to 114 and stayed there for three days because the heater in my room broke. Things melted off the walls. If you walked in, it hurt to stand and just be. It was a strange number of days. I didn't stay in the room long during the great heat wave of 2009, thankfully I went elsewhere. I kept this picture of the thermostat as a reminder about a lot of things in life.

3) My parents read to me as a child (as every parent should) and I have fond memories of reading Mercer Mayer (Little Critter) books with my dad. I like my parents a lot.

4) My favorite Muddy's cupcake is a Santa Baby. This proves complicated since they only are available at Christmastime. But they are chocolate with peppermint icing and they are glorious.

(not Christmas so not Santa Baby cupcakes but close enough)

5) I love musical theater. When I was little we would have family sing-alongs in the car. Other families would listen to the radio but not us. If it wasn't Billy Joel, it was Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Annie, Les Mis, or the like. One of my favorite musicals is Wicked. I'm more than obsessed. Here I am dressed like Elpheba for Halloween in 2009.

6) The beach is my happy place. I love the carefree, relaxed atmosphere and could float in the waves all day. 

7) When you were little and people used to ask "what is your favorite food," I would always say cheese and pickles but not together. Well it turns out those are still my favorite foods and I do like them together because I love a good sasuage and cheese tray from Central BBQ and also have been found to assemble this as an afternoon snack around the house - sliced brie, asian vinaigrette, and pickles. Might be a little strange but it sure is good!

And that's all for now, folks! Thanks to Cameron for a trip down memory lane and for a bloggy award!
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Thursday, August 16, 2012

{Go there}: Captain JJ's.

I love buffalo chicken tenders. Love. My particular favorite? Abner's. But Abner's and Zaxby's and the like live in suburbia. And I don't. And I think Midtown is much more of a "local flair" type of place so I don't expect to get either soon (though I have a whole list of chain restaurants I want in Midtown secretly even though I am pro-eat local movement.... Chipotle anyone?)

But I digress. Buffalo tenders. In my family we have a ritual of going to the Sonic by our house probably more often than we should. And across from "our" Sonic opened this mysterious place called Captain JJ's Fish and Chicken. They listed that they had chicken, fish, wings, and chinese food. Since I'm always on the lookout for a local dive type place to call my own, I figured it was worth checking out.

Turns out there are lots of Captain JJ's around town. We checked out the Poplar at Hollywood JJ's but I know there is one on Summer by Waring too.

The Poplar Captain JJ's was clean, sparse, and well guarded (bars on windows is a good luck sign, right?).

You walk up to the counter, order, then go to your seat. I noticed most people were getting their orders to-go. It was Sunday so I was envisioning a large family gathering with some serious catfish (they claim theirs is the best - don't they all?) and fried chicken. I learned that, though the sign advertises Chinese food, they do not serve Chinese food anymore there. Perhaps they realized they needed to concentrate on one genre.

So we ordered. Of course I got the buffalo tenders. The buffalo tender dinner came with fries and then I have this thing about fried okra. I'm obsessed. So I ordered it too. When our food came out I realized we got a little overzealous with the ordering. Mental note - one chicken tender dinner split between the two of us would have been fine!

The okra? So good. Also the buffalo tenders were spot on. Only gripe is that they were hard to cut with the cheap-o plastic fork and no knife. Real silverware would have served me well.

Another thing I loved was that the french fries were skinny (in size not calories). I don't do steak fries and prefer to stay away from the crinkle frie. These were perfection. Only thing that would have made it better? Some zax sauce. I'll suggest it to JJ.

You know you want to go there. Check out a menu. You'll thank me (but your arteries won't).

In buffalo and okra,
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Saturday, August 11, 2012

{Go there}: Easy Way Produce.

Eating well is so hip right now. Everyone's doing it. OK not everyone but it seems like every where I look it is local-grassfed this, organic that. And it is great!

So in the spirit of the movement, if you're a Memphian and you haven't switched to shopping for your veggies at Easy Way, what is taking you so long?! Today's {Go there} is Easy Way Produce. They have seven locations - we go to the one on Cooper in Midtown:

The most recent time we went, we got some of this Tom's Kitchen pimento cheese. They sell it at Miss Cordelia's on the Island too and it is the best pimento cheese ever.

That is one thing I love about Easy Way - they have a lot of local stuff. They also have pickling cucumbers, which is why we were there:

As well as tons and tons of produce:

It isn't just produce, as you can tell with the pimento cheese - there's locally made breads, meats, some basic grocery items like flour, and this awesome local honey:

We bought a week's worth of produce for much less than at Kroger and it stayed fresh much longer. Here are the cucumbers and jalapeno I used to make my latest batch of pickles:

About to go in the fridge...

In shopping the local way at Easy Way,
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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

{Pets}:Harley meets her sister (again!).

 Two weekends ago Harley met her sister at the dog park. Well, we say "met" but technically they've known each other from birth. Harley hadn't seen Maisey since they were 8 weeks old (we got Harley as a rescue puppy from Belly Rubs Basset Rescue) and Maisey lives just a few blocks away so it was about time we got them together.

The park down the street from us just opened a public dog park called Overton Bark. Our usual dog park has no shade, no grass, and lots of fleas. This dog park was really like movin' on up - it even had a doggie water fountain.

So here we were for the big meet up. Harley was so excited to meet Maisey. The last time they were together they looked like this:

Here's Harley (on the right) with Maisey (center) and another sister Sweet Caroline (left):

Maisey's mom actually drove Harley home from Knoxville and here is the last picture until now I have of the two of them:

And of course, just for fun here's Harley meeting the boys. Isn't she SO SMALL!?

So here we were, almost exactly a year after their last picture together. Harley bounded forward to meet Maisey. Maisey, on the other hand, was a little more hesitant.

They sat around chatting for a bit like two old pals:

Before Harley abandoned us all in favor of the big dogs. Maisey preferred to stay by her mom's feet.

But after playing for a while, Harley did come back. Exhausted and slobbery.

It is funny how different Maisey and Harley were. From the same litter of 9 pups, Maisey looks just like her dad and Harley like her mom. Harley is ridiculous, outgoing, and had no manners. Maisey was prim, proper, and reserved. I guess I picked the right pup for me! She's a mess but she's my mess.

We had a great sister visit and made promises to do it again (actually - we're going this weekend with lots of the Memphis basset people!). Everyone needs family in their life, right?

In family of the canine variety,
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