Sunday, March 24, 2013

{House}: Exterior Renovation Plans.

One of our house goals since we moved in was to make over the front of our house. I affectionally tell people that our house is a pre-teen wearing braces. I've recently learned that our house is a "post-war cottage early ranch" style house with a hipped roof. The front of the house is rancher in style and doesn't exactly blend in to our street of bungalows here in Midtown Memphis.

I've been blogging off and on about our journey to renovate the exterior of the house (follow it here). We started off with this...

Our first step was to remove the giant boxwoods that had been well-maintained by the previous owner but botched by us when we tried to trim them. We actually put them for free on Craig's List and the couple that came to get them took them out for us. We also have been treating the yard because the weeds were crazy (the house next door is a rental so there are weeds all in the yard that spread over here).

So at Phase One, things were looking a little better there for a bit. We had new azaleas, green grass...

But then the front of our porch started falling apart. In addition, we had wanted to get rid of the door and window in favor of something more historic looking. In fact, our big window was single-paneled and old so it was drafty and at risk of breaking from the dogs jumping up.

So for Phase Two, we got a new window and door, found a fun retro glider, and felt a little better about the exterior...

And that is where we left off. So now we're to Phase Three. We have asked our contractor to give us an estimate for the porch repairs and boxing in the columns/changing the railing. His idea was to take the decorative scroll out of the railing (cut it out) and keep it black to match our gate. So we would have white posts and black rails, sort of like this porch inspiration I saved on my computer back in the day from the site Urban Nest:

In addition, I'm toying with the idea of getting him to add window boxes under our left windows. I'm thinking they would be the bright yellow of the glider but look like these from HGTV's website:

I think it would be fun to have a pop of yellow on that side of the house to balance the glider and our bushes are still so low since they are only two years old so it would fill in the space.

We're excited to be making forward progress on the exterior of the house. It may be a slow crawl, but it is progress!

In removing wrought iron,

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Saturday, March 23, 2013

{Make this}: Chicken Nachos

Jake and I love getting nachos to share when we go out to eat. A few years ago we started making our own chicken nachos. Since then we have perfected the art of the nacho. It is one of our favorite weekend meals - not too healthy but a better option than going out to eat.

To make the nachos you can follow this general guideline. You can add/subtract things to your liking.

You'll need:

- 1 boneless/skinless chicken breast, cooked and shredded
- tortilla chips
- shredded lettuce
- ROTEL tomatoes (drained)
- black beans (rinsed and drained)
- white cheese dip
- shredded cheese
- fresh cilantro, chopped
- fresh lime juice

You'll do:
1) Preheat oven to 425.

2) Spread chips on a cookie sheet in an even layer.

3) Top with chicken, beans, tomatoes, lettuce, and cheese (in that order)

4) Bake for about 10 minutes (or until cheese is melted)

5) Add cilantro and lime

6) Serve!

I made two Vine videos to demonstrate... this is my first time using Vine so it is a test.

Enjoy! Makes enough for 2-4 people.

In chips and cheese dip,
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Thursday, March 21, 2013

{Make this}: Flour Tortilla Pizzas.

When I was at the beach over spring break, our host made these pizzas and I knew as soon as I ate one that I'd have to try the recipe out for myself. So the other night when we were making a last-minute meal, I suggested the flour tortilla pizzas.

Inspired by my friend's dad at the beach, here's our version....

You'll need:

2 large flour tortillas
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast - cooked & shredded
1 can diced tomatoes, drained (we used the garlic and herb kind)
shredded mozzarella cheese
minced fresh garlic
handful of spinach
Cavender's greek seasoning
olive oil

You'll do:
1) Pre-heat your oven to 350 and cook your chicken

2) On a greased cookie sheet, build your pizzas. Take your tortillas and brush them with olive oil. Put tomatoes on as a thin layer (make sure the juice has been drained). Add chicken, spinach, garlic, and cheese. Shake greek seasoning on top.

3) Cook for 10-15 minutes (until tortillas are crispy and cheese is melted)

Serve! We used a pizza cutter to make 4 slices on each pizza and it fed the two of us quite well. You could take this idea and run with it - maybe a party where each person has their own toppings?

In pizza,
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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

{Life}: Date Night.

A few weekends ago we decided to have a night in and do a date night around the house.

After a beautiful day spent outside, we headed over to gather our supplies for the dinner.

The Memphis Greenline

Blooming trees in our neighborhood

We stopped at our favorite, Muddy's Bake Shop, to get cupcakes for after our date night dinner. I got a Frankly Scarlett and Jake got the Cookies 'N Cream.

Then we headed over to Summer Avenue to go to Charlie's Meat Market. If you live in Memphis and you haven't gotten your meat at Charlie's, you're missing out. We get their filets - they are delicious and well priced.

Once home we did the civilized thing and started with a cheese and wine course.

Havarti and Cheddar. #yum

Then Jake fired up the grill while I made the potatoes. Jake got his new grill for Christmas (thanks parentals) and he had been itching to use it.

We made smashed potatoes (you take new potatoes, put them on an oiled cookie sheet, smush them, brush with olive oil, and top with rosemary, salt, and pepper). We used red potatoes instead of new potatoes and they were fine but a bit too much potato for me - I'd stick to new potatoes.

You can see below that the potato smushes on top but the bottom stays in tact so they make little potato  bunches for people's plate. We also had steamed green beans.

It was very good - someone was jealous:

After dinner we took our cupcakes and wine outside to the patio where we had our second fire of the year. We love our fire pit and chairs!

I'm all about a date night, especially one spent intentionally together, doing what we love - cooking, eating cupcakes, and sitting by the fire. I'm one lucky girl.

In marriage and cupcakes,

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Monday, March 18, 2013

{Travel}: Spring Break 2013.

One of the perks of my job is to be a big kid but still have a spring break. And oh do I love it! This year I got invited to take part in a beach trip with a sweet family that has come back into my life after several years. Life is funny like that. We went down to Florida to a wonderfully secluded beach and had the most relaxing time. A trip that involves sleeping in, eating good food, walks on the beach, nails at the Wal-Mart, and lots of laughs is my kind of break.

And now, get ready for the pictures...

Our first day was Sunday - we started the drive at 6:30AM and made it in time to have some sunlight on the beach.

We took a short walk on the beach. I loved how there were lots of trees right off the beach - so natural and non-commercial. You can see in the picture below that there also were these little natural streams that fed into the ocean. The streams were orange from the tanins and were different every day as they shaped and reshaped the sand.

Then we went over to another beach to look at the comet through a telescope and saw this beautiful sunset in the process:

The next morning was overcast and windy. We took a 4 mile walk on the beach and then sat out at the surf enjoying ourself. I didn't wear sunscreen this day since it was overcast... I should have known better. My face was bright red for a few days after.

The next day we went to a fun nature park called Wakulla Springs, which is the largest and deepest freshwater spring in the world.

We took a boat tour to look at their wildlife. We saw all sorts of birds, turtles, and gators.

{Gators on the log to the left in this next picture}
{Gator in the marsh in this next picture}:

Our boat guide was a sweet old Southern man and we learned a lot!

After our Wakulla Springs boat tour, we had the second of my new food experiences for the day at their restaurant in the hotel. The first was boiled peanuts from a roadside stand (yum!) and this time it was a "ginger yip," which was a milkshake with ginger ale and was ridiculously delicious.

On the way home we stopped at Alligator Point, which is a beach down the road from where we were. Alligator Point is known for their shells so we walked the beach.

When we got back to our house, we headed down to our beach for some time with low tide. At low tide you could walk out on the sand bars pretty far and everything was calm and serene.

We also saw some pretty sky colors that night.

We looked one way and it was yellow and orange. The other way was pink and purple:

Our last full day was fabulous - it was the best beach weather we had all week. One thing I loved about the trip was that the family's dogs came down to the beach with us. Here's Annie, who despite being 16 years old ran like a young pup up and down the beach, so happy.

Here is the path we took each day down to the beach. See all the natural grass and trees?

This day we came out at low tide. You can see how there isn't barely anyone on the beach. So calm.

This is the beach looking back from out on the sand bars. You can see the houses all lined up.

We walked out to the pier, seeing lots of jelly fish floating around out there.

After that we walked down to this natural area with fossils and Native American pottery relics.

 We also saw a lot of shells and wildlife, including this starfish:

The next day was time to hit the road. All in all, a wonderfully relaxing vacation!

In sand and surf,
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