Sunday, February 23, 2014

Spring is Upon Us

Well, it didn't look like it was coming for a while, and it might not stick around for long, but for today Spring has sprung in the Carolinas. Obviously that has me dreaming of working on some outdoor spaces.

Something other than weeding for once.

Yes, I'm starting to dream of patio furniture, container plants, and grilling out. It really struck home when Pat and Boone were Chuck-ing-It and I was sitting inside, on a barstool, watching through a window.

 Here's some thoughts:

1     2     3     4     5     6
So far, we're leaning towards four modular chairs with deep cushions for maximum comfort and multiple arrangement options. We definitely want to be able to accommodate at least four people in this earliest iteration so we have space for friends to enjoy our yard, too.

It's long been the plan to fence in our backyard this spring, leading to potential addition of (adorable) #5. Until that happens, the fence will allow Boone's BFFs Layla and Boomer to come over for playdates. Honestly, the fence has been on the books for months, first being postponed while we awaited HOA approval and now it's tabled while we wait for our developers to fix a sinkhole situation.

Future backyard improvements will include a patio with a dining area (and at least four more seats). The patio will likely be a professional job because it requires a retaining wall and some drainage issues being resolved. And another HOA approval. Once we get to that point, I want to string lights over the future patio area to add a little ambiance. Eventually, the grill will go on the patio, but we're not waiting on a patio to get a grill, so we need to come up with a makeshift space.

It's a long expensive list, but I'm so excited about adding a comfortable outdoor space to relax and entertain in.

I'm officially motivated.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Snow Day! (Take 4)

The topic of today's Happy Snow Day post is another super scientific recipe. The kind where if you don't add the ingredients in the correct order, the whole thing will literally explode in your face, a la Seamus Finnigan.

It's the perfect Snow Day Chili.

Chili might be a bit of a stretch: it hits somewhere between a true chili, a vegetable soup, and a meaty stew. No matter where it falls on the chili-soup-stew spectrum, it's good.

The magic of this recipe is you can use whatever you have in your pantry and the longer you cook it the better it gets. For this batch, I used:
  •  Light Red Kidney Beans (drained, not rinsed)
  • Diced Tomatoes (drained, not rinsed)
  • Green Beans (drained, not rinsed)
  • Corn (drained, not rinsed)
  • 1 lb Ground Beef (browned and drained)
  • 1 lb Turkey Sausage (browned and drained)
  • Brown Rice (uncooked)
I typically use 6-8 cans of beans and veggies, so mix and match at will. Every now and then I'll throw in some Manwich for fun. Season to taste (I like chili powder, oregano, and salt & pepper). Like I said, you can't go wrong.

Just throw it all in to the crockpot. Since the only thing that needs to cook is the rice, the whole thing is edible in about an hour on high, but it gets really good after 6+ hours on low. Usually, I'll cook it on high for about 2 hours to get it piping hot, dish out a serving, and let the leftovers cook for another 2 hours or so on low. Crock Pot 101 is 1 hour on high = 2 hours on low, so however the math works for you. This truly can't be overcooked.

It might not look like a lot, but you'll be thanking me when you're snowed in without a trip to the grocery store. Prepare to be warmed to your core.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Living Room Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes!

Alternate Title: Happy Snow Day! (Take 3)

Alternate Alternate Title: Cabin Fever Has Hit

As promised, it's about time to share all about the recent changes our living room has undergone. And as promised, we went dark. For those of you following me on Instagram, this probably won't be a shock. If you don't follow me on Instagram, you're missing out on oodles of Boone pics. Change that here.

Back to the living room.

Ooooh. Aaaah.

See how it looks like there's nothing through the windows. That's because everything is still white, hope that explains why some of these are overexposed.

And now a little before and after of the change that set into motion all the other changes:



Crazy how I thought I loved the living room color before, but only because I'd never seen it like this. It's like a 90s teen movie in here: the girl next-door with untapped potential dyes her hair, puts on some makeup, and HOT DAMN!

It just feels right.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Happy Snow Day! (Take 2)

Well, we're snowed out again. I had planned on sharing the changes in our living room (yes, they're already almost two weeks past due), but we're going to have some fun and keep things snow-centric.

This is the first time ever Pat and I have both been off work for a snow day, so we decided to go big while we stay home: SNOW CREAM!!! 

We were lucky to have enough snow accumulate in just over an hour.

For those of you who have never made your own, this is a recipe requiring a high degree of accuracy. Certainly a recipe that should only be attempted by master chefs. This is gonna be tricky so try to keep up.

Basically, you need four things:

  • 1 large mixing bowl of snow (you may want to have an extra bowl just in case you melt too much)
  • Milk (I use one 12oz. can evaporated, already chilled)
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1 TSP Vanilla Extract
Mix together the milk, sugar, and vanilla.

Mix into snow.

Keep mixing until it's ice-cream ish. If you need to, add milk (normal cow's milk will work) until it's the right consistency. Yes, it looks like Mashed Po-Katies in this pic. I promise it's not.

And serve.

That's it.

What might make snow cream so magical is never knowing when you'll be able to have it again; it could be tomorrow or it might be years. So enjoy it.

But quickly, before it melts.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Happy Snow Day!

Is everyone out there enjoying this cold, dreary day? Cause I am!

For the second time in two weeks, the South is getting pounded with snow. Or to you Yankees, a dusting. Either way, schools are out and bread and milk are no where to be found.

While the snow has just started, we've already got more on the ground than you need to shut down Atlanta and we are still expecting snowy weather for the next two days; here's looking at you, 4-6 inches! Or to you Yankees, a dusting.

Either way: stay safe, bundle up, and Happy Snow Day!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Our Not-So-Muddy Mudroom

Maybe "landing zone" is a better name for this area, since it's right in the middle of our house. If we come in muddy, we'll definitely be tracking a lot of dirt in before we make it to this area.

Originally, I wanted to get a hall tree, like this one:

While that may happen eventually, it's way more of a financial commitment that we can handle after TV-gate 2014. Now we're going for something a little closer to this:

Between that picture and finding a helluva deal on the bench -- (70% off!!!) plus it had a bum leg (another 25% discount) so we ended up snagging it for $26-- I decided to reconsider my inspiration for the foreseeable future. As far as the bench's bum leg goes, all we had to do was tighten a few screws and it was back in working order. I would love to add a faux wood wall like that or maybe some board and batten.

Like most parts of our house, this area still has a long journey ahead of it to make it functional for the long-term. However, the addition of something is doing a great deal to make the middle of the house feel a little less empty. Eventually, we'll add a basket for shoes and hooks for Boone-supplies and coats.

You may remember, getting this "room" established was one of the steps needed before Boone gets a new room, so we're getting closer...

Now, can you all help me and Pato settle a debate? I think the mail holder should be hung lower, but Pat loves that the top of it is even with the clock. I think that leaves to much negative space below. Please share your thoughts in the comments below.