Monday, January 30, 2012

Advance on my allowance, please

I was supposed to be out shopping for a desk, but when I came across this chest at Studio123 and the price was about 1/4 the price I was expecting (and that was before the 20% off sale) -- I lost all self-control & quickly convinced myself that I could set up shop at my dining room table (I thought to myself, who needs a desk?) and swiped my card before I could come back to reality. 

Then I got some anxiety that our family CFO, Josh, would not be pleased.  He actually seems to love the chest ALMOST as much as I do.  I was shocked.  He was actually happy that I spent my allowance mid-way through the previous month.  Weird.  Who is this man masquerading as my husband?

He didn't even really complain about moving the old chest out and the new chest in...

Thankfully, Josh & I both love the piece and will have it in our home for many years to come.  No buyer's remorse this time.

Before and after of the whole room coming soon.

Lamps, table skirt and a few other accessories -- coming with a future allowance! :)


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Weekend Recap and Ahi Tuna Marinade

Friday night we had the perfect low-key evening with Chris, Kathryn & Maeby grilling out at our house.

Saturday we picked up my chest from Studio123 (thanks for your help, Jean & Larry!) and I began my desk "arts and crafts" project.  Pics to come as soon as I get the guest room / future home office back in order!  I am very pleased with how the desk is looking so far (two coats of paint down, one more to go).

Bailey was having a party at her house Sat. night, so Maysie came over and had a cocker sleepover.  How cute are they on that swing?

That evening Josh drug 3 UNC fans to the NCSU v. UVA bball game.  Sadly (?), State lost by one point.  Thanks for coming, Matthews!

Sunday after church we ate brunch with friends at Poole's, so we we headed to our favorite seafood market, Earp's, for a lighter dinner.  We got two tuna steaks and marinated them in Bailey's special recipe.  So delicious and fresh tasting.
1/4 c. soy sauce (I use low sodium)
1/8 c. red wine vinegar
1/8 c. balsamic vinegar
Zest from almost one whole orange
Juice from 1/2 orange
1/2 T. sesame oil
1 T. lime juice (I didn't use fresh, but you could if you have a lime!)
1 T. garlic (I used dried flakes since that's what I had on hand)

I created a reduction by doing the same ingredients as the marinade (minus the zest from the orange), plus 1.5 T. of brown sugar.  I boiled for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently and it reduced to a nice syrupy consistency.  We poured over the cooked fish and it was nice to have a little sauce for the brown rice we served alongside the fish.

Hope you had a wonderful weekend!

So hard to believe I am about to begin my last week at McKinney.



Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Neon Necklace Surpirse = Twinsies

Bailey was killing time at Southpoint last night before a girls' dinner and found this necklace -- she picked up one for herself and was sweet enough to surprise me with one this a.m.!

It combines a lot of things I am loving: pink, NEON, rope, gold and color blocking (well, sort of).  It will be so fun to wear all spring and summer (and to cheer up a dull winter outfit like today).

I don't think she intended for me to put it on at work to make us twinsies, but I did it anyway.

Bay- won't you miss having me at McKinney to harass you?!
Notice how our cream shirts even have the little button and strap to hold the sleeves up. :)

Thank you for being so thoughtful, Bay!


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Hardware Choices & Mercury Glass Obsession

I can tell I haven't done a project in a while...I am obsessing and getting myself hyper.  Now that I have the paint, I started looking for hardware.

All of my choices below are from my go-to hardware websites -- Anthropologie & Van Dykes.

I think I'm going to order the Gold Mercury Glass knobs (#4 in knob photo) from Anthropologie.  I can't seem to get enough of mercury glass lately -- I like the vintage charm.

Any other hardware stores / websites I should check out?


Paint decision

I thrilled that it looks like the color is going to be much closer to one of my inspirations.

Can't wait to start painting some very thin coats (a must for oil based paint apparently).


Monday, January 23, 2012

Desk DIY Inspiration

As a refresher -- this is the corner of  my guest room that will become my "home office."

Olivia approved of the fabric.

Here is the small desk that I snagged from Revival Antiques.  After purchasing a chest (unexpectedly, but could NOT pass it up!) I needed a good bargain!  I am pleased -- it has good lines with Frenchie legs, so I'm seeing some potential.

This is my mood board that I'm using for my inspiration.

My guest room fabrics don't warrant quite the blue turquoise I was going for, but what do you think of the middle color (the whole paint chip sheet looks greener in the photo than real life)?  I originally asked for the one second from top, but it turned out lighter than I hoped.  You can see where I tested it by putting it on the lightest sample.

If I go back and have them add more color tomorrow should I have the color turn our to be the second from the top or go for the third from the top?  I think I'm going with "Aloe" -- third on this sheet, but would it be prettier to do a shade lighter?

For the record-- when I was filling in a few chips on the desk with wood putty yesterday Josh said, "Oh, I see it's arts and crafts time, Trickster!"-- he makes it sound like I'm gluing macaroni on construction paper.  He obviously doesn't take the projects as seriously as yours truly. :)


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Last night's recipes- shrimp penne pasta, salad and chocolate panna cotta

My parents came up Saturday and we had a delicious supper with them & Bailey.  I must share a few of these recipes for you to try.

Candied Walnuts, Dried Cranberries, Cucumber Salad
My mom whipped up this salad and it was so yummy!  She did the candied walnuts in the microwave - so easy and they were deluxe.

2 1/2 c. walnuts (or you could do pecans)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water

Microwave 8-8.5 minutes, stirring about every 3 or 4 minutes.  You want the sugar and water mixture to really crystallize on the nuts.  Spread out on a cookie sheet, separating the nuts (warning- they are going to be HOT, so be careful not to burn yourself).

We served with a Pomegranate dressing.

Shrimp Penne Pasta with Herb Cream Sauce
This is one of my girl Giada's recipes that I've slightly modified.
The following makes 4-6 good sized servings.

1 pound penne pasta (I use whole wheat)
1/4 c. olive oil
1-1.5 pounds of media shrimp, peeled & deveined
4 garlic cloves, minced
freshly ground salt & pepper
1 (15 oz.) can whole tomatoes, drained and chopped
1/2-3/4 c. chopped fresh basil
1/2 t. crushed red pepper flakes (I just dump and it may end up being a little more than this, I like the kick)
1 c. dry white wine
1/3 c. bottled clam juice (FYI- in HT it is usually near the canned tuna fish, high on shelf)
3/4 c. heavy cream
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese (I probably do more like a cup, again I just dump in)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.  Add the pasta and cook as directed.  Drain and set pasta aside.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add the shrimp & garlic and season with salt & pepper -- cook until the shrimp are pink (about 3-4 minutes). 

Using a slotted spoon remove the shrimp from the pan and set aside.  You will still have left over oil and garlic in the pan.

Add the tomatoes, 1/4-1/2 c. of the baisil and the red pepper flakes to the skillet and cook about 2 minutes - stirring frequently. 

Add the wine and cook and 2 minutes.  Add the clam juice and cream and bring the mixture to a boil.  Continue cooking on medium-high heat about 7-8 minutes until the sauce thickens.  Mine never gets really thick -- don't expect alfredo like consistency.  Add some of the cheese to the sauce to thicken it up (at the end).
Pic below was towards the beginning of the 7-8 minutes of it simmering

In a large bowl add the pasta, shrimp, sauce and top with the remaining fresh basil and some additional cheese (optional).  Toss together until it's all coated with sauce.  Season more to taste.

My mom wanted to try a fun new dessert recipe so she flipped through my favorite cookbook Giada's Kitchen (more and more of my "go-to" recipes seem to come from this book).
Chocolate Panna Cotta with Amaretto Whipped Cream
That's what she picked and it did not disappoint.  It was very rich after our pasta though!

The following makes at least six servings (you could do smaller because it was rich).

2 c. whole milk
1 c. granulated sugar
1 t. vanilla extract
1 packet of unflavored gelatin
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 (12 oz.) bag of bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 c. toasted sliced almonds
1 c. whipping cream
1 T powdered sugar
1 T Amaretto

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray casserole dish or 6 small individual oven-safe dishes (we opted for the latter).

In a small saucepan, combine 1.5 c. of the milk, granulated sugar and the vanilla.  Bring to a simmer and stir until the sugar is dissolved.  Remove from the heat.

In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the remaining 1/2 c. of cold milk and let it dissolve for 2 min. Combine the cold milk and gelatin with the hot ilk and sugar.  Stir to dissolve the gelatin, about 5 minutes (you can heat the milk gently if the gelatin isn't dissolving easily).  When gelatin is dissolved, combine the eggs with the warm milk mixture, whisking constantaly to avoid scrambling the eggs.  Pour the mixtrue through a fine-mesh strainer into a large mearsuring cup or small pitcher.

Meanwhile melt the chocolate over simmering water in a double boiler.  Once it's melted, gradually combine the milk and egg mixure with the melted chocolate, stirring between each addition to create a smooth chocolate mixture.

Pour the mixture into your pre-greased dish(es).  Sprinkle the top with the slivered almonds.  Place the casserole dish(es) in a larger baking pan and add hot water to the larger pan until the water comes halfway up the sides of the casserole dish.  Place both pans in teh over and bake the panna cotta until the sides are firm and the center jiggles slightly (about 45 minutes-1 hour).  Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 30 minutes.

Just before serving, whip the cream in a medium bowl using an electric hand mixer.  Add the powdered sugar and Amaretto and whip to combine.  Top with the Amaretto whipped cream and enjoy!

We enjoyed hosting you, Mom & Dad!

I found a beautiful chest at the Studio123 sale and decided I couldn't pass it up (it will go in the guest room/home office so it wasn't totally out of the question for me the purchase it, right?!).  Then I found a desk at Revival Antiques for a steal (great lines, but needs some TLC)...more to come!


Friday, January 20, 2012

Home Office Quest Begins

I made a very bittersweet decision and gave my notice a few weeks ago.  Luckily for me (and hopefully McKinney) we decided I'd stay on almost 5 more weeks.  Now I'm down to only two more weeks at McKinney before I begin my next chapter.  More to come on that later....but I will be working from home, when I'm not on the road.  Exciting and scary!!!  Like I said, more to come on regarding details and reflections, but in the meantime, let's focus on something exciting...I get to dream about fun items for a home office.

Remember, we are still in limbo-mode on our home search.  Fingers crossed!  In the meantime I'll have to carve out a corner of our guest room.

The first item I need is a desk!

Perhaps something fun with lots of color to cheer me up when I'm all by my lonesome?
via 1st Dibs
turquoise bamboo french writing desk

via Pinterest
turquoise secretary desk
Or maybe something with some fancier gold hardware that could easily find a place in a formal living room or hallway one day?

French Writing Desk  via Dovecote Decor
blakc ad gold desk
another French writing desk via Dovecote Decor
mahogany and gold desk
What if I paint an item like this an unexpected color (a steal from Craig's list!)?  Or leave as is and get a fun & more modern chair and lamp?

Decisions, decisions.

Here are some other stunning offices.  The trouble is trying to think both short-term (crammed in guest room corner) and long-term (hopefully a full room dedicated to Office Otto).
via Decorpad - Kelly Wearstler Office

via Decorpad - Kimberly Ayres
painted light blue desk, blue and gold desk, teal grasscloth walls
via Lonny Mag / Decorpad
Lonny Mag office
via Decorpad
frensh gray distressed desk
Josh just came down and glanced over my shoulder and said, "Honey, that's not a work desk, that is a vanity thing."   What does he know? :)
via Decorpad / House Beautiful
House Beautiful home office and desk
via Decorpad - Molly Sims home office

via Decorpad

Besides the turquoise lacquered desks at the beginning of the post, I also keep going back to white lacquered desk -- crisp and clean.
via Decorpad

And one of my all time favorites -- interior designer Mary McDonald's office.  It's combining a lot of my favorite elements -- white lacquered desk, symmetrical lamps, collage wall, turquoise, pair of velvet chairs.

I know, I know...a lot of these ideas may not be practical for actually working (and when would it actually be these clean and "styled??"), but a girl can dream, right?

Going to Studio123's sale tomorrow in hopes of finding some goodies 50% off!

If I don't find anything, I'll be working like this--
Who can have a bad day with an assistant like Olive?

Have a great weekend!


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

iPhone Recap MLK Weekend at Nags Head

The Beans came and set up fresh hydrangeas.  Can't beat them.  They also have a collection of art around the house that would make anyone envious (top is one of John Silver's).

Rach, La & I in Manteo

Todd, Josh & Bean in Manteo

In Manteo we browsed the John Silver gallery and I fell in love with Jaquelin Perry's art.  I love her brush stroke style and how her color palettes are so HAPPY.  These are a few of my favorites:

We had a delicious feast prepared by Bean and La at home that evening.
Then we celebrated (a little early!) Julia's bday.

Then it was off to sing karaoke.  I cannot believe I convinced Josh to do a duet (Johnny Cash's Walk the Line) with Bean.

Sunday we bundled up and headed to Jockey's Ridge.  The lighting was beautiful on the dunes.
The boys on the hike up.
Chilly girls at the top.

Nothing beats a fun, relaxing long weekend with some of your best friends. 

Thank you La & Bean for being such wonderful hosts!

Happy birthday, Grayson!! Love you!!