Friday, February 14, 2014

Snow Days

Growing up in the Northeast, we were no strangers to snow. Since moving to the South five years ago, we haven't seen much snow though. It's been just long enough to bring back the wonder and excitement in snow. For me anyway. It also helps that our apartment complex has a parking garage and we don't have to shovel. Nothing ruins a magical snowy day like having to scrape your car off.

On Wednesday we walked around the neighborhood until we found a restaurant open for lunch, then came home and watched the snow fall throughout the afternoon.

I wasn't expecting Thursday's snow to last as long as it did, or amount to as much as it did. When it was finally over and done with I took another little stroll through the neighborhood, running into people carrying the necessities (beer not milk) and enjoying the quiet of no cars whizzing past on our slightly hilly street. Then the sun came out and the blue sky peeked through and I headed up to our rooftop terrace.
So quiet!

I loved finding this little snow man (about 6 inches tall) on the roof. Against the Charlotte skyline he holds his own though, right? All about perspective. I'm soaking in the last few weeks of having this view.

Now that it's over I feel like I'm done with snow for awhile, so hopefully that'll be it! Hoping the warmer temperatures coming our way (high 60s and 70s early next week!) will make it disappear before it reaches that ugly gray slush I remember from my childhood.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Weekend Recap and Menu Planning

Looks like Charlotte is in for a second round of winter weather this week - hopefully it's pretty and short-lived. We had another errand filled weekend - oil changes, shoe shopping, furniture building etc.

Saturday we lazed around for most of the morning and then enjoyed a delicious brunch at Tupelo Honey in South End. We'd been in Asheville in the fall for a late lunch and were looking forward to trying the new location in Charlotte. My husband got a gift card for Christmas that sweetened the deal a little bit. Everyone is right when they say it's packed - we arrived around 11 and waited 20-25 minutes for a table for 2. The brunch food was even better than what we'd had in Asheville. Of course the biscuits and jam were delicious. I got the crab scramble and A. had the fried chicken with biscuits & gravy. There were huge chunks of crab meat throughout my scramble and the biscuits and fried chicken were amazing as well. We'll be back for sure, but it won't become our regular place - the parking lot is a disaster and there are plenty of other places you can have brunch without the wait. Next up on my brunch list is either Nan & Byron's brunch buffet, or Queen City Q - if for no other reason than their epic Bloody Mary which comes topped with pulled pork and shrimp.

We also watched a bunch of Olympic events, including my cousin's first race on Sunday morning. She finished in the top 60 and qualified for a race Tuesday morning, while I'll be streaming live. We picked up some copper(plated) mugs recently for the full effect for our Moscow Mules, which we put to use for the Opening Ceremonies.

When we went by our house on Sunday afternoon but the garage door was down and the doors were locked, so we did a lot of peeking in windows. I'm excited that the doors are locked - it means that they're on to things that they don't want stolen! 16 days to closing.
Only a few exterior changes since last week - downspouts, garage door, lighting fixture/outlets etc.
I wrote about our new living room furniture last week. We'd planned to keep it boxed up for the next few weeks, but ended up putting together (I mostly watched, but tightened a few screws here and there) the media cabinet and coffee table over the weekend when we cleared off the old ones for sale/donation. I love them! I think it's a sign that I'm officially old and lame that I'm this excited about furniture. I'm also waiting on an area rug for our sunroom that I ordered during a flash 60% off sale last week.

And now for our meals for this week:
Oven Fried Pork Chops, Garlic Pasta, Salad
Chicken Gyros with Tomato & Cucumber Salad
Roasted Chicken and Vegetables with Green Beans
Penne A la Betsy (Shrimp Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce) and salad

Make sure you stock up on all the necessities for possible snow day(s) - at our house that means plenty of movies, snacks, and spiked hot chocolate. Never understood the milk, bread & eggs craze - I usually only buy those every few weeks...maybe most people make french toast on snow days?

Friday, February 7, 2014

First February Five on Friday

Happy Friday! Linking up to share my Five on Friday.

1 // Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that tonight is the Opening Ceremony for the Olympics. I'm excited! My cousin is in Sochi competing in her first Olympics! It's been really interesting to follow her journey to the Sochi Olympics over the past year, because they competed in Sochi about a year ago and she told us all about how there was NOTHING there and that they were literally moving a river to build the main roads in and out of the Olympic complex. Now, her pictures look much different. I'm sure we've all seen the reports of journalists arriving at unfinished hotels and other strange happenings, but so far my cousin hasn't reported anything being amiss on her end.

2 // In honor of the opening ceremony I've got all the ingredients to stir up some Moscow Mules tonight. I discovered Moscow Mules at a bar in Boston about a year and a half ago and it quickly became a favorite drink of mine. And yes, I know that Moscow Mules were created in the United States, but I don't care.
3 // Tea Tree Oil
In the words of the Frank's Red Hot commercial Grandma - "I put that $h!t on everything!" My husband used to whine and complain about the smell of tea tree oil, but I've since caught him using it on stubborn spots or irritated ingrown beard hairs. I'm a firm believer that if you have a skin issue, put some tea tree oil on it.

4 //  Yuengling Ice Cream
In college I used to transport 30 racks of Yuengling from Philly back to school because it was impossible to find in Massachusetts. Unfortunately, ice cream is not as easy to transport across state lines, because while we do have ready access to Yuengling beer in Charlotte, they won't be carrying the new ice cream line here (yet.) With flavors like root beer float, vanilla fudge chunk with pretzels, and black & tan (salty caramel ice cream with a swirl of Belgian chocolate) I'm going to make a point to grab a quart the next time I'm in Philadelphia. And actually...the ice cream isn't new, they produced ice cream during the Prohibition and until 1985, and now it's back in a few select East Coast markets.

5 //  I'm not sure if I should be proud or horrified but I was alerted last night that I was the second person at my university to sign up for Facebook when it became available. My friend was the first. We were sitting together in a first year Global Society seminar when we found out our school had been added to the (at that time) relatively short list of colleges on The Facebook. Our dorm had also led a campaign to email Facebook to get them to add our school. So crazy to think that it's been almost 10 years since that Fall day in Global Society.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

House Inspiration Boards

The thought of more than doubling our living space 3 weeks from TODAY is simultaneously exciting and daunting! I've been mentally filling our space since even before we started the building process, so to see it all coming together is a dream come true. Here are some inspiration boards I've been working up on PicMonkey for a few of our rooms, including some items we already own or have ordered, and others that are just inspiration that tie a room together:

Living Room 
We have a light tan leather couch and loveseat which will be the main furniture in our living room.

1. The rug is from Rugs USA and bought online over the summer during a blowout sale. We got really lucky that it was exactly the color we wanted, sometimes screen color does not equal real life.

2. The media chest is from World Market, part of their Madera collection. We picked it up along with a coffee table (4.) and two end tables (not shown) this past weekend during the last day of their furniture sale. My World Market Explorer membership got us an extra 15% off.

3.  I love these throw pillows, also from World Market. They are a really close match to the rug. Now we just need to find a few more pillows in another accent color.

4. The matching Madera coffee table. Right now my car is filled with cardboard boxes, as the Madera collection requires a little bit of assembly.

5. This is a dried flower arrangement that I pinned awhile ago, I'm on the lookout for some decorative accents for our coffee table and mantle.

Master Bedroom

1. This is our new bedroom set (not the bedding) which will be delivered once we move.

2. We got this bedding over a year ago on clearance from West Elm - ours is an earlier version and doesn't have quite so many flowers.

3. Got this birch print for about 75% off retail on Joss & Main in January.

4. Starting to research curtains but probably won't get anything for awhile - first I'm researching paint colors.

5. We got 3 of these prints (different flowers) for Christmas two years ago and they currently hang in our bedroom.

6. My parents got our wedding certificate matted and framed at their local frame shop for Christmas 2012. It will either hang in our living room or bedroom (which is where we have it now.)

Guest Bedroom
When our new bedroom set is delivered we'll be moving our current set into the guest bedroom. For the past few years our guest bed has just been a queen size mattress and box spring on the freebie/cheapy metal frame from the mattress store, and we've always used our second bedrooms as a combination guest room/office, so I can't wait to have a more pulled together looking room for our overnight guests.
1. Just ordered these shams and duvet cover from West Elm, once again taking advantage of a clearance bedding sale.
2. I keep imagining "spice" or slightly redder sheets for this room. So, I'm on the hunt for the perfect sheet set.
3. This is similar to a piece of art we already have, with wrought iron in a cherry-ish wood frame. Another piece of art I'm planning to hand in this room is a framed water color painting that my grandfather did.
4. Just a thought for the curtains.

I keep going back and forth on what I want to do with our sunroom. I'd love for it to be a cozy nook filled with plants and perfect for curling up with a book. I can't wait for our view of the sky in the evening, we're on the end and have windows along the west side of the house, so we should get some pretty sunset views (until we get neighbors.) Anyway, this room is clearly the least well thought out at this point. I have grand plans to make a custom piece of furniture using our cake stand wood slab from our wedding.

I guess you could say I have a thing for purple and green. It started well before our wedding but those were definitely the colors that dominated our decor and have slowly been taking over our living space. When I moved in with my husband (then boyfriend) he had a lot of red and black stuff (both his college AND company colors), but it seems to have faded out over the past 4.5 years. I'm very aware that I need to be careful or else we'll end up like Marie and Hank from Breaking Bad, whose entire house was shades of purple (okay, maybe not THAT extreme, but I'm nervous about it.)

Monday, February 3, 2014

Weekend Recap

We had an unintentionally busy weekend - but it was really productive. My husband's travel is slowing down a bit (after getting caught in Atlanta an extra day and night because of the snow & ice), so we're back into the swing of things.

Friday night we had dinner at Cajun Queen in Elizabeth. I had a Groupon that was about to expire so we finally stopped procrastinating and went. I thought it was pretty good but I think I've been ruined for cajun food by our 4 years in the Gulf and a few trips to Louisiana. After dinner we watched some movies from Redbox and called it an early night.

Saturday we were up early and ran a bunch of errands and got our grocery shopping out of the way. I was hoping that by going fairly early on Saturday would help us beat the crowds stocking up for the Super Bowl, but not so much. I've never seen our Harris Teeter so crazy, every checkout line was open and each one had long lines.

Sunday was the day of taking advantage of big sales. I've hated our current coffee table and TV stand for years - and I'd been eyeing a set for awhile - between a furniture sale and a 15% off coupon we saved almost $300 - so we went for it. We also got a new bedding set at West Elm on clearance, so we can replace an old "bed in a bag" set that A. bought when he moved to Cleveland right after college.

As is our Sunday tradition, we also stopped by our house and we have grass, paint, cabinets and countertops, and a few of our wrought iron balusters are in! This week we'll get floors and other fixtures. It's coming together so quickly now. I think I'm in denial a little bit because we should really probably start packing.

Did you watch the Super Bowl? Puppy or kitten bowl? What was on your menu? Our final menu ended up being pretty delicious - but definitely not typical Super Bowl fare. I spent a lot of time researching different recipes from Seattle and Denver and this is what I came up with:

Grilled Balsamic Salmon Kebabs
Barbecue Bison Burgers with a Coffee-Dry Rub
Baked Potatoes

Since we ended up having such a busy day on Sunday, I didn't make any of my typical dips, snacks or dessert. I wasn't impressed with the commercials, and didn't care much about the game. My husband pointed out that the commercials might not be as good now that companies are "leaking" their would-be Super Bowl commercials online and saying they're banned to get them to go viral. Why pay the huge Super Bowl prices if you can just put it on Youtube? I think he might be on to something, but I hope not because so many who never watch football make a point to watch the Super Bowl.