Friday, November 1, 2013

November, You're Blushing

It seems like I was just whining about Monday, doesn't it?

TGIF, y'all, for real.

As soon as I get my hands on a camera that actually works, I will be posting more pictures of the apartment. My cracked and beat-up IPhone4 (WHAT. what. represent.) fails every time I try to capture the crumbling plaster and peeling paint of our current abode.

Rather than a weekend of big plans, W and I will be relishing in November, which happens to tie October for my favorite non-summer month. I seriously love Thanksgiving--always have, which means I have an equally serious love for the month in which it falls. My favorite thing to do is watch the Macy's Day Parade and nibble on my dad's famous stuffing, which he doesn't stuff in the bird since we fry our turkeys in South Carolina (read that last part in your best Honey Boo Boo voice). W thinks that it is so lame and so weird to watch the parade--I mean, who actually does that?

Millions,W. Millions of people. Its the freaking Macy's Day Parade! Back off.

November means that family time and delicious food and good movies and great music and parties and friends and happiness are just around the corner. It really is getting to be the most wonderful time of the year.

And so, this first weekend of this my-tied-for-first-place-favorite-non-summer-month will be spent doing my favorite things:

I have asked and W has agreed that we shall grill out Friday and Saturday night (maybe Sunday, too??). Because grilling sans mosquitoes is a godsend.

Cap and I will be going to an estate sale Saturday morning.
Looking for:
1. Dining room chairs to replace the ones I sold in our August yard sale so that people will actually be able to sit for Thanksgiving, which I am hosting. Yeah, I didn't really think that one through....
2. Serving pieces and utensils.
3. Etched mirror to go above my dresser.
4. Bowls that will go with the Horchow.

The leaves are really putting out the goods today, so I'm hoping the weekend is just one, long golden and delicious day. I plan to stare at some leaves for a while, hopefully from the comfort of my lawn chair. W and I are totally those weird people who sun themselves in the middle of the front front yard. Wrapped in blankets. Maybe sleeping. Drooling? Yep.

Hiking. There's a new trail I want to check out.

Table fixing, since our kitchen island leg broke (and sent my beautiful glass bowl shattering to the ground).

And, fire pit!!

Have a wonderful weekend! Follow me on instagram (bri_jackson) to see my "currently coveting" posts and our steals as we wheel and deal at the sale!


Monday, October 28, 2013

Not Another Monday

Mondays are the worst. Monday mornings usually find me dragging and depressed and whining to W, who--ever the sweetest man on earth--whispers soothing words to me via texts. Ah, technology.

In an effort to lift my spirits, I usually try to focus on my favorite day of the week--the weekend--which always does just feel like one, gloriously long and refreshing day. We took this past weekend slow. We weren't fully up and functioning until about 11 each morning. I couldn't help but get a little annoyed at myself for wasting the precious hours between 9 and 11 with such nonsense as delicious lattes on the couch and weekend PBS programming (my favorite) and cuddly and soft kittens and brushing my teeth, and exclaimed both mornings, HOW IS IT ALREADY 11. EVERYTHING IS OVER. THE WEEKEND IS OVER. IT JUST MIGHT AS WELL BE MONDAY. UGH. UGH. UGH. THIS IS JUST AWFUL.

To which W replied, okaaaaay, do I take a right or a left here?

Oh, W, my steady and emotionally-stable rock. I would probably be institutionalized if it weren't for him--or partial to cocaine.

Despite my mid-morning freak-outs, we had a pretty fantastic weekend. In fact, we've had quite a few pretty good weekends. Here are snippets from the last couple of months that I am relishing in right now.

These clam shell cocktail plates make me so happy. I can't wait to use them at Thanksgiving, which I am hosting this year. Eeee!

Flea market haul. I've already gifted the blue and white pitchers to Cap. They didn't end up working in my living room and look awesome in her guest room. I was pretty shocked to find a piece of tobacco leaf pattern china for $5. It matches a set that I bought back in September when Margaret was visiting. I know, you've missed so much, but it is entirely my fault. The verdict is still out on the mid century modern (MCM) sugar and creamer set. W abhors them. I do think they are little shiny, but I kind of love them. The MCM ash tray was actually found by W and looks awesome on the bar cart--not sure of what it could be used for though. The pink glasses are just heavenly and make me yearn for Christmas. I have always hated the color red (until recently) and preferred hot pink for Christmas.

Margaret and I on our way to Lewisburg when she visited all the way from NYC on Labor Day Weekend. We stopped at Hawks Nest State Park for the views.

My new china (I sold my wedding china--grandmothers everywhere are shocked) that I scored at one of my favorite antique stores in Lewisburg. I got four 5 piece place settings plus two coffee mugs (not pictured) for less than $70. The china is Horchow tobacco leaf pattern. W and I are still pretty obsessed with it. (Yep, he loved it, too!) The two coffee mugs that came with it were also in a tobacco leaf pattern, but not Horchow. I'm unsure of the maker, but the platter that I found this weekend matches those perfectly. Unfortunately, there was a sticker on the bottom that said "for decorative use only," so it now lives on the mantel. I adore it.

That planter was a flea market find and what encouraged the blue and white theme of which the pitchers were a bust.


W and I went to a costume party at the local crossfit gym Saturday night after a delicious dinner of pizza and sangria with Cap, J and J's dad, Mr. Mike, who was visiting from Louisiana. W was a very handsome gladiator. I was a not-quite-black-haired Wednesday Addams. I (of course!) couldn't find black hair paint anywhere. I used eye shadow that I brushed in. W was not a fan of the brown locks.
Also, a Halloween party at a crossfit gym is so un-fun, considering the 20, 30 and 40 (!!!!!) + year old women in barely there costumes. And, who can blame them? Not me! They looked fantastic. I was definitely the most covered up. People thought I was a nun. I can't help but laugh about how juxtaposed my costume was from every other female at that party. I also will never eat again. Period.

The weekend ended as so many have before--family dinner with Cap and J and this beauty of a chicken. This is the most delicious chicken you will ever eat in your life. Promise.

Butterfly your chicken (remove the backbone and break the breastbone).
Rinse and pat dry.
Smother in Tony Cacheres Cajun Seasoning.
Grill on the cold side of a charcoal grill (no lighter fluid!), covered for 30 minutes, skin side up.
Don't touch it.
After 30 mins., rotate it 90 degrees.
Cover and don't touch it for another 30 mins.
Make sure the internal temp is 160 degrees.
Remove and rest for 15 mins.


Friday, October 25, 2013

Curtain Spiff-Up

First of all, you should know that I graduated from the College of Charleston in Charleston, SC (ie: the most historic place ever) with a degree in Historic Preservation. Now, you will understand why I have a very strict rule when it comes to choosing housing. I only choose old-- the older, the better.

Currently, we live in a circa-1910 monster Victorian of which we occupy 75% of the second floor. I adore our apartment except for a few glaring oversights (a proper dining room, which means that living room dinner parties are the norm; a second bathroom; a dishwasher; a garbage disposal). Just because I love historic buildings does not mean I want to live historically. I enjoy the finer things in life, such as motorized dish washing and more indoor plumbing.

You should also know that one feature of historic buildings that I love the most is original windows. This can be heartbreaking at times, since they are a rapidly disappearing feature. Enter: vinyl windows, the scum of the earth. Luckily, both of the historic buildings in which we have lived over the last four years have retained their original windows. Sure, they can be drafty, but there are so many, easy options out there to make them more energy efficient. In my opinion, you take out the windows, you take out the soul. Rant over.

Our circa-1897 building in Lewisburg, WV. Our apartment was the three window bays to the far right on the 2nd floor.

Our old living room. The windows were gorgeous.*
(The wall color is still a favorite, Valspar's Woodlawn Lace; the trim is semi-gloss white.)

I tell you all of this so you will understand my strange, unconventional (?) approach to how I dress these original windows. LESS is better. The first thing I have done in both of our apartments has been to immediately rip out blinds and curtains that remain. Our first apartment had awful vinyl blinds, which are not easy to clean and are not made for historic windows. They almost always never fit. Even if you get them cut to width, they are usually too short or way too long. And, let's just face it, they're ugly. Our current apartment had some pretty awful polyester track curtains a la 1973. I couldn't wait to rip those things down.

Our current building before the porchony got a makeover.
Lovely pepto pink polyester curtains, right? This is our bedroom.

Bri's Solution for Window Treatments for Historic Apartment Living

First thing's first: If you know that your situation is temporary, treat your window treatment solution as temporary. AKA, don't put too much time, effort or money into it, since these curtains will most likely not work in your next place and are therefore not worth a major investment. Finally, (most) historic windows are just beautiful and don't need too much dressing up. Embrace the old! Don't try to cover up trim and moldings. Try to do as little to the original fabric of the window as possible. Be unobtrusive, but still make sure that your needs are met. Choose appropriate textiles and hanging methods. And, just have fun!

Here's what I do.

1. Buy two sets of cheap curtain rods for each window. I got ours at Walmart or Lowes for around $4-$8 each, depending on the size I needed. The windows in the bedrooms were wider than the kitchen and living room, so I needed longer rods. I chose silver tone, because although they are cheap, I don't want them to look too cheap. You get it, right?

Cheap silver tone rods.
(The reason both sets of rods are bent and wonky is because we have a white cat that likes to dangle from the curtains when we won't let her out on the porchony. This is another reason to not invest in more expensive window treatments. Naughty creatures!)

2. Depending on the amount of privacy needed in each room, buy 1 to 2 sheer curtains for each window. Since we are on the second floor and have a good bit of tree coverage, I chose to buy only one sheer curtain panel for each window. I did the same for our kitchen. Since bedrooms are a more private area, I got two sheer curtain panels for each window. Walmart and Lowes have sheers for $4 a panel.

3. Buy one curtain panel for each window. I chose to buy curtain panels (preferably at Target when I find them on sale), but you could make them if they are cost effective. I am a sewing and craft dunce, so store bought saves me time and frustration. I chose simple white curtains for the living room, $9 a panel at Target (on sale). I chose printed curtains for both bedrooms. They were on sale, maybe $12 a panel, but I can't really remember. Again, one curtain panel per window is a savings. Sure, the windows would look better with two, but I have found with the sheer curtains closed (meaning spread across the window) and the panel pushed to one side, the window actually looks pretty well dressed.

4. Install, and you're done. My curtains are not perfect for my windows, since historic windows vary in size and shape and I bought stock curtains. Mine hang right below the window sill, but I find I'm not bothered by this. My curtains are 84 in. length. You could always hem them with hem tape or liquid stitches for the sewing challenged.

5. Or, you can jazz them up a bit like I did in the living room.

I picked up some white pom pom trim and a bottle of liquid stitches to add some charm and de-cheapen my cheap ass curtains.  I still haven't finished one of the panels as I bought all of the pom pom trim that Jo-Ann's had (a whopping two rolls!) and they still haven't restocked. :( Things like this make living in West Virginia not so fun. I feel like we are always three steps behind. Anyways, I bought two rolls of pom pom trim ($3.99 each), which was enough for 1 1/3 curtains, and a bottle of liquid stitches ($7). My total after coupons for the project was about $12. I will need one more roll of trim to complete my panel. So, about $15 total for my update. Applying the trim was super easy. I laid the curtain flat on the ground and put a few paper towels under the area I was applying. You do have to press on the trim and hold it for a bit, but once the glue starts to dry, its stuck. And because the glue is water soluble until it dries, its easy clean-up. I thought I would have to reinforce parts of the trim with a thread stitch, but so far, so good. It took me about 30 mins. to do 1 1/3 curtains. Not bad!

Last year, Cap and I picked up a bag of 6 curtain tie backs from the flea market for $1. She has two in her dining room. I decided to add two to the living room to further dress my windows. Since our curtain panels are usually open, pushed to one side, the addition of the tie backs really dresses things up and is functional. W kindly drilled the holes and just screwed them in. I think it took him 5 mins. after I picked the height. I am forever finding curtain tie backs at antique shops, so keep an eye out. They are a fun and unexpected accessory for a room.

(Note the black cat passed out on the radiator. You'd think it was cold or something!?)

*WINDOWS IN OUR FIRST APARTMENT: I ripped down the vinyl blinds. In the living room, I put up two sheer panels per window and one tea-stained curtain panel per window. In our bedroom, which also fronted the road like the living room, we used double-sided tape and attached sheets of white butcher paper with a dark gray curtain panel  in each window. The paper provided complete privacy and filtered the light in a very nice way. Since the view was the same from the living room and bedroom, we didn't mind not having a view from the bedroom.

*We have not painted in this apartment.

Do you have any easy and cheap window dressing tips?

Coming up:

I apologize for the poor quality photos--working on it!


Thursday, October 24, 2013

It's October

It is more than a little hard to believe that it is October. I mean, I am still referring to events that happened back in March like they were yesterday. Because, like, that totally just happened last month. YOU know, in March. Last month!

I have such mixed feelings about the speed at which time is passing. On the one hand, I am so incredibly excited for March 21st, I can barely stand it. I want it here NOW. But on the other, I love October and Fall and Thanksgiving. And, holy crap, October ends in 7 days. And now I'm just depressed.

But, back to March 21st.

THAT is the date that decides our future. THAT is the date when we find out where W has matched for residency. THAT is the date that our entire our apartment will be packed up and I will be hightailing it out of here for our future home. It might not end up being our forever home, but 5-6 years in one place will feel like forever after all of the hop, skip and jumping around we've been doing over the last five years. Because in the last five years, I have lived FIVE different places.

Let's recap:

May 2009 - I graduated from the College of Charleston.

June 2009 - I left my beloved Charleston, SC to move back home (Florence, SC) until our wedding.

July 2009 - Married W.

August 2009 - Moved into W's mom's basement in Columbia, SC. Lived there for two weeks before moving into the tiniest little place--still in Columbia, SC.

June 2010 - Moved to Lewisburg, WV so that W could attend medical school.

June 2012 - Moved to Charleston, WV so that W could continue his third and fourth years of medical school (they have a statewide campus for rotations).


So, that's Charleston, SC; Florence, SC; Columbia, SC; Lewisburg, WV; Charleston, WV. I like to think I have come full circle ending back up in a Charleston. I am kind of hoping that the universe notices this symmetry and balance that I have achieved in my life and cuts a girl some slack in our next great adventure.

The next 3 months will see W and I traveling all over the eastern half of the United States for his residency interviews. I am thrilled at the prospect of getting to see places in the US I may never have occasion to visit. But, you better believe, I will be in hardcore scope-out mode. Any one of those places could be our home in less than 6 months. Mind blown.

W has suddenly turned all superstitious and won't let me peep a word to the general public about his residency interviews, but I just can't help myself. Here they are in the vaguest terms ever.

He has one interview in the Midwest. My feelings are pretty bleh about the prospect of living in this particular Midwest city, because its not anything major or special, EXCEPT for the residency program. Its kind of insane that W got it. But, its freaking cold there. I'm so over snow.

He has one interview in New England. This one kind of makes me squeal every time I think about it!

He has one interview in the Northeast. This one also kind of makes me squeal in equal parts delight and fright.

He has one interview in Dixie. I actually wouldn't mind this one at all. It would be a new time zone!

He has several interviews in the mountains. I am indifferent to these. I would prefer coast, obviously!

He has a couple in SC, which thrill me to no end at the thought of being closer to family.

So there you have it. He is still getting emails daily. And, of course, not all of them are interviews. There have been rejections. At this point, the interview invitations far outweigh the rejects! Thank all that is holy for that.

Here is what you've missed (through no fault of your own--I am the delinquent blogger here):

Went apple picking with this nut and W's whole family.

Cap and I made a mistake, but we looked cute doing it!


Can you believe I am married to a 30 year old? Me either.

Coming up on this here blog:

I've been so incredibly bored lately. So, I've taken to over-designing the apartment. And since interior design is really one of my great joys in life, I have decided to start sharing more about it! Tomorrow's post will feature a $12 upgrade to my cheap ass curtains.

See you then!


Monday, August 12, 2013

Hippy(ie) Medicine

First of all, let me just say that I have no qualms with hippies. In fact, I admire their complete disregard for all things mainstream and general go-with-the-flow attitude towards life. And I am always happy to try out the beat of a different drummer

And let me just say that the ambiguous spelling of the word hippy(ie), as in flower child and not hips like a truck, truck, truck, is sort of making me a little neurotic this morning. It apparently started out being spelled hippy and then was changed to hippie. But, I'm a curmudgeon stuck in the old ways of things, so I'm using hippy. So, there!

Now that is out of the way. I have just begun a month-long trial of introducing two life-style habits, homeopathic cures, hippy(ie) medicine--I really don't know what to call them--into my routine.


Here's why:

About my Freshman/Sophomore year of high school, I, out of the blue, developed a patch of eczema on the back of my scalp. I had never had eczema before--neither had anyone in my family. My mother (a nurse) would put tea tree oil and various other things on it, before it got so unbearable I went to the dermatologist. He gave me a medicine that would control it, but never cleared it up completely. I would have flare-ups. But then I would also have days and weeks where it would clear up before returning with a vengeance. Things went like this until about three years ago, when in addition to the patch on my scalp, I developed a patch in my ear. Yes, in my ear canal. Talk about misery?? I still had a stock of medicine left from my days as a dependent on my parents' health insurance, and I have hoarded that stuff since, using it only in extreme cases. About a year ago, the patch on my scalp cleared up completely and never returned until this summer. But this time, it came back on the other side of my scalp. My other ear is also showing signs of beginning to break out.

I am in full-on attack mode. The dermatologist is a last resort, as I plan to wait until next summer when W will be working and we will finally have decent health insurance. Isn't it ironic that the med student and his wife can't afford healthcare!?

So, back to my hippy(ie) medicine.

I am an avid internet-er. I follow multiple news outlets on various social medias and just love to click links and read articles on various and sundry. Algae taking over the planet? Fascinating. Burial ground in Bedlam unearthed? Can't get enough. What does Rachel Antonoff's top shelf in her bathroom contain? Gotta know!


It was during one of these clickfests that I stumbled upon a website/blog--I can't even remember at this point--where some algae-eating hippy(ie) was talking about how she gargled coconut oil every morning and it cleared up every single skin ailment she had ever had and hasn't had any since.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I don't know that she eats algae--I don't even know if that's possible or safe. But, wouldn't it be convenient to help with the algae-taking-over-the-world problem referenced above? I also don't know that she was a hippy(ie).

So, anyways, she religiously swished coconut oil for about 20 minutes every morning and ITS MAGIC, PEOPLE. Or, apparently, it is. I figured, why the heck not?

Last week, I bought the expensive, all natural, all organic, all toxin free, pressed-straight-from-the-coconut-pulp oil and stared at it for about 5 days before I finally worked up the nerve to gargle with it. I'm a texture person, as in, I can't stand the texture of slimy things like yogurt, oatmeal and certain fruits. Plus, I really don't like the smell of coconut and this stuff REEKED. I wasn't really sure how much to use, so I decided to start with a teaspoon full. Of course, coconut oil is solid, so you have to melt it in your mouth first before you swish. I barely got half of the teaspoon in, so I used the remaining oil as moisturizer on my legs and arms and now I can't escape the coconut smell. That was a big mistake that I will not be making again. The swishing really wasn't that bad. Once it melts, it feels like olive oil. And I could drink certain olive oils--like guzzle. Especially, this one. So, I swished and swished--but not for 20 minutes. When you spit it out, you are supposed to scrape your tongue or else you will just keep swallowing the remaining oil. Easy peasy.

(By the way, I also have tried the coconut oil topically on my ear and scalp. It sort of helped, but it kept coming back.)

Then, came the other hippy(ie) medicine: apple cider vinegar. You read everywhere--or at least, I do--about people drinking apple cider vinegar each morning. Just like the hot water with lemon, it is supposed to really jump start your body/health/metabolism/day. Apple cider vinegar is an alkaline that is supposed to get your body's pH to the right level. This is of course supposed TO BE MAGIC, TOO. The one thing that people always say about drinking apple cider vinegar is the wonderful effects it has on the skin. I figured it was worth a try. I am trying to work my way up to a full tablespoon. Right now, I'm at a teaspoon. I also have read to swish the vinegar before swallowing as it apparently whitens your teeth. I will be trying that out as well.

And just so you know, Mrs. Bonnie, who was married to Mr. Bobbie, and who both drove the van at the daycare that I went to for the first 8 years of my life, drank apple cider vinegar every morning. And, I'm not talking a teaspoon or tablespoon of the stuff. We are talking half a mason jar full that I watched in amazement as she sipped it like sweet tea every morning. Mrs. Bonnie was way ahead of the times and trends. OR, she was just a hippy(ie). 


Today marks the first day of my hippy(ie) medicine trial. I am going to try it out for a month and see if I notice any benefits at all. I will let you know!

At the end of the month, if the eczema continues with little sign of improvement, I am going to try something drastic and heartbreaking. I am going to remove dairy completely from my diet for an entire month. When I went gluten-free back in March, I was hoping/praying/wishing that not only would my stomach problems clear up but that my eczema would as well. No luck. I have read lots of places that dairy can be the culprit. I really hope that isn't the case, because I would totally marry cheese and run away with it to some faraway land to raise little cheese babies. Fo-real.

DISCLAIMER: I do not in any way endorse/suggest/recommend that anyone else attempt these hippy(ie) medicines. Please contact your medical doctor before attempting either of the above. And, don't tell him/her that I told you to do it!


Friday, August 9, 2013

Saying Yes and Recipes

Dear readers, I have been so good at saying yes this week! (Disclaimer: I've only technically said it twice and one of these was more of me just doing my duty rather than saying yes, but I'm getting there!)

Although it has been another hell-week for me at work, I have tried my darndest to not let that interfere with life after 5. I probably royally sucked that up on Monday and Tuesday. In fact, I KNOW I did. I was pouty and miserable Monday--not to mention hungry. I mean, for real, do not mess with me when I'm hungry. Monday was yet another day when The Universe decided to work against me. I got an email about professional life stuff that was more than disappointing--it was kind of heartbreaking. The printer delivered 700 invitations ($1,100 worth!)--700 INCORRECT invitations. I needed these invitations the next day so that the 10 volunteers I had scheduled to show up would have something to stuff in the 700 envelopes that were correct. (It all worked out in the end.) And something else happened, but I think I erased it permanently from memory, so you are spared that grief. I got home ready to commiserate but W had had a pretty rough day, too. And after a solid 10 days of him waking up at 4am, I decided to cut him some slack, plastered on a happy face and made him some southern delicacies.

We're talking white rice, cayenne pepper fried porkchops (I use brown rice flour #GFbaby), stewed zucchini and onions and corn on the cob. He was a happy man.

Fuzzy, but cuuuuuute!

Tuesday royally sucked. There's nothing like having to deal with crappy neighbors whose trees keep falling on your property. These neighbors also happen to be the (boy scouts), so you think trees and nature and destroying things would be right up there alley. Apparently not. Then, I had to spend all day with a bunch of women, who are great, really, but sometimes a bit much. My brain was mush and I'd been treated like a dumb intern all day rather than the ED that they pay me to be. So, I was little on edge and very cranky. Also: HUNGRY.

W and I decided our favorite Mexican would be a nice cure. He was sort of right. It was good and filling, but I sort of kept up the pouting for the rest of the night.

Wednesday was pretty much a repeat of Tuesday, except when W got home at 5:30, he said: We are going on a boat ride. Let's go.

And I saluted, "Aye, aye!" And went to change. The boat ride was lovely. It was overcast and moody. Sometimes, there's just nothing better than moody mountains. I fit right in! Y'all, I probably would have foregone the boat ride. I wasn't feeling very fit for human interaction, but I faked it like a champ. Windblown hair and windburned cheeks made me happy that its still summer even though all anyone can talk about is fall. And, I'm like, people!?! We just got here!! Don't you remember the winter that lasted through the first week of April? Let's leave summer alone. We've still got a month and a half left!

I've been darkening my brows since they are non-existent. I haven't plucked my brows since high school.

So, my next example isn't really a great one, because it wasn't so much about saying yes as it was about fulfilling my expected Junior League duties. I met with the communication committee last night and it was fun and exciting! I am one of the two newsletter editors, which I love. I am looking forward to my pseudo-leadership role in the league. This is why I joined. Its all about the small groups and committees--that is where you meet people and really connect. Also, I had the brilliant--if I do say so myself--idea to create a grandma meme to attract a younger generation. Who doesn't love memes featuring grandmas?? Tell me, who!?

Now, I will leave you with some of my favorite recipes. I get asked all the time for recipes, and I've barely talked my lazy ass into sharing them, but I'm feeling motivated right, this, moment. Momentum forward!

French Lentils
I made this up but it is based on an actual recipe that I tweeked a bit. These are delish!
Dice up (small--not fine) one small onion, 1-2 carrots and one celery stalk. (Celery isn't my favorite, so I only do one. You could do as much or little of both of these as you want.)
Mince one clove of garlic.
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a dutch oven.
Sautee without browning the onion, carrots and celery until soft. 5-10 minutes depending on how you like your veg/how high your burner is.
Add the garlic for the last minute of sauteeing the veg.
While the veg is sauteeing, rinse 1.5 cups of lentils (I used green but you can use whatever) in very hot water. You can even bring water to a boil, take it from the heat and throw in the lentils for a few minutes. I'm not sure what this does, but I find the lentils done this way don't hurt my stomach as much.
Once the lentils have been rinsed/soaked and your veg have sauteed, throw the lentils in with the veg and sautee for a minute.
Add 1/3 cup red wine. (DO THIS. ITS THE BEST PART. NO QUESTION.)
Stir around.
Add 4-6 cups of chicken broth, a sprig of thyme and a bay leaf, salt and pepper.
Bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer. Simmer 15-20 minutes until desired tenderness.
Holy Moly. I eat it like a soup. YUM. Enjoy!

I ate mine with some fresh spinach and shaved parm. Perfect.

Quick Marinara
I think I got this from Gwyneth. Yeah, Paltrow, because we are tight. Not really. I saw it on goop, but I don't think I make it exactly like her's.
You need as many tomatoes as sauce you want to make.
For a single serving (which I made quickly for lunch one day), I used a large orange/yellow heirloom tomato that I chopped roughly.
I diced up 1/4 of a medium onion and minced a small clove of garlic.
I heated up 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sauteed the garlic and onion for a few minutes. Don't brown them.
Then, I threw in some crushed red pepper flakes, a dash or two of dried oregano and then the chopped tomato.
I let it all sautee about 5-8 minutes until the tomatoes started to break down.
Then, I tossed in my al-dente (GF) pasta and let it soak up the yummy goodness for a minute or 2.
Then I tossed in some chopped basil, salt and pepper.
I garnished it with a few slices of yummy mozzarella and some parmesan cheese. (Garnish with cheese off the heat so it doesn't separate.)

Target has the best GF noodles--their Archer Farms brand.
Stewed Tomatoes 
Roughly chop 4-5 (or however much you want to make) large red (or heirloom) tomatoes. Place the tomatoes and 3-4 tablespoons of butter in a pan. Stew on medium heat (so they are bubbling) for 45-60 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add a dash or two of sugar. ENJOY. With rice. On top of butter beans. On toast. On bread. On eggs. On grits. ON EVERYTHING.

The beginnings of the best stewed tomatoes ever.

You need to make these IMMEDIATELY. They are called Cowboy Candy. They are jalapenos that you pickle in sugar. They are firey hot but sweet at the same time. Incredible. We like to eat them on crackers with cream cheese.

Cowboy Candy above (my mom made them with yellow jalapenos) and cukes with cream cheese, red onion, smoked salmon, dill and lemon below. Hors'devours we had when my parents visited this weekend.

I also made these curried chick peas. Yum.

And, finally, I leave you with the piece de resistance. Scott Peacock's Fried Okra Pancakes. We made this last weekend when my parents were here. W doesn't approve of okra--I know, I swear he isn't southern either--so we made them with grated zucchini. OMG. There is no picture because they didn't last long enough. BUT MAKE THEM. IMMEDIATELY. And serve them with some Japanese mayo (mayo mixed with sriracha).

Have a great weekend! I look forward to saying lots of YESES!


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Summer Projects

 First thing's first...

Girl's Night Out was a huge success!  We danced to JT, ate good food, and believe it or not... we actually ran into a few familiar faces.  Oh, and if I may say so myself, our dresses made a pretty cute duo.

In other news, I've been working on a few projects around the new place, and I thought I would share one.  J recently turned an old glider into a tree swing... which made outside time (our favorite) increase drastically.  However, with the added outside time being under a tree near a high traffic walking path, it didn't necessarily create the private lawn seating we'd hoped.  We still love it, but I decided to make a new seating area closer to the door so we can escape from Code Red and other crazies quicker than two shakes of a lamb's tail.

(There's a hint to my favorite movie hidden in that last sentence.)  :)

We have two concrete benches on our front stoop that I thought would serve well as a little reading nook.  It's also covered... so we could even sit out there during a peaceful drizzle (my favorite reading backdrop).  I just needed it to be comfy and cozy, and I had a long way to go!

Here's the before:

I decided to make two cushions for the benches.  You may not know this, but memory foam sold in craft stores might as well be gold.  It is CRAZY expensive.  Luckily, J and I had an old queen size mattress topper we were going to donate to the dumpster (due to the inevitable sink hole it created when two people attempted sleep at the same time).  I convinced J to help me measure the benches and cut the foam to fit Saturday.  By Saturday evening, I had a new seating area.

Tools needed:
- an old mattress topper or egg crate
- outdoor fabric
-razor blade
-measuring tape
-sewing gear

I'm a bit of a spastic seamstress, so I don't do well with patterns.  I just laid the foam on top of the fabric and cut about two inches from the outline.  (I needed enough to cover the thickness of the padding, but I still wanted the fabric to be relatively taught.)  Once the fabric was cut, I turned it inside out, pinned down the edges, and started sewing.  See, spastic.  I don't measure with these types of things...  I just go for it.  As long as I'm only working with basic pillows and such... it normally turns out.  Normally.  I had both the cushions finished before dinner, and in plenty of time for a little evening enjoyment.  By far the quickest, most satisfying project I've ever done.

I was lucky enough to find this fabric 1/2 off at a local fabric shop in Charleston.  I purchased 5 yards for both cushions and two pillows, and I still have left over!  The cost for these pretty little things came to a grand total of $33!  I'm a happy girl.  The benches measured 5ft long and 15 inches deep.  This mattress top allowed plenty of foam for both benches, and I even have left over to make the pup a new bed.  Score.

Puppy helped out a little, too!

The Afters:

I added a new door mat, succulents, and even made a few pillows to match.
The yellow fabric is from an old embroider skirt I had!  Talk about repurposed goods.

Isn't it cozy out there!  Now, I just need to convince the landlord to pressure wash the front of the house.  I'm also working on sewing a flag for the front post... I'll keep you updated on that project as it progresses.  :)

Late night reading with a fresh pitcher of Sangria
I've been spending MAJOR time on my stoop these past few days.  It's been in the low 70's/ high 60's in the evenings, and I cannot seem to get enough of the outdoor time.

Here's a recipe of Sangria that pairs well with the cool summer nights...


- 1 bottle of red wine (Whatever you have on hand.  I used Pino and mixed in a glass of Malbec)
- 1/2 cup Triple Sec
- 1 peach, diced
- 1 orange, sliced in wedges
- 1 apple, diced
- 1 nectarine, diced

Let chill for at least an hour, and enjoy!

Are you working on any summer projects?


Thursday, August 1, 2013

Come Fly With Me

You may recall from our very first post that Bri and I attended a Girl's Night Out party last year.  Well, dear readers, the time has come again for yet another Girl's Night Out.  Girl's Night is a pretty sweet party that benefits the YWCA, an empowering woman's program here in Charleston.  They fight for everything from domestic violence awareness to racial justice and even equal pay! The event was a blast last year, but this year... I'm even more excited to attend.  

The theme is "Come Fly With Me"... 1940's, 50's, and 60's.  (yay!)

Here's a little peek at what I'll be wearing:

This emerald green hat dug up from a dusty shelf at the Antique Mall in South Charleston

What's the 50's without clip on's, right??  These were a mere $4 at Bri's favorite shop, Stray Dog Antiques.  (I'm still deciding if I want to wear the pin)
Believe it or not, I bought this dress 2 years ago at a thrift store.  I had no idea where I would wear it, but it was love at first sight.

I'm in the process of styling my hair now... Let's hope this roller set makes me look like Betty Draper. 

Here's to fun nights in strange cities!  :)


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Quarter-Life Crisis

I am technically a year late for this--well, a year and a half to be precise, but who's counting? NOT ME, obviously. Case in point:

During a conversation with Cap and J a week or so ago, I said, "I mean I'm 26 years old for crying out loud!" Or, something along those lines and I was instantly struck by an icy chord of fear.

"Wait," I said, turning to Cap. "I'm 26, right?"

{This song was my jam about, oh, fifteen years ago! 
And is very fitting for this story. Play it in the background!}

She looked at me like the idiot that I am was.

"Um, yeah," she said.

"How old are you?" I asked accusingly, still not quite believing it.

"25," she said. "You're 26." DUMMY is I'm sure a word she would have liked to add to the end of that statement.

Circa-1970 dress found at the flea market for $15 that I will wear to a fundraiser with Cap on Thursday!

Do you ever do this?

I always think I am 22. ALWAYS.

Sure, I just celebrated my 26th birthday a short 2.5 months ago, but in my mind, I am perpetually 22.

And, when put on the spot about how old I am, I always have to think--like think really hard to remember.

I'm 22. No, that was 2009. This is 2013. That makes me...... ummm....... OH. Twenty-freaking-six. GOD. Now, I'm depressed. Wait, is that right? No, I'm not 26. 1987 subtracted from 2013 is...... DAMN. I am 26.

The gorgeous 1920s cameo W gave me for our fourth anniversary. He done good.

I am sure this is a clinically diagnosable psychological something or other. I am sure there is a medication for it, too.  

Xanax for the emotionally-uptight, touchy-feely-intolerant, one-woman pih-ty pahr-ty, anyone?? Hmm??

I'm not really sure of the significance of the age of 22. I turned 22 three days after graduating college. I married W 2.5 months into being 22. I moved in with W at 22. I had to get a real job at 22--although I really didn't. (My real job as Executive Director of an historical society and museum came at the ripe old age of 23. I know, I thought they were crazy for hiring me, too!)

There's just something about 22, and I'm stuck on it.

But, now, 2.5 months into being 26 and what do I have to show for it?

Some pretty gnarly tan lines from my battles with the spray-on sunscreen and my week at the beach.
A mad case of poison ivy from weeding the garden at work.
A huge, stinky pile of self-loathing for myself and my "work."
A 2 lb. weight loss due to the previously mentioned huge, stinky pile of self-loathing. I'll take it.
Endless day dreams of my perfect job falling from the heavens and flattening me like an unlucky frog victim to a mac truck in the middle of a steamy highway.
(Most likely) in-vain planning of a trip to Greece in May since W and I will most likely not have the time or the money to experience one of our dream vacations for another, oh, five to ten years.
A mild bout of depression about how incredibly stagnant my professional and social life have become in the last two years. Things were looking up, up, up during that first year in WV. Sadly, I've plateaued.

My incredible anniversary dinner: petite filet and prawn. YUM.

Wow. That turned depressing fast.

Enter: Quarter-life Crisis.

What does it mean?

For me, right now, it means:

1. Not saying no.
2. Being spontaneous.
3. Taking risks.
4. Dreaming big.

I hope the 23 year olds I met in Junior League will take another chance on me and call me to drink beer with them at the Pittsburgh farm team baseball games. Because, this gluten-free, 26-year-old, museum professional WILL drink some gluten and WILL heckle some baseball players. Granted, the first time I went with them, I stalked the concessions looking for white wine while they drank dollar beer from cups that fill from the bottom (!!). I KNOW. I would like to go back in time and tell myself to shut the eff up and go put on some gosh darn shorts, woman. Y'all, I wore a white button down polo shirt and coral ankle pants and flats. AND, one of them had to explain SnapChat to me. GOD. WHAT HAVE I BECOME. No wonder they never call anymore.

Its now or never. I've got 11 more months of limbo. AKA: FOURTH YEAR MEDICAL SCHOOL HELL. And, I am just not content to sit here and let it creep insignificantly by as I count down the days to the rest of my life. Who wants to live like that anyways? Always watching the calendar, the clock, your life tick, tock by. Its maddening. And, I've had enough.

So, here's to a dirty house, full days and adventure!

I will keep you posted as I try to quickly climb my way out of this slump.

Cap and I have braved the county pool two Sundays in a row!

Quarter-life crises: Do they really exist? Discuss.


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Dodging the Dog Lady

Last night I found myself peeking out my window before going outside, scoping out the cross street before rounding the corner, and skipping out on quality outside time in 70 degree weather.

This is not like me.  I normally take the road most traveled, or the one with the most people currently walking so that I can "casually" bump into someone and strike up a useless conversation in hopes of expanding the friend circle from one (Bri) to two (anyone).  So why am I dodging interaction and gorgeous weather you may ask??

My puppy Mose has made a new friend in the neighborhood, and by new friend I mean he's found another dog to take advantage of sexually while barking loud and obnoxiously in our front yard.  Yes, he knows what the ladies like.  This new dog is named Misty.  She's a Jack Russell with a pimp limp and a typical, CODE RED dog owner.  The dog owner does not pick up on the usual social cues such as:  

"Well, we better get going..."

"Mose is being so loud, I should bring him in so we don't wake our neighbors."

"I really need to get dinner started."

"I'm not wearing a bra, so I should probably get out of the street."

But more importantly, she thinks normal conversations include descriptions of dog poops, fleas, ticks, and dog humping.  Now, I understand that I just celebrated my dog's first birthday by cooking him a steak and sweet potatoes #puppiesarepeopletoo, BUT I do know how to appear normal to strangers.  I think.

Yesterday morning, around 7:15 AM our new friend came strolling in front of our house (bra-less herself), and decided to make a pit stop in our front yard so Misty and Mose could have a hump play date.  

I know you're all thinking, 

"This chick just complained for a WHOLE YEAR because she never talked to anyone, and now she's upset about a little CODE RED dog owner?!?!?!"  ( See: Hello Boards. Goodbye Husband. )

It's more than that.  I promise.  

You see, I'm not a morning person.  I love morning time because it comes with my two favorite things... coffee and silence.  I am sincere when say I do not do well with others in the morning.  I think there should be a rule in every household that no one speaks until at least 9:00.  I'm telling you... this world would be a better place!

So, this dog lady.  She's invading my silence.  She's taking away the joy of my ONLY cup of daily coffee, and more importantly she's replacing it with a big hunk of awkward.  After nearly an hour of standing in my front yard using every excuse I could think of to get away from the humping dogs and Code Red, I literally just walked to my front door and waved goodbye.  

So long, manners.  (Sorry, Mom)

To make things worse, J and I were walking the streets yesterday evening and CODE RED came back to the house looking for us while we were gone.  Thankfully, Bri sent a warning text...

I'm so lucky to have a friend/neighbor who understands the severity of this situation.

Upon receiving this text, J and I decided to change our evening stroll route.  Bri updated us again with, "She's heading West on Virginia Street", and we were able to SUCCESSFULLY dodge Code Red.  


J is currently working on a book of excuses for our next two years here in Charleston with Code Red.  He better get busy, I'm ready to enjoy my new swing.

Am I alone in this, or do you dodge your neighbors too?