Friday, July 29, 2011

{Good Grapes Destination} Lake Lanier


I am in desperate need of a relaxing weekend so I am so excited to head to Georgia today and spend the weekend on the picturesque Lake Lanier. I am so looking forward to water sports, beautiful sunsets, relaxation and spending time with Nick’s family at his parent’s home on the lake. It is just what I need. Hope y’all enjoy your weekend too. Remember to relax. 

Photo: Nick took this & sent it to me

Photo: Nick took this & sent it to me

Photo: Nick took this & sent it to me

Thursday, July 28, 2011

{Thrifty Thursday} Horchow Finale

Photo: My own
When I moved into my new city-chic all glass apartment I was looking for the perfect chic and stylish bar piece. Traditional pieces like a wooden bar just wouldn’t work in this apartment style. Naturally, I turned to one of my favorite (and affordable!) home stores—Horchow Finale, the discount outlet of the incredible (and not so affordable on this girls’ budget) Horchow. I found this mirrored piece and immediately fell in love. Add a tray, a few decanters and viola—I’ve got myself a bar! I might just go pour myself a drink right now…


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wine Wednesday!

My friend Lilly treated me to a wonderful dinner at her home on Sunday.  Lilly is a fantastic cook, and I saw this magnet on her fridge and laughed.  I unwind each day by pouring a glass of wine and enjoying it while I prepare the night's dinner.  Do you start your dinners with wine?


Crispy Tilapia Fillets!

In our efforts to reduce the total calorie count of our dinners, we've been cooking a little healthier at home.  While most of the time that means uneventful meals, I actually came across a flavorful recipe on Epicurious the other night.  I used only half of the oil called for and still turned out with perfectly 'crisp' and flavored tilapia fillets
I served ours over whole wheat cous cous
1 cup chopped fennel bulb (+1 tbsp fronds)
3/4 cup whole milk Greek yogurt (I used the non-fat kind and it was delicious)
1 teaspoon white balsamic vinegar (I didn't have this so I used 3/4 tsp white wine vinegar plus 1/4 tsp balsamic)
4 tablespoons olive oil (I halved this)
4 tilapia fillets (about 1 pound total)
1 teaspoon ground fennel seeds (I had whole, so I coarsely crushed them in a mortar and pestle)
1 egg white, beaten (to save time I just beat a whole egg)
2 cups Panko bread crumbs (I used 1/4 cup at a time and found I didn't have to use all 2 cups... reduces the amount you throw out)
1.  Place bulb in bowl, lightly salt.  Let stand for 10 minutes (I used about 1/4 tsp. Kosher salt).
2.  Add yogurt, mint, vinegar and 1 tablespoon of olive oil.* 
3. Gently sprinkle one side of fillet with seeds and salt and pepper.  Brush with egg white.  Coat with Panko.  Coat second side.  Repeat step until all fillets are seasoned, brushed and coated.
4. Heat 3 tablespoons oil* in a large skillet.  Place fillets on heated oil.  Cook, about 3 minutes on each side, or until done.
* this marks areas where I reduced the amount of oil used.  For the fennel salad, I used about 1/2 tablespoon oil and I used about 1/4 tablespoon for each fillet. 

Enjoy with a glass of white wine, such as Cupcake Sauvingnon Blanc. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Perfect Road Trip

One of my most favorite childhood pastimes is the road trips we used to take as a family. The sites, the sounds, the open road, the fresh air…it all just brings such great joy to my heart. Just last week I made a road trip from Dallas to Atlanta and it was wonderful. We went through 5 different states: Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia. What made this trip so great? Well a few essential items: 
  1. The scenes: Bridge crossing into Mississippi over the River.
  2. Fun stops along the way: Harrah’s Casino in Shreveport, LA
  3. Junk food: My first taste of Taco Bell…de.lish.
  4. A handsome boy to drive you around doesn’t hurt either J
  5. Gas station snacks are a must: I love spicy food (in this case I went with Hot Buffalo Bugles over the Fire Hot Cheetos) and a diet coke
  6. The wide open road.
  7. Last but not least remember this: music up and windows down. 
Photos: My own


Monday, July 25, 2011

{We're Obsessed!} Top Handle Bags

Oh I am seriously crushing on top handle bags! I've been thinking carefully about what I will be adding to my wardrobe this fall, and I think it's time for a versatile handbag.  As fashion icon Olivia Palermo has demonstrated, a great hanbag can be worn when dressed up, dressed down and everything in between.  Here are my favorites...

Bottega Veneta bag,
3.1 Phillip Lim Satchel,

Yves Saint Laurent handbag,

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Under Construction...

Hi there!  Can you guess what is wrong with this picture?  I know, there are a few things, but... what is the main eyesore here? 

Answer: Cheap-o builder's special mantles over the fireplaces.
They were one of the first things I knew we'd eventually replace.  They were placed way too high to hang anything at eye level and WAY. TOO. SMALL.  You can guess what happened... builder was probably running out of money on the then-new construction, incorrectly measured the width needed, and by the time the builder realized his mistake, it was too late and all of us future homeowners just had to live with these horrendous mantles.  

Glad to have that all fixed up.  Hanging Christmas stockings this year will bring me so much joy!

I love my contract team.  Love them.
You can note a few differences between this and the first picture above.  When we first moved in, we had the cheap metal tracks that held the shelves ripped out and replaced with better shelving.  The tracks weren't even aligned correctly, so we had to straighten the shelving immediately.  I also mentioned previously that I had the yellowed eye-ball recessed lighting that was over the fireplace removed, patched up and the wire was run to accommodate the iron sconces I purchased from  Their silk shades are not pictured, but they add such elegance to the room.

A closeup of the detail

Sneak peak of the new floors!  The only thing this room needs is the shoe molding
Second fireplace, located in the man cave.  They are working from top to bottom, so this will be the last room they finish!
I think I need to rearrange my furniture to make these beautiful lovelies the new focal points of their rooms!  I LOVE the difference they make!


Friday, July 22, 2011


How do you unwind?  I like to...

...Sleep in
alarm clock,
...Take a long bath
...Enjoy a sip of vino on the patio
Or lay in a hammock.

Have a great weekend!  And remember, unwind.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Under Construction...

A post for my mother more than anyone, who called me twice today to ask why I hadn't updated her on anything!

Nothing drastic this week, eh?  I guess I've never seen the difference hardwood flooring can make in a home.  We had really crappy carpet (and filthy, ew) replaced with hard wood floors this week.  We really needed to replace the carpet sooner, but wood floors are so much easier to maintain, it was another one of those "don't do it until we can do it right" compromises we just lived with after moving in.  We LOVE the hardwood floors!  The crew has completed one floor and we've got two to go.  So here are a few snapshots.  Please pardon the mess (and the really poor resolution)! 

Guest bedroom (new headboard!)

bedroom floors
Oh! Remember that arch they were building in my extra large living-room-turned-living-slash-dining-room?  I'm really appreciating the distinction it has given to each space.  And I love how they used the left over detailing from my new mantles (post on that to follow) on the arch.  Another decision I am so happy I made on a last minute impulse.  

I promise I'll keep you posted with more as we (they) progress!  I don't remember the last time I was this happy.  Good things come to those who wait?  Off to enjoy a glass of wine!

PS- Two years ago yesterday we put the offer on our house.  I remember it perfectly.  My husband was away at school, and I kind of sort of forged his signature- thinking chances were pretty slim considering our unsuccessful bid history on the five others.  Happy anniversary, dear home!

{Thrifty Thursday} Home Improvement Edition

I have, for a long time, envisioned a chandelier in my makeshift dining room.  That part of the room is not lit and every formal dining room needs proper lighting.   A while back, I was told by an electrician it couldn't be done (or that it would inconvenience me way too much).  My contract crew worked on that over the weekend - in a matter of hours- and rewired the room to allow for a chandelier.

I had wrought iron sconces installed over the fireplace when we moved in because I thought the aging eye-ball recessed lights that came with the house  were not formal enough for the living room.  I knew I wanted a chandelier to coordinate with those sconces and I fell in love with the fixture in this picture posted by House of Turquoise.  It was the simplicity and the outstretched arms that really drew me to this piece. 

Photo: House of Turquoise
The first one I found at Restoration Hardware was beautiful, but at $795.00, the price was completely out of the question.   

Alexandria Chandelier, $795, Restoration Hardware
I went to Ballard Designs to look for a similar fixture.  I actually think Ballard Designs has very fair priced items when you compare them to other French inspired interior retailers.  But even on sale for $200, it looked too complicated for what I wanted to achieve and so, I labeled it out of my price range. 

Ballard Designs, Sale for $199.99 from $279.00
I then took my budget to Overstock and found JUST the right piece for the small space.  And For $78.99 with $2.95 shipping?  I was sold.  What's even better is that I can buy shades to match the sconces (also SUPER thrifty) and tie all the area's lighting together!  Thrift always wins me over!

French Clarisas 6-light chandelier,

Think it will look good over my dining room set?  

Before: we depended on a floor lamp to light the dining room.  Right: You can see the wiring we put in the room.
We shall see!

PS - Did my recent paint job inspire you to paint a room in your house?  If so, go to Sherwin Williams between July 22 and 24 and receive 40% off all paints and stains! Gotta love a gret sale!  Happy Painting!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wine Wednesday!

We've been slacking in the wine postings, I know.  But that doesn't mean we're slacking at home.  This week I enjoyed a bottle of 90-point 2007 Seleccion Malbec by Alamos.  This is a much fuller Malbec than I'm used to which was a pleasant surprise.  It's fresh and fruity but also dark and vivid.  For a fuller flavor, it was really soft on the pallette, which I especially enjoyed for a summer toast.  The price for this reserve wine is right at $20.  As a bonus, look at this great post I saw from on Facebook two Fridays ago!  Happy Friday! Here's another fun one ... what do you think has been the best wine invention/innovation ever??
My answer: bottling and distribution.  I was totally flattered when liked my comment! What would yours be?


Sweet and Spicy Pork

Have you ever been parked in a grocery store lot with the intention of shopping for dinner ingredients and no idea what to cook?  This happened to me last week and I was able to pull up a quick and easy recipe with a simple search and my own tweaks.  The result?  Pretty good for a last-minute, calorie-conscious throw together.  

Sweet and Spicy Pork

1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon minced bottled ginger
1 clove minced garlic
1 teaspoon canola oil
1 1 pound pork tenderloin, cut crosswire
1/3 cup bottled salsa (we usually have fresh homemade salsa in the fridge, so I used that)
1 tablespoon raspberry preserves
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro

1.  Combine first three ingredients in bowl*
2.  Heat oil on medium high heat.  Flatten each piece of pork to 1/2 inch thickness (you can do this simply with your hands).  Add pork to pan, spoon soy sauce mixture over pork slices.  Cook 3 minutes per side, or until done.**
3.  Remove pork from pan.  Add salsa and preserves.  Cook 30 seconds or until thick.  Pour onto pork.  
4.  Sprinkle with cilantro***

My tweaks:
* I added a tablespoon of chopped green onions, both green and white parts
** After spooning the soy sauce mixture onto the pork, I added about 1/3 cup bottled mandarin orange slices.
*** I served the pork on a bed of brown rice and chopped extra cilantro and ginger to mix into the rice.  The ginger went in immediately and the cilantro was added half way through cooking the rice.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Under Construction...

Really nothing drastic this week, although it does amaze me what a fresh coat of paint can do to a home.  When we purchased our home two years ago, the walls were white and the trim even whiter (as in, florescent, almost plastic-looking).  Even though we thought about painting  it when we moved in, we knew we'd want to change the mantles, swap bathroom mirrors and change other walls, so we held off until we could do it all together

The colors we chose are both safe and comfortable.  Since the flash makes the color in the pics look unauthentic (cheap), I've included paint chips I found online:

Upstairs: Sherwin Williams Silvermist (main), Behr Silver Screen (guest) and Martha Stewart Living Spring Melt; Downstairs: Sherwin Williams Ramie
The color in the entry way ALMOST makes the tile acceptable.  Hardwoods are always best!

Paint before and after.  Light fixtures throughout the house were replaced when we moved in.  The one shown in the before picture is actually the fanciest the house had.  Gag!
The guest bathroom was transformed with a coat of Sherwin Williams' Silvermist
Our two year old light fixture needs a replacement bulb.  We also replaced the faucets when we moved in and the built-in you see to the right used to be an UGLY mirror and plastic medicine cabinet I had removed
Behr's Silverscreen in the guest bedroom (has purple undertones in sunlight)

Martha Stewart Living's Spring Melt in the home office.  Loves me some soft Tiffany blue!

SW Silvermist in the master.  New trim color throughout the house and ceiling color is Sherwin Williams' Restful White.
So there's the latest update!  I'm loving all of it!

Pre-Fall Wish List

Okay, everyone.  Time to stop lusting after the gorgeous pre-fall collections making their way into retail stores now and start making a list of those items you'd feel bare without.  This fall, money is tight so I'd like to add just one or two luxury items to my closet and stretch that purchase for years to come.  I've come up with a list of four pieces that will add to what I already have from previous years' season staples:

A perfectly tailored wool coat

A loose fitting neutral silk shirt

Ports 1961 on Yoox
A fur vest
Rebecca Taylor Faux Fur Vest
or black leather shorts (I've been secretly wanting a pair since we wrote the Rachel Bilson post).
Left, Free People Leather Shorts; Right,
If you could buy just one piece of clothing between now and December, what would top your list?

Monday, July 18, 2011

{We're Obsessed!} Rent the Runway

It always surprises me when I'm asked if I've heard about the fabulous online closet known as Rent the Runway.  We mentioned it in last week's post and over a dozen of our fashionably fabulous readers chimed in with a thank you of sorts.  Ladies, this website has been thriving for some time and I couldn't love the concept more!  I've previously blogged about the lack of space in my closet, maybe I've hinted towards the lack of funds in my bank account and so, enter Rent the Runway.  Amaze.  The way it works is as simple as its concept: wear something fabulous and don't worry about never wearing it again.

Top five reasons why we're obsessed with Rent the Runway:
5) The girlfriends who co-founded this site sound like so much fun.  I have just added them to my 'dream dinner table.'
4) The buyers and style team have carefully calculated and exquisite taste.  There isn't a dress on here that isn't suited for a certain event, be it your rehearsal dinner, a wedding, an inauguration ball or a girls' night in Miami.
3) It's a one-stop-shop for a head to toe look - frock, accessories and handbags.
2) Perhaps a tie with #1, when they change out seasons, they put their slightly used collections for sale!  At a fraction of the cost! As in, you're THIS much closer to owning that Temperly London dress, or that Halston Heritage one, or that Herve Leger number.  All could be yours.
1) Let's be honest, in this era of smartphones and Facebook, you know you already think twice about wearing something that's been photographed.  Even when you wear it among different social circles.  Renting gorgeous designer dresses is the is the new bargain shopping. 

Does it get any easier?   
All photos, Rent the Runway


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Under Construction...

Here to give our friends and family who have been asking us for pictures another construction update.  Our living room is getting a face lift.  You see, we have a very large living room upstairs and a family room where we spend most of our time downstairs.  Lots of living space in two different rooms, if you will.  When we purchased the house, the casual dining area was connected to the kitchen, but I had hoped to end up in a home with a formal dining area, with the kitchen out of sight.  Since I didn't feel like furnishing two large living areas, I decided to split the space upstairs and put my dining room set on one side and the living set on the other.  As time went on, I was happy with this choice, but wanted a better way to define the different spaces.  What do you think of the 'room divide' I came up with?  My goal was to define each space, without enclosing or taking away square footage from any of it. 

The set up
Unfortunately, this is the only picture of the space I found
Constructing the room divider

The arch I had built to mark the distinct spaces
Before and after
View from 'dining room' before

View from dining room after
I'll be back to address other changes we've made to this room soon!  It's been an exciting week of construction, and we're looking forward to what week two produces.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Under Construction...

Oh goodness, our whole house save for a bed, a shower, a half bath (in two different bathrooms) and half a kitchen is under construction right now.  Everything minus the walls is being replaced!  I'm making progress on my home office improvements, including having the walls painted and the hardwoods installed.  And, after finding inspiration online, I've added yet another change.  I'm converting the closet into a closet/desk area.  Opening it up already gives the room more square feet, and it really needed that. 

Here's where we are:
Left: the original carpet and closet door; right: the constructed and opened closet space

 And here is where we are going:

images captured from Google