Wednesday, June 29, 2016

charleston's nathaniel russell house tour

on the first day of our girls' trip in charleston, we had a very detailed itinerary put together between the five of us girls. we took recommendations from all of our friends that had already been to charleston and combined them to make a pretty packed weekend. truthfully, there were a lot of restaurants and eating on our itinerary but what do you expect in the south?! 

the first day of our trip was by the far the most packed. we started the day with a southern breakfast at hominy grill, followed by a horse drawn carriage ride through the city, shopping, a tour of the nathaniel russell house, late lunch on a rooftop, early dinner at magnolia's, and capped off the night with a byob sunset cruise. what a day.

Monday, June 27, 2016

cheesy beef enchiladas

we had company over this weekend and made a mexican dinner on friday night, with enchiladas as the main course. it has been so long since I've made a meal that wasn't vegetarian, but being the only vegetarian in the group - I knew I needed to have a meaty option. I made my mom's cheesy beef enchiladas and a side of just cheese enchiladas for me. fellow vegetarians out there, just omit the beef and voila! one day, I'll get my act together and add some sauteed vegetables to the cheese enchiladas but I was too overwhelmed to try it this weekend.

enchiladas are a great meal to make for large groups, especially since you can make them ahead of time and refrigerate overnight. this recipe makes 12 enchiladas so it definitely serves plenty. feel free to multiply everything by 1.5 and make the extras in a 9x9 pan for a total of 18 enchiladas. add some margaritas, chips, and guacamole and you are guaranteed a successful dinner!

Friday, June 24, 2016

southern living live in charleston: biscuits and jam

my friends and I booked our trip to charleston at the beginning of the year. months later, while reading my southern living magazine, I stumbled upon southern living’s 50th celebration in charleston. often times, I’ll see fun events going on in cool cities listed in magazines and think that it would be fun to attend. could you believe that the southern living festivities were planned for the exact weekend that we’d booked our trip? I was ecstatic.

southern living had lots of fun outings to choose from that weekend including a series of one-of-a-kind experiences hosted by editors and local personalities. the weekend’s events were curated to feature an inside look into charleston’s culinary taste, grand homes and gardens, eclectic shopping, and vibrant music scene. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

charleston window boxes

you guys know I'm an avid southern living reader. some articles are relevant to me, and others aren't - but I love most of them the same. take for example, the article about the group of women behind the charleston window boxes. do I have window boxes at home? no. but, hey, a girl can dream.

on my recent girls' trip to charleston, I was enamored by these floral boxes on every corner. what a gorgeous form of ever-changing, living art. floral arranging classes, here I come. the purpose of this post is honestly to brighten your week. I don't know how to perfect your window boxes, but this guy does if you're interested. otherwise, sit back and enjoy the view.

Monday, June 20, 2016

ten things to do in charleston

every year, my college friends and I try to do an annual girls trip. we started with napa valley for spring break (which is a whole other topic in itself) and we've done san antonio, new york city, key west, and nashville. not everyone can come every year, but this year, we were pretty close to full attendance. we decided on charleston earlier this year, with all of them making the flight from texas and me driving five hours from georgia. to say I was excited to experience charleston would be a vast understatement.

luckily, I have some amazing friends who like to plan. I am typically a planner, but usually my role is to find the accommodations and organize payment. I found a cute, two bedroom on VRBO very close to king street. a couple of my friends made reservations for meals and excursions, it's great to have friends who do research and take initiative. we had a blast during our long weekend in charleston, here's my top ten list of things you must do in the holy city.

Friday, June 17, 2016

a humble "before and after"

today's post marks my first official house update! immediately after we closed, we had our wood floors redone because there was some water damage. this meant we couldn't go in the house for 3-4 days or so. talk about an impatient wait. finally when we were able to go in, our first update was to replace the panel curtains that the sellers left.

our home was built in 2014 so there really isn't much updating that needs to happen, in fact this will probably be my only "before and after." when we first saw the house with our realtor, everything looked amazing. once I started looking closer, I honed in on these panel curtains. the circle pattern was totally off, misaligned. I just couldn't handle it. so you're not surprised that the very first night we made moves in our new house, it was to obliterate these curtains!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

what I read in may

I'm excited to link up for the first time with jana says and life according to stephanie for show us your books what I read in may. may was a little crazy with travel: jacksonville, dallas, newark, dulles, and 30a. I swear I don't normally travel that much, but what I do love about traveling so much is that there's no excuse not to put a dent in some books! so let's get to it.

the good girl by mary kubica
in this tale of a kidnapping gone wrong, mia, the black-sheep daughter of prominent chicago judge james dennett, impulsively decides to go home with colin, a young man she meets in a bar. the one-night stand quickly turns into a nightmare when colin forces her into his car in the middle of the night, and mia learns he’s been sent to abduct her for ransom. back at home, mia’s mother, eve, cannot understand why james doesn’t seem to take the news of his daughter’s disappearance as seriously as she does. { review}
my take: A
even though it took me a while to finally finish this book, it was quite good. the summary of the book really stood out to me and that's why I bought it, the one night stand turned kidnapping definitely pulled me in because I don't think I've read any other book with this plot. yay, original plot! this book was a page turner, and it messes with your emotions. just when you think you've decided on your emotional stance, you reach the end of the book - and everything changes and it's completely out of left field. I love when that happens... you close the book and sit there thinking what just happened? a must read!

before I go to sleep by s.j. watson
every day, christine wakes up not knowing where she is. her memories disappear every time she falls asleep. her husband, ben, is a stranger to her, and he's obligated to explain their life together on a daily basis--all the result of a mysterious accident that made christine an amnesiac. with the encouragement of her doctor, christine starts a journal to help jog her memory every day. one morning, she opens it and sees that she's written three unexpected and terrifying words: "don't trust ben." { review}
my take: B
this was a good book, it definitely has a unique plot, but is also irritating at times due to the repetitive nature of the story of memory loss. I figured out what was going on before the plot unfolded because it's somewhat obvious, but the book really drew it out. I think if this book were shorter, it would've been an A+. in general, it was a decent read with a pretty predictable ending.

the mistake I made by paula daly
single mother roz has reached breaking-point. after the dissolution of her marriage, roz’s business has gone under, debts are racking up, the rent is late (again), and she's struggling to provide for her nine-year-old son, who is starting to misbehave in school. roz is in trouble. increasingly desperate, roz doesn’t know where to turn. then the perfect opportunity presents itself. at her sister’s fortieth birthday party, roz meets scott elias—wealthy, powerful, and very married. but the impression roz leaves on him is indelible. he tracks her down and makes roz an offer to spend the night with him—for money. could it be as simple as it sounds? as the situation spirals out of her control, roz is forced to do things she never thought herself capable of. { review}
my take: B-
you definitely feel for the main character in this story. the decisions that she makes spiral out of control and cause real problems, and you can't help but feel bad for her. however... I'm really not a fan of this plot, basically she's forced to do physical things she doesn't want to do so that she can gain money from a wealthy married man. I get it, it's a book - but this message really irks me. surely a grown woman could solve her problems without the crutch of a man, and an awful man at that.

if you're looking for more book reviews and recommendations, head on over to the link up!

Life According to Steph

Sunday, June 12, 2016

weekly reading, volume 9

happy weekend, everyone! I really love writing these weekly reading posts, mostly because it's like a personal stream of consciousness life update and spur of the moment writing. it's been a couple weeks since I've been able to write one, mostly due to home buying and moving. but this week, I'm sneaking one in!

I was finally able to go wedding dress shopping with my mom and sisters and.... I said yes to the dress! my sisters gave me this super sweet engagement basket, which I love. can't wait to use the hanger in our new closet. ok back to the dress, I'm so excited about the dress because it's perfect for a coastal wedding, light and airy. and that's all I'll say ;) 

I found my dress at atlanta bridal couture in alpharetta, it's an adorable little shop but I will say they did not make it much of a celebration once we purchased. if you are expecting champagne or at least an "I said yes to the dress" sign, you will be sad to know that none of that happened. but I did find an amazing dress, so it's all good. I looked at two different shops and tried on maybe ten dresses before I found the one.

stephen and I also attended a wedding last weekend and it turned out to be so much fun, even though I really didn't know that many people there. we danced and drank so much that I didn't even remember that we took a few photos. a couple days later, stephen sent me this one and I honestly had no recollection of taking it. a definite sign of a fun night!

the wedding reception was hosted at a local brewery near our apartment so we also pretended like it was our neighborhood going away party since this is likely the last time we will visit the brewery for a while. this is my last blog post from the apartment... next time you hear from me, it will be from the chaos of our messy new townhome. cheers to the rest of the weekend!

Friday, June 10, 2016

southern caramel pecan sheet cake

a few weeks ago, I was trying to decide on which dessert to make for a dinner party with friends. my coworker suggested a caramel cake. it sounded so good, but I was not about to try something I'd never made before for a dinner party. so you can imagine my excitement when a few weeks later, my mom planned to make a caramel sheet cake over memorial weekend!

first things first: this is not a hard recipe by any means, but it is also not a quick and easy five step recipe either. I usually try to keep things decently simple. less ingredients, less time, less mess... you get the picture. I've also never been able to "beat egg whites until stiff peaks form" before, but my mom taught me how to do that with this recipe. I guess you could say that the juice was worth the squeeze on this one. decadent caramel icing melts into the pillowy soft cake, I bet you can't have just one piece. let's just say my memorial day weekend was spent eating slivers of this cake here and there because in my mind, if you don't put it on a plate, it doesn't count. take it from me... get out a plate, cut yourself a real slice, and enjoy!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

beach house reveal: outdoor spaces

now that summer has unofficially kicked off, I'm excited to share another part of the beach house with you! if you haven't checked out my beach house tour yet, you can start here. unfortunately, I can't take credit for this gorgeous architecture, but it does run in the family! I've shared the kitchen and bar, bathrooms, and living room - and today I'm sharing some amazing outdoor spaces. confession: I've had these photos for quite some time now, but I didn't feel right about sharing them in the winter. I figured it could make the S.A.D. symptoms go into overdrive. so now that the weather is hopefully nice wherever you are, it's time to share!

one of the coolest places in the house is the very top of the viewing tower. it's amazing to watch the sun go down on the ocean and the beautiful architecture. you just have to be careful on the spiral steps after a few cocktails!

Monday, June 6, 2016

meatless monday: caprese ravioli salad

we spent memorial day weekend at the beach with my family, a total of seven of us. keeping the right amount of food on hand at all times can be slightly tricky, but we always have deli turkey meat, pb&j, and pimento cheese on hand for lunchtime sandwich making. we normally scarf a sandwich down before hitting the beach, or if we get a head start, we pack them for a beach picnic. it just so happened that stephen's mom was vacationing nearby and stopped by for lunch one afternoon. my mom made a nice lunch that we actually sat down at the table together to eat... a rare yet welcome occurrence for lunch at the beach!

the main course of our lunch was this delicious tomato and mozzarella ravioli salad, but we also had tortilla rollups and a cheese plate. inspired by a sandra lee recipe, we nixed the chicken and voila! vegetarian. this caprese ravioli salad took about 15 minutes to make, most of which is the cook time for the ravioli. I am a huge fan of tomato and mozzarella, and cheese ravioli - and I really liked the temperature of this dish. the 'salad' is assembled immediately after the ravioli is cooked but all the other ingredients are room temperature. once the dish is served, there's a slight warmth of the ravioli which barely melts the cheese. not hot, not cold... just right. I will definitely be adding this recipe to my list of standbys, it would make a great side at a BBQ or baby shower, or a main dish for girl's night in.

Friday, June 3, 2016

strawberry rhubarb pie

stephen's absolute favorite dessert is strawberry rhubarb pie and today is his birthday, which makes it the perfect day to share this delicious pie. growing up, my family usually had cakes for our birthdays so when I made this pie for stephen last year, I think it was the first pie I had ever baked! I topped the pie last year with lots of hearts made of pie crust, but this year I decided to do a more traditional lattice with fluted edges. there's something about a pie fresh from the oven with buttery, toasty crust and oozing berry juices.

this strawberry rhubarb pie recipe was passed down from stephen's grandmother to his mother and then to me. the funny thing is that I can remember my grandmother introducing me to rhubarb for a class project as a little kid. I think we all had to research and cook a specific fruit or vegetable and I was assigned rhubarb. I guess you could say rhubarb runs in the family!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

georgia roadtrip: the french market

a few weeks ago, stephen had a state tennis tournament that spanned from friday - monday. I drove up after work on friday and stayed through sunday morning, so I missed quite a bit of the tournament but we still had a great weekend in the southern city of macon, georgia. trip highlights included touring the historic hay home and an impromptu stop at the french market.

macon is about 90 miles from atlanta and as I was driving up on friday, I saw a sign for the french market in locust grove. locust grove is halfway between atlanta and macon, and I had never heard of it before this trip. on the way back home on sunday morning, I decided I just had to check out the french market. in my head, I pictured a smaller version of joanna gaines' magnolia market and sure enough, the french market turned out to be a completely adorable little detour.