Hotlanta

SONY DSCWe just got back from an amazing trip to Atlanta and I wanted share some of my favorite moments. My husband had some meetings to go to and I got to tag along to see friends and enjoy the city. I love Atlanta, it has a special place in my heart. It has amazing shopping, incredible food and beautiful neighborhoods. It has all the hustle and bustle of a big east coast city but people are actually nice and have that good old southern hospitality. It also helps that a lot of people that we love are in Atlanta and its just great to visit friends. As usual my friend Shawndra took me to some great new places, she has introduced me to almost all my favorite places in Atlanta. She is the same friend who explored this flea market with me and was my partner in crime in NYC. The restaurant above was one of our first stops. Daddy D’z. You can ask my husband that atmosphere is almost as, if not more, important than how good the food tastes when it comes to eating out. If I get good vibes, I’m usually a fan. Daddy D’z was homey and eclectic in the best possible way. It felt very authentic, kind of like you were eating at someones house. It wasn’t glamorous but that’s what was good about it, just some delicious southern BBQ. SONY DSCThis darling little coffee shop was another favorite stop. It was very communal with lots of long tables and these amazing lamp shades and umbrellas hanging from the ceiling. What added to its charm was that it was nestled on a little block that had about 8 other neighborhood establishments. These kind of blocks are all over Atlanta and I’m kind of obsessed with them. Locally run stores are so inspiring to me, something about thriving business thats not apart of some big chain reminds me of the uniqueness of people and I really enjoy supporting them. SONY DSCI could really see myself spending some long hours in a coffee shop like this, and of course the coffee was very good as well! SONY DSCIf you don’t already know about my love for ice cream, you can check out this post. This trip turned into a bit of a battle of the ice cream stores. There is an ice cream store called Morelli’s that I have been obsessed with for a few years and my sister-in-law has been raving about a place called Jeni’s for months. I planned on making a trip to both while I was there. Shawndra also took me to a delightful little confection store called Kilwin’s and she happened to know the guy working at the time. Lets just say I might have sampled all 31 of their flavors and then had this giant bowl of ice cream you see above. It was delicious! We only made a quick stop at Morelli’s to pick up some ice cream for a girls night so unfortinalty I didn’t get any pictures. I have to say that Morellis is the reigning champ in my opinion, although my sister in law is appalled by this. SONY DSCI will say that Jeni’s was very charming and their ice cream was very good just not my kind of style. They had pretty eclectic flavors and some interesting combinations. I’m just more of a down-home kind of girl when it comes to my ice cream flavors. SONY DSC

I didn’t get any great pictures of the restaurant but this is us at one of my favorite restaurants, Murphy’s. The food is amazing and it has a great atmosphere. We basically shut the place down talking and eating delicious desserts. This night was definitely a highlight of the trip.

We make it to Atlanta fairly often so if you’re from Atlanta or have some places you love there, I would love to hear about them!

Basil Chicken Stir-Fry


SONY DSCThis easy stir-fry is a favorite in our house. It has really simple ingredients but the flavors all together are a hit. This is actually one of like three meals my husband learned to make on his own, so that is rock solid proof that it’s easy. And as usual, I like to make some short cuts that make this meal even quicker without compromising taste.
SONY DSCThe first thing I do is toss a few cut up chicken breasts in some corn starch, salt and pepper. This is what gives the meat that classic asian coating. It’s not as thick as breading but it gives it more texture and encourages browning. I don’t ever skip this step but you could if you didn’t have corn starch, it wouldn’t alter the taste that much.
SONY DSCNext I cut up an onion and red pepper. The recipe calls to partially cook the chicken first until its lightly brown. You then remove the chicken and cook the onion, pepper and garlic separate for a few minutes. This seems like a pain but I think it helps to make sure all of the ingredients are cooked properly and nothing is over done or under done. You obviously don’t want to eat raw chicken but you also want to make sure the onions and peppers still have a little bit of crunch to them.
SONY DSCAll in all, this meal usually takes about 20-30 minutes to make. On most nights I use minced garlic from a jar and dry basil instead of fresh. Those are things I will always have in stock and it two less ingredients I have to prepare and chop. If I’m making this meal for company I usually use all fresh ingredients but on a regular night, I just don’t have time for that, and it still tastes great! Below is the full recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks from Martha Stewart.

Ingredients

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 4) cut cross-wise into 1/4-inch-thick slices

1 tablespoon cornstarch

Coarse salt and fresh ground pepper

6 teaspoons vegetable oil

1 small onion, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4-inch-thick wedges

2 bell peppers (red, green or a mix) ribs and seeds removed, cut into 1/4-inch- wide strips

6 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup water

2 tablespoons rice-wine vinegar (unseasoned)

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 1/2 cups fresh Thai Basil, larger leaves torn in half*

Cooked rice for serving (optional)

* I have never made this recipe with Thai basil, I can’t ever find it. Regular basil will do just fine.

Instructions

1. Pat chicken pieces dry with paper towels. Toss chicken with cornstarch until completely coated; season generously with salt and pepper.

2. In large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high. Cook half the chicken, turning once, until browned on both sides but not completely cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with another 2 teaspoons oil and remaining chicken, transfer to plate.

3. Wipe skillet clean with a paper towel. Add remaining 2 teaspoons oil, along with the onion and bell peppers; cook over medium-high heat, tossing often until vegetables begin to brown, about 3 minutes. Add garlic; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.

4. Add water, vinegar, soy sauce and chicken; cook, tossing, until chicken is cooked through, about 1 minute. Remove from heat. Stir in basil leaves. Serve over rice if desired.

 

Have a great weekend everyone!

Spice Up Your Life

SONY DSCOne thing I love about spring is spring cleaning. I’m one of those weird people that actually likes to clean. Especially when it involves some kind of organizational upgrade. It’s very therapeutic for me to organize things and slightly addicting. Once I pop I just can’t stop (that was for all you Pringle’s lovers out there). I decided that my spice storage needed an upgrade and that spiraled into organizing and cleaning the entire kitchen! I learned a day later that I might have overexerting my pregnant self a little bit, but I am definitely enjoying a very clean kitchen. I’m sure it will stay that way for at least a week…maybe.

SONY DSCThis is how my spice area started out. Along with not being very pleasing to the eye (we have glass cabinets so no hiding behind a closed door) it also wasn’t very efficient. Of course 90% of the spices have red caps  and so searching through these over stuffed bins is never a quick process. A few months ago a friend posted a picture of her lovely organized spices using cute labels and so from then on it was filed onto my very long mental to-do list.

SONY DSCAfter I realized that 50% of my spices were outdated, like really really outdated, I made a list of new spices I needed and then of course, I headed to Ikea. I’m a bit of an Ikea junky. Almost everything in our house is Ikea, from our bed to our rugs. Honestly it’s my frugal nature that keeps me going back. I know its not the best quality but its so cheap, I can’t keep from filling my cart up and then of course spending more money than I ever planned too. So in the end my Ikea trips don’t end up being very frugal. This trip was no different, but I did end up with at least one thing I actually went there for, the spice jars.

SONY DSCThe hardest part of this little project was finding the right labels. There are like a billion you can find online but not all of them had the option of adding spice names they didn’t have, or they had that option but I couldn’t figure out how to change the font. In the end I decided to print out these labels and just wrote in the names of the spices by hand. I think it gives it more of a personal touch though it was kind of a pain in the butt.

I’m so excited that spring is finally arriving, though it’s still can’t totally make up it’s mind here in DC because I’m pretty sure they are calling for snow tonight!! Oh well, I’m trying to focus on the fact that at some point it will be here to stay…for like two months until its summer! But I LOVE spring! Spring means parks, open windows, no coats and organizing spices of course! 🙂 Have you started any of your spring cleaning yet?

Canvas Animal Heads


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It was a project week for me. I don’t get to do stuff like this often and it was very fun channeling my inner painter. I have had these two canvases for months and actually bought them with a totally different plan in mind but I’m really happy with how it turned out.  I’m kind of obsessed with the animal head trend that’s happening in interior design right now. You know the animal heads that are not real animal heads but mounted like ones and all white or gold. Love them. I’ll walk you through my process for making the paintings, but just warning you, this will not be a super detailed “how-to”.
SONY DSCOnce I found the images I wanted to replicate, I sketched a much larger version onto some sticker paper. I’m really not that great of a drawer so this was probably the most tedious part for me. It took a lot of time to get it just right since I was free-handing it. Once I was satisfied, I cut out the image from the sticker paper and put it on the canvas. Unfortunately it really didn’t stick as well as I thought it would, but it was enough to get the job done. After that, I just painted over it carefully.
SONY DSCAfter the paint dried a little, I peeled the sticker paper off to reveal the white canvas underneath. Since the sticker paper wasn’t as effective as I hoped, there were lots of areas that needed to be cleaned up. I then painted the white canvas area with white paint. This let me clean up any edges where paint got under and make it a brighter white. And that’s it.
SONY DSCI made these for the walls in the play room/office. The room is almost entirely windows so I really wanted something for the small space that was available, to bring a little color in the room. I think it was a success! Have you done any fun projects recently?

J’s On My Feet


SONY DSCMichael Jordan’s shoes are no stranger to our household, however it’s my husband owns all 500 pairs of them (before you jump to conclusion, 500 is an exaggeration-its more like 300). He kind of inspired me to try something new so I asked for a pair for my birthday (which hilariously hasn’t even past yet, it was a VERY early birthday present). I wore this look on a date night a few weeks ago and thought it was so fun.

SONY DSCThere are a lot of items I really love in this look. This is actually the first time I wore this faux leather blazer. I bought it several months ago at Target but could just never make it work with anything. Of course my trusty grey t-shirt made an appearance and my wrist was full of bracelets. The jeans are really old but I also got them at Target. Side note- you can’t tell in these pictures but my pregnant belly no longer fits these jeans, it’s all maternity jeans from here on out for me.

SONY DSCThe thing I love most about these shoes is how great they look with bold red lips. My husband hates when I wear lipstick so I try to make it rare but nothing brings out the color in these J’s like some red lipstick. Its like they were made for each other. Am I right? Well I’m certainly not the first girl to wear some J’s but it was a first for me and I don’t think it will be the last. I won’t be wearing these everyday, but I think they are a great addition to my closet. Its fun to try things you might not normally wear. Have you added anything new to your closet lately?

Birchbox Favorites


SONY DSCHave you ever heard of Birchbox? I hadn’t before I started reading blogs. Basically its a monthly perscription for beauty products. Every month they send you a little box with 5 samples of beauty products ranging from lip gloss, to nail polish, to eye liner and much more. Its only 10 bucks so I decided it would be fun to try out. I’m not really big on beauty products. I don’t spend hours in Sephora or Ulta. I usually stick to brands you could find at any CVS and when I find something I like, I stick with it. One of the things I love about Birchbox is that it introduces me to products I would probably never try or seek out. One of the things I don’t like about Birchbox is that the products are usually on the more expensive side (at least for my standards). I have really enjoyed the products each month but it take a lot for me to like it enough to order it in the future. A lot of bloggers will review the Birchbox each month but I think it made more sense for me to give you the highlights over these couple months since there are only a few items I will really stick with.

1. Benefit Ultra Plush Lip Gloss (in Sugar bomb): I don’t wear lip gloss a lot, mostly because my husband hates it but when I do wear it I go for something subtle. I love this gloss, its not sticky and the color is subtle but really pretty. I haven’t bought the full size yet and I might not ever, not because I don’t love it, but because lip gloss lasts me a LONG time.

2. Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel: I have never used a peel regularly but this peel is the bomb. I love putting it on before I take a bath and really let it set in. My skin honestly feels differently after I take it off. It feels clean, tighter and blemishes or redness are less visible. I did order the full size and just got it in the mail this week. It is definitely on the expensive side but since it is something I would only be using 1-2 times per week, I’m hoping it will last me a long time. Also, when it comes to taking care of your skin, I’m more likely to spend the money. I don’t wear a lot of make up and when my skin is looking great, I can wear even less.

3. Marcelle BB Cream Golden Glow: I almost never wear foundation and so when the BB cream craze came around I tried a few but never found anything I really liked but I love this Marcelle product. It gives you pretty good converge and it feels more like tinted moisturizer, super light. Its also more than I would usually spend but I have used the sample so much I think it might be worth it for me. I got this product in my very first box and I am still using the sample size so I think when I do order it, it will last me a while.

4. Beauty Protector, Protect & oil: This is by far my most favorite product. It is one of few products I fell in love with the very first time I used it. I decided right away I would order the bottle. I had been searching for a smoothing cream or oil for the ends of my hair because my ombre dye has really dried out my ends. This stuff made my hair silky and beautiful. You can use it on wet hair before you use the hair dryer (which is good since it is a heat protectant) but you can also use it on dry hair as well. I am obsessed! It also helps that it smell like a candy store! I highly recommend it.

Do you have any favorite products? I would love to share some of my other every day favorite products, let me know if its something you would want to hear about.

D is for Dragon

SONY DSCWhen I was pregnant with our first little person, I went through a serious crafting phase. I was so excited to decorate the nursery and did a lot of DIY projects for the room. You can see the whole room on this post, but I thought I would highlight one of my favorite projects a little closer. I got inspired by various pictures on Pinterest to do some kind of alphabet wall and once I got to the craft store, the vision just came to me! I picked up some wood letters, some paint and a few pieces of foam paper. My favorite part about this project was coming up for the word I would use for each letter. Some of them were super easy like A, (duh, A is for apple, A is always for apple) but letters like N and V were harder and required a little more creativity. I decided to do the whole alphabet but I think it would be really cute to do the letters of your kids name.

fourlettersThe hardest part of this project was trying to figure out how I wanted to display them on the wall. The first way I tried was to glue them to a rope and hang them like a banner but that didn’t really work out. I ended up displaying them in a few different frames, you can see one of them below. There were so many different possibilities it was hard to choose so, when my son accidentally damaged one of the frames recently, it is giving me a chance to try a different display. I haven’t gotten around to it yet, but I’ll try to update when I do.

SONY DSCSeriously, this was a super fun and inexpensive craft. The letters I chose were a dollar a piece, though I’m sure they have cheaper ones too. I had a ton of paint already but probably bought 4 or 5 more colors and the foams sheets were about a dollar a piece as well. The whole thing probably cost about 40 bucks. Of course it would be cheaper if you didn’t do the whole alphabet. I really love how it turned out. I don’t think I will be crafty like this for baby number two. Well, maybe I’ll think of something. Any ideas?