Monday, April 2, 2012

Welcome to the Jungle

Since I recently blamed my lack of posting on yardwork, it's only fair that I show you what we've been up to.

It's hard to appreciate just how overgrown our yard was if you've never seen it in real life, but hopefully the glorious iPhone pics below will give you some idea of what we were faced with.

The house had been vacant for many years before we purchased it, so in addition to all of the fixing that the INSIDE needed, the OUTSIDE was it's own special challenge.

It's kind of like The Secret Garden. BEFORE Mary showed up.

We are in no way "finished" (and I doubt we will ever be- or so we are told), but thanks to Husband's dedication and genuine fondness of yardwork (I know - I'm a lucky gal), we've gone from this:

Anybody back there??

to this:
Hey look, you can see stuff!

And this:

to this!

Oh, and also this:

Much better, yes?

Next up is adding a patio (which I am MOST excited about), where I can happily sip this:

Homemade Strawberry Lemonade - recipe coming soon!

curled up in one of these:


Sidebar: These pics are all of the back yard. The front yard isn't quite camera-ready yet.

Happy Monday!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Spicy Shrimp Cakes

Just when I thought I was on a blog-posting roll, I disappear for three weeks. I blame it on yardwork. And also Daylight Savings Time. How is it that one measly hour can make me feel like I've lost a week of my life?

Anyway. Turns out I STILL don't know how to use our new camera (remember when I promised some "almost-after" shots here?). I took about a hundred pictures of our kitchen two weeks ago (on a lovely day with great lighting!) and they're all terrible. I know I'm being ridiculous, but I'm just not ready to post about the kitchen that I love with pictures that I hate! So instead....


New recipe!

I've been a little Panko-happy lately (see Risotto Cakes), and thought it would be fun to try making shrimp or crab cakes. I've never made either. Plus, they seem summer-y. And I'm VERY anxious for summer.

There are lots of yummy-looking recipes out there, but this one was the winner. You'll notice that my shrimp cakes are sans corn & avocado salsa. That's because I opted for ready-made guacamole from Whole Foods (because it's the BEST) and Pace Chunky Salsa (because I'm LAZY). Next time, I will definitely make the fresh salsa - I'm sure it's delish, and probably a better compliment to the spicy cakes. But my garnishments weren't too bad either. According to my guinea pigs (thanks Heather and Pete!), this recipe is a keeper.

Spicy Shrimp Cakes with Corn and Avocado Salsa

Cooking Light, November 2006



Shrimp Cakes:
  • 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • 3 tablespoons reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons hot sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3/4 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs), divided
  • 1 cup frozen white corn, thawed 
  • 3/4 cup diced peeled avocado
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped seeded poblano pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  1. To prepare cakes, place shrimp in a food processor; pulse 10 times or until finely chopped. Set aside. NOTE: I used fresh shrimp from Whole Foods. At their suggestion, I blanched the shrimp in boiling water for approximately 45 seconds, then dumped in an ice bath. I let them cool completely before pulsing (otherwise, they would get mushy in the food processor and ruin the texture).
  2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add bell pepper to pan; sauté 3 minutes. Add garlic to pan; sauté for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Place bell pepper mixture in a large bowl. Add shrimp, green onions, and the next 6 ingredients (through egg), stirring well. Stir in cilantro and 1/4 cup panko.
  3. Divide shrimp mixture into 10 equal portions, shaping each portion into a 1/2-inch-thick patty. Dredge both sides of patties in remaining 1/2 cup panko. Chill at least one hour.
  4. Heat pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add 5 cakes to pan; cook 4 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove from pan; cover and keep warm. Repeat procedure with remaining cakes. NOTE: I also used a drizzle of olive oil in the pan, just to help the cakes get crispy and golden.
  5. To prepare salsa, combine corn and remaining ingredients; stir gently. Serve immediately with shrimp cakes.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Tolix Chair

I think I'm a couple years late to the Tolix Chair party, but I've been seeing them everywhere lately and I LOVE them.

The chair on its own would normally be a little too industrial for my taste, but paired with a rustic farm table, it's perfection.

Husband has promised to make me a lovely dining table for our porch, out of some old doors from the house. My next step is to convince him how PERFECT these chairs would look with it.




Am I right??

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Taste of Homewood

I must give a quick plug for one of my favorite foodie events of the year - the 2012 Annual Taste of Homewood, hosted by the Homewood Chamber of Commerce. This year's event will take place February 23rd from 5:30pm-8:30pm at Rosewood Hall, SoHo. Participants include local favorites like DoDiYo's, Demetri's BBQ, Lovoy's, Pastry Art, Urban Cookhouse and more! Good People Brewery will be on hand to share their fantastic beers, in addition to local wine vendors.

Be sure to check out the website for more details and ticket info. Don't miss it!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Mushroom, Sausage and Sage Risotto

I'm kind of obsessed with risotto (or all things Italian and full of carbs), and have wanted to try making it for a loooooong time. But I've been intimidated by the somewhat laborious process - my easily-distracted mind is not well-suited to standing in one place and stirring constantly for 30 minutes.

I realize that it is typically unwise to try a brand-new recipe for a special naturally, I chose Valentine's Day as the perfect time to give risotto a shot. If things turned disastrous, we could just order pizza. Everybody wins!

I scoured my cookbooks for a recipe, and found one that I knew Husband would love. I proudly showed him a picture of the Italian Sausage and Mushroom Risotto from William-Sonoma's Weeknight Fresh and Fast cookbook (which I LOVE, btw) and said, "This is what I'm making you for Valentine's Day!!". He kind of frowned and said, "Is that the weird rice?".


Anyway, long story short, it turned out KIND of amazing and I am super-excited to share it. I didn't exactly follow the recipe verbatim - I changed the order a little bit, based on directions that I read in other risotto recipes. I also used Jimmy Dean's Sage Sausage, instead of Italian, because Publix was out (blast!). You could get probably get really fancy and use Italian sausage with fresh sage and get equally delicious results. In case it's not obvious, I adore sage.

Mushroom, Sausage and Sage Risotto  
adapted from Weeknight Fresh and Fast, Williams-Sonoma

  • 5 cups chicken broth 
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 8 oz baby bella mushrooms (aka criminis), sliced
  • 16 oz sage-flavored sausage (I used Jimmy Dean)
  • 1/2 cup vermouth or dry white wine
  • 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan, plus more for garnish
  • Italian parsley, for garnish
  1. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and brown 5-8 minutes, breaking apart with a wooden spoon. Remove from pan and drain on a plate lined with paper towels. Return pan to heat and add mushrooms (adding a little more olive oil, if needed). Add a pinch of salt to mushrooms and saute until brown, about 10 minutes. Set aside.
  2. Bring chicken stock to a boil in a large pot, then reduce to simmering and keep warm over low heat.
  3. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until onion is soft and translucent (but not brown), about 5-8 minutes minutes. Add the rice and stir until the rice is opaque, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add 1/2 cup vermouth or wine to rice and onion. Cook, stirring constantly, until the vermouth or wine has been absorbed, about 2 minutes.
  5. Add 3/4 cup of the warm chicken stock, and stir until it is absorbed by the rice. You may want to adjust the heat here - the mixture should simmer and cook slowly. Continue to add the broth about 3/4 cup at a time, stirring continuously with each addition, until the liquid is almost absorbed by the rice. The entire process should take approximately 25-30 minutes. Start tasting around 20 minutes, to check the texture of the rice. When finished, it should be tender and creamy, but still firm to the bite (al dente). NOTE: An iPod and a glass of wine are a good idea during this step.
  6. Stir in drained sausage and mushrooms. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  7. Stir in 1/2 cup parmesan cheese.
  8. Transfer to serving bowls; garnish with parsley and more parmesan. Serve immediately.

 Bonus: Make risotto cakes with the leftovers. DELISH.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Addicted to Pinning

My bedtime ritual used to go something like this:

1. Look at the clock and say, "If I'm asleep in 10 MINUTES, I can get ---- hours of sleep!" (I refuse to admit how many that is, just know that it's more than the average person needs each night - or so my friend Heather tells me).
2. Get in bed and read, usually far longer than however many minutes I needed to be asleep in to achieve desired rest.

NOW it goes something like this:
1. Look at the clock and say, "If I'm asleep in 10 MINUTES, I can get ---- hours of sleep!"
2. Get in bed and play on Pinterest.

It's not like this is a new thing - many of us have been obsessed with Pinterest for months. I pretty much feel like this on a daily basis:

 Anyway, Pinterest has been an endless source of ideas and inspiration for the house, for everything from decorating and cooking to DIY projects that I can't wait to screw up try.

Here are a few of my faves:

For the breakfast nook
To eat whilst sitting in breakfast nook

For the bedroom

For the one-day-baby

For the one-day-baby's nursery/guest room

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have 20 minutes of pinning to do before...well, you get the idea.  

Monday, February 13, 2012

It's My Kitchen and I'll Cry If I Want To

I'm pretty sure at some point I promised some backstory on the evolution of the kitchen. Let's start with the cabinets. Funny story. it's funny.

I originally wanted white beadboard cabinets with a subway tile backsplash...


...clean, yet cottage-y. After many weekend brunches at Home Depot, and a whole lot of back and forth between cabinet styles, colors, configurations, etc., I finally placed an order for Thomasville Ashton in Maple Pearl (white) and waited anxiously for them to arrive. Four weeks later, I excitedly tore open a box and saw........


Thomasville Cottage. As in, NOT beadboard.

My binder of house things was at my office (it was a Saturday), so I made Husband drive me across town to pick it up so I could confirm that HD screwed up.

Until I opened the binder and realized I signed off on (you guessed it)...Cottage.

Cue meltdown of epic proportions.

Two hours of ugly crying later, we discussed our options. Even though I CLEARLY remembered telling my designer that I had decided on the Ashton, somehow Cottage ended up in the actual order (as I said, there was a lot of back and forth - I'm terribly indecisive). So we decided we could either pay restocking and shipping fees to send back the Cottage and get the Ashton (which Husband was graciously willing to do - I think my meltdown scared him a little), OR I could put on my big girl panties and deal with it.

We chose the latter.

So our new kitchen inspiration became this:

Keep the shaker-style cabinets, lose the subway tile and switch to beadboard backsplash

And also this:

Love the combination of open shelving with glass-front doors
The mistake ended up being a blessing (kinda). The beadboard backsplash was easier to install than individual subway tiles (not to mention easier on our budget), and we could still achieve the same look. Plus, I learned the importance of READING EVERYTHING A BILLION TIMES BEFORE SIGNING OFF ON IT.

So as a reminder, here is what we started with:

And here is the in-between:

Are we having fun yet???
*Note: Husband got sheets of unfinished beadboard paneling and trim from Lowe's,
then sanded and painted it to match the cabinets. 
Please excuse the quality of the photos. Seems I took 98% of our "progress" shots with my iPhone. In poor lighting.

Good news, though. We recently got what I like to call a "big-girl" camera (YAY!), so I'm going to refrain from posting cruddy pics for a few days while I learn how to use it, and then I'll share some fabulous almost-finished kitchen shots. :)

Happy Monday!