Monday, November 17, 2014

Loafin' Around

Was a bit of a house bum this weekend. Sometimes I just need some nesting time at home where I cook, read, watch TV, joke around with the hubs, possibly skip a shower, etc. This was one of those weekends. And it was Ribfest weekend, too. I usually never skip Ribfest. But the hubs and I just weren't feeling it. We also live an hour away from downtown St. Petersburg so that might have had something to do with it. But... my company finally signed the lease on our building in Tampa. And it will shave 14 miles off my commute. It's a much more manageable 21 mile one-way commute and the move-in will happen sometime in February.

As you may recall from this post, I broke down and bought a Le Crueset 4.5 quart dutch oven. Best. Kitchen. Cookware. Purchase. Ever! Seriously. This thing rocks. Nothing sticks to it. And one of the main reasons I got it was to try this recipe. Yeah, I know. Pretty expensive pot for one recipe. I've also cooked a couple of chicken dishes in it this past week. So it's definitely getting used. I wasn't sure if I could pull off this bread recipe but once I took the lid off after baking for 30 minutes, I did an Elaine dance and exclaimed to hubby, "I'm a hipster artisan bread maker!"  Now if only I liked kale.

Okay so this bread is really crusty and chewy but quite tasty. And I'm wondering if a little bit of sugar would enhance the taste even more. Here are some tips. Make sure to really flour the surface, follow the directions, and don't overmix the dough. Oh and if you have cats and decide to go to Walmart, don't leave the bread on the counter, in a Ziplock gallon-sized bag. Cause the bastard cats will tear into it and leave the remnants all over the kitchen floor and then look up at you when you come home and stick their tongue out at you.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

New Mall, Old Tricks

Meant to get this post up on Monday but life sometimes gets in the way, work gets busy, and shit happens. Ehhh. So I write and post when I can. It may not be every week, but I'll try and post when interesting things happen. My husband and I have joined a Meetup group and we've been playing Trivia at Buffalo Wild Wings on Wednesday nights and a new place right around the corner from our house last night. Tomorrow I'm going to a wine tasting with this group. It's also the group my husband plays poker with. For the most part, they are good people who just want to get out and do things. Same with us. It's kind of nice getting comfortable with new friends.

I had another busy weekend. On Saturday, I met my friend Christy for lunch and a day of shopping. We met up at Seasons 52, which was really delicious. Can't believe it's the same owners of Olive Garden and Red Lobster. And don't get me wrong, I love me a little American Italian and some endless shrimp. Our main goal was to check out a new mall almost halfway between our two homes (she lives in Ft. Myers). We've been waiting a year for this mall to open and I think if Tampa didn't have International Plaza, this mall would have really rocked my world. But most of the stores could be found in Tampa. There were a couple of new stores I've never seen before, such as a soap shop and olive oil shop. And I totally didn't realize I captured Christy in this pic until I went to edit it.


At Seasons 52, we started off with a special of "flights and flats" - a pretty good deal of a wine flight, a full pour, and a flatbread for $15. I had the garlic chicken and Christy had the artichoke and goat cheese.

We then moved on to scallops over lemon and butternut squash risotto and braised beef tacos (Christy said they tasted like ones she had in Mexico). We even threw in a little red mole tater tots. It all was so delicious.

We ended our fun, drunken, I'm-prepared-to-shop-now lunch with mini dessert of caramel and chocolate and a little birthday wish.

And a few more pics of the new UTC mall.

I will say it was nice to have Williams Sonoma, Crate and Barrel, and Pottery Barn all next to each other. And I found the most amazing kitchen island in Crate and Barrel. But with a price tag of $1300, it's just out of my price range.

So I found one online that's pretty similar that will probably be mine after the holidays. Our Ikea Stenstorp got pretty beat up between the two moves and I'm not really wanting to sand it down and repaint it. How's this for a close second? And $400! Ahh, marble. My master kitchen plan - marble, marble, marble.

Christy and I didn't get through all of the new mall before we realized how much we wanted to go outlet shopping (I blame our thrift store days from when we were kids - we loved going "thrifting"). So we headed about 10 minutes north to Ellenton Outlet Mall where I purchased my very first Le Creuset 4.5 quart round French oven. These things are super expensive and quite the investment with a lifetime warranty. Luckily there was a 50% off table of clearance/discontinued items. I bought my new favorite piece for a third of the original cost. I'm in love! I've already made a mustard chicken thigh dish that I found on Pinterest. Husband loved the dish. And the cleanup - just soak for 10 mins and all food comes off. Amazing! Next up, Pinterest easy bread recipe. I did have to buy a new knob because the one it came with could only go into a 375 degree oven. I needed a knob that could handle 500 degrees.

And then this little baby came home with me, too. Ooooppsie. And I noticed something walking into Kate Spade vs. Michael Kors. The Kate Spade store seems very classy and put together. The prices were amazing (40% off + another 25%), whereas the Michael Kors store seemed cluttered and cheap. And their prices weren't much different than retail. I just don't understand how this brand got so big and overrated. Some of their stuff is nice, but I'll take a Kate Spade bag any day over Michael Kors.


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Monday, November 3, 2014

Fancy Flea, Swans, and Saturday Markets

First - a shout out to my childhood friend, Christy. Happy Birthday. See you Saturday for our girl day.

Okay, how was your weekend? I had a very full one. Met my mom yesterday at the International Plaza so she could partake in my 40% off MAC discount. Yep, turns out if you take a 6-week makeup course and pay the $35 annual fee, you are considered a makeup artist and get the discount. Pretty sweet deal.

On Saturday, I headed to Plant City for the Fancy Flea, a large shabby chic outdoor market held at the Strawberry Festival fairgrounds. Pretty much the only time I've been to Plant City is for the Strawberry Festival, which has completely changed over the years to become a nightmare, crowded fair with rides and obnoxious teens. It used to be really cute where you would stand in line for homemade strawberry shortcake and head to the animal pens where all the farmer kids would show off their 4H prize winning cows, etc. Yeah, I know nothing about farming and 4H. But the little piggies were always fun to watch.

So as you saw in my last post, I'm a pretty big shabby chic fan and this was just heaven and temptation for me. Luckily, I used my head and only spent the cash I had on hand. Here are some shots from a very windy and cold day (well, cold for Florida - 56 degrees).

And here are my purchases:

The white ceramic tray is part of a little coffee bar I'm putting together on the other side of the kitchen. The dog hook will hold Cookie's leash and the little bottles in a mini crate - well I'm just addicted to cute, little old fashion bottles.  I displayed all of these items on my AWESOME marble slab that came last week. Makes me REALLY want to save up for marble countertops. REALLY. I love, love, love the look.

I then headed about 10 miles east to Lakeland to meet my sister and her mom-in-law. They discovered a small Saturday Morning Market that serves beignets from a food truck. Unfortunately, they weren't there on Saturday but a two-story antique store (Lakeland is full of them) and a scrap book store was. My sister and her MIL are huge scrapbookers. I AM NOT. I do other arts and crafts but 'crapping is not my thang.

While driving through downtown Lakeland, I discovered how really cute and quaint it is. It's really not a town that I've explored before, even though it's 30 minutes from my house. Best part... wait for it...

SWANS!!! I love swans. They aren't common in Florida and I miss seeing them around the Long Island shore near my Connecticut house. There were white ones, gray ones, and black ones. And they weren't mean like the ones up north.

Apparently they all congregate on Lake Morton, as well as other lakes in Lakeland. Not sure how they don't get eaten by alligators, but it's totally cool that these guys are here.

Before heading to Hobby Lobby (I know about the controversy - don't judge. I still eat at Chic-Fil-A, too, regardless of their beliefs on homosexuality. Honestly, I don't care about company beliefs. Chic-Fil-A makes great chicken. Period.), we devoured those insanely good rolls from Texas Roadhouse. We don't have a Texas Roadhouse in our immediate area. We then rolled on over to Hobby Lobby where I found a great little wood and wire basket unit for the coffee bar. Love it!

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014


So I left the blogging world for awhile. Needed a break. Not sure if I'm coming back regularly to the blog but I'll update it from time-to-time. In the meantime, you can follow my Pinterest boards if you'd like. I'm on there daily, pinning inspirations (not the same as perspiration). And because of my wacky work schedule so I can beat traffic (we move into a new building 10 miles closer in Feb), I have abandoned my blow dryer and flat iron and have finally embraced my naturally curly hair. Ta-da!

Let's see... when I last left off, we had a new rescue puppy. Well, she's all grown up and in college now. Pre-med. She weighs around A-FREAKING-LOT. My guess is around 25-30lbs. She's super hyper and whiny when she has to be crated, or in this case, a large pen situated in our dining room. But we love her so much. She is such a good girl and so lovey. She adores other dogs and tolerates cats. Putting cat heads in her mouth makes her feel pretty happy.


And that's my segue into our other rescue story. We had a very busy summer. My sister adopted a cat for my nephew and not wanting to be outdone by my baby sister, I asked the hubs if we could also get a cat. Not wanting to be outdone by his sister-in-law, he exclaimed, "Let's get 2!" So yes, we ended up adopting two cats from St. Francis Rescue in the Tampa Bay area.

I now present to you Mr. Nutmeg and Sir Fender (or Fen Fen, but not Phen Phen cause that was outlawed).

And here's what the little bastards have done to our beadboard wallpaper THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE HOUSE.

I'm slowly replacing every inch of it with the real stuff. I really need a nail gun and compressor to finish the walls.

And how are the home improvements coming, you may ask? Well I started tackling the kitchen again. I'm putting an industrial/shabby chic spin on it. I know it's not for everyone, but I really wanted open shelving so that everything is out in the open. Our round ceiling pot rack wasn't working. Unfortunately, we have low ceilings and I needed to find a solution that would work. So I tore out the upper cabinets on one side of our kitchen, filled in the holes in the drywall, spackled, sanded, painted, and hung our new stainless steel Ikea shelves.

I also started ripping off the yucky, greasy, decade old (or more) thermofoil on the base cabinet doors. I primed the doors and painted them in Benjamin Moore Simply White. Inside the cabinets, I added some pull out Rev-a-Shelf chrome inserts for spices and pot lids. I also added some Ikea dividers in one cabinet for baking pans.

We actually discovered a ceiling exhaust hole when I removed the upper cabinets over the stove and was elated for about a day cause I could finally have a European exhaust hood and call myself fancy pants. But because of a prior kitchen upgrade, the base cabinets were shifted so the hood would be off center. And to add more insult to my wounds, once again the ceilings are too low. So I dragged my arse to Lowe's and looked for a cover. Ended up getting an air conditioner return as I couldn't find any exhaust hood covers.

The butcher block will be going away. It was a cheap Ikea $10 block but is starting to warp. A 16x20 marble pastry slab is coming thanks to a major sale and free shipping at Sur la Table. And I'd like to replace the cutting board with one that is thicker and raised off the countertop.

I think one of the best things I did was relocate my office chalkboard down to one of the kitchen walls. We scribble grocery list items and then I take a pic of it with my phone right before I head to the store. No more little lost papers. Oh and side note, don't ever ask a young Staples kid where chalkboard erasers are unless you want this answer, "Chalkboard? I haven't used one of those since I was a kid." Whatever, just show grandma where to find it.

And yes, that vent is held on by tape. Those vent covers are $100!

And since we are now a family of six and I'm feeding the animals three different kinds of dry food, I headed to Tarjay for more Heritage glass jars and Etsy for distressed mini *gasp* chalkboards.

And lastly, we have updated 3 out of 4 of our appliances. New mini microwave on a shelf so that the European toaster oven can once again be used (it hadn't been used since moving from Connecticut), a new GE range, and a new Whirlpool dishwasher. I'll be doing more updates next year (after the holidays). I'm consulting with a cabinet maker for butcher block countertop installation and a new sink! Then we'll invest in a new fridge. At that point, I think I'll be done with this room.

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