Wednesday, April 28, 2010

You'd think I'd be sick of Williamsburg by now...

...but no.  Never gonna happen.

Yesterday, my work peeps and I got out of the office and stepped back 250 years into the American Revolution.  We went to Colonial Williamsburg to play tourists for the day.  It's good for our mental health to get the hell out of dodge every once in a while.

Initially, I was so excited to go down for the day because I knew that we had a 3 day meeting starting today.  I had bit plans to hang out with the team for the day, then make my own mental health afternoon by doing some damage at the Yankee Candle flagship store, the outlets, and perhaps even hang out in Sunken Garden reading my Amish book. 

And then, I read my Biology syllabus.


What was scheduled last night?  Yep, an exam.  Can't skip an exam, no matter how comfortable you are in Sunken Garden.

There went my plans.  Too bad.  But I still had a ton of fun walking DoG street yesterday.  We toured Bruton Parish, the Governor's Palace, the Thomas Everard House, and all the little shops.  We were all over the place, back and forth, across the street, up, down, are my feet tired!  Here are some pics from the day:
Todd, the squirrel tamer...

...and Mark, the loner

I was dumb, and didn't get a group shot, but if I did, it would have been us surrounding one of the many Union Jack flags around town, all giving 2 thumbs down.  Franklin brought up a good point:  If we came here to flee England and their oppression, why'd we display their flag all over the place? 

Strawberry salsa

Last night, on the way home from Williamsburg, I took advantage of the fact that I was driving through the northside and stopped at my favorite roadside stand on 301.  It's past all the congestion, but not quite in the country.  I wish I could describe it better, but just drive north on 301 and you'll see it and all its awesomeness.

I saw all the locally grown vegetables, strawberries, and honey, among a ton of other things, and instantly thought about this strawberry salsa I made last summer.  I was scared when I first made it, because I wasn't sure how fruit salsa would taste with tortilla chips.  We had made mango salsa and served it with fish the prior Thanksgiving, but my mind couldn't wrap itself around the concept of salsa made out of fruit, combined with chips.  But we tried it anyways.  It was a hot, summer weekend and Dave's parents love it when we try out new recipes on them. 

So, I picked up all the ingredients that I needed to make the salsa, except cilantro, and packed them all in my Virginia Grown cute.  

I made the salsa tonight, and will be taking it to work tomorrow.  My work peeps should enjoy it, paired with the world's best tortilla chips - from Target!  Seriously, they are awesome.

If you'd like to try it, here's how I made it (I don't have a recipe, but just played around with it and it came out well):

1 small carton of strawberries, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
couple stalks of green onions, chopped
2 teaspoons of red pepper flakes
2 tbsp cilantro, minced
1 tomato, chopped and de-seeded
salt and pepper

combine all the dry ingredients

whisk together 3 tbsp each honey and lemon juice and pour over the dry ingredients

Here's how it turned out tonight:

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Pineapple cupcakes

The plan was pineapple upside down cupcakes, but I bought pineapple chunks instead of pineapple rings.  So I changed the plan to just pineapple cupcakes.  I used my usual recipe for vanilla cupcakes and folded mashed pineapple in as the last step.  I added buttercream frosting, with a little pineapple juice for taste, and a cherry on top!

I call this a partial fail, due to laziness.  Not because they taste bad, because they're tres tasty, but because of how they look.  I didn't feel like getting out the piping bag tonight, so I used the good ole cake spreader method. 

Dave's taking some to work tomorrow, as am I, and 4 of them are already gone. 

On a mission

Even though we're not taking the plunge and creating a dining room out of our current library/reading room, I still want to make it over so it's more inviting and cozy.  Even if it doesn't have a new purpose, we need to use it more, and I hate it as it is.  It's cold and plain and cluttered...not a good combination.

Here's the plan to warm it up - cozy rug, wine storage/book shelves, cozy chair and ottoman, and accessories that will give it a 'collected over time' feel.  Warning - I'm not good at 'collected over time' unless that means over a 7 hour shopping trip.  I want it done NOW!

I found the bookshelves and wine storage solution - all in one piece!  This piece is from Crate and Barrel and is the perfect solution for our dual storage needs.  I know there are comparable shelving pieces out there, like this one from JCPenney, that are way cheaper, but none of them have the bonus wine storage of this one.  Having all of our wine bottles and accessories in one place will move clutter from the kitchen to this more organized space. 
Now, we need to find $519 to make it happen!

Last weekend, Bonnie and I went on a mission to find the perfect rug, along with a mirror to go over my new laptop desk.  The mirror was a lost cause - but after several stops, we found the perfect rug when we weren't really looking.  I initially wanted a natural fiber rug, but they're itchy and they fray, and I'm not sure it would make the room warm, just beachy.  I tried to stick to my guns even though I knew Bonnie was right when she said they didn't look comfortable or cozy.  I was about to give up and stop looking when we saw some very traditional rugs on the clearance rack.  We saw one with the color of our new paint, Behr's restful, along with red, navy, and tan.  It's the perfect color palette for the new design.

The only bad thing was that it didn't have a price sticker, which (I thought) meant they'd just make up a price and I wouldn't know if it was fair or not, since it was the only one of its kind on the rack.  There was a similar one, that was larger, for $54, so I was hoping for $40 or so.  "Gooby," as his name tag displayed, looked up the item number and called a manager over without saying a word.  He showed her his screen, they exchanged some jargon I didn't care to understand, and she said, "How about fifteen?"  Um, I thought for about half a second and said "SOLD."  As if I thought they didn't get my message, I then said "PLEASE AND THANK YOU" like a little kid who is buying a $1 piece of candy, while smuggling another $50 worth under my shirt.

After finding my perfect rug, my search yesterday was for accessories and inspiration on how I want to tie everything together.  I decided to make it a bargain shopping day - so I visited Marshall's, TJMaxx, Ross, Home Goods, then Marshall's again - I'll explain that part in a bit.  I found so much cool stuff, but only came home with 3 pieces, plus one for Bonnie.

Is anyone actually reading this?

First stop:  Marshall's.  I found a lot of cool stuff, none of which I bought,except for some dish towels Bonnie's been looking for, and this patriotic wreath:

These blown glass vases must be really popular now, because they were everywhere, in all colors and sizes.  I think John and Sherry have a few, if I'm not mistaken.  Doesn't fit my style, but they're very beachy.

They also had a ton of pillows with the colors I want, but none of them grabbed me.

How cool is this cake stand - you can change the ribbon to match any theme or party!

These fake pears are pretty cool and traditional, but I didn't bring them home with me.  I still want them, and might go back for them.  I can see them in a vintagey wood bowl acting as a bookend on one of the bookshelves.

I found a mirror that looked a lot like one Bonnie and I saw last weekend, only it's smaller and only $12.99!  I left it behind, because I thought I wanted a round mirror, and as I foreshadowed, I went back to Marshall's at the end of the day.  Could this be what I went back for?

Next up:  TJMaxx.  I was disciplined here, as well, and only bought a $5 vase with a map of France modge-podged on it.  Don't tell anyone, but until Dave corrected me, I thought it was a map of Spain.  :)  This piece will help me achieve my old world collected over time feel...

I also found some better pillows, but I only want 1 since we just have an over-sized comfy chair in there, and 2 pillows would be too much.  But at $20 for the pair, I wasn't sold.

I found another awesome mirror, but it's too big and frilly, and a classic lamp, but I haven't thought about lighting needs yet, so I left them both behind.

I really like both of these candle holders, but they were $10 each.  If they were $5 I would have snatched one of them up.

Wow, it's time for a shopping break.  I got a sammich from McD's, and read my book in the car for a while.  I know that's nerdy, but it relaxed me.

Next up is Ross.  This store is brand new, and I was put off by the fact that it smelled like dirty bleach and Windex.  Blech.  So my trip here was quick.  I found a cool vase, but it had too much aqua in it:

I found this cool bronze vase set that could be used as bookshelf separators, too.  I'm not a fan of just a line of books on a shelf.  I like accessories separating groups of books to break it up.

Last find was this awesome conch shell bowl.  You could use it as a key or change bowl, or as a ring holder while you're in the shower, if you have a beachy bathroom?

Walked out empty-handed.  Sad.

Last stop, other than my loop back to Marshall's, was Home Goods.  I love this store.  Here's why:

Doesn't that just make you happy?  Also, doesn't it make you want to be very careful while wheeling a cart down this aisle?  :)  I love these jars with chalkboard labels.  These could be cool in a craft room for stamps or glue sticks or ribbon?

I only bought 2 things here.  This ceramic apple, which I thought was the perfect mate for my pineapple:

...and some cupcake napkins, just because they're cute.

Yep, you guessed it - after Home Goods I trekked back to Marshall's to pick up the mirror I saw there.  I couldn't find anything else that was more perfect, and its proportions and style mirror a wedding portrait we have on a wall nearby, so I picked it up.

Here it is, along with my apple, France vase, and awesome $15 rug!

Next up, paint the room, get rid of a lot of books, pick up the shelving, and get to work!

Friday, April 23, 2010

It's a comfort food night

It's been a really long week - glad it's over, but some comfort food was needed tonight!  I stole this from Sarah, over at Dream in Domestic, who stole it from RecipeZaar...

I changed it a little, but the concept is the same.  It's pretty much cheesy mac with beef, but the sour cream made it so creamy and delish!  I didn't layer it like Sarah, just mixed it all together like I do my ziti, without spices, and baked it just long enough for the cheese on top to melt.


I served it with slices from this little loaf of bread I found at Kroger.  Check it out - perfect size for 2 people, yet enough slices that you can splurge if you want, without still having to worry about using the rest the next day or wasting it. 

Nummy in my tummy.

Oh, and Dave did the cooking of the meat and noodles, and I swooped in a finished it off.  Teamwork!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Charming Charlie...

Back in November, a new store opened in Fredericksburg called Charming Charlie.  It's an accessories store, and I was bummed that Fred had something RVA didn't.  Jealous much?  I did some shopping there one day, and fell in love!  I got a ton of necklaces, bracelets, a sunglasses case, and a pair of earrings, and most pieces are less than $10 - it's not high-end stuff, more like what you'd find at Target or Kohl's, but way cheaper!

Well, guess what?  RVA has one now!  Yay!  It's at Regency Square, so I'm scared it won't be around for long.  Regency tends to make stores go bye-bye.  It's the mall people used to go to before Short Pump opened...kinda like Cloverleaf is the mall people used to go to before Chesterfield Towne Center opened.

My favorite thing about this place is how it's organized.  How many times have you gone to a jewelry store looking for a piece to match a specific outfit, but can't find the perfect piece in the right color?  It's like you have to know the style you want, and then hope to find the right color.  Charming Charlie has it all figured out - they organize the pieces by color!  If you want a pink bracelet, go to the pink section:

If you want a silver cross, go to the silver section and there's a whole rack of crosses, waiting to be worn!

If you want a purple necklace, well, you get it by now:

I guess keys are popular right now, because they had a ton:

I picked up a few pieces - 2 with turquoise, which I'm apparently into this season, and a necklace with a vintagey cameo:

Monday, April 19, 2010

One day........

80's movie day!

Yesterday was our 80's movie day - had some girls over to relive the pain and torture of the 80's, along with the awesome clothes and poofed hair! 

After perusing the internets for invitation and decorating options, I decided to go with a movie night theme rather than 80's because of availability and consistency of products available.  I could find awesome 80's plates, but no matching napkins, or vice versa, so I went with the popcorn/director's chair/slate board theme, with 80's favors and extra touches.

Here is the invitation I sent out - bought the paper and die-cut from a cute store in Short Pump, By Invitation Only.  They have a whole wall full of novelty paper that will work for just about any party and theme you could imagine!

I made favor bags, filled with retro candy, like Razzles, ring pops, candy necklaces, etc., and I threw in some jelly bracelets and a banana clip!  Couldn't find any slap bracelets, though - Bummer!  On the outside of the favor bags, I wrote some of my favorite movie quotes from 80's movies, like "I can't believe my grandmother actually felt me up!" from "16 Candles," and "Goonies never say die!" from (duh) "Goonies."  You can see them here with the snacks ready to be eaten!

Bonnie had the idea to put out some of my favorite 80's toys, so I went into my childhood box in the attic to get my favorite Cabbage Patch Kid, My Child, and Care Bear!  The attic is a mess now, but it was worth it.  I'll get everything back in its place soon.  Here are my friends:

When the girls got there, we caught up on the stories of the week with some 80's tunes rockin' on the stereo, while sipping Pinot Grigio Champagne or Diet Coke :)  and snacked on chips and salsa, and muenster cheese and pepperoni.  Sharon popped the champagne cork out on the deck, and we couldn't find the cork afterward!  Bummer, since Dave and I collect corks from bottles we polish off, though I suppose the neighbor's dog, Midnight, will find it eventually...

Then it was time to choose what we'd watch - beforehand I had gone through our movie collection, along with some DVD's Bonnie let me borrow for the party.  I wrote down all the 80's movies on little slips of paper and put them all in a popcorn bag...when a name was drawn, the rule was that we had to watch whatever movie was written down, unless the majority of us felt 'meh' about it...this rule allowed us to eliminate "Just One of the Guys" and "Summer Rental," which, although well-loved in my house, are both pretty obscure, and we moved on to bigger and better movies.

First up was "Say Anything," which is my almost favorite 80's movie, inferior only to "Pretty In Pink," and it goes a little something like this:
  • Lloyd, Lloyd ("all null and void") has a high school crush on the unattainable, smart, beautiful Diane Court
  • Diane Court has to look him up in the yearbook to see who he is after she accepts his party invitation
  • Diane realizes the boys she's gone out with in the past were everything she thought she wanted, but not what she needed
  • They fall in love, and she moves from being able to say anything to her dad, to her dad being investigated for tax fraud and her saying all those anythings to Lloyd,, Lloyd, all null and void.
  • He gives her his heart and she gives him a pen
  • They get back together as her dad goes to jail for said tax fraud
  • They fly off into the sunset, er, to London for college
  • The End
Here's the trailer:

And the pivotal scene, where, after 8 unreturned phone calls, Lloyd has no choice but to stand outside Diane's bedroom window with a boom box playing the song that was on the stereo after their first 'time.'

The pizza arrived just as the movie was ending (perfect timing, right?) and we took a little break.  Next, we watched "Mannequin," but quickly realized we only really wanted to see the montage where they traipse around the store in a million different outfits, and the wedding scene, where we finally heard the song we tried to recall for 20 minutes or so, but kept singing the prom song from "Pretty in Pink" instead.

After our fast forward tour of "Mannequin" we had dessert - strawberry shortcake on what else but Strawberry Shortcake plates!  I tried to find my Strawberry Shortcake in the attic, but she wasn't with the other toys, but the plates provided enough nostalgia to make us go 'awwwww...'

Once our bellies were full,  we chose another movie from the popcorn bag.  And the winner was- "Sixteen Candles:"
  • Samantha wakes up on the morning of her 16th birthday, hoping to have transformed overnight into a goddess who can bag Jake Ryan, which is the equivalent of me thinking I could bag Tug Coker when I turned 16
  • Her birthday is totally overshadowed by her sister's impending nuptials and her whole family forgets
  • She has various run-ins with 'the geek' that day at school
  • She goes to a dance, where she stares at Jake, to an embarrassing degree, and he notices
  • Jake asks 'the geek' about Samantha and they form a weird and mostly-unbelievable friendship - only in the movies, kids
  • The geek tells Jake that Samantha is into him, after Jake confesses that he's ready for a real girlfriend who wants to be with him because she loves him, not because he's the hottest guy in school
  • Almost as unbelievable as the friendship between Jake and the geek is when Jake goes to find Samantha and sweep her off her feet after her sister's wedding
  • He makes her a birthday cake and they share the most suspenseful lean-in-to-a-kiss scene we have ever watched on the big screen, much like the first Joey/Dawson kiss in season 1 of "Dawson's Creek"
  • The End
 Here's the trailer:

And the scene that made Ashley want to shoot someone - AUTOMOBIIIILE?:

It was a fun day!  I'm sad "Pretty in Pink" wasn't chosen from the popcorn bag, but I can watch Andie, Ducky, and Blaine's hi jinks another time!  Check out Ashley's costume - she was rockin' the 80's gear!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Got my laptop desk!

I finally picked up my laptop desk today and it's all set up to pay some bills!

I've been wanting this desk ever since a work off-site to the Capitol in February.  So after waiting a while to buy it and suffering through the process of picking it up (don't ask), I was so excited to finally get it home tonight.
Nice shoes

It has 2 drawers, and the desktop pulls out for a computer, or stationery for you old folks.

I put all my supplies used for paying bills in the drawers - we have an office set up upstairs, but since I usually pay bills in the living room, it makes more sense for these supplies to be down here, where I need them.  We'll leave the actual office for the computer and photography stuff, and files.  I feel like it's more practical this way, rather than getting annoyed that I have to go up to the office every time I need a stamp or envelope.  Also, I can keep bills that are ready to be mailed in the desk, rather than carrying them in my purse or leaving them out on the coffee table, which can look messy.

I put my label maker and checks in the awesome cubbies.  I'm sure I'll think of more things to store in the desk, but this is a good start.

On the bottom shelf, I put a basket full of maps to places we've been, and some we'd like to visit.  This way they're all in one place, and they're right by the front door so we can grab a Richmond map or antique guide on the way out the door.

Once I secured everything in its place and closed the lid of the desk, I set up the charging center on top.  Dave has a charging caddy that was in the library, but it's hidden behind the front door and hard to get to in a hurry out the door.  We have chargers for our cell phones and iPods set up right next to our wonderful $4 Pfaltzgraff  key bowl.  Since I wouldn't want to mess up the top of the desk, I added some tiny furniture pads to the bottom of the bowl to avoid scratches.

Once I set up the charging station and key bowl, I had to test it to make sure I'd get that CLINK that I've been craving...

Here it is all set up: