Sunday, January 31, 2010

Snow Day!

We had a relaxing weekend, with some much-anticipated snow! I didn't get any of the cleaning or decorating done for Mardi Gras... but had so much fun! Our days looked more like this:

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Purple, Gold & Green

We were fortunate enough to spend Mardi Gras last year in New Orleans with Jeff’s family – and had the best time! We had a Mardi Gras shower, went to tons of parades & parties, and got to spend time with all the Whittakers!

I loved that homes around the city were decorated for Mardi Gras, and have been planning to do the same at our house ever since… So now Fat Tuesday is just around the corner, and I’m making my plans to decorate this weekend. I’m attempting to make a wreath for the front door out of the beads we collected during that trip… Here are a few inspirations I’ve found:

These instructions for the Mardi Gras wreath with ornaments below will definitely be my template.

How cute are these signs! Click here for instructions on how to make your own at Embellished Bayou or visit their adorable Etsy shop. If I get overly ambitious, I may give one of these a try too... Or just do some Etsy shopping!

{images via Embellished Bayou}

Friday, January 22, 2010

To File for the Future

I'm going to chalk it up to all the new or expecting mothers on my favorite blogs… But lately I have been seriously diggin’ some nursery designs. I love it when rooms don’t have a distinctive ‘hey a kid lives here’ look… No thank you to a matching set of pink, flowered, child-sized furniture.

So needless to say, I’ve been loving these rooms.

{image via ?}

This room is so sweet for a little girl, but it avoids being overly 'cutesy.' Don't you love the floor-to-ceiling chalkboard in the narrow hall? And, of course, the bed and chandelier.


{image via Angie Hranowsky}

A lot of the rooms use neutral wall colors, and avoid pastel pink and blue for the color scheme... I love the window treatments in this one. Plus the daybed with the cribe (you can just see it in the corner here, but it is beautiful and functional)

{image via Martha Stewart Living}

I've seen a ton of vintage prints like these airplanes, and love the idea! They are usually pretty affordable, especially the ones on Etsy. (on another note, definitely check out the entire NYC apartment at the Martha Stewart link... proof that kid-friendly is still stylish)

{images via Desire to Inspire}

The boys' room is one of my favorites, because of all the bold pieces of furniture along with the little table.

{images via The Estate of Things> & design by Rhoney Design}

Love this nursery! I am especially loving the use of a vintage dresser for a changing table. Then it can be reused in the room, as the little one gets older.

Erika's nursery on Urban Grace has a similar look with a table repurposed from her dining room... Definitely a must to check out! The colors and fabric for the crib are stunning. I could keep raving about every detail in this one, so be sure to take a look.

Disclaimer: To my mom, this post is in no way an indication of announcements to come.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Listen to What Elly Says, part 2

As I mentioned, we substituted tzatziki sauce for the 'yogurt sauce' in Elly's lamb meatball dish. I would definitely recommend it (although I'm sure either way is delicious)

At first, I planned to use my Yiayia's recipe... Then I found what I had from her: Plain yogurt; Cucumber, peeled and grated; White wine vinegar; Lemon juice

Not a single measurement... So I found Elly's recipe, very similar and complete with actual measurements, here. I decided to cut this recipe in half, and it was still plenty for us. Again, any modifications to the original are in italics.

1 32oz. container of plain yogurt (I used Fage, a fat free Greek yogurt)
2 regular cucumbers, seeded (even though I cut everything else in half, I still used almost 2 cucumbers)
3-5 cloves garlic, crushed (I usually crush with the help of a little salt and extra virgin olive oil)
1-2 tsp white wine vinegar
salt and a little pepper
squeeze of fresh lemon juice (Elly lists this as optional, but I definitely added a hefty squeeze)
drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

Strain yogurt using a cheesecloth over a bowl (if you don’t have that, a strainer lined with a coffee filter will work) for several hours or overnight to get out as much moisture as possible. (Fage yogurt is already drained, so I skipped this step. Still think it came out great and not runny at all.)

Peel and seed the cucumber. Shred the cucumbers and then squeeze the life out of them to get rid of as much excess moisture as possible. I use a towel to do this, and you will get a lot of liquid so don’t skip this step! Yes, there is a lot of straining and squeezing–and it’s all important! You don’t want a runny tzatziki.

Mix together the strained yogurt, shredded cucumbers, garlic, vinegar and lemon juice (if desired). Salt to taste. It’s best to refrigerate for 30 minutes or more before serving, so flavors can meld.

Drizzle a little olive oil over the top. (I skipped this step too, since we were warming ours up to top the meatballs with... which by the way was delicious! I'd never had warmed tzatziki before & can't wait to use it in other recipes)

A lot of people put dill or mint in their tzatziki but I have never liked it as much that way. I’m a bit of a purist. My family always made it this way (without the dill/mint) and I much prefer it, but of course add herbs to your liking. (same for me, so we left this out)
{image via elly says opa!}

Listen to What Elly Says...

One of my favorite cooking blogs is elly says opa! I love it for all her recipes, but most especially for the wide variety of Greek recipes. I made a modified version of Spiced Lamb Meatballs with Tomato and Yogurt over Basmati Rice for dinner last night.

We both loved it! Jeff even ranked it as his second favorite dinner that I've ever made. The original recipe is below with my modifications in italics. It may seem like a lot of ingredients, but we had everything on hand, other than cucumbers. Maybe that is the Greek in me?

This delicious dish is high on our 'make again' list... Although, I think next time I'll go with lamb for the meatballs.

1 lb. ground lamb (we substituted lean ground beef, since we already had it)
1/2 small onion, grated or finely minced
1 clove garlic, finely minced or pressed
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 tsp. ground allspice
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
fresh ground pepper
olive oil for pan frying

Tomato sauce:
2 tsp. olive oil
1/4 cup diced onion
1 (15 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
heaping 3/4 tsp. oregano

Yogurt sauce: (we substituted Elly's recipe for tzatziki here)
1 clove garlic, minced
2/3 cup plain Greek yogurt

1 Tbsp. butter
1/4 cup diced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup brown basmati rice
2 cups chicken broth
2 Tbsp. toasted pine nuts (although we had pine nuts on hand, I decided to leave them out for the sake of our daily calorie intake)

Mix all the ingredients together for the meatballs except the olive oil (being careful not to overmix, which could result in a tough meatball) and form into meatballs. At this point, I like to refrigerate the mixture for 30 minutes or so (or longer, if you want) to marry the flavors and firm up the meatballs.

To make the rice, heat the butter in a medium saucepan with lid over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, cooking until tender. Stir in the rice and cook for a few minutes to toast up the grains and coat them with the butter. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Cover with a tight-fitting lid, reduce the heat to low, and cook for about 40 minutes. No peeking! Once done, take off the heat and let sit for a few minutes before fluffing with a fork and stirring in the toasted pine nuts.

To make the tomato sauce, heat the olive oil in a small saucepan and then add the onions, cooking until tender. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste. Reduce to a simmer and allow the mixture to cook as you are making the rest of the meal.

Add olive oil to a skillet over medium-high heat (I like using a nonstick skillet for this). In batches, fry the meatballs until cooked through. Place on a paper-towel lined plate and keep warm until all the meatballs are cooked.

Once all meatballs are cooked, drain or wipe out the pan slightly (leave a little fat in there, but not as much as the oil and lamb have made). Turn the heat off, and then add the garlic clove (the residual heat will be more than enough to make it fragrant). Stir in the yogurt until just warmed through and season to taste with salt and pepper.

To plate: Top the rice with the meatballs and a few spoonfuls each of the tomato and yogurt mixture.

{image via elly says opa!}

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Living Room Love

This is my favorite living room inspiration... I don't think I could find a single thing to change in the design! The mix of colors and patterns is just flawless... and maintains such an elegant, traditional look without feeling stuffy.

{image via ?}

I'd love to copy the dramatic yellow curtains, but don't think our current living room would allow me to pull it off. I've kind of been obsessed since I saw this room by Julianne Moore in Domino.

I wonder if the same idea could be created with these curtains from ikea? It's hard to tell, without seeing them in person, whether they have the same boldness as the others. I feel like the look only works with a nice, bright yellow.

I'd love to have these in a living room with big, open windows... that was mine, of course!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Resolution Solution?

So roughly one week into 2010, I have already broken most of my New Year's Resolutions. I thought throwing them out into the blogosphere might help me stick to it a little better... I mean I should at least be shooting for a full month of will power, right?

1. Restart my fitness routine... Hitting the gym during my lunch break 4 times a week and once during the weekend.

* Note: I still have not joined the YMCA again, so maybe that should be the top of my list? Click here to visit the membership website... No joining fees!

{via Fit Couture}

2. Be more organized! Specifically, a) I want to be more planful of meals during the week (so that we don't eat out as much, or have to eat dinner at 8:00 pm after I get off work, run to the grocery, and cook... never works)

b) focus more on school work... devoting more weekend hours to studying and paper writing, so that I'm not starting a 15 page research paper two days before it is due (not that I speak from experience or anything...)

{Kate Spade via Saks}

3. Let go of worry more often! Despite my usual laid back ways, I am a little bit of a worrier (can't wait to hear Jeff laugh at that statement) Seriously though, all I am doing is developing an ulcer with all my worries about friends, family, work, whether the dog is mad at me, if all the microwave popcorn I used to eat will give me cancer one day... See? The list is insanely too long (and maybe just insane?)

4. Find a creative outlet... With work and school, it is so easy to get wrapped up in the mundane. Once a month, I want to try something new and creative. I already have a few DIY decorating projects to get me started... Framing a vintage map in a series and making an ottoman for the living room. Thank you, Little Green Notebook for providing my #4)

{image via Little Green Notebook}

So, dear blog readers (all 6 of you) - Let me know when you see me slipping off the resolutions train. I'm hoping that these four will lead to a happier & healthier 2010! Plus fitting back into my old jeans and some finishing touches for the house don't hurt either...

Anyone else working on resies for the new year?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Eddie Ross in ATL

Anyone in or around Atlanta this weekend should seriously consider making me extremely jealous and spending it with Eddie Ross... Eddie & Jaithan are doing a Tea Party and Framing Workshop (all bloggers get in f-r-e-e) on Saturday, January 9th. Then leading a flea market shopping trip (who wouldn't LOVE that?!) on Sunday, January 10th. Click here for more details!

{image via Eddie Ross}

I may just have to do a few shopping expeditions of my own, so I don't feel too left out.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Warm Dinner for a Chilly Week

Happy New Year! One of my many New Year's resolutions is to cook more often.

would love to cook in this kitchen via the Newlywed Diaries

I have to admit that with classes, it is really hard to do! Fortunately, school hasn't started back up yet! And it has been extremely chilly this week... Making it the perfect time for my Yiayia's stew recipe. I made it last night but haven't tried my altered version yet (so maybe wait for a review post tomorrow?)

If you have ever received a recipe from a Greek woman, you know that there are no measurements (and most likely no written recipe to give). So fingers crossed that this recollection pans out for tonight's dinner!

Yiayia's Beef Stew:
3 lbs lean stew beef
1 onion, finely chopped
3 small cans tomato sauce
3 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
4-5 large potatoes, peeled & sliced
4-5 large carrots, peeled & sliced
1-2 cans of string beans, drained
Red table wine (any kind)

In a large pot (or dutch oven, if you have one), brown chopped onion and beef in 1 tbsp olive oil. I added garlic here

Drain any excess grease. Add 3 small cans of tomato sauce, 3 small cans of water, and 1 can of red wine.

Add salt & pepper. I also added a few shakes of tabasco sauce and some extra seasoning... will update with that tomorrow, if it comes out okay tonight

Bring pot to a boil, then cover and simmer for about 2 hours.

Add potatoes and carrots. Cook until soft, about 1 hour.

Add green beans and simmer for about 30 more minutes.

Serve, and enjoy (with Jello, if you are eating with Yiayia!)