Thursday, April 29, 2010

Summer Wishlist

I've been in the mood to shop for myself (not our home) this week. I think it may be the return of warm weather... I'll choose a cute skirt or dress over jeans any day, and the temperature is finally making that possible!

Unfortunately, everything I want is wayyy out of my budget.  Here is my current wish list for summer...
Skirt: Field Scout skirt in motif green from Anthropologie
Blouse: Badminton & Bouffant shell from Anthropologie
Bag: Alfresco bag from Anthropologie
Necklace: Anthology necklace from Anthropologie
Sandals: Tory Burch Emmy Thong sandals via
Rings: Etsy

I think this would be the perfect outfit for a summer night out... Maybe for a splurge, dinner & wine on the outside patio at Arooji's Wine Room?

To hold myself over, I may just indulge on those amazing gold stacking rings from my Etsy wish list...

Does this warm weather have anyone else wanting to splurge?  On clothes, sandals, dinners out on a patio? I'm in for all three!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

For You Hipsters

I am not a hipster, but apparently George Costanza (yes, that George from Seinfeld) was the original... Check out this hilarious blog post with side-by-side comparisons of Costanza and hipster styles.

I think I'm more of an Elaine... especially on the dance floor.

W²: Mexican-Style Stuffed Potatoes

We've been trying out some new W² recipes, and last night I made one from my Weight Watcher's Take-Out Tonight! 150 Restaurant Favorites to Make at Home cookbook.  It was basically twice-baked potatoes with a twist, and using the hand mixer really gave a fluffy texture to them.

It was a really easy and relatively quick weeknight dinner... We put the potatoes in the oven as soon as we got home from work, then took Ellie for a run.  By the time we got back, they were ready to be stuffed! The only thing I would change is adding a little more hot sauce next time.

Dinner was potatoes and a big salad... I was worried it wouldn't be enough for Jeff, but even he was full after 1 whole potato (2 halves). I plan to keep this one on the list for easy, meatless dinners!

Mexican-Style Stuffed Potatoes
2 (3/4-pound) baking potatoes, scrubbed
6 tablespoons nonfat sour cream
1/4 cup low-fat (1%) milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 drops of hot pepper sauce
4 scallions, chopped
1/4 cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese
1/4 cup prepared salsa
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place potatoes on middle oven rack and bake until fork-tender, about 45 minutes.
2. Cut potatoes in half lengthwise, and scoop out the pulp (leaving 1/2 inch border attach to the skins). Reserve the shells on a baking sheet.
3. With an electric hand mixer, beat the potato pulp, sour cream, milk, salt, and hot sauce until smooth and creamy. Stir in scallions.
4. Spoon the potato mixture back into the shells and sprinkle with cheddar cheese. Bake until filling is hot and cheese is melted, about 10 minutes. Top with salsa and cilantro.
5. Enjoy for 3 points per stuffed potato half!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Cake Boss

A big thank you to the girls who left cake suggestions for my mom's birthday! Over the weekend, I decided to make the Lady Strawberry Cake. I cannot say enough about this cake recipe... It looks beautiful, and tastes amazing too! 

I followed Jen's recipe exactly... The only difference was that I was able to find cake flour at Harris Teeter, so I didn't need to substitute there.  While I don't think mine came out nearly as pretty, I was still very happy with the end result... And more importantly, everyone else loved it too!

Wouldn't it be perfect for a shower? (not-so-subtle hint to married friends: I'm talking a shower of the baby variety)  I must have been in a baking mood, because with the extra butter cream frosting, I decided to make a few quick carrot cake cupcakes...

Thank goodness there was no shortage of volunteers to take home leftovers!  Although, Jeff did manage to save a few cupcakes and a slice of cake to snack on throughout the rest of our weekend!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Pencil Me In

This weekend is the last before my final class this semester!  I have a few projects to wrap up by Tuesday, so I'll be spending most of the weekend at my desk - working away with the wonderful urgency of procrastination. 

Then I'll have two fun-filled weeks of vacation, and spend the rest of the summer juggling 2 classes.  Best news of it all though?  After these 2 summer courses, I have a fall & spring semester... then graduation!  Yes, I've confirmed it with my advisor at Queens today, and I'll have my master's degree in Strategic Communication next May, almost 1 year from now (given, of course, that I pass my classes & thesis... sorry, but didn't want to risk jinxing it).  Pencil in the date folks... big graduation celebration next spring! 

{image via oh happy day}

Have a great weekend!

One for the Blog Roll

My major renovation/project house itch is back... Mostly due to Ericka's twin sister's blog, Fly Through Our Window.  Their current house renovations are incredible! 

Not to mention the fact that their kitchen renovation still has me drooling.  My dream kitchen is black granite counter-tops (check), white cabinets (check), some open or glass shelving up top (check), breakfast bar (check)... The only thing that would make their kitchen my absolute dream would be a blue recycled glass backsplash and a farm sink.

Then I stumbled upon this new-to-me show on HGTV (definitely not helping with my renovation itch)  Sarah's House chronicles designer Sarah Richardson's purchase and complete renovation of an old farmhouse!

Jeff & I were both wishing we'd jumped on the old plantation home out in Union, South Carolina when we saw this... could've been the perfect major renovation project, with a little funding from our dedicated blog readers of course!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Soap Box

*Disclaimer:* I went back-and-forth on whether or not to post this, as I know people have strong views on either side of the spectrum. But in the words of John Prine, “you are who you are, and you ain’t who you ain’t” – So I’m posting with the disclaimer that you are free to skip over this little blog post if you feel firmly anti-organic.

In honor of Earth Day, I’ve been thinking (a lot) about going organic. It started with a brief conversation with a friend on Saturday about knowing where your meat comes from… Then on Tuesday, I shared with the hubby this short internet film, The Meatrix, on the same subject – courtesy of one of my anthropology classes in undergrad (*another disclaimer:* while this is a cartoon spoof of The Matrix, the content can be disturbing, especially if you’ve never considered where your food really comes from)

Then, for the ultimate sign-from-the-cosmos-that-we-need-to-make-a-change, Jeff was randomly flipping through the channels last night, and found the documentary, Food, Inc. on PBS. This was an eye-opener! As I watched and gestured and lamented my past ways, Jeff laughed at me (he has always championed veggies from a home garden, meatless dishes & other points raised in the film). Visit the website to learn more, and check out the film if you can.

You can also visit the Eat Well Guide for Charlotte, highlighting local organic grocery stores (Trader Joes, Home Economist, & Whole Foods) and restaurants (Pewter Rose, Nobles, & Ratcliffe On The Green - although not mentioned, Good Food on Montford should also be added to your list), as well as a table of fruits & veggies in season for our area (so that we’re not eating food that has been trucked 1500 miles to get here).

Okay, off my Earth Day soap box now… The views expressed here are solely my own, and I encourage ya’ll to explore all the information that is available to make your own informed decision. Now cue the ‘Everyday is Earth Day’ song and sign language that I learned in 3rd grade… Or the Captain Planet theme song, you can decide.

*NOTE: Food, Inc. will be streaming online at PBS in its entirety from now until Thursday, April 29th! Check it out. I’m hoping that Jeff can hook up our laptop to the tv for a second viewing, especially if anyone else is interested in a little viewing party (feel free to comment on my level of craziness or dorky-ness… just don't actually post those, pretty please).

Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day, ya’ll! I’m the first to admit that I was all talk and no action on going (even ever-so-slightly) green before I became a Whittaker… Jeff, on the other hand, really walks the walk. Admittedly, he does his part mostly to save a dollar… But either way, it’s also helping save the earth.

My jaw literally dropped when I saw this post on Young House Love awhile back. Why? Because months earlier, my hubby (he is so ahead of the curve) built these in our backyard:

Two eco-friendly rain barrels. Our friend (and ultimate green-guru), Tyson, got the barrels from a place that sells used food containers, pretty cheap. Jeff bought a standard valve to let water out, connected one barrel to the downspout, then added a hose at the top of that one to connect to the second barrel. He then added an overflow hose from the second one out to the yard, in case both were full. Lastly, he added a screen to the first barrel to keep dirt out and built a platform to keep both elevated and close to the downspout… And ta-da! We had a rain barrel system for the yard.

We’re currently using them to water our newly-planted veggie garden (and soon-to-be-planted flower pots).

Fingers crossed for a harvest of tomatoes, cucumbers, black beans, and blueberries!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Cake Search

Today happens to be a very special lady's birthday... My mama turns 51 today! Isn't she gorgeous?!

To celebrate, I'm scouring the internet for a perfect birthday cake recipe! (I know, I know... I just posted on Weight Watchers, now I'm posting on cake... that's how it goes sometimes!)

I've done a chocolate pound cake for my grandparents' birthdays (they are only a week apart, so cute) and a Paula Deen carrot cake for my dad's birthday... Any suggests for something new & exciting?

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Grocery Finds

On Sunday, I made a trip to the new Bloom grocery store off Park Road (by East Blvd). Maybe it was just the new setting, but I loved the store!

One of my finds was FOLDit Flatout flatbread. I've tried the Flatout brand before, and really enjoyed it - But this perfect sandwich-sized and ready-to-fold version is even better! For anyone else on the ol' W Squared (Weight Watchers), these are only 1 point a piece (for the 5 Grain Flax).

I enjoyed one of these, topped with a tablespoon of peanut butter and half a banana, for lunch all week - Grand total: 4 points, with tons of protein and fiber.

Monday, April 19, 2010

One More Purchase & A New Project Poll

There was one more consignment sale purchase over the weekend... A cute little faux-bamboo, glass, two-shelf coffee table for our living room! For less than $100, it's incredibly budget-friendly, especially when compared to the almost $450 glass coffee table I was eyeing at Crate & Barrel.

I'm debating what color to paint it, so welcome to the next Wedded Whittaker Project Poll!

Keeping in mind that this rug will eventually be switched out for a natural seagrass one...
What color should we paint our coffee table?

1. Black
2. 'Safety Red'
3. Leave it as-is, for a rustic look
4. Glossy white
5. Other (leave the color as a comment)

Oh, and in case you're wondering what happened to the projects from our previous poll... They've been put on hold for now...

Yep, Jeff purchased a boat, and I'm expecting my hubby to be lake-bound for most of the summer... He is like a kid on Christmas morning when he talks about this new (to us) boat! Hope to have some lake-side weekend updates coming soon.

Weekend Update

Happy Monday? Sorry but that's about as enthusiastic as I can get after such a nice, relaxing weekend... On Friday night, the hubs & I headed out to dinner with my grandparents and kept it pretty low key. We were both up bright and early on Saturday. I headed to a few yard sales & Sleepy Poet with friends, and Jeff headed up to Raleigh for a Masonboro Boys show.

Saturday night we had a little girls get-together at Big Daddy's Burger Bar. I hadn't been before, and it was amazing! We were fortunate enough to have a pretty short wait, even though the place was packed, and get a table outside. I tried out the Cantina 1511 black bean burger (sans green chiles), and it did not disappoint! Can't wait to go back with Jeff (I did have a little new restaurant guilt, since we'd been eyeing this one to try for some time, but it's a definitely one to repeat!)

On Sunday I was pleasantly surprised when there was hardly any grumbling once Jeff came home to my yard sale finds...

First up is this outdoor light:
To (potentially, once I can get Jeff on board) replace this light fixture in our kitchen...

Similar to these ideas via The Newlywed Diaries...

I also rounded up this beverage cart from my dad's shed (after a heart-breaking decision not to get one that looked exactly like this one from Lonny for $70 at Sleepy Poet... I reversed that decision around 4 pm on Saturday, but it was too late... already sold!)

Despite the heartbreak, I love having one that my grandparents owned, and think the size fits nicely in our small dining area.

Obviously, there is still a lot of 'styling' left to be done, and I'm debating spray painting it a pretty brass color... Thoughts?

Friday, April 16, 2010

If your husband will let you...

You should really get this from Overstock:

The $120 price tag for an 8x10 jute rug is to die for... Especially if you're going for a look like this...

Weekend for Ellie

We don't have much scheduled this weekend - other than a few yard & estate sales with friends, along with a girls night for me and a Masonboro Boys show for Jeff. I plan to spend some time spoiling my puppy... I mean, could you say 'no' to this face?

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I heart Craig's List

... Well, now I do. And as much as I hate to admit it, I used to be a CL snob. It was a gradual progression that started with stores like South End Exchange, where I can only daydream about some day owning a set of these:
to purchasing only 'non-fabric' items, like my kitchen table & chairs, from Sleepy Poet...

to our couch (Jeff likes to remind me that I said I would never ever purchase a used couch - but I love it) and then settee from CL...

I wonder if Jeff is sorry he coaxed me out into the wonderful world that is Craig's List, consignment shopping, and thrift store finds?

Here is the latest... An art deco 1940s lamp and reason #1,821 that I heart CL:

I originally intended to swap out the milkglass shade for a regular lamp shade, but now I'm not so sure... What do you think?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

W²: Balsamic Asparagus & Cherry Tomato Salad

My dad called me earlier this week, looking for "my" recipe for this delicious summer salad... proof that the old "W Squared" can actually taste good! All of that on top of the fact that this recipe is 0 points... jackpot.

{image via Young House Love}

W² Balsamic Asparagus & Cherry Tomato Salad
1/2 pound asparagus, about 40 spears
1 cup cherry tomatoes, about 10, cut in half
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tsp. orange juice
1 tsp. minced garlic
2 tbsp. shredded Parmesan cheese
1/8 tsp. table salt, or to taste
1/8 tsp. black pepper, or to taste

1. Bend asparagus, until they break at their natural breaking point. Throw away ends.

2. Microwave in microwave-safe dish for 2 to 3 minutes in salted water until barely tender (tip: don't completely cover in water, only fill to about half of asparagus).

3. Rinse in ice-cold water to stop cooking. Drain.

4. Add cherry tomatoes.

5. Stir together vinegar, orange juice & garlic; season to taste. Spoon dressing over asparagus and tomatoes.

6. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, serve & enjoy (for 0 points!)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Follow Us!

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More Bang for Your Buck: Garden Stools

I've been pretty lucky in finding great deals on garden stools twice... The first time was last year at an estate sale. The last day of the sale I was able to negotiate this blue & tan garden stool for 50% off... grand total: $30.

Compare this to:

Floral Blue Chinese Porcelain Stool at Overstock for $102.99

Garden Stool with Flower Design at Target for $219.99

Hand Painted Garden Stool on eBay for $188
Then yesterday, I reread this post from Bryn on garden stools for $30 at TJ Maxx. I noticed that someone left a comment that Big Lots also had them... but for $20! As extra icing on the cake, High Heeled Foot in the Door posted about these around Christmas too.

I called several Big Lots in the area, finally found one with some actually in stock, and took home a carload! Yep, I purchased 4 garden stools... one in white for my bedroom, one for my mama, one in red for my ma-in-law, and one to grow on!

All 4 of them were purchased for less than 1 of these...

Chinese Garden Stool at Wisteria for $129

Drum Garden Stool at Target for $189.99

Ceramic Garden Stool at Pottery Barn for $159
Needless to say, you can find these at several places for much less than at chain stores (or even eBay)! I never would've thought about Big Lots on my own, but it ended up being a great deal, and left me feeling pretty good about my Monday purchase!
P.S. - Karen & Sophia, let me know where you decided to place your garden stools in the house!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Married Mathis'

We had a jam-packed weekend, and enjoyed every minute of it! On Friday night, we celebrated my dad's 70th birthday with a surprise party. My siblings & I have been planning this for the last few months, and I'm so glad to report that my dad was truly surprised!

We gathered a few of my dad's oldest friends along with our family... and had tons of food, a picture slide show, and the card below that my brother John created for everyone to sign. Overall, it was a great night and I know it meant a lot to my dad!

On Saturday, we celebrated the marriage of our good friends, Jason & Lindsay (I'm throwing out this post title as their possible blog name... Wedded Whittaker and The Married Mathis' works right?) Lindsay was gorgeous, and the reception was so much fun! We had the best time celebrating with the bride & groom and lots of good friends!

Lots of love and best wishes to the new Mr. & Mrs. Mathis!

We topped the weekend off with a day at the lake for Jeff, while I enjoyed a bridal shower for Amy at Nolen Kitchen! Unfortunately, I forgot to bring along the camera for this event... But you can be sure that I'll have one for the wedding (in less than 1 month!)
Sunday night we welcomed Jeff's dad and brother back from a spring break trip to Spain! Now it's back to work, after a weekend of celebrations!

Friday, April 9, 2010

329 days

On Saturday, we'll be celebrating our friends Jason & Lindsey's wedding here...

This will have extra special meaning for us... Their reception is at Byron's... where Jeff & I celebrated our wedded bliss 329 days ago!

Can't wait for all the celebrations this weekend & a chance to remember...

Happy Weekend!