Thursday, September 30, 2010

Someday Sunroom

We have been seriously reviewing the budget, trying to find a way to squeeze in our sunroom addition. This summer certainly turned out to be incredibly fun, but not budget friendly (although we're not complaining, with San Francisco, New York, and multiple beach trips).  However, all of our travels, fun, and a certain Mr.’s boat projects, have delayed our long-awaited sunroom addition.

One point of contention in the household is the purpose of said sunroom. I’d like it to function as a sitting area and office. I just feel like we would use the space more, if we could be connected to the main living area of the house while we blog and check fantasy football work. As a bonus, we would have a second extra bedroom – which I have heard looks great when we (eventually) put the house on the market to sell. Jeff, on the other hand, doesn’t like the idea of the computer sitting in a room full of windows.

Nevertheless, I have not been able to control my impulsive online browsing for new ideas for a sunroom that functions as a living area and office space. I absolutely love the Matters of Style sawhorse desk Ikea hack. I think that a glass top desk in the room would keep it from being too visually imposing, and look great with all the natural light.

Plus I adore how they spray painted legs for a brass look!  I'd pair the desk with this Craigslist chair, reupholstered in this fabric.

Then I would love to find a campaign chest, like this one on Atlanta’s Craigslist, to make up for all the lost storage when we eliminate desk drawers. And you’d have the perfect location for your printer.

To keep things from feeling too stuffy, I would add a wide striped rug and the Ikea Lack bookcase.

We already have a couch (oops) for the room... So couch, plus Ikea hack desk with 'brass legs,' and... 

Makes for a very happy Whittaker sunroom! 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


We are 'two-for-two' in the engagement party department... Two parties over the past two weekends that celebrated two couples we love! 

This past weekend, we were fortunate enough to celebrate James & Stephanie!  Unfortunately, I forgot my camera at home... but was able to capture a few shots with my iPhone.

bride & groom -to be from the weekend prior

Stephanie's maid of honor Kate hosted the party, and put out a delicious spread!  I'm dying to get a dip recipe from Katie, and of course, Megan's chocolate coconut bar recipe too.  We had the best time, and can't wait until the big day in July!

The weekend prior, we partied for Sarah & Ryan at Andrew Blair's!  With their wedding just around the corner, it was so fun to get together with everyone... and see how excited the whole group is for the upcoming festivities!     

bride & groom -to be, with Elon girls

blogger gals... Jen, Sarah, Amy, me & Kim

We always feel so fortunate to have such amazing friends in Charlotte... and occassions like these just make us feel even more blessed.  Welcome to the marriage club, friends!  We couldn't be happier for you!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Easy Oatmeal Cookies

This weekend it finally felt like fall around here!  The weather on Sunday was just what the doctor ordered for us - cool and rainy.

With Jeff not generally preferring to just relax around the house, I absolutely loved our 'lazy day' together!  He watched football, and I hit the kitchen... making homemade mac & cheese, veggie chili, and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.

The cookies were a spur of the moment decision, since we had ingredients on-hand already to make a small batch.  And the recipe is too easy not to share!  It yields about 42 cookies, so cutting it in half was plenty for us.

yields about 42 cookies

1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
2 cups quick-cooking oats
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (6 oz)
1 cup chopped nuts, if desired

In a large bowl, stir brown sugar and butter until blended.  Stir in vanilla and egg until light and fluffy.  Add in oats, flour, baking soda and salt until combined.  Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.

Onto ungreased cookie sheet, drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart.

Bake at 350° for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool slightly & enjoy!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Sofa Art

For your Saturday yard sale, Craig's List & general weekend design-scouting inspiration... Here are some of my favorite living room art arrangements...

An eclectic grouping (which has quickly become my personal favorite):

{Peter Dunham via ?}

{Betty Burgess via The Newlywed Diaries}

{Martha Stewart via The Newlywed Diaries}

A large mirror (be sure to note what is directly across from said mirror, since that is the image/light you'll be reflecting)...

{Timothy Wealon via Little Green Notebook}

{both images via Two Ellie}

Or a combination... like this grouping of a large mirror & two framed pieces that I love...

Or a more structured group of prints...

{via The Newlywed Diaries; my absolute favorite in this category, with two of the top framed pieces subtly horizontal}

{Jenny's own living room via Little Green Notebook}

Or you can always go with a large piece of artwork... But I have a feeling that the groupings or a mirror would be a little more budget friendly?

{via ?}

Happy weekend!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

This or That?

This is one of those posts that could either turn out awesome... or not at all.  As I mentioned before (and even earlier), I'd really like to upgrade my camera to a digital SLR.  I'd love to improve the pictures featured on the blog, take an intro to photography class, and of course, be ready for all the deluxe photography when little ones come along (that belong to other people, well for right now at least).

Jeff, on the other hand, isn't too keen on the whole idea.  My father-in-law loaned me his SLR to test out for a little while, and of course, it was love at first shot!  Jeff still doesn't think there is a noticeable difference in picture quality... So, dear blog readers, this is where you come in!

The three pictures below were taken with an SLR camera, our regular digital camera, and a digital camera with a telephoto lens (but about half the mega pixels).




So which do you think is the SLR camera picture?  Can you tell a difference between that one and the other two?  Leave us a comment on your picture quality thoughts, and be sure to mark your choices in our poll!

Monday, September 20, 2010


I'm so excited that our Framed Map Series project was featured on Sister Sister Sunday this week!

Every week, in addition to posting about their favorite things, sisters Mandy & Ashlie choose a recipe or project that readers submit as part of the Sunday 'Linky Party.'

And this week (which also had the most linkers to date), they featured our project.  What a great start to the week!  Thank you, Mandy & Ashlie!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

And Ten...

Most importantly, today marks 10 years of wedded bliss for my sweet sister April & her husband David!  Congratulations on such an incredible anniversary... and many more happy years to come!

Lots of love & best wishes to April & David!


Today is my 26th birthday!  It couldn't be off to a better start... I came home from school last night to find this sweet surprise waiting for me from my husband...

And right after I was telling his sister that he never buys me flowers!  Since I have no willpower, I also opened my present last night... A gift card to stock up on fall essentials & the cutest pair of earrings (that hubby picked out all on his own, which I love the most!)

Then this morning, I hit the road bright & early for a run through my old neighborhood.  I grew up right behind the Harris Y, but can't remember the last time I ran through those neighboring streets.  It was really fun to see all the houses, and wonder if the families I used to babysit for still lived there... Not to mention I think that area has the most hills (and best wooded setting) of anywhere in Charlotte.  Very fun & nostalgic start to my day!

Now it is back to work for a little while, then off to my in-law's for a birthday dinner!  Jeff & I have a date night planned for tomorrow, a weekend brunch (and of course, Sarah's amazing engagement party on Saturday night!), and more birthday celebrating with my parents, grandparents, & sister on Sunday evening.  I am the luckiest! 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Dream Dining

Since we are sadly running out of rooms & budget to keep redecorating around here, I've decided to try something new on the ol' blog.  Lately I've been thinking about how I would decorate if Jeff & I lived in my dad's house... So here are my thoughts on virtually redecorating his pad!

For anyone who doesn't know, I adore the house I grew up in.  My dad is a retired architect and general contractor, so he designed and built the entire house (literally, built it with only a handful of other people to help).  The house has amazing character, with lots of stonework... giving it kind of a cottage feel. 

Go ahead and humor me, as I go through my fake makeover (with an even more fake large budget) for his formal dining room.

{dining room current state}

I have to admit that I've never been a fan of dark rooms... And this formal dining room is filled with dark wood furniture and a dark wall color.  I would love to add white wainscoting all around the room, and paint above the wainscoting a nice, light gray - like Benjamin Moore's Edgecomb Gray (seen below).

Then I would go with a wooden farm-style table, like this one found on Craig's List or this one from Ballard Designs.

Adding two wing back chairs in this ikat pattern for each end of the table...

And six of these tufted chairs in a 'dijon' color for the rest of the table...

I would without a doubt keep the sideboard that belonged to my grandparents (see the original dining room picture above - it is below the current mirror), but replace the current mirror with this mirror set from Horchow...

Finally, I'd remove the old light fixture and replace with this amazing chandelier for a kick of glam!

Perhaps throwing in some dark blue silk dupioni floor-length drapes for a little color...

And lastly a sisal herringbone rug for under the table.  All together now...

Maybe one day... Until then, thanks again for humoring my inner-decorator!

Back to school

I've enjoyed an amazing four-week summer break from school... but now it is back to the books!  I'm so excited that one of my courses requires us to keep a blog updated weekly.  Not surprisingly, good ol' Wedded Whittaker does not count!

{image via oh happy day!}

But I will be sharing a new communication and coaching oriented blog, hopefully later this week.  Ever since my course over the summer on the dynamics of personal change, I've been increasingly interested in the power of positive psychology, coaching, and mind/body connection research. 

There is just something about the start of school, cooler weather, and the on-set of fall that leaves me feeling revitalized... Looking forward to a great semester!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Fueled by Loukoumades

This weekend was another amazing preview to fall!  And we took advantage of being outside and having one of those fleeting weekends were nothing was really planned.

Friday night, we hopped on our bikes and headed up to the Yiasou Greek Festival.  The festival is one of my favorite times of the year, and I could probably eat there all three days.  It was perfect weather and our bike ride took us through Freedom Park and along the Sugar Creek Greenway.

We met Jeff's parents, his sister Kelly & her husband Nick for delicious eats!  I had the pastistio, spanakopita, and a greek salad... but the real star of the night was, of course, the loukoumades for dessert!  Our entire bike ride home, Jeff kept telling me was, 'fueled by loukoumades!'

{Kelly & Karen at the Greek Festival}

Saturday morning I woke up to the most incredible feeling... I had nothing planned for the day!  I cleaned a little, bought myself some new tennis shoes, and got ready for a cookout at my dad's house.  My brother's step-daughter was in town from Seattle, along with several of her friends.  We had a great time catching up... and for the second time in two weeks, I made blue cheese coleslaw for the crowd!  My dad really can't get enough of that side dish!

On Sunday, Jeff's office had a party for the Panther's game... and to showcase their incredible new facility!  The building is LEED-certified, has amazing modern decor, and overlooks the Panther's stadium & downtown Charlotte.  We had lunch (catered by Mac's Speed Shop - yum!), watched the game, and toured his office.

{office view}

Sunday evening, we hopped on our bikes again (the weather was too nice not to!) and headed to the grocery store for our weekly essentials.  Now it's back to my birthday the work week!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Baking Redemption

I liked Carrie's thoughts earlier this week on not letting a bad stove (or oven, in my case) get you down! (Hope that everyone saw Lizzie's comment on the Lime Yogurt cake... looks like I will have to give it another try soon!)

With that in mind, we headed over to my sister-in-law's last night to watch the Saints game... and to enjoy her husband's amazing homemade pizzas.  Seriously, some of the best pizza I've ever had!  We had BBQ chicken and supreme pizzas on Trader Joe's whole wheat crust, along with a delicious fresh salad from my mother-in-law (topped with fresh strawberries, gorgonzola cheese & almonds).

For dessert, I brought Jen's Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars, which were served with homemade vanilla ice cream... heaven!  I couldn't be happier with the way these turned out!  Personally, the chocolate/peanut butter dessert combination is my favorite (or possibly tied with warm fruit cobbler... sorry, getting distracted by dessert talk here).

The original recipe (as shown below) is the perfect amount to serve to a dinner-party-sized group without being stuck with tons of leftovers.  Or you could double it for a crowd!

Sarah also made these on our recent beach weekend, using M&M's instead of chocolate chips.  I decided to split the difference and sub in 1/2 cup chocolate chips and 1/2 cup M&M's... and I may have thrown in an extra handful of each for good measure!  I really enjoyed the mix here.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup natural chunky peanut butter, salted
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I substituted 1/2 cup chocolate chips & 1/2 cup M&M's here)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease an 8 x 8 pan.

Whisk together flour, salt and baking powder. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, cream butter and peanut butter together on medium speed until smooth. Beat in the sugars until mixture is lightened in color and fluffy.

Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition and then add vanilla. Reduce mixer to low speed and slowly add in the flour mixture. Add the chocolate chips and M&M's, stirring until combined.

Spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 30-35 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely before cutting.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Lime Yogurt Cake Review

As I mentioned earlier, I tried out Smitten Kitchen's Lime Yogurt Cake for our Labor Day cookout.  I was so excited to finally try this recipe... but have to admit that it was not the best I've made.

Don't get me wrong, the recipe is probably great... but I have a feeling that I over-mixed the batter, or should not have used Greek yogurt, or both.  Any other thoughts on why the cake came out with a distinct flour taste (and not very moist)?

{leftover cake, post-cookout}

I went back-and-forth on whether or not to post this recipe, but this is about 'adventures' in the kitchen... and honestly, not all of my adventures turn out well!

If made correctly, I think this could be an excellent choice for a nice, light dessert.  Although, I would suggest upping the lime for a stronger flavor.  Definitely for a night when you just want a little something sweet, like after a huge cookout meal!

For the cake:
1 cup whole milk plain unsweetened yogurt (I used Fage 2% Greek yogurt)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
zest of one lime
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 eggs
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt

For the sauce:
12 ounces fresh raspberries (the original recipe called for blackberries, but I substituted for what was on sale at the grocery)
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

For the cake:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare 9-inch round cake pan with baker's spray (or butter & flour).

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the yogurt, oil, sugar, lime zest and juice. Add the eggs one by one, whisking well after each addition. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together, right over your yogurt batter. Stir with a spoon until just combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the top is golden brown and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let stand for 10 minutes.  Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

For the sauce:
Combine raspberries, water, sugar and lime juice in blender or food processor. Puree until very smooth, then press through a fine mesh strainer to remove the seeds (I skipped this step with the sauce). Cover and refrigerate until cold.

Serve cake topped with sauce & enjoy!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Framed Map Series

Ever since I read this post by Jenny, I’ve been considering a framed map series for our home.  I even mentioned it as part of my New Year's Resolutions, and just squeezed it in for 2010!

In fact, I purchased a 1947 city map of New Orleans all the way back at the beginning of February!  Evidence to my dear husband that all my home purchases will come out of the guest room closet and be put to work eventually.  It is a little embarrassing that it took me this long just to start the project… when it took less than a weekend to complete!

The antique map came from a 1947 Atlas and was an actual page – not a reproduction.  The map measures about 14.25 x 10.75, and I scored it from an Etsy seller for only $9.50!

I finally decided to enlarge the map and frame it in a series on the large blank wall in our kitchen.  It could not have been an easier project!  I took the map to Kinko’s on Saturday afternoon, and they asked me to take a little tape to divide up the map to show the sections I wanted enlarged.

I asked them not to include the border, and decided to go with 9 sections, due to the space we have on that kitchen wall.

Then they did all the hard work, enlarging and cutting each section to 11x14 in size.  While they worked, I headed out in search of frames.  I knew that I wanted a very simple frame, so that I could hang the series tightly.  Similar to this idea, featured by Jenny:

I found just what I was looking for at our first stop, Wal-Mart.  Their ‘Mainstays’ brand 11x14 picture frames were only $5.00 a piece… Although, I did find a set of three 11x17 frames online for $11.91 afterwards (if you wanted to save another $9 total on 9 frames and go a little larger)

Kinko’s had a 24-hour turnaround time for the project – Grand total: $18 for enlarging and cutting on their heavy paper.  Overall, I was really happy with the end result!  The enlargements came out nicely, without looking blurry at all.  Although I will admit that 2 of the pieces came out a little too large, and I had to trim the edges to fit in the frame… and another one came out a little too short on the bottom right corner.  But I have a feeling that no one else will notice (unless you are a fellow Type A!)

All I had to do was pop the cutouts into the frames, and nicely ask Jeff to hang them in a series.  And I have to brag on my husband some here... He hung these on the first try (one nail a piece) in about 15 minutes!  No one wants to know what this wall would have looked like if I tried to hang them myself.

I’m incredibly happy with our final product!  Not only did we get to personalize with a map of New Orleans, where Jeff’s extended family lives, but we came in just under $75 for the entire project!  Compare that to the store-bought versions for $200-499 that Jenny quoted on her post… And you have a project that makes husband & wife very happy!