Monday, January 31, 2011


This past weekend we had such beautiful weather! It was so nice to not deal with freezing temperatures - that is not why I moved to the beach! 
Saturday morning I drove home from Blackshear and stopped by Lowe's to pick up a few supplies for the house. When I was walking in I noticed that all of their flowers were 50% off, so I loaded up the cart! No seriously, my cart was full - here's a picture:
I was excited to get home and get these planted - mainly because our other plants had died due to the freezing weather, lack of water (um, my fault!) and being gone over the holidays. Here's a picture of our poor fern that didn't make it -
Wah Wahhh
And here are the pretty after pictures! I must say I was a little intimidated about planting flowers since my mom has always helped me, but hopefully I inherited some of her green thumb!
Pansies, snapdragons, and asparagus fern
Pansies and Dianthus
Asparagus fern and Dianthus

Now that the weather is gradually getting warmer and we have welcoming plants and flowers (no more dead plants to scare people away!) come and visit us anytime!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

{Recipes} - Soup Frenzy

Lately I have been on a soup craze - I have made three different types of soup in the past week! I have made Cauliflower Soup, Beef Stew, and White Bean Chicken Chili. To me, its just such an easy thing to do - throw everything in the pot, let it cook, and then there's plenty to eat with a bunch of leftovers! Johnathan and I love having extra to put in the freezer on those days we just need something quick. So, here are the three recipes - I hope you'll try these out!

Cauliflower Soup (from The Pioneer Woman

1 stick Butter, Divided
½ whole Onion, Finely Diced
1 whole Carrot Finely Diced
1 stalk Celery, Finely Diced
1 whole (to 2 Whole) Cauliflower Heads (roughly Chopped)
2 Tablespoons Fresh Or Dried Parsley (chopped)
2 quarts Low-sodium Chicken Broth Or Stock
6 Tablespoons All-purpose Flour
2 cups Whole Milk
1 cup Half-and-half
2 teaspoons To 4 Teaspoons Salt, To Taste

In a large soup pot or dutch oven, melt 4 tablespoons butter. Add the onion and cook for a few minutes, or until it starts to turn brown. Add the carrots and celery and cook an additional couple of minutes. Add cauliflower and parsley and stir to combine. Cover and cook over very low heat for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, pour in chicken stock or broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and allow to simmer. In a medium saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons butter. Mix the flour with the milk and whisk to combine. Add flour-milk mixture slowly to the butter, whisking constantly. Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup half-and-half. Add mixture to the simmering soup. Allow to simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Check seasoning and add more salt or pepper if necessary. 
**Side note** This soup came out a little thicker than I had expected. I was hoping that the vegetables were going to break down more than they did, so I took my immersion blender and mixed the soup to thin it out. I really liked it this way! In the future, I will either continue to do this at the end, or be sure to dice the vegetables finer than I had at the beginning.

Crock Pot Beef Stew 

3 lbs. Stew Meat
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
2 cans cream of celery soup
1 small bag of baby carrots
1 onion, diced
2-3 celery stalks, diced
Potatoes – red or Yukon, diced (add at the end, so eyeball how many you need!)

Spray a large skillet with PAM and sauté the stew meat to brown on all sides. While the meat is browning, put the 4 cans of soup into the crock pot (add a little bit of water if you like the sauce thinner). Add the whole bag of carrots, the diced onion, and celery. Once meat is browned, drain and add meat to the crock pot. Dice up as many potatoes as you’d like and throw those in on the top. Toss together. Add salt and  pepper to taste, and any additional seasonings you’d like. Cook for 10 hours on low heat.  

White Bean Chicken Chili

2 tbsp. Butter or olive oil
1 sweet onion, diced
1 –2 tbsp. minced garlic
1 can chopped green chilis
1 tbsp. cumin
1 tbsp. oregano
fresh black pepper to taste
salt to taste
Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional for more heat)
2 28oz cans navy beans, drained and rinsed
1 32 oz. container chicken stock
3 lb chicken, roasted/boiled and pulled (Or buy a rotisserie chicken and just pull the meat off for a super quick soup)

Heat butter/oil in a large stockpot and add the onions; sauté until tender- about 5 minutes. Next, add the garlic, green chilis, and spices and sauté until fragrant. Add the beans and chicken and cover with chicken stock. Let simmer at least one hour until all flavors have combined. 


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Our Sweet Nephews

Last week Johnathan and I had such a great time babysitting our little nephews, Jack and T.G. They are too cute and were so excited to spend time with them! We spent most of the night playing in their playroom. Jack was such a ham and kept posing for me to take his picture!

T.G. in his Iron Man helmet!
T.G. and "Jack in a box!"
After we played for a while, we went down and I read them some books before they went to bed. I hope that we can babysit again soon - they are such great boys! 

Monday, January 24, 2011

Dining Room Chandelier

This past weekend, Johnathan and I installed a new chandelier in our dining room! This was a Christmas gift from my parents, and I am so excited to finally have it up!

Before picture:
After picture: 

I love the antique look, and now the dark tones tie in with our dark wood table and chairs. Keep checking back for more house updates this week!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

{Recipes} - The Best Lasagna Recipe!

I made this lasagna the other night for a dinner party and it was a huge hit! It is from the Bride and Groom cookbook I got for our wedding! 

8 ounces Ground Beef 
8 ounces Italian Saugage (I used Jimmy Dean sausage crumbles - much easier!)
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground Pepper
2 jars (26 ounces each) Marinara Sauce
8 ounces Ricotta Cheese
8 ounces Cream Cheese at room temperature
1 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
1 package (12 sheets) "No Boil" Lasagna Noodles
1 cup lightly packed fresh Basil Leaves, torn into small pieces
2 cups shredded Mozzarella Cheese 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray. Combine the ground beef and sausage in a large saute pan over medium heat. Season with salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook until the meat is lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat to a medium bowl. Add the marinara sauce to to the meat and stir to combine. Set aside.

Mix the ricotta cheese, cream cheese, and parmesan cheese in a medium bowl. Season with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper.  Set aside.

Cover the bottom of the prepared cooking dish with 1 cup of the meat sauce. Arrange a single layer of uncooked lasagna noodles (3 sheets) on top of the sauce. Spread 1.5 cups of the meat sauce evenly on top. Add half of the cheese mixture by spoonfuls evenly over the meat sauce, then scatter half of the basil leaves on top. Top with a layer of lasagna noodles, 1.5 cups of the sauce, the remaining cheese mixture, and the remaining basil. Top with a layer of lasagna noodles, 1.5 cups of the meat sauce, and a final layer of lasagna noodles. Spread the remaining sauce over the top, and sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese. 

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes more. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.


Monday, January 17, 2011

{Painted Furniture} - The Hutch!

I am so excited to share this post with all of you! To give a little background, my mom has been amazing at finding great furniture for our house. She finds the best items at great prices, and we have had so much fun fixing up the pieces! A few months ago Mom told me she found a hutch for us, and at first I thought it would be too big and I wouldn't have anywhere to put it, but after some thought I decided to rearrange some furniture in the den to make it work! The hutch has been sitting in my parents garage for a couple of months now (so sorry!) so we were just able to get it during Christmas and bring it home.

INSPIRATION: In December I was able to meet Kim and Jill in Tifton for the day to do some shopping! We stopped into Turner's Furniture Store because they were having a 50% off store wide sale. I saw these hutches and loved how they looked so I took some pictures to look back on as I prepared to paint and decorate!

BEFORE: Okay, so here is the picture of the hutch in Mom and Dad's garage. Not too pretty! The hardware needs to be replaced and the color just doesn't work!

FIXING IT UP: First I removed all of the hardware, as well as the four doors. The hinges on each door were sticking and had rusted over a bit, so I fixed them by soaking them in paint thinner to remove the old paint. 
Taking it apart on the sun porch

Removing the hinges - not a fun job!
Next step (big surprise) I used Gripper to cover up all of the gross old paint.  After the Gripper dried I covered the whole piece in black paint. I considered painting the back of the hutch a lighter color, but it didn't turn out the way I had hoped, so the end result is that its all one color!

AFTER: And here is the finished product! I am so pleased with how it turned out. Even though it took a lot longer than I had planned to fix, I am so happy with the result. Now all of the doors open and close properly, and the new hardware really makes a difference!

Some of the pottery I added for a pop of color

My favorite cookbooks! I wanted to have them on display

A close up look of the hardware - I like how the gold pops against the black

Thursday, January 13, 2011

{Recipes} - Mascarpone Oreo Snowflake Cookies

The other day I saw a post on Kevin and Amanda's blog for Mascarpone Oreo Snowflake Cookies. The looked so enticing, and the recipe looked so easy, I just had to try them! I made a batch the other night during the National Championship Game - they were a huge hit!
Here is the recipe:

1 cup butter
3 oz mascarpone cheese
1 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
2.5 cups flour
1 tsp vanilla
5-7 crushed Oreo cookies

Preheat oven to 325 F. Cream the butter and mascarpone cheese  for about 3 minutes. Slowly beat in the sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolk and vanilla, then slowly beat in the flour until mixed. Stir in crushed Oreo cookies. Scoop or spoon cookie dough on to a cookie sheet and bake at 325 degrees for 12-15 minutes. 


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Farm Weekend!

This past weekend, Johnathan and I headed to Sylvester, Georgia to stay at Davis and Jill King's Farm for the weekend! We had so much fun! Friday night started with all of the girls exchanging our Christmas presents. I was so excited to find out that Lauren had me - she got me the cutest sweater and a Barefoot Contessa cookbook!

Kim got Renee a fur vest - she was so excited!
Renee got Lauren black earrings from Anthropologie - they were the exact ones she wanted!

Lauren also got a gold clutch from Renee

Meghan got from Hollie a scarf, 4 necklaces, and a mirror wreath!

We woke up the next morning to a beautiful day! Below are a couple of pictures of the Farm and surrounding property. 

Johnathan and Joe getting ready to go quail hunting

All of the boys gearing up to go quail hunting

Later that afternoon, we all went on a carriage ride around the property

Lauren was dared to climb up in a deer stand - she did!

 Saturday night we decided to cook in and play games! Jill brought a new game none of us had played before called "Things." It was so much fun! 
Nick was intense about the game (or he may just be mad at me for beating him at skeet shooting earlier!)

Ryals got iced!

Maggie and David's cute dog, Baxter, was exhausted! We had a long day!
The weekend was so much fun - I am so glad we already have our next trip planned together. Jackson Hole, here we come! 
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