Monday, November 21, 2011

What Can I Tempt You to Buy Today...

Just when you think the world has everything we could possibly need (except a functional government...) out comes the Kindle Fire!  WOW!  So many people are turning in their well-loved paper backs for the more preferable "e-reader."  I don't have one myself, however, hint hint Santa...

Buy the Kindle Fire here for the book worm in your life.

Amazon is also running a "Black Friday" week this week (wow! more than one day for all you crazies who only shop on BF).  Check it out, there are so many neat gifts; my personal favorites: Bridesmaids DVD (absolutely hilar.  Please oh please let this appear in my stocking!!),  the Nikon Coolpix P7000 10.1 Digital Camera (currently $249.99 which is 50% off!), and lastly the Zumba Fitness Total Body Transformation System DVD Set (I totes need this for home! BTW- IDK why its underlined, I can't seem to undo it).

To find these gifts plus many, many more visit: Black Friday Week.

Cheers to shopping, y'all!

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Gifting Page

For the past several months I have been thinking about getting a part-time job (keyword here: thinking) for some extra holiday spending money (remember the "you made it to December" gifts.... plus I need to give some attention to the star I took off of the angel tree, plus I like to get books for my kids, and lastly because I need to spoil my dogs husband).  As I was doing some research about how to make money quickly, without having to do too much (I mean come on, I don't already work 85+ hours a week or anything...) I found this super cool program: Amazon Associates.  Basically I advertise products that are sold on Amazon.  And basically YOU buy them and I get paid! :)  Works out for everyone!  I will be frequently posting products that I think may be helpful to you as you prepare to do holiday shopping.  Help me out by sending along my blog to your friends and family ;)  Thank you in advance!

Yesterday I posted about Amazon's Christmas Corner which is a wonderful starting point to finding both home decor as well as gifts for everyone.

Today I am going to post a link to another page on Amazon.  This Gifting Page is the perfect place if you have no idea where to start.  It is broken down by recipient, price, and product category.  There are a wide range of gifts in each category and as always, the prices are unbeatable.

Still don't know what to buy someone? How about an Amazon gift card, so ya know, people can buy salad spinners and stuff.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Cheers to: Christmas!!

I am a full believer in celebrating and honoring one holiday at a time; and while right now is the time to give thanks and appreciation for all that we have, I am also a full believer that it is never too early to at least begin thinking about Christmas.  I mean hello, it takes Santa a while to process all those orders.

I usually start looking for ideas of what to buy and make around this time, it helps put me in the holiday spirit and I just flat out like it*

*note: I won't listen to Christmas music until Black Friday though.

Speaking of which! BF is right around the corner! I have never been one of those people (you know, at the mall by 2am), but thats only because I have never been much of a deal hunter until recently.  I have, however, taken advantage of the new "Cyber Monday" (what a modern world we live in!) and have done some online buying then.  I came across Amazon's Christmas Corner today and my mind was completely blown! WOWWWZAAA! There is just so much stuff. I didn't even know where to begin (reminds me of going into a department store...during a sale...).

Once I got my act together and was able to look around a bit, I realized I could do almost ALL of my shopping there (including what I'd like to purchase for myself, as a..."you made it to December!" gift)  plus get ideas of things I'd like to make*!

*or at least attempt to, you know me, not much of a crafter...too impatient!

I highly suggest you check it out, you can buy anything from toys, to decorations, to trees, to books, to salad spinners! (I actually would really like a salad spinner...hint hint: anyone).  I'm thinking about starting an Amazon Wish List and letting it carry over into my birthday month*...

*do I think Hope and JJ are even hip enough to know what Amazon is? No, but still...

Click the link below to go to the Christmas Corner and Cheers Y'all!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Pumpkin Bagels

I have this issue with baking/eating what I've baked... I love it; I mean, I only base my whole diet around carbs and in fall idk anything better than baked carbs, esp if it involves pumpkin.  We only get canned pumpkin a few months out of the year, why not take advantage of it.

I've never once thought about making bagels before, I didn't even really think real people made bagels, I thought it was all about a machine in the back of Bodos.  However, I came across a bagel recipe during a search for vegan pumpkin recipes* and decided that Ryan would really like homemade bagels.
* please note, I'm 100% absolutely NOT a vegan, we just didn't have eggs or milk in the house and I was in no mood to drive off the mountain to go to the store, so: vegan pumpkin recipes.

One of the first recipes I found was for bagels.  I would have ignorantly assumed that bagels were laden with eggs and milk, but nope, they aren't (does this make them just a smidge better for me??)

A little apprehensive about non-machine made bagels, I pulled out the trusty Kitchen Aid and got to work.

Several hours later: pumpkin bagels!...that Ryan was less than thrilled with.  But thats okay, more carbs for me! 

While they taste really good, especially with lots of Country Crock churned butter, they are missing a lil somethin somethin.  I think its sugar, yea thats it! More fat! Duh. For real though, I would add about 1/4 cup of granulated sugar to the recipe next time and see what that does for me.

Pumpkin Bagels

3 1/4 cups flour (you can use all-purpose or bread flour)
3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice, warmed slightly in the microwave
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 cup sugar (remember: I didn't do this but I will next time)

Mix all ingredients together and knead for 4-5 minutes

Stop when you have a thick orange dough

Lightly flour your work surface


Shape dough into a ball

Place ball in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise for 90 minutes (omg! it was so hard to wait that long!)

Feed leftover bits to begging pup


After your super long wait, reflour your surface and make 12 small balls out of the dough

Now, for the hardest part, something I clearly did not master this time: make the bagel shape.  I read online to poke a finger through and wiggle it around while simultaenously shaping the dough in a flat circle.  yeah.  I can't do 2 things at once. But whatevs.  Btw- I have NO idea how normal bagels come out smooth?  Mine are all lumpy.

Place 2 or 3 at a time (no more than that!) in a pot of gently boiling water for 1 minute, then flip and let boil for another minute.  Repeat for all bagels.

Bake bagels for at 425* for 20 minutes

Cool on a wire rack

Slather on the fat ;)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Kale Chips

Kale is all the rage these days, well, all the rage to those very interesting vegetarian people.  I never thought much about kale, cuz like blah.  Sounds about as appetizing as cabbage.

But then, the October 2011 cover of Southern Living featured a gorgeous display of white and orange pumpkins and this beautiful purple kale.  I read the mag and forgot all about the kale until...

Totes gorg, right?!

...I saw some kale plants at a little country store on the side of 29 in Madison, and thinking I could spruce up my front porch I bought one (one puny little kale plant, 1/4 the size of the ones above...I mean, sometimes I don't really know what I'm thinking). 

So there, on the porch, my little kale has sat, wedged between 3 pumpkins, looking totally and completely unlike my SL inspiration picture.

This past Sunday, Ryan ran out on an errand and I thought I'd make him some kale chips as a semi-healthy alternative to the usual suspects we buy (salt & vinegar...yum).  Rachel Ray said that kale chips are cool so obvs I was going to give it a try.

I opted for the most basic recipe, being sort of skeptical about the whole thing... I mean kale chips?!  But, they were awesome! The texture is very strange, the chips are extremely delicate and sort of just melt in your mouth while being very crunchy at the same time.  I made sea salt chips, but I've since found a variety of kale chip recipes that I am dying to try out*

*note, my poor, small kale plant only has a few leaves left they grow back?! 

To make sea salt kale chips...get ready for it...

1. Wash and dry kale leaves
2. Pick the leafy part off of the stems (throw stems away, or feed them to dog...whatevs)
3.  Toss leaves in EVOO
4. Spread the leaves on a baking sheet and sprinkle with sea salt
5. Bake at 300* for 20 minutes

Yes, they look like weird, flattened broccolis, but boy are they good.

Some other kale chip flavors to try: 

-Salt and vinegar: whisk 1/2 tsp of white vinegar into EVOO before coating the leaves.  Sprinkle sea salt on chips after baking.

-BBQ: coat leaves with EVOO and then sprinkle a barbecue rub over baked chips

-Lemon-Pepper: coat leaves with EVOO, salt, and pepper.  Zest lemon over baked chips.

And now that I've written this, I realize, hi, kale is found at the grocery store. Duh, I don't have to continue picking the leaves off my writhering front porch kale to try these amazing chips.  So be prepared, Ryan, kale chips may be the only snack you get in your lunch for the next several weeks ;)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Courtney Lately...part 2

Today is Sunday.  I normally don't do anything (except school work) on a Sunday.  But today I totes surprised myself; I did something! I did lots of somethings!  I am so weirdly proud of my productivity level today.  Ryan and his dad are staining our porch and watching them motivated me to get up off the sofa and find something to do.

At first I thought I would clean a little; but then I remembered that I cleaned yesterday and I am allergic to cleaning more than once a week.

After putting much thought into what I could do, I realized I needed to use some leftover pumpkin* I had and that pumpkin spice muffins sounded totally awesome.

*I made pumpkin pancakes yesterday; delicious.  Just add pumpkin, brown sugar, and vanilla to the regular pancake mix. 

I'm going to put the muffin recipe at the bottom of the post because I took like 8,000 pics :)

I also did something new today: gardening.  If you can even call it that.  Last week I was at the Zoo Walmart and saw some "Daydream Tulip" bulbs.  The picture was so pretty that I couldn't help but pick up a package, knowing full well that I know nothing about gardening, but the directions seemed pretty easy (dig a hole, plant bulb, cover).  I was so excited about the prospect of finally having some landscaping in our yard and being able to enjoy some beautiful fall colors.  I started digging my holes, and was tired of the whole idea by the 3rd hole, but I couldn't just stop because I spent like a whopping $2.99 on the bulbs.  After finishing my planting (and wanting to vomit at all of the nasty worms ) and upon further inspection of the package I realized it said "Fall Planting," not "Fall Blooming."  Shucks.  They don't even bloom until spring!  What good are fall colored flowers going to do for me in April?!  I'm a little perturbed.  And that will be the end of my gardening career.  At least until I plant the boxwoods I want out front... ;)

Here is what the tulips will look like when/if, they bloom several months from now:

I'm almost to the recipe, I promise.  But, look at the pumpkin I made today!  I'm planning on making the one I featured in my last post about Fall later on this week, but here's the one I did today:

(*cheerleader pumpkin?! ha)

Pumpkin Spice Muffins

1 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 cup packed pumpkin (note: this is not the same as pie filling)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 1/4 cup sugar plus 1 tbsp. for topping
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon (I used more like 1 1/2 tsp. because I just love cinnamon)
*Makes 18 regular size muffins*

Preheat the oven to 350 and line your muffin pans.

Whisk together: pumpkin, oil, eggs, pumpkin pie spice, sugar, baking soda, and salt.

In a seperate bowl, combine the flour and baking powder.

Whisk the flour combination into the pumpkin mixture.  The key to muffin success is not overdoing the stirring, so don't be like me and think the whisk is like the coolest toy ever.

Use an icecream scooper to fill the muffin pan (genius idea, btw)

Mix together the cinnamon and extra sugar in a separate bowl

Sprinkle on top of each muffin

Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean

Eat hot, with lots of butter! (I purposely didn't show this picture, I didn't want to be judged by the amount of butter I use ... :))

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Decorating Inspiration: Fall

I like Fall a little bit.  I'm not wild about cool weather and the clothes that accompany it; sweaters and vests make me look quite, uh, marshmallowy.  But y'all, there is something I do like about Fall: the decorating!  OMG, I just LOVE the deep oranges, yellows, reds, and browns that nature and Target produce; they are so cozy- makes me want to curl up by a fire (note: we don't have a fireplace, devastating).

Ever since i became just slightly obsessed with Pinterest, I have found hundreds of marvelous Fall decorating ideas; I even made a wreath (trust me, I don't have the necessary crafting skills to do these things).

Well how perfect, the dang picture won't upload.  Don't worry, it looks like a 5 year old made it.

Fall decorating is almost, just almost, as exciting to me as Christmas decorating is.  If you can get around to it before Christmas comes, then I hope you can look to these ideas for some inspiration!

What I just LOVE about this simple wreath is the burlap bow! What a darling Fall touch to a year-round wreath!  
Idea found on:

What's cuter than a decked out college wreath!? LOVE this one (yes, yes I realize I didn't go to ECU, however, these are also JMU colors so I can easily pretend it says JMU and has pictures of the Duke Dog). 
 Found on:

Gorgeous display of some Fall blooms.  I tried to do something similar last weekend, but all we grow around here are pine trees and weeds. I guess I can go "borrow" from someone...  ;)   
Found this beautiful idea on:

Absolutely loving everything about this corner.  Christmas lights on your pumpkins- what a brilliant idea!  This is such a welcoming entrance! Inspiration from:

Ummm, how presh is this one?! Expect to see this sitting proudly on my front porch.
Found this cutie on:

How do you decorate for Fall/can you come help me for free ;)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Could YOU Live In a Tiny House?

Recently, my sister recommended that I check out the Design Happens blog created by the geniuses at HGTV.  Immediate obsession.  Those people are amazing; I'm so baffled why some people are born with these incredible talents...and then theres the rest of us ("a festivus for the rest of us!").

Design Happens is full of home decorating, DIY, places to shop, freebies, and renovation tips and ideas; but what is intriguing me most right now is an article about tiny houses.  A house can qualify as "tiny" if it under 500 square feet and is fully functional (it must have a kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, and living area).  I believe I know people who have closets bigger than this.  

Here is an example of a tiny house, built by The Tumbleweed Tiny House Company.  It's so darling, but so little.  

By living in a tiny house, not only would you clearly save on utilities bills, but you also don't have a mortgage! Amazing!  Tiny houses typically cost between $12,000 and $90,000.  You pay for the house upfront and thats it! Uh hello, why didn't I know about this before!?  

I wonder where tiny houses are located, I'd really like to actually go into one, maybe even stay in one.  By myself.  I mean, can you imagine if I brought Elvis with me? Unpretty picture.

HGTV held a contest between 3 designers who were each responsible for creating a tiny house. Check out the pictures, it is truly unbelievable what these people can do! Tiny Little Houses.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

And its football seasonnnn!

Southerners LOVE football; I mean, I know other people in the world like it too, but no one has the appreciation for the game that Southerners do.  There is no tailgate, team spirit, or loyalty to the game like there is in the South.  Everyone has their favorite team from high school teams to college teams to (sometimes) NFL teams (although we much prefer college over NFL).  Some of us even keep in mind the teeny tiny little teams that totally rock the NCAA I-AA championships (DUUUUUUKES!).  

Southern football fans are great.  You've got people like my twin aunts, who are the loudest people on Earth, and who vocally support their team (DAWWWGSSSS) every chance they get, to the preppy soror girls who mostly go to the games to show off their new Game Day dresses, to the lil cutie pies who's parents dressed them up in a team cheerleading outfit (I believe I know 3 little girls who were once in this position), to the real backbone of football pride: boys out to have a good time drinking beer and cheering on their fav team.  If you don't enjoy a good tailgate, topped off by a good game (whether your team wins or loses) then something's wrong with you...and you're definitely not Southern. ;)

Southern Living (my Bible) published "The 10 Commandments of College Football" in their October issue, and I just had to share.  Hope you enjoy these as much as I did and GO DUKES (ugh, I know, I know)!!

1. Thou shalt wear team colors. But think twice before adorning yourself with body paint—you don’t want to be the Internet photo that goes viral.
2. Thou shalt know—and sing—your team’s fight song from beginning to end. Sure, you can “watermelon watermelon” your way through the alma mater, but not memorizing the fight song is a fan failure.
3. Thou shalt keep your language clean (unless, of course, the quarterback fumbles on fourth and goal).
4. Thou shalt support the coach. Even when his calls are questionable.
5. Thou shalt be respectful to visiting teams. Remember: Southern ladies and gentlemen never boo.
6. Thou shalt set up a tailgate no fewer than three hours before kickoff (six if it’s a night game). Table linens and matching huggers encouraged, but not required.
7. Thou shalt theme your tailgate food around the visiting rival. Gator bites, anyone?
8. Thou shalt stay through the fourth quarter—rain or shine. That’s what ponchos are for, y’all.
9. Thou shalt respect the solemnity of Game Day by planning weddings, births, and other life events around the football schedule.
10. Thou shalt not covet other teams’ bowl games, national championships, or Heisman Trophy wins. There’s always next year.

"The 10 Commandments" courtesy of Southern Living Magazine.

Monday, September 5, 2011

I Re-repurposed an Old Table

Remember a few months ago when I shared my obsession for HGTV and thought I could totally repurpose an old table?

Remember this poor thing? 

I scrubbed, sanded, and painted this old table; but, I didn't like the result.  

Here's the ugly result. It looks like it belongs in a nursery, not a living room.

Today I decided I'd had enough of looking at something I couldn't stand.  I love, love, love the gorgeous combination of yellow and gray, so after googling for a little while, I found a doable design (I am by no means artistic so I look for things that 8 year olds could do).

I like my new table so much better. It still looks like it could belong in a nursery (maybe that's my new calling? Painting nursery furniture...?? ehh), but it will do for now (until I buy some hot pink paint...).

The picture doesn't show it very clearly, but I also added a new drawer knob.  It's a darling pearl-colored flower I found at Home Goods a few months ago.

What do you think?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Meg Kelly ventures South

Have you ever met anyone from New Jersey? Have you ever even just heard somebody from New Jersey speak?!  I have, its not very pleasant.  But! I've also found the one exception, and its name is Meg Kelly.  Meg Kels is a cute, normal girl she just happens to share a state with Snookie.  I've always wondered if one day Meg Kelly will wake up and decide to go buy a bump it.  

I've promised an update on Meg Kelly's adventure to the South, but I'm not sure anyone would be interested in reading about how we drank some wine, drank some margs, then drank some more wine.  But, I did take lots of pictures that need to be put to good use.  So here is an abbreviated version of a fantastic weekend with my best JMU BFF.

It all started with Meg Kelly arriving and immediately exclaiming that she thought I had sent her down a road to get killed...the dirty dirty didn't know what to expect of Greene County...

....So we had a glass of wine, from a rather large bottle.  It was called like Penguin Snow, or something equally as a strange for wine; but, it turned out to be a smooth Pinot Noir.  Who knew!?

Saturday morning we took a walk and talk through the 'hood.  Not really the hood, I mean I'm not down with that.  Too bad I didn't take any pictures, but we walked to a nice little farm down the road.

Afterwards, we rewarded ourselves with a pool day!  Rough life.

Friday night (and by night, I mean we began at 4ish) consisted of good friends, good margaritas, and delicious pizza.  You know that feeling when you've had a few drinks and you can't really remember really easy things?! This is how we felt making super simple was just so hard to remember how to make pizza.  However, they turned out amazing (at least we think so...).  We made a chicken florentine pizza and a bacon, bleu cheese, and pear pizza (sound weird? its not).  After accomplishing such a difficult task, we rewarded ourselves with...more alc and a dance party.

Saturday was our big wine day.  Stone Mountain Vineyard is Ryan and I's new favorite spot.  You have to travel through Bacon Hollow and up Flattop Mountain to reach the vineyard, and that is no easy feat.  Bacon Hollow is a different world, and Flattop Mountain is just down right scary.  Jerze girl was not a happy camper on that ride. But, its so worth it when you get to the top.  On a clear day you can see 4 counties (idk which ones, I tried asking the wine lady but she didn't know).  It wasn't clear when we went up, but we still got a pretty great view of the surrounding land.

We went through the wine tasting, opting for the more expensive one, then settled at a table outside with a bottle of the Chardonnay. Thus began the Great Feast.  We had enough to feed all of Africa...for four people.  As we wined and dined, it began to rain; but that didn't deter us, we just moved our table under the overhang and continued our gluttony.  Three bottles later, we were ready to buy a 4th, and final, bottle before heading back down the mountain.  But there was one problem: the wine lady cut us off.  Some jibberjabber about ABC laws. Humphh.  NBD. We hopped in the ol' jeep and danced to Britney back down the mountain.  IDK what those folks in the Bacon Hollow thought of us as we drove down the road jamming to Britney...

Back home the wine continued to flow until about 7:30 at which point, it was lights out.  I can't say we all lasted until 7:30, but I'm not naming names ;)

Sunday morning brought a sad, sad day.  Meg Kelly had to make her journey back north, and I was none too happy; our weekend had flown by and I still had like 384,746 things I wanted to show her (hellooo, I obvi wanted to take her to see the goats at Yoder's, bc idk if they even have goats in the Jerz).  But off she went, back to the land of bumpits and scarily fake tans.  

But she'll be back, and if YOU come to Greene...see how much fun we can have?!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Boots and 'Brellas

As I sit here typing this, staring out the back windows, listening to the news I'm all like wtf is going on with the world? What have we done to make the Big Man mad? Was it Kim Kardashian's hideous wedding gown?  I'm pretty upset about that too.  At any rate, its a fairly nice day here in GC.  Its cloudy with the sun peeking through and not a drop of rain (although there have been some luminous clouds hanging over the mountains to the West for a few hours); yet up and down the East Coast towns are being evacuated and airports are shutting down.  I've watched as several mayors have pleaded for their residents to scoot on out and then immediately after the news shows images of people still surfing?! wtf peeps, get out da water!

Any who, what a perfect time to go out and buy some cute rain accessories!! I mean, that is if 1-the store is even open and 2- if your local Target isn't already sold out, which they probs are and 3-you're not afraid of driving in some rain (which it appears that most people are).  Maybe you should just order online...

I'm not going out to buy any accessories because I'm a little too lazy on a Saturday morning and its the end of the month (don't these 31-day months just drag on?! I could really have used a paycheck, oh 18 days ago).  But, I do just love these dah-ling wellies and umbrellas.  I'd look quite stylish roaming the empty streets of NYC.

joules-red-posh-wellies-shoedaydreams.blogspot1.jpgSo posh! These Joules wellies are by far my favorite!, I just love a good bow. Too bad they are awfully expensive (but! they come in a few different colors!)

Wellies.jpgAdorable color combination.   I found these cuties on a super cute and preppy blog called Muffy Martini.

cute_rain_boots_and_wellies.jpgI'm loving all of these.  I like the heel on the black one- its different from what you'd expect on a wellie.  The buckle on the yellow, dots on the lime green, and bow on the pink just make my heart swoon.  The pink is a Kate Spade ($$$$$$$$$), green is Chooka Posh Dots, black is London Fog Wales Boots, and beautiful yellow is the Hunter Original Tall Welly Boot.  Dear Santa...please deliver.

85291_2-704294.jpg LOVE the pattern on this Katy Elliot umbrella. 

pink-dahlia-umbrella_040908.jpgGorgeous Pink Dahlia umbrella from Raindrops.

Stay safe and cute during the hurricane

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Color Inspiration: A pop of Bright!

Decorating with beautiful colors is all the rage these days; however, people tend to stick to calm, neutral colors (I am totes guilty of this).  Every now and then, especially on a dreary day, we just need a POP of something really bright!  Dare to be different; let these gorgeous rooms inspire you to use a pop of color in your home.

A classic combination of pink and green, so preppy, so beautiful.  This picture is from House Beautiful, a wonderful place to look for inspiration.

hbx-decorating-Berger-2-0709-xlg1.jpgWoah, someone is brave. I am using this same color as a pop in our house, but on a much smaller scale.  Photo courtesy of

front+door+.jpgI love, love, love this idea! However, I know a special someone that would not like to walk through a yellow door every day. Sad.  I found this charming front door on a cute blog,

4758628188_25162326d0.jpgI am not a fan of this actual room and design, but, I do love that cobalt blue- its simple, a little less dramatic than the above hot pink, yet its classy and pulls the look together!  This idea comes from a blog called Auction Decorating, check it out- she's got neat ideas:

I promise to share my POP! when it is done (slash, started...bitches is poor these days), I can't wait to see how it changes the look of the room!