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 pizzas....it 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 http://www.nordicrooms.net

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, http://miss-madisonleigh.blogspot.com/2011/04/fixer-upper.html.

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: http://auctiondecorating.blogspot.com/2010/07/faux-bamboo-chic.html

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!





Thursday, August 18, 2011

Cheers to The South!

Last night I was on the very verge of sleep, that coveted time when you are so comfortable and so ready to drift off, when the TV caught my attention, pulling me out of my mindless state.  What I heard was some guy with a thick southern (read: redneck) accent talking.  Please y'all, it wasn't his voice that caught my attention, I hear enough of that around GC daily, but it was what he was saying that made me sit up and grab my phone to jot down some notes (isn't the iphone just so handy?!)

This man had nothing but praise for the South, despite all of the notions and misperceptions people may have.  This man was pointing out wonderful things about our not-so-little region of the country (apparently the "South" includes 1/3 of the continental US; however there are many arguments over which states exactly the South does encompass-but thats neither here nor there right now).

This Deep South man's ramblings reminded me of why we as Southerners are so proud to be Southern.  I got so into the show I ended up staying up until 10:30 to watch the whole thing (we don't typically see 10:30 around these parts, hell I rarely see 9:30 for that matter).

As I was watching I furiously typed some of what he was saying into my phone to use today. So, for all the Southerners out there who are proud of it, or for the yankee reading this (Meg Kelly), here is a reminder of why the South is just so... awesome.  Enjoy :)

(Btw, I can't really give credit to this man because idk who he is or even what the show was called, but just know, these were said by some man on some show on the History Channel).

1. As he was talking about all of the unique people that are from and live in the South: "That's the beauty of the South, you never know what you're going to get." Ain't that the truth.

2. While talking about the Northern states' "cockiness": "We're bigger, we're better, and hell, we were here first"

3. This man talked about how people who aren't from the South have this totally wrong idea about Southern folks: "The misperception is that we all talk and act like The Dukes of Hazzard." He must never have been to a place like Greene....

4. When talking about the South, the mullet is an inevitable part of the conversation: "Have you ever seen George Washington or Thomas Jefferson's hair? People copy celebrities hairstyles all the time, don't you think thats where the mullet came from?!"

5. Last but not least, this is my favorite because I believe it is so true.  "The South is defined by how you live your life."



Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Cheers to...Cupcakes?






That's right.  To anyone who is delighted by the appeal of adorable, classic, and very appetizing little cakes...cheers!  Cupcakes have quickly become the main attraction for weddings, parties, and showers.  Growing up everyone brought cupcakes to school for their birthday, and kids still do this (don't you know thats why I became a teacher?? ;)) But cupcakes are no longer sprinkles dashed overtop vanilla or chocolate frosting.  Today, cupcakes are swirled, glazed, dipped or otherwise fancifully decorated (spoken by the Queen of Cupcakes herself, my girl Martha Stewart).  Cupcakes are embellished with any number of normal (chocolate chips) or unique (Nilla Wafers) toppings.  Both batter and frosting recipes have emerged and can be combined to create a special cupcake for any occasion.  



Cupcakes even come in different sizes these days (you no longer have to use only your regular old muffin tin! hooray!).  There are big cupcakes, they almost qualify as being a cake; and there are dainty lil cupcakes, ya know in case you have tea with the Queen.  All in all, cupcakes are the new phenomena and are an excellent way to showcase a theme or to just show off creativity.  Inspiration for cupcake flavors and decorations can be pulled from anything.  And if you don't really have any ideas except the plain ol' sprinkles, look here and see if anything inspires the creativity in you!




Now, before I show you some of my favorite cupcakes, let me tell you some wonderful places you can go buy cupcakes if you'd rather not make them.  


My personal first and foremost favorite: Crumbs.  Crumbs in located in LA, NYC, and DC, although I hear the one in DC isn't so rockin.  Check out Crumb's website here.  If you don't live in one of those areas, have a half dozen delivered to you, it is so worth it.  I visited the store in LA and I totally recommend you try the Grasshopper (tastes like mint choc chip) and the Vanilla/Vanilla Sprinkle (just the classic lil cupcake, but better).  I'm dying to try both the Margarita (do you think you catch a buzz off of it?) and the Key Lime (my absolute favorite flavor of anything--except martinis).



(no picture here, I can't get them off of the website)




Next up: Bakeshop.  My friend, Erin, is in love with cupcakes--borderline obsessive ;)  She is doing a Cupcake Tour around the Northern Virginia area and I just happened to coincide a weekend trip up there with her 5th stop.  We went to a tiny, but very cute, bakery called Bakeshop in Arlington.  Now, Bakeshop didn't have tons and tons of flavors to choose from, but I like this because it means that they really take their time on the flavors they do offer.  I got the Perfect White and it definitely surpassed my expectations.  It was light and fluffy with just the right touch of sweetness.  If I ever go back I will try the 7-Up, it looks incredible.




perfectwhite_large.jpg



I know there are hundreds and hundreds of cupcakeries out there, but the last one I want to mention is in my beloved hometown: Richmond.  Pearls is great because it is so Richmond, if you know what I mean. All ingredients are local, cupcakes are baked fresh everyday, and everything just looks so gourmet, straight out of a magazine. Pearls doesn't go overboard on the decorating or combining of flavors, I love the simplicity of their cupcakes.  I got the Plain Jane (can you tell that my overall my fav is vanilla and vanilla?) but I am itching to get back and try the Salty Mermaid (sea salt on cupcakes sounds crazy but is delicious!!).  The other thing I like about Pearls is that they are conscientious of different diets people must follow.  Everyday they offer both a vegan-free and gluten-free cupcake.  Cheers to you, Pearls.




PlainJane.jpg



Get ready for your mouth to drool.  Here are some wonderful cupcakes, either that I've made, plan to make, or simply that I drool over (come on, you will too).


Martha Stewart's Chocolate Graham Cracker with Toasted Marshmallow Frosting

hummingbird-cupcakes.jpgMartha Stewart's Hummingbird Cupcake.  Doesn't that look incredible?!  

fourth-of-july-cupcakes.jpgMartha Stewart's Fourht of July Cupcakes.  These look so refreshing on a hot July day!

2176341389.jpgBakerella's There's No Business Like Snow Business Cupcakes.  I want to make these for my class this year!  You need to check out her blog and look at all of her awesome ideas-she's extremely talented.

oldfashion_cupcakes.jpgI love the understated beauty of these little gems found on Weddingbee.com

CC_hibiscus_mango.jpgHibiscus Mango from Georgetown Cupcakes.  This one looks simple from the outside, but in the inside, its a different story.  Its infused with hibiscus syrup and mango with a hibiscus-buttercream frosting.  Heaven.




Do you have a favorite cupcake/cupcakerie? Let me know!


Cheers to Cupcakes!







Monday, August 8, 2011

Jerk Chicken Summer Salad with French Herb Vinaigrette

You know I'm all about simple. Salad=simple.  We're back on a health kick this week (got a little off track the last few days) which means we pretty much only eat salad for din.  Salad can get so boring, but only if you're not creative! I love trying new things with salads and making homemade dressings.  This time of year is the best for salads; there are endless combinations of vegetables and meat you can use.  I'm so appreciative for all the homegrown veggies we've been given- they taste absolutely wonderful in salads.  I've discovered an excellent new vegetable this summer: edamame.  I had heard of it before but thought it was something weird that like, vegans, would eat (on that note, how do people do vegan?! I'd never survive it), but its actually similar to peas.  Sometimes I eat it as a snack, so good.


Anyways, stay focused Court, I made this salad and vinaigrette tonight; it was refreshing and, duh, real easy.  


Jerk Chicken Summer Salad with French Herb Vinaigrette

Ingredients for Salad:
Grilled chicken
Jerk Seasoning (put on chicken before and during grilling)
Fresh Veggies (I used avocado, green pepper, onion, edamame, shredded carrots and tomatoes)
Fresh lettuce/prepackaged salad (I admit, I totes use the prepackaged kind)

Ingredients for Vinaigrette:
1/2 cup EVOO
1/8 cup Red Wine Vinegar
1/2 tsp minced garlic
A few dashes each of: parsley, rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper
Juice from 1/4 a lemon

An effortless dinner in a cinch!

 French Herb Vinaigrette.  Don't forget to shake really well!
Delicious.


The salad would pair well with this wine.  One of my favs, this is the Chardonnay Reserve from Stone Mountain.



Bon Appetit! 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Simple Summer Recipes

Its about time I write a new post...so sorr to have kept you waiting Meg Kelly. I have so many things I want to share; but for the sake of your sanity and interest, I've decided to only share some delicious recipes I've used and/or created recently.  Many times I use cookbooks as inspiration and deviate from the recipe to make it my own (slash sometimes I don't have the correct ingredients...whatevs).  If you're like me and eating is your fav, enjoy!


Green Bean Peach Salad
 (is greenbean one word?)

Doesn't this just scream fresh ingredients from a farmer's market?! I used home grown green beans (no, I didn't grow these. Idk how to garden...yet) and peaches picked up at the good old IGA.  It was so easy to make, and most importantly very tasty.  I plan on making this again before summer is over.

Ingredients:
Greenbeans 
Peaches
White Onion
Parmesan Cheese
Rosemary
Garlic
Lime 

1. Pick the ends off of the beans (this used to be my fav thing to do for my mom...weird, right?) and cook over medium heat.


2. Saute sliced onions and garlic in olive oil.

3. Slice peaches. Does anyone else have a difficult time slicing things that have a pit? I wouldn't be surprised if no one else does...I mean, I don't either ;)

 Combine green beans, peaches, and onions.  Squeeze lime juice over salad and sprinkle some parm and rosemary over top.  





4. Eat! I served the Green Bean Peach Salad with brown sugar pork and cucumber/mushroom couscous. So delish.
 BTW, I didn't tweak this recipe at all.  It seemed like such a strange idea that I wanted to follow it exactly.  I found it in the August issue of Better Homes and Gardens, my new old lady mag.


Jerk Tuna Salad

Ok, I'll go ahead and say it for you: WTF Court?!  Right? It sounds weird and, it is a weird combination; but trust me, it is awesome.  Typically when you think jerk you think junior educated rich kid.  Hah, remember that stupid thing.  But for real, you think about sitting in a sketchy little shack on the edge of the Caribbean, eating spicy Jerk Chicken cooked by an even sketchier Jamaican.  At least thats what I think of, because I've been there, done that (ps- if you're ever in Jamaica stop at the Seafood Palace on the main road between Montego Bay and Ocho Rios...it is to die for).

I really don't like tuna, its so blah. I was feeling creative the other night and decided to invent a new tuna salad.  Yeah yeah, there are so many cooler things I could have done, but ya know. I promise if you try this you will like it; at least I hope so...

Ingredients:
TUNA!
Shredded Carrots
Sliced Onion
Mayonnaise
2 Boiled Eggs (I only like the whites, but you can totes use the yolks too) 
Salt
Pepper
Jerk Seasoning


1. Combine carrots and onions in a tupperware (or hey! maybe you have a monogrammed bowl!)



2. Add tuna and a little bit of mayonnaise (be wary of this- if you use too much you are in for a mushy, gray tuna....vom)







5. Chop eggs and add to tuna




6. Sprinkle salt, pepper, and a generous helping of jerk seasoning. Sorry I don't have an incredible looking tuna sandwich picture, but here is what it looks like in the tupperware ;)  It tastes amazing! I love how its crunchy.  It is so not boring anymore! mmmm.





pps- I just realized I went from step 2 straight to step 5. NBD. Isn't life about being unique anyways?


Shrimp Pasta with Lime

Talk about simple.  Even Anna can do this one.  Simple does not mean boring or yuck, btw, this recipe is so good.  I mean so, so good.  Shrimp and lime are both very summery and light.  Paired together= yum.  Aight here it is y'all.

1. Over medium heat, cook shrimp (until pink) and garlic in EVOO (if you don't know this, please look up Racheal Ray asap).  Add parsley just before removing from heat.


2. Meanwhile cook the pasta. duh. I used Radiatore noodles (I'm all about the fun shapes); however, Taste of Home recommends using Linguini.  Different strokes for different folks.




3. Combine shrimp and garlic mixture with noodles and squeeze half a lime over top.






4. Anna, can you do this?

5. I feel like I've left something out but I've had a bit too much wine to think of what...