Monday, May 31, 2010

Take a moment to remember

On this Memorial Day, a few words from our President, during last year's Memorial Day Speech at Arlington National Cemetery.

If the fallen could speak to us, what would they say? Would they console us? Perhaps they might say that while they could not know they'd be called upon to storm a beach through a hail of gunfire, they were willing to give up everything for the defense of our freedom; that while they could not know they'd be called upon to jump into the mountains of Afghanistan and seek an elusive enemy, they were willing to sacrifice all for their country; that while they couldn't possibly know they would be called to leave this world for another, they were willing to take that chance to save the lives of their brothers and sisters in arms.

What is thing, this sense of duty? What tugs at a person until he or she says "Send me"? Why, in an age when so many have acted only in pursuit of the narrowest self-interest, have the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines of this generation volunteered all that they have on behalf of others? Why have they been willing to bear the heaviest burden?

Whatever it is, they felt some tug; they answered a call; they said "I'll go." That is why they are the best of America, and that is what separates them from those of us who have not served in uniform -- their extraordinary willingness to risk their lives for people they never met.

President Barack Obama
May 25, 2009

Friday, May 28, 2010

Color Crush: Yellow

Colorful decorating inspiration for this glorious Memorial Day Weekend Friday. (What are your plans for the weekend??)

Did you see the Color Crush: Green last week? Yellow isn't too far on the color wheel from green, so I couldn't wait to share some of these glorious yellow things I'm crushing on.

What a beautiful jolt of color in any room! Now those say summer!

Can't you just feel the woolly warmth goodness of this rug? I would love this in my bedroom.

How fun would this be in a mud-room or at the breakfast table?

It's very rare that the back of the pillow is just as beautiful as the front! But this one takes the cake.

Wood Boxes With Lacquered Lids in the Ash/Tumeric combo from West Elm
I'm all about these for a dressing table or bathroom. Imagine how many things you can store in these: jewelry, make-up, perfume! Better yet: Fill one with mini bottles of shampoo, mouthwash, and lotion, and have it ready for an overnight guest.

My crush on yellow started with a citron fabric I found at a prop sale a few weeks ago. So naturally my heart is drawn to this beautiful, vibrant material. Can you imagine how good it would look as a table runner on a dark wood table?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

In My Own Little Garden

I suffer from a little bit of garden envy. I don't have a backyard to fill with the summer's most beautiful strawberries, peppers, and tomatoes (like Kim @ Newly Woodwards - totally jealous of her garden!) But I've got a little bit of space on my patio and a lot of determination! (And, I don't have a yard to mow or weeds to pull. ♥)

I love fresh herbs, but buying the huge bundles at the grocery store, only to end up tossing most of it a few days later because I couldn't use it all, is the pits! (You know what I'm talking about, right?) That's why I've decided to grow my own, or at least attempt it. (Hey, we're attempting creative gardening now!)

Here are the beginning stages of my apartment patio-friendly fresh garden. Three herbs and a zucchini plant. (I actually purchased the zucchini plant a few weeks ago, so it's grown big in just a few weeks time.) No actual veggies yet.


Garlic Chives!

Basil! Yummy for pesto and pizza!


And this (above) is/was my cilantro. Apparently I got slow bolt cilantro - which means, you plant it, it grows cilantro, and it goes back to seed in 3 weeks time. Oops! :) I'll plant again.

And here are a few quick pictures of the rest of the patio. I'm the foster home for a few plants right now, hence the abundance of greenery.

The rocking chairs were handmade by a local craftsmen. They were natural, untreated wood, but I decided to stain them to protect against weather. (And there is a little bit of pollen on them right now. Ignore that.) The rug is from Viva Terra. It's the Reclaimed Teal Oriental Rug, an indoor/outdoor mat made from recycled plastic bottles and packing materials.

How have you all decorated your patios and porches this spring? I've been digging around on blogs and love everything I've seen. I'd love to see your patios!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Scrumptious Squash

From the beautiful squash I purchased this weekend at the farmers' market, I whipped up a delicious squash casserole that is sure to please even the pickiest eaters. (Then again - I love squash, so you don't have to ask me twice to eat it.)

What You'll Need
3 pounds yellow squash (about 5 large squash), sliced
3 Tablespoons butter, divided
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
4 tablespoons (or 1/4 cup) mayonnaise
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
15 Ritz crackers, crushed

How You'll Cook This Casserole
1. Preheat your oven to 350°. Lightly grease or butter an 11" x 7" pan.

2. Fill a large skillet about half-way with water and bring to a boil. Cook sliced squash in boiling water until the slices are just tender, or about 8 to 10 minutes. When the squash is finished, drain it well, and gently press between paper towels. (This is to remove the extra moisture since squash holds water well.)

3. Melt two tablespoons butter in a skillet. Add onion, and saute until the onions are tender. Remove the skillet from the stove's heat.

4. Stir in squash, cheese, eggs, mayonnaise, sugar, and salt. Spread squash mixture into your pan.

5. Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in microwave-safe bowl. Then stir together the melted butter and crushed Ritz crackers.

6. Sprinkle butter-Ritz mixture evenly over the top of the casserole. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the center of the casserole is set. Then enjoy!

A unique find while doing this recipe - Ritz Fresh Stacks! Have you ever opened a pack of crackers, eaten half of them, and then folded it up only to come back a day or two later and realize it opened, and the crackers are now as stale as packing peanuts? Totally guilty! And such a bummer!

I have major guilt buying large boxes of Ritz crackers (or any other cracker, for that matter). I just can't eat all the crackers before they become too stale.

That's why stumbling across the Ritz Fresh Stacks completely made my day. It's a pack of 8 rolls, with each roll having only 15 crackers. It is perfect for cooking, or snacking. (Portion control!)

Do you have any family-favorite veggie meals you look forward to cooking during summer's bounty?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Weekend Adventures

"Summer afternoon - the two most beautiful words in the English language." - Henry James

Henry James could not have been more right. But just for this post, I'd like to substitute "summer afternoon" with "late-spring afternoon." What a glorious late-spring afternoon I had this past weekend!

It started with a trip to the optometrist (which isn't part of this post 'cause that's boring). My roommate and I hit up some local farmers' markets, Pepper Place Saturday Market and Homewood's new Urban Cookhouse, then a fun burger bar, Flip Burger Boutique. We ended the day with the too-cool yogurt place, Yogurt Mountain, in Cahaba Heights.

If you live near Birmingham, or if you ever find yourself here for some reason, I encourage a trip to Pepper Place Market on a Saturday morning. It's a wonderful open-air market for local farmers, artisans, crafters, and gardeners. They also conduct a cooking demonstration with a local chef every Saturday, and during the week (as well as on Saturdays) the new General Store sells a variety of local and regional specialties - including Alabama-shaped cutting boards and soaps, blue corn grits, honey, wine, and cheeses. Cool, right?
Farmers' markets are little treasures and gems in their communities and towns. They are a source of fresh, locally-grown (and often organic or all-natural) vegetables, fruit, herbs, and artisanal foods. If you haven't, I encourage you to find one near you and make it a regular part of your Saturday morning. I load up on veggies and fruit Saturday morning, cook Saturday and Sunday, then enjoy the delicious meals for the rest of the week. You know the food is real. You know where it came from, and you know it's good.

This Saturday I picked up some beautiful yellow squash and broccoli, and some chives and oregano for my little herb garden. My roommate got a jar of yummy pepper jelly.

Later this week I'll share some recipes you can use this summer when you pick up your own yummy locally-grown veggies. And hopefully, I'll also be able to post about my cute little herb garden and patio.

For now, some pictures...

After the beautiful veggies and flowers, we headed to The Summit for delish burgers at Flip Burger Boutique. Owner and Chef Richard Blais (of Top Chef fame) has created a very fun, hip burger bar. And we're not talking normal cheese burgers and fries. Oh no!

I had the shrimp burger with tempura okra (and the most amazing dipping sauce). My roommate, Amy, had the Buffalo Chicken Burger, which was the Burger of the Day that day. This wasn't our first time at Flip, so we decided to try something different, something new. Our new burgers were great, but we've settled on our favorites.

Mine is the Butcher's Cut. Hers is the Faux-lafel. And we both dig the tempura okra. Unfortunately, there are only two Flips right now - Birmingham and Atlanta. But, again, if you find yourself down here, make it a point to stop by. You will not be disappointed, and be sure to get a milkshake. My favorite: Nutella and Burnt Marshmallow or Banana Pudding. (I can't decide.) Don't split it with a friend, though. You both should get two different ones and then swap. They're that good!

Shrimp Burger with Tempura Okra

Buffalo Chicken Burger with Goat Cheese & Beet Salad

The ceiling! Awesome, right?

Part of the "flip" decoration is above your head! The booths are flipped above you - seats, table, and all.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Why I've Been MIA

I can finally tell you all what I've been doing these past few months. You know -- why I've been totally silent in bloggerland and such a bad blog friend. (Note: My real job is at Health magazine. That's why I'm so lucky to be a part of this book.)

It's called What the Yuck?! The Freaky & Fabulous Truth About Your Body!

Check it out here. Or here -

It's 256 pages and over 200 of your most embarrassing health questions. You know, the ones you're afraid to ask even your doctor. We know because we asked!

And readers asked us all kinds of questions - from "I heard that dark hair dye causes cancer, and I'm worried. Does that mean I should go blonde?" to "Are celebs more fertile than the rest of us? How come so many are able to have babies in their late 40s?" to "I frequently drive back to my house to double-check if I've locked the doors. Is that OCD?" We even go there and answer your questions about what goes on "Between the Sheets."

What the Yuck?! doesn't come out until August, but I couldn't stop myself from sharing now. It's available for pre-order on Amazon right now!

Now, I know, I know. I'm not one of the "authors," but I had a huge part in making this book. (I'm bragging now.) That's why I'm so excited (and sleep deprived)!!

And who knows? When the book comes out - maybe there'll be a giveaway??? :)

Now go forth and order! I promise you will love this book!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Color Crush: Green

I love the color green. Love. I use it, in some way, in almost all the rooms in my apartment. I know what you're thinking. "Uhhh, isn't that a little much?" And the answer: No. (Okay. Well, maybe.)

But it is true I can get tired of a color very quickly. (Hey, lilac! I'm talking to you.) I've found the best way to introduce a color is in pops and spurts. That way, if you don't like it, you haven't hurt too many feelings (or eyes). Then, when you're brave, venture out into full blown color wonder.

Here, the green things I'm crushing on (and where you can get them).

Perfect around a breakfast table or just one at a desk chair!

I heart the pattern and the airy feeling. It's young and fresh but sophisticated.

Bicycle Coir Mat by Ballard Designs
How adorable is this? And a great way to welcome guests!
Maybe it's a Southern thing, but you can't go wrong with monogrammed coasters, right?
On a bedside table or on a mantle, it's great!

Ikat Bowl in Green from Anthropologie
As soon as I can get my hands on this bowl, it's going on my kitchen counter.
What a fun way to introduce pattern and color to a room! It's art, and it's functional. Every room has to have one. Even better - this one's vintage wrapping paper with a new purpose!

Large Bowl in Clover by Blenko Glass
I'm a big fan of bowls. I use them as a catch-all for that stuff that just ends up making a pile, almost by accident. You know what I'm talking about - loose change, mail, keys, earrings. This one is bold and beautiful and green!
Green Three-Stack Book Box from Wisteria
As they say on Wisteria's web site: When a book is not a book, it had better be something special. I toootally agree! And these books are something special. It's a box! Masquerading as books. How cool!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

How To Hide A Printer

Finally - a return to blogging!

As I've mentioned before, there are lots of great things about living in an apartment: I must be efficiently organized (or risk losing a roommate); I have no excuse to keep stuff just lying around; It only takes me a few hours to clean it from top to bottom.

But then, there's this...

What can I possibly do? Having a printer is a fact of life. All those wires and drawers are just facts of life. The messy desk (which you are ignoring, right)? Not so much a fact of life as a fact of being very busy at work. But I was getting really, really tired of seeing all that stuff under there. So what's a girl to do?

Her first sewing project, of course!!!

I went on a weekend retreat with my mom's scrapbook friends a few weeks back. (One day, I'll actually scrapbook at one of those things.) But this time, I tried my hand at sewing. All by myself! (Okay, not so much by myself. My mom was near by for every freak out.)

But what do you think??

To make this, I measured from the bottom of the desk to the floor and from side to side to know the length and width of the panel. (I ended up getting it a bit too wide, but I'll fix that later.) I made two panels, each a bit wider than half the width of the opening so I could have some overlap. I hemmed all the edges, straight stitched the two panels together in the center, about 5 inches down into the panel, and then looped it over for the curtain rod opening. (Does any of this make sense to you sewers? I'm a total novice.)

All in all, totally excited about my very first sewing project and my very own desk skirt/hider of all things unattractive under my desk! I even had a little bit of material left for some coordinating pillows in my living room (which, maybe, I'll also post soon!). I also purchased all the material at my local Hobby Lobby during a 30% off sale, so two-and-a-half yards was only $14! Yeah!

Now, off to actually clean the top of the desk. :)

**I'll be sharing this blog at blog parties all week. Check out where on the right side of the screen, and come join us!


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