Monday, July 30, 2012

Week(end)

Is it really possible that I haven't posted since Wednesday? I'm so ashamed! I guess it was a busy week. ;) Truthfully, it was only a busy half a week... starting on Wednesday evening. I'm going to change things up a bit and post only photos this week. Mostly because I'm too preoccupied with cleaning the apartment to spend time thinking up clever captions for everything. Man, I am a bad blogger today!

This recap starts with dinner at Deacon Tower Grille and ends with the cutest dog ever.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

RECIPE: Hannah's Bruschetta

When I went to Boone a couple of weekends ago I absolutely fell head over heels in love with the bruschetta appetizer we shared at dinner. I immediately proclaimed that I would be making it as soon as possible.

As soon as possible ended up being Sunday evening. I wanted to create my own recipe and I was really unsure about how it would turn out, but I'm here to say that I wouldn't change a thing! It is perfect! This is a bold statement coming from a girl who hated tomatoes for the first 22 years of her life. ;)


HANNAH'S BRUSCHETTA
1 small loaf of french bread
goat cheese log
4-5 roma tomatoes
1/4 red onion
2 cloves minced garlic
1/8 c olive oil
1 T balsamic vinegar
1/4 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1/4 t sugar
1/4 c fresh basil, chopped
balsamic glaze (find this on the salad dressing aisle!)

Dice tomatoes and red onion and mix in a bowl with garlic, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Allow to marinate for at least an hour. Remove from fridge and mix in remaining ingredients.

Slice french bread to about 1 inch in thickness. Brush with olive oil and place slices on a baking sheet in the oven until warm and crisp. Slice cheese and spread on each piece of bread. Top with a generous amount of bruschetta mixture. Before serving, drizzle with balsamic glaze.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Honeymoon (Part Three)

Did you read part one and part two already?

DAY 4 | THREE PARKS IN ONE DAY
Day #4 of our honeymoon was Mother's Day. I made sure to mail some cards to my our moms before we left! Disney gave every mother entering the parks on Mother's Day a single carnation. I thought it was a really sweet gesture and wondered if other theme parks in the world thought to do the same.

The only thing we weren't able to do at Animal Kingdom the day before was ride Kilimanjaro Safaris. It's quite a popular attraction so the line gets pretty long later in the day. Plus, I had heard that the animals are out and visible more in the morning before it gets so hot outside. We woke up and went straight to Animal Kingdom for our safari.


It was a great success! I'm so glad we went back just for this one attraction. We had great views of the animals and even had to stop once so that giraffes could get out of the road in front of us!


During our lunch at Yak & Yeti Local Foods Cafe, ducks waddled around the tables begging for food. Guess whose brilliant husband decided to feed one? Brandon quickly made a friend... or enemy? When he stopped feeding the duck, it bit him in the butt.

After lunch we took a bus over to Disney Studios to take the Studio Backlot Tour, which we missed on our first visit. We also explored the rest of the backlot area of the park. Brandon was bummed that we missed the stunt show, but we'll just have to catch it on our next trip!


After a quick break and a change of clothes at the resort, we were off to the Magic Kingdom! When someone says "Disney World," most people think of the Magic Kingdom first. I was really, really excited for Brandon to visit the Magic Kingdom for the first time! And let's be honest... I was really excited myself. Mostly because I wanted a Dole whip... more on that later.


After a delicious dinner at Liberty Tree Tavern, we rode all of the best rides: the Haunted Mansion! Splash Mountain! Space Mountain! We even took a turn in the Carousel of Progress.


The only thing I did not enjoy? Teacups. Brandon thought it would be fun to spin us around and around until I nearly lost my dinner. No more teacups for me!


We really enjoyed the Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor show. Brandon was randomly selected (we still don't know what made him stand out!) to be the butt of several jokes during the show. It was hilarious. They even gave him this sticker after the show!


To end the evening, we picked up some Dole pineapple whip. I got a pineapple/vanilla float and brandon got pineapple/orange mix. Yum! On that delicious note, this post is a wrap!

TO BE CONTINUED...

Friday, July 20, 2012

Things I Love: Stationary

I have a confession... I am  a stationary hoarder. I LOVE STATIONARY. Believe it or not, it started long before I worked at the Hallmark Store for nearly a year. I love cards, I love tiny cards (the kind too small to mail), I love notecards, I love large sheets of stationary, I love small sheets of stationary, I love recycled paper stationary, I love plain stationary, I love holiday cards and stationary... the list goes on and on. I love it ALL!

Thankfully, I also love to send snail mail... good for someone with a stationary addiction, right? I have so many different pieces of stationary now that I don't need to buy any more for at least a million years. But that doesn't stop me when I see something new and cute.

Here are the latest additions to my stationary collection:


These packs were just a little over a dollar a piece at Michaels. I get sucked into buying stationary every time I go to Michaels. It's just so pretty!


This addition to my collection was a wedding gift from my best friend. Grey AND chevron AND my new name. Did she hit the nail on the head or what?!

So you're probably wondering how massive this collection is, right? I was going to lay it all out on the bed and take a photo of it this morning before work. However, my husband was still in bed and I didn't think he'd like that much so I just snapped a photo of my tote, which holds most, not all of it.


Name an occasion and I bet you I have a piece of stationary that is appropriate. And if I don't, I have plenty of blank varieties that will do the trick.

So there you have it. I love stationary! And now I'm in the mood to write lots of snail mail. :) What do you love to collect?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

RECIPE: Rosemary Smash Potatoes

I've had the recipe for these delicious potatoes on reserver for months... for a time when I was so busy and overwhelmed that I didn't have the time for any new recipes. Well folks, that time has arrived.

I found the recipe for these potatoes on a blog that I adore. I made them once and Brandon was hooked. Since then, we've had them several more times! They are incredibly easy to make and are a perfect alternative to (dare I say) the less healthy option of mashed potatoes. The entire recipe can easily be adapted in order to make whatever quantity you want.


ROSEMARY SMASH POTATOES
whole red potatoes
olive oil
kosher or sea salt
black pepper
dried rosemary

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Boil your potatoes until they are fork tender. Drizzle a baking sheet with olive oil and place the potatoes on it. With a potato masher, gently press down on each potato until it smashes. Brush the tops of each potato with more olive oil. Sprinkle potatoes with salt, pepper, and rosemary. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

I didn't offer specific measurements because you could prepare 2 or 20! Add as much olive oil and other seasonings as you like.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Boone, NC Mini Vacation

After a very exhausting week, Brandon and I both had two days off together this weekend. This wasn't some magnificent happenstance. I basically begged him to give someone else his Saturday shift and I requested to have Sunday free. Oh well, you do what you have to do to spend time together. Am I right?

We decided to head to Boone on Saturday and I am so glad we did! It was a wonderful time! First stop? Lunch at Macados. I have missed Macados so much since I moved to Greensboro a year ago!


After lunch, we checked out one of my favorite antique stores. I love looking at antiques, even if I don't buy anything!


Next up was a trip to Mast General Store in Valle Crucis. We only stayed long enough to pick up some drinks because it was extremely crowded. We should have known better than to visit Mast on a Saturday afternoon!


It was time to check into our room for the evening, so we drove up to Blowing Rock to the Alpen Acres Motel. Affordable lodging in the Boone/Blowing Rock area is hard to come by and I had read lots of great reviews of Alpen Acres on Trip Advisor. I'm so glad we booked a room at this quaint, old motel.


Our room was in a little cottage, separate from the main part of the motel. It was definitely nothing fancy, but I found it charming.


The sight of this bed prompted me to become incredibly tired, so we napped instead of doing any Blue Ridge Parkway exploring like I had intended. An hour later we were up and ready to go back into Boone for dinner at Char.


My scallops were delicious, Brandon's shrimp & grits were amazing, but this bruschetta is one of the best thing I've eaten in my entire life. I am going to attempt to re-create it later this week, so stay tuned! (Update: Find my recipe here!)


After dinner, we picked up some frozen yogurt and drove around Blowing Rock, looking at all of the gorgeous mountain homes. Maybe one day one of them will be ours!

On Sunday morning we ate breakfast at Dan'l Boone Inn. I think it was Brandon's favorite part of the entire trip! Dan'l Boone Inn is a famous local restaurant and I had never eaten there in all the of the years I lived in Boone! They serve family style, all you can eat meals and their breakfast was delicious!


After breakfast, we set out to explore the Heavenly Mountain Resort... and what an interesting time we had! I was initially interested in going to Heavenly Mountain because some of my friends had visited and taken some really amazing photos with the unique architecture on property. However, this...


... was the extent of our hour-long search. We were contemplating trespassing before a large hornet literally chased us into the car and banged itself repeatedly against the window!


After a long drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway and back down the mountain, we were back in the Piedmont, where we visited Chefsmart, home of the largest Rice Krispies Treat we'd ever seen:


After a dinner at Milner's, it was back home for a movie night: Safe House and The Proposal. I loved our mini vacation over the weekend. How was your weekend?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Cow Appreciation Day

I love this clip from an old season of The Office.


Stanley is to pretzel day as Hannah is to Chick-Fil-A's Cow Appreciation Day. I LOVE Cow Appreciation Day, no matter how stressful life is otherwise. On Cow Appreciation Day, all things are good.

Today is Cow Appreciation Day... a very happy day in my life. Kerri and I dressed in our cow spots and went to Chick-Fil-A for lunch. We scored free combo meals and free ice cream cones!


A 13 hour work day can NOT get me down on Cow Appreciation Day! :) Also, another reason to be happy is that I am going on a mini vacation to Boone, NC this weekend! You won't hear from me again until after I return home. Have a wonderful weekend, everybody!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

RECIPE: Gorgonzola Crusted Steak with Port Wine Sauce

I decided to try something new in the kitchen. This isn't surprising because I try new things in the kitchen all the time! What is surprising, though, is that I decided to make steak. I've never done a steak before and I was pretty nervous about it! Brandon and I dined at Lucky 32 earlier in the summer and his steak was phenomenal, so I decided to try something similar. The results were absolutely amazing. I can't wait to make this again soon!


GORGONZOLA CRUSTED STEAK (serves 2)
2 6-8oz sirloin steaks
1/4 c crumbled gorgonzola
1/8 c panko breadcrumbs
1 T fresh chopped parsley
1/2 stick butter
1 T olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine gorgonzola, breadcrumbs, and parsley in a small bowl. Set aside. Sprinkle steaks with salt and pepper. Melt butter and olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add steaks to skillet once skillet is screaming hot. Sear steaks for 2-3 minutes on each side. Continually spoon butter over steaks throughout the process. Place skillet in oven on the center rack for 6-8 minutes depending on how thick your steaks are. Turn oven to broil and top steaks with cheese mixture. Broil until cheese begins to brown. Steaks are ready when the internal temperature reaches 135 degrees.

PORT WINE SAUCE
3 T butter
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 large shallot, minced
1 t thyme
3/4 c beef broth
1/2 c port wine

Melt 2 T butter in a a small pot. Sauté garlic, shallot, and thyme until tender, about 5 minutes. Pour in broth and wine and bring to a boil. Boil for 10+ minutes until the sauce has reduced to around 1/2 c. Whisk in last tablespoon of butter. Serve warm with your steak.

Now, who can tell me how to not set off the smoke alarm every time I cook steak?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Safe to Shore

(via)

I'm doubling up on music and inspiration this week because I was too busy (or maybe lazy?) to do a music post yesterday. These lyrics are from a current song that I love.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Hannah in Atlanta

At the beginning of last week my friend George and i drove to Atlanta to see one of our favorite bands in concert. I had a wonderful time and, of course, Coldplay did not disappoint.

When we arrived in Atlanta, we immediately checked into our hotel. I highly recommend the Hilton Garden Inn if you're doing an overnight in Atlanta. It is across the street from the Georgia Aquarium and the World of Coca-Cola, and only a couple of blocks away from CNN Center and Philips Arena. We parked the car once and were able to walk anywhere we needed to go.


... and this was the view from my room. not too shabby, eh?

We spent monday afternoon at the World of Coca-Cola, which I found wildly hilarious because George does not drink soda. 


I visited the museum in 2010 and not much has changed except for the addition of the vault... a real (?) vault where the secret formula for Coca-Cola is housed. It moved from a bank to the museum last winter. George and I debated whether or not the formula was actually there or if it is a genius a marketing stunt. Guess we'll never know.

The main event of the trip, of course, was the Coldplay concert. I could probably sum up the awesomeness of the concert by saying that it started with Jay Z's "99 Problems" blaring from the speakers, followed by the theme from Back to the Future, followed by nearly a two hour performance. ;)


When we arrived, we were each given a wristband and we were told to put it on and that it would be part of the show. Very curious, no? If you want to read more about them, look here. As the band took the stage for the first time, this happened:


I couldn't believe the brilliance of these little wristbands that were controlled by a remote source. They were turned on and off and they could be made to light up solid or blink along with the beat of the music. They entire arena was breathtaking when they were lit. Watch the first minute and a half of this video to see them in action. Oh, and there was confetti. Lots of confetti.


My favorite song they did at this show was "In My Place." I was disappointed that they didn't perform "Strawberry Swing" (mentioned before the concert) but everything they did perform was perfect, as always. 


Chris, Jonny, Will, and Guy: you are such talented guys. Thank you for an unforgettable night.


How's that for a dramatic shift in images? We visited the Georgia Aquarium on Tuesday morning before we left Atlanta. Did you know that it is the largest aquarium in the entire world?


Atlanta was a lot of fun and a nice break in the middle of my summer. I'm looking forward to going back again and of course to seeing Coldplay again. :)