Wednesday, July 31, 2013

RECIPE: Bourbon Whiskey Meatballs

These little meatballs were delicious and they'd be great to make for a get together with friends. Brandon and I? We ate them for dinner on a Sunday night with mashed potatoes and green beans. You can really taste the bourbon flavor!


BOURBON WHISKEY MEATBALLS
2 lb bag plain frozen meatballs
1 c ketchup, heaping
1 c brown sugar, packed
1/2 c bourbon
2 t lemon juice
2 t worcestershire

In a medium bowl, mix together all ingredients except meatballs. Place frozen meatballs in a crock pot and pour sauce on top. Stir. Cook for 1 hour on high, stirring a few times. Turn heat down to low and continue cooking for another hour. Don't forget toothpicks or skewers when it's time to serve them!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Swim

(via)

I've written before about my love of Jack's Mannequin and the song "Swim." Listening to it today on repeat.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Boone, NC Mini Vacation #2

Last summer, Brandon and I took an overnight trip to Boone and had such a great time that I decided it should become an annual tradition! When I left Boone two years ago I was ready to live somewhere else. I was happy to be finished with college and I couldn't wait to start a new adventure. Now, when I visit, it feels nice. I enjoy taking Brandon to my old favorite places and discovering things I had missed during the 5 years I lived there.


BOONE AGENDA


We weren't able to leave for Boone until after work on a Friday, so we were pretty late getting to town. There was the threat of rain all weekend and it sprinkled a bit on our way in, leaving a double rainbow in the sky as we checked into our room. It didn't rain the rest of our trip! After we grabbed dinner in Blowing Rock, we went straight to sleep because we were both exhausted from the week and wanted (okay, at least I wanted) to get up early the next day.


Beacon Heights was on my list of places to visit, so we woke up early and drove down the parkway to check it out. I had been there once before and remembered it was an easy, short hike for an incredible view. It did not disappoint! The clouds over the mountains were beautiful!


After a quick trip back to our room for showers, we were off again for the rest of the day. We visited my favorite antique store in Boone where I found an old Coca-Cola crate in perfect condition for $12 along with a new serving dish and a Boone license plate to hang on the wall outside my office. Because my friend Jennifer now lives in Boone, she was able to meet us at Black Cat for lunch. If you're visiting town, you have to go here based on the photo of my lunch alone. Yum:


Though I lived in Boone for 5 years, I had never visited Magic Mountain Mini Golf, less than a mile from my apartment! We decided to give it a try and had so much fun! The course goes straight up a huge hill and back down again. It was very challenging! We followed up mini golf with lots and lots of shopping at the Tanger Outlets and in downtown Blowing Rock. The outlets were all having pre-4th of July sales. All of J.Crew was 50% off. All of it. I was in heaven.


Dinner at Hob Nob Farm Cafe was delicious as always (Brandon's first visit!) and we caught Man of Steel on the big screen afterwards. Yes, I'm now in love with Henry Cavill if you were wondering. On Sunday morning we drove out to Moses Cone Manor before returning to downtown for lunch at Knights on Main.


After lunch, back down the mountain we went. We had the perfect weekend getaway and I already look forward to doing it again next year!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Flamingos on Etsy

Even though I don't use any flamingo graphics in my blog design, they're kind of my thing. My blog is Flamingos in Raincoats so every time I see a flamingo now, I smile. At the zoo. On my mom's pink t-shirt at dinner last night. At Build-A-Bear. On stationary. Everywhere! I thought it might be fun to share with you my favorite flamingo finds from Etsy and, hey, maybe one of you will place an order and send it my way! ;)

Flamingo Cookie Cutter // Cookie Cutter Guy // $2
Okay, don't order this for me. I'm going to have to buy it myself! I have an elephant cookie cutter already (which, fun fact, is actually my favorite animal!) and I need the flamingo one, too. Oh, and an umbrella one, too. Let me know if you see one of those.



Flamingo Print Cushion // Lily Loves Shopping // $26
This would be perfect for my office chair but let's be honest. Most of the time I'm sitting on the couch with my laptop. Or in bed with my laptop, which is where I am now.



Flamingo Wax Seal Stamp // Back to Zero // $20
I don't send a lot of snail mail, but if I did I'd need this wax seal stamp with some pink wax. I dream of someday opening my own Etsy store and sending customers cute packages wrapped in twine. A flamingo wax seal stamp would certainly come in handy then. The only problem is that I don't have anything to sell!



Flamingo Dog Snood // Day Dog Designs // $10
Don't buy me this. I had to look up what a snood was in the first place and I'm pretty sure Schmidt would hate it, but this photo is so hilarious that I had to include it. Flamingo dog snoods. Who would have thought?



Flamingo Locket Necklace // Sally Design // $19
Gimme. This locket is so cute! Believe it or not I don't have a single piece of flamingo jewelry. I'll bet that Erin over at Living in Yellow has a ton of yellow accessories. :)



What are your favorite finds on Etsy? If I ever opened a store, what would I sell? These are questions that I need answered. I also put all of these items into my own Etsy Treasury while I'll be adding to from time to time.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

RECIPE: Mango Mojito

When Brandon and I were on vacation in Charleston earlier this summer we grabbed a bite to eat at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. I felt like a bit of a sell-out, dining at a chain restaurant while we were in Charleston, but I had never been before and it was nice and air conditioned and there was no wait and we had just walked miles around the historic district. I just wanted to sit down!

The food was delicious, but the drink I ordered was even better. Mojitos have been slowly growing on me and this summer they've replaced margaritas as my go-to drink. Here's my take on the one I ordered in Charleston!


MANGO MOJITO (serves 1)
mint leaves (I used 6 or so)
1-2 shots mango rum
1 shot triple sec
1 shot Monin mojito syrup
2 shots orange juice
2 thin lime slices
ice
club soda

Muddle mint leaves in the bottom of a glass. Add rum, triple sec, syrup and orange juice. Add ice and mix well. Add lime slices. Top with a splash of club soda. This is a great, refreshing summertime drink. I'm going to try pineapple next!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Focus.

(via)

Lots going on in my corner of the world lately! Time to stay focused.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Things I Love: A Beautiful Mess App

A few weeks ago, two of my favorite bloggers Elsie + Emma launched their own mobile app. Instantly, I saw many of the people I follow on Instagram start to tag their photos with #abeautifulmess. These photos were full of cute fonts and fun graphics.

I'm not sure why it took me so long to download it myself, but I did this afternoon and immediately I was able to say:

I LOVE A BEAUTIFUL MESS APP

To illustrate how fun this app is, I took six photos of my precious pup and made them fun (!) using the app. Schmidt is already pretty cute, so win-win. :)


The app is 99 cents and you can buy different expansion packs for an additional 99 cents each. It's very user-friendly and I had no trouble editing my photos, changing colors and placing text and graphics. I'm only sharing 6 photos here, but I spent a good hour creating many more! I know I'll be using this app all the time from now on. If you want to try it out, just search 'a beautiful mess' in your app store.

Thanks, Elsie + Emma for sharing your creativity with the world! :)

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Perfect Cheese Board

Is there such a thing? Brandon and I constantly order cheese boards as appetizers when we're out to eat. My in-laws gave me a cheese board for Christmas and I finally got around to assembling my own last weekend, I gathered inspiration from all over the web about what to include in a 'perfect' cheese board. As I soon found, everyone's definition of perfect is different! For this reason, I'm going to let you in on a secret: it doesn't matter.

It literally doesn't matter what you put on your cheese board as long as you avoid deli slices of American cheese. I think that would be really unimpressive. ;) I am pleased that my first cheese board attempt turned out well. Here's what I included:


CHEESES
Vermont Cheddar
Cabra al Vino
Manchego
Creamy Brie
Chevre
Iberico
1,000 day Gouda

ACCOMPANIMENTS
Green apple slices
Walnuts + almonds
Spicy brown mustard
Fig jam
Red grapes
Pepperoni

We also had water crackers and bread slices, but there wasn't room on my cheese board to fit them in! Overall, it was a relatively light group. The 1,000 day Gouda was my favorite by far and was also the strongest. I was unimpressed with the Cabra al Vino/Manchego/Iberico trio. They came in a sampler package together from Trader Joe's but all tasted like swiss to us.

On my next go-round I'll be including something from the blue cheese family and will maybe hunt down Brandon's favorite dragon cheese. You could easily sub green apple slices for pear slices and fig jam for honey or another type of jam. So many opportunities to create new combinations!

Have you assembled a cheese board before? What should I include on my next one?

Friday, July 19, 2013

Five on Friday

I've never participated in a weekly link up before, but there's a first time for everything, right? One of my very favorite blogs, Carolina Charm, and a few of her blog friends started it several weeks ago and I always forget to join in! This week, I'm making it a priority. Here's my five on Friday: five things I'm loving this week. :)



O N E // Birthdays
Okay, to be fair, I love birthdays all of the time. On Monday we celebrated the birthday of my co-worker and friend Courtney. I baked a carrot cake for the occasion. (Photo stolen from Courtney's Instagram account!)



T W O // Snail Mail
I love what's been inside of our mailbox recently! This week, special mail arrived for me- a print to hang in my office (will share it with you later) and a Christmas gift for a friend. Am I the only one ordering Christmas gifts for people in July? I don't want to be broke once December comes around!



T H R E E // The Melting Pot
Obviously. The Melting Pot is my favorite restaurant and any week that I get the opportunity to visit is a considered a good week by me. When we left, we were given a $10 "dip card" to use towards a future meal. If you've been to The Melting Pot, you know that $10 doesn't even make a dent in the final bill. But it's a good enough reason for me to visit again soon!

F O U R // someecards at Target
I discovered this week that someecards is currently part of the Target Dollar Spot. Oh my goodness, what a find! I bought a mug, notepad, and mini magnets for our office mini fridge. They also had bags, post-it notes, and kleenex boxes. Hilarious!



F I V E // Kourtney + Scott
I am a semi-fan of Keeping Up With the Kardashians. This means that I watch episode after episode for hours on Netflix when there's nothing better to do. This article from the Huffington Post had me rolling in laughter. Check it out if you're familiar with the show!

It's been a long, long week and I'm excited for a weekend to relax at home with no obligations or commitments. What are you doing this weekend?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

A Bar for Babies

Several months ago my parents were having a yard sale and Dad called me to run through a quick list of my belongings they had cleared out of storage to sell. Did I want to keep anything? My general rule is that if I haven't missed it by now, chances are I won't go looking for it in the future. Sell whatever you want. He casually mentioned some pieces of furniture in the basement that he was going to price and add to the sale, one of which was my changing table from when I was a baby.

WAIT. I asked him to keep it. Nope, not because I plan on changing diapers on it. NEVER. Another idea was growing in my mind. Brandon and I had been slowly stocking up on bar supplies and were running out of room to keep them. Maybe, just maybe, we could turn that changing table into a bar. I'm still not sure how I connected the two in my head, but when we moved into our new place in May the plan was put into action and here's the result:


That's right, my parents used to change my diapers on that thing. Talk about a conversation starter while I'm making someone a drink!! The complete history of this piece is rather interesting. When Dad drove it over to the house he told us that it had actually been in the family for decades and was once meant for the kitchen, complete with a hutch, breadbox and built-in flour sifter. When I was born they removed the hutch and converted it into a changing table.

After my brother out-grew the changing table, it was placed on the front porch of our home in the mountains for several years as sort of a catch-all for our outdoor junk. When we moved back down the mountain it sat in our garage for a few years before relocating to the basement. It was white with chipped paint, was very dirty, and had wheels! Dad graciously painted it for us, reinforced the bottom piece of wood, and added some hardware. Voila! It's now the perfect bar.

The large compartment holds drinkware and extra bottles of club soda, ginger ale, etc. The drawers hold shot glasses, beverage napkins, and cans of pineapple juice and Coca-Cola. There's just enough room up top for our liquors and a few necessities.


What are these necessities, you ask? Paper straws, a gnome (I found him at Michaels on clearance for $2. Couldn't resist!), stirrers, and lemons + limes. I am so in love with our little bar and the funniest thing of all is that we aren't big drinkers! Out of 7 nights in a week I have a drink on 1 of them... maybe 1. But we certainly have the supplies to create perfect cocktails for friends. Guess it's time to invite some people over. :)

One final note on the "BAR" letters you see on the wall. I knew exactly what I wanted and was having trouble finding the letters to paint myself. I turned to Etsy and found the best shop to order from! Allie at Break for Bees created a custom listing for me and was so wonderful to work with. My letters arrived with adorable packaging and she even included some of her 'favorite things' plus a handwritten note in my box along with my order! Get creative and come up with a a space on your wall to fill with a word or name and let Allie hook you up!

Do you have an at-home bar? What cocktail recipes should I try next? I want to work my way through all of the ones that Elsie and Emma share over on A Beautiful Mess!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

RECIPE: Perfect Breakfast Quiche

To be honest, I'm not sure if this quiche is "perfect" or not because it's the first time I've ever made one! I found that it took a little longer to cook than expected but that was my only 'issue.' It's great to serve to a crowd for breakfast or brunch.


PERFECT BREAKFAST QUICHE (serves 4-8, depending on slice size)
refrigerated pie crust
1 package microwaveable bacon
1 T olive oil
1/2 sweet onion, finely chopped
1 c diced ham
5 oz chopped spinach (fresh or thawed)
4 oz sour cream
salt and pepper to taste
4 oz shredded monterey jack cheese
4 oz shredded cheddar cheese
2 oz shredded swiss cheese
4 eggs
3/4 c half and half
1/2 T dried parsley

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Press pie crust into a 9-inch pie dish. Prepare bacon according to package directions. Crumble and set aside. Heat oil in medium skillet over medium heat. Saute onions until they begin to brown. Add bacon and ham and remove from heat.

In a large bowl, combine spinach, sour cream, salt and pepper. Spread into pie crust. Layer with bacon mixture. Mix together three cheeses and spread over bacon mixture. Whisk together eggs, half and half and parsley in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper and pour over pie. Top with a few extra sprinkles of cheddar cheese.

Place pie on a baking sheet and put in oven. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until top begins to brown. Remove from oven and let stand for 5-10 minutes before serving.

**NOTE: I believe that cooking times vary greatly. It took mine forever to bake. Just check it frequently the last 20 minutes or so!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Like It's Your Birthday

(via)

I guess based on the title of this post I could have been talking about 50 Cent. (What? You weren't a fan of In Da Club?) But, no... this is just a simple reminder to start each day like it's about to be the best damn day of your life. That way, you're not setting yourself up for disappointment. It's going to be a good day... I can feel it.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Downtown Sparta North Carolina

Who is your oldest friend? Ask me that question and I'm going to tell you that her name is Brittani. She and I have been friends since the 5th grade. We go way back, back to the time of first kisses, watching R-rated movies in secret (sorry, Mom), blasting *NSYNC albums... you get the picture. We go back.

A few weeks ago I went back to the small town where we both lived as kids to attend Brittani's baby shower! We rarely see each other anymore (once a year or so, to be honest), so this was a very exciting day for us to celebrate together. I also got to meet her sweet husband for the first time. Believe it or not, I failed to get a photo of the two of us together at her shower. What was I thinking? So just envision two really happy ladies with big smiles and lots of laughs. There, moving on...

After the shower I took an hour or two to explore downtown Sparta on my own, walking the streets and stopping in a few small shops. It's really a lovely place.


I found the book pictured above at a small used book store. It was published in the 1930's and the forward was written by the editor-in-chief of Vogue at the time. I can't wait to read it! I also stopped in Farmer's Hardware (so much more than a hardware store) and picked up a dog bone-shaped cookie cutter to make dog treats for Schmidt. I'll share the recipe soon!

Do you know any places with small town charm? They're the best to explore!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

RECIPE: Banana Bread Bars

I made this sweet little dessert last week for the 4th of July and Brandon and I loved it! These bars taste pretty much exactly like regular banana bread with the addition of a super sweet brown butter icing. Everything is better with icing, no?



BANANA BREAD BARS (yields 2 dozen)
1.5 c sugar
1 c sour cream
1/2 c butter, softened
2 eggs
3 or 4 ripe bananas, mashed
2 t vanilla extract
2 c flour
1 t baking soda
3/4 t salt
1/2 c chopped walnuts

BROWN BUTTER ICING
1/2 c butter
4 c powdered sugar
1.5 t vanilla extract
3+ T milk

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a large baking dish (I used a glass Pyrex dish that I typically use to make brownies). In a large bowl, blend together sugar, sour cream, butter and eggs. Blend in bananas and vanilla extract. Add flour, baking soda and salt and blend for 1 minute. Stir in walnuts.

Spread batter into prepared dish and bake for 20-25 minutes until light brown. Meanwhile, make the icing. Place butter in a large saucepan and melt over medium heat until it boils and turns a light brown color. Remove from heat immediately. Add powdered sugar, vanilla extract and milk and beat on low speed with a hand mixer until smooth. I had to add several more tablespoons of milk to achieve the right consistency. It should be thicker than a glaze but thinner than a traditional icing.

Spread icing over warm bars with a spatula. Cut bars. Serve slightly warm or cold.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Bloom

(via)

Bloom where you are planted. What does that saying mean to you? I'm still trying to figure it out myself.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Secondary

I saw a quote on a friend's Facebook page this morning that I really needed to see. Know what I mean? It's the universe saying "Here, Hannah. Read this and chin up!"

"Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. 
And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. 
They somehow already know what you truly want to become. 
Everything else is secondary." - Steve Jobs

That's all.

Actually, nope. That's not all. I am also currently loving Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Honey Mints. A quick Google search tells me that other people do, too! You should try them if there's a Trader Joe's near you. You won't be disappointed.

Now that's all. I am ready to go home, cook dinner, and watch Parks and Recreation to my little heart's content.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

And I Call Forks Food Rakes

Each summer I try to speed through a television show that I've never seen before. It all started a few years ago when I watched LOST over the span of about 9 weeks. Last summer, Brandon gave me Gilmore Girls for my birthday and I watched the complete series in about a month.

This summer, Brandon and I already went through The Walking Dead and now it's all about Parks and Recreation. How have I never seen this show before?! I'm obsessed. Here's why:


Oh, it's just the funniest. Any other tv shows you think I should check out? Leave a comment and let me know.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Birthday Freebies

I turned 25 last month and had a simple birthday celebration with my husband and two best friends from high school the day before. On my actual birthday I was working and had a fun day with my co-workers who decorated our office (with flamingos, of course!) and took me out to lunch and surprised me with a cake from my favorite bakery in town.


One of my favorite parts about having a birthday (besides getting extra attention for a day, let's be honest), is collecting freebies from various companies. It seems that everyone wants to celebrate your birthday if you're a member of their rewards program/email list/etc. You'd be surprised how many companies out there give you something free or discounted when it's your turn to blow out the candles.

I keep a "junk" email account through Yahoo! Mail for the sole purpose of collecting birthday freebies and other deals throughout the year. I'm going to share what I scored this year and if any of them sound good to you, sign up yourself! Some of them are a no-brainer!

DINING
Panera Bread // Free pastry
Red Robin // Free burger (or any entree- I got a chicken sandwich)
Genghis Grill // Free bowl
Bojangles // Free biscuit
Ruby Tuesday // Free blondie or 2 free cupcakes
Applebee's // Free dessert
Jersey Mikes // Free sub + 22 oz. drink
Ben & Jerry's // Free scoop + $3 off ice cream cake
Chilis // Free brownie sundae
Mimi's Cafe // Free dessert
Ihop // Free Rooty Tooty Fresh n' Fruity (or equal entree)
Olive Garden // Free appetizer or dessert
Texas Roadhouse // Free appetizer 
The Melting Pot // Free chocolate covered strawberries
Rita's // Free regular italian ice
Maggie Moo's // Free kid's cone
Fuddruckers // Free 1/3 lb. burger with equal purchase
Coldstone // Free creation with equal purchase
Brueggers // Free bagel + cream cheese with drink purchase
Auntie Anne's // Free pretzel with equal purchase

SHOPPING 
Victoria's Secret // $10 off a purchase
Anthropologie // 15% off entire purchase
World Market // 15% off furniture & decor, 10% off food
American Eagle Outfitters // 15% off a purchase

No, I didn't take advantage of all of these deals, but I listed them all here to show you that if you're hunting for coupons, don't forget about your birthday! My favorite deal on the list is the one from Red Robin. Their burgers range in price from around $9 to $13. That saved us a ton of money when we took advantage of that offer!

I found many of these offers by visiting BirthdayFreebies.com. Check it out if you have a birthday coming up!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Anniversary Cruise (Freeport)

We started our vacation in Charleston, boarded our ship and headed towards Nassau, then moved on to Freeport. Here's the rest of my vacation recap...

Our day in Freeport was an interesting day, to say the least. We visited a beautiful beach, I snorkeled for the first (and possibly last?) time, we ate conch fritters, and I got sick (not related to the conch fritters.) It's easier to explain with photos. Warning: this is largely the story of how I am a big 'ol snorkeling baby.


I arranged a snorkeling excursion for our day in Freeport. As someone who's not a huge fan of swimming in the ocean, I'm not entirely sure what I was thinking. The excursion included transportation to a remote beach, snorkeling gear, snorkeling guides, and beach chairs for relaxing. Whereas other snorkeling excursions took you out on a boat, this one had you swim from the beach to a reef... a comfortable distance away, the excursion reviews said. So easy that children can do it, the reviews said.

Once we arrived at the beach, we were given a quick snorkeling briefing before picking up our gear. We had two guides that would go into the water with us and I think our group had somewhere between 15-20 people. Setting my pride aside here, let me tell you that I nearly died on the way out to the reef. As Brandon zipped along ahead of me, I struggled to swim that far and keep up with the group. It felt so far away. The water was shallow but the guide yelled at me every time I tried to put my feet down to walk (dangers of coral cutting me). The snorkeling mask made me nervous and I hated wearing it. My arms and legs were burning.

Once we made it out to the reef, the guides threw bread into the water so the fish would come close. I was in full-on panic mode at this point and was focusing on treading water for half an hour instead of floating around looking at fishies like all of the sane people in the group. Every now and then I'd put my head down and see some pretty fish but I was pretty underwhelmed and truly afraid of being that far from shore. Brandon, on the other hand, had a blast. He had an underwater camera and took some videos and snapped photos, too. I was ecstatic when the guides said it was time to turn around and swim back to the beach. I was one of the first people back on the sand! I pulled my flippers off and ran to my water bottle and took several gulps. Not surprisingly, I had swallowed a lot of salt water while I was in panic mode. Le sigh.


I was more than ready for some relaxation on the beach, but by the time our snorkeling was finished we had less than 45 minutes before our bus driver picked us back up. I quickly snapped photos and Brandon and I ordered conch fritters, which were delicious. Then back on the bus we went.


All in all, I'd probably do this exact same excursion again. I'd totally recommend it! One major difference: I would be soaking up the sun on the beach while everyone else snorkeled. Señor Frog's is more my style.


After lunch at Señor Frog's we explored the straw market of Freeport before boarding the ship.


With this beautiful shot of a palm tree, our vacation story ends. We boarded the ship and I promptly got sick with a vicious cold that lasted not only throughout the rest of our vacation but for the next 5 days or so once we were home. FUN! Our last day at sea we went mini golfing, played trivia and bingo, and I napped and sneezed a lot. We arrived back in Charleston before the sun on Saturday and we were on our way home shortly after 7 am! Can we go back now?