January 31, 2012

Hide-away Corkboard

This weekend I also completed a mini project: adding a little bulletin board inside of a kitchen cabinet door. I saw the idea on Young House Love a few weeks ago and have been wanting to try it. I thought it would be a nice place to store recipes I want to try and random pending things I don't want scattered on my counter. And it was so so simple!

First, I bought a pack of cork boards at Jo-Ann Fabrics, for about $5.

What my cabinet looked like before... 

I measured the space and cut the cork with scissors. A razor blade probably would have been more effective/neater, but I was lazy and it didn't come out very jagged so it worked well. I was planning on gluing the cork board to the inside of the door in some way, but the package came with these handy adhesive squares that worked just as well and were super easy!

Thanks to the measuring tape, they fit in there perfectly. 

Now I have a handy place to store recipes, coupons I need to use soon, and other things that clutter up my desk corner of the kitchen. This is the perfect project for a renter. I can't see the rental company ever having an issue with it, and even if they did, the cork could be easily removed. I might also add some decorative pushpins to jazz it up.

When the door's closed, you can't see a thing! I'd have to say this little project was a success!

[Did you spot my 2012 goals and resolutions list?? It's never too late to make some resolutions for the year! Click here to get yours!]

January 30, 2012

Musical desks

Well folks, we sold the secretary. We actually made $20 on it, which is kind of cool! Doesn't the nook look so sad and lonely now?

This weekend we went through the other desk and decided what to keep, what to throw away, and how to reorganize the drawers to work better. We also got rid of all the clutter in the corner next to the desk. This took a while but I'm so glad we did it. Here it is in the little nook now:

I know, it needs a lot of work. One being the chair. It's just not the place for an old office chair! The space is so cute and the chair just doesn't fit! I want to find something fun and simple. I also mentioned before that I want to paint the desk. So that will change the look, too. The office/guest room now looks a lot different, but I will share pictures of that later.

Isn't it cozy though? It's so nice for Michael to have a place to get work done. He also can pack all his stuff away in the drawers when he's not working so that it's out of sight :)

I hope you had a good weekend! Did you rearrange anything like we did?

January 24, 2012

Starbucks Rewards

If you're a Starbucks fan, something you definitely want to do is register your giftcards so you can get rewards. How do you do this??

Let me introduce you to My Starbucks Rewards. Go to the Starbucks website and create an account. If you have any gift cards on hand, go ahead and add those in. Every time you by a drink with a registered card, you'll get a star on your account. Once you get enough stars, you'll start getting perks like free add-ins, refills on brewed coffee and tea, and free drinks every once in a while. Once I found this out, I now only use gift cards to buy Starbucks coffee. If my balance gets low, I just add more money to the card, rather than using cash or my debit card because then I can rack up those stars. It's a great way to get rewards off of something that we all spend so much money on! :)

What other rewards programs are you a part of?

January 21, 2012

Goodbye, Secretary

Let me clarify: I am not forcing my husband to fire his secretary because I think she's too pretty (okay, okay, bad joke). This post is about this cute little secretary desk I bought off Craigslist over a year ago. While it looks adorable in our little nook, it is extremely non-functional because it is not deep enough to use with a laptop, or anything really. I basically only use it to store my stationery, which is about all that it holds. I also have never been a huge fan of the Queen Anne's style legs.

remember this guy?

So, we're selling it. Anyone want a cute decorative desk that doesn't do much else than look pretty?? The big deciding factor was that in our search for a larger desk for the office, I realized that I didn't want to part with the small desk we already have.

this area of the apartment hasn't gotten a lot of love, has it?

While it doesn't do the job we want it to in this space (we really need more surface area and shelving), it actually has a lot of storage and has so much charm and character. I can just see it painted white for a little girl's bedroom one day in the future. So when I really though about it, it makes more sense to keep it as an investment and get rid of the one that doesn't really do anything for us. So we'll move this one into the nook area. I have already been brainstorming ideas of how to spruce it up and tie it in with the colors in our living room (read: paint!). Of course you know I will post about that project when the time comes! For now, I need to sell/donate the secretary first so we can move the other desk into its place, and then we'll have the free space in the office to move in a larger desk once we find one.

So that's the plan! Anyone have any ideas as to how I can spruce this desk up? Paint colors and fixture suggestions? I would love to hear from any of you... I am always looking for out-of-the-box decor ideas. Hope you are having a great weekend!

[If you live in NC and are interested in this desk, here is the link to our Craigslist listing.]

January 18, 2012

Simple night

Sometimes a simple spaghetti and meat sauce is all you need. It really is my favorite comfort food, and I realized that I hardly ever make it! I am always trying to try new things or do something fancy. Tonight I stuck with the basics. And let me tell you, this meal hit the spot.

The sauce is Giada's Tomato & Basil sauce, found at Target. I added a pound of lean ground beef, 1 clove of garlic, and a little fresh ground pepper. The spaghetti noodles are from World Market.

January 12, 2012

Fun DIY Ideas

In my hunt for a new office desk, I've been perusing DIY projects for some inspiration. Believe me, some of these things I'm seeing on Craigslist are going to need a LOT of creativity to bring something good out of them! Luckily there are millions of blogs out there of people who turn some really ugly things into awesome creations.  Maybe they'll inspire you to do something similar!

Pottery Barn-esque desk made from scratch

Color splashed chairs

Doily Frosted Mirror

Faux bamboo makeover



Dresser turned TV stand



January 11, 2012

Cooking with Leeks

One of my goals for this year is to try 2 new recipes a week. Within the realm of that goal, I really want to experiment with different foods and techniques that I haven't tried yet:
- baking bread
- roasts, like chicken, beef, and turkey
- fish
- different quiche styles
- using veggies in main dishes like cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, okra, and leeks
- experimenting with different cultural flavors, like Latino and Indian

I have never cooked with leeks before, and when I saw this recipe I decided it was time to try them. I had no idea what they even tasted like (I've probably had them before and just never knew it). Found out they are similar to an onion - more like a giant green onion with a delicate unique flavoring. I was so excited when Michael took a bite of my experimental dish and actually liked it! He'll be honest with me about recipes, and with this one he said multiple times that he liked it (wife points!). So I will definitely be trying leeks out more in the future.

Chicken with Leeks & Sun-dried Tomatoes

1 or 2 leeks, white and light green parts only
16 oz chicken breast cutlets, sliced thin (I used just 2 large breasts and sliced through them to make them thin)
2 tsp butter, divided
2 tsp olive oil
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 clove garlic, minced
2 oz. ready-to-eat sun dried tomatoes
1/4 c. white wine
1/2 c. fat-free low sodium chicken broth
salt & pepper to taste
2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

a little weird looking, right?

Cut off green tops of leek and remove outer tough leaves. Cut off root and cut leeks in half lengthwise.

Fan out the leeks and rinse well under running water, leaving them intact. Slice leeks into 1/4 inch slices. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 200°. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Lightly dredge in flour, shaking off excess. Heat a large skillet on medium heat; when hot add 1 tsp. butter and 1 tsp. olive oil. Add chicken to skillet and cook on medium heat for about 3-4 minutes on each side, until no longer pink. Set aside in warm oven.

Add additional oil and butter to the skillet, then garlic and cook a few seconds, then add leeks, salt, and pepper. Saute, stirring occasionally until golden, about 5 minutes.

Add sun dried tomatoes, wine, chicken broth, parsley. Stir the pan, breaking up any brown bits in the bottom. Cook 2 more minutes or until the liquid reduces to almost half. Top the chicken with the leeks & sun-dried tomatoes and serve!

Printer-friendly version
Source: Skinny Taste

In case you were wondering, I chose this chicken broth because of the low sodium. There are other brands that say "low sodium," but when I read the label this was significantly lower than all the others. I am always looking for ways to cut out the salt (since so much food out there is high in sodium) and this one was the best option! And that wine you see in the background is Simply Naked Pinot Grigio - one of my favorites!

January 8, 2012


I really can't believe it's 2012 already! It will take me a good few months to get used to writing the correct date (always does). I'm not going to list out my resolutions but I will say this: I am really excited for what 2012 will bring. My hope and desire is that this will be a year of consistency. In 2011, I held 5 different jobs. Five different jobs. That's crazy, right? Filing taxes is going to be a nightmare.

It's neat to be on this side of things and see how it's all come full circle and I am finally in a job that I enjoy at a great company. And I'm using my degree! But it was a rough road, let me tell you. Let's just say I had a lot of tough lessons to learn. Which is scary because the more I've learned the more I realize there is to learn. I guess that's life. I am so thankful for all that this past year has taught me though. I knew that after college I would get a job and find a place to live, but I really couldn't comprehend what it would actually feel like and be like. This past year has taught me a lot about myself and also what I want in life. Pre-graduation, I didn't know what my dreams were. I didn't know what I saw myself doing. Now I feel like I have a better vision of what I want now and what I want in the future. Maybe I'm just slow and that section of my brain just didn't fully develop until now, I'm really not sure. But I'm so thankful that life has twists and turns that keep me continuously learning. It's hard at times but it's exciting!

So all of that being said, I guess my main point is that now I feel more grounded. No longer aimless and confused. I'm hoping this year I can really hash out what my dreams are and how to reach them. I can't wait to see what I'll discover. I may be about a week late, but here's to 2012!

Before I go, I'll leave you with 2 things:

A pretty printable to write down your 2012 goals and resolutions created by Valentina Ramos. She is such a great artist!

And a cute little desktop wallpaper I found here. It's so handy to have the days of the month right there on my desktop! It's also fun and colorful during the blah month of January :)

via RedStamp.com

They have one for your phone too!
via RedStamp.com

January 4, 2012

Christmas Again

Whew, these past two weeks were a whirlwind! I feel like I have been away from home for a long time... probably because I have!! This year really felt like "Christmas break." We were up in Virginia for Christmas (more on that here), and came home for a quick bit so I could work Thursday & Friday. Then we hit the road again for Charlotte to do our second Christmas with my husband's family. It was so fun! Here are some of the highlights...

Bowling with the family in Uptown Charlotte. I bowled my first Turkey ever!! I was pretty proud. Michael did really well too... but in the end I beat him by 1 point :) The whole family was saying we need to join a bowling league! Ha!

Opening Christmas gifts. As always it is so much fun to see your family open your gifts you got them! I think we did pretty well this year - everyone seemed excited about their gifts. One big hit was these cute homemade coasters I made for the ladies. Mine turned out really cute but I didn't make time to take photos before wrapping them. I'm thinking I'll make some again in the future though, so if I do I'll post pictures of those!

via The Cottage Home

Watching the fireworks over in between the buildings of the Charlotte skyline. They weren't as big as we thought they would be, but it was so fun sitting on the roof of our Prius parked on top of a parking garage, bringing in 2012 together.

Playing with these adorable kiddos! They are all so sweet and fun. Just looking at this photo makes me miss them like crazy!

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas & New Year's celebration!