04/26/2013

Back to Reality

It’s always hard to end a wonderful vacation and dive head first back into the real world again. Thankfully, taking off Monday really helped the work week to fly by and it is allowing me to push through to the weekend that much easier. I wanted to share just a little advice with all of you today though: Next time you take off work for vacation make sure you save an extra personal day to take off after getting back home as well. I always take that extra day off after our long Myrtle Beach vacation in the summer, and it truly is such a blessing. After four days away and with Monday being a full travel day, I didn’t think I would need that extra day off, but boy was I wrong; I definitely could have used that catch up day. However, you can bet I’ve learned my lesson for the next getaway!

Here are some reasons why having that extra day off at home really helps:

  • Catching up on all of the laundry accumulated while traveling and any other chores that were ignored while away, like dusting and vacuuming
  • Scrubbing out the car if you drove to your destination
  • Cleaning out all of the suitcases and other luggage that was taken and putting away any clean clothes and other items from the bags
  • Responding to all personal and business (if this pertains to you) emails and paying any bills that may have been put on the back burner while away
  • Picking up your mail at the post office if you had it put on hold for delivery
  • Mow the grass and clean up any weeds that may have sprouted up outside
  • Taking a well-deserved nap after all of those chores and/or adjusting back to a different time zone (Let’s be honest, traveling can be exhausting and sometimes you can need a vacation day to recover from the actual vacation)!

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  • Pick up your pet, whether they were at a kennel or at a friend’s/relative’s and proceed to take them for a nice leisurely walk (It’s always a great idea to bond with your pet after missing them while away…the truth is that they missed you too)!

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  • Finally, take time to make a meal plan and a coordinated shopping list, and then go to the grocery store to stock up on everything you need since, at least in my house, all of the groceries were eaten before leaving (I don’t know about you, but I love stocking up on all of the healthy staples when I get home. After days or a week of indulging, it is nice to get back on the healthy eating train again)!

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My first meal back after vacation: An Avocado & Kale Smoothie, only made with Spinach instead of Kale and a scoop of protein powder.

This weekend will consist of some of the above, both grocery shopping and picking up Tebow is already done, and I am looking forward to taking my time completing the list and enjoying being home as well. As much as I love being on vacation, it is always nice to come back to the comforts and warmth of my home.

Talk to Me!

  • When you take a vacation, do you like to save a day to take off once you are home?
  • What chores/responsibilities did I miss on my above list that you do after vacation?
  • What vacation do you have coming up soon or this summer? (I will be going to Myrtle Beach in July with my whole family)!
04/24/2013

WIAW: Hilton Head, South Carolina

Happy Wednesday everyone! Today actually feels like my Tuesday since I was off work Monday, but being that we are already at ‘hump day’, you better believe I am not complaining one bit!

If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, (if you’re not, you should be!), you may have already guessed that my weekend consisted of the long-awaited trip to Hilton Head that Tim had surprised me with as a Valentine’s Day gift. We hadn’t been out of Ohio since Labor Day last year when we went to Gatlinburg for a few days, so we were more than ready for a little weekend getaway.

Today’s WIAW features my trip to Hilton Head and showcases some of the best meals I ate while in the south. Thanks Jenn for hosting the weekly round-up!

What I Ate Wednesday

When we crossed over the bridge leading into Hilton Head, it made me so happy to see my first view of the water out the window. After leaving home at 2 am and spending the last 10+ hours in the car, I was more than ready to arrive and stretch my legs.

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First thing first though – a late lunch! Being that we hadn’t eaten anything all day except for a latte for me and a coffee for him at 9:00 am, we were absolutely starving and couldn’t wait to find a local place to eat. A Lowcountry Backyard Restaurant was a place Tim had read good things about about while researching Hilton Head dining, so we decided to head over and give it a try.

The funny thing about Hilton Head is that a lot of the restaurants are buried off the road or in strip malls so it is hard to tell what is good, and what’s not.  This little place was also hidden so when we first pulled up I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised with what we got: A simple and low key outdoor patio with a menu to match the restaurant’s charming name. I had never tried fried green tomatoes before, but I figured that being in the south and eating down home comfort foods at a local restaurant was probably as perfect of a time as any…

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I ordered the Charleston Fried Green Tomato BLT – Skillet fried SC green tomatoes on grilled flatbread, Romaine lettuce, applewood bacon and homemade ranch dressing. I also ordered Mom’s Macaroni Salad on the side. I am not usually a huge macaroni salad fan, but I figured I better try it since it is considered a signature house side.

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The verdict? The sandwich was great, perfectly fried and paired with smokey bacon!  I am usually a fan of a thicker bun, but I think the delicate tomato would have gotten lost with too much bread.  I have also decided I am a huge fried green tomato fan…especially when paired with bacon…and drizzled with homemade ranch dressing… I mean, what’s not to like, right?!  Plus, any restaurant where you get to drink out of a mason jar is probably going to be a good time!

Friday night we went to Gillan’s Fresh Seafood and Oyster Bar and decided to order the Low Country Boil to split since it was the feature dinner of the night.

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I knew before we ordered that the shrimp and sausage, corn and potatoes were going to make my meal and I would let Tim handle the crawfish, crab legs, and the majority of the rest. This dinner filled us up, but I never ended up feeling overly stuffed. Note to self, shrimp is such a healthy entree that doesn’t send you into a food coma after eating. I had about half the shrimp, half of the sausage, a potato and half of a corn on the cob before calling it quits.  I think we definitely got our seafood fix in after this huge dish.

Saturday we took a day trip to Savannah, Georgia to not only see the sights and tour the city, but also because Tim and I had very special reservations…

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…at Paula Deen’s restaurant, The Lady and Sons! (See the sign behind me?!)

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I know Paula has been in the news recently gaining some mixed emotions from fans, but Paula has a special place in my heart because her show was one of the first cooking shows I ever watched. My grandma introduced me to the Food Network when I was about 8 years old, and back then Paula, Rachel, Ina and Giada were just about the only shows on the air. It was from those series that I fell in love with cooking and experimenting in the kitchen at a young age, so going to Paula’s restaurant was something I have talked about doing for a long time! Knowing we would be so close to Savannah while in Hilton Head, this seemed like as good a time as any to take the trip.

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The meal started with a fluffy cheese and garlic biscuit, (it reminded me a little of Red Lobster’s Cheddar Bay Biscuits actually without quite as much seasoning or garlic), and a hoe cake that I liked dipped in just a little syrup.

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Tim and I both ordered the buffet so that we could try a little bit of everything.

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I loaded my plate with: fried chicken, baked chicken, gravy, macaroni and cheese, green beans, lima beans, collard greens, and black eyed peas. My favorites were probably the macaroni and cheese, baked chicken and collard greens! I ate about half of my plate to save a little room for something sweet.

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For dessert, I had the peach cobbler while Tim tried the banana cobbler. My only complaint was that the dessert portions were tiny! I would have preferred a little bit of food to a lot of dessert, ha! I figured if I was going to go to Paula’s I would go big or go home! After brunch, we headed out to take in the sights and sounds of Savannah.

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Sunday was a little chilly and extremely windy outside so we walked down to the beach…then walked right back to our hotel room after realizing that getting windburn and being whipped with sand wasn’t exactly our cup of tea for a vacation. Too bad though because the beach sure was beautiful and empty, not another person in sight!

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We then decided to head out instead to play a couple rounds of mini-golf, Tim won both times, but I must say that I did better than expected.

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We then went to get a scoop of ice cream at Hilton Head Ice Cream, but imagine our shock when we got to the register and an ice cream cone cost $6.00! Yes, we spent $12.00 on ice cream. At first I was a little annoyed by the price, but as I ate my scoop of butter pecan I began to feel a teensy bit better.

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Look at all of those pecans! Tim got a scoop of oreo and they certainly didn’t skip on his add-ins either. Knowing there was close to $6.00 worth of pecans in my scoop made the $12.00 we spent a little easier to swallow. Plus, it was quite tasty! Not exactly a shop you would go to for the view, but the homemade ice cream certainly lived up to the hype.

Dinner Sunday was at Charbar Co. and I ordered the veggie burger with on a pretzel bun and a side of truffle fries.

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Wow, were those fries good! I think that was the first time I have ever tried truffle oil, but I hope it won’t be my last that’s for sure.

After a great trip, we finally packed up Monday morning and left at about 8:30 am. During the drive home, I happily indulged in the following:

The other half of a huge bottle of coconut water I had been working on all week.

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A latte, Breakfast Power Sandwich, and fruit cup from Panera. 

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At Chick Fil A in Knoxville, I ordered an un-pictured Charbroiled Grilled Chicken Salad and for balance, a large cookies and cream milkshake that I split with Tim.

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Nothing like ending vacation on a sweet note!

 

Talk to Me!

  • Have you ever been to Hilton Head? What was the best thing you ate, or the best restaurant you went to while there?
  • Have you ever been to Savannah? If so, did you go to Paula Deen’s restaurant? What did you think?
  • When traveling on vacation, what are your usual food stops? Ours is definitely Chick Fil A…I think we stop at least once every trip!
  • Do you watch the Food Network? What is your favorite show?
04/22/2013

My House: Kitchen

It is said that the kitchen is the heart of the home, and this statement couldn’t be any more true in my house.

When Tim and I started our home search in 2010, the kitchen for me was the number one most important room.  It didn’t have to be a dream space or in perfect condition, but I did have to be able to see the potential it could become.  We loved the idea of an open floor plan and were blessed to find and purchase a house with a kitchen, breakfast nook, and living room that all opened up to one another.  Nothing is worse for the host or hostess when entertaining than being shut off from company.  While everyone is enjoying themselves and socializing in the living room, you are slaving away in the kitchen.  Hey, it is your party too so you better make the space as entertaining-friendly as possible!

The pictures are a little blurry, but I wanted to share with all of you what our kitchen looked like originally before we moved in so you can see how far we’ve come!

Before Kitchen 1

The tile was a dingy grey, the countertops were a vivid red laminate, the knobs were a dated gold, and the burgundy walls around the breakfast nook did not offer the most flattering look. 

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Needless to say, the kitchen needed a little work to fit our style and home’s theme!

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After a lot of time and hard work, here it is today:

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We have brand new granite tile on the floor and countertop that has speckles of tan, white, brown, and yellow throughout.  We replaced the gold cabinet handles with updated stainless, and with that simple and cheap change we got one of the biggest bangs for our buck!

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In the breakfast nook we are going to put a table and chair set that was my grandma’s after we finish updating it.  I also purchased these sea grass stools from Pottery Barn Outlet just a couple weeks ago.  They make a big difference in the bar area and I love the texture they bring to the space.

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At Target last weekend, I picked out a farmhouse style pitcher that is a classic piece, and I also bought this cookbook holder.  It’s hard for me not to pick out a new home décor piece every time I go to Target!  Everything is just so cute it’s hard to pass it all up…Dangerous for the pocket book though!

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I also purchased this rug that was 50% off, (only $12.98!), and I think it looks great in front of the sink.  I am in a big texture phase right now with decorating and the natural fibers and woven look of this rug made my heart swoon.

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A few ideas for additional changes I have been toying with include:

  • A beaded board backsplash (Similar to the below picture, only in white)

Cottage Charm

    • A bamboo roman shade for the kitchen sink window
  • New Stove (!) and dishwasher

LG Electronics 30 in. Self-Cleaning Freestanding Double Oven Electric Range in Stainless Steel

 Top Control Dishwasher in Stainless Steel with Stainless Steel Tub

The kitchen is not 100% complete, but I am absolutely in love with how the remodeling has come together so far!  I have definitely found that when it comes to home remodeling, the projects should definitely be treated as a marathon…not a sprint.  It will take some time to get there, but until then I am going to just enjoy my kitchen exactly the way it is!

Talk to Me!

  • What does your kitchen look like?  Have you done any kitchen remodeling projects, or did you like your kitchen exactly the way it was when you moved in?
  • If you could change one thing about your kitchen, what would it be?
  • What is your favorite room in your house?
  • When househunting, what criteria is important to you?