On My Mind: November Edition

grace-71. Back in August, I talked about how I woke up one day and decided I hated my bathroom… Well, I’ve finally gotten around to giving it a bit of a refresh (reveal to come soon!). I’ve been looking around for artwork, and I happened upon Grace Lee, a Toyko-based Australian artist. Her drawings are so whimsical and fun. I thought the one above would look adorable in a bathroom, but I also really like this one and this one.

2. I’m sure people have moved on to the next big thing in impractical footwear by now, but I have to admit: I kind of still love UGG boots. (For the record, I was NOT one of those college girls who wore ’em with yoga pants and a North Face jacket… I was way too broke for that nonsense.) For someone whose feet are always cold, they’re a godsend. But after last year’s polar vortex madness, my pair got so much salt in them that the left boot literally cracked… I’m thinking it’s time to upgrade. Luckily, UGG just came out with a water-resistant boot. It’s about damn time! What took so long?

3. Kudos to Linda Merrill of Decorative Surroundings for putting together an awesome Pinterest board of design resources, including guides to pillow sizes, molding styles and chair backs. Ever wondered the difference between a camelback and tuxedo sofa? She’s got ya covered.

4. Do you guys have a morning routine to kick off your day? Not like brush your teeth (hopefully you do do that), but, say, take five minutes to stretch or download a news podcast to listen to in the shower? I’ve started making the bed as soon as I get out of it, and I’ve really grown to like it – it brings a sense of order to one little corner of my life. I’ve been debating moving my phone away from my nightstand… haven’t gotten there yet. Apartment Therapy’s 10 Things to Do the First 10 Minutes of Your Day offers some good ideas, but I’d love to hear yours.

5. And, of course, how could the holidays not be on my mind? The stores have been pushing Christmas on us for the past three-plus weeks already! When do you think it’s appropriate to bust out the tinsel? Tomorrow is Dec. 1. I know what my plans are : )

(Image: Lamington Drive)


Weekend Rewind: Friendsgiving Dinner

I know it seems like all I do is live for the weekend, but… well, I kinda do live for the weekend. (I have been working on some new projects around the apartment though; I’ll share those later this week.) I kicked off the best time of the year – college basketball season the holidays! – by hosting a Friendsgiving last weekend.

It’s amazing how much work goes into hosting a dinner party – and I didn’t even cook all the food! I made pork roast instead of turkey (I like my mom’s once a year, but I don’t need it more often than that), and all of my friends pitched in an appetizer, side or dessert. We had sooo much food: brie and crackers, nuts, baked garlic, spinach balls, potato casserole, collard greens, roasted vegetables, Amish chicken and noodles, derby pie, sweet potato pie, pumpkin rice krispie treats… I’m sure I’m forgetting something. It was gluttony at it’s finest.

Despite all the hours spent cleaning my apartment, Pinterest-ing my dining room table and stocking up on beer, wine and whiskey, I would absolutely do it again tomorrow. I’d love to hold a regular dinner series once a month or so with different themes. Unfortunately, I just don’t think it’s in my budget – all that stuff adds up! But I do have the perfect table for it, which is exactly why I bought it in the first place.

At the very least, hopefully this can become an annual Friendsgiving because – bear with me, I’m about to get sappy here – it really did make me thankful to all the wonderful friends, both old and new, in my life! xoxo

Weekend Rewind: Gallery Wall Reversal

Monday’s are the worst, and since I’m taking a grad class that meets on Monday nights, they’re even more agonizing. So I apologize for my lack of Monday posts lately—there’s just not enough time in the day!

That’s what it felt like this weekend too. Run, bridal shower, bachelorette party, training, open houses, cleaning, reading… I packed A LOT in.

I’d never been to a bachelorette party before. Luckily, there were no strippers, penis straws or tiaras, and it was generally a low-key affair. I wish I had taken pics of our food at Quartino’s, where we started the night. Pizzas, bacon-wrapped dates, caprese salad, fondue… YUM. We ordered pasta, but we cancelled that part of the order because it was coming out last, and we were all already so full. The place is packed and loud (not somewhere to take Grandma), but I’d definitely go back. The prices were reasonable too, especially for River North.

Outside of all that other stuff, I also managed to fit in a few household projects. I still haven’t completely “recovered” from painting the living and dining rooms, but I did get a handful of things back up on the walls.

Before painting, I knew the gallery wall just wasn’t working for me. As much as I love all those beautiful mixed-and-matched gallery walls on Pinterest, mine just had too many colors, mediums, frame styles, etc. And this is after I’d already taken a few things down…

IMG_1111So I decided to get back to the basics. Five photographs. Five matching frames. Done.

DSC00870I think it’s a huge improvement. It’s just so much cleaner. Do I wish the images were a little bigger? Sure. But I think it works… for now : )

Speaking of, I used those 3M Command Picture Hanging Strips, and while I love that I don’t have to put nails into my freshly painted wall, I’m not sure I’m crazy about them. Hopefully they hold! Have you used these products? Love ’em, loathe ’em?

Quiz: What’s Your Design Aesthetic?

Everyone’s favorite listicle website, Buzzfeed, now has a fun new design quiz! The questions range from “What color is your soul?” (definitely navy) to “How would you like your eggs?” (deviled, duh).

Screen Shot 2014-02-13 at 12.12.13 PMI got… Pottery Barn meets a Pinterest search for the term “rustic.” At first I was VERY upset. I’ve never bought a thing from PB or searched “rustic” on Pinterest! But then I read the description:

You love to keep your stuff in baskets and mason jars. Your dream house features a wood porch, exposed beams, and lighting fixtures made from twigs. When you are old, you will move to a log cabin or a cozy barn-like structure and live by lantern light.

OK, so it’s about half right. I do not have baskets, but I do like to drink out of mason jars. My dream house does have a wood porch and exposed beams, but definitely not lighting fixtures made from twigs. (What does that even mean?) And I can see myself going the log cabin route when I’m old and cranky, but I highly doubt I’ll give up electricity.

What’s your style? Take the quiz here, and let me know if it more accurately portrays your tastes!

Urban Nesting’s Top 10 Pins

How are we feeling about Pinterest these days? I’ve had more than one girl friend over the past few weeks say she’s overwhelmed by it, or that she still likes it but no longer “love loves” it. I’m not going to lie: It makes me anxious some times. So much inspiration, so little time! I try not to look at it right before bed.

But I also know I’ll never leave it. It’s such an amazing resource, even in just in the organizational sense. I’ve been old-school “pinning”—aka ripping pages out of magazines—for years and years. Just ask my mother. And my filing cabinet. But now that we have Pinterest, I can have all those ideas in one place. And it’s portable. And sortable. And searchable! So long clutter. Pinterest in amazeballs.

OK, I should never say that again. Sorry.

So I mostly use Pinterest for three things: 1. Home decor inspiration (including home DIYs), 2. Recipes and 3. Gift ideas (in a secret board, of course!). Sure, there’s the other boards about architecture, beauty, fitness and fashion, but those kind of fall by the wayside in terms of my main interests. What do you collect on Pinterest?

Well, if these numbers are any indication, recipes are where it’s at. I checked out my most repinned items specifically from Urban Nesting, and five of the top 10 are food! Here’s a rundown (and don’t forget to follow me on Pinterest… if you’re not completely sick of it):

1. Foodie Friday: Pesto-Stuffed Chicken

IMG_01822. Foodie Friday: Strawberry Mango Salsa

IMG_10003. I Want That Wednesday: Urban Backyard

brammy-kyprianou-residence-exterior-pool-family-portrait4. Foodie Friday: Pumpkin Streusel Muffins

IMG_14535. Foodie Friday: Brown Sugar Balsamic Pork Tenderloin

IMG_1120Rounding out the top 10:

6. I Want That Wednesday: Indiana Basketball Card
7. Completed This Space: Entryway Vignette

8. Dining Room Revamp: Part I
9. DIY: Dipped Wooden Spoons
10. Foodie Friday: BBQ Shredded Beef Sandwiches

Foodie Friday: Sausage and Tortellini Skillet

Between settling in at the new job and having some pretty epic fails (see lentil soup) in the kitchen as of late, I haven’t put up any Foodie Fridays the past few weeks. I’m back, but with a disclaimer: This isn’t so much a recipe as common sense.

Sometimes I look around at Pinterest and find a million awesome dinner ideas, but then I look at the ingredient list and think about how I’ll be eating dinner at 10 pm (which I do a lot of the time anyway) by the time I get home from work, go to the grocery, get the million and one ingredients, prep, chop, dice, saute, boil, sear and whatever else it takes to get the dish on the table.

So if you’re in the same boat as me, then this one is for you. One pan. Six ingredients. Zero measuring. Thirty minutes tops. No prep time and very little clean-up. You’re welcome.

IMG_4238_e What you’ll need:

Olive oil (enough to coat the bottom of your skillet)

Smoked sausage (just a hint: turkey sausage tastes very similar to the real deal)

Diced garlic (again, the amount is up to you)

Pasta sauce (I’m a big fan of Trader Joe’s garlic pasta sauce)

Pre-made tortellinis (try mushroom or spinach to reduce cheese overload)

Cheese (your choice, I used some mozz and some parm)

Optional ingredients: onions, red pepper, red pepper flakes, spinach, etc.

Make it happen:

1. Slice your sausage into bite-size pieces.

2. Heat the olive oil in your skillet over medium heat. Add sausage and continue to stir until all pieces are well browned, about 5-7 minutes. (It’ll smell freaking awesome. Resist the urge to steal some out of the pan.) This is where you’d also be cooking your onions or red pepper if you chose to add them.

3. Add garlic and stir. (Careful not to burn the garlic, only takes about 30 seconds to brown.)

4. Add the pasta sauce and tortellinis (and red pepper flakes and/or spinach, if you want), and stir until combined.

5. Once the sauce is bubbling, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until tortellini are tender.

6. Lift lid and stir. Then add cheese to the top, and replace the lid. Continue to simmer for about 3-5 minutes until the cheese is melted.

7. Dig in!

Adapted from Kevin & Amanda

IMG_4239_E(Images: These are terrible. My apologies. It’d been a rough day, and I was too lazy to get out the real camera. It tastes good though, I swear!)

Foodie Friday: Pumpkin Streusel Muffins

IMG_1453It’s officially October, so you know what that means: pumpkin everything! If you’re not on Pinterest (or you’ve been living under a rock), you may have missed out on the explosion of pumpkin recipes the last couple weeks. I like pumpkin, but I think even more than the taste, I just like the idea of a fall being here. Fall leaves, riding boots, football naps and pumpkin goodies? So. Excited.

Anyway, I decided to give one of ’em a try: the pumpkin streusel muffins from Damn Delicious. I wanted to make a treat to bring into the office (the old one, mind you) to solicit donations for the Get Your Rear in Gear Race tomorrow (there’s still time to donate!). Gimme your loose change, and you get a muffin. It went surprisingly well! I brought in 15 muffins, and walked away with $35.

The muffins were incredibly moist, and partnered with the streusel and the glaze, they were almost like little cakes (in fact, next time I think I’d make them in a mini-muffin tin). My only edit to her recipe would be to add a little more butter to the streusel mix (maybe 3 tablespoons instead of 2) so it comes out extra crumbly. IMG_1457

To avoid a 5 am wake-up call, I baked these at night and added the glaze in the morning (though I’m sure they’re best served fresh out of the oven). If you plan to do the same, make sure the muffins cool completely before putting them in Tupperware. I think I put mine away too quickly because the streusel was a little soft in the morning. Just FYI.

Click here for the full recipe. (By the way, this definitely yielded more than 12 muffins, at least for me!) Do you have a favorite pumpkin recipe? Please share it in Comments.