Sunday, July 24, 2011

Pantry Plans

I've mentioned several times that we are having issues with our kitchen storage, specifically our spice collection. A large part of this is that we don't have a pantry to speak of, right now our "pantry" consists of block and board shelves in the basement. Don't get me wrong, I am very very grateful for the storage room the basement gives us, however I would love to have some of our kitchen stuff in a more accessible area. Well we have plans to fix (or at least alleviate) this problem, big plans!

One of the things I love about this house is the placement of the dining room, it's right next to the kitchen which makes entertaining easy because you can talk to guests that have gathered around the dining room table. We like thinking of the dining room as an extension of the kitchen and therefore it is the perfect place to add pantry space. We came up with the idea to build some corner shelves that will fit in to the corners of the dining room. They will be open shelves which means we can only put nice looking things on them but it will be a great use of otherwise wasted space. Eric has some grand plans for how he is going to make these shelves and I'm going to leave that to him, he's the engineer, not me. My part comes in the form of making the stuff that goes on the shelves look presentable. Here are some of my inspiration pictures of open pantries,

Today I took the first step and started buying some glass jars for spices. This will not only help with making things look nice but will also help consolidate some of our duplicate spices which in turn helps with the storage problem. Here are what the jars look like, I plan to pick up more as I can find them for cheap,

I have no idea when this project will be completed, it may not be for quite a while but I am excited to think about the day when we will have extra storage for our kitchen stuff :-)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

They Grow Up So Fast

I peeked in at the baby birds again today and my oh my they are growing fast! Pretty soon they will be leaving the nest, it's been really fun to watch them grow. They are tricky little guys to get pictures of but you can see them pretty well in this one:

New Camera Lens

Things in my life have been crazy this week! Between all the Birthday madness (which was awesome!) and the stress of starting a new job I am about ready to fall over and sleep for a week.  I've been wanting to post more and work on the house more but have no time or energy. That being said I am happy as a clam to be learning new things and taking on a new challenge, even if it does stress me out.

Being a photographer for my day job (as well as my night and weekend job) is pretty awesome. I love that I get to do something creative and it certainly keeps me on my toes. I am learning a lot from my coworkers and supervisors, working with a team of professional photographers is a pretty amazing way to learn and grow in your own photography. One of the things that has helped my pictures a lot this past week is finally getting a fixed lens for my camera. I was shooting with a standard 18-55 or 18-105 and I think it was definitely holding me back. I got a shiny new 35 mm f 1.8 for my Birthday and I am in love with it. The quality of pictures just don't compare with what I was taking before.

I hope that quality of the pictures in my blog will reflect my growth as a photographer. I am learning how to better control my camera every day and it is an amazing feeling. Expect better pictures from here on out :-)

Here are some random pictures from my first few days experimenting with the new lens

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Baby Birds

I've been closely following the development of the little nest by our front door and the eggs have indeed hatched. I have been sneaking peaks at the babies but I'm afraid to get too close for fear of disturbing them so i haven't been able to get a great picture. Here is the only one that I got where you can see anything at all.

See that grey fuzzy lump? That's a sleeping baby bird!
I finally got to catch a glimpse of the mama bird and I've determined that they are Carolina Wrens, not Carolina Chickadees. I can hear the little babies chirping to be fed every morning and every afternoon, they are so sweet! I can't water my plant anymore because I'm afraid of disturbing them so I guess I am just going to have to let it die, oh well :-/ Having baby birds is totally worth it! I'll keep trying to get a better picture and I'll be sure to pot it is I do.

Monday, July 11, 2011

More Wildlife Watching

Today as Eric and I were coming back from our run I noticed that my hanging basket of Angel Wing Begonias was looking pretty wilted so I got it down to water it. Lo and behold there was a little birds nest buried at the base of the plant with 4 eggs inside! I was beside myself, how exciting! I only hope I didn't disturb them by moving the basket. I've never noticed birds going in and out of it so i guess they steer clear when I'm in the fron yard. I also found some more evidence of nesting birds in the area by way of a fragment of blue egg shell that I found on our front walk. At first I thought it was a robin's egg but after some research I think it might be an Eastern Bluebird (I've seen a few of these in our yard this year). The nest in my hanging basket (I think) is a Carolina Chickadee nest, at least the best I could tell from looking it up online.  If there is anyone out there who is knowledgable about birds nest identification feel free to correct me :-)

Here are some pictures of the nest with all the little eggs in it, it's so exciting to have them right at our door!

backed out view of the hanging basket, you can see how well hidden the nest is!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Store Review- Kudzo Antiques

Today we went on a little outing with some friends of ours to the wonderful Dekalb Farmers Market in Decatur. On the way there I mentioned how I had never been to Kudzo Antiques, the huge, colorful antique store we passed on the way, but had always wanted to go. My friends agreed that they would like to check it out as well so the 4 of us made a detour and wandered around the store for the better part of an hour. Oh man, let me tell you, I was in heaven. The store is huge and has a wide variety of styles from vintage industrial to mid century to folk art so a little something for everyone. I found a ton of stuff I wanted, I mean a TON but my better judgement won out and I walked away empty handed but with lots of ideas. My favorite items were the vintage and repurposed industrial furniture, so cool! Here are some pictures from their website of some furniture I would love to own one day.

If you ever find yourself in the area I highly recommend that you check this place out. Just be prepared to spend about an hour to hurt from wanting all the things you can't afford ;-)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Odds and Ends

We've been doing a bit of work on the house and updating some things today and over the past week so I'm just posting about the odds and ends we've been working on. First of all our air conditioner has been on the fritz lately and last week while we were at the beach in completely stopped working on us. Luckily my parents were keeping an eye on the house and my dad was able to figure out what the problem was. Apparently there is all this condensation  that collects on the AC unit in our basement and it is suposed to go to this little box and then get pumped up a tube and out of the house. Well for whatever reason the pump wasn't working so the box just filled up with water and caused the AC to shut off. Today Eric figured out a way to connect a hose to the box and allow the excess water to be routed out of the house and in to the back yard where I can collect it and use it to water plants. It's a win win! I've mentioned how useless we are in the heat so it's a very good thing that our climate control is up and running again.

Other than the AC issues I have been trying to get going on our baseboards. I took some really bad pictures to share :-)

Here's where I put up the first baseboard. I left the additional baseboard raw
cedar since this wall is all wood anyway
This is a wall that still needs baseboard, I'll have to paint the additional
pieces white for these so they don't stand out too much. You can see there is
about an inch gap between the old baseboard and the floor here.

I also replaced our old, crummy towel rack in the guest bathroom today.

old towel rack, after we removed it from the wall.
new towel rack, much better :-)
I had to get out some paint to touch up around the towel rack so I thought as long as I was at it I might as well start painting the master bathroom too. I have been putting this off for a very long time because I got so sick of painting from all the work we did right before we moved in. Our bathroom ahs pretty much looked like this ever since :

Well I finally took the plunge and got going on the painting again and guess what? I'm still sick of it! *Sigh* Oh well, I got tired after about an hour and decided to quit for the day, this bathroom may a take a while to get done. Here is an in progress picture:

That's it for now, hopefully I will have some baseboard progress and a finished bathroom to show you soon!

New Additions

I've been rounding up some cute new home accessories lately and thought I'd share. Now that we are home owners I take any chance I can to use coupons or sales and gift cards are just about the best thing ever. We recently got a belated wedding present from some friends of Eric's family (which was awesome because we totally weren't expecting it) in the form of a Target gift card and we used it to get this sweet new lamp.

My other recent purchase for the house comes from being a World Market rewards member. They sent my a $10 gift card for my birthday, that's just free money for me to buy something special! I ended up getting this awesome bamboo cutting board with prep bowls (which was more than $10 but at least I was able to get it half off). Since we try to eat healthy at home I could really use something like this while chopping up veggies and herbs. And it's bamboo so it matches every thing else in our house.

If you ever shop at World market and haven't signed up for their rewards program yet I highly recommend it. Not only do they send you birthday cash but they have great coupons as well and they are such a great place to shop.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Design Inspiration

We have been doing little projects around the house here and there but nothing major of late. In case you haven't noticed, it's hot here in the Summer. Eric and I are both cold weather people and find it very hard to be productive in the heat. We have some awesome plans for things we want to add to the house this Fall though, just wait :-D

I also just got back from the beach and apparently it takes me a week to unpack and get back in to real life mode. I did manage to start on a project that we have been meaning to do for quite a while and that is putting up base boards to cover the gaps that our new flooring caused when we put it in, I have one wall done so far, lol. I'd post a picture of it but it's not that exciting looking, maybe I'll post one when I finish all the walls.

So until I have some interesting stuff to post about our house here is some more eye candy for you. I was having a conversation with my mom today about where we get the inspiration for our our interior design style. We came up with three stores that we really look to for ideas and inspiration, Anthropologie, Restoration Hardware and Sundance. Of course we take inspiration from other sources as well but these are three of our long term favorites. Let me just tell you that my mom is a super classy lady with great taste. At least I think so, but that may be because our tastes are almost identical ;-) It's great to have someone you can bounce your ideas off of that really gets your style and she also makes a great shopping buddy. We like to share our design inspirations and ideas with one another. Here are some beautiful pictures from these store's recent catalogs to get you inspired.

Restoration Hardware
Of course these stores are all outrageously expensive so they are really just places to look and get ideas, then you can hopefully find cheaper alternatives that are along the same lines elsewhere. Maybe someday when I win the lottery I will buy all my furniture from them, until then I'll just day dream about it :-) Where do you get you design inspiration for your house? Any cool stores I should know about?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Low Carb Cooking- Shrimp Fajita Salad

Unfortunately I didn't get a picture of this one, I was too hungry ;-) Nevertheless, it was so delicious I felt the need to blog about it anyway. After a super relaxing long holiday weekend at the beach I am in a fresh seafood kind of mood. I don't usually cook a lot of seafood because it's expensive. However Publix has shrimp skewers on sale for 10 for $10, what a deal! Here is the recipe (which I totally made up) I think it turned out pretty tasty.

 Ten to Fifteen fresh shrimp peeled and with tails on
One tablespoon peanut oil
One red or yellow bell pepper sliced
One large onion sliced
about half a tablespoon of Adobo seasoning
Juice of one lemon
One jalapeno pepper
One bag of salad greens of your choice
3/4 cup cherry tomatos halved
Two green onions chopped
Half a cup of shredded cheddar cheese
Half a cup of salsa of your choice

Heat peanut oil in a wok or large frying pan. Add shrimp, onion, bell pepper and jalapeno pepper and stir fry for four to six minutes or until shrimp are cooked through. Near the end of cook time add juice of one lemon and Adobe seasoning plus any other seasonings you want (I used a spice blend from World Market called Calmex). While this is cooking toss salad greens, cherry tomatoes and green onions. Top salad greens with shrimp, onion and pepper stir fry and add cheese and salsa to taste.

This recipe turned out to be delicious and it very low carb. It's great for these hot Summer days and takes almost no time to cook. It also satisfies my craving for Mexican food, my absolute favorite kind of cuisine, yum!

*note: this salad fed me and my husband just about right however Eric has a pretty big appetite. It would probably feed two to four people depending on how hungry you are.