Sunday, March 29, 2009

Good Linens Gone Bad

You will probably not surprised by my shock and horror when I show you what I found as I opened the dryer door on Saturday afternoon:

Yes. These are my lovely Sferra Bros. Hemstitched 20" monogrammed napkins warped in a wrinkly, un-ironed mess.

Thankfully, the weekend got better from here. I was glad to have time to get serious and take care of some much needed household TLC, as well as some over-due shopping (March Madness is the perfect time to plan shopping trips to girly stores).

Once back home, I began to tackle the necessities. I whipped out my iron:

Got busy with the folding:

And finally redeemed some of my linens back to a respectable state:

Next, I whipped up a quick batch of cookie dough (Recipe coming soon! I'll let you in on my secret to making perfect chocolate chip cookies every time- perhaps one of the wife-iest necessities of all time):

...and was able to yield some pleasing results, as I am told by our special Saturday night dinner guests. Hubby made some delish homemade pizza, which probably deserves its own post one day. He's got the technique down to a science, and it's always a crowd pleaser!

We spent Sunday afternoon celebrating a very special birthday for a very special niece:

enjoyed some Mediterranean take-out, and called it a weekend.

Next up, I've got some exciting and helpful things to share, so keep your eyes peeled for:

-Chronicles of our upcoming adventure to the Texas Hill Country
-A special Wifey Wednesday skill you won't want to miss
-Kitchen safety tips, unfortunately inspired by my sweet friend's knife boo-boo that landed her in the hospital:

Feel better soon, Miss Britches :)

Here's to a delightful last week of March and first week of April!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tasty Tuesday

What better way to celebrate our new Spring patio than with shrimp on the barbie! But since we're not British, let's just call this little recipe Garlic and Lime Grilled Shrimp.

Once we saw these incredibly gorgeous tomatoes and succulent shrimp at my possible mothership, we knew there was no turning back in our quest for a scrumptious shrimp dinner.

First, we tacked the job of peeling and deveining the shrimp. We chose wild shrimp (still in its shell, flown in that morning, and never frozen), for its bold and fresh flavors. Have you ever prepped shrimp before? It's not a job for the faint of heart, but relatively easy compared to other meat prep/butchering chores.

Obviously, start by peeling off the shell:

Next, cut a thin slit on the seams of the shrimp to remove any...residue...

Then, rinse off the shrimp. I'm sure your cleaning efforts were successful, but a little extra rinse saves you from a poopy embarrassment (!) and makes guests feel extra safe that you went the extra mile for them.

After the shrimp were clean, we let them marinate in a mixture of freshly squeezed lime juice, minced garlic, EVOO, and good old salt and pepper. The shrimp needn't stay in the marinate much longer than 15 minutes. That limey acid will actually start the cooking process prematurely on your little fishies.

Hubby fired up the grill, and added these special Hickory Wood Chips- they smell incredible, make all the neighbors totally jealous, and give your food a delicious smokey and savory flavor.

Cooking time is short. Hubby literally counted down about 1 minute for each side.

Pair with your favorite white wine and, voila:

Dinner is served!

If you want to replicate this dinner, but aren't interested in taking the time to prep the fresh shrimp, then you are not to worry. Shrimp can be bought in many varieties. Just ask your friends at your local seafood counter for the "P&D" shrimp (that's "peeled and deveined" for you newbies). Enjoy!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Glorious Gardening!

While it is true that we do not have a garden in the traditional sense...

I was not going to let that little detail get in our way on the first weekend of SPRING! We headed straight to Home Depot (it's for wives too, trust me!) to select the perfect patio perennials. Much to our excitement, hubby spotted these gorgeous Gardenias:

(Ok, will-be-gorgeous when blooming time comes!)

Don't have a green thumb? Don't worry. Gardening doesn't have to be difficult. When you shop for your plants, consider where they will be at your house, how much sun they will see, and how much effort you'll need to put into caring for them.

For us, our garden hangs from 2 lovely planters on our patio- not ideal, but definitely workable. We started with our Gardenias by pulling them out of their store-planter (soil intact) and placing them into our (much cuter) planters. Then, we added soil around the edges to create a nice, tight but-not-too-tight home for our plant.

Then we hung our plants from some little hooks (previously there, thank goodness!) so as to avoid watery hanging mess, post-fertilizing.

Then, we added our fertilizer. You really don't need much. We used about 2 C water and literally a few drops of fertilizer for now. We plan to water daily, but fertilize once-a-week, and assess frequency as needed.

Now are plants are new, shiny and green! Just think how much more fun dinner on the patio will be now....ahh bliss.

We chose Gardenias because they are relatively durable and can withstand the sunny, warm climate in which we live. We learned from past experience that fertilizer is a necessary part of the gardening process. We watched our little blossoms sadly dry to potpurri last year during July. This year, we are planting during a more temperate season, and we are armed with reinforcements. Hopefully this time around will be a no-brainer.

Our back-up-indoor-Gerbera Daisies... just in case!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

I Love Lamp

Maybe it because I lived for two years with a roommate who was obsessed with optimal lighting, or maybe it I am feeling plagued by the serious lack of lamps around our place, but all of a sudden, I am really interested in lamps...

So, these NM delights are a little out of my newlywed price range, but there's no reason I can't use them for inspiration. A pretty pair of lamps can really add up, so my plan is to give a lamp makeover to my house. I even have the PERFECT candidate for a lamp makeover sitting right here in my own backyard- well, desk, but you get the idea:

As you could probably guess, I am now realizing why my mom said, "Oh sure, take it--please!" when we moved into our new place. The poor lamp can't even stand straight up! And its looking a little outdated... I am dying to cover it in new, shiny paint. Possibly white, black....or even navy blue. Random? Seemingly, but it would look wonderful with our ink blue matine toile bedroom (which is where our desk is). I also have these little bedside table lamps that have been with me since middle school. The white stand with yellow shade did the trick for my little girl room, but I think they are ready for a grown-up update. I am thinking dark stand with precious patterned shade. Preferably, I would like round drum-shaped shades. Criteria? Must match this:

Obviously, this is not our actual room, but you get the idea. Navy blue (almost black) would totally work, and I think that's what I'm leaning towards... I guess there's always the option of using a contrasting color too. I'm taking ideas and suggestions!
Get excited for my lamp makeover reveal! I can't promise you I will be super fast at whipping this project out, but I can promise you that I will show you how everything turned out.
Happy Friday!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Wifey Wednesday

Do you sometimes feel like this in the kitchen?

I think we all do, but here is something I like to do to inspire myself to feel a little more...inspired:

What is that, you say? Let me tell a little story.

My namesake and grandmother, Helen, has taught me many important lessons in life. An incredible artist and athlete in her prime, I have always admired her creativity, organization and general zest for life. As her standard protocol would require, she was always ready to host a seated dinner for 30, not to mention allowing my uncle to host upwards of 30 aquariums in his room as a child. Needless to say, Grandmother has the woman thing down.

Is she such a dish or what? Check out this picture from her newlywed days:

One of my favorites: a school play with the kids. When was the last time your mom wore this to your school play?!

I mean, she definitely has a good eye for style, and boldness to boot.

Today, she and my Granddaddy spend their days relaxing and dancing to old Frank Sinatra CDs and driving up the old Trans-mountain Road to get to the mountain home they've spent the weekend in for the past 40ish years. So many years of wisdom are bound to teach a young girl a thing or two.

So what stands out in my mind? Well, several things! But on a daily basis: my apron collection. A collection of vintage aprons from Grandmother's kitchen ("do you want those old things? I was going to toss them away!") finds a home in my little laundry room, and never fails to make my each and every cooking experience a complete delight.

How could you not be happy when you have a perfectly good excuse to use one of these?

And here's one of my favorites. The full-coverage gingham Dorothy-esque ensemble is really best for frying. It can actually save your clothes from an awfully oily mess:

Thank you, Grandmother!

Need to start your own collection? Totally understandable. Thankfully, I ran into this precious site. With designs like Jessie Steele's, you're certain never to have an un-fun cooking day again.

Also, Ballyhoo Vintage had quite the supply of extra-authentic duds. Brace yourself because honestly, each one on the site is cuter than the last. You could probably claim that these came straight from Nana's pantry! I'd like to some for myself:

See what I mean?

Sew your own? You've out-woman-ed us all. Take a trip to to pick out your ideal form.
Maybe this one?

Aprons don't have to be suffocating! Everyone's entitled to a little fun and cuteness in the kitchen. Because, simply, why not?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Saturday Musings

Last weekend:

This weekend:

...know what I mean?

After sleeping off a delicious Javier's Filete Cantinflas, this was not quite the cheery spring morning I was hoping for. In an effort to undo the evils of unpredictable Texas weather, I started my search for the perfect Easter table linens and tablescape accessories. I am trying to decide if I should go traditional (my usual tendency) or super-fun and colorful. I mean, I guess you can never have too many options when it comes to tabletop decor.

I was also inspired by this eggy delight at Pottery Barn:

How could you not sing for joy while sitting at that table?! All I know is that regardless of my decision, these adorable measuring cups from Anthro (of course!) will hopefully be part of the display (ok, fine, they're for my baking collection and would look oh-so-cute with my buttercup yellow mixer, but very fitting with the season nonetheless!)


Hopefully dinner tonight at Nick & Sam's Grill will help brighten up this dreary day. Restaurant review coming soon!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Wifey Wednesday

Hubby is out with the fellows tonight, so I'd love to share a wife-skill every girl simply must know: How to polish silver. Call me old-fashioned, but I just adore taking care of pretty things. When I noticed my silver around the house was looking a little dull, I knew I had to take action.

First, I rounded up all the silver in the house and then whipped out ol' trusty:

All it took was a little bit of elbow grease...

...and these magical beauties took my silver boxes, pitchers, trivets and trays from drab to fab in no time

Bottom line: Wear gloves. Polishing silver is not a good activity for manicure day. Work the polish into your silver piece and then buff it off with the buffing cloth. It's that simple! The key is to buff for longer than you think you need to. Streaky silver isn't classy.

Also, I'll take this time to urge every bride to use your pretty wedding gifts. Do you think your grandmother gave you those trays so you could store them in your closet? My biggest pet-peeve is lovey gifts stored away for "later." Personally, I think there's always time to enjoy the small delights in life, even if you're living in a teeny tiny apartment with linoleum kitchen floors. Not a wife? Not a problem (duh). Everyone deserves to have a clean and pretty place to live. Buy some fun pieces and start a great collection. Stack those china saucers on your coffee table, serve post-dinner coffee in your china coffee pot, serve special dinners on your fancy plates, hang plates all over your walls (the ladies in my family are dangerously obsessed with plates and china patterns, obvi more to come on that another time). You have it to use it! Here's to making your home a pleasant place to be!


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