A Goat Walks Into a Bar…

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Sunday morning confession: I love eating.  Yes, I’d definitely describe myself as a foodie.  Growing up in an Italian family that was blessed with many talented cooks, it was next to impossible to not have a little (or big) soft spot for food.  And as I’ve gotten older and have now become a mother, I want to make sure that the things I put into my body and into my son’s little body are healthy and delicious.  As a Type I diabetic, I read labels to check the carbs all day long.  However, as I have become more conscientous, I read labels even more closely for sodium. And folks, I’m here to tell you, that it can be frightening!  Why do all things delicious have to also contain mass amounts of sodium?  Oh wait, they don’t!

I recently came across homemade recipes for two of my all time favorite things in life:  goat cheese and a good Bloody Mary.  Life really wouldn’t be the same without these things.  The problem?  Well, Bloody Mary mix can be loaded with sodium!  And therefore, while I could drink a few every weekend, I don’t for this reason.  Goat cheese? Well, it’s just pricey!

So, I feel compelled to share the following recipes to bring some resolution to these issues.

Homemade Goat Cheese {source}

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 clove freshly grated garlic
  • A few pinches coarse salt
  • Herbs (up to you) but recommended: Rosemary, chives, parsley, herbs de Provence, fennel fronds, dill, and other non-herbs like dried apricots.

Directions

1.  Fill a medium saucepan with goat’s milk. Heat gradually until it reaches 180°F. Watch closely. You can run in and out of the kitchen, but don’t get too distracted. It shouldn’t take more than about 15 minutes.

2.  Once it hits the magical temperature, remove from heat and stir in lemon juice. Let stand until milk starts to curdle, about 20 seconds. Don’t expect curdles, like cottage cheese curdles. As you can see in this photo, slight clumping will occur, but nothing too drastic. Don’t go pouring in a bucket of lemon juice, thinking nothing has happened. But you can add a few extra droplets if nothing is actually happening. Also: blood orange isn’t as effective as lemon in creating the right curd texture, just sayin’.

3.  Line a colander with several layers of cheesecloth—really, several. Otherwise you’ll lose precious goat cheese through the soggy cloth. Place over a large bowl to catch the whey drips.

4.  Ladle milk into colander. Pull up and tie the four corners of the cheesecloth together and hang on the handle of a wooden spoon. (This was my favorite part, second to eating it of course.) Set over a very deep bowl.

5.  Allow whey to drain (drip, drip, drip) until a soft, ricotta-like consistency is reached inside the cloth, about 1 to 1.5 hours.

6.  Transfer to a bowl and fold in salt, garlic, and flavors of your choice. Serve on fresh bread, salads, with fruit, or just straight-up. Can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge, but after a few days, the consistency isn’t as lusciously smooth and spreadable.

7.  Eat it on everything.

8.  Repeat. Make as much as possible.

Elizabeth’s Heirloom Bloody Mary Mix {source}

  • 8 ripe heirloom tomatoes, cored and quartered (about 6 lb.)
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce

PREPARATION

1.  Place tomatoes in a Dutch oven, and mash with a potato masher until chunky. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, 20 to 25 minutes or until peels are wilted and most of juices have been released.

2.  Press tomatoes through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a medium bowl, pressing with a wooden spoon to squeeze out juices; discard solids. Return tomato juice to Dutch oven, and stir in Worcestershire sauce and remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium heat, and cook, stirring often, 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and let cool to room temperature (about 30 minutes). Pour into 2 (1-qt.) jars; chill 2 to 4 hours. Store in refrigerator up to 5 days.

I promise these things will do your body good. Have a great week y’all!

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Visions of Dining Rooms…

Are dancing in my head lately. I really, really want to redecorate my dining room and I have known for awhile exactly how I want it to look.  I’d describe the look as casually elegant, but with a semi-rustic vibe.  My inspiration has come from many pictures, magazines, the 2012 Southern Living Idea House and last but not least, one of my favorite restaurants here in Atlanta, Abbattoir.

The good news about achieving this look is that it can be done on a pretty low budget.  The table is the most pricey piece to the puzzle, but if you can get the table on a great sale, you’re already ahead of the game!  World Market has a sale on a great trestle table right now and I’ve got to have it!

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I’m really digging this chair for two of the side chairs, but tufted backs or no?  Let’s vote!

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I’m certain I want wing chairs at each end of the table with linen slip covers with box pleats like the ones in this picture from the Southern Living Idea House.

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I will definitely get the wing chairs off of the list from my old friend, Craig and then buy or have slipcovers made for them.

For the other two side chairs, I want to go with a simple wood chair like this. I like the X detail on the back.

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And of course, I need a rug.  I’m leaning toward a simple jute rug.  I like the texture of this one and the price is right!

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How do you all feel about this combo? I welcome thoughts, opinions and

suggestions, so please comment!

 

 

 

 

 

Things I’m “Fall”ing For…and a beer.

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I love, love, love Fall. It’s my favorite time of year for so many reasons.  I love the weather, watching the leaves change colors, the football, food, smells, the clothes and the decor.  Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, which of course happens during the Fall too.

Fall fashion just gets me so excited. I have a total obsession with boots, so that’s probably why.  But, I’m loving this scarf and am thinking I have the perfect spot for it in my closet. I love the camel and cream combo and think it would add the perfect amount of fun to any bright dress or sweater.

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I’m also totally crushing on these suede wedges. Confession:  I’m pretty obsessed with all boots and wedges, in general, and own too many pairs.  There’s just one for every occasion or outfit and it’s just that simple.

These would look oh so stylish with tights and dresses, skinny jeans, and skirts. I’m also going to have to make room or these in my closet.

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One of the things I love most about Fall is the awesome weather. Being outdoors as much as possible is the best way to soak it all up.  And what better way to view the leaves changing than through these aviators?  I’m in the market for a new pair and I believe I’ve found the winning pair!

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Last, but certainly not least, all good football games are even more fun to watch if you are enjoying a nice, cold, frothy adult beverage. I’m typically a wine drinker, but in the Fall, I like to switch it up!  I definitely love me some bourbon and to celebrate the Fall, I love a good pumpkin beer.  And this one is so delicious!

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Cheers, friends!  Here’s to the the wonderful season.  Hope y’all have a great week!

Now Dip, Baby Dip

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Have I mentioned how much I love football season?  I love college football! OK, now you all know.  What do I love most about it? Well, the pageantry, the upsets, the shocking wins, the close games, the blowouts, and of course, the tailgating.  Since I am an alum of one of the greatest tailgating schools EVER (so humble, I know), I’ve got a long list of tailgating recipes I’ve accumulated over the years.  I’m also a total snacker. Hmm..maybe this is why I will never be a size 2. Oh well. Life is short and really, the magic number 8 is fine with me.

So, as I sit here typing, watching the Gators take on the Aggies (welcome to the SEC, Aggies), I’m also enjoying a classic dip recipe. Life has been too busy lately and I just haven’t had the time to blog much.  However, enjoying this addictive dip inspired me! I want to share some of my favorite go-to dip recipes that are always crowd pleasers. Disclaimer: eating these all football season will be pure bliss, but don’t give up the gym!

Buffalo Chicken Dip (aka “crack” dip)

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Ingredients

  • 2 (10 ounce) cans chunk chicken, drained
  • 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup Ranch dressing or Blue Cheese dressing, if you’re feeling really indulgent
  • 3/4 cup pepper sauce (such as Frank’s Red Hot®)
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

Directions

Preheat oven to 350.  Heat chicken and hot sauce in a skillet over medium heat, until heated through. Stir in cream cheese and ranch dressing. Cook, stirring until well blended and warm. Mix in half of the shredded cheese, and transfer the mixture to a slow cooker. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top and bake until the cheese is melted and the dip starts to bubble. Serve with celery sticks and your favorite crackers or tortilla chips.  It’s delish…enjoy!

Cobb Salad Dip (aka “I just can’t stop” dip)

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese (about 2 ounces)
  • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 medium avocado, finely chopped (about 1 1/3 cups, cut just before serving)
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 4 slices bacon, well-browned and crumbled

Directions

 Place the sour cream, blue cheese, lemon juice, salt, and Worcestershire in a medium nonreactive bowl and stir until well combined. Fold in the avocado, scallions, and parsley, transfer the dip to a shallow serving dish, and top with the bacon. Serve with celery sticks or assorted crackers.
Hot Swiss Bacon Dip (from the Junior League of Tampa’s Life of the Party)

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Ingredients

  • 4 tbs. green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 – 8 oz. packs cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups shredded swiss cheese
  • *Crumbled bacon bits (cook 15-16 strips of bacon, drain & crumble)
  • 1/2 cup crushed Ritz crackers

Directions

Mix together green onions, mayonnaise, cream cheese and swiss cheese and spread into casserole dish.

In a separate bowl, stir together:

*Crumbled bacon bits (cook 15-16 strips of bacon, drain & crumble)

1/2 cup crushed Ritz crackers

Spread the bacon / cracker mixture on top of the cheese mixture.

Bake in 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes or until bubbly.

Hint: Ready-to-serve bacon makes this process much quicker and it tastes just as good.

Serve with your favorite crackers or veggies.

There are MANY more where these came from, but these are a few of the most addictive I wanted to share with you all today.

I’ve got to run…I’ve got dip to devour!  Have a great weekend, y’all!

Are You Ready?

I know I am! For what, you ask?  Football season, of course. T minus two weeks from tomorrow will mark the start of the 2012 college football season.  While I’m definitely partial to my alma mater, Ole Miss, I really just enjoy watching any game. Well, more like any SEC game.

As an Ole Miss fan, I must admit that we don’t win too many games. However, at Ole Miss, it really isn’t all about winning.

It’s about The Grove and all of the sensory experiences. The Grove at Ole Miss is a place any loyal football fan should visit at least once in his or her lifetime.  And I’m not just saying this because I love Ole Miss.  I promise. Not only has it been ranked the number one tailgating school in the country several times by the NY Times, Southern Living, and Tailgater among others, but if you love pretty decorations and good food as much as I do, it’s the perfect setting for you to enjoy a little pregame fun.

If you like pretty chandeliers…

{via Pinterest}

Damask curtains…

{via Pinterest)

Fabulous centerpieces…

{via Pinterest}

Or just a sea of red and blue…

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You’re in luck.  The Grove has something for everyone and everyone leaves with something.  There’s no other place quite like it.

In my own home, I have a wall dedicated to Ole Miss.  I’m not sure how my husband feels about it since he’s a Gator, but it hasn’t been torn down…yet!  I also even managed to sneak in a little monogrammed pillow in Ole Miss colors.

How do you incorporate your alma mater or favorite team into your home?

And so, I’ll leave you with this my friends…

ARE YOU READY??

Love at First Sight

Does it exist?  Some say it does and others think it’s a crazy notion.  Personally, I’ve never believed in it. Maybe I’m just a skeptic?  Maybe I’m just jaded? I’d like to think it’s that I believe that there’s more to love than the initial physical attraction and therefore, you have to get to know the subject before falling in love.

Well, that all changed yesterday.  It was just an ordinary day and then the mail man came.  No, I didn’t fall in love with him!  He brought me this catalog and from the moment I saw the cover, I knew my life had been forever changed.

And it was all based on initial attraction. I hadn’t even opened the book and I already knew I was in love. They say not to ever judge a book by its cover, but as we all know, there are always exceptions to the rules.  I mean, look at that table. How could you not love it?

So, I opened it and my oh my…the love just blossomed.  I was beside myself when I saw this chair.

As I continued to look through the catalog, I grew deeper in love.  I can envision this beauty in my foyer.

So, the big question here is how have I never known about this store?  This is the first I’ve ever heard of it and I really have no idea how I even received the catalog.  I guess it’s true.  Good things come to those who wait.

Happy Hump Day, everyone!

Summer Loves

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Wow…it is insanely hot outside!  I can barely stand it.  I’ve always said I was a delicate flower, but being in this heat gives it new meaning.  I’m not even THAT prissy, but seriously…I’m outside for maybe five minutes and I am longing for the AC!  As a Florida native, you’d think I could handle it, but no, I’m just weak.  However, that doesn’t mean I hate summer. I just hate the heat!

I love the beach.  The smells and sounds relax my soul and the feel of the salt on my skin is something I long for when it’s winter.  I recently took a trip to the Outer Banks in North Carolina and it was so good to be out on the water. My son loved hanging out on the beach.  He’s little beach bumb for sure!

After a long day in the sun, it’s always nice to enjoy a refreshing adult beverage.  While I love a good margarita (frozen or on the rocks, but, no salt, please), I also love a light wine I can enjoy in the summer. I recently discovered this wine and I’m a big fan.  It’s light and crisp and its citrusy flavor pairs well with seafood, salad or fruit and cheese.  It can also be enjoyed alone if the mood strikes.

Well, unfortunately we can’t vacation forever. Once it’s time to leave the beach, do you ever find yourself wanting to just take it with you?  Maybe that is why we all take shells home?  Personally, I want to take the scent of the beach home with me.  And sure, there are candles for that.  But, even better, I found this perfume that allows you to take the summer scent with you everywhere you go.  I actually discovered it a few years ago and every summer, it’s my go-to scent.  My absolute fave is Lollia’s Wish.  I usually get mine from Anthropologie, but Lollia Life products are available at many retailers.

OK, now that you have something to drink and you smell great, go grab your love and listen to this song.

Summer will be over before we know it, so soak it all up…the sounds, the smells and the times you will always cherish.

Going Stag

Many of us have seen the trend over the past couple of years of antlers or animal head mounts being used in home decor.

I have loved this look ever since my trip to South America.  While having drinks in the fabulous La Faena Hotel in Buenos Aires, I fell in love with the decor of the decadent library bar.

We sat right there on that sexy red velvet couch and I was thinking, “I’m definitely going to somehow bring a piece of this place back home with me.”

Well, while I loved the sexy red velvet couch and all, it doesn’t really fit my home decor style. No, my house isn’t decorated like a bordello. I know..shocker! I also loved the bathroom at this hotel bar. Take a look at these faucets!

Aren’t they awesome? And the wall to wall marble was divine. But, considering one of those faucets probably cost a small fortune and the fact that I like swans, but I’d rather just see them while visting the Boston Public Gardens, I decided to leave that trend at La Faena too. But, the deer mounts was something I was digging and  I knew it would be feasible.  No, I wasn’t going to yank their mounts off the wall!  I mean, seriously…customs, people!

Having a father who hunts, I knew I could defintely get my hands on a deer mount.  However, that wasn’t really what I wanted.  And then the trend began…  I began seeing the white mounts in all of my favorite home decor magazines and all over the blog world.  I really wanted to splurge, but I couldn’t justify spending close to $200 for a white mount that I would likely grow sick of at some point (because I’m fickle like that).

And then one day about a month or so ago, I was in Hobby Lobby picking up supplies and decided to just walk down the clearance aisle.  And would you look what I found!

And it was only $39!  Come on Mr. Antelope…you’re about to get a lil’ paint job.  So, I brought him home and quickly sprayed him with glossy white spray paint (Krylon primer and paint in one, of course).

Looking better, right?  Well, after two coats, this beauty was ready to be hung on the wall!

So, I hung it right above my red velvet couch!  No, no…I hung it right above my Craigslist settee.

And that, my friends, is the story of how I brought that little snippet of my South American trip back home with me.  It didn’t involve stealing, lying or anything else illegal!

Goodwill Hunting

As most of you know by now, I am a thrift store junkie.  Yes, I admit it. I am addicted and I’m totally fine with the addiction. Every time I park my car and head towards the door of a thrift store, I get a little excited. No, I’m not kidding.  Thrift stores are full of hidden gems or diamonds in the rough if you prefer diamonds (like me).  However, every now and then, you find something that doesn’t need a facelift before gracing your home. And when that happens, this girl is extra ecstatic!

So, yesterday, I went to the Goodwill closest to my house and wow, did I leave a happy woman!  Here are a few of my finds. Stay tuned for the transformations! I’ll be keeping a couple and selling a few.

First up is this lamp.  Not only are the colors perfect for my house, but I love peacocks and the shape and height of this lamp have great style.  I’m going to find a pretty white drum shade and maybe even trim the shade in coral ribbon.  This beauty was $13.96!  Do y’all know how much lamps cost??  Ok, then, you know this is a SUPER deal for a lamp this heavy and this tall.  Oh, and the wood base is even carved…for real!

Next, I found these brass lotus flower’esque candlesticks. I love lotus flower anything and more and more I have seen them in home decor stores. I’m not quite sure what color I am going to paint them yet, but I will be selling them.  So, if you are interested, message me and I’ll paint them any color your heart desires!

Then I found this brass tray.  This would be perfect in a bathroom, guest room, powder room or on a vanity to hold perfume.  I am thinking I may stick with gold here, but I’m going to give it a fresh coat of an antique gold. I’ll also be selling this.

Now, if you need to know one thing about me, know that I love artichokes!  That would include spinach and artichoke dip…yum.  Anyway, I had artichokes in my wedding bouquet…

as decor on the ends of the pews in the church…

and also stacked in tall vases on our recpetion tables.

So, yesterday, when I spotted this large tray, I knew she was coming home with me!  I’m thinking I will hang it in between two windows in my dining room and hang a white plate above it.  How does that sound?

So, what’s the moral of this story?  I’m a thrift store addict who also has an obsession with artichokes?  No, no, no! Lesson from today’s post:  GET TO A THRIFT STORE STAT!  The inventory is ever changing and the good deals go fast.  If I had the time, I’d visit them daily.

Hope y’all are having a great day!

Summer Patio

Today is a beautiful day here in Atlanta. The high is 79 and I am loving this weather! I also know better than to get used to it. Before long, it will be insanely hot and this delicate flower doesn’t dig insanely hot!
Until then, we will be enjoying our screened patio…free of mosquitoes and all other scary insects!

We recently replaced our patio cushions and along with that, I spruced up the space!

I am really happy with this outdoor room. So, I wanted to share it with all of you!