Wednesday, July 31, 2013

New House: Stairs + Kitchen + Dining Room

Today is our closing day! In honor of that, I thought it'd be a good day to show you more pictures of our crazy house.

Right off the entry room I showed you last time is a door that leads to the stairs. My mom looked at these pictures and said, "That's the most charming spot in the whole house!" HA! Kind of true, though? The striped wall paper will obviously be going, and I think we'll paint the stairs a combination of black and white before putting down a new runner. And obviously something much cuter in that pretty bay window.

At the end of the hallway after the stairs, you reach the kitchen. The glorious, laminate kitchen. The fridge is very special here, and gets to live in it's own cubby in the hall! We're thinking of just pulling it into the main part of the kitchen for now. A bigger kitchen re-model is in the works, but we'll be living with it as-is for a while.

To the right of the kitchen is the dining room. To me, this is one of the best places in the houses (at least by comparison). It needs cosmetic updates, as opposed to serious structural changes (though we would like to widen its doorways at some point). I love the built-in, though the previous owners weirdly painted the bottom half and added shutters to it. Not sure if I'll try to strip that paint and leave it as wood, or just paint the whole thing (your thoughts are most welcome!). I'm not sure that the wood is in great shape, so we'll see.

Okay, that's enough for now. Wish us luck signing our names on a big stack of papers!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Fried Avocado Tacos

Do you ever leave posts in your drafts folder for no apparent reason? I've had one post on songs I always have stuck in my head in drafts for over a year (aren't you dying to know what they are now?! I'll just tell you: it's mostly Christmas music that I sing year round, much to Peter's delight!).

I've had this photo of fried avocado tacos saved in that folder for a while, too, which is real shame, because they are delicious and not as hard as they sound. You will like them!

I used this basic recipe, but much lazier. First, make sure you're starting with a perfectly ripe avocado - not too mushy and not too firm (though if I were swinging in one direction or the other, it would be the firm side). Slice it up into 1 inch strips, give it a dip in a scrambled egg, and then gently toss it in panko. I heated up about 1/2 inch of vegetable oil - much less than they call for in the recipe - and just flipped them around a few times to get everything nice and crispy.

That white stuff at the top was a genius addition (if I do say so myself!) - a big spoonful of plain Greek yogurt, chopped cilantro, lime juice, and crumbled blue cheese. I made blue cheese guacamole once a long time ago, so I knew it would work well with the avocado. Then add whatever other toppings you want - rice, corn, beans, etc. (I'm reading this right now, as Jess said, it makes me crave tortillas!).

Have you made these yet? I hear they're all the rage in Austin!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sunday Afternoon at Tanglewood

We've been to Tanglewood a lot this year, but hadn't been to a BSO performance until last Sunday. Our picnic was fantastic - grilled, sliced steak, corn salad with cucumber, avocado, and goat cheese, and lobster potato salad (!). Add a fantastic book to that mix, and you have a pretty perfect cap to a summer weekend.

Here's to sitting outside in the sunshine with a cool glass of Rose. Happy Sunday to all!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Jazz at the Mount

For the last few years, we've been trying to scoot over to the Mount around our anniversary. This year we walked through those lush woods on the way to the big house, and there were all sorts of crazy sculptures tucked into the landscaping.

At first I wasn't sold on them - the space is so gorgeous in its unadorned state - but then I found out they were done by students at a local high school. Pretty impressive, right? And how neat for them to have their work featured here!

We went for one of their music after hours events, which is such a neat way to see the property. You don't have to pay the usual admission fee, and you get to hear fun jazz on the terrace! The first floor of the house is open so you can explore a little bit (not as much as if you were going during their regular hours, of course, but still!). And you can stroll through the gardens and grab a drink from their terrace bar. We even saw some families with little kiddos camped out on the lawn with blankets and toys (you can see them below).

It's every Friday night through August 31, if you're interested! I'm totally biased, but I think the Mount is just the prettiest.

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Lucky Eights

My mom has a theory that ages ending in "8" are extra lucky.

When I turned eight years old, I was allowed to get my ears pierced. My dad took me to a shop in the Ingleside Mall, and a terrifically nice woman, who was so gentle and sweet and seemed 40 to me, but was probably 20, pierced my ears. I spent a crazy amount of time perusing the stud options, because you have to keep those first ones in your ears for an ungodly six weeks or something, and I finally asked my dad if I could get these dark green sparklers instead of the standard silver balls. He said yes, of course (I think they were $6 extra).

That night, I got my American girl doll, and I got to go to dinner with just my parents, anywhere that I wanted. I chose the Somers Inn, which was the fanciest restaurant I could ever imagine going to. At dinner, the lighting was low and there were candles on the tables, and I sat across from both my parents, and we were practically alone (it actually wasn't a very good place), but I imagined they had a special room cleared because I was eight, and I was alone with them celebrating. Our car at the time had one of those middle seats in the front, and for obvious comfort reasons, my sister and I were never allowed to sit there. But that night, I got to.

That year I went to third grade, which in my little town at the time was a school only for third graders. That sounds so crazy, right? But it was amazing. We ruled the roost. I spent my recesses searching for four-leaf clovers on the edge of our third graders-only play ground with my friends, and I found dozens throughout the year. I've never, ever been able to find four leaf clovers like that again, but of course, I haven't been looking for them as much, either.

Shortly after I turned 18, I went on a pre-college camping trip through the school. It was terrifying to fly down to North Carolina on my own, but I had the luck of the eights: on that little trip, I met some of my very dearest friends. I started college, and went on my first winter term trip to Ireland, and successfully made my way in a completely new part of the country (and I can still turn on a fairly decent Southern accent at the drop of a hat - sometimes unintentionally). It was a lucky, wonderful year.

And now I'm just finishing up 28. One of the weird things about the eights, I think, is that their magic becomes more clear the further out you get. So while it does feel like I am closing a wonderful chapter - this year I've been working at job I adore, where I grew a lot, started graduate school, formed much closer friendships with people locally, and bought a house - I think I'll be able to see the real providence of 28 a bit later on. But for now, thank you for being so lovely, 28. I'll try to hold on to the lucky things that were set up here until I get to 38, at least.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

New House: Entry + Living Room

Soooo, I have to say, I'm a little nervous to actually show you some pictures of our house (well, it will be ours in a few weeks - we close at the end of the month!). I think this fear stems from seeing other people post "before" pictures of their homes, outlining all the things they want to change, when really, it doesn't look that bad at all. Know what I mean? THIS HOUSE LOOKS BAD.

But, as my mom says, if something is kind of ugly or really ugly, you still have to change it. And so, I give you our entry way and living room. It needs so much love and attention, you guys.

This is the first room you walk into from the front entry. Peter's so disgusted, he had to leave immediately. This was likely a front porch that they converted into an all-seasons room, and they left some very clear remnants of it's past. For instance, they kept the original front door, a glass sliding door,and their outdoor light right inside their house. OMG I KNOW. Other horrible things to note: the paneling, the linoleum/cheap carpet combo, the gross old windows, and the tile ceiling.

This space is actually something we're planning to tackle right away, which I'm sure comes as no surprise (wait until you see the rest, though, and you'll understand why we wrestled with keeping it as is to do something else first instead!).

The doors inside will go, and we'll have a beam put up to secure the structure of the house (since that used to be the end of house, it needs some special support). The crazy windows will be replaced with two sets of double windows in the front, and then the hardwood that's hiding under the living room carpet will be carried throughout here. Down the line, I would love to think about moving the entry way to front of the house (it's currently on the side), and maybe adding a closet where that window is next to the real front door. And maybe a wall? We'll see how things progress.

Sorry for the blurry picture, but it's probably better for your eyes :) This is the living room, which is on the other side of the sliding door. As you can see, central air! Just kidding. If you turn that AC unit on, it blows a fuse for the entire downstairs. We're having it removed, and a full window will go there instead. We're pulling up the carpet (which will hopefully reveal amazing hardwoods, knock on wood, seriously, please do), and taking off the wall paper, of course.

The bigger issue is something you can kind of see here - the wall on the other side of that door is actually covering up a fireplace. It hasn't worked for ages (maybe ever?), and square footage is at a premium, so we're going to have it removed so we can open up that wall, which goes into the dining room (and it also cuts into space in the upstairs bedrooms, which is a bigger problem)

Because of these issues (and a few others with the basement and roof, eww, worst places to have to spend reno dollars), we're going to keep our apartment for the month of August and move in about a month after closing. This will be a totally magical renovation where the things I mentioned will all be completed before we move in! (Absolutely not true, but I keep telling that to myself anyways!!!)

Any advice, guys?! I know many of you have recently taken the plunge into home ownership! Should I be doing anything besides pinning like crazy right now? I hope not, because at the moment that's my pro-bono part-time job .

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

America the Beautiful

The Berkshires does Americana really well, right?! Last weekend, we strolled through Stockbridge and saw Jackson Brown at Tanglewood, followed by amazing fireworks over the lawn. Our actually anniversary was a bit of a bust (I had to go to urgent care! I'm fine now, though, don't fret), so it was nice to be able to relax and do all these super fun, but completely un-strenuous things.

Summer, you're my BFF.

P.S. I published my mini guide to Martha's Vineyard! I tried my best to squeeze all my favorites into it. I hope you enjoy!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Google Search History

Can you guess what we've been up to?!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Stick Together

This past year, our wedding day has started to feel bit further back in the distance to me, a little fuzzy around the edges. Instead of having specific ideas about escort cards and welcome bags, I found myself just nodding along when I listened to engaged people explain the details of their wedding. I still love hearing about all those details, but I no longer have any advice to offer up (this is undoubtably a good thing, as engaged people usually don't want married people's advice). But I still can't help myself from sharing the best bit of advice we got before our wedding, which was given to us by dear friends who were newlyweds themselves: On your wedding day, stick together.

They prefaced it by saying, "I know this will sound a little intense, but if you don't make a conscience effort to stay near eachother throughout the wedding, the day will go by and you won't have spent it together." I now say the same exact thing, admitting that it does sound sort of intense.

I've come to believe that this advice also translates beautifully into post-wedding days together; at least, it has for us. Life will sometimes be intense, but stick together. In doing so, we get to experience all the magic that our wedding day contained - joy, happiness, friendships, fear, families, annoyances, disappointment, beauty, nervousness, and so much fun - spread out over the course of all our days, together.

Happy anniversary, Peter. I'm so happy you're the one I get to stick with.
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