Spring is in the air!


Hi Y’all!  I just wanted to post a picture of the spring flower arrangement I made.  I bought the pussy willow from Whole Foods a while ago for about $5.99 and let it dry out.  If you keep it in water it will root and plant it from there.  I recently bought the  tulips from Trader Joe’s for about $4.99 – I love buying Trader Joe’s flowers, they’re so cheap!

 

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Basically  I just put the pussy willow branches in a big old vintage mason jar we found when cleaning out my grandmother’s house.  I was a little worried the tulips would be too small for the jar, but the pussy willow limbs create a structure to keep the tulips from falling down too far in the water.  I just kind of put the tulips in there – in whatever position I thought looked good.  I like to go for a natural-looking feel.  And there you have it – a dramatic Spring arrangement for a little over $10.  It took me less than 10 minutes to create!

 

And a brief update on my mason jar herb garden…

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My cilantro is doing very well as seen in the picture above… the thyme and basil not so much.  I think I overwatered it which is what I always do wrong!! I should know better.  Oh well, no one is perfect.  Matt and I are going to Ireland next week, so I think I will use the seeds I saved to start over when we get back.  Have a great Tuesday!!

 

 

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Running for Boston


Well today I was going to write about how well my arugula is growing, but it just doesn’t feel right with the events at the Boston Marathon on Monday.  Instead, I thought I’d take the time to reflect on what happened and why it hits so close to home for Ryanne and I.

What does running have to do with a blog such as ours that posts about family recipes, sewing projects, and gardening?  Well running for Ryanne and I has become somewhat of a family tradition passed down by our dad.  I wouldn’t really say we have a long line of running enthusiasts in our family, but I’d like to think my dad has started something special… no not a recipe for banana bread, but a love for setting goals and working hard to exceed them, having a healthy lifestyle, and having determination to train for hours upon hours for a race.  As he said during our last race, he hopes Ryanne and I continue to keep up the family tradition of running after he can’t run anymore. I think I replied with “Well maybe if I keep running until I’m 80 I can qualify for Boston because the qualifying time will be easier.”

I was so excited when my dad qualified to run in the Boston Marathon after running his first marathon – I had to make the trip up to Boston to watch him.  I knew he was excited too, talking about the infamous landmarks along those 26.2 miles such as the Newton Hills and the Wellsley girls that he had read about in the book 26 Miles to Boston.  My dad put in countless hours training and had the most amazing training ethic I’d ever seen.  I think my mom was starting to believe she was a “runner’s widow” because my dad was always out running.

When it came time for heading up to Boston, I wasn’t really sure what to expect.  I knew the Boston Marathon was the Superbowl of Marathons, but had no idea the type of electricity and sense of pride it brought to the area.  That weekend my husband Matt and I spent time with his father’s side of the family and stayed with his grandmother at her bed and breakfast on Walden Pond.  We’ve always loved going up to Boston to visit, so it was nice to show my parents around as well.

On the day of the race my mom, Matt, and I were so excited and couldn’t wait to get a spot along the race route.  It was set to be the hottest Boston Marathon ever.  My dad kept texting us and updating us from where all of the runners gathered at the start in Hopkinton.  While we were all excited for that day, we also had heavy hearts as it was the 5th anniversary of the Virginia Tech massacre, which occured at our alma mater.  My dad wore a shirt to let everyone know he wasn’t just running for himself, but for the 32 people who died.

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Once we got to the race route, about at mile 7, it was so hot I couldn’t imagine running in that heat.  But quickly those thoughts faded as we watched the elite runners go by, runners who were blind, runners who were wearing prosthetics, Team Hoyt, and active duty service members who were hiking the route with their rucksack in memory of fallen soldiers.  The streets were jam-packed with thousands of people for as far as the eye could see.  We watched and waited eagerly to see my dad – I had never been to a race like this before in my life!  I remember cheering and clapping furiously because of the energy of others at the race.  Finally we saw my dad and took the picture below.  I truly believe his smile conveys that running Boston is one of the crowning moments of his life.

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So as I share this experience it’s so hard to believe that something so inhumane and tragic could occur at one of the most positive, energetic, and emotional sporting events in the world.  Lots of runners being interviewed have shared that they feel like it was a personal threat to them, even if they weren’t there.  I feel very much the same way, especially as my dad would have finished up around the time that the bombs went off if he had run it this year.  While the media continues to show the explosions near the finish line, there is one picture I have to keep replaying in my head to remind myself that the world is not a bad place.  This picture is of a runner who had cramped up about 3/4 of a mile from the finish line, right where we were standing.  He could barely walk and had collapsed to his knees.  Seeing this, two other runners ran back and lifted him up carrying him the rest of the way to the finish line.  I will never forget that selfless act of kindness, it truly reminds me that not all in the world is evil. So this week as I go on my runs through Raleigh, I think of and pray for the runners, their families, spectators, Bostonians and know that good will prevail.

Garden in a Jar


Hi y’all!  I hope everyone had a great Easter weekend and had time to make our Homemade Peanut Butter Egg and Deviled Egg recipes.  We would love to hear any feedback if you did and don’t forget to follow our blog!  Matt and I had a pretty relaxed Easter – just went to church, had some Mimosas, played with Airlie dog, and did some more planning for our upcoming trip to Ireland in May!  We don’t dress up often so we figured we’d take a picture:

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One thing I’ve been wanting to do is to start a herb garden.  Usually I buy herb plants from the NC Farmer’s Market here in Raleigh, but this year I thought I’d try to grow my own from the start… we’ll see how it goes!  Hopefully the three generations of green-thumbers in our family can send their powers my way.  Matt and I took a little trip to a local Garden Supply store in Raleigh called Logan’s Trading Company.  We love going there and perusing the aisles of cool plants, envisioning what our yard is going to look like once we finally find the perfect home to buy (that’s been an adventure in itself!).  They had avocado trees, fig trees, and pomegranate trees… I totally intend on buying one of each once we have a yard of our own!

Before we got started with the herb garden Matt re-potted some of our houseplants.  The one you see below is a Madagascar Palm – it’s very hard to kill because it requires very little water.  Beware of the sharp thorns! Basically to re-pot it, Matt just removed it from the old pot, broke up the root ball a bit, then used fresh sandy soil and put it in the new pot.  We also got worm castings and sprinkled them on top as a natural fertilizer (I’ll talk about that later!).

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Now on to the mason jar herb garden…

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I used 3 mason jars that I already had.

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I bought 3 packets of seeds.  I LOVE fresh cilantro in salsa (need a great salsa recipe?).  I also love to top pasta dishes with thyme and goat cheese, and finally fresh basil makes me happy and is easy to grow.  Pick whatever herbs you think you’ll use the most!

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Since we didn’t drill holes in the bottom of the jars for drainage, I put wine corks in one (about 1/3 from the bottom of the jar) and river rocks in the other two jars.  This will create a place for water to go so the soil doesn’t get too wet and rot the roots.

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Then I filled the rest of the jar with soil, up to just about 1″ from the top of the rim. See how the rocks/ corks allow room for air in the bottom?

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After reading the seed packets for directions, they said to plant the seeds 1/2″ below the soil.  I just sprinkled about 1/2 of the seeds on top of the soil.  I figured some of the seeds wouldn’t actually sprout and I wanted to improve my chances of growing some herbs, which is why I sprinkled more than I technically should have.  I’m storing the rest of the seeds in case these don’t grow well!

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Then I covered the seeds with a thin layer of soil and then some worm castings to help them grow! We bought a bag of worm castings from Logan’s for about $20.  It’s a great organic fertilizer to use.  Hopefully later this Spring I’ll make some time to start my own little vermiculture setup (a.k.a. worm farming).  Sound gross?? Yes!  But my friend has a little set up and it’s not that bad.  I’d rather do that than continue to pay $20 for a bag of the worm castings!

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Finally, I simply wrote the name on the mason jar lid and put it under the jar to make sure I don’t get my little herb plants mixed up.

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My herbs require full sun and it just so happens that mason jars fit perfectly in a window sill.  I’ll keep y’all updated to see how my herbs are growing… they should take 10-15 days to sprout, so check back in!  Matt and I also planted some arugula in outdoor planters.  Check back for that post soon as well.  If you need other mason jar ideas, they’re great for drinkin’ beer.  Airlie agrees too!

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Homemade Peanut Butter Eggs = Heaven!


Easter was always a special time of year for our family which entailed going to church, having some type of Easter lunch, Easter egg dying and hunts, and of course coordinating Easter dresses.  If you remember from our Christmas blog posts, our mother never had a shortage of matching or coordinating outfits for Ryanne and I.  Looking through some of our old family pictures last weekend I found a few and unfortunately they don’t convey the talent my mom had at sewing and hand smocking such cute dresses.  Here are a few specimens:

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A-List celebrities such as Taylor Swift and Jessica Biel obviously were inspired by our bangs.

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“We’ve trained all year for this day, leave no egg behind Ryanne!!” – Megan (I didn’t really say that)

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Displaying our goods, another Easter Egg Hunt down.  Now time to get a sugar high in celebration of a good egg-hunting season!

And for the recipe…

Our most FAVORITE Easter treat was not a Peep, or a Cadbury Creme Egg, or even a whole chocolate Easter Bunny, no it was DaGa’s Peanut Butter Easter Eggs!!!!!!!  We anxiously awaited each year as DaGa put the finishing touches on the delicious treat.  It was a recipe she’d also teach her high school home-economics students to make.  I would eat little pieces of mine so it would last for as long as possible, which for a little kid is WILLPOWER!  Yes, DaGa’s Peanut Butter Easter Eggs were that good.

Before our half-marathon last weekend, Ryanne and I made our first attempt at making them on our own.  While they might not be as perfect or big, or pretty as DaGa’s were, I think she might be proud, and honestly my stomach doesn’t care what it looked like 🙂  If you like Reese Peanut Butter Eggs, these are EVEN BETTER!

DaGa’s Peanut Butter Easter Eggs:

Print recipe here!

2 sticks margarine

1 cup creamy peanut butter

4 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar

2 cups dipping chocolate (or 1 bag chocolate chips and 3 tbsp. Crisco like we did)

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How to Make ’em:

First, cream the two sticks of butter with an electric mixer until smooth.

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Add in the cup of peanut butter and the confectioner’s sugar (a little at a time).  Mix until fully incorporated.

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It should look like this yummy goodness when you’re done mixing!

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Then mold the peanut butter mixture into an egg shape as shown by Ryanne. We used about a handful of mix.

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Then put them on parchment or wax paper and put in the refrigerator for at least one hour to harden.

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Once the eggs are hard, melt your dipping chocolate or as we used chocolate chips and crisco in a bowl in the microwave.  Make sure it’s not lumpy or too thick, if it is add more Crisco (yes, Crisco is shortening.)

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Then I stuck a wooden skewer in the top of the egg and dipped it in the chocolate.  You might need to spoon the chocolate over the top.  Once you place the chocolate-dipped egg back on the parchment paper, cover up the hole with more chocolate after you remove the skewer.

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Once you’ve coated all of the eggs in chocolate, put them back in the refrigerator for about an hour.

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Decorate them with icing if you’d like.  DaGa always wrote our names on each egg and decorated them with flowers.  Enjoy!  Store in the refrigerator or in the freezer.

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day!


Well even if you aren’t Irish, St. Patrick’s Day is fun to celebrate.  Our way of celebrating this year was running the Quintiles Wrightsville Beach 1/2 Marathon today with our dad.  This is the first race that we have all run together, so it was lots of fun!  The weather was perfect, and despite waking up at 4:30 am for the 6:40 am start time, we had a blast!  We wore St. Patrick’s themed tutus (or as we later decided they looked more like Tinker Bell skirts) and got several compliments on them from bystanders.

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We were very happy with our times, Ryanne and I both set Personal Records and came in the top 10% for the women!  Our dad left us in the dust and ended up getting 3rd place in his age group!

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The best thing about the end of the race was that they had Natty Greene’s beer at the finish line and our medals also served as beer bottle openers 🙂

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Our husbands and mom also came to watch to watch and brought our dogs.  Arlie was prepared! And just in case you ever find yourself in need of a DIY St. Patrick’s tutu…

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I just hot glued tulle and glittery ribbon to another ribbon.  I got all of the materials at A.C. Moore.  Have a great week!

The “Thank You” or “I’m Sorry” or “Congrats” Dish!


Sorry for the lack of posts lately, I’ve been busy training for my upcoming half marathon that Ryanne andI are running with my dad… as well as working, having visitors make their way down South, and socializing a lot with friends!  I’ve been meaning to do a post for quite a while now on a chicken dish that I like to make.  Our family friend made it for us back when I was younger although  I can’t quite remember why.  Either way it has turned into our family’s go to dish to say “Thank you” to someone, a dish to take when a family member is sick, or in this case I made it when my friend had her baby.  I also read somewhere recently where you can get “Southern Charm” points by returning a dish someone brought to your house (for a pot luck and maybe forgot it) with something in it!  You can make it ahead and let the recipient bake it on their own or go ahead and bake it for them.  We like to serve it over top of wild rice and it would be especially good with broccoli on the side!  Without further ado, here’s Lucy’s Baked Chicken Dish:

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6 boneless chicken breast

1 can cream of chicken soup

1/3 c white wine

1/4 c melted butter

1 c pepperidge farm stuffing

6 slices swiss cheese

Directions:

Place chicken in baking dish,
Top with cheese slices,
Mix together soup and wine,
Pour over chicken,
Stir the stuffing mix into butter and spread over soup mixture,
Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees.

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As you can see above, the wild rice is on the side.  You can just pack it all up, buy a make your own salad bag from the grocery store and there you go, you’ll look like a hero! Enjoy!

Hemming Bootcut Jeans


Sometimes it’s difficult being short, especially when it comes to finding the right length of jeans.  I find myself in between petite and regular sizes, so finding the perfect pair of jeans is a rarity for me!  I have a nice pair of jeans I bought from LOFT that fit everywhere perfectly but the length.  After months (ok I was really bad about it, almost a year) of procrastinating I finally dragged out my sewing machine and attempted to hem them.  Sometimes if you hem jeans like regular pants it looks pretty ridiculous quite frankly, because most jeans have the light colored stitching at the bottom.  I wanted to maintain that in some way and found this blog post on how to hem jeans while keeping he original look.  I was excited and ready to go – the only problem is that this method really only works on straight leg jeans and mine were boot-cut.  Sooo what did I do next?  See below!

First, try on your jeans and roll up the cuffs to get a general idea of how much shorter you want them to be.  Measure the cuff and keep that number in your head.

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Measure 1/2″ above the original hemline

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Make some type of mark going around the whole cuff to show where the 1/2″ line is

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Cut carefully all the way around!

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You should end up with an inch-long strip of the original hem, save this, you’ll need it later!

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I wanted to take about 1.5″ off the hem, so since I will be taking 1/2″ off when I add the original hem piece back on, I measured out 1″ and made a mark all the way around the cuff.

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And then cut it (I know this part can be a little scary!)

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Remember the original hem strip you have? You’re now going to use that and match it right sides together to the cut hem line of the jean and pin all the way around like so.  Don’t forget to match up where the vertical hems are.

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Here’s a better picture showing the right sides together.

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On your sewing machine, sew a straight line slightly to the right of the original hem line until you get all the way around.

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It should then look like this, but you’re not finished yet!

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Iron the hem flat.

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I hand-stitched where the beginning and end of the original hem strip came together so it would look more finished.  Next trim the fabric that is extra along the inside hem.

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Repeat on the other leg and you’re done.  Don’t they look nice? You can’t even tell I hemmed them!

Baby it’s Cold outside!


Brrrr! I don’t know about where you are but down here in Raleigh, NC it’s been freeezing!  I went on a long run this morning as I’m training for the Wrightsville Beach Half-Marathon and it was a chilly 9 miles!  One of my favorite winter dishes to eat ever since I was little is Brunswick Stew.  DaGa and my mom used to make it all the time in the winter and it’s a healthy dish sure to warm you up!  One great thing about it is it freezes well too, so you can make a double batch, let it cool, and fill up Ziploc freezer bags and freeze.

I was looking up the history of Brunswick Stew as it’s an essential Southern winter staple and apparently there’s a fight over where it originated… Brunswick, GA or Brunswick County, VA.  Since I’m a Virginia girl I’ll say Brunswick Stew was invented in Virginia of course! Some of the main ingredients for most recipes are lima beans, tomatoes, corn, meat, and other vegetables. I wanted to try it with okra, but my Northerner husband threw a hissy fit.  I will next time 😉

Southern Brunswick Stew:

Print Recipe

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  • 2 cups frozen or fresh sweet corn
  • 2 cups frozen or fresh lima beans
  • 2 lbs. chicken breast or tenders
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes ( I use organic/no salt added so I can control the amount of salt!)
  • approximately 1 lb. potatoes
  • 2 onions
  • approximately 10 cups of water
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

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First dice up your onions.

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Heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in a LARGE pot on medium heat.

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Add the onions and saute for about 3 minutes.

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Add in the 10 cups of water.  Bring to a boil.

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Add in the chicken breasts or tenders.  Boil until they are cooked all the way (mine look pink here, but they weren’t… I think it was the lighting)This will make your chicken stock. Remove the chicken and let cool slightly.

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In the meantime dice the potatoes and add to the chicken stock and boil.

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Shred the chicken with two forks or by hand and add back into the pot.

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Add in the lima beans and tomatoes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

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Finally add in the corn and let cook for about 20-30 minutes on low heat.

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For best results save and eat the next day so the flavors can all marinate together, but if you’re like me it’s so good it’s too hard to wait!  Here are two essentials that I must have with my Brunswick Stew.

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And…

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Corn muffins!

Have a great weekend!

Girls’ Night and Brown Sugar Pecan Brie


Every Monday night some of my girlfriends and I get together to catch up, eat good food, play with our newest Bachelor watching buddy Baby Anna, and of course watch the reality show The Bachelor.  Don’t judge!  Sometimes after coming home from working with my clients it’s nice to watch TV shows that require no mental effort at all!

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Since this Monday night tradition started, I always think about ways my grandmother DaGa would get together with her friends for “Girls Night” back in the day.  She and her friends would  get together every other Tuesday to play bridge (which requires much more effort than watching The Bachelor).  Just like my friends and I she and her friends would rotate who would host each time.  She would have her card tables set up with table cloths, provide desserts such as pineapple upside down cake as well as other snacks like mints and nuts.

It was my turn to play hostess on Monday night.  We first went to Sugarland, a delicious bakery that originated in Chapel Hill, NC and just moved to Cameron Village in Raleigh.  They have 5$ martinis that they make with their homemade gelato that are fabulous! Next we came back to my place to watch The Bachelor.  This week I made snickerdoodles and Brown Sugar Pecan Brie.  I apologize for not having many pictures, but I was trying to make it fast when everyone was there since it tastes much better if served immediately!

Brown Sugar Pecan Brie

Print recipe here

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Ingredients:

About 1.5 tbsp. of butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 cup chopped pecans

1 wedge brie cheese

3 tbsp. bourbon or whiskey (optional)

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Melt the butter in a skillet on medium heat.  Add in the pecans and toast.  Then add in the brown sugar and bourbon or whiskey.  If you or you’re husband drank it all and you didn’t realize it until the last minute (like me) you can substitute water instead.  Let everything mix together, stirring occasionally for about a minute.

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Pour over your brie wedge and serve with crackers.  It’s a simple appetizer that is a definite crowd pleaser!

Tonight we’re going to the Rodeo! I’m making Ginnie’s chocolate cake to take to our pre-rodeo party.  Check back in to see pictures and the recipe 🙂

Something Old, Something New Part III!


Hello friends!  Yesterday I woke up to an exciting early morning delivery from Mr. John Owens.  He reupholstered some wingback chairs for me that were in dire need of a makeover and did an AMAZING job; I highly recommend him if you’re in the Raleigh/Clinton, NC area.  I was trying to find a “before” picture of the chairs but couldn’t find one.  Just imagine the ugliest pea-green color in a velvety fabric and that’s what they looked like.  One was from my mother and the other I inherited from my grandmother (they were a pair).  And here’s what they now look like, just in time for hosting The Bachelor viewing party with my girlfriends on Monday!

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Aren’t they beautiful!? I love that old furniture can be revitalized.  You can buy wingbacks from Pottery Barn or Ethan Allen, but they are often super expensive and let’s face it… they just don’t make furniture the same anymore.  I got the fabric, which is really heavy duty, from Printer’s Alley in Raleigh.  I highly recommend them as they have  super cute fabrics in a variety of price ranges.  As Mr. Owens was taking away our wingbacks to get their makeover I noticed they were made in Hickory, NC.  He kept commenting on what good chairs they were.  So I’m glad we’ve been able to give these comfy chairs a snazzy new life and helped the environment by not taking them to the dump… bonus points!

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A close up of the fabric.

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The fabric coordinates with some pillows I made for our couch a few years ago, but isn’t too matchy-matchy.

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And it also coordinates with our dining room chairs that I reupholstered with an ikat print also from Printer’s Alley.  For more information on how to do this check out Ryanne’s post.

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And the finishing touch, a new orchid.  Now I’m excited to eventually empty out our storage unit and revitalize other furniture I inherited from my grandmother!