The Beginnings of a New Flower Garden

Began clearing and prepping a new flower garden this weekend, which will mostly be for perennials. My neighbor even helped me get started this morning by giving me her divisions, how nice!

Here is the before:


Here is now:

The rock structure in the middle is the beginnings of a keyhole garden…more on that later, if it actually works.

Will share updates as things progress.

And I’ll leave you with a blurry photo from an amazing concert. Saw Hunter Hayes with a friend last night, he is phenomenal!


Dan+Shay were also a great opener!



Is it Springtime yet?

The weather sure is having trouble making up its mind this year. It’s officially spring but certainly doesn’t feel like it. I’ve been trying to get a jump start on the garden, but it’s still tool cold to get much going.

Took some time to get the patio ready the weekend before Easter. Needed a space for the grill as it was taking up too much room on the patio, so I added these painted concrete pavers. Really pleased with the overall effect, and my quick spray paint job seems to be holding up well so far. I promise to put up a tutorial at some point.


Went ahead and started the herbs and lettuce, as well as cold weather pansies. Was going to wait a few more weeks, but Home Depot had them on sale for a great price (probably because it’s been so cold that no one is buying plants yet). Now I just have to remember to move them up under the roof each night…already lost the basil, oops.

Many more garden projects in the works and many more pictures to come!

Have a great week!


Home cookin!

As part of my Dave Ramsey Total Money Makeover, I have been living on a restricted grocery budget these past few months as I work through my debt snowball in baby step 2. I’ve been making a strong effort to not eat out as much (and to do so inexpensively when I do), as well as trying to fix more meals at home. This also means Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Stop and Shop have been replaced with Aldi, farm stands, and homemade. I still hit up Highland Park Market on occasion as they tend to have really good sales. They are also one of the few places around here with a meat counter, which makes it easier to only buy the amount that I need, thus saving money and waste. Had fun staying in and trying few new recipes this past week.

Homemade Pita and Carrot Hummus

Used the Pita Bread Recipe from the Joy of Cooking. Thanks for sharing this recipe Jack, these were really fun to make, and not nearly as difficult as I had imagined.  While they tasted great, my technique could use some work as very few of them came out circular. Will also try mixing in whole wheat flour next time.

I started with this very basic hummus recipe and then made the rest up as I went along. After trying different hummus combinations at The Station restaurant at Overlook Farm in Clarksville, MO over the holidays, I am looking forward to making other variations this spring.

Carrot Hummus Recipe:
6 large carrots, washed, peeled, and diced
1/2 of a medium onion, sliced
1 can garbanzo beans, drained
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp ground cummin
2 garlic cloves, minced

1. Place carrots in a saucepan with steamer basket, with onion slices on top. Steam for 10 minutes. Reserve any remaining liquid.
2. Place carrots, onions, garbanzo beans, olive oil, lemon juice, cumin and garlic in a food processor. Process until smooth. Add remaining water from carrots if needed to thin.
3. Stir in parsley and additional seasoning to taste.
4. Enjoy with homemade pita sliced into wedges!

Cheddar, Apple & Chive Brioche Rolls with Cowboy Chili

My newest obsession is brioche, love the sweet bread combined with savory mix-ins! Since it’s too expensive to buy from the bakery on a regular basis, I figured I would give it a whirl at home. It really wasn’t difficult, but does require a lot of time to rise at various points. I made cheddar, apple, chive brioche rolls today. Love the combo, but my dough could be sweeter and I need to increase the amount of mix-ins. Will post the recipe once I get it closer to what I had imagined. In the meantime, here are a few photos.

Like my new Pyrex yellow bowl!? I have recently fallen in love with mid-century housewares; vintage pyrex, fire-king, and jade-ite have stolen my heart. Thankfully, I’ve been able to score a few great finds at goodwill and antique shops at home, as my decorating/housewares budget is ridiculously small these days. Mom and Dad have also been keeping an eye out auctions, keeping my fingers crossed for some steals this summer 🙂


20140406-214641.jpgEnjoyed the brioche rolls with Cowboy Chili, a nice and hearty recipe for my DR beans & rice budget. Also a great crock pot classic for cooler days.


Cowboy Chili Recipe:
1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 lb bacon, sliced into 1/2 in pieces
1/2 medium onion, diced
2 cans pork and beans1 can kidney beans
1 can baby butter beans
1 cup ketchup
1 tbps liquid smoke
3 tbps white vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
salt & pepper to taste

1.  Brown and drain ground beef.  Fry bacon and onions, drain.

2.  Combine all ingredients in a crock pot.

3.  Cook for 3 hours on high, or 8 hours on low.

Since I’ve still got a very long way to go on my debt snowball (tons of student loans), my goal is to start sharing other kicked up DR beans & rice recipes (i.e. budget friendly meals for the foodie palate). Hoping it will help to keep me motivated and accountable along this journey, as it is likely going to be a long one :-), and that others might also find it helpful.  For any one out there feeling in need of financial freedom, I highly recommend Dave Ramsey‘s programs, books, and radio show.

Other photos/ramblings from the weekend…


Had fun shopping with my birthday money at Crate & Barrel on Saturday, picked up a few new kitchen essentials (thanks Aunt Jan)!

Finally found a butter pot! And it came with a nice little discount since it was the last one in white and was missing a box…didn’t know C&B did that, but I’ll take it! When I moved into my current apartment, it didn’t have a microwave. Rather than buy another appliance to clutter up my small kitchen, I just found ways to live without one (read: plan ahead, use the oven and stove), except for melting butter.  My saucepans are too big, most of it would just coat the bottom of the pan, and I kept burning myself trying to melt it in a cup or bowl in the oven. This little gem has already been a lifesaver.

Warm weather is around the corner, Summer Shandy has officially hit the shelves.  Saturday evening movie night, junk food, and Summer Shandy with friends!

Planning my spring garden and trying to figure out what to do with my little slice of outdoor space. What do you think of the stone border so far? Trying to figure out a way to do borders on the cheap or free, but that also look nice. Pinterest has failed so far. I found those rocks in the yard, and there are many more, it’s New England…

Have a good week.


First Ride of the Season

The bike trail has OFFICIALLY thawed for the year 🙂  Thank goodness, was beginning to go stir crazy.  While this winter has been great for skiing, snowshoeing, etc., it is starting to drag on a bit.

Took Friday off so I could have a 3 day weekend for my Birthday and decided to ride out to Collinsville for breakfast (approx. 12 miles round trip).




There is a very nice market in the center of Collinsville called LaSalle Market & Deli.  It reminds me of a Vermont coffee shop, they carry my favorite coffee, corned beef hash is on the breakfast menu, and its right off of the bike trail…what more could you ask for?!?!




Also looking forward to checking out these two places this summer too, both are also just off the bike trail in Collinsville:

Crown & Hammer Pub

Francesca’s Wine Bar & Bistro

Hope you are enjoying your weekend!



Skiing at Stratton

Just spent another great weekend up at Stratton last weekend.  It was a little on the chilly side, but great skiing for late March. Had a bit of snow on Saturday, followed by sunny skies on Sunday.


20140323-222610.jpgStayed at a new place this trip. I had been staying at The Equinox the past few trips, which I highly recommend. It’s a very well kept historic New England hotel with all the amenities of a luxury resort. The covered outdoor hot tub and fireside bar are also fun on winter evenings. However, it’s doesn’t exactly fit my budget without groupon and living social discounts and I’ve officially exhausted all of those options for the season. So I tried the Bromley View Inn this time. It was the right price, nice atmosphere, and includes an awesome homemade breakfast in their dining room overlooking Bromley. It’s only a few minutes up Route 30 from Stratton and it’s on the way to Manchester, which has nice outlets and restaurants. An added bonus…I could see Bromley from the room 🙂


Will be passing on skiing this weekend…looks like we’re in for a soggy weekend, perfect for getting a few projects done at home.  Hoping for better weather next weekend.


Natchez Day 2

Toured four more houses on day 2. The houses that look smaller, and perhaps not as impressive from the outside, in the tour guide book actually turned out to be the most impressive on the inside. Since photos weren’t allowed inside, you’ll just have to take my word for it.

20140323-220903.jpgHawthorne (1814).  Tour guides were definitely having the most fun at this house.  I’d say it was also the most “livable” of all that we toured.

20140323-220932.jpgElms Court (1837).  I wasn’t a huge fan of the interior, but the exterior is quite impressive.  Also had very nice gardens.  The next few pictures show the grounds.






20140323-221209.jpgStanton Hall (circa 1858).  Currently owned and fully restored by the Pilgrimage Garden Club.  Reminded me of a Newport, RI Party Mansion.


In my opinion, The Burn (1832) was the nicest house of all of those that we toured.  The home is actually much larger than it appears here, but my phone died before I could get more pictures from the back. It was nice to see the owners giving the tour here, seemed to know their history quite well! This house is also a B&B and looked quite nice.


Then after driving around for 30 minutes trying to find a place to eat that was open on a Sunday, we found this nifty little pub called King’s Tavern and spent the rest of the afternoon sipping craft beers and cocktails. It is actually located in the basement of the oldest building in Natchez (1769) and carries a lot of history…ghost stories and all.

20140323-222059.jpgNeat bar, made out of recycled barrels.

20140323-222110.jpgLoved the atmosphere, very laid back…

20140323-222118.jpgMy family 🙂

Full menu of classic cocktails…mint julep.

And last but NEVER least…shrimp and grits!  No trip to the south is complete without it 🙂

Hope you’ve enjoyed the photo tour.



Natchez Day 1


Thankful to have had the chance to escape this long winter to spend a few days thawing out with my parents and brother down in Natchez, MS last weekend. Spent 2 days touring antebellum homes during Spring Pilgrimage and eating southern cuisine! Here are photos from the first day.

Flew into Memphis and started things off right with BBQ pulled pork before heading south.

Had dinner in Natchez at Pearl Street Pasta, definitely the best meal of the trip. Excellent red fish!

We toured 4 houses each day. Linden (circa 1790) was the first house we toured.

Longwood (1861) is a home that was never finished. While the outside was complete, work on the inside was put on hold when the civil war began and was never finished as the owner passed away 3 years later. While I am sure it would have been amazing to see finished, it was neat to see and take pictures of the raw structure. The grounds around the house were also nice to walk, very serene.











Then we had lunch at Mammy’s Cupboard, and yes, you can sit and eat in her dress :-). Loved the turkey sandwich with blueberry chutney. Will have to learn how to make this once summer rolls around. The pie was also very good, and they’ve got quite the list!


Next up was Richmond (1784), which looks like a Greek Revival from the front.


But if you look from the side, you can see where there have been two additions in different styles of architecture.  The middle of the house was the original in French Plantation (1784), then the Greek Revival front was added (1832), followed by the Colonial addition on the back (1860).


Last was The Elms, which is now a B&B.  House was okay, loved the huge front porch and the front yard.



Inside of St. Mary Basilica.


Random photo that turned out to look like a Beatles tribute.  Can you name the album?


Had dinner at Magnolia Grill.  The river view was nice, the food was average and a bit pricey.


Overcast evening on the Mississippi.

Stay tuned for Day 2 photos…