Pergola Pining

Since we moved into our house I have been DYING to create an awesome outdoor space to relax and enjoy. I think this is partially because of my parents “poolage” outdoor area with a kitchen and comfy furniture under an awning with fans. Ya know, the perfect place to relax and enjoy the outdoors. And I always loved sitting out on the porch at the lake or around a bon fire, so now that we actually have a space of our own to do all these things I’m dying to get my hands dirty to make it happen. David is on another plan that involves saving money and postponing projects which I find depressing so since I can’t see the project through to a reality JUST yet, I thought I would continue pining for my perfect pergola via pinterest and home decor magazines until one day I am allowed to put one on our back deck.

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I know this is a terrible picture, I can only justify by saying I did not take it, its from the listing information when be bought the house, and I cannot find the one I did take, but I wanted you to be able to see what we have to work with, which is a really awesome foundation for an EPIC outdoor entertaining space! So, right now its pretty empty. We have a rocking chair and a few planters in the corners and David’s grill inhabits a bit of the space but we dont have much going on to make it a practical entertaining space, but were working on it! We hope to eventually re-do the railing, its a little loose and wobbly in places and the only way to get into the yard is a small little opening to the right that comes out on the side of the house. NOT helpful. Our plan is to pick a new railing, maybe something a little more decorative and remove the two center sections to create a walk down into the yard, ya know with a few stairs and such. Then we want to add a pergola covering the portion to the left of the opening and put some seating and everything under neath there, I would love to have some fans so that its still comfortable in the summer. Then to the right of the opening we would have a table and chairs for outdoor dining, AND as I have mentioned several times we really want to replace the sliding glass door with a french door or feaux french doors or whatever, just not the sliding door! haha! Here is a TERRIBLE illustration of what we are looking to eventually accomplish back here.

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You can laugh, its fine. I know it looks ridiculous, but the real thing will be awesome, and everyone will be like “PORCH PARTIESSSS!” and that’s really the goal here! So now that you have a general idea of the direction were going, lets talk style and design… Starting with the pergola area! I’m more into the idea of a lounge type set up than I think David is, but I can just imagine hanging out and relaxing in a set up like this and with the railing it would be so easy to build bench seating around the perimeter without much effort!

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Im not necessarily a fan of the whole pallet idea, but I am sure I could get a few for free (wink wink, nudge nudge, hey Dad!!) and make an awesome set up if I had to haha! I think I would rather build something that was a little more sturdy, but I do love the whites and blues! But since sturdy and long lasting is the name of the game, I do love this next option!

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Although, I dont think its as practical. Sofas, and huge stuffed footstools/seating? probably not the best idea for outdoors, and David hate the idea of the curtains, but I am OBSESSED! even if we only had them up when company came over, I think they add such a cool element to the space, and they look awesome!

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Which brings me to this, I could get behing this set up. The wood would work (say that three times fast! YIKES!) But I might change it up on the cushions just because white gets so dirty and we do have some clay in our back yard so I don’t see that ending well if we end up getting a four-legged friend in the next few years. So, white might not be a good decor option!

c8ecd25f9cd20e24e40315b2b80ed879Then there is this, which I love, except it doesnt have a pergola, It looks just like what I was describing with the seating built into the railing and lots of space to relax, looks like the perfect space for a girls night, if you ask me!

If we move to the other side of the eventual walk down into the yard, I want to eventually do a table so we can actually enjoy dinner out on the deck, maybe a 6 top would be perfect. I really want wood but David is worried about wear and tear and the wood rotting so he is pushing for wrought iron, which I guess would work if I could paint it a funky color and get some fun cushions, and he’s right as far as something being long lasting and a good investment the wrought iron might be the way to go, but I would have to find just the right things to spice it up, like a cute little umbrella, and cushions and the perfect shade of spray paint to bring it from drab to fab!

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I love this set up with the dark wood table on the dark stained deck, I just think it looks really classy but I agree that it would take a much larger maintenance effort to make this table last as long as some other options, but you have to admit, this is fancy and FAB!

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I also really like the simplicity of this furniture, not really into the pillows on the benches and I think this would be relatively easy to make, so it is a good option, except David doesn’t really get into bench style seating, but I think for an outdoor space it works really well.

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I love everything about this table set from Target… except the price range, clearly I am attracted to the more natural look, which is where I get in trouble price wise, I think!

4226389lgI also found this more affordable option at Lowes. Its aluminum but has that wood look, so its more affordable, and potentially more durable, so it might be a good contender. Our goal here is to wait until things go on sale at the end of summer and see what we can put together for a steal of a deal! I will let you know how that goes, but I have my eye on the sales!!! Can’t wait to get to work on our little outdoor oasis. I will keep you all updated as the process unfolds, slowly but surely, sloooowly but surely.

Movement Mondays – The Power Couple

I luuuurved the opening number of SYTYCD this past week. In the truest sense of the term (except the part where you have to be dating) I think Sonya Tayeh and Christopher Scott are SYTYCDs power choreography couple. They both create such strong and powerful movement its almost unfair to the rest of us, but at least we get to enjoy it! I love the concept of this piece and any number that brings a larger than life prop on the stage for dancers to fling themselves off of is a win in my book. I have to say I have been somewhat underwhelmed with this season and it kind of depresses me, but at least I have my buddies Sonya and Christopher to keep me artfully entertained at least during a few numbers! Looking forward to what tomorrow night brings as the top 16 perform, but for now, you can just  enjoy this! And you will! Happy Movement Mondays my dance fiends!!!

 

Smoked Gouda Mac and Cheese

I found this recipe on Pinterst and have been dying to try it, especially since I have a weak spot for tasty cheeses, and Gouda definitely makes that list! This was relatively easy to make and considering its the first time I have made a real baked mac and cheese casserole, I was pretty happy to find out it wasn’t going to be as complicated as I had first feared. We used way too many noodles so we probably should have doubled the gravy sauce you are supposed to make but, you live and you learn, other than that it was a pretty rocking dish, and definitely a good change of pace from a more traditional mac and cheese dish. IMG_3900

 

Ingredients: 

  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • 4 garlic cloves,- minced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups fat-free milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 cup shredded smoked Gouda cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 4 cups hot cooked macaroni
  • 2 cups of shredded cheese ( your choice, we used mexican cheese mix, hahah, because we had it in the fridge, I think gouda would have been rather delicious, but we didn’t have enough!)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350°.

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and garlic; cook 1 minute. Add flour; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Gradually add milk, salt, and pepper, stirring constantly with a whisk until blended. Bring to a boil; cook until thick (about 2 minutes). Add cheeses; stir until melted.

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Add macaroni to cheese sauce, stirring until well blended. Spoon mixture into a 2-quart baking dish coated with cooking spary, to make a thin layer on the bottom then sprinkle with some of the shredded cheese, continue to layer until the dish is full.Then, sprinkle with breadcrumbs and top with a bit of cheese . Bake at 350° for 15 minutes or until bubbly.

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We obviously did NOT have a dish large enough to hold the massive amount of mac and cheese we made, so we ate the single servings for dinner, and then we had the larger casserole to pair with various meals throughout the week, which was awesome! It saved really well and was pretty tasty even as a left over, and was really easy to reheat and serve! Definitely a good dish to make a lot of!

Tied Tulle Wreath

A few weeks ago I missed my first friends baby shower due to some pre-wedding festivities and obligations, however I did not pass up the chance to make a fun gift to pass on to the mother-to-be! My college roommate and her husband Caleb are expecting their first child, a little girl sometime at the end of August/beginning of September. However, if she is anything like her mom and dad, I think she might make QUITE the grand entrance a little earlier than expected! I decided that any baby of Caleb and Lauren’s needed a stylish, fun, and funky way to announce her presence to the world, so, I put together this simple tied tulle wreath with her name on it!

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All you need to get this project done is a Styrofoam wreath form, 4 rolls of tulle (2 of each color if you plan to alternate), some ribbon for a bow, white floral wire, and whatever letters you will need. I was going to have it say “its a girl” but they didnt have all the letters I needed. Oh well, compromises, compromises. Once you have all your materials pulled together, start to cut your tulle. enough to double knot it and leave a little hanging off, mine was too long at first so I had to trim some of it down so it wouldn’t look as wild and wolly.

IMG_3932Once you have all your tulle cut, start tying it onto the wreath form. Make sure you bunch it relatively close together, just so that its not super transparent, but you also don’t want it so close together that you run out of tulle, I found that I had to make a lot of adjustments as I was working on it to get the spacing right, but you’ll be able to tell when you’ve got it looking right!

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Once  you get all the tulle tied on, you want to tie your bow and attach it using a floral wire. I also attached the eltters to floral wire and the tied the AND glued them onto the wreath form for extra security. Make sure to lay everything out before you start to attach it just to make sure you have the spacing right and like the way it looks, I had to play with mine a few times. Then once everything is attached, make another loop with floral wire, that you can attach to the form to hang the wreath from a door hanger! And there you have it! I was able to knock this project out in just a few hours and the Mommy-to-be says she will definitely be bringing it to the hospital so everyone will know where to find them, which makes me so excited!

You can really change this wreath design up for anything you need, use your team colors for football season some small pumpkins and gourds for fall, or a larger letter for you last name, or maybe your house numbers! Like I said, anything will work, so be creative!

Pulled Pork Tacos with Homemade Coleslaw

If you’re anything like us you just had a tasty tasty Fourth of July with lots of pork deliciousness… and you probably have some leftovers. Not that I don’t LOVE eating bar-b-que, but lets be honest, I can only eat so many BBQ sandwiches before I need to entertain my pallet with some other tasty treat, hence our pulled pork tacos. The perfect marriage of everything David loves… pulled pork and mexican food. We started pulling this meal together and just thought “Well, we can just throw the pork on the bottom, and then top it with regular taco toppings” But that quiuckly changed when we decided coleslaw would be better than lettuce, and BBQ side dishes would make better toppings, and we were right, the coleslaw was the perfect compliment. We made a more vinegar based coleslaw, because I wasn’t digging the super heavy mayonnaise based set up then we topped them with BBQ sauce my grandpa makes and it was quite the tasty treat! Here’s all you need to make the perfect coleslaw topping for your pulled pork tacos:

 

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Ingredients:

  • 1 large head of cabbage, finely shredded
  • 1 medium bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 medium sweet onions, finely chopped

Dressing

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 cup cider vinegar

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Instructions: 

1. Combine the chopped cabbage, onions, and bell peppers in a bowl, hand mix so that all ingredients are well distributed in the slaw.

2. In sauce pan mix the dressing ingredients together and bring to a boil until the sugar is dissolved and let cool

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3. Pour the dressing over the dry slaw and mix with tongs to completely dress the entire mixture. Cool in refrigerator and then serve as a side dish OR a great topping for your pulled pork tacos!

Movement Mondays: Bellhop Hip Hop

Favorite dance from last week on SYTYCD! It was so much fun to watch, not that I didn’t enjoy some of the more technical numbers but this one was so much fun annnnnd they did the Bernie! Lets be honest, NappyTabs is the beeeest, hence all their amazing routines. Love them. If its been as rainy everywhere else as it has been in Charlotte, maybe this will bring a little sunshine to your Monday!

Amy and Fik-Shun perform a NappyTabs routine- SYTYCD Season 10

One Month to Wedding Month!

This past weekend was my last bridal shower and my last weekend in Augusta until we go back for our wedding, I almost can’t even believe we’re almost there. I feel like we have been talking about it and planning it for ages and now its so close I can almost taste it. WOOT!

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My last shower was with all my dance girls from home, which was so great since they have been like my second family growing up and I feel like I spent so much of my life there! I even taught a dance class the morning before David and I got engaged, what I can say, ya can’t pull me away! The shower was great we played lots of games, which was fun since I haven’t done any at any of my other showers. We did some wedding mad libs which were HILARIOUS and we learned that we are NOT good at parts of speech, which was embarrassing, and we also played toilet paper bride, which I have never done before.

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There were some pretty intense dresses, which I guess is what happens when you get together a bunch of dancers who hae been doing costuming since they could breath. I didnt get to make my own dress, although, I did get to be the model, and my BFF dressed me in my toilet paper wedding day best, haha shes such a gem. Here is a picture of my sister and I all decked out for the toilet paper dress fashion show… which was pretty ridic considering the dresses were so delicate we could barely walk in them!

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So fashionable, don’t you think 😉 Apart from the shower I tried to spend some time getting ready for the final push before the wedding, trying to figure out what I had left to-do and what things I didn’t need to worry about doing any more. I am proud to say that I am almost completely done with all my wedding projects, and I will get to cruise into wedding month with less stress than I had originally anticipated, which is greatly appreciated! All I have left to do is finish designing the programs and then put together the favors right before the wedding, so I think thats pretty awesome! Looking forward to sharing more wedding details with you guys as the big day approaches, mostly because I won’t be able to help myself!!!!!

Ho Hey- Lion King Style

Ok, I typically am not the biggest fan of cover songs, but I know sometimes you can find really cool diamonds in the rough, which is why I was pretty excited about the challenge of looking for cover songs for our wedding video (to avoid copyright issues) Well I found this little gem last night and it might be one of my favorite cover songs ever. Typically I like cover songs of traditionally more… hiphop-esque music set to acoustic guitar or piano because I find the juxtaposition of the original and the cover to be unbelievably awesome. And I think its interesting how the tune and tone can have a HUGE effect on the way the song comes across. But anywho, this version of this song is just top notch and it made me really happy so I wanted to share it with you, so you can share it with other people and brighten their day!

 

Movement Mondays- Can’t Help Falling in Love

AKA the Blindfold dance, and probably one of my favorite dance from SYTYCD… like ever! Talk about trust, and I love this song, and this particular version and have been half thinking I wanted to do some awesome piece to it for a while… and then there was this, so that takes care of that! I mean this dance just takes my breath away. I cant imagine having to do a dance without one of my most important senses. Talk about being totally spacially aware. I mean there are so many things that COULD have gone wrong, but they didn’t. Alan could have dropped her out of a lift, they could have ran into each other, fallen off the stage, etc etc, etc. SO AMAZING! Just watch and be in awe of all that is Travis Wall and his awesomeness!

Can’t Help Falling in Love- Choreography by Travis Wall – Performance by Jasmine and Alan (SYTYCD Season 10)

Brussels Sprouts Salad

Now that David and I have discovered that we LIKE brussels sprouts, we are now finding all these different ways to cook and serve them, like with anything we make. This one was good because it added some extra flavors in there, and it was a little more rustic than a traditional pan seared brussels sprout or even an oven roasted one, and it was pretty light for summer. Its a great and easy side dish for grilled dinners, and I also think a good starter for someone who might not be on team brussels sprouts yet! Definitely give this one a try, its quite tasty!

 

Ingredients: 

  • 1lb. brussels sprouts, halved
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cup of crasins
  • 3/4 up of feta (or as much as you want)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cups of cooked barley

Instructions: 

In a pot of boiling water, add two cups of cooked barley and prepare according to package instructions ( this usually takes about 30-45 minutes to cook, so about 15 minutes in you can start with the brussels sprout). To cook the sprouts, melt the butter in the pan and the sautee the brussels sprouts over medium high heat until they are tender. slowly add in the crasins as you cook them and mix well.

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Once they are tender, turn the heat down, while they are still hot drizzle the syrup and balsamic vinegar over them and fold in to coat all the brussels sprouts. Then let them cool.

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After they have cooled pout into a bowl, then add the barley, pecans, and feta cheese and mix well. We ate it the first time at room temperature, then tried it the next day cool, and then decided that warmer was better, so just a little tip, if it sits for a bit, maybe keep it on a warmer or in the microwave, but its definitely not as good straight out of the fridge. I felt like the flavors were not mixed together as well.

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Like I said, this dish is definitely a great spin on traditional brussels sprouts and a good way to get people to try them that might be a little apprehensive! Might be a fun and healthy side dish to try with all your tasty grilled treats for the fourth!