Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Savannah Summer Adventures 2017

June kicked my ass, and there's no other excuse for why it took me A FULL MONTH to share a peep at the fun we had in Savannah. But, since this bloggy blog is primarily just a record for myself of where I liked to eat and what was good, it's never too late. So....fire up the time machine and travel back with me to a month ago, when we were enjoying a few days in the sweet South.

My dear friend Bret's family is sweet enough to let us join in on their summer beach rental, and this year we were basically staying in a house worthy of a Nancy Meyers movie on Tybee Island. I couldn't resist snapping pics of the gorgeous living room, wishing I'd packed my best Diane Keaton white turtleneck to match.

We started our first night at the beach at our favorite Tybee watering hole, the Tybee Island Social Club. Our all-time favorite cocktails: The Scientist and The Socialite. 

The next morning the whole fam packed off to Coco's for fresh seafood.

I fully endorse their shrimp cakes, so much so that I ate half of one before I remembered to document. Ashleigh got their beautiful jerk salmon salad with pineapple. After lunch, we hit the beach and did important things, like make our own Spice Girls videos.

That night, we trekked to Savannah to reunite with our high school buddy Justin and take the town! 

First stop: shrimp and grits tacos and delicious cocktails at Treylor Park Hitch. Try the Baby Doll: vodka, watermelon juice, lemon and simple syrup.

Next up, a round of The Vespers cocktails to go from The Public, then a stop at Collins Quarter, where Ashleigh sweet-talked the bartender to give me this beautiful peony. The night wouldn't be complete without frose for everyone at Sorry Charlie's.

The Collins Quarter folks convinced us to make a return trip on Monday morning because, Y'ALL, they do brunch on Mondays. MONDAYS. Savannah is wild.

Every corner of the interior was gorgeous. I couldn't stop marveling over the perfect decor.

The dishes were equally beautiful, including Bret's Swine Time Beni with pulled pork...

And my pulled pork sandwich with apple slices.

They have an excellent coffee bar and I've been craving their Vietnamese coffee and Iced Lavender Mochas ever since.

If you want to see truly inspiring visual merchandising, you have to make a stop into Shop SCAD, a store carrying the incredible creations of students and alumni of the Savannah College of Art and Design. The vignettes are worth the trip alone.

I mean, how great is this? From there, we stopped into Red Clover, a cute and very affordable boutique where we picked up lots of trendy jewelry for a song.

 No trip is complete without a stop to what might be my favorite store on the planet, Paris Market & Brocante.

Swoooooooooon. I picked up a galvanized planter I'm hoping to use for a pretty fern or ivy, and a vintage Spode blue and white plate.

Only at Vinnie Van Go-Go's can you experience the true joy of a Spodee Odee — red wine with Sunkist (it's shockingly delicious). Fair warning: it's cash-only.

The slices are bigger than your head and incredibly delicious.

On our last day, we walked past some of the prettiest houses in town to eat our traditional farewell brunch at Mrs. Wilkes, a family-style comfort food destination spot that has the best damned fried chicken I've ever had.

A peek at a backyard garden through the gate...so gorgeous.

And last, but very much not least, we made a stop at another favorite boutique: One Fish Two Fish.

That leather chandelier has me feeling some kind of way. 

It was another beautiful trip with my bestest boos and I can't wait for our next adventure!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Wine Club Throws a Puppy Shower!

My friend Ashleigh's had a lot of great ideas, but I think multiple lightbulbs went off above her head when she suggested we throw our friend Stacie a Puppy Shower. It's such a great concept, I assume it will sweep the nation.

Our friend Stacie let us know she was getting a chocolate lab puppy a few weeks ago and Ashleigh — perhaps inspired by the Sex and the City episode about why showers are reserved just for weddings and babies — said we should surprise her with a puppy shower. Brilliant!

Ashleigh invited Stacie's sister and sister-in-law and we all met for dinner at Leone's, a fancy new Italian place. Somehow none of that seemed out of the ordinary to Stacie, and she didn't even notice each of us carried a gift bag in when we entered the room. We had a magical moment where we all put them on the table at the same time and she was totally shocked!

Puppy George got all the necessities: chew toys, pool toys, poop bags, treats, grooming supplies and beyond. When I mentioned in passing that I was buying these items for a Puppy Shower, the Petsmart employee squealed and said, "OMG that's amazing." Our waiter said he needed to get better friends. What can we say? We love a good theme party.

I'd be remiss if I didn't also shout out the tremendous beef tortellini I had with sun-dried tomatoes and shallots, followed by profiteroles. Mmmmmm good.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Front Door Makeover: I'm a Robin's Egg Blue Addict

My name is Amber and I am a Robin's Egg Blue addict. It was one of my wedding colors. It's also the color of my bedroom, my living room lamps, most of my pottery, my recipe box, my patio chairs, my future kitchen tile...you get the picture. I knew I wanted to paint the front door but I didn't want to fall into my same old pattern, and yet, here we are: my door is the Pinterest equivalent of a basic bitch: Benjamin Moore Wythe Blue and unabashedly pretty. I can't quit you, robin's egg.

From our first visit to the house, I was not feeling the red shutters or the red-toned faux wood fiberglass front door. It felt old-fashioned to me, and I'd been fantasizing about a bright front door like those I saw all over Dublin. I thought that meant I'd have to get a new front door someday that was more my style, but after seeing a friend paint his door that was nearly identical to ours, I felt emboldened. Once we decided to paint the shutters, I knew the house needed a bright touch to balance out its new dark look and became obsessed with virtually painting the door online.

My first thought was Wythe Blue, but it's a little played out in the blogosphere. Seriously, do a search for it on Pinterest or Instagram and you'll see many, many Wythe Blue doors. It's classic for a reason, but I didn't want to be a cliche! So, I got samples of three Sherwin Williams colors (Peppery, Silvermist and Patina Green) from Lowe's and painted these Spot On nifty wall vinyls they sell in the paint section in a three-pack. These are awesome because you can hang them up, move them around and get a good idea of what your future color could look like.

Sean, Katie and I squinted, shaded our eyes, took pictures, looked up close, looked from far away and decided the Patina Green was the best, but still not quite right. Not quite as good as say...Wythe Blue. So I accepted my fate, and packed Sean off to our local BM dealer. 

 I got very, very lucky on the prep side. Our fiberglass door had never been painted and is protected by a storm door, so it truly only needed to be wiped down with a damp rag. Primer was built into the paint, so all I needed to do was tape the window and hinges, put down a drop cloth and work up the courage for the first stroke! We tried to remove all the hardware but ultimately got intimidated trying to undo the Baldwin lock on the backside of the handle, so I taped and hoped for the best.

I read several good online tutorials that recommended handpainting the insets and tricky corners first before using a smaller roller for the flat panels. I took long breaks between coats to watch 13 Reasons Why and make sure I didn't rush the job. All told, I ended up doing three coats on each side and it didn't take long when you consider I watched so many episodes of the show. It took most of my Saturday, but was 90% done by 6 p.m.

After two coats! I can't say for sure if it would have gone faster if I'd primed first...the paint adhered pretty well, but I'm just a little obsessive and almost always do 2-3 coats on any paint job.

I could not WAIT to pop out and see the door in all its glory and I'm so happy with it. Sean, who indulges all my crazy whims but usually isn't very effusive, was truly impressed. It definitely pops and we don't have any other houses on the block with this color (thank goodness!).

And of course, it's a beautiful complement to a planter of succulents I just put on the porch. By the end of this week, we'll have a new fence in the front, so our curb appeal is definitely getting much, much better! To-do list now includes: cleaning up our mailbox area, mulching the front beds, removing moss growing all over the place, and pressure washing.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Finally! A Backyard BBQ

After several failed attempts, we have finally crossed "have a backyard BBQ" off our to-do list! In the 2.5 years we've lived in our house, it has rained out approximately three attempts at a backyard party, to the point where I almost forgot how BBQs even work. 

But maybe because Mother Nature knew my mom was coming to visit or that it was Sean's birthday,  we got a perfect brisk, early spring night in the high 60s. Here's a peek at spring around our house:

I set up my spring mantel, complete with my Mermaid Factory mermaid.

I also had the joy of seeing my ranunculus bulbs bloom! I was concerned when they sprouted within a week of being planted and then our yo-yo winter weather, but they're yielding and they're beautiful!

My first harvest! Totally worth every penny and every minute of effort.

My mom was in town and it coincided with Sean's birthday, so we used it as an opportunity to attempt another BBQ and, as I said, we were finally successful!

We even got a new patio umbrella to replace the one wrecked in the hurricane...story of my life.

 Us and our beautiful littlest gal pals!

Happy Birthday to Sean! We dined on hamburgers, hot dogs, carrot cake, corn salsa and this lemon balsamic bowtie pasta salad. And now we have beaucoup leftover beer for the next 2-3 barbecues!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Bye Bye, Red Shutters

Our house exterior recently had a big makeover, and like putting mascara on, it really completes the look! From the day we pulled up to the open house, I said, "I would have to get rid of those red shutters." Call me boring, but I like a fun-colored door more than bright shutters, and I have particularly always disliked red shutters on brick houses (we all have our weird things, right?). 

Considering that was my first impression, it's pretty amazing I made it this long without actually whipping out a paintbrush, but as any homeowner can attest: there's always something else that needs fixin'. Around the fall, I got really itchy to tackle this project, but then the weather took a turn, we had a bonafide hurricane, and before I knew it, the moment had passed. 

Meanwhile, this was happening...

Peeling. Like a lot of peeling. White fiberglass shutters were to the previous owners what red shutters were to me, apparently, and their red paint job has been rapidly deteriorating over the past two years. Most people would never notice, but I couldn't pull in and out of the driveway without taking a mental inventory of the white spots peeking through on each shutter. The time had come!!

Because I'm a newbie at all this, I genuinely believed we had wood shutters until we pulled them off the house and realized we didn't have wood...and they didn't look like vinyl either. Mystery! We truly weren't sure what the right protocol is for painting chipped fiberglass shutters, but the folks at Home Depot nonchalantly shrugged, said "Sand it and then paint" and we decided it was time to just go for it.

We split the project over two weekends, which I can't recommend enough. If you, like us, are cursed with louvered shutters, you're going to need some time to really get intimate with the nooks and crannies.

On the first weekend, we hosed them off, wiped them down, cleaned them with TSP and wiped again with soapy water and then AGAIN with rags. After we felt sure we'd swept away every cobweb, we sanded them to remove the obvious peeling paint and set them aside for a week while I tried to settle on a swatch.

I had always known I wanted to do black shutters. That is, until I went to pick out black swatches and realized there are MANY shades of black. On a friend's recommendation, I scoped out the Sherwin Williams line at Lowe's, and on a whim, grabbed a swatch of Black Fox. Black Fox is an almost bronze-charcoal-chocolate color that defies definition. It is not black — that's for sure — but as I held swatches against our brick, I realized it was a great complement to the dark bricks. And although I'm not in love with the shade of our brick, I realized everything will work out better if I play nice.

I chose the Sherwin Williams Weathershield paint with primer in semi-gloss and bought one gallon (we have quite a bit left over, but that's good for touch-ups). Because the pollen was heavy, we decided to do the whole project inside the garage. Using a trim roller for the fronts and sides and angled brushes for the louvers, we painted on Sunday and (sadly) even a little on Monday night for the amount of time it took to listen to the entire S-Town podcast. One coat was definitely not enough, but thankfully, a second coat seemed to do the trick!

We let the shutters cure for a few days and finally, Sean put them back on the house and I came home, looked up and went, "OMG!" At first, I thought...am I going to be OK with not having the black shutters I always pictured? I also felt more committed than ever to paint our front door a nice color for some contrast.

But after looking at a before and after, I can say for sure that the house is more ME and I think the color was a great fit for the brick. I was even inspired to plant dwarf boxwoods in my iron planters and now I'm using all the virtual painting apps to try to narrow in on a color. Any ideas?