Sunday, September 28, 2014

Sunday Best v.220

Adorable Cary Grant and the cutest little friend you ever did see.

It's officially fall! I've made stew, I've had pumpkin ale, I've painted my nails gray and I've worn a scarf. It's happening. Are you loving it? If you, like me, are a football widow, here's a list of links to keep you busy!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Back to Ocracoke

 Our first trip to Ocracoke last year was so magical that I pledged to visit every year for the rest of my life if I could. This past weekend, we made our first return, with our lovely friends Holly and Arthur in tow! We sold them an amazing vision in our pitch: riding bikes all over the island, hiking dunes, hitting the beach in the morning and sunset cruises in the evening.

And then we got to the island, and it rained for the entire first day. Oops.

 The good news is that a heavy downpour doesn't damper the island's spirit one bit. The first good thing was that our hotel suite was upgraded to a cottage rental at no additional cost. WIN!

Although we were super bummed to not be able to ride our bikes everywhere (we learned the hard way that riding without fenders makes your backside look like you've been mud wrestling), we had so much fun meeting the insanely friendly locals and fellow tourists.

On Friday, we rode our bikes in the rain, showered and went out to Zillie's Island Pantry, the ultimate wine/beer/gourmet goods store where everybody knows your name. You can purchase a glass of wine to sip while you shop, grab a beer on tap or even get a beer from the fridge and pop the cap. From there, the "small world" weekend began...the man who poured my wine lived in the same tiny community as me as a principal for my high school years!

 From Zillie's, we went to Ocracoke Pizza Co. to pick up a pepperoni pizza and go back home to settle in for a rainy, rainy night.

 Luckily, Sunday was gorgeous. We enjoyed coffee and tea in our sunroom, then ventured out for lunch and shopping (still sadly sans our bikes).

 We headed to The Flying Melon, where I couldn't help but get the same delicious honey lime chicken sandwich I had last year. Then Arthur, Holly and I browsed in some shops before heading back to Zillie's to do some day-drinking and visiting. It was the most FUN afternoon. By the time we left, we felt like we'd made new best friends...

 Like with this lady, who insisted Holly try on every hat for sale and gushed at how cute she looked. Adorable.

 Happy beer drinking crew!

 After Zillie's, we sloshed through our wet backyard to take at least a couple minutes to stand on our tiny strand of beach. How cute is our house?

 Everyone at Zillie's told us our next stop had to be happy hour at Smacnally's, where we could sip cocktails while watching the spectacular sunset. The boys enjoyed 2-Hearted beers and Holly and I enjoyed matching pineapple-peach mimosas.

 Everyone at Zillie's was right. That was a good plan.

 From Smacnally's we marched down the road to have dinner at Dajio, an incredibly inventive restaurant with an ever-changing seasonal menu. Holly and I both ordered the Lime Chile Pesto linguine with chicken and it was like a delicious fusion of Thai and Italian. So good.

Not Pictured: The hours we spent sitting on the upstairs balcony literally watching shooting stars. Before Sunday night, I had seen one in my life. I've now seen about eight! It was incredible to see the stars so clearly, listening to the ocean and just talking about life.

 Monday morning, it was back to reality. We had to return our bikes (riding through the still-flooded streets, unfortunately) and hit the road.

 But not without a detour to visit the Ocracoke Lighthouse (and its guard cat, obviously)...

 And definitely not without enjoying a delicious breakfast at Ocracoke Coffee. I thoroughly enjoyed my Asiago bagel with — wait for it — bacon, onion and jalapeno cream cheese. Oh man, I'll be dreaming about that for a long time.

 Please ignore my billowing T-shirt and just acknowledge the sad/joyful experience of taking a free ferry ride away from your amazing weekend escape. Bye bye magical island life; hello mainland drudgery!

The nicest thing about driving back from Ocracoke is that you're still in the Outer Banks for most of the trip, so it makes it a little easier to drag your vacation out. We had a delicious lunch at the Nags Head standby, Tortuga's Lie (that's a jerk chicken salad with pineapple wrap and "island fries").

And the final treat to help us rip off the Band Aid and return to real life: a half-dozen Duck Donuts, hot and fresh with delicious glaze. I have yet to have a donut with a better consistency, with a subtle crunch from the fried exterior giving way to soft, pillowy cake inside. Cue the angels singing.

We're already fantasizing about a longer trip in 2015, hopefully with better weather and smarter packing skills! (I seriously packed two white sweaters...for a rainy weekend.)

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sunday Best v.219

Geraniums by Henri Matisse

Y'all. Fall is coming fast and furious! I'm excited and yet still sort of sad, which is crazy considering fall is favorite season. I'm just not quite ready to give up sandals! But I can definitely get behind scarves.

Friday, September 19, 2014

House Hunting Update

We haven't found one.

Hahaha...pretty anticlimactic, right?

We've probably looked at about 12 houses and of course, peeked inside countless homes virtually on various MLS sites. Some have had great potential; once I looked past the hideous ancient cabinets and business office berber carpet, I could start to picture the kitchen of my (realistic) dreams or the perfect spot for a mini painting studio.

But there's always something, isn't there? The funky bump in the roofline that looks like it might require a roof replacement. The HVAC that looks older than me. The super scary flood plane map that shows the backyard might be at risk. There's been a LOT of sighing happening over here, folks.

I wish I could share pictures of some of the insane things we've seen, but I do want to respect the privacy of the homeowners. But just for giggles, here's some of the descriptions that have helped us remember which house is which:

  • The Navajo living room
  • The Packers/Detroit Red Wings/Cincinnati Reds/Dolphins fan house
  • The Septic Plug Yard
  • The Bear-Themed Bathroom
  • The Happy Hour "Gazebo"
  • The Business Park House

It's certainly an adventure! I think the hardest part is balancing the conflicting emotions of:

a) Wanting to find THE house and waiting to see if you get THE feeling in one of them...
b) Trying to remember location is the most important thing, even when every house in a good location is meh
c) Knowing it could very well take months but...
d) Also knowing there is no perfect house, and the housing supply isn't going to be unlimited.

How about you guys? Do you have any house-hunting horror stories? Tales of when you KNEW you'd found the one? I'd love to commiserate with you!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sunday Best v.218

Street art by Theresa Himmler

Well, whoops! I totally forgot to post this earlier today. I've spent almost every night this week cutting out pictures for collages (a work project), so I've been pretty unplugged. My hands are cramped from cutting! I'm anxious to get through this week to get to our trip to Ocracoke for the second year in a row. I'm so, so pumped. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Wine Club: East Coast vs. West Coast

Last week, the East Coast and West Coast threw down in a way they haven't since we lost Biggie and Tupac (RIP). We pitted varietals against each other in an epic showdown for Wine Club! I hosted and prepared an admittedly strange combination of foods that struck me as particularly West Coast or East Coast.

We agreed to pit cabernet sauvignons and rieslings, because they're basically two of the only varietals that would give each side of the country a fair shake. We had:
  • Souverain North Coast Cabernet Sauvignon: A smooth California cab sav with notes of vanilla and mocha, along with the fruity tones of blackberry and cherry. I really liked this one!
  • Biltmore Estate Cabernet Sauvignon: A slightly fruitier varietal...very good, but I personally felt the Souverain had more depth of flavor. The Biltmore has a very nice finish, however.
  • Millbrandt Vineyards Riesling: This Washington state wine has flavors of peach, apple and key lime with a "pronounced minerality," according to the makers. It was crisp and refreshing!
  • Rapidan River Dry Riesling: For those of you who don't love a super sweet Riesling, this Virginia wine is for you! Its sweetness is balanced by acidity, making it crisp but still super drinkable.
  • Oliver Strawberry Honey Wine: This one was a just-for-fun dessert wine Erica brought from Indiana. It's super sweet but super delicious. The website recommends mixing with ginger ale to make a spritzer for enjoying poolside...GREAT idea.
  • Gnarly Head Old Vine Zinfandel: This is a great Wine Club fall standard; it's fruity, spicy and oaky and perfect with spicy food!

To bring some West Coast flavor to our gathering, I made this delicious chicken avocado salad, which was delicious packed into some pitas. I have no idea how it would keep overnight, but when served fresh, it's super good!

I also staged a West Coast-East Coast cheddar throwdown, with Oregon's Tillamook smoked cheddar taking on Finger Lakes champagne cheddar. Both delicious, but super different flavors!

I couldn't resist buying a California roll at my local Fresh Market. It's in the name!

And for East Coast, I'm not sure why, but Italian food felt like the way to go. I made my baked gnocchi with sausage sauce and it was delicious! 

All in all, I think I would say the West Coast wines were slightly better, but the East Coast certainly held its own! Ashleigh had a funny story about shopping for her wine: her salesperson at Total Wine tried to talk her out of even trying to find an East Coast cabernet sauvignon. He said there is no competition! And there you have it. 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Sunday Best v. 217

You'll note half of my links are about Joan Rivers. I loved that brassy old broad so much, and if you haven't seen her documentary, queue it up! The world is a little wimpier today without her straight talk. 
  • What it was like to work with Joan Rivers.
  • An amazing profile of the comedienne.
  • Her 50 best jokes.
  • And the details of her pitch-perfect funeral. We should all be so lucky!
  • I've been so touched by the stories discovered around the world by Brandon of Humans of New York as he travels with UNICEF.
  • An absolutely gorgeous IKEA hack.
  • My main man Sam Smith delivers a gorgeous cover of "Fast Car".
  • How helicopter parents are ruining college kids. This is no joke!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

New Art in the House!

It's been a while since we hung up a new piece of art, but this week we were excited to hang a commissioned piece by Kelsey Witt, a local artist whose work is currently on exhibit at the Peninsula Fine Arts Center. I loved one of her bigger pieces and she offered to adapt it to a smaller size, which was great. It ended up in our bedroom because it's the most neutral room in our home.

But I'm secretly hoping that when we buy a house, I can work more of a color scheme around it! I think it would be perfect in a girly office or even a good pop in the foyer. Like, BAM, you're in MY house!