Friday, January 18, 2013

Fishing Boat Curiosity - Phoebus, VA

Happy Friday peeps!

I'm trying not to be bitter about the fact that I didn't get to see the snow last night because I was at the beach for school . . . just being honest. Ok - now I'm over it. It's Friday! AND I have a three day weekend! And an awesome baby shower with some friends to attend (back in Richmond).

I'm taking my camera to the shower to grab some photos of friends, cakes, gifts, cute yittle baby girl clothes, and story books galore (more to come). My goal is to put together a little Shutterfly Photo Book of the shower for the soon-to-be-mama . . . a little keepsake of sorts.

Last night, I was messing around in Lightroom because I really want to process the baby shower photos to have a washed out effect - the look where everything is muted and soft and pastel-like. I rarely use filters, but I have to say - I kinda like them alot. In middle school, black and whites and sepia tones took over most of my point and shoot photos, but once I bought my DSLR I felt filters took away from my photos. I've decided to branch out a bit and play around with them. Here are a few pictures with the "Aged Photo" filter from Lightroom 3 - I tinkered with the exposure and brightness some because they were far too washed out for my taste.

More on the quaint, little town of Phoebus here. How did I discover this little town?

Everyday on my long exhausting drive to school, I have to pass through the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel - the one that is always backed up in the summer year round because people just can't seem to drive . . . like . . . normal. Once I reach the other side of the tunnel, I look to my right and see these huge red and white boats. For months I've been telling myself I would figure out how to get to those boats.

One Friday after class (in October - sorry I'm late), I decided to find those boats. I knew they had to be close if I could see them! I meandered through small, quiet side streets until I reached a small tiny bridge. There was water all around me at this point - I could almost sniff those boats out.

I drove just a little further until I found a small, gravel lot - site of Fort Monroe. I parked, got my camera, and began to walk. I stumbled upon the Wanchese Fish Company. My parents have bought fish in bulk from them for years (in Wanchese, NC). The quality of their fish is on point. See the red boats painted on the side of this building? I started putting two and two together that my red boats were indeed fishing boats.

Pelican headquarters. They're just waiting for the fishermen to unload so they can fly swarm in for anything they may drop.

My boats! I finally found my boats.

See those crazy pelicans? They were huge! My lens is a buzzkill, so it can't do their enormity justice.

I love that this boat is called The Good News II {kinda makes me wonder what happened to #1}.

Loving this filter! And this town! Super quiet and cute and small. I stood on the middle of the bridge and went back and forth from side to side snapping pictures, never once having to worry about cars. Love that!


Monday, January 14, 2013

Meatballs and Marinara Monday

The day after Christmas (read: the best shopping day of the year), my mom and I headed to Stony Point Fashion Park to burn a little Christmas moo-lah. It was raining pouring like you wouldn't believe. While I usually wouldn't be down with shopping at an outdoor mall in the rain, I was all about it this day. Why? A cold, dreary day with relentless downpours (while family are still in town) = hardly any people shopping.

We hit up Sur la Table where I got these baking dishes for a steal, as well as the cutest oven mitts (this one and this one). Then we headed to Anthropologie. I wanted all the house ware items which is to be expected. My mom got this presh cake/book stand, while I got these measuring spoons and Aida Mollencamp's book, Keys To The Kitchen (seriously discounted).

This cookbook is more than just a cookbook. It has everything you need to know about most foods! Like breaking down a chicken or appropriate internal temperatures of meat - the list goes on. It's basically a comprehensive book of food, so if you're new to cooking or a well-seasoned chef, it's the perfect book to have on hand! And the food photos are pretty delish. I should maybe stock up on a few and give them as housewarming gifts?!

Anyhoo - a couple Mondays ago, we had a dreary one. The kind that demands sweats and comfort food. What better food? Do I even need to ask? Meatballs and marinara! I followed Aida's recipe for meatballs and Jenna's recipe for the marinara (recipes below). Whether you're having a dreary Monday today or not, you should probably make this. You'll thank me.

Itai-Style Meatballs (from Aida Mollencamp)

What You'll Need

  • ½Red Onion, minced
  • ½ CGrated Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese
  • 3 tbsp.Toasted Pine Nuts
  • 3 tbsp. Sun-dried Tomatoes, minced
  • 1 tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
  • 2 ½ tsp. Kosher Salt
  • 1 ½ tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
  • 4 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 2 Eggs, beaten
  • 1 pound Ground Chuck Beef, chilled
  • 1 pound Ground Pork, chilled
  • 2/3 C Panko Bread Crumbs
  • ¼ C fresh Flat Leaf Parsley, minced
  • 2 tbsp. fresh Oregano, minced

How To Make Them

  • Heat the oven to 375 F and position a rack in the middle of the oven.
  • Add the onion, cheese, pine nuts, sun-dried tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, salt, red pepper flakes, garlic and eggs into a food processor and process until very smooth.
  • Transfer the mixture to a large bowl along with the beef, pork, breadcrumbs, parsley and oregano and gently mix together until everything is thoroughly combined.
  • Divide the meat into 12 equal parts (I got a few more than 12 and they were huge) and roll each between your palms until you have a ball. (Keep in mind these are huge meatballs, about the size of a baseball!) Put the meatballs on a rimmed baking sheet.
  • Bake until the meatballs are firm and just cooked through, 25-30 minutes. Eat alone or eat with tomato sauce or with spaghetti.

Meat Sauce (minus the meat)

  • Follow this recipe for the Meat Sauce, just leave out the meat. 
  • This sauce is the bomb dot com. 

Cook noodles of your choosing, place a couple meatballs on top, ladle sauce over, don't forget freshly grated cheese, and eat up!

If you're cooking for one, you could either halve both recipes or make what the recipe calls for and freeze what you're not going to eat (both would freeze beautifully).

Happy Monday (I haven't found anything happy about this one . . . yet). I know people usually follow the "Meatless Monday" route, but not this girl, not today.

- Sue

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Simple, Handwritten Notes

Hey there!

I kinda have a fun post to share today. I don't know how many of you follow Layla and Kevin over at The Lettered Cottage but I do. And I love them. They seem like such a down-to-earth and laid back couple - great parents in the making! Anyway - a couple days ago, Layla posted on gestures and their simplicity and importance in this post. A few days passed, and many people held her accountable, so she posted here about her little adventure here

Earlier this summer, I had a similar experience at a Chik-Fil-A drive-thru and posted about it here. After that event and reading Layla's adventure, I felt it was God's way of telling me - This is it. It's your turn. What could be more simple, fun, and encouraging than leaving a handwritten note for someone? Nothing I tell you! 

I really love paper goods, so this is very much up my alley. I've actually decided to do one a week in 2013, placing them at random and I'm pumped about it. Giddy-like-a-child! Since we're two weeks into January, I placed two today. This will be an ongoing project for me for a couple of reasons:

  • Writing out a quick note relieves stress (and pretty paper doesn't hurt either)
  • It's easy
  • It's fun
  • It will make someone else smile and maybe spur them do something similar

I used a gift card from Christmas and headed to Target yesterday after work. I scored an awesome set of blank note cards and envelopes (200 to be exact) for $13 and picked up a few pens for my wordage. Lastly, I headed to Michael's for some decorative paper to line my envelopes (I tried to keep my paper gender neutral, but some florals and butterflies snuck in there).

I decided on envelopes with cards rather than a sticky note because it worked better for me and the locations I had in mind. I also made liners for my envelopes. It's SO easy and makes them SO fun. Here's a how-to if you'd like to know more.

I don't particularly care for my handwriting, which kinda stinks when you set out to do a handwritten note project haha. My solution? I typed up a couple things using some of my favorite fonts, printed them out, and used a stylus to transfer the outline to my envelopes. Then I just used my black pens to fill them in.

I made an enticing message for the front of my cards and a sweet hello for the inside.

I decided to follow in Layla's footsteps and placed my first card at my local post office. My PO is like most post offices - sterile looking, not cute and quaint and Better Homes and Gardens-esque like Layla's haha. Mine is also apparently VERY busy, even on a Saturday at three in the afternoon! I pulled up to a drop box and a man pulled up right behind me!! Ahh! I couldn't let him see me! I pulled away, got my stuff together, and pulled back up. I frantically taped my card to the drop box, snapped a quick picture, and sped away as I saw another person driving up behind me. Whew!

Now for the second one. I went to Starbucks for an afternoon pick-me-up . . . and to drop off some smiles. I went to the bathroom while the barista made my coffee and quickly set up my second card. I snapped a picture, collected my coffee, and walked to my car with the biggest grin on my face. 

I will preface this just like Layla did by saying that this is not a "Look What I Did" post, rather a "Look What WE Can Do" post. Think if you were the one washing your hands at Starbucks after a long morning wrangling your kids and scurrying off to their school. You see a note luring you in. You open it and a stranger has just wished you a wonderful and happy day. I can't speak for others, but that would make me grin from ear to ear, just as it does when I think about someone reacting that way. You don't even have to use cards and envelopes, sticky-notes are perfect! Promise me this - try it? Just once. You'll be more upset that you didn't do it, than if you do. Rest assured. 

I don't know if I'll post about each one every week - I was considering adding a tab to my navigation bar and posting a pic from each one, that way people could check in at leisure if they wanted. 

Happy note writing friends!

- Suze

Friday, January 11, 2013

PHOnomenal Friday

Hey everyone! Hope you've had a great week this week! I'm heading to work for a half day and then celebrating my cousin's husband's 40th birthday tonight - should be a lot of fun, per the usual with that side of the fam :)

Let's talk Pho.
Sorry this isn't the best picture. It certainly doesn't do pho justice, but just trust me! I posted this on Instagram and Facebook and a lot of people gave me feedback, so I felt a last minute post was necessary.

Getting down to business. Ever had pho? Yes? Good. So glad you're on the pho bandwagon. No? C'monnnnn! Jump on that already will ya?!

What is it? The best way I can explain it is via a math equation: noodles + meat/no meat + broth + garnish(es) = Pho.

I have to say, the only place I've had it in the Richmond area is at Made In Asia (which is actually in Chesterfield if we're keeping things PC around here) so I don't have many tips to offer on how the pho is in this area. Made In Asia only serves their pho at lunch on Sundays, so definitely check with them before going in and expecting the deliciousness, as that may not still be the case. Either way, everything on their menu is to die for. Their sushi and crab rangoons are my go to, but their rice dishes and General Tso's are also out of this world. A girl that I work with actually recommends Pho Saigon (also in Chesterfield). The first time I ever had pho, it was from Pho 78 in Virginia Beach and it was delicious. Additionally, if you're in the Charlottesville area, Kath recommends Moto Pho Co. Having a bad experience could probably ruin it for you and we certainly don't want that.

Now that you know where to go, go get some! Orrrrr you could venture out and make a pot at home. I promise you wont regret it.

I like chicken versions the most, so that's what I went with. You could easily make this a beef version with beef broth and flank steak or shrimp, or use mushroom/veggie broth and tofu and make a vegetarian/vegan version of this. Since you're using rice noodles, that eliminates gluten, and depending on the broth you use (I prefer Pacific), you could make your Pho gluten free (all their broths are gluten free). This is a perfect dish for an intimate gathering of friends with various special diets. The possibilities are endless and it's basically tailored to your preferences if you make it at home.

PHOnomenal Pho

What You'll Need

  • Follow this list here, plus bean sprouts, cilantro, mint, lime wedges, and sriracha (all optional garnishes, but they totally make the dish). And baby bellas to add in with your bok choy.

How To Make It

  • Essentially, I followed this. What can I say? Jenna knows her stuff. Here are a few things I modified. I didn't use chicken breasts because they usually toughen/become dry when reheating multiple times. I was also facing a time crunch, so I picked up a rotisserie chicken from Ellwood's and just pulled it off the carcass and set aside. I also added baby bellas in with my bok choy. Lastly, I opted for Low Sodium Organic Pacific Chicken Broth, but still added the 1/4 tsp of salt. Other than that, I did things just like Jenna.

Putting It Together

  • Once you have everything made, add your noodles to your bowl, put some chicken on top of your noodles, ladle broth all over (however much you want), add bean sprouts, cilantro, mint, squeeze lime wedges over top, and drizzle sriracha all over. That's it! Try not to lick the bowl, but if you do - no judgment here!

Hope y'all have a PHOnomenal Friday!


Sunday, January 6, 2013

Embroidery Hoop Nursery Wall Art

First things first - Happy New Year! I hope y'all could enjoy time off with friends and family and ring in the New Year feeling blessed and refreshed.

A couple days before Christmas, I had an appointment with my hair stylist genie (because they grant all your wishes ya know) and was so excited to see her (not just for hair reasons). Jessica is expecting a little girl and a some handmade loving was needed (for my soul's sanity). I decided to put together some embroidery hoop wall art for little Miss Eleanor's nursery. I LOVE how they turned out. These are super easy to make and can be timeless depending on the fabric that you choose.

I wasn't entirely sure what colors Jess had in mind for Eleanor's nursery, so I walked into Joanne's a little nervous about what I would/wouldn't find. I was nervous until I stumbled upon the most beautiful selection of white fabrics - ever. I'm in love with them. All of them. I see curtains and table runners in my future - you name it and I want to make it out of these fabrics. It was also a win-win because I chose all white fabrics, meaning they would match just about whatever and could be used for years to come (if she wanted). Lucky for me, I purchased a 1/2 yard of each so I had enough to make two sets.

Enough already! Go make these (tutorial and fabrics used are down at the bottom)!

Embroidery Hoop Nursery Wall Art

What You'll Need

  • Embroidery Hoops (I used a 12 inch, 10 inch, and two 6 inch hoops)
  • Fabric (I used White Blossom Vine, White Lacey Pintuck, RB Sweet Rose Floral, and a thick Muslin for behind each - I wanted them to be a crisp white)
  • Hot Glue
  • Fabric Scissors
  • Iron

How To Make 'Em

  • I followed this tutorial minus the Tacky Glue - I used hot glue.
  • Be sure to iron these fabrics well (careful on the lace one) before placing them in your hoops so that you have a pristine and tight finish once in your hoop.

Eleanor will make her big debut soon and Jess has her nursery almost complete! Go check it out here.