Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Full Day

A full day in Atlanta started off with none other than the infamous IKEA!!!!! It has been a whole year since I've been and it was a like a whole new experience (they have so many new products). If you haven't gone to IKEA, YOU MUST! It is one of my favorite shopping experiences. I think part of the fun is exploring somewhere we don't have at home and it's unlike any home store you will find. It can be overwhelming but the products are so unique and soooooo reasonably priced which can make you feel like you aren't spending much until you see your total at the cash registers. Oops! For those of you from western Kentucky, the two closest locations are Cincinnati or Atlanta.

After we spent three hours, yes in IKEA, we ventured on for something to eat. After all that shopping we worked up an appetite. We traveled just a few miles away to R. Thomas Deluxe Grill. Brandon's mom introduced us to R. Thomas the last time we visited. I'm not sure what makes this restaurant more unique the fact that you walk through the kitchen to get to the bathroom or that there are cages of tropical birds lining the entryway. Yes I said birds; parrots, toucans, canaries, etc. Whatever it may be the food is amazing! It's hard to believe it is known for being a healthy dining out option. We dined over mango salad and cajun saute under the glow of green, blue, and red light bulbs on the covered patio. However, I must warn you, if you are one to order the same thing from most menus (like chicken tenders) and not willing to try something new then this may not be the place for you. If you're ready to take a chance and try something new while having a eclectic dining experience R. Thomas is worth putting in your gps.

Brandon and the toucan were having a stare down. 

I was enjoying the cajun saute while Brandon was keeping it fresh with the mango salad.  You can tell from these pictures that the lights are anything but white, notice the green glow from the bulbs. 

The night was capped off with an absolute hilarious showing of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) performed at the Shakespeare Tavern. For us hilarious and Shakespeare didn't necessarily go in the same sentence. But after our visit to this dinner theatre our perspective changed. (Disclaimer: I can only speak for the particular show we saw). Nicholas Faircloth, Matt Felten, and Daniel Parvis performed a hilarious mash up all 39 works by William Shakespeare. Oh wait let me apologize hilarious does not even come close to describing the humor and wit these three actors poured into this show. Later as Brandon and I continued to quote our favorite parts to one another I mentioned that it intrigued my interest about Shakespeare's plays and made me want to learn more about them. Brandon said that he thought that was part of the purpose. It was a comical glance at his works in order to peak interest. It worked for us. I'm not saying I'm going to go buy the complete works of William Shakespeare but I may rent a modern version. For example, the 2001 movie, "O" or the 2000 adapation of Hamlet starring Ethan Hawke and Julia Stiles. So, if you are feeling adventurous and want a unique experience this is definitely a place you want to check out.

Tomorrow we are on the road again to Savannah!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Peach State

Well, our first official road trip has begun. First stop Carrollton, GA. Brandon's mom and step dad live in Carrollton so we are starting out our trip spending a few days with them. We started things off right by sleeping in. We'll not talk about how late that was. When we finally did get moving we explored the town square. What a quaint little area with locally owned shops and restaurants. We ate lunch at the Corner Cafe which makes it's own bagel chips and foccacia bread which are definitely worth mentioning. Since it was afternoon several of the shops were closed but we were able to stop in two book stores. One was a used book store, Underground Books. We don't have a used bookstore at home so I love to seize the opportunity to browse. The store was located in the basement of an old building hence the name Underground Books. Since we will be driving to Savannah on Monday we had been talking about the book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil which is based out of Savannah. There was a copy for $4 (can't beat that) so of course I snatched it up. While looking around I also found a copy of Battle of the Sexes. Yes, that's a game but there is also a book that is full of questions from the game. Perfect for a roadtrip and also only $4 so I purchased it too. The best part of my purchase is that I found old newspaper clippings from 1997 Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil movie reviews . It's so much more fun (and cheaper) to purchase a used book. You never know what treasures you might find inside.

(Proudly holding my purchases proudly at the entrance of Underground Books.  Brandon had to take this picture with his phone because I left my SD card in my computer.)

We then walked on to another bookstore on the square which boasts of being Georgia's oldest bookstore established in 1892, Horton's Books & Gifts. They have books, stationary, cards, coffee, and oddly enough three resident cats that are welcoming to anyone who passes through the doors. We spent the rest of the afternoon shopping and cherishing the time we had with family.

Next stop, Atlanta.


Saturday, June 25, 2011

It's not too late

One of my favorite things about summer is the fresh fruits and vegetables!  My Granddaddy Joe has always had a garden that we have been given privileges too.  This year since Brandon and I have our own home and a big yard we decided to plant our own garden.  Now let me clarify, it is no where close to the size or caliber of Gdaddy’s garden but it is a start.

I didn’t just want to throw some plants and seeds in the ground.  It was important to me that I learn about what I was doing.  So I made it my mission to read about different techniques, crop rotation, etc.  I made a trip (online) to Amazon books and three caught my attention. I never knew there was so much information to learn about when planting a garden.  How to prepare the soil, cool season crops, warm season crops, when to harvest, how to harvest, maturity dates, how to rotate, and on and on and on and on……..
So I read and read and read and discussed with Brandon until we came to some conclusions to get us started.
Step 1:  Pick the spot in the yard and mark the size.  We decided not too big because I didn’t want to get overwhelmed.
Step 2:  Till the ground (We used Gdaddy’s tractor to get started and then the tiller as needed.)
Step 3:  Rake the soil into raised beds.  This is a popular and supposedly successful technique in gardening so we decided to give it try.
Step 4:  Decide what to plant and when to plant it.  There are crops that need to be planted during the spring under cooler temperatures and crops that can stand and even like the hotter temps of June and July.
Step 5:  PLANT
Now, this may seem a little daunting to some of you.  Maybe you don’t want to jump in and have a big garden but you would like to have some fresh cherry tomatoes or peppers to add to your salad.
Well, I have an idea for you.
A very popular idea now is container gardening.  It is exactly as it sounds and super simple.  You simply choose a few vegetables that you would like to grow and plant them in containers.  Keep them on your back porch for easy watering and harvesting.  I chose rosemary, cherry tomatoes, and jalapenos.

Now, let me give you another tip.  When at Lowe’s I found one little sad jalapeno plant that didn’t look like he was going to make it.  So I asked the cashier if I could have it for free.  He smiled and said as long as I didn’t tell anybody (so please keep it between you and me).  I planted it as soon as I got home and watered it.  And believe it or not my free little jalapeno plant has survived and is growing very well. 

It’s not too late!  You can still plant some peppers, herbs, tomatoes, or whatever you can find at your local nursery.  I’m sure you have some old pots lying around and if not most of them cost less than $2.00.  This is also a great project to get kids involved. 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Not a bad way to top of sushi . . .

So if everyone else jumped off a bridge would you?  Well, no of course not but this isn't jumping off a bridge, this is just joining the blogger fads and welcoming a GUEST BLOGGER!!!!  Who you ask is the very first guest blogger of 8050 place?  Introducing, the one, the only Emily!  But seriously. . . today my good friend Emily is joining me.  She had a fun idea that I wanted her to share.  You have to try it.  And, as you will see, we've worked out all the kinks for you.  Also for a shameless plug, Emily and her husband have a blog you need to check out, The Entire Gospel.  So now without further ado . . .

What’s a girl to do with her super trendy waffle iron received at her wedding shower (one of four she received) and used only once the previous year? Make brownies of course.

In the name of convenience and cuteness, three friends and I set out to copy a sensational dessert we were sure would sweep toddler birthday parties and girls-only movie nights…brownie batter waffle sundaes. Who doesn’t have a dusty brownie mix in the pantry that could use a pick-me-up? Wendy and I (rather pleased with our secret dessert plans) dined at a local Asian bistro with two other friends and talked over spring rolls about how stunned they would be with our sweet ending (we have something of a reputation for making great desserts). Not to disappoint, the ingredients and iron were kept in a Whole Foods grocery bag until the unveiling after dinner at home. Needless to say, after pulling out the waffle maker and mix (complete with a ‘ta-dah!’), our friends were confused after such talk of raising the bar with our recipe but were quickly converted when we told them our plan.

With the quiet confidence of the Barefoot Contessa herself, we set out mixing the brownie batter according to package directions (maybe it was at this point someone should have asked if we had done this before or if we were following a recipe). The waffle irons were hot and liberally sprayed with Pam. Wendy delicately plated sensational toppings for our waffle sundaes: almonds, blueberries, sprinkles, colored sugars and syrups to name a few. Carefully, the batter was poured with a soft sizzle and spread evenly with a spatula. We only were left to wait for our creation to cook.

The smell of chocolate and char filled the kitchen; when we checked the waffles, they were still a rich brown color…no burning to speak of. Soft to the touch, we left them in the iron (probably eight minutes at this point). We tried to pull the first one and only fluffy brownie chunks came out. Since this was the deep, rounded waffle iron, we tried the batter in waffle iron #2 (small, square and cheap) in hopes of a quicker cooking time and better results. So we poured and we let it be. About 11 minutes later, with shouts of rejoicing, we extracted a full waffle! As the minutes ticked, we noticed it became harder and harder and inedible at best. A quick internet check revealed a few mistakes:

1.       Leave the water out of the recipe, even though the box calls for it.
2.       Cook short, cool long: turning the waffle iron off and letting it cool before removing it is key to a tasty (not rocky) waffle.

We had just enough batter to implement our new strategy (minus the water issue…too little too late). The winning batch cooked for about 4-6 minutes with a cooling and setting time almost the same. After pulling our successful brownie waffles, making them into sundaes was a reward worth the effort. With an evening of technique-refining behind us, we eagerly decorated and ate and made plans for an even better brownie waffle sundae event.

Figuring it out truly is half the fun. Anyone can buy a packaged cheesecake or settle for plain brownies. The innovative use of a somewhat neglected kitchen appliance gave us a night and dessert we will not soon forget…not a bad way to top off sushi!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Five Hundred Twenty Five Thousand Six Hundred Minutes

Why is it that a song writer can sum up my feelings so much better than myself and they don’t even know me?  So is the case even today.  As the song goes . . .

“Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?”

In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights,
In cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife.”

This marks the amount of time I have been married to Brandon Kyle Wilson, my husband of one year (Five Hundred Twenty Five Thousand Six Hundred Minutes as of today). 
If we truly were to measure in cups of coffee we would have had a good year because we drink coffee like it’s going out of style.  Or to measure in miles would take us off the charts because between the two of us we have logged a lot o’ miles.  However, like the song says . . .
“How about love? Measure in love . . .”
Now as cheesy as that might sound truly what better way is there to measure our marriage?  But I must clarify this love comes not from ourselves but from the covenant love of God.  God sent His son, Jesus, to die for me so that my sins may be forgiven.  There is no other love greater than this and it is because of this love I am able to love Brandon.  Loving Brandon apart from Christ would never be enough, never be satisfying, and would never provide fulfillment. 
However, we live in hope because we believe according to Ephesians 5:32 that our marriage is more than just about us and the roles we play as husband and wife are a picture of Christ and the church.  As John Piper says, “Marriage is meant by God to put that gospel reality on display in the world.  That is why we are married.”
The past year as Mrs. Brandon Wilson has been a blessing.  It is more than I deserve to have a husband that loves the Lord more than he loves me and challenges me to do the same. 
I love you Brandon! 

“It is not your love that sustains the marriage, but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love.” 
-Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Fried Green Tomatoes (not the movie)

While I like the movie Fried Green Tomatoes as much as the next girl this post is not about the movie.  It’s summer for goodness sakes, I’m talking about the real thing.

I hate to admit it but I don’t like tomatoes.  I like tomato juice, salsa, chili, spaghetti sauce, ketchup, and most everything else made of tomatoes but not plain, old, raw tomatoes.  However, I do really enjoy fried green tomatoes.  Go figure.
On my way home from the vet today I stopped at Bennett’s Market.  As I was perusing through the fresh vegetables the box of green tomatoes caught my attention.  I recalled tearing out a recipe from Southern Living (June issue) for fried green tomatoes.  I picked up three and planned to add them to supper.  Brandon has been away for work since Sunday so I wanted to have a home cooked meal ready for him.
When I arrived home, I started digging through my stack of “want to try” recipes and found the one.  I had all the ingredients.  Hooray!  It was super easy and they only take 4 minutes to cook.  I definitely think you should try it!
Ingredients: 1 egg, ½ cup buttermilk (I’ll tell you how to make it), ½ cup SR cornmeal, ½ tsp salt, ½ tsp pepper, ½ cup all purpose flour, 3 medium firm green tomatoes
Note:  If you don’t keep buttermilk (I don’t)here’s how to make it.  Pour 1 cup of milk and add 1 tbsp of vinegar then let it stand for 10 minutes.   Voila, buttermilk. (so for this recipe you need ½ cup of milk with ½ tbsp. of vinegar)
You need three bowls
1st bowl:  ¼ cup of all purpose flour
2nd bowl:  egg, slight beaten and buttermilk
3rd bowl:  cornmeal, salt, pepper, ¼ cup of all purpose flour
Slice your tomatoes about 1/3 inch thick.  Dip a slice in the 1st bowl (front and back), then the 2nd bowl (front and back), then the 3rd bowl (front and back).  Then drop in a cast iron skillet (really any skillet will do but you can’t beat cast iron) filled with ½ inch of oil.  I put my heat on medium.  Let the tomatoes cook about 2 minutes on each side.  Drain on paper towels. 
We enjoyed them so much we decided to share!


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

When you’ve got limes, make limeade

I LOVE LIMES!  The flavor, especially in the summer, is one I can’t get enough on.  There are so many uses you might not have even thought of.  We marinate chicken in lime juice, squeeze it over tortilla chips, or simply drop it in a glass of ice water.  My good friend Emily has introduced me to yet another use that I thought you might want to try as well. 
I keep limes in my kitchen almost all the time.  Today I noticed they were starting to turn brown and if I didn’t use them I was going to lose them (and I sure didn’t want to do that) so I made limeade. 

I have made fresh limeade before with limes, sugar, and water which is quicker and easier.  So, if you don't have time for this recipe you can make it that way.  However, it seemed there was something missing until I tried this recipe. 
Ingredients:  Limes, Sugar, Water, Club soda

Step 1:  Simply take your limes and squeeze them.  As you can see I used a simple, cheap juicer.  I don’t have anything electronic and fancy like you see on Barefoot Contessa.  (Although that would be a good gift idea.  Anyone?  Anyone?)  You need at least one cup of juice and then set it to the side.
Step 2:  On the stovetop over medium heat mix 2 cups of sugar and 1 cup of water.  Stir continuously until sugar is dissolved which will be about 5 minutes.  Drop in the limes or their peeling for added intensity. 
Step 3:  Immediately turn the heat up and bring to boil.  As soon as the mixture starts to boil turn down the heat to a simmer and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.  Then remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture slightly cool. 
Step 4:  After the mixture has cooled, add the lime juice.  Place in the refrigerator until completely cooled, approximately 3 hours. 
Step 5:  Take the mixture out of the refrigerator and mix with ½ liter of club soda.  Sip and enjoy!

Options:  You can substitute the limes/lime juice with lemon or even orange. 

Other options:  You can change the ratio to make a larger batch; 3 cups of sugar, 1 cup of water, 2 cups of juice, and 1 liter of club soda. 


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

For your listening pleasure

I have added a playlist to my blog that I plan to regularly modify for your listening pleasure.  If it doesn't automatically start playing scroll to the bottom and click play.  Enjoy!


Love List

$5 well spent....

Does it seem like the life expectancy of a float never exceeds one summer to anyone else but me?  If I had a quarter for every float we have bought for the pool since I was a child I would be rich!  Holes seal the fate of one after another to the trash can.  If my mom said don’t jump on the floats once she said it a million times but somehow they still didn’t survive.  There were a couple of summers that my mom was brave and invested in some of the foam floats that were supposed to last longer and were more expensive.  However, that money went down the drain because they still seemed to disappear before the next summer.  So I suppose we’ve just given up and are prepared to buy a whole new set of floats each year. 
Which brings me to the point of my rambling.  I am going to give the credit where it is due to my friend Angel, or it may have actually been her mom, anyway they have discovered the best float for Summer 2011.  It can be found at Wal-Mart and Kmart and only cost $5!!!!!  It is my favorite float ever!  Why you ask? 
  1. You are partially submerged in the water so you stay cool and refreshed.
  2. It is a seat so you can sit up and talk.
  3. It is a lounger so you can lean back and nap.
  4. It has cup holders! 
  5. And did I mention it’s only $5!!!!! 


Monday, June 13, 2011

So does this mean we’re rednecks?!

After almost a year of marriage we are enjoying the much needed slower pace of life for the summer. We have kicked it off right by spending lots of time outside. One of our favorite things about summer is that we have had more time to spend with our nephews Kase and Knox. Kase is three and he loves coming to our house. We think it’s because he loves us so much but Brooke (my sister) says it’s because we have a petting zoo. A few chickens, three cats, and a dog do not count as a petting zoo in my book but whatever. Anyway, the other day Kase spent the day with us. We had some things to do outside so we figured he could hang out and play in the yard with us. Not having kids of our own we didn’t realize that his attention span was pretty small so he got pretty bored with one thing after a little while. Brandon and I still had some things to do and I was running out of ideas to keep Kase busy. It was a hot day and so I had the idea to drag Brandon’s john boat to the back yard and fill it up with water. Brandon thought this was a ridiculous idea but being the stubborn person I am I did it anyway. Kase was having the time of his life splashing around in the boat when Brandon and I went to check on him. We quickly got into the spirit and dropped what we were doing to engage in a water fight. It may be a little redneck to use a john boat as a swimming pool but for the fun we had I’d gladly be called a redneck!

Brandon and I didn’t get everything done we needed to do but it was so worth it! To stop and not be in such a hurry with checking off a “to do” list and just enjoy the day with family is one of the top reasons I love summer! Please let this be a reminder to you. Take the time to drop what you’re doing and focus on the ones you love even if it is in a john boat.

(I have to add that later Brandon admitted it was a pretty good idea.)


Friday, June 10, 2011

Top O' the Morning

Ireland is a place I've always wanted to go and due to my wonderful husband, I recently was able to do just that.  Brandon helps to coordinate the Agriculture Study Abroad trip at Murray State.  This year was a trip to Ireland and I was able to tag along.  We were there for seven full days which to me was not quite enough.  The trip was booked through a great travel company, Discover Ireland.  At first I was a little leary of traveling with a guide but I would not do it any other way!  Our guide, Liam, was full of Irish history and charm.  Brandon and I discussed how much we would have missed out on had we not been with Liam.

Of course the trip was built around an agriculture emphasis which I thoroughly enjoyed.  I did grow up with an agriculture background.  However, I think anyone would enjoy the agriculture aspect of Ireland because so much of the country is rural and centered around agriculture.  The tour group did a great job of providing opportunities to see highlighted historical and tourist spots too. 

My top 5 favorite things about the trip

1.  Blarney Stone - If kissed you are to have the gift of speaking eloquence. 

2.  Muckross House - This property contains breathtaking view and historical love story.

3.  Springview House B & B - Mrs. Eileen was a precious Irish host!

4.  Random Castles/Ruins - You can be driving along a tiny country road off the beaten path and see the ruins of a castle.  Can you imagine?

5.  Irish villages - So many Irish villages that each have their own claim to fame along with a local butcher. 

I kept my notebook handy the entire time to take notes of what we did but also notes for a future trip (Hint Hint Brandon).  If you have the chance you definitely need to go.  And guess what, the flight is only 6 hours.  It takes that long to fly across the United States.