Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Weekend

Happy Easter! We had a wonderful, fun-filled, hard-working Easter weekend. It was a perfect weekend with excellent weather and great company. As mentioned in my previous post, my parents and sister came to visit for the weekend and delivered the most beautiful Green Leaf Japanese Maple.

After the tree-planting adventure, we all met for lunch and then split up for the afternoon. Adam went to Mass at St. Josephs and my parents and I took my sister Pout for a little makeup consultation for her birthday. If you haven't been to Pout, I highly recommend it! It's a great little makeup boutique with some very talented makeup artists and estheticians. You'll love it! Afterwards, we went to the Good Friday service at Trenholm Road United Methodist Church.

The service was absolutely perfect. It was a great time to reflect, pray and listen to the beautiful chants sung by the choir. Following church, we went home and cooked an excellent Good Friday feast!

Cocktails, compliments of Chandler. 

Grilled hearts of romaine with Parmesan cheese.

Broiled asparagus.

Broiled salmon.

As I said, it was quite a feast, not pictured are the sauteed cajun shrimp and the kale fried rice. I think it's pretty apparent that I'm from a family of foodies...we love to cook and eat...and document our meals with photos!!

A little blurry, but this is the family sitting down to dinner in the newly re-decorated dining room!
Friday afternoon, once the tree was planted, we set out the plants we had already purchased to go in the bed with the tree...and it looked like there was hardly anything on Saturday morning...we had to regroup!

After visiting two nurseries, this is what we came home with...

Two more knock out roses (named White-Outs), two more Artemesia, three beautiful abelia (love their lime green foliage) and a gift from my parents, the stunning Japanese boxwood.


Starting to see a little progress...

Plants in the ground!

Finally, plants in the ground and a little pine straw to clean things up!
We have finally completed one tiny portion of our landscape plan. We are so proud to have actually put some plants in the ground, especially since we spend most of last summer taking them out!

View from the side. 
On Sunday morning, we popped up bright and early to go to church. The service was great! Beautiful music, an uplifting sermon, and lots of pretty, bright Easter clothes!

I hope your Easter weekend was as fabulous as mine!

Our Tree

Our new tree finally arrived! My parents came to visit this weekend and delivered our Green Leaf Japanese Maple. This is our first major plant that Adam and I have put in the ground. We were very excited to get that installed. Here are a few several pictures from the process of getting the tree from the grower, to Columbia, and into the ground...

In the photo above you see our tree freshly dug with the root ball wrapped in burlap with a metal cage to hold it all together. The trunk and branches were wrapped to protect them during loading, travel, and unloading. Here are a few pictures from the "tree farm".

The bobcat loading the tree onto the trailer.

My dad supervising.
Once the tree was loaded onto the trailer, my parents and sister drove to Columbia to make the delivery...and spend a very nice Easter weekend with us!

Digging the hole.
When I left for work on Friday morning, I was told that when I returned the hole would be ready for the tree and on Saturday we would gather (with several friends) to slowly move the 1,000-pound tree, into the hole.

More digging...My sister was obviously acting as the foreman on this job!
They mixed in some "homemade" leaf compost from my parents compost pile to give the tree an extra boost!

Mid-way through my morning at work, I received this picture...Yes, they (they being my father, husband, sister and mother, who was standing by taking pictures) got excited and decided to get that tree into the ground on Friday! They used Adam's truck to pull the tree off the trailer and guide it into the hole.

The tree is finally in the hole!
Now, I'm not sure how they managed it...four people with a 1,000-pound tree, but somehow, they got the tree off the trailer, into the hole, steadied, and planted all in a matter of just a few hours.

Pulling the burlap down around the root ball to prevent wicking.
And finally, our beautiful tree was settled into place. A few of the leaves at the top of the tree are starting to pop. We're hoping it will be full of beautiful bright green leaves in just a few weeks! The trunk has beautiful green bark and the branches are tipped with red. It's a perfect addition to our front yard.

We spent even more time in the front yard this weekend after planting the tree. Stay tuned for more...

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Restaurant Review: The Oak Table (Brunch)

Last Sunday, Adam and I slept in a little to try and make up for losing that hour. When we finally dragged ourselves out of bed, we went to Mass together and then decided to head downtown for brunch at The Oak Table. The Oak Table is one of the newest additions to the Main Street area and is a great place for cocktails and appetizers during Happy Hour. It is conveniently located right next to my office building...hence why I like it for happy hour!

That said, Adam and I had never been there for brunch, so we decided to give it a try. The atmosphere on Sunday morning was very relaxed and casual. It wasn't too crowded or loud, making it a perfect time to be there! I started with their signature Sunday Bloody Mary, garnished with a rosemary sprig, lemon, a pickled shrimp and a pickled green bean. The Bloody Mary was very good and tasted almost like it had a hint of Old Bay seasoning hidden in there somewhere!

Yummy Bloody Mary

Adam, who is not a fan of the Bloody Mary, just had water. The menu at Oak Table is pretty small and to be honest, their brunch menu leans a little more towards breakfast. We are both more "lunchy" people, but we were able to find some good options. Adam had the hamburger...sorry, I didn't snap a picture! The hamburger was very good and the perfect size for brunch. It wasn't huge, but it wasn't tiny and left Adam pleasantly full. The best part, it was served with their truffle frites. We LOVE truffles and we absolutely adore truffle frites. The Oak Table's truffle frites are shoestring fries with just a hint of truffle flavor and a little Parmesan cheese...they are SOOO good!

I had the Bahn Mi Tostada. It was very VERY good! Rather than being served on a soft, doughy roll, the typical preparation, this was served on a soft and slightly crisp tostada or tortilla. The flavors were perfect! The pork was great, the onions, cilantro, and siracha added great flavor and the napa cabbage was perfect. The Bahn Mi was topped with a fried egg, and this is the only part I could have done without. Otherwise, everything was great!

Bahn Mi Tostada
Overall, I'd give our experience a seven out of ten. I would definitely go back...but maybe for lunch next time! Where are you brunching this weekend?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Dining Room Decor

As yet another part of our big home improvement project, we have taken on the task of slowly redecorating our dining room. Let's be honest, it was never really "decorated" in the first place actually. So, we have been spending a little more time focusing on giving it a little face-lift. From the moment we knocked out those walls, I could see that we were going to have to make some changes in our kitchen and dining room.

Our kitchen had a kind of cluttered look that I had never noticed, and our dining room, just needed a little help. About  two months ago, we purchased a new chandelier. That really helped the lighting situation in our dining room and added a more "dressed up" feel to a kind of casual room. And a couple of weeks ago, when I was out of town, Adam painted the dining room "Aganthus Green" to match our kitchen and sun room. He also put up new blinds!

Prior to knocking out the walls in our kitchen, we moved our dining room rug into our sun room, simply to get it out of the way. Upon moving the rug, we discovered that it completed our sun room in a way that we did not expect, leaving us with no rug in the dining room!

I've been slowly putting a little money aside for projects and fun, but unnecessary, purchases. I've been eyeing a run at Pottery Barn for years (yes, years) and we finally decided to bite the bullet!

Our new rug arrived on Tuesday and tonight we unrolled it and put it in its new home, the dining room!

New rug before the furniture was put back into place.
Though our dining room is still not complete, I'm really thrilled with the way the rug pulls everything together.

A photo of our dining room, complete with new rug!
Still on the list of things to do in the dining room:
  • Revisit window treatments...we need a little help in that department, those curtains and that skimpy curtain rod are just not doing it for me!
  • New window trim, crown molding, and base boards.
  • Add a centerpiece for the dining room table when it's not in use.
  • Find some little decorative items or details to spice things up. 
We're excited to add one more piece to our puzzle!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Proud Big Sister

I am a very VERY proud big sister. My brilliant, beautiful, enthusiastic, fun-loving, dedicated sister has been accepted into a graduate program (...I'm going to brag since she won't...SEVERAL graduate programs) for Speech Pathology!

Chandler has been studying and taking tests, and working hard to get into graduate school, and it has paid off. Chan, I am so proud to call you my sister. You are going to ROCK it in graduate school. You continue to impress me and I can't wait to see where this next step takes you!


Sunday, March 10, 2013


I LOVE Spring. I look forward to it every year. We are slowly starting to see signs of spring around here. That lovely smell of blooming flowers (and pollen, though it really takes a toll on my allergies...I love that springy smell) has entered the air and I am dreaming of doing yard work.  Here are a few things I'm looking forward to this Spring:

Pictured above is a Green Leaf Japanese Maple...our Green Leaf Japanese Maple. This little guy (actually he's about 11 feet tall...not so little!) is going to be moving into our front yard in just a few weeks! Last year we saved up enough money to do the "hard scapes" in our landscape plan. A very dear family friend did a beautiful plan for our front yard and gave it to us as a wedding gift. Now, almost three years later...I think we're actually going to put some plants in the ground! We spent a lot of time in 2012 taking plants out, digging up our front yard (and our back yard), pouring concrete, having a fence built, and then dealing with all of the leftover dirt. I am determined to make 2013 the year of planting!

Though spring is not really tomato or pepper season, it is the season to get your plants in the ground! I am looking forward to planning, and then planting, our garden! We're going to add two raised beds this year (for a total of six) and so far we have tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, and jalapenos on our planting list. 

I'm ready for grilling season! Adam and I grill during the fall and winter, but standing outside in the cold just isn't quite as fun. I'm looking forward to evenings of relaxing in the backyard with a yummy spring cocktail while we grill. Grilling is such a fun and easy way to cook, not to mention healthy, that I'd like to try and grill more often this spring. We usually reserve grilling for weekends, but I think we need to aim for more week night grilling. We need to take advantage of this great weather before it gets too hot!

Wedding cake...I'm looking forward to celebrating our third (can you believe it!) wedding anniversary this Spring. Each year since we've been married, we've shared a piece of our wedding cake. It has become a pretty fun tradition...though I think we're going to need to start cutting smaller pieces!!!

I could keep on going with this list, but I think you get the idea! I am so excited that Spring seems to be creeping in! What are you looking forward to this season?

Entertaining: Easter Dinner

Each year, Adam and I spend Easter in Columbia. This is one of the only holidays where we choose not to travel. As I mentioned in an earlier post, Adam is Catholic and I am Methodist. That said, Easter weekend is a big church-going weekend for us. We typically go to at least one Good Friday service (sometimes two), and we always go to an Easter Mass and then a Methodist service on Sunday.

Adam and I love to entertain family and friends as often as we can, so each year, we host Adam's family for Easter dinner. I love it because this is the ONLY one of the only times, each year, we use our fine china (pictured below). There is nothing I love more than a big, fancy family dinner.

This year I am so excited that not only will we be hosting Adam's parents and grandmother, but we'll also be hosting my family! Those of you who have been in our home are probably wondering where we're going to put all of these people (there will be eight of us altogether). The answer to that question is that we have no idea!!! We're just thrilled to be able to have everyone together for such a special holiday.

So here is the next dilemma...what in the world are we going to cook?!?!?!?

What does your family do for Easter?

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Luckiest

I am, I am the luckiest. 

I am surrounded by people who laugh and love, who pick you up when you're down. People who want to see you and know you are well. People who only want you to be happy and who only want the best for you. People who work hard for you and make you want to work hard. I have a wonderful, loving and supportive family. I have fun, enthusiastic, caring, and genuine friends. And, to top it all off, I have an incredible, generous, and hilarious husband who spent the weekend painting our dining room and putting up new blinds while I was out of town visiting friends and family. How did I get to be so very blessed?

Ben Folds Five gets everything right in their song...

I don't get many things right the first time
In fact, I am told that a lot
Now I know all the wrong turns
The stumbles and falls brought me here

And where was I before the day
That I first saw your lovely face?
Now I see it everyday
And I know that I am
I am, I am the luckiest

What if I'd been born fifty years before you
In a house on the street where you live?
Maybe I'd be outside as you passed on your bike
Would I know?

And in a wide sea of eyes
I see one pair that I recognize
And I know that I am
I am, I am the luckiest

I love you more than I have
Ever found a way to say to you

Next door, there's an old man who lived to his 90's
And one day, passed away in his sleep
And his wife, she stayed for a couple of days
And passed away

I'm sorry, I know that's a strange way
To tell you that I know we belong
That I know that I am
I am, I am the luckiest

And I am counting my blessings...