Sunday, June 30, 2013

Bringing home bar cart + life with dogs

Remember this $35 bar car from IKEA? I couldn't stop thinking about it after I saw it all set up in the Atlanta store, so I ordered it in early May. It came in pieces, as IKEA items tend to do, but Andrew put it together while I was studying for my final and we are quite pleased with it! The quality is good for a $35 bar cart, but the drawer sticks quite a bit. I didn't even know it had a drawer and we don't really use it, but it does have some issues there.

We ended up putting our cookbooks on the bottom shelf, because glassware and dog tails don't quite go together. It sits in the corner of our dining room area and may eventually become a coffee cart. We also recently scored a new living room rug at Tuesday Morning for $60—usually, we don't find such deals like this. Allow Sawyer to model the rug for you:

It's indoor/outdoor, which we hope will hold up with the dogs a bit better! If you have indoor pets, do you have any tricks to keeping your house looking nice (besides sweeping constantly)? I've learned that it is probably best to match your floors to your dogs—our dark wood shows every Sawyer and Ham hair!

(P.S. - Please ignore the two-toned outlet next to the cart ... we're working on switching all of those out!)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Leather Gift Guide: Three Year Anniversary

Almost three years ago (in August) Andrew and I tied the knot in a little outdoor ceremony in Oxford, Mississippi. The heat index was 114. I know it's not quite August yet, but the 90 degree heat has me thinking about our anniversary and, of course, anniversary gifts! I like to stick to the traditional wedding gift themes, although last year, while we were saving for our condo's down payment, we skipped cotton. Year three is leather, which is right down Andrew's alley, so I've put together a little gift guide of affordable-yet-thoughtful year three anniversary gifts.

For the thirsty man, I'm loving this leather wrapped cocktail shaker from Mark & Graham ($79) Add in your husband's libation of choice and some homemade blue cheese stuffed olives, and make a night of it.

For the future executive (or professor or writer extraordinaire or lawyer—whatever your husband should aspire to) this personalized MacBook air sleeve ($129) doubles as a padfolio, with plenty of pockets for business cards and pens. My husband would probably store his notepads in the pockets instead of his computer.

For the traveler, you can't go wrong with a toiletry bag (left - leather mini Dopp kit from Gent Supply Co. $80, right - small everyday leather travel pouch from Mark & Graham, $79) filled with your husband's favorite products (Anthony Logistics for Men shave cream for Andrew) and a subscription to Dollar Shave Club, the best subscription box ever.

I would have a hard time choosing between these gifts, had Andrew's toiletry bag not broken last month. With a trip or two in our near future, this is the obvious choice, though that padfolio may be making an appearance at his birthday in October. I'll just have to figure out what else to put in the bag, since he already has a Dollar Shave Club subscription!

Do you celebrate with traditional anniversary gifts? If so, what have you gifted?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Skinny Summer Salads

The official start of summer may be Friday, but it's in full swing down in Mississippi. We're having 90+ degree days and summer thunderstorms that are here one minute and gone the next. With the sudden rising temperatures, we've been craving cool, light lunches in the Abernathy household.

One of my favorite cooking substitutes is Greek yogurt, and adding it to classic creamy salads is an easy way to lighten them up without losing flavor. I make these chicken salad and broccoli salad recipes all the time for quick lunches, work potlucks and other events, and they disappear pretty quickly, so I think that's a good sign.  Andrew loves the chicken salad for weekday lunches as well. I'm not a great salad photographer, so please know that they are delicious even if they don't quite look it in the photos!

Skinny Chicken Salad
1 rotisserie chicken, skin removed, shredded (about 3 cups)
2 Tbsp. non-fat Greek yogurt (suggested: Fage)
2 Tbsp. light mayonnaise
1 1/2 cup sliced green grapes
½ cup shaved almonds
3/4 cup dried cranberries

1.) Combine shredded chicken, grapes, almonds and cranberries and mix well. 
2.) Toss chicken mixture with Greek yogurt and mayonnaise (enough to cover but not saturate.) 
3.) Refrigerate for at least an hour. (Best if refrigerated overnight.) Feel free to increase or decrease amount of grapes, almonds and cranberries depending on personal tastes. If it's a little dry, add more Greek yogurt or mayo. Serve over lettuce, on whole wheat crackers or as a chicken salad sandwich. Oh, and don't forget to use the leftover chicken bones to make a delicious stock!

Light(er) Broccoli Salad
2 heads of broccoli, florets pulled apart (about 3 cups)
3-4 green onions, chopped
1/4 c. slivered almonds or sunflower seeds
2 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/4 -  c. cheddar cheese
3/4 c. dried cranberries

For the dressing:
2/3 c. Greek yogurt
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper

1.) Combine broccoli, green onions, almonds, cheese and cranberries in a bowl.
2.) Mix dressing by whisking yogurt, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper in a bowl.
3.) Toss broccoli mixture with dressing.
4.) Crumble bacon on top and mix in.
5.) Refrigerate for at least an hour.

What are your summer favorites? Do make any adjustments to turn classic recipes into (almost) guilt free dishes?

Friday, June 7, 2013

Homemade Chicken Stock

Andrew and I are often surprised to find out how easy it is to make a homemade version of a product we're used to picking up in the store like enchilada sauce, salsa, etc. Some ... not so much. (Side note: Anyone got a good, easy homemade ice cream recipe?) But, many are so, so worth it in terms of deliciousness, ease and finances.

Homemade chicken stock is one of them. It's so easy to make, and as long as you've got a chicken carcass you can just use what you've got in the fridge. An added plus? Your house will smell wonderful while it cooks! (Disclaimer: Your dogs may whine and claw at the stove.)

There's lots of easy recipes out there like this one and this one. We like to customize ours to our tastes and end up kind of just throwing things into the pot. Here's how we do it:

You'll need:
Chicken bones with some meat still on them - (We use the carcasses we've got leftover from a Crockpot chicken or store-bought rotisserie chicken)
Onion (cut in half or chopped)
Carrots (handful)
Celery (if you've got it - we didn't have any this time)
Peeled garlic, smashed or minced (handful)
Peppercorns (palmful)
salt to taste (many recipes recommend to save the salting part until you're using the stock, so you can skip this if saving for later)


1.) Throw everything into a pot.

2.) Add water so that it just covers the carcass(es)

3.) Bring to boil on medium -high

4.) Simmer on medium-low for at least 2 hours - the longer the better

4.) Let cool - skim fat off if desired. (We didn't)

5.) Use immediately, refrigerate or freeze for later! (Or all three - we used two carcasses from a double batch of chicken salad I made last week for lunch and had plenty to use for dinner and to save for later!)

What's something you've found incredibly easy to make from scratch? Do you make chicken stock? And, again, who has an easy homemade ice cream recipe?

Monday, June 3, 2013

Goodbye May, Welcome Summer

I slacked on blogging in May, so here's a little recap of what we've been up to!

1.) Sawyer Sunshine turned three on May 4! He celebrated with a piece of dry toast, crusts cut off. (His favorite.)
2.) I took a selfie on my 26th birthday with the toilet in the background. It felt appropriate. Someone please teach me how to accessorize!
3.) Exam week consumed my life for a little while. Now I'm in my June session statistics class, which is also consuming my life!
4.) In lieu of a birthday cake, we had birthday oysters on May 9th and rang in 26 at our favorite restaurant.
5.) Graduation weekend is a perk of living in a college town. An exhausting weekend to work, but you can't help but feel the excitement. 
6.) On May 18 - 25, we spent a week at the beach with friends to kick off summer!
7.) Rainy days at the beach mean manicures, pedicures and outlet mall shopping.
8.) Awkward prom pose is a great way to hide the bulge after a week of eating, drinking and laying on the beach.
9.) Apparently, May was full of seafood. This steamed crab was delicious.
10.) This fried crab was really good too.
11.) We had a shrimp boil in our ocean-front condo the second night at the beach. Delicious.
12.) Sunset the last night at the beach. We got home Memorial Day weekend just in time to pick up the dogs from boarding. I spent the rest of the weekend studying for my summer session class while Andrew watched Army Wives. (Don't ask!) 

How was your May? Are you looking forward to summer? I cannot believe it's already June!