Thursday, August 22, 2013

Lovin' the Lowcountry

Kendra and I went to Charleston, SC for our first anniversary trip. We ended up going there mostly based on the recommendations of others saying how great the culture, history, and food were, which is a winning combination for me. They were not wrong about any of those things, and as a lifelong New Englander I was very pleased with my first extended visit to the South.

The people were all super friendly (as advertised) and there are tons of really cool cultural and historical things to see and do there (which appeals to the history nerd in me) but this blog is more about the food than those other things and the way to my heart is directly through my stomach. Needless to say, I am in love with Southern cooking and was lucky to escape our vacation with pants that still fit.

Rainbow Row Houses
Charleston has SO. MANY. restaurants it was actually impossible to decide where to eat for most meals. We were staying in the downtown area, which has to have the most restaurants per block in America [unverified fact, but likely a reasonable assumption]. One would think that with all those restaurants competing for customers in such a small area that they might struggle but we didn't have a bad meal all week so I imagine that they all do pretty steady business all the time - it's hard to go wrong down there breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

I am not going to mention every place we went to, as there are far too many to go into specifics, but I do want to recommend that you have at least one dinner at Mercato on North Market Street. They have fantastic food (and provide a break from the delicious, yet unhealthy, deep-fried trend), live jazz every night and a really cool atmosphere. Make it a point to hit the bar either before or after your meal and get Zach to make you a cocktail and tell him I sent you; he makes great drinks, has a fantastic mustache, and happens to be a good friend of mine dating back to the elementary school days. You won't be disappointed.

The man, and the 'stache, behind the bar!
Where are the savings, you ask? Well, we were on vacation and splurging a bit for our anniversary, so we didn't exactly come armed with coupons and deals. We did however, take advantage when opportunities presented themselves. Free wing samples that come with a free desert or appetizer coupon? Don't mind if we do. Free BBQ, hot sauce, and salsa samples to my heart's content? Yes, please. Taffy and praline samples? Bring it on.

Keep your eyes open when vacationing for opportunities like these, and don't be afraid to ask for a freebie every now and again. Many places are happy to dole them out and the worst they can say is no. Make it a point to check with your hotel for guidebooks and info packets as well. While they can provide some guidance on how to experience some of the highlights of the area you are visiting, you can also score some solid coupons for local fare as well. Since we book a lot of our travel on for the discounts and extra credit card points, this trick earned us our first free night. Perhaps we'll save it for an adventure in Europe next year?

Monday, July 29, 2013

Bin For Your Buck

The other day I was Pincrastinating (procrastinating on Pinterest, can I trademark that?) and I found this pin from my friend Meghan. Now, I know that isn't food, but it's something for the home and we can't forget that's the whole inspiration for this blog in the first place!

I'd like to say that I'm just sitting around in the sun enjoying summer every day and have plenty of time for random projects, but that's not really the case. That being said, I obviously had to make this. And obviously I went to AC Moore the next day. If you know me, you know that once I want to do something, I do it. Like as soon as possible. And this time I dragged Nate along. As luck would have it (shocking, I know) my wood crate was on sale for $8 and I saved an extra 15% with my teacher discount. Score! Now our crate has handles, and if you actually click on the post, you'll see that theirs did too and they did so much work to cover it up. I don't know about you, but covering handles with wood just to add handles seems crazy pants to me. I made the executive decision to skip that step, unless we could find handles that covered up the holes.

So we popped over to Lowes to scope out the stains and handles. No handles big enough so we scratched that. We browsed all the stains and samples and decided on this one: Rust-Oleum Ultimate Wood Stain in dark walnut. We liked the color best, Rust-Oleum is a great brand, and really it was the cheapest at just $4.47. Score again. Then we grabbed a cheapo paintbrush for $1.12. We already had sandpaper, some plastic drop cloth, and polyurethane for another project, but honestly, because the crate was totally unstained I really didn't use it much, just to smooth any scratchy edges. And here's how it went down...

(It's important to remember that we have 2 kitten cats so you can remove the cat steps when you replicate this process if you don't)

1. Lay down plastic to protect area. Remove cats from rolling on plastic.
2. Sand the crate in any places that are rough or too smooth.
3. Find an old rag. An old white T-shirt with pit stains will do.
4. Open and stir the stain. Leftover paper wedding straws work great.
5. Chase down cat to get used, sticky straw back.Throw away straw.
6. Paint on the stain and apply it "liberally" as it says.
7. Give it a minute or two to soak in and then wipe down with shirt.
8. Repeat steps 6 and 7. It dries pretty quickly so I did the whole outside of the crate and left it for a couple hours and then did the whole inside.
9. Let dry over night so you can sleep and wash the stain off yourself.
10. Apply a coat of polyurethane and let dry.
11. Enjoy the glory and success of having completed a Pinterest project that looks good and didn't cause you to want to murder anyone. Ta da!

For about $13 we have a sweet new bin that looks old. Swoon. It's going to hold pillows and blankets in our new house and make Nate so glad he doesn't have to keep fluffing them on the couch. Victory for everyone! I just might need to give it a sibling.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Once Upon A Time...

Once upon a time there were two married bloggers who got very, very busy and turned into terrible, horrible, no good, very bad bloggers...

Clearly you've figured out that story is about us. We haven't forgotten about our blog at all, we just can't seem to find enough time to sit down and share our exciting news with you all (no, we are not pregnant, calm down). Between school ending, two vacations, multiple jobs and snuggly kitten cats, we don't even have five spare minutes (okay, fine, maybe we have five, but we need more)! But, we're back from the good ole southern lowcountry and pinky promise to update this week. Stay tuned.