Friday, June 7, 2013

Annunciation!

Yesterday was our fourth Wedding Anniversary! And to celebrate we went to Annunciation, a restaurant I've been wanting to go to in the Warehouse District. Not surprisingly the restaurant is on Annunciation Street, awkwardly tucked behind the Shell Station that is at the uber confusing 5-way stop where Cochon is located.


The chef at Annunciation is Steve Manning, the long time chef at Clancy's, so several of the dishes served at Annunciation are akin to those at Clancy's like the Brie and Fried Oysters - that were the perfect combination of sweet, salty, cheesy and seafood. It also had a little mound of steamed spinach so you can pretend the dish is healthy. Nothing fancy but so good.


Our second Appetizer was on the very fancy side - the Sea Scallop topped with Foie Gras, served with a Balsamic Reduction and a Spicy pepper relish.  Another perfectly executed dish that had a good kick to it. The Foie Gras was also a great complement to the balsamic reduction.


For Dinner Zach had the Paneed Veal served with Sauteed Crawfish and Cornbread Dressing - the sauce was so good he used our whole dinner loaf of bread to soak up the yummy-ness! I'm not sure if it was intentional but the crawfish on top were room temperature and would have been much better steamy hot!


I wanted something a little "Lighter" without a whole lot of sauce and chose the Lobster and Mushroom Risotto that had a great smoky/nutty taste to it!


Zach as usual had a Liquid Bevy for dessert, while I tried their "Budino" Which was phenomenal. I've never had Budino before...nor had I ever heard of it...and I always feel a bit like a child asking What a dish on the menu even is, but I'm glad I did! Budino is a Italian Butterscotch pudding. The Butterscotch (not an overwhelming flavor) was topped with a thick layer of fantastic Caramel, like the best imaginable Caramel. There was a hefty swirl of whip cream on top that you really needed because of how rich the caramel was, and...the kicker...a generous sprinkle of coarse sea salt that MADE the dish! I licked the glass...and would do it again without even thinking about it.


We will definitely be returning to Annunciation. The food was great, it had a fun vibe (luckily not too crowded because I've seen reviews that it can be packed) and amazing service! Zach also liked that all the waitstaff were wearing bowties...he got several complements on his too!


For our Anniversary Zach gave me these Beautiful Flowers, and has conceded to me getting a monthly cleaning lady! I think its not as much about me but more that Zach doesnt want to help, so instead of listening to me complain he'll give me hired help instead of his....


All and all it was a pretty great Anniversary - I look forward to celebrating many more!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Yard Work Weekend...

We spent the better part of this weekend working in our Backyard to get it more..tamed?

Since we moved in I've hated these purple flowering plants that we've had in the flower bed in the backyard. When we first moved in they were HUGE. But a couple of weekends ago I took some clippers to them and cut them back considerably - enough to discover that under them were several really nice clumps of Aztec Grass. But even after cutting them back and trying to corral them with some twine they kept falling down into the pathway to the deck and just looked ratty.


This weekend I finally convinced Zach that they had to go...well actually I begged him to let me plant Hydrangeas in the Flower beds in front of the house (they are my FAVORITE flower AND happen to grow beautifully in our neighbors on both sides front yards...). Once Zach agreed to the Hydrangeas, I convinced him to let me transplant the flowers that were in the front to the back, and the only place to put them was to dig up those obnoxious purple things! (Which BTW had an incredible root system that took forever to dig up...I really hope they dont come back...)


I planted some little white inpatients and mulched and think the bed looks pretty good! Plus I hope that with some more room these yellow flowering guys will really start to look beautiful!

As you can see we also started installing some more of our reclaimed wood onto the fence and I think it looks great, especially since we have the windows and old shutters on the other side of the yard. this reclaimed wood wall will soon be the home for my hanging Herb Garden!


In addition to planting the front planters (pictures to come) and the back bed, we also finally planted a tree in the backyard! A small Tulip Poplar! We decided on the Tulip Poplar because A. It's the State Tree of Tennessee and we thought it would be cool to leave a piece of our heritage at this home forever! B. Tulip Poplars grow pretty fast and grow UP not out...we dont exactly have enough yard to accommodate a big fat tree...and C. because she was only $40 from Bantings Nursery! Digging a hole for the tree proved nearly impossible - our "Soil" is about 80% seashells. I have no Idea how they got there, but we have them and it makes digging very difficult. And because our soil was so crappy we had to dig an even bigger hole so that we could surround the tree with lots of good soil. While I was shopping for plants, I also redid the "window" boxes that I have with a new Coco Liner, transplanted Sweet Potato Vine and these beautiful white Angelonias.

I am really happy with the way the backyard is shaping up - Projects left to do include:
- Redoing the stepping stones, when we first moved in they were just lined up, I've switched them into a diamond pattern but am still not happy. Eventually I would like to have a Brick Path...Maybe I should start hoarding old brinks now...
- Getting a really nice plant growing on our fence. Right now we keep battling this "Cats Claw" vine that while pretty with a little yellow bloom and fast growing is apparently very invasive, so I've been regimented with pulling it up whenever I see a new tendril of it. A friend suggested Confederate Jasmine and I may look into that to get started!
- Killing all of our grass and reseeding. The "grass" we have is that crappy vine like weed stuff...
- Creating some sort of Arbor to provide shade out on the Patio for those scorching NOLA summer days - My Dad and Zach are going to conquer this sometime this fall once it cools down a bit!

Zach's Number 1 priority is a Outdoor Speaker System and Theatre, but I think that may have to wait until the Arbor happens! 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Crescent City Pie and Sausage Company

After Junior League last night I went to Dinner with some Girlfriends at the Crescent City Pie and Sausage Company. The place used to be a whole in the wall that has now developed into a legit restaurant and I for some reason have never been to even though it gets rave reviews all over the place...


We started out with the Meat Pies - One Duck Confit, the other Seafood! Both were served with this sweet salsa that was a great contrast!


For Dinner we had the Margarita Pizza and added Lamb Sausage. I usually don't like tomatoes but the ones on this pizza were to die for! Good and cheesy, light sauce with a crispy crust - just how I like it!


We had two rounds of dessert - the first round were the Dulce De Leche Fried Pies with Vanilla Ice Cream. They were out of this world with hot caramel gushing out of the pies and mixing with the ice cream - Yum.


Round Two of dessert was a Blackberry Cobbler situation with Ginger Ice Cream - very good if you like fruity desserts and the dry oats on top gave it a unique texture. - Was it the most amazing thing I've ever had? No. Would I order it again...possibly.

This was my first time at Crescent City Pie and Sausage, and definitely wont be my last. Next time I need to bring Zach along!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Junior League - Just what I need...

I've become the woman that my mom always feared I would be - I guess joining a sorority, getting married straight out of college, not going to graduate school, going to work for a Non-Profit, and my aspirations to someday be a full time volunteer/mom - weren't sign enough, I've now joined the Junior League. And last night was my first event.


Straight out of college I would have totally been in my element - a room full of over eager chipper ladies with enough Lilly and Tory Burch to sink a ship. Now...It definitely made me step out of my comfort zone, which is probably a good thing. I've become complacent with the end of Law School, and even more so since buying our house and with the move to my new job. I'm hoping Junior League is just what I need to kick me out of my - I guess no one will notice I haven't bathed today because I throw my hair in a power bun, no thanks I'd rather stay at home and hang pictures, cook? can we just order chinese takeout - rut that I've been existing in for the past couple of months. I need to regain my *Sparkle* and what better way to do that sending me back to my college Sorority days, forcing me to meet new people, and trying to dress to impress and inspiring me to be a positive contribution to the community and the perfect housewife!

I did meet a few candidates for Stepford Wife of the year, that made me secretly jealous hoping I could look as amazing as they do after three kids when the time comes for me. But for the most part the ladies I met seemed great and I am looking forward to getting to know many of them. I'm also excited about the Community Service Opportunities and Projects that many of the women talked about.  Seeing the positive impact Girl Scouting has on my volunteers daily (and still fuming that I cant actually volunteer for the organization I work for...don't get me started...) has me looking forward to having a similar outlet!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Junkyard Jewels!

It didn't take much urging to get me on board with the Shabby Chic design scheme. It seems like everything in New Orleans is reclaimed wood this or that. But my love of Junkyards predates my move to NOLA by nearly 10 years when I used to stalk around an old Junkyard in Atoka, TN taking pictures of everything the old owner had hoarded. A little bit of dust and dirt and rust never seemed to bother me so its no surprise that  I've incorporated many Junkyard Jewels into my homes design. In addition to my Door Table I've utilized old Windows and Reclaimed wood too!


Over our mantle (old picture from right after the move) we have a large window that we pulled out of a Dumpster on Pine Street a couple weeks before we moved. I'm going to switch up the wreaths hanging on it seasonally, but for most of the year it will have a moss covered "C" on it. I think it gives some verticality to the room and softens the fireplace without covering it up.


Our backyard is surrounded by a 6ft tall fence, which is nice...but I would much rather look at something other than a sea of wood. I bought a couple of old windows ($5 each...but as of June 1 they are going up to $8!) from the Green Project (Which has become one of my new favorite places) and had Zach mount them on the fence. I flanked each window with a pair of old Shutters ("reclaimed" from under the house at my Dad's family farm outside of Nashville, TN) and attached the window boxes that used to hang on the balcony of our Apartment (clearly need some TLC and a few new plants to really look good...). I'm really pleased with the way the vignette looks!


I've been tooling around with the idea of doing a Reclaimed Wood Wall somewhere in the house. I pondered the staircase (may still happen), our bedroom, down the main hall, but finally decided on our kitchen wall! I've been collecting the wood for about 2 months. Some I bought from the Green Project (20cents a foot) others I dumpster dove for or found on the side of the road (I'm THAT person that pulls off the side of the road to pick interesting stuff up). I'm a little picky about my wood. There needs to be a healthy amount of "Chip-age" and I only want wood in a "Sea Glass" color scheme. We started hanging our Reclaimed wood wall this weekend and I am SOOO happy with the way it is turning out. I'm also hanging my Fleur de lis collection on it that gives some extra interest!


To continue adding to my collection of Junk, I've started religiously stalking Craigslist - both the Free Stuff and the Materials Sections for any mention of old windows and wood.  Yesterday a "Free Reclaimed Wood" post came up and I went there immediately after work! An older gentleman had been "Collecting" - translation - hoarding, old building supplies in hopes of restoring an old house he had. Well it never happened and apparently the city cited him for his junkyard being an eyesore (? - they do that in NOLA?) so he has to get rid of his junk.


Lucky for Him I was glad to take some, and grabbed a couple pieces of wood (he did want to charge for most of the wood...) and 4 windows for Free! One window, with 9 square panels, I have a specific project in mind for, but everything else I'll just wait til my creativity moves me!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Slate Pen and Ink Miniatures!

For anyone who has ever done their own crafting or artwork you know how much more effort it takes to work on a small scale as opposed to a large scale. There is something so special about a tiny little painting.  I love miniatures, the precision and attention to detail on something that is only 3 inches large is amazing. 


I recently bought three miniature pin and ink sketches from Gordon's in Metairie one of Jackson Square, one of the Streetcar in front of Audubon Park and a third of Lafittes - one of our favorite bars. I framed them in over-sized reclaimed wood frames (also from Gordons) and hung them in our Living/Dining room area.


After looking at the trio for awhile I realized they couldn't really stand alone and that I wanted to add to them.  Cue the creative inspiration - I decided that I wanted to do something with this tissue paper I had saved from a present I received from Hazelnut - one of my favorite Magazine Street Interior Design/Home Decor stores. I have lusted for their New Orleans Toile print fabric for YEARS now, and finally decided this was the time to use it.


From one of my Dumpster Diving expeditions I rescued some old Slate that had been torn off of the roof of a house that was being renovated (I cant believe the amazing things people throw away!). Like so many things, I didnt know what I wanted to use it for, but hung onto it because I knew I would need it some day...someday was yesterday...


I decided to cut out the individual "scenes" from the New Orleans Toile Tissue Paper and decoupage it onto the slate to make my own miniatures!


After a good thick base of Modge Podge, I put down the tissue, then Modge Podged right over it and left it to dry for about an hour. Some of my slate had the original nail holes in it, others Zach had to drill a hole for me - which ended up being super easy to do with a simple Masonry bit.


Once the Modge Podge had dried it looked like someone had done pen and ink miniatures on the slate! I was pleasantly surprised at just how clear the images came out! They might have looked better decoupaged onto something with a lighter background but I love that I was able to reuse that old slate for something so wonderful!


You may not have access to gorgeous tissue paper like this, but you can actually print any image onto tissue paper by simply scotch taping tissue paper around regular computer paper and feeding it into a manual printer. I did this for the first time about a month ago for a Project (see large map in below picture) that I have yet to blog about and was really impressed with the results.


I am in love with my original pen and inks and my new Slate renditions - they are all hung together in the living/dining room and have become the start of a great collection of NOLA only art that I will be using to fill that wall! Cant wait to keep collecting!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Master Bath Before and After!

This weekend we were busy painting! Now that pretty much all of our moving and unpacking is out of the way, we can really focus on making the house more "ours" and adding a little color to the walls is exactly what the house needs to feel more like home!

Before

I wanted our bathroom to feel more spa-y, and go along with the neutrals and teals that I have in the bedroom (post to come). And to be honest it needed more color than a few towels could provide...sandy tile, white vanity, cream walls - all a little to blah for me.

During... 

After looking at a dozen different paint samples in the bathroom, I chose Valspar's Rainforest from Lowes. It had just enough grey and green in it that it was a little more than teal walls. and I felt like was a calmer color.

After!

I taped and trimmed, Zach rolled and we got the bathroom paint finished in about two hours! The paint color turned out a little darker than I had hoped, but it gives a great contrast to all the white and beige fixtures in the room! I'm super happy with the way it turned out!