Wednesday, March 27, 2013

New Blog - Just Off Square

It's been a very long time, blogosphere, and I've missed you! (Though, I've kept up with many of you, creeper-style.) For anyone who still follows this ol' blog, please check out my new (less unfortunately named) page, I write about decorating our first home, dogs, food, and more dogs.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

One and One and One and One is Four

Everyone, meet Hamilton Culpepper

You can call him Hammie (or Ham) for short.

His family was going through a divorce, and somehow he ended up on my brother's back porch in need of a home, so Brandon and Jen brought him to us last weekend. We had been planning to adopt another pup in the next couple months or so anyway, because Sawyer does so much better when he has a playmate. (As in, he sleeps in the evenings instead of biting my slippers, etc.) Hammie is six months old and almost full-grown (and he only weighs 18 pounds, as opposed to Sawyer's 55 pounds). Andrew took him to the vet last week and he got all of his shots, was de-wormed and basically had the works done.

 So far Hammie has been ...

Learning to walk on the leash (he was previously an outside Beagle)

Getting used to the sights and sounds of the big (to him) city
Playing in the snow
Remember when I told you big snows were rare around here? Apparently, they're not.
 Playing with his new big brother

And, of course, figuring out the biggest flaw of our house: that the stairs run by the counter. Last Sunday night we found Hammie in the sink—he had walked across the (cold) stove, through some pans (he had olive oil on his little paws) and over to the sink. We promptly put the baby gate up, but he jumped over it.

Sawyer is a proud, slightly confused, big brother. He seems to be adjusting well, so let's hope that continues.

If only they would do this (sleep) more often.
Hammie, meet the blog world!

Monday, February 7, 2011

King Cake, home brew and burlesque, oh my!

This weekend we had house guests for the first time in a while. There were a few months after the wedding when the Winchester Suite (our extra bedroom) was booked almost every weekend, but it tapered off around Halloween/the holidays, so we were excited to get to show my brother, his fiance Jen, and their pups around our town Friday night and Saturday.

My brother Brandon brews beer (hah, say that three times fast... well, it's actually not very hard) so he brought us a lot of his home brew: a pale ale, a Belgian 8 and a Belgian double. (I have no idea what those terms mean but Andrew says the difference between the Belgians is about four percent alcohol.)

We started off the evening with a tasting of all three, and then headed out to get sushi. The restaurant was packed, and dinner took forever, but it was fun to sip drinks and catch up. The giant platter of sushi was delicious as well.

Brandon and Jen also brought us something else, but that if for another post later this week!

Saturday morning I got up and finished the King Cake I baked for Brandon's birthday. The cake itself looks strange because I put too much food coloring in the sugar and it clumped up, but it tasted really good, I swear! I'll do a post on the king cake later this week so you can do what I recommend, not what I did, should anyone out there choose to make their own cake for Mardi Gras.

Izze Bell, Jen's Boston Terrier, judged me for messing up the King Cake sugar.

We went for a jog with Izze and Sawyer that morning, and then went out for breakfast and Bloody Marys, but I forgot my camera. We hung out around the house and town the rest of the day, and then went to a burlesque show Saturday night which was a first for all of us, I think. It was definitely one of the highlights of the weekend, and I would definitely go to another. (I didn't take pics for obvious reasons!)

Sunday morning Jen, Brandon and the dogs had to leave semi-early to make it back for the Superbowl. Nurse A and I spent the rest of the day relaxing, dog walking and eating chicken wings and fries (even though we didn't watch the game). I hope everyone had a great weekend as well! I leave you with this photo of Izze, reflecting on her visit to Mississippi:

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Beginnings of a Grouping

I've had a wall grouping in the works since Trish @ This Life of Ours posted inspiration pics for her impressive arrangement back in October. I loved all of the inspiration photos she posted (including Trish's), but one in particular spoke to me. Behold:

Our couch is the same shape ( a little longer, actually) and I have an adorable chalkboard left over from the wedding that I am obsessed with and mention often in posts. We also had nothing on that particular wall of the couch, which was bothering me. Having no money, I started shopping around the house and came up with not only a variety of cute options, but lots of items in the same color scheme. Obviously, it was meant to be. I'm a big fan of shopping around the house.

Andrew and I hung a few things almost immediately after I showed him the inspiration photo, but our little grouping has been half done for some time now. Then, back in November, I won Trish's giveaway (her first to host and my first to win!) and got to pick out a cute alphabet print from fontsupply, an Etsy shop run by designer/artist Arian.

Being Queen of Taking Forever to Do Things (unless you give me a deadline, which I am programmed to meet), I took about a month or more to choose my print. (I was in a battle between gifting the print and keeping it for myself ... conveniently for me, I waited to order it until after the holidays.) Plus, there were six pages of options, all of them cute. Don't believe me? Check out Arian's shop.

Trish chose this print for her grouping, which I love:

Image via

Observe it in all its grouping glory (at the bottom left):

Image via

I ended up ordering this one, and it arrived on my doorstep in early January:
Image via
I loved it not only because the bluish-green border matches the outer edges of the chalkboard, but also because the oval behind the "A" is newsprint, and Nurse A and I both have backgrounds in newspaper.  I was trying to find a print that he would enjoy as much as I did. (Andrew, by the way, loves it and even chose the frame!)

So now that I've taken up this much of your time, I bet you're expecting me to show you my wonderful wall grouping, right? Not yet! It's a work in progress, so I'm going to wait to unveil it. It also does not help that Andrew has hijacked my grouping (he has hung it in a triangle formation) and we don't exactly see eye-to-eye, design-wise. I will, however, show you a few of the things we want to include in our arrangement. Four items (the print, of course, included) have officially made the grouping cut. (All the decor in my house is sweating right now, y'all.)

1. The print
2. The chalkboard
3. Framed wedding invite
Number four is a framed engagement picture, but I haven't completely chosen the photo yet. Right now it's this one, because that was the photo already in the frame, and the bluish color scheme continues in our shirts.

If we use one of the photos in the red telephone booth,  we can incorporate some more red into the grouping, namely our Coca-Cola sign.

I'm not gonna lie, I kind of love awkward prom pose.

Currently, we have a naked girl sketch by my brother hanging in the grouping, but I ultimately like her in the bedroom best so I'm looking for something to replace her. You can't tell in the picture, but she fits the color scheme too (bluish gray).

Our next step is to incorporate some shelves,  like this simple one from Target.
Image via

That way, I could arrange fresh flowers, framed photos, ceramic items, some of the milk bottles from the wedding and random things like these BodyShop oils on the shelves, which for some reason I think are really cute.

Green tea, Cotton Flower and Clear Water oils.
I'll keep you updated as the grouping comes along! And thanks to Trish and Arian for the lovely ideas and the lovely print!

Happy Sunday,

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Best Chicken Salad Ever


 I never really liked chicken salad until my friend Lexi made a similar version of this recipe one summer for lunch, and then I was hooked. I combined her recipe with my love of Greek yogurt and my irrational dislike of celery (the dislike is a new thing--it ebbs and flows) and came up with this slightly altered recipe. I served it at my sister's bachelorette party a year or so ago, and it was a huge hit. I'm telling you, this stuff is good. And it's really easy to make.

You need:

1 rotisserie chicken, skin removed, shredded (about 3 cups ... I don't  use the whole chicken because we like to make sandwiches and things with the leftovers)

3 Tbsp. non-fat, plain Greek yogurt (I suggest Fage or Dannon, because some brands can be too regular creamy and Kroger brand even tastes sweet, which is odd.)

2 Tbsp. light mayonnaise 

1 1/2 cup sliced green grapes

½ cup shaved or crushed almonds

3/4 cup Craisins

Combine shredded chicken, grapes, almonds and Craisins in a large  bowl and mix well. Toss with Greek yogurt and mayonnaise (enough to cover but not saturate). Refrigerate for at least an hour. (It's best if refrigerated overnight.) Feel free to increase or decrease amount of grapes, almonds and Craisins depending on personal tastes. And I'm not gonna lie, the last time I made this I put in three tablespoons of mayo and only two of Greek yogurt. Basically, do everything to taste. Serve with whole wheat Ritz crackers, on a sandwich or over lettuce.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Winter Lovin'

It's the end of January, almost February. The time of year when my thoughts turn to the candy colored nail polish of spring, azaleas, pastel Easter eggs, and, most of all, warmth. What would it be like to go running at the park in shorts and a tank top, with people lounging on blankets near the lake?

Since I can't change the weather, now is the time to appreciate the things I love about winter. What's on the top of my list?

Snow, of course! I love snow, no matter how meager the flurries. We were supposed to get our third (light) snowfall last night, but all seems clear today.

Uggs. I didn't really get the trend until I put my foot into the fluffy, furry, warmth of an Ugg boot.  I will certainly miss them when flip-flop weather rolls around.
I definitely see a splurge for these chocolate brown Uggs in my future ... Image via

Slippers and bright socks. I like warm feet, ok?

Target has the best socks, hands down.

Nurse A in a scarf. He got a new one in Highlands and I love it! For some reason I don't have a great picture of it, but at least you can see it here. It's all red and plaid.

Warm blankets. Being able to sleep under tons of blankets comfortably is one thing I definitely miss during spring and summer. Blankets are just so comfortable, as evidenced by Sawyer.

He loves our new pillows!
And, of course, Valentine's Day! Our six month wedding anniversary falls on Valentine's Day, and I'm looking forward to it. Not sure what we're going to do, but it will certainly involve flowers!

Last year's set-up
Oh, I almost forgot King Cake! Growing up we always got Mardi Gras holidays off of school (my town is sandwiched between New Orleans and Mobile, so Mardi Gras is a pretty big deal there) but North Mississippi doesn't really have any celebrations. Still, I'm excited about attempting to bake King Cake for the first time. I'll let you know how it goes!

Image via

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

5 things I've learned

While being unemployed.
(ahem, excuse me: self-employed)

I wish my workspace looked like this! If only typewriters had Gmail chat. Image via

Hey, does anyone remember many months ago when I started my "5 Things I've Learned" series? The series that I only posted to twice, so it was in no way a series? Yeah, I forgot about it too. I liked it, so I'm bringing it back, with a topic I've been thinking about a lot lately for obvious reasons.

I've officially been out of a traditional nine-to-five job for three months, and while nothing would make me happier than a phone call offering me a position I've applied and interviewed for (except maybe a surprise pug puppy!), I feel it's important to focus on positive things. And oddly enough, many positive things have resulted from leaving my job without any other prospects in an uncertain economy, as crazy as that might sound.

1. I have control. Resigning from a job without another one is scary stuff. I learned that I can take control of my life and make big decisions like this. I value the skills I gained and relationships I made at my previous (and first "grown up") job immensely, and I know these  will benefit me professionally for the rest of my life. But it was time to go. It's a powerful feeling, to realize you can make choices and take control of your future like that.

Homemade ravioli!
2. I have hobbies! For months, the question, "What do you do besides write?" really bothered me, because I didn't really do anything. I always answered meekly that I write fiction for fun (which is true, but I don't do this that often) and that I like to read. They were weak answers, anyway, since reading and writing go hand-in-hand. When I left my job, everything changed. Nurse A and I couldn't afford to eat out every meal of every day, so we started cooking from the Williams-Sonoma Bride and Groom Cookbook, and we realized that one of the best part of our day was coming home and spending time in the kitchen together while Sawyer managed to steal butter and get flour all over his nose.

We also incorporated jogging into our daily routine (to counteract the cooking hobby and because it's free), and have a goal this year to run a 10k (a goal I didn't accomplish last year) as well as a 10-miler. I can't believe we didn't realize how great cooking and running were before! No wonder all you crazy kids do it. And I don't know how we managed Sawyer before we forced him to run at least 10 miles a week. 

3. I have a great support network of friends, family and, of course, Andrew. My family supports and encourages me. My lovely friends send me freelancing opportunities my way when they can, encouraging e-mails and kind words and I really appreciate those things. My in-laws have also been great as well. I'm thankful that everyone has been so supportive and non-judgemental.

4. I take pride in my work.  I had felt for awhile that I was emphasizing quantity, not quality of work.  I missed the thrill of reading one of my articles and being proud of it. I'm lucky that journalism is a field in which you can always practice. I've taken on lots of freelancing clients and I've begun producing work that I'm proud to send to my editor. It's a really good feeling.

5. We're ok. It's been three months. My little family hasn't starved, we haven't lost our house. In fact, I've traveled to New Orleans, the Mississippi Coast, Mobile,North Carolina and Charleston, South Carolina in those three months. Sawyer needs shots in February, and Sawyer will get his shots. We have a warm house, Netflix, great friends and family (even though they're all spread out across the country!), books, wine, a Labrahound, blackberry Izze, etc. I have steady work (if not always steady paycheck) and my client load is growing all the time. Turns out we don't need much to be happy.

Also on a random note, I've learned that I really like coffee shops, taking walks and watching weather reports. What about you? Has anyone else out there made a big decision recently that taught you a lot about yourself?