Friday, August 16

Styling a Bar Cart

Since we purchased our first home 6 months ago, I've been far more interested in styling my house rather than my attire.  (And I'm sure that when we have a baby one day, I'll be styling him/her rather than my house-- notice a pattern here?)  So, I thought that I may as well share some photos of my recently styled bar cart... even though there are a million of them already floating around Pinterest.

I woke up this morning with a major urge re-style this cart immediately.  I know, it's weird.  And since I'm on a major budget right now (teacher's don't get paid when they aren't working!), I took a quick trip to the grocery store to stock up on some items.  Everything else, I already had.

I bought this cart several years ago at a great store called Three Potato Four.  One day, I plan on asking my dad to help me repaint it.  He does auto body, so he can simply spray a new color for me.  In the mean time, I'm kind of a fan of this bold green.

This glass bowl and blue tray are from Ikea, and the vintage bottle that I'm using as a vase was actually found in the ground!  These glasses are from a local antique store.  They were a present for my husband because he's such a big fan of trains (no, I'm not married to a 7 year old).

This vintage shaker and the glass decanter are pieces from Erik's grandparent's house.  The table and chairs are part of a dinette set that came from my grandparents.  My favorite part about decorating our home is having great memories from family heirlooms.  Even the smallest items can carry so many special memories.

For now, this area of our kitchen is almost complete.  I'm planning to move this chandelier eventually, to somewhere small, like a hallway or the laundry room, and add a larger light fixture to this space.  I also have to refinish the table and chairs and add a large area rug.  I was planning to refinish the furniture this summer, but I'm trying to decide whether or not to paint the chairs (or table) a bright color.  I really want to add color in this room from the chairs, but I'm afraid that I might regret altering the natural wood.  I've been considering going with a green similar to the bar cart... any suggestions?

Clock, Blue Vase, Flower Pot, Frame, Blue Tray, Glass Bowl, Curtains, Chandelier: Ikea
Salt and Pepper Birds: Chirp Collection from Lenox
Glassware, Table Runner, Silver Tray: Vintage
Vintage Map of NJ: Urban Sherpa via Etsy
Chevron Coasters: Ark Restoration via Etsy
Wood Blinds: Home Depot
Mirror: Home Goods

Monday, August 12

Summer Gnocchi Caprese

I've been making this dish every summer for the past few years but I usually don't bother with it during the winter months because using fresh tomatoes and basil is essential.  This caprese salad-meets-gnocchi idea started with the abundance of tomatoes I was getting every August.  It's one of those dishes that's very simple but high quality ingredients are essential.  Use fresh gnocchi (or make your own), and splurge on some good mozzarella.  If you aren't growing your own tomatoes this summer, hopefully your grocery store is stocking up on all of the local farmer's beautiful produce.

I prefer to cook minimally during the hottest parts of summer, and so the only reason to use your stove is to boil the fresh gnocchi for 2 minutes.  Everything else is prepped and kept raw, with the exception of the grilled chicken.

  • 2 lbs. gnocchi
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 packed cup of fresh basil
  • chopped parsley to taste
  • 3 medium tomatoes, chopped (you may want to core them slightly to remove excess water)
  • 2 Tbsp. grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigiana 
  • 1 lb. fresh mozarella, diced into 1" cubes
  • salt and pepper to taste

In your food processor, blend the garlic, olive oil, Pecorino Romano, fresh basil and parsley thoroughly.  You want to make sure that the garlic is minced as finely as possible because it won't be cooked.

Next, add the chopped tomatoes and pulse the food processor just a few times to chop the tomatoes to your liking.  Personally, I prefer to not over-blend the fresh tomatoes.

Boil and drain the gnocchi, then mix it thoroughly into the fresh tomato sauce.  Afterwards carefully fold in the diced mozzarella pieces.  Top with some additional Pecorino Romano.

If you're eyeing up the "chicken" on the side of my plate, I used Quorn's chik'n cutlets.  They were marinated for about an hour in olive oil, parsley, basil, salt, pepper, a chopped clove of garlic and a tablespoon of chopped onion.  I grilled them for a few minutes on each side, and they were ready to serve.  This recipe would also work with real chicken breasts, but why not do a meat-free protein?  (It's seriously delicious!)

PS. This was not a sponsored post.

Friday, August 9

OBX 2013

It's family vacation time at the Outer Banks!  This past week, we started off by celebrating my husband's 29th birthday.  We have enjoyed some great sunsets, played with the dogs in the bay, and relaxed indoors during some storms.  

Good laughs, great food and suntans have made it a seriously wonderful week.

Read about my 2011 OBX vacation here.