What a week!!

Holy cow, y'all. This has been a roller coaster week. To give a little background information, the company I work for is going through a bit of a transition. Let me walk you through my week...and it's only Wednesday!

  • Talk to my boss, looks like my days are numbered. As in, less than 10...
  • As you know I've applied to an MBA program. I get a call from the admissions counselor. He tells me that my admissions test score was probably the highest he's seen since he's worked there. I aced the math and writing sample, and matched the highest-ever score on the critical thinking portion. He tells me on the spot that I'll be part of the program that starts in August. Hot diggity!
  • I started my job search early (a few weeks ago) with the anticipation that I wouldn't be around much longer. Got an email Sunday setting up a phone interview for Monday. I speak with the recruiter, she thinks I'm overqualified. The I speak to another person in another office. Not sure I like what I'm hearing about the job responsibilities. Email "no thanks", but get an email back requesting that I go ahead and come in for an interview...
  • Have the interview and boy am I glad I did! Have a totally different understanding about the job. Love what I hear, love the people, love the office. Love!!
  • Current boss calls. My last day with current company will be next Friday. Not feeling so doomed after the good interview.
  • Email back from owner of company setting up another phone interview with CEO (did I mention this company is small??). Very excited.
So that's where we are right now. I am a mix of emotions. Sad that my current job is ending. I adore my boss and the folks that I work with. Excited about grad school (holy cow I got into grad school! and I rocked my exams!). Nervous about finding another job. Excited that I might have found another job. Nervous about grad school. Sad that going back to work in a real office means I won't get to hang out with Murphy all day. In my pajamas.

So, my insides are knots. Cross your fingers and throw up a prayer that everything works out. I know it will. I always manage to land on my feet. I'm so lucky to have a husband that supports me in whatever I do, bless his heart. I cannot help but freak out a little bit though.


Sorry, had to get that out.


The Nooky Nook

Hi friends! I wanted to tell you about a project that Billy and I tackled last weekend. We have this very random nook thing in our kitchen. A real waste of space. We decided that before our house was remodeled back in 2004, it must have been a fireplace, because there is a chimney right above where the nook is in the attic.

Up until now, it's just been a catch-all for random kitchen objects. Here is that corner last Sunday morning...

Here's the nook close-up: There's a wine rack, the food processor, a basket of stuff that goes to my food processor and stand mixer, and some candle holders that currently have no home.

Something had to be done! I could stand it no longer. I've seen in magazines where people have made little appliance garages to house all of their kitchen gadgets. And since I'm the QUEEN of kitchen gadgets, I thought that was exactly what I needed!

Here's husband, after we removed all the junk, preparing to paint. We chose to go with the same wall color, Behr's Garden Wall, to make it cohesive with our pantry and the rest of the kitchen. And we had some of the paint left-over.

Here's the nook after it's all painted...looks a bajillion times better already!
Did I mention the nook also has random green tile?
It has random green tile. Not bad though, I don't hate it.

We are huge fans of the ClosetMaid white wire shelving at Home Depot. We've used it in our pantry when we redid it, and the closet in my office. Since it matched what we've already used in the pantry, we decided to be consistent and use it again here.

There are 4 components: the main support bar, the vertical supports, the shelf brackets, and the shelves. We measured the width and depth of the nook and decided that the 12" deep shelves would be best here. The shelves come in all different lengths, so we grabbed 2 4' shelves and they cut them right in half for us at the store. You could also cut them yourself, but we're nothing if not lazy.

So, you mount the main support bar in the wall above where you want your top shelf to be. We used some heavy-duty drywall anchors here since the shelves are going to hold somewhat heavy and expensive things. Then you slide in the vertical supports and screw those into the wall using more drywall anchors. Then you just decide where you want your shelves, hook on the shelf brackets, and place the shelves! Super easy! I think this project took us about 2 hours total, with painting and everything.

Here's the finished nook, will all of my goodies in there...

I use these items quite a bit, and this makes them super easy to get to
and also freed up a LOT of cabinet space for us.

Here's the nook, blending in nicely with the rest of our kitchen,
looking nice and neat and actually cute!

Oh, and one more thing...see that light fixture? We've named it "the squid lamp".
I've hated it since the day we moved in.

It's gone. We've replaced it.
And on that note, I'll say that West Elm is a very dangerous place for me.

As far as cost goes for this project, here's the breakdown:
Paint: $0, we used leftover paint
Main support bar: $7.27
2 4' Vertical Support bars: 2 x $8.32 = $16.64
6 shelf brackets: 6 x $4.57 = $27.42
2 4' shelves: 2 x $4.86 = $9.72 (we only used 3 of the cut sections, so we have a 2' section leftover)
Shelf cutting was FREE
Total: $61.05

I'm sure there are less expensive options out there, like if you live near an Ikea (which we don't, the closest one is in Atlanta...boo hiss), but for the quality of the shelving and how easy they are to install, I think it's totally worth it. And since then, every time I pass our made-over nook, I yell out "I love my shelves!".

I hope everyone's had a great weekend. It's been just lovely here in Nashville!


The Best Baking Tip EVER!!

Even though this is a month late, I definitely wanted to share with you a few things I learned while making Billy's birthday cake...

This was a recipe I got from Barefoot Contessa recipe for Pineapple Carrot Cake...which is pretty much just a carrot cake with a little more natural sweetness from the pineapple. Carrot cake is Billy's absolute favorite...and he actually bowed out of having a groom's cake at our wedding because he said he liked my cake more than any carrot cake we could get...tee hee. I just thought the fresh pineapple was an interesting addition, so I tried it out! I even "butchered" a pineapple!

While the cake looked and tasted absolutely delicious, the main thing I wanted to share is the little trick I learned recently. To take you back a little bit, I made a scrumptious chocolate-chocolate cake for New Year's Eve/our friend Blair's birthday, but I have been having a heck of a time getting my cakes to come out of the pan easily. I literally used my chocolate buttercream icing as glue to piece my cakes back together since they fell apart while I was getting them out of the pan. Arg. Talk about frustration. Was it my pan? The oven? ME? Color me perplexed.

Enter Martha Stewart. She has a new show on the Hallmark Channel called Martha Bakes--it's pretty much just her in an amazing kitchen sharing some of her secrets on how to get perfect baked goods. A definite must-watch for any baker. On the very first episode, I learned how to solve my problem...

First, grab the pan you're going to use, some parchment, a pencil, and scissors.

Trace around your pan on the parchment with your pencil. See my awesome tracing skills below. Make sure you trace a circle for each pan you have. 2 pans = 2 traced circles.

Next, cut out your circles! Side note, you can actually BUY pre-cut parchment circles for your cake pans. Who knew?

Next, butter your pan with softened butter and a pastry brush.

Place your parchment in the pan and shmear some butter on that, too.
Now flour your pans. Put about a tablespoon of flour in one pan, roll it around and tap out the excess into your other pan. Continue for each pan. Make sure they are coated really well.
Fast forward to cake removal. Enjoy your perfectly non-stuck cakes!

I was so pleased with how my cakes turned out! Martha really does know her stuff, but we knew that already. No more wasting icing piecing things back together, although that was one of my finer MacGyver moments.

One thing I don't like is how my pans have a tapered side, so my cakes aren't perfectly squared off (I know, I know...where's your tiny violin...). I have my eye on some of these: Fat Daddio's aluminum cake pans. I've heard aluminum pans are the best and this particular brand got great reviews. I believe you can order them directly from the Fat Daddio's site, but I've seen them on Sur La Table's site and on Amazon. I will definitely be getting two 9" ones VERY soon.
So that's that. I actually have a pile of unwatched Martha Bakes on my DVR. They are REALLY informative! I have another tip about icing, but I'll save that for later!



Hi friends!

Today is a bit of a day of reflection for me, as it is my 28th birthday. My facebook wall is flooded with birthday wishes (thank you all!!) and my heart is full of love. Part of me can't believe that I'm thisclose to turning the big 3-0, but at the same time, I find myself liking the person I've become more and more with each year that passes, and welcome each new candle on my birthday cake.

What did I accomplish as a 27-year-old?
  • Started a very fulfilling photography hobby
  • Quit a job that made me miserable and got a new job that I love, working with people that I adore (who knew it would be at the very same company!)
  • Celebrated 1 joyful year of marriage with Billy
  • Watched my little brother graduate from college AND get married
  • Improved my baking and cooking (because that's important, right?)
It was a great year! Honestly, though, I hope that 28 is somewhat uneventful. I'm so happy with how things are in my life right now, that I couldn't possibly think of a single thing to change. However, I will (hopefully) add another role to my growing list (wife, friend, daughter, sister...): Grad student! I'm applying to an MBA program and should start this August if I get accepted...

Speaking of school, this year will be 10 years out of high school and 6 years out of college as well as 6 years of living in Nashville.

As far as updates go, I've been a little busy these past few weeks and have to apologize for not sharing all of the things swirling around in my brain:
  • I visited our big office for a big team meeting in Herndon, VA last week. Surprisingly enough I had some GREAT Mexican food (I'm very picky about it since I'm from Texas), got some great feedback on the work I've been doing, and won one of these. It is super cool and would be a great gift, especially for a techy husband or dad. It's BG's fave new toy.
  • I learned a new baking trick while making Billy's birthday cake a couple weeks ago. It has changed my life! I promise to share SOON!
  • Still trying new recipes...like a Caprese Panini. OMG delicious.
So that's about it for me today! Time to finish up some work, maybe work out (I'm on day 52 of Power 90--and BG gave me a birthday pass for today so I could take the day off, but I feel like I should work out anyway...oh the guilt!) and then go have Happy Birthday Happy Hour at Eastland Cafe with some friends.

Did I mention that my husband, the man that does not read directions or pay attention or do things in order, is making me a birthday cake? This should be interesting...