Monday, July 18, 2011

Monday Challenge: Junk Drawer Clean-up

Writing this blog is motivating. It forces encourages me to continually improve our home, cook delicious meals and try new things (like sewing and gardening). I've had a few people ask me where I get my ideas, and the answer is pretty simple. A majority of my ideas come from the variety of blogs I read, along with my other new love -- Pinterest. Whenever I find an idea that inspires me, I either pin it to one of my boards or file it away in my memory (not nearly as reliable).

While my latest inspiration isn't exactly glamorous, it's something that I've needed to do for awhile. I was reading Young House Love the other day (one of my all time favorites) and they did an entry about cleaning out the junk drawer in their kitchen. I'll admit, I thought it was a little silly at first ... a whole post dedicated to cleaning out one drawer? And then I realized that our junk drawer could use a mini-overhaul as well.

The junk drawer in our kitchen is tiny, but we don't have many storage options on our main level. We continued to cram more items into the little space until it got to the point that I had to rearrange the drawer just to shut it. Not cool.

There are several items that I like to keep close by, so I needed a better solution than relocating everything to our basement or continually cramming everything into one tiny drawer.

I started by emptying the drawer in our kitchen and sorting it by category - tape, tools, writing utensils, rubberbands and miscellaneous items.

Once I sorted everything, I pulled out a few items from each category that we tend to use pretty frequently. I put those items back in the drawer -- this time much more organized than the mess we started with.

As for the rest of our supplies, I put them in this glam toolbox that I scored from Home Goods for $6.00. It was originally a photo box, but it just so happened to be the perfect solution to my problem.

All of my leftover "junk" fit so nicely into the compact little container.

The best part about it is that it coordinates perfectly with our sunroom. So well, in fact, that I decided to give it it's own little home on our desk.

I have to say, it's nice to still have everything at arm's reach without overusing our teeny-tiny junk drawer!

How about you guys? Do you have a junk drawer that is getting out of hand? Or do you have a creative way to hide your not so glamorous home supplies? 

I'd love to hear about any other creative storage ideas you have because my next challenge is finding a way to hide my hand weights on the main level. I just scored a great set of 4, 7, 9 and 12 lb. weights from Drew's work for just $8 (total!), so now I need somewhere handy to hide them. I'll let you know what I come up with as soon as I figure it out.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Summer Lovin' Grilled Balsamic-Garlic Pork Tenderloin

Summer is by far my favorite season. I know a lot of people can't stand the heat and humidity, but I can deal. I actually kind of enjoy the heat as long as there's a pool nearby. And lucky me, there's a pool right down the street from my house.

My mom actually still talks about how when I was a little kid I always refused to take my swimsuit off after an afternoon at the pool. Now that I think about it, I still love lounging around in my swimsuit after I get back from the pool. It's like saying, "Yeah, I can go back whenever I want ... I still have my swimsuit on."

Speaking of things I love about summer, I love grilling. There's something about it that is just so wonderful. The prep-work for grilling is usually easy and it's very low maintenance once you start cooking. Oh and did I mention that cleaning a grill is much easier than scrubbing pots and pans?

Most recently, I grilled a fabulously flavorful pork tenderloin. It was super simple, which made it the perfect contender for the grill. By adding fresh green beans and a little rice pilaf you have an impressive dinner to serve to guests.

Here's how it all went down.

I whipped up a quick balsamic-garlic rub ...

Marinated the tenderloin for a few hours ...

And then grilled it until it got all crusty on the outside, while staying perfectly tender on the inside.

Grilled Balsamic-Garlic Pork Tenderloin
recipe from Kitchen Confidante

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Inactive Time: 2-10 hours
Cook Time: 35 minutes

4-5 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds pork tenderloin
2 tablespoons canola oil

Stir garlic, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and olive oil in a small bowl until the salt and garlic absorb most of the liquid. Rub the paste all over the pork and marinate for at least 30 minutes, but as long as overnight.

Heat the grill to medium-high (500 degrees) and sear the tenderloins on all sides. Turn the temperature down to medium heat (400 degrees) and grill for about 20-30 minutes over indirect heat, rotating every 10 minutes, until the internal temperature is 160 degrees. Let it rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

Are you grilling up anything fun or interesting this summer? 

I'm constantly looking for new ideas, so I'd love to hear what you've been up to!

Today I'm linking up to Tasty Tuesday at Beauty & Bedlam and Hearth & Soul Blog Hop at A Moderate Life.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

3 Glasses Later ...

I have a quick little story to share with you. I would write it all out, but if a picture is worth a thousand words, then these next four pictures will be the best 4,000 words you never had to read. 

Trust me, it's worth it ...


I told you it'd be worth it. :)

I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried. 
(too bad for my husband, right?)

Let's just hope that today goes better than this little project. If not, you can bet I'll be enjoying three more glasses of joy wine tonight. Happy Friday!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Filling in the Blanks

Remember this bookshelf that I scored on Craigslist for $35 (If not, check it out in this previous post)? When I brought it home, I wasn't quite sure where to put it, but I had a few different ideas. We moved it into the living room to start because that seemed to be the quickest place to set it down. It sat in the same spot for two or three weeks, but I didn't put anything on it. I liked having something to fill the space, but an empty bookshelf wasn't quite what I had in mind. The worst part is that the longer it sat in our living room, the more I got used to it sitting there empty.

When Jesse and I were getting ready for our friends to visit a few weeks ago, I realized that I needed to do something with the bookshelf. I could've moved it down to the craft room, but I had gotten used to it being in the living room. So once I brought in the persimmon side table and the new summery pillows, I started shopping around the house to see how I could fill the shelves.

Jesse and I got this seashell while on our honeymoon in Jamaica. A woman was selling them for $15 at a little market on our way back to the airport. I thought she was trying to convince me to buy it, so I told her that I was out of cash (and I pretty much was), but she told me that she wanted to give it to me as a gift. Once we got back on the bus, another traveler said we should check it for drugs (ha!). I freaked out for a second, but quickly realized that there was nothing wrong with it - she was just a generous woman. I've been keeping it up in our office because I didn't have anywhere else to put it, but now that it's down in the living room, I have a good story to share.

You probably recognize the 'L' from some of my other photos. It started out in the sunroom, but I put it on top of our wine rack when I started decorating the dining room. Now that I have an entire bookshelf to fill, I decided it would look better in the living room. I still need to find something for the wine rack, but in the meantime, we're storing our liquor up there. I know, it's classy! :)

See that blue frame in the background? It's actually a card that I got from my friend, Meredith. We work together, so she gets to hear plenty of my stories. After hearing "I'm pretty sure my husband thinks I'm crazy because .... " for the millionth time, she found the perfect card for me!

Not only does it sound just like Jesse and me, the design is adorable!

It took me awhile to gather a good variety of items for the bookshelf, but after a few weeks of treasure hunting around the house, I think I ended up with a great balance ... for now!

I originally intended to paint the bookshelf a light color, but now that I've filled it with several different sized items in a variety of different colors, I'm not as eager to whip out the paint. 

If I ever finish the buffet, I might start dreaming about paint colors for the bookshelf ... or I might not. What do you think? Does the dark wood look alright, or do you think everything would pop more against a lighter backdrop?

BTW, if you're interested in buying a card like the one I got, you can find them on the Curly Girl Design website. They have so many cute cards, guaranteed to make someone's day!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

4th of July + Grill Fun

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday weekend, filled with lots of free time, fireworks and food! I know we most certainly took advantage of the long weekend. Here are a few highlights from our weekend trip to visit Jesse's family. We got lucky that most of the I-95 travelers did their driving on Friday. Because of this, we got to visit with his parents for most of Saturday, and then spent the evening with a few of his friends. On Sunday, we went over at his sister's house where she and her husband hosted a fun little gathering! And of course, I couldn't wait to see my newest nephew, Sunny!

(thanks to Neil for these first three pictures!)

Look at how much hair this boy has - it's enough to make me jealous!

Jesse's mom made a blueberry pie that we all enjoyed! She used fresh blueberries and made the crust from scratch. What more could you ask for on the 4th of July?!

Since we were only gone for two and-a-half days, Rooney spent the weekend at home (no worries, we stocked him up with extra food, water and litter). He was extra happy to see us when we got back and followed me around for most of the afternoon. While I felt bad leaving him at home for so long, it was nice coming home to an extra loving kitty! :)

watching as I boiled water for deviled eggs

Once we settled in at home, I realized that I hadn't gone grocery shopping in more than a week. For being out of food, I managed to pull together a pretty impressive array of grilled kabobs. We enjoyed grilled shrimp and veggies, BBQ chicken and grilled potato rounds. Grilling potatoes was a new adventure, but they turned out really well!

I actually tried out the grilled veggies shortly after the 4th of July last year (it must be a seasonal thing), so be sure to check out the recipe.

For the shrimp, I cleaned, peeled and deveined them and then refrigerated until I was ready to start grilling. As I was warming up the grill, I strung the shrimp onto the kabobs and then seasoned them with olive oil, salt, pepper, and the juice from half a lemon. Shrimp cooks really fast, so I only grilled the kabobs for 2-3 minutes per side.

As for the chicken, I cut one chicken breast into seven equal pieces, strung the kabob, seasoned it with salt, pepper and olive oil, grilled it for about six minutes per side and then brushed it with BBQ sauce. I grilled the chicken for another 2-3 minutes on each side to help the sauce caramelize onto the chicken and then served it with extra BBQ sauce. Maybe it's a Kansas thing, but I love BBQ chicken!

The potato rounds were also easy to throw together, but oh so tasty! This is a very simple recipe, but sometimes that's all you need to get the creativity going. It certainly helped me!

Grilled Potato Rounds

Serves: 4
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Grill Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

2 large or 3 medium russet potatoes
2 Tablespoons olive oil
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

Optional Additions:
1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasonings
1 teaspoon thyme or rosemary
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 to 2 cloves of garlic, minced

Preheat grill to medium high heat (about 450 degrees).

Scrub potatoes, pat dry, and slice into 1/2 inch disks. In a medium bowl, combine potatoes, olive oil, salt, pepper, and seasonings until the potatoes are well coated.

Grill for about eight to ten minutes per side (until grill marks appear), and then flip every two to three minutes until the outside is brown and crispy.

Serve with grilled shrimp, veggies, and/or BBQ chicken.

Today I'm linking up to Tasty Tuesday over at Balancing Beauty & Bedlam, Cast Party Wednesday at Lady Behind the Curtainand Hearth & Soul Blog Hop at A Moderate Life.