Some Much Needed Clarification

So apparently there was some confusion about the topic of my last post. When I say landing strip, I mean an area by the front door to keep keys, wallets, coats, etc - please see these several recent posts for proof. I am aware there is an alternate definition to 'landing strip' but I haven't thought about that meaning since I was in high school.

I did not intend for it to be a double entendre, so please don't be offended.

In case that wasn't clear, I did not, and will not, write about my hoo-ha on this blog. Thank you.

Fancy New Landing Strip

You have no idea how excited I am to finally be posting this project. Hint: I'm really excited. I started this project last summer (back when we were in our apartment) and I just finished it a few days ago.

After seeing so many lovely (and functional) landing strips on the shelter blogs I decided I had to have one. At the time we were saving up for our house down payment, so buying an expensive table or cabinet was out. Then I remembered I had an old model stand hanging around from design school. So, model stand + wood top + paint and stain = cheap table!

Then (still in the planning phase) I decided I needed some art to go over the table and, again inspired by the shelter blogs, I fell in love with the idea of a plate collection. I picked up some random plates from thrift stores, Etsy and even Urban Outfitters. While I was out thrifting, I grabbed some accessories to sit on the table and work their organizational magic.

So I've had the plates and accessories for months now, but me and the hubby finally rolled up our sleeves and got the table finished over the weekend then hung the plates Monday night! So without further ado, I present my new landing strip!

Admittedly, the lighting is more than a bit funky here. The only way to photograph this space is to stand on my porch with the door open, hence the Jekyll/Hyde lighting sitch. But I kind of like it - it's striking, in an odd sort of way.

view of the plates with slightly more even lighting

close up of the table top

pitcher: thrifted / mail holder: Old Navy / yellow bowl: thrifted

the pitcher, sitting atop some of my favorite books, holds my sunglasses

the yellow bowl holds keys and wallets, his & hers style

vintage plate from Etsy

vintage bowl and plate, from Etsy

So there you have it - my new and awesome (to me) landing strip. I love the bold pops of yellow and aqua and the key bowl makes it so much easier for my hubby to get out the door in the morning - he's kind of a put my keys wherever and not remember where kind of guy - so this really helps him stay organized.
I didn't keep track of the budget for this little project but I know it wasn't much. The thrifted plates were all super cheap (except for the few I bought new) and paint is always the cheapest way to makeover anything!
Any new projects going on with you?

My Tiny Piece of Manhattan

Do you know what I did Saturday night? If you guessed " You enjoyed a lovely dinner downtown followed by some gallery hopping" you would be wrong. You would also be wrong if your guess involved dancing, shopping or anything else fun and exciting, out in public, that twenty-somethings typically do on the weekend.

However, if your guess was "You sat on your ass playing with Legos while you half-paid attention to the Olympics" then ding, ding, ding we have a winner!

That's right folks, I'm just as dorky as you think I am. Saturday morning I went to the mall with the intention of buying some not-too-ugly maternity clothes. On my way to Cows-R-Us, I got distracted in the Lego Store.

You see, several months ago I read a press release about the upcoming Lego Architecture Series.
Naturally I almost peed my pants with glee.*

Now they are available for purchase and I just couldn't stop myself from buying a mini-Lego Guggenheim. I bought my clothes, ran some other errands then went home where I promptly tore open my new toy like a 6 year old hopped up on birthday cake.

Go ahead, admire my mini-monument in all its nerdy, toy glory.

Here it sits, atop a stack of Arch Record, on my desk at work.

If any of you happen to have 100 bucks lying around, you can feel free to send me a Lego Fallingwater to add to my collection.
*Speaking of Glee, when is that showing coming back? I am dying here. I need campy mash ups!

Moravian Cookies

Ok, I was going to start this post all "If you haven't tried these run, don't walk, to your nearest Dewey's and buy some NOW!" but then I realized Dewey's only has stores in NC so, there goes that.


I have finally eaten my way through the various treats I got in Christmas goody bags and I saved these for last. They are none other than Dewey's famous Moravian Cookies. This particular pack is Vanilla Walnut, but all of their flavors are delish.

The bakery is an extension of Old Salem, an historic Moravian community, and continues to bake traditional Moravian cakes, breads and cookies. This type of cookie is quite unique and I have never tasted anything like it from any other bakery.
They are thin and delicate, but not too crunchy, with a soft buttery flavor. It is difficult to describe them. Almost as difficult as it is to only eat one!

As I mentioned before, they don't have stores outside of NC, but you can always order the cookies or their other delicious desserts online in the comfort of your own pajamas.
Bon appetit!
P.S. - Happy Friday!

I'm So White N' Nerdy

Lots of people relax and unwind by learning a musical instrument. They practice playing the guitar or the drums, and after years of diligent work they have accomplished something to be proud of.

Me? Not so much. I like to relax and unwind by pretending to play a plastic guitar. That's right folks, I play Rock Band.

me: "Hi, I'm Allison and I'm a nerd."
NA:* "Hi Allison."

This game sounds absolutely ridiculous but it really is fun to play. The only downside** is the instruments take up quite a bit of space.

enter the GUITAR HANGER, stage left

I can just imagine one of these in my coat closet holding my axe. Wow. I can't even type that with a straight face. I guess you could use it for a regular guitar, too. If you're LAME.***

*NA is nerds anonymous. Clearly.

**Other than the pastiness and crippled social life.

***And by lame I mean way cooler than I'll ever be.

via Apartment Therapy

Superbowl Snacks

The hubby and I had some of his work friends over for the Superbowl and we had a great time entertaining guests! We hosted three couples and they all brought their kids - we had two 2 year olds, a 4 year old and a 6 year old. The kiddos made it a little hectic and we missed some of the commercials - there were even moments of 'wait, what's the score?' - but we had a blast watching the kids warm up to each other and play together.

My favorite part of hosting is always the food! I meant to take pictures of the table all set, but then I didn't. Bad blogger! Any who, here's the menu:

Sweet and Spicy Chicken Wings prepped and grilled by the hubby
Lil' Smokies (aka Cocktail Franks in Jelly Mustard Sauce) recipe by Brettany
Hot Artichoke Dip
Port Wine Cheese Ball
Mozzarella and Prosciutto Roll store bought
Fresh Orange Slices, Grapes, Strawberries
Chips & Salsa
Mixed Nuts
Lemonade Punch

In my humble opinion everyone enjoyed the food. The wings were a little labor intensive, so the hubby focused all his time on those. I made everything else and each menu item is delicious without being crazy hard to make. In fact, nothing had more than four ingredients! In fact, they're so simple I think it couldn't hurt for you to have them in your Party Food arsenal!

Lil' Smokies
- 1-2 lbs cocktail franks or cut up hot dogs
- 1 jar jelly, approx 12 oz (I used Strawberry Black Currant)
- 1 jar yellow mustard, approx 12 oz (I improvised with 8 oz yellow and 4 oz dijon)
- brown sugar and/or barbecue sauce, to taste (optional)

- This can be made and served in a crock pot, or made in a saucepan and served in a warming dish.
- Combine mustard, jelly, brown sugar and barbecue sauce and heat on medium until jelly melts and ingredients are well mixed.
- Add cocktail franks, stir until franks are hot.
- Serve

Prep Time: 15 minutes

The beauty of this recipe is that you're not really 'cooking' just mixing and warming. You can totally improvise the jelly sauce. Feel free to experiment with jelly and mustard flavors. And since the franks come pre-cooked, you just have to make sure they're warm.

Hot Artichoke Dip
- 8 oz cream cheese
- 14 oz canned, quartered artichoke hearts, drained
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 C parmesan cheese (you can totally get away with the powdered kind if you don't have the freshly grated stuff)
- Crackers, bread slices, pita wedges for serving

- Combine all ingredients in a bowl and beat with hand mixer on medium until well blended. Note: The artichokes will start out in big chunks, but they will separate as you blend. Don't panic.
- Spoon cheese mixture into greased 2 quart casserole dish. Note: If you are using glazed earthenware, you don't need to grease it.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Prep Time: 5 minutes Total Time: 30-35 minutes

This is a great make-ahead dish. I prepped this Saturday night, following all steps except the baking. I let the dip sit out for 30 minutes before going into the oven so it wouldn't go from cold to hot too quickly. Again, you're not really cooking any raw food here, so it's impossible to mess it up.

Port Wine Cheese Ball
- 1/8-1/4 C cheap port wine (If you're making this for non-winos, go easy. A little port goes a long way.)
- 8 oz cream cheese, softened
- 2 C shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 2 packs sliced or chopped almonds
- Crackers for serving

- In a mixing bowl, combine cream cheese and wine. Note: Over the years I have figured out the best way to do this. Don't bother with a hand mixer, wooden spoon or whisk - you will just frustrate yourself. All you need is a fork, table knife and rubber spatula. Pour wine into mixing bowl. Cut cream cheese into 8 cubes. One at a time, add a cube to the mixing bowl and drag the fork through the cheese. This spreads it out and allows it to mix with the wine. Once the cheese is nice and 'mushed' add another cube. Periodically scrape the bowl with the spatula to keep all the cheese together.
- After wine and cream cheese is mixed, add the cheddar cheese. Continue mixing and folding with the fork until the cheddar is fully incorporated.
- Spread the almonds evenly on a sheet of wax paper or aluminum foil. Set aside.
- Use the spatula to scrape the cheese mixture to the bottom of the bowl - it should start to form a ball. Pick up the ball and work it with your hands to get it as round as you can.
- Roll the ball in the almonds until coated.
- For best results, chill at least one hour before serving.

Prep Time: 30 minutes

This is also great for making ahead, as it will keep for several days. You could also make it into a cheese log if that's your thing.

Lemonade Punch
- 3 cans frozen lemonade
- 4 liters lemon-lime soda

- Read the instructions on the lemonade can, using soda instead of water.
- Stir and serve.

Prep Time: 3 minutes
Yields: 3 batches

It really is that easy. Being Southern, I've been brought up knowing you can't host people without serving punch. This is super simple and doesn't take any time. Also, if you make this just before guests arrive the lemonade and soda are still cold from the freezer and refrigerator, so you don't need to serve it over ice unless that is your preference.


Fashion Epiphanies

Before I start talking about the topic at hand, I have to preface this posts with two statements:

1) I am not posting my outfits because I think I look awesome, pretty, well-dressed, etc. I just wanted to show you how I have been experimenting with my wardrobe. And yes, I know I look chubby. Cut a pregger some slack.

2) Excuse the TERRIBLE lighting. Since it's winter, it is dark when I get dressed and it is dark when I get home. I would prefer natural light but I had to shoot these in my room with - god forbid - the flash on. I'm not brave enough to walk outside my office, tripod in hand, and take pictures of myself on the sidewalk. Ditto on getting someone else to take it for me.


Inspired by a recent guest lecture on dressing well in the cold, I decided to try my hand at what I learned. After a bit of experimentation I found I can layer thin long underwear under open weave tights. This look works as long as my boots are tall enough to cover the bottom of the long underwear.

As I sat down to write this post I realized I have been much braver lately, thanks to the ladies of Academichic. Because of their tutelage I have been bold enough to try:

photo via Academichic

How I wore it: I started with a foundation of mixed browns - t-shirt, wrap dress, textured tights and slouchy boots. To punch it up I layered on a peacock blue sundress and my DIY orange summer scarf.

layered necklines

brown on brown


photo via Academichic

How I Wore It: This outfit was built around the patterned tights. I wanted to let the pattern be the star of this ensemble so I added black ankle boots, a black cotton summer dress and my black boyfriend cardigan. It needed a splash of color, so I grabbed my purple scarf. The whole thing looked too slouchy so I thought I would add a belt. That was too much look, but I remembered I could belt the scarf to unify the accessories and avoid the attention grabbing battle of scarf vs. belt.


photo via Academichic

How I Wore It: This look started with the sweater skirt. The colors are technically 2 shades of blue, but I've always found I like pairing it with grays for a subtle palette. I topped it with a gray turtleneck and added gray tights, layered over black leggings, for warmth. To mix it up I wore my cognac brown boots and wore a caramel belt to reinforce the addition of browns. I am now a huge fan of pairing warm browns with black and gray.


I never noticed this while reading Academichic, but in pulling inspiration photos I realized I relate much more to A's style than that of E or S. But I do really enjoy seeing fashion from their three different perspectives because it offers more to learn from.

In an effort to step up my fashion game, I also started following the 'Daily Wear' photostream of Whitney from Darling Dexter.

The biggest thing I have learned is to rethink how I see my clothes. An item doesn't have to only be a 'summer top' or a cocktail dress. If I play with how I wear it I can get so much more use out of my existing wardrobe.

What about you guys? Any fashion lessons you're putting to the test?

Perfectly Labeled Storage Bins

Remember my vintage rubber stamp kit and how I had big plans for it? Well, I broke it out over the weekend and created some organizational goodness.

During our New Year's Ikea trip I bought some super cheap plastic bins to help me organize my laundry closet. This closet is twice the size of my laundry room at our old apartment so now I have room to store things that aren't related to laundry. This closet is now the happy home of light bulbs, vacuum filters, and miscellaneous cleaning supplies in addition to the laundry basics.

I lined the bins on the shelf above the machines, but big things like detergent and the iron stay out on the shelf. Once I knew how many would fit I quickly made a hole in each bin using my cordless drill and all that was left was whipping up these super easy ID tags.

For the tags, I used my stash of manilla paper tags and went to town with my stamp kit. To be extra thorough I stamped the label on both sides of the tag so I can read it no matter how the string feels like twisting that day. It's as simple as that! As a bonus, if I decide to shake things up and change out what goes in the bins, I can always make a new tag in a matter of minutes.

My favorite bin is my trash can, cleverly disguised as a storage bin. Do you know what I hate? Having to carry the dryer lint to the kitchen trash can. Some little fluff of lint always breaks free to join its dust bunny brethren* on the floor. This way I just pop the lint in the trash bin and empty it once a month or so.

In other laundry news, remember this post where I repurposed a shoe caddy? Well that laundry organizer is back in action, but instead of hanging on the door it hangs from the peg board. I use it to store dryer sheets, lingerie bags, clothespins and other small laundry items that might otherwise get lost in the big bins.

So what about you guys? Any great (or small) feats of organization going on at your place?

*Yes, I admit I have a few dust bunnies. Even with regular sweeping and vacuuming dust bunnies are bound to happen with 2 full-time indoor cats.

Hooray for Pink and Gray!

Oh, wow! Not much could make me happier right now! One of my button rings has been included in an Etsy Treasury!* Thanks so much to mysticwynd for including it!

*The Treasury will expire Feb 4 at 10:15 am, so check it out while you can!

The Perfect Snow Day Treat

Most of NC got some amount of snow over the weekend and we got around 4 inches at our house. I didn't take any snow pictures of our yard because the hubby walked through the yard before I could break out the camera.

After Saturday's breakfast the hubby and I took a walk around the neighborhood to get some fresh air and exercise. When we got back I made homemade hot chocolate to enjoy in front of the fire.

I used a recipe I found at online at Cooks. This is super quick and easy. I had to plan ahead for the milk, but most everything else I keep stocked in the pantry. Since it was just the 2 of us, I halved the recipe but there was still plenty for seconds!

8 C milk
3 C water
1/2 C cocoa powder
1 C sugar
1 t vanilla extract

-Combine water and dry ingredients; bring to a slow boil.
-Add milk and stir until steaming.
-Add vanilla just before serving. Serves 10-12.

I served mine with mini-mallows and crumbled bits of semi-sweet chocolate. Enjoy!
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