Monday, March 28, 2011

Bellingrath Gardens

We could not have been near Bellingrath Gardens at a better time. Right now, azaleas are beautiful! The peak of azalea blooms started Saturday and we were there Sunday.

The flowers just kept going and going... not to mention all the pretty fountains and the Bellingrath home (he was one of the first bottlers for Coca-Cola).

Which was right on the Fowl River. Such pretty views. The cool thing was all the different sections with different ecological systems. Rose garden, Asian garden, Fowl River front, bayou/march area...

We even saw a snake in the bayou. Eeeps!

I have to say, it was the perfect way to end the trip.

I love seeing all these pictures, it was such a fun trip. I can't wait for the next one!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Beach Party!

No such luck on the island job front, I'm back at home and ready to get back to the real world tomorrow! I've got so many photos and stories to tell you about, I don't even know where to begin. So, I made some photo collages to help you out.

There was beautiful scenery...

We ate great food...

And had a great time.

Getting to Dauphin Island was exciting in itself and interesting at the same time. Did you know that almost every business on the island closes by 2 p.m.? Yep, it took us quite a few tries to find a restaurant that was actually open when we finally looked for lunch at 3 p.m.

Some of that can be blamed on the fact that there was a big gumbo cookoff event this weekend. Guess who was the celebrity judge? Alton Brown. I know, I swooned (he's always been my fave). Too bad I didn't get to see him. But, I have a funny story about trying to get a hold of a little piece of Alton.

See, as we checked in, we saw these great posters for the event. We asked if they had any extra posters or would be kind enough to give us one of their posters (because by Monday it'd be in the trash anyway, right?). No dice. The next day, we went to the Welcome Center surely hoping that they would have posters to give away, because that is where tickets were sold anyway. No dice. She wouldn't give me one despite having them up in the door and on a bulletin board. The poster quest sort of got comical at this point. While my mom and sister ran into the post office to see if they had a poster, I spotted one pinned the community bulletin board near the street (a large wooden bulletin board with two plexi-glass doors to protect the signs). Knowing that they would be taking the sign down and putting it in the trash the next day, I had to have it. 

Yes, I slid open the door, got the poster, and ran back to the car with it. It was the happiest day of my life.

Moving on... I had never been on the island before, and I was surprised at all the history around the grounds. 
Ship and Shore General Store, Grove Park (gorgeous Oak trees), Fort Gaines, Estuarium at the Sea Lab, Indian Shell Mound Park, Sand Island.

I've got so much more to tell you guys about, including a fun stop on the way home!

Saturday, March 26, 2011


Currently, I'm trying to figure out how I can get a job in the tourism industry on Dauphin Island. I'm sure they need a writer/website/social media person, right? Because, this is gorgeous and I never want to leave.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, March 25, 2011

Free Samples: Target Beauty

Thank God, it's Friday. I'm even more excited because I'm taking a little weekend trip with the family. So glad to take a vacation! Last time I had a dedicated vacation was last July. Eeeps.

This box came just in time: a box of beauty samples from Target.

Love the makeup bag...

Neutrogena Lip Balm, Pantene Shampoo, Nivea lotion, other shampoo and conditioner, plus a booklet of coupons. I love these samples because they take 6-8 weeks, so by the time they arrive, I've forgotten about them.

Happy weekend!

Thursday, March 24, 2011


It's Thursday, which is almost Friday. I don't have any recipes or stories for you, so thought I'd do something different and leave with this list instead. (Taken from Allie) Enjoy!

A. Age: 22
B. Bed size: Full, but I only really sleep on one side of the bed.
C. Chore you hate: Is it weird that I kind of like chores? I don't like cleaning the litter box.
D. Dogs: Well, I don't have any at my house, but my parents have dogs that I consider mine. Spike, most of all.
E. Essential start to your day: Making my bed when I wake up. It must happen or I think about it all day.
F. Favorite color: Green
G. Gold or Silver: Silver
H. Height: 5'0". Yep, I'm short.
I. Instruments you play: Does my nose count? Better yet, don't ask.
J. Job title: Marketing Coordinator
K. Kids: None. I'm a SINK (Single Income No Kids). Yes, I completely made that up.
L. Live: Jackson, MS
M. Mom’s name: Amy
N. Nicknames: I know I'm going to forget some, but Soph, Sophster, Moosky (this one was brought on by a supposed moo moo I wore on our senior trip to the beach)
O. Overnight hospital stays: I'm pretty hospital free. When I was 2, I was dehydrated and was hospitalized, but I don't remember it.
P. Pet peeve: Leaving your dirty dishes in the sink and being late.
Q. Quote from a movie: I'm horrible at this. I love movies, but I don't have a good quote.
R. Right or left handed: Right handed.
S. Siblings: Ivy and Mary Grace.
T. Time you wake up: 6:45 on the weekends and... 6:47 on the weekends (you think I'm kidding).
U. Underwear: As opposed to the alternative?
V. Vegetables you dislike: I can't think of one that I don't like. I used to have an aversion to tomatoes.
W. What makes you run late: It'd have to be something big, because I am rarely ever late to anything.
X. X-Rays you’ve had: Just dental X-rays
Y. Yummy food you make: I'll let you decide. Check out the Recipe page.
Z. Zoo–favorite animal: Baby Tapir (see the post here)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Turkish Delight

There is nothing more comforting that a plate of homemade Turkish food (and you've already seen). I can't explain it. Maybe it's because I know the women worked for days to make the food or all the carbs being eaten at once, but I love going to the Raindrop Turkish House more than anything you could find in a restaurant (for clarification, the RTH is a gathering place for the Institute of Interfaith Dialog, not a restaurant). 
While I can't tell you what I ate because I'm still trying to figure it out myself, I'll try to explain each dish a little bit. Bean salad (Piyaz), potato pastry, spinach and sweet potato pastry (Borek), stuffed grape leaves (sarma or dolmas), pea and potato, spicy meatballs over white rice, and a bulgur patty (I think it may be a form of Mercimekli Bulgur Kofte). There was no Turkish baklava (my favorite), but an amazing domed pastry that was much like a dense, cake-like baklava.

Waking up this morning, I feel like I've had the best food hangover of my life. I'm wondering if the ladies have any Borek left over in the kitchen, because I'd be happy to take some off their hands.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Keifer's, Part Deux

I know I had a different experience with Keifer's last time, but last night's dinner shows me just how different two locations can be. Even more so, that the original is the original for a reason. 

To top it off, it was the perfect evening to chill out on the patio. Maybe I was punch drunk with the weather, but the patio is one of the reasons I'm drawn to Keifer's. I could take or leave the inside (a little loud and the major smells from the kitchen), but the patio is where it's at.

So after letting the Twitterverse know where I was, Eat Jackson asked, "What are you getting?"

This is always hard and not so hard at the same time. While I've always wanted to try the falafel (even though Aladdin's is the best I've ever had), the pita mozz, and maybe one day, even the chicken gyro, but I always come back to the classic gyro. Oh, and cottage fries (of course).

So, I buckled. When it was time to order, I went with what I know best. And, really, the original Keifer's does it best and next time, I'll know better to stick with the original.

Keifer's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Bargain Tuesday

I know it's hard for some people to want to coupon, but for those who say there aren't any free coupons still out there, I'll be the first to tell you that there are! This weekend alone, I used two free product items and it's a lot easier than you think to get your hands on them if you do just a little bit of work.

That Coke coupon? From My Coke Rewards. Every time I get a 12 pk. or bottle of Coke, I enter the codes into the website. After a few weeks of codes, I had this coupon for 30 points. Easy!

That other coupon? From the Kraft First Taste program. Sign up is free!

I also go this great sign at The Outlet (the outlet for Kalalou/At West End) for $8!

I'm in love with it. I saved so much by going to the outlet store - $22 to be exact. I saw it in the catalog and knew I needed to see if I could score it.

For now, it's resting in out backyard next to another find of mine. My new patio bench I got from a listing on Craigslist. I had originally been wanting a bistro set, but the cheapest I found was $90. Not wanting to spend nearly that much money, I looked to Craigslist. Seeing this baby for $40, I immediately called and scooped it up.

There was a slat missing, but my parents were coincidentally about to throw away a bench of their own that was broken. My dad took one of the good slats off of the bench and we added it to this one. I was concerned because I knew a new slat would stand out. The slat was perfectly weathered and you couldn't even tell which one had been replaced.

Last, but not least, I found this beautiful, simple tart dish at Goodwill.

Good thing I only set me back $1. I can't wait to make some summer tomato tarts in this.

I'm telling you, money may be tight, but there are more bargains out there than ever before if you just take a little time to look!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Broccoli Slaw

This recipe and I go way back. It's so easy and tasty, I even made it in front of my speech class in college. True story. Our last assignment was to do a "how-to" of a recipe. I picked this recipe because it was easy, involved no cooking/baking, and my professor said he didn't like broccoli. It was my mission to get him to like broccoli.

When it suddenly turned summer on us this past weekend in the South, it was like I was teleported to barbecues,  summer parties, and family gatherings. Automatically, my brain went to broccoli slaw. 

Ok, I have to admit, when my mom and I went on our grocery excursion the other day, a bag of organic broccoli slaw was on manager's special for $.99. Add that with the two bags of Ramen noodles at $.20 a pop, we were sold.

First, add in bag of broccoli slaw and two green onions, chopped. While still in the bag, break up Ramen noodles into small pieces. Add noodles to the bowl, reserving the flavoring packets for the sauce. If you have them on hand (we did not), add in 1 cup of sliced almonds and 1 cup of unsalted sunflower seeds.

In another bowl, add in sugar, both packets of noodle flavoring, vinegar and oil.

Add sauce to dry mixture and stir. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes. See? How easy is that?

Broccoli Slaw
1 bag of broccoli slaw
2 packages of Beef Ramen noodles
1 cup of almonds
1 cup of sunflower seeds
2 green onions, chopped

For vinaigrette:
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 canola oil
1/2 white vinegar
2 packets from beef noodles

Combine onions, slaw, and nuts. Break up noodles in bag. Add noodles to dry mixture, reserving flavoring packets. In a small bowl add all wet ingredients, plus flavoring packets. Mix together and pour over dry mixture. Let sit for 30 minutes. 

I guarantee you'll like it. Why am I so confident? My professor loved it. So much so, he took home the recipe and two bowls of it - one for his wife and one for him.

Happy Monday, y'all.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Kroger - 3/20/11

Gotta love Mega Deals! My mom has also jumped on the coupon bandwagon with me and she's been doing great. We went yesterday for two trips (we forgot some items, of course, and wanted to do another Mega Deal order as well) and on her first trip, she saved 43% and the second trip she saved 60%. All in all, my mom spent $52, but saved $60! She was really excited. Here's how I did...

*(4) Red Gold Diced Tomatoes, (2) $.50/2 coupons (doubled, which made them all FREE plus $.04 overage)
Kroger Red Beans
Kroger Black Beans
Kroger Frozen Brocolli pkg.
Kroger Frozen Chopped Onions pkg.
Kroger Frozen Corn pkg.
*Lysol Toilet Bowl Cleaner
Kroger Ground Turkey
*Annie's Naturals Lite Raspberry Dressing
*(2) Temptations Cat Treats, $1/2 coupon
(2) Kraft Cheese Blocks (on sale B1G1), $1/2 coupon
Kroger Hot Pepper Cheese block (I'm completely obsessed)
3 Bananas
2 Sweet potatoes
Kroger Low Sodium Chili mix
*Dannon Yogurt
Iceberg Lettuce
*Philly Cooking Creme, FREE coupon + $.75/1 e-Coupon (I made $.75)
Sara Lee buns, $.55/1 coupon (doubled to $1.10)
Green Onions
2 Honeycrisp Apples
Diet Coke Zero, 20 oz. bottle, FREE coupon

*Mega Deal: Buy 10 items, get $5 off your order

Total Value: $55.63
Total Spent: $26.77
Total Saved: $28.86 (54%)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Good to be Green

So what did I choose to paint? The blue lamp from my living room.

I have loved this lamp for the three years I've had it (including my early posts in my dorm room days). My talented cousin Ashley made the first of these lamps as a senior design project for one of her interior design classes.When we went up to her design open house at MSU, I told her I had to have one. Her lamp was definitely the best one in the class. Of course, she accepted and made me one (and yes, I did pay her!). I've never seen anything like it before or after it and I always get so many comments on it.

Thing is, I still love this lamp with all my heart, but I've been growing out of my blue ways. While it definitely popped in any room I put it in, I thought about just switching the color to match my ever changing style (one of the reasons why this design is so great). When I saw the sample offer for Valspar, I knew it would be a perfect time to pick a color for the lamp and it'd be the perfect amount of paint. Not to mention, FREE.

So, when I got home from work and saw the package, I immediately got to work.

Out in the backyard, I laid the lamp on newspaper and got ready. Will you please notice my growing herb garden?

Chives, cilantro, rosemary, and basil
Thanks for that...

Getting ready... mini rollers provided and small brushes to get in the many, many crevices. 

Here's how it turned out:

I love it! This picture makes the lamp look a lot brighter than it actually is because we were outside and the paint hadn't dried yet. It made me fall in love with the lamp all over again.

What did I think of the Valspar paint? I'm biased because that's the brand I normally use for painting my room, etc., but I loved it. It took two coats to cover the bright blue, but I'm digging the color. (Again, they didn't pay me to say that) More than anything, I loved the little roller kit, which actually gave a smooth coat, something I was really worried about.

What are you waiting for? Get your own sample and paint something yourself!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Go Green

Happy St. Paddy's Day! Did you wear your green today? Today is was actually 80 degrees in the afternoon! With these warmer temperatures, I really wanted a smoothie for breakfast. Not just any smoothie, a green monster smoothie...

Banana, strawberries, apricot/mango yogurt

Add a splash of orange juice and a handful of spinach + half a pack of Truvia

I know this sounds horrible, but it's so good!!

Yummm! Green goodness.

When I got home from work, I had an exciting package waiting for me from Valspar. I was pretty excited about this one...

What was it? A sample kit with an 8 oz. tub of paint color of my choosing, plus a painting kit and $5 coupon off my next Valspar gallon purchase. They may have not known it would arrive on St. Patrick's Day, but I picked GREEN!

I can't wait to show you what I did with the paint, but it's drying as we speak, so check back tomorrow.

In the meantime, go sign up and get your own sample of any color paint of your choosing. This is definitely the fastest sample I've ever gotten (5-7 days).

Disclaimer: Valspar didn't pay me or bribe me with this kit to say any of this about them, I really just like their product!

Chicken Fried Rice

I love chicken fried rice at restaurants, but when it comes to actually making the dish at home, I've always been intimidated. It's one of those things that always seems better left to the professionals, you know?

With all the ingredients in hand, plus a zucchini about to go bad, I just had to make it. Not to mention I found a super easy recipe.

First, cook some chicken and start cooking rice in a pot. After finishing the chicken (I used my George Foreman), start sauteing onion in a pan. After a minute or two, add in extra veggies. Stir around until veggies are cooked through.

Measure out and add frozen peas to the veggie mix. Stir in and cook until peas have warmed through.

In a separate skillet, scramble one egg and set aside.

Add in egg, rice, and chicken. Stir all together and add in 3 tablespoon of your favorite Asian sauce (I used teriyaki) or soy sauce. Warm up and serve.

Chicken Fried Rice
3 chicken tenders
1 onion
1 1/2 cups of frozen peas
1 small zucchini
2 cups cooked rice
1 egg
3 tablespoons Asian sauce

Cook rice and chicken separately. In a small skillet, scramble egg, chop, and set aside. In a wok, saute one chopped onion until onion cooks clear. Add chopped zucchini and stir until cooked through. Add in frozen peas, cooking until peas are warm. Once rice is cooked, add in chopped chicken, egg, and rice. Add in 3 tablespoons of sauce and stir to combine. Serve.

Enjoy and Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Three's a Charm

Remember that story board I showed you last week? Remember those printed linen pillows from Etsy? Ok, this one may not be handmade, but I actually found one similar I liked at Stein Mart this weekend. How many bones did it set me back? $17. That means I saved about $13 over buying online!

Don't worry Etsy, I'll be back shopping shortly!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Asian Chicken Salad

Forget your run of the mill mayo-based chicken salad. This. stuff. is. good.

I first had this when my roommate's mom sent us a package of it when we moved in. From there, I was sold. My mom needed a recipe for her book club last week and I suggested this as a perfect dish. Everyone raved about it!

Chicken, poppy seeds, sliced almonds, water chestnuts, green onions
All mixed together
Asian Chicken Salad
6  cups cooked chicken breasts, chopped
8 oz. can sliced water chestnuts
3 chopped green onions
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1 tbsp. poppy seeds
Chow mein noodles to taste (do not add until ready to serve)

8 T Splenda
8 T apple cider vinegar
2 t. salt
1 t. pepper
2/3 cup of vegetable oil

Combine all dry ingredients except noodles. Make vinaigrette, mix and shake. Pour over chicken and stir. Chill. The longer you can let it sit, the better the flavors will mix (overnight is best). Top with chow mein noodles.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Shrimp and Goat Cheese Quesadillas

When I woke up yesterday morning from my Daylight Saving Time stupor, the last thing I wanted was breakfast. What I wanted were these quesadillas. It sounds odd for a morning meal, but I've been craving these for days now after seeing a version of them on Eat, Live, Run's blog. After making my trip to Kroger, I came back with bags full of the goodies for this recipe.

I bought a bag of cocktail shrimp with the tail on. I love these because not only are they inexpensive (at $5.99 a bag), they are peeled and cooked.

To thaw, grab a few and put in a colander. Run warm (not hot) water over them, until you can tell they have thawed, which should take less than a minute. They don't have to be thawed all the way just yet, but they don't need to be icy.

Let them sit while you compile the rest of the mix

On the halves of two whole wheat tortillas, sprinkle each with a tablespoon of goat cheese, 1/8 cup of shredded pepper jack cheese, and a little bit of chives (from your garden, of course). Remove the tails from the shrimp, blot off water with a paper towel and add four or five to each half.

Cook in a skillet until side is golden brown. Flip and heat other side until golden brown.

These were amazing!!

Perfect with a little salsa on the side. I may or may not have also made this for dinner with yellow rice on the side.

Shrimp and Goat Cheese Quesadillas
8-10 cocktail shrimp, thawed
1/4 cup pepper jack cheese
2 tablespoons of goat cheese
2 teaspoons of chopped fresh chives

Thaw shrimp in warm water. Set aside. Lay out whole wheat tortillas and sprinkle with both cheeses and chives. Blot shrimp with paper towel and spread evenly over cheese mixture. Fold over and heat in a pan until tortilla is golden. Flip and heat on other side until golden. Cut each tortilla into three pieces and serve.


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