Friday, May 28, 2010

Blogoversary: Southern Tide Giveaway

Happy Friday y'all. Guess what today is? MPLT's first blogoversary. It's hard to believe that I've been blogging for a full year! After previous attempts at blogging, it feels like I've finally hit my rhythm... so thank you all so much for sticking by me for a full year. I'm so thankful for all of you.


Now - time for the good stuff: Have you heard of Southern Tide yet? I loooove Southern Tide. I love it for myself - but I love it most for my man! Chad has a few Southern Tide shirts (polos, tees and button-downs) - and l.o.v.e.s. them. They hold their color and shape so much better than other polo shirts he owns. And I love the material - it is super soft.

Here's the Southern Tide story:

The idea for Southern Tide was born not on the coast of South Carolina where founder, Allen Stephenson spent his summers, but on a trip to Italy where inspiration was at every turn. From historical architecture and couture clothing to high-performance sports cars, he noticed common threads - exceptional craftsmanship, clean lines, fine quality, and classic design. These elements combined with Allen's heritage became Southern Tide.

Our first product, the Skipjack Polo set a new standard in comfort and fit. We engineered the yarn, fabric, fit, and finish to create a modern version of this classic shirt. Since then, Southern Tide has evolved into an entire collection built on the same high standards as the Skipjack Polo. From our original woven sport shirts, to Channel Marker Khakis with navigational colored button thread, we are meticulous when it comes to detail and quality.

Our way may not be the most conventional, and may take a little longer, but we want our clothing to make you look and feel your best. Superior fit, classic design and comfort are key elements of our effortless style.

So for today's giveaway - I'm giving away one size large men's Southern Tide Skipjack polo (valued at $69.50) in the Tidewater color.


This shirt would be a great gift for the man in your life. And remember, Father's Day is right around the corner! It would make a fabulous gift!

Here's how you enter:
1) Leave a comment on this blog saying your favorite thing about the beach! (One comment per person, please!)

2) If you're a follower of MPLT, your entry counts twice! So follow, follow, follow if you aren't already.
3) If you tweet, post on Facebook or post on your own blog about this giveaway, your entry counts TRIPLE. Honor's system - just let me know if you've done one of these things in your comment!
4) Winner will be randomly selected and announced next Friday, June 4th.
5) Contest open to U.S. residents only.

Good luck! I hope some of you are getting to spend some time in the Southern tide this Memorial Day Weekend!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Cute

So I was going through some old pictures the other day and found two really cute pictures of two really cute people.

My ma and daddy. Aren't they precious?

They were high school sweethearts. I loved looking at their high school yearbooks when I was younger... seeing what they wrote in each others books. Checking out their pictures - sports pics for my dad, student government pics for my mom. Laughed at their senior superlatives:

My Dad: Biggest Flirt. My dad first met my mom when she a sophomore, and was he a junior. And of course he thought she was super cute. Problem? She had an older boyfriend at the time... a senior. How did my dad handle it? He went up to said boyfriend and told him "This time next year I'll be dating your girlfriend." Haha, I'm sure the boyfriend looooved hearing that. But sure enough, the following year, it happened. And my dad's pick-up line? Asking my mom (who was outside for gym class) if she needed him to put suntan lotion on her shoulders. Play on playa.

My Mom: Most Popular. And if you know my mom, you no doubt know she wasn't the "popular because I'm snooty" type - but popular because she probably was the nicest person in that whole school. You don't get nicer and sweeter than my mom.

I bet as young teens they didn't think 35+ years ago here they'd be... five children, 3 children-in-law, lots of laughs, cries, stories and memories later. But I'm so thankful they are.

I think I'll keep 'em.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Shame

We've been in our house for nearly two months...

and I have NO window treatments. Nada one. No blinds. No drapes. No shades. Not in the bedroom. Bathroom. Living room. Nothing.

I'm so embarrassed.

When we first moved in, I was all gung-ho to get things going and set up. And set up we did... everything except one guest bedroom and window treatments... which I haven't touched. Well this weekend - being a long weekend and all - I'm going to get some stuff DONE.

I've been putting off doing window treatments in our bedroom because I know I want to buy new bed linens (and I can't choose drapes until bed linens are selected.) So hopefully I'll get time to shop for that this weekend. Then, I'm just going to measure the bathrooms, bonus room and guest bedrooms for wood blinds... and go ahead and get those ordered. I really wanted to do plantation shutters... but I couldn't justify $500/per window at this time. Or any other time really
(especially when our house has like 25 floor to ceiling windows.) And while I love plantation shutters... does anyone every stop and go "Ooooooh - I LOVE the shutters you chose for your house!" No. They don't. Now custom fabric treatments... they could get some attention. So I'll save my $$$ for that in the living room... where they'll get the most action.

But, alas, the dining and living room are going to have to wait - as I really want to have someone make custom treatments for those... and right now, time and money are not on my side.

But as long as the bathroom and bedroom windows are covered... I'll feel much better.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

This morning

(before 8 a.m.)

... I accidentally poured fresh coffee grounds into my coffee maker's water filter.

...I stepped on a shard of glass and sliced my foot.

... I had to slam on the breaks to avoid running a red light, thus spilling the contents of my purse across the floor of my car.

...I spilled aforementioned coffee all over myself and car.

And I still smiled my way through the day. Why? I choose happy.

Lost Finale

So a few months back I commented how I was just ready for Lost to end already. They had dragged it out so much - and I thought I was bound to be disappointed by the finale.

I'm pleased to say - I was so wrong.

Of course the finale didn't answer many of the questions the past 6 seasons have posed... but I think it if did, it would have felt too forced. We would have just heard answer after answer after answer.

What the finale did an outstanding job of doing is getting you emotionally connected to the characters again so that all you cared about was the very satisfying way they brought them all back together at the end. The reason the show had such a cult-like following was because of the intrigue and mystery. If the finale answered every question, what people loved most about the show would have been stripped from it. So in the end, yes you are still left with questions, but you are satisfied with the non-answers.

And from the opening of the very first episode - of Jack opening his eyes - to the end of the very last - Jack closing his eyes... just amazing.

Bravo I say. I don't think they could have possibly ended it better.

PS: And a small cheer that Jack and Kate ended up together in the end... it was my hope all along.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Exciting Giveaway

I have a new - and very exciting - giveaway coming up later in the week. The best part - this one is for the gentleman! I'm thankful for my man readers... so this is my way of showing appreciation to them for dealing with me while I write about Grey's Anatomy, and babies, and other random girly-things (ex. here, here and here). So I encourage you to pass my blog along to the men in your life.

(Or you can just enter my giveaway on behalf of your husband, brother, father or friend. Trust me -you'll want to win this one!)

Stay tuned...

Friday, May 21, 2010

Holy Grey's Finale!

***SEMI-SPOILER ALERT*** Don't continue reading if you don't want to know a bit of what happened on last night's season finale of Grey's Anatomy...


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Why the heck did that shooter run around in that hospital for the whole 2-hour episode?!?!? Really? And when he was with Lexie about to shoot her and a SWAT team guy shot him and Lexie got away, WHY oh WHY did he not get captured then?! Yet he still managed to terrorize the hospital for another hour. Ugh. So irritating. I know it's not real - but that whole part was so far fetched that it *almost* ruined the whole episode for me.

But other than that... man, what a crazy episode! I can't believe so many major characters were shot last night. Grey's Anatomy had fallen in my book to Private Practice... but it's climbing back up there.

Still - Dexter, Top Chef, So You Think You Can Dance and Modern Family still reign supreme in my book. ;)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Flat Zana!

So our sweet little cousin Zana (who was the flowergirl in our wedding) recently had a neat school project that involved us! In her class, they read a book about a boy who flattened himself so he could go to places all over the world. The class mimicked this idea and made flat versions of themselves to send to a friend or family member for a month!

(Here is Chad with all his favorite little girls. The not-flat Zana sitting in the middle.)


Well Flat Zana was sent to my in-laws... and we've been doing everything we can to keep Flat Zana busy.

My father-in-law, who is one of the greatest men in the whole world, has had a field day with Flat Zana. He's taken her to work...


...and all sorts of places! Since he is an electrical engineer that often has to travel to plants, he took Flat Zana along with him. In a separate picture (that I can't find), he actually made Flat Zana a special hard hat, and took a picture of hearing wearing it and a pair of ear plugs (since those plants get noisy!). And here FZ is visiting another plant:


(and here is the message that goes along with it):

Zana,
Flat Zana went with me today on a field trip to Riegelwood, NC (see picture attached). There is a mill there that makes paper out of trees. I think she liked the long ride but did not care for the smell at the mill. The cooking wood does smell really bad but she seemed to get use to it before we left. Big log trucks were taking lots of trees into the mill while trains were taking the finished paper out. The paper will be used by school students and teachers all over the USA. Flat Zana really seems to like things made with paper. Some people worry about all those trees being cut down but they forget that more little trees are constantly being planted to replace them.

Yesterday, Flat Zana and I went to a place that makes salted peanuts like you eat at football games. They gave us some peanuts but they had not been cooked or salted. I gave her some to try but I do not think she liked them without salt. We did not get a picture there but if we go again maybe we can get a picture then.

Take care,
Uncle Larry

So since Chad and I went to Charleston this weekend, we took Flat Zana with us! Here are a few pictures of Flat Zana having dinner at Fleet Landing with us!


And here was our message to Zana about Flat Zana's travels:

Zana,

We took Flat Zana with us this weekend for a trip to Charleston, South Carolina! We had so much fun with her. She loved the car ride down - we stopped and had lunch at Zaxsby's and Zana ordered the chicken fingers with extra dipping sauce! The weather was beautiful when we got to South Carolina, so we took Flat Zana off for a fancy dinner at Fleet Landing - which is a converted naval building. We ate right on the water. We took some pictures at dinner. Chad and Flat Zana looked at the menu for awhile. Chad got tuna and I got mussels (which Flat Zana tried, but wasn't too crazy about). So Flat Zana decided to skip right over dinner to dessert - she got a big ice cream sundae. Flat Zana and I also took pictures by the water! She loved the cool breeze on her face.

We also spent some time with Flat Zana by the pool at our hotel - and we always let her press the buttons in the elevator. On Sunday we took Flat Zana to a wedding - and she has a brochure of the historic mansion we went to to share with you when she gets home to Clinton. Flat Zana misses you a lot, but we were so glad to spend some time with her... it made us miss you even more!

We love you so much!
Chad & Carrie

So we've had fun with Flat Zana - but even more - I have enjoyed watching my father-in-law get into this project. That man is going to be one awesome grandfather!

How timely...

After posting about my true love of grits on Friday's blog, I find this little gem in today's News & Observer:

The hunt for true grits.


Amen? Amen.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Cilantro love

So the greatest thing happened the other night at Bible Study. My sista Whitney walked into the room with her hands behind her back. Then she trusted a big bag towards me saying, "Kyle (her husband) read your blog the other day and saw your post on cilantro... so he packaged this up for you."

Fresh cilantro from their garden.

Gardened with love. For me. Well actually for them, but whatever - to be shared with me.

How wonderfully awesome is he?!?!


I stored it using my new foul-proof system (here) - and tonight I'm going to bust it out as I make turkey tacos for dinner. And would you believe me if I told you that I put cilantro into three separate components of my tacos? You should. I use it in the black beans while their cooking, I put it in the guacamole, and then I use it as a garnish (in place of lettuce).

Three cheers for Kyle for spreading the cilantro love.


PS: I've realized I've blogged about cilantro enough that it could literally be it's own tag for my post. I might just make it one.

Blog o Pics

So I have some pics to update you with!

I made the White Pizza last week, as promised. It was incredible. I served it with o
ur favorite asparagus, and it was quite the delicious meal.


Our garden has gotten so much bigger since last time. Check it out now!


Say hi to those pretty little radishes popping up! Super excited about those. (Oh yeah, and hi to Chad's Blackberry. Who needs to keep their phone out while gardening?!)


And check out our beautiful plants that are growing - some hydrangeas and mini gardenia:



Here is Chad's new black snake friend that lives in a tree in our backyard. He took like 90509345 pictures of it. He's hard to spot but you can catch his little eye in the middle of the picture and find him from there.

And - of course- some pictures from this weekend's wedding in beautiful Charleston, SC!

A group of my girlfriends from college with the beautiful bride, Sarah.
And me and my bestie Kel, with our men.

Friday, May 14, 2010

A Southern Staple

I am a huge- HUGE- fan of grits. I could (and sometimes do) eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

First thing to know about cooking grits: Please only buy Old Fashioned Grits... not instant grits or quick grits. They aren't nearly as creamy and good. Making Old Fashioned Grits only takes about 15
minutes, so it's not like the instant kind is saving you that much time.

My old-standard variation of grits (perfect for breakfast):
Grits

Butter
Sharp Cheddar (white or reg)
A couple slices of Kraft Singles (don't hate... the processed cheese helps it get much creamier)
Salt
Pepper

Garlic Salt

Follow the directions on the box of grits. When it's close to being done, add the butter and cheeses. Then season to taste. The worst thing you can do to grits is leave them undersalted.

I think what I like most about grits is the ability to customize them. Sometimes, when I'm feeling so inclined, I replace a bit of the water with milk, cream or half and half - or some combination of the above - to make even creamier grits. Or, if you're serving grits for dinner (as like a side accompaniment to meat), I substitute water with chicken stock. Just makes it a bit richer.

And while I love grits as a side dish, they can also steal the show. Shrimp in grits is one of my favorite meals to eat. Such a favorite, in fact, that they were even served at our wedding. I've gone to many a wedding with so-so shrimp and grits, so I made sure to test them at the country club before they were put on the m
enu. And they were fabulous.

But the great thing about shrimp & grits is every version is different. Here are two of my favorite versions.

The Point (restaurant in Raleigh) Shrimp & Grits <--- served with a Tabasco butter sauce. This recipe looks similar (except please don't use quick grits).



Crook's Corner (legendary restaurant in Chapel Hill) <--- Chad's favorite version. It's lemony, which is different from any other version I've had and amazingly delish. Recipe here.

Lucky for me, I'm heading to the holy grail of shrimp and grits this weekend - Charleston, South Carolina...one of my favorite places on earth. We're going for a dear friends wedding on Sunday, but make no mistake - shrimp and grits will be consumed more than once!Saturday night we're having dinner at one of Chad's favorite places - Fleet Landing - which boasts itself as the only restaurant downtown with a waterfront view. Last time we spent 5 days in Charleston, I'm pretty sure Chad ordered She Crab soup at ever place we visited - lunch and dinner. Fleet Landing's blew the rest of the competition away. However, he has yet to try it at 82 Queen or Poogan's Porch - so I'm hoping to drag him to one of those places for lunch on Sunday... except it will be hard to pull him away from Jestine's!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Pizza pie

Sorry I've been slow to blog this week. I've been super busy at work - and it's not slowing down anytime soon!

We had a great weekend. My dear friend Amy - of LFBP - got married on Saturday. She was an absolutely gorgeous bride. The fact that we could see her smiling with her back toward us from the alter should give you an idea of the happiness that was her and Ray's wedding day. They both looked so happy, in love and relaxed - which is exactly what your wedding day should be. I'm glad we got to be there for it!

On Sunday, for Mother's Day, my siblings and I decided to do homemade pizzas for dinner. I bought all the dough from Trader Joe's (it really is the best), and we all brought different toppings.

Brad's pie was with tomato, ricotta, mozzarella, basil and prosciutto on an garlic olive oil base.

Mike's pie was sauteed prosciutto, buffalo mozzarella, sundried tomato, artichokes and arugula.

My pie was also a garlic olive oil base with zucchini, kalamata olives, tomatoes, roasted garlic, spinach, feta, sharp white cheddar and parmasean.

All three were yummy, yummy, yummy. Homemade pizza is so easy to make - and can be really cheap depending on your toppings. We bought all the veggies for my pie at the local Farmer's market.

So I'm continuing my pizza making and trying Serious Eat's White Pizza on Thursday night. I looooove white pizza - it is normally what I order when out at a pizza-by-the-slice place. I never real
ized white pizza had a sauce - I just figured it was an olive oil base. But this recipe calls for a sauce of oil, cream, garlic, onion and thyme. I'm super excited to give it a try. Will post pics and reviews later.


{{pic via @seriouseats}}

Friday, May 7, 2010

Handy Husband

So I'll start out by saying I'm a darn lucky woman.

Chad's current work schedule allows him to take every other Friday off - and every Friday off during the summer. I get jealous even thinking about it. I hate having to drag my butt up to work on Friday mornings with Chad getting to spend the day at home - nevermind that it's not like he sleeps in much later, and usually spends the whole day doing errands, cleaning, etc. Yes ladies, my husband does errands and cleans. Like I said, I'm lucky.

Well this morning, I get up and get in the shower... and Chad gets up and goes into the kitchen to make me coffee and a hot breakfast. Not only that, as I'm leaving, he's bringing a load of laundry to the laundry room - and is getting ready to clean the bathrooms. Lucky, right? Sometimes I need to pinch myself!

But anyway, this post didn't start out to be about how great Chad is - it was intended to be something else.

About this, in fact:

A couple years ago a commercial came on and I see this cartoon character that looks EXACTLY like Chad (if he were to be cartoonized).
Come to find out his name is Handy Manny. Do any of you know Handy Manny? You know, the one with the talking tools?

I swear he looks just like Chad. They even make the same expressions...

This is Chad with our "niece" Annie. She was like eight weeks old in this picture. Next month she turns 1. Where does time go!?"



This is Handy Manny:
So Handy Manny is now one of Chad's nicknames. And when I saw our little cousins over Christmas, I asked them if they knew who Handy Manny was... and if they thought he looked like anyone... eh hem, Chad... in particular. Of course they burst into giggles and spend the rest of the day running up to Chad taunting "Handy Manny, Handy Manny, Handy Manny..." Yep, he loved me for that one. ;)

So anyway, my little Handy Manny is about to start building us a kitchen table. I've been wanting a farmhouse style table with a bench for some time now. Luckily, our friends informed Chad about knock-offwood.com - a site where this woman goes to different furniture stores and deconstructs the plans to build them you
rself.

So we're going to build this Farmhouse Salvaged Wood Table like this o
ne at Restoration Hardware - which of course retails for $2,725...for just the table:



Though we'll probably do what the knock-off wood lady did and stain ours a darker color - like this:


This will be quite an undertaking - but it will be a fun project to do together!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Holy Guacamole!

In celebration of Cinco de Mayo, it's only fair that I share with the masses my guacamole recipe. I know some of you are fussy about wanting measurements, so I'll try to oblige. But seriously, just eyeball it. Like I always say, cooking isn't brain surgery people. And in this case - it's not really cooking either. It's just preparing.

So without further adieu...

MPLT's Pretty Little Guacamole


Ingredients:

- 3 Hass avocadoes, sliced and cut into medium sized chunks
- 1/4 cup finely diced red onion
- 1/2 cup small diced roma tomatoes
- Juice of 1 juicy lime. There is nothing worse that squeezing a lime and getting like 2 drops of juice. Just me?
- Zest of 1/2 the lime
- 1 jalepeno, seeded and diced. I usually leave a few seeds in. I'm wild.
- If I have it, sometimes I'll pour just a teeny tiny bit of salsa verde in there. Like 1/4 cup maybe. I love tomatillos!
- Small drizzle of olive oil
- Big handful (like half the bunch) of chopped cilantro - there is no such thing as good cilantro-less guacamole.
*Sidenote: I learned recently that there is a genetic aversion some people have to cilantro. To them cilantro tastes like soap. I thought this was crazy until I mentioned it to a girlfriend on Friday (who said she doesn't like cilantro) - and she said "Oh my gosh! Exactly right. It does taste like soap." Us normal cilantro lovers can't even imagine how it could possibly taste like soap - but its a genetics thing. Crazy right? I thank God He blessed me with the "I heart cilantro" gene. I put it in everything.

Directions:

1. Smoosh (yes that's a technical term) all ingredients together and then do a happy dance.

Important things of note:

1. Fresh guacamole does not taste anything like what you get at cheapy Mexican restaurants. It's a billion times better and more flavorful.

2. Right when you cut your avocado up, squeeze fresh lime juice over it. The acid will keep it from turning your avocado brown - which is not so yummy.

3. I learned this neat trick the other day and it actually works! Do you know how when you buy cilantro from the g-store, and stick in the fridge in your little plastic bag, how it gets all slimy and gross within a day? Well next time you buy it, trim the stem by like 1/2 inch, and put it in a cup that has about an inch of water in it. Then cover it loosely with plastic wrap - 1 put a ziploc bag over mine. No joke - my cilantro lasted for more than a week. That little tip right there is reason enough to tell 5 of your nearest and dearest to check out my blog. You're welcome.

4. Never, repeat, NEVER buy "guacamole" from the grocery store. Ew. Gross.

5. And if you're going crazy and making delish homemade guac, feel free to make your own tortilla chips! Cut up some corn tortillas into wedges and fry them on the stovetop in a pan of veggie oil. Lay on papertowels to drain.

Ole!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Kevinsgiving

So my sweetest little baby brother turns 21 today. Kev is my buddy. I love that kid a bunch. Maybe too much.

Chad tells me that I worry too much about Kevin. I tell him, "I can't help it, he'
s my baby!" To which Chad responds: "Um, negative ghost rider. He's your mom's baby." But whatever. He's my baby brother. The youngest of the 3 boys in my family. Though he's got a good 4 inches on all the rest of 'em.

You big sisters know what I'm talking. There is a special bond you have with your youngest brother.

Kev and I are also the most outspoken of the siblings - so we get into quite often.

But he knows that I love him dearly, and I know the same.

Kevin loves to celebrate his birthday though - and for the past 6 months, has talked about "Kevinsgiving" - which is his birthday celebration. There is a lot to celebrate about Kev.

He's smart. Doing great in school. Has a sweet girlfriend. Is hilarious and fun.

And he has great hair.

His senior prom - hair a little on the longish side:


Holy hair! I'm hoping (for his sake) there was a shadow involved:


Trimmed down, a little more presentable:

Gah he's tall:

Looking more grown up:


And so handsome:

So happy birthday, buddy! You ARE the favorite.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Brie + Onion + Flatbread = Goodness

So for Sunday supper, I decided to go ahead and make Cookin' Cannuck's Brie Cheese & Caramelized Onion Whole Wheat Flatbread.

It changed my life.


Here's the first one:


Round two looked even better:


And my messy, messy kitchen - just as I like it! (And say "hi" to MPLT's pretty little Mama... that woman knows her way around a kitchen!)

So a few things of note:

1) I need to learn to read through the whole recipe before I begin cooking. I always skim it, and then just get started. Not always the best idea. I assumed this flatbread would only take about 30 mins from start to finish. Not true. I think I spent 45 minutes simply sauteeing the onion. Oh, but was it worth it.

2) I cheated and instead of making my own whole wheat dough - c'mon guys, I was busy this weekend - I bought a couple packages of Trader Joe's whole wheat pizza dough (the fresh kind they sell in little bags near the veggie section.) It was delish.

3) Since the onions themselves get pretty sweet, I was a little more liberal in the use of kosher salt. I made sure to spread the olive oil over the rolled out dough to the edges, and added a little extra salt on the "crust" part of the flatbread. Sweet and salty is the best combo.

4) For next time: I didn't have any cornmeal in my kitchen, so I was forced to do without - but next time I make this (and there will be a next time) - I'm going to add some cornmeal to the top of my pizza stone before putting on the dough. I think that little added crunch to the bottom of the flatbread would have made it even better!

But all in all, it was a crowd pleaser. The words: "Best pizza I've ever had" came out of more than one mouth. I'll take it.