Bow Chicken Bow Wow

While wandering around my favorite store (I'm seriously addicted to Whole Foods Market) the other day, i picked up the cutest, most perfect sized little whole roasting chicken.  Honestly, even though it was only about 3 pounds, I couldnt see how you'd need anything bigger, even for a family of 4.  I am always looking for stuff to have on hand thats great for last minute meals and knew from growing up that roasting a whole chicken is extremely economical and practical.  Plus, I was able to try out a new recipe, from my trusty yet extremely cheesily named First and Forever cookbook: "Roast Chicken with Vegetables for Two".  The best part of this recipes: its specifically for two people!

Please keep in mind, this was my FIRST ever attempt to roast a chicken completely by myself (with no help from friends or my mom), so I looked for a really, REALLY easy recipe.  This one from the Corpening sisters (who authored the cookbook) is about as easy as it gets.

The recipe involves a 3-4 lb roasting chicken, olive oil, salt & pepper, 4 cloves of garlic, 4 lemon wedges, 2 rosemary sprigs, 6 new potatoes, 3 carrots and 1 yellow onion.  I also added some Tony Chaceries Creole seasoning as a rub to spice things up a bit.  Heres my chicken in its pre-cooked state:
all nice and comfy with its chopped up carrots, onions and potatoes.  I had to take it out of the oven after 45 mins and baste both the chicken & veggies with the chicken juice.  I popped it back into the oven for 25 more mins to finish the job and then I pulled it out, moved it to a large platter and let it sit in its juices for 15 mins. Here it is JUST before Mr. Bama cut into it:

yes, the platter is a little big for it, but oh well.  The veggies were off on the side in the original baking pan being mixed in the chicken juices.

Heres the final presentation right before I dug in--

The final vedict:  best chicken I think I've had in a long time.  I was really surprised (and I'm still kind of shocked) that it turned out as well as it did on my first lone roasting attempt. So once again, my wedding gift cookbook has proven to be one of the trustiest gifts I've ever received - only letting me down once with a kind of funky looking/tasting torta i made this past weekend.  But this chicken is so incredibly easy and tasty - plus you'll have a bunch left over to add to pasta, salads or for sandwiches.   I could see it being spectacular with a nice buttery chardonnay or maybe a pinot grigio (I'm only guessing since I'm still not drinking alcohol -- yay lent!)


J'adore, Mon Amie

Please pardon my French.  Oh New Orleans -- you provide such amazing cultural experiences: great music, unique creole cuisine, humidity that rivals a sauna, a slow, easy pace of life.  You also provide something that isn't quite as easy to find --  gorgeous fashion and the best French food this side of the pond.  Mr Bama and I went to dinner with a couple he knows through work.  Since they live up in Jefferson Parish and are new to the area, they mentioned they would like to eat somewhere near us, in Uptown.  My task of hunting down an affordable, yet tasty and unique place began -- and quickly ended.  Enter one of New Orleans best kept secrets: 

La Crepe Nanou

photo court. of lacrepenanou.com

I orginally dined with Mr Bama and a few local friends there back in July when we were still engaged and RIGHT after I returned from my visit to Paris.  Is it bad that I thought their beef bourguignon crepes rivaled those of the little sidewalk crepe cafes that I dined at in France?  Their retro art nouveau decor is heaven to this little early 20th century architecture lover.  And their strawberry dessert crepe, Crepe Lucie, is easily one of my favorite desserts anywhere -- hands down.  Mr Bama talks about how much he loves their escargot -- I am still a little too much of a coward to try them, but even I can admit that sitting on their little plate swimming in butter and garlic they did look like they had the possibility of being very tasty.

I think though, what I was a tad bit more excited about for our dinner out was an opportunity to wear my newest purchase: an Audrey Mini Dress in the Mid-Century Print from Trashy Diva.

(photo court of Trashy Diva)

Trashy Diva is a NOLA based clothing company/store established in 1996 by designer Candince Gwinn.  All designs are inspired by retro patterns and then tweaked in one way or another to make it a tad bit more modern.  I like to think of their Stretch cotton line as the "Mad Men" clothing line for women (even though Candice was designing and selling her clothing WAYYY before the series even began), while their Rayon and silk dresses have a much more late 30's early 40s inspiration.  Its a gorgeous store, where wonderful people work and is really uniquely New Orleans.  The best part, if you cannot make it to NOLA to check it out, is that their line is carried at stores across the country AND you can even order online directly from the Uptown store. 

The best part about both of these NOLA treasures is that they are affordable -- a definite plus in this economy.  People in this day and age still have a taste that they aquired during the 90s but do not have the budget to match.  Both Trashy Diva and La Crepe Nanou are exceptional establishments where you can buy a gorgeous, well-made dress for a little over $100 or a dinner for two (minus alcohol) around $30.  THIS is how you survive the economy without feeling like you're denying yourself absolutely everything.


Happy Day O' Green

Happy St Paddy's Day! 

Here's a picture of Mr. Bama and I this past Saturday at the annual St Patricks Day parade on Magazine St.
(my skirt has green in it, I swear, it's just mixed w/ yellow)

A view of the line of floats all the way down Magazine Street from our balcony perch.

And the next day, even little Bear got in the Irish spirit, enjoying some quality time lounging in clover at Audubon Park

So may your day be filled with good spirit and a Green Beverage of your choice. 


Why I love working for myself

I feel like a proud mother sending her child off to college:  After a month of collaboration with a wonderful bride -to-be, my first invitation suite for a client is done and ready to be addressed and mailed!  So here we go:

I had to blur out the names of my clients, for obvious privacy reasons.  But you can still get the overall design cohesiveness

it is a 6.75 x 4.75 top layer mounted on a 7x5 peice of colbalt blue cardstock, giving the invite much more dimension and substance

The invite with its accompanied map.  all of the important info is blurred out again

tucked in all pretty in pink!

wrapped up with the one pound design signature Fleur de Lis

ready to be given to the bride to be! (what do you do when you have a ton of curling ribbon left from your own wedding?  use to spiffy up packaging)

the picture i did fail to take before shipping everything off was the invite & map stuffed in their envelopes. We had a classic stark white inner envelope, put into a green envelope that was the exact green used in the invitation design.  I would have loved to have been able to come up with a label design for the bride, but a budget is a budget and the bride often has an idea of her own -- that when the designer leaves it up to the DIY genius of her brides.  It was the one factor I LOVED about all of my wedding vendors - they encouraged DIY and something I will encourage with all of my clients!
one thing my bride did request was thank yous - and here they are, ready for the new couple's post-honeymoon T-Y writing campaign

 Phew!  I think I have an addiction to the "rush" that completing projects gives me.  I kind of cannot wait to see what these look like after mailing (the bride to be is also a friend of my husbands, so we'll be getting an invite as well). Now onto the next exciting project!


nine things that make me smile

No, this isn't a post about the "fake, fleeting, instant -gratification" type of feeling that some get from the accumulation of things that our society has been so obsessed with and calls "happiness."  Nope. This is about a few of the little things I've really been noticing lately that puts a little bounce in my step and makes my mood a little brighter (in no particular order).
1) creating something from scratch.  Theres something so amazing about failing a few times at making something (past examples for me: baking bread that doesn't rise, planting herbs that sprout and then proceed to die) and then finally succeeding.  This past week I've noticed my pretty little herb "patch" pushing out more and more happy sprouts every day and after weeks of trying, I finally baked a perfect loaf of bread from scratch (it's all in the yeast baby).  Success!!

(the herb "garden" when the first sprouts peeked out from the soil)

(The herb "garden" now - note: the marigold I planted as a seedling after the fact.  It's not a mutant that grows really fast or anything .)

(after 4 failed attempts, my home made bread has perfectly risen and baked.  And its tasty!)

2) a little wag of the tail.  You forget how much you actually looked forward to seeing that little greeting of unconditional love until it takes a temporary leave of absence.  We finally were able to visit our Bear-rito (my latest term of endearment for our little fur-covered piranha) this past weekend at retriever school.  He is HUGE and is such a ball of energy - I couldn't even snap a decent picture of him.  But just seeing his happy little tail wagging and his perky "too big for his head" ears reminded me of just how wonderful it is to be loved by a little furball.  He comes home tomorrow and we are really excited to have our buddy back.
(our handsome boy at 14 weeks the day we dropped him off at bootcamp - he's so much bigger now...)

3) The silly grin on my hubby's face.  Case in point: him grilling on our new grill.  LOVE

4) Sunny, 70 degree weather with a slight breeze.  It's heaven.  I think I need to take a mental snapshot of how lovely this time of the year is before it becomes painfully hot and humid in a few months.

5) The company of wonderful, easy-going and non-drama oriented friends.  For some people, you get to a point in your life when you're done with impressing other people and are just able to live your life the way that is right for you and your family.  The people that you find yourself most grateful to be associated with are those that accept you for who you are and truly enjoy your company.  There's no "Keeping up with the Jones's" or competiton for the biggest house or the nicest "stuff."  Its just about being together and loving each other's company.  That pool of friends becomes narrower as you get older, yet you find that those who remain are the most tried, true and loving.  There's so many stressful things to worry about in this crazy world to begin with that the older you get, the less you find yourself wanting to be around people who create additional drama, stress and competition - you want to be surrounded by people who love and accept.  Being able to sit down at a dinner table with wonderful, loving friends and talk about "nothing" and "everything" is truly a glorious thing.

6) The Spring Blooms - The Camellias and the Japanese Magnolias are out in full force in these parts and it really is breathtaking.
(photo court. of http://www.nola.com/)
7) that first morning cup of coffee.  Inexplicable (it's especially wonderful when your hubby brings it to you, unsolicited, while you're still in bed).  Note: if you haven't tried French Market Coffee, then you're missing out.

8) a clean house.  My mom always says "A messy bed equals a messy head."  I believe that mantra doesn't just apply to the bedroom, but to the entire house.  Its creates a sense of calm that I can't explain and just love. Its even more true when you work at home.  Kate from elefantitas alegres captured the honest side of the whole aspect of "home as your office" perfectly and how order is incredibly important to some of us for a stress-free environment.

9) our resident wildlife.  Yes, we live by the zoo, so when the wind blows and we have our windows open you can hear the giraffes, the howler monkeys, etc.  However, we also have some non-zoo residents as our next door neighbors.  In the palm tree next door live a whole family of little wild parakeets that just sing and chirp all day long.  It's especially adorable when they line up in pairs perched on the powerline infront of our house.

So I challenge you, with all of the sour, depressing news that we hear every day, try to find something super small and usually unnoticable to make you smile.  It's truly is worth it and makes all of your worries seem a tad bit more insignificant for a portion of your day


A "room" with an unwanted view

We have an awkward room situation in one of our rooms.  Our guest bathroom door has, well, windows. 

It's super bizarre and is a testament to the piecemeal renovation job that was done to this house 20-30 years ago.  But it's something that needed to addressed - expecially with the impending fact that someday soon we'd begin hosting parties and overnight guests.  Speding moolah on ugly curtains to cover the windows didn't really sound appealing or economical, so I started brainstorming (which is always scary).  I also happened across some of the pretty large-format calenders that I had horded since 2006 - knowing I could cut them out and then frame them for cheap art in the future (and is the source for our wall art in our kitchen, actually).  The random one in the pack was a stylized travel calendar featuring some deco-inspired travel posters.  Out of curiosity I measured a page and realized that each image was a little smaller than the size of the panes in our odd little door windows. 

So i set to work - using my "small project" paper cutter, some 11x17 cardstock for backing, some double sided tape and my out-of-date calender.

Slice slice, tape tape and then some heavy duty taping to the back of the door after that and voila!
Now our guests can, umm, take care of business in private and we also get a different take on "framed art" without paying a dime. 

(sidenote: notice in the picture above that there's also a lock on the door -- as in on the outside.  You know, just in case you ever want to lock someone INTO the bathroom.  Weirdness)

In what creative way have you fixed functional "issue" in your home?


on a side note...

things have been super hectic around here (trying to squeeze out a complete wedding invite suite, me *possibly* having a job, continuing the process of baking all of our bread, pasta, etc and fighting with my computer, among other things) So a long blog entry isn't in the cards for today.  However, I found a fun little site the other day for all of your retro/eclectic goodies:


(photo courtesy of decorativethings.com)

I found it while looking for the "keep calm and carry on posters," which I fell in love with while I visited the V&A museum in London this past summer, but then I couldnt find any affordable versions of the prints while back in the US.  This site doesn't just have them, but also has a vintage "How-To" book section, which is one of my not-so-secret collecting obsessions. 

So peruse and enjoy!

PS - we receieved our final wedding gift yesterday -

(photo from crateandbarrel.com)

Needless to say, Mr Bama is ecstatic.  Im thinking steaks tonight.....
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