Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Outdoor Dining Table-On the Hunt

Hi everyone!  We're in the final week of school over here!  I kind of feel like we are going on fumes dealing with allergies and asthma, but we're going to make it.  I recently refinished my lower level outdoor table, but discovered that the legs had rotted out.  So I've been browsing Target's outdoor and patio sale to see if I can find a replacement table.  Most of my outdoor furniture has come from the end of season clearance at either Walmart or Target.  I would really like to build one, but I don't know if I have the energy to do it right now.   Here are a few of the ready-to-assemble tables that I like:

This one by Smith and Hawken is 6ft long, and would match the eight folding chairs that I already have.  I would probably let them all weather to a gray tone. 

This next one is an almost identical table, but starts at 7ft and extends to nearly 10ft long.

One final table that caught my eye was this x-base table.

I kind of forget about this secondary dining space in my garden because the table doesn't seat as many as my large table, but it's perfect for when it's just me and my guys.  It's tucked in the upstairs corner of my garden and surrounded by trees and shrubs.  During the day, there's this bumble bee who thinks this is his zone, but at night it's a cozy spot.

I love, love, love my string lights in the garden, and they happen to also be on sale for 40% off today only at Target!  If you have been thinking about getting some today is the day.  I may have to go and get a box to have for backup.  I have about five packs that I've strung around my garden fence.  The fuse kept blowing, so I had to do some math to calculate the amps and volts that the outlet could handle, or something like that.  My husband is the electrical engineer so I was asking him to help me figure it out, but he was like "do the math".  I'm happy to say, I figured it out!  I had to strategically remove a few bulbs, but now they have been up and working for about a year now.   There's something about that gentle glow in the evening that makes a garden feel so romantic and warm.  

If you've got kiddos in school, push thru this final week, and then hopefully you'll get a little break over the weekend!

Some of the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.  But I like Target and would share a good deal either way!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Summer Grill Ready - A DIY Grill Kit

With this coming weekend being the last one before school lets out, I feel almost giddy with joy!  I probably shouldn't feel that way, since I'm not the one in school, but I am pretty excited to spend more time with my little guy.  Now to me, summer time calls for firing up the grill!  I love the smell of a charcoal grill, the sound of planes flying by in the distance, and lawnmowers running.  They all signal summertime.  I just started grilling a year or so ago.  Before then, I just left it up to my husband, because I thought it was too difficult.  I'm definitely not an expert, but now that I've figured out the basics, I really enjoy it!  

One thing I am notorious for is running back and forth inside the house to get the needed utensils, and cooking supplies for the grill.  I tend to keep some in the pantry, some in the kitchen, and some in the garage.  I thought it would be nice to put together a grill kit for keeping everything corralled together.  

So what do you need in a grill kit?

This is my basic supply list for charcoal grilling:
  • Grill Brush
  • Garbage Bags
  • Charcoal
  • Lighter Fluid
  • Lighter
  • Wood Chips
  • Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil
  • Medium Sized Bowl
  • Olive Oil
  • Kitchen Brush
  • Small Bowl for oil
  • Tongs and Spatula
  • Paper Towels/Kitchen Towels

 You would, of course, skip the charcoal, lighter fluid, and lighter for a gas grill!  

The first thing I do when grilling is clean the grill.  Grill grates get covered with bits and pieces of what you're cooking, so a grill brush is necessary for cleaning them off.  I also keep trash bags to dump the cooled ashes.

Next, if you want to add wood chips to the grill, get them soaking so that they are ready when the grill is hot.

Once the chips are soaking, it's time to light it up!  Stack the charcoal into a pyramid, apply lighter fluid, and light the coals.  The bag usually says to give them about 15 minutes to ash over.  Allowing the coals to ash over means they are hot enough for cooking.  After they ash over, spread them out and close the grill for 5-10 minutes to allow the grill to heat up.

While the grill is heating, I usually oil the grates so that the food doesn't stick.

One of the final things you'll need for a grill kit is cooking utensils and towels to wipe up.  This is what I am always running back into the house to find!

With all your supplies together, its time to grill out and enjoy the fruits of your labor!  If you're using wood chips, drain and wrap them in foil.  Poke a few holes in the foil to allow the smoke to rise.  Throw whatever you like on the grill, and sit back and relax!

One of my favorite things right now is grilled vegetables.  I grilled last weekend, and I'm telling you an onion has never tasted so good!  I also made what I am calling a Grilled Guacamole.  I used all of the basic ingredients, but used grilled onion and added grilled corn.  Sooo good too! 

Hopefully having all of my supplies together will make it easier for me to grill out this summer!  I think I'm realizing there's a difference between grilling and barbeque-ing, at least to me.  Barbeque requires sauce and maybe pork?  You gotta have ribs right?  So I won't claim to know how to barbeque just yet, but this is a start!

What would you add to a Grill Kit?  Do you have any tips for BBQ?  I'm still biting my fingernails when I think about ribs!  Let me know if you have any ideas!

Linking up to Home Stories A-Z Tutorials and Tips Link Party, and Savvy Southern Style's Wow Us Wednesdays.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Garden Glow

First off, I wanted to say 'Hi' and 'Welcome' to everyone visiting from Honey We're Home!  I was honored to be featured in her round-up of HWH Loves Bloggers Living Rooms.  So many beautiful spaces!  I'll be sharing more about my living room soon, but I hope you'll take a look around and come back again!  

With summer approaching and school about to let out, I am ready to have more relaxed evenings.  I remember when my son was younger,  we used to put down blankets and watch the stars come out at night.  Our recent visit to the Fernbank Planetarium has got me wanting to stargaze again.  

Here in Georgia, it's so hot in the summer, that it's usually not comfortable outside until the evening.  But it's the perfect time to get outside and enjoy the garden.  With the addition of a few string lights, you get a beautiful evening glow.

One of the other great things to do in the garden is cookout!  For the longest time, I found it intimidating.   But check back tomorrow, and I'll be sharing some ideas that helped me conquer the grill!

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Monday, May 11, 2015

Exploring Atlanta-Piedmont Park and the Fernbank Science Center

On our recent trip to New York City, we were out and about exploring everyday.  This has inspired me to get out and see more of my own city of Atlanta.  I live in the outskirts but that's no excuse for not seeing what is so close to me.  So a while back, I found a Living Social deal for tickets to the Fernbank Science Center's planetarium show.  This past Saturday we made plans to go downtown and see a show.  We had been to the Fernbank Museum before, but it was our first time visiting the Science Center and Planetarium, and it was pleasant surprise. 

First, the staff was wonderful.  We were talking to them, and one of them told the Bub, "We're so happy you could come today."  His response was, "Well actually, I really wanted to go the zoo, but my parents brought me here."  They got a crack out of that, but by the time the show was over and he had explored the science center, he didn't want to leave!

The best way I can describe the Planetarium is that it's like an IMAX theatre, but just in a dome format.  When the show begins, the room is completely dark, so that the projector above, plus dozens more around the room, can cast lights up like a starry night sky.  It's so realistic that you feel like its night time.  (Go when you are well rested, because it's so real you might doze off!)  They show you what the sky looks like in our hemisphere for that night, and other constellations you can see in our night sky.  I even learned that some planets are visible in the night sky.  They just look like bright stars.  Often the first or brightest 'star' to appear at night is a planet.  The Fernbank Science Center also has a telescope, or observatory, that is open to the public on Thursday and Friday evenings, weather permitting.   

After we left, we thought since we were so close we would go check out Piedmont Park.  I remember when we were in New York, I was reading something about Central Park, and thought that they both shared the same architect, Frederick Law Olmstead, who is considered the founder of landscape architecture.  Well it turns out, the original design for the park was by Frederick Law Olmstead's sons.  They also worked on several other 'small' projects like the Washington, D.C. National Mall, the Jefferson Memorial, and the Biltmore Estate.  Just knowing that, makes me feel like what an honor it is to be able to walk through one of their design plans right here in my own backyard.  The Piedmont Park Conservancy also has a nice history lesson written up on it's website about the origins of the park.  I can't believe I have lived here nearly 13 years and have never been.  I'm embarrassed!  In my defense, I have driven past several times with the intent to visit, but couldn't see how to get in!  My tip, if you're driving, would be that the entrance is off of Monroe Drive, so get directions that send you there.  Also there is a parking fee of $1 per 30 minutes.  But, now that I have been, I want to come back again, and also explore the city's other major parks.  

Here are a few of the sights we captured while there:

Look at that skyline! This was the view that both my husband and I said reminded us of Central Park.  

These beautiful oak-leaf hydrangeas were everywhere!  After we had explored the park for a while, we were hungry and thirsty.  We headed across the lawn to what we hoped was the Willy's we had seen while driving.  It turned out to be Park Tavern which was probably even better.  The restaurant was packed and the food was delicious.  (My recommendation is the Southwest Fish Tacos!)  They have an indoor eating area, but if you enjoy eating outdoors and watching TV on a big screen, this is the place for you.  With our bellies satisfied, we headed back across the park to our car.  All of us were saying we have got to come back.   If you haven't been, you've got to go.  

I can only imagine what other Atlanta area attractions I have been missing out on, but the plan now is to get out and see them.  If you are from this area, let me know what your suggestions are!