a home in progress

There is a reason why this view from the living room loveseat is pictured. It is probably one of the most frequented views (aside from Netflix on the television screen or the gas stove in the kitchen) and in all honesty, its incomplete-ness is an accurate reflection of our whole process of settling in or homemaking. I love a good minimalistic vignette, and for that reason, you won't find me loading corners up with stuff just to fill a void. Six months in, framed photographs and pieces of art are still propped up against walls until I can fully commit to something posted in the same place, or being drilled into the freshly painted, Chelsea Gray plaster.  That off-white lampshade in the dining room drives me nuts and I cannot wait to find the perfect fabric or handmade paper to wrap it in, the map of St. Andrews Old Course is intentionally hung low enough to legibly read every corner of it despite judgment, and the chest is a hand-me-down that I painted nearly a decade ago. Like many of our furnishings I inherited and rebirthed with paint, it gracefully wears scuffs and scrapes from the half-a-dozen moves it has made ever since.  On top of all of these perfect imperfections I would never give up, the stack of mail proves that we're only human, who cares. Completing the aesthetics of this house is a process that I'm not willing to rush, and I'm proud of myself for that, and for many of the other little tasks we've accomplished along the way. More soon.

polenta cakes

I LOVE making polenta cakes to switch up the usual evenings that include grits or rice. These couldn't be easier, because dare I admit I bought the tube of polenta from Trader Joes and sliced it into discs in a matter of seconds. From there I pan seared them in a little oil while simultaneously stewing tomatoes and spinach, separately.  I topped it with some crispy bacon pieces and pecorino romano, a balsamic reduction, a smidge of truffle oil, and a basil leaf. It's so yummy with a glass or red wine, I could have it two or three times a week.

the [m]organ bench

When we were leaving Texas, we inherited an organ bench that's been passed around in Austin's dad's family for many decades. His parents had it in their house when he was born, and it's been in storage as of late. I was thrilled to take it back to the east coast with me and make it our own. So I did some quick dry brush painting and placed it in a location that we treat as a drop zone---it's the substitute for a foyer. I really love the way it turned out and how it looks under the wall-mounted flatscreen. The [M] organ bench is a functional, sentimental treasure. 

 

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cookbook nook in kitchen


My cookbook nook is the thing my dreams are made of. I'm incredibly tickled that a small space was already placed off the edge of the kitchen, and I immediately knew I wanted it to be an office corner.  Who knew with a little bit of planning, it'd become the perfect spot for all my food books, a marble slab desk, and a computer.  I'm so in love! And it was a matter of minutes before it was completely color coded.

april 2016 - the next 3/4 of the year

It's April 1st and it's goal-setting time. 

The only way to write this way is to treat it like an email to my people, so here goes.

WOW. I'm completely humbled by all the pals who have practically begged for updates to this sad little dormant site.  So to recap since the summer, we got the call to move back to Charleston, South Carolina, then went on a honeymoon, lost a ton of valuables and personal belongings in San Francisco, made the cross country move BACK to the east coast, found a temporary shoebox apartment near the Old Village of Mount Pleasant, SC, and settled back into life in the lowcountry.  Austin is [expectedly] busy with recruiting and all aspects of the new gig. I spent much of the fall settling back into the normalcy of life in Charleston---that feeling of knowing where everything is, navigating your way through town without the desperation of needing to check your map to make sure you're not going the wrong direction.  (Quite honestly, that newness had FINALLY rubbed off in College Station about 3 days before Austin got the call.) 

In the fall, I'll admit, I struggled. I struggled big time. I was desperate for an identity again, but I found myself enjoying the pleasures of walking around this gorgeous historic town, eating all my favorite things, fantasizing about a grown up life that included all the usual factors, and taking pretty photographs. But then I was quickly overcome with the sincere wonderment of what the hell I was going to do--with my life!  I networked, I reconnected, I found myself wandering around in a place I felt like I had nothing left to explore (that's a lie, I realize) and the excitement of the move wore off.  Most of our furnishings and belongs remained in storage, stacked floor to ceiling in the second bedroom of that shoebox apartment I mentioned.  And somehow, to be completely honest, most of my dignity was somewhere in those boxes---it's like I needed to be surrounded by my lifestyle/stuff to feel like myself again. I needed a job to help fulfill the portion of the pie chart that rewarded me. I needed a wake-up call.

Some evenings felt like a dream: we would walk to the docks of the old village with drinks in hand, immediately to find dolphins or manatees swimming around as the sun set.  We'd go eat some of the best food in the country because we realized what we were missing when living in Texas.  We'd walk around, practically gawking at the free scenery and realize, holy cow--we're getting paid to live here. 

BUT, the excitement of Texas A&M, the people we knew and loved back in the Lonestar State, all of that, was difficult to shake.  I missed things I never expected to miss.  I compared things to Texas minutia I never expected to take pride in. But I knew all those emotions would take time to slip away, so I allowed time for it. And in the meantime, Austin saved me as usual. 

My husband has that amazingly patient and collected, composed response to my often-inexplicable behavior....but he also has this hardball coach-like approach at times that I assume is simply nature---he can be pretty blunt when it's time to light a fire under someone's ass and get them going.   So he did.  He also mentioned quite often that a job does not define me.  And he's always been my #1 encourager to keep this site going, which one day I'll appreciate. 

By October I found a great part time job with Fritz Porter, an awesome new concept in town I've reference before here. 

That job was amazing insight into the design world I had taken a break from for 10 years. I was also so inspired by the creative mind behind it all, who also happens to be an incredibly engaged mother of 4 and genuinely fun person to be around. (check out her house here and here.) So that was some serious inspiration worth noting.  But I found myself missing a set schedule, and specifically a job on the College of Charleston campus.  There's just something about the magic of those streets, the vibe from all the hipster students, and the zest of academia that really gets me going.  Plus: a solid paycheck. 

By Halloween, Austin and I found ourselves putting an offer on a house the same day we walked through its doors for a showing---within hours of seeing it, actually. And then somehow overnight, like the flip of a switch, it feels like we became grown-ups.  Thanks to all the crap that goes with buying a house. I can honestly say I don't really ever want to go through the home-buying process again BUT the result has been so joyous that I'll file it into the suspected "childbirth category" and venture to wager that I'd do it again after all, despite the pain.

I think it's worth mentioning that we took this plunge before I actually had full-time work.  That, to be frank, was scary stuff.  But it was definitely one of those "if you build it,  they will come" moments for me.  And of course the grass is always greener because 6 months later, I'd give anything to have one day off to dedicate to homemaking.... That's life.  But on the other side of things, I found myself crunching numbers about what we could afford, how to budget the cost of living in Charleston again, and I did in fact, overnight, feel insanely grown up. 

So we're caught up!  I started a Monday-through-Friday job at the College in January, we got keys to our house in February, immediately demo'd the kitchen, and started the fixer upper portion of home ownership.  Fast forward to April 1st, where we are now, and I have decided to start this next quarter the way I started last years' second quarter: dedicating a sincere chunk of time, effort, and interest into this hub where all my quirks and dabbles are collected.  And that is why come Friday, April 1st, I'll jump right back into this daily ritual and update you on all the fun parts of home renovations, living in Charleston, South Carolina, being married to a college baseball coach, having an insanely passionate love affair with food and preservation, and trying to figure out what to do with my life.  Here's to a much earlier wake-up call to fit it all in, but I'm going for it.

Thanks for your patience, friends.  I've missed you!

allisyn. 

 

candlefish

took my mom and sister-in-law to Candlefish last week (they finally got to cash in their gift certificates for the candle-making class) and we just had a blast! So much fun with scent profiling and playing guessing games, and surprising yourself with what you like and dislike. And the gifts at Candlefish are always divine.  It has truly become my favorite spot for gifts.

baby shower

Got to head back to Houston just a few short days after returning from Houston---for my sister-in-law Neeley's baby shower!  So much fun girly stuff for our soon-to-be first niece! 

kitchen plans so far

I'm so pumped that my dream come is coming true. Designing a kitchen (an existing kitchen, not a blank space) is a thrill. And finding a way to bring my taste and modern design to a 1945 house is my favorite part....so far this is the basic plan.  The only thing I haven't decided is if I want diamond-shaped accent tile in the niche above the range or hexagonal.  (I'll survive.) Before and afters are to come for sure. 

we bought a house!

SO MUCH AHEAD but to start, we are officially homeowners. Come February we will be working on this adorable 1945 gem. I love that it's 70-years-old, full of great charm, and going to be our first home we plant roots in, get comfortable, and make our own. 

two words: fritz porter

I've had the pleasure of helping the brilliant mastermind behind Fritz Porter help launch the opening, get the retail concept going, and help with day-to-day customer relations.  What a blast! This place is a feast for the eyes of any tastemaker. Simply go, I couldn't even begin to discuss its amazing presence in the Charleston style/interiors/designer showroom world. 



ann ladson oyster utensils

One of the most creative and thoughtful wedding gifts we received just so happened to win a Garden & Gun Best of the South Award the week after we received them. Ann Ladson, a local artist, is responsible for these adorable yet well-crafted oyster forks made by hand from brass and silver. I love seeing them on our buffet table and they always remind me of the sweet Wagener Terrace family who gifted them. Warms my heart! 

flooded streets has my heart

Was so excited to get a little package from Charleston the other day--my Flooded Streets Charleston Street book arrived, with a nice hand-written note thanking me for the support from the Lone Star state. Obviously I was pumped when I heard they were back in stock, and I can't wait to use this special little nugget. In the meantime it will constantly be at fingers' reach, simply because I love having those lines of the peninsula map at my fingertips... they're always on the brain anyway! As a teenager I used to totally geek out and walk around the peninsula, choosing a different street each time to "survey." I would photograph the front elevation of each house on the street, logging house numbers as I moved along.  How preservation-y of this dork, right?.  No wonder I'm who I am today. This little notebook and its dotted grid lines remind me of those blissful days.  

chef's table on netflix

Oh my lucky stars. The inventory of go-to food films, series, and documentaries already in my Netflix files overwhelm my husband and me with joy on a weekly basis.  I'd say once a week we are diving into something else--and we've been known to re-watch episodes of Mind of a Chef more times than we care to admit. So when Netflix announced their new documentary series CHEF'S TABLE, I got so excited that my Apple TV remote couldn't click fast enough (and those babies are QUICK!) The six episodes, each dedicated to a different chef, are so well-done, so clean, thoughtfully complex, and inspiring. I don't care who you are, what you do, or how much you scoff at the exquisitely refined world of upscale gastronomy, you are not a warm body if you can't appreciate a documentary series like this one. Keep them coming, Netflix. 


stop and look

Caught myself in a moment while sitting on the bottom step of our stair yesterday. While putting on my shoes, I noticed the sun casting interesting lines of light on our space, and I had this strange reality check.  I leveled my chin enough to actually sit back and notice our living space and it hit me--I live here. This is our home. Crazy how it took four solid months for this wakeup call? Honestly, people stop by and often rave about how "me" this place looks upon entering. I immediately reject the statement out of fear that it that means it lacks my husband's taste--but then I realize every piece and part of our living space is so us. The pieces and parts represent things we've experienced together.  I glanced up, took a deep breath--a sigh of relief, almost. Because it's like that saying about never noticing a good waiter or waitress: I didn't realize how comfortable I had gotten here and how homey it feels to us because I guess we're too busy being comfortable and "at home." This is home now. And I'm glad I'm done with the chase to make it feel that way.  

friday favorites: trader joe's products

I am SO PUMPED that I'm heading down to Katy at some point this weekend and I"m bound to make a Trader Joe's run while I'm there--they just scored a brand new store and I can't wait to fill the void. So though there are plenty more items on the list--mostly fresher stuff and more exotic items than the following, here are at least five of my staples I can't refuse while at a TJs.

#1: Raisin Rosemary Crisps

These crackers are so complex! They're crispy AND chewy! Savory AND sweet! How do they do it? Pair with a smoky gouda or a soft chèvre and be prepared to knock your guests' socks off. 

#2: Puff Pastry Pizza Margherita

May this mini pizza rest in peace. I believe it's officially discontinued. If you find it please contact me. I would go extreme lengths to have these stashed in the freezer for a quick indulgent lunch.

#3: Panang Curry with Jasmine Rice

It's embarrassing to admit how many of these I used to pile in my work freezer. The jasmine rice is smothered in the most amazing curry sauce with fresh veggies. Vegan. Gluten Free. No preservatives. No added crap. Amazing. 

#4: Cheesy poofs!

No explanation. These go so fast when my girlfriends and I are together, sipping wine and discussing Bravo programs. 

#5: Gnocchi

I always have these quick-boil gnocchi dumplings on hand when i don't have time to hand roll my own gnocchi….bah!  I will literally just infuse oil with chili flakes, basil and tomatoes and then marry these dumplings with the sauce and it's the most amazing Italian meal in three minutes tops. 

 

friday favorites: household lifesavers

This week I figured I'd make a list of five household habits, products, or shortcuts that are daily lifesavers in our casa.

#1: compost pail

I adore this compost pail we got as a wedding shower gift! I keep it right next to our butcher block and put vegetable clippings, egg shells, and coffee grounds in it, eventually transferring the week's trimmings to the big compost bin on our patio.  You're wondering if it smells, right? Nope. the charcoal filters that are interchangeable in the top really do the trick. It's amazing how much space we save in the trash and it makes me feel even more motivated to advocated for sustainability at home.  Our stainless steel gem came from Williams-Sonoma

#2: laundry baskets

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This seems so obvious, but Austin and I are certainly advocates for skipping a laundry hamper all together and cutting out that step by having multiple laundry baskets in our closets. There are bins for darks and lights in our walk-in-closet, and then there's this little bin at the foot our linen closet where dirty towels go. Since I have a strict household white-towel-only rule, the ease of washing and bleaching all of the towels in our house is satisfying, and just grabbing this and heading to the laundry room couldn't be simpler. (I go through 2 white washcloths a DAY due to an obsessive skincare regiment so needless to say this basket gets a lot of attention.)

#3: cutesy lint holder

I hate that very important step of cleaning out the lint trap in dryers. My mom literally put the fear of God in me as a child, though----so I'm completely aware that neglecting this task can lead to house fires and inefficient drying. Needless to say I wanted to make it more fun so I found cute little miniature tabletop trash bin (I dig the British vibe) to keep on top of the dryer. All lint and old dryer sheets land in here. Then the old lint lands in the compost pile (yes, that's a recommended thing) and the leftover dryer sheets double as AWESOME household dust rags, so we get an A+ for sustainability around here these days. 

#4: lamp remotes

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This tiny little device is a game-changer. It came with three receivers that can be plugged into lamps or other electronics, and so now, we can turn our frequented lamps off without knocking things over or (God forbid) stretching our arm in an unusual way. I can't express how much easier it is, and it's awesome to turn on a lamp on the other side of the house or through walls and staircases, even!  This little device can control three different outlets--and it was less than $20.

#5: quality chopping block 

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Austin's only request---actually his only INSISTENCE was buying a big, heavy duty butcher block with some wedding money. We originally were in the market for one that was going to set us back HUNDREDS of dollars, but the quality was there so we thought it was worth it. Then, in true HomeGoods fashion, the bargain gods shined their grace upon us one day at that magical place and we landed this gorgeous block for less than eighty bucks. It's about 3' x 2' x 3" and weighs around 20 pounds. It has changed my life in terms of cooking. It makes all prep so much more enjoyable and EASY! With a good chef's knife and chopping block, you can move mountains, people. Embarrassingly enough, one of my favorite parts of each day is when we're cleaning up the kitchen after dinner: music is playing, Austin's going at it washing dishes (he's an insanely thorough dishwasher) and I'm over there rubbing this amazing board cream all over my cutting board with my bare hands. I baby that thing like it's no business. The beeswax and oils also work wonders on my hands--it's the little things, I can't complain.