Around Big Brown

When Ray and I got married I owned very little home-y things. I didn’t have a Hope Chest or inherited china or a couch. I know the concept of Hope Chests is a little amish-y, but they’re actually a great idea. I have friends who had Hope Chests filled with towels, George Foreman grills, waffle irons, and even, like, Christmas decorations. When we got married I had bedroom furniture, 4 bowls, 4 mugs, a mini cookie sheet, a boxy tv, a VHS/DVD player combo situation, and maybe a muffin tin. Ray lived on his own for 7 years before we bought Big Brown and had a hodge podge of weird hand-me-down / yard sale furniture and home goods. Black oxagonal plates, semi-broken bed, gigantic ship paintings, a coat of arms, empty fish tanks, an amp used as a coffee table… you get the idea.IMG_0486IMG_0536(this is what our dining room table has looked like for the past few weeks)
When we moved into Big Brown we didn’t have money to purchase all new furniture, so we just kind of worked with what we had, albeit a little tacky and dated. We were given a few pieces of furniture that weren’t exactly our taste or style (ahem, king size waterbed) but tried to utilize them as best we could.
We’re slowly (very slowly) purchasing new furniture and home-y items and getting rid of the old ones. I wouldn’t say our style is majorly changing, but it is evolving. We now have a better idea of how our home works and how we want to utilize our space.IMG_0101 (Functional Record Shelving)pps(pops! on display in Ray’s studio)
We’re converting one of our upstairs bedrooms into an organized storage space. We have a rather large home, but almost zero storage space and awkwardly small closets. We also don’t have a garage or utilities room. We only have a crumbling car port type area that we refer to as Little Brown. It’s open to the elements and certainly not the space I want to store decorations or, like, blankets that aren’t being used. Since we already have a guest room, making the second upstairs bedroom into a storage space is the best decision for us. Organization isn’t either of our strong suits, but we’re trying to work. I lean towards wanting to throw everything away and Ray leans towards saving everything… So, as you can imagine, figuring out our storage room has been a struggle.
We’ll definitely keep you updated on all the changes!

Awkward 4th of July Memories

Happy almost 4th of July! I love the 4th of July! This is mostly because I really REALLY love fireworks. Today I thought I would share 4 of my favorite (awkward) memories associated with the holiday. Be prepared for lots of terrible low quality photos!! I even had to search myspace for some of these!!
IMG_31341. Once when I was a teenager,  I went to watch the fireworks around Lake Desoto in downtown Lake City with my friend MeLissa and her family. Maybe some other friends were with us as well? I don’t know. We’re going back 16ish year at this point. I remember walking back to her parent’s van (the Great White) and MeLissa and I having a (too) loud conversation about a terrible burning smell that was soooooo bad. Her mom kept trying to hush us, but we just got louder. “Ugh, is someone burning trash. What is wrong with these people? I’m disgusted!!!!” When we got back to the van MeLissa’s mom told us we were smelling weed. I don’t know why my brain chooses to remember that moment, but it always makes me laugh. We were so sweet and innocent.

4th of July4th of July 22. In 2007 I was in Jackson, MS working at M-Fuge, a Christian summer camp. The week of 4th of July was truly the hardest of the summer. During the summer of 2007 I would take my campers to serve at a church called Crestwood in downtown Jackson that had a children’s summer program. I loved everything about Crestwood. For some reason, on this particular week, Crestwood wasn’t holding the summer program and I was left taking my group to a different site. It was arranged for me and my group to go to a VERY run-down-majorly-sketchy trailer park called Shady Lake. Shady Creek? Shady Grove? Shady Park? Idk. This was a new place, the children we were serving were outrageous in a eat-dirt-don’t-wear-shoes-murdery-vibe-type-way, and I just felt like I had no idea what I was doing. Crestwood was familiar, friendly, and I had a routine. Shady Creek was the exact opposite. But do you know what? I had the absolute best campers and adults that week. Some of the best I had in all 3 years of working for Fuge. They participated, they loved on the dirty murder-y children, they encouraged me. I think 4th of July fell on a Wednesday or Thursday that year, and since we were in the middle of doing camp we weren’t able to have a big celebration. Our leadership surprised us with a night time picnic at a nearby park with Chick Fil-A sandwiches, watermelon, and sparklers. I remember cry-laughing with some of my fellow staffers because the crazy week was almost over and we were so thankful to be eating Chick Fil-A in the rain on the 4th of July.

4th of July 3(dirty apartment mirror + Ray without a beard)
3. For 6 or 7 years before Ray and I were married, Ray lived in an apartment on the aforementioned Lake Desoto. He lived in the exact perfect spot for firework viewing. He would generally have a cookout and invite people over for the festivities. One year, as the fireworks were starting, a neighbor (probably high on ecstasy) plugged in his guitar and started playing the star spangled banner on the balcony directly above Ray’s apartment. It was hilarious for a moment, but fireworks generally last for 15-20 minutes. At the risk of sounding incredibly unpatriotic, I will say that the Star Spangled Banner is not one of my favorite songs. It’s also not  a long song. So, you can imagine my disdain when high neighbor played it over and over and over again for the entire duration of the firework display.cornerstone 1 (I did not have photo documentation of this memory, so I made a comic strip)
4. And finally, my most favorite/awkward 4th of July memory. The summer I was 15, my 3 best friends (Lauren, MeLissa, Patricia) and I spent weeks painting and firing weird-o ceramic figurines to sell at Cornerstone Music Festival in Illinois. We were working with a lady from our church who had done festivals and craft shows previously. She rented an RV and the 5 of us made our way to Illinois. After about a day my friends and I knew something weird was going on. The lady we were with seemed erratic, and maybe like she was going crazy. I remember using a calling card (lol) and payphone to call my parents and tell them everything that was going on. The next morning we woke up because crazy lady started DRIVING THE RV AWAY claiming she needed propane. When she went inside a store, the 4 of us put all our money together (like, counting change) to see if we had enough to buy bus tickets home. So, we packed all of our things in garbage bags and she dropped us off at a bus stop with 5 or 6 just-released inmates. On that horrible, smelly ride home we made friends with a newly pregnant girl who smoked black & milds, learned how to make crystal meth using a spoon (I can’t make this up), made enemies with a man sitting in front of us, and listened to a lot of Avril Lavigne.  It took over 24 hours to get from Illinois to Florida on that bus and at midnight on the 4th of July we watched fireworks from a bridge in Kentucky.cornerstone 2cornerstone 3

So, what are some of your favorite 4th of July memories? Hopefully they aren’t as weird as mine!

June Favorites 2015

Girly things:faves 3faves 41. Blueberry by Barry M
2. Good Morning Hope by Essie
3. Tassel Necklace from Bauble Bar – Actually, my first bauble bar purchase! I’ve been looking for a gold tassel necklace since last fall and I finally found the perfect one.

favesfaves 2 4. Summer fruits – This particular bowel includes strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, pineapple, and peaches.
5. Lucky’s grind-it-yourself honey roasted peanut butter – Guys, I’m willing to drive 45 minutes just to get this peanut butter. I know this photo is kind of disgusting looking, but I promise it’s delicious.


To me, summer is for easy reading.
faves 5faves 66. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling – I’m late to the game, I know. I’ve loved Mindy Kaling since season 2 of The Office (when she started having a speaking role, haha) and her book has been on my to-read list for years! I definitely recommend Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me. Mindy has a new book, Why Not Me, coming out in September and I can’t wait to read that one!
7. Paper Towns by John Green – I’ve just started this one, but I’m really liking it!


TV Shows:
8. Wayward Pines – One of our new favorite shows! This series is based off the Wayward Pines novels by Blake Crouch. It comes on Fox, but we’ve been watching it through Hulu Plus. I’ve already said this on facebook, but Wayward Pines is sort of like if LOST and Twin Peaks had a baby.
9. Orange is the New Black season 3 – I know this show is pretty raunchy. Also, terrifying (because hello, prison). But, OITNB is so well written and produced. I love that you get a peak into the characters life before they were behind bars. It humanizes the inmates by showing their past abuse, family life, mistakes, etc.

10. Lost World – I know there have been mixed reviews about this one. Even my own sister (my flesh and blood!) didn’t love Lost World. But, I sure did! #chrisprattforlife

Please, please tell me all your favorite things from the month of June!!

Broccoli Cheddar Risotto

risottoA few months after Ray and I got married I tried to impress him with my (non)domestic skills by making a fancy dinner. The menu – Baked lemon salmon, asparagus, and classic risotto. Now let’s be real, I know that’s not exactly fancy BUT we were poor and I was banking on Ray’s expectations being low. Also, I had never made risotto before. It’s possible that was the first time Ray had ever consumed it. Despite those factors, I labored over that sweltering pot of risotto for what felt like hours, and in the end it was totally worth it!
A few weeks ago I decided to make broccoli cheddar risotto. I’m not sure if I wasn’t feeling good, or was just in the mood for comfort food, but I was craving both broccoli cheddar soup AND risotto. So, I compromised.
I feel like making risotto is more about a method rather than a recipe. And honestly, I think my method is a little different than most. Generally, people add 1/4 cup of dry white wine to the risotto before adding any stock. You think I keep dry white wine in my house on the reg? Of course not. We usually only have whiskey, rum, and red wine on hand, so I tend to skip the white wine in risotto. Also, it’s recommended to cook all vegetables separately, but I sure don’t do that either. I chop my broccoli really small and add it to the risotto towards the end of the cooking time. This method cooks the broccoli, but doesn’t allow it to get too soft or mushy.
Here’s what you need for Broccoli Cheddar Risotto:
1 1/2 cup of risotto rice
4-5 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
2 teaspoons of olive oil
1 small onion diced
2 cups chopped broccoli
1 handful of cheddar cheeserisotto 2risotto 3 First, in a pot bring your stock to a simmer. In a separate pot add olive oil and onions and heat on medium. After the onions are translucent, add the rice and let it toast for a few minutes. Add a ladle of stock to the rice and stir until all the liquid is absorbed into the rice. Repeat. After about 15 minutes add broccoli to the rice and stir. Continue adding broth. Once all the  stock has been absorbed, remove from heat and add cheese. Stir and serve! I also added a bit of grated parmesan cheese to the top.risotto 1This dish is sooo simple, but still ridiculously delicious. I’ve made this dish several times and I always mean to add fresh garlic, but every time I just forget. So, if you’re feeling wild add some fresh pressed garlic. Or roasted garlic! Or bacon! Or pepper jack cheese! I don’t think you’ll regret it.