Thursday, June 28, 2012

Making Our House A Home

If I was being honest, this post would have been titled, "SLLLLLLLOWLY Making Our House A Home." 

Back in March I posted about a cute little Easter Garland I whipped up to add a touch of Spring to our mantle. In that post I discussed how I was struggling to make our house feel homey... Well, we have now lived in our cute little casa for nine, almost ten, months and unfortunately not a lot has changed.

So, in order to get our ducks in a row and get something (anything!) hung on the walls, Brandon and I made two large "To Do" lists... The first list was made up of things we needed to tackle that didn't require us to purchase anything and the second list was things we need to buy in order by priority. 

As luck would have it, both lists were almost exactly the same length so in order to encourage ourselves to get things marked off BOTH lists we made a rule: In order to purchase something off list #2, you have to finish a task from list #1. 


This girl happens to love four things - 1. God; 2. BK and the fam; 3. Lists; 4. Having a Plan. (Okay, confession: five things... I'd be lying if I didn't have chocolate in there somewhere) Ever since we got this all written down, I have been rollin'! So I thought I'd share our first official something on the wall! 

These dishes are called Johnson Brothers Friendly Village.
I've grown up eating off these pretty plates at my grandmother's house
so when I found some in an antique store, I knew they were a perfect fit.
If you ever find any gigantic platters in this stuff, please let me know!
I'd love a big ol' platter to go on the very top!
I would like to preface these pictures by giving you a heads up on my decorating style... but I can't figure out how to explain it!! So here's the best I can do without over thinking - I love antiques. I like warm colors. I tend to pick things that bring the outdoors inside. Alright, good enough for now...

So, I knew in my living room I wanted to hang some plates because I LOOOOOVE me some dishes! I had also found these pictures of trees that were printed onto burlap canvas in an antique store (even though they aren't old) and I simply had to have them. But that was all I had and regardless of how I laid it out, it just didn't seem complete. 

So I brainstormed, scoured Pinterest and then thought about the homes of people I know and love and tried to remember what they did to decorate. Well, I finally came to the somewhat random conclusion that I wanted to incorporate some old boat paddles. Don't ask me how or why or what brought this about, but I was on a mission to find some old paddles and they were going in our living room. Done.

Do you know how hard it is to buy old boat paddles? I do, virtually impossible. I searched antique stores, flea markets and estate sales - either boat paddles are a hot commodity and they got snatched before I got there or people just didn't have them. I'm leaning towards the latter. 

So, I finally gave up on finding the perfect paddle and decided to create my own. I found two paddles at an antique store (again, not old... what's the deal with that?) and brought them home to begin the transformation! 

This is what I started with...

The paddles were used, so they did have some wear and tear on the ends but overall they were in way too good of shape for what I had in mind. They were also a yellow wood and I wanted them to be dark... 

The first thing I did was buy some sandpaper and sand my little heart out. I had to sand off the gloss sealant and the place where the big ol' sticker was. I sanded, and sanded, and sanded, and wished I had borrowed my dad's sanding machine because the sand paper was doing a number on my manicure.

And then I sanded some more. FINALLY, I got down to the good stuff.

Next I had to rough them up a bit. Using a phillips screw driver, I made some holes of different sizes... not all the way through, just partially. I think they kind of ended up looking like a hole a worm would make, I liked it.

Then I got out the hammer (Yes, my hammer is leopard... Don't act like you aren't jealous.) and beat the snot out of that paddle! I just hammered away, leaving big ol' dents all over it. Then I flipped the hammer over to the nail remover end (I'm sure there is a technical term for this but I don't know it) and made big chunky scratches.

Paddles before/after being glazed...
See how the glaze enhances the dents and dings!

Finally I got out a sponge and started glazing! Because I wanted the paddles to be a dark shade, multiple glazing sessions were required and as I am not a single bit patient when I get a project underway, I never waited the recommended amount of time... Probably not a good idea, it ended up taking at least two extra coats and almost two days for the thing to stop feeling sticky! Oh well, lesson learned.

After letting them dry for a day or two, BK used his man skills to figure out how to hang those bad boys... I had to close my eyes because it required drilling screws into the paddles and I was just positive he would accidentally push them all the way through, but he didn't! He's a pretty good handy man, I think I'll keep him.

Probably should've straightened that middle guy before taking this picture...
Pretend like he isn't crooked, okay? Thanks.
And here is the final result! Trees and dishes and paddles - lots of different textures, but similar color scheme to tie it all together. I was pleased with how it all turned out! Now, just 90 more walls to go... 

Be Blessed!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Traveling Tuesday: Vienna, Austria

Welcome to the grand debut of...

Traveling Tuesday!

I snapped this picture of Brandon as he took in his first sight of Europe - St. Stephen's Cathedral.
I am so excited to kick off this new weekly feature!! After returning from our fairytale trip I have so many stories and pictures and amazing things to show you and tell you about... I knew one post, or two, or even three, wouldn't do it justice.

We inadvertently happened to go inside St. Stephen's Cathedral at exactly the right time.
The sun was coming through the stained glass and casting beautiful shades of pink, purple, blue and green
all over the inside of the magnificent building. It was truly a magical experience!
So instead of cramming pictures down your throat for several days, I decided to start Traveling Tuesdays where each week I'll show you some pictures and tell you some stories of our grand adventures! The pictures won't necessarily go with the stories because otherwise you'd be reading the equivalent of a history book. Instead, I'll tell you about our adventures in each place and supplement with pictures of the area. I hope you enjoy this new little feature!

Super cute crowns were EVERYWHERE... but none for sale. Whomp whomp.
This was on the "free" fountain that we viewed right before hitting the jackpot!
We will eventually make our way across Austria and Switzerland, but today we are kicking off this party in the place we spent our first few days abroad -


Our traveling schedule getting to Europe wasn't exactly ideal, but you take what you can get when you are flying free with frequent flier miles! We headed to Dallas Friday night after celebrating at Brandon's cousin's wedding. Of course, we failed to leave the wedding as early as we intended because we were having fun... And we (cough, mainly me, cough) failed to get completely packed before the wedding so we had to swing back by the house... 

Hofburg's Palace was giant and right in the middle of the square... We purchased tickets to visit "The Hofburg Treasury" where they display all the crowns and jewels and pretty girl stuff, but we missed it by 30 minutes. Oops.

To make a long story short we left OKC for Dallas at 11:30pm which means we didn't get to the hotel until 2:30am and we had to leave the hotel for the airport at 4:30am. The fact that we made it to Dallas without wrecking the car was a mere miracle in itself! (We switched drivers literally four times...)

After traveling for over 24 hours (13 in the air, 13+ in layovers) we decided to spend two nights in beautiful Vienna to rest, relax and get our feet back under us. 

Precious hubby had all the fun he could stand on Day 1 and was out for the count at 7:26 pm. 

Travel Tip #1: When traveling in Europe, don't take cash, use your debit card! For one, if your purse/wallet gets stolen and all you have is cash, you are out of luck. For two, you will have to exchange the US dollars to Euro, Pound, Francs, etc and regardless of where you take the money there will be an exchange fee. Banks have the lowest exchange fees, but you have to go when the bank is open which can be more difficult than expected. SO, notify your bank before you travel and then use your debit card to make a withdrawal for a couple hundred every few days. The ATM will give you money in the correct currency and the fee, at least from my bank, was a flat $1 versus a percentage. Never the less, always stick a credit card in for back up just in case!

I loved these cute pots of flowers spicing up this little hole-in-the-wall restaurant.
From what I can tell, the "pots" are just big cans that the paper has been stripped off of! Cute and affordable!!

Not everything went as planned however... like our debit cards not allowing us to make a withdrawal. When we arrived in Vienna we were exhausted, starving, lost, carrying incredibly over-packed bags and had zero money. 

Belvedere's Palace... Super honest moment: Wasn't overly impressed

I have traveled all over Europe using my debit card and for the life of me, I could not get an ATM to give us a dime! I could see in Brandon's eyes that he was trying his best not to panic, but in his head he was clearly screaming, "You told me you knew what you were doing and I didn't need to worry about anything and now we have no room, no money and nobody speaks our language!" I knew I contacted the bank before I left... I even bought a train ticket with the card earlier to get from the airport into town, but now that we were trying to find a room to ditch the 55lb bags and take off my cute, but completely unpractical wedges... nothing, nada, zilch. 

Karlskirche Church. One of Brandon's favorites because it was under construction
so we were able to ride an elevator to the top of the dome then climb a whole bunch of scaffolds
 until we could actually touch the paintings! It was pretty amazing...

We eventually caved and used our golden save-the-day credit card to rent us an incredibly overpriced room close to the town square - it included free wifi, breakfast and there was a cute little chandelier over our bed so I wasn't complaining. I quickly popped open the iPad and shot an email to my mom to tell her to go to the bank first thing the next morning and get them to take the hold off my card, a facebook message to my brother to tell him to tell mom to check her email asap and another email to my best friend at home who happens to be my personal banker to tell her I was having some problems that needed to be resolved in a hurry. 

Naschmarkt. A gigantic farmer's market outside of the Vienna square.
A friend of mine from Germany recommended the roast beef at this little shop and he did not lead us astray!
After freaking everyone back home out completely, B and I headed towards the square to check out the sites (only the free ones though because we couldn't pay to actually go in anything). 

Schonbrunn's Palace... Super honest moment: Far exceeded expectations!

While we were stopped looking at a fountain (free) we saw one more ATM and decide to give it a try, what could it hurt at this point? This particular ATM didn't allow you to withdraw as much money as the other ones and so instead of asking for 400Euro, we selected 300Euro. And guess what, it gave us MONEY!! 

The Schonbrunn's have my dream backyard... Look at those gardens!! They went on and on in every direction!

Apparently, the whole time I was trying to withdraw more than my daily limit because I wasn't converting the math correctly. Genius, I know. I wish we could have had a video of the happy dance that ensued... 

Flowers and gardens and fountains...
I was pretty much thinking I had died and gone to Heaven!

We definitely made the most of our two days in Vienna. We hit every hot spot in the book... 

Travel Tip #2: Don't even think about leaving home without purchasing a Rick Steves' Travel Guide. My "boyfriend Rick" as he is affectionately known in the King household, will save you time, money and a lot of headaches. His books have easy to read maps, incredibly helpful tips on eating/sleeping/sites, and step by step walking tours that allow you to see all the sights in an efficient manner! Basically, it's everything you need to know about anything. I LOOOOVE boyfriend Rick... Brandon thinks he is great too.

Our filthy, hot, tired, swollen and thanks to those cute little black flats, blistered feet!
We did a LOT of walking that day and because of the awful blister, this was the last day I was able to wear any shoe other than flip flops... which got pretty interesting when we were hiking in the Alps!
 We visited St. Stephen's Cathedral (a-mazing during sunset), the Opera (opera isn't our thing so we just walked by), Hofburg Palace (spent a lovely afternoon sitting in one of the many parks here), Kunsthistorisches Museum (lotttts of marble in this place... Just give it a so-so), Schonbrunn Palace (wayyy better than the book gave it credit for... wear your walking shoes), Belvedere Palace (overrated, if I had to pick one I'd pick Schonbrunn), Karlskirche (incredible fresco painted ceiling), Naschmarkt (fun place to grab a quick bite).

BK's first hostel - See it's not that bad!
 While exploring, I saw this little restaurant tucked in a vine covered building and decided we should have dinner there. Oh, what a lucky find! This restaurant, Griechenbeisl (at least that's what I think the letters said), was Austria at it's finest. My version of "finest" is not a table with more forks than I can identify or food that comes out in bite size fancy servings... In my book "finest" means local. I want to eat like the people in Vienna eat. I want to experience the culture, the true surroundings. You will not catch ever me in a McD's while vacationing. Griechenbeisl far exceeded my expectation!

My favorite restaurant on the trip: Griechenbeisl (or something like that)
As you can see, the restaurant was decked in dark carved wood and antiques, but the best part was right through that little door... In the room adjoining us was a man playing an accordion and about 40 locals crammed around a few large tables singing, clapping and dancing along! I could have sat there all night just taking in the sounds! 

An entire plate of wiener-schnitzel. Basically chicken fried steak but with lamb meat.
 Our food was delicious - BK had the schnitzel and I had a hearty potato soup. After we finished eating and the crowd in the next room started to dissolve, our waiter encouraged us to explore the restaurant. The building dates all the way back to 1350 and each room had the rich feel of Vienna - dark colors, friendly chatter and music. There was a piano room, where an older woman was "tickling the ivories" and my favorite, an autograph room. In the mid-1800s the owner created Pilsner Urquell beer. Because of this special beer, the Griechenbeisl became the meeting place for numerous prominent artists, scholars and politicians. All the way around the room the top half of the wall had been painted a dark golden tan and over the hundreds of years the little restaurant had been open famous artists and politicians from all parts of the world have signed their names on the walls of this room!

In the middle, the dark looong scribbled name belongs to Mozart.
A little further up and more to the right you will find Mark Twain's signature and above that Barry Manilow.
We also saw Beethoven and Johnny Cash, among other notable signatures!

This was definitely a restaurant I would recommend! The atmosphere alone was worth the visit! Vienna did not disappoint! It's a beautiful city full of amazing sites and sounds. 

I hope you enjoyed checking out Vienna... We have hundreds of pictures and trying to cut it down to just the highlights is a daunting task as I eliminated so many incredible places and sights. Next week I'll show you the storybook town of Halstatt, my personal favorite in all of Austria!

Be Blessed!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Recipe Monday: Glazed Pork Chops with Hawaiian Fried Rice

I know, you can't believe your eyes... 

Raegan is ALIVE!! and  COOKING!!!

Dear friends, I have missed you so very, very much! Even as I sit at my kitchen table typing this, I can't believe it's been over a month since I last blogged. Boy, have I been slacking! Let me catch you up super-duper quickly and then I'll fill in all the frilly little details later...


We went on vacation for SEVENTEEN days. We can home and zombied through the next week as we were still on Europe time and we broke the computer with all our picture uploads (Seriously). So that's the majority of my excuses... and the most legitimate ones, I won't waste your time with the other stuff. 

So let's get back on track with this jewel of a new recipe! This ladies and gents, is a summer show stopper. Introducing....


Remember months ago when I sent Brandon to the grocery store and there was a meat sale and he bought a crazy ridiculous number of pork chops? Well we are STILL trying to whittle those guys away... So I came across this yummy looking Pioneer Woman recipe via Pinterest and well, to be quite honest, I was a bit intimidated.

Fried rice looks so easy when you watch the chefs at hibachi restaurants whip it up, but I tried to make it on my own once before... and well... let's just put it this way - a little rice goes a loooooong way, an entire bag of rice goes even further. Lesson learned. 

But the recipe said it was easy, so I figured I might as well give it another stab - so glad I did. This was delicious and not overly difficult! Plus, I had most of the ingredients already! So, I'll cut the chit chat and give you the good stuff!

**NOTE this recipe appears somewhat daunting due to the number of steps, please do not be discouraged. I made each addition of every little ingredient a step so that you could truly see this recipe in a step-by-step process. You can do it, I promise!!
Accidentally left a few things out of the picture:
Pineapple, Butter/Oil, Sriracha, Garlic, Eggs... Obviously a little rusty on my blogging!

What you'll need:
Pork Chops (I used 4 small ones)
White Rice
Butter/Oil (No exact measurement) 
6 Tbls Soy Sauce
1 Tbls Rice Wine Vinegar
2 Tbls Honey
Tbls Sriracha (Give or take, depending on how hot you want it)
3 Tbls Minced Garlic
2 Eggs
1 C Frozen Peas
Pimentos (I left this out bc I don't like them)

What you do:

(1) Grill the pineapple. I just bought fresh pineapple that was already cut up, but you can cut your own if you want to get really sticky... not my idea of fun. If you can find the spears, they work best because you can just stick them on the grill. My grocery store only had fresh chunks so I put them on a skewer to grill them, whatever you can find will work! 

IF YOU DON'T HAVE A GRILL: you can just slice the pineapple and stick it in a sizzling skillet until it has a little color on the outside, then set it aside to let it cool.

(2) Make the rice by following the directions on the back of the bag to make 2 cups. (No need for pictures or step-by-step instruction, this part is easy)

(3) Pork chop time! Heat a little butter (2 Tbls)and some oil (1 Tbl) in a skillet, then throw in the pork chops. I peppered my pork chops a bit, and added creole of course... but that part isn't necessary. Cook the chops on both sides until they have some color.

(4) Slice up half of an onion... Alright, you know me well enough to know that there is no way on God's green Earth that I'm going to eat an onion BUT you don't have to actually eat it, just use it to make a little flavor. I promise, this doesn't taste the least bit oniony at the end, cross my heart!

(5) Toss the slices into the pan and then shake it around until the onion falls between the chops. I shook the pan for about two seconds and then used a fork and just pushed them down. Stir them around for a couple of minutes, until they start to turn golden brown and become translucent.

(6) Add in approximately 4 tablespoons of soy sauce.

(7) Then add the tablespoon of rice wine vinegar.

(8) Next up, the two tablespoons of honey.

(9) And finally, a tablespoon or so of Sriracha... Unfortunately forgot to take that picture. Then shake the pan around and simmer the sauce on low for a few minutes.

(10) Remove the pork chops...

(11) BUT let the sauce cook another minute or so by itself on medium-high eat to let it thicken up a bit. 

Finally, pour the whole thing over the chops! Don't worry, you can still chunk the onions on top before you eat it! 

(12) Now without cleaning your pan add another tablespoon of oil (it's in there, you just can't see it for some reason) and put the heat on medium-high. Toss in the minced garlic.

(13) Add the two eggs and immediately stir it around to give it a rough scramble.

(14) Add the peas and the drained pimentos... Plus a little more soy sauce!

(15) Last add the cooked rice!

(16) Using a spatula turn the rice over every once in a while to "fry" it.

(17) Last, but most certainly not least, toss in the grilled pineapple! Stir it around and cook for another minute or two. This is when I had BK give it the ol' taste test and we added a bit more soy sauce... you steal a bite and decide for yourself.

(18) Finally, put the rice on your plate, then the pork chop (with or without onions) and drizzle a little extra sauce on top! Enjoy!!

Oh heavens, this was a yummy one! I really want to try the hawaiian fried rice again using grilled chicken - doesn't that sound delish!? Hope you enjoy this one half as much as we did!

**Check back in tomorrow for a NEW and EXCITING feature -


Be Blessed!