Oct 21, 2014

Delicious Dill Steak Kabobs (Gluten, Dairy, & Nut Free!)

Hey friends!  This is a delicious and rather simple recipe that was featured in the June 2014 Better Homes and Gardens magazine.  As always, I changed it up a bit based on what I had/didn't have...


Ingredients:

8-12 tiny yellow or red potatoes (I used small Yukon gold potatoes)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb sirloin steak, cut into 1 1/2 in cubes
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp dill weed (original recipe calls for 1 tsp dill seeds, crushed, which would be much more flavorful)
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1 medium red onion, cut into wedges

Directions:

1. A few hours ahead of time, place steak cubes in large resealable plastic bag and add following items to bag for marinade: 1 Tbsp olive oil, vinegar, dill weed/seeds, black pepper, red pepper, and a dash of salt.  Shake shake shake!  Let sit in fridge for a bit, then remove about 30 min before cooking.

(reminder: don't forget to place wooden skewers in water to soak before grilling - I used 6 total)

2. In a large pot bring salted water to boiling.  Add potatoes, return to boiling, then cover and reduce heat.  Simmer for 12 minutes or until potatoes are just tender.  Drain water then return potatoes to pot, toss in 1 Tbsp of oil and sprinkle with salt (I used an italian spice blend with salt to season mine).

3. Thread marinated steak cubes, potatoes, and onion wedges onto skewers leaving about 1/4 inch between pieces.  Grill skewers on gas or charcoal grill directly over medium heat (rotating skewers occasionally) for 10-12 minutes or until meat is to desired doneness.

Serve and enjoy!  This was a very filling meal for our little family of 3 - we had lots of left overs - so I think it would serve about 4 hungry adults.


Let me know what you think of this recipe.  It's a wonderful gluten, nut, and dairy free recipe to keep on hand if you're hosting any guests with allergies or dietary restrictions!  As long as they're not vegetarians...

Oct 17, 2014

Friday Fun House

Every once in a while I come across a really awesome just-downright-fun-looking house that I'd totally love to live in.  This house in London is one of them!


The bright white airy space, those wide plank floors, the oversized gallery shelves, and the fun color accents appeal to my adult self while that backyard rock wall and playhouse call to my inner-child!!

If you look really close, you can see that the chandelier is made of wine glasses!  I presume it was purchased at this UK retailer here.  It looks like a piece of art and serves a rather useful purpose too...especially if you have big wine parties.


Yes folks, that's a tucked-away gold-leaf bar!  These home owners are brilliant and I love how you can tell they don't take themselves too seriously.  The flourescent "boo!" art fixture is simply darling as well.


A peak into the kitchen reveals those to-die-for wide plank floors again, and a cheeky lime green glass backsplash.  Easy clean-up and such fun for the eyes!  And, check out this coffee mug installation...


I LOVE IT!!!  And, I totally agree with it...  I sort of want the family who owns this house as best friends.


There's that playhouse again and a look into the family room.  Not sure how the doors to the backyard work, but I love the plate glass windows and how the doorways seem to be wide open to the outdoors.  There's quite a bit of gray weather in the UK so it's nice to let as much light in as possible.


The bath is clean-lined, serene, and quite perfect at tempering all the fun colors throughout the rest of the home. The big "greige" subway tiles are a nice modern pick.


Yep, I saved my favorite detail for last.  Check out those adorable kid work spaces!!  I'd be fighting over the yellow closet desk space for myself.  Such fun, such brilliance.  Just close them up and voila, it's a tidy hall.

This family rocks!  They simply have to based on the house they've created to call a home.  What do you think of it?  What's your favorite feature??

Oct 15, 2014

Spanish Islands (Mallorca and Ibiza) with a Toddler

Here's a long overdue post on the island portion of our Spain travels last summer!  After a few wonderful days in Madrid, we hopped on the Disney cruise ship and headed off toward Mallorca - the largest island of the Balearic islands archipelago in Spain.  The ship docked in the capital, Palma.  And, my oh my, it was lovely!


First, we visited Bellver Castle - a 14th century fortress that overlooks the sea and the city of Palma.


The gothic architecture was so beautiful.  Fun Fact:  It's one of the few circular castles in Europe.


And, the view wasn't too shabby either...




After a little walk-about, we headed back toward town and the most spectacular Cathedral de Palma.


It happens to be the closest cathedral to the sea, which made for a pretty point of interest as the ship pulled in and out of port.


The surrounding gardens were so vibrant and lush.  I preferred the exterior architecture and beautiful gardens to the interior of the cathedral, which happened to be a little too gaudy for my tastes.  (which is funny because Gaudi just happened to design the interior renovation of the church!)




I hate to say it, but I actually prefer the look of this cathedral to the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.  It was much more detailed, more light-hearted in appearance, and grand.


The rose glass windows inside were quite spectacular.

After our visit to the cathedral, we snacked on a tasty local pastry called an Ensaimada with fresh ice cream. It was light and fluffy and sweet and HUGE.


It's made with pork lard instead of butter, which is likely why it's so delish.  Oink oink!!

Our parting shot of Palma, Mallorca looked like this...


After we departed from Mallora, the ship headed for Ibiza - the techno and night club capital of the world.



While I wasn't terribly stoked to rub shoulders with the typical glow stick swirling clientele, we figured we'd hop ship in the morning.  Most party people would still be hung over then anyways.

Who would miss a morning view of this??


 I was pleasantly surprised to find a quaint little town with lively cafes and boutique shops.


 Fish sticks anyone?  (or that's what it reminded me of...crazy American)


We had a great morning just walking around, taking a selfie here and there.



They had cool old cities walls and a fortress to visit, but we didn't make our way there because we had to get back to enjoy the cruise ship swimming pool and meet a princess or two.

Priorities, I tell ya...but I'd say it's worth a few sightseeing sacrifices when you go on a Disney cruise with an almost 4-year-old.



Some things are never worth missing! ;-)  Speaking of unmissable, the next travel post will feature our time in Barcelona...

Oct 9, 2014

A Modern but Classic Boy Nursery

Hi friends!  It's been almost a month since I last posted...I'm sorry for that but it's been busy around here.  I had some fun design projects to work on for clients and I was having a lack of inspiration on the blog front.  Sometimes a break is needed but I did miss you all!

While I was away from the blog world, I got to design the below nursery for some dear friends who are expecting a baby boy.  Thought I would share the inspiration board with you as a source of inspiration for your projects (I won't share the sources as the full design details belong to my clients).




Isn't it darling?  And it will last well into growing-boy-hood.  We used the below nursery by Erika (featured on the Elements of Style blog here) as our inspiration, tweaking the colors and overall feel just a bit.


What are your thoughts?  Any favorite features of the inspiration board design?

(If I can help you or a friend with a nursery design, please contact me at inspiredwhims@gmail.com.  We can put something beautiful together based on your budget and style preferences!)

Sep 9, 2014

Brimfield Antique Show Review... Sadly, a Bust

Well, friends, I was giddy with anticipation as my hubby and I drove up to the September showing of the Brimfield Antique Show in Brimfield, MA.  As we got out of the car I had butterflies dancing in my stomach because I was so excited to wind in and out of the rows upon rows and acres upon acres of thrifty finds.  And, this time with my partner in crime!

Sadly, that was the pinnacle of my excitement...I only got more disappointed as the day wore on.

Weather was AWESOME!
Company was AWESOME!
Parking was affordable at only $5.

But....absolutely no one was willing to budge on prices.

When you go to an antique fair or thrift fair you can almost always expect to respectfully haggle a little bit and find bargains all over the place.  When I went to Brimfield in May of 2012 - my trip report is here - I got nearly a dozen things for less than $200 total.  This time, not so much...

I had so many things on my list this year, but because of terrible pricing I came away with only three things:

1) Keys for a project I'm planning for Christmas time.  No wiggle room here, folks...they told me $2 per key and wouldn't even give me 6 keys for $10.  Come on people, at least throw the last key in for free!  It's the least you can do, you've got 500 more to sell.  I'm almost doing you a favor by buying these.  No??  Ok, fine, you can break my $50 for $12 worth of keys. (wish I could have said that)


2) My ONLY "steal" of the day at 33% off asking price - this cute old painting ladder that can be used as a magazine rack or blanket rack - which I got for $20.  It was marked at $30 and this guy was actually nice and accommodating about a lower offer because it was smaller than a similar ladder he had that was marked at $20.


3) I can't complain too terribly much about our last purchase - a beautiful handcrafted bench - that we'll use at the dining table, in the foyer, in the mudroom, or even as a coffee table (depending on the home we live in). The bench has a leaf that extends it from 5' to 8' and it's likely the highest quality and most versatile piece of furniture we own.  They had it marked for $245 and we got it for $230 - wow, 7% off.


Honestly, I don't mind paying more for high quality stuff that's new and custom and heavy-duty and handcrafted with love.  This was worth it.


Bottomline, no matter how much leg I showed, how much I used my fading Texas accent, or how severely I played hardball, people weren't willing to wiggle.

Case in point: I wanted a little metal sign with an arrow on it.  My husband asked the guy how much, and he said $15.  My husband said "how about $10?", he said "nope, $15".  (Not even a meet in the middle deal?) We left.  I come back a few hours later, this time without my husband, and ask again..."hello sir, how much for the arrow sign?"  He says, "weren't you here already?".  I say, "well, yes sir, I was.  I was just about to leave but wanted to see what you could do for me on that little arrow sign.  I only have $10.50 left in cash, but I'd like to give it to you for the sign.  Can you work with me?"  He says, "Nope, it's $15".  Well, I hope he never sold it...

Maybe people are pricing things low to sell - which if that's the case, mark 'em up a bit so people think they're getting a deal when they talk you down a mere 10%.  Getting a good deal is what makes shopping at shows like this thrilling - it's what brings people in.  No deals, no shoppers.  There's only so many full-price paying people out there who have $1000 to spend on a leather chair with rips in it.  Or, $75 for a 24"x24" cardboard Red Cross-like plus sign....really!?!?

Unfortunately, I think antiques and vintage items are becoming so popular that even the vendors who hunt and gather things day-in and day-out to bring to shows like this aren't getting things for reasonable prices anymore, so they're not passing any deals on to the customer.  They're likely paying too much for the space they rent at Brimfield too.  Higher booth pricing means higher product pricing.  I also think that vendors make up arbitrary prices without doing much research.  I could have bought most of the stuff I saw on Etsy for half the price.  My rant is over...for now.  (Thanks to those of you who stuck with me!)

Lesson learned: DON'T GO TO BRIMFIELD UNTIL THE LAST DAY (OR TWO) OF THE EVENT, when people have to get rid of things so they don't have to haul them home.  Perhaps then they'll be willing to negotiate a bit. (We went on a Wed of a Tues-Sun show)  The crowds will be terrible, but maybe you'll be a happy camper and score some good loot like I did back in 2012. (oh, so long ago...)

P.S. All that being said, I'm thankful I got to go to Brimfield.  I'm thankful my husband got to take off  from work and go with me.  I'm thankful for amazing friends who watched our little girl so we could make it a hot date. I'm thankful that I found what I did.  I'm thankful I have these first world "problems" to rant about.  And, I'll still go next year (on SUNDAY) in hopes of having better luck.

Sep 8, 2014

Give-away closed. Winner announced!

Well friends, the 3C Cards give-away has now closed and I selected a winner at random thanks to random.org.

Here's the screenshot of the winner...drumroll please.
That means Laurie will be receiving her 3D cards in the mail soon.  Thanks to both you ladies for playing and reading Inspired Whims!  Have a happy week.

Sep 5, 2014

Give-away time! 3-D Laser Cut Greeting Cards


Give-away now closed.
-----------------------------

These greeting cards are the ultimate in cool, y'all!  They're from 3D Cards based out of Newton, Australia.  Lucky you...they sent me a few to review and then pass on to you.  Who's ready for a give-away?? (details below!)

First up is my favorite - the 3D Ferris Wheel.  The front of the card is simple, allowing you to use it for anything...birthday card, thank you card, shower card, congrats card, etc.


Then, you start to open it up...


And the party begins!


Check out the detail and craftsmanship that goes into these cards...


Beautiful, huh?  

3D Cards also sent me a heart card and a clothes line card to share.  They're super darling as well!



You'll have to check out the 3D Cards website to see all the other cards they offer - they have something for EVERY occasion.  The quality and craftsmanship of the cards are outstanding.  They are heavy duty and would last far longer than the typical greeting card.  Right now, 3D Cards is offering 20% off their cards online if you use the code "TWENTY" at checkout!

Now, for the fun stuff.  One lucky reader will win the 3 featured greeting cards! (sorry, US residents only)

To enter for the win, simply do one or more of the following (you get one entry per comment):

1. Leave a comment below saying which card you like best on the 3D Cards website.  
2. "Like" Inspired Whims on Facebook {here} and leave a comment saying you did.
3. "Follow" Inspired Whims on Twitter {here} and leave a comment saying you did.
4. "Follow" Inspired Whims on Pinterest {here} and leave a comment saying you did.
5. Subscribe to Inspired Whims email posts or RSS feed {here} and leave a comment saying you did.

If you leave an "anonymous" comment, make sure to leave your name and email address so I can contact you.  One comment will be selected at random at 2pm Eastern Standard Time on Monday 8 Sep, so make sure to enter by then.  You can check back to see who the winner was later Monday afternoon.  Best of luck and happy weekend!

(Disclaimer:  I was not reimbursed monetarily for this post; however, I was sent cards free of cost to review and give-away to my readers.  The reviews are completely my own.)
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