Friday, September 25, 2015

My very own grownup blog

UPDATE:New continent, new blogging platform. I figured if I was going to blog for real, I needed to leave Blogger. Welcome to my new, grown-up blog with an official domain. I think it will be a better fit for a more visual blog.

Follow along at First post up on the new blog? Safari through Lake Nakuru National Park!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

A Step Into the Unknown

While you're reading this, I'm already in Kenya. But I wrote a rough draft of this post before I left D.C. I really wanted to get down my thoughts and feelings before I touched down and first impressions could cloud me.

On our way to our first safari - blog post coming soon! 
Right now, I am completely ignorant of what I'm walking into. Well, maybe not completely ignorant... But fairly so. I have never been to a third world country, let alone lived in one. And in the mad rush just to get everything in order to just get over there, I had little time to research as I normally would.

There are some things I am nervous about. Nairobi isn't the safest city, even by African standards. Where we're living, we'll have an armed guard 24/7. I'm scared of getting lost (addresses don't work the same way there). I'm afraid of getting mugged! That's why I'm leaving my wedding ring here in the states - absolutely not worth the risk for such a sentimentally priceless item. And I'm afraid of standing out. I've never been a minority before, and I don't like people's eyes on me. And while family and friends tell me I'm "ethnically ambiguous" (ha ha, guys) inside I know I'm a white American and that's all I feel like. It's hard to gauge at this point if this will even be an issue, but it's something on my mind.

There are also some things I'm dreading a bit. One thing I'm not looking forward to is the food. Layne and I love cooking and trying really good restaurants. This will definitely be less available to us in Africa, and there is some concern about food quality (and safety) in general. And water! Bottled water only, and I don't know how I'll feel about showering. Layne keeps reminding me that the water is clean; I just don't want to ingest it. But I can't get over it! The germophobe in me wins out. Also not super excited for the living conditions. I don't know exactly what to expect, but it won't be luxury by my pampered American standards. Most days I don't think I'll mind, but everyone has a bad day every now and again where you just want to come home and feel that sense of peace and safety. As you can see, most of what I'm dreading is simply being denied my creature comforts. The things I really like but don't necessarily need; the things I will miss.

None of those things stop me for even a moment from being so excited and grateful for this opportunity. I want to just walk the city and take it in. I want to meet the people and talk with them, hear them speak to one another in Swahili. I want to spend hours people watching, observing similarities and differences. I want to get out of the city and see the Africa we all think of; the wild animals on Discovery come to life before my eyes. I want something new and different and so far away from what I can imagine that it changes me. I don't want familiarity, even though I'll miss it. Moving to Africa has been hard so far - packing our house and getting vaccinations and finding a work situation for myself and the million little errands that had to be done in a rush before leaving the states for several months - and I want it to continue to challenge me. That's the whole point of something like this, right?

Monday, September 14, 2015

Is this real life?

When Layne first told me about the opportunity with Yum, my thoughts were so jumbled and contrary it left my head spinning. The very first thing I said was "I know NOTHING about Kenya!" We talked a little about what we did know... Mt. Kilimanjaro, Lion King, fast runners. It was a frighteningly brief conversation and embarrassingly surface. We weren't even exactly sure where in Africa it was (the East side, right? Turns out it's smack dab on the equator and while Nairobi isn't on the coast, Kenya does touch the Indian Ocean so we were right in thinking East.)

Then the wanderer inside my soul said "YES- let's do this!" And I went from thinking it was somehow important that I knew nothing about Kenya to being all about it in a matter of seconds. Before even the first interview, I felt my heart soar and land somewhere on maybe the east side of Africa. I have a constant itch for change, and this felt like the perfect chance to propel myself out of my comfort zone and have an adventure. I could already feel the hot African sun on my skin, feel the dust of the Serengeti under my shoes. 

But with my next breath, I retreated - back to questioning how we were going to do this and if it even made sense at all. We began running the scenario through our minds, tossing over details of our five-year plan like they were movies in the $1 bin at the store. Suddenly, if those plans didn't align with Kenya, they were entirely fungible with safaris and third world living conditions. 

But this was all happening waaaaaaaaaay too fast. This was just the first conversation we had on the subject, and in 20 minutes I'd tried to tackle it right, left, and sideways. After a night spent frantically searching google, I felt like I had brushed up on some basics of Kenya, but had no further insight into what our path would be. 

Fast forward a few weeks. Interviews had continued, and we knew a job offer was headed our way, yet we were no closer to knowing if we would take the leap. There were a lot of conversations with family that followed the same format: "Kenya, huh?" And with a breath seemingly deep enough to suck in the entire span of space between America and Africa, I'd shake my head a little and say "Yeah...!" Even my neck and my mouth could not agree on an answer. 

But once the job was officially Layne's for the taking, they wanted an answer fast. We took two days to decide, and in that span I probably waffled back and forth with 100% certainty every ten minutes, convincing myself that going or staying was the only logical option and the other option was lunacy. In the end, the only certainty that lasted was the feeling of rightness in accepting the job. <
So... here we go! Yes, it uproots our whole life. But that's just what I love about it. Now is the perfect time for an adventure. 

P.S. I've only got two songs on my Kenyan playlist so far - this one, and this one. Any suggestions???

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Time for a change

Not even sure how to begin this one...

 I guess if you're wondering why I re-started my blog only to immediately drop it again, it's because I have some news. We're moving... To Kenya! 

In fact, Layne is already there and I leave next week.

 It's been a bit of a whirlwind, to say the least. Layne got offered an amazing opportunity to be CEO of a startup there (think: GrubHub). We're not exactly sure what it will all entail, but with his consulting background, they want him to come in and help with their exit strategy.

Kenya was never part of our plan. But you can either take an adventure when it comes along, or you can stay the course and go the traditional route. I've done both at times, and this time it felt right to take a leap. A 7,550 mile leap. Gulp.

 Wish us luck!

 P.S. I'll be blogging the experience to document my own thoughts and feelings, so feel free to follow along and ask questions if you have them and I'll do my best to answer.
How am I going to leave someplace so beautiful?! 

Monday, August 3, 2015

Beat the Monday Blues | August 3

Back to work today after vacation, which is always super hard. Summer is quickly coming to an end! While I'll be glad to see the humidity go, there's just a feeling to summer that I'm always sad to relinquish. Trying to enjoy these last few weeks and remember that pumpkin flavored treats will soon be back in vogue.

I think I love almost everything about this home in Atlanta. Black and white homes are the key to my heart.
+ I always love an Apartment Therapy home tour; they just seem more like they're from real people.

Have you ever checked out Food52? While I love their recipe collection, sometimes their blogs are even better! This article on balancing the 5 tastes had some really good tips.

POPSUGAR has a great list of 30 dropcloth DIYs. This hanging valence caught my eye and would be soooo simple!


This recipe from Damn Delicious has been a standard in our house the past few weeks. Especially with zucchini being in season, it's the perfect side dish for just about any meal and pretty much any time we grill this dish finds its way to the table as well.

 Have you heard of the Waterlogue app? It takes a photo and transforms it into a beautiful watercolor image. This is my parent's house in Utah - isn't it so idyllic?! I need to get it printed and hung up somewhere.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Something's Missing... Foyer Edition

I shared my front porch and foyer earlier this week on the blog. But, as is every room in my apartment, it's a work in progress. There are a few things I know that are missing and I'm leaning toward DIY...

The first very obvious thing that is missing is a coat rack of any kind. There is a coat closet up in the main part of the apartment, but who wants to trek all the way to the back of the apartment to hang up their coat? It hasn't been an issue for us yet since we moved in the spring, but I know how tiring it will get in the winter. 

I like the idea of these simple paint dipped ones from Nellie Bellie. And, I could make a lot for very little $$$.

These faceted wall hooks are to die for, but I don't have all the tools I'd need for them... Boo.

And this modern coat rack - made of just concrete and broomsticks - definitely caught my eye!

Although this coat rack made me stop and stare...But it does take up more floor real estate, which I don't have a lot of in this space.

If I did decide to buy rather than DIY, I'm in love with these coat hooks from CB2.

Or, the way Cup of Jo used the Fintorp IKEA system is another great option and would totally work for us.

I also have some ideas for art on that big blank wall that faces the door and am thinking of some better options for where to put our shoes... stay tuned!

***All of the DIY options are pinned from the original source over on my Crafternoons Pinterest board, and the options for purchase are on my New Apartment board. Please pin from original source. You may also to get a sneak peek at some of my upcoming project ideas! ***

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Come on in!

 I think the entryway of the home is SO important. Often, it's the only part of the home that someone will see. Think of the last time a friend popped over to just drop something off. You probably found yourself leaning against the door frame and chatting, allowing plenty of time for their eyes to roam over your space and assess your style.

Our last apartment was garden style, and while the brick buildings and big, shady trees on the exterior painted a pretty picture, the medicinal green tile and khaki-colored walls in the stairwell weren't the most welcoming. It was cold, clinical, and not at all inviting. Once you stepped into our apartment, things warmed up a bit, but I always hated that the first impression people had was walking up that stairwell that always smelled of other people's food.

Now, our entrance is much more welcoming. There's greenery and trees, and my little herb garden to say "hello!"

The little black oval on the door is actually our doorbell! It was painted some sort of weird yellow (I think the original idea was that it was "gold" to match the lock and doorknob but it definitely missed the mark); I went over it in black to make it stand out more. This was a key functional change, as the front door is down the stairs from the rest of the apartment, and we keep the door at the top of the stairs closed for much needed temperature control. A knock simply is not loud enough for us to hear!

Right inside the door, I like to have a mirror. It just lets you take one last look before you head out into the world. And this dresser is the same IKEA one that was completely busted in our old apartment. Layne removed the drawers and gave me shelves instead. It was white in its past life, but I painted over it in Tricorn Black paint from Sherwin Williams, sealed it with high gloss polycrylic, and gave the hardware an update with my favorite gold spray paint, Rust-oleum Metallic Gold. I used Live Love DIY's tutorial for painting laminate furniture to make sure this high traffic piece would hold up.

The rug was a TJMaxx steal - $15 and it's just about the perfect size for this awkward space. I have the white side up now, but it's reversible. I think in winter I'll flip it so we drip snow on the side that will hide it better.

The plate was a present from my mom. I think it may have worked better in my head than it does now that I see it in the space, but I'm holding off on any changes for now (plus, I love it and want to hang it somewhere)... The key rack is also a new purchase, from Amazon. We have the key plate on top of the dresser, but Layne didn't like that he couldn't see whether or not his keys were there from the top of the stairs.

 So many of my design decisions start with issues of functionality like this. In fact, this whole space right now has been all focused on making it work better for us and being able to use it. I have a few missing pieces to add that will make it even more functional, and a few design additions I would like to add, but all in all I think it's suitably welcoming for now!

Make sure to pop back tomorrow to see some of my future plans and later I'll show off some DIYs through this space!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Happy 4th!!!

(A few days early...!)

I don't know about you, but I seriously love Independence Day! Great food, high energy, and you end the night with beautiful fireworks exploding in the sky. It is the absolute epitome of summer.

This 4th of July I'll be hitting up my church's pancake breakfast in the morning, heading over to the in laws for some amazing food, and then watching the fireworks down on the National Mall!!! I have wanted to go to the Mall to watch the firework display FOR YEARS but every year it hasn't worked out for whatever lame reason. Finally, I'll get to enjoy the nation's firework display from right underneath them. It's pretty much as patriotic as you can get!!

P.S. Be sure to check out these articles to make the most of your photos on the 4th! This one will help you take those awesome sparkler photos, and this one will help you capture the firework displays as they light up the skies. Enjoy!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Beat the Monday Blues | June 29

I hope you all had a great weekend! It's always hard to head back to work Monday when you're looking forward to a holiday, but I'll have another post later this week about all things 4th of July-related. 

Another great renovation by Change & Co. was featured on desire to inspire of a townhouse in Brooklyn. The architectural details in this place make me a little weak in the knees.

This Buzzfeed quiz is genius: Who Said It: Kanye West or Jean-Ralphio Saperstein? I did not score 100%. I didn't even score 80%. It was the best thing of my life.

We are always looking for a new side dish, and this one was fantastic! Sometimes, green beans can be a little boring, you know? Just... blah. The lemon and dill were an especially great combination, very bright and fresh.

How cute it this American flag runner from Everyday Dishes? Even better - it's really easy to make! Here's the tutorial.

LADY LUX has an amazing 4th of July playlist that is the perfect thing to get your party hopping. 

*** Make sure to check back later this week for some 4th of July photos tips! ***

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

A Quick Trip to San Francisco

Before I move on to showing off the "Stage 1" of our new apartment, I wanted to share a couple of pictures from our recent trip. We headed out west for my brother's wedding in Salt Lake. Amazingly, I did not take a single picture of the festivities! There was just sooooo much prep work and then - BAM -  a two-hour reception was over like that! And it was like 40 degrees and raining right after the ceremony, so I didn't get any outside the temple either. :/ I'll have to share some when the official photographer has finished with them.

But! After the wedding, we were able to drive out and spend a few days with Layne's brother and our sister-in-law in San Francisco. We had an amazing time gorging ourselves on sourdough from Boudin, pastries from Tartine, and even got to meet Tyler Florence at his restaurant Wayfare Tavern. (He was SO nice!) Amanda had planned out a perfect itinerary for us that we followed to a tee as we explored the city.

There are more pictures on my Instagram, but here are a few of my favorite snaps.

The Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market.
 Painted Ladies.
View from Coit Tower. 
Amanda and me freezing our butts off at the top of Twin Peaks.

And here is a special gift for you... Layne's favorite picture of the entire trip.
Me, in all my glory, stuffing my face at Nick's Crispy Tacos. 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Beat the Monday Blues | June 8

Hey all. Just checking in to say that I hope you're having a great day, despite the fact that it is a Monday and - therefore- sucks inherently just a little bit. Here are my finds from the weekend to brighten your day.

Crushing hard on this DIY instagram frame from ling yeung b. I don't have a ton of wall space in the new apartment with those windows (no complaining!), but the wall along the stairs in the entryway is conspicuosly blank...

We made these lemon ricotta pancakes for Mother's Day a few weeks ago and I can't stop thinking about them. I'm not even a ricotta fan, but these pancakes were phenomenal. nom nom nom

This renovated brownstone. I swear - it speaks to my soul. And what it says is "Come live in me, you know you want to." And I do. Very much. Make sure to check out the little girl's nursery!

 If you haven't already - stop everything and go check out the Studio McGee Home Collection. If you follow Studio McGee (and you really, really should) then you've probably seen peeks of these fabrics in some of the recent reveals.

Dream Green DIY has these amazing FREE modern botanical printables- she did them herself believe it or not! So grateful that she's generous enough to share!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Apartment B

So... since we last checked in, we've moved! Just across the street and up a few blocks, but it was enough. Enough to change my commute, which church we go to, the streets we take routinely. In other words, it was just enough to shake things up a little. A total breath of fresh air.

Now we live in a house. In a neighborhood. With a yard. After three+ years of apartment living, the little suburban girl in my heart is doing cartwheels of joy. The house is divided into two apartments, and we have the second floor apartment. You go up a flight of stairs in the backyard and then enter... my happy place.

It's a suuuuuper old house so it has a lot of character and I am in love with every little corner of it. These are the quick shots I took as we pulled up with a moving van of our stuff, but hopefully it gives you a good sense of the space.

You walk in and there's a little landing, a small flight of stairs, and then you're in the main apartment and the kitchen is off to the left.

Walk-in pantry - holla! Our last kitchen was literally only large enough for one person to turn in a circle, so even though the cabinets and appliances are really basic, we can't believe the S P A C E. Plus - original hardwood floors. Swoooon... Around the corner is the living room, with the best natural light and JUST LOOK AT THOSE WINDOWS! I am in love. 

Off the living room is a hallway that leads to the bathroom and second bedroom. Down another hallway off the living room is the master. My 6'3" ceiling may hate the sloped ceiling, but I just think it's sooooo cozy.

I love every single inch of this space and the crazy character in every room. Can't wait to make this place our own room by room. Stay tuned to see what I've done so far!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

I'm back, baby (and with a great recipe to share)!

I know you've heard it all before but... I'm back. Recommitting to the hot and cold relationship that is my blog. Every time I think I'm ready to turn away, I miss writing too much! I miss the community! So, this time, I'm back and I'm promising I'll change. If you give me another chance, I will try harder than ever before to not disappoint. I've got a few (hopefully good!) posts planned out over the next few weeks, and I'll prove to you that this time I mean it when I say I'm blogging again.

For now, let's start off nice and easy. I wanted to share this recipe I made a few weeks ago - lamb meatballs in a spicy tomato sauce. We give it a full 5 Stars.

picture *borrowed* from NYTimes site (give me a break - I hadn't recommitted yet!)

Layne is the one with the real knack for picking out recipes between the two of us, and when I selected this one it received a raised eyebrow and a tight lipped shrug (Layne-speak for no good). But then he tasted it and took it all back. Score one for Meg! 

My main recommendation is to make twice the amount of sauce it recommends - with all the reducing it has to go through, you'll want more of that delicious pasta sauce in the end! We also added some garlic to the sauce, because what's a tomato sauce without garlic? 

This is definitely making it into the Fletcher Family Cookbook. Especially because our other standby meatball is Geoffrey Zakarain's recipe, and ooohhhh myyyyyy gooooosh. They're delicious - don't get me wrong - but SO labor intensive and time consuming. Plus, these lamb meatballs are baked instead of fried. 

Win. Win. Win!
01 09 10