{Home Decor} Seeing Stripes

It's become a little-kept secret that I'm into zebra print. Some that know me well find this entertaining—dare I even say shocking—since I used to scoff at the women who proudly donned their bling, zebra print-emblazoned flip flops dripping in bedazzled crystals or tissue tees with sequins and gems all over the place. Though I try to keep my taste in, well, "moderation" it has come to be a popular sight in our household. I mostly adhere to the trend for home decorating, like this vase I purchased a few weeks ago or a couple smatterings of zebra I introduced to our house back in April, but the pattern does occasionally make it into my jewelry such as this bracelet that always get compliments whenever I wear it.

So it should then come as no surprise that I wanted some zebra pillows for our couches in the living room. There's so much brown involved in our interior decor, because that seems to be the nature of things when your theme is a little bit country and a whole lotta Texas rustic-inspired. Changing things up with a random pattern or a totally different color family is often a challenge, so I try to keep things interesting where I can.

Except the only problem is that I can't really sew. I was gifted a sewing machine for my wedding—two machines, actually, we had to return one!—and I've made the haphazard set of curtains here and there. But I'll confess that I've not hemmed, stitched or sewed much more than that. My mom, however, is a sewing machine ninja and whips up crafts, pillows, curtains, gifts and more (and repairs the occasional ripped seam for any of her four grown-up kids) on the regular. So when I mentioned making some pillows during the weekend she was in town with me, I knew it'd be a success—because she so graciously took the time to create some pillow covers from some fabric and fluffy trim I'd gotten at Hobby Lobby. The results? Zebra fantastic.

Annnnd because my mom loves me so much, she used the leftover fabric to make me a runner for my kitchen table—which ties into the mini lamp shades on the chandelier that hangs above it. (Please try to ignore those awful curtains hanging above the window... they're in the slowly progressive process of being replaced.)

How about those gorgeous roses, huh? They're blooming so beautifully. The vase is a new addition, too. It was a $2.42 clearance find at Stein Mart and I love it.

I've promised my husband we're not adding any more zebra to the house—I know it already borders on a bit too much and might need to be toned down a tad in future. Instead, I'm siphoning the obsession into other areas, like my new Texas Take jewelry logo:

In just a few weeks, I'll be participating in my first craft show so I've been gathering supplies to decorate my booth area. I've got matching business cards on the way, and the most adorable zebra-print mini gift bags for shoppers who purchase items at the show. That also means lots of new designs coming to Texas  Take soon—and some with, you guessed it, a lil bit of zebra. Seeing stripes ain't so bad. ;)

I've confessed. So what's your latest obsession?


{My Recipes} Saucy Shrimp Spaghetti

This is such a fantastic, easy recipe that has great flavor and goes tremendously with a glass of your favorite red wine. Call on it for impromptu dinner parties to wow your guests or for a romantic candlelit meal accompanied by a bottle of vino. (Or for dinner on the couch while watching The Tourist and dreaming of a return to Venice, as I did tonight!)

1 box pasta (I use whole grain spaghetti, but anything works)
2 jars of your favorite spaghetti sauce (Prego never disappoints when I'm not in the mood to make mine from scratch!)
1 lb. large shrimp, thawed & peeled with tail on
Balsamic vinegar
Olive oil
Ground sea salt & pepper
Dried Italian seasonings or just some basil, dried or freshly chopped
1-2 tbsp. freshly minced garlic, optional

Step 1) Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, then add pasta. Cook until al denta, approximately 7-8 minutes.

Step 2) While the pasta cooks, heat about 1/4 cup of olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic and stir one to two minutes, until it becomes fragrant.

Step 3) Boost heat just a tad and place one layer of shrimp into the saute pan. Do not overlap or stack the shrimp, simply fill the bottom of the pan with shrimp laid on its side until it's full. Cook for about two minutes then flip each shrimp and cook another two minutes. Remove to a plate layered in paper towels to absorb excess liquid then dust with sea salt and cracked pepper. Continue cooking shrimp, one panful at a time, until it's all done—each time removing the cooked prawns to the paper towel-lined plate and sprinkling with salt and pepper. (I've found this is truly the secret to cooking shrimp without them being soggy, chewy or otherwise overcooked. Do not leave the pan unattended, it's better to take them out a little early, rather than waiting too long!)

Step 4) Once your pasta is done cooking, drain it over the sink and return immediately to the stovetop. Add your jars of sauce and stir well. Heat over medium to medium high heat.

Step 5) Add a large scoop or two of pasta to a bowl, top with a handful of shrimp and drizzle a bit of balsamic vinegar over the top. Sprinkle on your Italian seasonings or basil, if desired. Cheers!


Taking a Shot

Every now and then, it's fun to kick back and let loose—and take a shot of tequila. That's just what the husband and I did last night at a country concert we attended with several friends. Good times were had by all!

Necklace (custom ordered) and bracelet available at my Etsy jewelry shop; no-heat hair curls tutorial here.

Hope you've had a nice weekend... with or without some tequila. 



{Daily Pics} Dallas to Possum Kingdom

Recently, we spent a good number of hours on the highways—driving from Houston to Dallas, then on to Possum Kingdom then to Keller, back to Dallas and finally landed in H-Town again. I took some fun photos en route because...

sometimes life is just good on the road.

From top to bottom:

1.) Starting out our trip with a new method of curling my hair, no heat curls! I first read about them here, and you can find the video tutorial at the bottom of this post.
2.) Every time the husband and I embark on a road trip and we're starting out in the evening, we always always get Texas double cheeseburger meals from Wendy's. Ya can't mess with tradition.
3.) Just a third of my burgeoning sunglass collection, all bought for a bangin' price including (from left to right) Oscar de la Renta, Emporio Armani, Natural and Ray-Ban.
4.) Day two of my no heat curls. They really work!
5.) A little bling on the roadway never hurt anybody... unless you count those construction workers I accidentally blinded with my toe ring. Oops.
6.) Driving through downtown Weatherford. Some places are a trip down a historical lane—literally.
7.) The cabin we stayed in with friends at Possum Kingdom. We had so much fun jet skiing, eating, drinking, listening to country music and floating around in the water.
8.) The husband and I in front of said cabin.
9.) Goodbye and farewell...


Arm Candy Giveaway!

I know all you beauties out there love some fun bracelets to stack on your wrist. Soooo... wanna win these?

Then hop on over to Sparkle Bird's blog for details on how to enter and win an armload of bling (aka six bracelets, valued at $48)!


{Daily Pics}

From top to bottom:

1.) Lounging outside the W Hotel in Dallas after mani/pedis with my mother-in-law.
2.) Crisp, cold mint-infused water is my perfect remedy for a hot afternoon. Thanks to some transplanted mint from my mom, I now have a small crop of it in the backyard!
3.) An impromptu "home happy hour" with the husband... big glasses of merlot with crackers, gouda cheese (my absolute new fave) and slices of a Kaukauna sharp cheddar cheese ball.
4.) Editing photos of new items to list on my jewelry shop (also, look for Texas Take on Facebook!) while someone keeps a watchful eye...


{Weekend Recap} Sunday Fajitas

A few days ago, the husband and I both got a hankerin' for some serious fajitas and I realized it had been forever since I'd made any myself. I thought to take a few photos of the process and ended up with our food-induced Sunday in a series of pictures.

First I mixed up a Jack and Lemonade in my new Texas State cup that I purchased at Bed, Bath & Beyond. Love it!

The husband mixed up the queso (while a big white dog head supervised)...

...and I grilled juicy, perfectly seasoned chicken breasts, which I then cut intro strips. We had all the trimmings like guacamole, rice, beans and grilled onions and peppers.

Then we had to put the dogs in their kennel, because they were way too interested in taking a bite out of our lunch!

It all culminated in a super yummy plate of food. And then we took a nap.

Hope you have had a wonderful weekend!!


{Home Decor} Autumn Hallway Table

Hi ya! The husband and I are enjoying what we call "Piddle Saturdays." No, no... get your mind out of the gutter, you rascal. The title came about because my husband often disappears into the garage on a Saturday or Sunday (generally when it's not 108F outside, thankyouverymuch) and says he's "working on stuff." Or he takes over the kitchen or living room to "get things done." But, typically speaking, there's not always evidence left behind that he actually accomplished anything. More like he's moved things around, put things—like papers—into piles or sorted through a box of random items, took note of everything there then put it all back. See? Piddling! When you sorta wander around messin' with stuff, but aren't really doing much.

*Side note: At this point, the husband would like me to note this is not what he does every weekend. Only on those rare and wonderful slow days that we've chosen to stay at home. He's very driven and motivated and often does more than I do on a weekend! :)

Although I typically need to have visible results for stuff I do, it's very rare I "piddle around." A trait most definitely inherited from my mom. So today, I put off doing the mountain of dishes that's threatening to topple over in my sink just long enough to snap a couple photos of my new "fall between" hallway table.

**Side note #2: And at this point, my husband candidly reminds me I've put it off just long enough to be three days. I'll undoubtedly be scrubbing pots in about 15 minutes.

Anyway, the newly decorated table is a tribute to our travels, since the beach theme that was on there before doesn't really apply to August, yet it's not quite time to pull out the pumpkins and fall garlands. Here's my summer theme, which I loved and was sad to see go (it all went back into my beachy guest room):

And the new "fall between" table:
 (Shot at a totally different time of day, hence the odd-colored lighting)

It took a couple tries to get a clean shot, because I mostly ended up with my dog, Shiner, in the middle. Both our labs have been (happily) spending most of the day inside because it's insanely hot in the backyard and Shiner is still taking it easy due to a couple stitches in his leg.

During our days spent in Scotland, we saw a million and one sheep in the surrounding countryside. They were all adorable and it was so strange when we first got there, but we were totally used to it by the time we left! I picked up this ceramic sheep at a charity (thrift) store for a couple (pounds) dollars.

The mini Peroni glass I actually got in Houston at a thrift store for .79 cents, but it made it onto the table next to a photo of us on a gondola ride in Venice, Italy. We drank much Peroni during our trips through Rome, Florence, Venice and Milan! (Click any of those links to read posts and see photos from our time in each city.)

This was one of two beersteins we made it home with. Praha, or Prague, was a fantastic trip and I love being reminded of it everyday when I pass by the table and spot this mug.

This frame was a $5 clearance buy at Hobby Lobby and was perfect for holding a picture of us drinking our giant litre beers in Prague's town square, right across from the astronomical clock!

And this little coaster came home with us from Germany, a reminder of the Hofbrau House we visited for authentic beer and German entertainment and the amazing buildings we saw in Munich.

Last, but most certainly not least, is a photo of us in Paris with the Eiffel Tower just steps away. It was a magical trip and we had such an amazing time there, seeing all the sights, drinking wine and doing as Parisians do. 

The calligraphy-covered books were an idea I put together for my home office in order to decorate some book shelves with a more consistent look. The hallway table itself was a $30 score from Craig's List—I love its authentic rustic qualities and rough hewn edges—and the wall hanging was a $60 find at Sam's Club (no longer available). The small propped-up plaque was on clearance at Hobby Lobby months ago, as was the gold candle holder. The iron star is from Kohl's (discontinued I think) and the lamp was also a Craig's List purchase, but similar styles are sold at Home Depot. 

So whaddya think? It's different and I love it, especially when it's something you walk by everyday and can be reminded of a different special memory every time.

Got any cool travel stories or posts about recent trips? No matter how near or far, I'd love to hear about 'em! Leave your recounts or links in the comments section!


{Shop} Beau Kisses!

Today, my friend Lisa and I spent our weekly afternoon together watching the premiere episode of Jersey Shore (um, yeah I totally watch it... it's the only reality show I keep up with!), partaking in some Starbucks tea and perusing shops in a nearby area we hadn't yet fully discovered. We always have fun together doing the simplest things...

That's us at Buffalo Wild Wings recently. I was there working on my laptop—hello free Wifi!—and texted Lisa that I wished we lived closer so we could hang out on a whim. (It had been a particularly trying afternoon.) She got off work 10 minutes later and called to tell me she was headed over. Now that's a good friend! And... as you can see, we are truly easily entertained.

Anyway, we set out to La Centerra at Cinco Ranch to visit Beau Kisses (pictured above with Lisa), a cute jewelry, gift and clothing boutique. Groupon vouchers in hand for $15 for $30 worth of merchandise, we must've spent a good hour looking at everything in that shop. But our day was absolutely made when we spotted two Texas State bracelets for just $20 apiece.

You may not know this, but it's like being Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible very difficult to find Texas State gear, aside from the actual college bookstores and shops at Texas State in San Marcos. It's even more difficult to find cute Texas State gear. Clearly, this is both mine and Lisa's alma mater. We adored going to school in the gorgeous Texas hill country. Grassy fields, towering shady trees, vintage buildings, farmhouses and barns dotted the landscape everywhere. And let's not forget the infamous Guadalupe river that circles around the bottom of campus. (We float it every summer with a group! I've got a boozy post about that coming soon.)

I graduated in May of 2006 from Texas State's School of Journalism and Mass Communication with a B.A. in Mass Communication - Print Journalism. It was one of the proudest moments in my life (the others being my wedding day, the day I officially began my own business and surely the day I will have a kiddo). I self-funded my entire four-year education, the first two years at a community college in my hometown where I earned an Associates Degree in Liberal Arts and the final two at Texas State. I completely fell in love with San Marcos and the university. I had amazing times there, learned more than I could ever share and made lifelong friendships, most notably the one I still have with Lisa. We met by chance during our quest to find new roommates and signed a lease for a town home the very next day. The rest, as they say, is history!

Old Main (pictured above) is the journalism building set atop a hill—and enough stairs to burn off a freshman 15—very nearly in the middle of campus. And it should come as no surprise since it's the foundation for Texas State University. It was an expensive and complicated structure to build in 1902 and until 1908, it was the only campus structure. It's red roof has become a telltale sign that you've entered "Bobcat country," proudly protruding from among the treetops to announce your arrival at Texas State. The university actually opened in 1903 as Southwest Texas State Normal School—a sort of training school for teachers. Over the years, it was expanded to include Normal College, Teachers College, College, University, and in 2003 to Texas State University-San Marcos.

Here's a photo of my graduation day and one of the husband and I (we were engaged at the time!) post-ceremony...

But BACK to what I was saying in the first place! (And no I haven't been drinking, I just get sidetracked sometimes. I mean, who doesn't? Nostalgia wins every time...)

Beau Kisses had Texas State necklaces, earrings and more bracelets—all with a tasteful dose of bling—and we'll definitely be back to stock up on more in the future. Plus, they occasionally get blinged-out school shirts and other cute apparel in, so I told 'em to let me know when it arrived! (There were also pieces for Texas A&M, LSU, Texas Tech and UT.)

The inside of the boutique was adorable and smelled really good thanks to the line of Tyler Candles they offer. Beau Kisses had lots of fun gifts for every occasion, from wine parties to bridal showers. Plus seasonal items, too, like the spooky Halloween goods on display at the front table—complete with spider rings and bracelets and black koozies with witty slogans like "Truth Serum" or "Elixir of Doom." There was a full collection of Pandora bracelets and jewelry, wine koozies (known as "woozies"), beautiful photo frames, trinkets and more jewelry.

And that, my friends, is the story of Beau Kisses and our Groupon shopping adventure. Oh, and the story of Texas State and my college graduation experience. Aren't you glad you stopped by for a read? I knew you would be. Now go have a cold one and enjoy the Texas sky (if you're under one)... it's Friday!
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