Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Back to School Madness

Back to school has a different meaning to me than it does to probably most people.  I don't have children and I don't work at a schoold.  So there are no "first day of school" outfits or "first day jitters".  For me back to school means that all of my school projects are coming to a head and HAVE TO BE DONE for the first day.  School projects are always super crazy b/c they can not start until school is out in May (unless it is an all new, ground up building) and they have to be completed by the first of August, when school starts back.  And if you are doing work in the classrooms you have to be done in time for teachers to actually move ALL their stuff back in.  So, needless to say come the end of July/first of August, our office gets crazy busy.  We are fielding calls from the contractors, doing punch lists {where you walk through the project and write down everything that still needs to be done}, and trying to avoid any last minute problems. 

I want to share one project with you that is almost complete.  We took an old gymnasium and turned it into an Early Childhood Center that has 3 classrooms and a large activity space.  One of the classrooms is their reading room, complete with a "Reading Treehouse".  This is something that I came up with in Sketchup {a 3D redering program that we use}, sold it to the client AND THEN had to figure out how to build it.  Here is the Sketchup Rendering:

Once the client approved the concept then it was on to figuring out how it all goes together.  Many people get the idea that interior designers simply choose paint colors and carpet, which we do, but that is not all.  Here is the next step in the process....Construction Drawings:

Construction Drawings tell the contractors what to do...it's their map.  You have to call out every last detail because they can't read your mind and they won't call every 5 seconds with questions.  Everything from the carpet, wall base, the metal on the treehouse roof, it all has to be specified.

Here are some more renderings of the ECC space...



Art Classroom

The client wanted the space to be welcoming and kid friendly.  I think we have accomplished that.  There is nothing worse {in my opinion} than a big white box of a room....white floor, white walls, white ceilings, cold, cold, and cold! 

So, check back for finished photographs....they are almost complete and it is looking AWESOME! 

Thursday, August 19, 2010

GAP Groupon!!!

today's groupon is a $50 GAP card for only $25!  hard to beat that. 

go there.....now!

Monday, August 16, 2010

what's cookin' this week

Blackened Salmon & Jambalaya
Chicken Tikka Masala, Rice & Garlic Naan
Jerk Chicken
Pita Pizzas

any good recipes that you have to share????

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

recipe {sesame beef stir-fry}

this recipe is one of mymichael's favorites.  it is from the "eating for life" cookbook and it's a healthy, super fast and easy, one pan meal.

2 portions brown rice {about 1/2 cup uncooked}
2 portions lean ground beef {about 1/2 lb}
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 green onions, sliced {you can substitute with other onions}
1 cup broccoli slaw {found near bagged salads in produce department}
1 cup napa cabbage, shredded
1 tablespoon lite soy sauce
crushed red pepper flakes, to taste

1.  prepare brown rice according to its package directions.

2.  while the rice is cooking, ina medium skillet or wok, brown the ground beef over medium heat until no longer pink.  i season with garlic salt, black pepper and kosher salt as i am cooking.  remove the beef from the skillet, drain and set aside.

3.  heat sesame oil in the skillet over medium-high heat.  add garlic and onions; stir-fry for 2 minutes.  add broccoli slaw and napa cabbage; stir-fry 2 minutes.  add rice and soy sauce; stir-fry 2 more minutes.

4.  return the cooked ground beef to the skillet with the rice and vegetable mixture and season with red pepper flakes, to taste.  stir until ingredients are well combined and heated through, about 2 minutes.

5.  divide into 2 portions {double or triple if needed}, serve and enjoy!

we give this recipe

Monday, August 2, 2010


well, i have made my way through my london photos.  i'm still trying to figure out the best way to show these.  directly above this post you will see a small thumbnail of the photos.  you click the link below and it will take you to a gallery to look at them.  or you can go here:


warning....this is a long post! 

london was the first of three stops on our european vacation.  it reminded me of a large city in the united states....except the people had thick accents.  it was super clean, very pretty and i totally did not feel like i was in a foreign country.  i have no idea what the people do that live there, but they make a ton of money!  the cars we saw on a regular basis were bmw's, mercede's, ferrari's, lamborghini's, audi's and saabs.  i mean, what do these people do?

we arrived in london around noon or a little after and we had dinner reservations for st. john's at 10:00 pm that night. it was going to be a long day considering none of us had really slept at all on our 12 hour flight from atlanta. our hotel was a bust. the reviews online were bad, so we weren't completely surprised. our room was on the "mezzanine" level...we had to go down stairs through 10 different doors and then up half a flight of stairs to get there. there was no air conditioning and our window was about 18"x 24" with absolutely no air flow. i asked if we could get a room that wasn't on the mezzanine level so we could at least have a bigger window. they told us they could move us the next day.

after we checked in we headed to the benjamin franklin house for a tour.  come to find out there was a gay and lesbian rally going on, so many of the streets around that area were closed.  the festivities were going on in trafalgar square...tons of people and a huge stage set up with performers and everything.  after the benjamin franklin house we found the closest pub and had our first meal which was fish and chips...super yummy and a great way to start the trip out.   after that, and fueling up on starbucks {which were on every single corner}, we hit the streets to look around.  we walked by buckingham palace and through hyde park.  people love to just hang out in public parks.  tons of people just lounging around and listening to the orchestra that was playing.  oh, and chris almost got run over by a cab....literally.  the whole "driving on the opposite side of the street" thing really gets confusing.  we were about to cross the street and we were all stopped, he looked the correct way, in the states, for crossing the street and took a step out as a cab was flying around the corner.  i screamed "chris" and grabbed at his arm...he felt the air off the cab!  the cab stopped and the driver got out, we were thinking he was going to cuss us out and try to start something, but he was genuinely worried and checking to make sure chris was okay!  luckily he was....it would have been the beginning of a long and not fun vacation had he not been!

our dinner that night was at st. johns.  michael had heard about it from anthony bourdain's show.  he has a list of restaurants that you HAVE TO EAT AT before you die.....so by golly we figured we had better try out the #1 restaurant on the list.  it was good, but by no means the best restaurant i have ever eaten at.  we did try some very interesting things though.  michael and chris did most of that, but i figured i had better at least try it.  for an appetizer they got bone marrow and pigs cheek.  then chris had ox heart for his dinner {tasted like steak}.  i tasted....not my faves....but at least i tried!

we took a cab to dinner, and boy are their cab rides expensive!  b/c of this we decided we would either take the tube or a bus back to the hotel.  unfortunately the tube closed before we could get there, so they told us to go up the street to the next bus stop.  we did and the right bus never came, so we walked to another one and waited and the right bus never came.  we continued to do this for oh probably an hour and a half...walk a little, wait, walk a little, wait.  eventually we found a bus that would take us almost to our hotel.  so, after a 2 hour commute we were all beat to say the least.  none of us really know how much we walked that first day or how long we were actually awake.

the next day we did the double decker bus tour.  it was great b/c it stopped at all the sites and we could get on and off as we pleased.  we saw all the typical sites around london, buckingham palace, parliament, big ben, etc.  we also took a river cruise where we had a great view of the tower bridge, house of parliament, and the london eye.  that evening we stopped in at another english pub for a great dinner.  the guys enjoyed some guinness as well.

the following day we did a tour to windsor castle, stonehenge and bath.  the castle was beautiful and amazing.  the gardens were breathtaking.  stonehenge is literally in the middle of nowhere and people still have no idea how it was really constructed.  lots of speculations, but no hard evidence.  it's amazing that it is still around after all of these years.  the town of bath was a pleasent surprise.  we knew we were going to a roman bath, which i thought was going to be all by itself, kind of like stonehenge.  boy was i wrong.  it was a whole town that was adorable.  you could easily spend days exploring that town.  beautiful flowers everywhere, great bakeries, etc.  we got to see an old abbey and then walk through a roman bath.  it's hard to believe that something has been around that long.  they said the water is full of bateria and could possibly have been there for 10,000 years.  i tried to push michael in, but wasn't successful. =)

once we got back to london we ate at a moroccan restaurant.  we were seated in a back corner room....low table and benches with pillows...cool light fixtures and rich colors.  the drinks and food were wonderful and our meal was complete with a belly dancer!  woo hoo!  after dinner michael and i went to take night pictures of big ben, parliament, and the london eye.  we were cutting it close on the tube closing, so we literally only had about 5 minutes for me to snap the pictures and then we had to run the half mile back to the tube station to jump on before it closed.  we made it, barely.  i love public transportation!  wish we had it here in t-town! 

the next day we were paris bound....i still have lots to go through on paris so stay tuned!

what's cookin' this week

wow, it has been a while since i have done one of these!  this week i am trying a few new recipes thanks to my new august cooking light magazine....

blackened salmon {from sam's} with vegetable couscous
beef stir-fry {from body 4 life} 

what's on your menu this week?
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