Figs for Dummies

Monday, July 28, 2014

When you buy a 70 year old house, you inherit all kinds of interesting things, good and bad. Like the 36 year old air conditioning unit that went out just 9 months into our ownership. Or the rope that once held a tire swing, I'm sure, now hanging so high from pine tree branch that you can't get it down and it's become a decorative accent of your back yard. Or, in this case, a giant fig tree that bears fruit even when you neglect it. 

We noticed the tree last summer when we moved in, but honestly, picking figs was the last thing on my mind. A few weeks after move-in, we had a huge storage shed in the backyard torn down, and the guys who did the demolition ended up taking every last fig off the tree for their greedy little selves. So not cool. That said, we didn't get a one last year. Not one! 

A few weeks ago, I noticed there were dozens - maybe hundreds - of tiny figs on the tree. Not one to miss an opportunity for a second year in a row, I kept watch to see when they looked ripe and ready for the picking. Unfortunately, I know nothing about figs. This girl grew up in orange groves, not fig orchards (if that's even what they're called). 

I needed to know if they were ripe, what kind do fig tree I have, how to pick them from the tree, and of course, recipes - what in the heck was I going to do with all these things?! So I did what anyone would do: googled "Figs for Dummies" - and nothing relevant came up. So disappointing. 

(Maybe the next time someone googles that phrase this blog post will come up. Not that I'm a wealth if knowledge, but they'll know they're not alone.)

After watching several enthusiastic fig lovers in YouTube tutorials, I was set to harvest. I couldn't get over how many little figgies were on my tree! My poor, neglected fig tree that we haven't so much as trimmed since we moved in just keeps giving! 

With my first bunch, I gave most of the figs away to neighbors and co-workers, but not before I made this delicious salad. 
1-2 small figs, cut into fourths or eighths
Spiced pecans
Crumbled goat cheese
Mixed greens
Balsamic vinegar and olive oil 

Mix together and serve in a chilled bowl. Even better when paired with a crisp white wine! 

I've since gathered a few more recipes that I want wait to try. Goodness knows I'll have bountiful harvests for the next few weeks! And if you have a fig recipe that's worth a try, holla at me :) 


Three years in a flash

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


It seems impossible that I walked down the aisle to you, my groom, three years ago today. In some ways it seems like you've been my husband and I your wife for as long as I can remember; in other (and many more ways), it seems like we were just standing at the altar, beginning our life together. I'll never forget the first steps I took as Mrs. Alex Hamilton: as we turned to face the congregation, my arm linked in yours, I had the simple thought of "Here we go!" 

And my, how we've gone! In three short years, we've sold a house and bought a house, moved cities, and both changed jobs multiple times. We bought a car, got a puppy, and taken some of the best vacations of my life. We've learned from each other and grown to appreciate the little things that might drive others crazy. We're a team; a united front. We stick up for each other, love each other unconditionally, and can make each other laugh like no one else quite can. 

God knew what He was doing when he introduced us nearly 7 years ago. I am thankful that I get to do life with you: there is no one else I'd want by my side for all of the little triumphs, bad days, overwhelming joys, or everyday happenings. You're my One, my Only. Happy Anniversary - I love you! 


My Kind Of Town

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

We celebrated the Fourth of July in a very American city: Chicago!

Our 4-day trip to Chicago was a whirlwind of decadent food, constant walking, boat rides, skyscrapers, and Midwestern hospitality, topped off with absolutely perfect weather. We arrived on Thursday, and the temps never got above 70. This was a very welcome change of climate coming from famously hot Columbia, SC! 

Although this trip was in celebration of our 3rd Anniversary, we invited some friends of ours, Franklin and Kendall, along. The four of us had a blast!

Since I lived in Chicago for a short time (7 years ago - which doesn't even seem possible) and Alex, Franklin and Kendall had never been, I minimally played tour guide and reminisced about my days as a Windy City girl. 

We stayed at The Drake, which I highly, highly recommend - it's an old, gorgeous, plush hotel on the Magnificent Mile and they treated us like royalty! They even had champagne waiting on us in our room when we arrived. Definitely could get used to that!

The Drake: so posh
The first night we were there, we walked two blocks down the street and 95 floors up to eat at the Signature Room in the Hancock Center. The food was good, but the view is breathtaking. If looking out over Lake Michigan while you dine isn't enough, just take a trip to the Ladies' room to see the best view of the city you'll ever see.
The views from the Signature Room in the John Hancock Center

Happy birthday, America!
We hit all the staples in Chicago: Art Institute, Field Museum, Millennium Park and the bean, State Street, Mag Mile, Navy Pier. Probably the single best thing we did was take a boat ride on the Fourth of July on Lake Michigan and the Chicago River. The day was bright and sunshiny, the views of the city were magnificent, and it just felt so patriotic!

Pizza/Gibson's/Prohibition Cocktails
We also overindulged in food...really, really good food. Of course, you can't visit Chicago without eating deep dish pizza. We hit Lou Malnati's on Friday night and it was worth the hour and a half wait for that amazing Chicago-style pizza! On Saturday, we had one of the best meals I've ever had at Gibson's Steakhouse. Huge steaks cooked to perfection, jumbo asparagus, and the largest pieces of cake I've ever seen - all of it was outstanding. For a nightcap, we went to Coq d'Or in the Drake Hotel, which opened when Prohibition was repealed in 1933. 

I was sad to leave the city and head home to SC on Sunday, but now that Alex has been, I think he's hooked! I know we'll be back again soon!


From the mountains, to the prairies, to the oceans

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Hey y'all - happy almost Independence Day! In the name of the US of A and her impending birthday, I thought a little patriotic theme music suited this post! I took the entire week off this week and BOY am I glad I did. The last 3 weeks at work were so stressful that my ulcers got a little PO'd and Crohn's threatened to rain on my vacay parade. (Thankfully, with a little prednisone, I'm keeping a full-fledged flare at bay!)

When I take a full week off of work, I intend to do something good with it. I'm all for some QT at home and such...but I'm the type who can't truly relax at home. Just ask my husband: he's always telling me to sit down and relax at the end of the day. Instead? I'm roaming around the house, doing a little thing here or there because, let's face it, there is always something to do, amiright?? #typeAproblems

So, a maximized week built of two mini-vacays and one bigger vacay fit the bill!


June 27-29
We'd had a trip to the NC mountains planned for last weekend for about 3 months with 3 of our favorite couples, who I refer to as our Greenville Friends (all four of us ladies worked together in Greenville, which is how we all met). Now, not even 5 years after I first met them, we live in Columbia, another couple lives in Atlanta, and two couples remain in Greenville - though no one works at the agency anymore. Regardless, these girls were put in my life at the right place and time and we have a blast when we can all get together! Plus, our hubbies and dogs get along, too - it's really quite the ideal scenario.

One of the couples couldn't make it, so it ended up being just six of us. We headed to my mom's cabin in NC for some R&R, adult beverages, catch-up time, and one fantastic view.
And - vacation in underway!
It's amazing how a 2-hour drive up I-26 can make a difference of 20 degrees cooler and about 1,000 times more relaxed! 
The group!

Peaceful and serene - seriously what I needed!
Love these ladies!

Amos and Ellie played alllllll weekend

Spending time with good friends is so good for the soul, no? I think there is actual healing power in it!

On Sunday afternoon, we packed up, washed sheets and towels, and headed back toward Columbia. 


So "prairie" might be a stretch, but go with me here: little house on the prairie? As in, ye olde homestead? Ha...anyway...

After heading southeast for 2 hours toward home, we stopped by our house in Columbia to re-pack for the beach and to water our new plants (we spent a few hours planting these 4 little jasmine bushes 2 weekends ago, so Lord knows we aren't about to let 'em die). As you can see, they desperately need water in this insufferable Columbia heat.

I really hope these babies make it!
The full effect of the DIY yard project can't be seen in this pic, but I'll write about it soon. I have to say, barring the possible death of the jasmine, the project was really easy and made a huge impact on our back yard!


June 29 - July 2

After we unpacked, repacked, watered plants, and made a grocery store run, we were off once again, continuing our tour of I-26 in South Carolina. After nearly 3 hours, we arrived at a little slice of paradise: Edisto Island Beach.

Edisto is a sleepy, idyllic beach town, the kind where there are no high-rise condos, no hotels, and no beach chair rentals. There are about 4 real restaurants and exactly one grocery store (which was a Piggly Wiggly until earlier this year when it sadly became a BI-LO) that is always packed. People ride their bikes or golf carts around town, and you have to drink bottled water or fill up jugs at the fire station or else you're drinking salt-ish "beach water" from the tap. In a way, it's like going back in time. I love to visit because I love imagining Alex's childhood summer days in the same beach house, and other than the addition of new houses and a few retail shops, the island is almost the same as when he was a kid.

My girls love the beach! 

Ellie could chase a tennis ball into the water all day long

This year, we spent 3 nights in Edisto with Alex's parents. My days consisted of: going to the beach for a few hours, dogs in tow, feeling the perfect salt breeze on my skin while I re-read an old favorite book; coming back to the house and laying around, reading some more on the screen porch; showering and enjoying the freedom of no hair dryer or real make-up; cocktail hour wine accompanied by an array of appetizers; late dinners with the primary protein of shrimp; playing Rook with my hubby and teaching his parents how to play; sleeping soundly at night and waking with minimal worries. Truly, it was wonderful. 
An Edisto staple: Lowcountry boil

Being all matchy-matchy on the beach


Today, to cap off our whirlwind week and to celebrate our 3rd Anniversary a few days early, we're off to what is probably my favorite city in America: Chicago! I haven't been since 2007, when I lived and worked there for a few months. I can't wait to visit and to show Alex around!

In the meantime, happy 4th of July!


Things to look forward to this summer!

Friday, June 13, 2014

So excited that this week is behind me! Seems like every work week has its own big hurdle to jump, and this one was no exception. I keep telling myself that if I can just make it the week of July 4th, I'll have smooth sailing for awhile! (By the way, this is the time of year I always question my decision not to be a teacher. Anyone else??)

The main reason that I'm pumped for the week of July 4th is that we have 3 mini-vacays (see below) that we're squeezing into our week off! That, plus a few other fun things and this summer is looking so bright, I'll have to wear shades. Nope, not even sorry for that lame attempt at a funny.

Besides the fact that we are on our way to Florida right this minute for a very fun family reunion weekend at the beach, the following things are helping me get through the next few weeks at work:

ONE. A weekend at the cabin with two other couples. And these are some of my all-time favorite couples, and friends we never get to see. Pretty scenery + pretty cool people = a really fun weekend.

Mountain views melt away stress

TWO. The day after we get back from the mountains, we'll head down to Edisto Beach, SC to spend a few days at the beach. The girls LOVE Edisto, and it's such a great place to unwind.
Two summers ago at Edisto

THREE. After spending a few days at the beach the week of July 4th, we've planned to take a trip to what is probably my all-time favorite city: Chicago! Alex has never been, and I haven't been back since the year I lived there in between undergrad and grad school, so it's bound to be a fun trip! Can't WAIT to be back in that city!
Chi Town

FOUR. At some point, we have to come back to reality...and the reality of our backyard. It's in need of a facelift. This week, we had 1,575 POUNDS of pea gravel delivered, plus 5 landscaping posts and 15 pavers. We've got a little project planned and although I know it will be a lot of work, I can't wait to see the final product!

That's a lot of landscaping product.

FIVE. Snowcones. Or, more accurately, "snowballs." This new snowball place just opened in town, and I had my first experience Thursday. Let me tell you, it's the stuff addictions are made of. And there are over 100 flavors to choose from, and you get two flavors on each snowball, and the shaved ice is so amazingly soft, and the whole experience is just so...summer. Definitely looking forward to trying a few more flavors this summer!
This could be dangerous. 
Happy Friday!

Linking up with
 AprilChristinaNatasha and Darci

5 outfits for summer

Friday, June 6, 2014

I'm not sure about where you are, but here in Columbia, SC, the summer heat is full-on. No stopping summer now - nope, she's here and she's hot.

Over Memorial Day weekend, I did some shopping to update my summer apparel, but there are still a few pieces that I'd like to add. Last summer, I didn't buy hardly any summer pieces since we were moving. I was more in a "If I don't love it, get rid of it" mode. So maybe that's why I'm craving some new additions to ye olde summer wardrobe this year.

Here's what I'm lusting after (if only that dang A/C unit hadn't busted - I'd have a lot more money in my clothing fund right now!)

One. I am obsessed with these Lilly Pulitzer beach pants! They look so comfy and anything Lilly is up my alley. I just need to figure out which print I want...which is, of course, the hard part.
Lilly Lazy Summer Day

Two. I need some neon! Neon takes me back to first-ish grade (circa 1991), so for the nostalgia alone, I dig it. 

Neon Summer Work Casual

Neon Summer Work Casual by klhamilton 

Three. I want a new maxi, and this one is gorgeous. It's classy and fun and summery and nautical all rolled into one (so, basically perfect). 

Striped Summer Day into Night

Striped Summer Day into Night by klhamilton

Four. What summer wardrobe is complete without a bathing suit? I haven't bought a new suit in nearly 3 years (since buying for my Honeymoon!), so it's time to refresh the swimsuit drawer. 

Monogrammed Beach Day

Five. I love tunics - I can't get enough. They're flattering, comfortable, and easy to wear to work, to dinner, to the beach, to Target, etc. What's not to love?
Summer Tunic Dressy Day

Summer Tunic Dressy Day by klhamilton 

And there you have it: the missing pieces to my perfect summer closet! 

Have one wonderful weekend!


Linking up with
 AprilChristinaNatasha and Darci

Happy 10th birthday, Penny! {pupcakes recipe}

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

My little darling strawberry blond baby turned 10 yesterday! It feels like yesterday that I was 19 (she was an early 20th birthday gift) and moving into my first apartment before sophomore year of college. She was so small that I put her in the bathtub while we were moving things in, and she couldn't jump out - only scream at the top of her lungs!

This little girl has been at my side for most of life's big moments so far: college and grad school; living in multiple places in Florida, Chicago, and South Carolina; meeting, dating, and marrying Alex; a handful of job changes; building a house, selling that house, and buying another one; numerous vacations (at one point, she was a frequent flier); and putting up with her crazy sister Ellie when we decided to add a golden to the family. Through it all, she's been my little sidekick and my constant. She makes me smile every single day! 

To celebrate Penny turning double digits, I (obviously) had to throw a pawty for her. The guest list was short - just us Hamiltons, since most of her doggie friends don't live here - but the cupcakes, pupcakes, and gifts did not disappoint!
Mama's girl/Family Photo/Daddy's princess

A tower of pupcakes made Penny and Ellie two pleased pups!
Alex and I couldn't be left out, so I made cupcakes for us (with princess pink frosting, of course)

I considered ordering Penny a little cake from a local barkery, but opted instead to make her some pupcakes: nothing says "I love you" like homemade, right? 

I found a recipe online but tweaked it a little due to what I had on hand. These were super easy to make and the girls devoured them. Luckily, we have ample leftovers so they will be enjoying them all week! 

Pawty Pupcakes Recipe
1 egg
1/4 c. peanut butter (I used regular 'ole peanut butter)
1/5 c. vegetable oil
1/3 c. carrots, finely chopped or sliced
1/2 c. flour (I used regular white flour, not wheat)
1/2 tsp. baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a mini-muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray. Mix all ingredients together and scoop into muffin tin. Bake for 20 minutes. Yields a baker's dozen mini pupcakes! (And yes, I did garnish with a faux candle made from a paper straw and tissue paper. Safety first!)
Amaze your dog with your pupcakes skillz

I've always had dogs, but Penny has blessed me like no other pup so far. She is truly my little puppy love and I'm so, so glad she was placed in my life nearly ten years ago!

Praying for many more years of Penny making me smile! Happy birthday, pumpkin!


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