Category Archives: Homey Roads

Gift Ideas for Under $100 for Friends & Family

My_Favorite_Things_Linkup_2014
It’s the last week of the Favorite Things link-up with Cheers Y’allA. Liz AdventuresMiss Dixie, and Southern Style with the topic of gift ideas for under $100 for friends and family. Merry merry! Gift Ideas for Under $100
1 Lara Casey Notepads (the perfect size with the sweetest messages)
2 Thermapen (great for both girls and grillin’ guys – just maybe not in pink!)
3 Headphone Ear Muffs (for the winter runner in your life – I have several)
4 Languiole Steak Knives (who doesn’t love rainbow steak knives?)
5 Waterproof Speaker (a nice addition for your TSwift shower-singing friend…or husband)
6 Charitable Gift Donation (an incredibly personal and powerful gift)
 7 Personalized Children’s Puzzle (love this one for kidlets!)
And although these have been about gifts and things, always remember the true reason for the season. Until next time…
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Stocking Stuffers (for he & she)

My_Favorite_Things_Linkup_2014It’s that time again! For round 2 of the “My Favorite Things” link up with Cheers Y’allA. Liz AdventuresMiss DixieSouthern Stylethe feature is for stocking stuffers. So without further ado, here are some of my picks for both she and he! Stocking Stuffers for her
The all time best running socks, some JCrew fuzzies to keep warm {for returning to what I can only assume will be a polar vortex}, Nespresso coffee capsules, an adorable contact case (I currently have the pink, but they have a ton of colors available!), and the ever useful Tar-jay gift cardStocking Stuffers for him
 These caps (and frankly, lots of their accessories) are perfect for game day, what dude doesn’t need adjustable collar stays, giant ice molds for the perfect Old Fashioned, golf balls {if you know Barr, well this one is a given} ;), and the equally useful Knot Standard gift card (check out their stuff – great deals on well-made, tailored clothes)
Until next time….Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!!

Raindrops on Roses…

I am really excited about a link up with some of my favorite blog/bloggers! This holiday theme of “These Are a Few of My Favorite Things” is brought to you by AprilElise, and Zelle (definitely check out their sweet blogs…they’re all worth a look!)
My_Favorite_Things_Linkup_2014

This week’s link up post is for my favorite things – check out a few of them below: a bit eclectic, but I think there’s some fun ideas in there.

These are a few of my favorite things...

1 / Kangaroo Christmas Ornament
Our Christmas tree last year was a little bare (being in Dubai), but I did have a great Burj Khalifa ornament, which was a great way to commemorate our time there. I’d love to find a great Aussie ornament to remember our time down under for years to come! This one at Etsy was adorable, and at $24, affordable to boot.
2 / Black & White Photograph 
Barr and I love the idea of having some simple, black and white shots of cities in which we’ve lived in our home one day in Charlotte (Inshallah, y’all – we hope to be home owners in 2015!), and I’ve admired this photograph from Gulf Photo Plus in Dubai since I took a photography class at this studio last December.
3 / Rag & Bone Newbury Boots
A bit of a splurge (okay a big splurge), but these boots are a classic (and so comfy)! A camel color or deep brown would be ideal for returning back to the chilly North Carolina winter.
4 / 2015 Hymn Calendar
A friend of mine sent me this gorgeous calendar from a cute Etsy shop: Little Things Studio. I love paper products, calendars, and hymns so you can’t really go wrong with this little gift!
5 / Nespresso Inissia Machine
I’ve mentioned my love affair with Australian coffee before, and I think that espresso based coffee drinks have forever ruined my old coffee machine for me. Being able to make delicious espresso at home (this Nespresso machine is SO easy to use), combined with a milk frother, and I’ve got an at home flat white, long mac, or cappuccino – no flight to Perth necessary!
6 / Phaidon Cookbook
I’m a sucker for a good cookbook, and yes, I know you can look up recipes online quickly (and cheaply), but in addition to a good basic cookbook, Phaidon makes gorgeous texts for the kitchen.
7 / Poppy Lissiman Clutch
Straight out of Perth, Poppy Lissiman is a fab designer making international waves. Her clutches are colorful, fun, and a bit irreverent – I’m digging the “Eye Heart You” bag.
8 / Book Bag
I love to read. I love fun bags. Need I say more?
So what do y’all think of the choices? What are some of your favorite things? Feel free to link up in the fun as well 🙂 Until next time…

The one with the bourbon spiced cupcakes

What do you make for the person who doesn’t like your traditional sweets, or, heaven forbid (!): birthday cake!? If you have someone in you life that is like my husband (who would sooner have a bowl of fruit to a buttercream frosted, chocolate cake…weirdo), I have a different recipe for you.

Let it be known this is me…not Barr 😉

Trying to steer clear of  something overly sweet, I baked a spice [cup]cake, with a splash of bourbon (for a Kentucky boy, of course!), topped with cinnamon dusted cream cheese frosting – a bit of an adult twist on a fall classic. Although Barr’s September birthday doesn’t fall into an autumn birthday this year (how weird is that? His birthday is in spring this year), the nutmeg, cinnamon, and star anise in these cupcakes definitely stir up fall-type tastes and feelings…almost makes me yearn for falling leaves, Halloween, and football season. Ill take the warmer temperatures and blooming spring though – no complaints here!

The finished product!

The finished product!

So without further ado, here’s the recipe as adapted from the Maker’s Mark site. Enjoy!

Recipe makes 1 dozen cupcakes

Cupcakes – yields 1 dozen

1/4 cup your favorite bourbon

1 cup all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 star anise

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup milk

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a cupcake tin with cupcake liners. Sift all dry ingredients together: flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, star anise, and nutmeg. Put aside for later use.

2. Cream the butter and brown sugar. Beat until light and fluffy.

3. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition and beating well.

4. Add the syrup and mix well.

5. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and milk to the batter.

6. Add the bourbon, stirring well with a spatula. Fill the cupcake liners almost to the top and bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

7. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting. Sprinkle frosted cupcakes with a bit of cinnamon, if desired.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting – yields ~2 cups

1-1/2 cups cream cheese (12 ounces), softened

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1. In a large bowl or stand mixer, beat the softened cream cheese well, using a wooden spoon or paddle attachment.

2. Add the softened butter. Continue to beat until well mixed in with the cream cheese.

3. Add the powdered sugar, cinnamon and salt. Beat until well incorporated.

Until next time…

Aussie Abode

After our many, many, many moves over our comparatively short marriage (Durham to Atlanta, Atlanta to Charlotte house #1, Charlotte house #1 to Charlotte House #2, Charlotte to Dubai, Dubai to Perth all in just shy of 3 years), we’ve become expert movers- I should hope so anyway! 🙂 Thankfully, this move was relatively easy as we didnt have to fuss with any furniture and our new landlords have been gems (this hasnt always been the case for us!) Yay for a move without having to pack or unpack boxes!!

Our new house is in a southern suburb of Perth – we actually have closet space and a non-gally kitchen (with a gas stove! And a KitchenAid mixer!) There’s a little “village” right around the corner with a grocery, butcher, coffee shops, boutiques, a chemist, etc, as well as plenty of bike and running paths. The location (so far) has been ideal. And until we get a car, there is a bus stop right around the corner – easy!

Without further ado, here are a handful of snaps:

Master bedroom

Master bedroom

Master bath

Master bath

Front living room/parlor (?)

Front living room/parlor (?)

A REAL kitchen - complete with a KitchenAid mixer :)

A REAL kitchen – complete with a KitchenAid mixer 🙂

The pool! A little chilly for this time of year, hence it is covered

The pool! A little chilly for this time of year, hence it is covered

Backyard seating

Backyard seating

Updated Header!

Exciting aesthetic news for Abby’s Roads – an updated header! You may recognize the lovely work of Karen Ferris (KJane Studio shop on Etsy); Karen also painted the picture of the Dubai skyline, Barr, Dash and I from the previous blog header.

I emailed her when the move to Perth was confirmed to see if she could do another lovely skyline of our new city, and of course, I wasn’t disappointed with the finished product (no surprises there!) 🙂 I’m looking forward to hanging the framed version next to the Dubai skyline.

The Perth skyline by Karen Ferris of KJane Studio

The Perth skyline by Karen Ferris of KJane Studio

I love how she captured the iconic black swans paddling down the river that bears their name (the Swan River), as well as the festive ferris wheel from Fremantle (a bit south of Perth), and the fabulous greens and blues that I’m coming to associate with this lush town.

We’re moving into our new place (and out of the hotel!) later today – I can’t wait to unpack and cook a real dinner. Ill definitely post a few pictures later this week of our Aussie abode. Until next time…

Letters from Home

Everything is so electronic these days – and dont get me wrong, I enjoy getting immediate news, updates, pictures, videos, books, shopping, etc, etc, etc (I mean, hello, a blog couldnt be anymore e-newsy! All things considered, though, a handwritten letter (or even an addressed envelope) goes a long way in 2014!

Check out our newly redecorated refrigerator – full of happy memories, pictures, Christmas cards, and invitations from friends and family stateside (and this wasnt even all of them that my mom brought to Dubai with her from Houston!) Seeing these each time I open the fridge (ahem, a lot), means more than I can express electronically 😉

photo-21

Until next time…

 

Local Flavor – Aina Lifestyle & Accessories

Thank you for your outpouring of support and kind words regarding aid in the Philippines as well as for the safety of my little sister – she’s a good egg! 🙂

Switching gears as we (Barr & I anyway) head into the weekend, I wanted to write a quick post and review on some pillows I recently purchased from Aina – a local/regional lifestyle and accessories brand. I mentioned these pillows a few weeks ago as the potentially perfect accompaniment to our previously bare sofa and living room, and I took the plunge and purchased two fabulous Dalla/Combining Cultures pillows!

The Combining Cultures pillow (it's two of the same pillow, with different patterns per side)

The Combining Cultures pillow (it’s two of the same pillow, with different patterns per side)

Aina

Aina

Aina, on their Facebook page (where you can view more of the amazing textiles, accessories and home goods), describes this pillow as such: Aina uses the “Ajrak” – a unique form of block printing from Pakistan, and combines it with the “Dalla” – the dirham symbol of the UAE, to create a fusion with the use of embroidery. This cushion illustrates character, culture and  “منشأ”.

Ajrak Inspiration

Dalla inspiration – the 1 Dirham coin of the UAE

A traditional Dalla pot

The fabric is soft and the pillows are well constructed – they’re something that we would never be able to find in the states and comes with it, a really special backstory. We’re really pleased with them! The pillows aside, Sidrah (founder and director of the brand), was a delight to work with…and so personable! Customer service was top notch!

The Dalla side of the pillow

The Dalla side of the pillow

The Ajrak side of the pillow

The Ajrak side of the pillow

If you’re interested in checking out the lovely work by Aina, head on over to the Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook pages – you can contact the fabulous Sidrah at aina.dxb@gmail.com for more information on pricing and ordering information. Until next time…

A great addition to our living room!

A great addition to our living room!

K.Jane Studio

Each time you visit this blog, you have the supreme privilege of viewing some amazing work. No, not my ramblings and shoddy photographs, but rather the lovely watercolor of my husband, dog and I painted by Karen Ferris, of K.Jane Studio.

Karen is the mother of a classmate and friend of Barr’s from business school, and from her daughter’s blog (a fellow expat), I saw Karen’s ethereal and gorgeous work. While Barr and I don’t have much art, what art we do have, I really like to have a story to it, to be personal; the painting you see in the header of the blog (and now framed and hanging in our Dubai home) is just that.

The finished product hanging here in Dubai!

The finished product hanging here in Dubai!

I contacted Karen previously for two other pieces for family and friends (see below), and liked both of those so much, I selfishly wanted one for our home as well. When we learned we were moving to Dubai, I knew what I wanted to commission Karen to paint. Here are some images of the work in progress – she is so diligent, considerate, communicative, and creative when it comes to the artistic process:

The pose inspiration

The pose inspiration – photo c/o Angela Stott Photography

The layout - work in progress (although Dash isn't with us in Dubai, he's here in spirit and watercolor!)

The layout – work in progress (although Dash isn’t with us in Dubai, he’s here in spirit and watercolor!)

The sketch - work in progress

The sketch – work in progress

The piece definitely has a story, and we will forever treasure this work.

Now I mentioned that Karen did two other pieces: one of my in-laws’ lovely  home and another of one of my bestest friends’ wedding bouquet. As you can see, Karen is no one trick pony! 🙂

My in-laws' home

My in-laws’ home

The finished product of my in-laws' home

The finished product of my in-laws’ home

My lovely friends Mike and Allison - along with Allison's ahhhhmazing bouquet :)

My dear friends Mike and Allison – along with Allison’s ahhhhmazing bouquet 🙂

 

The finished product of the wedding bouquet

The finished product of the wedding bouquet

If you are in the market for a exquisite, one of a kind piece of art (even if you’re not in the market!), I can’t praise Karen of K.Jane Studio enough. Definitely check out her Etsy and Facebook pages for more of her amazing pieces, and I can promise that from the first moment you start working with this kind, thoughtful and talented woman, you will be back for more!

Dubai Digs II

Here are the final few snaps of our apartment – the master bed and bathroom – exciting stuff over here 🙂

The bedroom is still a bit bare in my opinion: we need to hang some pictures/mirror and add a rug, but it’s a work in progress! Here is a little mood board of my psuedo inspiration for the room – Barr and I both love the colors and patterns of Ming and Delft pottery – it’s just so clean and classic! Here’s what we’re kind of working with…

General bedroom inspiration - love the colors and patterns!

General bedroom inspiration – love the colors and patterns!

And here’s our current reality – obviously we have a ways to go (I hate these lamps):

Part of the bed. Some notes: if I could monogram everything I would, yes we have a mini Dash, and yes I know that picture is probably too small for that wall but it matched my motif inspiration!

Part of the bed. Some notes: if I could monogram everything I would, yes we have a mini Dash, and yes I know that picture is probably too small for that wall but it matched my motif inspiration!

The dresser and entry way leading to the kitchen/living room - note the slam dunk of a lamp I found!

The dresser and entry way leading to the kitchen/living room – note the slam dunk of a lamp I found! Would love to find a statement mirror for over the dresser…

Bedroom - Barr will cringe when he sees that I left my bathroom and his hangers on the bed, but hey, this is real life here

Bedroom – Barr will cringe when he sees that I left my bathroom and his hangers on the bed, but hey, this is real life here

It’s also an interesting balance to strike in our apartment here as we of course want it to feel homey and comfortable, but at time same time, when we move back to the states (eventually), we’ll be limited on the furniture and knick knacks we can bring back – so it’s just deciding what and how to spend our money on those sorts of things! A silk rug and a local piece of art are on our wish list.

Here are the two areas of the apartment that we’ve really struggled with: the closet and bathroom as both are quite a bit smaller than we’ve previously had. It was initially an adjustment, but we’ve found that it’s really not as bad as we thought.

Where some of my shoes live. I dont have a problem; YOU have a problem! (Okay, I have a problem)

Where some of my shoes live. I dont have a problem; YOU have a problem! (Okay, I have a problem)

The closet is two sided, divided in half by a sliding mirror door.

The closet is two sided, divided in half by a sliding mirror door.

One side of the bathroom (note the toilet seat, David ;)

One side of the bathroom (note the toilet seat, David 😉

The shower - thrilling!

The shower – thrilling!

So there you have it! The whole kit and caboodle. It’s cozy and we’re really loving it so far. The one thing the pictures dont do is give justice to the location and view, which was the real selling point; we feel very blessed to have lucked into the building and location. Hope everyone is having a great hump day, is eating an absurd amount of candy ahead of trick or treaters arriving (I know I always had to wait until October 31 to actually buy the candy), and until next time….