Laura Rennie

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Cooking, reading and watching, lately

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What a wild season of life we are in. It's been stressful at times to juggle opposite work schedules with evening work events and doctor's appointments and get-togethers with friends, not to mention mothering an infant and trying to keep up with a home and feeding my family. Andy has been an incredible partner and father and I'm proud of the way we've been working as a team. Plus, I know millions of people around the world are juggling the same things and we're all figuring it out in our own way. Thank goodness for grace and coffee!

Here's a bit of what I've been up to outside of working and mommy-ing:

EATING

I usually cook meals that I don't need recipes for (or we get Pizza Hut), but I've recently tried two dishes worth sharing:

This Coconut and Chicken Curry Soup was a new favorite the second it went into my mouth. I almost always tweak recipes, but the reviews are great for the original so make it how you like! I wanted more liquid and less chicken (one breast per cup of liquid seemed odd to me). I used only 1.5 cups of rotisserie chicken, added a second can of coconut milk, upped the curry powder, lime juice, ginger and S+P and used red pepper instead of green. I served it over jasmine rice.

We also loved this Game Day Beer Chili! My tweaks: I only used one can of beans (pinto), I used only one bell pepper (orange), and I used ground turkey instead of beef. For the sausage, I used spicy ground Italian pork sausage. I also left out the tomato paste, but that's only because I didn't have any. This chili was crazy yummy! The spiciness of the sausage plus the sweetness from the maple syrup made for killer flavor! I used a cream stout, but any dark beer should be fantastic in this. And in case you're wondering what chip to pair this chili with, the answer is Fritos. (Update: if you happen to forget the ground turkey at the store, there's good news! Just add another can of beans and you're set. We didn't even miss the turkey.)

I work with two other women, and we're all obsessed with Panera's Autumn Squash Soup. A friend claims this copycat recipe is just as delicious (if not more so). I can't wait to try it! 

READING

I'm not having the greatest year in terms of books. 2014 and 2015 were amazing "book years" and I'm wondering if the difference is that I'm reading less these days, instead of the fact that my books aren't great choices? I'm not sure. Anyway, the best book I've read recently is "Present Over Perfect" by Shauna Niequist. I devoured it! Niequist writes her books almost like blog posts — each chapter is a short essay of her thoughts. People either tend to love that style or hate it. 

If you have any book suggestions for me, please share!

Also, I continue to adore Erin Loechner's writing. This post really blessed me. I'm thankful to not feel like I'm drowning 100% of the time, but I certainly have "underwater days."

"If you’d ask me for proof of my current life, of recent existence, I’d point to daily artifacts: BOB books on the credenza, cracked egg shells in the compost, burp cloths piled near the washing machine.

Me and my smallness. Holding fast to the ledge, clinging to the brick."

WATCHING

I re-watched Downton Abbey on Amazon over the summer, so, this. What a great final season. I like to watch 10-15 minutes of a show while I feed Chloe her bottle and often have something already pulled up on my computer for easy access. After I finished Downton Abbey I watched the newer version of "Upstairs, Downstairs" and then "Home Fires," which isn't being renewed. I'm mad that I got attached to the show! Now I'm watching the 1995 "Pride and Prejudice" mini-series. What should be next?

You better believe I'm watching "This Is Us" and that I cried at the end of the first episode. I don't want to spoil the story for anyone who is taking their sweet time with catching up, but I will say this: bravo to the writers. I'm thankful certain events are part of the story and certain feelings are expressed. Vague, I know. Maybe I'll touch on that more at some point.

Project Runway is back! YESSSSSS! Make it work!

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While I have you... I'm on the hunt for cozy, affordable clothes for the chilly days ahead! If you have anything you love that's still in stores, let me know. And if you've been wanting to give Stitch Fix a try, use *this referral link.* 

k bye.

What's next for Laura Rennie Interiors

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It's time to make it official — big changes are in store for Laura Rennie Interiors! 

Three months ago my life was turned upside down in the most incredible way when my husband and I adopted a baby girl with one week's notice. (We weren't even in the adoption process!) I had just accepted a part-time position with Kalico Design as their administrative coordinator, and as you can imagine, having a new job and a new baby at the same time was a lot to take in. It's been a wonderful, crazy season of life!

I took a break from design work and am now taking on one or two projects per month, based on project scope. (I'm obsessed with the e-design I'm currently working on!) My focus right now is on my family and my work with Kalico. I truly enjoy decorating and helping people create spaces they love, but I have to do what is best for me — and that means not over-booking myself.

One of the biggest changes I've made is to move to solely e-based projects. (As in, my work will be done from my computer and sent to my client electronically.) Physical room makeovers are so fun, but the time spent shopping, traveling, communicating and decorating adds up fast, and I feel it's best to set this type of project aside for now. Plus, I LOVE e-designs!

I'm also making changes to the blog! I'm slowly moving posts from my old blog to this site — something I've wanted to do for a long time. I will be writing less design-related posts and more posts about my life in general. 

These changes make me feel a little weird. It hasn't even been a full year since I started LRI, and a part of me can't believe I'm already pumping the brakes. A bigger part of me can't believe I now have a BABY! Don't get me wrong, I'm all for focusing on my top priorities — it's just a bit odd for me to say LRI is not a priority right now. But, I did say from the beginning, "My goal for this business is to create lovely spaces where community thrives and vulnerability is celebrated."

Maybe the most important space I can create right now is THIS space — this blog, where I promise to give you the real-life version of myself. Maybe community can be made right here.

 

 

 

Around here // Thai crunch salad (CPK inspired)

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I tried a new recipe for dinner last night and loved it so much that I had to share it with y'all! This dish would be super fun to make for company. It's not spicy and can easily be made vegetarian by omitting the chicken. Just make sure they aren't allergic to peanuts.

I cooked up a six pound chicken in the crockpot the other day to chop up and portion out into quart-sized freezer bags. As I was brainstorming ideas for what to do with all that chicken, I remembered a salad I had at California Pizza Kitchen last year. It's called Thai Crunch Salad. Have you ever had it? It tastes light and refreshing, but it's surprisingly filling. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

 I promise there is a ton of lettuce, cabbage and veggies under all those wontons!

I promise there is a ton of lettuce, cabbage and veggies under all those wontons!

The official recipe can be found here, but I found a copycat version with less steps that sounded delicious and similar in flavor. I was in a time crunch and decided to buy an Asian chopped salad mix instead of purchasing the cabbage, veggies and herbs separately. I chopped up some butter lettuce to add into the mix, as well as a handful of edamame and chopped cucumber. You could also put in avocado, chopped bell pepper, chopped raw broccoli, raw brussels sprouts...whatever! 

Once you've figured out your salad mix, put it in a large lidded bowl, add chicken and drizzle a couple tablespoons of homemade dressing on top. (I used the recipe below.) Use less dressing than you think — you can always add more if need, but you don't want to start off with a drenched salad. Put the lid on the bowl and shake, shake, shake! I topped the salad with chopped peanuts and friend wontons. A few sliced almonds got in there, too. (The Asian salad mix came with a bag of fried wontons and sliced almonds.)

 Thai Crunch Chicken Salad dressing** by How Sweet It Is

makes 4 portions / takes 10 minutes to prepare

  • 1 cup sweet chili sauce
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup lite canned coconut milk
  • 6 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 4 garlic cloves, pressed or finely minced
  • 2 tablespoosn creamy peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoon-sized knobs of ginger, grated 
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce

In a saucepan, combine chili sauce, vinegar, coconut milk, sugar, garlic, ginger, peanut butter, soy sauce and lime juice. Whisk over high heat until the mixture boils, then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 3-4 minutes. You'll notice the mixture will thicken up. Remove from heat and place dressing in a jar or bowl in the fridge until you're ready to assemble the salad. 

**If you want, you can use a portion of this dressing as a marinade for your chicken. See the original post for additional details. 

The Asian mix I bought also comes with two packets of sesame ginger salad. I might try adding a spoonful of peanut butter and some lime juice to the pre-made dressing and seeing if the flavor is similar to the homemade dressing. 


It's almost the weekend, friends! Tomorrow night Andy is taking me out for a belated Valentine's dinner (we're going here) and we'll have an episode of The People v. O.J. Simpson to watch when we get home. Are you watching it?

If you live around Frederick, don't forget it's barn sale weekend! Sweet Clover, Chartreuse & Co and Buckeystown Design Co-op will be open. I'll be scouting out items for clients and maaaaybe coming home with something for myself. (Me with my Christmas money.)

Check back next week for Lucy's final mood board and another free printable!

 

Around here // What I bought at IKEA

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A bunch of y'all were shocked to hear I hadn't been to IKEA in over 15 years! (If you didn't catch that post, read it here.) I went down to Virginia last week to visit a friend and help her with a few decorating decisions — hence the quiet here on the blog. Amy and I went to Michaels, Marshalls, Home Goods and Hobby Lobby and I only bought ONE thing so that I could use my money for IKEA. I picked up a fabric underbed bin at Home Goods (like this) to use for storing linens. I like to use our tiny linen closet for spare toiletries, TP, tissues and towels. 

But let's talk IKEA. I was so impressed! The store was well organized and meticulously tidy. I did feel slightly like a lab rat as I walked through the labyrinth of displays, but mostly I was impressed by the thoughtful design. There was enough to look at that I rarely felt I was in someone else's way. (I imagine it's a totally different story on the weekend.) I had to stifle a laugh when I heard more than one couple arguing. OH, IKEA. I had originally planned to skip the showroom altogether, but a friend insisted I take in the full experience and I'm so glad I did! The kitchens were my favorite. I have big dreams to design my own kitchen one day! 

I was the most torn in the window treatments section. I originally thought I wanted light curtains for our master bedroom update, but the reality is I *love* the way our current curtains block out light. They might be ugly, but they help me sleep! I was impressed by the MARJUN curtains in person and decided to buy them. I was tempted to pick up a curtain rod while I was there, but I'm not sure if I want to do a single rod or install a double rod and have sheer curtains behind the MARJUN. 

I also picked up two large frames. I got a white RIBBA for our master bedroom and a black GUNNABO to frame an Instagram pic I had blown up. (Good idea, Amber!) I'm not sure where I'll be hanging the black framed pic, but I'm leaning towards our guest room. I might change out the mat in the RIBBA since it doesn't frame the picture properly.

ikeaframes

I didn't buy as many plants and planters as I thought I would. The selection was fantastic, though! I grabbed one large plant, a white pot that everyone else in the universe seems to own, one of these and two succulents. Anyone know what my large plant is? Is it a bird of paradise plant? I put it in my office and brought my fiddle leaf fig down to our living room.

IKEAplant

It's a bit ridiculous how exhausted I felt after my trip to Virginia! All that shopping wore me out, apparently. I spent the weekend reading and watching episode after episode of Friends on Netflix. Speaking of, did you catch Rachel from Friends on Weekend Update? Hilarious!

 

Around here // IKEA advice?

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Who has two thumbs and has not been to an IKEA since middle school? This girl.

I'm FINALLY going back and I don't know what emotion I feel more of — excitement or anxiety! I'm going with my mom and hoping we can avoid this kind of a situation (or a trip to the break-up room). Haha! I am nervous about the temptation to buy everything in the store, though! Part of me thinks I should stick to the few items I know I want to look at, and another part of me thinks I should enjoy the experience and see as much as I have time for. I will have around 2-3 hours to shop.

Marian just posted about her trip to IKEA, and it cracked me up that she described the store as a theme park. I've got my yoga pants and sneakers packed, people! I know I want to look at curtains, frames and plants/planters. I'm tempted to look at duvet covers and bedspreads, too.

So, yeah. I'm probably going to use up my 2-3 hours in those sections alone.

The plant section is going to be my kryptonite! I'm thinking about getting this BITTERGURKA planter (or the hanging version) for growing herbs in our kitchen. I also spotted this guy online and miiiiight just have to get him. 

I won't be buying any furniture this trip, but I'd bring a STOCKHOLM sideboard home if I could!

What are your favorite things to grab at IKEA? Do any of you have IKEA bedding? Are you happy with it? I'd appreciate any input and advice!

Wish me luck! I'll share my purchases next week!

 

Around here // 15 things to read, watch & make this weekend

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I've been happily swamped with client work and haven't had much time to dedicate to blog posting this week. We're expecting to receive a bunch of snow this weekend and I'm envisioning lots of snuggles, reading and soup-eating. I LOVE snow and told myself I'd try to be done with my work by the time it starts to fall this afternoon. I want to sit and watch it fall without any distractions! :)

I've put together a few things for you to enjoy this weekend, whether you're snowed in or reading this on a beach somewhere:

if you want a good laugh

if you're hungry (and have power)

  • These oven baked fries are a cinch to make. One large potato is enough for the both of us if I'm using the fries as a side, but I use two large potatoes if I'm making them as our main dish. (Yes, we eat fries for dinner now and then. It's great.) I prefer to go light on the oil.  I put foil down on a baking sheet (and spray it) so I don't have to clean the pan. Sometimes I toss the fries with garlic powder, rosemary or cayenne pepper. 
  • The chill time is a bummer, but these peanut butter cookies look like they're worth it — and the ingredients are all normal pantry staples!

if you're craving suspense

  • I listened to the fictional podcast "Limetown" while driving in the dark and was completely spellbound. 
  • If you still haven't read "Girl on the Train" or "All the Light We Cannot See" -- dash to the library or download the electronic version STAT. "All the Light We Cannot See" was one of my top books of 2014. 

if you came to this blog to read about design and you're annoyed that I'm taking about french fries

Hope your weekend is safe, warm and cozy, friends!