Saturday, July 28, 2012

Being Italian

I'm in the middle of the book Shem Creek by Dorothea Benton Frank and I just had to share this little gem of an excerpt.

Let me ask you something. Have you ever been to Italy? Did you know that Italy has the sixth largest economy in the world? But when you go there, you see shops closed for hours in the middle of the day, everyone seems to be drinking wine and espresso, smoking Marlboro Reds, and it looks like no one's working! What is going on in Italy? Ahem. They are really living. And, guess what? Their lives last just as long as ours do. But! They're enjoying their lives one helluva lot more than we are. So, I said to myself, Brad? One day you're gonna be dead and buried. That's when I decided to become Italian. 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Have a Party- The 2012 Summer Olympics are Here!

Oh Happy Day! The Summer 2012 Olympics are finally here and I am positively pumped for the next two weeks. Swimming, gymnastics, volleyball, I truly love watching it all- Olympic athletes are so inspiring to me. The Summer Olympics are really my favorite...although, I always say the same thing when the Winter Olympics roll around. I guess I just love it all. Team USA for the win! 

Our friends are hosting an Olympics party next weekend and I think it is just the best idea. Everyone has to pick a country to represent in the form of food- it's going to be an international feast! If you're looking for a fun way to celebrate, this is such a fun and easy theme to throw together. 

Olympic Party Printables + decor ideas from Lil Sugar
A Small Snippet water bottle covers
Red, white + blue candies with flags for centerpieces via All You
Darling "Go for the Gold" treat bags (source unknown)
Vintage Olympics Tees from Gap
Puttin' on the GRITS' Red, White + Blue wreath is perfect to show Team USA some love

I love the idea of every guest bringing food to represent a country! Mark and will be Greek for the day next Saturday- so we'll be arriving to the party with Greek Turkey Meatballs with Tzatziki for dipping and Greek Salad skewers.

Mini Burgers + Fries (is there anything more American!?)

And it's not a party without something to sip on. Don't forget the cocktails!

Enjoy the weekend!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Wine of the Week: Gazela Vinho Verde

This is a bright Summer wine that satisfies with every sip! A little bit citrus and a little bit floral, this wine has hints of grapefruit, apricot and the perfect amount of bubbles. The kind sales associate at Total Wine made sure to tell me that Vihno Verde takes on other flavors nicely. She suggested dropping in a few raspberries or mixing with Italian soda for a light and refreshing happy hour treat. I'm thinking weekend brunch would be a fine time to enjoy a Vinho Verde + Italian soda cocktail.

I purchased Gazela Vinho Verde for $7.99 at Total Wine.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Stop and Smell the Roses: Volume 12

Stop and Smell the Roses

It's been way too long since I have vlogged but alas, I'm so excited to catch up with everyone this week. Mark and I have been in a whirlwind this past month and we are so happy living in Charlotte again. There really is no place like home. Being close to our families and friends is something we are so thankful for. It still feels kind of surreal and almost like a really long vacation, but once we move into our house I'm sure things will change. My Pinterest boards are overflowing with ideas for our new home and I cannot wait until we have the keys.

I can't wait to see what everyone else has been up to. I hope you all are having a fantastic week! Don't forget to check House of Rose for the new Stop and Smell the Roses schedule.

P.S. Jen, do you like my MAGENTA dress!? I wore it just for you.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Bon Appetite: Favorite Summer Meal

My idea of a perfect summer meal is something that can be assembled in minutes and includes garden fresh produce with lots of color and flavor. Jenn is hosting a recipe exchange today and since I just enjoyed this favorite Summer dish with my family this weekend, I thought it was just perfect timing! I've shared this one before, but I can't help but always go back to it. This Summer pasta dish makes me feel all kinds of happiness inside and it just tastes better when its eaten at my parents' house. (especially when the pasta is homemade)

Juicy garden tomatoes, freshly picked basil and sauted garlic tossed with good olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper tossed on a bed of linguine or paparadelle pasta. You all know how I feel about the tomato basil marriage. This is also the kind of recipe that is impossible to mess up. It really is a perfect summer meal. 

Pasta with Tomatoes & Basil

1 lb. linguine or paparadelle pasta
Several ripe tomatoes, diced into medium sized pieces
1/2 cup fresh basil, chiffonade
Fresh garlic cloves (minced)- I use several, around 4-5, but adjust this to your taste
Good olive oil
Splash of red wine vinegar
Salt & pepper
Romano cheese, for serving

Dice tomatoes into medium sized pieces, and place in a large bowl. In a heavy bottom sauce pan, saute garlic and olive oil (a few swirls of the pan) until soft and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Pour warm oil & garlic mixture over tomatoes. Add basil, salt, pepper and a splash of red wine vinegar. Let this sit and marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Cook pasta according to the instructions on the package. Drain and toss with tomatoes and basil. Serve with freshly grated Romano cheese. Red pepper flakes kicks it up a notch, too!

Click on over to Jenn's blog hop to find others' favorite summer recipes or share one of your own!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Perfect Vinaigrette

It's no secret that around here, salads are basically a food group all in their own. Not only are they a great way to mix flavors and try something new, but they are a great way to take advantage of seasonal produce and are healthy to boot!

Open up my refrigerator and you will never find a bottle of salad dressing. A simple vinaigrette could not be easier to make, not to mention you can control what you put into it! With all of the added sugars, sodium and a plethora of other ingredients that I can never pronounce, found in store bought dressings, making your own vinaigrette leaves you feeling good about what you are eating.  I stick to a easy formula with easy substitutions and additions that yields perfect results every time...

You can find the rest of this post over at my dear friend Julie's site, Cooking Therapy, where I am guest posting today. Enjoy!

Friday, July 20, 2012


Mark found this little gem and dedicated it to me. These words are true- story of my life. 

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Charlotte Eats: The Cowfish

One of the best parts about being back in my hometown is being able to feast on all of the Charlotte gems that I missed while living in Illinois. I have hit a few of my favorite spots in the past couple of weeks and last night, I went on a new Charlotte food adventure.


I met Kristin at The Cowfish in Charlotte's South Park area and we had the best time! Kristin and I connected through blogging and it was so much fun to finally meet in person. I have heard incredible things about The Cowfish and I couldn't wait to experience it for myself. It's a little bit sushi, a little bit burger and a whole lot of insanely creative culinary delights in one place. Where else can you find sushi rolls AND a mini burger paired together on a plate? Check out my Bento Box! Asian cucumber salad, sweet potato fries, edamame, 4 sushi rolls and a slider! I instantly fell in love.

The atmosphere is full of fun energy and I would say that an hour plus wait on a Wednesday night makes this place a winner on all levels. I was secretly hoping for an Emily Maynard sighting, but running into another dear friend was one hundred times better than that. What a fun Wednesday night! 

If you live in Charlotte and haven't experienced The Cowfish yet, I highly recommend it. Delicious food, delightful service and a fantastic atmosphere. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Spotted: Honey Basil Beer!

Remember my beer find from last week? Well, I just received an e-mail from one of my sweet bests, Ashley, with the words "Spotted: Honey Basil Beer". We sipped on this together recently and I have made it my mission to find it. She beat me to it and saw it while out and about today- I just had to share, too!

Total Wine is the place to go! Check their store locator {here} to find a location near you.

I hope everyone is having a great week. Pick up some Honey Basil Ale on your way home from work- because Friday is right around the corner. And because beer tastes good on Wednesdays, too. Cheers!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Get That Glow: Healthy Skin Foods

I am no skincare expert, nor do I claim to know the secrets to anti-aging, but I have had enough skin issues in my life know that the nutrients that you put into your body are sometimes more important than what you are cleansing, moisturizing and caring for your skin with. It's been said that "Beauty comes from the inside"! I find that when I have a few "off" days, my skin doesn't take long to let me know that it's not happy. 

Here are some foods that help contribute to healthy, glowing skin. I eat all of these on a regular basis and my skin is happier and healthier than ever!

Salmon- We all know that Omega 3 fatty acids are so good for us. Salmon contains this good fat that keeps your skin vibrant, plump and youthful. We eat salmon about once a week and I also keep packages of Trader Joe's smoked salmon to toss with salads at lunchtime or scrambled in eggs with tomatoes and capers for breakfast.

Almonds- A great source of good fat and Vitamin E! Vitamin E blocks free radical damage which helps prevent wrinkles. Raw almonds are a quick and easy snack to grab so I always keep a bag of them in our pantry. Raw, unsalted almond butter on apple slices also might be one of the best snacks EVER.

Avocado- {Good} fat doesn't make you fat, so eat up! Avocados are filled with nutrients and just so delicious. Avocado consumption can actually help with dry skin as well as age spots. I like to add avocado to salads, or just sprinkle with a bit of salt and lime juice and scoop it out with a spoon. Done and done. 

Greens- Eat your greens! They are loaded with Beta Carotene which helps repair damaged skin cells. Spinach, kale and arugula are three of my favorites.

Blueberries- All berries are bursting with antioxidants and help fight premature aging. I like to stick with blueberries, since they have less sugar than their berry friends. Sauteed with garlic, in salads or hidden in smoothies are great ways to add these to your daily diet. 

Water- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! This, I am convinced, is the most important action that can be taken toward a healthy glow. Chuck those sodas (diet pop included!) and sugary drinks, grab a water bottle and drink up!

And, of course, don't forget to SMILE!

*I am not a skincare professional or doctor. I have a passion for healthy living and enjoy sharing what has worked for me.

Friday, July 13, 2012

We Came. We Saw. We Bought A LOT of Stuff.

I just returned home from a 36 hour trip down to Atlanta to attend America's Mart with Sophie.   We went with several goals for Pour Olive in mind by the end of our time, I would say we were super successful!

We drove down early Wednesday morning and got home last night. The term "sensory overload" has an entirely new meaning to me. Our quick trip was spent in large buildings upon buildings, travelling from show room to show room. It was almost like real life Pinterest vignettes before my very eyes! We found so many specialty food items, kitchen goods and foodie gifts for the store. We were constantly eyeing inspiration for new window displays and DIY ideas for the shop! Also, with Mark and I moving into our new home next month, I also stored away home decor inspiration, creative ideas and reconfirmed that grey is my new favorite neutral! 

It was so neat to meet vendors and shop owners from all over the country- there are so many creative people in this world and every one of them has a story to share. We stuck mostly around gourmet foods and home goods. We didn't even make it to apparel and accessories- I can only imagine how much I would be drooling. I'm confident that a week there wouldn't even be enough to see everything. Here are some of my favorite finds from our trip!

Cat Studio was such a find! It's a small company based out of California that features these incredible hand stitched state pillows! I think North Carolina, Illinois and The North Pole need a home in our new house. We met the owner of the company and talked to him for awhile which was so neat. Cat Studio also features fun dishtowels, cups, aprons and other gift items with the same state, city and regional prints. Any of their items would make a dynamite gift. Everyone's heartstrings lead them back to special places.

I don't remember the name of this showroom, but I snapped the picture because I fell in love with the coral ikat lamp and the coral chevron pillow! I'll take the gold, orange and tan floor lamp, too, please! I'm filing this away in my new house folder because I have no choice but to incorporate this color in our home. I love a bright, cheerful coral pop!

Ohhhh Vietri. These handmade Italian dishes had me wanting all kinds of new additions to our dinnerware. The pieces in most of their collections just may be the most beautiful dinnerware I have ever seen. The white Lastra and white Incanto collections are, hands down, my favorites. I love seeing my food on a crisp white plate and the detail on both of these collections is just dreamy.

Sugarboo Designs caught my eye nearly two years ago and I was so excited to walk into their showroom! The pillows and fun artwork add playful happiness to any space. The sweet words on the center canvas made Sophie and I cry.

"To my sweet darlings, Do you know how much you are loved? 
All the way around the world forever and a day. 
And how do you suppose out of all the little darlings in the world we got the very best ones?
Be good and take care of each other. We know you will do great things in the world.
Yours always. xoxo"

More design inspiration! I love the neutral wingback chairs and the rounded mirror windows lined up against the wall. 

Twinkle lights aren't just for Christmas. I do believe you can never have enough of them.

Thanks for a fun time, AmericasMart! We'll be back...

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Banana Cream

You all are in for a major treat! The littlest sister (Natalie) made this frozen goodness last week and it was love at first bite! My arm never has to be twisted for dessert but if you are talking a healthy dessert? Well, I'll take an extra scoop please!

This "ice cream" is made with frozen bananas. BANANAS. That's it! Nat had a little blender conundrum, so she added a quick pour of half and half to help with the texture. When we tested the final product, we were all going crazy thinking about all of the fun add-ins that would make this Summer dessert even sweeter. Cinnamon, mini chocolate chips, peanut butter, blueberries...and so many other friendly things that could take this healthy dessert into not so healthy territory. I definitely wouldn't cheat on my beloved mint chocolate chip (preferably of the green variety) and say that Banana Cream is just as good, but when you're in need of something sweet, but don't want a sacrifice day's worth of healthy eating and a great workout, this frozen treat surely does the trick!

Banana Cream

A bunch of bananas, sliced
splash of milk, cream or half and half

Slice bananas and arrange on a cookie sheet. Place in freezer for a few hours. 

In a food processor or blender (we found that the processor works much better), process bananas until smooth and ice creamy. Add mix-ins if desired. Transfer to a freezer safe container and let harden for a few hours before devouring.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Taste of Home Special

I have a great deal to pass along to all of you foodies! My West Coast Sister gifted me a subscription to Taste of Home last year and it's been a wonderful treat in my mailbox every other month. Danica swears by Taste of Home and I was so excited when she shared the love. The magazine has tons of recipes, inspiration and best of all- pictures! There is nothing worse than a recipe with no photo to give you a visual of what your final masterpiece should look like and Taste of Home never fails in this department. I find myself referencing my Taste of Home magazines whenever I need some inspiration or a kick in the kitchen pants.


This week, on Living Social, you can sign up to receive a two year subscription to Taste of Home for $9! That's an incredible value and a huge savings. Magazine subscriptions make excellent gifts (thanks, lovie!), too so order away! The deal expires on July 21, 2012. 

Click on the Living Social logo below to get the deal.

*I was not compensated for this post. Just sharing the love with all of you!

Beer Find: Organic Honey Basil Ale

We enjoyed after dinner drinks with some good friends at Zink on Saturday night and the Summer brew that Ashley and I sipped on was too good not to share! Beer just tastes better in the Summer and I love trying unique new flavors. This Organic Honey Basil Ale from California's Bison Brewing was crisp and refreshing. The basil and honey were not too strong or overpowering but the beer had a unique taste and was quite enjoyable. 

I'm not sure where you can find Bison Brewing beers, but if you do, please let me know! I'm dying to get my hands on the Chocolate Stout. I've already filled out this form to request it at my local market.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Just a Little Tint

Charlotte's Summer heatwave is in full force...nothing like a WARM welcome back to the South from Mother Nature! I'm sure all you girls can agree with me that with the heat comes crazy hair and melting makeup. Naturally curly hair is really a blessing in the Summer months but my normal to oily skin just doesn't know what to do with itself. When it's beyond 100 degrees outside, but I still need a fresh and put together face, tinted moisturizer is my saving grace!

My friend Sara introduced me to Neutrogena Healthy Skin Enhancer last Spring and I haven't looked back since. I have tried fancy $60 tinted moisturizers and none of them hold a candle to my trusty Neutrogena. When it comes to products for my skin, I tend to stick with what I know and if you know me, I hoard Neutrogena products. They work so well for my temperamental skin- and I have used EVERYTHING out there. 

Neutrogena's Healthy Skin Enhancer is perfect for a fresh Summer face. I actually use this stuff year round. It has SPF 20, a vitamin infused retinol treatment and it's oil-free! I apply one pump every morning before putting on my makeup. It provides light coverage with a hint of color. I just finish with my NARS Portofino or Benefit Hervana and I'm ready to walk out the door. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Roasted Eggplant and Tomatoes + Lemon Basil Pesto

Just look at the goodness on this plate. After discovering this eggplant recipe that was repinned on Pinterest over 100,000 times, my sister Natalie and I were inspired to make an eggplant and tomato creation of our own. We roasted the eggplant, sliced up some juicy tomatoes and with the fresh basil from my mom's garden, we made a quick lemon basil pesto to brush on each layer. 

Simple and fresh. Just like summertime food should be.

Roasted Eggplant and Tomatoes + Lemon Basil Pesto

1 eggplant, sliced
2 large tomatoes, sliced
1 cup basil leaves
1 clove garlic
Juice of one lemon
1/8 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling and brushing
Salt and pepper, to season

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Slice eggplant and line on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and let the slices sit for at least 15 minutes. You will see tiny water droplets form on the slices- this removes the bitterness from the eggplant. Pat dry with a paper towel.

Brush each slice with olive oil on either side and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 20-25 minutes.

To make the pesto, place basil, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Adjust taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice, and consistency with more olive oil.

Slice tomatoes, and arrange on a platter, alternating with slices of eggplant. Top each eggplant slice with a teaspoon of pesto. Finish with fresh cracked pepper and a drizzle of olive oil over the entire platter.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Fourth of July Eats

Summertime food should be easy and fresh- especially on The Fourth of July! If you are hosting a festive event, the last thing you want to do is spend the entire day in the kitchen. It should be a carefree day spent with the firecrackers of your life and celebrating America! Whether you're hosting, or whether you're a party guest, here are some easy favorites from my archives to enjoy tomorrow.

Because every party needs a signature drink, invite Raspberry Mojitos to your house! If the men in your life hassle you about carrying around a hot pink mojito, just tell them "real men wear pink". 

Caprese Salad is my holy trinity of all foods. Grab some ripe, juicy tomatoes and basil from a produce stand and a log of fresh mozzarella. Drizzle with good olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with a balsamic reduction if desired.

If you want to add some greens, Strawberry Salad with Goat Cheese + Avocado is a fresh and colorful salad that everyone will love. Sweet strawberries and tangy goat cheese play so well with creamy avocado. For extra sweetness, add some candied walnuts or for a salty bite, add chopped pistachios.

Citrus Orzo makes all bellies happy. The great thing about this dish is that it tastes even better the second day! Whip it up the night before to let all of the flavors get to know each other better. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Grilled meats are best when they are smothered in goodness. Try this Blackened Chicken Rub on your grilled chicken breasts. For extra juicy meat, soak your chicken in a brine. Trust me on this one. 

End your celebration with fireworks and Fresh Berry Pie! The red, white and blue dessert is happiness on a plate.