Thursday, June 22, 2017

SlimeTime


We are a few weeks into Summer here and our days have been carefree and easy. Will's favorite thing to ask me when I tuck him in at night is "what are we doing tomorrow", and it's been fun planning our days together. He gets so excited about the little things and is always up for an adventure, whatever it may be. I have a huge list of indoor activities I want to do with Will and Kate this Summer and the first on our list!? SLIME TIME!



WE HAVE ARRIVED and we are becoming slime making experts around here. Perhaps we have a future selling this stuff on YouTube like the cool kids!? We made our first batches last week and Will is loving this stuff. I'm not going to lie, I was a little nervous about the mess but we have had zero slime hair disasters so far so I'm calling it a success.



Mixing it up has been the most fun for Will. He likes to pour the glue, add his coloring and dump in the baking soda. When that's all mixed up, I add the contact solution a little at a time. This is a great rainy day activity for your little ones. We've had our slime in ziploc freezer bags for a week now and it's still just as good as the day we made it! This is the recipe from Elmer's Glue and I followed it exactly the first time. It came out a little too hard so I added less contact lens solution- the most random ingredient of all- and the result was much better. 



Elmer's Glue Slime

12 oz. Elmer's glue
1.5 Tbsp. baking soda
food coloring
3 Tbsp. contact lens solution

In a large plastic bowl, dump glue. Stir in baking soda and food coloring until combined.
Add contact solution, one Tablespoon at a time, making sure to mix quickly. The mixture will become hard to stir and this is when the slime forms. I have found that about 2.5 tablespoons of contact solution is just the right amount. Slime will form into a ball- remove from the bowl and knead a few minutes to get it to the right consistency. Store in an airtight container or ziploc bag. 

For more recipes, it's Slime Central over on the Elmer's website

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Cherry Tomato + Hearts of Palm Salad



I'm allllllll about Summer salads. When everything is so fresh and colorful, they really are hard to beat. All you need is some ripe produce, good olive oil and vinegar with a little salt and pepper and everything kind of just falls into place. Grill some chicken or fish and serve a little Summer salad on the side- this is my kind of eating right here.  

Hearts of Palm are one of my favorite salad ingredients. They add an interesting texture and take on the flavor of a simple vinaigrette beautifully. We grew up eating these with a little olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper. So simple and so good. This is the perfect little Summer side. Cherry tomatoes are my favorite and I love adding both the red and the yellow for that bright Summer color. I'll be making this one again and again!

Cherry Tomato + Hearts of Palm Salad

1/2 pint red cherry tomatoes
1/2 pint yellow cherry tomatoes
1 can hearts of palm, drained and sliced 
1 handful flat leaf parsley, chopped
1/4 red onion, sliced thin
olive oil
red wine vinegar

In a small/medium bowl, combine cherry tomatoes, hearts of palm, parsley and red onion. Drizzle with a little olive oil and vinegar, and toss. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature or cold. 

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Mountain Weekend Getaway



Last weekend in the mountains was just SO GOOD. On Saturday morning, some girlfriends and I drove up to the Boone/Banner Elk area and had the best 36 hours. No kids, no agenda and the most gorgeous weather. There is just something about that fresh mountain air that always does wonders to the soul. We stayed at my friend Allie's mountain house which was a little slice of heaven! 


We arrived around lunchtime and made a pit stop for lunch at The Cardinal, which came highly recommended by a friend. We sat on the back deck of the restaurant and kicked off our girls weekend with gourmet burgers and local beers. PERFECT! This is where I discovered Boonshine Brewing (which we hit up for lunch the next day!) The Farm Burger was everything. 






Our next stop- Grandfather Vineyard Winery. This spot was so quaint and perfect for an afternoon with the girls. You also cannot beat the backdrop. The view of Grandfather Mountain from the patio was beautiful. The wine was so, so good. We shared two bottles from the tasting room- The Pinot Gris (my favorite-perfect for summer), and the Cabernet. 




Dinner was a treat and we had all been waiting for this meal for months! We had reservations at Artisanal, a restaurant in Banner Elk that is open seasonally. I cannot express how much we all LOVED it. The restaurant itself is so stunning. It's elegant but rustic and still has that homey mountain feel. The back deck area of the restaurant was a lovely spot to enjoy our pre-dinner cocktails. I could have sat out there all night in front of the fire! The food, the service, the company- everything about our dinner that night was just wonderful and I want to go back!! If you are local to NC this place is a must. 


Before we headed out of town and down the mountain on Sunday, we had lunch at Basil's Fresh Pasta + Deli/Booneshine Brewing. This was such a cute spot! I had the most delicious BLAT and left with a full belly AND a four pack of their IPA. 

Clearly, we ate and drank our way through the weekend, but I couldn't have asked for anything more! So thankful for these friendships! (and the dads that held down the forts at home to make this moms weekend away possible) 


Friday, May 26, 2017

Five on Friday

Joining the Five on Friday girls this week as we head into the long weekend and kickoff Summer! 



{ONE} Will's last day of school was yesterday and, as expected, I was an emotional mess. We loooooved his teachers and were so thankful that Will spent his school days with them. He has grown so much this year and it's been a joy to see him blossom. So corny, but so true. Also, please note the crazy comparison picture below. This kid is almost a whole head taller! I just love him and could not be more proud. Speaking of the end of the school year, how cute are these free printables from my friend Jen's shop, The Polka Dot Posie!? Perfect for those last day of school photos. 


{TWO} With the official kickoff this weekend, I have summer cooking and cocktails on my radar. This marinated mozzarella melon salad is going on my Summer menu ASAP.  And Rose cocktails- I can get on board with these! If you're a tea drinker, add this Birthday Tea to your stash! It's sweet and fruity and I think it would be delicious iced during the warm Summer months! 


{photo via}

{THREE} I just finished this book by Rachel Cruze and I cannot recommend it enough. It's full of all the good stuff. In a world where everyone else's lives are constantly in our faces (ahem, social media), this was much more than a personal finance book. So many good tips and reminders for money and LIFE. 


{FOUR} I'm finally on board with Ebates and I'm kicking myself for not signing up sooner. I've already made almost $50 back in the past month or so. I was even able to get 10% cash back on my last order of contact lenses! If you shop online (doesn't everyone!?) and aren't a member yet, use my referral code HERE



{FIVE} Our favorite online children's boutique, Sugar Bit, is offering up to 30% off sitewide this weekend! So many cute things for your little ones.


P.S. I am sooooo behind on photo albums and am vowing to get back on track this Summer. So, question for all of you, what is your favorite website for making photo books? I have used My Publisher in the past, but they recently shut down as they were bought out by Shutterfly. Artifact Uprising albums are amazing quality and I've used them for newborn, wedding and professional photo albums. I don't necessarily need albums on that scale for our family "yearbooks". Help!

Enjoy the long weekend! 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Nicoise Salad, Take Two


Ugh. I love this salad. My friend Sophie and I ate these together when we were both planning our weddings and it always reminds me of that magical, newly engaged time. #25forever. Mark fondly refers to dinner salads as single girl meals, but he happily eats them and for that I am thankful. Of all the salads we do for dinner, this one is my favorite. It had been awhile and I was craving this giant bowl of goodness. I first posted this recipe back in 2013 but I'm back again with it- mostly because I'm obsessed, but also because this version looks a little prettier. This is a great adult meal that works well deconstructed as a meal for the tiny humans in your house. You're welcome. 

I did a little research, and discovered that this salad originated in the city of Nice, France. Traditionally, it's made with tomatoes, hard boiled eggs, Nicoise olives and anchovies and dressed with olive oil. I think I'll give this a whirl someday.

I used my Lemon Garlic Salmon recipe and built our salads around that. The warm salmon on top of the greens wilts them ever so slightly which I love. Arugula stands up well to this and is my favorite to use right now. I always always add a few roasted potato wedges to my Nicoise salads, giving them a little comfort factor. Same with the roasted green beans. SO SO GOOD. 

Pour yourself a glass of white wine and it's almost like you're on a European vacay. 

Nicoise Salad

Lemon Garlic Salmon
Arugula/Baby Greens mix
Grape tomatoes, sliced in half
Roasted potato wedges
Roasted green beans
Kalamata olives
Capers
Red onion, thinly sliced

Dijon Vinaigrette:
1/2 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp. dijon mustard
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
salt + pepper, to taste

For perfect roasted potatoes and green beans:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut small redskin potatoes into wedges and wash and snip beans. Toss both the potatoes and beans separately with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread each evenly on two separate baking sheets. Potatoes will cook in 20-25 minutes and do the green beans for about 10-15. 

Follow my salmon recipe HERE.

To assemble the salads, Fill bowls with greens and top with all of the salad toppings. Finish with warm salmon and drizzle with dijon vinaigrette. 



Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Sunshine State Vacay


We recently spend almost a week in Florida and had the best time. We stayed in the Tampa area with Mark's family and had fun exploring the area that he grew up in. The car ride from Charlotte clocked in at around 9 hours and with our two little ones in tow, it took around 11 hours. 


We spent a ton of time with Mark's family and extended family and our kids looooved having fun with their cousins. The beaches were gorgeous. I love love love Carolina beaches, especially Kiawah, but this was a different kind of beautiful. I don't think you can ever compare them because they both have their unique qualities. 






This was Kate's first trip to the ocean and she was in LOVE. She ran through the water, got her toes in the sand and made a giant mess. Ha! The little princess has no fear. Will hadn't been to the beach since he was two, and he was so excited to be back. 



Tarpon Springs was my favorite little spot! We walked around the little town that reminded me of a European village. We enjoyed some Greek pastries with coffee and popped in and out of the shops. The boats were just beautiful- something about seeing tons of boats on the water gets me every time. 



We ventured to Clearwater beach to dinner one night. We ate at Frenchies Rockaway Grill which came highly recommended. The outdoor patio was right on the beach and our meal was FANTASTIC. Fresh fish from the gulf coast is hard to beat- my grouper was beyond delicious. It also turns out that Tampa Bay Brewing has some pretty delicious IPA. 


After dinner that night, we walked on the beach just before sunset. The sand is like baby powder and the water is crystal clear. I'm a beach girl so this was heaven for me. Will and Kate loved running around on the sand and sticking their toes in the water. This was my favorite night of the entire trip! 





We spent a day at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park which was fun and hilarious. Apparently this is one of Florida's oldest attractions, including MERMAIDS! My six year old Ariel loving heart was freaking out a little. 




The Florida sun was in full force and it was HOT but it was such a fun outing. We also took a boat ride down the springs and watched a wildlife show with snakes, alligators and turtles. 



On our way home, we made a pit stop and enjoyed a glass bottom boat ride in Ocala. The state park has been been running these boats for over 100 years! The Springs were beautiful and Will especially loved being able to see all of the fish and turtles below. Our captain tossed fish food into the water and tons of fish swam up to the bottom of the boat to eat. I still cannot get over the crystal clear spring water. Definitely worth the stop and it was perfect since it was right on our way home.


Thankful for fun, sun and plenty of family time and memories! 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Taco Turkey Spaghetti Squash



It's been a whirlwind few weeks! The four of us went on nearly a week long trip to Florida and two days later I packed my bags back up and enjoyed a girls weekend in the mountains. I had the best time on both trips but it's nice to be home for a bit. After a week of indulging, I'm anxious to get back to my regular gym routine and back in the kitchen. We are keeping it light, easy and healthy this week. My body is craving ALL THE VEGGIES. 

This turkey taco spaghetti squash is a newer favorite around here. It's the perfect weeknight meal and comes together so fast. I LOVE the fresh pico de gallo that my Harris Teeter sells, making this dinner easier than it already is. It's loaded with fresh tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, cilantro, lime, jalapeno, spices and ZERO junk. It's one of my favorite grocery store finds of all time. 

I was inspired by this Skinny Taste recipe, but adapted it a bit to make it my own. It's hardly a recipe- that's how EASY and fool-proof it is. This is also a great lunch to have on hand- packed with protein and vegetables and super filling to power you through the day. We all love this dinner and I hope you do, too. 

Taco Turkey Spaghetti Squash

1 lb. lean ground turkey breast
1 spaghetti squash, roasted
Fresh pico de gallo or salsa of your choice
avocado, thinly sliced
Taco seasoning (my homemade recipe below)

Taco seasoning:
1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder

Roast spaghetti squash. See my fool-proof method here

In a large saute pan on medium-high heat, cook ground turkey. When the turkey is cooked all the way through, add taco seasoning and simmer for 3-5 minutes. To plate it all together, layer a pile of spaghetti squash and top with turkey and pico/salsa. Serve with avocado on the side. 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Citrus Curry Marinade



Grilling season is officially upon us! I'm sitting here on my screened in porch with some iced coffee and my favorite warm weather Pandora station playing- Bob Marley, obviously. It's totally setting my Summer mood.

This marinade is my go-to for chicken. My family has been making this for years and it's always a favorite with big crowds. I love the unexpected flavor of curry. It's bright and slightly sweet and gives the chicken a bright yellowish color when grilled, making it look extra tasty on the plate. 

Speaking of big crowds and parties, while listening to Ina's interview on Katie Couric's podcast last week, she talked a bit about the best ways to prep for a dinner party. She suggests centering your meal around three dishes. With that, she says that one should be made ahead of time, one should be made on the stovetop or grill, and one in the oven. This way you can time your meal appropriately and not be scurrying around trying to get it all served. This is excellent advice.

Bottom line, this marinade makes the most delicious and juicy grilled chicken breast. The butcher at my grocery store will fillet my boneless, skinless chicken breasts for me making for minimal prep work! If you've never asked at your grocery store I bet they will do it. This is almost the only leftover chicken I will eat- it's amazing on salads for lunch! 


Citrus Curry Marinade
(marinade for about 2 pounds of chicken)

1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp. dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic, minced
juice of 1-2 lemons
1 Tbsp. curry powder 
Salt + Pepper- add this to the chicken right before cooking

Whisk marinade ingredients together in a bowl. Pour into a bag or shallow dish and add chicken. Let chicken sit in marinade for 30 minutes- an hour. Add salt and pepper to the chicken as it hits the grill. 


Sunday, April 23, 2017

Friday Faves (on a rainy Sunday afternoon)


Hoda came back this week from maternity leave, Cam Newton showed up at Coachella in floral romper (not really a romper) and everyone is losing their minds over Starbucks' Unicorn Frappucino. So many things breaking the internet this week! And can I just say, HODA! Gah, I love her. She radiates joy and happiness always, but even more so now than ever. Motherhood looks good on her. 

Those donuts up there are from Duck Donuts and they are the best! There are tons of donuts here in Charlotte, but these are my favorite. Duck's doesn't mess around and they don't ruin a good thing. Simple donuts are hard to beat. We enjoyed those the morning of Mark's half marathon a few weeks ago thanks to my sister. GIVE ME ALL THE SPRINKLES. 

I had a list of random errands to run on Friday morning and quickly abandoned ship when I got the urge to plant Spring flowers. I took my motivation and ran with it, re-doing all of my porch pots and the flowers around our mailbox. I may even head back to the store this weekend for more. Who am I!? I haven't always liked to plant and garden but I'm learning to appreciate it more- and already planning next weekend's plantings.

Here are a few of my favorites from the week:

Tomato and Roasted Lemon Salad- this has my name written all over it. So does this Roasted Garlic and Tomato Lentil Salad

Oberon season is here!! (well, it has been for almost a month) This is my most favorite beer and it's perfect for these warm sunny days ahead. Easy drinking and just delicious. 

Mark and I recently started using Harry's razors and I must say, I'm impressed! The subscription service makes it very convenient and the price is on point. And gone are my days of paying for overprices women's razors. 

Olive Tapenade- I always forget how easy this stuff is to make yourself. Serve it with pita chips or endive for a quick and easy app. 

Let's put Missing Richard Simmons on the list of strangest things I have ever been into. I can't explain why this podcast was so good- but it was. I think it was just so out there and weird and I couldn't stop listening. 

And while we're on the subject of podcasts, Katie Couric's interview with Ina Garten was so enjoyable! I didn't even know Katie had a podcast until this week. In the archives she also has an interview 

Essie Splash of Grenadine is my new favorite pink for spring! It looks nothing like the photo if you order on Amazon- search for it on Pinterest for an accurate depiction of the lilac-y color. 

Spring front door paint ideas that will give your exterior an instant refresh (via Southern Living). Our front door is red but I've had the urge recently to give it a facelift. Do I go with just a brighter red or change it up all together?  I love all these fun punchy colors! 

Hope you all are enjoying a relaxing Sunday! 


Friday, April 21, 2017

Cinnamon Olive Oil Banana Muffins



It's me with a muffin recipe. AGAIN. But hear me out!  I had two lonely, and very ripe bananas sitting on the counter and instead of wasting them, I decided to mix up a quick batch of breakfast muffins. These came as a surprise this morning and both of my kids LOVED them. I like that they're not super sweet, especially because I can't have Will thinking we eat cupcakes for breakfast.

I'm not one for winging it while baking, but I did here and the result was excellent, which is why I'm sharing it with all of you. I pulled a few of my favorite muffin recipes, mixed the ingredients in one bowl (with my almost 4 year old assistant) and crossed my fingers when they went into the oven. You almost can never go wrong with banana baked goods! 



These muffins sound fancy with the olive oil in them and all but let's be honest here, I'm sure that unsalted butter or coconut oil would work just as well. Olive oil totally makes the recipe sound better but in all honesty, I find myself using olive oil in my baking a lot. No melting necessary and hello! Good fats. The result is a semi nutty, slightly sweet breakfast treat that you can feel good about giving your kids. I'm really into using honey or maple syrup as natural sweeteners when I bake for my little ones to keep everything free of refined sugar. The best part about this recipe? Everything can be mixed in ONE BOWL! These muffins are an all around win! I love these with fruit for an easy breakfast for Will and Kate. I also think they would be a great pre-workout snack! Enjoy!


Cinnamon Olive Oil Banana Muffins

1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup mashed banana (about 2-3 medium bananas)
14 cup honey or maple syrup
1/4 cup almond milk
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1.5 cups white whole wheat flour
2 tsp. cinnamon, plus more for sprinkling
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with liners or spray with cooking spray.

In a large mixing bowl, combine olive oil, banana, honey, almond milk, eggs and vanilla. Mix until combined. Add in dry ingredients (flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt). Mix until everything is incorporated and you have a nice thick muffin batter. Fill liners with batter a little over 3/4 way full. 

Bake for 16-18 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes. 


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Easter Eats

{image via}

Easter is only a few days away and we are enjoying this week getting ready for time with our families for the holiday. I rounded up some recipes from the archives if you're still menu planning and need some inspiration. One thing is for sure...Easter with my family on Sunday is going to include my Lemon Almond Ricotta Cake. It's the perfect Easter dessert!

Breakfast/Brunch- 

Classic Belgian Waffles
Crustless Mini Quiches
Lemon Ricotta Pancakes
Tomato Corn and Zucchini Fritatta

Small Bites/Starters-

Sweet Pea Crostini
Steamed Mini Atichokes with Butter Dijon Aioli

Salads/Sides-

Baby Greens with Figs, Goat Cheese + Champagne Vinaigrette
Endive, Citrus and Arugula Salad
Green Bean Salad with Pickled Onions + Fried Almonds
Brussels Sprouts Leaf Salad

Desserts-

Coconut Macaroons
Lemon Almond Ricotta Cake (THE BEST)
Strawberry and Mascarpone Filled Cupcakes