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
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.