Friday, June 28, 2013

Five on Friday

Happy Friday, friends! I'm super excited that it is Friday because we have a fun weekend to look forward to. First, though, here are five things I am loving today:

one.
I am loving the romper I picked up at Loft this week. Oh the sales that store has been having lately, which I am able to combine with my teacher discount. This is the cutest take on the LBD and I am just itching to wear it this weekend. 
 two.
I had so much fun last night at the June meet-up for The Charlotte Social. It was so much fun meeting these women, many of who I already feel like I know so well and we had a great time sipping on some locally brewed beers at NoDa Brewing Company and Birdsong, where I tried the infamous jalapeno pale ale. We grabbed dinner from the Tin Kitchen food truck, which was fantastic.

 three.
I am loving that my mother and father in law are visiting us this weekend on the way back to their Florida house. I have really missed having them around. I am such a lucky lady to have two wonderful sets of parents. I made this raspberry peach sangria yesterday afternoon and its been chilling in the fridge awaiting their arrival.

 four.
I painted my nails Essie's knockout pout and I am just loving this perfect for summer hue. I've had the bottle for at least a year so I have no idea what collection its from but I am just loving the fun color. 

 five.
I am loving that Corey and I have started discussing plans for our first wedding anniversary. Where has the time gone?! I guess I should order our wedding album, hmm? And maybe finish posting photos. I've been such a slacker with this!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Patriotic Treats

With the 4th of July quickly approaching, I have been thinking (and scouring Pinterest) to get ideas for what red, white, and blue treats I should make. Here are my favorite ideas:

Everyone loves Rice Krispies and they are just so easy. Grab a star shapes cookie cutter and you have an adorable, themed dessert.

Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries are the perfect patriotic fruits. Just add shortcake, marshmallows, or bananas for a festive red, white, and blue kabob.

Who doesn't love strawberries, chocolate, and sprinkles?

Remember poprocks from your childhood? Add them to iced sugar cookies to create a firework in every bite.

And what is a 4th of July celebration without some refreshing adult beverages?

You have probably already seen this blowing up your Pinterest. I love the starfruit. 

Isn't sangria the perfect summer drink? So refreshing and this one is pretty and festive. 

I think serving these alongside a hotdog bar would make the perfect 4th of July celebration. You can bet I'll be sipping on that Patriotic Punch come next Thursday. 

Have a great day, friends!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Strawberry Poppyseed Salad with Grilled Chicken


Yesterday, I made a run over to the district office to drop off some paperwork for my new job then stopped by my parents' home to pick up a few things I had in storage there. Between the two, there is the cutest family run strawberry farm, Bush-N-Vine. They actually grow all kinds of produce but are best known for their strawberries. I went to elementary school with one of the family's children and he used to bring in the most delicious, ripe strawberries for a class snack so when I was passing right by I knew I had to stop and pick up a bucket. 

While the farm is located just outside my hometown of York, there are other storefronts in the Charlotte and Lake Wylie area. If you ever pass a Bush-N-Vine, do yourself a favor and pick up some strawberries. You can thank me later. 

Corey and I needed a major detox after the weekend's festivities and I have been eyeing the strawberry poppyseed salad on Panera's menu for quite some time so I decided to make my own. I found a couple recipes online for a creamy poppyseed dressing but something about mayonnaise and sour cream based dressings really grosses me out so I created a vinaigrette version and it was quite the hit in our household. 

Salad:
4 chicken tenders, marinated and grilled (I use Mojo marinade)
1 bunch romaine, torn
1/2 small onion, diced
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
1 cup mandarin oranges
Feta or goat cheese crumbles

Dressing:
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp poppy seeds

Marinate chicken tenderloins. I love Mojo marinade because it has a citrus flavor. Then, preheat grill and grill until done and no longer pink. I used our Cuisinart griddler so I could do this inside quickly. 

Combine the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, honey, and poppy seeds in a small jar and mix until well combined.  A small mason jar would work perfect for this. 

Place the romaine in a bowl and top with onions, strawberries, mandarin oranges, almonds, and cheese. Slice chicken and place on top of salad. Then, pour the dressing on top, trying to make sure everything is evening coated. Serve immediately. (Makes enough for 4 entree sized salads)

If the dressing starts to separate in the jar before you're ready to use it, just give it a shake. It will save in the refrigerator if there is extra. Enjoy!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Misc. Monday

Happy Monday, friends! How was your weekend?

Corey and I had a super busy and fun weekend. All week last week, I worked to finish up our guest room. Y'all, I totally furnished the entire thing (new mattress and furniture and all) and decorated it for about $700. I'm totally impressed with my thrifty-ness. I picked up a dresser and nightstand from the Salvation Army. My husband thought I was totally nuts until it came out looking like this:

More details on our little guest room re-do soon. It was finished just in time because three of our friends from Greenville came into town for the weekend. It was nice to spend time with them over the weekend. We headed to the Epicenter on Friday night for a really late dinner and drinks. Then, on Saturday, we headed to the boat and grilled out later that evening.

Sunday was spent relaxing and neatening up the apartment. Then, we had a kickball game and grilled out at our friends' new house afterwards. The weekend was jam packed but so, so fun.

I announced on my teaching blog yesterday that I'll be teaching 5th grade gifted and talented this coming year.  While I'm sad to leave 3rd grade, I'm also so, so excited to try something new. I was offered a job on my second day in Charlotte and feel so fortunate as this is a tough time for teachers. 

I scored this Kate Spade bag in a 70% off flash sale and started carrying it over the weekend. I just love the contrast of the super bright coral with the natural fabric. I have just been loving wearing summer clothes these past couples weeks. WIWW is back next week so snap away those OOTD's!

Happy Monday!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

DIY: Monogram Hydrangea Wreath

Since we moved into our apartment, I have been itching to make a summer wreath for our front door. Since we were in a high rise in Hoboken, I didn't do wreaths except for Christmas so I am excited to have one on our door now. I think it makes a home feel so much more welcoming. 

I had seen a couple monogrammed hydrangea wreaths on Pinterest that I just loved. I've been totally obsessed with hydrangeas since our wedding.


I picked up the supplies I needed from Michaels and the flowers were 50% off. Between Hobby Lobby, Michael's and A.C. Moore, you can pretty much guarantee silk florals will be on sale at any given moment so never pay full price for those. I bought 3 hydrangea blooms for my wreath, a grapevine wreath, a roll of burlap ribbon, and a wooden letter W. Then, the first thing I did when I got home was paint my W so it would be dry when I was ready to craft.

Start with your wreath laying flat. I did mine on the carpet with a glass of wine catching up on all my DVR'd shows. 

Use a hot glue gun to attach your hydrangeas. Make sure to lay them out first so you know where you want to place them. My mom (who is an awesome wreath maker) would probably suggest using floral wire to wire them to the wreath but hot glue worked for me.  

 Attach your monogram letter with hot glue. Don't be shy when using the glue. More is better here so nothing falls off on a windy day.

Next, I fashioned a bow out of burlap and glued it to my wreath. This is the only style bow I know how to make. My mom can freehandedly make bowdabra style bows and they look gorgeous. One day I'll have to learn that. If we need a bow making tutorial, I can do that next time. This one is pretty easy to make. 

Then, hang it on your door and admire every time you come and go. 



Monday, June 17, 2013

Weekend recap!

Happy Monday, friends! I hope you all had a great weekend. On Friday, Corey and I headed out to Lake Wylie after he got home from work to check on our boat. It was shipped from New Jersey and we hadn't seen it since Hurricane Sandy so we weren't sure what kind of shape it would be in - cleanliness wise. We grabbed a quick dinner on the way home then relaxed with a few drinks on our patio.

Saturday morning, we woke up bright and early. Corey had a golf clinic and I went to the gym. Right now I am using the gym in our apartment complex, which is a nice apartment gym but totally un-motivating when I'm the only one in there staring out at the pool. I've got to choose a real gym this week! Then, we headed to the Farmer's Market and stocked up on fresh fruits and veggies for the week.

We had a quick sandwich then headed back out to the boat, armed with a rented power washer and some cleaning supplies and spent a few hours cleaning up. Now, it looks much prettier! And I got a little sun for our night out.  

Saturday was one of Corey's college friend's birthdays. His sweet girlfriend got a group of people together at Cajun Queen in Elizabeth for a little surprise dinner. It was really great to see some of our old friends and the birthday boy was just thrilled with the surprise. I was totally impressed by the restaurant. So, so good!

On Sunday morning, we took Riley on a walk and then packed a cooler for the boat. We met my parents at the lake to celebrate Father's Day with my dad. Of course, Riley came too. 

We grilled out on Sunday night. We picked up a couple organic steaks at the Farmer's Market. They were expensive but SO delicious. They reeled me in with a sign that said, "Do you know what's in your beef?" and listed a list of hormones found in your typical grocery store beef. Its Corey and my goal to switch to all organic foods a year before we want to try to have children but I guess we'll need to do some saving! We grilled corn and I made cucumber and tomato salad. This was such a good, fresh meal. 

This week, I have some big projects around the apartment and will be trying to start on a few things on my to-do list for my new class. What did you do over the weekend?



Friday, June 14, 2013

5 on Friday

Happy Friday friends! Today I'm linking up with April for 5 on Friday. Here are five things I am loving today:

one.
The cute neon book baskets I ordered for my new classroom. Did I neglect to tell you all I got a new job? More to come on that soon, I promise.

two.
Skinny Asian lettuce cups. This meal has been on my to-try list for oh....about a year but I've just never made them. Big mistake because this was so good. My husband had thirds! Find the recipe here.

three.
Warm weather clothes. I cannot tell you how excited I am to be wearing shorts and dresses on the regular. I don't even want to look at a sweater until at least November. Take that, New Jersey.

four.
The fact that our apartment is almost finished. I'll be finishing up the guest room next week which will be just in time since we'll be having guests stay with us two weekends in a row.

five. 
My dad. Happy almost Father's Day!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Strawberry Banana Protein Smoothie

One of my favorite breakfasts is a protein smoothie. They are just simple and easy to prepare before work, I can enjoy it in the car on the way, and it will keep me full all day long. I really got into these about a year and a half ago when talking with my pre-wedding personal trainer. Although I love weekend brunches, I've never really liked breakfast foods before work when I'm in a hurry and struggle with finding something I want to eat that will boost my metabolism at the most important part of the day and then keep me full with stable blood sugar throughout the morning. While my trainer doesn't recommend enjoying a whole smoothie after a workout when you're trying to loose weight, he did say it is a perfect meal replacement, especially for breakfast. Here's how I make mine (which rings in at about 270 calories):
1 Tbsp. chobani plain non-fat yogurt
1 Tbsp. Natural creamy peanut butter
1 cup Silk Pure Almond unsweetened vanilla almond milk
About 4 frozen strawberries
1/3 of a banana (about 4 small slices)
3/4 a scoop of protein
3-4 ice cubes

Just combine all ingredients (except ice) and blend. Then, add ice to adjust to your desired consistency and blend. Enjoy - easy as that!

I use an immersion blender. Even though we have a nicer one that we got for the wedding, I really love that I can blend right in the cup and not make a mess and then do a quick hand wash of the immersion wand and I'm good to go. Mine is pink:
Although I'm using something else right now, my favorite protein is Designer Whey French Vanilla. The package looks like this:
Its available at GNC or here at drugstore.com. My personal trainer recommended this because a whole scoop is only 100 calories which is perfect for women trying to tone up or just get needed protein in their diet and not bulk up. Plus, I think it tastes really good.  

Since this recipe calls for part of a banana, I just slice up a couple the first time I make a smoothie. Then, plop the slices on a piece of wax paper, let them freeze, and seal them in a ziplock baggie for future use. 

Other really great variations of this smoothie are strawberry and blackberry and pineapple and mango.  I got a pumpkin and honey protein smoothie at a health food restaurant last year so I'm looking forward to trying to make one of those this fall. Enjoy!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Lately!

Happy Monday, friends! I hope you all had a fabulous weekend. Ours was very nice and spent settling in in Charlotte and meeting up with some old friends from Greenville who now live in Charlotte as well for a kickball game. All of my post have been scheduled lately since I've been super busy getting moved. Here's a peek at what I've been up to lately.
I had a fro-yo date and walk around our neighborhood with one of my best girlfriends on Memorial Day. It was a perfect day in Hoboken. I'm really going to miss this view. 

Then, on my official last night in Hoboken she and I had sangria and the best sushi ever. How did we wait until my very last night to try a new sushi restaurant?

The next day the movers came and this was a look at our apartment afterwards. This picture makes me a little sad for our first married home. Even though this apartments was super tiny and super expensive, I am so, so glad I got to live in the NYC area for a couple years. I think its something every girl should do if they get the opportunity.  See this post for why. Once our apartment was empty, Riley and I headed to Corey's parents' house. 

We arrived in Charlotte and I had to leave Riley alone in the new apartment for 20 minutes to run a quick errand. When I came back, he'd scratched up the door of the brand new apartment and was looking very proud of himself.  Cavaliers are notorious for having horrible separation anxiety and Riley was not having being left alone in a strange place. 

 
Our furniture arrived and I've been doing lots and lots of unpacking. This is a view of what our guest room looked like when we first arrived. Luckily we could contain the mess to the guest room and close the door. Now, we're almost totally unpacked except for a few minor things.

Over the weekend, we took a break from unpacking and all errands to lay by the pool. I am by far the pastiest person in Charlotte so I need to get a little color to back up my Tan Towels.

We bought patio furniture and I am loving relaxing outside with my boys. It is really nice to have our own little outdoor space and this is by far Riley's favorite part of the apartment. He just loves sitting out here and looking for things to bark at. 

I have to say our apartment is turning out super cute so there will be a home tour eventually. Corey and I are getting settled in but having a little culture shock having to drive everywhere. Its nice not to have to valet our car anymore (and even nicer to have 2 cars) but it is kind of crazy to us to have to drive to dinner.  We even had to drive to the park to take Riley for a walk. All in all, though, things are going well and we are getting adjusted. 

Happy Monday, friends!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Turkey Stuffed Peppers

Today I want to share with you my recipe for turkey stuffed peppers. Stuffed peppers are such a warm, delicious meal and Corey and I love them. I've tried so many recipes that were almost perfect and finally adapted them to make one of my own that I just love. I make these with ground turkey in our home because Corey and I almost never eat ground beef. Its part of this health kick we've been on over the last year. I always buy the leanest turkey available.

First, gather your ingredients and pour yourself a glass of wine.

  • 1 lb lean ground turkey
  • 4 large green bell peppers
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 clove minced garlic or 1 Tbsp. on the jarred stuff
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder 
  • 1 Tbsp. oregano
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice 
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 jar marinara sauce
  • mozzarella cheese 

Begin by preheating the oven to 400. Meanwhile bring a pot of water to boil on the stove.

Slice the tops of peppers off and remove the seeds. Dice the tops of peppers and set aside with your onion.
Brown turkey in a large saucepan with 1 tsp. garlic powder, 1 Tbsp. minced garlic, 1 Tbsp. oregano (or 1 tsp. dried) and salt to taste. After about 2 minutes, add diced onion and peppers. I usually wait a few minutes to add these since they will later cook in the oven and I don't want them to be too over done.

Meanwhile, cook 1 cup of brown rice. I usually just use Minute Rice. Set aside.
Drop peppers into boiling water to blanch for 2-3 minutes. This ensures that they will be cooked through by the end. Remove and set aside.
Once meat is browned, add 1 can of diced tomatoes and the brown rice to the meat mixture and combine well.
Add 1 cup of pasta sauce to the bottom of an 8 x 8 baking dish. Stuff each pepper with the meat mixture, patting down so that they are packed firm. Then add peppers to the baking dish.

Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake 40-45 minutes until peppers are cooked through. Remove foil and add cheese to the top of each pepper and cook an additional five minutes or until cheese is melted. (You can also broil to make cheese more crispy - just be sure to keep a close eye on the peppers so they don't burn!)

Ladle pasta sauce on a plate then place a pepper on top. Enjoy!

*Hint: The next time I made these, I stuck them back in the oven under the broiler for 2-3 minutes. Even better!