Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Odds, Ends, and SUPER exciting news!

This morning was COLD. Yep, a whopping 21 degrees outside...but no snow, so I guess I am still okay with my decision to move to North Carolina ;  )

Our dog Bindi has very little fur which makes her the ideal candidate for a dog; super low maintenance. She doesn't need to be groomed per se, other than nail trimmings and baths. Unfortunately, this lack of fur combined with my husband's strict no-pets-in-the-bed policy, make it chilly for her as temps fall. Last year we purchased a heated dog bed mat for her which she diligently pushed over to the side every single night. This year, I reluctantly gave up my beloved heated blanket for the princess and needless to say she's been very cozy ever since...





Yesterday we had our Thanksgiving meal at the office. It was catered by Waiter's Choice and the food did not disappoint!




 Our extremely-hard working office  Manager Mom Vanessa always does an incredible job at putting together our activities. She is constantly throwing events for her church community and friends and I am always super impressed. I keep telling her she needs to put together a blog or start a business!




I'm not kidding, our office was downright festive!

Let me temper your expectations of "super exciting news" Leslie and Mom we are not currently expecting....but we are finally breaking ground today!!!! They are digging the footings as I type this and that means it's official; we are building our new home!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

My Favorite Things Linkup

Today I am participating in the second annual My Favorite Things Linkup! If you're interested in linking up too all you have to do is put together your own list of favorite things today and post back to one of the host-blogs (on the graphic below). If you miss today you can still participate on 11/25 (stocking stuffers), and 12/2 (friends & family gifts under $100).



Although this year Brad and I decided to focus on the house in lieu of gifts, it was still fun to put together this list. Plus I tried out Polyvore for the first time and I think I'm addicted!  Just remember the true spirit of Christmas has absolutely nothing to do with what's under your tree : )

The Healing Apron
 


1. A long cozy robe like this one  from Victoria Secret! I like it best in Inkblot... Bonus, right now  it's on Sale for $49.50.

2. Smashbox Travel Size Kit in Full Exposure . Although right now this particular set is sold-out, the colors are perfect, the size makes it easy to pack for trips, and at $22.00 this kit is very affordable.

3. Pulltaps Pulltex Champagne Stopper from Surlatable . If $5.95 is all it takes to keep my bubbly-bubbly, I'm in!

4. Okay so this one is a definite splurge ($298) but I absolutely love this Cedar Street Maise handbag from Kate Spade. The color (mulled wine) would go with just about anything and it looks so elegant. Considering the price tag, I will just have to  keep dreaming for now : )

5.While this scarf from Sole Society ($30) is also already sold out too you can find so many reasonably-priced yet equally cute plaid scarves like this one from Target ($16.99)

What's on your list this year?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Weekend Recap: Roasted Multi-Colored Carrots & Creamless Winter Chowder

It feels like a Monday doesn't it? I had such a hard time picking myself up out of bed this morning. Charlotte is supposed to get a potentially record breaking cold front coming in this week that I could definitely do without...

We had a good little weekend. On Friday we made bbq sandwiches and rented a 3D movie through Vudo.We decided on Edge of Tomorrow (my husband's choice). It was akin to watching a video game; lots of action, semi-entertaining, but no real character development.

Saturday we drove out to the land because it's ALL CLEAR woohoo! Bindi must have shared our excitement because she was running up and down the lot and seemed to be in her glory. The only bit of bad news is we have to even out the back-corner of our lot which we didn't account for in our budget. The good news, If the weather cooperates we should break ground this week!


After we visited the land again with Brad's parents and then hung out at their house for a bit.

That night we went to a Fish Camp (similar to Calabash) for dinner, this was a first for me. I like fried shrimp so I was a happy camper, and it was very casual so it didn't matter than my boots were dirty from traipsing around the lot.

Sunday we did a drive-by of the house that has our brick. Lucky us, Boral decided to switch to gas to fire the bricks which could potentially alter the appearance. It was so nice seeing a real-life example of what we picked. This change really stresses me out because choosing brick was not a fun process and there's no way of really knowing what we'll get...



Sunday night I made the BEST dinner. I slow roasted a pork loin and multi-colored  carrots with honey and balsamic vinegar. I made a small side of mashed potatoes too. It was so satisfying on a cold night... and I defy anyone to make a better tasting carrot! I also used similar ingredients to make a delicious, hearty, and healthy chowder to pack for lunch this week.

I found these multi-colored organic carrots at Trader Joe's for $1.99. While you could use regular orange carrots for the recipes I am posting below, the multi-colored do have a slightly different flavor (although still consistent with a root-veg flavor)

Ingredients:
1/2 tbsp Honey
1/2 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar 
1 Sprig of Romemary (remove leaves)
1lb Multi-Colored Carrots peeled and chopped (like photo above)
 Cracked Black Pepper  (to taste)
Garlic Salt (to taste)

Directions:
1. Preheat Oven to 350F
2. Line a roasting pan with parchment paper.
3. Toss together rosemary, carrots, vinegar, and honey. Season with garlic salt and pepper.
4. Roast for 50 minutes . 
5. Taste & adjust seasoning if necessary and enjoy!


Ingredients:
2 slices of chopped Bacon (optional)
5 cups Chicken Stock
1 head of Cauliflower (Chopped into quarters)
1 Bay Leaf
1 Sprig Rosemary 
1 Clove Garlic
1 Yellow Onion
1 lb multi-colored carrots diced
2 potatoes diced
1 cup of corn (fresh, frozen, or canned) 
Salt & Pepper (to taste)

Directions:
 1) In a pan prepare Bacon as desired and set aside. 
2) Add Broth, Bay Leaf, and Cauliflower to a large pot and cover. Cook until fork-tender (about 5 minutes). Remove bay leaf and set aside to cool .
3) Reserving 1 cup of broth to the side. Add the remaining broth and all of the cauliflower to a blender and combine until creamy. Keep the mixture in the blender for now.
4) In the same large pot add: reserved broth, rosemary, onion, garlic, carrots, salt, and pepper. Cover and cook until carrots and potatoes are tender (about 15 minutes)
5) Add in corn and creamy cauliflower mixture. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. You can thin out with a bit of lowfat milk if needed.  Continue to cook another 10-15 minutes until flavors are combined. 
6) Top with crumbled bacon & Enjoy!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Get In My Kitchen!

For this weeks Five on Friday I have kitchen on the brain. My current kitchen doesn't have a ton of storage space and literally every corner is crammed, but in 6 months (hopefully) that will all change! Here are the goods that I've been ogling....






// One//

This beautiful French Kitchen Marble Cheese Dome by Crate & Barrel. Not only will this match my kitchen perfectly, but who says it's just for cheese? I would use it for just about everything; cupcakes, breads, tiny little appetizers ...swoon. This will be in my new kitchen : )

//Two//

The Nesco Snack Master Pro Food Dehydrator . Growing up we had a dehydrator that made the best dried-fruit, jerky, and fruit roll-ups. I want to be able to make homemade snacks like I enjoyed as a kid so this appliance is on my eventual-buy list.

//Three//

The Pottery Barn Emma Cake Stand. I discovered while baking a cake this week that I had no cake stand. I improvised with a cutting board and a glass bowl, which worked but wasn't really ideal. The white design matches everything I have now so this would be a good addition once I have the space for it.

//Four//

Threshold's Simplicity 2-Part  Beverage Dispenser. So part of the reason I am looking forward to moving into this house is that I will be able to entertain more often. This duel compartment (one for ice or fruit) is perfect for parties.

//Five//

Real Simple's Roll Out Lid Organizer . I don't know about you, but the lids for my pans and cooking pots are all over the place. When planning our kitchen, I asked my cabinet maker about organization-solutions and she suggested buying things like this separately rather than building them in. She explained it would be just as efficient and cost much less. This particular organizer is nice because it will roll out towards you.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Grandma's 82nd and my Pinterest Fail ...

My Grandma Mary turned 82 on Tuesday ! Doesn't she look fabulous?!



To celebrate I made my first bundt-birthday cake! My Mother-in-law gave us this heavy-duty Pampered Chef Stoneware Fluted Pan, and I've been dying to use it....


But I was a little intimidated because baking is still fairly new to me.  I saw visions of broken cake and a crummy mess, so I sought the advice of my SIL Leslie. Leslie walked me through how to properly prep (season) stoneware. She explained that if I was making a chocolate cake I could prepare a mixture of cocoa powder and melted butter and simply paint on a thin layer to prevent sticking. If making vanilla you would use flour but be sure to shake out the excess.

 I also found a great tip on the internet; when you take your cake out of the oven immediately place it face down on a kitchen towel that has been rinsed with steaming hot water. The steam will help the cake gently break free from the pan. I waited a few minutes, said a little prayer, and then lifted my pan up from the towel to find this...



Not bad! From here I carefully transferred the cake to a cooling rack. When it was cooled completely I moved to the next stage--frosting. I found a blog that walked through a heated frosting-pour method that supposedly would result in a fondant look-alike. I won't disclose where I found this advice, but this was not only extremely messy, but sadly it just didn't work (for me)...


Yikes, a Pinterest fail indeed!  I tried to recover by patching up and smoothing out the clumps, but it was too late for my little cake. The website I looked at did specify that this method could be used on a bundt cake so I am not sure what went wrong. Next time I will just apply it with a frosting spatula and call it a day.

The good news is the cake tasted better than it looked, and my Grandmother seemed to really enjoy her birthday : )

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Make Ahead Meal Resource: November


Last month I started a Make-Ahead Meal Resource that contained delicious freezable meals minus the cream-of-you name it  soups and other icky ingredients often found in these types of dishes. In addition to recipes, I have posted some great tips and tricks to get you started. If you missed the post you can find it here . My favorite recipes from October were  Skinny Taste's Buffalo Chicken Chili & Table for Two's Mississippi Roast. I definitely recommend giving them a try!

Make-Ahead Entree List...

1) Lidia's Italy Eggplant Parmigiana
2) The Cozy Apron's Creamy White Bean Stew With Smokey Bacon.
3) Top Secret Recipes' Pasta e Fagioli  Note: I make with Turkey and prepare Ditali fresh
4) The Pioneer Woman's Sunday Night Stew Note: I add button mushrooms and stir in sour cream before serving reheated mashed potatoes
5) The Healing Apron's Basic Chili
6) The Healing Apron's Authentic Tuscan Papa Al Pomodoro
7) Oh She Glows Holiday Soup For The Soul
8) Paula Deen's White Bean Chicken Chili 
9) Skinny Taste's Buffalo Chicken Chili
10) Table for Two's Mississippi Roast
11) Clt Eats' Jambalaya
12) Forty Something's Thai Red Curry Chicken
13) Damn Delicious' Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup.

NOVEMBER

This month I am making: My Recipes' Chinese Pork Tenderloin with Garlic Sauced Noodles (Suggested by my friend Laura), The Healing Apron's Healthy Turkey & Veggie Chili (Recipe Below), Food.com's Low & Slow Boston Butt Pork BBQ (Oven Method)  (Brad actually made this one), The Healing Apron's Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (Freezer Edition) , and Damn Delicious' Cauliflower Chowder 
  
My Shopping List (anything in red I already had). Download your own printable copy here


Cost: Not Factoring what I already had (quite a bit in this case), I spent $79.00 which provided lunch for both of us for 4 days, dinner for 7 days, and dessert for the entire week - not bad at all!
 
The Healing Apron's Healthy Turkey & Veggie Chili:



Don't mind the picture, it's not the prettiest ( I snapped it at lunch at work) !


Ingredients: 
1 lb lean white-meat turkey
1 Packet Low Sodium Chili Seasoning Packet, or Prepare your own here 
1 diced bell pepper (any color is fine)
1 cup corn (fresh, frozen, or canned is fine) 
 15oz diced tomatoes & juice (fresh or canned is fine)
 15oz  tomato sauce (fresh or canned is fine)
 15oz red kidney beans (dried or canned is fine, if using canned rinse & drain) 
A few dashes of Franks Red Hot Sauce
1/2 cup green onions cut on bias (for topping)
Grated Cheese for topping (optional) 

Directions:
1) Brown Meat in a large skillet, drain fat
2) Reduce heat to medium. Add all ingredients (minus toppings), and cook slowly 15-20 minutes or until pepper softens.
3) Allow to cool first if freezing, or serve with cheese and scallions. 

 If you have any suggestions for make-ahead meals I would love to hear them below!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Weekend Recap: Briefcase, Family Dinner, and Kitchen Pulls

This morning I towed around my most valued possession. It's old and a little beat up, but that's part of its charm. When I went home last month my mom gave me the one item of my dad's I requested, his briefcase. I know it seems like a strange thing to ask for, but my dad used it his entire life and I have so many memories of him using it.The briefcase was a  graduation gift from his parents. It was often found sprawled on our living room floor as he paid bills, and it still smells like home---and him. I took it out of my closet and put my laptop in it today; I feel just a little bit closer to him, and I love that.



This was a great weekend. Friday my friend Laura came over. We had a delicious spread of brie and pumpkin butter, veggies, pimento cheese, spinach Greek yogurt dip, and brown butter cookies. I made another batch of  mulled wine and we just cozied upon the couch with good conversation. My friend Erin bought me the cutest monogrammed cheese board from Pottery Barn for our wedding that I used--so cute!



Saturday Brad and I went to the land as it's starting to be cleared. I absolutely love all of the trees, the Carolina pines remind me a bit of the Adirondacks...


I was bummed to find out that they are changing the mixture of the Boral Brick we chose, so now building has been delayed until we get a sample to confirm if we still want to use that brick. Building a house is full of ups and downs so this is just another (small) bump in the road!

Saturday night we went to Angela's Italian Restaurant to have dinner with my Grandma-Mary, Uncle Tom (H), Aunt Judy (visiting from Texas), Aunt Joanne, Uncle Tom (C), Uncle Ken and Aunt Pam. We ate SO much good fun, and had fun listening to the live singer who performed Sinatra covers.




On Sunday we visited several more model homes to scout ideas. If you're building I cannot recommend doing this enough. Every time we visit models we always leave with more great ideas!

Currently I am over-thinking kitchen pulls... I need your opinion, are cup pulls too trendy?



Or should we go more traditional?


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