Fun Friday Finds

I haven’t created a Fun Friday Finds post in ages, so I have some fun things to share with you today. Here are the things I’m loving lately and I’d love for you to share what you’re digging in the comments!

Nivea Color and Care Lip Care in Sheer Berry

This lip balm is wonderful. I’ve always been loyal to Fresh Sugar lip balm, and while I still love it, this one is much more moisturizing for these colder Fall days. I’ve been a big fan of Nivea products since my mom used to lather my face with it after bath time as a child, and this one does not disappoint!

nivea

 

OXO Grape Cutter

My friend introduced this to me over the summer as I suffered through cutting grapes for my boys day after day. It might sound silly, but it has completely streamlined an otherwise tedious task, one I perform often. If you have small kids, definitely check it out!

grape-cutter

 

Pile on the Miles Challenge

This fitness challenge, set up by Monica Olivas of Run Eat Repeat, allows you to set an exercise goal for yourself between Nov. 1-26. It encourages you remain accountable for your exercise during this season of indulgence. Your goal can be anything-minutes, miles, walking, running, weigh lifting, you name it. I signed up to run 3 miles 3x/week, which seems like a realistic goal for me. You check in and log your activity daily and can even win a number of raffle prizes! What is your goal?

Pile on the Miles

 

Michael Raven Bootie

I bought this bootie early this fall and have been psyched with the purchase. First, they’re adorable. Second, you can slip into them easily-to straps, no zippers, perfect for on-the-go. Lastly, they have a small wedge, giving this short person a little lift, but I’m still able to walk in them all day and never experience any foot pain or soreness.  I’ve gotten many, many compliments on them, and for $59.99 (I think I paid even less with a coupon), you can’t go wrong!

bootie

So, what are you into lately?

 

Herbed Salmon and Spinach

Hello and welcome to November! I’m a little partial to November, as it’s also my birthday month and we get to celebrate Thanksgiving! Who doesn’t love an excuse to eat massive amounts of comfort food and take a nap?? I’m hosting this year, so I’m looking for any and all recommendations for side dishes. Is there anything you and your family love and would like to share?  Please do so in the comments!

In the meantime, I’ve put together one of my favorite weeknight meals. It’s no secret that I love fish, so we generally eat fish 2-3 nights a week. This one combines salmon with garlic, oil, and spices for a super flavorful dish. In combination with garlicky sautéed spinach and it’s pretty much my favorite meal.  Here’s how it came together…

Ingredients:

1 lb. salmon, cut into 3-4 filets

2 tbsp. olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp. Herbs d’Provence

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

1 box fresh baby spinach

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Combine the olive oil, 3 cloves of minced garlic, herbs d’Provence, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and mix well. I use a zester to mince the garlic, it’s super easy.

herbedsalmon1

Cut the salmon into 3-4 filets and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

herbedsalmon2

Generously spread the oil/garlic/spice mixture evenly over each filet.

herbedsalmon3

herbedsalmon4

Place the salmon in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Smaller pieces may cook more quickly.

herbedsalmon5

With about 5 minutes left for the salmon to bake, place the spinach in a sauté pan on medium low heat.  Once the first pieces have begun to wilt, add the last clove of minced garlic and a small pinch of salt.

herbedsalmon6

Serve with a nice glass of white wine and enjoy!

herbedsalmon7

South Carolina & Slow Cooker Sausage, Peppers, & Onions

Hello!

I arrived home last night from an amazing girl’s weekend with my college roommate, Emily, in South Carolina. It was really nice to get away and spend time with my friend, her family, and more friends. It was perfect mix of activity and relaxation, eating salads and drinking wine. Here are some photos from my trip:

Chardonnay at the airport.  There is nothing like sitting down to a glass of wine, alone, at the airport!

Chardonnay

Garden salad with crabmeat…yum.

Emily and I took a 20 mile bike ride along the Swamp Rabbit Trail in Greenville County. It was a perfect Fall day and so nice to get outside and sweat a little.

sc3 sc4

The trail took us by Furman University.  This the Belltower-isn’t it beautiful?

sc5

Spinach salads with goat cheese, cranberries, and apples.  I forgot to take a picture of the pizza, breadsticks, and beer-whoops?

sc6

Taking a rest in Travelers Rest-it’s only fair.

img_5865

After our bike ride, we got massages at Urban Nirvana Woodruff Rd. If you live in the area-GO. And ask for Hannah, you won’t regret it. When you’re done, check out the hilarious tea towel collection in the lobby. This was one of the more appropriate ones…

sc7

Friday night was drinks at Aloft and dinner at Soby’s with our friends Karen and Carley. Unfortunately, I forgot to get a picture of the four of us together.  We must’ve been having too much fun! 😉

sc8

We were invited to a beautiful brunch at Emily’s mom’s house…here is Ms. Pam sporting a shirt from my favorite show, A Chef’s Life! She made cranberry juice ice cubes with berries inside…such a hit! Her cheese grits, cinnamon apple french toast, biscuits, and bacon weren’t so terrible either. Thank you so much!!

sc9

Ms. Pam’s beautiful table. Who knew Bibb lettuce would look so gorgeous as a centerpiece? LOVE it.

sc10

Before I left on my trip, I prepped the easiest slow-cooker meal I’ve ever made, sausage, peppers, & onions. Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:sausage1

2 lbs. sausage links ( sweet or spicy)

2 bell peppers, I used one red and one green

1 large onion

1 tbsp. salt

1 tsp. pepper

Directions:

Slice the peppers and onions and place in the slow cooker.  Sprinkle salt and pepper over the vegetables.

sausage2

While you chop the veggies, sear the sausages in a skillet over medium heat.

sausage3

After the sausage has been browned on all sides, remove and slice into chunks. The sausage will not be cooked through entirely, this is okay.

sausage4

Add the sausage to the slow cooker, cover, and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6 hours.

sausage5

This can be eaten alone, stirred in marinara over pasta, or on a bulkie roll. You could also add it to homefries and serve with eggs for a filling breakfast. However you make it, enjoy!

sausage6

Fish Chowder

After a long hot summer, the chilly days of Autumn have finally set in. I love Fall weather in New England-the leaves changing, the nip in the air, the cozy sweaters, and of course the amazing comforting meals! The days of bright tomatoes, sweet corn, and plump blueberries have passed and we welcome beautiful squash, starchy potatoes, and crisp apples. Today’s recipe is one I’d never tried before and it was a big success. Fresh fish comes together with bacon, onions, fennel, potatoes and thyme in a creamy warm broth. It’s delicious! Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:

1/2 lb. bacon, diced

5 medium potatoes, diced

1 bulb fennel, diced

1 onion, diced

1 cup white wine

3 lbs. white fish-I used haddock and cod

2 tbsp. thyme

3 bay leaves

1 tbsp. olive oil

3 tbsp. salt

1 tbsp. pepper

5 cups fish stock (Whole Foods has a tasty stock in the freezer section)

1 pint heavy cream

Directions:

First, dice the potatoes, toss with olive oil, 1 tbsp. salt, half the pepper and the thyme.  Bake at 400 degrees, spread evenly on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet, for 45 minutes.

fish chowder

While the potatoes cook, dice the fennel and onion.

fish chowder

fish chowder

In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, saute’ the bacon on medium heat.
fish chowder

Transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate or dish.

fish chowder

Add the onion and fennel and the remaining salt and pepper to the pot and saute’ on medium heat. Once the onion and fennel have become translucent, about 8-10 minutes, raise the heat to high and add the white wine and bay leaves. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, scrape up the dark bits from the bottom of the pan. These bits have tons of flavor and add a depth to the soup. Also-if you don’t want to use wine, you can always substitute it with one cup of stock.

fish chowder

Add the (thawed) fish stock to the pot and bring to a boil. Once the potatoes are finished roasting, add them to the pot with the heavy cream.  I generally leave the broth on simmer until I’m ready to serve.  At that point, I bring the broth to a boil and add the diced fish.  The fish doesn’t take long to cook-only about 5-7 minutes. Don’t forget to remove the bay leaves before serving!

fish chowder

The family patiently waiting for their Sunday night meal…

Griff and Maisie 10/9/16 Mormor with Maisie, Parker, and Griff 10/9/16

Serve hot with a sprinkle of chives or parsley and a loaf of crusty bread. Enjoy!

Fish Chowder

Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili

Hello and Happy Friday!

First, thank you for all of your very kind words on my last post. I’m humbled by your support and encouragement during such a trying time for me and for our family. Your Facebook messages, comments, emails, texts, calls, and visits reminded me just how loved I am, and my children are. Being a stay-at-home mom is harder than I ever imagined, but I’m starting to enjoy my job again. Seeing my boys play together and become slightly more independent reminds me that this season of life is fleeting. I’m feeling better and better and just hope it continues!

I’ve had a very busy few weeks and will have many great recipes to share with you!  First up is a perfect fall meal that will appeal to just about everyone. Sweet potato and black bean chili can be spiced up or down and having a range of toppings makes it a great option for a crowd. Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:

2 large sweet potatoes

2 15 oz. cans of black beans, drained and rinsed

1 large onion, diced

1 large red bell pepper, diced

2 28 oz. cans of crushed tomatoes

1 packet chili seasoning

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 tbsp. salt

1 tsp. pepper

Directions:

Set the oven to 400 degrees.

Peel and dice the sweet potatoes.  Place them in a bowl with half of the salt, black pepper, and 1 tbsp. olive oil.

sweet potato and black bean chili

Transfer the sweet potatoes to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 45 minutes.

sweet potato and black bean chili

In a large skillet, sautethe onions, peppers, and half of the salt until cooked through, about 10 minutes.

sweet potato and black bean chili

In a large stock pot, add the 2 cans of crushed tomatoes, 2 cans of black beans, the onions and peppers, sweet potatoes, and chili seasoning packet and let simmer, covered, for at least 30 minutes.

vegchili5

sweet potato and black bean chili

Serve with your favorite toppings-sour cream, shredded cheese, scallions, avocado, or bacon.  Hot sauce and hot red pepper flakes are also fun additions. Enjoy!
sweet potato and black bean chili

Where Have You Been?

Where have you been? What’s up with the blog? I’ve been asked these questions many times over the past few months. I’ve neglected the blog and doing what I love for too long. So, here’s what’s been going on…

Truth is, I’ve been struggling with postpartum depression, starting nearly 9 months after my second son was born. I had no idea postpartum issues could come on so late! Apparently it’s not uncommon for depression and anxiety to emerge late in the child’s first year. It is also common among women who are weaning their child from breastfeeding, which I was. My symptoms were slow to emerge. I’d have good days and bad days, but all moms have those! Eventually I found I was waking up every day feeling a heavy sense of dread and counting the hours until the boys napped. I was overwhelmed, anxious, sad, and felt so, so guilty. Guilty that I wasn’t handling motherhood better. Guilty that I wasn’t enjoying my sons. Guilty that I was blessed with these two beautiful, healthy boys and I felt so sad all the time. It was awful and truly depleted me.

It wasn’t until a good friend came to visit in the beginning of August that I realized I needed to seek help. I’m so, so grateful to her for seeing in me what I didn’t want to see in myself. It was also a huge relief to finally confide in someone what I’d been feeling. I’d been pretending to be well for a long time and it was exhausting. Sharing my experience with another mom, one who knew me well and I trusted completely, felt like a massive weight had been lifted from me. This is what postpartum depression looked like for me: tears and a lot of smiles to cover the pain…

ppd1 ppd2 ppd3

The next day I finally admitted to my husband what I’d been feeling. Although he knew I’d been more emotional than usual, he had no idea how much I was hurting and was eager to help me seek help. I also shared my experience with my parents and they immediately stepped in to help me care for the boys. Just knowing I had support was amazing. I could breathe. I reached out to my therapist and we determined medicine and regular talk therapy were the best choices for me. She also reminded me that I am in the trenches still! I have two active boys in diapers who need me for everything. Being a full-time stay-at-home mom is hard. This was so reassuring.

I’ve shared my struggles with a few people.  Without exception, I’ve been met with the most amazing support. Postpartum depression is very common and I was surprised at how many people in my own circle had struggled with it themselves. I’m lucky in so many ways. I’m surrounded my many people who want to lift me up and help me on this journey. My husband has been a constant source of encouragement, assurance, and love. My kids have grown and smiled and played and laughed through this. I was so worried how this would affect them and I can honestly say their little lives have gone on. My oldest understands that sometimes Mama gets sad, but he also knows that I always feel better. He’ll bring me a tissue or give me a hug if I’m having a hard moment and then do something to make me laugh. These small blessings mean everything.

Now, six weeks after I first sought help, I can say the fog is lifting. I’m slowly becoming interested in things again and mothering my kids doesn’t feel like a huge mountain to climb. I’ve also made taking care of myself a priority. I’m lucky to have babysitters a few days a week to give me a break and allow me to do things on my own. I’m running regularly and feeling good about myself physically. I’ve made connections with people I haven’t contacted in years through our shared experiences. I’ve made date nights and just talking with my husband a priority. I’m also considering working a few days a week to give me something outside of the home on which to focus.

To all of you reading this who’ve helped me on this journey, I truly couldn’t have done it without you.  The calls, texts, hugs, food, and just time spent together or helping with my children has meant everything to me.

I’m hoping to blog twice a week from now on.  I’ve been working on some recipes and am eager to share them with you.  So be on the lookout!!

 

Lemon Dill Hummus

 

I never realized how easy making my own hummus could be! And it eclipses store-bought hummus in taste. Simply add all the ingredients to a food processor and voila-you have a creamy, flavorful dip everyone will love. As you know, we’re on a bit of dill kick over here, so I added that and lemon juice to amp up the flavor. You could use any herb or flavor that you love-basil, chives, roasted red peppers, and sun-dried tomatoes are all great flavor boosters. Here’s how it came together:

hummus
Hummus Ingredients

Ingredients:

1 can chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans)

1/4 cup tahini

2 tbsp. olive oil

the zest and juice of 1 lemon

 3 garlic cloves

3 tbsp dill

salt and pepper to taste

hummus

Add all ingredients to the food processor and blend until smooth.  Serve with tortilla chips or chopped fresh veggies for a healthy snack or light meal.  The hummus can also be used a spread on sandwiches.

hummus

Enjoy!

hummus
Hummus and Veggies

 

Grilled Pizza

Good Morning! I hope everyone had a great weekend! We had a great one; we got to spend time with friends and Griffin got to go to a birthday party! It was a great time and I also learned that Capri Sun + a toddler = more energy than I’ve ever seen!  I’ve never seen him run so much in my life!  Ha!

So, I don’t know about you, but I’ve been struggling to come up with new, lighter dinners lately.  I’m loving all the fresh produce the summer offers, but after more salads than I can count, I feel like I need to mix it up a little. Enter grilled pizza. I experimented with different toppings-one was a margherita and the other fig jam, brie, and salad greens. They were actually really simple and the flavors were amazing. They were a hit with everyone-even the picky toddler! Here’s how they came together…

Ingredients:

store-bought pizza dough

olive oil

tomato paste

fresh mozzarella

fresh basil

fig jam

a soft cheese (I really like d’Affinois)

salad greens

lemon vinaigrette

Directions:

Stretch the pizza dough out onto a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Brush olive oil on the dough.

pizza1

Transfer the dough, olive-oiled side down, onto a hot grill. Brush olive oil onto the second side. Cover and allow to cook for 5 minutes.  The dough will begin to bubble, this is when you’ll know to flip it over.

pizza2

pizza3

Have your prepared toppings nearby so you can begin assembling the pizzas.

pizza4

After 5 minutes, transfer the pizzas to the upper grill grates so that the bottom does not burn.  Close the cover and allow to cook until the cheese has melted.

pizza5

I added mixed greens dressed in lemon vinaigrette to the fig jam and brie pie. This was definitely the winner!

pizza6 pizza7

Serve and enjoy!!

Fun Friday Finds 12

It’s Friday!  We have some fun plans with friends this weekend and have been enjoying the hot weather in various pools and at the beach all week.  Griffin has finally agreed to wear his puddle jumper, under extreme duress, but he’s wearing it.  It’s AMAZING.  He swam all over the pool yesterday and even jumped off the edge alone! It’s a freedom he didn’t know existed and frankly, it takes a lot of stress out of pool time for me. Naturally, the puddle jumper is one of my favorite things this week. We bought ours on sale at Amazon last summer and it was worth every penny.  What are you digging this week?

puddlejumperLiquid Armor is available at Staples.  It is a protective covering that is applied to any screen to help avoid scratches and cracks.  It’s an amazing product and takes away the pesky process of trying to adhere a screen cover to your device! Go to the Staples website to see if your local location offers this service.

armor

My friend Emily has been encouraging me to check out Parenthood for months now.  I started last week and am hooked.  It is the delightful story of 4 adult siblings, their parents, and their families navigating their way through life.  The writing is fantastic, the acting wonderful, and the story lines so endearing.  There is also a young character with Asperger’s Syndrome, and the portrayal is spot-on. I’m almost finished Season 2 (I watch on Netflix) and can’t wait for more!

parenthood

I’ve been eating all the dill lately!  Fresh dill is readily available and super fresh right now. It’s a great source of Vitamin C, Folate, and Iron to boot. I’ve been putting it in my eggs every morning and adding it to pasta salads, marinades for fish and chicken, and to salads on the regular. I love the flavor and keep a bunch on my counter in a glass of water. It’s the first thing I see and smell when I walk in the kitchen each morning and it just makes me happy.

dill

I recently visited a small boutique in Reading call Aine’s.  It was wonderful!  I met the owner, Julie, and she was extremely helpful in helping me find a couple of adorable pieces.  I was introduced to the most adorable clothing line, Escapada. The bright colors, patterns, and silhouettes were right up my alley. Check out Aine’s if you are local or the Escapada website if you’re not.  The clothes are SO cute.

escapada

What are you loving this week?  Please share in the Comments!

 

 

Simple Guacamole

Good Morning! Today I’m going share with you my favorite guacamole recipe. Everyone has a version of guacamole that they swear by-some people add a lot to it, some not so much. I fall into the latter group. I think it’s just about perfect with lemon juice, garlic, salt & pepper. That’s it. If I’m feeling really fancy I’ll add some cilantro, but typically it’s just those 4 ingredients and some ripe avocados. Let’s get started…

First, I use ripe avocados. After cutting them in half and removing the pit, I slice the flesh and then scoop it out into a bowl.  

guac1

Next, I mince up the garlic.  My rule of thumb is one clove of garlic for every avocado.  I then liberally add salt to the garlic, right on the cutting board.

guac2

Using the edge of a large knife, I smooth the garlic and salt mixture out to create a paste. This may take a few passes. I do this whenever I’m using garlic in it’s raw form; it takes the bitter taste away.

guac3

Add the garlic paste, lemon juice, and pepper and mix well.  (I typically use the juice of half a lemon for every 2 avocados.)

guac4

Mix together and Enjoy!

guac5