Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Things I Love Thursday // 08.29.13

• The first day of school and how excited both girls were to return. How every afternoon this week, they have enthusiastically reported that their day was "AWESOME!" 

• Lorde's song, Royals. I can't get enough. We've been listening to it on a loop for weeks and I'm still not sated. I wish I could link it for you here but I'm blogging from my iPhone tonight. So if you haven't had the pleasure yet (unlikely), DO seek it out. You're welcome.

• J.R. Watkins soaps. I used to be a Mrs. Meyers hand soap junkie--but I've made a sudden (and possibly lasting) switch to J.R. Watkins and I'm very pleased. The foaming option is an added delight!

• This Rifle Paper Co. Gold Stripes iPhone case. So yummy looking. I haven't pulled the trigger though (pun intended) because my little monkeygirls are featured on my current case that I'm also still very in love with... 

• OMG! Watching E.T. with the girls for the first time over the weekend. Holy moly! They LOVED it and we loved experiencing it with them. 

• These Terra Cotta Book Vase Bookends that I stumbled upon in a magazine recently. I must have them. They would be perfect in my living room (except that I already have two sets of other darling bookends already featured in my shelving). Too many bookends? You tell me.

• My supercheap tube of NYC Kissgloss (535 "Jay Walkin' Jam") that I bought in a Wallgreens when I really just needed to get cash back for the nail salon next door that remarkably does not accept credit cards in this day and age. Despite the awful name and $2 price tag, the gloss feels light and smooth without being sticky and the shimmer lasts for hours. 

• Anything from Mark and Graham (again, I wish I could link you to the site here). Not only do they have beautifully designed items (I covet a little something from nearly every line they offer), their prices are very reasonable and the quality is nice. The goods make for beautiful gifts as well. Every item comes wrapped in these lovely boxes with thick gray grosgrain ribbon--ready for giving! And who doesnt love all of those monogram options?

• That our local Whole Foods has a huge and gorgeous Salud Cooking School within. They offer all kinds of cooking classes for all levels and I can't wait to take MY first one very soon (any Charlotte friends interested in scheduling a class with me?). They even offer cooking classes for kids! The girls just took a "French Bistro" class over the weekend and they loved it. They made steak, pomme frites, and crime brûlée! 

• The fact that I am fortunate enough to be blogging from our hotel room in Charleston tonight at the beginning of our  last hurrah of Summer 2013, trip to Kiawah Island. *happy dancing*

Recipe Review | Poached Salmon Spinach Salad

This dinner was a huge success and everyone loved the salad. I had never poached anything other than an egg before and I couldn't help but feel a little intimidated. It was so easy and the salmon was incredibly moist and tender ("creamy" even). The saltiness of the sunflower seeds were a nice contrast to the grapes and the dressing added another layer of mild spice that gave the dish some zip. I find my favorite recipes and "bites" come from dishes that offer salty, sweet, sour (zippy), crunchy (crispy), and creamy elements. This one has it all.

The recipe is from a past issue of Family Circle that I came across. The original recipe calls for Kale as the salad green. At the time I made it, my local grocer's kale did not look especially tender so I opted for baby spinach. I'm sure kale would be tasty too--or arugula. Use what you like.

Ingredients

  • For the Poached Salmon:
  • 3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 small onion, halved
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 10 whole peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/4 pounds salmon fillets
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • For the Dressing and Salad:
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons spicy brown mustard
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce (I like Sriracha)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 12 ounces baby spinach leaves (8 packed cups)
  • 1 1/2 cups seedless red grapes, halved
  • 1/4 cup roasted, salted sunflower seed kernels 

Instructions

Salad
  1. Combine broth, onion, garlic, peppercorns and red pepper flakes in a straight-sized saute pan. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium. Simmer 5 minutes. Remove fish to a plate with a large spatula and refrigerate at least one hour.
Dressing and Salad
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together orange juice, vinegar, mustard, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and the hot sauce. While whisking, add olive oil in a thin stream.
  2. Combine spinach, grapes and sunflower seeds in a large bowl. Remove salmon skin. Flake salmon into bite-size pieces and add to bowl. Pour dressing over salad and season with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Gently toss to combine.
Make Ahead Tip
Poach salmon the night before and refrigerate, tightly wrapped in plastic, until serving.


Monday, August 26, 2013

Getting Crafty | Match Jars

I saw an idea for these on Pinterest (of course) and decided it was about time I tried to execute the craft on my own. I am so pleased with the way they turned out. In addition to creatively housing matches, they would make great party favors filled with candies, fun containers for office/art room storage, or add a funky personal touch to your jewelry/makeup/vanity counter. The ideas are limitless, really. 

1. Start with the jar collection. Obviously, your intentions for your final product will determine the ones you select to save and clean. You know that frustrating, sticky, gluepapermess that remains on the glass despite your sacrificed fingernails and the fact that you worked the sponge so hard it looked from behind like you were twerking more obscenely than Miley at the VMAs? Ugh. 
I have made the most excellent discovery (read: hijacked another great idea from Pinterest)! Slather on some peanut butter and wait about 15 minutes. Then rub it off with a paper towel and clean with soap and water. So. Stinkin'. Easy.
2. Acquire some plastic animals from your children's toy box, Goodwill, the cheap aisle of the drugstore, or eBay.
3. Select your spray paint color and coat your lids and animals.
4. Superglue your dried animals to the tops of your dried jar lids. And wahlah voilà, you're awesome and everyone will be delighted and impressed by your artistic time-suck. Yay! Oh yeah, you'll also have some adorably fun jars to rescue your odds and ends from disarray. (Or you can choose to store matches in them--which is so necessary because they just scream, "chaos!" in those crazy boxes and books they are sold in. Good grief.) ***Because I used matches, I cut a part of the strike strip from the matchbox and tucked it snugly into the lid.***
Go make something!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Things I Love Lately // 8.23.13

  • Antoinette Tuff. She should think about changing her name to Badass Tuff--or the spelling of her  last name to "Tough." 
  • Saying "yes" when the girls ask me for a soft-serve cone at 10:15am. (Oh yes, it was that good. They really have the best ideas sometimes!)
  • Discovering that Saige Copeland Jones and Emma Lisa Jones stay occupied and entertained in our hotel room while the girls and I frolic (yeah, I just said "frolic") on the beach
  • My coziest new hoodie from Target's FEED collection. Not only are the products in this line attractive and well-designed (in my opinion), proceeds from each purchase provide meals for children and families through Feed America. Each product features a tag that lets you know how many meals your purchase generates. Better yet, many of these attractive, feel-good purchases are currently on SALE. If you're interested, you can learn more about the partnership here
  • Listening to A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle with the girls on our North Carolina → Florida road trip and enjoying it just as much as they did!
  • Being in Florida with our family for the week. Good times. Too much indulgence. Fun in the sun. Playing and swimming with Uncle Bobby. Driving the boat with Uncle Toby. Seeing dolphins jumping around us on the boat. Relaxing. Connecting. Tubing for the first time with Daddy. 
  • And getting lots of good squeezes in with this one (I mean, really?
  • Registering for fall soccer
  • Anticipating an adult night out with our friends this weekend and enjoying the eats at Customshop (Get in my belly!)
  • Geneva's first sand crab capture. She tried for 2 days and did not give up. 
  • Having our first "sweltering, miserable, sticky southern summer" be super mild and not really living up to any of the aforementioned adjectives
  • Attending Open House at the girls' school yesterday and seeing how confident and happy they are when they are there. Here's Piper with Geneva's classroom pet, Patches. We look forward (with some trepidation) to discover how well Richard Parker will get along with Patches on our designated weekend to enjoy his company at our house. (Keep your claws crossed that it all goes well for the feline-rodent encounter.)
  • And speaking of school starting up again... I just love this article by Kylene Beers about the impact teachers have on our littles when we send them off to school each day.
  • The fact that you can now shop H&M online. Yes, they've finally launched an e-commerce site for the US! Now your sweet little fashionistas can rock looks like this one or this one (for $15) in just a few clicks on the keyboard. And you might like to don this, this, or this once fall is upon us (I know I would). 
  • Soaking up the last bits of summer sun with my favorite peeps 
  • And THIS. What will you do with all that time?

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Things I Love Thursday // 8.8.13

I am devoting this entire post to Tiffany Beveridge, a writer from Philadelphia who hosts one of my all-time favorite boards on Pinterest. Her board is called, "My Imaginary Well-Dressed Toddler Daughter" and I find all of her related pins hysterical. The ridiculousness of the pictures coupled with Ms. Beveridge's wry humor gets me every time. I'm not sure you'll think these are half as funny as I do... However, you might. So, you're welcome. Even if you're not on Pinterest, you can "like" her facebook page and "Stay up to date with Quinoa and all her friends." Here is small sampling of what you'll find there. Enjoy!
Quinoa loves to have pillow fights with her cousin Agave, but only with european sourced white goose down.
~
When we met Quinoa's friend Ridley for brunch, he was unhappy to learn that the bistro's chicken nuggets were not free range.
~
One time when Quinoa and I got separated in a busy train station, she thankfully remembered our safety training: stay in one place, look spectacular, and don't talk to poor people.
~
Quinoa's Gatsby-themed birthday party was a hit. Everybody loved the part when she ran over little Marimba with her tricycle.
~
On Eighties Awareness Day at school, Quinoa was especially protective of her friend Fennel's Wham-inspired pompadour.
~
Quinoa's friend Eleven puts the bad in badminton. Boy is smacking down shuttlecocks and taking names.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Getting Crafty | Canvas Shoe "Painting"

I came across this idea on Pinterest a while back. I thought it would be a simple and creative way to spend an afternoon with the girls. Like most of the things I pin, my intention and my execution are often miles apart. However, we finally got around to pulling it together on one of our more recent "hot rain" days. All said, it took us about 2-3 hours to complete the project. We listened to a book on CD while we sat around the kitchen/craft table working. Both girls needed help with tracing the pattern onto the shoes and I ended up really doing this part for them. Piper got bored tired of coloring in her chevrons and both Geneva and I finished executing her vision as she directed the color choices. I think they turned out great and we've all worn them out and about already! 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Things I Love Thursday // 8.1.13

  • Being smack in the middle of the Sweet Spot with our girls. For example, right now they are upstairs taking showers while I blog. When they are finished, their clothes will be in the laundry hamper and their hair will be brushed. And while the floor will be free of puddles, their towels will be strewn across it because they are not tall enough to reach the towel hooks yet. They are still so little and also so "big." They are growing up. {sigh} They are becoming so much more independent and capable and yet, they still love spending time with us. They love cuddles and hugs and I can even kiss them in front of their friends. Together, we sing loudly (and awfully) in the car. They ask me to dance with them. When they "help" me make dinner, they can actually manage things that make it easier for me to get the food on the table. They go to bed at 7:30 (after laying out their clothes, changing into pjs, and brushing their teeth without help) and love listening to me read from whatever book we are currently tackling. Then they go to sleep with smiles on their sweet faces (across the room from one another in matching pink twin beds), worn out from the day. They sleep until 7:30 in the morning and wake me up by crawling into our bed for more snuggles. They are amazing. I want to be present and fully enjoy this magical time for as long as it lasts.
  • The girls hosting their first lemonade stand. We had quite a bit of foot and bike traffic in the neighborhood last weekend because of an annual fundraising event that takes place on our block. The girls raised $28.50 and donated it to 24 hours of booty
  • Living in the neighborhood that hosts the 24 hours of booty fundraising event. While the traffic coming home Friday night from our date was quite heavy, walking around the neighborhood and seeing the way this community comes together to support the amazing 24hour bike "race" was really amazing! Neighbors decorate their homes and host big parties in their front yards, families and friends line the streets with cow bells, pompoms, and supportive banners, and "Bootyville" (the overnight camp area) hosts bands, booths, dance-a-thons, and more. This year, the event raised more than $1.2 million for "cancer research and survivorship." (Which includes the $28.50 from one terrific little lemonade stand!) 
  • Spending time with the girls working on the canvas sneaker project I planned ages ago and finally busted out this week (post coming). Thankfully, they haven't grown out of the shoes I had bought!
  • No. 46 Exceptional Iced Tea from Steven Smith Teamaker in Portland. D'lish.
  • Having Happy Hour plans with some girlfriends this evening
  • When the girls spend hours together playing with Legos 
  • Piper's dinner surprise. So every-other-week, the girls are taking turns cooking dinner one night (with a lot of help from me). They get to thumb through cooking magazines and books and choose any (dinner) recipe they want. It was Piper's turn this week so she spent some time over the weekend choosing her recipe. After 3 magazine and 2 cookbooks, she finally landed on something that looked tasty. It was an add for tortellini alfredo. Piper and I love heavy cream sauces and rich pasta. Geneva is indifferent. Greg is opposed. He was very sweet and forcibly enthusiastic about her plans. On Sunday Piper pulled me aside and whispered that she had changed her mind about dinner and wanted to make Daddy his favorite meal: Tacos--but, "shhh. Don't tell Daddy. It's a surprise." So when he walked in the door from work on Tuesday she asked him, "Daddy, are you SO excited to have my Tortellini Alfredo dinner tonight?" (And of course he lied and said, "Yea.") To which she replied (with on hand on her hip and the other flung into the air to emphasize how splendid she is), "Too bad--because I made you TACOS!" I'm not sure who was more pleased with the surprise. It was awesome and we all ate too much.
  • Catching up with an old friend on the phone this week and picking up right where we left off
  • The many delightful faces of Jake 
  • This article to remind me about little girls and body image. 
  • Kilwins Sea Salt Caramel Fudge. The best part about this sweet is that a little bit really does go a long way. Just a nibble and I'm good (usually). 
  • This totally random picture of a cat with a spot that looks like a top hat. Kills me.