Thursday, May 27, 2021

Things I Love Thursday // 5.27.21

A Jolt of West Coast Love

My girlfriend, Jillian, scored an incredible deal on a flight out to Charlotte from San Diego last week and I couldn't have been happier to see her and to have some time together to catch up! Jillian and I met in grad school way back in the day. When we first moved to Charlotte, she was the only person I knew and she did an amazing job welcoming my family and showing me all the best spots! A couple short years later, Jillian took new job teaching at the University of San Diego and off she went (who could blame her?). It was fun switch roles a bit this week and take her to a couple of Charlotte's new destinations. The city has exploded in the few years she's been away! Cheers to our next visit, I already miss you! (And she heard about the flight deal through an app called Hopper.)

Yard Updates/Refresh

This yard project is so overdue. The easement beside our lot is missing a sidewalk. The city just never put one in. Over the years, the grassy area has been encroached upon by neighboring fescue seed (that's competing with our zoysia) and it's basically an eyesore. Additionally, the ivy (NOT planted by me) is out of control and taking over everything all around the yard. You all know I love my houseplants; however, yard work/pruning/weeding is not my jam. Unfortunately, the landscaping around this house has suffered from our own neglect and mismanagement. We are finally addressing a few of the more problematic areas and I'm very excited to share the progress with you. Here's just a small sneak peak of what's coming: 

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

OMGoodness. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a book I've had on my "to-read" list for YEARS and I finally got around to picking it up. Geneva had it checked out from the library and recommended I not put it off any longer. I read it in a day --at the expense of everything else I was supposed to accomplish. Some books are like that. This was one of them. My friend, Tracie, says the movie is one of her all-time favorites. It's directed by the author of the book so I have high hopes. Have you read the book? Seen the movie? Both??

Knock Off Birkenstocks

The first time I saw the yellow suede pair of Arizona Birks on my friend, Laura, I wanted a pair of my own. However, the holidays were coming and I was making a real effort not to buy myself anything so I waited. Of course, they sold out and have never become available again (unless you want them lined in shearing  --which I do not). Anyhoo... flash forward to last week when I was INFLUENCED on Instagram into checking out the Amazon knock-offs. They're really kinda great! However, I will say, like actual Birkenstocks, these also take a little time to break in. The bonus is they have a nice cushion under the heel --which the real ones lack. They come in tons of colors and are true to size. 

Cauliflower [Florets] with Chipotle-Cashew Sauce

The recipe, from Milk Street Magazine (November/December 2019), actually calls for cauliflower steaks --but I'm super lazy and subbed prepared cauliflower florets from the bag instead. Wow. This dish was packed with flavor and I loved every bite! Whether you use 2 pounds of steaks or florets, you'll toss in olive oil, paprika, salt and pepper and roast until fork-tender in a 450ยบ oven 20-30 minutes (flip halfway if you're doing steaks). Here's the magic: To make the sauce, stir together 2 tablespoons lime juice, 1 finely grated medium garlic clove, 3/4 cup chopped roasted cashews, 1-2 chipotle chilies in adobo sauce (mined), 2 tablespoons adobo sauce, 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro, 1/2 cup neutral oil (I used olive oil), and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Spoon over the warm cauliflower. Prepare to be wowed. 

This post may contain affiliate links and I may make a HUGE commission (j/k it's literally pennies) when you click on the links at no additional cost to you. You should know (and I'm legally required to tell you) that as an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Feel free to make me RICH. lol ;)

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Things I Love Thursday // 5.20.21

Cheers to Porch Time

We are through the bright yellow pollen season in Charlotte. Huzzah! That means more slow evenings on the porch watching the neighborhood walk past, visiting with friends, and enjoying cool sips.

Old Fashioneds

Speaking of cool sips --this one is the definition. Our first choice to try from the latest Unpretentious Palate Old Fashioned sampler kit was Ashely Thompson's (The Cocktailery) "Peaches is My Name." The peach, cinnamon, and pecan bitters syrup made for an incredibly flavorful and layered cocktail and the dehydrated peach slice that was subsequently infused with rich bourbon was amazing!

Outdoor Music

It was a pleasure to listen to these two, with all of their high school classmates, play their instruments so beautifully last night on the quad lawn. The cherry on top of our breezy and relaxing evening was that (to our surprise and delight), our flutist was presented with a Musicianship Award from her band director. :)

Caladium Lindenii Magnificum

Guess what? I should avoid acquiring new plants before heading out of town. I know this. And yet...
My girlfriend, Laura, via text: "Get to Lowes ASAP [pic]"

Propagation vessels are Hilton Carter for Target

Spring in the Yard

'Tis the season for magnolias and hydrangeas --two of my faves blowing up at once. Swoon. We are getting ready to do a little yard re-fresh... What's your favorite outdoor blooming plant that I should consider adding to the plan?


Here's my dad. He's been adjusting since my mom passed this last summer. Helping to adjust, have been his two big dogs (Bonnie and Baxter) and THIS little morsel, his great-grand-daughter, Sage. This pic was taken yesterday when GGPa, Sage, and Baxter went for a walk. And then I had a heart full of happiness.

The Lap Dog

Ben thinks that if I just let him try, he could definitely fit in the chair with me. As you can well imagine, it's very hard to not let him try.

Jumpsuit, Sunnies, Necklace, Earrings, "Ben's Baby"

This post may contain affiliate links and I may make a HUGE commission (j/k it's literally pennies) when you click on the links at no additional cost to you. You should know (and I'm legally required to tell you) that as an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Feel free to make me RICH. lol ;)

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Things I Love Thursday // 5.13.21

Mother's Day Love

I was completely spoiled on Mother's Day and I sincerely hope you were too (if it's a "holiday" you celebrate). Mother's Day can be a little tricky for me. Aside from a brief text exchange several years ago, the last time I spoke to --or even laid eyes on my mom, was almost 11 years ago (and before that it was a rollercoaster at times --but not all the time). It's a long story. I was fortunate enough to grow up surrounded by exceptional mother figures. Toward the end of 2020, we lost my wonderful, amazing, "super grandma," badass, stepmom, Debbie, to an aggressive cancer that came out of nowhere with a fury and vengeance that took our breath away. So this year felt even more fragile. However, there's absolutely nothing I love more than being Geneva and Piper's mom and I am grateful (for myself and the girls) that my mother-in-law is vivacious, active, hilarious, and always ready for a dance party. Plus, she just moved from California to Charlotte in March! We spent most of the day with her and it was lovely. The girls chose a beautiful new cookbook (always a favorite of mine), built me a terrarium, and my all-time favorite: made me homemade cards. Greg surprised me with a new purse that I blogged about a couple weeks ago and a pair of new Printfresh pajamas (this "Lemon Drop" short sleeve set). The day was tied up with a bow when we indulged in my favorite meal (filet, grilled veggies, green salad with all of the cheese, and a giant cabernet) and watched the movie of my choice: My Octopus Teacher (so good --we all loved it). All in all, an absolutely wonderful day!

Booty Vase (+ Progress)

I love to feel like my people "get"me. :) My girlfriend, Tracie, texted me this week, "This vase is so YOU [screenshot]." Me: *gets in car and drives directly to the consignment market.* Because, seriously. Look at this booty! Also captured here is a little sneek-peek at some more progress in the living room! I mentioned a couple months ago that I bought some very cool shelves from Anthropologie. ONE of them has been backordered and should arrive at the end of this month --and "lort" knows it better at this point --because I just ran out of patience and hung the other four (with a gap in-between for the final piece). Can you imagine if Anthro sends me some little email after all these months that says, "sorry, we don't have your item"? Ugh. 

Surprise Surprises

Looky at what just arrived out of the blue! These Houseplant Jungle playing cards by Galison are a gorgeous little "hello, these made me think of you" present from my friend, Gretchen. Each card has a different plant illustration on the face and they are so beautiful that I shouldn't allow myself to actually play poker with them because I'd be too distracted by the details of the designs that I'd be certain to make a bad bet.

Bernedoodle Baby

The perspective on this shot is certainly adding to Ben's SIZE, but he really is quickly approaching 50 pounds and is just over 16 weeks. He's cuddly, clumsy, enthusiastic about having any part of your body in his mouth, and thinks hotdogs are the bomb. He's heading off to "boarding school" to learn some manners in about 3.5 weeks. We will miss him so much during the four weeks he'll be away from home. (And I can't imagine how BIG he'll be when he gets home!)

Unpretentious Palate's Latest Old Fashioned Kit

We got one of these amazing kits last winter and I'm thrilled they've put together another. Cheers to those who live in and around Charlotte because you can pre-order one of these sampler kits just in time for Father's Day (pickup on June 12th). Inside, you'll find that eight of the city's best bartenders have created unique recipes that make up their personal take on the classic Old Fashioned cocktail. Everything you need to make these eight recipes (2 servings each) --minus the bourbon, because NC liquor law doesn't allow it to be included, is inside the box. Dad's going to love you for it! 


WooHoo! Just in time for travel and camp... 

This post may contain affiliate links and I may make a HUGE commission (j/k it's literally pennies) when you click on the links at no additional cost to you. You should know (and I'm legally required to tell you) that as an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Feel free to make me RICH. lol ;)

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Things I Love Thursday // 4.29.21

An Evening with Girlfriends

As our hostess and ultimate gourmet gal put it, "The Joys of Being Vaccinated" --so lovely. Thank you, Jill, for having (most of) our Foodie Night gang on your gorgeous patio last night. The weather was cooperative, the food was outstanding, and the company was divine. We began with a champagne toast to Science, worked our way through this beautiful tray of goodies, feasted on one of the best salads I've had --jam-packed with goodness and dressed in so much flavor (we didn't have the linked Kale Caesar --but the dressing was VERY similar and should literally be served on almost everything), then we finished with Jill's insane (not hyperbole) cookies. Bliss.

My Early Mother's Day Gift

Swoon. I'm in love with my Operetta crossbody that arrived this week. It's a splurge, for sure, but as you can see, it pairs great with my Target t-shirt and linen skirt! Balance, people. Balance.

"Am I doing this right?"


It's certainly not the first time I've blogged about this Sally Hansen Insta-Dri polish. It always goes on in one coat and I love it (because that's all I ever carve out time for). I picked up a new shade for spring at the grocery store last week. This one is called Hail Cherry and it's a cheerful orangey-red.

Garden Surprises

Looky looky! Our first babies from the garden have made an appearance. We planted 4 tomato starts this year and hope to have even half the harvest we enjoyed last year. So long as we can keep the squirrels and raccoons at bay, we might have a chance. I'll keep you posted because, as you know, I'm basically a farmer now.

Virtual Community Potluck

My friend, Anne, texted a couple weeks ago, "I'm going to host this interesting dinner thing via Zoom. It's a community potluck, but there will just be four of us around my actual table. Do you and Greg want to come?" Me, "YES. Sounds confusing and fun. We'll be there." Fixa-Plate is the brainchild of Kathren Martin, a theatre professor, who came up with the concept: a community potluck to come together around the virtual kitchen table in order to share recipes and talk about the past and the future of Charlotte. There are several steps that come together to create the event. Participants create a "pod" (invite a few friends to their home for the dinner), choose a favorite recipe to share with the larger community group (in advance), and for the meal each "pod" makes a meaningful main dish (and perhaps 1-2 side dishes). In addition, your pod prepares one of the community members' side dish (that you've been "assigned" in advance --another pod is cooking and eating the favorite dish you shared earlier). Everyone enjoys their meals with Gran's biscuits that Martin has delivered to your door (it's her great-grandmother's recipe). Dinner is served in tandem across the community as each pod logs-on to the virtual experience. You're able to see other groups of friends and family as they sit  around dining tables that stretch across Charlotte. Martin was an exceptional facilitator! She effortlessly and thoughtfully lead us through discussions around social justice, economic disparity, gentrification, and the history of Charlotte --all the while making us feel warm, welcomed, and a valuable part of the conversation. There was a nominal fee to participate (Martin allocates 40% of the proceeds to local nonprofits and charities) --but I'm so sorry to report that the event dates have passed. You missed it --or at least, this part of "It." Martin plans to build out the created and shared content of these dinners (in addition to other components) into an artistic production by Fall 2021. I look forward to seeing where she and her team takes us. While you missed participating in one of these unique dinners, you can watch the process unfold on Instagram by following the hashtag #fixaplate. If we're all very lucky, her concept will catch on and more of these events will be offered in the future --perhaps not only here in Charlotte, but elsewhere as well. In the meantime, follow @MixedMetaphorsProductions for more community engagement opportunities in Charlotte and to possibly become a part of the finished piece!

This post may contain affiliate links and I may make a HUGE commission (j/k it's literally pennies) when you click on the links at no additional cost to you. You should know (and I'm legally required to tell you) that as an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Feel free to make me RICH. lol ;)

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Things I Love Thursday // 4.22.21

A Good Cause (that ENDS TOMORROW)

Many of you know that the Children's Theatre of Charlotte has been near and dear to my heart since moving to Charlotte 8 years ago. I've served as a volunteer, committee chair, event organizer, and president of their auxiliary. Typically, we are able to host a big gala and fundraiser this time of year that helps fund their educational programming, productions, and outreach initiatives. We've pivoted for 2021 and are running a grassroots/community fundraiser instead. I'd love it if you'd consider donating toward my goal. If met, I will film myself getting "caked"--not something I'm looking forward to --but raising money for this amazing organization is certainly worth a little frosting up my nose. If you're ON FACEBOOK you can donate directly toward my goal. If you're not on Facebook but would still like to make a contribution, please use THIS LINK. My second goal is to be as delighted with the outcome as Piper is in this sweet pic.

Pool Tote

The girls and I ventured out last weekend when the weather was near-perfect to visit Nebel's Alley Night Market for some thrifted and artisan shopping. We also stumbled upon a cute boutique in SouthEnd called Lilbelle and I found this adorable tote. They had so many cute options! I know many of you readers are not nearby --no worries! I was able to find the same bags online. Which would you choose?

Ben Sleeping Through the Night

"Good lort" as my friend, Miranda, would say. And if you're not following @MirandaInCLT on Instagram, you are missing out. Seriously. Her stories are GOLD. Back to Ben sleeping: He did it! I hesitate to celebrate because of course, it may have been a fluke but I just have to let myself enjoy this moment. It's been a long time coming. You know, we had a really hard week last week with several trips to the vet, specialists, ER, and then an MRI. He was completely thrown off his routine and we were all fairly traumatized... He's doing so GREAT now. He's getting back on track and last night he went into his crate willingly and without a fuss. And here's the best part: I woke HIM up just after 6am this morning! I cannot emphasize enough what a big deal this is. Seriously. Good lort. Praise Cheeses.

Thoughtful Surprises (especially when they involve naked ladies)

Speaking of our dramatic and traumatic week, last week... my sweet friend, Simone, send me a little "pick me up" in the mail (just for a smile) and I absolutely love how well she knows me and how she knew this was a perfect present. You can have one too --I've linked it HERE. I immediately thought I would put a houseplant in it --but then I saw these images when I went looking for a link for y'all and now I think I may just use it as a vase. TBD

Super Easy Jumpsuit

It's athletic wear! I found this at Target the other day and thought it would be a long-shot but worth a try. I'm so glad I picked it up. I love the elastic cinch at the waist, the oversized pockets with the single pin-tuck design detail, the tailoring at the shoulder, and those cap sleeves. I sized up (XL) because it was the only option on the rack (besides Small) and I'm thrilled with the fit. I love how "roomy" it is around my backside/hips --but I'm not swimming in the top half. With the cinching, I think the oversized fit works flatteringly. If you follow this LINK you'll see models in slightly different fits with the waist less-cinched. I also ordered it in the green color. This jumpsuit will be a regular feature on the soccer sidelines this spring (until the weather gets too hot) because the fabric is totally breathable and it's just too easy to throw on and appear that you've made some effort.

Lemon Chicken Skewers with Creamy Feta Sauce

Half Baked Harvest does it again. Sarah made these Lemon Chicken Skewers with Creamy Feta Sauce last week and shared on our Foodie Night text chain. I'm pretty sure almost all of us have made it now too. Certainly, this was just the first of many times I'll make this dish. Sarah suggested using chicken thighs instead of breasts, which I did. I served mine over white rice --but it would excellent on it's own beside another veggie side or green salad. My asparagus was fairly thin so it was tricky/frustrating to thread onto the skewers without breaking apart. I might sub broccoli florets, whole button mushrooms, or pre-steamed Brussels sprouts next time. You could even do the marinade on whole chicken breasts for the grill and load up the veggies on skewers along to save time. This recipe is a great find for the season and for the warmer temperatures (unless you're in Charlotte and experiencing this crazy cold snap with me). Tieghan offers hundreds of free recipes on her Half Baked Harvest blog but if you're looking for a quick and easy Mother's Day gift to wrap or have delivered, her cookbooks Super Simple and Harvest are fantastic choices!

Simple Leather Slides

These are even better in-person than I had hoped. The leather is supple, the soles are comfortable, and the pop of colored thread on that top seam is FUN! If you're between sizes, size up (I returned them in 7.5 and bought 8s). I got the brown ones. Is that boring? Which color is your favorite?

Safety Pin Earrings

A little edgy and super fun. So affordable. Pick some up for the next girlfriend's birthday that sneaks up on you! Thank you, Simone, for putting these on my radar. xxoo

Mother's Day (thoughtful and affordable) Gift Ideas...

... but don't forget the HOMEMADE CARD. A great resource for sweet and thoughtful Mother's Day gift ideas is the blog post I did during the holidays. There are a ton of gift ideas there that range from a few dollars to about $150 and everything is linked and accessible. If you do your shopping now, you'll have plenty of time for reasonable shipping. Here's a peek at some of what's in the post.

This post may contain affiliate links and I may make a HUGE commission (j/k it's literally pennies) when you click on the links at no additional cost to you. You should know (and I'm legally required to tell you) that as an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Feel free to make me RICH. lol ;)

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Things I Love Thursday // 4.15.21

BIG BEN, this Target Dress and Hat, and Fran's Lemon Jelly Sandals

Would you just look at this guy? He's growing like a weed. He's 12 weeks and almost 35 pounds. We are all smitten. He is having some health issues --so it seems like we might have some longterm (simple) care to throw into the mix... I will keep you posted. We've just done some preliminary tests so far. In less-stressful news, how cute is this outfit? HA! I love a dress that you can throw on the makes you look like you put way more effort into it than you actually did. That is this dress. I wish I could tell you the dress was still available; however, I bought it in the fall when I under-packed for a few weeks on the west coast and it is no longer online. But this one is similar and from the same brand, as is this one. The simple knit hat is easy to pair with nearly anything and you can't beat the price. I love having a hat for when the weather in wet. No matter the effort I put into styling my hair I can count on lots of frizz and tons of not-so-good volume even if the air is barely damp. I borrowed these adorable sandals from my friend, Fran, (as we were heading to a soggy outdoor gathering and every wedge I own has a very porous heel). I'm thinking I might have to pick up a pair of my own --they were incredibly comfortable and super cute! Necklace and bracelet stack are favorites too!

woman in a red dress and tan hat holding a big puppy

Planting the Garden

We put the garden in over Spring Break. It's been just under 2 weeks, it's already coming along so nicely! Last year we harvested tons of tomatoes, radishes, squash, and banana peppers. We had less success with the pole beans, carrots, strawberries, and kale. This year, we skipped the carrots and kale, planted a couple different onions, went for peas instead of beans, and are trying our hand at cantaloupe. I'll keep you posted!

side by side shot of a raised garden bed
Progress shot!

two teens talking in the garden

A Visit from Simone and Coco

One of my besties and her sweet tween, Charlotte (aka, Coco), came out from California to spend some of their spring break with us and to explore the Carolinas. We were so happy to have them --though it wasn't for nearly enough time! We dined, played, relaxed, sipped, and shopped. Simone also had this lovely plant potted into a perfectly-matched-to-my-kitchen-island pot when we visited the PlantHouse (formerly known as PlantBar).

two women posed with big smiles

bright green houseplant in a blue and grey vessel

Riverbend Retreat

Later, during our break, we had the pleasure of spending a couple days with our friends at their mountain retreat in Todd, NC. Their home is located on the New River and we passed our time playing games, kayaking, taking walks, watching our puppy torment their older and less-enthusiastic older dogs, hot tubbing, and snacking. We intended to stay a bit longer but as I just mentioned, we brought our new puppy along so it ended up being more work than we had in mind.

woman on a lawn chair with a puppy underneath sitting by a river

bernedoodle puppy


This movie is a beautiful look at what defines family and what makes a home. We laughed out loud throughout and during the in-between times, fell in love with each of the characters as they worked through their individual struggles. It's a quiet movie so if you're looking for big action and weighty drama this one might not be for you. 

Minari movie poster

Chicken Braised in Coconut Milk with Sweet Potatoes and Rice

An oldie but a goodie. This flavorful dish from Half Baked Harvest is one I will continue to come back to. It manages to be both hearty and bright. The Instant Pot method results in fork-tender chicken and sweet potatoes that are swimming in coconut milk seasoned with fresh cilantro, spices, shallots, and lime juice. Over rice and with a toasted piece of naan --this dinner is a winner! 

bowl of chicken recipe

Cupcake Surprise

I saw an amazing post on Instagram from a favorite follow: @Flourdeliz. In celebration of the quickly-approaching Derby, Liz had created a Bourbon Peach Sweet Tea cupcake. I mean, come on! I shared the post in my story and invited anyone to bake me a few. To my ultimate delight, the doorbell rang yesterday evening and our amazingly thoughtful friends were standing on the porch with a tray full of these cupcakes! I'm not even kidding. I was thunderstruck --and then I was very full (because I had to have TWO). Thank you, Sara, for your kindness. I mentioned at the top of this post that Ben has been having some health issues and yesterday was a doozy of a day. Sara could not have known just how much I needed a little sunshine in my day --and boy did she deliver!

peach cupcake with white frosting
Normally, the blooming azaleas would also make my "love list"; however, now that the sticky blossoms adhere to Ben's feet and bumbum like sap, they are struggling to make my list.


Basically, all of it. :) I bought these ankle-length, "90s Cheeky jeans" from Everlane (my first pair from there) and they exceeded my expectations. What I love: the waist is high enough to be current but not so high that I look and feel like an idiot; the pockets are set on the higher side which creates a more flattering look, the waist fits AND the hips fit too (hard to accomplish). The tank is as comfortable as they come --but the cut makes it feel a little more "elevated" than it really is. I bought the one pictured here at a tiny boutique in Bend, Oregon a couple summers ago but this one is similar. This "oatmeal" cardigan (named by me for the texture and color --though, it does come in a dozen other colors too) is perfect for the in-between season we're in (mine is a medium). These plastic sandals from Old Navy are cute and ridiculously easy to wear all day long (even with my high arches). Even the sunglasses are an inexpensive favorite --and they have a coupon code available at the moment!

woman posed in front of a brick wall
What is she looking at? What is making her smile? No one really knows.
(Foreheads in image are smaller than they appear.)

Easter Festivities 

You may have noticed that I skipped posting last week. Spring break plans, the Easter holiday, guests from out of town, and Ben seemed to fill up all of my days and I found I just didn't have enough time set aside. I did want to note how nice it was to spend the gorgeous Easter holiday with Greg's mom (who has recently relocated from California to Charlotte and now lives about a mile from us). After a delicious brunch to a newer restaurant in town, The Artisan's Palate (oh my gosh, GO! if you're in town), "Grandma Lulu" spoiled us with outdoor games, prizes, and a delicious ham dinner. We are beyond grateful to have her so close --especially knowing the girls will be heading off before we know it! Also, Ben was super handsome in his borrowed bunny ears, don't you agree?

Signage from The Artisan's Palate Restaurant

a mom with two teen daughters at brunch

bernedoodles puppy wearing bunny/carrot ear headband
"Bok bok"

This post may contain affiliate links and I may make a HUGE commission (j/k it's literally pennies) when you click on the links at no additional cost to you. You should know (and I'm legally required to tell you) that as an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Feel free to make me RICH. lol ;)