Thursday, August 15, 2019

Things I Love Thursday // 8.15.19

  • Big Brown Pants - ;) I read about these cropped, wide-legged pants on Emily Henderson's blog and decided to give them a try. As you know, I will try just about anything from Target, and their Who What Wear line is one of my favorites. These pants are pretty cool, people. I love the white stitching, the oversized pockets, and the high waist. The crop falls just above my ankle. (Which is fine and due to my being 5'6" --but not quite AS flattering as what appears on the model. Obvi.) Forever between sizes and on account of my generous behind, I ordered an 8 and a 10. The 8s fit perfectly; however, they are 100% cotton and I would love to be able to toss them in the dryer. If the 8s shrink at all, they won't be as "everyday comfortable" as I want them to be (as I imagine wearing them constantly this fall). I'm leaning toward returning the 8s and being carefree about the drying of the 10s. (Reviews on the site say they run a tad small.)
  • Instagram Account @haleydrewthis - Haley Weaver and her thoughtful illustrations were introduced to me at a mother/daughter conference I attended with G a few years ago. Haley's illustrations are insightful, authentic, and refreshing. It's a lovely surprise to come across a new post and a simple way to give yourself an inspirational treat as you scroll through your feed.
  • Michelle in the Middle - I just mentioned a mother/daughter conference in the previous love item. I had the pleasure of attending the conference ("Right in the Middle") with each of my girls as they were approaching middle school. Michelle Icard is a writer, speaker, educator and author of Middle School Makeover (get it). She publishes insightful articles, has had multiple appearances on our local show, Charlotte Talks and on The TODAY Show, offers summer camp programs for girls and boys rising through middle school, and has created and carefully moderates an amazing resource on Facebook for parents across the country. Less Stressed Middle School Parents is a page/group that primarily offers support to its participants. With over 5000 members who share concerns, ideas, advice, and experiences, I would readily argue that there's something useful for every one of us hoping to do this parenting thing with intention. 
  • Bangs? - Ugh. (Wasn't even on the list until I just saw this side-by-side.) Truth is, I only love them when they're "done" --which adds more work --especially when it's this HUMID. (Good grief, Charlotte!) Ok... holding that thought and moving on.
  • Thoughtfulness - My girlfriend texted me the other day, "Hey, I'm going to Costco. Can I pick anything up for you?" I'm not ill. I'm not swamped. I'm not running up against a deadline. I'm not recovering from surgery. She just wanted to save me the trip. It was such a simple gesture and so appreciated. Do something thoughtful for someone today. Make it a habit.
  • Little Bee's Cheesecakes - Brittany used to be the office manager at my chiropractor's office. She recently left her desk job to focus more fully on her passion: making cheesecakes. She launched her business from Instagram (@littebeescheesecakes) where you can drool over her latest creations. Not only are her cheesecakes absolutely delicious, they are stunning and affordable too. Unfortunately, you have to live in/near the Charlotte area to get your hands on one. If you're reading from afar, come on out for a visit --I'd love to have an excuse to order one for us. :)
  • Yogurt - Greek Gods Yogurt is a favorite breakfast or even dessert offering around here. We love the Honey flavor best. It is a bit on the indulgent-side in terms of calories, carbs, and sugar... but you've got to live sometimes, people. With a little fresh fruit, some granola for texture, and a drizzle of honey, you've got yourself a simple, beautiful, DELICIOUS treat!
  • Fresh Figs - See above. Wow. I wish I had a fig tree. I love them plain, in yogurt, wrapped in prosciutto, on a pizza, as a jam, with my cheese... What am I missing?? 
  • Thoughtfulness (Again, because there's no such thing as too much.) - Hold the presses! I'm adding another remark about thoughtfulness this morning before I publish this post. I was just greeted by a little surprise on my doorstep that has me reveling in the kindness and consideration of friends. Stemming (pun intended) from a remark I made the other day, my plant-loving (and über talented) friend Laura (of @city.stems), just gifted me this overly-complementary (just ask my grumpy Caladium) and very cool mug. For no reason except to bring me a little joy. How lovely. Be a joy-giver today and comment below about how you're accomplishing the challenge. 

Monday, August 12, 2019

Recipe Review | Quick Sausage Skillet with Cherry Tomatoes and Broccolini

I came across this recipe while scrolling through Instagram yesterday. If you don't already follow Epicurious (@epicurious), you should start. You can also sign up for their newsletter via email. They have a ton of amazing-looking dishes. Not only did this particular recipe look delicious, it also appeared to be super quick to prepare AND we had a lot of the ingredients (or similar) already on-hand. Bonus, bonus, bonus. I made a few adjustments to the recipe (noted below) and this will definitely return many times in the future. Everyone liked it and it was very easy for a busy weeknight. Its actual title is "10-minute Sausage Skillet..." but mine took longer than that, maybe 15-20 minutes (due to extra prep time for the veggies I added and to ensure the sausage was browned and the tomatoes burst). I plan to enjoy the leftovers tomorrow morning with a fried egg on top.

via Epicurious
(4 servings)
What you need:
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
12 ounces fully cooked Italian sausage, sliced into 1/4"-thick coins (I doubled this and used andouille because it's what I had and I needed to cook it up.)
2 pints cherry tomatoes (I used about 1 1/2 pints.)
2 garlic cloves, pressed
4 sprigs thyme, leaves removed from stems
2 bunches broccolini (about 1 pound), trimmed, halved lengthwise
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces (I added this to the recipe.)
1/2 large red onion, cut into 1-inch pieces (I also added this.)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
What to do:
  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 2-4 minutes.
  2. Add tomatoes, bell pepper, red onion, garlic, and thyme, stir to combine (not too much --let them brown) and cook, pressing down on some of the tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon to encourage bursting, 2-4 minutes. 
  3. Add broccolini; season with salt and pepper. Cook, covered, 2 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in butter until melted.
  5. Divide sausage mixture among plates. Serve with crusty bread or over rice (like we had it).

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Things I Love Thursday // 8.8.19

  • Floral Dress - This comfortable and flattering dress is from Amazon. It's less than $30. There are tons of prints to choose from. I wore it with a slip and paired it with heeled sandals. There is some bra exposure under the arms --but not too bad, IMO. I tied the attached belt in the back, rather than what is modeled in the link. I wish the belt were detachable, as a straw belt or wide brown leather belt would look great too. (I may just bust out the seam ripper and remove it.) I usually wear a 6/8 in dresses. I ordered this in a Small and it fits great. At ankle-length, it is on the long side (I'm 5'6"). The slit is not too high. Some pics on Amazon look like there are pockets --my dress has no pockets. It's a dress that is easy to wear and looks like you put in a lot of effort when you actually didn't. The v-neck is not too deep. I'm sorry this is the only picture I have with me in it and my bag is blocking almost the whole thing! LOL 
  • Puzzles - I love working on puzzles. If you can't remember the last time you sat down to a puzzle, do yourself a favor and bust one out. I find them to be very relaxing (especially with a glass of wine). They can be fun to do with the family and if you set up on a card table or side table, you can come and go --working on it over the course of several days. We find that a puzzle is great to take on family beach or mountain vacations and I usually have one out over our holiday breaks. These days, there are some really great looking designs available (like the one below with gold leaf accents). My friend Anne and I even trade and pass along our puzzles after we've completed them. 
  • Hand Lotion - Y'all! (I wrote that because I found this next favorite while visiting friends in Alabama a few weeks ago and I think I'm really funny.) I love the smell of gardenias. If you do not, please feel free to skip ahead. We were in a little gift shop full of lovely treasures and trinkets and I'm so happy that I didn't miss this small jar of hand cream. It's from Boll Weevil Soap Company and the scent is "Summer Gardenia." The cream itself is silky and nice but for me, this product is all about the way it smells. The photo below shows how much I use for one application to (the back of) my hands and the fragrance lasts forever! (Also, it does not clash with the body whip I posted about last week. Bonus.) As I've mentioned, I do not care for lotion on my hands; however, I love this so much that I use it at least twice a day. I put the cream on the back side of my hand and and then rub the backs of my hands together. Am I crazy? Maybe --but I smell great and my hands don't feel lotiony (which is definitely a real word). If you're interested in getting your hands in some, call Chad Wester at 334-393-SOAP because the Gardenia isn't kept in-stock online but is available in their store and they will ship you some. They have tons of other scents and products. If you discover something different that you LOVE, please let me know by commenting below.
  • Pineapple Necklace - I would not describe myself as any kind of "pineapple-loving person" (the fruit is quite nice --but I'm referring to decor/accessories). However, when my friend, Simone (who happens to be pictured with me above in the Amazon dress), and I came across these lovely little keepsake necklaces in Charleston during her last visit out from California, they turned out to be perfect little keepsakes to remember our time together near the beach. We each bought one for the other. Each of the "Sea La Vie" necklaces are packaged sweetly with a little saying inside the box. The sentiment with this pineapple design reads, "You basically have to be my friend forever because you know too much! Wear this necklace and know that if I had to share my last piña colada with someone, I'd pick you every time." There are great little messages to share between friends or mothers/daughters that speak to encouragement, gratitude, and attitude. The company that produces them, Spartina 449, has a storefront in Charleston that we spent a good amount of time inside (the air-conditioning was enjoyed as well). In addition to this line of delicate necklaces, we found lots of things to love while shopping around, like this, and these, and this too. 
  • Banana Bread - The Chiquita Banana Bread Mix is the best I've ever come across. Obviously, from-scratch would be best. However, since trying this boxed mix, I have not returned to purely homemade. This one just tastes too good and is too effortless to abandon. The recipe calls for 2 over-ripe bananas (or as my friend, Miffy, would say in her amazing Australian accent, "grumpy bananas"), water, and an egg. I found it years ago in the neighborhood grocery store but since then, have only been able to find it through Amazon (where I buy 3 at a time). It's always a hit around here.
  • Cheerful Sneakers - I found these Soludos sneakers (for Geneva on her birthday) --or should I say, they found me? --I'm pretty sure an ad for them popped up in my Instagram feed and that's how they got on my radar. I looked carefully at the reviews and decided to pull the trigger. I couldn't be happier that I did (and more importantly, neither could she). They are so well-made! The leather is soft and pliable. The stitching is beautiful and vibrant. The only downside is that they might be a little delicate for any real wear-and-tear. For example, I've mentioned to her that if she were to sit on the sidewalk criss-cross-applesauce, she would surely scuff, dirty, or even pull some of the threads along the resting side of the shoe. Sizing is very true; however, if you're slightly between sizes, I would go up. She wears a 7.5-8 (just like me YAY!) and the 8s are just right with a thin "no-show" sock. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Recipe Review | Milk Street's Israeli Hummus + Spiced Beef Topping (Kawarma)

Several months ago I was introduced to Christopher Kimball's Milk Street magazine. I don't remember how I stumbled upon it, but after thumbing through a few pages, I was sold. Literally. I am now a subscriber of the print edition (they have an online version as well) which arrives in my mailbox every-other month. It is gorgeous! The recipes are plentiful and varied and the entire package is presented in a way that makes me want to read it cover-to-cover, like a novel, as soon as it arrives. Also, there are NO advertisements. None. Below are the first recipes I tackled. The story part of the Israeli Hummus article was enlightening as well. I don't think I'd every heard of serving hummus warm and certainly not as a main dish (typically the breakfast choice in Tel Aviv and often eaten with a spoon, like soup). The suggested accompaniments (sliced hard boiled egg, roasted eggplant, Kawarma) take the dish in different directions.

Israeli Hummus
via Milk Street (Special Issue)
Makes 4 cups (leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 5 days)
What you need:
Cold water
8 ounces dried chickpeas (Whole foods Market 365 Everyday Value brand recommended)
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup roasted tahini, room temperature (Kevala, Soom or Aleppo brands recommended)
3 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 to 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika 
What to do:
  1. In a large bowl, combine 8 cups of cold water, the chickpeas and 2 tablespoons of the salt. Let soak at room temperature at least 12 hours or overnight.
  2. In a large stockpot over high, bring 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a boil. Drain the soaked chickpeas, discarding soaking water, and add to the pot. Return to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium and cook until the skins are falling off and the chickpeas are very tender, 45 to 50 minutes.
  3. Set a mesh strainer over a large bowl and drain the chickpeas into it; reserve 3/4 cup of the chickpea cooking water. Let the chickpeas sit for 1 minute to let all liquid drain. Transfer to food processor. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt, then process for 3 minutes (even if you think the consistency is smooth sooner, use all three minutes for a very creamy and light result).
  4. Stop the processor and add the tahini. Continue to process until the mixture has lightened and is velvety smooth, about 1 minute. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the sides and bottom of the processor bowl. With the machine running, add the 3/4 cup of cooking liquid and the lemon juice. Process until combined. Taste and season with salt.
  5. While still warm, transfer the hummus to a shallow bowl and use a large spoon to make a swirled well in the center. Drizzle the well with olive oil, then top with the parsley, cumin, and paprika. OR make the Kawarma (below) and too with that instead!

Spiced Beef Topping (Kawarma)
via Milk Street (Special Issue)
Makes about 2 cups
What you need:
1/2 pound 90% lean ground beef
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water, divided
1/2 large yellow onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Tahini, to serve
Optional toppings: toasted pine nuts, fresh mint, feta, pickled red onion
What to do:
  1. In a medium bowl, use your hands to mix together the beef, paprika, salt, cinnamon, cumin, oregano, cayenne, garlic and 2 tablespoons of water.
  2. In a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat, combine the ground beef mixture, onion, and olive oil. Cook, stirring occasionally and breaking up the meat, until the onion is softened and the beef is no longer pink, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  3. Add another 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of water and cook, scraping the pan, until the water has evaporated and the mixture begins to sizzle, about 5 minutes. Off heat, stir in the lemon juice and parsley. Taste and season with salt. 
  4. Spoon over hummus, then drizzle with tahini (and add toasted pine nuts and fresh mint if you want to enjoy it exactly like we did).

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Things I Love Thursday // 8.1.19

  • Photo Box - If you're looking for a gorgeous way to keep/display memories from a favorite trip or event, I couldn't recommend this Photo Box from Artifact Uprising any more. It's very well-made and the simple style is eye-catching and unique. The front photo is on full display. It holds up to 50 photos (5x5 squares). Artifact Uprising prints your images on beautiful, thick paper. I find that thumbing through a "deck" of photos is a refreshing update on the memory book or album route. The set can be a little pricey ($60 for the box + $22 for 25 prints or $44 for 50 prints) but I think the product really showcases and celebrates a special time. This would also be an amazing milestone birthday gift for a family member or friend. 

  • Re-reading a few great "trashy" (?) novels - This is funny. I know. The thing is, sometimes it's nice to indulge in some mindless entertainment. While at the beach a few weeks ago, I found an old copy of Bloodline by Sidney Sheldon in a thrift store. It was 25¢ (no tax). I remember reading it when I was about 15 and that it was the first novel I read that had such an unexpected twist that I felt my brain do a little somersault at that passage. I wondered if it would still "stand up" and entertain me like it had before. After several flight delays and an unplanned overnight at the airport hotel on our return leg from the beach, I decided it was the best quarter I ever spent! I was engrossed. After posting about it on Instagram, several friends recommended other "trashy" reads and I've plowed through since: including Master of the Game (another Sheldon --boy, does he have some weird thing with powerful and twisted women!) and Twilight (I know. --but only the first book in the series!). Fun, fun! I'm about 1/4 of the way through Forever by Judy Blume (which I never read as a teen) and I'm considering revisiting Flowers in the Attic by V. C. Andrews. Do you have any other trashy recommendations? Please comment below!

  • The Library - You guys! (Aside from that quarter at the thrift store, I didn't pay for any of the books above.) The online library situation is legit. If it's simple and user-friendly in Charlotte, then odds are it's pretty great where you are too. Digital loans are so convenient and couldn't be easier. Do you have a Kindle? Then you have an unlimited number of free reads right at your fingertips! If you have a kid between the ages of 8 and 28, chances are they can help you navigate the borrowing system and show you how to transfer your loans to your device (an if not, I'm certain a librarian would be very helpful). Game-changer. Our library also has an audio book option and you can listen to your loan right from the app on your phone. Brilliant. 
  • Flower Child - Apparently this fresh, plant-forward (plenty of protein additions available) restaurant started in California. Makes sense. Charlotte just got one and the lines are out the door and down the street (or they were at lunch this week when I was there with a girlfriend). Not to worry, the line moved fast and there were plenty of spots inside and on the patio. Parking was not as abundant so if you can, carpool, light rail, walk, or ride. Don't miss the Tomato Toast. I can't wait to go back and try All Of The Things. 

  • Target Jumper - Here's another cozy/lounging alert! I love, love, love this super-soft jumper from Target. I found it in the lounge/pajama section and it's great for when my caftan is in the laundry {wink}. I have worn it out of the house (on the return flight from the beach I wrote of earlier) and it was great with a colorful sports bra. Usually an 8 in bottoms, I bought this in a medium and it's just right. I feel like this is something I should buy a second one of... for when this one gets a little worn and I'm sad it's not available anymore...
  • Sitting with this guy on our porch - No explanation needed. ;) 

  • Golf Outings - Double-date golfing is super fun! Though, I do have a few requirements: 1. Moderate weather; 2. 9-hole maximum; 3. Icy adult beverage; 4. Not keeping score; 5. The option to pick up my ball (hopefully, it's "findable") and throw/drop it wherever I want on the fairway or green; 6. The understanding that if I swing and miss my ball completely, we behave as though I was taking a practice swing. Ta-Da! SO fun! Let's play. 

  • Egg Thins - I literally just made an entire post about these versatile little wraps that substitute for bread or tortillas. In case you missed it and you're a person who cares about carbs and sugar intake, I'm mentioning them again.