inspired : 4.29.12

LOVE this sweet anniversary session!

insightful thoughts on diet foods

a great look into ryan estes’ post production workflow

3 tips for a perfect pantry!

it’s like my two favorite worlds collided…s’mores whoopie pies

and my other favorite world…a chick-fil-a engagement story!

this one is a bit healthier. pretty citrus engagement session

since i’m currently eating my weight in milk & honey chocolate banana granola, it would be really helpful if i could make a batch or 500 of this granola

nick collins…we are going to miss you something fierce. you were a great packer, and you are a great man!

OH, calligraphy!!!

i’m not even a tried and true gator fan and i still think this is hysterical…

pin of the week:

i can’t stop looking at this picture…

by katie bower...SO adorable!

OH MY WORD.

pinned here via here

(AMAZING, katie!)

staying real : i’m going to MTH 2012…tomorrow morning

SO…

this is going to be short and anticlimactic because I need to go to bed soon because I am driving to Chapel Hill, North Carolina at 5am tomorrow morning because even though I didn’t get the full scholarship to Making Things Happen I decided to go anyways and I haven’t blogged about it at all or really talked about it at all even though I’ve known for the past 3 weeks that I’m attending because I’m nothing if not a champion avoider of a variety of emotions and I am scared out of my mind to go to a workshop in which we discuss dreams and life goals because the things that I’ve been making happen recently include forgetting to shower on a publicly acceptable basis and finishing the entire series of Gilmore Girls for the I-don’t-know-how-manyeth-time-because-I’ve-honestly-lost-count and that’s not really a ringing endorsement for lofty ambitions so I couldn’t bring myself to think about going to MTH which explains why I couldn’t write a sappy blog post about how much it means to me to go to MTH and how excited I am which explains the subsequent absence of all chocolate substances that were once in my pantry.

Whew.

And since I still can’t talk about it in a way that is not a paragraph long run-on sentence…that’s all I’ve got. However, I do have three short thoughts to offer in exchange:

1. This has nothing to do with anything, but I feel compelled to tell you all that I thought today was knife sharpening day at Williams Sonoma. So I put my favorite knife into an over mitt which I then put in my purse because how else do you transport a large chopping knife but in an oven mitt inside your purse and went off to the mall hoping and praying that I didn’t get a) pulled over for any reason and searched or b) set off a security alarm inside the mall and searched. But I took comfort in knowing that there is safety in numbers so at least my fellow culinary store patrons would come to my defense if I were hauled off to prison for oddly concealing odd weapons.

Imagine my surprise when I arrive at Williams Sonoma and it is NOT knife sharpening day after all. It’s just a regular day. So now I’m not walking around with a large knife in an oven mitt in my purse to have it honed to perfection by the kind employees at Williams Sonoma. I’m actually just walking around the mall with a large knife in an oven mitt in my purse.

Between the hair dresser and Wegmans this has really been a banner week for me. I think my days of being allowed out in public are numbered.

2. You guys all pack food when you are going on a road trip, right? Like a dozen granola bars and microwavable oatmeal and squeeze packs of peanut butter and trail mix and a variety of tea bags and chocolate milkshake mix and three packs of gum and bananas? And package it all up in old oatmeal canisters so that it’s separated by meal times? Right?

3. You guys all contact your favorite blogger who you’ve never met in person or had a conversation with before and ask them if, oh hey, maybe you could descend upon their lives while in their general geographic area next week? Right?

I think this entire post can be labeled under “new low.”

In other news, I’ll be posting through saved drafts this week…and then I’ll be back with an actual recap that is longer than one sentence but shorter than War and Peace next week.

I hope.

Have a GREAT week, everyone!

(And if those of you who pray could pray for my safety/sanity as I travel, I’d surely appreciate it. And if you could also pray for healing since I JUST realized that Chick-fil-A will be closed tomorrow because it’s Sunday therefore thwarting my plans for an imminent reunion and breaking my waffle-fry-lovin’ heart…that would be great too. )

staying hungry : tuna, white bean, and beet salad with dijon viniagrette

For the love of all that is the Weekly Dinner Challenge…

We finally have a rave-worthy meal around here!!!

Now, it may not look like much, but this salad packs an AMAZING punch. It’s from the hallowed pages of Everyday Food, a sure source of winning recipes every time.

This recipe is from the May 2012 edition. Here’s the original ingredient list:

Tuna, Chickpea, and Beet Salad

Ingredients:

1/4 balsamic vinegar

1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 cans light tuna

1 head romaine lettuce (I used a bag of spinach and arugula)

3 cups baby spinach (I used an arugula field mix…because I’m an addict)

1 package cooked beets (8 oz)

1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained (15.5 oz) (I used white beans instead)

Directions:

Here are my I’m-too-lazy-to-wash-multiple-bowls directions: Whisk together the balsamic vinegar, Dijon, and olive oil in a medium bowl. Add in the flaked tuna, chopped beets, and beans. Toss to coat. Add equal portions on top of salad mix to each bowl.

Apparently my kitchen motto is “Less is more.” Only when it pertains to dishes. Not when it pertains to chocolate.

Rating: 4.5/5. This salad is going to be a lunch staple this spring/summer. Light but filling and packed with protein…and the dressing just takes it over the top! THANK YOU, Everyday Food, for redeeming these Challenge posts!

good things : spring groceries

It’s time for another grocery post!!! Here are a few favorite pantry staples this spring:

Theo Cacao Nibs

Cacao nibs are, according to Theo’s website, “bits of unrefined cacao beans that have been separated from their shell and roasted to perfection in our chocolate factory. Nibs are naturally rich in vitamins and minerals. They are also a great source of antioxidants.” Cacao nibs are also, according to me, delicious. I love sprinkling them on my oatmeal, greek yogurt, and banana ice cream! I think they’d be really good in pancakes or waffles, too. Thank you, Wegmans, for adding this product to your already-brimming shelves!

TJ’s Golden Roasted Flax Seeds

I like burnt food. Burnt popcorn especially. I know, it’s weird. But what I like most about these roasted flax seeds is the depth of flavor due to the roasting. They don’t taste burnt…but they almost do. Regular flax seeds I could totally live without. I mean, I like them for their health benefits, but flavor-wise, they’re entirely forgettable. But these! Oh these! These I add to everything. Such a good advancement in flax seed technology.

TJ’s Omega Snack Packs

Apparently all of my omega needs are being met by Trader Joe’s these days. While I usually don’t spring for preportioned snack packs because it just seems too much expense for too much laziness, these have been really handy to have around when life gets crazy and I need food to-go.

Ezekiel Muffins

These are long overdue as a feature but let me tell you, totally worth the wait. I wasn’t going to buy them because it takes a lot for me to purchase a grocery item that costs about $5. Especially when that item is English muffins. But what lured me in was the protein content – 8 grams in each muffin! So I added them to the cart. And I’ve never looked back. I am hooked on these things…so good for you, and SO GOOD! Oh my word, with peanut butter and banana slices…heaven.

Kashi Lemongrass Chicken

Kashi, your frozen meals make my life a better place. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love them. And this Lemongrass Coconut Chicken? It’s like a summer vacation! Love it!!!

Ben & Jerry’s Greek Frozen Yogurt

This picture was not taken this morning with all of the rest. Because I had to pull it from my Instagram archives. Because this item is no longer in my possession. Because I had no problem finishing the pint in under 48 hours. I think that’s all I need to say about that.

Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa

This stuff is the magic behind the chocolate greek yogurt and the chocolate banana ice cream. And if you want to eat brownie batter for breakfast (and really…who doesn’t?), just add a tablespoon to your oatmeal in the morning and mix it with some almond milk. You get all of the rich luxuriousness of dark chocolate for only 10 calories per tablespoon – no grams of sugar and one gram of protein! Miracles DO happen!

Nature Valley Protein Bars

Something unprecedented happened over the weekend. I swapped the week’s worth of LUNA bars I had already picked out for these Nature Valley Protein bars. Now…hear me out. Ingredient wise, LUNA bars are filled with real, organic ingredients and probably have a quality advantage over Nature Valley. But what swayed me was that, surprisingly, the Nature Valley bars only have 6 grams of sugar per bar along with the 10 grams of protein…and the ingredient list was much shorter…and the price was much cheaper! I still love me some LUNA; they put out so many great products and I support their mission. But for less sugar and less money and great flavor…I’ll be buying these for awhile!

Chobani

Speaking of sugar, I usually prefer to buy plain yogurt and add my own toppings because flavored yogurt just has SO MUCH sugar! However, Chobani has won me over. For quick and easy protein these yogurts can’t be beat, and they’re so good! Add something crunchy on top for texture and you’ve got a great snack on the go.

Celestial Seasonings Sweet Coconut Thai Chai and Fruit Tea Sampler

The Thai Chai, aside from being fun to say, is helping me weather these less-than-springy days we’ve had around here recently. The Fruit Tea Sampler gives me hope that someday, in the far and distant future, fresh fruit will be readily available and iced teas will be brewed with enthusiasm.

Food Should Taste Good Jalapeno Chips

I’m so glad Carolyn suggested this brilliant combination: jalapeno chips and guacamole were made for each other. Oh my word…SO good! These chips are great by themselves or with hummus, too, but they’re really best with a hearty side of guac.

Annie’s Fat Free Raspberry Balsamic Dressing

Fat free and low fat items aren’t my favorite. I feel like the real deal has so many more advantages than disadvantages, satiety being one of the main ones. However, if you’re looking to save a few calories but not lose any flavor (or sleep over fake food), this is one fat free dressing that can’t be beat. It’s made from real ingredients, won’t add any extra fat or many extra calories to your meal, but tastes amazing! Great pick for a healthy dressing or marinade.

And there you have it! These items have been frequent flyers on this season’s grocery list. How about you guys? What have you been buying lately?

weddings wednesdays : 4.25.12

I’m so glad this feature is back.

This week’s Wedding Wednesday is SO full of beauty I can hardly contain my enthusiasm! Let’s dive right in:

Oh my word…THIS WEDDING! I love every single thing about it! The bold, beautiful colors splattered in between bright whites, the whimsical details, the emphasis on fun and warmth that emanates from every photo. It’s a winner in every way!
Laura Ivanova Photography and Elizabeth Anne Weddings featured on I Love Farm Weddings - Northern MN Grandview Lodge wedding

Laura Ivanova Photography and Elizabeth Anne Weddings featured on I Love Farm Weddings - Northern MN Grandview Lodge wedding

Laura Ivanova Photography and Elizabeth Anne Weddings featured on I Love Farm Weddings - Northern MN Grandview Lodge wedding

image credit : laura ivanova photography

post credit : i love farm weddings

I’m a sucker for succulents. And they are all over the place in this wedding! I’m especially a fan of the row lining the ceremony chairs.

image credit : kate harrison photography

post credit : style me pretty

So many beautiful, handmade details in this sweet Texas wedding. Love the bride’s hair, too!

image credit : kelly hornberger photography

post credit : southern weddings

There are literally no words for how much I love this bouquet. I could have added all of the rest of the wedding photos too…but this arrangement is so stunning I just couldn’t do anything but showcase it alone!

image credit : ben q photography

post credit : style me pretty

How gorgeous is this dress??? And the paper flowers? Perfection!

image credit : michele beckwith photography

post credit : style me pretty

Well this wedding took place in Wisconsin, which means it was already a winner in my book.The tall trees, soft spring colors, and lakeside festivities just put it over the top.

image credit : yazy jo photography

post credit : style me pretty

staying real : oh, the chicken.

(Late night last night + early morning this morning = no time to blog today. But look what was lurking in my drafts folder! Another embarrassing story showcasing my inability to function like a normal human in public! I’ve got an endless supply, really. Enjoy…and Happy Tuesday!)

This weekend I experienced my first ever bout with abandoned groceries. Which is actually surprising, seeing as how I’m really good at forgetting things. As I was leaving the store with my reusable bag I noticed that I didn’t see a separate plastic bag for the chicken anywhere. I figured the 15 year old behind the register shoved it to the bottom of the reusable bag. I had some choice mental words for him and my flattened chicken.

But alas, when I arrived at home and unpacked my bag, there was no chicken to be found, flattened or otherwise.

There was, however, plenty of crow. My apologies, Register Boy.

So back to Wegmans I went, receipt in hand, already wondering how in the world I’m going to prove that “Yes, I paid for this chicken, and no, it’s not actually at home in my crockpot at this moment.”

But Wegmans…oh, Wegmans…they were so cool. As cool as the cucumbers in their produce stands. And they were Antarctica compared to me. Because I needed to explain my situation in (too much) detail to the poor guy working at the customer service desk before he finally interrupted me to say, “Ma’am…it’s ok. Really. Happens all the time. You can go get another package of chicken.”

Then, for reasons known only unto me, I felt compelled to leave the peanut butter I had just purchased during Trip #2 behind the customer service counter as collateral. I don’t know why. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

It did not seem like a good idea when I returned to the customer service desk after obtaining my replacement chicken to find a new person behind the counter (Other Guy, if you fled the scene while anticipating my return, I wouldn’t blame you) and tried to explain why I taking both a pound of chicken and a jar peanut butter for no apparent reason other than a very long, enthusiastic, exhausting story.

But at least I came home with the chicken this time.

Even though my dignity is still somewhere behind the customer service desk.

staying in rochester : birthday weekend food tour

I celebrated my birthday over the weekend. And by celebrated, I mean I ate an abundance of really good food with a lot of really good people.

OH…the abundance!

In highly uncharacteristic fashion…I didn’t photography ANYTHING that I ate. Who am I?! I’ll return to normalcy next time around, but for now, enjoy the logos and website links!

Here’s how it all went down:

Thursday:

Location: Napa Wood Fired Pizza

Napa

Order: The Medusa (wood-fired pizza with basil pesto, goat cheese, the Napa cheese blend, figs, and caramelized onions instead of pineapple)

Friday:

Location: Yotality

Order: Vanilla, Pink Lemonade, and Pomegranate Frozen Yogurts with Toppings

Location: Dogtown

Dogtown - Where the best hot dogs live

Order: The Schnauzer (traditional dog with sauteed onions and brown mustard)

Location: Yotality (Round Two)

Order: Peanut Butter and Chocolate Frozen Yogurt with Toppings

Location: Village Bakery (full post coming soon…this place stole my heart!)

Order: Farm Table Salad (organic greens, carrots, tomatoes, avocado, goat cheese, croutons, nuts, lemon vinaigrette), the Daybreaker (espresso, steamed milk, honey, vanilla simple syrup, cinnamon sprinkles) (OH MY WORD.)

And…there’s still a trip to Simply Crepes left for next weekend! Does life get any better?

Here’s to good food and extended celebrations!

staying real : thoughts that really should have stayed thoughts

Well it’s Monday. And it’s snowing. And I have no heat. So it seems like a great day to share this story and bring some levity to life.

I’m not sure what came over me when I went to the closest and cheapest a new hair salon over the weekend. Perhaps it was the shock from being in sandals and a sundress one day to a winter coat and scarf the next. Perhaps it was errand-weariness from a day with 1,000 stops. Or perhaps it was just me being me…uncensored.

It was probably that.

For whatever reason, I was filter-less. Like, completely filter-less. It was a direct flight from thought to speech. Not in a charming way. More in a way that made me regret every time I decided to respond to a question. Which was frequently.

So here you are, friends. A little advice on what not to say out loud to strangers. Not that any of you need this advice; I’m sure you’re all capable of having perfectly normal conversations with your hairdresser. Or, you know, with humans in general.

Clearly, I am not.

Things You Wish You Hadn’t Said To Your New Hairdresser, Or To Anyone, Ever:

1:

Hairdresser: Let’s get started! Do you want a wash?

Me: Um…yes. Definitely yes. My hair is a hott mess right now. Kind of like my life.

2:

Hairdresser: So, do you have any fun plans for tonight?

Me: Well, I have sweatpants and leftover takeout waiting for me at home, so yes!

3:

Hairdresser: Do you want me to put your purse over by the coat rack?

Me: Only if you want a mild strength and conditioning workout. I’m kind of a hoarder.

4:

Hairdresser: So…when was the last time you had a haircut…?

Me: Um. August? Yes, August. The last month that started with an A. Which actually speaks more to my personal hygiene habits than to the busyness of my schedule.

5:

Hairdresser: Ok! What would you like to do with this?

Me: If by “this” you mean the mop atop my head…I’d just like it not to look like this anymore, please. So do whatever you need to do!

It’s good that this experience ended by me taking out a $20 that had been folded into a small square and covered in masking tape…as it had been stuck to the inside of my running shoes as a surprise by my mom over Easter (thanks, Mom!). I’m sure that the full minute it took me to untape the cash I was about to pay with was just enough time for the hairdresser to jot down my name, age, and general physical description so that I’m put on a black list and never allowed back in the salon again.

Oh my word…oh my word.

Luckily it was all worthwhile since I skyped with my parents later that night, sporting the new ‘do, and my mom asked me when I was going to schedule that haircut I’ve been needing for awhile.

Apparently this was an effective outing on all fronts.

inspired : 4.22.12

this list is chock-full of real inspiration. namely:

Steven Curtis Chapman’s Red Bus Project

The Welcome Home Blog…also known as the reason I sat at my computer and cried for 20 minutes tonight

please vote for Humankind Water!

and in this week’s food section we have:

Chocolate Chip Buttermilk Pancake Baked Oatmeal

Coffee Coffee Cake Muffins. Yes, yes please.

So simple, so true :The Anatomy of a Really Good Grilled Cheese

And the miscellaneous entries:

this groomsmen portrait is hysterical

and speaking of hysterical…I think I’ve listened to this Utah Jazz announcer’s call 87 times and it literally never gets old (begins at the 2:30 minute mark)

I usually don’t like stenciling, but I really like this wall!

how does Scott Hoying not have a major record deal and 18 hit singles already?

pin of the week:

i understand this feeling. happy in the sunshine.

pinned here via here

(how much do you LOVE this puppy?! and how much do you understand the exact emotion he is feeling while basking in the sunshine?!)

(also, I hope you were all hoping for a post completely devoid of any semblance of punctuation consistency, because if so, your wish has come true!)