Friday

Five On Friday

Fall is here and that means one thing ... summer break is o-v-e-r and Five on Friday will be officially resuming next week! And we are so excited because we have something extra exciting up our sleeves. Stay tuned... 

For now, here are five things on my mind this gray and chilly Friday.

O N E
I have a lunch date today with two girlfriends and I am so excited about it. Working from home is great, don't get me wrong -- but I do love any reason to get out of the house around the lunch hour and SOCIALIZE. Catching up with two uplifting friends over a delicious lunch is a true treat.

surround yourself with good

T W O
After totaling up our grocery store spending for August, THEN picking up my jaw from the floor (oh my gosh ... so expensive), I have dedicated the month of September to seriously slashing our grocery spending. The two main ways I've done this is through meal planning and lower-cost shopping. I am planning a blog post about some of my favorite Aldi finds. You can also search Aldi on Pinterest for some pretty helpful blog articles like this one. Tip: don't just read the blog post; there is also a ton of great info in the comments section.

Aldi 101: What To Buy At Aldi Part 3 and I'm on my way there today!!  Do you know there is an app and website for the weekly flyers and specials?!  Good for planning.


T H R E E
Neighbors of us gave us a few books when Camille was born and Good Dog Carl is a definite favorite. It is about some fun adventures had between a dog and a baby. There are no words to the book so you can make up the captions to the illustrations as you go along. It would make a cute baby shower gift for a family with a pup.


F O U R
This photo is a little dark but it accurately depicts the nice quiet time I had earlier this morning ... a little cereal, coffee, and blog reading before the workday got started. Camille woke up in an adorable, giggly mood and we have a relaxing weekend planned with not a lot on the books. The best kind.


FIVE
Tis the season for kids' consignment sales, and I've been making the rounds. I've been to two already this month and will go to a third this weekend. At the first sale I bought a pair of really soft pima cotton pajamas for the baby (Pixie Lily for $4.50 -- a steal), and at the second one I found these two items below. This photo was taken on my iPad and the pic quality is less than stellar, but I was just snapping a quick photo to show my mom. The brown and ivory toile jumper can be layered over a short sleeved or long sleeved top, and the pink corduroy smocked number just was too cute to pass up. Both will fit Camille later this winter or early spring when it's still chilly. 

I rarely purchase new clothes anymore, consignment is the way to go. My favorite way to locate sales is by using ConsignmentMommies.com. Spring and fall are the times to find them!


TGIF, and may your weekend be an awesome one. 

See you next week for the linkup!

Thursday

Why I Love Ja-Vie Flats

I'm really excited to share with you my experience with a new line of shoes. I think you'll love them.

My middle sister put me and my youngest sister Laura in contact with a former colleague of hers (ya with me?) who is part of the Ja-vie team -- creators of innovative, stylish-yet-comfortable flats. They sent me a pair to try out in order to give an honest review.

All I have to say is, where was this company when I was walking all over Europe last year?! These would have been perfect for the miles and miles we walked each day! Oh goodness, and when I was pregnant with lower back pain? I would have lived in these. Walking around campus during my college days, I could have actually looked cute without bandaids plastered to the back of my heels.


They are definitely my new favorite shoes. I have the nude/black combo in the top right above, and the animal print flats are already heading my way as the second pair I'll own. The insole is what makes them so undeniably comfortable.

Today I paired them with leggings, a tank, and a cardi-wrap for an easy work-at-home "uniform."


The ironic part of this is that when I wore them outdoors to capture the shot above, they got super muddy. A combination of drizzly rain and a recent aeration of our lawn had red mud pellets stuck all over the bottom of the shoe. An unintentional way to truly put them to the test for this review! Never have I been so happy for the machine-washable quality of these shoes.



As you can see, they were bad off.

I just removed the  leather insoles, tossed the shoes in a laundry bag and put them in a cold-water quick cycle. Thirty minutes later, they were good as new, and they air-dried surprisingly quickly. The photo below was taken after they were all washed and dried. Clean as a whistle.


Regarding sizing, I typically wear a 7.5, and the size 38 fit me perfectly. If you wear a half-size, they recommend sizing up, and their site contains a helpful sizing chart.



Starting today, they have just added a lot of new colors and patterns to their line. You can find your favorite style here.

Shipping is very reasonable on their site, however you may use the code SMIDGE for free shipping (up to $15) through Saturday, October 4th.

Additionally, my sister Laura of The Reedy Review and I are teaming up to host a giveaway for a pair of shoes! Here's how to enter to win a pair of Ja-vies of your choice:

+ Visit the Ja-vie website to browse their current shoe designs
+ Leave a comment below with a pattern or color idea for a pair of Ja-vies that you would like to wear (ex.: I'd personally love to see a black and white striped pair)
+ One comment per person, please
+ Giveaway will run through midnight on Sunday, October 5th
+ Laura and I will announce the winner on our blogs on Monday, October 6th.

Good luck to you! I can't wait to hear your experiences with these shoes. :)

Wednesday

A Weekend In Charleston

This weekend was originally slated to be a quiet one with me and the baby -- the husband had plans to spend a night away and catch the ECU vs. Chapel Hill game with a buddy in Greenville, NC. 

But when an opportunity arose to go down to Charleston and support a worthy cause (and of course, mix in some Charleston fun), I jumped on it and asked my mom if she would like to join us for a girls getaway.

We arrived in Charleston Friday night and got Camille in pajamas, read a book to her, and put her in the crib that I'd reserved with the hotel. She did really well in it! She is not sleeping through the night, but having her crib right by my bed was really easy. Mom and I then had dinner delivered to our hotel room, Mediterranean food from a local restaurant. We watched Dateline (and the episode happened to be taking place in Charleston, as luck would have it) and next thing I knew, Mom was waking me up to get ready for bed. I was exhausted and had fallen asleep midway through the Dateline episode.

Saturday afternoon, we went to the farmers market in Charleston. 



We found the cutest little children's clothing line called Urbane Baby. I picked out a dress for Camille (which is designed to be worn now as a dress and later as a top when baby is taller ... so smart) and was chatting with the owner when I noticed the cutest headwrap scarves. I put this one on the babe and knew immediately it had to come home with us. People were stopping in their tracks in front of the Urbane Baby tent and talking about how cute she looked in it! The sweet owner was charging $6 for the headwraps which I thought was really fair. I couldn't find them on her website but I'm sure you could contact her through the site if you wanted one.


Here is the little dress we bought. I love the sweet elephant pattern.


We had the best time just walking around the farmers market and letting Camille take in all the sights and sounds. 





I love shopping the market. I think it's one of Charleston's happiest places. For our home, I picked out a new Rewined candle in the same scent I purchased last September -- spiked cider. 

 

From the farmers market we then made our way up and down King Street, ducking in a few stores but not purchasing anything. After building up an appetite, we lunched at Jestine's. We hadn't been there for years and years. Don't be discouraged by the waiting line that often wraps around the corner of the building -- we were only in line for maybe 10 minutes. The fried chicken is worth it! Mom got the meatloaf and also raved about it.


Camille was such a ham at lunch, very happy after having her bottle and feeling a little sassy in her headwrap, I think.


So the real reason we were in Charleston was for a fundraiser for injured war veterans. Earlier that morning we'd cheered them on as dozens of them completed a 30-mile ride around Charleston. This is the tail end of the procession. Seeing the bikes that were custom engineered for each veteran was remarkable. Some were pedaled by hand, by foot, some motorized, all a work of art to meet the veteran's needs.


That evening we attended a reception and a concert and were able to meet many of the foundation's donors as well as some pretty amazing war heroes. So many parts of this weekend brought a new perspective to me. When one wife came up to me that morning and asked me if my husband was participating in the ride, I felt a lump rise in my throat.

One of the event's speakers was SC Senator Lindsey Graham, and we snagged a photo with him.


I'm so thankful that we had this opportunity. Eye-opening in so many ways. 

Before lunch on Sunday, we stopped by the outlets and I picked up the cutest cat boots for Camille to wear this winter. I mean ... I can't get enough of them.


We all lunched with Megan from Fried Green Pickles at Jim 'n Nicks and I am still dreaming of their fluffy cheddar biscuits. And the best update ever is that when I just searched for them online, I found that they have two locations near my house! I was going to buy some of their biscuit mix online, but now I can just pop into the restaurant. If you are so inclined, it is $6 here and I promise you that they are probably some of the best cheese biscuits I've ever, EVER eaten.


Megan so sweetly gave this book to Camille and Ian and I read it to her Sunday night before bed. Such a cute book and great for Charleston lovers! Megan, we absolutely love it. You are so thoughtful.


Mom and I are already planning on a Charleston girls trip to be an annual getaway. We had the greatest time together and loved introducing the baby to such a special place, my very favorite South Carolina city.

Tuesday

F-A-L-L

Fall Favorites



Happy first day of fall!

I know it's a bit cliche to be all "BRING ON THE PUMPKIN SPICE LATTES, APPLE PICKING, PUMPKIN PICKING, APPLE BUTTER MAKING, PUMPKIN PIE BAKING" ... and that's not what I have in store (breath of fresh air?). I have some different fall favorites to share today.

O N E
We are deep in the throes of football season, and no, I don't really care a lick about the actual game, but I sure do like the sound of it on the television. To me, a Sunday afternoon of listening to the familiar sounds of football while the doors to the outside are wide open, crisp breezes filling the house, well that's just a good day.

T W O
Yesterday evening I replaced our embarrassingly dead summer flowers with new fall plants. We have two tall distressed metal planters, one on each side of the front door, and I chose large heads of ornamental kale and periwinkle-colored pansies. Our Home Depot had the kale for $3.33/ea and the pansies were less than a dollar each. For just over $11 we now have an entry point to our home that doesn't make me cringe :) We do have some vinca vine in some planters on the back patio that I may try to separate to add to the front door planters. I think vines would look pretty trailing down. I can't wait until the pansies fill in more and are blooming all under the kale.



T H R E E
Soup season! I really enjoy having a nice, hearty soup for dinner, and even more attractive to me is the idea of one-pot cooking (and easy cleaning). Whether made in the crockpot or the dutch oven, you can just add in ingredients as you have time and let it all simmer. Since I'm currently working from home, it's such an easy dinner to piece together as time allows and have ready for when the baby goes to sleep for the evening.

I want to make this mushroom soup, this white bean stew, and my very favorite beer cheese soup recipe that I snagged from a restaurant I was in once. It was so incredibly delicious that I asked if the chef would share the recipe with me, and I was shocked when the waitress came back with the recipe scrawled on the back of receipt paper. I'll post it here for sure.


Pumpkin spice lattes aside, what are your favorite parts about the fall season?

Monday

What's For Dinner? (Deceptively Simple Dishes)

It's time to do some more dinner planning around these parts and here are three dishes that are on my wishlist. My favorite kind of recipe is one that looks impressive but is deceptively easy (take, for example, the cornish game hens from the other day ... I was always intimidated to cook them, but if you can cook a piece of bone-in chicken like a chicken thigh, there's no major difference... promise).

First up, cashew coconut crusted chicken. Since we go lower carb during the weeks, the idea of a nut-crusted chicken tender really works for us. Making the coating mixture would be a weekend task when I would have more time and then I could just store it. I'd skip out on making the mango honey dip for a regular ole Tuesday night, although it does look delicious. Jarred honey mustard would do just fine :)

Cashew-Coconut-Chicken-Tenders-main

Secondly, oven roasted cauliflower with parmesan and garlic. Cauliflower goes on sale often but it's not necessarily flavorful enough to always catch my attention. But I think this easy dish (with ingredients I always have on hand) would be tasty and really easy on the wallet, too. I'd chop the cauli over the weekend, store in a big bag or tupperware, and then half the work is done when I'm ready to cook it.

Oven roasted cauliflower with garlic and parmesan

And lastly, grilled skirt steak with mint chimichurri. See what I'm doing here? Choosing recipes that pack a punch because they look oh so fancy -- but are simpler than what you'd think. Let's break this one down. So you buy the meat and mix a marinade. Half of the marinade goes in a ziplock with the steaks. The other half is reserved for drizzling over it after they are grilled. 

In the marinade are these ingredients: mint, parsley, olive oil, dried oregano, cider vinegar, lemon rind, lemon juice, and half a jalapeno. I grow mint and already own the olive oil, dried oregano, vinegar. I would just have to purchase a jalapeno and a lemon and swipe a few sprigs of parsley from my girlfriend's plant outside her back door. All of this could be made beforehand, stored in a jar, and then tossed in the ziplock when it's time to marinate the steaks. Easy.

Grilled Skirt Steak with Mint Chimichurri and Honey-Roasted Sunchokes | MyRecipes.com

The recipe also calls for honey-roasted sunchokes but I have no earthly idea what those are, so they are getting skipped.

What's a deceptively easy dish you like to serve?

Friday

Friday Five: Favorite Blogs

This Friday I thought I'd do a little something different and share five blogs that I absolutely love reading.

I read a lot of blogs, a LOT OF BLOGS, and I only read ones that I truly enjoy. Many fellow bloggers have become real-life friends of mine! Here are some that are always on my radar. Ones I always enjoy reading.

O N E
Hungry Meets Healthy
Recently I have been binge-reading this blog and I can't get enough, plus we have a very similar taste in music so I'm always excited when she posts new songs she's loving. Christina, if you see a lot of pageviews coming from Charlotte ... I'm not a scary stalker, I just love love love your blog.




T W O
Spice and Sass
Samma has the best recipes and the best writing style. Like, she could write for a magazine I do believe. Whenever I see a new post from her, I immediately click on it (after getting far too giddy). Adorable kiddos to boot.

Spice and Sass


T H R E E
Never Slack Tide
Jo has a newborn girl around Camille's age so I always love reading her posts, plus I just think she needs to come help me with my closet. I love her work clothes ... an area where I can always use a little inspiration.

Never Slack Tide


F O U R
The Southland Life
So, she hasn't posted too much lately, so hear my plea, Miss Katie ... I miss your blogging! Granted, she does have a sweet baby boy on the way any time now (if he's not here already). So I get it. But go ahead, read some of her old posts, I think you'll love seeing some of her sweet life.

The Southland Life

F I V E
The Wowie
I need a wine date with Wowie and stat, and only if she promises to bring her boys so I can have a dance-off with them. (PS, your husband is a hunk and we all know it.) Probably the funniest blog that I read, hands down, and a house from the pages of Southern Living. Lastly ... her hair.


Happy reading this Friday, and I'd love to hear from you ... what are some of your must-read blogs?

Thursday

Non-Fancy iPhone Documentation of EASY Dinners

Le sigh.
Some posts are all about the pretty photos, and this one is not. 

Weeknight dinners these days are a little simpler and a lot quicker than they used to be. With a four month old, we are still trying to figure out whether it's worth fitting in a quick supper while she is doing a catnap in the swing (around 6:15) or whether we hold off until she is down for the night (around 8). Waiting until later is definitely easier and more fail-proof, but some days I am just plan HUNGRY and ready to eat sooner!

So here are some non-fancy iPhone photos of recent weeknight dinners. You can be assured that as I quickly snapped these on my phone, Ian was standing behind me saying "Babe. Seriously?" :)

T-Bone Steaks with Roasted Okra and Peach Salad
Ian purchased these steaks for us, which explain their scary mammoth size. I got through a little less than half of mine and then used the leftovers as sliced meat for wraps the next three days. 

I love, love, love roasted okra -- I just toss it in olive oil and add salt and pepper (ground cumin is also excellent on them) and then roast at a high temp until crispy. The cool thing about this okra is that it started off in a frozen bag, and I thawed it in a colander in the sink. I wasn't sure if the consistency would be right, but our grocery store had large bags of it for just over a dollar so I figured I'd give it a shot. Worked perfectly, tasted the same as when I use fresh okra!

The peach salad had sliced peaches, blueberries, red onion, feta, basil, mint, red wine vinegar and a splash of olive oil. 


Prosciutto-Topped Cornish Game Hens with Tuscan White Beans and Strawberry Balsamic Salad
Mom was in town and we cooked these cornish hens for several hours in the Crockpot and then broiled the tops at the end to get them browned. We just simply rubbed them in olive oil and spices and topped them with a slice of prosciutto (which I removed while they broiled and then replaced). 

The white beans are just Great Northerns which I simmered with fresh rosemary and a little olive oil, then mashed until creamy. The salad was a simple one with greens, feta cheese, sliced strawberries, red onion, and a homemade balsamic dressing. 


Baked Salmon with Dill Yogurt Sauce, Pinto Beans, and Goat Cheese Salad
I baked salmon filets until flaky and served them with a dill yogurt sauce (dried dill, plain yogurt, lemon juice, salt, pepper). The pintos were simmered with fresh rosemary. 

The salad had greens, red onion, tomato, goat cheese, and a homemade citrus basil vinaigrette. I just mixed lemon juice with olive oil and a pinch of salt, added in a few fresh basil leaves to a mason jar and let it all marinate together. 


These were all simple meals and good for weeknights when you may be pressed for time ... or working around a little baby's witching hour. :)

Tuesday

A Baby At The Beach

This past weekend we had our second beach trip of the season but the first one where Camille actually put her toes in the water. It was just too, too cute.

She can't wear sunscreen yet, so we saved our beach time for the early evenings when there was no threat of too much sun. We could also get the dogs out at the same time which was really nice.

Folly Beach, SC, is a favorite place of ours for sure and this was a fun memory to add to the mix.
























It's absolutely crazy to think that next year she will be walking around on the beach. Walking!!!

PS: The babies sure had fun but the adults did, too! Pizza Friday night from Woody's complete with a raucous Cards Against Humanity game, the ECU Pirates game thoroughly enjoyed by the guys on Saturday afternoon, dads on duty later that day while the mamas escaped into town to Taco Boy for fish tacos, nachos and frozen screwdrivers, and more fish tacos that night at the house alongside a game of Taboo on the screened porch where the girls beat the guys big time. All topped off by a great brunch at Rita's on Sunday before making the drive home!

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