Friday Five {TGIF}

TGIF!  Time for a little Friday Five.

What I'm loving this gorgeous Friday:

{1} I finalized our gallery wall in our dining room!  Sneak peek below.  It went up on the wall slightly different.  I'll do a post soon with lots of pictures of the gallery wall and a new piece of furniture that we purchased for this room.  Just so, so thrilled with the outcome.

{2} Loving tasty and easy summer salads.  Before Crockpot comfort foods take over this fall, I've been taking advantage of warm-weather dinner staples.  Buying a head of lettuce and quartering it makes four easy and inexpensive salads for us to enjoy.  I top ours with light blue cheese dressing, blue cheese crumbles, bacon bits, and cracked black pepper.

{3} I'm definitely loving that this weekend, my sister becomes a wifey and I gain my first brother! 

{4} And along that note, I had a great time last night trying on all of my outfits, shoes, and jewelry that I have planned for all of the fun wedding festivities.

{5} STILL loving the cucumber gimlet cocktail that I posted the recipe for earlier this week.  Take advantage of the last few summer days and make yourself a batch this weekend!

Speaking of the dwindling summer, who's been wearing their white jeans like crazy?  I've got mine on today and am enjoying every millisecond of it.  I'll be sad to pack them away, but there's nothing like taking them back out again in the spring from their winter hibernation!  (For the record, I somewhat break the rules and have deemed it perfectly acceptible to start wearing white jeans after Easter.  So there.)

I'll be Instagramming photos of the lovely bride and wedding details this weekend -- follow me at @alizadventures!


Kitchen Loves + Wants

Kitchen Loves + Wants

I love being in my kitchen. Surrounding myself with gorgeous items makes food prep even more joyous.

{1} LOVE: A fun, neutral rug that can withstand foot traffic.  Can't beat our Ikea rug - $20!
{2} WANT: Always on the hunt for the perfect rustic wooden spoon.  Paula Deen makes a cute set.
{3} LOVE: I so enjoy my marble mortar & pestle.  Cracking peppercorns = fun.  Similar one here and here.
{4} WANT: This Etsy find is such a cheery and bright print ... I'm obsessed.
{5} LOVE: Yes, I love my pistachio Kitchenaid mixer.  Makes me smile.
{6} WANT: My gracious, this is the sweetest tea towel I've ever seen.

What's one of your kitchen loves?
And, what's one of your kitchen wants?

PS: Excuse me while I go purchase that tea towel.


I Fell In Love With A {Concert Venue}

This past Saturday night, we went to see Band of Horses and My Morning Jacket at the NC Music Factory ampitheater.  By far, this is my new favorite spot to catch a show.  The weather was perfect for an outdoor show, and there's not a bad seat in the house.

Have you seen any good shows recently?  Any upcoming concerts you're excited to catch?


Scarlet Fever

I recently wore a red top with a black pencil skirt and heels to work.  My sweet coworker said that red was "my color."  Maybe I shouldn't be so surprised -- my mother looks great in red, and we have similar coloring.  Obviously, I walked around the rest of the day feeling totally flattered and with a big smile on my face!

This fall, I hope to incorporate more red into my wardrobe.  I like a true red -- more orangey than bluish.  When worn in classic pieces, I think it looks so chic!


Earrings: Shopbop 
Red felt hat: Old Navy
Clutch: Veja
Peplum dress: Bardot
Long dress: Oasis
Nail polish: OPI

Now, time for me to get my "add to cart" clicking finger ready.  Signing off with a big, rosey red smooch!



Giveaway Announcement

I am taking part in a large giveaway at Choosing Joy.  I am giving away these A. Liz Designs earrings, and you also have a chance to win some other really great items!  She has six days of fabulous giveaways planned. 

Visit Lauren's blog to enter the giveaway.

To see more of my jewelry, please visit my Etsy shop.

Date Night + Cucumber Gimlet Recipe

Friday night was date night, and Ian and I headed to Beef and Bottle for a little Rat-Pack throwback action.  This popular dinner spot in Charlotte has such a cool Frank Sinatra vibe.  We both ordered steaks and shared sauteed mushrooms and creamed spinach.  The Oysters Rockerfeller appetizer is to die for, as well.

Before we left for dinner, I made us these Cucumber Gimlets.  I started with the basic recipe from Natalie at Designer Bags and Dirty Diapers and slightly tweaked it.  When we made it two weekends ago in the mountains, we both decided to slightly reduce the amount of lime juice in the cocktail.  When it comes to cocktails, I love cucumber -- so I wanted that fresh taste to stand out even more.

Here is my tweaked recipe.  These are delicious and refreshing ... perfect for the last few remaining summer days.

Start by assembling your ingredients:
  • English seedless cucumber (mine was very long and I only used 1/2 of it)
  • 3 limes
  • Simple syrup (I used homemade basil simple syrup - see recipe below)
  • Vodka
And your materials:
  • Blender (I used our small smoothie blender)
  • Citrus juicer
  • Shot glass

Cut your cucumber in thirds.  Remove the peel from the larger portion of cucumber.

Cut this peeled cucumber into chunks and add into the blender.

Use your citrus juicer to juice all of your lime halves.  I juiced mine straight into the blender.

Pulse peeled cucumber chunks and lime juice together until smooth and frothy.

Natalie's recipe calls for two shots of vodka per glass, but we reduced this to just one shot of vodka per glass.

Add the vodka and cucumber/lime mixture to your glass and let it sit for a bit to infuse together.  This is a great tip from Natalie!

This is another area where we tweaked the recipe a bit: I then cut the mixture with a little lime seltzer water.  It doesn't have a very strong lime flavor -- just a hint of it.

Slice your remaining 1/3 of the cucumber and add the slices into the glass and one for garnish.  Top with ice.  We love using these ice cube molds for perfectly square cubes.  Hey, it makes a difference!  :)

And there you have it!  This cocktail is so light and crisp.  I bet you'll love it as much as we do.

Basil Simple Syrup
The original simple syrup is made with equal parts sugar and water (ex.: 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar).  You just heat it on the stove in a small pot until your sugar dissolves and a simple syrup is created. 

For my basil simple syrup, all I did was throw in a few rinsed sprigs of basil from our garden during the heating process.  Then, just store in a glass jar.  It's that easy!

I've also used rosemary and lavender before.  Mint simple syrup would also be a nice one to try!


Weekend Plans + Hair Loves

Happy Friday!
I'm so very excited for this weekend.  Tonight is date night to a very fun place, and I'm making round two of the cucumber gimlet tonight (recipe coming soon, promise!) for us to enjoy as we get ready for dinner.  Tomorrow night we're going to go see Band of Horses and My Morning Jacket with friends.  Good times ahead.

Now, on to a very, very important topic... hair (wink!).

A girl's hair is mighty important, and I confess that I have a slight addiction to trying new hair products.  I've built up quite an arsenal.  May as well share what I've learned, and I want to hear your faves too!

Here are some of my go-to items and products.

Hair Loves pt. 1

Aveda Pure Abundance line: shampoo and conditioner
Aveda volumizing tonic
Aveda Smooth Infusion shampoo, conditioner, and style-prep smoother
Tresemme hairspray and dry shampoo
Moroccan Oil and Oscar Blandi dry shampoo
Ouidad Playcurl line (shampoo, conditioner, mousse) and Botanical Boost

I keep both Aveda and Ouidad products in the shower.  I like to alternate back and forth just depending on my mood in the morning!  Dry shampoos are nice to have on hand for a hair refresher if I'm going out after work or if I want to skip a day of washing hair.  I've recently gotten out of the habit of doing so because I've been working out more often, but I'd like to start again for the health of my hair.  Moroccan Oil is one of my very favorite hair indulgences.  When I shower at night following a workout, I'll skip washing my hair and rinse it only, and then I coat it with Moroccan Oil, set it in a braid, and go to sleep.

Now, on to the hair tools:

Hair Loves pt. 2

A hot roller set like this Remington set ($32)
I love my Hot Tools curling iron -- the best!
Invest in a quality hair dryer
I use the Remington Wet 2 Straight flat iron (free shipping)
Emi-Jay hair ties here, here, here, here
I go through bobby pins like it's my job

If I have time, hot rollers are my favorite way to style my hair.  If I'm in more of a pinch, I'll just rely on my Hot Tools 1 3/4" barrel curling iron to get some curls.  Other times, it's just a flat-iron type of day.

Sometimes I also sport this "mesh chignon" which is a really fancy-dancy name for a hair donut.  You can buy it at Sally Beauty Supply (online here).

That creates a style like this:

Since my hair is naturally curly, I like to wear it up anytime that I'm in a humid climate, like at the beach {above} or on days when rain is in the forecast.  Just makes life a little simpler.

So, I'd love to hear from you.  Have you tried any of the above products?  What are your top three hair products and tools?


Baked < Fried

Sunday night, we felt like a little splurge for dinner.  I'd originally planned to do blackened fish tacos that were baked and then flaked, but then we started talking about how amazing fried fish tacos would be.

So there it was.  Decision made.

And man, they were so delicious!  Worth every single glorious fried calorie.

To start off, I made a beer batter which is just a simple mixture of one cup all purpose flour and one cup beer.  Add a pinch or two of salt to the mixture.  Whisk together until it is clump-free.

Step two is quite important.
Pour the rest of the beer into a tiny glass and enjoy with a lime wedge.

My beer of choice is Imperial, which I enjoyed maybe a little too much while doing my study abroad for winter semester in Costa Rica. 

Next, you'll cut your fish into bite-sized pieces.  We used just one filet of fish to feed us both. 

Begin heating your oil.  I used our Le Creuset dutch oven because I didn't want to pull out our deep fryer.  A definite quality piece.

While the oil was heating, I made the white sauce.  For this, I mixed together the following:
  • Reduced fat sour cream
  • Light mayo
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • Cumin
  • Salt + pepper

The pieces of fish got a good dunking in the beer batter mixture and then into the hot oil they went.  Cook until golden brown.

When done, dry on a paper towel.

I also put our small tortillas under the broiler for a bit just to crisp them up.  A few fried pieces of fish in each, some refried beans, and a lime wedge ... almost all set!  Now time to accessorize the fish tacos.

We topped ours with sliced cabbage, some white onion slices, and a nice bit of that white sauce.  My, oh my.

The fried fish had the perfect crunch, and the beer batter was fluffy and flavorful.  It was such an easy and delicious meal, and one that will make the Sunday rotation again soon.

PS - This site has the Le Creuset Dutch Oven in Dune on sale with free shipping now.  I absolutely love mine, and the neutral color is timeless.  It's a nice kitchen splurge that is a classic piece.  We'll have it forever!


Read In Style

When I purchased my Kindle -- oh wait. Let me start again...

When I decided to steal Ian's Kindle and permanently make it mine forever and ever and ever, we were very close to our wedding weekend and honeymoon.  I grabbed the first Kindle cover I could find in time for our departure to the Dominican Republic. 

The non-fancy cover I have is white neoprene with a zipper at top.  Very utilitarian.  I do like that it is stretchy and can hold the charge cord as well as other random items (torn out magazine pages, keys, phone, license + debit card, room key, lipstick -- they have all made an appearance from time to time in that cover).  But now I'm thinking it's time to trade it in for something a little more stylish.

In addition to being pretty, I'd still like to have a cover that does have some storage capacity.  And did I mention that I'd like for it to be pretty?
Do you have a great source for a Kindle cover?  Please do share!
And speaking of Kindles -- what are you reading now?


Eight Lovies

This past weekend was pretty amazing.

Low-key Friday night at home with Chinese take-out and Game of Thrones (we're obsessed).

Early departure Saturday morning to the mountain house.

Eight things I absolutely loved from the weekend:

{1} Blue Moon with lunch.  Because it's the weekend.  And you can't do that during the week.  Nothing says "you have officially made it to the weekend" like an afternoon bevo.

{2} Chilly mountain air temps that called for a pashmina.  And yes, we went back to Char in downtoon Boone for lunch ... we are obsessed with that place and their sweet potato fries.

{3} The anticipation of driving up the mountain to get to la casa.

{4} Driving with windows down, sunroof back, and not giving a flip about my hair.

{5} Self portraits after a ride on the ranger down to the creek.  The ranger is a camouflaged, open-air, hold on for your dear life and buckle that lap belt ATV.

{6} Target practice.  Don't mess.  You can see them on the lower right.

{7} Straight up dominating that target.  Annie Oakley here.  I outshot Ian, too.

{8} Homemade cucumber gimlets with basil simple syrup.  Umm, let me just say that these are a life-changer.  Will post the recipe soon.

Saturday evening we went to The Painted Fish for dinner and had the best time.  We hit the outlets in Blowing Rock before heading home on Sunday.  Awesome, awesome weekend together.
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