Friday, June 28, 2013

high five for friday

I have absolutely loved this week. Here are some of my top five...

1. I made my first avocado toast and loosely follow Eat Live Run's recipe. Oh my, it was delicious. Definitely making more again this weekend.

2. This week has been glorious! While I hate working the weekends, four weekdays off has been unbelievable. I shared two afternoons at the pool with my mom, popcorn and movie, and chatted to our hearts content. It was like being on vacation.

3. I bought my first pack of Spark from Brooke and love it. Now, I'm just trying to decide whether or not to do the 24 day challenge. I'm just slightly nervous about whether Advocare is really safe and healthy. Any thoughts?

4.  I love rearranging and making small changes to our apartment. And I also cannot believe we only have two more weeks here before another move, and I don't want to think about leaving our incredible neighbors.

5. I spared you a sweaty photo, but I have loved being able to take two spin classes and two Pure Barre classes so far this week.  And tonight, the Chef and I will be able to go to one together! I love getting a good burn and sweat on.

Today, I'm guest posting over at Table for One. You should definitely go check out Laura Beth's cute blog!

Linking up with Lauren and Lindsey

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

June Stitch Fix

I shared with you my first Stitch Fix box and the disappointment that came with it. But thankfully, a little referral credit built up, so I decided to give it another try. My second box was much improved on the sizing and style.

I did forget to write the names of the items down. #bloggerfail.

This top was a great fit and similar style to something I'd pick, but I just didn't think that it would get enough wear. Being a nurse, I never dress up for work, even when we have meetings it's pretty casual and this isn't exactly what I would wear for a date night. But if I was in a more dressy job, I would have kept it. Returned.

This navy and red striped top was incredibly comfortable. I loved the material and the sleeves were cut slightly dolman which was a nice change. I liked it but wasn't in love. Returned. 

For this box, I specifically requested to not receive anything outside of my comfort zone. These are most definitely outside of that zone. White stars with tears? Definitely not my style. The fit was ok, so it's too bad they weren't a dark wash. Returned.

This flower necklace was cute but it felt very cheap. Like something I'd buy off of Very Jane for $10 but it was $35. Returned. 

This top I loved as soon as I opened the package. This is my color. I have a few tops in this shade but nothing exactly like this.

I love the eyelet. It creates a delicate, sweet look and the side detail is precious. Thanks IG friends (aileenpp) for convincing me to keep it.

Overall, I was impressed that everything in this box fit and most of the items are things that I would consider wearing. I'm now considering getting another box to try.

Have you tried Stitch Fix yet? Here's an invite in case you're intrigued.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Mini Turkey Meatloaves

Sunday night, the Chef and I had a low-key day. I worked the front desk at Pure Barre, and then we each worked out before the Chef served this delicious, comforting, but healthy meal. It reminded us of a healthier version of the meatloaves we used to eat as kids growing up. The potato mash was extremely tasty, and we will definitely serve it alongside other dinner dishes. 

Recipe from EMeals: serves 2 
2 Tbs olive oil, divided 
2 Tbs minced garlic, divided 
28oz organic San Marzano whole tomatoes, undrained
12 oz lean ground turkey 
1/2 cup soft, fresh, whole wheat breadcrumbs or panko 
1 egg yolk
2 Tbs shredded Parmesan cheese 
1 Tbs chopped fresh basil
1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp pepper

Heat 1 Tbs oil in a saucepan over medium heat and add 1 Tbs garlic. Cook 1 minute, chop tomatoes in can with kitchen scissors; add to garlic. Increase heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes or until mixture is reduced by half. Meanwhile, heat remaining oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high. Add garlic and saute 1 minute. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine ground turkey, breadcrumbs, egg yolk, parmesan, bail, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Mix well. Shape mixture into 2 loaves. Place loaves on a rack in a broiler pan, top each with 1/4 cup tomato sauce. Bake 35-40 mins or until done. 

Side dish: 
1/2 lb red-skinned potatoes, cut into 2 inch pieces 
1/4 cul low-sodium chicken broth 
1 Tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp salt, divided 
1/2 tsp pepper, divided 
12 oz bag steam-in-bag green beans 

Place potatoes in a saucepan with water and cover, bring to a boil. Cook 12-14 mins or until tender; drain. Add broth, olive oil, salt and pepper. Mash with a potato masher to desired consistency. 

Cook green beans in a microwave according to package directions. 

Serve and enjoy this delicious meal! 

Linking up with Jessica and Ashley

Father's Day Menu Free for New eMeals Subscribers

Thursday, June 20, 2013

European Vacation: United Kingdom

I haven't meant to hold out my Europe posts from you. Life has just been crazy since we got home from  our trip. I loved every minute of being overseas and would go back in a heart beat. I just love being in a different culture, trying new foods, and seeing amazing historical sites.

We started our vacation by landing late at night in London. I highly recommend finding a flight that flies through the day to Europe because it was great arriving and being able to head straight to bed. (Most flights fly through the night and arrive in the morning and then you're beat starting your trip).

Our first day in the UK we rented a car and drove to our friends Peter and Ada. They live about an hour outside of London. The Chef bravely drove on the the opposite side of the road on their crazy highway, we got lost, turned around on the roundabouts and finally found their house with Peter waiting in the driveway.

Peter and Ada took us on a fabulous tour of their town, and we spent the afternoon doing a pub crawl of their favorite spots. 

Our first stop was the Feathered Nest where we ate lunch. It was a very posh spot with gorgeous views and tasty foods. The Chef had his first fish and chips, and I of course tried it. I honestly could have stayed there all day, but we had more places on our list.

We stopped by the local church that had little stands set up with tea and cakes, and we found the brewery stand.

I'm not a huge fan of beer or ale, but I loved this beer. Unfortunately, the ginger beer that I love they don't export to the US. I savored every last drop. 

After finishing our beers on a green spot outside of the church, we headed for the pubs. It was exactly what the Chef had in mind for the UK, and I think it was his favorite time of our trip. I didn't even attempt to photograph the pubs because it wouldn't have done them justice. They are just so cozy with their low ceilings, fireplaces, and the no-rush attitude of the patrons or the workers.

Our favorites were: The Fleece and The Holly Bush. Let's be honest, the Brits aren't known for their food but every meal we ate there was amazing. The pubs know how to do it right.

We had the best time seeing the British countryside with Peter and Ada. We only wish we had had more time with them in their town. We definitely enjoyed the non-touristy sites and soaking up the true British culture.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Chicken Tostadas

I'm so proud of myself because on Sunday I finally made dinner for the Chef. He is so great about cooking the majority of the meals in the house, so while he caught up on the US Open, I made him dinner. This one is really easy and fairly quick. The longest part is just waiting for the chicken to cook.

Recipe from EMeals: serves 2 with leftovers 
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (we used chicken thighs, cheaper and we were using them for a different recipe later in the week)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp chili powder
2 whole wheat tortillas
2 Tbs chopped cilantro
1 ripe avocado, mashed
2 tsp lime juice
1 cup shredded romaine lettuce
1/2 cup chopped tomato
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/2 cup fresh salsa

Preheat oven to 375. Sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper, cumin, and chili powder, place chicken in baking dish. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until done. Cool and shred chicken. Toast tortillas in oven 2-3 minutes. Combine avocado, cilantro, and lime juice and mash with a fork. Spread avocado over each tortilla. Top with lettuce, tomato, onion, chicken, and salsa.

For a side to this dish, I boiled two ears of corn and sprinkled it with salt and pepper. We also had a side of fruit: fresh pineapple, strawberries, and blueberries with lemon juice and rind.

Linking up with Jessica and Ashley

Monday, June 17, 2013

Weekend Recap: thankful for Aida

We thought our lives would settle down a little bit after our European vacation; however, we're traveling and have our weekends booked to the max for most of the summer. We love being busy, but it sure is exhausting. 

This past weekend, we drove up to DC to visit my brother and SIL and also spend time with the Chef's family. Besides the drive, it was a very relaxing weekend spent with family. After seeing everyone, it makes me miss them even more. 

We got home yesterday afternoon and got ourselves organized for the week: grocery shopping and Jeff got caught up on the US Open with Aida. 

After dinner, Jeff noticed Aida started drooling on her bed (something she never does), he called her over and when she came she could hardly walk, was shaking, and did not have any control of her body. 

It looked to me like a seizure, so we had her lay down with me while Jeff called the emergency vet. After about five minutes, she stopped shaking and seemed fine. We decided to take her to the vet just to be sure. She acted fine going there and freaked out at the vet, which she always does. 

The vet checked her out and said she passed his neuro tests. He said it could have been an isolated event or it could happen again. With his advice we decided not to pursue diagnostic testing unless it happens again. 

Now we're just trying to watch her closely and hope that it doesn't reoccur. I love this sweet dog so much and after having that happen yesterday made me freak out internally about her. Let's just hope she is seizure free from now on! 

What an ending to a weekend right? I'm just thankful she is back to normal.

And I promise I'm working on Europe posts for this week. Sorry, I've made you wait so long.

Linking up with Shami, LeeAnn, and Sarah

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Flank Steak with Tomatoes and Red Onion

This new recipe from EMeals is one of my favorites! J made this meal for one of our favorite Raleigh couples. We love trying new restaurants, but it's really fun having friends over to enjoy a quieter, relaxed night at our apartment. 

This one will definitely impress your guests.
Recipe from EMeals: serves 2
Main dish: 
3/4 lb flank steak 
1 Tbs olive oil, divided
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp red wine vinegar

Thinly slice the steak diagonally across into 1 1/2 inch strips. Heat 2 tsp oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook steak in 2 batches, 5 minutes or so to degree of doneness. Remove to platter. Heat remaining 1tsp oil in pain over medium-high and add tomatoes, onion, and garlic, cook for 4 minutes or onion is tender. Return beef to skillet and add soy sauce and vinegar. Cook for 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. 

Side Dish: 
12 oz cauliflower florets (4 cups)
1 oz goat cheese 
2 Tbs plain low-fat Greek yogurt
1 Tbs chopped fresh chives 

Arrange cauliflower in a steamer basket over boiling water. Steam for 12minutes or until tender. Cool 10mins. Transfer to food processor, add cheese, yogurt, cover and process until smooth, season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with chives and top with steak and veggies. 

The chef also cooked asparagus as a side. 
The sauce for this was a red wine reduction drizzled over the top of everything. 

I love sharing meals with friends, and I love that Allison and Jarod always bring a few bottles of wine and delicious dessert. This time Allison brought ice cream cake because we both had May birthdays and were apart for the actual days. I love this sweet friend! 
Linking up with Jessica and Ashley

Thursday, June 6, 2013

One Carry-On. Two Weeks.

Our two weeks in Europe flew by. I cannot believe we're already home and settling back into daily routines, work, and life. I posted this the day that we left and had lots of questions about how I managed to fit everything into a carry-on. 

When the Chef asked if we could pack in carry-ons, I laughed. I'm the biggest over-packer for trips. Believe me, I didn't think it was possible, but I decided to try especially since we were planning on taking multiple flights, using public transportation, and a few cross country trains.

I did my research and found rave reviews about these packing cubes. I decided it couldn't hurt to purchase them and try using them on this trip. These were the best purchase! It helped me not only pack for the trip but stay organized throughout Europe. Usually, I get to a hotel, open my suitcase and a minute later it looks like a bomb has gone off with clothes everywhere.

I highly recommend them and will be using these for any future trips, even if it's just a weekend to visit family.

I packed my larger items: skirts, dresses, pants, and sweaters in the largest cube.

Short-sleeved shirts and other tops in the medium cube.

The unmentionables in the smallest cube. I did also pack a small Vera Bradley laundry bag for dirty items.

The best part about the cubes was I knew how they fit best in my bag and rearranged them every time the same when we had to repack. It made repacking so much easier.

You're probably also wondering what exactly did I pack to wear for two weeks. I packed a variety of items. Now we had been checking the weather constantly for the cities and planned on it being 50-70 degrees. Unfortunately, it ended up being more like 40-60s, so I could have packed more warmer weather clothes, but I learned for next time.

  • I packed three pairs of pants and a pair of yoga pants for traveling. 
  • Two skirts and two dresses (one was nicer for seeing Wicked).
  • Two scarves (would pack more next time). 
  • Six light/medium weight long-sleeved shirts. Three camis, three sleeve-less tops, and four sweaters. 
  • Four necklaces, a couple of rings, three pairs of earrings, and a watch.
  • One pair of Toms, wedges, and Jack Rogers. Next time I would definitely pack a second pair of flats an skip the Jack Rogers. I had planned on wearing my wedges for dinners, but it ended up being a lot colder than expected, so I only wore them once. 
  • Another key item was my noise machine that ran on batteries. I'm a terrible sleeper, so having my own noise machine helped me fall asleep every night. 
  • One light coat that I wore on the plane and ended up wearing every day. 

I also bought travel items of everything that I could find and transferred items I couldn't find into small travel containers. We also packed a Vera Bradley duffle bag into the Chef's suitcase so that we would have room for gifts or souvenirs on the way home.

And you might be wondering, did I do laundry or re-wear items? We didn't do laundry, and yes, I did re-wear items. Since it was a lot colder than we anticipated, I had to re-wear my pants more than I wanted to but it actually wasn't that bad. I brought tops and bottoms that could be worn together easily in order to mix and match.

Every time I thought about wishing for more items, I remembered how much easier and more convenient it was not to haul around a gigantic suitcase. I would definitely recommend packing in a carry-on!

I'll be sharing our travels: the food, the cities, the travel, how to prepare before getting to the destination, the whole experience with you soon, so please keep checking back. And then I'll also tell you where we're thinking about going next! I definitely have the travel bug.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

European Eats

We're back!!! Thank you so much to all of the fabulous guest bloggers who were so sweet to write on this space while we were gone.

This Taste of Tuesday I thought I would share with you a few of the amazing eats from Europe.

Feast your eyes on this delicious food.

Our first cafe stop in London, I recharged with a chocolate croissant and a milk coffee.

In Salzburg, we had the best breakfast at Fingerloss Cafe complete with eggs, meats, cheeses, musli, and breads. Unreal. I wish I could find something even close to this impressive in Raleigh.

Thanks to Mallory for introducing me to macaroons in Savannah, I searched for them every time we passed bakeries and pastry shops in Paris. I am now obsessed with macaroons.

Our first night in Vienna, we had dinner at the famous schnitzel house: Figlmuller. Schnitzel, Austrian potato salad, and wine; I was in heaven.

Purstner was a recommendation near our hotel in Vienna. The Chef was expecting a rack of short ribs and was pleasantly surprised with this platter of ribs and fresh cut potatoes. The atmosphere at this Gasthaus was unbelievable; I'll share a few snapshots later, but it won't do it justice. It was the perfect local, yet extremely unique Austrian spot.

I stuffed myself with this delicious extra large krapfen. A krapfen is a type of donut with apricot filling and lots of powdered sugar. Eating this took me back to my childhood when my mom would surprise us with these on the weekends.

A very traditional destination in Vienna is Sacher Hotel with the famous original Sacher cake.

We paired this birthday treat with delicious coffee. I love the presentation of coffee in Vienna. It's extremely strong compared to US coffee but not at all bitter like it is here. I also love that they serve a glass of water with it.

We tried the local hot potato salad and Kasekrainer (spicy sausage stuffed with cheese) outside of a little market set-up near St. Stephan's Cathedral.

After a wet day in Paris, we found a crepe stand near Notre Dame. Needless to say I had to try the nutella crepe. It was divine.

For our last night in Paris, a friend recommended Le Souffle which happened to be on the same street as our hotel so we tried it. The real French soup was fabulous.

My beef bourguignon souffle was the most interesting and tasty last Parisian dinner.

Hope you've enjoyed seeing a few of our amazing eats. I want to go back just to eat!

Happy Taste of Tuesday!

Linking up with Jessica and Ashley