Friday, August 30, 2013

high five for friday

What a great week this has been! I worked one night shift and two nights at Pure Barre with a lot of relaxing in between. 

1. My favorite relaxing afternoon was spent at the Umstead Spa. For Christmas, the Chef gave me a gift card, and I kept waiting for the perfect time to go. I read online that spa guests can use the pool Monday -Thursday, so I decided to take advantage of a gorgeous afternoon. I loved the vanilla blood orange margarita poolside before my luxurious European facial. Everything was incredible: the facial, the pool, the staff, just the entire experience. I highly recommend it to anyone. I would definitely go back...

 2. After a dentist appointment this week, I stopped by Home Goods and found a few good buys. I bought one of these massive baskets for our bedroom. I think it would be great to put our pillows in one spot off of the floor and away from dog hair.

3. This week for work, I made tomato, mozzarella, and basil salad. I forgot how much I love it. It's also nice having a baby basil plant for fresh herbs.

3. On the way home from Birmingham, we stopped at Jim 'N Nick's at the airport an they were selling their cheese biscuit mix. Their biscuits are to die for, so I couldn't resist bringing them home.

5. And lastly, the Chef has made some really delicious meals this week. My favorite might have been the mashed potatoes, steak, and green beans. I'll share it next week for Taste of Tuesday.

I hope you have fun plans this weekend for Labor Day. Enjoy it for me since I'll be at the hospital. Or you could always stop by your local hospital and bring staff treats...just an idea.

Happy weekend!

Linking up with Lauren and Lindsey

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

back in Birmingham

Last Wednesday, I flew to Birmingham, home of my alma mater, for my friend Emily's wedding. I decided to leave a couple of days early, so I could enjoy being back in Birmingham and spending time with some of my Samford besties

Mallory picked me up from the airport, and I was starving so we headed to lunch at O'Carr's. It's seriously the best chic lunch spot. They have the best chicken salad I've ever tasted with crackers and fruit. I ate this whole plate. If you ever go, you have to order the chicken salad.

After our tasty meal, we recharged with a cup of coffee at O'Henry's Coffee. I absolutely love that place and wish there was one in Raleigh. Then we jumped in Mallory's massive car and headed to T-town to see Amy, who just started law school.

We saw her beautiful apartment, chatted, and headed to dinner at a cute Italian spot: DePalma's where we shared a bottle of wine and pastas.

Afterwards, Amy and Mallory introduced me to my now favorite dessert place: Steel City Pops. Popsicles really? Yes, they are the most amazing dessert. I got the coconut (on this stop), and it was creamy, had coconut flakes, and was so good I almost bought a second one for the ride home. 

I can't believe it was eight years ago this weekend that we all moved into Samford to start our freshman year of college. Time has flown by, and I'm so thankful to have these girls as my best friends for so many years. It's always so much fun being back in Birmingham and seeing them.

Linking up with Jessica, AshleyChelsea, and Ashley

Monday, August 26, 2013

a find I want

We're back from a fabulous weekend in Birmingham. I loved spending time with my two besties and getting to see another sweet friend marry the man of her dreams. She held out and found the perfect match for her. I'm starting a few posts about the weekend and her gorgeous wedding! They will be coming this week, I promise. 

While I was catching up on my blog reading this morning, I saw this sign and have been gushing over it. I would love it for Christmas, but I'd really love it with a different quote to hang year round. 

Does anyone know of an Etsy shop or somewhere else where I could have a custom sign made like this one? I'm dying to have someone make one for me and for less than $100, please and thank you. 

Linking up with Shami and LeeAnn

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Coffee- Marinated Chicken with Blueberry Sauce

This week, the Chef made a deliciously healthy meal. Coffee marinated chicken with blueberry sauce and a side of fresh snap peas. I loved taking it as left overs to work this week. The flavor of the blueberry sauce was amazing, and we'll definitely be keeping this recipe for further suppers. 

Ingredients: (from eMeals) serves 2
1 Tbs olive oil
2 tsp honey, divided
1 1/4 tsp smoked paprika, divided
1 tsp instant coffee (decaf)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 Tbs balsamic vinegar

Whisk together 1 Tbs water, olive oil, 1 tsp honey, 1 tsp paprika, coffee powder, 1/4 tsp salt and pepper in a small bowl; rub over chicken. Marinate chicken in refrigerator 30min-2hrs.

Grill or cook chicken on stove top: medium-high heat for 5-6mins per side or until done. Meanwhile combine blueberries, vinegar, honey, paprika, salt in a saucepan and cook over medium heat for 6-8mins. Serve blueberry sauce over chicken.

1 Tbs olive oil
8 oz package steam-in-bag snow peas
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbs sliced almonds toasted
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Heat olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat: add snow peas and garlic; saute 5mins or until tender. Stir in almonds lemon juice salt and pepper, tossing to coat.

Linking up with Jessica, Ashley, and Chelsea

Are you wondering what eMeals is? It's a company that offers a wide variety of meal plans that you can choose from and once you've chosen they send you 7 meals recipes including the grocery list. We absolutely love eMeals because it's decreased our grocery bill, time spend searching Pinterest for dinner ideas, and helped us eat healthier. I highly recommend checking them out.

I was compensated for this post in the form of a subscription; however, all of the ideas and thoughts are my own. The Chef and I love this company and their meal plans. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

living for the weekend

We had another fabulous and fun weekend at home. After a rough week at work, I got up early in the afternoon for a hair appointment with my amazing hair stylist. 

...and after three years of highlighting my hair, I wanted a bigger change. We talked about it, and Tracy suggested going ombre. I went for it! It's definitely more noticeable in person, and I really love the change. She is the best! Plus, she's hilarious, and I love spending the afternoon sipping on a glass of wine at the salon. 
Friday night for dinner, we met our friends Allison and Jarod at City Kitchen. The company was amazing as always, and it was so much fun seeing them before they left for St. Lucia on their honeymoon. We had been to City Kitchen before and enjoyed it for brunch, and I think if we go back we'll do that again. The service was slow and the dinner food wasn't quite as good as the breakfast. 

Saturday ended up being a very lazy, rainy day; we slept in, ran a few errands, and cleaned. We also stopped by Woof Gang Bakery and next time I'll have to take Aida. They had the cutest treats, and we got a few small ones for her. She goes absolutely crazy over them.

I'd also really like to take her to get professionally groomed. But we might just have to settle for getting her nails clipped there (for now).

Saturday night, we tried J. Betski's, a German/Polish restaurant. I'm always looking for good European food, especially schnitzel. Eating schnitzel here wasn't the same as being in home in Vienna, but it was a pretty good option. We loved the German bread, and the chocolate-hazelnut torte was incredible. We would definitely go back with my family.
Sunday morning, we headed to a different Summit Church location and really loved it. I hope that this fall we can find a small group that is nearby and that we can attend fairly regularly, despite our crazy schedules.

And right before I went to Pure Barre to work, the sun finally came out. I'm already wishing I could skip work and lay by the pool today.

At least it's going to be a short week before getting ready for Emily's wedding. She was my roommate for two years in college, and I cannot wait to see her become a Mrs. on Saturday!

Happy Monday!
Linking up with Shami and LeeAnn

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

a little weekend on Wednesday

So it's Wednesday, and I'm just getting around to what we did last weekend. Can I blame it on the fact that I've been working nights, and if it weren't for the Chef having a normal job, I'd never know what day it really was? 

Friday night, our neighbors (from our last apartment) came to have dinner, drinks, and to see our apartment. We met them at Yard House which was as good as always. I can't seem to get enough of the Hawaiian mule drink. It was so much fun getting to see them, hearing about Scott and Julie's upcoming wedding, and just catch up. 

We also stopped by World of Beer which had a live band, great beer for the beer drinkers as well as ciders. 

We think they liked our apartment...but Kyle really loved the lobby with the free mints. 

Saturday morning, the Chef went to the gym while I laid out at the pool before a rowdy five kid family showed up. Let's just say, the Chef and I will never have five kids and especially not all under 10 years old. It was crazy! 

He got back, and we headed to the Farmer's Market. It was smaller than the Durham one, but I loved the vendors, especially the cheese stand. We'll definitely be seeing him again soon. 

After a cheese snack, I headed over to take a Pure Barre intensive class. I've never taken one before and loved that this quarter it was a outer thigh intensive. I definitely need it, and wish they offered it more often. 
photo from PureBarreRTP's IG
After PB, we relaxed a little bit before church at the Summit. I loved going on Saturdays and then having date night afterwards. We haven't done this together in a few weeks, and it's always one of my favorite times of the week.

We chose Gravy this week based on a friend's recommendation, and it was phenomenal. A lot of times when we go out, if it's just the two of us, we like to sit at the bar. It can be more private with sitting right next to each other. And I think I like it because it reminds me of when we were first married and used to go out and get drinks and appetizers together (we never wanted liked waiting for a table in DC).

At Gravy, we split a bottle of wine, the salami board, and the chicken cannelloni. Everything was delicious and the bartenders were fabulous.

Afterwards, I indulged in the banana pudding ice cream with a waffle cone at Pop-up Ice Cream Parlour. 

And before I knew the weekend was rudely ended by having to work Sunday night shift. Oh well, we otherwise had another great Raleigh weekend. 

Linking up with Shami and LeeAnn

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Teriyaki Skirt Steak with Pineapple Relish

This past weekend, the Chef made two delicious eMeals meals for us to enjoy during the week. It's always a treat that he cooks fabulous meals so that I eat incredibly well during the work week. 

I enjoyed both recipes, but the skirt steak with pineapple and snap peas was so fresh and interesting. It was pretty easy to make, so it would be a great option to try this week! 

Ingredients: (from eMeals) serves 2 + leftovers
2 Tbs pineapple juice
1/2 cup low sodium-soy sauce
2 Tbs honey
1 Tbs grated fresh ginger
2 Tbs rice vinegar
1/2 lb skirt steak
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3/4 chopped pineapple
1 green onion chopped
1 small jalapeno, minced

Combine pineapple juice, soy sauce, honey, ginger, vinegar, and oil in a large zip-lock bag; add steak. Seal and refrigerate 30 mins - 2 hrs.

Preheat grill (or heat stove top skillet) to medium-high. Remove steak from marinade, reserving marinade and sprinkle steak with salt and pepper. Boil marinade in a medium saucepan for 5 mins or until thickened. Grill or cook steak for 4 mins per side or until done.

Combine pineapple, onion, and jalapeno in a small bowl and serve with steak.

Side dish ingredients:
12 oz package steam-in-bag sugar snap peas
1 Tbs butter
1/2 tsp grated orange rind
1 Tbs fresh orange juice
1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper

Microwave peas according to package directions and then transfer to a bowl. Stir in above ingredients and toss to coat.

Linking up with Jessica, Ashley, and Chelsea

Are you wondering what eMeals is? It's a company that offers a wide variety of meal plans that you can choose from and once you've chosen they send you 7 meals recipes including the grocery list. We absolutely love eMeals because it's decreased our grocery bill, time spend searching Pinterest for dinner ideas, and helped us eat healthier. I highly recommend checking them out.

I was compensated for this post in the form of a subscription; however, all of the ideas and thoughts are my own. The Chef and I love this company and their meal plans. 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

five for Friday...on Saturday

This week flew by with two day shifts before a three day "weekend" of fun with friends. While I love fall, I'm slightly dreading it because I absolutely love summer. I love the sunshine, heat, and the cute clothes you can wear: shorts, dresses, and skirts.

1. Aida and I enjoyed a long morning walk during the week checking out houses in our neighborhood. After our walk, Aida came home and collapsed for her morning nap. 

2. This Thursday was my first time going to the Beach Music in Raleigh. I didn't know what to expect but really loved the live music and everyone enjoying a good time. Too bad last week is the last one of the summer. If you're in the area, you should go! 

3. I went with my friends, Kari and Kevin; they are such a fun couple. We loved watching the band for a while before we headed to dinner at Firebirds across the street. I highly recommend the Grilled Tenderloin Salad. 

4. I got my friend, Emily's wedding invitation in the mail. She did calligraphy for her invitations and had them printed. They are insanely gorgeous! I almost didn't send back the RSVP card because they are so beautiful. 

5. Every off day, I've been trying to hit the pool. I can't seem to get enough of the sunshine and relaxation these days. 

Linking up with Lauren and Lindsey

Thursday, August 8, 2013

my favorite

Aida is one of the sweetest dogs ever, and I'm not just being biased. I absolutely love having my furry friend around; she just brings so much joy to my life. One of her favorite things is hearing or seeing a firetruck or ambulance. We saw one the other day on a morning walk...

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

pork and peanut lettuce wraps

This may be one of my favorite EMeals dinners so far. It's especially good before heading into a long night shift. It seems a little involved, but it's just slow cooking the pork that takes time, but I promise it's worth it.

Ingredients: (from EMealsserves 2 with left overs
1/2 lb boneless pork loin roast
1/4 tsp Italian seasoning
1/8 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp pepper
1/2 Tbs olive oil
1/2 small onion sliced
1 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 cup orange juice
1/8 cup reduced sodium chicken broth
1/2 Tbs balsamic vinegar

Cut pork roast in half crosswise, rub with Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over med/high heat and brown pork on all sides. Place pork in a 3-4 quart slow cooker; add onion and garlic to hot pan. Saute 4 mins or until tender; spoon over pork. Add juice, broth, and vinegar to pan, scraping to loosen browned bits, pour over pork. Cover and cook on low for 7-8hrs or until tender. Remove and shred for wraps.

Ingredients for wraps:
1 cup shredded carrots
2 Tbs rice wine vinegar, divided
Shredded pork
2 Tbs orange juice
2 Tbs low sodium soy sauce, divided
2 Tbs natural peanut butter
1 1/2 tsp chile paste with garlic
1 small head butter lettuce, separated into leaves
1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts

Combine carrots and 1 Tbs vinegar into a small bowl and chill for 30 minutes. Combine pork, orange juice, and 1 Tbs soy sauce in a large skillet, cook over medium heat 5 mins or until warm. Stir together 2 Tbs water, vinegar, soy sauce, peanut butter, and chile paste. Spoon pork into lettuce cups, top with carrots, peanuts, and drizzle with sauce.

They are a little messy to eat because the sauce is runny, but the vinegar in the carrots and the crunch of the peanuts are so tasty. Enjoy!
Linking up with Jessica and Ashley

Monday, August 5, 2013

family weekend

I have been living for the weekends (that I don't work) lately. We've been having so much fun with family and friends this summer. This past weekend was no different; my brother and SIL came to Raleigh for the first time, and we loved having them here. I cannot wait for them to come back!

1. We tried Pop-up Ice Cream in downtown Raleigh, and the peanut butter chocolate ice cream was unbelievably delicious. I highly recommend you stopping by if you're in the area.

2. We took them to Sitti Saturday night for a Lebanese dinner. My SIL got the Sitti tasting that looked amazing which I'll probably get next time. The Kafta Kabob was delicious as well.

3. After a weekend of stuffing ourselves, I finally convinced myself I had to hit up the gym. And then I felt much better. Like I always do afterwards.

4. We couldn't pass up taking my brother and SIL to Cowfish. I love going to dinner with them because they love to try anything. We got a tasting of everything at Cowfish this time: sliders, sushi, and burgushi.

5. Saturday afternoon, our apartment had a pool party: complete with a DJ, prizes, and food. It was fun, and I hope we meet more neighbors like we did at our last apartment.

Linking up with Shami and LeeAnn