1/31/2014

FRESH FLOWERS + LINKS...


Well my friends, it's been quite a week here in Atlanta, so flowers were in order... I've been snowed/iced in since Tuesday and it's been bittersweet. Whether you live here or not, you have probably heard the terrible stories about what roughly two inches of snow did to the city. Atlanta never gets that much snow, so it's quite an ordeal when it does snow. The snow started around noon on Tuesday. I decided to stay home that morning, which was the BEST decision. Around noon was when everyone got on the roads to pick up their kids from school or head home from work. But by then it was too late and the volume was too much. Kids got stuck at school and people were stranded on the icy roads for hours, like 18 or 19 hours. Lack of preparation on the city's part made things quite difficult. But out of all of that, there are so many great stories of compassion. You can read about some of them here. People really came together to help those in need and it was heart-warming to hear those stories in the midst of the chaos. I couldn't leave home, so I baked fresh bread for a neighbor who finally made it home after having to spend Tuesday night in a grocery store. That's the least I could do...

So cheers to a warmer, less chaotic weekend. I say that literally as I sip on a glass of wine while writing this post... :) Enjoy the links!

The Super Bowl hasn't even come on yet and I've already chosen my favorite commercial. Done. I've watched the pre-released commercial at LEAST 20 times...

And in case you need a snack for the Super Bowl...

Even though I never left home this week, I still wore my new perfume every day. Smells divine.

If you follow lots of fashion blogs, then you probably already follow this new-to-me blog. I adore her chic, yet classic style...

This is such a neat app and worth the price, too...

Apparently I need to stand up more...

A fantastic and insightful post on the past, present and most importantly, the future state of blogs. Eye opening and thought-provoking.

Mac and cheese - made on a cookie sheet. Delish...

Truth...

Image: Ashley Whittaker Design

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1/30/2014

RESTAURANT INTERIORS: NO. 246 BY SMITH HANES

When I was younger, I had this assumption that the restaurants that served the best food were the ones that were extra upscale and dark. All of the tables had a candle or two and you had to dress up to match the ritzy ambiance. Well today, my thoughts are just the opposite. My idea of a good restaurant is one that has really good food (obviously), but is comfortable and has a beautiful ambience of character and charm. I have to say that this restaurant, No. 246, is the perfect example. It was designed by Atlanta designer Smith Hanes and is located in Decatur, GA. The distressed hardwood floors, the lighting (yes!), the artwork, and the simple styling all come together and create a welcoming environment - one that would make you assume the food is fantastic before you even taste it. That very point is what good restaurant design is about and I think Smith nailed it here...  

P.S. His wife is just as talented as he is. She owns Bella Cucina Porta Via, a specialty food store here in Atlanta that I had the pleasure of photographing last year. You can see it here... 


Images by Andrew Thomas Lee
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1/28/2014

AVOCADO HUMMUS DIP WITH CRISPY SEA SALT PITA CHIPS

Yep. I've got another healthy yet really good recipe for you today. My last two personal recipes have been healthy, but I promise you that I'll throw a stick of butter or some chocolate in the mix soon! Every January, I really focus hard on healthy eating and do a detox of sorts to rid myself of all of the sinfully delicious unhealthy food I ate between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I am a month in my process and I feel so incredibly good. I've only had two small migraines this month (that is a record), I have slept good (minus that week Max was sick) and I have more energy. That's what a consistent lack of processed foods and sugar does for me. Good stuff. 

So today, I'm sharing a quick and easy recipe that is good for everything from an afternoon snack to an appetizer to a Super Bowl party. It's an avocado hummus that is a mix of guacamole and a healthy version of hummus - two of my most favorite foods. I found a version of this recipe in Giada de Laurentiis's new cookbook, "Giada's Feel Good Food," which I highly recommend if you need some new easy, tasty and healthy recipes. Anyway, dips like this need to be paired with something extra crunchy, so I made homemade pita chips flavored with really good, flaky sea salt. The creamy dip paired with the super crunchy salty pita chips - a mix made in heaven... 


Here is what you need and what to do:

Pita Chips

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 whole wheat or regular (or both) pita breads, cut in half
Flaky sea salt (I used Maldon Salt)

Hummus

1 large ripe avocado, coarsely chopped
1/2 packed cup arugula
1 15 oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/3 packed cup cilantro
1/3 packed cup fresh flat-leaf parsley
Juice of one lemon
Juice of half a lime
1 garlic clove, smashed
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
A few dashes of hot sauce or cayenne pepper, optional

To make the pita chips, position an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Using a pastry brush, brush both sides of the pita halves with the olive oil. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Cut each half into 8 wedges and place them on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for about 15 - 18 minutes or until they are crisp and browned.

To make the hummus, place the avocado, arugula, beans, cilantro, lemon juice, lime juice, garlic, chili powder, salt and pepper into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse the processor until the mixture is coarsely chopped. With the food processor on, slowly stream the olive oil into the processor and process until the mixture is creamy. Taste for seasonings, add the hot sauce or cayenne pepper and more salt and pepper if needed. Pulse the machine a few times to incorporate any additional seasonings.

Add the mixture to a serving bowl. Serve the pita chips on the side. Enjoy!

Images by me


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1/27/2014

WEEKEND IN WASHINGTON, D.C...

{Loved the architecture of that building! }

I hope you had a great weekend! As promised, here are my pics from my trip to D.C. that I took a few weekends ago. I think that if something unexpected came up and I was forced to move to one of three cities, D.C. might just be at the top of my list. I love the architecture, the history, the shopping (GREAT shopping) and its focus on health. There are amazing walking, running and bike trails everywhere. The food is also amazing. I had the best and freshest crab cakes of my life at this restaurant during my visit. I've been to D.C. many times and I still have yet to go to all of the places I want to go. On this visit, we covered Fords Theater and the Martin Luther King, Jr., Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials. We would have seen more had it not been FREEZING! But my time with my dad was priceless and I can't wait to go back... 

{Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. Definitely one of my favorite museums... }

{Loved the details on that church...}

{World War I Memorial... }

{Lincoln Memorial)

{The view from the Lincoln Memorial. That crane you see on the left is constructing the new African American Museum that will open in 2015. Very excited about that... }

{Beautiful architecture at the Lincoln Memorial...}


{The view from the Jefferson Memorial. That little white building in between the trees would be The White House...}
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1/24/2014

LOVELY LILY + LINKS...


How pretty are those?? So simple and so gorgeous. Simple flowers happened to be on my list of 23 simple joys that I made this week and I'll be buying some this weekend. I need a bit of a lift after this really busy and cold week! What are your weekend plans?? I plan to have a slow Saturday morning complete with my latest read and oatmeal in bed - a bed that has become a sea of blankets. I'll be behind the camera photographing some upcoming recipes for the blog and attending a much needed Pilates class. All good things - nothing stressful. Just what I need. :) Have a great weekend my friends and enjoy the links!

Stovetop lasagna... made in a skillet.

Are you happy??

Kids say the darndest and cutest things. Proof is here and here.

Vitamins have always been questionable to me, but this insightful article addressed a few of my thoughts...

49 absolutely gorgeous gowns (see the slideshow)...

On finding balance in an unbalanced workplace... Loved this.

Amazing and inspirational...

This makes me excited about summer...

My favorite Instagram find this week. Eating whole never looked better...

Image via
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1/23/2014

THE LIST OF TEN...


I had a completely different post planned for today, but I had to reroute my thoughts when I ran across this article on Darling Magazine's website earlier this week. Do you read that site or their magazine?? If not, I HIGHLY recommend it. The site and the magazine both include beautifully written and thought-provoking articles centered around some of the most important issues that women face today.

One of those issues is being focused on the present and appreciating things that are happening right this minute. Life moves so incredibly fast that is is so easy to overlook those really, really super simple things or moments that cause pure joy. Forgetting to stop and acknowledge the great small moments makes life's more difficult moments harder to handle. That is what "The List of Ten" is all about. It's a list of ten simply joys that happen in the present moment that can easily be overlooked by life's busier moments. This was such a fun exercise for me. Once I got going, I ended up with a list of 23 things. Making the list instantly created a greater sense of appreciation for the small things, made me feel happier, and created a deeper understanding of what it means to live in the moment. 

I encourage you to try it out! If you try it, simply write down the first things that come to your mind. If you think too hard, your mind will start going in all sorts of crazy directions. Trust me. :)

Would you mind sharing some of your simple joys with me??  I'd love to see what they are!

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1/21/2014

A PINTEREST FOOD BOARD TO FOLLOW: CAROLINA

I probably get about 90% of my food photography and food styling ideas from Pinterest. I turn to it to get ideas from what to make to how to fold and style a napkin for a shoot of something I've made. I follow lots of different people who pin really gorgeous and good looking food. But I have to say that one of my favorite food boards at the moment is this "t-a-s-t-e" board by Carolina. I have no idea who she is or what she does. All I know is that she lives in Barcelona, Spain and that she has the most beautifully curated food board. All of her pins have a neutral background that makes the food stand out so perfectly. I pin just about everything she pins and often find some fabulous food blogs in the process. I'm inspired by her eye for food photography and good-looking food, so I thought I would share. I find her other Pinterest boards to be just as beautiful... 




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1/20/2014

ONLY LOVE CAN DO THAT...

Happy Monday my friends... The past week was quite a whirlwind, which explains my absence on Friday. My kid (aka cat) got another bout of cystitis, which means I didn't get any sleep for about four days straight. On day five, I had a meeting for work in D.C. that I had been preparing for all week. Thankfully after all of that, I got to spend a fun few days in D.C. with my dad. It was so fun to spend quality time with him! D.C is one of my favorite cities, which means I took a few hundred pics as we explored the city during the blistering cold, yet beautiful day on Saturday. I'll share some of them with you later. In honor of today, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I wanted to share a few pics from my visit to the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. 

I visited this memorial for the first time on Saturday and I have to say that it is one of my favorites. It is beautifully designed and pays a really wonderful tribute to MLK. The outer area of the memorial is a sphere-shaped wall that is engraved with some of his most famous quotes. I had a very warm and hopeful feeling as I walked along the wall reading the quotes. The centerpiece and the most breathtaking part of the memorial is "The Stone of Hope," a 30 ft statute of MLK made of 159 blocks of granite. The text on the side of the stone are words from his infamous "I Have A Dream" speech. "Out of a mountain of despair, a stone of hope." - invaluable words then that can be applied to so many situations in today's world. 

Below are some of my favorite quotes from the wall that I mentioned earlier. I hope they inspire you on this day of remembrance as much as they have and always will inspire me...



All images by me
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1/16/2014

LOVELY LIVING IN LONDON...

Have you ever been to London? I've never been, but I put it on my bucket list about three years ago. Still not there yet... When I think of London, I think of what it would be like to stroll the streets, take in the museums, eat delicious food with the locals, and be surrounded by lots of people who have English accents. I could listen to a person with an English accent talk for hours. 

This amazing home in Wimbledon, London brought all of those thoughts to the forefront. I love this home because it has the perfect mix of modern, traditional, and country elements. I love the antiques, the little pops of color, the lighting (LOVE the lighting) and that green velvet comfortable chair in that bedroom. I could read it in for a few hours at a minimum. The piece of storage under that sink in the bathroom that hides the plumbing - genius. And that shower - dreamy. And the fact that this beauty reminded me to meet my goal of traveling to London - thankful. 




First seen on Dustjacket Attic
Designed by Leivars
Images via
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1/14/2014

RED RISER JUICE

Isn't the color of that all-natural, super good-for-you juice lovely??? No really. Take five minutes and just take in that color please... Isn't it pretty?

Yes. I'm stalling.

I'm stalling because I don't want to tell you what's in that juice. But I'm going to tell you anyway because your taste buds and your body will be missing out on something that is so surprisingly good and good for you. Friends, the color of that juice is from... beets. Yep. Beets. Beets get such a bad wrap and I've definitely contributed to that. Beets are the one vegetable that I don't really like. When I think of beets, I think of the bitter canned beets my mom used to try to get me to eat when I was a kid. YUCK.

But recently a certain juice changed my thoughts on beets a bit... A few months ago, I was in Whole Foods to get my usual juice, a Green Lemonade. But I was struck by the color of another juice they had called, "Mommy Boost." I wanted to try it until I read the sign that said the juice had beets in it. But the guy behind the counter convinced me to try it and I loved it! Could I taste the beets?? Yes. BUT, the beets combined with the other fruits and vegetables in the juice perfectly complimented the beets and made them taste so much better.

I ordered the "Mommy Boost" that day and over the holidays I recreated it at home with a few minor adjustments. But before I give you the recipe, I want to tell you one important thing. If you don't have a juicer, you are in luck! I made this using my Vitamix and a fine mesh strainer and it turned out great! So a decent blender is all you really need.

Here is what you need and what to do:
(Makes 1 serving)

1 Granny Smith apple, cored
1 medium carrot, peeled
1 medium beet, peeled
1 orange, peeled
1 lemon, peeled (a lime works here, too)
4 mint leaves
1/2 cup bottled or filtered water (only if using a blender)
ice

If you are using a juicer, simply pass the ingredients through the juicer.

If you are using a blender, chop the apple, lemon and vegetables to help out the blender. Add all of the ingredients except the ice in the order listed. Blend until smooth. Place a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl. Pour the mixture into the strainer. Wait about 5 minutes or so for the juice to strain.

Pour the juice over ice and enjoy!

Image by me

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1/13/2014

MY SUNDAY TIMES...

Hi friends... I hope you had a wonderful weekend! I'm incredibly thankful for my weekend. It was one of those weekends where I was able to fit a lot of fun things in and get enough rest for this week. Love weekends like that... On Saturday, I ate an insane amount of Mexican food with a friend followed by a movie. We saw "August: Osage County." My quick review: INSANELY GOOD! Meryl Streep was simply amazing - as usual. If someone would have reminded me during the movie that she was acting, I wouldn't have believed them. So good...

So about Sunday... One of the things I love about blogging is that it encourages me to explore. To get out. To see what's out there. I am a homebody at heart, but blogging encourages me to be creative and think outside the box a little. I think that's a good thing. So on Sunday I took a visit to SkyView Atlanta - a 20 story ferris wheel adjacent from Centennial Olympic Park. I'm not a huge fan of ferris wheels or heights, but this was is a high-class ferris wheel complete with heated gondolas - not raggedy metal seats with metal bar draped across your lap that you swear you could slip under. It moved smoothly over the Atlanta skyline and the views were beautiful. A friend and I capped off our little venture with a walk around the park and a heavenly fresh funnel cake - something I haven't had in years. YUM! It was the perfect afternoon and the perfect way to end the weekend... 

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