Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Whirlwind Wednesday

It's that time of year again...when I go into the blogging abyss and don't resurface for eight months! But rest assured, loyal readers, I absolutely plan to return to this little page in less than a week, after our big children's hospital benefit is over and I've had a few moments to rest and collect myself.  For anyone who works in events, you know that keeping a level head in times of stress is sometimes all you can do. So here's to deep breaths, positive energy, happy donors, and healthy kids. 

(Words to live by)
I hope you're all having wonderful last weeks of May and it's feeling like summer all over the place. See you soon!


Friday, May 24, 2013

Spring Vegetable and Shrimp Pasta with Lemon Sauce

Is the weather heating up where you live? When it gets warmer, I lean towards light, flavorful, veggie filled dishes that are easy to throw together and enjoy. This is the perfect pasta for a weekend feast with friends, or a more intimate dinner as it keeps very well for leftovers. Best of all, it has all of the ingredients you need in one meal - simple and effective cooking that happens to be delicious.

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Recipe, adapted from Cooking Light:
(Serves 4-6)

2 tablespoons olive oil
sweet onion, chopped
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 teaspoon thyme
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon flour or corn starch
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup nonfat milk
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/8 cup fresh lemon juice
1 pound asparagus, diagonally cut in one inch pieces
2-3 yellow squash, sliced
3 cups pasta, cooked
16 ounces of shrimp (I used 41-50 per pound white shrimp, so about 10 shrimp is a 4 ounce serving), shells and tails removed

Salt and pepper to taste
2-3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese for garnish

Heat one tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and mushroom and cook until soft.
Mix in thyme and garlic and saute for one minute. 
Mix corn starch with two tablespoons of cold water and pour over mushroom mixture. Stir to combine. Add white wine and cook at a low boil until half of the liquid has evaporated. Stir in 1/2 cup chicken broth and milk and cook until slightly thickened.
Add peas, rind, and juice. Season with salt and pepper and stir to combine. Reduce heat to low and continue heating.
In a second large skillet, heat remaining oil over medium. Add asparagus, squash, and remaining chicken broth. Cover and steam for 5 minutes or until completely cooked and softened. Move vegetables to the mushroom mixture. Add shrimp to remaining broth and cook until pink throughout.
Toss cooked pasta with vegetable and lemon sauce. Serve with 8-10 shrimp and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

Have a great weekend!


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Wedding Wednesday: Hair Styling

If I've grasped anything from Pinterest lately, it's that how a bride wears her hair on her wedding day is a very important decision in the planning process. Girls pin excessively, searching for the perfect look, and then grow their hair or do extensive hair trialing to get it just right. I lack creativity when it comes to everyday hair, opting for a simple twist away from my face or a tousled bun, pulling it back in a ponytail when I'm totally uninspired or on the go. When I thought about how wanted to look on my wedding day, I realized that it was important to resemble my normal self. This is the same reason I don't plan to wear super high heels - I'm most often 5'4" to Jeff's 6'1" and it just works, we fit together when we hug, dance, or kiss. I feel most comfortable and beautiful with my hair down and that seems like the perfect reason to wear it a certain way. I'm excited to sit down with my hairdresser in the next few months to plan our approach, and these are a few styles that I'm liking now:


Friday, May 17, 2013

These Are a Few of my Favorite Things...

It's gray and gloomy outside, with a light mist of rain and the threat of more to come this weekend. This kind of weather reminds me of my college days in Oregon, when we cursed the eight months of rain but then remembered how wonderful it was when the lush, intensely green spring and summer rolled in. I would love to be curled up in sweatpants on a day like today, but there is a lot to be done in the next few weeks and the office is buzzing with productivity. It's weeks like this one that I just adore the quiet and freedom of the weekend. I'm working tonight, and then we have the first playoff game of the high school lacrosse team that Jeff coaches, a night out with friends, and a relaxing Sunday to look forward to. Until then, here are a few things I'm loving right now...

Beautiful rhubarb tart to brighten up any dessert table

 Perfect gift tote for a great bottle of champagne

 Peony season - short, sweet, and happening right now

 Rainbow jimmies-inspired party dress

I hope you're looking forward to fun and sunny weekends!


Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day Brunch

On Sunday, we invited Jeff's parents to our house for some Mother's Day brunch. It was so fun to have them over, sit around our little table catching up and drinking mimosas (or "Momosas" as Jeff aptly named them). I was excited for the opportunity to host and to cook, of course, so I prepared a few plates of simple, yummy food. Not pictured: Big cups of coffee and organic chicken breakfast sausages - yum!

I missed spending the day with my mom but it was great to be with family, raising our glasses to my future mother-in-law. Hope you all had a great Mother's Day, celebrating with the mamas you love or being celebrated!

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Fruit Salad with Lemon and Mint
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(Serves 8)

4 cups of strawberries, sliced
1 quart of blueberries
2 mangoes (about 2 cups), peeled and sliced
1 large grapefruit (about 2 cups), peeled and sliced
1 lemon
1/8 cup sugar, honey, or agave (or to taste, depending on how sweet you like it!)
6 sprigs of fresh mint leaves, chopped

Mix together all of the fruit in a large bowl.
In a small bowl, mix the juice of the lemon, the sugar or honey, and the mint leaves.
Pour over the fruit and toss so that all of the sauce is equally distributed.
Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Almond Flour Banana Bread with Golden Raisins
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Recipe, adapted from The Wannabe Chef: 
(Serves 8)

3 bananas, mashed
1 1/2 cups almond flour
4 eggs
1/4 cup applesauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup golden raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a standard sized loaf pan.
In a large bowl, mixed bananas, flour, eggs, applesauce, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and baking powder until fully combined. Fold in raisins (or any other mix ins you like - walnuts, chocolate chips, etc).
Pour batter into pan and bake for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Let cool completely before removing from pan.

Mushroom and Tomato Frittata
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(Serves 4-6)

8 eggs
2 tablespoons skim milk
1/2 cup cheese (I used Parmesan)
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
Freshly ground pepper and onion powder to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a large bowl, whisk eggs, milk, cheese, pepper and onion powder until fully mixed. Set aside.
Heat olive oil in a large, oven safe skillet. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add mushrooms and tomatoes and saute until fully cooked. Spread veggies evenly in the bottom of the skillet.
Pour egg mixture evenly over vegetables in skillet. Move vegetables around so that egg mixture can seep through to the bottom.
Cook over medium heat until eggs start to set.

Bake on top shelf of oven for 12-15 minutes until the top is golden brown and a knife comes out clean.

Let stand for 5 minutes before slicing.

NOTE: If you don't have an oven safe skillet, pour mixture into baking dish before baking.


Friday, May 10, 2013

Back to Basics

I love the look of a great pair of jeans, a perfect white blouse, and simple accessories. It's all American, classic, and timeless. I've been gravitating towards white tops to balance my favorite dark jeans, and feel that white and blue is the perfect combo for spring and summer. Here are a few simple looks for your weekend.

Back to Basics

Happy weekend!


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

New Day's Resolution: Spring Edition

My very first blog post was called "New Day's Resolution" and it went a little something like this:

"Why is it that we can only make resolutions on one day out of all 365? New Day's Resolution, for any or every day, because why should January 1st have all the fun? October 5th: When the going gets tough, to always laugh, and always play, and remember how fantastic life can be."

I couldn't help but smile when I noticed the date - October 5 will be our wedding day - and remembered the intent of the post. We often need reminders to appreciate the little things, and making resolutions at random can help us be good to ourselves and stay in tune with what's important. Here are six things I'm setting my mind to do this spring:

(any time cards from Rifle Paper Co.)
1. Write letters - Now that I've collected the addresses of all of my nearest and dearest for the wedding, I don't have the faintest excuse as to why I wouldn't be sending additional pieces of mail. I hope to send a card a week.

2. Turn off the TV and talk - After a long day at work, sometimes the first thing I want to do is hit the couch and catch up on my DVR. That pastime leaves little time and attention for actual talking, and it's so important to gab with girlfriends over wine, or catch up on the latest with Jeff. The DVR will always be there.

3. Consider and toss - My summer clothes bins are ready to take over my closet, but I'm stuck looking at all the items that I just don't wear. I keep waiting for the opportunity or the perfect outfit, but I think it's time to de-clutter and send them to someone else's wardrobe. Plus I need the hangers for all my new summer things.

4. Hit the gym - I recently re-started a cardio routine after almost a year of yoga and I'm loving it. While the calm of a dark yoga class is really relaxing and therapeutic, the sweat and burn that come from the treadmill and stationary bike are giving me more energy to keep it up. Regardless of the workout, I'm excited to be making time for it and feeling great.

5. Throw some parties - Our adirondack chairs are dusted off, the firepit and BBQ are ready to be put to work, and the whole yard is looking green and lush. Especially while the weather is warm and mild, we need to get our hosting on and start inviting friends over to hang.

6. Make time for me - The busy season at work is upon me and it can be really easy to get overwhelmed, even though it's all a lot of fun. I need to remember to take some time out for myself, stay centered, and relax when I can.

What kind of resolutions will you make this spring?


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Wedding Wednesday: Festive Cocktail

Weddings are fun for so many reasons, but as a guest, my favorite part of wedding preparation is finding the perfect outfit. I've been known to shop for months leading up to a wedding, weighing my options, purchasing multiple things. I'm not commonly a repeat offender when it comes to formal wear (the age of Facebook makes me much more vain), so I'm always up for the opportunity to buy a new dress. I love bright patterns, color, and sparkle, but when attending a wedding, it's smart to err on the side of a more modest and quiet outfit than something really eye catching. For a benefit at my former job, we selected "festive cocktail" as the attire. It was really a made up choice, meant to discourage people from wearing black tie without dressing too casually. I want our wedding to be a lively event, so we'll be encouraging guests to dress in their favorite "festive cocktail" attire. I hope people will choose color, dust off sparkly shoes, or mix it up with patterns. In general, I want everyone to feel comfortable wearing something fun and playful, and not worry too much about blending in. Here are a few outfits I might wear if I weren't going to be the one in white...

Festive Cocktail
(Shop for these items here)

Festive Cocktail #2
(Shop for these items here)