things i’m loving

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via Target
Who doesn’t love a good cross body (especially for under 20 buckaroos!)? This bright cobalt is all the rage this season.

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via Essie
My joints are aching for some warm weather…and this polish in mint candy apple doesn’t help. Would be super cute with a golden accent (i.e. gold nail or two or even a design).

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via Pottery Barn
My bathroom is so happy with its new robe hooks and matching fixtures in oil rubbed bronze. Just my style – classic with a hint of antique.

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via Jillian Michaels’ Body Revolution
These workouts have been kicking my butt! They’re only about 35 minutes each and make you hurt in all the right places :). Hopefully by summer I’ll have her abs…I can dream, right?!

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via Moi
French press coffee is the best – especially if you don’t have to leave your house! Mine is made by Bodum and I love it. It’s easy to use and easy to clean. It’s available at Target and  Bed Bath & Beyond. I also have a Keurig but it’s easier to adjust the strength with my press.

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via Moi (again)
I recently had dinner with my friend, Elizabeth, at Soul Gastrolounge in the Plaza Midwood neighborhood of Charlotte. I’ve heard great things about it for years, but never tried it. Believe me, its name doesn’t do it justice. We ended our tantalizing tapas dinner with a dark chocolate cupcake with salted caramel ganache and a whipped malt frosting. The photo isn’t very clear, but it didn’t last long enough to get another ;). This was one of the best cupcakes ever! It paired perfectly with a good ole cup ‘o joe.

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Buying, Eating and Living Local

This weekend was one of those “I couldn’t have planned it better” weekends.  I did a lot of catching up with friends.  My new job has kept me tres b-u-s-y so I haven’t had much time for the people I care about lately.  This weekend certainly made up for it.

Friday after work I met my old coworker and friend, Becca, at a local Belmont dive, JAX, for Happy Hour.  We try to do this once a week but sometimes we have to skip a week or two.  This week was exceptionally crazy for both of us so it was a much needed date.  Appetizers were half off so we split nachos and our favorite fried cajun shrimp.  We desperately wanted to snag these glasses, but the waitress was kind enough to let us have them:

The next morning, I got up bright and early to help set up a Voter Registration booth with another friend, Elizabeth, at the local farmer’s market in Mount Holly.  I love going to the farmer’s market and checking out local produce and talking to farmers about harvesting and what they enjoy most about cultivating delicious fruits and vegetables.  There were beautiful sunflowers, peaches, meats, cheeses and vegetables galore.  I skipped breakfast as I was running late as usual so my mouth began watering immediately.  I sought out the bakery booth and got a blueberry muffin and cinnamon orange bread.  Then I sampled a bacon cheddar cheese, fresh sausage, gala apples, pimento goat cheese….and suddenly my hunger subsided.  The coolest part of the market was the cooking demonstration by a local chef and caterer, Bocca Felice.  The master chef herself, Gina, was super spunky and fun to watch. She even posed for this pic while she was talking about produce:

All of the ingredients in her cooking demonstration were from various vendors at the market.  How cool is that?!  The only thing that wasn’t was the olive oil, but she got that from a local place called Olive 2 Live (where I get all of my infused olive oils and balsamic vinegars).  Her menu included basil pesto yellow fin tuna steaks, zucchini fritters with fresh corn kernels and tomato basil soup.  Elizabeth thoroughly enjoyed her tuna!

Isn’t she cute? I think so. It was very hard to take this picture without stealing her tuna!  After we sampled all of the tasty dishes, we loaded up our reusable “shop locally” bags with goodies from a few of the booths.  One man had fresh veal and if it hadn’t been $40 I would’ve definitely come home with some!  Instead, here was my spread at the end of the day:

Goat milk lavender lotion, wildflower honey, heirloom tomatoes, okra, cinnamon orange bread, pimento goat cheese, goat cheese log and sausage.  I am so excited to indulge this week!

After the farmers market, I met my BF Jayni at a Selwyn Pub in Charlotte for a drink (she had just gotten off from a 12 hour shift in the ER) and froyo.  We double treated ourselves :).  My froyo was taro with coconut and brownie bites….DEEEELISH!

A few hours later, I met my old high school friends, Veronica and Andrew, along with their adorable baby, Beckham, for dinner at a new local place, The Round Bistro.  On the way, we had to drop their oldest, Jack, off at his grandparents.  But not before singing “Call Me Maybe” and dancing in the car.

Adorbs!  He is my little buddy.  I love spending time with them…Ronica, Drewby and I always have some great laughs about high school, parenthood (even though I can’t quite relate) and our food obsessions.  They totes (short for totally) get me.  I also kinda set them up in high school, so I consider them my most successful matchmaking experiment :D.  Anyway….I had a scrumptious portobello burger that I could only eat half of (maybe it was the late afternoon beer and froyo?).

After dinner (and some awkward sightings of peeps from our past lives), we came back to my place and enjoyed another beer while we made peach crisp from fresh local peaches Andrew got from another local farmer’s market.  Then it was Beckham’s bedtime so they had to scoot and I took full advantage of an early bedtime myself!

Sunday morning was a continuance of my weekend of catching up, eating and apparently drinking.  I met Elizabeth and Becca for brunch at 2 p.m., where we had a blast mixing our own Bloody Marys at their brunch bar.  I decided to go for a mix of the lobster, crab and Jamaican Me Crazy tomato juices, worcestershire sauce, tabasco and lime.  I also snagged a ton of okra – my fave – from their pickled veggies selection.

My drink went so well with my afternoon breakfast…

The bacon was thick AND crisp, which almost never happens, and the grits were creamy goodness.  Becca literally licked my bowl.  I’d say all in all I had a pretty tasty weekend!  I had a fabulous time trying new, local dives and shopping locally!

good eats

Pardon the MIA-ness lately….my best friend FINALLY got married so my life has been consumed by wedding festivities and decorating for the past few weeks. I’ll post pics as soon as I have a few hours to put together a post…First things first, though. I have eaten very well the past week. My week of good eats began Saturday night with dinner at Dandelion Market in Charlotte for my friend Becca’s birthday. It’s a fun tapas bar with food that is to die for, but the coolest part is the wall of Dutch wooden shoes. Here are a few pics of our meal:

The photos don’t even do it justice. We split proscuitto crostinis, stuffed zucchini and lamb lollipops with fresh cherries. A friend made the strawberry cake with rainbow chip icing, which everyone devoured (even without forks). I also enjoyed a fresh cucumber mojito. It was light and perfectly quenched my neverending summertime thirst…for the time being. 😉

Eating all of this inspired me to start cooking again. I have always enjoyed cooking and baking. It has made for a good procrastination device when there’s something I need to do but just can’t bring myself to. I prefer cooking most of my meals at home and try to eat out no more than twice a week. With all the chaos that has become my life, I have been eating out or grabbing something on the go a lot lately. After a while, I can notice a big difference in how I feel and the fit of my clothes. Snugness = yuckness. So, Sunday afternoon E and I grabbed our reusable grocery bags and headed to the grocery store. We loaded up on organic veggies and whole grains, filling all four of our bags to the brim. You gotta love that bag discount! I immediately got to chopping ALL of the produce when we got home…and it only took three hours. Seems a little excessive, I know, but I’ve found that if food is cut and ready to cook then I am more likely to cook everything before it goes bad. I hate wasting food so much that I will eat past any comfortable level of fullness instead of throwing a bite away. Although, sometimes a bite or two ends up in Susie Q’s bowl.

All of that turned into this:

I have been eating on this pasta salad all week. With all the different veggies and flavors I never get sick of it. In case you’re looking for the recipe, here ya go:

Healthy Summer Pasta Salad
(use organic when possible)
1 box tri color rotini
1 bottle lite Italian dressing (I prefer Newman’s Own Lite Olive Oil Vinaigrette)
1 cup black and green olives, diced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup onion, diced
1 cup red and green peppers, diced
1/2 cucumber, diced
salt and pepper, to taste

Combine ingredients and toss in large bowl. Let stand in fridge overnight. Bon appetit!

Have you made any delicious (and/or healthy) means lately?