Monday, October 5, 2015

The Weekend

So Joaquin really showed out this weekend by sending us all the rain...well, most of the weekend. It was gloomy, cloudy, wet and cold. Sunday, which was National Taco Day, the sun magically reared its beautiful face for just a moment. John and I got out for a bit and went to the last hour of the Chattanooga Market. We seriously went and only walked away with fresh squeezed lemonade and warm cinnamon sugar donuts. I'm not complaining about what we bought but it is sort of hilarious that it's all we went for. I'll be sharing more of my living on a budget adventure later this week but I did have a bit of a hiccup this weekend, which I'll explain. This week, I'm attempting, again, to not eat out for lunch and dinner and to try and spend less. However, I did realize that I'm in desperate need of some new wardrobe items. Not a big deal but we're heading out of town soon and I sort of "need" stuff before we go.

Yeah. That's what I'll tell myself. I need it.

Shared some charcuterie with friends on Friday night, fooled around with Thanksgiving recipes and enjoyed a little brunch and coffee with a friend on Saturday. Despite the cold and wet weather, this was a good weekend. Looking forward to a productive week!

Happy Monday!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Salted Caramel Stuffed Brownies

I love brownies. I made these earlier this summer and I haven't been able to stop thinking about them. Ever since I made brownies from scratch, I vowed to never make brownies from a box ever again. Baking isn't my most favorite thing in the world but once I find something that's delicious and easy with very little opportunity to mess it up, I'm sold. I especially love brownies when they're still warm and gooey; it really is just the best. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream and I'm in heaven.

I have a guilty pleasure of enjoying sweetened condensed milk in my coffee occasionally. When I found this recipe on Pinterest, I was so excited to find another use for my sweetened condensed milk. Also, I was thrilled that I didn't have to make caramel in some complicated and exhausting manner. This recipe was right up my alley when it comes to baking. I found this recipe on Recipe Tin Eats and I think you'll find it super easy to follow - if not, let me know. I made no real changes to this recipe so for that reason, you'll have to head to Recipe Tin Eats to recreate it.

It's supposed to be more of a 'marbled' look but I guess I need to work on that skill a bit.

Making the caramel was really easy. I did use kosher salt instead of regular table salt though. Kosher salt gave it more of an intense flavor.

My brownies baked for about 36 minutes but your time will vary depending on your baking pan and your oven.

Bon appetit!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Around the Web

Something's brewing - I can feel it.

The making of a celebrity brand (Bethenny Frankel) - via New Yorker (long read)

Instagram has a creepy new feature - via Brit & Co.

What's the difference between a French omelet and an American omelet - via PopSugar Food

My new favorite podcast channel - via Jess Lively

How are you at punctuation? Take the quiz - via Refinery29

How we lie on Instagam. It's so funny that it's sad - via PopSugar

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Living off of $20 a week

So John and I randomly decided to live differently. Instead of spending money at a ridiculous pace, we decided to live off of just $20 a week. Now this doesn't include food - we're not crazy. On Sundays, we head to the grocery store together to gather food for lunch, dinner and snacks. Neither one of us are that great with eating breakfast but I picked up some fruit in case I needed a little morning treat. So the goal is to not have to go out for lunch or dinner (I cook a few times during the week anyway for the blog and my column) and have $20 for incidentals...or "just in case" money. Sounds hard but I convinced John and off we went. After we agreed to it, I realized that I wasn't exactly sure what I've gotten myself into and I'm already thinking twice. Anyway, I'm not one to just give up so, here's how my first week went...

Sunday // prep day

I menu plan what I'll cook for the week. John figures out what he'll cook for the week and off to the store we go. In my mind, I'm thinking: this is going to be so fun! I get $20 cash back from the store and I'm all set for the week.

Monday // day #1 // $20

Off to work with my snacks and lunch (a sandwich and chips). So far so good. I did go to Target on my lunch break to purchase a birthday card; we have a birthday party to attend later. I spent $4 on the card. The card was PERFECT so I couldn't say no, right? For dinner tonight, John made chicken fried rice, similar to this salmon fried rice I made. Now that we've had dinner, we're ready to head to the birthday party, which is taking place at a local restaurant - The Feed Table & Tavern.

Tuesday // day #2 // $6

Yep, day two and I'm down to $6 already. I got a cocktail at the restaurant and left a tip. I've already realized how difficult this is when you want to be social. I have another sandwich and chips for lunch. I cooked tonight and to celebrate the last day of summer, I have a home.

my at home cocktail.

Wednesday // day #3 // $6

Still holding on to my six bucks. I forgot I bought bananas so I decide to have breakfast: a banana and coffee at work. For lunch, I have leftovers from the night before. In the middle of the day, I get a text from a friend regarding girls night on Thursday. I say yes, immediately, without even thinking twice. Whoops. Huh? How will this work. My sweet husband offers to give me his $9.44. I laugh and decline. I got myself into this mess, I'll get myself out. Pride is a horrible thing. For dinner, I make these, which I'll share on my column next month.

Thursday // day #4 // $6

John makes his own dinner at home tonight because I'm off to girls night at The Meeting Place. I go to girls night and order a cocktail - it's happy hour so it's only $5. I don't order food at girls night - we all just get a bunch of happy hour appetizers (I order fries). I get home and a few hours go by and I realize I might be hungry. Sweet John heads out, at 11pm, to get McDonald's for me. I'm sad and my stomach will definitely be sad after consuming McDonalds. Ugh.

Friday // day #5 // -$16

Yep. It's Friday and I'm in the hole -$16. Sheesh. I have another sandwich for lunch, which is getting really boring, by the way. Once home, John and I realize that we didn't really plan for the weekend. Usually, we don't do a lot of cooking over the weekend because it's fun time and that's how I went into this experiment - NOT SMART. We end up going to our favorite taco joint and getting tacos to go. Boo.

another sandwich

Saturday // day #5 // -$32

I pay for tacos since John got me McDonald's the other night. By Saturday morning, I'm thinking that we have to plan waaaaaaaaaaaay better if we plan on being successful this week. John goes off to work and I make coffee at home, eat some snacks and you guessed it: I ate a sandwich later for lunch.

What I've learned so far:

Planning and variety is key. If I'm going to survive, I have to change up my lunch options a bit. It does feel good being more thoughtful in how we're spending our money but I've also realized that when you can, it's OK to 'treat yo' self''. As long as you're treating yourself within your means, it's totally fine. I'm going into this current week with a little bit more knowledge and a little more confidence.

Stay tuned for another update next week!

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Weekend

I had such high hopes for accomplishing so much this weekend. To my credit, I did cross off a few items on my to do list though I didn't accomplish everything - there's still this week though, right? Whatever. I think I mentioned last week that John and I were trying a new challenge where we live off of $20 a week and I'm excited to share how that first week went. It's to say the least. I'll share more Wednesday.

Anyway, John and I hung out with some friends Saturday evening and ate crepes! So good. I've had crepes before but not in a really long time. For some reason, crepes aren't really on my weekly menu but I think they should be. The most shocking and surprising thing about this weekend is that I TRIED NUTELLA FOR THE FIRST TIME. Everyone is so shocked when I tell them I've never had Nutella. I get judgmental looks from folks when I admit it like I'm missing out on something. To be honest, it has always scared me - not sure why though. I'll go ahead and admit that I enjoyed it along with the crepes and fresh strawberries. I don't know for sure that we'll add it to our shopping list but I won't be against it should we throw some in our shopping basket one day.

I tried cleaning a little corner in our bedroom that needed a little sprucing up - still a work in progress but it's progress nonetheless. I'm hoping that this week will bring me enough free to time to actually flip through my new People Style Watch; I feel like I'm in need of some fall wardrobe inspiration.

Happy Monday!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Around the Web

I'm really feeling like this week's around the web is a good one.

73 questions with Lupita Nyong'o, can she get any cuter? - via (VIDEO)

Bevy Smith talks quitting her job at 38 and focusing on her dreams - via Essence

Golden Girls facts you may not know (unless you're a super fan like me) - via Huffington Post

Awesome read about two friends who started a food conference - via Refinery29

Unfair truths about the success of creative people - via Medium

Let's finally delete all of those stupid Apple factory apps (hate those) - via Brit & Co.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Autumn Inspiration

It's not a secret that autumn is not my most favorite season but it's starting to grow on me...just a little bit though. My beef with fall is that it's a constant reminder that winter is very, very near and that, I most definitely do not like. Fall is growing on me in the sense that there are items in my wardrobe that I'm looking forward to wearing; items that you just cannot wear in the summertime because it's so hot. So, yeah, a wardrobe change is something that I don't mind about fall. I don't like a ton of heavy coats and gloves but I can get into light sweaters and scarves - I'm trying. Also, a new season means new adventures and a new outlook on life...? Maybe? I might be pushing it there. But for someone who despises change (unless I'm in control of it), I do sometimes welcome the start of a new season.

So as we get this new fall season underway, along with secretly praying it never gets cold and we continue to have really nice mild temperatures until next spring, I'm also thinking of things that are inspiring me and helping me get into this whole idea of fall.

Things like...

Apple picking - seriously, apple picking has been on my list since 2013 and I STILL haven't done it. I'm currently inspired by the possibility that someone will take me...anyone...anyone?

Loafers - the ability to wear some type of loafer or oxford is keeping my eye on the prize when it comes to fall.

Dinners outside - since the weather won't be scorching, I'm excited to dine al fresco, maybe at a friends' place (we don't have a yard currently). Hopefully one of my friends is reading this and will start planning something (I'll help).

Opportunities - I have a lot of things on my plate but I'm looking forward to slowing down and really focusing on all the opportunities that have presented themselves to me.

Chunky sweaters - I mean come on. Not everything that's inspiring me for this next season is meaningful or even thoughtful - some of this stuff is just simply superficial. Since I do have a love of *some* fall attire, I can't wait to wear some cute chunky sweaters.

Reading - on my 34x34 list, I included the need to read at least 2 books this year and they cannot be cookbooks. Since the holidays are approaching, I'll excitedly use that time to do some much needed reading.

What are you looking forward to this fall?

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Weekend

Sometimes there are those really random weekends where you eat at the same place twice. Only because we wanted to try the restaurant's two different menus (in this case, dinner & brunch) and get pictures for my blog. This generally doesn't happen in a 48 hour window but this little weekend, it did. Besides having restaurant deja vu, I tried to spend some of my weekend getting organized and mentally prepare for the close of another month. This month is ending on a pretty busy note; I have an event for work in a week and I'm pretty sure that once that passes, I'll finally be able to think clearly. I hope.

John and I went to a late movie Saturday night and saw Black Mass. Afterwards, I spent most of my Saturday night researching James 'Whitey' Bulger because I have some sort of obsession with the history of the mafia in our country - I don't know why but I do. It seems sort of unreal to me. Usually on Sundays I try and go grocery shopping and this Sunday was no different except, John and I both went grocery shopping with the intentions of shopping for EVERYTHING so that we won't eat all this week. It seems so daunting but we can do it. The goal is to not spend more than $20 a week on "incidentals" - whatever that means. We'll try and do this every week until we go on our next trip, which is happening next month!

Oh! How can I forget. I got a chance to sit in on my friends practicing improv Sunday evening and the best part was that John joined them and it was quite entertaining.

Cheers to a new week - happy Monday!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Rosé Spritzer

Even though Rick Ross is always yelling about rosé and almost making it seem so cliché to drink it, I actually like it and this is way before he starting rapping about it. Even though, I find it almost unbelievable that such a big, somewhat "hardcore" dude like Rick Ross, would yell so confidently about a pink wine. What if he were rapping about white zinfandel - would that be OK? No, it wouldn't be. But we let him get away with it because it's rosé and it sounds pretty? I don't know...he doesn't even spell it correctly. Maybe that's how he gets away with it? Because he spells it, "rozay"?  Anyway, this is not a post about Rick Ross excuse me, Ricky Rozay. It's supposed to be about this rosé spritzer I made.

Summer is winding down (sad) but here in the South, it's still pretty warm. Rosé is a refreshing wine that I love to drink on a warm summer day. Adding the word 'spritzer' makes it even more enjoyable and refreshing, don't you think? I found this recipe in my favorite food magazine...yes, you guessed, Bon Appétit. It's light, crisp and reminiscent of summer.

What you'll need:

  • 2 lemon slices
  • 4 dashes Peychaud’s bitters (See note 1)
  • ½ ounce St-Germain 
  • 4 ounces sparkling rosé (See note 2)

Note 1: I didn't have Peychaud's bitters on hand so I used El Guapo's cucumber & lavender bitters that I purchased earlier this year from New Orleans. You can purchase some on Amazon if you like.

Note 2: I also made this without sparkling rosé because I couldn't find any at the time and it's OK if you have to do that. If you need a little bit of fizz or sparkle (of course you do), add a splash of club soda.


Place lemon slices, bitters, and St. Germain in a glass. Add ice; top with rosé.

It's really that simple. Saying goodbye to summer just a got a whole lot easier.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Around the Web

I woke up one morning and it was cool outside. What happened?

Tips for making your manicure last longer - via Mimi Chatter

Knife Skills - via The Everygirl

A drink with Jaclyn Johnson, founder of Create+Cultivate - via A Drink With

Dwayne Wade & Gabrielle Union's wedding trailer - via Brit + Co.

A self-respecting woman who loved Straight Outta Compton - via XOJane

One women recreated celebrity Instagram pics and it's funny - via PopSugar

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Garlic Marinated Zucchini

I eat zucchini quite often now in my adult life but believe it or not, I haven't always enjoyed zucchini. Shocking, I know. A couple of summers ago, John would grill out a lot and he would always grill squash and zucchini. From then on, I've developed sort of a love for zucchini. Growing up, we didn't eat tons of zucchini and it was definitely wasn't something I was going to bring up to my parents. No one needed to know that zucchini was missing from my life.

Anyway, now I'm an adult and since I cook for myself, I can finally appreciate the beauty of flavor of zucchini. They're great grilled, sauteed and even baked. I found this garlic marinated zucchini recipe over on The Kitchn, one of my favorite websites, and I was intrigued. The ingredients were simple - most of which I already had in the kitchen and it was a way to enjoy zucchini that I've never tried before; it was a win/win situation. I will say this though, garlic is amazing, I cook with it all the time but it always doesn't make your breath smell nice, you know? This recipe in particular will definitely give you the urge to brush your teeth afterwards but wow is this delicious!

I can't wait for you to try this!

Here's what you'll need:

2 pounds of zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch slices
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons finely chopped basil
1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
*You'll want to double this recipe especially if you're making this for a crowd.


Place the zucchini in a colander, sprinkle with about 2 tablespoons salt, and toss with your hands to coat. Let stand for 30 minutes.
Rinse the zucchini well and pat dry with paper towels. 
Stir together the basil, parsley, and garlic in a small bowl and set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet set over medium heat. Working in batches, fry the zucchini, turning once, until softened and lightly browned on both sides, about 6 minutes total. 
Transfer half of the zucchini to a shallow dish and top with half of the herb mixture then half of the vinegar. Taste and season lightly with salt, if needed (zucchini may already be salty), and pepper. Repeat with the remaining zucchini, herbs, and vinegar.
Let it stand at room temperature, basting occasionally with the juices in the baking dish, for 30 minutes, or up to 2 hours, before serving. 
Serve at room temperature. 

recipe via The Kitchn

So good, make this soon - I promise you'll love it!

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Weekend

What a beautiful weekend. The weather was absolutely perfect and even though I'm not super excited about it, it smelled and felt like fall was in the air. It's not that I loathe fall or anything, it's just that fall is a vivid reminder that winter is near..and we know how I feel about winter. I feel like this weekend sort of flew by which is what happens when you're having fun, I guess? I went to a movie Friday night and saw The Perfect Guy...very creepy. Saturday John and I went to our friend's second annual hot dog party - so much fun...the adult cherry limeade was a hit! Sunday we spend the day with friends having brunch, mimosas and a little football. Then comes Sunday night when it's time to prepare for the week ahead.

And here we are.

my friend Lacy is super cool. don't mess with her.

Jennifer's impressive hot dogs.

Great weekend, hoping for an even better week. Happy Monday!

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