Sunday, May 27, 2012

More Than a Meal

I have Fridays off, and what a blessing it is! Something about Fridays off makes my otherwise six day workweek incredibly easy and manageable. I tend to pack errands, socializing, cleaning and more into my Fridays. This past Friday, though, I made zero plans for myself. Instead, the fella and I got up and yoga'd (y'all, we have been going like 4 days a week, and we're obsessed. We recently invested in some new Lululemon mats, and good gracious are those things heavenly. Also, my historically beefy arms are tighter and more toned than they've probably ever been). 

When we got home, a pile of sweaty, stinky clothes gathered at the hamper, and while the hubbers cleaned up for work, I set about making us some delicious veggie omelettes stuffed with grape tomatoes, avocado, peppers, turkey, meunster and fresh basil and thyme. After he was out the door, and I was cleaned up and looking better, I headed to the local farmer's market with a friend for some fresh warm-weather produce. For a measly $22, I stocked up on strawberries, peaches, farm fresh eggs, asparagus, ginger, peppers, cilantro, corn, pole beans and rape greens. I was so proud of my bounty! After taking a boastful picture to send to the fella, I headed out for some errand running and nails with Little. 
Somehow despite its lazy pace, the day had flown by. I landed back on my couch at 5:00 with plans to cook dinner, but instead, passed out until about 6:30. Thankfully the hubbers was working late, so I had plenty of time to whip up our supper and was just putting the finishing touches on it (and finally shaking off the residue of my unplanned evening nap) when he walked in the door with a chilled bottle of sauvignon blanc (my love language). I found a recipe on Pinterest a few weeks ago for kale and walnut pesto and was excited to try it. I don't love walnuts, so I subbed them for toasted pecans, and good gracious it was tasty. I had marinated and grilled some lamb (topped with goat cheese), roasted some fingerling potatoes tossed in rosemary and thyme, then grilled some corn in their husks, sliced it off the cob and mixed it in a big bowl with sauteed asparagus, avocado, grape tomatoes and feta and tossed it all with the kale pesto... y'all. That impromptu salad... holy summer freshness and deliciousness. I couldn't stop picking at it.

While he set our little table on our tiny back porch, I artfully arranged our meal and we were able to sit down as the dusk settled and catch up on our days. At one point we locked eyes and smiled and sighed and realized that was exactly what we signed up for when we locked eyes at the altar and said our vows a mere six weeks ago... the opportunity to DO life together. To do the mundane, to make the mundane special because we're together. To come home to one another. To create a home together. It's what we can't wait to do for forever together.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A Snapshot of Our Marriage

Opening scene...
Me, in a hurry and running almost-late in the morning, carrying 14 too many things on my way out the door. In one hand I'm precariously balancing my breakfast plate, when half of my PB&J naan falls off onto the foyer floor. Hurriedly, I pick it up, eat it, and continue to my car.

Later that night...
Davey the Hubbers: How were the pups this morning?
Me: Really good for the most part, except Knox found half of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in the yard and ran in here and ate it.
DTH: That must have been what was all over the foyer floor when I left for work. I thought you had dropped your breakfast and just left the mess.
Me: Oh. Yeah. Lalalala.
Me: Well, actually, that was mine. I did drop my breakfast.
DTH: Baaabe, what did you do with the part that fell?
Me: I ate it. I figured that the dirty part had stayed on the floor revealing the fresh, clean layer underneath.
DTH: My head hurts.

End scene with DTH pouring himself another glass of wine.

I still think my logical is fail safe.

A Kitchen Success

When you're married to a chef, food is a major part of your life. As a wife I love to prepare dishes for my little family; however, when you're married to a chef, your husband works many late nights, so you often eat by yourself. This week, joyfully, the hubbers has been able to come home at a decent hour thrice, which means meals together and some Redbox couch cuddling. Since my husband spends all day cooking for other people, I love to have something ready for him to eat when he gets home, so he doesn't have to continue his work at home. I don't typically follow recipes when I cook, typically sauteeing salmon or chicken or pork chops, roasting a plethora of vegetables and prepping some grains. Over the weekend I found a recipe for crockpot chicken tikka masala. Feeling adventurous and the need to branch out since we're both admitted foodies, I decided to give it a whirl. I can't tell you how delicious the tikka masala turned out. Each night we've had it (and trust me, it makes a ton, and we have not minded the leftovers one bit), the hubbers has gone back for at least seconds. The depth and layers of flavor are phenomenal... it's hearty, feels special and is straight up scrumptious. And any recipe that the precious chef approves fully gets a permanent spot in our rotation. The recipe is involved, but easy and so, so worth it. Check it out!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Overnight Oats

Y'all. Let's chat about overnight oats. 

Oatmeal has always been one of those "tease" foods that I've tried at least twice a year to like because the idea is so comforting - thick, warm and hearty with a rustic appeal, but alas, they've never really pleased my palate. 

Until this morning. When I tried overnight oats for the first time. I'd read about them for weeks on my favorite fitness/health blog written, coincidentally by my favorite hot yoga instructor and former coworker, Peanut Butter Runner. Girlfriend looks incredible and feasts on overnight oats on the reg, but they just never held appeal. Last week, a fellow yogi and coworker had me try a bite of hers, and I knew I needed to try them for myself. And I did. This morning. And I rushed to my computer to blog about them after inhaling every last bite.

Here's the beauty of them: They are ridiculously easy to make, perfect to grab and go in the morning, versatile and incredibly delicious... Please do me and yourself a favor and try these pronto. I wanted to take a picture of them, but I couldn't put my spoon down long enough to snap one. They are eaten cold, and the possibilities for combinations are truly endless. 

Here is Peanut Butter Runner's recipe that I followed...

1/3 cup oats
1 tablespoon chia seeds (or ground flax – for Omega 3s)... optional
1/3 cup plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
1/3 cup almond milk (or soy or skim)
1/2 banana, diced (I love banana in my overnight oats – it also adds some natural sweetness to the mixture)
Handful of blueberries
Dried cranberries... optional
Cinnamon... optional

Almond, peanut, sunflower butter
Fresh fruit (peaches, strawberries, blueberries, etc – this can also be stirred into the overnight mixture!)
Jam (like Crofter’s)
Mix together all of the “overnight” ingredients. Mixture will be soupy but remember it will thicken in the fridge as the oats absorb the liquid. Cover and place in fridge overnight (or at least 30 minutes)
In the morning, add desired toppings and enjoy!

Last night I mixed the oats, Greek yogurt, unsweetened vanilla almond milk, 1/2 banana and blueberries. And this morning I mixed in strawberries, a dollop of organic flax peanut butter (from Target, and seriously amazing), and a spoonful of organic sugarfree triple berry jam. Y'all. Y'all. I have no other words. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Until Now...

While we wait for more wedding pictures to arrive (hopefully next week?!), let me quickly share how the fella left me gobsmacked at our reception.

I had been so excited leading up to the wedding to gift my lawfully wedded surfer boy with a new board to take with us to our Costa Rican honeymoon. Literally bouncing off the walls so eager for him to find it. While I was getting my hair done the morning of our wedding and the fella was eating breakfast with his groomsmen, my dad dropped the board outside of our condo for him to see when he got back. I giddily and anxiously awaited the text that he'd received it, and he was just as thrilled as I had been hoping. He had told me in the weeks leading up to our nuptials that he couldn't wait to give me my gift. I didn't think much about it as we continued getting ready the day-of, had our ceremony and arrived at the reception.

After we toasted with our champagne and sliced our respective cakes (and I had dragged my little sister - the best MOH! - to the bathroom with me to help lift up my ball skirt, so I could tinkle like a lady), I heard the DJ playing "Sweet Caroline," a song that gets me every time since its title is my name (well, my name isn't Sweet Caroline, just Caroline, but still). I scurried out to the dance floor to boogie to the last strains of it. When I spun around as the song faded out I noticed the fella with microphone in one hand and a wrapped gift in the other. He handed me the gift and explained that he had heard me mention one time that I'd love to see my blog published. He went on that he loved reading every time and tracking our many memories together as well as experiencing my past through it, but he was also excited to read the next chapter we were writing together. As I breathlessly unwrapped the package with shaking hands, I uncovered the most beautiful gift... a hardbound, adorably designed copy of my blog. In book form. Every single post. Every single picture. Everything that I've spent the past few years documenting - adopting Sadie, dates, 2 serious breakups, our engagement... page after sweet page of Polka Dots & Protein Bars with a precious foreword from my new husband. 
He definitely won the award for best wedding gift, and it proudly and prettily sits atop our coffee table, and I swoon each time I look at it or crack open its pages.

Monday, May 7, 2012

And Pup Makes Four

Last week, the hubbers and I welcomed a new furry fellow into our home. Meet Knox, our rescue Weimaraner. He's two years old, shy, and ridiculously sweet. Despite adding a big dog to a tiny condo that already includes me, the husband and our blonde cocker spaniel, Sadie, Knox fits right in. The fella had been researching weims in the area for a few months, and we got the call over our honeymoon that this guy was available. We took Sadie to meet him, and they became insta-friends. We brought him home on Wednesday, and we've been filling our evenings with lots of canine cuddling.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Girl Meets Gown

The fella and I got engaged on a Friday evening. The following Friday morning my mom, the lovely Little, and I ventured to J. Major's Bridal Salon to try on dresses. Yes, I was anxious and excited to slip on my first bridal frocks, but I also knew that with a short engagement, we would need time to find the dress, order it, get it in and fit in. In fact, we were fitting my gown all the way until 2 days before I wore it down the aisle. Before I started shopping I knew a few things. I knew that my dress would have to have lace on it, and I knew that I absolutely did not want a strapless gown, and I absolutely did not, under any circumstances want a satin dress.

As soon as we walked into J. Major's we were completely pampered and taken care of. We were given a quick tour of the salon and given instructions to mark the hanger of every dress I wanted to try on with a simple paper circle, and my truly, incredibly, wonderful consultant Kate would follow behind and whisk them to a fitting room. 

As we were ooh'ing and aah'ing and gushing over all the gowns on our way around the shop (or "shoppe," because it just looks prettier, am I right, Shabby Princess?), Kate and Little were asking what I envisioned for myself. I hadn't torn out any pictures of dresses (although I'd pinned several) and other than the 3 criteria listed above didn't have a specific look in mind. What I did tell them, however, was that several years ago there was a TV Program called "Girl Meets Gown," featuring a Dallas bridal salon, that was on for about 8 episodes, and I remembered one girl named Liesl (of course I latched on to her because of her Sound of Music namesake. And crud, now I just want to start belting "Edelweiss") chose a drop dead gorgeously stunning gown, and I loved it. That was it. I remembered nothing about what it looked like or who designed. Liesl + Girl Meets Gown were the only things I recalled. As Kate showed us each designer that J. Major's carried, she waved toward the Alvina Valenta rack. I mentioned to my mom that perhaps Liesl's gown had been an Alvina, but really, who knew?

In all, I had about 12 dresses awaiting me after my pass through the racks. I grabbed nearly every dress that was adorned with lace and planned to have samples of straps put on the strapless gowns and have them added after we purchased it. I couldn't believe how beautiful each and every dress was (note: I was also completely floored by what a difference a beaded belt could make). By dress 4 I had no idea how I would decide. Slowly I plodded my way through eliminating gowns one by one compared to two that I really loved (some didn't feel enough like me, some didn't feel bridal enough, some just weren't quite as pretty as the others, others not quite as flattering). 

The ninth dress I tried on was absolutely gorgeous but nothing that I wanted. It was satin and strapless, and not the kind of strapless that would work to have straps added to. It was a full, heavy satin, beautifully hued Alvina Valenta ballgown with a deeply sweetheart neckline, drop waist, an intricately lace-embroidered bodice with a ribbon and broach around the waist, lace around the bottom and chapel train with buttons all the way up and down the back. Little, sweet Kate and I all loved it. She was sold, but I wasn't. After trying on several more I had narrowed it down to the ballgown and a white lace mermaid style outfitted with a beaded belt (I sincerely couldn't believe how flattering the mermaid was. I'm a curvy girl and never thought that was a cut my body could, um, sustain, so maybe that was the appeal of it, although it was beautiful). We decided to try veils with both, and as soon as I slipped into the ballgown the second time, with the veil, I knew that was the one. I knew that I'd be wearing my mom's veil with my gown, and everything about the look of it with this oddly-colored dress was perfect. Even satin. Even strapless. 

We left the store that Friday without buying it, although we both knew we were finished shopping. That night I looked up the style number and learned that Alvina Valenta masterpiece was a shade the designer deemed "Rum Pink," which odd since it didn't seem pink, just a lush champagne). I went to sleep dreaming about that perfect frock and woke up with the words "rum pink" echoing around and around my head. I suddenly (and quite literally) sat straight up in bed early on Saturday morning wide awake and thought to myself, "I think that's Liesl's dress. I am nearly positive that Liesl's dress was rum pink." 

I rushed downstairs and tried to Google the old episodes of Girl Meets Gown and finally found the archived episode on iTunes. I fast forwarded to Liesl's segment and nearly went numb in my extremities while I watched and saw her sashaying in the exact same Alvina that I knew I would wear down the aisle. I called Little and frantically told her that the only dress I really had in my mind as I dress shopped, that I actually didn't have any recollection of at all, was the dress we had decided on the day before. Not more than an hour later we had placed our deposit on the gown, and never once did I doubt my decision. I have never felt prettier than I did in that dress. I even felt prettier than Liesl.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Power of a Pin

I've mentioned before that when I began wedding planning I honestly wasn't sure what all I wanted for our day. I didn't have an "insert groom here" type of binder with my wedding all planned out. That said, with my personality and a relatively short engaged (6.5 months), when I discovered what we loved, that was it. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I didn't waffle on decisions - venues, dresses, readings, they were all set in stone once they were chosen. There was only one thing that I pulled a switcheroo on, though, and that was the flowers for me and my lovely maids.

It's hard to fathom what all the bride of the future will be able to utilize when planning her wedding. Already, we have SO much information at our fingertips between blogs and Pinterest, it was nearly overwhelming. Southern Weddings Blog, Style Me Pretty and Pinterest were, in fact, wonderful tools along the way as we selected and planned our day. Early on in the process I decided that all of the ladies would carry fresh, pink peonies. I ooh'd, aah'd and pinned bouquet after bouquet of the lush floral, until, one day, about 2 months out from my own trip down the aisle that, frankly, I was sick of the dang things. I had known YEARS ago that I wouldn't allow a single rose to adorn our venues, but other than that, I thought I was set on peonies. 

Funny how the power of the interwebs became a deterrent to my once-beloved petals. Instead, our WONDERFUL florist (Lynette from The Bloom Room, for you lovely ladies in and around Asheville and Charlotte) and I opted to have my maids carry bouquets of lambs ear, tulips, and a few peonies wrapped in burlap, while I carried a behemoth of a bouquet comprised entirely of bright, fresh, gorgeous pink tulips wrapped in champagne ribbon and bedecked with a broach of my own. I was stunned by the beauty and vibrancy of my bouquet. I was also entirely impressed by the sheer size and weight of it. At a certain point in our ceremony, the hubbers even leaned over and quietly and sweetly said, "You're trembling." I looked right back at home and whispered serenely, "This bouquet is so freakin' heavy." I'm so glad that Pinterest's over abundance of all things peonies swayed me to carry tulips down the aisle. Their drooping and multi-petaled sweetness was just what my dress needed. And speaking of the dress, that post is up next...