Friday, August 22, 2014

Weekly Eats: Dos and a Don't

Here are the highlights (and one low-light) from our dinner table this week: 

1. Vietnamese Caramel Pork Stir Fry from How Sweet it is: We eat quite a bit of "fake out take out" Asian stir-fry type dishes. They're usually quick to make, and it's an easy way to add some veggies to a meal without making a separate side dish. This version is one that's become a recent favorite. I think it's the toppings that make it stand out: it's delicious on it's own, but the lime, cilantro and peanuts make it absolutely drool-worthy. Put this one on the DO list!

2. Skillet Lasagna also from How Sweet it is (love that blog!). You may vehemently disagree, but I think this beats "real" lasagna any day of the week. It's quicker and easier, plus the way the fresh mozzarella on top gets all melty in the oven...mmm, heaven. I've lost count of how many times I've made this dish; it's definitely a keeper in my house! 

3. Baked Honey Chicken Tenders from Six Sisters' Stuff: This chicken was flavorful and easy to throw together (I didn't marinate for as long as they recommended but it still tasted good!). The only downside was that I baked it a little too long and the chicken got a bit dry. I imagine if you replace the super-lean tenders with drumsticks or even thighs in this recipe, the result would be juicy chicken that's packed with flavor. 

4. I'll share a fail that wound up on our DON'T list. Most of the time I ignore the cooking times on slow cooker recipes. (Cook for 6 hours? Well I work an 8+ hour day, so that just isn't happening.) However, I learned my lesson with slow cooker turkey meatballs. I'm positive that if I would have followed the directions, these would have been awesome. But even on low, after a full day of slow cooking, those poor meatballs had all the moisture and flavor sucked right out of them. Luckily Jona didn't seem to mind. Aaron and I were picking at our plates, and meanwhile that kid was practically inhaling the meatballs! At least they didn't completely go to waste. 

What was on your menu this week? 
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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Jeans + Tee + a Touch of Glam

Jeans and a tee shirt. It's one of the most basic combinations, yet it's one of my favorites. It's what I reach for when I need an "easy" outfit. I love it because it's simple, yet it's the perfect foundation for so many possibilities. For work, I wanted to dress up my jeans and tee a little, so I added a sparkly statement necklace (for #StyleMeAugust) and funky snakeskin flats. 

How do you dress up jeans and a tee? 

Taupe t-shirt: Target; jeans: Gap; sparkly necklace: Bauble Bar; belt: Gap; snakeskin flats: Target

Linking up to Summer Style at Mix & Match Fashion. 
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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Jona's Whale Birthday Party

Since I've been blubbering on and on about my baby turning one, I thought I'd at least share a few photos from his whale-themed party (see what I did there?). We decided to keep the party small, but I still wanted to have some fun with the food and decorations. 

My starting point for party decor was this Nautical Whale Party from RVParties, my favorite party planning shop. I let Rachel and Victoria (the R and V of RVParties) do most of the work - I just had to cut and assemble. Because throwing parties stresses me out, I didn't go crazy with the decorations. As difficult as it was, I gave my perfectionist, type-A self a break and didn't stress (too much) about having everything match.

I did try to put some effort into the food, since that's always the best part of a party anyway, right? In keeping with the whale theme, I served the following dishes: 
-Whale Eggs (AKA meatballs - I used this recipe)
-Sea Snails (pigs in a blanket)
-Ham & Cheese "Seaweed" Wraps (seaweed = spinach tortilla)
-Turkey Hummus "Seaweed" Wraps
-Plankton (Chex Mix)
-Ocean (Funny story, mixing Swedish Fish into partially set-up blue Jello is a good idea in theory, but the resulting bloated, purplish blobs swimming around the gelatin sea were less than appetizing. Live and learn.)
-Cupcakes - the chocolate and white (box mix) cupcakes with (homemade) buttercream frosting got a pass on the cheesy naming

In addition to a special t-shirt (see my post on that here), Jona got his very own smash cake. I baked white cake in a round pan and cut it out and frosted into a whale shape. No, it won't be gracing the shelves of any bakeries, but for a cake whose purpose is to be pulverized by tiny little hands, I think it turned out pretty cute. Jona's reaction was a mixture of awe and horror. Once he figured out that it tasted good, there was more going into his mouth than into the air at least. 

I'd say the party was a success. Jona had fun seeing friends and family, and I didn't shed a single tear thinking about how my baby isn't a baby anymore. (I'm not saying I won't, but so far, so good.)

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Five French [inspired] Fall Finds

In anticipation of my impending closet clean-out and fall wardrobe transition, I was brainstorming which styles I am most drawn to. One that kept popping up in my mind was "French". Now French-style dressing means different things to different people (especially real French people I'm sure), but to me it means classic, quality pieces and simple prints like stripes and neutral leopard. 

Here are 5 pieces that fit that aesthetic, all of which would be perfect additions to my fall wardrobe. (Whether or not the budget agrees, now that's another story.) 

1. Leopard flats. My leopard flats from Target have served me well, but they are about to bite the dust. To spare myself the crying and heartbreak of not having a pair of leopard flats in my closet, I'm going to replace them before they die. I love this pair from Madewell. 

2. White button-up. I have a white button-up shirt, but I don't wear it much because it feels so stiff. I bought it because I figured it would go with everything and be a classic piece in my closet. I think a classic white button-up can be a closet staple, but it needs to fit well and be wearable. This lightweight, silky version from J.Crew Factory is better suited to me and would make a great layering (and stand-alone) piece. 

3. Striped long-sleeve top. I plan to replace two striped tops with fits I'm not crazy about with one higher-quality one that I'm more comfortable in. (As much as I wanted to love this peplum top, every time I wear it I'm constantly pulling it down. I should have sized up.) I'm a fan of this one from Land's End. 

4. Skinny black pants. I love a good skinny jean, but I need a versatile, slim fit pair of pants for days when I need to look more professional. These J.Crew Factory ones would do the job! 

5. Graphic tee. In my opinion, the French are masters of the "I just threw this on but I somehow still look incredibly sexy" look. A simple, loose-fitting graphic tee sends just that message. (Bonus points for being in French, J.Crew.) 

What's on your wishlist for fall so far? 
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Monday, August 18, 2014

Navy Floral Dress 2 Ways

I'm really hoping that one of these days I'll say, "Wow, I'm feeling refreshed and recharged after that relaxing, lazy weekend!" instead of "Holy busy weekend, I'm exhausted." Next weekend? Please? Don't get me wrong, I had a wonderful time, and Jona had the best first birthday. But I could use a nap or two. 

This navy blue floral dress got a workout this week. I love the ease of a dress, and this one was perfect both for work and for the weekend. 

For work, I kept it painfully simple, and just added red ballet flats. Although my look is a lot different, I had the Inspiration Monday picture at Two Birds in the back of my mind when I put this on. I was also thinking of the #StyleMeAugust prompt "Talk of the Toes" with my red shoes. 

Navy floral dress: Loft; red ballet flats: Gap Outlet

For my weekend look, I added yellow sandals and earrings, a belt, and a neutral navy cardigan (for the indoors, of course). I love navy blue and yellow together, so the dress was just what I wanted for "Hello Yellow" day for #StyleMeAugust. 

Navy cardigan: Merona, Target; navy floral dress: Loft; earrings: Etsy; belt: Loft; sandals: Steve Madden via DSW

Linking up to Mix it Mondays @ Fizz & Frosting and Inspiration Monday @ Two Birds
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Friday, August 15, 2014

Weekly Eats 7: Quick and Easy

This week I've been working hard to get Jona's party finalized (even for a small party, there's still so much work involved!) so it was all about the quick and easy meals.

1. No Fail Slow Cooker Chipotle Pulled Pork from Kitchen Belleicious. Ahh the slow cooker. A working mom's best friend. This pork was juicy, flavorful, and a little spicy (must not have been too spicy though--Jona devoured this). It was delicious on toasted kaiser rolls as a pulled pork sandwich, and again in quesadillas later in the week. And I still have some left to freeze...any ideas for leftover pulled pork? 

2. Homemade Crunchy Taco Hamburger Helper from Iowa Girl Eats. This one is a household favorite, and it's a one-pot meal which is an added bonus. You can't go wrong with rice, salsa, ground beef, and cheese in my opinion! 

3. Sriracha Chicken Quinoa Bowl from Kim's Healthy Eats. Ooh boy this one was a sinus clearer! It was plenty spicy, but tasty. Aaron even liked the quinoa, so I'll consider it a success. (Once again I'm finding inspiration at Anne's blog--she talked about trying this recipe in a recent post.) 

What was on your menu this week? 
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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Pin to Present: Birthday Tee

Today I'm joining in the Pin to Present linkup at In Residence. Anne's linkup was just the motivation I needed to make one of my pins happen off the screen. Since there's a big birthday coming up in our household, I decided to recreate a pin from my "Birthday Boy" board. 

I remade this t-shirt from an Etsy shop (Lilthreadzclothing), and I admit I came close to just buying it because it's so darn cute! But since I couldn't quite bring myself to spend $30 on a t-shirt Jona will wear just one time, I decided to make it instead. 

I found a plain gray t-shirt at Old Navy, and bought some fabric paint. I looked up and down for stencils in lettering that I liked (simple, lowercase letters) but had no luck. So I painted everything freehand (which is why the letters are a little wonky looking) and I'm pretty happy with how it turned out!

I decided to go with a "whale" themed party as a tongue-in-cheek nod to the Bible story featuring that other guy named Jonah. And also, because these decorations I found at RVparties Etsy shop were super cute. Next week I'll share more from the birthday celebration. 
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