4 Years


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I can honestly say I fall more in love with Big Guy each and every year.  It’s hard to believe we’ve been married four years.  Every year comes with absolute joy and memories that you want to hold on to forever.  But every year also comes with challenges and hard, hard days.  This year was no different.  And no matter how many years you’ve been married, I don’t think it gets easier.  The challenges and joys may be different as the years go by, but they are there.

Our fourth year was filled with some incredible memories.  Take a trip down memory lane with me…

Taylor and Kiersten’s weekend visit that included a trip to SoCo, an epic cheese board and homemade pasta.

A long Memorial Day Weekend at OIB.  A visit I will never forget that was filled with so much love, sunshine and laughs.

Our garden.  Again, zucchini the size of my lower leg that we used in so many recipes so we wouldn’t tire of eating it.

PIZZA. and SUSHI.  I hope pizza and sushi are always a part of each year we’re married.  

Taking Haines for ice-cream over the 4th of July.  

Sonoma vs. Napa wine dinner with Maggie and Brad – hopefully she’ll come one year when she’s not pregnant.  Hah!

The end of July and beginning of August were a hard season.  But we came out stronger.

Watching Haines and Deacon eat the watermelon you grew after Mimi’s 80th birthday bash.

Our Watick dinner dates.  Wine.  So much wine.

GREEEEEECE.  The most unbelievable, one-in-a-lifetime trip.  You truly made my dreams comes true.

Football games and tailgating.  I love seeing you so passionate about a Saturday.

Welcoming another nephew, Braxton. And then finding out we were getting another nephew in 2017.

A night out in Raleigh to celebrate the Christmas season.

Christmas spent with family.  I’ve never had more fun with the Watson’s than when we spent a few days in the mountains together.

Getting all fancied up for the Hospital Gala.

A random weekend in March at OIB.  Filled with long walks and salty air.

Pawpaw and Mawmaw’s visit.  You are such the host.  And it warms my heart.

And finally, celebrating our anniversary in Charleston this past weekend.  

You honestly make me a better person, Big Guy.  Whether we’re lounging around the house on a Sunday evening, or making an absolute mess in the kitchen, or traveling anywhere and everything – you are my person and everything is more fun with you by my side.


2nd Annual Flamingo Fling Review

HI!  I’m home after a wonderful weekend with my Momma and sister for our annual Flamingo Fling.  It was quite the relaxing weekend and it’s always a treat to have some uninterrupted time with two of my favorite ladies.

We enjoyed mocktails and wine promptly at 5pm on Friday to kick-off the festivities.


With our drinks we snacked our way through dinner.  We enjoyed some bacon wrapped dates, a fantastic cucumber dip (Momma, can you send me that recipe?!?!) Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps that were inspired by a recipe in this cookbook (I used cashew butter instead of peanut butter and cashews instead of peanuts; I wish I would have added some chopped water chestnuts) and some brie with roasted veggies.


The chicken wraps were a little spicy, a little sweet, a little crunchy and a whole lot of delicious.


I think my favorite bite was a little brie with roasted potatoes.  So yummy.

After we filled our bellies, we settled in for movie night.  We watched The Choice and it was the perfect chick-flick for the weekend.


On Saturday we spent most of the day in the sun and snacked on some dill pickle popcorn from Trader Joes (addicting!!!!) and enjoyed a Mexican-inspired evening with guacamole, quesadillas (grilled corn and green onion shrimp quesadillas from the same cookbook that I linked above) and game of Mexican Train (a twist on dominoes).


The quesadillas were SO good and we may or may not have snuck out on the golf cart for a quick trip to Sunset Slush.  

Sunday morning we headed to our favorite little coffee shop for breakfast before my youngest brother took us out on the boat for a little fun in the sun before Flamingo Fling came to an end.

Unfortunately Maggie had to hit the road after a quick lunch of leftovers but my Momma and I stayed another night.  We played Yahtzee and ate even more leftovers before watching some HGTV to end the weekend.

I am so grateful for the past several days and hope that we’re able to make this a tradition for many, many years to come.  Life is incredibly busy but sometimes you just need to pump the brakes and enjoy a little time with the ones you love.

Have a great week!

Friday Favorites

The 2nd Annual Flamingo Fling weekend is here!!!

For all of you wondering “what the heck is a flamingo fling?” – let me explain.  Last year my Momma wanted to have all the girls in the immediate family go to the beach for a girls-only weekend.  We picked a weekend and it earned the title “Flamingo Fling.”  We had so much fun that we had to do it again this year (and I’m hoping it becomes an annual tradition).

So as soon as I’m finished teaching barre class this morning, I’m hittin’ the road and headed to the beach.  I can’t wait to be reunited with my Momma and sister.  I plan on playing board games, perhaps having a movie night and eating my weight in guacamole.

Here are my favorites from the week:


Favorite Nostalgia:  Hushpuppy Panzanella Salad.  I have vivid memories of eating hushpuppies hot out of the fryer as a kid at my Pawpaw’s beach house.  This is a grown-up way of eating the Southern staple.


Favorite From Scratch:  Coconut Cream Pie.  I am a sucker for anything coconut-flavored. Also, I haven’t made a pie in a while.


Favorite 4-Minute Read:  This 100-Year-Old To-Do List Hack Still Works Like a Charm.  This is the simplest method for increasing productivity.  I’m going to give it a try!


Favorite Date Night:  Cajun Garlic Lemon Butter Shrimp with Caramelized Corn Polenta.  Two words:  Holy yum!


Favorite Fried:  Crispy Avocado Egg Rolls.  I love everything about this ingredient list.


Favorite Round-up:  31 Trader Joe’s Products You Can’t Live Without.  I don’t go to TJ’s near as often as I used to but I love seeing with other peoples MUST HAVES.  The items I can’t live without from TJ’s: oats, nut butter, nuts, cheeeeeeses, and gluten-free waffles.


Favorite Entertaining:  Fig, Hazelnut & Ricotta Crostinis.  So I want to host a little get together and have a crostini bar.  Sweet, savory and everything in between.  I love this little combo!


Favorite Mix It Up:  150-Calorie Oatmeal Toppings.  I love hot oats – even in the summer.  My favorite combo to try:  Salted Chocolate Chip.  Yes.


Favorite Spiralized:  Broccoli Rabe and Sausage Parsnip Pasta.  It’s been a hot minute since I used my little spiralizer – and I’ve never even thought of using parsnips.  Let’s do it!


Favorite Pop the Cork:  Pro Tips – Ask a Sommelier.  Some verrrrry helpful information regarding buying wine at the grocery store and picking wine at a restaurant.  If you’re wanting to step up your wine game and go beyond a cheap weeknight whatever wine, a good price range to get into at a quality wine shop is $18-25. 



Friday Favorites

We made it to Friday.  Woot woot!  We have a busy, busy (and fun!) weekend on tap but I’m hoping that Sunday ends with a relaxing summer evening at home with no one but Big Guy after his week in California.  Technically summer is coming to an end with the start of school on Monday but summer won’t end in my mind until football starts.  (Though the weather won’t feel like summer is over until October.)  Where did this summer go?!?!

I hope you all have a fantastic weekend and I’ll see you back here next week.


Favorite Drool:  BAE: Bacon Avocado Egg Sandwich.  Holy moly.  That cheese!!!!  This brunch sandwich is evvvvverything.


Favorite In Season:  Classic Caprese Salad.  Tomatoes are at their absolute best right now and there’s also a bounty of basil in gardens everywhere.


Favorite Lust:  Tassel Earrings.  The perfect summer accessory.  Though these have a better price tag.


Favorite Flavors:  Lemon Basil Shortbread Cookies.  I heart lemon.  And the basil infusion sounds glorious.


Favorite Sweet Treat:  Fudgy 100 Calorie Brownies.  Because sometimes you just need a bite of chocolate.


Favorite List:  The Best Sushi Restaurants in Every State in America.  I would LOVE to work my way through this list.  Though I have to disagree with the pick for NC…Mura is my absolute favorite.


Favorite Appy Hour:  How to Make a Next-Level Cheese Plate.  Cheese plates make me so happy.  Especially with a glass of wine.


Favorite Sandwich:  Grilled Blue Cheese with Honey and Walnut Pesto.  Salty, sweet, luxurious, buttery, nutty.  It has it all.


Favorite Cookies:  These New Girl Scout Cookies Might be Better than Thin Mints.  Thin mints are one of my favorites.  But I’d be willing (twist my arm) to try the S’mores cookie and Chocolate Graham Cracker cookie.


Favorite Cocktail:  Crushed Blackberry Moscow Mules.  Incredibly refreshing on a sweltering day like today.



Friday Favorites

Yesterday morning as we were getting ready for the day, Big Guy said “How am I supposed to act today?”  I found the question a little strange but at the same time I totally understand.  Today Big Guy will come back home after being away for almost two weeks and we’ll go back to our routine.  But I want us to remember her daily and keep her spirit alive in our lives.  And because she loved my blog and loved Friday as much I do, I’m going to go back to my usual Friday Favorites today.  And tonight I’ll get back in the kitchen.  Perhaps I’ll even pour us a glass of wine and be grateful for the amount of love that our friends and family have shown us over the past two weeks.


Favorite “Appy” Hour:  Honey Lemon Goat Cheese Crostini with Blueberry Salsa.  The combo of honey, lemon and goat cheese gets me every time.


Favorite Carbs and Cheese:  White Pizza with Garlic Sauce and Garden Herbs.  I’m in major need of a pizza night.


Favorite Cook, Eat and Color: A Cozy Coloring Cookbook. How genius is this?  A cookbook and a coloring book all in one.  Amazing.


Favorite Crock-Pot Dinner:  Salisbury Steak Meatballs.  This needs to be added to the menu plan.  I haven’t used my crock-pot all summer and I think it feels unloved.


Favorite Date Night:  Sweet Corn Risotto with Cajun Shrimp.  Sweet, creamy and rich.  I have the perfect bottle of wine for this dinner.


Favorite Fresh:  Corn, Cucumber, Peach and Avocado Salad.  This totally refreshing salad would be perfect for any backyard barbecue that you have coming up.


Favorite Tip:  How to Avoid Bitter Cucumbers.  Simply cut off the ends before you peel the cuke.  Call me intrigued.


Favorite Bubbles:  Watermelon Mimosa. Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh.  I simply cannot wait for our watermelons to be ready in the garden!


Cheers to the weekend!

Fresh Corn Cakes with Summer Salsa

This past Sunday, Big Guy harvested our corn that I’ve been patiently waiting for to eat.  We were pleasantly surprised to have a lot more than we did last year so we spent most of Sunday afternoon prepping the corn for the freezer.  We did almost everything outside to prevent too big of a mess inside.  We shucked the corn, boiled the corn on the cob for about 4 minutes and then shocked it in ice water before freezing.  We froze some on the cob and then we went ahead and cut some off the cob and froze.

And while I am so excited to have our freezer stocked, I was even more excited to save a few ears for dinner on Monday night.  As soon as I saw this recipe for corn cakes in the most recent issue of Cooking Light I knew that it was happening as soon as our corn was ready.

I was even more excited that I was able to use other stuff from the garden:  zucchini (instead of yellow squash), chives (instead of green onions), basil, and fresh jalapeño.  Unfortunately I wasn’t able to use our tomatoes as they are still green – but I know that before long I’ll have more tomatoes than I know what to do with.


I loved the pop of corn in the corn cakes.  They were delicate and flaky and reminded me of corn bread.  They would be insane with a drizzle of honey as breakfast or lunch.  The salsa was bursting with freshness and was lovely on top of the warm cakes.

Summer, I love you.

Coconut Shrimp with Raspberry Mango Chile Sauce

You guys!!!

Big Guy has always loved coconut shrimp.  I remember in our early years of dating, if we found ourselves at Sharkey’s at OIB, he always requested the coconut shrimp.  And while those were delicious, I’m fairly certain the ones we made on Saturday are way better.

I deviated a little bit from the original recipe so I wanted to let you know my changes.  I made the sauce a few hours before we were planning to eat so that it would have time to cool to room temperature.  The sauce started with Bolthouse Farms Mango Smoothie (the original recipe used their blood orange juice – our little town didn’t have that flavor and so I adjusted as I saw fit) that I whirled in a blender with fresh raspberries to mimic the original flavor profile.  The mango-raspberry mixture is then brought to a boil along with rice wine vinegar, sugar and a little water.  Once thickened, the chili sauce (I used garlic chili sauce that you find on the ethnic aisle – green top!) and the cornstarch mixture are added to the sauce.  Reduce the heat and allow the sauce to thicken.  Turn off the heat and let sit/cool until you’re ready to eat.

For the shrimp, high quality, wild caught, and local is the best.  The shrimp, once peeled, are dipped in flour (I used rice flour), then an egg and coconut milk wash (I could not find the other smoothie that the recipe called for so I used an equal amount of coconut milk) and finally in a mixture of shredded coconut, Panko bread crumbs and almond meal.

But you’re not quite ready to fry the shrimp – refrigerate for 30 minutes before frying.  This is a new-to-me tip as we’ve made coconut shrimp before but I honestly believe it made a huge difference in the final product.  Also, make sure to season ALL three components of the breading (flour, coconut milk wash, and coconut/Panko mixture) with salt and pepper.

The shrimp are then fried in about 2 inches of vegetable oil until golden brown and cooked through.


These shrimp were everything.


A little spicy.



Coconutty (totally a word).

And absolutely irresistible.