Half-Way There {2016 goal check-in}

It’s kind of hard to believe that this week marks the half-way mark of 2016.  Like, where did January through June go?  I thought it would be fun to check-in on the goals I set for myself back in January and see how I’m doing.


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Read more.  I’ve absolutely been better about reading more.  In fact, in the past couple of months I’ve finished reading “Saving Grace” by Jane Green; “Dancing on Broken Glass” by Ka Hancock; “Beach Town” by Mary Kay Andrews; and I’m almost finished with “Here’s to Us” by Elin Hilderbrand.

Focus on happiness.  This goal is something that I have to decide I’m going to do every.single.day.  Someday’s it’s not easy and sometimes I have to give myself a “smack across the face” in the middle of the day but it totally makes life easier if you focus on the good rather than the not-so-good.

Be the best me.  I think that I’m doing really well at this goal.  I could totally be a little more patient at times – but couldn’t we all?  I’ve learned to ignore some of the negatively around me because it does nothing but pull me down with it.

Practice and study to become a Core Barre instructor.  In April I attended a 3-day training in Charlotte.  I passed the written test but had three months to submit my final practical video.  I submitted my video about a week and a half ago and I am so excited to say that this morning I had an email in my inbox telling me “Congratulations.”  I PASSED!!!!!  I am incredibly proud of myself and incredibly thankful for all those that have supported me.  Bring on the pulses and tilts.

So what will the rest of 2016 hold?  There’s no telling.  Hopefully reading a lot more books (preferably by the pool), focusing on being happy every day regardless of the circumstances, being the best person I can be and challenging not only myself but also all the ladies I teach in barre every week.


Friday Favorites

The last weekend of June and the first official weekend of summer has arrived.  I’m looking forward to supper club this evening with friends followed by a Saturday and Sunday full of fun and sun.  I’m going to soak up every second of this low-key weekend because after this, the summer schedule starts to look a little cray-cray (in the best way possible).

No matter where you are –  I hope your weekend is full of all the good things that summer brings.

Here are my favorites from the week:


Favorite Grilled:  Chicken, Burst Tomato, and Artichoke Skewers with Goat Cheese Dip.  As soon as I have homegrown tomatoes, this is ON.  And I think I’ll take her advice and open a bottle of wine plus grill some garlic bread for the side.


Favorite Scoop:  Lemon Poppy Seed Ice Cream.  I have a feeling we’re going to be pulling out the ice cream maker quite a lot this summer.


Favorite List:  13 Books Everyone will be Talking About This Summer.  I just started reading “Here’s To Us” by Elin Hildebrand yesterday. And I’m totally adding “First Comes Love” by Emily Griffin and “The Singles Game” by Lauren Weisberger to my summer reading list.


Favorite Simple:  Grilled Peach and Prosciutto Pizza.  The key here is to use quality ingredients.  Local peaches, the best prosciutto you can find, high quality mozzarella and a homemade crust (duh).


Favorite Summer Dinner:  Grilled Romaine, Corn and Chicken Salad with Salsa Dressing.  I could probably eat this salad Monday through Thursday and be completely happy in life.


Favorite Accessory:  Shiraleah Natural Carmelita Pom Pom Clutch.  WANT!  And it’s totally affordable.


Favorite In Season:  Sweet Corn Pesto Tossed with Pappardelle and Zucchini Noodles.  I’m going to really need the squash bugs to leave my garden so that I still have zucchini when it’s time to harvest the corn so that I can then make this bowl of deliciousness.  Thankyouverymuch.


Favorite Break:  Grape and Herb Chicken Salad. A perfect Saturday in the summer starts with a long walk and coffee followed by heading out to the pool with a good book.  At about 1pm, you head inside for lunch, maybe your first cocktail of the day.  And then you go back outside for a couple of more hours before showering for your evening of fun.  This would be the perfect lunch break.  Simple yet satisfying.


Favorite Jaw Drop:  An Epic Maine Home.  I love EVERYTHING about this house.  And can we talk about the pool?!?!  (No, seriously, you have to click over and look at this house.)


Favorite Umbrella Drink:  Creamy Coconut Margarita. I constantly live in a fantasy world (just ask Big Guy).  And my currently wanderlust daydream is Cabo.  I’m fairly certain I could live off this drink plus guacamole and chips for a month.

Cheers to the weekend!

(and don’t forget to wear SPF)



Shrimp Burgers with Chipotle Cream and Coconut-Pineapple-Strawberry Salsa

Happy First Day of Summer!  I hope you had an amazing weekend – ours was pretty awesome.  Unfortunately Big Guy got stuck in Atlanta on Friday evening for a little while due to weather but other than that, we spent the whole weekend hanging out.  We pooled it, we celebrated “appy” hour, we laughed, we bought a new umbrella for the back deck (maybe the best party of the weekend), we went on a long walk and played yard games.  Oh, and we ate some epic food.  Like this shrimp burger.

You guys!  I can’t even explain how delicious this burger is.  Like, I’m speechless.  And I’m warning you, I may make this again very, very soon.


The only thing that would make this burger even better would be local shrimp from our favorite seafood shack at the beach.

Shrimp is chopped in a food processor and then mixed with Panko breadcrumbs, an egg, some dijon mustard, garlic, salt and pepper, dried basil, smoked paprika and onion powder.  The burgers are cooked in a little olive oil on the stovetop.

The bun is a Hawaiian hamburger bun that I cooked in a little butter on the stovetop.  On top of the bun is a chipotle cream that’s simply sour cream, chipotle sauce and lime juice.  So smoky, so good.  After the sauce, a shrimp burger.  And then some sliced avocado for creaminess.  And finally, I piled on some of the fresh salsa that’s a mix of strawberries, pineapple, red onion, cilantro, toasted coconut (!!!!) and lime juice.  So refreshing!

This burger is everything.


Spinach-Vidalia Dip + White Cheddar-Chive Pimiento Cheese

Happy Wednesday, folks!  To help get over the “hump” – let’s talk about my favorite hour: “APPY HOUR.”

And aren’t “appy” hours the best during the summer?!?  If you disagree, don’t tell me.

Few things in life make me happier than a glass of bubbles and something to snack on.


And this past Saturday, I popped open a bottle of Iron Horse bubbles and simply enjoyed our evening of “nothingness” at home.  No plans, no commitments.  It was glorious.

This board of appetizers gets even better…you can prep EVERYTHING in advance.  I actually made both of the dips the day before.  You could make them up to two days in advance.  How about that?

Both recipes are from Southern Living.  The White Cheddar-Chive Pimiento Cheese was very flavorful and I loved the addition of chives.  I also liked that it wasn’t super mayo-y.  Mayo-y, it’s a thing.

But the Spinach-Vidalia Dip stole the show.  I wish I had served it with ridged potato chips because I honestly think it would have taken me back to the beach when we used to dig into French Onion dip after a long morning at the beach.

While I love having plans with friends and family during the summer, it’s also super nice to have a few low-key weekends at home.  If you’re lucky enough to have one coming up, I highly recommend either of these appetizers.


Zoodles with Chicken, Feta and Spinach Meatballs

Our zucchini is out of control!  I’ve eaten more zucchini in the past week and I’m still having to give some away to avoid waste.

On Sunday we turned our zucchini into noodles with our spiralizer.

Zucchini + Noodles = Zoodles.  It’s my new favorite word.

The zoodles are sautéed in a little butter and a little EVOO along with garlic and some red pepper flakes plus a splash of lemon juice.  The zucchini only needs about 6 or 7 minutes of cooking – you don’t want them to get watery.

We topped our zoodles with chicken meatballs that were loaded with spinach, garlic, and feta.  An egg and Panko were added to help bind it all.  The meatballs are formed and then baked at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes.

And to finish off the pile of zoodles and meatballs, a hefty sprinkling of feta (feta makes it betta) and some fresh oregano from the garden.


And since I felt so healthy while eating my zoodles, I cracked open a bottle of rosé to sip on the side.

Oh summer, I’m in love.

Death & Taxes (restaurant review)

Morning!  I hope you all had a fabulous weekend – it was a hot one around here.  On Friday night we went out on a date to a restaurant that’s been on my list to visit for a while now (more on that in a minute) and Saturday was spent soaking up some rays by the pool and a relaxing night at home.  Sunday was a pretty low-key but we did manage to squeeze in a long walk.  A long, hot walk.

Death & Taxes celebrated a year of being open on Friday.  I honestly had no idea but it made me chuckle since I like to give restaurants a good 6 months before I try them out for the first time.  I had heard mixed reviews but I can honestly say I would go back in a heartbeat.


We arrived in enough time to grab a drink at the bar before taking our seats.  The bar isn’t anything crazy and next time I would go to another bar for a drink and then just arrive at our reservation time.  I started with a glass of cava and talked to the bartenders about the menu and their recommendations.

Once we were seated, I knew we would be in for a treat.  Our waitress was awesome.  I honestly can’t say enough positive things about the service.  And to be honest, the service was so good I’d go back had the food been bad.

But the food wasn’t bad.

We started with a couple of appetizers…


We ordered the roasted oysters with preserved lemon and chili butter as well as the charcuterie plate with grilled bread and pickles.  We don’t normally order oysters in June but they talked us into it and they were so good.  Not big oysters but the flavors were incredible.  I also really enjoyed the pate – my only complaint was that we didn’t have enough bread.

For dinner, I was torn and I ended up getting the roasted whole fish that they cut for you at the table.  Big Guy ordered the steak.  We also got the soft-shell crab to share and if I could do it again, that is all I would have ordered along with a side or two to share.


The soft-shell crab was one of the best bites of my life and hands-down the best soft shell crab I’ve ever had.  I want to go back tomorrow and order another one!

I also ordered a glass of sparkling rose and I ended up having a few glasses it was that good.


I must find this wine and buy a bottle of two!

Our date night was absolutely fantastic and I absolutely recommend Death & Taxes as a “must go” place in downtown Raleigh.


Friday Favorites

Well, well, well…

Life is, well, busy.  Between work at that farm, studying, barre classes and just life in general – I’ve been busy.  And the blog is where I’ve had to slack a little.  BUT I’m back.

It’s Friday and I have some delicious food planned for this weekend (including lots of zucchini).  Speaking of delicious food, here are some of my favorites from the past week (or three)!


Favorite Potluck Side Dish:  Green Goddess Potato Salad with Peas and Bacon.    This would go with just about anything grilled.  Now I just need to be invited to a summer shindig.


Favorite Layers:  Ginger Lemon Bars.  These would also be perfect for a potluck.  Or just just eating by myself.


Favorite Spicy:  Honey Chipotle Chicken Pizza.  YAS!  Unfortunately this is not happening Sunday.  But maybe the next?!?!


Favorite Pool Accessory:  Turkish Tie-Dye Kimono. I’m in need of a new cover-up.  This one looks cool, comfortable and absolutely chic.


Favorite Bowl for One:  Smoked Salmon and Strawberry Zucchini Noodle Pasta Salad.  I’m obsessing over this creamy avocado and smoked salmon bowl of deliciousness.  I want this for lunch every day next week.  Maybe even dinner.


Favorite Entertaining Menu:  Bo Ssam Dinner Party. Bo Ssam is simply slow-roasted pork shoulder served with lettuce, white rice and lots of sauces.  Oh, and margaritas would be the perfect cocktail.  Let’s have a party!


Favorite Summer:  The Best Garlic Burgers Ever. Despite it always being grilling season around our house, summertime is my favorite time to fire up the grill.  And burgers are about the most American thing you can throw on the grill.


Favorite Outdoor Oasis:  Black, White and Rad All Over.  I would never leave my backyard if this was outside my back door.


Favorite Weeknight Dinner:  Slow Cooker Beef Meatballs with Broccoli Rabe.  Crock-pot to the rescue!  Totally going on the dinner menu A to the SAP.


Favorite With Salt (and a side of Guac):  Coconut Margarita Slushies.  A good excuse to put the ice cream maker to use.  I think I’ll go ahead and make a pitcher.


I hope you all have a wonderful and restful weekend that is full of sunshine (and a glass of wine)!  Cheers.