Monday, January 12, 2015

{menu monday} with a side of flexibility & grace.

"Ford love, let's not pour mommy's fancy granola into Pete's bowl." There is never a dull moment in our house with a tall toddler & his spotted sidekick. 
{Pete is never very far behind his brother}


I honestly believe that flexibility is 100% key when mapping out your weekly meal plan. Maybe you've had a crazy day & you need to switch to something super easy. Or "the baby" is craving both lasagna & a philly cheese steak sandwich simultaneously. Give yourself some grace & don't afraid to be creative & adapt recipes as a guideline for what you may have on hand. You might just surprise yourself!

Monday:

Pasta Primavera w/ Bacon
I planned on making this fabulous Bacon, Leek, & Butternut Squash pasta last weekend but the aforementioned craving struck hard. So I adapted the recipe to what leftover veggies from last week I had on hand (red pepper, carrots, leeks, & zucchini) ... & voila ... a tasty meal without waste. 

Tuesday:

Peppery Shrimp w/Grits & Greens
{Cooking Light -- January 2014}

Wednesday:

Black Bean, Butternut, & Collard Quesadillas

Thursday:

Grilled Cheese + Tomato Soup



~~~~~~~


 Hit-o-Last-Week:

Hands down the Kung Pao Zoodles. I know I know you've been hearing all about vegetti & zoodles and everyones spiralizer since Santa came down the chimney. But it's the truth. This was a hit with everyone & for a noodle loving lady, the zoodles really did make a nice healthy alternative.

{The Prepped Goods}


{The Finished Goods. Nom Nom Nom}

Happy Cooking!















Friday, January 9, 2015

Five Favorites for Friday


1. Balela Salad from Costco. 
Let me start by saying I am not a "Costco person." Honestly sometimes I drive by and see how full the parking lot is & it give me hives. I re-joined about 6 months ago for two main reasons: my child loves GoGo Squeeze Pouches & Veggie Straws. It is so much easier to have bulk quantities on hand than multiple grocery runs with an active toddler & growing belly. Since joining the dark side I've discovered several products that cater to my moonbeam tendencies & are actually way more affordable in larger quantities (hello Kerrygold butter.) Usually I stick to the list on my bi-monthly trips but I picked up this salad on a whim & I'm glad I did. It's protein packed & easy to grab for lunch or a snack (add 1/2 an avocado & some feta cheese on a pita for lunch ... mmm.) Cheers to you, dark side! You've got me hooked on one more thing.

{That's my big beauty on the easel in the middle! | www.instagram.com/jnkarampelas}
2. Contemporary Art by Jennifer Flannigan.
We decided to commission a contemporary piece of art for our family room & kicked off 2015 with it atop our mantle. Jennifer's pieces are creative, colorful, & just plain beautiful. I can't wait to get it hung this weekend to complete our family room!


{30 week belly + a good book}
3. The Library List
It's the netflix que for books. I have been a total slacker in terms of reading lately & wanted to make books a priority in 2015. I've been so beat by the end of the day with this pregnancy that all I could do was crawl into bed with netflix & mindlessly soak in the tube. I placed a few suggested/more popular books on my library request list late last fall & honestly had totally forgotten about it. Enter a little email telling me "Me Before You" by Jojo Moyes was ready for pickup, & just like that, I'm hooked on the books again. My brain thanks me. 

Overwhelmed. That's the best way to describe how I felt about keeping my house clean & tidy. Every time I felt like I accomplished anything, it got undone almost immediately. Additionally the idea of waking up Saturday mornings, a day that should be family focused, & cleaning for hours put me in a bad mood. I came across the clean mama weekly plan & it's revolutionized my routine. It suggests manageable daily tasks so you never have to have a day long cleaning marathon. Is my house always neat, clean, & tidy now? Heck no. But every week theres a fresh start & ideas to handle tasks quickly.  

{www.instagram.com/flora.forager}
5. Flora.Forager on Instagram
Simple, Elegant, & Inspired florals that will make you smile. I promise.



Monday, January 5, 2015

{Menu Monday} Zoodles, Grapefruit, & Collards (oh my)

That would be a super gross combination, yes?

Over the past year or so I've found that if I sit down & plan our meals for the week, & get all the shopping done everything runs much more smoothly. The budget is adhered to, food doesn't go bad in the fridge, & home cooked meals are good for the soul (& waistline.) I had a trusty planner I'd been using to template out the weeks but thought 2015 needed a fresh face taped to my fridge and I came across this little cutie, thanks to the super creative folks at elephantshoe.  




Let's pretend that I'm not out of printer ink (again) & you have a pretty picture of my week of meals laid out neatly for this first full week of January 2015. 

Monday:
Kung Pao Chicken Zoodles

Tuesday:
Hambone Soup

Wednesday:
Grapefruit, Avocado, Shrimp Salad

Thursday:
Pork Chops + Collard Greens

Friday: 
Butternut Squash + Bacon Pasta
w/green salad

You can find links to most recipes on my Pinterest board "What's for Dinner?"

~~~~~~~~~~

And might the nearly 30 week pregnant lady suggest for a snack...


No Bake Energy Bites


-I left out the coconut & upped the oatmeal content. Big hit in my house!








Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Le Grand Vacation.

Putting a little french twist on things makes it seem more exciting, yes? 

Hmm, didn't fool you? Smart readers. My last post coincided with the last week of Mom's Morning Out. My first post back comes after visit #3 to Mom's Morning Out. Coincidence? I think not. 

I wish I could say we led a glamorous life galavanting about this summer but I cannot. While there were some wonderful jaunts to the coast & the high country we've spent the last 2 months in the trenches.  The morning sickness trenches. 

The why-do-they-call-it-morning-sickness-anyway trenches. Don't get me wrong, while it hasn't been fun I can now see the light at the end of the tunnel. And I know it will be worth it come March (or July when we're in a routine again) when I have a 2 year old little boy & a newborn. 

In a nutshell we've had a pretty quiet July & August laying low. My adventures dragging myself to the park or grocery store are less than blogworthy. But as I strike a match & light my pumpkin candle for the first time, I'm looking forward to fall. To leaving the sickies behind & celebrating my favorite season. 

Cheers!

{Last summer hiking adventure before the sickies hit!}

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Honey Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies.


2014 has been a year in which I've really focused on what goes into my mouth & the mouths of my family. I've been steadily working to cut out un-necessarily processed ingredients & trying to clean up eating habits in general. I'm not gung-ho on any one food fad or another, just more aware of real food. One of the small changes I started with was butter. I replaced my go to grocery store sticks with grass fed (sometimes organic) butter. (These cookies were made with Kerrygold brand.) Y'all, the real stuff is SO MUCH BETTER and more satisfying than the other. Now I'm not saying I eat a ton if it, but a tiny bit goes a long way in terms of the yum factor.

I decided to bake a sweet treat for my uncle-in-law, but wanted to keep my new eating focus in mind. Out went the white & brown sugar (I can honestly say I've never baked without these pantry staples before.) In came the raw honey I picked up last weekend on a trip to Asheville. With a little creativity & lots of honey-substitution research my trusty shiny red KitchenAid mixer made fluffy, chewy, deliciously satisfying cookies. Are they a health food? No. Am I pretending they are? Nope. They fulfilled a sweet tooth craving and didn't make me feel guilty about it. The recipe is for a smaller batch, yielding 1-2 dozen, depending on how big your drops are. Enjoy!



Monday, April 28, 2014

a little off the top, a little off the bottom, & definitely a pop ofcolor.

You thought I was talking about a new hairdoo didn't you? 
Nope. 
I'm talking about shutters in the first installment of posts chronicling "before & after" projects on our 1960's ranch-style home we've been renovating since January.  


{Before}
I am a big advocate for proper scale & proportion. Just like Golidlocks, I needed to find the right fit when starting to spruce up the exterior. I felt like the shutters were just too long for the overall height of the house & size of the windows. And while I'm at it, so was the light fixture. Generally I feel like the solid wood building materials on older homes are of much better quality than those you get today, so I didn't want to go the replacement shutter route. I asked my very handy Dad if shortening the shutters would be an option. Since they were louvered, he thought it wouldn't be too difficult to do.  So my wacky idea was added to our long to-do list, & waited for a warmer spring weekend to tackle it.
{1st Update: New Doors!}



I am lucky & quite thankful to have a handy & knowledgeable husband and family. While the hubs tackled spreading new topsoil and grass seed, my dad, "Daddy J" in grandparent speak, hung the newly shortened shutters. "Cece" (my mom in grandparent speak), Ford, & I headed to my favorite garden center to pick out flowers and a couple new coconut liners for my window boxes. 


It can be overwhelming trying to decide which plants to fill your window boxes with for spring & summer. You have to take into account maintenance, water, & light. Being my first summer in this house I wasn't exactly sure what to expect. All winter the front of my house got a great amount of sun, but that was without the canopy of leaves the big old oak tree provides in the summer. The first step was to select a color palette. I knew I wanted bright pops of warm colors to go with my aqua door. Coral was my first choice but wasn't easy to find in the window box appropriate flowers for my varied light levels. We played with color & texture combinations as long as a pouchy kept Ford happy in his stroller, and ended up with a nice grouping that follows the "golden rule" of container gardening:

THRILL, SPILL, & FILL




Recipe for The Perfect Windowbox {at least at my house!}

++ Thrillers ++
Dracena Spike
{dark green & grass-like}

++ Spillers ++
Dwarf Marguerite Sweet Potato Vine 
{lime green}

++ Fillers ++
Madness Rose Petunia
{flowers hot pink}
Dusty Miller
{grey/green interesting leaves}
Easter Bonnet Violet Alyssum
{small purple flowers}
Quartz White Verbena
{fluffy white flowers}
Bandito Orange Sunrise Lantana
{orange & yellow cluster flowers}
Orange Gerbera Daisys

{shorter shutters, Pete peeking out the window, colorful window boxes, & a new light fixture...hooray!}


Sidenote:
Have you checked out your local habitat restore? I picked up that light fixture for $15! I liked the aqua patina & size. When mom helped me clean it up (not nearly as pretty on the shelf) she discovered its solid copper. I looked up a new similar sized one and it sold for $400! 






Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Body After Baby.

Im a rather realistic person generally speaking. I didn't expect to push out a tiny human & then magically go back to my old self again. It took 10 months get this way, so I gave myself 10 months to get back. 

{Mothers Day, 2013}


Turns out I wasn't a magic breast feeding weight dropper. I wasn't a magic post-breast feeding weight dropper either. I knew I was going to have to work for it. I started Stroller Strides when the little man was about 10 weeks old. You wouldn't believe what impact a positive group of moms & some outdoor activity had on my (now admitted) baby blues. I achieved my goal in terms of number between the little mans 9th & 10th month. While the number made me happy, I still didn't feel as strong as I wanted and clothes just didn't fit the same way. A baby really does change everything.

{Before & After: 8 week long session 1}

 I started a twice a week high intensity interval training program in January & began focusing on clean eating. I ate pretty healthy to begin with, so I didn't have too hard a time with the adjustment. I simply put more thought into what went in my mouth. Between the workouts & thoughtful food plan, today, on my little guys 13 month birthday, I am 15 pounds below my pre-pregnancy weight. I'm wearing clothes from years ago. I feel so much stronger & have more stamina to keep up with a very active little man. And frankly I look forward to my weekly workouts & the incredible group of women I've gotten to know sweating alongside me.

{Farm Days with the little man in COLLEGE JEANS, April 2014}

I write this to you dear readers not to toot my own horn, but to share that a little bit of change can bring big impact. You don't have to pump yourself full of chemical drink concoctions, only eat bars, or even eat like a rabbit to reach your goal. Just like with all aspects of life, it's all about balance. 
{Easter Afternoon, April 2014 -- 12 weeks total of Body Back }