The most wonderful time of the year

We’re back from vacation (more on that later!), it’s dreary and raining, and it feels like fall! I don’t even mind the rain – I pulled out a spicy candle and lit that sucker up, and I couldn’t be happier. Although I’m 100% certain we have several weeks of blisteringly hot weather left before autumn sets in for good, this week of fall-like weather we get at the end of summer every year has always been my point of no return. Bring on the apples, the pumpkin spice lattes, the scarves, and the cool breezes.

tree

Don’t rain on my parade

We’re getting ready to head south tomorrow, and the forecast is looking pretty shaky – rain predicted for both Thursday and Friday, with cloudy days Saturday and Sunday. We won’t let a little rain ruin our good time, though – we’ll just have to get a little creative. Some ideas I’m kicking around:

Check out the SCAD Museum of Artscad-msm-art_540x242

Watch the rain fall from the covered deck of a riverboatriverboat

Shop the downtown design district949724b3732a9bc222a1f7db1a1c0680

Indulge our sweet tooth at Lulu’s Chocolate Bar328998ba9d870d4b224c841352b6f19d

Take a tour of Southbound Brewing CompanySouthbound Brewing Co. Savannah Brewery

Lounge over coffee & pastries at Le Cafe Gourmetls

And of course, some of our already-planned activities are perfect for a rainy day – a covered trolley tour is perfect for sub-par weather, and some drizzle will make our ghost tour all the more spooky! Bring it on, rain – we’re ready for you!

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Instagram Etiquette

Do you have any Instagram pet peeves?

Mine is when people (typically people who don’t use Instagram often, or ones who are new to IG) spam my feed with a ton pictures over the course of a day (or often, a few minutes). Especially now that you’re able to upload albums, there’s no excuse for feed-clogging! I say keep it to a couple posts a day, max (or maybe three or four if you’re on vacation or something…but even that should be spread out over the course of the day, and it’s still pushing it).

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A thing I definitely shouldn’t have posted to IG, but did anyway

Another thing that drives me bonkers is when people post 50 snaps or IG stories of live music (I may or may not be guilty of this myself). I know it’s tempting when you’re swept up in the moment, but a blurry video with sudden LOUD, distorted sound is a hard pass for me, dawg.

If “to post, or not to post?” is a question you struggle with, check this handy little guide. Or, y’know, just go ahead and post. Who am I, the queen of Instagram?

Five impulse buys that ended up being my favorite items

…Plus two things I thought I needed that ended up being duds

As I’ve mentioned, I (VERY) frequently end up falling victim to impulse buys. A lot of the time these purchases end up being left laying around for several weeks before being stored away somewhere or thrown out. But every once in a while, I’ll grab some random little item that ends up being one of the most useful things I own. Here are five items I grabbed on impulse, but ended up being some of the most handy things in the whole house:

1. Marble “Cheese” TrayIMG_2631I grabbed this little guy from Target one day because it was marble and it was cute. I didn’t really have a specific purpose in mind for it (it was labeled as a cheese tray, but was a little small to be practically used as such), but as soon as I got home it hit me – it’s the PERFECT little tray to keep my dish soap, hand soap, and kitchen sponge corralled! It keeps everything neat and together, and most importantly, it covers the stupid hole in the countertop meant for a sprayer hose. We removed the hose a few years back because it wasn’t functional and we had installed a faucet with a hose built in, and the hole has been driving me absolutely bonkers ever since. I had it covered with a little metal cover for a while, but I couldn’t put anything on top of it without being lopsided, so I eventually took it off and just placed my soap directly over the hole…but I still knew it was there and I hated it. This little tray makes me practically forget all about it. Get it here.

2. Salt WellIMG_2633Another impulse buy from Target – big shock, I know. I always knew salt cellars LOOKED pretty, but I didn’t realize how much easier they make things – I use kosher salt pretty much exclusively when cooking, and the only practical way to do so is to grab a pinch with your fingers and sprinkle it on (much like salt bae). Honestly, I don’t remember what I even did before this little guy – did I just take the salt directly from the huge carton? I don’t know, but I keep this little bowl right on my stove and it makes cooking a pinch (see what I did there?). Get it here.

3 & 4. Mid Century Planter & Artificial PlantIMG_2630This one’s a twofer, although I don’t always keep them together – I grabbed this Nate Berkus planter on clearance from – where else? – Target one day, and the cute little artificial succulent is from Ikea. I have the blackest of black thumbs and although I buy real succulents pretty frequently, they usually don’t make it more than a few weeks. This little artificial guy looks pretty darn real, and is cute as all get out. Similar stand here; similar plant here.

5. Lunch ToteIMG_2632For the longest time (we’re talking years), I brought my lunch to work in a variety of efficient, yet classy grocery bags. I always felt a little embarrassed and unprofessional doing so, but I could never seem to remember to pick up a reusable lunch tote. Until one day, I grabbed this adorable little fella while waiting in line at Old Navy, and the rest is history. It’s just your basic lunch tote – nothing super special about it, but the bright yellow graphic makes me smile every time I look at it. I can never seem to find these online, but they’re always right by the register in the store. These also come in pretty cute patterns.

And now…Two things I thought I needed, but ended up being duds.

1. Spoon RestIMG_2627I know a lot of people (probably most people) use these, but I just don’t see the point…I insisted on buying a really pretty one from Anthropologie, but since it’s so pretty, I hate to get it dirty. Which…is kind of the whole point. Even after buying this, I pretty much always rest my dirty cooking utensil on a paper towel, so this just sits on my stove collecting grease. I throw it in the dishwasher once a week or so, put it back, and there it sits. Pretty, but pointless (much like Kylie Jenner – zing). If you’re so inclined, you can grab a similar (actually, cuter) one here.

2. Passport CoverIMG_2628This one pains me, because I was SO excited to buy it (I bought this one for me and a brown leather one for Jeff right before our honeymoon) and it’s SO pretty, but it’s really more of a hassle than anything. Have you ever tried to use a passport in a passport sleeve? Does. Not. Fly. (Literally!) The TSA makes you remove it, so I always end up taking my passport out and carrying it around the airport naked, and then I just have an extra thing to lug around. But…I still use it, because it’s pretty, damn it. You can snag a similar one here.

 

 

Happy Friday

Happy Friday, friends! We leave for vacation next Thursday, so we’ll probably keep this weekend pretty low-key. Work gifted me some VIP tickets to a local minor-league baseball game for tomorrow night, so we might check that out if the weather’s nice. Other than that, I see a lot of lounging, probably some cleaning, and possibly a pool day in my future. I also downloaded “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” by John Berendt last night – it’s a novel about Savannah, and my mom insists that I read it before arriving. Apparently there are tons of landmarks and even a few people still around the city that she all but guaranteed we’d see at some point. So I’m going to dig in to that as well – possibly poolside! Have a fantastic weekend!

Midnight_in_the_Garden_of_Good_and_Evil_cover

 

Love to Barcelona

It’s hard to prioritize any of the horrible things happening in the world recently, but since we were in Barcelona almost exactly one year ago, at the exact spot this most recent attack took place, this one really hit home for me. My heart goes out to everyone affected, and of course to all of those affected by the atrocities taking place in Charlottesville (and everywhere else) as well. I pray for much needed healing.

barcelonastreet

 

 

 

Gyro Bowls

In my attempt for us to eat healthier, I decided to whip up a spin on one of my favorite foods – the gyro. But instead of pita filled with (delicious) greasy lamb, I decided to go the bowl route, and sub out the lamb for turkey meatballs (I have a bit of a love affair with turkey meatballs).

gyro

If I do say so myself, it turned out pretty darn tasty…I almost actually prefer the meatballs to lamb, and I barely missed the bread at all! And you guys – I LOVE me some bread, especially pita or naan! I riffed off of this recipe, with the following tweaks:

-Instead of beef, I used turkey (duh)…I also cranked up the broiler for the last couple minutes in the oven to add some color

-Instead of couscous, I used red quinoa…after the quinoa was cooked, I stirred in the juice of one lemon, a drizzle of olive oil, a handful of sliced kalamata olives, and plenty of salt and black pepper.

-I swapped out the parsley in the tomato cucumber relish for cilantro. Not quite as authentic perhaps (let’s be real, any “authenticity” in this dish is pretty much out the window), but I’m a cilantro freak. I also added a bit of lemon juice.

That’s about it! Super easy, healthy and yummy…I can’t wait to polish the leftovers off for lunch! I’m going to try to post more recipes here…mostly because I always forget which recipes we really enjoy, so I’ll be able to use this as somewhat of a reference. Stay tuned!

 

My Grocery Essentials

I may be in the minority here, but I LOVE grocery shopping. I seriously look forward to my weekly shopping trip. It’s my little Friday afternoon ritual: after work, I head up 202 to Brandywine Town Center to complete my weekly errands. About 50% of the time, this includes a trip to Trader Joes, but it always includes a trip to Target (where I do most of my basic grocery shopping). Sometimes I’ll also supplement with a trip to Acme (if I need more in-depth ingredients), Branmar Liquors (just keeping it real), or Petsmart. I save the occasional Wegman’s or Whole Foods trips for weekends typically, since they’re a little further away and I tend to wander. After I do my grocery shopping, I pick up a pizza from Nino’s on Naaman’s road (where I won a year’s supply of free pizza…yup!) and head home for pizza night.

Although I fall victim to impulse buys every single week, I’m more or less a creature of habit and fall back on a list of essentials that I purchase week after week. These are my go-tos that I almost always have on hand (not including everyday essentials such as eggs, spices, and half-and-half, which I also keep on hand):

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  1. Trader Joe’s Smooth Salted Almond Butter
  2. Trader Joe’s Creamy Valencia Peanut Butter; Salted
  3. Trader Joe’s Whole Milk Vanilla Greek Yogurt OR Fage 2% Plain Greek Yogurt OR Siggis Vanilla Skyr (I switch back and forth – I’m a bit of a yogurt addict, and also often buy novelty yogurts like those Chobani Flips and various flavors of Noosa, which I’m obsessed with)
  4. Trader Joe’s Dried Tart Montmorency Cherries
  5. RX Bars (assorted flavors; I also like the kids’ version because they’re smaller and better as a snack size)
  6. Starbuck’s Medium Roast Iced Coffee (I’ve tried fancier, “better” brands as well as cold brewing my own, and I just love the flavor of Starbuck’s for some reason.)
  7. Trader Joe’s Multigrain Slims OR Arnold’s Mutigrain Sandwich Thins (I use these as buns for turkey burgers or veggie burgers)
  8. Trader Joe’s Turkey Burgers (so good and inexpensive!)
  9. Trader Joe’s Cowboy Quinoa Burgers
  10. Frozen, salted edamame in pods (one of my favorite snacks!)
  11. Pre-sliced apples (I know, SO lazy…but I’m honestly so much more likely to eat them this way. I buy the real deal during honeycrisp season, though!)
  12. Sargento Pepperjack Thin Slices (again, for turkey/veggie burgers)
  13. Trader Joe’s Teeny Tiny Avocados (The perfect size…I’ll often use half an avocado and let the rest rot in the fridge, and these prevent me from wasting)
  14. Canned Black Beans
  15. Trader Joe’s Frozen Roasted Corn (the version with the cotija cheese and zesty sauce is AMAZING as a treat)
  16. Feta cheese crumbles
  17. Parmesan Cheese (I usually like to keep a whole wedge and grate as needed, but I’ll occasionally buy pre-grated)
  18. Halo Top/Enlightened (various flavors, but my favorites are the Enlightened Cold Brew Coffee or Butter Pecan, or Halo Top Cookie Dough or Peanut Butter Cup)
  19. Some type of fizzy La Croix style water (I love the OG La Croix – Lime and Cherry Lime are our favorites, but so many flavors from different brands are popping up, and I change it up pretty frequently)
  20. Dark Chocolate Squares (I like to keep these on hand to kick the random chocolate craving…my favorite is Ghiardelli Sea Salt Soiree)
  21. Lundberg Salted Brown Rice Cakes (this is the only brand of rice cake I’ve ever actually liked…a co-worker got me hooked on these, spread with almond butter)
  22. Larabar Bites; Chocolate Macaroon
  23. Rao’s Arrabiata Sauce
  24. Pre-rinsed Quinoa
  25. Instant Brown Rice (I know, I know…LAZY again. But it takes 5 minutes and comes out perfectly every time! Can’t beat that.)
  26. Ground Turkey (I’m not picky, but I try not to get the extra lean – it’s less flavorful and dries out too easily.)
  27. Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
  28. Cholula Hot Sauce
  29. A-1 Sauce (Our trashy addiction – Jeff and I will eat A-1 on pretty much anything. We especially love it on Turkey Meatloaf Muffins…I’ll post the recipe someday soon)
  30. Cilantro (I’m a cilantro ADDICT…I’ll often replace parsley in recipes with cilantro)
  31. Lemons and limes
  32. Broccoli (I often buy it pre-cut…again, LAZY! But the mess it makes when you chop it makes me twitchy)
  33. Baby Spinach
  34. Van’s Fire-Roasted Veggie Crackers (addictive!)
  35. Bananas (to freeze and make banana ice cream or the occasional smoothie with – this is the only way I eat them)
  36. Red Onions
  37. Garlic (though I usually don’t need to buy this – Blue Apron sends an entire BULB for EVERY RECIPE that includes garlic, so I’m usually swimming in it)
  38. Whole-fat Coconut Milk
  39. Edy’s Outshine Lime Fruit Bars (specific to summer)

There you have it! Whatever else I buy depends on what dinners I have planned for the week, or which impulse buys catch my eye. As you can probably tell, I’m very “snacky,” and tend to be drawn towards Mexican or Mediterranean flavors (I also do a decent amount of middle-eastern/Indian cooking – Jeff’s very into anything curry/coconut based, and loves things served in a bowl). What are your weekly essentials?