Charleston Trip and Restaurant Recommendations

Thanks to my parents who kept Davis and Kenan, and our sweet friends and hosts, Patrick and Maureen, we were able to spend a wonderful weekend in Charleston!  Todd had been traveling for work since last Sunday.  First he went to Arizona, then to Charleston. I met him there on Friday, and we spent some time with our friends who we hadn’t seen in a while.  Todd’s co-worker’s wedding was there on Sunday, so it was a perfect weekend to combine that with a getaway.

On Friday our friends took us to dinner at Red Drum in Mt. Pleasant.  We each had fish dishes, and they were delicious!  Maureen and I are both 18-19 weeks pregnant, so we called it an early night. :)

Patrick took us kayaking and paddle boarding on Saturday morning.  Those are some of mine and Todd’s favorite activities, so we were in heaven!  The weather and conditions were beautiful, and it was such a relaxing time.  I spent a few minutes silently talking to God and thanking Him for allowing us this life that we love so much.

kayaking in Charleston, SC

So far, bikinis are more comfortable than one-piece bathing suits, so I’m just rocking the bump! 

Later that day we grabbed lunch and headed to the beach!  It was plenty hot to sit on the beach, and we even swam in the water.

weekend trip to Charleston, SC

He may not appreciate me posting this, but it’s too good not to. ;) 

That night Todd and I went on a date to The Obstinate Daughter on Sullivan’s Island, and then out on King St for ice cream at Jeni’s (our first time) and a cocktail (water for me) at Macintosh.  I will never ever be bored with dating my husband!

Flash-Fried Shishito Peppers with Chipotle Dip; Brussels with Farro (I skipped the farro); (gluten free) Short Rib Pasta – all so delicious!

Jeni's Ice Cream

From left-right: Salty Caramel; Brown Butter Almond Brittle; Bourbon Salted Pecan; Roasted Strawberry Buttermilk

Sunday morning involved brunch at Poogan’s Porch, and a walk around downtown Charleston and the Battery.  It was our first time eating at Poogan’s Porch, and it was a fun experience.  The restaurant is charming, and overall the food and drinks were yummy!  I had a vegetable frittata with fennel topped with a baby kale salad, with a side of grits.  Todd had the chicken and waffles, which looked amazing.

18 weeks pregnant bump picture; brunch in Charleston

18 weeks pregnant; Charleston trip

We couldn’t stop mentioning how perfect the weather felt!

Todd’s co-worker was getting married that afternoon, which is one of the main reasons we made the trip.  Her wedding was outside beside the water, and it was very picturesque.  If you’re looking for a wedding or event venue around Charleston, it was the Creek Club at I’On in Mt. Pleasant.

wedding attire for wedding; 18 weeks pregnant

my dress (only $52, and also comes in patterns and a creamy white)

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I also wore this ring from Asos all weekend – I’m kind of obsessed

wedding at Cross Creek Club in Charleston, SC

wedding at Cross Creek Club in Charleston

We arrived back home around midnight last night, and finally got to see our favorite boy bright and early this morning!  As much as we loved the time away together, we truly missed Davis!

Friday Favorites

Long time, no see!!!  I did not intentionally take a break from blogging, but it has really been so long.  Life has simply gotten a little crazy (planning several events, computer issues, etc etc), and I haven’t made it a priority!  But I am hoping to start a new pattern of blogging again.  Because I really do love it, and I love this community. :)
I’m happy to be linking up with April, Natasha, and Christina; Karli; Erika, Narci, and Andrea for Five on Friday, Oh Hey Friday!, and Friday Favorites.

ONE: Last weekend we celebrated Sarah‘s 30th birthday!  On Friday night we met Sarah and Jeremy out for drinks and dinner…Fahrenheit then Roosters – yum!  Then Jeremy surprised her with a brunch on Saturday morning with lots of family and friends!

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I made the decor for the brunch.  I wanted to incorporate Spring colors and flowers, pictures, and a little gold.  For the centerpieces I bought some ceramic pots from the dollar store, spray-painted them gold, and filled them with soaked flower foam.  I found sticks in the yard, then added lots of flowers from Trader Joe’s around them.  I asked everyone to send me pictures with Sarah, and we hung those pictures from the branches.

Spring flowers

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Sarah’s friend, Kristen, made some custom sugar cookies for everyone to take home, and they were perfect.

custom sugar cookies for a girl's birthday

TWO: I went out to run errands one night this week once Todd was home.  I really needed a pick-me-up, so I drove through Starbucks for my new favorite drink.  Sarah introduced me to the shaken iced passion tea.  I get it unsweetened, and it is delicious!  Well, when I pulled up to the window, the guy wouldn’t let me pay!  He appreciated that I was nice to him, because he had had some really rude customers previously.  It was so kind, and really made my day. :)  It’s the little things, you know?!

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THREE: We have a couple weddings coming up, and I always get so stressed about what to wear.  (silly, I know) I just ordered this dress from Nordstrom for a wedding in May, and I am hoping it will work!  I love the colors and pattern.  It also comes in a couple solid colors and another pattern.  I have some sandals similar to these that I’m planning to wear as well.  And maybe my royal blue clutch?

patterned maxi dress from Nordstrom

dressy black sandal

FOUR: I also recently ordered a few things from Old Navy during a 40% off sale.  I need some new basic tan sandals for running around.  Shoes under $30?!  Such a great steal. Honestly, they had so many cute things, and I had to limit myself.

peplum chambray tank

I bought those double-strap sandals, but I think I may need to exchange them for those fun gladiator sandals (currently $26!!!) below!

Old Navy flat brown faux leather sandal

flat brown gladiator sandal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FIVE: Easter is about to sneak up on me…I have done one little thing for Davis’ preschool class, but that’s about it.  I need to work on his Easter basket, put out my bunny decor, plan menus, and of course make sure we spend time as a family discussing the real reason for Easter.  I’m hoping to dye eggs as a family, and I love this idea from Shop Walk In Love!  You dye the eggs, then use a Sharpie or paint pen to add designs, inspiration, Bible verses, etc.

Shop Walk In Love; fun way to decorate Easter eggs

Happy Friday!  I’m so happy to be back working on this fun little space…I forgot how much joy it brings!

THE GOOD LIFE BLOG

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Peanut Butter Banana Blender Muffins (Gluten- and Dairy-Free)

Getting out the door before school or a play date or swim lessons or church or errands with a 3-year-old, and all the stuff that moms require, takes me forever!  I’m sure all of your households are a little hectic before the work or school day starts as well.  I typically make smoothies for breakfast, and the guys often add granola (that I’ve made ahead of time) to theirs.  But sometimes it is nice to have something homemade and healthy that is more grab-and-go.

gluten free blender muffin

This smoothie had: large handful spinach | 1/3 cup frozen raspberries | 1/4 cup frozen pineapple | 1/2 frozen sliced banana | 1 Tbsp chia seeds | probiotic | 1/2 tsp maca powder | 1/2 cup coconut milk | 1/3 cup water | 1 Tbsp raw almond butter 

These muffins from Making Thyme for Health are gluten-free, dairy-free, and the only sweetener is pure maple syrup.  They are a good source of protein, and are perfect to make ahead.  I made mine in my blender and they were seriously quick and easy!  I am storing them in the refrigerator, by the way.

The only changes I made to her recipe, were leaving out the chocolate chips, and using unsweetened coconut milk instead of the vanilla almond milk.

gluten-free dairy-free peanut butter banana muffin

You should definitely make these soon!

Peanut Butter Banana Blender Muffins (Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free)

(Adapted from Making Thyme for Health’s Flourless Peanut Butter Banana Muffins)

  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 2 1/4 cup rolled oats (gluten-free)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk

Preheat oven to 350 and line a muffin tin with cupcake liners.

Combine all of the ingredients into a blender or food processor.  Blend until the oats are close to finely ground and the batter is smooth.

Fill the cupcake liners 3/4 full.  Bake for around 20 minutes, or until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean. Let cool for 10-15 minutes, then serve or keep refrigerated.

Enjoy!  (I warmed one this morning, and added some salted Irish butter to it – DELISH!)

raspberry-banana-spinach smoothie; gluten free blender muffin

 

 

Friday Favorites

I am back for the link-ups this week!  I missed it last week, unfortunately, so I’m going to cram a lot into this post.

Hopefully you all have some nice Valentine’s Day plans this weekend.  My husband was extra sweet this year and planned a quick getaway to where we met and fell in love: Chapel Hill!  He got us tickets to a basketball game, and we are also meeting up with some friends from college. We have plans to walk around campus, because it is gorgeous and holds so many memories for us, so we’re just going to do our best not to freeze our tails off. ;)

I’m happy to be linking up with April, Natasha, and Christina; Karli; Erika, Narci, and Andrea for Five on Friday, Oh Hey Friday!, and Friday Favorites.

ONE: I found some healthier ideas for a Valentine’s breakfast with your family!  With sickness going around, the extra sugar from typical holiday treats is certainly not needed. Lower-sugar, heart-themed it is!

healthy Valentine's idea for kids

Heart Fruit Kabobs with Yogurt “Dip” from parents.com

healthy valentines food for kids

Heart-Shaped Potatoes, perfect for hash browns/breakfast potatoes! Or you could roast them!  From fraichenutrition

Love Toast; egg in a hole with a heart

Love Toast, egg-in-a-hole, heart-shaped. From Country Living

TWO: I found some pretty flowers at Trader Joe’s the other day, and I am hoping I can keep them alive!  I had to google how to care for them, because, you know, black thumb!  They’re called cyclamen, and came in small pots.  I bought 2 for $7!

Speaking of Trader Joe’s, did you all see my “What I Buy from Trader Joe’s” post?  I need to add to it, because I keep thinking of items I love!  And I received some awesome comments with suggestions of what else to try!

indoor flowers in a blue and white pot

THREE: I tried Juice Bar (the one on Park Rd) for the first time this week.  I met with a new friend, and she introduced me to all of the goodness that they offer!  We both had a slight cold, so we started with the Sniffle Stopper shot (lemon, ginger, cayenne, etc), then I tried a sample of Sweet Greens, Orange You Glad, and We Got the Beet.  They were all surprisingly delicious.  I chose Orange You Glad, and I will absolutely go back for more of everything!  I was certainly impressed.

Juice Bar; Orange You Glad

FOUR: I posted on instagram 2 whole weeks ago (see? catching up!) that I attended a culinary competition.  It was for students at Johnson & Wales University, and was sponsored by S&D Coffee and Tea.  They hold a 3-part competition for culinary students, and the winner receives a very significant monetary prize!  The judges, and mentors for the students, are prominent local chefs!  I sat at a table with some wonderful Charlotte food bloggers and writers, and we had a great time getting to know one another and tasting 2o different dishes!  The company and the food were both lovely.  The finale is in March, and I am looking forward to see which dish will win!  Here are some highlights:

food competition; S&D Coffee and Tea; Johnson and Wales University

(the food pictures are all iPhone shots; the bottom picture is from the S&D Coffee and Tea Facebook page)

FIVE: And a little home inspiration for this freezing cold Friday…pretty things always help lift our moods, correct?!  Todd and I have dreams of tweaking our kitchen a bit, including adding a backsplash.  Our house has a rustic feel, and I think a washed brick backsplash could be a perfect addition!

white-washed brick backsplash

homebunch.com

light brick backsplash in kitchen

source

Cheers to the weekend, and lots of extra love, everyone!  Happy Valentine’s Day!

THE GOOD LIFE BLOG

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Christmas Breakfast Ideas + LOFT Sale

I am behind on getting these blog posts published, so today is a two-in-one post!  I have a few breakfast ideas that would be great for Christmas morning, and I also couldn’t help but share that LOFT has everything 40-50% off online and in stores.  Holiday celebrations are still on the horizon, and I know I personally do not have outfits picked out.  I have my eye on several of these items myself. :)

I cooked a Christmas-themed breakfast for church this past weekend, which included Christmasy homemade pop tarts, a crescent breakfast wreath, and a fruit tray with Christmas colors and stars.  Add a mimosa to this menu, and you’re all set for Christmas morning!

Homemade Christmasy Pop Tarts: I tripled this recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction.  I have written about these before as well.  This time I made a little extra icing with just powdered sugar and milk.  Once the cinnamon icing was set, I drizzled on some of the white icing, then added Christmas sprinkles!  These can be made ahead of time!  The pie crust can be made and refrigerated well in advance.  You could even make the pop tarts and bake them, then freeze them without the icing.  When you’re ready to eat them, warm them in the toaster, then add the icing. 

homemade pop tarts; brown sugar cinnamon pop tarts; christmas pop tarts

For the crescent wreath, I mostly followed Jo Cook’s recipe.  The inside of my wreaths only had eggs, cheese, and bacon, and I garnished the tops with chopped fresh parsley and a bow cut out of a red bell pepper.  I also made this ahead of time!  I assembled the wreath, and refrigerated it overnight.  In the morning, brush with egg wash and bake for the recommended time.  I did adjust the temperature to 350 because my oven gets very hot.  This would be so perfect for Christmas morning!

Christmas morning breakfast ideas; crescent breakfast wreath

This fruit tray is not spectacular, but it does have a Christmas feel!  Shop for red and green fruit (and I added the blueberries for another touch of color).  Use a small star cookie cutter to cut pineapple stars!

Christmas fruit tray with stars

If you aren’t quite done with your Christmas shopping, or if you’re just looking for something cute to wear during the holidays, you need to check out the sale at LOFT!  The entire store is 40-50% off!! I’ve posted some of my favorites below:

That fringe sweater is SO cute! And I love the teal tunic blouse and pom pom hat.

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Clean Eating Lately

This post encompasses two whole months of clean eating ideas (well at least the meals that I snapped pictures of)!

As you’ll see, many of them have similar ingredients, because with clean eating, and eating seasonally, that’s kind of how it goes.  Currently we are eating plenty of kale, sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, eggs (typical), avocados, nuts (cashews, almonds, pecans), granola (homemade), cauliflower, squash (butternut and spaghetti in particular), apples, carrots, raw cheddar cheese, organic bread, parmesan cheese, chicken, wild-caught cod, and occasionally even bacon.

(We do our best to eat organic vegetables, especially the ones more highly affected by pesticides.  We also eat organic/free-range/grass-fed/wild caught fish and meat.  We have also started trying to eat raw cheese.  Almost all of our family meals are completely gluten free.  I do not spend a fortune – I buy chicken from Trader Joe’s or Costco, I buy frozen wild-caught fish and frozen grass-fed beef from Trader Joe’s.  For the bread, I buy it at Target, several loaves at a time, and freeze it.  I make almost 100% of our meals at home, so we don’t spend much money eating out.  I also try to prep food ahead of time, so that we can eat leftovers for a day or two, or so that I can eat those leftovers for lunches.  I really do not make complicated meals, though!)brussels sprout salad with apples and bacon

Shaved brussels sprouts, honey crisp apples, dried cranberries, chopped rosemary cashews and almonds (the rest were eaten on for a week as a snack), bacon.  I whisked some whole grain dijon mustard, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, and salt and pepper in with the bacon grease and used that mixture for the dressing.

clean eating fall vegetable salad; kale, beets, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, sweet potato, goat cheese salad

I posted about this salad in this Five on Friday post.  I roasted a bunch of Fall vegetables and made quinoa ahead of time, then used the leftovers on a kale salad for lunches throughout the week.  DELISH!

Tip: Rinse your quinoa before cooking.  Cook it in low sodium chicken stock instead of water to add more flavor.

roasted butternut squash soup with bacon and goat cheese

This is a version of the Butternut Squash Soup with Bacon and Goat Cheese from Damn Delicious.  I roasted carrot and celery along with the butternut, bell pepper, garlic, and onion.  I used 4 pounds of squash, 1 medium onion, 1 red bell pepper, 4 carrots, 3 celery stalks.  I loved this soup, and ate it for lunch several days after we had this for dinner.

The boys had their soup with grilled turkey and cheese sandwiches.

clean eating dinner; grilled chicken, grilled asparagus, grilled carrots

Todd was totally in charge of this dinner!  Marinated and grilled chicken, and grilled asparagus and carrots.

warm roasted sweet potato kale salad with caramelized onions and apples, balsamic glaze, pecans, goat cheese

This is a warm kale salad with caramelized apples and onions, roasted sweet potatoes, toasted nuts, goat cheese, balsamic glaze, and a tangy dijon dressing (I need to see if I can remember this recipe.  If I can, I’ll share!) healthy toddler food; healthy toddler meal ideas

Toddler food:

Top: scrambled eggs with spinach; strawberries and bananas

Middle left (Preschool lunch): blueberries; grilled cheese; cucumber with hummus; homemade pumpkin banana oat muffin

Middle right (Preschool lunch): organic apple sauce; muffins; Annie’s snack mix; cucumber; slices of raw cheddar

Bottom left (Preschool lunch): lightly steamed broccoli, then chilled, with hummus; Annie’s crackers; pineapple; grilled cheese (raw cheddar on organic bread, cooked in coconut oil)

Bottom right: I wanted to show what Davis’ plate looks like compared to mine and Todd’s…If we have a big bowl of things mixed together, I try and separate Davis’.  This one has roasted cauliflower, white beans, lentils topped with goat cheese, chopped avocado, and mashed sweet potato.

 

kale vegetable bowl with fried egg and avocado

We eat a lot of eggs at our house.  They are a great source of protein and good fat, they are inexpensive, and it is relatively easy to find eggs from a good source.  For the majority of the year, ours come from a local farm.  This bowl is a mix of lightly sauteed greens with leftover roasted veggies and potatoes, avocado, and a runny fried egg!  I think I added some sriracha to this as well.

I almost always add a spicy touch to my lunches.  I love a sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes, or salsa or sriracha.

egg, spinach, avocado sandwich on organic bread

Sunday lunch….scrambled egg with spinach, plus avocado, on toasted organic bread (mine was on gluten free bread).  This type of sandwich is a perfect comfort food for Todd and I.  And these are a few of Davis’ favorited things.

clean eating, eggs; eggs meal ideas

More eggs! Top picture is eggs with spinach, topped with hemp seeds; sliced avocado; white beans cooked in chicken stock and seasoned with dried thyme, salt and pepper.  Bottom left is a spinach frittata, beside roasted potatoes sautéed with chicken sausage, and avocado.  Bottom right are two kinds of frittata.  The ingredients consisted of any vegetables, roasted vegetables, and leftover sausage that I had on hand.

spaghetti squash recipes; healthy spaghetti

Spaghetti & spaghetti squash.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – spaghetti squash is one of my favorite Fall foods.  It is very versatile and healthy!  I like to cook mine whole, in the oven for about an hour at 350.  (It may take a little longer).  Take it out, let it cool a little, slice in half.  Remove all of the seeds and the dark yellow part (like the inside of a pumpkin).  Then use a fork and scrape the sides.  The spaghetti “noodle” part of the the squash will easily come off the sides.

Top: Spaghetti squash and mushroom “risotto”

Middle left: Sautéed spaghetti squash with mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes, black beans, parmesan

Middle right: Spaghetti (real pasta) with organic marinara sauce.  I browned grass-fed ground beef with onion and garlic, seasoned with some extra dried Italian herbs, and mixed it with the marinara.  Top with parmesan.

Bottom left: Cod, roasted carrots and broccoli, sauteed squash and veggie mixture with parmesan

Bottom right: Lots of vegetables in the middle of meal prep

healthy eating out; clean eating restaurants

Every once in a while, we pick up dinner to have at home.  And we occasionally go out.  These are two of my favorite things for Todd to pick up for us to have at home!  Sushi from Cowfish – the rolls I eat have to be gluten free so they are relatively simple.  Quinoa Avocado Bowl from Viva Chicken – amazing!

clean eating family dinner ideas; healthy family dinners

Dinners & lunches at home.

Top left: spinach salad with leftover roasted vegetables.

Top middle: Brussels sprouts salad from the top of the page with oven-roasted chicken and roasted cauliflower.

Top right: roasted turkey tenderloin with balsamic bbq sauce, roasted sweet potatoes, carrots, onions, and a lentil medley found in the TJs freezer section.

Middle left: salad with leftover bbq taco chicken (crock pot favorite), avocado, cucumber, salsa

Middle: roasted cod; sauteed kale; white beans; avocado (This meal was EASY and super healthy)

Middle right: leftover baked sweet potato with grass-fed butter; roasted brussels; roasted broccoli

Bottom left: leftovers from Thanksgiving: shaved brussels sprouts sautéed with sweet potatoes, apples, bacon, and a little whole grain mustard

Bottom middle: roasted carrots; roasted okra; white beans; lentils (cooked in stock, a little white wine, dried herbs, salt and pepper); chicken tenders breaded with a mix of almond flour, coconut flour, finely grated parmesan cheese and seasoned with garlic powder, salt, pepper, paprika…pan fried in coconut oil, and finished baking in the oven.

Bottom right: sauteed cod; roasted potatoes; roasted sweet potatoes; roasted brussels sprouts; roasted carrots

 

Erin’s Baby Shower

One of my dear friends, Erin, has been trying for a baby for many years.  She and her husband love the Lord, and are truly wonderful people.  They made the decision to adopt last year, and this summer, they were able to bring their BABY GIRL home!!!  Her name is Izzy (Isabel), and she is precious!

Three of us, Moira, Kate, and I, threw Erin a baby shower at my house a few weeks ago.   Erin loves Fall and cooler weather, so we wanted to incorporate some Fall details into her girly shower.  We did this with the natural-colored pumpkins and fresh flowers.  Here are some of the pictures and details from the day…

banner from torn fabric and burlap for baby girl shower

The prints above the mantle were a gift from us to Erin.  The first one has 1 Samuel 1:27 “For this child I have prayed…” and the other print has an “I” and says her name under it.  The banner was made by Moira, and is all torn fabric to match Izzy’s nursery!  She bought the burlap banner from Hobby Lobby (I think) and wrote her name on it with chalk. baby girl shower flower arrangements

My mom and I arranged the flowers at her house before the shower.  I bought some from Trader Joe’s, and then we went around her yard and cut plenty of branches, greenery, and flowers.

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Erin with Izzy, and Sarah with Ezra!  IMG_2513

Me with Kate, Erin/Izzy, and Moira.  I had such a wonderful time hosting with Kate and Moira, and we were honored to do this for Erin. IMG_2495

We have a chalkboard wall right outside of our dining room.  I do not have the greatest handwriting, but I LOVE the words in this verse.
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This was set up in my foyer.  Kate put together the print of a tree, and had all of the shower guests place their fingerprints on the tree.  Many people have prayed for Erin and Jason’s journey to be parents, and this tree shows her “framily.”  We also had bins to place addressed envelopes for Erin to use for thank you notes. IMG_2490

Menu:

  • Mimosa Bar (champagne and sparkling apple cider + mixers, including mango nectar; apple cider; blood orange juice; berry juice)
  • Coffee Bar (with chocolate-dipped spoons; pumpkin spice creamer + a special coffee mug for Erin that says “Mom est. 2015”)
  • Bagel Bar (everything bagels + plain bagels with smoked salmon, capers, homemade herb/garlic/lemon cream cheese, cucumbers, red onion, dill, parsley, lemon; cinnamon crunch bagels with homemade honey walnut cream cheese)
  • Pumpkin Spice Donuts
  • Yogurt + Granola + Fruit
  • Chicken and Waffle Bites

mimosa bar for baby shower

 

fruit water for baby girl shower mimosa bar Fall baby girl shower coffee bar

bagel bar for brunch

chicken and waffles for brunch baby shower brunch baby shower food pumpkin spice donuts for baby shower brunch food for baby shower