Un-Boring Salads

thefreshexchange-camillestyles-156Yesterday I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, Things Cooks Know, and the topic was “Un-Boring Salads.” I was so excited to dive into the episode – I eat salad for lunch several times per week because it’s easy, cheap and healthy to throw something together and store it in our office fridge, but if I don’t mix things up a bit, eating salad can get old really fast. Over the summer, I found three heavenly recipes for salad that you just must try. They have been in heavy rotation since I discovered them, and they’ve awakened a creativity in the cooking compartment of my brain, encouraging me to try out equally yummy and interesting veg + fruit combinations. Check out the recipe links below, and let me know if you have any delicious salad recipes that I need to try!

Raw Broccoli Chopped Salad via Camille Styles

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Strawberry, Quinoa, Spinach & Cashew Salad via Julia’s Album

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Tomato, Nectarine & Mozzarella Salad via Camille Styles

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P.S. Need something sweet for dessert after eating a healthy salad? On a whim I made these four-ingredient Nutella brownies last night and they are insanely delicious. They are my new favorite fast & satisfying treat!

Photo at top via Camille Styles, showcasing another salad I need to try: Kale & Sweet Potato Salad with Ginger Dressing

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Happy Valentine’s Day! I have always loved this sweet day, thanks largely in part to my mom, who always celebrates this holiday with gusto. She hosted heart-themed parties for me and my girlfriends when we were in elementary school, helped my brother and I craft the perfect valentines to distribute in our classes, and, to this day, creates thoughtful care packages filled with gift cards and chocolates from our favorite hometown shop to send to us. She instilled within us a desire to celebrate Valentine’s Day with all the loves of our lives, whether that be family or significant others or friends. This day has always been special to me and my family, and I hope you feel special all day long, too!

Now break out the bubbly and some sweet treats and enjoy some fun Valentine-themed posts from around the web!

This chocolate and wine-tasting outing looks like the most festive way to spend a day devoted to love. I want in next time!

I hereby vow to host a Valentine’s Day brunch to remember for my girlfriends someday, reminiscent of the fun parties my mom threw for me when I was young. I’m bookmarking this girly get-together to serve as my inspiration (those waffles!).

I love this post on three ways to style grocery store flowers. Trader Joe’s always has lovely, affordable blooms but I’m never quite sure how to arrange them. I need to put some of these tips to good use.

Here’s another promise: I will treat myself to a Valleybrink Road gift box someday, mark my words. They are so gorgeous and filled with all of the best goodies!

Even though James and I love to go out for dinner, especially when we’re trying new restaurants, we’ll be staying in tonight, enjoying take-out Thai and an ice-cold bottle of Champagne. I love that staying in on Valentine’s Day seems to be more of a trend these days – friends and family alike have been mentioning that they have the same plan, and the blogosphere seems full of people who have the same idea, too (this reference was my favorite – it sounds like I could have written it, even down to the fact that this is our first married Valentine’s Day!). Sometimes date night in is better than date night out, right?

Image via A Cup of Jo

Recipe Testing

3e4d4c12ece789356fcc9905169ffc7eRecently I’ve been devouring my cookbooks as though they were novels, poring over them as I lie in bed each night. I take notes on which treats I want to try and, as a result, we have been cooking a lot lately. Reading my cookbooks has also inspired me to try out all of the recipes I’ve bookmarked online over the months (okay, let’s face it, years). We’ve discovered so many new kitchen staples, so I thought I’d share some of my favorite recipes that we’ve tried here. Nearly everything we’ve made has been a winner! Some are from those delightful cookbooks I’ve been pawing through (like The Forest Feast), and others have been gems discovered online. Take a peek at the list, and let me know if you try your hand at making any of these recipes yourself!

From The Forest Feast:

From It’s All Good:

From The Sprouted Kitchen:

From The Blogosphere:

  • Oven-Baked Chicken with Lemon & Thyme – Cooking chicken has always intimidated me, for some reason, but now I have a go-to method for making chicken that creates a flavorful, delicious, and juicy outcome. You must incorporate the lemon and thyme for extra special flavor that will have you coming back for seconds.
  • Soba Noodle Salad with Ginger Peanut Dressing – This is delicious and light, and it gets better each day that it’s left mingling in the fridge. I really liked taking this to work for lunch for several days in a row.
  • Green Detox Smoothie – I crave this delicious blended concoction on a daily basis and, as a result, have been enjoying it every morning for breakfast. I was scared of using the spirulina at first because it smells terrible but you can’t taste it at all and the superfood’s benefits are mind-blowing. The pomegranate seeds on top are a must – they are so yummy!
  • Thai Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes – So much flavor! We ate these while I was cleansing so the sweet potatoes were perfect but the chicken mixture would be good on top of anything – rice, quinoa, noodles.
  • Chicken & Poblano Chili – If James had to pick a favorite from the bunch, I think this would be it. This chili is hearty and packed with great spicy flavor. (The original recipe calls for turkey, which would probably be delicious, too.)
  • Chocolate-Dipped Peanut Butter Cookies with Pretzels & Toffee – I mean, DELIGHTFUL.
  • Egg Muffins with Vegetables – Great for breakfast on the go.
 Image via The Everygirl

Camille Styles Entertaining

Camille Styles EntertainingOver the weekend I had the pleasure of meeting Camille Styles at her book-signing party in Dallas, and, as expected, she was just lovely – genuine and bubbly and so nice to be around. I have always loved reading her blog because it’s so chock-full of excellent, creative content, beautiful visuals, and lots of resources for things to do and places to eat in Camille’s hometown of Austin, one of my favorite places to visit. I was so excited when I learned earlier this year that she was publishing a coffee table book. (Fun side note – our wedding planners arranged all of the flowers for her gorgeous book!) The final product is just beautiful, and like the blog, it is filled with fun ideas for making every day one that is not only worth remembering but also, most importantly, worth celebrating. I love this excerpt from the book where Camille writes,

“So while I’m not always successful at it, I do my best to seize the day and let the beautiful items I own bring me joy right this minute instead of waiting for a ‘worthy’ opportunity. We all deserve to be surrounded by beauty, and if something breaks, it can be fixed; if it’s lost, it can be replaced. Even if your spending an evening solo eating Chinese takeout, set the table with real dishes, pour yourself a glass of wine, and savor a good meal. It’s moments like these that set us on a path toward living the life we dream of – a life in which we’re respecting our bodies with nourishing food, nurturing our souls by making time for our passions, engaging our senses with beauty, and expressing our love to family and friends by inviting them to create memories together.”

I’ve gathered so much inspiration from within the book’s pages, and I can’t wait to put Camille’s tips into practice!

Mondays

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Even if you love your job (like I do) and even if you consciously attempt to express and practice gratitude at every chance you get (like I do), Mondays can still be shrouded with a cloud of gloom. Weekends are just so delicious, after all, making the Mondays that follow them a little hard to swallow.

Like I mentioned yesterday, I was inspired by Camille Styles’s post about looking forward to Mondays instead of dreading them, so I tried item #1 on her list: schedule a lunch date at a fantastic spot with a darling friend. I woke up so excited to spend time with Heather and catch up over a midday meal at CBD Provisions. After some meetings, calls, and e-mails, I headed to the Joule Hotel, the chic spot that houses both CBD and Weekend Coffee, the latter of which, as you know, I have been dying to try. I was a bit early so I popped into the coffee shop for some journaling and a cappuccino (which was the best I’ve had in a very long while – so creamy and delicious), enjoying the beautiful space and the tasty caffeinated beverage (pictured above on that super cool wooden tray, which, of course, now I want). I moved along to CBD to meet Heather and her adorable baby boy, Finn, for lunch, and we caught up over spicy quinoa bowls, which were unbelievably good. The entire adventure was the perfect midday treat, and the whole experience – spending time with a great friend, exploring a new place, enjoying delicious goodies – gave me such a great boost, motivating me to accomplish my tasks for the rest of the day, a goal that can be tough every afternoon but especially on Mondays. I’m thinking that this kind of special event could become a permanent fixture in my game plan for Mondays to come…

Week & End

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Happy Sunday! How has your weekend been? Mine has been so relaxing and lovely. Kyla (and her sweet Scottie, Franklin) came over on Friday night and we drank crisp, cold white wine while making a splendid dinner of bruschetta and spinach salad. We took our pups for a walk, had long talks, and reveled in one another’s company. There’s nothing sweeter than a night in with a best friend, is there? The rest of this weekend was spent savoring relaxation, free time, and air conditioning – the summer heat has finally descended upon Texas, so it’s been nice to post up indoors and get a few projects done.

If you’re in an evening blog-reading mood, enjoy some fun links!

The photo above, documenting my enjoyment of both coffee & tacos at my favorite spot, is a tribute to the blog’s namesake, of course, and an image from Mom & Dad’s visit to Dallas, which I’ll post about soon! While we didn’t eat at Good 2 Go Taco this weekend, James and I did just get back from dinner at Taco Joint, another spot that we love. The restaurant just opened its third location a mere 1.5 miles from our house, which we are very excited about. We love their tacos, queso, and salsas (especially the jalapeño ranch dip).

I really liked the post on Camille Styles’s blog about creating ways to look forward to Mondays. I tried one of the tips and made plans to meet Heather tomorrow for a lunch date at CBD Provisions. It’s helping a little, but I do find myself wishing the weekend could linger on. However, I did love this quote from the post – it was so poignant and worth taking to heart:

“Let’s face it: life is too short to hate 1/7 of the weekdays! Instead of bemoaning that it’s ‘another Monday,’ practice a spirit of gratitude for another day to live life to the fullest and be your very best self.”

Kyla and I made this blueberry sugar cookie crisp for dessert on Friday evening and it was delicious (James and I are still living off of the leftovers, paired with vanilla ice cream, of course). I’ll post the full recipe on Tuesday!

Have you visited Rifle Paper Co.’s website since they launched their new design? It’s so gorgeous that I want to live in it, and it makes me want to buy a bunch of paper products (like the passport pocket notebooks, all of the greeting cards, and the paint strokes weekly desk pad).

Allison lent me her copy of The Vacationers and I devoured it this weekend, finishing the entire book in two days. It was so good and so well-written. I highly recommend it!

Week & End

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The weekend is here! I am so excited to be heading to Colorado this evening for a weekend trip with Erin, Karli & Becca! Last year we spent time together in Cambria, California (where the photo above was taken), and I know this weekend will be full of similar goodness to what we experienced during that trip – great food, lots of laughter, plenty of adventuring, gorgeous scenery, and, of course, free-flowing wine. I can’t wait!

Have a great one, and enjoy some fun links from around the interwebs!

This perfect picnic post made me want to whip up some treats, gather up a blanket, and head to a park with husband & puppy for some afternoon relaxation. I’m putting this on my summer to-do list, definitely.

This interview with Fred Armisen & Carrie Brownstein (of Portlandia fame) is not new to the internet but it was new to me, and I laughed out loud several times while reading it. Seriously, the last question about the ATM – how did those two get so dang funny?

This rental house in Costa Rica is actually a dream come true. Who wants to book a trip, stat?

I really like this short little questionnaire with Kate Arends, the blogger behind Wit & Delight. I love her sense of style so it was fun to get a sneak peek into her life.

I loved this Besties feature on Camille Styles’s blog – I was particularly inspired by both girls’s comments about their passion for Christ & their faith. I also super love these watermelon swim suit bottoms that Kate was wearing – adorable (I mean, seriously, paired with that chambray top – s’cute).

P.S. My newest post about creating your own backyard oasis is up on Darling Magazine’s blog!

Week & End

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Friday already?! I guess time really does fly when you’re cooped up in the house for a few days – once I got back into my routine after I started recovering, I feel like I blinked and each day was over in a flash. What’s on your agenda for this weekend? Tomorrow James & I are going on a Stand Up Paddleboarding adventure at White Rock Lake with some friends (preceded by breakfast tacos and followed by margaritas), and then I’m heading to Victor Tango’s for a birthday dinner to celebrate my dear friend Kristen. James & I embarked on a major closet clean-out last week, and we’re nearly finished – I think on Sunday we’ll have just the time we need to conclude the decluttering process. It feels so good to be organized and not weighed down by so much stuff, don’t you think?

Have a great weekend and enjoy some fun links from around the web!

I saw the poster above on Bri Emery’s Instagram this week and I wanted it for our house (the reminder is so, so good and I love the color scheme)…then, lo and behold, I discoverd that it’s available for free in Yield Design Co.’s shop – FOR FREE, PEOPLE! All you have to do is pay $2 shipping. What are you waiting for?!

I have been longing to check out two fabulous-looking new(ish) coffee shops in town: Weekend Coffee & The Wild Detectives. I need to hit up these spots soon (and very soon).

I love this peek into the refrigerator of Courtney McBroom (of Momofuku Milk Bar fame).

As a celebration of the closet-clean out (I seriously got rid of so many shoes – I can’t wait to sell them at our garage sale), I figured that these gorgeous Joie sandals had to find their way into my collection (thanks, Mom!).

Got a birthday coming up but not quite sure how to celebrate it? Consider donating your special day to Touch A Life. In lieu of gifts, ask your loved ones to support Touch A Life’s work in Ghana. Host a party so you can celebrate your birthday and thank your family & friends for their giving spirits!

Image & poster via Yield Design Co.