Thursday, May 30, 2019

Recipe Round Up: A Review of the New Recipes I Tried in May 2019

I didn't get to many recipes this month. Life was just busy with some travel thrown in there so I was kind of making do with whatever I had!  But I do have a few things to share with you - both a recipe and then a new frozen meal I tried out.

Easiest Salsa Verde Chicken (slow cooker or instant pot) from Skinnytaste.  I needed to make something with chicken that was hands off, and since I already had a jar of salsa verde in the pantry, this was the winner!  It was beyond easy to throw together, and perfect for multiple meals.  I used chicken breasts, and only half of the jar of salsa, and cooked it on low for what ended to be about 5 hours (the recipe called for chicken tenders and on high for 2 hours), and think it worked out well.  The meat actually seemed to get better as it sat, which makes it great for meal planning - something to cook on the weekend and heat up during the week, or to eat on for lunches throughout the week.

*Above I wrote shortly after I made the chicken the first time.  I ended up making this recipe a second time, using frozen chicken breasts and cooking them all day while I was at work.  I made a few tweaks - increased the garlic powder and cumin, and left out the oregano.  I think I liked it even better the second time!


CAULIPOWER Pizza.  This isn't a recipe, but instead a frozen pizza  I tried.  Caitlin from Southern Curls and Pearls recommended it, and I had been interested in giving a cauliflower crust pizza try.  I saw it at my local grocery story, and grabbed one to try.  Well, it wasn't my favorite.  And the amount of ranch I ate with it probably made it just as unhealthy as regular pizza, haha!  Some cauliflower things I enjoy, like the cauliflower gnocchi from Trader Joe's, but I just could not get on board with this.  I think I like regular crust so much, that I couldn't get over the cauliflower crust.  I did try just the cheese, so the veggie or pepperoni may be a better option, but overall, I think I will stick to regular pizza!

Any must try recipes you made this month?

Linking up with Penny


Wednesday, May 29, 2019

What's Up Wednesday: May 2019

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning that any clicks/purchases may result in a small commission at no additional cost to you.

May has been A MONTH, that is for sure!  It's been good, but it's also been busy, and honestly I am just ready for June to be able to relax some.  

What I'm eating this week...
So big news, I have a grill!  I love grilled food, but haven't had an outdoor grill for a good 5+ years - I missed it.  And I did have a grill pan, and it has served me well over these last 5 years (and will continue to do so on those too cold or even too hot days) I am excited for some cooking out.

So this week, I am basically eating all the grilled food from cooking out on Monday - hamburgers and grilled chicken.  Oh so simple to reheat and just add a veggie or two to make it complete.   

What I'm reminiscing about...
Being back home - I miss it!

What I'm loving...
My flowers this year - I came home from the long weekend and it was like everything had really filled out!

What I've been up to...
The first weekend in May started off right, with taking half a day from work to indulge in a long lunch at a new restaurant.  That weekend also a work day for some ladies at church - we are putting together kids for Days of Girls, and then the night ended with a fun taco night with friends to celebrate Cinco de Mayo! (post here)
It's a bold statement, but these wings were probably the best I have ever had!

I had a bit of a rough day earlier this month (it just seemed like things kept going wrong, and wrong and wrong, haha!), and to help cheer myself up, I listed some things that always make me happy.  Sometimes remembering those little things (plus a glass of wine and some Chipotle) can really make a difference. (post here)

I shared a trick that has been keeping me from having that dreaded 'did I leave my straightener / curling iron on?' thought each morning.  And I also shared some new favorite pjs.  (post here)

I had a pretty low key weekend, which was much needed after a busy week at work.  I did check out the neighborhood garage sales, though, and found some great stuff! (post here)

I shared my annual flowers post mid month - it includes all the flower pots I planned this year...and are they looking good! (post here)

I had a fun weekend with a morning / afternoon full of shopping - Target and my favorite antique mall.  Both had great stuff! (post here).
 


We just ended the long weekend, and boy was it a good one!  I went to my third Indy 500 and had a blast.  The whole weekend was a whirlwind, but it was full of family and fun, which you cannot beat.  (post here)

What I'm dreading...
Nothing, really!

What I'm working on...

This month I decided I wanted to switch things up with my monthly goals (post here).  Along with regular goals, I also wanted to set some habits...so things that reappear enough month, so that eventually they become a habit.  I can't say May was a perfect month in this regard, but I am working on it!

What I'm excited about...
Checking out the neighborhood pool.  I didn't make it to the pool last year, but I am hoping I will have plenty of days to take advantage of it this summer.

What I'm watching...
Not as much TV as normal, haha!  But when I do, it's all the usual suspects.  

What I'm reading...
Sunset Beach by Mary Kay Andrews.  She is one of my favorite authors and her books make the perfect beach / pool read.

What I'm listening to...
Sirius XM - they are offering free XM radio through the end of the month, so I will be enjoying that for the next few days.  My favorites stations are the 50s on 5, 60s on 6, 70s on 7, Classic Rewind and Classic Vinyl.  

What I'm wearing...
I rounded up my very favorite spring / summer shoes on the blog earlier this month, and all these shoes have been getting pulled out this month. (post here)



What I'm looking forward to next month...
A trip to New York, weekends at the pool, and my nephew's baptism!

Linking up with ShayLindsay and Jessi.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Weekend Recap: 103rd Running of the Indy 500

Hey all!  Happy Tuesday.  I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend.  Mine was a whirlwind, but oh so good.

Friday, I high tailed it out of work to head to my parents.  It was a relatively uneventful drive, thank goodness.  When I am not in a rush, one of my favorite things to do is exit the town before, and take the highway home.  It also works out because they have been doing some road work, and this is a great way to avoid it.  But the reason I love doing it, is because there is something so nice about getting off the interstate, and take the more scenic, slower paced highway.  Once I hit the highway, I rolled down the windows, turned up the radio and just took a deep breath.  Work has been really busy lately, and once I hit that road it just seemed like some of the weight had been lifted and it was time to really start the weekend.
at a stop sign, getting ready to turn to go into town

My dad grilled us some burgers, cracked open a few beers, and we had a nice dinner before watching the Ted Bundy movie with Zac Efron on Netflix, and then calling it a night.

The next morning we got up and made our way to Indianapolis.  After another uneventful drive (thank goodness, again!), we made it to my brother and sister in law's.  It was so nice to see them and my nephews - I can never get enough of them.  We had a relatively quiet day - my dad and brother worked on some house stuff, my sister in law and I ran a few errands, and then we had a pizza picnic for dinner.

Sunday was the main event - the Indy 500!  I started going with my dad and brother a few years ago, and it has become a yearly tradition.  All Saturday we thought it would end up being rained out, with the weather they were calling for, but other than rain on the way there, the day turned out to be clear and they were able to get the race in.  We always forget what time we leave each year, but it worked out because I was able to look at last year's blog post to check, haha!  We actually ended up leaving a bit later than planned (4:45), but it totally worked out - there was no traffic at all, and the parking lot we wanted to get into was pretty empty!  We think it was probably due to the weather though - people may have been holding off to let the storm pass, and to see what the rest of the day had to bring.  The cannon went off at 6:00, and shortly after we headed towards the speedway.

We made our way in, checked out our seats (my brother upgraded our seats this year and they were SO good), and hit the shops.  My nephew loves Indy cars, and we were on the lookout for a few specific ones.  Unfortunately, they didn't have any Colton Herta cars, which I was hoping to get him.  The last time I was visiting, my nephew and I decided that my favorite racer would be Colton Herta.  He's new, and they don't have a ton of merchandise for him.  We did pick up a few things, then stopped by the pagoda to take some pictures.  We did more shopping and finally found some Colton Herta swag.  My nephew loves stickers, so I got him a decal, which he was pretty excited about.  








After we were loaded up with stuff, we stopped for breakfast, which was an Indiana staple - pork tenderloin sandwiches.  And washed those down with a beer, as one does when at the Indy 500, haha!  With full bellies, we headed to our seats to watch all the pre race stuff.  

Our seats in the past have been good, but as I mentioned earlier, my brother upgraded us and we were able to be closer to the pagoda, which ended up putting us right behind some of the pits - so neat!  We were also higher up, which allowed us to see so much more.  


Purdue marching band

the trophy!

 
lining up the cars

Matt Damon & Christian Bale

letting out the balloons

It was finally time for the race to start - Kelly Clarkson sang the national anthem again this year, and Matt Damon and Christian Bale waved the green flags.

The race itself seemed super eventful compared to the two others I have seen.  Right off the bat Colton Herta was out, unfortunately.  Then there was a lot going on at the pits - people were having car issues, one of the drivers bumped a tire which then hit a pit person - that was scary - another drive clipped another car, someone hit the wall - like I said, a lot going on.  By the time the race was ending, almost all of the pit stands in front of us were for cars out of commission.  There was a crash with I think about 20 laps left - thankfully no one was hurt, but they pulled the red flag to get that cleaned up.  When they started again, it got really exciting.  The last few laps were Simon Pagenaud and Alexander Rossi going head to head - one would pass, and the next lap the other, and so on.  I was rooting for Alexander Rossi, but in the end Simon Pagenaud pulled out a win.

the cars coming around




My sister in law posted this picture of my nephew on instagram, and IndyCar commented!  



side note - my sister in law is a realtor if you are in need of one!

We managed to avoid pretty much all race traffic heading out, and then got ready to head on back to Illinois.  I road back home with my mom, since I didn't get to spend that much time with her over the weekend.  It was nice to catch up!

I was up first thing Monday morning to make it back to St. Louis.  Since I headed to early I missed what I am sure was terrible holiday weekend track, and gave myself some time to relax before the work week.  The weather was nice, so I made it outside for a short run.  It's been ages since I ran and although it was a very short run, it was nice to get outside.  

It's still early afternoon as I type this, and on deck for the rest of the day is grilling out (I got a grill!).  Let's hope this goes well.

Hope you all had a great weekend and are having a terrific Tuesday! 

Thursday, May 23, 2019

My Go To Spring & Summer Shoes

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning that any clicks/purchases may result in a small commission at no additional cost to you.

Today I thought I would talk about one of my favorite things...shoes!  My love for shoes runs deep.  Those and bags are two of my weaknesses.  I will often need some new clothes, but end up with new shoes instead, haha!  I have quite a few favorites for the spring and summer, and thought I would round them up in one post.


1.  Vince Camuto Breshan Ankle Strap Espadrille Wedge.
These shoes are ones that I purchased earlier this season.  Jacqueline from Stylin' in St. Louis shared them, and after thinking about them for awhile, I finally decided to get some for myself.  When I first tried them on, I was a bit unsure.  They kind of reminded me of toe shoes, because they are a bit heavier at the front.  I ended up keeping them, and each time I wear them, I love them a bit more.  They are super comfy, and I love that they are good for the warmer weather, but are closed toe - perfect for those days when my nail polish isn't looking 100%.

2.  Native Jefferson Shoes.
These shoes were another recommendation, this time from Lindsay at Lindsay's Sweet World.  They are so comfy - I can see why everyone recommends them for kids!  Easy to slip on and off, easy to wash off, super comfortable...and of course, super cute, too.  I ended up buying mine off the Native website, but they also sell them on Zappos, Amazon, and at Nordstrom.

3.  Treasure & Bond Sannibel Platform Wedge Sandal.  
I bought these last year, and was excited to break them out again this year.  They are really comfy, and super cute.  They have expanded on the colors this year, and even have a leopard print.  These wedges are popular for reason!

4.  Vince Camuto Corlina Ankle Strap Sandal.
To switch things up for work, when the temps get warm, I often trade in my trusty Calvin Klein pumps for these ankle strap sandals.  Mine are actually the version before these, that have the more slender heel, but I did just get these with the more block heel in silver for my cousin's upcoming wedding.  Pretty much seem to be the same, with the exception of the heel - both comfortable and well made!  And not only are they great for work, they look super cute with jeans for a night out, or even for a more dressy occasion, like a wedding.   

5. Sam Edelman Gigi Sandal.  
I have had these sandals for years now, and they are my go to when I want to wear a flat sandal.  I have them in silver, but always loved the nude color.  Both go with pretty much everything!  The sole has a bit more cushion than other flat sandals, which makes them a lot more comfortable. 

6.  Birkenstock Essentials Arizona EVA Waterproof Slide Sandal.
I have a knock off version of these from Target, but I still have my eye on the real deal in navy blue (although I wish they would have made the buckles navy, too, instead of black).  I like mine for the pool or beach, because they are more substantial than flimsy flip flops.  And they are great with casual look, too! 

7.  Sperry 'Authentic Original' Boat Shoe.  
I discovered boat shoes back in college, and I still have a deep love for them all these years later.  I have multiple pairs, but the one I reach for over and over again is my braided pair, which they no longer have.  The color and style is the same as those linked / pictured, and those will definitely be my next purchase, because mine have seen quite a bit of wear and are starting to show.  These shoes are beyond comfortable, and I think they go with everything - one of my favorite ways to wear them is with dresses.

That pretty much covers all the shoes I will be (and have been) reaching this spring and come summer.

Did I miss any of your favorites?

Linking up with Penny.        

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Storm Sirens & A Blues Win

Hey all!  I had a different post planned today, but last night's weather put a little kink in my plans.

While still at work, I heard rumblings of the 'terrific' weather we would be having that evening.  They actually ended up cancelling the Cardinals' baseball game early on in the afternoon, given what was being forecasted.

I got home a bit later than normal, and soon after, the sirens started going off.  I was pretty much glued to the TV screen for the rest of the night.  

Thankfully, what they said was the worst of it, and what looked to be a tornado ended up going north of me, but we still had crazy rain and winds.  The sirens kept going off the majority of the evening, although they did have me confused, because it seemed like by then, everything had moved east.  Either way, I was prepared with my light, phone, iPad, and glass of wine in case I needed to head to the basement.  

That pretty much sucked up the night!  So thankful it wasn't worse, and for those that did get the bulk of it, I sure hope everyone is ok!

I did catch the end of the Blues game - they were just on fire last night!  And secured a spot in the Stanley Cup finals.  If I heard correctly, it's been a good 49 years since that has happened, with some close calls in there.  Even though my loyalties usually lie with Chicago teams, you can't deny the excitement here in St. Louis - Let's Go Blues!

Tomorrow I will have the post originally scheduled for today, which will be all about my favorite spring and summer shoes.  Have a great day!

Linking up with Lindsay.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Weekend Recap: New Patio Chairs!

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning that any clicks/purchases may result in a small commission at no additional cost to you.

Hey all!  A weekend recap coming at you a day later than normal.  I just didn't get my act together Sunday night between seeing a movie, and of course, the Game of Thrones finale.

But rewinding back to Friday...I headed out of work and immediately popped open a beer, haha.  It was just one of those weeks.  And goodness, does an ice cold beer hit the spot sometimes.  It was a pretty eventful night, and I was just so enjoying the fact that it was the weekend.

Saturday I was up early, and decided to knock out some yard work before the day got too warm.  There were so many darn weeds, and a few bushes that needed trimmed.  I was happy to get it out of the way and back to looking good.  I also sprayed on the Round Up to certain areas, in hopes that it would help manage the weeds a bit more!  I also watered my flowers, and they are look gooooood (full flower post here).  It's amazing how just in a few days they have really started to fill out.

I had some errands to run, and headed to my first stop, Trader Joe's, shortly after it opened.  I know am kicking myself for not picking up some peonies, but I did get a really pretty mixed bouquet.  I used to think fresh flowers were a bit wasteful, and more for special occasions, but now I really love having a vase full at home.  And honestly, if I am good about changing the water, they can sometimes last upwards of 3 weeks, which I think is pretty good! 

Next up was Target.  Two patio chairs caught my eye, but I wasn't sure if I really wanted to grab some or not.  I figured, I could think about it and then just order them online.  Well, when I went to look for them online, they were more expensive, and it showed they only had them in stock in stores - not available for delivery online.  At least in my area.  So I ended up going back for them.  The current chairs I had are from IKEA, and while they are still good chairs, I wanted something more comfy.  Sometimes with arms, and a cushion.  Everything I had seen was so expensive, and at just over $80 a pop, these seemed like a great deal.  And they were comfy!  I was hauling them up front, when the nicest sales associate went and grabbed a flat cart for me, and even wheeled them out to load in my car.  Talk about service!

I ended up stopping by the antique mall on the way home, and I am so glad I did.  They were having their warehouse sale, and it's pretty much like a treasure hunt - everything is all piled in these little areas, and things are super set up like in a normal booth, but you can find some goodies in there for sure!  I walked away with a Shiny Brite box, a little rooster dish, and a basket tray...all for $7! 

All in all, Saturday was a really good shopping day!

Sunday was church, then laundry, and then the movies!  I finally saw the Avengers movie...my thoughts were that it was good, but kind of lacking.  I understand why they ended it how they did, but I still wish it had been a bit different.  The Game of Thrones finale was a bit like that too...just kind of anti climatic.  Lots of silence and walking, haha.  I wanted more!  I think that is to be expected though - you get so invested in a series, whether it be a book, or a movie, or a show, and you want things to end a certain way.  And if they don't you feel kind of let down...even if the endings are still good and ultimately make sense.

Hope you all have had a good start to the week!    

Linking up with Erika.    

Friday, May 17, 2019

Friday Favorites: Home Hack, A Cute Top, Books & Flowers

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning that any clicks/purchases may result in a small commission at no additional cost to you.

Happy weekend!  I am so glad to see Friday.  What I am most excited about right this moment is not having to set an alarm for tomorrow morning.  Gotta love that!

Considering I just woke up from a little cat nap on the couch, and my eyes are already drooping again, this post is going to be relatively short and sweet.  

First up, is a 'hack' that I posted about last year.  You can see the entire post here, but basically, I keep a utility bag in my trunk, and then when I run to the grocery store, or Target, I put my bags in the utility bag to haul into the house.  Saves me from having to make multiple trips, and is a whole heck of a lot sturdier than those plastic bags sometimes.  I did this on Sunday grocery shopping, and it just reminded me how this simple bag makes my life a little bit easier.

I finally bought this fun blouse from Amazon I had been seeing everywhere online.  And I love it.  I was a bit worried about sizing, and just the quality of the top overall, because some of the reviews aren't that great.  But, I went one size up, and it fits perfectly.  I can't wait to wear it!

 Earlier this week, I shared my May Book Review, and my annual May Flowers post.  I haven't gotten much reading in this week, but I am hoping to log some quality time with a good book (or two) this weekend.  And while my flower pots are still looking great, I definitely need to spend some time on my landscaping.  So many weeds!

Hope you all have a great weekend.

Linking up with WhitneyErika and Andrea.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

May Flowers: 2019

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning that any clicks/purchases may result in a small commission at no additional cost to you.


It's time for my annual flower post.  Since college, my mom has helped me put together a pot of flowers to put by my front door, or when I lived in my apartment, on my balcony.  

Last year at this time, I was still in my apartment, waiting to close.  I didn't want to lug full flower pots over to my condo, so I wanted until I moved before those came together.  It was a lot later in the seasons, so pickings were slim.  We still pulled together some nice looking pots, but I was excited when this year rolled around to get them early, with allllll the flowers and plants to choose from!

I always end up picking one main color, which this year was white, and complimented it with a pop of red and purple, and lots of green.

Given how much more space I have now, I have a lot more pots than I used to, which I love!  

This year, I got two new tall flower pots for by the front door.  I have some hedges the line the sidewalk, and how they are set, you pretty much can't see anything below them.  The terra cotta pots I had last year were kind of invisible unless you were right up at the door, hence the need for new ones.  I picked up these black ones (20 inch) from Target, and they are the perfect height.

Recycled Square Tapered Planter - Smith & Hawken√Ę„¢ - image 1 of 6
In these pots (and most of my others), I went with the 'thriller, filler, spiller' method.  

Thriller - Spike
Filler - Begonia
Spiller - Vinca Vine


In the back, I have three different areas with pots.

By the back door, I have the exact same combination as the front door.  

To change things up, I did another pot full of just begonias by the stairs.

Then, in my grouping, I added the pops of color.

In the large pot I did the same method as the ones flanking the doors, but changed up the begonias for red geraniums.  My mom has always had oodles of geraniums in her pots during the summer, so not only are they pretty, but they also remind me of home.

The medium size pot got another pop of color, but this time with purples (Mexican Heather).  I love red and purple flowers together, and this one is so pretty and delicate.  Really adds a nice color, and texture, too!

The small pot got Superbells in white - these compliment the white begonias I have elsewhere, and are super hardy.

 And that rounds out my yearly flower post.  I just love how it all turned out!

If you are looking for more flower inspiration, below are my posts from years past.


(I am still obsessed with this color combination - the purples are so pretty!)

(The prettiest coral-y begonia I ever did see.)

(This one takes you step by step through the planting process, too!)

Linking up with Lindsay.


Tuesday, May 14, 2019

May 2019 Book Review

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning that any clicks/purchases may result in a small commission at no additional cost to you.


Blue Dahlia by Nora Roberts.  This is the first of the In the Garden trilogy by Nora Roberts, and of the three, it was my favorite.  You get love, a ghost, and some mystery, all sent in what I imagined to be the prettiest nursery you ever did see.

When Never Comes by Barbara Davis.  This was an intriguing book - it really makes you wonder how well you know some people!  I liked this story, but after a bit, felt like it dragged on a bit.  Some parts just seemed like they could be shorter, or things could have been done faster, and I don't think anything would have been taken away from the story. 

Black Rose by Nora Roberts.  The second book in the In the Garden trilogy.  I was surprised that this character's story was second - I thought she would have been the focus of the third book, but I know certain aspects of the story needed to be set up earlier.

Red Lily by Nora Roberts.  And the final book in the In the Garden trilogy.  I loved how the titles were flowers that played a part in the stories.  Again, I thought for sure this story would have been in the second book, but I did love how everything was wrapped up at the end!

Fat Tuesday by Sandra Brown.  This wasn't my favorite Sandra Brown.  It was another I am pretty sure I had read before, but didn't remember until I was already started.  I started it when I was still in my reading funk, so put it down, read some books in between, until I finally finished it.  It was ok.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.  I know I am super late to the game on this book.  I was on the hold list with the library FOREVER for this one.  When I finally got it, I just decided to buy it myself, given all the praises around it, and because of the Amazon gift card burning a hole in my account.  I will be honest - I thought it was good, but I think maybe my expectations were too higr after hear only good reviews about it.  Sometimes the main character made me mad with the things she did, but overall it was a good book.  And I absolutely loved the ending - did NOT see that coming at all!

Every Breath by Nicholas Sparks.  If I had to pick one book to recommend out of this bunch, as much as I love Nora Roberts, I would pick this one.  I loved it.  So much.  To me it was classic Nicholas Sparks.  I was hooked in the beginning, and all the way through.  I should have had a box of tissues next to me though, because I just cried and cried and cried...and cried some more.  I think part of the reason could have been that I finished it one a day where I was more emotional than normal, but really, the story just gut me, too.  I wish there was more of an epilogue - he starts and ends the book with letters from him, and in the last later talks about how he had written another chapter, which talks about the 'after', but ended up scrapping it.  But in my mind, I was like nooo that's what I want to read.  Really, though, just a good book! 

Linking up with Steph.