vegetable polenta bowl with honey chipotle BBQ sauce

Hello hello everyone! I feel like I have so much to tell you that has happened in the past month!

First of all, and most importantly, I started a new job with a real estate team that I have had my eye on for almost a year now, The Justin Landis Group. I am working as the assistant to an agent who is my age and absolutely killin' boo-tay in the real estate game. 

It's kind of a funny story actually. Last February my parents were getting ready to get their house on the market. During the process I met his listing agent and after some conversation and lunches I was hired as the assistant for his team. Come April, I was able to attend the closing for my parent's new house in Grant Park. There, I met the listing agent for that house, Ashton. I was immediately drawn to the idea of a large, young team who cared so much about their client's needs above all else and made sincere relationships with each of them. (Don't get me wrong, I loved the team I was on. But sometimes you just know when there is a better fit out there). Since April, I continued to keep up with The Justin Landis group through their website and Zillow and read all of their many great reviews.

After a year of a LOT of learning with my team and receiving my license, I decided it was time to take that next step and reach out to the team that I really saw myself being a part of. Long story short, here I am! An official part of The Justin Landis Group and assistant to Ashton Ernst, who is nominated for the top 30 under 30 for Realtor magazine (I told y'all she was kickin boo-tay did I not?) You can vote for her here, voting stays open until this Friday 3/24. Make sure to click on the box underneath that says "cast your vote" and not on the picture.

So far the job has been fantastic. Every day is different and exciting and I can't wait to learn as much as I can on such a great team. So now, I get to share with you guys our listings and things I'm learning and YOU send me your friends and family who are looking to sell their home. It's a fair trade. 

It's interesting how things seem to line up at the same time. The same month that I started my new job, 3 of my best friends started a new job as well. One of them being my roommate, who moved out last week because of said new job. And no, I don't want to talk about it. The ONLY good part about this is that she took some of her furniture with her...which I will miss but now I have an excuse to find and refinish some more pieces for the house, and that makes happy (so stay tuned for those). 

To fill you in on some other things in life & random thoughts in my head: the wedding planning for my sister has officially started.  After 7 months of nothing, she picked a date AND a dress. So proud. I rearranged my whole bedroom. I have been working a couple nights here and there bartending at a new restaurant in Grant Park called Mediterranea and it's delicious, please go try it out. Finnigan has somehow gotten fatter. I think I MIGHT actually be getting a new car soon which is beyond exciting. I joined a gym a month ago and have gone maybe 4 times. There's a terrifying possum who has been creeping around my house.

That's about it. Now let's get to some polenta.

As you know, I am a grit snob. A grit connoisseur. Let's say, grit enthusiast. But lately after working at Mediterranea, I have become kind of obsessed with polenta. I feel like I'm cheating on grits....but it's just sooooo good and does things that my grits won't do. They are smoother, easier to season, and great with any liquid you cook them in. 

You might be wondering why this bag of polenta says P. Pop's Polenta. Totally normal answer for that...my step mom started calling me Puddin' Pop and the name stuck. My dad has now started to call me Katherine P. Puddin' Pop (Katherine is my first name). They even introduce me to people as that soooo that's great. You may also be wondering why there is a spaghetti squash on my porch. That, I cannot answer. The Christmas tree stand is still on our porch too....am I coming off white trash here? Whatev. 

I decided I wanted to make a polenta bowl packed with yummy veggies & such and honestly just went with things I had already laying around and it turned out great. This would also be really good with some kielbasa sausage or maybe some shrimp. But I'm going to be totes honest with you here and I'm not exaggerating when I say...this is probably the best meat-free meal I have ever made. The secret's in the sauce and we'll get there. This could also be a great vegan meal as well if you omit the cheese.

Let's start with the veggies.

I am ashamed to say I hated cauliflower as a child. I clearly never had it roasted BC it is THE JAM.

Same goes for brussels. Now when I roast brussel sprouts I literally eat them like chips.

I still struggle with sweet taters TBH. I can't eat just a plain, baked one. Must be roasted!

I put the veggies on a pan with some olive oil and seasoned with salt n' peppa. Roasted in the oven at 400 F for 40 minutes, turning half way through. 

While those veggies were going, I started on the kale and onions. I start with the onions in a saute pan with some olive oil and let those get a little soft, then add the kale and chicken broth (vegetable broth if you're going for full vegetarian), and let them cook down.

Sometimes instead of adding multiple different seasonings, I just season with one that has a mix of a bunch. This is my favorite. Great on everything. Spaghetti squash makes it's second appearance.

Next I sliced up some of these sweet cute lil peps for about 5-7 minutes until they're soft and charred. Season with salt and pepper.

Two things constantly lurking around me. Finnigan and spaghetti squash. 

Mmmmm mmmm gooooood. I would have really loved if mushrooms could have made it to the mix but the ones I had said peace out early and went bad. If you have them, I suggest using them.

For the polenta itself, the ratio is 4 cups liquid to 1 cup polenta. I used chicken broth but again veg broth, water, cream, whatever you like. Bring to a boil and then simmer uncovered and stir frequently, about 40 ish minutes, until all liquid is absorbed. Season and taste as you go and at the last minute add in parmesan chzzzz.

Now, as I promised, the sauce. I personally have never made a bbq sauce before so I looked up a few. I knew that I wanted it to be a little spicy, a little sweet and a lotta smoky. The recipe I found is perfect and you can find it here. Be aware, this recipe is for chicken so there's a lot of additional ingredients you won't need there. You'll pretty much just need shallots (I used onions), olive oil. water, ketchup, honey, apple cider vinegar, chipotle chili powder, and dry mustard. I ended up popping it into a food processor when finished to smooth it out.

Y'ALL. I AM NOT KIDDING YOU. THIS SAUCE IS MADE FROM THE HEAVENS. I would literally just eat it plain. Out of a bowl. BBQ soup. And I would lick the bowl with no shame. 

Scoop the polenta into a bowl, top with veggies, drown in the sauce, and thank me later.

After I ran out of the vegetable leftovers, for the next 2 days I just ate parmesan cheese polenta with the BBQ sauce.


INGREDIENTS:

-1 cup polenta
-5 cups chicken broth, divided
-1/2 cup parmesan cheese
-7-8 large brussel sprouts, cut into 4ths
-1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
-1/2 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
-1 bunch of kale
-1/2 yellow onion
-7-8 mini sweet peppers
-1tsp Adobo seasoning
-1/4 cup minced shallots or onions
-1/2 cup ketchup
-2 tblsp water
-1 1/2 tblsp honey
-2 tsp apple cider vinegar
-1/2 tsp dry mustard
-1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
-olive oil
-salt and pepper
 

1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
2. Chop up the brussel sprouts, cauliflower, and sweet potato. Coat in 1-2 tblsp olive oil, 1tsp salt and 1/2 tsp black pepper. Place in oven and roast for 40 minutes, flipping half way through.
3. Wash and chop the kale and dice the onion. Start the onion in a pan over medium high heat with some olive oil and cook until soft, 5-6 minutes. Add the kale and 1/2 cup chicken broth. Let this cook down, then add another 1/2 cup broth as the liquid absorbs. Season with 1tsp Adobo seasoning. Taste and add more if needed.
4. Slice sweet peppers. Cook in olive oil and season with a couple dashes of salt and pepper, don't need too much here. These peppers are delicious as they are. 
5. For the polenta: add 4 cups broth and 1 cup polenta in pot and bring to boil. Simmer, uncovered for 40 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed, stirring frequently. Season with salt and pepper and taste as you go. At the last minute, stir in parmesan cheese.
6. For the sauce: heat olive oil in pan, add onions until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in ketchup, water, honey, vinegar, dry mustard, and chipotle powder. Reduce heat to low and let cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
7. Scoop polenta into bowl, top with veggies, top with sauce, and enjoy :)

And that's it y'all. Don't forget to vote for Ashton!! 

salmon tacos with avocado cream, lime romaine slaw & pickled red onions

Do you know what day it is? TACO TUESDAYYYY. It's one of those little things that help early on in the week. Monday - The Bachelor. Tuesday - tacos. Since I'm trying to be healthy I paired these bad boys with baked kale chips. 

When I made these tacos, I was not planning on making tacos. I was looking in my fridge and thinking GOOD LORD I have so much food in here that I cannot let go to waste so wtf am I going to do with it.

This is when I liked to play my own version of Chopped in my kitchen. 

For those of you who have been living under a rock for the past 9 years, Chopped is a competitive cooking show where 4 contestants have 4 basket ingredients and 20 minutes to make something delicious. If you don't make the cut, you will be CHOPPED.

Now obviously, I have endless amounts of time and ingredients (more than 4) that not a total shock to me. But whatev. I can pretend.

 

Basket ingredients:

  • leftover salmon
  • greek yogurt (1 small container)
  • avocado (about half)
  • lime juice from 1 lime
  • couple handfuls romaine lettuce
  • half bunch cilantro
  • handful pickled jalapenos
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 3 tbslp sugar
  • 3 corn tortillas
  • bunch kale
  • olive oil
  • sea salt
  • parmesan cheese

I started with pickling the red onions. For this, I followed a specific recipe that you can find here. I have tried a few pickling recipes and this one is awesome. Will stink up your kitchen a lil bit but WORTH IT.  I let those sit in the fridge while I made everything else. 

Next I started the kale chips. This is another online recipe I went with that you can find here. I chose to look up a specific recipe that had good reviews, because I have attempted to make kale chips on my own a couple of times and failed miserably....srlsy so bad. But these were delish.

I diced up the romaine lettuce so it was shredded and added it into a bowl with cilantro and the juice of about half a lime. Season with salt. Go ahead and taste it at this point, if you like it more limey add more lime! More cilantro-ey, add more cilantro! No rules in Chopped. Except get everything on the plate. And don't forget an ingredient. And don't cut yourself. And do not mess with Alex Guarnaschelli.  Anyway...

For the avocado cream I put the greek yogurt, avocado, more cilantro (also use some stems here, they have great flavor and blend nicely), juice of half a lime and a few diced pickled jalapenos into a food processor and blended together. It wasn't tasting like I wanted to so I added more cilantro and poured some of the juice from the pickled jalapenos in as well (they would TOTALLY do that on Chopped amiright?). Set aside. 

The salmon I had was from the night before and I had just baked it. I cut it up into pieces and sauteed it SUPER quick in a pan just to get it heated but not cook it anymore than it was. 

Heat a little bit of oil in a pan and heat the tortillas, a minute or two on each side.

Layer up! Tortilla, avocado cream, salmon, romaine slaw, diced jalapenos, pickled red onions, & cilantro.

Pair with kale chips :) 

I'm gonna be totally honest with all of you and toot my own horn a lil bit here...but for not having a set plan this might be one of the yummiest tacos I have ever made. Not sure if it would pass the test of Aaron Sanchez but I think it would at least get me to round 2. I will definitely be making again.

Tuesday Tunes: had this song on repeat. S'good. Listen here.

new year, who dis?

Helloooooo and Happy New Year!!!! I have not blogged in 3 months. THREE. MONTHS. Who am I?!

Let me give you a little recap of what has been going on in my life the past 3 months.

October:
-took the Real Estate exam online courses
-this was pretty much my life...
-halloween came and went
-stress eating from studying

November:
-literally had no life for 2 weeks studying for my school exam
-passed school exam (woo!)
-literally had no life the next week studying for state exam
-did not pass state exam first attempt :(
-Thanksgiving Oyster Roast
-too much eating & drinking
-back to no life
-passed my real estate exam (WOOOO!)

December:
-lots and lots of eating
-Christmas in Brookyln and then Boston
-more eating
-drinking
-too much eating and drinking

January so far:
-New Year's Eve
-drinking and eating all day long New Year's Day

Monday after New year's Day: holy shit I can't move. I'm done. I'm so done. 

These past few months have been stressful, crazy, and filled with (as you can see) so much food and drinks. I could actually FEEL my body asking me to just chill, more than I ever have before. I was feeling swollen, my skin was looking dehydrated, my stomach was not acting right, and I just had to do something about it.

I have tried a cleanse 2 times in my life. The GM diet...it's very strange. First day fruit only but no bananas, second day starts with a baked potato and then vegetables only, third day fruits and vegetables, fourth day beef and tomatoes and milk, fifth day cabbage soup.....I can't even remember the rest. I tried it in college when I thought I was fat from putting on weight after high school (HA! That idiot). I did lose about 7lbs but gained it back very quick.

This time around, I was not looking to lose weight. To be totally honest, I think I actually lost a couple pounds from stress and not working out. On top of that, I stopped focusing on my weight a while ago. That really doesn't matter to me as much as how I feel. I wasn't even thinking about doing something for any physical results. I genuinely just wanted to give my body a break from everything. But I also wanted to keep it short. I started looking up some different cleanses and detoxes and found this:

This is Dr. Oz's 3 day juice detox. You can find it here.

I thought this would be a good start since I have never done a juice cleanse before. 

The morning starts with green tea with lemon and stevia. I omitted the stevia because I actually don't like my tea sweetened (People who know how sweet I take my coffee are probably rolling their eyes at this). 

Of course the night before my cleanse I slept HORRIBLE. Mayyyyybe 3 hours total. So I woke up absolutely exhausted and dying for coffee, but ALAS could not have it. The morning drink is my favorite, it's pretty similar to the morning smoothies I make anyway so it wasn't much of a change. Bananas, raspberries, lemon, spinach, flax seed, and almond butter (not pictured).

I noticed that the mornings all three days were the easiest. After this drink, I felt REALLY full. 

Around lunch I started feeling crazy hungry. I noticed every single restaurant I drove by, smelled every single smell. It didn't help that I had had to go into Whole Foods (Heaven) to get vitamins and probiotics. The smells in there were UN. REAL. I thought I was going to pass out. The smell of Mac n Cheese is wayyyy stronger when you aren't allowed to eat it.

 I don't know about you but some of these ingredients just do not look very appealing to me. Celery, green apples, cucumbers, kale, lime, pineapple.  Also has some coconut oil and a little bit of almond milk. 

I'm not quite sure how to describe the consistency of this one. Mealy maybe? Reminded me of the consistency of gazpacho so maybe it was the cucumber. I realized that for the next two days I would feel full after these drinks, but not satisfied. It's an interesting feeling. Eating to sustain instead of to enjoy. Sometimes I had to convince myself that what I was drinking was as good as I would like it to be.

MmMmMmMm see?? Soooooo goooooooood......

The first night I had the dinner drink I really liked it. Blueberries, mango, avocado, flax seed, kale, lemon, and also coconut water and cayenne. The second night, I could barely get through it. I noticed an hour had gone by and I had only had a few sips. I realized that I really do not like coconut milk and the cayenne was too intense. Instead of forcing my way through it, I made another one without the cayenne and used just regular water. 

In between lunch and dinner you can have another juice drink of your choice. Other parts of the cleanse are a daily detox bath with epsom salts and lavender oil as well as taking a multivitamin and probiotic. 

How I Felt:

Day one, I was so exhausted from lack of sleep that I think it actually distracted me from not eating. I couldn't tell if the things I was feeling were due to the cleanse or sleep deprivation. I went to sleep at 8:30 and slept a full and much needed 11 hours. And again, full but not satisfied. I was craving salt pretty bad. 

Day two, I really felt the "detox symptoms". Apparently, you're supposed to prep for a cleanse. I did not do this. The symptoms I felt were feeling light headed and worn out, irritable, and every night I got a headache like clock work around 7pm. Things I was craving big time: wine, coffee, ramen noodles and Jimmy Johns (both of my guilty pleasures).

Day three: I can't remember the last time I woke up feeling that rested. I slept for two nights in a row without waking up once, that rarely happens. I woke up actually NOT craving coffee....what?? Crazy talk. By about 8PM, I was over it. I was seriously thinking about going to bed then just so I could end the day sooner and way up to eat eggs. Things I was craving: protein. Eggs, chicken, salmon, etc. 

What I did for exercise:

They recommend that you work out at least 30 minutes but I kept it light: yoga, walking, using my 2lb baby weights (love those things tbh). 

What I realized during this cleanse:

I. LOVE. FOOD. Like I am actually obsessed with it. I thought I would crave the after-work wine the most but I really didn't. I just thought about food. All the freaking time. I watched more Food Network in three days than I have in 3 months. Chopped, Cooks vs Cons, Beat Bobby Flay....I don't know why I did this to myself. I easily could have avoided anything food related but I couldn't stop. Torture right?!? Didn't care. It was all I wanted to watch.

On top of this, I went Pinterest CRAAZZZYYY. I made a whole new board just for healthy/skinny recipes and pinned almost 200 already.

AND I went through my cookbooks and turned down pages of recipes I want to try. I was basically just drooling for 3 days. Am I a masochist? Maybe I am. 

Overall, it was tough but I felt much better afterwards. My stomach felt better, my skin looked better, and I felt well rested. Plus my mind was geared towards more healthy foods. Sometimes I have to take a break to really think about what I'm putting in my body. I would definitely recommend it to someone feeling the same way after the holidays. 

Finn.jpg

One other thing I learned, cats do not give AF about your cleansing. 

Check out my new Pinterest board here.

New Year means New Tunes. The Marcus King Band. I saw them the other night at Terminal West and they were incredible. Check them out here

 

autumn vegetable soup with sausage - & prepping for fall

It's tiiiiiiimmmmeeeeee! 

It is finally that time of the year that every single basic bitch in the world has been waiting for. I'm not gonna lie to you...I don't consider myself all THAT basic. Until Fall. I may or may not have asked for pumpkin syrup in my americano yesterday.....

By the end of summer I usually just feel kind of angry. It's like when people get winter depression, I get summer madness. I start to go crazy from the heat. I don't even want to leave my house and just feel overall in a shitty mood. Especially when it's technically "the first day of Fall" and it's still 90 degrees outside it just makes me livid. The second that it cools down though... it's a complete 180. I work from home a lot, it's so nice to work on the porch or with the windows up and A/C off. And then I get super excited and I start pulling every fall decoration out of my attic and look up every Fall soup recipe in Pinterest known to man and record any and every Fall/Halloween movie on my DVR. 

Some of the immediate things I do early October (trying to stick strictly to Fall here and not Halloween....just yet):

Fall candles are always a first. I actually caved around mid-September and bought a candle called "harvest" but refused to let myself get anything yet with the word "pumpkin" in it. Now it's October, so anything goes. I got "Mulled Cider" and it's da bomb. 

quotes.jpg

^Not kidding, I had 3 separate people tag me on this on Facebook and Instagram. And it's so true. 

Decorating for Fall is one of my favorite things to do. Again, I try to stick mainly to Fall/Harvest and not get toooooo into Halloween yet. Though I do have a bottle of "Zombie Zin" on there..

Other things I do every October is break out some of my favorite Fall shows, movies, and music.

I started listening to this album OBSESSIVELY around this time 3 years ago, so it always reminds me of the season. I go on a She and Him binge every year around this month. 

Binge watch Gilmore Girls on Netflix. The greatest Fall town of all time: Stars Hollow. I unfortunately was convinced that the new GG on Netflix came out this week...it's not until November 27th. Whatev. There is nothing better than a lazy Sunday with the windows open, a pumpkin candle lit, something in the crockpot, and listening to Rory and Lorelai talk way too fast for hours on end. 

Movies: Practical Magic. Of course. It does involve witches so I guess it is a little Halloweeny...but it's not Hocus Pocus or Halloweentown (might have watched this last night oops).

I refuse to watch Hocus Pocus until it cools down a little more, I have bought a pumpkin, my house is covered in spider webs and I have a bowl of Taco Soup in front of me.

And speaking of soup.....the thing I do the most often in October is cook Fall recipes! Which is what brings me to: Autumn Soup with Sausage and Veggies. 

Main 2.jpg

The main contenders. Mmmmmm yasssss so pretty. 

And, of course, my favorite ingredient that's so beautiful it needs its own platform: kale.

Ingredients:

-1 link of kielbasa, sliced
-1 yellow onion, diced
-2-3 carrots, peeled and cut into circles
-2-3 stalks celery, diced
-1 small bag of precut butternut squash
-a handful of baby dutch yellow potatoes, quartered
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1 bunch kale, stems removed and torn into pieces
-1 can cannelini beans, rinsed
-5 cups chicken broth (I prefer Pacific)
-2 cups water
-1 tsp salt
-1/4 tsp black pepper
-1 tsp oregano
-a dash nutmeg
-a dash turmeric
-1 bay leaf
-olive oil

Instructions:

1. Start a little olive oil in a dutch oven and add the kielbasa over medium high heat, cooking until browned, about 5 minutes and then set aside.
2. Add the onion, celery, and carrots (the Holy Trinity - seriously the best smell ever) and cook until soft, about 5-7 minutes. 
3. Add the sausage back in. Stir in the squash, potatoes, garlic, salt, pepper, turmeric, nutmeg and oregano. Mix together.
4. Add kale onto mixture. I like to give the kale one more little sprinkle of salt. Then add the chicken broth and water. 
5. Using a spoon, push down the kale. Bump up the heat a little bit so the kale will wilt into the water. Bring to a light boil.
6. Once the kale has sunken into the liquid, turn on low. Stir in the beans and add the bay leaf.
7. Simmer for 45 minutes, remove bay leaf and serve right away!

YUM. E.

If you're feeling super festive, which I usually am, you can eat your soup out a skull mug:

I highly recommend the skull mug. Happy Harvesting!!

the best thing i ate in new york - and other tales from the city

Y'all, I am struggling. I am having "Post Fun Trip Depression". PFTD. It's a thing. 

Don't you hate that? You have such a nice break from laundry and grocery lists, from work, from making your bed or cleaning the kitchen, from putting gas in your car; a break from all of life's responsibilities in the real world. Then you come back home and it all hits you like a sack of bricks. 

PFTD is ESPECIALLY common when you have taken the long vacation for your birthday (as I did). Not only is it a break from the real world, but also people buy you drinks and food and tell you nice things for the whole extent of your trip. Ugh. So you can see why I am struggling here. But it's worth it. 

My flight out was super early Wednesday morning so I had to wake up around 5am. LUCKILY for me, my pre flying anxiety kicked in extra early and I woke up at 1:30am and never fell back asleep. Woohoo! By the time I got to the airport and the special magic pill I take to help with my horrible flying anxiety kicked in, I was in total zombie mode. If you read my post about England, you know a little about my flying anxiety. I don't fear the plane crashing, but it's something about being in a space I can't get out of. After a 10 hour flight back from a England, however, a flight less than 2 hours was definitely a lot easier. My arrival to New York started with a very long nap. 

For those of you who aren't familiar with my family in New York, I'll give you a quick run down. My sister, Liz, moved to Manhattan on a whim five years ago with no job, no idea what living in New York would be like, and hardly any money. She got a job, kept working her way up and now lives with her fiance, Steve, in Brooklyn with their precious pup, Tuna. She's kind of a badass but I may be biased. 

Anywayzz, Wednesday night after getting TRAPPED on the subway for about 30 minutes (just one of my biggest fears NBD), we went to one of her work events for wine, cheese, olives, and got to pick out a choker of our choice. Free wine, snacks, and things?! I could used to that for sure. We ended the night ordering in late night food, because you can literally order anything you want at pretty much any time. 

The next morning was MY BIRTHDAYYYYYYYY! We all know that birthdays get less and less exciting after 21, but I started doing something in the past couple years to assure that every birthday is great.

Step one: treat yo self.
Step two: do it by yo self.

The older I get, the more control freak I become. I admit it, I like to plan things and I like things to go a certain way. Sometimes, I'm a total pain in the ass about it. Sometimes, I get stressed out if the plans don't go as planned (I'm working on that one mk?). "Birthday Treat Yo Self" makes me feel incredibly happy and relaxed, and doing it alone means no one can mess it up! Plus I crave alone time on that reg. Is that a little crazy? Fine, I'm a little crazy. But I can be whatever I want to be on my birthday amiright?

Treat Yo Self step 1 was a massage at The Plaza, the Caudalie Spa. I am not exaggerating when I say that this was the absolute best massage I have ever had in my life. As an assistant I have my phone on me at all times. Having it put away for a full hour of extreme relaxation....good gawd I can't even describe how amazing this was.

Treat Yo Self step 2 was getting my hair blown out at Dry Bar in Tribeca. This was my first time ever walking around Tribeca and 5th Avenue. It was pretty nuts....the sidewalks were completely packed on a Thursday at 2pm. I had this thought of "where in the HELL are all of these people going? I know they aren't all on their lunch breaks....they aren't all tourists...why are there so many of them?" Which, is the same thought I have every day in Atlanta traffic. In New York the majority of that is just street traffic. It's a whole different ball game. Kind of intimidating, but also incredibly thrilling at the same time.

Treat Yo Self step 3: lobster and champagne. I stopped into this tiny placed called Ed's Lobster Bar (I saw it on Million Dollar Listing and had been dying to go).

Seriously, this was the most delicious lobster of my life. I'm drooling.

Treat Yo Self step 4: getting a makeover at Sephora. I am not usually one to post my selfies unless someone else is in them with me, but I had to show what a great job this girl did. Plus, if you had seen me right before this makeover you would agree she worked absolute MAGIC. I have had my makeup done before but Johannah did the most incredible job, best one I've had so far. Also, she was so freakin' sweet, we instantly became friends and when I go back to New York I'll probably track her down to hang.

Treat Yo Self was completed just in time to meet up with Liz after work. We met at a sailboat bar for drinks called Grand Banks. Yeppp. A SAILBOAT BAR. You literally sit on a boat at a bar with the most insane view right on the water....I would go every day. I just would not recommend having more than a couple drinks there at the risk of falling down. Or in. 

Following sailboat drinks we met up with Liz's friends Megan and Elah at a restaurant called Catch. We had so much incredible food, I don't even know where to start. The lighting was too dark for pictures, which is probably for the best because I would go on OVERLOAD. But to give you an idea....lobster mac n cheese, crunchy rice cakes, crispy shrimp, spicy crunchy hand roll, and Wagyu on a rock which is when they bring out 5 pieces of raw meat and you cook it yourself on a hot rock. IT WAS INSANE. Oh, and s'more pizza for dessert. 

Birthday night ended with singing Karaoke at a Korean Bar, because why not? *I recommend not attempting to sing Lady Gaga standing on a table, the manager will not approve*

The rest of the trip was pretty much Liz, Steve and I eating and drinking our way through Brooklyn. Some of the best food I have ever had. I'm starting from the bottom (which is still really freakin' good) and working my way up.

Chicken and melted cheese on English muffin from Friend of a Farmer.

Brussel Sprout Quiche from Friend of a Farmer.

Gramercy Park Salad with pears, blue cheese, walnuts, and beets from Friend of a Farmer.

Also from Friend of a Farmer we had legit some of the BEST BACON I have ever had in my life. And that is a very bold statement coming from me.

Oysters from Wallabout, always a classic.

Scallops with chorizo, sun chokes, apple cider sauce and roe from Wallabout. This. Was. RIDIC.

Now since I did not take any pictures of the brisket hash, potato latkes, egg salad, fried salami sandwich or pickled vegetables from the most amazing Jewish Delicatessen called Mile End in Liz's neighborhood, the best thing I ate was:

Ostrich Carpaccio with farm cheese, olive oil, and microgreens from Madiba. A really good South African restaurant. If any of your mouths are not watering at this point, we probably aren't friends.

After 4 straight days of eating, walking, drinking, and more eating I was exhausted. My last day in Brooklyn was spent cuddled up with two favorites while Steve made us the most amazing dinner (yes, more food). 

New York, I love you. My lease is up in April....I wonder how Finn would do in the big city? :)

 

 

 

fried green tomatoes with basil and goat cheese over jalapeno grits

Hello hello, it has been far too long! I hate that I have lately been putting my blogging on the back burner a little bit. But with work, furniture, working out, AND now studying for my real estate license (woo!) I haven't been able to find enough time in my day. I am trying to organize my time better to fit everything in.

I also have a lot of exciting things coming up...lots of fun things going on in Atlanta this weekend and then next week, NEW YORK for my birthday! I haven't been up to see my sasster since Mother's Day of lasssttt yearrr....way way too long. So much eating in my near future. 

Anyway, I have been dying to share this recipe for a while because Fried Green Tomatoes are one of my favorites. Also, one of my favorite movies.

If you haven't seen this, do yourself a favor and rent it when you have a chance. 

Sweet Ruth and Idgie the Bee Charmer. UGH just one of my all time favorites. A classic. I could watch this movie over and over again and never get tired of it. Such a great story about friendship and empowering women. Towanda amiright? If you know, then you know. Buy it here.

I had seen this movie as a kid but really fell in love with it while I was in college. After about the 40th time watching, it inspired me to make my own fried green tomatoes. 

I tried to make them a couple times. I followed different recipes I had found, coating them only in bread crumbs and cooking them in vegetable oil or olive oil. They were...ok. But not great. Finally, I discovered the TRUE secret to delicious fried green tomatoes. And that secret is....

Yeeeep. That's right. Bacon. Bacon grease to be specific. Not only the key to happiness in life but the key to MAKING this recipe. (If you know me at all, you know that bacon is actually one of favorite things in the entire world. I once considered a pescatarian lifestlye but...bacon). 

The other secret I discovered is not only using bread crumbs for coating, but also corn meal. It clings much better and gives them a really good crunch. 

Start off with the grits since they take about 45-1hr. Now I've said it before and I will say it again. Use. Stoneground. Grits. Just take my word on this one, mkay?

I do have a confession though. I, Paige Johnson, ayellowpeach, grit connoisseur, have never made white grits. It's true. I have only made the yellow stoneground grits. Maybe because white just reminds me of instant? And I just cannot do instant. Cain't. Won't. 

Two key things I always make sure to have in my grits: jalapenos, and cream (in this case, I cut out the heavy whipping cream and went for the half and half). 2 cups cream to 1/2 cup grits. With stone ground grits you need to first put them in a cup or a bowl and cover with water to skim off the chaff that floats up (parts of the corn). Also, with stoneground you need to make sure and freeze the bag of grits after opening. I dice up the jalapeno and add in the cream. After it boils. add the grits and cook uncovered on low. Stir a lot. Like, all the time.

Continually season with salt and taste as you go so it doesn't get too salty. Usually, I add cheese to my grits. In this case, I am topping them later with cheese so I opted out. 

Now back to the bacon. While the grits are cooking, cook the bacon on the stove until ready. Remove the bacon and set aside. The grease will be used to cook the tomaters. 

Thinly slice the tomatoes.

Get your setup ready. One: flour. Two: 2 eggs whisked with milk. Three: mixture of bread crumbs, corn meal, salt, pepper, and cayenne. 

Turn your bacon grease back on until it sizzles if you flick water on it. Coat each slice in that order: flour, egg mix, crumbley mix. Cook on each side for 3 minutes or until crispy and brown.

When the grits are done, put into a bowl and top with a fried tomato, bacon, basil, and goat cheese. MMMMMM. I recommend trying to get basil into every bite you take. It brings all of the flavors together. 

Grits Ingredients:
-2 cups half n half
-1/2 cup white stone ground grits
-1 jalapeno, deseeded and diced
-salt and pepper, to taste

Fried Green Tomatoes Ingredients:
-3-4 slices bacon
-3 green tomatoes
-1 cup flour
-2 eggs, whisked
-3/4 cup milk
-1/2 cup bread crumbs
-1/2 cup corn meal
-1/4 tsp salt
-1/4 tsp pepper
-few dashes cayenne

Other Additions:
-crumbled goat cheese
-basil

If you end up making more FGT's than you can eat, save them! I almost always make too much food because my eyes are much bigger than my stomach. There are so many other recipes you can make with the leftovers.

Using the same ingredients, make an appetizer! Top the FGT with goat cheese, basil and bacon for a yummy finger food snack. I thought about afterwards how good a drizzle of balsamic vinegar would be. 

Another idea for breakfast: Fried Green Tomato Egg's benedict! Top the FGT with avocado, a poached egg, goat cheese, and chopped parsley. A yummy sauce could be made for this too.

Even more uses: Fried Green Tomato BLT, add a FGT to your burger, eat them plain and make a chipotle ranch sauce to dip them in, add it into a grilled cheese sandwich, the possibilities are endlesssssss. 

I haven't posted as much music lately so I'm trying to get back to that. One thing I luuuuuv about Spotify is the weekly playlist they put together for me "Discover Weekly". This one song came up called "All for You" by Fairground Saints and I kid you not, I have had it on repeat for 3 days. 

Listen here

fried tofu with sesame almond dipping sauce

Ermagerdddd. As I started writing the title, I realized that I never wrote down how I made this sesame peanut dipping sauce. Jeeeeez. I'll have to reach deep in my chaotic memory to pull that one out so hopefully it comes out the same.....

You may have noticed that I have a fairly large handful of recipes involving tofu. I want to clarify why this is. I am not a vegan, or a vegetarian, or a meat hater. I actually LOVE all sources of fish and meat. Shrimp, steak, chicken, any fish ever, you name it and I'll eat it. BUT....I am also just like a lot of you other mid 20's something (kind of) who are living life on their own in a new job and don't have all their shit together. And to be honest witcha tofu is just a million times easier, cheaper, and more convenient majority of the time. Plus, if you cook it right then it tastes amazing and provides protein! Win win in my book. 

If you are a vegetarian, this recipe is perfect for you. If you are a vegan, it's a no go. Eggs and flour involved. 

Seriously, I have had this cutting board for far too long and have NEVER noticed that the bottom left says Joyce Chen. Huh. I literally just had to go check it to make sure I wasn't going crazy. Anyway, start by wrapping how ever much tofu you are using (I used about half a block) in a paper towel to let the liquid out. Then cut into squares. Or strips or cubes or whatever you want.

Alrighty now let's see if I can remember how I did this sauce :) I'm pretty sure I used:

-2 tblsp almond butter
-2 tblsp tamari
-1 tsp rice vinegar
-1 tblsp sesame oil
-1 dash agave nectar
-1 tblsp chopped cilantro (you can use stems too)
-a little bit of warm water (to mix easier)

I popped all of this into a food processor to blend. If it's still a little thick you can add more water. Top with chopped cilantro and toasted black sesame seeds. And don't worry, all of these flavors are so yummy. If it isn't exactly how I made it originally it's hopefully just as tasty. 

Flour, whipped egg, and panko bread crumbs. So simple. I mixed 1 tsp paprika, a few dashes of cayenne, and 1 tsp chili powder into the flour for some extra flavor.

Start about 3-4 tblsp of oil in a pan. I used grape seed oil because it's good for frying, or so I hear. Dip each piece of tofu first in flour, then the egg, then completely coat in panko bread crumbs and add to the pan. Cook about 3 minutes on each side or until brown and crunchy looking. 

Top with extra cilantro because why not?

MMMM crunchy and tasty. Just the way I like it.

paint it beautiful - fusion mineral paint vanity

PLEASE FORGIVE ME as I have not blogged in long time. I'm sure you all know how it is getting caught up with things in life like work, family in town, more work, a flea infestation in the home, going out of town, 4th of July festivities, aaaand more more work. Why can't we all just quit our jobs and sneak off to a private island and drink yummy drinks out a coconut under an umbrella? UGH. Seems so unfair.

The good part about work is that my job allows me to have the freedom to also work on furniture, and that makes me incredibly happy. I have heard a lot recently about metallic paint and I've been dying to try it out. I used a tutorial by Melanie at Lost and Found, you can find her page here

Her step by step instructions are AMAZING and turned out perfectly. I did change just a couple things. To begin, she degreases her piece and also Ultra Grip, a primer. This piece was an older one and the wood was fairly porous so I did not use either of those.

So here is the vanity before. Well, kind of before. You can see in the bottom right corner that I already started...I do that ALL the time and forget to take a picture beforehand. Oops :) 

I started off by painting the whole piece in bronze (on the left). Melanie describes that the real key to using metallic paint is layering to give it more depth, and she has a point. Plain metallic can look a little cheesy. This paint is very different from chalk paint, the consistency is super thin and flicks all over the place so make sure to use a tarp.

All gold errwhere, baby. 

After the gold has dried, you dry brush black over the piece. Now here's the thing, I am not the biggest fan of dry brushing. It never seems to turn out the way that I want it to. So what I ended up doing instead is treating this paint almost like dark wax in a sense. I had my steel wool in one hand and brush in the other. Paint, rub in. Paint, rub in. Etc.

So whether you dry brush or just kind of rub the paint it, the point is just to get some darkness in certain areas for added depth.

Next step, cover the piece with the silver (on the right). On a sample piece I made to practice, I actually covered up the entire piece. Which covered all the cool dark areas I had created and the bronze. So you almost want to kind of dry brush (or whatever method you prefer) the silver on the piece as well. 

Last but not least, clear top coat. I loooove trying out new finishing products so this was super exciting. It's an interesting consistency...almost like a really wet glue. It even dries on your skin like glue and gets flakey on your fingers. So if you're one of those that is weirded out by that I would suggest wearing gloves. I'm used to using clear wax and buffing it in. This was pretty easy, you just rub it in with a clean rag!

And Voila, this is the final result! Yasss.

Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaas.

Can I say it a third time? Cause I will. Yas. 

I cannot wait to try out these products again. You can purchase Fusion Mineral Paint here. And make sure to check out Melanie's page as well, she has a lot of great stuff on there!

 

it's all good - fish roasted in salt, thai style

Y'all. It is HOT. Hotlanta is for real. I'm not kidding you, when I first got in my car earlier today it said 112 degrees. 

My car also does this really cute thing where if it is in a standstill spot for too long and it is hot outside, it starts to overheat and the AC just shuts off. So that means that when I'm sitting in traffic (which is all the time in Atlanta) or at a light for too long, and it's 98 freakin' degrees out, my AC shuts off. So I have to roll down the windows and just sit there to sweat and try not to pass out and await my inevitable perish. SO fun.

To beat the heat I recommend a few things:

-drink lots of water
-drink lots of wine and/or other adult beverages in air conditioned rooms
-don't leave your house
-don't drive or ride in my car
-stay away from any form of heat like grills or the oven

This recipe I tried out broke a couple of these rules...there was some grilling and oven work involved. But it is SO insanely yummy and refreshing it will be worth it. 

I got the "It's All Good" cookbook a couple years ago and to be totally honest, I haven't made anything out of it yet. I really LOVE and enjoy collecting cookbooks and then every recipe I make comes off the internet. Does anyone else have that problem? I blame Pinterest.

Thank you once again, Instagram for being helpful in my search of how long ago I purchased this cookbook. 120 weeks. That is 27 months. Two years and 3 months ago I got this cookbook, and I have finally completed the main recipe I had been DYING to try.

"Fish Roasted in Salt, Thai Style" 

Another cookbook confession: I tend to only try recipes that come with a picture. Visual learner issues, I supposed. The images of this recipe is really what drew me to it. It looked beautiful, challenging and absolutely delicious. She suggests pairing it with "Asian Greens with Garlic, Ginger, and Fish Sauce" and "Grilled Eggplant" but I subbed out the eggplant for the "Grilled Asparagus and Portobellos with Shallot and Soy Dressing". 

These black sesame seeds are awesome and I'm already looking up more things to try with them.

MMM yass. After grilling the veggies you toss them in a shallot dressing and vinegars. I told myself I was going to follow this recipe to a T, but I could not find xylitol. I'm sure that Gwyneth uses this because it is Gwyneth Paltrow after all, and she uses a fancy sugar alcohol. I, however, just tossed in a little brown sugar instead :) As far as the Ume Plum vinegar she uses, I'm not sure if I got the same brand/kind she was referring to. I went to my favorite farmer's market and walked down the Japanese aisle looking for this. Every single product was in Japanese. I miraculously found one that had the word "plum" on the back and just went with it.  

Lemme yell ya somethin'....Bok Choy is my jam. Especially baby Bok Choy. It is so easy to cook and always delicious. The recipe in this cookbook also has an amazzzing sauce it cooks in.

Fresh ginger, garlic, and fish sauce. Yes.

Alright, so let's get down to the main star of this meal. I have never ever dealt with a whole fish so this was intimidating. Also a whole different ball game when the meal you are about to eat has a face...they are pretty cute after all. Sorry fishies. I got these from Buford Farmer's Market (my obsession). The fish market is my favorite part. It's crowded, loud, chaotic, overwhelming, smelly, and I love every second of it.

Don't fresh herbs just make you happy? Just another reason I was drawn to this recipe. The fish is stuffed with basil, Italian parsley, cilantro, lime and red chilies (I couldn't find red chilies, I used a red chili sauce I had).

Next you mix basically an entire 3lb box of coarse sea salt with water to make almost like a salt paste. Gwyneth explains that the consistency should be "sand-castle worthy". After a little lime juice and soy on top, you completely cover the fish in this salt mix. 

My attempt of being just like Gwyneth. Taken by my extremely lovely and talented roommate, Brooke.

Now here is where things get interesting. I've said this before and I will say it again. COOKING IS NOT ALWAYS PRETTY. When the fish comes out, you clean off the salt, peel of the skin, and fillet the fish. Which, I will tell you, is NOT the easiest task having never filleted a fish before.

This is real life, people. This is what you're left with. A yummy yummy mess. Brooke and I had a pretty good laugh about what my fish looked like in comparison to Gwyneth's. 

Pretty or not pretty, this fish was SO flavorful. Sometimes the messiest meals leave the best taste in your mouth.

Thank goodness I have Brooke to be my guinea pig for meals (and help to take amazing photos).

As much as I would love to give you a step by step of these recipes, I highly encourage you to get this cookbook. It's packed full of meals made with fresh ingredients that help beat this summer heat. Buy it here.

Be safe out there in the pits of Hell. Please hope that I don't pass out in my car. 

 

a yellow peach mini dinner party

It is already THURSDAY! Only one more day left in this work week. You gotta love a Monday off. I hope you all had a safe and fun Memorial Weekend. I was on Tybee Island for a bachelorette party with 8 of my closest, drop dead gorgeous, loud, rowdy, charming, dramatic, hysterical best friends. I swear I don’t think I’ve laughed that hard in forever. I would love to entertain you with all of the dumb shit that went down but you know what they say. What happens on Tybee stays on Tybee, amiright? 

I will entertain you, however, with the art of entertaining! I had my very first mini dinner party the other night. It isn’t technically my first of course, but it is the first time I’ve had one on my own, in my own house, etc. 

I fell in love with entertaining through my parents. They always had the neighbors over or would have dinner parties growing up. I loved when my mom had all sorts of appetizers out, the nice candles lit, the lights dimmed, flowers cut, and drinks prepared. The smell of whatever was on the menu was always fantastic. I think a lot of things my mother did are forever engrained in me now. The two of us are always in charge of Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas morning and sometimes there’s even some bickering when the two of us get together in the kitchen. Although if it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t have learned what I know now so I guess I can put up with our occasional bickering :) 

I started noticing my own knack for entertaining in college when we would have friends from other schools come stay in our tiny apartment (that I lived in with THREE other girls). Everyone would be in the living room talking about the night before and wondering where I was. Meanwhile, I was in the kitchen preparing mimosas and a full on breakfast buffet. 

Anyway, here is my play by play of the other night.

Step one: invite the guests. My guest list was short and sweet. My dad and step mom, and my sweet next door neighbors, Tom and Cece. Easy Peasy.

Step two: make your house look & smell nice.

Cleaning your house for your guests is pretty obvious.  Now I know that most of you ladies reading this take your bra off after work on the couch because it’s a been a long freakin day and you just can’t wait any longer. Then three days later you notice the bra is still there. I get it. But maybe put the bra back in your room before the guests get there mk? (Is this just me….?)

Beyond that though, go for ambiance. Light some nice candles and have some fresh cut flowers.

These bad boys actually came out of my backyard. I couldn't believe it.

Step three: plan the appetizers.

Cheese OBVIOUSLY. Gouda on da right, some kinda cheddar that I can't remember on da left. 

Sriracha carrot hummus, assorted olives and crackers for dipping. I went pretty simple here. If you want to get really fancy with your apps, Pinterest has about a million cool and creative appetizer recipes.

Step four: plan the main menu.

My neighbor, Tom, is a vegetarian so I made a Creamy Shiitake Mushroom Pasta from AllRecipes check it out here. Few changes I made:

-I doubled the recipe (and glad I did, just enough for 5 people)
-I used vegetable broth instead of chicken broth
-I used half and half instead of heavy whipping cream
-In addition to shiitake mushrooms I also used a package of crimini mushrooms
-I used basil instead of parsley

For the salad: super simple. Arugula, sliced almonds, thinly sliced cucumber. And of course, my fave go-to lemon dijon dressing:

-Juice of half a lemon
-3 tblsp olive oil
-1 tblsp rice vinegar
-1 tsp dijon mustard
-dash salt and pepper

I sometimes will add garlic, but there was enough in the pasta already. 

The absolute YUMMIEST brussel sprout recipe. I promise you, even those who say they hate brussels will love these. It will forever change the way you thought of them.

Cut them in half (keep the lose leafs they crisp up nicely), lay on a baking sheet and coat with some olive oil and a generous amount of salt and pepper. Roast in the oven on 450F for 30 minutes, stirring once in between. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar when finished. Seriously, thank me later. 

The sign of a yummy meal is the empty plate club going on in the background.

Step five: plan the cocktails.

In addition to wine and beer, I like to put my bartender skills to work every once in a while. 

-1 1/2 oz vodka (or gin if you like)
-one wedge lemon
-one handful diced cucumber
-dash agave nectar or simple syrup
-basil for garnish
-handful ice
-soda water or Prosecco

Muddle the cucumber and lemon with agave or simple syrup in your tin. Add the vodka and ice and shake!

Top with soda water or prosecco (or anything bubbly) and garnish with cucumber and basil. So refreshing :)

Step six: plan the playlist. I found this one on Spotify (my obsession). I'm a sucker for jazz standards and blues, so this was perfect. Plus, watching my neighbor Cece twist in my kitchen to songs she listened to when she was a kid was definitely priceless.

Find the playlist here.

If you're anything like me, then planning & entertaining is your performance and the kitchen & your home is your stage. Cheers!

resetting your year - salmon quinoa salad

Happy Thursday friends!

If any of you read my last post, then you know that last week wassss not the best. Luckily, this week has been much better.

There was like ONE shitty thing that happened this week. Not so much bad as just absolutely terrifying…

Most days I work from home, and since the weather has been nice I keep our back door open sometimes so Finnigan can go out and chill on the patio (he looooves his patio). Finn is not the quickest of cats, all I’ve really seen him catch is a lizard. So I’m working at my kitchen table, and I hear this flapping noise. And the flapping noise keeps getting closer. And then there’s chirping. And the next thing I know, Finnigan is right next to me with A FREAKIN’ ALIVE BIRD that he’s trying to catch. Just flappin’ around the house nbd!

Now I don’t know how y’all feel about birds, but they really terrify me. Or maybe it’s just having an uninvited animal in your home. Either way, the results were not cute.

This is ACTUAL footage of me. Thank God he chased the bird back out or else I probably would have had to move.

Anyway…this past Sunday I woke up in a total weird mood. I didn’t feel like myself. Have any of you woken up in that kind of funk? I feel like this is usually about the time of year when I realize that my New Year’s resolutions have slowly but surely faded away. I was on such a high the beginning of this year and especially during and after England and I realized that I’ve come far from that girl.

It’s understandable, we get so caught up in other things. I was so stressed out by finding a house, then moving while also starting a new job that I got completely sidetracked of my goals. I haven’t had a day like that in a while where I was like “what just happened?” So this week, I decided to do a little “mini cleanse” to clear my head and get back on track.  Let’s call it “a yellow peach” cleanse.

**Please note, I am not in any way a fitness/health/beauty blogger. I’m still planning on sharing with you my Fried Green Tomatoes cooked in bacon grease one day so don’t think I’m going total health freak on you here. For all I know, my advice could make you fat and unhappy so just keep that in mind, mk?

Step one: Treat yo self. If you have not seen this Parks and Rec episode, do yourself a favor and watch it now. I did little things to treat myself that make me happy. I got a pedicure. I set up an appointment to get a massage and get my hair done. I got the whole Cerave skin care line that I’m super excited about. And the coolest thing I think I did all week was take a voice lesson. I haven’t taken lessons since high school but I used to LOVE them. I met with this really cool jazz musician named Kermit and I sang some blues and jazz standards. Do things you used to do when you were young…you’d be surprised how much fun it still is.

Step two: Get back on track with fitness. I’ve never been an athletic person. I used to always say if you see me running, call the police because something is seriously wrong. I’ve changed a lot since then and I know what workouts are best for me so I’m starting back up. I’ve made it a point to do something active every day, even if it’s just for a brief walk/jog around the neighborhood.

And to top it off, for 3 days don't have:

-alcohol
-dairy
-meat (except fish)
-bread/pasta
-any processed food

I also didn’t wear makeup for three days to give my skin a break and drank a TON of water. A track coach once told me that you should be drinking so much water that your pee should be clear and in copious amounts at all times. This same track coach also told me that I run incorrectly…but that’s not the point here.

As one of my good friends said, sometimes you just need to hit the reset button of life. Reset emotionally, physically, and mentally, and get your shit back together. On that note, I’m sharing this REALLY DELICIOUS Salmon Quinoa Salad recipe that is packed full of healthy stuff and will make your mini cleanse even better. 

Quinoa is insanely nutritious. Although sometimes it can be pretty bland, so I'll sometimes use vegetable broth instead of water. Cook the quinoa according to package instructions and set in fridge to cool. Should make 4 servings.

Main salad ingredients include:

-1/2 red bell pepper diced
-1/2 yellow bell pepper diced
-1/2 green bell pepper diced
-1/2 cucumber diced
(this is super similar to my last recipe ingredients if any of you are having deja vu)
-about a handful of cut cherry tomatoes
-cooked salmon

I used leftover salmon from the previous night, if you haven't cooked your salmon yet I suggest baking it at 450F for 12-15 minutes.

Mix these ingredients together and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Mmmm so pretty.

Dressing ingredients:

-juice of half of a lemon
-3 tblsp olive oil
-1 tblsp rice vinegar
-1 small clove minced garlic
-1 tsp dijon mustard
-dash salt and pepper

Whisk together in a bowl.

Prepare your garnishes:

-basil
-shredded carrots
-avocado

If you skip or replace anything on this recipe, please don't let it be the basil. Seriously, it MAKES it.

Mix the quinoa with the salad ingredients and toss with the dressing. Top with your garnishes and enjoy cold :) 

When I was in England in the middle of a giant, random, gorgeous field and I had that moment of "Oh my God, I actually did this"...this song was playing through my headphones. The context of the song isn't as important to me as just how much I remember that moment. Cheesy...I know. Judge me. Check it out here.

 

 

summer veggie gazpacho

"Things happen, and you either roll with it or collapse under it. I choose to roll with it.”
-Gregg Allman

I love this quote, Gregg says this in “The Big Interview” with Dan Rather that I admittedly watched three, maybe four times. If you haven’t seen it, you should. 

I realized recently that I haven’t talked about anything that personal in my blog posts since England. I also realized that in my last few posts if I do talk about anything personal it all seems pretty hunky dory. House is great, job is great, blah blah blah. And they are great! But things aren’t always super duper fantastico because that just isn’t the way life works. And if it were, it would be a pretty boring life.

Because sometimes, your house IS great, but your bathroom sink breaks or a cockroach crawls across your arm. Sometimes your job is going well but you’re worried you aren’t learning everything quick enough. Sometimes you make real connections with people that don’t always pan out in the way you had hoped. Sometimes you spill a pint of paint in your car. Sometimes your loved ones have to go through surgery (thoughts and prayers appreciated). Sometimes a bird shits on your car in such a large amount that it ACTUALLY looks like the shape of an even larger bird. Sometimes you’re running late for a yoga class and park anywhere you can find, just to come out to find a boot on your car. This pretty much sums up my week. 

The good news is that even after that kind of week, your life is still beautiful. It's just keepin' you on your toes. So if any of you are going through these fun and natural motions of life, just know I’m rollin’ along right there with ya. But also remember that sometimes, you need to crack open a watermelon beer and make this AMAZING GAZPACHO.

The ingredients to this are so insanely simple it will blow your mind hole. 

Seriously it's so easy that if you don't make it I'm judging you.

Honestly, that's pretty much it. 

Ingredients:

-half of one green bell pepper, diced
-half of one red bell pepper, diced
-half of one yellow bell pepper, diced
-one cucumber, diced
-3 large tomatoes, cut as you please
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-3 tblsp olive oil
-2 tblsp white wine vinegar or rice vinegar
-1 tsp salt
-sliced avocado (optional)

Set aside 1/4 cup of each bell pepper and the cucumber and set aside. You'll add this back in later.

Put everything into blender or nutribullet and blend until smooth! Transfer to a bowl and add back in your set aside veggies. 

Serve cold and top with sliced avocado, if you like. I suggest pairing this with Hell or High Watermelon beer. I'm not a big beer drinker honestly, but it is so so yummy. 

Now put your favorite song on full blast in your car (for me that is anything sung by Susan Tedeschi but what else is new), sing at the top of your lungs with your windows down and don't give an F who sees you, and just roll with it.

a yellow peach tries milk paint

I have not blogged in so. freaking. long. I am ashamed. I am sorry. Recap: new job is great, new house is perfect, I saw Beyonce, boiled peanuts are back in season, the weather is amazing, and Finn is still a batshit crazy cat. Pretty much sums it up. Anyway...

I finally tried something I have always wanted to try but been too nervous: Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint. Milk paint has the ability to distress certain parts of the furniture on its own, which as a control freak is slightly overwhelming. Let's start by talking about exactly how long ago I first bought milk paint.

Thanks Instagram. 92 WEEKS AGO. That is going on two years. Almost two years I have had this paint. Ok I did try it out once on a small ladder, but the wood was so porous that it didn't distress in any way. 

So I got this table from my mama. It's pretty as it is, and in nice shape. But I had to get my hands on it. 

I've really been wanting to do a piece with a sanded top and painted body. I've done one before, but not just with a raw wood top.

Let me tell you, some pieces are a real pain in the butt to sand. Especially if they are really old, previously painted, or have water damage. This bad boy was easy peasy, and plus using tools is always pretty fun.

Mix 1/4 cup milk paint with 1/4 cup water and stir until it's a fairly thick consistency, but not too thick. You also don't want it too watery. Somewhere right in the middle. It slides on to the wood really nicely, not as thick as chalk paint.

I applied two coats, waiting about 4 hours in between. I was literally just staring at it for a while thinking, "are you going to distress? ARE YOU??"

The answer is yes. I noticed after the second coat was dry that pieces of paint were bubbling up. Once I went over it with sandpaper it just came right off. I LOVE this look. 

After I sanded, I did two coats of Miss Mustard Seed's hemp oil (waiting 3 hours in between). Warning: when you seal with hemp oil it looks very very greasy, almost a little scary at first. But once it has set in for a few hours and you buff with a rag it looks really beautiful. 

For the top, I used another product I have been DYING to use. When I was in England, Liddy (who I worked with the first couple days at the shop) finished her raw wood pieces with this and I've been wanting to try it out ever since. It really is a dead flat finish, it doesn't even look very different after but you know that the wood is protected. I put on two coats and let it dry. Seriously, it's awesome. Buy it here.

Eh Voila!

I think I'll be doing more pieces like this, I love the contrast.

Home sweet home, table :) 

pulled pork tacos with pico de gallo and midnight margaritas

It's Taco Tuesday and....

I HAVE OFFICIALLY MOVED IN!!!! Moving day(s) came and went last week and I am now sitting in my lovely dining room that I share with one of my best friends, Brooke. We have THE sweetest neighbors you've ever met in your life, a view of the city (once we trim some bushes) and a kickass patio. 

Only one word comes to mind to celebrate finally being in this house: TEQUILA.

Ok two words: tequila and tacos. 

Mmmmm yeah, that's right. Gonna start this post off with a big ole hunk of raw meat. Pork tenderloinnnnn, baby. I originally got the idea for this recipe from a friend of mine and my mother's (that's right Candy, I'm talkin' to you). She had us over for dinner recently and we had this amazing pulled pork that she had let sit in the crockpot for hours, only with a can of William Sonoma Verde Sauce. I went from there and mixed it up a little bit. Start by browning both sides of this hunk of meat in a little bit of olive oil in a dutch oven, season lightly with salt, and add to crockpot. 

For the crockpot:

-pork tenderloin (obviously)
-juice of one lime
-one jar of Herdez Tomatillo verde (or any salsa verde)
-2 tblsp TEQUILA (I feel like it should always be in caps, no?)

I turned the crockpot on low and left it for 3 hours, but I realized it wouldn't be where I needed it to be before we were ready to eat, so I bumped it up to high for the last hour/hour and a half. It should be to the point where you can very easily and gently pull it apart with a fork, like so.

While the pork is slow cookin' you can get together the pico de gallo:

-5 diced roma tomatoes
-1 large diced sweet onion
-1 diced jalapeno
-1 cut up handful of cilantro
-juice of half of a lime
-salt (keep salting and tasting until tastes right)
-**Not pictured because I forgot it until the last minute** one clove minced garlic

Mix together in a bowl and ATTEMPT to not eat all of it with chips before the pork is ready. 

OK so your pork is almost finished, pico de gallo is made and you're snacking, what's next? Margaritas. 

I'm about to share with you a service industry secret. Not going to name any names here...but I used to work at a bar where the specialties were tacos and margaritas. This is the exact recipe as far as basic ingredients and measurements (used different brands), and I'm going to be honest with you...these are really damn good margaritas. 

You'll need:

-1 1/2 oz tequila (I used El Jimador because I'm El Cheapo)
-2 oz of orange liqueur (I used Agavero)
-1 1/2 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
-dash of agave

Add ingredients into your shaker, shake hard with ice for 15-20 seconds and strain over a glass of ice.

This doesn't even do it justice of how tasty it is. You're just going to have to take my word for it and make it yourself.

TACO SET UP! For the tacos:

-corn tortillas
-pico de gallo
-pulled pork
-sliced avocados
-cilantro for garnish
-limes for garnish
-margies

It's a fiesta in your mouth.

Brooke and I had one of our girlfriends over and ate tacos, drank margaritas, and chatted all about life on our patio. Life is good mis amigos.

And of course, we listened to my favorite playlist I made for occasions just like these..Midnight Margaritas. I've shared this before and I will share it again. Listen here.

 

 

 

orzo summer veggie salad with lemon dijon dressing

Happy Sunday!

This week has been a whirlwind. Work was super busy, weddings all over the place, sister was in town, and OH YEAH I'm moving into a new house this week. 

My move in date was actually yesterday...but that didn't happen. Moving is a gradual process....right?

Anyway, we all know how it is when we get busy and have a lot going on, sometimes working out and eating healthy goes on the back burner. I've kind of had that sitting on the back burner for a little bit too long now to be honest. BUTTT what I'm about to show you is like the yummiest salad packed full of veggies, plus doesn't take too long. Orzo Summer Veggie Salad with a Lemon Dijon Dressing. Gawd yes please. 

Are you drooling yet?

Now?

NOW???

For the salad:

-one diced tomato
-2 diced small cucumbers, or half of a large one
-four diced baby zucchini (are those not adorable? trader joes)
-handful crumbled feta
-2-3 sliced hearts of palm
-handful sliced kalamata olives
-3/4 cup cooked orzo
-mixed greens (not pictured)

For the dressing:

-juice of one lemon
-2 tblsp olive oil
-1/2 tsp dijon mustard
-dash salt

Cook the orzo according to the package instructions. While that's cooking, mix everything else together in a bowl and top with the dressing.

Add the orzo and mix again.

This salad is especially nice when the weather is nice. If so, I recommend eating outside. Pretty weather and fresh ingredients go together so nicely don't you think?

Next step: join barre studio again. Has anyone ever tried class pass? 

I've really been getting back into Tedeschi Trucks Band (not that I ever got out of it) but I've had them on repeat for days now. Susan is Queen. Listen here.

 

 

tofu lettuce wraps with honey soy dipping sauce

Ok ok, I know what you're thinking. Third food post in a row that is Asian inspired now. I'm sorry but I'M NOT SORRY. 

In honor of one of my absolute best friends getting married this weekend I am sharing a recipe that we used to make in college together all the time. 

Look at those baby faces! I'm pretty sure I took this picture with my blackberry. Wow. And can we talk about how it's yet another phenomenal hair day in the books for me? 

Carly and I met in one of the intro classes for Graphic Design at Georgia Southern our sophomore year, and we were instant friends. Attached even. We signed up for all of the same classes, studied together, worked on projects together, pool time together, dinner, etc. People in the art building knew if you saw of one of us, the other was probably lurking around somewhere nearby. I'm not sure how I would have gotten through the stress of Graphic Design without Carly.

The funny part is we couldn't be more different in so many ways. She was always put together for class, I was usually running late and hadn't brushed my hair. She can draw straight lines, I have to use a ruler or it looks like a five year old attempted it. She's practical and I'm just...well kinda crazy. But our yin and yang has always worked out and I'm so happy to be a part of her big day this Saturday.

ANYWAY let's move past the mush and onto the food. This was a really easy recipe that Carly and I would make while we listened to music and worked on our school work. We used to make them with chicken but today I am making them with tofu. Tofu is always really convenient to have around when you don't have any real plans for meals throughout the week. It's just there if you need it!

Ingredients for this recipe:

-Iceberg lettuce
-half a block of extra firm tofu
-tbslp coconut oil
-dash salt
-one can of drained and rinsed water chestnuts
-honey soy sauce (recipe to follow)
-cut up carrots (for garnish)
-cut up cucumbers (for garnish)
-cilantro (for garnish)
-green onions (for garnish)

Cut up the tofu into small cubes and start it in a pan with a little bit of coconut oil. Sprinkle the tofu with just a little bit of salt and let brown. Add in the water chestnuts and cook together for 3-4 minutes.

While the tofu/water chestnuts are cooking you can whip up the sauce.

Honey Soy Sauce:

-1/4 cup tamari (you can use soy sauce if you like)
-2 tblsp honey
-2 tsp ginger
-a couple dashes of sriracha
-1 tsp sesame seed oil

Add in the sauce (save a little bit for dipping) and reduce heat to medium low. Let this cook for about 7-8 minutes to absorb the sauce.

While that sits on low for a bit you can get your garnishes ready. Mmmmm.

Scoop the tofu and water chestnut mixture into lettuce, top with garnishes and dip in honey sauce sauce. *WARNING*: These bad boys are messy. Just a heads up. And there you have it!

Thursday I hit the road to my favorite city, Savannah. Next week I'll post some exciting wedding pictures. I still remember Carly calling me after her very first date with Bailey. Cannot wait to see my girl marry the man of her dreams this Saturday! 

a sideboard before and after

Where has this year gone?? I cannot believe it's already coming up on April. I swear to God it was New Years Day like...yesterday. March has really flown by. St. Patrick's day has come and gone...my first time not being in Savannah for St. Patty's in over five years. I really can't even talk about how this makes me feel. My FOMO was so severe I pretty much avoided all social media the whole weekend. (For those of you who may not know, FOMO=fear of missing out and my case of this is SEVERE).

I think time especially flies by when you stay busy, which if you read my last blog post you know I'm really taking on a lot right now. I like staying busy though and I've accomplished some really fun things in the past couple weeks. 

I've been working on furniture out in Smyrna for Mia, a friend of my mom's. Mia and I immediately clicked and we get along so well. Her house is absolutely beautiful and our styles are very similar so I was thrilled to start working on some pieces for her. There's a store right near her house, "The Bird and The Bee", that sells Annie Sloan chalk paint and waxes, which is awesome because there are not many retailers in the Atlanta area. So we picked out the color and I got started.

When I went back a couple days later to wax, I realized my wax brush had been packed away in the move. Ugh. So I drove by the nearby store but the sign said closed. Panic started to set it. Then I saw someone walking into the store from the back studio and I stuck my head out my window looking like a pyscho "Can I please come get a wax brush??" She kindly invited me in and let me pick out what I needed. WOO CRISIS AVERTED. The woman who let me in is the owner, Betsy. We started talking about my obsession with the store and the back studio (which is a little yellow house) and I shared with her the information about my blog and furniture work. She then invited me to a Blogger's Chalk paint workshop that was taking place at the store the very next day! Funny how timing works out sometimes. 

I meeeaaannn......right? Stupid cute.

Any place that has food and wine is cool in my book.

There were 6 of us who attended the workshop, and they really did such an amazing job setting up everything for us. My favorite thing about this event was being surrounded by other bloggers, which means being surrounded by other people who are also taking pictures of EVERYTHING. At one point I think all 6 of us had our cameras out. 

Betsy and a couple of the girls she works with taught us so many cool techniques that I didn't know about, I cannot WAIT to try them out and share them. They also sent us home with some presents :) Such an awesome experience. 

But ok. Back to Mia's furniture. 

So Mia had bought this sideboard from Macy's yeeeears ago.

Look at those fancy details there oooooh yeah. Let's change it.

Mid process: two coats of Annie Sloan's "French Linen". After this was fully dry, I completely covered the piece with clear wax and buffed that out. I then followed the whole piece with dark wax and buffed that as well.

I then lightly went over all the edges with MY FAVORITE TOY: Gilding wax. Please ignore my painfully awkward hand. Gilding wax is so much fun. The first time I used it, I completely covered the outline of the side table with a paint brush. This time, I went straight in with my hands. This is so much more exciting because there are no rules to where or how you apply this.

Instead of picking out new hardware, I painted those with gilding wax as well. They look completely different!

A whole new sideboard! Just takes a little yellow peach lovin'. Mia is thrilled with it which is always the best feeling. She's got other pieces she wants me to refinish as well and I cannot wait. Maybe I'll try out some of the new things I learned :) 

 

 

the easiest fried rice

Holy craziness of life. Being back from England has been a complete whirlwind of getting back into work, house hunting for a good place in East Atlanta, meeting for a couple interviews for a new big girl job (which yours truly got and accepted), jumping on board/designing for a friend's marketing company, all while trying to keep my social life and read a new book and workout. Ok, that last one hasn't started yet. I'm thinkin' tomorrow. NOW do you see why I drink so much coffee?

Anyway, I feel like I haven't been cooking/crafting/blogging as much as I would like, but sometimes life throws you a lot of things at once and you have to juggle the best you can amiright?

On that note, I realize this is my second Asian-inspired food post in a row, but as well as being stressed out by life's lovely hustle and bustle I also have one more slight problem. YA GIRL IS BROKE.

This is something that I used to make in college all the time when I was low on money. Not only is it convenient because you can use things you usually have lying around, but it is also DELICIOUS. 

I am about to show you how to make the easiest FRIED RICE you've ever had. Start by cooking the rice.

I prefer Jasmine rice, follow the easy peasy package instructions. After it's done, let it sit in the fridge to cool down while you get everything else together. Next comes the egg.

I whipped up two eggs with a whisk. Get some coconut oil going in a large pan until it's super hot. When you sprinkle some water on the pan it should sizzle. 

Scramble and fry those bad boys until they're a little bit browned. Break up with a spatula and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Set aside.

Dice one onion, one red pepper, one clove garlic, and shred one carrot. You can add all sorts of veggies here. Snow peas, green beans, kale, squash, etc. There are no fried rice rules! Get a little more coconut oil going and saute these ingredients until soft, about 5-6 minutes. 

While the veggies are cooking, you can throw together the sauce. I featured this in my Ramen Noodle Makeover post. It's pretty much the same ingredients depending on what I have around, and I use it for just about every Asian recipe or marinade ever. It's so good. I need a name for it...any suggestions? A Yellow Peach Yummy Sauce perhaps?

Ingredients:

- 2 tblsp tamari (soy sauce is fine too, but I prefer the taste of tamari)
-1 tsp chili paste
-1 tsp ground lemongrass (before I had used ginger - again just whatever I have around)
-1 tsp peanut sauce
- however much sriracha you think can handle (I use a few squirts, about a teaspoon) 
-a few dashes of fish sauce

OOOOH yeah, buddy. 

When the veggies are ready, add back the egg and the rice. Mix everything together with A Yellow Peach Yummy Sauce (patent pending). 

Garnish with a squeeze of lime and cilantro and enjoy the easy, affordable goodness. 

Ingredients for this recipe:

-2 eggs
-Jasmine rice
-one red bell pepper, diced
-one onion, diced
-one large carrot, shredded
-one clove garlic, minced
-2 tblsp coconut oil
- 2 tblsp tamari
-1 tsp chili paste
-1 tsp ground lemongrass
-1 tsp peanut sauce
- however much sriracha you think can handle
-a few dashes of fish sauce
-cilantro and lime, for garnish

Do yourself a favor and checkkkkk these guys out. Specifically "Brooklyn Streets". Has me feelin' all sorts of ways for spring. Listen here

 

roll ya own sushi

Is anyone as obsessed with sushi as I am? I'm going to guess that's a big fat yes from majority of the people reading this. And if you answered no to that question then I don't understand anything about you.

I used to be able to eat so much more sushi than I do now. Seriously when I was a teenager I was a freakin' sushi eating machine. I just would never get full and didn't gain a pound. Now I can eat like 15 rolls max and I get too full and still gain weight....sigh. Adult metabolism problems. 

Since I crave sushi daily, that can get fairly pricey. So I decided instead to just make my own! It's surprisingly easy and also pretty fun. I started off by going to my FOOD HEAVEN: Buford Farmer's Market. It puts every grocery store to shame. 

Things you need for sushi making:

-sheets of roasted seaweed
-bamboo roller (not pictured)
-sushi rice (sticky rice)
-cucumber
-carrots
-avocado
-fresh raw salmon (this is where the farmer's market really comes in handy, if you aren't able to get fresh raw fish then I suggest using something cooked)
-Masago (fish eggs for the top) 
-whatever else you want to put in there! There are no sushi rules!

Cut your cucumber, carrot and avocado into little twiggy sticks like so.

SUSHI SET UP! Make sure you have a bowl of water to dip your fingers into before dealing with the sticky rice or your hands will actually be covered in rice.

I did sushi two different ways, the way you see above is with the rice on the inside and nori (seaweed) on the outside. I use a piece of plastic wrap to help with the rolling and the bamboo as well. The second way is with the rice on the outside, and this is also where the plastic wrap comes in handy for the rice to stick to. Get a good grip on the outside and roll everything up very tight. After the first tight roll with the bamboo sheet and plastic wrap, you can pull that off and roll with your hands. 

Make sure to use a very sharp knife to cut through these, or else all the yummy inside goodness will fall out. 

Cut into thin slices and top with masago. And if you like, pair with soy sauce, ginger, and wasabi. So easy and SO yummy!

Tunes while I'm rollin:

Lany "ILYSB" (the stripped version) is absolutely addicting. Check it out here and happy rolling :)

live your life, not a fake one: a final farewell to England

"Live your life, not a fake one."

I saw that written in graffiti on a stone wall on the train to Bath and I can't stop thinking about it. 

I cannot believe my three weeks in England are already up. It's such a weird feeling. On one hand I feel like I was there for a year, and on the other I feel like it was just yesterday that I was packing my suitcase. Traveling is like one giant time continuum vortex. Every time I say that I just think of the BEST episode of Boy Meets World of all time (see here).

My last few days in Axminster I spent with the family; working for Debbie, walking around town, and eating amazing food that isn't always easy to get in the states. We went to my final yoga class Thursday with Barbara while the sun was shining bright through the big windows. I seriously wish I could have packed Barbara in my suitcase and brought her here to be my yoga instructor in Atlanta. I absolutely loved her classes and her practice. I tried to soak in everything I could my last few days.

Stopped by the Axminster market one more time for a fish pie. So so yummy.

Had some wonderful last working days and dinners with Debbie (and Ted). I really loved watching Debbie interact with her animals. She cuddles with her cats by the fire in the morning and calls the oldest, "old friend" and the dogs her "skunks". She really has such a big heart.

Took the dogs on a final walk in the fields, where Ben found his biggest stick yet! He was such a proud pup.

Had a final dinner with the family at the Indian restaurant down the street where we took cute but cheesy mirror pics and had far too much wine. Side note: curry in England is freaking RIDICULOUS. 

Said goodbye to this AMAZING view.

And this one.

And this one. OK seriously, why did I leave?

And, of course, said goodbye to the sweet & cozy caravan.

I cannot thank Debbie, her husband, and her family enough. They truly made me feel like a part of their family and I already miss them. But it was time to take on London for the weekend and head back home. 

I took the train to London on Friday and booked an Airbnb for the night. And I'm not going to lie to you friends, as much as I loved the caravan it was really nice to have a giant bed and giant TV and giant shower. I can only glamp for so long (glamorous camping). I met up with my friend Sara who lives in Camden (PS: this is also the town that Amy Winehouse is from...call it what you will but I call it fate).

Sara used to work with my sister in the US and she moved to London with her now wife, Marie. I had only hung out with Sara a couple of times with my sister but never spent much time with her one on one. Luckily, she is one of those people that immediately makes you feel like her best friend. It seemed like we had already been friends for years. She's one of those really naturally beautiful people with a great personality and the best (and LOUDEST) laugh that I've only heard one other time in my life (yes Brooke, I'm talking to you).

Friday night Sara made risotto for me, Marie, and her friend Sophia. Sophia is adorable and informed us that Americans always throw in extra words that are unnecessary like instead of "riding" we say "horse back riding" or "tuna" is "tuna fish" and "glasses" are "eye glasses". Never noticed that before!

Saturday morning I had a chocolate croissant, and drank tea in bed while I watched TV. Pretty lovely actually. I headed over to Sara and Marie's and we got ready to DO THE DAY. In the rain. And cold. Shocking. 

So off we went into the rain with Sara's GIANT umbrella that she kept running into everything with. Our first stop: Borough Market. This market was kind of similar to the Axminster market. If the Axminster market WAS ON CRACK AND ADDERALL AND DRANK 6 RED BULL. I was basically about to pass out from the excitement of all of it. I'm talkin' cheeses, 12 different kinds of mustards, soaps, veggies, juices, bags, lotions, fruits, food stands, wine stands, IT GOES ON AND ON. 

Marie almost immediately targeted the stand with cheese. Marie is French and from what I know of French women she definitely fits the profile. Beautiful, confident, and a huge lover of meat, cheese, and wine. I was starting to get hangry and very indecisively decided on what to eat. A huge market full of amazing food on my last day? How would anyone decide ever? 

I finally chose the duck confit salad and I have zero regrets. 

We walked around for a while, occasionally stopping somewhere for a drink or a snack and to escape the cold.

Westminster Abbey....swoon. 

Westminster Abbey....swoon. 

And my favorite part of London.....

The London Eye. From far away it looks like any other ferris wheel, but the closer you get you realize how INSANELY huge it is. It also takes about an hour to get through the whole thing. Sounds cool, but only if I had wine in there amiright?

We had dinner at this amazing restaurant in Camden. By the end of Saturday we were soaked from rain, cold, exhausted, full of wine and food, and content. The four of us spent the night talking and laughing in Sara and Marie's upstairs loft until we tired ourselves out. 

The next morning I carried my stupidly large and heavy luggage to the tube, hopped on the plane and headed home.

I can honestly say that this trip was more I could have asked for. I faced one of my biggest fears, I met people from different backgrounds and cultures that I never would have met before, I experienced a whole new country all on my own where I had a lot of time to really think about what I want to do and where I want to go in life. I'm feeling incredibly lucky and full of ideas and goals and plans and I can't wait to share every single one of them with all of you.

So for now, it's back to your regular scheduled programming of food and cocktails and furniture, but I think I'll continue to throw in some personal posts as well.

England, I love you.