Dinner Last Night: Chicken Apple Wraps

This is a quick, easy, throw together dinner that makes for excellent leftovers!  I omitted the mint (since I didn't have any), raisins (because yuck!) and curry powder (mostly because I simply forgot) and added sliced almonds and I think it was even better than the original recipe.  I also used fresh mango instead of mango salsa which gave it a refreshing kick, highly recommend doing that as well.  Al in all, it was a crowd pleaser, even if my children deconstructed the entire salad and ate each component individually.  Oh well!

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Lovely Little Reads

It's been a while since I've mentioned my children's book blog and instagram on this site, so wanted to fill you in about this project I've been working on. 

As a former 1st and 2nd grade teacher, currently on sabbatical for a few years while I stay home with my young kids, one thing I miss most from my teaching days is the reading and sharing of children's books.  Hence, I created my own page to share my favorites, brief synopses, and links so you can check out these books on your own.  I hope you'll follow along!


Weeknight Baking: Banana Bread

We are big fans of snack bread in our home.  Pumpkin bread. Banana bread.  Cinnamon toast.  Basically all the gluten.  My usually go-to is this scrumptious double chocolate banana bread a la Smitten Kitchen, but I figured my kids should have some recognition of banana bread that isn't a deep chocolate brown from the added cocoa powder.  I found this recipe via a quick google search and it yielded tasty results.  I used 1/2 cup of coconut sugar and 1/2 cup of white sugar because mentally I convince myself I'm being "healthy" by doing this.  Whatever works, right?  Well it was delicious, and we've already torn half of the loaf in a few short hours.  Perhaps we'll save a sliver for my dear husband when he comes home.  Or not...

Cookbook Crush: Pull Up a Chair

I really don't need to pine over another cookbook.  But this one, Pull Up A Chair...it's just too delightful to resist.  Perhaps it was her lovable Kelly Capowski alter ego from the Saved by the Bell glory days, but Tiffani Thiessen seems like a much more relatable, dare I saw "normal" celebrity turned cookbook author.   She just doesn't seem to take herself too seriously in the vein that Gwyneth many others tend to do.  

Her recipes are reasonable, inventive but not too complicated, and at first glance, I felt like I'd make more than I wouldn't.   the sound of most.  A few that popped out at me; nectarine caprese salad, pickle and potato salad, and samosa hand pies with apple chutney (which I did make, and it was delicious).

Anyway, it's worth a perusal at the least. Bon appetit!

2018 Goals Recap

Well, here we are again.  2019 is 3 months in, and I'm just recapping my 2018 goals now.  I guess it's a slight improvement on last year, where I didn't get around to documenting until June - halfway through the year!

Here were my goals and how I did...

1. start journaling again 
I started journaling, but not super frequently, however a start is a start, amiright?

2. get outside as often as possible 
Yes, we have improved significantly on getting outside, regardless of weather (rain, shine, sun, and snow)

3. make cinnamon bread (my daughter has been asking to make this since we read this favorite book) 
I'm embarrassed to say we haven't done this yet...

4. paint my nails more often 
Yes, I do.  However, I often "forget" and write a note in my planner that says "paint nails tonight."  Is this a sign of getting old?

5. celebrate the little things 
YES!  With a few acquaintances getting some life changing news this year, I'm definitely striving to celebrate the little things and not sweat the small stuff

6. work out at least 3-4 days a week 
Yes and no. I have done better at exercising, some running, mostly cardio at home, but I find I do this in spurts.  A great stretch for 30 days and then I take time off, and then another 2 months, and then time off.  Need to improve on consistency

7. make smarter eating choices (avoid the sugar) 
Trying, not always succeeding.  Weekly meal planning and avoiding shopping while hungry certainly helps.

8. try and limit checking my email/social media to time before my kids are awake / rest time / after bedtime (i.e. avoid being on my phone in front of my kids) 
Yes, I implemented the new screen time limits on iPhone on my phone, so I get warnings when I'm approaching my daily time limit and have to ask for permission to extend the deadline. 

9. cut myself some slack (underlined three times)
I try...always a work in progress.

10. get a new instagram account for the blog up and running
Yes, come follow along over at @our_lovely_little_life

11. read 70 books (my current goal on Goodreads)
You guys...I was soooo close!  68/70 for 2018.  Which, if I do say myself is pretty damn good.  That's more than 1 book per week.  Favorites included A Place for Us, Educated, This is How It Always Is, and Where the Crawdads Sing.

12. save $--- for my destination travel fund, always inspired by this blog
We have saved, would like to save more...

Yes, I had a very productive last few months of 2018.

14. make montage videos for my kids' birthdays
Still working on it.  

15. try more savory (international) options for breakfast (getting sick of boring ol' granola over here)
We do a lot of sausage + hash browns; yogurt, granola, and honey, and baked oatmeal these day, so widening our palette, though most days they prefer Rice Krispies (go figure)

16. make pita bread from scratch for this favorite dinner which we always have in rotation 
I didn't make pita bread, but I did make a flat bread for a lamb flatbread recipe in Tasting Paris, I'll call that a win.

17. sub a few times this year (getting back in the swing of teaching, as I miss it so)
I did.  Admittedly only twice, but hey, better than nothing!  My hat is back in the ring!

18. enjoy every little moment. stop. look. listen. breathe.
Yes.  Always working on this one.  

Stay tuned for 2019 goals, coming soon!

Dream Crazier

Have you seen this new Nike campaign?  It's awesome. I love how this campaign seeks to reframe how women are seen in the context of emotion. Women showing emotion have been called dramatic, hysterical, irrational, and crazy.  Let them call us crazy.  Show them what crazy can do. 

Currently...

+ just finished this audiobook (highly recommend, her voice is so soothing) and started this one

+ also reading a paper copy of this young adult book - about 2/3 through and really enjoying it

+ been making this banana bread a lot lately

+ looking to make a dairy-free version of this next week

+ eyeing this gorgeous color for my collection

+ loving this essential oil for sleep

+ spending rest time perusing these new cookbooks I checked out from the library

+ dreaming about a vacation and staying here

+ thinking about this, an article worth reading

image/bloom

Salt Fat Acid Heat

Have you read the mega-cookbook Salt Fat Acid Heat?  Truthfully, I checked this book out from the library and found it a bit daunting.  It's packed with useful tips, tricks, and information to understand and master the art of cooking, using the four essential elements of food; salt, fat, acid, and heat.  But...it is extremely text and science heavy, which was too much for me to digest.

However, the Netflix original TV show of the same name was much more my speed!  Samin Nosrat travels the globe in search of flavor, and her travels and culinary adventures are a joy to watch.  Plus, it's only four episodes, so a quick binge.  One episode for each element.  Salt. Fat. Acid. Heat.  Check out this preview below.

Sex Education

When I initially saw the ad for the new Netflix original series, Sex Education pop up on my Netflix
feed, my knee-jerk reaction was, nah, no thanks.  Another high school show?  Really?

However, my tune changed after a close friend suggested I at least watch the two minute trailer, and give the show a chance.  This I did, and now I am recommending this show to friends and family alike in droves.  
Here's my quick synopsis.  Set in a high school in England, Otis, the main character is an awkward, sexually inexperienced boy on the outskirts of the school's social scene.  He virtually moves through his day unnoticed by most peers.  He lives with his Jean, a single mom, and successful sex therapist who is forward thinking, progressive, and very open with her son regarding dialogue about topics surrounding sex.  Otis' world mainly consists of his mom and his best friend Eric, a dynamic, energetic, openly gay kid, the only son in an immigrant family among four sisters, who while loved by his parents struggles to have them fully understand and accept his gender identity and is personal choices.  

The story takes off when Otis is unfortunately paired on an after school project with the school's bully (and headmaster's son), Adam.  After Adam exposes Otis' mom's professional life online, to unfettered ridicule and embarassment, a string of unforeseen circumstances lead Otis and mystery-girl Maeve to stumble upon Adam in an embarrassing situation, the tides having turned.  Otis, being the kind, affable teenager that he is, offers to help Adam, offering words of advice which Adam takes to heart and subscribes to.  

Maeve, who is essentially orphaned and struggling to survive on her own, sees the potential in Otis and capitalizes on this moment, suggested he provide similar sex advice to other kids in the school, charging a small fee, making this a lucrative operation for both of them.

The show is explicit, NOT little kid-friendly in the slightest - please be aware...there's nudity, explicit language, and many sexual topics covered. On the flip side, it is also incredibly heartfelt, with moments that inspire laugher and tears.  The music is spot on, and the storylines have elements of truth, humor, and believability.  I like that is is a window into high school life, highlighting that no matter where you are in the social hierarchy, everyone struggles with something, whether that be insecurity, pressure, challenges, or navigating touchy topics with parents.  

I laughed and I cried, and highly recommend!  (Truth be told, I've have already rewatched the series twice!).

Cookbook Crush: The Lost Kitchen

Have you heard of The Lost Kitchen?  It's a farm to table restaurant in Freedom, Maine that's become so hugely popular they only take reservations by written note. How clever is that?  The chef, Erin French changed to this reservation policy after seeing her demand outpaced her restaurant size.  Low and behold, she received 20,000 reservation requests!  Intrigued by this concept and her restaurant itself, I did some digging, and discovered The Lost Kitchen also has a cookbook, also titled The Lost Kitchen.

The cookbook catalogues her arduous journey to from a secret supper club to establishing the restaurant, only to be literally locked out and lose everything in a messy divorce.  I found her story extremely compelling, a bonus narrative to the pages upon pages of delicious farm fresh recipes.  Notably the rhubarb spoon cake, chamomile creme brûlée, and apple cider and rosemary sorbet (she does have more recipes than purely desserts, I assure you).  

It's a cookbook I hadn't seen on any recent bestseller lists, or Amazon bookstore shelves, but one worthy of a read, or at least a timely flip through. 

Dinner Last Night: Black Bean Sweet Potato Enchiladas

Made this for dinner last night after viewing it on Liz's instagram - a delicious meat-free entree with minimal prep.  A great weeknight meal.  Too bad it wasn't a huge hit with my kids - one of my kiddos loves sweet potatoes so I thought this recipe would be a slam dunk but...no dice.  Maybe next time?  You snooze you lose, more leftovers for mom, I guess.

image/cookieandkate

Friday Fun

+ this squash-onion bruschetta concoction sounds pretty delish

+ doesn't this sound like the loveliest 40th birthday party?

+ i've never been to charleston, but after reading bridget's post (and seeing the bea's nest) I reallllly want to go!

+ i'm not much of a super bowl watcher, but I do love super bowl fare!  thinking I might spice up my frozen trader joe's soft pretzels with these toppings

+ go vegan and you could get beyonce tickets for life...for reals!

+ pretty excited for these colorful stamps slated to debut in 2019

+ i've had a renewed zeal for this podcast lately - loving their thoughts + recommendations

Have a good weekend!

image/erineverafter

Friday Fun

How's your week been?  We've had a sick one 'round here.  That January sickness is rough, I tell ya!  It seems we're on the mend and very thankful for things like Kleenex, Netflix, and hot tea with lemon.  Hopefully you're staying healthy wherever you are.  This weekend's my birthday and I want for my birthday this year is for everyone to be happy and healthy.  Here are some links I've rounded up for the week.  Have a restful weekend!

+ dinner anyone?  How do fire roasted pulled pork stuffed peppers sound? Yuuuuummmmm!

+ need clean products for the men in your life? the mens collection, counterman launched this week!

+ New Year's resolutions based on Meyer's Briggs personality types.  Mine's spot on!

+ i'm growing bored of my breakfast routine, might need to mix it up with this

+ just put this book on hold at the library, planning to read cover to cover!

+ have you seen these 3D geode puzzles?  I'm intrigued!

+ this dairy free mint-chip smoothie sounds kind of amazing

+ kind of obsessed with my new shoes that are beyond comfortable

+ hoping to try this creative project with my kids sometime soon

+ keep your data to yourself! 15 privacy changes you should make right now


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Quote of the Week

"The opposite of a hot mess is cold, predictable, and tidy. That's not where your magic lives. Be brave and choose the mess."

~ Elizabeth Gilbert

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Dinner Last Night: Slow Cooker Beef Mushroom Stroganoff


This cookbook is a weeknight savior. Everything I've tried thus far has been fairly quick, simple in ingredients and steps, and delicious!  One of our go-to weeknight meals is her slow cooker hamburger mushroom stroganoff. While only one of my kids eats mushrooms without a fight, the prep is fairly quick and the final product is flavorful, hearty, and makes for excellent leftovers.  To make it a tad healthier I sub in almond flour for white flour and plain or unsweeneted non-dairy yogurt for sour cream.  Serve over noodles or polenta with a green salad or in our case, roasted broccoli.  Voila!  Dinner is served.

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Gymnastics

Gymnastics is my favorite - a sport I never could do myself but love to watch.  This girl from UCLA is amazing!!  Anyone else ready for the next Olympics?  

Skincare Spotlight: Charcoal Cleansing Bar


One of my favorite Beautycounter products- the charcoal cleansing bar. I bought mine back in May 2018 and it's still going strong with at least 1/3 of a bar left. This is easily one of Beautycounter’s most beloved staples, and a fan favorite.  What do you do with it? It's a facial cleansing bar, but it has so many other uses, just the other day I made a lather and used it to rinse my makeup brushes.  I keep my charcoal bar in the shower, and when I’m feeling lazy and the whole nightly face washing routine feels like too much, I lather up with this and feel refreshed and clean.

Made with charcoal powder, green tea extract, coconut oil, and witch hazel, it washes away impurities and clears pores without leaving skin feeling tight afterward. And fun fact- did you know, Jackie O swore by a charcoal bar - it was her #1 beauty secret. 

Dinner Last Night: Peanut Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Another new dinner victory - peanut chicken lettuce wraps!  I halved the chili garlic spice on my kids' portion as it was a little too much heat for their palates, but for us adults - it was perfect!  The spice of the chicken paired nicely with the soy-peanut sauce.  We served with tamari roasted broccoli and coconut rice.  Yum yum!

Dinner Last Night: Crockpot Tuscan White Bean & Lemon Soup

This soup is beyond easy, dump everything in the crockpot and hours later, voila!  My favorite kind of dinner - set it and forget it!  It was flavorful, filling, and healthy.  A new favorite to kick off 2019.


Quote of the Week

"What I want to say is
that the past is the past,
and the present is what your life is,
and you are capable
of choosing what that will be,
darling citizen.

So come to the pond,
or the river of your imagination,
or the harbor of your longing,

and put your lips to the world.
And live
your life."
- Mary Oliver, Mornings at Blackwater

image/bloom