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Weekend Wrapup Wednesday: Virginia is for Girls Trips

IMG_1044.JPG What happens when you get 3 long time friends together? That’s right – a girls trip!

This time the trip was filled to the brim with activities – the beach, DC, baseball game, the Smithsonian and lots of delicious food, food, food.

IMG_1049.JPG The Highlights:

Virginia Beach – We arrived there late Thursday night and took a beach walk to the pier. The moon cast a beautiful, eeiry glow on the water and the laughter of teenagers enjoying the last of their summers filled the air. When we arrived back to the hotel, we were disappointed to find out that a very large portion of the beach was “banned” from wading and swimming due to higher than normal levels of bacteria. After we got over the ick factor, we realized we would need to go only a few blocks south to be able to swim in the safe areas of the water.

The next day, we spent our time lounging on the beach, talking about weddings and sipping on some crazy vodka-coke concoctions.

DC: Saturday morning we ventured to DC, checked into our hotel and made our way to the metro. I somehow become the metro guide (probably because I was carrying the metro map, but I’d like to think it was because I have so much experience navigating the  Paris metro) and landed ourselves right beside the Nationals baseball stadium with a fair amount of ease. We made it to the stadium with lots of time to spare so once they opened the gates we did a couple laps to explore our food and beverage options. Let me just say, the beer was absurdly expensive, but, dear me, there was so much time to kill – and come to find out, I really can’t concentrate on baseball, like not.at.all. So I may have had one or two too many overpriced drinks by the end of the night. And oh yeah, the home team won in the 9th inning, just by a hair. 

The next day we visited the Smithsonian Musuem of American History. My fave had to be the Emancipation Proclomation exhibit that gave a brief but inspirational history of slavery, emancipation and the march on Washington in 1963. The original Star-Spangled Banner was also on display and a very large, seemingly endless exhibit on transportation in America. Afterwards, we had lunch with a college buddy of mine and her husband at the Elephant and Castle, which had the most fluffy, salty, perfect pretzels ever.

But eventually the fun had to end and we had to make our way back home. Good times were had, good stories were told and new ones were made.

<3

Note: During much of our “down” time we ended up playing this ridiculously fun game called Heads Up. If you haven’t played it, download it now, grab a friend and get ready for a ton of tears-inducing laughter.

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Eating Healthy & Saving Moolah on Vacation

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Today I head to Virginia to hang out with some high school buddies and have a fabulous ladies trip to the beach and DC. While I’m totally psyched to have this time to hang out and catch up with old friends, I’m also a wee bit nervous about my spendings since I’m unemployed and starting to feel the financial crunch. I would’ve tried to reschedule it but we’ve been planning this trip for months and so it just didn’t feel right.

But in an effort to cut down on my spendings (which will mostly be gas and food), I’ve decided to make a bunch of food that I can take with me so that I will be able to order less food when we invariably go out to eat.

On my ladies trip to the beach a month ago, I got some pretty good practice at making travel-worthy, healthy, easy food. My advice? When in doubt, cook some meat that is yummy cold (like pork tenderloin) and prep some hard veggies and fruit. Here’s what I’m taking on this go round:

•Massaged Kale salad
GF bread for sandwiches 
•Bell peppers (red are my favorite for snacking!)
•Homemade black bean hummus
•Apples (Granny Smiths are great!)
•Almond butter
•Yogurt + granola
•Mango+banana bars from Trader Joes
•Lots of water 

What kind of healthy, whole food fuels you when you’re on the go? Do you have any tried and true tricks that you use? I’d love to hear about them!

See you on the road!
<3

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Reflection Friday: On Ideas, Creation & Showing Off

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I have been struggling with the process of idea to action to publication. Does that ever happen to you? You have a great idea (or what seems great in your head) and you know you’ve got to do it. You even have the energy to make sure you have all the tools to make the idea a reality and so you start making it.

You think – awesome! I’m doing it!

But then you get stuck. You’ve thought of it, created it, maybe even taken pictures of it and now you’re thinking – what now?

Maybe you start jotting down a few lines of text that would go along with this creation, but your flow just doesn’t seem right or your written voice sounds more robotic than what you actually sound like. Sound familiar?

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I think a lot of writers, bloggers and makers go thru this, but don’t talk about it enough. To us, those other bloggers seem to create awesome, relatable, yet aesthetically pleasing content on the daily (or what feels like daily) and you’re left feeling like a poser – like how in the world can you create some awesome stories? Why does it take you so long and why do you struggle so much with getting these awesome stories and ideas out of your head and out for the rest of the world to see and be inspired?

No? Yes? Sometimes? Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t believe that. Or maybe, reader, you’re just a reader, or a creator, and not a look at me, look at me person who feels like they should be showing off to the world what they are doing, making and loving on the regular.

Well, that’s how I often feel, dear reader, like I’m trying to show something off the world, but I’m not so certain what I should be “showing off”. Sometimes that feeling is stronger than others, and sometimes it’s just my ego making me doubt myself.

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How do I get to the other side? By simply working through those feelings and start writing. Write, write and write a little more. Look over it. It may not be perfect, but no one is, so to at least some extent it is reflective of you. Accept it and move and continue to create and write. Keep on doing it and you’ll get to the other side.

My mantra to myself and you for today, friends: Accept, continue and you’ll get there.
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Awesome Things Thursday

In an effort to be more organized with what I’m posting here, I am testing out some “themes” for each day of the (work) week. And for Thursdays, I am thinking of posting my (mostly) regular mish mash of things and links I’m digging. So here’s a little list of what I’m digging, reading listening to, and testing out this week (long story short, it’s pretty much all Design Sponge):

20140731-121914-44354480.jpgA perfect healthy treat or breakfast dish

20140731-122442-44682437.jpg I was literally about to email Grace Bonney proposing a blog post about my hometown of Asheville, but it looks like Macon York beat me to it. Dang

20140731-122809-44889557.jpg Some cute DIY marbled coasters

20140731-122957-44997455.jpg Pretty much everything Jess Lively writes and says is awesome and inspirational. I listen to her podcasts regularly and am totally obsessed with her latest intention tattoo launch.

And speaking of bloggers who I love to listen to via podcast, Grace Bonney of Design Sponge is another one that fits that bill. The podcast I listened to yesterday about turning jealousy into inspiration was, well, inspiring. 

I hope you’re having an inspirational and awesome week, y’all!
<3

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Eat This: Oven Dried Tomatoes

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Although we are growing tomatoes in our container garden and we have been picking them off slowly (and usually devouring them raw with a salad or a la carte over the sink), we haven’t had such a tremendous bounty that we have needed to find ways to use them or preserve them.

Despite this fact, I made a batch of oven-dried tomatoes. I adore the sweetness of the sun-dried ones you can buy from the grocery store, and I even adore the texture. This batch that I made, actually came from a bushel that my parents bought and split with us. When we got them, there were already some that were getting soft, so I thought that this would make the perfect opportunity excuse to try my hand at oven roasting them.

I searched around Pinterest and found this recipe that seemed simple enough – no dehydrator necessary (just what I like!). I modified the recipe a wee bit by adding some of our garden-fresh basil and rosemary. And I have to tell you folks, these were so good that they were literally gone by the end of the night (which is saying something because they took nearly all day to “cook”):

Oven Dried Tomatoes (based upon Cook Like a Champion’s recipe)

  • Tomatoes (I used about 3-4 and they made 2 baking sheets full)
  • Coarse salt
  • Olive oil
  • Fresh herbs of your choice

tomatoes compare

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to lowest temperature possible. (Usually around 170ºF.)
  2. Wash and dry tomatoes, then slice them thinly as possible.
  3. Place on a foiled baking sheet cut side up.
  4. Sprinkle with salt, then drizzle with olive oil.
  5. Place herbs on top of tomatoes.
  6. Bake for 8-12 hours. (This will depend largely on the size of your tomatoes and what temperature you choose to bake them.) The tomatoes should be flexible with curled edges, and no juice should run out when you press on them.
  7. Cool on racks. Once completely cooled, store tomatoes in an airtight container in the pantry or freezer. (Or eat them all in one setting, you know, whichever you prefer).

I still have plenty of tomatoes leftover and plan on making another batch, but this time I will make sure they stick around a bit longer – maybe.

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Bake This: Gluten Free Bread

20140723-143406-52446547.jpg (Sorry about the chunk missing in the middle. Elise and I couldn’t resist!)

Last week, #toddlerelise and I packed our bags and headed over to Mamie’s (Elise’s name for her French grandmother). We always have such a good time there. Mamie’s house is filled with light, fresh food smells and hand crafted activities. It’s such a positive, inspiring and relaxing place to be – the perfect short-drive “getaway” spot.

Mamie used to make this amazing French bread, but for the past couple of years has been on a gluten free kick. She has searched and tested many different recipes and has finally found one that is good enough to make it into their morning petit déjeuner breakfast routine.

I love the bread, as well. It’s no traditional French baguette, by far, but it is the lightest, best tasting GF bread I’ve tasted, so I got the recipe from her and gave it a try. I have modified a few things – some based on Mamie’s suggestion and some because I didn’t have the exact thing on hand. The result? A very good sandwich bread! One that is approved by the whole family, even toddler Elise and Papa Bastien!

Gluten Free Bread

Recipe is based upon a recipe book that Mamie has. Unfortunately, I don’t know the name of the book right now. Check back in soon and I’ll post a link of that book here. Update: The book is called “Gluten-Free: 3 Books in One” and you can find it here.

(GF Flour Blend)
•1 c. Of white rice flour
•1 c. Of sorghum flour
•1 c. Of tapioca flour
•1 c. Of cornstarch
•1 c. Of almond or coconut flour

•3 c. Of GF Flour Blend
•2 packages (1/2 oz. total) of active dry yeast
•2 tsp. of guar gum
•1 tsp. of salt
•1 c. Of warm water
•1/4 c. Of vegetable oil
•2 eggs
•1 tsp. cider vinegar

1. Line 9×5 inch pan with aluminum foil, dull side out. Spray with cooking oil and sprinkle with flour blend.
2. Combine flour blend, yeast, guar gum and salt in bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk water, oil, eggs and vinegar. Beat wet ingredients into dry ingredients with an electric mixer until wet, shiny and smooth. If needed, add water a tablespoonful at a time into mixture.
3. Spoon batter into prepped foil pan. Cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap. Let dough rise for 30 minutes or until it has reached the top of the pan.
4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove plastic wrap and bake in oven for 35-45 min. I baked mine for 35 min and felt that it was a little too doughy, so added an extra 10 min. The bread will make a nice, hollow sound when tapped. Remove bread from pan and let cool.

Enjoy your GF bread with whatever you prefer to put on sliced bread – melted butter, jelly or maybe even some avocado and sliced ham!

Let me know how it works out for you! (Baking and me don’t always get along, if you know what I mean.) It’s gotta be one of the easiest, stress-free breads I’ve made!

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