Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Thank You: A How-To

Writing a good thank you note is a skill everyone should have in their back pocket. A nice set of stationery (I'm a huge fan of Crane & Co.) and a sincere note can go a long way.  

{Crane & Co. Stationery}

Always begin with the date at the top right corner, opposite the salutation. And don't back date it or future date it, just write the damn date you actually wrote the note. It's never too late for a thank you note!

The greeting: Begin with "Dear (salutation and surname, if a more formal relationship) or (first name if a more casual relationship) 

The gratitude: Start the body of the note directly under the "r" in "dear" for uniformity. 

Be sure to lead with "thank you" and go on to explain what you're thanking them for (is it a gift, an event they hosted, a kind gesture, etc.). 

Be sure to also include how you'll use it (we'll use the stand mixer to whip up birthday cupcakes for years to come! Or we had such a wonderful time at dinner the other night, the roast was fabulous! Or the get well soon flowers were just beautiful and really were a bright spot in my day!, 

After that, include an until next time. We can't wait to celebrate future birthdays together! Or looking forward to another dinner together soon, next time we'll host! Hopefully I'll be back at our work out classes soon so we can sweat it out together! 

Be sure to also reiterate your thanks. Thank you again for such a thoughtful gift. Or thank you again for having us to your home and for the lovely dinner and company. Or you're so sweet to think to cheer me up while I'm under the weather. 

Finally, include the closing goodbye (love, best, cheers, etc.) 

Whenever I know I am going to an event where thank you notes are sure to follow, I make sure to keep a list in my phone of who have what. That way, I can make sure everyone revives a thank you. 

Friday, August 19, 2016

Girl Time

A girls' night out was the perfect way to break up the week! A few of my neighbor girlfriends got together to grab dinner and see Bad Moms. 

{My Night Out Outfit - Gingham Top & White Jeans}

We went to dinner at Red Rocks, which rarely disappoints. Darling Husband and I are big fans of their brunch - fried chicken and biscuits, to be exact. I opted to split the almond grouper with asparagus and risotto and it was delicious! After finishing up dinner, we scooted down the block to the movies. Mild panic ensued when the marquee sign said the movie was sold out; but we all got tickets (phew!). 

The movie theatre has a bar, so after everyone got their wine and snacks of choice, we settled in to watch the movie. It was hilarious!!! Katheryn Hahn stole the show. I'm already planning to have a viewing party at home when it comes to HBO or Amazon or whatever. Jammies will be required. 

Afterwards, we pit stopped at TCBY for some fro yo and met up with everyone at Corkscrew for a nightcap and to discuss the movie. Everyone agreed it was funny and parts really resonated with my mommy friends. 
{Not a bad looking crew!}

It was such a fun evening with wonderful women. I am so lucky to have great neighbors who make for some pretty kickass friends. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Fall Is Coming

I honestly don't know what I enjoy more, playing hostess or the planning process beforehand. I was thinking about my social calendar and how fall is quickly approaching. I started thinking about hosting a fall football party and came up with the below menu. Now, the below recipes aren't super quick and easy. But, a lot of them can be made ahead of time and will make for delicious leftovers.

Apps: Brie and cranberry phyllo cups, ultimate grilled cheese triangles 

See my recipe for caramelized onion and Brie phyllo cups here. You can substitute the onions for cranberries. I just simmer them with water and sugar until they split. 

Ina Garten knows her stuff, so I'm trusting her Ultimate Grilled Cheese recipe will deliver. 

Soup: butternut squash shooters 
I made this butternut squash soup for thanksgiving and loved it!

Just the thought of fall weather makes me want to slap on some leggings and a big sweater and dive into a bowl of something hearty and warm. When I came across this recipe for caramelized onion and bacon risotto, I knew I just had to add it to the menu! 

Main: chicken satay with roasted sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts 
Roasted sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts are a pretty consistent side dish for me during the fall and winter. They're easy to make in a big batch and go with everything. 

Dessert: pumpkin pie, spice cake mix cookie sandwiches
Pumpkin pie in miniature form is a must (you don't need to deal with slicing and serving a pie while making sure not to crumble the crust). 
Spice cake mix cookie sandwiches are so easy (I love to make a chocolate and peanut butter variety, also) and taste perfect!

Drinks: plenty of beer (pumpkin and regular) and wine (mulled in the crock pot and regular).

Once Fall rolls around, I'll have to whip up the above menu!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

In The Kitchen: Chimichangas

Baked Chimichangas

Growing up in Southern California, I came to know, love, and appreciate Mexican food. While the Mexican food scene in NC is a lacking, I thought I'd make my own chimichangas, since there isn't an El Ranchito nearby. And, since I don't have a deep fryer, I decided to bake them (that makes them healthy in my book). 

2 chicken breasts
1 packet taco seasoning
1/4 cup cream of chicken soup
1/2 - 1 jar of your favorite salsa (we are a Green Mountain Gringo family) 
6 tortillas (the taco size, not the burrito size) 
1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend 

Spray down your crock pot with non-stick cooking spray. Put the chicken breasts in the bottom, cover with dollops of cream of chicken soup, then layer on the taco seasoning and salsa. Cook on low 8 hours or 4 hours on high.

Once that's finished cooking, shred and stir in cheese. 

Place about 1/3 cup chicken in the center of each tortilla. Fold in the sides and roll up. Place seam side down on a greased cookie sheet. Brush the tops with a little melted butter. 

Bake at 350 for 15 min. Turn. Bake for another 15. 

Serve with black beans, guacamole, and pico de gallo. ¡Olé! 

Monday, August 15, 2016

No Sweat

Living in the south, I've quickly learned that Summer's here are HOT! Despite the heat, when the skies are clear and the sun in shining, a lot of time is spent outside after work and on the weekends. I've learned to adapt my wardrobe to the weather conditions. Moisture wicking dresses have quickly become my heaven-sent go-to. You look effortlessly put together and you can sweat it out without anyone noticing. Plus, they don't wrinkle! 

Eddie Bauer - I picked up this dress in 3 colors the other week when they were on sale. I like wearing them on the weekends with sandals and then with a cardigan and pumps during the work week. Double duty win.

Jude Connally - I am completely obsessed with this entire brand! The prints are beautiful, the cuts flattering, and while the price point is a little steep, I can usually find them on sale at Monkee's. Darling Husband picked up a few for my birthday this year. I was ecstatic! Clearly he knows his audience.

 I love when I find great brands that work with my lifestyle.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

A Simple Moment & My Heart Exploded

Let me set the stage for this one. I was cleaning up after dinner the other night. Darling Husband had decided to take one for the team and swiffer the entire downstairs. (Yay!) Well, I guess Penny Pellegrino had taken an interest in the swifter because, as I'm loading the dishwasher, I hear my love say, "Oh! Penny be careful! You don't want that on your paws, sweetie!" And my heart exploded. Not only was Darling Husband swiffering (there is nothing more soothing to me than a clean and organized home), but he was being completely adorable with our little fluffy kitten. It was the smallest comment, but it was fully loaded with love, care, and adoration for Penny. 😻😻

I'm so happy to be married to such a charming man.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

In The Kitchen

After discovering the new-to-me frozen fish section of the grocery store, I knew I wanted to include shrimp in one of our dinners this past week. I decided on shrimp scampi and am so pleased with how it turned out! Also, while I was slaving away preparing a hot, home cooked meal for Darling Husband and myself, I decided to uncork a bottle of white we had chilling. After all, the recipe called for white wine, so it was going to be opened anyway. I am usually a red wine drinker, but really enjoyed how dry and mellow this Beringer Chardonnay was. I think meals just turn out better when you're sipping a glass of wine while cooking. 

{Chardonnay, you okay!}

2 servings of linguine, prepared 
1 12 ounce bag frozen shrimp
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons extra Virgin olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine (plus a glass to sip on while you cook) 
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
Zest and juice of half a lemon 
Salt and pepper to taste 
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional (I forgot these. Whoops.) 

Prepare the linguine according to the instructions on the package and drain. 

In a large skillet, melt the butter and olive oil. Add garlic and sauté for about a minute and DON'T let it burn. Burnt garlic tastes shitty and bitter. Add the wine (sip your wine), seasoning with salt and pepper and the red pepper flakes if you choose. Let that simmer for 2-5 minutes, until it has reduced by half. 

Add your shrimp and sauté until they turn pink, about 2 minutes a side. Stir in the parsley, lemon zest, and lemon juice. 

Add in linguine and stir to combine. Plate and top with additional parsley (gotta love that just-for-show green) and serve with garlic bread if you want additional carbs, like I did.