gardening 101..sort of…

Hello, hello, my dear friends…

So, as my insta from yesterday foreshadowed, today shall be about my garden(s).  P and I have been very into planting this summer and last, both flowers and vegetables.  When I moved into my house (and P later joined me), there was a lot of great potential, but it was (and some still is) hidden under overgrowth, and a lack of upkeep by the previous owner.  We were all bright eyed and bushy tailed going into planting last spring, basically thinking it would be cake.  Now, over a year later, we’re thinking this is the hardest project we’ve ever undertaken.  Alright, that might be dramatic, but this is NOT easy, people.

I’m going to share with you a couple of our projects, my advice, and just my general thoughts on how to keep a garden that is fruitful (lol, GET IT), but not overwhelming-and you can trust me, because most of what I’m about to tell you is based on my own mistakes and attempts to remedy them.  The rest is from my mom, brother, and good friend K who have incredible green thumbs, and have taught me everything I know….

  1. DO NOT, I REPEAT, DO NOT GET IN OVER YOUR HEAD THE FIRST TIME AROUND.  This is so crucial, you guys.  START SMALL.  You can always do more, but once you get into weeding, watering, etc., it is so easy to get overwhelmed.  Start with a small area, with pots or planting boxes, anything that will set you up for success with the maintenance of it all.  The sweet, sweet, love of my life, P, was adorable and ambitious last spring, we planted a huge garden, and a LOT of it went to shit-a. because we didn’t have the time for upkeep, b. because I don’t think either of us expected the amount of work it would take, and c. because we didn’t go in with a proper plan…..which takes me to the next point….
  2. HAVE A PLAN.  This seems like it would be unnecessary, and that I’m annoying and neurotic, and that I don’t know how to let loose and have fun and just go with the flow, but I promise you, if you do not plan YOU WILL REGRET IT.  Luckily, P took me seriously and measured an exact area for everything we planted, *swoon*, which made a huge difference.  If you’re starting from seed, there will be instructions on the packets for how far apart you should plant each plant, and how much space you should leave between rows.  While there is a little flexibility (aka don’t get in there with your ruler to 1/8th of an inch) pay attention to those! Not only does it help with the growth of the plants, they are great measurements to help you plot out where you’ll plant everything.
  3. Have a plan for weeds.  This absolutely killed P and me last year.  This year, he decided he wanted to paper and mulch over our soil (I fought him tooth and nail) because we have a bunch of mulch from trees we had put through the wood chipper.  I’m much more old school, and wanted to do the classic plant, weed, water, all summer, and not deal with rolling out the paper or spreading the mulch.  Cue P to the rescue.  He papered and mulched (I helped at the tail end), and for the most part, it’s worked pretty well.  I will caution you to make sure that when you plant, make sure to move enough mulch out of the way of your seed hole-if you don’t, you could smother the little seedlings and you do NOT want that, do you?

NOW, as you might have gleaned from my post yesterday, I haven’t been the best garden mommy the last couple weeks (or this summer in general, *sigh*) because I have been so busy with work, wedding, life, family, etc.  Here’s a list of what I have been doing, and a list of what I should be doing, to give you a little peak into my day to day life….

I have been:

  • Buying out Marshall’s, TJMaxx, At Home, Target, Jo-ann Fabrics, etc. for all things wedding related
  • Working out like a fiend
  • Stress eating (ironic when you consider my last bullet)
  • Taking 3 ashwaganda every morning for my stress
  • Doing all the following at the wedding barn:
    • Painting concrete block foundation (in case anyone was wondering, it absorbs paint like a sponge, YAY)
    • Moving about a billion pieces of firewood to various locations
    • Moving another billion pieces of equipment, including but not limited to, boats, planes (not kidding), tractors, trailers, windows, pipes, et al
    • Putting up screen
    • Putting up galvanized siding
    • Sweeping 100 years worth of dirt
  • Having my bridal shower (so fun)
  • Binge drinking my entire bridal shower weekend a la Colgate 2013
  • Getting my wedding dress!!
  • Shopping for bridal shower outfits
  • Shopping for wedding dress shoes
  • Trying desperately to figure out what gifts to buy everyone for my wedding, SO HARD

I have not been:

  • Writing blog posts (deepest apologies)
  • Taking the beauty vitamins I promised myself I would
  • Getting enough sleep
  • On a wedding diet
  • Cleaning my house
  • Cooking as much as I usually do
  • Working in my GARDEN

Which brings me to my point: gardens are amazing because even when you neglect them, they still grow!!!  Now, I have had some super-sized zucchini that aren’t good for eating (flavor is off, but shred them and freeze to use in muffins and cakes!! Waste not, friends), and I’ve lost some lettuce (gets bitter when you leave it for too long), but I went down to my garden the other day and found this INCREDIBLE bounty:

garden veggies.JPG

Broccoli (one of my faves), corn, zucchini, and beets-AMAZING, right!?  It inspired me to make two of my favorite , most simple recipes, which I will kindly outline for you all below-ENJOY!

Roasted Beets:

This has to be one of the absolutely fucking easiest recipes to ever grace our beautiful planet.  I hated beets when I was a kid-I always thought they tasted like dirt.  But, a switch flipped one day in my early adulthood, and now I cannot get enough.  I do not, however, like them steamed or boiled.  I mean, will I eat them that way?  Sure, I guess.  BUT nothing BEETS roasted BEETS (get it!?!?! I’m hilar).  So, here’s all you guys have to do:

  • Chop off the beet greens by cutting into the top of the beet, slightly-this makes it so they’ll be easy to peel, and you don’t want to deal with tiny little beet green stalks when you’re roasted.
  • Wash thoroughly-beets come out of the dirt.  So they’re dirty.  It’s very simple.
  • Peel with a small, sharp knife-the skin is very thin but it’s necessary to peel them because you don’t want it to shrivel and wrinkle in the roasting process-you want the outside of the beet to get juicy and caramelized and crispy, YUM.
  • Cut into small cubes (maybe ½ inch-1 inch) and toss in olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, whatever you want.  I’ll do turmeric sometimes and it is BOMB.
  • Spread on a baking sheet and bake that shit OFF for about a half hour, stirring a couple times to make sure they’re roasting evenly
  • EAT UP! I know this sounds so simple and boring, but I promise it’s not-they’re so salty, and sweet, and crispy, and delicious, and AHEM, so good for you.  What more could you ask for?

beets 1beets 2

Now, on to one of my personal favorite ways to eat zucchini.  ZUCCHINI FRIES.  You can, of course, fry these, but I chose to bake because 1) my wedding diet, and 2) I actually prefer them this way sometimes-they crisp up in the oven and don’t get greasy when you do them this way, and let me tell you they are fucking good.  And easy! It’s a win win.

Here’s what you have to do:

  • Slice up zucchini into whatever size fries you want-thinner will obviously cook faster, but it’s totally your call
  • Line a baking sheet with foil and brush liberally with vegetable oil-this is important so the fries don’t get stuck while they’re crisping
  • Get a dish, bowl, whatever (needs to be long enough to fit zucchini strips!) and beat 2 eggs and a little half and half-this is going to coat the zucchini so it will hold the bread crumbs that we’re making in our next step….
  • In a second dish/bowl mix together italian seasoned breadcrumbs (about a cup), parmesan cheese (½ cup, give or take), generous sprinkling of garlic powder, paprika, salt, and pepper.  You can add more if you want, but this is basic and perfect and works every time!
  • Now, for the fun part: dunk each “fry” in the egg wash, make sure that slimy goodness is all over the little guy, then coat with the delicious bread crumbs-make sure you coat them well!!
  • Slap those babies on the pan and bake at 425 for 20-25 mins
  • Optional: broil for a few minutes at the end to make them extra crispy and delicious (10/10 would recommend to a friend)
  • Also optional: DIPPING SAWCE-but, again, highly recommend, I will list below-apologies in advance for the lack of precise measurements
    • ½ cup mayo
    • ½ cup sour cream
    • Generous sprinkle of garlic powder
    • Juice of ½ a lemon
    • Liberal drizzle of your hottest hot sauce
    • Chopped fresh herb of your choice (parsley or dill would be the move, IMHO)
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • Fresh garlic/lemon zest optional

 

EAT UP! The cute dipping bowl is from one of my good friends at my shower this weekend, and I LOVE IT (Pier1, i believe).  A quick note: you’ll notice I didn’t exactly give you starting quantities for the veggies in these recipes.  That’s because they can be done in literally any quantity you want.  Especially with gardening, sometimes you’ll have a bounty, sometimes you’ll have a few items-work with what you’ve got, and these are great recipes for when you don’t have time to be exact.  Which, coincidentally, is my whole life.

Enjoy, friends!! I’ll be better about posting and will hopefully be back and better than ever again very soon!

XO,

S

Sunday Funday

Happy Monday, friends!

So I’m sure most (all) of you hate Mondays-you are not alone there, trust me.  But, in a moment of sweet introspection yesterday, I was thinking about how much I absolutely love Sundays.  Like LOVE them, people.  Even though I know some of you probably disagree, there’s something so fun, relaxing, and comforting about a Sunday.  Sometimes we’re hungover and P and I plant our fat, gross asses on the couch and watch 25 episodes of Weeds/Parks and Rec-we obvi fight over which show to watch, can you guess who prefers which?  Don’t be wrong…. And the binge watching is also accompanied by binge eating-if you can’t relate to that you should probably stop reading my blog.  Kidding, but there will be plenty of posts like that to come.  But I’m getting OFF TRACK.  What’s new?

Anyway, my usual Sunday consists of grocery shopping, cleaning the house, maybe some yard work, food prep, and I try (emphasis on TRY) to cook an amazing dinner because I actually have time-like seriously, what’s not to love about that?  Aside from working Monday morning, that I do understand.  BUT it got me thinking about two very different kinds of Sundays-the “I binge drank last night and I’m going to lounge and lazy around and eat every greasy, sweet, fatty thing I can find,” type Sunday, and the “This is the dawn of a new fucking day and I am a healthy queen greeting the coming week by storm,” type.  I have been to those poles and everywhere in between, and I am going to give you a play by play of what I did yesterday because, wait for it, I think I MET IN THE MIDDLE.  That’s right, all of you are probably amazed at the BALANCE in my life.  Don’t be fooled, though, it’s definitely not all the time.  But I’d like to celebrate this one time with all of you. So, I’m going to walk you through my day, meal by meal (snacks not pictured/discussed, to save time and energy).  Here it GOES….

Wegman’s Run-8:30am

So I know most people say not to grocery shop on an empty stomach-sometimes I agree, but most times I actually LOVE doing this.  Why, you ask?  Because I feel like I’m most in tune with my body when I’m hungry-not starved, just hungry.  Normally, I need to down a cup of coffee (or two, I know, I’m bad) first thing in the morning, and postpone food for a bit.

DISCLAIMER*****I am NOT, by any means, a nutritionist-I have just spent years of my life listening to my body and trying to do right by her.  What I do works for me, and might not work for you.  Because we’re all different people…imagine that!!  Ok, back to it…

Since I usually stick to coffee for an hour or two after waking up, and I hardly ever wake up starving (exceptions, of course), I LOVE to grocery shop early in the morning.  It doesn’t hurt that Wegmans is an actual war zone after 10am, so all these things combined is all the motivation I need.  I always go in with a list that contains the basics-eggs, almond milk (and regular milk), vegetables, fruits, cheese, meat, etc.  BUT I find that if I have a little pang of hunger, I’m more likely to buy things that my body has a visceral reaction to.  And, wait for it, these choices are mostly good and healthy.  Like, I know I want fruit, but when I have to swab drool off my chin after smelling ripe nectarines, that’s probably a move.  When I see blueberries and want to dump the container into my mouth, that’s another good sign.  When I see fresh squeezed OJ or lemonade (this is crack, FYI) and want to bathe in it, I know I probably should buy some.  You get the picture.  AND, believe it or not, both the time of day and my hunger usually prevent me from buying naughty things.  LIke, as much as I love cookies, chips, whatnot, I don’t want them at 8am.  So I hardly ever buy them (except when I buy them for P, because he’s a growing boy), or if they’re on my list-see how it works!?  I totally feel like you guys are getting it, and that you get me, so we’re going to move on to Phase 2 of my day.

“Meal” Prepping

So I don’t meal prep, per se.  I never create entire meals, or cook up all the food I buy in advance.  I know this totally works for some people, but I have a weird thing about reheating food, especially vegetables, more than once.  Or even once, to be honest-P makes fun of me.  BUT what I do do (lol) is cook up things I know i’ll want to snack on/eat on the go throughout the week.  I try to cook or make dinner every night, but as far as breakfast, lunch, snacks, I want them to be easy and quick, especially right now on my quest to be a beautiful (toned, skinny, etc.) bride.  So here’s what I usually prep:

Hard boiled eggs-I LOVE EGGS.  Especially hard boiled.  I usually buy about a dozen to cook to eat (I can’t get enough of a good over easy, runny yolk egg) and a second dozen to hard boil and eat in salads, by themselves, however I want.  I ALWAYS buy cage free and organic-I had chickens growing up (P and I are working on a brood of our own) and for me there’s a huge difference in taste, not to mention how fucking cruel these poor guys are treated in most facilities.  Cage FREE people, get after dat DARK YOLK.

Chicken/other meat for salads/snacks.  I always buy lunch meat (usually roast beef, turkey, and some kind of sliced cheese) both because P likes sandwiches, but also because it’s easy, yummy, etc.  I also, however, like to have some chicken or the like ready to plop on a salad or eat by itself with some veggies as a lunch or snack.  P has this pet peeve about hot meats on salads, which is hard on our relationship because I almost love nothing more than steamy hot steak or chicken over cold salad greens. But you get the picture, yes?

Cut up fruit. Or vegetables. Or both.  During the summer this means cut up watermelon.  I eat a watermelon a week, and I’m not joking.  P dips into my stash every once in a while, but hardly ever.  I don’t have much more to say, other than that I LOVE WATERMELON.  Substitute any other melon, pineapple, etc., and you’ll be good to go.  This helps me not only with food waste, but also encourages me to go for the fruit rather than something else.

Freeze fruit from last week-I’ve gotten into this habit recently, and I have no idea why I’ve never done it before.  The almost-on-their-way-out berry, melon, etc. is a MAJESTIC addition to your smoothie-just freeze it and you have this perfect, ripe, bag of deliciousness ready for smoothies, margaritas, whatever you fucking want.  AND it cuts down on food waste.  Amazing.

Sweet potatoes.  I can’t get enough and I never will.  I chop up, bake until crisped up and almost black on one side.  I’ll snack on these like crack and I don’t even care because they’re SO GOOD FOR YOU.  Enough said.

So, as I meal prep, I’m getting hungry, duhhhh.  I’ve been in a smoothie phase lately because of P, and it’s been a billion degrees.  SO here’s what I made-it’s super easy and you can substitute basically all the ingredients to fit your dietary restrictions/needs/preferences.  Keep in mind I’m BAD BAD BAD at measuring, and I’m sorry, and will try to be better.  Promise.

Sunday Smoothie

Heaping handful of spinach-I like to rip it up a little to help things blend

1 banana-the riper the better

1 cup (ish) of Wegmans vanilla almond milk-I brand plug here only because theirs is the best I’ve ever had

About a cup of any frozen fruit of your choice-I used strawberries and peaches on this particular occasion

Blend that shit up in your blender of choice (I have a Ninja and am obsessed with it)

Sprinkle granola on top-totally optional, and I don’t always do it, but when I do, it’s awesome-Purely Elizabeth cannot be beaten (Ancient Grain is the best flavor)

smoothie

I change this recipe up all the time, but I always keep the spinach, almond milk, and banana as the base.  It’s so versatile and you can add kefir, yogurt, protein powder, literally anything to make it suit your needs.

After I guzzle down this smoothie it’s time for some yard work with P-I’ll spare you the details, but he got  mini-excavator over the weekend, so let’s just say we’ve been doing a lot of digging.  And raking.  And picking rocks.  SoOoOoO fun.  Let’s skip ahead to lunch time…

So remember before when I was talking about balance?  Here’s where it comes into play (also with dinner, but be patient, I’ll get there!).  Whenever I have a salad, I want something that is healthy, but also feels hearty.  On Sundays, it’s always extra important for it to feel a little more luxurious, and indulgent, because half the time, and I’m often coming off of a weekend of drinking and eating like idgaf.  So it’s kind of like I want to feel like a health queen but also need a little hair of the dog-foodwise, not alcohol wise.  Cue this salad.  I picked the lettuce from my garden (stay tuned for some posts about gardening, I’ll get there) and used all the delicious food I got from the grocery store, PLUS my amazing cousin’s homemade prosciutto.  Crisped, of course, because I (and you) deserve it.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I am SORRY that I’m bad at measuring-I will try and do better, but for now, here is my best guestimation…

Sunday Salad

2ish cups of lettuce of your choice-I like arugula or the mesclun mix I have in my garden-slice it tear it, whatever you want to do to get it into bite sized pieces

1 ripe nectarine or peach-RIPE RIPE RIPE or it’s no fun-cut it up into bite sized pieces, you’re done, baes

Generous sprinkle (lol oxymoron, anyone?) of blue cheese or gorgonzola

Sprinkle of toasted pecans (it’s pecAns not pecAHns, FYI)

4-5 slices of prosciutto, crisped* and crumbled

*You can crisp one of two ways-stick it in a pan like bacon until it’s crispy, or in the oven-oven def works better, but takes longer, so I used a pan because I’m IMPATIENT when I’m hungry

lettuce beetsprosciuttoprosciutto cooking

Dressing: this is important because I used a derivative of Ps favorite caesar recipe-will do that recipe first then will get into how I doctor it up

1ish (I’m so sorry) cup mayo

Generous squeeze (1.5 tsp ish) anchovy paste

Juice of half a lemon

⅓ cup grated parmesan cheese

2-3 cloves garlic

3-4 dashes Worcestershire sauce

1.5 tbsp large grain Dijon mustard

¼ cup olive oil-optional, I prefer it with this but P does not

Salt

Papper

BLEND that shit up and taste/adjust when necessary-I generally just plop all of this into my ninja and go from there.  A great variation is to sub half the mayo for avocado, YUM.  So for the dressing for my salad I just changed it as follows:

Took like 2-3 tbsp of the caesar and put it in a bowl with balsamic vin, a little maple syrup, teeny bit more lemon juice, mix mix mix.  VOILA.  So easy, especially because I always keep that caesar in the fridge anyway…

sunday salad

Now i’m running out to get dog food, see my dad, my aunt, and plan some rehearsal dinner stuff (EXCITING).  Came home to more yard work and started working up my appetite for dinna.

 

SO, we are now moving on to dinner. I always like a good homemade pizza, burger, pasta something on a Sunday, because it’s delish, indulgent, and comforting.  Yesterday, because it was so hot and I’m trying to be healthy, I decided to go with the salmon burgers I bought at Wegs.  Also always a good idea to eat or freeze seafood within a day or two of buying it.

 

Sunday Salmon Burgers (I hope you guys have noticed the alliteration by now-I DID NOT PLAN IT, I’m just that good)-keep in mind this recipe is for both P and me, aka it feeds 2

 

2 Wegmans salmon burgers, pre-made: THESE ARE CRACK.  They are amazing, I’ve tried so many salmon burgers in my lifetime, these are the best. Forever and ever. Amen.

2 brioche buns (amazing no matter where you get them)

2 sweet potatoes, cut however you like-I made “fries” and baked them to my liking (425 for like 20-25 mins)

Special Sunday Sauce: mayo, sour cream, hot sauce, lemon juice, garlic powder, salt, pepper, in whatever proportions you like

Sliced tomato (optional)

Lettuce of your choice (I used spinach, also optional)

 

Best part is these are SO EASY-cook salmon burgers as directed, plop sweet potato fries on the plate, spread the sauce on your (hopefully) toasted bun, add tomato and lettuce, you’re done.  I DO NOT have a picture of this from last night because we wolfed them so quickly.  I am so so so incredibly sorry, I’m a bad person for not sharing this with you.  But trust me, they were amazing.  And the perfect thing to scratch the itch to indulge on Sunday evening, without having a greasy Five Guys burger that makes you feel like you want to go into a food coma.  I know from experience.  I also love Five Guys.

 

That’s all she wrote, folks!  For now, at least.  Stay tuned for more to come, and hope you enjoy these recipes next Sunday OR, better yet, before then.  Because they’re amazing any day of the week.

 

XO,

S

S&Ps Wedding Part 1

So let me apologize for teasing you, promising this post on like 3 separate occasions…. BUT, I have had an unbelievably crazy week with work, wedding planning, personal stuff, etc., so please please take my heartfelt apology and forgive me.  I am going to do everything in my power to make this post worth the wait!

So, as I mentioned at some other point in time (I think), my fiance and I are doing the majority of this wedding ourselves-I’m talking EVERYTHING.  We’re doing it at our wonderful neighbor’s barn, which I think is perfect (I have vision) but P isn’t as thrilled about it-that’s probably because it needs a complete renovation and, wait for it, they started YESTERDAY.  That’s right, our wedding is less than two months away and our venue is not complete….Laughing so I don’t cry….But in all honesty, I know it will get done-my mom is this super human power bitch who manages to get anything and everything she needs to done, even if it’s by the skin of her teeth.  The barn is going to need its own separate post, so let me move on to what I’m going to call:

S&Ps Wedding, Part 1

Ok, so, I’m going to give you a little taste of what we’ve done so far, and a couple teasers for posts to come.  Let’s start with the…

  1. Flowers. My AMAZING friend K is not a florist but might as well be-she has the greenest thumb on the planet and has been so unbelievably helpful to me throughout the last few months, planting, advising, etc.  The vision is as follows: galvanized metal and dusty greens, grays, blues, some purple, and white.  I NEVER thought I’d be a neutral bride, but nonetheless here we are, and gray is basically my favorite color.  I love the look of galvanized because, well, what the fuck is not to like?  It’s rustic, neutral, but gives a subtle sheen that just does it for me.  *sigh…*  We’ve also decided that instead of buying favors, we’re going to plant a wide variety of flowers, succulents, herbs, etc., in manageable sized pots, and let people take those.  P doesn’t believe in favors, but I wanted to do at least something small for those who wanted it.  I legitimately can’t get over what an amazing idea I think this is.  Not only was it cheap, easy, and fun to make, BUT, how many people keep favors for years to come?  Hopefully some of my guests have green thumbs, but if not it’s ok-this is why we did a lot of succulents, they’re basically impossible to kill.  Now that I’ve talked it up, let me share with you a few pics that will show what I’m talking about.  Pay special attention to the clogs that I found for $1 at a garage sale, because they’re everything, AND the succulents, because they’re just my favorite…More to come via insta, I promise!

 

  1. Invitations.  So this was a big debacle because I had no idea what I wanted, BUT I wanted the invite and the save the date to go together (aesthetically), and I also didn’t want to spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars on something that people are going to see, appreciate for a second, then probably throw away (did you guys like my run-on sentence!?).  Simultaneously, I wanted them to be the most beautiful invitations anyone has ever seen and I want them to perfectly embody me, P, and our wedding…are you sensing my struggle yet? FEAR NOT, friends, because I managed it-I custom designed both our save the dates and invitations/response cards through Zazzle, and I love the way they turned out.  HIGHLY recommend, you guys, they have so much variety and you can make them as customized as you want, for the most part.  They’re definitely not the old fashioned, feel of the paper, kind of invites, but trust, they look amaze, and I love them-what else even matters, amiright?  AND, to make them slightly more special, my amazing friend R addressed them all with her beautiful calligraphy.  Splash of sophistication if you ask me, and she did it fo free, because she’s a majestic angel.  And, wait for it, there were a couple she couldn’t do/I forgot to give her (oops) and my OTHER friend, L, finished those in the most incredible fashion…it pays to have talented friends, let me tell you.  I’m one lucky gal….see below…

invites processinvites staged

  1. Ceremony decorations.  So, as if I didn’t already love P enough, he happens to be the handiest man on the motherfucking planet.  He has and continues to build the most amazing projects for this wedding, and with each passing day, my little heart swells with joy, pride, and love, because they’re AMAZING.  I’m talking professional quality, people.  So, here’s what he’s done so far…our wedding arch, *swoon*, and kegerator (double *swoon*)….

They’re incredible, and somehow he has captured the vision of literally EXACTLY what I want-there will be more to come on this front, but here’s how we did it, for the most part.  Unfortunately, I can’t tell you much about the building process-he generally just finds good quality plans online, or watches a couple youtube tutorials and goes from there. For the kegerator, I guess calling it that is a little misleading-it’s actually just a frame that will fit 4 1/6th kegs in an iced bucket underneath-he also bought the cooling panel (you can get these at most restaurant supply stores, some are used for decently cheap), to make sure the beer is ice cold.  My involvement was limited to being his assistant and nailing on the barnwood facade-I should also mention, I painstakingly designed it too-you might think I’m joking, but I literally planned out every piece of barnwood so the color, texture, pattern, etc,, looked right.  It’s all about PERFECTION PEOPLE.  The wedding arch was all P and I have no idea how he did it.  It’s absolutely the best thing I’ve ever seen.  The only piece of info I can give you, is that if you’re trying to do something similar, use cedar-it weathers majestically, and for some reason it’s the only wood you should use for things like this

  1. LAVENDER.  I’m obsessed with lavender.  The way it looks, smells, EVERYTHING about it.  So, I wanted to incorporate it into my wedding, somehow. I was looking all over good ole Pinterest, and came across the most amazing idea-toss lavender instead of rice, glitter, bird seed, blahdy blah whatever people throw at weddings (my mom also told me rice kills the birds which depressed me, I don’t like glitter, and I’m not tryna get pelted with fucking bird seed at my own wedding-so this seemed like the only option).  Luckily, my dad had a bunch growing in his backyard, so we snipped it, tied it in bunches with twine, and hung it to dry-incredibly easy.  The only things you need to pay attention to are as follows: make sure bundles are small enough so they can really “dry;” if you have them too big, the moisture will get stuck and they can get moldy, YUCK, make sure you dry them in a relatively dry place aka not a steam room, greenhouse, bathroom, etc.-there needs to be plenty of air flow!!  Other than that you’re good to go, see the pictures below for exactly how easy it is!!!

lavender cutlavender basketlavender hanging

Alright, you guys, I appreciate you taking the time to read, as always!! I’m going to try to be better about posting with more frequency, but life gets crazy sometimes!! I’ll have a couple FAB recipes coming your way soon, and can’t wait ti delve into wedding posts parts 2, 3, 4, however many it takes so you can all feel like you’re there with me on my big day.

XO,

S

P.S. MY DRESS COMES TUESDAY!!!!!!! Stay tuned….

Happy 4th of July, everyone!!!!

Those who know me know that this is my favorite holiday; it has all my favorite things.  To avoid being my usual, long-winded self, I’m going to make a list to save you all the pain of reading a blog post turned novel.  SO….

  1. BBQ/cookout/grill food: is there ANYTHING more appealing than firing up a grill in the middle of a beautiful summer day (it is, by the way, 75 and sunny here and I’m currently writing this in my bathing suit in the backyard, not to rub it in).  The smell of smoke, the the fact that’s it’s ok to eat only meat and NO VEGETABLES except CORN (not a veg, I know, I know) ALL DAMN DAY. Ugh…it’s almost too good to be true.  Except it’s not.  Because it’s the 4th OF JULY.
  2. Festive bevs: if I didn’t love day drinking already, how could I resist red, white, and blue concoctions with enough sugar and booze to knock me out both from alcohol poisoning and type 2 diabetes?  I’m also having visions of a cold ass beer (Corona or Bud Light Lime come to mind, also Sam Adams Porch Rocker as a shout-out to P) on a boat, by the pool, literally on any body of water-ocean is obvi ideal, but we’re landlocked  here in upstate NY, friends.  Unfortunately, my upcoming wedding has me on a strict(er than normal, aka I’m not drinking/eating whatever I want) diet than usual, BUT, do not fear-I have a recipe coming up that will knock your RWB socks off, AND it’s “skinny.”
  3. Family and friends and NO WORK.  I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels like I get lost in the shuffle sometimes, never having enough time to see my family, friends, plus work, eat, exercise, clean, blahdy blah-sorry, am I boring you?  BUT today is a day where you (hopefully) have to worry about NOTHING.  Except maybe where your American flag coozie is so you can bring it to your family’s cookout (double shoutout to P, that is going to be him this afternoon), and if that’s the case you might also have to worry about making sure your drunk cousins don’t steal it…maybe that’s just my family?
  4. AMERICA!!!!  Not in a fuck all other countries, we’re the best and whitest and strongest, most macho man, I mean country, on earth kind of way.  But in a fuck yes, we’re incredible despite imperfections, we’re still learning, and working, and figuring our shit out, and let’s celebrate hundreds of years of sacrifice by so many, and ultimately be thankful for the freedom that we all enjoy.  Before I go on to the mushy part of this post, disclaimer: patriotism tends to get me emotional-it doesn’t help that P is in the military, and so are many people in my life that I love and care about.  And I promise I will not get political, I’m just going to give my two cents, so here goes:

I think sometimes people think about being patriotic as being ignorant-like we can’t blindly stand by a country whose decisions and actions we don’t all agree with.  Agree.  But I tend to think about it in a different way-it’s about unconditional love.  I was listening to the news this morning, and God Bless America was playing, aka I’m in my kitchen sobbing while making cupcakes, totally par for the course.  All of a sudden I hear, “stand beside her, and guide her,” and, to me, that has to be the most important line in the whole song. When you love unconditionally, you don’t bail when things get hard, or shitty, or you disagree, or things are said that aren’t meant, or whatever shitty things happen in a relationship.  When something is not perfect, we don’t abandon and find something new, but rather we choose to support anyway-not to say we agree or condone, but we are still here-with the hope that we’ll see this through to a better time.  We’re here for our friends, our family, our fellow Americans, so how about let’s be here for America. To not only stand beside in hard times, but to guide her through these times to, hopefully, a better and brighter place.  This isn’t new, you guys!!! People have been doing it for hundreds of years.  So let’s keep the faith because it’s about standing by in hard times, and going full speed ahead to better times, it’s about not giving up.  Always has been.

Ok, so, now that I’ve gotten that little piece of America love off my chest, I’m going to share some FAB recipes for today-easy, patriotic, delicious, and one is skinny, while the other is filled with sugar and cals, because BALANCE.

Ok so, my favorite WATERMELON MARGARITA.  This is SO EASY you guys, like I can’t even tell you.  Ingredients first, then recipe, even though it’s kind of redundant, because did I mention it’s really easy?

WHAT YOU NEED:

Decent tequila

I always go for Altos, it’s my fav, but anything will do) silver, anejo, reposado, does not matter-they’re all perfect for what we’re about to do.

Triple sec

P and I fight about this alllllll the time, because he doesn’t believe in triple sec, so, as an ode to him, I will say this: you can substitute agave syrup, BUT I do not like it as much, plus you might have to add a little H20 to keep the amount of liquid the same..basically, my way is better.

Fresh limes

I usually say 1 lime/margarita.

Fresh or frozen watermelon

MUST BE RIPE-this is crucial, otherwise it won’t add enough subtle sweetness, and you’ll be stuck with a drink with sub-par watermelon flavor-not ok.  I would say like 3-5ish (emphasis on the ISH) 1 inch cubes (I’m awful at measuring, so DO NOT HATE ME if this is slightly off) per marg. Fresh or frozen does not matter until you come to the next step….

ICE

If you use fresh watermelon, I would say 3-5 ice cubes, but if you use frozen, a couple should be fine

SALT SALT SALT

I know salt or no salt is really polarizing in the margarita community-I NEED salt, P never has it, don’t feel bad wherever your allegiances lie.  I will say, a little lime zest can take your salted rim to the next level, shoutout to Ree Drummond (ily) because I got the idea from her (but she used sugar instead of salt, so technically, I’m, like, really original).

DIRECTIONS

Now, here’s the hard part-dump it all on a blender and BLEND, BABY, BLEND.. Kidding, it’s obviously not hard.

IMPORTANT NOTE:

If you do like a salty rim, remember to run a lime around the top of your glass (I like to use big rocks glasses) and salt it BEFORE you pour in the marg-you’re laughing at me, but trust, bitches, it happens to the best of us.  I’ve dirtied many a glass unnecessarily because I forgot to salt pre-pour

FINAL STEP: DRINK UP. Since today is all about the red (watermelon) white (salt) and blue, dump a couple of bluebs in there and call it a day.

watermelon margs

Ok, now, on to the CUPCAKE FLAG.  I always get put in charge of dessert, because no one in my fam likes to bake-so, every year, I make a flag out of cupcakes.  SO ORIGINAL, I KNOW.  But, it’s about tradition, and I love it, and I get off on making it, so here goes…

WHAT YOU NEED FOR CUPCAKES:

I box vanilla cake mix

Now, I know what you’re thinking, that I’m a phony and a fraud because I don’t make homemade cake mix-I’M NOT, I PROMISE-if I had time today to make from scratch, I would, but, I don’t-so I’m going the Sandra Lee, semi-homemade route, and am going to sex up this boring box of cake mix like you’ve never (jk you prob have) seen before.  Also, for all you snotty purists out there, boxed cake mix rocks…but I don’t believe in using only egg whites to make vanilla cake “white” cake-like grow up, no one cares about that (unless you go and make lemon pudding with the egg yolks, if that’s the case then props to you, ily)

1 lemon, juiced and zested

This is going to be subtle but delish-it adds a depth of flavor that takes it totally to the next level.  It’s the little things, you guys.

Fresh blueberries and strawberries

To take this doubly to the next level, I do the blue part of the flag with blueberry cupcakes, the red part with strawberry cupcakes, and the white part with vanilla-so amazing, amiright?  Before you get too excited, I just add some berries to the vanilla cake mix, but it still SEEMS fancy. And don’t be mad, but I have no measurements for this *gulp*.  I told you, I’m bad.  Suffice it to say you need about 3 blueberries per cupcake and maybe 3ish chunks of strawberries depending on how big they are.

INGREDIENTS FOR FROSTING:

2 sticks softened butter

SOFTENED MATTERS-trust me, everything will go to shit if it’s not softened

1 softened 8 oz package cream cheese

See above!!!!

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

6-7 cups confectioner’s sugar

I usually do about 7, both because I like frosting a little thicker and because the food coloring tends to thin it out a little after the fact

Red & blue food coloring

DISCLAIMER: you will NEVER EVER EVER EVER get bright red frosting-it will ALWAYS be pink.  Please resign yourself to this fact, it will make your lives so much easier.  The blue gets pretty blue, though not flag blue-but it’s not as frustrating as the pink, I mean red.

Optional: white gel frosting 

DIRECTIONS FOR CUPCAKES:

  1. Follow the directions on the box of cake mix (trust me, you can do this)
  2. Mix lemon juice and zest into cake batter (doesn’t get much easier than this, you guys)
  3. Line cupcake tins with cupcake liners (I used red, white, and blue, because I’m amazing)
  4. Use a cookie scoop to spoon in batter into liners-I used to never use a scoop because I thought they were unnecessary, but TRUST, it’s worth it. P bought me one a while ago and I’ll will never go back to the barbarism of 2 spoons.
  5. Throw a handful of blueberries and a handful of strawberry chunks (assuming you knew to cut them up, not use them whole, because you guys are SMART) into SEPARATE bowls. Toss the berries with some regular flour and call it a day (this makes it so they won’t sink to the bottom)
  6. Throw the blueberries into the blue liners, strawberries into the red liners, and leave the regular vanilla as is
  7. Bake that shit OFF for the designated amount of time.
  8. Let cool-this is IMPORTANT
  9. Look at my process shots below, a couple things to note:
    1. my filthy kitchen
    2. my dog’s ball on my spoon holder-no, I did not clean it before I put cooking utensils back on there
    3. COOKING IS MESSY-do not believe anyone that tells you otherwise, they are LIARS

filthy kitchen

cupcakes process

DIRECTIONS FOR FROSTING:

  1. While the cupcakes are cooling, use an electric mixer to mix the SOFTENED (I will not give up on this) cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until combined
  2. Add in sugar, one cup at a time, until desired consistency is reached
  3. Separate into 3 bowls (one can be slightly smaller, since there are only 6 blue cupcakes and there are 9 red and 9 white cupcakes)
  4. Add red and blue food coloring to their respective bowls until desired color is reached (you’ll never get there, so find joy in the imperfect)

FINAL STEPS

  1. FROST FROST FROST: you can pipe or use a knife, I prefer the look of spreading with a knife-so rustic and I also get off on doing it, so it’s a win win
  2. Find a cookie tray, serving tray, or wood cutting board (my personal choice) and arrange in the shape of a flag!
  3. Add stars to blue cupcakes if desired (I usually use gel frosting, but you could always use a piping bag if you’re FANCAYYYYY
  4. Let all your family and friends admire what a baking goddess (or god) you are, and let them be completely impressed by you
  5. Shove at least 3 down your throat over the course of whatever gathering you brought them to

cupcakes final

That’s it you guys! I know I promised to not be long-winded, but nonetheless, here we are.  I hope you all have an AMAZING DAY!!!  HBD AMERICA!

hi, it me

So this is pretty strange for me.  I would be lying if I told you I didn’t feel awkward, nervous, and embarrassed about this endeavor to share my life in a blog.  For one, I’ve always been private.  Not like psycopathically private, but I don’t like sharing my business with people I don’t know (lol, the irony that I’m now sharing it with the world is not lost on me).  Secondly, I’ve always thought people who have blogs are conceited; like, how presumptuous that you think I, or anyone else, would want to read about your life.  Clearly, however, my feelings have changed-but not because I think you should care about my life, or because my life is anything special.  Special to me of course, *sigh,* but there’s no expectation that any of you feel the same way.  I’m treating this like more of an experiment than anything else, a way to see how this works, what happens, and what we all get out of this-that’s the royal we, aka you guys and me, because we’re already inextricably linked if you’re reading this!

Bottom line is, I want to do this because I’ve recently found comfort in writing.  There’s a catharsis in it for me, one that I have only discovered in the last few months.  I think there’s something so healthy about any kind of self-expression that feels authentic to you, whether it’s writing, cooking, painting, sculpting, singing, whatever.  Power to you all.  Ironically, before writing, I turned to reading for comfort-do you see where this is going?  My whole life I’ve been reading: fiction, non-fiction, poems, short stories, anything I could get my hands on.  Recently, even blogs (see how it’s coming full circle?).  Eventually, though, I found myself yearning and pining for these lives that, it seemed to me, weren’t even real.  And I don’t mean that they don’t exist in reality, because they do.  But most of these are not realistic, even if they’re real.  Stay with me as I explain, friends:

Example 1: I LOVE Ree Drummond and for a long time I fantasized about giving up my life in the great CNY, leaving my family, all to copy her life and become a cattle rancher with my fiance and dogs.  Except I didn’t.  Because that’s CRAZY.  Do I envy her life?  Of course.  I mean, who wouldn’t want to get paid to do what they love and cook amazing recipes all day, while your kids frolic around, you can have 10 dogs, and your total babe of a husband pops in at lunch to have a hot meal and smooch you.  I’m sure that’s not her everyday, but still.  Also, hey, I can’t do that because I have a family I don’t want to leave, not enough money to buy a ranch (lol), I have responsibilities, and am not a famous rustic badass that can afford to do the things she can.  Lastly, as much as I love her down home, angelic vibes, that is NOT me.  I swear too much and I’m not nearly as endearing-and don’t make all my cake mixes from scratch, so there’s that.

Example 2:  I LOVE Jeannette Ogden and am a diehard #shutthekaleup fanatic.  But, spoiler alert guys: I don’t eat all organic, free range, health foods, and my pantry most certainly does NOT look like hers.  I don’t meal prep and have my shit together every week.  You would scream if you saw my kitchen counters cluttered with produce and baked goods, SO many appliances and, oops, dust sometimes.  My pre-baby body, while still relatively good, is still not as fab as her post-baby body.  I can’t work out everyday for hours because I have a job, don’t have time, and because, wait for it:  it’s not ALWAYS a priority.  Do I envy her life as an amazing baby mama, workout fiend, and healthy living crusader? YES!  But while she is sipping turmeric almond milk lattes post SoulCycle class, I’m going through the Dunkin drive through to get my whole milk pumpkin spice latte made with poison sugar chemical syrup because a. I love it b. I didn’t have time for breakfast and c. I can’t stand lattes with skim milk.

I want to make it clear that I am NOT in any way shape or form dissing these amazing women and their lives-I admire them in so many ways.  All I’m saying is that sometimes what I want looking at these blogs is something attainable, real, and a way to find comfort in knowing their struggles are mine.  Are there so many people who feel this way about Jeanette and Ree? Of course.  What I want to do, though, is to give you all an unabashed, unedited look into my REAL life.  Remember when I was talking about authentic self expression?  Well, shockingly, I think that means sharing and expressing only your authentic self.  That’s what I want to do.

Now, I’ve thought a lot about why anyone would want to read a blog about this “real” life of mine.  I’m not famous, I don’t have some special lifestyle people admire, and you will never find me posting pics of my body in a bikini to see my fit life in action.  But, here’s what I do have to offer: I’m doing this for myself and for you guys, and I want this to be a symbiotic relationship.  I want to express myself for me as much as I want to put myself out there for other, real women to relate to.  For you guys to relate to.  Or to not relate to, honestly.  I’m not motivated by anything other than expressing myself, and the hope that other people will find a realness in me that I sometimes find lacking in other blogs.  And, that if you do relate, my hope is that this will become a forum where we can all connect and communicate about anything and everything, big or small.

Bottom line, I think I’m living a life that a lot of you are living.  I eat healthy, I eat badly.  Sometimes I eat pizza and McDonald’s in the same day (OMG I’m a travesty, I know). I work out and I’m active but sometimes, hello, I’m lazy.  I will run, and box, and do yoga 5 days a week some weeks.  Some weeks I do literally nothing except walk my dogs once or twice.  You get the idea.  Basically, I promise  I won’t put some unedited or filtered version of my life, I will (try) not to only post about the good things-this will, in the words of my wise, beautiful, bestie, NOT simply be a highlight reel. What I will put is my REAL LIFE.  A life which, you might have guessed, is real, NOT simple.  Get it!?  If you can relate and enjoy, awesome.  If not, no big deal.

XO,

S