Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Christmas 2014

T and I had such a great Christmas.  We were able to see both of our immediate and extended families this year which was great. We started off with T's family and spent the days leading up to Christmas as well as Christmas day with them. T's sister and her husband recently bought a beautiful house, and it was great to celebrate the holiday with them in their new place.  George was able to come too, which I was thrilled about.  We just couldn't stand the thought of him spending his first Christmas without us.

Both T and I received some awesome gifts this year, but my most favorite gift was one that I gave.   As mentioned earlier, T's sister and her husband just bought a house this year.  This is the house they moved into after they got married, and it will be the house that they bring their baby girl home to this spring.  Since this home has so much significance to them, I commissioned my sister to do a sketch for them.  It's mighty convenient to have a sister that's getting her MFA! Sometimes I forget just how talented she truly is.

The day after Christmas T and I headed to Oak Island, NC where we rented a beach house for the weekend.  I have an uncle that lives in Southport which is just a few miles away, so we were able to spend a few days with him and the rest of my extended family.

I love the beach during the winter, and we happened to go on a walk on the perfect day.  It's just so quiet and peaceful. We so saw so much plant life and wild life that would have been trampled in the summer time with all of the crowds.

I hope y'all had a wonderful Christmas, too!  Although we traveled a lot, I feel completely refreshed.  I think a week with my family was all I needed.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Simple Substitutions

Two weeks after Christmas I'll be headed to Key West for a long weekend on the beach with my girlfriends.  I am so excited about having some time in the sun, but quite concerned about what my post-Christmas figure is going to look like in a bathing suit.

I'm trying to stay as healthy as I can during the weeks, and also make wise choices at all of the holiday parties this season.  Easier said than done, but I am making a conscious effort.

When it came time for menu planning for the shower that we hosted this weekend, my mom and I picked two recipes that could be made a little bit healthier.  Both recipes called for a lot of mayo (like all good recipes do) and we decided to half the amount of mayonnaise in each recipe for Chobani Non-Fat Plain Greek Yogurt.

The first recipe that we made was a Cheesy Hearts of Palm Dip.  {see original recipe here}  The recipe calls for 3/4 cup of mayonnaise and 1/4 cup of sour cream, but we cut down the mayo to 1/2 cup, and then added a 1/2 cup of yogurt.  I've had the recipe the original way so many times, and could not tell a difference with the yogurt added.  Substituting the Greek yogurt for the sour cream and part of the mayonnaise saved 450 calories and 60 grams of fat, and doubled the amount of protein in the dip.  Pretty crazy when you can't even taste a difference.  Here's the recipe for the healthier version:

Cheesy Hearts of Palm Dip 

1 (14 ounce) can hearts of palm, drained well and chopped finely
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup mayo
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons minced green onions
Paprika for dusting top

      Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly spray a pie plate or baking dish with non-stick spray. Combine hearts of palm, mozzarella, mayo, Parmesan, yogurt, and  2 Tbsp green onions. Spoon into prepared dish and sprinkle with paprika. (May be made several hours ahead to this point and refrigerated, covered.) Bake for 20 minutes or until bubbly, top with remaining green onions. Serve with crackers.

The second recipe that we tried the Chobani Greek Yogurt in was a lemon garlic aoili.  I've been making this Sweet Potato Squares recipe for years, and never thought about subbing out some of the mayonnaise for a healthier option. Substituting half of the mayonnaise for yogurt in this recipe reduced the fat and calories by 50% and increased the protein from 0 grams to 11 grams.  Here's the recipe for the healthier version: 

Sweet Potato Squares: 

2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 32 (1-inch) cubes 
2 tablespoons olive oil 
1/2 teaspoon pepper 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1/2 pound spicy smoked sausage, cut into 32 (1/2-inch) pieces 
32 wooden picks 

1. Preheat oven to 450°. Place sweet potato cubes on a lightly greased 15- x 10-inch jelly-roll pan. Drizzle potatoes with 2 Tbsp. oil, and sprinkle with pepper and salt. Toss to coat.
2. Bake at 450° for 15 to 20 minutes, turning cubes twice.
3. Cook sausage in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until browned. Drain on paper towels.
4. Place 1 sausage slice on top of 1 sweet potato cube; secure with a wooden pick. Repeat with remaining sausage slices and potato cubes. Serve with Lemon-Garlic Aioli.

Lemon Garlic Aioli: 

1/2 cup mayonnaise 
1/2 cup Chobani Non-Fat Plain Greek Yogurt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 teaspoons minced garlic 
1 teaspoon lemon zest 
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 
1/2 teaspoon pepper 
1/4 teaspoon salt 

Stir together all ingredients. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 7 days.

It's amazing how just making one simple substitution can change the nutritional value of a recipe.  Once I did the math, I was shocked at how many calories and fat grams you save by just taking out a little bit of the mayonnaise and sour cream.  I'm now intrigued at what other recipes can be made healthier with just a few simple smart substitutions.  You can find other recipes using Chobani yogurt here

Monday, December 15, 2014

Holiday Bridal Shower

This weekend I got together with two of my best friends and our moms to host a shower for our friend Kate. Kate is getting married in February, so we decided to host a shower for her around the holidays.  I never thought about it before, but hosting a shower around Christmas is so much fun.  The house was already decorated for Christmas, there's no question about what kind of music to play, and there was a perfect spot to place her gifts- under the tree, of course. 

We had a hot chocolate bar and a mimosa bar.  For simplicity, we used a Keurig and had K-cups available with different coffees and hot chocolates. People could choose which one they wanted, and pop it into the Keurig. 

As favors, I made these coffee cup sleeves, which turned out so cute. {I found the idea here}

And we also had lots of yummy food, both sweet and savory. 

 We all had such a great time celebrating Kate, and I cannot wait for her wedding in February!

 ...And just for fun here's a picture of us that I found from Christmas of 2005.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Five On Friday

Happy Friday!  Today I'm joining  April, Darci, Natasha, and Christina for the Five on Friday linkup.

1. Last night's Christmas party- Last night T and I attended our annual dinner and white elephant swap with friends.  Every year we see some hilarious gifts, and there's always an underlying competition to give the most hilarious gift.  Our guidelines were this: something around $10 that is funny but still useful. Instead of following the typical white elephant rules, we followed this poem which made it even more fun. 

T gave this  Brewzkey Bottle Opener and threw in a couple of old koozies from our collection and a Smirnoff Ice.  It's still a running joke in our group to "ice" each other, so the recipient of the gift had to chug the 20z oz warm sugary drink that night. I purchased this SEX Every Day in Every Way Calendar. It was hilarious to see people uncomfortably pass the calendar around when they were forced to trade someone for it. 

2. Eric Church concert- Tonight we're going to the Eric Church concert at our local concert venue.  T and I usually aren't huge concert goers, but I'm so excited to see Eric Church live.  I have a feeling it's going to be a great show.  And I think I may need to break the cowboy boots out for the first time this year.

3. Homemade breadcrumbs-  Before we left for Thanksgiving, we had half a loaf of bread that was going to go unused.  I threw the bread in the freezer before we headed out of town, so it wouldn't go to waste.  This week I made homemade Italian breadcrumbs from the bread and used it for our favorite Eggplant Parmesan recipe.   I usually make this recipe with store bought breadcrumbs, but using the homemade ones took it to another level. 

4. White jeans in the winter- I just love this look, so much so that I've even got my white jeans on today.  These are usually a staple in the summertime for me, and I just hate to give them up when the chilly weather comes along.  I think the look is so chic, and they look great with a chunky sweater.


5. My Etsy Shop Is Live!  Yes, there are only 4 items on there currently, but I will be adding more throughout the next week.  I've had so much fun getting back into jewelry making.  I was really into it while I was in high school and college, but completely gave it up a few years ago.  I pulled all of my materials and tools out earlier this week, and I've had the best time making necklaces.  If you're interested in any of the pieces I have on my shop currently, or if you'd like me to make you a custom piece, please reach out to me!  I'll be giving all of my readers a discount for the next month.  Just enter REEDY at checkout to get a 15% discount on your purchase.  Find my shop {here}.

Hope y'all have a great weekend!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

2014 Christmas Wish List

2014 Christmas Wish List

1 /2/3/4/5/6 /7

I cannot believe how close we are to Christmas.  This year I got a head start and completed a lot of my shopping in the fall, yet I still feel like I have so much shopping to do.  I've gotten all of the big gifts out of the way, but I still have tons of stocking gifts to buy.  My family really gets into stockings every year.  So into it that my aunt custom made 3-foot-long stockings for each of us.  They're ridiculously over-sized, and somehow they're still over flowing with gifts each year.

In addition to my stocking gifts, here are a few other things I'd love to see under the tree this year.

Tory Burch Bag- Every year I feel like my Christmas list gets shorter and more practical.  Okay, yes, the Tory bag is not practical, but I actually found it on consignment for $170, and it's brand new.  

Eyefi Mobi 8GB Wi-Fi Memory Card - Have you seen these Wi-Fi enabled memory cards?  You can download an app on your phone, and immediately get photos from your DSLR onto your phone for social sharing.  I, and my Instagram account, need this.

Tiger Print- This print is from Megan Carn, a local artist. I love the bright colors that Megan uses in her pieces, and this tiger would look great on the gallery wall I've been wanting to put together in our den.  I fell in love with the original oil version, but the price was just too steep for me.  When I saw that she came out with a $35 print, I was sold.

Swarovski Annual Edition 2014 Crystal Snowflake Ornament - I've been trying to start a Swarovski ornament collection, and this year will be my third ornament to add to my set.  My sister April has been collecting these for years, so in true little sister fashion I had to copy her.  If you haven't seen her collection, hop over to her blog and check it out, it's beautiful!

Classic Wood Folding Chess Set - The chess board is the wild card on my list.  T and I were talking recently and we really want to have a game that we can play together.  We spend too many of our nights in front of the TV not even talking to one another.  We really want to have another activity that the two of us can do together, and we're hoping chess can be that.  I love the idea that it will work our brains at the same time, and it's nice that you can stop playing a game in the middle, and pick it up at another time.  Both of us are on the same skill level right now, which is none, so we'll be learning together.

L.L. Bean Sheets- I love the pattern of these L.L. Bean sheets, and their flannel sheet sets are some of the best.  If you've never slept on flannel sheets, you must try it.  I've never gotten a better night's sleep. 

Waterford Crystal Lismore Goblet-I registered for these for our wedding, and to date we've only received two.  I'd love to have at least a set of 6 so that we can use them when we have friends and family over.  We didn't register for fine china, so I'd really like to have a complete set of crystal glasses.

I'd love to see what's on your list for this year.  Leave a link to your post below!

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