Jun 27, 2014

Pork Chops with Cilantro Pesto + Spicy Grilled Corn

Hey friends, thought I'd share a yummy summer-grillin' recipe with you for this weekend.  We tried the recipe last night, and it was super delish.  I first spotted the pork chop recipe in my June 2014 Better Homes & Gardens magazine then added a few other things to the pesto sauce to make it even better.

Drooling yet?

(It's hard to make meat look pretty even if it tastes fabulous...oh, how I envy the talents of food photographers.)

Ingredients for sauce:
1 cup packed cilantro leaves and stems
1/4 cup orange juice
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp Kraft parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp orange marmalade
(BHG recipe called for a few dashes of green hot pepper sauce but we didn't have any)

Ingredients for chops:
4 thick pork chops (bone-in or boneless)
Chili powder (as much as you like)
Brown Sugar (as much as you like)

Ingredients for corn:
4 ears of fresh corn, peeled and washed
2 Tbsp Butter
Montreal Steak flavored Grillmates - in the spice aisle (as much as you like)
Paprika (as much as you like)

1. To prep sauce - Toss cilantro, orange juice, olive oil, parmesan cheese, and orange marmalade into blender.  Puree until smooth.  Set aside.

2. To prep chops - Sprinkle brown sugar and chili powder onto pork chops.  Rub in with your fingers.  I used quite a bit of both because we like our pork chops well seasoned. (I did this early in the day, then placed them in fridge until we were ready for dinner)

3. To prep corn - Place each ear of corn over a square of foil.  Rub pad of butter onto surface of corn. Sprinkle with Grillmates and Paprika.  Wrap tightly in foil.

4. Preheat BBQ pit so it's nice and hot.  Place meat and foil-wrapped corn on grill for about 10-15 minutes total.  Flip everything at the half-way point.

5. Remove pork chops and corn from grill.  Plate the food, then drizzle cilantro pesto sauce over grilled pork chops.  Place extra sauce in small bowls for dipping.  Bon app├ętit!

If you try it, let me know what you think of the recipe.  Hope you enjoy!

Jun 25, 2014

Summer Stripes

Well, summer is officially here!  Summer Solstice - the longest day of the year (yay sunshine!) - was this last Saturday and my little girl is (finally...) out of school.  Our first super hot and humid day just happens to be today as well.  All of those things, not necessarily in that order, have me thinking of warm weather and summery design.

For some reason, when I think of summer-inspired patterns, I think of stripes.  Maybe it's beach balls, or paper straws, or seersucker fabric, or nautical design, or the stars and stripes for the 4th of July, but for me "stripes" and "summer" just go together like swimsuits and sunshine!

Here are some cute striped decor/fashion items and rooms that have me feeling all warm on the inside just like a bright summer day:






Oh that yellow and white striped skirt is calling my name!  It's saying "Kristen, I was made for you!"  It does stir up some inspiration for a darling nursery inspiration board too...

Any of these stripes calling your name?  Do stripes make you think of summertime?

Jun 23, 2014

Teacher Gifts: Thanks for Helping Me Grow!

We're a little behind the rest of the country, I think, but tomorrow is our last day of school for the year! After a few snow days, we're high near pushing July but at least we don't go back again until after Labor Day.

Here's what we came up with as end of year teacher gifts for Addison's four preschool teachers, all of whom we completely adore:

We found the plants in pretty little pastel pots at Trader Joe's, which I'm pretty sure is the grocery store they have in Heaven because it's so wonderful!

Next, we downloaded the "Thanks for helping me grow" tags from the Mombot blog and the butterflies (meant for a butterfly mobile craft) from Activity Village.  After a little printing and cutting, we attached them to some paper straws we had on hand, and stuck them in the little flower pots.

Pretty adorable if you ask us!!  Anyone else have any affordable teacher gift ideas to share with us?

Thanks teachers for an AWESOME year!  We love you and appreciate you to the moon and back!!

Jun 21, 2014

Europe with a Toddler, Part 4: Amsterdam

Ready for Round 4 of Europe with a Toddler?  Today we're featuring our time in exquisitely quirky Amsterdam!

In case you missed 'em, our other Europe with a Toddler posts can be found here:

We got to do two trips to Amsterdam during our last Europe trip - the first was an adult only day trip for just me and the Mr. (that sounds way more exotic and erotic than it should) and the second was an overnight family trip with our little one and our friends who have elementary age kids.

For our first little trip, we rode the train from Tuddern, Germany into Amsterdam Central.  It was about a 1.5 hour ride, so not bad at all.  Here we are with a selfie along one of the many canals.  Early morning was really a beautiful time a day to be there.

After a quick coffee stop (by "coffee" I mean a quick cappuccino at a "cafe" not weed from a "coffee shop"), we rushed to get to the Anne Frank House before it opened.  The line gets wicked long very quickly! (note: you can pre-order tickets online here, which is highly recommended if you know which day you'll be there)

The Anne Frank House was a must-see for me, and I'm so very glad we took the time to visit it.  It was surreal to get to see the quarters in which the Frank family tried to thrive during their hiding.  Though a somber experience overall, it was also uplifting to see how Anne Frank's words from her diary continue to help change the world and shift mindsets to a more positive place.  It's awesome to see such a variety of people from all walks of life standing in line to witness such a place.

The exterior of the Anne Frank building itself isn't terribly impressive; however, the views from the building across the canal certainly were.  It was the view of Amsterdam that I had always imagined...

Next we hopped on a canal boat tour which truly is the best way to get around the city.  The city of Amsterdam is quite comparable to Venice when it comes to the amount of water surrounding the buildings.  The feats of engineering and construction that it takes to build in and around water are mind-boggling.

Check out these darling shutters!  You can also see the pulley hoists at the top of each building.  I imagine that's how they get the large pieces of furniture into the apartments...

We almost completely avoided the Red Light District, but we did venture in close to it to see a pretty old church, visit a cheese shop (yum!), check out a local art show, and get a delicious gyro from a don kebab place.

There were about 12 things I wanted to take home from the art show in that gorgeous building above...sadly, I had no space in my luggage.  After a nice half-day date in Amsterdam we rode the train back to Germany to join back up with our daughter and friends.

A few days later, we all hopped on the same train to Amsterdam.  Guess what I caught by completely random chance in the frame of my next photo??

That's right, the ONLY windmill I saw the entire time in the Netherlands.  I thought they would be everywhere - along with the wooden shoes and the tulips (oh the stereotypes!!) - but they were hard to come by even riding on the train through the fields.

We encountered our first major rain fall that first day in Amsterdam, which was surprising because we were in Europe in Spring...should have had way more rainy days, but we truly lucked out.  Here's the "I amsterdam" sign.

And, a little close-up of the "a" with my Addison after the rain stopped.  Who doesn't love a little typography?

 We got to visit another one of my bucket list  must-sees...the Van Gogh Museum.  Van Gogh has always been my favorite artist since I was a little kid, so this was a monumental stop for me.  This is another museum where it's ideal to purchase tickets online ahead of time.  The line was crazy long and we got to bypass it all with the tickets we purchased online here.

Sadly, the famous Sunflowers painting was on loan to a museum in London, but on the upside we were able to take a picture with the photo rendering (which would not have happened with the real one there).

 They had a great head-set tour for kids, which our daughter loved.  She was a little trooper in the museums we dragged her through, and actually came away from the trip saying she loved museums - that's my girl!

After the museum, we had a delicious stroopwafel.  Hello warm caramelized sugar and crispy waffle goodness!

 Next we spotted my first Dutch tulips...

 I decided I could move into this house on the canal, if they offered it to me.  But only if they opened up the yellow and white striped window awnings....only then.

Once the sun came out to stay, it was beyond beautiful once again.

Our hotel in Amsterdam - the Radisson Blu was well-designed and in a great part of town. All of our hotel stays in Europe this trip were at Radisson Blu properties and we came to the conclusion that they were dependably a great establishment to stay in.  You knew you'd have a large(r) very modern bathroom, great bath products, a comfortable king size bed, air conditioning, a Nespresso machine, and sleek contemporary decor no matter what city you were in.

Admittedly, grasscloth wallpaper and cheeky city-themed plates get me every time...

Here's our cute kids enjoying the perfect evening in Amsterdam.

And, of course the silly photo is more like what was going on most of the time we were there...

One last photo before we departed from Amsterdam.  The prettiest wisteria I've ever seen...

Bottomline lesson learned, you CAN DO Amsterdam with kids!  It's a lovely city with a just few unsightly quirks (at least for me when it comes to the Red Light District).  "Those" areas of town can be blocked out quite easily and you can enjoy the more wholesome offerings the city has to offer instead.  There are simply too many wonderful things in Amsterdam to skip the city all together.

The following morning we headed to the airport to jet over to Dublin, Ireland - our final stop for this trip.  Our final post, which you don't want to miss because Ireland was AWESOME, will likely be sometime next week, so do check back in with us!

Jun 18, 2014

Yard Crush: A Sweet Summer Oasis

This Austin TX yard puts me in the mood for summer, some dry-rub BBQ, and the sound of torrential Texas rain on a tin roof.  The front yard's elevation is beautiful with stacked stone, huge trees, and a variety of succulents and perennials.  

And then, the backyard is just asking for a party at twilite!  Check out the covered porches, the pretty chaises, and the sparkling pool built up to patio level.  I also love the stacked stone surrounding the flower beds, the wide open expanse of yard, and the twinkling garden lights.

What's not to love here?  I mean, they even have black casement windows!!   Here's a close up shot of one of the covered porches taken from the inside looking out.

And, you thought they didn't have any alters to feature...of course they do, this is Texas y'all!!  Oh me oh my, do you see those pretty concrete floors that continuously flow out onto the porch?  So lovely!  And, while Texas is hot, it never hurts to have an outdoor fireplace for cookin' up some smores.  (Ever try them with a Reese's instead of plain chocolate?  Do it and your life will be forever changed!)

The inside of the house will totally take your breath away, too.  Check out all the pretty photos in Domaine Home's feature of the house here!

Jun 16, 2014

Fashion Deal of the Day: Twice

My husband is amazing for many reasons, but one of those many reasons is that he always finds really good deals. Every once in a while he throws me a bone to pursue like the below deal originally shared by Points & Pixie Dust, and I wanted to make sure and share it with you too...

Have you ever heard of Twice??  It's a (very) easy to use online consignment shop where you can purchase (and sell) women's secondhand designer fashion.  The Twice team collects all the fashion, photographs the items on dress forms, writes up descriptions, prices everything up to 90% off retail, then posts everything on their site for you to view.

Major perks and why you should go visit the site right now:
1) You get a $10 credit for signing up here.
2) You get a $10 credit for downloading the free Twice app on your Apple device here.
3) You get 50% off your first order by entering the coupon code: FIRSTPURCHASE50 upon checkout.
4) Free shipping for orders with subtotal of $49 or more
5) Free 30-day returns if something doesn't fit or if you simply don't like it

To make it super easy for you.  Here's how this deal of the century works step-by-step...
1) Sign up and you get $10 credit on your account (that's my referral link so thanks for using it!)
2) Download the app and you get $10 credit on your account.  Open the app once installed and sign in with your account login you created upon signing up for Twice in step 1.
3) Pick out any item (or items) that total at least $49 and put in your cart (yay free shipping!)
4) Go to checkout and enter coupon code FIRSTPURCHASE50 where it says "add coupon or gift code" (the 50% off is applied before the two $10 credits are applied...which is awesome because it means you save more!)

You should be able to score some great stuff for pretty darn cheap.   If you find something that's right at $49 you'll only pay about $5.  If you can't stop there then you can walk away just like me with 3 items for only about $30. Here's how it looked all added up for my order...

See that?!  I got Ralph Lauren jeans, an Anthropologie skirt, and a GAP shirt (all originally valued at almost $250) for only about $30.  Here's my super cute goods...

Hallelujah that felt good!  Can't wait to get my items in the mail - they should be shipped this week.

And...as if it could get any better...I'm also looking forward to receiving my free pre-paid "selling bag" in the mail so I can send some of my clothing in to be sold.  List of brands they accept for sale is here.  They'll make me an offer on my stuff, and then if I accept their offer, they pay me.  If I make at least $30 on my stuff, then my above score on 3 designer items becomes even better...FREE!

Let me know if you've used Twice or if you have any questions with making this deal happen for you.  Happy thrifty shopping!
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