Thursday, April 20, 2017

Stay Weird

Stay Weird
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You guys know I can't resist some good word inspiration. If you're into it like I am, you can find a bunch more of my favorites here.


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Sweet Corn and Black Bean Quinoa Salad

Sweet Corn and Black Bean Quinoa Salad
This post was sponsored by Sunshine Sweet Corn as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.

You guys are all well aware by now that I'm a summer person. Give me all the flowing dresses and beach hangs in the sunshine and barefoot dancing under the stars and delicious summertime foods. And in my opinion, there is no food that screams summer like corn on the cob. I crave it all year round, but only recently did I discover that I could find Sunshine Sweet corn, grown in Florida, in the spring as well. I was instantly excited, and proceeded to spend a bunch of time on the Sunshine Sweet Corn website perusing all of their mouth watering recipes to make for my family. I finally settled on the sweet corn and bean quinoa salad, both because anything with black beans and corn is an instant winner in my book, and because it looked just as healthy as it did tasty. And I'm so glad I went for it. We've now had it several time for both lunch and dinner, and it was so incredibly good that I decided I had to share it with all of you as well. You're going to love it, I promise.

Number of servings: 4 to 6 

3 cups fresh sweet corn kernels (4 medium Sunshine Sweet ears)
3 cups cooked and cooled quinoa*
1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup diced red and green bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro leaves

(I'm a vegetarian, but you can also add 8 ounces cooked salad shrimp, or 2 cups cooked chicken, smoked turkey, or ham cut into 1/2 inch cubes to the salad if you'd like.)

In a large bowl, toss corn (just cook in boiling water for 4-6 minutes then remove kernels with a sharp knife or corn zipper), quinoa (*prepare with 1 cup uncooked quinoa, according to package directions), beans, peppers, onion, and scallions (and shrimp or other meat, if using). To make the vinaigrette, in a sealable container, combine olive oil, vinegar, mustard, sugar, salt and pepper; shake until the mixture thickens, about 60 seconds. Pour the vinaigrette over the quinoa mixture and toss to combine. Just before serving, sprinkle with the cilantro. Garnish with halved cherry tomatoes,  and/or serve on a bed of greens. (We love it on organic baby spring greens. The best!)

This salad keeps well, so it's great to make ahead of time, and makes for some really great leftovers too. And while I'm a huge fan of quinoa and black beans, it's the Sunshine Sweet Corn that's the star of the show. It's deliciously sweet, fresh tasting, and tender, and it's also non-GMO (a big deal to me) and regulated for quality control. I'm looking forward to adding it to a bunch more of my spring recipes, now that I know it's available this time of year. If you're looking for the best tasting corn you've ever had in April and May, Sunshine Sweet Corn is the way to go. Just visit your local grocery store, pick some up, and make this recipe. Then visit their website for a whole bunch of other incredible recipes that will channel summer - but that you can make right now.

Who else is a summertime food fan? Do you have any favorite recipes that include Sunshine Sweet Corn?


Monday, April 17, 2017

Our Scottsdale Vacation, In Photos

It has been non-stop around here since we returned from our family vacation to Arizona, to the point that it's difficult to grasp the fact that we've only been home for a week. Between Essley's school and activities, a really intense work week for me, Easter, and Robbie getting ready to go back on tour, it feels like it's been months since we were relaxing poolside surrounded by giant saguaros. I'm ready to go back in time, man.

While we take this same vacation to Arizona every spring and have for years, this was the first time we stuck around Scottsdale instead of venturing off to Sedona or the Grand Canyon or other destinations while there. We had less time on this trip, and the kids were loving just swimming and playing outside so much that laying low just felt right. So while the photos you see here might not be as impressive as the years where we did more exploring, they represent the laid back, truly joyful experience we had. These are all incredibly unprofessional, spontaneous cell phone shots too. (We did shoot a couple of outfit posts in the desert that I'll be sharing soon; the first photo in this post is from one of them.)

I know I say this often, but I have come to really love these family vacations we take a few times a year, despite the fact that they're so incredibly different than the way I used to experience the world. I've come to the realization that while I technically can't really call myself a "world traveler" anymore, I'll always be a traveler. Taking a few flights and a half dozen road trips with the kids in a year is a far cry from the monthly trips I used to take to places like Australia and Europe, but seeing it through my children's eyes is a whole new kind of magic. And I'll take it. Until next year, Arizona!


Thursday, April 13, 2017

Our Easter Weekend Traditions

Our Easter Weekend Traditions

For those who observe it, happy Easter weekend! Our family considers itself to be more spiritual than religious, but we still celebrate Easter, and we go for it, man. Even before we had kids, I always put together a little Easter basket for Robbie (yes, I'm a dork, I know), and now that we have two little ones, I'm completely over the top. My mom told me recently that even as a toddler, I was obsessed with holidays. I love themes and parties and decorating, so I guess it makes sense that I'd be so into them.

Easter weekend begins with bunny shaped pancakes on Saturday morning, always with yellow tulips on the table. The kids eat on bunny and Easter egg plates and drink out of spring-themed cups. Then we get dressed and head out for a special activity. Last year, Robbie was on the road so I dropped Emmett off at my mom's (he was only a couple of months old) and took Essley to see Peppa Pig Live. This year, we're going to (weather permitting) go to the park and out for a fun lunch and a visit to the Easter Bunny. Then in the early evening we order pizzas and dye eggs. When I was growing up, dying eggs was one of my favorite events of the year. Even today, the smell of vinegar instantly triggers happy memories. We spread newspaper out over the dining room table and go absolute crazy - I'm talking several dozen eggs and every type of dye and decoration you can imagine. The day ends with popcorn and a movie on the couch, all snuggled up, and then, of course, bed so that the Easter Bunny can come while we're asleep.

Lemonade Mimosas

On Easter morning, the kids wake up to an egg and candy hunt in the house. And the fun begins as soon as they open the bedroom door. We create trails of jelly beans and the eggs we dyed and colorful plastic eggs filled with candies and stickers and little prizes that begin upstairs and pour over into all rooms of the downstairs. As a little girl, I remember finding eggs in my slippers as soon as I stepped out of bed, which was so exciting. I try to recreate that experience for Essley (Emmett is still a little too young, but I think he's starting to get it this year), and so far, it absolutely thrills her. At the end of the egg and candy hunt, the real search for treasure (the Easter basket) begins. We usually hide this in a place that is a little more challenging. Last year we had Easter morning at my mom's house and we hid them in the back her pantry. I still don't know where I'm going to put them this year, but Essley is getting pretty good at hide and seek, so I'm going to have to be creative. We buy pretty "baskets" that they'll be able to use again (this year Essley's is a beige and blush linen bunny and Emmett's is a green felt frog) and fill them with milk chocolate, organic apple sauce pouches, books, sidewalk chalk, and small toys. Last year Essley was overcome with joy when she discovered her basket. She literally squealed and jumped up and down. I can't wait to see her reaction this year.

The rest of Easter day consists of a late brunch (usually eggs and juice, with lemonade mimosas for the grown-ups), then just taking it easy around the house as a family. We'll read the books the kids got in their baskets and play games. Then we go to my dad's for an Easter dinner. He is a great cook and loves to experiment, so he'll usually make something nontraditional. Last year he made a delicious meal with falafel and pitas and olives and salad that everyone loved. Then we come home and eat more candy than we should before bed and call it a wrap.

I'm really looking forward to this weekend, especially because Robbie is home the entire time, so we can all be together as a family. What about you guys? What are your Easter weekend traditions?


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

IKEA's New Boho Collection Is Everything

IKEA JASSA Collection
IKEA JASSA Collection
IKEA JASSA Collection
IKEA JASSA Collection

In March, I gave you guys a sneak peek of IKEA's new STOCKHOLM Collection (which became available for purchase on April 1st!), and it ended up being the highest traffic (and most pinned) post of the entire month. Since you guys seem to like IKEA as much as I do (in case you missed it, we were on their home improvement show last fall, which was the most fun blog project I've ever done), I decided to share my favorite new collections of theirs from time to time here on the blog. (And again, these posts are not sponsored. I just love my IKEA!)

This particular collection, my friends, is quite possibly my favorite ever...