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Avec Amour : November 2013

Friday, November 22, 2013

Five on Friday - Link Up

I thought it would be fun to get involved with some other bloggers.... so here it goes!

1 - Upcoming 'Friendsgiving' Celebration

eInvites via PaperlessPost!

We are hosting a dinner for everyone in our Village (read: our church's word for 'small group') two days before actual thanksgiving, since most of us won't be here! I am beyond excited as this is my first time hosting a Thanksgiving type celebration, and my hosting brain is on overload. I bought cloth napkins, i'm crafting, i'm dreaming up signature cocktails, and reading as many magazines as i can to find perfect recipes. Here, here, and here are where i'm getting some of my ideas!

2 - Bath & Body Works Seasonal Candles

Some people are all about Christmas music.... I'm personally all about the candles. If you ever are at my house, chances are I'm burning at least one. But holiday season cables are the BEST! I've been enjoying Bergamot Estates and Leaves for Fall.... they're so cozy without being overwhelming (I'm not into sweet candles, so the apple pies and pumpkin doughnuts are NOT my personal style!), but just this week as the temperatures went FREEZING around here, I had to bust out a Fresh Balsam candle at my desk. It makes me so happy! I also have a coupon for $10 off $30 purchase.... which I intend to use during a 2 for $22 sale and get myself 4 candles for $30! EXCITED! Any new scents I should try?

3 - Upcoming Trip

Capella Ixtapa, in Ixtapa, Mexico

Big Sky, Montana
In just under two weeks, i'll be leaving for about 13 days to celebrate my first anniversary in Mexico, Thanksgiving/Christmas with Matt's family in Bismarck, ND, and take our annual snowboarding trip to Big Sky, Montana!! Thanks to a little something called the Multi-Way ticket, we were able to do all three of these trips by hopping from place to place instead of making three separate trips - for the price of just ONE of these trips. BNA -->ZIH, ZIH-->BZN, BZN-->BIS, BIS-->BNA. Yeah. We'll be on a lot of freaking planes.... and going from 90 degrees down to 9 degrees. Also, i'm convinced i'll only take a carry on. So wish me luck ;) But I can't wait to get in all sorts of quality time! QT with just Matt, QT with family, and QT with awesome friends. Stay tuned for updates on these travels.

4 - Steve the Kitten :)

This little guy is 100% personality and he makes me *SO HAPPY*. Yes, I am a cat lady, and i'm pretty excited about it. I wanted a kitten my entire life and Matt got him for me as a birthday present this year. The gift that actually keeps on giving.... because every day he snuggles up next to me and purrs like crazy... and it's all i ever wanted. I love my little Stevie kitty! He's sitting on my lap as I'm writing this... what a little love. Also, disclaimer: I did not name him Steve. The deal was if I got a cat, Matt was allowed to pick the name... and the name would definitely be Steve. So here we are, with our Steve. But i think it fits him pretty well ;)

5 - New Routine

Now that it's cold outside, it's even HARDER to get out of bed, especially with nowhere to go at a specific time most mornings.... so i decided I needed a routine. I get up and walk about two blocks to 8th & Roast, a coffee shop right by my house. Despite the cold, the walk there warms me up, and i get to enjoy a nice cup of coffee when I get there. Sometimes I bring a magazine or a journal, sometimes I've just been sitting and relaxing. It's become an extremely enjoyable part of my day.

Happy Friday!

Link up here if you'd like to join!

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

What To Do With CSA Veggies: Extra Radishes

For the last two years, i've planted a small garden. Nothing major. This year I had twice the size of my small plot, so I had carrots, lettuce, kale, two kinds of peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, green onions, multiple herbs, snap peas and arugula. I LOVED it! It's such a fun hobby, and you get food out of it! I'm not exactly a 'green thumb', so i had plenty of failed crops (i'm looking at you, tomatoes!), and obviously had to supplement with grocery trips. But now that fall has set in, my little garden plot has all died. Sad!

Since i missed my garden (and the delicious tasting veggies is produces), we decided to sign up for a winter CSA. I'd never done one before, and I have really enjoyed it so far! There are definitely pros and cons to the CSA life.

all mine!

- fresh, local produce every 2 weeks!
- price is right ($35 every 2 weeks for more than we could ever finish)
- you get what they grow, so you're introduced to new veggies you might not have cooked with before... it's fun!

- sometimes you haven't used your potatoes/radishes/greens from last week.... so now you have 2x as much and no idea what to do with them.
- you might not like the fun new veggies (i.e., the fennel i got last week)
- you might be gone part of your week, so a chunk of your food goes bad.

However, I'd like to add the pro that it inspires you to cook at home and use what you have! And to turn the excess of a certain veggie from a con to a pro, i decided to get creative.

But we got this big, beautiful bunch of radishes (see, top left of the box) which i was excited about.... except i still had 2/3 of my bunch from last week. I could only think of putting them in salads, and i hadn't used up enough to justify a whole second bunch. Dilemma.

So I got creative, and made myself an entire meal out of radishes. It's vegan, vegetarian, paleo, gluten free, nut free, dairy free... the list goes on.

Sautéed Radishes with Greens

7-9 Radishes w/ greens still attached
grape seed oil (or any high heat oil you prefer)
1 clove garlic, minced

1. Trim and quarter the radishes. Chop the greens like you were cutting them for a salad. Keep them separate.
2. Heat a pan to medium, add grapseed oil and allow to heat for 1-2 min. Add radish quarters and salt.
Sautée for 5-7 minutes on medium heat, they should be softening.
3. Add minced garlic and allow to mingle until fragrant. Add radish greens and lower heat to medium low. Sautée entire mix until greens are wilted but not completely mushy.
4. Top with pepper and serve warm.

It was different and delicious! I'll certainly be making it again. Was great as a main dish for this vegetarian, but would be an excellent side for any meal. Are you a part of a CSA? Do you love it? Do you have any secret radish recipes i need to know about?

Coming next week: what to do with 1 million sweet potatoes.


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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Lentil Veggie Burgers

For those of you who don't know, I've been a vegetarian for almost 7 years. At the beginning, I was asked almost daily what I ate if I didn't eat meat! The answer is - everything that you do.... except chicken, pork, turkey and beef.

And truthfully, I don't miss it one. bit.

When I married a carnivore, I thought this might pose a problem! I have no problem cooking meat, but i thought it was kind of silly to cook two different dinners every night. Luckily, Matt enjoys all of my vegetarian cooking, and I try new recipes all the time!

One product i'm a huge fan of is lentils. Specifically, pre-cooked lentils from Trader Joe's. They're $2, rather than $1 for a bag, but soaking/cooking beans takes FOREVER and I just don't have the patience, considering I'm usually making up dinner when i'm already starving. Totally worth the convenience.

Anyway, i've found quite a few lentil recipes that I love. We joined a Winter CSA and have pounds and pounds of potatoes - regular and sweet. I'll be sure to include some of these recipes, too, as i'm sure i'm not alone on the potato overload! We wanted to make home-made fries, and i thought that 'burgers' would go really well with them!

I made black bean burgers from scratch once before, and it was extremely time consuming because i was mashing them by hand. I've since invested in a little food processor and it has completely changed cooking for me.

These lentil burgers took almost no time and were delicious!

Lentil Burgers

prep: 10min cooking 10-20min
Makes 8-10

1 pack Trader Joe's Steamed Lentils (2.5 cups)
4 eggs
1/2 onion (you can add more or less if you like - but some is necessary for texture)
sea salt
garlic powder
cracked black pepper

1 cup oat flour (or alternatively, breadcrumbs)
1/4 cup grape seed oil (or other high heat oil)

1 - put lentils, a few shakes of salt, pepper, garlic, chopped onion and eggs in food processor. Blend until it's the texture of chunky humus. You don't need to make it perfectly smooth, you want it still a bit watery.

2 - pour into bowl, add oat flour/breadcrumbs and mix in. allow a couple of minutes for it to thicken. **remember, you want moisture. so if it looks a little dry, you can add another egg or 1/4 cup of water**

3 - while your mix is setting, put a large, flat pan on medium-low and add your oil.

4 - make patties (size of the rim of a coffee cup) and put in the oil. cover, and let sit for 7-8 minutes while it browns. flip to other side, brown for 7-8 minutes. allow a few extra minutes if necessary.

5 - remove from oil and allow to sit for a minute, but serve hot!

If you're trying to sneak in extra veggies for your kids (or yourself!) you can saute some spinach and add to your food processed mess! You'll never know it's there, but the vitamins will sneak into your body :)

I was too hungry to take a photo of them all decked out with the fries (dang it!) but i served mine with spicy brown mustard, lettuce and tomato. YUM.

Does anyone else have a good veggie burger recipe to share?

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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Wanderlust Wednesday: Atlanta

I never thought I'd say this, but i REALLY am beginning to love Atlanta. Prior to this summer, i was NEVER fond of it. Not even in the slightest. I don't know if it's the traffic, or that it's the *annoyingly close* part of the drive from Florida to Nashville (are we there yetttttttttt), i was always dismissive of Hotlanta. But after going for a friend's wedding in September (the first time i truly spent time there), I started to fall for it's charm.

Atlanta is an interesting mix - but definitely a town with great shopping, boutiques, and amazing restaurants!

We recently returned for our anniversary weekend and stayed at Le Meridian Atlanta Perimeter Hotel, which is a Starwood Hotel. It's very modern/boutique feeling, and is right between ALOFT and W hotels. So it's pretty nice.

in LOVE with this quote about travel. too long to tattoo on my arm?
Since it was our anniversary we got a suite, but I would be perfectly happy with the standard room. The beds were like floating clouds and they had FANTASTIC room service.

just a small feast.
We had dinner at 4th and Swift in the Historic Fourth Ward Park area, and it was DELICIOUS. On top of the fact that the decor was just awesome. The crowd was mixed, from older couples on double dates (the kind of people who order a few bottles of wine!) to girls nights, other couples our age - great variety. The place was buzzing with conversation and smelled of great food. I had the veggie dish, where you get to select four different vegetables they offer (there were about 7 or 8 to choose from) - all were divine.

I should have taken more photos inside because it was cool. Modern industrial look - exposed wood, brick and edison bulbs. You get my drift.

West Egg Cafe was a delight from our trip in September. Named after the area of town that Nick Caraway lived in The Great Gatsby (another reason to love), and they serve brunch all day. SOLD! I had the Black Bean Cakes and Eggs, and shared Banana Bread French Toast with Matt. Delicious. They have a lot of fun options, and the classics! Also the space is very bright an open, so it's nice for any time of day.

they also have a photo booth. Enjoy the top photo of us not knowing it was starting :)
Atlanta is pretty spread out, but there is great shopping everywhere. There is one in particular called Atlantic Station which is an outdoor shopping area, compete with a West Elm, H&M, BCBG, LOFT, Gap, etc. There are also some restaurants, coffee shops and a movie theater. It is a great spot to grab a coffee on a nice day and window shop, or actually shop :) Also, they offer a shuttle to Ikea (not worth it in my opinion if you're actually going to buy, because Ikea has free parking!) if you're interested. We didn't take the shuttle, but we did manage to find a few things.

first timer.
Now we're officially looking for reasons to go back. Luckily for us, it's only about 4 hours of drive time! Atlanta is surprisingly winning its way into my heart. Do you love or hate the ATL? Any other restaurant suggestions?


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Sunday, November 10, 2013

First Anniversary

A year ago, this happened

For some reason, my favorite pictures from our wedding are the candid ones. Probably because i'm better at acting normal than trying to pose :)

I was going to write a long story, but i am truly no expert and I won't know if my advise is any good until it's been tried about for about 20-30 years. So i'll hit you back then. 

I will say that I've learned a TON this year about myself, Matt, and marriage in general these last 365 days. 

Our first year was admittedly not hard. It was a lot of fun. Full of random weekend travels, breakfast dates, our first pet, remodeling (blah!), community, and a lot of laughter, sprinkled in with learning, misunderstandings, attitudes and selfishness. I know we'll face our big trials sometime and I welcome them - because I know what we have is worth fighting for.

Happy Anniversary, my love. You are my favorite thing.

(Some extra wedding photos are located here)

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Friday, November 8, 2013

Gifts Ideas for Him

I'm sure I can't be the only one around here who has a husband I find difficult to shop for.

First of all, he's extremely practical (unless it comes to cars and motorcycles!).
He's picky.
And if he wanted it, he probably bought it for himself already!

Not to mention.... our anniversary, his birthday, and Christmas are all within a microscopic six-week window.

What's a girl to do?

I've been scouring the internet trying to find some ideas of what to get my hard-to-gift guy, and this is what i've come up with.

The Gift of Drink

Whisky Stones - $20
buy here

These little stones keep your whisky cool without watering it down. An excellent invention.


IPA Beer Making Kit - $45

buy here
Williams-Sonoma knew what they were doing - now tempting your guy in for a cooking class won't be so hard if he knows they sell Beer Making Kits! Perfect for a guy who loves to do it himself or try new things, who also likes beer. Win-win.

The Gift of Travel Accessories

Patagonia Fuego Backpack - $89
buy here

This 32L backpack is great for hiking, a weekend trip, or a good carry on. The size is great for the price, as a lot of more technical backpacks are north of $150. This is a steal.


Everlane's Reverse Denim Weekender Bag - $95

buy here
This bag is beautifully crafted, and is the perfect carry on size for a weekend tote. The best part about this bag (in my opinion) is that you can steal it from time to time and use as your own weekend tote! I'm particularly fond of the reverse denim, it looks so sleek and unisex.

The Gift of Technology 

iPod Nano Watch Set - $24 (Would make sense if he already has a Nano)

buy here
This is one of the most practical gifts for guys! Perfect for a traveler or a runner. The wrist band attaches perfectly to your iPod Nano and appears to be a normal watch... until you're ready to listen to music! There are many varieties of color and style. This leather one sticks out to me because it can easily go from guys night, to an important meeting, to date night with you. Matt particularly is a watch fanatic, so this invention might save me!


Roku Streaming Device - $49

buy here
Roku is a great little device for those of us that have Nexflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime but don't have an XBOX to stream them through our TV. Roku changes all that. Simply hook up to your TV and choose your 'channels', and you're good to go! A common misconception is that you pay for a Roku subscription, and that isn't true. You only pay for the services you want (Hulu, Netflix, etc). Bonus, you can rent movies on Amazon (from a computer) and then view them from your TV as well. Goodbye expensive iTunes rentals and sifting through awful Redbox options! Who need cable, after all?

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

Beer of the Month Club - $24/month

buy here
New craft beers get delivered every month. He will of course love you forever, and probably start checking the mail daily.


Birchbox for Men - $20/month

buy here
I personally LOVE getting my Birchbox every month (confession: i'm a beauty product addict!), all of the samples are so fun. And they lead me to new products i've been missing out on! The boy-box is similar, but they actually get less product and more 'stuff'. Friends have received sunglasses, journals, wallets and more. It's a steal at $20 a month.

Do you have a hard to shop for spouse or boyfriend? I'm open to any ideas!


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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Wanderlust Wednesday: London in the Fall

Hands down - my favorite season + place go hand in hand, with the winning combo of London in the Fall. It is SO pretty, and SO festive, and it stays fall weather for MONTHS! Part of my love for it could come from living there for two falls.... and visiting a handful of other Fall's. I'm addicted! I can't help it.

Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea

Kings Rd, Chelsea, SW3


St James Park

Regent's Park

Regent's Park

Me and the Thames, a few Fall's ago. 

So true. Especially in chilly temps!

Hyde Park

Chelsea, down by the Thames

Kensington Gardens

I swear there is something about it that makes the light look like sunset all the time. Perfect amount of coziness. PLUS, around this time of year (beginning of November), all of the different areas of town start to decorate and light the streets up with Christmas decor. It's the best!

Regent Street, W1

St Christopher's, W1

South Kengsington, SW2

Sloane Square, Chelsea, SW3

Sloane Square, Chelsea, SW3

Covent Garden, W4

Not to mention all of the Christmas markets, Guy Fawkes day and all of the shops decorating their windows to be festive! If you have the chance, November is the best time to visit London.... it's pure magic. I'm always extra nostalgic for London in the fall months.... it's just not the same anywhere else.

Have you been to London in the fall? Or London in general? Do you love it as much as i do? :)


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