Confessional Friday: {Link-Up}

Happy Friday and happy Confessional Friday! If you've never joined before - welcome! If you're old hat at this, I'm elated you've returned. Either way, let's confess:

Please note, we were parked in the Bonefish Grill parking lot. No selfies or texts whilst en route!

1) I confess that the hubs and I got to go on our first date in months last Saturday and we were very cool, calm and collected about the entire thing. Especially Stephen ; )

2) I confess that this hat-loving girl just cannot with these gondolier/Anne of Green Gables hats (above) with the huge bow in the back. All the cute little hipsters around NWA have been wearing them lately and all I can think of is...

3) I confess that these beady, tassely (sp?) little earrings have been catching my eye for way too long. I think it's time I bite the bullet and move these Acid Fringe Drops (less than $35!) from my wishlist to my cart, yes?

4) I confess that I could (and do) eat a huge garden tomato every single morning and never get tired of it. My Memaw told me when I was little that she was afraid I'd turn into a tomato if I kept "eating them like that!" So far, so good, but if I start to resemble a roma or heirloom, please bring it to my attention.

Not the most exciting of lists, but I'm so thankful to have a little "boring" back in my life : )


    An InLinkz Link-up


Summer Salad Shakedown Link-Up

I wanted to ease us all back into the Confessional Friday weekly link-up with something fun, easy and delicious: a recipe link-up! (We'll return to regular Confessional Friday next week, so don't fret if kale and cucumbers aren't your thing.) I'll go ahead and keep this link-up active until Sunday night if any of you girls want to link up over the weekend.

I'm a salad addict during the hotter months. When the dog days of summer in the south arrive, I crave fruits and veggies like woah. I've got a solid stash of recipes in the ol' rotation, but here are three of my top picks.

Zesty Italian Pasta Salad

1 box Barilla tricolor rotini pasta
1 cup quartered cherry tomatoes (I love to do a mix of red and golden cherry toms!)
1/4 cup whole black olives, halved
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 cup Wishbone Zesty Italian Dressing
cracked pepper to taste

Optional ingredients:
-grilled chicken or shrimp
-fresh mozzarella cheese

Cook pasta until al dente or slightly firm. While pasta cooks, chop cherry tomatoes in half, drain black olives and slice, chop bell pepper and prep any additional ingredients you plan to add, (chicken, cheese, etc.) Then...mix it all up!

I usually combine everything while the pasta is still warm -- it blends the flavors better -- then put it right in the fridge to start chilling. 

Francie's Sweet-n-Sour Southern Slaw

This is my MIL's recipe and it's heavenly, I tell you!

1/2 cup granulated, white sugar
1 medium head of purple cabbage, shredded
1 small white onion, chopped
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon celery seeds

Optional ingredients:
-slivered almonds
-water chestnuts
-crunchy wonton strips

Shred up the cabbage, chop the onion into small pieces and combine them in a stainless steel saucepan. Sprinkle the white sugar over the top of the cabbage and onion, then set aside. Next, combine the rest of the ingredients with a whisk -- this will be your dressing -- into a small pot and bring it to a boil. While still bubbling, pour over the top of the cabbage/onion mixture, transfer it to a spill-proof container and let it cool overnight.

This makes a delicious relish alternative for hot dogs and brats and is also divine as a side dish for fried or grilled whitefish. We like cod, sea bass and red snapper.

Tomato Cucumber Caprese Remix

2 large cucumbers
4 medium on-the-vine tomatoes (they just taste better!)
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of Olive Garden brand salad dressing (I add gradually since it's a pretty flavorful dressing. I still like to let the veggies carry most of the flavor.)
1 cup freshly shredded or cubed mozzarella
1/4 cup fresh basil sprinkled on top
1/2 cup *Leslie's croutons (recipe below)

Chop up your cucumbers and tomatoes, grate your fresh cheese and chop up the basil. Once it's all prepped, combine it in a big bowl and top with dressing very gradually until you achieve your desired flavor. Next, refrigerate for one hour. Add in croutons immediately prior to serving.

*Leslie's Caprese Croutons
Lengthwise, cut in half a loaf of French or Italian bread. Drizzle the bread with olive oil, then top with rosemary before tossing it into the oven at 380 degrees for 10-15 minutes, or until lightly toasted. Once crisp, remove from oven and cube up the toast into croutons.

Tips for perfecting your ensalada:
  • Invest in a good salt and pepper grinder. Fresh cracked pepper and sea salt add a whole other dimension of freshness to the flavor profile.
  • Always have fresh lemon, olive oil and balsamic vinegar on hand for a simple and tasty three-ingredient dressing.
  • Never dress your salad more than five minutes before serving IF it's leaf-based unless you want soggy salad. Slaws and pasta salads taste best if allowed to marinate in their liquid for a half-hour or so. 

  • Invest in a good set of knives. We have and covet these bad boys, (top-most, above), which are really affordable, (under $20!) Two good paring knives, one 6.5 inch chef's knife, (middle), and a dual blade knife sharpener, (directly above), is all you really need to start and build a good collection of veggie/fruit knives.


*Specific brands of products mentioned in this post are simply the ones my family prefers. We were not compensated in any manner for using them - we just dig 'em!

    An InLinkz Link-up


MAJOR Sale Alert! (Like, $8 shirts)

If you love comfy activewear like I do, then TODAY is your lucky day. Old Navy is having the Mac Daddy of sales on all their activewear and, let's just say, I did some damage. I love this stuff to wear on a daily basis, especially for throwing on over a swimsuit for the pool.

*Remember to size down - Old Navy tends to run larger than other brands in activewear.

Here are my picks this morning!

Go-Dry Racerback Tank in Lavender Go Lightly - $8!!

Go-Dry Racerback Tank in Flamingo-A-Go-Go Neon - $8
(you have to click over and look at the back of this tank - ADORABLE!)

Women's Pique-Mesh Shorts in Multi-Floral - $11

Women's Perforated Running Shorts in Synergy Orange - $11

Same sale rings true for all the men's stuff, too. So, if you're like me and still haven't bought a Father's Day gift for your honey yet, fear not (!!) O.N. has you covered. 

*Old Navy didn't sponsor this post, nor do they know me from Adam. I just thought I'd pass along this sale.


Ainsley Catherine: {Six Months}

Hello, friends! Doth your eyes deceive you? Is it a heat-induced mirage?

Nope! I have actually blogged. A whole post. (Golf claps all around.)

I've been doing a fantastic job of keeping up with the blog lately (HA!), so frankly, I'm as shocked as you are that I posted today. It's a summer miracle (!!) However, our littlest lady turned half a year old yesterday, which should merit some sort of online tribute, don't you think?

Ainsley Catherine, you are SIX MONTHS old! Let's see what you're up to...

Weight: 15 lbs.

Length/Height: 25 inches - our girl is long and lean!

Eyes: Blue

Hair: Dark brown

Clothes: She's wearing a 6-9 month in most outfits

Diapers: Size 2 Swaddlers for the win!

Likes: We call her our Smiley Girl because girlfriend is constantly wearing a big ol' grin. She LOVES her big sister and cackles at everything she does, (we are in trouble!) Ains also likes her Exersaucer, being outside, bath time, her dogs and being held. All the time. Allllll the time. (Her momma isn't complaining, though.)

Dislikes: Being put into her carseat, riding in the car, and basically all activities involving a motor vehicle. (Very much opposite of Caroline.)

Eating: We just started integrating solids into her diet last weekend. Well, one solid. We started her on pureed sweet potatoes and she seems to love them. We plan to take it slow and introduce a new food every couple weeks or so, much like we did with Caroline. And, just like before, we'll be making her food vs. buying. (We love the enormous cost-savings aspect, plus it just tastes better!) You can read more about how we feed our babies hereand I'd encourage anyone with an infant to give it a go, if you can.

Sleeping: She sleeps all night in her crib from around 8 p.m. until 5:30 a.m. the next morning. Yes, we are lucky and definitely don't take this for granted.

Milestones: She has started sitting up by herself, which was the big milestone this month!

If I had to describe our sixth month in one word, it would be: Fun! I loooooove babies at this age. They're so fully engaged with their surroundings and constantly doing new things.

Mommy notes:

I'm not going to pretty this up - I was a complete mess every time I thought about what I missed with Ainsley while I was in the hospital. In fact, it was a little bittersweet writing this post and realizing that half a year has gone by since her birth. We had only a couple months together before my heart went kaput and our world was turned upside down.

And this makes me sad.

However, I try really hard not to dwell on what I missed out on with her and, instead, focus on the here and now. And the future. And the fact that, Lord willing, I'll be around for many more milestones to come.

I was scared that she would forget me, forget my voice and my scent and...that I was her mom. But do you know what? We picked right back up.

Sure, I can't nurse her anymore and my energy runs out a lot sooner than before, but we are together - momma and child - just as we should be.

Ainsley Cate, I am so glad you're mine!