Clothes Organization – Part 1 & Crispy Onion BBQ Burger

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Cooking and organizing with sis continued right into Monday. I know most people like to do fun and relaxing things on their day’s off, and I do, too, but lately, I’ve been feeling so behind, I feel obligated to be productive for most of the vacay-day. Luckily, getting things done gives me a great sense of accomplishment…like checking something off of your to-do list. It’s stress-relieving and I actually enjoy it. And I do try to work some time for relaxing and fun into my days, by the way. I’m not all work and no play.

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And just to clarify, being productive does include cooking up a yummy breakfast. ;) I made my multigrain pancakes with easy raspberry sauce (click for recipe), except I used oat flour instead of white. (I’m already looking forward to raspberry sauce leftovers over oatmeal tomorrow!)

Clothes Organization – Part 1

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I continued our organizing spree by taking a first stab at one of the bigger projects going on at the Chic house – my clothes situation. As some of my long time readers know, I used to be quite the shopaholic. I never needed an intervention or anything, but let’s just say I have more clothes than the average gal. (I know…I polled my fashion blog readers…whoops! lol)

When hubby and I moved into the Chic house back in fall 2009, I bid adieu to my giant walk-in closet and traded it for our first house – tiny closets and all. Our new house has such small closets because it’s never really had much of a renovation and it’s an older house. Since we’ve moved in, I’ve struggled to figure out what to do with all my beloved clothes. I like to purge my belongings regularly, so I knew that wasn’t the main issue, though I did try to go through them again. In my opinion, my primary problem area is organization tools.

Hubby and I poured all our money into our kitchen reno and when that sputtered out (unfinished), it left nothing for my clothes. I made do with what I already had furniture-wise – a strange assortment of various types of shelves collected over the years – but it wasn’t getting the job done.

Sis and I decided to take another look at my clothes to see if we could do anything with them without spending any money.

Step 1: Identify Mini Project

The major change we identified was storage of fall/winter clothes. I’ve always had the space such that I never needed to switch out fall and winter clothes, so I’ve never done that before…ever. I think that puts me in the minority, because I’m guessing most people do switch clothes out for the warm and cold weather seasons. We decided to take my 3 sweater bins (the best way I’ve found to store sweaters so far – I used to line the bottom of my closet with them) and separate them in fall/winter and spring/summer.

Step 2: Get Started – Tweak As Needed

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Remember in school when you’d dread the start of a new essay assignment? It was everything you could do to get those first words out, yet they’d flow pretty easy afterwards? I think sometimes the hardest part of organization is just getting started. Luckily, I had my sister to motivate me. We picked one bin and just started going through my sweaters one by one. What we found was that I actually had 3 types of sweaters – heavy, medium, and light weight. So, we separated the sweaters into 3 piles and decided to worry about folding later.

Step 3: Assess What You Have – Consider Better Solutions

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My sister managed to fill 1 1/2 bins full of heavy-weight sweaters. But, we decided to keep the medium and light-weight sweaters out…at least for now. I definitely like the lightweight ones for layering, even in the summer (it’s still cold inside sometimes!). And I’m thinking I may wear the medium weight sweaters to work since they like to set their thermostat to “icebox.”

We decided that it would be best if we could fill the 2 sweater bins and move them to storage and do something with all the medium and light-weight sweaters we wanted to keep out. Sis noticed that the shelves in this storage cabinet (that I bought in college! can’t believe it hasn’t fallen apart yet) seemed like they could be used more effectively.

At the time, I had the following in it:

  • T-Shirts (not fitting space well)
  • Workout Clothes (pants ok, but tank tops hard to stack)
  • PJs (not using space effectively – lots of lost vertical space)

I also noticed that I had a 4-box wire storage shelf (originally purchased for my craft room…back when I had one) that weren’t really being used. So, we decided to pull a switcheroo.

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But not without making time to break for lunch. Hubby helped out by picking up food from Mellow Mushroom while we sorted away. We started with a tomato/mozzarella salad.

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And cheese pizza.

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With happy stomachs, we were able to dig in and finish our Mini Project – Sorting the sweaters.

We filled two bins of heavy-weight sweaters and a couple polar fleeces, and these will be moved to the basement for storage till cooler weather returns.

The third bin contains athletic cover-ups, polar fleeces, etc., which my sister folded and re-organized. This one will stay upstairs since I wear these a lot for Zumba and around the house.

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We moved all the clothes out of the shelf system and into the fabric bins:

  • Workout clothes
  • Nice T-Shirts (to wear out and about)
  • PJs (bottoms)
  • Crochet Project (leftover from when it was in my craft room – the project just fits too nicely to move…lol)

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Into the newly freed space on the shelves, we moved:

  • Light-Weight Sweaters on top (left 2 piles are cardigans/cover-ups & right is regular sweaters)
  • Medium-Weight Sweaters in middle (left 2 piles are cardigans/cover-ups & right is regular sweaters)
  • T-Shirts on bottom (these are like sleep-wear t-shirts to wear around the house or in the yard – there are more than what’s pictured, but they’re in the laundry bin)

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While the clothes-organization overall project is far from being done, I’m really happy with the progress we made.

Changes/Observations:

  • Less-used items are in lower/harder-to-reach spaces – frees up room for popular clothes
  • More-used items are in easier-to-access spaces – makes getting ready easier/faster since I don’t have to work as hard to get to these clothes
  • Cardigans/sweaters are now visible instead of being piled in a bin – I forgot I had some of the items because they were so buried. Now that I can see them stacked in the shelf, I know immediately what I have and what my options are when I’m putting an outfit together
  • Clothing groups are better kept together – makes things easier to find and keep organized
  • More floor space – visually better already

We (I?) still have a lot of work to do with my clothes, but since I don’t have large chunks of free-time to pull from, I plan to tackle everything one mini-project at a time. So far, so good!

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After wrapping up our organization project for the day and saying adieu to sis who had to return home, hubby and I went furniture shopping at a local consignment shop. We didn’t find anything we liked, but we did enjoy our visit. The inventory is constantly changing, so we know we’ll be checking back often.

Then, we hit up Earthfare to get goodies for dinner and for my next challenge for June – can you tell from the produce photo what it’s going to be about?!

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And for dinner, I decided to try something I’ve seen at many restaurants -

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A crispy onion topping. Why?

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To put on this Earthfare burger, of course!

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Hubby also requested pina coladas with the leftover fresh pineapple we had on hand thanks to the Pineapple Upside Down Cake Minis. I made ours using pineapple, coconut milk, sugar, and ice…and of course rum. I thought the flavor was ok, but it needs tweaking before I’m 100% happy with it.

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But the burger! The crispy onion rings were perfect on the burger!

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We also added leftover homemade-BBQ sauce on the burger, and the combination of it all was simply outstanding!

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We also had kale chips, leftover potato wedges, and corn (that I made hubby eat since he put too much cayenne pepper on it – he likes it spicy!).

We enjoyed a casual and relaxing dinner whilst watching The Green Hornet. Nothing like a productive day followed by relaxing over dinner and a movie to cap off a fantastic day.

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And since this blog was for Memorial Day – Sending a special thank you to those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in the name of our continued freedom.

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Next time on The Chic Life, I reveal the June Challenge (Hint: it’s related to produce!) and blog about a fun dinner double date with new friends.

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Reader question: How do you organize your clothes? Do you hang everything? Put sweaters in a special container? Do share your clothes-organization tips and ideas.

On Organizing + Homemade BBQ Sauce

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Just as I thought my work schedule was starting to calm down a bit, it’s actually going to get worse than ever…at least for a little while. Even still, I’m going to try even harder than ever to work some time for organization into my already-hectic schedule. Over the last year or so, I’ve sort of let my schedule get the best of me lack-of-organization-wise, but I function best when there is order around me. So, I need to put some attention to getting a handle on a few house projects. Lack of money is also an issue, but we’re going to make the best with what we already have and what we can afford.

I considered putting together an organization challenge for the month of June. I started to plan one today and began jotting notes down on different categories. What I realized is that there are far more categories and topics than there is time in the month of June. So, instead, I will have a different June-challenge and I will work on mini-organization projects throughout the year!

Any guesses what the June challenge will be about? Hint: it’s related to eating healthier. No cheating twitter and Facebook friends!

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Anywho, as far as organization, some of ours crosses into the decoration realm. Either way, check out this new clock we got at Crate and Barrel for the kitchen area. Hubby put it up this weekend, and it’s already made such a big difference. No more squinting at the microwave (which may be getting it’s own “organization” soon).

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And since we have more projects than time/money, Sis suggested we stick to just one. We wrote down and reviewed several and decided that the patio would be the easiest and wouldn’t cost anything.

First up, we swept all the leaves away.

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And then we organized my herbs. I told my sister that I wanted to put a shelf on the porch somewhere so I could get my herbs off the ground to help protect them from pests. We actually had a small shelf on the porch already but were using it to store garden supplies, citronella candles, and other yard randomness. We re-organized some of the tools to the garage and cleared the whole thing off. Then, we moved it closer to the natural sunlight and placed the plants on it.

I still have some temporary plastic pots that need to be replaced with nicer ceramic ones, but it looks a lot better already.

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Bailey even got to hang out for the cleaning action.

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And then hubby played frisbee with him and chased him around with a sprinkler.

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Run!

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Bailey!

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Run!

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After a quick breather and lots of water, we got started on dinner. First up, Sis and I worked on a new Cake Mini flavor – an idea we came up with together.

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And we also worked on something fun…

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Homemade BBQ sauce! We used this version, which came out pretty tasty.

I’d really like to test out a few different ones and then figure out our own special formula. This was a good start. Do you have any BBQ sauce recipes you recommend?

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We ended up inviting the neighbors over for dinner. It was awesome having the porch all nice, clean, and ready to go. We just had to add food!

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We made grilled BBQ chicken breasts using our homemade BBQ sauce and Earthfare chicken.

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Hubby has come up with his own grilled potato wedge recipe! I’m so proud. Once he perfects it, I’ll help him write it and publish it here on TCL so you guys can check it out.

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We had quite the feast.

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We had the chicken, potato wedges and also corn on the cob and steamed broccoli.

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And as for those Cake Minis…we made…

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Pineapple Upside Down Cake Minis!! Aren’t they cute? The pineapple rings are almost the perfect size for the 3 inch ramekins I use. The recipe will be publishing soon. I think so far the Carrot Cake Minis are my fave flavor, but there are lots of fun ones ahead! ;)

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Lookie! I’m organizing the blog, too. I’m making TCL easier to use! ;)

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I’ve added a list of my 5 most recent recipes where you can get the newest TCL recipes. You can find the others on my Recipes page.

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I’ve also added a archive calendar for searching for old/archived blog posts. It will display whatever the month is for the current post you’re viewing (so if you’re viewing a post that was published on 2/20/11, it will display February 2011). You can click on a particular day to see a list of posts published on that day.

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Like this post? Then click here to get free updates!

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Next time on TCL – another mini organization project (on clothes!) and a preview of the June Challenge.

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What are your organization strategies? Do you use any particular plans, guides, checklists, etc.?

Peach Blueberry Breakfast Crisp + Reid’s Preview

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I didn’t get a lot of movie suggestions on my previous post (Liv did say: Love and Other Impossible Pursuits), but I keep hearing (via the blog, Facebook, twitter and friends) that the Something Borrowed book series is really good. It must be if everyone keeps saying that! Maybe I need to read them next?!

On to Sunday…

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I’ve been having fun cooking for my sister since she keeps requesting things she’s seen on the blog. Yay for family reading your blog!

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On Sunday, she requested a breakfast crisp.

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Since I had just picked up some fresh peaches at the farmer’s market, I decided to do one of my fave combos – peach/blueberry!

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Peach Blueberry Individual Breakfast Crisp

Peach Blueberry Crisp taste just like summer! I love using farmer’s market fruits in this simple breakfast dish. Unlike dessert crisps, this one is lighter on sugar and oil/butter. It’s also heavy on the oats so you get a decent grain serving. And did I mention this is an easy way to work fruits into your daily eats? Oh yes. I do this for you, dear reader. ;) Bake this for breakfast tomorrow! The dish mixes together quickly and you can finish getting ready for the day while it bakes away.

*Vegan if you use vegan substitute for the butter*

Serves 1

Ingredients:

  • 1 peach – cleaned, pitted, and chopped (I used fresh, but frozen should work)
  • 1-2 tablespoons blueberries (frozen or fresh)
  • 1/2 tsp sucanat (or brown sugar – optional if you want your fruit mixture sweeter than the natural sweetness of the fruits)
  • 1/4 tsp tapioca starch (or corn starch)
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1 tbsp flour (I used spelt, but any will do)
  • 1 tsp sucanat (or brown sugar)
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • pinch salt
  • dash cinnamon (optional)
  • bit of butter (about 1/4 tsp – optional)
  • sprinkling of chopped pecans (about 1 tbsp)
  • non-stick spray

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prep baking dish with non-stick spray (I used a 4″ round ramekin).
  2. In a medium bowl, mix peaches, blueberries, sucanat (if using) and tapioca starch. Pour into baking dish.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix oats, flour, sucanat, oil, salt, cinnamon (I rinsed out my mixing bowl and reused it for the topping – one less dish = easier clean up!). Pour topping over berries.
  4. If you’re using it, dab small pieces of butter over topping and sprinkle nuts over topping.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until top is lightly browned and peach/berry mixture just bubbles at the sides.
  6. Enjoy!

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Breakfast Crisps are a great and delicious way to get fruit and whole grains in your breakfast.

By the way, here’s a recipe for a mixed berry version!

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After breakfast, my sister and I headed out to meet some girlfriends at the pool. It was glorious soaking up the sun, enjoying the cool pool water, chatting it up with the girls, and just relaxing. I forgot to take photos, though…doh!

I did manage to take some iPhone photos of our next couple of adventures – lunch at a must-see Charlotte restaurant and a preview of a not-so-new “grocery store.” Read on for dets…

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I took my sister to The Cowfish since it’s awesome and I had a Living Social deal for the place that was about to expire.

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Sis and I both got unsweetened mango teas and they were perfectly refreshing since we were dining al fresco.

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We also tried the chicken satay. The app was great, but if you’re visiting Cowfish, I suggest getting one of their more unique appetizers. You can get chicken satay almost anywhere! But you can’t get ahi tuna tacos or deconstructed crab rangoons as dip.

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I got my usual – the bento box.

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I never thought I’d like sushi and burgers in the same meal so much, but it’s a match made in heaven.

As always, lunch and service were wonderful.

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And for dessert on the hot Sunday, we hit up Yoforia. I got tart and pomegranate with strawberries, kiwi, blueberries, coconut and my now must-have topping – mochi!

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And since we were in the neighborhood, I thought I’d pay a visit to the newly opened Reid’s Fine Foods. Reid’s used to be open uptown, but closed awhile back. Everyone was very sad as the place was a beloved establishment for the locals. But now, it’s back in business!

Inside, they had lots of fresh produce, a small frozen foods section, a small refrigerated foods section, plenty of locally made products and fancy imports.

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They still have their famous butcher shop (I spotted Grateful Growers products in there!).

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Plus, they have a nice selection of prepared foods.

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They also have a large selection of cheeses and wines.

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And they now have a wine bar. You can order wines by the glass here. They have half off glasses on a couple days of the week (I think Monday and Thursday, but don’t quote me!). In addition, they have wine tastings and cooking classes!

I’m so glad to see Reid’s back in busines, and I hope they and other small, local businesses continue to thrive. Go local!

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While we were waiting for our lunch table to be ready, sis and I visited Crate and Barrel. Sis bought me these 2 mini bowls. Aren’t they cute?

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She also got me a fun new food ingredient – Sweet Potato Butter! I’m thinking this is going to get mixed into some oats pretty soon. Yum-ee!!

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Inspirational quote of the day:

“Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.” ~Oprah Winfrey

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Next time on The Chic Life – homemade BBQ sauce experimenting, Bailey and the “sprinkler”, and a June Challenge preview!! :)

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Like this post? Please consider clicking the Facebook-Like button to let me know! ;) Thanks doll-face!

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Reader question #1: How do you support local businesses?

Reader question #2: What’s your favorite fruit to eat for breakfast? Do you think it would taste good in a Breakfast Crisp?

Track Down That Food Truck + A Restaurant Secret

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Saturday kicked off a fantastic and relaxing weekend. Well, truth be told, I had to work a bit Saturday morning, but I was at least able to do it from the comfort of my home. After getting some “real” work done, it was time for some blog work. Imagine my surprise to stand up after hitting the publish button to see this:

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Bailey was sitting right under me.

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What a weirdo!? lol Silly boy!

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I broke away from technology to visit my fave farmer’s market – Atherton Mills.

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The market was decorated for Memorial Day!

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Note Bailey pulling like a crazed dog on his leash. This is how he rolls at the farmer’s market. I’m sure he seems quite calm since most of his photos are of him just laying around, but he is such a ball of energy! lol

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I like to try to visit a new booth every time we go to the market. This time we decided to try Rio Bertolini’s.

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I picked up 1 pound of spinach gnocchi. I’m going to try to create something similar to this.

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Hubby picked up some frozen fruit ice while I was buying kale.

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So, we sat outside and enjoyed the warm weather for a bit on some of the benches outside.

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And then, guess who arrived?! My sis made an impromptu visit to the Chic house for the long weekend. I heated up some soup for everybody for a quick meal.

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And then I tracked down the Southern Cake Queen via twitter! I really wanted my sister to experience some of the Charlotte food truck scene and I was just able to catch SCQ via twitter. She nicely set aside cupcakes for me and even tossed in 1 for free! Yay! Thank you SCQ!

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We got strawberry, vanilla, lime-coconut, and lemon.

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Sis and I headed out for an early dinner with some of my faves – Megan, Toya, and Erica.

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Their restaurant of choice – Mac’s Speed Shop. Second time in a week!

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And Toya reminded me that they had hush puppies. I had forgotten!

Restaurant Secret: Want to know a restaurant secret? Many restaurants will only give you bread (or hush puppies) if you ask for them. So, next time you’re eating out and missing your carbs (I know I’m not the only carb lover out there, right? ;) ), just ask your server if they serve bread. Oh yes. I’d say about 30% of restaurants work this way. But you can’t hide bread from a carb lover like me! hehe.

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Sis and I split the combo. We wanted turkey, but they were out, so we got: pulled pork, beer-butt chicken, ribs, and beef brisket. Plus, we ordered mac and cheese and collards on the side.

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Smoky goodness.

After dinner, I met up with blog friends Caitlin, Nicole, and Allison to see a new movie – Something Borrowed. Wow! The movie was so much cuter than I thought it would be. I’m not the biggest chick-flick fan, but there are definitely a handful that I go gaga for!

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And then I came home to dig into my cupcake!

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Lime-coconut goodness!

Reader question #1: (I know I ask this one a lot, but the movies change all the time!) Have you seen any good movies lately? Which ones and do you recommend them?

Reader question #2: What did you do for Memorial Day weekend?

The Cozy Wine Shop

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Friday was a welcome sight this week, but besides being the beginning of a 3 day weekend, it also brought a fun outing with bloggie friends.

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I started with a long-lost friend – oatmeal.

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I made this version with bananas, almonds, chia seeds, and raw cacao powder.

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And then I got gussied up to meet some friends for vinoooooo!

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Taking these pictures really made me miss running my fashion blog. I’m trying to figure out how to dig out some more time in my crazy schedule to make some room for fashion blogging. ;)

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I headed out to the Wine Shop in Southpark. The shop featured a cozy wine cellar and dining room. The vibe was warm and welcoming. I met up with blog friends – Caitlin, Nicole, and Jen, along with their significant others.

I started out with a white wine half pour. I forgot which one it was though, but it was tasty! :) My second glass was also a half pour. I love wine flights, but it was nice at the Wine Shop being able to make my own little sampler.

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Caitlin talked me into trying one of her olives. As you probably know, I’m not a big olive person. I’ve always thought they tasted weird. However, you guys also know that I like to taste and re-taste eats I don’t like in the hopes of one day liking them. Olives are so enjoyed by so many others…I just know I’m missing out on something!

I selected one of the green ones to try upon recommendation by Caitlin and Nicole. And you know…it wasn’t that bad! Woohoo! Perhaps I’m on the way to becoming a fan after all? ;)

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Hubby and I also split a salad of arugula, goat cheese, nuts, and beets. It was sooo good. I almost didn’t let hubby have any. And since he doesn’t like beets, I got all of those!

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For the main event, I knew we had to try the Crispy Chicken over warm farro salad after I saw every single table around us order one.

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The dish did not disappoint. It had a lovely crispy outside (just like they said), and the farro was a real treat. It was warm, mushroom-y, and had spinach and tomatoes. Yum!

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I had such a great time chatting it up with my friends and even made some wonderful new ones! Hi Sean and Heather! :)

I could definitely see The Wine Shop becoming a fave-spot in town. I am such a fan of local places like this!

Do you prefer sports bars, clubs, wine shops, or house parties? Or maybe a combination of different ones depending on the occasion? Which ones and why?

Foodzie + Sea Snax

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I got something fun in the mail the other day!

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As part of the Foodbuzz tastemaker program, I received a free foodzie tasting box to sample.

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Upon first opening the box, there were definitely lots of goodies noticeable.

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I liked the info sheet showing where all the foods came from. I’m going to work my way through them all, but here’s a sneak peek:

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Herbed sea salts

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Biscotti

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Shortbread cookies with Dulce de Leche

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dried pineapples

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Iced tea

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And SeaSnax.

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I decided to check out the SeaSnax sample first. I really liked the attractive packaging and that the food was all natural.

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Inside were several sheets of roasted seaweed, lightly salted.

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I’ve seen seaweed snacks at Earthfare before and thought about trying them. I believe seaweed is a rather popular snack food in many Asian countries. I think they’re on to something, because from what I’ve read, seaweed is good for you. These chips were almost like kale chips to me – light, feathery, flimsy but crisp. They were salted nicely. They had a slightly fishy flavor, but if you’re used to eating seaweed in sushi or miso soup, it’s nothing you wouldn’t be used to.

I thought these snacks were fun to eat!

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For lunch I enjoyed some frozen and re-heated been and veggie soup

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(Tuscan style)

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And since I haven’t had one in awhile – a donut from a local bakery! Hubby picked this up for me!

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He also made a fabulous dinner AND photographed the meal for me as I was running late from Zumba. It’s a bison steak with grilled potato wedges and steamed broccoli.

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For dessert, we tried this Trader Joe’s find.

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Not healthy at all, but very tasty Apple Blossoms. Yum!

What do you think about seaweed snacks – would you try it?

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