Daily Pics: Shopping Finds!

Shopping isn't my favorite activity. (What? You thought this was a fashion blog? Tsk tsk!) But I do enjoy it every now and then. Especially when I find super deals on clearance or spectacular purchases that make my life all the better for buying them. The store I frequent most? Hobby Lobby, no question about it. I go at least once a week, mainly because I buy a lot of jewelry supplies from there for my Etsy shop, but also because I never know what cool stuff I'm gonna find. My mom and I have hit up a couple stores, including Hobby Lobby, while she's in town this week and we definitely scored! Here's the highlights:

Grey Madden Girl pumps, $24.99, Ross

A snazzy fall frock for weddings & events: Snap dress, $19.99, Ross


Home accents! Texas coaster set, $6; small Western frame, $2.50; watering can, $4 (kinda ugly, but it'll get the job done for my plants outside!); zebra vase, $5 (LOVE this!); all at Hobby Lobby.

A gorgeous matted photo frame for a wall in my living room, $6.99 (clearance!), Hobby Lobby

A couple office accessories: Brown decorative frame, $5; Peacock feathers, $.50 each; blue vase (holding the feathers), $3; all at Hobby Lobby.

Camo light switch for the garage (my husband is a hunter), $3.50, Hobby Lobby

Clearance frame, $3.49, Hobby Lobby. It was perfect for a wine and cheese painting my mom did for me several years ago!

Both the new frame and my zebra vase (top left) found homes above my fridge in the kitchen. 

As you can see, we clearly made a haul at Hobby Lobby. And some of the prices are clearance, while others are simply part of the 50% off sales that are constantly going on. I never buy anything full price there!

What fun bargains have you discovered lately? Leave me details in the comments section or a link to your recent shopping post! Happy Saturday, folks.



Daily Pics: Family Time!

My mom and step-dad drove from Dallas to Houston yesterday and we've been having a great time already. I absolutely love spending time with my mom, we share a lot of special interests from movies and TV shows to laying by the pool and browsing Hobby Lobby. It really doesn't take much to keep us thoroughly entertained. :) Plus, I've been missing "home" (aka Dallas, for anyone reading) and the ability to drive over to my mom's house for lunch or catch up with friends for happy hour there. So the next best thing is having my mom at my house in Houston! Wanna see what we've been up to? Ya know I got lottsa pics!










From top to bottom:
1.) A John Wayne coffee cup I scored half-price at Hobby Lobby... I surprised my step-dad with it when he arrived at our house. He loves it!
2.) Some gorgeous $4 Gladiolus blooms from HEB
3.) Me and my sweet cat, Snowball, hanging out in the kitchen ;)
4.) Another kitty who got woke up from her nap... that's July and she's 18!
5.) A skinny margarita...
6.) ...beef and chicken fajitas...
7.) ...and a stuffed poblano pepper for our lunch at Lupe Tortilla.
8.) Mom and I outside the restaurant—she's wearing a necklace from my Etsy shop!
9.) Playing with my step-dad's camera at my house, that's a shot of my living room.

We found some serious bargains during our hobby Lobby venture yesterday and I got some super cute stuff at Ross, so I'll post about that next time, plus a "sorta" recipe inspired by the grocery store. Hope you're having a fan-TAN-tastic Tuesday! (Okay, perhaps bit too much time poolside for me...) 

Dinner at Sorrel

It's not a well-kept secret that I love to eat. Food is so wonderful, especially when it's unique, delicious and fresh! With my job as a freelance writer come a few occasional perks or benefits that I just, er, eat up. (Sorry, some puns are just too obvious to avoid!) It was a treat to attend a dinner at the new Sorrel Urban Bistro, a farm-to-table dining concept in Houston. There were some seriously fun drinks and yummy dinner courses, prepared by Executive Chef and co-owner Soren Pedersen. The restaurant is the second venture for him and co-owner and restaurateur Ray Salti who also manage Ray's Grill in Fulshear. 



Sea salt-crusted Black Drum fish with leeks and lemongrass

Spinach broth with lamb and goat cheese

Blue cheese risotto with braised duck

Brussel sprouts and cucumber on pork tenderloin and corn cake

Iron Skillet-seared filet mignon with grilled purple fingerling potato and bearnaise sauce

Gruyere cheese and pear pecan tart


Everything was absolutely delicious!!! The risotto was very unique and something I'd like to try and recreate some time. I was also head-over-heels for the Modern Rita cocktail, which had a heavenly coconut taste (I am obsessed with coconut, incredibly delish). Sooo... I snapped a photo of the cocktail menu so that one day I can whip up my own version! You're welcome to do the same—come back with a link to your post or photo if you do, I'd love to know how it turns out on the home front.


Cheers!!

Feeling Fresh!

A fun floral top with some white jeans is the perfect summer getup for dinner or a night out or even just a midday event. I paired mine for a work event last night and better yet, it was totally on sale!!

top: Elle at Kohls  -  jeans: LC Lauren Conrad at Kohls  -  shoes: wedge heels at Target

What's your favorite summer-time attire?

Daily Pics: In The Woodlands

You know those friends in your life that simply get who you are? You never really have to explain yourself, because there comes a simple understanding of each other. You share similar views and ideas and an overall outlook on life that complements the other's way of thinking. Hanging out together is effortless and need be never over thought. Being with them is like a breath of fresh air and it's amazing that, of all the people in your life that annoy the hell out of you, these are friends you never really get sick of!

I am blessed to have a few friends like that in my life, and one of them doesn't live too awful far away. Lisa and I are both fortunate to enjoy flexible working schedules right now, and we try to get together once a week for lunch and a chance to just hang out. We alternate houses and truly enjoy these days in each other's company, whether it's watching movies, reading magazines, checking out a new place, cooking or working on some craft project that's been on our to-do list far too long. Rarely do we ever have a "plan," our activities just sort of evolve based on our moods. ;)

Yesterday, I drove out to The Woodlands to visit her. After lunch and flipping through some new magazines, we headed out to The Woodlands Waterway. It's a charming collection of restaurants, bars, boutiques and other shops centered around a picturesque river walk. We decided to stop in at Hubble & Hudson, an adorable grocery chain that features a fresh market, butcher, seafood, charcuterie and cheese, artisan breads and other items. Afterward we stopped at the Goose's Acre Bistro & Irish Pub for a couple brewskies and a chat while looking out over the water. And just for fun, here are some of the pictures from our foodie adventure—all thanks to Lisa's phone camera!








From top to bottom:
1.) Walking into Hubble & Hudson, after stopping at the gelato counter for some coconut dessert!
2.) Sea beans, anyone? Never seen them before and, at $17.99 a pound, probably never will again.
3.) Mini patty pan and sunburst squashes. I've been eyeing several recipes lately that call for those, and plan to cook with them soon.
4.) Beautiful heirloom tomatoes were a highlight of the produce section. 
5.) Lisa (right) and I goofing around the artichokes. Also on my never-done-it-gonna-try-to-make-it cooking list? Artichoke leaves with lemon butter sauce.
6.) A delicious display of cheeses and meats, including a very large hunk of prosciutto.
7.) Ending the day with a Shiner for Lisa and a Bud Light for me (of course!) at the Goose's Acre pub. Evenings like these are some of the best...

Happy Friday, y'all!

Recipe Challenge, Day 5 of 5

Ta-dah! I did it. Completed my 5-Day Recipe Challenge to create a string of new dishes I'd never tried before, all courtesy of the weeknight meal planner from Rachael Ray's July issue of her magazine, Every Day with Rachael Ray. If you're just tuning in, here are the links to Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 and Day 4.

Day 5 was the best meal of the set, it got rave reviews from both the husband and my friend, Lisa, who joined us for dinner that night. And it was, arguably, one of the easiest recipes as well. So without further ado, let's dig in!


Garlic-Marinated Steak with Corn Salsa
1 lb. skirt steak, halved crosswise (you can also cut the steak up after you've grilled it, or you can use rib-eye steaks like we did!)
Salt & pepper
4 small garlic cloves, peeled and lightly smashed but still whole
2 tbsp. EVOO, plus more for drizzling
1 pkg. corn tortillas
2 ears corn, shucked
2 avocados, cut into bite-size cubes
1 small bunch radishes (about 8), thinly sliced
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1 lime, zested and juiced

Step 1) Season your steaks with plenty of salt and pepper, then rub them all over with the smashed garlic cloves. Don't be afraid to smush it in there! You should be able to smell the fragrant garlic. After sliding the garlic around the surface of the meat, discard the garlic and drizzle the steaks with some EVOO and let them sit at room temp for about 15 minutes. Don't skip this step! It really does help the garlic settle in and lets the steak flavor truly marinate before grilling.


Step 2) Oil the grill grate and grill the corn, uncovered and turn occasionally, until blistered. About five minutes or so. When it's cool enough to handle slice the kernels off the cob and place in a large mixing bowl.



Step 3) Grill the steaks, turning halfway through cooking time. (A meat thermometer really comes in handy here to avoid overcooking the steaks, we chose to keep ours around medium for best flavor.) When grilled to desired doneness, remove from grill and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing. While steaks are resting, wrap a stack of corn tortillas in foil and place on non-direct heat on the grill for about 8-10 minutes to warm.



Step 4) Add the avocados, radishes and onion to your bowl of corn kernels. In a small cup, whisk together 2 tbsp. EVOO, and the lime zest and lime juice. Season with salt and pepper then add to the large bowl and toss with your corn salsa.



Step 5) Plate your dinner! A corn tortilla, a few strips of steak and a hearty helpin' of your corn salsa will do it. Best devoured with a nice cold beer. :)



That wraps up my 5-Day Recipe Challenge! I'm glad I did it, though the hard part was keeping up with blog posts, not so much the cooking. I'll admit all five recipes were pretty easy to handle, which was just the point. I knew it was going to be different trying to blog five dinners in a row—and turns out, I had to take a break in between when work and life just got a little too busy to keep up. But it's motivated me to get on the blog more often and share other experiences, from cooking and crafts to projects and vacations. Blogs are a wonderful way to present useful, creative and inspirational information!

The Recipe Challenge isn't over, though. I'll continue to do Recipe Challenge posts in the future, especially when it comes to new and more difficult dishes I've not always had the patience to conquer. I've already selected one for next week, in fact, that's from a wonderful Italian cook book I've been reading through. It involves crisping basil leaves and even making a white bean passatina. Eek!

Until then, c'mon back for a trip recap of our visit to Niagara Falls, the Guadalupe River and some other projects I've been looking forward to sharing. Oh, and bon appetit!!

Recipe Challenge, Day 4 of 5

I love it when a recipe sort of blossoms into a tasty spread of culinary goodness. Because that's exactly what happened when my friend, Lisa, came over to join me for lunch on Day 4 of my 5-Day Recipe Challenge. This one is simple, but tasty... and you can get some fun ideas from our fabulous selection of lunch-time fare, too!


Tuna, White Bean and Arugula Sandwiches
*I don't eat arugula lettuce and we didn't exactly make these into sandwiches, but you can figure all that out for yourself. :)


1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
2 cans tuna, drained (it called for oil-packed, but I used tuna in water)
1 large tomato, chopped
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
3 tbsp. chopped flat-leaf parsley
3 tbsp. EVOO, plus more for drizzling
1 lemon, zested and juiced
Salt & pepper
3 cupes baby arugula
1 loaf ciabatta bread, split lengthwise and cut crosswise into 4 pieces and lightly toasted

Step 1) In a large bowl, combine the beans, tuna, tomato, onion, parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice and 3 tbsp. EVOO. Season with salt and pepper and toss gently with arugula, if desired.


Step 2)  Having nixed the arugula, I opted to simply mix up the tuna salad as instructed and serve on some pieces of bread—your choice, any kind works—brushed with olive oil and toasted.


Step 3) We didn't mix in the tomatoes, necessarily, because Lisa brought over a bowl of super fresh tomatoes from her mom's garden—all nicely marinated in olive oil with seasonings.


Our lunch consisted of the tuna, which was really good with the beans and a little garlic mayo I stirred in at the last second, as well as a heavenly spread of several other munchies. We had fresh olives, store-bought mozzarella balls drizzled with balsamic oil, prosciutto-and-cheese stuffed peppers, Lisa's homegrown marinated tomatoes, some re-heated zucchini gratin (get the recipe here), and repurposed leftovers from dinner the night before sprinkled with some feta. Delish!!




As if we hadn't already had more than enough (I mean, my husband came home and thought we'd had a dinner party for six), Lisa whipped up Pioneer Woman's iron skillet apple cake that we paired with scoops of vanilla ice cream. The husband wasn't complaining about appearing in time for that little sweet treat.


And that does it for Recipe #4! The fifth and final recipe posts tomorrow—and it's the best yet, so don't miss it!


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