Thursday, May 29, 2014

Holiday: Home For the Weekend

I just love Memorial Day weekend.

For our family, this is a weekend of traditions. For the past few years, we've made sure each and every one of us (mom, dad, sister and boyfriends too!) has been able to take a few days off to enjoy the long weekend together. For us, the weekend truly starts on Thursday.

After a short flight from Minneapolis to Milwaukee, my dear dad picked me up at the airport! After a quick drive home together, we stopped to see my grandparents and waited for my sister to make the trek home from college. That evening, the four of us had a very nice, much-needed family dinner together. Just like old times, only better now that I can truly say that my family members are my best friends!

Bright and early on Friday morning (think 7 a.m.) we headed out for city-wide yard sales. Our hometown has been doing this for years and years, and as thrifty DIY-ers and deal aficionados, we always take part! The boys joined us on Friday evening, and we hit the town again on Saturday before heading to our cabin for a few days (my absolute favorite part).

We've had our cabin since before my sister and I were born. Some of my first (and best) memories were spent at the cabin. It's not just a second home to us; truthfully, I think we all feel most at home while we're there!

It was nothing short of perfect. The weather was incredible (sunny skies, no rain and temperatures in the high 70s), which made for a wonderful weekend in the great outdoors. Between hiking, lawn games, campfire stories, cooking, four-wheeling and quality time with our handsome black lab, the weekend went by way too fast!

One of my favorite parts of heading to the cabin was trying out my new Keen Utility Shoes, as well as a handful of spices from Urban Accents. Keen and Urban Accents were kind enough to send us some products to test out at the cabin, and we couldn't have been more impressed!

I always struggle when it comes to outdoor footwear. Our cabin has a sandy terrain, so sandals and tennis shoes don't really do the trick. In all my years there, I've never found "the" shoe that stood up to everything we do at the cabin (camping, cooking, hiking, volleyball, bundling wood etc.) While I loved how the Flint Low PR looked, I was even more impressed with the fit and durability. These bad boys received so many compliments this weekend. Not to mention, I didn't get a single blister, nor a sock full of sand. Jack was just as impressed with his Tuscon Low PR boots. We have a handful of camping trips planned for July and August, and these boots will be the first thing we pack!

Same can be said for the Urban Accents spices. Truthfully, I usually buy my spices at the grocery store and don't pay much attention to what I'm getting and how to use it. That's what made the Ultimate Grill Master Gift Set so great. It was packed with spices that everyone in our group could agree on and loved (we chose the Kansas City Classic Rub for our burgers and peppers on Saturday evening, and the Sonoma Pepper on our fire roasted potatoes on Sunday). Since my dad so kindly drove 3 hours round trip to pick me up at the airport, the grill set was the perfect thank you gift for him (he's the master of the grill at the cabin!) Next time we visit, I'm bringing the chipotle parmesan and cilantro lime corn on the cob seasonings with me. We can't wait to try them!

And then just like that, in the blink of an eye, it was Monday. Goodbyes are always so hard for me, especially after such a wonderful weekend. But I didn't have long to be upset; Jack and I had our big China trip to plan for. We're currently in flight to Seattle as we speak!

From Wisconsin to China, just like that. We'll talk to you soon!

|| Photos are property of Twentyapolis. Do not use or distribute. Products provided by Keen and Urban Accents. || 


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Recipe: Vegetarian Stuffed Eggplant

Oh eggplant. How did I go nearly 25 years without knowing how much I loved you?

While my obsession with brussels sprouts is still going strong, eggplant is quickly making its way into my heart. Truthfully, I barely now how to cook with eggplant, apart from 2-3 recipes. But those recipes? Delish.

Lately, I've been adventurous about trying new recipes, and have even tried creating a few myself (a definite first!) Luckily, one of my latest attempts in the kitchen turned out really, really good. I wish I would have made more than just one eggplant.

While I made the recipe without meat, you could easily stuff the eggplant with chicken, pork etc. (I'd probably use shredded chicken or pork, but I'm no expert!) But I've gotta say - the veggie version was just as good.

|| Photos are property of Twentyapolis. Must give credit. ||

Vegetarian Stuffed Eggplant
Serves two

Eggplant: 1 whole
Onion: 1/2 
Tomatoes: 2 whole
Grape tomatoes: 1 cup
Garlic: 1 tablespoon
Basil:  1 cup
Spinach: 1 cup
Feta cheese: 1/2 cup
Parmesan cheese: 1/2 cup
Olive oil: 3 tablespoons

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Slice eggplant in half.
2. Using a knife or spoon, gut the eggplant, leaving about 1/2 inch border. Place the removed eggplant into a separate bowl. 
3. Place eggplant halves in a glass dish and drizzle with olive oil. Cover with tinfoil and bake for 20 minutes (eggplant should be mildly tender at this point).
4. While the eggplant shells are baking, chop excess eggplant, onion, garlic, tomatoes, basil and spinach. Sauté in a pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Cook until tender.
5. When eggplant shells are tender, remove from oven. Stuff with sautéed vegetable mixture and drizzle with additional olive oil. Top with feta and parmesan cheese and bake for 15 minutes. 
6. Cook until the cheese is melted (20 minutes total if needed). Remove from oven, let cool and enjoy!


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Life: Pretty Little Weekend

You know those weekends you just want to relive over and over again? I had one of those this past weekend. Such a fun, pretty little weekend.

On Friday, my parents, sister, Cassie, and her boyfriend, Bobby, arrived in Minneapolis for the weekend. It has been nearly a year since they visited last (way too long, in my opinion). We'd been planning this mini-vacation for months, and come Friday, I could barely sit still at work all day!

The best part was that we had so many occasions to celebrate - Cassie's 21st birthday, Bobby's 22nd birthday and Mother's Day.  To celebrate, we spent lots of time together and visited some of my favorite Minneapolis haunts - Stone Arch Bridge, Mill City Farmers Market, Aloft Hotel, Loring Pasta Bar, Uptown Diner, Grumpy's and Caribou Coffee.  The weekend went by way, way too fast. Good thing I'm heading home in less than two weeks for a very long, relaxing Memorial Day weekend with them. It can't come soon enough!

Miss you already, family. You truly are the greatest a girl could ever ask for.
|| Photos are property of Twentyapolis. Do not use or distribute. ||


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Life: Presently

Making: lots of yummy foods (including a birthday cake) for when my family visits this weekend!
Watching: Girls on HBO.
Doing: my online social media course through Rutgers University 3-4 times/week.
Thinking: that my schedule over the next few months is so, so crazy. I think that summer has that effect on everyone.
Visiting: our friend Ned at work at Borough in Minneapolis. Yum, you guys. Yum.
Rocking: white Converse sneakers to welcome spring.
Spending: Time with our best friends, most recently at a Twins game!
Eating: seriously delicious veggie dishes, including that gorgeous dish at Borough.
Drinking: Saturday morning mimosas with that handsome guy.
Missing: being younger and having summer vacation. Remember those days?
Planning: my outfits the night in advance to work out in the morning. Recently, this consists of lots of spring sweaters + necklaces.
Working: a ton to get things ready to go for when we go to China - we leave in nearly three weeks!
Reading: The Kind Diet. A great read.
Wanting: a remote to pause time so I can get more sleep. It would be nice, wouldn't it?
Enjoying: that feeling you get after a great morning workout.
Writing: this blog post! I need to post more frequently, and am hoping I'm able to keep up while we're in China.
Pinning: recipes, DIY projects and pretty things.
Cooking: eggplant everything. Recipe coming your way later this week!
Pondering: ...will we ever become less busy, or does the busyness just keep increasing from here?
Listening: to Death Cab for Cutie. We just purchased tickets for Maha Music Festival in Omaha. Bring on the girls weekend and the great music!
Liking: sleeping in on the weekends, if and when I can.
Feeling: truly great for working out 4x/week before work (and loving how dorky Jack looks in my Lululemon headbands)
Knowing: that this weekend is going to be absolutely incredible with my family in town!
Noticing: that I'm a much calmer person with a clean apartment.
Going: grocery shopping on a weekly basis. Fresh food means hitting the supermarket every few days!
Debating: going to bed early? Oh I wish.
Loving: that Jack puts up with my crazy antics on a daily basis (I need not elaborate).

|| Photos are property of Twentyapolis. Do not use or distribute. ||


Thursday, May 1, 2014

Mood: May Feel

Happy May, loves. I'm so, so excited for this month.

Why? To spend some much-needed time with my family in Minneapolis, and celebrate my sister's 21st birthday and Mothers Day. To visit the farmers market a few blocks from our apartment and pick up some fresh produce and flowers. To enjoy wine on patios and catch up with good friends. To do lots of yoga, cook in my kitchen and enjoy coffee on weekend mornings. To sleep in. To wear sandals, let my hair air dry and maybe get a tint of spring sun on my pale cheeks. To travel to Wisconsin and to China, and to pet my handsome dog Boone.

May, welcome.

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What are you excited for this month?

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