Mint Julep for Derby Week

mint julep

For someone who doesn’t ride horses or follow horse races, Derby Day is more significant to me than you might think.

Why, you ask?

  • My mom grew up in a small town in Kentucky, where horse riding was a popular hobby.
  • I grew up in Hot Springs, AR, the home of the Oaklawn Racing track.
  • I got married on Derby Day in Arkansas in 2012.

I’ve also done some volunteering activities with kids and horses, and I’m fascinated by these beautiful creatures!

mint julep

Additionally, there is such a great food, drink and hat culture around the Derby.

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How to Spring Clean Your Life


Spring cleaning!

What does the phrase make you feel? Excited. Anxious. In a state of avoidance?

However the idea of spring cleaning makes you feel, it can actually be a really wonderful thing. I love the idea of taking time to clean, organize and restore order. I firmly believe that if you can put in some effort on the front end, you’ll be much happier and organized on the whole. And now that we’re a quarter into 2017, it’s a good a time as ever!

We just spent a few hours this weekend spring cleaning our house and garage, but today I’m going to share a few ideas for how to spring clean your life over the next few weeks.

Here’s how I suggest starting your life spring clean:

1. Get your finances in order

Take this time of year to make or try to meet some of your financial goals. Have you started a monthly budget yet? Are you hoping to go on a big trip this year? All you have to do is start tracking your money and find easy ways to save (and smarter ways to spend).

I suggest listening to the HerMoney podcast to get new ideas for saving and investing (like putting enough to match your employer’s contribution to your 401K and throwing the rest in a Roth IRA).

2. Make some to-dos and start checking them off

I love a good to-do list. But who doesn’t?! It’s so satisfying making a list (whether it’s what to clean, what to organize, projects to start or new ideas) and then checking off a task. Even if it’s a to-do list for making breakfast or writing thank you notes, it’s still a task completed!

I suggest using this amazing, well-designed online and mobile Teuxdeux list.

3. Implement some Earth-friendly tactics

With having just celebrated Earth Day, it’s a great time to reconsider what type of footprint you’re leaving. Are there ways that you could be more energy efficient in your everyday life? I’m personally trying to use fewer plastic baggies and waste less energy at home.

I suggest looking into using reusable sandwich baggies or seeing if your energy company offers any savings programs like Duke Energy’s Energywise Home (we just signed up!)

4. Clean up your inbox

I don’t know about you, but when I have a cluttered inbox, it makes me feel stressed and like I can’t get on top of things. Again, this is a perfect time of year to go through and organize your emails into folders and get rid of those you don’t need anymore, as well unsubscribe from those you don’t read regularly. Then, you can keep things organized as emails come in.

I suggest using one of these handy email subscription clean-up services to get a head start on keeping your inbox clean.

Good luck on your spring cleaning!

Raspberry Almond Bars

real simple raspberry almond bars

You just know when you’ve found a perfect dessert.

It has a nice mix of textures.

It tastes like something new yet somewhat familiar at the same time.

And for me, it’s often cheap and easy to make. (Bonus points if you made it yourself!)

raspberry almond bars

These Raspberry Almond Bars from Real Simple meet all of those categories, while still having some class and refinement to share. These are not your average bars, but packed with crunchy almonds and sweet raspberry jam on a shortbread-like crust. And most of the recipe is done in the food processor!

raspberry almond bars

These bars make me long for a tea party with friends or a family picnic.

However you decide to enjoy them, I guarantee that they will be a memorable sweet treat.

*Click or tap on recipe card to enlarge and save.

Think Fruitful Travels: Asheville, NC

image (55)

I’ve been to Asheville a few times and love love love the small-town hippy feel of the cute, buzzing city surrounded by gorgeous mountains.

Here are some of our favorite Asheville Finds (which I’ve updated over the past few years):

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Easter Poems

easter cross

Happy Easter, all! Here are a few poems that I’ve written in the past few years inspired by the Easter season.

Sunrise Service

There seems to be an internal timer
inside of me signaling Easter morning
It must have been all those sunrise services,
my stomach confused why sticky sweet
hot cross buns were allowed so early
My mind caught in the mysterious
wonder of the joy-filled sunrise
Glistening darkness turned to slices of colorful light
and we would clap and sing to welcome it
Our hope
that the sun would show its rays
that our hope would be ever-present
that we would all feel a rising within
So much depended on the sunrise
And so much of me still does


Easter Smell

I imagine the risen Christ smelled like incense
not the hoppy, weed-leftovers type
But the herbal sage and thyme type
that stops and calms you
whisks your thoughts away
to Middle Eastern cups of tea with friends
roast chicken and root veg shared with family
a new herb garden hoping to survive
It’s of the Earth, it’s new while also ancient
A familiar smell that you can’t quite remember
That’s what I imagine the risen Christ smelled like

Spring Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich

cookie ice cream sandwich with popcorn

This is not a sponsored post, but I do love popcorn.

Spring has sprung… and I basically can’t stop making new desserts.

With all of the fresh fruit and citrus coming in season (and butter and flour always in my fridge and pantry),  I’ve been in full-fledged baking mode.

But, there are also times when you want to celebrate all that’s wonderful about spring (being outside, celebrating with friends, taking it easy) without working too hard to create a tasty treat.

cookie ice cream sandwich with popcorn

This “recipe” or food idea of sorts is perfect for those times.

I was inspired by SkinnyPop popcorn to share a spring, popcorn-inspired recipe.  I couldn’t help but imagine my popcorn in a  halo around a cookie sandwiched with vanilla ice cream.

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Meyer Lemon Tart

meyer lemon tart

I don’t know if you remember or were reading the blog then, but I really got excited about Meyer lemons about this time last year.

These special citrus fruits are like a mix of lemon with clementine or orange. They are not as tart, and the flavor is sweet and complex. I’ve even just used these guys sliced up in water for a refreshing treat.

But, this year, I was on a mission to make a Meyer Lemon Tart after picking up a bag of these lovelies from Trader Joe’s.

meyer lemon tart

This was probably also influenced by our recent watching of The Great British Baking Show season 2 on Netflix. We hadn’t seen that season yet, so we had to catch up. I do so love the sweet competition and British sentiments of the show. It’s quite relaxing to watch people bake masterpieces (unless, of course, they go wrong).

Here’s the deal with lemon tarts:

  • They are one of my favorite desserts on planet Earth.
  • If you can nail the crust and the curd, then you’re good to go!
  • They are a multi-step process and a bit of a labor of love.
  • Kerrygold butter will majorly step up your tart game. (I just discovered this!)

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Spring/Easter Muffins

coconut muffins

Spring is here, and we’ve definitely been experiencing the April showers here in North Carolina.

But, we’ve also had some gorgeous 70-degree days which I’m holding on to and enjoying as much as possible (even if that means I have to inhale pollen).

I really do love the month of April.

It’s always been special to me. I always thought April would be the perfect month to get married in Arkansas- not too hot, not too cold. And I was lucky enough to get to do just that smack dab in the middle of the month almost 5 years ago!

There’s something about the bright, green, fresh changes of April that make you feel like a bear coming out of hibernation and that anything is possible. I find myself making food resolutions upon food resolutions (including baking more fruit pies), but also wanting to get out and exercise more. Those two should go hand-in-hand after all.

Ah, I just love April.

This April, we get to celebrate Easter, which means that we are reminded of where our hope lies…and we also get to typically enjoy a special meal with others.

coconut muffins

With Easter, I love the hot cross buns, coconut cakes, quiches, spring veggies, chocolate peanut butter eggs. I could go on and on, but I’ll just suffice it to say that these Coconut Muffins I’m sharing with you today are the perfect Easter companion.

You can make them in 1 bowl, they’re not too healthy or too unhealthy, and they kind of taste like a coconut macaroon in muffin form.

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2017 Garden Plan

garden plan 2017

It’s getting warmer finally, which means that it’s time to start planting!

I really like remembering that April 1 means I can put my seedlings out to start soaking in the sun and growing strong. Last year, we built a small raised bed near the house for all of my plants: tomatoes, onions, carrots, peppers and herbs. Things went well, but I wanted to focus more on tomatoes and peppers this time and experiment with a bigger piece of land.

Luckily, we’ve got plenty of room to experiment on in our backyard, so my husband graciously dug up and tilled our new vegetable garden plot a month or so ago.

garden plan 2017

It’s a 12’x12′ spot with lots of loamy, sandy dirt. They say that our house used to be on farmland, so we’re hoping that this lends to really healthy plants!

garden plan 2017

We’re converting our old raised bed into a full-on herb garden with:

  • Basil
  • Thyme (from last year)
  • Lavender (hanging on from last year)
  • Dill
  • Cilantro (from seed)
  • Chives
  • Sage (maybe in the future)

I really love giving these beautiful herbs plenty of space to grow. There’s nothing like grabbing fresh herbs to cook with!

garden plan 2017

For the veg garden, I’ve got the following growing from seed:

  • Several varieties of heirloom tomatoes (Cherokee purple, an orange one and some smaller cherries)
  • Super tasty variety of tomatoes from my uncle in KY
  • Sweet peppers
  • Jalapeno pepper
  • Eggplant

Here are some good tips on how to grow from seed.

What are you growing this year?

Simple Saturday: Baked Egg Hash

baked egg hash

Like I’ve been saying, there’s a lot you can do with eggs…and baked eggs!

If you’re looking for a way to use up the last of your winter potato stash, then I’ve got just the thing.

This Baked Egg Hash recipe is simple and satisfying, and it only takes like 30 minutes to make.

You can do it with sweet potatoes, white potatoes, peppers, carrots- basically whatever you have laying around in the fridge or pantry. You just sauté those a bit with some onion and garlic, then crack a few eggs inside and finish off in the oven. We often do a nice hit of hot sauce as a finisher.

baked egg hash

Here’s how you make it:

  1. Chop a large potato and 1/2 onion into a dice or cubes. Mince a clove of garlic.
  2. Heat a cast iron skillet on medium-high heat and add a few tbs. of oil.
  3. Cook the potato, onion and garlic, stirring occasionally until browned on outside. (You can add in peppers or spinach at this time, if using). Then, make a few wells for the eggs.
  4. Crack the eggs into the prepared wells and put in a 400 degree oven for 5+ minutes until eggs look cooked through.
  5. Top with any herbs you like and hot sauce and enjoy!