Thursday, April 24, 2014

Five Things Thursday: Favorite Spring Activities

It’s that time of the week again, when I’m joining Diana and Tairalyn for the Five Things linkup and sharing five favorite activities I have or will be enjoying this spring. Want to join in? Check out my five things below, share yours and then head on over to The World Around Her or Little Miss Mama to add your link and join the fun!

1. Relaxing Neighborhood Walks

Coming off of an epic winter that felt like it would never end, I’ve especially been loving the warmer weather, blooming flowers and chirping birds letting us know that spring is finally here. In order to take advantage of the nicer weather before the dreaded summer humidity sets in, Stephen and I have been making time to go for walks around the neighborhood during the evenings and on weekends. With plenty of trails to choose from, our walks are simple, relaxing and a good way to ease back into exercising after months of winter laziness. We’ve loved seeing a lot of animals so far, too, including geese, beavers, ducks, turtles and frogs.

2. Local Wine Tasting

Trying out new wines and visiting local wineries are two of my favorite things any time of year, but especially during the spring, when the weather’s once again warm enough for a nice outdoor picnic and a chilled glass of refreshing Viognier. We’re hoping to hit up one of our faves, Fabbioli Cellars, very soon.

3. Lao New Year Festival

One fun highlight of our spring thus far was heading to last weekend’s Lao New Year Festival at a local temple. After wandering around and checking out the food options, we decided on papaya salad for me, chicken satay for Stephen, and pad Thai and Thai iced teas for us both, all of which we ate while listening to a local band perform. I was a little disappointed that no one seemed to be selling my all-time favorite dish, crispy rice salad, but we did manage to pick up a big batch of hot dried chilies to use in our cooking throughout the coming months.

4. Healthy Spring Cooking

After months of chowing down on pasta, soup and other wholesome comfort foods, it feels good to get back to making some lighter and healthier spring dishes, including sushi and stir fries. Trying new recipes has been a goal of ours recently, and next week, we’re planning to try replicating some of the meals we learned how to make during last month's Indian cooking classes.

5. Outdoor Patio Reading

Now that we’ve got our new Ikea patio set all ready to go, I’m looking forward to sitting outside during the day and in the evenings to read. I’m currently starting a new book by Paul Taylor called The Next America: Boomers, Millennials, and the Looming Generational Showdown, which I’ll be sure to review here on the blog.

Have a great Thursday and a fun weekend, everyone! What are some of your favorite things to do during the spring? 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Recipe Recap: SELF Magazine's Kung Pao Salmon

Following our success with SELF Magazine’s delicious tofu coconut curry recipe last month, Stephen and I couldn’t wait to give another one of their healthy and flavorful dishes a try. Once again, we weren’t disappointed with their kung pao salmon and sweet potato recipe, which we whipped up a couple weekends ago and are looking forward to making again sometime soon.

Check out the instructions on SELF’s website, and also feel free to make any modifications you'd like. We, for instance, decided to swap asparagus for broccoli and also serve the dish over a bed of red quinoa in order to make it a little more filling. Next time, we’ll probably kick it up another notch with more Sriracha sauce, too!

Disclaimer: As you may be aware, SELF messed up big time several weeks ago by publishing a piece that made fun of the tutu running trend, complete with a picture of a runner and cancer survivor who wasn’t made aware of the context in which her photo would be used. While I was and continue to be very disappointed with SELF’s actions, I’m glad the editor in chief owned up to the mistake, apologized, conducted an interview with the runner highlighting how inspiring and awesome she is, and decided to pull the column in question from the magazine’s future issues. 

Even though I know there are others who will no longer continue reading SELF following this debacle, I have decided to give them another chance, as this is a magazine I’ve loved reading ever since I was a teenager for its healthy living tips. I certainly hope this was a one-time serious error in judgment and that nothing like this will occur again in the future.  

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Five Things Thursday: Random Musings

Happy Thursday! Today, I’m excited to join Diana and Tairalyn for their new weekly Five Things linkup, where bloggers can share any five things currently on their minds. Want to join in? Check out my five things below, share yours and then head on over to The World Around Her or Little Miss Mama to add your link and join the fun!

1. Now that it’s finally spring, I’m trying to get outside and exercise more often, even though it’s been tough getting back into it following months of lazy, out-of-shape lounging. During last weekend’s run, I barely made it a mile before wanting to stop and walk, but I guess something is better than nothing, right?

2. Last week, I was excited to get word that I’ve been selected for a new freelance writing opportunity with a women’s lifestyle site. I’ll make an official announcement and share my first post once it goes live, but for now, I’m just grateful for the upcoming opportunity, even though I’m at the same time disappointed that a fellow writing buddy who applied with me wasn’t accepted. Have you ever had an experience like that, where you got good news but a friend didn’t? It’s definitely sapped some of the joy out of the announcement, even though I know she’s genuinely happy for me.

3. My husband and I have been trying out a lot of new recipes lately, and last weekend we whipped up a tasty new addition that will definitely be a keeper in our house this spring and summer  kung pao salmon. Would you like to try it, too? Stay tuned for a recipe recap post next week!

4. Now that my husband and I have decided to stay here in the DC area for the foreseeable future, we’re looking forward to starting our house hunt during the mid-to-late summer. So far, we’ve gone to a couple seminars, put together an initial list outlining what we do and don’t want, and have also starting scoping out potential neighborhoods we like. The thought of making such a huge purchase still feels a bit daunting at times, but as we keep getting more of a solid feel for what we’re doing, it’s starting to get a lot more exciting, too!

5. If the weather is nice this weekend, we’re hoping to head to a Lao New Year Festival where we can enjoy some tasty eats, including the utter deliciousness that is crispy rice salad. Have you ever tried it before? Here's also wishing an early happy Easter to all who will be celebrating! 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Chic ‘n Cheap Living Guest Post: Guinness Chocolate Cake Recipe

Those of you who follow me on Instagram may have recently seen my photo of the Guinness chocolate cake Stephen and I made for St. Patrick’s Day. Of course, the results were delicious, and since this is one of our go-to dessert recipes any time of year, I've decided to share it in a guest post for Chic ‘n Cheap Living

The post is running today, so feel free to stop by, check it out, and also take a look at the many other fun and inspiring pieces featured there. Happy eats! 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Favorite Spring Bath & Beauty Finds -- $15 or Less

Now that it seems as if spring is finally here to stay, I’m excited to bust out a few new and old bath and beauty favorites, including these five, which all cost less than $15.

Bath & Body Works Say Aloha to Hawaii Hand Sanitizer Set  $5

I picked up this set up over the weekend and immediately loved every one of the Hawaiian-themed scents, especially Island White Pineapple. Mini sanitizers are a must-have in my purse all year long, and this collection is just perfect for carrying me right through spring and into summer.

Bath & Body Works Maui Hibiscus Beach Pink Sand Body Scrub – $14.50

Another great Bath & Body Works find, this exfoliating scrub refreshes the skin and has the most amazing scent.

Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque – $3.99

The warmer days of spring can often mean the start of occasional breakouts on my face, but this fantastic yet inexpensive mask, available at Ulta, always helps keep them at bay.

Milani Baked Blush in Dolce Pink – $7.99

I recently decided to try out Milani’s blush, and I’m very glad I did! The quality is great, the color lasts, and the Dolce Pink shade seems just right for spring.

Revlon Eclectic Nail Polish – $4.99 at Ulta

Springtime calls for pastels, and I absolutely love the dark minty hue of Revlon’s Eclectic nail polish.

Have you tried any of these products? Which bath and beauty treats are you particularly loving this spring?