Our go-to favorite meals

weeknight meals

It’s no secret that Omar and I love to cook. We cook pretty much every night (for a multitude of reasons – it’s cheaper, it’s fun for us, and it’s way healthier).

Here’s some of our go-to meals recently. We both like meals that are somewhat simple, and are easy to make, but still taste great, so those are big requirements for us. We also only eat meat with dinner a couple of nights a week, so that’s why quite a few of these are meat-free!

Also, we take leftovers as lunch for the next day, so all of these recipes make plenty for two meals for two people!

  1. Healthy Tuscan Soup Vegetable Soup  – this is a great soup even in the summer! We make it all the time.
  2. Gnocchi with Bacon and Brussel Sprouts – you really can’t go wrong with any of the Trader Joe recipes, but this one is our favorite so far. We use regular bacon instead of turkey bacon.
  3. Easy Lemon Garlic Pasta – I recently made this for the first time, and Omar and I both loved it! It will definitely be a repeat meal.
  4. Garden Veggie Tortellini Pasta Salad – almost every time we’ve grilled this summer, we’ve made this pasta salad. It is SO good.

 

What are some of your favorite recipes?

Boone weekend

Last weekend, I got to spend the weekend in Boone, NC! This is where I went to college, and where my two oldest friends, Julie and Alura, still live (we’ve known each other for 19 years – since we were 6!). It was the perfect way to end my birthday week (my birthday was June 19).

I got there Friday afternoon and we went to dinner and hung out at their house. It was a low-key afternoon.

Saturday, we woke up and Julie made breakfast! Then we decided to venture to Elk Knob State Park. I’ve never been, but it was beautiful. We almost turned around and decided not to go because it was raining, but it ended up clearing up for the post part. It was still pretty foggy, but the temperature was perfect. It’s a 1.9 ascent to the top and is pretty steep, but the views are awesome:

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I definitely want to go again! Omar and I have a goal to visit all of the NC State Parks together, so I will definitely be back. Next time, hopefully it will be sunny.

After Elk Knob, we decided to go to Cascade Falls on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It’s a much shorter hike, but still beautiful.

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The photo above is Alura’s dog, Daisy, who we brought with us while Alura was working. I wish I would have gotten more photos of the waterfall, but it was beautiful.

We then went back to Julie and Alura’s house to get ready. We decided to go to Cobo for dinner (which, I know what you’re thinking – seafood in the mountains?! But it’s so good. My favorites are the New Yorker, The Appalachian, and Going Green.)

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After Cobo, we went to Appalachian Mountain Brewery ,which is a staple if you are visiting Boone. They had a live performance while we where there.

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And then we ended the night dancing at Portofino’s, another local place in Boone that I visited all the time in college.

Sunday, we woke up and went to Sunrise Grill,  which is one of my favorite breakfast places ever (I might be a bit biased because Alura works there, but still it’s delicious). And then I packed up and made the 3 hour drive back to Raleigh.

I LOVE going to Boone so much. It’s probably my favorite place to visit ever. It always brings back college memories. Julie, Alura, and I all used to live in Boone, then I moved, and Julie is starting an internship in another town so Alura will be the only one left.

June Wedding Updates

June has been a very busy month regarding wedding planning.

We got our engagement photos done (and, as of this weekend we got them back)! We ended up doing two sets of engagement photos, and I love them both so much! I’ll do another post with photos, as we really haven’t gotten a chance to go through and download them all.
We ordered our wedding favors (which will be koozies!) – we haven’t them in yet but here’s a copy of the proof (and here’s the place we ordered them from):

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We ordered our wedding certificate! I’m so excited about this and loved the way it turned out! (here’s the place we ordered it from). In a previous post, I mentioned that I wanted two of the wedding certificates combined, and it ended up working perfectly.

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I ordered my bridesmaids gifts! Not posting those but I’m super excited for those to come in!

We started working on the “flow” of the wedding day, and planning out the ceremony. My goal is to at least start working on our vows this month (we are writing our own), and to finalize a rough schedule for the day of.

 

may updates

May was such a busy, yet fun month!

First thing, I cut my hair! Super short (for me, at least!):

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Honestly, I love my hair cut. I never thought I would like my hair short, but I love my cut.

We celebrated Omar’s 25th birthday! We had dinner at Centro and then dessert at Lucette Grace. One of our goals as a couple is to go on one big date night a month (instead of going on small dinner outings because we don’t feel like cooking one night), and this was the perfect way to start.

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We celebrated Mother’s Day!

We spent the weekend in Fayetteville with both of our families. My sister had to work on Mother’s Day, so we spent the Saturday with my mom and Sunday with Omar’s mom. With my mom, we saw “Caroline, or Change” at the Cape Fear Regional Theatre.

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The weekend of May 20, we went camping with Omar’s family in Myrtle Beach! We had a great time, but for some reason we didn’t actually take any photos.

The weekend of Memorial Day was super busy also! Friday, we went to the Freedom Balloon Fest in Fuquay Varina.

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And Saturday, we got to see my friend from college, Stephanie, get married in Statesville! It was such a beautiful wedding, and the reception was so much fun! I got to see a bunch of my college friends, also. It was a great night.

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May was such a fun month. We are super busy in June also!

Summer 2017 Goals

Summergoals

Hi friends!

First, Happy Memorial Day! I want to take a moment to thank the fearless men and women who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our country. 

I am a planner through and through. I will plan anything and everything as early as possible, and I hate to procrastinate. Here’s a list of goals I have for this summer (some are fun, some are boring) – enjoy!

Get on a budget. Omar and I have started the process this month, in hopes we will have it completely figured out once we are married and have joint bank accounts. I’m sure I’ll talk about this more at another time, but we’ve got a lot to review! For the next two months, we will be making a discretionary budget and spending how we normally would. We’ll review our spending in early August and decide what we can cut/where we needed more money etc, etc. Then, starting in August, we will make a much more detailed plan (our goal is eventually to get to a zero dollar budget!), and start planning a method to pay off our student loans and Omar’s car early, and to buy a house.

Honestly, this process is exhausting. We’ve been talking money so much lately that sometimes I feel like my head is spinning BUT I know this will all be more than worth it.

Bridal Shower/Bachelorette Weekend. I’m so excited for both of these! My bachelorette weekend will be in Asheville in mid-August, and my bridal shower will, more than likely, be soon after that. I’m so excited to spend time with some of the most important people in my life!

Go to the beach, at least for a day. We went to the beach earlier this month, but I really hope we can make it at least once this year during the  “summer” It would be even better if we could take Sadie – she’s never been to the beach.

Saying “yes” to more things/finding free stuff to do in the area. One thing Omar wants to do is to get out more. Which I obviously agreed to. But we are also trying to save money, so we are trying to find free things to do this summer (or they can be inexpensive!). We already had a friend tell us about free movie Friday’s downtown, where they show a movie outside, so that’s definitely on the list. We also went to the Freedom Balloon Fest (which is where the picture above is from!), which was free.

Read one book a month. This is pretty self-explanatory.

Keep up with my Powersheets. It’s no mystery that I am a huge fan of Powersheets. Overall, I can keep up with them, sort of. I’m really bad about keeping up with my daily goals! So I’m hoping to work on that this summer.

Go on a picnic with Omar. When we first moved to Raleigh, my grandmother and mom gave me a picnic basket. Three years later, it still hasn’t been used, and I’m hoping to change that this year.

What are your summer goals? I’d love to hear them!

 

what’s inspiring me lately

  1. Three reasons why slow growth is better than fast:

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My favorite takeaway: “Maybe you’re feeling restless in an area of your life that’s not growing as fast as you’d like. Maybe you’re craving change–and you want it yesterday. Or maybe you want to know all the details of the path ahead before you take action on something that you’ve always wanted to do.

We don’t like imperfect starts or slow progress, do we?
We want perfect and finished right out of the gate.

Ready for some life-altering truth? All plants grow through the dirt, and so do we. The best things grow little-by-little over time.”

2. Wildfield Paper Company: I am loving these, especially the Magnolia one, since that’s what we are using as at least a portion of our wedding flowers. I’ve put it on my wishlist for my birthday.

3. This quote. It’s from Lao Tzu and has been in my head the past few weeks when I’ve spent time with family or Omar instead of doing the chores I listed for that day or week.

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4. This three-day weekend! We are going to the Freedom Balloon Fest tonight, attending a wedding tomorrow, and my maid-of-honor will be in town this weekend so we will hopefully meet up!

Happy Friday!

Wedding Update

We have our second engagement photo session on June 10! I know two is a bit excessive, but there’s a reason! When we first got engaged, one of Omar’s coworkers took our engagement photos, before we had even chosen a venue or photographer (you can see our photos here – she’s amazing!). We opted to not have her take our wedding photos because we wanted her to enjoy our wedding.

When we hired our wedding photographer, she offers a complementary engagement photo session with the package we chose. Omar and I went back and forth on taking her up on the engagement photos – because we already had some – but ultimately decided that a) it’s a great way to actually get to know our photographer before the wedding and b) we will only be engaged once, and since it’s free with our package, we might as well enjoy it! Plus, our engagement is long (18 months) so it will be nice to see photos of right after we got engaged versus three months before we get married.

We ordered our return address stamps for the invitations!

We purposefully chose one with our first names only, that way we will still be able to use it after the wedding. I’m hoping to start addressing envelopes soon, so this will definitely come in handy:

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We have (almost) decided on a guest book! 

I have been going torn on what to do for a guest book. Omar doesn’t really have a preference, so he’s left it up to me. I wasn’t sure if I wanted a traditional guest book one that we could have up. Right now I’m leaning toward a Quaker marriage certificate as an alternate. We aren’t Quaker, but  I love the idea of have everyone as a “witness” to our marriage, and I like the idea of the promise written on them that we will be able to hang in our bedroom. Here’s the two we are looking at:

This one is our favorite design, but we like the promise on this one better. Luckily, they are by the same designer on Etsy, so I’m hoping if we decide to on this, we will be able to combine the two.

We finished the couples guide from Cultivate What Matters!

Y’all – run, don’t walk, to buy this is you are in a relationship, engaged, or married. We worked through this book in two sessions (it’s kind of broken up into two sections so it worked perfectly), but this is such a great way to prepare for marriage. It’s such a great way to set goals as a couple and individually, and asks questions like “What can your partner do to help you meet these goals?” It also has discussion questions like “What worked in our relationship in the past year and what didn’t?” and it has an entire page where you can list your hopes, dreams, and prayers for your partner over the next year (and then you can read it to them!)

I’m an avid user of their PowerSheets already (it’s a great companion if you love to goal-set/use a planner), and this a great add on. Omar isn’t really necessarily a planner, but he still enjoyed it!

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It’s worth way more than $12, in my opinion.