Mediterranean Inspired Salad

My lunches are usually a not so exciting blend of leftovers or eggs or chicken sausage with some salad and popcorn on the side. Last week the warmer weather helped inspire me to kick it up a notch. I threw together a delicious salad and (speedy) homemade dressing. I’ll make a batch of this dressing once or twice a week depending on how many salads I eat, store it in a tupperware container, and shake it thoroughly before each use.

Mediterranean Salad

Salad ingredients:
– 3-4 handfuls spinach
– 1/3 cup chickpeas
– 1/4 bell pepper
– few slices cucumber
– handful Kalamata olives
– 2 T. fresh Parmesan cheese
– 1/4 beefsteak tomato
– 2+ T. dressing
– Black pepper and basil to taste

Dressing:
– 1/3 cup basalmic vinegar
– 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
– 1 heaping T. Trader Joe’s Dijon Mustard (pictured below)
*This mustard is amazing but very spicy! Don’t be afraid to start with less and add according to your own tastes.

Trader Joes Mustard

Mix and match the ingredient to suit your preferences. This salad is a perfect quick lunch solution and helps use up any spare veggies you may have lying around. Enjoy!

Advertisements

April Favorites

This month is the calm before the storm. The end of May or beginning of June with bring with it the entry of our baby boy and newborn chaos will ensue. May will be a time for last minute Target runs to stock up on diapers and clothes, and a time to launder and organize everything in preparation. With all of this in mind, I have given myself some extra leeway to relax the past couple of weeks. I have watched some of the most desired films on my “to watch” list, I have read my books and magazine, enjoyed taking the dog long walks while listening to podcasts, and even taken a bubble bath or two.

Film
Iris Poster
Iris – I have been dying to see this film for ages. Iris is a documentary about an interior designer who traveled the world with her husband, creating connections, building a business with their fabric company, and cultivating an insanely unique fashion collection. She reached world wide stardom in her late 80’s when a number of her outfits, which she styled herself, were put on display. Her style mixed with her vivacious personality spunky outlook on life make this one of my favorite films. Iris reminds me of my own grandmother, only with a far more ballsy fashion sense. Fashion isn’t your thing? Watch it anyway. Even if eclectic style isn’t your thing, watch it anyway.

Podcast

stuff-you-missed-in-history-class

Stuff You Missed in History Class – This podcast has been around for years (centuries in internet time) and I am a bit late to the party on this one. As a history minor this appeals to my scholarly side while a number of the salacious tales appeal to my inner Real Housewives fan. My favorites so far? Babuska Lady, The Disappearance of Judge Joseph Force Crater, The Iroquois Theater Fire, and The Disappearance of the Sodder Childern. Plus any ship wreck related stories.

Home Item
Williams Sonoma Bowls

Classic white bowls – we have a wonderful all white plate set from Williams Sonoma, however we were without bowls. These white cereal bowls from Williams Sonoma’s everyday line are awesome and easy on the wallet.

Nursery Decor
Fun printables – I have had my eye on one piece of wall decor for nearly a year, it’s my favorite quote from my favorite children’s book of all time “I Love You Forever”:

Love You Forever

This is my favorite find from Etsy:

Where The Wild Things Are

Recipe
Tomato Basil Tortellini Soup

Tortellini Soup with Italian Sausage – While we had a brief warm spell, this weekend will be bringing a colder front. Tomorrow I will be picking up all the supplies to make a big pot of this soup. I may even make some homemade garlic bread to go with it. Yum!

Upgrade Your Loungewear

Upgrade Your Loungewear{Image Source}

When it comes to loungewear, no one does it better than Olivia Pope. Though I am at least a season behind on Scandal, her at home attire was the first of her possessions I truly envied. Plus, did that glass of wine in her hand add to the ambiance or was it just me? Either way, with my due date a month and a half away I am ready to upgrade my own lougewear and bring some wine back into my life.

Matching, or well coordinated, pajamas are something I consider a small and necessary luxury. If you are going to bed in a ratty tee and stained old sweatpants, you are giving me nightmares. I really enjoyed a lougewear related post over on The Simply Luxurious Life,  but the $200+ price tag on a number of items was rather unrealistic for me. I don’t have any appropriate warmer weather sleepwear and to drop even half that per pair would not work at this point. This lead me down the slippery slope that is Google and I found some amazing pieces to channel my own inner Olivia Pope. Bonus: here’s a Popetastic post to inspire other areas of your closet as well.

Nordstrom Picks:

(1) Betsey Johnson Lace Sleeve Pajamas (2) Honeydew Intimates Lace Trim Pajamas
(3) Splendid Jersey Shorts Pajamas (4) Splendid Knotted Tank and Pajama Shorts

Kohl’s Picks:

(1) Vera Wang Away We Go Pajama Set (2) Vera Wang Basic Luxury Pajama Set
(3) Vera Wang Sweet in Pleats

Target Picks:

(1) Gilligan & O’Malley Long Robe Paisley Print (2) Gilligan & O’Malley Fluid Knit Gown
(3) Laura Ashley Sleeveless Pajama Set (4) Gilligan & O’Malley Soft Pajama Set
(5) Laura Ashley Capri Pajama Set

Gilligan & O’Malley is possibly my favorite pajama brand. Sold at Target, the price is reasonable and often on sale. The quality is also quite good and a pair can last for a couple of years with regular use. Pick up a few of your above faves and enjoy some elevated relaxation!

Hack Your Spring Cleaning

Hack Your Spring Cleaning
Spray | Apron no longer available – see my new fave here

We admittedly want to make every aspect of our lives easier, faster, and ten times more efficient. Naturally, this also extends to the desire to create a clean home. I have always been a bit clean obsessed. I am guilty of skipping activities or rushing home to oil baseboards and organize cabinets. This has been a habit of mine for roughly the last decade, so I can’t blame my pregnancy nesting tendencies for such antisocial acts. Ironically, I don’t feel the nesting part of my pregnancy has hit its fully peak yet. At month eight, I am surprised but I’m just going with the flow of my body and energy.

One reason I’m not overly concerned? I keep a pretty tidy home at all times. Even when I was in college working forty hours a week with a full school schedule my room was organized, my fridge was stocked, and I single-handedly kept the apartment from becoming a toxic waste zone. Point is, if you keep on top of it, you won’t be sweating bullets when someone pops over or wants to come in to use the restroom when they drop you off. Yeah, maybe everything isn’t immaculate, but your home isn’t an embarrassment either. How does one achieve this state of nirvana?

  • Create a [flexible] schedule: You’re going to want to track when you do what. That way you aren’t wasting time on a task you completed two days ago, or go two weeks without doing your more frequent tasks. For me I vacuum and mop on Mondays, clean bathrooms Tuesdays, grocery shop Thursdays, and dust and swiffer the house Fridays. Every two to three days I do a load of laundry and iron the necessary items when they are dry. This gives me an idea of what needs to be done each week. Last Monday I had a doctor’s appointment and really busy weekend preceded my appointment. Knowing this I vacuumed and mopped on Friday and Tuesday instead. Maybe our pup Dahu decides to run through mud puddles and drag in pieces of the sticks she likes to eat, this means I need swiffer and probably wash her bedding. I find this helps me not feel so overwhelmed by that last minute load of laundry or the pot of hot cocoa that exploded all over the stove – the later happens to me a shockingly frequent amount.
  • Don’t half ass it: Transitioning from cleaning and apartment to cleaning a house, especially when increasingly pregnant, has been overwhelming at times. A couple of weeks ago I was doing my Monday cleanings and really wanted to skip cleaning the upstairs bedrooms.” Our nursery and guest bedroom doesn’t get a lot of foot traffic”, I told myself. Plus, how dirty could our bedroom floor get in a week? Thankfully I hauled my gear upstairs and cleaned them anyway. While I don’t feel the need to take of my shoes every time I enter my house, or require the same of my guests, I know between our shoes, large puppy paws, and the shedding coming from both the dog and us those floors get plenty dirty in a weeks time.
  • Dress in your cleaning gear: One of my favorite bloggers, Jennifer Scott over at The Daily Connoisseur, advocates simply putting an apron on over your everyday clothes whenever you clean. I don’t know how she does this and doesn’t ruin her clothes. Maybe I am unbelievably clumsy, or maybe I am paranoid about ruining the handful of things that fit me really well at this point in time, but I could never follow her advice. I put my hair up in one of those very fashionable claw clips, pull on my yoga pants, a fitted tee, and some socks I don’t mind getting dirty. I don’t like to clean in shoes because I always manage to leave dirty spots behind and cleaning barefoot just feels weird.
  • Don’t force it, embrace organization whenever the mood strikes you: There are a few big tasks left in our house. I have to sort through my office things, touch up the paint on the nursery and guest bedroom walls, and finish organizing my closet. As of last week, I also had to get the nursery closet going, but I did manage to cross that off my list. Most of us do our best work when inspired to do so. It is much more productive to dedicate five minutes of passion to a task then to stare blankly at said task while you feel overwhelmed and unmotivated. That being said, has that item been on your to do list for longer than two weeks? Time to get your caffiene fix or put on your best play list and accomplish it already.
  • Brainstorm: As a new home owner the number of things to clean and care for are more than I initially imagined. We have large furniture, a fire place, a laundry room, and a number of things I wasn’t used to maintaining previously. This required me to do a run through of things that will need regular, though not weekly, attention. I now dust the baseboards and windows once a month, check the yard for trash, clean the lower window panes twice a week (they end up covered in dog nose smudges), wipe down exterior doors, ect. I cannot begin to express how many things I have noticed because they were neglected previously. With us here creating a new start, I am determined to keep on top of these things so they don’t get back to their previous state! There are a number of things I am missing out on I am sure of it, but learning those things will come with time.
  • Treat Yo’ Self: I cannot believe how busy I have found myself since leaving work and moving out to the suburbs. This means I suffer burn out just as much as when I was working and dealing with the hustle and bustle of the city. Once a week I do something specific to relax and recharge. Maybe I rent a movie on iTunes that I have been dying to see, or reward myself with a new beauty or cleaning product I want to try. This week, I ordered The Longevity Book by Cameron Diaz for my next post cleaning spree read.

Follow these tips each week. That way when your monthly, quarterly, or biannual to dos pop up, you’re already coming from a good place. What if everything is hopelessly dirty and disasterous? Start with your schedule, don’t feel the need to do more than two tasks a day – though I wouldn’t discourage three or four, and realize you have time. No you don’t want to live in a dismal state forever, but the more you force something on yourself the more you are going to get burnt out. A clean home is like a healthy lifestyle, and it is part of a healthy lifestyle. The whole point is to make it manageable and something you are able to maintain. Hate cleaning and want to hire a service? If you can afford to do so, go for it, but be capable of doing daily maintenance yourself. No one likes a helpless homeowner who can genuinely not keep up with their surroundings. So get your rockin’ playlist, your empowering drink of choice, and your yoga pants and get to work!

This post was inspired by MakeSpace, a new type of self storage service available at various locations.