Apr 27, 2017

One Pot Tomato Basil Pasta

Today I am sharing with you one of my all time favorite recipes! I created this recipe based on a few recipes I found online when I was prepping for my radiation treatment for my thyroid cancer. I had to be on a low-iodine diet for two weeks prior to my radiation which was so hard until I found this recipe. I couldn't eat anything with iodized salt, no dairy products (which meant no cheese and was the hardest part!) and no seafood! And I love shrimp so this was also really hard. However, the diet pretty much forced me to make all my own food with fresh ingredients and that's when this recipe was created!

8 oz mini heirloom tomatoes
1 cup fresh basil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 tbsp olive oil
8 oz spaghetti noodles
4 cups chicken (or vegetable) broth
1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

First, cut up your mini heirloom tomatoes in half or quarters and mix on a baking sheet with your minced garlic and diced onion. Drizzle with the olive oil, mix once again, and broil them for 10-15 minutes so everything starts to soften. Keep an eye on them to make sure they don't burn.

Once they're done broiling place them in a large pot that has tall sides and add in the basil, red pepper flakes, and uncooked noodles. Add in the broth and turn the heat on high until it boils. Once it's boiling reduce the heat to medium and let it simmer for about 30 minutes. You'll start to see the broth, tomatoes, and basil turn into more of a sauce. Keep cooking until you get to your desired thickness. I topped mine with Parmesan cheese and served it with this garlic monkey bread!

If you try out the recipe let me know what you think!

Apr 21, 2017

5 Ways to Celebrate Earth Day

Earth Day is an annual event that is celebrated each year on April 22nd to support environmental protection. It's a great opportunity to gather with your community and work on a project to improve the environment where you live! Take the time to get outside and make an impact and use this day to start other environmentally friendly habits! Here's five things you can do on Saturday to celebrate.

Check out your state's DNR website or visit a local nursery to find out what flowers and plants are native to where you live! It's very important to use local plants so you don't fill your garden with invasive species so make sure to do your research! Then start planting! 

Bike and walk where you can and research routes you can take that will encourage you to do the same throughout the year. Using your car less doesn't have to be limited to just Earth Day!

Try and plant some of your own vegetables or herbs that you can use throughout the summer months! This is a great time to start seeds in your house that can eventually be transplanted outside. It's so nice being able to cook with fresh foods and will help you incorporate more vegetables into your diet. If you don't have an area for a garden find a local community garden where you can rent a plot of land.

A lot of cities host earth day events that you can volunteer at! They might include planting trees or cleaning up a local park and are a great way to be involved in improving your own community! If you enjoyed that maybe consider doing an adopt-a-highway or an adopt-a-park throughout the year to help clean up not just on Earth Day.

Did you know only 1 out 5 plastic bottles is recycled? And that 100 million plastic bottles are used worldwide everyday? That is so much waste! There are so many great alternatives like a reusable water bottle or a water filter for your faucet. Use this day as the day you choose to stop using plastic bottles.

What are you going to do on Saturday the celebrate Earth Day?

Apr 16, 2017

Currently... April 2017

It has been quite some time since I've last posted on here! But the past month and a half has been so hectic! My best friend got married in early April so I've been busy helping with all of those festivities and in early March my boyfriend bought a house! We have been renovating and refreshing it before we move in and we've spent almost every weekend and most week nights there. It has been way more work than we expected but it's really starting to come together and it's going to look great when we can move in. I am so excited! So, those are just two of the reasons I've been so busy lately but I'm hoping once we're moved in then I'll get on a more regular posting schedule. For now, this is what I've currently been up to!

This has been a city that Kirk and I have been wanting to visit together since we first started dating so it's so exciting that we are finally going! I have been researching all the best restaurants to eat at, places to visit, and outdoor areas to explore! One of my best friends lives in Seattle so she and her husband will be coming down for a couple days when we're there to visit! Our next big vacation after this one will be Portland, Maine!

This book has been a bit of a struggle to get into. The last book I read, Behind Closed Doors, was so good and more of a thriller that it's making it really hard to get into this more slow-paced zero thrill book. If I can't get into it soon I'll have to put it on the shelf and try it out another time. What are some of your favorite thriller books? I'm always looking for a new suggestions!

When Ed Sheeran released his two singles Shape of You and Castle on the Hill I knew that Divide was going to be one of his best albums yet! Sure enough, it's amazing and I can't stop listening to it. Check out my Spring 2017 Spotify playlist to see what else I've been listening to lately!

I am obsessed with this show right now! Netflix only has the first season right now but you should still start watching it! It's kind of like Pretty Little Liars meets the FBI so it always has you guessing what's going to happen next.

Now that the sun is shining all I've been thinking about is fruity, fresh summer drinks! Especially raspberry mojitos which I'll be sharing a recipe for soon!

I received this sweater from my parents for Christmas and I have been loving it! It's perfect for a mellow day at the office or for a day trip to Taylors Falls for a hike. 

Keep an eye out for this recipe soon! I discovered this extremely easy and savory dish back in November and I've made it about 10 times since. It's amazing how few ingredients can create such a flavorful meal!

We've been getting really lucky here in Minnesota lately. As I'm writing this it is 60 degrees and sunny. This weather is giving me spring fever and I can't wait for it to continue! I recieved some flower seed packets for Christmas and I can't wait until it's warm enough for me to plant them!

Mar 5, 2017

3 Places To Start Your Spring Cleaning

Happy March! With the new season upon us it's the perfect time to start some spring cleaning! It can feel daunting at first knowing you have so many areas you could go through so I've put together three places that will make a great start!

Starting your spring cleaning in your closet can seem really intimidating at first. But, if you break it down into sections it starts to be a lot easier to tackle. You have your clothing, your shoes, accessories, and outerwear that can all be sorted through separately. Each day you have time to work on your spring cleaning, just choose a category and get going! You'll see that once you start throwing away stuff in one category it makes it a lot easier to do it in another. This also gives you the opportunity to see what you want to be shopping for the next time you're out.

If you're anything like me you have a packed bookshelf with another stack building up on the floor next to it, a.k.a. an unnecessary amount of books. Take the time to go through them and keep the books you still need to read and for the finished books decided if it was good enough to keep in your collection or if it should be headed to Half Priced Books for some extra cash.

It's time to start getting rid of your old and expired make-up products! Go through your collection and get rid of things that are too old, like that mascara that's probably been with you for over a year, or things you just don't wear anymore. It will feel great to not have to dig through products that you know you haven't worn in ages when you're getting ready every day.

Where are the places you need to start your spring cleaning?

Feb 19, 2017

Highland Neighborhood

I've recently discovered the adorable Highland Neighborhood and it's now my favorite spot for a weekend brunch or a Friday lunch date with my best friend. If you're in the area here's where you should go!

Quixotic Coffee769 Cleveland Ave S, St Paul, MN 55116
This coffee shop offers the most delicious cold brew coffee drinks I've ever tasted. They have one called DeNiro which is nitro cold brew, chocolate milk, almond simple syrup, shaken and stirred over ice. Their other one is White Lightening which is nitro cold brew, half & half, homemade vanilla simple syrup, served neat in a 13-oz tulip glass. If you ever stop in you have to try one out! 

The Highland Grill771 Cleveland Ave S, St Paul, MN 55116
This restaurant is perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner! They have a wide variety of food on their menu and offer wine, beer, and hand crafted cocktails. The food is all made from scratch and uses local ingredients. On my last visit I had the carnitas sandwich which was packed with flavor!

Also, if you download the app Blue Plate, the company of their family restaurants, you can earn discounts whenever you visit! I earned $10 off my next purchase just by downloading the app!

Patina2057 Ford Pkwy, St Paul, MN 55116
This is one of my all time favorite stores! They have multiple locations throughout the Twin Cities so even if you're not by this one you should still find one close to you to visit. If you're ever in need of a gift for someone or some home decor this is the place to go. Their product is always changing with the seasons and you're guaranteed to find something you love.

There's also a half price books, starbucks, hair salons, frozen yogurt shop, and even more in this little area of the Highland Neighborhood. Make sure you check it out the next time your deciding where to go for brunch!

Have you ever been to this area of the Highland Neighborhood? What is one of your favorite local brunch spots?

Jan 21, 2017

10 Ways to Save for a Future Vacation

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If you're anything like me you've set a goal for this year to travel more! But the first step to making that happen is saving up the money to pay for your next vacation. It can seem daunting at first but if you make a few changes in your life you can easily save up money to put towards your vacation fund!

01) Go through your closet - This is a great way to declutter and earn some cash! Go through your clothes and if you find something you haven't worn for a few months then bring it to a store that buys and sells clothes! You'd be surprised how much money you can make on something you forgot you had!

02) Make dinner at home - This is one of the best money savers. Going out to eat can be really expensive especially if you add on the cost of drinks! Check out Pinterest to find a fun recipe to try out and test your skills in the kitchen.

03) Pack your own lunch - Another big saver! Remember that meal you just made for dinner? Pack up your leftovers for work or school the next day instead of spending $8 on a sandwich that isn't even that great. This is also a great way to eat healthier throughout the week!

04) Use cash and collect your change - This is one of my favorite ways to save money! First, only spending cash makes you more aware of how much money you have left to spend (as opposed to the blindness of swiping your debit or credit card). Second, any time you get change throw it into your vacation fund! I saved up $180 in one year with this method! It's such a small amount each day that you don't notice but it's very rewarding once you bring it to the bank to cash in! I now use this savings shadow box that can be customized to show off what you're saving for!

05) Write a list before shopping and stick to it! - This is something I need to do better myself. Try and avoid those pesky dollar sections at the Target entrance and question yourself every time you throw something in your cart that's not on your list. Do you really need it? Or is it a splurge that you'll forget about in a week?

06) Have movie night at home - I am a big believer in skipping the theater and watching a movie at home instead. RedBox movies are so cheap and you already have snacks at home! Plus, it's a lot better to be cozy on your couch with a fluffy blanket instead of a movie theater seat.

07) Go to the library - Books can be really expensive but you can skip that cost by checking our your local library! They're free, they have a wide selection of books, magazines, and movies, and as long as you don't go over your due date you won't have to pay any fees!

08) Forgo that monthly subscription box - There are so many subscription boxes out there these days that people are bound to be subscribed to one of them. If you are one of those people, try and skip a few months and put that money into your vacation savings!

09) Skip your Starbucks trip - Even this tip is hard for me to follow but you can save a lot of money by skipping your daily Starbucks trip! Now, whenever I fight the urge to go get a caramel latte I make sure to throw $5 into my vacation fund as a reward! But don't get me wrong, I do treat myself every once in awhile. 

10) Check out free events - Entertainment doesn't have to be expensive! Try to find fun and FREE events in your town to save some money on the weekends!