Rainstorms and Love Notes https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com a blog about life, love, food, travel and football Tue, 21 Mar 2017 21:16:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 White Chocolate Marshmallow Popcorn https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/2016/03/white-chocolate-marshmallow-popcorn.html https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/2016/03/white-chocolate-marshmallow-popcorn.html#comments Mon, 21 Mar 2016 04:00:06 +0000 https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/?p=5496 I can’t believe the first quarter of 2016 is nearly over! I’m convinced time goes a little bit faster every single year. It’s also time for another Secret Recipe Club reveal day! This month, I was assigned Casa Costello, written by Helen, who is living with her family in the UK! Helen’s blog is full Continue Reading

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I can’t believe the first quarter of 2016 is nearly over! I’m convinced time goes a little bit faster every single year. It’s also time for another Secret Recipe Club reveal day! This month, I was assigned Casa Costello, written by Helen, who is living with her family in the UK! Helen’s blog is full of so many yummy baked goods that had me absolutely drooling. I can’t wait to make her White Chocolate and Raspberry Swiss Roll, Ginger Oat Chewy Creams, and Homemade Naan Bread.

For this month’s post, I decided to go with her Celebration Popcorn! TJ and I have been binge-watching Lost (I know, we’re about 10 years behind, but no spoilers, please!) since the beginning of February, and we’ve been so caught up in the storyline that it’s taking nearly all of our free time. And well, what goes better with binge-watching than delicious popcorn, right? This recipe has some of my favorite ingredients: popcorn, white chocolate, and marshmallows, so I knew it would be a hit.

If you do nothing else this week, may I suggest planting yourself on a cozy couch in front of a great TV show with a bowl of this delicious popcorn? You won’t be sorry!

Printable Recipe
Makes a lot of popcorn

ingredients:
1 tbsp oil
2/3 cup unpopped popcorn kernels
2 oz white chocolate
1/2 cup mini marshmallows
salt, to taste

instructions:
Place oil in a large pot and turn heat up to high. Place one popcorn kernel in the pot and cover with a lid. Once the kernel pops, pour in the rest of the kernels, cooking over high heat until the popping slows to a stop.
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Melt the white chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl in 30 second increments, stirring after each round, until smooth. Use a rubber spatula to stir the melted chocolate into the popcorn.
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Melt the marshmallows in a microwave-safe bowl for 15-20 seconds, until puffy and starting to melt. Quickly stir the marshmallows into the popcorn until mixed thoroughly. Lightly salt, if desired. Serve and enjoy!
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Adapted from Casa Costello

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Candy https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/2016/02/chocolate-peanut-butter-candy.html https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/2016/02/chocolate-peanut-butter-candy.html#comments Mon, 15 Feb 2016 05:00:20 +0000 https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/?p=5482 Happy belated Valentine’s Day and happy Secret Recipe Club day! This month, I was assigned Simple and Savory, a blog about simple, delicious, and healthy recipes, written by Anne. Her blog has a whole stash of healthy recipe ideas, which made it hard to choose what to make! I had my eye on her Black Continue Reading

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Happy belated Valentine’s Day and happy Secret Recipe Club day! This month, I was assigned Simple and Savory, a blog about simple, delicious, and healthy recipes, written by Anne. Her blog has a whole stash of healthy recipe ideas, which made it hard to choose what to make! I had my eye on her Black Bean Hummus, Jalapeno and Cheddar Cauliflower Bites, and Black Bean Soup in a Slow Cooker, but I just couldn’t resist making her Chocolate Peanut Butter Slice.

In fact, instead of buying a box of chocolates for Valentine’s Day this year, TJ and I snacked on this delicious (and healthier) chocolate instead. So, if you’re thinking of going out to buy discounted Valentine’s Day chocolates this week, try making your own chocolate instead!

Printable Recipe
Makes 16 chocolate squares

ingredients:
6 tbsp peanut butter
3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp cocoa powder
handful of peanuts, if desired

instructions:
Stir together all ingredients except the peanuts in a bowl.
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Pour the mixture in a pan lined with parchment paper.
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Sprinkle peanuts on top of chocolate.
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Refrigerate for at least an hour.
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Cut into squares.
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Store in the refrigerator and enjoy!
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Adapted from Simple and Savory

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Broccamole https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/2016/01/broccamole.html https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/2016/01/broccamole.html#comments Mon, 18 Jan 2016 05:00:01 +0000 https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/?p=5467 Happy Secret Recipe Club day!! This month, I was assigned Angels Home Sweet Homestead, which is written by April, who lives in Indiana with her husband. Her 5 kids are now grown, but I think it’s awesome that she mentions that they still come by for Sunday dinners to enjoy her cooking. How sweet! From Continue Reading

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Happy Secret Recipe Club day!! This month, I was assigned Angels Home Sweet Homestead, which is written by April, who lives in Indiana with her husband. Her 5 kids are now grown, but I think it’s awesome that she mentions that they still come by for Sunday dinners to enjoy her cooking. How sweet!

From the day I got my assignment, I knew exactly what I was going to make from her blog. The second I saw a recipe for broccamole (aka guacamole made with broccoli instead of avocados), I was totally intrigued, and I couldn’t wait to try it. Of course, April has all kinds of delicious looking recipes on her blog, and I’ve added her Crockpot French Dip Sandwiches, Ultimate Garlic Breadsticks and Garlic Bread Seasoning, and Joe’s Peanut Butter Pie to my “must make in the near future list.”

But, back to the broccamole! I loved the idea of cutting back on some of the calories and fat by substituting broccoli for avocado. The consistency of this dip is very similar to regular guacamole, and it has all of the delicious lime and cilantro flavor that you’ve come to expect from your favorite green dip. We served this at a recent game night with some friends with lime tortilla chips, and it was a hit. And bonus, this makes a great football snack food, so you might want to keep this in mind as a healthier Super Bowl party option!

Printable Recipe
Serves 8-10

ingredients:
1 16oz bag frozen broccoli
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
1/4 cup onion, cut in large chunks
1/4 cup lime juice
1/2 tsp salt
3-4 tbsp olive oil
tortilla chips for serving

instructions:
Cook the broccoli in the microwave, according to package directions. Add the broccoli, garlic, cilantro, onion, lime juice, and salt to a food processor.
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Pulse about 10 times to break everything up, and then blend for 30 seconds. While blending, slowly add in 3 tbsp of olive oil and continue blending until the consistency is smooth. If the mixture still seems dry, add up to another 1 tbsp of olive oil.
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Move the broccamole to a bowl, and refrigerate until mixture is cool. Serve with tortilla chips and enjoy!
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Adapted from Angels Home Sweet Homestead

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Catching Up https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/2015/12/catching-up.html https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/2015/12/catching-up.html#comments Mon, 28 Dec 2015 12:00:16 +0000 https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/?p=5456 I haven’t written a blog post in a month and a half, and while I’ve been enjoying the carefree life of not blogging, I’ve been wanting to do a catch up post for a bit, and I think the end of the year is the perfect time for it. Before I get into what’s been Continue Reading

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I haven’t written a blog post in a month and a half, and while I’ve been enjoying the carefree life of not blogging, I’ve been wanting to do a catch up post for a bit, and I think the end of the year is the perfect time for it.

Before I get into what’s been happening in the last few months though, let’s talk about the future for a minute. I’m getting to the point where I think I’m ready to start blogging pretty regularly again in the near future. I’m working on a new look (and possibly/probably a new name!), as well as a new focus on content. I think the overall feel of the blog with be mostly the same as it has been, but a little more “me”, which I’m excited about. Stay tuned over the next few weeks for some exciting announcements!

Ok, let’s get caught up on the last few months.

Catching Up21. TJ and I have been doing some updates to the house. We’ve replaced all the light switches and outlets so they are new and bright white, we’ve added new curtains to the dining room, we’ve replaced several light fixtures, and the most exciting thing we’ve added is this new sliding barn door for our downstairs half bathroom. I LOVE how our house is coming along.
2. & 3. The cats have continued to be adorable (no surprise there).

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4. I turned 28 and celebrated with homemade (by my mom) vanilla cupcakes.
5. I continue to love hand lettering, and was so excited to be contacted by a family friend to make some wooden signs for Christmas presents.
6. TJ turned 30 and celebrated with homemade (by my mom, again) chocolate chip cookie cake.

Catching Up17. TJ and I took a trip to an awesome resort in West Virginia for a weekend getaway that was SO much fun.
8. I had a blast lettering the envelopes for our Christmas cards.
9. I’ve been enjoying watching Steelers football every week (except for yesterday – I’m still mad about the game and I don’t want to talk about it).

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10. We enjoyed some fun, cold weather activities before the weather got unseasonably warm.
11. We had a beautiful Christmas with my parents.
12. TJ wins the best husband ever award for surprising me with this amazing picture of Heinz Field for my office.

That pretty much sums up the last few months! Not pictured? Lots of binge-watching and trying to fit in as many walks as possible when the weather is nice.

What have you been up to lately? Fill me in!

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Lemon Butter Cookies https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/2015/11/lemon-butter-cookies.html https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/2015/11/lemon-butter-cookies.html#comments Mon, 16 Nov 2015 05:00:00 +0000 https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/?p=5441 I can’t believe it’s already time for the next Secret Recipe Club day! And also, how are we just a little over a week away from Thanksgiving?! Time is crazy. This month, I was assigned Join Us, Pull up a Chair, which is an awesome food blog written by Heather. She has a huge (and impressive) Continue Reading

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I can’t believe it’s already time for the next Secret Recipe Club day! And also, how are we just a little over a week away from Thanksgiving?! Time is crazy. This month, I was assigned Join Us, Pull up a Chair, which is an awesome food blog written by Heather. She has a huge (and impressive) recipe index, and there are so many yummy recipes that I want to try from her blog. The top 3 recipes that are on my list? Baked Turkey Meatballs and Spinach, Garlic Feta Dip, and Slow Cooker Italian Chicken Soup.

When it came time to choose what I should make this month, I almost went with one of her delicious looking pumpkin recipes (it is November, after all!), but I went with these Lemon Butter Cookies instead. You see, my husband, TJ, is turning 30 (!!) on the 27th of this month, and he LOVES anything and everything lemon. So, I thought it’d be nice to make him an early birthday treat.

These cookies are delicious – lemony, nice and chewy, and just an all-around tasty, simple cookie. Oh, and they are 100% TJ approved.

Printable Recipe
Makes about 18 large cookies

ingredients:
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 egg
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp lemon zest

instructions:
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter and powdered sugar. Add in the egg and lemon juice and beat until fluffy. Slowly beat in the flour, baking soda, baking powder and lemon zest until well combined.
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Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and use a large scoop to form the dough into balls.
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Bake at 350 for 12-14 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies are just starting to brown.
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Allow to cool on a wire rack and enjoy!
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Adapted from Join Us, Pull up a Chair

An InLinkz Link-up

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Homemade Butterfingers https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/2015/10/homemade-butterfingers.html https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/2015/10/homemade-butterfingers.html#comments Mon, 19 Oct 2015 04:00:00 +0000 https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/?p=5426 Today’s Secret Recipe Club reveal marks my one year anniversary of being in the club! As they say, time flies when you’re having fun, right? This month, I was assigned Debbi Does Dinner… Healthy and Low Calorie written by Debbi, aka Group C’s fearless leader! As always, I had a hard time deciding what to make, Continue Reading

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Today’s Secret Recipe Club reveal marks my one year anniversary of being in the club! As they say, time flies when you’re having fun, right? This month, I was assigned Debbi Does Dinner… Healthy and Low Calorie written by Debbi, aka Group C’s fearless leader! As always, I had a hard time deciding what to make, because there are so many yummy choices in her recipe index: her Cheese Ravioli with Onion Butter Sauce, Caramel Sticky Buns, and Honey Lime Enchiladas are all now on my “to make” list.

But, when I saw that she had a recipe for homemade Butterfingers on her blog, and they require candy corn, I knew I just had to make them. I mean, what perfect timing right? So yeah, these homemade Butterfingers are delicious! They don’t have the crunch that a store-bought Butterfinger has, but the taste is totally on point. Plus, they’re very easy. As in, almost easier than going to the store to buy one. I say, skip the trip down the candy aisle for discounted Halloween candy in a few weeks and just make these instead.

Printable Recipe
Makes about 25 squares

ingredients:
1 lb candy corn
1 lb peanut butter
1/2 lb chocolate candy coating

instructions:
Pour candy corn in a large bowl and microwave for one minute. Stir and continue melting in 15 second intervals, stirring each time.
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Stir in the peanut butter. Work quickly, as the candy corn starts to harden pretty fast.
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Line an 8×8 pan with parchment paper and pour the mixture into the pan.
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Let cool completely. Lift out of the pan and leave on the parchment paper. Melt chocolate candy coating in a microwave safe bowl according to package instructions. Spread the chocolate over the top and sides of the candy corn mixture.
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Allow the chocolate to harden, then cut into squares.
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Enjoy!
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Adapted from Debbi Does Dinner… Healthy and Low Calorie

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A Tribute to Owen https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/2015/09/a-tribute-to-owen.html https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/2015/09/a-tribute-to-owen.html#comments Wed, 23 Sep 2015 11:00:00 +0000 https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/?p=5362 On Wednesday, September 9th, we lost our favorite orange and white buddy, Owen. He had been having some intestinal issues for a few months, but was on medication for IBD (basically like IBS, but in cats), and was doing really well. We were feeling great, and like we had his issues under control. He was Continue Reading

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On Wednesday, September 9th, we lost our favorite orange and white buddy, Owen. He had been having some intestinal issues for a few months, but was on medication for IBD (basically like IBS, but in cats), and was doing really well. We were feeling great, and like we had his issues under control. He was purring constantly, still playful, and acting cuddly and like himself.

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Then, on the night of the 8th, seemingly out of nowhere, he started acting funky, and we rushed him to the emergency vet, where he stayed overnight. After a night of nearly no sleep, the next morning we took him to our regular vet for an ultrasound. They found that he didn’t have IBD after all, it was a gastrointestinal tumor, and it had spread too far to be removed.

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We were (and still are) heartbroken, and felt kind of blindsided. There was absolutely no way I thought we’d have to put him to sleep that day. He was acting totally fine no more than 12 hours before. We knew though, that even though it was heartbreaking for us, that it was the right choice for him, because we could never knowingly leave him in pain.

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The past two weeks have been extremely hard, and grieving for a pet is awful. We’re trying to remember all of the wonderful times we had with him, and taking some solace in knowing that we gave him a good life, and that he was one of the happiest cats who ever lived.

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He brought so much joy to our lives, and our family feels a little less whole without him.

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More about Owen:
The story of how he (and Taby) became part of our family
How he’d act on Instagram (if Cat Instagram was a thing)

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TJ’s blog post about Owen

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We miss you so much, buddy!

 

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Baked “Fried” Pickles https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/2015/09/baked-fried-pickles.html https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/2015/09/baked-fried-pickles.html#comments Mon, 21 Sep 2015 04:00:00 +0000 https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/?p=5349 Happy Secret Recipe Club day! I seriously love being part of SRC and get so excited about reveal days. If you’re a food blogger and you’re not part of SRC, you should really think about joining! So, this month, I was assigned Melissa’s Cuisine, written by Melissa, who lives in Michigan with her husband, daughter, Continue Reading

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Happy Secret Recipe Club day! I seriously love being part of SRC and get so excited about reveal days. If you’re a food blogger and you’re not part of SRC, you should really think about joining! So, this month, I was assigned Melissa’s Cuisine, written by Melissa, who lives in Michigan with her husband, daughter, and puppy. As always, there were about 30 recipes I wanted to make right away, including but not limited to her Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip, Peanut Butter Cup Bars, and Crock Pot Cheeseburger Soup. But, the second I saw Baked “Fried” Pickles, I knew that was what I’d be making.

You know that phrase, “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach,” right? Well, the way to my man’s heart is through dill pickles. TJ LOVES pickles, and would probably live on only them and macaroni and cheese if we weren’t together. We’ve ordered fried pickles out at restaurants before, but of course, the homemade version is so much tastier. And healthier! These are a perfect football snack, and I think we’ll be making them several times throughout the season, hopefully as we’re watching the Steelers win many more games.

Printable Recipe
Makes about 25 pickles

ingredients:
1 egg, lightly beaten
3-4 tbsp flour
1 tsp worcestshire sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dill
1/2-1 cup breadcrumbs
25 dill pickles slices
ranch dressing, for dipping

instructions:
In a small bowl, stir the flour into the egg until it forms a paste-like consistency. Add in the worcestshire sauce, salt, and dill. Pour the breadcrumbs in a second bowl.
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Dry the pickles on a paper towel before you dip them, so the batter doesn’t slide off. Then dip each pickle in the egg mixture followed by the breadcrumbs.
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Line a baking pan with foil, then place a wire rack on top of the pan. Spray the rack with cooking spray and line the pickles on the rack, keeping them evenly spaced.
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Broil for 4-6 minutes or until they are golden brown. Flip each pickle over and broil for an additional 3-4 minutes, until crispy.
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Serve with ranch for dipping and enjoy!
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Adapted from Melissa’s Cuisine

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The Little Dipper in Durham, NC https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/2015/09/little-dipper-durham-nc.html https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/2015/09/little-dipper-durham-nc.html#comments Wed, 02 Sep 2015 11:00:00 +0000 https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/?p=5324 Last Friday night, TJ and I ventured over to Durham, NC to have a fondue dinner at The Little Dipper. I’ve always thought that going to a fondue place would be fun, so when we found a Groupon a few weeks ago, it seemed like the perfect time to try it out. I wasn’t too Continue Reading

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Last Friday night, TJ and I ventured over to Durham, NC to have a fondue dinner at The Little Dipper. I’ve always thought that going to a fondue place would be fun, so when we found a Groupon a few weeks ago, it seemed like the perfect time to try it out. I wasn’t too sure about what to expect (except for lots of melted cheese and chocolate), but it ended up being one of the most fun outings we’ve ever had.

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The restaurant is in Brightleaf Square, located on the cutest little street with a bunch of shops, restaurants, and adorable street lights. We made a reservation for 5pm, because we like eating early, and that’s when they open on Fridays. It ended up being a good idea to go early, as the experience lasted about 2 hours. Our waitress (who was amazing, by the way) joked that you have to really like the person you go with, since it takes so long, and that it can make for a really awkward first date.

Our Groupon was for a prix fixe 4-course meal, so we had a really small lunch, because we wanted to have plenty of room for all the fondue goodness. Even so, by the end of the night, I felt like I could never possibly eat again. It’s a lot of food!

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For our first course, we chose the Baja Cheddar Fondue, which ended up kind of being like queso. It was served with tri-color tortilla chips, broccoli, tomatoes, grapes, apples, carrots, and red potatoes. It was delicious, but TJ and I were a little conservative in how much of the cheese we ate, because we thought we’d also be dipping our meats in it. It turns out that you don’t actually dip your meats in the cheese, so now we know that for next time.

The second course was a simple, but really tasty salad. TJ chose the mushroom salad with lemon-basil dressing, and I had the garden salad with balsamic vinaigrette. I forgot to take a picture of the salads, but they were on point.

For the third course, we chose chicken, filet, lemon ricotta ravioli, and rosemary potatoes, in the traditional peanut oil cooking style. For the dipping sauces, we chose buffalo hot sauce, habanero fire, and honey barbecue. The sauces were good, but to be honest, the meat was so good on its own, that we kept forgetting to actually dip them. They also brought out some mushrooms, a cheese filling to turn them into stuffed mushrooms, and tempura batter.

We weren’t quite sure how it would go with cooking our own meat, especially in the dim lighting, but it was actually really easy! We tried everything by itself, and then tried everything in the tempura batter, and it was all so delicious. It’s hard to choose a favorite, but I think the ravioli might have been it. Some of the Yelp reviews I read complained about not getting enough meat in the third course, but honestly, I thought it was more than plenty. We were feeling pretty full at that point, and we still had dessert ahead of us!

Finally, for our fourth course, we chose the Triple Play, which was dark chocolate, caramel, and peanut butter. It came with strawberries, marshmallows, pretzels, cream puffs, bananas, pineapple, and an edible orchid. Again, this course was so delicious, and it was the perfect end to the meal.

We had such a fun (and delicious!) time at The Little Dipper, and we can’t wait to go back!

Have you ever been to a fondue place?

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Spinach and Fontina Bruschetta https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/2015/08/spinach-and-fontina-bruschetta.html https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/2015/08/spinach-and-fontina-bruschetta.html#comments Mon, 31 Aug 2015 04:00:00 +0000 https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/?p=5323 Today is a super awesome and special Secret Recipe Club day – we’re all posting about tailgating foods!! When I first learned that there would be a special theme day all about tailgating recipes (aka, my favorite food group), I was so excited, so I’m thrilled that reveal day is finally here. I think that Continue Reading

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Today is a super awesome and special Secret Recipe Club day – we’re all posting about tailgating foods!! When I first learned that there would be a special theme day all about tailgating recipes (aka, my favorite food group), I was so excited, so I’m thrilled that reveal day is finally here. I think that maybe even causal blog readers/Instagram and Twitter followers can see pretty easily that I am a diehard Pittsburgh Steelers fan. I have been counting down the days until the season starts since the Monday after the Super Bowl (10 days to go!), and I’m so ready for it to finally be here. One of the most fun parts of watching football is snacking on yummy food, and all throughout the year I have my eye out for new gameday snacks to try.

For this special edition of the Secret Recipe Club, I was assigned Tara’s Multicultural Table, written by Tara, a wife and mom who has lived in some pretty amazing places! Her love of travel has extended to the kitchen, and on her blog, she shares delicious recipes inspired by cultures from around the globe. I can’t wait to try her Honey Lime Chicken Enchiladas, Cookies and Cream White Chocolate Mousse, and Lemon Pikelets.

For a tailgating recipe though, I was so excited to try this Spinach and Fontina Bruschetta recipe! I already had a bag of spinach in the fridge, and I knew this would be the perfect way to use it up. TJ and I both love bruschetta, and truth be told, we ended up just eating this for lunch one day. I mean, it was seriously THAT good. I loved all the garlic in this recipe, and the slight heat from the crushed red pepper was just perfect. I will absolutely be making this again when the regular NFL season starts, and I hope you will too!

Printable Recipe
Serves 4-6

ingredients:
1 loaf crusty Italian bread, thinly sliced
olive oil, for drizzling
1 clove garlic, cut in halves
3 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1 bag baby spinach
salt, to taste
4 oz fontina cheese, shredded

instructions:
Cover a baking pan with foil, and lay the bread slices in a single layer. Drizzle each slice with olive oil and bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, or until slightly toasted.
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Once you take the bread out of the oven, rub each slice with the halved garlic.
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In a skillet, saute the olive oil and minced garlic for about 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Add in the crushed red pepper, and spinach and cook until the spinach has wilted.
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Top each slice of bread with the spinach mixture.
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Top the bread with the cheese.
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Return to the oven and cook 5-8 minutes, or until the cheese starts to bubble.
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Enjoy!
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Adapted from Tara’s Multicultural Table

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Cheesy Bites https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/2015/08/cheesy-bites.html https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/2015/08/cheesy-bites.html#respond Fri, 28 Aug 2015 11:00:00 +0000 https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/?p=5307 So, two weekends ago, TJ and I were watching TV when we saw a Pizza Hut commercial advertising some pizza with cheesy bites around the edge in place of a crust. I thought it kind of seemed weird (how do you hold a slice of pizza without a crust?!), but I did think that the Continue Reading

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Cheesy-Bites
So, two weekends ago, TJ and I were watching TV when we saw a Pizza Hut commercial advertising some pizza with cheesy bites around the edge in place of a crust. I thought it kind of seemed weird (how do you hold a slice of pizza without a crust?!), but I did think that the cheesy bites by themselves would be pretty good. After TJ and I talked about how you could possibly eat a piece of pizza without a crust, I told him that I was going to try making our own cheesy bites, sans pizza.

They ended up being so easy and delicious! I mean, it’s bread and cheese – what’s not to love, right? These will be absolutely perfect during football season, and they’re equally perfect for a game night with friends. I think these might just be your new favorite thing make.

Printable Recipe
Makes 30 bites

ingredients:
1 refrigerated Pillsbury pizza crust
7 1/2 sticks skim mozzarella string cheese
2 tbsp butter, melted
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
pizza sauce, for dipping

instructions:
Roll the pizza dough out onto a silicone mat (or parchment paper). Use a pizza cutter to slice the dough into 30 squares.
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Cut each string cheese stick into fourths and place on the dough squares. Wrap each piece of dough around the cheese, pinching the seams to seal.
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Transfer the mat (or parchment paper) to a baking sheet and bake at 425 for 8-10 minutes, or until the bites are golden brown. Some of the cheese might ooze out, but they’ll still be delicious!
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In small bowl, combine the Parmesan cheese, garlic salt, and Italian seasoning.
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Brush the butter over each bite and roll the bites in the Parmesan mixture.
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Serve with pizza sauce and enjoy!
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What’s your favorite game day snack?

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We’re Moving Back When? (Part 3) https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/2015/08/were-moving-back-when-part-3.html https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/2015/08/were-moving-back-when-part-3.html#respond Wed, 26 Aug 2015 11:00:00 +0000 https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/?p=5302 This is the third post in a series written by my husband, TJ, about our house flood experience. This is a multi-part series of how Ashley and I are thankful that we had excellent insurance coverage (from Nationwide).  Water does a lot of damage!  To catch up, read Part 1 and Part 2 before continuing with Continue Reading

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Title1
This is the third post in a series written by my husband, TJ, about our house flood experience.


This is a multi-part series of how Ashley and I are thankful that we had excellent insurance coverage (from Nationwide).  Water does a lot of damage!  To catch up, read Part 1 and Part 2 before continuing with this post.

As I left off in Part 2, we were put in this situation whether we liked it or not, so we started to make lists of upgrades, get pricing, then rank them.  For example, while the house was gutted, it made the most sense to add Ethernet connections in the other rooms now (as long as the price wasn’t extreme) – it would be the cheapest time to do it now.  A tip for those of you who ever do get in a situation like this, it really is a great time to do upgrades that have been on your mind.  For example, we wanted taller base boards throughout the house.  Since they had been ripped out by our demolition team, Nationwide was reimbursing us for the base boards – as well as installation and paint for them.  I can’t remember the exact numbers, but say it was $1.40 per linear foot to replace the base boards to what we had, the standard 3 1/4″.  Well, to get 5 1/4″ base boards was an extra 7 cents per linear foot, totally worth it.  We were only on the hook for the additional cost above what Nationwide covered.

While we were going through our “list of wants”, we were also in the process of moving to an apartment closer to our townhouse.  Nationwide put us in touch with a relocation company, Klein & Co, where their associate, Christina, took a lot of the pain out for us.  They found 2 apartments really quick, and coordinated with them on the paperwork and setting up the time for us to go sign them, our move in and move out dates.  The apartment was Legacy at Wakefield, and the staff themselves were a little difficult to work with, partially, I think, because the management had just changed hands.  It took about a week of back and forth conversations to actually get a date to move in – we also had to pass an application process – which I didn’t understand, Nationwide was paying the bill, not us.  Another complexity to this whole situation is we don’t have traditional jobs, and have inconsistent income.  The apartment finally settled on us providing our 2013 tax return and “approved” us.  We received some invoice about a pet fee that wasn’t paid (or invoiced), but when we brought it up to them, they said it was a mistake.  We just really felt they didn’t have an understanding of what they were doing, nor did they check (and definitely not double-check) their work.  One lady in the office was superb and just about made up for the others whose service slacked.  They were all nice, however, it was much nicer not having to deal with them after we moved in.  Another thing the placement company did was coordinate furniture, and they really thought of everything, down to shampoo and conditioner.  A week later they also sent a welcome package with a strainer, some cans of food and pasta – very thoughtful!

Sidenote: The sunroom, the room with french doors leading to it, is where my wife started Ashley Nevis Prints!

Legacy at Wakefield Raleigh, NC Legacy at Wakefield Raleigh, NC Legacy at Wakefield Raleigh, NC

The apartment had some challenges, setting up water and electric, getting equipment for Time Warner Cable, etc.  Overall, it wasn’t too bad of a transition – I really thought the cats would be super miserable moving around so much, but we found out that they are more laid back than we thought and as long as we’re around, they’ll be happy.  By the time we got settled into the apartment, it was perfect timing for us to be able to head over to the house and check on progress every couple of days.  Not to say that I was a micro-manager or anything, but I pointed out some things, answered some questions, Ashley made cookies for the guys twice, and just seeing the progress of the rebuild.

Things started slightly delayed, because someone at Builder Services didn’t pass on to the build back team that we were going to use them for the construction.  I had to follow up a week or so after not hearing anything.  A few days after that, we met with Lee James, and he took measurements, our wish list, and began to write up some estimates.  Once we approved parts of it – they got started.  Some of our wish list needed to be researched further by them for an accurate estimate, but didn’t pose an issue upon starting the construction.  I met our Project Manager for the build back, Ernie – who was my favorite person to work with.  He was nice, laid back, funny, and overall he did a pretty good job getting the work done when he said he would.  There are definitely a lot of people up to this point that we’ve talked to and met!

First things first, the recessed lighting was put in, wired to the switch and the fuse box.  The walls were put up, mudded, sanded, and painted with the one of the four colors we settled on.  We chose 3 shades of gray, and a brown.  The rooms upstairs we kept the same colors and they matched them perfectly.  For those of you who may be doing a project yourself and don’t want to paint the whole room or wall again, Sherwin Williams matches paint with absolute accuracy.  Since we’ve been back in the house, I saw on an HGTV show where they used Sherwin Williams to match paint as well.  It’s probably something the pros always do, but I would definitely recommend them for a personal project as well.

Paint colors for the house

 

Drywall in the living room Drywall in the living room

Sherwin Williams paint in the living room Sherwin Williams paint in the living room Sherwin Williams paint in the bathroom

This all happened really quick once they started, maybe 2 weeks.  The frustrating part was it stayed like this for about a month.  The first set back was “snowmageddon 2015”.  It’s kind of comical, especially being from upstate NY, but in Raleigh, they not only shut down the city when there’s less than a half an inch of snow, but they start preparing and shutting things down days in advance.  In this case we got a few inches, more than they expected, I think, and it took about 3 days for the roads to get to a safely drivable condition.  Raleigh doesn’t have snow plows like NY, so even though the highway was clear, roads up to it were pretty bad with slush and ice.

Snowmageddon 2015 Raleigh, NC

 

The other set back was getting money – isn’ it always about money?  This was frustrating because Builder Services stopped doing work, didn’t tell us what was going on, and pretty much wouldn’t even answer our questions.  I feel they should have had more of a streamlined process – I mean I get they need money to do the work, but Nationwide had already agreed to pay, they did pay, but we were waiting for our mortgage company to authorize the payment, or whatever the process was.  In our case, our mortgage company, Fifth Third Bank, requires payments to go through them when the damage is above $10k.  I understand, they have an interest in the property since they legally own the house at this point, we’re just making payments for the next lifetime =).  Builder Services was guaranteed their money, but stopped work for something that was out of our control, I feel that could have been handled better, but who knows, maybe their cashflow is really low and they couldn’t front the money to the sub-contractors.

We met with Troy Jones with Floors and More, and gave him details of what we were looking for in terms of the wood floor downstairs and the carpet upstairs.  He worked hard with distributors to get us what we were looking for.

Once the check was through the process with Fifth Third, I gave it to Ernie and started to put a little pressure on the situation.  We were closing in on 3 months and we already extended the apartment lease by 3 weeks.  We were homesick, excited about the changes, and just plain ready to be back home in our comfy bed.

Ernie scheduled the vanities to be put in, Troy and his team to put the floors down, the electrician to come back to put in the light fixtures and ceiling fan, and Martin and his team to do the finishing touches with the paint and trim.  I was really fond of the idea of having the base boards downstairs with no shoe molding.  When the base boards were in, there were some small gaps along the wall and floor – which is typical – and what really made everything look, honestly pretty bad with the gaps, to an amazing, polished, high quality look, was just some inexpensive white caulk.

Floors and More laminate floors Sherwin Williams paint Floors and More carpet Floors and More carpet Floors and More carpet Floors and More laminate floors

We’re almost done with this series!  It’s been a blast telling it, though long!  Although no where near as long as living through it.  Throughout all of this, one of our cats, Owen, as I mentioned in Part 1, was having some digestion issues.  Add that on top of all of this stress – looking back, I feel we handled it pretty well, but it was super stressful!  I’ll call out Owen’s story in another post, along with his treatment, as it could be helpful for those of you who have pets going through something similar.

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Currently: August 2015 https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/2015/08/currently-august-2015.html https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/2015/08/currently-august-2015.html#comments Mon, 24 Aug 2015 11:00:00 +0000 https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/?p=5299 (Ok, truthfully this picture isn’t that “current”, as we took it in June, but let’s just go with it) So, I’ve talked a little about this before, but I’m just kind of blah about blogging lately. Maybe it’s a summer funk, maybe blogging is changing, or maybe I’ve just been enjoying life too much lately Continue Reading

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Currently-August-2015
(Ok, truthfully this picture isn’t that “current”, as we took it in June, but let’s just go with it)

So, I’ve talked a little about this before, but I’m just kind of blah about blogging lately. Maybe it’s a summer funk, maybe blogging is changing, or maybe I’ve just been enjoying life too much lately to force myself to sit down and blog when I don’t feel like it. There’s definitely something really refreshing about just living life and not worrying about writing blog posts or posting on Instagram, etc. I don’t know if I’ll ever really stop blogging, but it’s nice to not feel as tethered to it as I used to, you know?

Anyway, here’s a little “currently” type of post because it’s easy and fun.

reading: I have totally not finished a book since June. To be honest, I’ve been so head’s down in Steelers news since training camp started at the end of July that before bed (when I usually read a book), I’ve been reading every Steelers news article I can find. I REALLY miss football, guys.

wishing: That the weather would cool down fast! It has been so hot lately, and I’m looking forward to going for lots of walks once it finally starts cooling down. I know it’s lame to complain about heat in the summer, but I feel like I’m allowed to, because I never, ever complain about cold weather.

loving: Meal planning. I’ve been really good about planning our meals every week for the last month or so, which has helped to cut down on our grocery bill and help us to eat pretty healthy. When you have a healthy dinner that means you can have cookies for dessert, right? Asking for a friend…

listening to: Steelers Nation Radio. A few weeks ago, it occurred to me to try searching for “steelers” on iHeart Radio and I discovered that there’s a 24/7 talk radio station dedicated to all things Steelers. Um, guys, this is the kind of stuff my dreams are made of. 

watching: Steelers preseason football (I mean, are you surprised?) It’s been really fun to watch the rookies progress, and I’m looking forward to seeing who makes the final roster. It’s no substitute for regular season football, but it sure is better than nothing. 

looking forward to: We have a lot of exciting stuff coming up over the next few months! Football starting, going to see Jerry Seinfeld (totally one of the items that’s been on my bucket list forever), going to Pittsburgh for the Steelers/Ravens game, a mystery trip that TJ has planned, my birthday, TJ’s 30th birthday, all the holidays, etc. I think the end of 2015 is going be a lot of fun.

What’s going on in your world lately?

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Cucumber Mint and Lime Sorbet https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/2015/08/cucumber-mint-and-lime-sorbet.html https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/2015/08/cucumber-mint-and-lime-sorbet.html#comments Mon, 17 Aug 2015 04:00:00 +0000 https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/?p=5284 It’s Secret Recipe Club day!! I’m really excited about this month’s recipe. I think we can all agree that August is kind of a farewell to summer. Yes, the days are still long and hot, but there’s a bit of change in the air. People start to transition out of summer mode and start gearing Continue Reading

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It’s Secret Recipe Club day!! I’m really excited about this month’s recipe. I think we can all agree that August is kind of a farewell to summer. Yes, the days are still long and hot, but there’s a bit of change in the air. People start to transition out of summer mode and start gearing up for fall and all of the seriously fun things that come with it. I mean, fall pretty much has it all, right?

So, this month, when I was looking through my assigned blog, Dessert Before Dinner, I wanted to find a recipe that kind of fit that August mood of saying goodbye to summer. In my mind, nothing says summer quite like a cool, refreshing treat, so this Cucumber Mint and Lime Sorbet looked perfect! And you guys, it did NOT disappoint. This is one of the most delicious things I’ve ever made with my ice cream maker. It’s light, refreshing, and has just the perfect combination of flavors. You’ve got to make it before summer ends!

Also, before we get to the recipe, can we just talk about how perfect the blog name “Dessert Before Dinner” is? That’s a motto I can totally get behind. This blog is written by Stephanie, and I feel like we’re already internet friends because she has a cute little orange and white cat, just like TJ and I do. I can’t wait to make her Mini Corn Dogs (hello football snack!) and her Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce in the very near future.

PS – I cut the original recipe in half, because my grocery store was running low on mint (aka, I bought the very last of it), but you should totally make the full version, because it’s so delicious, and you’ll want to eat it every day.

Printable Recipe

ingredients:
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup mint leaves, pulled off the stems
1/2 large cucumber, skin peeled and seeds removed (you can use a spoon to easily remove the seeds)
juice from 2 small limes

instructions:
In a small saucepan, boil the water and sugar until the sugar has completely dissolved.
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Remove the simple syrup from heat and add in the mint leaves. Allow to steep for 30 minutes.
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In a blender, puree the cucumber and lime juice. Once the simple syrup has completely cooled, strain the mint leaves and pour the syrup into the cucumber and lime mixture.
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Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
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Enjoy!
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Adapted from Dessert Before Dinner

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The Perks of Being Married to a Small Business Owner https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/2015/08/the-perks-of-being-married-to-a-small-business-owner.html https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/2015/08/the-perks-of-being-married-to-a-small-business-owner.html#respond Wed, 05 Aug 2015 12:00:14 +0000 https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/?p=5278 Being married to a small business owner can definitely have its ups and downs, but overall, I love it. Today, I’m writing all about about what it’s like being married to a small business owner over on A Prioritized Marriage! I’d love it if you jumped over to Amberly’s blog to give it a read!

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Perks-of-Being-Married-to-a-Small-Business-OwnerBeing married to a small business owner can definitely have its ups and downs, but overall, I love it. Today, I’m writing all about about what it’s like being married to a small business owner over on A Prioritized Marriage! I’d love it if you jumped over to Amberly’s blog to give it a read!

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Simple Vinaigrette Dressing https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/2015/07/simple-vinaigrette-dressing.html https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/2015/07/simple-vinaigrette-dressing.html#comments Fri, 31 Jul 2015 11:00:00 +0000 https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/?p=5210 I’ve been on a meal planning kick for the last couple of weeks. When I’m looking for meals though, I need them to fall into a kind of “goldilocks” category – I need them to be healthy enough so that I feel good after eating them, but I also need them to have a lot of Continue Reading

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IMG_0882-title

I’ve been on a meal planning kick for the last couple of weeks. When I’m looking for meals though, I need them to fall into a kind of “goldilocks” category – I need them to be healthy enough so that I feel good after eating them, but I also need them to have a lot of flavor, and there needs to be a good variety, so I don’t get bored and just have pizza instead. See, they need to be “just right.”

Salads are an easy go-to when trying to eat fairly healthy, but they can also get boring, and we all know that salad dressing, while sometimes the most delicious part of a salad, is also the most unhealthy part. So, for the past couple of months, I’ve been making my own homemade vinaigrette dressing. It’s delicious, a little goes a long way, and I know exactly what’s in it. Win, win, win. It’s light, but the vinegar has a strong flavor, and I really, truly prefer it to any bottled dressing I’ve ever had. It’s also pretty quick to make – it takes no more than 5 minutes from start to finish.

Printable Recipe
Makes 2 servings

ingredients:
1 small shallot, diced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar (I like a little extra vinegar, so I usually do about 1 1/4 tbsp)
1 tsp dijon mustard
salt and pepper, to taste

instructions:
Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl.
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Divide between two salads, or use half and refrigerate the rest for later. Enjoy!
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Adapted from Blue Apron

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We’re Moving Back When? (Part 2) https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/2015/07/were-moving-back-when-part-2.html https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/2015/07/were-moving-back-when-part-2.html#respond Wed, 29 Jul 2015 11:00:00 +0000 https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/?p=5205 This is the second post in a series written by my husband, TJ, about our house flood experience. Here’s part 1, if you missed it!   Just a note: some of this post might seem a little all over the place, but I want to make sure we can look back on all the little Continue Reading

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This is the second post in a series written by my husband, TJ, about our house flood experience. Here’s part 1, if you missed it!


 

Just a note: some of this post might seem a little all over the place, but I want to make sure we can look back on all the little details from this process at some point in the future.

So, now we’ve visited the house and gotten a company called Builder Services to start with a lot of work.  They had a team boxing up and moving our stuff out of the house, a team taking pictures and recording the damage levels, and a deconstruction team that over the next couple of days ripped out the walls and floors.  Also, they had to find the culprit – at this point, we weren’t 100% sure what did the damage.  There was speculation that it was the washer, a burst pipe, or the toilets.

Ashley and I were back out in Apex at her parent’s house, awaiting confirmation of the issue that caused the damage – because that’s not covered under an insurance policy.  It’s comical in a way; they’ll pay for everything that was damaged, but not the culprit itself.  This really was the beginning of living life day by day with almost 100% uncertainty about anything, basically.  We could be out a few thousand, or a few hundred, depending on what the issue was.  We soon heard back and found out that it was the toilet in the office / guest bathroom / Ashley’s bathroom.  The flapper that seals the tank water from flowing into the toilet was solid, but the float, which tells the water to start or stop flowing, broke, so the water just kept flowing out of the top of the tank onto the floor.  It turns out they don’t make floats with metal anymore, and it makes complete sense, because the part was extremely rusted and it must have had its last flush before we left, before it couldn’t take the pressure of holding the float anymore.  It really was a freak thing, because there were absolutely no warning signs, everything worked just fine with the toilet and it didn’t make noise or give any indication that something was broken.  This turned out to be really good news.  We had a plumber come out and rebuild the tank with all new stuff.  It’s really just a $5 or $10 part at the store if you put it in yourself, but come have a professional do it, and it’s over $100 – however, it’s really cheap in the big scheme of things, and at least the work was fully warrantied and protected by the plumbers insurance.

That was the first piece of good news we got in the first 3 days or so.  By this time, all of our contents had been boxed up and moved out to Creedmoor, and the deconstruction of the house was almost complete.  CJ and another guy worked really long hours and kept really close tabs with me on the progress.  He said when they were finishing up that some of the carpet was going to be there and a bunch of fans and dehumidifiers were going to be running for about a week to dry the place out.

Sidenote: CJ had an anniversary coming up with his girlfriend and  liked a quilt my mom made so much that he asked her to make the same quilt as a gift for his girlfriend.  If you’d like more details about a quilt, necklace, or craft project that my mom can do, go to the contact page.

We weren’t sure what to expect, but this is what we walked in to.

Nevis - Christmas 2014 Flood - Living RoomNevis - Christmas 2014 Flood - Gutted BathroomNevis - Christmas 2014 Flood - StairsNevis - Christmas 2014 Flood - OfficeNevis - Christmas 2014 Flood - Master Bedroom

 

It was shocking, to say the least.  We spent a good amount of time taking it all in and looking at our home as a skeleton…it was really interesting to see it open like that.  It was really loud with all the fans going, so we pretty much had to yell and stand near each other.  We talked a little about plans and placement of furniture – but that was wayyyy in the future, and we didn’t even know what we were and weren’t getting back yet.  The pack-out team of Builder Services was compiling a list of everything that was damaged out, meaning Nationwide would pay for us to replace.

Back at the Billingsley’s, my mom and aunt Donna (her twin sister) sent us a blanket and a card.  It was really nice to get that package.

Card from Mom and Donna

I started moving pretty quickly, thinking of ways to organize the rooms to be a more efficient use of space, as well as thinking of some “needs” and wants.  Nothing on the list is really a necessity, but it’s more or less a list of things that we should think about upgrading or doing now that the place is bare.  For the next couple of months I kept reiterating, and when I’d tell people our story, that this is the time we can get the cheapest upgrades.  For example, I really wanted Ethernet run into the other rooms and with the walls up, it would be pretty expensive, but since everything was bare, I figured it would be easy for the installer, and the time for us to get that upgrade.

First Floor Townhouse Layout

Living Room Ethernet and Electrical Plug Connections

First Floor Paint and Floor Color Ideas

Second Floor and List of Needs and Wants

I like to be prepared.  In our living room, where we have AT&T Uverse internet and TV, there’s a lot going on.  There are wires everywhere.  So, I started writing out everything that needed to be plugged in to the electrical outlet and to the Ethernet.  I’m a bit of a nerd and I had to spend a little extra time figuring out what should be plugged into our uninterruptible power supply (a battery backup that when the power goes out, things stay on for 15 – 30 minutes), and what should be plugged into a regular surge protector.  Also, I’ve got quite a setup on my wireless router with rules that allow our many devices to talk to each other inside and outside of our home, a VPN setup, web servers, cameras, etc – way more than the typical homeowner needs to worry about – but those are the cool nerdy things that I really enjoy =).

Within the next couple of days, we would meet with an insurance adjuster who came to take measurements and such, but we found out that we had to be passed off to the Large Loss department and meet with another insurance adjuster.  It was really scary up until after we met with our large loss adjuster, Larry Hinsley; he was such a pleasure to work with not only that first day, but throughout this whole process.  But until we met with him, we hadn’t had confirmation of payments of any sort.  Is the damage covered?  I’ve always heard flood (from weather related water) damage is typically a separate policy than your regular homeowners policy.  I just had a feeling we’d get screwed.  How often do you really think about insurance until it’s time to use it?  I thought most of our stuff was damaged, and what wasn’t, we’d have to fight to get back since it was packed away at a storage facility, and we’d be on the line for paying for our house that was currently bare bones.  Definitely a pessimistic thought, but that’s what happens after days of thinking and never being through the process and not hearing confirmation either way.

So when we met with Larry, we had to explain everything to him – it would be the second of many times we’d be explaining to people throughout the whole process – and go on record on a voice recorded session of what happened, sign some papers, and then we left him to take measurements and assess costs.  We found out that everything was covered and that there are 2, well really 3, parts to the payouts.  First, there is the structure damage payout, then there is the payout for the damaged contents.  The third part you may or may not need, but that’s an allotment for temporary housing.  We initially weren’t interested in moving from her parents house into an apartment, that is until we heard it might take 3 months to get the place finished.  There was plenty of work to do, but I didn’t think it would take that long because I’ve seen construction workers build a house or commercial building extremely quickly.  Anyway, it did take 13 weeks in the end, and I am glad we were able to find housing closer to our townhouse.  I’ll go into the apartment later.  Living at the Billingsley’s was really nice, their place is huge, so we had plenty of space, and it was so extremely nice of them to have us there – we definitely felt welcome and they took care of us very well.  We’ll always be thankful for their help then and always.  However, their house is quite a ways away, so meeting people at our home was time consuming and expensive on gas and tolls, so the apartment helped alleviate some of the time and expense problems.

A couple of days later, we met with Larry at Starbucks to go over the list of damaged contents that Builder Services finished compiling.  Looking back, we were a little unprepared, because we ended up sitting there for 5 hours going over model numbers, finding comparable products for the products we owned but were no longer made – for valuation, etc.  But, we left there that day with a big fat check – or so I thought.  It turns out that when you’re replacing a lot of stuff at once, like furniture and electronics, that money goes REALLY fast.  I knew that it was kind of a “too good to be true” situation, well, that might not be the right term, but I knew that it seemed like a lot of money, but I was determined to keep extremely close tabs on purchasing, payments, and knowing how much we had left.  So for the next few months, I basically put aside at least 15 minutes a day, every day, to keep track of what we bought, when to pay the credit card, categorize the purchase in Mint, etc.  It was super important because neither of us has consistent income since we are trying to live the dream working for ourselves.  When life is normal, inconsistent paydays are hard to deal with, but add all of this on top of that, I just wanted to make sure we wouldn’t blow through all of our savings for upgrades.

 

Paint Chips

 

Over the next number of weeks, Ashley and I would find ourselves doing a lot of research on paint colors, light fixtures, upgrades – we found ourselves talking to a lot of flooring stores, visiting Lowes for ideas, thinking of how to better organize the office, Ashley’s craft area, our clothes, etc.  I was still researching the idea of running Ethernet wires into the other rooms and speaker wires.  I found a membership promotion to Angie’s List – perfect timing, right? – so I signed up, called 2 home theater installers, one of which, Home Audio Solutions (out of Garner, NC) I met and had them take a look at the place and give me a quote.  They were great to work with and fast. The Ethernet and speaker wires, for mounting the speakers on the wall, were a great upgrade for a tech enthusiast like myself.

This blog post is starting to get pretty long, so I’ll continue with the apartment in Part 3.  I want to leave you with some food for thought.  Take a look around your home…how much of it do you actually need?  How much of it would you miss if it was gone?  What could you live without?  The purpose for these questions is just to get you thinking.  Ashley and I found out through this process that there is so much stuff that we could live without.  It really humbled us, but it also confirmed that the lifestyle we want is not just having a bunch of stuff, but having a smaller house, with nice upgrades, and the flexibility to spend extra money on the things we use all the time – like in my case, electronics; computers, cameras, NAS systems.  I’ve always spent more money than the average person on electronics, but not only is my hobby programming, that’s how I make my living, and I like our self-built security system – I mean, it was what alerted us to the water damage and probably made it less overall damage than it would have been if we came home after Christmas.  I’ve always been about efficiency, trying not to keep something just to keep it doesn’t make much sense.  For instance, you can scan receipts and keep a digital copy instead of storing a physical copy, or what about that birthday or Christmas gift that you use twice but by the time next season comes around it has collected a bunch of dust?  What’s the point?  I think part of this mental conclusion was going through this process and extreme spring cleaning (that I’ll go into detail in a later post), but also how we don’t have the disposable income like we used to because I want to try to live my dream running my own company.  I wish it wasn’t so hard to live your dream by running your own company – I mean life is meant for living, not spending more than half your week behind a desk, being in the company of people who are as miserable as you at a job – but that’s another story.  Until next time!

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We’re Moving Back When? (Part 1) https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/2015/07/were-moving-back-when-part-1.html https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/2015/07/were-moving-back-when-part-1.html#respond Wed, 22 Jul 2015 11:00:00 +0000 https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/?p=5195 As you might remember, TJ and I had a house flood back on Christmas Eve. It was one of the most frustrating, scary, trying times of our lives, and I couldn’t be happier that it’s behind us. It took 13 weeks to have our house rebuilt, and it was quite the experience. TJ did a Continue Reading

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As you might remember, TJ and I had a house flood back on Christmas Eve. It was one of the most frustrating, scary, trying times of our lives, and I couldn’t be happier that it’s behind us. It took 13 weeks to have our house rebuilt, and it was quite the experience.

TJ did a great job of documenting things, and I’m excited to announce that for the next few Wednesdays, he’s going to be sharing the story here. He originally wrote these posts on his blog, and I hope you enjoy reading them.

If you’re currently going through a home disaster, I’m so sorry. It’s a horrible feeling, but I can promise you this – you will get through it. Even when it seems like the whole ordeal will never end, it will. I promise.


Hey guys, TJ here. Thanks to Ashley for letting me take over to write about our house flood experience. Here we go!

Although I’m just talking about this for the first time now in the Summer of 2015, this story starts at Christmastime 2014.  I wanted to write details of the many parties involved after they were put to the test.  Without much indication of what I’m talking about, at this point you might be confused.  By the way, this is not a sponsored post, but I will be calling out specific products because they are just really awesome.

Let’s start by thinking back a few months ago, right before Christmas.  It’s such an enjoyable time of year where you can (hopefully) take a little break from work, spend some time with family, and exchange gifts.  That’s how it started for Ashley and I also.  Her parents live in Apex, which is about a 40 minute drive from our house.  We packed up a few bags and planned to spend a few days over there, so we set up some new litter boxes and an automatic feeder for our 3 cats, Owen, Taby, and Riley.  We spoil our little rascals so we also set up their Drinkwell Platinum filtered water bowl (and a funny link of Owen and the filtered water).

On the afternoon of December 23rd, 2014, we said goodbye to our cats and headed out to Apex.  The next day, Christmas Eve, is also my grandpa’s birthday, so some time around noon we had a 20 minute conversation, wishing him a Happy Birthday.  Some time shortly after that I started to have something like a tension headache or a caffeine headache, but taking medicine and drinking Coke Zero wasn’t doing the trick that afternoon (looking back, maybe it was ESP of the situation that we’d soon learn of).  Later, we started watching Home Alone 2 (classic!) and Ashley was taking care of me, mostly we were just trying to relax.  After the movie, her parents went out to get dinner from Z Pizza.

I’m definitely a tech nerd and we like to know what’s going on with the house and our cats when we’re away, so the 3 indoor cameras (and 3 outdoor cameras) I’ve got set up make 5 miles or 5,000 miles feel like you’re just out in the parking lot.  Well, these cameras really came in handy on this occasion.  I pulled up CamViewer on the iPad, laying on the couch while Ashley was flipping through the channels; it was about 6 PM and we really hadn’t seen the cats all day.  It was rather dark and had been raining most of the day, so night vision was active and I was looking at the living room in black and white.  I noticed something on the couch that wasn’t there the last time we checked around 4 PM.  It was something big enough that some cats definitely wouldn’t have been able to do.  I remember saying something to Ashley like, “I’m not really sure what this is, but something is weird, can you look at this with me?”  We spent a few seconds looking at the screen, moving the camera around to see the room in a different angle, trying to figure out what was in the living room.  I wish I would have taken a screenshot, but it looked like the living room was littered with something, a board looking piece covering half of the window, little pieces of stuff on the couch and floor, and no cats to be seen.  Our first thought was that we’d been robbed, maybe someone broke in the back yard, broke the window and took the presents under the tree, possibly covering the window with a board on their way out.  It didn’t make much sense why someone would cover up the broken window – obviously they wouldn’t go to the trouble of covering the window to prevent the cats from getting out if they were going to break into our place, right?  But since we weren’t really sure what we were looking at, that’s the only conclusion we could think of.

I already felt terrible, and this just added to it, but at this point, we had to make a frantic trek back to our house at night in the rain with a car that didn’t have windshield wipers that did much of anything.  We called her parents who were just pulling in with dinner and told them we didn’t know what was going on, but we needed to make an emergency trip to our house.  They drove to the house in their car, and we drove in ours.  The whole trip to the house was very scary.  Like I said, our first thought was we’d been robbed.  If that was the case, was the intruder still in the house?  Did the cats get out?  Did they send a message and off our cats?  What did they take?  What is the extent of the damage?  I called the cops with about 15 minutes out from our house to give them a chance to get there and help us out.

Ashley’s parents beat us to the house by a couple of minutes.  We took a look at the front door, windows, the back gate, door and window – nothing was broken.  We could assume that maybe there wasn’t an intruder and we entered the house.

I almost can’t even explain what it was like to walk into the house.  To recap, it had been raining for most of the day, it was dark out, and we just had the most anxious drive of our lives.  The house was filled with the sounds of the smoke alarms and gushing water, humidity and moisture, with a slight musty smell in the air.  Walking through the hall into the living room, all of the debris we saw on the security camera was our ceiling; half of the living room ceiling was soaked and littered throughout the room, water was falling from the ceiling just like the rain outside.  Now our thought was there was maybe a hole in the roof or some kind of backup of the sewer system from all of the rain.  We quickly ran upstairs and found our 3 cats hanging out together in our room.  This was the start of Owen and Taby bonding with Riley, an addition to our family a year and a half prior.

Nevis - Christmas 2014 Flood

After the initial shock of what happened started to wear off, and we saw our cats alive and well, we knew it could be a lot worse.  It was a lot to take in, but Ashley and I have a similar trait in our personalities where we do pretty well with thinking clearly and doing what needs to get done in stressful situations – but we, well, mostly me, definitely spaz out later.

I made a few calls, one to our Nationwide insurance agent, Stephen Sommerville, who I’ve enjoyed over the past 6+ years, since I was single and in an apartment on the other side of town.  He gave me the claims phone number and I initiated the process.  Things started pretty quickly (although that wasn’t the case throughout the whole ordeal), and Nationwide put me in touch with Builder Services, specifically their water mitigation team.  I spoke with CJ and he said he’d be out there the next day, but I said it’s Christmas and I didn’t want to ruin his Christmas, so the day after would be a good time to meet him, talk things through, and get started.

I turned the water off and we put tupperware and buckets under the spots that were dropping water.  We grabbed the cat crates and headed back to Apex where Ashley and I were somewhat relieved in that we weren’t robbed and no one died, but in disbelief of what we’d just seen.

The next day, Christmas, when I used to get up at 4 AM and be super excited about opening presents, was different from all other Christmases in the past.  I was in a lot of pain, my head and back still hurt from the day before, and I even felt nauseous with clammy, hot skin.  I had to lie down as we were taking turns opening presents.  I tried to keep a happy face on, but with all of the physical uncomfort I was in, which I think was the stress setting in, I had to ask that we take a break from opening presents and I went to rest in bed for a few hours.  That’s unheard of!  I love opening presents.  We finally did get through opening presents, but both of us felt so bad still in the afternoon that we didn’t attend her family Christmas party at her aunt and uncle’s house down the street.

Nevis - Christmas 2014 Flood

The day after Christmas we got up early and took showers to be ready at our house at 8 AM to meet the water mitigation team.  When we walked in, the water had stopped falling, more of the ceiling had collapsed in the living room, and it was another wow moment.  Seeing the place with more light allowed us to see the extent of the damage.  We met a handful of people, including 3 or 4 people from the water mitigation team and 4 or so people from the pack out team.  There was enough damage that not only the damaged stuff had to be taken out, but literally our whole house was boxed up and taken away.  So we gathered up some other things that we knew we’d want over the next period of unknown time that we hadn’t already taken to Ashley’s parent’s house.  Looking back, one item we were excited that we remembered was a gift my mom got us, a Bissell Lift-Off Pro Heat Steam Cleaner.  It’s really cool in that you can cover large areas like a regular steam cleaner, but you can also detach the base and use it as a spot cleaner, for stairs, in the car, etc.  One of our cats, Owen, had been going through waves of throwing up very consistently, about every day (I’ll cover this story in more detail in another post), so it was nice to be able to bring the base of the cleaner with us.

I’ll continue this story in Part 2.  For now, here are some other angles of the destruction.

Nevis - Christmas 2014 Flood

Nevis - Christmas 2014 Flood

Nevis - Christmas 2014 Flood

Nevis - Christmas 2014 Flood - Hallway to Living Room

Nevis - Christmas 2014 Flood - Kitchen

Nevis - Christmas 2014 Flood

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Brown Sugar and Cinnamon PopTarts https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/2015/07/brown-sugar-and-cinnamon-poptarts.html https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/2015/07/brown-sugar-and-cinnamon-poptarts.html#comments Mon, 20 Jul 2015 04:00:00 +0000 https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/?p=5169 It’s Secret Recipe Club day again! This month, within about 2 minutes of getting my assigned blog, Pumpkins and Peonies, I knew exactly that I’d be making these PopTarts. The Brown Sugar and Cinnamon PopTarts were always my favorite flavor growing up, and I was so excited to try making some from scratch. There are so Continue Reading

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It’s Secret Recipe Club day again! This month, within about 2 minutes of getting my assigned blog, Pumpkins and Peonies, I knew exactly that I’d be making these PopTarts. The Brown Sugar and Cinnamon PopTarts were always my favorite flavor growing up, and I was so excited to try making some from scratch. There are so many tasty looking recipes on Jess’s blog, and I can’t wait to try her Cinnamon Roll Muffins and Grandma’s Creamy Baked Macaroni ‘n Cheese. I mean, everything just looks so delicious!

So, let’s talk some more about these PopTarts. They taste a lot like real PopTarts, but SO much fresher. They’re a little time intensive, and it’s a lot easier to just go grab a box of PopTarts from the store, but man, the taste of these is worth the time it takes to make them. So, let’s just all agree that you’re going to make these for breakfast next weekend, ok? You won’t be sorry.

A note: Jess’s recipe called for heavy whipping cream in the glaze, but I used milk because Target had not even one container of heavy whipping cream, and I didn’t feel like going to another store. It still tasted good though!

Printable Recipe
Makes 9 PopTarts

ingredients:
for the crust:
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 cup butter, cold and cut into pieces
1/4 cup cold water

for the filling:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
4 tsp flour
1 egg

for the glaze:
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
3-4 tbsp milk

instructions:
Place the flour, salt and sugar in a food processor and pulse until just combined. Add in the butter and pulse until it forms a coarse crumb-like mixture.
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With the food processor on, slowly add the cold water just until a dough forms. Do not process for more than 30 seconds.
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Turn the dough out onto a work surface and divide it in half, wrapping each half in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for an hour.
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Remove the dough from the refrigerator and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Then, roll out one half on a lightly floured surface to about 1/8 inch thickness. Trim the edges to make a rectangle.
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Slice the dough into 9 rectangles and place onto a silicone (or parchment paper) lined baking sheet. Repeat with the second half of the dough to make the top half of the PopTarts.
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In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, cinnamon, and flour, then set aside.
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Whisk the egg and brush it onto the bottom pieces of the PopTarts.
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Place a heaping spoonful of the cinnamon filling on each of the rectangles and spread across evenly, leaving a slight edge clear around the dough.
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Place the remaining 9 rectangles on top of the filling and press along the edges to seal. Use the tines of a fork around the edges to completely seal. Prick the tops of the PopTarts with a fork to allow for escaping steam while baking. Brush the tops of the PopTarts with the remaining egg mixture.
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Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until the PopTarts are golden brown.
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Cool completely on a wire rack. While the PopTarts are cooling, make the glaze. In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, cinnamon, and milk.
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Once the PopTarts are lukewarm, spread the glaze over the tops.
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Enjoy!
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Adapted from Pumpkins and Peonies

What’s your favorite PopTart flavor?


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Charleston: Sites and Eats https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/2015/07/charleston-sites-and-eats.html https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/2015/07/charleston-sites-and-eats.html#respond Mon, 13 Jul 2015 11:00:00 +0000 https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/?p=5133 If you missed my post last week on sites and eats in Hilton Head, be sure to check that out! For now, I’m talking about what we saw and ate in Charleston. We spent 2 days in Charleston, so we didn’t have a lot of time to see everything, but what we did do and Continue Reading

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If you missed my post last week on sites and eats in Hilton Head, be sure to check that out! For now, I’m talking about what we saw and ate in Charleston. We spent 2 days in Charleston, so we didn’t have a lot of time to see everything, but what we did do and see was super fun.

The hotel:
My dad was in the Navy for 22 years, so we stayed at temporary lodging on base. It wasn’t the most updated room, but the bed was comfortable, and that’s all that really matters, right? My parents have stayed in the more renovated section of the Charleston base lodging in the past, and they said that those rooms are nicer, so maybe we’ll stay in those rooms next time. Overall though, it was a nice and convenient place to stay.

The sites:
Sites
Our first day in Charleston, we lounged around at the base pool and just relaxed, which was great. On the second day, we spent hours out at Patriots Point, which was so much fun. First off, we took a helicopter tour around the area. They offer 5, 10, 15, and 20 minute tours; we chose to do the 5 minute tour, which actually felt like a lot longer. It was such an amazing experience to see Patriots Point from above, and since we got there fairly early, we were the first ones up in the area (aka it’s wasn’t too hot yet and we didn’t have to wait in line). After the flight, we went to the Vietnam Experience. My uncle fought in the war and TJ’s dad did as well, and it was unbelievable to get an idea of what they went through during the war.

Next, we toured the USS Yorktown, an aircraft carrier. My dad served on several carriers during his time in the Navy, so he was able to give us all kinds of unique stories and perspectives about life on the ship. He was totally in his element on the ship, and we loved getting to learn about it from him. After the carrier, we also did a quick tour of the submarine and the destroyer, which were nearby. Patriots Point was an awesome experience that I would totally recommend visiting.

The eats:
Eats
Again, I didn’t take many food pictures in Charleston, but this restaurant was by far the highlight of the trip anyway! The Charleston House of Pizza was nothing short of incredible. The food was so delicious (they have the BEST Greek salad dressing EVER), the service was great, and the cozy diner vibe was perfect. This is a must-eat when you’re in Charleston. We also ate a restaurant called Fatz while in town, which was also good, but not as good as the amazingness of Charleston House of Pizza.

Have you ever been to Charleston? Have you ever done a helicopter tour?

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Penne Meatball Bake https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/2015/07/penne-meatball-bake.html https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/2015/07/penne-meatball-bake.html#respond Fri, 10 Jul 2015 11:00:00 +0000 https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/?p=5135 I like making meals that provide leftovers, which is exactly why I decided to try this recipe out in the first place. When I initially made this, TJ was out of town, and I wanted to make something once that I could eat off of for several days. This dish did not disappoint! It’s the perfect mix Continue Reading

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I like making meals that provide leftovers, which is exactly why I decided to try this recipe out in the first place. When I initially made this, TJ was out of town, and I wanted to make something once that I could eat off of for several days. This dish did not disappoint!

It’s the perfect mix of fresh, homemade flavors with the convenience of an easy meal. I really love homemade meatballs, and the simple tomato sauce complemented them well. The dish is really filling, so if you have something on the side like a salad, garlic bread, etc, you might be able to get more than 4 servings out of it.

Printable Recipe
Serves 4

ingredients:
6 oz uncooked penne
1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 cloves minced garlic, divided
1/2 tsp salt, divided
1/4 tsp pepper
1 lb lean ground beef
1 egg
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup chopped basil, divided
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
2 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded
Parmesan cheese, if desired

instructions:
Cook the pasta according to package directions and drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water. In a large bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs, 1 minced clove of garlic, 1/4 tsp salt, pepper, ground beef, and egg.
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Form the beef into 12 large meatballs.
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Heat the olive oil in a large oven-proof skillet over medium heat. Add the meatballs to the pan, and brown, for about 5 minutes. Add in the remaining minced garlic.
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Add in the pasta water, remaining salt, 3 tbsp of basil, crushed red pepper, and tomatoes. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.
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Stir the pasta into the pan.
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Sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese and broil until the cheese is melted, or 1-2 minutes. Garnish with the additional basil.
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Top with Parmesan cheese, if desired and enjoy!
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Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine

What’s your favorite meal that makes for great leftovers?

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Recently Read: June 2015 https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/2015/07/recently-read-june-2015.html https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/2015/07/recently-read-june-2015.html#comments Wed, 08 Jul 2015 11:00:00 +0000 https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/?p=4541 Man, nothing reminds me of how quickly the year is going by quite like writing these monthly “what I’ve read” posts. We’re officially over halfway through the year, as in we’re closer to 2016 than we are to 2014. That blows my mind. I didn’t read as much last month, but I’m sitting at 25 Continue Reading

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Recently Read
Man, nothing reminds me of how quickly the year is going by quite like writing these monthly “what I’ve read” posts. We’re officially over halfway through the year, as in we’re closer to 2016 than we are to 2014. That blows my mind. I didn’t read as much last month, but I’m sitting at 25 books read at the halfway point of the year, so I’m feeling pretty good about that.

Your Perfect Life by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke
This novel written by two friends tells the story of two best friends who switch bodies the night after their 20th high school reunion. One character is married with kids, the other is single and intensely focused on her career. Of course, both women think the other has it all until they’re physically living in each other’s shoes. I loved this fun story so much, and I thought it was just the ultimate summer beach read.
The verdict: Read it, especially if you’re looking for the perfect summer book.

The Status of All Things by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke
I enjoyed Your Perfect Life so much that the second I finished it, I downloaded Liz and Lisa’s next book. In this book, the main character finds out that she has the ability to rewrite her life by updating her Facebook status, which is pretty convenient, since she was just dumped the night before her wedding. This was another fun, light read that I really enjoyed. As I was reading, I kept forgetting that it was actually written by two different authors – the voice was really consistent. My only complaint is that these two ladies don’t have more books for me to read.
The verdict: Read it!

Paper Towns by John Green
I loved The Fault in Our Stars when I read it last year, so when I saw the movie trailer for Paper Towns, I decided to read it too. In this book, the main character, Q,  goes on a grand adventure with his neighbor and long time crush Margo, and then she disappears the next day, so he sets out to find her. I enjoyed this book, but I didn’t like it nearly as much as I liked The Fault in Our Stars, in part, I think, because I just didn’t really like the Margo character. Still, I look forward to seeing the movie once it’s out.
The verdict: Read it, but don’t expect it to be as good as The Fault in Our Stars.

What’s the best thing you read last month? Have you read any of the books on my list?

 

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Hilton Head: Sites and Eats https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/2015/07/hilton-head-sites-and-eats.html https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/2015/07/hilton-head-sites-and-eats.html#respond Mon, 06 Jul 2015 11:00:00 +0000 https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/?p=5132 Last week, TJ and I went on vacation with my parents to Hilton Head and Charleston, South Carolina. It was such a fun trip that went by way too quickly (don’t they all?!), so I wanted to write about the places we stayed, things we did, and food we ate before too much time passes. Today, Continue Reading

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Last week, TJ and I went on vacation with my parents to Hilton Head and Charleston, South Carolina. It was such a fun trip that went by way too quickly (don’t they all?!), so I wanted to write about the places we stayed, things we did, and food we ate before too much time passes. Today, I’ll be focusing on Hilton Head; next week I’ll write about our time in Charleston.

The hotel:
Hotel
We stayed at the Hilton Head Omni Resort, which was pretty incredible. The hotel has private beach access as well as three pools – one for families, one for kids, and one for adults. The adults only pool was probably my favorite part of the resort, and it’s where we spent 90% of our time. There are also a few fire pits on the property, and it was so nice to go for a late night walk on the beach and come back to sit around the fire afterwards. If you’re looking to just straight up relax, this is the perfect hotel for it.

The sites:
Sites
We were in Hilton Head for three days, and we spent all of the first two at the resort. On our last day in town, we spent the morning at the pool, and then headed into Harbour Town. There, we walked to the top of the Harbour Town Lighthouse, for an incredible view of the town. Then, we did some shopping at some very cute local shops, and finished the evening out on a fantastic dinner cruise. On the Spirit of Harbour Town cruise, we had a incredibly delicious dinner (and dessert!), watched the most amazing sunset, saw some dolphins, and had an awesome view of Jupiter and Venus in the night sky. In short, the cruise was SO amazing, and is something you should absolutely plan to do if you’re going to Hilton Head.

The eats:
Eats
Ok, obviously we ate more than this, but these are the only food pictures I took. Oops! Our first night in town, we ate at a Mexican restaurant named San Miguel’s, which had the best, freshest salsa I’ve had in a long time. Every morning, we ate breakfast at Atlanta Bread Company, which is kind of like Panera, but way better. The sandwich up there is their egg white and cheese sandwich on jalapeno cheddar bread, and it was fantastic. As I already mentioned, the food on the dinner cruise was delicious, and here’s a look at the insane dessert we had. All around, Hilton Head offered some good eats!

Have you ever been to Hilton Head? Do you prefer to spend your vacation time at the pool or on the beach?

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4 Romantic Decor Ideas for Your Master Bed & Bath https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/2015/06/4-romantic-decor-ideas-for-your-master-bed-bath.html https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/2015/06/4-romantic-decor-ideas-for-your-master-bed-bath.html#comments Tue, 23 Jun 2015 11:00:00 +0000 https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/?p=5125 This is a sponsored post written by Zillow for Rainstorms and Love Notes Setting the scene for romance might not be at the top of your list after a long day. But creating a master bedroom and bath that regularly evoke balance and relaxation can help reduce that stress – and set the mood – Continue Reading

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Decor-IdeasThis is a sponsored post written by Zillow for Rainstorms and Love Notes

Setting the scene for romance might not be at the top of your list after a long day. But creating a master bedroom and bath that regularly evoke balance and relaxation can help reduce that stress – and set the mood – after a long day. No matter what your budget constraints are, consider these four décor ideas to create a calm, romantic space.

1. Update Wall Treatments

Control the mood of your room through wall treatments. Evoke romantic energy with warm colors, such as burnt orange, fire engine red or light pink. Or create a relaxing abode via earth tones, such as honeysuckle yellow, deep greens and light blues. Either way, the color you paint your wall acts as a backdrop for your tranquil bedroom décor.

2. Change Lighting

It’s no shock that soft lighting is conducive to romance. There’s something beautiful about a candle’s glow and the reflection it generates. Candles are the perfect bedroom accessory because they stimulate two of your senses – sight and smell – further enhancing your romantic environment. Because candles come in a variety of styles, colors and scents, you can play around with your décor options, such as filling mason jars with tea lights, buying vintage candle holders or placing lights in an illuminating container.

3. Mix Opposites

The saying “opposites attract” certainly applies when decorating your master bathroom. Mixing masculine motifs with light, airy accents is one way to create a romantic bathroom that you’ll both love. Place dark cabinets against white granite surfaces, or add shiny fixtures and accessories against a charcoal gray wall to combine both of your styles into a crisp, contemporary look. Furthermore, your bathroom is the one room where you can splurge on features that enhance both your morning and bedtime routines. Heated flooring, a towel warmer and decadent soaking tub are three splurge-worthy ways to combine function with comfort in the master bathroom.

4. Add Warmth

There’s something inherently romantic about a bedroom fireplace. The warmth and illumination of a fire creates a comforting ambiance that’s open to passion and coziness. Adding a fireplace and seating area with plush blankets and cozy chairs creates an environment that encourages couples to stay and enjoy each other’s company. During the summer months when you’re not using the fireplace, take advantage of the lighting tip and create a candle space where you can organize your candles in a visually appealing manner.

Your bedroom is where you begin and end each day, so it’s important to create a space that is uniquely yours. Incorporating these four décor ideas turns your master bedroom and bathroom into your private oases in no time. Whether you’re in the market to move apartments or buy a house, it doesn’t hurt to consider the romantic potential of your future home before purchasing. For more romantic décor inspiration, check out Zillow Digs.

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5 Products Every Cat Owner Needs https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/2015/06/5-products-every-cat-owner-needs.html https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/2015/06/5-products-every-cat-owner-needs.html#comments Wed, 17 Jun 2015 11:00:00 +0000 https://rainstormsandlovenotes.com/?p=5111 First things first, this is NOT a sponsored post. This is a post from me to you, as a cat owner, about products that TJ and I genuinely love for our cats. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that we totally spoil our cats, but that’s part of the fun of being a pet Continue Reading

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5-Products-Every-Cat-Owner-Needs
First things first, this is NOT a sponsored post. This is a post from me to you, as a cat owner, about products that TJ and I genuinely love for our cats. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that we totally spoil our cats, but that’s part of the fun of being a pet owner! Here are 5 of the tried and true products that we (and our cats) have come to love over the years.

1. Drinkwell Platinum Fountain
Fountain
This filtered water fountain is one of the best things we’ve gotten for our cats. Not only is it perfect for every day use, but it also makes going on trips easy, because it holds a lot of water, and it provides a continuous flow of fresh water that our cats can enjoy even when we’re out of town. I love that it’s fairly easy to clean, and most of the time, we just throw the big pieces in the dishwasher every week or so. Most of all though, I feel good that our cats are drinking clean, filtered water on a daily basis.

2. PetSafe Simply Clean Litter Box System
Litter Box
Let’s be honest, one of the worst parts about having cats is cleaning the litter box. This fancy round litter box makes it much easier to deal with. The round part continuously rotates, moving any waste into a bin in the back. We just put plastic bags in the back bin and change it out every couple of days. No scooping, no nasty smells, just a nice easy cleanup process. We’ve had to replace the motor in ours before, and the company is so easy to work with when it comes to replacement parts. Nice customer service is always a huge plus!

3. Sentry Calming Collar
Calming Collar
As you can see in the pictures up there, all 3 of our cats are wearing these calming collars. We’ve been using these for the last month or so, as a way to help keep them calm and relaxed after the whole ordeal of the house flood, moving around, and finally moving back home to a place that (I’m sure) smells a lot different than the “home” they were used to. The collars provide a continuous stream of pheromones that mimic the one that mother cats produce for their kittens. Owen, our orange and white cat up there, is definitely our most sensitive cat, and I think the collar has really helped to lessen the amount of stress he feels. To humans, the collars smell like lavender chamomile, which is really pleasant.

4. SmartyKat KnockOut Treat Toy
Treat Toy
This is a fun toy that you can fill with treats for the cats to knock out. It’s weighted at the bottom, so it always kind of “pops” back up and stays upright. It’s really fun to watch the cats figure out how to get the treats out, and all of our cats kind of have a different strategy for getting them out. I like that it gives them a chance to be mentally stimulated and then rewarded. (Does that sound ridiculous?? Lol)

5. Bissell DeepClean LiftOff Pet Carpet Cleaner
Carpet Cleaner2
Unfortunately, sometimes pets make messes. Owen has had some health issues that were particularly bad when we were out of our house during the flood. At that point, he was throwing up several times a week, sometimes multiple times a day. When we were staying with my parents, and then when we were at our temporary apartment, we would have to clean up bright orange vomit on a regular basis, and I think we would have been lost without this carpet cleaner. I love that you can use it as it is, or detach the base to clean a small area, or the stairs, etc. It works SO well, to the point that you can never even tell there was a stain after using it. If you have a messy pet of your own, getting this is a no brainer.

Fellow cat owners, which products can you not live without? Have you tried any of the products I mentioned?

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