Inspired! Simple sweet potato salad recipe

6.26.2014

Today's post is inspired by coincidence.

Recipe back story!: We eat a lot of sweet potatoes, especially on days when we work out at the gym in the weight room, and I'm always up for making favorite foods a new way. Mashed or baked sweet potatoes are great, but sometimes I really like to get creative and try them grated and cooked in a skillet, or roasted with other veggies!

But this weekend, with two massive sweet potatoes in the fridge (seriously, SO big - why was this one organic variety so big!?), I decided to try a cold recipe, something totally new for us. As I shared on Instagram last weekend, I whipped together this simple whole food sweet potato salad with a few super basic ingredients, and created a delicious take on a classic summer food!

Oh, and the coincidence? In between the time I decided to make the salad and the time we got home and I made the salad, we went to my in-laws' house. My mother-in-law has a recipe card stand up in the kitchen. I glanced at it at guess what recipe was on top?! "Sweet potato salad"!

Crazy! Great minds think alike, I guess! The recipe was very simple and pretty much what I had in mind, although hers used carrots as well as celery. I took the suggestion, and tried it out!


Here are the ingredients!

Ingredients:


  • 1 large or 1/2 massive cooked sweet potato, in 1" chunks
  • 3 hard boiled eggs
  • 1-2 carrots
  • 1-2 sticks celery (try it with 1 unless you loooove celery)
  • Approx. 2 tbsp olive oil or homemade mayonnaise 
  • Salt and pepper to taste (I added a lot of salt, maybe 1/2 tsp)
  • Optional add-ins I just realized might also be good ;) : fresh chives, chopped bacon, or chili powder!

Directions:


  1. Prepare ingredients separately: slice eggs in egg slicer, then chop opposite direction. 
  2. Finely chop carrots and celery.
  3. Combine all ingredients with cooked sweet potatoes and gently toss.

Add a sprig of parsley like I did if you want to feel fancy! Enjoy!


This is how we do the beach.

6.24.2014

It's so hard to slow down and take a break sometimes, but I know it's good for me. So this time of year, when we have things to celebrate and nice weather and sometimes time off from school or work, we love to get away for a minibreak!

This year marks 10 years of dating my husband. We're so used to celebrating June 14 as our "anniversary" that I'm sure we'll never forget it, even though now we also have a wedding anniversary. For most of the past 10 years (9 anniversaries), we've celebrated by getting away for a weekend or night (granted, early anniversary trips when we were 18 or 19 or however old were in comparison not quite as, er, luxurious as they are now!).

Seems like I always have similar sentiments about our anniversary getaways, too. (2013: funny old pics, vacation pics from Bend, Oregon. 2012: funny old pics, vacation pics from Long Beach, Washington.)

This year we said, let's go somewhere new. We always go to Seaside, let's find a new town to go to. (Verified after this trip: you can seriously run out of things to do in Seaside over 2-3 days. Although that can be a good thing on a relaxing, not-much-to-do trip!) But, I found a good hotel deal for Seaside first and figured, take some stress away and just buy this one rather than continuing to shop around. So we stayed at a simple hotel in Seaside and drove up and down the coast a little to explore and try some new food and beaches.

I just love the drive from the Portland area to the northern Oregon coast. It's pretty much a straight shot on a smooth, 2-3 lane highway, but it's just beautiful going through the coast range. We stopped for a mini-hike at this amazing place on our way!
My IG

We did drive to a few other towns on the northern coast, got to visit some beaches we don't always see. It's just incredible how many miles of lovely sandy playgrounds there are on our coast. Like, anywhere you go, it's a great place to hang out!

We were so lucky to have the blue sky, too!

Our hotel was right on the Seaside Promenade, a historic 1.5 mile long pedestrian route and a great place to walk in the mornings and to and from dinner and the beach. (You might recognize it from my post last week--I got a chance to wear a halter dress I recently made!)

I know it's kinda nerdy, but I love bringing our own food and coffee from home when we can. I brought our French press, electric kettle, ground coffee, and some easy-to-prepare breakfast foods so we could enjoy breakfast in our room. There was a kitchenette, so washing a few dishes and keeping food cold was easy. I won't like, the main reason I like to do this is because it's dang expensive to go out to eat for 3 meals/day for a whole trip, but I defend my practice for other reasons, too, aside from my thriftiness. Such as, 1) Can have whatever the heck we want, and don't have to potentially be stuck with foods that don't make me feel my best, 2) Don't have to talk to any other people first thing in the morning, and 3) Can hang out in my pajamas and relax while eating, just like I like to do at home on my favorite quiet weekend mornings.

We ate our simple, quality breakfasts in the morning light of the window overlooking the ocean and watching the waves. Pretty perfect vacation mornings to me!
My IG
On Tuesday afternoon (a Tuesday! When I'm normally hurrying to wrap up my day at work!) we hung out in the partial sun and ate a sweet young coconut on the beach. (Because who cares it wasn't a tropical place? It was fun and delicious.) We goofed around in the sand and did yoga and gymnastics!

Want to see one of the proudest moments of my life? ;)
No, seriously, though, this was amazing. #neverbeenabletodothisbefore #workingonstrength

So nice that it was warm enough for frolicking in the (usually freezing) ocean! Literally, frolicking!


As hard as it is to leave my routine, it always feels so good to spend some time unwinding and enjoy a slower pace in a calm, uncomplicated place. So grateful we had the opportunity last weekend. Even just looking through these pictures has made me extra happy!

How to Wear DIY: Bright blue and white at the the grey Oregon coast

6.20.2014

Got a chance to wear this fun halter dress I made recently at our coast trip last weekend - a How to Wear DIY opportunity on vacation!

We went to the coast last Sunday for a couple nights to celebrate our 10-year dating anniversary (OMG). We got relatively lucky with the weather (totally random what you'll get in Oregon in June), but it wasn't quite warm enough to wear super summery/beachy clothes the whole time. Not complaining! Grateful for the sun and clear skies in the afternoon, and it gave me a chance to be creative about how I wore this dress.

I love the bright cobalt blue, and it works well with this bright blue and white button-up I got last winter! I rolled under the edges of the shirt and concealed the bodice of the dress. Makes it look like a super cool bright pleated midi skirt!

Here it is on our walk back from dinner in Seaside's cute downtown.


The Seaside boardwalk is the greatest. Our hotel was a couple blocks down it from the main drag, and one morning we walked all the way to the south end; the next morning, we walked all the way to the north side and beyond on some beach paths (as IG'd!). 

Top: Old Navy. Bag: Old Navy. Shoes: Target (similar/similar). Dress worn as skirt: DIY, here!

I love the coast, love some time off, and love a chance to wear a fun recent creation!

Delicious, whole ingredient chocolate chia seed smoothie recipe

6.17.2014

I am so excited about this recipe!

I love chia seed pudding (I've mentioned this recipe and this recipe before), and have discovered chia seeds only this year so love playing around with them. But, chia seed pudding takes several hours to sit after you make it, so I love this idea for a much faster whole food dessert-ey solution!

Also inspired by our new, smaller blender top. We recently bought a smaller container for our VitaMix blender we've had for years, and have been totally enjoying the easier clean-up and small size for everything from our morning blended coffee to blending up ice cream ingredients or blended soups to the occasional intense veggie smoothie.

So when I found The Spunky Coconut's 60-second chia shake recipe, I was totally excited to try my own version with our new blender and my new exciting ingredient, chia seeds (I buy them in the bulk foods section at Winco, a local grocery chain, but you can also buy them here). I wanted more of a filling, post-workout smoothie than a super sweet shake, so I tried my own variations with frozen banana as the sweetener and with other modifications.

I've seriously made about 7 or 8 of these in the past couple of weeks. Seriously. I think I've got my favorite recipe down and ready to share with you!


Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • 3/4 c. almond milk or coconut milk
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 4-5 ice cubes

Instructions:


  1. Blend first 4 ingredients in blender till smooth.
  2. Add ice cubes and blend until ice cubes are crushed.

Serve immediately! It will be thick and a little gelled up, very close to the texture of a traditional ice cream milkshake and much thicker than a basic smoothie. So good!

Great optional add-ins:


Like I said, I've done a lot of experimenting. These are some great additions to make it a little more interesting!
  • Nut butter (you can try my DIY almond butter recipe here!)
  • 2-4 dates if your bananas aren't sweet enough

The smoothie/shake method works and sets up faster than a chia seed pudding because you break up the seeds in the blender. Important note about blenders - if you don't have a super powerful, high speed blender like a VitaMix or Blendtec, you may want to pulse the chia seeds in a coffee grinder beforehand because they may not get annihilated the same way they do in a super-blender. (We have this one and love it, plus the smaller (48 ounce) container.)


White linen skirts are the best! How to Wear DIY, baby shower edition

6.12.2014

When I was in high school my very stylish friend had a white linen bias-cut skirt from Banana Republic that she, as said she said, "like lived in" one summer. I found a similar one in off-white somewhere else, and I found a lot of places to wear mine, too! Chic with black or natural leather accessories, easy to dress up or down.

I don't still have the skirt, and it probably wouldn't go with anything I own now since it was very 2002. But, the white linen and lace skirt I made recently has been filling a similar purpose in my wardrobe!

It's so easy to wear, and yet it looks more dressed up than another great basic like a black knit skirt. It goes with practically everything (like, as versatile as jeans?!), but makes any outfit look like you put some effort into it! ;)

So I wore it to a baby shower last weekend, which I thought was the perfect place for this white and light blue look. It was a shower for a baby girl, so pink might have technically been more appropriate, but... I figured... pastel colors, all baby-ish. The button-up makes it even more of an outfit than just the skirt and a tee!

(I think I was subconsciously inspired by this look and this look when I picked this out! Blue + white - classic combo!)

Plus the super simple flat Target sandals I have been wearing all. the. time. with this warm weather!
Shirt: Old Navy (similar). Necklace: World Market. Sandals: Target. Skirt: DIY, here!

I highly recommend the white linen skirt!

The perfect comfy lightweight denim dress - the Staple Dress and the Perfect Pattern Parcel #3!

6.10.2014

I found the perfect use for the Staple Dress pattern by April Rhodes, part of the third Perfect Pattern Parcel series!

I often admire simple, loose natural-waisted dresses at stores, and while I'm sure they're easy to make, you don't often see patterns for them, so I don't usually get a chance to sew them myself at home. So the Staple Dress pattern, with its comfy fit and elastic waist, was a perfect one to try!

Here are some inspirations. Doesn't a lightweight denim or dress-weight chambray just seem perfect for an easy early summer dress?
1. Gap 2. J.Crew 3. Old Navy 4. Madewell (I know this one's not the same loose/elastic waist,
but it's so iconic and popular and still that comfy, slightly-structured look!)

I knew I wanted the soft, washed look of a slouchy elastic or gathered waist dress, so I pre-washed my denim. (I don't always pre-wash fabric if it's not a natural fiber or if I know I'll never machine wash it, but it helps in cases like this.)

The pattern was super simple and fun to sew! I love the French seam finish at the shoulder seams, very nice touch. PDF patterns are so great because the photo steps are so clear and easy to follow compared to a drawing in a paper pattern. April did a great job on this one!

The size I cut ended up being HUGE, so I added decorate vertical tucks on either side of the center front, and a big inward-facing tuck at the center back.

Handy pockets, too!

Hard to tell, but the fabric is actually a very lightweight denim (twill weave versus straight weave).  Also worth noting the difference between chambray and denim--here is a great picture example!

Diagonal weave= Denim
Criss-cross weave= Chambray
Source
A great easy project!

Check out Perfect Pattern Parcel #3 while it's for sale! It includes:
Pattern Parcel #3

  • Bombshell Swimsuit by Closet Case Files 
  • Jorna Tank Dress by Jenna Brand
  • Staple Dress by April Rhodes
  • Poppy Tunic by Make it Perfect
  • Water Bottle Tote by Radiant Home Studio
  • Bonus Pattern: Choose a price of $28 or greater for Parcel #3 and you will automatically also be sent the Bonus Pattern: Prefontaine Shorts for Women by Made with Moxie.

About Perfect Pattern Parcel:
Here at Perfect Pattern Parcel, we believe in supporting independent pattern designers. It’s our opinion that indie patterns are just, well, better than big box patterns, and we’re pretty sure our customers think so too. So, we allow customers to show their support in naming their own price for each Parcel. We also encourage customers to allocate part of their Parcel price to the charity Donorschoose.org in order to help classrooms in need. Pattern Parcel donates all profits after expenses from Parcel sales to the charity as well. Together we've raised almost $4,500 towards eliminating educational inequality.

Buy Pattern Parcel #3

Visit the other Perfect Pattern Parcel reviewers here...

Perfect Pattern Parcel #3 Inspiration Tour Schedule:

Friday, May 30 Sew Busy Lizzy || Pienkel || SeamstressErin
Wednesday, June 11 Peneloping || YoSaMi || sewVery
Thursday, June 12 la inglesita || La Pantigana || Sanae Ishida
Friday, June 13 Seamster Sewing Patterns || Paunnet

An awesome knock-off: DIY J.Crew Factory scalloped shift dress tutorial!

6.05.2014

I was totally inspired when I saw this simple J.Crew Factory shift dress the other week. I've been making more sheath dresses (no waist, straight skirt) recently, and I love playing around with them and making them interesting with some kind of detail or great fabric. So this one stood out because it's a totally simple, classic shape but is way cute and fresh because of the scallop detail on the armsceyes and hem. Plain fabric, plain color (it also comes in brights), but totally chic and interesting with that detail!
Source

A DIY challenge! I immediately wanted to make my own. And I had the perfect fabric waiting for me, this organic cotton sateen that Organic Cotton Plus sent me to try out. (The original dress is poly/viscose/spandex, but I prefer working with natural fibers and it's difficult to find J.Crew quality fabric at the fabric store anyway if I had wanted to work with a poly. This organic cotton sateen worked great instead!)

So, I developed a technique for making these cute scallops on a simple shift dress pattern. Check it out!

DIY scalloped shift dress tutorial


You'll need:

  • Shift dress pattern (I used McCall's M5799, which is out of print, but any simple pattern - great if it has long vertical bust darts - will do)
  • Dress fabric plus an extra 1/3 - 1/2 yard for the facings
  • 1/3 - 1/2 yard lightweight fusible interfacing
  • Lightweight cardboard to make scallop pattern
  • Basic sewing tools

1. Cut a scallop shape out of an old card until it looked like the right size and proportion. I folded mine in half  while cutting to make sure it was symmetrical.

I wanted my dress to be slightly longer than the pattern, so I planned to add the scallops on to the pattern hemline. To do this, trace the scallop piece one at a time onto your fusible interfacing, moving it along the curve of the hem. (Front and back pattern pieces - cut 2 back, cut 1 front on fold or per pattern instructions.) Extend the interfacing about 2" into the main pattern piece.

At the side seams, I left an extra 1/2" to provide for a 1/2" seam allowance down the side seam.

2. I used my interfacing pieces as my pattern pieces for the scallops. Cut the dress out, maintaining the scalloped interfacing placement and copying it with the hem of the fabric.

Oh, the armholes are a little more tricky. On mine, I just did my best to place the scallop pattern along the curve of the armscye and made some slightly flatter scallops toward the deepest part of the curve.

3. Cut hem facings and armhole facings (can combine with neckline), using the interfacing/main pieces as your pattern. (See more about how to make a facing here.)

4. Iron the interfacing pieces on to the underside of the main dress pieces, matching them up perfectly since you cut them all in exactly the same shapes. (Typically you iron interfacing to the facing piece instead of the fashion fabric to prevent bubbles, but in this case I wanted the scallops to be stiffer and stand up for themselves in this slightly structurally insecure design. If you used a heavier fabric, you might want to put the interfacing on the facing pieces and trust the outer fabric to hold its own!)

5. Assemble the dress (darts, side seams, zipper) per pattern instructions.

6. Sew facings to the (interfaced) main pieces, right sides together. I used a small (1/4"/presser foot width) seam allowance to get the maximum length on the dress and to keep from having to trim as much. At the corners of the scallops, pick up the presser foot, turn, and start curving again.

7. Trim! Carefully.Trim close to the seams at the corners and snip angled triangles out of the convex curves to get rid of some of the bulk.

8. Press and turn right side out, all the way around. (Tip: I found it very helpful to use my old cardboard scallop pattern piece to help the scallops round out!)

9. At the hem, turn under 1/2" on the facing. Use a blind hem stitch to hem.

10. At the armholes and neckline, I just pinked the edges of the facing. As you can see, I did my facing as all one piece, and I didn't cut it exactly the same as the interfacing at the inside edge! Oh, well.

Ta-da!

I'm totally happy with it! Love the fun scallops and simple, wearable shape. Great for a party, outdoor event, walking around shopping, or even work! Easy to dress up or down because of the solid color, too. Thanks for the inspiration, J.Crew Factory!


I think I might have to put scallops on the hem of another dress sometime! Fun!

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