Friday, March 15, 2013

5 Wines You Should Buy: Baby Mama Juice

Today I am so excited to have my real life friend Amy, from Baby Mama Juice guest posting about my favorite topic, wine.  When I met Amy we instantly bonded.  She is pretty, sweet, fun, a mama to a precious baby girl (aka Sterling's future wife), and freaking hilarious.  I am always laughing with Amy.  She keeps it real, a trait that I love and admire in a friend.  If you don't already read her blog, trust me you should.  We both share a crazy love for good wine so I knew that was what I wanted her to write about.  Trust me I will be buying every bottle on here, Amy has great taste in wine.
Without further adieu, I present my girl Amy:)


Hi friends, I'm Amy from Baby Mama Juice and I'm on Cloud 9 to be here today.  As you all know, Natalie is one stylish, sweet, smart mama who can cook up a mean meal.  She's also, lucky for me, a friend.  When she asked me to write a guest post, I squealed and did cartwheels suggested the subject of wine.  We bonded over wine the first time we met in person and love to try new wines when we get together for girls' nights.  

I'm pretty easy to please when it comes to my beverage of choice.  There are so many wines I love, I could write a thesis on the subject.   I prefer white and rose over red, but I do like a nice pinot noir with a tasty steak dinner.  I've composed a list of my top 5 all-time favorite wines for you.  You know, the bottles you would desperately need want if you were stranded on a deserted island (along with, of course, your significant other and children/fur babies).  
Pink Champagne is my go-to for brunch, pre-dinner cocktails, and special occasions.  It's beautiful, light, and not too sweet/not too dry.  It's perfection in a glass.  This is a lovely bottle I picked up at our local Bottles store.  Look for very light pink hues and a price point from $15-$20.  This Gerard Bertrand Cremant De Limoux was $17.49.
Speaking of pink, my dear friend Rose often gets confused with its sweet cousin White Zinfandel. Unlike White Zin, it is neither sweet nor limited to summertime drinking.  Go to any nice restaurant and ask for a dry Rose.  I promise you won't be disappointed.  We drink our favorite Rose, Whispering Angel, year-round and with anything and everything.  If I had to rank them, this would by my #1 wine of choice.  We tried it for the first time during a trip to Paris and fell madly in love. We order ours online, but I recently found it at Bottles for $17.99 and Total Wine for $19.99.
I liked the name of this Chardonnay so I picked it up at the grocery store.  Boomtown is so good that they can't stock it fast enough and the shelf is often completely bare.  This wine goes with just about everything and is the perfect American Chardonnay.  It's $17.99 at Harris Teeter.
Have you ever tried Albarino?  It's a Spanish white that makes your taste buds want to Tango! This Martin Codax Albarino is easy to find and affordable at $14.99.
Just in case there's red meat or lasagna on your deserted island, you'll need a red.  When I drink red wine, I like it to be good, real good.  Cheap red wines taste like vinegar and give me a horrible hang-over the next morning.  The Prisoner is a red blend that tastes like it costs a pretty penny...and it does ($39.99).  It's a great birthday, anniversary, holiday, promotion, or stranded on a deserted island wine.
Try them out and give me your thoughts!  Thanks for reading and come visit me over at Baby Mama Juice.  

p.s.  Why do I drink Baby Mama Juice?  Because it's delicious by itself and even better with food!  I guess you could call it one of my hobbies.  Is that bad?!  Well, if it's bad then I don't want to be good! 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Thoughts For Thursday

Happy Thursday Friends.  This week is flying by, which is a good thing!  Means we are closer to my Birthday week where anything goes!  I plan on celebrating all week (much to Matt's dismay)

My Splendid Dress came and I am obsessed with it.  It is so flattering + comfortable.  I see myself living in it this Summer.  I highly recommend it and it was a good price as far as dresses go.

I picked up the most beautiful Orchid Stems yesterday.  If you are local you must stop by Lotus.   They have the best orchids.  I got all these for the price of flowers at Harris Teeter.  A real steal.

I made my moms Veggie Pizza for dinner last night.  We used to eat this all the time growing up and I still love it.  It is a sneaky way to get your kids to eat veggies- although disclaimer Sterling made me remove all the carrots before he would touch it but he did eat the broccoli and cauliflower.  It's base is crescent rolls- enough said right?  You will love this pizza.

Our Marshalls and TJMaxx here have been getting in the best stuff lately.  My mom took me early birthday shopping and I scored this awesome Equipment Dress. I also spied these Rebecca Minkoff Purses but neither came home with me.  Somebody please buy them!

Sterling really wanted me to get the purse.

As I mentioned before my parents were here for a few days this week and it was lovely.  My sweet dad spackled all the rough spots and holes in our kitchen and bathroom.  He even trained Sterling how to do it, added bonus!

We took a late afternoon boat ride that was awesome.  Makes me ready for summer and warm weather.

I have had a hard time getting into any books lately until I picked up Safe Haven.  So far I am loving it, it is an easy,  entertaining read.  Next up - any recs?

 I am completely obsessed with The Lot a local restaurant here.  I ate there Monday and I am headed back Saturday.  How gorgeous is this plate of veggies?   It was all locally farmed veggies with jalapeno aioli- so good!   Locals you must check this place it out it is such a hidden gem on James Island.

Lastly here is a sneak peek of some goodness going on in our bathroom.  Loving the Serena and Lily Shower Curtain!  
Everything is slowly coming together!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Shrimp + Grits With Kale and Cripsy Prosciutto

If you are Southerner then I am sure you love Shrimp and Grits.  It is the quintessential Southern meal for dinner or breakfast.   I am a freak for a tasty Shrimp and Grits Recipe.  Matt and I pretty much have our recipe down.  It is good,  real good.  This past time we made it we decided to toss in some sauteed kale and it was a game changer.  So great with the grits and shrimp.  We have tried many different kinds of cheese in the grits but love them with Smoked Gouda.  It is the perfect combo with the Shrimp.  This is truly one of our favorite meals.

:: S H R I M P  A N D  G R I T S  W I T H  K A L E  A N D  C R I S P Y  P R O S C I U T T O::

- 1 Pound Peeled and Deveined Shrimp
- 1/2 white or red onion diced
- 1-2 garlic clove minced
- 1 bunch kale washed, stemmed, and chopped
- 1.5 Cups Shredded Smoked Gouda
- 2-3 Tablespoons Butter
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1 Cup Grits ( I use the slow cook kind not instant)
- 5-6 pieces Prosciutto

Arrange the Prosciutto slices in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake in oven at 400 degrees about 10 minutes until crispy.   Side aside and let cool.

Toss the peeled and deveined Shrimp in a bowl with olive oil and salt and pepper.  We add a little Sriracha for heat.  Let sit til ready to cook.

Cook girts according to package.  Once the grits are cooked, add in butter and shredded Gouda and let simmer while you cook the Shrimp.  Season with Salt and Pepper.  If the grits get too thick add in some milk.  

In another large pan, Sautee Kale in some olive oil with salt and pepper.  Just cook until slightly wilted,  you will throw it back in with shrimp at the end.  Remove kale and set aside- you can use the same pan for the Shrimp.

Sautee onion in about 2 tablespoons olive oil until translucent in that same pan..  Add in garlic- be careful not burn it.  Cook for one minute.  Add in Shrimp and cook about 5-6 minutes until pink and cooked thru.  Once Shrimp is cooked add in kale and heat up with Shrimp and onion mixture.  

To assemble, scoop grits in bowl and top with kale/shrimp mixture.  Crumble the Prosciutto over top.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Cheap and Chic: Top 10 Buys Under $100

I love a good bargain.  Why pay lots of money when you can find just as cute stuff for cheap.  I rounded up a few of my favorite steals for Spring/Summer.  All are Under $100 and super cute!

I think dress is so cute.  I love the Floral print, it seems like florals are everywhere for the Spring.    A great dress for showers, church, parties,  you name it!

So I actually bought these last week.  At first I thought Leopard shorts- is that too Snooki to wear?  But then I tried them on and they were cute, really cute and flattering.  For the price you can't beat it.  I think paired with a fresh white tee and sandals this is a great summer outfit.  If you follow me on Instagram you probably saw the pic of me trying them on.


The perfect casual dress.  Great alone or pile on the statement necklaces + cute flat sandals.

I swear these look way more expensive than they are.  Love the nude/black combo.  Seriously considering ordering these.
I got this necklace for my birthday last year and love it.  Wear it all the time.  It goes with everything!

This skirt comes in 3 gorgeous colors and I love them all.  I picture this paired with a white tank top and a long necklace (like the House of Harlow one above).  

I am smitten with this shirt, pretty sure I am going to order it.  I think it looks so cute with shorts and would be killer with white jeans.  I always love a J Crew blouse.   I think the Indigo color is so fresh.

I want this maxi dress in every color it comes in.  It looks so comfy and easy to wear.

These are the best summer sandals, so comfortable and they go with everything.  I love the new version for this year with the neon and snake.  A real steal.  I want several colors I love them so much.

I am obsessed with these.  They are such a good price.  I think they would make a great shower gift- you could even slap a monogram in the middle.  I am thinking about getting my sister one to throw all her baby stuff in for the Summer. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

My Favorite Salads

I post pictures of food on Instagram (a food lovers porn, if you want to follow me my user name is Snoopnattynat) often, and a couple of people asked me to round up my favorite salads that I frequently make for lunch.  Food makes me so happy.  I really like to take the time to create something yummy instead of eating random crap.  Most of these salads only take a few minutes to toss together.  All are favorites and deliciously good and healthy.
 I usually buy all the stuff for one particular salad and then eat it that week for lunch.  These are my go-to Salads. 

:: G R E E K   S A L A D ::
I am obsessed with Greek Salads, probably my favorite lunch.  Sometimes if we eat Shrimp for dinner the night before I ask Matt to cook me extra to have for my salad.  Otherwise I just eat it with no meat and it is just as good.  The addition of crumbled pita chips makes this salad so don't skip that step! I promise this salad is amazing.
Recipe HERE.

:: S A T U E E D   K A L E + W H I T E   B E A N S ::
This is a new favorite lunch of mine.  I don't think I have ever written about it on here before,  it is so easy to make.  I make a batch at the beginning of the week and then just reheat when I want to eat it.  All you do is chop the Kale (remove the stems) and sautee in oil- I use a Habernero infused olive oil to give it extra flavor.  Once the Kale has cooked, add in drained white beans ( I use cannellini or great white northern beans) and if you want add in chopped cherry tomatoes as well.  Then add in a couple splashes of balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper.  Cook a few more minutes and enjoy!

:: R O A S T E D   V E G E T A B L E   C O U S C O U S::
This a great and easy salad to make. You could sub any veggies you have on hand.  I think it tastes better the longer it sits- I also prefer to serve at room temperature.
Recipe HERE

:: C A L I F L O W E R,   W H I T E   B E A N  A N D   F E T A   S A L A D ::
This a fairly new recipe I tried a few weeks back but it has quickly become one of my favorite salads.  The flavor combinations are crazy good and the Cauliflower holds up well and never gets soggy.
Recipe HERE.

:: T U S C A N   K A L E   S A L A D ::
This salad is ridiculously easy to make and full of flavor.  I have found that it is better the longer it sits.  The kale holds up well and doesn't get soggy so it can last a day or two in your fridge.  I use Panko Breadcrumbs instead of making my own.
Picture and Recipe VIA .

:: S P I C Y   Q U I N O A,  C U C U M B E R   A N D  T O M A T O   S A L A D::
I made this salad all the time last summer.  It is one of my favorite Quinoa Recipes.  I have even added Black Beans in it and that is also killer.  It is a fabulous salad.
Recipe and Photo:  Via New York Times

:: A S P A R A G U S   T O A S T::
So, obviously Asparagus Toast is not a salad.  But I often make it to have with a small salad when I am craving some carbs.  It is so easy to make- you can use canned or fresh cooked asparagus and just layer on your choice of bread.  Top with cheese and bake in oven.

There you have it, all my favorite lunch salads.  Any others I should add to my list?

Friday, March 8, 2013

Turning 33 + Things I Know

In two weeks I turn 33.  That used to always seem so old to me.   What does seem kind of crazy is that in two years I will be 35, meaning  then I will be 5 years away from 40.  I can remember my mom throwing my dad an "over the hill" party when he turned 40 and thinking wow, that is old.  Things are different now, 40 is like the new 30 and really not that old at all (or at least that is what I tell myself).  Overall I still feel pretty darn young most of the time.  My 33 years have at least taught me some life skills.  I guess it is true you get older and wiser.  It got me thinking about what I have learned in my "old" age plus a few random thoughts.  

- I am sad I no longer get carded for alcohol.  Do I really look that old?  I am hoping the fact that I always have a little one with me is the reason I don't get carded.  Or it could be the dark circles under my eyes and wrinkles.

- For once in my life I am comfortable with my weight give or take 5 lbs.  It took me a long time to learn how to eat to manage my weight but for once I am happy with my body- minus my stomach because lets be real is it ever the same after having a child?

- Which brings me to what I have learned about weight maintenance,  85% of it is what you eat not exercise.  I exercise for my mental sanity and not to be flabby but it is not what makes me lose weight, it is what I put in my mouth.

- Your parents are usually right.  Sometimes you don't want to hear it but for the most part they are right.  Now that I am a parent I look at my parents differently and appreciate their input.  Listen to them they are the two people who always have your best interests at heart.  Sometimes it is hard to hear what they have to say but they will always tell you the truth and be honest like no one else in your life.

- Marriage is hard, really hard.  It takes work.  Planning the wedding is the easiest part of being married.  Having a child makes marriage even harder.  You must have a solid friendship and be willing to compromise to make it work.  After a child it is really important to carve out time for just the two of you to be alone.  Your spouse will annoy you and that is ok and normal.  It is the person you spend the most time with of course you will get on each others nerves.

- Once you have a kid a hangover is just not worth it.  I know my limits now and rarely drink too much.  There is nothing worse than tending to a child while you are hungover.

- Men are clueless you need to spell things out for them- ie what needs to done around the house and what gifts you want.  They are good with a list and ideas.

- Much disappoint is caused by ideas we have created in our heads.  I can't tell you how many times I have gotten upset with Matt for him to reply "I am not a mind reader, we never discussed that."

- I still don't feel like a grown up.  Sometimes I laugh to myself that I am married with a child because at heart I still feel like I am 16.  Do we ever really feel grown-up?  I did feel old while waiting in line to watch Twilight and the Hunger Games though......

- There are so many different kinds of love in life but none as strong as the love you have for your child.  It is the most powerful love ever.  Nothing can compare to it.

- Call your parents and grandparents often.  Even if it is only a 5 minute conversation I can guarantee you it is the highlight of their day.

- It is so important to nurture your relationships with girlfriends.  They get you a way your husbands never will.  You can bitch to them without them getting annoyed.  Men have a short tolerance for complaining but girlfriends don't.  My girlfriends are my happy place they bring so much joy and laughter into my life.

- The expensive version is usually worth it.  Especially when it comes to purses, shoes, and jeans.  They hold up better, last longer and are more comfortable.  

- It is easier to get away with cheap white wine than cheap red wine.  Cheap red wine will cause a real bad hangover.  Don't ever trust a bottle of wine that is less than $5.  That being said you can get some fabulous bottles of wine between $10-15.

- Some of the best beauty secrets are the easiest- drink lots of water and get enough sleep.  Those two things can make a world of difference on your skin.

- Once you have a kid it is nearly impossible to have a clean house.  Just resign yourself to the fact that things will never be put away.  I am always picking crap up, it never ends!

- I am the luckiest person in the world to have a sister.  There is nothing like the bond between sisters.  I love my brother so much but we are not as close as my sister and I are.  If you have two daughters consider yourself lucky that they will have each other growing up.  We always say "Sisters by Chance, Friends by Choice."  Love you Tay!

- Sometimes you just need to eat that cheeseburger, cookie, drink that bottle of wine , etc.  It is important to indulge sometimes and just enjoy life.

- Stay true to yourself.  I went through many stages growing up trying to fit in with others.  Adapting to them and doing things that really weren't me.  Now I am just "me."  If you think I am stupid for loving Reality TV or shopping too much- oh well. That is me take it or leave it.

- Along the same lines don't compare yourself to others, there will always be others with more than you have but that doesn't mean they are happier.  You have way more than alot of other people.  The blog world makes this hard because people are always posting about their fabulous houses, clothes etc.  I am guilty of feeling a little jealous sometimes.  But I try to remind myself how lucky I am and how much I have.  I am blessed.  Some people don't even have a roof over their heads.

- Forgive and Forget always.  A grudge is never worth holding on to.  I am always the first person to apologize I hate being in argument life is too short for that.  It is also to short to spend time hating anyone

- Have some Faith.  Religion has become a really important aspect of my life.  Take time to pray and thank God for all your blessings.

Ok, so spill it, I would love to hear from people older, younger,  and my age on what you have learned thus far in your life?  and if you agree with my thoughts!
Have a great weekend friends!
Happy Friday!