ashley avenue

a journey to healthy balance

Southern Cuisine at Its Finest December 23, 2010

Filed under: dinner,Fashion,vino — ansauls @ 10:34 pm
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While I was in Charleston, I had the opportunity to visit one of my best friends who is about to move across the country. For our “last hoorah” dinner, we chose Husk, a restaurant that just opened on Queen Street. Deep breath…here goes!

They bring their rolls in this precious cloth sack. My friend tried them and said they were yummy. They bring them out to start the meal, with pork butter…and his cocktail in the background,

The Copper Lantern HUSK’s version of the Gaslight, lighting the way to scotch
Dewars scotch, HUSK made sweet vermouth, Cointreau and a drop of local honey, chilled and served up with a Drambuie floater

I had a sip…yummers!

I was saving as many calories for…

Southern Fried Chicken Skins with Tabasco and Wadmalaw Honey and vino.

2007, Portugal-Douro, Niepoort, “Twisted”
(r) Touriga Franca & Touriga Nacional Dark cherry, blackberry & plum with dark chocolate and tobacco leaf

It was the perfect mix for a wonderful dinner…just heavy enough with an excellent blend of flavors.

I started with Marinated Beets with Asher Blue Cheese, a Salad of Citrus, Fennel and Kurious Farm Bibb Lettuce.

Then Sean, the chef, sent out NC Rabbit Stew with Black Pepper Dumplings…whoa! I’m not one for dumplings, but WHOA FOODGASM! Good ole NC 😉

For dinner…

Duo of Pork from Fudge Farms, Thornhill Garden Greens, Parsnip, NC Apples and Anson Mills Granola for me and

SC Triggerfish with Carolina Gold Rice, Wood Fired Red Peppers, Oyster Mushrooms and Brown Butter for him. Luckily, he’s a friend that lets me taste 😉 The risotto-style rice was perfectly creamy, and I loved the hint of red peppers. My dish was AMAZING. My mouth loved the creativity of apples and granola with pork. Hey, it’s good on oats, why not? hehe All of our meat was perfectly cooked, and my parsnip whip was the JAM! Literally, my palette was doing back handsprings of excitement with the flavors each course.

See his amazing style with that tie in the background. My outfit…

However, my favorite course was the final course! Y’all know how I roll!

a cute little jelly jar with homemade oatmeal cookie crumbled with a delectable creme and cocoa. It had a perfect texture and was just the right amount…not too much. My friend had a root beer molasses cake with creme on top. I may nor may not have licked the shaved chocolate off the plate…I would NEVER do that! 😉

We both ordered coffee, which came in an individual press…so great! I’m addicted to coffee at the end of a meal now.

Afterwards, we walked around–as it was SUCH a nice night–to see Christmas lights around Colonial Lake. I felt a little like Jovie on Elf as has always has fun stuff to show me, but this was Christmas style! Then, we drove around for a while too.

Thanks for a perfect night, bud! I’m really going to miss you!

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All Hail the Queen (City) December 15, 2010

I have been in Charlotte, hitting up the Queen City and doing a little of Santa’s work…if you know what I mean 😉

In the car breakfast (I was riding this time, so it was much easer!) was part 2 of the YIAJ in the Naturally More jar.

In the mix:

  • 1 Tbsp Naturally More
  • 1/4 cup greek yogurt
  • crumbled “Everything but the Kitchen Sink” muffin
  • blueberries, pomegranate arils, 1/2 sliced banana
  • 1 Tbsp Trader Joe’s pumpkin butter
  • cinnamon on top

and some coffee

then I ate a small apple that I got from Angus Barn since I was not full. It’s just not as filling as oats! I got up early to do BodyPump, and I was hungry all day!

I somehow ended up here…

Lunch was my favorite little place at Southpark Mall…Blynk

I had a salad BEAST! Mixed greens with all the toppings that sounded good to me…if I can remember them all: roasted red peppers, eggplant, artichoke hearts, 2 olives, garbanzo beans, edamame, goat cheese, mandarin oranges, red onion with no dressing. There was enough oil on a few of the veggies to count as dressing for me. I like all the texture, color, and flavor.

Then, I got to helping Santa ;). By the time I checked the time, my tummy was growling, so I stopped for a snack…

After a few samples, I rolled with pineapple yogurt (a first for me) with kiwi and strawberries. Great refresher!


Isn’t this a cute Kate Spade display?

I wanted grilled fish for dinner, so Mom chose Aquavina. It was within walking distance from our hotel, which was wonderful since it was 23 degrees! And it was right beside the ice skating rink, so we got to watch some ice skaters!

I started with a glass of Malbec.

I had a house salad, grilled mahi mahi with asparagus and butternut squash risotto. The mahi mahi was supposed to come with a butter sauce that I opted out of. The asparagus was, however, buttery, and the risotto was good but really heavy.

Mom and I shared a Chocolate Trio for dessert. She ate the truffle covered in coconut and walnuts, and I ate the flourless chocolate cake. We split the dark chocolate ice cream.

No meal is complete without coffee in my opinion…

Overall, the food was just OK , but the company was amazing!

We ended up meeting some people at the Lobby Bar for drinks. It has a really chill atmosphere, and football was on (did anyone watch the Houston game and see the overtime–what?!).

I just had a few sips of coffee and Bailey’s out of Mom’s cup. I did not really like it.

What have y’all been up to?

 

It’s beginning to look (and feel) a lot like Christmas! December 5, 2010

Filed under: breakfast,Fashion,nut butter,oatmeal — ansauls @ 1:45 am
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Look what showed up at my house…

…meet me under the mistletoe!

And ta daaaaaaaaahhhhh! My new Christmas bowl and tumbler. Breakfast is SO much more fun in cute dishes.

Breakfast was bold, strong, dark “half caf” coffee with oats, a mix of:

  • 1/3 cup oats, water, almond milk, greek yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 smashed banana
  • toppings: 1/3 leftover honey oat bran muffin from Mimi’s Cafe, 1 Tbsp Trader Joe’s pumpkin butter, 1 Tbsp Naturally More, 1/2 sliced banana

I did 1 hour of the treadclimber, BodyPump, and power yoga and was hungry for some lunch! I continued the soup-n-salad kick I’ve been on. I had 1/2 can of Amy’s soup topped with extra plain black beans, the other half of my salad from Mimi’s doctored up with carrots, hummus, edamame, and sliced cucumber. For dessert, I had a side of leftover sweet potato casserole from Thanksgiving. I ate it cold, which sounds weird, but I like sweet potatoes cold sometimes; it tastes like pie filling 😉

After a few hours, I was hungry for a snack, then someone knocked on the door, I answered, and it was the mail lady  Santa’s elf who delivered a wonderful gift…

I participated in Itzy’s  Kitchen’s Blogger Baked Goods Exchange. Clare got my name and sent me the BEST gift ever. Not only did she send gluten-free, dairy-free chocolate cranberry cookies that are to die for, but she sent the sweetest notes and other Christmas goodies as well!

Like this gingerbread mug! I LOVE mugs! Thank-you SO much, Clare! You are the best. I dove right in! Hunger…conquered!

Y’all, seriously, if people think that you can’t make friends in blog world, they’re NuTs! These girls are amazing and have become some of my greatest inspirations. I truly love y’all!

Then, I had to run to get dressed for my event I told y’all about…the Santa Ball. This is what came down…

I have to show y’all my shoes. I’m a sucker for bows!

It was an event at Union Tavern to benefit the Boys and Girls Club of Wake County. We donated toys, had wine and local food from Raleigh. I went alone just to meet and mingle. I met some interesting people and had a good time. The food was sub-par, so I had to eat “dinner” once I got home.

My Santa Ball plate, plus some grapes and strawberries that arrived later…and a glass of red wine. Then, I had my picture taken with Santa!

Hey, a girl is never too old to sit on Santa’s knee!

Friday began with getting up at 4 a.m. to meet my Insanity group for a 5 a.m. work-out, then I taught BodyPump at 6 a.m. I came home, re-grouped, met with a girl from my old small group, then worked on some blog stuff at Barnes & Noble over lunch.

I had Gina’s mac-n-cheese (whole wheat rotini, almond milk, cayenne pepper, salt and peppa, Daiya) over spinach, with roasted red pepper hummus over celery, cucumber, and carrots.

It’s SNOWING now, which is a big deal for us in this area. Don’t you worry, pictures are coming, along with a fun trip down memory lane…80s style!

Quote of the day: “Take time to be in the moment and enjoy each other, rather than worrying about extra dessert or missed gym time. Remember that in the grand scheme of things, it will all balance out.” ~ Gina

 

Adventures in Biltmore…and beyond! December 2, 2010

Filed under: breakfast,Fashion,nut butter,oatmeal,working out — ansauls @ 1:57 pm
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Hey y’all! Dinner with my girls was a BLAST! We went to Neo Cantina for mexican (our tradition). I had a mango chicken salad (citrus marinated chicken over baby greens with mango salsa, avocado, and red onion). I had it without queso fresco and had it served dry because the mango salsa was the perfect dressing. On the side, a cup of black bean soup (with carrots, onions, and chipotle chiles).

It was delish…and just filling enough, not too full. My other girlfriends had fish tacos and veggie fajitas, which also received rave reviews! Also, this restaurant served tri-color chips and both red and green salsa upon arrival. I didn’t try any, but the girls LOVED them! I like having more options than regular flour tortillas and red salsa.

I came back to the hotel and snuck down to the fireplace that I discovered snooping the day before to curl up with my book…and my new boots 😉 (big Black Friday purchase…LOVE them!). I was thankful for the boots during the icky weather on day 1 and for warmth on the chilly day 2.

The hotel is decorated for Christmas…I am such a sucker for pretty decorations. After reading, I walked around the hotel to admire them.

After an hour or so of reading and snooping walking around, I had a hankering for something sweet. Then, this beauty came into view…

…a chocolate covered Granny Smith apple sprinkled with the famous Double Tree cookie. It was a great mix of crunchy/sweet/sour. Double Tree gives you a cookie at check-in, but I was saving it. 😉

Day 2 in Asheville was absolutely incredible! I kept having to pinch myself to make sure it was real 😉 I scored a free ticket to the Biltmore Estate grounds from my Mom’s company (Wells Fargo), so I took them up on it! I got up, ate breakfast (I pre-made oats for this morning as well so that I could save money on breakfast and splurge on lunch), 



I made sure that I could bring 2 OIAJ for the trip. The mix in my Naturally More jar this morning:

  • 2 Tbsp Naturally More leftover
  • 1/6 cup oats, almond milk, water, greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 smashed banana
  • sprinkled salt and cinnamon
  • toppings: Eat Clean “Morning Glory” muffin, leftover cranberry sauce from Thanksgiving (leftover post to come), 1/2 sliced banana

It was nice to have Wolfgang Puck along for day 2 as well. Then I worked out on the crosstrainer for an hour, showered, checked out, and headed to the castle  Biltmore 😉

 

I was already getting hungry at 10:15 a.m., so I had a little snack. I always travel with these!

I got to Antler Hill Village at 10:30-ish, so I figured it was a little early for a wine tasting 😉 (hey, it’s 5:00 somewhere, right?!), so I went to my favorite store on property.

They have the most beautiful collections of dishes, jewelry, candles, lotion,…very girly! Sorry, guys! Confession: I love beautiful things, and I’m working on it :(.

They also have a selection of jewelry from Sex and the City 2. My favorite piece is Sarah Jessica Parker’s necklace (below), but it was gone :(. I’d seen it there back in the summer and drooled.

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Oh well, it’s on to the farm to play with the animals. I grew up on a farm, and you can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl.



How cute are they?! Is it time for wine yet? YES!!!!

More to come soon…get ready. It’s about to get out of control!

 

shopping with a purpose November 23, 2010

Filed under: Fashion — ansauls @ 10:49 pm

yesterday’s post got me thinking about purposeful shopping, and today I received a Kate Spade e-mail about just that. I love Kate Spade as a brand, even though I can’t afford  it :(. I’m big on women’s issues and fashion, and Women for Women International brings it all together.

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There are pieces in their Winter 2010 collection from ladies in Bosnia, a country torn by war. These ladies work for wages, are trained, and buying these items in a way gives back to them because it drives demand (oh, my marketing and econ classes are coming back!).

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I am not one for pushing brands, and I’m not telling you to run out and buy these things (although I do love the bangle hehe). I just want to pose the thought to think about what you’re giving this year. The commercials are overwhelming and sales are tempting, but you ultimately control how you spend your dollar. Anywho, I just thought that this was really cool!