08/21/17

Greek Wedge Salad with Herb Vinaigrette

Two years ago I visited my cousins at the beach house they were renting for summer vacation.

We were having a little lunchtime potluck, and so I decided to whip up a healthy and refreshing Greek quinoa salad since we’d be in the hot sun most of the day.

Well apparently, my cousin Ryan has been thinking about that simple side dish since that day, and so for this year’s beach trip repeat, I made that same salad. 

And I must say, it was as good as we remember! It was even better paired with marinated grilled shrimp and chicken (courtesy of Chef Ryan), and of course a beachfront view (even if it rained). 

When I made it two years ago, I used a bottled Greek dressing, but this time around I decided to whip up a fresh batch of my favorite vinaigrette made with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, fresh herbs, garlic, and red onion.

I love, love, LOVE this dressing. Not only is it great for the quinoa dish, but it’s also wonderful on fish, grilled shrimp, or chicken! What makes it stand out among the 76 different types of Greek dressings out there are the fresh herbs that go in it. The flavors from the herbs just put it over the top!

Today I was craving 2 things: that vinaigrette and a wedge salad.

Well, obviously you know what happened next: Greek Wedge Salad!

This salad is everything you guys. The crisp iceberg wedge topped with juicy diced tomatoes, seedless cucumbers, diced red onion, chopped kalamata olives, crumbled feta cheese, and of course, that mouth-watering lemony herb vinaigrette. Ya’ll, go make this. 

Oh and to make the quinoa version of this salad, all you have to do is mix everything (except for the iceberg lettuce) with cooked quinoa! 

Greek Wedge Salad
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For the vinaigrette
  1. 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  2. 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  3. the juice of 1 lemon
  4. 1 tbsp. honey
  5. 1 tsp. fresh parsley
  6. 1 tsp. fresh oregano
  7. 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  8. 1/4 tsp. salt
  9. 1/4 tsp. black pepper
For the salad
  1. 1/4 head of iceberg lettuce
  2. 1/4 cup diced roma tomatoes
  3. 1/4 cup diced seedless (English) cucumber
  4. 2 tbsp. diced red onion
  5. 2 tbsp. chopped kalamata olives
  6. 2 tbsp. crumbled feta (or more, I love more!)
Instructions
  1. Combine all of the vinaigrette ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth. (You can place it in a mason jar and keep it in the fridge for up to a week).
  2. Place the wedge of iceberg lettuce on a plate.
  3. Top with tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, olives and feta.
  4. Drizzle on vinaigrette to desired taste.
  5. Devour!
http://orangespoken.com/

Enjoy!

08/17/17

Scotties #ReadySetSchool Campaign!

Back in July, Scotties announced that they would be launching a new campaign, in partnership with the Kids in Need Foundation (KINF), to inspire children to be prepared for the school year in an effort to help them do their very best! 

I was happy to partner with Scotties in this campaign because, as many of you know, I spent 13 years teaching in some of the most impoverished schools in the Tampa Bay Area. Many of my students would come to class without supplies, hungry, and running on limited sleep because of the adverse situations they were facing in their young lives. Teachers who work with these students who have the cards stacked against them work tirelessly to provide the supplies and nutrition they need to ensure their success! 

According to the KINF, students who go without the school supplies that they need not only struggle academically, but also socially (lacking self-esteem) compared to students who are prepared. 

Scotties wants to change that by believing and acting on the idea that every child, no matter their circumstances, should have the supplies that they need to help them be engaged in learning. 

To do this, Scotties asked influencers like me to help to bring this message to the masses! With the help of kids from all around, we were asked to create short videos having children answer the question: If you could put one thing in a backpack, and then give it to a kid who needed help getting through the school day, what would that one thing be and why?

For each video shared on social media, using the hashtag #ReadySetSchool, a backpack filled with school supplies will be donated to a kid in need!

With the help of a few of my friends with children, we were able to create some videos to begin the campaign, and inspire others to join in! 

Check out a few from Instagram:

Sam’s thoughts

Sean’s thoughts

In addition, Scotties announced they will be surprising the students of Town and Country Elementary School in Tampa, Florida with much- needed school supplies. The school is a Title 1, Renaissance School with over 400 students from pre-kindergarten through-5th grade.

By partnering with the Kids In Need Foundation (KINF) Scotties hopes to prepare the students to help make each day great and inspires them to believe that no matter their circumstances, they can achieve amazing things in life!

“We are so excited to have backpacks and school supplies donated for our students,” said teacher, Lori Caro. “New supplies always motivate students. They want to take them out, and start using them to learn!”

Over ninety percent of students at The Town and Country Elementary School receive a free or reduced-cost lunch. Despite the financial need at the school, the students continue to improve in academics. This year they earned the grade of a “”B” from the Florida Department of Education, and are striving towards achieving an “A”. As the school moves forward focusing on science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM), the fourth and fifth grade curriculums will also include a robotics program.

“Our research shows that when students have access to the tools they need to learn, their classroom participation increases, and their interest in learning increases,” said Dave Smith, executive director, The Kids In Need Foundation. “We are thankful for the generous donation from Scotties, because we know many more students will have the confidence that comes from having the supplies they need to succeed.”

Scotties is donating $25,000 nationwide to provide backpacks filled with pens, pencils, crayons, notebooks, and of course, boxes of Scotties. The Kids In Need Foundation provides school supplies to kids who need them most, nationwide. In 2016 alone, KINF supported more than 5.4 million students with supplies.

About Kids In Need Foundation (KINF):

The Kids In Need Foundation’s mission is to ensure that every child is prepared to learn and succeed in the classroom by providing free school supplies nationally to students most in need. The Kids In Need Foundation, a national 501(c)(3) charitable organization founded in 1995, has distributed nearly $900 million in school supplies, directly benefiting 5.4 million students and nearly 200,000 teachers annually. For more information, visit KINF.org, and join us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram: @KidsInNeed

About Scotties® Facial Tissues by By Royale®:

Scotties® facial tissues by Royale® is one of the top facial tissue brands in the United States. Scotties facial tissues are manufactured and sold by Irving Consumer Products, Inc. under a registered trademark licensed from and owned by Kimberly-Clark Worldwide, Inc. Royale and kitten logo are registered trademarks of Irving Consumer Products Limited. Irving Consumer Products is a Canadian-based and family-owned company committed to managing its operations in an environmentally sustainable and socially responsible manner. For more information visit www.scottiesfacial.com.

Considered one of the top facial tissue manufacturers in the United States, Scotties® Facial Tissues by Royale® is owned by Irving Tissue, Inc. a Canadian-based and family owned company committed to managing its operations in an environmentally sustainable and socially responsible manner.  For more information visit www.scottiesfacial.com.

 

08/16/17

What’s holding you back?

Change is an important part of life.  

My 20th high school reunion just passed a few months ago and that milestone got me thinking about all of those messages high-schoolers write to each other in yearbooks: “Keep in touch!”, “Call me over the summer!” and the probably the most infamous jotting- “Never change!”

Never change? Really? Why was that always our go-to sentiment I wonder?

If you’re not changing, you’re not growing.

If you take a moment to examine your life and realize that you are living the exact same life you were living 20, 10, 5, or even 2 years ago, it might be time to reevaluate things.  

Maybe you’re still working at the same job you’ve had for the last 10 years and it makes you unhappy.

Maybe you are ready for a relationship but haven’t found the courage or confidence to jump in and start dating.

Maybe you are yearning for some freedom from something keeping you down and you’re looking for some inspiration or motivation to move on.

Maybe you’re still holding onto regret or mistakes of the past and cannot forgive or allow yourself (or others) some grace to move forward.

Whatever it is that is keeping you from evolving and growing, well, it’s time to think about some actions you might take to get rid of these anchors that are weighing you down. 

I just recently turned 38 and as I sit back and reflect on my life so far, I am thankful beyond words that I am not the same person I was at 18, 28, or heck, even 32 (the age I lost my mom). Each year of my life, through struggles, heartaches, negative mindsets, assumptions, self-doubt, mistakes, judgments, changes, and losses (some of which shook me to my core), I have learned valuable lessons that have shaped who I am today.

And I’m beyond grateful for those lessons, because I am finally, FINALLY comfortable with who I am.

I live my life fully and more authentically than I could have ever imagined because of those experiences. I can’t go back in time and alter my story. I can’t rewrite stories that are undesirable, embarrassing, or regretful. My story is my story. It’s my truth. It’s who I am. And I wouldn’t want to change it.

Because of my past, I am able to relax into my present and plan for a future that is built upon the lessons learned from my life thus far.

If your mindset takes you to a place where you believe that you (or people you know/have known) should be the same person their entire lives, or, that people should be “called out” or shamed for being better than they once were, then you might need to think about the reasons why you possess that fixed mindset about yourself and others, (maybe beginning by taking an intrinsic look at what exactly bothers you about others growing and changing), and start to dig deeply into what you can do to evolve into a better version of yourself each and every day. Because we all know that life is literally over in a flash, so why not start evolving into our best selves as soon as we can. 

Cheers to being better and living a more fulfilling life each and every day. <3 Steph 

Do you need support in making a life change, check out this post: How to change when change is hard.

 

07/20/17

Stretching and Massage with DeepRecovery.com

Disclaimer: I’m not a physical fitness expert, so please consult your doctor prior to starting any form of physical exercise or change to your diet and/or lifestyle. 

Stretching is NOT something I’m good at. 

Let me rephrase- I know how to stretch, but I don’t always dedicate the time and effort to stretch!

Why? Who knows. Sometimes I forget, sometimes I feel like it’s too time consuming. Sometimes I feel like it HURTS and so I avoid it (hello foam rolling and deep tissue massage!). But I NEED to make a better effort to work on flexibility and healing every day.  Continue reading

06/24/17

6 years

2191 days since we met, and every day is better than the last…

One of our first dates in 2011

Happy first date anniversary, husband! This life together is just everything. Continue reading

06/20/17

Easy oven baked ribs

I can’t recall the first time I had ribs. 
But I remember NOT liking them.

I’m not much of a “eating meat off the bone” kind of lady, so gnawing on chicken wings, T-bone steaks, and ribs just isn’t my thing.

But then, I decided to play around with making a version at home and that’s when these delicious, tender, fall-off-the-bone ribs came into my life. 

And I was forever changed.  Continue reading

06/19/17

Currently: June edition

Hi friends! June has been a super busy and eventful month so far, and we’re only halfway through! 

First things first… wedding pictures have arrived and I am completely in L-O-V-E all over again! Continue reading

06/12/17

How to make a healthy bowl for dinner!

Out of all the searches that drive readers to my blog, the top search phrase has always been “healthy cooking for beginners” (click here for my healthy cooking 101 post!).

I get a LOT of questions about how to meal plan, how to shop and how to cook. I’ve had people tell me that their eating habits are horrible because they “can’t cook”, and resort to pre-packaged foods, fast food and dining out. I’ve heard this on the blog, social media and even in person. 

Well, I’m here to tell you that healthy cooking is EASY. No seriously, I promise! It all comes down to confidence, planning, effort, and resilience! Continue reading

06/1/17

Tampa Cat Adoption event w/ Scotties! #Giveaway

I grew up being a dog owner. 
And we had a LOT of them: Sugar, Coach, Chloe, Claire, and Shadow (who is still here with us today!).
From the day I was born, a dog was part of our family and so owning (and loving!) a cat was never on my radar. 
 
It wasn’t until I moved in with my (now) husband, that I became a cat owner. It started as just something I would try because Brian loved cats and always had one growing up. I was hesitant, but decided to give it a shot. 
One cat turned into two cats, and now, I feel like I can call myself a tried-and-true real life cat person! 

Continue reading

05/29/17

Chipotle sweet potato fries with Chimichurri aioli

Happy Memorial Day!

I hope you are having a restful long weekend celebrating with family and friends, and remembering those who lost their lives for the freedom to do so. <3

Whether you are looking for something to whip up this afternoon to go alongside your grilled burgers or steaks, or if you would like to bookmark this recipe for the future, these sweet potato fries are going to be a HIT whenever you make them!

They are spicy and flavorful and are a perfect, PERFECT match to my cool chimichurri aioli dipping sauce. 

Not a fan of spice? Feel free to half the amount of chipotle or cayenne pepper in the coating. They will still be delicious! Continue reading