Vanilla Lime Watermelon Salad

Vanilla Lime Watermelon Salad

And summer is slowly coming to an end.  Zoo Atlanta is less crowded during the day.  More school buses are always on the streets around town.  Malls are less jam packed with kids.

School may have started, but summer fruits are still thriving.  This past weekend I went over to Alabama to visit with some family and I got treated to two farm-grown watermelons.  One had yellow flesh and one had the typical red flesh.  Both were beautiful and sweet.

So, I paired them both with some balsamic and olive oil!  What?  That doesn’t go with watermelon.  It does if you have some specialty balsamic and olive oil from Oli & Ve in Roswell.  I paired this for a tasting there and knew that I would be purchasing both.  That tasted amazing together.

Vanilla Lime Watermelon Salad
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: Fruit Salad
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
Fresh summer fruit that is simply dressed - perfect.
  • 1 cup yellow flesh watermelon, cubed and seeded
  • 1 cup red flesh watermelon, cubed and seeded
  • 2 tsp vanilla balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp persian lime olive oil
  • salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
  1. Put watermelon in a bowl. Combine the oil and vinegar together. Drizzle over top of the fruit. Season with salt and pepper. Eat!
  2. I like this served room temperature. Would be a great side dish to a pork or tacos or fish

Simple Summer Squash Salad

Simple Summer Squash Salad

Summer food should be pretty.  The sun is shining.  The gardens are bursting with fragrant herbs and brightly hued fruits the way God imagined and created them.

While I didn’t grow the items found in this summer salad, I did buy them at the Whole Foods in Buckhead (a delightful shopping, eating, and living area of Atlanta).  This Whole Foods takes the cake on any one I’ve been in.  The produce alone would be reason to keep coming back to it again and again.  I remember the first time I took our older son in there.  He exclaimed “watermelon” while looking at the sample containter of beautiful red, completely juicy, delicious watermelon.  (And that was the first time he had said it!)


And another favorite thing I love about this salad is the dressing.  I do love to make my own, but when you’ve found a simple summer vinaigrette such as this one: Brianna’s Real French – why waste the time in making my own?  It is slightly tangy and fragrant and rests lightly on any food you put it on (this salad and our pink grapefruit salad are our two favorites).  And if you want to know where to get the delicious Yard Blend that I use in this side dish, contact my friend Jayme over at Holly and Flora.

So, without further ado – here is a perfectly simple summer side dish that would be a great accompaniement to your next light summer affair.  Get some crusty bread, cheese, wine, berries, and this – night well made.

This recipe was inspired by Laura’s.

Simple Summer Squash Salad
Recipe type: Vegetable
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2-3
Simple summer squash in a light vinaigrette with salty, smooth goat cheese
  • 2 yellow summer squash, sliced in ribbons
  • 1 zucchini, sliced in ribbons
  • 2-3 T Brianna's Real French Vinaigrette
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • ½ tsp of Holly & Flora's Yard Blend
  • 2 T crumbled goat cheese
  1. To slice ribbons in your vegetables, I used the side of my box grater with the long grating option.
  2. Toss your sliced vegetables in everything but the goat cheese. Let marinate for about 20 minutes
  3. Crumble the goat cheese on top before serving.



Creatives: Jayme of Holly and Flora (Garden, Beauties, Recipe)

posted in: creatives, food, Vegetables, vegetarian, Women | 1

I love sweet friends.  This girl has been a friend since high school – our cheerleading days – and we got reconnected on FB (that is the blessing of Facebook), then when I went to Denver a few years back we got to hang out and take some beautiful photos, now she is loving her garden and seeing all the beautiful things she can create from it.

What I learned this week about being Creative: I’m not a gardener.  It takes a lot of time.  There are many other interests in my life that take up that time.  But, I can and do enjoy goodies from other people’s gardens.  I talked with Jayme last week and she agreed to come up with a new recipe, show us some of her garden, answer some questions – and hopefully inspire you to live a fresh, local life!  Another way I love this story – is because it started when J was growing up.  Moms/Dads – you have a huge influence on your children in many way.  Don’t neglect the non-spiritual ways you influence your children!

Holly and Flora

1.  How did you begin your creatives lifestyle?
Growing up, every Tuesday night, my mom would conduct “Home Together Nights.”  We would select recipes to reproduce, as a family, and we would laugh, create, and bond together.  My sister and I still make recipes from those memorable evenings, and we are much more adventurous and creative in the kitchen, and in other areas, as a result.  A creative upbringing definitely made it easier to embrace a similar lifestyle as an adult, but having a garden, working within the hospitality and restaurant industries, training as a sommelier, and traveling to different parts of the world have greatly shaped the way that I view my place in the world, as well.
2.  What drives you to continue (especially in a time of convenience)?
As I answer this question, I am up late, tending some stock.  It would be so easy to simply throw away the day’s carrot greens, chicken bones, and onion skins and conveniently purchase stock at the grocery for my next batch of soup.  However, I feel a strong sense of responsibility with the bounty we have been given and the talents we possess; I feel a deep pull to squeeze every gift to the very last drop, reuse it, repurpose it, and share it.  It is intensely rewarding.  Almost always, I save money by doing and making things, myself, and the more adept I become, the more beneficial and far-reaching my deeds become.  I take immense pride knowing that I am capable and knowledgeable to provide for myself and my family.  Creativity applies not only to the artistic realm, but it also applies to the practical realm.
3.  What is the thing you’ve learned most about yourself in this creative journey?
The mess-ups and mistakes are usually the most memorable, educational, and exciting.  I do not always operate on this precept, but I really try to learn from my perceived mishaps.  For example, I try to sketch or write about something I am creating each day.  A lot of times, those messy sketches or scribbled words become foundations for a future project.  If I were to discard them because of their imperfections, I would limit my creative potential.  I tend to be very good at limiting myself and comparing myself and my progress to others.  That aspect of my personality is challenging.  I am trying to let go, unleash what holds me back, and get my blank canvas absolutely messy, both literally and figuratively.
4.  What is your favorite recipe?
My favorite recipe to make is zucchini cake.  You can find my recipe here (link:  However, this gardening season, I have had an abundance of eggplant, herbs, and tomatoes, which prompted me to create this recipe for my version of an eggplant tapenade/caponata.  Being in the midst of a kitchen remodel, I have not had access to a stove, dishwasher, proper storage options, or even a sink, which is why I have had to create new recipes, using either a grill or crockpot.
5.  What has been your greatest joy in this creatives process?
I am very much inspired by my garden.  I feel that it feeds almost every area of my life right now.  I am inspired by its color, its movement, its inconsistencies, its demands, its continual state of flux.  I find inspiration from its parallels to our daily lives.  So many of life’s lessons can be likened to a garden.  The seasonal change of a garden mirrors the growth of an individual, but gardening is not just about an individual effort.  I have found deep satisfaction involving myself with the gardening community here in Denver.
Grilled Eggplant “Caponade”
  Eggplants from the Garden
20 small fairytale eggplants, halved, stems removed (or substitute 2 medium regular eggplants, quartered)
8 medium to large heirloom tomatoes, quartered
1 head of garlic
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
juice of one lemon
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 bunch green onions, finely chopped, whites and greens together
1/2 cup olives, chopped (mostly Kalamatas, with some mixed green olives)
1/8 cup capers
1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley
1/8 cup freshly chopped basil
1 tablespoon freshly chopped thyme
salt and pepper, to taste
dried chili flakes, to taste
1. In a deep saucepan, simmer the tomatoes in 1/2 cup olive oil, over low to medium heat, for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until most of the liquid is gone, and it starts to thicken.  The longer you can draw this process out, the better and more concentrated the taste will be.
2. In another pan, add the peeled and separated garlic cloves to 1/4 cup olive oil.  Simmer over low heat for about 20-25 minutes, or until lightly browned and caramelized.  Remove from heat, set aside to cool, and then chop coarsely.  Do not discard the oil!
3. Pre-heat the grill on high heat, and then turn down to low heat.  Brush the eggplant slices with olive oil and lightly salt.  Grill the fairytale eggplants for two minutes on each side.  If you are using regular eggplants, grill four to five minutes on each side.  Remove from the grill, set aside to cool, and then dice into 1/4 inch pieces.
Grilling Eggplants
4. Once each component has cooled, mix the tomatoes, garlic, and eggplant in a large bowl.  Add the last quarter cup of olive oil, as well as the oil that you reserved from simmering the garlic.
5. Add the lemon juice, vinegar, onions, olives, capers, and herbs to the mixture.  Stir to integrate.
6. Season with salt, pepper, and chili flakes to taste (I used about 1 tablespoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon of chili flakes).
This recipe tastes great the first day, but even better the next, so feel free to prepare in advance.  This recipe yields about four cups and keeps, refrigerated, for a week.  Serve with crostini or grilled bread.  What are some other uses for this recipe?  Serve alongside hummus or crumble in feta or serve on top of baked or grilled salmon and pork tenderloin.
Grilled Eggplant Tapenade
Be on the lookout for spice rubs, spice blends, and notecards all inspired by Jayme’s garden!  And Be Creative!
Eggplants for Everyone

TriRestaurant Week: Vivace

posted in: food, restaurants, vegetarian | 2

Unpretentious.  Good food.  Hopefully go back for the good wine.  Good price.  Good friend.  What more could you ask for?

A friend and I celebrated hump day by taking advantage of Triangle Restaurant Week and went to a new place for us both, Vivace in North Hills.  I will definitely pay a return (or two or three) visit!

They brought out delicious simple crusty bread slices with a white bean hummus type dip.  Good, simple.

We both ordered the salad: spinach, dried apricots, slivered almonds, and a prosecco vinaigrette.  Loved the attention of the dressing of the salad with the light vinaigrette and the sweetness (but not overwhelming) dried apricots.  Maybe the hand was heavy on the pecorino cheese, just a bit salty.

I ordered the pizza, minus the chicken since I’m going meatless.  The presentation was flawless, brought out on a wooden cutting board.  Thin crispy-edged pizza with olive oil, goat cheese, roasted garlic, pear, and red onion.  Simple.  Mastered.  I took one bought, slouched back on my cushioned-seat, and sighed.  Good food.  Such a pleasure.

My friend got the mussels in white wine sauce and linguini.  I tasted a mussel and tried some of the sauce.  Splendid.  And both meals provided us leftovers.

Dessert: cappuccino panna cotta with raspberry puree (dotted with 3 chocolate covered espresso beans) and biscotti.  Everything was good, nothing oh my goodness stellar (like the pizza).  I enjoyed it.  Brown colored desserts are not easy to photograph. But, neither of us (my friend nor I)  are HUGE coffee fans and we both enjoyed it!

So.  My plan: return for a visit.  Go late at night with a friend who wants to split a pizza, a glass of something, and sit there and talk, oh for hours.

And we had attentive wait staff and an enjoyable time!  Thank you Vivace.  Enjoy the photos.

Much & Link Love: MLK

posted in: food, vegetarian, weight loss | 5

1.  I’m very thankful for MLK.  Not only for his vision for racial equality (or however you want to say it), but also because we get a day off.  Not that I won’t be working today, I’ll just be working from my bed and then my second office (different location).

2.  Honest here: Its been a tough week.  Even though I had a fabulous time in Wilmington, I have not been sleeping well since Tuesday.  I usually sleep sound through the night and would love to get about 9 hours of it (my busy life does not allow for that and for me to get everything done).  But, two times since moving here I have gone in a period of not sleeping well.  I went to bed last night about 1130 and just prayed to Jesus that He would grant me at least 6 hours of good sleep.  The first time I woke up was around 645, thank you Jesus for that sweet answer to prayer!  Still tired, not caught up, but much to do, so I hopped out of bed around 815.

3.  I had three great conversations with three new friends yesterday:  Thankful for them and for the wide variety of conversations we had: running, vegetarianism, and writing.  They were all very needed yesterday.

Link Love

1.  I am making this tonight to bake in the morning when I return from the gym.

2.  This will be a late night drink for me this week since I will have a lot of late nights. 

3.  This is a very inspiring post by Kendi.  This is especially needed when I have so many dreams.  These are the ones that are up to me: do my job well, social media/blogging success, writing a book, losing 30 lbs, be vegetarian, and running successfully, travel and do food photography/writing, and being a great photographer.  Then there is one that I can’t do by myself.  Thank you Kendi for this dream report.

4.  Anyone in RDU wanna come have this recipe with me?  This looks amazing. 

5.  Love my friend’s blog on the topic of food. Some of her previous thoughts in a conversation with me has spurred me on the last couple of months since meeting with her. 

I know this week’s is short, but I feel like these are more specific to what I want to do.  Hopefully you like these Monday editions.  I hope you see a little bit of me in these and learn what is going on in my head and heart and busy schedule.

Have a great holiday!


Taste of Wilmington: K38

posted in: food, restaurants, vegetarian | 1

This place came highly recommended and it is out of the downtown area, so parking is not a problem. 

1.  Great decor.

2.  Low-key (yes, I know it was the off season)

3.  Had a great waitress who allowed us to stay there pretty much as long as we wanted (a little over 2 hours)

4.  Bottomless free chips and salsa (a must for any good Mexican restaurant)

5.  The best restaurant salsa I’ve ever had.  And I’ve had a lot.

6.  First time with Mexican sushi (ok, not really, but look at the picture, doesn’t it look like sushi).  I had the Cabo: blackened shrimp and avocado.  Nuf said! 

7.  Homemade, fresh, daily, corn tortillas.

8.  And many vegetarian options, which I definitely liked.

In my opinion, a little overpriced for mexican, but not outrageous.  And definitely well worth it. 

Meatless 365

posted in: food, Vegetables, vegetarian | 10

Today is day one, right.  Day one of anything.  Today is the first day of the rest of your life?!

Well, there are some things that I just need to put my mind to do, and I can do it.  This is one of those things.

Hardest part of going meatless for 365 days:

1.  When I go to the Angus Barn (they have something meatless, right).

2.  My brother’s steaks (so stinking quality)

3.  Sausage.  Its so good.

If there are only three deterrants for me trying this, than what is there to stop me?

Why I will try it for a year:

1.  Protein is good and can be found in other foods

2.  Panera does sell meatless eats (because you know, Panera gets my money most weeks).

3.  Dairy and fish are not included in this. 

4.  I want to expand my cooking knowledge and food savvy.  I have to branch out.

5.  And, I don’t like meat substitutes (so not tofu, or whathave you).

Do you have any thoughts?  Do you have any good websites I’ve not looked at.

Day 1: good.  Cinnamon raisin toast with pb for breakfast, veggie sub for lunch (and chips, fruit, piece of cake at a party).  Dinner: pumpkin soup and cornbread.

Much & Link Love: January 10 edition

posted in: food, vegetarian, weather, winter | 0

1.  I hit something this morning, and it wasn’t my snooze alarm.

2.  I get to go to Wilmington mid-week for a 30 hour retreat from: books and computer.

3.  I had a tough week last week: but some people made it survivable!

4.  We are supposed to get snow again today. 

5.  Mocha buttercream is a fabulous way to start off a Monday morning. 

6.  I love meeting new friends.

7.  I’m already stinking at some of my January goals, but press on, right.  Never give up.

8.  I got Panera gift cards for my birthday: best gift!

9.  Bogarts butterscotch blondie: one of the best desserts in RDU!

10.  Love the prayers that God is answering.  Still praying for others.

11.  Sad.  College football ends tonight.  Will have to now wait until August for some more.  One of the saddest days of the year.

1.  How do you use your femininity?  For God’s glory or for your gain.  Convicting as always.  Truth is.

2.  Love this guy’s recipes.  I think I will stop by the store on my way home (from an early closing) to make this tonight to go with some pumpkin lentil soup from Happy Herbivore.  Perfect for a football game, writing, yoga, and warmth!

3.  Love her soothing photography and encouraging words.

4.  I already need this Girltalk post for the new year!

5.  Dr. Mohler definitely wouldn’t like this post by Abraham Piper.

New Year’s Much & Link Love (January 3)

Happy New Year!  When do you get tired of hearing that?  I usually have to wait until after my birthday, which is tomorrow.  New Years and birthdays, both great.  I used to dislike having a birthday so close to Christmas (school was out so I never got to celebrate it in school), but now I love it, because not only am I starting a new calendar year, but also a new birth year. 

1.  I had one of the best new years ever!  A friend from seminary came over to Raleigh: we cooked dinner, hung out a cool place in Cary, went to the NCMA, and watched movies.  It was low-key and wonderful.

2.  I already went away from on of my 2011 goals.  I ran in a 5k on Saturday and unfortunately left my cell phone at home so I had no interval timer.  I finished this multi-terrain, ice/mud, hills, loops race about the same time I finished my first one.  So, I wasn’t happy.  But, I did it.  And I had friends cheering me on and running with me!

3.  This is going to be a tough week and a good week.  Tough week with many things going on a work and writing kicked into high gear.  Good week because I get to have dinner on Thursday night with some of the most amazing RDU friends a girl can have, both new and old, and I’ll be missing some too because of vacations and babies.  God is good, isn’t He!

4.  Day one of clean eating went very well yesterday!  I am thankful for oranges and sweet potatoes that I don’t have to buy because of family!  Everytime I have craved nut butter or even milk or egg whites today I thought that God is sufficient for my every need and He is gracious too.  I have included seeds in this clean eating: fruits and veggies only while at home.  Seeds because I eat hummus and tahini is in it – ground sesame seeds.  I’m already thinking post-40 days to see how my diet will be altered, and see how my food-relationships/sin issues have been changed.  Thank you God for the cross!

5.  Bring on the playoffs!  Excited.  We’ll see how long my teams last.

6.  January… here we go: I’m doing the list here rather a whole new post. 

6.1: Birthday celebrating

6.2: Working out and logging milesd

6.3: Stemmerman Inn for my birthday!  Thank you Mom!

6.4: Charlotte to prepare for an upcoming women’s conference I am speaking at in March. 

6.5: Photog!

6.6: Writing and reading.  Sound familiar?

Link Love

1.  One of the coolest things I’ve heard from country music in a while – great on the gender issue too.  Go Zac Brown!

2.  With clean eating for 40 days, I’m making this soup.

3.  For those of you memorizing Philippians, John Piper reciting it may spur you on!

4.  Do you already need help keeping those resolutions?  These apply to any you have made.

5.  One of the smartest guys I know, and do ministry with, gives his list of best reads of 2010.  And he read a lot more than this. 

6.  Some great sermons and talks about keeping resolutions

7.  After taking off most of 2010, John Piper returns and tells all what God taught him and Noel from their leave of absence.  Good stuff.

8.  Also, if you have never memorized long passages of Scripture, here are some quality sermons from Andy Davis and John Piper to help you out and to see the benefit of it. 

9.  If you still need help picking which Bible reading plan to do for 2011, go here.  Justin lays a lot of them out for you.  I am doing Elevate’s B90X from last year, just multiplying it times 3 with some breather days in there. 

10.  Her photos are inspiring.


Recipe coming soon!

Taste of Raleigh: El Rodeo

posted in: vegetarian | 1

Went to lunch with some co-workers today to really talk about children’s ministry – and you can definitely talk for a while over chips and salsa.
We went to a place across the street from the church called El Rodeo (no www). Typical mexican place – nicer ambience than some other local places.
Liked our waiter – he was very nice. The food came out in about 6 minutes – really – we were surprised at how fast it was. We went a little after 11am and were the first ones there, but by the time we left about 1240 it was more full.
I got the sincronizada – a vegetarian tortilla sandwich: mushroom, onion, pepper, jalepenos, and cheese – with sliced avocado on top. My mouth was on fire but it was absolutely wonderful! I loved it. 6.75 got me that, a huge portion of rice (which wasn’t anything to rave about and I only took a few bites), chips (again, blah chips) and salsa (I really liked their salsa).
So…good to know there is a good place close by – but I’ll still be looking for good Mexican places in the area!