Avocado Chicken Salad on a Salad

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Avocado Chicken Salad on a Salad

This is a recipe that I often make on the weekend for lunch. You can change the type of salad base and/or salad dressing. For the chicken salad topping you can add, change or replace pretty much anything in it as well. If I whip it up unplanned (usually because I have a sad avocado staring at me that’s on its last legs) I’ve even used dried basil in a pinch. This is primarily why I love this recipe, it is a great way to use up a ripe avocado! I could imagine swapping the walnuts for other nuts or seeds (I want to try pumpkin or sunflower seeds), using a different dried or fresh fruit (dried currants or cranberries) and even trying a lime instead of lemon. Anything goes with this recipe! The mashed avocado replaces the typical mayonnaise you would find in a tuna or regular chicken salad.

A word on avocados…the past few years I have been into avocados but always know it is so hard to have them perfectly ripe on the exact day I am using one. We (try to) grocery shop once a week so if available I buy avocados in different stages of ripeness to use one every 3 days or so. On average one goes to waste every few weeks but this method is usually great if the grocery store has variety. If the grocery store has hard green avocados I skip using them until the end of the week and just let them ripen. This avoids the dark spots that come with people squeezing and testing them out at the grocery store. If they are bought hardened you almost never will find them bruised inside so it is definitely the way to go. I leave them out in a bowl on my counter to ripen.

 

Avocado Chicken Salad Recipe

Ingredients

1 ripe avocado

1/2 lemon (use more depending on ripeness)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

2 cups cooked chopped chicken (season however you would like)

handful chopped dates

small handful cup chopped walnuts

few pinches of garlic salt

ground black pepper

 Directions

  1. Season & grill chicken either on an indoor grill or BBQ. Make sure chicken has cooled down before adding to the avocado mixture.
  2. Mash avocado in a mixing bowl. Squeeze lemon on top. Add basil, chicken, dates, walnuts, garlic salt & pepper and mix well.

Makes 2-3 servings, add extra lemon to store in the fridge for a day

 

Basic Caesar Salad

This salad is so basic it’s almost silly to even list, but I have a few tips & ideas for it so I wanted to share! I didn’t go over the quantities of each ingredient because it really is to each person’s taste.

My best tip is to ‘water down,’ a dressing. Whether it be a creamy dressing or a vinaigrette I do the same for both. This is so the salad mixes easier without having to use more dressing all the while keeping the calories down. I always bust out a measuring spoon and use a tablespoon of dressing and then ‘water it down,’ using freshly squeezed lemon or balsamic vinegar. Years ago I started doing this and just got so used to it that I can’t have it any other way. A freshly squeezed lemon is the most amazing addition to any salad! I am lemon obsessed and it’s a bit of a problem when they get expensive to buy in the winter. I use them in cold and hot water to drink, salads, marinades you name it. I got my first Costco card this year and pretty much go there for the lemons, they are a great price point and are usually superior in quality!

I’ve also gotten into buying aged parmesan (usually 30 months). It completely changes a typical caesar salad into a restaurant quality salad by adding so much more flavor. I used to use a rotary grater but found mine has gotten dull over time. I just started using my electric mini chopper and you can do quite a bit at once, store it in the fridge, and it still has the ‘freshly grated,’ smell and taste for several weeks.

I really like Newman’s Own Parmesan & Roasted Garlic Dressing. It’s a vinaigrette and when you add lemon or balsamic it comes alive, but in the spirit of keeping it real I like it because it is caesar in nature, sans the anchovies.

 

Basic Caesar Salad Recipe

Ingredients

romaine lettuce, torn into bite sized pieces

Newman’s Own Parmesan & Roasted Garlic Dressing

fresh lemon juice or balsamic vinegar

freshly grated aged parmesan

freshly ground pepper

Directions

Of course just toss all together! I do want to add that I count my tosses and do about 25 to make sure everything is mixed really well (a little Martha tip from years ago)!

 

Hope you enjoy this recipe, let me know of any twists you put on it, I’m interested in how many ways this dish can be changed!

Lv, Julie♥

 

 

 

 

 

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Creating a Wellness Bedside Table Tray

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I wanted to share a bit about what I’ve created for a bedside table tray to help with a new sleep routine! I’ve never been a great sleeper, even when I was younger I was never an amazing sleeper. In recent years I’ve had bouts of insomnia. It is pretty frustrating when you want to sleep so badly but just can’t. I’ve made a commitment to find ways to combat this. I’ve had sleepless nights for many reasons from not being able to shut my mind off, stressful times in my life and just simply drinking a late afternoon coffee. I’ve tried a lot of things but have never wanted to take a sleeping pill. What has worked the best is creating a night time routine centered on clearing my mind and finding calmness. I set out to create an environment conducive to my new routine that reflects the mindset I want to be in before I go to bed. When I look at my bedside table I remember my intention-I specifically placed these items here to create a peaceful atmosphere and provide tools for myself with this purpose. I find just looking at the tray even when I don’t need help sleeping reminds me to keep up with the routine.

 

My routine is as follows. First I do a bit to help my skin feel better the next day (I have dry skin) making sure to moisturize. Following this (as of the new year) I have been meditating for 10 minutes using an app on my phone. I have talked more on this on a previous post which can be read here. If I can’t sleep I use my earphones (so I don’t wake up my husband) to try a bit more meditation or listen to a podcast. If I really have trouble I’ve found using a ‘sleep,’ essential oil really helps.

Organizing my tray by adding some pretty objects along with some healing/wellness items has helped to create a little vignette that is focused on having a calm night’s sleep. It’s also the first thing I look at in the morning which symbolizes the intention of making my day great.

Here’s a little more info on what’s on my tray…

1.) Healing Crystals & Stones-Some may believe in them or not believe, but I’ve been giving these little guys a chance. If anything, they bring a beautiful part of nature inside. Thought to have metaphysical values, having them close by can provide healing effects. In this little dish I have quartz, rose quartz, amethyst, pyrite and green calcite.

2.) Moisturizers-I have very dry skin, if I don’t moisturize at night I feel it the next day.

3.) Brass four-leafed clover-Lets be real, this is just pretty. Having things that are aesthetically pleasing makes you feel good! I got it for Christmas and it’s from Indigo.

4.) Wedgwood ring holder-Just pretty again! I was amazed when I found it at an antique shop. Is there a more beautiful place to put your rings?

5.) Lip balm & Sleep Oil-I try to find organic lip balms that work well, the search is always on for the best one! The sleep oil is ‘Sleep 18,’ by ‘21 Drops.’ The instructions say to breathe it in and then put it on your forehead, wrists & neck. It really works!

6.) Apple iPhone EarPods-To meditate these really shut out all outside noise, I use calming music from my phone or an app for guided meditation.

7.) Coaster-Just pretty again! This one is from Anthropologie and I’ll reiterate, the things you find beautiful can’t be overlooked, the sight of some of these things can give you a little boost and create a fun-loving and familiar space!

 

 

Since creating this routine I’ve found to have a healthier sleep pattern. Putting in a conscious daily effort to combat sleep issues makes the world of difference! The bedside table tray has helped with this and was fun to create! Let me know any ideas you have found to help for a good nights sleep!

Lv, Julie♥

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Our Wedding: Outdoor Details

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To finish my series of wedding posts I am sharing some of the outdoor details from the ceremony and wedding site. You can read through all of my back to back wedding posts to find out more about the day starting here.

I’ve talked so much about how lucky we were with the weather and from the photo below you can really see how nice the day turned out. There was a nice breeze off Lake Ontario and the grounds are covered with mature trees, making the whole day feel very comfortable.

 

While getting ready we had a nice view of the lake from our bridal suite. I loved looking at all the sailboats passing by throughout the day.

 

I painted a wooden sign to put at the entrance to the driveway for the day of. I found the site was not an easy location to find as it was on a busy street. I had passed by it a few times trying to locate it myself so I can’t imagine trying to find it the day of!

 

I found an unfinished wooden arrow sign at Michaels craft store. Sold in the same section were wooden posts that we glued and nailed to the back. I painted it a minty green with a metallic gold trim and painted the lettering using a Martha Stewart cursive stencilling kit. I used basic acrylic paint and made sure to lacquer spray a nice clear finish on the top to protect it.

 

For the wedding programs we did a fan style in case it was a really hot day! The program itself is on the reverse side of the photo below. I really wanted to provide something fun for the guests to do while waiting at the ceremony site. I have always enjoyed doing the ‘Jumble,’ inside The Toronto Star newspaper. I set out to find a wedding themed version and located one in a ‘Jumble,’ book that I found at Indigo.  With some graphics help I found a way to make the background pink, size it properly and add the logo. We found the pink golf pencils online and I made sure to get them with erasers just so the bakers twine had the metal grip to better attach to and not slip off. We found the little wooden paddles at Creative Bag and sprayed them gold. The program was glued together with the paddle in the middle! I really loved how they looked and thought it provided a bit of an activity while waiting.

 

It was special to have four ring bearers, all siblings be a part of our bridal party! I wanted to make sure they each had a little job. Two held the ‘here comes the bride,’ sign on either end and then two each held a ring pillow. It was a pretty cute scene!

 

I found this sign at BHLDN and thought it was beyond perfect for the ceremony. It was in my exact colors (it even had some gold metallic thread detailing) and had an old-fashioned feeling. On the reverse side is written ‘Just Married,’ which the boys switched to for the walk back up the aisle. This is definitely an item I have kept as a keepsake!

 

We made these pillows in the seersucker fabric I found online that was used for wrapping our tree favors and added a pom-pom trim. The ring bearers had little pink and white seersucker bow ties that I found on Etsy which looked really cute and tied it all together!

 

At the ceremony site there wasn’t a walkway to the seating area and I thought it would be nice to define some sort of pathway. I also knew because of the steps on the aisle at the site I couldn’t have an aisle runner. On Pinterest I saw a few ideas of people who put chalk or plastic decal markers right on the ground to guide people to their wedding sites and used it as an opportunity to tell their story, with each marker having a different piece of their story written out.

What I created I sort of viewed as a preliminary aisle and thought it would be nice to put the story that led us to this day on wooden markers. It was quite a bit of detail work to paint all five markers and I’ll be honest I almost didn’t use them. I was worried it was too sappy and sentimental for most people. In the end one of my bridesmaids reminded me it was a wedding and she had such a great reaction I felt silly for ever thinking not to use them (I’m an overly sentimental person)! It really set the tone for the wedding giving people an interesting timeline of our relationship.

 

In the photos below are some small ceremony details! I really like this photo of the calm before the ceremony, it was a really beautiful spot to get married!

 

Our pew arrangements were pretty cute with lots of trailing ribbon in hanging mercury glass vases!

 

 

We did a hand-fasting ceremony and I made a sash for it that was pretty unique. I found 12′ tartan squares online and ordered several from our ancestors family names. I took it a step further, and (not pictured here) ironed on patches from each country our families immigrated from. It was a nice connection to our past!

 

 

I am really happy I found these vow books so that we could keep them as a keepsake. It was a nice touch and there was no way I would have remembered my own written vows!

 

I love this photo! It’s at home a day after the wedding! I really recommend waiting a week or two before going on a honeymoon. We were really able to come down after all of the festivities, rest and reflect. I finished all of my thank-yous and got my dress in to be cleaned and took care of unpacking all of the decor. It was fun to bring all the extra flowers home and really enjoy them. I set up a little tablescape and made a nice dinner and we really had a chance to enjoy some of the details just the two of us!

Wow, this has been a fun little step back in time! I’m glad I found a way to divide all of the decor photos into several different posts. When I began this month long series I was a bit overwhelmed as to how I would do that! I wanted to post some of my wedding photos as I feel a blog is somewhat a story or snapshot of your life. The wedding was already over a year and a half ago so I thought getting it up a few months into the birth of the blog helps to begin my story and define an important event in my life. I’m excited to get back to ‘real time,’ because I have so many ideas- too many that I have started to have to write them all down!

Lv, Julie♥

 

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Our Wedding: Indoor Details

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This week I’m continuing with my wedding theme that I have been sharing this past month! I am writing about all of the ideas and decor from the inside reception area of my wedding!

When thinking of a guest book I wanted something unique. Most people are finding alternatives to using a book as they typically just sit on a shelf and aren’t as likely to be looked at as the wedding photo album. Since I like my tablescapes so much I thought of doing a table runner so that I could use it on an anniversary and reflect back on the day. I also remembered my grandma’s friend having a beautiful tablecloth she used from a club they all belonged to. I will never forget seeing it, all members signed the tablecloth in pen and one woman back stitched over the names in embroidery thread. I always loved how it looked and thought the idea was so unique! I found a white table runner and researched how to stiffen it so that it wouldn’t bunch when people were writing. I ended up using a method where you iron on freezer paper to the back and it worked great. I made sure to put our names and wedding date in the middle in larger lettering so that people knew they really could write anywhere, that we had already included those details. I had my mom and a few family members write their well wishes the morning of, so that people would see exactly what to do, and not be afraid to go for it and write on the fabric! It turned out amazing and is a real keepsake for years to come.

 

For our card box, I bought a wooden box at BHLDN. It wasn’t too big and had a key shaped opening at the top which looked cute. I decorated it a bit with ribbon and pom-pom trim. Its a great size to store all of the shower and wedding cards in it as a keepsake.

 

We had a candy station at the wedding and it was fun to stick to the color theme with all of the decor and candy. I made some bunting for the table in the same seersucker fabric used to wrap the favors and make the ring bearer pillows.

 

 

To honor our grandparents that were not at our wedding we displayed their photos on a table in the venue. Looking at them before and during the wedding brought back so many great memories.

 

Here is a close up of our table centerpieces. I wanted lots of color and went to a flower wholesaler to look around and get ideas. I really suggest this as it gives you a sense of what you like from seeing a broad range of color and variety. A flower shop cannot hold a wide inventory and they stock typically what they know can fill their orders for the week. Its important to be looking not only for flowers but for the filler flowers and greenery that can make any floral choice fit a particular theme. I fell in love with the garden roses used throughout the wedding when I first saw them. For the arrangement our florist used Sarah Bernhardt peonies, O’Hara garden roses, coolwater and lavender roses, queen anne’s lace, pink rice flower, peach hypericum berries and boston fern.

 

For the menus I really liked the idea of printing them on a round piece of card stock, this is a more expensive option, so I set out to make them on my own. I researched many ways to get the size needed for underneath the rented charger plates. I tried to finding a circle cutter, pre-cut card-stock and even considered hand-cutting them all on my own. I was lucky a family contact who worked for a publisher was able to print them for us as a favor. This made for a really nice touch as the guests could refer to it throughout the night and see what they were being served next!

 

We decided to fold our napkins so I wanted a little accent to go on top. I had been thinking of using rough-cut crystals to continue the enchanted forest theme and thought this was a perfect tie-in. I set out to find them in our colors and went to a rock wholesaler just outside of Toronto called Stonebridge Imports. I found these which are green calcite and included rose quartz stones on every other seat to fit in with the color scheme.

 

My table numbers were a nod to a terrarium in a little cloche. I made them on antique plates and used moss, lichen, crystals and little details to make it look like a miniature forest. I made miniature Ontario road signs that had names of the lakes that are special to us as a couple or in our family. I sourced stick on numbers online and tied a bow at the top. These were definitely a bit different but I really was thinking about my childhood cottage here and it was just a whimsical element that I enjoyed making.

 

For my favors I had always envisioned having tree saplings. I found Pineneedle Farms, who specialize in these little trees for weddings. I decided to get them with just a cellophane wrap at the bottom so I could decorate them myself. I wrapped them in green, pink and purple seersucker fabric and tied them with corresponding bakers twine. I made a little tag and put a little thank-you on one side and care instructions on the other. 

 

In writing this post I’m reflecting on how much work went into these little details and how many people helped to make it come together. The planning was such a creative process and I really enjoyed the design and crafting elements.

Next up I’ll be sharing some of the ‘outdoor,’ details!

Lv, Julie♥

 

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