Cooking

Snacks on snacks

I live my life in a continual state of hunger. I really don’t understand people that forget to eat. How in the world did you FORGET to eat lunch/breakfast/etc?? All I do all day is think about the next thing I’m going to eat and patiently wait for that time to come. For instance, I just had a snack and I can’t wait until 11am when I feel like it is socially expectable to have lunch. I’m going to tear up some left over spaghetti and meat sauce. I may even throw in a side salad, welcome to the Olive Garden.

I really try to stay healthy(ish) when it comes to snacking. Popcorn, hummus, apples, grapes, toast and jam… My latest love is my quick fake-out deviled eggs. They are SO good and they take away my ravaging hunger for a while. I take a hard boiled egg and cut it in half. Smear on just a tiny bit of Olive oil mayonnaise (because I guess the olive oil kind is better for you?) then I sprinkle on a little bit of my favorite – Trader Joe’s Everything but the Bagel Seasoning. That stuff is what dreams are made of. I always keep boiled eggs on hand, they are a family favorite. We even peel them and bring them in the cooler on road trips. Protein on the go!

Life

Jitter Glitter

First day chalkboard #schoolchalkboard

My baby child has started kindergarten and it is giving me all the feels. I can’t believe she is gone ALL day long at school. My house is cleaner than its been since she arrived 5.5 years ago, though. Her sweet teacher gave her a little bag of glitter to put under her pillow before the first day of school. I needed that glitter more than her. I’ve already messed up pick up and drop off protocol and so far, my stomach has been upset every morning I’ve had to drop her off. Maybe I should put some Imodium under my pillow. I hope she continues to pop out of bed excited to learn. It’s the most bittersweet experience.

Now I have to find ways to fill up my days that don’t completely revolve around house work. Otherwise, I’m going to lose my friggin mind. I’ve already signed up to volunteer at my church once a week. I’m considering becoming an “assistant” room parent, which is probably going to be a mistake but you live and you learn!

Life

Information overload

Information overload on AmandaLynEmporium.comWell, I think I’ve managed to succumb to my third failed attempt at blogging. I always seem to come out of the gate so hot and then fizzle out like yesterday’s birthday candles. I begin to think I have nothing interesting to say, my photographs aren’t professional enough, or there’s no one listening so why even bother.

I spend the majority of my day trying to soak in so much information to try and do better or be better that I am leaving myself and my identity behind, I think. Information overload. And it’s so easy nowadays with the internet, you just slowly fall down a rabbit hole of words and pictures and the next thing you know you’ve done absolutely nothing that you really want to accomplish. And it’s not just the web. Books and magazines can be found in every room of my house. I could literally go to Barnes and Nobles every single day.

I’ve come to the conclusion I need to just write. I need to take a moment, turn off the noise and just get it on paper (or screen). My husband says my tv watching commentary is reality tv worthy. Sometimes things come out of my mouth so much I crack myself up along with him.

I also need to narrow down some of my passions. I literally have too many hobbies. I’m not talking about deciding to try something new, buying the necessary gear, and just doing it once. These are things I continue to rotate around, becoming mediocre at tons of skills and mastering none. Here’s the short list:

  • Guitar/ukulele
  • Painting
  • Writing
  • Photography
  • Needle point
  • Sewing
  • Gardening
  • Illustration
  • Quilting
  • Utilizing essential oils
  • Recipe creation
  • Hand lettering

Fear not, this isn’t some self loathing, woe is me type of post. It’s an epiphany! I’m unfocused. I’m too consumed with what’s going on around me to notice what’s going on inside me. That doesn’t mean that I still won’t have twelve hundred hobbies, but I am going to make an effort to focus and turn off the noise.

Make time to make.

Write what I think.

Be inspired.

Life

5th Birthday Trip Recap

We celebrated my baby’s (m.y. b.a.b.y.) 5 birthday last week. I cannot even believe she is “school age” now. It just doesn’t seem possible. I am both heart broken and excited all at the same time. I have been stressing about school options and testing this whole week and I am deciding to chill out about it. I do not want to be one of those moms. She will go where she goes and she will be fine. So on to the fun stuff!

5th birthday trip recap on AmandaLynEmporium.com

We opted to take a small family vacation to celebrate this milestone for her instead of throwing a party at our house or renting out a place. Stressful and expensive! Plus, her birthday is exactly one month out from Christmas day so we are over gifts and entertaining at that point anyway.
5th birthday trip recap on AmandaLynEmporium.com

We rented a little cabin in Gatlinburg, next door to the Great Smoky Mountains. A favorite (and close) destination for our family. We all really love the outdoors, wild life and hiking so this is the perfect place to be. The little one can’t make it to terribly far on a hike as or yet (only about 2 – 3 easy miles), so we took her on some smaller walks and her daddy and I were able to do a more strenuous hike on Friday up the AT to a lookout referred to as “The Jump Offs”. Its about 6 miles round trip and the view is definitely worth it.

5th birthday trip recap on AmandaLynEmporium.com

*I have on 900 layers of clothes because it was freezing up on that mountain top!

We can’t wait to find another excuse to head back over there. Maybe sometime this summer when we can take advantage of some river fun. Maybe some fishing or a short tube float?

5th birthday trip recap on AmandaLynEmporium.com

Till next time Great Smoky’s! And a VERY happy birthday to my baby girl!

Cooking

3 Minute Instant Pot Salmon

It’s official, I’m in love… with my Instant Pot. I know it’s a new love and i should check back in after six months to a year, but so far I.Am.Smitten. I’ve read the two books I bought for my Instant Pot cover to cover, and I really think I can cook just about anything in this crazy device. Tonight, I cooked a family favorite, salmon. We love salmon and try to eat it every week if I’m able to find a good cut. (Tip: always smell your fish. It should NOT smell fishy. If it does, it will taste fishy). So for this recipe, I cooked the fish along with some broccoli. I will admit, the broccoli was a little soft for me, but not terrible.

3 Minute Instant Pot Salmon on AmandaLynEmporium.com

I used the little tray that came with my Instant Pot to put the salmon on, seasoned it with an all purpose seasoning (it would be perfect even with just salt and pepper), and set it a top 1 cup of water.

3 Minute Instant Pot Salmon on AmandaLynEmporium.com

Then I used my steamer basket and set it right on top of the salmon and filled it with my broccoli.

3 Minute Instant Pot Salmon on AmandaLynEmporium.com

I didn’t season the broccoli, I waiting and dumped the cooked broccoli into a bowl and seasoned with Trader Joe’s Onion Salt and some grated Parmesan cheese.

3 Minute Instant Pot Salmon on AmandaLynEmporium.com

Set the pot to Pressure cook, medium and I did mine for 3 minutes. The salmon was maybe the best I have ever made. It seriously came out so perfect. I was both pleased and surprised.

3 Minute Instant Pot Salmon on AmandaLynEmporium.com

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I’m excited to experiment more with salmon and different meats in the pot and also figuring out cooking times with more one pot dishes, but this was a definite success!

Holidays, Life

Grey winter days

I am so ready for spring now that the holidays are over. Taking down all the decorations really make me sad. All the colorful lights and the fresh smelling tree with all it’s brilliant decorations. Sigh. Especially here in the south, it is so gloomy in the winter time. It will be super cold and not snow, or it will warm up and rain. (go home mother nature, your drunk). Instead of pining for warmer (see also sunny) weather, I’m focusing my attention on the next decorate-able holiday, Valentines!

Grey winter days on AmandaLynEmporium.com

I actually do not have that many Valentine decorations, but I am going to try and remedy that this year. I’ve been browsing Pinterest and looking through magazines. There’s no rule that says I am not allowed to over do it for all the holidays. Currently, I am making poms. Not sure yet what I am going to do, but when I do know – I will have a crap ton of poms waiting in the wings.

Happy Friday Eve!

Cooking

Instant Pot – here goes nothing

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Soo… I broke down and bought an Instant Pot. I know that I am a little late to the game, I actually bought it for myself after Christmas since the new ones have gone on sale. I am both scared and excited to use it. I REALLY hope I don’t blow my face off trying to make some beef stew.

I’ve been scouring Pinterest for any and every Instant Pot recipe that I can find. I even added a new board to my already overloaded account JUST for Instant Pot recipes. I also ran out to the bookstore and bought these two books. They are both really good. If I had to pick one, it would be “How to Instant Pot”. Very informative and shows you how to translate your crockpot meals to pressure cooker meals thereby cutting the time in a third! Yay!

Instant Pot - here goes nothing on AmandaLynEmporium.com

I haven’t yet cooked anything in it, but I wanted to share a few links to some recipes that I am particularly stoked to get started on.

  1. Beef Stew (always a favorite)
  2. French Dip (this looks insane.)
  3. Chicken Taco bowls (I love anything with the word “bowl” in it)
  4. 10 Minute Baked Potato Soup (did someone say 10 minutes?)
  5. Brisket Sliders (shut the front door)
  6. Mac and Cheese (for the kids, right?)
  7. Beef Gyros (I’m so hungry right now)
Holidays

Holiday recap

Wow. The holidays came and went in the blink of an eye! We managed to cram in tons of festive fun this year. I always seem to wish that we had done more, but there is definitely a fine line between stressful cramming and enjoying the holidays.

Holiday recap on AmandaLynEmporium.com

One family tradition we always make time for is to go walk around and look at the lights at Opryland hotel in Nashville. I have been going since I was a little girl and it’s something special to pass along to my daughter.

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Holiday recap on AmandaLynEmporium.com

Holiday recap on AmandaLynEmporium.com

I was lucky to win a drawing for 4 tickets to the Nashville Nutcracker. It has seriously been a dream of mine to go to the ballet for the Nutcracker and this year that dream came true! It was beautiful. Mallory fell asleep during my favorite part (the dance of the sugar plum ferry), but maybe we can go again one year when she is older.

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Until next year, I’m shoving this little guy in a vase on the mantle and loving every day of NOT having to remember to move him. Not to mention cursing all the parents of her preschool friends who go “above and beyond” with elfin scenarios. Till next year Mr. Jinx.

Holiday recap on AmandaLynEmporium.com

Holidays

Halloween week

What a great Halloween week this has been. My little one is at such a fun age for the holidays this year. She was BEYOND excited for Halloween and all that it entails. I really wish we would have done more, but there is always next year.

Halloween week on AmandaLynEmporium.com

I did manage to go all annoying Pinterest mom on her lunch for preschool that day. It really didn’t take that long to do, and she thought it was the ultimate.

Halloween lunch box idea

She is, of course, past the years of me getting to choose her halloween costume. But, I was happy that she picked something that we could make for her together. She wanted to be a tiger, so I went online and got her some orange pajamas. Then we got some black fabric paint for the stripes. I outlined the stripes and let her paint them all in. She was really proud of helping make her costume.

Halloween week on AmandaLynEmporium.com

I got lucky and found the paws and ears headband at T.J. Maxx for $8. Her tail was just a piece of felt that we painted and I sewed on, and I also sewed on her felt belly. I think it all turned out adorable and we really didn’t spend that much time or money on it all.

Trick-or-treating house

Note to self: next year, buy a smoke machine. This house they trick-or-treated was so cool. It also makes for epic halloween photos. Spooky!

Now on to the mad rush of the holiday season! Somebody pour me some wine…

Books

Books, books, books.

I LOVE to read. I love to buy books, collect books, I love ebooks… I get more excited about what books I am going to take on a trip or vacation than I do anything. My dream would be to have a little independent bookstore on a little city square. Every time we travel somewhere, I have to stop in any little bookstore I see. I just can’t help myself. I set a goal for myself this year of a certain number of books to read, and I surpassed that at the beginning of October. I’m a big fan of GoodReads. They have a website and an app that helps you keep up with what and when you read, and also keeps a list of books that you intend to read later. I was happy to see they offered a widget that I could ad to the side bar of this site to share the last few books that I read, along with my personal rating. I’ve read some pretty goods ones lately. Here are a few of my favorites:

 

Gift from the Sea

Gift from the Sea by Anne Lindbergh. It is a beautifully written little book of advice and reflection from a trip she took by herself to the Gulf coast of Florida. Each chapter starts with a shell she has collected on her trip that she ties into life and experiences. It was first published in 1955, but it amazes me to see how things really haven’t changed that much when it comes to life and family.

 

Dinner with Edward

Dinner with Edward by Isabel Vincent. I just finished this book last night and I am already having withdrawals. I will definitely keep this one in my collection to read again another time. Beautifully written and so descriptive that I felt like I was at the dinners as well.

 

New Culitvate Cover _

Cultivate by Lara Casey. This book was hard to put down. Very easy to read and made some really good points about living an intentional life in a world where so much is going on and you can be pulled in so many different directions. It also made me want to go outside and garden… like right now..

 

An now I am on to “Of Mess and Moxie” by Jen Hatmaker. If you have never read one of her books, they are fantastic. She is the most real and transparent author to come along in a long while. Her books are fun, light hearted and easy to love.

Of Mess and Moxie

Check out my side bar for my latest reads. I’m always open to new book suggestions!