Retreat Planning and Wendy’s Fresh Salads

Wendy's Fresh Salads are a great quick lunch option. #BeyondTheBowl #CleverGirls #ad


I never ever thought that I would be someone who can’t find the time to eat. I love food and I hate to be hungry. But over the last few months, I have found myself missing lunch. It is always on super busy days of shuttling kids around or trying to get in a photo shoot for the blog that I find it hard to take the time to stop and eat. But I’ve also noticed something else. Where, in a jam, I used to be able to eat chips and call it lunch on those busy days, now I am resisting those empty calories. Am I growing up? Maybe a little. Or maybe it is because summer is coming up and I’d like to still be able to fit in to my clothes. And I’ve totally been craving salads lately. I never thought I’d find a decent, fresh salad from a fast food joint! But I did!

A better fast food option, Wendy's Fresh Salads. SO good! #BeyondTheBowl #CleverGirls #adAbout once a week, I pack up all the things I need for photo shoots, and head to Lauren’s house where we work together to hammer out posts for both of our blogs. If we’re lucky, one of us has to shoot a recipe that we can eat for lunch, but last week I needed to grab us a quick lunch on my way over. Have you heard about Wendy’s fresh salads?! OMG! They were so good. And a lot of chains claim to have fresh salads (wherein they use fresh, but then frozen items, which are then shipped to the locations to be assembled on site), these are legit fresh. Like, they cut heads of lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes and more, each morning for their salads. And the white meat chicken actually looks and tastes like chicken and is made to order when you order a salad. They make the salad from start to finish, at each Wendy’s, as if you would if you were making it for yourself at home. P.S. Wendy’s does not condone smoking. Especially smoking cats. (How hilarious is that shirt?!)

Wendy's Asian Cashew Chicken Salad. A fast, healthy lunch choice. #BeyondTheBowl #CleverGirls #adIt has come time for us to start planning our end of summer retreat for creatives and so we decided to make it a working lunch picnic. Our retreat is always in Palm Springs. And when Coachella rolls around, it is our reminder that we need to get planning. It is a total bucket list item to go to Coachella. Maybe next year we will begin our planning in between sets…a girl can dream, can’t she?

I need to be honest here. I am a fast food lover. I feel like it isn’t trendy to say that but I love a good hamburger/fries/soda combo from time to time. But I wouldn’t have even thought to order a salad. A bad salad is just plain awful. But look at those fresh veggies! They are crisp, not soggy, bright in color instead of not right looking. And that perfectly grilled chicken was so good! Check out this video which follows the romaine lettuce as it is picked in the farm to when it ends up in your Wendy’s salad. Pretty cool. They will be releasing more videos in this series sharing just how fresh the salads are. And for when I’m really trying to eat cleaner, I can skip the dressing and use just a squeeze of lime or lemon. Which will be a really hard switch since the BBQ Ranch dressing was so tasty.

Creative planning picnic. #BeyondTheBowl #CleverGirls #adThere are 5 different salads to choose from. Lauren tried the Asian Cashew Chicken Salad and I did the BBQ Ranch Chicken Salad. Because Applewood bacon and ranch. Yum. We talked about how we want to make our retreat a little bit different this year and set to work showing each other some visual inspiration we had gathered which will guide the look of our creative weekend in Palm Springs. If we couldn’t actually be in the desert, at least we really enjoyed our picnic lunch out in the sunshine. And I am sure if I had put the salad in to a real bowl, Lauren wouldn’t have known it wasn’t a homemade salad, which can’t be said for all fast food salads.

#campmixalot Pool Balloon BannerOur retreats include lots of pool time so you know a salad is the perfect lunch idea…You can see more about year 1 of our retreat and year 2 here and here. Want to come? Let us know here.

Backyard business planning with fresh Wendy's salads. #BeyondTheBowl #CleverGirls #adBeing able to grab a healthy, fresh lunch fast was awesome. Instead of focusing on what we were going to make, we could eat something prepared fresh for us and hash out plans for the retreat. Our retreats have a distinctive look each year and they also have a specific sound. I’m not sure the participants would even pick up on that but for me, a good playlist or even one great song, can really share the vibe I’m going for like nothing else. We brought the music out to our picnic so we could start to dial in what the weekend will feel like. So basically, we brought Coachella to us.

Easy summer picnic with fresh salads. And a little wine. #BeyondTheBowl #CleverGirls #adAnd since this was Friday, and we had a bottle of wine open for one of our shoots, we brought a little out for our picnic. For a minute, it felt like we were not in the middle of a work day but hanging out in the desert. Thanks, Wendy’s!  (Please drink responsibly. Wine is not sold at Wendy’s.) And I’m really excited to have a new go-to lunch option in these salads (I’m going to try the Apple Pecan Chicken salad next!). No more missing lunch because I can’t find something good to eat!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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Tillamookies + Fave Links

New Tillamookies ice cream cookie sandwiches from Tillamook. So good! How delicious do these look? They taste it too! Tillamook sent me some of their new ice cream sandwiches, Tillamookies, to try out over the weekend. They each have chocolate coated waffle cookies to sandwich Tillamook’s delicious, creamy ice cream in the middle. The cookie is so crisp! These are best eaten straight out of the freezer. My youngest and I did a tasting of all four flavors at once, on a 90 degree day, and as they get softer, they start to squish out making them a bit messier, but no less tasty.

New Tillamookies ice cream cookie sandwiches from Tillamook. So good! I’m not usually a plain vanilla or strawberry ice cream fan but those were my two favorite flavors! In fact, 3/4 of our family fought over the last strawberry Tillamookies. My youngest won. Look for these in your grocery store! Thank you for sending them, Tillamook!

Here is what else I’m in to this week:

In case you missed it, my kids were interviewed over on Babble on how they would make over our house…

Are you guys shopping Paper Crush? Their stuff is super cute and it’s the first place I go for holiday themed decor and party goods!

I know St. Patrick’s Day is over now (did you get pinched?!) but I love this green party, especially the large honeycomb garland!

This post is almost a year old but I still want to live in this moon party. Scroll all the way to the end and she has some downloads for you!

It might be time to start thinking about a creative retreat for this summer. Who wants to come. Here’s what Lauren and I did last year.

OH! and I dyed my hair magenta and purple last weekend. On an interesting side note, posting this photo to facebook made me lose 40 followers. My hair and I are not taking it personally.

Have a great weekend!

Holiday Entertaining with Beaujolais Nouveau

Fun holiday table. #spon #CelebrateBNThis post was sponsored on behalf of Georges Duboeuf and One2One Network. All opinions stated are my own.

Some years I feel like decorating with untraditional colors. But right now, I’m totally into the classic red and green. Although I am not planning on having any holiday parties this year, I’m sure something will pop up more last-minute. With just a little greenery and hints of gold, I’m going to be ready for any guests that turn up. This post was created to celebrate Beaujolais Nouveau. Have you ever had it?

A fun holiday table and entertaining ideas. #spon #CelebrateBNAside from having good food for your holiday guests, it’s always good to have some delicious beverages as well. And I always love when there is something a little extra exciting that you can share with your guests that they may not have experienced before. If you don’t know, every year, under French law, at 12:01 on the third Thursday in November, Beaujolais Nouveau wine is released. The first time I heard about this was almost 15 years ago. I wasn’t even a wine drinker back then. But when I heard that you couldn’t get the wine until that third Thursday, which often coincides with Thanksgiving, I knew I had to track down a bottle. It seemed so extraordinary.  I called around to ask who would carry it and headed out, to pick up a bottle for our Thanksgiving meal. The fruity, easy-to-drink wine’s light fermentation means that both red and white wine lovers should enjoy it.  Which makes it just right for holiday celebrations. And you drink it slightly chilled (just 15 minutes in the fridge prior to drinking), which makes it a little more unusual for a red wine. It was exciting to get to try something that had just been released! Most of your guests will probably not know about this celebratory wine. So you can be the first to share it with them and be part of that memory.

Simple holiday flower arrangement. #spon #CelebrateBNGeorges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau is all about experiencing life’s simple pleasures and nature’s seasonal gifts. I decided to pair festive, berry-like branches with calla lillies and pine branches to create easy flower arrangements. They were easy to put together but really helped the table to feel more holiday festive. Something I am trying to be better about is keeping fresh flowers around. By mixing flowers bought at the market and plants from around your yard, you can create really easy centerpieces for unexpected or last-minute guests.

Holiday tablesetting with green and red, plaid and gold. Keeping it classic. #spon #CelebrateBNMy place settings include just a colorful napkin and an extra piece of greenery to add a special touch. I added candles to the table to create a glow and the table came together really fast. There is no need to get stressed out during the holidays. Now is not the time to go all out and impress everyone with your mad hosting skills. To me, now is the time to really enjoy, and be present, with your friends and family. Who cares if your silverware (stainless steel) doesn’t match the gold hues of the other accents of your table (I was totally bothered at first, I’ll be honest)? Or that your table-cloth may have a few wrinkles. If your guests feel loved in your home, you’ve done your job.

Celebrating the holidays with Beaujolais Nouveau. #spon #CelebrateBNOf course having plenty of wine doesn’t hurt either. One of my favorite things to do when putting together a last-minute spread is to set out candy. For this table, I pulled out a great glass and brass display box and filled it with candies that played up the reds in the table. People love candy. And even if you don’t have time to pull together a fantastic appetizer spread, your guests will have something to munch on.

I'm feeling traditional this year. Green and red it is!!! #spon #CelebrateBNI recently reorganized my garage and now can find all my favorite serving pieces easily. I suggest you take a moment and pull your favorite pieces together so you can easily grab them when you need to.  I keep things super causal for my family and our nightly meals. But come Christmas morning, my table looks GOOD. A footed bowl can make even store-bought crackers instantly feel more special (special crackers, you say? Yes, crackers can feel special.)

Have you ever tried Beaujolais Nouveau? It's a fun holiday tradition. #spon #CelebrateBNGeorges Duboeuf is the #1 seller of Beaujolais Nouveau and since this year’s harvest has just been released, I think this is the perfect time to invite friends over to try this delicious wine. Don’t you?

*Thank your for supporting the brands that let me be creative, drink a little wine and celebrate with my friends.

Things I Love : October, 2014

Dying over the colors on this Good Housekeeping magazine. Crap. October is over. That means that the holidays are right around the corner. Life is just moving way too fast. I’m going to make every effort to slow it down a little bit and actually enjoy the holidays this year. But for now, here is what I loved during the month of October:

Good Housekeeping NAILED it with their November cover. I never pick up this magazine but the colors really spoke to me. I’m not even a huge fan of Eva Longoria but I really loved the graphic design and so I bought it to check it out. I enjoyed the magazine and look forward to seeing what next month’s cover looks like. Maybe they are trying to young it up a bit? I love me some Erin Phraner and I know she works at the mag so…I’m going to just give her all the credit since it has a crisp clean look like her site :)

Ghostbusters Krispy Kreme donuts! When your oldest son loves Ghostbusters and Krispy Kreme puts out Ghostbusters themed donuts, you drive way far out of your way to pick up a few dozen. Not sure when they will stop selling these but I am guessing Halloween so RUN to your nearest store and buy some! They were so much fun. They also had ones that looked like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man!

I can't stop wearing this House Dress from Henry Mack. I can’t quit wearing this House Dress by Henry Mack! It’s super comfy, can be dressed up or dressed down and I love the pattern! I wore this dress 3 times in one week to all kinds of events. One to a nice dinner out sponsored by a local magazine, a fashion show and a blogger event where I paired it with comfy flats. So versatile. I’m hoping they get more prints in soon! This is def a staple in my wardrobe.  Do your kids live for a photo bomb opportunity?

He is finally out of a car seat! Look how happy that makes him! Look at that face!!! It’s pure joy because this was the day we realized that it was legal for him to ride without a car seat. He felt like a million bucks. I still have him ride with the bottom booster most of the time to ensure that he is the safest. But I now know that he can ride without one. They are growing up WAY too fast!

Just the Wine drops for neutralizing sulfites in wine which I have an intolerance to. YOU GUYS. A few years ago my doctor told me that with my allergies and history of headaches that I should probably not drink wine. My nose gets all stuffed up. I get headaches pretty much immediately and the next day can be pretty unbearable. And that can be after just one glass. I pretty much stopped drinking champagne or sparkling wine completely because of the instant headaches. But stop drinking wine altogether? Absurd. Recently, I’ve been feeling exceptionally miserable after drinking wine. So much so that one morning I woke up and decided I couldn’t drink it anymore. Luckily, a mere 5 minutes later, I was reading OC Metro and came across a story on Just the Wine. The symptoms listed in the story were pretty different from mine, but I decided to try them out anyway. I am still trying them out to see if they really help me with my wine consumption. And so far I think the answer is yes! My nose still gets stuffed up, but I’m not getting the headaches like I had been. I tried these drops in a mimosa the other day and had no headache at all! These do not prevent headaches the next day due to over consumption. You put 3 drops in your 6 ounce glass of wine and give it a stir for 20 seconds. This is basically food grade hydrogen peroxide and it neutralizes the sulfites. I even take them with me when I go out now. My husband says it looks pretty shady when I put them in my wine but I don’t care. You can read more about them here.

Self-serve Iced Coffee at Whole Foods.Somewhere along the way I started upping my daily coffee intake. But as the day goes on, I’m less inclined towards a hot cup of coffee, and turn instead to iced.  So I was super excited to see this Cold Brew set up at my local Whole Foods! I pretty much have no understanding about what the different brews are, but love that you can serve yourself. And it was delicious too! I feel like this might be the next big thing. They took out their juice bar. And while this doesn’t exactly replace that, it seems like this is where the focus has shifted. And I quite like it.

Finger Limes! I finally got to try finger limes. The inside is not like a normal lime but are like tiny little balls that are tart and crunchy and awesome. While at Whole Foods, I came across a package of Finger Limes! I had seen them in a food magazine last year and almost went so far as to order them online. I’m a lime fanatic and these sounded super interesting. But I thought it might be a little obsessive to buy limes online. When I came across the package, I FOR SURE had to try them! They smell just like a normal lime, but the insides are totally different. I took the tip of my knife and sort of scraped at the flesh and these little orbs came out. They are crunchy and tart with a limey flavor. These would be so awesome as a garnish for a cocktail or appetizer. I made my whole family try them because who knows when the next time I’m going to have finger limes again! The kids thought they were hysterical. LOVED them! If you see them, pick them up!

The first time he was able to dip his cookies in Cow's Milk! He's outgrown that allergy! This kid has had food allergies since he was one year old. This right here is the first time he has ever dipped Oreo‘s in to cow’s milk. We are so grateful that he has outgrown that allergy. He seems to be fine with eggs as well, but he still resists the foods that were harmful to him for so long. This was such a great moment for me to see him acting like a normal kid and not being afraid to try the milk. I know that over time he will learn to like eggs as well. So cool! And we’re keeping our fingers crossed about the nuts as well. Because Butterfinger.

*I’ve been making some changes to the back end of my blog and as a result I have lost my spell check! I read through this post to the best of my ability but there could very well be some errors…I don’t need to know about them. And I guess I shouldn’t rely so heavily on the spell checker, but I do! Fingers crossed I can figure out where it went!

Interactive Chocolate Tasting

It’s that time of year. There are about to be tons of holiday parties and get togethers over the course of the next 9 weekends, beginning with Halloween and going strong all the way through New Years. Many of these gatherings will be cocktail parties, where you make contact with a bunch of people but never really get to spend any quality time with any one person. Especially if you are hosting. So I really wanted to think of a way to connect with my guests should I choose to host something this year. And instead of serving a cocktail, which I know most of my regular readers are like, “Dude! That’s like your thing!” I’ve opted for a totally different beverage. Almond Milk.

Interactive chocolate tasting.Especially during the holidays, I crave time with my girlfriends. So I think a sit down dinner, for my closest pals, would be perfection. I’m not going to pretend that I would make all the food. No way, Jose. There are plenty of restaurants that put together a nice little spread that is super tasty. But my focus would really be on the dessert course. I’ve been wanting to host a really interactive dinner party for a while. You know, to get people off their phones and actually talking and working together? So I think an interactive chocolate tasting dessert course would be a wonderful idea. I mean, who doesn’t love chocolate? And while there may be (there WOULD be) wine before and during dinner, dessert is going a different direction.

Set up a chocolate tasting for the dessert course of your next dinner party.To demonstrate how this chocolate tasting would work I picked up four different flavors of chocolate from Whole Foods (Hey chocolate lovers – Whole Foods has a ridiculous selection of chocolates. Just maybe refinance your house before you go…). Instead of making sure each person gets a piece of each flavor, each guest would have only one flavor of chocolate at their place setting. Then the guests would have to ask each other for their chocolate in order to taste them all. And only the host would know the flavors so the guests will have to talk to figure out what flavors are present. You guys, they make the weirdest flavors of chocolate bars now a days. This isn’t ground breaking, I realize, but sometimes we just need to be reminded to interact with people. Consider making a no-phones-at-the-table policy. And just think of how funny this could get. I mean, who would even guess that there were Pop Rocks in your chocolate bar?!

Silk Almond Milk for a dinner party. #sponThe perfect drink to serve with the chocolates is Silk Almond Milk. I went with the Unsweetened version but Vanilla would also work well. In fact, I know some people prefer the Vanilla over the Unsweetened because it adds a touch of sweetness to it. Since I don’t like sweet beverages (which us supes weird because I have the biggest sweet tooth ever, I prefer the Unsweetened. Over the summer I did this “cleanse” diet before my trip to Mexico. It wasn’t a typical cleanse, more of a really paired down diet of mostly roughage to clean out your system. And it allowed for some snacks and treats, totally my kind of cleanse. One of the treats was a glass of Almond Milk and some dark chocolate squares. YOU GUYS! It was so good and satisfying! I first tasted Almond Milk a long time ago and I was not a fan. But I’ve realized, over the years, each brand tastes a certain way and, by far, Silk is my favorite. Have you ever tried Almond Milk? You totally should. And if you have and you didn’t like it, try it again!

Interactive chocolate tasting to end a dinner party.The Silk Almond Milk acts sort of as a palette cleanser between chocolate flavors. And the unsweetened version is perfect for cutting the sweetness of the chocolate. Some of your guests might be expecting something a little more, fun, shall we say. And you can easily jazz their glass up with a splash of Kahlua or Bailey’s. I view this chocolate tasting as the gateway to being an Almond Milk convert. After trying it with the chocolate, I knew I could easily replace regular milk with Almond milk in just about every capacity. Except for my coffee. Give me the cream and nobody gets hurt.

Share chocolates with your friends and interact to find out what the flavors are. Put down your phones! #sponThe underlying point of this tasting is to try to remind our friends how much fun we could be having with each other, in real life. Not online and not on our phones. And there is lots to talk about with the chocolate. I mean, one of the chocolate flavors had cinnamon and bacon. That’s going to elicit some conversation for sure. And then the one filled with banana caramel and topped with pecans and pink salt? Yeah, there’s going to be some tasting notes about that one. And it’s always fun to surprise your guests with a little spicy chocolate which is my fave.

Dessert course with Silk Almond Milk. #sponI put out a centerpiece with pretty macaroons and macarons (because I think it’s funny to have both) along with a carafe of Silk Almond Milk for refills. Some people might not be as fond of chocolate as I am (but they are crazy and should probably not ever be invited again…) so it’s nice, as the hostess, to put out another option. And the colorful cookies add to the table decor. This might just be the easiest dessert course for a dinner party ever. But I love that the focus is on being with your friends and working together in the name of chocolate.

Pink and pretty dinner party.Want to try Silk Vanilla Almond Milk? Sign up for their eNewsletter and receive a coupon to try it for free. You’ll also be entered to win prizes each month, so you should probably go do it. I’ve been getting the newsletter for a few months now and I have to say, they do it right. Their newsletter always looks great, has tons of awesome info and they aren’t bombarding you with their product promotions all the time. I’m not kidding, try it with chocolate. So good! I love my Silk. And I think you will too.

This conversation is sponsored by Silk. The opinions and text are all mine.