Roasted Vegetable Lasagna

Ren in chair

This is the face of a dog who doesn’t really like to pee in the cold and would rather cuddle upside down in daddy’s chair.

Ren face

This is also the face of a dog that could care less that he isn’t supposed to be in said chair. “Busted! But look how cute I am mom!” – Renly

Winter came to South Carolina this week, whether or not it’s actually here to stay remains to be seen. It has not been abnormal to have the temperature fluctuate from 40-70 from one day to the next this year. For now, I’m happy to finally be able to wear sweaters and boots without sweating…whether or not that attitude will last also remains to be seen.


One undeniable winter positive is the fact that I can now make as many stews, roasts and “hearty” dishes as my little heart desires. One of my first orders of business is this delicious roasted vegetable lasagna.

Finished Lasagna

Last year was the first Christmas I spent with Robert’s family and although it was wonderful, nearly everyone got the stomach bug leading up to the holiday. Since no one felt well enough to cook, his aunt’s sweet best friend brought over some delicious vegetable lasagnas for our Christmas Eve meal. They were warm and cheesy and full of healthy veggies so of course everyone was instantly cured!

Ricotta Egg

Ok, so maybe they weren’t miracle medicinal lasagnas, but they sure were yummy and since I magically avoided the bug, I helped myself to seconds and thirds 🙂

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Slow Saturday Breakfast: Tropical Baked Oatmeal

And just like that it’s Monday again. They always come back around so quickly don’t they? Robert and I had a great, full weekend. We went on a dinner date Friday night, spent Saturday on the boat with friends and spent Sunday at the beach celebrating the first birthday of a friend’s darling daughter.  It doesn’t get much cuter than a baby at the beach. Except maybe a baby Renly at the beach Smile


On a serious note, I realized today that summer break is half way over Sad smile Four weeks down, four to go. Most of last summer was so full of wedding craziness that this one has seemed so much more laid back and relaxing. A girl could really get used to this! I am always ready and excited to start the new school year when it is time, but I will definitely miss all the sleeping in extra time in the kitchen.

Sliced bananas  Layered Fruit

During the school year I typically go to the gym in the morning on my way to work. This means waking up VERY early and packing my breakfast to eat at school. I relish weekend breakfasts during the school year because I actually get to take my time making something a little more laborious, and enjoy it with my husband!

Oat Pour  Egg Pour

Baked oatmeal is a great dish to enjoy slowly on the weekend, fresh out of the oven, BUT it is also perfect for the work week because it re-heats beautifully.  Mangoes can be tricky to cut, so if you are struggling (and haven’t youtube’d it yet) let me show you how I do it. The easiest way I have found to cut a mango is to basically slice it into thirds. The pit of a mango is flat and in the middle. You will want to place the mango upright on the cutting board and cut along the sides of the pit (from top to bottom)  so you are left with three pieces. The middle piece which contains the pit, and the two outside halves.

 How to slice a mango

These halves are where you will get your fruit. I then like to score the halves, vertically and horizontally, taking care not to cut all the way through the peel.

 Diced Mango

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Creamy Cucumber Soup

I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend! I loved visiting with my parents and we all had a fabulous 4th!


After spending the day roaming around town with my parents on Friday, we grilled out at home for dinner and then took the boat to get ice cream with Robert’s whole family. On Saturday we had a fantastic cookout on his sister’s new porch and watched the annual neighborhood 4th of July golf cart parade. All the kids in the neighborhood decorate their bikes, scooters golf carts and then caravan around the neighborhood and throw out candy while everyone watches from their lawns. This was my first year experiencing it but I thought it was such a cute tradition!

GC Parade GC Parade 2

It rained Saturday evening which was kind of a bust and delayed a lot of the fireworks, but we did manage to catch a few and enjoyed our time together nonetheless.

Festive Family
My adorably festive Aunt & Mother in Law

On Sunday my parents and I took a day trip to Savannah to celebrate my dad’s birthday in one of his favorite cities. He used to travel to Savannah often for work so he toured us around the city and then we came home and met Robert for a casual dinner out. Happy 61st Dad!

 Dad's Bday

I am missing my parents already but I am happy to do a bit of detoxing after a weekend full of barbeque, birthday margaritas and red white and blue desserts. Fun, delicious and oh so worth it, but it IS nice to get back on track.

Remember those herb pots my mother was bringing down, aren’t they great looking?

 Herb Pots

She had my dad make these cute wine cork labels, which I thought were adorable and will probably be replicating in the future.

 Cork Markers

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Becoming a Chandler (not Bing): Scented Soy Wax Candle Class at Candlefish in Charleston, SC

Welcome back! I know you have all been waiting on the edge of your seats for my Candlefish recap. No? Well if you haven’t been then you SHOULD have been because it was so. much. fun!


I knew CandleFish was my kind of place the second we entered the shop. It was open, bright and full of clean smells and good vibes.  All of the Chandlers (that is the official name for a candle maker…just like a tailor, cobbler, etc.) were very friendly and our teacher, Kat, was so personable and knowledgeable which made the class interesting and entertaining!


We were seated at our work spaces and offered complimentary water or coffee (or you can BYOB! They provide the glassware FYI) and Kat told us all about how Candlefish came to be, the art of scenting candles and how those scents are created and explained the process for creating our own candles. Fun fact, pretty much every single smell in every type of product is synthetic and lots are created in Switzerland. We all introduced ourselves and had to share what scent we thought we would be if we were a candle. My favorite answer was a guy who picked “steak and french fries” Robert would love that candle if it ever comes to fruition. I chose fresh herbs because A. I love to cook and B. I love clean, fresh scents when it comes to candles. Too fruity and too floral-y are not my favorites. We learned that there are lots of different scent profiles that different smells fit into; beachy, aquatic, floral, citrus, epicurean (think almond, vanilla, food scents), green/earthy, woody, the list goes on. Most of what I was drawn to fell into the epicurean or green/earthy category, go figure!

Set Up Scent Wall

Kat then showed us the wax melters (I’m sure there is a more technical name than that but I can’t remember) and explained the history and differences between different types of waxes. Candles were initially made of leftover lard, and the Chandlers would go from house to house making candles for families. Beeswax candles then became popular but were expensive and only used by churches and the upper class. These days soy candles are all the rage, and were the type that we would be making during the class.

 Wax Melters

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Girl’s Weekend in Charleston

Happy Monday! Hope everyone had a fabulous weekend! My typical MO on a Monday is to share a breakfast recipe, but alas, for the first time in recent memory I did absolutely NO cooking this weekend…none! Instead of (joyfully) slaving away at the stove, I enjoyed the most fabulous girl’s weekend in Charleston, SC with my best friend Anna! You may recognize her as my wonderful traveling companion from all of my China posts.

 Anna and Laurin

I met Anna in college when she became my “little sister” in my sorority and we have been best friends ever since! She lives in Charleston, about two hours away from me and we try to meet in the middle for lunch or dinner every few months to catch up. Each time we meet for a meal we talk non-stop and never seem to have enough time to catch up as much as we’d like, so we decided a weekend reunion was a must. Charleston is a fabulous city, and one that I have had the good fortune to live in for short periods both post college and post graduate school. It is rich in history, full of fun things to do from museums and horse drawn carriage rides to pirate tours and designer shopping, a total foodie destination, and last but not least it is absolutely one of the most beautiful places in the south. There is literally something for everyone, so if you are traveling to South Carolina for the first time, Charleston is a must see destination!

 Cute house

I arrived at Anna’s around 7:30 on Friday and we caught up over a glass of wine as we got ready for dinner. Anna lives close to East Bay Street, which is one of the two main destination streets in downtown Charleston (at least in my mind), the other being King Street. King Street houses the majority of the shopping downtown while East Bay is home to many different restaurants and bars. We decided to try Minero for dinner, a new Mexican restaurant opened by Sean Brock. Sean Brock is a very well known, James Beard award winning southern chef who has appeared on Top Chef several times and has several restaurants in Charleston. I had a feeling the food would be delicious and we were not disappointed.

Anna at Minero Tacos 2

We started with guacamole and margaritas and each ordered several different tacos. I tried the grouper and the green chorizo, both of which were delicious. I was actually inspired to come home and attempt a homemade green chorizo recipe which I am planning to try later this week, wish me luck!


After dinner we called it an early night in anticipation of a big day on Saturday. Saturday morning we woke up early and headed our for a brisk walk around The Battery. The Battery is a seawall around the Charleston Harbor that is lined by breathtaking antebellum homes. I say homes but they are really more like mansions and each is stunning, unique and VERY expensive. Since it’s safe to say I’ll never be able to live in one of these homes, it’s nice to be able to enjoy them as the backdrop to a morning run.

Image courtesy of Trip Advisor since I only took a picture of the water…

The day quickly heated up and we walked back to Anna’s to cool off and enjoy a light breakfast before heading over to King Street for a little retail therapy. King Street has everything from Louis Vuitton to Forever 21 so there is lots to see at every price range. Anna and I both made a few purchases before deciding it was time for lunch. King St. has LOTS of restaurants, Burgers, BBQ, Pizza, Lebanese, Greek, Mexican, Asian, ALL THE FOOD! It’s a foodies dream and an indecisive girls nightmare. Luckily Anna suggested Vietnamese early on in her extensive list of everything available and I remembered how much I LOVED my banh mi in Atlanta a few months ago. We ended up at CO, a Vietnamese restaurant I remember seeing when I lived in Charleston but had never tried. We were seated immediately and decided to split a few things so we could both try a lot.

 edamame dumplings

*Side Note* Is it just me or is one of the best things about girlfriends the fact that they love to share? My mom and I do this too when out to eat but Robert HATES to share. Is this a man thing? Or just a mental thing? Like maybe he doesn’t feel like he’s getting enough to eat if we split things instead of having an entire full meal to himself? He doesn’t mind sharing dessert or appetizers but anytime I’ve suggested splitting a salad or entrees I get shot down immediately and he tells me I should just order both/all of it. Maybe I’ll wear him down eventually.


We ordered the edamame dumplings, pork belly buns and a Korean short rib banh mi. It was all tasty but we both liked the banh mi the best. The lunch prices at CO were surprisingly inexpensive for a sit down restaurant, we both left full but not stuffed and only paid about 10 dollars each! I’ll have to remember to add “cheaper” to my list of reasons to convince Robert to start sharing Smile

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