Friday, June 10, 2016

Hello! I'm Between the Oaks!

Happy Friday everyone! I'm back with a new edition of Five on FridayI thought it would be nice to revisit a quick introduction this week since I see we may have a couple new visitors! 

Join in on the fun and link up each Friday! 

If you're new to the blog, I'm Anna and I live in the City of Oaks (aka - Raleigh, NC) with my husband, Mr. B, and sweet 7 year old golden retriever, Callie. I started this blog at a time when I was trying to define and find intention and purpose through a creative outlet. It's been a lot of fun watching it grow! During this time Mr. B and I said "I DO!" last October on one of the most beautiful fall days.

Photo credit: Amanda & Grady Photography

The Stats...

I like my coffee just shy of dark brown and always iced. Always.

Most days you can find me working from home. My office doesn't look like anything from architecture digest, but it beats the cube I used to sit in!

I don't have a green thumb, but I'd say I'm pretty good at not killing herbs. Currently, my basil looks award winning.

I'll always be a part of the Pack... as in Wolfpack! Go NC State!

Everyone spends most of their life looking for their doppelganger, but I don't have to look too far. 30 minutes gave me full rights to be the older sister, right?


Lightening Round...

Favorite Food... huge, honking burger. Any day of the week!

Current Favorite Song... Can't Stop This Feeling - Justin Timberlake

Fries or Onion Rings... onion rings. all. day. long.

Red or White Wine... seasonal! crisp, ice cold white in the summer. cozy red when it's cold.

Mac or Windows... as progressive as I think I am, I'm a die hard Windows user to the end.

Beach or Mountains... beach, please!

Current Favorite Trend... does yoga pants count? how about athleisure?

I think that pretty much covers it! If you're stopping by for the first time, stay awhile and introduce yourself in the comments!

Happy Friday, ya'll!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Thursday Thoughts

I've been doing some thinking lately about the tech world we live in - social media, blogging, insta-life-ing. What does it all mean and how much impact does it have on your real life. And what is truly genuine anymore? Let's start from the beginning. When I first started reading blogs it was way back when Google Reader was new and cool, and internet bookmarks where full of all your favorite blogs. They were full of actual content with actual heart and thought behind it. It was very easy back then to get hooked on blogs because people were talking about their lives, families, real stories. They were not chock full of prescribed, contrived material. Nowadays if you aren't over sharing and over posting you must think - did it even happen? If you didn't share it on some outlet - did you actually have a great time? Where are all the blogs that actually share real feelings? I totally understand the direction that the blogosphere has taken and how those that got in early are truly successful in their own right, but I've seen the shift in their content from what originally made them so popular. People tune in for realness. At least I do. I'm so tired of heading to my favorite blogs and realizing that every single one of them is sharing a sponsored post on some ridiculous product that I will never buy or use in my life. Again, where's the real content? I'd love to see the pendulum swing back to where it all began where staying true to one's self was rewarded. 

Sorry for the soap box post. Now back to our regularly scheduled programming...

Monday, June 6, 2016


Happy Monday everyone! I was going to say ladies, but I'm holding out that I have a small handful [count 3] of men checking in everyday to see what's going on #BTO. How was everyone's weekend? We had a really great relaxing couple of days!

I started out Friday afternoon with my first visit to the pool at our local YMCA. It was so hot and humid that I daydreamed about jumping into a pool all day until that became a reality. I shut things down at work [aka my home office where I still have the taunting treadmill as my cube mate] mid afternoon. It was the perfect way to start the weekend! Mr. B and I rounded out Friday with a stop at our favorite sushi joint for dinner.

Saturday was a leisurely day as Mr. B had to work most of the morning. We finally met up for lunch and headed back home to enjoy the sunny day! Mr. B whipped up some awesome ribs and grilled corn for dinner! Doesn't this picture make you drool?

If I know my husband well enough he would want this disclaimer:
Ribs were cooked and smoked on the Big Green Egg and finished on the Weber
You're welcome Mr. B :)
We had another beautiful day in NC on Sunday! Mr. B and I decided to spend most of our day watching the Ironman race in downtown Raleigh. It was so much fun watching everyone participating! We actually ended up walking quite a bit to see the finish line [read - 6 miles!]. Needless to say after our unintended long walk, we had a very low key evening. Plus, I hate to say it since we were walking alongside real athletes, but I feel crippled from the walk. The flip flops could be the culprit. I love a good race though. So inspirational!

We have a pretty quiet week ahead with a special birthday planned for this coming weekend! What did everyone get into this weekend? Anything exciting on the agenda for the week?

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Thursday's Recipes

Happy Thursday everyone! I had to drop in and share with you two awesome recipes I've made recently! They are a must try if you haven't already planned tonight's meal!

First up, Pasta Sauce Raphael. This comes to you from the popular Silver Palate Cookbook. I also mean "popular" as in popular probably to your mothers. This cookbook has been our family's go-to recipe finder for decades, and they are all crowd pleasers! This particular recipe was really good. I originally did it over rigatoni pasta, but think it could also be really delicious over spaghetti squash for a healthier version.

Pasta Sauce Raphael
Serve this over your favorite pasta!

4 pounds ripe meaty tomatoes
2 jars (6 oz each) marinated artichoke hearts
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cups coarsely chopped yellow onions
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup dried basil (I used fresh basil)
1/2 tablespoon dried oregano (I used fresh oregano)
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 small dried red pepper, chopped
3 tablespoons whole black peppercorns (I used 2 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup grated romano cheese

Bring large pot of salted water to a boil. Drop tomatoes into boiling water and scald for 10 seconds. Transfer to a bowl of ice water. Scald all tomatoes, then drain and slip off skins. Cut crosswise into halves, squeeze out seeds and juice, and chop coarsely. Reserve (Note: You can probably use canned diced with juices to replace this step). Drain artichokes and reserve marinade. Heat olive oil in large saucepan and saute onions, garlic, basil, oregano, parsley and dried red pepper over medium heat for 5 minutes. Crush black peppercorns and add them to the onion mixture. Add tomatoes to the sauce, season with about 1 teaspoon salt, and simmer uncovered over medium heat for 1 hour. Add reserved artichoke marinade and simmer for another 30 minutes. Stir in artichokes and continue to simmer until sauce is rich and thick, another 20 minutes or so. Stir in Romano cheese and adjust seasoning.

So yummy!

Second up comes from another favorite cookbook, Cook's Illustrated.  Too many good recipes to count. If you ask Mr. B he knows the best chicken salad recipe comes out of this one! I was looking for a good banana bread recipe to use up some bananas that were in need of some loving. I found the Ultimate Banana Bread recipe, and let me tell you this totally delivers. I've had a lot of banana bread in my day, and this is by far the best yet! Enjoy!!

Ultimate Banana Bread

1 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 large very ripe bananas
8 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
2 teaspoons sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray loaf pan with nonstick spray. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together in large bowl. Place 5 bananas in separate bowl, cover, and microwave until bananas are soft and have released liquid, about 5 minutes (this step had my house smelling sooo good!). Transfer bananas to fine-mesh strainer over medium bowl and allow to drain for 15 minutes (you should have 1/2 to 3/4 cup liquid). Transfer liquid to medium saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat, stir reduced liquid into bananas, and mash until mostly smooth. Whisk in butter, eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla. Pour banana mixture into dry ingredients and stir until just combined, with some streaks of flour remaining. Scrape batter into pan. *Slice remaining banana diagonally. Layer banana slices on top of loaf in 2 rows, leaving 1 1/2 inch wide space down center to ensure even rise. Sprinkle sugar evenly over loaf (*I only had 5 bananas, so I skipped this step). *Bake 55 to 75 minutes (*I used a narrow loaf pan and only needed to cook mine for just under an hour). Let loaf cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out on wire rack and cool for 1 hour.

What recipes have you made recently that had you really thinking you were Giada?