Friday Finds!

It’s Friday!!! Yippee!! The weekend always makes me an especially happy camper because I get to spend it with my man! Tonight will consist of me crafting & him studying for his teacher’s exam (party animals, right?!) and then tomorrow we have a DATE!!! Seriously, I love dating my husband. We don’t always have time to get away together but one of our goals this year is to MAKE time. Life gets so busy and it’s easy to let days slip by without really connecting or talking about things that matter; we have to consciously carve out moments to find each other. So excited to just sit and stare into each other’s eyes ;)

Anyways, Friday! This week I found some super awesome finds and I’m excited to share them with you! These
posts are some of my favorite to write because I have such a passion for making a home welcoming & inviting. I love when people come onto my house and immediately feel at ease and comfortable. My wish is to help provide you with pieces that help YOU make your home a haven, too! :) if you want that, that is. If you don’t want your home to be welcoming, then this is probably the wrong blog for you ;) haha let’s get started!

Knit Chevron Blanket - Tan and Cream $29.99 @ Target

Knit Chevron Blanket – Tan and Cream $29.99 @ Target

This blanket! I love blankets. I love chevron. I love neutral colors. All three of my favorite things in ONE item?! Hallelujah, the world rejoices! Or I do, at least. This would be perfect on the end of a bed or on a couch in the livingroom! This throw is a great way to add some texture to a room without it being obnoxious or taking away from any of your other décor.

 

Kramare Light $9.99 @ IKEA

Kramare Light $9.99 @ IKEA

This light! LOVE these! I love the simplicity of the design. These would look great on either side of your bed, over a nightstand or even in a hallway!

 

"Birds Greenery" by Fabrice De Villencuve $99.99 @ World Market

“Birds Greenery” by Fabrice De Villencuve $99.99 @ World Market

This painting! If you’ve been following my blog for any amount of time, you probably know by now that I would live in World Market if I could. Seriously. I love their style – this painting is no different! The bright but subtle colors make this piece so versatile. It would look beautiful in an entry way with some vases styled around the bottom of it, or even in a bathroom! It feels soft and whimsical and I WANT IT. Haha.

Wildaster Callie Area Rug (ON SALE) $79.98 @ Kirklands

Wildaster Callie Area Rug (ON SALE) $79.98 @ Kirklands

This rug! This blue is one of my favorite colors at the moment. It speaks to me! This would look so good in a dining room or even an entry way. It seems like it would bring the right amount of color to any room you place it in!

 

 

Kitchen Cart - Natural $169.99 (online only) @ Target

Kitchen Cart – Natural $169.99 (online only) @ Target

This cart! I go gaga over pieces like these. I love the natural look and something like this is so useful for a kitchen. I know there are many times that I wish I could have a mobile cutting station or something of the like. This might just have to end up on one of my wish lists. Cough, cough. Honey, are you reading this?? ;)

Well, that’s it for this week! I hope something I posted caught your eye & you decide to add it to your home collection! I’d love to hear about it if it did! :) You can find me on Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram (username: __theculturedcavewoman__). Have a great weekend, y’all!!

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You could be featured! Yes, YOU!

So I was sittin’ here this morning thinking about all of YOU, my bloggy friends! I’ve gotten several comments recently about how much people have enjoyed the recipes I’ve posted, how they’re just starting out on their Paleo journey & feel really overwhelmed… And I came up with an idea! Being sick and unemployed does have it’s perks, y’all. Namely.. lots of extra time to come up with ideas.

Anywho, let’s keep the main point the main point! I shared my own Paleo transformation story when I started this blog (you can find that post here) and I think it would be super encouraging and fun for readers to see YOUR Paleo transformation story! That’s right people, I want to hear from YOU! With the New Year fast approaching & the inevitable “New Year Resolutions” to follow, let’s show the world how Paleo is a game-changer in every single aspect of life.

That’s where you come in! Email me (brenaebradley @ gmail.com) with the details of your journey: why you started eating Paleo, how it’s changed you mentally, physically, emotionally, how it’s improved your health, etc. You can include before and after pics too!). You must also share this post in some form or fashion (Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc) to be entered in. I will feature one story every Saturday for the month of January, for the purpose of encouraging those who have just started out on Paleo! The person I choose to feature will also receive a $5 Starbucks gift card in the mail! So what are you waiting for?! Share the post & email me now!! ;) Entries must be submitted by January 2nd!

So excited to encourage others with your success stories! Can’t wait to hear from you!!

Friday Finds!

Yay for Friday Finds! I’ve been out of the loop for the past few weeks on posting these, but baby, I’m back! And betta than EVAAA. Okay, you totally needed to be in person to hear that come out of my mouth. Typing it just feels silly. And now here we are. Awkward.

Okay, so, I really enjoyed searching around this week for some super cool pieces of furniture and other items! I love decorating my home and creating an inviting atmosphere… and being on a budget can sometimes make this difficult, as I’m sure many of you can attest to. Hence why Friday Finds was born. I want to showcase some (AFFORDABLE) chic items each week that inspire you and allow you to create the home of your dreams! While not breaking your bank ;) So without further ado…

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Room Essentials Rugby Comforter – Blue/White $19.99-$39.99 @ Target

This blanket set. Bedding has to be one of my all-time favorite purchases. Except there are only 2 beds in my house (master and guest room). And they both have comforters already. Soo I can only dream about beauties like this one! I don’t know what it is with me and navy stripes, but they make me swoon. Every. Time. Please tell me I’m not alone in this??

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Nandor Chair $79.99 @ IKEA

This chair. I LOVE the mixture between the silver legs and sand colored seat. It’s a perfect mix of elements, in my opinion. It’d look great in an all-white dining room, around the table. Or even in a sitting area, with a throw blanket tossed across. So many options!

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Ensidig Vase (7″) $1.99 @ IKEA

This vase. Seriously, I love this thing. And honestly, I might not even use it as a vase. It’d be super cute as a party favor. Maybe a milk and cookies themed baby shower (which a chevron straw in it – can you picture it?!) or as a hot cocoa mix holder for a Christmas gift? I just love the vintage look and how versatile it is.

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Maastricht Bronze Lattice Lantern (7.25″) ON SALE $8.79 @ Kirklands

This lantern. I can’t stop staring at these! 2 or 3 of them would be the perfect accent to a mantle or a bookshelf. They’d be great on a TV stand, as well, to add a little pizazz. On top of a bar counter, maybe? I love the simplicity of the design – while still being an eye-catcher. Perfection!

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Seafoam Green Pierced Wall Plaque $149.99 @ Kirklands

This wall plaque. This thing is gorgeous, wouldn’t you agree?? LOVE the color – a great neutral while still adding some spark to a room. It’d be great over an entry table, or even on a mantle! You could use 2 of them in a bedroom as a headboard or a wall decoration. The design and color lend themselves to a variety of options. I love investing in pieces like this – because you can use it in multiple locations in your house throughout the years!

Well, that’s it for this week’s Friday Finds! Which one did you like best? What are some of your favorite places to shop?? I’d love to hear from you! I’m off to get ready for the day (which includes straightening my hair – cuz let’s be honest… it’s pretty terrifying right now), running some errands & then working this afternoon. Hope you all have a beautiful day – happy Friday, my friends!! :)

Ladybugs, ladybugs, everywhere (E’s 3rd birthday)!

Party time!

Party time!

Last Saturday was E’s 3rd birthday! She is the sweet girl I nannied for for almost 2 years and who I am also with this month. To read more about how that chain of events happened (and why I quit my other job), you can find that here. Anywhoo, I was SUPER excited that I was going to be able to help craft and get the party ready. E’s mom (let’s call her H) always has the BEST birthday party themes – seriously. I don’t know how she comes up with them or where she gets all of her ideas, but she somehow manages to top herself each year. I’m always impressed, to say the least.

E’s been obsessed with ladybugs for awhile now (we used to go on ladybug hunts in the backyard), so naturally that was the ideal theme for her birthday party! H decided to run with it – and the results are amazing!! Here are some pics of the details:

H’s grandma made those paper circle banners over the windows – she sewed them into about 8-10 ft chains with her sewing machine. Simple and adorable. But be careful if you decide to attempt it – they tangle REALLY easily. Into a giant knot. And then you’ll spend 30 minutes with 6 people trying to untangle them. And then you’ll realize they can’t be untangled because the thread has all wrapped around itself. And then you’ll end up having to cut them. And use tape to put them back together. And then start all over again. So, long story short : Put the strands up ONE AT A TIME. ;)

Calm before the storm... of 11 three-year-olds

Calm before the storm… of 11 three-year-olds

Rag banner: small dowel from Home Depot or Lowe’s. 2 yards of fabric, torn into 2 inch sections. We pulled all the loose threads off and then hung the E (found at any craft store & painted) with twine that was hidden behind the fabric strips.

Ladybug lanterns: paper lanterns. I cut out various sized dots from black cardstock and hot glued them in no particular pattern. We used fishing line to hang them from the ceiling.

Cutest rag banner you ever did see!

Cutest rag banner you ever did see!

I LOVE these chalkboard-front crates! I believe H got them off the Home Decorator’s Collection website (if you haven’t experienced the goodness that is HDC, you haven’t really lived. Seriously – go check it out!).

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Cute crates!

Paper grass pallets… with ladybugs hidden in them!

Paper grass pallets!

So cute

We made these pretzels sticks with Wilton’s (red) chocolate and sugar balls! Dip them in the melted chocolate and then sprinkle the sugar balls on top. We ended up wrapping them in a cute plastic bag & securing it with ladybug ribbon!

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Aaaadorable

Edible sugar ladybugs hidden in the veggie tray

Edible sugar ladybugs hidden in the veggie tray

H made these. MADE THEM. She had a chocolate mold , used a small paintbrush to fill the dots in with regular chocolate (let it set), then put a layer of red Wilton’s chocolate (found at Michael’s), an oreo and poured more red chocolate around it. We put them in the freezer to set and then left them on the counter for the next 24 hrs until the party. We attached sugar eyes with fast-setting cookie icing – they turned out SO good!!

Ladybug Oreos

Ladybug Oreos

Babybel cheese, with the middle strip opened up and dots of cookie icing on the outside. On a bed of green onions. So. Cute.

Cheesy ladybugs

Cheesy ladybugs

The spread

The spread

H’s sweet mother-in-law made this INCREDIBLE fruit tray with oranges, kiwi, strawberries and blueberries.

Lady fruit tray

Ladybug fruit tray

A family friend makes E’s cake each year – and they are always so incredible! This year was no exception!

The cake!

The cake!

We cut the giant circle out of red paper (got a small roll ay Hobby Lobby), then cut the head, antennas and dots from black cardstock and taped it up on the wall.

Pin-The-Dot on the ladybug game

Pin-The-Dot on the ladybug game

H made this ladybug out of red and black plastic cups. She hot glued them to a large piece of plywood and the kids took turns tossing balloons and trying to make them land on a black dot (for a prize!).

Game #2

Ladybug toss!

Aaaaand when the kiddos left, this is what the playroom looked like. Quite possibly the best birth control there is.

The aftermath

The aftermath

All in all, it was a GREAT party. The kids were all happy, playing with the toys, eating some treats & hovering around mommy’s legs. The parents all seemed to have a good time chatting with one another. And I kept hearing whispers around me of, “Oh my gosh! Look at that! That is sooo cute!” which made it all worth it! I had so much fun getting to help H out with her masterpiece of a party – and I hope you enjoyed it too! What was your favorite part? The food? The games? Don’t forget to find me on Facebook or Instagram! I’d love to hear from you!

Linked up to:

Liz Marie Blog http://www.lizmarieblog.com/2013/12/inspire-me-please-linky-party-41/

52 Mantels http://www.52mantels.com/2013/12/thursdays-are-your-days_11.html

Live Laugh Rowe http://www.livelaughrowe.com/peppermint-recipes-live-laugh-linky-90/

Lamberts Lately http://www.lambertslately.com/2013/12/create-it-thursday-32-plus-features.html

The Turquoise Home http://theturquoisehome.com/2013/12/work-it-wednesday-no-27/#more-3228

Paleo Creamy Balsamic Dressing

This is one of the BEST dressings I have ever tasted! My husband and I love homemade salad dressing – it’s healthy, delicious & doesn’t have all of those yucky preservatives and other unnecessary ingredients in it.

Here’s the recipe – it has a cashew base, which gives it the creaminess without any kind of dairy!

CREAMY BALSAMIC DRESSING (makes 1 cup of dressing)

The ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup raw, unsalted cashews
  • 1/2 cup water (will come from the water you boil cashews in)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar or honey
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 3/4 tsp lemon juice

Measure out 1/2 cup of cashews, fill a small/medium saucepan with about 1 cup of water & bring to a boil. Once it’s boiling, remove the pan from heat, cover & let sit for 30 minutes.

IMG_1913

Cashews

Once they’ve soaked for 30 min, drain the cashews, MAKING SURE TO SAVE THE WATER!! Put the cashews in your Vitamix (or other high-powered blender) and measure out 1/2 cup of the water you just drained. Blend on high until creamy and smooth.

I promise it tastes better than it looks here!

I promise it tastes better than it looks here!

Add the remaining ingredients to the Vitamix and blend until well mixed, 10-20 seconds.

Enjoy!

Enjoy!

I can NEVER go back to bottled dressings after this!! So delicious. Let me know what you think – I’d love to hear from you!

Rosemary Sage Roasted Turkey

I cannot believe it’s already December!! Seriously, where did this year go?! When I was growing up, people would always say how time goes by faster and faster the older you get… and I’m realizing now just how true that is! Makes me want to freeze each moment and enjoy it just a little bit more. And on that note…does the holiday season make anyone else sentimental and nostalgic? ;)

Alright, back to Thanksgiving – we had such a fun week! I got off work early on Wednesday and headed home to start cooking for our Friendsgiving that night! We had invited over some of our friends who don’t have any family in the area to do a potluck type dinner & just spend time together. I’ll do another post soon with some pictures of the decorations (and our crazy friends)! I ended up being in charge of the turkey and I’m not gonna lie.. it was a little nerve-wracking! I didn’t think a 13-lb bird would be that intimidating… but 16 dinners were riding on my culinary success. So I was definitely feelin’ the pressure!!

I debated between a bacon-wrapped turkey and a rosemary/sage rub for a loong time (seriously y’all, it was painful), but ended up going with the herbs.. mostly because you can’t really go wrong with those flavors! I also used an oven bag to help retain the moisture, BUT I overestimated the cooking time and the stupid thing was ready at 4:45… when people weren’t coming until 7. Fail. So I wrapped the entire roasting pan in 2 towels to try to keep it warm & it worked! It stayed hot AND didn’t dry out. Cue the deep sigh of relief. All in all, Friendsgiving was a great night – no one got hurt, the food was delicious & we laughed until our stomachs hurt. That’s what I call a success! Now for the recipe:

ROSEMARY SAGE ROASTED TURKEY (3 hr cook time for a 13-lb bird)

The ingredients!

The ingredients!

  • 1 turkey (12-15 lbs)
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 TBSP chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 TBSP chopped fresh sage
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 meat thermometer
  • 1 roasting pan

Okay, I have to confess something here – raw birds FREAK the beejesus out of me. And my husband is even worse, so he was absolutely NO help. I painstakingly pulled all the innards out while Matt and I created a beautiful symphony of simultaneous gagging and screeching. But we survived. And only almost puked twice. And now we don’t have to do it again for another 365 days. Praise the good Lord.

Getting ready to gut and clean it!

Getting ready to gut and clean it!

Take the skin off from around the legs and remove pretty much everything you see inside the cavity. Then pull back the skin from around the neck, remove the bag of organs & trash. Unless you really want to make something from them. Then by all means, cook until your heart’s content. Just don’t tell me about it.

Rinse the bird well in cold water (I even used my sprayer!) and then pat dry (make sure it’s really dry!). Using your thumbs, carefully push back all of the skin on the turkey. It’s pretty simple – just go slowly and you’ll see how easily the skin separates. This will allow you to spread the rub under the skin, sealing in that flavor.

Don't forget to do the legs too!

Don’t forget to do the legs too!

Umm.. sidenote. How beautiful are fresh herbs?! LOVE it!!

Smells heavenly..

They smell heavenly too!

Preheat your oven to 350. Chop your rosemary, sage and garlic into small pieces.

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It took about 2 sprigs of rosemary to equal 2 TBSP

I used a mason jar for the next part because it’s so much easier to mix the rub this way!

Add the softened butter, olive oil, chopped herbs, garlic, and seasonings into the jar and shake. And shake some more. And then a little bit more.

Seriously - this smelled so good!

Seriously – this smelled so good!

Scoop up some of the rub and place it under the skin of the turkey, making sure to cover the breasts and legs. Coat the outside of the turkey with some of the rub too! Don’t skimp on this part – the more of the mixture on the bird, the better! So slather it on there, nice and thick!

I used Reynold’s Oven Bags and they were great! Matt held the bag open while I slid the turkey in and then we pulled the tie tight, cut 6 small slits in the bag (according to the directions) and placed it in the oven.

Almost there!

Almost there!

It cooked for 3 hours at 350 and was PERFECT. I had a 13-lb turkey, so I would add or subtract about 20 minutes for each pound above or below that. For example, if you have a 12-lb turkey, check the internal temp at 2 hours and 40 minutes. If you have a 15-lb turkey, check the internal temp at 3 hours and 40 minutes. You should check it periodically anyways, especially since every oven is different! I used a digital thermometer & LOVED it, just an FYI.

A few pictures of the finished product! Sorry for the lighting on some of these – still playing with my new camera (more on that later!)!

What a beaut!

What a beaut!

The skin crisped up perfectly!

The skin crisped up perfectly!

Our spread!

Our spread!

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving too! Did you have any mishaps (like your turkey being ready 3 hrs early?)?? What are some of your favorite turkey recipes? I’d love to hear from you!

Cauliflower Leek Soup

Yesterday was a LONG day. We ended up ordering take out after work (General Tso’s for him and Thai Chicken Curry for me!) and snuggling on the couch watching Macgyver until it was time for bed. It was just one of those days! Thankful for a good night’s sleep and a hot cup of coffee right now. It’s a beautiful day where I am – crisp, breezy and the sun is juuust starting to peek through the morning clouds. Choosing to focus on the blessings each day has to offer – God is just too good!

Now, onto the recipe! All I can say is: YUM! I kinda played around in the kitchen with this one – adding a little of this and a little of that, until I got the flavors right. Lucky for you, I actually remembered to write down all of the changes I made this time! So yay for that! Y’all, this soup is delicious. I have to admit, my husband was a little skeptical at first (“Cauliflower soup? Like an entire thing of soup made from just cauliflower??”), but even he had seconds! It’s perfect for the cold weather that’s coming (and already has come for some of you!) – warm, creamy, filling. Sigh. There is nothing like a hot bowl of soup on a chilly evening! Am I right? Or am I right?

CAULIFLOWER LEEK(serves 4)

The ingredients!

The ingredients!

  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 3 leeks (they have a mild onion-y flavor)
  • 1 can organic chicken broth
  • 1 medium-sized shallot (another onion)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup raw, unsalted cashews
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/8 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 TBSP salt (+ or – depending on your tastes)
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
  • BACON (it deserves to be capitalized, don’t you think?)

Alright – I’m about to share something that will change your LIFE! Okay, maybe not your life, but definitely the way you cook Paleo. Ever wonder how the heck you’re supposed to substitute the cream in various recipes? Such as soup, Indian dishes, etc? Well, look no further! And watch real close – cuz it’s like magic.

Fill a medium-sized sauce pan with water and add your cashews. Bring it to a boil, then turn the heat off, cover and let sit for about 30 minutes.

Cashews!

Cashews!

Pour the water from the pan into a bowl or measuring cup and SET ASIDE. DO NOT GET RID OF THE LIQUID! Then, add the cashews and about 1/2-1 cup of the liquid to your Vitamix (or some other high powered blender) and puree until it becomes a creamy sauce (about 30 seconds). TA DA!! You have your cream base. And you can literally use it for anything since cashews are essentially flavorless. You. Are. Welcome.

Amazeballs.

Amazeballs.

See? Creamy goodness.

See? Creamy goodness.

You can leave the cashew cream in the blender since you’ll be adding to it later!

Since you’ll have 30 minutes while the cashews are soaking, preheat your oven to 400 and cut up your cauliflower into pieces like this:

Drizzle with olive oil!

Drizzle with olive oil!

Add the 4 cloves of garlic (in their skin) to the pan and bake at 400 for 25 minutes or until your cauliflower is tender and looks like THIS:

Crispy!

Crispy!

Meanwhile, rinse the leeks (they tend to have a bit of dirt in the folds) then slice ’em up and dice the shallot.

Use the white and light green end!

Use the white and light green end (the bottom half of the leek!)

Cook in a non-stick pan with a little bit of olive oil until tender and set aside.

Love the colors!

Love the colors!

Lay out your bacon (I did 3 strips each because.. well… we love bacon) on a cookie sheet lined with foil and bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes or until your bacon is the desired level of doneness.

Baaaacon

Baaaacon

Glorious, glorious bacon.

Come to mama.

Add the cooked leeks and shallots to the cashew cream (still in the blender) and puree. We pureed in spurts, mainly because we wanted to keep some of the texture (runny soup just doesn’t sound appetizing, ya know?!). Transfer the mixture to a medium-sized pot. Next, add your roasted cauliflower and garlic (remove the outer shell after roasting) to the blender, along with the chicken broth and puree it on high until completely blended.

Almost there!

Almost there!

Once blended, transfer the entire mixture to the pot with the leeks and cashew cream and stir together. Add all of the spices (rosemary, paprika, thyme, salt, garlic powder and red pepper flakes) along with 1/2 cup-1 cup of water. The water will help smooth out the soup – I found it was WAY too thick before the water, but to each his own. I would start out with about 1/2 of a cup and then add more until it’s the texture you’re looking for.

Perfect soup - flavorful, creamy, thick!

Perfect soup – flavorful, creamy, thick!

I crumbled two of the pieces of bacon and stirred them into our bowls (it was like hitting the jackpot every time we got some in a bite!) and then topped it with the 3rd piece of bacon and a tiny sprinkle of rosemary.

YUM!!!

The finished product!

So what are you waiting for!? Go grab the ingredients, make yourself a nice big pot ‘o soup and cuddle up with a cozy blanket and full bowl of goodness- fall is upon us! So why not take advantage of it? :)

Let me know what you think!