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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Recent Work: Alison McQuain Photography Spring Mini Sessions

Spring is here! It was a beautiful day for my Spring Mini Sessions this year! I was so thankful for the weather and the beautiful scenery at the Knoxville Botanical Gardens. There is no way these sweet little girls won't bring a huge smile to your face!


Friday, April 24, 2015

TGIF: Thank Goodness I Found Al Fresco

The weather has me wanting to picnic. Dining al fresco is so relaxing and fun in the afternoon. I would love to gather up some friends for a Sunday afternoon picnic and chill out under some string lights. Anyone want to come set this up for me? I'll take any of these scenarios!


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Workout Wear

Did you know it is just under 5 weeks until Memorial Day and 9 weeks until summer? Bikini season is so close! If you are hitting the gym or fitness studio like I am like crazy right now, feeling good about yourself when you are there is just as important as your end goal. I love having a fun workout mat that you are happy to roll out and a nice bag to pack everything into for your workout sessions…that way you want to use your gear! I have two Bkr bottles and switch them out every day when the other is being washed. Now that I am doing my best to get in 80 oz.+ of water a day, I need a good water bottle to get me through it! The trend of patterned workout leggings is awesome. I think it makes your workout even more fun when you have on some sassy fun pants and an inspirational tank to manifest your strength inside and out! Here are a few things from my workout wishlist:


Rio Leggings from Anthropologie | Namaste Tee from Anthropologie | Magic Carpet Yoga Mat from Anthropologie | Run Inspire Crop II from Lululemon | Runaway Retreat Duffel from Lululemon  | The Mat 3M from Lululemon | Love the Adventure Pants from Teeki | Rise In Love Tank from Be Love | 1 Ltr Bkr Lola Bottle from Bkr |

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Tasty Tuesday: Lemon Garlic Lentils

Soup is one of my favorite things to make and eat. It usually involves one dirty soup pot and not much prep work. At least the soups I normally make. And the payoff...the payoff is yummy flavorful, hearty meals. And even tastier leftovers.

One thing I do have a hard time with is not making the same chili flavored soup in every season. I don't think I'm supposed to eat spicy chili when there are bright green veggies available in the spring....Or when I can't stop sweating in the summer. So, I have found a bright, springy soup that I tried over the weekend. You can find the original recipe here. I have tweaked it a bit. The finish product was so delicious but I was wanting more lentils than rice and a little meat. And a few veggies.

Lemon-Garlic Lentil Soup
lentils: 1 cup dry lentils + 4 cups vegetable broth
The original recipe said to use LePuy Lentils so I used the french lentils from my grocery store (any will work)
rice: 1/2 cup dry short-grain brown rice + 1 cups water + pinch of salt

soup base:
5-7 cups vegetable broth (depending on how much broth you would like)
2-3 medium juicy lemons, juiced -- (about 1/2 cup lemon juice total)
1/4 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp turmeric (I ground mine fresh)

1 large carrot halved and sliced
4-5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4-1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped (I used curly-leaf because it is growing in my yard)

Meat balls: 
I made about 2 cups of 1 inch in diameter turkey meat balls. I just wanted a few here and there to help fill my man's huge stomach. (Just one ingredient, ground turkey. The broth will season them.)

4-6 thin lemon slices
Add 1/4 cup chopped kale or spinach to the bottom of each bowl. It will wilt when the hot soup is poured over.


1. You can start off by pre-soaking your lentils for fastest cooking. Soak in warm salted water for about two hours before cooking. However; I did not pre-soak but can slow-simmered the lentils until tender. If soaked, drain lentils and add to a small soup pot along with two cups of veggie broth (I used chicken stock). Bring to a boil and them reduce heat to low and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the lentils are tender. This can be done a day or two before and cut down on your cooking time the day of. 

2. For the rice, prepare it in a separate pot at the same time you are cooking the lentils. Bring 2 cups of water, plus a pinch of salt to a boil, add the brown rice, cover with lid and reduce to a simmer. Simmer on low for about 30 minutes or until tender and most of the liquid has absorbed. For soup, you do not need to worry about making rice fluffy or waiting for all the liquid to be absorbed, since it will be re-hydrated by the soup broth anyways.

3. Add the meat balls to a large soup pot along with the remaining soup ingredients: lemon juice and zest, garlic, bay leaf, spices, parsley and broth. Bring to a low boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until cooked thru (about 10-15 minutes). Add your rice and lentils a few minutes before serving. You don't want them to over-cook. Remove bay leaf before serving. Adjust salt, pepper, turmeric and cayenne (if you want) to taste if desired.

Serve soup warm with lemon slices as garnish in the soup.


Monday, April 20, 2015

Musical Monday: New Love from Big Ears

Guys, I don't know where time has gone the last 3-4 weeks. Big Ears happened. Easter celebrations happened. Rythm & Blooms happened. Now, now normal life is happening again. My head has been spinning! I think warmer weather brings a busier lifestyle. I'm doing my best to combat it., Musical Monday! As I said, I've been to two music festivals in the past month. They were equally lovely. I enjoyed Big Ears a lot more than I thought I would. The classical music influences were just beautiful. Max Richter's work was quite beautiful. And the Kronos Quartet was great musicians in residence. I did walk away with a new favorite vocalist. And I want to be her friend. I want to share this Grammy winner's voice with you if you are like me and living under a rock.

You may have heard of the Carolina Chocolate Drops. This is Rhiannon's band. Equally fantastic. Rhiannon has just released a new record and her tour for that started at Big Ears. So lucky.

Don't worry. I'll tell you all about my favs from R&B next week!! 


Friday, April 17, 2015

TGIF: Thank Goodness I Found Bird Beauty

We have a bird feeder right outside of our kitchen window. Watching birds keeps us entertained while we have breakfast on the weekends, and keeps our cats entertained pretty much all the time! I love the beautiful colorings of so many of the birds. We mostly have cardinals-a little family lives in one of our trees. Nests and birdcages are beautiful objects to contain birds, though I certainly think it's best when those birds fly free. 


Monday, April 13, 2015

Breakfast Quiche Casserole

Last week I began a journey back to healthy eating. The fitness studio I go to has a challenge for 6 weeks and it’s also 8 weeks of Bikini Series at Tone It Up. So, I’m packing in the workouts and cutting out the carbs! I made a healthier version of one of my favorite breakfast casseroles so that I could indulge in a healthy way in the mornings. 

Jimmy Dean Crumbled turkey sausage (already cooked)
1 cup shredded cheese
4 eggs
3/4 cup coconut milk
Salt and pepper
3-4 Sweet peppers, chopped

Spread the turkey sausage on the bottom of your casserole dish then sprinkle with shredded cheese. Chop up sweet peppers and sprinkle on top of cheese. Mix 4 eggs with 3/4 cup coconut milk and season with salt and pepper. Spread over meat/cheese mixture. Bake at 400 for 20 minutes.


PS-Sorry for the lack of posts recently!

Friday, April 3, 2015

First Friday: The Salvage Shop

This month I'm sharing a project (that I'm really excited about) spearheaded by one of our past First Friday artists, Beth Meadows. I mention in Beth's First Friday piece how invested she is in the community and the building of community for artists and creatives. This is just another example of the work Beth does here in Knoxville. 

There is no Q & A today as Beth is in the throngs of restoration and preparation. But, I do want to share their campaign and encourage you to invest in your community. 

The Knox Heritage Foundation is committed to preserving and restoring historic property and pieces here in Knoxville and the Salvage Program is another way Knox Heritage preserves. The Salvage Program takes, well, salvaged materials from local individuals and sells them to the public. In turn the Program sends funds back to Knox Heritage so it is able to continue with it's mission. This Salvage Program is the whole vision of the organization. Preserve. Restore. Transform. 

Recently Beth envisioned a new storefront that would allow for rentable space for artists and craftsmen. The space has been found in an area of Knoxville that is slowly being revitalized. As you can imagine the space needs a little bit of a facelift and encouragement. I've gotten to see the work progress over the last few months and Beth and other generous volunteers have worked tirelessly to bring this vision to fruition. I am so thankful to Beth for dreaming big and to Knox Heritage for allowing her to do so! 

I am writing today to ask for your help in funding the completion of this project. There are 5 days left in their giving campaign and they are about $5,000 away from their goal. And depending on how much you give you can get some pretty sweet things in return! Who wouldn't want to throw a huge bash in a cool space for only $1,000!? Getting married or hosting a corporate event? This is the place to be!!


Thursday, April 2, 2015

Get out there! Rhythm N' Blooms 2015

Festival season has arrived! And Knoxville knows how to host a great music festival or two. I know I recently talked about Big Ears and now I'm sharing about Rhythm N' Blooms (April 10-12)...yes, they are both music festivals. However, they are both very different than the other.

Rhythm N' Blooms is part of the Dogwood Arts Festival that takes place every year and is a pre-cursor to the Market Square event. And there are a lot of Tennessee artists performing in the festival this year as well as some big names like The Decemberists. We even have some friends coming in from Nashville to enjoy the awesome lineup of this year's festival! So check out this little preview from last year's festival and come join me next weekend at Rhythm N' Blooms!

Brief artist list:
Drive-By Truckers
The Apache Relay
Alanna Royale 
Daniel Ellsworth & The Great Lakes


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

April Calendar

Happy April! Hopefully April won't bring us too many showers. How beautiful is this stormy picture from Alison though?
Download your April calendar here

-Laurie & Alison
Photo by Alison McQuain Photography


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