August 29, 2012

Passion for Fashion: Bright, Bold Colors

I'm a little late to the "color blocking" trend, but I'm also a little late to the whole fashion blogging scene so even though it isn't groundbreaking, I thought I'd share a recent outfit that stretched me out of my comfort zone a bit. I picked up a pair of royal blue jeans at a local thrift store at least a year ago, but wasn't exactly sure how I wanted to style them so they got pushed to the back of the closet.

Then, I got the green top (at TJ Maxx) and knew I wanted to pair it with the blue pants, but it took me awhile to work up the courage to do so. I guess I was afraid I would look silly. Do you ever hold back from expressing yourself through fashion for fear of looking silly? It seems like we give a lot of credence to the opinions of others, when we could just wear what we like. I decided to get over my fear and wear the outfit because I like it. Apparently Alicia Keys likes it too because she put together her own version and shared it on her Instagram recently.

I want to transition the jeans into fall so I was thinking of pairing them with some deeper, richer colors and fabrics. Of course, it will be pretty warm here in the south for a couple more months so I don't think I'll be pulling out the sweaters just yet!

August 28, 2012

Anti-Recipe: Guacamole Potato Salad

Potato salad is one of my favorite summer side dishes and I think my southern beau could live on the stuff. Since we’re eating a bit healthier these days and following a vegan diet (more or less), I thought this recipe might be a good alternative to our favorite creamy southern tater salad.

I picked up some guacamole in my local grocery store’s deli case, but you could make your own from scratch if you want to. This anti-recipe for vegan potato salad is super easy and super yummy!

  • 5-7 medium sized potatoes (roughly chopped)
  • guacamole

Boil the potatoes until they can be pierced with a fork and then transfer them to an ice water bath to stop the cooking process. Let them cool a bit and stir in the guacamole. I also added some lime juice instead of salt and it gave this dish the perfect flavor. It doesn’t get any easier. Seriously, go make this right now. You won’t be sorry.

(I'm planning to make this again and use it as the filling for black bean burritos...I can't wait! Is it sad how excited I get about food? Don't answer that.)

August 24, 2012

No is not a Bad Word, part 2

Earlier this week, I shared my thoughts about how I’m learning that “no” doesn’t have to be a bad word. In fact it can be very good…when we are the one saying it. But what about when we are on the receiving end of “no?” While it might be possible to get more comfortable saying it, it can be a hard thing to hear.

The biggest “no” of my life came this year when I was fired from what was supposed to be my dream job. I couldn’t have imagined that I would go to work one day and be told “no” in so many words. I also couldn’t have imagined how many positive things would come about after that particular “no” (in the moment, all you can think is “what do you mean, gather my things?”).  After getting over the initial shock of being fired, I decided that all I could do was keep moving forward. And now I can honestly say that I'm happier than I've ever been in my whole life.

Since losing my job and starting a new chapter with my professional pursuits, I have learned so many things about myself that I might have once known, but had forgotten. I’m remembering who it was I wanted to be when I grew up. I’m learning that who I am is so much more than what I do. I'm thankful for the "no" that got me to this place. I’m realizing that God put a whole set of passions and dreams inside me and as carefully as He created me, He imagined a way for me to pursue those passions while being true to myself. I believe the same is true for you.

I believe there’s something inside you that the world desperately needs. And by letting your light shine, you will change the world in ways you couldn’t have imagined. I believe that if we could get even a tiny glimpse of how much we are valued, we would never look at ourselves the same way again.

Maybe you’ve been told “no” in the form of being fired or not getting that job you interviewed for. Maybe your “no” came with the end of a relationship. Perhaps you just feel discouraged in your everyday routine. Whatever your unique situation, someone else's "no" can never define you. Even if it feels like the end of the world.

There’s life after “no.” Some of it can be hard, and some a bit easier. But that life is a thing of value and so are we. (If you made it to the end of this post, I thank you sweet friend.) Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

August 23, 2012

Drink it Up! Easy Southern Beverages to Make & Share

This morning I’m paying a visit to my friends at Knoxville’s Fox43 as a guest on one of their morning news segments. Last time, I shared favorite southern products…and this time around we’re talking beverages, southern beverages to be exact.

I’ve already shared my recipe for the delicious mock Champagne Punch (we call it Baptist Champagne) as well as my easy-as-pie anti-recipe for the Cucumber-Lime-Mint Water. That only leaves the Fruit Tea Punch so without further ado…

Fruit Tea Punch (aka Amber Punch)
  • 1 lemon
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups strong brewed tea
  • 3 cups orange juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract
Brew your tea and while it’s still hot, add the sugar. Stir until dissolved. Squeeze lemon and add the juice to the sweet tea mixture. Add the orange juice, vanilla and almond flavoring. Chill this mixture and serve over ice. Enjoy!

{I adapted this recipe from one called Amber Punch from Dinner on the Diner: Recipes from the Junior League of Chattanooga.}

To see more of my segments on Knoxville's Fox43 Morning Show, check out this complete list here.

image 1 via Martha Stewart Weddings

August 22, 2012

Passion for Fashion: Chambray & Pleats

I’ve shared several times about my recent style adventure (from the big closet clean-out to my learning about which styles work for me). Still I’ve been hesitant to showcase fashion pictures of myself here on the blog. Southern Belle Simple is definitely not a fashion blog, but I do have a passion for fashion so I’m jumping in with today’s post.

My biggest complaint about fashion blogs is that the style they illustrate often seems unattainable, but I believe it’s possible to feel great in your clothes, even on a budget. My mission for SBS is to show that I’m just a normal girl like anyone else and that everything I do, you can do, too! (if you want to, I mean).

The look on the left inspired me to put together my own version (above right). Everything I’m wearing was either thrifted, gifted or purchased off a clearance rack, which allows me to experiment with trends without spending a lot of money.

So that’s my first fashion post. I’m linking up with the pleated poppy for her “What I Wore Wednesday” if you want to hop over and see the styles of other folks. Happy Wednesday friend!

{Skirt – Belk; shirt – Levi’s/thrifted; belt – Target; purse – Jessica Simpson/TJ Maxx; shoes – thrifted; bracelet – souvenir from my mom’s trip to Charleston}

August 21, 2012

No is not a Bad Word, part 1


Growing up southern has given me many notions about life, one of them being that “no” is a bad word. For southern women, it seems saying no is downright out of the question. Whether we’re asked to join a committee, attend an event, help an acquaintance or give our time/efforts/money, it’s rare that we feel comfortable saying no. I’m not talking about being involved or staying busy. I’m referring to that feeling you get in your stomach after you agreed to do something you didn’t really want to do.

The problem that arises when we fail to say no is we then begin to resent the situation and people we’ve said yes to (which isn’t really fair to ourselves or to them). I love what Dr. Brene Brown says about this: It’s better to feel uncomfortable in the moment [of having to say no] than it is to feel resentment for the long-term.

But why do you think that saying no is so uncomfortable for us? I believe it has something to do with the idea that our no is going to let someone down. We put so much pressure on ourselves to be all things to all people. What if we say no to something/someone and it haunts us for the rest of our life? I don’t mean to overdramatize but I think most of us have been there.

I watched a Today show segment recently about a new condition currently affecting women called “fomo.” It stands for fear of missing out and apparently it’s something that is plaguing women everywhere. Just what are we so afraid of missing? The perfect                            (fill in your own blank). I’m learning there is no perfect anything. And many times the energy we spend chasing the illusion of that next perfect thing keeps us from enjoying the wonderfully imperfect thing that is right in front of us. To me, that would be missing out.

So, after spending much of my life feeling like “no” is a bad word, I’m learning that it isn’t. No is simply the opposite of yes. Either is an appropriate response, depending on what you feel in your heart at that moment. This also leads me to think about the implications that another person’s “no” can have in our lives. So stay tuned for part two and we’ll discuss!

{image via Wayne White his work!}

August 20, 2012

Anti-Recipe: Easy Vegan Ice Cream


For the longest time, I’ve heard of how it’s possible to make a dairy-free ice cream treat using only frozen bananas, but I didn’t actually believe the hype…until now. I had a few bananas approaching overripe-ness recently and decided to give it a try.

To make this healthy, vegan treat, simply freeze some chopped up bananas until firm and then puree them in the food processor or blender. Something magical happens and the bananas become a creamy “I can’t believe that’s not dairy” consistency. I added a spoonful of peanut butter to mine to make an even tastier treat. But how easy is that?

I was thinking you could also add strawberries, graham cracker crumbs or chocolate chips for a different flavor. The only downside is that you should probably enjoy this snack right away because I tried refreezing mine and it didn’t hold up very well.

I’ll definitely be making this again. Hope your week is off to a grand start my friend!

August 19, 2012

You are loved


My sweet southern momma is a 4th grade teacher and last week, I was able to pay a visit to her school and enjoy a lunch of cafeteria food with her (It was tasty, but no Russian Tea Room).

Before lunch, I arrived to find her on the playground, where the students in her class were having a grand ol’ time running around, chasing each other, and doing whatever else 4th graders do.

As I watched those little kiddos, I got a glimpse of what it must feel like to God to watch his children playing at life. We think we’re all so grown up, but each of us is just a precious child in our Daddy’s sight. All with different stories to tell. All with our various experiences, many that involve hurts and heartaches.

As I looked around at those small guys and gals, I had a thought.

Every. Single. One. Of. Us. Is. Loved. I don’t just mean loved as in, “oh yes, love…what a nice sentiment.” I’m talking about can’t-eat, can’t-sleep, can’t-live-without-you, life-changing love. We aren’t able to completely comprehend it because our love capacities are crammed into these little bodies we live in.

love scrabble tiles

God’s love for you? Infinite. It stretches beyond the heavens. It reaches down into the deepest depths. There is nowhere you can go that it won’t be. There is nothing you can do that will stop it or decrease it or cause it to pass you by.  In fact, there’s nothing you have to do to get it in the first place. But you can choose to receive it. You can let it wash over you, let it permeate your thoughts, let it be the biggest elephant in the room.

If you’re reading this thinking “she can’t be talking about me,” I want you to know that YES, I’m most definitely talking about you. If you’ve never experienced this love before, there’s a first time for everything my friend. I hope that you can begin to feel it starting right now.

I hope you feel how much you are loved and I hope you have a wonderful Sunday.

{image 1 via, image 2 via}

August 13, 2012

A Trip to Trader Joe’s: Southern Belle Simple Favorites


Knoxville’s new Trader Joe’s store opened recently and after shopping there in Nashville and Atlanta, I have been so excited to have a TJ’s in my own neck of the woods.

The southern beau and I popped in on Sunday and I thought I’d share some of my favorite Trader Joe’s products (and hopefully you’ll share some of yours too!)


Trader Joe’s Lemon Curd – This stuff is heavenly…it’s wonderful over pound cake or biscuits. I’ve also been known to eat it straight from the jar. If you like lemons, you’ll love it!


Trader Joe’s Valencia Peanut Butter – This crunchy, savory spread has roasted flaxseeds for an extra bit of flavor. I consider myself a peanut butter connoisseur and I think this might be the best I’ve ever tasted.


Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Mint Creams – Think Junior Mints, but way better. I keep these in the fridge and attempt to eat only one when I need a little bite of something sweet.


Trader Joe’s GIANT White Beans – If I had to choose one TJ product that was my all-time favorite, it would have to be these beans. They are huge lima beans in some kind of Greek tomato sauce and they are sheer perfection. I first heard about them from my pal BethEats when she shared a recipe on her blog combining them with pesto and goat cheese. De-lish! Before Trader Joe’s opened in town, I would buy several jars of these every time I went to Atlanta and then try to ration them out until the next trip.


Trader Joe’s Margarita Mixer – This is my favorite margarita mixer and when I served it to my family, they loved it too. It’s not syrupy like some of them and it has no artificial flavors.

The store was kind of a circus, but I guess that’s to be expected for awhile since folks are just so excited to try it out. Do you have a Trader Joe’s near where you live? If so, I’d love to hear about your favorite Trader Joe’s products. I probably won’t do all my grocery shopping there, but I’m sure I’ll be stopping by occasionally for my favorite things.

Happy Monday! Hope your week is terrific!

August 12, 2012

You, Beautiful You


Have you ever imagined something that you were looking forward to, such as an upcoming trip or event? Chances are you imagined it in the most positive, wonderful way. I’ve sat and daydreamed about possible travel scenarios (and even impossible ones!) and for each one, I think of how relaxing it will be or how exciting…of how much joy it will bring me and what special memories will be created in the process.

Our imaginations are a powerful thing because the ideas and dreams they produce are coming from our deepest hopes and wishes. If our imaginations are this vivid, just think how much more (infinitely more!) vivid is God’s imagination.

rose pic

I’ve always believed that God made us. We learn this as children. That he made our bodies, inside and out. More recently, I’m learning that He imagined us as well. Every wonderful quality, every talent, every gift and nuance…is a product of His divine imagination. He imagined a very specific combination of qualities for each one of us. We are all so very much the same because we are all His creations, but we are also so different because each of us is an expression of His creativity.

I think so many people struggle with feeling alone in this world. Like nobody understands them or sees them and that they don’t bring anything special to the table. I wish every person could know and truly understand that he or she is an incredible creation, the handiwork of the same God who spoke the world into being. I think it would definitely change how we feel about ourselves on the deepest possible level.
Today and always, I hope you feel like the incredible treasure that you are! Happy Sunday friends.

August 11, 2012

Anti-Recipe: Heirloom Tomato Basil Salad


This season’s tomato crop in my region has been abundant and I thought I’d share the quick and easy way that we’ve been enjoying all the farm fresh tomatoes. Since I have some basil growing in a container on my porch, it’s even easier!

I roughly chop the tomatoes and then toss them in a mixture of basil and olive oil. (I smash the basil with my mortar and pestle, but you could use a food processor or a blender). Sometimes we eat it just like this as a salad and sometimes I add some pasta or beans to make it the main dish. You could also throw in parmesan or fresh mozzarella cheese.

It doesn’t get any easier than that! Hope you’re enjoying the weekend. Easy recipes help me enjoy my weekends because they don’t keep me stuck in the kitchen. Happy Saturday friends!

August 9, 2012

Celebrating National Picnic Month & Southern Products


August is National Picnic Month and what better way to celebrate it than by enjoying some fabulous southern products? Above is a collection of some of my favorite southern goodies that I also shared during a segment this morning on a local news morning show. If you’re just visiting the blog after hearing about it from the segment, welcome!

I’m so glad to live in the south, a region that has such a wealth of talented people who are pursuing their passions to create delicious food to share with the world. I know there are lots of other great southern products, but there’s only so many you can mention in a 3-minute segment!

Below, you’ll find a complete list of the products I mentioned, plus links to the company websites as well as a listing of the state where each originates.
  1. Anna Mae Southern Bread – Sweet Potato & Molasses Rolls (North Carolina)
  2. HoneyPax Tupelo Honey – Pure Honey (Florida)
  3. MoonPies (Tennessee)
  4. Good Health Natural Foods – Avocado Oil Potato Chips (North Carolina)
  5. Roots Café- Roasted Hummus (North Carolina)
  6. Flour Head Bakery - Pita Bread (Tennessee
  7. Emily G’s Jam of Love – Tripleberry (Georgia)
  8. Goo Goo Clusters (Tennessee)
  9. Phickles Pickles – Hotties Pickled Jalapeños (Georgia)
  10. Lusty Monk Mustard – Original Sin (North Carolina)
  11. Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese – Colby (Kentucky)
  12. Shuckman’s Fish Co. & Smokery – Bourbon Smoked Salmon Spread (Kentucky)
Now, I want to hear from you! What’s your favorite local product? No matter where you live, I’m sure there is something delicious that is made nearby. I hope you share some of your favorites so we can all enjoy them as well.
Thanks for visiting Southern Belle Simple and feel free to connect on Facebook and Twitter!

August 2, 2012

August Magic


August takes you back to yellow meadows,
To days when Grandmas made you lemonade,
To nights when how you begged to stay out later,
And afternoons with novels in the shade.

{excerpt from a poem called August by Donna Earle}