Monday, May 23, 2016

5 Things You Should Always Buy in the Target Dollar Aisle
Grab a seat ladies and gents, I'm about to become your favorite person ever.


Oh, I'm about to fuel your already burning passion for purchasing all of the things at Target. 

If you're anything like me, the very first place you stop upon entering the Bulls Eye Wonderland is the Dollar Aisle. In my store, it's a cute little nook that requires a bit of jostling to ensure that our giant cart can make the turns but that doesn't deter me from charging through, in search of the best buys in Target. I'm here to tell you that despite most of the items being insane impulse buys, you can actually purchase reasonable and useful items at a great price point in in the Dollar Aisle. 

Let's discuss: 

(and if you make it to the end of this post, I'll reward you with the two most ridiculous impulse buys I've ever wasted money on in the Dollar Aisle) 

5 Things You Should Always Buy in the Target Dollar Aisle

1. Gift Bags
Gift bags can be so darn expensive! And let's be real, you use them once and then they get passed around from person to person as they are re-used. I have a tough time swallowing a big price on a tiny gift bag (no matter how cute) so I always grab generic gift bags from the Dollar Aisle when I spot them. I make sure to grab a medium size and a theme that can go anywhere and consider it a dollar well spent.

As a bonus, you can often find a pack of 5 small craft gift bags for $3 in the Dollar Aisle, which breaks down to be cheaper than the generic bags available in the wrapping section (which are usually just under $1 a piece). I snag those in black or the traditional brown craft paper when I see them.

5 Things You Should Always Buy in the Target Dollar Aisle

2. Mailing Envelopes
For a dollar, you cannot go wrong with patterned, bubble lined mailing envelopes. Because they are so cute, I used them instead of wrapping a present, finding a box, labeling the box and shipping. Instead, I use cute tissue and ribbon to wrap the gift, pop it and a card right into the bubble mailer and send it on it's way. Sometimes, you can also find the large, soft, white mailing envelopes in the Dollar Aisle and they are for sure worth a snag - they are usually on the bottom shelf (because they aren't cute) and are perfect for mailing bulky items like hand me down clothes or oddly shaped items. 

5 Things You Should Always Buy in the Target Dollar Aisle

3. Greeting Cards and Note Cards
Ok, I do not understand why greeting cards are so expensive. Cards are wonderful and choosing just the perfect one is sweet but flipping over a card and seeing a $5 price tag is just not cool. The Dollar Aisle often has really cute greeting cards and envelopes for all occasions - I make sure to grab a handful of generic Happy Birthday, Welcome Baby and Wedding cards when I see them. Usually, the inside is blank and I can keep on hand to personalize and drop in the mail/add to a gift without having to make a special run for a card. 

I also love, love, love the note card packs from the Dollar Aisle. You can usually find packs of 8 cards and envelopes for one dollar. I keep a pack in my car (for notes to teachers, quick thank you's to work associates, etc), a few in my kitchen junk drawer and a pack in my desk. I can't tell you how many times I've been glad to have them on hand (most recently when I needed to contribute cash to the End Of The Year Gift and needed to leave money in a toddler cubby for the mom in charge). 

5 Things You Should Always Buy in the Target Dollar Aisle

4. Desk and Office Supplies
Especially if you are a fan of a styled social media style desk, you should never pass up a chance to raid the Dollar Aisle office supplies. Cute to-do list pads, magnetic note pads, multicolored paperclips and push pins and on trend-colors are guarantees in the Dollar Aisle. 

5 Things You Should Always Buy in the Target Dollar Aisle

5. Boxes, Bins and Buckets
I can't help but buy all of the storage things - and thankfully, I feel like there is always chaos to be controlled in my home. I recently snagged the white wire baskets (note: they are $3, so on the pricier end of the Dollar Aisle spectrum) for the open shelves in our playroom storage chest. They are the perfect size to slide pretty much anywhere - in the baby's chest of drawers to organize clothes, in kitchen cabinets to hold snack bags and pouches or in a closet to wrangle toddler shoes. 

And now, as promised the two worst things I've ever purchased from the Target Dollar Aisle:

A green plastic garden gnome 

5 Things You Should Always Buy in the Target Dollar Aisle

and wooden utensils that shred and splinter.

5 Things You Should Always Buy in the Target Dollar Aisle

Yep, I couldn't resist the call of the dollar price tag, but I so should have. 
What are you go-to Dollar Aisle items??

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Grilled Shrimp Chopped Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing

Meet your new summer go-to meal. 

In an effort to recreate a dream salad that I noshed on in Austin, I whipped up this recipe for Justin and I to enjoy during nap time/al fresco today. Full of crisp summer veggies, quick cooking shrimp in an easy marinade and not so good for you but oh so delicious add ons, this salad is as simple as it is delicious. To top it off, the dressing is homemade, fresh and has a bit of zest - a perfect topping for a rich and flavorful salad. This recipe serves 4 adults but this could easily feed a crowd or a couple - and will certainly impress with it's gorgeous colors and crunch. 

Pair it with a chilled Sauvignon Blanc and a fresh baguette and you'll be to go! 

Grilled Shrimp Chopped Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing

For the shrimp

peeled, deveined shrimp, 5 per person
(I keep a bag of frozen peeled and deveined shrimp from Trader Joe's in my freezer at all times to add to salads or pasta dishes - it's a great deal, too!)
1/4 cup lime juice
1 clove crushed garlic
1 Tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning 

Defrost the shrimp by running under warm water

In a bowl combine:
 lime juice, crushed garlic and Old Bay Seasoning 

Add defrosted shrimp, toss to cover shrimp in marinade, cover, pop in fridge to marinate
(let marinate while you make the dressing and assemble the salad, the longer it sits, the more lime you will taste in the grilled shrimp)

Once marinated, skewer using wood skewers that have been soaked in water or use metal kebab skewers, cook on grill or grill pan until cooked through 

Grilled Shrimp Chopped Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing

For the Salad:

3 Hearts of Romain, chopped
1/2 of an English cucumber, chopped
5 San Marzano tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup Red Onion, sliced thin
1/3 Gorgonzola cheese
4 pieces cooked thick cut bacon, chopped
1 Hard Boiled egg, sliced or chopped
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped 

 For a pretty presentation, place lettuce in bowl, layer on ingredients in sections, leaving room for the grilled shrimp in the middle 

Grilled Shrimp Chopped Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing

Once shrimp is grilled, place immediately in the center of the salad and serve, either with dressing drizzled on top or on the side! 

Grilled Shrimp Chopped Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing

Creamy Avocado Dressing 
adapted from this recipe 

1 Ripe avocado
Juice of one large lemon (Meyer lemons are my preference) 
1/4 teaspoon Salt
Fresh ground pepper to taste (we like a lot but at least use 1/4 teaspoon)
1/4 cup Low Fat Sour Cream 
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/4 cup fresh Cilantro, roughly chopped

Grilled Shrimp Chopped Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing


Combine all ingredients in food processor - blend until smooth, slowly adding water as you pulse to thin out the texture (I used maybe 1/3 cup). Yields about a cup, depending on how much water you add/thin it out. The dressing will keep in the fridge, sealed, for a week or so.

Want to Pin either recipe? Go for it! 

Grilled Shrimp Chopped Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing

Grilled Shrimp Chopped Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Disclosure: Products of my choice were provided by Pier 1 for my review. All opinions are those of Olive and Tate and based upon my personal experience.

One of the questions I'm asked most often is "so, is your renovation completely finished?" (followed quickly by "would you do it again!?") and I am relieved to report that yes, our house is now completely renovated.....with the exception of the exterior! Insert the world's most dramatic moan from my Husband here.

While the interior of our house has been brought back into the current decade, we haven't touched our landscaping, front walk, driveway or back patio. Why? Well, we're broke. Just kidding! Kinda. 

After taking on such a serious renovation and living to tell the tale, we decided that as much as we hate our Aztec inspired landscaping (imagine pebble covered beds, cactus like plants and a death trap of a stone front walk) we just needed a break. My husband plopped his cement Clemson tiger statue by the front door and told me to consider the exterior on hold until further notice. I'm completely on board with the plan - except for one area: our back patio. 

With it's jagged edges, 3 foot drop off and insanely weird angles, our back patio is a less than hospitable gathering spot. We have big dreams to completely re-work the space some day but until then, we are still hosting get togethers, cook outs and play dates, ugly patio or not. Because we do allow our friends to feast their eyes on our eye sore, we decided that, while we wouldn't purchase anything major for the space until we re-do it, we did need to spice things up a bit. With an upcoming cookout with friends and a teeny tiny budget, I set out to decorate our space using pieces that we currently own and a few new pops of fun from the Patio Pop Collection at Pier 1.

My absolute best idea ever came to me as I was ransacking my house, looking for something to use as a large serving area to hold food and drinks. Anyone recognize the piece below?

Oh yeah, that's our entry way table! It was originally my mother's dressing table but has held court as the entry way catch all in our last two houses. It's thin, light weight and a fun color so I thought it might serve as the perfect display piece our our patio - and I love how it looks!

After finding this insanely gorgeous tassel runner at Pier 1, I knew the direction my fiesta would take

I mean, if those tassels don't say "look at me and not the weird patio!" then I don't know what will!

I decided to whip up a super simple Tequila Punch recipe, which is perfectly served in the Acrylic Drink Dispenser (it's so incredibly light weight!), to get our guests in the mood to party - and trust me, you need to make it, it's so good and so simple! It's just equal parts lemonade (I used Chick-fil-A!) and water with the ideal amount of tequila for your crowd (some like it strong!).

Slice citrus for garnish - I used grapefruit but oranges, lemons and limes would all be delicious.

Not to circle back to my stroke of genius but I really love how the shade of blue on the antique table pops with my collection of colored plates and acrylic wine glasses. Bonus: the drawers are stuffed with things I might need so that I don't have to spend the get together running back inside - matches, extra napkins, a bottle opener and extra utensils. 

We already owned a small outdoor sofa from our Maine house so I pulled it off to the side and against the sharply angled wall which gave us a bit more gathering room around the buffet. Plus, yours truly likes to post up as close to the fiesta-mandatory chips and salsa as possible, so why not put the sofa in a convenient location? 

How fun is the red Cabana Petal pillow?

In my humble opinion, outdoor spaces require non breakable serving items (especially with a cement patio) and the Clarity Acrylic Stemware is perfect fit. I mixed colors to add a pop and so people would know which drink belonged to them!

I added a bit of ambiance (oh fancy!) with lanterns and bistro bulbs and considered our patio refreshed! I just adore how it turned out and I was pleased to report to my husband that I snagged a few key pieces that I love and will continue to use when our patio is finally renovated.

Now, who wants a cocktail?