Cooking for the Anti-Chef: 10-Minute Lentil & Beet Salad

10 minute lentil & beet salad - sarrandipity blog

The past week has not been a winner as far as healthy eating goes: There was the weekly-post-volleyball-game-bar-food meal, the Japanese-takeout-and-ice-cream-at-Ravinia meal, the we-just-did-soulcycle-and-are-too-tired-to-cook-so-lets-order-pizza meal, the family-brunch-to-celebrate-my-new-nephew-and-everyone-brings-sweets meal, and a whole lot of other sweets and snacks in between. Even for me, who has a serious sweet tooth, this was overboard. So by last night, I was feeling the need for a serious detox. I needed fresh foods, vegetables, and protein, stat. Enter: this lentil and beet salad. My mom and sister have both made it, which is a take on one of the Trader Joe’s sample dishes, tons of times. I’ve always loved it, but being that I avoid cooking 99.9% of my life, I’ve managed to also avoid making it myself. (Technically, there’s no “cooking” involved in this dish, but you understand my point, I’m sure.) When my mom says a meal is “easy,” I can’t take it at face value because she is a whiz in the kitchen and invents new recipes for fun (WHAT?). But my sister, on the other hand, is pretty much in the same cooking-is-hard-and-overwhelming-and-tedious boat as I am, so I figured if even she endorses this, I could try it, too.

And, you guys, it seriously is so easy. It took me a tad longer than 10 minutes, but only because I forgot about the chickpeas (distraction is one of the biggest downfalls of my kitchen attempts); I had to text my mom and sister and ask if you’re supposed to rinse the lentils and beets (no to the lentils, yes to the beets—in cold water, to avoid staining your hands); and I realized I didn’t include enough cucumber or cheese for my liking the first time around (when in doubt, always add more cheese). But if you can manage to avoid my cooking pitfalls, this really will only take you about 10 minutes.

10 Minute Lentil and Beet Salad - Sarrandipity Blog

Ingredients: 
Most of these, aside from the lentils package, are estimations can you can adjust based on your own personal tastes. 

  • 1 package (17.6 oz) ready-to-eat lentils
  • 3 ready-to-eat steamed and peeled beets (Note: I used 3—from Trader Joe’s 8 oz ready-to-eat package—but I’m not a huge beet fan and wanted it just as an accent. If you like or love beets, increase the amount accordingly.)
  • Crumbled feta (I used almost all of a 6 oz container, but I LOVE cheese. So, do with that information what you’d like.)
  • 1 large cucumber
  • 1 can (15 oz) garbanzo beans
  • 2-3 tablespoons Farmed Here Sweet Basil Vinaigrette (or any dressing you fancy). (You can get the Sweet Basil dressing at Whole Foods and most other grocery stores.)

10 minute lentil and beet salad - Sarrandipity blog

Instructions

  • Place beets in a bowl of cold water to rinse some of the color and avoid staining your hands.
  • Chop beets and cucumber (unpeeled, but without the seeded part in the middle) into small pieces.
  • Combine lentils, beets, feta, cucumber, and beans (strained) in a bowl.
  • Mix in the dressing.
  • Eat. (The garbanzos and lentils make it a pretty hearty salad, but I paired it with sautéed brussels sprouts to make it an even more complete meal.)
  • Relish in the fact that you made something that is healthy, and looks and sounds rather mature, but really requires next to no kitchen skills.

Serves: About 4-5 people, based on my very non-scientific analysis of my leftovers

10 minute lentil and beet salad - sarrandipity blog

Related Posts: 
Cooking for the Anti-Chef: Crockpot Quinoa Chili

My Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Finds

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Finds, from Sarrandipity

So, i’m just coming out of my post-wedding fog (real life is far less fun, by the way), during which Nordstrom’s biggest sale of the year—the Anniversary Sale—has been going on. Every July, Nordstrom releases brand new fall merchandise at sale prices, before increasing everything to full price a few weeks later. It’s the best opportunity to stock up on fall essentials at killer prices. (Especially considering Nordstrom’s amazing return policy—not 100% sure about the purchase? Buy it now while it’s on sale, and return later if you change your mind!)

Though our wedding took up the majority of my time, energy, and brain for the past month while the sale has been going on, those of you who know me know it would take a lot for me to miss any big Nordstrom event, especially this one. True story: 6 years ago, I braved the sale in a wheelchair on all sorts of pain killers weeks after a car accident I was in (more on that someday). And this year, I squeezed in a pre-shopping appointment on the first day of early access (for Nordstrom cardholders) two days before my wedding. With a few days left of this amazing sale (prices go up on August 3), I figured I’d share some of my finds.

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Picks - Sarrandipity blog

1. Chelsea28 Pleated Hem Sweater • $58.90 (After Sale: $88) 
My favorite purchase from last year’s sale was a similar lightweight sweater with a blouse hem, and I can already tell I’m going to love this variation just as much. The pleats are the perfect accent on an otherwise simple top that will be perfect with a pair of dark jeans and boots.

2. Topshop Utility Drawstring Dress • $48.90 (After Sale: $75)
I’ve had a sudden, recent craving for shirtdresses lately. I think they’re going to be my thing this fall (you know, for all the times I have to get dressed for work…).

3. BaubleBar ‘Adornment – Play By Ear’ Earring Set • $51.90 (After Sale: $78)

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Finds - BaubleBar Earring Gift Set - Sarrandipity Blog
I am very into ear jackets these days. I’m also very into mixing and matching earrings. Thus, this is pretty much the perfect purchase.

4. Satya Jewelry Reversible Constellation Pendant Necklace $49.90 (After Sale: $78)
I actually got this one as a bridesmaid gift for my sister after she spotted it during our pre-shop appointment (I must say, I did a good job of being sneaky in buying it while with her), and if I wasn’t trying to curb my jewelry spending (my necklace collection is a tad absurd), I would’ve bought one for myself as well. How cool is it?

5. Trouvé Drape Collar Leather Jacket • $219.90 (After Sale: $328)
I have a fairly extensive bomber collection—they’re perfect for Chicago fall and spring!—but somehow I was missing a good, versatile leather jacket. (In fact, the last black leather jacket I bought was when I lived in London in 2008, and let’s just say I didn’t have the greatest sense of style back then…) This one is buttery soft and not too bulky, like some of the options out there.

6. Hudson ‘Lydia’ Ankle Skinny Jeans • $129.90 (After Sale: $198)
A good pair of black jeans is a necessary wardrobe staple.

7. AG ‘The Nikki’ Relaxed Skinny Jeans • $149.90 (After Sale: $225)
I was actually quite hesitant to buy these—I love the boyfriend jean look on other people, but I’m not totally convinced I can pull it off. So, we’ll see…

8. Lush Crewneck Swing Dress • $29.90 (After Sale: $46)

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Finds - Lush Dress - Sarrandipity blog
This was a super spontaneous purchase after it caught my eye near the end of our appointment, but when I tried it on at home I loved it and ended up wearing it for my wedding rehearsal the next night (I added a belt to give it more shape). The floral version I bought is currently sold out, but this paisley print is an amazing alternative. That said, people are always returning things, so it doesn’t hurt to keep an eye on unavailable items you love in case they return (and Nordstrom will probably restock—it just may be after the sale).

9. Zella ‘Live In – Bold Blocked’ Leggings • $44.90 (After Sale: $68)
I’ve been wanting patterned leggings to wear to the gym for a while, so I’m really excited about these. I think they’ll probably give me more speed and power when I work out, right? Related note: I swear by Zella (Nordstrom’s own activewear line) leggings for everyday wear in the fall and winter—I have them in at least three different solid neutral colors. They’re so much more substantial than a lot of the other leggings out there, hold up really well, and are perfect with long sweaters and tops.

10. Barefoot Dreams CozyChic Ribbed Blanket • $117.90-$146.90 (After Sale: $176-220)
Before you balk at spending $100+ on a blanket, hear me out: This is the softest, coziest, most heavenly blanket there is. I already have a king size one on my couch (not too big; exactly perfect for cocooning yourself in the winter), but I ordered a couple in the sale because it’s the perfect gift and I know I’ll find people to bestow them upon. So whether you’re buying one for yourself or someone else, I’m telling you it is worth every penny. In fact, all Barefoot Dreams products are—I’ve acquired and gifted quite a few of their products (like this cardigan, this shawl, and this baby blanket) over time, and they have not disappointed. You could say I’m a super fan.

Anyone else score some amazing deals in the anniversary sale?

Related Posts
Fall-Friendly Steals From Nordstrom’s End-Of-Summer Sale
Playing Dress Up: Winter Wedding
My Summer Uniform
Packing List: NYC In the Fall 

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Packing List: San Francisco and L.A.

Packing List - San Francisco & LA One of the best things about being a freelancer is that I can work from anywhere. This week, it’s San Francisco and L.A., as I tag along on one of my fiancé’s business trips. See, he travels so much for work that he achieved this insane status on Southwest called “Companion Pass,” which means whenever he books a ticket, he gets a second one for free. I know: WHAT? It seems to be good to be true, but I’m here to tell you it’s not, and I’m reaping the benefits. ANYWAY, as I said, this week we’re on the west coast. The first half of the week is in San Francisco (one of my all-time cities and home to much of my extended family – but more on that another time), and the rest of the week and weekend in Los Angeles, where Andy’s sister lives and will play host to us.

Packing for two different cities and two different climates in one carry-on suitcase causes me major stress and minor heart palpitations, but I somehow managed to do it. For the slightly cooler, fog-prone San Francisco, I included layers, like these lightweight pants I bought from Athleta two days ago and am already obsessed with. For the LA heat (it’s going to be in the high 80s!), I loaded up on tanks and breezy pieces, like this skirt and jumpsuit, which I’m still getting used to wearing. I’m also ridiculously excited to break out the white pants, white watch, and super summery lip color because, OVER THIS WINTER. (BTW – I swear by Sephora’s lip stain—it stays on for ages.) And in an attempt to exercise while here (and hopefully go for a hike in LA), I squeezed in my pair of lightweight Nikes.

Pleione Racerback Tank // GAP 1969 Resolution True Skinny Skimmer Jeans // DKNY Ceramic Bracelet Watch // Athleta ‘Aspire’ Ankle Pant // Lo & Sons ‘The Pearl’ Crossbody Bag // Franco Sarto ‘Grip’ Sandal // Nike Flex Supreme TR3 // Sephora Cream Lip Stain in Watermelon Slice //  H&M Circular Skirt // Lulu’s ‘Learning to Fly’ Jumpsuit

And in honor of packing breezy pieces because, obviously:

Packing List: NYC In The Fall

packing-list-nyc-title

This week, I get the pleasure of working from New York City. My fiancé had to be here for work, so I decided to hitch a ride (one of my favorite perks of freelancing). We both lived in New York for three years, and anytime we can get back for a visit, to hang out in the city and catch up with friends, we jump at the chance. We’re lucky enough, on this trip, to be getting some killer fall weather—but, as is the trend these days, it’s a bit all over the place. Trying to pack for a week when one day it will be 70 degrees and another it’ll be 55 is a tad tricky (especially when you’re trying to pack light, which I consistently fail at), but I did my best. Here, some of the key pieces I brought:

packing-list-nyc---numbered

1. Statement Necklace: I love this necklace for two reasons: It automatically elevates the style of any casual top I packed, and the combo of materials (gold, clear gemstones, and faux pearls) means it goes with pretty much everything. LOFT – grab a similar one here

2. Comfy Pullover: Soft pullovers are my kryptonite, especially when the weather cools down. I just got this one and I’m already obsessed. I love the ribbon neckline, because it makes me feel less lazy for walking around in what is basically a sweatshirt. (Plus, it can be dressed ‘up’ with the above necklace. Boom.) Ace Delivery 

3. Small Pendant: I never go sans necklace; if I’m wearing a busier shirt, or big earrings, I still don a small pendant. Even when I wear a big necklace, I usually keep the small one on; I love the layered look. This one, a simple evil eye design, is one of my all-time faves. Alexandra Beth Designs – get it in silver here

4. Versatile Tee: Even though the weather may get up to 70 this week, I still feel kind of weird wearing a tank in October. Solution: A tee with sheer sleeves; It looks fall, but feels summer. Pleione from Nordstrom – grab a similar one here.

5. Compact Computer Bag: Sometimes when traveling, I push the limits with the size of my ‘personal item’ that I bring on the plane—I blur the line between ‘purse’ and ‘second suitcase.’ But for this trip, I knew I’d be carrying my computer around to coffee shops and whatnot, so I wanted to bring a bag that wasn’t quite so cumbersome. This one fits my computer, but it’s relatively compact, so I don’t feel completely ridiculous lugging it around NYC. Plus, it’s made of nylon, so no harm if the week’s fall weather includes some rain. Banana Republic 

6. Lightweight Jacket: This military jacket is light enough for the warmer days, and loose enough that I can layer underneath for the cooler ones. It’s got a cinched waist to give it some shape, and is just the right shade of grey to go with everything. LOFT – grab a similar one here

7. Cuffable Jeans: (I may have made up the word ‘cuffable;’ let’s all agree to move past that.) Being that I’m short, and often too lazy busy to get things hemmed, my closet is full of many jeans that are slightly too long. But, I do have this one pair that’s the perfect length for ever-changing fall weather. They stop right at the ankle, so if I want to go full-length, I can, but I can also do an easy cuff for the warmer temps. Paige Denim – grab a similar pair here

8. Polarized Shades: I’m somewhat obsessed with sunglasses, but I try to only bring one pair when I travel, and because I have annoyingly sensitive eyes, I like to play it safe with a polarized pair. Never know when that NYC sun will hit! Spy Optic

9. Two-Tone Watch: Classic, versatile and lightweight for traveling—what more could you want? Michael Kors

10. Ballet Flats: I actually thought we were squarely in boot season the past few weeks, but the temperatures in Chicago and New York have taken an up-turn, hence the need for flats. I packed these ones because the suede is fall-ish, the black is versatile and the studs add personality. Halogen from Nordstrom – grab a similar pair here

11. Chunky-Heeled Ankle Boots: Chunky-heeled boots are my favorite for fall and winter. They can be dressed up or down, and they’re perfect for walking around the city without wanting to rip your feet off. It’s a win-win, really. BP for Nordstrom

I quit my job and started a blog.

http://fyeahfriendsgifs.tumblr.com/

It’s going to be a pivotal year. Yesterday, I turned 29. Today, I started my blog. And a few days ago, I quit my full-time job in advertising. Now, before you start to think I’m some insanely delusional millennial (that’s only partially true), let me do some explaining. I like to think of myself as a bit of a mind-reader (okay, not really–but today, go with it), so I’m just going to go ahead and answer the questions you’re probably thinking.

1. So you quit your job to start a blog? 
No. Er, not quite. I quit my job because it no longer made sense for me. Long story short (ish): My passion has always been writing. I went to school for it, did some awesome internships at some awesome magazines & websites, and got some fantastic freelance gigs. I moved to New York four years ago with only a freelance writing and editing job to support me, and a cooler as my desk chair and a yoga mat as my office. But I wanted (and needed–see previous sentence about the cooler & yoga mat) a full-time job, and decided to try my hand at advertising. I got a job at an agency doing media planning and buying and, well, hated it.The people were amazing; the work itself was too much business and too little creativity. Less than a year later, I made the move to a digital publisher, in an Account Manager role.

During my three years at that company (partially in New York and partially in Chicago, after I moved back), I managed lots of cool, custom campaigns. I went to shoots, worked with designers and was there when our websites launched some pretty amazing things (like this, this & this). I gained invaluable knowledge and became friends with amazing people (Really, one thing I’ve always loved about the ad industry is that it’s full of outrageous-in-a-good-way, bold and hilarious people. Some of my best friends now are ones I met through both of my ad jobs.) The problem was I wasn’t being creative; I was a liaison, and a manager, but not a writer, or an editor, or a producer. Throughout my time in advertising, I also freelanced on the side, and it was the perfect creative outlet. And over time, it became clear that I needed to turn that creative outlet into my full-time career. So, here I am. Out of advertising and corporate America, and into the life of full-time freelancing. And because sometimes, websites don’t want to buy random articles I write about myself and my oft-eccentric life, I’m also blogging.

Never underestimate the power of a cooler chair. Photo Credit: Mallory Kinley

Never underestimate the power of a cooler chair.

2. If you just started the blog, why are there already a bunch of old posts on here? 
I’ve had a website for several months now, but it was purely a home for my professional portfolio. Rather than create an entirely new site for the blog, I just gave this one a face-lift, shifted some things around, and now emmasarran.com is a home for both my blog, Sarrandipity, and my portfolio.

3. Why Sarrandipity? 
I can’t take credit for this one. I tried for ages to think of the perfect blog name: something catchy, easy to remember, and fitting for me, and what this blog would represent. But I came up short. Insert my lovely friend, Lauren. I exasperatedly shared with her my lack of ideas and, within minutes, she said the magic word: Sarrandipity. I’ve always loved ‘serendipity’—and not just the movie. The word, defined by Merriam Webster, means ‘luck that takes the form of finding valuable or pleasant things that are not looked for,’ is such a great reminder that goodness and good things are everywhere, and we just need to keep our eyes open. And the fact that my last name, Sarran, fits so perfectly into the word? That, in itself, is serendipitous.

Serendipity really is an awesome movie.

Serendipity really is an awesome movie.

4. So what is this blog going to be about? 
It’s going to be eclectic, that’s for sure. I don’t want to limit myself to writing about just one thing. I have such varied interests, from style, to music, to fitness, traveling, cats, and more—and all of that will be represented here. The blog itself is a work in progress. I spent so much time not creating this blog because I wanted to wait until I had everything perfectly figured out: the right name, the right categories, the right design. But, I got tired of waiting for perfection and instead decided to take a leap of faith and start this damn thing. Probably related to that leap of faith I took to quit my job.

5. Why should I follow you? 
If the promise of cat photos and Friends references (if you recognize the gif at the top of my post, you have my heart) isn’t enough, I hope to provide you with entertainment, inspiration, and the occasional laugh (at my own expense, of course).

gif via fyeahfriendsgifs.tumblr.com; photo by mallory kinley