Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

I have already expressed my love for diced baked sweet potatoes. When I found this recipe on Instagram I tagged my sister because I thought she would like it. I also added it to my virtual menu ideas list but hadn’t made it yet. On Monday I got an email from my sister saying that she had tried “it was DELICIOUS” (the all caps are from her!).

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

It just so happened that we had been invited to a dinner at our neighbors house the next night and I needed something to bring. Hello this!

Side note about the dinner: some Navy Seals live across the street from us and 2 of them are going on deployment to South Africa next month. They hosted a Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years event since they won’t be back until after the first of the year. The event was complete with:

  • Halloween candy bowls which included mini airplane liquor bottles. I joked that Hudson wasn’t allowed to treat or treat at their house!
  • a full on Thanksgiving dinner with turkey, ham and all the sides
  • Christmas garland, lights, Christmas music playing and Elf on the Shelf AND
  • New Years party hats and champagne

Such a fun idea to also do with family or friends that you can’t spend every holiday with.

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

Since I have all of the ingredients and only got a small bite yesterday, I think I’m going to make more for dinner!

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

  • about 1 1/4 pounds sweet potatoes (about 2 jumbo), washed, peeled, and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • one 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 green onions, trimmed and thinly sliced (or sub 2-3 tablespoons of chopped chives)
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced small
  • 1 cup corn (I use frozen that I allowed to thaw)
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves, minced (about half of 1 bunch)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (lime juice may be substituted)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper, or to taste


  • Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with a Silpat or spray with cooking spray and add the sweet potatoes in an even, flat layer. Evenly drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and bake for about 45 minutes, or until fork-tender and done. Halfway through baking flip potatoes to ensure even cooking. Baking time will vary based on size of potatoes, oven and climate variances, and I recommend starting to check at 30 minutes for doneness. While potatoes bake, prep and chop the remaining ingredients.
  • To a large bowl, add the black beans, green onions, red pepper, corn, cilantro; set aside.
  • To a large measuring cup or small bowl, add the honey, dijon mustard, lemon juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper to taste and whisk to combine; set aside.
  • After potatoes are cooked, add them to the bowl with the beans and vegetables, add the sauce and toss to combine. Taste, check for seasoning balance (add more salt, pepper, touch of honey, lemon juice, etc.), make any necessary tweaks and serve.
  • Potato salad can be served warm, at room temp, or chilled and will keep airtight in the fridge.

Recipe from Averie Cooks

Nursery Reveal

Hudson’s nursery has been dubbed the most well thought out and peaceful room in the house by Dad.

I must admit that I spent many hours on Pinterest when I was pregnant getting familiar with baby products and deciding what I wanted our little ones room to look like. My disclaimer is to say that these designs aren’t original but instead are a mesh of “found” styles that I put together. I preferred the look of the gender neutral nurseries. I wanted a room that I would want to spend time in but could be easily converted to another use at any time. Of course, another advantage of a gender neutral nursery was that we were waiting to be surprised by our baby’s gender! After 8 long months of waiting we had a boy (he was born 4  weeks early) and he fits right into the space I imagined for him.

**Check out the “before” pictures on my nursery to-do list post**

Crib and triangle accent wall


The first design element that I fell in love with was this DIY Sharpie Wallpaper from Vintage Revivals. I wanted it for an accent wall behind the crib. The amazingly talented lady behind this site leveled and drew all of her triangles by hand!! Knowing that this would never work for me, I set out on a search for a comparable stencil. After more hours of Google searches I decided on this triangle stencil from OliveLeaf Stencils on Etsy.

Me stenciling at 30 weeks preggo

I started in the top left corner of wall, taped the stencil down with blue painters tape and traced the outline of the triangles with gold Sharpie paint pens. When I was done with the first section I moved the stencil over and overlapped the last row of triangles to keep it straight. The paint pens were easy to work with for the most part. Every few lines I had to stop and shake them to keep the paint moving. It took 4 pens to get the whole wall done. I did make a few mistakes when I moved too fast or worked too long and my hand got tired. The mistakes were easy to cover up though! I used a small  angled artist paint brush dipped in the wall color and they were easily covered.

Ikea ribba picture shelves and reading corner

nursery book ledges

There are many 80 million examples of book ledges on Pinterest. I MAY be exaggerating a bit but just do a search and see for yourself! My favorite were the wider ledges (versus the shorter spice rack versions). I also liked the idea of starting the first ledge low enough so that I small child could easily walk up and grab a book (I started the first ledge 24 inches from the floor). The 3rd element I wanted to copy was to use a couple of bins or boxes below for toy storage. The ledges themselves are 45 1/4 inch white Ribba Picture Ledges from Ikea.

book shelves

These were my inspiration book ledges (source unknown). I chose canvas bins with handles instead of the wooden boxes because I thought they would be hardwood floor friendly and nice and light for the baby to carry into another room for playing (like the living room or kitchen) when he is older.

changing table and dresser

This antique dresser was the first thing that I bought for the nursery when I was about 15-16 weeks pregnant. The plan was to find an older dresser that I could paint with chalk paint and distress but when you find “the right one” you know it! I loved the key hole detail above the drawer pulls (they actually work, I just don’t have a key for it). The wood was too pretty to paint so I decided to leave it natural.

Tip for dresser shopping: check out the height and width before purchasing. The height is important so that you aren’t bending over too far when changing and dressing your baby. The width is important to make sure it’s long enough for the changing pad and any baskets or bins you might want to use on top.

2015-07-22 15.41.03

Hudson posing on his changing pad next to his diaper delivery! We signed up for the Honest Company monthly bundle. Bonus that they are made with natural stuff that’s not supposed to irritate baby’s sensitive skin and is better for the environment. So far my favorite designs are the baseballs, guitars, bicycles and giraffes.

window seat

I snagged this chair from the living room to fill up the corner opposite the book ledges. Hopefully I’ll be replacing it soon with this swivel recliner.





Any questions or comments? Please let me know!

Hudson Gray: Zero to 7 Weeks

It’s a boy!

Introducing Hudson Gray Carper // born June 27, 2015 // 10:01 p.m. // 6 pounds, 9 ounces // 19 inches long

Hudson 4 days old

It took me a long time to get this simple post together. I’ve been suffering from extreme mommy brain complete with forgetfulness and an inability to organize my thoughts to express myself. Mix that up with lack of sleep, feelings of being unproductive and feeling overwhelmed at times and well…here I am. More than six weeks have gone by since my little guy was born. He surprised us by arriving 4 weeks early. He was due on July 24th (daddy’s birthday) but decided that he wanted his own birth month altogether and came on June 27th. I may share a story all about my labor later but the short version is that I woke up that Saturday morning and my water had broken so there was no question that the baby was going to be joining us soon!

He had some extra fluid in his lungs and only got to stay with me for a few minutes after he was born. The NICU team took him away because he had to be on CPAP to keep his airways open

Hudson 6-28-15

Luckily the nasty tubes didn’t have to stay long. He was in the NICU a total of 4 full days. We were at Sentara Princess Anne and the rooms were private (other NICU’s that I’ve visited with friends had the babies all in one big open area with only recliners in between the beds for parents and visitors. I slept in Hudson’s room on a pull out sofa after I was discharged and had a private space to pump and spend time with him. It was really an wonderful hospital and all of the nurses were amazing.

Hudson 2015-06-29

These monitors stayed on him until he was discharged. I know they were important but it was SO annoying trying to breastfeed him and getting him to latch with them on. They were constantly beeping and alarms were going off because they would come loose or a cord would get crimped.

His first few weeks:

Hudson 2015-07-03

Hudson 2015-07-09

 Frog legs 2015-07-14

Hudson 2015-07-27

Hudson first toy 2015-08-05

 Travis and Hud 2015-08-09

Hudson 2015-08-03

Hudson 2015-08-13

Tidbits about Hudson from zero to 7 weeks old:

  • I still wear newborn diapers.
  • I’m starting to grow out of my newborn clothes but the 0-3 month stuff is too big.
  • So far every time my parents have taken me out in the evenings to dinner I have fallen asleep and stayed asleep when I get home.
  • I like long walks on the beach and my mommy and daddy take turns holding me.
  • I do not like rides in the car. I’m either sleeping or crying…mostly crying.
  • So far I like the stroller WAY more than the car seat. My mommy has recently started taking me walks on the Cape Henry trail which connects in our neighborhood and I look all around and then fall asleep. These naps give my mom time to shower when we get home which makes her happy.
  • I hate being cold. Give me all the baby socks and Aden and Anais swaddle blankets. I love my cozy jammies for bed time.
  • I only tolerate bath time (see above about being cold).
  • I do like my hair to be brushed after bath time.
  • I like when mommy washes my face. I open my eyes really wide and sit still for her.
  • My mom breastfeeds me. I’ll take it from her or a bottle that she pumps for me…I don’t mind.
  • My daddy says that I like big titties.
  • My aunt Zan is the first person that I ever video chatted with.
  • I fall asleep while I’m eating and while I’m being held but wake up as soon as my mommy tries to lay me down. Every. Time.
  • I make growling sounds like a bear when I’m hungry and squeal-y sounds like a mouse when I’m fussing.
  • We won’t talk about how I sleep at night. Every time my mom has bragged about me I have a couple of sleepless nights and mess it up.
  • As of Friday, August 13 I weigh 8 lbs 2 oz
  • I’m not thrilled about tummy time. Sometimes I’m quiet for a minute but when I realize that I’m face down “WAAAHHHH” happens.
  • My 2 doggies Walter and Randolph kind of ignore me but maybe that’s because they think I fit right in.
  • I like toys that rattle and will stare at them for a few minutes before loosing interest.
  • I don’t like it in the kitchen. Whenever mommy tries to set me in my bouncy seat or swing in there I start to cry. She has a hard time making lunch or dinner because of this. She has perfected one hand free smoothie making though.
  • I had my first boat ride at 5 weeks old.
  • I’m really cute, cuddly, smell good-can’t-stand-it.

35 Weeks

strawberries, cucumber, blue cheese and walnuts salad

homemade chicken salad, cherries and nectarine

Elissa 35 weeks

Elissa 35 weeks

How far along? 35 weeks
Baby’s size: around 18 inches long and about 5 pounds.
Total weight gain: 29 pounds
Clothes: My dress the Basic Black Chiffon Maternity dress from Pink Blush Maternity. Very comfy, flowy and preggo friendly.
Workouts – Last week (June 16 – June 22)
  • 2 miles walk
  • 1 hour prenatal yoga
  • 1+ hour yardwork (pulling weeds, pruning plants, gathering sticks & debris)
  • 2 miles walk and 1 mile on the elliptical
Symptoms: Having Braxton Hicks consistently. Yesterday they were 2-3 per hour all day. Today is less but I was driving to Richmond for work and have been sitting down all day. Also starting to have some cramping and random shooting pains in my low stomach area, especially when I lay down at night. I’m also starting to have low back pain and hip pain/soreness in last week. My doula seems to think that I have tightened ligaments and I might find some relief by getting a chiropractic adjustment. These tightened ligaments could also be keeping the baby from getting in a better position. The place she referred me to specializes in prenatal care…I’ll be calling to inquire about an appointment as soon as the office gets back from lunch.
What I’m eating: I’m continuing with the smaller, more frequent meals. I find that I’m more comfortable in general and have less swings between feeling too full or being starving this way. I’m still loving salads with some kind of fruit in them and I prefer lemon vinaigrette. Love to snack on lemon hummus with rice crackers. I feel like I’ve been eating chicken all the time. I order grilled chicken in salads or I bake chicken at home and then make chicken salad. Nectarines. Smoothies or yogurt bowls for breakfast. I ate avocado almost everyday last week and had the worst heartburn. I read that foods with higher fat content can cause heartburn.
Drinking: Lots of water, kombucha, Zevia ginger ale and Nepresso decaf coffee in the morning with french vanilla coconut milk creamer.
Looking forward to: My next doctor’s appointment is when I start getting cervical checks. Not that I’m technically looking forward to that but…it’s necessary part of seeing how close the baby is to coming to meet us.
What is amazing: Floating around in our pool is my very favorite thing. Amazing weightlessness and it seems to ease aches and pains! It’s also the only place that I can lay on my belly and I love it. Some kind of weightless/water/pool/lake/ocean/river situation should go along with every pregnancy…especially in the final weeks.

34 Weeks

 Elissa 34 weeks
34 weeks vs 25 weeks
34 weeks and 5 days versus 25 weeks! What a difference 10 weeks makes!
How far along? 34 weeks
Baby’s size: around 17.75 inches long and about 4.75 pounds.
Total weight gain: 27 pounds
Clothes: My maternity tank is from Old Navy and my skirt is the maternity chevron stripe jersey maxi shirt from Old Navy.
Workouts – Last week (June 9 – June 15)
  • 3.1 miles on the elliptical
  • 2 hours of kayaking
  • 1 hour prenatal yoga
  • 3.5 miles on the elliptical
Symptoms: Hugeness. Is feeling huge a symptom? If so I have it!
Movement: Baby moves all the time and I love the movement. It’s kinda crazy that sometimes the movement surprises me after all these weeks. Like how could I forget it was there as large as I am!
What I’m eating: I’m officially on the smaller, more frequent meals plan. If I try to eat my normal amount for lunch or dinner I get so uncomfortable and almost feel sick. I’m still loving salads and fruit and fruit in my salad…especially strawberries and dried cranberries. Chicken salad or tuna salad on top is great! Lemon dressing is my top choice. Lemon hummus with rice crackers. Nectarines. Smoothies for breakfast (we ate 2 bunches of bananas last week!). Earth Balance peanut coconut spread on piece of toast with jam or apple butter. I like to eat chicken (grilled or baked) with sliced avocado and cheese. My favorite meal eaten out last week was seared scallops over risotto with peas.
Drinking: Lots of water, kombucha, orange pineapple juice, and Nepresso decaf coffee in the morning with french vanilla coconut milk creamer.
Looking forward to: The babies nursery is almost complete. I’m waiting to share the pics when I get my new rocking chair because I feel like it will finish off the room. Every week I go to the store or order some things online to keep checking things off the list of baby stuff still needed. Last week I used a couple gift cards to buy a baby bath, baby thermometer, some size 1 diapers and baby lotion. I also ordered a waterproof crib mattress cover, a Natursutten pacifier and diaper bag online. Some items still on my list are a breast pump, bottles, baby monitor, baby Tylenol, a reusable wet/dry bag, baby detergent and a nursing cover. Because the babies gender is a surprise I’ll need to do some clothes shopping after the birth. I only have 2 packs of onesies and 2-3 gender neutral outfits!

Barefoot and Pregnant – Our Wedding in Pictures

Travis and I got married on Saturday, May 30th. We threw a party in our backyard, made some food and ordered some food, stocked our bar, had a small local band play and invited 40 of our closest friends and family to help us celebrate. I was 32 weeks pregnant and he was barefoot when we walked down “the aisle” (which was a sidewalk leading to our backyard) and shared our vows. The day couldn’t have been more perfect!!

walking down the aisle

Travis, Elissa and Kuzma

cut the music2

ceremony Elissa and Travis

holding hands

ring exchange

Travis Elissa wedding2

Dance kiss

Coastal living scene

dont get bbq on the white dress

Elissa, Marna, Scott and Emily

Laura, Elissa, Marna and Emily

Teresa, Dana, Chris, Elissa and Zandria

cutting the cake2

feeding cake to Travis

sharing the cake

wedding kisses

Travis jammin

Dill Potato Salad

My sister Angela told me I should try this recipe. She made it for her family and she said that her husband, Troy, went on and on about how good it was. Since Travis loves potato salad in general AND because I have 4 pots of dill growing on my back patio, I knew I had to make it.

dill potato salad

We served it up with corn on the cob and seared Atlantic salmon.

dill potato salad and crabs

Travis also had a few steamed blue crabs with his dinner. He caught them with our crab pots right in the backyard. I was having a “pregnancy moment” and didn’t feel like getting my hands dirty and stinky with crab. I normally love them!

blue crabs caught in Lynnhaven Inlet

At first I was only going to link to the recipe for the potato salad but then I remembered that I not only cut the recipe in half but I also added eggs. Here’s what I put in mine:

Dill Potato Salad

  • 1 1/2 pounds small white/red/purple potatoes, cut in half or quarters depending on size
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup Vegenaise (or mayonnaise)
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 stalks chopped celery
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion


Place the potatoes, eggs and 2 tablespoons of salt in a large pot of water. Bring the water to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork. Drain the potatoes in a colander, then place the potatoes back in the pot leaving the eggs in the colander. Rinse the eggs with cold water and allow to cool while you prep the rest of the salad.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the Vegenaise, Dijon mustard, dill, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Add the potatoes and diced, hard boiled eggs. Toss well, cover, and refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to blend. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Recipe adapted from Ina Garten