April 2018 - Simply Samantha
Exterior Paint

5 Tips For Choosing a House Color

8:00 AM

Recently we had some construction done to our house due to Hurrican Irma last September. While we weren't quite ready for any sort of remodeling on our home, it was a nice push to get us to do some things we've been wanting to do for a while.
Such as painting the exterior of our house.

During the process of painting, I had a lot of people ask me how I decided on what color to paint our exterior.
First off, it wasn't easy. But I found some different tactics that helped me narrow down a color.
So, if you are in the process of exterior painting and need some help on finding the right color, I got you!

1. Swatches. All the Swatches.
What really helped me narrow down my choices were having those huge color swatch books and fan decks. Our contractor had some on hand for me but if you don't have access to one I suggest going to a paint store and see about getting one. The smaller 3 color swatches you get from Lowes or Home Depot will work too but if you can get a hold of one of the big books I highly suggest it.

 Take the swatches outside and stand a good couple feet from your house and hold up the swatch.
This will allow you to see the color in the sunlight which will look different then if you hold it inside.

2. Get inspired.
Look around! Look around! (sorry not sorry for the Hamilton reference).
Think back to your travels. Dive into some designer books and magazines. 
The inspiration of our house came from our trip to Ireland. What many consider a "beachy" look here is more of a traditional look over there. We would drive through these small Irish towns and each building was a different color. And the colors weren't always the traditional tan, white, or grey. Some of them had colors that popped without being overbearing. 
That's how I came up with our house color. I didn't want it to be too dark and to make our house look smaller then it already is, but I wanted it to have that nice color without making our neighbors question our sanity. ;)
Get inspiration wherever you can get it! 
Don't forget about your roof! 
Sometimes it's not possible to find the "right" color to match your roof but try to get something that doesn't look too off.
(Waterford, a small harbor town filled with so much color!) 

3.Don't rely on Pinterest
I LOVE Pinterest and it definitely helped me along color wise but don't always trust how it looks on there. Lighting effects color A LOT. So what may look good on Pinterest may not look good in the sunlight.

4. Hire a professional... if you can.
We went back and forth on whether or not we wanted to hire a painter. However, our house is old with a lot of details so we decided to hire a professional. It's not cheap but its worth it if your house is going to require a lot of effort.
If there are small things you can paint yourself that may help you save money.
We decided we could paint our small backyard shed by ourselves and our porch railing. 
That saved us a couple hundred dollars

5. Be Confident in your choice
I struggle with this so much! I am the second-guessing queen! But when it comes down to it, if you love the color, don't second guess it! Be confident in your color choice! 

I know all those tips are very simple but when it comes down too it, chose the color your love and the color that looks good on your house. A new paint job really gives a house new life.

So you are probably wondering. What color IS our house? Our house color is called Jasper Stone (SW9133) with a white trim and Charcoal Blue (SW2739) accent color on the Shaker shingles. The Front Door color is called Polished Mahogany (SW 2838)

I know this post is a little different then what I typically post.
One of my goals this year is to share more Lifestyle and Social Media content here on the blog! Don't worry, I'll still be posting recipes! 


Broccoli Crunch Salad

8:00 AM

Y'all it's starting to warm up and be downright hot here in the sunshine state.
 Meaning the hot dishes are rotating to colder crisper dishes.
You know salads are kind of my forte. Pasta, lettuce, and veggie.  I love a good crisp salad. 
Broccoli Crunch Salad - #Vegan and #Gluten Free!
So where is the crunch in this Broccoli CRUNCH salad? Well, it comes from a few things.
1. The Broccoli is not cooked. Just rinse, cut, and throw into a bowl. 
2. Corn - Yes, not the most nutritionally based veggie but it gives some extra sweet crunch.
3. Fakecon (Fake Bacon) Bits- Yup, you heard that right. Frontier has a great vegetarian bacon bits perfect for this salad - or you can make some homemade with this recipe.
Broccoli Crunch Salad - #Vegan and #Gluten Free!
Broccoli Crunch Salad - #Vegan and #Gluten Free!

print recipe

Broccoli Crunch Salad - Vegan and Gluten Free
Crunch, tangy, and packed with veggies
  • 3 cups chopped Broccoli Floretts
  • 1 cup Shredded Carrot
  • 1 can Sweet Corn
  • 1/2 cup Vegan Mayo
  • 1 tablespoon Sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoon Lemon Juice
  • 1 tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
  • to taste Salt and Pepper
  • to taste Fake Bacon Bits *Optional
  • to taste Poppy Seeds *Optional
Throw all your veggies in a large bowl and set aside (broccoli, corn, and carrot). In another bowl make your dressing for the veggies. Mix together the mayo, lemon juice, sugar, vinegar, salt, and pepper.  Pour the dressing over your veggies and mix until all the veggies are coated. Spinkle over some fake bacon bits and poppy seeds (if desired). Throw it in the fridge till you are ready to serve
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 8 Servings

Broccoli Crunch Salad - #Vegan and #Gluten Free!
Do you have a favorite cool and crunchy meal for when the weather gets warmer? 

do's and don'ts

Do's and Don'ts of Instastories For Bloggers

8:00 AM

One of my goals this year is to share more Lifestyle and Social Media content here on the blog. As a soon to be University of Florida Telecom grad I am super inspired to share my knowledge in the social media field and hope it helps you! 
I am in no way a professional. Social Media is an ever-evolving field so I am learning new things every day! 

When instastories was first introduced, I knew this was going to change the social media game.
Yes it was similar to snapchat but let's be real, Instagram is just so much more "aesthetically" pleasing.
I know many hate that word but that is what Instagram is, it is a cleaner and more appealing social media platform.

As bloggers, using Instagram and InstaStories is SO important to our brand.
Instastories especially gives followers and future brand collaborators a peek into your daily and personal life. So it's so important if you want to put yourself out there to put yourself out there the right way, and in a way that will make you appealing to brands!

Here are my Do's and Don't of InstaStories for Bloggers 

Do: Post throughout the day
With the growing popularity of instastories by all users, it's hard to stay in that top 3 or 4 icons at the top of any Instagram page. By posting throughout the day it will keep your stories towards the front of the line on everyone's feeds.

Don't: Overshare
While sharing is important, is it also important not to overshare. Nothing turns away followers or brand partners then having to tap through too many Instastorie pictures and video. Keep it short and simple.

Tip: To avoid oversharing, break up your day.
 If your spending time outside in the morning, capture just a photo or two of your time in the garden.
Instead of videoing what you are eating for lunch, snap a photo and use fonts to create appealing photos for followers to read.  

Do: Be Yourself
No one likes a fake instagramer. If you like to dance while you cook, video it. If your dog is doing something adorable, share it (come one, everyone LOVES dogs on Instagram). Be yourself.

Don't: Get too personal
Now, this isn't to say if you have something to say you shouldn't say it. We all have amazing First Amendment rights that allow us to share our thoughts. But if you are someone wanting to work with companies in the future you may want to be careful. One thing that I personally don't like to see on Instastories is people who share content that is either random or treat it like snapchat. Remember if your a blogger, brands are watching you. Be yourself but don't share so much of your life that it overtakes your brand.

Good to know: 70% of Employers are looking at your social profiles before they hire you.*
This also goes for brands that may be checking your socials out.
Ask yourself, if you were a brand. Would you want to work with you? 

Do: Share visually pleasing content.
Is that photo of your lunch bland? Add a filter, pop some color around the font. Even on videos put SOMETHING on there to catch people's eye. Instagram's new GIF feature is PERFECT for adding something small but visually appealing to your post.
Need a fun background for a text post? Use Canvas Instastories template. It's perfect for this.

Don't: Overuse the tools
It's always nice to have those colorful stories but don't put so much that it clutters your image. Your image should shine through the Instagram tools you use.

Tip: Chose just one of two tools per post. 
This will keep your images looking clean and not overcluttered while also catching a viewers eye as they tap through.

Do: Utilize Highlights
This is a great way as a content creator to keep your stories organized. I know as a blogger, it's a great way to keep certain posts/content I'm passionate about relevant and easy to access. 

Don't: Have too many Highlights.
Yes, use highlights! But focus on the content you'd want followers to see. If you were a follower of a brand, what kind of content would you want to see? Narrow it down to just a handful so your followers aren't having to scroll through too many. 

Do: Check yourself!
I'm guilty of NOT following this. I am the grammar fail QUEEN!
Always check your story before you post it. Check for grammar, and check your background. You may be forgetting that bra you had hanging on the door in the background ;) 

Don't: Post willy-nilly
This goes along with the Don't: Get to personal. If you posting willy-nilly, be careful. Maybe you posted a story where you cussed a little or said something harsh. A brand may not want to work with you because you just don't care what people think. If you want to work with brands in the future, you need to think about them. Representing yourself in the best light.

Tip: People don't realize how EASY it is to sue for defamation from a social media post.
See this article. (this is a very crazy example but gives you an idea)
By taking the time to make sure all your ducks are in a row, 
that your grammar is good, may save you from dealing with the law.

Like I said, I am not a professional, but I feel these are some important tips for any blogger to follow.
If you have any question from this post or suggestions for my next social media post feel free to tweet me @SimplySamanthaC or comment below.

crock pot meal

Crock Pot Lentil Tacos

7:00 AM

I love me some lentils. They can be very versatile if you find the right recipe. 
And they are so beneficial! Full of fiber, iron, protein, and zinc!

#GlutenFree + #Vegan Crock Pot Lentil Tacos

You know that juice that comes out of regular taco meat that flows down the tortilla as you eat it?
These Lentil Tacos give off that same juicy goodness!
#GlutenFree + #Vegan Crock Pot Lentil Tacos
I think the salsa really helps give it that taco juicyness. Salsa in this recipe is SO important! 
#GlutenFree + #Vegan Crock Pot Lentil Tacos
#GlutenFree + #Vegan Crock Pot Lentil Tacos

print recipe

Crock Pot Lentil Tacos
The perfect plant-based alternative for Taco Tuesday!
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1-3 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 cup dry green lentils, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 cup mild salsa
  • 14 oz vegetable broth
Put everything in the crockpot and cook on high for 6-8 hours.If you are at home, check on it from time to time and stir or add water if need be.The lentils should absorb most if not all the liquid. Throw the lentils over some nachos, wrap it in a tortilla or lettuce wrap!
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 8 Serving

Here is a little I made a while back showing how easy it is to make these lentil tacos.


Pad Thai | Gluten Free & Vegan Friendly

7:30 AM

Can you obsess over a recipe?  If so, this would be a one I am obsessing with one at the moment. 
Its so SIMPLE yet so delicious!
(yes, I'm aware I say this about every recipe I post, but its true!)

Pad Thai | #GlutenFree & #VeganFriendly

This pad thai is no P.F Changs but it is pretty amazing! You can easily add more veggies, tofu, chicken, or whatever your little heart desires!

Pad Thai | #GlutenFree & #VeganFriendly

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Pad Thai | Gluten Free - Vegan Friendly |
This dish is sure to be a staple in your household. Quick, easy, and can be made vegan!
  • 16oz Rice Noodles*
  • 4 tablespoons Brown Sugar
  • 4 tablespoons Lime Juice
  • 6 tablespoons Gluten Free Soy Sauce
  • a squirt Sriracha
  • Olive Oil
  • chopped green onions
  • 1 clove Garlic, minced
  • 4, lightly beaten Eggs (optional for vegans)
  • chopped roasted peanuts (optional)
Cook noodles according to box/directions. Just be sure not to make too early as gluten-free noodles clump.In a small bowl, whisk together brown sugar, lime juice, soy sauce, and sriracha. Set aside. In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.Add scallion whites and garlic and cook until fragrant Add eggs and cook (if using the eggs)Add noodles, rest of green onions, and sauce to skillet and toss.Serve noodles with chopped peanuts on top (optional).
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 4 servings

*I use Tinkyada White Rice Spaghetti Noodles but you can use regular rice noodles as well.

Here's a video to make it easier for you!
 (this video is the recipe cut in half which you can if you don't need 16oz of noodles ;) ) 

UPDATED 4/5/18

Butternut Squash

Black Bean and ButterNut Squash Mexican Skillet

8:00 AM

Don't knock butternut squash in a Mexican dish till you try it. I think I had my first butternut squash taco experience in East Nashville at Mas Tacos (the best), and I've been dreaming of that sweet and spicy goodness ever since.
The sweetness from the squash just complements the spices and black beans in this recipe so well. You'll be going back for seconds! 

#glutenfree and #vegan Black Bean and Butternut Squash Mexican Skillet

#glutenfree and #vegan Black Bean and Butternut Squash Mexican Skillet

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Black Bean and ButterNut Squash Mexican Skillet
A tasty, zesty, and flavorful easy weeknight skillet meal. Gluten Free and Vegan!
  • 2 teaspoon Olive Oil
  • 3 cups 1/2 inch diced, Butternut Squash**
  • to taste Salt and Pepper
  • 1 diced Medium Yellow Onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic Garlic
  • 1/2 diced Jalapeno*
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Chili Powder
  • 1 - 15oz Can Black Bean
  • 15oz Red Enchilada Sauce
  • 1 cup Cheddar or Fiesta Blend Vegan Cheese
  • 8 Corn Tortillas or Crushed Tortilla Chips
In a large cast iron of pan, heat olive oil. When hot, add olive oil, garlic, and jalapeno and cook till onions are translucent and garlic is fragrant. *You can use jarred jalapeno works just as well as fresh. I actually prefer to use jarred because its less spicy (to my taste)Next add cubed squash, spices, and cook. Stirring occasionally till squash is cooked through. **to make this recipe 10x easier. Use frozen squash After adding the squash, add black beans, corn tortilla (or corn chips) and enchilada sauce.Turn the heat down and add 1/2 cup of cheese and mix it in. Top with crushed tortilla chips. Once mixed add the rest of the cheese to the top and cover the pan with a lid or aluminum foil and let the cheese on top melt.Once melted remove from heat, top with your favorite toppings and enjoy!
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 4 Serving

You can also use a broiler to melt the cheese on the top. Just be aware it burns quickly, so if you had tortilla chips on top (like I did) it will burn quickly ;)
I love to top my dish with some vegan sour cream (recipe from hot for food). While the hubs likes a lot of salsa and some more cheese on his.
Happy Cooking Friends!
#glutenfree and #vegan Black Bean and Butternut Squash Mexican Skillet
UPDATED // 4/2/18