2015 Goals Recap

Following my blog traditions (7 years running!), here is my recap on achieving my 2015 goals...

+ worry less
Hmm...Well I tried.  I don't think I'll ever truly be able to share the worrier in me, but I think I've done a better job at letting go, stepping back, and taking a deep breath when things are beyond my control.  I still worry about lots of things, but I think I'm getting better at being present, enjoying the moment, and letting today be today, and leaving some of that worry behind.

+ read more books
This is true, while I haven't polished off any complete bookshelves, I definitely read more than my paltry 2 books in 2014.  This has spiked significantly since I discovered you can check out ebooks on your kindle!  WHAT!?  How did I not know this before?

+ get outside
We definitely took advantage of our gorgeous summer weather and got outside almost everyday.  We haven't been outside all that much with a newborn these past few weeks - but I think that's excusable, right? 

+ try and shop/spend locally
Um...not so much.  I'm a sucker for Amazon Prime and the convenience of a drive-through (especially with two kids in tow), however, I'm debating doing Starbucks-free in 2016.  If I tally up the amount of money I fork over to that company, it makes me cringe...  Thoughts? 

+ other random goals and ideas
…successfully make a poached egg - nope
…memorize a recipe for homemade pie crust -YES!  I did this and have made 9 pies from scratch
…wait to get to work to check email (i.e. not right when I wake up) - yes, definitely better
…make chocolate babka - not yet...
…drink more water - a definite improvement!
…finish my daughter's baby book - no but finished her 1st year in review video...

What are your goals or resolutions for 2016?

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Past goals for 2015201420132012201120102009

Quote of the Week

"The only power we have in our life is our attitude and that makes all of the difference."
~ Mimi Ikonn


Dinner Last Night: Lemon Chicken Piccata with Grilled Bread

I've had my eye on this recipe for a while, and finally made it last night!  Definitely a keeper.  For future makings, I'd suggest plating in wide shallow bowls so you and your guests can appropriately use your grilled bread to soak up the luscious lemony-caper-white wine sauce to its fullest.  In our case, this was passing a bowl of sauce back and forth, taking turns dipping our bread.  

Also noted; from now on, I'll be taking this route for grilling bread, none of this baking-in-the-oven business as done previously for bruschetta and similar dishes.  Bread that's basked in a bath of butter and olive oil tastes WAY more delicious!


Tis the Season to Get Mail!

Tis the season for holiday cards!  Where collecting the daily mail is such a treat.  Bills schmills, I look forward to receiving and opening the cards of friends and family every year!  I remember as a kid, my mom used to store our pile of cards in a little basket in a hutch in our kitchen.  After school, my sister would pour over them; taking in the festive stamps, the shiny paper, and the candid smiles.  

This year is a unique year for us, in that I wanted to combine birth announcement and holiday card, since our sweet boy joined us on October 23rd, it was close enough that I could've send separate birth announcements, but instead decided to wrap up our shared joy of the season and our babe into one joyful card.

So...I hopped on over to my go-to, Tiny Prints, and got to work narrowing down my favorite winter birth announcement designs {here, here, and here} until I finally found the one

This year there are all kinds of options to expedite the process, including their address assistant to address all of our envelopes.  And the option of picking a matching return address wrapper.  Sweet!

If you're looking at the calendar and noticing time is a-ticking - I can't recommend Tiny Prints enough!  So many lovely choices to fit your mood this season.  Don't wait, the current promotion is 40% off site-wide plus free shipping with the code BESTSALE40FS (ends Thursday!).


Dinner Last Night: Baked Sausage Kale Gnocchi

It's comfort food for days around these parts.  Between the torrential downpours by day and generosity of friends bringing homemade or takeout meals to our doorstep, we have been cuddled up indoors, cozying up with our newborn, and filling ourselves up with comfort food goodness.  Lasagnas and ziti and soup, oh my!  Add this little diddy to the list, baked sausage kale gnocchi.  I considered it a teensy bit healthy because "kale" is in the title.  It's all about perspective, right?

Dinner Last Night: Spaghetti Squash with Mushrooms & Parmesan

Opted for a healthier squash side to accompany our chicken - spaghetti squash with mushrooms and parmesan.  Extremely easy, quite satisfying, and of course, delicious.  Even my squash-averse husband had seconds, always a good sign!

Go Barbie Go!

Never thought I'd be posting a commercial for Barbie's, but this one is so empowering, and demonstrates little girls that they are capable of anything!

Quote of the Week

"You've always had the power my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself." 
The Wizard of Oz


Friday Fun

Looking forward to a cozy weekend cuddled up with my family - with a stroller walk or two in between.  Our nights might be sleepless here and there, but our hearts are happy.  Have a great weekend!

+ loved this family's creativity - an Inside Out Halloween

+ a 4-ingredient flu season tonic that works

+ Norway's secrets to enjoying a long winter

+ wanting to try this recipe

+ perfect sign for a child's playroom

+ this Thanksgiving appetizer looks delectable!

+ ideas to mix up your wrapping paper game for the holidays

+ homemade focaccia, yes, please!

+ oxford's word of the year is...an emoji?

+ wouldn't mind noshing on this gourmet breakfast



My little baby is 3 weeks old already!  We are spending our days cozied up in our warm house, snuggling under fleecy blankets, watching newborn stretches and startles.  It's wonderful.  In the meantime, here's a few links of what we've been up to...

+ binge watching these HGTV gems on Netflix

+ attempting to read this during feedings

+ devouring episodes of this podcast

+ eyeing these fall-ish recipes, yum, yum, and more yum

+ recording my gratitude in this new journal

+ excited to hear about this movie sequel coming next March

+ loving this cute snowy sweatshirt for my littles


Weekend Baking: Gingersnaps

It seems my sweet tooth has returned, taking a brief hiatus during my pregnancy, only to return with a vengeance post-partum.  These gingersnaps a la Smitten Kitchen made for the perfect cookie aroma filling the house on a misty, drizzly, rainy fall Sunday.  Amazing - as all her recipes are.  Enough said.

Quote of the Week

"Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed.  Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude."
~ Denis Waitley


It's a Boy!

It's a boy!

We welcomed Cooper Owen into the world!  He almost arrived on our fourth anniversary after a fairly quick labor, but ultimately decided he wanted his own special day!  Cooper weighed in at 9 pounds 7 ounces!  We are home now as a family of four, enjoying our newborn snuggles and cuddles, and so in love!

Dinner Last Night: Creamy Butternut Squash Alfredo

When I saw this recipe on Little Baby Garvin, my first reaction was YUM!! I need to make that this week!  I've never been a huge fan of fettuccine alfredo, it's a little too rich for my taste, but it's one of my husband's favorites.  Aside from the pasta and 1 cup of milk, this recipe is mostly vegetable based, so it's definitely on the lighter side as alfredos go.  I served with crumbled applewood smoked baked and pomegranate seeds - the perfect garnish of salty and sweet.  It was delicious!  Also, just a note, there was plenty of sauce to go around, I ended up freezing half for a later date.  Definitely a repeat recipe.

Weekend Baking: Pumpkin Scones

Tis the season for pumpkin, and I just can't get enough!  This weekend, I made these pumpkin scones during nap time.  I didn't have cranberries on hand (who does in October!?) so I substituted in a large handful of pomegranate seeds, which turned out splendidly and was visually appealing as well, as though dotted with deep red jewels.  


Friday Fun

Happy fall and happy due date to me!  Yep, today is the predicted date of our sweet babe's arrival.  We'll see if he/she decides to make a grand entrance.  Stay tuned!

+ loving this new nail polish shade for fall

+ a new favorite food blog

+ this candle probably smells A-MAZING

+ adorable kids tee for the kiddo that's a total ham

+ quite possibly the best bread bowl ever

+ loving rifle paper co.'s holiday collection

Quote of the Week

"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, 
if one has not dined well."
~ Virginia Woolf


Pumpkins Galore

Here's a smattering of pumpkin recipes that have caught my eye this past week.


Dinner Last Night: Eggplant Parmesan

Call it an old wives tale, but they claim that eggplant parmesan can stimulate labor.  While I know this isn't the famous recipe that boasts this claim to fame, it's simple and easy to prepare, and made for a delicious dinner.  My husband - who is a reluctant eggplant eater at best - even cleaned his plate!

I'll keep you posted if it works…

Fall Favorites: Pumpkin Apple Muffins

I love all things about fall.  The warm, homey scents in the air, the vibrant colors and crisping of the leaves, the slight hint of chill in the air, and the aromatic flavors of fall.  And if you can't tell already, I love anything and everything pumpkin.  I recently found this recipe for pumpkin apple muffins, with a delightful crunchy streusel topping.  I didn't have the energy to make the accompanying cinnamon cream butter, but it sounds equally delicious.  Enjoy!


Fall Favorites: Starbucks Fall Cups

Is it just me, or is anyone else smitten with these fall Starbucks cups?  I love the design, it's so festive and fun for fall!  Talk about good marketing, it definitely makes me want to go out and get a fall-flavored latte.  I've always been a fan of the pumpkin spice latte (though I go for 1-pump, not 3, as it's too sweet for me), but I just recently tried their new toasted graham latte, and it's pretty good!  Anyone else tried it yet?  It's less sweet than pumpkin spice, with a creamy, subtle note of graham cracker.  


Fall Favorites: Crockpot Granny Smith Applesauce

Fall favorites is back - as is my favorite season!  This past Saturday we made a trip to a local farm which has a 100-year old apple press.  It's been a tradition to go every year at the brink of fall, but this time my daughter was much more alert and interested in "the apple store."   We picked up some granny smith apples, apple butter, and cold pressed cider.  

I'd seen this recipe for granny smith crockpot applesauce on another blog, and thought I'd give it a whirl, thought honestly I was a bit skeptical as my last attempt at crockpot applesauce was a huge flop. However, this recipe did not disappoint, and today at lunch she gobbled her helping right up!  It's the perfect balance of tart and sweet with the warmth of the cozy spices of fall (in addition to being crazy easy, throw everything in the pot and cook for 4 hours).


Podcast Recommendations?

What are you listening to these days?

I am trying to up my podcast ante, as I know with a new baby due in three short weeks, my days of reading an actual book cover to cover might be slim to none.  Here are some of my podcast favorites:
* The Moth Podcast (my favorite!)

I've dabbled in a few others like Mortified and Burnt Toast, but these 5 are solidly in my queue.  So, what are you listening to? Do tell...


Weeknight Baking: Homemade Rainbow Chip Cake

{my cake}

Well I did it!  It was a goal of mine to make rainbow chip cake from scratch and now I can officially say I did it! I whipped up this labor of love cake for my daughter's birthday, and thankfully it was quite delicious - though the birthday girl refused even one bite!  

Part of what takes so much time is not the cake itself, but the melting and coloring of white chocolate to make the chips.  Note: I did take some iPhone pictures of the chips I created, but the photos from Ashley's blog were so much prettier I'm just going ahead and sharing hers.
{rainbow chips}

Overall - the cake was good, albeit time consuming.  Truth be told, rainbow chip cake is not my fave, however I could eat a tub of the frosting single handedly with a  box a graham crackers.  

Friday Fun

+ a cozy poncho for crisp fall days

+ this meyer lemon tart looks pretty delicious

+ for the DIY over-achiever, pumpkin straws

+ pretty excited for the fall ice cream flavors at Molly Moon's

+ speaking of ice cream…care to host an ice cream craw? (yum!)

+ ever considered a capsule wardrobe?

+ dreaming of the amalfi coast

+ cider braised chicken - perfect fall dinner

Fall Wreathes

With cooler weather just around the corner, I'm eyeing all of these delicious fall wreaths to add some zip to our front door as the seasons change.  What's your favorite?

images/etsy, crate and barrel

Quote of the Week

“Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it may not always be so."
― Mary Jean Irion


Grilled Peaches

Have you ever made peaches on the grill?  I don't know why I waited so long.  We grilled up peaches using this recipe on Friday night (sans bleu cheese) and they were superb!  The peaches were even a little on the firm side, so I was doubtful if they'd sweeten up, but sure enough, a little sugar, balsamic vinegar, and voila!  Holding onto summer as long as we can!


The Astronaut Wives Club

I am hooked on a new show - The Astronaut Wives Club - have you heard of it?  It's a period drama based on the true story and events of America's race to the moon.  Plus, the 60's wardrobe of the characters is pretty fun!  

Of course, I just learned that the first season is unfortunately the only, as it was recently cancelled. However, it makes for a great new binge-watching show since you can't get sucked in too deep with a cap on episodes.  Available on Hulu streaming in case you're interested. :)


Friday Fun

Have a lovely weekend!  Wrapping up week 2 back at school and hitting 35 weeks pregnant today, woot, woot!  Baby is coming soon!!  Now if we could only come agree on names...  

+ this airbnb looks a-mazing!!

+ Mindy Kaling's new book!

+ chic lego decor

+ an ikea hack we may try...

+ helpful laundry tip I used this week (it works!)

+ ever had a rose spritzer?

+ Turks and Caicos for a next vacay?


Dinner Last Night: Summer Skillet Gnocchi

With back to school starting this week, I was looking for relatively easy dinners to make at home to help simplify the dinner hour, as I knew I'd be more tired that usual.  This dish - summer skillet gnocchi - was a pleasant, filling dinner followed by decent leftovers.  We didn't have shiitake mushroom on hand, so I subbed in some zucchini from our garden.  The grilled corn adds a lovely element of sweetness to the dish, and thank goodness for Trader Joe's boil-for-3-minutes gnocchi to save the day.  Yum!


Friday Fun

+ check out this crazy cliff house on the Aegean Sea

+ loving this motherhood series, back for its third year

+ the cutest cats pajamas

+ pretty abode in San Francisco

+ healthy and easy eggplant parmesan

+ what you didn't already know about laundry

Have a great weekend!

Weekday Baking: Jacked Up Banana Bread

My girl and I did another baking project today - Smitten Kitchen's Jacked Up Banana Bread, except in muffin form.  Part of what makes it "jacked up" is the addition of bourbon, which I was lacking, but I added all the other spices which I haven't often include in other banana bread/muffin recipes - such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.  Just for good measure we added a heaping handful of chocolate chips - because who doesn't love a little extra chocolate in their life? 


Weekday Baking: Blackberry Scones

Tis the season for blackberries - at least in the Pacific Northwest, as the blackberries are plentiful this August due to our dry, hot summer.  We live within walking distance of a huge crop of blackberries, so our late night evening stroller walks have also become blackberry picking opportunities.

Since she has shown the slightest interest in baking, I've been trying to incorporate baking into our mornings once a week.  She enjoys mixing the best, but tends to lose interest after all the ingredients are combined.  Luckily, the product is almost always enjoyable. :)  I made these blackberry scones (without lavender as the recipe calls for - because who has dried lavender lying around?).  They were delicious, pretty sure I ate most of the batch... Oh well!


Friday Fun

+ shiny wine pearls (in lieu of ice) for your white wine spritzer

+ nutella smores puff pastry pop tarts - wow!

+ how to curl your hair with a curling wand (I always need help in this department)

+ printable kiwi coasters

+ soft, cozy shirt for fall

+ absolutely LOVE this dress


Quote of the Week

"Live, travel, adventure, bless, and don't be sorry."
~ Jack Kerouac


Cookbook Crush: Date Night In

This episode of Cookbook Crush is especially special, as not only have I purchased this cookbook after my usual pre-reading via the local library, but I made three recipes from it within my first week of purchase.  Cha-Ching!  As such, it is definitely crush-worthy, and worth a look!

Date Night In is the brainchild of Seattle chef/baker Ashley Rodriguez, author of the popular food blog, Not Without Salt.  This cookbook reads as a smattering of heartfelt anecdotes, describing how amidst their hectic lives, both working full-time, and raising three kids, she and her husband Gabe felt the need to reconnect weekly in order to sustain their relationship.  However, not being able to afford pricy date nights out every week, they were forced to improvise. Hence, "date night in" was born.  They began having date nights every Thursday - meaning dinner for just the two of them - no kids allowed, enjoyed after their children were tucked away in bed.  

The cookbook is organized in a series of complete meals portioned for two people, in addition to timelines for prep in the days ahead, handy lists of ingredients needed to complete the meal, and notations relaying the significance of the recipes chosen.  Now often, I skip the little blurbs in cookbooks, after all I'm here for the recipes, right?  But no, not with this one.  Ashley's cookbook reads like a love letter to both her craft and her family, and it's emotion is palpable and inspiring.  

So far, I've made maple-coriander carrots, apple radicchio slaw, and strawberry shortcake trifle, with about a dozen other recipes bookmarked for future endeavors.  All were superb and I find myself actually excited to read and reread this cookbook again and again, it's truly that good!

Happy cooking!