Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Chili Macaroni & Cheese

Fall came on like a force in Boise, with one crisp morning after another and a much appreciated weekend of rain. I’m welcoming the new season with its changes in activities, wardrobe, recipes, and more. While I’m not always so happy to wake up in the dark, I love the scent in the air, being wrapped in a scarf, and curling up with a big bowl of something delicious. After a summer of salads and grilling, I am so excited for comfort food! To kick things off, I made an easy favorite – Chili Mac. This is one of those meals that comes together in a snap and uses plenty of pantry staples that you may have on hand. It's hearty, filled with protein, and hits the spot on a cold evening. Enjoy!

(Serves 6+)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 pound ground turkey
15 ounce can low sodium tomato sauce plus ½ can saucy water
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
½ tablespoon garlic powder
½ tablespoon onion powder
12 ounce can low sodium black beans, drained
3 cups dry pasta (I used brown rice penne)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
Toppings: Black olives, green onion, salsa, sour cream or yogurt

In a large, deep pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and ground turkey, breaking up turkey with a wooden spoon. Cook, stirring occasionally, until turkey is no longer pink and onions have softened.
Add to the pan the tomato sauce, water, cherry tomatoes, and spices, and stir to incorporate fully. Continue heating over medium until tomatoes begin to soften.
Add black beans and stir to incorporate. Leave heat on medium until it comes to a slow boil, then reduce heat to simmer.
Cook pasta per directions and drain.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Pour pasta into a large casserole dish (I used a 9x13 glass dish). Add ½ cup cheddar cheese to sauce and stir until melted. Pour sauce over pasta and mix together.
Sprinkle remaining ½ cup cheese over the top.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted and golden. Top with your favorites! I put sliced black olives and a dollop of Trader Joe’s Jalapeno Yogurt Dip on top and it was outstanding.


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Our Newest Addition...

Jeff has been campaigning for a second dog for years, usually in fun but sometimes more seriously. I knew I couldn't handle another Vizsla...all 60 pounds of Bear, who thinks he's a tiny puppy that fits on your lap, is plenty of dog to love. So when Jeff sent me a link to a rescue last week, one would think that I wouldn't have given it a second look. But sometimes I surprise myself. 

Norma Jean, a Schnauzer and Scottie mix estimated to be about six months old and a dozen pounds, was looking for a new home. She was rescued a few towns over and had been in foster care for a couple of weeks. Her temperament and personality sounded perfect - she was playful, loved to snuggle, and would be very happy in a home with another dog. After reading her bio, I had fallen in love. I texted Jeff that I wanted to meet her and filled out an online application. A few hours later, I got a call from Norma's foster mom to schedule a home visit. She asked me lots of questions about me and Jeff, Bear, our home, our lifestyle. It felt like a great job interview, and I was thrilled that she was taking all of the necessary precautions to make sure Norma ended up in the right place. We scheduled our home visit for a few days later. When they arrived at our house, Norma was incredibly friendly, running around the yard, sniffing Bear, and letting us pet and hold her. After an hour of checking out the place, her foster mom asked if we loved her. The answer was simple (another surprise!). And just like that, we had a new puppy to adore. 

Growing up, we had a few kittens from the Humane Society, but this is the first pet I've had who was rescued from a dangerous environment. I never imagined getting another dog because I wasn't ready to care for a tiny puppy, but the decision to adopt Norma was an easy one. We could give her a home, a playmate, a family, and she would enrich our lives. A few days into having her and I can't imagine what it was like before. Bear is still getting used to this little creature who bats at his ears and wants to play tug of war all day, but I know they will come to be best friends.

Welcome to the family! Meet Hazel.

Now that I'm a rescue convert, check out the services available in your own community! We worked with Fuzzy Pawz and had a wonderful experience.


Monday, September 1, 2014

New Glasses from Firmoo

I have been loving the online eyewear craze but it can be intimidating to purchase glasses without the ability to try them on. I have a small face and head so unisex glasses don't always work on me, and I've made mistakes with the size and dimensions of frames before. So when Firmoo approached me to do a product review, I was excited to redeem myself and find a pair that works for me. I've seen Firmoo glasses on friends and bloggers and I love that they have a huge selection and reasonable prices. Armed with the knowledge of my spatial limitations, I got to shopping. The online experience was great - the dimensions of the glasses are very clear, all of details are readily available, plus many of the frames have customer pictures to show how they actually look on a person. I did my research and picked this pair. I love the sleek brown pattern, the metal arms, and the positive reviews from other wearers. After entering my prescription details, the glasses came quickly and in an adorable map printed case. They fit perfectly, the dimensions are just right, and I'm loving wearing them. I am so happy with my order and I can't wait to get another pair...sunglasses maybe? is offering its First Pair Free Program right now, with select frames free to first time customers. Also, Firmoo is celebrating its 5th anniversary with a special discount of 40% off storewide! Use the code FIRMOO5Y before September 10. Get online and pick out a pair! 


Friday, August 22, 2014

Favorite Things Friday

Summer has gone by in a flash! I always make a lofty to do list in June, filled with projects and plans and adventures, and now in late August, many boxes are left unchecked. But it has been a wonderful summer. I shared Boise with three of my besties, watched another get married in California, explored Idaho with half my parents (the other half is coming in September!), made progress on the house and yard, and enjoyed many warm nights walking around the new neighborhood, drinking wine and drinking in the serenity of our home. I am learning that I'm more of a homebody than I ever thought, that I love quiet nights, making dinner, lounging in our peaceful bedroom. I realize that despite my love of social outings and my career in a fast paced, fast talking field, I'm restored by the laughter, the hugs, and the easiness that I get from my little family at home. I'm always excited by adventures, big or small, by getting out of town and around the people I love, but Jeff and I both needed lots of downtime this summer and I'm so glad we were able to embrace it. Here are a few favorite things that I'm loving right now...

White hot summer

My edible obsession

Inspired by Oscar Wilde

Organizing art for fall projects

Snap dragons and mason jars, what else do you need?


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Happy Three Years, Boise!

On July 8, three years ago, I moved to Boise - wide eyed, bushy tailed, and literally following my heart. So much has happened in these three years – from moving in with Jeff and experiencing all of the discomfort and joy of first time cohabitation, to getting engaged and planning a wedding and getting married, to starting my own life here, making friends and building my career, to buying our house and settling down. I’ve always thought that the first few years out of college were the biggest catalysts for change. You’re out there in the world, umbilical cord cut, trying to make it. Those years were incredible for me, but there was always a little something missing, a weight that comes with being a sensitive and emotional young person in a life that’s moving a mile a minute and in a city that’s filled with pressure and opportunity and noise. Those were the years that shaped my path and gave me all the tools to be successful and driven, but these past three years have helped to identify who I am, what I want, and how to be happy, by no one’s standards but my own. Lately, I’ve been startled multiple times by the fact that I am watching myself grow up. I feel older, more mature and less worried, more confident about the choices I’ve made and less concerned with what I haven’t done. In the age of Instagram and Facebook, where you can compare your life, your travels, your beauty, your happiness, to someone else’s by the refreshing of the feed, it’s easy to be preoccupied with what could be instead of focusing on what is. I still get caught up and I don't always choose to listen, but I feel like I'm moving more comfortably in my late 20's and I have a growing self awareness of what really matters. 

This anniversary also means more than the two that came before it because I lived in New York City for three years. To have now been here for the same amount of time is bittersweet - I love being the girl from the big city, having those life experiences that you can only get from a few special and scary places in the world. My New York years had a profound impact on me and part of me misses the intensity and passion of the city, being surrounded by people with so much motivation and enthusiasm. However, the world is so full and I know that there's plenty more to see and learn. The transition to small city girl has been tumultuous at times, but ultimately a very positive one. I'm proud to have made that crazy leap, landed on my feet, and taken off running. I love my life and that makes me love Boise just a little more ;) Happy July 8th!


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Sunwear Season with Karlie Kloss x Warby Parker

The eyewear gurus at Warby Parker have made a few splashes in their history. First, they created stylish prescription glasses at affordable prices. Then they allowed us the store experience of trying on our selections from the comfort of the couch. Best of all, they inspired us with the concept of making an impact - for every pair of glasses we buy, they work with non-profits to provide a pair to someone in need. Up next? The debut of their newest collection, a collaboration with fashion magnet and ultimate cool girl Karlie Kloss. 
Karlie's sunglasses are delicate, feminine, and wearable, from the park to the patio, the farmer's market to the music festival. Available in three frame styles and multiple lens colors, there is a pair for every girl and every sunny occasion. Summer is upon us and I think the Clara frame would be perfect for an outdoor concert, brunch with the girls, or wherever Saturday takes you. And Warby Parker isn't letting the sunnies speak for themselves - a portion of each sale will benefit Edible Schoolyard NYC, an organization close to Karlie's heart that provides kitchens and gardens to low-income public schools, giving students the tools to develop lifelong healthy habits.
Here are two looks that I think will perfectly complement these new frames...
Warby Parker

Information and materials provided by Warby Parker, all opinions are my own.