Thursday, March 28, 2013

Thankful Thursday

After a beyond wonderful weekend in California, Jeff and I are back to Boise, work, and reality. It was so nice to get away for a few days to spend time with my family and relax. We went on hikes and to the beach every day, had delicious food and wine, took in breathtaking views, and fit in a little wedding planning here and there (more on that later!). It was very restful, and allowed me to really soak up all of the exciting and positive things that are happening in the coming months. Here are a few that I'm thankful for today...

Wedding tastings
It truly is the best part. Jeff and I indulged in a 15 course meal which was heavenly, and to top it off, we had an awesome dessert tasting at SusieCakes. It was all so fun and silly. We picked some great options and can't wait to eat it all again in a few months!

We had warm weather and clear skies the whole weekend and I think the Vitamin D did us good. Now it's going to be 70 degrees in Boise for the next few days and I can't contain myself.

It was so fun to get a big group together and have quality time to just hang out. We're all counting down until the next opportunity - my brother's wedding in July!

My support system 
From silly Snapchat pictures from friends to long talks with my mom to daily e-mails with my MOH, I am grateful to have such amazing people in my life. You are all the absolute best.

Cafe au laits, Grey's Anatomy marathons, short sleeves, a fresh batch of cookies, 
Bear, hugs, evening walks, happy hour, sunshine


Friday, March 22, 2013

Point Reyes Getaway

Our view

This morning, Jeff and I woke up in gorgeous Point Reyes Station, California, where we'll be spending a long weekend with my family. I grew up in Marin County, the sprawling Northern suburbs of San Francisco, in a small town close to the city with plenty going on. Point Reyes is another world, despite being only 45 minutes from my hometown. With a population of a few hundred, this coastal hamlet is known for fresh and organic foods, amazing hiking trails, and some of the most beautiful and breathtaking ocean I've ever seen. I grew up coming here to visit the sea lions, play in the waves, and explore, learning about the native plants and animals.

My dad and step mom have come in from New York City, and my step siblings, their significant others, and my niece and nephew are here from their nearby homes for a staycation. Jeff and I have a few wedding things planned (our tastings mostly, which I'm already hungry for!), but will otherwise be picking up the slow pace of the locals and relaxing for a few days before the busy spring sets in.

Have a lovely weekend!


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Wedding Wednesday: Little White Dresses

I have long avoided buying white dresses because I certainly couldn't wear them to friends' weddings. Well, the tables have turned and with bachelorette parties, showers, and a rehearsal dinner coming up, I've been on the hunt for the perfect little white dresses. I love a little sparkle and flare for a cocktail dress and eyelet or lace on a more casual choice. Until I'm wearing the dress, a few of these LWDs will have to do:

 Top Left - Top Right - Top Center - Bottom Left - Bottom Right - Bottom Center

Which is your favorite LWD? Are you excited to rock white in warmer weather? 
Happy first day of spring :)


Monday, March 18, 2013

Southwestern Stuffed Peppers

Here is an easy weekday dinner recipe that can be made so many different ways, with whatever you have laying around. I decided to go the Southwestern route, which was very tasty.

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(Makes 4 peppers)

4 bell peppers, cut in half with the seeds removed
2 cups brown rice, cooked
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 can reduced sodium black beans, drained
1 can reduced sodium diced tomatoes, drained
1 can diced green chiles
1 cup of corn
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, separated
Cayenne pepper, black pepper, salt to taste
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 avocado, diced (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cover a cookie sheet with tinfoil or parchment paper. Place peppers face down and bake for 30 minutes, or until tender.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat and saute onion and garlic until soft and translucent.
In a large bowl, mix rice, beans, tomatoes, chiles, corn, 1/4 cup cheese, onion and garlic, and seasoning.
Remove peppers from oven and fill each half with rice and bean mixture. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve with avocado pieces on top, with a veggie or salad and chicken!

*My peppers were pretty little so I ended up with more filling than I could fit in the pepper halves. I put the additional filling in a small casserole dish, sprinkled some extra cheese on top, baked it with the peppers, and served it on the side!


Friday, March 15, 2013



 This quote completely sums up how I've been feeling lately. It's so easy to get consumed by busy schedules, tiny problems, things that just don't go your way, and forget to bring ourselves back to earth and be reminded just how good we have it. I used to think that in order to be truly happy and fulfilled, I would need money, fame, a fast paced life on top. If anything could have proven me wrong, it would be moving to Boise, where the desired speed is slow, where everyone is pretty normal, and where striking a work/life balance is a career aspiration. I feel incredibly blessed to get little heart flutters or to break out in a grin when I see my boy and my dog playing in the yard, when I make a really good cookie, or when my favorite song comes on the car radio. Sure, I still miss the hustle and bustle of the big city and I wouldn't be surprised if we ended up in one again, but right now, this is perfectly nice.

Have a happy and wonderful weekend!


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Wedding Wednesday: Bridesmaid Style

My big brother Nick is getting married this summer and I am honored to be one of his beautiful fiance's bridesmaids. Nick and Emily have been dating for ten years, so I have been able to watch their love blossom throughout my teens and twenties, serving as great role models for my own relationship. I'm overwhelmed with excitement for their nuptials and can't wait to celebrate! Their wedding is taking place on the coast of Massachusetts and will have a classic, romantic feel with touches of the 20's. The bridesmaids are wearing these gorgeous J.Crew chiffon gowns in Casablanca Blue, which will complement the ocean perfectly. I'm planning to keep my accessories simple and gold, wear comfortable shoes with a little height (wedges are a must wear at weddings on grass!), and keep a wrap close by for the breezy evening.


Monday, March 11, 2013

Glamming Up the Guest Room

One of the benefits of living in a city like Boise is that you can have a little house with an extra bedroom. When Jeff and I first moved into our current place, the second bedroom was his office, but he moved his business downtown a few months, and now we have a room to transform. Interior design and decor can be intimidating - I have all these great ideas but it takes time and money to turn them into reality - but I recently gave my office a little facelift and realized that it doesn't take much to make a room feel brand new. I want the guest room to be inviting and relaxing, a welcome spot for friends to unwind and a useful place for extra storage. Here is what's inspiring me for our guest room makeover:

A pop color lamp to dress up the bedside table
Easy DIY - turn an old crate into a nightstand
Patterned bins for extra blankets and towels
A pretty duvet brightens up the space
The perfect chair for relaxing with a throw blanket
Simple bookcase for storage and light reading
Vintage prints of our favorite cities


Friday, March 8, 2013

An Amazing Cookie Cake

I love baking and birthdays, so I thought a lot about a dessert to make for Jeff's big day. The wheels were turning, but I had to remind myself that this was about Jeff and his tastes, so I asked him for the three flavors or ingredients that he likes the most. His answer? Oatmeal, peanut butter, chocolate chip cookies. I literally typed those things into Google and was bombarded with recipes for every cookie imaginable. But I make cookies all the time and I wanted this to be extra special. I have been curious about cookie cakes for a while (they were not a common treat in my upbringing and I've only had it once), and I figured a cookie cake would be the perfect way to combine all of Jeff's favorite things. Enter the Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Oatmeal Skillet Cookie. It was love at first sight.

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Recipe, adapted from Averie Cooks:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour (I used almond flour to make it gluten-free)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned whole rolled oats (not quick cook or instant)
1/4 cup nonfat milk
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, separated

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, spray oven-safe skillet with cooking spray (or a 9x9 cake pan).
In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter for 1 minute or until fully melted.
Add sugar, egg, and vanilla to the melted butter and whisk to combine. 
Add the flour and baking soda and stir until just combined. Mix in oats and 1/2 cup chocolate chips. Pour about half of the dough into the skillet, reserving the rest to be added at the end.
Set skillet and bowl with remaining dough aside.
In a small bowl, combine milk and peanut butter and stir until smooth. Pour mixture over the dough in the skillet. 
Evenly sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top. Drop tablespoons of the reserved dough onto the peanut butter mixture, until the dough is used up and the top is mostly covered.
Bake for about 30 minutes, or until edges begin to brown and the top of the cookie is set. 

The original recipe states that the cake will continue to cook in the skillet and not to over bake it. I would say that this is completely up to you and how you like your cookies. I followed the directions and while it did continue to firm up a little, the bottom layer was still like cookie dough when we sliced into it an hour after it came out of the oven. It was still INSANE, literally the most flavorful thing I've ever eaten, and we sat there with our forks in our hands and our jaws dropped. I covered it overnight and then baked it for about 15 more minutes the next day. The flavors had set more by then and once it had cooled, I sliced it into bars and sealed it in Tupperware. It was so amazing for the rest of the week!

This is a "must try" recipes if you love peanut butter, oatmeal, and chocolate chips. The peanut butter forms a rich, creamy, icing like center that perfectly complements the brown buttery oatmeal cookie and chocolate. It was not too sweet and a scoop of vanilla ice cream really tied all the flavors together. I won't be waiting until February 22 to make this again!

Boyfriend Meter:
5 out of 5
"Mouthwatering, heavenly, rich"


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Wedding Wednesday: Just Desserts

Every bride and groom have top priorities for their wedding - a fun band, great food, a perfect location. I can't speak for my darling fiance, but after picking a venue, I started thinking about dessert. I have a huge sweet tooth so while multi-tiered wedding cakes are gorgeous, I knew that I would want more - a glutenous dessert table filled with our favorite treats. Jeff pitched chocolate chip cookies and I am the biggest fan of lemon bars. Who doesn't love either pie or cupcakes? The organic ice cream parlor around the corner? Bring it on. I know we'll have a small cake for us to cut and an array of goodies for everyone. I've been admiring dessert displays across the web and can't wait to try some at our tasting next month, the cherry on top of the wedding planning experience.

(all images via Pinterest)


Monday, March 4, 2013

Spring Style

On Friday, the fog lifted, the sky cleared, and it was almost 60 degrees in Boise. Everyone was in a euphoric state, stripping down to short sleeves and cropped pants with their windows rolled down. The weather continued to be beautiful all weekend, and it brought such a yearning for change. Aside from California, I haven't lived anywhere that has a very long spring, but it's my favorite season. Right now, I'm daydreaming about the wardrobe transitions that will take place in the next few weeks - when coats are left at home, legs are bare, and sunglasses rule. I'm loving fun and floral prints, shades of blue, and perfect nude shoes. Here are a few outfits I'm looking forward to:

At the Office

Playful polka dots - Colorful bell skirt - Simple flats and accessories - structured bag
(Shop this look)

Weekend Brunch

Go anywhere blazer - Cropped denim - Silky top - Carry all tote - Peep toe wedges - Sunglasses and bangles
(Shop this look)

Date Night

Peplum blouse - Trouser jeans with a little flare - Nude pumps and nails - Fun clutch and jewelry


Friday, March 1, 2013

Tostada Pizza

In high school, I could often be found eating the Tostada Pizza at California Pizza Kitchen with Jhani. It was unpredictably delicious and interesting, a cross between a taco and a flatbread. When brainstorming an easy, post-yoga meal that I could make this week, the tostada pizza popped into my mind. Before tackling it myself, I did a quick Google search and was not surprised to see that Ree from The Pioneer Woman had a recipe of her own (she really thinks of everything!). So I took a survey of what was in my kitchen and got busy.

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Recipe, adapted from The Pioneer Woman:
(Serves 4 as an entree, 8 as a side dish)

1 can low sodium black beans
1/4 teaspoon each garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
3 cups lettuce, chopped or shredded
8 ounces cherry tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons hot sauce (I used Tapatio)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees (or follow the instructions for your pizza crust)
In a small saucepan, mix beans with the garlic powder, onion powder, and cayenne pepper and cook over medium heat until bubbling. Using a potato masher, mash beans until they resemble refried beans. Reduce heat to low and cook until most of the liquid has been absorbed.
Spread the beans on each of your pizza crusts. Top with shredded cheddar cheese.
Bake for 7-9 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the pizzas are browned around the edges. 
While the pizza is baking, combine the yogurt and hot sauce in a small bowl until fully mixed.
Top each pizza with diced tomatoes, shredded lettuce, drizzle on the yogurt/hot sauce, and enjoy! I served ours with a mixed green salad and sauteed chicken breasts.

Boyfriend Meter:
4 out of 5
"Spicy, scrumptious, melt in your mouth"