Thursday, September 29, 2011

Who Needs T.V.?

   JB and I gave up cable a few months back. We just weren't really watching much tv, and figured we could save ourselves some money and maybe find a little more time on our hands. But sometimes, especially with all the new fun Fall shows on, we miss it, just a little.  So we decided to put that extra evening time to some good use and walk over to the ocean, but we got a little side tracked by this swing set. You're never to old to hop on and feel the wind between your toes. 

 The little park at the end of our street.
 Best shot of the night, hands down.
Love that face.
~ab

Monday, September 26, 2011

New Obsession


   I just can't get enough of this new mag, Mollie Makes. I picked up the first issue right before I left for Europe and was just blown away by all the amazing articles, photos, and cute diy projects, including a little 'make your own' project, complete with supplies stuffed in a rad little envelope on the front of every issue. Yes, please! Plus, since it's printed on a heavier cardstock, it almost has a feel of a book, which I seriously love.
   Last Thursday we did a lttle date night at B&N, and I found there was a new issue, and to my horror, that I missed one while I was away. (boo.) Then this evening we made an impromptu B&N stop (Yes, we are there a lot. What can I say, I l.o.v.e. books and magazines.) and to my delight, there was already a new issue on the newsstand! Turns out they are printing 13 issues a year!!
   This little video from their blog is so fun and inspiring, as is the 'making of' video below it. Check it out, and then run, don't walk, run to your nearest bookstore to purchase. You'll thank me, I promise.





~ab

Saturday, September 24, 2011

T'was a Good Night


   Last night was filled with awesome people, great food, and a little too much Sangria. Unfortunately, you won't be seeing any of it.  My camera decided to throw a temper tantrum and would not cooperate. After 15 minutes of frustrated button pushing and cursing, I decided to Just. Walk. Away. So, I went on to enjoy my evening with all the good food and good company, sans picture taking machine. (There were also plans for a homemade photobooth, that were obviously thwarted by said camera. Argh.) Why it did not occur to me to take some shots with my iPhone, I cannot tell you. Can copious amounts of Sangria cause absentmindedness? Maybe.
   I should note that this was not the camera I purchased for my trip. That picture taking machine has been returned, but that's another story for another day.
   Anyway, back to the task at hand. Even though I am limited in sharing images from last nights festivities (the shot above taken with Instagram is the lone survivor) I thought I could share a few recipes that I made.  If your eyes can't be pleased, perhaps your taste buds can.

   Our main course was Sweet Potato-Lentil Stew. I got the recipe from Alicia Silverstone's cookbook, The Kind Diet, and it was definitely a crowd pleaser. Made with yummy flavors like tumeric, cumin, coriander and cinnamon, this meal is hearty and warm, and very much feels like an Autumn dish. I served mine with brown rice, and my friends contributed cornbread and roasted veggies to round out the meal.

Sweet Potato-Lentil Stew
Ingredients:
1 medium onion, diced
2 small tomatoes, diced
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
Fine sea salt (optional)
2-3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4” cubes
7 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 cup brown or red lentils

Directions:

Heat two tablespoons of the broth over medium heat in a large, deep pot. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, for two minutes or until the onion starts to soften. Stir in the tomatoes and ginger and cook for three minutes. Stir in the turmeric, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cayenne, and a small pinch of salt, if using. Cook and stir for two minutes, then taste for seasonings; try to use only enough salt to heighten the flavors.
Add the sweet potatoes, broth, and lentils. Stir well, and bring to a boil over high heat. When the mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 40 minutes or until the lentils and sweet potatoes are soft.

***One quick word of warning, this makes enough to feed a small army! We hosted 14 last night, so I made two batches as it said it was for 6 to 8 servings. The second batch was partially dispensed in takeaway containers to my friends and the rest is in my fridge. This meal would be really great to freeze though if you were made it and were left with a ton leftover.


   For the main course dessert, we had s'more cups (pictured above, before the last step of dipping in melted chocolate) and ginger cookies, served with vanilla ice cream. It was pretty ridiculous.  The ginger cookies were 'scratch baked' cookies that you can just throw on a cookie sheet by Immaculate Baking Co. They are awesome, and don't have any of the nasty crap like hydronated oils or high fructose corn syrup. Kuddos to JB for knocking these out like a regular Betty Crocker. The s'more cups I made from scratch, but are super simple and quick. These may be my new go-to when I need something to bring to a party, or just on a random Thursday. After finding these on Pinterest, I got the recipe from Texas Cottage.

S'more Cups
Ingredients:

7  whole graham crackers (1 cup finely crushed)
1/4 cup powdered sugar
6 tablespoons butter, melted
4 bars (1.55 oz each) milk chocolate candy, divided
12 large marshmallows
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place graham crackers into a large resealable plastic bag. Finely crush into crumbs. Combine graham cracker crumbs, powdered sugar, and butter in a small bowl.
Place 1 tablespoon of crumb mixture in each cup of a mini muffin pan. Press crumbs to form shallow cups. Bake 4-5 minutes or until edges are bubbling. Meanwhile, break two of the candy bars into rectangles. Remove pan from oven; place one rectangle into each cup. Cut marshmallows in half crosswise using shears dipped in cold water. Place one marshmallow half, cut-side down, into each cup. Return to oven 1-2 minutes or until marshmallows are slightly softened. Remove pans from oven to cooling rack; cool 15 minutes. Carefully remove cups from pan. Cool completely.
Break remaining candy bars and place in small microwavable bowl. Microwave on high 1 to 1 1/2 minutes or until melted and smooth, stirring every 20 seconds. Dip the top of each marshmallow in melted chocolate. Turn top-side up and let stand 40 to 60 minutes or until set. Makes 24 cups.
   Very quick and easy, both to make and to inhale.
    We haven't been the best about taking the plunge and having people to our house. Yes, I admit it, we are that couple, always willing to show up to the party, but never throwing one in return. But NO MORE! Last night was a lot of work, but super, super fun, and I can't wait to do it again. With a camera.

   Autumn seems to be a favorite time of year amongst so many, I'm curious, how are you guys welcoming in the new season?

~ab

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

We're Having a Fall Shindig

Friday is right around the corner and as I mentioned yesterday, we are having a little shindig to welcome in the new season. (My husband finds my excitement over this 'new season' hilarious as technically we still are having bikini weather here, but, well, whatever!) And, true to form, I decided to throw this Fall festivity a bit last minute. So to prevent myself from having an absolute spaz attack late tomorrow afternoon, I thought it would be a good idea to collect a few ideas. An inspiration board, so to speak.

Up first, we've got some pretty amazing tablescapes, full of pumpkins, apples, and warm fall colors.

Source: etsy.com via Ashley on Pinterest



Source: bhg.com via Ashley on Pinterest




And a few ideas for beverages, and my personal favorite course, dessert! I am thinking of doing three mini desserts, mini pumpkin cookies, mini ginger snap whoopies, and mini s'more cups. Did I mention I like sweets?


Source: bhg.com via Ashley on Pinterest



You can't have a Fall Party without a some decor. These easy and fun D.I.Y leaf garlands are going to be my go-to for a little panache.



I am so excited, but the next 36 hours are going to be busy! The game plan is to bake like a mad woman tomorrow between my morning and afternoon sessions, and that will leave just the main course for Friday afternoon. Oh, and some serious cleaning. Very serious.

~ab

Stumbling Upon Awesomeness...

Randomly stumbling upon awesomeness kinda makes my day! While perusing Pinterest in search of some visual inspiration for Friday (more on that later) I came kept pinning these amazing vibrant photographs paired alongside corresponding color chips. After the third one I had to learn more. Turns out, they are all created by Jessica at Design Seeds. These mini inspiration boards seem like a great tool for design and organization. Check out a few below that I added to my Autumn Pinboard, and then head over to the Design Seeds and prepare to be engrossed for awhile...
~ab

Source:1,2,3,4,5

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Joined Bloglovin.....

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

This little nerdy-birdie is now on bloglovin, so if you feel so inclined, head over and follow along! :)

Feeling a Bit Like Fall

I say 'a bit' because, well, this is Florida, but even though we are nowhere near sweater weather yet, there is a definite change in the air, even here. The breeze off the ocean is tending to be out of the North and ever so slightly crisp, the sun is setting just a little bitter sooner than before I left on my trip, and the colors are changing too. Maybe not the drastic changes people up north get with leaves and such, but just a different light in the evening sky, a golden hue to the afternoon, and the buildings and trees are casting a longer shadow.  Feeling inspired by these subtle changes, I spent my afternoon poking around my house looking for little bits of Autumn...

Photobucket

In fact, I am feeling so excited (alright, giddy) that it is kinda, sorta, maybe starting to feel like Fall here, that I decided to throw a little Fall party! This Friday is the Autumn Equinox, and the true start to the new season, so Friday evening we're having some good friends over to celebrate the *official* first day of Fall. I'll be sharing some inspiration and a few of the recipes I'm going to use over the next few days!

What are you guys doing to celebrate the new season?

~ab

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sunday Snapshots: Paris in Snapshots

   So, obviously I made it home alive. The trip was amazing. Absolutely amazing, I just don' know any other way to say it. I have been home 10 days, and think I have finally made it over the jet lag hurdle. For the first 5 or so days I was home, the exhaustion would smack me in the face about 4pm, and I was in bed asleep by 9pm, which is super rare, as I tend to be a night owl.
   I have struggled to blog since I've been home, and not really for a lack of time. Sure, it has been a time consuming effort to sort and edit the nearly 2000 pictures I took, but honestly, it feels more like something else has been holding me back.  I have felt unsure of how to proceed with sharing about my trip. So much happened, I don't even know where to begin, and while I am dying to write and share about all of it, I definitely don't want to drone on about it for post upon post until we are all bored to tears.
   In an effort to just rip the band-aid off, so to speak, I thought I would start with a language that always feels easy to me, photos. And since it's Sunday, I thought it might feel good to get back into the swing of things with a Sunday Snapshots posts.  
   These photos are of Paris, where I both started and ended my journey, but the shots below are mainly from the first stay.  The monuments were incredible, and I included a small group from Notre Dame, but some of the most poignant and lasting memories I made were centered on the smaller things, the sights, smells, and sounds of the city. Hopefully the shots speak for themselves.

 There will be much more to come, I promise, but I've decided to take the pressure of myself and spread out my trip posts, who knows, maybe months! That way it as the months start to pass and the memories with them, a post here and there can serve as a refresher for my mind of all the incredible moments, the challenges, and the small victories that made my journey epic, at least to me.

~ab