Tuesday, October 25, 2011

pumpkin cornmeal muffins


Each Fall, as soon as Trader Joe's starts carrying their canned pumpkin, I throw a can in my cart specifically for the purpose of making these muffins. Ever since I stumbled across the recipe in Real Simple a few years ago, making Pumpkin Cornmeal Muffins has been a sort of tradition at the beginning of my favorite season (except for this year--I can't believe it's already the end of October!).

This is another recipe that makes the house smell so good when they are almost done baking that I wish I could somehow send the wonderfully pumpkin-y scent through the internets to you. They are not very sweet, so these muffins are perfect for breakfast--yesterday morning I popped one in the microwave for 30 seconds before I left the house and enjoyed it with my coffee on my way to work.

The recipe claims to yield 12 muffins, but I ended up with 16 muffins which makes each one under 200 calories.

Do you have a favorite pumpkin recipe?

Monday, October 24, 2011

living room inspiration

via belle maison
from Lonny (via lilac silhouette)
via Design*Sponge
via bryn alexandra
via belle maison
from elle decor (via daily crush)
via bryn alexandra
via pinterest
via pinterest
via pinterest
Oh, hello there! Remember this post from forever ago? Well, here are some pictures of living rooms that I really like. I'm using these as inspiration as I figure out what to do with our space. I want the space to be chic and modern, but still cozy and lived-in because we spend a lot of time in this space. I also want people to come over to our home and feel comfortable.

Later this week I'll post my design board featuring some of the furniture and other accessories that I hope will [eventually] end up in our living room. Next week I'll be sharing our kitchen with you! You've already seen it here, but it's changed a bit since then and so has my dream for that space.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

pumpkin pie pops

Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket
A couple of weekends ago my mother-in-law invited me over to make pie pops with her. These are such a cute idea, and they are so simple to make!

We used store bought pie dough which made the process a lot easier. Because pumpkin pie filling tends to be quite thin and we weren't sure that would work in the pie pops, we just used some canned pumpkin and added some white sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg to taste. We also used a nice egg wash before putting them in the over to get that nice brown baked color. Just bake at whatever temperature your pie crust dough instructions say (I think ours was 450), and when your house starts to smell like pumpkin pie, check them, baking until the tops are nicely browned (about 15 minutes). These are best enjoyed the same day--the crust tends to lose that nice flaky crisp by the next day.

There is so much room for creativity with these pie pops--heart shapes filled with rasbperry for Valentine's Day, circles filled with apple pie filling for a nice little fall treat, latticed pecan pie pops for Christmas. These are so easy to make they could even be a fun Birthday treat for a child's classmates.

Monday, October 17, 2011

reno: josef's vienna cafe

The entrance to Josef's
My mother and me
Beautiful cakes and a stunning fruit tart
The bakers saw me taking pictures and struck a pose
Breakfast pastries
The dining area
They have an amazing selection of mini cakes and fruit tarts
Denver omelette
"Guten appetit"
Crispy bacon benedict
Valerie and me
Salsa and avocado scrambler
Josef's is hands-down my favorite place for breakfast or brunch in Reno. The food is delicious, the ambience is warm and cozy, and the service is friendly. The same people seem to have been working at Josef's since I first started going there. Oh--and the coffee is good, too!

One of the reasons that I love Josef's so much (besides the food and the mini cakes) is that they decorate for every holiday from Christmas to Easter to Valentine's Day. My family lived in Germany for a few years when I was a wee baby, and while we were there my mom loved the Christmas marts so much that she bought a lot of the decorations that she still uses on her Christmas tree every year. The decorations at Josef's always remind me of my mom's Christmas decorations as well as some of the traditions that she has established in our family over the years. I guess that's part of why Josef's seems so warm and cozy to me.

Now, let's talk about the food. I don't think that anything on the menu is bad, but here are some of my favorites. The Crispy Bacon Benedict is one of the best eggs benedict that I have every had (and I order it almost every single time/place I go out for brunch). I love their scramblers--especially the one with tomato, basil and feta, bacon and apple, and of course salsa and avocado. Their waffles are also delicious!

While I love Josef's for breakfast, they also have a great selection of soups, sandwiches and salads for lunch! And you cannot leave Josef's without at least taking a look at their bakery--all of their cookies, cakes and pastries are absolutely beautiful!

Friday, October 14, 2011

thanks, steve!

I know that this is a little late, but I finally had some time to watch this today and I wanted to share it. Steve Jobs was likely the greatest inventor of his time. His inventions have changed the way that we live and do business.

"'If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?' And whenever the answer has been 'No' for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something."
This speech is full of great advice not just for students graduating from , but for all of us.

"It is never too late to be what you might have been." (George Eliot)

Monday, October 10, 2011

weekend in Reno

Scenes from my long weekend in Reno
I took a last-minute trip up to Reno over the weekend. I hadn't been home since Christmas, and it was so nice to see my family, friends, and old familiar places. My mom picked me up from the airport on Thursday morning, and we headed straight to my sisters' house to pick up Valerie and have brunch at Josef's (more on that tomorrow!). The rest of Thursday and Friday we stayed close to home and baked, made lattes, shopped, and started a small project which my mom will have to finish by herself : (

Friday night I headed up to Reno and met up with Katie, Jackie & Valerie at Midtown Eats for dinner and drinks. Midtown is a new restaurant in Reno, and I was very impressed--I had the Provencal (a lavender infused gin cocktail) and the Steak Salad. So delicious. Then Jackie, Katie & I headed over to West Street Wine Bar (one of my old favorites) to meet up with Tracy for a little girls' night out. I had so much fun hanging out with those girls--I really miss them.

The next morning I woke up super early to go to a friend's house to visit with her. She has a daughter who is about one and a half, and she is absolutely adorable! After that, Jackie, Katie & I met up at Bibo (no trip to Reno would be complete without some Bibo!) before heading over to Stone House for brunch where I had my favorite Smoked Salmon Benedict (seriously, to die for). 

Even though I am now exhausted, I am so glad that I took the opportunity to go home before I start my new job today (oh yeah--I found a job!). I had so much fun seeing and catching up with everyone, and I miss them all so much. I have to make a point to go home more frequently.

How was your weekend?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

home tour: the living room

View from the front door
From the kitchen
From the couch
Justin's pets
My pet
Here is our living room. This is what you see when you open our front door. It's a relatively small space, but we spend the majority of our time at home in this room. In these photos you can kind of see that the kitchen, dining, and living areas are all one big open space.

I love the layout of this space because it makes our house feel a lot bigger than it is, and it's great for anytime that we have people in our home. I hate to admit, though, that the layout is pretty much the only thing that I love about this room. Well, maybe not the only thing--our TV is pretty nice, and I love how our contractor mounted it on the wall. I also like Justin's fish tank now that it has some residents in it. I'm excited to see what other fish he gets for it once it's ready for the cooler fish (I guess it takes awhile for the water to be ready for the really interesting fish). Okay, okay...I also really like the bamboo blinds that we have up. I just feel like the room looks really unfinished because it's basically a hodge podge of furniture that we had before we were married.

Here's my laundry list for the living room:
  • media console
  • couch
  • coffee table
  • throw pillows
  • area rug
  • lamp
  • get the tv connected to the Internet
  • fish tank cord management
  • lighter throw blanket for spring and summer
  • paint trim
  • shelves above fish tank? hanging planter?
  • paint walls (white?)
  • light fixture/ceiling fan
  • install shoe molding
  • door mat
  • entry mirror

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

27 before Twenty-Seven

via Pinterest
I've been in the mood to set my New Year's Resolutions lately, and since it is not close enough to January 1st for that, I decided to set 27 goals to accomplish before I turn 27. Some of them are serious and some of them are silly. I meant to post this 6 months before my birthday, but I totally lost count of the months and now I only have 5 months to get through this list. That is just under 22 weeks which means that I need to complete 1.23 items on the list each week in order to meet my deadline.

  1. Find a new job
  2. Get down to my goal weight
  3. Start working on a graphic design degree
  4. Buy a new mattress
  5. Find a group at our church
  6. Start learning how to golf
  7. Take a photography class
  8. Go to the Griffith Observatory
  9. Find somewhere to volunteer in our community
  10. Have chandelier hung in dining area
  11. Make a headboard for our bed
  12. Have my black riding boots re-soled
  13. Go home to Reno
  14. Buy the movie Little Women
  15. Organize a trash clean-up of the El Cajon Trail
  16. Go to Venice Beach
  17. Do this cleanse for 1 week
  18. Bake an apple pie
  19. Host a party (Super Bowl?)
  20. Get a facial
  21. Use my bundt cake pan
  22. Take a "weekend getaway" with Justin (Santa Barbara?)
  23. Plan a girls' weekend with Katie
  24. Have a professional family photo taken
  25. Take one of those complimentary cooking classes at Williams-Sonoma
  26. Make curtains for the slider door
  27. Learn some new ways to do my hair
You can view my 26 Before Twenty-Six list here. Do you think I'll finish this year?

Monday, October 3, 2011

perfect lemonade + tipsy arnold palmer

Making the simply syrup
Meyer lemons from my M-I-L (picked by Hudson & Cannon)
Ingredients: lemonade and sweet tea vodka
The finished product
Looks perfectly innocent, doesn't it?

Enjoying my TAP by the pool
Did you have a nice weekend? We watched some of the baseball playoffs (go Yankees!). I also cleaned out our garage, spent some time by the pool (I'm hoping it will be too cold for that soon), and made one last Tipsy Arnold Palmer for the season.

What is a Tipsy Arnold Palmer, you ask? My dear friend Katie introduced me to the Tipsy Arnold Palmer. It is simply an Arnold Palmer made with Sweet Tea Vodka in place of Iced Tea. I realize that this post would have been WAY more relevant at the beginning of the summer, but that didn't happen and I want to make sure that I don't forget about this drink when next summer rolls around! So, here are the recipes:

Perfect Lemonade (from Simply Recipes)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water (for the simple syrup)
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • 3-4 cups cold water (to dilute)
Make the simple syrup by combining the sugar and the 1 cup water in a small saucepan and heat on the stove until the sugar is completely dissolved. Squeeze your 1 cup of fresh lemon juice and add it to your pitcher. Add the simple syrup to the lemon juice, then add water and stir to combine. Refrigerate until cold. Serve over ice with lemon slices.

Tipsy Arnold Palmer (from Katie)
  • ice
  • 2 shots of Sweet Tea Vodka (I used Seagram's)
  • Perfect Lemonade
Place ice in your glass. Pour 2 shots of Sweet Tea Vodka over the ice, then fill the rest of the glass with lemonade. Adjust to your own taste.

So, that was my favorite cocktail for Summer 2011. Do you have a favorite drink to sip during fall? I want to try The Big Apple from Blueprint soon...