Friday, January 27, 2012

banana bread

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Banana bread is one of the recipes that I made with my mom as a kid. I still love it, and it is always a hit when I take "leftovers" into the office. It is such a great way to use up bananas that get a little too ripe for eating (I always put our brown bananas into the freezer and collect them until I have enough to make banana bread).

Oh, and I always make muffins instead of loaves because (1) muffins are cute and (2) I still don't have a bread/loaf pan...I guess I need to add that to my shopping list.

I had to talk my sister into letting me post this recipe, so here it is (before she changes her mind!):

Banana Bread
Makes 2 dozen muffins
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 1 c. butter, softened (I'm going to try using Greek yogurt next time)
  • 6-8 ripe bananas
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 1/4 c. flour
  • 2 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream the sugar and butter together. Blend in the bananas and eggs. In a separate bowl, sift the dry ingredients and mix together. Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and mix until thoroughly combined. You may add nuts or raisins if you like.

Bake muffins for 20-30 minutes or loaves for 40-50 minutes.

Enjoy!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

the baking cupboard

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the before shot: total chaos
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taping off canisters for chalkboard paint
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ready to go!
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using up that leftover chalkboard paint from last week's project!
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everything out of the cupboard
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organization supplies
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small items grouped together in a bin for easy removal
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ahhhh...
After joining in on The William Morris Project over at Pancakes and French Fries last week, I sat down and made a master list of each and every project that needs to be done throughout our home. This put me into full-on project mode right before my parents came to visit. So, I recruited them to help with a few small projects before they left town.

My mom and I organized my baking cupboard, which had become completely out of control after two months of holiday baking. I love how organized everything is now--it looks so pretty!

While we were in the kitchen, my dad fixed our office door so that it closes. We had this awful plastic baby gate up to keep Chloe out because the door didn't latch properly. I am so glad that I don't have to look at that ugly gate anymore!

I also added cover plates to the light switches in the laundry and guest rooms. It is amazing what a difference those small things make! The rooms look so much more finished.

Again, why has it taken me so long to get around to doing these things?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

guest bathroom design board


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When I was looking through photos for my guest bathroom inspiration post one image in particular really stood out to me:

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I love the rustic vibe. I feel like it's kind of Himalayan for some reason. I like that it feels collected instead of just done. It is beautiful, but it also looks like real people live there. Chic yet comfortable. That is exactly how I want my whole house to look and feel.

If we ever get around to replacing the showers in our house, I would love to do the vertical subway tiles with dark grout as seen in this photo.

I love everything about this photo, and the "design board" above is my interpretation of it using some pieces that we already have and some that I would really like to have (like that train rack from Restoration Hardware!).

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

spiced lamb chops with chickpeas

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This is a recipe that I found and made years ago when I moved into my first apartment. At that time, Real Simple was one of my favorite magazines and my go-to source for recipes. Justin and I both love lamb, and I've been telling him about this amazing lamb recipe since we got married. And I never made it. I don't know why I just never think about lamb when I'm planning our weekly meals, nor do I ever really think about when I'm at the grocery store. When we had lamb on New Year's Eve, Justin reminded me that I still haven't made that lamb dish that I always talk about.

So, I finally made it. I was nervous that it wouldn't be as good as I remembered (don't you hate that?), but it was even better! This is definitely getting added into our regular rotation.

Spiced Lamb Chops with Chickpeas
Serves 4
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 t. fennel seeds
  • 2 t. ground cumin
  • 3/4 t. kosher salt
  • 1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 lamb loin chops (about 1 1/2 inches thick)
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled into strips
  • 1 15-oz. can chickpeas, drained
  • 1 T. fresh lemon juice
  • 15 fresh mint leaves, whole or torn
Heat oven to 400° F. In a large resealable plastic bag, combine 1/4 cup of the oil, the fennel seeds, cumin, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and the pepper. Add the lamb chops and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 8 hours.

Before cooking, let the chops stand at room temperature for 10 minutes. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Scrape the fennel seeds off the chops. Add 4 of the chops to the skillet. Cook until golden, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a baking sheet (make sure that you use one that has sides!). Repeat with the remaining chops. Roast until the chops are the desired doneness, about 8 minutes for medium-rare.

Meanwhile, wipe out the skillet, place over medium heat, and add the remaining oil. Add the carrots and chickpeas and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes. Add the lemon juice, mint, and the remaining salt and toss. Divide the chops and chickpeas among individual plates.

Monday, January 23, 2012

whale watching

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My parents came down to visit us this weekend, and on Saturday we took them out on a whale watching cruise. The day started out with a decent rainstorm, and we began to feel very silly on our drive down to Dana Point as the storm and visibility grew worse and worse. We were afraid that they might not even be going out on the water, but that was not the case. It was pretty cold, but once we got out there the storm dissipated and we were all wishing that we'd brought our sunglasses.

We went on the Dana Wharf whale watching cruise because I was able to purchase half-price tickets on Groupon (love that!). While Groupon purchases can be hit or miss, this one was a slam dunk! Although we only sort of saw one very shy young whale, we did get to see a lot of very playful common dolphins as well as some sea lions seeking refuge from the storm. The captain gave us all kinds of fun facts about the migration habits of the grey whale and the other sea life that we actually did get to see. He was also nice enough to come down and talk to us toward the end of the cruise to apologize for the lack of whale sightings and explain the migration schedule. They also gave us 50% off tickets to take another cruise this season. We will definitely be going back so that my mom can see a whale and cross whale watching off of her bucket list!

After the cruise, we crossed the street for some brunch at RJ's Cafe which I highly recommend if you're in the area looking for breakfast. I had the Feta Avocado Scramble which was healthy and delicious while my dad had their special for the morning: Cinnamon Roll French Toast (it looked amazing). After brunch we headed over to San Clemente to visit the Rainbow Sandals factory to pick up some new flip flops at a 25% factory store discount!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

chalkboard paint

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Before
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The materials--all for around $20!
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After
I finally got around to painting this little strip of wall with chalkboard paint! I feel like I start a lot of my posts with "I finally got around to..." I cannot figure out why it took me so long to get around to doing this because it ended up being a very simple and inexpensive little project that adds some of that character and lived-in feeling that I want our home to have.

Today I'm linking up with Jules of Pancakes & French Fries for her series The William Morris Project. In my resolutions for 2012, I want to streamline and declutter, and I even included the William Morris quote that inspired Jules' series! So, when I stumbled across her blog and saw what she was up to, I knew that I had to join. She's committed to doing one project per week, I believe throughout the year. I'm going to try to keep up with her! I made a list this evening, and there are definitely plenty of little (and big) projects to keep me busy! Now it's just a matter of prioritizing those projects...

If you're feeling brave, you should join in on all of this fun, too!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

guest bath inspiration

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via Small Bathroom Ideas (via Pinterest)
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via Pinterest
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via Pinterest
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via Pinterest
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via Sweet Peach (via Pinterest)
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via Little Plastic Horses (via Pinterest)
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via Martha Stewart (via Bryn Alexandra)
I'm sure that you've all been sitting on the edges of your seats waiting for me to post the inspiration photos for our guest bathroom. Aren't you glad that you can finally relax? I have been wanting to make our guest bathroom nice since we first moved into our place, and I've really struggled with it for some reason. After combing through Pinterest and my Google Reader tags, I have no idea why. It is such a small space and will be so easy to pull together, and the room will be so much more functional. 

I love all of these pictures, but I especially love the second photo above. I love everything about that room. I really want to find a rug like that for our bathroom--I think that it would add some coziness to our the dark hardwood floors and shower curtain currently in the room. I also really like the towel rack in the first photo--that would be great for guests, and it would free up some room in my linen closet! Someday in the future (maybe) I would like to rip out the shower/bathtub that is currently in our guest bathroom and replace it with a nice porcelain tub and subway tiles for the shower splash (or whatever that's called). And, I need to make that organization system in the bottom picture happen in both of our bathrooms ASAP.

How amazing is that map bathroom? I would love to do that, but I still have in my head that I want to put a map of some sort on the wall in our guest room. Would that be too much...? It would tie the spaces together, right?

Does anyone have any ideas on where I could find a brightly colored woven rug like the one in that second photo? I would appreciate any and all help!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

grilled chicken with lemon + oregano

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This is another one of my favorite Martha Stewart recipes! This recipe may seem seasonally inappropriate, but I'm lucky to be living in Southern California right now where we get to grill and eat outside year-round (before you start to hate me, I really miss experiencing fall and winter each year). This chicken is delicious, super easy, and made with ingredients that I always have on hand. Anytime that whole chickens go on sale at my local grocery store I buy a few, preparing at least one with this lemon-oregano marinade to stick in the freezer for future meals. It always turns out perfectly!

Grilled Chicken with Lemon and Oregano
Serves 8

  • 1 T. lemon zest
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 t. coarse salt
  • 1 t. freshly ground pepper
  • 1 4-5 lb. whole chicken, cut into 6-8 pieces and skin removed
  • 4 lemons, halved crosswise
Make marinade: In a small bowl, whisk together lemon zest and juice, oregano, oil, coarse salt, and pepper. Place marinade in a large resealable plastic bag. Place the chicken pieces in the bag; shake to coat. Let marinate at room temperature 30 minutes, turning bags occasionally.
Preheat grill to medium; lightly oil grates. Remove chicken from marinade, and place on grill. Cover and cook, until lightly browned and cooked through, about 20 minutes. Turn chicken over; cover and cook until well browned, 10 to 15 minutes (an instant-read thermometer should register 175 degrees when inserted into thickest part of meat, avoiding bone). If chicken is browning too quickly, move to cooler parts of grill or turn grill to low heat.

Transfer chicken to a cutting board. Tent with foil; let rest 10 minutes. Meanwhile, place lemon halves on grill, cut side down; cook until slightly charred, 8 to 10 minutes. Serve chicken pieces with grilled lemon halves.

This recipe can also be found here on Martha Stewart's website.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

dining tables

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Parsons Dining Table, Square ($299 at West Elm)
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Paul Loebach Dining Table ($359.99 at West Elm)
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Provence Dining Table ($579 at Ballard Designs)
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BJURSTA Dining Table ($149 at IKEA)
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STORNAS Dining Table ($329 at IKEA)
I've been searching for dining tables lately because I am planning to host a dinner party for Valentine's Day! I love the table that we have now, but it isn't very functional nor is it large enough to seat any more than 4 people. I've been looking for a square table that seats 4 and expands to seat 6 people (or more!). Maybe I'm just looking in the wrong places, but I'm not finding much!

I love the Parsons table. I like the simple lines. I think it is perfect. I like this one from West Elm a lot, and Crate & Barrel has one made from reclaimed wood that is also very pretty. Unfortunately, I haven't found an expandable square version.

I'm kind of liking the Paul Loebach Dining Table from West Elm in white. Does anyone have any opinions on this? My only concern is that I wouldn't like the way the leaves look when the leaves are down--which will be most of the time at the present!

I'm a little hesitant to buy from IKEA since the quality there seems hit or miss (my dining chairs are from IKEA and I still really love them). The BJURSTA looks very similar to the West Elm Parsons table, and I actually really love the way that the STORNAS looks. I looks really solid in the picture. But, I feel like I always really like the way things look in the IKEA catalog or on their website, then I don't love anything in the store.

I've also looked around on Craigslist, and we are supposed to look at a table that I found on there this weekend.
Does anyone have any opinions or ideas for me?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

home tour: the guest bath

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We haven't done much of anything in our guest bathroom. Since we moved in, we have painted it (it used to be a deep red), replaced the mirror, and I added a new shower curtain. You can see a previous version of our guest bathroom here. We obviously need to fix the gaping hole in the cupboard and add some hardware for towels. I've also thought about painting the cupboard black and repainting the whole room. I like the color, but I'm just not really a blue person.

Here is my to-do list for the guest bathroom:
  • paint ceiling and walls white
  • cover hole in cabinetry
  • towel hardware
  • new trash bin
  • framed art for walls
  • more/new towels
  • soap dispenser
  • toothbrush holder
  • bath mat
  • update light fixture
And that's all that I can think of at the moment. If you were going to repaint this room which color would you choose? Or would you just leave it as it is?