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I was inspired by So Yummy's Halloween treat video (which I caught a few weeks ago on Facebook). I decided to dive in with the girls (and few sweet friends) to see how successful we might be at recreating some of the cute ideas. Plus it turned out to be a great way to celebrate a random Monday off from school. Knowing how much sugar I would be sending them home with, I threw in some fruit, veggies, and some (not-so-healthy) chips & dip.
In case you missed it, here's a link to our inspiration: 7 Sweet & Easy Treats to Make for Halloween by So Yummy. We didn't make all seven --but we did tackle FIVE! Most of the ingredients were easy to come by. Purple jimmies (sprinkles) were sold out everywhere so we went with a different shape. And the black licorice laces had to be ordered online. The tall jars that I used for the green melts, I just threw away. :( 

Peanut Butter Cup Bats
Reese's peanut butter cups
Oreo cookies
small candy eyes

Frankenstein Monster HoHos
HoHos
green candy melts
purple or grey sprinkles
candy corn
small candy eyes
white sprinkle for the mouth

These turned out to be one of the trickiest. We found that when we dipped the HoHo into the melted candy, the heat from the candy pulled the chocolate from the HoHo. There must be a secret ingredient to those candy melts in the video. They were definitely more smooth and workable than what we were using. The girls improvised.

Chocolate Cupcake Spiders
chocolate cupcakes
chocolate frosting
chocolate sprinkles
black licorice laces
Red Hot candies

Creepy Monster Fingers
pretzel rods
green candy melts
sliced almonds

Purple Oreo Cyclops
Oreo cookies (double-stuffed)
purple candy melts
purple sprinkles
large candy eyes
lollipop sticks

Apparently, I didn't capture any pictures of the girls making these. They were certainly the trickiest. The Oreos fell off the sticks or broke because the candy melts didn't get as thin and smooth as that in the video. Using their knives, the girls just frosted them instead.

After the treats were finished, we enjoyed some Halloween Punch that my friend, Trisha, made (including dry ice smoke and frozen hands). It turned out a beautiful purple-red and the floating hands of ice made it especially festive!

Halloween Punch
Equal parts:
100% juice orange juice
grape juice
7-Up

Each guest left with a tray full of spooky treats.

Sweet Halloween Treats

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

I was inspired by So Yummy's Halloween treat video (which I caught a few weeks ago on Facebook). I decided to dive in with the girls (and few sweet friends) to see how successful we might be at recreating some of the cute ideas. Plus it turned out to be a great way to celebrate a random Monday off from school. Knowing how much sugar I would be sending them home with, I threw in some fruit, veggies, and some (not-so-healthy) chips & dip.
In case you missed it, here's a link to our inspiration: 7 Sweet & Easy Treats to Make for Halloween by So Yummy. We didn't make all seven --but we did tackle FIVE! Most of the ingredients were easy to come by. Purple jimmies (sprinkles) were sold out everywhere so we went with a different shape. And the black licorice laces had to be ordered online. The tall jars that I used for the green melts, I just threw away. :( 

Peanut Butter Cup Bats
Reese's peanut butter cups
Oreo cookies
small candy eyes

Frankenstein Monster HoHos
HoHos
green candy melts
purple or grey sprinkles
candy corn
small candy eyes
white sprinkle for the mouth

These turned out to be one of the trickiest. We found that when we dipped the HoHo into the melted candy, the heat from the candy pulled the chocolate from the HoHo. There must be a secret ingredient to those candy melts in the video. They were definitely more smooth and workable than what we were using. The girls improvised.

Chocolate Cupcake Spiders
chocolate cupcakes
chocolate frosting
chocolate sprinkles
black licorice laces
Red Hot candies

Creepy Monster Fingers
pretzel rods
green candy melts
sliced almonds

Purple Oreo Cyclops
Oreo cookies (double-stuffed)
purple candy melts
purple sprinkles
large candy eyes
lollipop sticks

Apparently, I didn't capture any pictures of the girls making these. They were certainly the trickiest. The Oreos fell off the sticks or broke because the candy melts didn't get as thin and smooth as that in the video. Using their knives, the girls just frosted them instead.

After the treats were finished, we enjoyed some Halloween Punch that my friend, Trisha, made (including dry ice smoke and frozen hands). It turned out a beautiful purple-red and the floating hands of ice made it especially festive!

Halloween Punch
Equal parts:
100% juice orange juice
grape juice
7-Up

Each guest left with a tray full of spooky treats.

One of the best things about this recipe from Plated was the fact that Greg was almost done making it by the time I got home from an outing with Piper on Sunday evening (Ha!). The Middle Eastern spice blend added a smokiness to the dish and the "honeyed" capers were an excellent contrast. The chicken thighs were unbelievably tender and juicy. Plated sent 2 thighs per serving. They were very generous in size so we cooked only 4 total (one for each of us) and it was plenty of food. I look forward to preparing the other four with the same searing/roasting method used in this recipe later in the week.

Pan-Roasted Chicken Thighs with Crispy Cauliflower, Tahini Sauce, and Za'atar
Recipe curtesy of Plated
(I've adjusted the recipe to 4 servings)
~
What you need:
20 ounces cauliflower florets
1/4 ounce parsley
1 lemon
2 yellow onions
2 tablespoons honey
4 tablespoons capers
6 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons za'atar
4-8 chicken thighs (depending on size, you'll want 1-2 per person)
1/2 cup tahini
6 ounces baby spinach
olive oil
salt and pepper
~
What to do:
  1. Before you get started: Preheat oven to 450ºF. (Make sure there's enough room in your oven for a large pan and a baking sheet to fit at the same time. Move racks around if needed.) 
  2. Prepare Ingredients: Cut cauliflower to 1/2-inch wide florets and place on a baking sheet. Roughly chop parsley leaves, discarding stems. Halve lemon. Peel onion, halve, and thinly slice. In a small bowl, stir together honey, capers, and 1 teaspoon olive oil to combine, and set aside.
  3. Prepare Cauliflower: Heat butter, za'atar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large oven-proof pan over medium heat. When butter is foamy, remove pan from heat and add juice of lemon. Pour za'atar-lemon butter over cauliflower on a baking sheet, reserving pan for the ext step. Toss cauliflower to coat, then arrange in a single layer. Set aside. 
  4. Sear Chicken Thighs: Pat chicken dry with paper towel and season all over with a teaspoon of salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in the pan from butter over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering, add chicken skin-side town and sear until skin begins to brown, about 4 minutes. Flip and brown on opposite side, about 1 minute more. Transfer chicken to a plate and set aside. 
  5. Roast Chicken Thighs: Discard almost all excess fat in pan from chicken, leaving behind a thin layer. Place pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan, until onion is coated, about 1 minutes. Remove from heat and add 2 tablespoons water. Return chicken to pan on top of onion, skin-side up. Transfer to oven and roast until chicken is cooked through and no longer pink, about 18 minutes.
  6. Roast Cauliflower: Transfer cauliflower to oven (with chicken) and roast until golden, about 12 minutes. Meanwhile, place tahini in a medium bowl and season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Adding 1 tablespoon at a time, whisk in up to 1/2 cup of warm water until sauce is smooth and pourable. Set aside. After 12 minutes of cauliflower roasting, sprinkle over honeyed capers and continue roasting until capers are crisp, 3 minutes more.
  7. Plate Chicken Thighs: Once roasted, transfer chicken to a plate, leaving onions behind in pan, off heat. Stir in spinach to wilt, about 1 minute. Divide spinach and onions between serving plates, top with chicken and serve with crispy cauliflower. Drizzle over tahini sauce, garnish with parsley. YUM! 

    Recipe Review | PLATED Pan-Roasted Chicken Thighs with Crispy Cauliflower, Tahini Sauce, and Za'atar

    Tuesday, October 24, 2017

    One of the best things about this recipe from Plated was the fact that Greg was almost done making it by the time I got home from an outing with Piper on Sunday evening (Ha!). The Middle Eastern spice blend added a smokiness to the dish and the "honeyed" capers were an excellent contrast. The chicken thighs were unbelievably tender and juicy. Plated sent 2 thighs per serving. They were very generous in size so we cooked only 4 total (one for each of us) and it was plenty of food. I look forward to preparing the other four with the same searing/roasting method used in this recipe later in the week.

    Pan-Roasted Chicken Thighs with Crispy Cauliflower, Tahini Sauce, and Za'atar
    Recipe curtesy of Plated
    (I've adjusted the recipe to 4 servings)
    ~
    What you need:
    20 ounces cauliflower florets
    1/4 ounce parsley
    1 lemon
    2 yellow onions
    2 tablespoons honey
    4 tablespoons capers
    6 tablespoons butter
    2 tablespoons za'atar
    4-8 chicken thighs (depending on size, you'll want 1-2 per person)
    1/2 cup tahini
    6 ounces baby spinach
    olive oil
    salt and pepper
    ~
    What to do:
    1. Before you get started: Preheat oven to 450ºF. (Make sure there's enough room in your oven for a large pan and a baking sheet to fit at the same time. Move racks around if needed.) 
    2. Prepare Ingredients: Cut cauliflower to 1/2-inch wide florets and place on a baking sheet. Roughly chop parsley leaves, discarding stems. Halve lemon. Peel onion, halve, and thinly slice. In a small bowl, stir together honey, capers, and 1 teaspoon olive oil to combine, and set aside.
    3. Prepare Cauliflower: Heat butter, za'atar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large oven-proof pan over medium heat. When butter is foamy, remove pan from heat and add juice of lemon. Pour za'atar-lemon butter over cauliflower on a baking sheet, reserving pan for the ext step. Toss cauliflower to coat, then arrange in a single layer. Set aside. 
    4. Sear Chicken Thighs: Pat chicken dry with paper towel and season all over with a teaspoon of salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in the pan from butter over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering, add chicken skin-side town and sear until skin begins to brown, about 4 minutes. Flip and brown on opposite side, about 1 minute more. Transfer chicken to a plate and set aside. 
    5. Roast Chicken Thighs: Discard almost all excess fat in pan from chicken, leaving behind a thin layer. Place pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan, until onion is coated, about 1 minutes. Remove from heat and add 2 tablespoons water. Return chicken to pan on top of onion, skin-side up. Transfer to oven and roast until chicken is cooked through and no longer pink, about 18 minutes.
    6. Roast Cauliflower: Transfer cauliflower to oven (with chicken) and roast until golden, about 12 minutes. Meanwhile, place tahini in a medium bowl and season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Adding 1 tablespoon at a time, whisk in up to 1/2 cup of warm water until sauce is smooth and pourable. Set aside. After 12 minutes of cauliflower roasting, sprinkle over honeyed capers and continue roasting until capers are crisp, 3 minutes more.
    7. Plate Chicken Thighs: Once roasted, transfer chicken to a plate, leaving onions behind in pan, off heat. Stir in spinach to wilt, about 1 minute. Divide spinach and onions between serving plates, top with chicken and serve with crispy cauliflower. Drizzle over tahini sauce, garnish with parsley. YUM! 
      • Adulting in Vegas with My Love ~ Greg and I celebrate 15 years of wedded bliss (Yes, every second of it has been "blissful" -HA!) next week. To commemorate, we spent a long weekend in Las Vegas --where we happened to spend our first anniversary as well. Amazingly, our great friends were heading there too for the same weekend and the four of us had a nearly perfect time. We stayed in a beautiful hotel. We ate great meals here, here, and here. We spent lazy days at the pool. And we saw a terrific show. The only reason I would describe it as "nearly" perfect is because I found it impossible to sleep in the first morning --other than that, I'd say it was aces (pun intended). 
      • The Americans ~ We are finally watching The Americans (which has been on FX since 2013 and is in its fifth and final season). Though we're only a few episodes into the first season, I have to say, I'm loving it --and it's not just the rad 80's outfits, sets, and music. The show is about Philip and Elizabeth Jennings who are KGB spies in an arranged marriage, posing as Americans in a suburb of D.C., shortly after Reagan is elected. It has suspense, espionage, and family drama. I'm old enough to vaguely remember what the Cold War felt like and I remember hearing about the possibility of Russian spies living among us, as Americans. If that sounds familiar or interesting to you, this show is definitely worth a shot.
      • Just Between Us ~ The girls and I have been writing back and forth in these journals since 2012. They each have one and we actually don't write to one another very often (which is why we still have plenty of space); however, it has been a great tool, a nice tradition, and as we approach the "middle years," might come into more practice (I hope). They have a new one out now for sisters that I'm considering. 
      • Emily Henderson ~ I follow her on Instagram. I subscribe to her blog. I love her style --and you might too. She mixes vintage with modern and her ideas are very approachable. #swoon
      • Tell the Wolves I'm Home ~ I just finished this novel by Carol Rifka Brunt and it about wrecked me. It's a beautiful story. On her webpage, the author sums it up as, "a tender story of love lost and found, an unforgettable portrait of the way compassion can make us whole again." 
        {via Amazon}
      • Little Big Meals from The Fresh Market ~ The Fresh Market is like a mini-whole foods that feels less corporate and more "community." It reminds me of the Cosentino's Market in San Jose that I grew up visiting on occasion with my grandmother. Sadly, Cosentino's closed in 2011 after 63 years in business. *sigh* Today, at least we have places like The Fresh Market. The company was founded in North Carolina about 30 years ago and while it has expanded since then, my location in Dilworth (new since 2016), manages to feel small-towny. If you're lucky enough to live near one, I recommend trying a Little Big Meal. They're a great value, so easy to prepare, and also delicious. We enjoyed Sesame Garlic Sirloin Stir Fry with Pork Pot Stickers last night. Next week, they're offering Lettuce Wraps and we will try them too!
        {via Fresh Market}
      • ArtBreak ~ The girls are out of school today and tomorrow. Piper had some plans and Geneva and I found ourselves with a free afternoon. I'd read about ArtBreak months ago and added these monthly offerings to my calendar but hadn't managed to actually go to one. Today was the day! ArtBreaks are free, 30-minute guided tours on the third Thursday of each month at the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture, and the Mint Museum Uptown. Geneva and I chose the Bechtler and had a great time (we added a walk through The Green and a stop at Amélie's to round out the day). 

      Things I Love Thursday // 9.21.17

      Thursday, September 21, 2017

      • Adulting in Vegas with My Love ~ Greg and I celebrate 15 years of wedded bliss (Yes, every second of it has been "blissful" -HA!) next week. To commemorate, we spent a long weekend in Las Vegas --where we happened to spend our first anniversary as well. Amazingly, our great friends were heading there too for the same weekend and the four of us had a nearly perfect time. We stayed in a beautiful hotel. We ate great meals here, here, and here. We spent lazy days at the pool. And we saw a terrific show. The only reason I would describe it as "nearly" perfect is because I found it impossible to sleep in the first morning --other than that, I'd say it was aces (pun intended). 
      • The Americans ~ We are finally watching The Americans (which has been on FX since 2013 and is in its fifth and final season). Though we're only a few episodes into the first season, I have to say, I'm loving it --and it's not just the rad 80's outfits, sets, and music. The show is about Philip and Elizabeth Jennings who are KGB spies in an arranged marriage, posing as Americans in a suburb of D.C., shortly after Reagan is elected. It has suspense, espionage, and family drama. I'm old enough to vaguely remember what the Cold War felt like and I remember hearing about the possibility of Russian spies living among us, as Americans. If that sounds familiar or interesting to you, this show is definitely worth a shot.
      • Just Between Us ~ The girls and I have been writing back and forth in these journals since 2012. They each have one and we actually don't write to one another very often (which is why we still have plenty of space); however, it has been a great tool, a nice tradition, and as we approach the "middle years," might come into more practice (I hope). They have a new one out now for sisters that I'm considering. 
      • Emily Henderson ~ I follow her on Instagram. I subscribe to her blog. I love her style --and you might too. She mixes vintage with modern and her ideas are very approachable. #swoon
      • Tell the Wolves I'm Home ~ I just finished this novel by Carol Rifka Brunt and it about wrecked me. It's a beautiful story. On her webpage, the author sums it up as, "a tender story of love lost and found, an unforgettable portrait of the way compassion can make us whole again." 
        {via Amazon}
      • Little Big Meals from The Fresh Market ~ The Fresh Market is like a mini-whole foods that feels less corporate and more "community." It reminds me of the Cosentino's Market in San Jose that I grew up visiting on occasion with my grandmother. Sadly, Cosentino's closed in 2011 after 63 years in business. *sigh* Today, at least we have places like The Fresh Market. The company was founded in North Carolina about 30 years ago and while it has expanded since then, my location in Dilworth (new since 2016), manages to feel small-towny. If you're lucky enough to live near one, I recommend trying a Little Big Meal. They're a great value, so easy to prepare, and also delicious. We enjoyed Sesame Garlic Sirloin Stir Fry with Pork Pot Stickers last night. Next week, they're offering Lettuce Wraps and we will try them too!
        {via Fresh Market}
      • ArtBreak ~ The girls are out of school today and tomorrow. Piper had some plans and Geneva and I found ourselves with a free afternoon. I'd read about ArtBreak months ago and added these monthly offerings to my calendar but hadn't managed to actually go to one. Today was the day! ArtBreaks are free, 30-minute guided tours on the third Thursday of each month at the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture, and the Mint Museum Uptown. Geneva and I chose the Bechtler and had a great time (we added a walk through The Green and a stop at Amélie's to round out the day). 

      This week we tried a new recipe from Plated. They describe it perfectly on the recipe card, "In tonight's Moroccan-inspired feast, cinnamon-spiced beef and lamb are folded into a simple tomato sauce with pine nuts, then spooned over silky roasted eggplant with a a balancing garnish of salty feta."
      The cinnamon was unexpected and delicious. Plated's description of the eggplant as "silky" is spot-on. If you're not a fan of lamb, an easy substitution would be more beef. We also found the accompanying greens with sumac vinaigrette to be the perfect side because the tangy zip of the dressing balanced so well with the warm creaminess of the main dish. The recipe below incorporates the ingredients and instructions for the side salad. 

      We all loved this one!

      Roasted Eggplant with Moroccan Lamb and Feta
      Recipe is for 2 dinner entrées or 4 lunch servings 
      (We double it for a dinner serving for our family of four --which leaves a lunch serving left-over.)
      ~
      What you need:
      2 small/medium eggplants, halved through the stems
      6 ounces plum tomatoes, cut into a 1/2-inch dice
      1/2 lemon
      2 cloves garlic, minced
      1 yellow onion, diced
      5 ounces ground beef
      5 ounces ground lamb
      2 tablespoons pine nuts
      1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
      1/2 cup tomato purée
      1 teaspoon sumac
      3 ounces spring mix lettuce
      2 ounces crumbled feta cheese
      olive oil
      salt and pepper
      ~
      What to do:
      1. Roast Eggplant: Preheat oven to 450ºF. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and rub with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season cut sides of eggplant halves with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Place them cut-side down, and roast until skin is charred and flesh is very tender, 18-20 minutes. (Your eggplant is finished roasting when it easily lifts off the foiled baking sheet. If it's sticking, continue roasting another 3-5 minutes.) Gently lift the foil and loosen the eggplant, keeping it intact. Transfer to serving plates, cut-side up.
      2. Sauté Aromatics: While eggplant roasts, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium pan over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering, add onion and cook, stirring, until softened and translucent, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute more.
      3. Brown Beef and Lamb: Add beef and lamb to pan with aromatics, still over medium-high heat. Cook, breaking up meat until browned, 4-5 minutes. Then, stir in pine nuts, cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper as desired to combine.
      4. Simmer Sauce: Add tomato purée and plum tomatoes to pan with beef and lamb. Increase heat to high and bring sauce to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer until tomatoes are very soft and sauce has thickened, 4-5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together sumac, juice of your halved lemon, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and pepper as desired to make dressing. Set aside. 
      5. Plate: Pat lettuce dry with paper towel, add to bowl with dressing, and toss to coat. Divide salad between serving plates with eggplant. Spoon Moroccan lamb over eggplant, garnish with feta, and dig in!

        Recipe Review | Plated Roasted Eggplant with Moroccan Lamb and Feta

        Monday, September 18, 2017

        This week we tried a new recipe from Plated. They describe it perfectly on the recipe card, "In tonight's Moroccan-inspired feast, cinnamon-spiced beef and lamb are folded into a simple tomato sauce with pine nuts, then spooned over silky roasted eggplant with a a balancing garnish of salty feta."
        The cinnamon was unexpected and delicious. Plated's description of the eggplant as "silky" is spot-on. If you're not a fan of lamb, an easy substitution would be more beef. We also found the accompanying greens with sumac vinaigrette to be the perfect side because the tangy zip of the dressing balanced so well with the warm creaminess of the main dish. The recipe below incorporates the ingredients and instructions for the side salad. 

        We all loved this one!

        Roasted Eggplant with Moroccan Lamb and Feta
        Recipe is for 2 dinner entrées or 4 lunch servings 
        (We double it for a dinner serving for our family of four --which leaves a lunch serving left-over.)
        ~
        What you need:
        2 small/medium eggplants, halved through the stems
        6 ounces plum tomatoes, cut into a 1/2-inch dice
        1/2 lemon
        2 cloves garlic, minced
        1 yellow onion, diced
        5 ounces ground beef
        5 ounces ground lamb
        2 tablespoons pine nuts
        1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
        1/2 cup tomato purée
        1 teaspoon sumac
        3 ounces spring mix lettuce
        2 ounces crumbled feta cheese
        olive oil
        salt and pepper
        ~
        What to do:
        1. Roast Eggplant: Preheat oven to 450ºF. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and rub with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season cut sides of eggplant halves with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Place them cut-side down, and roast until skin is charred and flesh is very tender, 18-20 minutes. (Your eggplant is finished roasting when it easily lifts off the foiled baking sheet. If it's sticking, continue roasting another 3-5 minutes.) Gently lift the foil and loosen the eggplant, keeping it intact. Transfer to serving plates, cut-side up.
        2. Sauté Aromatics: While eggplant roasts, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium pan over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering, add onion and cook, stirring, until softened and translucent, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute more.
        3. Brown Beef and Lamb: Add beef and lamb to pan with aromatics, still over medium-high heat. Cook, breaking up meat until browned, 4-5 minutes. Then, stir in pine nuts, cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper as desired to combine.
        4. Simmer Sauce: Add tomato purée and plum tomatoes to pan with beef and lamb. Increase heat to high and bring sauce to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer until tomatoes are very soft and sauce has thickened, 4-5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together sumac, juice of your halved lemon, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and pepper as desired to make dressing. Set aside. 
        5. Plate: Pat lettuce dry with paper towel, add to bowl with dressing, and toss to coat. Divide salad between serving plates with eggplant. Spoon Moroccan lamb over eggplant, garnish with feta, and dig in!
          • The fact that my Florida family is ok ~ Harvey, Irma, José?... So much powerful devastation --it's hard to wrap your head around. It looked, for some time, like Irma was going to roll over Ft. Myers with Category 4 strength. Under mandatory evacuation, my brother, sister-in-law, niece, and nephews relocated to a secured shelter nearby and rode out the storm safely. Returning home yesterday, they found that their house sustained far less damage than many neighbors and so many other Americans. We are all so grateful. 
          • Laughable, Lovable, Longtime-Friends ~ Goodness... Where to begin with the time I was able to spend with one of my closest childhood friends this week? Tiff flew out to NC from California for a business trip and arranged her schedule to rent a car and drive 3 hours south to visit me and spend time getting to know my peeps. We filled 2 days by eating and drinking our way through Charlotte, porch-sitting, laughing, sharing, and catching up --until the wee hours of morning (in the way that's so easy to do with the friends who've known you since you were awkward and pimple-faced). 
          • Laughing gas ~ Geneva had to have four teeth pulled last week in preparation for braces. The kid has never had a cavity and her anxiety about the extractions reached epic levels when we arrived to the dentist's office for her appointment. Honestly, without nitrous oxide, WE never would have made it through the procedure (no they didn't share any with me --and the whole "pulling" part lasted maybe 90 seconds). 
          • Fringe You ~ Oh my goodness! These delightful shoe accessories are so fun! My friend, Dani, introduced me to them and now Geneva and I are fighting over the rose gold and sapphire blue (both paired with white). Cheers to fall, laces, and many more opportunities to sport our #fringe. 
          • Neighborhood Peeps ~ We were delighted to host a small gathering over the holiday weekend and it was a great reminder of the friendships and connection we've made over the past 4+ years in Charlotte. Since our first home in Land Park (Sacramento), Greg and I have been fortunate to live among some of the most engaging, genuine, and friendly people. So much "everyday happiness" is found when you're among good peeps. #SpendTimeInYourFrontYard (or backyard, in this case) 
          • Tiny Desk Concert with Jason Isbell ~ First of all, I just love NPR's Tiny Desk --if you haven't checked any out yet, do so. Greg sent me a link to the recent session with Jason Isbell. We love Jason Isbell and I love this easy performance. I hope you do too. 
          • New patio furniture ~ We are in the process of updating the front and back porches (as I like to do with pillows, seasonally). After 4 years with the wooden rockers, I thought it was time for a bigger change. I look forward to showing you what I'm planning with the fun table/chair sets I recently found. No worries! We are keeping a couple rockers out there --this IS the South. ;) 
          • Geneva's painting ~ If you've been reading along, you might already know that Geneva and I took an amazing painting class with local artist, Heidi Kirschner, to celebrate Geneva's birthday (I blogged about it here). Doesn't Geneva's piece look great in our family room??  

          Things I Love Thursday // 9.14.17

          Thursday, September 14, 2017

          • The fact that my Florida family is ok ~ Harvey, Irma, José?... So much powerful devastation --it's hard to wrap your head around. It looked, for some time, like Irma was going to roll over Ft. Myers with Category 4 strength. Under mandatory evacuation, my brother, sister-in-law, niece, and nephews relocated to a secured shelter nearby and rode out the storm safely. Returning home yesterday, they found that their house sustained far less damage than many neighbors and so many other Americans. We are all so grateful. 
          • Laughable, Lovable, Longtime-Friends ~ Goodness... Where to begin with the time I was able to spend with one of my closest childhood friends this week? Tiff flew out to NC from California for a business trip and arranged her schedule to rent a car and drive 3 hours south to visit me and spend time getting to know my peeps. We filled 2 days by eating and drinking our way through Charlotte, porch-sitting, laughing, sharing, and catching up --until the wee hours of morning (in the way that's so easy to do with the friends who've known you since you were awkward and pimple-faced). 
          • Laughing gas ~ Geneva had to have four teeth pulled last week in preparation for braces. The kid has never had a cavity and her anxiety about the extractions reached epic levels when we arrived to the dentist's office for her appointment. Honestly, without nitrous oxide, WE never would have made it through the procedure (no they didn't share any with me --and the whole "pulling" part lasted maybe 90 seconds). 
          • Fringe You ~ Oh my goodness! These delightful shoe accessories are so fun! My friend, Dani, introduced me to them and now Geneva and I are fighting over the rose gold and sapphire blue (both paired with white). Cheers to fall, laces, and many more opportunities to sport our #fringe. 
          • Neighborhood Peeps ~ We were delighted to host a small gathering over the holiday weekend and it was a great reminder of the friendships and connection we've made over the past 4+ years in Charlotte. Since our first home in Land Park (Sacramento), Greg and I have been fortunate to live among some of the most engaging, genuine, and friendly people. So much "everyday happiness" is found when you're among good peeps. #SpendTimeInYourFrontYard (or backyard, in this case) 
          • Tiny Desk Concert with Jason Isbell ~ First of all, I just love NPR's Tiny Desk --if you haven't checked any out yet, do so. Greg sent me a link to the recent session with Jason Isbell. We love Jason Isbell and I love this easy performance. I hope you do too. 
          • New patio furniture ~ We are in the process of updating the front and back porches (as I like to do with pillows, seasonally). After 4 years with the wooden rockers, I thought it was time for a bigger change. I look forward to showing you what I'm planning with the fun table/chair sets I recently found. No worries! We are keeping a couple rockers out there --this IS the South. ;) 
          • Geneva's painting ~ If you've been reading along, you might already know that Geneva and I took an amazing painting class with local artist, Heidi Kirschner, to celebrate Geneva's birthday (I blogged about it here). Doesn't Geneva's piece look great in our family room??  
          To celebrate Geneva's birthday this year, Greg and I each planned separate one-on-one "dates" with her. Because she loves to be in the kitchen, I had thought we might take a cooking class together; however, all of the cooking classes in my area require students to be at least 18 years old. Then I remembered the oil on canvas class I took with friends at the studio of local artist, Heidi Kirschner. Heidi was happy to have us.
          We had a lovely date celebrating her birthday together. Geneva was definitely the youngest student in the class but it didn't matter because Heidi is one of those talented people who manages to translate/teach her skill in a totally approachable way. She's relaxed, funny, engaging, encouraging, and so so helpful. The two-hour class flew by and when we were finished we had two complementary canvases that we were both proud to have created. We look forward to more classes together with Heidi. If you're lucky enough to live in Charlotte, DO consider taking a class. Trust me, this is nothing like the "Paint and Sip" acrylic painting class you may have taken before.
          Geneva's piece found a home in our living room shelves.
          This is the piece I painted in my first class with Heidi (2014).

          Queen City | Heidi Kirschner Painting Class

          Sunday, September 3, 2017

          To celebrate Geneva's birthday this year, Greg and I each planned separate one-on-one "dates" with her. Because she loves to be in the kitchen, I had thought we might take a cooking class together; however, all of the cooking classes in my area require students to be at least 18 years old. Then I remembered the oil on canvas class I took with friends at the studio of local artist, Heidi Kirschner. Heidi was happy to have us.
          We had a lovely date celebrating her birthday together. Geneva was definitely the youngest student in the class but it didn't matter because Heidi is one of those talented people who manages to translate/teach her skill in a totally approachable way. She's relaxed, funny, engaging, encouraging, and so so helpful. The two-hour class flew by and when we were finished we had two complementary canvases that we were both proud to have created. We look forward to more classes together with Heidi. If you're lucky enough to live in Charlotte, DO consider taking a class. Trust me, this is nothing like the "Paint and Sip" acrylic painting class you may have taken before.
          Geneva's piece found a home in our living room shelves.
          This is the piece I painted in my first class with Heidi (2014).
          • The stories pouring out of Texas of those who are going above and beyond ~ Many are showing up and doing whatever they can to rescue, support, feed, and clothe people in need. "Mattress Mack", Zachary Dearingneighbors, first responders, officials, doctors and hospital staff... The examples go on and on. 
          • Siblings ~ This is a picture of my brother, Bobby, Greg's sister, Jessica, and Greg at Jessica's baby shower last weekend. Isn't she beautiful?? Greg flew out to Portland to attend and beforehand he had lunch with Bobby. Then they all got to spend time together at the shower and celebrate the pending arrival of our newest nephew. Yahoo!
          • Out of the Black ~ I heard this song during Savasana last weekend at my friend, Sam's b-day yoga gathering. Savasana is my absolute favorite "post-vinyasa-hot-as-$hit-yoga" pose. It's also know as "corpse pose" --which I think is SO fitting. (They do it in all yoga classes --but I find it especially rewarding after "vinyasa-hot-as-$hit-yoga" which they specialize in at Y2 in Charlotte.) Do you know the pose? It's the one where you get to just lie on your back after the instructor has kicked your a$$ and reflect on the amazing and difficult hour you just put your body through. I digress. The song, by Billie Marten, is terrific. Give it a listen. 
          • Sisters ~ The girls started school this week and it's the first time in almost 5 years that they are on different campuses. They are also on different schedules. Geneva begins almost 2 hours after Piper in the morning and she gets out later too. With the wakeup time so drastically different on the front end, I had wondered if Geneva would end up wanting to finally move out of Piper's room for sleeping. So far, that is not the case (not terribly surprising --given that G is our early riser). In fact, on the first morning of school Geneva popped up, got dressed, and hopped in the car with us because she wanted  to see Piper off on her first day. The day was long and quiet for me. I had to leave to pick Geneva up before Piper even made it home on the bus despite the almost 2 hour difference (the details of our bus saga are not for a "things I love" post). So when I pulled into the garage with Geneva in-tow, Piper was already home. She did not run into my arms... 
          • Makeup Tutorials ~ Women, these are so worth your time. My favorite makeup tutorial vlogger is Tanya Burr. Her YouTube channel used to be "PixiWoo" --but now she has her own (very affordable makeup line) and goes by her given name. Just listening to her accent and cheerful demeanor will keep you engaged --but pay attention to the details too. This tutorial for a blue/black smokey eye is one of my favorites (Though, I put it into practice only about twice a year, tops. Also, the video is very early in her vlogging days and a little grainy.) This one for an "everyday look" is great too. Most recently, I watched THIS TUTORIAL from Ali Andreea (another great accent). I have to admit, I was making so many of the "mistakes" she points out. So... if you "make up" your face from time to time (beyond just the everyday mascara and lipgloss) this is worth a few minutes and some possible note-taking.
          • Having a few of my great-grandmother's scrap-quilted pot holders ~ I posted this picture today of the delicious leftovers I was enjoying for lunch (recipe here). Later, glancing at the photo, I had a sweet moment of realization that the potholder my recently micro-waved dish is sitting upon is a handmade reminder of my maternal grandfather's mother. GGMa Lizzie made a lot of pot holders and quilts. Scrap quilting was her favorite and I just love the effortless and "happy" result that I am so grateful to  have as an "everyday" item in my home. 
          • This article, What I said When My White Friend Asked for My Black Opinion on White Privilege, by Lori Laken Hutcherson ~ My friend, Mary Heath posted this to her Facebook page this week and I'm so glad that she did and that I had/took the time to click and read. I hope you do too. 
          • My "Portland Fur" ~ I saw this bag on a woman in a store about a year ago and I was so compelled to reach out and pet it. I felt a little guilty to be so drawn to it --as clearly, a bambi had died to make such a beautiful tote. Instead of groping it, I just quietly confessed to her, "I really love your bag." And guess what?? She said, "Thank you. It's made of vinyl. You can touch it." I was like, "Whaa??!" (but only on the inside). She told me where she bought it. If you live in Charlotte, you can go get one there... However, in doing a little research, I discovered that I could order one online and also have it monogrammed. (!!!) Of course, I promptly ordered one for myself, wrapped it in beautiful paper and stuck it under the tree last Christmas with a tag to me from Greg. I've enjoyed it ever since. It's indestructible and I love it. He was also thoughtful enough to put this matching keyring wallet in my stocking. *wink*
          • These Suede d'Orsay loafer flats from J.Crew Mercantile in bright cerise ~ I took Geneva shoe shopping yesterday. She needed a pair of dress flats for Promenade (that's another blog post). Do you know, she wears 1/2 size smaller than I do?? In any case, she came away with a very cute ballet flat and I scored these in the mix. You may notice that they will pair beautifully with my Fringe Cuff from Club Monaco that I blogged about last week

          Things I Love Thursday // 8.31.17

          Thursday, August 31, 2017

          • The stories pouring out of Texas of those who are going above and beyond ~ Many are showing up and doing whatever they can to rescue, support, feed, and clothe people in need. "Mattress Mack", Zachary Dearingneighbors, first responders, officials, doctors and hospital staff... The examples go on and on. 
          • Siblings ~ This is a picture of my brother, Bobby, Greg's sister, Jessica, and Greg at Jessica's baby shower last weekend. Isn't she beautiful?? Greg flew out to Portland to attend and beforehand he had lunch with Bobby. Then they all got to spend time together at the shower and celebrate the pending arrival of our newest nephew. Yahoo!
          • Out of the Black ~ I heard this song during Savasana last weekend at my friend, Sam's b-day yoga gathering. Savasana is my absolute favorite "post-vinyasa-hot-as-$hit-yoga" pose. It's also know as "corpse pose" --which I think is SO fitting. (They do it in all yoga classes --but I find it especially rewarding after "vinyasa-hot-as-$hit-yoga" which they specialize in at Y2 in Charlotte.) Do you know the pose? It's the one where you get to just lie on your back after the instructor has kicked your a$$ and reflect on the amazing and difficult hour you just put your body through. I digress. The song, by Billie Marten, is terrific. Give it a listen. 
          • Sisters ~ The girls started school this week and it's the first time in almost 5 years that they are on different campuses. They are also on different schedules. Geneva begins almost 2 hours after Piper in the morning and she gets out later too. With the wakeup time so drastically different on the front end, I had wondered if Geneva would end up wanting to finally move out of Piper's room for sleeping. So far, that is not the case (not terribly surprising --given that G is our early riser). In fact, on the first morning of school Geneva popped up, got dressed, and hopped in the car with us because she wanted  to see Piper off on her first day. The day was long and quiet for me. I had to leave to pick Geneva up before Piper even made it home on the bus despite the almost 2 hour difference (the details of our bus saga are not for a "things I love" post). So when I pulled into the garage with Geneva in-tow, Piper was already home. She did not run into my arms... 
          • Makeup Tutorials ~ Women, these are so worth your time. My favorite makeup tutorial vlogger is Tanya Burr. Her YouTube channel used to be "PixiWoo" --but now she has her own (very affordable makeup line) and goes by her given name. Just listening to her accent and cheerful demeanor will keep you engaged --but pay attention to the details too. This tutorial for a blue/black smokey eye is one of my favorites (Though, I put it into practice only about twice a year, tops. Also, the video is very early in her vlogging days and a little grainy.) This one for an "everyday look" is great too. Most recently, I watched THIS TUTORIAL from Ali Andreea (another great accent). I have to admit, I was making so many of the "mistakes" she points out. So... if you "make up" your face from time to time (beyond just the everyday mascara and lipgloss) this is worth a few minutes and some possible note-taking.
          • Having a few of my great-grandmother's scrap-quilted pot holders ~ I posted this picture today of the delicious leftovers I was enjoying for lunch (recipe here). Later, glancing at the photo, I had a sweet moment of realization that the potholder my recently micro-waved dish is sitting upon is a handmade reminder of my maternal grandfather's mother. GGMa Lizzie made a lot of pot holders and quilts. Scrap quilting was her favorite and I just love the effortless and "happy" result that I am so grateful to  have as an "everyday" item in my home. 
          • This article, What I said When My White Friend Asked for My Black Opinion on White Privilege, by Lori Laken Hutcherson ~ My friend, Mary Heath posted this to her Facebook page this week and I'm so glad that she did and that I had/took the time to click and read. I hope you do too. 
          • My "Portland Fur" ~ I saw this bag on a woman in a store about a year ago and I was so compelled to reach out and pet it. I felt a little guilty to be so drawn to it --as clearly, a bambi had died to make such a beautiful tote. Instead of groping it, I just quietly confessed to her, "I really love your bag." And guess what?? She said, "Thank you. It's made of vinyl. You can touch it." I was like, "Whaa??!" (but only on the inside). She told me where she bought it. If you live in Charlotte, you can go get one there... However, in doing a little research, I discovered that I could order one online and also have it monogrammed. (!!!) Of course, I promptly ordered one for myself, wrapped it in beautiful paper and stuck it under the tree last Christmas with a tag to me from Greg. I've enjoyed it ever since. It's indestructible and I love it. He was also thoughtful enough to put this matching keyring wallet in my stocking. *wink*
          • These Suede d'Orsay loafer flats from J.Crew Mercantile in bright cerise ~ I took Geneva shoe shopping yesterday. She needed a pair of dress flats for Promenade (that's another blog post). Do you know, she wears 1/2 size smaller than I do?? In any case, she came away with a very cute ballet flat and I scored these in the mix. You may notice that they will pair beautifully with my Fringe Cuff from Club Monaco that I blogged about last week

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