28 September 2012

Friday Favorites

Just in case any of you thought I was rushing through fall to get to Christmas from yesterday's post, today's post is all about savoring fall favorites.  After a week of moping, I'm determined not to let our icky car situation ruin my favorite season!  Here are some fun, inexpensive ways I'll be enjoying the fabulous fall weather this weekend:

Putting away my spring/summer wardrobe and unpacking all of my fall/winter wear.  Hoping to break out the boots!

Going apple-picking with my groom.  

Whipping up one of our favorite fall desserts with said apples.

Cleaning and organizing the pantry to make room for fresh bottles of fall spices.

Kicking off our Soup Sundays tradition with homemade Loaded Potato Soup.

How do you plan to enjoy this beautiful fall weekend?

27 September 2012

It's Never Too Early...

One of the 100 Days To Christmas tasks this week was to being researching Christmas cards.  While we still don't have the perfect family photo for our card {it's kind of impossible to get a good picture of both of us with both dogs looking in the general direction of the camera}, I'm more than happy to start narrowing down our options.

There is no shortage of cute cards to choose from this year.  AND Shutterfly, Minted, and Tiny Prints all have an option to only show you Christmas-specific cards, which I just love.  {See: this rant.}  Last year, we used Shutterfly and had a wonderful experience, but I'm just not feeling any of their choices this year.  I'm really in love with all of the simple, modern options Minted has.  Here's what I've narrowed it down to:

1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6

Which one is your favorite?  Have you started looking at Christmas card options yet?  If you've used Minted before, how was your experience?

I am not being compensated by any of the aforementioned card companies for this post.

26 September 2012

Menu Wednesday

Obviously this is a few days late, but I'm hoping after yesterday's post, you'll forgive me.  Please?  I did improve on last week's Menu Monday post by remembering to take a picture of at least one of our meals!

I had every intention of photographing this meal, but then the delivery guys showed up with our new fridge and I got distracted.  This was SO yummy and easy to make.  It took almost no time at all and it was incredibly filling.  Such a perfect late summer/early fall meal.

I really want to like this meal, but this is the second time I've made it and I'm still underwhelmed.  I love the rice recipe {this time I made it with almonds and it was even better!}, but the chicken is SO bland.  I don't taste the mustard OR the cider in the sauce.  At all.  I believe we're done with this chicken recipe.

Also known as a frittata.  I'm completely obsessed with Budget Bytes these days {see yesterday's post re. ramen noodles}.  This recipe took some time to put together, but the results were worth it.  With a small salad, it was a great, light dinner.  And we enjoyed the reheated leftovers for breakfast for the rest of the week.  A keeper for sure!

Bon appétit!

25 September 2012


So this has been a truly horrible week.  And it's only Tuesday.  And it's completely my fault.

I've been waffling about whether or not to write this post.  It's very First World Problems and whiny and I tend to shy away from writing about negative things on here because I don't think anyone really cares about my problems.  {I don't mean that in a false-modesty way.}  I would be lying if I said I wasn't hesitant to write this because of pride.  I am a bonafide Type-A perfectionist and there are few things I hate more than admitting I made a mistake.  But then I wonder if editing out this incident inadvertently shellacs my blog into a shiny, happy place where nothing bad ever happens and that is a huge disservice to blogging.

So here I sit typing.

The oil pressure light in my trusty Volvo started flashing occasionally about 10 days ago.  That had happened before and I took it in for an oil change and a check-up and all was fine.  I convinced myself that since the light was only flickering and not staying on that the car could make it a few days without going in to the shop.

It's not that I didn't know that the flickering red light meant something needed to be done tout de suite.  I kept meaning to take the car in over my lunch break and then just put it off for one reason or another.  And that procrastination caught up with me on Sunday morning to the tune of several thousand dollars.

Yes, that's right, my engine is bye-bye.  So now all of our money is too.

I've spent a lot of time crying and kicking myself over the past 48 hours.  Generally just feeling like a huge boob.  Because now instead of going on a romantic anniversary trip and paying off debt and buying each other and our loved ones extravagant Christmas gifts, we're spending our hard-earned pennies on a car engine.  Just typing that out gave me such a big pit in my stomach.  Ick.

But as shitty as I have felt over the past few days, I have also felt something else: blessed.  {And I fall decidedly into the Kate category of feeling that the word "blessed" is EXTREMELY overused.}  But that's the only word for it.

I am so grateful to have supportive parents and a wonderful husband to remind me that it's only money. And to remind me how very fortunate we are to be in a position to have the money to fix this and to have people who can help us out.  Because I have SUCH high standards for myself and for the people around me, I was terrified that my husband and my parents were going to be furious with me.  M would have every right to be.  It's his money too and it's definitely not the way he wants to be spending a few thousand dollars.  I would have been furious with him had the tables been turned.  But he just hugged me and kissed away my tears and told me that we'd get through it by eating a lot of ramen noodles and pretending we were in college.  From my parents I found out that burning out engines is somewhat of a tradition with the female drivers in our family, so there's a weird sense of solidarity there {three cheers for willful ignorance!}.

Honestly, I'm not sure what the point of me posting this is, other than to document it as a reminder to myself and a PSA to all of you to ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OIL.  And to remind myself that things are going to be OK.  Writing this down has already made it seem much less dramatic than it felt on Sunday.  {Of course, we haven't gotten the bill yet...}

Thanks for hanging in there with my ramblings today.  I'll try to get back to the shiny, shellacked posting tomorrow!

22 September 2012

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Squares

Happy First Day of Fall!

I'm pretty sure I've posted this recipe every year since I started blogging, but whatever.  They're good enough to bare repeating.  These pumpkin squares are the most insanely delicious taste of fall ever.  EVER.  I was famous for these in college.  Make them and you'll be famous too.  I promise.

pumpkin squares
{slightly adapted from this Martha Stewart recipe}
Makes 24
2 cups all-purpose flour {spooned and leveled}
1 tablespoon pumpkin-pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 can pumpkin puree {do NOT get canned pumpkin pie mix!!!}
1 package {12 ounces} semisweet chocolate chips {also good with dark chocolate chips}

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with foil, leaving an overhang on all sides. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, pie spice, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar on medium-high speed until smooth; beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in pumpkin puree {mixture may appear curdled}. Reduce speed to low, and mix in dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips.

Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake until edges begin to pull away from sides of pan and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 35 to 40 minutes. DO NOT OVERBAKE. Cool completely in pan.

Lift cake from pan (using foil as an aid). Peel off foil, and use a serrated knife to cut into 24 squares. Restrain yourself from eating every last one of these.

21 September 2012

Friday Favorites

1 // 2

my obsession with pheasant-imagery continues

I just adore these boots.

I blogged about this last year, and I'm blogging about it again.  It is just the most darling piece of kitchen equipment ever.

High on Orioles magic,  I ordered this clever t-shirt for M.  Super cute and made in the USA!

What are you up to this weekend?

18 September 2012

Rainy Days and Tuesdays

1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5

This morning I drove my hour-long commute in pouring rain and then spilled my Cinnamon Dolce Latte down the front of my white shirt the moment I sat down at my desk.

I normally delight in the opportunity to wear my beloved Barbour and wellies and carry my extra-cheerful duck umbrella, but today is one of those days where I just want to curl up under a blanket with a bug mug of hot apple cider and go back to sleep.

17 September 2012

Menu Monday

Oops.  Remember when I wrote this?  Guess I spoke too soon.  It's not that I haven't been cooking.  It's that I've been so ravenous that by the time we sat down to eat I absolutely could not be bothered to take a picture.  And I felt guilty.  But I feel more guilty about depriving you of the delicious recipes we've been noshing on, so here they are!

Mine were not nearly as lovely as Jenna's, but they were quite tasty.  M is typically not a big fan of cream cheese, but he didn't even notice that it was in these.  I'm always looking for ways to cook with kale, so this recipe will be a keeper.

Wild Rice Burgers {The Kitchn}
A girlfriend of mine sent me the link to these and I'm so glad she did.  They were fabulous!  A few things to note:  Next time I would only use 1/4 teaspoon of dried oregano.  It was a tad overpowering.  I used a wild rice/brown rice blend and thought it turned out just fine.  Don't feel like you have to use all wild rice.  Be very gentle with these as they can fall apart very easily while you're sautéing them.  I served these with our favorite from-the-freezer sweet potato fries.

Taco Stuffed Shells {Budget Bytes}
Recipes for taco stuffed shells seem to be all the rage these days {I've got three recipes Pinned!}. These did not disappoint.  They were a little labor intensive, but nothing too difficult.  I used canned beans and closer to only 1 pound of ground beef.  This recipe makes a ton, so be ready for leftovers!

A favorite of ours.  I stir in Sriracha sauce at the end and top with a fried egg.  I'll add in mushrooms if I'm feeling extra adventurous.  Yum!

Cheesy Meat Loaf Minis {Cooking Light January 2011}
I'm still searching for the perfect meatloaf recipe, and while this wasn't it, it was a quick, easy way to have comforting meatloaf on a weeknight.  Again, I found the oregano to be overpowering, so I would cut it down to a 1/2 teaspoon. I'll definitely be making this again.

So there you have it! Maybe this week I can remember to actually take some pictures of the finished product...

14 September 2012

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday!  I got my wish from last Friday; we've had gorgeous fall weather here in Virginia all week long.  Something about the switch to slightly cooler temps makes me want to be extra productive this weekend.  I'm working my way through 100 Days To Christmas this year {per my list}, and it starts this Sunday.  Can't wait to get cracking on it! Are any of you playing along?

Some things I'm really looking forward to:

Starting a Soup Sunday tradition. Doesn't this chicken stew with butternut squash and quinoa look divine {and healthy!}?

taking a leaf-peeping drive down Skyline Drive

going on a ghost tour

finding and making a fun Halloween craft

10 September 2012

The One In Which I Lecture

credit: me. see what i did there?
please ignore the hideous state of our back patio. we inherited this "landscaping" and we're working on it. 

Today I am going to get on my soapbox for a few moments and then you can resume talking amongst yourselves.

When you blog or Pin or Tumbl (??) an image, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, please link to the ORIGINAL source of the image.

Now, I know that I have not always been good about this, especially when I first started blogging, and then again when I first started Pinning.  I would read blog posts like this one and roll my eyes and wonder why everyone was getting their panties in a bunch.

Then, a few months ago, I read this article.  And got scared and started going through all of my Pins to figure out which ones linked to original sources and which ones didn't.  Turns out, most of the stuff I had actually Pinned {meaning, for example, I saw a recipe I liked and pinned from the website} were original.  But almost all of the ones I had repinned linked to a Tumblr or had been uploaded by the user with no link to the source.  Yikes.

I seriously considered giving up Pinterest.  I "consulted" with a few lawyer friends and they talked me off the ledge.  And then I read this article and realized I was probably OK.

And somewhere during all this time, I realized that it didn't really matter whether linking to the original source or not was a legal issue. {Well, actually, it does matter, quite a bit, but speaking strictly from a moral standpoint...}  It was an issue of respect for the original source's integrity.  Be it the author of a recipe or the photographer or the event planner, it's important to give credit where credit is due.

I am slooooowly working my way through my ancient blog posts and pins to right these wrongs.  Now instead of just mindlessly repinning some image because it's pretty or looks yummy, I "like" it.  Then when I have the time, I click to see if the pin goes to the original link.  If not, I Google image search it until I can find the original source.  If I can't find the original source, then it doesn't get pinned and I unlike it.  Sadface.

From a practical standpoint, this is helpful for all those times you've seen a Pin and thought "Wow, that's beautiful! Where is that?" and clicked on it and ended up lost in someone's Tumblr account.  It's nice to know where said beautiful place is in case, you know, I ever want to go see it in person instead of just staring at it on a computer screen.  Same for finding an interior design photo with the PERFECT fabric or wallpaper, only to spend way too much time trying to track down the source so that I, too, can have the perfect fabric or wallpaper.  It's so frustrating and I know you've all experienced it.

With the move and the new job and the new dog and the state of politics in our country, it doesn't take much to make me angry these days.  And right now, I get REALLY angry when I see a blogpost that says "All pictures courtesy of Pinterest."  PINTEREST IS NOT A SOURCE.   It's just not.  Neither is Tumblr.  Or someone else's blog where the image isn't credited.

OK, end rant.

All I'm saying is, show the original artist/author some respect and common courtesy and link to your source.  Make life easier for your fellow Pinners and bloggers.

*Please note I am not a lawyer nor will I ever been.  I took a few classes on the Supreme Court in college and that's about it.  Do not use this as legal advice.  This is my just my personal opinion.  Legal-eagle readers, feel free to correct me on any of the above points.*

07 September 2012

Friday Favorites

Thank you all for your sparkly thoughts and sweet wishes on last Friday's post.  They helped.

I don't know about you, but fall is my absolute favorite season, hands down.  And although we've got a few more weeks until it's officially fall, now that we're post-Labor Day, it's pretty much all I can think about!  Here are some things getting me all fired up for fall:

delicious fall desserts, like these plum tarlets with ginger and chèvre

cozy blankets for snuggling on the couch

deliciously preppy fall fashion, inspired by one of my favorite ad campaigns

What are you most looking forward to about fall?