Friday, September 30, 2011

My new favorite jeans


No Friday Frames today due to a busy busy schedule this week, but I do want to take a minute to share a great new discovery.
I'm definitely a jeans kind of girl. I wear them almost every day... let's say 80% of the time I'm in jeans. I'm constantly on the hunt for a great new pair. The color is what first drew me to these jeans. Well, that and the fact that they were on a 'sale' table marked 'additional 30% off'. I almost didn't pick them up when I saw that the fit was high wasted...but that color...I just loved that color.  I do love me some gray denim. I was on the hunt for some really comfy jean leggings that could be a fall staple, and the high wasted pants I currently own (while very cute) don't tend to score high in the comfort arena. But I tried them on anyway and I am so glad I did! They are super stretchy and soft. What I really love about the high waist is that there is no tugging and constantly pulling up like I might have to do with lower cut jeans. I might just be going to back to the Gap in the near future to buy them in another color. And I think they're still on sale people, get them while they're hot!! ps. how great are those shoes?!


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Vegetarian Chili

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Love love love making soups, almost as much as I love making cupcakes. This is one of my favorite soups to make. Making chili definitely gets me in the mood for colder weather and cozy dinner parties. An awesome fact: no one I've ever served this chili to has regretted the fact that there's no meat! A great trick is the addition of the red lentils. They break down and create a texture very similar to meat, guests have actually mistaken it for turkey chili.

The base of this recipe I've made many times and it continues to evolve. I don't think I've ever made it the same way twice. It's a great way to use up some leftover produce that is just sitting in the fridge, and don't be afraid to sub in your favorite veggies or beans. It does take a good bit of time to prepare, but it's easy to multitask once you get it allgoing. I'll usually work on etsy orders or laundry while it's simmering.

It's super hardy and flavorful, and also very versatile. Most of the time I'll make this chili on a Sunday and we'll eat variations of it throughout the week. Here a some ways to change up just a basic bowl of chili (because who can stand eating the exact same thing all week long).

1. Try out some different toppings. My favorites are a bit of greek yogurt, lime, and cilantro. Sharp cheddar, cotija, manchego, or pepper jack are great cheese options for a bit of indulgence. Meat lovers might want to throw a bit of crumbled bacon on top or some shredded chicken. Bottom line, just get creative! There a million different ways to jazz up chili with toppings.
2. Make nachos!! Or Frito pies!  Pile those chili leftovers on top of tortilla chips or corn chips. Once again, get creative with the toppings. Black olives, avocado, jalapenos, fresh onions are just a few that I favor. And don't forget your favorite cheese. How about a variation of this variation....? (I'm getting all 'Inception' on you now) Sub out the chips for cornbread or even use greens for a taco salad.
3. Chili for breakfast.... Huevos rancheros perhaps? This is one of my favorite weekend breakfast treats. Warm up a tortilla (corn or flour, whichever you prefer), a layer of your homemade chili, then pile on the eggs anyway you like them. Just a little tip, a runny yolk makes this dish extra yummy. Top with a little sour cream, cheese and avocado - enjoy!
4. Now for the obvious choice, chili dogs!! Bun, hot dog, chili - done.

Any other ideas for jazzing up chili? I'd love to hear your favorite ways to eat this cold weather staple.

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Penfold's keeps me company while I cook away


Vegetarian Chili
Serves 8-10-ish (keeps refrigerated for 1 week)
From prep to meal time - about 2.5 -3 hours

4 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
8 medium cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoon cumin
4 or 5 tablespoons chili powder (you can season to taste here)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 14.5 oz can chicken or veggie broth
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes (I used a combo of fresh and canned tomatoes this time - depends on what i have. Also I puree my tomatoes in the food processor, i just prefer the texture this way)
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 cup dried green lentils
1 cup dried red lentils
1 can kidney beans
1 can black beans
1 cup of corn (canned or frozen) - I was out of corn this time but it makes a great addition
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon lime juice
Cheese, optional
Sour cream or plain greek yogurt, optional
1. Heat the oil in a large pot (large enough to handle alot of chili) over medium-high heat.
2. Add the onion, bell peppers, carrots, celery and cook until onion is translucent and peppers are softening. About 10-15 minutes.
4. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
5. Push the vegetables to the perimeter of the pot so that the center of the pot is clear.
6. Sprinkle the cumin into the center of pot and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
7. Stir the cumin and vegetables together and let cook until the cumin is fragrant, about 1 minute.
8. Add the chili powder and cayenne pepper and stir to coat the vegetables. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
9. Add 2 cups water and the broth and stir well to combine, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot.
10. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.
11. Stir in the tomatoes, oregano, and brown sugar, and bring back to a simmer.
12. Add lentils. Simmer until lentils are soft - 45 minutes to an hour....maybe longer. Adjust the thickness however you see fit, you may want to add more water or broth.
13. Then add the beans and corn and stir gently to incorporate. Salt and pepper to taste.
13. Remove the pot from the heat and stir cilantro, and lime juice immediately before serving.

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And Enjoy! shown here with Jalapeno Cheese Bread from a local bakery

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Merry Mishap [etsy love]


I'm so excited to share one of my favorite blogs and etsy shops with you today. I was a reader of Jennifer's blog, A Merry Mishap, before I discovered her genius jewelry line. I feel in love with the crispness of her blog and gorgeous photographs. After coveting all of her creations for a while, I pulled the trigger on a neon green and brass piece. I was so completely in love with the necklace I purchased from Jennifer's shop that i recently ordered a second one! I have really enjoyed watching her jewelry line evolve in the few months she has been selling. I am in love with the new sculptural brass pieces she is mixing with her handmade beads. I just cant get enough!! 
Her blog is equally lovely. It features clean, crisp home inspiration, thoughtful looks into her family life, and impeccable fashion finds. I could ramble on about her great minimal (but still fun) style, her adorable son Israel, and her spot on photography but how about i just let the images speak for themselves.

My fist purchase - I love the way this neon green necklace looks with my gold initial pendant

My most recent purchase - I feel in love with the brass charms, I have the yellow beaded version



Monday, September 26, 2011

hola seƱoritas!

Festive outfit for a night out to indulge in Mexican fare

It was a weekend full of quiet time at home, making warm comforting soup, pumpkin cookies, and de-junking my closet. One of my favorite parts of the year is when I get to unpack all of my cool weather sweaters and jackets and restock them into my closet. This usually inspires me to do a massive closet clean-up overhaul, one which I got halfway though yesterday and got overwhelmed so I left it for another weekend. I did though try to weed out a few things from last year that were never worn, also made myself get rid of some ridiculously uncomfortable boots that I had been hanging onto for some reason. Got to make room for new fall shopping! I'm trying to be very mindful with my purchases lately, making a list of "musts" and trying to edit it down. This is working like a charm so far, minus a few impulse buys at F21 that need to be exchanged for more practical items. Aside from obsessing over fall clothes, I watched alot of Dexter, ate some Red Vines, and saw Drive as planned (bloodier than expected, but oh so amazing!). Hope you all had lovely, relaxing weekends as well :)

F21 top, Express jeans, look at my lazy partner down there would u? He's so unimpressed.

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Saturday morning breakfast

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Souvenirs from Austin

The beginnings of a yummy soup

Not the prettiest things but they are yummy. Caramel stuffed pumpkin cookies

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday Frames

I'm looking forward to a quiet night at home this evening. I found a fun fall cookie recipe I want to try out and I think I'll bust out a big batch of soup for the week. Geez, i sound like an 80 year old woman. Oh well, I'm ok with that. I have an awesome veggie chili recipe to share next week. I made it recently and it was my best yet!  Now if I can only remember where I put the notes I jotted down while I was making it............
On an unrelated note, the mister and I both have huge crush on Ryan Gosling and we are planning to see Drive on Saturday (pretty excited about that). Anybody see him on Conan this week? Ugghhhhhhhh there are no words, he's just amazing!!!!! Anyways, here are some pretty moments from the week. Have a good one lovelies!

Pretty flowers
Pretty Flowers for my crib

I went on a fancy date last night
I went on a fancy date this week, DIY necklace by me!

Funny graffiti by my place of work (there's lots of it)

sometimes you just need a vanilla cone


my favorite vintage lamp

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Last of Summer : Figs

I'm a huge fan of figs. I often plot ways to steal a few off of my neighbor's fig tree. But I'm telling you they must sense me coming because every time I try to strike, all of the figs have mysteriously been plucked. No worries though, I came across these beauties at the market. I snatched them up fast knowing it might be the last time this season I would come across some. I was dying to try this gorgeous recipe I spotted over on L.A. in Bloom. A bbq seemed like the perfect event for baking a Savory Fig Torte..............with prosciutto in the crust mind you. You just cant go wrong with that combo. It was delicious fresh out of the oven BUT even better the next day because I had the genius idea to add goat cheese and a little balsamic reduction drizzled on top. By the way, balsamic reduction is my new jam, I think I'll be adding it to everything. It's so sweet and tart and rich and pretty and EASY! A little balsamic vinegar in a pan, add some red wine, heat until is bubbling (probably medium heat?) When it reaches a syrupy consistency, you're done! It was the perfect addition to this torte. Enjoy!
ps. This recipe calls for 3 ripe figs but it took me way more than that to cover my torte, i guess it just depends on what kind of fogs you use.

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Sweet & Savory Fig Prosciutto Torte
Serves 8
Recipe written by Patricia Clark

2 cups flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
2 oz of thinly sliced prosciutto, thinly sliced
3 ripe figs, cut into wedges
2 eggs & 1/2 cup whole milk
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1/3 of a red onion, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Line a pyrex baking dish with parchment paper and lightly spray with vegetable oil
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Stir well
Add the eggs + milk, butter and oil and stir until the mixture has reached a thick consistency
Mix in the chopped prosciutto
Press the mixture into the lined pan
Layer in the fix wedges (decoratively if you like) and gently press into the base
Arrange the onions in small areas around the pan
Drizzle with 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes on the middle rack of your oven
Once slightly cooled, cut into squares and enjoy

Monday, September 19, 2011

A weekend [in outfits] v.4

Dress & purse- Target, Necklace - DIY by me!, Shoes- Dolce Vida, still rocking the Essie Clambake polish

Lots of baking and face time with friends this weekend. Brinner (breakfast for dinner) party Friday!! Every work week should end like this. It was a great low-key way to spend an evening in. There was an epically delicious breakfast casserole from Leigh (I've been eating the leftovers all weekend, so good!!!) and I made Emma's Banana Nut Monkey Bread. It was my first time making monkey bread; it's so easy and fun to make! I think I'll definitely be doing it again.
There was also some bbq-ing with friends, way too many chocolate chip cookies, and lots of jewelry making. Check out the fun DIY from Honestly WTF that we tried out. I'd say it was a success! The heat did start to creep back up this weekend, just enough so to really bring the mosquitoes out. Not too bad though, I guess I can't really complain. The only thing is I've been stocking up on fall duds and i want to break them out so bad!!! Wearing sweaters and shorts is one of my favorite combos. So far I haven't been able to pull it off without breaking a sweat mid day. But I feel my time is coming. What cool weather combos are ready to break out?
Side note, this was the first weekend in a while that I felt pretty... relaxed. I didn't have anything looming over my head, and the things that were on my to do list I didn't let rule my whole weekend. I'm not sure how I did it but I need to figure how to emulate that feeling again. I think this is how every weekend should feel yes?

Breakfast for Dinner, cause we're adults and we do what we want

Banana Nut Monkey Bread

No brinner party is complete without a game of hot potato on the kitchen floor
No Brinner Party is complete without a game of hot potato on the kitchen floor

Dress and shoes - Old Navy, Purse - Urban Outfitters, Hat - Brixton (apparently I'm feeling really cool, see those sideways glances haha)

BBQ - Key Lime cheese Ball...what??!!

Blue Skies outside, Dark and Stormy in the glass

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New pretties

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Braided Hex Nut DIY, loving it!!!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Hamilton Pool [more Austin Trip]

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More fun bits from my trip to Austin (and this isn't the last of it either). We got up early our second morning in Austin and headed to Hamilton Pool. It's a nature preserve in Travis County, but early in the morning with no traffic it was actually only 20 minutes away. I did my research ahead of time and found out that it pays to get there early!! The park has limited parking and if it's full when you get there, you have to just wait in line until someone leaves. The park opened up at 9:00 and we were there around 9:20 and drove right in (when we left the park i couldn't believe how many cars were in line waiting to get in). From the parking lot, it was about a quarter of a mile walk down to the pool. It was quite a breathtaking sight, bright jade waters and limestone cliffs that create a cool cavelike back-splash to the pool. The beach area was pretty small but we got a prime spot in the shade before it filled up too much. Another genius move, bring rafts!!!!! We were so glad we thought to bring rafts with us. It was so relaxing to just float around the water. I could tell all of the other patrons were jealous.
There is normally a 50 ft waterfall that pours into the pool, but due to the extreme drought that Texas has been experiencing the waterfall was reduced to a trickle. I do have to say the lack of waterfall didn't really take anything away from the beautiful scene. We lounged around the beach, walked around the cave. and floated around until about noon. By that time it was getting very hot and a little too crowded so we trekked back to the car and took an epic nap when we got back to the apartment.
All and all I have to say this place is a must if you visit Austin, definitely something to see. I can't wait to go back!
Important tips I'll leave you with: go early!!! bring rafts, also bring snacks and drinking water,  I would bring a blanket to lay on in addition to towels (the beach is pretty much dirt mixed with sand) Call ahead of time because there are times that they close the pool due to algae levels, be ready to take lots of pics, it's gorgeous!!

Enjoy the following photobomb! These photos are part iphone, part disposable camera, and part nikon coolpics (and also a combo of mine and the bf).






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