10/31/2013

ON BLOGGING WHILE WORKING FULL TIME...


This post has been in draft form for a long minute! Now that I've been blogging for three years (three years last week actually!), I finally feel like I'm ready to post it. A frequent question I get from readers and friends is how I find time to blog AND work a demanding full time job that is totally unrelated to blogging. I always have an answer and a comment in response to that question. My answer is that I really love blogging. My comment is that while I love it, it can be really hard.

They say that if you find something that you really love to do, doing it doesn't really feel like work. But that doesn't mean that doing the work isn't challenging or time-consuming. Blogging is a lot like that for me. It doesn't feel like work at all, but my goals for blogging make it time-consuming for me sometimes. I am always trying to improve my photography skills, I'm STILL trying to learn Photoshop and I'm always researching other sites for inspiration and ways to improve my blog. All of that is done outside of 8 - 12 hour workdays for me. Over the years, I have found a few ways to make it slightly easier, so I thought I would share them with you today. If any of you are considering starting your own blog or if you already have a blog and are struggling to keep it up because you have to spend the majority of your day doing something totally different outside of blogging, then I hope these quick tips help!

1. SET SOME GOALS AND DO SOME RESEARCH. Every time I start something new, I always make a list of goals that will help me get to where I want to be. That is what I did when I first started this blog. I made a list of new things I wanted to learn and how I would incorporate them into a blog. I wanted to learn photography, developing my cooking and writing skills, learn about new fashion and interior design concepts and meet new people. In turn, my hope was that I along with my blog would grow. Then I researched other bloggers that had already achieved some of the things I was hoping to learn. Making the list and doing the research gave me a good idea of how much time it would take to get to where I wanted to be. It also let me know that this was not going to be an overnight sensation. And that is ok! If it is one thing I have learned, growing a blog takes time. Lots of it - especially when you don't blog full time. So if you are thinking about starting a blog or have started one and it's not quite feeling right, set some goals and do your research. Once you do that, it will be much easier to make decisions about how to incorporate blogging into your schedule.

2. IF IT INSPIRES YOU, WRITE IT DOWN! I keep little notebooks everywhere - in my car, in my purse, on my nightstand. I even have a notebook in one of my kitchen cabinets! When I am inspired by something, I write it down thinking that it could be inspiration for an upcoming blog post. I have so many things to remember in my daily routine and writing things down helps me retain my thoughts. So whenever I need an idea for a blog post, I refer to my little notebooks.

3. SET A BLOG POST SCHEDULE. If you have followed my blog for a while, you have probably noticed that I have a blog post schedule. On Monday's, I post photos from the weekend. On Tuesday's, I post recipes. Links from the week go up on Friday's. Sometimes I like to mix things up, so I don't always adhere to that schedule. But having the schedule takes some of the work and time out of figuring out what to post each week. Readers also have some idea of what you are going to post and actually look forward to it!

4. DO WHAT YOU CAN DO- WHEN YOU CAN DO IT. So this is a big one. When I first starting blogging, I felt like I had to post every day. I would work all day at my day job and come home and do blog work all night. I was totally exhausted. So I had to scale back and re-prioritize. Now I only post 3 to 4 days a week. The posts are started and/or completed on weekends. I work all day on a computer, so the last thing I want to do is look at a computer screen all night. So during the week, I mostly edit or complete posts that are already in draft form. That way, I don't stay up all night on weeknights starting, editing and finishing a post. Also, there are always one or two nights during the work week when I don't do anything blog related at all. I just need that down time to keep my energy up. Having more energy actually makes me feel more creative, which in turn allows me to create better content for the blog.

My point is that you have to do what works for your schedule and your energy levels. If you don't take the time to figure that out, then it's hard to get the best out of blogging and it won't be fun! If you only have time to post once or twice a week, that is OK as long as you are having fun. Also, as your blog grows, this concept becomes even more important. Other bloggers might ask you to do a guest post or other brands or websites might reach out to you for content. It's great when that happens, BUT be honest with yourself about the extra time it will take to do the work. If your schedule doesn't allow for you to participate in an opportunity, don't fret! Another opportunity will come along!

5. SEARCH FOR INSPIRATION, BUT DON'T COMPARE! That might sound like a bit of an oxymoron, but I can't stress how important this is. I've found that not comparing myself to other bloggers is hard to do. Sometimes as I am searching for inspiration, I find myself comparing myself to bloggers who blog for a living and/or have a staff or group of contributors generating amazing content. At the end of the day, I know that comparison is a total waste of time. Being your authentic self to your readers is the best thing you can do for yourself and for your blog. If your authentic self is someone who does what you can do - when you can do it - and is having fun with what you do, then that is all that matters. Instead of comparing yourself to others, expend that energy on your own blog and creativity. I promise it will pay off!

I hope this was helpful!!

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10/29/2013

THE MONSTER COOKIE...

So, I've mentioned before that I'm just not that into Halloween. I used to be. I grew up on a dead end street where everyone knew everyone. Where all the kids played together frequently and knew to be inside when the street lights came on at night. Where you knew you could eat the Halloween candy you received while trick-or-treating and not worry about eating "bad candy." Figuring out to what costume to wear was an ordeal - a fun one. I always ended up making most of my costumes because I couldn't find the perfect one... Can you tell I just might be missing those simple days?? Perhaps all of that will come back to life for me once I have kids, but for now I'll bake in honor of the day. :)

I thought that the Monster Cookie would be most appropriate. Unoriginal, yes, but I've never baked this cookie before, so I thought now would be perfect time! I picked a recipe that required the basics - pantry staple ingredients, a whisk, a wooden spoon, a large bowl, and a cookie sheet or two. And I'm glad I did! These were DELISH! To me they are like a large peanut butter oatmeal cookie that's speckled with chocolate. They are slightly crunchy on the bottom and moist in the center. I also love that this cookie is customizable. You can add nuts, raisins, coconut, and/or more of any of the main ingredients. This is definitely a cookie I will make for my kiddos to make their Halloweens even more special... ;)


Here is what you need:

3 eggs
1 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 12 oz jar creamy peanut butter
1 stick unsalted butter, cubed and softened
1/2 cup regular sized M&Ms or 1 1/2 cups mini M&Ms
1/2 cup chocolate chips
2 teaspoons baking soda
4 1/2 cups quick-cooking oatmeal (not instant)


Here is what to do:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat.

2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar and granulated sugar. Whisk it well!

3. Add the salt, vanilla, peanut butter and butter. Mix well using a wooden spoon.

4. Stir in the M&Ms, chocolate chips, baking soda and oatmeal.

5. For larger cookies, drop two tablespoons (I used a 2 tablespoon ice cream scoop) of the dough on to the prepared cookie sheets. Space them about 3 inches apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until browned on the edges of the cookie. Let the cookie rest on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before moving them to a cookie rack to continue cooling. Note that the center will not appear to be done before the edges of the cookie are browned. The center will set as it cools.

For smaller cookies, drop 1 tablespoon of the dough on to the cookie sheet. Bake for about 8 minutes.

Enjoy!

Images by me
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10/28/2013

WEEKEND IN FOUR PICS...

Hello there! I hope you had a wonderful weekend. My weekend was a bit eventful. I had a great night out on the town with a good friend. I'm not a party girl, so rare late nights out are both fun and interesting to me. I got asked out by a married guy (he was CLEARLY wearing his wedding band) and another guy who said he was about to ask me out until I told him what I did for a living. He said I was too smart for him, then moved along. At least he was honest about his thoughts, but dang! I got home late and got sucked into a Lifetime movie called "The Husband She Met Online." Of course the husband was crazy. So all in all, it was quite a night on the guy front...

Anyway, the next day after recovered, I engaged in some retail therapy. I picked up this bracelet from Madewell that I have been eyeing for a while. It's simple, makes a statement, and it's on sale! I also picked up a new pair of sunnies. Quality beats quantity when it comes to sunnies for me, so I like to have one black pair and one brown pair. That's it. So I got these D&G cat eye sunnies that fit my weird shaped face perfectly. I also picked up this reasonably priced chunky GAP cable knit sweater and this classy little clutch from Zara. I feel much better now... :)

Other than that, my weekend was spent reading mags and baking with mini M&M's. I'll show you what I did with them tomorrow! Happy Monday!


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10/25/2013

A COUCH DATE + LINKS...


Hello and happy Friday!! I hope you had a good week. After some time off, this was my first full week back in the daily grind and thankfully it was productive. Now I'm ready for a little fun coupled with some down time. I've got a fun girls night out planned, a date with my couch that will resemble something like that picture (plus tea minus coffee, plus a chunky blanket), and a small to-do list to tackle. Small is good! I hope you have a good weekend. If it's cold where you are (like it is here), stay warm! Enjoy the links!

A while back, I featured a Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie here on the blog. Well this week, my post was featured on the Huffington Post website. I was so excited!

Did you hear what Martha Stewart said about bloggers earlier this week? I had mixed emotions about it to be honest. But this blogger did a great job of turning Martha's statement into something positive. What are your thoughts??

If the kitchen is the last room in your home you want to be in, this book might change your mind...

These are perfect for a holiday table. And simple!

Which state matches your personality?? This was fun... Mine was North Carolina.

Can you relate to this??

One of these will be on my stove this weekend...

Image via
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10/24/2013

A BEAUTIFUL ESCAPE...

My idea of a master bedroom is one that is serene, soft, comfortable and relaxing. It should feel like an escape from the day. Suzanne Kasler's bedroom, to me, is just that. She is one of my favorite designers and her new master bedroom reminds me of why I feel that way. She has a way of using soft colors, beautiful furniture and great accessories to create an ambiance that is incredibly calming. The vanity and the silk fabrics create a touch of glamour in the space that I really love. My bedroom is definitely not a beautiful as hers. BUT our bedrooms do have one thing in common - the stacks of books and magazines. That let's me know that I'm at least doing one thing right... :)

Images via Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles | Photography by Erica George Dines

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10/22/2013

THE ULTIMATE STREUSEL CAKE...


So call me crazy, but I've already starting planning my family's holiday menu. Yep, I'm crazy. But Thanksgiving and Christmas are my FAVORITE holidays of the year, so I'm always really proactive with the menu planning. Over the weekend, I was worked on our Christmas morning breakfast. Our traditional Christmas morning breakfast is usually Grands Cinnamon Rolls with freshly ground hot, vanilla coffee on the side. But this year, I want to change things up and make something that is homemade and from the heart. So over the weekend, I tested Martha Stewart's Ultimate Streusel Cake. I saw her make it on her show, Martha Bakes, and I just knew it would be a contender for our breakfast. Well, it might be the winner. This was SO good! It's like a moist, sweet pound cake with a buttery, sweet, nutty cinnamon streusel running through the middle. I could totally see my family eating this while opening gifts. Cheers to new traditions... :)



Here is what you need:

Pecan-Streusel Filling

1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon cinnamon
Pinch ground cloves
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon course salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups finely chopped pecans

Cake

Nonstick cooking spray
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon course salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cups sour cream

Icing

2 1/2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup milk


Here is what to do:

1. To make the filling, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, and cloves in a medium bow. Stir in the granulated sugar, flour and, and salt. Using a pastry cutter, cut in the butter until combined and the mixture is crumbled. Stir in the nuts. Set aside. If you are making this a day ahead, store in the refrigerator until ready to use. 

2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 10 inch bundt pan (See note) with cooking spray. Set aside. 

3. Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl. Set aside. 

4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and  sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until well combined. Beat in the vanilla.

5. Add the flour mixture and sour cream in alternate batches, starting and ending with the flour. So add 1/3 of the flour, then 1/2 of the sour cream, 1/3 of the flour, 1/2 sour cream, then the last 1/3 of the flour. Beat each stage until just combined. If you overmix the batter, the cake will be tough!

6. Spoon half of the batter into the bundt pan. Make a well around the center of the batter. Spoon 2/3's of the streusel mixture into the well. Spoon the remaining batter on top of the streusel filling. Smooth it with a butter knife or offset spatula. Sprinkle the remaining streusel mixture on top. 

7. The recipe says to bake it for about an 60 minutes, but it took about 50 minutes in my oven. So my advice would be to test it with a cake tester or bamboo skewer at around 50 minutes. The tester will come out clean when it is done. 

8. When it is done, transfer the cake to a wire rack and let it cool inside the pan for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, invert it on to the rack set over a rimmed baking sheet.

9. To make the icing, mix together the confectioners' sugar and the milk until combined. Drizzle it over the inverted cake.

Note: I used a 10.5. in x 4.5 in. bundt pan like this one to make this cake. If you use the regular-sized pan (10.5 in. x 3.5 in), then you might need less streusel. 

Enjoy!

Images by me
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10/21/2013

WINTER KITCHEN STAPLES...


Hi there! I hope you had a great weekend! I spent a lot of my weekend in the kitchen, which got me to thinking about kitchen staples for the fall and winter. I don't know about you, but I feel like I spend more time in the kitchen in the winter than in the summer. Cooler weather makes cooking a lot more enjoyable (for me anyway) and it's baking season - and I LOVE baking.

So I thought I would start the week off with a list of winter kitchen staples - things that are good for cooking and baking. Some of these things may look pretty basic, but I have a few opinions about those basic things based on my experience in the kitchen. So here goes...

..............................................................................

ONE: KitchenAid Mixer: I don't know about you, but I feel like most dessert recipes start off by saying,  "In a electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment..." It's because it's assumed that a mixer is a part of most people's kitchen. I have had my pink KitchenAid mixer for almost ten years and I wouldn't trade it for anything. It speeds up the baking process, is a master at creaming butter and sugar, making cookie dough, fresh whipped cream, and meringue - all things that are a pain to do by hand. If you don't have one yet, make some room in the budget. You won't regret it. Promise.

TWO: Meat Thermometer: I'm not at the point where I can tell when larger pieces of meat are done by the way it feels, smells or looks. I'm just not there yet and most people I know aren't there either. So a meat thermometer is a good tool to have to avoid that overcooked turkey at Thanksgiving or roast at Christmas...

THREE: Ice Cream Scoop: I have three different sizes of ice cream scoops that I use about 10% of the time for scooping ice cream. I mostly use them when I cook or bake something needs to be uniform in size. So think cookies, muffins, meatballs, biscuits - all kinds of things.

FOUR: Muffin Pan: You probably already have one of these, but do you have a good one? A good muffin pan is nonstick, slightly heavy (so it doesn't warp) and has longer ends that make it easy to grab. It's no fun when the thumb part of your oven mitten go right into a muffin when you are handling a pan!

FIVE: Holiday Cookie Cutters: Obviously these are useful for Christmas cookies, but they are also great for cutting sandwiches that are served at holiday parties or sandwiches for the kids lunchboxes during the holidays...

SIX: Dutch Oven: In addition to the KitchenAid Mixer, a dutch oven is also a really good investment. Dutch ovens, ones that are made out of cast iron in particular, are perfect for making soups and roasting meats. The cast iron keeps the heat in and allows the heat to circulate better, which results in perfectly cooked food.

SEVEN: Silpat: I just purchased my first Silpat and I now understand why they are special. Silpats are nonstick baking sheets that are made of food-safe silicon and fiberglass mesh. Unlike parchment paper, they can withstand high heat without burning. They also insulate the baking sheet, which allows for more even baking. You can also use them to roll out sticky cookie or bread dough.

EIGHT: Rolling Pin: Another necessity for those Christmas sugar cookies and pie crusts...

NINE: Baker's Twine: Baker's twine is good for two totally different things: baking and holiday gift wrapping. It's good to tie up meats for baking. I also use it wrap around baked cookies (like I did here) and around wrapped gifts.

TEN: Roaster: A good roaster is a must for winter cooking. A good roaster is made out of quality material (preferably heavy stainless steel) and comes with a roasting rack. It is obviously good for cooking meats, but can also be used for baking. I use my roaster for recipes that require something to be baked in a water bath. I'm loving that monogrammed roaster...

ELEVEN: Fine Mesh Strainer: Lots of dessert recipes require certain ingredients to be sifted, so I use my fine mesh strainer to get that job done. I also use it to make juices, something I will continue to do throughout winter. I don't have a juicer, so I blend up the ingredients in a blender and pour it through the strainer to strain out the pulp. It's perfect.

TWELVE: Pastry blender: When you are cutting butter into flour to make cookies, fillings or crusts, a flour cutter is a great tool to have. You could use your hands cut the butter into the flour, but the heat of your hands can melt the butter, which could ruin the recipe. Butter typically needs to stay cool to create a flaky and tastier finish.

THIRTEEN: Silicon Spoonula: Spatulas are great, but spoonulas are even better in my opinion. A spoonula is a spatula with a little curve it in that allows you to stir and scoop all in one.

FOURTEEN: Cookie Sheets: Do you have a set of good cookie sheets in your kitchen? Good cookie sheets are just like good muffin pans - they are nonstick and heavy duty. Cookie sheets are known to warp in the oven, which disrupts the baking process, so it's good to have a good set of sheets. When I use them, I always line my sheets with foil, parchment paper or the Silpat. That makes them easier to clean!

I hope this was helpful! Let me know if you have anything to add!

P.S. My summer kitchen staples...
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10/18/2013

PRETTY EAMES + LINKS...


Hi there! Well, I must say, this is one of the few weeks where I was actually sad to see Friday get here. I have been off the last few days just chillin' out - chillin' out so hard that I kept forgetting which day it was. I must have really needed a little break! I've been shopping, organizing, sleeping, watching movies and cleaning up my kitchen from a homemade biscuit disaster that I am too embarrassed to tell you about. So I won't tell you. :)

What's up for the weekend? I've got more baking, Pilates, a girls night out and chillin' to do. It's gonna be good. I hope you have a good one and I will see you here next week!

Words to use more often...

I purchased these from Madewell this week (in black) and I am in LOVE. Cute and comfortable...

Speaking of shopping, this post emulated a few thoughts I have had lately. Do you feel the same way?

A really beautiful night before the big day...

And speaking of the big day, this thoughtful guy planned a surprise wedding for his girl using... Pinterest.

I added this blog to my blogroll this week. So pretty...

I'm now inspired every time I turn on my computer. Here is why...

She has no formal photography training, but her Instagram photos that are all taken with her iPhone will make you think otherwise...

Image via

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10/17/2013

INSPIRED BY...


Those wishbone chairs. I know they have been around forever, but I'm quite fascinated by them...

That scarf. I never thought of a burlap scarf as cute, but I like that one...

That print on the wall. Love it. You can find it here... Oh I like that cabinet, too. 


That mirror. Did you know that Target sells a similar, yet smaller mirror??

Images 1/2/3/4
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10/15/2013

ROSEMARY GIN GIMLET

Well, today is a deadline at work that I have been working towards for several months now. So this past Sunday, I threw myself an early celebration that included this cocktail! I admit I'm not a heavy cocktail drinker (I prefer wine), so I had never had a gimlet before I made this. Gosh I have been MISSING OUT!! I found this recipe via a new favorite blog of mine, Likes of Us. They made the drink look so simple and so refreshing that I had to make it. I was also intrigued by the rosemary. It is one of my favorite herbs that I especially love to use in the fall and winter. This drink turned out to be exactly as it looks. It's refreshing, sweet and tart with a hint of a woodsy flavor from the rosemary. I think it would make it the perfect little holiday cocktail...

Here is what you need and what to do: (makes 1 cocktail)

1 cup boiling water
6 sprigs fresh rosemary
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 cup honey
Gin
Fresh lime juice

1/ To make the honey-rosemary simple syrup, add the boiling water, 5 sprigs of fresh rosemary, 1/2 cup sugar and honey to a medium sized bowl or pot. Let it infuse for at least 6 hours. Yep, 6 hours. I made the drink about an hour after it infused and the taste of the rosemary was basically nonexistent. It was perfect after 6 hours. So be sure to plan ahead if you are making this! Note that you can make this a day ahead. Let the syrup steep for 6 hours, remove the rosemary sprigs and store the syrup in the refrigerator.

2/ To make the cocktail, fill a shaker halfway up with ice. Add 2 oz of honey-simple syrup, 2 oz of gin, and 1.5 oz of fresh lime juice to the shaker and shake it up.

3/ Add 1 tablespoon of sugar to a plate.  Run a slice of lime over the rim of your glass. Dip the rim of glass into the sugar.

4/ Pour the drink into the glass and garnish with the remaining sprig of rosemary. Enjoy!!

Images by me
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10/14/2013

SATURDAY MORNING WITH "THE KINFOLK TABLE..."

I hope you all had a lovely weekend. My weekend was a mixture of busyness and calm. The busy part would bore you, so I won't go into that. What I will go into is the calm part, which is where this gorgeousness of a book comes in. I'll start off by saying that the lovely people at Kinfolk (they have to be lovely based on this book) have no idea who I am, so they don't know that I'm telling you about the book. But I have to tell you about it... 

I'm an avid reader of Kinfolk's quarterly magazine, so I was really excited when I heard they were going to publish a cookbook. I ordered it and it arrived on Friday afternoon. I woke up Saturday morning with a long to-do list for the day, but chose to start the day off in a calm way. No TV, no iPad or iPhone. Just me, The Kinfolk Table, and the various shades of morning light coming in my bedroom window. This book is full of three of my favorite things: beautiful photography, great writing and recipes that made me want to make revise the grocery list I already had. It's full of lovely essays about people from all over the world who take food and entertaining seriously, but think that both should be done simply- the idea being that simple food coupled with simple entertaining makes people feel their most comfortable. The book has stunning photographs of interesting designers, photographers, bloggers, newlyweds, couples and families along with essays that describe their history of food and how they now present it using the simplest forms of hospitality. It's 340 pages of heartwarming goodness that inspired me to get my camera out and capture the simple beauty of the morning light. It was the perfect way to start my day...

Images by me
Photos in the book by Parker Fitzgerald & Leo Patrone
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10/11/2013

THE PERFECT WALL + LINKS...


Hi there! I hope you had a great week! This week has been really good, really busy and really crazy all in one. This is my last full week of a busy time at work and TIME OFF is only days away. Can you tell I'm thrilled?? I still have a few things to wrap up over the weekend, but the plan is to try to carve out some much needed downtime. I need a nap. I also need to unload my DVR, which includes last night's episode of Scandal. My world stops for an hour while I watch that show. Then I spend another hour searching for Olivia's outfits and accessories online. Love it! Are you watching it??

Another thing I am thrilled about is the fact that I have links for you this week! Yay! During the week, I bookmarked some good things to share with you today, so I hope you enjoy them. Have a good weekend and I'll see you here next week!

I shared a thought or two (ten really) about things ranging from wine to chocolate to relationships to text messaging on Victoria's blog this week! Seriously one of my favorite series in blogland...

This site is a fantastic resource if you are looking to start or update a blog...

She has an amazing full time day job and an amazing full time blog. I loved learning about how she does it all!

I honestly don't get that excited about Halloween, but this was just TOO CUTE!!

A dress in my dreams...

A 540 square foot beauty...

Eight things every happy woman should have...

Oh my gosh...

Image via Domino
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10/09/2013

FOUR THINGS...



Just a few things that have hit my love list / wish list / I'll never get to have it but I like it list since last week's post! Yikes... It never ends. :)
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10/07/2013

KALE, WHITE BEAN & SPICY TURKEY SAUSAGE SOUP


Happy Monday! How was your weekend? It was a work weekend for me, which means I ate like crap most of the weekend. Junk food tastes even better to me when I'm working hard. I'm not the only one who feels that way right?? Well by Sunday, I had to get my act in gear and I did it with this soup. Fall = soup season I am THRILLED about that! This kale, white bean and turkey sausage soup is my first homemade soup of the season and it did not disappoint! I knew I would be busy this weekend, so I actually made this last weekend and froze it so I could have a quick meal on hand. There are several versions of this soup out there, so I researched a few of them and came up with this recipe. I used spicy Italian turkey sausage to spice it up and more beans to make it a little thicker. If you are weary of kale, know that its bitterness cooks out and takes on the flavors of the rest of the soup, so no worries there. This was so good and so filling. It was really like a hug in a bowl...


Here is what you need and what to do:

1 lb spicy Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 celery rib, diced
3 garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 15 oz can tomatoes (I used the tomatoes seasoned with basil and oregano)
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 15 oz cans cannellini beans, rinsed
1 large bunch kale, rinsed, stems removed, chopped

1/ Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy bottom 5-quart pot or Dutch oven. Add the sausage. Use a wooden spoon to break it up into bit sized pieces. Cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to a plate. Leave the renderings in the pot.

2/ Increase the heat to medium-high and add the onion. Stir frequently and cook until they start to soften and turn translucent, about 2 minutes.

3/ Add the carrot and celery. Cook until they begin to soften.

4/ Add the garlic, salt and pepper. Stir until the garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute.

5/ Add the tomatoes and chicken broth and bring to a boil over high heat.

6/ Once the comes to a boil, add the sausage along with the juices and 3/4's of the beans. Mash the remaining beans with a fork and add them to the pot. The mashed beans will thicken the soup.

7/ Stir in the kale and turn the heat down to simmer. Loosely cover the pot and cooke until the kale is tender, about 20 minutes.

8/ This freezes beautifully, so freeze any leftovers!

Enjoy!

Images by me

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10/04/2013

NEUTRAL + STYLISH...


HAPPY FRIDAY!! I am thrilled as always that today has arrived. This week was extremely busy for me (again), so the week actually flew by for me, which is always good! So, yes, this is week #2 that I have not done links of the week. My eyes have given me about 15 minutes of time each night after settling in from work to browse the net before they close up on me. I have one more week of this insane busyness before I can get back to my normal schedule, so bear with me please! :)

In the meantime, feast your eyes on these beautiful spaces designed by one of my favorite designers, Amanda Nisbet. One of my favorite things about her designs is how she uses fun accessories and pieces of furniture to add a pop of color, style and character to the spaces. I love that purple chair in the entry and the little chess pieces on that table in the stairway. By the way, if you are in the Atlanta area on October 17th, she will doing a design presentation at 6PM at the Pottery Barn - Lenox Mall and signing copies of her book, Dazzling Design. So stop by if you are around!

It'll be a work weekend for me, so have a little fun for me this weekend, ok? OH - thank you so very much for the comments and pins of the pumpkin cupcakes! I'm so glad you liked them! Happy weekend!


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10/02/2013

LUST LIST #16




It's been quite a while since I've done a Lust List post, so I had some fun putting this one together. These are some of my favorite things at the moment that all came together to form a light aesthetic that I really love. I am itching to get to the Tory Burch store to test out her perfume. The bottle alone is beautiful and I hear it smells divine. AND... One of my goals this fall/winter is to get more acquainted with loose leaf tea. That tea maker (that is only $20 thank you very much) might just help me reach my goal. I could see myself curled up on the couch with one of those cute blankets and a cup of fresh hot tea. Dear fall: I love you. 
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