Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Game of Life

Christmas day games


What the heck is going on?!  I’m posting once a month?!  (insert bug eyes and crazy eyebrows here)
To all of those still checking and looking for my posts, I thank you for staying with me through some really busy times.  Here is what’s going on….

Jon and I bought a condo! Yay!!! It all happened so fast (we closed a month after we initially saw the place) and then we went to Utah for Thanksgiving and then the holiday season began full force.  Normally, I would be sharing photos, DIY projects that we are working on, and even updates throughout the space.  Sadly, none of those things are happening because we haven’t done any.  I’m lucky I got a Christmas tree up! As much as I LOVE the Christmas season, I am also looking forward for it to be over so I can paint, drill, make, repaint, etc.  Even though the place isn’t how we are dreaming it to be one day, it’s a lovely space for Jon and I.  It has a real wood burning fireplace (unheard of in a condo!) and a view overlooking a little lake (also unheard of for people who are not millionaires).  The kitchen is definitely bigger than my last one, however it doesn’t quite have the finishes I am looking for. Therefore, I am struggling with taking food photographs. Once the new year begins, we’ll be doing some renovations and the kitchen will be transformed into a lovely working space for me (and you!) to enjoy.   We also are creating the second bedroom into “Salon de Paris.”  At least that’s what Jon and I will be calling it.  It’s going to be our creative room where we will have a wall of bookshelves, all of our art stuff, and a place to make the world more beautiful!  I’m also on a massive hunt for the perfect sleeper sofa for our out of town guests.   There’s lots to do in our new home, I can’t wait to share it all with you.

Even though life has been hectic, I have done my best to enjoy the holiday season.  We had our annual cookie exchange last weekend and I made my traditional pizzelle. Christmas d├ęcor is sparse throughout our new place so I’ll probably be buying some decorations after the season for next year. We have had many nights in front of our cozy fireplace though, listening to the crackling of wood and talking about what an incredible year it’s been for us.   This year, we are happy to celebrate an early Christmas with Jon’s sister, her partner with their kids.  Even though we don’t have couches, and there are paint samples painted all over the walls, it’s nice to have his family here to celebrate Christmas. We  spent Christmas day with my family and will celebrate the new year up at the cabin.

I had all these amazing holiday posts planned for this month, but I have rescheduled them to December 2014.  As we close out 2013, I have already started to think of my new year’s resolutions and perhaps updating a few of my Birthday resolutions. Blogging is jumping higher on the priority list because it’s one thing that brings me so much joy.  I have decided to make the jump from a blog to a website.  I'm hoping to launch this in the next few weeks, so stay tuned for some new content!  In the meantime, Instagram and twitter will be my go to social media for the rest of the year.

I wish you all the happiest of the holidays and hope that you find peace love and joy with all that you do.  XO

Thursday, November 28, 2013

So Grateful


This has been the best year of my life.  I can truly say with confidence that I have never felt so blessed and fortunate to have the friends, family, and experiences like this year.  We are spending this Thanksgiving with my extended family in Utah, and I am so happy to be surrounded by loved ones to celebrate the beginning of the holiday season. I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving! XO

Monday, November 11, 2013

Just a little lovely chaos

One more walk around Lake of the Isles before the snow comes

Wow! It has been a really busy couple of weeks. In fact, this last month has been a bunch of lovely chaos.  The best part is that life is running its course right now, and I am in the race.  I am hoping that things continue to move upward for me, and I promise to do my best to keep posting through the madness. Thanks for sticking with me and my blog. XO

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Happy Halloween



We are one day away from the start of the holiday season!  Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, and Jon and I always dress up and go out with friends to sing karaoke. We went out this past weekend as Ms. Scarlet and Mr. Green from the classic game/movie Clue. It was a fun costume to put together (thank you Target.com) and we had a fun night out singing our favorites.  Here are a few of my favorite Halloween blog posts to help you celebrate this year. Happy Halloween everyone!


  1. A spooky punch to serve at your party or for the adults that stop by with the trick-or-treaters
  2. Even though I'm a dog person, I do love these photos of Blackie.
  3. I don't have baby fever, but Taza's kids make me want little ones to dress up! Especially as Anna Wintour!
  4. I still find myself looking at wedding blogs, and here is an gothic inspired wedding perfect for Halloween!
  5. Put together a last minute Halloween dinner for some friends!

Friday, October 25, 2013

It Feels Like Home


Years ago, I remember sitting in my college apartment, reading an email that just told me I was accepted for a study abroad program in Florence Italy.  To be honest, I was shocked.  For some reason, I didn't think I would get in.  I think because none of my other sisters had studied abroad, so for some reason I didn't think I was meant to either. Months later, I was living in a beautiful apartment in Florence, living with girls I had just met a few weeks prior. I have thousands of memories and stories from my time there, but a few of them stand out more than the others. This is one such story. 

Towards the end of my time in Florence, I was getting very homesick. It's hard to even admit now because I would do anything to go back and live there again!  However, I had lived there a few months, and was really homesick. I missed my friends and family, but mostly I missed my sisters. (this was before Skype or FaceTime was popular).  The first weekend of November, my friend Kim from Germany (we met when she was a foreign exchange student at my high school), asked if I wanted to visit her and her family. I was reluctant for a few reasons (being a broke college student was one of them), but in the end decided to take the overnight train to see her. I arrived very early in the morning at the Stuttgart train station; the sun hadn't even come up yet, and the station was deserted. She was standing there waiting to see me and holding a leash with Lena (her Bernese mountain dog) on the other end.  I gave her and Lena a hug, tired but happy to see such excited faces.  We drove in her car to the bakery so we could pick up some fresh bread for breakfast that morning (side note: Germans know bread. They are bread artists if you will). Kim was chatting away and I remember watching the sunrise as we pulled up to her family home with Lena wagging her tail to get out.  I was greeted by her parents and Kim showed me to my room for the weekend. It was a lovely space on the top floor perfect for my stay. Kim had put DVD's of "Sex and the City" in my room in case I needed some American TV. After showing me around the house, we sat down for a typical German breakfast of soft boiled eggs, German rolls, and a variety of cheeses.  Kim made a pot of tea and we drank every last drop while talking and catching up on life.  It was during my conversation with her and her mom Sabine, that I realized how happy I was.  This was exactly what I needed, time with my "sister" and some time with my "mom." My heart could not have been more full with love and comfort, and instantly my entire outlook on the rest of my semester there changed for the better.  I had the most wonderful weekend there, hiking in the hills of Stuttgart, shopping with Kim and her mom in the local boutiques, and dining out with the whole family (including Lena!) at a beautiful local restaurant. It was the most wonderful feeling to be "home" again. Even as I looked out the window on the train back to Italy, I held in my hand a letter from her dad Eberhart, thanking me for coming out that weekend and giving me a little money for the trip home like all wonderful dads do.  

I was fortunate enough to have their whole family attend our wedding in Italy this past May. Kim was with me when I was getting dressed for the ceremony, and her father was the first to give a speech at our wedding dinner. I believe that people across the world are connected in so many ways, and you can find family and comfort when you least expect it. I am so blessed for my friendship with Kim, and so happy to know that I always have a place in Germany that feels like home. 

Stuttgart

Sabine's art studio

Kim and Lena

Hiking in Stuttgart

My beautiful German sister

An incredible and loving speech at our wedding

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Little Things

Sunshine through the autumn leaves

It has been a busy week and I am very much looking forward to the weekend.  Work is picking up and I find myself setting a goals outside of work hours that keep me just as busy. However, I am happy to be working on so many things that I love and still having the time to spend with Jon and my friends on the weekends. I hope you all had a great week and have something special planned for the weekend, even if it's perfecting the art of doing nothing. Cheers!

These candles smell amazing and I love the wine bottle touch

It's never to early to teach kids to cook

Special mid week social at the Hotel Ivy

Gorgeous architecture at the Itasca building

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Wheatberry Salad


I have most of Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa cookbooks. They have such great recipes and I always find them easy to follow with delicious results.  I wouldn't call this Wheatberry Salad a fail by any means, but it definitely did not turn out the way I expected.  The wheat berries took twice as long to cook as the instructions said, and I they didn't really turn "soft." It was more like "chewy."Nonetheless, it was an easy dish to make (I even made pesto sauce while waiting for the wheat berries to cook) and I look forward to having it for lunches this week.

Raw Wheatberries

I use Alessi coarse salt when I salt water for cooking

Ombre Onions

Fall Colors


Monday, October 7, 2013

Seasonal Changes


As most of the country begins their slow decent into the autumn season, Minnesota tends to jump in full force the moment we have one day less than 70 degrees. The leaves are turning beautiful colors of orange, yellow and red, and the chilly weather is making it tough to leave my house in the morning without a jacket and scarf. I welcome the change of seasons and have already made updates to my wardrobe and living spaces. Here are some quick tips on how you can make some easy changes to embrace the autumn season.


1.  Stock up on baking items.  Do an inventory of your spices, baking ingredients, and tools to see what you need. I just picked up some new cookie sheets from Kitchen Window as my old ones needed to be donated. Baking is much more fun when I know that I already have everything I need, and then I can make my pumpkin bread during the week.


2.  Switch your bedding.  This is something that a friend of mine showed me, and I am determined to do it this year. Currently I have an all white duvet cover and it's perfect for spring/summer months.  However, this bedding would add such a seasonal element without changing the entire look of the bedroom.


3. Add some cozy to your living room. Slipcovers for pillows are the best invention ever.  It allows me to change the look of the couch without finding a space to store the old ones.  I love this pillow as I am change to darker colors and textured fabrics for the cooler months.  I have also pulled out my favorite throw and think I may have to buy this rug one to throw over a chair once the snow begins to fall.  Stock up on votive candles to scatter throughout your space to add a warm ambiance, especially if you don't have a fireplace.


4. Wardrobe transitions.  Pack away all of your shorts, mini skirts, and other summer items you won't be needing for a few months. Even though feng shui says not to keep stuff under your bed, these storage bins allow me to keep all my summer items clean and packed away until next year (or until a winter getaway). This is also a great time to donate all of those summer items you didn't use, and take inventory of what you will need this season (for me, I need some new black booties).

Friday, October 4, 2013

Scary Movie List



I have to admit, I am a total wuss.  I do not like horror films and I rarely get pleasure out of being scared.  That is not to say that I would not be good in scary situations, (I would never follow a serial killer into the basement of his home as Jodie Foster did in Silence of the Lambs) and I like to think that I can think fast in panic situations.  However, I do like the spooky spirit of Halloween, and enjoy watching some semi-scary movies made for wusses (thank you Disney) this time of year.  Old movies in black and white are my favorite, and the scary movies give me enough thrill to watch in the dark on a chilly October evening.  Here is my list of movies I will be watching this weekend while I begin to put together my costume for Halloween.

1. Hocus Pocus
2. Young Frankenstein
3. Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein


4. Clue
5. Practical Magic
6. Rear Window


7. Death Becomes Her
8. The Craft
9. The Birds

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

PSL


I was totally thrilled to find a new acronym this fall.  PSL was posted on so many things around my office and pinterest, it took me a minute to figure out what the heck it meant.  PSYis the pistachio nut  guy with the funny dance, PS4 is the video game thing where I can play mario cart...What the heck was PSL?!?  And then it dawned on me, it was like someone threw a pumpkin at my head and said, "Guess what time of year it is?!"  It's pumpkin season! Pumpkin Spice Lattes are back!  Ok, confession, I've never had a PSL from Starbucks or any other mass coffee producer.  To be honest, those fancy coffee drinks aren't worth the calories to me.  However, I do love all things pumpkin, so I figured I should see if I can make this recipe at home first. Thank you pinterest for being a better search engine than google in times like these.  I found this lovely recipe and whipped up a batch of pumpkin spice syrup so I can add it to my coffee any time.  Side note: this makes a lot of syrup (like 3 cups), so plan on getting a few cute bottles and give some extra syrup to friends. Side side note: this is the first part in a 3 part Pumpkin Spice Series (noted for future posts that I need to look at ingredients lists before coming home and not assume I already have everything in the pantry for pumpkin butter or turnovers.) More Pumpkin Spice recipes to come!





Friday, September 27, 2013

Not Just for Coffee Anymore



When Jon and I moved in together, we had a coffee table way before we bought a couch. There would be nights we would sit on next to the table, and eat dinner while watching our favorite shows.  Once we got a couch, we decided to forego the coffee table and got two small ottomans with trays for entertaining, storage, and/or sitting. A few months ago, Jon and I were doing some weekend shopping at West Elm when we came across this coffee table. Jon looked at me and said, "This is an AMAZING coffee table!"  Now for anyone that knows Jon, he's a pretty easy going fella, and does not have a strong opinion about home decorating or furniture for that matter. He was so into this coffee table, I was totally shocked.  He said, "We have to get this!"  Since it was a little bit of a financial investment for us (our previous coffee table was from Ikea), we decided to think about it for a little bit. Weeks later, Jon was still talking about the coffee table.  So when West Elm had a sale, we ordered the coffee table.  Now we come to the reason for this post; I had to figure out how to decorate our table.  After browsing through countless images on Pinterest and seeing some really helpful how-to videos, here are the main elements to decorate or update the look of your coffee table.


  1. Books - Coffee table books can show your personal style and interests.  The only rule I tend to follow is stick to a book that has mostly images instead of text. We have a ton of art and art history books lying around that I rotate throughout the year.  I also love books about fashion, travel, or interior decorating

  2. Trays - I think trays can be so versatile on a table. It allows me to put decor and other objects on the table, and then take them all off in one swoop if needed. They make the table look styled and organized.  I chose this tray since I like that you can still see the beautiful wood on our table. However, I also like these options and may update over time.  When winter comes, I will probably lay a placemat inside the tray like this one to add some holiday decor. 

  3. Candles - I think that white candles look the best since they are so neutral. I also usually ignore the scentless candle rule if I'm not serving dinner.  This candle is my favorite during the fall.  My mother in law also gave me the best candle advise I've ever heard; only choose scents that are natural to the earth.  Stay away from the ones that smell like baked goods since they usually have saccharine in them (and make me want to eat an entire batch of cookies). 

  4. Plants or Flowers - I always try to have fresh flowers in the house.  They bring simple beauty to any space, and the coffee table seems pulled together with some type of natural element on it. I try to stick to plants or flowers that are not very tall since we watch TV over our coffee table. Succulents and pothos are also a good coffee table plants. 

  5. Decor -  Try to add some personal style to your table. I have a small glass bottle that currently holds conversation questions. Poker cards, interesting sculptures, or seasonal elements can add an whimsical touch and make your table feel less like a picture from a catalog. 



Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Angelina Zuppa Zuppa


I'm usually pretty good about following recipes.  However when it comes to soup, I feel like all the rules can go out the window.  Soup is so versatile and easy to make, it's a great addition to your weekly menu. Since I can never cook for two people (I think that's one reason Jon married me), there are plenty of leftovers for lunches or even to put in the freezer for a busy week ahead.  For this soup, I made up the recipe since I couldn't find one that I wanted to make. So I'll do my best to get all of the details written out for you, so you can try it at home.  Have fun and feel free to add or omit things to your liking!  Buon Appetito!

Angelina Zuppa Zuppa
Makes: 6-8 servings

3 Tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion diced
3 garlic cloves small diced
2 lbs sweet Italian sausage casings removed
2 tsp salt
2 tsp pepper
2 tsp dried oregano
3 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp dried basil
2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp red pepper chili flakes
2 bay leaves
1 Zucchini diced
1 russet potato peeled and diced
2 carrots peeled and diced
1 28 oz can of stewed tomatoes
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 14oz can of cannelloni beans
32 oz Beef Broth
1 bunch of swiss chard leaves removed and roughly chopped

In a large dutch oven, add olive oil on medium heat.  Once the oil is warm, add the onion and cook until translucent, about 7 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds.  Squeeze the sausage out of the casing into the pot and break up meat with a wooden spoon. When the meat is fully cooked, drain off some of the fat. I did this the fancy way by tipping the pan and soaking up the fat with paper towels and tongs.  Once you've got most of the fat, add in all the spices (salt, pepper, oregano, thyme, basil, paprika, chili flakes, and bay leaves).  Stir so the meat gets fully coated in the spices and then add remaining ingredients except the swiss chard.  Bring to a boil for 5 minutes, and then lower heat to a simmer and cover the pot.  Cook the soup for 45 minutes so flavors blend.  Add the swiss chard and cook for another 5 minutes.  Turn off heat and let cool slightly before serving into soup bowls.  Enjoy!

Didn't use all the ingredients I planned because it didn't fit into the pot. #italianproblems

Rachel Ray taught me to use a garbage bowl. Very helpful!

Tomato paste is better in a tube so you can save it in the refrigerator. 

Ladle up!

I served it with crusty bread, yum!



Monday, September 23, 2013

Monday Memories



It's official; fall has arrived! The nights are cool and pumpkin spice is the new black.  It's my favorite season and I am excited to change my style, home interior and eating habits!  We had a lovely weekend filled with visiting friends, late brunches, and a bonfire at my sister's house. Hope you had a great weekend too!

Soup season! Recipe coming Wednesday


Shopping at Jonathan Adler


My new autumn tea from Teavana


My brother-in-law showing us his farm. Organically beautiful.