Sunday, March 31, 2013

Friday, March 29, 2013

Herbed Goat Cheese Salad

Pasadena certainly does not have a shortage of amazing restaurants.  And this lady loves a good restaurant.  One of my favorites is AKA Bistro located in "Old town".  Andy and I took advantage of the sitter earlier this week and shared a bottle of Prosecco peaceful and relaxing lunch on their patio.  I ordered the Herbed Goat Cheese Salad and loved it so much that I re-created it for dinner last night.  YUM!

While on my weekly grocery shopping excursion to Trader Joe's I found a very reasonably priced trio of herbed goat cheeses.  Ding! Ding!  We have a winner.  For this salad, I used the Garlic and Herbs cheese.  Perfect.  

I dipped each slice of goat cheese in egg wash and then dredged them in a plain bread crumbs and freshly grated parmesan mixture.  Next, I fried them up in some olive oil on medium heat for about 2 to 3 minutes on each side.  Ideally, you want the cheese to be melted through just enough so that its uber creamy and melts in your mouth.  Epic!  But not too hot making the cheese ooze out into the frying pan.  Fail!  You pickin' up what I'm layin' down?

What you'll need....

3 oz goat cheese
1/3 cup plain bread crumbs
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan
egg wash (i use eggbeaters and water)
3 cups  mixed greens
8 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 avocado, diced
1/2 apple, sliced into matchsticks
1/4 dried cranberries
1/4 candied walnuts
1 - 2 tablespoons of dressing

1) Add egg and water in a bowl to create an egg wash.  Add bread crumbs and parmesan in separate bowl.  Cut goat cheese log in half and dip into the egg wash.  Then dredge the cheese in the bread crumb parmesan mixture so that its coated on all sides.
2) In small frying pan, saute the goat cheese in olive oil on medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes on each side.  Set aside on baking rack.
3) Meanwhile in salad bowl, add mixed greens, apples, tomatoes, cranberries and walnuts.  Toss with dressing.
4) Add avocado and goat cheese on top of salad and ENJOY!

Click here for printable recipe

Linking to these fab blogs...
The Shabby Nest * A Little Knick Knack * Serenity Now 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The last week has been so much fun with my parents in town.  It warms my heart to see my boys spending time, playing, reading and cuddling up with their papa and grammy.  This morning we had a tearful good bye on the front porch while blowing "kissies" and watching as they drove off to the airport.  

One of the highlights from their visit was a trip to Disney's California Adventure.  I could hardly believe the boys lasted 5 hours running around that park!

Taking a pic with their BFF Donald.

Stuffed animal pig pile on Papa!

See you in June Papa and Grammy.   We love you and miss you already :)

For me, it's back to the project list.  A couple of things on the horizon....

I'm considering painting the interior of the back door in the kitchen a poppy red.
Get the back patio ready for Spring and Summer entertaining.  

Building a planter to harvest fresh herbs and veggies.

Create my own Spring Wreath for the front door.  How amazing is this one Tonya made from Love of Family and Home out of Split Peas.  Ingenious!

hmmm what should I start on first?!...

Friday, March 22, 2013

Lemon Blueberry Scones

So I mentioned yesterday that my parents are in town.  My dad was "complaining" that he eats so much when he's here visiting.  This makes me laugh because it's SO true!  I love to bake but I have ZERO willpower.  It can't be in the house or I will take it down like a rodeo bull in seconds.  So when I have house guests I like to spoil them with yummy treats.  I get to bake, they get to eat... win, win, right?

Last Thanksgiving, I gave Ina Garten's Cranberry Orange Scone recipe a try and the family LOVED them.  Since yesterday was the first day of Spring I decided switch out the fall flavors with some fresh lemon zest and sweet blueberries from the Farmer's Market.  Classic flavor combo in my opinion.  You could switch out the fruit in this recipe with a variety of ingredients.  You could use something sweet like strawberries or chocolate morsels.  Or something crunchy like slivered almonds or pecans.  The options are endless!

Adapted from Ina Garten's Cranberry Orange Scones Recipe

Lemon Blueberry Scones
Makes 8 Scones

What you'll need...

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 1/2 sticks chilled unsalted butter, diced
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup cold heavy cream
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
extra heavy cream for brushing top of scones
extra sugar for sprinkling top of scones

How to...
1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2) In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, lemon zest, and salt.  Add cold butter and turn mixer on at the lowest speed for about 1 minute or until the butter forms into pea sized bits.  

3) Combine eggs and heavy cream and slowly pour into the flour and butter mixture with the mixer on low speed.  Mix until JUST blended.  *tip over blending will turn your scones into little tough hockey pucks.. eh?  With mixer off, carefully fold in blueberries using a rubber spatula.  

4) Dump dough onto a well floured clean surface and form it into a square.  Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a 3/4 inch thick square.  Cut square into quarters (4 pieces).  Then cut again into eighths making triangles (8 scones total).

5) Brush the tops of scones with heavy cream using a basting brush, sprinkle tops with sugar and bake for 20 minutes until tops are browned and the insides are fully baked.

Click here for printable recipe

We are off to California Adventure today with Grammy and Papa.  Weeeeeeeeee!  Have a great weekend :)


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Breakfast Smoothies & Scones

Usually a weekday breakfast in our house will consist of cereal or oatmeal and some fruit.  Or maybe a smoothie and some toast.  But this week we have house guests!  My mom and dad escaped the wintery Boston snow and flew to sunny California yesterday afternoon.  You know what that means.... an excuse to make scones!  

This morning I baked up some yummy Lemon Blueberry scones and a Triple Berry Smoothie.  

Daaaaaddddd!  Apparently, he just couldn't resist.

Stay tuned for recipes tomorrow!


Monday, March 18, 2013

Renovation Update: Bathroom Progress

I know how you crazy kids love photos so get ready for some photo overload in this post!  Mama got a little trigger happy with the camera yesterday.  Perhaps it has a little something to do with the excitement of the completed master bathroom renovation!!  Woot, woot!!  Come on in and take a looksie.  

The new L-shaped bathroom is located on the second floor off the master bedroom within a dormer of our craftsman-colonial house.  It is FULL of weird unique and charming angles.  It made for quite an interesting design challenge when trying to figure out the layout of the room.   

We knew we wanted two sinks, a big shower and of course you need to add the porcelain throne into the mix.  We also wanted a very crisp, clean and spa-like look and feel.   All the finishes for the fixtures are polished chrome.  They look like little pieces of jewelry when the natural light bounces off of them.  Love!  I considered mounting two mirrored medicine cabinets but changed my mind at the 11th hour.  I felt like it would have been too much on this wall.  The seamless bevelled mirror really opens up the space giving the illusion that the dormer is bigger than it really is.

Our contractor originally sent me to a show room in Pasadena to pick out our sink and shower fixtures.  The hubs was on a biz trip so the "decision-ball" was in MY court.  It was like being a kid in a candy shop!  Everything was so sparkly and shiny.  I worked with a nice sales person to make selections on styles and finishes and then.... he priced it out.  WHAT?!*$@#%%?!  IT'S GOING TO BE HOW MUCH?!  I thanked him for his time, fishtailed it out of the parking lot and headed straight to Home Depot.  Both the wall sconces and sink fixtures were finds at Home Depot... and about half the price!  And honestly, the quality is quite impressive.

The frameless shower is my most favorite part of this bathroom remodel.  We also added two skylights to really pull in the natural light.  It's a great way to start your day gazing at the California blue skies while washing paint out of your hair from 2 days ago cuz that was the last time you showered.  For finishes, we chose a basic white subway tile and a carrera marble hexagonal and pencil piece detail treatment.

To save on space we had a pocket door installed with etched glass to allow the natural light to pass through into the master bedroom and to allow for privacy.  

These wall hooks were purchased at HomeGoods for $9.99 each!

In an effort to utilize every square inch of space, we had a custom cabinet built into the eave of the roof.    It's the perfect amount of space for clean towels, facecloths and 3 curling irons, 2 hairdryers, 2 flats irons, 72 round brushes... the list goes on.  And pull out hamper drawers - one side for lights, one side for darks!

And here we go.  Before and AFTER!!!  

Crazy before and after shots, right?!  I still need to add some personal touches like maybe a water color over the toilet and some bath mats under the sinks to keep our toes cozy while brushing our teeth.  I'm also thinking of picking up some natural weave baskets under the vanity for hidden storage.  All in good time - I'll be sure to keep you posted.

Hope you enjoyed the tour - have a great week!

Sharing with these fab blogs....
The Dedicated House * i should be mopping the floor * Lines Across * The Girl Creative * The Shabby Chic Cottage * Somewhat Simple * House of Hepworths * The Shabby Nest * Craftberry Bush * Carolyns Homework * Two Yellow Birds Decor * Serenity Now * Give Me the Goods Monday


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Blissfully Excited

I'm blissfully excited to be featured on Bliss at Home today!  Every Tuesday Kristin features a new blogger to her readers and this week she chose a Lo and Behold Life.  How exciting!

Bliss at Home
You can check it out here.  And while you're at it, check out some of her amazing DIYs.  Like these decorative boxes she made for just $3!  I want one.

Thanks, Kristin, for the thoughtful feature post.


Monday, March 11, 2013

Special Visitor

I can hardly contain my excitement!  One of my dearest and most favorite girlfriends is flying in from chilly and snowy Boston tomorrow afternoon.  She's here for a few short days but we'll manage to pack in tons of fun.   Even better, I'll be able to celebrate my birthday with my bestie!  I'll be turning thirty-six twenty-nine for the 8th time on Wednesday.  The wine closet is stocked and I'm ready to laugh with Kara till our stomachs hurt.  

In preparation for a few visitors this Spring, we recently moved the guest bedroom into the old TV Den freeing up the old guest room for an office/playroom.  Both rooms are far from complete since most of my decorating attention has been focused on the master renovation.  But I figured I'd share the guest room in it's current state.  

The list of "To-Do's" for this room is quite lengthy.  To name a few - paint walls a creamy coffee color, re-finish end tables, add headboard,  add fabric window treatments, style with new accessories...  a list like this gives my husband heart palpitations.

I'd love to attempt a DIY upholstered headboard.  My girl Jennifer over at The Chronicles of Home has mad skills in the furniture making department - check out this headboard she made using a quilt!  Her amazing DIY projects are endless - she's so talented!

The Chronicles of Home

A nice feature of moving the guest room to this location is the direct access to the downstairs bathroom and a good sized walk-in closet with plenty of storage room for our guests to unpack and hide away bulky suitcases.  I also have a few plans for the closet - the "To-Do's" are on The List!

This is the adjoining bathroom.  

And a few special Spring touches for our guests.  A potted yellow Hyacinth and a Honeysuckle candle from Anthropology (an early birthday gift from my brother and SIL).   This candle embodies the scent of Spring - so florally, fresh and clean.

Well, I'm off to get a few more things ready for Kara's visit.  Hope you enjoyed the tour!

Friday, March 8, 2013

On a Lighter Note

Ok... let's talk lighting.  I mentioned earlier this week that I am on the hunt for an elegant wall sconce for the new master bedroom closet.  So far the only one I'm digging is this Antique Silver Leaf Wrought Iron bath bar.  But I'll tell ya what I'm NOT digging...  the price.  Almost $500 for this bad boy.  

Am I crazy or is that way too much to spend on a light... that will go in a closet none the less.  Or  is this what lighting costs these days?  I'm looking to you, my loyal and amazing readers to help me out.  Anyone know of some great discount lighting wholesalers?  In the infamous words of Maverick, "Talk to me Goose..."

To recap, this is the spot in question.  The ceiling is on a slant so head room is limited.  A flush wall mounted sconce will most likely work best.

Shades of Light has some decent options like this Jonathan Adler grid wall sconce.  The only question is can it be mounted to the wall horizontally instead of vertically.  And honestly, this might be a little to modern for my taste.


Another option on Shades of Light is this square wire lattice geo drum sconce.  But there's really nothing special about this one either that I'm in love with.

There's no way the mister will approve of this LED Disco Ball.  But it's super cute, right?!  Not sure it's right for our closet anyway.

Sooooo... help a girl out.  Where are some great places that you've scored some amazing lighting for reasonable prices?


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Mini Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

What's better than a delicious breakfast muffin?  How about a low calorie one!  What's not to love? It was my turn this week to bring the ladies a snack to our support group play group.  We usually try to keep it on the healthy side so I decided to test  out this recipe from my Cook Yourself Thin cookbook.  A low fat/low calorie muffin can sometimes taste like cardboard but this tasty treat met the approval of all the ladies.  

This recipe makes having a breakfast muffin (which is basically a fancy word for cake) guilt-free.  A hint of banana paired with Nestle's Dark Chocolate Chips are the perfect combo for this hearty muffin to start your day.  And substituting heavy cream with low-fat buttermilk keeps the fat and calories in check.  I'd have to say overall these mini muffins were a crowd pleaser.  I'm sure it didn't hurt that I added some extra chocolate chips... shhhhhh.  

Makes 24 Mini Muffins
100 calories

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 ripe banana, mashed
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large organic eggs
1 1/4 cup reduced fat buttermilk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons dark chocolate chips

How to...
1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line a 24-muffin tray with paper liners. Set aside

2) In a standing mixer, combine the all-purpose flour, wheat flour, rolled oats, ground cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and mashed banana and blend on low speed for 2 minutes.  Add walnuts, brown sugar, vegetable oil, eggs, and reduced fat buttermilk and blend for 2 minutes on medium speed.  Add the vanilla extract and mix until well combined.

3) Using an ice cream scoop, portion the batter evenly into the muffin tin and top each muffin with 3 to 4 chocolate chips.  Bake at 375 degrees for 11 minutes.  Once they are baked through, remove them from the oven and let cool on rack.

Click here for printable recipe

  Even my boys gobbled them up!
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