Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Spiced Coffee

How come the very first sip of coffee in the morning always tastes better than the rest!? I have yet to figure it out but when I do, I will let you all know. Some people say coffee is an addiction, but I like to refer to it as a habit. I enjoy my morning cups and look forward to them before my head hits the pillow each night. I'm probably addicted to the caffeine but I truly love the taste, smell and routine of drinking it when I wake up. It tastes even better when I wake up before everyone else and have a few moments of quiet to myself. 

This is hardly a recipe, but it's too good of a coffee tip not to share. Mark and I have been enjoying our morning cup(s) like this for a long time now and we LOVE it. We like our coffee strong around here and rarely, if ever, buy flavored beans. BUT, we have found that sprinkling a little pumpkin pie spice, or even cinnamon, gives the coffee just enough flavor without being overbearing.Just a few shakes and your morning just got a little more festive. A little goes a long way, but if you want it stronger, just keep shaking that spice jar! I keep an extra jar of pumpkin pie spice on the shelf with our coffee mugs for easy access. 

Additionally, our very favorite coffee is still Cafe Bustelo. We have tried everything on the coffee shelf from expensive to super cheap, and Bustelo still wins, time after time. It's bold, smooth and not bitter at all. AND is right at $5 for a can! You cannot beat it. Our other top grocery store brands are Lavazza and Peets! 

Enjoy your morning with a little extra spice! 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

As far as I'm concerned, pumpkin spice doesn't end at Thanksgiving. It carries well into the holiday season and as far as I'm concerned, pumpkin treats aren't going anywhere anytime soon.

I'm completely obsessed with these cookies. Snickerdoodles are my very favorite and this is a fun and festive twist for this time of year. I can't get enough and this recipe never disappoints. They are fluffy but chewy and spicy in all of the best ways. Pumpkin seems to add an extra softness to anything it touches and these cookies are pillows of perfection. 

There are so many holiday get togethers and cookie exchanges coming up- these cookies are a must add to your list! This recipe makes a ton- double up and you'll be set for a slew of Christmas events! 

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles
recipe adapted from Cooking Classy

3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3.5 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 + 1/8 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree 
1.5 tsp. vanilla extract

for rolling:
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1.5 tsp. ground cinnamon

In a mixing bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients (flour, cornstarch, cream of tartar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice). 

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer using the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar, occasionally scraping down the bowl. mix in the egg yolk, then mix in the pumpkin and vanilla extract. With the mixer set on low speed, slowly mix in the dry ingredients until combined, scraping down the bowl occasionally. divide the dough in half and place the dough in bowls in the refrigerator, covered in plastic wrap, for at least 45 minutes, up to overnight. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar and cinnamon. Scoop the dough out into even 2 Tablespoons. Roll into a ball and coat with cinnamon sugar mixture. Transfer to a nonstick baking sheet, about two inches apart. (I did 6 cookies per baking sheet). Bake for 12-14 minutes. I found that 13 minutes is the perfect amount for a soft and chewy center! Cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a cooling rack.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Friday Faves: Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is less than one week away. What!? It doesn't seem possible, but here we are. Will and Kate have been SO MUCH FUN lately. I can't help but think back to this time last year when I was seriously sleep deprived and just barely hanging on. Last year's holiday season, while special as a new family of four, was a total blur. I'm thankful to be able to spend my favorite time of year much more fresh and rested! 

The weekend before Thanksgiving always seems to kick off the holiday season for me- I just love it! I have my holiday magazines in front of me and am flipping through all of the recipes. SO MUCH FOOD. In case you're still in need of some inspiration, I rounded up some of my favorites and some things that I want to try! 

Give me ALL THE BAKED BRIE. This recipe is a favorite and a staple for the holidays with my family.

This cleaned up version of green bean casserole is SO GOOD. A little more time consuming, but totally worth it. The caramelized shallots on top are everything.

If mashed potatoes aren't your thing, these hasselback potatoes look delicious.

I like pumpkin pie but I LOVE pumpkin roll. I would choose it 100 times over pie. This original recipe from Libby's is the very best!

Apple Cider Margaritas. Another tried and true favorite here and because every holiday needs a festive signature drink.

Frisee salad with walnut, cranberries and blue cheese. A perfect bite to start with.

I could get excited about these biscuits

Here's a great Thanksgiving roundup on Cooking Light! Tons of recipes! My favorite go-to. 

And the mothership, Southern Living. There are literally hundreds of recipes for the holidays archived on their site! 

And, not food related, but here are some fun ways to decorate with pumpkins! I love the gold dipped mini pumpkins as place settings. It would be especially pretty with a white pumpkin! 

Enjoy the pre-holiday weekend! It's one of my favorites of the year!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

DIY Photo + Washi Thank You Notes

This quick little DIY is almost too silly to even post directions, but I love the way they turned out! I'm a big fan of handwritten notes and I hope to pass the love and the skill down to my kids. My mom always made us practice our handwriting and we always had to send a thank you notes after birthdays, holidays and anytime we received a gift or something special. It seemed so silly at the time but I'm grateful she taught us these things at a young age.

I snapped this sweet picture of my birthday girl on her special day and knew that I wanted to use it for her thank you notes. I simply pulled up the photo in my Beautiful Mess app and added the text. After I saved it to my phone, I uploaded it to my Shutterfly app, selected my prints and clicked to order! 

For the notes, I just used some blank notecards that I had on hand. I stuck two pieces of gold glitter washi tape from Paper Source on opposing corners. SO EASY and SO CUTE! 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Toasted Mushroom + Pea Farro

We had the coziest weekend. I'm a blue skies and sunshine lover, but Sunday was cloudy and kind of dreary and I kind of loved it. We relaxed, played outside and I started to get the little tickle in my stomach of excitement that the holidays are coming! 

When the weather cools off, it's so hard to stay on track with healthy eating because the coziest foods are often the ones that aren't the best for you. All I wanted was a giant bowl of homemade pasta with roasted, earthy flavored mushrooms and a giant pile of freshly grated parm on top. BUT! I came up with this quick and easy farro recipe that totally satisfied that pasta craving, but wasn't quite as bad for us! I also keep quinoa and farro on hand for this very reason. They are healthier grains that we don't feel bad about eating from time to time! 

We LOVE farro. I actually prefer it to quinoa as it's nuttier and can stand up to more flavor. I loaded this farro with mushrooms, peas, shallots and a big healthy dose of herbs de provence. This is one of my favorite spice blends and one that I always keep in my cabinet. Trader Joe's sells a giant glass container that's around $5 and pretty enough to leave on your countertop by the olive oil. I put that stuff on everything. I call the mushrooms and peas toasted instead of roasted because it sounds more fun, but really, I just sauteed them until nice and golden in a saute pan on my stove. 


Toasted Mushroom + Pea Farro

1 cup Farro, cooked per instructions on package
1 cup baby bella mushrooms, chopped
1 cup frozen peas
1 large shallot, roughly chopped
1 Tbsp. herbs de provence
olive oil 

Cook Farro according to instructions on the package. Set aside.

Coat the bottom of a saute pan with olive oil and heat on medium heat. Add the shallots and mushrooms and cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. When they become soft and fragrant, add the peas. Saute for another 5-7 minutes, or until mushrooms and shallots are nice and golden and the peas are soft and toasted. 

When the mushroom and pea mixture is done, toss with the Farro. Add herbs de provence, a healthy drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Kate's Nursery

Now that she's a year old, it's about time I share pictures of Miss Kate's nursery, right!? It's too pretty not to share! Her room just makes me SO HAPPY

I will admit, I had been dreaming of a baby girl nursery far before we ever knew that Kate was on the way. I eyed this wallpaper a few years ago and KNEW that if I ever had a girl, this would be on the must have list and would be the starting point to the room.

 My original inspiration came from one of my favorite local bloggers! (HERE

Fast forward to June of 2015 when we found out that Kate was, in fact, Kate, my wallpaper dreams were about to come true! The original wall from Will's baby days was a painted vertical stripe. My mom was my wallpaper guru and spent the better part of an entire day hanging it. It was a labor of love and soooo worth it. I remember when it was done thinking it was even more beautiful than I thought it would be! 

Because we didn't find out what Will was, so much of his nursery was white and bright and neutral. I was able to use all of the furniture and bedding, as it all worked beautifully with the wallpaper and, frankly, it was just crazy to buy everything new again. We simply moved Will into a big boy room and transformed the nursery for the little princess. 

Here is a little flashback to the nursery when Will came home:

Although a little time consuming, the wallpaper was a simple change that totally transformed the entire look of room! 

I swapped out the artwork over the changing table, dresser and added a few more feminine touches. The circular mirror medallions were actually hanging in our house when we lived in Illinois and I'm so glad that I hung onto them! I painted them white and knew they would be the perfect addition. I still find myself adding small details here and there as I find things. I like to decorate with meaning and sometimes it takes a little extra time to find something that you love vs. just buying something because you have to fill the space or because the colors match.

So much planning and prepping goes into the rooms of these tiny humans and I can't help but get all warm and fuzzy when I think back to a little over a year ago when she was still cozy in my belly. 

I carefully got everything ready, making sure it was perfect for her the day she came home. It's a crazy feeling getting ready to meet someone that you already love so, so much. I've spent hours upon hours in that chair, rocking both of my babies, and it's still my favorite spot in the house.

The sweetest little space for my sweetest girl! 


Crib (Pottery Barn Kids Catalina 3-1 crib in simply white)
Wallpaper (Anthropologie)
Glider (Enchanted by Little Castle at Wal Mart, beige stripe)
Nightstand (Pottery Barn Outlet, purchased several years ago)
Dresser (Haverty's)
Unicorn (Pillowfort for Target)
Pom Pom Bin (Pehr Designs)
Hanging bookshelf (Pottery Barn Kids)
Monogram (Etsy, A Charmed Nest)

*Some photos above taken by Jim Trice Photography.