Monday, November 30, 2015

cyber monday and black friday with marleylilly

I almost forgot it was cyber monday! I'm not sure I'll find time to do major damage today, maybe after work. I also need to stop by the mall to pick up an angel kid from the salvation army angel tree, one of my favorite traditions.

if you are cyber shopping today, check out marleylilly for this gorgeous statement necklace, free with any $50 purchase. I can't wait to wear this necklace with my holiday party dresses!

meatless monday: eggplant meatball subs

for my second vegan dish from but I could never go vegan cookbook, I chose the eggplant meatball subs. I tried to start out with more filling choices so that stephen would see he wasn't going to go hungry if I toned down or eliminated meat in our dinners. mission accomplished with these babies!

disclaimer, this recipe did take every bit of one to one and half hours to prepare and I couldn't make this on a weekly basis - but they were extremely good, especially with the chunky tomato sauce. this recipe would be a great sunday dinner, served alongside some crispy homemade fries and sweet potato fries. did I mention this was my first time cooking with eggplant? I love the novelty of trying new things, even if it's just preparing a new type of vegetable. it's pretty amazing how close these eggplant balls resemble meatballs, the consistency is spot on with the help of the amaranth.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

small business saturday on the beltline

my sister and I spent small business saturday walking the beltline, mostly because we needed to work off holiday meals and also because we had stashed our credit cards in our yoga pants. we stopped at ponce city market, which has a mix of large retailers including anthro, williams sonoma, and west elm - but also is home to lots of small business restaurants. we grabbed an iced coffee at spiller park and walked around a bit more before having lunch at bellina. their funghi panini is to die for if you like mushrooms. mmmm.

after exhausting ponce city market, we headed back home and stopped at paris on ponce. I've always wanted to check it out and finally got the chance. we checked out all the vendors and I picked up a little air plant terrarium because why not?

Saturday, November 28, 2015

thanksgiving tablescape

if you read the november issue of southern living, you saw the flower arrangements using pears... which I decided that I would recreate this year. I bought the pears and told stephen he couldn't eat them at least ten times. of course, thanksgiving rolled around and I went my more traditional route and nixed the pears. sorry, stephen, you can eat them now.

this year, I found gorgeous light green hydrangeas with splashes of purple from [who would've thought] kroger. I've never seen a hydrangea like these, so unique and beautiful. I also found some gorgeous purple carnation-type blooms and red berries to mix in. my mom picked up some new glittery champagne colored chargers and taper candles to go with her silver lenox china. the combination was gorgeous!

Friday, November 27, 2015

our thanksgiving menu

while everyone is posting black friday deals, I'm still talking about food! I'm not a huge fan of turkey and luckily for me, my family knows how to whip up some awesome sides and desserts. the best part about today? I went to a workout studio but didn't actually get a work out in. pure barre kennesaw is coming soon!

here's what we noshed on yesterday...

apple cider sangria (recipe coming soon!)
baked brie with cranberry sauce
cranberry sauce
brown sugar glazed carrots
twice baked potatoes with cheese and bacon
III forks' creamed corn
green bean casserole
macaroni and cheese
pumpkin cheesecake
chocolate chess pie
southern living's red velvet thumbprints

Thursday, November 26, 2015

happy thanksgiving from my family to yours

thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, it is truly a day to spend with family and friends [food and football] celebrating all of the reasons for which we are thankful.

I am always thankful every day, and this thanksgiving, it seems I am even extra thankful. this year, the big change for me was starting a new job and I could not have made a better decision. I had no idea what to expect and my willingness to take the plunge paid off in countless ways. allow thanksgiving to be a time of reflection - perhaps you want to make a change. get those ideas flowing and by new year's, make your plan for 2016! it's your life - make it the best you absolutely can, fill it with all the people you love and things you genuinely want to do.

from my family to yours, happy thanksgiving. thank you for reading my little blog, I'll leave you with a sneak peek of our christmas cards!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

sweet potato casserole

I'm so happy to share this recipe with you guys! as simple as this recipe may be, this sweet potato casserole marks the beginning of my own family traditions to come. perhaps sweet potato casserole is already a staple in your family's holiday lineup, but as for me, we never had sweet potatoes growing up. as I got older, I was definitely aware of the normalcy of sweet potatoes for the holidays and looked on fondly from the sidelines but still didn't partake in sweet potato festivities personally.

fast forward to a thanksgiving potluck in 2011 at engauge, a marketing agency I spent some time working with during grad school. this was not your average potluck since our office basically had a fully functional kitchen with ovens. [awesome for spontaneous cookie baking, not awesome for anything to do with fish]. one of my coworkers made this sweet potato casserole and it was then that I had my very first bite. ever since that fateful day, I've been hooked. every year, I make them for thanksgiving and I like to think that each year, I force my family members to slowly like sweet potatoes more and more. the recipe makes a 9x11 casserole dish, which is always way more than enough for my family. even though I could probably half the recipe, I end up making the full amount and of course - sadly - throwing half of the casserole away after thanksgiving.

this year, I baked half in a glass pie plate to take to my parents' and the other half in a portable, metal 8x8 pan to give to my coworker. his family just moved down to georgia from new jersey this year and it will be the first time he won't be with his parents and relatives for turkey day. when I heard that, I just knew the other half of these delicious sweet potatoes had found a loving and worthy home!

Monday, November 23, 2015

meatless monday: sweet potato and bean quesadillas

I'm aware this may not be the most appetizing shot of quesadillas ever created, but to be honest, I couldn't wait to eat these! I had been waiting all week to make these sweet potato and bean quesadillas and stephen came home pretty late from work so I snapped one picture and we dug in. 

I love this recipe for so many reasons. first, these quesadillas require 4-5 ingredients, that's it. second, they are ready very quickly once you get your sweet potatoes cooked. and third, this recipe makes a ton which means ample lunch leftovers. the cumin in the sweet potatoes really takes the flavor up a notch. sweet potatoes are so often used to make desserts around this time of year, and I happen to really like the spicy contrast in these quesadillas. sweet potatoes are so versatile and satisfying.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

gift guide: the monogrammed necklace

as you may know, I guest blog over at marleylilly's the monogrammed life as part of a panel of bloggers with a shared love of monograms! grab a cup of joe and jump on over to the monogrammed life to check out the blog and the other bloggers on the panel, definitely a fun way to spend your sunday morning. 

so the holidays are quickly approaching and the gals at marleylilly gifted me a gorgeous pearly white and gold monogrammed necklacesometimes it's hard to tell from photos how a piece in white will turn out, will it be too translucent or too stark? luckily, the pearl white in this necklace turned out to be totally elevated and subtly shiny. the monogram is nice and thick - the perfect balance of dainty yet substantial. 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

my 5 favorite shippable treats

if you find yourself looking for a yummy holiday treat to ship in the mail this season, whether it's for work colleagues or in-laws - these goodies are sure to impress. I've personally enjoyed each of these treats (painstaking hard work) and many of these options are totally budget friendly.

1. racine danish kringle, so many different flavors from fruity choices to pecan turtle and more, $30.

2. traditional fruitcake from texas' collin street bakery, $30-$80.

3. chicago's savory lou malnati's deep dish pizza, 2 pies for $60.

4. southern delicacies from savannah's riverstreet southern sweets, pecans to pralines and bear claws.

5. cheryl's frosted cookies, the best frosted cookies on the planet plus festive flavors and themes for gifting.

have you shipped treats in the mail, for personal or corporate gifts - what are your favorites?

Friday, November 20, 2015

s'mores cookie squares

I've been craving s'mores ever since our north georgia mountain weekend trip. we had the best time, staying at an adorable b&b, visiting natural waterfalls, drinking wine on a vineyard patio, watching the stars from the hot tub... the one thing we didn't do was make s'mores. I even brought all the necessary supplies, and they stayed in my trunk the whole weekend. we stayed busy the whole trip and never found an accessible open fire, so I let the dream of s'mores go...

...until now. I scoured the interwebs until I found a recipe that sounded more like s'mores and less like cookies, because I really wanted that s'mores graham cracker-y crunch. the recipe called for mini marshmallows, but you know I'm not going to waste the jumbo marshmallows I already had, so I just ripped them into fourths by hand and it worked perfectly. so if you too have s'mores on your fall bucket list and don't think it's going to happen, here's your alternative! and by the way, these were to die for.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

thanksgiving china picks

confession: I am obsessed with formal china. I may be one of the few girls left who feel this way but I seriously want to one day own approximately 10-ish sets that I can mix and match, throw dinner parties, and make tablescapes like a crazy woman. my mom even gave me some beautiful mix and match china for my last birthday, so you know I'm serious here.

lately I have been lusting over fall and holiday china. don't even get me started on tartan print christmas china. come to think of it, I believe my recent infatuation started with an impromptu trip to anthropologie, the dining sets and serving plates are spot on right now. these gorgeous fall sets are on my wish list, just as soon as I get more cabinet space!

Monday, November 16, 2015

meatless monday: mushroom stroganoff

growing up, my sister loved beef stroganoff and this recipe makes me think of her. I never really got into beef stroganoff and I suppose it was probably due to the beef. so when I started searching for meatless dinners and came across a mushroom version, I was sold. I love mushrooms.

it was a rainy, dreary fall day and I think everyone in the office wanted to be at home in bed all day, especially on a monday. I was planning to make something different for dinner but stephen said he was in the mood for pasta, comfort food to cope for the beginning of the week. I used slightly more noodles than the recipe calls for and we had enough for seconds for stephen and lunch leftovers for me. unlike some of the other dishes I've made lately, this meal was ready in about 30 minutes which is weeknight perfection. I think I'll add a dose of sriracha when I reheat mine to kick it up a notch.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

holiday appetizer: cowboy caviar

a few months ago, my friend jen requested this recipe on the blog - so jen, this post is for you! wish you were closer so we could gobble this dip up together with a glass of wine.

with the holidays around the corner, it's nice to have a quick, unique, and delicious appetizer recipe up your sleeve. sometimes appetizers sort of blend together, I think we've all been to parties with upwards of five different cheese dips. I'm not complaining because obviously I love cheese - but this appetizer sets itself apart, no worries of blending in here.

it's simple and delicious but also upscale and sophisticated [olives = sophisticated, right?]. oh and by the way, there are lots of recipes out there called cowboy caviar and they are very different from this one. given that I'm from texas, I can claim this as the real cowboy caviar! so go ahead, give it a try at your next cocktail party or holiday potluck. PS. another tip for holidays parties - I always stock up on serving platters from the dollar store like the one pictured below. that way, I can bring dishes to parties and not worry about getting them back.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

5 things to do in college station, texas

stephen and I went to college station, home of texas a&m, last weekend to watch the a&m vs. auburn game. we love our SEC rivalry. last year, I enjoyed beating auburn at home and this year, he loved beating a&m at home. one of us has to lose, but it's definitely fun either way.

it was stephen's first time to college station and he was so excited to check out the newly redeveloped kyle field, the fourth largest stadium in college football. I have to say it was quite breathtaking. college station is a pretty large college town so if you find yourself in aggieland - be sure to check out my top 5 things to do! 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

merry mailbox season

growing up, I loved opening all of my parents' holiday cards. in most cases, I didn't even know who the cards were from but I always enjoyed ripping through the envelopes to check out the photo cards and well wishes. one year, I organized all the cards in a little brown wicker basket and placed it on an end table in the living room. the next year, I hole punched the corners and put all the cards on a key ring for easier flipping. I wanted all the cards to be preserved through the holidays, didn't everyone want to peruse the cards like I did?! luckily I'm not a hoarder and the cards got recycled after new years. I still have a special place in my heart for snail mail holiday cards, even though I receive no where near the amount of cards my parents did. I don't need a filing system as they all fit nicely on my pin board and on my fridge. 

ever since college, I've sent my own holiday cards to my friends every year. we all live so far away and I think it's a genuinely nice gesture. I usually buy pretty cards and write a message inside but this year, I jumped on the photo card bandwagon. here are a few of my picks from, and yes, I ordered one of the cards below... just in case you enjoy the suspense of opening holiday cards like I do, I won't ruin it for you here. merry mailbox season, everyone!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

warby parker atlanta visit

warby parker has been around for a few years now and while I've wanted to check them out, I have been clinging to my $800 glasses from a few years ago before WP existed. I rarely wear glasses since my prescription is pretty bad and I'm just not in the habit of buying new glasses as they are normally so pricey. 

it just so happened that my mom needed some new glasses and I suggested warby parker. I had some extra money in my FSA and the reasonable prices at WP definitely have had me tempted... I offered to go with her knowing that I may find a pair of my own too. both of us ended up finding the perfect pair, and not surprisingly, they look pretty similar. like mother like daughter.

Friday, November 6, 2015

georgia apple bread

a few years ago, I had this amazing apple bread from a b&b in the north georgia mountains called glen ella springs. I had never tasted apple bread before and it was amazingly delicious. so when we went to the mountains a few weekends ago, I picked up some tart granny smith apples from an orchard with the intention of making this bread. we happened to have a halloween party at work and it was the perfect time to bring the apple bread. the recipe makes two full servings, so I was able to bring the second cake to another halloween party with friends that weekend.

you may not have noticed but I have made a lot of domestic progress lately, feats include: chopping my first onion, buying a food processor, and cooking with new ingredients such as eggplant and chickpeas. this recipe requires a bundt pan, especially if you want to serve it unsliced, which looks more beautiful than slicing. in order to make this happen, I not only used my food processor but also had to invest in a gorgeous nordic ware bundt pan. big things happening in my kitchen! 

ok, back to the apple bread. I sliced it and brought it to work as pictured below. by the end of the day, there were maybe four slices left. I'd call that a workplace win! if you're looking for something festive and different than pumpkin, go ahead and give this apple bread a go.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

5 things you must do in the north georgia mountains

the north georgia mountains are a short hour and a half drive away from atlanta and will for sure be an annual trip for us going forward! one tip - don't go during the apple festival weekends. we unknowingly planned our trip during that weekend and while we were extremely lucky and were always going the opposite direction of traffic, there were so many people trying to pick pumpkins and apples with jampacked roads! in my opinion, a trip to the mountains just isn't the same with a million of your closest atlanta neighbors.

you can experience so much during a weekend in north georgia, especially if you're willing to drive a bit between towns! so without further ado... 5 things you must do in the north georgia mountains!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

gift guide: the monogrammed scarf

it's definitely getting cooler here in georgia, hopefully the weather is starting to hit that sweet spot wherever you are too! breezy temps, leaves falling, light jackets... but not actually cold. at least, that's how I like my weather. 

the gals at marleylilly sent over a super soft, monogrammed scarf to wear as temps get cooler and we move closer to winter. as you may know, I guest blog over at marleylilly's the monogrammed life as part of a panel of bloggers with a shared love of monograms! 

obviously, I love this scarf for myself since it's black and white and I've never not loved anything black and white - but how perfect is this monogrammed marleylilly scarf for holiday gifting! it's officially november, which means holiday shopping has commenced... there are almost 70 solids and prints to choose from, plus 8 different monogram font choices, and over 30 thread color options. all of these choices add up to one gorgeous, personalized gift.

Monday, November 2, 2015

meatless monday: chickpea sloppy joes

when I get my head stuck on something, I want it like yesterday. my sense of urgency and lack of patience come together with a bang! recently I decided I needed a vegetarian cookbook, went to the bookstore [thank god those still exist] and came out with a vegan cookbook. I don't know how it happened but I only had a few minutes and this vegan cookbook but I could never go vegan caught my eye. 

I know what you're thinking... I just posted a chicken noodle soup recipe, sausage ball recipe, yea yea I hear you. I've been more of a flexetarian since I rarely eat red meat and typically default to cheesy alternatives, a vegan book was a big step. while I doubt I'll be 100% vegan from here on out, I will definitely add more vegetarian meals to the blog going forward!

I chose this chickpea sloppy joe recipe for my first foray into veganism. the best part was that I really didn't need to buy any specialty items, just some extra spices and pure maple syrup. this dish is totally man approved and reheat approved, I paired it with a half of a baked potato for lunch leftovers.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

cartecay vineyards

on our saturday in the north georgia mountains, we first ventured out to amicalola falls - the largest cascading falls east of the mississippi. we were in for a long, strenuous hike and afterward, we were ready to wind down. we headed straight to cartecay vineyards for a wine tasting, cheese plate, and outdoor live music.

we had planned to visit at least one more winery that afternoon, but as it turns out, we ended up staying at cartecay, drinking our bottle of chimney red wine and snacking on cheese, crackers, jalapeno jam, and sausage. it was the best saturday we've had in a long time!