Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Yep, I posed with my pie. Yep, I'm a cheeseball.

Boy, oh boy, am I full! I feel like all I did this past weekend was consume mass amounts of calories. With a little shopping thrown in for good measure. Though, I avoided the mall on Black Friday and wasn't very successful in my gift-finding mission Saturday or Sunday, mostly because I was unprepared and didn't know what I wanted to buy anybody. But back to the food...

Like I said, the title of this post would most accurately describe the way I felt this past weekend: stuffed. You know the holidays are here when you see the circumference of your waist rapidly start to expand, right? Well, the overindulgence all started with a Thanksgiving feast on Thursday. Just check out this spread:

Turkey? Check.
Stuffing? Check.
Green bean casserole? Check. (Mixed veggies for my dad. The guy doesn't like green bean casserole. How can that be!?)
Chive mashed potatoes and gravy? Double check.
Buttery cloverleaf rolls? Mmm, check.
Sweet potato casserole with pecans? Oh-how-I-wish-we-still-had-leftovers check.

And don't forget the obligatory cranberry sauce and plate of olives and pickles. Or the wine. Pinot grigio for me, of course.

As you can tell by my plate, there was nothing on the table I didn't like. Though, I'm proud to say that you can actually still see some of my plate. Some years I fill every square inch and run out of room, piling this on top of that! This year I tried to practice restraint.

Just looking at these photos is seriously making me wish we still had leftovers. I would kill for some of that stuffing right about now! So so good.

Anyway, later came pie. Lots and lots of pie. Per usual, my mom went a tad overboard...

My mom baked apple, pumpkin, pecan and mincemeat pies. She is crazy, no? Mind you, we only had four people at our dinner table. Even still, I upped the insanity when I decided I just had to contribute something to Thanksgiving dinner. Given the fact that this was a very last minute decision-- as in 10 o'clock on Thursday morning-- dessert seemed like the easiest route to go.

More specifically, that Nantucket Cranberry Pie that I told you about the other day.

Luckily, it was so easy to make that when I dashed off to the store Thanksgiving Day all I had to grab was a bag of cranberries and some almond extract. Everything else I needed we already had in the pantry!

The teaspoon of almond extract called for in the recipe perfumed the whole batter with a nutty, sweet fragrance that reminded me of my mom’s favorite candy: marzipan. I couldn’t even help myself from using my fingers to help “clean” the bowl, it was that good. When I put my creation in the oven, I had high hopes. And I am happy to say it didn't disappoint!  

Even with all the sugar, the cranberries retained their tartness, making for a kind of sweet and sour dessert. The chopped pecans added a lovely crunch and served as a nice counterpoint to the berries-- most of which burst but some hold outs stayed whole, giving the "pie" a rustic texture. I put "pie" in quotations because it doesn't have a bottom. It's more like a cobbler, I would say, with the fruit on the bottom and crust on top. But, when baked in a circle and cut into wedges, I think it definitely passes as pie. Speaking of crust, the top of the pie--which is made from a thick batter that you pour out in ribbons-- I would liken to a sugar cookie. It was golden and crisp on top but still moist and crumbly in the middle. And again, it tasted of almonds.

All around, I'd say my pie was a winner. My mom and dad thought so, too. My brother seemed less convinced. I pestered him to take a bite, which he said was okay, and then he returned his attention to his favorites: pecan and pumpkin. Personally, I was so stuffed from dinner that I only had half a slice on Thanksgiving. But when I heated up a piece the next day, you can be sure I ate every last bite.

Vanilla ice cream was the perfect complement to this tangy pie!

So, are you still feeling stuffed from Thanksgiving? Did your dinner table look like mine, with all the typical Turkey Day trimmings, or did your family and friends nosh on different dishes? I'd love to hear! (Though I'll make sure I'm not hungry when I read your comments!)


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Reasons to be thankful

Happy Thanksgiving, friends! Although today is without a doubt a day of gluttony, it is also a day to give thanks for everything you have. To stop thinking about what you want, what you need and be satisfied--no, overjoyed-- by what you do have, right now. I read a quote earlier that said, "There is always, always, always something to be thankful for." And it's true. Even in the most trying times. Even when you are grinning and bearing it through another dysfunctional family holiday. Even when it seems like things can't get any worse, you can't be any more stressed out, you can't be any more unhappy. If you take a minute to stop and think-- and of course, this requires you to actually do that, to stop and smell the roses, as they say-- you can always find something to be thankful for.

There's the obvious: Just being alive. Having a roof over my head-- one I don't even have to pay for. (Thanks Mom and Dad!) Having food on the table, or at the very least a fast food drive-thru away. Having a job that, while it does push me to the brink of my sanity sometimes, I do love, and it gives me purpose. Being able to pay my bills. My health. (That awful cold is finally gone, hooray!)

There's the people who make life worth living. My family of course. We may bump heads at times, we may get on each other's nerves, but at the end of the day, we love each other. We have seen each other's flaws and yet we still love each other. Nothing's better than that.

And then there's my friends. Where would we be without friends? They make me laugh, are there with a tissue and a hug when I cry, will listen when I need to vent and support me when I share my dreams. Yes, I am very thankful for my friends. (And this includes you!)

I'm thankful for the boy. Our relationship is complicated at times--but really, whose relationship isn't?-- but he is one of my best friends and I'm glad I have him in my life.

And I can't forget Hazel. Oh, how I adore that little fur ball. She brings me such joy. When she greets me at the door, running and jumping and kissing, that monkey can erase even the worst bad day.

Like happiness, I believe gratitude is a choice. It is a way of looking at things. Is the cup half empty or half full? I will admit, it's not always easy to be thankful, and I have been guilty on a couple occasions of complaining too much and being, well, for lack of a better term, an ungrateful brat. But making that choice to acknowledge the day and what comes your way with gratitude is without question the most encouraging, uplifting and fulfilling way to live.

So, about that cup? Today, I say half full.

Images via we heart it: 1, 2, 3 + 4

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Turkey Day is almost here!

Ever since watching The Pioneer Woman, aka Ree Drummond, kick Bobby Flay's butt on "Throwdown" last week (yay!), I have been over at her cooking site constantly, drooling on my laptop just looking at all her delicious-sounding Thanksgiving recipes.

If I had a spacious kitchen of my very own, I would definitely be making the Cornbread Dressing with Sausage and Apples, and for dessert the Nantucket Cranberry Pie and the Pumpkin Cream Pie. Mmmm, they all sound so scrumptious, right? Alas, I live at home, and all my kitchen utensils are still packed in a box, sitting in the garage. And I can assure you that my mom will have so much going on in every corner of our smallish kitchen that there won't be much room for me to add to the frenzy.

Now, while I was rooting for Ree the whole way, I have to give some kudos to Bobby, too. His Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Spicy Caramel Apple Sauce and Vanilla Bean Creme Anglaise looked amazingly moist and decadent, a great way to end a holiday meal. Again, if I had the space (and the sanity-- the recipe is a bit complicated and time-consuming), I would add it to the Turkey Day lineup.

But you never know. Maybe I can carve out a space to cook and bake at least one of those dishes. For some reason this year I have an incredible urge to cook for Thanksgiving. Perhaps it is because I no longer have my own kitchen and I haven't done much in the way of cooking since I moved home.

So tell me, what are you doing for Thanksgiving? Will you be whipping up some dishes in the kitchen? Or are you letting someone else do all the cooking? :)

Whatever you do, wherever you go and whatever you fill your belly with, I hope you have a joyful Thanksgiving!

And as always, I am thankful for you. Thanks for being here,

Photo via we heart it via little reminders of love. Has nothing to do with the post really, but too darn cute not to share!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Fall faves

Thank goodness for the weekend. Lately, each day has seemed impossibly, perpetually long, one stretching into the next, with hardly a chance to catch my breath or get some sleep. And with the end of daylight savings time two weeks ago, nightfall comes sooner, making it seem like there are even less hours in the day to accomplish everything on my to-do list. Not that darkness has ever been a reason to stop my work.


No, only the weekend does that. So yes, thank goodness it is here. It is cold, rainy and completely gloomy outside, but I’m not that concerned. I am enjoying the chance to just stay inside, lie in bed, read a magazine-- just be lazy, you know? And forget, at least for a little while, that all my deadlines are moved up a day because of Thanksgiving.

The other good thing about a day like today is that it actually feels like fall is here. For a while there, the Southern California sun made it feel like summer in September. It wasn’t until around Halloween that the air seemed to change-- the smell of autumn was finally on the wind.

Feeling that brisk breeze, I was reminded of my favorite things about fall…

One of course being that chill in the air. Where I live, it doesn’t snow. And more than that, it doesn’t often get cold enough to button up in a cozy coat. Now, I am a Cali girl and I do love warm days and sun on my skin. I’ve said many times how I disdain the rain. But, I also relished the college semester I spent in Washington, D.C. There from January through May, I got to experience the tail end of an East Coast winter, and I absolutely loved being able to wear my purple peacoat. (In a sea of black coats, I wanted to stand out. There was no question the blonde in the purple coat was from the West Coast!) The boy always gives me a hard time about wearing sweaters on even warm days-- I like to cover my pale arms!-- but now I can pull out all those long sleeves in the back of my closet without hesitation. And I’m thinking I may be in need of a new coat to welcome the season. This red belted plaid version is festive, yes?

Another fall favorite, along the same lines, is layers. Again, it’s not often that I can bundle up so I love how the cool weather makes tights and scarves a necessity. 

But perhaps what I adore even more about fall fashion is the boots. Oh, how I love boots. Over jeans, with textured tights, I think they just make every outfit look effortlessly chic and put together. If fall were an outfit, Taylor Swift’s ensemble would be it.

Another of my fall faves is just as comforting as wrapping yourself in a big blanket or a cable-knit sweater, just in a different way. I’m talking about soup. I’m a big fan of soup but it is simply too hot to eat in August. But lately, it has practically become a food group for me. Our pantry is stocked with cans of Progresso. And just yesterday I treated myself to tomato bisque in a bread bowl. But the best is when my mom has a big pot of homemade soup bubbling on the stove, making the whole house smell delicious. My favorite is her chicken enchilada soup. It’s spicy but simple, creamy but healthy. (The recipe is from a Weight Watchers cookbook, I believe.) And anything with huge chunks of sweet carrots in it, topped with toasted strips of tortillas, is perfection in my book.

My final fall fave would be just about the best thing on a rainy day like today: hot cocoa. When I think of a perfect fall day, I think of leaves turning color outside, of families cranking up fireplaces that have sat idle for months, and of cold hands holding warm mugs of hot chocolate. With an abundance of marshmallows, of course. 

Or a swirl of whip cream. Both are divine. Pick your poison.

Oh, and I can't forget to add specialty Starbucks coffees that only come out at this time of year to the list. Caramel Brulee Latte, anyone? I had my first of the season yesterday and it was just as amazing as I remembered.

However, with all this laying around, snuggling under the covers and eating I plan on doing (let's not forget Thanksgiving is in just a few days!), perhaps I should put hitting up the gym on my list of fall favorites.

Hmmm, maybe later, once the skies clear. For now, I’m content to just stay exactly where I am.

So tell me, what are your fall faves?

Hope you're staying warm and dry,

Friday, November 12, 2010


Yes, I am breaking my silence to post about makeup. I can't help it. As a Sephora "beauty insider," I occasionally get emails that tempt me to whip out my wallet and then practice great restraint when I put it back in my purse, and today's email touting "6 spectacular palettes" was no exception.

I saw this Tarte palette at the top of the lineup and the makeup obsessed girly-girl in me just about died. Just see for yourself.

Called "The Jewelry Box," this limited-edition Tarte palette is packed with 32 new eyeshadows, eight lip glosses, a mineral bronzer, a new shimmering powder, five deluxe long-wearing eyeliners and-- get this-- a detachable necklace.

An impressive beauty stash AND a layered, golden necklace perfect for holiday parties?! Be still my heart.

I want. I need. Ok, I don't need, but I want. 'Nuff said.

This is instantly going on my Christmas list.

Anyone else spied some seriously fantastic beauty finds lately? I'd love to hear. And please tell me someone else's heart flutters at the sight of this palette.

Oh, and happy Friday! :)