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Friday, May 31, 2013

My Style: Emerald Twirls

Top: Forever21 (similar)
Skirt: Collective Concepts (Nordstrom, I got mine at Nordstrom Rack)
Boots: Corso Como (Nordstrom)
Necklace: Forever21

Some skirts you just gotta twirl in, and this is definitely one of them. I can't wait to wear it with some sandals when the weather finally warms up! It has been so dreary lately, and I'm ready for a few days of sunshine. Next week is supposed to be beautiful, yay!

Any Arrested Development fans out there? What do you think of the new season? Tommy and I watched it in two days, and have now started watching it again. Overall I thought it was pretty good, but it did take a while to pick up. I'm definitely liking it much better the second time around. There are so many things that didn't make sense the first time. My favorite episodes were probably the first Tobias episode, and the Lucille episode. Can't wait for the movie! 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Trader Joe's Favorites

Making food is awesome, but sometimes store bought can be just as good (or better!). One of my favorite places to grocery shop is Trader Joe's; they have such a wide assortment of products that you just don't see at a "normal" grocery store at great prices. So today I thought it would be fun to share a few of my favorite things to buy at Trader Joe's. I try to buy something new every time I go, so I'm always finding new favorites!

Trader Joe's Pork Gyoza Pot Stickers: These are an absolute staple for me! They are so tasty, easy to make, and relatively healthy (seven per serving!). Trader Joe's has chicken potstickers as well, but I prefer the pork. I love making these with some green beans or brocoli for lunch. I definitely recommend steaming them, but they are easily made in a saucepan as well.

Trader Joe's Mango & Cream Bars: I just recently bought these for the first time, and if you're a mango fan like me, you've gotta try these! They are cute little frozen treats about the size of a small bar of soap, and they have so much yummy mango flavor with just a bit of creaminess. My only wish is that they had a stick to make eating a little easier, but maybe that just means I need to try making my own...

Trader Joe's White Bean & Basil Hummus: love hummus and Trader Joe's has a bunch of really great options. Their original hummus is good, but my favorite has got to be this white bean & basil. It's really creamy, full of basil flavor and I love the pine nuts on top. Perfect on a cracker with a tomato!

Trader Joe's Bay Blend Coffee: When it comes to coffee, the darker and richer the better. Maybe this preference is a result of living in the Seattle area, but I simply love a full bodied brew. The beans are dark and fairly oily, the aroma is abundant and holds it flavor when paired with cream. Yumm!

What are your favorite products from Trader Joe's? I'm always looking for something new to try!

Monday, May 27, 2013

lazy sunday

Yesterday was a day of drinking lots of coffee, eating curly fries for breakfast, staying in pajamas, watching Arrested Development, Kitchen Nightmares and playing Civ. It was a day of relaxation, making dinner in the slow cooker and enjoying our lack of motivation. Every now and then, you just need those lazy days.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Black Bean & Yam Burgers

Lately I have really been into meatless burgers. This probably has to do with the fact that meatless burgers satisfy my burger craving without the guilt later. Score! Also, meatless burgers still come with french fries and I'm all about those fries.

I ordered two black bean burgers at two different restaurants recently, and was a bit disappointed by both of them. They weren't bad, but I just kept thinking about how much better they could have been! Both were pretty dry and flavorless. So I decided to make my own and they turned out so, so yummy.

Black beans give these burgers texture and substance while the yams add moisture and flavor. Spices are added to give it some heat, with corn and onion adding some depth. Throw on your favorite toppings (avocado is a must), and you have yourself a delicious burger without guilt.

Black Bean & Yam Burgers 
*Recipe makes about 10 patties. Mixture keeps well in the fridge, or make a bunch at once and freeze them!
3 cups cooked and mashed golden yams (approx. 2 yams)
30 oz. black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup diced onion
1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn
2 cloves minced garlic
1 1/2 cups plain bread crumbs
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. sriracha sauce (add more if you like more spice)
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. salt
plenty of fresh ground pepper

1. Chop yams into cubes and boil in a large pot until soft. Mash until smooth.
2.. In a large bowl, mix mashed yams and half of black beans. In a small bowl, mash remaining black beans with a fork and add to yam mixture.
3. Add corn, onions, cilantro, garlic and bread crumbs. Mix until well combined.
4. Add cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper, sriracha sauce, salt. Add fresh ground pepper to taste. Mix until well combined.
5. To cook, form yam mixture into patties. Turn on skillet to medium heat and add a few drops of olive oil. Place patties on skillet, and let cook for about 5 minutes on first side, press down with spatula slightly and allow to cook for another couple minutes. Flip and cook for approximately 5 minutes. Both sides should be a nice golden brown and be a bit crispy.
6. Assemble burger to your liking and enjoy!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Portland Japanese Gardens

One of the highlights of our mini vacation to Portland was visiting the Japanese Gardens. Situated just a few minutes outside downtown, the gardens feature five and a half acres of lovely plants, waterfalls and pathways. It was a really peaceful place to visit and was the perfect way to end a day of exploring downtown.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

the dream of the 90's

Dress: Mystree (consigned) 
Necklace: Francesca's 
Belt: Delia*s
Sandals: Franco Sarto (TJ Maxx) 

Tommy and I got back yesterday from a short trip to Portland. It was a lot of fun to explore a new city, eat some new food and visit some friends. Highlights included the Japanese Gardens, Salt & Straw ice cream (we ate it twice!), bringing a huge box of Voodoo donuts home, and visiting a few breweries. 

I wore this on our first day in Portland which we spent visiting our hotel bar, eating dinner at Deschutes Brewery, walking around downtown, visiting Powell's Books and eating a pint of Salt & Straw ice cream in our hotel bathrobes while watching Game of Thrones. It was perfect after a long day of driving. 

Usually when taking trips I have to pack about five more outfit options than I really need. I just hate being limited! I mean, what if I spill something on my shirt, or it starts pouring and I have no boots? But then if I bring boots, I need jeans for boots, socks, and probably a sweater cause it's raining. See what I mean? Serious first world problems. Anyway, I was pretty proud of myself because I planned my outfits ahead of time and only brought an overnight bag (that was so full I couldn't zip it...but still!).

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Dala Horse "Makeover"

A few weeks ago I stumbled upon this kooky dala horse at the Goodwill. Not only did it have  a strange "nerdy" paint job, but it was wearing glasses! Jackpot. Being a swede, dala horses are not only cute, they are a symbol of my heritage. My grandma has a few in her house, so I was really excited to find such a unique dala horse for my place!

I debated if I wanted to paint the dala horse in the traditional style because it was really intimidating! I'm not the best painter and the designs on dala horses are pretty intricate. I decided to use the traditional style as a reference but put my own spin on it. It took me two days to finish it and I really love the result! I'm so excited to have a unique dala horse of my own.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Cucumber Rose Gin & Tonic

A few days ago, I made the most refreshing gin and tonic ever and I'm really excited to share it with you. Now, I know what you're thinking, "the most refreshing gin and tonic ever? Amanda, you are exaggerating." Friends, I'm not exaggerating, they are seriously that good. Keep in mind this is coming from the girl who pretty much orders a gin and tonic whenever drinks are being had. I'm kind of an expert.

The only thing tricky about this cocktail is the cucumber flavor, because it comes from cucumber juice. If you have a juicer I recommend juicing about half a cucumber for several drinks. If you don't have a juicer, muddle slices of cucumber in a glass then strain through a fine mesh strainer. I tried both methods and found the juicer to yield tons more juice (duh), flavor and color. But both were tasty and if you don't have a juicer, it's still totally worth the extra work.

Oh, and the rosewater. This stuff is awesome, but can taste a bit like perfume if you use too much. I recommend adding a couple drops, taste, then add a few more if you think it's not enough. I usually use about 3 drops.

Cucumber Rose Gin & Tonic
2 ounces cucumber juice
2 ounces gin
4 ounces tonic
Lime juice
Rose water

1. In a medium glass, combine cucumber juice and gin. Add ice and fill glass with tonic (I found about 4 ounces did the trick). Add fresh lime juice and a couple drops of rose water. Mix with straw and garnish with cucumber. Enjoy!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Sponsor Spotlight: Jessica from Cherry Foxes

I'm excited to share with you the adorable Jessica from Cherry Foxes. In addition to blogging, Jessica also owns a cute jewelry shop called Gold Bangle, where you'll find super cute and affordable jewelry. You can also find Jessica on Instagram and Twitter, but first read more about Jessica below!

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your blog:
I'm a 21 year old living in little Idaho with my wonderful husband, Joseph. I absolutely love sharing bits and pieces from our lives and things that make us who we are. I run a few blog "reader series" that really challenges me to find new inspirations, and I hope they also inspire my readers.

Why do you blog? 
I blog for me and my future family. I think blogging is an amazing way to look back through our memories and share our moments with friends and family. There are so many opportunities to get to know people we may never have met if it weren't for their cute little blogs :)

What inspires you?
I am inspired by so many things, but the two things that are really big right now are: thrifters who can take junk and make it something beautiful and people who turn their hobbies into their jobs.

Tell us 3 random things about you:
1. Pistachio nuts make me sick. 
2. I sing horribly. Like a tone deaf... person. 
3. I watched Jurassic Park for the first time, ever, this year.

Favorite Posts?

1. Old Childhood Photos

So whatcha waiting for? Go check out Jessica's blog, Cherry Foxes and say hello :). 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Peanut Butter Banana & Nutella Popsicles

Ever since making these Nutella mini pies, I have become a big fan of bananas and Nutella together. I have always loved bananas and peanut butter, so I figured why not combine all three of them together? Well friends, that's just what I did and yes, it was totally delicious (as if there was any doubt).

I like to think these popsicles are somewhat healthy because the base is frozen bananas and yogurt. Any vanilla yogurt would work fine, but keep in mind if the yogurt is kinda tangy, the popsicles won't be as sweet. I used Trader Joe's vanilla yogurt and was really happy with the result.

Banana Chocolate & Nutella Popsicles
2 bananas
2/3 cup vanilla yogurt
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1 tablespoon Nutella
splash of milk

1. Peel and dice bananas, place on plate and freeze for approximately 2-3 hours.
2. Place half of frozen bananas in blender, then add 1/3 cup of yogurt. Blend until smooth, adding a splash of milk if mixture is too thick to blend. Place remaining bananas back into freezer.
3. Fill popsicle mold halfway with banana/yogurt mixture and place in freezer. Let sit for about 30 minutes.
4. Blend remaining bananas with 1/3 yogurt, Nutella and peanut butter. Add a splash of milk if necessary. Fill popsicle mold to the top with this mixture, add sticks and place back into freezer. Let freeze for about 4 hours.
5. When you're ready to eat, run popsicle mold under hot water for about 30 seconds and gently pull popsicle out.
**If you want to make things easy, you could mix all ingredients together, double the amount of peanut butter & Nutella and fill mold all the way. I just think the layers are fun! 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Witch Hazel and Rose Water Toner

The amount of skincare products out there is mind boggling. So many brands, ingredients, price points and sales do you choose? Working for Clinique certainly helps me narrow down my options, and while I love and stand by their products, sometimes it's nice to use something more natural. It also doesn't hurt when this natural product is cheap and can be purchased at the drugstore! Say hello to witch hazel, a natural astringent.

Witch hazel is actually derived from the leaves and bark of the North American Witch-hazel shrub (according to wiki). Neat, huh? Before I started working for Clinique, witch hazel was a regular part of my daily skin care routine. I used it every night after washing my face. It left my face feeling fresh, clean, and breakout free. I have recently started using it again in a mixture of rosewater, which works as an anti-inflammatory. Rose water also just smells nice...the smell of witch hazel is not for everybody. Or anybody.

Witch Hazel and Rose Water Toner
Witch Hazel
Rose Water
Container (I got mine from Michael's)

The "recipe" for this toner will be different depending on what kind of skin you have. If your skin is dry or dry combination, use half witch hazel and half rose water. If your skin is comfortable or oily (like mine), use 3/4 witch hazel and 1/4 rose water. Place product on a cotton ball, and sweep across face twice daily after removing makeup and before moisturizer.

1. Mix witch hazel and rose water in container depending on your skin type.
2. Store in bathroom cabinet or in fridge if desired. Putting it in the fridge just makes it cold and refreshing!

Monday, May 13, 2013

jumping on the Facebook wagon!

A few days ago I made a Facebook page for this blog. Head on over and hit "Like" if you want to be notified of post updates and whatnot! Now that Google Reader is disappearing, it's a good way to follow along :). Is your blog on Facebook? Let me know, I'd love to check it out! My page is still really new, but I'm determined to keep it active!

I have been considering diving into the Facebook/blog world for a while but wondered if it would be right for me. After all, I hardly use Twitter (I need to get better about that) and I worried it would just be another social media outlet that would get ignored.
I decided to go for it because of the Google Reader situation and to keep "bloggy" things off my personal page.

Does anybody else get kinda self conscious when "real life" people find out you have a blog? I know people from all over the world will see the content I put on the web, but I get so much more self conscious thinking about people I know seeing it! Things that seem so normal in the "blogging" world (like taking outfit pictures) might seem really strange to people who don't regularly read blogs. Because of this I don't  tell people about my blog unless it naturally comes up. Does anybody else feel the same way?

Friday, May 10, 2013

cat on a leash

Recently, Tommy bought Atticus a leash and harness so we can take him outside to explore the backyard. Yes, we are those people. So far the outdoors has a paralyzing effect on him; he doesn't really care for all the noises,  and he stays off the grass as much as possible (the grass is lava!) by staying on a blanket or a cinder block. Cats are pretty hilarious. Have you ever taken your inside kitty outside? Did he love it or hate it?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Breakfast Pizza

I like pizza, you like pizza. Let's not limit ourselves in terms of when pizza can be consumed. I think a late breakfast is the perfect time for a little pizza action...I mean, why not? Throw an egg and some bacon on your pie, and all of a sudden it doesn't seem strange at all. In fact, you might wonder if breakfast and pizza were made for each other (they were).

Obviously if these ingredients aren't your thing, you could switch things up. Sausage would be awesome, as would ham and bell peppers. For me, it's the egg that makes it breakfast appropriate. I decided to make personal pizzas and place the egg in the center, but you could also make one large pie and top with several eggs.

The first pizza I made I overcooked the egg, and the second was a bit too runny (although much better than the first). The third was my "goldilocks," and was just right. I found baking the pizza until the crust is done then broiling to finish the egg was best.

Breakfast Pizza
Pizza dough (homemade or store bought, recipe below)
Mozzarella cheese
Spaghetti sauce (I used Trader Joe's marinara)
6 pieces bacon, cooked and chopped
1 onion, sauteed
Handful of fresh basil, chopped
Approx. 1 1/2  sugar plum tomatos, sliced lengthwise
4 eggs

1.) Prepare pizza dough (recipe below). I found this recipe made enough for 4 rather large personal pizzas.
2.) Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly oil cookie sheet or pizza pan with olive oil.
3.) Turn dough out onto a well floured surface. Form dough into a round and separate into 4 balls. Roll out dough to desired thickness.
4.) Spread a small amount of spaghetti sauce onto dough. Place ingredients on pizza as desired then cover lightly with cheese. Crack egg in the center of the pizza, and top egg with a small amount of cheese. Top with fresh ground pepper, if desired.
5.) Place pizza on center rack, and let cook for about 10-12 minutes, or until crust starts to golden slightly.
6. Turn broiler on, and let cook until egg whites have cooked and the very top of the egg yolk appears cooked (egg should wiggle slightly when shaken).
7. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes, cut and enjoy!

Pizza Dough (Recipe from All Recipes)
1 packet active dry yeast (.25 ounce)
1 cup warm water (approx. 110 degrees F)
2 cups bread flour
2 tbs olive oil
2 tsp white sugar
1 tsp salt

1.) In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
2.) In a large bowl, combine 2 cups bread flour, olive oil, salt, white sugar and the yeast mixture; stir well to combine. Beat well until a stiff dough has formed. Cover and rise until doubled in volume, about 30 minutes.