A Day in Santa Barbara

I’m baaaackkkk! Did you miss me? It has been ashamedly long since I’ve posted. I’ve wanted to post a few times since last, but once you fall off the wagon, it’s hard pulling yourself back up. I’ve missed the creative outlet, however, so that will help inspire some more content on here.

In the meantime, this is going to be a picture-heavy post (as far as blog posts go; nothing compared to facebook albums and, um, my entire iPhoto collection). Two weekends ago, my bf S and I took a day-trip to Santa Barbara. It was a nice little escape for the day. {The pictures are much more lovely if you click for gallery form!}

We mostly just ate, drank, and walked. If you’re ever in the neighborhood and need to grab a bite (or WANT to, hello), I’d definitely suggest The Shop Cafe for a great selection of fresh takes on brunch and lunch favorites. We grabbed a salad and sandwich there and ate at a picnic table on their patio. It had a great, laid-back vibe and was a perfect way to start our day in S.B. Oh, and make sure you try their iced chai latte!! SO good. Vanilla beans and everything.

I also highly recommend the Santa Barbara Courthouse. There is beauty in every detail, inside and out (and so many photo opportunities—would be an amazing engagement shoot location). The view from the clock tower is a can’t-miss! The courthouse is one of the best free attractions I’ve ever been to.

After some beach walking/pier sitting/leg dangling, we stopped by Apéro for some creative and delicious cocktails. One of S’ had pieces of honey comb in it; they tasted like freeze-dried caramel. Really fun! We also sampled one of their tapas plates (brie goo and apricot and fancy greens on artisan bread. . .mmm), which was also tasty.  It was a nice stop.

That was pretty much our day, with a little more walking and a little more eating and drinking. We concluded with him buying curtains, me buying a dress, and In N Out on our way south. We’re so lucky to live within a few hours of some great cities. I’m already itching to go again!

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Quinoa Oat “Cookies-Ish”

Last week , we had truly little in our fridge and pantry. “What can I POSSIBLY make to eat?!” was always my first thought every time I entered the kitchen. The options were extremely limited, but the upside was I became creative out of necessity. I was even a little impressed with some of the things I seemingly made appear out of thin air. haha.

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This was our last day before shopping, and truly the only substantial things I could find were oats (homemade muesli, actually) in the freezer, leftover cooked quinoa, and  an egg from our chickens. After some Googling and additional deep-fridge excavating, I ended up making what only people on truly deprived diets would call “cookies” (“patties” doesn’t seem quite as appetizing). Knowing it had basically NOTHING bad for you made them a little more satisfying than they should be. I actually polished them all off by the end of the day. Without further ado, here’s what I made, adapted from this recipe:

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Insanely Healthy Oatmeal Quinoa Cookies-Ish 

{Potentially Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Sugar Free}

Makes approximately 9 “cookies”

Ingredients:

2 cups uncooked oats (I used muesli, which is just oats with a little dried fruit and nuts mixed in)

1 cup cooked quinoa

1 egg

1 tsp – 1 tbsp maple syrup (to preference)

1.5 tsp – 1 tbsp cinnamon (I like a healthy dose of cinnamon!)

Sprinkling of sea salt

Optional: chocolate chips, dried fruit, coconut, vanilla extract, whatever you want!


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Preheat the oven to 350°. Mix together all ingredients in a medium-sized bowl until well-incorporated. (The mixture won’t be like a batter, but should still hold together when formed on a cookie sheet. )

With oats, quinoa, and egg as a  base, you can add whatever you desire for flavor. We were out of honey, so I added some maple syrup along with cinnamon for some sweetness and flavor. The little bit of fruit and nuts with the oats added a nice texture contrast, as well.


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Line a cookie sheet with a piece of parchment paper, then use a heaping tablespoon to scoop the mixture onto the lined cookie sheet. Pat down and form 3 inch round patties with the spoon (you may find a second spoon helpful). I used all the mixture to make 3 rows of 3 patties, which fit quite nicely on one cookie sheet. (Okay, I admit. I used my scrumptious Trader Joe’s Cinnamon & Sugar Grinder over the top off all my formed “cookies” for some extra flavor and sugar crunch! It was a decision I don’t regret.)


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Place the cookie sheet in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through. After the 20 minutes is up and they look just lightly browned, IMMEDIATELY remove the cookies carefully using a metal spatula. (I didn’t remove mine right away and when I came back 5 minutes later, they had stuck firmly to the paper. If this happens to you, stop your removal attempts ((unless you like eating paper)) and put the sheet back in the warm oven for 5 minutes. Try again once they’ve warmed back up.) The cookies will be delicate when hot but will cool nicely into firm and chewy, satisfying “cookies” you’ll have no mental issue devouring.

For “health food”, these aren’t bad. And, hey, why not spread a little peanut butter or Nutella between two for an awesome breakfast sandwichI don’t eat actual oatmeal, but I’ll eat oats in any cookie form!

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Let me know if you find an amazing combo I must try. I might make these again next time groceries run low!  

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In Honor of Gwennie

Tomorrow would have been my loving, faithful little shih tzu’s 13th birthday. It was always easy to remember how old she was turning because she was born in 2000. While I always took comfort in the fact that little dogs live much longer than big dogs, we ended up having to put her down a few months shy of her 13th birthday. I know there are so many people going through immense heartache in losing family members, and I don’t want to take away from the very real loss of human relationships. It almost seems trivial to mourn the loss of a pet when others are saying goodbye to parents, siblings, children. . . But, as [I hope] any dog owner will testify to, there is absolutely a spot in each of our hearts reserved for our canine companions.

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On her last trip – Fall 2012

Thanks to the kindness and generosity of friends, I got to anticipate Gwennie’s birth and excitedly met her the day she was born. After picking her out early on as “mine”, I continued to visit her and her siblings as they grew and finally took her home at 8 weeks. As a full-grown 10 pound dog, there was little she didn’t do alongside me and my family for the next 12 years. Sleeping on her choice of human beds, going shopping, flying to family vacations, getting matching dye-jobs with me (usually pink, though she would have preferred red), camping, roadtripping for a month across the country (including sneaking into a Lewis & Clark IMAX movie with the fam and barking at a bear), summer camp, church retreats, you name it. Queen Quinevere (as she was registered—apparently someone at the AKC can’t decipher between a ‘G’ and a ‘Q’), or Gwen for short, was part of the family in ways the big dogs could only dream of.
 
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Some of my favorite pictures of Gwen


While it has been a sad transition getting used to dropping food on the floor and still seeing it there 5 minutes later, and not having her “growl” and bark asking to be picked up when I come home, I take comfort in knowing she had a pretty great life. Understanding dogs can’t live forever, I think this had the best possible outcome. We kept each other company and were there for each other until her end. I grew up with her and am blessed to have done so. I won’t soon forget her unusual “talking” to her precious beanie babies, or that famed look when we took away her scavenged root beer barrel. So many memories, so many smiles. There will be more dogs in my life, undoubtedly, but Gwennie will always have a special place in my heart. 


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The last picture I took of Gwennie: one-take, with genuine emotion from both of us—me knowing what was to come, and her licking her lips after I gave her a gave her a tasty morsel of bread and milk

P.S. I did my nails today in honor of Gwennie; black and white, of course. She would’ve approved!

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Essie Sleek Stick Nail Strips Review

One of my extremely photographic friends, who has a beauty supply hookup, recently gave me a set of Essie’s new Sleek Stick nail strips to try out. I’ve only used nail strips one other time and was eager to see if this experience would be more pleasant. Read on to find out!

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I received the pretty design Over The Moon, which has slightly raised silver circles that go on the moons of your nails. 

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The base color is a pretty, taupey mauve. I love the festive bling, and think it’s neutral and classic enough to be worn for a nice occasion {I saved these to wear to my boyfriend’s annual company dinner}.

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Onto application. There are several shapes and sizes included, but I had a pretty hard time finding something for each nail. Some worked better than others, but none were perfect. The main problem was the cuticle shape and the width of the decal {being to narrow/not covering the whole nail or too wide/overlapping to skin}.

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Next: the hunt to find the closest shape for each nail, and trying to apply them straight. I had to take them off and realign several times. It gets a tiny bit easier the more you do, but still hard as every shape is different.

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Once you line up and firmly press down the strip to your nail, bend the excess over the nail tip to ensure the nail is fully covered.

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Then you use the enclosed nail file to remove the extra part of the strip by filing straight down, perpendicular to the nail.

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This part can be a bit jarring, but the end comes off fairly quickly.  The straighter up and down you hold the file, the smoother the end of the strip/your nail will be.

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Here is my final result. There were still some slight ridges around the ends and the cuticle areas were far from perfect. From a distance, though, they looked great! I’m a texture person and loved feeling the 3D bumps.

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The edges were slightly jaggedy and uneven, but much better than my previous nail strips.

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These definitely had the wow factor that I wanted for the evening I wore them.

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These strips claim to be “UV Cured”, so I had high hopes for long wear. I was worried about the ends snagging on things {hair, clothes, etc.} and peeling off, but thankfully that never happened! The longevity, however, was disappointing.  These below pictures were after one day of wear {I didn’t even do dishes!}.

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Though they didn’t peel, they wore off completely at the tips. You can see in the photo above how poorly the thumb fit, too.

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I took them off the next day because of the unsightly tips. I just peeled them off, which as I recall {don’t quote me!} is what the instructions said to do. Sadly, they were pretty destructive to my nails. Lots of peeling.

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To summarize, I enjoyed the nail strips for the small time they lasted. The design {color + decoration} was great, but the difficulty in application and quick wear mean I will not be purchasing these in the future. I’m thankful to my friend for gifting me these to try {I would have been really disappointed if I paid $10 for these}. Maybe the rest of you will have better luck!

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Belated Thanksgiving 2012 Update

Now that we’re safely into the new year (ohhh, by almost two months!), I think it’s time I posted my thanksgiving decor. It was super low budget, but I accomplished the feel I was going for. Without further ado, our alfresco Thanksgiving dining experience:

First, I painted the stems of small pumpkins gold.

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Then I cut the pumpkins on the bottom in order to hollow them out and create luminaries. This was my first time carving/decorating a pumpkin, and I was surprised at how tricky it is! You have to really put some muscle into it. Those seeds are a beast to get out.

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I found a rather Tim Burton-esque looking face while I was working.

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Our sweet white rabbit {who is no longer with us :( } loved getting some of the scraps, while Diesel our dog supervised.

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For the table runner, I use a long sheet of craft paper and stamped two different sized circles all over it at random with gold acrylic paint.

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The gold circles tied in with the gold stems of the pumpkins.

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I continued the “polka dot” theme by drilling circles in the pumpkins that would  allow the luminaries to glow.

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For place cards, I made a few batches of carmel corn {recipe here, though I added a ton of cinnamon, SO good!!} and filled individual, name-stamped paper bags with the crunchy goodness. Guests could munch throughout dinner, or during dessert if pumpkin pie didn’t float their boats {holla!}.

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You’ll notice nothing on my plate but carbs and veggies. :) None of that turkey nonsense for me.

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Our table full of lovely neighborhood friends . . .

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The pumpkins came alive as the sun went down.

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The food was placed around this buffet table my mom set up. I love the placement of the crates and pumpkins!

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That wraps up our thanksgiving festivities. We all gathered around the fire-pit for dessert when it started to get chilly.  I say it very often, but I love where I live! So grateful we were able to enjoy our thanksgiving meal outdoors this year. 

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by boe Loot

Last month, I was lucky enough to win a giveaway on A CUP OF JO  to pick out a piece of jewelry of my choice from by boe. Getting that email was soo exciting! The first and only blog giveaway I’ve ever won (they’re not rigged after all! ; ) ).

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Of course, I documented the always fun package-opening so you can experience it with me. haha. There is something so satisfying about pretty packaging.

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After literal hours of browsing, analyzing, and friend-consulting, I chose the Amazon necklace in sterling silver.

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Here’s my goofy mirror shot showing off my bling.

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It definitely has a handmade aesthetic (I even had to do an easy repair job when one of the arms detached from the chain) but I do like it a lot! I’m still finding outfits that work best with it and I might even work my way up to layering with it one day. I’ve never been a long necklace person so there is a slight learning curve. : )

Thanks so much to Jo and by boe for my necklace! It was a thrill to win and pick out my new jewelry. It was a great intro to by boe and I have bookmarked them for later. Sterling silver jewelry is really difficult to find at a decent price, so I’ll be back!

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Favorite 2013 Planners

2013 is around the corner, and that means it’s time to start thinking about getting a new planner! Despite my many technological gadgets that are capable of keeping track of important dates and events, I take such joy in jotting them down in a pretty book. Here are some beauts I stumbled upon:


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Without further ado, here is my personal pick for 2013, which I will be purchasing soon!

I chose #2 from my roundup, which was inspired by the book Parisian Chic: A Style Guide (top two books pictured above). Not only does the planner have an adorable layout with bonus fashion tips, the format is just what I was looking for. There are so many options available, but I’ve found that daily spaces without times plus extra space on each page for to-dos and notes is best for me. And I prefer to go without all the extra contacts, website, subway map, etc. pages that many books boast.

Shout-out to #3 on my list: I had this during my last year of college and LOVED it! It has pages for life and school goals, study checklists, to-do lists, class schedules, etc. The layout is fabulous and useful. Every page has college advice and/or an inspirational quote from other college students. If I were still a student, I would still be using this, hands down!

And remember, if you find a planner that works for you but you’re not loving the cover, you can  change it until you do! {Like this and this}

What is your favorite planner?

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