What I Want // Summer Sneakers

The search for shoes perfectly fit for dog walking, market strolling, and errand running has been a long one. I know the main criteria: comfortable and versatile. BUT do I want to go sporty, basic, or bright and colorful? Help lead me in the right direction! Or maybe I just get one of each? Justin would just love that solution.

sneakers2sporty: red/black | basic: burlap/coral | graphic: dots/hexagons/palms
floral: flowers/lemons | spotted: left/right | striped: blue/red

Recipe // Slow Cooker Carnitas, 3 Ways

Carnitas3WaysMy new favorite Mexican restaurant serves eye-rolling, grunt inducing carnitas so I decided to attempt to replicate them at home so we didn’t have to show our faces in there AGAIN this week. We even got fancy and experimented with different topping combinations with the pineapple and salsa being my absolute favorite. We will definitely be making these again since my slow cooker basically did all the work for me. Who doesn’t love coming home to a house/apartment basking in the smell of a dinner you haven’t slaved over? I know I do! It’s like having an inexpensive personal chef. What is your favorite way to finish off carnitas?

Slow Cooker Carnitas (via):

1 (2-3 lb) pork roast
1 can (15 oz) enchilada sauce (I used red)
1 cup salsa
1 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon garlic
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon brown sugar
tortillas and toppings (optional: guacamole, sour cream, cheese, pineapple, salsa, lettuce)

Place roast in a slow cooker sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. In a bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and then pour over the roast. Cook on LOW for 8-10 hours or HIGH for 5-6 hours (I would recommend the low setting). Remove the roast from the slow cooker when and shred using two forks (it should fall apart pretty easily). Cover a large baking sheet with foil and spread the shredded meat on top of it. Pour about 1 1/2 cups of the liquid from the slow cooker over the meat. Broil the meat for about 5 minutes, until it starts to caramelize around the edges, flipping once during this time. Serve the meat on tortillas, in burritos, enchiladas, salad or make nachos. Top with your favorite toppings. We used warm tortillas and guacamole, pineapple, sour cream, salsa, spinach, and cheese!!

Recipe // Hummingbird Bakery Peanut Butter Cookies

Peanut_Butter_CookiesPeanut butter and chocolate baked together into soft, chewy goodness and washed down with a large glass of ice cold milk. It doesn’t get much better than that.

HBPBCookies-2Hummingbird Bakery Peanut Butter Cookies (via):

1 stick plus 6 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar1 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup crunchy peanut butter
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips, chopped
parchment paper

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. In a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment or a handheld electric whisk, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Turn the mixer to slow and beat in the vanilla and peanut butter. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt; mix well until a smooth dough is formed. Stir in the chocolate chips until evenly dispersed. Drop 12 equal amounts of cookie dough on each prepared baking sheet and bake 10 minutes or until golden brown around the edges. Let cookies cool slightly on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Book Review x 6

My heart is happy when I am all consumed by a great book.

Traveling for ten months automatically disconnects you from time sucking activities like television and reconnects you with exploring, whether it be a city, literature, or history. We have attempted to maintain our detachment from TV (aided by our lack of cable) and our attachment to reading and exploring by allowing ourselves full nights dedicated to playtime at the park with the girls, long walks, and time spent cuddled up in a mound of blankets engrossed in our current books. Last night was one of those nights (I finished this and immediately started this). Here are some of my latest reads that had me reflecting on the past, future and my morals, while others were the perfect lighthearted escape from life. Have you read anything great lately? I am in dire need of some great book recommendations!!

20140423-145343.jpg The New American Road Trip Mixtape: Post breakup, Brendan hits the open road searching for healing and the meaning of life. Recommended to me by Justin, this book made me want to pack everything back up again and hit the road searching for the greater purpose of my life. A great book to get you thinking about your heart’s deeper desires and the purpose and destination of the road you are traveling on.

Orange is the New Black: Piper’s past catches up to her and lands her fifteen months in jail where she shares her attempts at navigating her new world behind bars. An easy, quick read that made me want to stay on this side of that barbed wire fence.

The Husband’s Secret: Imagine stumbling upon a letter written to you by your husband in the case of his death confessing his deepest, darkest secret that will change everything in everyone’s lives. That’s what happens to Cecelia while her husband is still alive…I’ve said it before and I will say it again: I’m a sucker for books featuring chapters from multiple character perspectives, each giving you a little more detail into the past, present, and future. You will not regret picking up this book as it is incredibly well written, keeps you engaged, and makes you reflect on how you would handle similar situations. Read it NOW.

Unbroken: A World War II Story: This story has sat on my Kindle since it gained popularity but for some unknown reason I never chose to start it, however, once I finally did, I was hooked. The unfathomable story of survival Louis Zamperini endured during World War II was heartwrenching, unbelievable, and powerful. Although I wish I wouldn’t have read this during my five flights to/from Nashville, I’m so glad I finally sat down to learn this story of such an incredible man.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette: Bernadette, a wife and mother, suddenly disappears and her daughter, Bee, is determined to find out just where she went. Lighthearted, witty, and page turning.

Cartwheel: Based off the Amanda Knox trial, I was hoping this book would throw some curveballs and perhaps even end with the reader knowing for sure what happened, but in the end it was just like the real-life trial: no answers, lots of acquittals. At best I grudged through it, just trying to finish, hoping for something, anything. Definitely not one I would recommend.

Recipe // Loaded BLT Sandwiches

LoadedBLTSandwichesClassic BLT’s get even better with the addition of avocado, pepper jack cheese, and spicy Ranch dressing in these Loaded BLT Sandwiches. A great and easy way to update a favorite.

BLT-4 BLT-1 BLT-2Loaded BLT Sandwich (via):

2 pieces of sourdough or bread of your choice
mayo
spicy ranch dressing
1 tomato, sliced
1/2 an avocado, sliced
3 or 4 leafs of iceberg lettuce
2 slices of pepper jack cheese
6 pieces of bacon
ground black pepper

Cover a baking sheet in aluminum foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Place bacon on the baking sheet, sprinkle with black pepper, and place into a cold oven. Cook the bacon until the oven is preheated to 400 degrees, continue baking until desired crispiness. Blot the bacon with paper towels to remove grease before adding to the sandwich.

While bacon is cooking, slice the tomatoes, avocado, lettuce and pepper jack cheese. Coat one side of each slice of bread first with a thin layer of mayo followed by a thicker layer of spicy ranch. Assemble the sandwich in this order, bottom to top: bread, lettuce, avocado, hot bacon, pepper jack cheese, tomato, and the final slice of bread. Serve immediately.

Fancy Pants

FancyPants-7A special work event followed by a date night called for some fancy pants last Friday and these did just the trick. The material of these pants is extremely wrinkle resistant and comfortable, which was perfect for a day full of sitting at a desk followed by leisurely lounging at a dinner table.

As it was my first full weekend off from work in what seems like forever, Justin and I had a fully packed weekend of fly fishing, adventures at terrifying heights, attempting new recipes, and lots of cuddling with our pups. Oh what I would give to have two whole days off together every weekend. Hope everyone had a fabulous Easter counting their blessings and cherishing time spent with family and friends!

Loft Printed Paisley Pants (last seen here) | H&M Blazer (recent find in stores for only $7!!) |
Express Tank (old, similar) | Prism Necklace | Madewell Stacking Rings (on sale!) |
Heels (old, seen here) | Michael Kors Watch

FancyPants-3 FancyPants-6 FancyPants-1 FancyPants-5 FancyPants-4 FancyPants-8 FancyPants-2

Outfit // Bright Menswear

Menswear-4 Menswear-3 Menswear-7 Menswear-10Menswear-2 Menswear-8 Menswear-5 Menswear-11 Old Navy Denim | Rachel Roy Heels via Hautelook (love these, similar) | Everlane V Tee | Menswear Coat (similar here/here) | French Connection Clutch (seen here, similar here/here)

Days off from work are occupied by errands, cleaning, and blogging (although not as frequently as I’d like) so I rarely, if ever, venture out of my pajamas or put effort into my hair and makeup (claiming I’m doing it for the greater good of my skin and hair when in reality it is pure laziness). However, it seems that lately we generally end up naturally having plans the nights I don’t work which forces me to put on actual clothes not adorned by road race advertisements or having one too many stains. This outfit seemed like the perfect compromise between pajamas and “real” clothes for a double date night out last weekend at my new favorite neighborhood Mexican restaurant. The distressed jeans and simple tee are comfortable and laid back while the added bright clutch and pumps dress it up and make the look feel fun and feminine in contrast to the menswear inspired overcoat. What is your favorite way to dress up your tee and denim?

Menswear-12

What I Want // Stripes

Just like florals in spring, stripes are hardly a trend (thank goodness) and lately my shopping radar has been drawn to anything and everything adorned in stripes – including this blazer, this blouse, and these shoes – which is completely justified by the fact that stripes will never get old or go out of style. Worn as a neutral and paired with other prints (think: florals, polka dots, and even camo), these striped pieces below will keep your closet fun and functional. Are you planning on adding any more stripes to your wardrobe for spring and summer? In what form? I think the hat pictured below which comes in navy/white too would be perfect for sipping wine in Sonoma on our San Francisco trip next month. Might have to pick that one up…

stripeseditedone | two | three | four | five | six | seven | eight | nine | ten | eleven | twelve | thirteen | fourteen

Happy Hump Day and a very special Happy Birthday to my bestie!

Outfit // Trend Trials

Turtleneck-3 Turtleneck-5 Turtleneck-4 Turtleneck-7 Turtleneck-6

Zara Slip Dress (similar) | H&M Turtleneck (only $3.50 in stores) | DKNY Tights | Target Booties | H&M Crossbody (similar) | Ray Ban Sunnies

Blazers, handbags, denim, and pumps are all worthy investment pieces for their timeless appeal and versatility. Turtlenecks and lace slip dresses? Not so much. Although items qualifying of investment status vary from person to person the underlying factor remains the same: wearablily from season to season year after year. The unsureness and self-conscious level associated with a turtleneck and a slip dress kept me from wanting to pay much so I was thrilled when I stumbled across a $19 slip dress from Zara and a $3.50 turtleneck from H&M! Who could have predicted I would pair them together? I love how the turtleneck downplays the potential sexiness of the slip dress and the lace hem of the dress keeps the look from being too dowdy. Plus this black and blue combination pairs perfectly with the dark, stormy Seattle weather we had a few weeks back and the consequential mood I was feeling at the time. What do you think of this combination? Do you consider turtlenecks an investment piece? I’m looking forward to styling both these pieces for warmer weather, any suggestions? Hope you had a great weekend! :)

Recipe // Creamy Tomato Pasta

TomatoPasta-1We eat a lot of meat. Chicken, turkey, beef, pork, we eat it. There is no discrimination in this household. With my dislike of fish, seafood, and the majority of vegetarian meat substitutes we have been at a loss for ideas for meatless meals that will still taste delicious and keep us full throughout the night. That left us with mainly pasta heavy options (aka carb loading, aka weight gain inducing) like this one. Unlike our usual boring meatless spaghetti nights, this one-pan dish felt straight from the streets of Italy with the addition of tomatoes, spinach, and creamy flavors.

TomatoPasta-2Creamy Tomato & Spinach Pasta (via):

1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic
15 ounce can diced tomatoes
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
pinch red pepper flakes (optional, I omitted)
1/2 tsp salt
black pepper to taste
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 ounces cream cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 lb penne pasta
1/2 of a 9 ounce bag fresh spinach

(for step by step photos check out Budget Bytes here)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender, about 7-10 minutes. Drain the pasta in a colander. While waiting for the pasta to cook, dice the onion and mince the garlic. Cook both in a large skillet with the olive oil over medium-low heat until softened and transparent (about 5 minutes). Add the diced tomatoes (with juices), oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, salt, and some freshly cracked pepper to the skillet with the onions and garlic. Stir to combine. Add the tomato paste and a ½ cup of water to the skillet and stir until the tomato paste is dissolved into the sauce.

Turn the heat down to low. Cut the cream cheese into a few pieces and then add them to the skillet with the tomato sauce. Use a whisk to stir the sauce until the cream cheese has fully melted in and the sauce is creamy. Add half of the Parmesan to the skillet and whisk until it is melted in. Add the remainder of the Parmesan and whisk until melted in again. Add the fresh spinach and gently stir it into the sauce until it has wilted (3-5 minutes). Add the pasta and stir until it is well coated in the creamy tomato sauce. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper as needed. Serve warm.