Friday, October 31, 2014

{Five Things}

Halloween costume preview. Eh, Toro!!!! 

It's Halloween, y'all! I'm so ready to put on my costume and hit the bar tonight. Don't you just love dressing up on Halloween? Even though it's just a costume, it's like I'm vacating myself for a night. Like dressing as a different person or thing makes fun easier to find. Playing dress up and eating candy automatically takes me back to my childhood, making me feel whimsical and silly. Though now it's better, because there is wine involved.

Have a happy Halloween!!

Still being neighborly. Taking cookies to a new family in the neighborhood.

Impromptu wine bar set up at my place of work last weekend.

It's the last day to vote early in Texas. Get out there and do it!

Having a fun, mid-week lunch downtown.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

I'm Totally Pulling A Sarah McLachlan from those ASPCA Commercials.

Today's post is going to be shameless, but also adorable.

A few weeks ago a little black kitten came into our lives. We first heard it "meow"ing  on the other side of the brick wall that lines our driveway. He was the tiniest little black kitty I'd ever seen. At first, he didn't let us go near him. If I got closer than about 10 feet from him, no matter how softly or slowly I walked, he would BOLT in the other direction. We fed him tuna because he was so. tiny. and we wanted him to grow and be strong. For the time being, though, it seemed as if he'd stay small forever. We named him Little Bit.

He's talking to you.
Eventually, we put his food bowl on the other side of the brick wall. Our side. He came over the wall. Then we brought his food closer to our garage, and he came closer too. Finally, he set up camp in the flower bed near the garage and now we take turns feeding him. He's grown and has graduated to actual cat food. He still doesn't like us to pick him up, but we've been able to pet him some. This morning, I pet him while he ate. The thing is, I think he's starved for love and affection.

I wish Bit could stay with us forever, but my mother says no (yes, I am 26 years of age. Shut up). And everyone knows the old adage, "when Mama ain't happy, you can't keep stray kitties." 

So here is my plea: will someone please think about adopting this sweet kitty? Though he seems to love it when we do pet him, I fear he's suffering from trauma of being separated from his mother, and also of being harassed by the other big cats that hang around our yard and our next door neighbor's. He needs a home where people will let him be, but also love him.

I'm sorry to use this platform for some CATfishing (haha, get it?), but please let me know if you or someone you know would want him. If not, it's totally fine. We'll just keep pretending like he hasn't already settled into our hearts and our flower bed.

PS. Little Bit might be a girl.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Monday Meals: Ranch Cheddar Chicken

There's nothing quite as satisfying as cooking for your family and having them actually enjoy it. I'm still at a stage in my cooking where I'm not sure everything will turn out, so I was glad to find this recipe from Buns in My Oven. It is easy and delicious, and the perfect dish to whip up during the weekend for a yummy early Sunday supper.

You'll need:

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons dry ranch dressing seasoning
1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
cooking spray
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the chicken in a large baking dish. In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, ranch, and cheddar cheese. Spread on top of the chicken breasts. Sprinkle panko on top and spray lightly with cooking spray. Bake for 25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

And you're finished!

Friday, October 24, 2014

{Five Things}

Quiet mornings with all the clothes.
This week was marred by an injury. My dad fell playing tennis and broke his wrist, putting him out of commission and into light retirement for a few weeks. Every day essentially feels like a weekend with him home for coffee every morning. I'm also working a few days at a women's clothing store, and am getting some great ideas for Christmas presents.
Have a great weekend!

A great event last Saturday at the Paramount with an Abilene native,
who is editorial director at People and Entertainment Weekly.

My shopping cart at the grocery store. #sorrynotsorry

Currently coveting this perfume.

And finally, the doc with the bad wing. Poor guy.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Monday Meals: Pumpkin Bread

As I mentioned last week, I love pumpkin-related things. Despite their overabundance during this time of year, I will always lean on pumpkin as a fall staple. A couple of weeks ago, I made an amazing pumpkin bread. It was my first time to make bread--I haven't done a ton of baking in my life--and it turned out pretty dang well, if I do say so. Here is the recipe I used (from a very random website that I found via Google), complete with fresh pumpkin that I puree'd in my mom's Vitamix, which I have complete access to while living at home... #gettingspoiled.


Pumpkin Puree

Preheat oven to 350. Cut pumpkin into fourths and scoop out seeds with an ice cream scoop. Place pumpkin on a large baking sheet (either face up or down) and bake for 45 minutes. Let it cool, then remove skin using a knife to help peel. Cut the "meat" into chunks and put in a blender (with a 1/4 cup of water) or food processor. Blend until smooth.

Pumpkin Bread

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
3 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. allspice
2 cups fresh pumpkin
1/2 cup water (2/3 cup if pumpkin is canned)
4 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup chopped pecans, walnuts, or raisins (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and sugar. Add eggs, water, oil, and pumpkin. Stir until blended. Pour into 2 lightly greased 9x5 loaf pans, or muffin pans for muffins. Bake 1 hour, and test with a knife to see if they are done. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then cool on a rack.


Friday, October 17, 2014

{Five Things}

I took a peaceful drive Sunday afternoon through downtown.

I'm always happy to have a sibling or two in Abilene for the weekend, so I was thrilled to learn that my older brother is coming home this weekend for a wedding! We've gotten much closer in our 20s, and we always have a good time together. I plan to hang out with him and my parents, and then see some friends at a fundraiser Saturday night. Have a good one!

Getting pics like this from my friend in Paris makes my heart so happy.

 October 13th is when Parks and Rec first introduced us to the concept of a day to "Treat Yo Self."

So I treated myself with some ice cream, which I hadn't had in a very long time and now seems like a small crime committed against myself. A misdemeanor at the very least.

With a topping of chocolate sauce and Once Upon A Time.
  Photos of an adorable display of dogs in costumes in a museum in Madrid. Which leads me to...

These two just got back from their 10-day trip to Madrid and Israel. Let the wine-drinking and gossiping resume. #momanddad

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Trouble with Fall

Fall is a wonderful time of the year, perhaps even the best. The weather cools down, the leaves turn beautiful shades of orange, red and yellow, and I begin to select every day items from my scarf collection again.

But, there are some stressful bits about this wonderful season that I would like to address here. Tell me if you agree.

1. Halloween costumes -- My friend Olivia loves to go all out with her costumes. They often involve lots of face paint, and elaborate outfit, and probably a few props to make it impressive and bold. My ideas don't come that easily. I love a good play on words, like Pig in a Blanket, which I was a few years back, or Facebook (thank you Office).

London, circa 2009

But still, every year, I stress about a good costume that is warm, comfortable, clever, and makes me look 10 pounds lighter. Am I really asking for a lot here?? This year, the runners up are 50 shades of gray, a luffa, or maybe a shooting star. Of course, all this could be moot because I'm not sure I have plans yet for Halloween, which I need to fix immediately.

50 Shades of Gray...but where to get all those paint samples??
2. The impending doom that is Christmas shopping for relatives -- I'm lucky; there are five of us in my family, and my brothers don't really care about presents (I get them gifts anyway, though, because I am the best sister ever). So, I don't have nearly as much to complain about than the people who are buying for family members in the double digits. I typically wait until after Thanksgiving to buy presents for my family, but this year I'm planning to shop early. "Planning" being the key word here. I love buying and giving presents to people, and I make a concerted effort to listen throughout the year for passing comments my family members or friends make about something they want or need. I don't always remember, but the few times I did made it much easier to buy for people when St. Nick came around.
What?! No.

3. Pumpkins -- All. The. Pumpkins. I love them, don't get me wrong, but we need to look at who we are as a society and a species. It's getting a little ridiculous. Google Pumpkin Spice Overload and click on Images and you'll see what I'm talking about. I bought a pumpkin a few weeks ago, baked it, puree-ed it, and made two loaves of pumpkin bread. Then I put the rest in the freezer because it stressed me out to think about how many pumpkin-spiced things I could make with it. I'll probably use it for a pie for Thanksgiving, but until then, we need to calm down with the pumpkin, people.

Okay, now that I got all that out of the way, I'm going to backtrack. Because besides these problems that I felt like complaining about today, fall will remain my favorite season. Going the extra mile to make a Halloween party fun, or buying a thoughtful gift for a loved one, yields more connection and wonderful times spent with family and friends. The effort is always rewarded in the end.

Once I've picked out my costume, I'm going to have a great time with my friends on Halloween. After buying Christmas presents, I'm going to sit wrapped in a blanket by the fire with my family. And despite complaining about all the pumpkins, I know me, and I'll probably have at least four more Pumpkin Spice Lattes from Starbucks before the season is over. After all, they are pretty delicious.

What do you love/hate about fall?

Monday, October 13, 2014

Monday Meals: The Easiest, Most Delicious Breakfast Tacos in the World

I'm a Texas gal, through and through. And here, it is an unspoken rule that all Texans must love breakfast tacos/burritos. But really, I mean, how much sacrifice is necessary on our part? They are delicious. Eggs, sausage or bacon (both?), cheese, hot sauce (aka salsa), and any other myriad of ingredients. It's the best of everything. Here are some easy breakfast tacos for slow weekend mornings, or whenever you feel like jumpstarting your workday with some Texas flavor.

Breakfast Tacos

4 eggs, beaten
half a package of sausage (I used Wright's spicy sausage)
Garlic salt
Crushed red peppers
Colby Jack shredded cheese
9,000 cups of your favorite salsa
3 flour or corn tortillas

Lightly spray a large pan and heat the sausage until cooked, sprinkling garlic salt, oregano and crushed red peppers to taste. Add the eggs and mix together until eggs are scrambled. Pour onto warmed tortilla, add shredded cheese and salsa.


Not sure why this lighting is so weird. But it was delicious.

Friday, October 10, 2014

{Five Things}

Currently working my way through these fall catalogues.
This week, I spent a lot of time in the kitchen and around fall-themed things. We had so much food in our fridge and freezer, that I knew if I didn't use it for one thing or another I would have to throw out its entire contents in the near future. I'm working at the store again today and tomorrow, and look forward to a quiet weekend at home planning my next adventure (to be announced soon!).
Have a great weekend!

With a real pumpkin sitting on our counter for almost a week, I had to do something about it. The result? Pumpkin bread.

Loving the mums and pumpkins on the front stoop!

Maybe the cutest invitation I've ever seen: An empty wine bottle with a great bottle stopper.

Spaghetti Squash that I probably will not make again. It was okay, but not my favorite. Plus the whole time I only thought about the pasta that could have been in my bowl. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Monday Meals (or Snacks)

Almonds are one of my favorite healthy snacks. I grab a handful while I'm cooking dinner or sipping a glass of wine at happy hour. I'll happily eat them plain, but a friend in Paris introduced me to the brilliant idea of roasting them. I haven't done it since I've been home, but decided to try it today. It's a simple process that really enhances the flavor. Try it. I promise you won't regret it.

Whole almonds
Sea Salt, finely ground
Tablespoon of olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, drizzle olive oil over almonds, sprinkle some salt and stir, coating them in the oil and salt. Spread them out on a baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes. Sprinkle a little more salt to taste, let cool and serve.

Friday, October 3, 2014

{Five Things}

A pumpkin patch just north of town where we found seven pretty ones to bring home.

While this week was full of the usual (errands, work outs, and cooking), today and tomorrow I'm breaking the mold by working at the store where I used to work. The boss is out of town so I'll be helping out while she's gone. I'm looking forward to putting in a couple of days of work, and am excited to see some former friends/coworkers/customers and catch up on the past few months. Have a great weekend!

Kindle and coffee on a cool, early fall morning.

Getting a toy for Little Bit, which was quite overwhelming.

I'm thinking about sprucing up my room with a succulent or two.

Taking a break during Wednesday afternoon's brutally hard tennis session.

PS. Happy Aaron Samuels Day! (h/t Katie for reminding me.)