December 31, 2012

Easy Chocolate Covered Pretzels

I hope y'all had a wonderful Christmas last week and are gearing up for New Year's Eve tonight! We had a wonderful time with family and friends, and we even had a white (day after) Christmas. I've had a white Valentines and a white Easter so I was excited to have an almost white Christmas in Tennessee. While we were visiting Lars's parents he came across some chocolate covered pretzels that he just couldn't get enough of so I decided to make some of our own when we got home. It is amazing how delicious these are when you look at how little effort they take!

I made two different types - some are covered in Andes mint chips and the others are simply white chocolate. I found the Andes mint chips in the grocery store with the regular chocolate chips and decided to give them a try, and I have to say, I was not disappointed.  I only used half of a one pound bag of pretzels, and it made enough that the two of us will be eating on them for days.

Chocolate Covered Pretzels

1/2 of a one pound bag of your favorite pretzels (brand and shape)
1/2 cup Andes mint chips (or regular chocolate chips)
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
smidge of shortening
1. Arrange pretzels on wax paper-lined baking sheets
2. Melt Andes mint chips in microwave on 50% power for 30 seconds at a time, stirring between each interval.
3. Drizzle chocolate on pretzels with spoon.
4. Melt white chocolate chips in microwave (the same way as the Andes mint chips) with a smidge of shortening.
5. Drizzle white chocolate on remaining pretzels with spoon.*
6. Allow chocolate to harden before storing in airtight container. (If they make it long enough to be put in a container!) Enjoy!

*I had a bit of trouble with drizzling my white chocolate with a spoon. Instead I put the melted chocolate in a plastic baggie, snipped off the corner, and "piped" the white chocolate on the pretzels. Also, if you want to use the whole bag of pretzels just double the amount of Andes mint chips and white chocolate chips that you melt.

December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

I hope you and your family have a wonderful and safe Christmas! We're headed to Tennessee to see family, and I'll be back on the 31st so make sure to come by and visit!

December 24, 2012

An Elf-Inspired Outfit

One of my favorite Christmas movies is Elf, and I love this Elf-inspired outfit that gets you in the holiday spirit!
Elf Inspired

December 21, 2012

Christmas Luxe

I love the thought of getting all dressed up for Christmas parties or even just a family gathering. I imagine that the outfit below would be the perfect low-key (but definitely luxurious) Christmas brunch hostess outfit. Simple, but elegant.

Christmas Luxe

December 20, 2012

Southwestern Egg Rolls

One of my favorite things to get at Chili's are their southwestern egg rolls, and I have finally found a recipe that tastes like those but are baked and don't have 3000mg of sodium in them! :)  I ran across the recipe on Pinterest and decided to give it a go. Typically what I attempt to make from Pinterest never turns out as planned, but these were great and super easy to make. Although my presentation is a bit lacking, you can still tell they look (and are!) delicious.

Southwestern Egg Rolls with Avocado Ranch
Makes ~20 rolls
Recipe adapted from here  

1 15 oz can corn, rinsed and drained
1 15 oz canned black beans, rinsed well and drained
1 10 oz block frozen spinach, thawed and drained
2 green onions, chopped small
2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese
1 4 oz can diced green chiles (mild or hot depending on your preferences)
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 garlic powder
1 package egg roll wrappers

1/2 cup ranch dressing (homemade or favorite store bought variety)
1/2 medium avocado
1 Tbsp cilantro, minced
1 tsp lime zest
1. Preheat oven to 400º. Line baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.
2. Thaw spinach per package directions and drain or squeeze dry with paper towels.
3. Combine all ingredients (corn down to salt) in a large mixing bowl. Stir well.
4. Use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to scoop mixture onto egg roll wrappers.
5. Wrap according to package directions.
6. Place in pan and brush tops of egg rolls with olive oil.
7. Bake for 15-20 minutes carefully turning once.
8. Make avocado ranch while the egg rolls are baking.
      -Combine the four ingredients in a mini food processor or a blender. Blend. Place in serving dish.
9. Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes.
10. Cut in half if desired, serve with avocado ranch, and enjoy!

** A couple notes: I was making these for just Lars and I so I cooked only half of them for dinner and lunch the next day. I froze the rest on a wax paper-lined baking sheet then transferred them into a freezer bag for a quick dinner or lunch later on. It works beautifully. If you don't have chili powder just use extra cayenne pepper or substitute in some smoked paprika. Additionally, if you are planning on serving all of the egg rolls at once, say at a party, double (if not triple) the ranch recipe. People love dips - it's always better to have more than not enough. Enjoy!

December 19, 2012

Easy DIY Christmas Ornaments

It was a tradition in my family growing up that each year the four of us would get a coordinating (or sometimes matching) set of ornaments to add to our tree. It's still fun to look at what we have and reminisce about where we got them, or in the case of childhood ornaments, when we made them. When Lars and I got married I wanted to start the same tradition in our family of two. We even have ornaments for the Christmases when we were dating, except for that one year in college where I didn't have room for a tree so I just drew one on a whiteboard...  :)

This year though, I couldn't find any ornaments that I really loved, plus we had forgotten to pick some up on our San Francisco trip this summer. (Trips are great places to pick up ornaments.) I couldn't stand the thought of having a year without its own ornaments so I decided to make some. My first attempt flopped, or maybe I should just say that it needs a bit of practice. Instead, I went by JoAnn today where they had all Christmas stuff 70% off and bought clear ornaments. I had purchased a tub of sequins there last week so I decided just to stuff sequins in the clear ornaments and hope for the best. What do you think?

They look quite good in the tree with the lights bouncing off of the sequins, and surprisingly enough, Lars likes them too! After writing "2012" on the bottoms of each I hung them in the tree (with paperclips - we're all out of typical ornament hangers). I love that for years to come I'll be able to look at my sequined ornaments and remember our 2012 Christmas together.

December 18, 2012

Emerald - The Pantone Color of 2013

I have to say, when Pantone declared emerald as the color of 2013 I was a little relieved. Simply because last year's color, tangerine, is not a color I can readily wear. Emerald, however, I can work with. What do you think? Is it a color for you?

Pantone 2013 - Emerald

December 17, 2012

Loft Bedrooms

As an avid reader there is something that always draws me to cozy bedrooms. Bedrooms that invite you to snuggle up with a blanket, a cup of tea, and a good book.

                                               Contemporary Bedroom design by Burlington Architect Birdseye Design

                                   Traditional Bedroom design by Boston Interior Designer Schranghamer Design Group

The top one is definitely my favorite!

December 16, 2012

Not Your Grandma's Prefab Home

Have y'all been seeing the prefab homes that have been popping up on design sites lately? They are definitely not what they used to be, and they definitely don't conjure up images of trailer parks anymore. Check out some of the amazing designs of these homes and offices and their unbelievable interiors. Yes - they really all are prefab homes!

                                                                                      Modern Exterior design

                                        Contemporary Exterior design by Other Metro Architect Stillwater Dwellings

                                      Modern Exterior design by Vancouver Architect PLACE, hl johnston architect ltd

                                        Modern Kitchen design by Vancouver Architect PLACE, hl johnston architect ltd

                                               Modern Kitchen design by New York Architect Resolution: 4 Architecture

                                                      Modern Garage And Shed design by Austin Design-build Sett Studio

                                                   Contemporary Prefab Studios design by Other Metro Decorated Shed

December 9, 2012

Rent the Runway

If you haven't heard of Rent the Runway, and you love (but usually can't afford) designer dresses you're in for a treat. I hadn't taken the time to check out Rent the Runway, but I recently received a coupon in my Birchbox. Um... how have I not taken advantage of this site before?! You can rent designer dresses and accessories for a fraction of their retail value, look fabulous at your event, and return the dress a few days later! My brother-in-law is getting married in January, and now all I have to do is choose which dress I'll rent and wear! My top two choices:

December 5, 2012

An Outdoor Christmas Party

Depending on where you live the words "outdoor" and "Christmas" don't always go hand in hand. I'm in Austin though, and today, 20 days from Christmas, it's supposed to be 75º so an outdoor Christmas party is right up my alley. I think this beautiful rustic Christmas table setting would make a family or friends get together feel Christmasy even if it doesn't feel like Christmas outside.

                               Traditional Dining Room design by Kansas City Media And Blogs Michelle Edwards

                                 Traditional Dining Room design by Kansas City Media And Blogs Michelle Edwards

                                Traditional Dining Room design by Kansas City Media And Blogs Michelle Edwards

                                Traditional Dining Room design by Kansas City Media And Blogs Michelle Edwards

                                    Traditional Dining Room design by Kansas City Media And Blogs Michelle Edwards

December 3, 2012

A Charlie Brown Tree

We don't have a good corner in this year's apartment for a large Christmas tree like I love so we opted instead to go for a Charlie Brown tree. Yes it's sitting on a TV tray, and yes, I did insist on still covering said TV tray with the tree skirt. :)  It wouldn't be a proper Christmas tree without it! Since there's no room around the tree, we're putting all of the presents at the base (aka: on the floor). It works, and it's surprisingly cheery. Lars even said that despite the fact that it was 82º today, it still felt like Christmas in our house. :)